Thursday, November 26, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 5 "How Does She Do It?" - Recap and Review

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The fifth episode finds Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) struggling to maintain a healthy balance between her office work as Kara Danvers and the heroic responsibilities of being Supergirl.

Supergirl finds herself being followed by drones. After dismantling them, she initially suspects her DEO boss Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). Hank denies this and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) has a suspect on her mind: Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli). His company, Lord Technologies have been working on the materials that were used in making the drones.

These suspicions become stronger, when there is an explosion in yet another Lord Technologies' lab. Hank and Alex pose as FBI Agents to purportedly carry out their investigation to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Alex and Maxwell are attracted to each other. Despite this, Maxwell refuses to take her help.

Kara Danvers faces two issues: The first one is the return of Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum) to National City. Lucy wants to get back with her ex boyfriend James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). Even though James believed that it was Lucy who had dumped him, Lucy informs Kara that James' obsession with Superman was the actual reason that caused the separation.

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Kara faces another challenge when she offers to babysit Carter Grant (Levi Miller). Carter is the son of her boss, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Cat's mother is busy with her career and her former babysitter is injured and unable to help out.

Kara's babysitting duties interfere with her superheroic ones. She takes the help of Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) to take care of Carter while she flies around saving lives.

As was shown in the previous episodes, Maxwell's company has been working on a fast train. He ignores the recent attacks and decides to go ahead the grand unveiling of the product.

All these threads come together in the climax, when Carter runs away to meet Supergirl at Maxwell's function and the venue happens to be target of the next attack.

This was a good episode. The action sequences were the highlights of the episode. Supergirl's flying effects have been executed very well. They are far superior to what we see in the terrible Man of Steel.

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Melissa Benoist is terrific as the Girl of Steel. She is the perfect counterpart to the late Christopher Reeve's Man of Steel. Right from the beginning, she has been great whenever she wears the cape.

Credit also to the producers and crew for making the flying and action sequences so much fun and enjoyable. This show is clearly being made by people who love DC Universe/Superman mythology very much and these scenes are ample proof of this.

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This episode is also significant for another reason: We get our first (and recurring) human villain/antagonist in the form of Maxwell Lord. The show sets up Maxwell as National City's equivalent of Metropolis' Lex Luthor.

If Lex hates the presence of a God-like alien in his city, Maxwell is intrigued by Supergirl's powers. He is the one who masterminded the attacks on his company and forced his employee, Ethan Knox (Scott Michael Campbell) to make himself a suicide bomber on-board the train. Maxwell intends to study Supergirl's powers and all of his actions have been carried out with this single purpose in mind.

This episode shares some common elements with The Last Son of Krypton - the first episode of the critically acclaimed Superman: The Animated Series. In that episode, Lex Luthor deliberately lets his company property get stolen in order to strike an illegal arms deal. Supes prevents this from happening and warns Lex that he will be keeping an eye on him.

Supergirl also issues a similar warning to Maxwell at the end of the episode.

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Yet another of my favorite aspect of the show is the mystery surrounding the true identity of Hank Henshaw. As I have mentioned in my reviews of the previous episodes, I strongly believe that Hank is none other than the great Martian Manhunter (MM) himself in disguise.

More clues pop up in this episode. When Kara accuses him of following her, he retorts that if he had been following her, she would not even be aware of that fact. Martian Manhunter (MM) has shape shifting powers and the ability to become invisible as well as phase through objects. These would indeed make him a super spy and it would be nearly impossible to detect his presence. In a later scene, Hank's eyes glow red - another trademark physical characteristic of MM.

As good as the show is with regards to bringing the DC Universe to life, what makes the show so successful is the perfect casting choices. The actors/actresses are great in their parts and enjoy a genuine chemistry with each other.

As I mentioned earlier, Melissa makes a superb Supergirl. The scene abroad the train when she tries to convince Ethan Knox to change his plan shows the humanity and wisdom that is typical of a Girl/Man of Steel. Another great scene was her telephonic conversation with Cat as she flies to pick up Carter from his school.

Both Chyler Leigh and Peter Facinelli get adequate screen-time as their respective characters, Alex Danvers and Maxwell Lord get to know each other and develop a mutual attraction for each other. Maxwell reveals that his parents were killed due to negligence on the part of Government officials. This explains his lack of trust in authority figures. His line: We are orphans. We do not get over things easily reminded me of the Dark Knight himself.

But there are still a few chinks in the armor.  I am referring to Jenna Dewan Tatum as Lucy Lane and Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen. Though these two actors portray characters who are supposed to be past lovers, their lack of chemistry is quite palpable.

