Holy Bat-Big Mac! Where the REAL “Superhero Saturation” is Coming From

Hello friends!  I have a quick question for you:  Do you enjoy these things: superheroes, movies, commericals and math?  Well if you answered yes to at least ONE of those, then by all means continue.  If you answered no, then by all means continue, since you want to support me regardless.  :)  I am going to tak an in depth look at the upcoming superhero landscape, and the reason why it seems like that’s all there is when we go to the theatre.

This past October, both Marvel and DC released their respective movie times for the forseeable future.  DC released theirs at an investor’s meeting, using this graphic:

upcoming-dc-films1

     There are some Lego and Harry Potter movies mixed into the graphic, but the main focus is on the ten movies DC has slated to release by theyear 2020.

     Not to be outdone, Marvel took things a step further.  They held a special press event at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles.  Going over the top as only Marvel can do, they released THIS image:

MarvelEvent

     As if that wasn’t enough to get fans excited, they also brought out Captain America and Iron Man…

Marvel Studios Fan Event

…to introduce the world to the Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman.

Marvel Studios Fan Event

     That’s quite a lot of movies coming out from the two major players.  What I have shown so far doesn’t take into considerarion the Fantastic Four and X-Men franchsies at 20th Century Fox or the Spider-Man Franchise at Sony.  Adding in these variables, we get a calendar that looks like this:

CA_Supermovies_10-28-2014-21

     Wow.  Quite a bit.  39 movies in total.  39.  Firefly only had 14 episodes.  Hell, Star Wars only has 9 movies (when spin-offs ACTUALLY start happening, I will discuss them).  What is also facinating is that this calendar spans only six years.  To put it in perspecitve, between 1989 and 1997, only four superhero movies were released theatrically, all revolving around the same characater (Batman).  Then we got one in 1998 (Blade) and one in 2000 (X-Men).  It wasn’t until 2002 that were getting superhero movies with some sort of frequency with the release of the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man.  At that point were getting maybe one or two a year.  Then in 2008 the landscape changed to what it is today when Marvel Films took a huge risk with 2008’s Iron Man.  The Phenomonal and unexpected success of this fim is what led to the entertainment landscape we see today.  One film in 2002 to 329 films over the next six years.

     The debate I have seen occur a lot over the last month or so is whether or not this is too much.  With all these films coming out, are movie goers going to become so exhausted that they eventually revolt?  The answer is simple…

Wait for it…

NO.

     We are not being “bombarded with superhero movies.  Sure, there are more being released that ever before, but it is not a “saturation” of the movie market as some people may think it is.  Let’s do some of that math I mentioned earlier and figure out why.

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     This is the Entertainment Weekly summer movie preview (these preview issues are one of my favorite things ever, especially the calendar/checklist).  On the cover are the stars of X-Men: Days of Future Past.  I want to point out the number is the top right-hand corner.  105.  That’s the number of movies that were released between may and August of 2014.  105.  If you read through this issue (like I did from cover to cover :) ) you noticed that out of those 105 movies, only FOUR were superhero movies.  They were: Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  That means 101 other movies came out furing that four month perioid.  For those of you not math savvy, 96.1% of the movies released last summer were not based on a superhero.  Now let’s take that math even further.  We will use the EW issue as a base:

  • 105 movies came out in four months
  • By multiplying that by three, we have approx. 315 movies coming out in 12 months
  • Now, we take that 315 and multiply it by six.  That comes out to 1890
    • So ROUGHLY, between now and 2020, 1890 movies will be released
  • The infographic I presented showed that 39 comic book based movies will come out between now and 2020
  • That means 2% of the movies coming out between now and 2020 will be comic-book based

2%.  That’s it.  For every 100 movies released, two of them are from a comic book.  That leaves 98 other movies, whether it’s comedy, drama, action, etc. to choose from.

So if it’s not the quantity of movies coming out that are giving people that feeling of “saturation,” then what’s the cause?  The answer can be summed up (using wit, I mind you) with this video:

     MARKETING.  It’s not that the studios are throwing superhero after superhero after superhero at us.  It’s THAT THEY WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT THEM!!!  I remember when the 1989 Batman movie was first announced.  We as fans could not WAIT to see footage.  The trailer was finally released, but we had to be home at a certain time just to catch it on an episode of Entertainment Tonight.  YouTube wasn’t even an idea yet.  Today, we get trailers, we get teaser trailers, we get TEASERS FOR THE TEASERS.  About a month ago, I couldn’t go five minutes on the internet without some page I was on reminding me that the new Avengers trailer was going to premiere after Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Not the movie, just the PREVIEW for the movie (yes, it was awesome, but that’s beside the point :)).

     We live in a much different world than we did in 1989.  Hell, we live in a much different world than we lived in 2002.  When 2020 comes around, I will say the same thing about 2014.  It’s not that movies have changed, but how we are told about them.  We can still get excited about movies, it just takes a little more effort, since no one will let us forget that movies are coming out, whether it’s next month, next year, or next decade.

     Now that we have determined where the saturation is coming from, the next question to ask is will this eventually cost the movie studios an audience?  Will we eventually get so sick of all the commercials and tie-ins that we boycott these films out of some sort of spite?  The answer is in the hands of the creative minds behind these films.  The Joss Whedons, the James Gunns, and the Zack Snyders of the world are the ones who have the power to control that.  If we keep receiving movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, then the genre is going to strong as ever.  If we get a movie such as Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was more of a way to move Spidey merchandise that anything else, then it could spell the end for these superhero films (I personally didn’t have the absolute outrage over ASM2 that a lot of people had, but to say I didn’t see the problems would be rediculous).

     So I feel that as long as the marketing is there to support the movie, and not the other way around, we will be in for an enjoyable six years, regardless of hany many fast food restaurants our heroes want us to frequent.  Here’s hoping the current pattern sticks.  I have been waiting for a time like this my entire life, where the superhero shirts I wore in high school would be a thing of the norm.  Until proven otherwise, my faith will remain strong.  With that, we now have less than five months until the next round of movies start.  I’ll get the ball rolling with…AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!!

P.S. Clicking on the pictures enlarges them.  I know some of the calendars are hard to read.

