Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 37-40 Reviews

Still into the early days of the second season and there's a welcomed return of a feline femme fatale and another new villain for the show.

2x03: Hot Off The Griddle

It might be a bias of mine and I really don't care but if there's an episode that factors Catwoman into things, then I'm unable to dislike it. Returning for her second two parter in the role, this story has our Princess of Plunder setting up her own school for burglary with a new crew of willing blokes to help her with her latest scheming. Cue an alliance with a dodgy gossip reporter named Jack O'Shea and Catwoman herself having both Batman and Robin about to bake on top of a roof and there's no doubt that this story is telling us that she means business. 8/10

2x04: The Cat And The Fiddle

Things take an interesting turn in this one. I think this was the first time we actually saw Catwoman disguise herself as an old woman (something she did in her comics debut) and it was rather funny having her pose as Minerva Matthews while also getting fooled by Robin posing as Zubin Zucchini for good measure. It's a thrilling conclusion to the story with Catwoman's near escape by rocket foiled and of course, more hints of her not so subtle attraction to Batman (and of course, his to her as well). 8/10

2x05: The Minstrel's Shakedown

Ah, time for another lyrical baddie. This time around, a bloke calling himself the Minstrel, played by actor/singer Van Johnson and like the Archer before him, someone who supposedly wants to do but is willing to commit a crime in order to do it such as a little bit of blackmail. Of course when he slips up a little, the Dynamic Duo nearly have him caught before the pair of them end this one by nearly being barbecued as a result. 6/10

2x06: Barbecued Batman?

A better conclusion to an alright story. I did like that the Minstrel actually disguised himself to witness the city succumbing to his demands before he was foiled and while we had the right hand woman turned ally trope again with Amanda, it was done reasonably well enough. There's even an interesting moment where O'Hara expressed some doubt over the Dynamic Duo's secret identities before's he reprimanded by Gordon. It's not the best two parter we'll get in this season but it's watchable enough. 6/10

Next blog I'll delve into The Spell Of Tut/Tut's Case Is Shut and The Greatest Mother of Them All/Ma Parker

Monday, May 21, 2018

Gotham - Season 5: A Wishlist (Also some Batverse related spoilers)

Last week, FOX announced that Gotham had been renewed for a fifth and final season, comprising of thirteen episodes, due to air in 2019. On another forum and Twitter, I made a list of things I'd like to see in the show's final year. Here is the list in question with a few additions as well for good measure.

1: Final episodes to be a two parter that shows Bruce and Selina as Batman and Catwoman respectively, with glimpses to as many Rogue Gallery members as possible.

2: Oswald to get a male love interest this season. Seeing as we haven't seen Oswald in a relationship of any kind, now is the perfect time to do this and let it last more than two or three episodes. It can a new character or a comic character whose sexuality isn't too set, but either way, let's do this one already.

3: Origin stories for the likes of Two Face, ManBat, Bane, Talia, Ventriloquist, Killer Croc and/or Clayface and another Poison Ivy arc would be nice. It seems that No Man's Land has introduced both ManBat and Mother and Orphan while the fifth season will add Lady Shiva and Scarface/Ventriloquist to the roster.

4: Wake Sofia out of her coma, do the Hangman story and kill her off.  A whole Hangman versus Two Face arc could actually be a lot of fun to be honest for an episode or two.

5: Updates on the likes of Montoya, Allen, the Graysons and Barnes/Executioner. Some kind of backstory on Harper would be nice too. I like her but we know nothing about the character. You could also allude to the Maroni crime family, even though Titans are rumoured to be using them in their first season.

6: Have a media presence on the show. Shouldn't we be meeting the likes of Vicki Vale and/or Jack Ryder by now? You could make them a few years (2 or 3 at minimum) older than Bruce and Selina.

7: Don't overwhelm the last season with Jeremiah/Joker. Use him sparingly. Ideally the first episode, a mid season episode and the last two. Let other baddies shine too. I feel with the last few episodes of the fourth season, we've had quite a bit of this proto Joker, so I don't want the last season to go overboard with him. Of course, also bring back Ecco too.

8: Some characters deaths that properly stick, no more reviving them, though I suspect both Ra's and Butch/Grundy will resurface in some capacity in the last season. Characters such as Barbara and Tabitha shouldn't be too bulletproof though.

