Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x03: "Evil Manners"

Written by Matt Pyken & Carlito Rodriguez
Directed by Bille Woodruff

Diana (to Cookie): "It's time we put these hostilities behind us."

Big difference between what one says and what one does, huh, Diana? This week Diana seemed more determined to continue on her mission to take out the Lyon family while Angelo seemed to prefer to drink himself into a stupor and call Warren a whore and add nothing else of value to an otherwise enjoyable episode.

Diana got a minor victory at the start when her cousin the bank clerk guy was able to reject Cookie for money but she ended up having to save face when Cookie was able to charm those women at the photoshoot they all shared. I hope Cookie is smart enough to see through Diana's "let bygones be bygones" facade because Jamal is sinking further in Warren's clutches.

Jamal really had all the hit and miss material this week. On one hand, I loved that he was honest to Lucious about their past and I enjoyed all their scenes together but he was unable to stop Shyne from figuring out that Lucious has memory loss and he certainly was reckless in telling Warren about Lucious, which mean Diana has one more trump card she can now play with.

Of course when Jamal wasn't revealing things he shouldn't have, the episode gave us some interesting flashbacks to Cookie's time in prison where it seemed like the women were more keen on being her friend than an enemy. They tied in fair enough to her current situation at the photoshoot and again, I liked that Cookie was honest to Lucious about being in prison for seventeen years.

As for the rest of the episode, when Shyne wasn't vying for more albums and settling for five, Andre and Detective Rose seemed to be playing mind games with one another while Hakeem seemed determined to keep Anika away from Bella as best as possible with Tiana taking on a more neutral role. Both plots were decent enough but the best stuff was with Jamal, Cookie and Lucious this week.

- Who was that woman that Diana had to mess with Andre? By the way, Diana views Andre as the Scarecrow, Jamal as the Tin Man and Hakeem as the Cowardly Lion.
- No Claudia, Tory or Porscha this week.
- Standout music: Rantionale's Tethered, Hakeem's Shut Up and Jamal/Hakeem's Chase The Sky.
- Chronology: Not long from where the previous episode left.

I enjoyed the episode. Evil Manners certainly showed a lot of DuBois scheming and while Cookie managed to inadvertently get one on Diana, Jamal on the otherhand wasn't so quick to see through Warren though. Add some great music and bits of Lucious's memories trying to surface and this was a goodie.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 4x03: "It's For The Greater Good"

Written by Erika Harrison
Directed by Nicole Rubio

Michaela (to Isaac): "He’s dead isn’t he? Everyone around us dies. That’s what we do."

I have to admit, I am loving the cliffhanger moments this season. To recap - Laurel went into premature labour, the baby's missing, Frank's consoling her, Isaac is looking for Annalise who is also missing, there's blood on the elevator of Annalise's apartment and now we've got Michaela outside the baby unit lamenting about him being dead.

I get that we're meant to think in this case the "he" is Laurel's son, but I get the feeling the "he" is actually someone else in the mix. I've read some theories this week about it being Simon but would Michaela really be distraught if someone like him died? Probably not under normal circumstances but if the Keating 4 and company played a role in his death, then maybe yeah.

I mean, it might not be Simon either but I definitely don't think that Laurel's baby is actually dead, even if there's the chance that for some reason Michaela might believe he is. I am however still trying to figure how Isaac is going to get involved with the rest of the gang when so far, his interactions in the present day have been restricted to Annalise and even then it seemed like she was about done with him this week

Isaac this week did seem more of a hindrance to Annalise than an actual help with him publicly getting her to hand over urine sample during her cases and being dismissive of her cases as well, so I am wondering how he ingratiates himself into her fractured inner circle in the next few episodes. I did love Annalise challenging him and this week, she was on fire, case wise.

Having her turn the other lawyer (played excellently by Marianne Jean Baptiste) in order to free her client was pretty nifty, even if she did have to deal with the likes of Bonnie and Nate playing her at her own game this week. I have to admit, both Bonnie and Nate came off worse to me in that scene than Annalise did but at least Bonnie did something good with hiring Laurel.

Speaking of Laurel, I knew it was going to take a bit for her to get Michaela to risk her position at Caplan & Gold to avenge Wes but at least the episode didn't drag it out. The competition between Michaela and Simon played out well enough and I like that Michaela has Tegan on her side but I guess maybe we should be taking Simon a little seriously if he's going to have a bigger role this season.

As for Connor and Asher - I'm bored of their mutual moping and they were the weak links of the episode for me. I did like that the gang organised an intervention for Connor even if it didn't take and I liked the introduction of his dads too, which was a nice surprise but aside from some fit go go dancers and Oliver being the smart one in the bunch, the plotline was the least engaging this week.

- Jasmine appeared in the episode, only to be killed off. I sort of knew the show was going to do this but I'm surprised they did it so quickly though.
- Frank really does need a bit more to do this week but I do like that he's slowly working his way into everyone's good books again.
- Who else aside from Frank knows where Annalise lives now?
- Chronology: From where I'm Not Her left off.

It's For The Greater Good was the strongest episode we've had so far. The main mystery is moving along nicely and there's some great stuff with Annalise, Laurel and Michaela but both Asher and Connor are in need of some better material at the moment but other than that, the season is solid so far and the cases have been interesting too.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, October 13, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x04: "The Demon's Head"

Written by Ben McKenzie
Directed by Kenneth Fink

Ras (to Bruce): "You're finally beginning to see things clearly. The question is: are you strong enough?"

Have I mentioned that Gotham are doing a far better job with their depiction of Ras Al Ghul than the Arrow universe did? Well, even if I have, it bears repeating as this episode really showed what a magnificently dangerous man Ras well and truly can be when pushed into a corner.

Now I wasn't shocked that he killed kindly museum guy Niles, who had the misfortune of examining the knife that Bruce bought at the auction that Ras was so desperately keen on acquiring. I was however shocked that the show actually went ahead and allowed Ras to slit poor Alex's throat when Bruce refused to hand over the knife towards the end of this episode.

