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: GOTHAM – SEASON 1

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Touch)
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)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)
John Doman (The Wire)
Victoria Cartagena (Salt)
Andrew Stewart -Jones (Beauty and The Beast)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Grayson McCouch (Armageddon)
Brette Taylor (Rescue Me)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)
Jeremy Bobb (The Kitchen)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
David Zayas (Dexter)
Frank Whaley (Luke Cage)
Jeremy Davidson (Roswell)
Margaret Colin (Independence Day)
Susan Misner (The Forgotten)
Kim Director (Blair Witch 2)
Leslie Odom Jr. (Red Tails)
Christopher James Baker (Sanctum)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Makenzie Leigh (The Slap)
Lesley-Ann Brandt (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Dash Mihok (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Julian Sands (Smallville)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Chelsea Spack (Dead To Me)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek: DS9)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The Series)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
John Clarence Stewart (Luke Cage)

MV5BNTQ4MDU3NDQ5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjc0OTM3MjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1445,1000_AL_Gotham City has an old, relatively vague history independent of when Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot down in an alleyway, usually the first and primary thing that comes to mind about the motivation that drives Batman: the crime that got so bad that it took his good-natured parents away from him. The surroundings responsible for the billionaires’ murder weren’t created overnight, though, and intensified in response to their death, a time period that often goes unaddressed unless a detail about Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the brooding hero needs mentioning. As a response to the character’s unrelenting popularity the folks at DC aim to use that largely unexplored space to provide an origin story for the city’s violence and corruption, an attempt to recapture the magic of Smallville in a darker environment. The result is Gotham, a blend of crime-case procedure and mobster politics that also fills in the gaps between the orphaning of Bruce Wayne to where Batman begins.Taking pages out of the playbook of the comic-book series “Gotham Central”, the show largely focuses on the interworking parts of the Gotham City Police Department, notably the arrival of rookie detective Jim Gordon in the midst of rampant corruption. The OC star Ben McKenzie brings initiative and fire to the character, a war veteran and straight-laced servant of the law who’s thrown together with a dirty partner in Harvey Bullock, whose sympathetic flaws are marvelously embodied by Donal Logue. Their first case together? The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, later revealed to be connected to the city’s organized crime activity. In their investigation, Gordon quickly gets introduced to key players pulling the strings in Gotham, notably a swanky nightclub operator in Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her aging, rational boss, Carmine Falcone (John Doman). Then, there’s Oswald Cobblepott (Robin Lord Taylor), an attendant to Fish whose wavering allegiances also come to the surface in response to Gordon and Bullock’s investigation, working him into a position of persistent danger and upward mobility if he plays his cards right.Against the backdrop of a Gotham City that combines Tim Burton’s gothic vision with Christopher Nolan’s stark approach into a relatively timeless metro area, Gotham comes in hard and fast with its nods to the DC universe, eliminating any early concerns about how much of the mythology it’ll incorporate. In fact, the show actually suffers from an oversaturation of these references, especially in how many of the classic villains have benign links to the GCPD in their pasts and, quite simply, how many have already shown up and taken shape into their well-known personalities. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, nor with tweaking what’s known about the universe into its own continuity, but it does detract from the production succeeding as a credible prequel to the age of Batman — touted early on as a selling point for the show.It’s fascinating to see the riddlesome Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) as an awkward, morbid Dexter-like puzzle-solver working in the precinct, and to see a young Catwoman giving prowler pointers to a young Batman not long after she witnessed the infamous Wayne murder.The areas where Gotham works are within the politics of the GCPD and the evolving criminal element, and, by association, the origin stories of Jim Gordon’s fight against the department and The Penguin’s ascent up the crime ladder. Elevated by Gordon’s furious diligence against the powers-that-be who keep him from properly doing his job. Gotham is in a comfort zone while exploring maneuverings of Robin Lord Taylor’s brilliantly grimy performance as Oswald Cobblepott. Combining the knowledge that he’ll eventually become a massive player in Gotham with the unpredictable, volatile nature of his younger self exemplifies what a prequel can accomplish.1066711-0-q80Gotham really exposes the crux of its issues in the origin story of Bruce Wayne, built around the young orphaned billionaire developing the gumption and skill to investigate his parents’ murder, planting the seeds for his growth into the Caped Crusader. As Gotham grows in it’s first season it becomes fascinating show dealing with the city before Batman came along and as it heads into it’s second season who can truly see the show has found it’s footing and will hopefully be around for sometime to come.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: APOKOLIPS WAR

