Posted in Anxiety, Reviews

Flash Season 3 Review

My normal spoilers are for light spoilers.  This review is going to have major spoilers.  Big time spoilers that will spoil everything about the season, pretty much, so read on at your own risk.

Season 3 of “The Flash” starts off with the results from Barry going to back to save his parents.  This creates the alternate timeline of Flashtime, where Barry lives with his parents happily and eventually asks out the girl at the coffee place, Iris.  Flashtime is entertaining because it does show what a happy life Barry would have had if his parents lived, plus alternate lives for everyone else.  Flashtime is also Wally at his most likable, since he is the hero Kid Flash, and he doesn’t that huge chip on his shoulder about Barry being fostered with the Allens while they didn’t know Wally existed.  Instead, he’s just a hero.

However, during Flashtime, Barry starts losing his memories of his other history, Wally gets injured in a pretty permanent looking way, and Caitlin is an ophthalmologist.  One of the most likable scenes for Wally comes this episode as Barry collects everyone from Team Flash, but in doing so kidnaps Caitlin.  He brings her to the cortex without really asking her permission.  Everyone but Wally and Caitlin leaves and she asks Wally if she’s been kidnapped, and he kind of shrugs and says, “Unclear.”  It seems like a little thing, but I thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, Barry puts everything back where it was before, but when he gets back to reality, Iris isn’t speaking to her dad because he lied about her mom (that season 2 boring ass storyline) while Cisco hates Barry because he won’t go back in time to save Cisco’s brother, Dante.  Barry also has to deal with Julian, one of the most unpleasant people in the universe.  Needless to say, things are different here, so he goes back to fix things again and is stopped by Jay Garrick.  Garrick basically explains that Barry can’t fuck with the timeline anymore, as once it gets broken, it never really gets fixed the same way, plus, the speed force actively dislikes it and will send scary things after you when you do it.

So, he tells everyone, and the rest of the season is Blame Barry for Everything Because of Flashtime and Barry actually blames himself, too.  I never enjoy when a series plays the game of punishing a character for an entire season (with the exception of Sam Winchester in season 4 because he started the apocalypse, that punishing was deserved and fun), and this season’s theme of “Barry’s bad” is just frustratingly stupid.  However, it seems to be the theme as we start the season with his “crime” and end it with him in the speed force jail, paying for his sins.

First off all, I’m going to start with some Arrowverse characters who aren’t even on the show as regulars.  Dig and Lila no longer trust Barry because they now have a son instead of a daughter.  Keep in mind, they have no memories of this daughter, in their experience a child was born and it was a son, but yet, they really don’t trust Barry anymore because of this.

So, as someone who hasn’t gotten past season two of Arrow, yet, how awful is Baby John if they are this upset?  Is he like a demon spawn of some sort?  Or is he completely unlovable?  While I’m not a parent, I assume that a parent would love any child they have and not totally lose their shit over some other theoretical child they have no emotional connection to.  Baby John must be a real asshole is all I’m saying, considering the level of upset these two show Barry all fucking season.

Cisco this season is an unmitigated asshole, constantly.  He hates Barry for Dante’s death, even though Dante was killed by a drunk driver.  Dante, every time he’s been on the show, has been an over the top dick to Cisco all of the time.  Honestly, I tend to fast forward through Dante scenes because his character is so nasty and irredeemable.  But basically, Cisco is an angry asshole to Barry until the Crossover “Invasion” and then he lessens up.

However, Cisco is constantly an asshole to HR, the nicest and most fun iteration of Wells so far.  First Wells was the bad guy, season 2 Wells was an ally (eventually) but totally an asshole just as a personality quirk, while HR is fun, funny, usually in a good mood, a writer, and all around good guy.  However, because he isn’t a genius, Cisco treats him like shit, constantly.  By the end of season 3 I pretty much hated Cisco and considered him to be irredeemable.  Grief can make you a dick, I get it, but being a jerk to someone because they aren’t as smart as you simply isn’t acceptable to me.

Cisco sucked this season and I have no idea why they made the decision to make him such a total jerk.  It wasn’t interesting, it didn’t make for interesting conflict, it just made me hate Crisco for being a whiny ass bitch all season.

Julian in the earlier episodes simply isn’t believable as a human being.  He’s too full of himself, too much of a jerk, and too much, period.  Julian is new to Barry, but has apparently worked with him for over a year and they have a mutual hatred of each other.  While I can’t imagine Barry hating people who aren’t actual bad guys, I get why with Julian.  Julian is the type of co-worker everyone hopes drowns in the bathtub.  It is only after he joins Team Flash that he becomes more likable, but really that isn’t saying much.

Caitlin is turning into Killer Frost so she is also super annoying this year.  She lies constantly, she betrays them whenever it seems like she might have the slimmest chance at an opportunity to get rid of her powers, and she inevitably turns into Killer Frost by the end of the season.  First of all, the Killer Frost is evil and Caitlin is good thing just doesn’t work for me.  They are in the same body, same brain, and therefore the same person.  Caitlin acts like Killer Frost even when she’s just being Caitlin, and vice versa, so this whole storyline had me really hating her as well.

