REVIEW: THE BOYS – SEASON 1

Laz Alonso, Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Tomer Capon, and Karen Fukuhara in The Boys (2019)

Starring

Karl Urban (Dredd)
Elisabeth Shue (Piranha 3D)
Laz Alonso (Straw Dogs)
Jack Quaid (Logan Lucky)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones)
Tomer Kapon (Wedding Doll)
Antony Starr (Outrageous Fortune)
Dominique McElligott (Leap Year)
Jessie Usher (Shaft)
Chace Crawford (Eloise)
Nathan Mitchell (IZombie)

Erin Moriarty and Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Simon Pegg (Ready Player One)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
Ann Cusack (Tank Girl)
Shaun Benson (ARQ)
Jimmy Fallon (Almost Famous)
Colby Minifie (Jessica Jones)
David Andrews (Terminator 3)
Brittany Allen (Falling Water)
Malcolm Barrett (Timeless)
Tara Reid (Sharknado)
Brit Morgan (Supergirl)
Jess Salgueiro (Mary Kills people)
Billy Zane (The Phantom)
Shantel VanSanten (The Flash)
Haley Joel Osment (A.I.)
John Dorman (Gotham)
Brendan Beiser (Andromeda)
Jim Beaver (Breaking Bad)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)

 

Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)
Traditional superhero lore primarily revolves around individuals who inadvertently (and sometimes reluctantly) step into their saviour destinies. Typically, these superheroes are cognisant of the public’s reverence for their abilities, yet they often choose to either live on the fringes of or blend seamlessly into society. The few who publicly embrace their fame manage to maintain their moral compass despite ever-present temptation and opportunities to make negative choices.Laz Alonso and Karl Urban in The Boys (2019)In 2006, The Boys comic book explored this concept through a hyper-violent and decidedly darker lens, questioning what would happen if these figures became tainted by their social status. Now, The Boys TV series, set to premiere on Amazon Prime on July 26, expounds on this alternative premise. In a world dominated by corporate greed, approval ratings, social media stats, a clan of superheroes bends the rules to their whim, and a group of everyday people tries to stop them.Ann Cusack and Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)The  series, developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen, is everything that fans of the Gareth Ennis (Preacher, The Punisher)-penned comic expect it to be – gory, diabolical, and unapologetically blunt with an undercurrent of social commentary. But, it’s also an easy saga for viewers coming straight to the show to follow. The costuming, action sequences, and cinematography are solid for a TV production and the plot mostly maintains a steady pace with pivotal moments that work well for a streaming service style release. And, there’s just enough expository information revealed in the first few episodes to set the stage for a packed ending to its first season. There’s already strong speculation concerning The Boys season two, so there will likely be several loose threads in the finale.Karen Fukuhara in The Boys (2019)The Boys obviously leans on its source material for a general framework; however, a few tweaks, including protagonist Hughie Campbell’s background, are made. In the TV adaptation, Campbell (Jack Quaid, The Hunger Games) is a tech store employee who’s afraid to stand for himself or take risks to change his mundane existence – which makes him much more relatable to the general audience than his comic counterpart. The plot swiftly puts Hughie’s vigilante arc in motion after (as revealed in the trailer) his girlfriend Robin is gruesomely obliterated by A-Train, a speedster and member of the dominant superhero (aka “supes”) collective known as the Seven.Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)Robin’s unintentional death is written off as collateral damage by Vought International, a massive superhero marketing and management company that dominates the United States, led by the pleasingly ruthless and ingeniously manipulative Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue). Her character is the first of several who are either gender or race swapped, but it’s permissible since none of their backgrounds are inextricably tied to their origin stories. Hughie’s difficulty processing Robin’s death and mounting anxiety attacks over realising the supes’ indomitable influence is interrupted by Billy Butcher, portrayed by Star Trek’s Karl Urban, a vigilante whose mission to eliminate superheroes leads to the formation of The Boys. His accent is a bit iffy at points, but Urban fully embodies the role of a madman with a singular focus, dishing out a level of charismatic energy and sharp wit that’s incredibly fun to watch. Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonzo) and Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) round out the vengeful quartet characters who consistently challenge and surprise each other with their ingenuity when they aren’t butting heads over sticking to the script. The fifth leg of their crew, simply named Female, comes into play but it’s not clear how this person will fit into their overall mission.Karl Urban and Jack Quaid in The Boys (2019)The internal examination of Vought and Seven’s corrupt partnership filters through Annie “Starlight” January (Erin Moriarty), the newest member of the elite Seven who realises that her dream job is full of smoke and mirrors. Her childhood crush on a renowned idol is shattered when he uses it as a sickening abuse of power and she struggles with maintaining her creed as a hero and meeting the expectations of her proud mother in the midst of constant coercion. Starlight manages to swiftly gain her footing in this sphere as she goes off-script to push back against her employer’s ridiculous standards. She’s truly good at heart with badass powers, so perhaps she will be treated well in the TV series and given the space to have an impactful arc. Hughie and Starlight’s paths cross in the most mundane way and sets up an inner conflict for the former about his motivations. It’s a classic case of falling in love with the supposed enemy who shows that everyone on the other side isn’t a monolith but, thankfully, it doesn’t feel like a trope in this narrative.Antony Starr and Chace Crawford in The Boys (2019)The Boys has focused on a few primary members of the Seven, giving them varying levels of development with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), the sole woman hero of the clan until Starlight’s arrival, getting the least screen time. The Wonder Woman-esque hero is fully aware of the morally reprehensible behaviour of her comrades but she remains silent and offers little support to Starlight. However, a pivotal atrocity will certainly change her outlook. There’s a deeper story begging to be told with Maeve that will hopefully unfold as The Boys progresses. The Deep (Chace Crawford) is annoyingly surface-level – a poor man’s Aquaman who’s hyped up on his fame, immature, condescending, and trying to flex the little power he has against those whom he perceives to be weaker when he’s the weakest link. His purpose at this moment is to be irritating and he’s succeeding on all fronts. The Deep, who was Black in the comics, and his comrade A-Train, portrayed by Jessie T. Usher of Survivor’s Remorse, switch races in the live adaptation and have some different personality traits than their comic versions. A-Train’s lack of accountability and egoic decisions are the catalyst for much of the initial action and plot progression, but the series also digs deeper into his personal relationships and insecurities about his future with Voight.Elisabeth Shue, Chace Crawford, and Erin Moriarty in The Boys (2019)The most intriguing hero is Homelander (Antony Starr), the leader of the Seven and a mashup of Captain America and Superman. The show does a great job of slowly peeling back his outer layer of high moral standards and leadership qualities to reveal an obsessive, manipulating, narcissistic, and sinister being who is capable of unthinkable callousness. Homelander is undoubtedly the supreme villain hiding in plain sight that too many people are underestimating. The Boys has the potential to become Garth Ennis’ next comic-to-TV production win on the heels of Preacher’s upcoming fourth and final season. Sure, some of the scenes run a tad bit too long and the punchlines occasionally fall flat, but those are outweighed by truly clever moments, an engaging plot, and several WTF moments to create a dark and oddly realistic take on the superhero genre.