Starring

Matt Ryan (Legends of Tomorrow)
Jerry O’Connell (Piranha 3D)
Taissa Farmiga (The Nun)
Stuart Allan (Rise of The Guardians)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Ray Chase (Your Name)
Jason O’Mara (One For The Money)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Rainn Wilson (Super)
Rebecca Romijn (Satanic Panic)
Camilla Luddington (The Pact 2)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly betty)
Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T.)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Sachie Alessio (The Lost One)
Roger R. Cross (First Wave)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)

Shemar Moore, Jason O'Mara, Matt Ryan, and Camilla Luddington in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Following two failed attempts to destroy Earth, Darkseid and his Furies have conquered countless worlds. At the Watchtower, the Justice League, joined by new members John Constantine and his lover Zatanna, plan a counter-attack to Darkseid’s conquest but unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by Darkseid through Cyborg. The League travel to Apokolips while the Teen Titans remain on Earth as a “home-guard”. Upon arrival, the League are attacked by “Paradooms”; genetic hybrids of Parademons and Doomsday. Several heroes are killed during the attack while Darkseid dismantles Cyborg and replaces his parts with Apokoliptian technology, depowers Superman by injecting liquid kryptonite into his body, enslaves Batman into his mind control with the Mobius Chair, imprisons Barry Allen to eternally run on a treadmill powering the planet, and turns the remaining heroes into mechanical Furies. Elsewhere, Zatanna is killed by Paradooms as John hesitantly flees back to Earth.Hynden Walch in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Two years later, Darkseid has successfully taken over Earth with Lex Luthor being a New God representative, reporting to Batman on progress of the devices called “Reapers” being sent to mine Earth’s core. The surviving heroes blame Clark Kent, Superman’s human identity, for their failure. Clark rescues a depressed Raven in search for John for a locator spell to track Damian Wayne, so that they can use him to free Batman. After locating Damian, Raven teleports the group there which severely weakens her due to her father Trigon’s attempts to escape Raven’s magical borne prison. After recruiting Damian, they then teleport to Metropolis where Lois Lane has recruited former members of the Suicide Squad, now led by Harley Quinn following Amanda Waller’s death from cancer. With the team gathered, Lois plans to use the Boom Tube gate from LexCorp to return to Apokolips to free Batman after Darkseid leaves to conquer the planet Oa. At the building, they are confronted by Lex who reveals he was just working undercover. Lex then teleports Clark’s team to Apokolips, while Lois, Lex and the Suicide Squad stay behind to guard the portal.Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Having discovered Lex’s betrayal, Batman informs Darkseid who sends his Furies to Apokolips while Batman sends Paradooms to LexCorp. On Apokolips, Clark’s team finds Barry and breaks him free from the treadmill. John also sees into Barry’s mind and discovers he was the one who caused the Flashpoint,[d] leading into the present-day’s events. They then discover Cyborg also under Darkseid’s mind control but are confronted by the Furies. John frees Diana using her Lasso of Truth, and she stays behind to fend off the Furies. He then performs a techno spell on Cyborg to free him as well just as Batman and Darkseid return. Darkseid orders Batman to kill Damian but hesitates after remembering the night his parents were killed, thus freeing Batman but at the cost of Damian’s life. This angers Raven, which releases Trigon with John offering himself as a host, but the demon possesses Clark instead and kills John.Jerry O'Connell and Rosario Dawson in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Back at LexCorp, Lois’ team become surrounded by Paradooms. Before blowing up the building and sacrificing herself, Lois transmits a goodbye message to Apokolips. This triggers Clark to break free of Trigon’s control and regain his powers. Meanwhile, John is briefly taken to the afterlife where Zatanna reveals that Batman wanted John as a backup plan should the original assault fail, she therefore made him flee using her magic in the beginning. Now free of his guilt for running, John is revived by Zatanna as Raven also revives Damian. Raven and John give Trigon his physical body back to fight Darkseid as a distraction. Cyborg teleports the Paradooms back to Apokolips and the heroes to Earth before creating a black hole that drags Darkseid, Trigon, and Apokolips into oblivion, sacrificing himself.Jason O'Mara and Tony Todd in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Despite their victory, Batman reveals that 31% of the Earth’s molten core has been lost, dooming the planet as the Earth’s rotation will be affected. To prevent this, John convinces Barry to erase this timeline and create a second Flashpoint, despite Barry’s promise to his wife Iris to not do it again. As he does so, the heroes watch their timeline being reset while Damian and Raven kiss. This erases everything prior to the events of the movie with Barry informing everyone of what is to come, leaving their new upcoming fate in the war with Darkseid unknown, but, as John told Barry, would be better than where they were at now.Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romijn in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)This is the greatest dc movie to ever been done it’s shocking, sad and incredibly entertaining and the best thing about it, it’s an original dc story.

