Thursday, December 14, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x09: "Slave To Memory"


Written by Joshua Allen & Dianne Houston
Directed by Sanaa Hamri

Cookie (to Lucious, re Diana): "We got one shot to put this bitch down for good."

It's been building up for long enough and as fun as the DuBois lot have been as antagonists, this probably was the right moment to take them down for good with one of them dying and the other facing public disgrace and arrest to boot.

I loved that in spite of all the protocol that Diana undertook to keep the Lyons out of the Captain's Ball, she still couldn't succeed in having her fancy event go off without a hitch as Lucious and Cookie got to Angelo, made him sign a confession and then gatescrashed the event as Cookie delivered a powerful blow to Diana's social standing within the community.

Having all of Diana's crimes against the Lyon family revealed to her society pals was one way to bruise her ego but also having her arrested for Bella's abduction was another. While I'm sure we'll see her again in some capacity in the second half of the season, this was a glorious takedown for a character who was delightfully villainous but it wasn't just Diana who got her just desserts.

There was something deeply satisfying in seeing Lucious beating the crap out of Angelo after getting him to sign a confession but having Jamal inadvertently kill him to save Warren was another strong moment of the episode. I am glad to see Angelo killed off, even if it's left Jamal in something of a dire situation when the show returns in the Spring.

As for Warren, I think he more than redeemed himself in this episode and despite some justified anger, you could tell that Jamal still cares about him as well and given that Warren basically hung his own family out to dry, getting in with the Lyons or getting out of dodge full stop are probably his only options right now.

Of course it wasn't just the DuBois clan who suffered here too. Hakeem was able to get his revenge on Anika in a calm, collected manner by getting Bella off her and considering the crap Anika has pulled, this was a long time coming as well. How the show is going to keep her around for the remaining of the season, I'm not sure.

The rest of the episode then saw Shyne paying Andre a visit, desperate for the latter to keep his mouth shut, only for Andre to actually reveal to Lucious about his role in the car bomb from last season. However given that the episode ended with Lucious being snatched by Claudia, I think the newly back Lyon patriarch has bigger problems to deal with.

- Becky is pregnant and according to Eddie's ex-wife, Giselle, they're also broke/fleeced by a Ponzi scheme, so he'll be sticking around for a while longer.
- No Tiana and Tory for this one and Porscha didn't really do anything of consequence either.
- Chronology: Yet another version of Jamal/Hakeem's Love Is A Drug but also Andre's opening dream sequence number, Superstar, which was fantastic.
- Chronology: From where the previous episode more or less left off.

Slave To Memory served as a strong mid-season finale. This season has been pretty strong but I'm glad the show is closing down on the DuBois storyline, though I'm hoping that Claudia's Misery style arc with Lucious isn't overly prolonged.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Review of Empire's 4x08: "Cupid Paints Blind"


Written by Diane Ademu-John & Carlito Rodriguez
Directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

Pamela (to Andre): "You have got to be the dumbest criminal in the history of crime. Did you really think that you would get away with it?"

That I genuinely did not see coming. I knew something was going to be off with Andre and Pamela's relationship and naturally assumed that she was working for Diana DuBois but this twist was something else altogether. 

There was always going to be a consequence for Andre's therapist interfering with his meds but to have him imagine a girlfriend who he then imagined killing after she threatened to arrest him for his car bomb confession was pretty mind blowing for the show. Diana's meddling really did affect Andre both last and worst it would seem.

I guess in retrospect it might have been a bit obvious that Pamela wasn't real as she only ever really had scenes with Andre but it doesn't stop the reveal itself from delivering a fatal blow as both Cookie and Lucious have to witness Andre break down in the fashion that he did. If this doesn't ignite the old Lucious, I'm not sure what really will.

This episode alone it was mostly Cookie doing the heavy lifting against Diana. She got Thirsty to spot which one of Diana's bodyguards wasn't beside her while also paying Warren a visit and making a spectacle out of giving Diana back her mother's ring. At least with Warren, Cookie didn't have to do much in order to get him to co-operate.

Speaking of Warren, when Angelo wasn't taking pleasure in his bruises and Cookie wasn't pointing a gun at him, Jamal was brooding over his vocals on that particular song before recording a new version with Hakeem as the latter got some introspection on how to be a parent from Shyne of all people. Much as I'm not on the love train for Shyne, I will admit that this episode utilised him pretty well by giving us some more into his background.

