REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Arthur Darvill (Robin Hood)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow0
Ciara Renée (The Flash)
Amber Pemberton (Anomaly)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Dominic Purcell (Blade: Trinity)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Peter Francis James (The Losers)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Cameron Bancroft (Code Name: Eternity)
Stephanie Corneliussen (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Joseph David-Jones (Allegiant)
Jamie Andrew Cutler (Kick-Ass 2)
Callum Rennie (Flashforward)
Ali Liebert (Bomb Girls)
Matt Nable (Riddick)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Cory Gruter-Andrew (The 100)
Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Faye Kingslee (In Time)
Celia Imrie (Highlander)
Jessica Sipos (Slasher)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Isabella Hoffmann (Burlesque)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Patrick J. Adams (Suits)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Jonathan Schaech (Prom Night)

I’ve become so hooked on the DC Comics universe that has been unfolding on the CW that as soon as it was announced, I knew I’d be jumping on board with Legends of Tomorrow. After all, they were culling supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash, and both shows spent so much time setting up this spin off early in the season. I could hardly wait for season 1 to premier in January. And my faith was rewarded.

The show begins as Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) appears in 2016. He’s from the future, and he has a mission he needs help with. In the future, Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), an immortal, has taken over the world as a dictator. The only hope is for him to assemble a team from the present day to fight Vandal across time. This group of “heroes” include Ray Palmer and his Atom suit (Brandon Routh), both halves of Firestorm, Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) and Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh), Mick Rory and Leonard Snart better known as Heat Wave and Captain Cold (Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller), a resurrected Sarah Lance aka White Canary (Caity Lotz) and Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall also known as Hawkgirl and Hawkman (Ciara Renee and Carter Hall) who have had many run ins with Savage over the centuries.

However, it isn’t long before this ragtag group learns that this mission isn’t exactly sanctioned by the Time Lords that Rip Hunter claims to work for. Furthermore, defeating Savage appears to be even harder than they first thought. What other secrets is Rip hiding? Will this team be able to come together to defeat Savage?

Actually, Rip Hunter is the only character that viewers of Arrow and The Flash hadn’t already met since much of the backstory for the series was set up in the annual crossover event that aired in November. As a result, the two part season premier moved quickly since we could jump into the action once the team is assembled.

Since Rip has a time ship, we jump around in time quite a bit, which is a lot of fun. A visit to small town Oregon in the 1950’s becomes a bit preachy, but other than that, we focus on the story and the complications our heroes face in each time while tracking Savage. We spend time in Russia during the Cold War and even the Wild West. There are actually several two parters, or at least two shows set in the same period, which gives us some interesting cliffhangers. A few episodes stood on their own and even didn’t tie in directly to the quest to stop Savage, but they were always fun.

I was actually worried that with a cast this big, we wouldn’t get to know the characters that well. On the contrary, we got some great development for all the characters over the course of the season. Some episodes focused more on some characters than others, but everyone had something to do, and we had some nice arcs before the season was over.

Those looking for action will find plenty to enjoy here as well with several action scenes each episode; this is a comic book show after all. I think this show has more action than the others in the Arrowverse, but it could just be that the scenes can be more epic with the larger cast of heroes.
The acting is just a touch on the over the top side of the spectrum. This is especially true from Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell. Actually, this adds a very fun campy feel to the whole show, and I loved it. When the show called for a series moment, the actors always hit it out of the park.
And the writers give these characters some funny lines. There are some classic one liners in the show, mostly coming from Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell’s characters, but everyone gets their fair share of great lines.

So if you are looking for a fun trip through time fighting evil, Legends of Tomorrow is for you. Season 1 is pure escapism, and you’ll love every second of it.