REVIEW: Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Starring

Margot Robbie (Focus)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Gridiron Gang)
Rosie Perez (The Counselor)
Chris Messina (Sharp Objects)
Ella Jay Basco (Glimpse of Heaven)
Ali Wong (American Housewife)
Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep)
Steven Williams (IT)
François Chau (Lost)
Derek Wilson (Future Man)
Matthew Willig (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Bojana Novakovic (I, Tonya)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Yoru Mother)
David Ury (3 From Hell)
Sala Baker (Deadpool 2)

 

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)Sometime after the Enchantress’ defeat, the Joker breaks up with Harley Quinn, throwing her out on the streets of Gotham City. She is taken in by Doc, the elderly owner of a Taiwanese restaurant, and recovers from her relationship by cutting her hair, adopting a spotted hyena (whom she names after Bruce Wayne), and taking up roller derby.Ewan McGregor in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)One night, Harley gets drunk at a nightclub owned by gangster Roman Sionis, and cripples Roman’s driver after he insults her. She then meets burlesque singer Dinah Lance, who later rescues an intoxicated Harley from an attempted abduction; that night, Harley blows up the Ace Chemicals plant where she pledged herself to the Joker years prior as a way to publicly announce their breakup. Spotting the scuffle from his bedroom, Roman is impressed by Dinah’s skills and appoints her as his new driver. Meanwhile, GCPD Detective Renee Montoya investigates a series of mob killings carried out by a crossbow-wielding vigilante. Finding Harley’s necklace at the scene of the Ace Chemicals explosion, Montoya notes that Harley is in danger without the Joker’s protection. She approaches Dinah about being an informant on Roman for them, but Dinah rejects the offer.Jurnee Smollett-Bell in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)Roman sends Dinah and his sadistic right-hand-man Victor Zsasz to retrieve a diamond embedded with the account numbers to the fortune of the Bertinelli crime family, who were massacred years ago. Young pickpocket Cassandra “Cass” Cain steals the diamond from Zsasz, but swallows it after she is arrested. Harley, fleeing from Montoya and several other people she had wronged in the past, is captured by Roman’s men. Zsasz informs Roman that Cassandra has the diamond, and Dinah warns Montoya about the situation. As Roman tortures Harley and prepares to have her killed, she offers to recover the diamond for him. Roman agrees but also places a bounty on Cass to shake up the competition. Breaking into the GCPD with a variety of firework-inspired non-lethal grenade launcher rounds, Harley frees Cassandra and the pair escape to the evidence warehouse. They are ambushed by a number of thugs, but manage to kill them all.Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)After escaping from the evidence warehouse, Harley and Cassandra bond while hiding out at the former’s apartment. Doc is approached for information by the “crossbow killer”, who is revealed to be Helena Bertinelli. Having survived her family’s massacre and becoming trained as an assassin, Helena has been targeting each of the gangsters responsible for her family’s murders, preferring the moniker of “The Huntress”. Quinn’s apartment is later bombed by criminals looking for Cass, and Doc sorrowfully reveals that he betrayed Harley, selling them out for money. Harley calls Roman and offers to turn Cassandra over in exchange for his protection, agreeing to meet at an abandoned amusement park (mostly one of the Joker’s former hideouts). Dinah notifies Montoya of the rendezvous, while Zsasz notices Dinah’s treacherous text message en route to the park and informs Roman. Devastated by Dinah’s betrayal, Roman dons his ritualistic mask from which he gets his villainous nickname, “Black Mask”.Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)At the park, Montoya confronts Harley, but Harley knocks her out of a window. Zsasz arrives and tranquilizes Harley before holding Dinah at gunpoint, but he is killed by Helena, who reveals Zsasz was the last of her family’s killers. Montoya returns and a stand-off ensues, until they realize Roman has arrived with a small army of masked criminals, known collectively as the False Face Society. Using Quinn’s old gear, the makeshift team successfully withstand and repel their attack. During the battle, Cass is captured by Roman, while Dinah reveals her metahuman ability of supersonic-level screaming, defeating an additional number of mobsters aligned with Roman.Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)Harley gives chase on roller skates, and with assistance from Helena, the pair pursue Roman. At a nearby pier, the final confrontation occurs. Taking aim at a shadowy figure in the distance she believes to be Roman, Harley wastes her last bullet as Roman appears from behind the figure, which is revealed to be a statue. Roman holds Cassandra hostage and prepares to kill her. However, Cassandra pulls the ring from a grenade she had taken from Harley’s weapons chest earlier, slipping the grenade in Roman’s jacket. Harley throws Roman from the pier just before the grenade detonates and kills him.Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie, and Ella Jay Basco in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)In the aftermath of destroying Roman’s criminal empire, Montoya quits the GCPD. With the money within the accounts hidden inside the diamond, she joins Dinah and Helena in establishing a team of vigilantes – the Birds of Prey. Harley and Cassandra escape, selling the diamond itself to a pawnshop and starting their own contract killing business. In a post-credits audio sequence, Harley is about to reveal a secret about Batman, but the film ends mid-sentence.Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)After Suicide Squad split DC fans down the middle, one might’ve assumed that Harley Quinn’s story in the DCEU was over. It wasn’t. Birds of Prey delivers a stunning new look at the DCEU. It’s additions of Black Canary, Huntress, and Renée Montoya provide a new type of character develop that we’ve never seen in DC movies before. In addition to Black Mask, this badass team of superheroes provides a perfect blend of insanity, awkwardness, and that feeling of total badass you get from watching the team plow through Black Mask’s entire army. Of course, I couldn’t close off this review without mentioning Margot Robbie’s stellar performance as the siren herself. Nobody else could possibly pull off Harley like she does.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: RED SON

