REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 4

october-faction-netflix-review-1Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Jesse Rath (The Howling Reborn)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Nicole Maines (Bit)
April Parker Jones (Jericho)
David Harewood (Homeland)

Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)

Recurring/ Notable Guest Cast

Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Brenda Strong (Starship Troopers)
Rhona Mitra (Nip/Tuck)
Robert Baker (The Originals)
Tiya Sircar (The Good Place)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Alison Araya (Riverdale)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Anthony Konechny (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Kirby Morrow (NInja Turtles: The Next Mutation)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Sarah Smyth (50/50)
Graham Verchere (Summer of 84)
David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6)
Justice Leak (Powers)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Helen Slater (City Slickers)
Steve Byers (Immortals)
Michael Johnston (Teen Wolf)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Cassandra Jean Amell (Roswell, New Mexico)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Elizabeth Tulloch (Ther Artist)
Russell Wong (Romeo Must Die)
Kate Burton (The Ice Storm)
Hannah James (Mercy Street)
Brennan Mejia (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Garwin Sanford (Staragte Atlantis)
Jessica Meraz (Bounty Hunter)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (Kidding)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Azie Tesfai (Superstore)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Olivia Nikkanen (The Society)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Patti Allan (The Killing)

Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)You have to admire the chutzpah of Supergirl’s writers and their choice to name the Season 4 finale in honor of what is widely regarded as the worst Superman movie of all time: “The Quest for Peace.” But it’s not so crazy when you consider how much Superman IV and Supergirl: Season 4 have in common. Both are steeped in political allegory about tensions between East and West. Both feature Lex Luthor trying to destroy one Kryptonian hero by harnessing their evil doppelgänger. Both are concerned with the need to achieve peace in our time. It’s just that Supergirl is much better about actually realizing those lofty ambitions.Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)Without burying the lead, Season 4 is easily Supergirl’s strongest to date; that much has actually been obvious for quite a while. While this season made some improvements to the supporting cast and other areas, it succeeded by turning what has historically been the show’s most glaring weakness into its greatest strength.David Harewood in Supergirl (2015)Prior to this season, Supergirl has never had a villain worthy of rivaling Kara Danvers. Not Maxwell Lord. Not Lillian Luthor. Not the Daxamites. Nobody. But Season 4 flipped the script by giving fans an embarrassment of riches. The season opened with the introduction of Agent Liberty/Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer), a character who probably could have shouldered the burden all on his own. It helps that the show wasted so little time before delving into Lockwood’s tragic past and showing how even decent men can be transformed into hate-mongering bigots if pushed far enough.
Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Lockwood was just the start of Season 4’s salvo. Even as the series worked to establish a new mission and purpose for ex-DEO head J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood), it also gave him a new antagonist in Manchester Black (David Ajala). That wrinkle is one of the more memorable twists to the source material in Season 4. In the comics, Manchester is a Superman villain, one hellbent on proving that the Man of Steel is an outdated, useless relic. While Supergirl never captured the full impact of the critically adored Action Comics #775 (which inspired the episode “Whatever Happened to Truth, Justice and the American Way?”), transforming Manchester into a Martian Manhunter villain generally worked well. The worst that can be said is that Manchester sort of dropped out of the running very abruptly in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Season 4 saved its biggest guns for last. The series finally paid off on Season 3’s cliffhanger, introducing Kara’s twisted doppelgänger Red Daughter and revealing she, Agent Liberty and Eve Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) to be pawns of none other than Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer). After alluding to Superman’s greatest nemesis for years, the series not only brought Lex into the fold but molded him into the first truly great, season-ending villain the series has had. Cryer’s casting turned a lot of heads initially, but it didn’t take him long to make this iconic character his own and establish himself as the most forceful presence in the show’s ensemble cast.Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Before getting into how the finale tied all of this together, I do want to mention the actual heroes of the series a bit. Melissa Benoist continues to be a crucial part of the series. Her warmth and inherent likability make her an ideal Supergirl, even as this season also allowed her to flex some darker muscles as Red Daughter. Lena (Katie McGrath) also fared well throughout the season, especially as her brother’s surprise return made her life a living nightmare.