REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 5

Donal Logue, Morena Baccarin, Cameron Monaghan, Erin Richards, David Mazouz, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, and Michelle Veintimilla in Gotham (2014)

 

Starring

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Shark Night)
David Mazouz (Incarnate)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (John Wick 3)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Utopia)
Jessica Lucas (Clvoerfield)
Chris Chalk (Homeland)

Gotham (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jaime Murray (Castlevania)
Francesca Root-Dodson (Free Spirit)
Cameron Monaghan (Amityville: The Awakening)
Shane West (Nikita)
Peyton List (The Tomorrow People)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Richard Kind (Young Sheldon)
Lili Simmons (The Purge TV)

Donal Logue, Ben McKenzie, and Erin Richards in Gotham (2014)Certain aspects of the Batman story seem reasonably immutable and set in stone, no matter how many iterations there are over the years. However, the gap which exists between boy and (Bat)man seems pretty much up for grabs, as there hasn’t really been a definitive account of what young Bruce Wayne did in the wilderness. All we know for certain is that he watched his parents get murdered, fell into a cave filled with bats, and the legend was born.David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova in Gotham (2014)A recent attempt to chronicle this part of Bruce’s life came with DC’s ‘The New 52’, and part of the ‘Zero Year’ storyline was used in the arc for Season 5 of Gotham. In fact, Gotham has probably been the most detailed attempt to cover the journey that takes Bruce from victim to vigilante, over half a decade, while also showing how his Rogues’ Gallery came into being. It seems to have started a trend for prequel origin tales, with SyFy’s Krypton which just finished its second term, and Pennyworth from Epix which goes even further back and show us a younger (and Bruce-less) Alfred.John Martineau, Ben McKenzie, and Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)With such fertile ground, Gotham could easily have run for longer, but the plug was pulled and a drastically curtailed last outing was planned to wrap up the story. Despite having run for half the length of Smallville, the end goal was always the same – give the audience the payoff after loyally following the show, by building up to the big reveal, where the hero dons his cape (and, in this case, cowl), signifying the end of one chapter, and the start of a new one, where we get into more familiar territory. And then exeunt, Gotham.BD Wong and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)It was always going to be interesting to see how the makers of Gotham would address the elephant (or, maybe, bat) in the room, as there seems to have been an aversion on the part of DC to allow there to be any more than one Batman – and, even then, only to allow him on the big screen. Animated series aside, the only time we’ve seen Batman on TV is in the 1960s Adam West series; even Titans in its first season only showed him briefly (and then only played by a stuntman), but Season 2 has cast Iain Glen as an older Bruce Wayne, so things may have turned a corner as far as television depictions are concerned.Cameron Monaghan in Gotham (2014)Having only a dozen episodes in which to try and wrap up the four previous years of storylines is no mean feat, and by doing so, Season 5 of Gotham has managed to simultaneously feel both too short and too long; not enough time to breathe, and yet somehow drawn out at the same time. It’s actually quite an achievement when you think about it. The storytelling’s suffered as a result, as you have to cram so much in, but some continuing strands haven’t been handled especially well, and some of the plotting has felt circuitous or circular at times.That’s not to say this last hurrah has been a failure, or there hasn’t been anything to shout about, as it’s still hugely enjoyable. One thing that’s become painfully clear, however, is that things seem to sag when Jeremiah Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) isn’t on screen – he’s come close to being one of the definitive versions of the Joker, and been a welcome breath of fresh air, after the appalling Jared Leto in Suicide Squad. However, he’s so good that when he isn’t around, you’re waiting for him to turn up again, so he’s actually made the show a victim of his own success.Peyton List in Gotham (2014)The next best villain on the show, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), has been a joy to watch, with his manic, calculating glee, and his combative and – sometimes – homoerotic relationship with Penguin, a.k.a. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), has lifted and carried the series through some weaker patches. However, he’s mostly wasted here, spending much of his time investigating the blackouts he’s been having, and then discovering that he’s been turned into a mind-controlled puppet. Riddle me this: why on Earth did they choose to squander Nygma, and wait until the finale to let him find form once again?Shane West in Gotham (2014)Considering the tale’s been told through the eyes of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), he’s hardly been the most compelling or sympathetic of characters, making some truly questionable moral decisions, and a lot of effort is put into positioning him to become the Commissioner Gordon who we all know; one of these dodgy choices comes with him having a torrid one-night stand with his ex – and gangland crime boss – Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), just so she can get pregnant and give us the future Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. I really won’t miss McKenzie’s irritating growling voice, nor his jutting jaw, all of which he seems to think passes for actual acting.Donal Logue and Ben McKenzie in Gotham (2014)Through it all, the natural core of Gotham has understandably been the pairing of Alfred Pennyworth (the inimitable Sean Pertwee) and young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). It’s actually turned out to be an incredibly intelligent piece of casting by picking Mazouz, as you’d have to have a lot of confidence that he could actually play Bruce on his trajectory from boy to young man, and then credibly setting up his transformation into Batman; Mazouz has managed to grow beyond the rather wet and feeble Bruce who we first met, turning into the proto-Dark Knight who started to emerge in Season 4.David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)Gotham has certainly done a creditable job in working in so much of the whole Batman mythos, setting up the genesis of so many adversaries, including – in this latest season – Bane (Shane West), who thankfully erred more toward Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises, rather than the embarrassing cartoon henchman we saw in Batman & Robin. However, the money shot we’ve all been waiting for comes at the end of the final episode, bringing us our newest Batman. The fact it leaves us wanting more means it really is mission accomplished, and is pretty much the best ending they could have aimed for.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 4

