REVIEW: LEGION – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Dan Stevens (Downtown Abbey)
Rachel Keller (Hollidaysburg)
Aubrey Plaza (Life After beth)
Bill Irwin (Sleepy Hollow)
Jeremie Harris (Pariah)
Amber Midthunder (Hell or High water)
Katie Aselton (The Gift)
Jean Smart (Smanatha Who ?)

NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Hamish Linklater (Battleship)
David Selby (The Social Network)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Scott Lawrence (Avatar)
Jermaine Clement (Men In Black 3)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)

For those among you who, like me, love some of the slightly weirder superheroes out there (especially of the mutant kind and preferably in the X-Men universe) but feel most of those guys’ screen outings so far were either constricted by the 2-hour format or held back by the need to appeal to mainstream audiences, I’m happy to report there is finally a full length TV-show that dares to fully embrace the craziness of its source material without taking any prisoners. The show’s name is ‘Legion’ (and I’m already pretty sure its fans will be many).Following the storyline may seem a little difficult (at least at the beginning) for ‘Legion’ plunges us head first into the confused mind of its hero, and the narrative is – deliberately – often just as fractured as David Haller’s personality. Right from the start this show makes it very clear how committed it is to convey its protagonist’s unstable state of mind – and boy does it succeed: through David’s eyes we experience an often terrifying (albeit colorful) world where we can never be sure what’s real and what’s imagined; nor can we get a grasp on where we are, when we are, or even who we are.But this trip down the rabbit hole is well worth taking (even if it does turn into a horror trip at times) for it’s a psychedelic ride that has been designed by very talented people. Creator Noah Hawley, who has already given us the excellent show ‘Fargo’, obviously knows what he’s doing, and watching the show feels like listening to a perfectly composed concept album from a seventies rock band. The cast is terrific (especially Dan Stevens as David Haller); the visuals and the production design are a wonderfully weird mix of retro and modern elements which fits David’s distorted perception of time and reality like a glove, and the mystery surrounding David as he desperately tries to cut through the haze and figure out what’s going on will keep you glued to the screen throughout.Insanity is a tricky subject to tackle, and the possible pitfalls are many; present it with too much levity and you risk the accusation that you’re making fun of people with a terrible illness – yet if you portray it as tragic and bleak as it often is  you will lose your audience. So to find the right tone here was not an easy thing to do, but I believe the show – just as Marvel did in the comic books – does an outstanding job at never coming across disrespectful while still offering fantastic entertainment.So to sum up my first impression: ‘Legion’ represents a refreshingly different side of Marvel (compared to the films and shows based on Marvel Comics’ more “grounded” creations that we’ve seen so far) and by fully embracing the source material’s “weirdness” the show is a testament to just how insanely (in the true sense of the word) inventive and versatile Stan Lee and his band of brothers were/are. This show is wilder, more surreal and generally much, much crazier than your average superhero story and there are moments where you feel reminded of the works of David Fincher, Charlie Kaufman or even David Lynch. I’d highly recommend it especially to adult comic book fans and those among you who don’t demand everything be explained within the first episode. Personally, I feel this is Marvel at its best and most complex.

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REVIEW: FUNNY PEOPLE

CAST

Adam Sandler (Mr. Deeds)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours 1 & 2)
Leslie Mann (17 Again)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street)
Aubrey Plaza (Life After Beth)
RZA (G.I. Retaliation)
Aziz Ansari (30 Minutes or Less)
Sarah Silverman (School for Scoundrels)
Norm Macdonald (Dr. Dolittle)
Paul Reiser (Aliens)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Ray Romano (Eulogy)
Justin Long (New Girl)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Carla Gallo (Bones)

