Sunday, January 24, 2016

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Pilot Part 1 - Recap and Review

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In a post-Avengers world, every Hollywood studio is working overtime to churn out their own version of an interconnected movie universe.

Universal Studios is trying to build one based on their collection of movie monsters (Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein), first of which is the 2014 movie: Dracula Untold. Fox tried unsuccessfully to connect their popular X-Men movies with the Fantastic Four universe. The critical and commercial failure of the 2015 movie (Fantastic Four) does not bode well for the studio's plans.

Warner Bros. and DC Comics have now responded in two different ways: A movie franchise collectively titled DC Extended Universe and DC's Legends of Tomorrow on the small screen.

The CW show has an ensemble cast, drawn from both the Arrow and The FlashRay Palmer (Brandon Routh), Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber), Jefferson 'Jax' Jackson (Franz Drameh), Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel). There are supervillains too: Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell).


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Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) is the main baddie here. He is an immortal, who thrives by inciting trouble on a grand scale. Wars are his preferred modus operandi.

Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) is a Time Master who has lost his wife and son to Vandal's activities. He tries to get support from the Council of Time Masters to stop Savage. When his requests are denied, Rip takes matter into his own hands and steals the Waverider (a flying contraption fitted with all necessary tech) to assemble a rag-tag group of individuals.

One by one (and sometimes two at a time), he kidnaps our group of characters. Rip entices them to participate in his campaign by lying that they will become legends in the future. In reality, he recruited individuals who have minimal impact on the timeline.

Except for one reluctant individual (Jefferson 'Jax' Jackson), the rest are happy to join the mission. Dr. Martin Stein takes care of this issue by drugging Jax.

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Rip and the team time travel back to 1975. The plan is to meet Dr. Aldus Boardman (Peter Francis James). Aldus has done extensive research on Vandal and willingly shares his information. He also happens to be the son of Joe and Edith Boardman, the most recent incarnations of Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders.

But trouble is not far behind. Chronos, a temporal bounty hunter has been sent by the Council of Time Masters to stop Rip and retrieve the Waverider. Our heroes work together to stop the villain. They manage to escape and Jax is inspired to become part of the team.

This looks to be the most fun adaptation based on DC Comics. Yes, even more so than Supergirl and The Flash.

The reason is simple: As good as these two shows are, they still suffer from very minor drawbacks. Supergirl has the insufferable Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen. The Flash on the other hand often gets a bit melodramatic for a show featuring a superhero who can run really fast.


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DC's Legends of Tomorrow (from what we have seen so far) seems determined to be a fun ride for fans. The # 1 reason is the presence of  Victor Garber as Dr. Martin Stein. Victor is a blast as the quick-witted and brilliant scientist. He has arguably the best one-liners in the episode and Victor pulls them off with effortless ease.

Victor's presence has been a great value addition to The Flash and the episodes featuring his Dr Stein tend to be my favorites. I had wished often that Dr Martin would be a more regular feature and thankfully, this show seems to have rectified that anomaly.

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Giving good competition to Victor is Franz Drameh as Jefferson Jackson. The interchange between these two are probably the funniest.

Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are the other pair that manage to hold our attention. The scene at the pub where they get into a fight, along with Sara Lance was executed well.


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Falk Hentschel and Ciara Renée are adequate as Hawkman and Hawkgirl respectively. They have the serious characters to play and accordingly do not indulge in much of levity. Caity Lotz is good as Caity Lotz, though she does seem to be packing some attitude as the assassin.

Brandon Routh is a bit bland as Ray Palmer/Atom. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that his turn as the Man of Steel in Superman Returns (2006) did not set the box office on fire (or) capture the public imagination as the studio would have wanted.

However, the one to make the least impact is Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter. Arthur seems to be just going through the motions. His IMDB page informs us that he has played Rory Williams, a companion for Matt Smith's Doctor Who. If this was the basis for casting him, then this is a disastrous one. Arthur seems to be having absolutely zero interest in the role or the show. Hope either the character gets recast (or) Arthur develops some passion for the project. At least, we can wish that there will be more scenes of Rip get slapped around by team members, like we had in this one (thanks to Sara Lance).

There were a couple of Star Wars references: Chronos is referred to as both Darth Vader and Boba Fett at different points in the episode.

Trivia

1. The song “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind & Fire can be heard as Kendra, Carter, Rip and Dr Stein are walking in the University campus to see Dr Boardman.

2. The song “Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain & Tennille is played in the fight scene at the pub.

In the recent past, there has been constant criticism about DC being too dark and serious. Well, here is your answer - a lively and colorful comic book adaptation that wholeheartedly embraces the nature of its source material.