9: Allude to the likes of Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon even if they don't actually appear on the show. The latter on this show could be Gordon's niece, seeing as that's something even the comics have done as well.

10: More of the batshit craziness we've been having since the show's beginning. This show thrives on being nuts, so keep with it. Show us the true madness of the city's criminal underworld as Bruce heads towards getting his cape and cowl.

11: Given his clear writing and directing talents, if the show wants to get Benjamin McKenzie to do either once again, then fine by me. He's clearly skilled at both.

12: Personal indulgence and because we haven't had any as of yet - but I'd love either a Halloween or a Christmas episode. Heck, even another musical sequence would be nice.

13: I do think we need a bit of a time jump when we get to the last batch of episodes for the show.

However with Gotham on the verge of ending, it seems that EPIX will be stepping in to do a 10 episode prequel titled, Pennyworth. Yup, Alfred will be getting his own spin-off that while having the producers from Gotham will not be connected to the show or starring Sean Pertwee at all. It is however being framed as a 1960's spy thriller, focusing on a younger Alfred and the beginnings of his friendship with Thomas Wayne. Much as I love the character to bits, I genuinely am clueless as to why this was seen as a viable (then again, it didn't stop SyFy from commissioning a series about Superman's granddad) option when they could've pitched for a Batman Beyond show instead. I will be interested to see who they cast as both Alfred and Thomas alone.

Keeping with the Batman related stuff, it seems that both Batwoman and Gotham City will be playing a big role in this year's Arrowverse crossover. Announced last week by Stephen Amell, the Kate Kane version of the popular character (around since 2006) will be appearing. Although casting has yet to be confirmed for the character or more details for this year's crossover event, following the successes of both Invasion! and Crisis On Earth X, it was mentioned that it will air in December. I'm wary about the Arrow universe using both Kate and Gotham City as much as I enjoy the shows, I still have flashbacks of their poor handling of Ra's Al Ghul but given the CW's DC shows impressive track record with LGBT characters, I do think they're going to do Kate Kane justice. The character has previously appeared in animated form in the 2016 movie, Batman: Bad Blood voiced by Yvonne Strahovski.

Pennyworth News:
Batwoman News:

So, what would you like to see happen in Gotham's final season? Are you excited for Batwoman to make her live action debut and is an Alfred spin-off really needed? Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, May 18, 2018

My Review of Gotham's 4x22: "No Man's Land"

Written by John Stephens & Seth Boston
Directed by Nathan Hope

Bruce: "I remember the night we met, you told me the world may seem dark."
Gordon: "There is light."

Now, wasn't that a hell of a call back to the opening episode of the series or what? We came so close to this being the last ever episode of the show and fortunately for us, FOX managed to do one solid by renewing the show for a fifth and final season. As brilliant as this episode is, it would've been wrong for this to have been the last ever episode for the series.

The last scene beautifully set up both James and Bruce's respectively role. Gotham has officially become a No Man's Land and while we've had this particular storyline done on the big screen with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Arrow doing their own variation in two of their own finales, Gotham really only showed us the tip of this particular event.

By the end of this episode, the city had been cut, some had evacuated (Alfred and an injured Selina) but mostly everyone else was still here, marking their territory while both Bruce and Gordon banded together against the ensuing chaos.

The groups for now seem to be Barbara/Tabitha with the Sirens taking their misandry to a new level, Oswald, who has instructed Strange to revive both Leslie and Nygma (more on that in a bit), Firefly who wants to burn everything, Mr Freeze who wants to cool the city, the Scarecrow determined to create hell as well as the briefest glimpses of ManBat and Mother and Orphan, who genuinely look terrifying for the small bit of screen time we've seen.

As for Jeremiah, he played his part well enough but he really wasn't as big an attraction as the previous episode. I mean he succeeded in needling Bruce about Selina's injuries, kidnapped him and brought him to Ra's but even the latter himself was outsmarted by Barbara and killed off once again. Right now, Jeremiah is on the loose and ready to pop up but I am hoping with the episode reduction next season that too much time isn't dedicated to the show's version of the Joker at the expense of other villains.

Speaking of villains, Oswald played a blinder with this episode. The moment Butch and Tabitha looked like they were going to have a happy with the former being cured was the same one Oswald wrecked by killing Butch and vowing to finish Tabitha off when he felt she's suffered enough. Oswald's waited a long time to avenge his mother but that was stunningly cold, even for him. Tabitha will definitely be a dead woman by next season.