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a middle-aged former stand-up comedian turned movie star. Despite his millions he is sad and lonely and most of his recent film work is low-brow and dumb. He is diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and offered an experimental treatment that has only an eight-percent chance of therapeutic response. Believing he is about to die, he returns to his roots to do stand-up comedy.
Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) is an aspiring stand-up comedian in his twenties who shares an apartment with his two best friends, Mark and Leo (Jason Schwartzman and Jonah Hill). Mark is a lead in his own TV comedy series and makes good money. Leo is a rising comedy star and guest star or a recurring role on Mark’s TV show. George meets Ira at a small comedy club and hires him as his assistant. Ira becomes one of George’s only close relationships. The two travel around the country, George hires Ira as his personal assistant and joke writer and opens for him in the big comedy clubs, often meeting with real life comedians who play themselves and talk about the business of comedy.
George reconnects with his ex-fiancée, Laura (Leslie Mann) who is currently married to Clarke (Eric Bana). George′s physician tells him that the leukemia is in remission. George decides he wants Laura back. Laura invites George and Ira to her house in Marin County while her husband is away on business. George and Ira spend quality time with Laura and her two young daughters. George and Laura sneak off to have sex, but Clarke returns home and there is a huge argument.
The plot of the movie now concerns who Laura will choose, her current husband Clarke whom she suspects has cheated on her (he later confirms he received a happy ending at a massage parlor), or her former boyfriend George (who also cheated on her many times). Ira is not always on George’s side in the love triangle, so when it doesn’t go George’s way in the end, he fires Ira, who then calls George out on having learned nothing from his near-death experience.
Ira returns to his old food-service job. After some time has passed, George attends Ira’s stand-up act and sees that his old assistant has become a far more confident performer. The next day, George finds Ira at work and they reconnect as friends, telling each other jokes as equals.Not your average comedy, but certainly funny enough to get a fair few laughs in. Then, once you’ve stopped laughing, there’s enough human emotion to finish it off with to make it so you actually care about the characters.

 

31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: LIFE AFTER BETH

CAST

Aubrey Plaza (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
John C. Reilly (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Molly Shannon (Wet Hot American Summer)
Cheryl Hines (Waitress)
Paul Reiser (Aliens)
Matthew Gray Gubler (500 Days of Summer)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)

After his girlfriend Beth Slocum (Aubrey Plaza) dies, Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan) is left devastated. He begins to spend time with Beth’s parents Maury (John C. Reilly) and Geenie (Molly Shannon) as a source of comfort. Zach confesses to Maury that he and Beth were having problems in their relationship; Maury advises him not to let the end of the relationship define it.
The Slocums stop contacting Zach. Confused, he goes to their house and sees Beth through a window. Zach yells at the Slocums to let him in but his brother Kyle, a security officer, escorts him off the premises. At home, Zach’s manic demeanor and strange comments that Beth is alive causes his parents, Judy and Noah, to worry. That night, Zach breaks in and discovers that Beth’s parents have been hiding her. A heated argument ensues before Zach storms off. Later, he goes to Beth’s grave and sees a large hole in its place. He confronts Geenie and Maury with this and they explain that, after the funeral, Beth suddenly reappeared, seemingly alive and well. Beth’s parents are reluctant to let her leave the house, especially during daytime, and refuse to tell her that she died. When Zach takes Beth on a daytime date in the park, she gets blisters on her face, apparently from the sun. Maury bans Zach from the Slocum house and seeing Beth, but Zach continues to sneak in.
Zach starts to notice people around town acting similarly to Beth, who has grown increasingly violent and has mood swings; he also discovers smooth jazz can calm her down. He also notes that Beth and people like her are stronger now than when they were living humans. Zach brings Beth to her grave and informs her of her death and resurrection, then tries to break up with her, only for her to angrily run off with his car. Zach walks home and discovers his family members shocked by the sudden reappearance of his dead grandfather. Maury picks up Zach and tells him that Beth is extremely upset, insisting that Zach tell her that he lied about her death and promise to be with her forever; Zach reluctantly agrees.
Zach’s attempts to talk to Beth fail. When she eats a bystander, he drives away, with her in the car. Maury catches them, knocks Zach unconscious, and takes Beth. Once he has recovered, Zach heads home, and finds a stranger inside the house and burnt bodies in the backyard. Believing his family dead, Zach packs his bags, and prepares to leave the state. However, he changes his mind and drives back to the Slocum house.
He finds the house is in disarray, with Geenie and Beth in the kitchen. Tied to a stove, Beth has become a full-fledged, bloodthirsty zombie, having eaten Maury and bitten off Geenie’s hand. Zach convinces Geenie to leave, then calms Beth by promising to hike with her like she always asked him to. They run into Kyle, who has gone hunting zombies. He reveals that their parents are still alive, having escaped to a safehouse. Kyle gives Zach his handgun, reminding him that Beth is suffering. On their hike, Zach and Beth stop by a cliff. He tearfully apologizes to her for never doing the things she wanted when she was still alive. They say “I love you” to each other, and Zach shoots her in the head.