Ben McKenzie and David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)

 

Starring

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Shark Night)
David Mazouz (Incarnate)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (John Wick 3)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Utopia)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (Homeland)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Crystal Reed (Swamp Thing)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)

Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Maggie Geha (The Rewrite)
Peyton List (Flashforward)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Michael Cerveris (Ant-Man and the Wasp)
Cameron Monaghan (Reign of The Supermen)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michelle Veintimilla (The Gifted)
Michael Maize (Power Rangers In Space)
John Doman (The Boys)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Camila Perez (Who We Are Now)
Peter McRobbie (Daredevil)
Francesca Root-Dodson (Free Spirit)

Gotham started out as a raw, , and unfocused show. We have the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents and the germ of his literal growing pains on display. Then there’s Jim Gordon, the core focus of Gotham, presented under the guise of a procedural cop drama, solving fanservice cases with his no-nonsense partner. And the subplot involving turf wars? It was only digestible thanks to the profound talent of Robin Lord Taylor as The Penguin (who is still easily one of the best parts of the show).Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)Gotham was, quite frankly, all over the place until somewhere into season two, when the show embraced its characters, started to connect them, and let the actors run wild with the personas they had crafted over the course of that previous year. Even throwaway characters like Barbara Kean scrapped and fought for a rightful place on the show. Each year it doubles down on its insanity, and it’s been paying off in a big way.Alexander Siddig and Erin Richards at an event for Gotham (2014)The huge arcs for this season of Gotham involve Professor Pyg’s live-action debut, more Ra’s al Ghul/League of Assassins drama, Penguin’s ongoing war with the Falcone family, and more Joker. You might notice a recurring theme on “more,” and that partially plays into the concept of doubling down. The latter is really the focus though, and why not in the penultimate season? Batman adaptations usually fall back on The Joker, but this time, because of the way Gotham strays from the source material, it works to the show’s benefit.Sean Pertwee and Ben McKenzie in Gotham (2014)While the first few seasons were content with giving us plotlines that went nowhere or were thrown for a loop after actors exited the project, now we’re getting to the point where the writers finish what they started. The Joker’s true identity has been something that’s been teased before the program even debuted, and now the arc has been fully completed into what is probably the most engrossing storyline, capped by an inspired double-duty performance by Cameron Monaghan.Andrew Sellon, Robin Lord Taylor, and Anthony Carrigan in Gotham (2014)The Gotham showrunners actually did it — they adapted The Killing Joke. Even just bringing in elements of the always-controversial classic, even more so due to the latest DC animated adaptation’s alterations, has the potential to misfire; but they mostly trod lightly here. In turn, this Joker feels like his own man, free from the shackles of tradition while still paying homage to various bits of Batman history, most notably the visage of Jack Nicholson.Morena Baccarin and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)Ben McKenzie in Gotham (Season 4) – image for this review provided by FOX.
It’s interesting how, like the Nolan films, the crew takes bits and pieces of the Batman mythos while still forging their own story. It doesn’t always work out, and at this point, Gotham, in turn, is even taking things from Nolan, but it’s just deviant enough to keep you guessing rather than say “oh, this is exactly like the comics, but worse” — a sentiment that used to apply to Gotham in spades.Ben McKenzie, Billy Peck, Dennis Rees, and Kelcy Griffin in Gotham (2014)This season of Gotham has had a monumental impact on the series with an actual endgame, and the showrunners are getting one more year to end the story on their own terms. Despite the ups and downs several arcs have given us, it seems as if Gotham is going to be complete, and that the creators at least had some idea of where they wanted to go with it for once.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 3

 

MAIN CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (New Girl)
Morena Baccarin (Homeland)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Cold Comes The Night)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Wonderstruck)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (12 Years A Slave)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maggie Geha (Ted 2)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Leslie Hendrix (Arthur)
James Carpinello (Gangster Squad)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
John Doman (Blue Valentine)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Magic Mike XXL)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Chelsea Spack (Blue Bloods)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Richard Kind (Stargate)
Naian Gonzalez Norvind (The Devil You Know)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Cameron Monaghan (Amityville: The Awakening)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Camila Perez (Star)
Tonya Pinkins (The Book of Henry)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Clare Foley (Sinister)
David Dastmalchain (Ant-Man)

Maggie Geha in Gotham (2014)Gotham is the crime drama series based on DC Comics’ Batman universe. Having premiered on Fox in the autumn of 2014, the show initially focused on young versions of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Over time, though, the series introduced younger iterations of well-known villains in the Batman franchise, as well as lesser-known characters to provide a wider representation of the Dark Knight’s universe. Additionally, with Season Two, the episodes were grouped into “Rise of the Villains” (Episodes 1-11) and “Wraith of the Villains” (Episode 12-22), and that concept was continued in Season Three, with Episodes 1-14 grouped into “Mad Love” and Episodes 15-22, under the subtitle of “Heroes Rise.”Benedict Samuel in Gotham (2014)Concepts deriving from the overarching themes were weaved throughout the various storylines. Betrayal is often associated with love, and this theme was well represented throughout the season. Between lovers, siblings, work colleagues, and enemies, betrayal was a symptom of the deterioration of Gotham. Gordon tried to take the high road with his ex-fiancé Lee (Morena Baccarin) who moved on to a relationship with Dr. Mario Falcone (James Carpinello) and fell into an uneasy sexual relationship with Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) that included a number of lies and betrayals due to their goals arising from their respective jobs – bounty hunter and reporter. But, the downfall between Gordon and Vale came when he is forced by Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) to choose between Vale or Lee in “Follow the White Rabbit” (Episode 6). Although he chooses Vale, all parties easily infer that Gordon is still in love with Lee. Later in the season, Bruce commits a deadly betrayal against Alfred (Sean Pertwee) in “Destiny Calling” (Episode 21) after being kidnapped by the Court of Owls to spend time with The Shaman (Raymond J. Barry) and meeting Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig). Surprisingly, one ray of light occurred between Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Desperate to know why she didn’t kill him, Penguin was surprised and humbled that Fish saw in him her greatest creation (“Burn the Witch” Episode 2).Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)