 

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REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE VS TEEN TITAN

CAST (VOICES)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
Shemar Moore (Birds of Prey)
Jerry O’Connell (Jerry Maguire)
Jon Bernthal (Daredevil)
Jason O’Mara (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Stuart Allan (Batman vs Robin)
Jake T. Austin (Rio)
Taissa Farmiga (The Final Girls)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic Thunder)
Kari Wahlgren (Bolt)
Laura Bailey (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
T.C. Carson (Final Destination 2)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
The Justice League battle the Legion of Doom (consisting of Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Cheetah, Weather Wizard, and Toymaster). After the Legion is defeated and captured, Weather Wizard runs away, but is possessed by a shadow-like creature that teleports through darkness, revealed to be the demon Trigon, whose supernatural nature allows him to physically harm Superman. Robin disobeys his father’s orders to get civilians to safety, thinking he can help the Justice League fight Trigon. Robin sets the Batwing to crash into Trigon and explode, forcing Trigon’s shade to leave Weather Wizard. Upset that there’s no answer to this occurrence, and in order for his son to learn teamwork, Batman sends Robin to join the Teen Titans. Meanwhile, Trigon’s shade possesses Superman, plaguing him with visions of demonic shadows.
Robin meets the Titans’ leader Starfire and members Raven, Beast Boy, and Blue Beetle, but his lack of respect for the others causes friction. Blue Beetle and Robin fight until Blue Beetle’s suit instinctively uses an energy blast to severely burn Robin. Raven heals him, but during the process her empathic powers link their minds, tapping into each other’s memories. Later, Robin thanks Raven for saving him, but confronts her about an entity he saw in her mind. With Raven unwilling to answer, Damian tries to search up Raven’s background, but no information is kept about her in the Titans’ files. When he confronts Starfire about this, she replies the team isn’t just for fighting crime, but also a surrogate family, as they are all lost souls in a world with no place for them.
Superman finds and brutally beats down Atomic Skull, alerting Wonder Woman and Batman. The latter uses kryptonite to drive Superman back, revealing his possession before Superman flies off. Cyborg tries to locate Superman and a “female with supernatural powers”, whom Trigon is searching for. He and Batman analyse footage of both a transformed Superman and the shadow demon that possessed Weather Wizard, concluding that if the host is damaged or overwhelmed, they will be freed from it. In the meantime, in order to loosen Damian up, Starfire takes the group to a carnival, where Raven encounters demon emissaries and Trigon, in a spirit form, who wants to find her so they can be together. With the help of the other Titans, Raven resists and fights the emissaries until they cannot maintain their presence on the Earthly plane and dissipate.
Afterward, the Titans demand answers from Raven. She reveals that her mother was a member of a cult who married her off to Trigon, who took a human form. Her mother fled after discovering his true nature and was saved by the Azarathians, a people from another dimension, where Raven grew up. After unwittingly summoning her father and thus causing the obliteration of Azarath and her mother, Raven was taken by him so he could conquer Earth, but she trapped him inside a crystal. The Titans offer their support to Raven in defeating Trigon, but the Justice League arrives in order to take Raven away. However, before they can act, Flash, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman are taken over by Trigon’s shadow and turned into demon emissaries. Batman prevents his own possession by injecting himself with a nerve toxin designed for Bane, putting himself in a comatose state and thus causing the shade to abandon him.
The Titans battle the League without success, causing Raven to surrender herself. Just before the League and Raven use a portal to leave, Blue Beetle brings back Cyborg from Trigon’s control. Robin locates Raven in the Middle East, revealing he put a tracer on the Titans after meeting them. Cyborg and the Titans portal to the Middle East, to discover that Superman had unearthed a mystical shrine that Raven uses her powers on so that Trigon can pass though the shrine as a gate. Robin stabs Superman with kryptonite to free him from Trigon, and back to his own self, Superman defeats Flash and Wonder Woman, which frees them both. The Titans save Raven, but not before Trigon returns to his physical form.
Following Raven’s plan, the Titans and Cyborg portal to Hell to retrieve the crystal to lock away her father, while the Justice League attempt to prevent Trigon from reaching innocent civilians. Beast Boy’s biology reacts oddly to the dimension, initially forcing him to take the form of demonic beasts. The Titans battle hordes of guardian demons while Raven gets the crystal, but an undead Ra’s al Ghul shatters it; he was made Trigon’s vassal following his death, since the Lazarus pits were created by him. Ra’s tries to persuade Robin to join him and Trigon so that he may return to life, but Robin, deciding that he is no longer an ‘al Ghul’ but a Titan, refuses, engages his grandfather in combat, and ultimately defeats and kills him. Overcoming her inner doubts and Trigon’s telepathic attempts to dissuade her, Raven uses her powers and her link to Trigon to re-imprison him in a shard of the broken crystal.
Raven informs the Titans that the shard must stay in Hell and be watched always, in case Trigon tries once again to break free. She puts herself forward as Trigon’s keeper, but the Titans assure that her home is with them. Back at Titans Tower, the group – now joined by Robin and Cyborg – are lauded by the Justice League for saving Earth, and Raven wears her father’s crystal prison on her forehead, even as he is angrily demanding his release. In a post-credits scene, Terra is seen approaching Titans Tower, riding a boulder across the sea.
I’m not really a fan of Damian in a leading role, but in a team the character plays out much better. Sort of like how Batman integrates nicely with the Justice League – both characters can add a bit of spice to the mix once they’re able to clearly contrast with other characters. In my opinion this is the first movie in this line that manages to do this, so that is good to see.  There are some parallels between a few appearances in here and in Young Justice – some designs are related without a doubt, some characters share close or relatively close resemblances, but they are different personalities (and have different voice-actors). Wasn’t sure how to take this at first, but they’re likable.  Overall another great animated outing.

