A review of the Flash Season Four Finale

I sat through 21 episodes for THIS shit?

What a bitterly disappointing ending for a fair-to-good season…

Season Four had wonderful potential – the big bad was finally not another omnipotent-he-is-always-one-step-ahead-of-us speedster (he was an omnipotent-he-is-always-one-step-ahead-of-us genius), a whole new rogue’s gallery was forming, and the highlight – the introduction of the Elongated Man!

Hartley Sawyer was perfectly case – he even LOOKED like Ralph!

But the rest of the season just shows the severe limitations of the “Big Bad”-style.

I’ve complained about this style recently and called for its elimination in the DC-CW shows. The last three seasons of Arrow show the style at its worst. But it wasn’t until the last episode of Season Four of the Flash that it finally dawned on me why.

Yes, the Big Bad makes for tedium and repetition (“Hoping this is their chance to stop (insert name of Big Bad) once and for all …” seems to begin the synopsis for 3/4ths of Arrow’s IMDB’s Episode Lists …) but that is only a symptom. The disease is thus:

Nothing. Happens. Until. The last. episode.

Nothing.

No plot progression. No sense of advancement.

The Big Bad Style is interesting and thrilling when you first watch it. But the plot devise has been used in sixteen seasons between the four DC-CW shows, as well as Agents of Shield, Gotham, etc.

Maybe it’s me, maybe these shows are better while binge-watching. I doubt it. I suspect the Big Bad syndrome is even worse – seeing the heroes defeated not once per week but four times in an afternoon – “is this a rerun, did I hit the repeat button?”

Again it goes back to the main problem: “We’ll stop him this time!” “At last! I … oh. Episode 17, nope, you have five more to go before THAT happens.” Until then …

…nothing…

Arrow tried for a different take this season by killing off their Big Bad – revealing that the actual Big Bad was lurking in the background. But then it was back to the “We’ll stop him this time/this will work it HAS to!” …

Meet the new (Big Bad) boss, same as the old (Big bad) boss.

Flash should be better than this. They do done-in-one shows, they do not only character development, but character advancement! The heroes are likeable. The actors playing them fit the roles perfectly – the chemistry of the cast is obvious!

So how do we fix this? Get rid of the Big Boss. Or at least stay away from him or her for more than one episode at a time. Do two- three- or four-part arcs with other villains. Grodd, perhaps, or a more powerful non-Flash villain: Kanjar Ro, the Shadow Thief or Felix Faust.

For gosh sakes, introduce the Green Lantern Corp!

“We can’t, it might conflict with the DC Cinematic Universe!”

Ignore the DCCU; they certainly are ignoring YOU…

***

I think my souring began with the resolution of the mid-season cliff-hanger “The Trial of the Flash” and I never had a chance to recover. For several episodes Flash did not escape from his cell or allow other shenanigans. “If I cannot get out legitimately, I don’t want to do it.” So how does he get released and found innocent of murder?

Illegitimately.

Ralph disguised himself as DeVoe. How can you kill a man who is still alive? Granted DeVoe WAS alive, but it was a fraud on the court. At least Arrow, pulling similar shenanigans some months later, used it against a corrupt system. Here the judge/jury was legit.

The means do not justify the ends. Barry Allen would be the FIRST to tell us that! His reaction to how his team sprung him was conveniently ignored.

Plus, at the final hearing DeVoe’s “widow” was present, but the District Attorney was NOT?! I know this isn’t Law and Order, but STILL…

It was the nadir of the series, in my opinion.

Until this season’s finale…

***

The season finale had its moments – the introduction of Barry & Iris’ daughter from the future, the birth of Joe & Cecile’s daughter (yes, thse are spoilers, who cares? It was a crappy show), even the Thinker’s reference to himself as the “Big Bad” made me laugh.

But the rest of it?

Synopsis: with technobabble that would make the writers of Star Trek Voyager get erections, Barry put his physical self into DeVoe’s mind. This is done with the help of DeVoe’s wife who finally turns to the good side after a 20-episode build-up.

Flash finds Ralph “alive” (an why not the rest of his new Rogue’s Gallery?) and they fight off an infinite number of Thinkers in Matrix-like fashion.  Devoe is finally destroyed because Ralph’s physical body leaves the Thinker’s mind. Of course, why hadn’t anyone thought of THAT …

But, thanks to Holographic Resurrection, the Thinker appears again to menace our heroes! His wife finally defeats him by reaching around the chair and unplugging him.

Yes, they unplugged him.

By now I’d unplugged the Tivo.

***

I love the Flash, I do. I love the charactersl I love the cast.

But I swear to god if this keeps up next year I’m rooting for the bad guy.

And start watching NCIS. Abby Scuito or no Abby Scuito.

Copyright 2018 Michael Curry

***

About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

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A review of Solo – meeting an old friend for the first time.

Solo: A Star Wars Story, or Solo (to avoid confusion, I will refer to the movie as Solo and the character as Han), is the second of the Star Wars stand-alone “anthology” films, following 2016’s Rogue One. It is set prior to the events of Star Wars (yes I said Star Wars dammit, not New Hope not Episode Four…), although it is vague as to how far before – movie executives say about ten years. It explores the first adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as their meeting Lando Calrissian, and the theft of a type of super fuel to appease a boss of the criminal underworld for an earlier botched train heist.

This is the darkest of the all the Star Wars movies. We see the criminal underbelly of this galaxy far far away. We had hints of this in Jabba the Hut and others (including Lando). But this is murkier, more nihilistic.

I liked it!

If the movie did not have the Star Wars tag, stripped and scrubbed of all Lucasia, so to speak, it would have still been a good movie. Not great, but good. It was too dark to have the sly wit of The Sting or the hipster wink of Ocean’s 11, but it had the same elements. Individual rogues tying to outwit Criminal organizations who themselves are fighting other criminal organizations all avoiding the Empire fighting a embryonic Rebellion. Who is on who’s side? Their own, obviously. Anyone could turn on Han at any time. No one is NOT suspect.

Well, not Chewbacca, obviously.

***

As part of the so-called anthology of non-canonical eight-and-counting movies (that is, not part of the “Adventures of Luke Skywalker (and family)” – I’ll refer to them as the Canon), comparisons to the first anthology movie – Rogue One – is expected and (were I involved in the movie) welcomed! Rogue One was superb but inextricably linked to the Canon. It was a laser-etched final jigsaw piece to the Canon all while maintaining independence from the Canon. Rogue One managed to juggle an original story while still carry the immense burden (or baggage depending on your opinion) of the Canon movies.

