spreading the talent

Pick Of The Week

Review: Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter book series

f1afe703cd0f16a0cf4625681c306e9eThis review will be brief, but I finally had a chance to read Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter series.  I’ve been a fan of the movies for years, and of course watching the TV show Hannibal made me want to see how much was done according to the novels.  I chose this because the character in focus here is in my opinion one of the greatest villains ever created in fiction.  Here’s my brief thought on each book…

Hannibal Rising: This was the last one written in the series, but the first chronologically.  To me, I feel that Harris just rushed this one.  Yes, the background story and origin for why Hannibal is the way he is, feels complete… but there are points in the reading that had me going “wait, what the hell just happened?”  It was like some details were skipped and you wonder how the characters got where they were or what was happening just before.  As an overall story, I enjoyed it very much, but I’d never recommend the book… instead, I’d say to see the movie, because the film takes the best parts of it all and brings it to life.  Continuity error found as well… in the 3 books after this, it is a noted point that Hannibal has 6 fingers on one hand.  In Hannibal Rising I don’t recall this being mentioned once.

Red Dragon: Hannibal Lecter plays a small role in this book.  The movie version gave him a slightly larger role, but the book is actually better.  These events take place when Lecter is already captured and institutionalized.  He helps Special Agent Will Graham and the FBI to take down a serial killer named Francis Dolarhyde (aka the “Tooth Fairy”).  Lecter also warns Dolarhyde that they are onto him, so Hannibal plays both sides.  We are given hints at the past (which the tv series Hannibal really brings to life in detail), but we are also left at the end with a severely disfigured Will Graham.  In fact, the book ending was far superior to the movie ending, which the film captured well the book until this point.  I actually dislike the movie and prefer what was done in the book over this.  Of the four novels I’d place this book on an even field with Silence Of the Lambs.

The Silence Of The Lambs: The movie is really what sparked interest in this series, and it almost is dead on with what is in the book.  In other words, if you’ve seen the movie, you really don’t have to read the novel because other than the 6 finger issue on Hannibal’s hand, there is not much different.  This is an amazing psychological thriller that makes you almost cheer for the man who helps Clarice Starling to track down Jame Gum (aka Buffalo Bill).  I must say too that Buffalo Bill and The Tooth Fairy from the prior book, are more disturbing to me than Hannibal the Cannibal.  They are just mentally disturbed people while Hannibal is a clear thinking intelligent psychopath.

Hannibal: I’ll first say this.  The MAIN reason I read these books other than what I mentioned above was because It all ends here, and after watching the movies I was downright angry.  I have been hoping for a movie sequel to Hannibal for years but we wont probably ever get it.  I hated the ending to that movie because we never get to see what happens to Hannibal Lecter.  I hoped that the book would shed some light upon this.  Now overall, this was my favorite book… until the end.  You know that scene in the movie where Hannibal is feeding Ray Liotta’s character his own brain?  It’s in here, BUT from this scene on the book differs immensely.  I actually don’t know what is worse… the movie ending or the book ending.  In the book, Clarice falls for Hannibal, and ends up “dining” with him willingly.  Even with the two of them “riding off into the sunset” so to speak, I’m still left with a WTF feeling.  What happened to them?  Another story could be done here, and it should be.  If we are going to get Hannibal Rising to originate his beginnings, then why not have closure?  It’s almost like a tv series that you get bought into and then they cancel it with no real ending.  Sigh.  Plus, even though it is hinted at, I really want to know what happened to Doctor Chilton.

As a whole series I’d rate it at a high 7 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  Individually they stand strong, but work better together.  I just wish that a followup would close it all out.  What do you think?  Have you read these novels?  If not, what did you think of the movies/tv series?  Feel free to comment.


Review and discussion: Guardians Of The Galaxy

GOTG-posterIf you don’t want to be spoiled as to certain plot points, then I recommend skipping to the last paragraph to get my overall spoilerfree review.  Otherwise, from here on out the discussion will be about major points in the movie, and I invite those who have seen it to comment below and add to the discussion.

I was always aware of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, but never followed the characters or plots until the relaunch last year, where I picked up trade paperback to catch up and familiarize myself with them.  One of the taglines for this movie has been “The Star Wars for the current generation”.  I have to agree, but at the same time this movie is something that is very new and hasn’t been done before as a whole.  Sure, there are elements rehashed here and there, but if you want something fresh and unique, then stop reading now and go see it if you haven’t.  All happiness aside, I do have a few complaints about elements in the movie, so I’ll do a breakdown of the good and not so good (notice I didn’t say bad), and speculate on a few things to come.

The Plot was intelligently written, with plenty of action, humor and suspense.  The effects were visually stunning (though I can’t imagine seeing this in 3D.)  In regular format this was breathtaking but the fights (especially with Drax involved) were shaky camera at times, and the spinning spacecrafts in the aerial battles were dizzying at times.  I’m not saying this was bad, because it made you feel as if you were a part of it, but the problem with this is that for some people it is a turn off.  Myself included if I’m trying to follow whats going on screen.  In 2D it is great, but I think I’d puke in 3D.

The soundtrack was just plain awesome.  I loved all the songs in there (I’m partially biased because I grew up listening to a lot of those), and it worked, also setting up a new similar soundtrack for the next movie.  The Easter Eggs and tying into the existing Marvel Comics movie universe were fanboy/girlgasmic.  I’ll get into that in my character breakdown, which begins now:

Peter Quill/Starlord: Chris Pratt plays the sarcastic, egotistical Quill very well.  He brings the perfect amalgamation of Captain James T Kirk, Indiana Jones & in his own words “Marty McFly” together.  The movie shows his evolution from a shy kid to what will become a decent leader.  I personally could have done without the over the top cheesy dance sequence in the beginning.  After Spiderman 3 I could do nothing but put my head in my hands when I saw this happening at the beginning.  Somehow, I didn’t mind it as much during the final faceoff with Ronan.

Gamora: Even with prosthetic facial enhancements and green skin, Zoe Saldana is still appealing to the eye.  Aside from her beauty though, she kicked some major ass, just as you would expect from the adopted daughter of Thanos.  I even enjoyed the little bit of tension between her and Starlord.  I just hope they don’t give into it too much in the future.  It’s nice to have that unresolved extra angle in there.

Drax The Destroyer: I’ll admit that when I heard Dave Bautista was going to be Drax, I shivered.  I didn’t want to see a wrestler whom I felt had little to no acting ability taking on a character like Drax (who has little to no personality).  Yeah, you see my problem there?  I was wrong.  Bautista nailed the part.  I actually wanted him to have more screen time.  My only problem with Drax in this movie was some of his lines in the beginning.  They seemed a bit too forced but this was a writing issue.  I know Drax speaks strangely, but the first few lines he delivered were sub par in dialogue.

Groot: While I held out hope that Vin Diesel would play a big baddie for Marvel at some point, his delivery of “I Am GROOT” was awesome each time it happened.  It wasn’t overdone, and Groot’s special effects looked amazing.  I am left wondering though if some of his abilities in the movie were indeed in the comics as well.  I’m not too familiar with the character other than I knew he could be planted to grow again once destroyed.  Speaking of which, the end of the movie, while unnecessary made me smile.  I really enjoyed watching baby Groot swinging to the music.

Rocket Raccoon: I wish we’d have had a little more background on Rocket himself, but his presence was welcome for every second.  I forgot Bradley Cooper was doing his voice because he seemed like his own little furry personality.  A little bit selfish, a little bit of a dick, and just all around rabid feistiness made his part of the team the highlight.

Ronan The Accuser: I remember this villain from many Fantastic Four comics, and knew how menacing and deadly he could be.  My problem in this movie wasn’t the portrayal of him.  I think Lee Pace did an excellent job.  The problem for me is that they are building up Thanos to be a massive badass (which he is), and the guardians plus an entire planet of Nova corps could barely beat Ronan.  So then how the hell will the universe be able to battle Thanos at this point?  I can’t imagine a movie big enough to do that.  With my faith in Marvel I will have to wait and see.  His presence proves that the body in Agents of SHIELD tv show was a Kree alien, so now with that cleared up we will have to wait.  I loved his look in GOG and the wise use of his hammer and abilities.  Even Drax couldn’t stand up to him and that was before Ronan used the infinity stone (gem).

Yondu and Nebula: Both of these characters played by Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan respecitvely added to the whole plot, and I’m glad that they will both be most likely playing a role in the sequel.  I really loved the space pirate feel that Yondu gave off, and Nebula’s battle with Gamora was something I could watch over and over just for the tactics alone.

The Nova Corps:  While I cannot stand John C Reilly, he surprisingly didn’t irritate the hell out of me in this movie.  I thought his presence would have dumbed it down, especially with his delivery in the trailers, but again I was proven wrong.  He was used well, and while I didn’t see him as a serious Nova Corps member, he was a welcome addition.  There was plenty of setup here with Glenn Close’s Nova Prime and the destruction of most of the city that a path has been paved to have the main Nova (Richard Rider) become a defender of earth in the sequel.  Especially with Yondu and Quill’s dad probably wanting to destroy the planet in the sequel.