REVIEW: SON OF BATMAN

CAST (VOICES)

Jason O’Mara (The Good Wife)
Stuart Allan )Batman vs Robin)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Giancarlo Esposito (Twilight)
Xander Berkeley (The SPectacular Spider-Man)
Thomas Gibson (Far and Away)
David MCcallum (The Great Escape)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Diane Michelle (The Simpsons)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs)
Bruce Thomas (Legally Blonde)
Kari Wahlgren (Wolverine and The X-Men)

At the headquarters of the League of Assassins, Ra’s al Ghul grooms Damian Wayne (son of his daughter, Talia, and Batman) to succeed him as head of the league. The league is attacked by a group of assassins led by Slade Wilson, Ra’s al Ghul’s initial choice for successor before Ra’s met Batman. Feeling betrayed, Slade decided to seize power. During the battle, Ra’s is fatally burned in a missile strike explosion, dying inches away from reaching the Lazarus Pit. Although Damian stabs Slade in the eye, Slade escapes, vowing vengeance. Talia takes Damian to Gotham City to protect him with his father’s help. In Gotham City, Batman confronts Killer Croc, who is stealing mutagenic chemicals and steroids to enhance himself, to the point where he grew a reptilian tail. Before Batman can be eaten by Croc, Talia electrocutes Croc from behind. She tells Batman about her father’s death and leaves their son in his care, though Damian believes that he can take care of himself and does not need Batman. Although Damian wants to avenge Ra’s al Ghul by killing Slade, Batman objects to this. Slade, now calling himself Deathstroke, captures Dr. Kirk Langstrom, who was working with Croc to enhance him in return for the mutagenics he stole and also had worked with Ra’s, promising a formula for his soldiers. Slade threatens Langstrom’s family to force him to recreate the Man-Bat formula for him and his soldiers. Damian bypasses Wayne Towers security to speak to Bruce, telling him about Slade’s contact, Ubu, who was part of the raid on the League’s headquarters and is stationed in Gotham. Although Damian wants to avenge Ra’s al Ghul by killing Slade, Bruce objects to Damian wanting to kill. Talia is captured by Deathstroke when she and some remaining League members attack his compound.Against Batman’s orders, Damian leaves the Batcave and, after a chase and a long fight, defeats Ubu, who he located by accessing the Bat-Computer. Before Damian can kill him, Nightwing arrives, mistakes him for a criminal and subdues him before bringing him back to the Batcave. Batman berates Damian for his recklessness, willingness to kill and exposing their operation. Batman then has Damian don the mantle of Robin to teach him discipline. Searching for a lead on Langstrom’s location, Batman goes to Arkham to interrogate a rabid Killer Croc, who supplied the mutagens to Langstrom in exchange for his enhancements and is currently going through drastic, agonizing withdrawal symptoms that cause him to shed his scales and tail. Since others are too afraid of him to medicate him without being harmed, Batman promises Croc help in exchange for information. Batman follows Croc’s lead about the formula’s mutagen to Langstrom’s apartment, where he finds a throwing star that he takes evidence of Deathstroke’s involvement. Before he leaves, he goes throughout the building and finds a storage room filled with caged bats, with one larger cage being empty and broken open from inside. Batman then finds a rabid gorilla with bat like mutations, one of Langstrom’s unstable subjects, and it attacks him until it dies from its mutations. A drone aircraft sent by Deathstroke then flies past and crashes on the building, destroying it, though Batman evades the explosion. Commissioner Gordon warns them about an abandoned stadium believed to house Deathstroke’s men.