YOUR FACE

Donnie (@dtrain1813)

Losing Focus and Losing my Voice

I have had this blog for well over a year.  I would say that for the most part I have been pretty consistent with my writing.  Sure, I have taken breaks here and there, but not long enough that I find cobwebs lurking about when I return.  I really enjoy writing, and I want to turn it into something more than just a hobby.  I want to make this my career.  I know that it takes a lot of hard work.  I know that it means not giving up.  However, I feel that over the last few months my focus has been strained, and it almost cost me my love of doing this.

This past August, I wanted to make this blog into a TV site.  Every post I was writing was a recap/review of a TV show.  I started with Doctor Who, and added more shows as the Fall season started.  I had a rough start, not really knowing how to begin.  I would watch the show once, being in “fan mode.”  Then I would watch it again, this time with a notebook, jotting down all  the plot points.  THEN I would actually write the article.  This took FOREVER.  Overtime, I was confident in myself that I could write the article as I was watching the show.

For quite awhile, it was great.  I was posting at least once a day, and I was getting the experience I need to become a better writer.  Then something happened.  I started to form a routine, and it seemed like my daily posts were something I HAD to do, rather than something I WANTED to do.  I would get stressed if I was running behind, and that in turn would have an effect on what content I ended up putting out.

My articles, when I was at peak stride, were a great balance between giving a recap of an episode, along side a review where I was able to give MY voice, tell people what I thought of something.  As my stress level increased, my voice within my writing began to decrease.  It got to a point where I just seemed to be regurgitating what was happening on the TV screen, while adding nothing to it.  I knew something had to change.

So I took the last few days off.  I didn’t write, I didn’t watch TV.  The only thing I did pop culture wise was go see Big Hero 6.  Other than that I was listening to Podcast while doing laundry and goofing around on social media.  I did this because I knew I had to re-focus my priorities.

I needed to take a break and come back because I really needed to find my voice again.  I want to write articles so people can read MY voice about things.  If they want straight to the point recaps of TV shows, that’s what Wikipedia is for.

So going forward, I will still be writing, but I will make sure that it’s because I really want to write about something, and not just trying to get a job.

This seems to be a bit of a ramble, and that’s okay.  If my voice right now is rambling, then that’s what I want it to be.  And I am pretty cool with that.

YOUR FACE

Donnie (@dtrain1813)

Gotham – Season 1, Episode 6: Spirit of the Goat

Gotham_106_Penguin_sHouse_8782_hires2 [www.imagesplitter.net]

This week’s episode brings in another creation just for the show.  A case Bullock once thought closed comes back to rear its ugly head.  Here is the recap/review of “Spirit of the Goat.”

A man is standing at a mirror in a dimly lit apartment.  As he stares at his reflection, he begins chanting “I am the spirit of the goat” over and over.  As he continues chanting, he puts on leather gloves and a leather mask.  When his “transformation” is complete, he smashes the mirror.

A newscast is talking about the killer known as “The Goat,” as well as celebrating the birth of Bruce Wayne.  We are now in a high rise apartment, where a young girl is standing on her balcony.  “The Goat” walks up from behind and subdues her.

A young detective Bullock and his partner Dix pull up outside the location where they think “The Goat” is holding the girl, Sheely Lawson.  Dix wants to wait for backup, but Harvey goes inside the building anyway, afraid of The Goat, Randall Milkie, killing the girl.  They arrive too late, as Shelly is already dead, displayed on some type of alter.  The realize Milkie is still there, but before they can find him, Milkie activates a trap, seriously injuring Dix.  After a brief struggle, Bullock is able to take Milke down.  As backup finally arrives, Bullock tends to his downed partner.

Fast Forward to present day, and the Bullock we now know is at a crime scene similar to what occured ten years ago.  The alter, the candles, even the type of victim (first born child) is all the same.  It seems there is a copycat killer.  While Edward tries to pass the time with a riddle, Bullock tries to reach Jim, who is not answering his phone.

Jim is not answering because he is doing his best to make amends with Barbara.  After some talk, he promises to tell her as much of the truth as he can.  Bullock calls again, and Jim can’t ignore work any longer.  He kisses Barbara and heads out, relieved that their relationship is getting back to where it should be.

Allen and Montoya drive to the dock where Gordon “killed” Oswald.  They find a homeless man who happened to be on the dock when the shooting occured, and saw the whole thing.  Montoya is ecstatic as she can finally arrest Gordon and prove to Barbara she’s been right all along.

Jim finally arrives to the crime scene, only to find an extremly surley Bullock.  He doesn’t like the fact that not only is there a copycat killer, but the details are uncannily similar.  The duo head to the home of the girl’s parents, and Bullock tells Nygma to call him when they are ready for the autopsy.

Gordon and Bullock start to question Mr. and Mrs. Hastings, the girl’s parents, but they are not of any help.  Mrs. Hastings is basically catatonic from shock, and Mr. Hastings is having arm tremors.  Their therapist, Dr. Marks, ask them to come back later after a little back and forth with Bullock.

Nygma heads to the GCPD archives where he fails at flirting with the records keeper, the unfortunately names Kristen Kringle.  She rebuffs any “advances” Ngyma tries to make and leaves, telling him not to touch anything, as she has the room organized to her liking.  The door closes, and Edward looks around that the room with absolutely no sense of foreshadowing.  At all.  Ever.

Outside the Hasting’s home, Gordon and Bullock try to determine how The Goat got in, as there is no sign of forced entry.  Remembering that Milkie had keys to the homes, they start to track down the janitorial staff of the apartment building.  The two head back to GCPD, as they are ready for the autopsy.

Oswald finally returns home to his mother, who at first curses him for leaving her for another woman (weird), and then fawns over him once she realizes there is no “hussy” trying to take her son away.  I think we now know why Oswald is a little messed up in the head.

As the medical examiner performs the autopsy, Bullock has him check for something at the base of her skull.  He finds a penny sewn into the victim.  This was Milkie’s M.O., but Bullock never put that fact in the police report.  He’s not sure how, but this is not a copycat.