Solo does not have as much baggage as Rogue One and is thus free to create new characters and situations (as Rogue One did but even more independent of “what happens next”) – the only burden was making sure Han and Chewy eventually make it to Tattoine and Lando ends up in Cloud City (the movie ends before either destination is reached). You KNOW they aren’t going to be killed off. Whether they will stay loyal to each other in the meantime … remember their first reunion in Empire Strikes Back

But it does have its nods to the Canon. Jabba the Hut is mentioned (not by name but the implication is obvious), but Bossk is (from Empire), we see Han’s home world of Corellia, we find out why he wears military trousers, we visit the Spice Mines of Kessel and why the Kessel run can’t be made in less than 20 parsecs.

A shame – for 40 years I have established my geek cred by arguing that a parsec was a measure of space, not time, making the Kessel run in 12 parsecs was akin to running a mile in 400 feet. Alas, Solo explains (finally) what this means other than it being an un scientific writer’s error …

***

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Alden Ehrenreich did well as Han. His Han’s arrogance was as unproved as Harrison Ford’s in Star Wars, but the audience in Solo knows he is bluffing about his abilities. By the end of both movies, we are as confident as he is about his piloting (and other) skills.

I had a hard time seeing him “becoming” the Harrison Ford version, however. Compare his performance to, say, River Phoenix’ superior young Indiana Jones in Lost Crusade. River emulated Ford’s manner of speech, his phrasing, even his gate while running. I could see him “growing up” to be Harrison Ford. Not so with Alden Ehrenreich.

Which is neither good nor bad, just different. I didn’t want Rich Little, but this Han Solo wasn’t going to be the one I saw in 1977. Less of a bio-pic and more of a reboot.

Compare this to Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. HE emulated the speech patterns, phrasing and general cool slickness Billy Dee Williams brought (will bring? Damn these time anomalies) to the character.  It also helped that Lando was only in two movies – and only one in which we glimpsed his personality (he was almost an after-thought in Return of the Jedi) – Lando was not as firmly entrenched in the mythos as Han.

***

The villain behind all the treachery, when revealed, was fun and interesting but caused some confusion. No spoilers, but his/her/its (I’m being deliberately vague as to gender) appearance was … an anachronism. How could this character possibly be around at this time? No spoilers, but it would be as if Kylo Ren appeared in a movie about a young Yoda. “Aren’t you not even supposed to be born for another seven hundred years?” or Qui-Gon Jinn appearing alive and well at the end of the ninth Canon movie. “Didn’t you die … seventy-plus years ago?”

***

The rest of the cast? Woody Harrelson surprises as Han’s mentor/frenemy and leader of the one of the criminal gangs. I sometimes forget what a good actor he is. When he was announced as a cast member I was a bit shocked, him being so “serious” an actor – what? Why? Will Sean Penn be in the next Deadpool movie?  Will Robert Duvall play the Whizzer in the next Avengers movie? But as I said, he did very well! The best of the original characters in the movie.

And Emilia Clarke is as indescribably beautiful as ever.

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***

What is next? Another Han movie is likely – likely (and probably unnecessarily) linking Solo to Star Wars. A Lando Calrissian movie is in the cards – Donald Glover says he would enjoy reprising the role. I’m looking forward to any of these movies.

Maybe more so than the ninth Canon movie…

Copyright 2018 Michael Curry

About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Legends of Tomorrow Season Three – a review

The third season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow premiered on October 10, 2017, and concluded on April 9, 2018 with 18 episodes. To date it is tied with Supergirl as the fourth-highest rated show on the CW.

Allison Keene of the website Collider did an excellent summary of this season’s Legends of Tomorrow. You can read it here: http://collider.com/legends-of-tomorrow-season-3-finale-explained/ but I will share it in full below. Thank you, Allison and Collider for allowing me to share it.

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***

It’s not every TV show that can pull off a Wild West showdown in a temporal blindspot that includes pirates, a Roman legion, a gigantic Beebo, a death demon, Jonah Hex, Leif Erikson’s sister, and a Themyscira-trained Helen of Troy, but by golly Legends of Tomorrow can and did. It was a marvelous way to tie together the show’s many adventures this season and recycle some costumes to save on a budget so we could enjoy a major CG battle between a cuddle bear and a hell demon (“Malice, you idiots!”). But in true Legends form, it was also surprisingly emotional, juggling several heavy narrative storylines with its trademark joy while never becoming glib. It’s an extremely fine line to walk, but Legends landed beautifully. For those who thought nothing could top “Beebo the God of War,” “The Good, The Bad, and the Cuddly” was a real treat.

Legends of Tomorrow is (as I have written about before) the only Arrowverse show to get better with each season. The series has never been afraid to change up its focus or its cast to better suit the story. Every crew member on the Waverider plays an important part, and each role is distinct. As Captain Cold, Jax, and Stein, and the Hawks exited, the crew only became stronger with the advent of Zari, Wally, Nate, and now Constantine. Even Ava and Gary have been welcome additions from the Time Bureau rather than Rip, who never quite worked with the levity and tone the series has cultivated.

Rip has left the show before only to return, and since we didn’t actually see him perish in “The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly”  I’m not sure that he’s really and truly gone. But if he did lay down his life for the Legends then and there, it was the right time. There wasn’t much build-up to it, but then again, there didn’t need to be. Rip hadn’t been a major part of the show in a long time, but that short line — “I would very much like to see my wife and son again” — packed enough emotional punch to make the moment land. It’s that kind of narrative work the Legends does so well; because it lays the groundwork for these moments episodes and sometimes seasons in advance, it doesn’t need to force a storyline or a mini-arc to explain a particular plot point it needs to get to. It happens naturally.

The same was true of the quick death of Damien Darhk, which was almost lost in this battle-intense finale. But it was a noble death for a character that Legends single-handedly redeemed through the Legion of Doom and in his alliance with his daughter and Mallus this year. Again, the emotional build-up to that moment happened in the episodes prior to it, where it was clear that Damien cared more about his daughter than any potential power grabs, especially after her death. I have a suspicion that we haven’t seen the last of the now-alive Nora Darhk (who in real life is married to Brandon Routh!) and that’s a good thing. She and her father were responsible for a great villain arc this year, and provided us with one of the best TV moments of the year with that fight sequence set to “Return of the Mack.”

