Thursday, May 19, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 3 finale - reaction (yes, there are spoilers in here)

I haven't done a full-on review of any of the seasons of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet, but I've been watching all the episodes since season 1. Granted, I got a late start -- having only watched season 1 once it was on Netflix. But, thanks to ABC's online offerings and Hulu, I've been doing a much better job with staying up-to-date on AOS.

I saw the season 3 finale and I was a little bit torn.

First off -- I can't believe Grant Ward died. Well, he technically died several months ago, as Hive took over.

To be real, he wasn't the most amazing actor in the world. To be honest, I thought he should've been killed off in the season 2 finale.

That being said, the dude has managed to survive two full seasons after turning his back on S.H.I.E.L.D. in a double-cross.

That's a pretty big accomplishment --- and I was kind of looking forward to seeing what crazy way Grant Ward (or an alien in his body or his evil twin or his haunting ghost, etc., etc.) was going to make it onto season 4.

Speaking of aliens in human form, we finally saw what Hive looked like: a bit creepy and a bit Octopus-like. I think they should've done this a while ago, but at least they did it with the finale.

If that creepy looking, red-eyed, Devil incarnate was looking me in the eye, I'd freak the F out.  They did a decent job with the effects and makeup on his alien form.

Coulson wasn't scared because he was doing his best Obi-Wan (that was a great reference, by the way).  Playing the hologram game was a way to distract Hive long enough to try to find the warhead.

I'm surprised they killed off Logan. Well, I am and I'm not.

I was kind of surprised he made it past season 2. But, since he did, I thought the writers were dedicated to that character for the long haul. I can't say I was too invested into that character, but he seemed like a good dude, so it's kind of a shame he was killed off the show.

This entire second half of the season was much harder to get through than it should have been.

Season 2's mid-season finale kind of rejuvenated that entire season, with the birth of the Inhumans after being exposed to the mist.  I guess that's what they were trying to go for in season 3 as well -- with the trip to Maveth and the arrival of Hive on Earth.  I'm not-so-sure it worked though.

The episodes were okay, but they seemed disjointed.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Marvell Television Universe seem disconnected at times, but it seemed like the writers were in different rooms, writing their own stories for a good portion of the season.

The rushed departures of Bobbi and Hunter, the seemingly detoured episode that involved Mack's brother and The Watchdogs, and the episode set in Colombia that introduced us to Yo-Yo all pointed to the train getting off the tracks in my opinion.

I remember thinking the entire cross sequence at the beginning of episode 11, that ended up being a glimpse into the future, was kind of cool, but didn't make a lot of sense at the time.  If they wanted to introduce that to us in episode 15, that'd be more acceptable.

After all, Daisy had made contact with Edwin Abbott so seeing visions of the future would make sense.  Before that, though?  That's just sloppy writing leading up to a somewhat typical finale that was typical in the promotion of -- oh-so-typically -- the death of a cast member.

That brings up another point.  Did the finale really need to involve a warhead that was set to go off?  It's a show that's called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so there are going to be guns and fighting and swerves, but this scenario seems like a bad James Bond movie.  Oh yeah -- and the bastard zombies.  Geesh.

Griping aside, it was fun to see the Daisy / Hive battle.  Seeing Daisy beg for him to take her back was a twist -- one I liked.  But after Hive wasn't able to welcome her back and Daisy felt rejected, her anger kicked in and the battle ensued.  It's not often that we get to see Daisy's powers at full force, but she got to use them against Hive.

It was a little bit heartbreaking to see Daisy's reaction to Logan's death.

That flash into the future!  Can't forget about that!  It was really cool to see the new Daisy, but left me wondering about Coulson.  Agent Coulson, to be exact.  What's up with the demotion??

Meanwhile, the Life Model Decoys are coming, too.

I'm not sure where season 4 is headed.  I'm not really sure there should be a season 5 at this point.  The show has gone through quite the metamorphosis in just three seasons.  AOS has been a fun show to watch, but it seems like the writers struggle at times.