Bullock and Jim go over their findings with Captain Essen.  The only people who knew about the penny were Bullock, the medical examiner at the time, who caught a case of death, and Dix, Bullock’s old partner.  Despite Bullock’s protests, Essen has them pay Dix a visit to see what he knows.

Bruce is at his desk watching the news report, which is emphasising The Goat taking the first born of Gotham’s rich.  Alfred suggests they take a trip, since Bruce fits into the profile.  Bruce won’t leave, saying there is no one for The Goat to take him from.  While he was talking specifically about his parents, he doesn’t realize how much that comment hurt Alfred.

Kristen Kringle returns to the records room to find that I was “way wrong and not sarcastic” about the foreshadowing.  Ngyma has taken it upon himself to reorganize the entire room.  This of course sets off Kristen, who calls Ngyma weird and odd.  She then points to the door, and with the smartest thing he has done, he quickly left.

Bullock and Gordon visit Dix, who is now wheelchair bound and living in a nursing home.  He didn’t tell anyone about the pennies, which he thinks confirms his theory that Milkie wasn’t working alone.  Dix believes there is a conspiracy at work, which angers Bullock, who leaves the room.  Gordon follows him out, only to find him talking with the home’s administrator about paying Dix’ bill.  It seems Detective Bullock isn’t as selfish as we thought.

In another part of town, The Goat kidnaps another victim.

Bullock is at the crime scene, while Gordon is trying to find a connection based on their janitor lead.  Bullock suggest bringing in Ngyma, since he is good with puzzles.

Barbara confronts Montoya in downtown Gotham.  Barbara is pleading for her to not go after Jim, that he’s a good man and is not who Montoya thinks.  Still not believing it, Montoya tells Barbara that Jim is involved with the wrong people, and when she arrests him, Barbara should leave Gotham, for her own safety.

Edward is able to narrow down the suspects to a Raymond Earl.  Bullock confirms this when it’s learned that Earl is currently living in the area of the place where Milkie was stopped.

Gordon and Bullock arrive, and this time with better results.  Gordon was able to rescue the girl,and the assists Bullock with taking down Earl, alive this time.

Bruce has fallen asleep on the couch in the study.  A window sloly opens and Selina Kyle creeps in.  She walks around, and steals a small box off of Bruce’s desk.  She stops for a moment to watch over him while he sleeping.  She then escapes through the same window when she hears Alfred coming down the hall.

Oswald is sitting in the bathtub at his mother’s house, and she comes over to clean him.  She is glad he is home.  She doesn’t like how he works with people he can’t trust.  The only person you can trust is your mother.  He is happy to tell her that he has found someone he CAN trust.  A policeman.  This policeman will help Oswald win in the end.

Raymond Earl is locked in an interrogation room, staring at the wall.  Essen commends the two for catching him, but Bullock is not convinced.  He feels he is missing something.  After sending Jim home, Bullock is still looking over Earl, when Earl suddenly snaps out of his stare, as if he has no idea where he is.  Looking extremely stressed, Earl begins to squeeze his hand into a fist.  Bullock has seen this before, and head out.

Gordon arrives home, and Barrbara is there with bags packed.  She tells him Montoya has an arrest warrant out for him, and begs for him to leave with her.  He says that even though he is innocent, he can’t run.  He won’t run.  There is a knock on the door, and Montoya and Allen take him into custody.

Bullock enters the office of Dr. Marks, the Hastings’ therapist.  It turns out she is a Hypnotherapist and had programmed Earl, as well as Milkie to become The Goat to show the 1% of Gotham what their REAL place should be.  Think of it as a type of negative reinfocement.  After having one of her patients attack Bullock, she tries to escape, but Bullock is able to shoot her in the leg to stop her.

Back at GCPD, Bullock is trying to explain to Essen what happened as Montoya and Allen bring in Gordon.  They also attempt to arrest Bullock as an accomplice.  Gordon is trying to plead that he lied about shooting Oswald.  No one is listening until they look at the entrance to GCPD, and there is standing none other than the deceased, Oswald Cobblepot.

GRADE: B

I liked this episode because it stuck to the police drama part, and less on throwing in new Bat Easter Eggs.  I only counted one, which was Ngyma’s coffee mug.  (ugh).  I think I found my issue with the show.

Arrow:  The goal is to find Sara’s killer

SHIELD: The goal is to stop Daniel Whitehall

Flash: The goal is to find out who killed Nora

Gotham doesn’t have that end goal that most shows like this establish in the beginning.  It’s bascially just different Bat-Characters running around doing stuff.  Once they get a little more focus, this show will definitely get A’s from me.

YOUR FACE

Donnie (@dtrain1813)

Photo Credit:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jN027K2QYYQ/VD4A_Q7NuoI/AAAAAAAAB-8/LrIwtKHRcB4/s1600/Gotham_106_Penguin_sHouse_8782_hires2%2B%5Bwww.imagesplitter.net%5D.jpeg”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 2, Episode 6: A Fractured House

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     The 180 degree turn this program has take still astounds me.  I still remember in 1997 when I was defending Batman and Robin to my friends, full well knowing the truth.  It feels good to know I can defend what SHIELD has become and actually believe what I am saying.  Here is the recap/review of “A Fractured House.”

General Talbot is giving a speech in front of a committee at the United Nations.  He is of course talking about how SHIELD has fooled the world, and wants them taken down.  One of the committee members asks for proof that SHIELD is just as bad as HYDRA.  He gets his proof in the form of DEATH!!!!!  (Please read the with the over the top tone it is meant to have.  I thank you).  A group of soldiers dress in black enter the room and start killing people with what looks like tech based on the Obelisk (Diviner).  They are wearing SHIELD logos, trying to ruin its already tarnished reputation.

Skye and Simmons are watching Grant to his morning routine, which he does at the same time everyday, even with no clock in his cell.  Alarms sound and May tells them about the UN attack.  Bobbi is able to identify the leader of the “SHIELD” group, a mercenary names Marcus Scarlotti.  Simmons recognizes the weapons they used, and traces them back to their designer, Toshiro Mori.  Coulson sends May, Bobbi and Hunter to Okinowa to track Mori down, much to the chagrin of Bobbi and Hunter.  Exes working together may not be the best of ideas.

