Saturday, April 1, 2017

Supergirl Season 2 Episode 17 "Distant Sun" - Recap and Review

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This review contains spoilers. Readers who are yet to see the episode are recommended to skip this post.

Supergirl/Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) and Mon-El (Chris Wood) are still together much against the wishes of his parents: Lar Gand (Kevin Sorbo) and Rhea (Teri Hatcher). Supergirl runs into an alien destroying National City and subdues him.

Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) then informs her that he is one of the bounty hunters out to get her for a princely sum has been offered to anyone who takes her out. Mon-El suspects his parents as the ones who ordered the hit. They deny the accusation.

J'onn J'onzz (David Harewood) and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) request Supergirl to lay low till they figure out who is after her life.


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A secondary plot involves Alex running into Emily (Hayley Sales), an ex-girlfriend of Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). Maggie tells Alex that she and Emily had a bad break-up. Alex is shocked to learn from Emily that it was Maggie who was cheating on her during their relationship.

The next bounty hunter is an expert in mind control and he uses Mon-El to attack Kara. Kara is hesitant to attack Mon-El who is unable to resist the alien's control over him. Finally Winn brings the fight to an end by using a stapler.

This bounty hunter refuses to name his employer(s). Martian Manhunter uses his powers of telepathy and forces the failed assassin to reveal that it was Mon-El's mother, Rhea who ordered the hit.

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Supergirl and Mon-El meet Rhea to sort out their differences. Rhea is hell bent on destroying Supergirl and wounds her using a Kryptonite weapon. Mon-El agrees to leave Earth with his parents in order to protect Kara's life.

But Kara decides to rescue Mon-El from his parents. J'onn J'onzz is initially hesitant to this idea as he is under orders from the President Olivia Marsdin (Lynda Carter). Olivia is actually an Durlan alien masquerading as a human being.

J'onn finally relents to help Supergirl. Seeing his son in love with Kara, Lar lets him stay with her on Earth. But this proves to be a fatal mistake as Rhea murders him shortly thereafter. She promises that she is not done with our planet yet.


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Acting wise, Teri Hatcher was good as the determined lady out to achieve her goals at any cost. She was having fun playing the antagonist and the episode benefited a lot. Kevin Sorbo was just adequate looking either sad or lost for the most part.

Melissa Benoist has been giving a distinct impression of being disinterested in her titular role. Chris Wood is wooden as Kara's love interest. The two have nearly no chemistry together. Thankfully, Chyler Leigh and David Harewood are professionals and save the show again and again.

Most of the humor comes from Jeremy Jordan's Winn Schott. He manages to bring two pop culture references. First was the Star Wars reference through the Stormtrooper comment from Mon-El. The other was the reference to Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. The way Winn fooled the mind-controlling alien into submission by using stapler was a nod to Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) using the same instrument to force Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) to listen to his plans for Gotham.

My one complaint would be that Martian Manhunter continues to be de-powered significantly just to let Supergirl save the day every time. I am all for female superheroes ruling the roost and I think it can be done without making Manhunter weaker in comparison.

Recommended watch to fans of DC Comics.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Trailer - Review/Reaction

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The second trailer for the first solo MCU Spidey movie is here.

Directed by Jon Watts, the movie features Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Michael Keaton as  Adrian Toomes/The Vulture and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan.

Check out the trailer below:


This looks like the first dud to come out of the Marvel assembly line. The only redeeming feature is Robert Downey Jr. No wonder the studio has marketed his presence so much.

I was not a fan of the Andrew Garfield version but did like the Tobey Maguire movies from Sam Raimi. Despite being a bit old to play Peter Parker, Maguire successfully played the webslinger in two great movies and one OK movie.




Tom Holland is the latest actor to portray the character. And I am not sure about his performance. I have not see Captain America: Civil War in its entirety, but have seen the airport fight scene in which Spider-man makes his debut in the MCU Universe.

While that fight scene was superbly orchestrated and Spider-man was definitely a highlight (the other being Black Panther), it was just Tom Holland's voice-work that was in the scene. This trailer is the first time I have seen him as Peter Parker and the performance was just serviceable.

The reason we root for Iron Man/Spider-Man/Hulk is because we are invested in the particular actor's performance as Tony Stark/Peter Parker/Bruce Banner. And in this aspect Tom Holland seems to be more in the Ben Affleck/Henry Cavill/Andrew Garfield mold rather than being as memorable as RDJ/Tobey Maguire/Ed Norton.

