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Mar 192015
 

Time to consolidate reviews on the weekly superhero TV fare out there. 

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FLASH Season 1 Episode 15 (CW)

By all accounts, a pretty dark instalment in the Flash’s story so far. Things go wrong for quite a few of the supporting characters : for Cisco as he discovers Dr. Well’s secret and for Joe as the new Weather Wizard seeks revenge, though the Barry-Iris relationship takes a new twist and in attempting to save Central City from destruction, the Flash goes literally faster than time. A critical point in the narrative.

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Mar 122015
 

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Things are finally cooking in Agents of SHIELD! Asgardian Lady Sif returns chasing a Kree warrior (in disguise) and the latter explains Kree history regarding the Diviners, Terragenesis and (without saying the word) the Inhumans. Also, Skye is outed as an Inhuman and Coulson, May and team do their best to protect her but things are not peachy within the ranks. Mack and Bobbie are working against their team-mates and whilst it seems par for the course for a spy drama, it is an annoying plot device after all the HYDRA nonsense.

What is significant is that it is obvious that the Agents of SHIELD will feature strongly as a lead-in to the Inhumans movie – which is still years away though. It is great though that the MCU continues to be brought more into play – just resolve that Mack-Bobbie conspiracy ASAP!

Mar 112015
 

DD

80s comic book creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller demonstrated that a dark and gritty take on superheroes was a highly viable artistic path. That this approach was also lucrative was proven by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight movie trilogy and to a lesser extent, The Man of Steel. And as much as Arrow has benefitted from this perspective as well, it is only now with Netflix’s adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil will we be seeing the first proper dark and gritty superhero TV series. All episodes drop on 10th April, so check out the 2nd trailer in the meantime.

Mar 052015
 

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After the shocking (literally!) events of the mid-season finale, the Agents of SHIELD have to re-group and figure out how to move forward in light of Tripp’s death. Even as Skye is stuck in quarantine, Raina has been transformed into a spiky Inhuman (although she seems more like a typical Marvel Comic Mutant – Damn you, Fox) and is struggling to adapt to her new body and abilities. We are also given more information about Gordon, the teleporting Inhuman who will probably end up as Raina’s mentor.

As for Coulson, he takes lethal action against HYDRA as revenge for Tripp’s demise and it is ruthlessly effective, to say the least. Mac and Bobbi seem to have a shared secret (Are they HYDRA agents? That would be boring!) whilst Fitz helps Skye to keep her own transformation a secret from their SHIELD team mates. Interesting set ups for the conflicts to come. I do hope that more tie-ups with the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be seen in the coming episodes.

Feb 262015
 

Well, it’s been slim pickings regarding the Fantastic Four reboot even after the release of the teaser trailer. But Empire has first pictures and here they are!

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It’s Reed Richards (Miles Teller) in some kind of astronaut suit with Tim Blake Nelson (who is playing the Mole Man) in the background.

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Susan Storm (Kate Mara) in a black outfit with bodies on the floor.

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Feb 262015
 

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Now, I will come right out and say that a lot of Oliver’s motivations on “Narda Parbat” make little sense. I mean, after everything that Malcolm Merlyn has done, why the hell would Oliver risk, not only his own life but that of Diggle’s, to save Merlyn? Kudos to John Barrowman for making Malcolm a deliciously despicable villain that nobody but nobody has any sympathy for. C’mon, at least Slade was utterly messed up in the head by the mirakuru in his system. So what’s Malcolm’s excuse?

Anyways, much of this episode feels like a re-tread of the one where Oliver voluntarily challenged Ra’s Al Ghul despite everybody (but Malcolm!) trying to dissuade him and for that reason it falls rather flat most of the way. It does seem that ever since the mid-season finale, Oliver has been guilty of incredibly stupid decision making! And… did anyone expect Oliver and Diggle to succeed, against the bloody League of Assassins? C’mon! That all said, I did not expect that final scene with Ra’s – alright, you got me there. Well done!

By the way, can someone tell me why Atom comes across as a second rate Iron Man? That is NOT the Atom, CW? WTF

Feb 212015
 

Marvel_Studios

10 films that have changed the face of the movie industry. 10 films that exist within an unprecedented shared universe. 10 films that have collectively grossed over US$7 billion worldwide. Yes, there’s no doubt that commercially, the MCU films have done fantastically well but what about creatively? Can the films stand up to critical scrutiny or is their popularity a product of marketing hype and nothing more? Let’s investigate.

IRON MAN (2008)

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You know the story. Grossing over $500 million worldwide, Iron Man was an unexpected mega-hit for Marvel Studios’ first venture, marking the comeback of Robert Downey Jr and making the movie industry sit up and take notice. The post-credits scene was used for the first time, to introduce the concept of the MCU to movie audiences as Nick Fury said the words “Avengers Initiative” as a promise of things to come. Putting aside the milestones, it’s worthy to remember that this Jon Favreau-helmed film was very well made with strong performances from Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Terence Howard (James Rhodes). The age of Marvel (films) had begun. (9/10)

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Feb 212015
 

MultiversityGuideBook

When DC first collapsed the multiverse into one universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, I was rather upset to lose the alternative earths that gave DC its unique flavour. Most of all, of course, I hated what it meant for the Legion of Super-heroes. But that’s another story, altogether. Well, a couple of years ago, DC went the opposite direction and brought the multiverse back – 52 universes to be exact (I rather enjoyed the process though – the Flashpoint event). In the Multiversity series, writer Grant Morrison has begun to develop this concept and take it to its logical conclusion, exploring the diverse universes that the New 52 had introduced into the continuity.

