If Daredevil managed to prove anything back when it was first released, it was that the ABC stylings of Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter were not going to define the TV side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Significantly darker than anything we’d seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far but still managing to avoid the joyless grit of films like Man of Steel, Daredevil used it’s tone to tell a fascinating long form story with one of, if not the, best antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at that time. Sure, Daredevil had issues (ones that are becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of Jessica Jones), but it created a baseline for the Netflix/Marvel Studios shows that Jessica Jones adheres to nicely.
It is the same Hell’s Kitchen from Daredevil that we find ourselves in for much of Jessica Jones. We follow our titular character as she attempts to make a living for herself as a Private Eye, but Jessica is significantly more than she appears – gifted with super-strength and very limited flying abilities, she gave up her attempt at super-heroics after a prolonged encounter with a man who can control minds, Kilgrave, left her with severe PTSD.
In case that basic synopsis isn’t enough of a clue, the topics that Jessica Jones deals with are sensitive ones. Although the idea of mind control has been used in various ways in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before now, it’s never been explored in such detail – the implication of somebody being able to control not just your actions but your very thoughts and emotions is naturally horrifying, and the loss of agency that comes with that haunts everyone that Kilgrave uses. And it isn’t just an allegory for rape or sexual abuse – Jessica herself is a rape survivor thanks to Kilgrave, and much of the shows focus on human sexuality (and the diverse nature of it) shows us her taking that aspect of herself back from Kilgrave. One of my only concerns going into Jessica Jones was that this aspect of the show would be handled poorly, in an exploitative way or used for shock value, but I’m pleased to say that it isn’t.
If some of that sounds a little heavy for a superhero show then you’ll be pleased to find out that Jessica Jones isn’t just a superhero show, at least not in the way that you might expect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very ‘comic book’ at times, with multiple characters having superpowers and the show having subtle (and not so subtle) links to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe – but in much that same way that Daredevil was a crime show first and a superhero show second, Jessica Jones is very film noir for much of its run time, with Jessica the cynical and jaded narrator talking us through her thoughts. She’s a fascinating character to base a show around, in some ways the prototypical noir protagonist – deeply damaged and self-destructive (particularly in her coping mechanisms) but also truly heroic when given the chance, she isn’t so much an anti-hero as she is a hero who has been through too much, and thanks to an emotional and often understated performance from Krysten Ritter I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.
The entire supporting cast is on the whole pretty great, particularly Mike Colter as bulletproof bar owner Luke Cage and Carrie-Anne Moss as cut-throat lawyer Jeri Hogarth, but special mention has to be made to David Tennant as Kilgrave. The way he is written and how that ties into the subtext of Jessica Jones already meant that Kilgrave was destined to be the best villain in a Marvel Studios production to date, but Tennant’s performance takes that and elevates the entire thing to a new level, making Kilgrave one of the best villains of any comic book property that I’ve ever seen. Kilgrave is broken at a fundamental level, petty and cruel and completely lacking any concept of right and wrong thanks to how long he has been abusing his powers, and the result of that is that he has no regard for anyone beyond what they can do for him. His motivations are simple and make sense in a twisted way once you understand the character, which just makes his particular brand of villainy all the more disturbing – because people like Kilgrave (sans powers, obviously) exist in the real world.
He is effectively the living embodiment of entitlement, a disgusting human being without a moral compass who decides what to do based on what he wants right now and nothing more – but he’s also charming when he wants to be, a true manipulator who hides just how nasty he actually is behind a carefully crafted façade of niceness and a level of self-pity that is both understandable and almost certainly unearned, and Tennant balances these two sides of the character perfectly. More impressively, Jessica Jones isn’t afraid to humanise Kilgrave without ever justifying him – his back story is a sympathetic one, but we see other characters with much the same story who have taken a very different path, and the show doesn’t try to explain away his actions by making you feel sorry for him.
The fact that everything about Kilgrave ends up tying into the subtext and themes of Jessica Jones is a testament to how well written the show actually is, never mind the consistently high quality of each episode . Whereas Daredevil peaked very early on and very slowly went downhill from there (I should mention here that Daredevil was still never anything less than good even in its worst moments), Jessica Jones starts off good and continuously gets better until it peaks around about episode nine with what I can only describe as some of the best few episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. It does drop in quality slightly over the last few episodes with the introduction of sub-plots that the show doesn’t need and an increased focus on the most tertiary of side characters taking some of the momentum out of the build up to the final confrontation, but even here it is amongst some of the best television of the year.