By the time she kept the philosopher’s stone, I was just done with her as well.  Yeah, we get it, Caitlin doesn’t like asking for help, but for the love of God this much secrecy from her own Team is simply inexcusable.  Furthermore, Danielle Panabaker does not look comfortable at all in the Killer Frost outfits.  She looks like she’s afraid of falling down while wearing a corset she can’t breathe in.  So over the top BDSM outfit really doesn’t work well with the actress as she acts like she’s uncomfortable even just walking, which really takes you out of the moment.  Season 4 is better as they tend to dress Frost different, but not all BDSM-y, but the completely awful and unbelievable wig never gets better.

Basically, this season, all of Caitlin’s actions are inexplicable in the extreme as she tries every single dumb thing she can to get rid of Killer Frost.  It’s stupid and it makes me think Caitlin’s stupid, too.  I feel like the writers don’t really know what to do with Caitlin.  First season, she was just either in grief or in search of Ronnie.  Second season is the whole Jay arc of pain, then this whole Killer Frost nonsense this season.  Find her a decent storyline that doesn’t make us hate her, sheesh.

The main three characters have always been Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry as Team Flash.  They are the core group of people we have come to care for since the beginning.  They were all three so likable and so likable together and played off of each other so well.  Their excitement for science and for helping Barry was so fun and so full of cool moments, but it’s as if they’ve abandoned the scientific fun nerdiness of the three in favor of stupid, unbelievable, BORING angst.  I get stories need tension, but the tension has to be believable or at least remotely interesting, and Cisco and Caitlin were neither this year.  They were just the enemies within, being dicks to everyone all the time.

Flash does a lot of this type of angst, usually with their romantic relationships, enter Barry and Iris.  They are finally together, living together and then engaged.  The whole thrust of the year is that Barry goes into the future accidentally, and sees Savitar kill Iris.  So Barry’s focus – other than blaming himself for everything that has ever happened ever – is saving Iris.  In the future he saw, they weren’t engaged, so he proposes, trying everything to offset this future.  Then Wally sees the same future, while Joe throws a really baby-ass hissy fit about Barry not asking his permission (for fucking real, Joe? Like, fucking SERIOUSLY??) so when Wally returns and acts like a dick about it, Iris breaks things off with Barry because he asked her for the wrong reason and “tainted’ their engagement.

Bitch, he loves you.  He wants to marry you, but he didn’t do it completely out of love, some of it was to prevent your DEATH and you break up with him?  Fucking seriously?  This type of thing is pretty out of character for Iris, actually, who is exceptionally pragmatic about most things, which is why we viewed this as the show having to “CW things up” with the romantic angst.  The next episode shows Barry going into the speed force to save the asshole Wally, while Iris is pretty cold to Barry and refuses to even give him a little bit of reassurance that their relationship is still salvageable.  At the end of the episode, Iris realizes that she was an idiot for breaking things off with Barry, but he breaks things off with her instead.

It.  Was.  Hilarious.  I don’t think the show intended to be hilarious, but it was so stupid, and Iris had been such a pain the whole episode that when Barry was like, nope, I don’t think so, it was hugely funny.

However, the very next episode is the musical episode with Barry and Kara Danvers aka Supergirl.  The musical episode was awesome and fun.  I love it when television shows realize that they have a huge amount of talent in their stars and just want to show it off and this episode did it wonderfully.  Grant Gustin can sing so well I honestly think he could have a career out of it, if he weren’t so busy being awesome as the Flash.

The musical episode has the Music Meister giving both Barry and Kara the whammy, and they wake up in a musical together.  The people they know are there, too, as musical versions of themselves.  Honestly, the relationship between Kara and Barry is one of my absolute favorite things about the Arrowverse.  Much like with Oliver, scenes with Barry and Kara light up the episode.  They have such great chemistry together, but it isn’t the type of chemistry that makes you think they are attracted to each other.  They have great friend chemistry.  Basically, I think its awesome that Barry and Kara just like each other and have each other’s backs without there being hint of romance.  Nice to see a platonic friendship on screen like that.

I’m Your Superfriend

Also, Melissa Benoist who plays Kara Danvers/Supergirl has as beautiful a voice as Grant Gustin does.  Their duet, “I’m Your Superfriend” is a fun, tapdancing number that shows the nature of their friendship.  Rachel Bloom, from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” fame, wrote the song, which I discovered after I’d seen it a few times, and knowing that she wrote it, I can totally see her humor in the lines of the song.

I actually saw a YouTube review of season 3 talking about how the musical was the worst episode ever and that Rachel Bloom was the worst thing to ever happen to music.  Clearly, I disagree vehemently with both of those ideas.  I actually forgive the stupidity of Iris and Barry breaking up because it was the set-up to the musical.  Both Barry and Kara have suffered break-ups and the musical heals the relationship problems by giving them perspective they didn’t have before.  So while I totally believe the Barry/Iris break-up was stupid and for no reason, it did give us the musical episode so I’ll forgive it.

Seasons 1 and 2 were both very solid, good seasons for me, but season 3 is where I tend to fast forward a lot when re-watching it.  Wally being obnoxious, Cisco being cruel to team Flash, Caitlin lying and betraying everyone at every turn, and Julian are a lot to take this season.  Lots and lots of unpleasantness there.