The sacrificial deaths really were overshadowed though by a few key reunions, including an alive-and-well Kuasa (in Vixen gear) and the return of Jax. While the Legends have been cruising through time, 5 years have passed for the former half of Firestorm, who is now married and has a daughter (who, for all we know, could be the mystery girl from The Flash). It was really nice to incorporate him in the finale along with almost every character we’ve met along the way this year; it was not only suitably epic, but thematically relevant for a show about a motley crew of heroes. It was a reunion, truly, of the good, the bad, and the cuddly, and if you hadn’t guessed that the team would be creating a Beebo gollum once they introduced that possibility, then you haven’t been paying attention.

And yet.

The fact that the true break-out star of Season 3, Beebo — the purest good — would reappear as a kind of ninja warrior Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who is both hungry and really wants a hug, ultimately exploding (and killing Mallus) in a blue heart-shaped nuclear cloud went above and beyond all expectations. It was the marquee moment of this crazy season, and a thematically on-point, perfect way to wrap things up. Love wins, so kill ‘em with kindness!

The Aruba-set epilogue then took us back to the beginning, where everything kicked off this year, and instead of Julius Caesar it included a Constantine trolling by Gary (the set and the lighting was so distracting here, but I’ll forgive every cost-saving measure because of that Beebo fight). Sara and Ava are still working things out, Wally is fitting in great (and finally getting to use his powers the way a speedster should as part of a team), and Zari has a weird crush on Jonah Hex that is somehow adorable. But Nate also said goodbye to Amaya (and looks like the show is as well), in a way that — like with Damien’s departure — capped off many episodes’ worth of personal struggle. We didn’t need to see a drawn-out farewell from these two, because they’ve spent most of the season fighting their feelings, acknowledging them, and coming to the realization that they can’t have a future together. It was sad, but not maudlin — perfect for Legends.

So after an episode full of amazing references to Voltron, the “chicken people,” Wonder Woman, Vietnam, Blackbeard, and just about every throwaway line from the season (not to mention the sweetness of Mick remembering Ray’s song, and the hilarity of High Nate), we got a new setup for the season to come. “We broke time!” is now “We let out all the demons,” according to Constantine, and the hunt to put them back into the same realm Mallus came from is the right way for Legends to move forward. But what Legends proves above all is that drama can just as potently come from joy, triumph, and friendship as it can from sadness, violence, and death. Legends includes both sides exceptionally well, but regardless, it choose to stay optimistic — an important and crucial distinction that sets it apart from its Arrowverse brethren. Ultimately, the show’s exceptionally fun yet also narratively complex third season was a cuddly explosion of love conquering death. It was, fittingly, legendary.

***

She liked Season 3 better than I did. I liked it, and frankly it is (so far) more satisfying than the other three CW shows (Supergirl, Flash and Arrow; it is unfair to compare Black Lightning, in its inaugural season, to the others). I’ve come to accept that this show is of a sillier bent than the rest; I don’t like it but I accept it.

But I liked this season – at times it is the best season of the show so far! Highlights included:

The return of Constantine.

The shorter season forces the conclusion of the season-long story arc from continuing long past its expiration date (which has plagued all of the other three CW shows this season as well as last year’s Flash and the past two seasons of Arrow.

The return of Constantine.

After a season full of episode after episode of Damien Darhke and the eye-rollingly overused trope of his snatching defeat from the jaws of victory from the Legends; we are finally shown another side in the season’s last episodes – just as he was turning into the Agent-of-Shield’s-Ward of the CW-line (every week for three years being constantly reminded he is the unredeemable and undefeatable villain) he does something unexpected and (more importantly) un-telegraphed (compared to, say, Marlize DeVoe ‘s inevitable redemption on this season’s Flash).

The return of … well, you get the idea…

Themyscira exists in the CW-verse. Is Wonder Woman (or perhaps Donna Troy) a possibility?

The return of Matt Ryan (see how I sneaked that in there?).

The Elvis episode was one of the best DC/CW shows to air so far.

Constantine playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Kid Flash joins the cast. Last season Eobard Thawne snatched victory away from the Legends every week. Every. Week. Now it’s the good guys’ turn. Not overdone, but Kid Flash was only in the later episodes. But beware: it could be as overused a crutch as it was for the Legion of Doom last season.

John Noble’s return as Denethor (it makes up for the shameful Tolkien “homage” of last season)!

I didn’t much like the ET homage episode, but the Legends trick-or-treating with a young Ray was a fun scene!

Did I mention Constantine?

Legends has been renewed and I look forward to its new direction. Join me in watching!

Michael G Curry

A long goodbye: a review of Avengers Infinity War Part 1

In a rare change, I saw a movie on the weekend of its release. I kept Friday free because I had a bit of a cold and an eye abrasion that I wanted some quiet time to heal (no court, in other words).

I slept in and by mid-morning felt so much better that I wanted something to do. Since the Avengers movie debuted the night before, I thought I would see if an afternoon show would be too crowded.

The theater was half-full even at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon with school in session. It was not too crowded and sat back with my popcorn to enjoy the show.

Wikipedia has a nice plot summary, so I am using this with my own comments added. If you are concerned about SPOILERS skip the regular font – my comments are in italics on the right side of the page.

I hate continued movies (Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean), paying full price for half a film … but I must admit I liked this movie very much and cannot wait for the conclusion.

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SPOILERS AHEAD!

From Wikipedia:

Having acquired the Power Stone from the planet Xandar, Thanos and his followers—Cull Obsidian, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive—intercept the ship carrying the survivors of Asgard’s destruction. Thor, Loki and Hulk are powerless to protect the Asgardians. Heimdall uses the Bifröst to send Hulk to Earth before being killed. Loki gives Thanos the Tesseract to spare Thor’s life, but is killed after attempting to kill Thanos, who departs with his followers and obliterates the ship.

The movie starts about twenty minutes after Uncle Thor’s Goofy House of Wacky Fun (e.g. Thor: Ragnarok) – hereinafter called GHWF – leaves off. The so-called humor of GHWF still infects this scene like a late-stage venereal disease. But it does not last long. Perhaps the producers finally realized that the genocide of an entire culture is not the place for fart jokes.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, reverting to Bruce Banner. He warns Stephen Strange and Wong about Thanos’ plan to kill half of all life in the universe. In response, Strange recruits Tony Stark. Maw and Obsidian arrive to retrieve the Time Stone from Strange. After a battle including Peter Parker, Maw captures Strange; Stark and Parker pursue Maw’s spaceship, while Banner contacts Steve Rogers.