Nevertheless, this is a minor drawback that does not distract heavily from enjoying the show. Must watch for fans of Supergirl/Superman/DC Comics.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 4 "Livewire" - Recap and Review

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This episode (“Livewire”) was originally intended to be the fifth episode as well as a Thanksgiving special. But due to the horrific attacks on Paris, the network/producers decided to swap this episode with the initially planned fourth episode (“How Does She Do It?”).

As the episode title indicates, the focus of the episode is on the supervillain of the same name. Leslie Willis (Brit Morgan) is a CatCo employee, who likes to spout venom against Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) on air. Her attacks get so personal that even Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) has had enough.

Cat reassigns Leslie to a field job. As luck would have it, bad weather strikes. Despite Supergirl's best efforts, Leslie is hit by a lightning and is transformed into Livewire.

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Livewire has the powers to transport herself through anything that runs on electricity. She can also manipulate electricity and fire electric blasts. Her one and only target remains her employer, Cat Grant.

Supergirl manages to save Cat from Livewire's first murderous attempt.

The other subplot involves the visit of Kara's foster mother, Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater). Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) is a bit nervous and Kara does her best to calm her sister down. Alex is apprehensive that Eliza might not like the fact that Kara has revealed her superpowers to the world.

The Danvers have a guest at the Thanksgiving dinnerWinn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). Winn becomes the unsuspecting witness to the family argument that erupts when Alex reveals herself to be working for the DEO.

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Cat Grant decides to take Supergirl's help in taking down Livewire. They lay a trap and even though, it looks like the supervillain might eventually prevail, Supergirl again resorts to using brain over brawn to defeat her opponent.

Eliza finally reveals the reason for her fears about both Kara and Alex working for Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). It seems  that years earlier, Hank approached the Danvers with the intention of studying Kara's biology, since the Man of Steel has refused to work with the DEO.

To protect his adopted daughter's privacy, Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) volunteers to share with the DEO, all the information he has collected about Superman as part of his research. Jeremiah ostensibly died in a plane crash, while working for Hank. But Eliza has her suspicions about the real causes of her husband's death and believes that Hank had a part in it.

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In the closing scene, Kara and Alex decide to keep an eye on their DEO boss, Hank. Nice try: I still believe he is Martian Manhunter.

Not much to write on the acting front. Helen Slater and Chyler Leigh spend most of their time busy being at each other's throats. Jeremy Jordan's Winn does his usual unrequited pining for Kara. Only difference is: he does this at the Danvers' apartment. Interestingly, neither Eliza or Alex notice this.

Newcomer, Brit Morgan is adequate as the foul-mouthed Leslie and later the villainous Livewire.

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Only Calista Flockhart manages to breath some life into the episode as the irrepressible and witty Cat Grant.

Interestingly, there was a similar episode with the same name in the critically acclaimed Superman: The Animated Series. The plot was similar too: Leslie airs her rants against the Man of Steel and becomes Livewire, despite Superman's efforts to rescue her from a lightning strike.

Compared to the previous fun-filled episodes, this one was a bit downer. The emphasis on the Danvers family drama was a bit overwhelming. Hopefully, the next episode will be more light-hearted.

There was however one major drawback in the episode: Kara uses her heat vision to heat up the Turkey for the Thanksgiving dinner. As a firm believer in Animal Rights, this scene was an eyesore. Why would anyone want to express their thanks by eating a dead bird is beyond me.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Flash Season 2 Episode 6 "Enter Zoom" - Recap and Review

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Barry Allen/Flash (Grant Gustin) decides to take on Zoom (voiced by Tony Todd) to prevent further civilian casualties. The other Flash, Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) strongly advises against this. He believes that Barry (like Jay) is no match for Zoom. When Flash refuses to take his advice, Jay takes leave from S.T.A.R. Labs.

If there is one person who whole-heartedly supports Flash's plan, it is the alternate Earth's Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). The other members, including Iris West (Candice Patton) hatch up a plan to have Linda Park (Malese Jow) pose as the villainous (and currently subdued) Dr Light. The endgame is to trick Zoom and have Flash capture him.

Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) has reservations and is of the opinion that Flash wants to kill this alternate version of Reverse Flash, since it was Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell) who took care of this Earth's version of Reverse Flash.

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A subplot involves Cisco Ramon/Vibe(Carlos Valdes) using his newly found superpowers to find out if Harrison Wells is hiding any secrets from the team. After failing initially, Vibe's persistence finally pays off. He reads Wells' thoughts and sees his daughter, Jesse Wells (Violett Beane) being held as hostage by Zoom.

In the mean time, Flash and the the gang train Linda Park to act as Dr Light. She uses a gadget (developed by Cisco) to simulate the supervillain's superpowers. This training montage came off as a bit childish.

When they finally act out their encounter, Zoom does not turn up. Joe advises the disappointed Barry to focus on things that make him happy. Barry knows exactly what that means and heads right away to meet Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten).

