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: BONES – SEASON 1

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Eric Millegan (The Phobic)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
Jonathan Adams (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sam Trammell (The order)
Chris Conner (Altered Carbon)
Larry Poindexter (17 Again)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
José Zúñiga (Next)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Heavy D (The Cider House Rules)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Toby Hemingway (The Covenant)
Marguerite MacIntyre (The Vampire Diaries)
Tom Kiesche (Breaking Bad)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Bokeem Woodbine (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Laz Alonso (Avatar)
Robert Gossett (The Net)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Heath Freeman (Raising The Bar)
Michael Rothhaar (Eli Stone)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)
Alicia Coppola (Another World)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Rachel Miner (Bully)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Ty Panitz (Because I Said So)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)
Claire Coffee (Grimm)
Michael B. Silver (Legally Blonde)
Penny Marshall (The Simpsons)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jaime Ray Newman (The Punisher)
John M. Jackson (NCIS: Los Angeles)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Aaron Pearl (Breaking Bad)
Josh Keaton (Avengers Assemble)
Adriana DeMeo (Killer Movie)
Matt Barr (Sleepy Hollow)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Brian Gross (2 Broke Girls)
James Parks (The Hateful Eight)
Clayton Rohner (Ozark)
Mercedes Colon (The Fosters)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Cullen Douglas (Pure Genius)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
Michael Chieffo (Disclosure)
Michelle Hurd (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Scott Lawrence (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Patricia Belcher (Flatliners)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Mark Harelik (Trumbo)
Alexandra Krosney (Last Man Standing)
Sumalee Montano (Veep)
Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures)
Matt Battaglia (Thor)
Kirk B.R. Woller (Hulk)
Loren Dean (Space Cowboys)
Pat Skipper (Halloween)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Bones very quickly garnered rave reviews and amassed a loyal following. Bones is loosely inspired by real life forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. This funny, clever, sometimes gross, and totally addictive crime drama centers around forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperence Brennan (Emily Deschanel), who toils out of the Jeffersonian Institution and, on the side, writes mysteries starring her fictional heroine (and here’s the twist) Kathy Reichs. Because Brennan has an almost supernatural ability to generate accurate assumptions based on her examination of the corpse’s bones, she is often consulted by the FBI on difficult, seemingly unsolvable cases. She is frequently partnered by brash wiseacre FBI Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), who seems to hold a bias against science and those who practice in that field. It’s Booth who breezily saddles Brennan with the nickname “Bones.” Naturally intuitive and freewheeling, Booth immediately is at odds with the clinically analytical Brennan. But, despite their personality clashes, and with the aid of Brennan’s gifted and quirky colleagues, the cases do get solved.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)It’s no great secret that the palpable chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz is what actually propels the show and is what separates it from the other, more formulaic, dispassionate crime dramas. Every week, fans tune in for the leads’ deliciously caustic banter more so than for the weekly dose of mystery. You see, the mystery jones can be fixed by viewing any other one of the gazillion forensic dramas so currently prevalent on the airwaves. So the mystery is basically the MacGuffin that drives the show forward. But the cantankerous chemistry – that palpable “something” between the two leads as they hilariously bicker and wrangle – is definitely unique to this show.
Emily Deschanel is a find. And David Boreanaz. Yeah, I found it difficult going, at first, watching him in a new role, seeing as how I’m a fan of Buffy and Angel. But it helps that Booth isn’t much like our vampire with a soul. This ex-Army Ranger Special Agent is breezy, personable, and outgoing, not brooding, tortured, and introspective like Angelus. So, the transition, while disconcerting for me, was ultimately smooth enough. Boreanaz brings such command, self-assurance and charm to his character that I bought into it soon enough. My favorite episodes are the pilot episode, where we are introduced to the cast; “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” – the team is quarantied together in the Jeffersonian during Christmas and we learn personal stuff about the characters; “Two Bodies in the Lab” – character development galore in this episode as Brennan dates on-line and is targeted while she works on two cases; “The Superhero in the Alley” – a decomposed body is found wearing a superhero costume; and “The Woman in Limbo” – a gripping, emotional season finale as Brennan discovers shocking facts about her parents.