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES

CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (Serena)
Josh Hutcherson (Zathrua)
Liam Hemsworth (Triangle)
Elizbath Banks (Zack & Miri)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job 2003)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Wes Bentley (Ghost Rider)
Willow Shields (Beyond The Blackboard)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Toby Jones (Your Highness)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Leven Rambin (Terminator: TSSC)
Lenny Kravitz (The Butler)
Amandla Stenberg (The Darkest Minds)
Jack Quaid (The Boys)
Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan)
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As punishment for a past rebellion, each the twelve districts of Panem are forced by the victorious Capitol to annually select by lot two tributes, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. In District 12, Katniss Everdeen volunteers when her younger sister Primrose is initially chosen. She and the male tribute, Peeta Mellark, are escorted to the Capitol by chaperone Effie Trinket and their mentor Haymitch Abernathy, a past District 12 victor and alcoholic. Haymitch impresses on them the importance of gaining sponsors, as they can provide gifts of food and supplies during the Games. During part of a series of televised interviews, Peeta publicly expresses his love for Katniss, which she initially takes as an attempt to earn sponsor favor, but later learns his love is genuine. While training, Katniss observes the Careers, Marvel, Glimmer, Cato, and Clove, tributes from Districts 1 and 2 who have been training for the Games from a young age.
At the start of the Games, Katniss ignores Haymitch’s advice and grabs supplies from the ground around the Cornucopia, the structure where the contestants start, and narrowly avoids being killed; about a quarter of the tributes are killed in the initial melee, and only eleven survive the first day. Katniss tries to stay as far away from the other competitors as possible, but Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane triggers a forest fire to drive her back towards the others. She runs into the Careers, with whom Peeta has seemingly allied, and flees up a tree. Peeta advises the others to wait her out.
She notices Rue, District 11’s young female tribute, hiding in an adjacent tree. Rue silently draws her attention to a nest of poisonous tracker jackers. Katniss drops it onto the sleeping Careers, killing Glimmer and forcing the others to flee, though she herself is stung and becomes disoriented from the venom. Peeta yells at her to run away. Rue helps Katniss recover from the poison; they become friends. Katniss devises a plan to destroy the cache of supplies that the Careers have been hoarding. After Katniss succeeds, Marvel finds them and kills Rue before Katniss can shoot Marvel with her bow. Katniss comforts Rue; after the girl dies, the grieving Katniss places flowers around her body. The people of District 11 watch and then riot, leading President Snow to warn Crane that these Games are not turning out well.
Haymitch persuades Crane to change the rules to allow two winners if they are from the same district, suggesting that this will quiet the unrest. When this change is announced, Katniss searches for Peeta, finding him wounded after fleeing from the Careers. After she moves him to safety, they hear an announcement that what each survivor needs the most will be provided at the Cornucopia. Despite Peeta’s strong opposition, Katniss leaves to get medicine for him. Clove attacks and pins her down; she then boasts about her part in Rue’s death. Katniss is saved when Thresh, District 11’s male tribute, kills Clove. He spares Katniss’s life — once — for Rue’s sake. The medicine heals Peeta.
Thresh is killed by wild beasts unleashed by Crane; Katniss and Peeta race to the roof of the Cornucopia, just ahead of the animals. There they find Cato. After an intense fight, Peeta manages to throw Cato to the ground, where the beasts attack him. Katniss then ends Cato’s agony by shooting him with an arrow. Katniss and Peeta think they have won, but Crane cancels the rule change: there can be only one victor. Katniss then convinces Peeta to eat poisonous Nightlock with her. Just before they do, they are hastily named co-winners of the 74th Hunger Games.
Afterward, Haymitch warns Katniss that she has made many enemies by her acts of defiance. Snow has Crane locked in a room with Nightlock. As Katniss and Peeta return to District 12, Snow ponders the situation. Katniss encourages Peeta to forget what happened between them in the Games, devastating him.
Jennifer, with her honesty and rebellious attitude has become the fan favorite and our favorite because she is the only contestant that we know. She lacks the killer instinct…until she must. Alliances form and everyone wants to get the fan favorite aka Rambette Jennifer Lawrence, who did an excellent job to give girls a heroine being both a compassionate woman and a huntress. Like all reality TV shows, when the drama starts to fade the program directors add an element to push it in the direction that they want. An excellent film.