General Talbot has a meeting with the senator that has been bankrolling his anti-SHIELD squad, and has not been happy with the results.  General Talbot informs the senator that he should feel lucky his brother’s identity hasn’t been revealed to the world.  The senator, Christan Ward, Grant Ward’s brother, decides its time to take SHIELD down himself.

Syke is in Coulson’s office, and they are watching Senator Ward on television, announcing his proposal for a multi-national police force to help apprehend anyone associated with SHIELD.  The ambassador from Belgium is the only one who seems to be standing up against it.  Coulson asks Skye to talk to Grant for any intel he may have on his brother.  Coulson then contacts on of his field agents, Walters, and instructs her and her team to go dark until the situation is under control.

May. Bobbi, and Hunter are in the Quinjet headed for Okinowa.  Bobbi and Hunter have an awkward exchange, signifying there is still some unfinished business leftover from their marriage.  Bobbi goes up to the cockpit to check on May, who gives her relationship advice in that Melinda May “say a lot by saying nothing” manner.

Simmons visits Fitz in his lab.  He seems to be in the middle of a conversation with the “other” Simmons, but we can’t see her this time.  She asks for his help with restoring the hard drive she recovered from her HYRDA mission.  He agrees, but is very standoffish to her when she attempts to help him.

Syke is attempting to get information on Senator Ward out of Grant.  He seems scared, telling Skye she needs to stay away from him.  His brother is 100% manipulative, and only cares about what he wants.  When Grant tries to turn the conversation topic towards Skye’s father, Coulson quickly shuts down the interrogation.

Bobbi takes a risk and uses her HYRDA cover to meet with Toshiro.  The risk pays off and she is able to get information out of him.  The weapons are called Splinter Bombs, and he got the specs from Whitehall.  He also revealed that Whitehall now has the Obelisk, and that Becker, the Belgium ambassador is their next target.  Somehow Bobbi’s cover is blown and Hunter and May help her escape.  They head to Belgium to stop the attack.

Fitz is looking over some of the data they were able to recover from the hard drive, and Simmons tries to walk him through it.  This aggravates Fitz and the two finally have it out over why Simmons left.  He feels that she left because she thinks he is useless now, and has given up on him.  While she professes that is not why, she leaves the room before she can give the actual reason.  As she walks out, Mack enters the room, ready to help Fitz anyway he can.

Senator Ward enters his office and is surprised to see Coulson there waiting for him.  Coulson would like to clear the air, while the senator wants nothing more than for SHIELD to be taken down once and for all.  Coulson brings up the possible conflict of interest that causes, seeing that the senator’s brother was HYRDA.  He finally gets the senator’s attention when he reveals that he has Grant “in his basement.”

While Coulson is speaking with the senator, Skye turns of the security cameras and enters Grant’s cell.  The scene goes back and forth with both brothers trying to convince their respective SHIELD agents how truly evil the other one is.  Coulson is ready to make a deal with the senator, and Skye gets as much information out of Grant about her father as she can.  When he divulges all he knows, she is pleased to tell him, to his horror, that he is being transferred into his brother’s custody.

Back at the playground, Coulson tells May that the Senator will reverse his anti-SHIELD stance in exchange for his brother.  That means May and the team has to hurry to stop Scarlotti’s team, who now has Beckers’ lcoation, so there can be proof when Senator Ward makes his speech.

Simmons returns to the lab, finding Mack and Fitz happy.  They were able to determine the scematics they were looking at were bombs created by HYDRA in the 1940s, the lead designer a man named Vincent Beckers.  Simmons runs to find Coulson, as it seems his team is headed into a trap.

Coulson is in Grant’s cell, and the two are having it out.  Grant is pleading with Coulson about the true nature of his brother, but Coulson isn’t listening.  The only reason Grant is still alive is because he was of use to SHIELD.  The reason he’s being transferred is because the senator is of MORE use.  Tripp interrupts the meeting to tell Coulson about Beckers.

It turns out Ambassador Beckers is the grandson of the HYDRA tech designer.  Realizing they’ve been played, Coulson contacts May to reroute the the SHIELD safehouses in Belgium.  The hidden agents are the targets, not Beckers.

It is too late for Walters and her team, as she returns to the safehouse where Beckers, Scarlotti, and his team are waiting.  She is quickly killed with a Splinter Bomb.

With Hunter providing a distraction, Bobbi and May sneak up on Scarlotti’s team and the three SHIELD agents are able to take them out  (My summary doesn’t do justice how great the fight scenes were.  If you want to experience it, watch the GD show).  May lets Coulson know they stopped Scarlotti, as well as how many SHIELD agents were lost.

Simmons approaches Mack in the hanger and thanks him for being Fitz’ friend.  After some “tough talk” from Mack, Simmons reveals the reason she left is because whenever she is around, Fitz’ condition gets worse.

Back at the safehouse, Hunter is about to leave.  He doesn’t want awkwardness with Bobbi to get in the way of her SHIELD missions.  She convinces him to stay.  They (she) need all the help they (she) can get.

There is a montage of Senator Ward giving a speech admitting that SHIELD and HYDRA are two separete entities, along with Grant getting put into a transport.  Senator Ward also reveals that Grant was with HYDRA.  We also see Talbot arrving at the safehouse, offering his condolensces to May for the lost SHEILD agents, shaking her hand.

As the Senator finishes his speech, we see Grant in the transport, escaping his cuffs and beginning to take out his guards.

In the post credits scene, an unknown man enters a tattoo parlor.  He gives the artist cash and a diagram.  The man takes off his shirt, his whole body covered in the alien writing.  The artist gets to work.  It seems we have found another man injected with the serum.

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • The show had “house” in the episode titles the last two weeks.  C’mon, guys.
  • Grumpy Cat mug scene was funny.
  • Hunter putting his foot in his mouth on the Quinjet.  Another funny moment
  • Iain De Caestecker = Emmy Nomination.  I will say this every week.
  • Hunter’s comment about Bobbi “making her targets feel good about themselves.”  Is this foreshadowing my theory from last episode?
  • When Skye was talking to Grant about her father, I was getting SO pissed.  After all the character growth they worked on, they were going to revert her back to naive Skye just like that?  I breathed a sigh of relief when she pulled a Black Widow on him.
  • The Martial Arts scenes in this show are great.  Both SHIELD and Arrow need some awards for their stunt work.
  • The ending bothered me a little.  I REALLY hope Coulson has a plan, and knew Ward was going to escape.  Otherwise, this is a really bad call on his part.