I’m not even going to go into Savitar too much, but I do wonder if the writers room ever stopped to think for even a second that 3 speedsters in a row as a big bad might be a bit much?  Or that having a big bad for the entire season that Barry is too inept to deal with really makes things drag?  Like, how about a villain of the day?  The stand alone episodes are usually better than the fight the big bad episodes, so why not do more of them?  This one big bad for the whole season bullshit gets even worse in season 4, but at least he’s not a speedster.

Savitar is my least favorite of the bad guys mainly because he makes the least amount of sense.  The show either needs to explains time remnants in way that makes sense or they should stop fucking trying.  Savitar isn’t interesting because as a bad guy his existence, even when explained, makes no sense.

One of the things I liked best about the season is that Barry and Iris are finally together, with the exception of 3 episodes.  Barry and Iris have one of the best relationships on television, now that they are together.  I am also really happy that they had them get together, and then they got married (like normal people do) and they are still doing well.  They tell each other everything, Barry listens her advice, and even when Barry is asking her not to do something dangerous, he still knows her well enough to know she’s probably going to do it anyway.  There are lots of little times between the two of them that are just sweet and kind and nice.

Grant Gustin “Running Home to You”

I think because drama revolves around conflict there aren’t many healthy couples on television, but I’ve always hated it.  Characters you otherwise like and admire doing stupid things to wreck their love life has always irritated me, so I’m happy that Barry and Iris as a couple are awesome and excellent rolemodels.  Part of what is wonderful about their relationship is that Barry allows Iris to be as awesome as she wants to be.  Her strength doesn’t intimidate him, he loves her for it.

Another great relationship that forms, that is equally as healthy as Barry and Iris’ is that of Joe West and DA Cecil Horton.  She’s a fun character and watching Joe care about someone other than his kids has been wonderful growth to see.  I really hope she becomes a regular on the show as her character is incredibly fun and likable.

Season 3 is good and still very rewatchable if you fast forward the crappy parts.  I give this season a C because of the above reasons.

While I’ve mostly bitched about the season, I will say that I still love the show.  The special effects alone make this show worth watching because they are consistently really awesome.  I love the fight scenes that are mostly CGI because they tend to look like the pages of a comic book, which is apt.  I know I’ve raved about the special effects in the past two reviews of the show, but they really are part of what makes this show so great and so watchable even when the plotlines or characters tend to piss me off.

While I really can’t stand Savitar as a villain the fight scenes with him are amazingly well done by the special effects team.  The final fight with Savitar against three speedsters is especially epic and awesome, and I continue to be impressed beyond all reason with the special effects, so kudos!

For those of you with anxiety, like me, season 3 of the Flash is the same as the previous two seasons.  The pacing sometimes left me breathless, literally.  I started watching episodes and cutting them off before the ending, because the ending was always a mild cliffhanger of some sort.  Alternatively, I’d watch the next episode for the first few minutes just to put my mind at ease and the cliffhanger would be resolved.  On repeat watching the anxiety factor is WAY down because the rhythm of the show is known as are the plotlines.  My anxiety makes me nuts for spoilers.   In that vein, Iris lives.  

 

 

Posted in Reviews

Kim’s Convenience Season 1 & 2

Normally, I review seasons of shows, but for the wonderful show that is Kim’s Convenience we watched every episode Netflix had in one huge gulp.  Then we watched it again.  And then, again.  When I don’t know what I want to watch, this is the show I put on because it will always make me smile, no matter how many times I watch it.

Mild spoilers follow, but nothing major.

My husband stumbled upon Kim’s Convenience scrolling through what was new on Netflix.  Because I’m always willing to give a comedy a shot, we watched the first episode.  This episode focuses on Mr. Kim or Appa – played by the gloriously hilarious Paul Sun-Hyung Lee – giving a “gay discount” during Pride Week after he refuses to hang a poster he deems an ugly mess in his store.  Part of the joy of the series is watching Mr. Kim interact with the convenience store regulars, and this episode is especially good at showing Mr. Kim’s place in the community as a community hub of sorts.

Based off the play of the same name, the show is about a Korean family that runs a convenience store.  The oldest son, Jung (played by Simu Liu,) had a misspent youth and is estranged from his father, although his sister, Janet (played by Andrea Bang,) and Umma, Mrs. Kim, (played by the wonderful Jean Yoon,) keep in surreptitious contact with Jung.

One of my favorite moments in the series is Jung coming by to help Janet with a problem at the store.  Appa comes home early and Jung gets trapped in the house.  At the end of the episode, Appa and Umma are in bed and start singing “I Got You, Babe.”  Then it shows Janet in her room – you think she is alone, and then from the floor on the opposite side of the bed, Jung pops up and asks Janet if she thinks they are going to do the whole song.  He then proceeds to sneak out while they are singing.

What I love about this scene is that even though Jung is estranged from his father, the love between family members is very much present and shown.  It doesn’t surprise the two of them that their parents are singing a song in bed together.  Their parents love for each other is something they know and take for granted as reality.

The show is full of really sweet and funny moments like this, and I always hate to call something heartwarming because that term is used way too often for very sad things, while this show is heartwarming in an uplifting, joyous manner.  And it is so funny!  I’ve had to pause and rewind the show more than a few times because I was laughing so hard I missed what happened next.

