Saturday, August 20, 2016

Back To Prison And Tripping Into The 80s

It's been a while as I've been a little too DC focused at the moment but here's a run down of some of the stuff I've managed to catch between then.

Daredevil: Last month I talked about the show unsurprisingly being renewed for a third season. Now, as for the final three episodes, they were something else altogether. A part of me was a little surprised that Fisk didn't properly re-enter the fray but the Yakuza plot played out reasonably well with Elektra truly coming into her own while the Punisher storyline came to a satisfying conclusion as well. It was though disappointing to see Matt, Foggy and Karen so distant with each other but hopefully they can mend fences in the next season (which will be a wait for us all). Overall, a fantastic season.

Orange Is The New Black: I've been catching up with this one a little later than usual. Four episodes into the fourth season and it's an improvement on the previous year. Sure, Piper seems to be pissing off people left, right and centre and both Sophia and Nikki need to be properly reintroduce into the general populace but the arrival of new inmates, celebrity chef Judy King, the loveliness of Brooke and Poussey's growing relationships, stronger flashbacks and Alex and Lolly's dynamic has been fascinating to watch as well. A very promising start to the new season.

Stranger Things: Remember last year when everyone was raving about Sense8? Well, this year, Netflix have managed it again with this delightful 80's nostalgia fueled series. I've only watched the first four episodes and aside from giving Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine's careers a much needed jolt again, it's really the kids who shine on this show. Authentically written and acted, the children and teenagers are the driving force of the series in light of the disappearance of a young boy named Will and the arrival of a mysterious, powerful girl named Eleven as well. If you haven't tuned in yet, you should do very soon.

The Catch: Recently finished up on SkyLiving, the last four episodes of this daft but entertaining show certainly upped the ante a little. Casting Mrs Patmore from Downton Abbey as Margot and Rhys's mother was a genius moment and it was blast having her, even if it was for two episodes. I'm still not hugely compelled by Alice and Ben as a couple but they did have some good moments, especially in the finale and I certainly liked seeing both Alice and Margot trying to outwit the other as well as Alice's encounter with Rhys too. Also while we got the tired trope of Ben and Rhys pretending to be a couple for a con job at least the show made it clear where Sean swings when he asked a surprised Danny out. I'll give the next season a go.

- Katie McGrath has been cast as Lena Luthor for the second season of Supergirl. A musical crossover between the show and The Flash will be happening.
- Savitar will be the second main villain of The Flash's third season alongside Dr Alchmey. Wentworth Miller will reprise his role as Cold in the fourth episode. Joey King will guest star as Magenta.
- Gotham may feature a version of Harley Quinn at some point. The Mad Hatter and Court of Owls are the main antagonists for the first half of the third season.
- Charisma Carpenter will be appearing in an episode of Lucifer's second season.
- Mr Robot has been renewed for a third season.
- The CW are planning a reboot of The Lost Boys.
- UK viewers will be able to watch the US version of Dirk Gently on Netflix from December. BBCAmerica are airing it from October 22nd.
- Will Traval will be appearing in Arrow as the Human Target.
- The creators of Gossip Girl will be bring Marvel's The Runaways to Hulu next year.
- Robert Knepper will be appearing in the sixth season of Homeland. The show has been renewed for a seventh and eighth season respectively.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Doctor Who - Series 10: Guest Stars Confirmed

It's been a bit of a while since I've posted anything in relation to Doctor Who but here's a blog with some of the more up to date information I can find.

David Suchet best know for his role as Poirot has been cast as the Landlord. Appearing in the fourth episode, written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster), Suchet will make his debut in the series and going by the recent filming pictures, it seems like he will be Bill's (Pearl Mackie) landlord as it appears she lives in a house with a few other students. Not much is known about the fourth episode other than it's writer and director, Bill Anderson (who also directed episode 3 by Sarah Dollard), other than it's contemporary and we're meeting people from Bill's normal life. There's also the fact that the house from Blink reappears but nothing that suggests that this will be a story featuring the Weeping Angels though. It does seem like the BBC are keeping very tight lipped about most of the filming this series.