As often that a character was turning on another individual, sometimes the betrayal came from within. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) seemed to be one of the most conflicted characters through the season, trying to answer the question, “Who am I?” His identity, publicly as Penguin’s Chief of Staff, and privately as Penguin’s mastermind, resulted in a vacuum of questions after Nygma shot Penguin, believing he had killed his best friend who overshadowed and defined him. As a result, Nygma tested a number of the city’s intelligent people for assistance in determining his own identity separate from Penguin. The Tetch virus enhanced and brought out certain traits of characters and finding themselves at odds with themselves. Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis) received a drop of blood from Alice Tetch (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) which heightened his commitment to the concept of justice, becoming judge, jury, and executioner as well as embodying the law (“New Day Rising” Episode 4). Marios jealousy was amplified, and Lee became a bad girl looking for the bad boy in Gordon, who was forced to self-infect the virus on himself in “Pretty Hate Machine” (Episode 20). As one of the heroes, Gordon was the only one who could control his magnified emotional state.

Amongst chaos, the heroes rise; however, the idea of heroes is a double-edged sword, so the viewer’s traditional definition of hero will be challenged in Season Three. Executive Producer John Stephens said, “Everyone goes through a major character metamorphosis throughout the course of the yea,r” in an interview with Comicbook.com. What is the most dramatic event that a character could go through? Well, it seemed that death (or near-death) and rebirth was a common event for most of the characters. For instance, Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) was touched by one of Dr. Strange’s (B. E. Wong) monsters and not only did she age about 10 or so years, but it was the belief of Selina (Camren Bicondova) that Ivy had died. Fish Mooney, Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow), who became Mr. Freeze, and Bridgit Pike (Camila Perez), who became Firefly, actually died and were reborn. It should be noted that while some characters died, they did not embody their familiar mantle: Ivy isn’t known as Poison Ivy, Selena hasn’t become Catwoman, and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) may have the iconic creepy wide smile, but nary a whisper of “Joker” has been heard – yet.David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova in Gotham (2014)The parallels amongst pairs of characters did deliver intriguing comparisons. For example, viewers witness the very public destruction of Penguin, each layer of his personae being taken away from him. The betrayal is deliberate, a conscious effort on the part of Nygma, Barbara Keen (Erin Richards), Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell). Eventually, even Penguin’s life is taken from him; however, there is also a private betrayal occurring in Lee. She has internalized her loss and although she argues for justice and grabs for the preverbal straws, she finally realizes that she is the root cause of her own betrayal. She hits rock bottom and as a result, injects herself with the Tetch virus, embracing her ruin.Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)Due to the large ensemble cast of regular cast members, plus the recurring and special guests through the 22 episodes, one of the inherent issues is affording enough screen time to each character so that their origin story is fully explored, resulting in a well-developed character. While Gordon and Wayne/514A (David Mazouz, in a dual role) are central characters and will typically appear in each episode, some of the other regular characters, such as Selina Kyle, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), or Butch, seem to disappear from the storyline. For example, in the closing minutes of “How the Riddler Got His Name” (Episode 15), Edward Nygma/The Riddler reveals to Lucius that he is struggling with defining his identity separate and outside of the shadow of Penguin. After announcing to Lucius that he is the Riddler, Nygma knocks Lucius out in his car. Viewers next see Lucius in “Light the Wick” (Episode 18). Fish Mooney is another character that is missing for most of the season after appearing in the season’s opening episode, “Better to Reign in Hell…” Their disappearances do cause some gaps, such as where was Lucius for two episodes, 16 and 17 – one would assume that someone from the GCPD would notice Lucius sleeping off Nygma’s attack in the front seat of his car, parked across the street from the precinct.Drew Powell, Jessica Lucas, and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)The third season of Gotham provides intriguing complexities to the overarching denigration of the city into chaos and the telling of individual character origin stories. While the origin stories are fascinating, the fact that there is foreknowledge that most of the characters cannot die because they will one day face Bruce Wayne as Batman does cause a wrinkle with the audience’s engagement with the storylines. To compensate, spending more time on character development would alleviate some of the indifference inherent to the nature of prequel narratives. That said, Gotham is a binge-worthy show. The city is visually stunning, and the Steampunk feel captivating. Audiences unfamiliar with the origin stories will likely enjoy the show just as much or more so than those that come to the show with familiarity from reading the comics.