GRADE: B+

It would have been an A if not for Ward escaping.  I will upgrade it if it turns out this was part of a bigger Coulson plan.  Otherwise, no complaints here.  We get a week off, but be sure to watch tomorrow night for Marvel’s 75th annversary special.  A good documentary is a good documentary.  :)

YOUR FACE

Donnie (@dtrain1813)

Photo Credit:

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Constantine – Season 1, Episode 2: The Darkness Beneath

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     After a solid pilot episode, I still had some worries that this show was going to seem like a rip-off of Supernatural (We comic fans know it’s technically the other way around.  BUT, there are people out there who thought Fantastic Four was trying to copy The Incredibles, so we have to be careful).  With this second episode, Constantine showed that while it does deal with the same type of creatures the Winchesters may come across, John Constantine definitly has his own way of doing things.  Here is the recap/review of “The Darkness Beneath.”

     It’s the end of the work day in the mining town of Heddwich, PA.  Lannis enters his house and goes right for the whiskey bottle.  After a tense exchange with his wife about other workers “hearing noises” at the mine, Lannis goes to take a shower.  Because this show is about very weird stuff, it should be no suprise when oil and fire burst through the shower pipes and burn Lannis alive.

Constantine is waiting impatiently for Chas to get back to the mill house.  Chas gives Constantine an envelope of cash, which they “won” in the lottery.  They used magic to acquire the numbers, but they won nonethless.  Constantine is packed and ready to go to Heddwich to investigate the miner’s accident.  Chas wishes him luck, since he can’t go because of an arrest warrant he has in Pennsylvania.  Train derailments don’t have statutes of limitations.

Constantine arrives in Heddwich just in time to see the funeral procession for Lannis.  In a small apartment in town, the young artist seen at the end of last episode is still obessively drawings sketches of Constantine.  Still not understanding why she is doing this, she takes a grocery bag full of paintings out to the trash and bumps into Constantine.  Seeing one of the drawings, he thinks she is a con artist and quickly gives her the slip, but not before she pick pockets his wallet, and find out his name.

Constantine enters the bar where the funeral is held (it’s small town), and starts to question people trying to find answers.  This is the ninth death in the last year.  The story is that the miners have dug so deep they are “knocking on hell’s door, and hell is knocking back.”  Constantine is very intrigued to discover that they have heard actual knocking down in the mine.

Constantine is able to sneak his way into the mine.  Grabbing some equipment, he heads to it’s deepest level and starts knocking on the wall.  Something behind the wall knocks back and causes a tremor in the mine.  Constatine is able to escape just in time.

Posing as a reporter, Constatine weasels his wake into Lannis’ home to get a better look at where he died.  He is able to get a sample of oil found in the shower pipe when he approached by Lannis’ wife.  After deflecting her advances, she makes a scene which cause the owner of the mine and a few other men to throw Constantine out.  Despite the owner’s denial, Constantine know he too has heard the knocking.

Constantine heads back to his hotel room to clean up, but he has an unwanted guest.  The young artist, Zed, has broken into his room wanting answers as to their possible connection.  He learns that she has clarsentient powers after she is able to feel his emotions when she touches him.  He uses Zed’s gift, along with the oil sample, to get a vision of an old church just outside of town.  Feinting needing to use the restroom, Constantine leaves Zed by sneaking out the window.

Constantine arrives at the church, and after kicking out some horny teenagers, uses a spell of holy water and blood to get a glimpse of a black, humanoid creature.  It seems he has found what is killing the miners.  Now he needs to find what, or who, is controlling the creature.

Zed looks for Constantine at the town bar, and has a discussion with the former pastor of the church.  He lost his faith when his son was killed in the mine.  His anger towards the mine shows decent motive for wanting to summon creatures to destroy it.

Turnabout is fairplay as Zed arrives at her apartment to find Constantine waiting for her.  he gives her a speech about why she shouldn’t follow him, about the type of life he leads.  He is trying to scare her off like he did Liv.  Zed is not deterred, and before Constantine can try another tactic, an alarm sounds throughout the town.  The mine has collapsed.

Zed tries to help some of the miners as they recover from the collapse.  Constantine corners one of the executives in his car and interrogates him about the knocking.  The executive explains how the mining company has breathed new life into the town.  Constantine warns him that they are digging too deep, accessing forces that have no business be touched.  This warning came too late, as the executives car begins fillling up with mud in an attempt to drown them both.  Zed arrives and is able to save Constantine, but it is too late for the man he was speaking with.

After talking to Zed about the former priest, Ellis, the decide he is their prime suspect.  They head for the bar and Zed uses his bar stool to activate her visions, and they are able to track Ellis down to his campground.  Constantine also know what type of demons they are dealing with: Coblynau.  These are spirits of dead miners whose mission is to protect the lives of other miners.  They are killing because they are being controlled.

Confronting Ellis, his lack of faith is enough to prove he not conjuring the demons.  In fact, he is the one that points out that the people dying above ground are not miners, but the executives of the mine.  Thad, the mine president is the only one left.  Constantine has and idea, and he and Zed head back to the mine.

Thad and his son head into the mine for their own investigation, and they are attacked by a Coblynau.  Constantine and Zed arrive and use a spell to ward off the demon, but Thad is killed anyway.  Thad’s son is still alive, and is covered in a coal handprint, something Constantine has seen before.  Zed takes the boy home, and returns with Ellis who help Constantine and Zed blow up the entrance to the mine, closing it off for good.

Recognizing the coal mark on Thad’s son as the same mark on Lannis’ wife’s arm, Constantine arrives at her house.  Having been found out, she summons Coblynau to attack him.  Always the smartest magician in the room, Constantine summons his OWN Colbynau, Lannis himself, who drags his wife down to the depths of somewhere.  Not sure where.  From the context I got from watching the episode, I can definitely say things didn’t turn out well for her.

