Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "More, Or Less"

Written by Gina Welch & Tim Minear
Directed by Liza Johnson

Joan: "This is just like 1937 again."
Mamacita: "When Hitler took over Austria?"
Joan: "No, when they labelled me box office poison."

And we're out of the filming process for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane and into the awards and public release side of things. This movie was supposed to be the ticket into reviving both Bette and Joan's respective careers but as this episode demonstrated, that wasn't quite the reality here.

In fact, we saw both Bette and Joan struggle here. Joan started the episode by firing her agents, who were making no effort to secure any lucrative work, rejected a role from an inexperienced would be female director and lost her shit when she didn't get the Oscar nomination that she was setting herself up for getting.

I actually found myself not greatly feeling bad for Joan in this one. While I don't blame her for sacking her agents, I think she cut her nose off to spite her face by rejecting Pauline's offer, even if she raised points about Hollywood's antagonism towards ambitious women. To be honest, the more this miniseries continues, the more I find myself on Team Bette to be honest.

Bette in question got herself a cute little agent at the start of the episode and even put an ad in the paper for herself to try and secure more work. She even an old idea to Aldrich, which he rejected but at the same we saw her doing a television job and some variety gigs along with more publicity work. Even Bette wasn't always the easiest of people to get along with, I definitely admired her determination and Sarandon has been getting better in the role too.

However while Bette and Joan had their moments, neither of them were actually the highlight of the episodes. Nope, instead the honour goes to both Aldrich's assistant, Pauline and Mamacita, both of whom got some brilliant moments in this episode. I loved the pairing of the two and I loved their scene in the cafe where they were both discussing their lots in life and wanting more.

As for Aldrich, he had his moments in this one. I hated that he snapped at Pauline but I did enjoy his scenes with Bette and Jack (Stanley Tucci really throwing in a good performance for a truly detestable character) while also having to deal with Sinatra's temperament as well during production of his Western movie. Not to mention there seemed to be some foreshadowing with his wife's comments too.

- Bette's Baby Jane song was hysterical along with her giving dolls to the audience. She also guest starred in Perry Mason with a dodgy hairdo/wig thing.
- Pauline's script was The Black Slipper. I would've so watched that movie had it been made.
- Anyone else feel bad for Victor Buono and that poor assistant when Sinatra was having a strop on set?
- Chronology: A couple of weeks since filming for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.

More, Or Less certainly delivered more great stuff than less of it. While Bette and Joan are still the focus of things, it was nice to see the likes of Aldrich, Pauline and Mamacita come more into the spotlight and again, I enjoyed seeing both Olivia De Havilland and Joan Blondell's comments again on both Crawford and Davis.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, March 27, 2017

My Review of Power Rangers (2017)

Written by John Gatins & Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless & Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney
Directed by Dean Israelite

Zordon (to the Rangers): "This is your destiny... This is your time."

Oh, the 1990's. How I love thee. I was a kid back then and there have been certain things from that period that I've now learned to appreciate a lot more than before and things I've been looking back with joy as well.

Power Rangers was one of those shows back then I was pretty much into but only the first three or four seasons (and the 1995 movie) and like certain things, it was also something I drifted away from. So while the franchise has had multiple spin-offs (and still counting), a reboot of the original team has now become the focus of this movie.

I'm wary of reboot, but I'm hardly unique in that respect but after watching this two hour affair, the one thing I came out with was that if you're going to modernise a franchise like Power Rangers, this is exactly how you do it. No, this movie really is that good.

To sum up the main players very simply, you have former football stud, Jason Lee Scott/Red Ranger (Dacre Montgomery), cheerleader turned social pariah, Kimberly Hart/Pink Ranger (Naomi Scott), gadget making Billy Cranston/Blue Ranger (RJ Cyler), the new kid for three years,Trini Kwan/Yellow Ranger (Becky G) and the somewhat reckless Zack Taylor/Black Ranger (Ludi Lin) as the five meet up through a series of events, find some colourful coins and gain superpowers and a whole new mission along the way of getting to know each other.

First of all though, the characters. It's without a doubt the movie gets effortlessly right as each of the Rangers comes across as a real person and the friendships forged between the pair are organic and grow beautifully within the movie itself. The themes of autism, sexuality, revenge porn, ruining your future and being a young carer are also explored with great depth that enhances the respective characters without ever patronising the audiences.