The Collector: Benicio Del Toro’s role was smaller than I anticipated, but it was more than a glorified cameo.  In fact, his entire base of operations was full of cameos including: Slither, Howard The Duck, and Cosmo the Spacedog.  Oh yes and one of multiple references to Celestials.  I can’t wait til the dvd to pause and see what else is in there.  I understand that Adam Warlock’s coccoon (first seen in Thor 2 ending) was now open, leaving his presence open for the future.  The infinity stones (gems) were finally explained here.  I’ll touch on that in a few minutes.

Thanos: I’m not sold on the whole CGI thing, but Josh Brolin’s delivery and the life he brought to Thanos is downright frightening.  The fact that this could end up being the most powerful villain we’ve ever seen on screen is a scary thought, but one I’m anticipating greatly.

That being touched upon, what do we know and where can it go?  The infinity Gems.  Let’s see.  The Tesseract from Captain America and the Avengers movies was the Space Gem (now in the hands of Loki who also has the gauntlet used to contain the gems).  We know that now.  We also know that Malekith The Dark Elf was using the Aether to change the universe in his image and liking.  Hence the Reality Gem (In the hands of the Collector).  Ronan used the Power Gem in Guardians of the Galaxy to give him enhanced powers (in the Nova Corps safe).  Loki’s Staff in the Avengers had the Mind Gem in it.  This was not confirmed by Marvel, however they said that it could be.  It only makes sense, AND I can argue this with anyone and prove it if they want to debate it.  I’d invite the discussion actually.  Anyway, the Mind Gem is in the presence of Baron Von Strucker (we see this at the end of CAptain America 2.)  Now with there being six gems in all, that leaves the Soul Gem and the Time Gem.

I think one of these (most likely the soul Gem) will be used in the Doctor Strange movie.  It’s been confirmed for 2016 this movie will be an “acid trip” unlike any other movie.  Delving into magic and the soul will make this movie completely unique and it only makes sense to tie in this gem with whoever else will be a part of it.

As far as the Time Gem, I don’t want to speculate too much about Avengers Age Of Ultron, but if they do anything similar to the comic storyline of Age of Ultron, then Time Travel could be involved.  Did earth somehow get a hold of the Time gem to use?  Why do I say this?  In the little footage we have seen of this movie, there is a scene where everyone but Tony Stark is dead.  That’s what it appears to be.  Could he reverse time and change that or maybe Scarlet Witch will alter the probability that this is what happens.  Who knows.  The Antman movie is supposed to happen around the same time as well, so maybe Hank Pym will have had it in his lab and is studying it.  Only TIME will tell.  :)

There are also 5 unannounced films coming before 2019 by Marvel, and that is in addition to Captain America 3 and Guardians of The Galaxy 2.  One of these will obviously be Avengers 3.  Another I think would HAVE to be Black Panther.  Thor 3 is also in there as most likely.  So what about the last 2?  I’d like to see a female Ms. Marvel movie in there.  All of that should come before the last 2019 movie, which could be called “THE THANOS IMPERATIVE”.  It’d be a great long buildup to a part one movie.  This could literally be centered around Thanos gathering the gems.  It would be a part one and then for 2020 they could bring in part 2 “THE INFINITY WAR”.  Now…. the ONLY way that this can happen and even be thinkable as a way to defeat Thanos with his gems is to have everyone in existence team up.  No, we don’t need people like Hawkeye or even Captain America.  What we need is Thor, Hulk, Adam Warlock and Nova, Ms. Marvel, Doctor Strange, and a few others to go against Thanos.  Maybe even Loki who will want the power for himself will join in the attack against the Mad Titan (after all, Thanos will have to steal from him to get what he wants).  I even hold out hope that some of the rights to other characters will revert to Marvel, but who knows.

So what do you think?  After this long winded review and speculation, I have to give it a rating.  Originally I was going to give this movie a point lower, but BECAUSE of it’s originality and the ballsy move that Marvel made taking the chance on such a masterpiece, I’m going to give it 8 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  Please, comment and feel free to discuss your own speculations and feelings toward the movie.

 

 


Review: Marvel Universe Live On Tour

MARVELWhat do you get when you mix comic book characters with a circus, a motocross, and a martial arts tournament?  Marvel Universe Live.  This week sCrypt comics was able to attend the event here in Philadelphia.  The tour is currently hitting major cities across the United States, so check http://www.marveluniverselive.com for tickets and dates.  Okay, now let’s get down to the review.  I’ll avoid major spoilery material, as the plot to the show isn’t what I want to focus on, though I will touch on it.

Attending for sCrypt Comics was myself (Rick Pipito), co-founder and lead artist Dan Pipito, my 4 year old son and my 5 year old daughter.  When I say that this is a show for all ages, I’m not lying.  It is aimed at a younger audience, but has enough other fantastic elements that visually alone it is fun for anyone.

Sound Effects and Dialogue:  Okay, so some of the dialogue was cheesy bad, but not bad in a repulsive way.  Bad like in a comic book way, where certain things were done just to appease the audience.  Who doesn’t like a laugh?  Thor saying “It’s Hammer Time” was a bit much, but the campiness works as if it were a stage play.  The voices were prerecorded as the Lokicharacters acted the lines out (sort of in an exaggerated Power Rangers type of way).  The best part about the voices was that they literally sounded EXACTLY like the actors who voiced these characters in the 90s animated cartoons.  For any fan of those, and lets face it, who isn’t a fan, you will be quite pleased at the nostalgia it brings.  Sound effects wise, the lasers and explosions were as expected to be, and not hard to make perfect.  The soundtrack itself was also impressive, and JARVIS as the narrator to introduce the beginning of the show and after the intermission made a lot of sense.

Acting and choreography:  The acting was as mentioned above with an exaggerated movement of the characters speaking.  Although visually seeing this is somewhat distancing from real life, it has to be done to show who is the one doing the speaking.  I mean you can’t have a show like this and not; otherwise there would be dead space.  That being said, the acting isn’t what makes this show amazing.  I cannot express how exciting and action packed it Spideyis.  The fighting sequences were as if you were watching it on the silver screen, and while the punches and kicks didn’t literally connect with the other characters, the distance from the stage makes up for that.  Remember that scene in Ironman 2 when Black Widow kicks a dozen asses without batting an eyelash?  Yep… the actress playing Widow in this tour does those moves in the same manner.  Even the aerial fights (Green Goblin vs Spiderman) were well done.  What made my jaw drop was watching these stunt people drop a good fifteen to twenty feet after being “punched” off of balconies or catwalks.  There were no ropes in those sequences, so they freefell onto inflatable mats.  I can’t emphasize how much coordination this must take because one small misstep and they’d be splattered all over the floor.

Visual effects:  Right from the beginning we get Thor using his hammer to smash the Tesseract.  As he does, lightning comes down from above and the cube shatters outward in a dazzling display of particles.  From Ironman’s repulsor blasts, to Aldrich Killian’s fire body of extremis virus, to Spiderman’s webs, it was stunning and breathtaking.  The fight with the sinister six at the Statue of Liberty was especially hydraexciting because while there was a battle inside the head of the statue, there was more in the air outside, and the transition back and forth between the two scenes was seamless.  The highlight of the show was perhaps the Hulk element.  A green light focuses on Bruce Banner when he is getting angry, but when Hulk finally shows up he is a good ten feet tall.  The actor in this huge Hulk costume obviously walked on stilts but that was hidden by the design of the legs, and although his facial features couldn’t move, it was the sheer power you felt having him on the scene and destroying things, smashing and raging out.

Motorcycles and stunts:  Kudos to the man who is Spiderman.  He didn’t stay put for five minutes.  Most of his stage time was either from a high wire, swinging above or him doing flips on the ground, running up walls, and just being the best acrobat around.  Coordination and balance are both an understatement when it comes to him.  The motorcycle and vehicle rides were impressive with the space they had on stage, but what made me gasp was the unexpected cap bikebackflips and long jumps across “chasms”.  This part of the show alone could have stood by itself.

Stage:  The design of the stage, the shape of it, and its ever changing scenery leaves no room for complaining.  It worked well for every part of the show, and some of it made me wonder exactly how the hell they break down and set up after each city tour.  It’s a lot of moving parts.

Character usage and costumes:  While each character had an equal amount of show time, and looked great in their comic cloned costumes, there were some issues I had.  First, the costumes:  Ironman’s suit looked entirely too bulky, Red Skull’s head looked a bit oversized, and Captain America’s shield bent during one of the shield throwings, so it was a bit odd.  In the case of underwhelming characters, I choose three:  With all of the visual effects and build up of the show, I really wanted to see Storm go crazy at the end and summon some of her weather abilities.  I also wanted to see Cyclops unleash his optic blasts.  I got neither, and I don’t understand why.  Ironman had plenty of lasers going off, so a few shots of red light from Cyclops would have been easy to do.  Smoke effects and lightning were abound, so making some smoke look like a tornado or have Storm firing lightning or wind would not have been that much of a stretch.  To me, the lack thereof of these elements made me feel as if the creators of the show got lazy in the last five minutes and wanted it to end.  Captain Marvel also only flew Thorand fought.  In the scenes she was a part of, her comic book counterpart would have blasted the thugs around in seconds.  Instead they focused on her fighting, which made her a useless character.  If they wanted to focus on fighting, they could have used Punisher or someone else like that.