Constantine goes back to his hotel to get some sleep, Zed there waiting for him.  He tries to “shoo her away” again, to no avail.  She has now joined him in his quest to stop whatever evil is trying to crossover into this world.

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • They are very subtly working around the “no smoking” issue.  Dirty ashtray, camera angles, etc.
  • Many of the drawings in Zed’s apartment are covers to old issues of Hellblazer, the first Vertigo Constantine comic.

GRADE: A-

They were able to avoid any comparisons to Supernatural with this episode.  Instead of just trying to stop the demons, he just killed the human repsonsible.  That shows us the real Constantine, who doesn’t really care what he has to do to get the job done, as long as the job is done.  I think they made a good choice with changing the female lead to Zed.  They seem to have a lot more chemistry, and it seems like more of a partnership than a teacher/student relationship.  I am looking forward to the debut of Papa Midnite next week.  (I am also hoping that Swamp Thing makes his way onto the show.  Fingers crossed.)

Photo Credit:

http://media.comicbook.com/uploads1/2014/10/constantine-the-darkness-beneath-110566.jpg”

Arrow – Season 3, Episode 4: The Magician

     AR304a_0450b-300x199

     Thea is not the only person to return to Starling City.  Malcolm has followed her, and Nyssa has returned, wanting vengeance for what happened to Sara.  Here is the recap/review for “The Magician.”

We pick up where we left off last week, with Nyssa pointing an arrow at Oliver and Roy, wanting to know where Sara is.  When Oliver tells her she’s dead, Nyssa asks “It was an arrow, wasn’t it?”  Before she can explain to them how she knew that, Nyssa walks away.  Oliver has to meet Thea, so he has Roy follow her.

Oliver meets Thea for dinner.  She tells him that she has some investors interested in re-opening Verdant, with her in charge again.  Oliver tries to probe and figure out why she’s so different from the last time he say her.  She basically says let it go for now.

FLASHBACK 1

Oliver is in a marketplace in Hong Kong, following an older man.  Maseo is talking to him via TV Comlink technology that only people on TV shows have that no one in the real world has ever seen before.  Oliver is to assassinate this man, and after another talking to by Maseo, Oliver relunctantly resumes following the target.

PRESENT

Nyssa is visiting Sara’s grave when she runs into Laurel.  Nyssa offers her condolensces, but Laurel blames Nyssa for Sara’s fate, telling her it was the League of Assassins that brought out the darkness inside of her.  Nyssa argues that the darkness in Sara was already there when they met, and that the only thing Nyssa gave Sara was love.  Nyssa leaves, but not before noticing Laurel wearing Sara’s jacket.  Nyssa gave it to Sara as a gift, and according to her, Laurel is not fit to wear it.

Oliver gets word from Roy that Nyssa in a some sort of safehouse in a rundown part of the city.  Oliver arrives, and the two come to an understanding an decide to help each other.  Sara was in Starling to follow-up on rumors that an enemy of the League was still alive.  Nyssa believes that person found out and killed Sara.  Oliver is shocked when he finds out that the person Sara was following was the very much alive Malcolm Merlyn.

Returning to the Foundry, Oliver uploads photos from Sara’s camera which was found at the safehouse.  The evidence confirms that Malcolm is still alive.  Nyssa asks if there was anything strange found on Sara’s person.  Besides her weapons, all she had was a blank piece of paper.  Sara used ghost ink, the same ink used in Robert Queen’s notebook.  When put over a flame, notes from Sara’s findings were revealed.  They notice that she asked her father for some help, so they need to figure out what he was able to tell her.

Laurel is sent it to talk to her father and see what he told Sara.  he gives her an address for a Ken Shi Jansen, someone Sara was looking for.  As Laurel leaves, she has another confrontation with Nyssa.  Even though Nyssa believes Quentin has the right to avenge the death of his daughter, she repects Laurel’s wishes and does not tell him the truth.

That evening, Nyssa, Arrow, Arsenal and Diggle arrive at the address Laurel gave them.  Jansen was a Buddhist monk who Malcolm helped from being deported.  The team assumes that Jansen is granting him asylum.  They split up, searching the propery.  Nyssa comes across who she thinks is Jansen, but it is actually Malcolm himself.  After a brief fight with Nyssa, Malcolm is able to escape, but not before getting tagged by a tracking Arrow from Oliver.  Even though he had seen the proof, there is still shock on Oliver’s face when he sees the man he was supposed to have killed.

Laurel is waiting in the Foundry for the team to return.  She becomes angry at Oliver when she finds out that both Malcolm Merlyn is alive and the fact Oliver only put a tracer on him, and didn’t kill him.  While Oliver says that not what Sara would have wanted him to do, Laurel completely disagrees and leaves.  Nyssa follows to talk with her.  Oliver has Diggle start the tracer program, as he heads back to the streets in the meantime.

FLASHBACK 2

Oliver finally gets the target alone, and with only the slightest hesitation, kills him.  he radios back to Maseo that the job is done, not hiding the anger in either his voice or his face.

PRESENT

Nyssa catches up with Laurel outside the Foundry.  Rather than calm her down, Nyssa agrees that Oliver should have killed Merlyn.  Laurel tells her that when they find him again, Nyssa will have to be the one to kill him, since Oliver will not.

Roy visits Thea, and as she is working on rebuilding Verdant, he start rebuilding their friendship.  He is also there to make sure she is safe, knowing that Malcolm is now out there somewhere.

Diggle is able to tack Malcolm to an old air-conditioning factory, but when Arrow arrives, it is completely empty.  Malcolm begins speaking over an intercom system.  He able to see through Arrow’s trick, and wants to meet him in public place.

Oliver and Malcolm meet in a public plaza, where Malcolm denies killing Sara.  He already has a bounty placed on his head by Ra’s Al Ghul, so why would he make things worse by killing his daughters lover.  Malcolm is back in Starling City to protect Thea, no other reason.

Oliver meets Thea for coffee the next day, and he tells her that Malcolm is the one that saved her in the train station the night of siege.  Thea acts surprised, and tells Oliver that Malcolm has not tried to contact her.  It seems that when it comes to keeping secrets, the shoe is now on the other foot.  Well, maybe they are on equal footing.  Oliver still hasn’t told her he’s Arrow yet.  Hmph.

