REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Brake)
Jeremy Jordan (Smash)
David Harewood (Blood Diamond)
Calista Flockhart (The Last Shot)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Laura Benanti (Take The Lead)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Helen Slater (Supergirl 80s)
Owain Yeoman (Troy)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Robert Gant (Popular)
Briana Venskus (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Chris Vaance (Prison Break)
Peter Facinelli (Twilight)
Jenna Dewan Tatum (Witches of East End)
Chris Browning (Cowboys & Aliens)
Brit Morgan (True Blood)
Scott Michael Campbell (Push)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
Charles Halford (Constantine TV)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Hope Lauren (Agent Carter)
Emma Caulfield (Buffy)
Tawny Cypress (Heroes)
Italia Ricci (American Pie: Beta House)
Laura Vandervoort (Smallville)
Sara Gilbert (The Big Bang Theory)
Eddie McClintock (Bones)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers 3)


Warner Bros have had a rocky road when it comes to their superhero characters and although the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise epitomized this character, their other attempts at films like Green Lantern and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice met with criticism. Sometimes ‘dark’ does not always work, particularly when it comes to superheroes and if you want an example at this, check out the Marvel Universe of superheroes. However for their TV series (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow), they’ve successfully captured the spirit of these characters and the comic universe where they came from and thankfully Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El (aka Kara Davers) is also part of this success thanks to the excellent TV series Supergirl that stars Melissa Benoist as this intelligent and beautiful Kryptonian. Given that, the entire casting for Supergirl is perfect!

The series is also created by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg who are no strangers to the world of superheroes and compared to the entire DC Comics TV line-up, Supergirl is easily one of my favorite as it doesn’t try to be too dark but rather, uplifting and enjoyable.

Also joining Benoist as Supergirl is Mechad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen), David Harewood (Hank Henshaw or the ‘Martian Manhunter’ known as J’onn J’onzz), Chyler Leigh (Kara’s adopted sister Alex Danvers), Jeremy Jordan (Kara’s sidekick) and also Calista Flockhart who plays Cat Grant, the owner of CatCo Worldwide Media (think a modern version of the Daily Planet). Sure, some of the actors camp it up for the TV series but this campiness actually works well with the characters and the story and once again, continue with the light-hearted nature of the series.

Given that, there are some darker moments in the series but overall and compared to The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tommorrow, Supergirl is a much more colorful and hopeful story. The series even boasts Helen Slater (who played the original Supergirl in the 1984 movie) as Eliza Danvers as Kara’s adoptive mother plus Dean Cain as her father who played Superman in the classic 1993 TV series, Lois & Clark. This is also what I enjoy about Supergirl is all the cameos and whether that’s from film or the world of DC Comics itself, the creators really cram in quite a few people into the series, many as Easter Eggs.

Although each episode has a ‘villain’, the overarching villain is Laura Benanti as Alura Zor-El who plays the evil twin sister of Kara’s mother. Having additional Kryptonians in the show does increase the jeopardy for our heroine and some of these episodes are considerably darker. Then you have billionaire Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) who is not evil perse but wants the best for the world which of course causes conflict. Once again, some great villains for Supergirl. Kara’s supporting cast include an African American Jimmy Olsen who also provides a love interest for Supergirl plus their geeky tech-head sidekick Winn Schott who together attempt to protect the fictitious National City. Then you have Kara’s sister Alex who works for the DEO (Department of Extra-Normal Operations) that is run by Hank Henshaw, an alien known as J’onn J’onzz disguised as a human in order to protect the world from alien threats. The character of Henshaw also has a great history.

Interestingly, Superman is mentioned in the series and does appear off screen. He will  actually makes a full appearance in Season 2 of Supergirl but the coolest crossover in any TV series was when Grant Gustin from The Flash starred in one episode which had fanboys and fangirls gushing from the coolness factor. With 20 episodes in this collection, Supergirl does end with a cliffhanger and with a second season confirmed (moving to CW) things are looking up for the Girl of Steel.

Supergirl on Blu-ray boasts some exceptional video and audio quality that really highlights the colourful costumes, villains and heroes of this universe. For special features, we get a handful of deleted scenes plus a couple of fun documentaries about J’onn J’onzz and Supergirl. All in all, it’s a great release from Roadshow Warner.

