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Author Topic: World on Fire reviews  (Read 4906 times)

Offline patch

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Re: World on Fire reviews
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2020, 08:38:16 AM »
Roush Review: Ambitious 'World on Fire' Rarely Ignites With Dramatic Surprise
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"Every war's different, until it’s the same," barks Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) as a pacifist father, shell-shocked since the Somme. Passing out peace pamphlets in Manchester, England, he's swimming against the tide: With the invasions of Poland and France, Nazi aggression has stirred the winds of warfare in 1939 and 1940 Europe.
The ambitious seven-part Masterpiece series World on Fire covers a lot of ground in its first season, but it still can't help feeling like every World War II drama you've ever seen. With a gaunt Helen Hunt on hand as an exposition machine of an American radio journalist, clinically reciting the latest dire headlines, Fire rarely ignites with dramatic surprise.

 Still, it's likely to satisfy an audience willing to wallow in old-fashioned heroics with the occasional modern flourish — an interracial gay romance, for instance, and a spunky heroine (Julia Brown) whose streak of independence and pride keeps her from being just another war bride. Although when she entertains the troops as a songbird, does her playlist have to be so on the nose ("After You've Gone," "Easy Living," "All I Do Is Dream of You")?
As Lois Bennett, working-class daughter of the aforementioned pacifist, Brown is easily Fire's greatest asset, especially once she unconventionally spurns her posh lover, international translator Harry Chase (sad-eyed matinee idol Jonah Hauer-King). The women generally come off best in this story, including Harry's other conquest, Kasia (Zofia Wichlacz), a waitress in Warsaw who stays behind to join the resistance and becomes a remorseless assassin.

Feckless in love and aimless in life, burdened by a cold snob of a mother (Lesley Manville, elevating the cliché), Harry eventually rises to the noble occasion at Dunkirk. Other tense sequences include a daring escape attempt from a hospital in Nazi-occupied Paris and a wrenching subplot about a family in Berlin trying to shelter their epileptic daughter from Hitler's "mercy killing" program of euthanasia.
By the cliffhanger end of the first season — unlike the recent Sanditon, we're promised a second — no one emerges unscathed by the horrors, losses and changes they've endured. And the Blitz hasn't even started yet.
World on Fire, Series Premiere, Sunday, April 5, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)
https://www.tvinsider.com/928847/world-on-fire-review-matt-roush/


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However, the biggest disappointment is the character of Douglas Bennett, played by the iconic Sean Bean. Lois and Tom’s father isn’t given much to do, particularly in the first three episodes. It’s a shame to have an actor as talented as Bean relegated to such a marginal role.
https://gazette.com/arts-entertainment/hitler-lights-the-match-that-sparks-world-war-ii-in-world-on-fire-tv-review/article_9fd30086-542a-11ea-bbe3-af456659d114.html


« Last Edit: April 01, 2020, 01:25:18 PM by patch »

Offline patch

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Re: World on Fire reviews
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2020, 04:43:17 AM »
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World on Fire (Sunday, PBS 9 p.m. on Masterpiece) is a new epic British series, very much an ensemble piece, set during the early years of the Second World War. That is, it’s very British in its emphasis on ordinary people and families dealing with extraordinary and ugly change, but its stories are found in multiple characters in Poland, England, France and Germany. At its centre, really, is a wealthy British woman, Robina (Lesley Manville, who is marvellous) whose son Harry (Jonah Hauer-King), is dating a working-class young woman, Lois (Julia Brown). Robina isn’t pleased. Lois’s father (Sean Bean) is a bus conductor who served in the First World war and hasn’t fully recovered. The father is a British hero but not the sort of person Robina wants anything to do with. In any case Harry departs for Poland where he becomes romantically involved with someone else. That is how the story spreads outward. On the evidence of early episodes, it’s a solid, nicely made period piece. But creator Peter Bowker is looking at these wartime families through a new lens – he’s adding issues of class, gender and sexuality that are contemporary in tone, and attaching them, sometimes awkwardly, to the material.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/article-home-before-dark-all-the-beguiling-charm-we-need-now/



