12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND

Image result for arrow tv logo

MAIN CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Ben and Kate)
Josh Segarra (Trainwreck)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rick Gonzalez (Pulse)
Joe Dinicol (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Maddison McLaughlin (Chicago P.D.)
Tyler Ritter (The McCarthys)
Carly Pope (Popular)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)

The Mid-Season finale of Arrow was a great way to cap off the first half of a season that’s been all about rebuilding, regrouping and looking to the past in order to shape the future. There was plenty of progress on the Prometheus front, all of which fueled a suitably dark and depressing ending that suggests things are going to get a lot worse before that light at the end of the tunnel appears for Team Arrow.
One of the few things the Arrow producers have revealed about this year’s big villain is that he has ties to Oliver Queen’s past. Those ties became much more clear in this episode, which featured one of the more memorable uses of flashbacks in the show’s history. In the last couple seasons, there’s been an odd obsession with drawing as many direct parallels between past and present, usually to the detriment of the flashback scenes. But here that approach made sense. In effect, the flashbacks were giving us a glimpse of a lost, early Season 1-era episode, one that also served as the beginning of Prometheus’ origin story.

On one hand, it was fun just to go back and revisit that simpler time. All the details were recreated perfectly, from Ollie’s original, mask-less costume and lair to his goofy interplay with a pre-sidekick Felicity to Diggle being the nonplussed bodyguard. On another, these flashbacks really emphasized how much Ollie has changed as a person and a vigilante over the course of four years. He may flirt with killing now, but back then he was a veritable murder machine. It was chilling watching him mow down those guards with impunity. Enough so that you can’t help but empathize with Prometheus a bit. Maybe Ollie had all of this coming. The way in which this episode regularly bounced between past and present helped build the tension leading into Ollie’s final showdown with Prometheus.

But before getting to that, it’s worth discussing the lead-up to that final showdown. This episode built up an engaging mystery as Prometheus attacked Curtis and then sent Team Arrow on a quest to uncover his identity and motives. There’s still plenty we don’t know about this villain. The implication is that he’s the bastard son of Justin Clayborne (Get Carter’s Garwin Sanford), one of the Hood’s first victims, though even that can’t be taken for granted yet. But even if that is the case, Prometheus’ actual identity remains a mystery. What we do know is that he harbors a serious grudge, and not an entirely unwarranted one, at that. Whomever is under the mask, Prometheus is one who will force Ollie to atone for his mistakes he made when he was still a killer, not a hero.
So after much soul-searching and one early brawl with Prometheus, Ollie finally confronted his foe at the exact spot where he shot down Clayborne four years earlier. And that’s where Prometheus really upped his game. He delivered quite the blow by tricking Ollie into killing Billy. But again, you can see Ollie proving Prometheus point for him. If he wasn’t so reckless and so quick to pull the trigger, Ollie wouldn’t have fallen for that ruse. He tried the killing game again, and this is where it led him. All of this makes Prometheus a more compelling villain because it’s so easy to understand his point of view. He may not be the hero of this story, but he makes a strong case for the idea that Ollie isn’t either. That, more than anything, is what’s distinguishing Prometheus from the rest of the show’s major villains.

That dramatic twist led to a terrifically emotional scene as Ollie felt the crushing weight of his mistakes bearing down on him. To his credit, he didn’t try to hide the truth from Felicity, which is another sign of how much he’s matured in the past four years. But it was quite a depressing way to cap off the first half of the season. The montage where Ollie reflected on his knack for ruining lives while Curtis, Felicity and Diggle all dealt with their new tragedies was an extremely effective way of highlighting the darker turn the season is taking. Echo Kellum in particular gave a terrifically raw performance during Curtis’ breakup with his husband.  It’s funny to compare this episode to the mid season finale of Flash (Season 3). Both leaned pretty heavily on the Christmas motif towards the end, but where Flash tried to find room for hope and optimism in the midst of a dark new threat, Arrow just went all-in on the depressing darkness. But honestly, optimism probably would have felt forced given everything that happened tonight. The final scene was a shocking way to end the episode, seeing Laurel show up at the Arrowcave gives the episode one last WTF moment to see us into 2017.

Arrow has steadily been building steam over the course of Season 5, and that trend continued in the mid-season finale. This episode capped off 2016 on a fittingly dark and gloomy note. Viewers were given more insight into Prometheus’ background and motivations, while also getting the chance to revisit the show’s Season 1 status quo. Things are looking up for the series as it moves into the new year.

