Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Review of Batman And Harley Quinn (2017)

Written by Bruce Timm & James Krieg
Directed by Sam Liu

Harley Quinn: "You think I'm just some dizzy airhead that don't know nothin'. Do you know what I am?"
Batman: "My punishment for dropping out of med school."

I should've reviewed this one last month but after the overwhelmingly negative reviews for it, I wasn't particularly in a rush to watch and I certainly had no intention of buying it either but with Gotham back, it got me in the mood to finally seek it out and eh, I wish I hadn't bothered.

The main plot involves a team up between Poison Ivy (Paget Brewster) and Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) coming up with a diabolical scheme to turn the whole planet into plant creature based on the same formula used on Swamp Thing (John DiMaggio) and in order to stop them, both Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (Loren Lester) have to team up with an unlikely person. Actually, a very likely person considering the title of this animated movie.

Yup, because the character hasn't had enough with last year's Suicide Squad (where she was endlessly enjoyable) and the current DC Rebirth comics shoehorning her into as many releases as possible, Harley Quinn finds herself reporting for duty and grudgingly helping the Dynamic Duo to stop her former BFF from completing her insane scheme with Woodrue.

Voiced by Melissa Raunch from The Big Bang Theory, this version of Harley Quinn is certainly a bit hard to take at times. While the manic pixie girl element of the character is somewhat toned down, the more bolshy and aggressive side certainly got ramped up throughout this movie. There's one particularly unpleasant tryst scene with Nightwing that wasn't needed or added anything to the story and the scene where Harley is passing wind in the Batmobile also takes things to a new low.

On the other hand, she does keep both Batman and Nightwing on their toes and there's a nice moment in a dive bar in Bludhaven where she gets to strut her vocal chords in one genuinely entertaining scene. Other than that, the movie really goes overboard with Harley's petulant side and Batman's a bit too joyless even for him at times.

As for the main plot, neither Poison Ivy nor Floronic Man are given much to really do. Their scheme is bonkers and while Harley's method for getting through to Ivy at least makes some sense given their relationship, the mostly off screen way of dealing with Floronic Man, coupled with a disappointing cameo from Swamp Thing just ends the overall plot on an extremely poor note. One of the worst resolutions I've seen in a bit.

- This is meant to be set within the Batman: The Animated Series universe, specifically around The New Batman Adventures era.
- Harley was seen working in the sleazy Superbabes bar. On the plus side, I did love the allusions to Batman 66 during her musical moment here.
- Nice glances at both STAR labs and ARGUS pretty early into the story as well as a few brief cameos from previous animated series.
- A post credit sequence sees Harley getting her own therapy talk show, which definitely wasn't earned. I assume Ivy was sent back to Arkham.

I get that Harley has been flavour of the month for quite a long while but surely, a much more compelling story could've been forged here with her and the Dynamic Duo's pairing. I'll give it points for not actually featuring the Joker or barely mentioning him at all but it's easy to see why so many fans took exception with this particular movie. It's not exactly The Killing Joke in terms of controversial but it's also a massive misfire and waste of it's main characters. Batman And Harley Quinn could've been a fun addition to the particular animated universe it inhabits but it's too much of a mess for even that. A really poor cash in. If you have to watch it, download but don't buy it.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Details On Arrowverse 2 Night Crossover/The Ray Cast

Yup, we've finally got some details on the CW's DC Arrowverse four show/two night crossover and it sounds even better than last year's Invasion!

Titled Crisis On Earth X (I assume this is for all four episodes), the two night crossover which will start in Supergirl before continuing into Arrow, The Flash and concluding in Legends Of Tomorrow, will centre on the upcoming wedding between Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) and Iris West (Candice Patton) but it seems that the Earth X version of Barry along with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Kara Zor El (Melissa Benoist) will also be appearing as the four shows and their main players band together to stop the villains from Earth X, who decide to crash the wedding while having their own deadly agenda.