Jessica Jones isn’t perfect, but the minor flaws it contains are more than made up for by the multitude of strengths that come with them. In a time when television is regularly giving us shows that raise the bar for what the small screen can offer, Jessica Jones still manages to stand out as a show worth paying attention to, a legitimately great season that would work just as well on its own as it does as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jessica Jones is stronger and more confident in its first season than the vast majority of shows ever manage to be, and I can’t wait to see what the Netflix/Marvel Studios partnership brings us next.
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Minority Report is set 10 years after the events that took place in the Steven Spielberg directed movie, but instead of Tom Cruise attempting to prevent crimes before they occur, it’s Meagan Good who’s serving up her own brand of justice as Detective Vega.
The show opens with a recap of the events of the movie and origin of the three Precogs. It then jumps 10 years into the future, where we learn at least one of the trio as left their island sanctuary. That island living was good for them, because they are all a lot thinner and more attractive.
Precog Dash is back in D.C. trying to make it on his own. He has flashes of murders, but he doesn’t get the whole picture (he needs his twin to put the pieces together). After witnessing a murder 40 minutes in the future, he dashes (pun intended) to try and stop. He arrives just a moment too late.
Enter Detective Vega (Meagan Good). She is a homicide detective investigating the recent murder. She lives in the shadow of the now defunct Precrime (the first fifteen minutes has several news reports in the background stating how things have become worse since Precrime closed). Murder is back with a vengeance in D.C. and Vega can’t help but marvel at the days when unnatural deaths were extinct in the nation’s capital. As she is leaving the scene of the murder she is followed by Dash. After an encounter in an vacant stairway he gives her a drawing of the killer. Vega is able to run down the killer with the image and begins looking for the mysterious informant. She easily finds him (no one can hide in the future!), moments before he has another Precog episode about a murder to take place the next day. Vega and Dash team up to stop the murder of a prominent politician and his wife.
Here are some things I noticed about the show:
- Dash’s murder insights come in a variety of timeframes. From several seconds, to forty minutes, to a day, but not the four days they enjoyed in the movie (for premeditated murder).
- Minority Report, the film, is famous for predicting several key technologies, such as multi-touch interfaces and breeding crack babies who can see the future. This pilot tries to capture that magic; with HUD contacts, small surveillance drones, and the future of advertising.
- Dash’s twin brother doesn’t look much like him as an adult (in the kid flashbacks, they are identical).
- They did manager to get one actor from the film. Daniel London reprises his role as Wally the Caretaker, at least for the pilot.
- The show seems to be going out of its way to make sure we know that Meagan Good is a woman.
Overall I thought the pilot was okay, but I feel like the detective with the none-cop partner has been done. I’m thinking of Sleepy Hollow, Forever (canceled), Castle, Bones, Due South, Rizolli and Isles, Fringe, just to name…a bunch. Are there any detectives out there who are partnered with other cops?
Anyways, Minority Report. If you loved the movie for all the elements that weren’t Tom Cruise, you might like the TV show.
Recently the live chat movie night has been reborn. Several movies have been watched and commented on. One recent one was the classic 1951 film “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.
This weekend, Fox released their latest Marvel comic book adaptation, a reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. The previous two Fantastic Four films weren’t very well received, and Fox was likely hoping to cash in on the post-Iron Man comics boom to change that perception. If so, it didn’t work out as they’d hoped. What follows is a review of the movie, what went right, what went wrong, and where Fox may go from here.
The movie wasn’t terrible. Despite what you might read on Rotten Tomatoes, this wasn’t anywhere near the worst comic book movie I’ve seen; it’s not even the worst comic book movie Fox has ever released. For starters, it’s definitely an improvement on the previous Fantastic Four and Rise of the Silver, not to mention Daredevil and Elektra. Having said that, it doesn’t hold up well at all compared to the Marvel Studios movies, or X-Men franchise. If anything, the movie was disappointingly mediocre. Mediocre, because it’s just kind of there: there’s a story, and it occurs, and there’s people and they get powers and they sort-of use them, but by the end of the film, you feel like they never got around to the interesting part. And disappointing, because it could have been better: it’s obvious that there was a much better movie just begging to be released, but we’ll likely never get to see it. Adding to the disappointment is the fact that the trailer promised so much more: whatever movie that trailer was from, I would have much rather seen that than Fantastic Four.