At the stadium, Batman and Damian question Langstrom but are attacked when Langstrom becomes violent. Before they successfully escape, they fight off a swarm of Man-Bats. In the cave, Langstrom reveals Deathstroke’s plan to create superhuman, flight-capable assassins. While Nightwing works with Langstrom on an antidote, Batman and Damian rescue his family. Batman guesses that Talia has been abducted when he finds evidence of torture in an empty cell, which he keeps from Damian to not set him off. They find and rescue Langstrom’s family, but Batman is unaware that Deathstroke challenged Damian to a fight in exchange for Talia’s life through a video device he gave Langstrom’s daughter in exchange for sparing them. Both Langstrom’s daughter and Deathstroke’s video tell him not involve Batman in the their fight.file_204535_4_Black_Moon_Rising_Tommy_Lee_Jones

Nightwing learns that Deathstroke is operating in an oil rig off the Scottish coast, and when Batman is distracted, Damian goes to the rig. He finds Deathstroke and Talia in an underwater base with a swarm of Man-Bats and another Lazarus Pit, whose fluid Deathstroke intends to sell. Damian pulls a gun on Deathstroke, who holds one against Talia’s head until Damian drops his gun. Deathstroke fires at him, but Talia is hit instead after she jumps in the path of Deathstroke’s gunfire. As Deathstroke corners Damian, Batman appears and the Man-Bats attack. Batman wards them off with sonar-emitting batarangs, and Deathstroke flees after losing to Batman in a brief fistfight.

Batman heals Talia in Lazarus Pit, while Nightwing and Langstrom reach the oil rig and cure the Man-Bats. Damian defeats Deathstroke, refusing to kill him because he is his father’s son. The elevator from the rig to the underwater base is destroyed when the Man Bats, overwhelmed by the sonar devices, overcrowd the glass elevator shaft, flooding the base. Batman, Talia and Damian escape, but Deathstroke is left behind. Batman believes that Damian should stay with him and remain Robin, while Talia still wishes to recreate the League with Batman, who would rather disband the League, and Damian at her side. She decides to let him care for their son, and leaves with the League of Assassins though she still says she will return for him.

Son of Batman is an excellently animated adventure, credit to Warner Animation who have done a sterling job. The action is constant with some excellent characters making an appearance; Nightwing, Killer Croc, Manbats and a prominent performance from Alfred. Whilst Damian is an impetuous Child. He is skilled and earns Batman’s respect. The story is solid this is a great addition to the DC animated universe.