 

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Chelsea Spack (Dead To Me)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)
John Doman (The Company Men)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 5

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (Cam)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / NOtable Guest Cast

Keiynan Lonsdale (Love, Simon)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Kiana Madeira (Trinkets)
Kyle Secor (Veronica Mars)
Troy James (Hellboy)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carlo Marks (Smallville)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Lossen Chambers (Unspeakable)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Teddy Sears (Chicago Fire)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Chad Rook (War For The POTA)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Tyler Hoechilin (Teen Wolf)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Elizabeth Tulloch (The Artist)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Reina Hardesty (StartUp)
Gabrielle Walsh (East Los High)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Britne Oldford (American Horror Story)
Victoria Park (Plus One)
Kimberly Williams-Paisley (The Christmas Chronicles)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Zibby Allen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Godzilla)
Kathryn Gallagher (You)
BD Wong (Gotham)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)

Hartley Sawyer and Carlos Valdes in The Flash (2014)Odd as it may sound, The Flash may very well now be the flagship show in the Arrowverse. When you think about it, the series’ ascension to that spot makes sense, especially when you factor in how it’s consistently The CW’s top rated show. Plus, it often charts new course for the DC TV landscape as a whole, which I’ll discuss in just a bit.In the meantime, though, I’m going to shower the next leg in the Scarlet Speedster’s journey with much praise after being left jaded by what I thought was a parabolic fourth season. Those familiar with this site may remember how I didn’t exactly care for how our most recent trips to Central City became downright farcical at times, whereas the premiere I’ve just had the honor of screening found the proper balance achieved in earlier seasons.Grant Gustin and Candice Patton in The Flash (2014)Maybe it’s just me, but Nora West-Allen AKA XS, played by the adorable Jessica Parker Kennedy, gave this show the shot in the arm that it needed. After being left stranded in the present, Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris’ (Candice Patton) daughter from the future manages to strengthen the family aspect that’s been a solid cornerstone since day one, while also taking the action scenes to the next level. Being someone who digs legacy heroes, I was delighted to hear Nora begin season 5 with narration similar to that of Barry’s, thereby letting us know that she’s a chip off the old block and, yes, she’s the fastest woman alive in her native time period.Chris Klein in The Flash (2014)In very short order, I became convinced that Nora is quite possibly the role Kennedy was born to play, and is quickly becoming my favorite thing about the show. Believe me, it won’t take long for you to warm up to the father-daughter dynamic shared between her and Barry. It’s a tad awkward as one would expect at first, sure, but the two bond before long.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Seeing as how this is a comic book-based series, their first instance of Take Your Child To Work Day comes in the form of a run-in with Gridlock (Daniel Cudmore), our first freak of the week for the fall. In truth, it’s probably best that we get someone of lesser power to start off things before organically building up to the new big bad, Cicada (Chris Klein). Make no mistake, the Flash himself isn’t forgotten in the premiere, as this is still very much his headlining gig. What’s more is that longtime viewers will be rewarded as he runs the costuming gamut by donning the suits he wore in seasons 1 and 2, before settling on his new threads.Chris Klein and Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)Continuing on that note, the comic aficionados among you should geek out upon seeing said duds emerging from a ring, an element from the source material that’s finally been utilized by the producers. As for getting it back inside, well, that sounds like a job for Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and his magnificent mind. Rest assured that a piece of jewelry isn’t the only thing brought back from the future because – get this – Nora gives quite the nod to Batman Beyond by using “schway” in a sentence on multiple occasions. Not only that, but the DC Easter eggs don’t stop there – her name-drops may be laying the groundwork for the next five years of Arrowverse programming, so be sure to pay close attention.Danielle Panabaker and Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)Now, I’m not going to get into major spoilers, but I will say that stuff established all the way back in the pilot episode is revisited and factors into what’s to come. The sharper guys and gals reading this may have a few good guesses after learning that, so just keep on formulating your own theories until it’s showtime. At this point, I imagine lovers of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) are wondering what’s going on with her character and the unfolding mystery involving her past. Though her alter ego of Killer Frost has yet to resurface, some sizable breadcrumbs are provided, each of which will definitely factor heavily into future episodes. Bank on it.The Flash (2014)In the eyes of this critic, showrunner Todd Helbing and company have rediscovered what’s quintessentially The Flash. Hand to Zod, the creative minds behind the series look to be returning it to the glory days of seasons 1 and 2 – and that’s no joke. These folks have put together one of the strongest premieres this show has ever produced, and it’s guaranteed to leave people talking. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next because, you know, it’s not like I can run so fast that I can time travel or anything.

REVIEW: THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Starring

Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight)
Asa Butterfield (Hugo)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland)
B.D. Wong (Gotham)
Janet Montgomery (BLack Swan)
Trey Tucker (The Matchmaker’s Playbook)
Scott Takeda (Everything Must Go)
Logan Paul (Baywatch)

