REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 4

 

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Turning)
Neil Sandilands (The 100)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kim Engelbrecht (Dominion)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Britne Oldford (God Friended Me)
Jessica Camacho (Watchmen: The Series)
Dominic Burgess (The Good Place)
Richard Brooks (The Crow: City of Angels)
Sugar Lyn Beard (Sausage Party)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Chelsea Kurtz (Scandal)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Franz Drameh (See)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Kendrick Sampson (Relationship Status)
Mark Valley (Human Target)
Corinne Bohrer (Tellers)
Devon Graye (13 Sins)
Bill Goldberg (Santa’s Slay)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (Cam)
Derek Mears (Swamp Thing)
Kendall Cross (Another Life)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Bethany Brown (The 100)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
Jason Mewes (Mallrats)
Arturo Del Puerto (For All Mankind)
Katie Cassidy (Taken)
Ryan Alexander McDonald (Izombie)
Mark Sweatman (Uncut)
David Ramsey (Dexter)

Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)For the last three years, “The Flash” has proven itself to be one of the very best  superhero shows on television. With its incredible mix of compelling characters, intricate storytelling, and tense thrills, it has continued to deliver a wonderful blend of drama, comedy, action, and even a little romance. Heading into season four, the show has shown no signs of slowing down, and coming off of a particularly excellent season, expectations remain quite high. Now, at last, it’s time to see if “The Flash” continues its “streak” of greatness, or if the show has at last run its course.Neil Sandilands in The Flash (2014)At the end of season three, Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) found himself with no other choice but to go into the speed force itself to save Central City. This left the rest of Team Flash, including Iris (Candice Patton), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), to pick up the slack in regards to fighting crime in the city. However, they find that not only do they miss Barry, but that their team just isn’t the same without him, which eventually leads Cisco to devise a way to free him from the speed force.Grant Gustin and Hartley Sawyer in The Flash (2014)Their happiness at being reunited is short-lived however, as they quickly discover that the rift they opened to free Barry also unleashed a massive amount of dark matter that changed a dozen civilians into meta-humans with extraordinary powers. Meanwhile, a new brilliant foe by the name of Clifford DeVoe, aka “The Thinker” (Neil Sandilands) has emerged with a mysterious plan that involves collecting the powers of these recently-created meta-humans. It’s up to Team Flash (including new team member Ralph Dibney/”The Elongated Man” (Hartley Sawyer)) to discover how all of it is connected, and what DeVoe’s ultimate goal is before he can carry it out, all while trying to protect the people of Central City from the continuous onslaught of criminals.One of the most impressive things about “The Flash,” aside from everything mentioned so far, has been the remarkable ability of the writing staff to fill its lengthy 23-episode season. In an age where TV shows are moving away from the older model of having epic-sized seasons of 20+ episodes and moving towards more streamlined lengths of about 10-13 episodes, it’s quite something to see a show continue to utilize so many AND be able to actually fill it with quality material. Sure, some episodes aren’t an actual part of the season’s main arc, but even when they don’t further the main plot, the writers usually still manage to deliver consistently fun and exciting episodes.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It’s rather satisfying to say that season four is no exception. Once again, we have a compelling storyline that sees the entire city put in danger, forcing our group of heroes to use every means at their disposal to take down “The Thinker.” That actually brings us right to the main reason this season stands out as being particularly special: for once, the villain is not an evil speedster, but rather a man with an insanely-advanced intellect. In the first three seasons, we saw our heroes go up again The Reverse Flash, Zoom, and Savitar, but now, in a refreshing change of pace, we have a villain who uses sheer brainpower (and eventually several neat powers) to challenge Flash and co., literally forcing them to have to try and out-think their foe.Kim Engelbrecht and Neil Sandilands in The Flash (2014)In the same vein, the showrunners have also made the wise decision to get rid of certain characters that hadn’t been working particularly well. Most notably, Wally West leaves early on, and actually joins the Legends on “Legends of Tomorrow.” His character never really found a satisfying place on “The Flash,” so it made perfect sense to put him with other b-characters on one of the weaker superhero shows on the network. He still pops in every now and again for important events, but for the most part, he’s been removed. It’s also worth noting that this season doesn’t feature an appearance from the silliest villain in the show’s repertoire, Gorilla Grodd. Perhaps after the misguided arc in the previous season, they’ve finally learned that the character was just a bad idea.Grant Gustin and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)As far as complaints about this latest season, I suppose the somewhat simple ending was a little bit of a drawback. After all of the buildup, it seemed a little too easy to get to the end result, but still, it worked well enough for the show’s purposes. That being said, it hardly seems worth mentioning with everything that went so well this season. Once again, we had 23 episodes that flew by at top speed, delivering everything that fans have come to expect from this fast-paced and remarkably entertaining show. As usual, we’re left with another cliffhanger that shows that yet another wild season will probably be in store for Team Flash. What kind of villain will we get this time? Another speedster? Another brainiac of sorts? Or will it be something entirely new and surprising? Just like everyone else, I can’t wait to find out.