Concessions and Other attractions:  Like any of these type of shows, the ticket prices are through the roof at times, but worth it.  The price you pay to see this show goes to making it happen, so I can get by that.  What I can’t get by is how outrageous concessions are.  I’m not talking about popcorn or anything like that, because we all know at these events you spend ten dollars on a hotdog.  What I AM talking about are the plush toys and cheap gimmicks.  Light up toys that twirl around and the plush dolls look like something that you’d win at a carnival or buy at a five below, but the price of one costs between 20 and 25 dollars!  And the program would have been nice to have, but I wasn’t spending that money either.  Sorry.  I’ll go spend half the price somewhere else and get something four times as good.  One cool thing is that (and you can see from my pic of Dan and my kids) you can dress up as characters and stand in for pictures.  There are a few of these lying around, so you can take your pick of which to do.

photoOverall, this show is something new and fresh.  You’ve never seen anything like it before.  Sure, there are elements you have probably scene, but the combination of everything together is out of this world.  Marvel Universe Live on Tour is an event that you do NOT want to miss.  The sold out arena was proof of that alone, and I hope that this leads to many more similar incarnations.  A Marvel Universe Live sequel focusing on X-Men, Fantastic Four, or other heroes than the Avengers would have me grabbing tickets right away.  With over 32 characters from the comics it is a job well done.  For an arena performance, I give it 8 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

What did you think?  Feel free to comment if you saw it.  I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts.

 

*MARVEL UNIVERSE LIVE is a production of Feld Entertainment (C) 2014


Review: The Flash (2014) TV Pilot

the-flash-2014-01The CW network has really convinced me of quality programing in one of its shows (Arrow).  Now with the backdoor pilot set in the Arrow universe, Barry Allen will become the Flash in his own show.  I was able to catch an early screening of the pilot that will air in the Fall, and let me say that it has already begun much better than most pilot episodes for a series.  Here is my review with minor spoilers included.  I will not spoil anything from the plot itself, so the spoilery info will be kept to the minimum.

Plot:

To cram all of this in 42 minutes is impressive when it doesn’t feel rushed.  We have Barry’s lab accident that gives him superspeed.  A reason for his suit to be what it is.  His mother being murdered when he was a child, and you most certainly see the reverse flash (Professor Zoom) in the chaos that kills her.  And a search for other meta-humans who have powers or abilities beyond normal.  Oh, and we also have the Weather Wizard (kind of).  Overall, it flowed well.  Some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy in parts, and the easter eggs seemed forced, but it was pleasing above all else.

Flash/Barry Allen: Grant Gustin IS Barry.  His presence on screen, really personifies the role, and though I was skeptical at first, I’m convinced they made the right choice.  I also really like how he analyzes the crime scene.  It is a unique take on visually showing what he has in his mind.  I hope we see a lot more of this.  As far as the costume goes… I’m glad that they referenced it was a prototype design.  This probably means that it will evolve over time.

Iris West:  Eventually Iris and Barry will be married (if we assume they follow the comics).  Like any CW show however, they had to put in a different love interest to make it soap opera-y.  That annoys me to a certain extent, and though I also hate when they change the race of a character, Candice Patton works well for this role.  She’s attractive, and has great on screen chemistry with Gustin.

Detective West: I’m hoping that they don’t make him another Detective Lance (from Arrow).  It seems like they might be doing that a little bit, but since Barry is a cop, we have to have some sort of veteran on the job.  He came off as a bit of a prick but in a good way.

Caitlin Snow & Cisco Ramon: Their roles seemed to be placed forcefully into Barry’s life, but I think it will work.  We already see a dark side to Caitlin (who in the comics becomes the villain, Killer Frost)… And Cisco has an overeager nerdy side, that you would only see in a protagonist character.  He of course becomes (Vibe) in the comics, and of all the justice league characters I’m not sure why they’d choose him as a focal point, but I guess they are trying to push sales with that character.  It’ll be interesting how their fates pan out.

Dr. Harrison Wells: Speaking of fates…wow, what a twist at the end.  All I’ll say is that his purpose is of a much grander scheme, and like Malcom Merlyn in Arrow, I think that he will serve a similar role.  And not to say too much, but his name is not really Harrison Wells, but I’ll bet that wheelchair really moves fast and I wonder how much tech Star Labs has gotten from the future (Yes, you comic fans might know what I’m saying here).

Henry Allen: Seeing John Wesley Ship in this role was awesome from the moment he appeared on screen.  Sure it is minor, but I enjoyed the original live action Flash series in the nineties, so to see the original Barry Allen in a Flash series again is nice to see a passing of the torch in a way.  I can’t wait to see what sort of person he will be as the series progresses.

Eddie Thawne:  Okay, so I originally thought this was Eobard Thawne (Professor Zoom) from the comics, but apparently he may be a great great ancestor or something.  I’m not sure, but all I know is he will definitely be connected to the twist at the end of the pilot episode.  It’ll be interesting to see his placement and purpose.

Clyde Mardon: He’s the brother of the Weather Wizard (Mark Mardon), but exhibits the same powers.  His role as villain of the week was only a minor part of the episode, but to see Barry racing against a tornado was pretty awesome.  With him dead now, I am only assuming that his brother Mark will take over the role of the true Weather Wizard.  The effects for the weather abilities looked pretty natural too, so it was quite welcome to see this.

The Easter Eggs (Hidden things):

Some seemed forced, but here are the ones I caught…  Caitlyn referenced something called the ATOM SMASHER… could this be a forshadowing to the character of the same name being on the series?  Of course there were the ZOOM tributes and presence in the beginning and end…  A cage in Star Labs was bent out of shape with a tag on it that said GRODD…  I only assume that we will get Gorilla Grodd in the show at some point soon….  In the futuristic newspaper that was during the twist at the end, one of the headlines said “Waynetech and Queen Consolidated”… It talked about a merger between the two companies, which means that Bruce Wayne (hopefully Affleck) may appear in one of these two shows at some point.  In the same paper, we also see a hint at Barry Allen’s fate during the Crisis.  Could this 10 year forshadowing be a way of thinking ahead.  Smallville ran for 10 years.  If The Flash has the same strength in its legs, could we get a series finale with a crisis storyline?  Or perhaps this could be tying in to the thoughts of a Justice League movie with similar plots?  Finally, I had to include Oliver Queen/Green Arrow.  It’s more of a cameo than an easter egg, but having him in it with words of encouragement for the new hero was really cool.  I’m not sure about his swan dive over the edge at the end, but hell, it was awesome to see that they will maintain that crossing over to some effect.

There are so many what ifs and what will happen running amok in my head right now as I still spin from a really delightful first episode.  There are flaws in dialogue, but for a first episode, this really hit the ball out of the park.  I’m going to give it an 8 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.  Did you see it?  If so, what did you think?  What are your speculations and hopes for this show?  Comment below.


Review: Hannibal Season 2

hannibal-season-2-posterHere’s a brief review of the second season of the hit series Hannibal, based on the novels and character by Thomas Harris.  I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum, but to avoid any spoilery, you may want to scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating.  Here we go.

Hannibal Lecter shows his true colors in this season, and what a season it was.  My mind was blown on multiple levels.  To say the word “MindF&$(” would be an understatement.  Season 1 was a lot of fun to watch, but this really established a lot from the novels.  There were slight nods and deviations, and overall just disturbing and fun visuals.

My complaint is two-fold.  Doctor Chilton dying wasn’t a good point for me.  I thought he’d be there to have the show continue into the Silence of The Lambs territory eventually.  His character will now have to be replaced, and this strayed far from the book.  My second complaint is that there were times when things seemed too easy.  Like how did Will know that Hannibal sent the one guy to kill him?  There were times when the solving of the crimes and adding pieces together were just too simple.

It was often a stretch to believe that the characters were that intuitive.

On a good note, as Hannibal brought a complete mental psychosis to the plate (pun intended), Will Graham did an equal job.  There were times when I almost believed that Will WAS going to become like Hannibal.  If they did make him that way, I’d have been upset because that would also stray too far from the source material.  I like how they had the origin of Mason Verger too.  The man was as creepy as the creepiest person in the show, and he got what he deserved.

Everything that happened in this season properly set up the events from the novel “Red Dragon.”  We are left with Will and Jack dying, and Hannibal escaped.  Obviously Will or Jack (if not both) will survive the encounter, but what about that post credits teaser at the end?  Hannibal’s own psychiatrist, Dr. Du Maurier, is his accomplice.  This shocked me more than Abigail still being alive.

We now have an entirely new setting and fresh start for season 3, and my pallate can not wait.  The best part about watching this show, perhaps more than the show itself is that when I’m watching it with my wife, who is a well known foodie personality, she is watching the dining scenes and saying how disturbing it is, but how Hannibal knows how to plate a meal.  She of course doesn’t cook humans, but her eye for plating a dish is part of her specialty, so she can point out to me how wonderful the visuals look (despite the horrid nature of them).