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Speaking of RDJ, he is as good as ever as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Looks like age is catching up with him or may be it is deliberately pronounced to showcase Tony as an elder mentor to the young Parker.

Marisa returns as Aunt May. It is not clear if the Daily Bugle will be part of the movie. Perhaps, Parker would join the company at the end of the movie or in a mid-credits scene. If that does happen, it will be interesting to see who gets to play J Jonah Jameson. J K Simmons played the role with aplomb.

Speaking of Simmons, he has jumped ship and is playing Commissioner Gordon in Justice League. As if to counter that, one-time Batman and recent Birdman, Michael Keaton is playing the bad guy in this movie. But even he does not leave much of an impression.



Marvel has not delivered a dud so far. This movie may not bomb but does not look like it will get the critical acclaim that people lavished on The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Justice League (2017) Trailer - Review/Reaction

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The first trailer for the long awaited movie has finally been released.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Man of SteelBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the movie stars Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as  Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/ The Flash and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg.

Newcomers include Amber Heard as Mera, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Kiersey Clemons as Iris West.

Check out the trailer below:



From what I have seen in the trailer, I am guessing that this movie is based on story Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. That story features an invasion of earth by Darkseid and the heroes forming a team to stop him.

The DC animated movie Justice League: War is itself an adaptation the same story. I am quite sure that this live action movie will not measure up to the animated version.

The trailer is not as exciting as the trailer for BvS: Dawn of Justice was. Considering the quality of BvS, this does not bode well for the movie. The movie seems to suffer from the same shortcomings as the previous two Snyder movies: weak character development, weak dialogues and the most damning of all - special effects that are not worthy for a video game.




Even video games have better detailed locations than this movie does. Like BvS, this one too has been shot extensively in the studio against green screens. Instead of filling the background with details, the lazy director and his crew have just opted for darkened visuals to hide the fact that they have zero imagination.

Considering that this is a superhero movie, at least the special effects must be good if not excellent.

Even the great J K Simmons looks bored. He was on fire as J Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi Spiderman movies. Here he just looks lost. I think this has to do with the general lack of vision and direction about the DC Films at Warner Bros. The standalone Flash movie lost not one but two directors and is now headed for a complete script rewrite.

The Batman standalone movie is in a slightly better situation: after Ben Affleck quit as director, the studio managed to hire Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). The movie is also undergoing a complete script rewrite after the previous script credited to Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns was discarded.

If the rumors are to be believed, Affleck completely wants out of the role. It is understandable that his retirement from the role will be officially announced after this Justice League movie will be released. Given this state of affairs, it is obvious as to why he too looks bored in the trailer.

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The rest of the cast do their best with the weak lines. But none of the so-called humor works. The actors just strike action figure poses and have minimal dialogues. Further it does not help that some of the footage are reused from the character spots the studio has been releasing for the past couple of days. I think the best shots in the movie are in this trailer.

But not all hope is lost for DC Films. In addition to hiring Matt Reeves, the studio is reportedly in talks with Mathew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) to direct the sequel to Man of Steel. That does raise my hopes. Point of interest - Vaughn's Kick-Ass had a Batman knockoff character in the form of Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage in one of his better performances in the recent past).

Clearly, Warner Bros have acknowledged the negative feedback about Snyder's “vision”. If only they had not hired him in the first place....



Coming back to this movie, I am predicting that it will earn around the same amount of money as BvS: Dawn of Justice did. Just as that movie had the novelty factor of the two heroes appearing first time onscreen, this one too has the famed DC team coming to life. Once the opening weekend is over and the hardcore fans are done with the movie, the movie should drop like a rock. Yes, pretty much the same trajectory as what BvS took before falling well short of the coveted 1 Billion USD benchmark.

The critics will no doubt be tough on the movie and I expect the Rotten tomatoes rating to fall below 30%. The hardcore DC fans will take up arms and demand the site to be closed. They will be interested to know that Warner Bros. owns the Rotten Tomatoes site.

Ben Affleck's Batman says at one point in the trailer: “My turn. To see the same line delivered by an actor invested in his character, check out this scene from V for Vendetta:



Unless Zack Snyder has improved his sensibilities and directorial skills dramatically, I would expect this movie to be another missed opportunity.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wonder Woman (2017) Official Origin Trailer - Review/Reaction

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The origin trailer for the upcoming DC Film has been released.

Directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster), the movie stars Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Robin Wright as General Antiope, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, and Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff.