REVIEW: BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD

CAST
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Carlos Alazraqui (Happy Feet)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

For several years now, the sticky underbelly of Gotham has been reigned over by a disfigured crimelord known only as Black Mask. There’s a new player in town, though…someone who’s seizing hold of Gotham’s drug trade. This masked man — the latest in a long series to have taken the mantle of The Red Hood — institutes his own set of rules. He demands a massive cut of the profits, and anyone caught selling to kids will be gunned down, no questions asked. It’s still a better deal than the competition is offering…enough to throttle Black Mask’s plans to claw his way up to the big leagues as an international arms smuggler. None of this escapes Batman, but strangely, even though the Red Hood has a strangehold on the distribution of drugs in Gotham City, crime as a whole has dropped. It’s as if Red Hood has established himself as the new Dark Knight, but rather than stamping out every trace of crime he comes across, he’s allowing it to exist on his own terms. He has the razor-sharp intellect, startlingly fast reflexes, and impressive arsenal of Batman but without a moral compass to stand in the way. Whoever’s underneath the hood has some connection to that night five years ago…to the murder of Jason Todd, but who…? Is it the Joker, the first man to torment Gotham as the Red Hood? International terrorist Ra’s al Ghul? A nameless flunky who happened to be in the right place at the right time and has only now decided to dethrone Black Mask? Whoever it is, he’s out for blood, and many will die before it’s all over…

Under the Red Hood shouldn’t be shrugged off as a kids’ movie, wholly earning its PG-13 rating. Literally a minute into the film, a teenage boy is savagely beaten with a crowbar. Later, an assassin’s masked head explodes. One thug is wholly engulfed in flames, and another has his eyes gouged out. The Red Hood makes his first entrance by throwing down a duffle bag filled with severed heads. Blood is caked across the ground and walls. The body count is massive. Nothing in the DC animated universe has approached this sort of brutality since Return of the Joker ten full years ago. With its emphasis so intensely oriented around action, the pacing throughout Under the Red Hood screams from the first frame to the last. The movie doesn’t have the same sort of rich emotional core that makes Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker such exceptional stories, no, but its approach to action is second to none. Bolstered by its impressively fluid animation, the fights showcased throughout Under the Red Hood are spectacularly well-choreographed.

Under the Red Hood doesn’t get too distracted by the whodunnit angle. Anyone who’s been reading any of the Batman books over the past few years already knows whose face it is under the mask, and considering the way the movie opens, there’s really only one person it could be. The identity of the current Red Hood is essentially revealed a half-hour in and is definitively confirmed ten minutes later. That’s a wise move, allowing the movie to better focus on developing strengths elsewhere rather than hinging too heavily on a last-minute twist. There’s a lot going on here — a fairly large cast…a story that spans quite a number of years — and the writing’s sharp enough to juggle it all without ever feeling excessively

 

REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

CAST

Christian Bale (The Machinist)
Gary Oldman (Robocop)
Tom Hardy (Inception)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Anne Hathaway (Interstellar)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Morgan Freeman (High Crimes)
Michael Caine (Quills)
Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket)
Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones)
Nestor Carbonell (Ringer)
Juno Temple (Horns)
William Devane (Lois & Clark)
Joey King (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Cillian Murphy (Red Eye)
Desmond Harrington (Wrong Turn)

The story takes place eight years after the events of the second film in the Christopher Nolan Batman film series. The Dent Act, dedicated to the late district attorney Harvey Dent, grants the Gotham City Police Department powers which nearly eradicate organized crime. Police Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) feels increasingly guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes. He writes a resignation speech confessing the truth but decides not to use it.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, broken by the death of Rachel Dawes. Batman, whom Bruce deems no longer necessary, has disappeared. Cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) obtains Bruce’s fingerprints from his home and kidnaps congressman Byron Gilley (Brett Cullen). She hands the fingerprints to Phillip Stryver (Burn Gorman), an assistant to Bruce’s business rival John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn). In return, she asks him to have her criminal record erased. Stryver double-crosses Selina, but she uses the Gilley’s phone to alert the police to their location. Gordon and the police arrive to find the congressman, and then pursue Stryver’s men into the sewers while Selina flees. Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked mercenary, captures Gordon and finds his resignation speech. Gordon escapes and is found by John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a patrol officer. Gordon promotes Blake to detective, with Blake reporting directly to him. Bane attacks the Gotham Stock Exchange, using Bruce’s fingerprints in a transaction that bankrupts Bruce. Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) reveals that Rachel had intended to marry Dent before she died. Alfred then resigns in an attempt to convince Bruce to move on from being Batman.