Joining the cast for this crossover event will be Russell Tovey. The actor who has recently appeared in both Looking and Quantico has been cast in the role of gay superhero/reporter, The Ray/Raymond Terril. The character also set to appear in his own upcoming animated series, Freedom Fighters: The Ray on the CWSeed, which has yet to be given a release date. I was really hoping that the CW would cast an openly gay actor for this particular role and Tovey's casting is absolutely sublime. I just hope this won't be the only time we see The Ray in live action though.

Press Release: http://www.spoilertv.com/2017/09/crisis-on-earth-x-dc-cw-crossover-event.html?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#link_time=1506105654

The Crisis On Earth X crossover event will air on the CW from November 27th and 28th. UK viewers should get it shortly after on Sky1. I'm hoping a release date for Freedom Fighters: The Ray is imminent too.

Friday, September 22, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x01: "Pax Penguina"

Written by John Stephens
Directed by Danny Cannon

Jonathan (to Grady): "Jonathan Crane isn't here anymore. It's just the Scarecrow."

Even since the trailer was released for this season at Comic Con, I've been getting the sense that Gotham could be heading towards an end date in sight. I don't mean that to alarm people but this episode alone and following the events of the previous season finale has certainly pushed things further along than expected.

Apparently the first half of this season will be lifting stuff from The Long Halloween along with the second half delving into Year One territory and if this one is anything to go by, we've got a lot of crazier madness to be sifting through for the series fourth season. Alone several plots were nicely set up or hinted towards.

First of all, there's Bruce himself. The guy has just become a proto Batman with Alfred advising caution and Bruce not entirely taking on board what his butler is telling him. For the most part, Bruce does seem to be decent enough at it but his confrontation with Oswald over one incident at the newly renamed Iceberg Lounge and a moment towards the end does show that Bruce has a bit of a way to go before he can truly excel in his future role.

Of course, I do like that Bruce is showing his initiative and his cordial challenging of Oswald's "licenced crimes" route was far better than Gordon's hamfisted attempts of manipulating both Oswald and Merton (played by Michael Buschemi), which only ended up with Oswald actually getting infected by the Crane fear virus, leading to the bigger part of the story.

All summer long we've heard about the Scarecrow finally coming to the city and this episode certainly set things up nicely as poor Jonathan (Charlie Tahan) was terrorised into helping Merton's gang by the corrupt warden at Arkham. I actually loved that Jonathan then embodied the very thing he feared and got some revenge on Grady at the very least. I can't wait to see what terror he's going to bring in next week's episode.

As for the rest of the episode, there were some noticeable absences but things did move along nicely enough. I did like that Tabitha and Selina decided to join Oswald's act while at the same time, Ivy's sudden turn against Oswald seemed a little off too. As for Gordon, he was consistently reckless but he had some nice moments with both Bullock and Bruce, so I'll let that slide for this review at least. The Bruce and Selina interactions were also pretty well handled, even though there's still a little distance between the two of them as well.

- The subtitle for the first half of this season is now A Dark Knight.
- Absences this week included Barbara, Leslie, Butch and Lucius while Ras had a brief cameo and Ivy is now a recurring instead of a regular character this season. I did find the Nygma lie Oswald was peddling rather amusing too.
- The show now has a new mayor and commissioner along with Arkham having a new person in charge.
- Chronology: Three months since the events of Heavydirtysoul.

Pax Penguina was the start of a lot of things for the show's narrative - Bruce/Selina's respective destinies, Oswald's way for dealing with crime along with the birth of the Scarecrow and all of them have gotten off in interesting ways so far. Along with some nice music, sassy one liners from Victor Zsasz and the beautiful cinematography, I'm really glad the show is back again.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Neighbours From Hell

Written by James Wong
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Meadow: "Hello les. I think you're a horrible racist."
Ally (to Ivy): "That bitch hung up on me."

In this episode, Ally's accidental killing of Pedro could've had more consequences for her but it didn't. Basic self defense laws (in spite of Pedro being an innocent man) meant that she didn't face any jail time for her actions but it certainly brought about a lot of ire as she became labelled the "lesbian George Zimmerman" and incurred the wrath of her quirky neighbours from hell.