Thus tying in the excellent Doctor Strange movie and bringing into conflict the two most egotistical characters in the Marvel CU: Stephen Strange and Tony Stark. Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr excel here.  It is a joy watching these two superb actors relishing their roles.   It almost makes you forget their equally wonderful casting choice for Spider-Man.  Here the humor is in character and appropriately placed – it would have to be with Strange and Iron Man trying to out-pompous each other!

Oddly, Mark Ruffalo is given little to do – intimating the Hulk does NOT want to metamorphose back. Is he scared? Will this tiny but interesting bit of characterization be explored in the second movie? I hope so.

In Scotland, Midnight and Glaive ambush Wanda Maximoff and Vision. Rogers, Natasha Romanoff and Sam Wilson rescue them, and they take shelter with James Rhodes at the new Avengers Facility. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Maximoff destroy the Mind Stone in his forehead to keep Thanos from retrieving it. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the stone without destroying Vision.

Seeing Captain America is the thrill of this scene. Chris Evans captures the essence of Cap as much as Downey does Iron Man’s. Viewing CA: Civil War is VITAL to understanding the interactions between most of the characters in this and later scenes.

The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call from the Asgardian ship and rescue Thor. He surmises Thanos seeks the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of the Collector at Knowhere. Rocket and Groot accompany Thor to Nidavellir to retrieve a weapon to kill Thanos. There, they and Eitri create Stormbreaker, an enchanted axe. Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis find Thanos at Knowhere with the Reality Stone already in his possession. Thanos kidnaps Gamora, his adoptive daughter, who reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her captive adoptive sister Nebula from torture. Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir, a planet where Red Skull, keeper of the Soul Stone, informs him the stone can only be retrieved by sacrificing someone he loves. Thanos reluctantly throws Gamora to her death, granting him the Soul Stone.

The Guardians provide most of the humor of the movie and it works wonderfully. Most of Thor’s quips are pulled back to his pre-GHWF days: calling Rocket a rabbit, etc. (Gee, a funny comment in keeping with his chraracter? To quote Thor in his previous movie: “What the hell?!”) The humor of Drax, Starlord and Mantis, are so appropriate ad in-character it finally reveals how forced Thor’s “comic” quips (I will never call these exchanges “dialogue”) are. Fortunately, it appears the adult writers threw out the childish ones when the scene shifted to Nidavellir and Thor became the more serious character he was meant to be.

And Nidavellir was exactly as I imagined it to be since the first Thor movie said the nine realms were really nine planets – steampunk on a cosmic scale! Peter Dinklage’s cameo as a dwarf was a highlight – as was making this “dwarf” tower over everyone else!

It was during the Nidavellir scene I realized what was happening. Three groups (the two Avenger splinters and the Guardians) split up and tackle different parts of the problem – holy moley! It’s a Gardner Fox JLA-JSA team-up!

Nebula escapes captivity and requests the remaining Guardians meet her on Titan, Thanos’ destroyed homeworld. Stark and Parker eject Maw from his ship and rescue Strange. Landing at Titan, they meet Quill, Drax, and Mantis. Strange uses the Time Stone to view millions of possible futures and states there is only one in which Thanos loses. The group forms a plan to confront Thanos and remove the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos arrives, justifying his plans to Strange as necessary to ensure the survival of a universe threatened by overpopulation. The group subdues him until Nebula deduces Thanos has killed Gamora. Enraged, Quill retaliates, which breaks the group’s hold on Thanos, and he overpowers them. After Strange surrenders the Time Stone in exchange for Thanos sparing Stark, Thanos departs for Earth.

Another superb battle scene!

Upon arriving in Wakanda, Rogers reunites with Bucky Barnes. The Avengers task Shuri with extracting the Mind Stone. Thanos’ army invades and the Avengers mount a defense alongside King T’Challa and the Wakandan forces. Banner, unable to transform into the Hulk, fights in Stark’s upgraded Hulkbuster armor. Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive on Earth and rally the defenders. Midnight, Obsidian and Glaive are killed and their army is routed. Thanos arrives and retrieves the Mind Stone from Vision, destroying him. Despite being severely wounded by Thor, Thanos activates the complete Infinity Gauntlet and teleports away.

There were prior battle scenes? The fight for Wakanda is so massive and incredible it makes us forget all that came before it. It compares with the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King. Yes, I am comparing this movie to Return of the King.

Awesome. I am using the word in its original sense.

Watch Captain America and Black Panther run ahead of the other warriors. Pure athleticism and a wonderful small bit that will stick with me every time I think of this movie.

Thor’s appearance almost made me stand and cheer. Here is the son of Odin as he should be.

Thanos’ plan comes to fruition as half of all life across the universe disintegrates, including Barnes, Drax, Groot, Mantis, Maximoff, Parker, Quill, Strange, T’Challa, and Wilson. Nebula and Stark remain on Titan, while Banner, M’Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Rogers, Romanoff, and Thor are left on the Wakandan battlefield. Thanos, healed, retreats to a small nipa hut as he watches the sunset in satisfaction.

Omnipotent villains in comics always bugged me. Why doesn’t Thanos just wipe out ALL of the Avengers/Guardians and/or wipe them from existence since he has the power? It will be interesting to see what the remaining heroes do.

In the post-credits scene, Nick Fury transmits a distress signal as he and Maria Hill, amongst others, disintegrate. The device displays a red-and-blue star insignia.

This is what the post-credit scene should be – a tease of thing to come. “James Bond will return”. It introduces (kind of) Captain Marvel.

***

So there it is.

I liked the movie very much but will hold off until the movie is “done” with the second part before I decide on a scale. It is always a thrill to see Chris Evans as Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man –  and since Evans has already said he is “resigning” as Cap we must enjoy them while we can. Both actors have yet to disappoint even if their movies do.

I saw it in 3D. Don’t bother … except for the Wakanda battle the movie is darkly filmed – so much that I had to remove the glasses in some scenes just to see what was going on. Perhaps the lack of lighting helped keep them under budget?