Advertisements

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS

CAST (VOICES)

Benjamin Bratt (Catwoman)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
Paget Brewster (Community)
C. Thoms Howell (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Eric bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Larry Cedar (Constantine)
Richard Chamberlain (Chuck)

In an alternate universe, the Justice League is a brutal force that maintains order on Earth. This universe has its own versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman:Superman is Hernan Guerra,[citation needed] the son of General Zod, who was rocketed to Earth as a child and raised by a family of honorable and hardworking Mexican migrant farmers. Having gone through the troubles that illegal immigrants face in the United States, he has become short tempered and withdrawn from humanity. Batman is Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a scientist who, after graduating college, has inadvertently transformed himself into a form of pseudo-vampire in an attempt to cure his cancer, feeding on criminals to satisfy his hunger after it begins to eat away at his humanity.
Wonder Woman is Bekka, a New God and the widow of Darkseid’s son Orion, who fled Apokolips for Earth using a mother box-sword after the New God Highfather killed her husband in a massacre of the Apokolips royal family.

The Justice League’s unaccountability is ultimately challenged by the world’s governments following the suspicious deaths of three renowned scientists: Victor Fries, who was drained of blood in the Arctic, Ray Palmer, who was sliced into two with a sharp weapon, with his car having traces of a high heel shoe, and Silas Stone, who was burned alive by an explosion of heat vision energy along with his young son Victor Stone. The true killers are dark, robotic creatures with appearances and attributes mirroring the Justice League’s, along with ‘Boom Tube’ teleportation abilities. As all suspicion falls on the Justice League, President Amanda Waller asks that they co-operate with the government’s investigation. Wonder Woman speaks to Steve Trevor to learn what the government knows while Superman invites Lois Lane to the Justice League’s HQ, where he tells her of his goals to help humanity, and reveals how little he knows about Krypton or his heritage.

Batman investigates himself and discovers an email on Silas’ computer that was sent to a number of scientists including Dr. Will Magnus, Kirk’s best friend and college roommate who helped his transformation. Having remained close friends with Magnus and his wife, Tina, Batman asks the doctor about “Project Fair Play,” which involved all the scientists under Lex Luthor’s employ, but Magnus tells him nothing. Later, Batman locates all the remaining scientists (consisting of Magnus, John Henry Irons, Michael Holt, Karen Beecher, Pat Dugan, Kimiyo Hoshi, Emil Hamilton, T. O. Morrow, and Stephen Shin) discussing the possible threat over their heads, when they are attacked by the robotic assassins, who travel via Boom Tube. Despite Batman and later, the other League Members intervening, the assassins slaughter the remaining scientists and Tina before ‘Booming’ out, with Magnus being severely burned, and the sole survivor of the attack.

The Justice League take Magnus to their HQ, the Tower of Justice, to recover, while Superman flies into orbit to a satellite, where Luthor now resides. Luthor reveals that Project Fair Play is a weapons program to destroy the League if necessary, while also revealing that he retained all the remaining information on Krypton from Superman’s shuttle, and tells him the truth about Zod, who Superman had envisioned as a hero trying to save his world. Luthor tells Superman that Waller has the original files, and as Superman leaves, a robotic assassin booms in and the satellite explodes. As Superman looks on in shock, Trevor shows satellite footage of the explosion and Superman’s presence to Waller, and she retaliates with Project Fair Play, which consists of troops and vehicles armed with energy weapons powered by red sunlight radiation.

Superman and Wonder Woman face the army at their door as Batman stays inside the Tower, where he activates the Tower’s forcefield, with the idea being that once Magnus recovers, he can clear the League. Suddenly, Tina arrives, confusing Batman, who saw her dead body, but before he can ask the obvious question, she subdues him and shapeshifts into a liquid metal robot. With Batman restrained by Tin, Magnus’ house robot, Tina revives Magnus, who is revealed to have orchestrated the framing of the League, with Nanites that enhance his physical strength to mildly superhuman levels. The assassins, and Tina, are in fact the Metal Men, and the assassins appear with a weapon. Magnus tells Batman that he intends to use a Nanite Bomb to forcefully link humanity together into a hive mind. He reveals to Batman that he accidentally killed the real Tina in a fit of rage one night early in their marriage. Overwhelmed with irrational jealousy, Will believed that she secretly loved Kirk, and was tired of her constantly begging him to find a cure for Kirk’s vampiric condition. After covering up her death, Magnus replaced her with a robotic duplicate named Platinum, and joined Fair Play soon after, intending to use its resources to fund his secret Nanite Bomb project, as he feels that his actions prove that humanity does not deserve to continue if even a brilliant, rational man like himself could do that to his own wife.