The Obama hating, gun collecting half gay/straight coupling of Harrison and Meadow decided to spend a chunk of this episode being suitably vile to Ally by calling her out on cultural appropriation (hilarious when they were wearing the sombreros themselves), putting up some horrible ads on Craigslist and giving Oz a pet guinea pig, which later came to an unpleasant ending that wasn't entirely shocking for this show.

Ally tolerated some of their new neighbours torments but the last one was enough to make her slap the shit out of Harrison before threatening to kill both him and Meadow. In those moments, I quite liked Ally. For the rest of the episode, the character still grated at times that when Ivy slapped her over the whole Winter situation from last week, I actively cheered the latter on.

However, whatever animosity there was between Ally/Ivy and Harrison/Meadow, the episode ended with them both set up as future targets for the killer (that smiley face in blood) and with Meadow supposedly missing as well. I don't know if Meadow actually is missing but I do know that both her and Harrison are linked to Kai and he certainly seemed to working on turning the pair against each other during his pinky scenes this week.

Kai mainly seemed to be taking a bit of a backseat this week but at the same time, it's like every episode has to go out of it's way to find some way to have him and Ally interact though. This week he was commending her for defending herself while trying to protect her from an angry mob. I have no idea what their next encounter is going to look like but I get the feeling that Kai will sink his hooks into Ally pretty soon as she's further isolated from Ivy.

- Rudy the therapist definitely seems to be involved with the cult in some way as that couple at the start were trapped in coffins to die pretty soon after his session with them.
- We properly saw Beverly Hope this week in at least two scenes and next week another familiar actress is back. Also are Harrison and Detective Samuels an item too?
- So is who is spraying the gas on Ally and Ivy's lawn in the middle of night and why hasn't Winter been fired yet?
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off.

Bit of an oddball episode for me. Neighbours From Hell didn't advance the cult stuff too much and again, Ally's hysteria is beginning to lose my sympathy for her, even if she is being gaslighted by certain people. The scene where she talked about "cisnormative pet names" was some of the most vomit inducing dialogue ever spoken on the show. On the other hand, next week's episode looks really good.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Halloween 2018 Movie: The Night Laurie Strode Came Home

Yeah, you heard right, people. Even Michael Myers can't keep the most iconic final girl in the horror franchise down and he's certainly spent several decades trying to.

Yesterday through her own Twitter account, actress Jamie Lee Curtis (and on Instagram too) tweeted the following ....

"Same porch. Same clothes. Same issues. 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween."

Despite the fact that Curtis's character, Laurie Strode was murdered by relentless killing machine, Michael Myers at the start of 2002's Halloween: Resurrection, it seems that she will be appearing in next year's untitled Halloween movie, which could mean anything. Perhaps Laurie's death will be ignored or maybe she'll be some kind of ghost but seeing Curtis kitted out in her original costume in the picture above certainly generated a lot of buzz online. It has been rumoured that the movie will be a sequel to Halloween 2 though I thought 1998's Halloween: H20 somewhat covered that.

The original Halloween movie came out in 1978 with seven sequels spawning between 1981 and 2002, before the franchise was rebooted (rather pointlessly) by Rob Zombie in 2007 and 2009 with Scout Taylor-Compton in the role of Strode and plenty of unwarranted backstory to boot and other unpleasantness, because you know it's from that director. As you can tell, I'm not big on those particular movies, which deserve to be purged from existence.

The new movie will be made by Blumhouse, Miramax and Trancas. The director of the original movie/co-creator of the franchise, John Carpenter will executive produce along with Gordon Green and McBride’s Rough House Pictures. Danny McBride will be scripting the movie along with David Gordon Green.

Also because of this news, I'm gonna have to speed up and complete my reviews for the remaining Halloween movies I've not reviewed yet. I'm absolutely delighted by this news. I never thought we'd see Laurie Strode in a non reboot movie again and now we are. How cool is that?

Press Release: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/jamie-lee-curtis-returning-halloween-franchise-1039687

The upcoming/untitled Halloween movie will be released on October 19th 2018.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Liza Johnson

Ally: "That's not true, those numbers don't seem right to me. Where are you getting your information from?"
Kai: "Facebook!"