Asa Butterfield in The Space Between Us (2017)In the near future, multi-billionaire Nathaniel Shepard, CEO of Genesis, launches the first ever mission to colonize Mars. During the journey, the lead astronaut, Sarah Elliot, discovers that she is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from eclampsia while giving birth to the first human born on Mars, Gardner Elliot. The father of the child is unknown. In a dilemma, Nathaniel eventually decides to keep the child on Mars as a secret, to avoid a PR disaster for his company and also keep the child safe.Britt Robertson and Asa Butterfield in The Space Between Us (2017)Sixteen years later, Sarah’s son Gardner has grown up into an inquisitive, highly intelligent boy who has met only 14 people during his very unconventional upbringing. One day, in order to find out more about his mother, he hacks into Centaur, a robot he helped build, to gain access to the ship’s storage. There, he retrieves his mother’s items. Among them are a wedding ring and a USB drive, from which he plays a video of her and a man in a beach house. Convinced that the man is his father, he becomes determined to find him.Britt Robertson in The Space Between Us (2017)Gardner logs on to an Internet chatroom, where he has struck up an online relationship with Tulsa, a street-smart girl from Colorado who is constantly being shuffled from one foster home to the next. Under the guise of being confined to a penthouse due to osteogenesis imperfecta, they discuss their plans for the future. Gardner promises to come see her someday. He then watches the German language film, Wings of Desire, where an angel falls in love with a human, and thus falls to Earth.His mother figure, astronaut Kendra Wyndham, video calls Nathaniel and Genesis director Tom Chen to inform them of Gardner’s extraordinary intelligence and to beg them to allow him to go to Earth. Nathaniel refuses, as Gardner would have to undergo a highly risky surgery to increase his bone density and then train to adapt to Earth’s atmospheric pressure. Gardner undergoes the surgery anyway and after training, he, Kendra and some other astronauts board a space shuttle for Earth.On the day of the space shuttle’s arrival, Nathaniel discovers that Gardner is on board. He angrily confronts Tom, who hid this from him. Despite his anger, Nathaniel visits Gardner, who is being quarantined in NASA while undergoing medical tests to determine whether he is fit for life on Earth. After a visit from Kendra, Gardner manages to discover that he is not fit for life on Earth. Upset, he stages a daring escape and hitches a ride to find Tulsa. Upon seeing him, Tulsa slaps him as she is upset at Gardner for “ghosting” her for 7 months. However, she forgives him and he convinces her to help him find his father. They stop by her house to get supplies for the journey, but are found by Nathaniel and Kendra. While trying to convince him to return to NASA, Gardner angrily confronts Kendra with her own admission of not wanting children and escapes with Tulsa on an old plane which her foster father was working on. The plane abruptly loses oil pressure while still in the sky. Tulsa manages to crash-land the plane into an old, abandoned barn, causing a fiery explosion. They escape safely to a diner where they determine the location of the shaman who married Gardner’s parents, Shaman Neka.Britt Robertson and Asa Butterfield in The Space Between Us (2017)Believing that Gardner has died, a grieving Nathaniel and Kendra let out their rage at one another. After discovering that no bodies were found in the wreckage, they receive some devastating news – Gardner’s body contains dangerously high levels of troponin, meaning that he has an enlarged heart. His heart is unable to stand Earth’s atmospheric pressure and so Gardner must be returned to Mars immediately if he is to survive. The search is resumed with renewed fervor and they discover CCTV footage of Gardner and Tulsa in a supermarket parking lot, where they have bought clothes and supplies for the journey. During the journey, Gardner tells Tulsa the truth – that he was born and raised on Mars. Unwilling to accept the truth, she forces him out of the car but forgives him once he promises never to lie to her again, although she still does not believe him.Britt Robertson and Asa Butterfield in The Space Between Us (2017)At night, they kiss by the campfire and set up their sleeping bags to sleep under the stars. In the morning, they are discovered by a follower of Shaman Neka and are brought to him. He agrees to help them. Gardner’s nose starts bleeding, a fact he conceals while Tulsa accesses the records to get the location of the beach house, which is in Summerland, California.Gary Oldman and Janet Montgomery in The Space Between Us (2017)Before they begin their journey, they make a detour to Las Vegas so Tulsa can show him the world. Gardner’s nose starts to bleed again and he collapses and is taken to a hospital. After seeing the carbon tubes in his bones on the results of an X-ray at the hospital, Tulsa tells Gardner she now believes he was born on Mars, but plans to leave him in the hospital, before foster care can come, as he is too sick to continue their journey. Gardner reveals that he knows he won’t last on Earth anymore and all he wants is to meet his father before he dies. Tulsa gives in and helps him escape. They steal a car and drive to the beach house. There, they meet the man from the video, who reveals that he is not Sarah Elliot’s husband, but her own brother. However, he thinks that the two are lying to him. Gardner runs down to the sea, where he tells Tulsa that this is where he wants to die. He collapses.Tulsa tries frantically to drag him to the shore, but he is too heavy for her. Nathaniel and Kendra arrive just in time to save him. After Nathaniel performs CPR on him, Gardner asks him about his mother Sarah and reveals that he knows that Nathaniel is his real father. Nathaniel, Kendra, and Tulsa rush Gardner to a Dream Chaser. They plan to launch into the stratosphere to stabilize him. When that proves to not be enough, a desperate Nathaniel takes the controls (since the regular pilot is not authorized to exceed the design limits) and rockets the vehicle into orbit. Free of Earth’s gravity, Gardner is revived and temporarily stabilized. Soon, Gardner boards a space shuttle to Mars. Tulsa and Gardner have an emotional parting. Kendra, who is staying on Earth because she is retiring from active flight status with NASA, adopts Tulsa. Determined to join Gardner on Mars, Tulsa joins Kendra’s training program. Back on Mars, with his father Nathaniel, Gardner is glad to be home.I don’t imagine myself watching this again, but also the film doesn’t really give you a reason to. The romance that I praise is cute but not awe inspiring, the story may have all these characters with some kind of tragedy yet you never feel them put the weight of their life on you. Then, to top it off, the women who like and love Gardner aren’t allowed or developed into full people. Tulsa doesn’t really evolve past being the girlfriend and she ends up seemingly abandoning her dream to be and do things with Gardner. Then with Kendra, she never evolves past being a surrogate mom and, like Tulsa, as the movie ends they still are but characters in Gardner’s life and not people with some semblance of their own.