I'm hoping they do a good job of balancing the Inhumans, the humans, the agents and the oncoming robots.  Regardless of what happens, I'm still hooked so I'll be watching next fall.

Related Content:
Captain America: Civil War – reviewed.
Daredevil, Season 1 – reviewed.
Arrow, Season 1 - reviewed.
Thor 2: The Dark World - reviewed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Captain America: Civil War – reviewed.

I went to see Captain America: Civil War on opening day and, I have to say, it was great! Yet another good outing for Marvel here.

Let's get this out of the way right away: stay until the end -- the very end. There are mid and post-credit scenes.

Also, no spoilers here, so don't worry.

There were only a couple of minor nitpicks, but, outside of that, I’m not complaining.

So I'm not even going to mention those.  They were very minor.

I didn’t really know what to expect --- other than the fact that Cap’ does battle with Iron Man, which the previews indicated.  I’m well aware that there’s a popular graphic novel with the Civil War concept, but, growing up, I never bought that many comic books – not the newer ones anyway.

 I wasn’t familiar with much of the Civil War story arc.

 I did briefly Wikipedia the comic book version of Civil War about a year ago, but I didn’t want to spoil the movie, so I didn’t read too much about it.

I’ve seen all of Marvel’s other movies and kept up-to-date on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so I was all ready for the next big-screen project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The movie started out with a fast pace and while that somewhat slowed down as the movie went on, there were a lot of twists and turns, which helped keep the story exciting.

You didn't need to see the previous Marvel movies in order to enjoy this one, but it definitely helps. It's easy to miss how many little details there are in the movie if you haven't seen Ant-Man, Avengers 2, Captain America 2, Iron Man 3, etc., etc.

Most of the main characters were back for this round. If you’re a fan of the Avengers, then you are probably already well aware that Thor and Hulk sat this one out. I was disappointed in this, but it may have been just as well.

In addition to the returning Captain America, Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, Bucky, Hawkeye, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Vision, there were a few new additions to this Avengers-packed movie.

You've got Spider-Man (Tom Holland), The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd).

 Quite the cast!

That’s not including cameos from Stan Lee (yes, he has another memorable moment!), Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), Crossbones (the dude from the last Captain America movie), and a few others.

Cap’ and Iron Man duke it out, of course – due to differences of opinion on a few things – but there are some actual villains in this movie as well, so you’ve got some various storylines going simultaneously here.

Whose side do each of the heroes choose? That’s just part of the suspense in this movie. There are a couple of very dramatic moments along the way as well.

To contrast the more dramatic moments, there are various moments of comedy. Actually, there are quite a few moments of comedy – more than I expected. If you’re expecting a dark, brooding film, then you’ll be disappointed. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was more dark than Civil War – which is kind of ironic considering the titles of the two movies.

The big battle between the Avengers and their superhero pals ends up being serious, but not to start with. It's several minutes of fun and geeking out, seeing the various characters interact with each other.

I mean, who would've ever thought we'd be seeing Spider-Man (after being recruited by Iron Man) doing battle against Falcon and Captain America? Or Scarlet Witch taking down Vision?

Or Ant-Man making a huge presence in the battle? Definitely a geek-out moment!

The battle reminded me of one of the scenes from the old animated X-Men cartoons in the '90s. They always did a great job at mixing seriousness and comedy while focusing on multiple characters doing battle at the same time.

At this point, we're so in the midst of Marvel's phases that almost every Marvel outing is more like an ensemble Avengers movie than a solo film -- not that this is a bad thing.

This was Captain America 3, but, really, it was another chapter in the epic story that Marvel is telling right now. We were introduced to several new characters and those introductions laid the groundwork for future movies.

I'm hoping Marvel has their contracts sorted out because all of these characters have become so entertaining to watch that it'd be hard to imagine the next two Avengers movies without them!

Related Content:
Daredevil, Season 1 – reviewed.
Arrow, Season 1 - reviewed.
Thor 2: The Dark World - reviewed.
Red 2 - reviewed.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Daredevil, Season 1 – reviewed.