While Jung has more than a few moments with his family, his main presence is at his workplace, a car rental business, with his childhood friend Kimchee, played by the hilariously lovable Andrew Phung.  Jung’s boss, Shannon (played by Nicole Power,) mildly sexually harasses Jung in the first few episodes, but as the season goes on her awkwardness becomes lovable to both the viewers and to Jung. At one point, Shannon thinks she’s alone in the business, so she sings over the intercom as she shuts down the place.  Jung walks in and sees her and is both amused and taken by her being her unself-conscious self.  Also, the song she sings about putting away a staple and crushing it was pretty fun – I found myself singing it a few days later while I was doing dishes and crushing it.

It’s a show that can’t be characterized as a family comedy, or a workplace comedy, or even a church comedy, because it blends all three together pretty wonderfully.  Mrs. Kim’s adventures at church with her nemesis, Mrs. Park, played by the gorgeous and funny Uni Park, are so relatable for anyone who has ever dealt with a one upper.  Mrs. Park is very wealthy and doesn’t mind flaunting it.  At one point, Mrs. Park is talking about her Mercedes, and Umma says that she didn’t know Mrs. Park had a Mercedes as she never mentions it.  Mrs. Park, who mentions her Mercedes constantly, says, “I don’t?  Oh,” and then gives a beautiful, huge smile and says with pride, “I have a Mercedes!”  It’s weird that her insecurities and layers of unpleasantness are stripped away by her happy announcement – she has such delight in making the announcement.  Just a wonderful, funny moment.

For those of you who have anxiety, like I do, television can be tricky when it’s something new.  This show had me anxious a couple of times in the beginning.  However, after two or three episodes, I became comfortable because Kim’s Convenience is a kind show.  It’s people doing their best in the world – sometimes making mistakes, but always trying to be their best selves.  There are moments that are sad or hard, but they are few and far between – these moments also do a good job of showing how the family comes together when one of their members needs them.

I give this show an A+ for being entertaining, completely rewatchable, funny, kind, and just all around lovely.  You don’t need to be Korean to enjoy it, but if you are a nerd like my husband and I, you will find yourself looking things up.  Korea has a pretty interesting history, btw.  We paused a few times to read interesting things about Korea or what “yeobo” means (according to online sources it is like honey or sweetie, but only for your spouse, not a girlfriend or boyfriend.)  Now you’ve learned something new!

Netflix has the first two seasons available for anyone who is interested and the show, which is made and airs in Canada, has been given two more seasons for sure – that alone should convey how great of a show it is.

Unqualified recommendation – there is something for everyone in this show and I guarantee you will love it!

 

Posted in Reviews

The Flash, Season 2 Review

As per usual – spoilers ahead.  If you haven’t seen season 2 or 1, stop reading now if you don’t want spoilers.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  😉

Season 2 starts out 6 months after the finale of season 1.  Barry Allen (the amazing Grant Gustin), The Flash, has forced everyone off of Team Flash due to his survivor’s guilt, so the first episode deals with getting the band back together.  Thanks to Iris (the always wonderful Candice Patton) the team does get back together, because she simply stops giving Barry the option of pushing everyone away.  In many ways, giving them a family history – having Iris know Barry better than anyone – really helps push some of these storylines.  Family often will step in whether you want them to or not, because they want to help.

Season 2 is a good season with an excellent bad guy, although two big bad speedsters in a row is a bit tiresome (more on that in the season 3 review) but Zoom is appropriately terrifying.  There are quite a few good stand alone episodes in season 2, something The Flash should do more often.  Sometimes having a bad guy of the week is more fun than the tedious, overarching bad guy that looms over the entire season.

To that end, “Family of Rogues” sees the return of Snart and his sister.  This is a great episode that I would give an A++ to except that during the episode, Snart uses the cold gun to freeze lasers during a heist.  He then walks through the lasers as they break.

He freezes LASERS.

We had to pause the television set as my husband lost his mind to a rant about how you cannot freeze lasers and are they kidding with this?

I’m a big fan of Rachel Bloom’s series, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and there is a song in the first season where they sing, “Don’t think about it too hard, too too hard” and season 2 is when the physics, such as freezing lasers, caused me to sing this quite a lot.  This song refrain got quite a lot more use in season 3, too.

Here’s the song if you care to hear it

However, other than the simple insanity of FREEZING LASERS the episode is one of the better ones, especially for fans of Captain Cold, aka Snart played by the wonderful Wentworth Miller.

Season two is a lot of fun, and has a lot of really great episodes.  We get a new Harrison Wells from Earth 2 and the Arrowverse is expanded into a multiverse, which is pretty cool because it explains away any continuity problems found in other iterations of DC including Kara Danvers and Superman existing on a different world altogether.  It also gives unlimited story telling options, as the multiverse itself is infinite.

The beginning of the season gives us a new love interest for Barry, one we all know is doomed due to his feelings for Iris, but fun to watch nonetheless.  Patty Spivot, a new police officer who falls for Barry, is played by Shantel VanSanten.  Patty is charming and fun and it’s nice to see Barry interested in someone who is free and clear to be with him.  Of course, because this is a CW show and you have to have the stupid romantic angst, (why not have people get together and stay together? why is it hard to write a decent relationship on tv?) things don’t work out well between them and she leaves.  However, she was a fun character addition while she lasted.

