Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain some adult themes.
As mentioned last week, I’ll be reviewing my favourite Black Mirror episode. Except I couldn’t choose between ‘Hang the DJ’ and ‘Shut Up and Dance’ so I’ll be reviewing both! Black Mirror premiered in 2011 but didn’t really take its fame until bought by Netflix in 2015. It has Charlie Brooker attached to it as he created the show and is a modernised version of The Twilight Zone.
Shut Up and Dance is the third episode in the third series of Black Mirror and looks at teenager Kenny who has anti-malware installed on his laptop. However, this anti-malware allows an unseen hacker to access Kenny’s laptop camera and all of his contacts. The hacker records Kenny masturbating and threatens to send the video of him masturbating to all his contacts unless Kenny does as the hacker instructs. The next day, the hacker sends Kenny a location where Kenny must deliver a cake to a hotel room. In this hotel room, we find Hector, who is going to cheat on his wife with a prostitute. The hacker is sending his own threats to Hector, as he fears he may lose custody of his children. Hector and Kenny are then instructed to drive to a bank and rob it, with a gun which was in the cake. Though Kenny wets himself during the robbery he gets the money and drives off with Hector. They destroy the car and Hector flees. Kenny is forced to fight another blackmail victim to the death, and tries to shoot himself but finds the gun is empty. Kenny emerges victorious from the fight and makes his way home, but all the other blackmail victims have found that their secret has been released. Kenny arrives home to his angry mum and sister, as it is revealed that the hacker released the video of his masturbation and that he was masturbating to child porn.
Alex Lawther plays Kenny and does so brilliantly. He captured the essence of a teen well but his emotional complexity in this character was fantastic. From the breakdown in the car to the aftermath of the fight, Lawther was perfect for Kenny’s role. Hector was played by Jerome Flynn who I also thought was great for this character. The way Hector kept his cool yet was also evidently panicking for himself too, and Flynn did this perfectly.
I think this plot is one of Black Mirror’s best. We all use phones and laptops and other technology in day-to-day life which monitors all our activity, even from webcams and microphones. It’s a bold and smart idea to tackle an idea where a hacker can blackmail people because of footage or information they have on them. It’s also kind of funny that I’m reviewing this episode now, as we have seen pictures of Mark Zuckerberg covering up his webcam and microphone when FaceBook has been stealing data from its users. Shut Up and Dance educated watchers of the show that you never know who’s watching you and what they can do with the footage of you that they have.
Shut Up and Dance is tied as my favourite Black Mirror episode with Hang the DJ, so I award it with 9.1/10. It was a brave and dark episode that really was thrilling to watch and I loved it. Not a perfect episode, sure, but certainly one of Brooker’s best.
We then come on to Hang the DJ. I love this episode. It was awesome. So smart, so cool, so amazing to watch. It’s kind of opposite to Shut Up and Dance as one is a dark drama about someone being caught masturbating to child porn and the other is a sweet and awesome love story. We have Amy and Frank, one of many couples who have been set up with each by Coach, a merge of Tinder and Siri, but Coach tells both people how long the relationship will last when both people in the relationship request to see how long they have together. A little confusing there, but it’s smart. Everyone who part of the Coach system lives in the Hub, which is essentially a really nice prison, where you can’t escape and you date people all the time. Amy and Frank have 12 hours together, but it’s evident that they have an intimate and sweet relationship with each other. Frank is set up with a dislikable Nicola for a year, meanwhile, Amy is set up with a few other men. During this period, Amy and Frank meet up again at a wedding, and it’s more obvious that they should be together. At the end of Frank’s long and somewhat painful relationship with Nicola, Coach sets Amy back up with Frank. They both agree to not check how long they have left, but Frank gets tempted and taps without her, and the length of the relationship begins to fall. Frank and Amy argue and split up. Amy is told that Coach has found her a match and chooses to say farewell to Frank at dinner before throwing her Coach pod into a pool. Later at a dinner, Amy convinces Frank that the pair is part of a test, as neither can remember life before the Hub. She persuades him to escape with her as that is the only way to pass the test, and the pair escapes from this lovers prison. We then see multiple simulations of Frank and Amy appearing, showing that 998 times out of 1000, the Frank and Amy couple would escape and rebel. We then cut to a pub where Amy is looking at a dating app on her phone, where she has a 99.8% with a guy named Frank. The two smile at each other and ‘Hang the DJ’ continues to blare as the episode finishes.
Frank was played by Joe Cole and he was great. I found his character a little dull at times but Cole executed the role neatly, particularly in the scene where Frank reacts to how long the relationship will last with Amy’s permission. I must hand it to Georgina Campbell and her role of Amy. She was fantastic in this role and portrayed Amy’s fun and rebellious character well.
Similarly to Shut Up and Dance, this plot was amazing. It’s a smart idea to tackle the dating world and Hang the DJ reminded me of Season 3’s San Junipero. I like how you can see how long the relationship lasts, as it highlighted to me how you may know someone well but not realise how long left you have with them. Also, the use of Hang the DJ at the end was great. It made me smile and it was a happy song to highlight the goodness of this episode. I just loved everything about Hang the DJ, from the witty relationships and the interesting plot. It took something from the real world, changed it around a little, and was highly entertaining.
Hang the DJ is joint first with Shut Up and Dance and overall is one of my favourite episodes. I think it has something a little more than Shut Up and Dance though, and I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. I guess because it was more of an uplifting episode and had a happier tone to it, I enjoyed it a little more. For that, Hang the DJ gets a 9.3/10 from me. Pure gold in my opinion, and one I definitely will rewatch for time to come.
Thanks for reading this special TV episode review. Black Mirror is arguably one of the most popular TV shows today, mainly because it’s so smart and gets the viewer thinking about real life, whether it’s bringing back a dead partner or excessive control over your child. It’s certainly one of my favourite series, and I can’t wait for season 5.
I’m seeing Infinity War tomorrow and the hype is unreal. It looks to be the most amazing and extravagant Marvel movie yet. I’ll be posting up a Marvel recap at some point, which is everything you need to know before Infinity War, like where all the Infinity Stones are and where all our characters are.
Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. I’ll be posting up a non-spoiler and spoiler review of Infinity War soon, so see you then for that!