Thursday, November 23, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x07: "Welcome To The Jungle"


Written by Ray Utarnachitt & Tyron B. Carter
Directed by Mairzee Almas

Grodd (through Sara): "Kneel before Grodd."

I bet the writers were pinching themselves with delight of getting to use that line in an episode with the telepathic gorilla from hell. After popping up in The Flash several times in the last three years, it was time for a different group of people to have to deal with Grodd for a change.

Having Grodd show up in 1967 Vietnam during the height of it's war was actually a great move for the show. Grodd was able to take advantage of people's desperation for peace by influencing them into allying themselves with him and even to encourage his scheme for dealing with humanity once and for all.

Of course the Legends were there to actually stop Grodd and at one point in the episode, Amaya was actually getting through to the evil gorilla until Mick's father came blundering in and undid all of her efforts but then again, we are talking about Grodd and every time he's been offered a chance to live away from human influence, he still comes back to try and kill them.

As soon as he was made aware that the Legends had a time ship, he possessed Sara (who was largely out of action this week otherwise) to take it over before the latter got whacked with a frying pan by Isaac Newton. Of course Grodd might have been defeated by the Legends/a frying pan but he has made a new friend in Damien Darkh, so we'll be seeing him again then.

When this episode wasn't dealing with Grodd, it was also confronting Mick's daddy issues as the latter was also in Vietnam at the same time. It was the very reason why Mick didn't want to go into the jungle but the second plot of the episode was pretty strong with some great insight into Mick's past, his darker side and self loathing and even a rather supportive role for Nate.

Much as I love Mick's comic side, it's great when the show remind us of his darker and serious side too. What this episode lacked in Sara definitely made up for with Mick though. Also while I'm not always Nate's biggest fan, pairing him up with Mick really worked for the character and it was nice seeing him be rather supportive.

Speaking of team ups, the show has been hammering it home that Jax and Stein will be going their seperate ways and this episode saw the latter using some outside help to split them up. I'm really going to miss Stein even if it will be interesting to see how Firestorm will work without him though.

- Stein managed to get Galileo, Marie Curie and Isaac Newton to help with his problem. Jax also got a pecan pie recipe from President Johnson, whom he saved in this episode.
- The show seems to be slowing setting up a Zari/Ray pairing. I did like Zari's reaction to Grodd being a former ARGUS prisoner as well.
- Really surprised they didn't make a Dian Fossey reference with this one.
- Chronology: 1967 Vietnam but also Thanksgiving 2017 going by one scene in the Waverider as well.

Welcome To The Jungle was another fun episodes. The Vietnam war, a president, three geniuses and a telepathic gorilla for the price of one along with a Thanksgiving meal and a pecan pie recipe. The show really is a shopping list of the strangest items that continue to result in something great.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 4x08: "Live. Live. Live."


Written by Joe Fazzio
Directed by Rob Hardy

Annalise (to Laurel's baby): "Live. Live. Live."

And that was a mixture of madcap intensity, near morbid comedy and a tiny bit incomplete as well. For a mid-season finale, this certainly had all the ingredients that previous other ones did but this time, it also felt a bit different.

In the past we've had the likes of Sam, Sinclair and Wes all killed as well as Annalise being shot and Laurel nearly killed herself. This time around, we had Annalise put under the least enviable task ever as she had to revive Laurel's prematurely born son while Simon managed to accidentally shoot himself in the head during another volatile encounter with three of the Keating lot.

Simon has been a mixture of being something of an annoyance for the gang with his constant putdowns and former one man smear campaign against Annalise but at the same time, he's also been the butt of the jokes and something of a contrast to the more privileged members of the Keating crew, so his resentment towards has had some merit to it as well.

In this episode, he snarked with Connor because the two of them couldn't help themselves while at the same time actually admitted that he had romantic feelings for Oliver. The gang wanted to use that in order to frame Simon for stealing Tegan's key card, only for Simon to actually figure it out and get into it with the gang.

A part of me was relieved that none of the gang actually shot Simon but at the same time, the scene where he inadvertently shot himself did come across as a bit silly. Now he's on an operating, tethering between life and death. Personally, I think he might just make it, if only because him being alive will actually serve more of a thorn in the Keating gang's side than him being dead.