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)And as sad as it was to see Jeremy Jordan’s Winn written out of the picture at the end of Season 3, there’s no doubt that the series is better off for having Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath) as the DEO’s new resident tech genius. Winn seemingly had nowhere left to go as a character, whereas Brainy brings his own brand of humor and his own foibles to the table. Not to mention his charming romance with another worthy new addition, Nia Nal (Nicole Maines). And beyond her relationship with Brainy, Nia proved to be just the sort of wide-eyed, uplifting character the series needed to balance out its growing sense of darkness.David Harewood, Jesse Rath, Melissa Benoist, and Nicole Maines in Supergirl (2015)All of these many threads paid off in the finale as Lex finally carried out his grand plan and manipulated his way right into the White House. With a secret villain pulling the strings of world governments, exploiting deep-seated fears and racial tensions and using a massive disinformation campaign to gaslight ordinary people, it’s not difficult to see how the series has been drawing from real-world events this year. The show has never been very subtle in that regard, and even less so this season.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Not that the lack of allegorical subtlety harms the finale much. Capes and tights stories aren’t good for much if they aren’t about something bigger. If Supergirl struggled in the villain department prior to this season, at least the show has made a regular habit of dipping into the X-Men’s well and preaching tolerance and empathy in the face of a rising tide of fear and hatred. The finale hit home as well as any other episode this season, particularly near the end when it became clear that George Lockwood (Graham Verchere) escaped the cycle of hatred that so utterly consumed his father.David Harewood and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)It was also fitting that the season-long conflict boiled down not so much in metahuman fisticuffs – and honestly, what little action there was in this episode wasn’t terribly memorable or well-staged – but truth and knowledge. With Supergirl powerless to stop Lex’s rise to power, it fell on Kara Danvers to put pen to paper and expose Luthor for the con artist he is. The idea that one well-sourced article could immediately topple a corrupt government and make the general public come to their senses is… pretty naive in light of current events. But once again, you have to respect the show’s optimism and faith that good always triumphs in the end.Jon Cryer and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)What really sealed the deal in this episode, beyond Kara and friends’ hard-won victory, was that final confrontation between Lena and Lex. That was such a great moment between these two estranged siblings. It was disappointing that Lex gleefully killed Red Daughter seemingly without remorse. It would have been nice to see a more human side of the character as he eliminated a woman he essentially raised himself. But we did get that with Lex’s death scene, as he finally, begrudgingly but definitively accepted Lena as someone worthy of being called his sister.Best of all, this scene fueled what is easily the most compelling new plot thread heading into Season 5. Lena finally knows the truth about Kara, and it’s already eating away at her. It was fascinating seeing Lex treat that reveal as one last bit of revenge against his sister before the end. I especially enjoyed that extra layer of irony, with Lex taunting Lena for not seeing the truth right in front of her face, even as he himself has always been too blind to see the obvious truth about Superman and Clark Kent. Lex is going to be difficult to top going forward, but Lena has the potential to outdo even her brother if she makes that final plunge into darkness.With that welcome wrinkle to the status quo, I almost wish this episode didn’t devote so much time to laying seeds for Season 5. That seemed an unnecessary move in light of the Lena/Kara twist. Still, there’s clearly a lot to look forward to come October. J’onn has a new foe who hits very close to home. Leviathan is teased as the next great threat (a twist which must set a new speed record for a comic book storyline being adapted into live-action). And the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) is busy preparing for the Crisis to come. All the pieces are in place for another terrific season, so long as the series can maintain the momentum it’s built up over the last several months.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN VS THE ELITE

CAST (VOICES)

George Newbern (Father of The Bride)
Pauley Perrette (Almost Famous)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babyon 5)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Ogie Banks (Ultimate Spider-Man)
Catero Colbert (Zombie Strippers)
Melissa Disney (In A Word)
Paul Eiding (Wall-e)
Troy Evans (Ace Ventura)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)
Sumalee Montano (S.W.A.T.)
Nolan North (Young Justice)
Henry Simmons (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

The movie opens with Manchester Black watching news stories about villains and how they’re given second chances. All of the news stories come down to one subject: the world wants solutions to all of the evil in the world – by killing it. When Manchester sees this, he turns off the TV and begins his plot to keep the world safe by any means necessary. Back at Metropolis, Lois and Clark witness the death of multiple people in the streets at the hands of the Atomic Skull who was killing people to draw out Superman. As the battle erupts throughout most of the city, Superman ends up defeating Atomic Skull by throwing him into a lake. After this, Superman gives a speech at the United Nations about the greater good that is found within everyone. During this the leaders of Bialyia and Pokolistan begin to fight due to their peace treaty being broken, Superman leaves the United Nations to stop their armed forces from destroying each other.