In the end, it wasn’t a complete waste of time — it wasn’t offensively bad coughcoughGhostRider2coughcough. But I don’t really think there’s much of an audience that’s going to be happy to pay for this movie. If you’re a fan of the Fantastic Four, this movie will anger you, and if you’re a fan of superhero movies, it will disappoint you. (For reference: its the first Marvel movie since before Iron Man that I’m not going to see twice, and that includes Thor 2).
Rating: 2/10 (mostly for the acting and the first act); wait for Netflix.
For the rest of this review, there will be some broad spoilers, so if you’re planning to go see it, you might want to stop and come back later. But since you probably aren’t, you can read on…
I recently signed up for a trial membership of Kindle Unlimited to find new reading material. Like so many others, I discovered their “100,000s” of books were most ones no one had ever heard of. They have a few stand out series, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings, but the vast majority of their unlimited selection is comprised of titles and authors few have heard of.
On a whim I decided to choose a science fiction series titled The Solarian War Saga by Felix R. Savage.
The first book, The Galapagos Incident introduces us to a future where humankind has spread out throughout the Solar System. The main protagonist is Elfrida Goto, a half Japanese woman who is working on the United Nations Venus Remediation Project. This is an effort to make Venus habitable. They acquire asteroids, load them with some kind of organisms that can survive the 600 degree weather, and crash them into Venus. Elfrida uses remote viewing (think Surrogates 2009) to attempt to acquire asteroids and relocate any settlers who may be already there. Things turn dicey when her remote body’s machine intelligence appears to have its own agenda and goes rogue.
The series tries to imagine a future where technology has taken us to the point of remote sensory, bionic implants, and highly advanced artificial intelligence. These intelligences are so advanced that the United Nations (the supreme authority on everything in this future) has placed bans on just how smart machines can be. This was a direct response to some incident on Mars that resulted in all colonies being lost there and the planet going dark.
The writing might lack a little at times, and the science doesn’t hold up to a lot of scrutiny, but I enjoyed the series none the less. After reading the The Galapagos Incident I continued on to The Vesta Conspiracy, The Mercury Rebellion, and finished with the short story prequel Crapkiller (an ill advised title in my mind). People who enjoy a good space opera might enjoy visiting the future of Felix R. Savage for a few books.
The first book is available for free on Amazon, and the series is available via an Amazon Unlimited subscription (or trial).
From the moment it was announced, Ant-Man was viewed as a bit of a risky move by Marvel. Even for a comic book movie, a guy that gets really small and talks to ants seemed like a bit of a stretch. Could they make it work? Would this be the beginning of the end for Marvel?
Of course not. Marvel doesn’t seem capable of making a genuinely terrible movie, and Ant-Man was far, far away from terrible. Following up on epic adventures like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel gives us a small, fun, and funny heist movie that more than delivers.
The short version: 9/10, definite watch, and do so in 3-D if possible. One of my favorite MCU movies yet, largely because it’s something different from what we’ve gotten so far. For more details, keep reading.
Note: There will be very minor spoilers here for some elements of the movie; I will try not to give away anything major, but you may want to skip this one until you’ve seen it. If you’re willing to risk it, click on down:
The film that put James Cameron on the map, The Terminator is quite rightly seen as a science fiction classic, a film that has had enormous impact on modern pop culture thanks to both the lasting impression that The Terminator made and the huge career boost that James Cameron received afterwards. Without The Terminator, I very much doubt that we would have seen the rest of James Cameron’s filmography come to fruition, never mind the number of actors that he has since helped turn into film stars.
The story follows Kyle Reese as he travels back in time from a post-apocalyptic future in which an artificial intelligence known as Skynet has taken over the world. His mission is to protect Sarah Connor from a killing machine known as a Terminator that was also sent back in time to kill her thanks to the fact that she is destined to give birth to the leader of the human resistance.