All in all, I hope this series continues and goes through all of the books.  I understand we will get more back story to Hannibal in season 3 as they touch on events from “Hannibal Rising” while delving deep into the “Red Dragon” mythos.  I’ll rate the season with 8 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  It would have been higher if not for my two complaints, but overall, this was a wild ride and I can’t wait for more.  Now to fill the season void by going back and rereading the 4 novels.  What were your thoughts?  Did you enjoy it?  Did I miss anything?  Add your comments below.  Bon Appetit~


Review: X-Men Days Of Future Past

X-Men_Days_of_Future_Past_posterFox studios has just released its seventh movie in the massively popular X-Men franchise, and it looks to be another hit based on ticket sales.  One of the biggest complaints by comic book fans about Fox’s version of the X-Men is that it strays too far from the comics and there are so many continuity issues.  I’m tired of going to blogs and hearing someone say “Marvel needs the rights to X-Men back”.  I’m telling you right now, that while I want to see X-men with Marvel characters on screen, if they do this it wouldn’t be a good thing at this time.  Why?  Because everyone who isn’t a comic fan knows what the movies have brought to our eye.  Don’t forget that Bryan Singer brought us X-Men and X2: X-Men United at a time where comic book movies were just becoming popular.  X-2 is one of the BEST of the whole franchise.

Then X-Men The Last Stand came along.  I enjoyed that movie for its high points, but I do acknowledge its flaws.  Of course at the end of that movie, the only confirmed “Death” was that of Jean Grey.  We never saw Cyclops’ body, and his glasses were left floating in the air.  To me, this always meant that she never killed him.  Everyone got their powers back that lost them, and Professor X transferred his mind to a new body.

Of course, this was followed by the X-Men Origins Wolverine.  Again, there were parts that were strong, but what they did with all these characters left a bad taste in most people’s mouths.  X-Men First Class and The Wolverine finally came about and reinstilled energy in the franchise.  It gave faith back to those who had lost it, except for the whiny die hard X-Men comic fans who can’t imagine that the movies won’t be EXACTLY what they read in the pages.  Those are the same people who claim that the Avengers is a perfect comic movie, and yet don’t realize that most of what Marvel has put on the screen has strayed from core source material.

I’m one of those fans who is a comic fan AND a movie lover.  I go into these with a very open mind, and yes I get upset when I see certain things that don’t do justice.  When I saw some of the trailers for Days Of Future Past I shook my head.  Then I started hearing talk about it and became enraged.  “Why would they do this and ruin it more?”  I learned my lesson however to NEVER assume anything from a trailer.  Everything this movie presented corrected most of what people whined about, while creating another flaw that is gladly accepted over the appaling other ones that were there and are now gone.  From here on out in this review there will be MAJOR SPOILERS.  I’m also going to speculate where this will take the franchise.  If you want to know my review, scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating.

The future we are given to kick off the movie is dismal and dark.  We are shown over and over how deadly the sentinels are, and presented with some moderately graphic death scenes.  It is everything that I pictured the future to be in this story.  Then we go to the past, which picks up a few years after the First Class movie.  It’s the 1970s, and the X-Men aren’t even together anymore.  Two different periods of time, and both very effective.  Let’s check out the characters involved.

Wolverine/Logan:  One flaw I found with Wolverine is that they don’t explain how, after the events of The Wolverine, that he has metal on his claws again.  We can only assume from a comment made by a young Magneto, that the older Magneto put the metal back.  It makes sense and probably would have confused anyone that didn’t see The Wolverine as to why they just let this go.  It’s implied, but not flat out explained.  Regardless, Hugh Jackman continues to own this role.  He’s at his largest in body size, and you can tell he genuinely cares about the role.  Whether talking about the old Logan or the pre-Weapon X young counterpart, Wolverine is cleverly used here.  In his future version we see yellow and blue in his “costume” as a little nod to his classic comic book outfit.  Another Easter egg thrown in was when Magneto impales him with the rebar and bends it around his body.  This closely resembles the scene in the comics when Magneto stripped the adamantium from Logan’s bones.  My only issue with Logan here is that he is pulled out of the water after what is obviously a few hours at minimum, and he suddenly just starts coughing the water from his lungs.  Does his healing factor just do that?  Every few minutes the lungs try to work?  If so, then that could be an eternally painful death for Wolverine were that the case.  I don’t know what it is, but it is a scary thought.

Professor Xavier:  Patrick Stewart’s portrayal in the future is classic.  He’s always done well in this role, and I loved that he had a hover chair as well.  James McAvoy not only could pass off looking like a younger Patrick Stewart, but he equally owns the part.  I was kind of turned off at first by the self pity he was wallowing in, and the fact that Hank made a drug to help him to walk might explain how Xavier could walk in his brief cameo at the end of Origins Wolverine.  Then again, because his face was so badly CGIed in Origins, perhaps it was supposed to be a projected image of himself just like he did with Mystique in the airport.  DOFP was more of an established origin for Professor X than first class was because he also accepts that he will become the man he was meant to be.

Magneto / Erik Lensherr: Ian McKellen had little screen time in the future, but like everyone I felt he was utilized well.  If he had a little more dialogue I’d have been happier, but maybe less is more, and they sent him off well.  Michael Fassbender easily became the villain in this more than almost the sentinels.  I liked the nod to him being Quicksilver’s father, and the plastic prison that will again become a part of X2.  I am wondering how far magnetism can go however.  Does he have an engineering background where he suddenly knows how to control robots?  I can see him gaining control of the sentinels (he did often in the comics), but he sort of just let’s them loose on the “mutants”.  He’s a mutant too, so why wouldn’t it just attack him?  I also thought it was flawed that he was just able to leave at the end.  Xavier should have stopped him.  Wouldn’t the government people who watched Mystique stand up against him suddenly believe that they helped him escape if he could have been stopped?  Or did Xavier place a thought in their minds?

Raven Darkholme / Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence is a MUCH better Mystique than her predecessor, and she looks equally as menacing.  The fight choreography of the character and her becoming the unpredictable “hero” really had me smile.  I was glad that they did what they did with her.  My question is this…. does her appearance as Stryker at the end mean that she killed him?  I have a theory about this that I’ll mention in my speculation at the end.

Storm: Of all the characters in the X movies, Halle Berry was never one of my favorite choices to play a role.  Storm was sent off well here as well.  She didn’t need much dialogue.  They gave her shorter hair (a mowhawk would have been a good nod, but what she had was nice).  Her taking out the Sentinel carriers the way that she did showed how powerful she really can be, and her impalement by the sentinel’s spear hand was a relief.  My favorite part is that Logan flat out tells a younger Xavier to remember Storm and seek her out along with Scott and Jean.  That means most likely a recast as younger versions in the next movie.

Rogue, Cyclops, & Jean Grey: Their cameos as well as Kelsey Grammar as Beast was a great way to acknowledge all of the past mistakes.  It means that them being there confirms that the everything is open for the future.  Origins Wolverine, X-men, X2, The Last Stand, & The Wolverine will no longer happen.  They can literally do anything with a younger cast and the results of this movie give us a fresh beginning, only keeping First Class & DOFP (the past elements) as something that is continuity.

Kitty Pryde / Shadowcat: Ellen Page had a minor, but significant role.  Her time phasing powers are not part of the comics, but being as she was the one to go back in time in the comics instead of Logan, I felt this was a good way to include her in the whole segment.  There was no other way to do this because of all of the prior continuity errors, and adding a mental time phase to her existing phase powers felt naturally logical.  I also liked the slight nod at the end to her and Colossus’ relationship from the comics.

Hank McCoy / Beast:  One of my issues before seeing this movie was hearing that Hank would be very “Hulk” like and only turn to beast when he became angry.  The way they explain it is redeemable though.  He created a serum to give him the appearance, but he obviously will embrace his inner beast as Grammar is in full Beast makeup at the end.  It’s a good tool to use, but I hope they get rid of this for the next movie.

Bolivar Trask: Bryan Singer explained that this is not Trask from X2.  So who is Trask from X2?  Is he Peter Dinklage’s son?  Doubtful.  I guess he is just another Trask.  Aside from this continuity issue, Trask was perfect.  His purpose and usage was not over or underdone.  The slight change from the comics is that the future is caused by Senator Kelly’s assassination.  In this case, they had to change it to Bolivar Trask because Kelly was already established in X-1, and there couldn’t have been a better substitute for character swaps.

William Stryker:  He is only a major in military rank in this one, and there IS a continuity flaw with him.  In Origins Wolverine, Stryker and Logan met during Vietnam.  Here it is a few years later and it doesn’t seem like he knows him at all when he sees him.  The mention of his son Jason was nice (Jason Stryker was the mutant “Mastermind” in X2 who cast illusions into Xavier’s mind).  His purpose could have been filled by any other military character.  Why they chose to throw him in and cause another continuity issue is beyond me, but at this point I’ll bet they were just trigger happy with the cameos.  I really wish they hadn’t used him.