Thanos was an excellent villain – he was not a raving lunatic but determined, pensive and … thoughtful. We have no doubt he thinks he is doing the right thing. Well, perhaps not the RIGHT thing, but the ONLY thing that resolves the problems of the universe as he sees it. Someone has to make the hard decisions, no one else can do it but him. It makes him even scarier…

The plot of infinity War is well-thought-out, the heroes each have their time to shine (which granted is not long). Given the scope of the movie, the action and characterization is VERY well-balanced.

And damn that entire Wakandan battle scene was cool!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

 

Star Wars: the Last Jedi, a review of the third second Star Wars movie…

It was worse than Empire Strikes Back and better than Attack of the Clones…”

“Well, duh … name one sequel that doesn’t fit between those movies.”

Godfather 2.”

“Well, of course, …”

Star Trek, the Wrath of Khan.”

“I said one sequel…”

“And on the other end, Matrix 2, Speed 2, Stayin’ Alive…”

“Shut up.”

***

Star Wars: the Last Jedi has wonderful professional reviews but was raked on Facebook and other media by fans. Perhaps they are a very loud minority, or perhaps Rotten Tomatoes is not a reliable source for the quality of a movie…

Wikipedia has a fine plot synopsis. I will include it here with my thoughts in italics, which contain no spoilers.

The Wikipedia summary (in regular type) contains SPOILERS, so if that bothers you, just read the italics…

***

Resistance fighters led by General Leia Organa evacuate their base when a First Order fleet arrives.

Oh, god, here we go again, I thought at the time … SW: The Force Awakens was a (albeit good) retelling of Star Wars (and yes I said Star Wars, not Episode 3, a New blahblahblah … and now we have the same plot opening as Empire …?). Fortunately, the comparison stopped there …

Following an effective but costly counterattack led by Poe Dameron, the Resistance vessels jump into hyperspace to escape, but the First Order pursues them using a tracking device. Kylo Ren, Leia’s son, destroys the Resistance support fighters, but hesitates to fire at the lead Resistance ship after sensing his mother’s presence.

Ren’s evolution in this movie is a highlight. In Force Awakens, he was a typical brooding slacker. This point of the movie was an interesting development – he did not hesitate to kill his father, but did not fire on his mother (although never mentioned again). This was a consistent theme throughout the movie: could Kylo Ren be redeemed? He gravitates between redemption and the Dark Side. At no point do we cheer him on, but (even up to that certain point we are sure he made his decision with finality) we aren’t sure how his struggle with good and evil will eventually end!

TIE fighters destroy the bridge of the ship, killing several Resistance leaders and incapacitating Leia, leaving Vice Admiral Holdo in command. Disapproving of Holdo’s passive strategy, Poe, Finn, BB-8, and mechanic Rose Tico embark on a secret plan to disable the tracking device.

Fin, the co-star of Force Awakens its POV character, has a much smaller role in this movie – that is, smaller in terms of import and impact in the plot. In fact, his role is almost incidental and could have easily been cut.  His dramatic moment at the end of the movie was well-done, in character, and late in coming.

Meanwhile, Rey has arrived on remote Ahch-To …

Gesundheit

… with Chewbacca and R2-D2 aboard the Millennium Falcon to recruit Luke Skywalker to the Resistance. Disillusioned by the failures of the Jedi, Luke initially refuses, even after learning of Han Solo’s death.

Mark Hamill has recently told the press of his dislike of this Luke Skywalker. I found his nihilistic views very MUCH in character and one of the quieter – and more effective – parts of the movie! I cared more for Luke’s redemption than Kylo Ren’s…

Unbeknownst to Luke, Rey and Kylo begin communicating with each other through telepathic visions.

This developed an emotional link between Rey and Kylo that showed us the battle of the Light and Dark within Kylo. Any battle with the Dark Side within Rey eluded me. Despite Kylo assurances, I could not see Rey turning to the Dark Side, even at the important juncture (no spoilers) in which we the viewers were not supposed to be sure … that part of the movie failed, in my opinion. At no time did we think Rey would turn.

BUT it DID give us insight as to Kylo. Until his final decision, the viewer had no idea what it would be!

Prompted by R2-D2, Luke eventually agrees to teach Rey the ways of the Force. Luke and Kylo give Rey differing accounts of the incident that turned Kylo to the dark side, with Luke confessing that he momentarily contemplated killing Kylo upon sensing that Supreme Leader Snoke had corrupted him, causing Kylo to destroy Luke’s emergent Jedi Order in retaliation.

Adam Driver did a wonderful job showing the scared little boy within Kylo in this scene.

Convinced that Kylo can still be redeemed, Rey leaves Ahch-To …

Gesundheit

… to confront Kylo without Luke. Luke prepares to burn down the Ahch-To …

Take some Claritin, will ya?

… Jedi temple and library, but he encounters Yoda’s Force ghost, who destroys the temple himself and encourages Luke to learn from his failure.

Holdo reveals her plan to discreetly evacuate the remaining Resistance members using small transports. Believing her actions to be cowardly and risky, Poe instigates a mutiny.

Holdo, played by Laura Dern, is another character whose loyalties are unknown until the “very end” – that is, when we are shown her choice. Is she on the side of the First Order or the Resistance or someone else? Is she on the side of the angels?Readers of the Star Wars novels will have no doubt as to her stance, but the rest of us remained unsure until near the end.

Finn, Rose and BB-8 travel to Canto Bight and acquire the help of the hacker DJ, who says he is able to help them disable the tracking device.

This is, to me, the weakest part of the movie. I am still unsure if the hacker that accompanied them was the hacker they were looking for. They found the hacker playing craps with lovely ladies on his arms (they were looking for a man with a certain flower in his lapel) – the hacker they took with them was a fellow prisoner. Was he the real hacker all along? If not, he was VERY good at what he did … did they establish this in the movie? Did I miss it? I had a piece of popcorn husk stuck between my lower left molars since the previews, was it THAT distracting? Marvel Comics will release a comic about Canto Bight that promises to explain things…

Also, the long escape scene was too long. Although Finn and Rose planted the seeds of rebellion in some of the child laborers, and we learn a bit of about Rose’s past and her hatred of this gambling planet … this entre subplot seems tacked on, overlong and unnecessary.