The time travel mechanic is a creative and tidy way to set the story in motion, and allows James Cameron to hint at the much larger world he has created without it getting in the way of the progression of the story and the momentum that is being built from the very start. It also allows Cameron to easily explain why Kyle can’t call for back up, and why the police and authorities are simply unable to help – it’s a very smart way of ensuring that their is no easy way out for the main characters, keeping them isolated and on the run for the entire movie.
Which is important, because at it’s core The Terminator is little more than a slasher flick with a science fiction flair. The Terminator itself is the ultimate slasher bad guy, a silent, expressionless, intimidating and virtually unstoppable killing machine that is never too far behind our heroes, who are hopelessly outmatched. The best example of this is during the now iconic assault on the police station – even dozens of cops on their home turf can’t do anything to stop the Terminator, really upping the ante and making the Terminator feel as dangerous and unstoppable as it is meant to be, while at the same time showing us how capable Kyle Reese must be to have successfully fought the Terminator off several times before now.
Potentially more important, The Terminator manages to avoid the casual misogyny and conservative politics that are now synonymous with the slasher genre, defining itself as markedly different during a time when slasher flicks saturated the market – no doubt a part of why The Terminator was both a critical and commercial success in it’s time and why it still stands up as a solid piece of film making over 30 years after it’s initial release.
It’s also worth pointing out how well developed the relationship between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor is in The Terminator when compared to Terminator Genisys, and it’s mostly because of the subtle but important character work that the The Terminator does with Sarah Connor both before and after her first encounter with Kyle Reese. You can understand completely why a vulnerable and scared Sarah Connor would seek comfort in the only man in the world that knows what she is going through, but the equivalent of this in Terminator Genisys is (like everything else in the film) rushed, forced and ultimately unsatisfying.
And the only reason that this all works as intended is because of Cameron’s ability to recognise and work within his limits. His original idea for The Terminator also included a liquid metal robot that would go on to be the primary antagonist in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but he cut it because he knew that the visual effects available in 1984 weren’t good enough to do the idea justice. This restraint is noticeable throughout The Terminator, which saves it’s limited special effects for important moments and manages to do more with it’s modest budget (just $6 million!) than films that cost upwards of 20 times as much – I’m looking at you, Terminator Genisys.
I still stand by my opinion that The Terminator should never have been a franchise, with the phrase “diminishing returns” very much applicable to the series after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but that’s neither here nor there – The Terminator is a testament to the importance of inexperienced directors being given the opportunity to prove themselves, showing us the potential longevity of a film when an idea is executed well by someone who knows what they are doing. Even if The Terminator has since been overshadowed by it’s own sequel, it’s still an important and entertaining film that shouldn’t go under appreciated.
For more film and TV review and other articles like this, visit ScreenNerds.
As seems to be the trend these days, the first episode of an upcoming show has been released a bit early, though this time officially. The show is Stichers, and it’s a summer show for the ABC Family network. The full episode can be found as an exclusive on the EW website.
Here is a short, spoiler-free review of this new sci-fi show.
The basic premise of the show is a strange mash-up of Inception, Source Code, and iZombie. A top secret, unnamed government agency has developed technology that lets them inject the mind of a living person into the memories of a recently-deceased one, to extract information that person took to the grave and help solve crimes. The main character, Kristen, is a college student with a particularly odd (and, as far as I can tell, entirely fictional) condition called “temporal dysplasia”, which means she has no concept of the passage of time. This makes her perfectly suited for use in the memory device, and the episode shows us her first pass at using it. Once inside, Kristen can walk freely around the memories, even manipulate them to some degree, though she can’t physically touch anything. For memories tied to particularly strong emotions, she can also get drawn fully into the experience, feeling the emotions as if she were there and dragging up other, related memories from the subjects’ subconscious.
The episode follows the main character as she gets recruited into this new world, as well as showing us some of the problems her condition is causing in her private life, and how they eventually collide. The show made really good use of some simple effects and editing to show what it was like going “inside” someone else’s mind, saving most of their FX budget for one really flashy explosion. It was subtle, but clear, what was going on.
