REVIEW: THE BOYS – SEASON 1

Starring

Karl Urban (Dredd)
Elisabeth Shue (Piranha 3D)
Laz Alonso (Straw Dogs)
Jack Quaid (Logan Lucky)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones)
Tomer Kapon (Wedding Doll)
Antony Starr (Outrageous Fortune)
Dominique McElligott (Leap Year)
Jessie Usher (Shaft)
Chace Crawford (Eloise)
Nathan Mitchell (IZombie)

Erin Moriarty and Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Simon Pegg (Ready Player One)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
Ann Cusack (Tank Girl)
Shaun Benson (ARQ)
Jimmy Fallon (Almost Famous)
Colby Minifie (Jessica Jones)
David Andrews (Terminator 3)
Brittany Allen (Falling Water)
Malcolm Barrett (Timeless)
Tara Reid (Sharknado)
Brit Morgan (Supergirl)
Jess Salgueiro (Mary Kills People)
Billy Zane (The Phantom)
Shantel VanSanten (The Flash)
Haley Joel Osment (A.I.)
John Doman (Gotham)
Brendan Beiser (Andromeda)
Jim Beaver (Breaking Bad)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Hallea Jones (Let It Snow)

 

Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)
Traditional superhero lore primarily revolves around individuals who inadvertently (and sometimes reluctantly) step into their saviour destinies. Typically, these superheroes are cognisant of the public’s reverence for their abilities, yet they often choose to either live on the fringes of or blend seamlessly into society. The few who publicly embrace their fame manage to maintain their moral compass despite ever-present temptation and opportunities to make negative choices.Laz Alonso and Karl Urban in The Boys (2019)In 2006, The Boys comic book explored this concept through a hyper-violent and decidedly darker lens, questioning what would happen if these figures became tainted by their social status. Now, The Boys TV series, set to premiere on Amazon Prime on July 26, expounds on this alternative premise. In a world dominated by corporate greed, approval ratings, social media stats, a clan of superheroes bends the rules to their whim, and a group of everyday people tries to stop them.Ann Cusack and Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)The  series, developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen, is everything that fans of the Gareth Ennis (Preacher, The Punisher)-penned comic expect it to be – gory, diabolical, and unapologetically blunt with an undercurrent of social commentary. But, it’s also an easy saga for viewers coming straight to the show to follow. The costuming, action sequences, and cinematography are solid for a TV production and the plot mostly maintains a steady pace with pivotal moments that work well for a streaming service style release. And, there’s just enough expository information revealed in the first few episodes to set the stage for a packed ending to its first season. There’s already strong speculation concerning The Boys season two, so there will likely be several loose threads in the finale.Karen Fukuhara in The Boys (2019)The Boys obviously leans on its source material for a general framework; however, a few tweaks, including protagonist Hughie Campbell’s background, are made. In the TV adaptation, Campbell (Jack Quaid, The Hunger Games) is a tech store employee who’s afraid to stand for himself or take risks to change his mundane existence – which makes him much more relatable to the general audience than his comic counterpart. The plot swiftly puts Hughie’s vigilante arc in motion after (as revealed in the trailer) his girlfriend Robin is gruesomely obliterated by A-Train, a speedster and member of the dominant superhero (aka “supes”) collective known as the Seven.Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)Robin’s unintentional death is written off as collateral damage by Vought International, a massive superhero marketing and management company that dominates the United States, led by the pleasingly ruthless and ingeniously manipulative Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue). Her character is the first of several who are either gender or race swapped, but it’s permissible since none of their backgrounds are inextricably tied to their origin stories. Hughie’s difficulty processing Robin’s death and mounting anxiety attacks over realising the supes’ indomitable influence is interrupted by Billy Butcher, portrayed by Star Trek’s Karl Urban, a vigilante whose mission to eliminate superheroes leads to the formation of The Boys. His accent is a bit iffy at points, but Urban fully embodies the role of a madman with a singular focus, dishing out a level of charismatic energy and sharp wit that’s incredibly fun to watch. Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonzo) and Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) round out the vengeful quartet characters who consistently challenge and surprise each other with their ingenuity when they aren’t butting heads over sticking to the script. The fifth leg of their crew, simply named Female, comes into play but it’s not clear how this person will fit into their overall mission.Karl Urban and Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)The internal examination of Vought and Seven’s corrupt partnership filters through Annie “Starlight” January (Erin Moriarty), the newest member of the elite Seven who realises that her dream job is full of smoke and mirrors. Her childhood crush on a renowned idol is shattered when he uses it as a sickening abuse of power and she struggles with maintaining her creed as a hero and meeting the expectations of her proud mother in the midst of constant coercion. Starlight manages to swiftly gain her footing in this sphere as she goes off-script to push back against her employer’s ridiculous standards. She’s truly good at heart with badass powers, so perhaps she will be treated well in the TV series and given the space to have an impactful arc. Hughie and Starlight’s paths cross in the most mundane way and sets up an inner conflict for the former about his motivations. It’s a classic case of falling in love with the supposed enemy who shows that everyone on the other side isn’t a monolith but, thankfully, it doesn’t feel like a trope in this narrative.Antony Starr and Chace Crawford in The Boys (2019)The Boys has focused on a few primary members of the Seven, giving them varying levels of development with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), the sole woman hero of the clan until Starlight’s arrival, getting the least screen time. The Wonder Woman-esque hero is fully aware of the morally reprehensible behaviour of her comrades but she remains silent and offers little support to Starlight. However, a pivotal atrocity will certainly change her outlook. There’s a deeper story begging to be told with Maeve that will hopefully unfold as The Boys progresses. The Deep (Chace Crawford) is annoyingly surface-level – a poor man’s Aquaman who’s hyped up on his fame, immature, condescending, and trying to flex the little power he has against those whom he perceives to be weaker when he’s the weakest link. His purpose at this moment is to be irritating and he’s succeeding on all fronts. The Deep, who was Black in the comics, and his comrade A-Train, portrayed by Jessie T. Usher of Survivor’s Remorse, switch races in the live adaptation and have some different personality traits than their comic versions. A-Train’s lack of accountability and egoic decisions are the catalyst for much of the initial action and plot progression, but the series also digs deeper into his personal relationships and insecurities about his future with Voight.Elisabeth Shue, Chace Crawford, and Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)The most intriguing hero is Homelander (Antony Starr), the leader of the Seven and a mashup of Captain America and Superman. The show does a great job of slowly peeling back his outer layer of high moral standards and leadership qualities to reveal an obsessive, manipulating, narcissistic, and sinister being who is capable of unthinkable callousness. Homelander is undoubtedly the supreme villain hiding in plain sight that too many people are underestimating. The Boys has the potential to become Garth Ennis’ next comic-to-TV production win on the heels of Preacher’s upcoming fourth and final season. Sure, some of the scenes run a tad bit too long and the punchlines occasionally fall flat, but those are outweighed by truly clever moments, an engaging plot, and several WTF moments to create a dark and oddly realistic take on the superhero genre.

