Thursday, June 21, 2018

Finale Rundown

So, I've got a few shows I seriously need to catch up with but before I do, here's a rundown of some of the recent genre finales I've watched.

Arrow: This season has been very hit and miss in parts but on the plus side, at least we're finally rid of Guggenheim and Mericle and with any luck, a sense of cohesion and back to basics will benefit the next season. Finale wise, it was nice to see Sara back briefly, Laurel continuing her potential to being redeeming and even the newbies stepping up a bit to help Oliver and company. Less pleasant was Oliver heading to jail, being outed as the Green Arrow and the ridiculous to keep Ricardo alive for next season. Kill him off early in Season Seven please.

Once Upon A Time: I don't think it's a controversial opinion to say that this show probably should've ended in 2017. Season Seven tried its best to breathe new life into it but the reboot was too little too late for most fans and the central romance with Henry and Jacinda ultimately left viewers cold. It's not surprising then in the last few episodes, the romance with Alice and Robyn generated more focus as both Gothel and Facilier's storylines came to middling conclusions while a Wish Realm Rumple was wheeled out one last time. The best moment though was seeing Emma, Hook, Snow, Charming and Zelena back in the series finale where Regina got her happy ending. Truthfully, it was a better series finale than I expected it to be.

Supergirl: Like Arrow, this season has been largely hit and miss and the last few episodes seem to have been slowly dragging out the Reign storyline where Sam rather predictably survived and left town with Ruby for good measure. Actually the finale really was a clearing of the decks with Winn, Mon El, J'onn, M'yrnn all exited while more conflict between Lena and Kara was being set up for next season along with a clear adaptation of the Red Son arc as well.  Alex's storyline about wanting to be a mother has been somewhat boring to watch and Alura's return while nice, should've felt bigger along with Argo's survival as well. Hopefully next season will be better focused.

The Flash: Somewhat a better season than either Arrow or Supergirl but not without it's problems as well. Still though, the Thinker turned out to be the most engaging main antagonist since Reverse Flash in the first season and his defeat with the team relying on Marlize for help was pretty satisfying. It was also nice to see Wally reappear for the finale and I even didn't mind Ralph being saved as well. As for Nora, well she's going to be an interesting addition next season. How are Barry and Iris going to deal with their grown up future daughter and how long will we have to wait before Caitlin becomes Killer Frost again?

- Despite FOX cancelling both shows, both Brooklyn Nine Nine and Lucifer will return for both sixth and fourth season respectively. The former being snapped up by NBC and the latter by Netflix.
- Jeremy Jordan will be recurring in Supergirl's fourth season as Winn while Chris Wood and Odette Annable will not be returning for the time being. Jesse Rath will be a regular as Brainiac 5 while new characters such as Nia Nal (the show's first trans character), Chester Green, Ben and Colonel Hadley are being added to the new season.
- Danielle Nicolet, Hartley Sawyer and Jessica Parker Kennedy will be returning as regulars for Season 5 of The Flash.
- Keiynan Lonsdale will not be a regular for either The Flash or Legends Of Tomorrow next season. The latter show will be introducing Nate's father and a new female character named Ali.
-  Richard Flood will be a regular for the ninth season of Shameless US.
- Andrew Lincoln will be departing The Walking Dead during it's ninth season.
- The Murder House/Coven crossover will be happening in this season of American Horror Story with some old favourites returning as well.
- Gotham's final season will begin filming next season, now rumoured to be 10 episodes, though FOX have yet to confirm that.
- Tyler Posey will be playing a love interest for Avan Jogia's character in upcoming Starz series, Now Apocalypse.
- While Star Trek: Discovery is going through another showrunner change, there are now rumours that more spin-offs are on the way.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My Review of Superman II (1980)

Written by Mario Puzo & David Newman & Leslie Newman
Directed by Richard Lester & Richard Donner

Superman: "We'd better talk."
Lois Lane: "I'm in love with you."
Superman: "We'd really better talk."

I really like this movie and as a sequel, it's actually a pretty strong one. Saying that, it also commits the one cardinal sin that I absolutely hate with anything sc-fi/fantasy/superhero/comic related and that's having an important character find out something and then undoing it towards the end.

I've preferred for Lois to only go so long in not knowing that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person and when she does find out, I usually prefer for it to stick. In a four movie series, having Lois realise that Clark and Superman are the same in the second movie seemed the right time to do it and the way she figured out felt true to the character. It's why the kiss at the end to reset the status quo between Clark and Lois bugs me in a movie I otherwise enjoy.