 

REVIEW: 50/50

CAST

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)
Anna Kendrick (Into The Woods)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation)
Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family)
Serge Houde (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Andrew Airlie (FInal Destination 2)
Matt Frewer (Lawnmower Man 2)
Philip Baker Hall (Bruce Almighty)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
P. Lynn Johnson (Blade The Series)
Laura Bertram (Andromeda)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
Lauren Miller Rogen (For a Good Time Call…)
Andrea Brooks (Supergirl)
Sugar Lyn Beard (The Flash)

Adam Lerner is a 27-year-old public radio journalist in Seattle with an artist girlfriend Rachael, of whom his best friend and co-worker Kyle disapproves; where Kyle is brash and outspoken, Adam is more introverted and mild-mannered. After experiencing harsh pains in his back, Adam learns from his doctor that he has schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma (a malignant tumor) in his spine, and must undergo chemotherapy. He sees on the Internet that his chances of survival are fifty-fifty. After Adam reveals his diagnosis, his overbearing mother, Diane, who already cares for her husband Richard suffering from Alzheimer’s, wants to move in and care for him. Adam rejects this offer, as Rachael has promised to be the one to take care of him.Seth Rogen in 50/50 (2011)Rachael, however, is “uncomfortable” going into the hospital during Adam’s chemo treatments and is often late to pick him up, as Adam doesn’t drive; she also gets him a retired racing greyhound named Skeletor as a companion animal. Throughout Adam’s struggle, Kyle attempts to keep Adam’s spirits high, which include helping Adam shave his head prior to chemotherapy and openly using Adam’s illness to pick up women. While on a date with one such woman, however, Kyle sees Rachael at an art gallery, kissing another man, and forces her to come clean to Adam; this proves to be the final straw in their already strained relationship, and Adam breaks up with her for good. Now single, he eventually started to follow Kyle’s lead, and the two use his illness to successfully pick up two women at a bar.Meanwhile, Adam skeptically begins going to a young and inexperienced therapist, Katherine McKay (Kendrick), a PhD candidate doing the clinical aspect of her thesis at the hospital. Although their relationship and sessions have a rocky start, he slowly begins to open up to her about his disease and how it is affecting him. After she gives him a lift home in her car after one of his chemo sessions, the two develop a rapport both in and outside of their sessions, which begins to blur the lines of both their doctor-patient relationship and connection as friends. She helps Adam understand his mother’s situation as well, that even though he is the cancer patient the loved ones feel just as much stress watching someone they care about fight the disease, which helps Adam make steps in repairing the rift between him and his mother. During chemo treatments, Adam also befriends Alan (Hall) and Mitch (Frewer), two older cancer patients who are also undergoing chemotherapy. The two offers Adam advice and smokes marijuana with him.Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendrick in 50/50 (2011)After Mitch suddenly dies, Adam’s fears of his own potential death and unknown future become more evident. Subsequently, he is informed that his treatment is not working and that he needs to undertake a risky surgery as a last resort. The night before his surgery, Adam has an argument with Kyle and demands to drive Kyle’s car because Kyle is drunk—even though Adam does not have a driver’s license. After nearly causing an accident, Adam breaks down and criticizes Kyle for seemingly not taking his illness seriously and using it for his own ends. Adam calls Katherine and tells her that he wishes he had a girlfriend like her, but also says he is tired and just wants it to be over. That night, Adam stays at Kyle’s and while in the bathroom washing his hands, he finds a book entitled ‘Facing Cancer Together’ from their first trip to a bookstore where Kyle picked up the shop clerk—it is filled with notes, highlighted paragraphs and turned-down pages, proving to Adam that Kyle does sincerely care about Adam’s struggle and has been helping him the best way he knows how – by simply not treating Adam any differently – the entire duration of his illness.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in 50/50 (2011)The next day when Kyle drops Adam off at the hospital, Adam embraces Kyle for being a good friend and apologizes for what he said the previous night. After Adam says what could be his final farewells to his family, he undergoes his surgery. During the wait, Katherine goes to the waiting room where she inadvertently meets Adam’s family and Kyle. After the surgery, Kyle, Diane, and Katherine are told by the doctor that although the bone degradation was worse than they had thought, the tumor was removed successfully, and that Adam would recover. Some time later, Adam is getting ready for a date with Katherine, while Kyle encourages him and cleans the incision on Adam’s back from the surgery. The doorbell rings and Adam lets Katherine inside. After Kyle leaves, Katherine asks, “Now what?,” and Adam simply smiles.This was a very moving and touching film that dealt with an awful subject in a very real and different way. I thoroughly enjoyed this and the humour lifted the intensity.