Of course when we weren't dealing with present day problems, there were some more flashbacks between Cookie and Poundcake in prison as the latter gave birth and had her baby taken away from her. I've really been enjoying the prison flashbacks this season, even if they don't feel too relevant to what the episodes are trying to convey. I think we all know how fiercely protective of her sons Cookie is without flashbacks reinforcing them, though they're still a welcome treat.

- Tiana stood her ground and gave Hakeem a much needed slap this week. Shyne also has three different kids from three different women.
- No Becky, Porsha or Tory for this episode.
- Standout music: Jamal and Hakeem's Love Is A Drug and Tiana's Let Me Rock.
- Chronology: Not long from where the previous episode left off.

Cupid Paints Blind certainly delivered the biggest twist this season and overall, it was a stunning episode to boot. With Cookie firmly out for blood and Andre suffering the worst of Diana's machinations, I can't wait to see what the next episode will bring to the table.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Friday, December 08, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x11: "Queen Takes Knight"


Written by John Stephens
Directed by Danny Cannon

Gordon (to Sofia): "This is about revenge for me killing Mario."

Exactly this time last year, Gordon's bull in a china shop method of doing things ended up with Mario Falcone being killed. One year later, Carmine Falcone finally bit the bullet and his daughter Sofia managed to achieve what Barbara kind of did last year by becoming Queen of Gotham and taking Oswald out of the picture for now.

Sofia playing the long game in itself wasn't the shocker here. No, we've known that from the first appearance that she was out to usurp Oswald and that her feelings for Jim were false but here, after all of her little plans coming together was she able to bask in the fact that she made an even bigger fool out of James than she did with Oswald.

You got to give Sofia her due - she really did play both Gordon and Oswald and both of them deserved it in their own way. I'm not entirely sure how either one of them will get out of their current predicaments - Oswald locked in Arkham for "killing" Martin and Gordon running the GCPD as a false hero but either way, it seems that Sofia is only just beginning with her takeover of the city.

This show's writing for female characters has not always been it's strongest with Selina up until this point the only consistently well written female character of the bunch but this season alone has been an improvement. The formation of the Sirens with Barbara, Tabitha and Selina was a great move, Leslie as a more benevolent crime lady in the Narrows has greatly helped that character, Harper's been a solid recurring presence in the GCPD and despite behind the scenes chaos, it also seems like Ivy herself will finally get more prominent on the show to boot. That in itself is satisfying as the little speech Sofia gave about Gordon's collective screw ups to be honest.

Having Sofia essentially going into Hangman mode in this episode was something of a blast. She faked it with the neck brace and wheelchair for a bit and she was pretty cold in revealing that she had her own father murdered and was the one responsible for bringing Pyg into the city in the first before also killing the latter. Now this is how you write a female villain, people.

Of course when the episode wasn't having Sofia strip away both Gordon and Oswald's power, we also saw the latter become acquainted with Jerome in Arkham and going by the trailer for the second half of the season, those two are going to be quite the team. After losing Zsasz to Sofia, Oswald could use just about anyone right now as a friend, even one as even more deranged as Jerome it would seem.

Moving things along, the episode also had some more poignant stuff to boot. Tabitha resorted to brute force to try and get Grundy to remember who he was as Butch, only to not stick around as the guy was starting to remember while Bruce and Alfred had a physical scrap that resulted in the latter being fired. Amidst all the other chaos, these two moments also sublimely delivered. The less said about Nygma's newfound crush on Leslie though, the better. Let's nip that little one in the bud, shall we?

- Bullock appeared in this episode just so he could resign. His friendship with Jim also seems to be over for now too.
- No confirmation date as to when the second half of the season will air or what the title is for it yet.
- No Leslie or Lucius in this one but we did get to see that both Ivy and Ras will be interacting with Bruce soon again.
- Chronology: Not long from where Things That Go Boom left off.

Queen Takes Knight was a strong mid-season finale, arguably one of the strongest the show has done. Sofia really has stepped up fantastically as a villain and with so much set up for the second half, it'll be interesting to see how and when she'll eventually lose her grip on the city but for now, she really has managed to best both Gordon and Oswald.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, December 07, 2017

My Review of Legends Of Tomorrow's 3x09: "Beebo The God Of War"


Written by Grainne Godfree & James Eagan
Directed by Kevin Mock

Beebo: "Beebo hungry."

Every time I think this show can't possibly get away with pulling off something even dafter than before, they manage to pull it off yet again. For this festive themed delight, who would've thought that a clear substistute for Elmo/Furby would actually make it's way into becoming a Norse God and causing some proper chaos?

