Thursday, October 27, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/24/16-10/27/16)

Supergirl - "Welcome to Earth": As the mysterious man in a Kryptonian pod (Chris Wood) breaks out, Supergirl helps protect the president (Lynda Carter) from an alien attack. Is the runaway mystery man to blame? Is it someone else? At work, Kara has to write an article about aliens living on earth and has conflicting opinions with Snapper Carr. Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) reveals a bar for aliens to Alex and the DEO.

Gotham - "Follow the White Rabbit": Jarvis Tetch (the Mad Hatter) leads Jim Gordon a deadly chase that kills several bystanders and forces Jim to choose between the two of the women in his life. Meanwhile, gosh, are the Penguin and the Riddler about to hook up? Because that's basically what it's looking like. Or else they're playing with us again.

Lucifer - "Weaponizer": Lucifer's keeping a close eye on his friend Detective Decker as he feels sure God is trying to put her in situations that will lead to her death. The appearance of angel Uriel (Michael Imperioli) certainly doesn't seem to dissuade that concept...

The Flash - "The New Rogues": Sam Scudder (Grey Damon) finally emerges after disappearing after Season 1's pivotal particle accelerator explosion with the ability to create wormholes through mirrors and other reflective surfaces. He joins with Rosa Dillon (Ashley Rickards), and they become Mirror Master and the Top. However, it turns out part of his powers can trap Barry in a mirror. Jesse Quick learns to better hone her powers.

Agents of SHIELD - "Lockup": The Darkholm book is found, and not by SHIELD or Ghost Rider. Robbie storms a prison with Quake, Coulson and Mack. Meanwhile the new director of SHIELD clarifies his stance on Inhumans by revealing that he is one to the public.

Arrow - "Penance": Oliver goes to break Diggle out of jail, Ragman confronts Felicity. Oliver still can't get the new Team Arrow in line with his attitude.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Shogun": After Nate discovers he can turn into a strong metal man, he and Ray get thrown back in time in ancient Japan. Vixen joins the Legends. A cruel shogun steals the Atom suit and Nate has to learn how to harness his powers to get it back and defeat the shogun who plans to kill the woman who kindly assists the Legends. But wait, shouldn't this be a team effort?

Bonus. Continuing with old productions based on Marvel comics, this week is the pilot to the cancelled Power Pack TV show. Admittedly, I'm not familiar with the comic versions of Power Pack. They're a group of young kids—two brothers and two sisters—who have superpowers, and originally operated without their parents' knowledge.

This TV pilot foreshadows later Marvel productions by not giving the kids their costumes, and in this version, the parents know about their powers and encourage them to keep them secret. When one of the kids brings home an item from a "haunted house" he visits with a couple classmates, strange events happen all around town. It's up to the Power Pack to return the item and put everything right.

This apparently aired on Fox as a TV special during Saturday mornings. For what it is, it's pretty enjoyable, and it's almost too bad a series didn't ensue, though the nature of having it star children was likely something the producers were glad to not have to deal with. Perhaps there will be a Power Pack movie eventually, though with the use of children, maybe this would be best as an animated property.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/17/16-10/20/16)

Before we start the TV recaps, here's a little movie review!

So, what was the first Marvel feature film to hit theaters? And no, the Captain America movie serial doesn't count. That honor goes to Howard the Duck, produced by Lucasfilm and released in 1986. They initially planned to make this an animated film, but because Lucas was contractually required to produce a live action film for his distributor, the production crew had to figure out how to put Marvel's most cartoony character in front of a camera. The movie was recently released to Blu-Ray, and finding it in a discount bin, I decided to try it out.

Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) lives on a world of anthropomorphic ducks when he's suddenly pulled from his home by a mysterious laser beam and brought to Earth. He meets Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson), the lead singer of a band, which he winds up becoming the new manager of. A friend helps them match Howard to the science lab that made the laser beam, where they learn another test has brought a dangerous being called the Dark Overlord of the Universe to Earth, and he wants to bring the rest of his kind, and they will eliminate all other life.

