Thursday, February 27, 2020

American Horror Story - Season 10 Cast Announced

We might be months away from production and filming taking off, but yesterday and courtesy of Instagram, Ryan Murphy only went and announced the cast for the upcoming tenth season of American Horror Story and once again, he's not messing around.

Appearing in Season 10 will be Kathy Bates, Leslie Grossman, Adina Porter, Billie Lourd, Sarah Paulson, Angelica Ross,Finn Wittrock, Lily Rabe, Evan Peters and newcomer to the series, Macaulay Culkin. The cast were announced in a rather cryptic trailer but it's going to be a while before we find out who any of these people are playing.

The trailer, set to Orville Peck's Dead Of Night didn't reveal the title of the tenth season's theme but it seem that most are speculating it will be a nautical or coastal themed season. It probably matches up for now but given Ryan Murphy, the trailer could be also a misdirection as well. Either way, we've got a stellar cast here with Culkin being a very interesting addition to the show and we're also safe in the knowledge that aside from this current season, we've got three more to go.

Season 10 Trailer:

Season 10 of American Horror Story will begin filming in the summer and will air on FX and FOXUK during the autumn. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 5x05: "Mortal Khanbat"

Written by Grainne Godfree & Mark Bruner
Directed by Caity Lotz

Ray: "How did you get Astra to change her mind?"
Constantine: "By making a promise that I intend to keep. Hail the Waverider. I need to see a lady about a loom."

Again and like the last two episodes, it's felt like we've been watching two different shows at once. On the plus side, both plots were excellent and the last scene pretty confirmed that we're back to having John Constantine on the Waverider for the remainder of the season.

Granted he did appear on the Waverider first to have Gideon confirm that he was dying of lung cancer, only to go back to his spooky little house with both Ray and an OTT Gary trying to help him find a cure. When most of that was failing, John lashed out at his friends, realised he was being even more of a bastard than usual and then prepared a last supper.

It was then that the use of poison and the promise of bringing Natalie back to life that Astra relented in her mission to kill John and spared his life. I'm not surprised that they put the lung cancer story on hold for a bit and neither am I mad about it either. Also as annoying as Gary was in this episode (love Adam Tsekhman, but the writers seriously need to dial Gary's behaviour down a few notches), I did on a shallow level enjoy that brief snog that him and John shared as well.

As for John, he was desperate to learn more about the Loom of Fate and Charlie herself was desperate to not tell him a thing, but this episode not only revealed that her and Behrad had sex between seasons but more importantly, it seems that Charlie's a Fae who could previously write peoples destinies but  destroyed the Loom as she wanted people to have free will and has been hiding from murderous sisters ever since.

Charlie has been a fantastic addition to the show and it's amazing how Maisie Richardson-Sellers have done wonders to differentiate between Amaya and Charlie. Charlie's backstory, I love it and the whole thing she's got going on with Behrad actually works too. He's getting there as a character and pairing him with Charlie I feel will be a great move for the character too.

As for the Encore of the week: Genghis Khan (Terry Chen) was handled pretty well, between taking over the Triad and trying to kill Prince Charles with his crew on scooters (which Nate was not impressed with) before being taken out by Charlie.

We also got some John Wick lite type action sequences as well, which put Ava's gun skills to use before Sara nearly tripped over a load of scooters for her one scene of the episode. Sara's absence in the last two episodes hasn't hurt the show but at the same time, I am glad that she's back on the Waverider.

- Caity Lotz stepped behind the cameras to direct this episode and she did a great job. I wouldn't be surprised if she does another one next season.
- Ray wanting to propose to Nora, I think this time he'll get his happy ending but it's disappointing we're losing two excellent characters. Marie Antoinette is also on the Waverider still.
- Zari seems to be flirting a little with Nate, but nothing here indicated that she remembered anything else. She did seem a bit flirty with Charlie while Mick looked after Prince Charles for his only scene this week.
- 1997 Hong Kong and 2020 Northumberland again.

Mortal Khanbat really felt like it could've been a television episode from the 1990's so it's setting was absolutely spot in this week. So far, my favourite episode this season, with both the Charlie and Constantine plots being on top form, excellent directing from Caity Lotz, more consequences from Crisis On Infinite Earths revealing themselves and the use of scooters.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My Review of Doctor Who's 12x09: "Ascension Of The Cybermen"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Jamie Magnus Stone

The Master: "That's a good entrance, right? Be afraid, Doctor because everything is about to change forever."

Oh shit. Those rumours are going to be true, Chibnall is going to go there and mess about previously established lore in a massive way and it's going to end up causing more headaches than anything else. Come on, Chris, I'm all for you taking risks but this might be one risk too big for the show to come back from. Oh fuck, he's going there, isn't he?

Anyways on to the main action of this episode, well it felt like we were watching two different stories waiting to actually connect with one another but they didn't. Inevitably they will though next week but even still, it did feel like watching two different shows at times.

Taking a trip to an unspecified part of Ireland (the amount of frustration with this, I could go to town with) a little baby boy got adopted by a nice rural family, gets called Brendan, grows up to be a strapping young Garda (Evan McCabe), then gets himself shot into the head, dives off a cliff and doesn't fecking die at all.

Then there's the bit where he's older, retiring and his non ageing father and mentor cuff him to a chair in the station and decide to start the process all over again. Yeah, right, now I'm running on the assumption that Brendan's one of the Timeless Children with Ruth/Fugitive Doctor probably being another but seeing how this will all be resolved in a satisfying manner on Sunday will be the real test here.

Elsewhere, the Cyberwarriors were rocking up led by the very emotional Ashad and the last few humans had the blessing and curse of also being paired off with the Doctor and her companions. Not many of them really stood out, except for Ravio (Julie Graham) who seemed to have a bit of a flirty rapport with Graham but basically Team Graham/Yaz got trapped on a ship with a mess load of Cybermen as Ashad had woke up his band of warriors.