The episode opened with the younger Stein from 1992 wanting to get the last Beebo for Lily for Hanukkah, which he managed to do before winding up in 1000 AD and getting himself captured by a group of Vikings who then deemed Beebo to be their new war god, meaning that the Legends along with Ava's help had to swoop and retrieve the huggable toy, only for things to go their usually pear shaped way of things.

I did like the Viking woman who seemed determined to believe in Beebo's power as a god, even if her brother seemed more sceptical while the Legends themselves were having fun mingling with the not so natives before Mick's quest for alcohol ended up blowing their cover and Mick himself incinerated poor Beebo on the spot.

By doing this, not only did we see a cuddly toy get scorched to bits but it gave Damien Darhk and Nora a chance to rock up in this piece, have the former play Odin and then have Sara go through a gamut of losing scenarios before the gang properly banded together to take out Damien before Sara also got a rather chilling glimpse of Mallus to boot. The cherry on top though was Ray seizing control of Beebo and giving a spirited lecture on global warming to Vikings.

Of course when the gang weren't dealing with Beebo and Darhk this week, there was also the younger Stein and the feelings that the gang had towards Stein's recent death. I'm not surprised that Jax tried and ultimately failed to alter his friend's fate but I absolutely loved the scenes he had with younger Stein and his family along with Sara and Zari about the situation as well.

Right now, I'm hoping that Jax's departure is a temporary one but if it's not, then this was a heartfelt and lovely exit for the character. Jax has grown a lot in the three seasons we've seen him and his goodbye speeches were lovely to boot, especially with his last moment with Sara.

Of course this episode had a lot of pleasant surprises in it. Ava in her previous appearances has been rather stiff, character wise but here, she literally had her hair down, willingly defied Time Bureau orders, took Sara's concerns about Mallus seriously and even got stuck in with the main storyline of the week. It's obvious that Sara and Ava are going to be an item by the time we get into the second half of the season and I'm perfectly fine with that.

As for Citizen Cold - he cracked me up in this one. Leo's attempts of getting the gang to channel their grief through a Stein puppet was hilarious but his scenes with Mick as the two bickered and then came to an understanding of each other was another highlight of this episode. I really want Leo to stay for more than another episode. I've missed his presence on the show.

Then the episode with John Constantine rocking up on the Waverider asking for Sara's help with a little girl and a demon that knows Sara's name. Constantine is another character I'm delighted to see on board the show and one whose presence I can't wait to see even more when the show returns in the new year.

- Victor Garber's name is out of the credits and Matt Ryan wasn't listed as I assume they wanted to maintain Constantine's appearance as a surprise.
- Rip is now in a prison due to his actions from the previous episode. Ava mentioned that Damien and Nora have taken out a lot of the Time Bureau agents. Was Gary one of them?
- The gang know about Grodd being taken by Damien as well, which was nice. I also liked the scene with Jax and Zari playing video games.
- Chronology: 1992 Central City and 1000 AD and we had a Christmas meal on the Waverider as well.

This season so far has been a lot of fun with a great underlying threat in Mallus looming around and for a mid season finale, Beebo The God Of War was excellent. It gave us closure for Stein, hopefully wrote Jax out for a little while, had some beautiful character moments, priceless humour and a chain smoking bisexual occult detective pop up at the end. Is it February 2018 yet?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Monday, December 04, 2017

My Review of Batman 66: Batman Vs. Two Face (2017)


Written by Michael Jelenic & James Tucker
Directed by Rick Morales

Robin (re Two Face/Harvey Dent): "His friendship means a lot to you, doesn't it?"
Batman: "Yes, but not as much as yours does, Boy Wonder. I wouldn't want anyone else at my side in this never-ending fight against crime."

In the last fortnight, I purchased the complete Batman 66 series and am currently about three quarters into the show's second season, so I decided to put it on pause to catch up with Adam West's final outing as the Caped Crusader as this second animated movie decided to add a few characters not seen in the TV series but added into the comics in recent years as the main antagonist.

First of all, I have to admit that I do find William Shatner to be rather divisive as a person. The guy might be the original Captain Kirk but he can be a bit hit and miss as an actor and his Twitter handle at times is a mess but for the role of Bruce's friend, Harvey Dent and Batman's latest enemy, Two Face, his casting certainly helped to generate some hype here.

Dent's formation into Two Face has usually been at the hand of Sal Maroni, though Batman: The Animated Series had Rupert Thorne play his role in that transformation but here, it's mainly down to Hugo Strange (Jim Ward) coming up with a machine to extract the badness out of villains such as Joker (Jeff Bergman), Penguin (William Salyers), Riddler (Wally Wingert) as well as Egghead and Mr Freeze, only for the machine to backfire and cause Harvey to become Two Face and that's before the opening credits even rolled.