Going in expecting a weird, goofy movie that isn't quite the best (your reputation precedes you, Howard), the movie really wasn't bad. It was pretty enjoyable, actually. Just get over seeing a female duck without a bra and Beverly finding a condom in Howard's wallet. It's a goofy, wacky movie and one of those that has to be seen to be believed.

Nerd bonus: the opening of the movie actually explains the multiverse concept.

Supergirl - "The Last Children of Krypton": As Superman concludes his visit to National City, the newly-risen Metallo strikes. Cat Grant turns her office over to Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) as she takes leave of her company. Kara considers a major shakeup in her life, which upsets Alex (Chyler Leigh) before the two sisters decide what family really means. Supergirl has completed its move to the CW and it's as good as ever.

Gotham - "Anything for You": As a gang called the Red Hoods begins to terrorize Gotham, Penguin goes to any lengths to stop them. Eddie begins investigating with the GCPD again. Bruce and Jim take their search for Ivy to Selina. Alice's blood appears to be a bigger concern than you'd think.

Lucifer - "Lady Parts": As yet another crime is investigated, Lucifer's police partner forms a group of fellow lady friends, which includes Mazikeen.

The Flash - "Magenta": Dr. Alchemy is turning people into the super-powered versions of themselves they were in the Flashpoint timeline. New one? Magenta (Joey King). And she's determined to kill her foster father with her metal-controlling powers. Meanwhile, Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) and his daughter Jesse (Violett Beane) visit from Earth-2 to help Jesse get her recently-emerged super speed under control. Wally—who was in the same incident that gave Jesse her powers—tries to get his own super speed to show up with no luck. Barry and Iris try to have a date with each other.

Agents of SHIELD - "Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire": Daisy and Jemma team up to find Hellfire, while Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider teams up with Coulson and Mack to find some information about a mysterious book the ghostly entities at SHIELD are also interested in. Agent May recovers from her near death with the help of Fitz.

Arrow - "A Matter Of Trust": Diggle is sent to jail and meets a live Deadshot, his cellmate. The new Team Arrow continues their training. Thea tries to fix a blunder in announcing Quentin Lance as deputy mayor by causing even worse talk in the media. Drug dealer Derek Sampson (Cody Rhodes) is made immune to pain and super strong after falling into a chemical after getting shot, so he plans even bigger crimes. Oliver has to re-evaluate his leadership methods once again.

Legends of Tomorrow - "The Justice Society of America": After completing a mission in 1942, the Legends encounter the Justice Society of America, who tell them to leave their time, only for the Legends to discover that the Justice Society was now wiped out thanks to changes in history. Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) takes command of the Waverider. Sara discovers that Nate is a hemophiliac. The Legends return to help the JSA defeat some Nazis. During the combat, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) are captured but manage to steal some super serum.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/10/16-10/13/16)

Luke Cage - Episodes 5-13: The previous recap looks way outdated now as I finish watching this series. The first episodes had a slow start, setting up Luke (Mike Colter) and his world. Then the plot really gets going with some twists, and it's a wild ride from there, celebrating and commenting on the African American experience in America, a very smart update of the character from the comics, and the best use of Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple (a recurring character in the Marvel Netflix shows) so far, and an engaging Misty Knight played by Simone Missick.

Supergirl - "The Adventures of Supergirl": After crossing over to a new network, Supergirl begins restructuring itself with a job change for Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), a sweet farewell to Cat Grant (Calista Flockheart), a new job for Kara Danvers/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), a new character in Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), a mysterious arrival in a Kryptonian space pod, a menacing new villain, and a special guest star role by Kara's cousin, Clark Kent/Superman (Tyler Hoechlin). A very enjoyable Season 2 opener!

Lucifer - "Sin-Eater": Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and Detective Decker (Lauren German) investigate a couple grisly murders as Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) and Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) deal with Lucifer's mother (Tricia Helfer) now living on Earth.

Gotham - "Mad City: New Day Rising": The Mad Hatter plot seems to reach a tragic climax. Eddie discovers that Oswald is trying to buy the election and sabotages this dishonesty, but Oswald wins anyway. After having an "adventure" with Selina "Five" (Bruce's doppleganger) is taken in by "The Court."

