REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Brake)
Jeremy Jordan (Smash)
David Harewood (Blood Diamond)
Calista Flockhart (The Last Shot)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Laura Benanti (Take The Lead)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Helen Slater (Supergirl 80s)
Owain Yeoman (Troy)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Robert Gant (Popular)
Briana Venskus (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Chris Vaance (Prison Break)
Peter Facinelli (Twilight)
Jenna Dewan Tatum (Witches of East End)
Chris Browning (Cowboys & Aliens)
Brit Morgan (True Blood)
Scott Michael Campbell (Push)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
Charles Halford (Constantine TV)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Hope Lauren (Agent Carter)
Emma Caulfield (Buffy)
Tawny Cypress (Heroes)
Italia Ricci (American Pie: Beta House)
Laura Vandervoort (Smallville)
Sara Gilbert (The Big Bang Theory)
Eddie McClintock (Bones)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers 3)


Warner Bros have had a rocky road when it comes to their superhero characters and although the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise epitomized this character, their other attempts at films like Green Lantern and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice met with criticism. Sometimes ‘dark’ does not always work, particularly when it comes to superheroes and if you want an example at this, check out the Marvel Universe of superheroes. However for their TV series (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow), they’ve successfully captured the spirit of these characters and the comic universe where they came from and thankfully Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El (aka Kara Davers) is also part of this success thanks to the excellent TV series Supergirl that stars Melissa Benoist as this intelligent and beautiful Kryptonian. Given that, the entire casting for Supergirl is perfect!

The series is also created by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg who are no strangers to the world of superheroes and compared to the entire DC Comics TV line-up, Supergirl is easily one of my favorite as it doesn’t try to be too dark but rather, uplifting and enjoyable.

Also joining Benoist as Supergirl is Mechad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen), David Harewood (Hank Henshaw or the ‘Martian Manhunter’ known as J’onn J’onzz), Chyler Leigh (Kara’s adopted sister Alex Danvers), Jeremy Jordan (Kara’s sidekick) and also Calista Flockhart who plays Cat Grant, the owner of CatCo Worldwide Media (think a modern version of the Daily Planet). Sure, some of the actors camp it up for the TV series but this campiness actually works well with the characters and the story and once again, continue with the light-hearted nature of the series.

Given that, there are some darker moments in the series but overall and compared to The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tommorrow, Supergirl is a much more colorful and hopeful story. The series even boasts Helen Slater (who played the original Supergirl in the 1984 movie) as Eliza Danvers as Kara’s adoptive mother plus Dean Cain as her father who played Superman in the classic 1993 TV series, Lois & Clark. This is also what I enjoy about Supergirl is all the cameos and whether that’s from film or the world of DC Comics itself, the creators really cram in quite a few people into the series, many as Easter Eggs.

Although each episode has a ‘villain’, the overarching villain is Laura Benanti as Alura Zor-El who plays the evil twin sister of Kara’s mother. Having additional Kryptonians in the show does increase the jeopardy for our heroine and some of these episodes are considerably darker. Then you have billionaire Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) who is not evil perse but wants the best for the world which of course causes conflict. Once again, some great villains for Supergirl. Kara’s supporting cast include an African American Jimmy Olsen who also provides a love interest for Supergirl plus their geeky tech-head sidekick Winn Schott who together attempt to protect the fictitious National City. Then you have Kara’s sister Alex who works for the DEO (Department of Extra-Normal Operations) that is run by Hank Henshaw, an alien known as J’onn J’onzz disguised as a human in order to protect the world from alien threats. The character of Henshaw also has a great history.

Interestingly, Superman is mentioned in the series and does appear off screen. He will  actually makes a full appearance in Season 2 of Supergirl but the coolest crossover in any TV series was when Grant Gustin from The Flash starred in one episode which had fanboys and fangirls gushing from the coolness factor. With 20 episodes in this collection, Supergirl does end with a cliffhanger and with a second season confirmed (moving to CW) things are looking up for the Girl of Steel.

Supergirl on Blu-ray boasts some exceptional video and audio quality that really highlights the colourful costumes, villains and heroes of this universe. For special features, we get a handful of deleted scenes plus a couple of fun documentaries about J’onn J’onzz and Supergirl. All in all, it’s a great release from Roadshow Warner.

