Saturday, October 25, 2014

Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode "Non Est Asylum" - Recap and Review

NBC Constantine Matt Ryan 2014 TV Show poster wallpaper image picture screensaver DC Comics Hellblazer character

As the pilot episode begins, John Constantine (Matt Ryan) has been institutionalized in Northern England. He receives shock treatment and attends counseling sessions with Dr Roger Huntoon (Miles Anderson).

Constantine is bored out of his wits with the pedestrian life at the institution. He does not have to wait for long. During one of the group therapy sessions, he notices a lot of beetles moving in a particular direction and follows them.

At the end of the trail, he finds a possessed girl and proceeds to exorcise her. She was writing a message on the wall, when she was interrupted. The message reads: “LIV DIE”.

Lucy Griffiths as Liv Aberdine with Matt Ryan as John Constantine in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

Liv Aberdine (Lucy Griffiths) is a young woman, who is the person referred to in the message. After a long day at her work, she is about to leave in her car when she is attacked. The ground near her opens up and couple of cars go under.

John arrives in time to save Liv. But he is not alone. Constantine's guardian angel, Manny (Harold Perrineau) is looking out for him. John gives a suspicious Liv his business card and advises her to look him up, should she find herself in mortal danger.

The stranded Liv finds help from her friend Talia (Julia Lehman), who works nearby. Talia lives in the apartment opposite Liv's. As Liv enters her apartment, she notices a stranger lurking in the shadows.

Harold Perrineau as Manny Constantine guardian angel  in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

An unseen assailant tries to enter Liv's apartment and is foiled by the inscription on her door. The unlucky Talia becomes the victim. 

Convinced about the seriousness of the danger surrounding her, she agrees to take Constantine's assistance. John takes her to a safehouse, that belongs to Liv's father, Jasper Winters. John had promised Jasper that he will keep Liv safe.

Soon, Liv starts to see dead people, including her dead grandmother. John explains to her that she has inherited these powers from her father.

Charles Halford as Chas Constantine closest friend in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum 

John's closest friend Chas (Charles Halford) is along for the ride. He is the one who inscribed the spell on Liv's door.

Constantine discovers that Furcifer is the demon trying to kill Liv. He decides to take the fight right back by baiting Liv. He also takes the help of a hacker/computer expert Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies).

In the final showdown, Furcifer possesses a security guard (Victor McCay). Constantine is about to destroy the demon after entrapping it, when it tries to trick him by using his guilt over his failure to save a young girl, Astra (Bailey Tippen).

Victor McCay as the security guard possessed by Furcifer demon in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

Liv uses her new found powers and informs Constantine about Furcifer's tactic. Constantine proceeds to destroy the demon.

The NBC show got off to a great start with the first episode. The production values are surprisingly good for a pilot. Credit goes to the director Neil Marshall and the script by David S. Goyer and Daniel Cerone.

I have enjoyed the werewolf horror movie Dog Soldiers by Neil. He continues his good run with this episode. Goyer redeems himself after the unmitigated disaster of Man of Steel.

Matt Ryan as John Constantine with sunglasses in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

Constantine is an antihero and not a regular run-of-the-mill superhero per se. He is a self proclaimed Exorcist, Demonologist and Master of the Dark Arts. He also has a wicked sense of humor and an attitude to boot. 

The casting of Matt Ryan as the titular character is one of the best casting choices among the TV shows I have seen in the recent past. He is spot on as the smooth talking con man/exorcist. Matt's Constantine has a great sense of humor and this makes a world of difference to a viewer like me.

It also helps that Matt has the acting chops and charisma to make for a genuinely appealing lead. Despite the fact that Constantine suffers from typical leading man fallacies such as angst over the past etc., Matt made an impression. I find his performance far more enjoyable compared to the leads in other DC comics based shows like Arrow, Gotham and The Flash. 

Helmet of Fate Dr Fate DC Comics reference in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

Another enjoyable aspect was the cameo by the Helmet of Fate. As fans of DC Comics might be aware, it is used by Dr Fate.

I am not familiar with the history or background of the character of John Constantine, except the 2005 Hollywood movie starring Keanu Reeves. The movie reportedly features significant changes to the character.

The NBC show returns the character to his roots as a blonde British at home in the UK.

After a disappointing vampire series and the ongoing American Horror Story that started well but is slowly losing steam, this might be just what the doctor ordered for horror buffs. Let us hope they will keep up the quality for the rest of the season.

Talia possessed by a demon in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

The music, cinematography and the makeup greatly enhance the horror aspects of the show. Kudos to the cast and crew for delivering a great horror show. Talia's possession reminded me of the classic Sam Raimi movie Evil Dead.

A recommended watch for fans of Constantine/DC Comics/Horror genre.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron" - Teaser Trailer

Avengers Age of Ultron movie sequel poster image wallpaper picture robert downey jr iron man sequel marvel cinematic universe

The trailer for the upcoming movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man is out. The ensemble cast includes Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Mark Ruffalo as  Bruce Banner/The Hulk and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. 

Joining the regular cast are James Spader (as the voice of Ultron), Elizabeth Olsen (as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver).

Andy Serkis is also seen in the trailer, but it is not clear what character he is playing in the movie. 

As fans of Marvel Comics will know, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are the children of Magneto. This is interesting as Quicksilver was recently portrayed by Evan Peters in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I am curious to see if Aaron proves to be a better impersonator than Peters, whose turn I enjoyed very much.

It seems that Tony Stark has created a robot that goes against his maker and it is upto The Avengers to stop it. We can also see The Hulkbuster in action. Thor also manhandles Stark in the trailer.

I have read on the web that Iron Man will be the main antagonist in Captain America 3, which is reportedly based on the popular Marvel Comics storyline, “Civil War”. In that story, Captain America and Iron Man find themselves on the opposite sides of a Superhero Registration Act. The trailer strongly indicates to these turn of events.

Tony Stark also speaks the line: This is the end... The end of the path I started...” and Natasha replies: Nothing lasts forever”.

Robert Downey Jr. has been earning hefty paychecks and it is not much of a stretch to imagine that Marvel Studios would like to cut down on their expenses. This probably explains why Chris Evans is featured more prominently than Robert Downey Jr. in the trailer. 

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