REVIEW: SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER – SEASON 4

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018)

CAST (VOICES)

Aimee Carrero (The Last Witch Hunter)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Marcus Scribner (The Good Dinosaur)
Reshma Shetty (Blindspot)
Lorraine Toussaint (The Night Before)
Keston John (The Good Place)
Lauren Ash (The Disaster Artist)
Christine Woods (Flashforward)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Jordan Fisher (Teen Wolf)
Vella Lovell (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Krystal Joy Brown (Castle)
Grey DeLisle (Paradise PD)
Merit Leighton (Alexa & Katie)
Antony Del Rio (Avengers Assemble)
Geena Davis (The Fly)

She-RaOn November 4, Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is back with season 4, which includes a full thirteen episodes like season 1 did (seasons 2 and 3 split the 13 episodes). This season takes a dark turn as the Horde gains the advantage over the princesses, the threat of Horde Prime looms, terrible secrets are discovered about the First Ones, and a rift develops between Adora (Aimee Carrero) and Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara). It’s a fully packed season, with plenty of goofy humor just like any other season of She-Ra, but this one definitely feels darker overall, for better or worse.downloadTo recap, season 3 left off with Catra (AJ Michalka) opening the portal even after being warned by both Adora and Entrapta (Christine Woods) that it was faulty. To stop it from destroying everything, Queen Angella (Reshma Shetty) gave her life to shut it down. Catra exiled Entrapta to Beast Island for trying to stop her. Adora found out that she’s a First One who came to Etheria as a baby through a portal, which is why the sword responded to her. Most importantly, Hordak’s (Keston John) message to Horde Prime went through before the portal was destroyed. Season 4 begins with Queen Glimmer’s coronation.she-ra-s4-review-1194462A lot of the season revolves around Glimmer learning how to embody her new role as queen, and it is not a smooth journey. As she feels more and more of the pressure of being responsible for everyone, she starts lashing out, mostly at Adora. Part of the appeal of She-Ra is the friendship between Adora, Glimmer, and Bow (Marcus Scribner). They’re supportive, adorable, and always work to resolve any issues between them. There’s a reason Bow likes to call them “the best friend squad.” But this season, all of that breaks down. Glimmer and Adora hardly have a pleasant and friendly moment all season long – something new character Double Trouble (Jacob Tobia), a shapeshifter, encourages – and the bitterness puts a damper on what’s usually a fun tone. What’s worse is that they don’t work out their issues and make up by the time the season ends, making the season feel unresolved. It’s also a shame that Glimmer doesn’t find her way as a queen. She only gets more cold and controlling as the season goes on, especially as she continues to take advice from Shadow Weaver. As it stands, fans will have to wait until season 5 for Adora and Glimmer to, hopefully, work things out. Poor Bow, all he wants is for everyone to get along.she-ra-season-4-images-4
Also seeing conflict this season is Catra and Scorpia’s (Lauren Ash) friendship. Though she’s part of the Horde, Scorpia has always been a really positive character and a great friend to Catra. This season, however, she finally starts to realize that Catra’s not such a great friend to her, especially as Catra continuously treats everyone around her worse and worse, as the Horde gets closer than ever to its goal of world domination. This is also on the heels of Catra banishing Entrapta, who Scorpia considered a friend. It’s nice to see the show take Scorpia’s character in new directions. She’s definitely one of the best characters on the show, and we finally get to learn about some of her background.she-ra-season-5-renewal-newsWe also get to learn a lot about Adora’s background this season, which is a good follow-up to last season’s revelation about Adora being a First One. We finally find out what the First Ones were doing on Etheria, the origins of She-Ra, what happened to Mara, and why Etheria is in Despondos (the pocket dimension that cuts them off from the rest of the universe). If you want answers about everything, this season is the one to watch. It also ends with a big change, from which She-Ra will never be the same.doubletrouble_0For all of the serious stuff going on, there’s still plenty of hijinks too. This is She-Ra after all. There’s an episode called “Boys’ Night Out” where Bow, Sea Hawk (Jordan Fisher), and Swift Wind (Adam Ray) sing some ridiculously silly songs, and accidentally on purpose get kidnapped so that the girls can overcome their problems and rescue them. The “Mer-Mysteries” episode feels like a perfectly campy murder-mystery party, as the princesses try to figure out who the mole is. In two of my favorite episodes of the season, we get to revisit the Crimson Waste (episode 2), and finally get to go to Beast Island (episode 11). Beast Island holds a number of revelations that you won’t want to miss. The show does a great job of mixing the goofy with the more serious, creating a perfect mixture of high stakes and comic relief.maxresdefaultFor all of the issues between Glimmer and Adora, the show still has great things to say about friendship and loyalty. One can never assume that just because a character is from the Horde, that they are purely bad. Catra and Scorpia’s fellow soldiers, Lonnie (Dana Davis), Kyle (Antony Del Rio), and Rogelio get to demonstrate the strength of their bond this season, while Hordak grieves the loss of Entrapta as his friend. Catra thinks she doesn’t need anyone, but she finds herself the loneliest character on the show, and it motivates everything she does. The plot is packed pretty tightly this season, especially as the princesses lose more ground than ever to the Horde. The stakes are higher than ever, and you can feel that tension in every episode. It’s both exciting and fun in a way that only She-Ra can be. With the fundamental circumstances of the show changed however, it’s anyone’s guess what next season will look like.