Season 2 has a lot of good things – the new Wells being kind of a dick, Cisco learning about his metahuman powers – although him whining about them and wanting to keep them secret felt out of character by a lot – and the addition of the multiverse creates a really fun season.  Also, by the end of the season, Iris’ confesses her feelings to Barry, which is good as she spends most of the year grieving for her lost fiancé.

Having Iris actively working with Team Flash makes the show better all around and helps grow her character.  In season 1 she was the love interest and often bait and not much else, although Patton did a good job with the material she was given, but in this season she stands on her own more.  She even shoots a bad guy at one point.  One of the better scenes is when the cops arrive, Iris’ friend says that Iris is a great shot and Barry basically says, yeah she really is.  The lack of surprise for Iris’ talents coupled with his casual pride in her was fun.  Gustin and Patton do such a great job with Barry and Iris, and the writers give them a lot of great material to work with.

While I warned about spoilers, there are really so many huge spoilers that I’m omitting because finding out about them as you go is way more fun.  The whole season is fun, but much of the physics of the universe is insane, so this season gets a B-.  I don’t mind cartoon physics, but you have to make the laws of your world a) consistent b) sane c) you can’t freeze lasers.  Also, I knocked off some points simply because two speedsters in a row in two seasons focused on one Big Bad is tiresome at best.

 

Posted in Anxiety, Reviews

The Flash – Season 1

Spoilers for season 1 – although light, are present in this review.

Back in the 1990’s, anti-heroes were a somewhat new craze and could be interesting.  In 2019, I’m heartily sick of anti-heroes, which is part of the reason I love the Flash so much.

Barry Allen is a hero, an altruistic one, and it is so much fun to watch.  As The Flash/Barry Allen, Grant Gustin is amazingly likable.  Barry Allen’s mother was murdered when he was a kid and his father wrongfully went to jail for the crime.  Barry works as a CSI for the police department with his foster father Joe West, and he does it out of a desire to help the world.  Much of season 1 explores him trying to clear his father’s name and figure out who murdered his mother.

One of the things The Flash does well is it establishes an ensemble cast right off the bat.  Barry gets superpowers and he goes to the scientists at Star Labs for help.  These people become Team Flash and having an established ensemble cast makes the show fun immediately.  Unlike the slow build of season one of The Arrow, the support staff for The Flash is present almost from day one.

Cisco, an amazing Carlos Valdes, is one of the most likable characters in season one because of his sheer enthusiasm.  Cisco and Barry are both really excited and happy about Barry’s abilities, and they tend to nerd out together in adorable ways.  Cisco is also a techno-mage, although the show says he’s a genius.  However, the things he creates are pretty impossible (a gold gun that turns everything into gold??  Really?) and so I justify this bit of outlandishness by just assuming he has superpowers, too, and those superpowers allow him to make things like a gun that can turn anything to absolute zero.  So, he is a genius, but they really mean techno-mage.

After so many shows where the main character wants to be normal (I’m looking at you, Buffy.  What’s wrong with you?) I’ve found myself enjoying the heroes who embrace it and really enjoy it.  The Flash loves being the Flash.  He loves his speed.  At one point a mugger attempts to mug him and he just starts laughing, “Oh, you’re going to kick yourself,” he tells the mugger before stealing the mugger’s weapons and clothes and then stealing a cop to put right in front of the man.

It’s hilarious and awesome.

The one problem with season one is Iris West, played by the delightful and charismatic Candice Patton.  They don’t seem to know what to do with Iris in season one, so for the first several episodes, she is the damsel in distress, although she does show her badassery by punching bad guys a few times, and even shooting another that tried to take her hostage.  Mostly, though, season one is just every single character in the show lying to Iris and gaslighting the fuck out of her to keep Barry’s identity as the Flash a secret.  Her father, Joe West, played by the always watchable Jesse Martin (loved you since Ally McBeal!) tells Barry and the rest of Team Flash to keep Iris in the dark “for her safety.”

When Iris finds out she tells him, “Did you ever think that telling me what was going on would keep me safe?”  Excellent point, Iris.  Knowing IS half the battle.

I know television shows can’t just have a couple that is together and happy.  I don’t know why – other than maybe television show writers have miserable relationships so they don’t know how to write that kind of thing – but much of season 1 is simply Barry pining for Iris unbeknownst to her.  Or hiding his fun superhero life from her.

When you make a character the killer of fun, fans are going to hate that character, and I’ve seen a ton of Iris-hate online.  As I am a watcher of fan videos and fan theories on YouTube, I’ve seen more than a few that call Iris a “cunt” for what I think is basically no reason.

In season one, she finds out her best friend is in love with her about the same time her boyfriend asks her to move in with him.  She is lied to by every main character multiple times.  She knows something is up – this is her best friend and foster brother who she knows better than anyone, but when even though she knows something is going on, they all just gaslight, gaslight, gaslight.  How Iris didn’t murder them all at the end of the season when she found out is mystifying to me.

I actually feels bad for Iris sometimes.  Iris wanted to be a cop, too, but her father stopped speaking to her until she withdrew her application.  This is a woman who longs to be a hero herself, but she is put in a safety box by the men in her life, even though she proves consistently that she can take care of herself.