REVIEW: CONSTANTINE (2005)

CAST

Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Tilda Swinton (The Chronciles of Narnia)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Max Baxer (The Island)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Gavin Rossdale (The Blign Ring)
Peter Stormare (American Gods)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
April Grace (Lost)
Jhoanna Trias (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible 3)
Laz Alonso (Avatar)

Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz in Constantine (2005)Ever since he was young, John Constantine could see things – things that humans aren’t supposed to see. After a childhood spent in and out of mental hospitals, John finally discovered the truth behind his gift. After attempting suicide, the young man traveled to Hell, where he learned that demons are indeed real. So are angels. As he’s aged, John has become more and more aware of these “half-breeds” – part human, part spirit – that roam the planet, influencing the living. They are never really a threat to individuals, since the powers in both Heaven and Hell have an agreement. No real emissaries of good or evil can visit the plane of reality. It’s a truce between the sides called The Balance. And John tries to maintain said symmetry.Keanu Reeves in Constantine (2005)When the twin sister of police detective Angela Dodson kills herself, it somehow leads to John. It seems that the angel Gabriel and Satan’s emissary Balthazar both have a connection to the case, and the reasons are horrifying. It appears Satan’s son is trying to find passage into this plane, and it’s up to John to stop his progress. But with minions manipulating the forces toward a final showdown, all John can do is try and put the pieces together. It may not be enough to prevent the bringing of Hell on Earth, which is what Satan’s son would do if Constantine doesn’t stop him.Keanu Reeves in Constantine (2005)With all it has going for it, Constantine should be better. It has a powerful graphic novel lineage (DC Comics/Vertigo’s Hellblazer titles are no slouches, after all), a leading man with a track record in genre fare (even if the Matrix movies were more Wachowski than Reeves) and the aforementioned supernatural sensation of The Bible to tip the scales. But somewhere along the line the movie loses its way, failing to maximize the potential in its premise. What we end up with is a big budget spectacle that cries out to be epic, yet only ends up being enjoyable. Maintaining entertainment value is not necessarily a bad thing – there are dozens of clunky would-be blockbusters out there that would give their eye candy teeth to be half as engaging as this film.Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz in Constantine (2005)A lot of the problem with the film comes in pacing. First time director Francis Lawrence  mistakes slowness for seriousness, trying to add gravitas to his narrative by drawing things out. Sometimes, it works, but more often than not, the languid plot velocity grows tiresome.Keanu Reeves and Djimon Hounsou in Constantine (2005)Surprisingly, Lawrence takes the opposite approach with his set pieces. Each of our leads (Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz) takes a trip to Hell, and each time, we more or less race through the region. Stunning shots of distant fiery landscapes barely get time to register on our retinas before Lawrence and his CGI minions make with another supped-up sequence. The notion of giving the Underworld a post-nuclear fall-out feel is indeed unique, and it is one of Constantine’s many marvelous attributes.

REVIEW: AVATAR EXTENDED EDITION

CAST

Sam Worthington (Clash of The Titans)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Stephen Lang (Public Enemies)
Michelle Rodriguez (THe Breed)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
CCH Pounder (Orphan)
Wes Studi (Heat)
Kelson Henderson (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
James Gaylyn (Power Rangers RPM)
Laz Alonso (Fast & Furious)
Matt Gerald (The Oath)
Scott Lawrence (Star Trek Into Darkness)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)

MV5BMjA4MzQ2ODE2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzk0MTUzNA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_The extended collector’s edition runs 16 minutes 28 seconds longer than the theatrical cut, and listed below are the major differences.

1) The opening scene is different, and starts with Jake in a wheelchair on Earth, in a Blade Runner-esque Earth city. The scene moves to scenes of Jake in his apartment, then taking liquid shots in a bar. Jake’s narration of “I told myself I can pass any test a man can pass” and “They can fix the spinal if you got the money. But not on vet benefits, not in this economy” are inserted during this new opening scene.

Jake beats up a bar patron who is mistreating a woman, and then Jake and wheelchair are unceremoniously thrown outside by bouncers into an alley. While in the alley, Jake meets the two RDA representatives who bring him news of his brother’s untimely death. Then the movie cuts back to the original theatrical cut where Jake sees his brother’s body cremated, then awakes in space.

2) During Jake’s initial flyover of Pandora in his avatar, they witness a herd of Sturmbeasts, buffalo-like creatures.