 

REVIEW: SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER – SEASON 3

she-ra-season-3

CAST (VOICES)

Aimee Carrero (The Last Witch Hunter)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Marcus Scribner (The Good Dinosaur)
Reshma Shetty (Blindspot)
Lorraine Toussaint (The Night Before)
Keston John (The Good Place)
Lauren Ash (The Disaster Artist)
Christine Woods (Flashforward)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Jordan Fisher (Teen Wolf)
Vella Lovell (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Krystal Joy Brown (Castle)
Grey DeLisle (Paradise PD)
Merit Leighton (Alexa & Katie)
Antony Del Rio (Avengers Assemble)
Geena Davis (The Fly)

juijujijooShe-Ra is making a return for its third outing on August 2, but we had the chance to watch all six episodes ahead of its premiere. And boy, is it a doozy. Getting into She-Ra was something of a slow burn for me. It took the more sedate pace of the second season, coupled with the fleshing out of several character ties and relationships, for it to really find its footing, but notching the action back somewhat paid dividends as the series heads into its third outing. The foundations upon which She-Ra has been built don’t just crumble away over the six episodes that showrunner Noelle Stevenson and her exceptionally talented and dedicated team have delivered to us. They’re obliterated.she-ra-huntara-adora-glimmer-bow-season-3And I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way. In fact, it’s a huge reinvigoration and looks set to take the entire show in a direction I can’t say anyone will have been expecting. It is complex, layered, and genuinely has me anticipating where it might go next — especially after the bomb-drop of a cliffhanger that the third season leaves you on. A cliffhanger that creeps up, slowly, over the course of the six episodes, and has been embedded into the DNA of the show since day one. It was just that the pieces never really come together until the third season plays out in all of its nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat glory.she-ra-season-3-images-3But the foundation that is rocked, more than any other, is the one upon which She-Ra built the bulk of its storytelling. Its true core: The relationship between Catra and Adora. It was always going to reach a tipping point, and if you thought season 2 took them right to the precipice, the third pushes them beyond the point of no return. Because, when it comes down to it, the actions of both characters, their choices, and the consequences of them irrevocably changes who and what they are to each other.  Where Adora searches for the truth — and, in some cases, finds it — about her origins and the power of She-Ra, Catra seeks to undermine her at every turn. Going back to who they were, together and apart, prior to Adora leaving the Fright Zone is never going to be possible, and both characters come to terms with what that means — with disastrous results.4201e13e-bb2c-4b04-8c4d-08e8707127b5-she-raBreadcrumbs of resentment have been littered between Catra and Adora over the course of many, many episodes. And that finally comes home to roost. The biggest catalyst being the wild-card of Shadow Weaver. The relationship that both Catra and Adora have with their pseudo-mother-figure is complex, steeped in years of emotional abuse and manipulation, but also a twisted sense of love and loyalty. Catra craves acceptance, validation, and yes, to an extent, an unconditional sense of love, but is always passed over in favor of Adora. The favorite child. In Catra’s eyes, at least. It introduces a pressure point that is something of a hot-button. People choosing Adora over her. More than anything, the need to beat Adora in all ways, shapes and forms drives and motivates Catra — when she falls, fails, and repeats the cycle, Catra gradually has nothing left to lose. And there is nothing more dangerous than a character who has nothing to lose.she-ra-animation-4And, in She-Ra’s case, that danger is more than just the degradation of a relationship — or, in some cases, several. It is universe-altering. Because when Catra is given the opportunity to go full-tilt into her darkest urges, she grasps at it with both hands, despite several characters attempting to pull her back from the edge. And once Catra commits, it is like dominoes: thing spiral at speed. There is no going back as the show enters new, uncharted territory. Not only in Catra’s choices to move further away from Adora’s reach, and her friendship with Adora, but also for how we — and in turn, the characters — understand Etheria, and the universe in which it exists. For those of us who have been waiting for the mythology and lore of the show to expand, season 3 is a veritable treasure trove.Screen-Shot-Hordak-a4erd-1024x552The truth about Hordak and where he came from, as well as the origins of the Horde and what Etheria could look like if they win, are all present and accounted for in season 3. And it is, in some ways, a villain origin story that is steeped in well-walked tropes and expectations — but there is also more to it than just that. Hordak and Entrapta’s fledgling friendship pushes them both, and provides Hordak with a side that we — as audiences — have not always been privy to. Certainly, there is more to uncover and dig into — and future seasons will undoubtedly do so — but what we learn here is rich with expanding upon the characters and their pasts. The previous She-Ra, Mara, is included in that. The clues were woven into the fabric of the second season for when Adora needed to find out more about who she is and where she came from, and Adora follows them through to their conclusion — even when it means leaving parts of her former life behind, for good. Glimmer and Bow, through it all, stand strong by her side, and the three of them will need each other more than ever when the dust settles on the third season, and the dawn of the fourth arrives — because certain catastrophic events transpire that will alter the course of their individual trajectories forever.UntitledOh, and the introduction of Huntara and the Crimson Waste is undoubtedly one of the true delights of season 3. I was disappointed not to learn more about Huntara — and eagle-eyed fans will not miss some subtle interactions between her and another character during the trio’s time in a Crimson Waste tavern — but there will be time for that. Especially, and hopefully, if she plays a bigger role moving forward. And I really, really would love for her character to be expanded upon. The hints at Huntara’s past give her a connection to Adora that is difficult for Adora’s other friends in the Princess Alliance to understand or fathom, and it is something that Adora might need moving forward. Huntara is, without a doubt, the best source to tap into for that potential — especially with Catra moving even further outside of Adora’s orbit. There was something of a safety-net hanging securely underneath She-Ra prior to season 3. These six episodes remove that net, and the show plunges deep into something unknown. Stevenson and her team are testing the boundaries of what, and who, She-Ra is, and both the character and the show are all the better for it. It’s not entirely clear where they might take She-Ra beyond this point, but that is certainly part of what makes it so exciting.