Then the movie takes a bit of a time jump where Two Face has committed some crimes, has been caught and Harvey has seemingly been cured of his dual personality (physically at least) while Batman and Robin (Burt Ward) were doing battles with both King Tut (Wingert) and Bookworm (Bergman), only to realise that Harvey wasn't cured after all.

The one thing I did like about this movie was the rivalry between Dick/Robin and Harvey Dent for Bruce/Batman's approval. Aside from using it as a means of developing Bruce's friendships with both Dick and Harvey, it also provided some reasonable conflict between the Caped Crusaders before Robin was temporarily infected with the same condition that Harvey as the latter then revealed that he planned to give Gotham the same dual personality he had.

Of course when Two Face wasn't bringing out the city's bad side, he also managed to capture the Caped Crusaders and planned to auction off their identities to the highest bidder, while also revealing that he knew who Batman and Robin really were himself. However in a bit of a twist (but not really), the Dynamic Duo had at least one villain on their side - Catwoman (Julie Newmar).

In the previous movie, she had been something of a grudging ally to the duo and in this one, when she wasn't receiving prison visits from Batman and escaping from the slammer, she actually bought the guys off Two Face before helping to beat up the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Shame, Clock King, Freeze and Egghead to boot. The end scene then when she won another Batman auction definitely proved this film was as accommodating for Bat/Cat shippers as the previous one was.

As for Two Face, I do think this movie did a good job of exploring the character's inner battle between embracing his criminal side and Harvey Dent fighting for his identity back. It was a bit convenient that once Dent had returned, Two Face's knowledge of the Dynamic Duo's identity would be gone but perhaps the comics could somewhat reverse this outcome if Harvey ever becomes his bad self again.

- Along with Hugo Strange and Two Face, this movie also gave us Dr Harleen Quinzel (Sirena Itwin), who was an assistant to the former while also breaking the Joker out of prison in a scene for the Blu Ray DVD.
- Lee Meriweather appeared in the movie as Lucille Diamond but also managed to get a scene dressed as Catwoman to boot.
- Early drafts for the movie were to include both Poison Ivy and Wonder Woman, but alas, neither character appeared here.
- There's elements of Two-Face Strikes Again and The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne in this movie along with the fact that this was an idea for a lost episode in the series itself.
- Adam West: 1928-2017. Rest Well, Bright Knight. Lovely tribute there.

Batman Vs. Two Face marks a poignant end to an era to a more playful version of the Caped Crusaders. While it's not quite as strong as last year's Return Of The Caped Crusaders, there's still plenty to enjoy with it's successful capturing of the TV series spirit and the animation itself being rather on point to boot.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Titans - First Look At Brenton Thwaites As Robin

I got it wrong. It seems like Brenton Thwaites is going to be portraying the Boy Wonder rather than the grown up counterpart in the first season of DC's streaming service series, Titans.


The series, due to air online in 2018 released a photo of Brenton as Dick Grayson/Robin last night and it seems going by the reaction, that people are rather pleased with this look. While it would've been nice to have had a body shot one (as well as pictures of Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy), it does seem like they've got the look of the Boy Wonder rather on point. It also makes me wonder if we're going to see over the course of the first season Grayson transition from Robin to Nightwing, with the latter factoring into a likely second season.

The series pilot is written by Geoff Johns (current DC movie universe), Greg Berlanti (the current Arrow universe) and Akiva Goldsman, who also penned Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. The director or episode count for the series has yet to be confirmed but given this reveal, I'm guessing a lot more information will be soon coming regarding the upcoming series.

Press Release: http://deadline.com/2017/12/titans-brenton-thwaites-robin-dc-superhero-series-fphoto-1202218594/

Titans will stream on DC's streaming service in 2018.

My Review of Empire's 4x07: "The Lady Doth Protest"


Written by Matt Pyken & Eric Haywood
Directed by Karen Gaviola

Cookie (to Diana): "We coming for you, bitch!"

At this rate, Cookie, you might want to get a move on with that. Sure, Jamal gave Warren something of a savage beat down when he realised the latter was Diana's nephew and working to destroy his family but that only played into Diana's hands after the failed attempt of getting Jamal to partake in a threesome.