As Magnus prepares his weapon, Lex Luthor suddenly teleports into the middle of the battle outside and tells everyone that he has discovered Magnus’ plan. Inside, Batman destroys Tin and frees himself, then seizes an opportunity to drop the forcefield. The Justice League then do battle, with Batman fighting Magnus, Wonder Woman facing Platinum, and Superman fighting the other Metal Men, who quickly merge into a single, more powerful form. Eventually, they all succeed, the bomb is destroyed (at the cost of Superman’s Kryptonian escape craft) and a regretful Magnus commits suicide by disintegrating himself with nanites. week later, the Justice League has been cleared of all wrongdoing, and the world, along with Lois Lane, views them differently. Bekka decides to leave the Justice League to face her past along with Lex Luthor, who wants to explore other worlds after growing bored with this one. Before leaving through a Boom Tube, Lex Luthor gives Superman all the data on Krypton and tells him to be a “real hero”. The film ends with Superman and Batman deciding to sort through the data immediately to help humanity.Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett have really crafted a masterpiece here with ‘God’s and Monsters.’ Each of the 3 main Justice Leaguers or the trinity if you prefer, have been reimagined for this universe in very unique and imaginative ways, we enabled the writers to go further with our heroes than might be possible in the main DC continuity.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – DARK WATERS

Image result for ARROW TV LOGO
DARK WATERS
CAST
Stephen Amell (Screamer 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
GUEST CAST

Neal McDonough (Agent Carter)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)
Echo Kellum (Dead People)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Parker Young (Enlisted)
Elysia Rotaru (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Janet Kidder (Bride of Chucky)
James Kidnie (Smallville)

Oliver encourages citizens to clean up the bay, prompting Darhk to send a drone attack. Felicity takes it down, but many are injured. In retaliation, Oliver reveals Darhk’s photo, declaring him the leader of the Ghosts, on television and sets up a hotline for anyone who has any information about him. Darhk, watching on television with other HIVE members, is visibly enraged and breaks the television with his magic. Milo Armitage makes a sarcastic remark. Reluctantly, they go through with a Christmas party to show they are not afraid.

Andy Diggle continues to be uncooperative with his brother Meanwhile, Felicity’s mother discover’s Oliver’s engagement ring and shows her daughter. At the Christmas party, Felicity learns that her mother is dating Quentin Lance. Later, she and Oliver meet Curtis’s husband. During their discussion, Felicity realizes Oliver was going to propose the night Laurel and Thea came to get their help. Felicity asks Oliver why and he says that everything changed and he wasn’t sure he could anymore. Darhk breaks in despite high security, knocks out Oliver, and kidnaps Diggle, Thea and Felicity. Oliver and Laurel go out to beat on the Ghosts to get a location, but come up with nothing.Malcolm arrives in the Arrowcave, surprising Quentin, and provides a communicator that the Ghosts use. Oliver offers himself up to Darhk, who takes him back to HIVE HQ. Laurel and Malcolm, who is dressed as the Green Arrow, follow, using a nanotracker in Oliver’s bloodstream. Darhk demonstrates algae that HIVE is growing in the bay, which they are trying to adapt to make breathable. They test it on humans, who they put in a gas chamber. He lets Oliver have one last conversation with Felicity who says she would have agreed to marry him. Darhk decides that, although Oliver is agreeing to work with him now, it is easier to remove all motivation for resistance and kill Thea, Diggle, and Felicity in the gas chamber. Laurel and Malcolm arrive, with Laurel’s Canary Cry breaking the glass and freeing the captives. The other members of HIVE escape, while Malcolm and Oliver go after Darhk. After a fight, Malcolm leaves Damien pinned to the ground with arrows and right next to an exploding arrow. Quentin and a squad of cops help the others escape from the many HIVE pledges and later Oliver holds another tree lighting where he proposes. As the new fiances return home, their limo is attacked by Ghosts. The driver is killed and Oliver leaves Felicity in the back as he drives them to safety.Meanwhile, Damien enjoys decorating his Christmas tree with his wife and young daughter. Oliver opens the door to the limo and finds an unresponsive Felicity with blood coming out of her mouth.Image result for ARROW dark watersAnother classic Christmas outing for Arrow and one that leaves the viewer without a dry eye. Having to wait till January to find out Felicity’s fate is heart wrenching. The not knowing is what will keep viewers hooked. hopefully wont be long before we see some hurt on the big bad this season for what he did to Felicity.

 

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 1-2

Image result for jlu logo

CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
George Newbern (Superman/Shazam)
Susan Eisenberg (Justice League: Doom)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals Barrera (Camp Rock)

Image result for justice league unlimitedRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Dana Delaney (Desperate Housewives)
Mike Farrell (Vanishing Act)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters 2)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Knight)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Denis Farina (Get Shorty)
Virginia Maden (Sideways)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: DS9)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Juliet Landau (Buffy)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Elizabeth Pena (The Incredibles)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Powers Boothe (Agents of SHIELD)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
James Remar (Flashforward)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)

The first two seasons of Justice League were fantastic. Packed with action, humor and great storytelling the world of DC’s heroes came to life thanks to the collaborative efforts of the folks behind the rest of Warner Brothers’ successful cartoons. The show focused on the adventures of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkgirl and J’onn (the Martian Manhunter). They spent most of their time fighting established villains and trying to save the world from impending doom as you’d expect. When Justice League Unlimited (the show’s sequel series) was released it shook up the formula a bit and quite frankly, really felt like a new show.