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Zoom is no slouch either. He kidnaps Linda and arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry suits up and saves Linda. But Zoom proves to be way too fast even for the Flash (just as Jay had predicted). Despite being outmatched, Barry tries to outwit Zoom, but fails.

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Zoom beats up Barry good and then parades the beaten hero before the local cops and the media. Finally, he takes Barry to S.T.A.R. Labs and is about to finish him off. Cisco manages to land a hit at the distracted Zoom, who still takes off and escapes.

As Barry regains his consciousness, he realizes that he cannot feel his legs any more.

This was an OK episode. As I had mentioned earlier, the scenes featuring Malese Jow's Linda Park were boring. On the other hand, Zoom completely stole each scene he was in. Voiced by Tony Todd, he is a very compelling villain. Kudos to the casting director for this inspired choice. Tony Todd brings his full weight and experience to the role and what a difference it makes. A very inspired casting choice...

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The rest of the cast are adequate in their performances. Carlos Valdes gets a lot of screen time as he gets to practice his powers on Dr Wells. But they could have avoided having Cisco and Caitlin discussing about Wells well within his earshot. That was pretty amateurish.

In the review of the previous episode, I had remarked that Cisco Ramon had become the equivalent of Professor Charles Xavier's Cerebro due to his ability to locate meta-humans. This episode brings that comparison even more relevant by making Barry himself the equivalent of Charles Xavier due to his current physical predicament.

Recommended watch to fans of The Flash/DC Comics.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 3 "Fight or Flight" - Recap and Review

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The episode starts with a quick recap of the previous two episodes, right from the Krypton's scene to Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) whisking away Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) away for an one-on-one conversation.

Supergirl's interview with Cat Grant has more than a passing resemblance to the one that Margot Kidder's Lois Lane had with the late Christopher Reeve's Supes. While Margot's Lois took notes, Cat Grant uses her smartphone to record the interview.

Over the course of the interview, Supergirl unintentionally reveals that she is Superman's cousin. Being the savvy businessperson that she is, Cat Grant makes sure that this piece of information becomes the talk of the town.

This attracts the attention of Reactron (Chris Browning), a super-villain with a long standing grudge against the Man of Steel. Since he is unable to kill Supes, he decides to try his luck with the Girl of Steel.

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On the personal front, Kara Danvers faces yet another challenge from her boss. Not content with publicizing Supergirl's connection to the Man of Steel, Cat also wants to host a gala occasion to publish her self-authored critical piece about Supergirl.

Supergirl faces Reactron and manages to cause enough damage to his suit to make him flee the scene. To get back into a fighting condition, Reactron infiltrates Lord Technologies with the intention of abducting someone with the necessary skills and knowledge to repair his damaged suit. Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) willingly offers to be the hostage.

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Supergirl takes Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan)'s help in zeroing in on Reactron's location. James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) is against Kara taking on the supervillain, who has proven to be a match even for Superman. James' fears come true when Reactron overpowers Supergirl and is about to finish her off, when the Man of Steel himself appears out of nowhere and forces Reactron to make yet another escape.

Kara is not happy with Jimmy summoning Superman to help her. James explains that he did so more out of old habit and a fear of losing her.

Reactron makes his re-appearance during Cat's aforementioned function. With help from Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), Supergirl finally defeats Reactron.

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The third episode of Supergirl turns out to be the best one yet. The actors are getting into the skin of their characters very well.

At the top of the list are Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart. Melissa has been under the costume and the cape right from the beginning. But her act as Kara Danvers was a bit too Tina Fey for my taste. In the last episode and particularly in this one, she finally manages to leave her own stamp on the role.

Same is true of Calista. Her Cat Grant is growing as a character. She hints at childhood trauma as well as a romantic past with Lords. Calista is clearly having fun with her part.

David Harewood continues to glower effectively as Hank Henshaw. This episode gives even more evidence that he is Martian Manhunter (MM). Hank Henshaw uses his telepathic powers to detect Alex's presence. Fingers crossed that he turns out to be MM.

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There is a newcomer in town and this is Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum). Lucy is the younger sister of Lois Lane and the former flame of James Olsen.

The writers included a number of winks and nods to current pop culture events (James Bond, Millenium Falcon from Star Wars, Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair, Keeping up with Kardashians).

But the best parts were the references to Superman mythology . The watch used by James to summon Superman to his help is a staple of the Superman Canon. James also accidentally reveals Superman's secret identity to Winn Shott.

Even better was the brief appearance by Supes himself. Needless to say, that was the highlight of the episode for me.

Melissa Benoist gets to mouth some of the best lines:
1. Supergirl's reply to waitress: “I am an alien”.
2. Supergirl's description of Cat Grant: She is a super interviewing villain

I also liked this line: Every Generation gets the Superhero it deserves.” A subtle nod to the Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, perhaps...