Supergirl is a proof that superheroes don’t need to be dark and moody and this TV series captures the spirit and core of this character that thanks to its creators successfully transforms the comic into a very enjoyable, clichéd and action packed live-action series with lots of world building and character development!. An Excellent series and a must see for all DC fans.

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REVIEW: CONSTANTINE – RAGE OF CALIBAN

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CAST

Matt Ryan (Layer Cake)
Charles Halford (Agents of SHIELD)
Harold Perrineau (Lost)

960You can tell “Rage Of Caliban” is gonna be a good one from the last-minute excuse for Angélica Celaya’s absence: “Zed’s in art class.” All week? Apparently, because John and Chas spend the run-up to Halloween in Birmingham, Alabama figuring out how to exorcise a young boy safely after What Happened In Newcastle. Creator Daniel Cerone writes and Neil Marshall directs, in case you needed any more proof that this was originally the second episode of Constantine. Why sit on it? Just to get the ball rolling on the post-Liv version of the show? Yes, “Rage Of Caliban” sounds like a lost third-season Star Trek about some neglected godlike alien, but it’s actually a demon seed story that’s about as good as a network demon seed story can be.See, there just isn’t that much life left in evil children. Nothing short of a Claire Denis rethink is going to revive childlike drawings of scary things or kids smiling with black eyes. True enough, “Rage Of Caliban” isn’t that scary, but its scary scenes are vivid. Constantine is trying its damnedest with the look, sound, and mood of those scenes. The cold open is an establishing shot of a house and then a fluid pan—like Marshall’s demon shots in the pilot—through a house and up to the ceiling where a bloody man is being held, and then we follow him to the floor where he lands in front of a cowering girl. For some reason the demon moves on from her to the next child along the psychic railroad—another pilot callback, and this time we get to see what that railroad effectively means for a certain kind of spirit—a bullied boy named Henry. With Henry we get a couple of long suspense scenes that immerse us in that house, a standoff with a dog that struggles against his leather collar so mightily the sound is still haunting my ears, and a carving knife mishap that never really feels threatening but still effectively tightens the screws. The playground fight is silly, and the telekinetic explosions are too harmless to bother a mouse, but so what? Cerone and Marshall give evil children a fighting chance.The real reason I suspect producers sat on “Rage Of Caliban” so long is they wanted to get into a groove with the new face of Constantine—John, Zed, Chas, and Manny—since they threw out the old one at the end of the pilot. Unfortunately that means we’ve gone five episodes without really finding out The Deal With Manny, which is that he can only help through guidance. “When humanity was granted free will, angels lost the power to directly influence events on earth.” John takes that to mean Manny’s just here to shoot the shit. He’s not wrong. But Manny is allowed to offer guidance, which I guess means cryptic counsel and which I don’t think actually has any bearing on John’s ability to solve the case. Manny tells him to think about when he was a child in order to appeal to Henry, or rather Marcello, the possessing spirit who was once a boy who got revenge on his abusive father by introducing him to an axe. Now Marcello’s catatonic in a psychiatric hospital. His animating spirit is off killing more parents.That’s the core of this evil children story, violent dads and helpless kids who suddenly get to be not so helpless. Marcello’s dad used to chop his fingers off on a bloody stump. John’s used to beat him so much he considered suicide. And Henry’s is a macho tough guy who wants Henry to stand up for himself. When John first arrives in the guise of the new school counselor, shirt tucked in and tie too short, Henry’s dad knocks John out while he’s leaving. He’s not abusive to Henry, although he does mock him for crying wolf about someone in his room at night. Henry’s just very sensitive to not living up to his father’s vision of masculinity and the strain that’s putting on his parents’ relationship. He can’t handle the discord in his house. Luckily his new friend and cohabitant Marcello is quite talented at dealing with anger toward parents. “Danse Vaudou” ultimately spun itself into a metaphor for survivor’s guilt. “Rage Of Caliban” is more deliberate, but it lays out a motif and mostly leaves it at at that. A child can react like Marcello and continue a cycle of violence, or he can react like John and endure? The episode never really resolves Henry’s story—what happens next time he’s bullied at school? Is it okay for him to fight back?—but at least his happy family is restored.The emotion comes from John’s story. First of all it’s actually a little funny. For instance, back at the home base, Chas starts playing with a sword. He asks what it does and then segues into a story about how he drove Renee away and how John never listens. John takes the sword from him. “This is the Sword Of Night. Compels the holder to speak the truth.” Not only do we finally get some specifics on Manny but the John-Chas relationship has never been clearer. The school counselor get-up is a good sight gag on its own, but the throwaway “I told Chas this wouldn’t work” is so evocative I can picture them bickering about it. And as for the heart of the story, all it takes is a quick flashback to What Happened In Newcastle to explain why John’s so afraid of exorcising the boy. Last time he sent a girl to Hell, and what with The Engorging Evil, who knows what it might take to pry Marcello’s grasp from Henry’s body. As usual, getting rid of the spirit ultimately looks so easy Zed could do it, but there’s a healthy serving of catharsis in the moment Henry comes to in the haunted house from The Guest. John did it! There’s never any real threat of him not saving the day, but the episode imbues this exorcism with all of John’s self-doubt. Saving Henry is an act of faith. And it’s rewarded.