Of course before Simon's current fate, the episode had Connor doing his best trying to get the rest of the gang to see sense, only for Frank to nearly strangle him and cause Laurel going into labour. I liked that Connor actually went to Annalise when he realised the plan was going south and without Annalise, things could've went a lot worse for Laurel to be honest.

The elevator scene where Laurel was giving birth and Annalise had to revive the baby was one of the hardest scenes the show has pulled off. Some genuinely gripping acting from both Viola Davis and Karla Souza during those particular scenes, though no one in this episode slouched at all.

As for the rest of things, we had both Bonnie and Nate dealing with their Annalise obsession along with Isaac and his ex-wife arguing over the former's fixation on Annalise as well. I am surprised with everything she knows that Annalise wanted to keep Isaac as her therapist but seeing as there are still some flashbacks to be seen, we should see how that pans out a bit more.

- The show returns with it's final seven episodes from January 18th and we'll see the rest of the flashbacks then.
- Connor was being watched by Dominic, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's just inadvertently put himself in danger as well as making Laurel's father aware of her plot against him.
- Asher ended up being arrested for Simon's possible death as well while Michaela was trying to get everyone else in order.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off.

Live. Live. Live delivered as a mid series finale with everyone on the edge (Oliver's first reaction to a dead body, everyone) even there are still flash forwards that need to be seen in order to complete the rest of the story. I'm guessing in the second half of the season, Laurel's father will be coming after them all.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x09: "Let Them Eat Pie"


Written by Iturri Sosa
Directed by Nathan Hope

Pyg (to Oswald/guests): "You have it coming! You have it coming!"

Meat Pie Tango anyone? Even for this show, this was an episode that really upped the craziness as Pyg really came up with the most diabolical of plots this week. Having the city's elite chowing down on pies made of homeless people? How did this show manage to pull that off in an 8pm timeslot?

I've enjoyed Pyg as a villain and I certainly think that Michael Cerveris is one of the best guest actors we've had this season and this episode really utilised his talents for terror and camp in equal measure. Having Pyg go to the lengths he did to make a point about Gotham's rich (one that Bruce will make in the future) feeding off the poor was executed a little too well here.

Seeing both Oswald and even Sofia being forced to eat some human pie was definitely something I did not need to see but both of them did so that Pyg wouldn't kill Martin, the latter whom Oswald has grown accustomed to but even Sofia seemed to have some concern for the boy's safety as well as she got Oswald to help her with Pyg's special meal.

However while Sofia showed her loyalty there, the episode ended with Martin revealing to Oswald that Sofia and Gordon were a couple to Oswald. which the latter didn't take well at all. I'm actually happy that this is out of the way, even if the trailer for next week's episode seems to amount to Oswald throwing the biggest tantrum ever.

As for Pyg, he did get caught this time by Gordon, who also managed to save Harper as well but it seems like we're not done with the character just yet. Of course when Gordon wasn't catching Pyg and getting some actual thanks for it by journalists, there was still a lot of tension between himself and Bullock.

Speaking of tension, this week certainly saw Bruce and Alfred on the outs as Bruce seemed more interested in partying with Alfred's attempts of getting him to see sense falling on deaf ears. I don't mind this plot for now but I do hope it's not dragged out for too long though.

- Pyg went through some more disguises this week when he was charming the homeless and setting up clues for Gordon to find him.
- Standout music: Meat Pie Tango. Is it really bad that I wanted to hear Pyg sing a bit longer than he did?
- No Selina, Barbara, Tabitha, Leslie, Nygma or Grundy this week and Zsasz is still missing too.
- Chronology: Not long from where Stop Hitting Yourself left.

Not quite as strong as previous episodes, Let Them Eat Pie however is the show at it's most gruesome and darkly comic with Pyg truly earning his stripes as one of the best adapted villains on the show. The Captain subplot and Bruce's story did lag in parts though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, November 18, 2017

My Review of Justice League (2017)


Written by Zack Snyder & Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon
Directed by Zack Snyder

Superman: "I'm a big fan of of the truth. I'm also a big fan of justice!"

The world needs Superman. No, really, it does and not just because of who a certain country has as president but also because this movie goes out it's way to remind viewers that Superman is needed by everyone and especially because of the impending war that was hinted during Batman V. Superman after the latter's heroic sacrifice to save the world.

