The wedding may be over, but for Sherlock fans the after party has just begun! Read our full recap of series 3’s sophomore effort, and discuss the episode with fellow fans! This post contains spoilers.

We open with Lestrade and (a returning) Donovan on an eighteen month long chase to catch a criminal gang – as Greg is about to finally put the cuffs on the network, he gets a series of urgent texts from Sherlock asking for his help, repeatedly. Abandoning his glorifying moment, he rushes to 221B with back-up to discover the super sleuth struggling with “the hardest thing” he’s ever had to do in his life: writing the best man’s speech for John and Mary’s wedding.

“The Sign of Three” was something new for the hit BBC show, and far more a character piece than a crime drama. This was reflected in the opening thirty minutes, as instead of a thrilling murder we are treated to an exploration of Sherlock’s character, and the changing dynamic of his relationship with John and wife Mary.

Post credits, Mrs. Hudson walks in on Sherlock practising his dancing, or at least that’s how it seems. As it turns out, he’s composing the Waltz for the soon-to-be-happy-couple’s first dance. He sits with his landlady, and explains how he doesn’t see the point of marriage, and how it changes nothing. Finally, he “gets ready for battle” – and so does a mysterious figure in military uniform.

At the start of the reception, Sherlock joins the groom in welcoming the guests – and the mysterious figure is revealed as John’s friend and former superior, James Sholto. Sherlock is confused at never having heard of him before, but Mary insists John talks about him “all the time.” The crowds pile in, and the time is finally upon us, as the great detective prepares to start his speech.

Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch in The Sign of Three

But, just as the speech starts we flashback to Molly approaching Greg and Mrs. Hudson about the frankly terrifying prospect of Sherlock being chosen as best man. We now continue to jump between the speech and wedding preparations – Mike Stanford (the man that brought the Baker Street boys together) gets a cheeky mention in the telegrams, while we see the sheer awkwardness of John requesting that his former flatmate assume the role we now see him in. Cue a long silence, as Sherlock tries to explain all of the things he meant to say (but didn’t). After a rare and out of character moment of sentiment, Holmes decides to remedy the situation by sharing some “funny stories” from John’s blog.

Once we’ve whisked through an assassin dwarf, and a literal elephant in the room, John (under instruction from Mary) takes Sherlock out on a case to try and reassure him that the couple won’t forget about him once they’re wed. And so we meet a scared member of the Queen’s Guard (played by Harry Potter star Alfie Enoch), who has become concerned about a photographer who is paying special attention to him. The duo go to investigate, but before they can find the serviceman his corpse is found in a locked shower with no murder weapon. Sherlock opens the case up to the wedding guests, who make misinformed guesses as to how the guard was killed. However, he reminds the assembled guests (and the audience) that the mystery isn’t important – John, and his caring nature is what everyone’s there for.

Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in The Sign of Three

And so we reach what is quite possibly the most hilarious run of scenes we’ve ever seen in the show, as Sherlock’s scrupulous efforts to avoid a hangover are marred by John’s equally determined attempt to get trashed. The boys have to come home early after a few too many, and a near miss with a rowdy fellow drinker. As they play a drinking game, the crime solvers are interrupted by a woman who appears to have dated a ghost. They investigate the scene, and after some seriously questionable deductions Sherlock throws up, and the two spend the rest of John’s stag do in a jail cell.

Revived by Mrs. Hudson, the consulting detective turns to online chat rooms to question some of the other women who have dated a dead man. He eventually realizes the “Mayfly man” has been checking newspaper obituaries and using the flats of deceased single men as temporary love nests. The best man’s speech seems to be coming to a close, when we realize that the Queen’s Guard’s stalker is at the wedding, posing as the photographer.

Sherlock Alice Lowe in The Sign of Three

As Lara Pulver’s Irene Adler makes a surprising cameo and John’s middle name becomes an important plot point, Sherlock finally pulls the puzzle together thanks to the help of a Mycroft apparition. The super sleuth shouts “Vatican cameos!”, and John springs to action, instantly knowing that someone is in danger. Mary joins the boys as they hunt down Sholto in his hotel room, wary of an oncoming attacker. Sherlock reveals how the Queen’s guardsman was killed with a dagger in the back of an incredibly tight belt, only actually becoming lethal when the binding is removed. Realizing his death is coming at any time, Sholto tries to remove his belt to end his life, but Sherlock convinces him not to do it on John’s wedding day. As John tries to save his former commander’s life, Sherlock and Lestrade apprehend the photographer, also revealed as the Mayfly Man and exposing him as the Queen’s Guard murderer (his death in fact just being a rehearsal for Sholto’s).

