Showing posts from 2017

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time (2017) - Written Review

Here we are at the end of the Twelfth Doctor's era, and it feels like six months too late. For me, and no doubt many others, the end of the Twelfth Doctor was marked as he ran out of his TARDIS and into the snow to regenerate, leaving everything behind him. He'd said goodbye to Nardole and to Bill - both of whom had gone off on their own new adventures - not to mention having resolved everything with Clara about four times over the course of Series 8 and 9. The 50th Anniversary had only been about four years ago, so there was no need to see Capaldi come to face-to-face with other incarnations (especially since he had a cameo in 'The Day of the Doctor' anyway). Missy was dead, the Cybermen defeated (at least for now) and there were no Capaldi story arcs left unresolved (although, come to think of it, few were satisfactorily resolved). 'The Doctor Falls' was the end of Peter Capaldi's time as Doctor Who, and Steven Moffat's time as showrunner.

Imagine ho…

First Thoughts on 'DC's Legends of Tomorrow' Season 3 (Episodes 1-9)

Alas, despite all odds, DC's Legends of Tomorrow are back for another season, and so far I've not really had any particular thoughts on it. While Season 2's finale was a bit of let-down (especially after a strong penultimate episode), Season 3 opens up by establishing a new status-quo - and unlike The Flash, maintains it. Since leaving the team, Rip Hunter has established the Time Bureau to more effectively fight off against time displacements, leaving the Legends essentially out of a job. This however meant that Episode 1 consisted of getting the band back together again, which felt like a bit of a waste of time. Would everyone really just settle in to normal lives after everything they've been through? Apparently so, but not for long as Sara meets up with Ray and Nate to bring everyone back together and sort out the temporal mess they created. Quite how Sara and Ray can lead normal lives without making a bit of a fuss - given both are presumed death - is beyond me, …

Marvel's Inhumans - Episodes 5-8 Review

Alas, he we are at the end of what's technically a short but feels like a long Inhumans journey. Along the way we've had a surprisingly good twist, a decent musical score, Iwan Rheon and...yep, I've run out positives. The final two episodes of the series are what could be considered good...had the show not dropped the ball from day one, leaving us with weak and unlikable characters embarking on a cliched, predictable and often quite dull story. The conclusion to a better series is here, albeit not a perfect conclusion to a series that was quite poor in the first place.

Sitting through these two episodes, it occurred to me just how odd a design choice it was to have the Inhuman royal throne room as a plain grey set with a chair at the back of it. Surely if these are the royal family, there should be golds, purples, maybe even silvers? Hell, a better (and potentially even cheaper) alternative would've been to dress the throne room with various curtains, mixes of gold an…

First Thoughts on 'Freedom Fighters: The Ray'

So...this is a thing. Earlier this month, CW Seed released the first six episodes of their new original DC series Freedom Fighters: The Ray, featuring Russell Tovey as Ray Terrill/The Ray, alongside Arrowverse alumni Melissa Benoist as Overgirl and Carlos Valdes as Vibe in what is theoretically the spin-off prequel to the Crisis on Earth-X crossover event...except that it doesn't really match-up properly.

Certain aspects of both are maintained: Ray is from Earth-1, is played by Russell Tovey and has a similar costume design to the one seen in Crisis on Earth-X; the Earth-X version of Supergirl is called Overgirl, and has a similar costume to her live action counterpart; Red Tornado is a member of the Freedom Fighters; and the Earth-X version of Green Arrow has a similar design to his live-action counterpart, albeit called Black Arrow as opposed to Dark Arrow in the crossover. He's also not played by Stephen Amell but by Matthew Mercer, despite the animation featuring Amell…

First Thoughts on 'The Flash' Season 4 (Episode 9)

So far, I've found the fourth season of The Flash to be quite mediocre, mixing in some poorly-realised supporting characters (Ralph, Amunet) and awkward humour with some inventive and entertaining stories. The whole season's felt a little clunky, with the structural familiarity wearing a bit thin at this point. What's wrong with Season 4 is ultimately that it just isn't very good, it's trying to replicate what people like about The Flash, but without the quality storytelling present in Season 1 and most of 2. The arc this season revolving around DeVoe has felt quite familiar, despite his inventive power-set proving to be an interesting foil to Barry.

