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LG G3 OLED review: LG’s brightest OLED TV ever delivers elite pictures
5:46 pm | September 22, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

LG G3: Two-minute review

The LG G3 is the latest flagship OLED TV from the company that has put OLED on the map more than any other. The G3 is another landmark set, though, taking brightness to a new level for LG, and besting what’s come before in many ways.

The LG G3 is priced like a premium flagship TV too, though its price has dropped somewhat since its launch in March 2023 – though the Samsung S95C is a similarly specified TV that’s available for less at the time of writing (though the two will battle this out in price drops, no doubt). With the G3 ranging in sizes from 55-inch to 83-inch (although the 83-inch has a less-bright panel so will perform differently), there’s an option for nearly all home theater lovers, although if you need smaller you can always look at the LG C3, which also ranks among the best OLED TVs.

With the introduction of Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology to improve brightness in its already fantastic OLED Evo panel, plus a new generation of image processor, the G3’s picture quality is phenomenal. Vibrant colors and crisp textures work in harmony with deep blacks and dynamic contrast, making the picture of the G3 nothing short of sensational – at the very top of what you can get from the world’s best TVs.

Although built-in sound in the G3 is decent, with a surprising amount of bass in some sound modes and clear dialogue generally, the LG G3 could benefit from one of the best soundbars to match the excellent quality of its picture. If stronger built-in audio quality is essential to you, you may want to look at TVs such as the Sony A80L and even the Samsung S90C.

As far as gaming goes, the LG G3 is a paradise. With extensive gaming features and compatibility including 4K 120Hz support on all four 2.1 HDMI ports, Dolby Vision gaming at 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM, this is as well-specced as it gets for games. Put all this with an intuitive Game Dashboard menu and extremely useful Game Optimizer picture mode, and it’s hard to fault. 

LGs smart TV platform, webOS 23, is intuitive and more streamlined than last year’s software, webOS 22, and offers you greater customization options in terms of categorizing apps via its Quick Card option and also tailors recommendations on what you want to look for. Thankfully, webOS 23 has also toned down the amount of recommendations compared to last year as well, because they were a little overwhelming.

In terms of design, the G3 is a stunning TV, with a sleek, bezel-less build that looks elegant when mounted on a wall. Still, though, it’s extremely frustrating that for people who want to put this TV on a stand, a desktop stand is not included and will cost you extra – it only comes with a special gap-free wall-mount.

If you’re looking for a TV to suit any situation including gaming, movie marathons or daytime viewing, with image quality that’s as good as anything else on the market, the LG G3 is definitely one of your top choices. There are cheaper high-quality OLEDs out there, such the LG C3 or Sony A80L, but they sacrifice brightness or other features compared to the G3. The biggest competitor is the Samsung S95C, which we rate slightly higher due to its better sound and great external connections box, creating slightly better value overall – but the G3 should definitely be one of your options if you’re looking to buy one of the best 4K TVs available today.

For this review, we tested the 65-inch version of the LG G3. 

LG G3 with mountainous landscape on screen

The LG G3 looks stunning with Dolby Vision content and shines with landscape shots  (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: price and release date

  •  Released in March 2023 
  •  From $2,099 / £1,999 / AU$4,195 (55-inch)
  •  Up to $5,799 / £5,999 / AU$10,995 for the 83-inch 

The G3 is one of LG’s most elite OLEDs, sitting only below the LG M3 and its wild wireless tech, and the 8K Z3 series. At the time of its release in March 2023, pricing for the G3 started from $2,099 / £1,999 / AU$4,195 for the 55-inch version, $2,799 / £2,699 / AU$5,295 for the 65-inch, $3999 / £4,299 / AU$8,395 for the 77-inch and  $5,799 / £5,999 / AU$10,995 for the 83-inch version. This was competitively priced with its closest competitor, the Samsung S95C. 

At the time of writing, several months after release, prices for the LG G3 have dropped but it still remains well into the higher end of the OLED market. However, expensive as it may be, compared to similarly specced TVs such as the Samsung S95C or Sony A95L, the G3’s price remains competitive.  

LG G3 review: Specs

Rear of LG G3 showing connections and ports

The LG G3 has a lot of connectivity options, including four 2.1 HDMI ports (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Features

  •  Micro Lens Array (MLA) OLED Evo panel  
  •  Alpha 9 Gen6 processor 
  •  4K 120Hz with Dolby Vision support for gaming 

OLED technology continues to evolve, and the LG G3 features what LG refers to as Brightness Booster Max; a light-boosting technology that LG claims makes the G3 70% brighter than previous generation OLEDs. 

The key bit of technology in LG G3 to achieve this is Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology, which is a layer of microscopic lenses that sit in a layer above the OLED panel and enable much more of the light from the panel to reach your eyes. Absent from the more affordable LG C3, this MLA tech makes the G3 stand out in LG’s line-up. The LG G3 supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG HDR formats, but as with all LG TVs, it doesn’t support HDR10+.