They infiltrate Snoke’s ship, but are captured by Captain Phasma, though BB-8 manages to escape. Meanwhile, Rey lands on the ship, and Kylo brings her to Snoke, who reveals that he controlled the mental connection between her and Kylo as part of a plan to destroy Luke. Ordered to kill Rey, Kylo instead kills Snoke and works together with Rey to kill Snoke’s guards. Kylo invites Rey to rule the galaxy with him, but Rey refuses. Using the Force, they struggle for possession of Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, which splits in two.

A recovered Leia stuns Poe, allowing the evacuation to begin. Holdo remains on the ship to mislead Snoke’s fleet as all others attempt to flee to a nearby old Rebel Alliance base on Crait. DJ reveals the Resistance’s plan to the First Order, and the evacuation transports are targeted with heavy losses; Holdo sacrifices herself by ramming Snoke’s fleet at lightspeed to stop the barrage.

The most incredible scene of the film. I was in awe.

Rey escapes in the chaos, while Kylo declares himself new Supreme Leader. BB-8 frees Finn and Rose, who escape after defeating Captain Phasma, and join the survivors of the evacuation on Crait.

As with the beginning of the movie, comparisons in these scenes to the Battle of Hoth in Empire is unavoidable – by placing this base on a “salt” planet the producers once again asked for the Empire comparisons they should be avoiding…

When the First Order arrives, Poe, Finn, and Rose lead a charge with old speeders. Rey draws the TIE fighters away with the Falcon, while Rose saves Finn from a suicide run against the main enemy cannon, which blasts a hole in the Resistance fortress.

Luke appears and confronts Kylo alone so that the surviving Resistance fighters can escape. Kylo orders the First Order forces to fire on Luke to no effect, then engages Luke in battle himself. Kylo strikes Luke with his lightsaber, only to learn that he has been fighting Luke’s Force projection.

Another failed scene, in my opinion, I guessed Luke’s appearance faster than the “secret” of Sixth Sense. That being said, Luke’s reaction after the barrage of fire on him was laugh-out-loud fun.

Luke defiantly tells Kylo that he will not be the last Jedi, while Rey uses the Force to help the remaining Resistance fighters escape via the Falcon. Back on Ahch-To …

Geshun … oh, never mind.

… an exhausted Luke peacefully dies and becomes one with the Force. Leia reassures everyone that the rebellion has all that is needed to rise again. On Canto Bight, one of the children that helped Finn and Rose escape grabs a broom with the Force and gazes hopefully up into space.

***

END OF SPOILERS

***

Sadness permeates this movie – as opposed to hopelessness and bleakness, which is why most fanboys probably didn’t like it. Every scene with Leia reminds us of the death of Carrie Fisher. Leia may or may not die on screen in this movie, but we know it will be the character’s swan song.

Seeing an older and more cynical Luke Skywalker reminds us of the death of Han Solo – which tells us that any character from the old films might not make it to the end. Will this be Mark Hamill’s swan song, too, as Force Awakens was Harrison Ford’s? The question was pending throughout his every scene.

Last Jedi did a wonderful job hiding the ultimate fate of its grey-shaded characters – particularly Holdo and Kylo Ren. Until the very end, we were unaware of which way they would turn (compared to, say, Darth Vader’s overlong and obvious redemption in Return of the Jedi).

And, by the way, the annoying bits (such as the obviously marketable Porgs) were not onscreen enough to be really annoying (c.f. Ewoks and JarJar), despite some eye-rolling moments – although the scene in which Chewbacca tried to eat one gave me a smirk in the midst of the bleakness.

Speaking of bleakness: Empire Strikes Back was, that is very true; but it also held onto the original movie’s sense of wonder and excitement. Last Jedi was bleak and sad, with no hint of the joy and giddiness of Force Awakens.

For all Last Jedi’s exciting fight scenes, wonderful special effects and well-placed bits of humor, it still had a gauze of sadness and despair. For all the dialogue espousing hope, there was not much feeling of it, even at the end.

It made for a quiet movie, despite the flashy lights and epic soundtrack.

Ye gods, Rogue One was filled with hopelessness, but at least in that movie the victory wasn’t Pyrrhic (and we all know what eventually happened). Here the number of surviving victors could fit into the sitting room of a very-well-known piece of junk.

“We will rebuild the Rebellion,” they vow.

“Will you, really?” we ask at the end.

So, as with Empire, the good guys barely got away and will live to fight in a third movie. When the good guys win (which they will eventually … it’s Star Wars after all) it will be a relief rather than a celebration due to the bleak and desparattion-laden sadness of Last Jedi.

It may be a tough sell …

 

 

“Caddy Shack 2!’

“Shut. Up!”

***

About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Michael G Curry

 

A disjointed review of Justice League …

Only in America can a movie that has made over 200 billion dollars in profit be considered a box-office bomb.

I liked Justice League.

I didn’t love it with giddy glee nor did I hate it so much I demanded of God my 2+ hours back. But I liked it. I might even get the DVD when it comes out.

I saw it over this past weekend (as usual several weeks since it was released) after most of the professional and fanboy reviews were in.

I struggled for some days with this review – I just couldn’t put my finger on what I liked and disliked about it. I think that is because the movie couldn’t decide what it was either.

Justice League suffered from bearing the burden of being both a capstone and a touchstone.

A capstone: the finale of the first phase of the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU) – giving us a conclusion to all that came before it. On that level, it worked: it reconciled the cliffhangers from Batman vs Superman: Superman’s death, Wonder Woman’s place in the DCCU, etc.

And to compare Justice League with the original Avengers movie is an unfair as it is inevitable: Avengers was the capstone of Marvel’s cinematic universe, but did so in a thrilling way – fans (and even non-fans – therein lies the key) were excited by a fun plot with fun characters.

The DCCU has hardly been fun.

Expectations were low for the movie – most assuming it would be the usual fest of ultra-violence and brooding sociopaths with no redemption or hope. A typical Zach Snyder film. (He left the movie after the suicide of his daughter – something that is unimaginable and my deepest sympathies and condolences go to him and his family. I can’t imagine his sadness and am very sorry for his loss. But his movies are still shit.).

Then Joss Whedon “took over” and word spread the tone was lightened and (gasp) bits of humor were injected. By this time Batman vs Superman made only the darkest basement-dwellers look forward to Justice League; while Wonder Woman gave the rest of us comic book fans cautious optimism.

DC’s capstone was satisfying, but only just. There is no avoiding the feeling that DC is struggling in Marvel’s shadow and is constantly in a state of catching up (which it has with rare exception since the 1960s).