Considering the amount of things that the show has done in it's four seasons, seeing an innocent kid getting murdered was by far the most shocking they've done. I liked the character of Alex. He wasn't the brightest bulb in the room but he was sympathetic and it was nice to see Bruce interact with someone his age range that wasn't Selina for a change. Had things been different, Alex might have been a good friend to Bruce but Ras certainly put an end to that one.

Of course when Ras wasn't killing people to get his knife, he was sending a bodyguard with a dog man creature named Anubis to try and do the same thing while formally introducing himself to Gordon in an attempt to play nice. The latter stance almost worked until Alfred blew both Gordon and Ras's mutual scheming against one another.

Still though, this was a truly excellent episode for Ras where he definitely emerged as a big threat and even with him being shipped off to Blackgate, I didn't need the trailer for next week to inform me that he would get out of his prison sooner than later. Of course, it wasn't just Ras that fared well in this episode.

Both Bruce and Gordon themselves were on fine form and it was nice to see the pair of them actually working together to try and stop Ras. I also liked that Gordon was a lot more competent in this episode than usual and that he actually gave Bruce some pretty sound advice as well. This is a version of James the show needs more and more.

Saying that though, I don't think Gordon really understand what he's done with bringing Sofia back to the city. In this episode alone, it seemed like she was able to play off both Oswald and Gordon while at least letting them both think that they have her sussed out. Now this side to Sofia, I'm also in favour of. I'd rather see Sofia using both Jim and Oswald than being played so easily by both.

As for Oswald, when he wasn't testing Sofia out as a potential threat, he was also having to deal with Nygma's frankly pathetic attempts at revenge. I have to admit, I loved the rapping riddles bit (mainly for Zsasz's reactions) and I also loved the moment where Oswald and Edward finally faced off and the former stopped Fries from freezing the latter as well. Oswald not putting Edward on ice again will probably come back to haunt or maybe it'll be the beginning of a truce between the two. I imagine we won't have too long to wait for an answer to that one though.

- Benjamin McKenzie (Gordon) wrote this episode after directing last season's These Delicate And Dark Obsessions. He really should write/direct more for the series.
- How gorgeous does the Iceberg Lounge actually look? I love the umbrella light especially. It's just in this episode I really got a proper look at the place.
- No Selina, Ivy, Tabitha, Butch or Bullock in this episode and Barbara was relegated to at least two scenes. We did get some more of Harper though who seems okay, character wise.
- Chronology: More or less from where They Who Hide Behind Masks left off.

Now that was brilliant. The Demon's Head certainly showed us that Ras mean business as an antagonist this season and the excellent team up of Gordon and Bruce really worked well for the episode with the Oswald, Nygma and Sofia subplots. Can Benjamin McKenzie write another episode for the series?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Constantine - Trailer For Animated Series Released/Legends Of Tomorrow Appearance Confirmed

One of the many highlights from last week's New York Comic Con was the confirmation that a certain petty dabbler still has more life in him just yet.

Matt Ryan played the role of exorcist and conman, John Constantine in NBC's Constantine series, which ran for 13 episodes between 2014-2015. Following the series cancellation, Ryan reprised the role in Arrow's fourth season in the episode titled Haunted, before appearing in the Justice League Dark movie and in 2018 the character will headline his own animated series on the CWSeed.

The trailer, released during the weekend showed Constantine up to his old tricks in a church surrounded by demons but it seems that this time around he can swear as well as smoke in his new form.

However, viewers won't just have the character in animated form to enjoy once again as it's also been confirmed that Matt Ryan will also be appearing in the ninth and tenth episodes of Legends Of Tomorrow's third season as well. The spoilers for the appearances sound genuinely exciting as Constantine's appearance on the series will coincide with the return of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and introduction of new antagonist, Mallus.

"As for the character of Constantine, we knew that an alienated, chain-smoking, bisexual, world-weary demonologist would feel right at home among our Legends. His appearance in episode 310 will involve the following: a revisiting of Arrow season four and the events following that season’s finale episode; a confrontation with this season’s Big Bad on Legends — the name we’ve only heard whispered until now Mallus; some hot sex — something that has been in short supply on the Waverider thus far in season three; and Damien Darhk, because how can you do an episode about dark magic and not have Damien Darhk? More than anything, the episode promises to be scary as you know what — tonally it’s The Exorcist meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Demonic possession in a mental institution, what’s not to love?"

The fact that they're also talking about the character's bisexuality is promising, considering that his own series did seem to skirt around the subject. I'm also hoping that beyond his two scheduled appearances that perhaps we might see more of the character in the future.

Constantine - Animated Series Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3X19gYJtCA
Legends Of Tomorrow Spoilers: http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/dcs-legends-of-tomorrow/news/a840400/constantine-chain-smoking-bisexual-dc-legends-of-tomorrow/

Constantine will air on CWSeed in 2018 as will his appearances on Legends Of Tomorrow.

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x01: "Aruba-Con"

Written by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim
Directed by Rob Seidenglanz

Ray: "You're gonna steal the Waverider?"
Sara: "We're gonna fix our mistakes."

And we're back. Picking up from where things went all a bit The Wedding Of River Song, the Legends find themselves in a messy 2017 but they don't have much time to dwell on it because Rip just set up a new group of helpers called the Time Bureau in order to fix the mess Sara and company somewhat created.

The Time Bureau are just like the Legends, except they wear suits and are mostly humour defunct but they're not quite as good at fixing things as Rip would have anyone else believe as this episode also demonstrated. With the exception of the rather uptight Agent Sharpe, the rest of the Bureau are mostly background men doing and saying little of consequence. Sharpe on the other hand made her disapproval of the Legends known while also potentially being into Sara if rumours are anything to go by.

Of course with what I assumed was going to be the main plot somewhat resolved in the first two minutes, Rip effectively broke up the Legends and sent them on their separate ways. Nate and Amaya broke up as the latter went back to Zambesi and the former became a hero in Central City. Then there was Ray working on some holistic app with an annoying wonder kid while Sara worked in a store in Star City with an irritating boss, Stein got to learn he was going to be a grandfather, Jax dropped out of college and Mick actually got his vacation in Aruba with a hitch of course.