 

REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

Starring

Chris Pratt (Passengers)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3)
Rafe Spall (I Give It A Year)
Justice Smith (Paper Towns)
Daniella Pineda (The Originals)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
B. D. Wong (Gotham)
Geraldine Chaplin (Talk To Her)
Jeff Goldblum (Thor: Ragnarok)
Peter Jason (Mortal Kombat)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Robert Emms (Atlantis)

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)A small team of mercenaries arrives on the abandoned Isla Nublar to collect DNA from the remains of the Indominus rex at the bottom of the park’s lagoon. After successfully collecting a bone fragment, the team’s survivors barely escape the island following attacks by the Mosasaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex; three of them do not make it.Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)A U.S. Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. debates whether Isla Nublar’s dinosaurs should be saved from an impending volcanic eruption from the island’s thought to be dormant volcano Mount Sibo. Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm testifies that the dinosaurs should be allowed to perish to correct John Hammond’s mistake of cloning them. Meanwhile, Jurassic World’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing, has established the Dinosaur Protection Group to save the animals.Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)After the Senate rules against rescuing the dinosaurs, Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood, summons Claire to his Northern California estate. Lockwood and his aide, Eli Mills, reveal a plan to relocate the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary free from human interference. Claire is needed to help reactivate the park’s dinosaur tracking system to locate the animals, particularly Blue, the last surviving Velociraptor. Although they are estranged, Claire recruits Jurassic World’s former Velociraptor trainer and Blue’s alpha, Owen Grady, to help capture her.Bryce Dallas Howard and Justice Smith in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)On Isla Nublar, Claire and former park technician Franklin Webb reactivate the online tracking system. Owen, paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez, and a mercenary team led by Ken Wheatley search for and find Blue. The encounter escalates, resulting in a mercenary soldier shooting Blue, and Wheatley tranquilizing Owen. The mercenaries take Zia with them to treat Blue’s injury. The mercenary ship, loaded with the captured dinosaurs, departs for the U.S. mainland as the volcano violently erupts and the uncaptured dinosaurs including a lone Brachiosaurus are left behind die in the eruption. Claire, Franklin, and Owen sneak aboard in time and assist Zia in transfusing Blue with Tyrannosaurus blood. The group now realize that the captured dinosaurs were never being transported to a new island and are for another purpose.Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)At the estate, Lockwood’s orphaned pre-teen granddaughter Maisie overhears Mills and auctioneer Gunnar Eversol secretly planning to auction the captured dinosaurs on the black market. They will also unveil the Indoraptor, a new genetically-modified dinosaur created by geneticist Dr. Henry Wu using Indominus rex and Velociraptor DNA. Wu wants Blue’s DNA to create an enhanced Indoraptor, unaware that Blue’s blood is contaminated. After Maisie informs Lockwood about the auction, he confronts Mills, who smothers him with a pillow. Maisie is later revealed to have been cloned from Lockwood’s deceased daughter and is the reason John Hammond, who opposed human cloning, ended their association.Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)The dinosaurs are transported to Lockwood’s estate and caged. Zia and Franklin narrowly evade capture, but Owen and Claire are apprehended and confined. Owen incites a Stygimoloch into breaking open their cell. They find Maisie, who leads them to the auction where the Indoraptor is being sold despite Wu’s protests that it is a prototype. Owen disrupts the proceedings by luring the Stygimoloch into the room. In the ensuing chaos, Wheatley tranquilizes the Indoraptor to extract a tooth as a trophy, but it feigns sedation and kills Wheatley, Eversol, and others as it escapes. The Indoraptor hunts Owen, Claire, and Maisie throughout the mansion. Zia releases Blue, who attacks the Indoraptor, causing it to fall through a glass roof to its death.Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)When a hydrogen cyanide gas leak threatens the caged dinosaurs, Maisie frees them, despite Owen’s objections. Mills attempts to flee with the Indominus rex bone but is devoured by a Carnotaurus and the Tyrannosaurus, which tramples the bone. Owen, Claire, Maisie, Zia, and Franklin safely escape, while Blue and the other released dinosaurs flee the estate grounds. In a new U.S. Senate hearing, Dr. Malcolm declares the beginning of a Neo-Jurassic Age, where humans and dinosaurs must learn to coexist. The closing scenes show the freed dinosaurs including Blue, roaming wilderness and outer urban areas.Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, and Justice Smith in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)This movie was much better then anticipated. Always been a fan of the Jurassic movies but they have always have been a similar predictable story with simailar characters and plot lines. This movie gives the franchise a fresh feel while maintaining aspects of what has made the franchise one of the most popular of all time.

REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD

JURRASIC WORLD 3D
CAST

Chris Pratt (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation)
Irrfan Khan (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil TV)
Ty simpkins (Iron Man 3)
Nick Robinson (Melissa & Joey)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Omar Sy (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
B.D. Wong (Gotham)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Lauren Lapkus (Blended)
Brian Tee (The Wolverine)
Katie McGrath (Dracula)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)

Twenty-two years after Jurassic Park was overrun by cloned dinosaurs on the Central American island of Isla Nublar, a new park, Jurassic World, has become a successful resort. The Masrani Global Corporation – owner of the genetics company InGen that creates the dinosaurs – has been operating the park on the same island for the past ten years. Brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell visit Jurassic World to see their aunt Claire Dearing, the park’s operations manager. Claire, a busy workaholic, assigns her assistant to be their guide, but the boys evade her and explore the resort on their own.

Owen Grady, a Navy veteran, has been researching the intelligence of the park’s Velociraptors. InGen security chief Vic Hoskins believes the raptors should be trained for military use despite Owen’s objections. Park owner Simon Masrani has Owen evaluate the paddock of the park’s new hybrid dinosaur, Indominus‍ rex, before the attraction opens. Owen warns Claire about the danger of raising Indominus in isolation, pointing out its lack of socialization with other animals. When the staff learns that the Indominus appears to have escaped its paddock, Owen and two others enter the enclosure. Able to camouflage itself and mask its heat signature, the Indominus suddenly appears and devours Owen’s companions before escaping into the island’s interior. Owen orders the Indominus to be killed, but Masrani instead sends a specialized unit to capture it. When most of the unit is killed, Claire orders the evacuation of the island’s northern sector.