 

Starring

Jason Isaacs Star Trek: Discovery)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Vanessa Marshall (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Paul Williams Baby Driver)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Jim Meskimen (Apollo 13)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
William Salyers (Batman vs. Two-Face)
Roger Craig Smith (Batman Ninja)
Jason Spisak (Avengers Assemble)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Travis Willingham (Super HeroSquad)
Winter Ave Zoli (Sons of Anarchy)

Jason Isaacs in Superman: Red Son (2020)In the Soviet Union during the year 1946, a young boy is chased by a gang of bullies. A young girl, Svetlana, defends the boy and chases the bullies away. He reveals to her that he was not scared for his own safety but that of the bullies, and demonstrates superhuman strength and the ability to fly. Svetlana tells the boy he can use his powers to help the country.Jason Isaacs and Vanessa Marshall in Superman: Red Son (2020)Decades after, the Soviet Union releases propaganda film of an alien superhuman being under the command of Joseph Stalin whom the American media dubs “The Soviet Superman”. United States President Eisenhower tasks Lex Luthor to develop a countermeasure against the superhuman. Meanwhile, Superman prevents a satellite from crashing into Metropolis, which leads to Lex’s wife Lois Luthor securing an interview with him. She shows him a top secret document that leads Superman to a secret gulag where he finds a dying Svetlana, imprisoned there because she knew his real identity. Enraged, Superman confronts Stalin about the gulag and destroys him with heat vision for his cold ways. Superman becomes leader of the Soviet Union, pledging to use his powers for good and to spread the influence of the Soviet state.Jason Isaacs and Winter Ave Zoli in Superman: Red Son (2020)Superman uses his powers and influence to stop conflict and bring nations to the Soviet side, and forges an alliance with Wonder Woman and Themyscira. Luthor unveils a clone of Superman dubbed “Superior Man”, made from harvesting Superman’s cells from the crashed satellite and remotely powered with an orb of energy, and sends it out to confront Superman. The two superhumans battle until Luthor overloads the clone with too much energy, causing it to swell up and degenerate as the fight progresses until it finally collapses and dissolves. Superman is appalled and sickened by Luthor’s actions.Jason Isaacs and Vanessa Marshall in Superman: Red Son (2020)Superman stops an invasion by alien cyborg Brainiac but he is unable to prevent the city of Stalingrad from being shrunken; he reprograms the cyborg into becoming his adviser. He is also forced to deal with the terrorist Batman, a survivor of the secret gulag who blames Superman for his family’s death. Batman kidnaps Wonder Woman and binds her with the Lasso of Truth and leads Superman into a trap where lamps simulating Krypton’s red sun neutralize his powers, having been created by Lex. Batman beats Superman up and prepares to leave him to die in a basement until Wonder Woman breaks free of the lasso and destroys the power source for the lamps, restoring Superman’s powers but severely injuring her. Batman chooses to kill himself than let Superman lobotomize him and turn him into a mindless slave. A wounded and suddenly aged Wonder Woman leaves Superman, upset by