The argument that audiences can't deal with diversity in a mainstream superhero gets blown away here as this movie absolutely proves that they can. There isn't a single Ranger that doesn't feel like a real person and it's hard to pick a favourite because they're all so good to watch. Seriously, every single one of them steps up to the plate in terms of character and performance. There's not a duff performance in sight.

Of course being Rangers isn't an easy feat. It actually takes until the final twenty minutes of the movie and a tragic moment (that's also reversed) in order for the gang to be able to morph into their armour and while the various training montages are excellently done, the new team up of Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) take a little getting used to but again they work pretty well with getting the gang to accept their new destiny and prepare for the big battle.

As for the villain of the piece, I loved Rita Repulsa in the original series and Elizabeth Banks certainly brings a lot to the piece. The new backstory with Rita being the original Green Ranger whom Zordon defeated is a nice twist and while I think the character could've done with more screentime, whenever Banks is on the screen, she's a delightfully OTT villain to watch, very much like Rita was in the original show itself.

Rita's general plan is fairly basic. First she eats up enough gold and people to restore herself and then she uses both her putty creations and the giant Goldar in order to get the Zeo Crystal and destroy all life. The sequence where Rita and her army rampage Angel Grove in order to get to the crystal is pretty stunning as the Rangers mobilise together as a team and we get to see them in their Zords as they battle to save the day.

Of course Rita is defeated but not completely taken out of the ongoing story. With five sequels alleged planned for this rebooted franchise, I imagine she'll be back to cause more mayhem and with the mid credit sequence setting up something else, I really cannot wait to see more of this new generation of Rangers on the big screen.

- Both Amy Jo Johnson (original Kimberly) and Jason David Frank (original Tommy Oliver) made a cameo appearance towards the end of the movie.
- Speaking of Tommy, the mid credit scene set up the character to appear in the second movie. There's a chance though the character might be gender swapped.
- Marvel fans will like the Iron Man and Spiderman references the movie made.
- There was a kiss between Jason and Kimberly that was cut from the movie. There's an implied attraction between the two nonetheless though.
- There's references to some of the more recent spin-off shows in the movie if you can spot them.
- Standout music: You've got a modern version of the classic theme by Brian Tyler, also Fitz and the Tantrum's Handclap and Bootstrap's version of Stand By Me.

Like I said earlier in the review, this is exactly how you reboot an old franchise. Power Rangers felt distinctively like the series it originated from but with a very contemporary twists. The Rangers have been excellently cast, are believable as characters and allies and develop brilliantly over the two hours they're given onscreen. While Rita could've had a little more screen time, she's an excellently updated antagonist with a new backstory that can be richly explored once another newcomer makes their presence known in a future release. Overall, a great movie for both kids and adults alike.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, March 24, 2017

My Review of Empire's 3x10: "Sound And Fury"

Written by Eric Haywood & Carlito Rodriguez
Directed by Craig Brewer

Cookie (to Lucious): "No. I said I was done with you. I meant it."

It's all about the DNA or at least that's what Lucious and Cookie both made it about this week. Cookie was always going to get her own back after Lucious dug up about Angelo's previous manslaughter incident and Cookie certainly went for the jugular when she publicly outed Leah being alive during the Inferno launch.

Naturally this was going to lead to some form of blow back for her as Lucious made it his mission to sabotage Angelo's bid for Mayor and give him even more bad publicity but hiring Anika as head of A&R really was the thing to push Cookie over the edge and she revolted in the most explosive way going.

Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard owned the last five minutes of the episode as Cookie went on one hell of a rampage, smashing everything inside Empire within swinging distance of a bat (watch out, Negan, you have some competition there). Even Lucious himself wasn't spared getting a whack from the bat and the last moment where it looked like Cookie's rage was going to manifest into something else was averted during the final moment.

I don't believe Cookie will ever be done with Lucious, not while she's still at Empire and playing her role in his and their sons careers and while the "17 years" spiel has been repeated ad infinite with her, it certainly had more potency in this episode than I expected it to do. As for Lucious, even he seemed genuinely shook at her lashing out this time.