Thus far, the most interesting issue was undoubtedly the one with “Pax Americana” (featuring the ex-Charlton characters) drawn by Frank Quitely and coming across like a Watchmen homage of sorts. The latest issue – subtitled as “Guidebook” brings the concept home with Morrison detailing the 52 universes that exist (with a few mysterious exceptions) within the greater DC continuity now. Potentially, this provides creators with lots of room to work with, without having to be limited to the continuity of Earth-0 (see below).

Earth-0

 

After all, there are 51 other universes to be explored! Seems like DC is the place to be to at least see whether they can make this ambitious concept work. Time to investigate them universes more closely!

Feb 202015
 

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Like Thea, viewers of Arrow might be getting a little exasperated at the little twists and turns the CW series needs to take, in order to tell its stories. The last few episodes have been tough on Oliver’s little sister as she has had to deal with an almighty info dump and this latest episode was probably the worst, when she discovered that she was responsible for Sara Lance’s murder. The episode was a bit of a stopgap, serving as an incredulous training lesson meted out by Malcolm Merlyn (why do the Queen siblings continue to trust him when he has proven time and again to be untrustworthy?) but at least brought back Wilson Slade/Deathstroke for more unnecessary violent fun.

In the flashback narrative, Oliver finds himself back in Starling five years ago with Maseo (who is one of the brighter cast additions) which leads to Oliver acquiring his fathers guilty list notebook (remember?). Naturally, the show could not resist throwing in familiar faces into this mix – 2010’s version Tommy, Laurel, John, Felicity, Thea and a drunk Det. Lance all featured in mostly character-revealing moments with the introduction of Lt. Matthew Shrieve (Marc Singer!) at the conclusion spicing things up once again.

But in the present day, things need to move forward with the Ra’s Al Ghul plot line and soon. C’mon!

Feb 182015
 

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The Firestorm two-parter may well have been the best Flash episodes so far – which is really saying something. No stone was left unturned to flesh out the characters that make up Firestorm (i.e. Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond) and there was a sense of inevitability that the two would eventually merge once again. Harrison Wells (Reverse-Flash) is manipulating events behind the scenes and as the ending suggests is also somehow related with Gorilla Grodd as well! I am curious to see what Wells’ motivation in the scheme of things because the writers have done a good job in keeping Wells’ true intentions hidden.

The episodes worked so well that it played like a set up for a Firestorm spin-off and depending on how the audiences respond, I am guessing that that series may happen sooner than later. Victor Garber (Stein) and Robbie Amell (Raymond) have settled into their respective roles rather well and it would be intriguing to see how a Firestorm series will explore this unique dynamic. But for the Flash, it does feel that we getting ever closer to Barry’s encounter with the Reverse-Flash in a race to save his mother. Can hardly wait!

Just an aside to pay tribute to the creators of these wonderful super-heroes. Even as the credits omit this fact (based on characters in DC Comics), the Barry Allen-Flash was of course created by writers Robert Kanigher & John Broome and artist Carmine Infantino, whilst the original Firestorm was created by writer Gerry Conway and artist Al Milgrom. Credit where it is due!

Feb 162015
 

Canaries

Getting more and more intense with each passing episode, Arrow season 3 is maintaining its status as the best dark superhero soap opera out there.

Secrets are revealed left, right and centre and the impact on the series remains to be seen. Laurel Lance is accepted in her new role as the Canary and Ra’s Al Ghul makes his play and the Queen siblings realize that they have to trust Malcolm Merlyn, for better or worse.

Meanwhile, Oliver’s flashback narrative brings us an unexpected twist.

Feb 152015
 

Firestorm

The secret origin of Firestorm! It took some time but finally The Flash revealed to us how Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond merged to become the Nuclear Man. In the meantime, Joe West recruits Cisco Ramon to investigate further the death of Barry Allen’s mother, with Dr Harrison Wells being the prime suspect.

Well written overall, with emotional resonance but somehow Firestorm’s lack of a costume made him look terribly lame. But Cisco’s investigation turns out some shocking results and the cliff-hanger ending kept the interest high. And.. where is Grodd?

Feb 062015
 

Arrow-Uprising

The ‘death of Arrow – Brick takeover’ saga comes to a conclusion. But the threat of retribution from Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassin towards Merlyn and Arrow remains very real. A myriad plotlines come together nicely but not without setting off more new ones.

Laurel settles into her role as Canary as the Arrow team plot to take down Brick. Meanwhile, Oliver Queen struggles to return to Starling City, after rising from the dead. There is some back-story for Merlyn to get through, which humanizes him just a little, so that perhaps the audience can accept somehow Arrow’s difficult choice at the end.