In terms of gaming features, the LG G3 covers a lot of bases, with Dolby Vision gaming support, four HDMI 2.1 ports rated for 4K 120Hz, with VRR including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, ALLM and HGiG compatibility. Coupled with the Alpha 9 Gen6 processor, the G3 is packing some serious performance for gaming and picture processing.

The 4.2-channel speaker system, with Dolby Atmos and DTS compatibility, aims to improve on the audio performance of other OLEDs in order to attain a sound that can complement the picture on screen. 

The overhauled smart TV software, webOS 23, has access to all the major apps including Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video and Apple TV Plus to name a few. A new Quick Cards system in the home screen categorizes apps by genre such as Sport, Music and so on, and its main home menu has had ads and recommendations reduced, allowing the webOS 23 home screen to fit over two pages as opposed to the four it was spread over last year, leading to a neater-looking homepage.

  • Features score: 5/5

LG G3 with John Wick on screen

Contrast is brilliant and people look natural, as shown here in John Wick: Chapter 2. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Picture quality

  •  Brilliant brightness levels 
  •  Detailed and natural image 
  •  Deep black levels 

Let’s start with some numbers: with the LG G3 in Filmmaker HDR mode, we measured peak brightness at an impressive 1,449 nits on a 10% window, which actually tops the Samsung S95C’s 1,400 nits, making this marginally the brightest OLED we’ve measured so far. It hit a respectable 219 nits on a full 100% window, but that’s notably lower than the 265 nits we measured for the S95C.

LG suggested the G3 would have a 70% brightness increase on previous generations of its OLED TVs, and with these numbers, we can confirm it. Last year’s LG G2, measured in the bright Vivid mode in our review, hit 1,000 nits in a 10% window and the LG C3, in the same Filmmaker mode as the G3, hit just over half the G3’s result with 830 nits. The G3’s MLA panel has certainly boosted the peak brightness by a substantial amount.

During this test, I used the 65-inch G3 and it’s worth noting that the 83-inch G3 does not include MLA, so is likely to perform closer to the LG G2’s results for brightness, although we have yet to confirm this for ourselves. 

In Filmmaker HDR mode again, the LG yielded some great results with its color accuracy, delivering an average Delta-E value of just under three. This demonstrates the difference between a color test pattern and what’s shown on screen, and we’re happy that anything under three is accurate enough for TV viewing. DCI-P3 coverage (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) was 98% and BT.2020 was 73.8%, both of which are very good results. Grayscale Delta-E values, testing black levels and contrast accuracy, averaged around 1.9, which is another excellent result. 

One thing I noticed straight away was how well the G3, with its MLA panel and anti-glare screen, made easy work of the testing room’s bright, overhead lights and spotlights when we pushed them high to see how it fared. Only the reflection of some awkwardly placed overhead lights was visible, so the LG G3 should be fine with generally bright indoor lights. The Samsung S95C’s higher full-screen brightness will be a little better for really bright, sunlit rooms – though neither holds a candle to mini-LED TVs such as the Samsung QN95C. Nevertheless, with only minor reflections, it’s still extremely impressive how well the G3 handled the bright testing facility.

The out-of-the-box picture is certainly impressive on the LG G3. I cycled through several of the picture presets to test the G3 for color, sharpness, contrast and also brightness, seeing just what the MLA panel could do. Using a couple of scenes from The Batman to test these presets, starting with one scene where Batman lights a bright flare to guide people in a darkened, flooded room. Standard mode had a decent enough picture with bright color, but black levels weren’t as deep and brightness was pushed a little too far. 

However, switching to Cinema mode, the contrast was more balanced, enabling the G3 to show how it can accentuate shadows, giving a rich detail to the overall picture. The G3’s Filmmaker mode added further to this, giving the flare a subtle, yet vibrant feel that made it stand out without blowing out. In another scene, where Batman first appears in a subway fight, black levels were outstanding as the shadows and Batman’s suit looked truly dark without losing any detail. 

Testing Dolby Vision HDR content, again in Filmmaker mode, I streamed a lightsaber fight from Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Disney Plus. In it, the lightsabers’ colors were punchy and dynamic without being too glaring. Red was a very prominent color in the scene, as guards, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber and a chunk of the background were all red, but the G3 handled the vibrancy well, keeping a natural, yet flashy look with all the red in the scene.  

Using the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray to test more HDR content, a range of demo material highlighted the phenomenal picture quality of the G3 even further. Several snowy scenes showcased how the G3 can handle vivid whites without overdoing them and keeping a natural feel. During some landscape night shots of a city, contrast levels were excellent, with the black of the night sky contrasting well with the bright lights of the buildings. 

As for motion, the G3 handled fast paced action scenes with ease. Again in The Batman, during the Batmobile chase, the darting cars looked fluid, with the G3 (with little to no motion processing on in Filmmaker mode) making light work of this testing scene. Also, during both the training and final missions of Top Gun: Maverick, the G3s’ processor effortlessly handled the swooping fighter jets, as they careered through the air at a blinding pace, still managing to keep the detail and quality of the picture. 