Meanwhile filming has also completed on Sarah Dollard's episode and it's another one where very little seems to have been disclosed of. However given the costuming that both the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill have sported, it's certainly a historical episode though, possibly a Regency episode. Other bits of information that has been revealed is that Royale Family actor Ralf Little will be Frank Cottrell Boyce's second episode (which included filming in Spain) along with Mina Amwar while rumours have also surfaced that filming for the series will see the gang heading to Vancouver in October, though that's something yet to be confirmed. There's also the fact that the show has yet to film this year's Christmas special as well and I'm intrigued to see what they'll do with that one this year.

Press Release:

Series 10 of Doctor Who is currently filming and will air in Spring 2017 on BBC1 and BBCAmerica. The Christmas special will be filmed soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Review of The Killing Joke (2016)

Written by Brian Azzarello And Alan Moore
Directed by Sam Liu

Barbara: "Why are you doing this?"
The Joker: "To prove a point."

This has been something of an interesting month for DC, hasn't it? We've had Suicide Squad rock up in the cinemas and give the middle finger to Guardian readers while Batman V. Superman and Gotham's second season have released on DVD and the current Rebirth titles continue apace and then there's this.

The straight to DVD (but also briefly in cinemas) release adaptation of Alan Moore's controversial 1988 comic has finally arrived and not so shockingly enough, it's managed to be as polarising as the source material itself and not just because of that. Nope, this particular movie managed to even something new to cause some division among the comic's fans and critics alike.

Not surprisingly though, the controversy is still centred on the treatment of Barbara Gordon in this adaptation. In the comic, she's shot by the Joker and photographed naked in a bid to drive Commissioner Gordon to the brink of madness and while I've always hated that treatment of Barbara here, I've also found the double standards surrounding it quite maddening as well. I can't help thinking the same people who lose it over Barbara's treatment are the same ones who never batted an eyelid when Jason was being tortured and killed by the Joker as well in Death Of The Family but that's for another discussion.

This adaptation however decides to correct some of the comic's flaws by not making Barbara an entire victim in this movie. With the last scene nicely setting up her future as Oracle, the first half an hour of this actually focuses on her escapades as Batgirl and the cat and mouse games she has with an upstart gangster named Parry, whose lust for Batgirl is nothing short of irritating to be honest.

It's also during this segment that her relationship with Batman is given some of the most thorough of focus as he fears that she's getting far too in over her head. Her eventual attack on Parry makes Batgirl realise that her mentor might be onto something when she decides to hand over her cowl and take a break from crime fighting.

The 'controversy' though isn't that Batgirl showed some recklessness with a low level thug but more that her and Batman engaged in some rather public sex and things became awkward afterwards with the pair of them. I've never liked the idea of a Batman/Batgirl pairing (something which Batman Beyond and earlier animated shows alluded to) and I definitely didn't like it here. It's definitely something that no-one wanted and ultimately doesn't add anything into the mix as well.

As for the rest of the movie, it's more or less a faithful adaptation between Joker's brutal attack on Barbara, attempting to drive James Gordon mad and of course his confrontation with Batman at the amusement park and the Red Hood flashbacks. As a backstory, I've always preferred Joker's to be more ambiguous and even here he admits to remembering whatever is convenient for him. Ending the thing on a laugh from Batman was an interesting creative choice in the comic and it translates well into this movie as well.

Cast wise, Tara Strong is excellent as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and similarly both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill continue to be on fine form as both Batman and the Joker alike. The animation is pretty top notch as well, capturing the comic's look pretty well throughout the whole thing. The musical sequence falls a little flat but it's still an interesting moment though.

- The popularity of this announcement resulted in this getting a two day cinema release. How cool was that?
- There was images of the Jokers from both the 1989 Batman movie and The Dark Knight. Nice one.
- Barbara got a sassy gay best friend named Reese during her scenes in the library. We never met Colleen in this movie though.
- Harley Quinn was rumoured to have appeared in this movie. Given that Suicide Squad sort of alluded to her having a role in Jason's death in their universe, maybe they missed a trick here.

