Review: Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1

Cast: Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Franz Drameh, Ciara Renée, Falk Hentschel, Amy Pemberton, Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller

Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Phil Klemmer, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Chris Fedak, Sarah Nicole Jones, Beth Schwartz, Grainne Godfree, Ray Utarnachitt, Anderson MacKenzie, Cortney Norris, Matthew Malaa

Directors: Glen Winter, Dermott Downs, Antonio Negret, Steve Shill, Gregory Smith, Joe Dante, John F. Showalter, David Geddes, Thor Freudenthal, Rachel Talalay, Alice Troughton, Olatunde Osunsanmi

First there was Arrow. Then there was The Flash. Then there was Vixen. Now it seems The CW has gotten very ballsy with its DC Comics-related programming by creating a time-travel anthology show with all the B and C-list characters they could gather from Wikipedia. Some could interpret this as the network biting off a bit more than it can chew. Others could see it as a more positive alternative to the dark and depressing tone of the DC movie universe portrayed in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. In the end, what we end up with is a show fighting against itself.

The basic concept is that Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), a time traveller from the future, gathers a team of heroes and villains from 2016 to stop immortal dictator Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) from taking over the world and killing his family. While this seems like enough to be getting on with, the plot gets far more complicated than it ever needs to, with an assortment of groups and mercenaries with dismal character development determined to get in their way. Add the constant unmotivated double-crossing and the weird love square that the show seems to think viewers will care about, and you’ll forget all about the time travel elements of the show that actually make no sense.

There are, of course, an abundance of positive elements in the show. While Crump is inconsistent as the villain, the rest of the cast are incredible. You’d honestly think this was a Martin Scorsese film with the amount of effort they’re putting in. Caity Lotz and Wentworth Miller are particular highlights, both separately, just as they did when they appeared on Arrow and The Flash respectively, and together, with terrific chemistry between them. Another highlight is Franz Drameh, a relative newcomer in comparison to the rest of the cast, who has gone from strength to strength as the season went on, an advantage of having him paired up with Victor Garber on a regular basis. It’s worth pointing out also that the show isn’t even trying to hide the irony of casting Arthur Darvill as a time-traveller, albeit a more confident one.

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Unfortunately, the acting has to do the heavy lifting on this show quite a lot. The realities of network television mean that it’s impossible to make 16 hour-long episodes of pure spectacle. In fact, before the show was renewed for another season, there were rumours it would be cancelled simply because it cost too much. You can see why people would think this, as the show regularly decides to have bottle episodes peppered amongst the bigger event episodes, and spends far more time in the past than the future where CGI would play a bigger role. Budget issues even affect the characters themselves. In several episodes, Firestorm doesn’t burn, the Atom doesn’t shrink, Hawkgirl doesn’t fly, and the show doesn’t even try to offer a reason why. You’re just meant to accept it. This becomes a little bit difficult when their abilities could be so useful in so many scenarios.

Of course, you’d figure one of the most important elements in a time-travel show would be the time-travel itself. By the end of the season, you’d really wish it wasn’t. The rules explained by Rip only become more and more convoluted as it goes on. The show will start saying time is set, then it isn’t, then it is again. The team have to keep going further back into the past, then decide to screw the rules and go forward again, then go back, and forward again. And, this needs to be pointed out, because the show really doesn’t seem to get it, reincarnating characters don’t die, especially in a time-travel show. It could be argued that you shouldn’t pay attention to it and just enjoy the show, but it dedicates so much time to explaining itself through technobabble that you basically have to.

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A good note to make about this show is its investment in its own universe. The entire cast is pulled from Arrow and The Flash, save for Darvill, so it would have been difficult not to reference the shows they came from. However, the events of this season are shown to have great consequences for the characters of the other two shows, to the point of a dystopian future being created simply because they decided to go time-travelling, not by any direct action. Characters from both shows pop up all over the series, and it feels like they serve a purpose, rather than showing up for the sake of a cheap cameo. The best episode of Arrow in two years is in this show. Just think about that.

Ultimately, there’s a lot to like about this show. The cast is brilliant, and seeing the different time periods of a universe we’d seen for three years by the time this show started is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, it also has so many problems that really need to be ironed out by the time the next season rolls around. But for now, it gets a pass. Why? Because it’s just so fun, and these days it’s refreshing to have a TV show that’s fun.