Thus, the mid-season finale 'Don't Run' demonstrates some of the good and bad of this season into an admittedly strong episode, if not a perfect one. For example, Ralph Dibny is still an irritating character, but the writers are taking efforts to make him more likable and give him some humility, admitting …

First Thoughts on 'Arrow' Season 6 (Episodes 5-9)

After a strong, if slightly underplayed Deathstroke two-parter, Arrow regained some narrative focus as Oliver returned to his vigilante role as the Green Arrow, leaving Diggle temporarily out of field action. This return to the status quo may have been predictable, but it's difficult to see Diggle being much more than Oliver's conscience in the series. Whilst he's helped out in the past, his superhero alias as Spartan never felt quite natural, so seeing him fall more into a less violent role feels a bit more comfortable. I'm sure Diggle will get back into the action, but I'd rather he stayed as a straight man for Oliver for the time being.

The mid-season finale was certainly an interesting specimen though. Whilst the episode itself was very strong, I felt that the ending was a little too...familiar. The whole team leaves Oliver alone with just Felicity and Diggle to help out, because of Oliver's slightly self-centered actions...although this time Oliver was so…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) - Written Review

***SPOILER-FREE*** I'm sure at some point soon I'll get around to writing up a full, spoiler-filled piece about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but I think I need to throw out an opinion out there. The film has a 56% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, which while I'm sure it will increase, I will say that I think that's complete bull. The Last Jedi is a masterclass blend of auteur and blockbuster franchise film-making, being both the latest entry in the never-ending Star Wars saga and also Rian Johnson's latest film. This is not the same Star Wars that JJ Abrams brought us with The Force Awakens, or any of the previous films. Rian Johnson has certainly put a stamp on this film, which might not work for everyone, but certainly did for me.

The film attempts to balance a tone somewhere between almost grim foreboding and light humour, and while some may note this as inconsistent, I think this balance of light and dark (like the Force) allows for a film that's an enjoyabl…

Oblivion (2013) - Written Review

For those who don't know, Oblivion is a 2013 Post-Apocalyptic Sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise...and I have no idea why you would have even heard of this. It's such a forgettable film that I'm amazed I even remembered it was a thing before sitting down to watch it. Oblivion is a bland, convoluted and quite possibly nonsensical film and...I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The story follows Tom Cruise, who plays a generic protagonist doing simple survey missions in a fancy space-age plane (which he of course flies dangerously, to tick-off that box for you) or space-age bike (let's just add that to the Tom Cruise check-list too) with the help of his British wife (and another tick in the Tom Cruise box) until he meets the mysterious Julia (wasn't that his wife's name in Mission: Impossible III?) who begins to explain to him the secrets of what's really going on here. With Morgan Freeman dishing out long spouts of exposition to further help, it becomes clear…

First Thoughts on 'Crisis on Earth-X' (DC Television Crossover)

So here we are at the fourth annual DC crossover: Crisis on Earth-X, as our ensemble of heroes reunite at Barry and Iris' wedding, only to be attacked by their Nazi doppelgangers from Earth 53, also known as Earth-X. Thus, its up to Teams Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and the Legends to fight off this new threat and protect one of their own from the villainous fuhrer Dark Arrow...

Can I just say how amazing it is that this sort of thing actually exists? As someone who doesn't read comic books (and has no idea where to start), getting to follow all of these different shows with these 'event' episodes like this is just incredibly exciting. It's easy to get bored of TV shows after a while, but following each respective DC show all seems worthwhile to get these cross-over events. I was much more excited for this story than I am for any of the individual shows' finales. This is what I look forward to with each season, and it's just a lovely experience getting such a …

Justice League flopped...what next for the DC Extended Universe?