While exploring in a gyrosphere ride, Zach and Gray enter a restricted area. The nearby Indominus attacks and destroys their sphere, but both manage to escape to the ruins of the original Jurassic Park visitor center. They repair an old Jeep Wrangler and drive back to the park resort. While Claire and Owen are searching for the boys, they encounter the Indominus and barely escape themselves. Masrani and two troopers hunt the Indominus by helicopter, but when the Indominus smashes into the park’s aviary to escape gunfire, it releases a flock of pterosaurs that collide with the helicopter, causing it to crash. Gray and Zach eventually find Owen and Claire at the resort as armed personnel subdue the pterosaurs with tranquilizers.

Assuming command, Hoskins orders that the raptors be used to track the Indominus; Owen is forced to accept Hoskins’ plan and lead the raptors. Upon reaching the Indominus, the dinosaurs begin communicating with one another. Owen realizes that the Indominus includes raptor DNA, and it becomes the raptor pack’s new alpha, taking command away from Owen. Hoskins arranges for chief geneticist Dr. Henry Wu to flee the island by helicopter with dinosaur embryos, in order to protect his research. Owen, Claire, and the boys find Hoskins at the lab packing up more embryos. Hoskins reveals his plan to create miniature versions of the Indominus for use as weapons, but a raptor breaks in and kills him.

Owen reestablishes his bond with the raptors before the Indominus reappears. The raptors attack, but are all seemingly killed. Claire releases the park’s Tyrannosaurus rex and lures it into a battle with the Indominus. The T. rex is overpowered, but before the Indominus can kill it, a surviving raptor joins the attack. The raptor and T. rex force the overwhelmed Indominus toward the lagoon, where it is dragged underwater by a Mosasaurus. Isla Nublar is once again abandoned, and the survivors are evacuated to the mainland. Zach and Gray are reunited with their parents.Jurassic World is an incredibly entertaining long-awaited sequel. I had a lot of fun watching it. It rejuvenated the franchise in a way the previous sequels couldn’t.

REVIEW: JURASSIC PARK

JURASSIC PARK 1

CAST

Sam Neill (The Piano)
Laura Dern (Everything Must Go)
Jeff Goldblum (The Fly)
Richard Attenborough (Doctor Dolittle)
Joseph Mazzello (The Social Network)
Ariana Richards (Timescape)
Bob Peck (The Storyteller)
Martin Ferrero (Get Shorty)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Miguel Sandoval (Collateral Damage)
B.D. Wong (Gotham)

Industrialist John Hammond and his bioengineering company, InGen, have created a theme park called Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar, a tropical Costa Rican island populated with cloned dinosaurs. After one of the park workers is killed by a Velociraptor, the park’s investors, represented by lawyer Donald Gennaro, insist that experts visit the park and certify it as safe. Gennaro invites mathematician Ian Malcolm, while Hammond invites paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler. Upon arrival, the group is stunned to see a live Brachiosaurus.

At the visitor center, the group learns that the cloning was accomplished by extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes that had been preserved in amber. DNA from frogs was used to fill in gaps in the dinosaur genomes. To prevent breeding, all the dinosaurs were made female. Malcolm scoffs at the idea of such controlled breeding, declaring it impossible. The crew witness the birth of a baby raptor and visit the raptor enclosure. Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm have reservations about the idea of resurrecting dinosaurs, but Hammond and Gennaro dismiss their fears.

The group is then joined by Hammond’s grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy, for a tour of the park, while Hammond oversees the trip from the park’s control room. The tour does not go as planned, with the dinosaurs failing to appear. The group later encounters a sick Triceratops. The tour is cut short as a tropical storm approaches Isla Nublar. Most of the park employees depart on a boat for the mainland and the visitors return to their electric tour vehicles, except Ellie, who stays with the park’s veterinarian to study the Triceratops.

Jurassic Park’s computer programmer, Dennis Nedry, has been bribed by Dodgson, a man involved with a corporate rival, to steal dinosaur embryos. Nedry deactivates the park’s security system to gain access to the embryo storage room. Nedry stores the embryos inside a canister disguised as Barbasol shaving cream, supplied by Dodgson. Because of Nedry, the power goes out and the tour vehicles become stuck. Most of the park’s electric fences are deactivated as well, allowing the Tyrannosaurus to escape and attack the tour group. Grant, Lex, and Tim escape while the Tyrannosaurus injures Malcolm and devours Gennaro. On his way to deliver the embryos to the island’s docks, Nedry becomes lost in the rain, crashes his Jeep, and is killed by a Dilophosaurus.

Sattler assists the park’s game warden, Robert Muldoon, in a search for survivors, but they only find an injured Malcolm before the Tyrannosaurus returns. Grant, Tim, and Lex spend the night in a tree, and befriend a Brachiosaurus. Later, they discover the broken shells of dinosaur eggs. Grant concludes that the dinosaurs have been breeding, which occurred because of their frog DNA—West African bullfrogs can change their sex in a single-sex environment, allowing the dinosaurs to do so as well, proving Malcolm right.

Unable to decipher Nedry’s code to reactivate the security system, Hammond and the park’s chief engineer Ray Arnold opt to reboot the entire park’s system. The group shuts down the park’s grid and retreats to an emergency bunker, while Arnold heads to a maintenance shed to complete the rebooting process. When Arnold fails to return, Sattler and Muldoon head to the shed. They discover the shutdown has deactivated the remaining fences and released the raptors. Muldoon distracts the raptors while Sattler goes to turn the power back on before being attacked by a raptor and discovering Arnold’s severed arm. Meanwhile, Muldoon is caught off-guard and killed by the other two raptors.

