At 79, Ridley Scott’s (The Martian, The Counselor, Gladiator, Blade Runner) talents as a visual stylist remain undiminished. For scale, scope, and spectacle, few filmmakers can match Scott’s eye for composition or world building, but give Scott a poor, middling, or underdeveloped script and the result looks a lot like Prometheus five years ago: A promising set-up, a shedload’s worth of ideas, and purposely obtuse, underwhelming execution that left most films of the Alien franchise ready to chuck Scott and his collaborators out of the nearest airlock. But in the “Age of the Franchise,” no studio, let alone Fox, would let a potentially lucrative property like Alien slip into suspended animation. In hindsight, they should have (a) given the franchise a break and maybe even start over (i.e., a full-on Alien reboot) and/or (b) politely asked Scott to serve as a producer in name only and give creative control of the franchise to someone, anyone with fresh, novel ideas.
***MILD SPOILERS BELOW***
With Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), Supergirl/Kara Danvers/Kara Zor-El’s adoptive sister, safe and sound and back in the DEO fold, all looked right for Supergirl and Friends, but that was before Rhea (Teri Hatcher), Daxamite queen and spurned mother to one Mon-El/Mike (Chris Wood), decided to take the Earth’s future in her hand and align herself with an unsuspecting Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath). Ultra-eager to prove herself her brother’s equal in the brainiac department and his better in the moral/ethical one, Lena lets Rhea charm her into creating a spacetime portal of some kind. Lena thinks she’ll be able to solve all of Earth’s major problems with her Stargate-inspired teleportation device. Instead, she gives Rhea what she’s always wanted: A way to bring Daxam’s scattered survivors to Earth as part of an invasion fleet. (more…)
Families. They can really f— you up. Seriously. In the reel world, though, families can bring in massive amounts of box-office revenue, especially if the words “Fast” and/or “Furious” are part of the title. Contrary to popular belief, though, the Fast & the Furious franchise doesn’t have a monopoly on the word “family.” In only the second film – or first sequel – James Gunn’s (Super, Slither) Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t just borrow the word “family” from the Fast & the Furious franchise, it makes the concept of “family,” biological and otherwise, central to the entire plot. The misfits, outcasts, and criminals who make up the Guardians of the Galaxy squabble like real families, except their squabbles often happen at the absolute worst times, like when they’re trying to escape a race of golden-skinned, genetically modified, tech-hoarding elitists with a bizarre attachment to super-batteries and a major grudge against anyone who tries to steal them. (more…)
Last week’s previews teased a fate worse than death for Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), a painfully prolonged death by drowning courtesy of the villain-of-the-week (also weak),Rick (David Hoflin) and his obsession with Tarsem Singh’s The Cell. No, not really, but this week’s episode, appropriately titled “Alex,” takes The Cell’s central motif, death by drowning to a timer as video cameras roll, and gets within inches of Alex losing her life. Spoiler alert: Alex doesn’t die. She’s too key, too central to Supergirl the TV series and Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), her adoptive sister. Alex often plays big sister to Kara, dropping in with well-placed pep talks about Kara’s personal and professional life, helping to ground her younger, punch-first, ask-questions-later. In Supergirl’s second season, however, Alex’s personal journey – her coming out, her romance with Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) – has emerged into one of the more compelling storylines, thanks in large part to the sensitive writing, directing, and performances. (more…)
The nanobots are here. The nanobots are here. It was only a matter of time, of course, before Supergirl’s latest episode, “Ace Reporter,” went where comic books – and science fiction for that matter – have gone before: Nanotechnology run amok. As always, it’s not a good idea to mess with Father time or Mother Nature. And it’s definitely not a good idea to introduce an entirely new, revolutionary product that will change the world without running a few tests, maybe even a few tests on human subjects, especially since said revolutionary product, flying, drone-like nanobots, operate in a swarm, complete with swarm intelligence. The culprit for unleashing the nanobot swarm on Nation City, the city Supergirl has promised to protect? One Jack Spheer (Rahul Kohli, iZombie), an Elon Musk-like inventor with massive amounts of venture behind him and a messiah complex. He’s also Lena Luthor’s (Katie McGrath) ex, as in ex-boyfriend and ex-partner in a onetime start-up that went nowhere. That is , until Spheer shows up in National City with his shiny, new toys.