The reason behind this different atmosphere was the change in the cast. The main seven characters were still kicking around but their ranks had swelled since the end of the original series. The basic premise was that the Justice League felt they could do better with more members. Many hands make light work and all that. Therefore anyone with superpowers that could do some good was offered a spot on the team.

Image result for justice league unlimited

Not every character gets their chance in the spotlight but it certainly fleshed out the show with some of DC’s more obscure characters. Most of these episodes focus on the original characters though many of the rookies become involved in the storytelling. Being a longtime comic book fan, seeing more of these characters was definitely a thrill. Getting Green Arrow added to the ranks was probably the best addition to the show in my opinion, but Supergirl, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Black Canary and The Question definitely helped round things out. In all more characters were added to the series than the show actually featured so you can imagine the insanity that ensues. Many of these characters do get washed out thanks to the lack of coverage, but it’s not handled to the point that they become obscure or disrupt the quality of the show.

Image result for justice league unlimited
There  are several episodes that made an impression on me. “Fearful Symmetry” was a very solid story that told a tale about Supergirl and really fleshed out her character. In it she is basically cloned and begins to have dreams that mirror the actions of her sinister clone. Green Arrow and Question get involved in order to help her out and we got to see some interesting facets of the DC Universe.


For my money “The Greatest Story Never Told” was probably my favorite episode. It doesn’t have a lot to do with anything and it’s a fairly weak story but it features Booster Gold as its main character. In case you are unfamiliar with Booster he’s basically a smartass guy from the 25th century who travels back in time for fame and fortune. He’s accompanied by a wisecracking robot named Skeets and finds himself not feeling the love from his other JLU teammates. In this episode he’s given the noble duty of crowd control while the League fights to save the world. There’s nothing particularly great about the story it’s just that I love Booster’s character and quite honestly, this episode was hilarious all around.
“Kid Stuff” was another fun episode that featured Morgan la Fey’s son getting his prissy little hands on a powerful amulet. The item makes him more powerful than his mother and he casts a spell that sends all adults to another dimension. In order to set things right Morgan turns Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern into kids so they can once again enter the world. As their younger selves the heroes start to let their juvenile side out and it’s funny to see Batman and Wonder Woman banter as if they were childhood sweethearts.

Overall Justice League Unlimited was a great show.  Any comic book fan, or viewer who enjoyed Timm’s other series, definitely owes it to themselves to check this set out. This release offers 26 episodes.


Unfortunately, as with all good things, Justice League Unlimited came to end. The show was cancelled before its time but luckily the crew was able to eek out another thirteen episodes before it went off the air. This season’s collection of superhero antics follows an episodic pattern but keeps an ongoing plot bubbling beneath the surface. The two-part adventures from the earlier sessions of Justice League went away with this season but the fact that characters reference previous episodes helps to keep everything connected.

Image result for justice league unlimited

 

In the first episode of the final season of Unlimited Lex Luthor is on the run from the law after breaking out of jail. The affects of being joined with Brainiac are still being felt by him and throughout the episode you’ll often see Luthor talk to himself because he sees Brainiac standing next to him. When Gorilla Grodd offers Luthor a piece of Brainiac old baldy finds it hard to resist. He agrees to join Grodd’s Legion of Doom and work together with fellow supervillains to take down the Justice League. This set up continues throughout the season and you’ll find bits and pieces of it in each of the thirteen episodes.

In the second episode of this season the shadow of the Thanagarian conflict lingers as an archaeologist discovers something an Egypt. Shayera (Hawkgirl) is lured there by Carter Hall who tries to convince her that he is Hawkman. This was a nice throwback to the prior season and early Hawkman comic books but was certainly not the best episode in the set.

One of my favorite episodes from his collection easily has to be “Flash and Substance”. Four villains from Flash’s past team up to take down the red blur and they plan on doing it on the opening night of his new museum. Batman and Orion tag along with Flash in order to ensure that he’s ok. The writing in this particular episode was easily the funniest that Justice League ever produced. I particularly enjoyed the villains all sitting around the table at a dive bar talking about making their mortgage payments and whatnot.


Anyone who has ever considered themselves to be a comic book fan at some point in their lives will find something to love about Justice League Unlimited. From the very first season through the last of Unlimited the series offered quality unlike any other. This is a definitive comic book cartoon and stands shoulder to shoulder with WB’s Superman and Batman animated adventures. If you have been collecting the show to date then you’ll be pleased to know that the thirteen episodes featured here are as good, if not better in some cases, as what came before it.