As for Team Doctor/Ryan, well they did manage to meet Ko Sharmus (Ian McElhinney) who was some sort of ferryman surrouding the Border but the real exciting bit was the Master coming back at exactly the last minute to tell the Doctor that everything was about to change. With one episode left at least we know he's not entirely taking the piss with this one.

- Julie Graham previously popped up in The Sarah Jane Adventures as Ruby White. A part of me did wonder if Ravio was going to be revealed as another Doctor.
- Nice mixture of different era Cybermen for this episode but no Mondasian ones? They worked so well in World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls.
- Back to the cold open again and also the use of the middle eight during the end credits.
- It does feel like they're setting up a companion death but which one though?
- The Cyberdrones looked absolutely ridiculous.
- Chronology: Ireland throughout various decades, but most of the action was space based.

Ascension Of The Cybermen - it's a decent enough set up to the finale and while I'm sure the Brendan plot will tie into the other stuff next week, it did feel too separate from the main action and the latter itself certainly felt too padded out for it's own good. Thank goodness the Master rocked up at the last minute.

Rating: 7 out of 10

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x13: "The Final Joke"

Written by Tom Hyndman
Directed by Brandon McKinney

Joker: "You're nothing without me."
Harley: "You always tried to make me think that but it's not true. I have friends that love and care about me. I'm moving on with my life with the people that matter and that ain't you, Puddin'. Drop him."
Poison Ivy: "Love to."

Remember last week how I was a bit down on DC and their love affair with bumping off Poison Ivy? Well, in a predictable and utterly delightful move, she's alive and while it took the last five minutes for her to show up, her return was more than welcomed by everyone. Except for the Joker of course. He wasn't best pleased to see her.

As for the majority of the episode, the Joker took over Gotham, got Batman practically handed to him on a plate when Harley's first attempt to attack went belly up and pretty soon got bored, as you would have expected him too. The Scarecrow also proving that he's the least intelligent person in the room (at least on this show) also had to kill the mystery of the Batman and got himself killed as a result.

Using her captured crew in order to spur herself into action, Harley used the threat of suicide to get their freedom before the Joker decided to come up with the worst punishment he could think of for his ever evolving ex-girlfriend.

The idea of rendering Harley "normal" was so interesting a punishment that of course, it had to backfire and thanks to Ivy, the Joker has now suffered a fate worse than death - being sane and it's going to be interesting going into a second season seeing how this development plays out. I can't think of a far more satisfying way of dealing with the Joker and the inevitable carnage that will happen when he's back to himself.

As for Gotham - well that ended up in ruins and with Batman missing and Joker a nobody, Harley really did get her victory lap with some help from her friends. Now that she's somewhat achieved her goal and both the Justice League and Legion of Doom pose no immediate threat to her (both will inevitably regroup), where does this show go next?

- Joker's punishments for the crew were removing King Shark's teeth for a necklace, making Dr Psycho watch feminism rallies, pushing Sy Borgman down a flight of stairs and using Clayface for pottery class.
- I'm hoping Kite Man joins the crew next season. I like him a lot and he does genuinely care about Ivy.
- The commentary about Harley's original look (which I do love) was timely considering how critical some fans have been about the character's various looks in the DCEU straying from the original.
- Chronology: The Joker had one hell of a long birthday throughout this whole episode.

The Final Joke would've made for a satisfying series finale but I am so pleased this fun series has gotten a second run (it's back in April). The show took the idea of Harley in a post Joker world and showed why the idea works and why DC can never regress the character and reunite her with her "Puddin'".

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 5x04: "A Head Of Her Time"

Written by Morgan Faust
Directed by Avi Youbain

Ava (to the Legends): "Well, looks like we have a mission, so everyone stop looking so Les Miserables because we are going to France."

Oui, Oui, indeed, Ava. Yup, we've had some male Encores and now it's time for a female one and this week, Courtney Ford had the fun of playing double duty by briefly appearing as Nora and mostly as Marie Antoinette as the latter got a whole new lease on life thanks to Astra yet again.

Having Marie use a charming perfume while also getting people to party themselves to death actually made for a delightfully twisted method of revenge and worked rather well, until the Legends put a stop to the whole thing. Then Zari let her own vanity get in the way and learned the hard way about mixing unstable fragrances with a massive PR event.

I do love that while this show has been having a blast with the Influencer version of Zari, the character has never lost her smarts at all. We're just seeing them in a different way as she bonded with Ava and both of them helped the other out at certain situation. I also like that the show has slowly been hinting at Zari getting her memories back.

As for Marie Antoinette, she didn't have as much to do as the Encore from last week, but her scenes were certainly fun to watch especially when both Mick and Ray had to stop her headless body from causing maximum havoc on the Waverider. It's also nice to see that some of Ava's advice was heeded during a crucial moment.

Getting away from the main storyline from a bit, the second plot involving Constantine, Charlie and Gary was also pretty delightful to watch. Throughout the episode, we saw John re-examine his past relationship with Astra's mother, Natalie as the latter used Charlie's body to make sure that John was saving Astra for the right reasons.

Unfortunately for John though, Astra really has had enough of his shit and took things a lot further by getting another resident (the Coin Maker) in Hell to speed up Constantine's life expectancy. Fans of a certain arc from Hellblazer might be intrigued to see how the show will pull of this particular storyline as the episode certainly left John in a bad way.

As for Charlie, it's nice this episode finally delved into her past. She originally destroyed the Loom of Fate and she's been hiding every since because something's coming after her as well. Now the only thing we need to do will be to get both John and Charlie's storylines back in with the Legends and the sooner the better.

- Sara appeared in only two scenes this week as she had business to attend to in Star City. That probably was to do with Oliver's funeral and something else.
- We got some flashbacks to John and Natalie, both as a couple and as children first discovering magic. The arc they're running with happens to be Dangerous Habits.
- Of course Nate would punch Zari's Smore wearing now ex-boyfriend. I also made a note of things like CatChat and Dragoneque with this one too.
- Chronology: 2020 Northumberland, England, 1793 France and 2045 New York. The episode also snuck in a brief Napoleon cameo as well.