When we left Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) in last week’s “Star-Crossed” episode, she had dumped Mon-El (Chris Wood) for telling not just a lie, but a Big Lie. Mon-El wasn’t a lowly palace guard who miraculously survived the destruction of Daxam, Krypton’s sister planet, but the Crown Prince of Daxam, the heir to the royal throne occupied by his dictatorial, autocratic parents, Rhea (Teri Hatcher, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Lar Gand (Kevin Sorbo, Hercules). She wasn’t willing to forgive or forget. In fact, she proved herself more than just a super human. She proved herself to be a champion grudge holder too. All looked lost for Mon-El and Supergirl’s romance, but a very special guest star, the Music Meister (Darren Criss, Glee), stepped in at the nth moment to save the day, albeit in a roundabout way. The Music Meister knocked Supergirl out with some weird hypno-eye thing. Stripped of her superpowers, Supergirl found herself in a 1940s gangster-themed musical. So did Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) once Mon-El and Team Supergirl opened a portal into the Flash’s universe. By the end of the crossover episode, Supergirl and Mon-El were back together again as a couple (probably the shortest break-up involving TV superheroes). (more…)
As the Season Finale of The Walking Dead looms on the horizon, this week’s episode delivers on a key moment in the build up to the imminent showdown with Negan. Almost surprisingly, Sasha returns this week after having magically survived her banzai mission to kill Negan, while Rick and the gang keep making moves to gather enough guns to enlist the Junkyardigans. Read on and prepare for spoilers for The Walking Dead. (more…)
If there’s a life lesson we can glean from tonight’s very special episode of Supergirl, “Star-Crossed,” it’s a simple one: Whatever you do, don’t lie to your Kryptonian girlfriend. She won’t forgive and she won’t forget. It’s in their/her nature, apparently. Something about how all of that integrity leads to self-righteousness and such. Poor Mon-El (Chris Wood), though. Little did he know that hiding a very minor fact about his background – that he’s the Crown Prince of Daxam, his home planet, presumed lost in the conflagration that destroyed Daxam’s sister planet, Krypton – would lead to the end of his all-too-brief (for him) romance with Kara Zor-El/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). By episode’s end, Mon-El/Kara romance has been broken asunder and no man, woman (Kryptonian or Daxamite) can change it.
Back in the mid-fifties, the American distributor of Godzilla (Gojira) attached “King of the Monsters” as a subtitle. A bold claim, sure, but more importantly, a slap in the face of the giant gorilla, Kong, crowned King two decades earlier. Kong might have been born and bred on fictional Skull Island, but he was for all intents and purposes, an American creation. A potent, if unintentional, riff on American slavery, racism, and lonely, misunderstood outsider, albeit an outsider with a thing for screaming blondes and deadly skyscrapers (they reminded him of home), King Kong hit the zeitgeist mother lode, entering pop culture where he’s remained for the better part of a century. A sequel followed, Son of Kong, a couple of low-rent, embarrassing appearances on the Japanese side of the Pacific Ocean, a lightly regarded remake (1976), a sequel, another remake directed by Peter Jackson 12 years ago and now, finally an all-new origin story, a Kong for the 21st century, but still a part of the late 20th century. (more…)
From the first, ultra-violent, gory confrontation between a drunk, alcoholic Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) and three of the unluckiest gangbangers ever put on film, Logan, Jackman’s second collaboration with writer-director James Mangold (The Wolverine, 3:10 to Yuma, Night & Day, Cop Land) and reportedly his last time out as the title character, announces itself as a new, different superhero movie and not just because it’s R-rated (we saw plenty of ultra-violence last February with Deadpool) but because Mangold, his screenwriting partner, Scott Frank (The Lookout, The Interpreter, Minority Report, Out of Sight, Get Shorty), and Jackman, every bit a co-equal partner, go where no superhero genre movie has gone before: Into exploring the long-term physical, mental, and emotional consequences of living above and beyond what we otherwise consider normal or natural with depth, nuance, and genuine emotion. All this achieved with stakes – saving a life, saving a handful of lives – would be considered marginal, tangential, or even irrelevant in the typically overblown, bombastic superhero entries from Marvel, DC, or the X-Men universe prior to Logan. (more…)