Though this is a science fiction show, it’s mostly a procedural with science-fiction elements (similar to, say, Almost Human). All the expected elements are there: a government agency no one knows about, a team of anti-social tech geniuses, the main character who lives to flaunt the rules, the overbearing boss who yells at everyone, and even a best friend who’s pulled into the drama early for a really lame reason. They work pretty well together, though the addition of the roommate to the “team” seemed forced and unnecessary. (However, as she is played by veteran SyFy actor Allison Scagliotti, of Warehouse 13 fame, I will at no point complain.)
The show has a similar tone to my previous favorite ABC Family show – Kyle XY – in that the show isn’t really about the science. The science fiction aspect is just there, everyone just accepts that it’s real, and moves on to the actual plot. On the plus side, if you ignore the dead-brain interface, the rest of the technology in the show stands up better than a lot of highly popular network shows. Though the main character and her roommate are both “IT geniuses”, most of what they do is at least plausibly based in reality — dressed up for TV as you expect, but nowhere near Scorpion or NCIS levels of stupidity.
The main problem I had with the show was that most the characters spent at least a small part of the episode being cliches, with some worse than others. Kirsten, has a mental disorder that basically makes her a psychopath: because she can’t “feel time passing”, she has no sense of emotional attachment or loss. (Someone close to her dies early on and she shows no distress because, as she explains, the minute she knew he had died, it was like he had always been dead.) She really plays up this aspect of her character in how she treats other people; the show is desperately trying to paint her as a young female House. That worked for Hugh Laurie, but didn’t work out so well for Rainn Wilson. In my opinion, they need to tone that down a bit or the character will turn people off.
The boss character, played by another SyFy veteran (Eureka‘s Salli Richardson-Whitfield), also felt a bit wooden to me. In this case, I can’t really pinpoint where I lost interest, but she’s playing the “head of a black ops agency” bit in a very paint-by-numbers way. Hopefully she’ll begin to show some personality, once we’ve established just how in charge she is.
The other characters were not quite as bad, though the lead nerd in the show had a few fragments of extremely terrible dialogue, especially during the scene where Kirsten goes under for the first time. There’s also the standard attempts at establishing nerd cred (he asks for a list of Doctor Who actors in a way that no Doctor Who fan would ever do), and some obvious fan service (the “Cat Woman” suit designed by the even-more-cliche nerd sidekick.) The only character on the show that showed a consistently realistic personality was the roommate, Allison Scagliotti’s character, and I hope they’re smart enough to give her screen time to show it.
Overall, I found the show to be about as enjoyable as I expected. It’s a summer show and it’s on ABC family, so I wasn’t expecting Game of Thrones. Science fiction is rare on ABC Family (unless you count Ravenwood…) but this time, it seems like they did a pretty good job. It seems like it will probably stand up well against the summer fare coming out of SyFy, and give me something to watch while I wait for the return of Arrow. That’s really all I can ask.
I’d give it an even 5/10, and a try to catch it.
This fall, CBS will begin airing a new superhero show Supergirl. This series has a lot in common with the highly popular CW shows Arrow and The Flash. The new show shares the same executive producers, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, and all three are based on popular characters from the DC Comics universe. The new show has a tone somewhat reminiscent of The Flash. It also has one more thing in common: reminiscent of last years unauthorized release of The Flash pilot episode, the premier episode of Supergirl has been leaked six months early.
Leaving aside the details of how and why this leak happened, since it did, we get an early look at the show in much more depth than the officially released trailer gave us. Without giving away too much, here are some first impressions of the show, and how well it stacks up to the growing competition in the comic-adaptation space.
First of all, just to be clear: this is being called the “pilot” episode, but it’s not really a traditional pilot. It’s is obviously a final product – S01E01 of the series, with all of the final cast in place and post-production work done. This is good news and bad news. Good news, because we get a faithful representation of what the show will be like for the rest of the season, but bad news because there probably won’t be much chance to fix things that might be broken. (I may be wrong here, we shall see.)
Generally speaking, I think the show is much better than the trailer led us to believe. I still have concerns over where the focus of the show will be, but the pilot seems to be moving in the right direction. The main complaint about the trailer has been how much time was spent on the mundane details of Kara Danver’s life. Was that an indication that the show was trying too hard to attract a broader audience, at the expense of the core superheroine story? I think the pilot gives us good reason to think that’s not the case. I thought the episode had a nice mix of straight up action, character development, and laying groundwork for the rest of the series. It has about the same mix of heroic plot vs. dramatic development that it’s sister shows on the CW did during their first episodes.