The hitch being Julius Caesar whom Mick managed to apprehend before the Time Bureau somewhat botched things up and Sara rebelled by reclaiming the Waverider, assembling her team and trying to send Caesar back to his own time and it would've gone pretty well if Nate hadn't blundered things but then the episode would've lost a few minutes.

Simon Merrills did a great job as the leader of Rome and I really enjoyed his scene with both Mick and Sara throughout the episode. I also liked the team up of Sara and Sharpe fighting Caesar's men as much as I had enjoyed Jax's rather weak impersonation of Ares as well. Of course with Caesar being sent back to his own time, memories erased and both Rip and Sharpe holding different views about the Legends, the episode also dropped an important clanger on us - Mallus.

Although this season is giving a resurrected Damien Darkh, his daughter Eleanor and Amaya's villainous granddaughter, Kuasa in later episodes this season, it seems that Mallus will be the main antagonist this season. However, they're also going to be a threat that we're going to be waiting to see until the second half of the season but I'll enjoy hearing more about the character until they make their way onto the show.

- Rip is now a recurring character this season and it seems that we'll be losing Stein while also gaining Zari as the season plays out.
- Kid Flash was working with Nate in this episode and we got some Felicity shade from Ray's boss as well.
- It seems this season will have eighteen episodes, which is a good thing.
- Chronology: Mostly 2017 but there was also trips to 49BC and 1942 Zambesi. It's also been five years since Rip last saw the gang.

A fun opening episode. Aruba-Con set up a lot of potentially exciting prospects while also hinting at some serious dynamic shifts at the same time. I've missed how utterly bonkers this series can be and this episode served as a perfect reminder of how that continuously works in it's favour. Welcome back, Legends. You guys might screw up time but you're a lot more fun than Rip's new project.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Mid-Western Assassin

Written by Todd Kubrak
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Sally (to Ally, re Kai): "He needs to be stopped."

Keeping with bringing in some past players in one-off guest roles, this week was the turn of Mare Winningham to pop up in the series as an unfortunately short lived antagonist to Kai. Sally Keffler had everything on paper to really bring Kai's cult to an end, so of course she had to die horribly but if we're lucky then perhaps Winningham will be back next season in a bigger role.

Here though, Sally directly challenged Kai's manipulation of people's growing fears and decided to run against him and if that wasn't enough of a potential threat to him, there was also the fact that she didn't even question Ally's claims about Kai having his own cult of murderers in the mix but unfortunately when the chips were down, Ally was still rather useless to have around.

First of all, she hid in the bathroom while Kai and his gang arranged for Sally to be killed and make it look like a suicide. I liked that Sally openly defied Kai and had his number before she was murdered but her death was one of two victories for Kai in this episode.

The other one came courtesy of Meadow, who was actually playing a long con with Ally. Her devotion to Kai led her to getting Ally to rescue her from Harrison and Jack while at the same time telling Ally everything about the cult and taking some temporary sanctuary at Rudy's office before a public event lead to a shooting of Kai, Meadow's suicide and Ally being arrested.

In terms of long cons, it seemed a little obvious in retrospect as Kai seemed a little too adept at winning over Meadow's resistance but it played out rather well, even if Ally was a little too suckered into things. Then again, along with Ally's gullibility, this episode also really went to town on how much Ivy actually hates her wife. Maybe not enough to kill her but definitely enough to gaslight the hell out of her as she confessed to Kai that her inability to give birth drove a wedge between the two of them.

I do like that there's some conflict with Ivy but the way in which she's driven Ally to the brink of insanity and the fact that she wants to take Oz off her doesn't do a lot to make me sympathise with her either. On the other hand, with Ally now in the know and hopefully not confined to prison for too long, I am hoping she comes out stronger now.

- This episode was edited in light of the recent tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. I still thought the scenes were pretty effective though.
- Jack is literally the only cult member whose backstory we know nothing about. I assume we will soon though. Kai also offered Winter to Ivy.
- Both Sally and Ally likened Kai to Charles Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones etc and we all know by now we'll be seeing Evan Peters playing those roles in future episodes.
- Chronology: April 2017 but also November/December 2016 flashbacks and a flashback to Oz's birth as well.

An absolutely brilliant episode. Mid-Western Assassin might have been obvious in the way it played out Ally's downfall but it was fantastically done with some genuinely gripping moments as Kai just showed the lengths he really will go to get what he wants. As for next week's episode, there's one guest star I'm looking forward to and another I'm really not but hopefully the upward swing with this season continues though.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x02: "Full Circle"

Written by Craig Brewer & Eric Haywood
Directed by Craig Brewer

Lucious (to Claudia): "You're the only one I can trust."

And that statement is not a good thing. As we've suspected, Claudia is not going to be a good influence for Lucious and her manipulation of him certainly came out in this episode, especially as the end scene meant that she got her claws into Lucious pretty good.

I actually don't mind Claudia as a baddie though I'm not sure how long she actually can have Lucious on side, especially with Cookie back living in the house but she certainly played a role in Leah being taken out of the mix. Of course Cookie was the main factor as Leah unwisely confessed her murder of Tariq to her, which even surprised me.

The upside of things is that Leah got sent away and Anika with a new hairdo got released from prison, although that had more to do with her using Bunkie's murder to get Cookie and Thirsty to spring her out of jail rather than Leah's own confession. Going by the trailer for the next episode, it does look like we're going to have an Anika vs. Hakeem/Tiana fight for Bella though before Diana also gets involved with things.

Going back to Lucious though - the episode confirmed that he's not faking his memory loss. A scene with Uncle Eddie (Forrest Whitaker) proved that his memory loss is genuine. Speaking of Eddie, he's an interesting new character from Lucious's past that the episode added into the mix and I thought Whitaker played off well with both Lucious and Cookie here too, so I'm interested in seeing more of him.

Another new interest character also added into the episode was Detective Pamela Rose. Andre nearly had sex with her in a bathroom at a bar he was and then later it was revealed who she was. With Nessa clearly out of the picture, it looks like Pamela will be both a love interest and a potential antagonist for Andre this season.