The Flash - "Paradox": Barry discovers that the effects of "Flashpoint" are reaching further than he thought. Iris is upset with Barry, Cisco's brother Dante died, Barry has a new coworker (Tom Felton) who distrusts him, and several other little changes. Jay Garrick appears and tells Barry he can't fix everything. The Rival from the Flashpoint world reappears as Barry faces him.

Agents of SHIELD - "Uprising": Agent May nearly dies after her mysterious illness. Daisy becomes acquainted with Robbie Reyes' wheelchair-bound brother Gabe as it appears a group of Inhumans shuts down power to major cities, allowing criminal action to go by undetected. SHIELD is revealed to the public to be active again.

Arrow - "The Recruits": Oliver's (Stephen Amell) attempts at training a new team leaves a lot to be desired as he focuses more on breaking them down than building them up, so he has to refine his method. Meanwhile, John Diggle's army service is less than ideal. Also, a new villain with a link to Oliver's past reveals himself to the Green Arrow.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Out of Time": The Legends (a group of former supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash) are out to fix time, going back to stop the machinations of Damian Darhk in World War II, meeting Albert Einstein along the way. To stop a nuke, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) scatters the team throughout history and seemingly sacrifices himself, leaving Heatwave (Dominic Purcell) in stasis on board the Waverider, where a future Oliver Queen and time traveler Nate Heywood (Nick Zano) revives him and set out to find the team.

Bonus entry: Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four. A year ago, I wrote about my love for Marvel's Fantastic Four franchise, and here's a new documentary about a mysterious part of it: the 1994 Fantastic Four movie. The movie was filmed on a tight schedule, edited, scored, special effects (such as they were) finished, and the cast had extensively promoted it. And then, the plug was pulled. The film was commissioned to be made on a shoestring budget to maintain the film rights for Constantin Film. A VHS of the film leaked and floated around the bootleg circuit and now is widely available online for free viewing.

The movie—when its limitations are taken into consideration—is actually not that bad. There's a clear love for the source material and a drive to make a good movie certainly present. Its limitations are certainly in the forefront, with no time to refine the script, not a lot of time for reshoots, no access to the best digital effects, and audio issues that included a lack of re-recording. But still, it's a surprisingly enjoyable movie, even if it's largely laughable.

This documentary interviews the cast and crew of the film who tell us all about the creation of the film up through its promotion, its surprise cancelled release and then successful afterlife as a bootleg. It contains clips of the film, a little bit of behind the scenes footage and photos, views of magazines and articles covering the film, all putting together as complete a story as they can.

Certainly worth a watch, there will be a physical home media release in December.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap

As we get into the main TV season, the superhero TV shows I enjoy are coming back. The CW features several shows based on DC comics: Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, which all share a continuity, and iZombie, which is based on a title published by DC Comics imprint Vertigo. DC's Gotham is on Fox as well as Lucifer, also based on a Vertigo title.

Marvel's TV presence is right now represented by ABC's Agents of SHIELD. Agent Carter sadly didn't get renewed for a third season. Legion, Cloak and Dagger and a series based on the X-Men will be joining them. Also Netflix's Marvel originals Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the upcoming Iron Fist, The Punisher and The Defenders are also around.

Which do I watch? ALL OF THEM.

So, here's my recaps of all of the shows so far as the DC shows on the CW come back.

Gotham - "Better to Reign in Hell...," "Burn the Witch," "Look Into My Eyes": Gotham is the oddest show as it follows young versions of Batman's James Gordon, nearly all the villains and even a young Bruce Wayne being cared for his butler Alfred. Frankly, it's also the least-regarded DC show. The show gives us engaging villains and uninteresting protagonists who are frankly no better than the villains. My personal favorites are what I've dubbed the "Murder Bros," Oswald Cobblepot and Eddie Nygma, better known as the Penguin and the Riddler.