I did feel for Warren in this episode. Okay, he was a little crass with the way he was trying to initiate a threesome (first a hot bartender, then another hot guy off a cruising app) but over the last few episodes, it's been clear that his feelings for Jamal have been genuine, so Diana ended up screwing him over as much as the Lyons with her latest stunt to boot.

Right now, the next episode needs to give us some kind of a victory for the Lyons because we've had more than enough of Diana actually getting the best of them that it's going to lose a bit of momentum soon. I do however find it interesting that although Lucious is essentially his old self that he wasn't able to step in this week, though Cookie should be able to handle Diana herself.

When we weren't having this particular reveal displayed out so publicly, Andre also had a freak out of his own when he thought that Pamela might have been dead. Instead she later turned up alive and also panicked that she staged another person's death, which seemed to intrigue Andre. I'm finding this relationship pretty interesting to watch but I'm also waiting for the shoe to drop and have Pamela have some connection with the DuBois family at this point.

As for the rest of the episode, Porscha finally stood up to Cookie when Eddie's recording methods basically alienated everyone at Empire. I thought this plot was actually pretty decent and it was nice to see Porscha make a stand but it was also resolved a little too quickly as well, even if Cookie did finally treat Porscha with some basic respect.

- We had more flashbacks of Cookie's time in prison where she helped her rival Poundcake with her pregnancy when she wasn't getting divorce papers from Lucious.
- The writers are so setting up Anika and Angelo as a couple, aren't they?
- Standout music: Jamal  and Tory's versions of Light It All Up.
- Chronology: Not long from where the previous episode left off.

The Lady Doth Protest isn't the strongest episode we've had but it had it's moments. It's a shame that Jamal and Warren's relationship has come to the messy end that it did but it was inevitably going to go bad. I did like the Cookie flashbacks in this one though.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Friday, December 01, 2017

My Review of Gotham's 4x10: "Things That Go Boom"


Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt
Directed by Louis Shaw Milito

Oswald (to Sofia/the Sirens): "You wanted a war. You got one!"

As wars go, not sure this was the most explosive one we've had just yet. This week, the pretense was dropped and Sofia made her intention to dethrone Oswald pretty clear and the rest of the episode was just the two of them trying to best either with both Gordon and the Sirens throwing their own spanners into the work along with Martin for good measure.

For those who hated the idea of Oswald and Sofia being close, this episode must have been a godsend to them. Oswald reacted predictably by trying to have Sofia tortured by a creepy dentist while Sofia managed to blackmail her way into not getting the cavity search from hell before getting snatched by the Sirens in broad daylight.

Having Sofia paired with Barbara, Tabitha and Selina is actually a good move and their plan to use Oswald's affections for Martin (whom Sofia had actually manipulated into telling Oswald about her and Gordon kissing) was actually a decent move until it appeared that Oswald was willing to kill a child in order not be weakened.

The reveal that Oswald just faked Martin's death was a good move as even killing a child would be a no no for Oswald. Oswald spent most of the episode being steps behind Sofia before getting a clue how to play her at the end of this one. As for Sofia, she's got the Sirens under her thumb for now while at the same time having lost Gordon as a pawn too. It'll be interesting to see how Oswald and Sofia's war ends, which I assume it might do next week but not before another player gets added into the mix.

Of course when this episode wasn't about Oswald and Sofia going head to head with each other, there was also Gordon trying to learn more about Professor Pyg. Having the latter open the episode with a death of a fellow inmate before ending it with a guard was a good way to show that Arkham wouldn't be a deterrent for Lazlo and I loved that he slipped when he talked in his real accent to Gordon. Having Pyg on the loose should add to the chaos for next week's mid-season finale.

Last but not least, we got more Narrows stuff. This week both Leslie and Nygma banded together to bring a rival neighborhood leader to heel and as a subplot, it worked well enough. I've quite liked this grudging friendship of sorts with Lee and Ed and that the former was honest about the latter being physically fine. For a moment, it almost as though Ed could possibly turn a corner but then we got a glimmer of the Riddler, so we can all guess what's going to happen next.

- How did Oswald not seemingly know where Barbara was before her phone call? She's been in the same place since her reappearance at the start of the start.
- Standout music: Pyg made sure we'll never listen to Ave Maria the same way again.
- No Bruce and Alfred this week or Bullock. I hope the latter is back soon.
- Chronology: Not long since the events of Let The Eat Pie.

Things That Go Boom was a bit more of a tiny boom than a big explosion. Next week looks like it will be the real war as Oswald and Sofia battle for the city while Gordon blunders everything. There's also the fact that Pyg is on the loose and a certain return to also look forward to as well.

Rating: 7 out of 10