As for the rest of the episode, there was a subplot where Jamal and Becky clashed over a song and the latter ended up giving it to Tory. To be honest, I was on Becky's side with this one as I think Jamal came across pretty unprofessional throughout the whole thing. On the plus side, I did like the singing session with Jamal and Warren when they were on their own though.

- Cookie's face is in the opening credits. I meant to point that out in my previous review.
- We never did learn the movie that Jamal was doing a song for, other than the mention of a hero's journey.
- Standout music: Both Jamal and Tory's take on Appreciated and Hakeem's She's A Monster.
- Chronology: Five months since the previous season finale as emphasised by how much time Anika has been in prison before her release.

Full Circle (not sure what came full circle here to be honest) was a little stronger than the opening episode. Some interesting new characters with Eddie and Pamela added into the mix and nice character bits as well. Too bad the ratings aren't as great for a season that's really promising so far.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, October 07, 2017

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 4x02: "I'm Not Her"

Written by Maya Goldsmith
Directed by Paris Barclay

Annalise (to Isaac, re Jasmine): "It was my first case back and I won it. That's why I wanted to tell you about it because it felt good."

Well, this was a good one. Not particularly subtle in it's white privilege commentary but seeing as this is a show that can actually pull off that social commentary with conviction, I'm more than okay with it to an extent as both Connor and Asher check their privilege and Annalise represents an old friend this week.

I really liked Jasmine back in the latter half of Season 3 and I'm glad she was brought back for this episode. Her scenes with Annalise were a delight as both L. Scott Caldwell and Viola Davis played off each other brilliantly in this one. I'll admit that Jasmine's backstory was somewhat cliched (drug addict, prostitute, etc) but it was still effectively done.

Not only did it help Annalise get her lawyer mojo back in the court room but it also helped with her therapy session with Isaac this week. I'm not surprised there was some initial conflict with the two and I'm still not sure of Isaac's motives either but I did love seeing Annalise talk about her own past history with Sam though when she actually opened up to Isaac.

Speaking of Isaac, we went into the flashforward again as Frank tried to comfort Laurel and learned that not only is the latter's baby missing but so is Annalise. Of course when we didn't have Isaac on the phone demanding Annalise to answer him, we also had Bonnie finding a lot of blood on the elevator of Annalise's apartment block as well. That certainly escalated quickly.

Keeping with Laurel for a bit - this week she vented some more at Connor before eventually deciding to forgive him over Wes while at the same time, getting Michaela to play spy for her as the latter got hired (along with Simon) in the same law firm that represents Laurel's father. I did like that Laurel told Michaela about her theory of her father killing Wes too but is he responsble for her baby and Annalise being missing though?

As for the rest of the episode - both Connor and Asher couldn't get into law firms and seemed to be in a funk themselves. The former didn't want to be a lawyer for a bit while the latter allowed himself to get easily wound up by Simon, which led to Michaela wonderfully decimating Simon in the process. As for Bonnie, Frank and Nate - two of them got a bit closer while one of them continued to help out Annalise with her accepting their help. None of them though seem to be able to function with Annalise to a point.

- Control Oli Delete - props to Oliver setting up his own tech firm but I'm not sure about that title though for a company.
- We learned that Connor's dad was a law during that job fair the Keating 4 and Simon attended this week.
- Laurel seems to be permanently holed in Wes's apartment right now.
- Chronology: Two weeks since I'm Going Away.

Another solid episode. I liked a lot of what I'm Not Her set out to do and the mystery is interesting enough this season but will it be as compelling as last year's one though? Some great character moments throughout this one as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, October 06, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x03: "They Who Hide Behind Masks"

Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
Directed by Mark Tonderai

Sofia (to Gordon): "You came looking for a gangster. That's exactly what you found."

Ah yes, our second new regular finally made her debut this week. With Carmine Falcone apparently on the way out (he's dying of an unspecified disease), Gordon's attempts of getting a gangster to sort out the Penguin's reign in Gotham now rests in the hands of the previously unmentioned Sofia Falcone, played by Teen Wolf's Crystal Reed.

Anyone who has read a certain comic would know that Sofia is something of a psychopath and in spite of her attempts of buttering Jim up during his visit in Miami, I'm hoping that the show plays on this aspect of her character because I really don't want her just wheeled out as another love interest for Jimbo while being easily outsmarted by Oswald as well. I think the character should be able to do a little better on both fronts, right?

Of course while Jim was sunning himself in Miami for most of this episode, Bruce himself was trying to get a hold of an item that Oswald planned to auction off. His first two attempts while playing proto-Batman and undercover working class boy didn't pan out but playing the role of billionaire brat certainly did.

I have to admit it was funny seeing Bruce act like an obnoxious overspending brat who got on Barbara's nerves during the auction of a rather nifty looking knife and even funnier that Oswald seemed to take pleasure in getting one up on Babs too while he was at it. I really loved the little passive aggressive scenes between Babs and Oswald prior to the auction in this episode.

As for Barbara, well the episode saw her putting Selina through her paces, challenging both Oswald and Bruce and we got the reveal of Ras using his Lazarus Pit to bring her back to life, which didn't shock me. Their team up was long spoiled but them actually hooking up though at the end was a little unexpected though. I'm not sure how I feel about that one yet to be honest.

Meanwhile and somewhat a little unexpected but Edward got thawed out earlier than I thought he would. Not by an important character but a rather annoying sycophant fangirl named Myrtle who tried to jog Eddie's memories only to get whacked by her crush and then shot by Zsasz. Having Nygma back but without his riddles is a good move that should make for a few interesting episodes until he gets his mojo back.

- I'm trying to think if this is the first time since Fish's island adventures have we really properly left the city.
- We got introduced to a new female detective at the end of the episode. I really hope the show utilises the character and don't hastily kill her off.
- Absent this week: Ivy, Butch, Tabitha, Lucius and Leslie.
- Chronology: Five months since the events of Heavydirtysoul and we had a Ras origin flashback to 125 AD Saudi Arabia at the start of the episode.