If you find yourself drawn to a brighter picture mode such as Standard – but not Vivid, which should be avoided at all costs – motion processing called Trumotion does create the dreaded ‘soap opera’ effect, but thankfully the G3 picture settings give you ample settings to tweak to avoid this. However, if you want the best picture, my advice is to stick with Filmmaker mode as it makes the G3 shine, putting it up there with the best OLED TVs

  • Picture quality score: 5/5

Upfiring speakers of LG G3

The LG G3 has a 4.2-channel speaker system, with speaker around the edge helping to position sounds to match the screen. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Sound quality

  •  4.2-channel speaker setup 
  •  Good, clear sound with Cinema mode  
  •  Dolby Atmos and DTS support 

Featuring a multi-speaker setup, the G3 looks to add a more positional sound system than the average TV. There are a variety of different sound preset sound modes for the G3’s TV speakers, which come with varying degrees of success.

The Standard TV preset was solid, with clear enough dialogue and good treble levels, although it was lacking in bass and the volume needed to be pushed more than on other sound modes. 

Cinema mode was definitely an upgrade, with a much deeper bass, better overall balance and thankfully, there was no sacrifice to other sounds. While watching The Batman, during the car chase scene, the rumble of the Batmobile’s engine was thunderous through the G3’s speakers in Cinema mode, with the trumpet led score still nice and clear. Dolby Atmos effects such as rain were still present but a little harder to hear.

Another sound mode featured is AI Sound Pro, one of LG’s sound technologies that in the G3 mixes sound from incoming sources to a claimed 9.1.2 mix in an effort to create a more immersive experience. When played through the same car chase in The Batman, overall volume was much louder and Dolby Atmos effects were amplified, with the rain coming through clearer in the mix. However, it became apparent that the bass had been reduced in favor of the other main channels, including dialogue. This ended up giving a more ‘clinical sound’ in comparison to Cinema, but for programs with a lot of speech, including a cooking show I watched on live TV, it definitely improved speech levels. 

The G3 also features an Auto Acoustic Tuning mode which promises to balance levels using mics in the remote, although during our test there didn’t seem to be a great deal of difference. The G3 also has the WOW Orchestra feature that combines the speakers of the TV with a compatible LG soundbar (rather than replacing the TV’s speakers with the soundbar), but I didn’t test that during my time.

The G3’s TV sound is good enough from its built-in speakers, with the highlights being Cinema mode and AI Sound Pro (for certain situations), but if you are looking for an immersive sound to go with the G3’s fantastic picture, you’re better off looking at one of the best soundbars to pair with it. If you do want a TV with more powerful, built-in audio, you’ll want to look at the Samsung S95C – our reviewers who’ve tried both recommend its sound higher. As far as TV speakers go, though, the G3 is still well above average.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

LG G3 from a side angle on a stand

With an elegant, sleek frame, the G3 is a good-looking TV. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Design

  •  Elegant, slim design 
  •  Flush fitting to wall 
  •  Optional stand at extra cost is frustrating 

The G3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors of the ‘Gallery’ range of TVs, with an attractive slim design that makes it look effortlessly sleek on the wall. In terms of the frame itself, its silver and metallic design make it not only look good, but also feel solid. 

This is saying a lot, considering the actual TV itself measures at a delightfully thin 2.4cm (just under 1 inch) so you’d be forgiven for thinking the TV will feel flimsy, but thankfully it doesn’t. In fact, it’s quite a heavy and solid beast.

A special flush-to-the-wall wall mount for the TV is provided in the box and sits near the top on the rear of the TV itself, which admittedly does feel like an odd place to put it, with the majority of the weight towards the bottom of the set. However, one welcome return from last year's G2 is that the included slim-fit mount does have some movement to it, enabling you to access the back of the TV to change any inputs or cables if you need to, rather than having to take the TV on and off the wall every time.

During our test, it’s worth noting that we had the optional stand attached to allow us to place it onto our cabinet. Sadly, much like the G2, this stand is not included and neither are any type of feet. Despite the visually appealing and sturdy nature of the stand, it means people looking to place their G3 on any furniture will have to pay extra ($149 / £99), so factor that into the cost.

The supplied remote, LG’s Magic Remote, a staple inclusion with LG’s TVs over the past couple of years, makes a return and still features the same voice control options, buttons and layout as before. The central wheel can still be a little fiddly to navigate menus but is definitely a quicker alternative to the normal arrows. The pointer can also sometimes feel a bit sensitive, but once you get used, it does make navigating the G3 easier.

  • Design score: 4/5

LG G3 main home menu on screen

The webOS 23 software streamlines the home menu of the G3 and adds Quick Cards for customization. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Smart TV and menus

  •  Intuitive and easy-to-use smart platform 
  •  Streamlined compared to previous year 
  •  Quick cards allows for great customization 

The G3 is loaded with LG’s smart platform, webOS 23. LG has improved on the Home screen from last year, condensing it down onto two pages rather than the several pages it was the year before. The glaring ads and recommendations have all been toned down as well, making for a much more user-friendly smart platform.