the brutality of both sides of this conflict.In the United States, Luthor becomes President and ushers in a new age of prosperity, threatening Soviet dominance. Finding Abin Sur’s crashed spaceship and body, he tasks Colonel Hal Jordan with uncovering the immense power of the green ring found on the alien’s body, leading to the formation of the Green Lantern Corps. Jordan leads an attack against Superman, which is briefly halted by Wonder Woman, who tries one last time to end the conflict before announcing that Themyscira will be closed to all men forever. With Brainiac’s encouragement, Superman sets out to confront Luthor, only to find Lois with the bottled city of Stalingrad at the White House. Superman tells her that for years he has tried to reverse the miniaturization of the city but has failed, but Brainiac reveals that the technology has always been available to him but he had chosen not to use it. Realising the error of his ways, Superman stands down but an enraged Brainiac spitefully destroys it and pushes on with the attack, revealing that the reprogramming failed and how he was using Superman so he could conquer the world himself. Superman and Luthor battle Brainiac and destroy him, but his ship is set to self-destruct upon his defeat; Superman flies it out into deep space, apparently dying in the explosion.At a ceremony in front of the Capitol Building, a disguised Superman watches from the crowd as Luthor announces his resignation from his Presidency in order to spend more time with Lois, handing over the country to Vice-President James Olsen.The DC animated line-up has been impressive and Red Son had a lot of hype to live up to. I’m happy to say this was impressive and allows the filmmakers to push the boundaries, as opposed to the core series. It’s not a completely faithful adaptation, but it is worthy and a lot of fun. Lots of twists for fans unaware of the comic book storyline.

REVIEW: HOLLYWOODLAND

 

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Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
Adrien Brody (Predators)
Diane Lane (Man of Steel)
Bob Hoskins (Hook)
Robin Tunney (The Craft)
Kathleen Robertson (Bates Motel)
Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Brad William Henke (Lost)
Molly Parker (Lost In Space)
Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Hannibal)
Ted Atherton (V-Wars)

south-park-the-end-of-serialization-as-we-know-it-645x370In June 1959, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a Los Angeles private investigator more interested in generating an income than in devotion to his clients, is spying on the wife of a man named Chester Sinclair to find if she is cheating. On a visit to his own ex-wife Laurie, Simo learns that his son is upset over the recent death of actor George Reeves, who played Superman on television. Reeves was found dead inside his Beverly Hills home with a gunshot wound to the head, which police ruled a suicide.south-park-the-end-of-serialization-as-we-know-it-645x370Simo learns from a former police colleague that the Reeves suicide has aspects that the cops don’t want to touch. Sensing the potential for making a name for himself, Simo begins investigating and notes several apparent conflicts with the official version of Reeves’s death. He also bickers with Laurie over his failures as a father, particularly now when his son seems so troubled.ben-affleck-hollywoodland