I do think this movie did speed up Lois and Clark's friendly rivalry to romance a little quickly but there's no denying that both Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder are still bringing the chemistry in this movie in spades that Clark's brief decision to renounce his abilities so he can live a human life with Lois does feel a tad believable, even if it's another trope that I don't particularly care for.

Thankfully the main villains of the piece though spur Clark to get his powers back. Bringing in Zod (Terrance Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) into the mix along with a fraught alliance with an escaped Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) was a good move for this movie.

Zod and his gang had promise in their brief appearance in the first movie. Here they're given the chance to shine, show their menace and even excitement at the fact that being on Earth has increased their powers (something which Ursa especially took the most delight in) while Lex does try his damndest to use Zod and company for his own gains.

The battles between Zod, Ursa and Non with Superman and Lois both in/around the Daily Planet and the Fortress of Solitude make up some of the best scenes of the movie along with Zod's eventual defeat at the exact moment Lex also tried to get out of going back to prison. As for Lex, I really don't think this movie actually needed him at all, though he's better served here than he will be in his next one, which I think we can all agree on.

- Gene Hackman actually didn't film anything for this movie, with footage used from previous filming, hence the Richard Donner credit for this movie.
- There wasn't a huge amount for either Jimmy Olsen or Perry White in this movie but I did like seeing Eve Teschmacher again as she helped Lex escape from prison. Also no scenes in Smallville as well.
- Otis really didn't fare well in this movie. Ladders are clearly not a strong suit with the guy.
- Chronology: I don't think much time passed since the first movie, though this movie was released several months in Europe before the US.

Superman II makes for a strong enough sequel. Despite two rather annoying tropes on display, neither of them hamper what essentially is a worthwhile sequel. Zod, Ursa and Non make for great villains and both Reeve and Kidder excel in their second outing as well. As for the next two entries in this particular universe, they're going to be interesting to review.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sense8 - Amor Vincit Omnia

Written by Lana Wachowski & David Mitchell & Aleksandar Hemon
Directed by Lana Wachowski

Rajan (to Kala and the Clusters): "My God, I didn't think such things were possible."

Last year after a trailblazing second season, Netflix unfortunately bore the bad news of cancelling this show. A month later, fans got a brief reprieve when Netflix also announced a two hour series finale to wrap up the show. Add an extra thirty minutes into the mix and they made good on their promise.

Yup, this was one hell of an extended series finale but it certainly didn't waste any time though. First of all, the gang had kidnapped both Whispers and Jonas the last time we saw them and they were determined to rescue Wolfgang. While it took over half of this special to do that, the journey to getting to that point was something else altogether.

We got a better insight into Wolfgang's childhood and it was certainly messier than previously thought but more importantly, we did see him trying to save himself before the exchange for Whispers went predictably awry with Lila in a nightclub. Speaking of Lila, she somewhat stepped up a little as an antagonist here with Whispers mostly reduced to be a pathetic nonentity of a baddie. I mean, there was a moment where he nearly got away from Amanita and Daniella but other than that, he wasn't quite the villain of the piece.

Lila stepped into that role a little better, managing to strong arm the Chairman (who despite some focus on did lack a little as a baddie too) into getting her own way but as this episode needed to wrap things up, the Chairman, Whispers and Lila were all disposed off rather quickly. Normally this would be something to complain about but I found there was more than enough to keep this episode going and their deaths did happen at the end of Jonas and Angelica's long game plan coming to fruition though.

The highlight of this finale wasn't just seeing all the Clusters working together to stop the BPO. It was seeing them bringing everyone else into the mix as well. This show has done wonders with it's supporting cast and it was fantastic to see Hernando, Amanita, Daniella, Rajan, Bug, Mun, Felix and Diego all step into the fray to help save the day along with the Old Man of Hoy, Puck and his Clusters and even new BPO lady River promising a better era for the shady organisation as well as Zakia popping as well afterwards.

Then there was Nomi and Amanita's wedding in Paris. It was a beautiful way to end things, except for the fact that following both Demons and Happy Fucking New Year, one more orgy had to take place and it was as tastefully done and as sexy as the previous two we've seen and with a certain final image, it's really timely this special came out in the month of Pride.

- The title aptly means Love Conquers All. If that isn't a perfect title for this show's finale, I don't know what else would've been.
- The show featured Linda Perry in a brief scene and also had a For The Fans dedication to it.
- Standout music: Clean Bandit's Rather Be and Experience by Ludovico Einaudi during a certain scene.
- Chronology: From where You Want A War more or less left off.