Navigating and changing settings such as picture mode, sound output (if you’re switching from TV speakers to a soundbar for example) and sleep timer is also extremely easy. A quick menu appears on the left hand side of the screen when you press the settings button (the gear icon) on the remote and these options are clearly displayed in an easy-to-use menu. For more advanced settings, the main settings page can easily be accessed and thankfully, this too is neatly laid out into four logical categories; Picture, Sound, General and Support.

The latest feature added to webOS is the introduction of Quick Cards on the main hub. Above the usual line of apps, which can be moved and customized, there sits a group of larger icons listed with titles like Game, Music, Sports. These can actually be used to organize your apps by theme, making for even greater user customization.

Another new feature is the built-in, hands-free voice control. By enabling this feature, you simply say ‘Hi LG’ and the LG awaits your commands. During my test, I found that although it was very responsive and quick to find results, it would sometimes cut me off early and didn’t take me to where I wanted to go. Although frustrating at times, it can be useful.

  • Smart TV and menus score: 4.5/5

LG G3 with Battlefield V and game bar on screen

The G3 has a game menu to tweak settings to get the best out of video games  (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Gaming

  •  Game Optimizer mode and menu  
  •  4K 120Hz Dolby Vision support 
  •  Smooth and fluid motion during gameplay 

The LG G3 is packed with gaming features, including four HDMI 2.1 ports all rated for 4K 120Hz, giving gamers with multiple next-gen consoles plenty of space to plug them in and get the best out of them , whilst still leaving room for a soundbar. With VRR including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility, and ALLM, the LG G3 offers a plethora of choice and support for gamers. 

When measuring input lag at 4K 60Hz, the LG G3 yielded a result of 12.9ms, a respectable score. But using the Game Optimizer feature to place input delay into Boost mode improved this result to 9.2ms, which is among the best in class.

When playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, I turned on the Game Optimizer picture mode to turn off any unwarranted ‘enhancements’ within its settings, like judder reduction or motion blur, to get the best out of the game. The motion within the game, running at 120fps, was smooth and clean, managing to feel fast paced without feeling sickening or jerky in any places. Panning and swapping between targets was a breeze and kept the action feeling pacy. 

Game Optimizer mode also managed to keep depth and details within the graphics, highlighting just how good the G3’s display was. In a stealth mission whilst infiltrating an air base in a rocky landscape, even terrain and small details such as bushes and stones looked natural, with the greens and browns still popping on screen despite darkened lighting. The sharpness of the picture gave everything a defined edge without being too defined, a problem that can occur within the sharpness detail of some TVs. 

Also featured was the Game Dashboard menu, which gave lots of opportunity for picture and sound adjustments to get the gaming experience just right. I switched between the ‘Standard’ and ‘First person shooter’ (FPS) picture options and you could see the difference having Battlefield V (a FPS) in the correct mode made, with motion becoming even more fluid compared to the ‘Standard’ game picture mode and lighting conditions improving to highlight hidden enemies. 

Much like its predecessors, the LG G3 has stellar gaming features. A wealth of connectivity and compatibility, the G3 is definitely a top choice for gamers. Paired with outstanding picture quality, the G3 finds itself amongst the best gaming TVs

  • Gaming score: 5/5

LG G3 remote in person's hand

LG's Magic Remote is featured with the G3 and offers a pointer and mic options (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Value

  •  Most competitively priced with high-end TVs 
  •  Excellent performance and picture quality 
  •  A couple of minus points compared to equivalent sets  

The LG G3 is no doubt a high-end TV, and as such comes with a matching price tag. The picture quality, gaming features and increased brightness compared to normal OLED panels mean you’re getting a lot of TV for that cash, though. 

The G3’s closest rival, the Samsung S95C, is almost identical in price in a lot of territories and it looks like the competition over which of these two TVs is slightly cheaper will be hot, but with no stand included, weaker sound and lower full-screen brightness than the Samsung S95C (and given the S95C's great external connections box), the LG G3 isn’t quite as good value for money, despite beating it in some ways. 

If you are looking for a premium OLED TV, you expect to pay the money. Thankfully, since its release, the G3’s prices have dropped notably. An outstanding, detailed picture and excellent game performance definitely make this a TV worth its money – we just think Samsung S95C ekes a little more out.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

LG G3 with lake view on screen

Another landscape showing off the G3s' phenomenal picture quality  (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the LG G3?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

LG G3 review: Also consider

How I tested the LG G3

LG G3 with snowy scene and wooden fence on screen

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Display's Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

After running in the TV to ensure the best OLED performance, I began to test the LG G3 with a couple of different sources including gaming on an Xbox Series X and 4K Blu-ray discs, plus streaming content from several streaming services, including Disney Plus.