A Head Of Her Time had a lot of fun with the Marie Antoinette and Zari stories nicely interlinking with one another while also getting down with the more serious stuff with the Constantine/Charlie/Astra plot as well. This season so far has been coming along rather nicely and Ava made for an okay interim Captain.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

My Review of Doctor Who's 12x08: "The Haunting Of Villa Diodati"

Written by Maxine Alderton
Directed by Emma Sullivan

Lone Cyberman: "You irritate me."
The Doctor: "How very human. Still feel things then? No inhibitor yet."

After last week's probably well meaning but misguided misfire, we are finally back to moving at least one of the main arcs and it's the Lone Cyberman one as the latter finally made his debut and certainly left something of an impression on the Doctor, her companions and the historical characters involved.

Cybermen episodes have not been as well received as other baddies and even in their good ones, they're usually upstaged by other episodes (other enemies, companion departures, etc) but here, it's just half formed Cyberman on the loose, desperate to get the thing it wants and leaving the episode with the Doctor doing the exact opposite of what Jack warned three weeks ago.

The setting for this one was excellently chosen. Yes, I know having an episode with Mary Shelley (Lili Miller) and Cybermen isn't exactly a new thing for this show in a wider media context but it's a first for TV and it's far better done than expected. Simply put, can Maxine Alderton come back next series?

Along with Shelley, you have her husband, Percy (Lewis Rainer), Lord Byron (Jacob Collins-Levy), Dr John Polidari (Maxim Baldry), Elise (Sarah Perles) and Claire Clairmont (Nadia Parkes) and while some episodes have struggled with a sizeable guest cast, this episode managed to utilise the majority of these characters pretty well. It's clear that Alderton definitely did her research with these particular characters, especially with Mary, Percy and Byron in particular.

I liked the flirtatious Byron being unable to impress the Doctor while Ryan dealt with Polidari's mood swings and Yaz even had some good moments with Elise as Graham had to go to the bathroom during the most dire of situations. The humour actually worked in the episode along with the foreboding horror but getting back to our main arc though, things really got interesting.

I loved how vicious and vindictive the Lone Cyberman, formerly known as Ashad (Patrick O'Kane) was in this episode. Mary Shelley's attempts of reaching out to it's humanity failed and the Doctor took the Cyberium from Percy to host it herself before having to surrender it to the Lone Cyberman and thus damning the universe to the ongoing Cyber Wars of the future.

What I also liked was the darker turn of the Doctor here as well. There's an overwhelming feeling that we're approaching the end of days with the Doctor and her current companions and that's pretty exciting. I want this Doctor to have a loss and I get the feeling she's going to get one in the next two episodes as we hurtle into the Cyber Wars.

- Of course, Big Finish will point out that Eighth Doctor previously traveled with Mary Shelley (Julie Cox), though this episode doesn't make any references to that.
- Nice waistcoat the Doctor was sporting in this episode and didn't Ryan, Yasmin and Graham all look gorgeous in period costume this week?
- Byron ended the episode reading a passage from Darkness and it's a pretty damning commentary on the Doctor when you think about it.
- We got the cold opening again. Can we just bring them back full time next series?
- We already met Byron's daughter in the second part of Spyfall earlier this series. The Doctor mentions the character while telling everyone else not to interfere or snog Byron. Disappointed no-one snogged Byron tbh.
- Chronology: June 1816, Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

The Haunting Of Villa Diodati - it's exactly the type of episode we need to see more. Easily one of the best historical episodes we've had in the series run, brilliant use of it's guest characters, probably one of the best uses of the Cybermen, a gorgeous setting, creepy atmosphere and some lovely character bits. Now this is more like it.

Rating: 9 out of 10

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x12: "Devil's Snare"

Written by Jane Becker
Directed by Juan Meza-Leon

Harley: "You risked your life and killed trees for us. I thought you didn't love anything more than trees."
Poison Ivy: "Yeah, well, y'know I guess there are a handful of exceptions."

Okay, DC we need to have a talk. There's this thing you've been doing quite a bit now and it's starting to get a little too formulaic/predictable/tiresome and what not and that's killing off Poison Ivy. Seriously, DC you gotta knock that shit off right about now.

Everything in this episode was going so well until the last minute. Ivy and Harley were making up, the reveal of Kite Man being the latter's boyfriend to everyone was as funny as expected and Ivy even grew to Giganta size to take out some homicidal trees.

Then the Joker to prove what an absolute tool he's become put a spear through Poison Ivy. With the finale left to go, I'm hoping that Harley will beat seven shades of shite out of the Joker and Ivy will somehow be restored. Don't care, but just do it as she's been a huge part of what has made this show a massive joy to watch.

Ivy's unfortunate death to one side, it was nice to see Kite Man step a little here too and actually help save the gang from a giant as this episode eschewed the Scarecrow as a threat in order to have Joker/Queen of Fables team up. The latter however didn't make it out of the episode alive but she certainly earned her stripes as a massive pain in the ass to the gang.

As for our actual heroes. The Justice League showed up, took out some trees, nearly relegated Harley and the gang to the Phantom Zone before being trapped in a book by Fables while Batman spent most of his time trying to talk Gordon out of using a tank. Oh and the Legion of Doom aren't in better shape either.

- Ivy had the lasso of truth used on her and it seems like she's not the biggest fan of paper straws after all.
- I knew the episode wouldn't resist having Dr Psycho being turned on by Ivy being a giant for a bit here. Psycho got some brilliant lines as did Shark and Clayface.
- Harley isn't keen on the idea of living in Metropolis. Kite Man also proposed to Ivy and she didn't exactly turn him down either.
- Chronology: From where the last episode left off.