After not so interesting trailers that preceded this, Warner Bros. and Patty Jenkins finally managed to put together a decent sell. After all, this movie is supposed to rescue the DC Films from oblivion after the disappointing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

Check out the trailer:



The trailer shows a young Diana taking lessons in warfare to become the best among the Amazonians. Then comes Man and with him comes the problems of the big bad world. Diana takes a trip with Steve through Guy Ritchie's steampunk London followed by a nod to Richard Donner's 1978 Superman.

Like any self respecting superhero in the 20th century, Wonder Woman fights Nazis and brings peace to the world.

The action scenes are way better than what we have seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. There is far less graphics and more of actual people doing the fighting. Still we have to see the movie if this is the case for the entire movie or if this is just another promising trailer that sets us up for (another) disappointment eventually.

Chris Pine has the best lines in the trailer and delivers them very well. Gal Gadot is good at action but seems a bit lost in dialogue delivery, emoting and voice modulation. Plus there are only so times we can see an origin story.

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This looks to be at least as good as Man of Steel if not better than it. This itself is a big achievement considering the dismal quality of BvS and Suicide Squad. Warner Bros. studio executives are clearly only interested in making money from these movies and they do not care about these characters at all. Which is why Ben Affleck quit as the director of the solo Batman movie and the Flash movie lost two directors and is currently undergoing a complete rewrite.

But the most disturbing thing about this movie is that Zack Snyder claims writing credits.. Let that fact sink in. The guy who is clearly anti-feminist and has already delivered two DC duds so far has contributed to this movie.

Irrespective of the other factors, if the movie has a single action sequence that is at least half as much fun as the airport sequence in Captain America: Civil War, I would consider that a major win for DC Films.



The answer lies a couple of months away.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004) - Canonical References Part I



The Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking  remains one of the least seen and unsurprisingly one of the most underappreciated gems in the history of Sherlock Holmes adaptations. I was fortunate to have come across the movie and found it to be an excellent take on the legendary detective.

One of the main strengths of the movie is the surprising number of references to Arthur Conan Doyle's originals. Here is the list:

1. While witnessing the autopsy of the latest victim at the mortuary, Dr John Watson (Ian Hart) suggests that the ligature around the girl's neck be cut to leave the knot intact. Dr Watson notes: “It is an old trick of Holmes. There is a world of information in a knot” -

In the beginning of the short story The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, Holmes states about the knot: “The importance lies in the fact that the knot is left intact, and that this knot is of a peculiar character”. Later, Holmes explains: The string was of the quality which is used by sail-makers aboard ship, and at once a whiff of the sea was perceptible in our investigation. When I observed that the knot was one which is popular with sailors, that the parcel had been posted at a port,  and that the male ear was pierced for an earring which is so much more common among sailors than landsmen, I was quite certain that all the actors in the tragedy were to be found among our seafaring classes.

2. When Sherlock Holmes (Rupert Everett) deduces that Dr Watson is following him, Dr Watson wonders as to how Holmes figured that out since he is not smoking distinctive tobacco -

Reference to Holmes' expert knowledge of tobacco and cigar ashes. Holmes remarks in The Boscombe Valley MysteryI found the ash of a cigar, which my special knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pronounce as an Indian cigar. I have, as you know, devoted some attention to this, and written a little monograph on the ashes of 140 different varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco. 

3. Dr Watson further complains that he is not wearing odored cologne -

Reference to Holmes' expertise on scents and perfumes. Holmes explains in The Hound of the BaskervillesThere are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition.



4. Holmes explains to Dr Watson: You reek of the slaughterhouse.” -

Holmes himself says in The Adventure of the Blanched SoldierI have, as my friend Watson may have remarked, an abnormally acute set of senses, and a faint but incisive scent was apparent. It seemed to center on the hall-table.

5. Holmes also states the same thing in French: Odeur de morgue -

Reference to the French ancestry of Holmes. Holmes states in The Adventure of the Greek InterpreterBut, none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. 

6. Holmes tells Watson: “Life away from the Baker Street seems to suit you Watson. I see you have put on seven and a half pounds since last we met” -

When Dr Watson visits Sherlock Holmes at 221 B in A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes remarks: “Wedlock suits you... I think, Watson, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you”.

7. At 221 B, Mrs Hudson (Anne Carroll) hands over the mail to Holmes who carelessly discards most of them before proceeding to use a knife to affix one of them on the mantelpiece –

Dr Watson writes about Holmes in The Adventure of The Musgrave RitualBut with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs.