Quicksilver / Pietro “Peter” Maximoff: Nightcrawler was my favorite in an X-film so far, but Quicksilver has replaced him.  At first I hated the costume he wore from the ads, but now it makes sense after seeing it.  His main scene was so beautifully executed and the nod to him being Magneto’s son was awesome too.  As much faith as I have in Marvel for cinematic excellence, I don’t know how their Quicksilver will top this one.  I can’t wait to see more of him in Apocalypse.

Cameo X-Men: While most of these had no or little dialogue, they were all utilized well.  Bishop was awesome!  Colossus finally got some epic battle time.  Blink’s powers looked awesome, so much so that I made sure I wasn’t blinking so I could fully capture what was going on.  Sunspot and Warpath were nice additions, though were of very little use.  The same could almost be said about Iceman, but we finally got to see his ice slide move, which gave plenty of chills I’m sure.  Havok, Toad, Ink, & Spyke had a fun little scene and I wonder where they will be headed off to.

Mystery mutants:  If anyone knows who the white haired guy was at the beginning, who found the X symbol and then was killed, please let me know.  I assumed this was a young Cable, but it could have just been a generic mutant.  Also, Bryan singer confirmed that the little sister with Pietro was NOT his twin, Scarlet Witch.  But if not her, then perhaps it was younger sister, Lorna Dane?  I know that might be a stretch, but it is the movies, and since Polaris (Lorna Dane) is also the daughter of Magneto, maybe they planned that.

Sentinels: This was just plain awesome.  The Sentinels in the 1970s reminded me of watching the old cartoon from the 90s.  They were fun to watch destroy and I waited for the “Surrender Mutant” line of dialogue somewhere, but it never happened.  In the future, the Nimrod sentinels were downright terrifying.  Just plain amazing!

The Chris Clairmont (He wrote DOFP storyline in the comics) cameo, and mentions of other characters here and there were fun easter eggs for any comic book fan, but my favorite was En Sabah Nur.  I have wanted to see Apocalypse as a villain since Xmen 1.  Now we are getting him.  His post credits scene had my jaw dropping, and I noticed that his 4 horsemen were sitting in the background while the young mutant pharaoh built the pyramids.  I cannot wait til Apocalypse.

My only real regret with this movie is that they killed Azazel and White Queen.  The problem isn’t with Azazel, because he could have impregnated Mystique somewhere along the way and still had Nightcrawler.  The issue is with Emma.  With her dead, there is no way she’d ever be a part of the X-Men later down the line.  It’s nothing that will make me lose sleep, but they could have thought of another way.

Now that I’ve exhausted my opinions of the characters and plots, I want to speculate on where this could all lead based on what we know as fact from where we stand at the end of Days of Future past.  X-Men Apocalypse will have Xavier’s new recruits taking on Apocalypse and his horsemen.  Who will be with Xavier?  They set it up for a young Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey to accompany Professor X and Beast.  It is also confirmed that Quicksilver and maybe Scarlet Witch will play a role somehow, in addition to Gambit, played by Channing Tatum.  We also know that it takes  place in the 1980s.  Who will the horsemen be?  Here’s my theory… I think Mystique killed Stryker and rescued Logan from the water.  Why?  She is working for Apocalypse who has been watching from the sidelines.  Wolverine will get metal back on his bones, but not from Weapon X now… instead he will become the Horseman of death.  There was a brief stint in the comics where this happened.  Making Logan a bad guy would be so smart because it will really put the team to the test, and he finally won’t be a hero.  Wolverine, Mystique and two others as horsemen (sorry, no archangel, because he’d be too young in the 80s).  I also believe that Nathanial Essex would be a servant to Apocalypse, setting up the next movie where he could be Mr. Sinister and take young cyke and jean.

Wolverine 3: With no weapon X program, he’d probably (after being released from Apocalypse’s control) join up with Alpha Flight.  They could take on Omega Red and have Sabretooth return to turn against his “brother”, Jimmy (Wolverine’s birth name).

Deadpool: MAKE THIS MOVIE RATED “R” and Give Ryan Reynolds the chance to show what he has as this character.

Sorry for such a lengthy review.  I’m sure I even missed stuff, but there was just so much scale to this movie.  After just over 2 hours, I felt I could have watched another 2 hours and not gotten tired.  This was non-stop action and suspense from the beginning until the end, and executed really well.  While fixing a plethora of mistakes, they created only 2 real flaws, and neither of them matter.  I have to rate this at a 9 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  What did you think of the movie? Did I leave something out?  Where do you see it going from here?  Fox has earned the rights to use these characters and I am not disappointed by the scope of what they’ve accomplished.  Well done, Singer and crew.

 


Review: The Amazing Spiderman 2

thIf anyone has caught my previous review for The Amazing Spiderman 1, then you know I gave it high praises; except for the fact that it didn’t feel very fresh and original because it was another origin story.  Now before I go ripping this apart or commending it for being a delightful movie, I have to state that I was a huge Spiderman fan growing up.  He is one of the iconic memories of my childhood.  Therefore, I am both very critical, AND acceptant of what is presented on screen.  I realize things can’t be exactly from the pages of comics.  This review will be loaded with Spoilers, so if you don’t want to see any, then scroll down to the last paragraph for my score.

The overall darker tone of this series is not something I enjoy.  Spider-man is a lot like Superman in many aspects.  I want to see a bright and colorful display.  I don’t want to see a whole lot of night battles.  If I wanted that, I’d watch Batman or Blade.  The whole parents of Peter Parker storyline seemed to flesh out in this one, which made for an interesting reason why Peter being bitten by the spider would have altered his DNA that way.  I enjoyed this very much, and am glad they sort of put an end to it.  It served it’s purpose so let’s move on.  My character breakdowns from previous reviews seem to be attracting attention, so I’ll review the movie like that.

Spider-man / Peter Parker: Andrew Garfield is a wonderful actor, but I still don’t like him as Spiderman.  I hate to compare, but overall, the more I watch this series, the more I want Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi back.  Don’t get me wrong, there was tons wrong with the original trilogy, but Garfield’s Peter doesn’t seem right.  It’s almost like they don’t know what to do with him.  Parker is supposed to be a nerdy kid who wise cracks cheesy lines with his enemies.  It is his staple.  Instead, in this series, we get a punk Brooklyn kid who seems more like a douchy bully than anything else.  At times he conveys what Spiderman should be, but I am not sure where they are going with him.  This parker is a punk, then loveable, then wise cracking, and then emo.  PICK A FRIGGIN’ EMOTION ALREADY!  Everyone has mood changes, but this is ridiculous.  It’s like he is four different characters.  I was however happy with the updated classic look of the suit, and WHY he had a new suit.  Spidey’s outfit here is the BEST costume overall in ALL the existing Spiderman films.  I still can’t fathom how he can fit so much web fluid in those little cartridges, but I can suspend disbelief because it’s a comic book film.

Gwen Stacy:  Emma Stone is a major highlight of this film.  Or should I say was?  Her purpose was meaningful, and although her dialogue was often horrible (As was most of the dialogue in the film), she was believable.  My issue would be that they decided to make this genius level student a complete idiot in the end.  She thinks she can help Spiderman take on Electro, and that’s just moronic.  Yeah okay she overall did, but it’s not a smart move.  She was that annoying girlfriend that just doesn’t go away.  This leads to her ultimate death at the hands of the Green Goblin.  In the comics she was thrown from a bridge by the Goblin (Norman, not Harry), and Peter tried to stop her fall with a web, breaking her neck.  Here, she was thrown from a clock tower by Harry’s Goblin, and Peter snapped her spine with a sudden jerking stop.  The scene was VERY effective and one of the best recreations of comic book lore to date.  You felt the impact before, during and after her death.  Gwen really is the one who let’s Peter know posthumously that he is destined to be Spiderman (even if those exact words weren’t used).

Max Dillon / Electro: Jamie Foxx really played this role well.  I feel that this WAS the electro from the comics, despite the fact that they made him a genius engineer with obvious social and mental disabilities.  The lack of social and mental normalcy made him seem like the dimwit from the comics.  The fight scenes and effects with him too were just visually stunning.  Is he dead?  No I doubt it.  He’s probably reserved in that little battery that was strapped to his head, at least as some kind of spark.  I wouldn’t mind them bringing him back at some point in a lesser capacity.

Green Goblin / Harry Osborn: Dane Dehaan played the role of Harry well.  He even played Goblin well.  Let me say this though.  Aside from the design being utterly horrible, I’m sick of seeing Green Goblin.  This one is more akin to the ultimate version, but its just overdone.  If you use a goblin, then for the love of God, please use hobgoblin or even demogoblin, because this is just getting redundant, and that is probably one of the biggest flaw’s that director Marc Webb has in these films…. nothing is NEW.  BTW, I’m not believing that Norman is dead.  His hands and look in his “final” scenes made me believe he’d be back as the Ultimate “hulking like” version of the character.  Only time will tell.

Felicia Hardy: She has a minor role in the movie, but you can see that she would practically do anything for Harry.  This is a perfect setup for her to become BlackCat in the next movie.  I really think that is the way they need to go.  Make her a villain who will eventually pick a side and team with Spiderman.

