The Flash 3-5

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The Flash has, quickly, become one of my favorite shows on television. Grant Gustin has blown me away as Barry Allen. I’m not saying he’s the next Daniel Day Lewis, but he is a perfect fit for the character. As opposed to say, Stephen Amell, who doesn’t really encapture the Oliver Queen from the comics. I love Arrow, but if I don’t see at least a goatee before season five, I’ll commit seppuku.

The episode with Felicity was perfect. We meet Captain Cold, one of my favorite DC villains, played by an actor from a show that I enjoyed reasonably well. The episode before had the guy who could turn into gas and kill people. It was relatively entertaining but had one of the weaker post credit Dr. Wells scenes. “Plastique” featured General Elling played by the great Clancy Brown. Hopefully he has a nice arc, his back and forth between Dr. Wells was a thing of beauty. They have great chemistry, and honestly, Dr. Wells can do no wrong at this point. Tom Cavanagh does such a great job with this role. The way he balances the mentor and creepy secret antagonist is a thing of beauty.

My heart stopped during the latest post credit scene. Obviously Dr. Wells was involved. But we also had our first glimpse of the one and only Grodd, albeit before he became intellectually a genius. I’m incredibly excited to see how they handle that character. No need to rush him, and the special effects have been out of this world so far. I have all the faith in the world of the show runners, they’ve certainly earned my trust.

I look forward to this show more and more every week. Hence why two weeks ago I threw my first temper tantrum in fifteen years when they dropped the bomb that there would be no new episode. That was a bigger disaster than the particle accelerator’s explosion.

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Arrow 3-5

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A Thea focused episode, revenge for Sara in the next, and a special origin story for our favorite hacker. That right there is a triple threat. A triple threat focused on some hot babes. It’s a shame that as good as this show is, I’ve sunk to a new low in focusing on the women. What can I say, I’m a single guy in his mid twenties.

Malcolm and Thea have bonded quick during their training filled vacation. Is anyone else curious as to why Malcolm would leave that place? He has a daughter, blah blah blah. It’s 2014. They can Skype if need be. He had a mansion on Corto Maltese for crying out loud. The man had paradise and threw it in our faces.

Laurel is inching closer and closer to becoming the new Canary. Taking boxing lessons, getting tough with her coworkers, taking a punch from a street thug. I feel like Dewey Cox’s father, but the wrong kid died. We should have Sara in our lives right now, not this wanna-be.

It seems like Ollie has been pushed to the background so far this season. Thea is becoming a bad ass, the League of Assassins (and Ras) are becoming more prominent, Diggle is a new father, Felicity is hanging out with ex-Superman, while at the same time being his worst employee, and Roy is about to get a seemingly important arc. Yet Ollie is there as he’s always been. Brooding, serious, still the Wild Bill Hickok of archery.

While I think The Flash has been the stronger show thus far, Arrow is still one of the best dramas currently on TV.

Arrow – “Sara”

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The majority of this episode was spent searching for Sara’s killer. With some help from Diggle and Felicity, the gang narrows it down to Simon Lacroix, or more commonly known as, Komodo. One of the more bad ass comic villains, my expectations for the episode sharply rose.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much time allotted to the archer. Disappointing, but ultimately we’ll be seeing more of him in the future. He happened to not be responsible for Sara’s death, leading to a dead end for Ollie. It felt like this whole episode was a platform for the actors to show off their acting abilities. In my opinion, that didn’t turn out to be a good thing. I didn’t buy how upset Felicity was. She knew Sara for what, half a season? Diggles is my main man, but aside from dropping that, “Don’t die down here” line to Oliver, his acting can be hard to watch. Stephen Amell has come a long way from the first season, there’s no denying that. But it’s not like we’re watching the next Brando out there.

Poor acting rant aside, this episode had a fantastic ending. We had our first glance at Thea, who is training in some awesome house with Malcolm Merlyn. She now has Arya Stark hair, which to me raises her hotness to a level I didn’t think possible. It’ll definitely make the loss of Sara easier.

The flashbacks again left me wary. I’m not sure what the point was of Tommy showing up. There are over twenty episodes in a season, filler episodes are going to happen. It is a testament to how good the show is when a filler episode consists of an awesome “Catch and Shoot” arrow move by Ollie. Regardless, I am excited for the Thea centric episode next week.