The Good Stuff
The first thing that struck me was how little time this show wasted getting the basic exposition out of the way. Within the first 5 minutes of the episode — basically, the opening stinger — most of the plot questions people had from the trailer are answered, right up front. They let us know quickly what’s happened already and where the world sits. It’s also clear that these writers have worked on DC shows before, and they know their stuff, which is a good sign.
Without giving too much away, the show follows the basics of Kara Zor-El’s modern origin story: sent to Earth as a young girl to protect infant Kal-El, an accident causes her to arrive much later. By the time Kara arrives on Earth, Kal-El is fully grown and has revealed his existence. Supergirl is set in a world where Superman is a household name, though the show goes to extreme measures to avoid using the S-word (there are lots of reference to “he”, “him”, and “my cousin”.) The reason for her delay is explained, but it’s a key element to what looks to be the first season’s story arc, so I won’t go into any more detail.
I really like that this show didn’t have your traditional superhero origin story structure, not even for the first episode. Kara was 12 years old when she left Krypton for Earth, and was made fully aware of the special powers she would have. As we see in the trailer, once she decides to embrace her super side, the show jumps right into the heroics: in the first episode, we see flying, super-strength, x-ray vision, invulnerability, and heat vision. Watching Clark Kent come into his powers, and struggle to master them, can be interesting (it was done very well on Smallville; maybe less well in Man of Steel), but it’s been done. We’ve spent three seasons watching Oliver Queen on Arrow become the Green Arrow, we don’t need to spend a whole season waiting for Kara to figure out she can see through walls.
I also like the fact that the show has a nice upbeat tone, much like The Flash, and in stark contrast to the current DC cinematic universe. The show is bright and colorful, and most of the people are generally happy, or at least content. Thus, when Kara has an emotional moment with her sister, it actually seems important — the character’s not just moping around because that’s how she is. There’s also a lot of friendly banter and humor thrown in. I’ve talked to a lot of casual fans who watch The Flash but not Arrow or Gotham for exactly this reason – it’s just more fun to watch. This show was fun to watch.
The Less-Good Stuff
Of course, there were some places where the show seemed to miss the mark. For one thing, much of the character development seems rushed, or even forced. In parts, watching the pilot was almost like watching a really long trailer — it felt like there was chopped up from a longer, more coherent scene. For example, the Supergirl costume montage from the trailer happens at just about that speed in the episode: we go from an obvious fan-service first try to final outfit, including a Kryptonian powers montage — just a few minutes. It seems like the scene was meant to set up the relationship between Kara and her sidekick/support-nerd, but everything happens so fast there’s no real impact.
Several other character development plot threads (e.g. Kara’s blind date) seem like they’re supposed to be giving us characterization, but they’re moved past and forgotten so quickly they don’t mean much. And much of the banter seems a bit forced, like it’s desperately trying to drive home just how comfortable these characters are together, even in a situation where they probably shouldn’t be!
They’re also falling into a pattern that drives me crazy on The Flash — Kara’s secret identity is almost an afterthought. When the show starts, only four people know she’s Kryptonian — her family. When the show ends, we’ve added at least three more! Please, please lets keep that number down for at least a half a season?
Hopefully we can chalk all of that up to this being the first episode, trying to get the characters and their relationships settled and in place, so we can get to the good stuff. The second episode will be crucial in determining if this will be an ongoing problem for the show.
Another miss, for me, was the Kat Grant character. Calitsa Flockhart is obviously channeling Meryl Streep from The Devil Wears Prada, but that’s a huge set of shoes to fill, and it comes across cliche. Even worse, she completely drops that act when it’s time for her to be serious and sensitive, then goes right back into it. She almost comes across as having a split personality.
And really, there’s just too much of her. Perry White or J. Jonah Jameson play mostly bit parts in their shows: they’re foils for the other, primary characters that work for them, and rarely the focus of any scene. Kat Grant, on the other hand, dominates all of her scenes with Kara, and not merely in a keeping-her-secret-identity way. She really does completely overpower Supergirl’s personality, but doesn’t really add much to the scenes. I was constantly wanting to fast forward past her scenes. In seems like they’re positioning her character as a kind of surrogate mother figure for Kara (though, as far as we know, her adopted parents are alive), but most of the time she just comes of needlessly harsh. Perhaps the writers plan to use this dynamic to show Kara’s personality changing as her confidence grows, but if so, I hope they get to it fast, because I was completely sick of Kat Grant by the end of this episode.