Anyway, her character is certainly problematic, but Candice Patton is so likable, so charming, and in a cast of gorgeous people she is the stand out beauty in the bunch – all of these things help to offset the fact that the writers make her the assassin of fun in most of the first season.  Luckily, once Iris knows about Barry, she’s incredibly likable, fun, and good addition to Team Flash – within 24 hours of finding out she saves Caitlin Snow’s life by hitting a bad guy over the head with a fire extinguisher.  If kept in the loop, Iris is a badass and a hell of a team player, which she illustrates in later seasons.

Dr. Harry Wells is played by a long time favorite actor of mine, Tom Cavanaugh.  Dr. Wells is an enigmatic figure in season one and Cavanaugh portrays him – his good side and his bad side – with humor and aplomb.  As a mentor and hero to Barry Allen, he helps Barry with his speed and becoming a superhero.  I don’t want to say too much about his character, but he is a fun addition to the show.  I think if you made a drinking game of when he tells Barry to run, you’d die of alcohol poisoning, but it’s always very fun.

Season 1 solves the mystery of who killed Barry’s mom, establishes him as a superhero, and introduces a lot of other characters that will be important in the Arrowverse.  It’s a really enjoyable season, with the gaslighting of Iris West being the only exception.  It seems like a small thing, but it’s bad enough there are times you almost hate the main characters for doing it to her.  Even her boyfriend Eddie says, “So literally everyone but Iris knows,” when he finds out Felicity knew about Barry being the Flash.

Grant Gustin does a great job of making the Flash come to life – much like Joel Grey, Gustin has a dancing background so his physicality as the Flash is fluid and believable.  Other people have played speedsters on the show, but Gustin has a comfort and physicality that comes off more natural than a lot of the others.

The special effects are also just amazing.  With the Flash moving too fast for people to see, most of the time when he’s running it is a red streak of electricity and it’s fantastic.  In almost every episode there are special effects that look like panels from a comic book.  With a character that moves as fast as the Flash fighting giant telepathic gorillas (Grodd), special effects are important, and this show would be enjoyable simply on a “ooh, shiny” level alone.  When the plot isn’t my cup of tea, I can be content watching how amazingly cool the visuals are.

Overall, I’d give The Flash season 1 an A.  It’s not only watchable, but rewatchable.  Likable characters, altruistic heroes, and old school comic book mentality about being a superhero.  Some of the best fun is when Oliver Queen shows up and you get to see happy Barry dealing with anti-hero and grump, the Arrow.  The banter in the beginning of the below clip never fails to crack me up – Barry is quick witted and while he has some hero worship for Oliver, he also has no problem gently making fun of Oliver, either.  Huntress and Deathstroke are characters on The Arrow, btw.

The above scene is one of my favorites and anytime Oliver Queen and Barry Allen are on screen together is gold.  That’s part of why I love the yearly crossover episodes.

Overall, this is a good show, one that I highly recommend.

 

**For those, like me, who can find their anxiety going through the roof during certain shows, this one is anxiety producing, but mainly because the pace is somewhat breathless.  First time viewing for me I had to pause after -3 episodes and do something calming.  Now that I’ve already seen it once, the anxiety is less, but even the music for the show is fast and almost frantic.  Watch with some chamomile tea or something else that soothes you if shows cause you anxiety.

Posted in Reviews

Unleashed Review

This review of “Unleashed” contains mild spoilers, but nothing you wouldn’t find out by reading the movie synopsis on IMDB.

I was sick over the weekend, and we spent the day watching the new season of “Arrested Development” and when that was over, I was grumpy and frazzled.  When my depression (grumpy) and anxiety (frazzled) kick into high gear, I prefer to rewatch something familiar.  Familiar is soothing.  However, my husband was home and likes to watch new things.  I decide what we watch most of the time because I’m very much a “mood” viewer and have to be in a certain mood to watch some things.

Rather than tell Will I was frazzled and needed something soothing, I just let him pick something because he doesn’t get a lot TV time and when I’m awake he gets to watch what he wants 80% of the time.  I figure I’ll handle my mood and just suffer through whatever horror movie he picks (he likes horror movies and his queue is just full of them.)

To my surprise he picks “Unleashed” a movie he’s been waiting to watch with me.  This movie was soothing and delightful and funny and sweet.  It was a balm to my frazzled soul – Will couldn’t have picked a better movie for my mood.  I told him after we finished watching it that I don’t expect him to read my mind, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when he does.

Enough about me, let’s talk about the movie!  First of all, the premise of the movie is a woman’s dog and cat turn human.  Kate Mucucci portrays Emma, an orphan with trust issues.  One night her door is left open and the dog and cat run away.  While they are gone they turn human.  Hilarity ensues.

The worst thing to happen in this movie happens in the very beginning.  Emma tells her rat fink, live-in boyfriend about this night sky app she’s made.  He steals the app and deletes her iCloud (I hissed, “Oh, you bastard!” when this happened, because he didn’t just steal her app, but erased her life, too) before leaving with a suitcase.  Emma copes by getting a cat and a dog and moving to California.

Sean Astin plays the cuddly and friendly love interest.  He helps her put up fliers.  Meanwhile, her dog and cat have decided to compete for Emma’s affection, because they both want to be back inside her home, especially one piece of furniture that is very soft  that they like to nap on.  The cat tells the dog that they can’t both be with Emma because humans don’t do that for some reason, so they must compete for her.