The Flash – “Fastest Man Alive”

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It’s amazing, two episodes in and already The Flash knows what kind of show it wants to be. The show runners understand this character. That’s half the battle when you’re adapting a super hero to live action, or any medium really. I could tell right when Barry cuts off from his Arrow-like voice over, “…Let’s get to the good stuff”. And he’s absolutely right. We want to see Barry rescuing a bunch of people from a burning building or sweeping them out of the line of gunfire.

Our villain of the day turned out to be Danton Black, aka Multiplex. He could create, you guessed it, multiple versions of himself. Barry ends up saving the day, as yet another one of his comic foes dies. Unlike Arrow, this show has no problem with killing off the villains for good. Then again it’s a bit premature for me to claim, this being only the second episode. Joe West gives Barry the support he needs, in defeating bad guys and in respect to his father’s innocence. A few thoughts on our fatherly figure this far…

  1. I can’t stress enough how clutch a hire Jesse L Martin has been. While he hasn’t been the biggest surprise (a certain Scrubs alum holds that title), he is definitely carrying his weight.
  2. That weight specifically being the flashbacks. I hope this isn’t a CW trend. They work well in Arrow, and while I’m worried about the move to Hong Kong, I think there are still stories to be told in that manner. On The Flash, it’s absolutely grating. Martin is keeping afloat every scene with that child actor. The dialogue probably isn’t great, but that kid isn’t helping. I have to imagine they’ll continue the rest of the season, for better or worse.
  3. Does anyone else feel like Detective West does a poor job at parenting his daughter? Okay, not a poor job, but definitely focus’ more on Barry. I mean, how does he not realize his daughter and his partner are sleeping together? I’m definitely over thinking this one…

The final fight between Flash and Multiplex was visually outstanding (for CW standards). It’s the second straight week I’ve been impressed with the special effects. Compared to the summer blockbuster The Expendables, this show knocks it out of the park. The army of Danton Blacks was really cool. Seeing Flash do his super fast punch was gnarly. Admittedly the Matrix style dodge of the bullet was cliche, but other than that impressive stuff. The previews for next episode have me even more excited with all the CG smoke.

Once again Harrison Wells steals the episode. These end scenes are gripping, mysterious, and great fodder for conspiracy theories. Tom Cavanagh has come a long way from Scrubs — or more appropriately, Ed — by becoming, possibly the best character on the show. I enjoy the explanation for why Barry wants to save people, his reactions with Iris, Cisco, and Caitlin, but I’m turning in every week to watch Harrison Wells. And that’s just the way it is.

The Walking Dead – “No Sanctuary”

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If nothing else, The Walking Dead knows how to do a premier episode. They tend go heavy on the zombie killing, light on everything else. “No Sanctuary” was no exception. After four seasons I can’t say I’m disappointed, this isn’t exactly the show I turn to for deep fictional meaning.

Carol rescues the gang with the help from some of her walker friends. More specifically Rick, Daryl, kicker from The Waterboy, and Glen were saved just in time. Did anyone actually think they were in harm? The whole lining them up sequence was a bit cheesy to me. Rick makes a promise to the lead cannibal that he has a machete waiting with his name on it. Probably the most bad ass moment of the show.

The plot didn’t real move all that much. The whole group escaped without a scratch, reunited with Tyreese and Lil Ass kicker. Daryl and Carol shared a nice moment, but I’ve never cared for their lingering romance. I don’t want anyone in Daryl’s life other than his crossbow. I have to assume that we haven’t seen the last of Terminus, Rick still has a promise to fulfill.

I’m not sure there’s another character on TV who didn’t deserve a punch in the face more than the kid who was going to snap Lil Ass kicker’s neck. For some reason I don’t think Tyreese killed him, though. Those punches were deadly, no doubt, but his status was strangely left in the air. That punk kid had the best line of the episode. “That’s kind of like saving an anchor when you’re stuck on a boat in the middle of an ocean”, in regards to saving babies. Well, he’s not wrong. Enjoyed their interactions more than the zombie attack personally.

My favorite moment came during the after credits scene, Morgan hovering behind Rick and friends the whole way. Any time we get more from that actor I’m all in. He’s been part of two of the best episodes this show has ever done, and it’s not even arguable. Now that The Strain is over it’s up to The Walking Dead to fulfill that horror element in my television life. So far, so good.