This was always going to be a polarising adaptation but honestly, I think aside from the needless Batgirl/Batman subplot, this was a pretty swift adaptation. It's not a perfect one but then again, neither is the source material but with some stunning performances from Strong, Conroy and Hamill, it's definitely a worthy addition to the collection.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, August 08, 2016

My Review of Suicide Squad (2016)

Written And Directed by David Ayer

Harley (to Flag): "We're bad guys. It's what we do."

I was hoping that after the serious divisiveness that Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice generated that Suicide Squad would be somewhat immune to it. Things seemed good with the praises for the trailers but prior to the movie's release, some of the more negative criticisms emerged and I did worry that they might have impacted the movie badly. Fortunately that doesn't seem to be the case.

Not only has the movie had an impressive opening weekend for an August release, but the disconnect between critics and cinema goers continues apace as the reception between both is worlds apart. I'm not going to pretend this movie is a cinematic masterpiece but neither am I going to deny the fact that it's an absolute unbridled mix of chaos fun either.

The premise is simple and actually follows on the consequences of DCEU's previous entries with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) wanting to assemble Taskforce X/Suicide Squad in the case the next Superman isn't quite as merciful and anyone who knows the tiniest bit about Waller will know that if she wants something, she'll do anything to get it.

The people in question for her little team include expert marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), former Arkham psychiatrist (and lover of the Joker), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Aussie robber Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Slipknot (Adam Beach) as well as the rather fiery El Diablo (Jay Hernadez) with the rather militant soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and his own assassin, Katana (Karen Fukuhara) keeping an eye on them.

Of course the other member of this group was meant to be ancient witch Enchantress, currently in the body of Flag's archaeologist girlfriend June Moone (Cara Delevingne) but within the first half of the movie, Enchantress tires of being Amanda's puppet, unleashes her brother Incbus and together the two of them cook up a scheme to wipe out humanity once and for all and they would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for that pesky squad of course.

The villains are a common problem with the DCEU movies if I'm being honest. While Enchantress is a bit of an improvement compared to this universe's depictions of Lex Luthor and Doomsday, her whole scheme feels rather underdeveloped and while her defeat comes at the hands of some genuine bad ass team moments with June actually surviving the events, it's a bit flat compared to everything else. Then again Flag and June's relationship is also pretty flat in this movie.

The best stuff about this movie are mainly our squad members to be honest. While Flag is somewhat a bland, ineffectual leader, compared to the more ruthless Waller (this is a woman who literally takes no shit from anyone and Viola Davis is amazing) and Slipknot is quickly killed off, everyone else is pretty much on point.

Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc are essentially comic relief but never in a way that it feels like either character is being demeaned while Katana doesn't say much but a fair amount on her backstory is revealed nonetheless. El Diablo is a man haunted by his past, spends most of the movie reluctant to fight before being goaded into it, is forced to confront his demons in a very telling scene with the gang before ultimately getting the heroic sacrifice by taking out Incubus for the gang. Needless to say that he was one of my favourite characters within the movie itself.

Then there's Deadshot. Will Smith can sometimes play himself in movies but this honestly didn't feel like that here. Deadshot has been a character I've grown to like in recent times (usually I've been meh on him) and in this movie, he was a far better leader of sorts than Flag could've been. I liked the exploration into his relationship with his daughter Zoe and his interactions with the rest of the gang (particularly Harley and Diablo) was nothing short of fun.

As for Harley Quinn herself - let's be honest, Margot Robbie owned the role. She was possibly the most perfect person cast for Harley and essentially she dominates this movie from start to finish. This is her movie and regardless of your stance on this film as a whole, you're gonna want to see more of Robbie in the role and in other movies and more than likely, that's exactly what's going to happen.