Devil's Snare certainly packed a punch as it flitted between so many obstacles and baddies but I definitely could've done without the last bit. Still though, it's still one of the best episodes from the series and I'm hoping the finale certainly pays things off.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Batman - Camera Test Suit Reveal/More Casting News

It's been a while since I've done a blog on the upcoming movie, The Batman as I wanted to wait until there was more solid information to go on, but with filming underway, more casting reveals and Matt Reeves practically breaking the internet last night, here's another one for you.

Last night, Matt Reeves used his Twitter and Vimeo accounts to unveil a brief first look of Robert Pattinson's Batman suit and while the choice of red lighting drew some comparisons to Daredevil of all things, the look is certainly interesting. From what we can see, it seems like Reeves might be drawing from the Arkham Knight games with this particular take on the Batsuit. In other news, it's also been confirmed that the movie, co-written by Reeves and Mattson Tomlin will be set during the Caped Crusader's second year on the job. Oh and a shout out to the hints of Michael Giacchino's score music during this little camera test as well, which bodes well for the movie. Meanwhile as for more casting, here we go ....

Andy Serkis has been cast in the role of Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, replacing Jeremy Irons who previously played the role in both Batman V. Superman and Justice League. Serkis along with appearing as Alfred in this movie is also directing the sequel to Venom. It's a solid casting choice and makes a change from casting him as a villain, which the MCU already did.

John Turturro will take on the role of mafia crime boss, Carmine Falcone. This will be the third live action depiction of the character in recent year as we've seen Tom Wilkinson portray the character in Batman Begins and John Doman in Gotham. I do get the impression that Falcone will be an early casualty in this movie as Batman's rogues gallery continue to grow in numbers.

Meanwhile Peter Sarsgaard will be taking on the role of Gil Colson, the district attorney for Gotham. I've seen some speculate that this might be an alias before revealing him as Harvey Dent or that Colson will be later replaced by Dent and the latter seems the likely character. There was also a similarly named character who appeared in Batman: The Animated Series during the two parter which debuted Batgirl. Sarsgaard's wife, Maggie Gyllenhaal previously played Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight.

As for Oswald 'Oz' Cobblepot, aka the Penguin, it took for filming to begin for Colin Farrell to finally be confirmed for the role. It seems that we'll be seeing a slightly younger, thinner version of the character with whitish blond hair, possibly drawing from the Emperor Penguin storylines in the comics.  As of now we still don't know for certain who the main antagonist of the movie.

Last but not no means we have Jayme Lawson who will be playing an original character in the movie named Bella Real. This character has been described as a mayoral candidate and not much else so far. Aside from Zoe Kravitz's Catwoman, Bella seems to be the only other prominent female character in this movie. I'm hoping there's a few more as filming continues and more casting details are unveiled in the coming months.

Batman Camera Test:

The Batman is currently filming and will be released in cinemas June 25th 2021.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Valentine's: Metal & Gold Style

It's been a while since I've done one of these, so here's goes, a look at some of the stuff I've been recently catching up with.

Arrow: Post Crisis, the final two episodes of this show really did end on a pretty strong note. First of all was another trip into 2040 to set up the likely to be picked up Green Arrow And The Canaries series with Mia, Laurel and Dinah while back in 2020, the gang said goodbye to Oliver and many, many characters returned to pay their respects. This wasn't always a perfect show but it's set up an incredible legacy for the CW and for a final episode, it was a good send off for the series.

Batwoman: Keeping with everything post Crisis, having another Beth was another complication I didn't expect the show to give us. It's a good one but also one that seems unlikely to last considering that other Beth and Alice clearly cannot co-exist with one another. I'm not wanting to jump the gun here, but there seems to be a bit of a slow improvement in the writing here. Losing Catherine and having Jacob in prison certainly hasn't hurt proceedings and I did like the lowkey introduction of Slam Bradley as well as Mary continuing to be fun to watch. Luke could do with a bit more development though and I'm beginning to tire a little of Mouse.

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: Part 3 was released last month and I'm slowly catching up with it, considering there are less episodes and I don't want to watch it too quickly. Two episodes in so far and it's pretty good. Nick got released from hell quickly, Blackwood and Lucifer are roomies in a dungeon, Lilith is clearly using Sabrina to try and keep Caliban at bay and Sabrina herself seems to be in a position now where her own morality will continue to take a darker turn as her mortal friends get roped into things. Really could do without the Ambrose/Prudence romantic pairing though.

Good Omens: This was released last summer on Amazon, never bothered with it and now that BBC2 have been burning it off, it's been pretty decent to watch. The banter and chemistry between Michael Sheen and David Tennant has obviously been the biggest selling point as the unlikely pairing of Aziraphale and Crowley as the two of them have been joining forces to prevent the next apocalypse. Aside from spotting the famous celebrity, it's mostly about these two.

Supergirl: A return to a world now merged with the main universe. Two episodes in and it's certainly helped this show as Kara and Lex have no choice to work together while trying to undermine the other as Lena's dark path continued. I did like the return of our Winn and the introduction of another Earth's Toyman but the Nia/Brainy break up felt a bit trite and I do think the show still struggles a bit with both William and Andrea as characters. On the other hand, at least the Leviathan plot has moved a bit along.

The Flash: I've actually liked the last two episodes of Season 6 than most of the first half of the season. The reintroductions of characters like Doctor Light, Amunet and Goldface have been interesting along with Iris now being trapped in the mirror universe to set up the arrival of Eva McCulloch. Saying that though, some of the other characters need better focus, Nash's connection to Allegra was somewhat predictable and Barry seemed a bit ineffectual in his own show, which isn't a good look.

The L Word: Generation Q: And it's back again. Ten years later and one reality based show hardly anyone watched, one of Showtime's most known hits has returned for a sequel series that attempted to blend the old (Bette, Alice, Shane) with the new (Micah, Dani, Sophie, Finley, etc) and two episodes in, it's mostly a mixed bag. It's nice to see the older characters back and get that insight into their lives over the last decade while missing some other characters but so far, none of the new ones have really stood out and despite the taglines going on about being more relevant to the current year, it doesn't feel that different to the original series in terms of representation. So far though, it's okay.

- Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been cast in an undisclosed role for the upcoming Loki series for Disney+. The series will premiere in 2021 but closer to that will be The Falcon And The Winter Soldier in August and WandaVision in December.
- American Horror Story has been renewed for a further three seasons.
- You's third season has begun filming but will be released in 2021.
- John Glover will be appearing in the final season of Lucifer.
- Superman & Lois is officially a go for the CW.
- Hulu will be taking on The Hardy Boys as a series while the CW will attempt to tackle Lost Boys yet again.
- Ray Donovan has been axed after seven seasons while Shameless will end with eleven seasons.
- E4 have gotten the rights for both Batwoman and Harley Quinn TV series.
- Odette Annable and Chris Wood have been cast as siblings for the upcoming Thirtysomething sequel series.
- The prequel series for The 100 will not be called Anaconda, despite previous media reports of that title.

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 5x03: "Slay Anything"

Written by Matthew Maala & Tyron B. Carter
Directed by Alexandra La Roche

Nate: "This went from John Hughes to John Carpenter."
Nora: "I take it back, high school sucks."

So, this episode was always going to be very much one that would be in my favour. I'm surprised it's taken them five seasons to lampoon the horror/slasher movie trope and boy, did this one have a lot of fun with it as well.

With the majority of our cast heading to the prom, there's a serial killer on the loose and Ava got the chance to prove she's an even bigger serial killer fan than David and Maureen from Psychoville as Freddy Meyers (Seth Meriwether) seemingly survived being executed in 2004 so he could get revenge on his former classmates yet again, including original survivor, Tiffany.

Well, it seemed that's what was happening in this episode, so to complicate matters, Nora ended up as Freddy's fairy godmother and this was where the episode shined. Nora seems to be a dab at this fairy godmother lark and she definitely went out of her way to protect Freddy from rejection and being a figure of ridicule by cliched bullies and when it looked like she had changed his fate, well, more deaths happened including Mick and Sara.

Yes, the twist of the episode was that Freddy wasn't the serial killer after all, it was his mother, Kathy (Beth Riesgraf), who seemed even more determined to save her boy than Pamela Voorhees ever was. It was a nice twist and even better to see when it was reversed that Freddy managed to survive both high school and his mother being a serial killer.

The prom setting was a great place for this Encore plotline. On top of Ava's serial killer fangirling, Nora's current job, the episode also afforded a bit of a plot for Mick as he hooked up with a former flame, Ali while the rest of the gang took some photos. Plus side, at least Mick finally got some decent screen time this season and hopefully it won't be the only time either.

As for Zari, the episode threw some hints of her memories slowly coming back to her as she was able to hack her way out of the Waverider but for now, we're still in Influencer mode with the character, which might grate if they overextend the idea. I do however like the rapport with Zari and Behrad though as the latter actually got to use his air totem during a crucial moment.

Last but not least, there was Constantine. He scarpered from the Waverider, went to his stomping ground with Gary and was somewhat pissed off with Charlie making herself at home in his humble abode. However, Charlie did manage to get Constantine to face up to some old demons and it looks like we're going to be meeting Astra's mother next week now that John has taken another dimensional trip of sorts.

- I had to laugh at Nora's annoyance over kids wanting ponies, including at one point, even Freddy. Also nice she's getting to mix up her looks and her DJ skills were decent.
- This episode managed to quietly reveal that Charlie's pansexual to the absolute surprise of no-one. Say what you want about the Arrowverse, but it continues to bring it's A game with LGBT characters.
- Astra sat this episode out again but given we're meeting her mother next week, she should be back a bit sooner.
- Let's see, 1989, 2004 and 2020 all factored into this episode.

Slay Anything had the wonderful ingredients of horror, high school and utilised them pretty well with nearly everyone getting a sizeable amount of screen time and the serial killer twist was done pretty well. Constantine, Charlie and Gary were divorced from the main story but their shorter screentime was also good to watch.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

My Review of Doctor Who's 12x07: "Can You Hear Me?"

Written by Charlene James & Chris Chibnall
Directed by Emma Sullivan

The Doctor (to Zellin/Rakaya): "Thanks for lending a helping hand."
Ryan: "Really?"
The Doctor: "I couldn't resist."

Okay, so this episode was a thing then. For the third week in a row, we've got Chris Chibnall co-writing an episode and for the second week, one that doesn't really advance the Timeless Child atc that much either. What we do get however happened to be a mish mash of various ideas all not really coming together as well as it would want, along with an attempt of a powerful message that got muddled as the episode went along.

First of all, because it needs to be emphasised - tackling issues such as mental health are not woke. They're issues that can and should be explored and to emphasise another obvious point, this was not the first episode to attempt to raise the issue of mental health either. Have people already forgotten Vincent And The Doctor because I certainly haven't?

Unfortunately despite the best intentions this episode clearly set out to do, it's depiction of mental health here doesn't land quite as well as it could've done. For instance, let's talk about Yasmin Khan. It's been eighteen episodes since the character's introduction and now, Chibnall decided it was time to bother to give her a backstory? Um, thanks, Chris but this would've been so much better had you done this an entire series beforehand. I'm just saying is all.

In some flashbacks we find out that Yasmin was on the brink of despair, had run away from home and a nice police officer managed to reach out to her. In the present day, Yasmin visited the same officer to fulfill a simple promise. It's a lovely moment, played excellently by Mandip Gill but it should not have taken this long for the show to have given us an insight into Yasmin's past. It it however a backstory that's not too jarring as previous episodes (Rosa, The Witchfinders) did allude to her being a victim of bullying.