For those in the dark, yes this is a movie about Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) assembling a team of meta humans - The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) in order to defeat the rather powerful alien Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and stop his plans to use three mother boxes from destroying the world but the only way they can do that is with Superman's (Henry Cavill) help and he's currently dead.

The first half of the movie succeeds in portraying a miopic world without the man of steel as Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) struggle without Clark and both Bruce and Diana are determined to honour his memory by making their team work but when Steppenwolf proved to be more of a bother than anticipated, the plan to revive Superman suddenly became viable and needed for the second half of the movie.

I was surprised with how quick it seemed that Superman re-entered the fray and delighted that he was in more of this movie than the trailers would let you believe he'd be. Pithy comments about Cavill's moustache to one side, Superman's return is actually pretty glorious as his initial past tensions with Batman are dealt with swiftly, his reunions with Lois and Martha beautifully poignant and his assault on Steppenwolf glorious.

The team are fantastic to watch but once Superman is added into the mix during the final act, it feels complete. Until then, it's mostly forming with both Aquaman and Cyborg being somewhat reluctant to join the team to counteract with The Flash's boyish enthusiasm while Batman and Wonder Woman, despite some of their own conflict and exorcising their own demons are the ring leaders of this new gang of friends.

Steppenwolf on the other hand, is probably one of the movie's problems. He's given a decent amount of screen time, has a simple motive, proves himself to be pretty dangerous as a baddie and is voice well enough but he's not the most charismatic or engaging of villains. He's admittedly better utilised than Doomsday but he's definitely not going to go down as a classic cinematic villain. The Parademons on the other hand are pretty effective, feeding on fear and also playing their role into Steppenwolf's eventual defeat.

On the other hand, Steppenwolf is successful at connecting the characters together though. For instance, his mission to retrieve the mother boxes gives us looks into both Themyscira and Atlantis with the likes of Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) and Mera (Amber Heard) getting some screen time while Silas Stone (James Morton) also returns, playing his role into Victor's backstory and being one of the few civilians willing to stand up to the baddie of the piece before being rescued by the League.

The personal stakes are done pretty well. There is insight given into each hero as Arthur's issues with his mother are hinted along with Barry's determined to exonerate his father, Henry Allen (Billy Crudup) along with Victor's own anger towards his own father for saving and cursing him at the same time. The one thing the movie completely succeeds in is that it gives every single member of the team the perfect amount of screen time. No one character dominated the other, all of them complimented each other and we're given a good look into all of their distinctive personalities and traits,

As for the humour, this is definitely where Joss Whedon's rewrites over Zack Snyder come into play and while my opinion of the former has soured in recent times, most of the humour does work in the movie's favour and helps to make the team more joyful. I'll admit there are some bits that seem forced but overall, it adds a lot of levity to proceedings and after critics going after previous movies for not having enough humour, it's a tad hypocritical of them to pick the movie apart for injecting some lighter moments into proceedings.

In a lot of ways though, this movie does feel like the ending of a chapter though. If rumours are to be believed, we might be getting a new Caped Crusader in later installments of the franchise and even this movie hinted at Bruce struggling a little bit over the alien threat at times. However, Affleck acquits himself well in this movie but it's really Gadot, Miller and Cavill that are the standouts of the team though both Momoa and Fisher are also on fine form.

Regardless of critical bashing, this is a movie that justifies it's existence as well as a potential sequel to boot. I want to see more of this team along with hinted other members joining up as well. This movie blended both humour and the danger well and made me root for each team member as well. There needs to be another outing for them.

- Post Credit 1: Superman and The Flash having a race, which is played for laughs. We don't get to see who wins though.
- Post Credit 2: Lex Luthor escaping prison and meeting up with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) to set up his own little Injustice League.
- While Iris (Kiersey Clemons) was cut from the movie in order to make the thing two hours, JK Simmons appeared as Commissioner Gordon. We also got some great snarky humour counrtesy of Alfred in a few scenes.
- There's a few Easter Eggs in this movie, including Green Lanterns and Shazam parts, which should nicely set up some future movies.
- Standout music: Sigrid's Everybody Knows, Junkie XL's Come Together, Danny Elfman's Batman theme, John Williams Superman theme, most of the score music was pretty on point to be honest.
- Chronology: I think a year has passed since Batman V. Superman. We had a lot of the action in Gotham, Metropolis, Central City, Iceland and Russia as well as Paris too for scenes.