Good superhero TV!

Feb 062015
 

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Disappointingly, no development of the Reverse-Flash story line but instead we are pushed into the direction of Firestorm as Hartley Rathaway reveals the mystery of the disappearance of Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein.

On the side, Barry Allen has some down time with Caitlin Snow, which provides the show’s lighter moments. At the centre of attention – Peekaboo, a teleporter whom Flash and the team have to overcome.

A typically good episode for The Flash, with different plot strands being examined in the coming weeks.

Jan 272015
 

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Finally, the first teaser trailer for the new Fantastic Four movie arrives and frankly, it’s looks fine to me. After all the trepidation of the supposedly ‘un-superheroic’ approach of the reboot, the movie comes across like a Warren Ellis comic book, specifically Ultimate Fantastic Four!

Of course, the movie could still suck but at this point of time, I am looking forward to see what Josh Trank has come up with. Check it out!

Jan 232015
 

ArrowS03e10

After the apparent death of Oliver Queen at the end of the mid-season finale, how do the Arrow team carry on without their intrepid leader? Not very well by all accounts, as they get their asses whupped by Vinnie (“I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”) Jones’ silly Brick character. Which is just as well that Olly returns from the dead at the end of this episode. Spoiler? What spoiler? You expected CW to kill off its lead character? Seriously??

But at least, the Arrow’s absence pushes Laurel Lance to put on Black Canary togs and kick arse – so it’s win – win for everyone, eh? All good fun and at least they didn’t milk Olly’s death for too much cheap emotional shots. Although… it’s always cool to see Felicity all vulnerable and so on. Normal service to be resumed? We shall wait and see…

 

Jan 222015
 

Hot&Cold

The Flash is back and he’s bringing a couple of rogues along with him! Captain Cold and Heat Wave team up to confront the Scarlet Speedster!

Sorry for all the excitement but how cool was it to bring back the stars of Prison Break (remember when?) Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell (above) to play the cold and hot villains respectively?!?

Once again, The Flash proves that you can have good fun with superhero TV, without being silly, while still being true to the tone of the source material.

As the ending suggested, we will definitely see more of Captain Cold & Heat Wave (their personalities fit as well!) in the coming episodes – awesome casting and great writing! Bring on the Trickster….

Jan 152015
 

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For a scifi-superhero movie that is slated for release later this year (August), virtually no advance information of the new Fantastic Four movie is available online except a couple of interviews, a plot summary and this fuzzy photograph (above) of the cast when shooting wrapped last year!

Yes, this reboot of the comic book that launched the Marvel Universe itself is only seven months away and the silence over at Fox is deafening. And can anyone blame Fox? After all, the initial buzz of having Chronicle’s Josh Trank helm the movie dissipated quickly when the cast was announced (Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm).

The last two choices were particularly controversial for obvious reasons as fans opined that physically, both Jordan and Bell did not resemble the characters whatsoever. The situation worsened when actors admitted that the movie would not be faithful to the source material – Mara confirmed that director Trank advised her NOT to read the comic book before shooting began!

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Jan 142015
 

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Directed by Ethan Spaulding 
Written by Heath Corson
Starring (voices of) Matt Lanter, Sam Witwer, Jason O’Mara, Shemar Moore, Jerry O’Connell, Christopher Gorham, Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion, Sean Astin, Harry Lennix.

Ostensibly a sequel to Justice League War – the animated movie introduction to the New 52 continuity – Throne of Atlantis is a very loose adaptation of the storyline that ran through the Justice League and Aquaman comics from 2012-2013.

Considering that Aquaman was replaced with Shazam (the original Captain Marvel) in War, it’s clear that Throne was to be used as an introduction to Aquaman. Thus, major changes to the comic book plot were made that greatly weakened the storyline. (AND seriously, why change Mera’s costume?)

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In that context, it is recommended that you skip this movie completely and go straight to the source material.

However, if you do feel the need to compare and contrast.

Jan 132015
 

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The 2nd trailer for the much anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron is out now. Although Ultron is set up to the villain of the piece, it does appear – based on this trailer – that internal strife within the Avengers ranks is the real enemy. If so, this plot point would lead us nicely into Captain America: Civil War.

Date of release: 30th April (Singapore)

Jan 072015
 

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Our first proper look at the Ant-Man movie is a teaser trailer that comes with a Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) voice-over, as Pym attempts to convince the convicted felon Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to become the Ant-Man (or ‘Ent-Man’ as Douglas pronounces it!).

After the speech, Lang responds with typically Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) light humor and whilst the action montage does not seem that exciting (the special effects of Ant-Man and trademark flying ant was underwhelming), it’s too early to draw any conclusions.

Evangeline Lilly looks hot as Hope Van Dyne (Pym’s daughter with Janet Van Dyne) but everything else is a blur. No clue as yet how they are going to handle this idea of Pym being a elder gentleman and how the MCU history will handle the original Ant-Man and even Wasp. All to be revealed on 17th July.