It's felt like so much ground has been covered and it's felt like it's too soon for this show to be ending. Conflicting feelings no doubt but for a final episode, Amor Vincit Omnia certainly was a tribute to this breathtaking show. An exquisite ending for an exquisite show. Will, Riley, Nomi, Lito, Capheus, Sun, Wolfgang, Kala and all of your friends and lovers will be missed. It's a shame that Netflix didn't see this through for the five season plan it was meant to be but at least we got this beautiful finale.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Friday, June 08, 2018

Anthony Perkins/Tab Hunter's Romance To Get A Movie

It was a love story in old Hollywood when the latter place had some actual mystique and now it seems that it's going to be a movie.

Thanks to Zachary Quinto (Heroes, American Horror Story, Star Trek) and JJ Abrams (Alias, Lost, Star Trek), it seems the love affair between Hollywood hunks Anthony Perkins and Tab Hunter is going to become a movie. Made by Abrams production company, Bad Robot, produced by Quinto and Hunter's real life partner, Allan Glaser as well as Neil Koenigsberg, a legendary publicist who is the founding “K” in the PR firm PMK. The film will be written by Doug Wright, who has previously penned I Am My Own Wife and Quills.

The romance between Anthony Perkins best known for his role as Norman Bates in Psycho and it's three sequels and Tab Hunter, whose roles have included Grease 2 and his own sitcom, The Tab Hunter Show was one of Hollywood's badly kept secrets should be interesting to see played out on the big screen. A director has yet to be confirmed as well as casting for both Anthony and Tab but you can already imagine the fancasting for this movie though. I've seen people suggest Andrew Garfield for Perkins and I really like that casting idea. As for Hunter, even I'm drawing a blank for now. The film will be based on Hunter’s 2005 memoir, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star.

More Information:

So guys, who would you cast for these roles?

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

My Review of Gotham By Gaslight (2018)

Written by Jim Krieg
Directed by Sam Liu

Selina Kyle: "Gone, all gone."
Batman: "And the hope of Gotham with it."
Dickie: "It was all phony anyway. We'll make somethin' new, somethin' better."

And now for something a little different. Taking another comic series, this time it's a case of some Victorian murder mystery as Bruce Wayne/Batman (Bruce Greenwood) and stage actress Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter) finds themselves teaming up to stop Jack The Ripper and his spate of killings on defenseless women and the destitute.

I'm not going to lie, I've never read the original comic that came out thirty years ago but I am aware some changes were made for this movie (just like The Killing Joke) and for an Elseworlds type of story, it's not a bad one but certainly not the strongest we could've had as well.

I do like the Victorian setting and teaming up of Batman and Selina, the latter who doesn't get to become Catwoman but certainly has enough of her alter-ego motifs throughout the animated film so it doesn't feel like people are missing out as such. Here we see Selina taking on something of a protector role for the downtrodden, a role also taken on by Sister Leslie (Grey Griffin) as well.

Then there's the Ripper's victims. Four of them are of significance - the first being an exotic dancer version of Poison Ivy (Kari Wuhrer) who only gets about three minutes of screen time before she's gutted by the Ripper. There's also a failed attempt on Selina before Sister Leslie is murdered by the Ripper along with Arkham Asylum owner Hugo Strange (William Salyers) and of course, a drunken old woman named Marleen Maloney (Tara Strong), who blatantly was meant to be an older version of another member of the Rogues Gallery.

We get a bit in the movie where Bruce is framed for the Ripper's crimes and we see a rather vindictive side to Harvey Dent (Yuri Lowenthal), who didn't seem to take to Selina connecting with Bruce more than him. However, while it might have appeared that he could be the Ripper of this particular yarn, it was in fact someone else.

Yup, Commissioner Gordon (Scott Patterson) turned out to be the baddie of the piece and I'll admit, it was a satisfying reveal, especially when we learned that even his own wife wasn't spared his misogyny and bigotry. The confrontation scenes that the Ripper had with both Batman and Selina prior to his fiery death certainly added more to proceedings even if the movie itself ended on a somewhat abrupt note.