After assessing its presets, I chose the LG G3 most natural preset, Filmmaker mode, and began to watch things primarily on this picture mode (though this doesn't work with Dolby Vision). I used a number of 4K Blu-rays to look at elements such as color, sharpness, black levels, brightness and motion. I also streamed content from various sources, including Disney Plus for streamed Dolby Vision HDR, and watch live broadcast digital TV.

The next step was to take measurements of the G3, using Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. I measured the peak brightness on a 10% and 100% white window, with both HDR and SDR. I then measured grayscale, gamma and color accuracy, again using Calman, to provide average Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for each of these categories. I also measured color space looking at DCI-P3 and BT.2020 coverage. For all these tests, I used the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator to create the patterns being measured.

To analyze input lag for the G3, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K Input Lag tester.

Shadow and Bone season 2 review: hit Netflix fantasy show’s return is a magic-fuelled mishmash
11:32 am | March 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off
Shadow and Bone season 2: key information

- Launches on Thursday, March 16
- All eight episodes drop on the same date
- Based on Leigh Bardugo's fantasy book series
- Created by Eric Heisserer
- Stars Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, and Archie Renaux among others
- Picks up two weeks after the season 1 finale

Minor spoilers follow for Shadow and Bone season 2. 

Shadow and Bone seems perfectly placed to become Netflix’s new flagship fantasy TV series. With the diminishing popularity of The Witcher and the cancellation of fan-favorite shows like Warrior Nun, Netflix needs a new fantasy champion. Shadow and Bone, then, could be the savior it’s looking for.

Unfortunately, Shadow and Bone season 2 doesn’t do enough to suggest it’s on track to take on that mantle. Unlike Shadow and Bone’s first season, this isn’t a wholly faithful adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling books, with some baffling creative decisions cramping its style. There’s a lot to like about the show’s latest entry, but its positives are nullified in such a way that it’s not as spellbinding as it could be. 

Light and shade

Alina uses her sun summoning powers as Mal watches on in Shadow and Bone season 2

Alina and Mal are back for Shadow and Bone season 2. (Image credit: Netflix)

Shadow and Bone season 2 picks up two weeks after the first season’s finale. Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and Mal Oretsov (Archie Renaux) continue their quest to locate more amplifiers to boost Alina’s Sun Summoning powers, destroy The Fold, and stop General Kirigan/The Darkling (Ben Barnes) for good. Meanwhile, Kirigan, who survived the Volcra’s attack in The Fold, tends to his wounds as he concocts a new plan to laud it over the Grishaverse.

After aiding Alina in the fight against Kirigan, The Crows – led by Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) – return to Ketterdam. However, rival gang leader Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly) has seized their establishments and framed them for crimes they didn’t commit. Add Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), who seeks The Crows’ help in breaking her partner Matthias (Calahan Skogman) out of Hellgate prison, into the mix, and Brekker and company have plenty to deal with.

Like Shadow and Bone season 1, the show’s latest installment divides its time between two primary narratives. Well, initially at least. Alina and The Crows’ storylines are the main focus of Shadow and Bone season 2, but it’s the branching out into subplots, side quests, and other narrative offshoots that distinguish this season from what came before. 

Wildly different personas collide with a satisfying regularity throughout

Broken into its constituent parts, the show’s second season centers on five storylines. That quintet comprises Alina and Mal’s journey, Matthias’ imprisonment in Hellgate, Kirigan’s burgeoning masterplan, and two concerning The Crows. Of the latter duo, the first is a chaotically-assembled, brand-new tale that sees Brekker and co take on Rollins’ criminal empire. The second Crows-centric plot – one that draws them back into Alina and Kirigan’s orbits – is a far more entertaining and suspenseful spectacle. 

The Crows, Wylan, and Nina look out at a prison under the cover of dark in Shadow and Bone season 2

The Crows get two story arcs in the show's second season. (Image credit: Netflix)

Regardless, Shadow and Bone season 2 flits between its plots with a pleasing fluidity, competently expanding on the size and scope of season 1 through its examination of the Grishaverse’s history and useful lore, new locations, and character introductions (more on these later).

However, one of Shadow and Bone 2’s main problems is how much time it dedicates to each storyline. Understandably, it’s weighted in favor of Alina’s story – she’s the series’ main protagonist and its hero, so her journey takes precedence over The Crows’, Kirigan’s, and Matthias’. Even so, Kirigan’s season 2 story arc – outside of crossing over with Alina’s, initially in a dreamscape manner akin to the Force Dyad bond seen in Star Wars' sequel film trilogy – is thematically dense and captivating enough to deserve more screen time. 

Matthias’ Hellgate-based story is even less developed and, in some respects, an unnecessary inclusion. Ironically, its plot starts to get interesting later in the season, when a certain individual is locked up alongside everyone’s favorite Fjerdan. But, while this story belatedly bubbles away with intrigue, events that follow only act as vexing teases for what’s to come in a potential third season.