Rhino: SMH.  I love Paul Giamatti, but his Russian accent is overplayed and not believeable here.  AND I’m sick of seeing mechanical exosuit villains.  WHY did we get a giant robot rhino with guns?  All I have to say is that for the next movie or sinister six, he better have an updated form of the suit that is more akin to the comics, because this is just the WORST design EVER!  Instead of the headfirst charging Rhino, we got a walking tank with machine guns, and a tease of a fight.

Aunt May, The Ravencroft Institute, Richard and Mary Parker, The head of Oscorp: all of these were delightful to see on screen and had a clear purpose.  Nothing much can be said because they were practically flawless.

Alistair Smythe: An awesome cameo that I didn’t expect.  In the comics, he creates the Spider Slayers.  this is all a setup for future I believe, and since he was placed in a cryo type freeze tank, I believe he will be back (maybe with some cyber enhancements).

The man in the shadows: okay, so we still have no idea who this is, or do we?  He showed up in the post credits from the first film.  Now he shows up at the end to assist Harry in putting together a “team”.  Who can he be?  They called him Gustav Fiers.  He must be none other than Chameleon, who was a key player in the comics in forming the Sinister Six.  If this is the case, then perhaps we will actually have more than six villains.  Here is my speculation as to where this will all go….

There are more films coming.  It is confirmed that we are getting: The Amazing Spiderman 3, Venom, and Sinister Six movies, followed by The Amazing Spiderman 4.  It is also confirmed that Andrew Garfield is playing the character through the year 2020.  Now, with that being said, here is where I see it going.

TASM3: Felicia becomes Black Cat.  She breaks Harry out of prison, and he and her team up to take on Spiderman.  He is still coping with the death of Gwen, but this is where Felicia and Mary Jane being introduced into his life will cause conflict.  He won’t know who to trust.  In the end, I believe that Black Cat will turn against a super charged (more ultimate form of the goblin) and Harry will probably die.  This movie is all about conflict… Felicia choosing a side, Peter moving on, Harry realizing his best friend is his worst enemy.  There will also be setups here to the spinoff films.

I know I said that I don’t want to see Green Goblin anymore, but this is the only logical way to go at this point.  To make him different, his DNA could be altered further to really fit that Ultimate Goblin look.  Black Cat will be the first female villain for spiderman, and everything will feel a little fresh.

Venom: there were some easter eggs in the film.  We had the mention of the Spidervenom which is the arachnid’s blood.  In the ultimate comics, Venom isn’t an alien symbiote… it is instead a derivative symbiote from Spiderman’s blood.  There is also a Morbius easter egg, but that probably wouldn’t apply.  In the venom movie, we could see a classic Eddie Brock taking on the mantle of the villain, and going up against his own offspring, Carnage.  This HAS to be a venom vs carnage movie.  it has been something the fans have wanted for years.  It could be a one and done movie, where in the end, Eddie Brock either becomes anti-venom for a future film where Flash Thompson takes over as venom, or something else.

Sinister Six: Chameleon will take on the reigns of moving forward with Harry’s original plans.  Who should be in this movie?  TASM 2 set up: Doctor Octopus, Vulture, and Rhino.  Smythe would be a good add on, while bringing in Scorpion or Kraven the Hunter.  actually, there are lots of things that they could do…. I could speculate for hours on what the GOOD thing to do would be.  If only they’d hire me to correct the issues, I’d be able to set them straight.

TASM 4: could be a whole fresh start.  The spiderman verse is fully established at this point and we can go back to one villain only…. bring in Mysterio.  He’s a big enough threat on his own.

Sorry if I strayed with my speculations, but this is something I’ve been mulling over, and I’d like to hear your comments.  All in all, with TASM 2, we had okay plot, GREAT character setup and building, HORRIBLE dialogue, and AMAZING action scenes.  It wasn’t by any means a bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t a great movie.  I have to rate it with a 6 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.  What did you think?  Good?  Bad?  Did I miss something?  Where do you think the series will go?  One final thought.  I felt gypped by the post credits scene.  It was a scene from X-Men Days of Future Past, and while I’m excited to see the movie, an advertisement serves no purpose to the fans unless there is a potential crossover at some point… I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Spiderman and The X-Men on screen together?

 


Review: Arrow Season 2

480px-Arrow_TV_Series_Season_2_Promo_Poster-8The comic book geek in me is ecstatic from watching the 5 minute Flash trailer that debuted during the season finale of Arrow.  So what better fitting review than to talk about the show it is spinning off from?  Be warned… there are spoilers ahead.  If you want my review without spoilers, scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating.  Begin spoilery now…

This show keeps getting better.  It still has minor flaws here and there.  The forced CW mushy romance still rears its head, and just an excuse to have Stephen Amell’s shirt off during each episode seems to be a bit over done, but there is a good balance.  Here is a show that started off sub par and made its way to becoming the BEST adaptation of a comic book TV series.  The writers of the show aim to throw in easter eggs for the fans, and a good compelling story for those who are not fans of the comic books.

Let’s take a look at who we got to meet this season, and touch on our main characters:

Team Arrow (Oliver, Diggle, Felicity): This trio works well together and keeps each other on their toes.  Felicity has proven to be a key in the team.  Diggle being the muscle, serves more of a purpose with his connections, while Oliver is out in the field.  Felicity though, she is the one who verbally gives Oliver a reality check when he needs it most.

Canary / Sarah Lance:  Okay, so she only had the canary cry once, using a device to do it, but she didn’t need it.  She kicked ass when it counted, and her dark history drove part of this story along.  I’m glad to see her go back to the League of Assassins at the end.  She basically passed the reigns on to Laurel (who will become the real Black Canary).  To me, Sarah never felt like Canary except when she was fighting.  Her attitude was off, and I didn’t like her being Oliver’s love interest.  It wasn’t a good pairing.

Laurel “Dinah” Lance: Aside from needing to eat a sandwich and gain about fifteen pounds, Laurel was an annoyance most of the season.  It wasn’t until she got her head out of drinking and drugs that she began to prove her worth.  At the end of the season I was glad to see the Laurel I loved from Season 1 return, but in a better way.  She is set up to take on the mantle she is destined as Black Canary.  Sure she needs some combat training and a Canary Cry, but that’s what season 3 is for.

Detective Lance: Finally!  After being a complete dick in season 1, he stepped up to the plate and became a great guy who was good at his job.  Of course I will be sad to see him go if they kill him off.  The season ended with him bleeding internally from an injury.  If he does die however, this will set Laurel on her path of destiny.

Sebastian “Brother” Blood: Running for mayor of a city is a big enough task, but when you are a villain working for Deathstroke in the process, well things become more complicated.  His role was a supporting one at best, but necessary in what was happening throughout the season.  I am not sure I liked his “conscience” decisions in the end to help out, but I guess he realized how evil Slade really was.  I did NOT like his mask.  It screamed too “scarecrow” for me, but I’m glad he had some sort of attire to work as Brother Blood.  I was surprised to see him killed off, but in the real world, people have to die at times, and his death was played well.

Barton Mathis / Dollmaker: As a guest villain, he was perhaps the creepiest of the season.  We won’t see him again because of his death, but the way he was making people into “dolls” was downright terrifying and had me on the edge of my seat.

Sin and Roy Harper / Red Arrow: I paired these two because they were part of each other in a way.  Sin’s role was just there to assist Roy in his troubles and be a friend to Canary.  Roy’s Mirakuru injection sent him down a dark path just like in the comics.  I loved the “Don’t ever call me Speedy” line when Arrow called him that, and seeing him suit up as Red Arrow was a giddy moment to say the least.  Now that he is back to being a normal human without Mirakuru, I think we will see him move more on to being Arsenal soon.

Professor Ivo: I’m not sure I liked the use of Ivo in this way.  His ship being called the AMAZO is a nice nod to the comics, but pretty much confirms that this is all we will EVER see of AMAZO and Ivo.  The part was played well but the role felt forced.

Cyrus Gold: Okay, it was a small role, but why was it important?  Because he died with the serum in his veins.  What does this mean?  Well, comic book fans… Cyrus Gold comes back from the dead as Solomon Grundy.  The little poem was even recited in the episode, so I hope to see him back from the dead in season 3.

Barry Allen:  We saw overeager police scientist Barry talking about his past and referring to the yellow storm (Professor Zoom) that killed his mother when he was a kid.  He’s all about heroism and is the one to give Oliver his mask.  Not only that, but we actually see the origin of the Flash.  He gets struck by lightning that will give him the powers from the chemical bath he landed in.  And yes, he is in a coma, but it was all set up for Flash TV show.  I loved every moment of him on screen.

Mark Scheffer / Shrapnel: A very minor role, but it was nice to have a second rate comic villain appear, albeit briefly.

Nyssa Raatko: I had only ever thought that Talia was Ra’s Al Ghul’s only daughter, but then I did my research.  Nyssa was a daughter as well, and her role as an assassin felt real.  She was deadly with a lack of emotion (except her fascination with Sarah).  I give her extra kudos for saying Ra’s Al Ghul the way it is supposed to be pronounced.