Nyssa is waiting for Oliver at the Foundry, and doesn’t understand why Malcolm is still alive.  Oliver reveals that Thea is Malcolm’s daughter, and that he swore on her life that he is not her killer.  Not believing a word Malcolm says, Nyssa leaves the Foundry.  Oliver calls after her, but is stopped by Diggle.  He and Roy agree that even though Oliver made a vow to no longer kill, Nyssa did not.  The world just might be a better place if Malcolm Merlyn wasn’t in it.

FLASHBACK 3

Oliver returns to Maseo’s apartment, still upset that he killed a man without knowing the reason why.  Maseo says that it’s actually better that way.  When Maseo leaves the room, Oliver bribes his son, Akio, with candy in exchange for use of his computer.  Plugging in the flash drive he took off his target, Oliver’s face turns angry and when Maseo returns, Oliver demands to meet with Waller.  When Maseo questions the reason, Oliver mentions Ferris Flight 637, and Waller will understand.

PRESENT

Thea and Roy are leaving Verdant when they are attacked by Nyssa.  Nyssa drugs Roy and kidnaps Thea, using her as bait to draw out Malcolm.

Malcolm enters his office calling out for Thea.  he looks out over the Starling City skyline and sees a large could of purple smoke rising from somewhere in the city.  With a “I know what that is, and I am now mad” look on his face, Malcolm leaves, or at least goes to his secret “This is where I keep my cool weapons and shit” room.

Laurel show the team traffic cam footage she found of the same smoke signal.  Oliver and Diggle head out to stop whatever Nyssa has planned.  Roy stays behind, still recovering from the drug.

Nyssa has Thea tied up and hanging upside down in Starling City’s abandoned warehouse district.  Arrow arrives and rescues Thea, which prompts a fight between him and Nyssa.  Dark Archer joins the fray and the three go through a “triple-threat match” the WWE should take notes on.  When the dust clears, Nyssa is pinned to a wall and Arrow has Malcolm dead to rights.  Malcolm says that he is a killer, but none of the blood on his hands is Sara’s.  Despite Nyssa’s pleading, Arrow believes him and lets Malcolm go.

Back home, Nyssa punches Oliver and tells him that he has made an enemy.  He tells her that as long as Malcolm is in Starling City, he is under his protection.  He will do anything to buy enough time to figure out what really happened to Sarah.  Nyssa leaves just as Felicity returns, wondering if she missed anything.

FLACKBACK 4

Oliver confronts Waller about what he found on the USB drive.  The man he killed was the handler of Edward Fyers, the leader of the terrorist group from Oliver’s first year on the island.  Oliver stopped him from shooting down Ferris Air flght 637, which Waller ordered Fyers to take down.  She was willing to sacrifice a plane full of innocent people to take down one target, a woman named Chein Na Way, also known as China White.  Way is now in Hong Kong, and Waller wants Oliver to find out why,

PRESENT

Nyssa visits Laurel at Widlcat’s gym before she leaves Starling City.  She promises Laurel that she will keep her promise and get vengeance on Sara’s killer.  She also gives Laurel tips on how to fight, her own way letting Laurel know she IS “fit to wear Sara’s jacket.”

Quentin calls and leaves Sara a voicemail.  He just wanted to hear her voice.  He looks at a picture of Sara and Laurel, the foreshadowing of his eventual emotional breakdown looming over his head.

Both Oliver and Roy check in on Thea to make sure she is doing okay.  She assures them she is fine, and even offers Roy a job as assistant manager at the club.  She leaves to take a phone call, and it’s Malcolm.  She tells him Oliver is completely in the dark about everything, to which Malcolm smirks.  He tells her he’s glad she is safe and all he wants is for her to be safe.

Nyssa returns home to the League of Assassins and tells her father the location of Malcolm Merlyn.  Ra’s Ah Ghul reveals himself, and says that Malcolm will face the League’s justice for breaking their code.  Should Oliver Queen interfere, then he will be declaring war.

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • They need to stick to one pronounciation of “Ra’s Al Ghul.”  Neal Adams, his creator has confirmed it’s “RAYSH,” not “RAAAS.”  Either way, pick one and go with it.
  • While Diggle can say he’s an ARGUS agent as a way of explaining himself for being at places with Arrow, his know association with Oliver Queen should be reason enough to also have at LEAST a ski mask or something.
  • Roy standing down when Oliver told him to.  It was very subtle, but that small gesture shows the HUGE growth Roy has experienced since becoming Oliver’s Protege.
  • I liked the nod Malcolm gave Arrow at the end of the scene.  It was a “Thank You/I won’t forget this” gesture.  While it won’t lead to redemption, it may lead to an understanding between the two.
  • I understand they love continuity, but Felicity coming back at the very end scene was a little over the top if you ask me.

GRADE: A-

Very strong episode.  We got to see John Barrowman really excel at being Merlyn.  As the Dark Archer, he is basically EVIL ARROW.  It’s as Malcolm where he can form his own character.  Not sure what to make of Ra’s yet.  Three second of screen time, it’s impossible to, to be honest.  I will NOT make comparisons to Liam Neeson.  I will critique this actor and his take.  Looking forward to next week, as we get a Felcity flashback episode.

YOUR FACE

Donnie (@dtrain1813)

Photo Credit:

http://www.greenarrowtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/AR304a_0450b-300×199.jpg”

Constantine – Season 1, Episode 1: Non Est Asylum

     Constantine_Official_Trailer

     Last Friday saw DC Comics’ FOURTH foray into the world of television.  They have crime and science covered, so now it is time to look into the supernatural with Constantine.  Here is the recap/review of “Non Est Asylum.”

At the Ravenscar Asylum in Northern England, we see John Constantine receiving shock therapy, as he introduces himself via voiceover.  Despite how it may look, he is here voluntarily.  During a session with his doctor, they go over an incident where a nine year old girl was murdered.  According to John, a demon took her with it to hell, whereas the doctor believes that John is just projecting to better cope with what he saw.  John then yells at the doctor to make him believe that, since that’s what’s he’s being paid to do.