Wayne Enterprises is unprofitable after Bruce discontinued his fusion reactor project when he learned that the core could be weaponized. Fearing that Daggett, Bane’s employer, would gain access to the reactor, Bruce asks Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to take over his company. Catwoman agrees to take Batman to Bane but instead leads him into Bane’s trap. Bane reveals that he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) mission to destroy Gotham with the League of Shadows remnant. He engages Batman and delivers a crippling blow to his back, before taking him to a foreign, well-like prison where escape is virtually impossible. There, the inmates tell Bruce the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping—the only prisoner to have ever done so. Bruce assumes the child to be Bane.


Bane lures Gotham police underground and traps them there. He kills Mayor Anthony Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) and forces Dr. Leonid Pavel (Alon Abutbul), a Russian nuclear physicist he kidnapped from Uzbekistan six months prior, to convert the reactor core into a nuclear bomb. Bane uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the world. Using Gordon’s stolen speech, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes and releases the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary, initiating anarchy. The wealthy and powerful have their property expropriated, are dragged from their homes, and are given show trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), where all are sentenced to death.

After spending months recovering and re-training, Bruce escapes from the prison. He enlists Selina, Blake, Tate, Gordon, and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to help stop the bomb’s detonation. He hands the Batpod to Selina, tasking her with helping people evacuate and saving herself. She asks him to come along, leaving Gotham to its fate, but he refuses. While the police and Bane’s forces clash, Batman overpowers Bane. He interrogates Bane for the bomb’s trigger, but Tate intervenes and stabs him. She reveals herself to be Talia al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter. Bane is her protector, who aided her escape from the prison. She uses the detonator, but Gordon has successfully approached the bomb and blocks her signal, preventing remote detonation. Talia leaves to find the bomb while Bane prepares to kill Batman, but Catwoman returns on the Badpod and kills Bane. Batman and Catwoman pursues Talia, hoping to bring the bomb back to the reactor where it can be stabilized. Talia’s truck crashes, but she remotely destroys the reactor before dying. With no way to stop the detonation, Batman uses the Bat to haul the bomb over the bay, where it detonates.

In the aftermath, Batman is presumed dead and is honored as a hero. With Bruce Wayne also presumed dead, Wayne Manor becomes an orphanage, and Bruce’s remaining estate is left to Alfred. Fox discovers that Bruce had fixed the Bat’s autopilot, Gordon finds the Bat-Signal refurbished and Alfred sees Bruce and Selina together while visiting Florence. John Blake resigns from the police force and inherits the Batcave.A great end to the Dark Knight trilogy, this along with the first two will always remain three of my favorite films.

REVIEW: BATMAN BEGINS

CAST

Christian Bale (American Psycho)
Michael Caine (Quills)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Katie Holmes (Go)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Cillian Murphy (Inception)
Tom Wilkinson (Cassandra’s Dream)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla)
Mark Boone Junior (Memento)
Linus Roache (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Morgan Freeman (Ted 2)
Colin McFarlane (Doctor Who)
Christine Adams (Pushing Daises)
Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones)

As a child, Bruce Wayne falls down a dry well and is attacked by a swarm of bats, subsequently developing a fear of bats. While watching an opera with his parents, Bruce becomes frightened by performers masquerading as bats and asks to leave. Outside, mugger Joe Chill murders Bruce’s parents in front of him. Orphaned, Bruce is raised by the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth.