A strong enough episode. They Who Hide Behind Masks gave us a nice taster of mini-Batman and mini-Catwoman getting caught in each other's cross hairs, provided a decent information dump on Barbara and Ras while nicely introducing Sofia and thawing out Nygma. There's not really much I can fault with the episode as a whole.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, October 05, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Holes

Written by Crystal Liu
Directed by Maggie Kiley

Meadow: "It’s a cult, Ally. It’s a sick cult. And everyone’s in it. The police. My husband. Your babysitter. Your wife.”

And if you're the weak link of the cult, you are basically gone from it. Am I surprised that Meadow emerged as one of two weak links in this cult? Nope but I am a little sad to lose her even if she did try to do the right thing and actually warn Ally about who exactly is involved in the cult itself before she was inevitably killed off screen.

The cult members themselves - last week revealed Kai's group to be Harrison, Meadow, Beverly and Gary. This week we can add Winter, Ivy, Jack (the detective guy) and RJ as we did a brief flashback to the couple that got buried alive while in the present day they banded together to murder anchorman Bob after the latter fired Beverly and the gang realised they needed to up the ante in order to create more terror in the community.

Bob's death was grisly but not really. Yeah, he got bound and gagged and had Beverly finish him off with an axe to the head but what made it grisly was the gimp that he had on hooks prior to his death and the poor latter getting killed as well. Tellingly, it was both RJ and Ivy's reactions that ended up putting the both of them in the firing line with Kai this week.

In Ivy's case, she was forced to demonstrate her loyalty in a rather brutal fashion as RJ was designated the weakest link and was subsequently killed by the gang with  nail gun to the head. I'd mourn RJ's death but the show did very little to develop him as a character but still, what a horrible way to go though.

I do find it interesting that dissent has happened so early in Kai's cult and I can see both Ivy and Beverly posing problems for Kai as the season progresses. Ivy herself seems unsure about the cult in spite of her growing hatred of Ally and bonding with Winter while Beverly was able to cut through Kai's bullshit and get him to admit to something real. That in itself means that Beverly may be the one to usurp him if she's got the mind to.

The real thing being the deaths of Kai and Winter's parents back in 2014. The murder/suicide was done well enough but the nice shocker was having Rudy revealed into being Kai and Winter's brother and covering up the parents death. I'm not sure Rudy himself is a part of the cult but he's definitely passing information that Kai has been using for his own murderous intentions, that seems to be clear.

As for Ally - a little really has gone a long way with the character. Last week, she was better written because we were seeing her in pre-Election flashbacks and this week, despite her weepy moments is showing some improvement as a character. I felt bad for her this week but I'm hoping that Meadow's warning will finally charge into action as well.

- The gimp and the blood play slave that Bob had in his attic even surprised me. Easily the worst death of the episode to be honest. Bob got off lightly compared to his slave and RJ.
- Rudy seems to love Kai but hates Winter. We definitely need a scene with the three of them together very soon.
- The clowns are three penises (Kai), Pentagram (Beverly), Elephant head (Ivy), Ballgag (Meadow), Holes (Harrison), Brains (Jack), Jigsaw (Winter) and Blond one (RJ).
- Chronology: It seems a couple of weeks have passed since Neighbours From Hell but we've also had flashbacks to 2014 and September 2016 in this one.

Well, this one was a doozy. Holes definitely could go down as one of the show's most violent of episodes (and there's a fair amount of competition there) but gruesome moments to one side, the season is finally progressing and it's so much better now with less focus on Ally and more on the cult itself. Am I surprised that Ivy is a member though? Not really but at least there's some conflict with her.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x01: "Noble Memory"

Written by Brett Mahoney
Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Jamal (singing): "Yesterday I had a dream we were family. I woke up and you weren't next to me."

Sorry for the delay but with so many shows back on at the moment, I've only just caught up with the season premiere of Empire and to be fair, I really enjoyed this one. It's not the show at it's classic but it certainly had it's moments.

Last time we saw Lucious, he saved Cookie from a car explosion and lost his memories. Fast forward a few months later and it's not just his memories he's lost but also a leg. I have to admit to be genuinely surprised that the show went there but it's an interesting move nonetheless. However the focus was more on Lucious's memory loss and Empire's 20th anniversary for the Lyons this week.

Seeing the softer Lucious and his interactions with Cookie, Jamal, Hakeem and Andre was interesting, especially when he got visibly upset over more negative memories of his past (like not crediting Cookie for a particular song) creeping into the mix and the behind the scenes at the 20th anniversary for the Empire was handled well enough as well.

It's hard to tell if Lucious is genuinely unable to remember everything or is faking it to sniff out who nearly killed but either way, along with the quiet scheming of his nurse Claudia, I am finding this storyline great. Demi Moore in particular is bringing in a nice subtlety as a possible antagonist, compared to Diana being more blatantly soap opera villain this season.

Diana popped up in enough scenes to remind Hakeem that she's watching him while warning Warren to up his game with Jamal. I'm still somewhat enjoying Diana as a baddie but I do wonder if she can be sustained beyond the first half of this season. As for Jamal and Warren, despite the deception, there might be some potential with those two. Either that or I am being far too optimistic.

As for Andre, he was largely on edge as Shyne took out one loose end to finish up the episode. Either way, it doesn't seem like their great big scheme has actually worked out well for either one of them at this rate. It was also the least interesting aspect of the episode. I'm just bored of Shyne and I'm really hoping we lose him early this season as well.

- Bit of a crossover with Lee Daniels other musical series, Star as Queen Latifah's Carlotta appeared at the start of the episode and mentioned her girl group. Jamal popped up in their show.
- Both Warren and Tory have been upgraded to regulars this season. Anika and Leah also sat this episode out.
- Standout music: Love Me, the song that Cookie wrote and Jamal and Hakeem performed at the anniversary party.
- Chronology: Five months since Toil & Trouble Part 2.