Harley's onscreen depiction might not be the sort of thing that will please Tumblr feminists but neither is it anywhere as problematic as they would claim it to be. I won't deny that there's a certain emphasis on the character's sexuality but at the same time there is an effort to give Harley (as well as Waller) enough agency as a character too, which the movie succeeds in doing.

Her relationship with the Joker (Jared Leto) forms a subplot in the movie. His role here is to basically expand on Harleen's backstory and nothing more. Some of the darker elements of their union are played down a bit and there's a merging of both her Mad Love and New 52 backstories (with a little twist) but essentially, this is a consistent depiction of the character and that relationship. It's hard to gauge Leto's version of the Joker but he's okay enough in the role for now. Another movie where he'll have a bigger role will determine whether or not he's truly suited for the role though.

Coming away from the movie, the four favourites for me were Harley, Deadshot, Waller and El Diablo. They're the most developed and engaging of characters with Robbie, Smith, Davis and Hernadez delivering some truly stunning performances though no-one slouches too badly here.

- As for the cameo appearances from the heroes, both Batman (Ben Affleck) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) are sublime onscreen and used appropriately in the right places here.
- The mid-credit scene perfectly sets up Justice League, even though Wonder Woman will be the next movie we'll see here.
- There are some truly fun Easter Eggs to spot in this movie ranging from the comics and other related media. Have fun spotting them.
- The soundtrack is also one of the best with the likes of Heathens, Gangsta, Without Me, Bohemian Rhapsody being some of the highlights. Music is certainly a strong point along with the colourful opening and closing credits.

Suicide Squad isn't going to go down as a masterpiece but it's a promising step in the right direction for the DCEU movie universe and it's certainly a lot of fun. This lot may be the bad guys but rooting for them wasn't that hard and I certainly came away from this movie rather pleased with what I had seen.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, August 05, 2016

My Review of Assault On Arkham (2014)

Written by Heath Corson
Directed by Jay Oliva & Ethan Spaulding

The Joker: "I'm here bitches and I've got favours for everyone."

With today being the release of Suicide Squad (and the next thing I'll be blogging about), I decided it was time to do a review of the animated movie version of one of the most dysfunctional and ever changing task force of baddies and antiheroes in the DC universe.

The movie opens with Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) trying to apprehend the ever gloating Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler) only for Batman (Kevin Conroy) to intervene, so she goes for the offensive and decides to recruit a certain group for her own agenda.

The group in question comprises of Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), King Shark (John DiMaggio), Captain Boomerang (Jonny Rees), Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito) and the short lived, KGBeast (Nolan North) who Waller instructs into breaking into Arkham in order to retrieve one of the Joker's (Troy Baker) dirty bombs while also tasking Killer Frost with the side mission of killing the Riddler for good measure.

Of course with this motley crew, things go pear shaped far too quickly. KGBeast doesn't even make it out of ARGUS without Waller shooting him and the animosity between Deadshot and Boomerang ranges from both rather amusing (I always prefer Floyd to George) to somewhat sabotaging as some of their worst bickering happens during moments when they really needed to get out of Arkham to be honest.

Then there's the whole love 'triangle' of sorts between Deadshot/Harley/Joker. It could've been a terrible subplot in lesser hands but here, it's fairly decent. Harley does get to have some sexy times with Deadshot but throughout the movie she alternates between wanting to kill her Puddin' and then of course, trying to betray the team in order to save him and allow his diabolical plan come to fruition.

The addition of Batman though gives the movie a little bit of a morality boost (although most of the 'villains' are drawn sympathetically enough here). Namely the Batman is added into the movie to ultimately stop the Joker's massive case of tainted love, lecture Waller on the extreme lengths she's willing to take to get results and also to do battle with Harley twice in the movie. It's actually Deadshot who gets the chance to have a near death battle with the Joker during the movie's climax when he doesn't later try to get back at Waller in a fairly ambiguous closing moment.

As for the rest of the characters, Waller is at her stereotypically ruthless and the Riddler is certainly happy to revel in his own cleverness, even when hoisted on his own petard. The surprise though is how well both Killer Frost and King Shark are and their rapport in the movie is oddly sweet. Black Spider shows a little bit of a moral compass but he's given too little screen time to truly standout as a character. Of course though, this movie solely belongs to Harley, Deadshot and Joker and all three are on fine form in this one.