Arrow – “The Calm”

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It felt damn good to have Arrow back in my life. It felt even better having Sara Lance in my life. And I was euphoric to have Brandon Routh back in the world of super heroes.

We pick up the story sometime after Ollie’s defeat of Slade. Roy seems to be exponentially better of a sidekick, emphasized with the upgraded outfit. Diggle is where Terry Crews was in the beginning of Brooklyn Nine Nine, on an indefinite break from field work, this due to his new baby girl. Felicity and Oliver attempt an office romance, their first date bombing, yet Felicity claims she’s had worse. The newly minted Captain Lance is in full support of Arrow now, as is Starling City it seems. Times, they are a changin’.

There’s a new Vertigo in town who has been giving me some strong Scarecrow from Batman Begins vibes. The drug now leaves the user in a hallucinogenic state, one that leads to an awesome Arrow vs Ollie fight.

This guy is definitely a tough foe, but perhaps the bigger threat is Ray Palmer. What’s not to like about Palmer, other than the fact he’s a massive obstacle to Ollie reclaiming his family company. Personally I love Routh’s portrayal, and you can’t argue with the renaming to Star City. I’m not familiar with how prevalent The Atom is in Green Arrow’s life in the comics, but I’m hopeful we see him for multiple seasons. What the hell else is Brandon Routh doing?

Our flashbacks take place in Hong Kong now, and while it was promising, I’m still a bit skeptical. It seems like he will be responsible for some sort of harm coming to his captors family, though.

The biggest shock for me, and most others I’m sure, was the barrage of arrows Sara took to the chest at episodes end. Being Sara’s most devoted and creepiest fan, this one hurt. Caity Lotz doesn’t seem to have much on her plate other than the rare appearance on Mad Men, so I hope this wasn’t the end. As for the culprit? My guess is League of Shadows. Merlyn is hopefully too busy molding Speedy to be a sexy killer.

Great, great start to Season 3, and very nice job at integrating the Flash phone call scene in. The CW meshes these two shows seamlessly.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Saturday morning I woke up to one of the toughest decisions I’d have to make all year. Do I go see the highly anticipated Captain America sequel? Or do I follow my heart and see “Sabatoge”, another box office bomb starring my hero Arnold. I’ve been through thick and thin with the big man recently. Hell, I even saw “The Last Stand” on opening night (it’s on Netflix now. Worth a watch, but Johnny Knoxville is horrendous. And I love Knoxville). With betrayal omitting off me like my daily B.O, I saw the early Cap 2 screening.

First off, Captain America is my least favorite Marvel character. At least out of all the major ones. Quicksilver will probably be my new “most hated” after watching DOFP. I don’t have to wait until the movie comes out you say? There’s a terrible Hardees commercial he’s in already? Yep. He’s the worst. Anyways, the point is I’m not very patriotic. I feel the same way about religion and sports “fandom”. If I was born farther north I’d be yearning for a Captain Canada, farther south a Captain Mexico. Just because I grew up in Philadelphia means I HAVE to root for the Phillies? Even if the whole team raped a ten year old boy (akin to those in high positions in the Catholic church), you would have imbeciles from that city sticking up for their team out of loyalty. It’s asinine.

There were a few things from the movie that I couldn’t let go of. It was everything I hate about patriotism. That 1940s propaganda bull. Plus the casting of Agent Smith as Red Skull rubbed me the wrong way (he’s already been in enough iconic roles with the Matrix and LOTR. You couldn’t have found anyone else?). Young CGI’d Steve Rogers took me out of the film every time he came on screen. It angered me more people weren’t talking about that. He looked ridiculous. But I openly acknowledge these are my feelings on things other than the film itself. Another solid addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sure. But it in no way compares to The Winter Soldier.