Noble Memory kicks off the latest season off with an engaging starter. It's not the most explosive opening episode we've had but it's definitely an engaging one with lots of nice character moments and great music along with the earlier timeslot that doesn't seem to have effected the writing for the series either.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 30, 2017

My Review of How To Get Away With Murder's 4x01: "I'm Going Away"

Written by Peter Nowalk
Directed by Jet Wilkinson

Annalise (to Keating 4): "We don’t need each other anymore. So it’s time we went our separate ways."

This felt oddly quiet for a season premiere. I mean, don't get me wrong, there was certainly a lot going on in the episode itself but compared to the more booming openers we've had in the previous seasons, this felt more subdued until the main mystery presented itself in the last minute.

The mystery itself - who's taken Laurel's baby? Right now, the obvious answer would be either the Mahoneys or Laurel's father herself. She's definitely convinced that the latter had something to do with Wes's death and she also lied to him about having an abortion but saying that as well, it's also pretty obvious that we're not done with the Mahoneys either, so the next eight episodes are probably going to be throwing a lot at us before we get the answer.

It was interesting though that the two people who came to Laurel's aid as she realised her baby was missing was both Frank and Dr Isaac (Jimmy Smits) - the latter whom is also Annalise's therapist in the current day but appeared in the flashforward. Could he also have a role in the disappearance? I'm intrigued that Isaac will now factor into both Annalise and Laurel's storylines this season.

As for Annalise, this was definitely a challenging episode for her. On one hand while the threat of being disbarred on a permanent basis lingered throughout the episode, it was resolved rather quickly and then resulted in Annalise writing her Keating 4 and Bonnie recommendation letters as she let them all go, much to all of their anger except for Connor.

The biggest challenge in the episode though was Annalise, her sister and father handling Ophelia's  Alzheimer's and it was certainly the strongest and hard hitting parts of the episode. Some beautiful performances from both Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson made the scenes tough to watch but utterly absorbing nonetheless. I do sadly have a feeling that the next time we see Ophelia though, it will be with her dying.

As for the Keating 4 themselves - Michaela and Asher seem to be in a rather happy place when the latter wasn't ranting about Annalise abandoning them while Laurel was in a darker place and that was before the flash forward. Connor and Oliver didn't actually get engaged but we did get a nice commentary on straight girls fetishizing gay men (pay attention, Tumblr) and they're also in a happy place while Bonnie went to work for Denver and Frank tried to get an office space in his quest to redeem himself with Annalise.

- Viola Davis's real life husband appeared in this episode as a near conquest for Annalise named Desmond. Annalise also used Bonnie as pseudonym.
- Aside from Alfred Enoch (Wes) no longer credited, there's no dramatic changes to the cast for this season.
- The ratings were less than four million for this episode, which is not a good sign.
- Chronology: About a month since Wes left off.

I'm Going Away wasn't the strongest opening episode we've had but it was definitely a good one, especially for the family scenes and setting up the main mystery. I'm not sure Annalise will be able to stay away from her former team for long though and to be honest, I wouldn't want her to either.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, September 29, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x02: "The Fear Reaper"

Written by Danny Cannon
Directed by Louis Shaw Milito

Jonathan: "How did you do it? How did you defeat the toxin, it's impossible?"
Gordon: "I overcame my fear."

I just realised that I either should've rewatched Batman Begins or some of the Scarecrow episodes of Batman: The Animated Series before watching this episode. Not that it would've impacted my review or anything but more for funsies than anything else. As for this episode, it certainly had enough in it's favour but the main plot seemed a little underdeveloped.

I was really looking forward to seeing the Scarecrow wreak some proper havoc after the brilliant transformation Jonathan made at the end of last week and while there was some great moments during his invasion into Arkham, I kind of felt his overall reign of terror was cut a little too short by Gordon 'overcoming' his fears so quickly.

I guess like Bruce, Jonathan is in the early stages of his 'career' so it makes sense that his toxins aren't going to be completely effective as of yet and that water turned out to be a good way to combat them. On the other hand, Jonathan did manage to get his own back on that awful warden from last week while Gordon also got to outsmart Oswald and get over his demons about ruining Leslie's life, though I felt that latter bit had been dealt with last season. Overall, I liked the Scarecrow plot but wished it had been a little better fleshed out.

Speaking of Oswald, he really does need to get a clue at times too. He underestimated Gordon and got himself played. He's aware that a returned Barbara has a backer and continued to intimidate her and his treatment of Ivy has now seen the latter down some deadly toxins of her own so her own transformation into Poison Ivy is virtually complete. Also with Nygma's inevitable thawing out, Oswald is going to have more problems on his hands of his own doing soon enough, not to mention Gordon's game plan to get Falcone back into the mix.

Getting back to Ivy, I did feel a bit bad for her this week. Both Oswald and Tabitha treated her with disdain and while Selina and possibly Barbara seemed a bit sympathetic, neither one of them really stepped in to listen to her. Then again, with all the heavy handed hinting of this particular plot, all of them will probably be vying for Ivy's attention soon enough though.

As for Barbara, I liked that the episode didn't waste time in reintroducing her into the mix and I certainly liked the Sia-esque wig/hairdo she's rocking but her calmness seemed eerie to me. Both Oswald and Tabitha had no problem in threatening her throughout and Babs just took it with little reaction. That said, given that the episode gave no details as to how she's still breathing and given her silence over her backer, you don't have to be a genius to realise who's funding Babs's weapons for hire gig that Selina and Tabitha decided to join.

As for Bruce, well he didn't get hit with the fear toxin (maybe next time) but he was making a fair amount of mistakes in this episode and putting himself into repeated danger. I did love that Lucius saw through Alfred's rock climbing excuse and gave Bruce his own proto Bat suit, which to be honest, looked pretty great to be honest. This plot shouldn't work but it actually is for now.

- Aside from the hallucination, Leslie is still not back in the show and Tabitha is unnerved by Barbara being around, just wait until she catches up with Butch again.
- Zsasz really is getting the funny lines this season but I am hoping they delve a little further into him than that as well.
- Absences this week included Butch, Nygma and Ras. Sofia will be making her debut in next week's episode though along with Selina's proto-Catwoman look.
- Chronology: From where Pax Penguina more or less left off.