I'm not going to pretend that Justice League is the best superhero movie ever made or that it's even the DCEU's best effort either. It has it's flaws, which I've already pointed out but the good far outweighs the bad and for me, it's a successful attempt of bringing some of the franchise major's heroes together and it's deserving of a fair chance and a sequel in my opinion. It also feels like the end of one chapter for the DCEU but not the end in itself. This movie might be far from perfect but it's nowhere near as deserving of the bile it's unfortunately generated and this movie itself did display that it's taken previous criticism on board and is trying to find a compromise without losing it's identity for the most part. That in itself deserves credit.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x06: "Helen Hunt"


Written by Keto Shimizu & Ubah Mohamed
Directed by David Geddes

Sara: "Everyone put on your best digs because we are going to save Hollywood."

The timing for this episode in light of so many scandals at the moment is certainly interesting. What happens when you take one of the most legendary historical female figures, add some 1930's Hollywood glamour and sexism and then throw the Legends and a few baddies into the mix? The answer is another gem of an episode.

For weeks, the title for this episode somewhat confused me and while there was no reference to the Mad About You actress, the Helen of the piece did however come from Troy, having been displaced into Hollywood and suddenly thrust into the spotlight overnight with Damien Darhk as her agent for good measure.

Every week this show pulls something off that's so mad it shouldn't work but yet it does and here was no exception. Bar Paly herself was pretty spot on casting for Helen Of Troy and played the role with the right amount of sympathy for the character as Helen was desperate not to go back to her own time while at the same time bonding with the Legends, mostly Zari throughout the course of this episode.

With a delightfully barbed commentary on Hollywood ethics throughout this one, the episode could've ran the risk of being too preachy but avoided that with some jovial humour, especially with the girls freeing Helen from the sleazy executives while at the same time also coming up with a solution that didn't involve sending her back to Troy.

Instead Zari came up with the brilliant idea of sending Helen to Themyscira, which now means that Wonder Woman does exist in the Arrow universe after all, even if we're unlikely to see the character on the small screen any time soon though (still, there's Justice League tomorrow). Zari's overall role in the Helen side of this episode just continued to highlight why she's quickly become a fantastic addition to the series.

As for everything else, we had the delight of a Freaky Friday with Jax and Stein swapping bodies, which got played for laughs but also had a serious undertone to it as well. The addition of the duo helping out Stein's crush, Hedy Lamarr and the episode highlighting the latter's inventive side too was another excellent move on this show's part.

In general though, this episode was pretty exceptional with the female characters. I mean it's always been great with it's female characters but this week, it did feel like they went the extra mile. Along with Sara, Amaya and Zari helping Helen, Hedy solving the body swap with Jax and Stein, the episode also utilized both Eleanor and Kuasa well as Sara discovered the former's connection to Damien while Amaya also learned of her connection with the latter to boot.

- Sara was taken out of commission by Eleanor in this episode, so I guess she'll be sitting most of next week's Grodd adventure out.
- Jax being a fan of the Police Academy movies didn't surprise me but Stein's reaction to it was funny nonetheless. I also hoped that Nate took a shower between scenes this week.
- Damien wanted Sara and the gang to stop interfering with the anachronism, probably for Mallus though.
- Chronology: 1937 Hollywood and 1263 BC on Themyscira.

Helen Hunt was another in a slew of impressive episodes we've had this season. When it comes to female characters, this show has always been great but this episode did a far better job with it's girl power than another show did last week and I loved the mix of Helen and Hollywood as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Great Again


Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Ally (to Kai): "There is something more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man. A nasty woman."

The fact that the show waited for the finale to have Ally turn that particular turn of phrase into a moment of female empowerment might have shown some restraint on a season that was as far from restrained when it came to the political commentary this season.

At times, it's even surpassed Supergirl in terms of laying it on a bit thick at times but unlike the latter, it was also able to mine it a little better as Kai's downfall was played out in a manner that felt less eventful for his ego than he probably would've wanted it to be. Ally managed to convince him that Speedwagon (RIP?) framed Winter before she had the FBI put a stop to his night of 100 Tates plan and send him to prison.

I don't think anyone was shocked that prison wouldn't be a deterrent for Kai. It was obviously going to be the perfect breeding ground for another cult, one that he could easily control and Ally was obviously smart enough to see that he would make an attempt of getting even with her. For a woman who spent the first half of the season panicking over clowns, she's certainly come a long way these last four episodes.