Zach is reunited with his family at the safehouse, along with a traumatized Erica (Anna Kendrick), who was forced to kill her own grandmother. The survivors make plans to leave town but, suddenly, the power returns and a TV news story shows things inexplicably going back to normal. Zach visits the graves of Beth and Maury, leaving Beth’s scarf on her tombstone, and a knight chess piece on Maury’s. Zach’s mom picks him up in her car, with Erica in the backseat. Zach invites Erica for dinner and she accepts, smiling as they drive off.

This was an interesting take on the zombie genre. There were numerous humorous moments in this dark comedy as well as missed opportunities. Aubrey played the zombie aspect with decaying brain function very well.

REVIEW: SCOTT PILGRAM VS THE WORLD

CAST

Michael Cera (Youth In Revolt)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Alison Pill (Milk)
Ellen Wong (The Carrie Diaries)
Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
Brie Larson (21 Jump Street)
Aubrey Plaza (Life After Beth)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Brand Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Jason Schwartzman (I Heart Huckabees)
Kristina Pesic (The Vow)
Mark Webber (13 Sins)
Mae Whitman (Independance Day)
Johnny Simmons (Jennifer’s Body)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Thomas Jane (The Punisher)
Joe Dinicol (Arrow)

In Toronto, 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim is a bass guitarist in Sex Bob-Omb, a floundering garage band. To the disapproval of his friends, he is dating Knives Chau, a high school student. Scott meets an American Amazon.ca delivery girl, Ramona Flowers, having first seen her in a dream, and loses interest in Knives. When Sex Bob-Omb plays in a battle of the bands sponsored by record executive G-Man Graves, Scott is attacked by Ramona’s ex-boyfriend Matthew Patel. Scott defeats Patel and learns that, in order to date Ramona, he must defeat the remaining six evil exes.

Scott breaks up with Knives, who blames Ramona and swears to win him back. Scott defeats Ramona’s second evil ex, Hollywood actor and skateboarder Lucas Lee, by tricking him into performing a dangerous stunt. He defeats her third ex, vegan Todd Ingram, who is dating Scott’s ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams, by tricking him into drinking dairy. He defeats Ramona’s fourth ex, Roxy Richter, by prodding the spot behind her knee, which Ramona tells him is her weak point.

Scott becomes upset with Ramona’s dating history and Ramona breaks up with him. At the next battle of the bands, Sex Bob-Omb defeats Ramona’s fifth and sixth evil exes, twins Kyle and Ken Katayanagi, earning Scott a 1-up. Ramona gets back with her seventh evil ex, Gideon, also known as G-Man Graves, the sponsor of the event. Sex Bob-Omb accept Gideon’s record deal, except for Scott, who leaves the band in protest.

Gideon invites Scott to his venue, the Chaos Theater, where Sex Bob-Omb is playing. Resolving to win Ramona back, Scott challenges Gideon to a fight for her affections, earning the “Power of Love” and a sword. Knives fights Ramona over Scott, and Scott accidentally reveals that he dated them concurrently. After Gideon kills Scott, Ramona visits him in limbo and reveals that Gideon has implanted her with a mind control device.

Scott uses his 1-up to restore his life. He makes peace with his friends and challenges Gideon again, this time for himself. He gains the “Power of Self-Respect” and disarms Gideon with the sword it grants him. He apologizes to Ramona and Knives for cheating on them, and Scott and Knives join forces to defeat Gideon.

Free from Gideon’s control, Ramona prepares to leave. Knives accepts that her relationship with Scott is over. At her encouragement, he follows Ramona.

This movie has everything. Action, love, geek background… The plot is great, a good reflection of the comics. But the camera, special effects and music are absolutely awesome. For me, this is one of the best movies in history.