William Tockman / Clock King: Like the Doll maker, the Clock King was a welcome guest villain.  He was much more manevolent than I’d have pictured him to be from the comics, but they had to do that to make him work.  I’ll be excited to see more of him hopefully soon.

Bronze Tiger: Does Michael Jai White ever age?  He looks the same as he did in that horrible Spawn movie from the 90s.  His purpose in season 2 was equivelant to China White’s in season 1.  Not much was said, but he is a trained killer, so dialogue isn’t something needed.  His fight scenes were fun to watch too.

ARGUS, HIVE, Suicide Squad, Task Force X: All of these were mentioned and linked together.  Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, & Shrapnel kicked ass on this team with Waller in charge.  The episode where they went out on their first suicide mission with Diggle was a change of pace for the show, and I’m glad.  We needed that episode in there.  Best part though is probably that Harley Quinn’s voice was heard and you catch a glimpse of her hair.  We now know that she is a potential for the show at some point.

Amanda Waller:  What can I say?  Other than I’m glad that she’s an attractive woman instead of the overweight one from the comics (I never bought an overweight government agent of her power).  She was exactly what her comic book counterpart was.  A pain in the ass, with good intentions, but a messed up thought process on how to go about delivering the goods.

Birds Of Prey: Okay, sort of.  Not really.  It is just that Helena Bertinelli (Huntress) got to meet Canary.  No they didn’t get along, but they didn’t always in the comics either.  Let’s just say this was a good set up to what might eventually appear as a trio (Canary, Huntress, Oracle).  By Oracle, I can only assume Felicity at this point, UNLESS, they definitely tie this in with the movies, in which case Batman Incorporated is supposed to be part of Man of Steel, and Barbara could be a part of that in some form.  That’s straying from the review though so I won’t elaborate.

Ravager: I thought Isabel was just an annoyance for most of the season, but knowing she worked for Slade the whole time, when they revealed that I immedately knew who she was.  Her costume was cheesy, but matched the comic book one to the details.  Her death was priceless in mid sentence.

Slade Wilson / Deathstroke: His army of super soldiers was a nice addition, but Slade himself is just the perfect villain.  He is Oliver’s Lex Luthor.  Slade will escape from his prison I’m sure.  The classic costume and his updated one were nice touches.  I have NOTHING negative at all.  Every moment that Manu Bennett is on screen as Slade is priceless.  You just want to see what he is going to do next.

So there is your character breakdown of season 2.  I believe this show keeps getting better and better.  Moira’s death, Malcom Merlyn (Dark Archer) coming back as a season 3 regular, and Thea Queen joining him are drastic points for the series.  I believe (and this is just a theory of mine) that Thea will take her mother’s maiden name since she really isn’t a queen.  She may also change her name.  What am I saying?  My theory is that she will become Mia Dearden and be trained by Merlyn.  Mia in the comics is a sidekick of Oliver’s at one point and takes on the mantle of “Speedy”.  Also, not to forget that Oliver did knock a girl up in the past.  I’ll bet that her last name was Hawke.  At some point we may see his son in a few seasons showing up.  Connor Hawke took over the mantle of Green Arrow for a while in the comics, and was a sidekick.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.  Like it?  Hate it?  Think I was wrong or have something to add?  Speculations you have for season 3 or the Flash series (since it is technically a tie in).  Did I leave something out?  Chime in.  I’m giving Arrow Season two 8 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.  I’d like to give it more, but there are just certain things that don’t make it perfect in my opinion.  It does however remain one of my most anticipated shows to watch and I can’t wait til september.


Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1

Marvel-Agents-of-ShieldAfter 22 episodes I decided to do a brief review of the season as a whole.  Having faith in Marvel has proven to be a good thing, because in all honesty, the first nine episodes of this season were utter garbage.  Then there was a break and someone woke the hell up on the writing staff.  Warning… Spoilers ahead, so if you want my rating skip down to the last paragraph.

Low budget effects?  yes for the most part, but that’s what to expect from a television show, and they got better sans a few, toward the end of the season.  When this show started, I actually could not stand most of the characters.  Clark Gregg’s Phillip Coulson was the ONLY reason I hung on.  The tie ins with the existing universe really only worked with Captain America The Winter Soldier, because for the most part, all of the name drops felt forced.  That being said, there are some exceptions to that rule.  Let’s look at the characters, both main and guest spots.

Agent Coulson: Clark Gregg is easily the highlight of this show.  He has proven his adaptability from bad scripts to good ones, and plays the role well.  Sure, there were a few moments that felt off, but I don’t think this was him more than it was the direction of the show.  The huge build up to find out how he was still alive after Avengers, came at somewhat a relief and a let down; but now I’m more intrigued to see where this will take him as a character.  Something in his brain is obviously amiss, based on what happened at the end of the season finale with him writing on the walls.  There is still something mysterious about him, and I’m eager to find out what.

Agent May: When she kicks ass, she is fun to watch, but her dull lack of emotion for the most part, didn’t seem believable at all times.  Thankfully, in the last few episodes, she lightened up slightly.

Ward:  I don’t put agent in front of his name because he has been revealed as part of HYDRA.  I liked this turn because he was a likable character with a seemingly good heart.  I do see that there is internal conflict there though.  He NEEDS to stay as a bad guy.  His actions are not redeemable, so if they decide at one point to have him back on the team, then I will be really pissed off and probably lose interest all together.

Skye: Easily the best looking person on the show, she is gorgeous and intriging.  I didn’t buy into her becoming a member of the “team” at first, but I don’t mind it now that they made up for that.  There is obviously something about her that is super powered, but we don’t know yet what it is.  I just hope they don’t hold onto this information for too much longer.  My guess?  Her real name will be revealed soon enough, and we will find out she will become Spider Woman.  I think this because it fits her profile for the most part.

Fitz and Simmons:  Ugh.  In the first half of the season I just wanted these characters to die off.  They are NOT government like agents.  Honestly they sucked bad.  By the end of this season I at least have grown to like Fitz.  Simmons… not so much.  I just don’t think her quirkiness works.

John Garrett: Bill Paxton probably saved this series.  I was NOT happy with the lackluster reveal of him being the Clairvoyant that was a huge buildup to another disappointment.  I AM happy that he is John Garrett from the comics, who is a cyborg.  We see the full reveal of his comic book costume at the end of the season finale, but his life is quickly ended.  This is a good thing.  He played his purpose, and we can move on.

Viktoria Hand: For the little screen time she had, it was enjoyable.  She WAS her comic counterpart.  I was just shocked to see her killed at the hands of Ward.  IF this is somehow a “faked” death, then I’ll be pissed at that too.  They’ve used the fake death enough.  It’s overplayed.  Let it die… literally.

Deathlok / Mike Peterson: I predicted him being Deathlok 2 episodes before it happened, and I’m glad he is there.  He is finally free with his own will power after Garrett’s death, and I want to see more of him.  His costume however needs to evolve.  I want to still see the real Deathlok look, or at least some of it.  This gaudy chest armor does nothing for me.  The leg is cool, but update his face to half cyborg.  Make him look the part, because he plays the part well.

Agent Triplett: The PERFECT replacement for Ward on the team.  He’s a much better character as a hero, and is likable as well.

Raina and Ian Quinn: Both of these characters have similar antagonist roles, but I only find Ian Quinn as enjoyable.  The Raina character bothers me and I can’t quite figure out why.  She feels forced where she is at.  Quinn on the other hand is serving a purpose.

Blackout / Marcus Daniels: His role, while a small guest spot, was awesome.  I liked what they did here, though honestly, I’d rather him have been the Blackout that is Ghost Rider’s enemy, but all the same, it was done well.

Blizzard / Donnie Gill: His origin as the Ironman villain was set.  Now bring him back as Blizzard full on.  I want to see it.

Graviton / Franklin Hall: Same as Blizzard.  origin featured, but we need a return and with him as the comic villain.

Maria Hill and Nick Fury: I LOVED both of these cameos, especially toward the end of the season and in the finale.  Nick handed the reigns over to Coulson to reform SHIELD, but I’d love to see him back at some point.  Maria will definitely be seen again, probably in Avengers 2 as well.

Lorelei: This was the BEST guest villain to date.  She was right spot on with the comics, and believeable as well.  It was refreshing to say the least.

Lady Sif: Similar feel that I got with Lorelei.  Best hero cameo, and a shift of pace for the show.

Sitwell and Koenig: I’ll put it this way… I was glad to see Sitwell as a member of HYDRA in Cap 2.  I don’t want to see him again, because he isn’t believable.  Koenig is just annoying and I was excited to see him die in the show…. but of course he had a twin brother, so we are stuck with him for at least another episode.  SMH.  NOT a good role… NOT a good character… NOT a convinceable agent of SHIELD.

Colonel Glenn Talbot: I hope we see more of him in the future.  They have the perfect actor for the role, and although his appearance was limited, it made me think more about the possibility of seeing Bruce Banner in a future episode… after all, they did mention the Leader & Abomination’s statuses after the events of the Incredible Hulk.