Then there's Ryan's friend, Tibo (Buom Tihngang). We briefly met him in Spyfall and as the episode progressed, it was revealed he was suffering from depression and Ryan got his friend to attend a men's group to open up about his feelings. It's a nice moment but again, I think it would've impacted more had Tibo been more prominent in the series. On the other hand, it does show that Ryan's definitely a good friend to have.

While both of these plots are worthy of praise, something that's very deserving of criticism would be the Doctor's surprisingly cold stance when Graham tried to confide in her about his fears of his cancer. I've seen some fans defend this stance, stating that it's in character for the Doctor but for me, it left an incredibly bad taste and while I wasn't loving a lot of the episode, this as a moment was severely misjudged by both Charlene James and Chris Chibnall.

As for the main plot - er, it involved two mischievous gods - Zellin (Ian Gelder) and Rakaya (Clare-Hope Ashitey) feeding off nightmare, using removable fingers to terrorise unfortunate victims, outsmarting the Doctor before literally getting pulled into a magic ball. The plot had all the hallmarks to be genuinely unsettling and failed on every level to be honest.

- Along with Tibo and Sonya, we also had Tahira (Aruhan Galieva) from 1380 Aleppo working with the Doctor and her family.
- The scenes with Yasmin and Sonya made me wonder if they were marking an anniversary of a family death before the reveal of Yasmin being talked out of suicide.
- Grace O'Brien returned during Graham's nightmare sequence. There were also a few references to the likes of the Toymaker, Guardians of Time, Eternals and Dregs of all things.
- The first episode to ever have a question mark in the title. Also the cold open came back and Zellin/Rakaya's backstory was conveyed through an animated sequence.
- The episode ended with a lead in to next week's antics in The Haunting Of Villa Diodati. Please get Mary Shelley and Frankestein right, show.
- Chronology: Flitting between 1380 Syria and 2020 Sheffield.

Can You Hear Me? - I really wanted to love this episode, I really did but despite it's attempts to give Yaz a good backstory, the story with Tibo being generally good, it just fell to pieces. The main villains were boring, the story dragged far too often for it's own good and the last scene with the Doctor and Graham was a series low for me.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, February 08, 2020

My Review of Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Written by Christina Hodson
Directed by Cathy Yan

Harley (to Black Mask): "I'm the one they should be scared of. Not you, not Mr J, because I'm Harley Fucking Quinn."

Breaks up are never easy and when you're a certain former accomplice of Gotham's most depraved of criminals, well, you're never gonna go through things in a straightforward and logical manner. Then there's Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who really does take being dumped by the Joker (animated form, random body double, not Jared Leto) in quite a manner.

For Harley, it means reinventing herself. By this, she joins a roller derby, finds herself a nice little apartment above a takeaway, adopting an adorable hyena that she named Bruce, getting rowdy in a nightclub and breaking the knees of Roman Sionis's (Ewan McGregor) driver and to cap it off, blowing up Ace Chemicals and as a result putting a target on her head.

That simple act quickly resulted in Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) coming after her along with every single person that Harley has ever pissed off and soon enough, she managed to get captured by Roman and nearly killed by his henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) until she decided to help Sionis track down the world's worst pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) to retrieve a certain diamond that Cain stupidly ingested upon being arrested.

Between mad cap chase sequences, animated bits and a far too brief musical number, Harley finds herself both as a bounty hunter and grudging protector of Cassandra Cain as Black Mask turns the entire city on the pair as Montoya's career imploded and two other characters also find themselves drawn into this bout of mayhem to boot.

The characters in question are of course, nightclub singer Dinah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and former mafia princess/vigilante, Helena Bertinelli/Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Aside from Robbie, these are two characters that worked the best throughout the movie and two characters that regardless of the outcome of this movie, I desperately want to see a lot more of. They really are that great to watch.

Dinah's journey from disenfranchised singer to taking on her mother's mantle was given a decent amount of screen time and character wise, there wasn't a single character that Dinah didn't bounce off with. She's easily the best character of the movie and it would be an injustice if the DCEU don't explore the character much further. As for the Canary Cry, it's used only once and it's put to fantastic use.

The same can also be said about Huntress. She's not given as much as screen time but the moments she had were fantastic to watch as for a woman with an excellent aim, the movie generated a brilliant social awkwardness with as well. Again, it would be a massive shame if we didn't get to see Huntress in another movie.

As for Cassandra Cain and Renee Montoya - neither character were that bad but I didn't really take to either as well. Cassandra might have been a departure too far from her comic counterpart and Renee's whole storyline had some of the weakest storytelling in the whole movie. I know the movie had a fun commentary on Renee being such a movie detective cliche but it didn't really help the character at times.

As for our villains - while both of them were quickly disposed of towards the final act of the movie, both essentially worked. Zsasz was as creepy and as sadistic as he has been in other mediums and did feel threatening as did Roman Sionis at times too, given that he wanted to make a name known for himself in Gotham with the Joker's absence. Not to mention both men did have all five female characters drawn to one another for variety of reasons that did make sense. Both Zsasz and Black Mask are definitely two of the more successful baddies used in the DCEU.

In terms of the action - this movie has some interesting sequences. The obvious ones included the jail raid scene and of course, the fight in the funhouse. The latter must have been a logistical nightmare for crew but it plays off rather well. Having a certain director to help beef up these scenes definitely paid off in that regard.

Also in terms of LGBT content because this has been a source of contention with certain reviewers, I'll admit that as a gay man who watched this movie, I generally wasn't fussed. Harley's bisexuality is hinted at albeit in a rather literal cartoonish way while Montoya had a fairly unsympathetic ex-girlfriend, Ellen Yee (Ali Wong) who appeared in a few scenes. Roman's homosexuality is never stated onscreen but his campness is certainly played up a bit. It's baby steps and hopefully a future DCEU movie will really go there but for now, it's a good start.