Justin Chatwin portrays the cat, and he was the highlight of the movie.  He gets picked up by a modeling agency, because who better to strut down a cat walk than a cat?  He becomes a big deal in a short time in part because he has the haughty and arrogant mannerisms of a cat.  Whenever the dog wants to get the cat’s attention away from Emma, he uses a cat toy to distract him.

The dog, portrayed by Steve Howey, is fun and likable and also provides a lot of funny moments.  The scenes where he and Chatwin interact alone are some of the best in the movie for many reasons.  Both actors really commit to being their animal selves and this works really well for the movie.  At one point they gang up on a bully and it’s a lot of fun watching them work together with their very different dog and cat styles.

The entire cast is likable and fun.  I won’t go on a rave about how great Sean Astin is in everything all the time, but needless to say I loved him in this.  My love for Sean Astin started in childhood and adulthood hasn’t diminished that love one iota.  Kate Mucucci is great as Emma because she has an appealing awkwardness that makes you instantly root for her.  She’s a great character to watch deal with this craziness and you really want her to succeed.  And she does succeed because it is a kind-hearted and lovely movie.

This is a movie I will watch again.  It will join my list of rewatchables because I know if I’m depressed, it will cheer me up.  I’ve read other reviews that complain that there isn’t enough tension in the movie, but that is exactly what I like about it.  This isn’t a tense movie and this isn’t a movie that will exacerbate anxiety.  This is a fun, funny little romantic comedy that focuses more on Emma’s life and pets than on the romance.

I give this movie an A and I deeply wish there were more lighthearted, funny movies like this out there.

Posted in Reviews

For the Love of Paula

I’ve been re-watching NCIS lately.  The number of shows I can watch without Will is fairly small and he hates procedurals.  Meanwhile, I find procedurals entertaining and NCIS doubly so.  Below are spoilers for season 4 – since they just finished season 15, I imagine spoilers are ok, but for those who have somehow missed it, SPOILER WARNING!

There is a character on NCIS in the early seasons named Paula Cassidy portrayed by Jessica Steen.  For my Supernatural readers, she was in the season 2 episode “The Benders” as Officer Kathleen.  I’ve adored Jessica Steen for ages as she manages to be awesome and interesting and heroic in most of the things I’ve seen her in.  I still think she made a better Weir on Stargate, but that’s a whole different point.

The point here is that in NCIS Paula Cassidy is quietly badass.  Her second or third appearance, while they are hunting for a serial killer, the serial killer kidnaps her.  Everyone is panicked and looking for her and at the end of the episode, they reveal that Paula Cassidy escaped and killed the serial killer with her hands tied behind her back.

How kickass is that?

The next time she shows up, her team is killed by a bomb.  At the end of the episode she saves the rest of the cast and innocent by-standers by tackling a suicide bomber.  She dies.

Now here comes the problem – her death can really be said to have been more about Tony’s emotional journey, something that I dislike because it’s just a little bit TOO Women in Refrigerators.  However, the way it is written feels more about Paula than many of the WIR moments often do.  She expresses feeling survivor guilt as her team died and she felt she should have died with them.  Right before the bomb goes off, she looks up to see her dead teammates smiling at her – this is a touching moment that brings me to tears, but it also is much more about Paula being with her team and being a major fucking hero than it is about Tony.

However, the episode does end with Tony in tears going to his girlfriend.

I love that Paula Cassidy is unabashedly a hero.  She is a great character and while she had a great death, I really wish we’d gotten to see more of her.  She was confident and capable and moreover, the men around her knew it.  Throughout the episodes she’s in she’s funny, fun, tough, and badass.  If only more female characters were written as well as Paula Cassidy.

Posted in Reviews

Altered Carbon Review

As with all of my reviews, there are spoilers, but with this series in particular, I’m going to try to keep most of the spoilers very light.  This television series is can be considered both cyber punk and detective noir, so while spoiling some of the cyberpunk aspects is inevitable, there’s no need to spoil the murder mystery aspect of the series.

First of all, I have recommended this series to a great many people on my Facebook account, but I did mention to my mother that she would probably hate it.  Cyberpunk isn’t for everyone.  In talking about this series, knowing a little bit about cyberpunk is helpful.  Cyberpunk is science fiction set in a dystopian future in an ultra-urban setting, usually with a great divide between the wealthy and the poor causing an inevitable underground oppositional movement, cyberpunk is almost always violent, and has technology that enhances humans in one degree or another.  Bladerunner is one of the best known examples of cyberpunk in film, although there are tons of others.

Altered Carbon hits all of these cyberpunk qualifications, and hits them hard.  I’m not always a fan of cyberpunk because of the dark dystopic future and the ultra violence.  When humans are enhanced with technology, the options for violence can become extreme which is not always appealing to me, but Altered Carbon, while definitely being violent, has so much more going on that the violence didn’t overwhelm me.

In the Altered Carbon future, humans are backed up on discs called “stacks’ that can be removed from one body and placed into another.  They call bodies “sleeves” and the series opens on Takeshi Kovacs being “resleeved” after being killed decades prior.  Since human consciousness can be stored on disc, humans can “needle cast” to other worlds, where their consciousness is sent to another planet and then sleeved in a body.  This allows for quick travel between worlds, especially for the authorities.