It’s General Kirigan and Kaz Brekker’s individual character arcs that are examined most closely, and in tantalizing detail

Equally, the transition between some scenes occurs in a way that oversimplifies specific plot points, even if they help the season proceed at a satisfying pace. One example, which sees Mal and Alina separated in episode 4 for reasons I won’t spoil, leads to their reunion in episode 5 in baffling circumstances, with Mal explaining his absence with a reductive throwaway line. Moments like these detract from the drama and tension that Shadow and Bone 2 tries to tee up, serving as nothing more than eye-twitching irritations.

A scarred General Kirigan looks upset in Shadow and Bone season 2

Season 2 should have leaned more into Kirigan and Alina's verbal dreamscape-style skirmishes. (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

Those issues are small fry, though, compared to the bewildering narrative deviations Shadow and Bone season 2 takes from its source material. Showrunner Eric Heisserer forewarned diehard fans that the show’s next installment would pull from three novels – Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising, and Six of Crows – to tell its tales. Longtime fans, then, weren’t expecting season 2 to be a beat-for-beat retread of the book series’ storylines.

Even so, nothing prepared me for how radically different Shadow and Bone season 2 is from the novels. Again, this is a largely spoiler-free zone, but I was surprised – even frustrated at times – at the direction of certain narratives and plot points, including how season 2 ends. These big and arguably redundant changes are sure to irritate and even upset fans of Bardugo’s novels. 

Given the outcry over The Witcher season 2’s narrative deviations, plus those rumored to appear in The Witcher season 3, I would have expected Netflix and Shadow and Bone’s creative team to approach things differently here. Okay, diverging from the books’ plot-beats gives long-time fans something new to engage with, and brings a sense of originality to proceedings, just like season 1 did. However, I can’t help but view these changes – especially in the season 2 finale, which drags its heels in how much it sets up for the show’s likely third season – as unwarranted alterations that many fans will take exception to.

Grisha growth and alluring additions 

Nikolai Lantsov puts his hands on a table as he look as someone off camera in Shadow and Bone season 2

Nikolai Lantsov is a pleasing addition to Shadow and Bone's TV ranks. (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

Refreshingly, Shadow and Bone season 2’s predilection for thematic exploration and character development – for new and returning characters – blesses it with some truly engrossing content.

For one, Alina and Mal’s relationship runs the full gamut of emotions. Initially, there’s a tender awkwardness to the pair’s burgeoning romance, a sweet but sickly teenage-like love that’s unwavering no matter what’s thrown at them. Eventually, world-shattering challenges present themselves that put the duo’s bond to the ultimate test, which serves to exponentially ramp the tension up.

Vital as it is to explore Alina and Mal’s dynamic, it’s Kirigan and Brekker’s individual character arcs that are examined most closely, and in tantalizing detail.

In Kirigan’s case, Shadow and Bone 2 trains a lens on the physical and psychological pain inflicted upon him by Alina and company, as well as further examining the loneliness that pains him after centuries of existence. Despite the evident darkness within him, the sequel season’s exploration of his humanity is moving. His trauma, though largely self-inflicted, is similarly relatable, and speaks to the fallibility that every Shadow and Bone character is imbued with. 

Kaz and Inej share a moment in a dimly lit room in Shadow and Bone season 2

Kaz Brekker's PTSD and trauma is explored extensively in season 2. (Image credit: Timea Saghy/Netflix)

Speaking of trauma, Brekker’s mental and emotional anguish is explored through flashback sequences, which directly impact the errant decisions he makes – choices that inevitably drive a wedge between him as his closest confidants, Inej (Anita Suman) and Jesper (Kit Young). Brekker’s mix of anger and pride over his past creates a fascinating fraying of tensions between the trio and anyone else caught up in their escapades, particularly in the first of the Crows’ season 2 storylines. Plot-wise, The Crows versus Rollins’ gang is a messy affair. As a character study or wider examination of the fragility of relationships, though, it rises above its season 2 peers.

Another welcome aspect is the addition of fan-favorite characters from the books, who are given plenty of scenery to chew as the season progresses. 

Nikolai Lantsov, the swashbuckling Ravkan Prince-turned-Privateer who becomes one of Alina and Mal’s most trusted allies, is portrayed with panache, charisma, and emotional intelligence by Patrick Gibson (Tolkien). Even in his introductory scene, where Lantsov – who also goes by the alias Sturmhond – is seemingly positioned as an antagonist, Gibson’s likeability makes it hard not to immediately warm to him.

Nothing prepared me for how radically different Shadow and Bone season 2 is from the novels

The inclusion of twins Tolya Yul-Bataar (Lewis Tan) and Tamar Kir-Bataar (Anna Leong Brophy), Lantsov’s lieutenants, also brings a fun-fuelled sibling rivalry and unique characterization to the table. Add the shy but no-less-charming demolition expert Wylan Hendriks (Jack Wolfe) – who joins The Crows and Nina – into the equation, and Shadow and Bone season 2 is emboldened by its new arrivals. The manner of their character introductions feels seamless, too, helping each to feel a natural part of the Grishaverse. As such, there’s no need for any MacGuffin-style storytelling to insert them into their respective plots.