- We got to see a group of street urchin named Dickie, Jason and Timmy whom Bruce, Alfred and Selina took in at the end. There was also Grundy cameo during the Blackgate scenes.
- Selina used her own blood in order to make a makeshift Batsignal while Batman got his own Victorian version of the Batcycle.
- Standout music: Selina's version of You Can't Tame A Wild Wimmen.
Selina Kyle, Hugo Strange, (Mrs.) Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd, Harvey Bullock, Pamela Isley (as Ivy the Plant Lady) and Cyrus Gold (future Solomon Grundy) were added to the movie and not featured in the original comic.

Gotham By Gaslight is nicely filmed, has a decent enough story and utilizes it's Victorian setting and infamous killer well enough. Saying that while it is mostly enjoyable and there's good voice acting all round, it's just not quite as gripping as it could've been. Not bad but not amazing either.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, June 01, 2018

My Review of Superman (1978)

Written by Mario Puzo & David Newman & Leslie Newman & Robert Benton
Directed by Richard Donner

Superman: "I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way."
Lois Lane: "You're gonna end up fighting every elected official in this country!"

I'd resist the urge to say the world needs a Superman right now but it's true nonetheless. It's been forty years since the release of this iconic movie and it's a film that has aged beautifully. Despite some great successors in the role (and some great predecessors to it as well), it's safe to say that Christopher Reeve quite simply is Superman.

Some actors just embody a role (recently Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman) and in this movie and it's following three sequels, regardless of their quality, Reeve truly captures this role like no-one else. I could gush about how amazing he was as Superman and it would be fitting for this review and the next three I have planned as well.

The movie starts off with the Krypton in it's final days backstory and it's beautifully told out as both Jor-El (Marlon Brando) and his wife, Lara (Susanna York) send their only born in a pod to safety from their planet's destruction while the villainous, General Zod (Terrance Stamp) along with his co-horts, Non (Jack O'Halloran) and Ursa (Sarah Douglas) are banished to the Phantom Zone but don't worry, we'll get more of those three in the next movie.

From Krypton's destruction onwards, we get to see a young Clark taken in by Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter), living a normal life in Kansas before heading to the big city of Metropolis to become a reporter for the Daily Planet, run by Perry White (Jackie Cooper) and a friendly rival and friend for budding journalist, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

With Reeve being the iconic Superman/Clark Kent, the same accolade can also be give to Margot Kidder. Lois is without a doubt one of the best female characters of all time and I do think from a big screen perspective a lot of that is down to Kidder's performance. The chemistry between Christopher and Margot, whether it's Lois and Clark's general sparring or the former getting her scoop with the Man of Steel, is positively electric. You cannot fake that sort of chemistry and both Reeve and Kidder had it in spades.

In terms of villains, with Zod and company put on the back burner, it's up to the scheming Lex Luthor to bring the menace here. This is probably the best use of Gene Hackman's version of Lex and he's certainly on fine form here, battling with Reeve's beautiful sense of right as Lex schemed to one of the missiles to detonate in the San Andreas Fault, sinking California and leaving Lex's desert as the new West Coast, though before subjecting Superman to some Kryptonite.

For a movie little over two hours, a lot of ground is covered and a lot of mythos are revealed too. Superman's solution for stopping Lex's great plan is something revisited in later movies as his love for the planet he's adopted is evidently shown. It's a great moment in a movie filled with many of them, including some great support scenes from the likes of Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure) and Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine), both of whom I loved as characters.

- Some of the actors from this movie would later appear in Smallville, Supergirl and Justice League. Meanwhile Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill appeared as Lois's parents.
- Donner himself did make a cameo in this movie. There's also cameos from Larry Hagman and Rex Reed too.
- This was the first movie to make use of the new Dolby stereo 70 mm split stereo surrounds.
- This was the second highest grossing movie of 1978, after Grease of course.

Superman is a triumph of a superhero movie. It's been forty years and it's legacy remains intact. Everything you'd want in a superhero movie is exemplified in this one with Reeve being utterly sublime in the title role and backed with Kidder, Hackman, Stamp etc, performance wise. This movie really will make you believe that a man can fly.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

My Review of Constantine: City Of Demons (2018)

Written by J. M. DeMatteis
Directed by Doug Murphy

Constantine (to Chas): "If there's one thing I've learned over the years is that there are no happy endings."

Keeping with the animated Arrow verse shows, it's time for something more occult like as I managed to catch the first five episodes of Constantine: City Of Demons. With our bisexual occult specialist now about to be a regular on Legends Of Tomorrow, this series is a good way to brush up on his past as it's coming back to get him in a way.