It's been nearly a month since Warner Bros and DC's Justice League was released worldwide, and despite a more positive critical response than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad received, the film has grossed a mere $574 million so far. Perhaps not a failure in the film landscape, but given Justice League's $300 million production budget and $750 million break-even point, this box office result has been a bit of a disaster. How can the franchise bounce back from this? How did this even happen? What'll happen next?

The reason for Justice League's box office disappointment can be attributed to multiple factors: the franchise has released two dud films (plus Man of Steel, which didn't exactly set the world on fire) to poor responses; the film itself has had nothing but bad publicity since Batman v Superman's huge box office drop last year (including extensive re-shoots with a new director, Henry Cavill's mustache, budget inflation, etc.); …

Marvel's The Punisher - Episodes 6-13 Review

So, I just finished watching Marvel's The Punisher...

I'm not entirely sure where to begin with the second half of this season. While at first it seemed to drag a bit - as mentioned in my previous review - as soon as it hit Episode 9, the action started and did not stop with a roller-coaster of a finale. The two-parter surrounding Frank going up against Lewis, his reveal to the world, his showdown with Billy's men in the bunker, the kidnapping of the Lieberman family, Frank's torture at the hands of Rawlins and escape, and the final showdown with was all pretty damn spectacular. The series makes it very clear: there are no good guys. Not even Frank himself. He's a man guilty about his past, and determined to fight for what he believes in, whether anyone stops him or not. Calling the character a Marvel super hero seems completely inaccurate to me: he's a vigilante, straight-up. He saves people, yes, but does so in the least heroic way possible. Not b…

Star Trek: Discovery - Episode 7 Review

After a slightly muddled sixth episode, this latest instalment of Star Trek: Discovery was a big, bold time-travel story, and the sort of episode that really shouldn't work, but somehow does. Stammets being immune to the time loop is a bit convenient, but because it's a revelation built on throughout the episode, caused by a factor the audience is aware of, and because he's the only character who could possibly fill that role, it works.

Harry Mudd doesn't spring to mind as the sort of character one would imagine having time travel capabilities, but his eccentric personality and previously-established hatred towards Captain Lorca and Tyler saves exposition time. In fact, this episode whipped along at a very fast pace, establishing all of its main themes at the very beginning, and then playing around with them throughout the episode. It's very clever writing, despite not necessarily being subtle. Stammets' comment at the beginning about convenience and accidents…

Star Trek: Discovery - Episode 6 Review

'Lethe', the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery, is possibly my least favourite so far. Not because the story was poor, or the characterisation was poor, but that it simply lacked the genuine emotions I think a story liked this needed.

The whole crux of the episode revolves around a father-daughter relationship, and this is a great thing to explore...unless of course these characters are Vulcan. Michael Burnham and Sarek are very stoic, logical and straight-faced characters, making a heartfelt episode like this...not feel heartfelt. Clearly the episode is somewhat aware of this, but the emotional response can never be achieved because the characters lack the emotional responses.

There's a whole heap of exposition needed to explain the episode's emotional crux that it's very easy to determine where the episode is going right from the off, killing a certain amount of audience investment already, but when the emotional beats don't really strike a chord, the ep…

First Thoughts on 'The Flash' Season 4 (Episodes 3-7)

I realise upon sitting down to write this that most of what I'm about to say is only really relevant to Episodes 5 and 6 of this fourth season of The Flash, as I have very little to say about 3 and 4. They were fairly strong episodes in their own right, with 3 in particular being a really fun villain-of-the-week story, and 4 an interesting adventure-of-the-week story that...suddenly becomes a set-up for a new season B-plot.