With great acting, fun action sequences and made by people who clearly love the DC Universe and especially Superman, this is becoming a must watch for fans of Superman/DC Comics.

The song Wish I Could Fly” by Roxette plays during the scene in which Kara Danvers is entering the venue of Cat Grant's event.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), DC Comics DatabaseWikipedia

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 Episode 1 "El Jefe" - Recap and Review

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The long-awaited sequel to the classic Evil Dead movies Ash vs Evil Dead is finally here. Yes I am ignoring the unnecessarily gory 2013 movie that only retained the basics of the original (the cabin settings, deadites, youngsters etc..) while completely sacrificing the fun and the spirit that underscored Sam Raimi's timeless and seminal movies.

It has been 30 years since Ashley Ash J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) escaped from the nightmare he encountered in the woods. He is living a lonely existence in a trailer in Mossy Haven Trailer Park. His only (non-human) companion is Eli, a pet lizard.

He works at ValueStop, a local store and his waywardness doesn't make him a favorite with his boss, Mr. Roper (Damien Garvey). Ash does have an admirer in the wide-eyed Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago).

In his free time, Ash tries to pick up random women at the local bar. He is not above fabricating stories to explain some kind of heroic explanation for losing his hand. One of them is saving a 8 yr old boy from the tracks. Bruce Campbell is his usual self in these scenes and he hasn't lost a bit of his charm.

In one such drug infused encounter with a lady at his trailer, Ash unintentionally releases the deadites (again) by reciting the words from the Naturom Demonto/Necromonicon also known as Book of the Dead”. Soon he starts seeing deadites everywhere.

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His fear of deadites is not completely unfound. When local cops, Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) and John Carson (Mike Edward) arrive to investigate reports of a woman screaming insider her house, they are attacked by a deadite. Though they manage to kill her, Carson also becomes one and Amanda has to shoot him dead to escape with her life.

Now, Amanda faces an Internal Affairs homicide inquest and a possible psych evaluation.

Ash also feels the evil growing all around him. Even his friendly neighbourhood (no pun intended) lady, Vivian Johnson (Sian Davis) seems to be a deadite waiting to kill him. Ash has seen enough and decides to leave town as soon as possible.

When he arrives at his store to get his paycheck, he is rebuked by Mr. Roper. But it is not a complete waste of time, as he comes across a new employee. This employee is an attractive young lady, Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo). Ash's usual tricks do not work on Kelly and she is the second store employee to put him in his place.

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Ash's troubles are far from over at the store. He is attacked by a doll. This is similar to the scene in Army of Darkness, when Ash is attacked by three miniature versions of himself. Ash is rescued by Pablo. Pablo believes that Ash is El Jefe i.e. the person destined to save humanity from the oncoming deadite apocalypse. Pablo's uncle is a shaman and happens to be the source of this prediction.

Ash does not share Pablo's beliefs and heads back to his trailer. Kelly has her own share of troubles. Her mother, who died six months back, has come back from the grave. Kelly's Father (Phil Peleton) is in mortal danger and Kelly is desperate to save his life.

The climactic fight takes place at Ash's trailer. Pablo takes Kelly to meet Ash and hopefully get him to help them. The trio face off against not one but two deadites: Vivian and the cleaner who works nearby.

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This is one of the most enjoyable episodes I have seen in quite some time. The casting is top notch. Bruce Campbell can probably portray this character in his sleep and it shows. He slips back effortlessly into the role that has since become a genre legend.

Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo are good. The people who make the best impressions are Jill Marie Jones as Amanda Fisher and Damien Garvey as Mr. Roper. Both these characters undergo transformation through the course of the episode.

Amanda's encounter with the deadite is the highlight of this episode. This is vintage Sam Raimi (he directed this episode). All his trademarks are there: the legendary Evil Dead tracking shot, genuine horror et al.

Damien is makes a charismatic Mr. Roper. He is a classic horror movie character and he should make a great deadite in the upcoming episodes.

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Lucy Lawless makes her entry as Ruby and promptly disappears. She informs Jill that she is not hallucinating and that she is very right in her misgivings. No doubt, we will see more of Ruby as the series progresses.

I also liked the scene at the store in which Ash recalls the events of the first Evil Dead movie. That part was shot beautifully and credit to Sam Raimi and the cinematographer.

In addition to horror, the episode also features some nice suspense building scenes. The scene at the trailer park (featuring Ash and Vivian) as well as the scene shot outside ValueStop stand out in this regard.

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This is Classic Sam Raimi. Classy Combination of Horror and Humor. In these days of torture porn, this is how horror is done. Learn from the Master.

Must watch for fans of Evil Dead/Horror movies.

Recommended watch to fans of Horror movie genre.

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