Ah yes, because the instant reactionary that is social media evidently is the best to make an argument for virtually anything. I'll give Ally points for calling out Kai on his readiness to believe random statistics from Facebook but everything else about the character is starting to grate on me a little.

I get that she's got fears (clowns, holes, bees etc) and that she's on the edge and while I definitely think Sarah Paulson is doing a commendable job nonetheless, unless something happens really fast, then Ally is going to further grate on me as a character. There's only so much the show can milk out of the character's growing paranoia and two episodes in, it's starting to feel like we're already at saturation point with her.

This week though when Ally wasn't freaking out about seeing clowns in bed with her, she also had the misfortune of finding her chef's dead body in the restaurant and ended the episode by accidentally shooting Pedro when the power went out and her new neighbour intensified the paranoia with his talk of terrorist threats.

Speaking of the new neighbours - this week we were introduced to married couple, Harrison and Meadow Wilton (Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman) and already, I'm both fascinated and a little creeped out by them. Both besties - the gay beekeeper and his cancer surviving/pharmaceutical saleswoman wife certainly gave us a lot of information about themselves which managed to send Ally into something of a tizzy at times. Still though they did add a bit of colour to an episode that felt a bit beige at times.

Keeping with the inappropriate for a moment, I genuinely cannot decide what Winter's game actually is. While Kai used his 'beating' to garner some public support and a bid to run for city councilor, Winter seemed more intent on playing mind games with both Oz and Ally for her own amusement. She forced the former into the pinky thing that her and Kai have going on while trying to seduce the latter with a bubble bath. The only person she hasn't manipulated so far is Ivy but I'm sure that will happen soon enough.

As for the political commentary - eh, it was still OTT at times here. I think had this season aired earlier in the year, a lot of the themes (fear, immigrants, walls/bridges etc) would have been a lot more effective but despite some of the show's best intentions, a lot of it is simply not coming together as strongly as it should be.

- Harrison/Meadow aside we were also introduced to Adina Porter's reporter, Beverly Hope for a brief moment this week.
- Oz is short for Ozymandias, which seems appropriate for this season. We also got another Twisty cameo this week.
- Both Ivy and Rudy seemed like they could be planning another solution for Ally if they figure out that she isn't taking her medication.
- Chronology: From where the end of the previous episode left off.

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark was solid enough but again, the show needs to move away from the election commentary because at the moment, it seems to be holding it back. It's time to really embrace the horror and go mad with the clowns and get the actual cult theme up and running instead of treading the post Trump political blues.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Aladdin - Further Casting & New Roles Created

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the castings for Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie for the upcoming live action reboot of Disney's Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie. Now further casting has been revealed and one in particular is a rather controversial choice too.

In a role not featured in the movie and where the controversial bit comes in, Billy Magnussen has been cast in the role of Prince Anders. A newly created role for the movie, the Into The Woods actor will play a potential suitor for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) from the fictional place of Skanland. Already this casting decision has seen accusations of whitewashing for the movie and while I'm not sure the movie actually needs the character, I also don't think Anders will be taking any spotlight away from the main characters.

As for the villain of the piece, it seems the role of Jafar will be going to Marwan Kenzari. The actor known for his roles in The Mummy and the upcoming Murder On The Orient Express will play the evil vizer of the Sultan who will scheme to take over Agrabah while also taking on the title character himself, as played by Mena Massoud. I got to admit that Jafar looks pretty hot, casting wise.

As for the Sultan himself, the role will be going to Navid Negahban. The actor who has appeared in Homeland as Abu Nabir and in the US version of Mistresses will be the father of Princess Jasmine, trying to marry her daughter off while also falling fowl to Jafar.

Meanwhile it seems that the villainous Raoul is either being replace or simply renamed as Numan Acar will be playing the role of guard Hakim, who seems to be Jafar's right hand man in the movie. I hope this doesn't mean we're losing Iago though.

The last bit of casting for now (but revealed weeks ago) is Nasim Pedrad. The Scream Queens actress will be playing an original character in the movie named Dalia, who has been described as a handmaid and confidante for Princess Jasmine.

I think that's probably it for casting announcements now. Filming for Aladdin should be starting within the next few months for released on May 24th 2019.