REVIEW: WITHOUT A PADDLE

CAST

Seth Green (Family Guy)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Dax Shepard (Zathura)
Antony Starr (Banshee)
Danielle Cormack (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Burt Reynolds (Driven)
Liddy Holloway (Hercules: TLJ)
Bruce Phillips (Power Rangers RPM)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Abraham Benrubi (Buffy: TVS)
Rachel Blanchard (Snakes on a Plane)
Christina Moore (Delta Farce)
Susan Brady (Blood Crime)
Morgan Reese Fairhead (Young Hercules)

Twelve years after graduating from high school, three friends, Jerry, Dan, and Tom, find out that their childhood friend Billy has died in a parasailing accident. After the funeral, they revisit the group’s old tree-house and find a map leading to D. B. Cooper’s lost treasure, which Billy had apparently been working on for his entire life. Dan takes a break from his job as a doctor and joins Jerry and Tom on a camping trip to find the treasure. They take a canoe down the river and eventually stop on the riverside for the night. They discover that they forgot to bring food, so Tom goes out to catch some fish. However, the activity attracts a grizzly bear to their position, and the bear chases the group into a tree. In the morning, the group find all of their gear has been ripped up and completely destroyed by the bear.

The trio takes off into the river but are unable to read the map, causing them to go the wrong way. They fall off of a waterfall, and while they survive, their canoe is destroyed. They venture into the woods with a compass and find themselves at a pot farm where two farmers, Dennis and Elwood, mistake them for thieves and start shooting at them. They escape, burning the pot garden down in the process. This enrages the farmers, who decide to hunt them down and kill them. Later, far into the forest the trio meets two hippie girls, Flower and Butterfly, who treat them in their tree. Using a radio the farmers find them, but the hippie girls drop paper bags full of feces at the farmers to distract them while the trio escapes. They are caught by a mountain man who takes them to his hut and provides them with clothes. The man later reveals himself to be Del Knox, Cooper’s partner before his death.

The next morning, the farmers find them and assault the house. The trio escapes while Del shoots at the two farmers with his revolver. The trio stumbles upon the site of Cooper’s crash-landing where they discover Cooper’s corpse and the suitcase that he used to hold the ransom money, and they realize that Cooper burned the money in an attempt to survive. As Dan crawls through a small tunnel to find a way out, the farmers find Jerry and Tom, and a fistfight ensues. Eventually, Sheriff Briggs, who had earlier helped the trio, intervenes, but he then reveals himself to be the farmers’ employer. Jerry arms a grenade taken from Dennis and throws it towards the pot dealers. It explodes, causing a tree to fall on the farmers and the sheriff, who are soon arrested.

In the closing scenes, Jerry, Dan, and Tom split half of the remaining money with Del. Jerry proposes to his girlfriend, Dan starts a relationship with Flower, and Tom becomes a camp counselor for a children’s summer camp where he ends up telling his troop all about the trip.

The odd laugh will definitely turn up, but there are many better comedies around, so unless you’re simply up for an evening of mostly forgettable fun, you might want to leave Without a Paddle wallowing in the shallows.