In terms of the script, it's very funny in parts and there's a good commentary on reinventing yourself but the story itself is definitely as straightforward as you can get though. On a disappointing note, the lack of at least one sympathetic male character is a bit of a downer even if the movie didn't come across as anti-men but another positive would be that it's girl power messaging never feels heavy handed or patronising either. Oh and for those who were worried that Harley formed a certain group, she didn't but Renee might have though as this film ends with the title group established and Harley and Cassandra off on their own adventures.

- The opening sequence was actually a cartoon as Harley spent a lot of this movie breaking the fourth wall in the only way she could do.
- There's a few Easter Eggs scattered throughout the movie but the most interesting one is the scene that actually inspired Paul Dini's creation of the character.
- I loved the end title sequence and the round up of people who have contributed to certain comics that influenced this movie.
- Christina Hodson's next DCEU project is going to be The Flash and it'll be interesting to see how she tackles a certain speedster after the mayhem of this one.
- There's no post/mid credit sequence but we did have Harley about to tell us a secret about Batman before things cut off.
- Standout music, there's loads but my top three would be Adona's Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Black Canary's It's A Man's Man's Man's World and Charlotte Lawrence's Joke's On You. Chronology, I'm gonna say it's probably 2020 here.

Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) has got to be the wildest DCEU movie to date. While I can think of at least three movies better than it, there are also three movies that are not as good as it either. It's essentially what Suicide Squad should've been although it's unlikely to do as financially as said movie. It's a shame, because's it's a genuinely fun and bonkers movie that utilized it's main cast rather well and like I said, there's certain characters I really want to see more of in future movies. It's not a movie for everyone, but I definitely left the cinema happy with what I had seen.

Rating: 8 out of 10

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x11: "Harley Quinn Highway"

Written by Adam Stein
Directed by Vinton Heuck

Ivy: "I asked you for one favour, but instead you ditched me for the Joker who treats you like shit. I thought you could change but I was wrong. You still live your entire life based on what he might think."
Harley: "So how do we fix this?"
Ivy: "I don't know."

As a certain movie finally hits the big screen, back in the world of streaming we're into the final hurtle of episodes and things have actually taken something of a serious turn, both in terms of an actual looming threat and the fractured relationships between Harley and her crew.

In terms of the relationships, I love that Ivy being in danger was enough to actually get Dr Psycho, King Shark and Clayface to move on from their grievances with Harley to try and save Ivy. I mean, it's wild when you consider the type of character someone like Dr Psycho is after all.

Anyways the gang manage to get to Ivy and with Sy Borgman on watch and soon a trip into Ivy's mind reveals a few obvious things about the character. She was a lonely kid, had a horrible father and Harley being her biggest fear made a lot of sense.

Of course Harley chose probably the wrong moment to later confront Ivy on this one but at the same time, at least Ivy was able to give Harley a much needed home truth about her still dependency on the Joker. I mean, it's not a new beat but one Harley definitely needed in that moment.

As for the main plot, Scarecrow extracted some of Ivy's pheromones and the episode ended with a lot of killer trees on the loose. Between Harley having to fix her relationship with Ivy, finally break free from the Joker, it looks like her and her crew might have to be heroes in the last two episodes. Now that's a development I don't think Harley was aiming for.

- I had forgotten Harley had the city name a highway after her. At least it somewhat contributed to the plot this week.
- Kite Man appeared in Ivy's subconscious but quickly burned up. Has no-one still not figured out that he's a love interest of Ivy's.
- Before reuniting with Harley we had Clayface working with the Riddler, Dr Psycho working at a fair as a fortune teller and King Shark using his computer skills for a woman named Denise.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off.

Harley Quinn Highway made use of it's title as the crew got back together and the trip into Ivy's mind while shorter than the one we had in Harley's earlier in the season was still done rather well. I did like all the Harley/Ivy scenes and we had a fantastic threat for the final two episodes of the season.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 5x02: "Miss Me, Kiss Me, Love Me"

Written by Ray Utarnachitt
Directed by David Geddes

Constantine (to Astra): "I came down all the way to tell you that I'm not giving up on you."

And the award for the most predictable plot twist would go to - John Constantine not giving up on main season antagonist Astra Logue, who has been having a whale of a time unleashing Encores onto the world for shits and giggles.

I'm not complaining. Given their history, I would've been far more shocked if Constantine actually had thrown the towel in with Astra but it does raise a point that sometimes the show doesn't allow villain to properly remain villains as it's pretty obvious that John is going to succeed in bringing Astra back into the light. The question remains though - at what point does Astra make the change for good?

Right now, she's certainly enjoying her rule over hell and making John's life as unpleasant as possible and this week, she unleashed the likes of Bugsy Malone (Jonathan Sadowski) back into the world for the Legends to deal with and the results were fun enough to watch. For John, it meant getting a little bit closer to Malone's girlfriend, Jeannie though things didn't end particularly well for her while Ray also came foul of a bent copper for good measure.

As for Sara, Ava and Mick, well they had a bit more fun with this plot compared to Ray and John. Ava treated us to some spectacularly shambolic drunk singing as a means of causing a distraction in the Blue Iguana as Mick looked on bemused at her performance and Sara was as charming as ever with Bugsy before bringing him in.

Of course Bugsy not only got sent back to hell but thanks to a certain gun, I'm not sure we'll be seeing him again. Getting back to Ava though - I really hope we can go a good few episodes without her being angsty. I get that she's trying to find her place on the Waverider following the Time Bureau not being a thing but let's not dwell on it too much, yeah?

Meanwhile Nate and Behrad went to the latter's stomping ground for the latter's birthday and there we met up with the Influencer version of Zari, who also managed to piece the fact that her brother and his professor were at Heyworld back in 1996 before being brought on to the Waverider and freaking the hell out. This version of Zari is going to be fun to have around for a while but I assume her memories will resurface as the season progresses.

- It seems that Masher has gotten on Astra's bad side as well as she used him to emphasise a point to John at the start of the episode.
- And we've got a new title sequence that has the characters faces in it.
- With Mona gone, both Nora and Charlie were also absent but going by the promos for next week, looks like they'll be back. No Gary too.
- Let's see - 1940's for the Bugsy Malone bit, 2044 for the Nate/Behrad/Zari bit and footage from 2019 for the HeyWorld bit.

