Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A Town For Outcasts

Summer's nearly over but there's still be some highlights (and catching up for me) as I look into some of the recent stuff I've watched.


Game Of Thrones: It seems that moving this mammoth of a show to the summer for it's seventh and penultimate season hasn't hurt it in the slightest as the ratings have continued to impress. In spite of leaks and one truly unwarranted cameo from Ed Sheeran in the opening episode, this season has been amazing so far. We've had two epic battle sequences as both Cersei and Daenerys have fought for supremacy while the latter's meeting with Jon Snow has intensified pretty fast too. Along with some characters (Sand Snakes, Ellaria and Olenna) and the reunion of the three Stark children, this season certainly hasn't been idle so far and with three episodes left to go, I can't wait to see what else is in store for us.


Iron Fist: I'm halfway through this series and it's still in dire need of picking up the pace. Out of all the Marvel/Netflix shows, it's definitely emerging as the weakest as even I'm struggling a little with Finn Jones as Danny Rand. So far, he's been a bit too meh for my liking in the role. On the other hand, Colleen is more interesting, Claire has popped up and the Meachums are also picking up a little as well. The plotline with the Hand isn't much better than what we've gotten on Daredevil so far but hopefully it'll pick up in later episodes.


Luke Cage: Like it's other Marvel/Netflix show, there are some pacing issues but I am overall finding this one a bit better than the other one. Once again, you've got Claire Temple added into the mix and the ongoing rivalry between Luke and Cottonmouth has heated up nicely along with Mariah's own machinations as well. Much as I like Misty though, the show could do a little better with her other than her finding out about her corrupt partner and being a thorn for Luke though. I did however enjoy the flashbacks to how Luke got his powers though.


Midnight, Texas: Nine years ago, HBO adapted Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books and turned it into one of their most successful shows with True Blood, which ran for seven seasons. Now in 2017, NBC have done the same with one of Harris's more recent works and are probably hoping for a similar success story. This show has a lot in common with the former HBO hit  - a medium type protagonist, an assortment of colourful characters and an array of all kind of craziness and monsters that go bump in the night. Manfred might be our leading man but it's the other characters that I think people will stay for. Whether that's vampire Lemuel and hitwoman Olivia or witch Fiji (and her talking cat) or angel Joe and his husband, Chuy, this is a show that's hokey but filled with a memorable group of characters but whether or not it will around for long given NBC's history with supernatural themed shows is the other thing. Here's hoping though.


Orange Is The New Black: I have only two episodes left to go and I'm still rather surprised that the riot storyline hasn't completely tested my patience. Maybe it's because we've had some interesting flashbacks (Piscatella's) or the whole situation with Red and Piscatella coming to a head while Tasytee has also been trying to get Joe and Figuaro to actually work things out for the prisoners but either way, it's worked out pretty well so far. That said, after the last two episodes are watched, I do wonder how the show will go as things have definitely been changed a lot this season.


- Jeff Ward will have a recurring role in Agents Of Shield's fifth season. His character name has yet to be revealed.
- ITV are planning another adaptation of Pride & Prejudice for 2020 from the same production company as Poldark and Victoria.
- Hartley Sawyer has been cast as Elongated Man for Season 4 of The Flash.
- Carlos Bernard will play Maggie's father in Season 3 of Supergirl.
- Annabeth Gish will return for Season 11 of The X Files.
- Will & Grace has been renewed for a tenth season while it's upcoming ninth season will now be 16 episodes.
- Brianna Brown will recur in Dynasty's first season. Netflix have picked up the show for UK viewers.
- Emma Roberts will be returning for American Horror Story: Cult but Kathy Bates will not.
- Esai Morales and Benito Martinez will be back for How To Get Away With Murder's fourth season.
- Sydelle Noelle will recur in Arrow's upcoming sixth season.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

My Review of Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010)


Written by Judd Winick
Directed by Brandon Vietti

Red Hood: "Tell me, how does that feel?"
Joker: "You know, it only hurts when I laugh. But hey... I gotta know. Who are you? You said we knew one another. You do seem really familiar. We double at the prom? Or maybe blow up a school bus together?"

And here's another animated movie adapting a popular comic within the Batman franchise. This time around, it's Under The Red Hood which starts with a handy recap of A Death In The Family where the Joker kidnapped and bashed in Jason Todd's Robin's brains in before an explosion killed him. Back in the late 1980's, people actually voted for the second Boy Wonder to be killed but you know, the thing about comic book characters is that very few of them actually stay dead for long.

Now a few decades later and Jason Todd is back, resurrected by the Lazarus Pit in some attempt by Ras al Ghul (Jason Isaacs) to give Bruce back his other son but the process went a bit wrong and now Jason has gone into a weird hybrid of vigilante meets serial killer by donning the moniker of Red Hood, a name formerly used by someone else all those years ago.

Voiced by Supernatural actor Jensen Ackles, Jason's on a one man mission of revenge against the Joker (John DiMaggio) and he does this by targeting Black Mask's (Wade Williams) criminal organisation, bringing it to it's knees and making the gangster so desperate to take out the Red Hood that the Joker suddenly becomes the best option here.

To say that Black Mask is a patsy in this story would almost be complimenting him. He's never been one of my favourite members of the Rogues Gallery but he's absolutely useless in this story. All he seems to do is shout like an imbecile at his beleaguered staff, with even one member Ms Li (Kelly Hu) treating him with little more than contempt and disdain for him. At no point in this movie is he remotely interesting or threatening as a villain.

As for the Joker, he's not got the best voice actor in this one. I've heard DiMaggio in other DC animated movie roles and he's fine but he simply doesn't cut it as the Joker, even though he's given a decent script to work with here. His Joker is certainly lethal in the flashbacks and the delight he takes when he realises that Jason is alive and crazy is amusing enough but the voice just doesn't sound right, no matter how many times I've seen the movie. Sometimes you just need a Mark Hamill for this type of movie.

As for Batman (Bruce Greenwood), he fares a little better but mostly he's reacting to Red Hood's antics or remembering Jason's formative years as Robin before their confrontation with the Joker in the warehouse. There's a nice supporting role for Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) who's a bit more cheerful but sadly he's also taken out of the mix a little too quickly for my liking. The movie does however end on a rather poignant and bittersweet note.

- Nice reference to The Killing Joke, which happened a year after the events of Jason's murder. Shame we didn't get an Oracle cameo in this one.
- Judd Winick wrote the comic and adapted this movie. Apparently he prefers the latter iteration.
- There's a clever reference to the Joker's first ever comic appearance with his prison number.
-  We've seen allusions to Jason's murder in two of the DCEU's movies. Oh and a brief Riddler cameo in flashbacks too.

A strong movie, Under The Red Hood provided a great adaptation of it's comic counterpart. While I do think the Joker could've been voiced better and found Black Mask useless, Jason made for a compelling character as Red Hood than he ever did as Robin and the reunion with him and Batman was definitely handled well.

Rating: 7 out of 10