 

REVIEW: SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER – SEASON 1

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018)

CAST (VOICES)

Aimee Carrero (The Last Witch Hunter)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Marcus Scribner (The Good Dinosaur)
Reshma Shetty (Blindspot)
Lorraine Toussaint (The Night Before)
Keston John (The Good Place)
Lauren Ash (The Disaster Artist)
Christine Woods (Flashforward)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Jordan Fisher (Teen Wolf)
Vella Lovell (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Krystal Joy Brown (Castle)
Grey DeLisle (Paradise PD)
Merit Leighton (Alexa & Katie)
Antony Del Rio (Avengers Assemble)

65e75070b848312396faa28b8863a06424bed9a8I am both happy She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power exists and deeply jealous I didn’t have it as a kid.  What struck me most in watching the series is just how different it is from anything else on TV. The sheer amount of women on screen and how different they all are shouldn’t feel so unique but it is. It’s a breath of fresh air, especially watching so many action adventure series that might only have one or two women in a cast of mostly guys. Here though it’s switched, with the guys being the side characters and all the women taking charge.Catra_She_Ra.0It gives the series a fresh perspective and a different feel. It’s not that nothing like this has been done before (Sailor Moon and the original She-Ra before it set the standard for women being amazing in action animation) but it’s the way it’s done. You can feel the excitement of every person working on this show that they’re doing something special. That they’re getting the chance to create something that’s been all too rare in television.
1047659-dreamworks-showcase-she-ra-and-princesses-power-new-york-comic-conRight from the jump She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power sheds anything that held the original series back. It’s serialised. Its characters have a tonne of depth. The animation is gorgeous. It’s incredibly inclusive. It ditches any connection to He-Man and stands on its own (though there are enough easter eggs to send hardcore fans into a frenzy). She-Ra is a character that doesn’t need to be the twin sister of He-Man, she’s powerful in her own right. It’s the strength of Adora, the characters around her, and their relationships that make this series shine. The most important of these being the slowly fracturing friendship between Adora and Catra. The two start as best friends working for the Horde but when Adora discovers the horrors they’ve caused, she decides to join the rebellion.SHE_PD102_01010418_RGB_FIN.0This angers Catra and much of the arc of the first season is devoted to the back and forth between these two. Adora desperately tries to get Catra to come to her senses while Catra can’t understand why her best friend would leave her. It’s gripping stuff and forms the backbone of the season’s best episodes. The series puts an incredible emphasis on the powerful emotions that come with deep friendship. Where other series might default to love stories to mine these depths of feelings, She-Ra And The Princesses of Power is keenly aware the pain of losing your best friend can hurt even more than a breakup. It also celebrates friendship as well, with the main trio of Adora, Glimmer, and Bow a main focus of the season. How these three come together and learn to love each other is what gives them more power than any magic sword.She-Ra-header (1)The season’s main plot arc is our trio trying to rebuild the Princess Alliance, a once great group of magical women who kept Etheria safe. These journeys not only gives the series a chance to do some excellent world building but also introduce its colorful extended cast. Each of the characters you’ll meet throughout these episodes is incredibly diverse both in appearance and personality. You’ll love them all, I promise. The series does take a little time to get going and a few character introductions are done quicker than I would have liked, but by the second half of the season the story really starts to get gripping. The world of Etheria comes into sharp focus and you see just how wide and open the universe of She-Ra can be.she-ra-and-the-princesses-of-power-reviewShe-Ra And The Princesses of Power easily steps out of the pop culture shadow of not only the original She-Ra but He-Man as well. This isn’t a series that’s stuck in the past, trying to recapture that franchise’s old glory. It’s taking the building blocks of OG She-Ra and making it something fresh and new for the audiences of today. It’s an empowering and affirming series not just for girls but anyone who watches, young or old. It shows girls and women they can be and look like whatever they want and still be strong. It shows boys and men the amazing things women can be and that they can be along for the ride. It shows everyone you don’t have to fit into societal norms. You can dress how you want, act how you want, and be with whomever you want. For that alone, She-Ra And The Princesses of Power is going to change a lot of lives for the better.

