Last Thursday Netflix dropped the first season of its latest streaming series One Piece. One Piece Is the live-action adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s long-running manga and anime series. The series is the story of young pirate Monkey D. Luffy – played here by Mexican actor Iñaki Godoy (best known for the Canadian series The Imperfects) – who has set out to sea in the hopes of finding the mythical treasure “one piece” and becoming the king of the pirates. Throughout the eight episode series Luffy – a rubber man due to eating a “devil fruit” – encounters and recruits his crew, a group of like-minded individuals who all have lofty dreams.
The most impressive thing about One Piece is that it manages to adapt its source material faithfully – characters retain their odd abilities, perform impossible feats, and exist in a world with news delivers by seagulls. Rather than becoming overly cartoony and off-putting, the series manages to retain the charm of those things. Part of this is the clear expense Netflix has put into this series.
Another part of this is the cast. The main cast is comprised of Emily Rudd (The Fear Street series, Hunters) as Nami the navigator, Mackenyu (Pacific Rim: Uprising, Knights of the Zodiac) as Roronoa Zoro the swordsman, Jacob Romero Gibson (Greenleaf) as Usopp the cowardly sharpshooter and Taz Skylar as Sanji the chef (The Kill Team, Boiling Point). This main cast is joined by Vincent Regan (Troy, Clash of the Titans, Luther: The Fallen Sun) as their pursuer marine Admiral Garp.
One Piece offers a range of colourful characters, including pirate clowns, fishmen, fighting cooks and more over its eight episodes. It manages the task of adapting a cartoony aesthetic to live-action and finds a way of grounding the material. The series is certainly worth exploring.
Coming to Prime Video next Friday, 15 September, is the original movie A Million Miles Away. The movie is inspired by the story of José M. Hernández, an engineer and astronaut whose family migrated to the United States. The film starts in 1969, detailing the struggles of Hernández’s family as they travel across California to work in numerous fields to make a wage that just gets them by. Hernández is portrayed as a bright child with a gift for numbers but who is constantly taken out of school for his family to find more work and survive.
The film is incredibly sympathetic to this struggle, and throughout the first seventeen minutes of the film showcases that struggle and the moment Hernández’s dream of going into space is born – which, should come as no surprise is directly linked to watching the moon landing.
As the movie shifts to 1985 and further on, Hernández is played by Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Narcos: Mexico, The Martian, American Hustle) – as Hernández begins his career as an engineer, initially mistaken for a janitor, he is given unimportant busywork and overlooked by his immediate supervisors. Things start to change when Hernández meets his future wife Adela – Rosa Salazar (Wedding Season, Alita: Battle Angel, Man Seeking Woman) – and soon proves his worth and rising up through ranks quickly. He and Adela begin their family, and soon with her encouragement he decides to truly apply for his dream, beginning physical activities, learning to fly, learning Russian and developing other skills to make him a strong applicant for NASA.
Peña puts in a fantastic performance – he manages to sell Hernández’s passion, as well as his cleverness, his moments of doubt and his slow build of confidence. Peña’s performance makes the movie, and Salazar makes a perfect compliment to his performance. A Million Miles Away is an uplifting story, and well worth watching.
Meanwhile Binge has added the BBC series Black Ops, created by and starring Gbemisola Ikumelo (Prime Video’s A League of Their Own, Broadchurch, Famalam) and Akemnji Ndifornyen (Leonardo, Famalam, The Queen’s Gambit) as Dom and Kay, two pretty hopeless police community support officers who are approached by a senior Detective Inspector – played by Ariyon Bakare (Good Omens, His Dark Materials, Carnival Row and The Mosquito Coast) – to help with an undercover investigation. As part of this, the two are encouraged to get fired, steal drugs from evidence and infiltrate a street gang. Dom and Kay are successful in their subterfuge, but by the end of the first episode the rug is pulled out from under them, and the duo are soon left to their own devices and trying to figure out just how deep the investigation truly goes.
Ikumelo and Ndifornyen make a solid comedic team, with Ikumelo’s Dom taking the lead as the tougher, more cynical leader and Nidfornyen’s Kay as the softer-spoken and more naïve counterpoint. Their characters have wild reactions to the world they’re forced into – which beyond selling drugs means dealing with hardened criminals and even burying bodies. Black Ops manages to wring out the comedic potential of placing these two fish-out-of-water into a crime drama, allowing to show to approach its topic with a detached levity that works well.
Black Ops first season is available in full, totalling six episodes.