Of course when Cookie and Lucious weren't going at each other, there was also the issue of Jamal's recovery. While I definitely think he left rehab way too early, I did enjoy his recording scenes with new friend, Tory Ash (Rumer Willis). I just hope though that he doesn't slip back now that he's out of rehab though.

As for the rest of the episode, I liked the Thirsty and Becky team up (including Leah) which took into two plot points - one undermining Tariq's crusade against Lucious by getting Bam Bam on side again and the other which also Xavier finally getting the sack. Unfortunately for Becky, Anika got the job she wanted. Still, at least one pointless character is gone with.

- I had to laugh at Nessa and Tiana's on stage scrap but mainly for Shyne's reaction though. Shyne also seems sceptical of Andre's scheme to kill Lucious though.
- Rumer's mother, Demi Moore will be appearing later in the season along with Eva Longoria and Nia Long. The show is upping the female guest stars for the second half of this season.
- Standout music: Inferno by Remy Ma/Sticky Fingaz, Nessa/Hakeem/Tiana's Get Me Right and Jamal/Tory's Simple Song.
- Chronology: Not long since the previous episode. Doesn't seem like a huge amount of time has passed for everyone.

Now that was an episode to come back with. I had been distracted with enough shows not to miss this one's absence too much but with Sound And Fury, the series came back swinging. Brilliant songs, some legitimate fireworks, one of the best five minutes the series has produced and a promise of more craziness to come. Yippee.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 2x15: "Fellowship Of The Spear"

Written by Keto Shimizu & Matthew Maala
Directed by Ben Bray

Mick: "I wish things could've been different, Sara."

After watching this episode, so do I. It's like you know watching that everything was about to go spectacularly wrong but you couldn't stop it nonetheless. Maybe if the gang had given Mick a bit more credit or had gone with Amaya's plan instead, things might not have turned out to be the disaster area they did.

Except none of those things happened and instead not only do we have a pre-Waverider version of Snart alive and kicking with the Legion of Doom but Mick's also joined them and the lot of them ended the episode with the Spear of Destiny in their possession and history about to get one hell of a makeover given the trailer for next week's episode.

I know the gang haven't always taken Mick seriously or been wary of his past but it seemed like this episode really overemphasised that point just for him to switch teams at the very end. Even Snart's needling of his worth to the crew seemed like the sort of thing that he would've otherwise been able to have fought off.

That said, much as I didn't enjoy seeing Mick throw in his lot with the bad guys (especially soon after Rip being brainwashed by them), I did enjoy all of his scenes with Snart again. I've missed Snart as a character and while I'm not getting my hopes up yet that we'll have him back as a regular next season, just seeing him again was a delight to have.

As for the gang, I knew the moment that things were starting off well for them (them stealing from Thawne at the Vanishing Point) that things would sooner go wrong for them. The temptation with the history changing Spear to one side, the gang also had to pull in the services of JRR Tolkien (Jack Turner) to locate Sir Gawain's body in order to find the blood of Christ.

I did like the use of Tolkien a little more than George Lucas earlier in the season but I think it was down to the guest actor being somewhat stronger and fitting in more naturally to the WW1 background along with the references to his work being a little more subtle in their references too. Oh and some good chemistry between him and Rip too.

- I liked that Amaya talked to Sara about looking into her future. I also liked the mentions of Laurel and Mari in this one too.
- Rip likes himself some jellybeans and Jax was able to transmute some for him at the start of the episode.
- Anyone want to guess which famous writer/director we'll get next season? I wouldn't be surprised if it's George RR Martin next.
- Chronology: 1918 France for nearly all of the episode.

Fellowship Of The Spear had some good moments but it was a bit of a frustrating episode to watch as well. I knew the League had to get that spear but it felt a bit contrived how the gang somewhat alienated themselves from Mick but with two episodes to go, there's still time to save the universe from whatever the League have intended for it.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SuperFlashMusical - A Star Crossed Duet (Spoilers)

It was eight months ago that a musical crossover episode with both Supergirl and The Flash was announced. The last two night saw the CW deliver on that promise and then some.