With the mystery solved, it’s finally time for John and Mary’s first dance, accompanied by the beautiful Waltz composed by Sherlock. Sherlock takes “his last vow” (an intriguing bit of foreshadowing for the title of next week’s series finale), promising to protect “all three of them.” And finally, we realise why Sherlock has been acting so odd – as he made one more deduction than he expected to: Mary is pregnant with John’s baby! The guests start to dance, and the best man tries to find the bridesmaid for their customary dance, but she has already found someone else. Sherlock scans the crowd for a partner, but upon realizing that the party has continued without him, leaves.

And so ends one of the strangest episodes of Sherlock we’ve seen for a while. It broke the formula we’ve all grown accustomed to, but also broke new ground as we delve further and deeper into Sherlock’s character than we ever have before.

Next time

All good things must come to an end, and just over a week and half after it began, Sherlock series 3 concludes next Sunday with the heart-stopping finale “His Last Vow,” featuring Lars Mikkelsen’s sinister Charles Augustus Magnussen. Check out the trailer for the episode below!

What did you think of ‘The Sign of Three’?

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

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The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!

What Disney can learn from the 2009 Chinese live-action ‘Mulan’

Here's what 'Hua Mulan' got right

4:30 pm EST, February 17, 2017

Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

Read full article

Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

Here are some things Hua Mulan got right that Disney would do well to learn from.

hua mulan decision

Bringing more realism to the legend

Hua Mulan follows a plot that is more loyal to the original legend of Mulan, which states that she was a warrior for the Chinese army for over a decade. In the film, she even becomes a General, and retires with the nation’s respect, even after her identity as a woman is revealed.

Seeing Mulan lead thousands of men in Hua Mulan is a rare and empowering experience. Her struggles as a woman in a position of power, and the various dilemmas that come with commanding such a large number of people, are what bring intensity and meaning to the story. Mulan itself explored the concept of honor and femininity as well, but we only got a very small glimpse at the power that the legendary Mulan is said to have actually wielded.

While Disney may not want to make a movie that ventures too far from a family friendly atmosphere by portraying a Mulan who goes to war too realistically (as in, showing her killing enemies), it would be great to see her rise in the ranks and revolutionize such a male-dominated space the way she is said to have done.

hua mulan warrior

Not shying away from the grit — but not making it too grim, either

Hua Mulan does an excellent job of skirting the line between grim tragedy and friendly comedy. With thousands of extras, the battle scenes are as breathtaking and inspiring as they are horrifying. There’s a scene where Mulan counts the dog tags of all the fallen soldiers, and a considerable amount of time is spent exploring her despair and responsibility as the army’s struggle becomes more desperate. The emotional rawness of the story creates a very real, very flawed, yet very lovable Mulan — and takes audiences on an exploration of heroism, perseverance, and honor.

Of course, we can’t expect Disney to go all out with blood and grit — they’re bound to bring out Mushu, after all — but Disney prides itself on epic battles and fantastic special effects, and they’ll want to serve us war scenes as breathtaking and realistic as possible.

However, we’re all tired of grittiness for grittiness’ sake. Despite the heaviness of the more emotional scenes of Hua Mulan, there is sweetness and humor. The friendships in the army, much like those of Disney’s version, can be laugh-out-loud funny, and the scenes of Mulan’s struggle to preserve her male appearance are equally fun to watch.

Related: Disney’s live action Mulan lands female director

After all, audiences won’t be going to see Mulan to see war and sadness — the animated version was fun and adventurous, and although it had somber moments, it still managed to keep things just lighthearted enough for us to not get too sad. With animation, that lightheartedness is an easier task; portraying war with real actors could prove a more difficult challenge.

Establishing more depth in the main relationship

In Hua Mulan, Mulan and Wentai’s relationship is beautiful, but it builds over a long period of time, and strengthens through their mutual respect as they both struggle to lead an army. Their love is based on that combination of trust built over time, and shared responsibility.

Shang and Mulan have what is possibly one of the best relationships Disney has ever come up with. Among the Disney ‘princesses,’ Mulan and Shang probably have the greatest chemistry and story of all, and scenes from the animated film continue to be shipping fuel. Presumably, they’ll want to replicate this relationship in the new live-action version.

However, the animated film was sadly limited to only a few glimpses of the developing relationship. It would be amazing if we could see more of the friendship between Shang and Mulan (as Ping) and how it becomes something more. It’s rare in a ‘princess’ movie to see romance begin with sincere friendship, and it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the confusion regarding Mulan’s gender in both a funny and profound way.

Giving it a more realistic conclusion

There are some scenes that could do with a makeover, especially at the very end. Mulan’s final trick to kill Shan Yu — by dressing three soldiers in drag and having them attempt to distract him — is hilarious in the animation, but would come off as strange and unrealistic in a live-action movie, and perhaps even a little offensive.