Rating: 3/5 reincarnated Carters

Review: Doctor Who – Series 9

Cast: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman

Writers: Steven Moffat, Toby Whithouse, Jamie Mathieson, Catherine Tregenna, Peter Harness, Mark Gatiss, Sarah Dollard

Directors: Paul Wilmshurst, Hettie MacDonald, Daniel O’Hara, Ed Bazalgette, Daniel Nettheim, Justin Molotnikov, Rachel Talalay

It’s hard to believe that a little over ten years ago, Doctor Who was but a fondly-remembered but increasingly-derided sci-fi show of yesteryear, doomed to wallow in the continuity of its own expanded universe. But then, in 2005, Russell T Davies pioneered its comeback, and we’re now ten years and four (maybe five) Doctors into this new era of the TARDIS. Peter Capaldi takes his second series as the titular Time Lord, and it’s ended up being the most experimental series yet.

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Review: Jessica Jones – Season 1

Cast: Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Wil Traval, Erin Moriarty, Eka Darville, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Tennant

Writers: Melissa Rosenberg, Micah Schraft, Liz Friedman, Scott Reynolds, Hilly Hicks, Jr., Dana Baratta, Edward Ricourt, Jenna Reback

Directors: S.J. Clarkson, David Petrarca, Stephen Surjik, Simon Cellan Jones, John Dahl, Rosemary Rodriguez, Uta Briesewitz, Billy Gierhart, Michael Rymer

When Daredevil was announced amongst the series of Netflix shows to be created by Marvel Studios, there were many concerns, including how to get past the Ben Affleck-starring film from 2003, and how Marvel would handle darker, adult content. But it went on to win the hearts of both critics and fans alike. As a result, the second show from the Netflix/Marvel deal, Jessica Jones, seems to have a lot less pressure on it, despite being only the second product from the Marvel stable to have a female lead. Yet Jessica Jones seems very keen to push the limits even further, and succeeds on many fronts.

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Review: Dr. Dre – Compton

Featured artists: King Mez, Justus, Kendrick Lamar, Marsha Ambrosius, Candice Pillay, BJ the Chicago Kid, Anderson .Paak, Xzibit, Cold 187um, Sly Pyper, Ice Cube, Dem Jointz, Jon Connor, Snoop Dogg, The Game, Asia Bryant, Jill Scott, Eminem

Producers: Dr. Dre (also exec.), Focus…, DJ Dahi, Free School, Dem Jointz, Bink!, DJ Khalil, Best Kept Secret, D.R.U.G.S., Trevor Lawrence, Neff-U, Cardiak, DJ Premier, BMB Spacekid, DJ Silk, Mista Choc

Dragons. Orcs. Trolls. Griffins. Vampires. Werewolves. A list of legendary creatures that spread through stories and tales, used to entertain children and adults alike with a mere thought of their existence. This list also used to include Dr. Dre’s Detox, an album from one of the greatest producers of all time, the Chinese Democracy for the hip-hop generation. And while we probably never will see Detox, at least a new Dr. Dre album can no longer be a punchline with the release of Compton, to tie in with the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.

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Review: Ant-Man

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, T.I., Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Michael Douglas

Director: Peyton Reed

Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd

Marvel Studios have been on a massive winning streak since they sparked their “cinematic universe” with Iron Man in 2008. However, whenever Marvel laid out their plans out even before then, they also announced Ant-Man, an Edgar Wright-directed project surrounding one of their C-list properties. Since then, we’ve had eleven films under the Marvel Studios banner, some of which have become the highest-grossing films of all-time, and Edgar Wright unceremoniously left the project once it entered pre-production in 2013. Hence, there’s suddenly a lot of pressure on a film which would seem to be far lower-stakes fare than The Avengers or Iron Man.

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Top Five Most Anticipated Games for the Rest of 2015

We now come to the last of my rest-of-year anticipation lists – this time, it’s games. For those who haven’t already, check out my similar lists of albums, TV shows and movies. We have plenty of games to look forward to in the coming months and here’s a look at what I’m anticipating for the rest of the year.

Continue reading Top Five Most Anticipated Games for the Rest of 2015