REVIEW: CONSTANTINE (2014) THE TV SERIES

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CAST

Matt Ryan (Layer Cake)
Angelica Celaya (Dallas)
Charles Halford (Agents of SHIELD)
Harold Perrineau (Lost)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Michael James Shaw (Limitless TV)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal TV)
Jonjo O’Neill (Dragonheart 3)
Charles Parnell (Pariah)
Emmett J. Scanlan (The Clinic)
Mark Margolis (Scarface)
Lucy Griffiths (Winter’s Tale)
Skyler Day (Redemption MAddie)
Claire Van Der Boom (The Pacific)

DC/Vertigo’s John Constantine leapt from the sordid, scary pages of his Hellblazer comics thanks to EPs David Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel) and Daniel Cerone (Dexter, Charmed). Matt Ryan, as the titular hero, was really effective in bringing Constantine to life on screen. Flippant when called for. Vulnerable when need be. All the while – whether casting out a demon from some poor body or battling one within himself – creating a very commanding, likable presence on screen. John Constantine was a the sort of hero you had to get right immediately and Ryan excelled.

John’s back up proved reliable from a charismatic standpoint. Chas and Zed were great characters and as the serious progressed we got to see their back story’s and what made them the way they are.


I really liked that Newcastle was used as the show’s jumping off point, and that throughout the season John would have to atone in various ways with scattered members of that ill-fated team, but his own team often suffered. Even though we’re only talking about 13 episodes here, the show still made good use of a seasonal arc format. Even using the “Rising Darkness” to both inform and be the cause of a procedural “case of the week” structure . The “Scry Map” gave John demons and ghosts to chase, all under the umbrella that hell was slowly encroaching upon the world of the living. And while not every “case of the week” landed, a couple of stories ripped from the comics came alive in (remixed) cool ways (“A Feast of Friends,” “The Saint of Last Resorts: Part 1” and “Waiting for the Man”). Along with some DC notables like Felix Faust, Eclipso’s Black Diamond, and Jim Corrigan.


I liked that Manny turned out to be the villain right at the end of the finale. Mostly because the “Rising Darkness” needed a face. The Brujeria were mentioned quite a bit, but never shown. Was the twist worth sitting through a handful of episodes where I wondered why Manny was even there at all? Maybe, maybe not. But the show needed a “big bad,” and whether or not Manny turns out to be Satan himself or just an evil angel, he still fits the bill nicely.