REVIEW: RUN ALL NIGHT

Starring

Liam Neeson (Taken)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Common (Terminator: Salvation)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Boyd Holbrook (The Predator)
Bruce McGill (Ride Along 2)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Holt McCallany (Justice League)
Malcolm Goodwin (Izombie)
Beau Knapp (Southpaw)
Lois Smith (The Nice Guys)
Aubrey Joseph (Cloak & Dagger)
Nick Nolte (Hulk)

Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)Haunted by his past, former Irish mob enforcer Jimmy “The Gravedigger” Conlon has become an angry drunk. His son Mike, a retired professional boxer who mentors at-risk kids at the local gym, is disgusted by his father’s actions and refuses to call him “Dad” or involve him in the lives of his daughters.Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)Jimmy’s old boss and closest friend, Shawn Maguire, rejects an offer to allow the sale of Albanian heroin in his territory. His son Danny, who received a large fee to arrange the deal, is told to return the money or suffer the consequences. Mike, working as a chauffeur, takes the two Albanian creditors to Danny’s house. The deal goes bad once Danny reveals that he does not have the money, and a brief shootout ensues which kills one of the Albanians. The other Albanian, wounded, stumbles out of Danny’s flat and attempts to escape, only to be shot dead by Danny. The events are witnessed by Mike and his mentee Legs and are captured on Legs’ phone. Danny spots them and attempts to kill Mike, but he escapes.Joel Kinnaman and Genesis Rodriguez in Run All Night (2015)Jimmy has Mike promise not to expose Danny, but Mike refuses to listen. As Mike is leaving, Jimmy spots Danny trying to kill his son and shoots him before he can fire. Shawn sends two corrupt police officers to pick up Mike and kill him, but Jimmy rescues him and shoots and kills one of the corrupt cops before taking Mike him to his family. Mike still distrusts his father, but agrees to give him that night to fix the situation. Jimmy meets Shawn and tells him that Danny was about to kill Mike, and that he might have to speak to the N.Y.P.D. about his criminal past. Shawn furiously says that the cops care nothing for Jimmy’s information, and tells Jimmy he will kill Mike and his family, only then letting Jimmy die.Liam Neeson in Run All Night (2015)Jimmy sends Mike’s family to a remote cabin and takes Mike with him to retrieve proof of his innocence, but Andrew Price, an assassin hired by Shawn, intercepts them before they can collect the evidence. Jimmy is able to subdue him, but is wounded. Jimmy later contacts Detective Harding, a cop who has not been able to prove Jimmy’s responsibility for a long list of homicides. Harding says that witnesses claim Mike was the shooter, not Danny, but Jimmy makes a deal with him: he will prove Mike is innocent and then turn himself in with a list of all the people he murdered in his mob career. The two hide at the house of Jimmy’s brother Eddie. An incensed Eddie reveals that Jimmy is loyal only to Shawn — he once killed his own cousin to prevent him testifying against Shawn and will do the same to Mike. Disgusted and unwilling to trust his father, Mike returns to his family. Seeking to end the blood feud, Jimmy attacks Shawn’s hideout and kills him and his gang. At the same time, Legs visits Harding with the video he shot of the murder of the Albanians. Convinced, Harding has the police check the ballistics on Danny’s gun.Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)Mike arrives at the cabin and alerts the police to his location. Jimmy soon arrives, and Mike finally introduces him to his grandchildren. Suddenly, Price returns and attacks the cabin, fatally shooting Jimmy and then hunting down Mike. Mike is cornered by Price, but Jimmy kills him at the last second. Mike runs up to Jimmy and finally calls him “Dad”. The police arrive and confirm Legs’ evidence has cleared Mike as Jimmy dies, holding the list of his past victims as promised. In the film’s epilogue, Mike is back working as a boxing trainer and chauffeur and living happily with his wife and daughters. He looks wistfully at a photo of himself and Jimmy from long ago on his dresser before he heads out to his shift.Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)This is a very enjoyable film,  The replay value seems to be high with not only the great visuals from the directing angle, but also from the great performances from the actors. Fans of films in general should put this film on on your list to watch, certainly a must see film.