Familiar and “new” heroes get together and fight off an alien menace. Sound familiar?

“Yes, but it’s Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman! People will flock to see it!”

Fans will, to be sure. But the rest of us? Are you willing to risk $300 million on that?

It had its great moments: the only shining point of the big battle amongst our heroes was watching Superman’s eye follow the Flash as he approached and the ensuing superspeed slugfest. You just have to see it to understand what that is going on, I won’t spoil it. We know exactly what is going through Flash’s mind at that moment. “Oh shit” was left unspoken and hardly touches how Flash must have felt.

And kudos to the secondary cast – particular Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Jeremy Irons (stealing ever scene) as Alfred.

***

Justice League is also the touchstone of the future DCCU. From here would spring an Aquaman movie, a Flash movie, and a more-in-tune-DCCU-Batman and Superman franchise reboot.

Herein lies the problem – DC is again copying Marvel with Avengers Age of Ulton. It was also a lynchpin, but it spent too much time being a lynchpin and forgot it was supposed to be an enjoyable movie.

Admirably, Justice League avoided some of the problems with Age of Ultron. Time and background was given to the newbies: Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg. But was it enough to make us anticipate their movies? With the large scope of the movie, it may have gotten lost. As with the comics, the stories of the smaller characters are lost compared to the big three. Still, Justice League showed us as much of Aquaman and Flash as Civil War did of Spider-Man, which lead to Homecoming; a success

Another problem with the Flash is the parallel with the excellent handling of the CW Flash. My very first thought when I saw the trailer introducing the Speedster was, “Why not Grant Gustin?” Leave it to DC: not only are they plagued by their failures, but also their successes.

(and by the way, the DCCU is the Spock-with-a-beard universe compared to DC-CW. Gustin’s Flash – even another actor with a comparable personality – would have been an ill-fit. To his credit, Ezra Miller did a great job – he’d have made a great Peter Parker.)

Justice League had other good moments. Batman giving Flash advice: save one person at a time. I wish the movie would have continued with the theme: Flash’s rescue of the Russian family should have reminded us of that.

There’s more: some of the humor was well-placed and in character (a problem that notably plagued Thor: Ragnarok). The only real awkward/ill-placed bit of funny was in the aforesaid rescue of the Russian family. Anyone who knows the name Dostoyevsky probably knows it is not Russian for “Goodbye”.

But DC is not really known for their comedy.  Over the past few decades, they’re not really known for their comic books either…

A disjointed and mixed review for a disjointed and mixed movie. I’d like to discuss it further, would you?

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – a look back on Season Two

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow just completed Season Two. And it will have a Season Three – something that was in doubt this time last year.

Season One was savaged by the critics and all but the most trollish of DC trolls. I liked it, I did. But I wasn’t as giddy about its first season as I was about the first season of Arrow or Flash … read my review by clicking on the link above.

This second season was better, per the critics and the trolls. And indeed it was.

I liked Season Two as well, but I still didn’t love it.

Why?

I have a hard time putting my finger on the why. And I figured out why while writing this review – which was partly my goal.

It was a better show than the prior season– they pruned the cast; the remaining members grew and the new ones were allowed more depth (a smaller cast allows that). They had a variety of Big Bads instead of one. The stories were fair despite the Pez-dispenser-like lessons of history.

Maybe it is unfair to compare it to the joy of watching Flash and Supergirl, where the glee (pardon the pun) of the cast and writers warm the viewers like the sun in spring. However, the show is better than the brooding and plodding Season Five of Arrow, which unfortunately followed its brooding and plodding Season Four.

Put it this way: I watch Flash and Supergirl as soon as I can (I tivo all my shows and watch them later) – usually the next day; with LoT I sometimes wait until the weekend; Arrow and some others (Agents of Shield, as another example) are watched in bundles of two or three episodes at a time because of their glacial story progression.

So LoT came in a distant third this year. The other CW shows have about six more episodes this season, so it is possible for them to blow it and make LoT look like the Mary Tyler Moore Show, but that is doubtful.

Let’s look at the hows and whys this season was better – or worse – than the first:

The cast was trimmed this season. Hawkgirl is gone.  Too bad. Perhaps with this “new” setting of Season Two the character would have been able to do more than mourn the death of Carter Hall and be the constant captive of Vandal Savage. The actress Ciara Renée deserved better.

Arthur Darvill had other commitments during the season so Rip Hunter was written out of most of the show. I thought it would be the death knell but it actually helped. Sara Lance grew into the role of the captain of our crew. Rip’s eventual return just showed us how crowded the cast was – we and Rip realized he was … well … not needed anymore. I hope he pops up from time to time.

The loss of Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold was also a blow, or so I thought. Here was the best character of Season One (Mick Rory, now no longer Snart’s sidekick, steals every scene like the thief he is. The only good thing about Wentworth Miller leaving the show was Dominic Purcell’s ascendancy. He is wonderful – Rory was meant to be two-dimensional and ends up being the most well-rounded character of the show!).

Snart, Hunter and Hawkgirl were replaced by Steel and Vixen – two characters who started off in comics of the 1970s but did not really come into their own popularity until the 1980s. They helped provide some missing muscle and exposition (Steel was an historian and Vixen knew where to find this Season’s MacGuffin). They began a more believable romance than last year’s Atom-Hawkgirl coupling.

The Season starts out promising: the Legends’ job is to find time aberrations and set things straight: zombies in the Civil War, Albert Einstein kidnapped by Nazis. They confront the Justice Society (the handling of their roster caused quite a kerfuffle amongst the DC purists). Then the Big Bads and this season’s major MacGuffin are introduced:

The Legion of Doom consists of past bad guys from the Arrowverse – Eobard Thawn, trying to save his existence from being destroyed; Malcolm Merlyn – John Barrowman sleepwalking through this worn-out character; Damien Darhke, the Big Bad from Arrow Season 4, again played by Neal McDonough who smirked and smarmed as thoroughly as he did in Arrow. After 20 episodes there and 10 here, I think the audience has been sated with Darkhe, thank you. Wentworth Miller was touted as a member of the Legion, but he was only in the last three episodes or so.

legends-of-tomorrow-season-2-episode-8-the-chicago-way

The MacGuffin was the Spear of Destiny – a major prop in the DC comic book universe and a nice addition here – the spear the Roman soldier used to pierce the side of Jesus. In the comics, whosoever held the spear would rule the world. Hitler possessed it and prevented Superman and the other Justice Society members from going to Europe and kicking his ass (hence the reasoning behind why Superman, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern and others didn’t simply … go to Europe and kick his ass).