I reviewed season one of Arrow a couple of months ago.  Well, today, it’s Daredevil – the Netflix original series.

I watched the pilot episode about sometime last Thanksgiving, but it took a while for me to finish up the remaining 12 episodes.

I wasn’t blown away by lead actor Charlie Cox.  As of that pilot episode, I liked Ben Affleck’s portrayal better. 

I know, I know.  

Affleck’s version of Daredevil is considered one of the worst super hero movies there is, but I always kind of liked it.  It wasn’t incredible-amazing-spectacular, but it was good.

Meanwhile, whenever Foggy Nelson was on-screen I couldn’t figure out who he reminded me of.  It was distracting me from the show.  Well, Foggy Nelson (Daredevil’s law firm partner) is played by Eldon Henson.  Thanks to IMDB, I realized he was in The Hunger Games, The Mighty Ducks and She’s All That.

I also couldn’t figure out if I liked Deborah Ann Woll, who plays secretary Karen Page.  Was she one of the good guys or bad guys?  You know how some actors just have that look to them --- where you can automatically tell that they are a hero or villain?  Well, I was unsure about Woll.  She had a certain demeanor to her acting that indicated she could be a villain.  I didn’t like that I couldn’t figure out her spot.

Anyway, I finished up the series a little while back.  If you were bored, or just generally unimpressed with the first episode, keep watching.  It does get better.  Much better!  The first several episodes are generally exposition – all about setting up the characters and their relationships with each other.

It was the appearance of Kingpin Wilson Fisk that really got the series rolling.  It picks up steam from there and becomes one of those shows where you keep clicking ‘Next Episode,’ even if it’s 2 am and you should probably be getting sleep before work the next morning.

Vincent D’Onofrio portrays Fisk in this series.  You may not know the name, but you probably know the face.  He’s the guy from Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  I don’t know that I would have thought of him if I were casting the role, but he was perfect for it.

He’s not the extremely confident Kingpin character from the animated Spider-Man series from the ‘90’s.  This Kingpin is more of a socially awkward man, due to a rocky childhood relationship with his father.

He also has a love interest in the series, so it’s that’s an interesting dynamic that comes into play as well.  It's not one that is usually shown in most of the adaptations of Kingpin.

Another really great character is the nurse who is played by Rosario Dawson.  She may be the most recognizable part of the cast.  She and D'Onofrio were two great casting choices.  Kudos to the executives who green-lit those decisions.

Dawson's character may not really add that much to the show, looking back.  She serves the purpose of being Daredevil's pal --- someone who knows his secret and can stitch him up after some of his more brutal fights.

It's Dawson who really made the character more exciting than it was probably intended to be.

The thing I liked about Daredevil is that it’s a bit darker than some of the other super hero movies or TV shows.  It reminds me a lot of Batman Begins --- an origin story about a vigilante who is trying to save his city (in this case, Hell’s Kitchen) from corruption and despair.

It probably sounds a lot like what I said in my review of CW’s Arrow, except that it’s much better.  It lives in a more realistic world --- or at least more of an adult one --- than Arrow does.

I think about 70% of the filming of Daredevil took place at night or on a dark set, which makes sense since Daredevil isn’t Superman or the X-Men --- fighting wrongdoers in broad daylight.  

Daredevil is the devil of Hell’s Kitchen and the show does a great job showcasing that.
The CW Network may be investing in super hero shows, but the stories are still primarily ones that appeal to teens.  Daredevil does not.

It’s like the older cousin who has already graduated college, been to the parties, smoked the weed, gotten over the first heartache and has a different vantage point on life.

Netflix did a great job with the series.  They took it slow with the series, from acknowledging the comic book names of the heroes and villains to the exposition of their individual stories and, finally, to the development of their characters.

Even as season one ended, there was much more to do with the characters.  Really, season one is like one, long, 13-episode exposition.

Onto season 2, where the excitement should really pick up.