Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (11/21/2016-11/22/2016)

(Agents of SHIELD will be finishing its three week hiatus this week, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow are taking the week off due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. All of them will be back next week.)

Gotham - "Time Bomb": Eddie decides Butch is responsible for Isabelle's death and sets out to take his revenge. Thanks to Ivy, Bruce, Selina and Alfred discover more about the Court of Owls. Jim decides to make his peace with Tabitha.

Supergirl - "The Darkest Place": Kara enters Cadmus to rescue Mon-El and faces a surprising villain in an enhanced individual. J'onn feels the effects of having White Martian blood in him. National City's new hero the Guardian is caught on video killing someone. Some very good twists and turns this week.

Lucifer - "Homewrecker": Lucifer gets his bar taken away from him. Chloe's investigations put her on the bad side of Lucifer's mom.

The Flash - "Killer Frost": After helping Barry fight Savitar, Kaitlin begins turning into Killer Frost, taking on a sinister personality. Joe wants to get Wally out of a cocoon Dr. Alchemy put him in. Cisco learns more about Flashpoint.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (11/14/2016 - 11/17/2016)

Supergirl - "Changing": Mon-El begins training with Kara. Alex comes out to Kara. The DEO investigates a parasitic alien found in the Arctic. James and Winn unleash a new hero on National City.

Gotham - "The Executioner": Ivy reveals her new, older form to Selina as she needs help returning goods she stole. Jim investigates the now very violent Barnes. (Written with help from my brother Drew.)

Lucifer - "Trip to Stabby Town": Lucifer discovers an angel's blade has been unearthed by a human and is being used to commit murders. He has to enlist his mother's help in finding it.

The Flash - "Shade": Wally has dreams of his Flashpoint identity as Kid Flash, hinting that he's being targeted by Dr. Alchemy. Caitlin reveals her Frost powers to her team mates. "HR" proposes a museum to help conceal STAR Labs' association with The Flash.

Arrow - "Vigilante": A vigilante not connected with Team Arrow has been killing criminals in Star City. Quentin Lance quits his role of deputy mayor. Now Team Arrow has someone else to track down.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Outlaw Country": The Legends pop back to the Old West where they meet Jonah Hex once again to fight an outlaw who has the use of futuristic technology.
This week's bonus is a short made about 1992-1994. Produced by a special effects company, The Silver Surfer was made as proof of concept that the character could be put onscreen with CGI. Surprisingly, it's one of the first Marvel-based productions with a post-credits scene. It can be viewed on YouTube.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (11/7/2016 - 11/10/2016)

The Flash and Agents of SHIELD took a break this week, not least of reasons being that their usual night was election night and people would be more likely to watch election results.

Supergirl - "Crossfire": Kara attempts to help Mon-El enter normal society by helping him get a job at Cat Co. Except there's a culture clash going on. Alex makes a major personal decision. Project Cadmus equips a gang with anti-gravity and disintegration rifles. James Olsen decides he needs to step up as a hero.

Gotham - "Blood Rush": Commissioner Barnes begins to give into the blood lust given him by Alice's blood. Oswald decides to deal with Eddie's new girlfriend, who sets him off with her resemblance to the ex he murdered back in Season 1. Jim settles back into the GCPD.

Lucifer - "My Little Monkey": Lucifer attempts to try a new style by shadowing another detective on the force. Mazikeen finds new employment.

Arrow - "So It Begins": Prometheus begins a series of murders that serve as a coded message to Oliver. The new Team Arrow is finally beginning to operate as a group. Thea discovers that Quentin has become an alcoholic. Felicity steals evidence from the police department (and her new boyfriend) in an attempt to discover the identity of Prometheus.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Compromised": Traveling to the 1980s, the Legends have to face off against Damian Darhk again as he tries to interrupt a peace treaty being signed at the White House. Martin Stein has yet another encounter with his younger self as both Vixen and Ray try to figure out their identities as heroes.

As the review bonus is a Doctor Strange double feature. While Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme may have only just hit theaters, the character has already been a star of two other productions and was going to lead a feature film in the early 1990s. I'm not reviewing that last one, but I'll speak about it. Doctor Mordrid (1992) was initially going to be a Doctor Strange movie, and would have joined The Punisher, Captain America, and Roger Corman's Fantastic Four (if it had been released) in an attempt to bring the Marvel heroes to the big screen and make them household names. As it turned out, Fox's Saturday morning cartoons were more effective for doing that.

Full Moon Features produced Doctor Mordrid, reworking their plans for a Doctor Strange film after their option for such a film expired. Doctor Strange would have aimed for PG, but without a license from Marvel, the resulting movie went for a hard R with a reported overuse of profanity and an inexplicable nude female scene. There are entertaining scenes with animated animal skeletons fighting. The end result wound up being unlike Doctor Strange with a mystical sorcerer who crosses to our dimension to fight an evil wizard. Anyone interested can check out video reviews that use clips from the movie, and it's also available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

The first solo Doctor Strange project was a television movie released in 1978. At this time, it seems CBS was attempting a live action Marvel TV universe with their famous Incredible Hulk TV show, the short-lived Amazing Spider-Man TV show, a pair of Captain America movies, and this Dr. Strange TV movie, recently released to DVD by Shout Factory with a handsome remaster.

The CBS/Marvel TV universe would later expand with Daredevil and Thor appearing in Hulk reunion movies, although these were aired by NBC. Apparently, CBS planned live action movies featuring The Human Torch and The Sub-Mariner, but these never came to pass. All of these TV movies were basically test pilots for TV shows. I'll repeat myself and say that only The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk became shows.