REVIEW: IDENTITY THIEF

 

 CAST

Jason Bateman (Hancock)
Melissa McCarthy (The Boss)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Amanda Peet (2012)
T.I. (Ant-Man)
Genesis Rodriguez (Hours)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
John Cho (Flashforward)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Clark Duke (Two and A Half Men)
Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street)
Ryan Gaul (Identity Thief)

MV5BZmRiMzA2MzAtNzAxZC00M2EyLTg1NDctODJkOWQ1MGEyM2UzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY5MzAxMDc@._V1_There aren’t very many actresses who have received an Oscar nomination for their performance in a comedy, especially within the past decade. Melissa McCarthy was an absolute riot in the hit Bridesmaids and even delivers plenty of laughs to TV audiences in Mike & Molly. Under Seth Gordon’s direction, she now stars in the latest comedy called Identity Thief. There has been a massive campaign behind this picture, making McCarthy’s involvement the focal point, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this is the next Bridesmaids. While this comedy won’t be leaving theaters rolling in laughter, it will certainly deliver some laughs and even a little bit of heart.08IDENTITY_SPAN-videoLarge-v3Mild-mannered Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is a successful man with a great job and a loving family. However, his life begins to fall apart when a deceptively harmless-looking woman, Diana (Melissa McCarthy), steals his identity. She spends large amounts of his money and commits numerous crimes under his name, which gets him in trouble at work and with law enforcement. Sandy departs on a journey from Denver to Miami to take Diana to the police in order to clear his name and get his life back. It doesn’t take long for Sandy to discover just how clever Diana can be.
Screenwriter Craig Mazin doesn’t waste a moment, as he instantly jumps into the bulk of the story. Sandy Patterson gets himself into a lot of trouble after he gives a substantial amount of his personal information out to a woman over the phone. The audience is kept in the dark as to who Diana really is. While we know that nearly every word that comes out of her mouth is a lie, we’re constantly trying to figure out who this character truly is. She’s quickly identified as the antagonist of the film, but we learn that there’s a lot more to her persona than just a sly criminal. She begins to open herself up a little bit as she spends more time with Sandy. Despite the unfortunate reasons for these characters having to meet, they learn a lot of values from each other through this eventful adventure. Identity Thief often plays with the irony of a thief and her morals. Despite the over-the-top and unnecessary subplots, the second half of the running time is quite a bit funnier than everything preceding it. Without giving too much away, Sandy and Diana experience some hilarious situations, especially the one found in the woods at night. A lot of the jokes have been heard before, but they’re used in an original context.MV5BMTQzMTk1NTE2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTg2MzEwOQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_This film wouldn’t have worked without this particular cast. Jason Bateman delivers a solid performance as Sandy Patterson. He’s convincing in the role, as he easily relates to the audience as an ordinary man going through a difficult situation. Melissa McCarthy is the absolute star of this movie. She fills Diana’s character to the brim with the same charm and charisma that got her popular in the first place. Her delivery elevates average dialogue to something audiences will find rather funny. McCarthy has quite a bit of comedic chemistry with Bateman, which makes them a great match on screen. However, she also manages to draw viewers in through the more emotional moments the story has to offer. There are a variety of entertaining cameos offered by Eric Stonestreet, Jon Favreau, Ben Falcone, Ellie Kemper, and others. This is an excellent cast that makes this script much more appealing than it would have been with other actors.MV5BMTUyMzk0MDI1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTQ3MzEwOQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1294,1000_AL_