Miss Me, Kiss Me, Love Me had fun with it's main plot and it's B-plot also held things together rather well. I did like that things have gotten serious with Constantine at least having a plan for Astra and both Ava and new Zari somewhat added to the humour of the episode.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

My Review of Harley Quinn's 1x10: "Bensonhurst"

Written by Laura Moran
Directed by Colin Heck & Ben Jones

Nick: "We're family. Family doesn't kill each other."
Harley: "You people are not my family and you know what? You're not even worth it."

With her crew gone, this week was definitely a case of returning to an old familiar stomping ground as Harley reunited with her family in the titular place of this episode and within minutes of seeing her parents, it's easy to see why Harleen aspired to a life of crime.

It's hard to decide who the worst parent really was in this episode. Nick should be the obvious candidate considering he originally destroyed Harley's dreams of Olympic success while at the same time also admitting that he wanted to collect on the bounty that had been put out on Harley as well for good measure.

Personally I wouldn't have blamed Harley for taking her father out, but she spared him and her mother while disowning them. As for Sharon - yup, they played her up for stereotypes here as she expressed disappointment and resentment over Harley choosing a life of crime over being a doctor's wife. Plus she was pretty much a massive enabler to Nick as well. Harley might be better off giving her actual family a wide berth for the rest of her life.

As for Ivy, well this was a mixed bag for her this week. On one hand, she was able to get a dandelion to go and get Frank to try and rescue her and amateur Breaking Bad style antics aside, Frank did manage to get to a worse for wear Harley so rescuing Ivy should be the priority for the next episode. Meanwhile, it's the flipping Scarecrow who has Ivy prisoner, though why we have yet to know.

As for the bounty on Harley bit, I did like that it was Bane who resolved this one when he realised that Joshua was the one who arranged for Harley to die because she wrecked his Bar Mitzvah. It's nice that Bane is on Harley's side. He might be the only ally she has in the Legion of Doom at the moment.

- We got to see some funemployment with King Shark, Clayface and Dr Psycho having fun at a water park at the beginning of the episode.
- Both Harley's grandparents were killed in this episode, pretty brutally and we saw her dead brother Barry in flashbacks.
- No Joker or Batman in this one or even Lex for that matter.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off. We also got a flashback to 2009 when Harley's Olympic dreams were ruined.

Bensonhurst served as a nice reminder that for some people, going home isn't always the best option and that you end up being a better person away from your family. Still though, it was nice to see a bit more into Harley's past but it's time to go and get Ivy back now.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, February 03, 2020

My Review of Doctor Who's 12x06: "Praxeus"

Written by Pete McTighe & Chris Chibnall
Directed by Jamie Magnus Stone

The Doctor (to Graham, re Jake/Adam): "What can I say? I'm a romantic."

Ah yes, but three weeks ago, you also let a mother and daughter perish in one of the show's worst ever episodes. If Orphan 55's environmental messaging wasn't to your taste, then perhaps Praxeus will be or won't. It really could go either way here for viewers.

Last time we dealt with humanity becoming dregs on an orphan planet in the possible future. This time around we're dealing with a pathogen in plastics that's spread through birds and there's moments where it felt like we were a direct homage to a certain Hitchcock movie. That certainly added to the atmosphere of this lush looking adventure.

Another thing that really added to this one and one that gives it a bigger advantage over Orphan 55 would be the use of the guest characters this week. Notably we had on leave police officer Jake Willis (Warren Brown) venture to Hong Kong to try and rescue his astronaut husband, Adam Lang (Matthew McNulty) who found himself infected with the titular problem and for most of this episode, it really did look like he was going to be a goner. Then he got better and it looked like Jake was going to be a goner. And then the Doctor rescued him, so the hunky gay married couple of the episode survived this one.

Yes, while the episode did look like it was going to venture into the 'bury your gays' trope, the episode managed to subvert it nicely enough. Shallowness aside - I genuinely thought both Jake and Adam were decently development guest characters, both actors had chemistry with each other and felt like a believable pairing and most importantly, they worked well with the Doctor and the companions while also helping with solving the main problem this week.

The other prominent guest was blogger girl, Gabriela Camara (Joana Borja) who got some rather decent scenes with both Ryan and Yasmin before heading off with Jake and Adam at the end of this one as she lost the other half of her online presence while scientist Suki Cheng (Molly Harris) was the closest thing to an actual villain in the episode but mostly fell into the misguided role before becoming a victim of the title episode.

Of course the thing about this episode was the rumours of a certain classic monster appearing in this episode. Unfortunately that didn't materialise here. Sure, the Autons got a nice mention but given the third act's underwater setting, it's a bit of a bummer that the Sea Devils didn't emerge in this one. Fortunately there was more than enough going on in the episode, so it didn't matter too much. Just about.

- Yet another episode where a female character checks out Ryan. Oh and Yasmin was acting a lot off in this one. That better be leading to something.
- The time of this episode, given what's in the media right now couldn't have been more on point to be honest.
- Unlike last week's co-written effort, there was nothing in this episode that hinted at any of the major storylines this series.
- Warren Brown who played Jake in this one also has a recurring UNIT role of Sam Bishop in the Big Finish audios.
- The comm dot is a reference to The Tsuranga Conundrum from last series.
- Chronology: Early 2020 with trips to Hong Kong, Madagascar and bottom of the Indian Ocean.

Praxeus was certainly in danger of being another preachy one for this current run and while it doesn't quite live up to the hype of oh say, Spyfall or Fugitive Of The Judoon, it's still a very strong entry in the series with Pete McTighe continuing to be the most successful find in this era. An engaging guest cast and some gorgeous location work also helped too along with all the companions feeling useful as well.

Rating: 8 out of 10