First of all on Supergirl and with an episode titled, Star Crossed, it was mostly a standalone episode. After months of the blindingly obvious simmering in the background, Kara (Melissa Benoist) finally found out that her boyfriend, Mon El (Chris Wood) was actually the Prince of Daxam when the latter was reunited with his parents, Rhea (Teri Hatcher) and Lan Gar (Kevin Sorbo) and needless to say, it put something of a spanner in the works. Even with Mon El somewhat evolving a little from the hedonistic party boy, Kara found this one lie to big to get past and subsequently ended things with Mon El. However by the episode's end, the Music Meister (Darren Criss) had managed to escape the DEO, put Kara under his spell and jumped dimensions in order to catch up with the fastest man alive.

And then it all continued in The Flash with an episode titled, Duet. Music Meister didn't waste time putting Barry under the same spell as Kara and both super friends found themselves caught inside a musical reminiscent of West Side Story (along with shameless and delightful references to other well known ones) as a pair of singers working for an alternative version of Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) while being pulled in by alternative versions of Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Martin Stein (Victor Garber). Of course with this being a musical, there was a forbidden love story between Millie/Iris (Candice Patton) and Mon El/Tommy and a gang war as Barry and Kara worked together to save the day and belt out a few tunes in the mix. Oh and did I mention the alternative versions of Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Winn (Jeremy Jordan) too? Both were on fine form here.

The songs themselves were a mixture of cover versions and originals. Seeing Kara belt out a sultry version of Moon River at the start, coupled with Barry's soulful Runnin' Home To You (penned by La La Land songwriters Benji Pasek and Justin Paul) certainly were high points of the episode but to be honest, I think every song struck a chord. The duet of Superfriends (written by the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom) was unashamedly cheesy and I loved every second of it along with the fathers rendition of More I Cannot Wish You and the Meister himself trying to get our heroes to Put A Little Love In Your Heart which was also rather charming.

As for the Music Meister himself, Darren Criss definitely seemed to have blast in the role and seeing him, Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin in various scenes together did give me flashbacks to their days on Glee. I did find it slightly odd that Meister's main purpose was mostly to help reunite Kara/Mon El and Barry/Iris but I do think in the context of the episode and it's not so subtle themes that it does work and was satisfying enough. I'm not sure if he's a character who should return though but thanks to him, we got some gorgeous musical numbers, a nice mixture of character team ups (the Cisco/Kid Flash/J'onn pairing was great) and a world where Joe West and Martin Stein are gangster husbands so for those reasons alone, I certainly wouldn't object to an encore to be honest.

As musical episodes go, it's not quite Once More With Feeling but it's definitely one of the more enjoyable ones and easily one of the best episodes The Flash has currently done this season. I do think though that maybe we could've had a few more characters in song (no Caitlin or HR numbers) but other than that, this was a delight to watch.

Running Home To You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoUyrUwDN64
Superfriends: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmb_emGkPBs

If you want more of the Music Meister though, you should check out Batman: The Brave And The Bold's Mayhem Of The Music Meister episode.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "Mommie Dearest"

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Joan (to Aldrich): "She did that on purpose!"
Bette: "I barely touched her."

And that's a wrap. Not for the series mind because there's five episodes left to go but for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane as Bette and Joan up their game in more ways than one for their final days of shooting their only movie together.

Before all that though, there's a moment in the episode where both women go out for drinks and reveal some of their childhood memories to each other. It's a striking moment in an episode full of them as both women get a further understanding of the other. I have to admit seeing the way Joan talked about her stepfather particularly shocked me even though I already some of the details. I think Bette's reaction summed it up pretty well.

Along with the drinks revelation, the other thing I liked about this episode was the exploration on the women's mothering skills. Joan found herself signing a card for Christina while also keep a firm grip on her twins and despairing when she was denied the right to adopt another kid. The dynamic between her and maid Mamacita was also given some nice focus on too.

Then there was Bette. She tried her hardest to shield BD from some of the criticisms of the latter's performance as the neighbour on the movie while also opening up to Victor Buono about her other child, Margo. whom we later saw Bette trying to reconnect with during a phone call. Another surprise moment was the maternal streak she showed towards Buono, which also included her getting him out of a very sticky situation with the police.

However back to the rivalry stuff and once again, any moment of civility between Crawford and Davis got put to one side as the two upped their game in antagonising one another, with the likes of Hedda shit stirring on the side. The look both women gave each other though as production wrapped up on the film was rather telling.