- Cameos galore in this movie with the Penguin, Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Two Face, Scarecrow and Bane all popping up at different points as well as allusions to the likes of Killer Moth and Mr Freeze.
- There are at least three allusions to Batman Returns as well as several comics and other related media. Have fun spotting them.
- For a cartoon movie, it's definitely pretty dark in parts.
- This movie is set within the Arkham games universe.

Assault On Arkham is certainly one of DC's most successful animated features. An interesting story with the best character choices, some nice bits of grittiness laced with the right bouts of humour as well. It's going to be interesting to see how the live action version with similar and different characters will fare compared to this movie.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of New Blood's 1x07: "Case 3, Part 2"

Written by Anthony Horowitz & Daniel Fajemisin & Marlon Smith
Directed by Bill Eagles

Lorca (re Stefan/Rash): "Those two little bastards? I'll tell you why. Because I've got them where I want them. Now they're paying me money but one day, I promise you, I'm really going to make them pay."

Ooh, if that wasn't a set up for a potential second series, then I don't know what was. Of course, Stefan and Rash brought Daniel Lorca down but not without unwittingly moving into one of his apartments and the man has now promised revenge. I have to admit this was a nice way of ending this episode and adding some hope for another one.

Of course, it wasn't just Lorca who came a cropper in this one. After things got predictable in relation to Lisa, David and their charity scams (along with the obvious reveal of Lisa actually having Michael killed), we got to see a truly life or death situation with Stefan and Rash and that burning car.

Naturally both of them survived long enough to move into their new humble abode with both Stefan's former housemates and Leila helping to christen the place in a pretty fun final little moment. It might have taken seven episodes but if the show gets a second series, we can enjoy seeing how Stefan and Rash actually cope with living with each other as well as working with each other.

As for Leila, she certainly got some horrible heat over Michael's death thanks to Lisa's scheming but overall, the episode ended with her bouncing back and there were even some nice moments for Alison, Eleanor and even Derek in this episode. Derek's reaction in particular to meeting Stefan for the first time was actually pretty funny as well.

- Peri Brown herself, Nicola Bryant was the TV journalist interviewing David at the start of the episode.
- I'm surprised that Alison's uncle Peter didn't play some kind of a role in this case as he did with the previous two.
- The use of 11/12/13 (December 11th 2013) was actually pretty clever. More so than Stefan 'hacking' skills.

This show has been something of a mixed bag. It's been blessed with two likeable leading actors/characters but it's struggled a bit to develop other characters and some of the stories could've been done in less episodes but if it gets a second run, I can see myself watching it again though. This was a satisfying way of rounding the series up for the time being though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, August 04, 2016

My Review of New Blood's 1x06: "Case 3, Part 1"

Written by Anthony Horowitz & Daniel Fajemisin & Marlon Smith
Directed by Bill Eagles

Rash: "So are you gonna thank me? I was there for you, I saved you."
Stefan: "Okay, thanks. Yeah I would've got out anyway. I had a move."

Onto the third case of the series and this one already is somewhat better than the previous one as the exploration into a charity and a serial fraudster named Daniel Lorca bring both Stefan and Rash back into each other's orbit once again.

In fact the episode opened with the two of them struggling to escape from a crashed car and then went back five days prior to when Lorca's actions caused the suicides of two elderly people. I liked Eleanor's discussion on the ramifications of being scammed out of serious money and it was a moment that certainly helped to humanise her character a lot more.

I also liked that Lorca was someone unseen and unknown throughout the episode as Stefan and Rash joined up once again to try and smoke him out. I also liked the charity plot as well, especially when we met organiser Lisa Douglas (Indira Varma on good form here) and of course, her accountant, Michael.