As Superman arrives in Bialya, the Pokolistani forces release a bioweapon on the Bialyan military which destroys most of their ground forces. As Superman gets the soldiers to safety from the bioweapon, the Elite arrive just in time to help Superman destroy it. Superman returns to Metropolis to report the news and also gain more information on the Elite. Superman and Lois fly to England to find out if they, and the world, can trust the Elite. It is revealed through Manchester Black that he gained his powers near puberty and used it for the first time to save his sister Vera from being hit by a train.

Through telepathy, Black gets a painful headache of multiple people screaming. The Elite and Superman arrive on the scene to save the civilians on a subway train which was trapped underwater due to a terrorist attack. After Superman and Black save the passengers, Black interrogates the terrorists that bombed the train nearly killing them. Superman begins to be concerned about the motives of his new-found friends. Back in Metropolis, Clark and Lois talk about the information they had found on the Elite and Manchester Black’s history. Lois tells Clark that there is no birth record or death certificate of Manchester’s sister Vera. This makes Clark further question the Elite’s origin and what they are really trying to accomplish. When Manchester broadcasts a message for all the world to hear, he ends up telling them that they will take care of all the bad guys in the world by killing them.
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After the broadcast, Superman returns to the Fortress of Solitude to search for reliable information on the Elite. Having failed in finding information, Superman travels to Bialya. While there Superman is hit by an EMP which weakens him. Closing Pokolistani forces are about to attack him when the Elite attacks. Powerless to stop the chaos that the Elite inflict on the Pokolistani military, Superman ends up passing out. He eventually awakens at the Elite’s base of operations, a sentient macroorganism called Bonnie, and is teleported back to Earth after he fails to convince the Elite that they don’t have to kill to be heroes. In Metropolis, Atomic Skull breaks out of prison and looks for revenge on Superman. The Elite arrives but have little success against the overpowered Atomic Skull. When Superman arrives, he coordinates an attack with the Elite to get all the extra power away from Atomic Skull. After Atomic Skull’s power is drained by Coldcast, he is executed by Manchester Black under the vote of a boy whose father was one of Atomic Skull’s victims.

After protecting Pokolistan from Bialya’s jets, Superman is visited by the Elite who tell him that they have killed both the Pokolistanian and Bialyan leaders and that peace can reign supreme in that area once again. Angered by Manchester’s uncontrollable urge to kill the villains, Superman punches him in the face and the Elite take it as a statement of war against the world’s “favorite heroes.” They tell Superman that they will kill him for this outrage. The next day, Superman stands in the middle of Metropolis telling the Elite that he is ready to fight. Asking them to do it somewhere safe, they teleport to the Moon where they begin their fight, with the people of Metropolis watching via Bonnie. Both sides are evenly matched until Black telekinetically induces a seizure in Superman. Coldcast then unleashes a massive blast of electromagnetic energy on Superman, and to those watching the battle on Earth, it appears that Superman has been obliterated. However, moments later, the Elite start hearing Superman’s voice all around them. In his taunts, Superman states that he has finally been convinced that he needs to start killing villains–beginning with the Elite. Superman then begins to take out the Elite one by one; first he injects Menagerie with a poison that causes her sym-beasts to abandon her and apparently kills her. The Hat attempts to exploit Superman’s known weakness to magic but is suffocated by a super-speed generated whirlwind and sucked into the funnel.

Against Coldcast’s wishes, Manchester teleports them to Metropolis to use the innocent civilians as cover. Black gives the order to combine powers to destroy Metropolis when Superman appears. After Superman knocks Coldcast into orbit, he confronts Black. Manchester attacks Superman with everything he has but fails to harm the Man of Steel. Through heat vision, Superman lobotomizes Manchester, stripping him of his powers. Believing his death to be seconds away, Manchester tells Superman that the world knows he is no better than they are and will never again trust him. Superman reveals that he faked killing the other members of the Elite and had his Super-Robots protect all of the civilians present to and create the illusion that he had killed indiscriminately. They were really transported to the Fortress of Solitude to be stripped of their powers, then sent to a prison. In addition, Bonnie was offered a way to return home. In the end, the people of Earth see that Superman’s way is best for all of mankind. After that, he flies off with Lois and they kiss.

Great film! Barring the awful English accents!