Not quite as good as the opening and my hatred for Oswald/Ivy's deteriorated friendship to one side, I did like enough of The Fear Reaper though. Babs's return was nicely enough, Crane vs. Gordon worked a treat, Bruce and Ivy embracing their destinies were highlights too but I do want to see more of Ras and soon too.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - 11/9

Written by John J. Gray
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Kai (to Harrison): "To live is to suffer."

Holy shit, we finally hit the jackpot! One day I will probably do a list of some of the best episodes of American Horror Story and guaranteed, this episode will be somewhere on the list because it's one of those episodes that truly captured how incredible the show can be when it cuts through the bullshit and gets to the actual goal of the season itself.

Eschewing Ally and her hysteria for one week, the focus was more on Kai and his formation of a cult that we have yet to properly see engage in action. I sort of get the feeling that the clowns may be part of something else but I could be wrong with that too. On the other hand, the way Kai manipulated certain people and situations was nothing short of disturbing and breathtaking in one go.

First of all, there was Harrison who we got to see as a personal trainer at the gym bonding with Kai while at the same time being ritually humiliated by his boss Vinny into cleaning the showers after guys had masturbated in them. Now, Harrison could've just quit his job and worked somewhere but between Meadow making him homeless and Kai truly getting into his head, Vinny soon ended up a dead body that Harrison had to hack away.

I kind of got the impression that while Kai sought out Harrison, Meadow was somewhat collateral damage along the way. Kai did praise her talent for drawing clown masks and the like but at the same time, it didn't seem like Kai was as interested in getting Meadow on side as he was with Harrison and two other members this week.

The second member pulled into Kai's craziness was reporter Beverly Hope. I loved Adina Porter last season and I'm really glad they got her back this year because she's arguably going to be even better. We got see Beverly's breakdown over those "grab them by the pussy" morons ruining her segments (I had no problem with her beating the shit out of one of them) while at the same time having to deal with anchorman Bob's (Dermot Mulroney) misogyny and up and coming reporter Serina Belinda (Emma Roberts) also taking delight in undermining her at every turn.

It's no wonder then that Beverly talked to Kai about her rage and how he was able to use it to hook her into his way of thinking. That scene with them was particularly chilling while Serina herself soon came afoul to a bunch of stab happy clowns in broad daylight. On the plus side, at least the adorable puppy she was holding at the time survived.

Then there was Gary Longstreet himself. Briefly seen in the first episode, we got to see a rather unpleasant side to Gary at a protest where he literally grabbed Ivy and Winter ended up being her knight in shining armor. Putting aside that Winter and Ivy have prior history with each other before the Election, there was also the fact that they kidnapped Gary and Kai manipulated the latter in cutting his own hand off in order to go and vote.

As for Ally, the decision to relegate her to a handful of scenes this week was for the best. Not only did it give Evan Peters the moment to truly shine as Kai while at the same time fleshing out Harrison, Meadow, Beverly and Gary as characters along with that Winter/Ivy reveal but the bits we saw of Ally were actually of her at her most engaging. The fact that she openly challenged the idea of Hillary being entitled to be president was a nice move along with her Trump comments pre-Election mirroring my own. Can we please have this Ally for the rest of the season?

- Another new character to watch out for was James Morosini's cameraman, RJ. He must be important as they gave him a character poster.
- Kai spun lines about being a computer programmer and being in the army during his recruitment scenes with Harrison and Beverly. Meadow is also possibly the ball gag clown.
- We got to see who various characters voted except for Rudy for some reason.
- Chronology: November and December 2016, both pre/during/post Election Night.

11/9 was easily the best episode we've had this season and hopefully it's the start of an upward swing for this current season. The fact that it was largely flashback heavy worked in it's favour and again, relegating Ally to a handful of scenes worked in it's favour but it's time to see what the cult are really up to now.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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.

Friday, September 08, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Election Night

Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Kai (to Mr Chang): "I said there is nothing more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man."

Okay, I've had some mixed feelings on this upcoming season to be honest. On one hand, I'm surprised it's taken the show until it's seventh season to actually do a season involving cults but on the other hand, I cannot be the only one who has become fatigued by Trump infecting the media.

I hate the guy as much as the next person and I certainly think he shouldn't be president either but sifting through this first episode alone as our lead female character of the piece Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) and her wife, Ivy (Alison Pill) watched the results of the orangey one's victory back in November and despite sympathizing with Ally's reaction, I also found it as cringe inducing as Kai Anderson's (Evan Peters) more elated reaction to proceedings.

Seeing the contrasting reactions would've been more interesting had I not seen the same thing over social media for the last ten months, so I kind of feel like we've already done this even before the episode was ten minutes into proceedings already. What we didn't see were the more neutral or muted reactions to the election but with ten episodes left to go, it's likely we will at some point.

Trump becoming president however is a part of this season's narrative and also motivating both Ally and Kai's actions in this one and for the season. Ally seems to be driven by fear, mainly of clowns as she freaks out when she catches her son, Ozzie reading a Twisty The Clown comic book while imagining clowns everywhere she goes, including one volatile moment in the supermarket, much to Ivy's own frustrations.

Kai on the other hand, when he wasn't taking pleasure in forcing his sister, Winter (Billie Lourd) in making some confessions and throwing coffee over Ally and Ivy also took the time to spread some racist rhetoric around town while also getting himself beaten up for a scheme that we should see the results fairly soon I bet.

As for the gross out moments of the moment, we did get to see Twisty murdering another couple in the comics while a group of clowns also broke into the Changs home and murdered them, which gave some justification for Ally's triggered fears of them. Then there was also Winter becoming Ozzie's babysitter and being all kinds of inappropriate by showing the kid gruesome videos online and gaslighting him in front of his concerned parents. Safe to say that Winter is just as unhinged as her 4Chan inspired sibling is to be honest.