PBS' Ensemble War Drama World on Fire Will Envelop You in Another Time and Place
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War isn’t just the setting here, either. Bowker’s characters often reckon with the costs of war, but they also tend to struggle with their own ideas about it. This is especially true of Bean and Manville’s characters (both excellent, which will surprise precisely no one who’s even seen either of them act in anything). Douglas, a pacifist still struggling with shellshock years after his experiences in the Battle of the Somme, struggles to with the parameters of beliefs that had seemed absolute, particularly when his troubled son (Ewan Mitchell) joins up. His intellectual and emotional struggles are further spurred by Robina, who seems to relish an uncomfortable conversation and has her own complicated relationship with the cost of war, albeit one she keeps sealed behind the traditional stiff upper lip.
https://www.rogerebert.com/demanders/world-on-fire-tv-review

« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 03:17:26 PM by patch »

Offline patch

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Re: World on Fire reviews
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2020, 10:41:48 AM »
'World on Fire': TV Review
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PBS' sprawling World War II drama stars Sean Bean, Lesley Manville and Helen Hunt as ordinary citizens involved in the European front.

On the classic 1980s sitcom Designing Women, lead character Charlene Frazier (Jean Smart) was known for her coquettish virtue and moony nostalgia. She often looked wistfully into the past, longing for the joyous days of Elvis (her own past) and the heart-wrenching years of World War II (her parents' past.) In fact, the show featured at least two extended dream sequences set in a canteen during the war, Charlene conjuring up her real-life friends as stock characters — cigarette girls, USO singers, Nazi-shooting colonels, etc. The CBS comedy satirized this romanticism but also reveled in it, indulging in the starry-eyed fantasy of war-as-passion that WWII re-enactors still carry on today with ersatz army uniforms and fresh victory rolls.
I thought of Designing Women frequently while watching PBS' ambitious seven-part World War II drama, World on Fire, the network's latest British acquisition for Masterpiece. (The series, from writer Peter Bowker, initially aired on BBC in the U.K. and has already been picked up for second season.) Tense but mawkish, the show follows the lives of numerous loosely connected Europeans and Americans during the first year of war, dabbling in secret marriages, shamed pregnancies and forbidden love affairs in between the occasional battle sequence. Like misty Charlene Frazier, World on Fire adapts modern tastes and social politics to draw a sentimental vision of bloodshed.

Simultaneously fast-paced and sluggish thanks to its overwhelmingly sprawling cast and subplots, the series can be imagined as a map of Europe with several intertwining lines connecting various cities. In our home base of Manchester, England, we're introduced to Douglas (Sean Bean), a bus driver and pacifist still haunted by the horrors of the First World War. His aggressive son, Tom (Ewan Mitchell), signs up for the British navy in lieu of going to jail for a petty crime, while his level-headed daughter, Lois (Julia Brown), wastes away in a factory pining for a posho boyfriend who's serving as a translator in Warsaw. She soon joins the war effort as a singer entertaining the troops.
Unbeknownst to Lois, however, impulsive Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) has fallen for a local waitress (Zofia Wichlacz) who's more interested in joining the Polish Resistance than living in domestic bliss with him in England. Instead, she sends her little brother home with Harry, who dumps the poor kid with his harridan mother, Robina (Oscar nominee Lesley Manville), a woman so gratuitously cruel and supercilious that her dialogue strains credulity. (For example, if you hadn't already figured out she's mean, Bowker has Robina point out that the razor her son is shaving his face with is the same instrument the boy's father used to end his own life.) Their kids may be blander than battlefield rations, but at least Bean and Manville share chemistry as emotional foils (one porous, the other poison).