Years previously, in 1951, Reeves (Ben Affleck) is a charming man whose acting career has stalled since appearing in Gone with the Wind. He catches the eye of a beautiful woman and they end the night in each other’s arms. In the morning, a newspaper photo reveals to Reeves that the woman is Toni Mannix, the wife of Eddie Mannix, the general manager of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Frightened that an affair with a studio boss’s wife will destroy what is left of his career, Reeves is angry that Toni did not tell him. She claims to have an open relationship with Mannix and tells him not to worry. The much wealthier Toni begins to buy Reeves expensive gifts such as a house, a car and jewellery. Reeves lands the starring role in the television series Adventures of Superman, based on the comic book hero. The role makes Reeves famous and gives him a steady income, but he longs for more “serious” work and is uncomfortable with the public’s stereotype of him as Superman, resulting in snickers when he is seen on screen in the war film From Here to Eternity.south-park-the-end-of-serialization-as-we-know-it-645x370As the years pass, Reeves becomes bitter at being a kept man and at Toni for not using her clout to help his career. He barbeques his Superman costume to “celebrate” the program’s cancellation in 1958. He also meets a young woman in New York City, actress Leonore Lemmon, and leaves Toni for her. Toni is broken hearted and furious and seethes at her “mistreatment” by Reeves. Simo initially suspects that Leonore might have accidentally shot Reeves during an argument and imagines how the scenario might have played out. Simo is beaten at his home by thugs, apparently working for Mannix, who are trying to scare him off the case. This and other evidence leads Simo to suspect that Mannix was the one who had Reeves murdered. Simo has a vision of how that killing would have occurred.

south-park-the-end-of-serialization-as-we-know-it-645x370

Sinclair murders his wife, having grown impatient waiting for Simo’s report. A guilt-plagued Simo gets drunk, then visits his son’s school, where his inebriation scares the boy. Simo visits Reeves’ manager, Arthur Weissman, who has a home movie that Reeves shot to promote some wrestling work. Reeves’ sadness and disappointment with his life is on display in the footage. Simo’s final imagined variation on Reeves’ death concludes with the actor shooting himself. This is the most vivid of the three scenarios, and Simo imagines himself in the upstairs bedroom watching the suicide. Each of the scenes imagined by Simo begins with Reeves playing guitar and singing “Aquellos Ojos Verdes (Green Eyes)” in Spanish for his house guests. After each of the three imagined renditions, Reeves says goodnight to his guests, then retires to his bedroom upstairs, just before the gunshot. Reeves’ quest for success and Simo’s realization of parallels to his own existence cause the detective to re-evaluate his life. Simo watches another home movie, this one of himself and Laurie and their son in happier days. He goes to Laurie’s house wearing a suit and tie, greeting his son hopefully.ben-affleck-hollywoodland

Hollywoodland intercuts a biopic of the last eight years in the life of actor George Reeves. It also  flawlessly evokes the 1950’s visually and tells a compelling neo-noir tale about ambition, greed, sex and the lure of stardom. A Must see.

 

REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN – SEASON 1

Harley Quinn (2019)

Starring

Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lake Bell (The Secret Life of Pets)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
J. B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Charles Adler (Rugrats)
James Adomian (Storks)
Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife and Kids)
Briana Cuoco (The Lydia Bennet!!)
Andy Daly (Semi-Pro)
Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Sean Giambrone (The Secret Life of Pets 2)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad Show)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show)
Howie Mandel (Gremlins)
Vanessa Marshall (Final Space)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Natalie Morales (Santa Clarita Diet)
Frankie Muniz (Agent Cody Banks)
Matt Oberg (Sisters)
Rhea Perlman (Sing)
Jim Rash (Sky High)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Nicole Sullivan (The King of Queens)
Wanda Sykes (Clerks II)
Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys)
James Wolk (Watchmen TV)