Lastly, and perhaps most annoyingly, is how much this show wanted to be about Superman without being allowed (I assume) to say Superman. It’s obvious that Kal-El is the far more famous of the two cousins, and by tying Kara’s story in with his, it lets us fast forward past a lot of otherwise tedious exposition. But the number of times Kara’s cousin comes up in conversation got old very quickly. The fact that they try so hard to avoid naming him makes it even worse. During the opening exposition scene, they identify him as Kal-El and Superman but after that, we only get one occurance of “Man of Steel”. Instead, Kara would frequently talk about “him” in a way that we’re supposed to know who she’s talking about. Obviously, since she’s related to Superman, it’s going to come up, but the point of this show is that Kara is a hero in her own right. She doesn’t need to have her now-older cousin’s specter towering over her all the time. Much like Gotham is not about Batman, Supergirl should not be about Superman. Hopefully this will dwindle away as the episodes continue — we’ve gotten the idea, lets move on.
I think this is going to be a good show. The major elements I think are there. While I have some issues with some of the dialogue, I think the actors themselves mostly have their characters nailed. Melissa Benoist, in particular, seemed to have no problem carrying the show when she needed to, although her Kara Zor-El was much more believable than her Kara Danvers. The central relationship with her sister seemed genuine (jury’s still out on the other two budding relationships). There’s a good hook that should provide good fodder for the early villain-of-the-week episodes, with hints of the broader story arc as well.
This isn’t going to be a show for the hard-core DC comic fans, though. It’s clearly meant for a broader audience, even more than any of the other DC shows on TV so far. Constantine this is not. But I’d make the same assessment about The Flash and that’s turned out to be one of my favorite DC shows to watch, so don’t let that discourage you from giving this one a try.
Overall, I would probably rate this show at about 7 out of 10. I’m not quite as enthusiastic about it as compared to Arrow, The Flash, or even Agents of SHIELD. I would probably rate it somewhere in my top 10 comics-based shows, around where iZombie and (likely) Legends of Tomorrow are sitting.
Definitely worth watching.
If you are familiar with the 1950 animated production of Cinderella also produced by Disney, then the latest live-action version may not offer anything new to you. This new version is simply a retelling of that 1950s classic. Both versions are derived from Cendrillon, by Charles Perrault in 1697; Featuring a girl forced into servitude, a fairy godmother, the changing of pumpkins and animals into a coach with horses and footmen, and glass slippers.
The casting is spot on. Lily James as Ella plays the part of the humble country girl well. Cate Blanchett is the perfect evil step-mother, because this is how you believe she acts in real life. When asked by Cinderella why she is treated as she is Blanchett says “Because you are young, and beautiful, and good.” and then stops herself. The realization is that the step-mother is none of these things and resents Cinderella for it. The two step-sisters are sufficiently stuck up and insensitive, and the goose plays a convincing goose. Richard Madden plays the Prince, who is given something of a nickname of “Kit,” but does not go by the name of “Prince Charming.”
The primary complaint I heard about the film is that it offers nothing new to the Cinderella story. It is essentially a retelling of the animated version, despite what the previews claim. Because the last year’s Maleficent changed and added to the story of Sleeping Beauty, the expectation, for some, was that this new Cinderella would do the same. The example given was Ever After: A Cinderella Story which seemed to add a lot of new detail or circumstance to the Cinderella story. However, the differences can likely be explained that Ever After is closer to the Brothers Grimm version Aschenputtel than to the version Disney chose to base their films on.
There are no songs in this film, and the mice do not talk, although Cinderella clearly has some innate ability to communicate with animals. We are also given explanation of why she is named ‘Cinderella.’ I am sure many people have always assumed her name was simply ‘Cinderella’ without question. But the title character’s first name is actual Ella, and transforms into Cinderella.
Bottom-line, if you enjoy the classic Disney animated film and want to see a live-action version of that, then Cinderella will be right up your alley. If you are expecting Disney to evolve the character from their established story line, then you may be in for disappointment.