As for Nygma, Gordon and Leslie, that triangle came to a violent-ish end as well. Nygma might have failed in crushing Jim but he succeeded in stabbing Leslie after she did it to him first. I have to admit, I love that Leslie got the move in first and let's be honest, Ed completely deserved it as well. That said, what the hell is Strange going to do with them both next season aside from reviving them?

- Why didn't see Ivy carve out some territory in this episode given that she has a prominent role in the comics? And Sofia is still stuck in her coma? I really do think she could've been paired with Jeremiah and Ra's these last few episodes.
- It's been confirmed this show will get a fifth and final season of 13 episodes to air in 2019. I'll be doing a blog on that soon.
- So who do we think Mother and Orphan will be? I know the latter is meant to be Cassandra Cain but Orphan looked like a boy in that brief scene and ManBat was still partially humanoid.
- Chronology: From where One Bad Day left off.

No Man's Land came close to being a series finale and fortunately it wasn't. It's undeniably a brilliant episode, easily one of the show's best and possibly, it's best finale yet but a series finale wouldn't have been right. The hints for Bruce's journey have been hammered home all season long but we really needed another season to see the actual results and fortunately that's what we're getting.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

My Review of Empire's 4x16: "Fair Terms"

Written by Dianne Houston & Jamie Rosengard
Directed by Jussie Smollett

Eddie (to Lucious): "This is all you'll ever be."

Last episode saw Lucious take out Shyne rather gloriously and this week saw Eddie really stick the knife in at the 20 for 20 launch with his public outing of Blake's racist past and instilling more reason for the board to back him over the Lyons. With two episodes left, I do wonder Eddie is about to get a similarly gruesome fate that Shyne did last week.

Speaking of Shyne, there was something audacious in having Lucious give the speech he did at the former's wake but it also felt very in character as well. Even more audacious was Lucious being the one to convince Nessa to throw her lot in with the Lyons family with the promise of him getting justice for Shyne's murder. I can only wonder what that will come back to haunt Lucious.

Eddie and Anika certainly were working over time to undermine the Lyons at every turn and we even had Tiana do her best to undermine Cookie as well. As for the Blake reveal, I did believe his story about his father making him take that photo but at the same time, everyone had a right to be pissed off with that. Saying that, he can't be the only 20 for 20 artist with a skeleton in his closet. What else did Anika uncover?

As for the rest of the episode, the scenes with Cookie, her sisters and her mother were good. Not quite as good as the scenes with Poundcake and Maya from the previous episode but I did like the dinner scene and ensuing tension between Cookie and Renee felt realistic enough.

If the show could get a lot out of Leah, then they better do the same with Renee as well. The scene where Renee met her grandsons for the first time added a nice bit of poignancy to things as well. Plus we really do need a scene with Renee and Lucious within the next two episodes as well as he doesn't seem that enthused that Cookie is talking to her mother again.

- Hakeem's subplot with the whitesplaining movie director was a bit boring, with Haven predictably getting with him as well.
- Becky made it clear that she knew Jamal was uploading music online with his Collective. Jussie Smollett also directed this episode.
- Standout music: Jamal/Hakeem/Tiana's The Big 20 as well as some familiar favourites.
- Chronology: From where A Lean And Hungry Look left off.

Fair Terms was a bit of a letdown compared to the brilliance of the previous episode. Not strictly a bad episode as such and Jussie Smollett was fine on directing duties but it could've a bit more livelier than it was. The last scene though certainly did end things on an interesting note.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

My Review of Empire's 4x15: "A Lean And Hungry Look"

Written by Matt Pyken & Joshua Allen
Directed by Bille Woodruff

Shyne (to Lucious): "No matter what you do to me now, you gotta live with that."

I leave the show for a few weeks (busy with other things), come back and the episode I catch up with ends in the death of a character I've been wanting the show to get rid of since last season. I don't know who to thank (probably the people who wrote this one) but good riddance, Shyne. As a character, you overstayed your welcome and it feels like we've had to wait too long to you get your just deserved comeuppance.

This episode had Lucious play the long game with Shyne, letting the latter believe that they were going to teach Eddie a lesson or two while at the same time drawing some parallels between Lucious and Shyne's musical rivalry of the past with Hakeem and Blake's rivalry of the present. Much as I wanted Shyne gone from the show, this was a good final episode for him.