3) After seeing the Sturmbeasts, Grace, Jake, and Norm stop by Grace’s old English school for the Na’vi. The school is now closed, abandoned, and some walls are riddled with bullet-holes. Norm finds a Dr. Seuss book, “The Lorax”, on the ground. This scene explains how Neytiri knew English so well, and certainly gives some further backstory into Grace Augustine’s character.

Interestingly, The Lorax can be seen as a metaphor for the Pandoran story. Recall that the seemingly simple Seussian book is actually a lesson on the plight of the environment and industrialization.

4) We see some other different Pandoran flora and fauna, particularly with scenes of the luminescent forest floor.

5) Jake’s first dinner with Neytiri is longer and extended, and it’s here that she tells him her full name.

6) When Jake, Grace, and Norm first visit the Hallelujah Mountains on the way to the remote uplink station, Grace explains (in a Jake voiceover) that the mountains are levitated [via the Meissner Effect], because Unobtanium is a superconductor. There’s a pretty spectacular CGI shot as the characters look around in awe at the suspended mountains.

7) Pictures of Grace and Na’vi children at her previously functioning school. Dr. Augustine tells Jake that she previously taught Neytiri and her sister, Sylwanin. However, one day, Sylwanin and some hunters destroyed an RDA bulldozer, and RDA SecOps troopers killed them at the school, which explains why the school walls were previously seen pockmarked with bullet holes.

8) Sturmbeast hunting scene after Jake tames a Banshee. After Jake successfully kills a Sturmbeast with an arrow, he and Neytiri chortle a “Heck yeah!” and whoop.

9) Jake and Neytiri’s love scene comprises them linking braids together. Some kissing, nothing explicit.

10) Tsu’tey leads a war party that destroys the RDA’s autonomous bulldozers, as well as the RDA SecOps squad that was guarding them. Corporal Wainfleet leads the search party that uncovers the evidence, via real-time helmet cam footage. Not sure why they cut this scene from the theatrical cut, as it persuades Selfridge to attack the Home Tree.

11) Attack of Hammerhead Titanotheres on RDA forces has been extended slightly; additional scenes of AMP-Suits getting destroyed.

12) Fight between Colonel Quaritch in AMP Suit and Neytiri on Thanator slightly longer.

13) Tsu’tey’s death scene; in the theatrical cut, he falls off the RDA shuttle’s aft ramp to his death. In the Collector’s Edition, he falls to the forest floor, mortally wounded. He passes on leadership to Jake, and asks Jake to ceremonially kill him e.g. hara-kiri, so that Jake will be the last shadow that Tsu-Tey sees. Jake does so.


I preferred the original Tsu’tey death scene, which was more dramatic. Jake, had afterall, already become the de facto clan leader by that point in the movie, so further formal transfer by Tsu’tey (a minor character) seemed unnecessary. both versions of the movie are excellent and both worth watching.

REVIEW: AVATAR

CAST

Sam Worthington (Clash of The Titans)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Stephen Lang (Public Enemies)
Michelle Rodriguez (The Breed)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Laz Alonso (Fast & Furious)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
CCH Pounder (Orphan)
Wes Studi (Heat)
Kelson Henderson (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Matt Gerald (The Oath)
Scott Lawrence (Star Trek Into Darkness)
James Gaylyn (Power Rangers RPM)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)

MV5BMjA4MzQ2ODE2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzk0MTUzNA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_

The story is an interesting one, set nearly 150 years in the future on a planet called Pandora with the human invaders intent on mining for a resource that sells for incredible prices back on distant Earth. The invaders, having previously tried to do the politically correct thing and show concern for the welfare of the natives, eventually lose patience and a seemingly one-sided and very aggressive battle ensues.

The audience’s sympathies are at all times nudged in favor of the Na’vi who inhabit the planet. Jake, a paraplegic war veteran, is the lead character and avatar, who by way of concepts reminiscent of The Matrix films, is able to be another person in another place – one of the Na’vi – thanks to technology way beyond our 21st-century comprehension. He falls in love with their leader’s daughter.

It’s definitely one of my all time favorite movies.  That’s mainly due to the stunning cinematography, which is of a standard that I didn’t exist before Avatar  and of course why James Cameron couldn’t make it when he came up with the idea several years ago. It is just fabulous, extraordinary and mind-blowing. It almost certainly sets a new benchmark for special effects and is possibly a landmark film too, again because of its unequalled cinematic technology.