Takeshi Kovacs (pronounced Ko-vach) was serving a very long sentence for his crimes, but this sentence was interrupted when an obscenely wealthy man named Laurens Bancroft (portrayed by James Purefoy) basically purchases him to solve the crime of his own murder.  The police think it was suicide, but Bancroft refuses to accept this.  In return for working for Bancroft, Kovacs will get a full pardon and a large sum of money.  This murder mystery takes us through the entire 10 episode series.

First of all, Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs is wonderful.  The camera loves him and he brings heart and humor to the role.  Kovacs isn’t always likable and has many hard edges, especially in the first few episodes, but as his history is told and the story moves forward, much of his dislikable behavior makes a lot of sense.  He’s the type of character that isn’t really hard hearted, he’s broken hearted and so he has developed an attitude to keep people at bay.  Kinnaman is likable even in the moments when Kovacs isn’t and this helped me stay interested.

One of the fun things about the show is that one actor can play many different characters.  Actor Matt Biedel gets to play Abuela, a Hispanic grandmother as well as a Russian killer called Dimi the Twin, and a drugged out violent criminal brought into the police station.  His portrayal of Abuela is fantastic, and watching him in this role you really believe that he is Kristin Ortega’s grandmother simply in the sleeve of a very scary man.  The moments between Ortega and Abuela towards the end of the episode are funny but also poignant – Abuela brought me to tears.  Then, in the next episode, he portrays a loathsome underworld figure so well that you forget entirely that he was ever Abuela.  (Yes, I know abuela means grandmother, but she wasn’t given any other name in the series or on IMDB.)

Matt Biedel wasn’t even one of the main actors in the cast, but he still brought depth and life to several characters.  Many of the actors in Altered Carbon get the opportunity to portray different characters, and Martha Higareda, who mainly portrays Kristin Ortega, has one of the best moments in the series when she gets to portray someone else for a little while.  Her performance is amazing and it is the acting that really brings the concept of different people inhabiting a “sleeve” to life.  These actors make the sci-fi concepts real and believable.

One of the other aspects of the series that impresses is the setting.  The series is simply gorgeous.  Bay City is very much a dark and dystopic futuristic city, with the Golden Gate Bridge covered with container dwellings – who needs a bridge when you have flying cars?  In this world, the rich live in tall structures high about the city, and these buildings that soar above the clouds are breathtakingly beautiful.  Since it took me an episode or two to warm up to Kovacs, the gorgeous setting kept me not only interested but riveted.  I normally watch television while scrolling through my phone or laptop, but with Altered Carbon, I simply watched, even upon second viewing.

While I’m sure much of the acting was with a green screen as backdrop, the setting comes alive in a believable way that doesn’t look like CGI.  The city below is dark with buildings crowding out the sun which contrasts the rich who live above in beautiful, idyllic surroundings.

One of my favorite characters in the show is Poe, an AI who runs the hotel where Kovacs stays during his investigation.  The hotel has an Edgar Alan Poe theme and he brings much humor to the often dry and grumpy Kovacs.  Chris Conner is wonderful as Poe and I really hope that season two will have him returning.  Honestly, I could watch a show that was just about the adventures of Poe – Conner’s character was that fun.

As stacks can be put into different sleeves, there are several characters who portray Kovacs in addition to Kinnaman.  Credited as “Stronghold Kovacs,” Will Yun Lee is Kovacs in many of the flashbacks and is Kovacs’ original sleeve.  The scenes with Lee and Dichen Lachman, as his sister Reileen Kawahara, are some of the best in the series.  Lee shows us Kovacs’ heart by showing us his past, and he brings so much depth and emotion to the role that you cannot help but care for him.  At one point, Quellcrist Falconer (Renee Elise Goldberry) tells him that he is only pretending to be one of the monsters, and the flashbacks show this to be true.  My hope for season two is a lot more Lee – he was truly fantastic.

The way the series ends, it is entirely possible to have season two with an entirely new cast of characters, something I hope they do.  Although, Kinnaman was so great in the role, it’d be wonderful if they figured out a way to bring him back in the same sleeve, although if they handed the Kovacs role over to Lee, that would be wonderful, too.  I would love to see more of Lee’s Kovacs in the future – he knocked me out he was so good. There are many worlds in this universe to inhabit and many different things to explore.

After finding out that the series was also a book, I read Altered Carbon the book, and the series was better.  I almost never like a series better than the book, but the series made a lot of improvement upon the book.  They took the concepts and characters and built upon it in a way that I really enjoyed.  I tried reading the second novel in the Kovacs trilogy, but quit halfway through, as it wasn’t even close to as good as the first book.  My hope is that season two takes a departure from the books and has another noir-type mystery to tell, instead of the war story/artifact hunt that was the second book.

I will say that this series has lots of violence, including violence against women and violence against sex workers.  There was one episode centered on Kovacs going into a simulated torture scenario, but luckily the amount of torture scenes was low as the episode included flashbacks to Kovacs’ past much more than they showed the torture aspect of things.  So be forwarned about the violence in advance.  That said, between the exceptional story, acting, and special effects, this series definitely is an A.