The rap in the sound booth was a good moment along with Shyne's realisation that Lucious intended to take him out. The fact that Lucious got one of his aides to do the task instead was a little smarter on his part. With Shyne out of the way, the focus can go back to both Eddie and Anika being dismantled within the last three episodes.

This week saw Anika trying to plant doubt in the board's decision to accept Eddie's resignation with Tiana also backing Eddie up as well. I've been disappointed that Tiana has been relegated to this role in the season and it's odd to see her and Anika work together. Not to mention her nastiness towards Cookie was pretty uncalled for as well.

Speaking of Cookie, while she was aware of what Lucious intended to do with Shyne, she was however more involved in the Poundcake and Maya subplot and to be honest, I really loved this plot. The prison flashbacks with Poundcake sacrificing herself to make sure that Cookie could get her freedom along with Maya getting to read her mother's letter.

Over the course of the season, the show has done a bang up job with Cookie's prison flashbacks and the complicated relationship between her and Poundcake. This episode ultimately paid the whole thing off and even spurred Cookie into seeing her own mother at the end of things. It'll be interesting to see how Cookie and Renee will interact in the remaining episodes this season.

- I can't tell if Jamal's Collective plot is meant to be hinting at another relapse or just him being somewhat pretentious but I was on Becky's side here.
- Speaking of Becky, is this show going to confirm whether or not she's still pregnant or is that being saved for the finale?
- Standout music: Hakeem/Blake's Payroll and Big Sean/Migos Sacrifices.
- Chronology: Not long from where False Face left off.

A Lean And Hungry Look definitely had a lot of meat to it as an episode. Once again, we got a look of how delightfully ruthless Lucious can be but it also showed us Cookie's caring side with her scenes with Maya and Poundcake as well. Definitely one of the strongest episodes of the season.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, May 14, 2018

Review: Eurovision 2018

It was that time of year again. Yup, taking things to Lisbon, 63rd edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest was in full swing and not entirely devoid of some notable moments either.

And this year's winner turned out to be Israel with a whopping 529 points. Netta's song, Toy and bizarre chicken sounds/movements somehow managed to be the very thing to get the general audience voting in their droves. While it's a far better song than last year's winning misery fest (and boy, did I switch over when that guy started singing two rather dull songs during the intermission), it was still a pretty rubbish song. I'm not gonna lie - Austria's entry, Nobody But You by Cesár Sampson  (coming 3rd with 342 points) or even Sweden's entry, Dance You Off by Benjamin Ingrosso (coming 7th with 274 points) seems like better choices. Rounding off the Top 5, we also had Cyprus's entry - Fuego by Eleni Foureira claim the second spot with 436 points, Germany's entry You Let Me Walk Alone by Michael Schulte getting 340 points and claiming the fourth spot and in at fifth place with Non mi avete fatto niente by Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro for Italy with 308 points.

For the first time since 2013, Ireland also managed to make it into the final and I have to admit after having some dire past entries that didn't deserve to make it, it was nice that we had a great song for a change. Ryan O'Shaughnessy, best known for Fair City and Britain's Got Talent knocked it out of the park with the rather sweet ballad, Together. The song generated controversy (along with Albania's singer having tattoos) by featuring a gay couple dancing so China ended up not airing the contest at all. The entry itself did a little better than expected, clocking in 136 points and coming in 16th place. It would've been nice had it done a little better but I actually think this was a good enough result and the song itself definitely did the country proud. I also quite liked Norway's entry - That's How You Write A Song by Alexander Rybak, which got in 15th place with 144 points as well as Czech Republic's Lie To Me by Mikolas Josef which got 6th place with 281 points.

As for the UK, well, there's certainly some controversy with this entry. The song itself - Storm by SuRie was a pretty good effort, nicely sang but the whole thing was marred by some horrible git getting up on stage and sabotaging the performance. The guy was thankfully removed from stage, no one was injured and SuRie herself was given the chance to perform the song again (but chose not to). Position wise, the UK came 24th with 48 points, which was a shame as they did deserve better with this one. Rounding off the bottom two though was Finland's entry Monsters by Saara Aalto getting 46 points, coming in 25th while the 26th was given to Portugal with the song O jardim by Cláudia Pascoal with 39 points.