Let's talk about Ralph Dibny: I don't like his character. Not. One. Bit. And while The Flash as a show has stumbled in recent years, out of all its problems I never expected a main superhero character to be one of them. Ralph Dibny is an unfunny, unlikable character who is so firmly established as such in his very first episode. He's a corrupt cop, he's lazy, he has no respect for anyone other than himself, and he cracks jokes that nobody (including the audience) laughs at. Why are we meant to like this character? Or, at least find him somewhat…

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - Teaser Trailer Reaction

Ten years after the release of Iron Man, Marvel Studios is commemorating the anniversary of their Cinematic Universe franchise in a big, special cross-over bonanza Avengers: Infinity War, featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, the Winter Soldier, the Falcon, War Machine, Spider-Man, Black Panther, the entire Guardians of the Galaxy team...and I think I've missed quite a few out still. This a huge event film, with a reported $500 million budget (or $1 billion combined with Avengers 4) and massive fan anticipation. Will it all be worthwhile? I guess we'll find out next April.

The teaser trailer opens with Nick Fury's line from Marvel's Avengers Assemble (yes, I know its just Marvel's The Avengers in the US, but I'm British): "There was an bring together a group of remarkable see if we could become something when they needed us, we could fight …

Justice League (2017) - Written Review

After the doom-and-gloom of last year's 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice', this soft-reboot of DC's cinematic shared universe of characters (that apparently isn't called the DC Extended Universe) balances Zack Snyder visuals with Joss Whedon humour in a slightly uneven, but ultimately fun action blockbuster. Gone is the narrative and character complexity of 'Wonder Woman', but gone too is the dour humourlessness of 'Man of Steel'. This is a film built on entertaining the audience, not challenging them, and in many ways lacks the artistic integrity of Snyder's previous entries.

There's a more pleasing colour palette to this film, although the visual effects feel rough and uneven in many places. The film's main antagonist Steppenwolf looks awkwardly placed into scenes, while Snyder's over-emphasis on CG landscapes and creatures causes particularly the final act to feel lacking in terms of geography. Where Batman and co. are at diff…

Marvel's Inhumans - Episodes 2-4 Review

Originally I planned to write reviews for each episode of Marvel's Inhumans. Needless to say, that hasn't happened, and I simply don't have the interest or energy to actually go back over each individual episode. I didn't watch Episode 2 - or at least, I didn't watch the TV version of Episode 2 - but given I've seen the IMAX 'movie' version, I didn't feel the need to. If there's any key differences to be found, I'd be interested to know, but I can't see myself finding the urge to watch it if I don't need to.

While re-watching the first episode of Marvel's Inhumans was interesting, I found watching the third and fourth installments to be utterly tedious. I originally found the 'movie' version to be an interesting launching pad for the show, if not an entirely successful one, but was interested to see what would happen next. Two episodes later and I can see exactly what people were moaning about with the first.

There is so…

Marvel's The Punisher - Episodes 1-5 Review

With the characters' popularity in the second season of Marvel's Daredevil, the Punisher makes his way to the small-screen in this thrilling new Marvel/Netflix series...regrettably after a string of misses for the streaming franchise: Luke Cage received a lukewarm (get it?) response; Iron Fist was annihilated by critics and fans alike; while The Defenders was received positively, but was clearly hurt by Iron Fist's reception. Thus, as I sat down to watch the first few episodes of The Punisher on November 17th, I had some mild trepidation. This was a series supposedly delayed by Netflix after similar real-life events, and the critical response had been mixed in build-up to the series. What's surprised me in particular though was the lack of attention the series received over its opening weekend. While all of the previous Netflix shows had been the focus of Internet attention as soon as they released, The Punisher hasn't had any of that - perhaps because DC's Ju…

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) - Written Review

For those who've seen the original John Wick (2014), you'll probably already know how brilliant that film was. Granted, it was a simple cheesy action thriller, but it reveled in the knowledge that it didn't need to be any more than that. What was actually surprising was how well-defined the characters and world of John Wick were, providing ample material for its sequel John Wick: Chapter 2. So, does this hold up to the original? Or are we left with another disappointing sequel?

John Wick: Chapter 2 is bigger, badder and bolder than the original, with some interesting character development for our titular lead and a great expansion to the world established in the first film. That being said, Chapter 2 feels underwhelming in that it can't quite capture the magic of the first film. Part of this is because this is the bigger sequel: there's arguably far too many characters to explore, and one can't help but notice the awkward pacing throughout. The first film was 1…