During group therapy, John is distracted when he sees a line of locusts gathering in the hallway.  He follows them into the hospital’s art room, where a possessed woman is writing something on the wall.  After using his powers to exorcise the demon, John sees what the woman/spirit wrote, “LIV DIE.”  He realizes that being at the hospital is a waste of time, and leaves.

In Atlanta, GA, Liv Aberdine is leaving her job at a rental car company when her car starts to act strange, then finally won’t even start.  Liv walks across the parking lot to phone a friend when suddenly a sink hole appears in the middile of the lot and large blast of fire shoot out from below.  Liv starts to run, but is stopped by an old taxicab.  John Constantine emerges and wants to help.  Liv, scared out her mind, doesn’t listen and threatens to call the police.  Before she leaves, John gives her his card.

John climbs down into the sink hole to investigate and he is visited by an angel, Manny.  Manny tells John he may not be ready to face a demon, being “out of the game” for so long.  He says he can help John with what’s coming, but leaves before John can get more answers out of him.

Liv is given a ride home by a neighbor, and they go into their respective apartments.  A man sneaks up to Liv’s door and carves a symbol into it, and he also paints another symbol on the floor.  Later that night, something attempts to enter Liv’s apartment, but is deterred by the symbols.  It then enter’s her neighbor’s apartment instead.  Later that night, Liv wakes up to the sound of the police.  Her neighbor has been murdered.  Soon after, the medical examiner is taking the body away, the body attacks him, possessed by a spirit.

The next day, Liv is dropped off at work by the police, Constantine waiting for her.  He introduces Chas, the cab driver and the man who put the protection spells on her door, which saved her life from whatever killed Liv’s neighbor.  John also reveals that he knew Liv’s father, Jasper Winters, and has been asked to keep Liv safe.  He gives her a present from Jasper, but before she can open it, the medical examiner truck crashes through Liv’s work.  The possessed neighbor is driving, in another attempt to kill Liv.  In all the confusion, Liv is able to slip away.

Liv confronts her mother about the true identity of her father.  Her mother has no idea what is going on, but Liv isn’t listening anymore.  She opened the gift from her father, a necklace.  Once she touched it, she was able to see her dead grandmother brushing her mother’s hair.  Scared, Liv drives away only to be stopped by Constantine yet again.  He is able to explain to her that she has the gift to see into the afterlife, and her father’s necklace is what gives her the ability to focus that gift.

Driving is Chaz’ cab, Liv is doing her best to get more information about her father when they are attacked by the demon again.  The cab crashes into a telephone pole, and John is thrown from the car, knocked unconscious.  He then has a vision of the young girl, Astra, he failed to save.  She is once again being drug into hell by a demon.  He wakes up just in time to get Liv to safety, but Chas is killed by an electric cable before he can get clear.

Constantine takes Liv to her father’s old cabin, which holds in its basement the “Batcave” of the occult, holding many old relics and texts.  It is here that John is able to determine the name of the demon chasing them, Furcifer.  It’s a demon that harnesses electricty as a source of power, hence its abilty to control the powerlines that killed Chaz.  Liv also learns she has the power of “scrying,” which enables her to point out on a map where an evil occurance will take place.  John then comes up with a plan to stop the demon, but it requires Liv to be bait.

John heads to Ivy University to talk to someone, but not before having another run in with Manny, who implies to John that their still may be a chance to save his soul, which was damned to hell for losing Astra.

John visits an old “friend,” Ritchie, who was also there the night Astra was taken.  He is taking all sorts of drugs to cope with what he saw.  he is not pleased when John asks his help to stop Furcifer.  It takes blackmail to get him to agree.

Liv is waiting for John back at the cabin, and sees her father in a mirror.  John returns with dinner, and explains that the mirror holds reflections of the past.  Things are wonky in this cabin according to him.  That is made 100% clear when Chas enters and starts cooking dinner, very much alive.

Bribing a security guard, Constantine takes Liv to the roof of a skyscraper to set the trab for Furcifer.  While they are waiting, Liv gets John to reveal how his mother died during childbirth, and how his father always blamed him for her death.  He started studying the occult as a teenager to find a way to bring his mother back.  They are interrrputed by the security guard, who is now possessed by the demon.

They are able to lure the demon into the trap, but to mess with John’s head, he takes John’s form.  The demon also brings forth Astra’s spirit.  In exchange for the demon’s freedom, it will sent Astra’s soul free.  Before John can agree, Liv uses her father’s necklace to see that this “Astra” is a fake, to which John sends both demons back to hell.

Ritchie, who hacked in and turned off all the city’s electrical girds to de-power furcifer, is giving Liv a ride home.  He explains what happened with Astra.  She was possessed by a demon back in England, and John thought the best way to defeat it was to conjure a more powerful demon to take it away.  Instead, this demon, Nergal, killed Astra and took her soul instead.  As they are driving, Liv notices they are driving past one of the streets her scrying indicated earlier.  She gets out to see a young boy lying on the ground, savagely murdered.

John is at a local bar when Chas comes in and hand him Jasper’s necklace.  John’s plan worked, and he was able to scare Liv off, saving her from this life.  Chas also shows him a map of the U.S., which Liv scryed, with multiple locations all across the country.  Chas says that if John really wants to make for what happened to Astra, this is a good way to start.  After another meeting with Manny, John begins his mission.  Somewhere unknown, a woman is also aware of John’s mission, her whole apartment filled with paintings of him…

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • A lot of Easter Eggs in Jasper’s cabin, including the Helmet of Fate
  • Ivy University is where Ray Palmer was a professor.  Does this mean Constantine, Arrow, and Flash are in the same universe?  Hmm.

GRADE: B

Pretty good pilot episode for a character I don’t really know a whole lot about.  I’ve read comics here and there, but not where I’ve done the research.  The only thing I can do is make comparisions to the movie.  From what I DO know about the comic, this version is much more faithful.  I can definitely see people making Supernatural comparisions, so I hope they are able to set a direction that makes this show its own.

YOUR FACE

Donnie (@dtrain1813)

Photo Credit:

http://cdn.wegotthiscovered.com/wp-content/uploads/Constantine_Official_Trailer.jpg”