Fourteen years later, Chill is freed in exchange for testifying against Gotham City mafia boss Carmine Falcone. Bruce intends to murder Chill in revenge, but one of Falcone’s assassins does so first. Bruce’s childhood friend, assistant district attorney Rachel Dawes, berates him for attempting to undermine the justice system, saying that his father would be ashamed. Bruce confronts Falcone, who tells him that real power comes from being feared. Bruce decides to travel the world, learning new skills and abilities to confront injustice. In Ladakh he meets Henri Ducard, who trains him as a member of the League of Shadows, led by Ra’s al Ghul. After completing his training and purging his fears, Bruce learns that the League intends to destroy Gotham, believing it to be corrupt and beyond saving. Bruce rejects the League’s cause and burns down their temple during his escape. Ra’s is killed by falling debris, while Bruce saves the unconscious Ducard.

Bruce returns to Gotham intent on fighting crime. Inspired by his childhood fear, he takes up the vigilante identity of “the Batman” and sets up a base in the caves beneath Wayne Manor. He takes an interest in his family’s company, Wayne Enterprises, now run by the unscrupulous William Earle. Company archivist Lucius Fox allows Bruce access to prototype defense technologies including a protective bodysuit and a heavily armored car called the Tumbler. To avert suspicion from his vigilante activities, Bruce poses as a shallow playboy.

Batman intercepts a drug shipment, provides Rachel with evidence against Falcone, and enlists honest Police Sergeant James Gordon to arrest him. When Falcone threatens to reveal psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane’s illicit activities if Crane does not declare him mentally unfit for trial, Crane uses a fear-inducing hallucinogen and a scarecrow mask to drive Falcone insane and has him transferred to Arkham Asylum. While investigating “the Scarecrow”, Batman is exposed to the hallucinogen and left incapacitated. He is saved by Alfred and given an antidote developed by Fox. When Rachel accuses Crane of corruption, Crane reveals that he has been pouring his fear-inducing drug into Gotham’s water supply. He doses Rachel with it, but Batman saves her and subdues Crane, who claims to work for Ra’s al Ghul. Batman evades the police to get Rachel to safety, administers the antidote, and gives her a vial of it for Gordon and another for mass production. Ducard reappears at Bruce’s 30th birthday party and reveals himself to be the actual Ra’s al Ghul. Having stolen a powerful microwave emitter from Wayne Enterprises, he plans to vaporize Gotham’s water supply, rendering Crane’s drug airborne and causing mass hysteria that will destroy the city. He sets Wayne Manor on fire and leaves Bruce for dead, but Alfred rescues Bruce.

Ra’s loads the microwave emitter onto Gotham’s monorail system, releasing the drug as the train travels toward the city’s central water source. Batman rescues Rachel from a drugged mob and indirectly reveals his identity to her. He pursues Ra’s onto the monorail and overpowers him just as Gordon uses the Tumbler’s cannons to destroy a section of the track. Batman refuses to kill Ra’s but also chooses not to save him, gliding from the train and leaving Ra’s aboard as it crashes and explodes. Bruce gains Rachel’s respect but loses her love, as she decides she cannot be with him while he is Batman. Bruce buys a controlling stake in the now publicly traded Wayne Enterprises, fires Earle, and replaces him with Fox. Gordon is promoted to Lieutenant of the Gotham City Police Department, shows Batman the Bat-Signal, and mentions a criminal who leaves Joker playing cards at crime scenes. Batman promises to investigate.