Dr. Strange is one of those adaptations that are loosely based on the original source material. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) is a doctor here, and we see him working with patients, but no indication that he's a great surgeon. Furthermore, he's never in an accident that forces him to leave the work he does. The plot follows Morgan LeFay (Jessica Walter) coming to do away with the Sorcerer Supreme Lindmer (John Mills) or his successor. Lindmer knows his time is coming to a close and tasks his assistant Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) to find Stephen Strange. The movie is all about how Stephen becomes a sorcerer, with very little time of him in an iconic costume for comic fans to enjoy.

Interesting one for the diehard fans of live action Marvel, but casual fans, give it a pass.

There have been several animated versions of Doctor Strange, but the only one to have him as the lead character, 2007's direct to video animated movie, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme. This one is considered the best of that bunch of animated Marvel films.

It serves as an origin story, but now with several sorcerers appearing in New York chasing monsters that have escaped the Dark Dimension. Strange's story focuses mainly on how he's humbled, then grows into a sorcerer as he learns from the Ancient One, facing Mordo and Dormammu.

The movie has that simplified, anime-flavored animation style, and a bit of that good old dialogue stilt. Otherwise, it's a very fine film. It's available on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital video.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/31/2016 - 11/3/2016)

Supergirl - "Survivors": As Kara and Winn help Mon-El learn what he can and can't do, Alex, Hank, Maggie and Kara investigate a bartender's actual identity as a female Martian and work on busting an alien fight club.

Gotham - "Red Queen": Jim gets drugged by Jervis Tetch and has a bad trip and hallucinates a lot. Oswald gets cockblocked because Eddie found a new girl. Also the Court of Owls continues plotting some more. And Jervis Tetch drains his sister's corpse's blood. Just... what the hell is this show anymore?

Lucifer - "Monster": As Lucifer and Detective Decker investigate the murder of a bride at a zombie-themed wedding, Lucifer gets rather unstable, acting very erratically. Mazikeen takes Decker's daughter trick-or-treating.

The Flash - "Monster": Caitlin sees her mother to learn more about her cold-generating powers as a giant monster threatens Central City. Barry moves in with Cisco as the team learns more about the new Harrison Wells they've brought from "Earth 19." Barry manages to connect with coworker Julian a bit more.

Agents of SHIELD - "The Good Samaritan": As we prepare for a multi-week break, we learn how Robbie became Ghost Rider as the new director wants to question him. We also learn where these ghosts came from. Fitz discovers a link to the final season of Agent Carter. Robbie fights the new director of SHIELD, revealing his Ghost Rider identity to his little brother. Things aren't looking too good...

Arrow - "Human Target": Tobias Church orders a hit on the mayor, but Oliver—with help from one Christopher Chance—uses this chance to smoke him out. Oliver also has problems with the press. Oliver's secret identity gets leaked to the wrong people.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Abominations": Wow, I never expected them to crossover with Gotham. Okay, okay, just kidding... A zombie virus from the future infects soldiers during the Civil War, as well as Mick Rory. Ray and Dr. Stein stay on board the Waverider to find a cure while the other Legends deal with zombified soldiers and slavery. Actually, a very good and solid episode.

Two movie reviews this week!

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders: A direct to video animated feature celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous 1966 Batman TV series, complete with the surviving cast (Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin and Julie Newmar as Catwoman) returning to voice their respective characters, with soundalike voice actors filling in for the rest.

The Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman steal a Replica Ray for their nefarious deeds. During the events of the adventure—which takes the wackiest and best of the classic TV show and in some cases dials it up to 11—Catwoman infects Batman with a drug to turn him evil. It doesn't quite work as she expected, though.

The transformation of the world of the 1966 show into animation is done very respectfully, though with some liberties—the sound effect pop up words no longer have a solid color background behind them, Comissioner Gordon now has his signature mustache and glasses, unlike the live action TV version—but if you're familiar with the classic TV show, there are Easter Eggs galore.

Thumbs up to the writers, animators and cast, I'm looking forward to the sequel!

Doctor Strange: The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduces a mystical side to the world we've seen in the past 13 movies. After sustaining lasting damage to his hands, skilled surgeon and arrogant cynic Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cannot return to his practice. He's led to a mysterious place in Kathmandu, Nepal where he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who begins training him to be a sorcerer. While Strange quickly find allies in Wong (Benedict Wong) and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), he finds his training interrupted by the rogue sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his attempts to remove the mystical protection of earth so the Dread Dormammu can plunge Earth into the Dark Dimension.

Visually, Doctor Strange works. As a story, it takes one of Marvel's lesser known characters and creates a good story around them, as they've basically been doing with most of the MCU since Iron Man. By and large, it works very well. Examining it more as a standalone, some typical issues with Marvel films will turn up. Smaller characters (especially Rachel McAdams' Christine Palmer) seem underserved, but this is because Marvel usually plans to do two or three movies with these characters and have them take part in other films. While some will take issue with it, I can't call it a flaw because it's what the creative team decided on.

Acting, well, Marvel picked a fantastic cast for the film, just about the only thing is Benedict Cumberbatch's American accent. I don't think it was done badly, but being a fan of Sherlock, The Hobbit, The Imitation Game and other things he's been in, it's a little strange to hear a very different voice come out of him. One scene struck me as him sounding very off.

I plan to see it again before it leaves theaters, and yes, there is the now-standard mid-credits and post-credits scenes to stick around for!