Grant, Tim and Lex reach the visitor center. Grant heads out to look for Sattler. Tim and Lex are pursued by the raptors in an industrial kitchen, but they escape and join Grant and Sattler. Lex restores full power from the control room, allowing the group to call for help. The group is cornered by the raptors, but escape when the Tyrannosaurus suddenly appears and attacks the raptors. Hammond arrives in a Jeep with Malcolm, and the entire group boards a helicopter to leave the island.All these years later, the leaps in visual magic that made Jurassic Park such an eye-opening experience at the time still impress, in a film loaded with thrill-ride action, some genuine scares and suspense and general filmmaking expertise on the part of Spielberg and his team.

 

 

REVIEW: FOCUS

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Margot Robbie (The Legend of Tarzan)
Adrian Martinez (No Activity)
Rodrigo Santoro (Rio)
Gerald McRaney (Mike & Molly)
B. D. Wong (Gotham)
Robert Taylor (Kong: Skull Island)
Dominic Fumusa (Nurse Jackie)
Brennan Brown (I Love You Phillip Morris)

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Focus (2015)Seasoned con-man Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) goes to an upscale restaurant, where an inexperienced grifter, Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie), seduces him, and then pretends they’ve been caught by her jealous husband. When the deception fails, Nicky advises them never to lose focus when faced with unexpected situations. Jess finds him in another nightclub a few days later and convinces Nicky to become her mentor. Nicky tells her about how his father, a con man named Bucky Spurgeon, was forced to shoot his grandfather when a con went wrong, a maneuver he calls “the Toledo Panic Button”.Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Focus (2015)Jess follows Nick to New Orleans, where she is introduced to Nicky’s crew as well, including the obese and profane Farhad (Adrian Martinez). She picks a few pockets as a test, and soon Nicky and Jess develop a romantic relationship, upsetting Nicky, who was taught by his father to never become emotionally involved with anyone in their line of business. At the 17th Associated Football Franchise of America Championship Game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Nicky gets into a round of increasingly extravagant bets with gambler Liyuan Tse (B.D. Wong), eventually losing all of the money the crew has earned.Margot Robbie in Focus (2015)To win it back, Nicky asks Tse to pick any player on or off the field and says that Jess will guess the number picked. A distraught Jess scans the field and notices Farhad wearing jersey number 55 and realizes it is another con. They take Tse for millions of dollars. Nicky explains to Jess how Tse had been programmed to pick 55 since he arrived, with subtle, subconscious prompts throughout his day. Afterwards, Nicky, wary of his growing emotional involvement, leaves Jess by the side of the road with her cut. He instructs the driver to take her to the airport. Jess cries as her limo drives off, leaving Nicky to climb into another waiting car.Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Focus (2015)Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires, working for billionaire motorsport team owner Rafael Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro). Garriga needs to beat a team headed by Australian businessman McEwen (Robert Taylor) to win the championship. Nicky will pretend to be a disgruntled technician on Garriga’s team willing to sell Garriga’s custom fuel use algorithm EXR. Instead he will sell McEwen a bogus version which will slow their car down during the race. At a pre-race party, Nicky runs into Jess, who is now Garriga’s girlfriend. After faking heavy drinking upon seeing Jess, Nicky has a convincing fight with Garriga in public and after being thrown out, is recruited by McEwen to provide the component.  Nicky begins pursuing Jess again, and they eventually rekindle their relationship. The head of Garriga’s security entourage, Owens (Gerald McRaney), is suspicious and narrowly misses catching the two together. Nicky delivers the component to McEwen for three million euros but also sells it to the other teams for similar amounts.BD Wong and Margot Robbie in Focus (2015)Nicky and Jess attempt to return to the United States together. However, they are caught by Garriga’s men and taken to Garriga’s garage. Jess is bound and gagged whilst Nicky is given a beating. Nicky has actually sold the real EXR to all of the various teams. Garriga is convinced that Jess had something to do with Nicky gaining access to EXR and begins to suffocate Jess by holding her nose. In order to save Jess, Nicky explains that he gained access to EXR through tricking Jess into believing he still had feelings for her. That the necklace he had given to Jess was equipped to secretly record Garriga’s password and login information. He explains that Jess was conned and knew nothing about this. However, Jess then reveals that she was only trying to seduce Garriga in order to steal his valuable watch and to make Nicky jealous. Nicky promises to come clean in order to spare Jess’s life but Owens shoots him in the chest, causing a horrified Garriga to leave. Owens then reveals himself to be Nicky’s father, Bucky, and assures Jess that he avoided any major arteries. He simply employed the “Toledo Panic Button.” Bucky then tapes up Nicky’s wounds and draws excess blood out of his son’s chest with a metal plunger so that he can breathe again. They flee the garage in Garriga’s vehicle.Will Smith in Focus (2015)Bucky drives Nicky and Jess to the hospital to treat Nicky’s punctured lung and departs with Nicky’s money as a reminder of the consequences of losing focus. After he leaves, Nicky notices that Jess snatched Garriga’s watch before he left the warehouse, and a smiling Nicky and Jess then go into the hospital together.Not really sure how this film has got some poor reviews. It was clever, funny and overall kept my focus. Will Smith is fantastic in this film, not being an over-exuberant character, which I feel some people were expecting in this film. His on screen relationship with Margot Robbie was very good, and I feel she has not got as much credit for this film as she deserves. Some fantastic camera shots, and great locations add a little bit extra to this film. I would advise not listening to reviews and going to see it for yourself and making the decision on your own. Enjoy!