8. Sherlock angrily asks Mrs Hudson if she has been tidying up and she replies: Hardly” -

In The Adventure of the Dying DetectiveDr John Watson writes about Mrs Hudson: Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-suffering woman...her remarkable lodger showed an eccentricity and irregularity in his life which must have sorely tried her patience. His incredible untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours, his occasional revolver practice within doors, his weird and often malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him made him the very worst tenant in London.... The landlady stood in the deepest awe of him and never dared to interfere with him, however outrageous his proceedings might seem.”


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9. Mrs Hudson asks Holmes as to what time he will dine. To which he replies: 7.30... Day after tomorrow. Mrs Hudson is visibly upset with this response. Later she complains about this to Dr Watson when he comes to 221 B -

In the Canon, Mrs Hudson has often expressed her concern to Dr Watson about Sherlock's health.

In The Sign of the Four, she tells Dr Watson: “I am afraid for his health?” and explains that she can hear Holmes talking to himself and refusing to take cooling medicine as per her suggestion.

In The Adventure of the Dying Detective, Mrs Hudson rushes to Dr Watson and implores him to come to Sherlock's aid immediately: “He's dying, Dr. Watson... For three days he has been sinking, and I doubt if he will last the day... This morning when I saw his bones sticking out of his face and his great bright eyes looking at me I could stand no more of it....I wouldn't waste an hour in coming to him, sir, or you may not see him alive.”

10. Holmes hears Dr Watson approaching him at the mortuary and asks if he is so predictable that Watson could find him twice on the same day. Dr Watson replies: Perhaps at long last, I have learned to apply your methods - 

In The Sign of the Four, Holmes impatiently tells Watson: “My dear Watson, try a little analysis yourself... You know my methods. Apply them, and it will be instructive to compare results.”

In The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Holmes asks Watson to make deductions about the as-yet-unidentified owner of the hat: “Here is my lens. You know my methods. What can you gather yourself as to the individuality of the man who has worn this article?” 


11. Dr Watson tells Holmes after seeing the letters lying all around his room: You always were one of the most untidy men, but really Holmes..” -

Dr Watson writes about Holmes in The Adventure of The Musgrave RitualAn anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction.”

12. Mrs Hudson informs Holmes and Watson that the Duke of Norborough is here. Dr Watson says: “Perhaps I should go Holmes”. Holmes restrains him saying: No, Not a bit. Stay where you. Come on old chap, it will be just like old times. -

In A Scandal in Bohemia, at the sound of the client's bougham stopping outside 221 B, Dr Watson offers to leave:  “I think that I had better go, Holmes.” To which Holmes replies: “Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity to miss it.”

13. After the Duke appears, Holmes states: Good Day, Your Grace. Pray take a seat.” After the prospective client does not respond, Holmes introduces Dr WatsonThis is my friend and colleague, Dr Watson -

This scene is taken word for word from The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, when Lord St. Simon arrives at 221 B: “Good-day, Lord St. Simon,” said Holmes, rising and bowing. “Pray take the basket-chair. This is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson. Draw up a little to the fire, and we will talk this matter over.”

14. The Duke explains: “Lord Blakemore tells me I may place implicit reliance upon your judgment and discretion. I have determined therefore to consult you in reference to a very painful event which has occurred. -

This line is almost taken verbatim from The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, in which Lord St. Simon writes to Holmes: “Lord Backwater tells me that I may place implicit reliance upon your judgment and discretion. I have determined, therefore, to call upon you and to consult you in reference to the very painful event which has occurred in connection with my wedding.”


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15. The Duke asks Holmes to find his daughter's killer and offers to pay handsomely for his services. Holmes replies: “My professional charges are upon a fixed scale, Your Grace. I do not vary them unless I remit them altogether” -

In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Neil Gibson (the Gold King) boasts to Holmes: “Let me say right here, Mr. Holmes... that money is nothing to me in this case. You can burn it if it’s any use in lighting you to the truth. This woman is innocent and this woman has to be cleared, and it’s up to you to do it. Name your figure!”. Sherlock Holmes responds: My  professional  charges  are  upon  a fixed scale.. I do not vary them, save when I remit them altogether.

16. Holmes is angry at the sight of several policeman at the scene of the crime and scolds Inspector Lestrade (Neil Dudgeon): “For God's sake, Lestrade, Why on earth are there heavy booted policeman trampling everyone like a herd of buffaloes?” - 

In A Study in Scarlet, Gregson tells Holmes that he has left the crime scene untouched. Holmes points to the pathway and remarks: “If a herd of buffaloes had passed along there could not be a greater mess. No doubt, however, you had drawn your own conclusions, Gregson, before you permitted this.”


I will be posting the remaining ones in another post.

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