Hua Mulan’s approach to defeating the enemy is a much more powerful one. Although it equals Mulan in stealth and cleverness, it involves realistic strategy and power dynamics, and finally involves her making a deal that saves China through negotiation, rather than war — and making a terribly painful personal sacrifice.

Disney has a penchant for epic final battle scenes, but that isn’t what happens in either Mulan or Hua Mulan. In both cases, it’s Mulan’s cleverness that saves the day. It would be great to see that cleverness translated into a realistic solution, in the same way it does in Hua Mulan.

It’s not like Disney hasn’t subverted its own canon, after all. In Maleficient, it isn’t the prince’s kiss that lifts the spell. Disney could certainly benefit from giving Mulan a more epic finale, and perhaps one that does her legendary character justice.

Immersing us in historically-accurate China

Besides perhaps The Jungle Book, we’ve yet to see a live-action adaptation that takes place in a non-European culture. In fact, this would be the first film to employ solely actors of color. What Disney decides to do here will be particularly interesting; since Aladdin will be getting its own adaptation soon, and Pocahontas could also follow in the live-action trend, the decisions taken here will likely set a precedent for what will be done with those films.

There were rumors earlier of Mulan having a white love interest, which now seem to be crushed, thankfully. We want to see a film with an entirely Asian cast — hopefully at least mostly Chinese — and get a chance to explore the scenery, sets and props of ancient China.

Although, it’s only fair to say that Hua Mulan also has its own white character — a Russian singer called Vitas, who inexplicably pops up now and again. That’s another tip for Disney: don’t just insert white guys into the story for no reason.

Hua Mulan’s shots of rural China are beautiful and unique, and it would be amazing to see what Disney can do if they choose to show much of what they did in animation, with real sets and locations. Hopefully, Disney gets a chance to actually film in China itself.

All this doesn’t go to say that we want a copy of Hua Mulan. Not at all. Hua Mulan is an excellent film in its own right, but it’s considerably more adult than Disney would ever dare make an adaptation. The realism of its wars and of the toll duty takes on Mulan and her companions is nothing like the fun, if occasionally emotional, adventure Disney took us on with Mulan.

Disney’s version is a movie to be excited about, and the additions the animated film made to the legend are what makes it a classic. It would be amazing to see Mushu, Shang, the ancestors, and maybe even the cricket, on screen, as well as the songs, of course! “Make a Man Out of You” with real actors will definitely be one of the biggest highlights.

So far, we know that Mulan’s director will be Niki Caro. Although she isn’t Chinese, a matter that raises a lot of questions about representation, it’s still encouraging to see a female director chosen — and if Caro’s powerful film Whale Rider is any indication, she’s rather good at telling empowering stories with female leads. Hopefully, the rest of the team can be filled with talented Chinese filmmakers that deserve to have a hand in rendering such a culturally significant story properly.

After all, Mulan is primarily a Chinese legend, and her story spans a history much longer than the 18 years since Disney’s animation came out.

In the meantime, go check out Hua Mulan, which is a fascinating film (although a considerably more adult one; you’ve been warned)!

What are you expecting from ‘Mulan’?

There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

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There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline is the ringmaster. She’s the typical Helicopter Parent trying as best she can to keep Monterey’s relationships and extracurricular activities together. Bringing her down is her ego and never-ending animosity toward a couple of characters, including her ex-husband’s new bae Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz, below). Together, Bonnie and Madeline’s new hubby Ed (Adam Scott) want to keep the peace between their two partners, but they’re the only two who seem capable of keeping tempers in check.

Meanwhile, Perry (Skarsgård) and Celeste (Kidman) have serious marriage issues that seem impossible to resolve. Of the leading ladies, Celeste seems to be the most level-headed despite her shitty husband. Then there’s Laura Dern’s Renata (below), who hates Madeline with all of her heart. Some of the best scenes are between these two ladies.

Not helping the Renata/Madeline relationship is the latter’s new friend Jane (Woodley). She’s just moved to town with her son Ziggy, who might’ve caused serious trouble on his first day of school.

It’s this event that initiates the show’s biggest mystery: A murder. Who did it? Who’s dead? The answer is not revealed in the first four episodes despite flash forward sequences in which we see an investigation taking place. As you continue to watch, it becomes increasingly clear that any of the characters could be be the victim or murderer. (This writer hasn’t read the book, so please don’t spoil me.)

Big Little Lies is the perfect show to cuddle up with on Sunday evenings for the next two months. While some have called this show corny, I find it to be a delight. I just have one suggestion for every viewer: Bring a glass of alcohol to the party. While screening the episodes, I very much enjoyed watching the drama unfold with a drink in hand.

The only problem? It’s just seven episodes long. Here’s hoping for more seasons or more adaptations of Moriarty’s books at HBO.

Big Little Lies premieres Sunday, February 19 on HBO.