I liked that she anticipated that Kai would manipulate someone like Gloria and was smart enough to get the prison officer first. Kai didn't see it coming and it led to his actual death when his misogynistic tirade against Ally during the debate with the other councilman led to Beverly blowing his brains out.

This episode stripped Kai of his dignity and made him suffer for his misogyny in a pretty big way. It also brought the end of his regime while also ending the series with Ally now in a bigger seat of power with the ambiguity of whether or not the SCUM manifesto really will be acted upon. If Ally's learned anything from Kai, it should be that she can't murder everyone who doesn't bend to her will and she's already killed a lot of people the last few episodes.

Funnily enough, I'm actually surprised that Beverly didn't end up being part of her kill ratio. Beverly admitted her role in Ally's early season breakdown and she worked out pretty fast that Ally killed Ivy in revenge of that but instead she ended up being Ally's campaign manager and Kai's killer. I'm not sure if that's enough in itself to redeem Beverly but neither is it a major issue for me as well and I can't really complain, considering that Ally herself has gotten away with multiple murders as well.

- Lana Winters got a mention in this episode but not an appearance. I guess having her play Susan Atkins in the previous episode was enough double duty for Sarah Paulson this season.
- Oz had a plush elephant and mint green cupcakes for his birthday, so he was getting visual reminders of his other mother. I do wonder if he suspects that Ally killed Ivy too.
- No appearance from Lily Rabe or any past murdered character this season. We did get another Manson hallucination though.
- Chronology: Straight to 2018 for most of this episode.

Great Again rounded off what was an initially shaky before becoming brilliant but still pretty full on politically charged season to a brilliant ending. I actually think this is one of the show's strongest finales with both Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters really owning their characters and this season alone along with Adina Porter, so I definitely hope she's back once again and that we won't have to wait too long to know what the next theme will be.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x05: "The Fool"


Written by Janeika James & Jasheika James
Directed by Howie Deutch

Lucious (to Claudia): "Stop calling me Dwight. My name is Lucious."

And he's back people. Well, it only took five episodes and while I was expecting something slightly bigger to have Lucious resurface and Dwight slip from Claudia's grasp but getting a glorified spoof scene from Demi Moore's most infamous movie, Ghost was as good a way to trigger Lucious's memories as anything.

The timing is great for the show as entertaining as Dwight has been, it was time for Lucious to make a return and it's timing for Claudia wasn't great. Her slow but determined campaign to get Dwight to herself came crashing down after they (predictably) had sex following their music/colour/paint session.

Speaking of colours, Claudia well and truly showed her own when she revealed to Lucious that she was interested in writing a book and became visibly angry when Lucious reminded her that he now knew who he was even if Cookie herself was too distracted to actually take that on board. Then again there is next week for Cookie to really process that Lucious is back and it seems that we're not rid of Claudia yet even if her grip on Lucious has diminished.

Of course when the episode wasn't drip feeding us Lucious coming back to the fore, Cookie also had to deal with the board wanting to oust her, so she roped in Eddie to help keep her seat and make some music with Lucious and Jamal. Forrest Whitaker really does class the series up and I do like his interactions with the Lyons so I'm hoping he's going to be around for a bit longer this season.

As for Angelo - anyone else getting bored of this guy now? Like Shyne, he's a character I feel the show could afford to lose and this week, he was even more annoying than the latter. His constant slut shaming remarks to Warren to one side, the vitriol he showed for both Jamal and Hakeem (including getting the latter to punch him) was too much. Like I said, can we just lose him already?

Of course Hakeem responded rashly by trying to run away with Bella, but at least he was stopped by having both Tiana and Cookie working in his best interests while Jamal still couldn't get a clue that Warren is betraying him, even if the latter seems to be showing some genuine feelings for Jamal at this rate.

- Detective Rose managed to play Andre and Shyne off each other this week. Does she know more than she's letting on?
- No Tory or Anika this week. They're also really spacing out Diana's appearances as well.
- Standout music: Hate The Game by Tiana and Do You Remember Me by V. Bozeman.
- Chronology: Not long from where the last episode left off.

The Fool did a good one in bringing Lucious back to the fore and while it's nice he's back, the show really needs to take the likes of Andre and Shyne out of the equation as neither of them add anything to proceedings nowadays.

Rating: 7 out of 10