Right off the bat I could tell the tone of this film was different. As a country we are having trouble trusting. Not being able to trust our government. Missiles aimed at any one of us at all times. Hacking in to our computers, phones, etc. I was on board from the get go. Cap’s trust in SHIELD starts to waver throughout the beginning of the movie and we begin to see it is not unfounded. There have been HYDRA plants all throughout SHIELD (including Gary Shandling, who has a scene that is laugh out loud funny. Unfortunately that was not its purpose) like a virus. Nick Fury is killed by the Winter Soldier himself and (no surprise) comes back near the end to reveal he faked his own death. The head of SHIELD is Pierce (Robert Redford) who quite clearly is the bad guy in this game. Anthony Mackie makes an awesome sidekick in Falcon. If you read his recent interviews about the role you know how enthusiastic he was about being cast as a superhero, and it shows. ScarJo is almost a co-lead in this film. She is great as usual, although she’s in that “too hot to watch” zone for me. It’s difficult for me to enjoy films she’s in because of how attractive I find her. It’s a curse. Lastly, we have Bucky himself (played by Sebastian Stan). You could say he did A LOT with a little. Most people have said that actually. I’m just reiterating it. He’s not on Loki’s level as a villain (and in the Marvel universe, who is?) but I immediately wanted to see more of him. Luckily for me, Stan recently signed a nine picture deal.

Technically this was the first summer blockbuster to come out. So that might be why I enjoyed it so much. But there were definitely other things. I’ll throw some Pros/Cons out there.

Pro – Fight Sequences

All credit given to the Russo brothers on this one. The fight sequences were phenomenal. You felt the force of Caps blows. I loved the scene where he’s running so hard that he bangs into a wall and the shield leaves a dent. Black Widow had the moves we’ve come to expect from a super spy. George St. Pierre makes a cameo in the beginning of the flick and has an awesome fight off with Evans. He had a few good moves, but was easily taken down by CA (Black Widow hindered Cap more than GSP). Quick note. I’m glad they showed him easily taking out the henchmen. This dude just wrecked hundred of aliens in The Avengers. You’re going to tell me some french martial art boat captain can beat up Captain America? I’m not buying it. Captain America should give a beat down to twenty people in an elevator. Even with one arm trapped to the wall by a magnet.

Con – Rewatchability

A few of you might disagree with me on this. The film is pretty long (136 minutes not counting after credit scenes). A while the pacing is great, there isn’t many reasons why I would go back to watch it. I thought the best scenes were with Bucky and they were few and far between. TWS just beat out a certain movie for Aprils biggest box office hit. That movie? Only one of the most re watchable summer blockbusters of all time. That’s right folks, FAST FIVE. I’ve watched F5 dozens of times. Why? Because I’m in awe during that train scene. Because the ground shakes every time during the second greatest handshake ever (Diesel picking Rock up. Obviously behind the one in Predator). And because…

Pro – Chris Evans becomes a leading man

You could argue he became this in The Avengers, but I still wasn’t buying it. I think Evans has greatly improved, not on his acting, but on his presence. I honestly don’t know how one improves that. It’s like how Mel Kiper talks about “upside”. We both just tend to throw these words around. But Evans really shines in this one (and he should. He’s the star of the film). By the time Avengers 2 comes out I’ll believe that he can go toe to toe with Robert Downey Jr (or Tony Stark).

Con – Cap and Black Widows relationship

I feel like I should be saying this for every Pro/Con, but hear me out. Yes. It was appreciated that they weren’t forced into another silly romantic relationship. First off, she has Hawkeye (if they ever want to use him again). And secondly, it would have made that scene with old Peggy Carter less meaningful. But the back and forth about her getting him a girlfriend or a date was grating. Why couldn’t their relationship be more like Legolas and Gimli from LOTR? She is clearly badass. I’d love to hear them arguing about who takes out more henchman. And you could still have the “I don’t trust you” storyline.

Pro – Post Credit Scenes

This should be a Pro for every Marvel film. But this may have been the best one yet. We finally get a glimpse of Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver. The REAL Quicksilver. They look menacing. And unstable. And I’m even more pumped for Avengers 2 than I was yesterday. I’m always curious as to if Whedon directs these himself. The Guardians of the Galaxy teaser at the end of Thor 2 definitely looked like someone else was behind the directors chair. But alas. Also we get to see one of the new villains for AV2 and what appears to be Loki’s mind control stick? Correct me if I’m wrong. Then the second (and usually plain dumb) scene featured Bucky visiting the museum to see his little WWII memorial. It probably could of just been put straight into the film, but it was nice to show Bucky realizing that Cap wasn’t lying to him. Perhaps he could….trust Steve Rogers. It wasn’t great but it was better than Thor 2’s second post credit scene.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a worthy two hours spent at the movies. I would go so far as to say it’s the BEST movie of the summer! Take that as you will.

1st. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

2nd. N/A

3rd. N/A