So what did you think?  Am I wrong?  Do you have more to add?  Did you give up on the show and if so, will you muscle through to earn back your respect for what will come of this show?  All in all I have high hopes for season 2.  If they don’t continue with better scripts and get rid of stupid characters like Koenig, then this show WILL fail.  I think they are smart enough to correct their past mistakes however, and I’m highly anticipating season 2.  All in all I have to give it a low rating.  4 out of 10 sCrypt coffins because of a really crappy first half and a redeemable second half.  Trust me… the redeemable part is worth it.  Just because I gave it a low rating doesn’t mean the show sucks anymore.  In fact I think it has become actually really good, but the first half and quirkiness, plus lack of actual comic book “looking” attire, I had to give it a low score.  Remember, this is rating for the WHOLE season, not just the last half.  Were I to break it down by halves, I’d say first half of the season would score a 1 out of 10, while the second half would get a 7 out of 10.  Here’s to hoping for season 2 to go above and beyond with more comic related material.


Review: Once Upon A Time Season 3 (& Wonderland)

Once-Upon-a-Time-Season-3-Promotional-Poster-once-upon-a-time-35567250-375-500There is a LOT to cover here, but I’ll make it as brief as possible.  First off, if you AREN’T watching Once Upon a Time, then you need to stop reading and start at season 1.  I guarantee you will get so wrapped up in the characters and stories that you will not stop until you are caught up.  There will be spoilers in here so skip to the end paragraph if you want my rating of both shows.  Yes, I threw Once in Wonderland in here because to me it is part of season 3 albeit on its own.

I’ll start with part 1 of season 3 Once Upon a Time.  The main villain here is Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.  The reveal of who Peter truly is in relation to Rumplestiltskin really shows why Rumple is the way he is.  Wendy’s story arc is good here, and Peter as a villain works surprisingly really well.  He was the villain you loved to hate.

We also see a turn for the better with Rumple and Regina here, that leads to them being more heroic than ever.  In fact, it is safe to say they are now heroes for season 3, and likeable ones at that.  Neil (aka Baelfire) however becomes the ultimate hero by sacrificing himself to save everyone.

What took me by surprise is that at the mid season break, it finished up that storyline, so instead of one long season arc, we actually got 2 shorter arcs, but I think this was a good thing to keep the show fresh.  The episode with Ariel and Eric was satisfying, and seeing that the Evil Queen Regina took on the form of Ursula the sea Witch was fun as well.

Now we get on to Once Upon A Time In Wonderland.  It really is ashame that this didn’t get renewed for a second season.  I think the time slot was a bad choice.  This should have aired at the mid season break slot of Once Upon A Time, but instead was on a different night where not many people tuned in.  It DID however give us a good look at Wonderland and those characters, and they wrapped the whole storyline up.  Basically, they didn’t leave us hanging to wonder what happened, and they left it open to include the remaining characters in the main show at some point.

89814-once-upon-a-time-season-3-spoilersAnyway, so we have Alice being taken back to Wonderland to save her lost love, who is a genie.  Now keep in mind that this genie, AND the Sultan, are NOT the genie and Sultan from Aladdin, BUT, Jafar is the main villain.  Speaking of which, Jafar is one of the best villains on this or the main show to date.  His portrayal and agenda echoed what is known of the character, and he is not limited by simple morals.  There is a soft side to him, however, which keeps the human part of him real.

Anastasia/The Red Queen was an annoyance at first, but the last few episodes had me liking her.  The White Rabbit, Caterpillar, The Bandersnatch, The Knave of Hearts (Will Scarlet), and Alice herself all had great purposes in the series and I enjoyed every moment they had on screen.  We even had a little back story with Robin hood and his merry men, which was a break from the norm of the show.  The character of Elizabeth “Lizard” was odd at first, but a welcome sight…. until she died, which choked me up a little (I’ll be honest… I never like seeing a pretty woman die).

Cora appearing as the Queen of Hearts was expected, and she lived up to the menacing person she portrayed in the main series.  Of course this was all in flashback here, but it was needed for back story.  The Well of Wonders and the genies had a nice little plot thrown in there, but we could have probably skipped over that whole angle (though the demon of the well was creepy as hell).

At first I was disappointed by the Jaberwocky, but five minutes after her first appearance on screen, I grew to really like her as a creepy, fear inducing villain, and I hope she comes back at some point.

My only problem with characters here are the Tweedles.  I didn’t like how they looked, and I felt they were used inappropriately for the most part.  Their roles could have been better planned.  As far as overall plot, Jafar trying (and succeeding) in rewriting the laws of magic seems to directly affect the events in the main series.  In other words, despite the connection being little to both shows, they seem to acknowledge the events of one another to some extent. One last thing to mention is that there were definite ties to Storybrooke and the real world.  I doubt we will ever see Alice again or the Genie, but Wonderland will be back in some form in the main show, I’m sure of it.

Returning to the main series, let’s talk about part 2 of Season 3.  Here is where I was highly interested, perhaps more than I’ve been in the whole series.  Why?  I’ve personally read all 15 of the original L Frank Baum Oz novels, so bringing that in here was more than a welcome sight for me.  Before I get into the main plot of this half, I’ll touch on the characters.  Aurora, Phillip and Mulan were underused as usual.  I almost don’t even want to see them in the show anymore unless some kind of good use -Season-3-once-upon-a-time-35653447-960-720for them is found.  Rapunzel’s addition felt rushed, and I HATE when they change the race or sex of a character.  (IE I don’t want to see a Black Indiana Jones or a white Blade).  It annoys me, and especially with Tangled being so fresh in my mind of Disney movies, I had an image of Rapunzel in my head.  Other than that, I don’t have an issue.

The new take on Lumiere (the candleabra) was interesting and refreshing.  Blackbeard and Glinda, though minor roles, served their purposes and worked well in the story.  Dorothy Gale coming to Oz was both hit and miss for me.  I liked what they did with her, and how the fairy tale was twisted, but again, this felt rushed.  I only hope we see more of her and Oz characters because in the long run, there is a lot of Oz that could still be used (even from the original characters we all know and love, that have yet to appear).

Now on to Zelena (The Wicked Witch of The West).  She truly was wicked.  I like the explanation of her green appearance (envy) and why she was so wicked.  She had similar goals as Jafar in Wonderland, but for different reasons.  The use of the flying monkeys and even the great wizard of Oz himself helped her to achieve her goals, but she still met her demise at the hands of Rumplestiltskin.

Of course, then we had the whole Captain Hook and Emma going back in time, but they sorted out the past and returned to a wonderful future.  Charming and Snow White named their newborn son Neil.  Emma embraced her magic and purpose and decided that her and Henry were going to stay in Storybrooke.  Rumplestiltskin and Belle married.  Regina and Robin Hood were happy together.

It was all a peaceful ending that made me worry.  I worried because I thought “This is it.”  Everyone has a happy ending.  There is no need for another season.  I’m so glad I was proven wrong, but now I have to wait until the Fall for more episodes.  Like Once Upon a Time normally does, we are left with massive cliffhangers.  In the last two minutes of the show’s season, we learn this.  Rumplestiltskin still has his own dagger, even though his wife believes that she is the one that has it.  This is sure to cause a problem in the future.  Regina, finally void of her Evil Queen status is suddenly screwed by Snow White’s family again, because the one person that Emma saved in the past was supposed to die.  That person was the Maiden Marion, who was married to Robin Hood and mother of his child.  This then takes Robin Hood away from Regina, and her vengeful “Evil Queen” may or may not emerge to exact vengeance upon Emma for ruining her happiness.

Somehow I think they will avoid this mostly.  Why?  Henry still believes and loves his step mother, Regina, as a good person now.  His love for her will stop her from being as vicious as she used to be.  Also Tinkerbelle predicted that Regina is destined to find happiness with the man with the wrist tattoo.  Now of course, this could have been redacted because of the whole time travel alteration, but I think that somehow they will work on getting Robin and Regina back on track.  After all, he can’t just ignore the feelings he has for her.

Let’s see.  What else?  Other than a fun Back to the Future reference, and a cameo by a stuffed Mickey Mouse doll, there was perhaps the biggest reveal of all.  Regina tells Emma that “You better hope you didn’t bring anything else from the past back with you.”  We find out that one of Rumplestiltskin’s artifacts came through the portal.  From it escapes a woman in a flowing blue dress and pale skin.  We don’t know what her face looks like, but if anyone has seen Frozen, then you know it is the Snow Queen herself, Elsa, as she freezes and shatters the artifact from which she emerged.

Other than the Frozen story coming to season 4, it has also been confirmed that the Knave of Hearts will be making his way onto the main show, and that Disney’s Brave and Princess and the Frog (retelling of the Frog Prince) will all be included in some manner.

This show keeps getting better, and I’ve learned to expect nothing except greatness and frustration on waiting for the next episode.  I give season 3 of Once Upon a time 9 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins, and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland gets 6 out of 10 coffins.  The reason I rate Wonderland lower is because of the obviously limited budget for the effects, and it really didn’t get compelling enough for me until the last 7 episodes.  What did you think of these shows and what do you speculate for the future of the series?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 236 other followers