Constantine had a cool look, an awesome lead, and a confidence that you don’t see in most fledgling series. As the series went on it became an intriguing show with many dimensions that would of been worth exploring in later seasons, this is a show that was cancelled too soon and now with a unresolved cliffhanger we may never know where it will lead. On the plus side  Matt Ryan’s Constantine is coming too Arrow, so we at least get to see him at least one more time.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 1

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

J. August Richards (Angel)
Shannon Lucio (True Blood)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
David Conrad (Roswell)
Ian Hart (Finding Neverland)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Cullen Douglas (Scandal)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Saffron Burrows (Troy)
Maximiliano Hernández (Warrior)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Charles Halford (Constantine)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters II)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Christine Adams (Pushing Daisies)
Maiara Walsh (The Starving Games)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bill Paxton (Apollo 13)
Elena Satine (Revenge)
B.J. Britt (Veronica Mars)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)
Dylan Bruno (Carrie 2)
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)
Patton Oswalt (Two and A Half Men)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)

When Marvel’s cinematic universe first took off, the next move was to make the leap to television, Marvel turned to Avengers director Joss Whedon’s brother Jed and his wife/collaborator Maurissa Tancharoen, who took the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One character Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), the man who helped gather the heroes who became the Avengers, and made him the star of his own series, focused on his team at S.H.I.E.L.D., the international peacekeeping organization run by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson.) The hour-long drama would build off of the well-known heroics, and tell connected tales of espionage, as Coulson and his squad respond to threats to humanity around the world.Now, in case you haven’t seen The Avengers, you should know that in a climactic battle, Coulson was very badly injured, which became a rallying point for the heroes. Well, he’s back, but how he made it back is a large part of the series’ foundation, which is revealed in piecemeal over the course of the first season. Coulson’s search for the truth is intertwined with the arrival of the newest member of his team, a hacker known as Skye (Chloe Bennett), who has plenty of secrets of her own, in part due to her past as a rogue “hacktivist.” Trust is a massive theme in the series, as no one is sure about anyone else but they have to rely on each other if they are going to complete their missions, which remind one of Fringe in a big way, as the team investigates strange phenomena in order to keep humanity safe.Lorelei, Though certainly not a big-name Marvel character (her sister The Enchantress has a much higher profile) and not the first recognizable super-powered character on the show (that would be the cybernetic assassin Deathlok, whose origin is revealed over the course of the season), Lorelei tips the scales with her appearance because she, as an Asgardian, creates a direct link to the world of Thor, and also because she’s followed to Earth by Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), the Asgardian warrior from the two Thor films. Finally, fans exclaimed, there’s some honest to goodness superhero action to be enjoyed, and that was followed by direct ties into the new Captain America movie, picking up the plot from the theaters and bringing its effects home. This was the crossover dream that comics mastered decades ago, and now Marvel was making happen between movies and TV (and you didn’t really even need to see both sides to enjoy them separately.)After offering this cookie to the fans, the series shifted back to the spy game though, where it would stay for the rest of the season, introducing Bill Paxton and Saffron Burrows in major roles) as Coulson’s organization crumbled around him and the team shifted from saving the world to saving each other. Coulson’s team, which, aside from Skye, includes Ward (Brett Dalton), a perfect soldier; badass pilot May (Ming-Na Wen) and science specialists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), comes together quickly as a unit on the series, establishing their personalities right off the bat, with Skye serving as the show’s young star, showing the old guard how a new generation does the job (though still requiring saving and offering a hearty cry every now and then) and Fitz and Simmons serving as the audience’s tech-loving stand-ins, the most down-to-earth parts of a fantastical realm. May though, with her economy of words and excess of butt-kicking skill, is the “Wolverine” of the show, and her relationship with Coulson serves as a backbone for the series. Naturally, Gregg’s performance is integral to the show, and he continues to shine in the role of Coulson, giving us a smartass secret agent for the ages.While the show is a serial and does well at telling action-adventure arcs of mystery and intrigue, building the mythology and establishing a larger storyline, it could do one-offs as well, including two of the season’s best episodes, “FZZT” which ties into The Avengers while telling a standalone story that put a spotlight on Fitz and Simmons, and “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, which puts the team on a train and tries out some interesting storytelling structure. The show also has its humorous side, taking its tone from the Marvel films, which blend grits with grins (and though Patton Oswalt gets a featured role in one episode, for once, he’s not responsible for the laughs.) For the most part, this mix works well, as it helps illustrate the growing camaraderie between the teammates and keeps the tone light, but it can get out of hand very quickly. The final episode, where much of what’s been revealed over the course of the previous 21 episodes comes to a head, the lightheartedness (thanks to an appearance by a famous friend of the team) goes over the top.