Basically, Season 3 of Gotham has the city in an uproar as a resurrected Fish Mooney and enhanced people from Arkham Asylum begin striking the city. One of them ages up "Ivy," Bruce is trying to figure out who's really running Wayne Enterprises as a boy identical to him shows up. Oswald calls for justice and begins running for mayor. James is currently not working with the GCPD and is hunting down the escapees from Arkham as a bounty hunter. In the latest episode, he runs into Gotham's terrifying hypnotic version of the Mad Hatter who wants to find his sister Alice.

I'm not holding out much hope for Gotham's ratings as Supergirl Season 2 debuts on the CW next week. Generally, Gotham paints some nice characters we want to see Batman interact with, but Batman isn't around in this universe yet. Most episodes are otherwise unremarkable. If there's one show I'd be fine with going away, it'd be Gotham.

Agents of SHIELD - "The Ghost" and "Meet the New Boss": Daisy Johnson/Quake is hiding out from SHIELD in the Los Angeles area when she discovers gang members being killed by a mysterious man in a flaming car, who she discovers to be Robbie Reyes, who turns into the flaming skull entity known as Ghost Rider. After some clashing with each other, Daisy and Robbie decide to team up.

Meantime, Coulson and the rest of the SHIELD team are dealing with a new director. Leo Fitz is secretly helping keep a new lifelike artificial intelligence android (LMDs: Life Model Decoys) under wraps as its further developed.

Meantime, agent Melinda May gets infected and begins seeing ghostly visions that confuse her.

SHIELD can drag, but Season Four is off to a good start. Hopefully with the inclusion of Ghost Rider, we're in for a more memorable season.

Lucifer - "Everything's Coming Up Lucifer" and "Liar, Liar, Slutty Dress on Fire": Lucifer is literally about the Devil taking a vacation in Los Angeles and helping the police department solve murders. Meantime, he's also keeping tab with an angel from heaven. Season 2 finds Lucifer's mother coming to earth, which has proved to be an entertaining plotline.

The strength of Lucifer is how well it develops a character based on who's supposed to be the most evil entity ever, but this character is extremely likeable and has problems and is someone you can relate to. Otherwise, it's mainly a regular "solve a murder each week" show.

The Flash - "Flashpoint": The Flash is probably the most fun superhero show on, period. Most takes on grounding superheroes in a believable setting steer it away from how wacky comics can be. The Flash manages to ground its characters, but still go exceptionally comic book as it follows Barry Allen as he gains super speed and becomes the hero known as the Flash.

After going back in time and saving his mother from being killed, Barry finds the present altered. Wally West is now the Flash, his sister Iris is no longer Barry's love interest but an all but total stranger to Barry, Joe West has little drive anymore, Cisco Ramon is a billionaire instead of a STAR Labs employee (but still inventive as ever), and other team member Caitlin is a simple doctor. While Barry's life is fine, are his friends' lives any better? Barry is forced to make a difficult choice: let Eobard Thawne murder his mother and restore the timeline, or let this new Flashpoint universe become the norm?

Arrow - "Legacy": Arrow, the first of the current batch of CW superhero shows, follows Oliver Queen as he takes on the mantle of the Green Arrow and the other people who become heroes along with him. It stays very grounded (even when dealing with some more comic book-style plots). It has borrowed a little bit from Batman mythos (season 3 even featured Batman villain R'as Al Ghul), but very much found its own identity.

Season 5 finds Oliver balancing his life as mayor of Star City and life as the Green Arrow. However, it becomes clear that the fight against crime needs to strengthen, and Oliver begins to decide he needs to recruit more heroes to fight crime in the city.

Luke Cage - Episodes 1-4 (so far): This show follows Luke Cage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Harlem. The Netflix shows have a more mature tone than the popular Marvel films, taking time to flesh out the characters and more gritty violence and intense character moments than you'd find in the movies, taking advantage of what being a Netflix original can offer with little FCC control and much more time than a movie can offer.

Luke Cage works and lives in Harlem, which is under gang warfare, not helped by "Cottonmouth." Cage's origins are also explored. It's a very character-rich experience and well-reccomended.

See you next week with more recaps as Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow return for their second seasons.