Tolya and Tamar wield their weapons as they look at something off camera in Shadow and Bone season 2

Tolya and Tamar add humor, heart, and bad-assery in equal measure to proceedings. (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

With a potent new collection of supporting characters, plus the return of other favorites, such as Genya (Daisy Head), Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta), David (Luke Pasqualino), and Baghra (Zoe Wanamaker), there's the potential for season 2 crafts new, interesting, and fun team-ups that'll pique viewers' curiosity.

Shadow and Bone season 2 emphatically delivers on that front. Wildly different personas collide with a satisfying regularity throughout, with each new relationship supplying humor, tenderness, and melodrama in spades. Each dynamic feels novel and unforced, regardless of how season 2’s multiple storylines weave in and out of one another. The culmination of these mash-ups is a thrilling, high-octane, and crowd-pleasing crescendo that unfolds in the season’s climactic battle – occurring in episode 7, not episode 8 – and pays dividends on the new relationships built across each episode. If nothing else, it makes up for the somewhat predictable nature of episode 7’s (and the season’s) multifaceted showdown – one that, like the other battles in season 2, is at once both enjoyable and trite.

My verdict

Shadow and Bone season 2 is a two-headed beast. On the one hand, it’s a gripping, spookier, and darker entry in the series, with its character studies and rich themes cementing its position as one of the best Netflix shows around. On the other, it’s a narratively inconsistent installment that, while absorbing and shocking in some areas, perplexingly substitutes elements of its source material for story beats that will only displease the fans of the novels. Contextually, the manner in which season 2 kicks off means that some viewers will be best served by rewatching the season 1 finale in order to reacquaint themselves with where the show left off.

More casual viewers will likely find Shadow and Bone season 2 to be an enjoyable experience. For me, though, it doesn’t quite stick the superpowered, magic, and Small Science-infused landing. I’m sure other members of Shadow and Bone’s ardent fanbase will perceive similar faults with its storytelling approach, or with other aspects of its eight-episode run. Fundamentally, these issues weigh Shadow and Bone 2 down and, unless it rectifies such glaring errors in future seasons, it will fall short of achieving the lofty position of the best Netflix fantasy series.

Shadow and Bone season 2 launches in full on Netflix on Thursday, March 16.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania review – Kang rules a messy Marvel caper
8:00 pm | February 14, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: key info

- Arrives in theaters on February 17
- Third movie in Ant-Man's film series
- First project in Marvel's Phase 5 slate
- Written by Jeff Loveness
- Directed by Peyton Reed
- Stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Jonathan Majors among others

Ant-Man and its sequel – Ant-Man and the Wasp – both served as fairly low-stakes, largely standalone stories in the interconnected Marvel universe. For fans watching every Marvel movie in order, these fun heist films acted like palate cleansers amid the sweeping, universe-shaking storylines playing out across its siblings. For Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) newcomers, they work just fine on their own, too.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the opposite. The first Marvel Phase 5 movie hinges on viewers having watched the other two Ant-Man films (at the very least). Equally, it's tasked with setting up the conflict between the MCU's superheroes and the next multi-film big bad, aka Kang the Conqueror, played with outstanding pathos here by Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country).

As the opening act to a bigger story, Quantumania feels suitably interesting. It's a sweeping sci-fi epic in a bizarre alien world rather than a low-key heist, which sets up Majors’ Kang as a force to be reckoned with. However, as a singular entity, it feels somewhat overloaded, with main characters and their personal arcs lost among a wave of CGI, and a performance by Majors that runs circles around his scene partners. 

Small heroes, big villain

Kang speaks to an off-screen Scott Lang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Kang's second appearance in the MCU is an even stronger setup for the over-arching villain he'll be. (Image credit: Marvel)

Ant-Man 3's plot follows three generations of size-changing superheroes: Paul Rudd's Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Evangeline Lily's Hope Van Dyne/Wasp, Michael Douglas' Hank Pym, and Michelle Pfeiffer's Janet Van Dyne all returning from the diminutive hero's first two outings. The quartet are joined by Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang, Scott’s teenage daughter who, without spoiling too much, adopts her own superhero pseudonym during the course of the flick. Chaos ensues when all five are sucked into the subatomic Quantum Realm, where they grapple with Majors’ Kang, a technologically advanced multiversal warlord. 

The heart of the film should be Scott’s changing relationship with Cassie – they begin the film butting heads over her idealistic activism – and theirs is the main emotional throughline. However, the real center of the movie is Majors – and Marvel’s big drive to orbit the next slate of movies around him starts here. 

The execution isn’t up to the bar set by the likes of Avatar: The Way of Water

Kang dominates every scene he’s in, every inch the reluctant conqueror. Gravitas oozes out of him whether he’s lying in the dirt having lost his way or sprawled upon his Time Chair throne. Without spoiling much, if he continues to deliver on this promise of a multifaceted, multi-film performance, it will cement Majors as one of the all-time great supervillain actors by the time he’s done fighting the Avengers.