Meanwhile, in Berlin, brassy American war correspondent Nancy Campbell (Oscar winner Helen Hunt) flouts Nazi intimidation to help her neighbors, the Rosslers, hide their daughter's epilepsy from Germany's new eugenicist policies. She's the closest thing the show has to a hammy, platitude-armed superhero: At one point she quips, “You don’t have to explain, Herr Rossler. She’s a dead Nazi. That’s good enough for me." In another scene, she flagrantly holds a knife to a Nazi Party officer's genitals as if she were in a deleted scene from Inglourious Basterds.
In Paris, Nancy's expatriate nephew Webster (Brian J. Smith), a doctor, falls for a French African jazz musician named Albert (Parker Sawyers) and is gutted when Albert is arrested for the crime of being black. Over the course of the season, each fraying plot thread gets entangled with another, resulting in a knotted storyline where Webster ends up treating wayward navy man Tom, and the Rosslers' soldier son goes around shooting things in Poland. (Given its geographical sweep, World on Fire includes many scenes performed in subtitled Polish, German and French.)

While not as dopey as recent British World War II soap The Halcyon or as dark as speculative alt-history drama SS-GB, World on Fire still lacks the technical finesse required for a war drama to stir the senses. The writing leans heavily on shocking brutality and drippy melodrama to drive the action, trying to squeeze tears out of us with crazed Nazis and noble suffering. When Harry asks his mother why she won't visit his love child, she cries, "Because it would break my heart, you foolish boy!" His face crumples: "When did you grow a heart?!" Later, she commends him for this insult. "It was witty, at least," she admits. If dialogue were actually effective, would it need to compliment itself?
The world wars are trending content right now. With the rise of fascism and strongman leaders across the globe, entertainment like the Oscar-winning 1917 and HBO's The Plot Against America exist not just to shed light on the past, but to reflect current political uncertainties. World on Fire is desperate to connect the then and the now, portraying every woman as a strident protofeminist and endowing every character with the wisdom of a 21st century therapist who has specialized training in trauma and oppression. (Sorry, I just don't buy that this many people in the 1940s were sensitive to the pain of refugees, veterans with PTSD or persecuted queer folk.) Worst of all, World on Fire doesn't teach me anything about the Second World War that hasn't been explored countless times in other formats.
Premieres Sunday, April 5, 9 p.m. (PBS)
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/world-fire-review-1288496


PBS debuts WWII drama 'World on Fire' while world is on fire
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The timing for original PBS "Masterpiece" World War II drama "World on Fire" (9 p.m. Sunday, WQED-TV) may help it (world in chaos is familiar at the moment as is the notion of people banding together to help one another) or hurt it (stop the world, I want to get off!). Either way, “World on Fire” plays like a mainstream broadcast network miniseries circa 1988.
That’s not a knock. It’s kind of cool to have this sort of story back on TV, an old-school format that follows disparate characters in desperate times. If you liked “The Winds of War,” this should be a nice reminder of that ABC classic.
http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/41692-pbs-debuts-wwii-drama-world-on-fire-while-world-is-on-fire


'World on Fire' offers its own heroics
https://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/World-on-Fire-offers-its-own-heroics-15179406.php



« Last Edit: April 04, 2020, 03:48:59 PM by patch »

Offline patch

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Re: World on Fire reviews
« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2020, 11:17:32 AM »
Review: Struggle. Sacrifice. Cooperation. PBS drama ‘World on Fire’ shows how to win a war
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2020-04-05/pbs-world-on-fire-sean-bean-helen-hunt



'World on Fire' sets a 'Masterpiece' melodrama against the onset of World War II
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War stories have always provided fertile backdrops for romance, and this one is no exception. "World on Fire" isn't always a picnic to watch, but like the British audience that became hooked on it last fall, once you've been sucked in, it's awfully hard to look away.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/05/entertainment/world-on-fire-review/

« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 12:08:33 PM by patch »