- Other characters we saw in the episode briefly were Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono), Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) - Ally's therapist and Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes).
- Ally and Ivy run a restaurant called The Butchery On Main. This season is also set in Michigan. I also found it interesting that Ally didn't actually vote Clinton either. Nice enough twist there.
- Is Twisty going to be kept to comics or will he actually surface in the present day?
- Chronology: November 2016 before swiftly moving into early 2017 it seems.

Election Night wasn't the strongest opening episode we've had and while the commentary is timely, it has been so prevalent on social media that I think part of it's impact didn't quite land as it should have done. Still though, there were plenty of great moments in the episode and if we can move away from the Trump/Clinton bits and focus on the clowns that would be nice.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Titans - Cast Members For Upcoming DC Digital Series Announced

I've been waiting to do a blog on this one for a while and now seems like the right as three cast members have been announced for the upcoming DC Comics Digital Service series, Titans.

Brenton Thwaites, recently seen in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 has bagged the role of Dick Grayson. However the press release has started that he will be the future leader of the Titans, while also giving up life as a cop to resume his heroics. I got to admit I'm surprised with Thwaites's casting. I honestly thought if he were going to be involved in the DC universe, it would be on the big screen but this is an interesting development. As for the controversy with Thwaites casting, I can see both sides of the arguments but I'd rather give the guy a chance before writing him off though.

Meanwhile Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire. The actress who recently appeared in 24: Legacy will play the orange skinned alien and there has been some comments on her casting. Having not really seen her in action, I have no informed opinion but I'm sure Diop will be great as Starfire.

The last bit of casting for now is that Teagan Croft will be playing the role of Raven for the digital series. The upcoming series is being spearheaded by Arrow universe showrunner Greg Berlanti along with Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns and Sarah Schechter. I'll post more updates when Beast Boy and the rest of the series main players are cast.

Press Release: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/brenton-thwaites-star-greg-berlantis-dc-drama-titans-1034338

Titans will be released on DC Comics streaming services in 2018.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Defenders Assemble But Not Yet Though

Yup, this one is a bit of a Marvel/Netflix special in some ways as I completed two of their shows and started the other one though.

Game Of Thrones: The last three episodes of Season Seven certainly ramped up basically everything, didn't it? We had some welcome deaths (Littlefinger, you won't be missed), some shocks (Viseron being taken over by the Night King) and that melee with Jon, Daenerys and Cersei as the latter took her self preservation to a new level, which meant even isolating Jaime of all people. The reveal of Jon's heritage from last season got more expansion during the worst/most clickbait grabbing moment and with six episodes left before the end in 2019 (the current rumour for the eighth season to air), the final moments as the White Walkers make their biggest attack yet was a hell of a way to end an overall excellent penultimate season.

Iron Fist: The weakest of the Marvel/Netflix shows still, but I'll admit things did pick a little in the second half of the season. Adding both Bakuto and Davos into the mix livened up the interactions between Danny, Colleen and Claire as the Hand storyline took something of a brief pause in the finale while Ward and Joy both had to deal with the fallout of Harold's increasingly unhinged behaviour. While I do think there were times where Finn Jones struggled a bit in the role, I am hoping that between The Defenders (which I've just started) and this show's proposed second season the show gets a better handle on Danny. There's certainly potential for that.

Luke Cage: Like it's other Marvel series, this is a show that could do with better pacing but saying that, the second half was pretty solid stuff. I liked the Mariah/Shades team up after Cottonmouth was taken out of the picture along with Luke and Diamondback finally going head to head. The finale didn't feel quite like an event compared to other ones but it was a good way to end the series. I also have to give props to both Misty and Claire, both of whom got better as the series went along, so I'm looking forward to seeing more of them next season.

Midnight, Texas: I've been sticking with this show and while it's not gripping as True Blood was back in the day, it's still a lot of fun to watch. Focusing on characters like Lemuel, Olivia and Fiji certainly doesn't hurt the series as they're easily the three strongest of the bunch but there isn't anyone I actively dislike. Manfred and Creek's budding relationship isn't hugely compelling but it's nice enough and the mix of baddies like a Succubus and that biker gang does keep things moving along at a nice pace along with the arc hints here and there. Just five more episodes to go.

Orange Is The New Black: I've loved this season and given that the riot arc could've easily wore thin after a few episodes, I'm genuinely surprised that the writers managed to get a whole season's worth of a story out of it. Of course it had to come to an end but with the cliffhanger we've got, there's also the chance we might lose a character or two going into the show's sixth season. In terms of flashbacks, I quite enjoyed Piper and Alex's (even with the return of Larry) and their engagement was rather sweet. Next season should be very interesting.

The Defenders: Blitzing through both Luke Cage and Iron Fist in the last week meant getting to the first two episodes of this team up and so far, so good. I've loved seeing the various characters from each show interacting with one another and while we've only had half the gang interacting so far - Luke and Danny, Matt and Jessica, the build up has certainly been rather fun to see. As for Alexandra/Madame Gao/The Hand stuff - at least it's actually going somewhere now and with Elektra and Stick in the mix, I can imagine a lot of bad shit is about to go down in the remaining episodes of this crossover series.

- Ben Platt will be guesting in Will & Grace while Minnie Driver will also reprise her role as Lorraine in the upcoming season.
- Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose will be returning for Season 11 of The X Files.
- Lena Dunham will be playing Valerie Solanas in American Horror Story: Cult. Emma Roberts will be playing a newscaster named Serina Belinda for an episode. Angela Bassett will direct the ninth episode in the upcoming season.
- UK viewers will be able to see The Gifted on FOX from October.
- UK viewers also can see the first season of Star on 5* from this Thursday. It's also been rumoured that Empire will be moved there as well instead of E4 for it's upcoming fourth season.
- Jane The Virgin's fourth season will now be 17 episodes.
- Richard Flood will recur in Shameless's eighth season.
- Kevin Ryan will guest in Once Upon A Time's seventh season.
- Anna Diop and Teagan Croft have been cast as Starfire and Raven respectively for the upcoming live action Teen Titans TV series.
- Katee Sackhoff has a recurring in The Flash's fourth season as the villain, Blacksmith.