Scott Lang stares at an off-camera Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Scott Lang's third solo movie is lacking in charm. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Rudd and Lily, on the other hand, don’t seem to be having quite as much fun acting against CGI monsters and backgrounds. I’m reminded a little of those behind-the-scenes videos of the Star Wars prequels, where actors can be seen gamely doing their best in a void. Neither seems to be able to summon up much emotion once they get to the Quantum Realm and the action beats kick in. There are some occasionally touching scenes between Cassie, Scott, and Hope, but some of the film’s best acting is done when Pfeiffer and Majors get to act up a storm one-on-one, or when the core five are sat around the family dinner table. It was the personal, emotion-driven stakes that made the first two Ant-Man films so appealing. It's a pity this aspect of the franchise, then, is relegated here.

Everyone else does well with the material they’re given, but there will be no Oscar buzz around Quantumania’s acting in the same way there was around Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Kathryn Newton is convincingly earnest as Cassie Lang, elevating the character's role in the MCU and potentially acting as a step towards a Young Avengers movie. David Dastmalchian is back in a new voice role as ooze-based Quantum Realm denizen Veb, Corey Stoll returns as MODOK (more on him shortly), and Douglas is still enjoyable as Pym's sarcastic size-changing inventor. Bill Murray has a small role but, like all his most recent performances, he largely plays himself, which is a tad immersion-breaking.

Larger than life

Scott and Cassie Lang are approached by some Quantum Realm armed personnel in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Quantumania takes the series from San Francisco city to something you'd likely see in Thor or Guardians of the Galaxy. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

As for the Quantum Realm, it's a swirling CGI environment with a wide variety of bizarre biomes, from lush mushroom forests to Mad Max-inspired caravan trains across desert flats, and the almost-obligatory cantina scene ripped straight from Star Wars: A New Hope. At its best, Ant-Man 3's primary locale is a gorgeous backdrop to a bit of Kang-driven character drama, and its inventiveness in design bleeds over to the weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit each section of the realm. 

Kang dominates every scene he’s in, every inch the reluctant conqueror

Even the wildest original designs, though, can’t compare to the sheer giddiness I felt at seeing the legendary Marvel villain MODOK onscreen in all his glory. A giant head with tiny arms and legs in a floating hover-chair, the MCU is at a point in its life where even the wackiest comic-book designs can be ripped from the pages with few alterations – and MODOK is one of the silliest, most disgusting, outright hilarious looks in all the Marvel multiverse. I love that big head with all my heart, and Peyton Reed and Kevin Feige came through for me. The way the story brought him into the fold was a smart move, even if it does differ from the source material. I never thought I would see MODOK’s naked little baby butt, either, but here we are.

As fun as the designs may be, the execution isn’t up to the bar set by the likes of Avatar: The Way of Water. When the cast interact with an alien beast, for example, the physics are nowhere near as convincing as that viral hand shot in Avatar: Way of Water's first trailer, and the pitched battles are more reminiscent of the confusing mess of Aquaman than the sweeping conflicts in Lord of the Rings. The direction during those fight scenes was competent, almost workmanlike, and not enough to prevent my attention wandering. At least the size-changing effects are neat and there are a couple of sequences focused around the different uses of that power that are pleasantly inventive. 

Dawn of a new phase

Janet van Dyne looks out onto the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania

Surprising absolutely nobody, Michelle Pfeiffer has some great scenes with Jonathan Majors. (Image credit: Marvel)

As a solo Ant-Man movie, Quantumania doesn’t work as well as the first two. It’s a middling comic-book adventure romp focused around exploring this new realm – something I might have expected out of the forthcoming Fantastic Four film. But, despite taking us to strange new places in a physical sense, the characters are largely static. None of them really advance or evolve enough to make their arcs compelling, which might be down to splitting the cast up early in proceedings to give equal weight to each narrative.

It does work well, though, as a franchise-builder. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a fitting introduction to 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and it tees up Cassie Lang to take her role as Stature in, well, whatever awaits her next. In the comics, she's been a part of Young Avengers alongside new Hawkeye Kate Bishop, the Captain America analog Patriot, America Chavez, and Scarlet Witch’s children – all of whom have now been introduced in the MCU. Although no Young Avengers project has been announced, it would be naive to think this isn’t the plan, as Chris Hemsworth and Benedict Cumberbatch won’t be under contract forever.

Despite some unconvincing effects work and suffering from future-film-setup-syndrome, this is a fun but flawed opener for the next phase of Marvel movies. It’s got enough going for it that dedicated MCU fans will likely enjoy it anyway. In an era where diehard Marvel fans and general cinephiles have questioned the direction Marvel Phase 4 went (and where its next projects are going from story perspectives), though, Ant-Man 3 isn't the triumphant, gi-ant sized flick many will have hoped for.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania lands in theaters worldwide on Friday, February 17.