Highly Recommended watch to fans of DC Comics/Comic Book fans.

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Image Source: Berlanti Productions, Bonanza Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, The CW Television Network (The CW)

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13 comments:

  1. I might pick it up when it gets to DVD, but right now I'm overloaded w/comic book adaptations.

    As for Darvill, I can vouch for the fact his Rory Williams (who 'died' on screen at least seven times according to my count) was a bit of a milquetoast on the show. Granted, that's what the character was: a man so besotted by his girlfriend/wife (The Doctor's Companion, Amy Pond) that he was constantly referred to as "Mr. Pond" by everyone (even the Doctor and Amy) and the couple referred to as "The Ponds" despite his last name being Williams.

    It was so bad that a major plot point involved their daughter, Melody Pond (not Melody Williams, the bossy Amy declaring she would take HER surname, not his), who would eventually grow up to be called River Song (the connection between "River" and "Pond" as well as "Melody" and "Song" being the key to understand this).

    Even now most NuWho fans refer to them as "The Ponds". For his part, neither Rory or Darvill ever openly objected to any of this. Take that for what you will.

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    1. There definitely has been an overdose of comic book based movies and TV shows.

      I know that you are a big fan of Gotham. What other shows are you watching....

      I am not familiar with the Dr Who Universe and have not seen even a single episode so far. But I have read that Moffat's take on the series has been a very divisive one.

      B2B.

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    2. I've started w/Supergirl, which I do like, and have Season One of The Flash waiting patiently (I'm told it's the anti-Gotham, rather bright versus Gotham's bleakness).

      As for Moffat, I fall on the "he's ruined the show beyond repair" school of thought. Where once I looked forward to a new episode, now I just shake my head and pray it's cancelled.

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    3. Yes, The Flash and also Supergirl are colorful and fun.

      Reading your comments about Moffat's handling of Dr Who, I can get an idea of why you hate BBC Sherlock so much... :)

      B2B.

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    4. As we say here in the States, "true dat".

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  2. All you had to say was Victor Garber to snag my interest. I'm not that much into DC since Marvel came to town, but I might still give the show a chance. If I can make time, I might have to wait until, or if, it's released on DVD.

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    1. Thanks Carissa for stopping by.

      If you like Victor Garber, you will love this show. He is in top form here. And you might just end up liking the DC Universe :)

      B2B.

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  3. I loved LoT a heck of a lot and it looks like it could be the most enjoyable yet. I actually liked Darvill - though he is Doctor Who in all but name, even down to how he dresses (Google David Tennant's version). Heat Wave and Cold are brill (HW is already the comedy relief) and Garber is as ace as usual. I'm also looking forward to history on a budget - a few flares and perms for 1975, what'll we get for 1950? 1800? 200BC? As for Dr Who, you should really give it a try - it's inventive, fun and even occasionally moving. You'd like it.

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    1. So glad to know that you enjoyed this episode as much as I did.

      Garber's Dr Stein, Heat Wave and Cold are the most fun guys around. I just learnt that Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell played brothers on Prison Break. That explains why they are having so much chemistry together. Have you seen that show...

      I might try out Dr Who some time. Heard a lot of good things about it. Including the fact that one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes actors, Peter Cushing played the part once.

      B2B.

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    2. My own view: watch some of the "Classic" DW first (1963-1989). As for the Cushing Doctor Who movies, note they aren't considered Canon by DW fans, more film versions of the television stories. I enjoyed them but they are at times a bit camp.

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    3. I'm a huge fan of the 'classic' version (grew up on it and own every ep!), but to new eyes, they'll seem a bit cheap and children's TV (it was done on a shoestring budget). The reboot from 2005 does not require you to have seen the earlier version and has great production values consummate with US shows of the period. Download the first two series (2005/6) and if you like them (there's only 13 in a run), you'll probably like what comes after - and before. Of the new Doctors, David Tennant is the most fun and probably the most iconic.

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    4. I agree that Classic DW to new eyes would look a bit on the cheap side (though The Aztecs has pretty good sets & costumes, not to mention a fantastic story & performances).

      I'd argue though that if you can get past the budgetary limitations, the actual stories make up for the admittedly weak VFX (Inferno comes quickly to mind). Also, Spearhead From Space is downright cinematic, which goes to show what could be done when the budget matched the story's ambition and intelligence.

      If you can forgive the sometimes obviously low-budgets (and sometimes that can be incredibly hard), you'll see some of the stories themselves hold up very well. It's worth taking a look at both Classic and Revived DW, for when DW is good, it's very, very good.

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    5. Thanks Rick and GK for the suggestions.

      B2B.

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