First of all, there's flashbacks to the infamous Newcastle Incident where we saw John and Chas (Damien O'Hare) attempts to save Astra from her occultist father result in Nergal slaughtering everyone before damning the child to hell and messing up both John and Chas's lives in the process.

This bit got told to us when Nightmare Nurse (Laura Bailey) compelled Chas's estranged wife, Renee (Emily O'Brien) into revealing the history of the one event that Constantine doesn't like to brag about while also watching over Chas and Renee's daughter, Trish - whose soul is being held prisoner by the main baddie of the piece - Beroul (Jim Meskimen).

Beroul is introduced in the last few moments and he's already a baddie I want to see more of. By the end of this series, he's displaced Chas on the top of a roof of a building while also strongarming John into helping him take out some competition so he can set a Hell based on Earth. The fact that he also told John to bugger off so he could watch a certain US soap as well ended this on a rather amusing note to be honest.

For five episodes, I did feel like a lot got covered here. We got John and Chas's complicated past dished out and despite things being dire, it was hard not to find Chas's attempts of optimism rather endearing. I also liked the snarky back and forth between John and Nightmare Nurse and the latter's interaction with Renee over what humans don't see also added to proceedings. Not to mention that the Newcastle Incident was gruesomely on display here too,

- This series is based on the comic saga, All His Engines.
- Nothing that was actually shown from the trailer from last year actually appeared in the first five episodes. There are seven episodes that will make up the next season though.
- Damien O'Hare who voices Chas here actually voices Constantine in Justice League Action.
- This series continuity ties into the Justice League Dark movie from 2017 rather than the 2014-2015 TV series.

Constantine: City Of Demons is off to a promising start. The opening scene with John literally facing his demons to the macabre meeting with Beroul and everything else in between. I can't wait to see what the remaining episodes will bring to this series.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of Freedom Fighters: The Ray (2017)

Written by Emilio Ortega Aldrich & Lauren Certo & Marc Guggenheim & Sarah Hernandez & Elizabeth Kim & Sarah Tarkoff
Directed by Ethan Spaulding

Ray (to a bank robber): "I prefer The Ray."

I know it's been a while since this was actually released but I've finally caught up with this animated series and having watched the first six episodes, I definitely want more of Raymond Terril. I loved the character's live action appearance in the Crisis On Earth X crossover last year and Russell Tovey's casting for the role was nothing short of sublime.

In last year's crossover event, we quickly learned that The Ray was actually from Earth 1 but starting off this mini-series, we meet the Earth X version, teamed with his allies, Black Condor (Jason Mitchell), Phantom Lady (Dilshad Vadsaria), Dollman (Matthew Mercer) and Red Tornado (Iddo Goldberg) as they spend the first segment of this story doing battle with Overgirl (Melissa Benoist), Dark Archer (Mathew Mercer) and Blitzkrieg/Evil Flash (Scott Whyte).

Let's be blunt - things mostly end badly for our Earth X heroes as the terrible trio quickly best them and Vibe (Carlos Valdes) has to get Earth X Ray out of them, only for the latter to die and transfer his powers to his civilian Earth 1 counterpart.

It's in the middle of this story that we're given some scope on our version of Raymond Terril. He's a guy wanting to do good but is scuppered by his bosses, has a rather ship worthy friendship with his also non powered version of Black Condor aka John Trujillo and still hasn't come out to his parents, who he seems to have a slightly strained relationship with.

There's also a rather adorable sequence where our Ray also starts to get romantically involved with a guy named Jacob (Sunil Malhotra) but between settling into his new found role as the Ray and then being kidnapped by the end of the sixth episode, it seems our golden boy has a few pressing problems as the Earth X trio have decided to pay our Earth a visit.

- Both Cisco and Caitlin from our Earth briefly appear in this story. We're also meant to be getting Mari in the second batch of episodes.
- I'm surprised they didn't get Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin to voice their Earth X counterparts but both Matthew Mercer and Scott Whyte did a good job here.
- Civilian Ray doesn't look too much like Russell Tovey but his awkwardness is beautifully captured throughout this series though.
- Chronology: I'm guessing maybe a year or slightly less before the big Crisis On Earth X crossover event.

Freedom Fighters: The Ray might have gotten a lot of unfair flack (as did last year's crossover event) for the subject matter that it uses but as an animated series, I really enjoyed it. I loved Ray in live action form and this batch of episodes has made me want him back once again. I can't wait to see what the remaining episodes will be like.

Rating: 8 out of 10