As for the presenters themselves. Last year we had three guys and this year, it was four women. The women in question were RTP hosts Sílvia Alberto, Filomena Cautela, and Catarina Furtado, together with actress Daniela Ruah, the latter who is a regular in NCIS: LA. I thought they were decent enough, somewhat on par with the guys from the previous year but lacking the spark that Mans and Petra had back in 2016. Some of the sketches were also a bit of a misfire and I do think that maybe four hosts is one too many for this event but other than that, they did a solid job keeping viewers entertained.

Netta - Toy (Winning song):
Ryan O'Shaughnessy - Together (Irish Entry):

So thoughts anyone on this year's contest? Here's to going to Israel for 2019.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

My Review of Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Thanos: "Today I lost more than you could know, but now is no time to mourn. Now, is no time at all."

Without a doubt, this movie was probably the most hyped superhero movie of 2018 and it's hardly a surprise that within a fortnight of it's general release that it's already cracked over $1 billion worldwide. The hype was inescapable. This movie was bulletproof from failure. The question though - is is any good?

You know, actually yes. I've seen the majority of the MCU films (still some I need to catch up on) and I've watched the previous Avengers ones but it's safe to say that Infinity War is on another level as Thanos's (Josh Brolin) great plan to acquire the deadly infinity stones has come to fruition with some pretty devastating results that are for obvious reasons unlikely to completely stick when we get to the next movie in 2019 but for now, it's hard not to be effected by them.

Thanos showed that he meant business at the start of the movie when he had Thor (Chris Hemsworth) defeated before mercilessly killing Loki (Tom Hiddleston) but it was really the tip of the iceberg in his determination to complete his mission. Grieving for Loki to one side, the decision to pair the Asgard God with the Guardians of the Galaxy, specifically Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) led to some great comedic moments for a movie that also didn't hold back on some devastating moments.

Of course with two prominent members of the Guardians with Thor, the remaining crew also had their problems with Thanos. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) had her backstory with her adopted father greatly expanded upon before being sacrificed for his end goal while Nebula (Karen Gillan) reached out to the rest of the team, even if it was too late. I did like the brief exploration of Gamora and Quill's (Chris Pratt) relationship as well as the latter's initial jealousy of Thor, which again added to some lighter moments in the movie.

The other Guardians team up however with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Spider Man (Tom Holland) on Titan did however lead to a rather deadly and fatal face off with Thanos with only two of the bunch surviving. The comedic banter with Spidey and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) again works in the movie's favour and in general, the scenes with Stark, Strange and Parker are some of the best from the entire movie itself. I genuinely could've watched a lot more with those three.

Of course with Thanos going around collecting the stones, it's not like the heroes on Earth weren't trying to prepare as well. Both Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) found themselves drawn into the battle when Thanos's children also went after them and it didn't take long for the duo to be reunited with The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo not actually hulking out here), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) before the final stage of the battle took place in Wakanda with both Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) added into the mix.

I'm genuinely impressed with the length of this movie and with the amount of characters and locations that we saw, the writers were able to give nearly everyone as much to do. Okay, maybe the likes of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Wong (Benedict Wong) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) didn't have as much to do but they engaged when they were on the screen nonetheless.

As a villain, there does seem to be upturn in the way the MCU are crafting them and Thanos might easily be their most successful to date. The devastation he causes at the end of this movie will be undoubtedly fixed by next year but not all of it but I think the reason he works so well is that while he's genuinely intimidating as a baddie, he's also oddly sympathetic as we managed to see in his scenes with Gamora. Despite his horrible actions, you can almost see why he feels the need to 'save' the universe in his own deadly way.

- The post credit sequence hinted at Captain Marvel, who will appear in the sequel after we've seen her first solo movie. Nice to see Nick and Maria as well before you know what happened.
- Keeping with the Marvel universe (but not the MCU), audiences can see Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2 next week.
- There were meant to be appearances for Aunt May, Hawkeye and Ant Man but none of the characters appeared here. No doubt we'll see them all in the sequel though.
- Chronology: 2018 I assume for most of this movie's scenes on Earth.

Avengers: Infinity War prided itself on being the most ambitious crossover that the MCU could've done and it certainly lives up to the hype. There are plenty of funny moments, stellar performances, good fight scenes, emotional and shocking bits and with an excellent villain like Thanos, it's definitely the jewel in Marvel's crown. Now let's hope the sequel gives audiences the ultimate pay off though.

Rating: 9 out of 10