- Along with the sexual abuse Joan suffered at the hands of her stepfather, this episode only made the smallest allusions to her own relationship with adopted daughter, Christina.
- Loved seeing Bette calling Hedda out on her role in the feud that she was having with Joan in this episode.
- No Joan Blondell or Oliva de Havilland this week. Hopefully they're back soon though.
- Chronology: During the final few days of filming Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.

Easily the best episode of the bunch so far. Mommie Dearest might not have given us the biggest details on that particular aspect of Crawford's life but the episode succeeded in covering both Joan and Bette's style of parenting as well as showing us that both women really could've been friends had things been different for them too.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Prometheus Unveiled

Yup, it's been an interesting few episodes of some of the shows I've watched over the last few weeks.

Arrow: I have to say the last few episodes have been rather enjoyable. I quite liked the bad girl trinity of China White, Cupid and Lady Cop for one episode while at the same time, the show actually revealing to us that Adrian is Prometheus after all and that Talia is backing him to make Oliver suffer. Predictable as the outcome might have been, it does make sense and it's played out rather well with some nice scene chewing menace from Josh Segarra as Chase too. On the other hand, the Helix storyline remains dull as ditch water and there's too much Rene and not enough Thea for the show's good.

Once Upon A Time: It's been over three months since the mid-season finale but the show is now back and the first two episodes were decent enough. Revelation wise, we now know that Hook killed David's father and Rumple/Belle are somewhat conflicted about their grown up son wanting to kill Emma while Regina has figured out that she might not love the Robin she yanked away from another world. Aside from one of those bits, nothing too earth shattering so far but there are ten episodes left to go and it's been nice to see a little more of August too.

Santa Clarita Diet: I've blitzed through more episodes of this delightfully offbeat show and with two more to go, I've certainly been enjoying it so far. Sheila and Joel working together to maintain the former's diet and learn more about her status has been fun to watch along with Loki also resurfacing as one of the undead. Another plus side was the show bumping off Dan, who had just become too annoying to be kept on for much longer as well as the teenagers on the series getting some decent B-plot material to work with.

Supergirl: A bit of a lull in the show with an arc centred on a returned Jeremiah working for Cadmus. I have to admit, it's not been the strongest arc and much as I love Alex, the show might want to dial the angst factor with her a tiny bit. As for Kara and Mon El's relationship, it's not super compelling but not objectionable either though the Winn/Lyra hook up has been slightly more effective. The show though is struggling to give Jimmy anything meaningful to do and with Kara being fired by Snapper, I do wonder if CatCo is slowly being phased out of the show. On the other hand, Lena lights up the screen every time she appears and the show could do with more appearances from her to be honest.

The Flash: Also suffering a little bit of a lull has been this show. The Grodd two parter was excellent, if a little rushed in it's resolution to Grodd's general attack but the last two episodes have seen both Barry and Wally becoming increasingly reckless and giving the returning Savitar too many advantages.. I did like seeing a few familiar faces (Eddie, Ronnie, Snart, Jay etc) via the Speed Force episode but the way Barry/Iris have been written in the last few episodes hasn't been good. Thankfully though there's an upcoming musical episode to look forward to and not too long before Savitar can finally be taken out for good.

- Andrew J. West and Alison Fernandez will be appearing in the finale in mysterious roles for Once Upon A Time. Both characters will appear in the seventh season if the show is renewed.
- Ryan Murphy will be doing a series focusing on 80's LGBT and ball culture called Pose for FX, due to air in 2018. Does the guy ever sleep?
- Feud's second season will focus on Charles and Diana's estrangement.
- Alexander Siddig has been cast as Ras Al Ghul for the third season finale of Gotham.
- Game Of Thrones eighth and final season will be six episodes. Season 7 will air on HBO from July 16th.
- Riverdale has been renewed for a second season by the CW.
- The CW will also be air Black Lightning instead of FOX. Cress Williams will be playing the title role.
- MTV will rebooting Scream after it's six episode third season airs.
- Midnight Texas will now air during the summer for NBC.
- Jason Isaacs has joined Star Trek: Discovery in the captain's role.