Supergirl is a proof that superheroes don’t need to be dark and moody and this TV series captures the spirit and core of this character that thanks to its creators successfully transforms the comic into a very enjoyable, clichéd and action packed live-action series with lots of world building and character development!. An Excellent series and a must see for all DC fans.

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REVIEW: WHIPLASH

CAST

Miles Teller (The Divergent Series)
J.K. SImmons (Spider-Man)
Paul Resier (Aliens)
Melissa Benoist (Supergirl TV)
Austin Stowell (Injustice)
Nate Lang (What Maisie Knew)
Chris Mulkey (First Blood)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
Suanne Spoke (War of The Worlds)

Andrew Neiman is a first-year jazz student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. He has been playing drums from a young age and aspires to become one of the greats like Buddy Rich. Famed conductor Terence Fletcher discovers Andrew practicing in the music room late one night and eventually invites him into his studio band as the alternative for core drummer Carl Tanner. Fletcher is abusive toward his students, mocking and insulting them; when the band rehearses the Hank Levy piece “Whiplash” and Andrew struggles to keep the tempo, Fletcher hurls a chair at him, slaps him, and berates him in front of the class.

At a jazz competition, Andrew misplaces Carl’s sheet music. Since Carl cannot play without it, Andrew steps in, telling Fletcher that he can perform “Whiplash” from memory. After a successful performance, Fletcher promotes him to core drummer. Soon after, Fletcher recruits Ryan Connolly, the core drummer from Andrew’s former lower-level class. Andrew believes Connolly is the less talented drummer, and is infuriated when Fletcher promotes him to core. Determined to impress Fletcher, Andrew practices until his hands bleed and breaks up with his girlfriend Nicole, believing she will hold him back.

Fletcher tearfully reveals in class that a talented former student of his, Sean Casey, has died in a car accident. The band rehearses “Caravan”, but Ryan struggles with the tempo. Fletcher puts Andrew, Ryan and Carl through gruelling auditions until nearly 2:00 a.m. while the rest of the class waits outside. After kicking furniture and throwing instruments across the room, Fletcher gives the position to Andrew.

On the way to another competition, Andrew’s bus breaks down. He rents a car but arrives late, and realizes he left his drumsticks at the rental office. After a dressing-down from Fletcher, Andrew races back to the rental office to retrieve the drumsticks, but his car is broadsided by a semi-trailer. He crawls from the wreckage and arrives on stage bloody and injured. When he struggles to play “Caravan” due to his injuries, Fletcher halts the performance to tell Andrew he is “done”. Andrew attacks Fletcher in front of the audience and is dismissed from Shaffer Conservatory.

Andrew meets with a lawyer representing the parents of Sean Casey. Contrary to Fletcher’s claim that Sean died in a car accident, the lawyer explains that Sean hanged himself, having suffered anxiety and depression during his time as Fletcher’s student. Sean’s parents want to prevent Fletcher from teaching again. Andrew agrees to testify on the condition of anonymity, and Fletcher is fired from Shaffer Conservatory.

Months later, Andrew has abandoned drumming and is working in a restaurant while applying to different colleges. One evening he discovers Fletcher performing at a jazz club. After the performance, Fletcher invites Andrew to drink with him. He explains that he pushed his students beyond the expected so that they might achieve greatness and become the next Louis Armstrong or Charlie Parker. He invites Andrew to replace the current drummer in his band at the upcoming JVC Jazz Festival. Andrew agrees. He invites Nicole to the performance, but she is in a new relationship.

On stage at the jazz festival, moments before the performance is about to start, Fletcher reveals that he knows Andrew testified against him, and leads the band with a piece Andrew does not know. Unable to follow the cues without sheet music, Andrew leaves the stage humiliated. After being consoled by his father, he defiantly returns to the drum kit, begins playing “Caravan”, and cues the band to follow his lead. Infuriated, Fletcher reluctantly follows suit. As the piece ends and the lights go down, Andrew continues his own solo. Fletcher is taken aback but begins to guide Andrew. The two share a look before Fletcher cues the band finale.

Whiplash is an exhilarating, provocative and often brutal film which combines musical drama with psychological thriller as director Damien Chazelle presents us with two obsessed individuals locked in an intense and mesmerising battle of wills. J.K. Simmons fully deserves his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his electric portrayal of Terence Fletcher.