In LoT the Spear of Destiny can alter reality – Thawne wants it to create a universe in which his ancestor lived and thus he continued to exist. The Justice Society took the Spear and hid it throughout history. Thus creating the plot thread throughout the rest of the show, leading to a final big battle at the season’s end.

The season finale seemed almost tacked on. They go back to a previous adventure in World War One to change their eventual defeat that allows the Legion to take the spear – thus breaking the #1 temporal law – don’t go back and meet yourself (which some of the members had already done in Season One, but I assume, like Star Trek 5, we are to pretend that never happened).

Odd that Season Two only lasted 17 episodes instead of the usual 22 or 23, which may explain why the season finale seemed so “tacked on” – now that I bring it up, this plot thread could have been completed two or three shows before even that … heaven forfend they do some done-in-one episodes as filler. Subtract the obvious filler – the Jonah Hex redo and the cross-over with the other Arrowverse shows and we have only 15 episodes. Couldn’t the other 7 shows simply be well-done stand-alone episodes to finish out the season and prepare us for any changes in Season Three?

They COULD have done some fun single-episode time-travel shows. In my primer (the link is above) I mentioned they were entering into Doctor Who territory: going to different times and meeting the famous and infamous. They did that (George Washington, etc.), but it didn’t quite click.

The budget is tight on the show, I know. Which is why Firestorm rarely appears (and why wasn’t Victor Garber given more to do? After he revealed his daughter as a time aberration and turned over command to Sara Lance, he practically disappeared. Fortunately, he was excellent in the Flash’s musical episode!).

Brandon Routh was demoted from the eccentric he played in Flash down to the flightiness of last season to now being an idiotic man-child. Brandon Routh and Ray Palmer deserve better. He and Stein should be the geniuses of the series; like Cisco and Winn, creating the weekly MacGuffins to help defeat the bad guy.

On the other hand, Franz Drameh’s Jefferson Jackson was promoted from last season’s wise-ass kid to the engineer. He should be helping the geniuses Palmer and Stein with the mechanical side of the MacGuffin-making.

***

OK, so what was it about Season Two that I did not like? While I still haven’t quite put my finger on it, I do have some ideas to heal the show’s ills:

The Berlanti method is growing thin. After five seasons of Arrow, three in Flash, and one in LoT, the Season-long Big Bad story arc is an idea whose time is over. Do what is being done in Supergirl and make the Big Bad only a major recurring (not constant) villain – as they did with Lillian Luthor/Argus and Rhea (Mon-El’s mother). Weren’t you tired of Thawne snatching victory away from the Legends at the end of every episode?

Go back to fixing time aberrations. Not just on earth but through the universe. If you are going to emulate a TV show, you can do worse than Doctor Who. Introduce Kanjar Ro as an intergalactic tyrant. Introduce Krona as a time-meddler (he would make a good Big Bad AND be a nice way to FINALLY introduce the Green Lantern Corps into the Arrowverse)

Make “small” story arcs. The only good thing Agents of Shield has done in three years is having two separate story arcs this season – Ghost Rider for the fall and LMD for the spring.

And although the budget is not huge, PLEASE hire an historian. A real one. Nothing ruins a good story when you know the very premise is wrong. I realize this isn’t PBS, but stop using a paragraph or two from Wikipedia to get the gist of your background material.

For example: In one episode they had to find JRR Tolkien in the trenches of World War One. Tolkien knew a possible location to the tomb of Sir Gawain that could lead the Legends to a vial of the Jesus’ blood which could be used to destroy the Spear of Destiny … that lived in the house that Jack built. The Legends knew this because of a book Tolkien wrote about Sir Gawain. No such book exists – he wrote a translation of a lay of Sir Gawain, but not a treatise. And not during/before WWII…

While searching for him, they overheard a sergeant yelled “Fool of a Tolkien” to a sick soldier. Aha! This must be JRR! And sure enough …

The line was an homage to the line “Fool of a Took!” from Fellowship of the Ring. I bristled when I heard the line. It took away from Tolkien’s ability as a writer. It implied that he did not create the line – he just used what other people did. He did not. That is wrong.

“Lighten up,” you might say, “it was just a fun line.”

No it wasn’t. It was disrespectful. Same as when the Legends met George Lucas and the characters ended up in a pre-replica of the trash compactor scene. As with the Tolkien quotes, it diminished the genius and the originality of Lucas’ idea – a young lad and some friends are whisked away from their home by a quirky wizard to go fight a dark lord and his minions who are bent on ruling the … oh…

Never mind …

But it insults our intelligence as it insults the creativity of the historical guests (this is the same problem I have with Forest Gump or the “Marvin Berry” scene in Back to the Future).

Knock it off. It turns idols into thieves and it’s a short-cut by piss-pour writers for a cheap laugh.

***legends-of-tomorrow-season-2-aruba-slice-600x200

As I hoped, writing this little opinion piece has revealed what nags me about the show: if Legends of Tomorrow weren’t connected to the comic book characters I read and loved as a kid, I would not be interested in watching this show.

Compare that to, say, the superb first season of Arrow. I’d have loved that season even without the superhero lineage.

(Whereas Flash and Supergirl are too inextractibly linked to their comic books to say that. Were anyone to make those two shows renaming their leads they would face a copyright lawsuit faster than you can say “Shazam”. That’s a great line if you know the history of comic book litigation…)

But I repeat – I would likely not watch LoT if not for the DC roster. The stories and characters may not be great – but it’s the Atom! And the Justice Society! It may insult my intelligence – but there’s Jonah Hex!

***

So I still like the show. Perhaps the reason it gets under my skin so is that with some really simple (and inexpensive) tweaks it could be so much better. Instead of being fun in a frat-boy-“that-was-cool-wasn’t-it” way it could be fun AND thrilling. Season Two was an improvement over Season One. Season Three could be better still!

I cheer for the show – I really am rooting for it to do well; to be better! Stop emulating the storytelling-style of Arrow and Flash. You don’t need to. Do shorter story arcs! Do solo stories focusing on only one or two characters! When they meet real life legends – let them remain legends, not accidents.

Don’t emulate others. Be different.

Most legends are…

 

Original Material Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

 

Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders.  Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.

 

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).