I'll give the show some props for exploring Michael's home life (giving him a husband for example) but I also knew that the character was instant cannon fodder. However I didn't expect that his death was going to end up having a negative effect on Leila, who by the end of this episode was at risk from losing her job.

I'm not sure where the second part/series finale is going to go with this but out of the three cases so far, it's certainly a little more compelling than before. I also liked the little insights we had to both Leila and Eleanor in this one too and that rapport with Stefan and Rash keeps getting better and better.

- Three writers for this last case. That surprised me a little.
- Lisa is cooking up some scheming with an African diplomat named David Kumalah.
- Too bad Stefan and Rash's scene at the massage parlour nearly ended up in the former nearly losing his manhood. Plus side, they're still moving in together.

Definitely the strongest episode so far. I liked the tension, the humour, the fact that both Eleanor and Leila had those choice character moments as well. I just hope that the second part resolves this one well though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

My Review of Looking: The Movie (2016)

Written by Andrew Haigh And Michael Lannan
Directed by Andrew Haigh

Patrick: "I came here to close a chapter"

Despite some unfortunate ratings and HBO inevitably calling time on this modest show after only two seasons, a movie was still commissioned to offer fans of the series some closure and it somewhat managed to do that in the space of 90 minutes.

Taking place at least nine months after the end of the second season, Patrick has returned to San Francisco (he relocated, quit his job, broke up with Kevin etc) just in time for Agustin and Eddie's wedding and within this movie, there was a lot of unresolved issues that needed to be resolved.

First of all, the break up with Kevin. It was messy and thanks to their shared app, they've still had to occasionally contact each other. We learned in this movie that Kevin got back together with his ex but that didn't stop him from giving Patrick a few home truths as well as the acknowledgment of some of his own shortcomings. Fans hoping for a reunion between the pair of them will be somewhat disappointed but overall, closure was achieved between the two of them nonetheless.

Then there was Patrick and Ritchie. At the end of the second season, Ritchie cut Patrick's hair and there was a hint of a reunion of sorts. At the start of this one, they're on good terms but Ritchie's boyfriend Brady is still around and has managed to become even more annoying than before. Of course time around, instead of mutual passive aggression to each other, both Patrick and Brady were somewhat more vocal in their mutual dislike for one another.

While I didn't like the idea of either going on about to act as a gay man (Brady has some serious projection issues), I did like the end result. Ritchie did us all a favour (and himself) and dumped Brady before getting back together with Patrick. I wasn't actually expecting a reunion between the pair of them but the way the movie played it was spot on and helped to end things on a really strong note.

Of course when Patrick wasn't dealing with his two prominent exes, he was also having sex with a fit younger guy named Jimmy (Michael Rosen) but there was also a subplot where his sexual past with Dom got some exploration. At one point, the two of them got close to having sex with each other once again but ultimately that storyline fizzled out before anything more pressing could happen with it.

Then there was the wedding itself. I haven't been shy in my love for Agustin and Eddie as a couple (they were the best part of the second season for me) and I've loved the growth in Agustin's character as well. Here though we got some mutual wedding jitters from the pair and a part of me was dreading that they'd split but again, this was a good one for the shipper in me as their wedding went ahead and then the somewhat hedonistic-lite reception do that followed. That in itself is why this movie did so well for me.

- Nice guest appearance from Tyne Daly in this movie. She was the one to marry Agustin/Eddie. Cleve Jones also appeared as himself in this one.
- Some of the music choices in this movie were superb, especially with the use of Britney Spears, the Housemartins, New Order and John Grant.
- Was Doris pregnant in this movie or trying to? I have to admit, I tuned out a little there and I do like the character. It's a pity we didn't see Dom hook up with someone else in this movie too.
- Nice references to the likes of The Goonies, Saw and Brokeback Mountain to name a few.

Now this was a satisfying of tying up some loose end. Looking: The Movie gave nearly every character a satisfying conclusion and while you can argue the focus was a little Patrick heavy at times (like the series had been), I am thankful that HBO allowed the show to end on a very strong note with this movie. Absolutely superb.

Rating: 9 out of 10