This is a superb telling of the origins of the Batman character, full of brooding tension, a very apt musical score and an exciting finale. This film is a testament to how effective it is as an origin story.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: ARROW – THE CLIMB

Image result for ARROW TV LOGO

THE CLIMB

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)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)

GUEST CAST

Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Kelly Hu (X-Men 2)
Matt Nable (Riddick)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Karl Yune (Reel Steel)
Rila Fukushima (The Wolverine)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)

You can draw a lot of parallels between season 1’s Flash mid season finale and Arrow season 3’s. Both served as mid-season finales. Both prominently featured a major villain who had only appeared briefly in the past. There were many similarities, but the overall impact in this episode was stronger. Arrow needed a bigger, bolder villain this season, and it got one in Ra’s al Ghul. Even the opening of “The Climb” paralleled “The Man in the Yellow Suit,” as we were treated to a brief flash-forward of Ollie surmounting a cliff before the episode flashed back 48 hours earlier. This framing device was repeated several times throughout the episode, always serving to heighten the tension and the build-up to the final showdown between the Arrow and the Demon’s Head.
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There was a definite sense of increased momentum this week. The mystery behind Sara Lance’s murder again became the focus, with Ollie and the gang now given a strict 48-hour ultimatum to either turn over her killer or face the League’s wrath. After two months of build-up, we finally learned the killer’s identity. I can’t say I was surprised to learn it was Thea, between the DNA almost matching Ollie’s and the footage of her accompanying Malcolm Merlyn. But that wasn’t really the point. The conflict quickly became more about Ollie trying to understand why Thea could have committed such an act, and choosing how far he would go to defend his last living family member. This became a much more emotionally stirring conflict than a mere whodunit.
I was almost disappointed that Thea’s actions were explained away by the magical brainwashing root. It would be far more interesting if she had fired the arrows of her own free will and was forced to be held accountable for her actions. Though maybe Thea needed that level of sympathy to her actions given how much Ollie gave up for her in the end. In any case, it was cool to see Ollie and Thea briefly battle it out in their apartment. His stunned reaction upon realizing that his sister had become a martial arts whiz was pretty great. This conflict culminated on a great note as Ollie decided that he would rather throw himself to the wolves and be devoured rather than risk turning the League’s wrath on Thea. He definitely played right into Merlyn’s hand, but he didn’t have much choice. Any chance that Merlyn might have softened since his defeat two years ago is clearly gone. Having already manipulated Ollie and wormed his way out of the League’s crosshairs, Merlyn is free to carry out whatever the next stage of his plan might be. You have to wonder if he’ll prove to be the true villain of the season rather than Ra’s.
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Ollie bidding farewell to his friends was easily one of the most emotionally stirring moments of the season. It was pretty clear that he knew he was going to his death and acted accordingly. His goodbye to Felicity was powerful stuff. The confrontation with Ra’s didn’t disappoint either. In a lot of ways, Matt Nable is an odd choice to play the iconic villain. He’s more rugged and scruffy than you’d expect of the character, and even his accent is less refined than what we’ve seen in the past. But Nable does bring charisma and danger to the part. He also has the physicality to pull off a shirtless sword fight with a guy who spends 90% of his free time on a salmon ladder. Nable doesn’t look or sound much like Ra’s, but he manages to be Ra’s all the same. The sword duel was definitely a highlight of the episode. From Ra’s story about his first kill (“I replaced great evil with death.”) to his choice to fight without a blade of his own, it was clear how badly outmatched Ollie was. And even though our hero nearly got the drop on Ra’s at the end, death finally came him, as promised.
Now, obviously the writers aren’t going to kill off the show’s main character halfway into the third season. Ra’s offhand remark about Ollie being the first person in 67 years to challenge him was full with meaning. It all but confirms that Lazarus Pits exist in this universe and that Ra’s uses them. The writers also found time for several subplots in between all the League business. Laurel continued to mourn her sister’s death, with the added complication that her mother briefly returned to town. Laurel’s confession was nonetheless another key emotional moment in an already emotional episode. Arrow never disappoints when it comes to finales (mid-season or otherwise). This episode offered a steady stream of tension and emotional drama as Ollie learned the truth about his sister and chose to confront his own death. Both Ra’s al Ghul and Malcolm Merlyn emerged as clear and present threats to Starling City.