Diedrich Bader and Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)DC Universe’s funny, gory supervillain comedy mixes rollicking action with psychological growth. In DC Universe’s Harley Quinn, a gloriously foul-mouthed and blood-spattered adult cartoon, our psychologist-turned-supervillain heroine finds herself in a brutal skirmish with her own parents, who are trying to kill her. (First, they accidentally blew grandma’s head off, then they put a peekaboo hole through grandpa.) Harley beats her emotionally abusive father to a pulp in a filial dynamic I haven’t seen since Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight. “All I wanted was what every Jewish mother wants — for you to marry a doctor!” her mother wails, brandishing a bloody knife. “I AM A DOCTOR!” Harley (Kaley Cuoco) erupts in a zing so nuclear it nearly knocked me as dead as grandma.Kaley Cuoco, Tony Hale, and Ron Funches in The Final Joke (2020)Harley Quinn is the story of what happens when a woman’s ego happens to be as inflated as any mediocre man’s. It’s one of the best surprises of the year. The show stems from Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker and Dean Lorey, who have created another clever postmodern take on superhero lore, à la The Incredibles, The Boys, Watchmen and Powerless. (All three were executive producers on the latter.)Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)In 13 zippy, violent and irreverent half-hour episodes, we’re introduced to lovesick Harley, a minor sidekick in unbecoming pantomime garb, who soon breaks free from her toxic romance with narcissist Joker (Alan Tudyk) to branch out on her own (complete with a sexy makeover to embody Margot Robbie’s bat-wielding-in-short-shorts version of the character). Harley, a former practicing therapist, bursts with lava-hot anger, and her addiction to her own temper ends up being her Achilles heel in most episodes. She’s a great protagonist because she makes bad decisions and maintains unhealthy goals. Honestly, it’s a refreshing set of vices for a cartoon female lead.Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Short of being “How Harley Got Her Groove Back,” the series takes its time to deprogram its heroine from the abuse cycle, following her as she slowly builds her nascent supervillain business/brand. First, her sardonic and husky-voiced best friend Poison Ivy (Lake Bell, playing the character as a grown-up Daria) stages an anti-Joker intervention for Harley that includes hurling her friend in a vat of neon margarita mix disguised as acid (“It’s still kinda stingy,” Harley whines).Kaley Cuoco and Alan Tudyk in Devil's Snare (2020)Then, once her ex is out of her life, Harley realizes how little respect she has in the supervillain boys club (a.k.a. the Legion of Doom) and seeks to establish a ruthless reputation for herself. She assembles a new crew, including a #MeToo-disgraced Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale), shape-shifting thespian Clayface (Alan Tudyk), easygoing fishman King Shark (Ron Funches) and elderly spy-turned-cyborg Sy Borgman (Jason Alexander). Ivy, an avowed environmentalist with her own plant-based agenda, insists she’s not officially in the crew … but let’s just say she’s not-not officially in the crew. They’re raggedy, but they’ll do.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)The best episodes are the ones in which Harley must confront her own boundaries as a supervillain. Early on, she finds herself in a cringey nemesis relationship with seemingly-cherubic tween Robin (Jacob Tremblay, as delightfully profane as in Good Boys), which threatens Harley’s fledgling professional legitimacy. Later, she befriends charming villainess Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes), only to realize she’s hardcore bloodthirsty and not just your garden-variety heisting baddie. I mean, she full-on murders Humpty Dumpty for an omelet. “Oh, you got a line, huh?” she admonishes Harley. “Superheroes have a line. Teen Titans have a line. We don’t give a fuck.”Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Harley Quinn juxtaposes cheeky joke-telling against face-melting body horror. It’s also not afraid to mock the DC brand at large. Here, every classic superhero is a righteous blowhard, every revered supervillain an impotent buffoon (Harley taunts Batman about how he “fucks bats” every chance she gets). We watch as Aquaman cradles a dying pufferfish in his arms and as Bane continuously fails at every little task. Comedian James Adomian’s harpooning voicework superbly obliterates Tom Hardy’s iconic performance as this character.In fact, the cast at large is key to Harley Quinn’s success. Harley screeches so much I actually became worried for Cuoco’s vocal cords, but the shrieking nonetheless remains essential to Harley’s personal development. She’s no longer the nasally, sexxii baby-voiced Noo Yawka dripping at Joker’s heels, but a rage machine about to explode into flames. She’s often tempered by Ivy’s voice-of-reason deadpan, a masterful turn from Bell, who in fact wrote and directed an entire feature film about the art of vocal talent. Other main cast standouts include Alan Tudyk, doing his cartoon pastiche Alan Tudyk thing, and Jason Alexander, who infuses Sy Borgman with craggy Yiddishkeit. My favorite guest stars of the season include Susie Essman and Rhea Perlman.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)Instead of relying on caper-of-the-week hijinks, the producers opt to highlight Harley’s personal growth, organically building action sequences and serialized storylines from that seismic emotional epicenter. Harley may be a supervillain, but she’s also healing from systemic manipulation, finally able to explore her own identity outside of her ex’s. Harley Quinn has its finger on the pulse of female trauma and strength. Kaley Cuoco in Harley Quinn Highway (2020)