The Boys: Herogasm

5/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Spoilers

What an episode, The Boys and Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, take the fight to Homelander, played by Anthony Star and we get to see Herogasm in all its glory.

I will get my one little nit-pick out of the way now. I would have liked Herogasm to be a bigger deal and more of an event, like it was in the comics, than what we got. I am not saying what we got wasn’t hedonism in the extreme, but I would just have liked it to be grander, I suppose maybe Amazon stepped in and said, ‘steady on’.

That aside this was a great episode. The fight between Butcher, played by Karl Urban, Soldier Boy, Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, and Homelander was great. Like I accurately predicted in my previous reviews Homelander loses, and it will be this and his public shaming at the end that will lead to him going full on monstrous and no doubt declaring war on America like he does in the comics.

I also liked seeing the character growth of both M.M, played by Laz Alonso, and A-Train, played by Jessie T. Usher, part of me wanted to see A-Train get killed by Hughie for comics accuracy but I actually thought the scene wherein A-Train gets emotional and apologizes was incredibly well done and touching. I do wonder if this is it for A-Train as when he uses his powers again he seems to have a heart attack, if it is the end I think he went out on a hell of a high. With M.M I thought seeing him go to town trying to hurt Butcher felt very therapeutic and much deserved, I also thought him being the hero rather than getting his revenge really does show the best of him and why he is the heart and soul of the team.

Finally, the b story with Frenchie, played by Tomer Capone, and Kimiko, played by Karen Fukuhara, was very sweet and continued to extent out their character dynamic. I look forward to seeing them as a couple even if I do think it will be short lived.

Overall, a spectacular episode of TV.

Pros.

The Homelander fight

Jensen Ackles continues to shine

The ending

Seeing a TV version of Herogasm

The character work

Cons.

Herogasm could have been a little more outrageous

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The Boys: The Last Time To Look On This World Of Lies

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, returns to the States to settle some old scores and the Boys smell a team-up.

I thought this was one of the best episodes of this season so far. It was massively depressing for a number of reasons, but that didn’t bother me much as I have read the comics series and feel like I know where a number of these storylines are going, and am excited.

I thought the prospect of the Boys teaming up with Soldier Boy to fight Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, is really interesting. I think it is likely going to be this and Homelander possibly losing his powers during the battle that will likely lead to him going fully off the deep end. In that vein I thought Homelander appointing himself head of Vought and trying to get his fellow Seven members to take over different departments was incredibly in character and darkly hilarious.

The two things I wasn’t keen on and that keep it from being a 5 in my opinion is the continued relationship drama between Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, and Annie, played by Erin Moriarty, that feels very cliched and needless. I understand in the comics there relationship is often on the rocks but I think this season has really turned up the drama higher than it needs to be. The other thing I didn’t like was the Seth Rogen cameo, it wasn’t funny and just felt tired.

Overall, a near perfect episode, who would have thought The Boys could pull off a musical number.

Pros.

Ackles

Getting to meet the Legend

The musical number

It got political and I thought handled it really well

Cons.

The needless relationship drama

The Seth Rogen cameo

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Ms. Marvel: Crushed

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Kamala, played by Iman Vellani, starts to use her powers whilst also crushing on the new boy at school.

This show continues to be excellent.

So many times I criticise films and TV shows for not understanding the youth of today and for not being able to write for it, however, this show proves that it can be done and gives me hope for the future. I really enjoyed all of the teen angst of this episode, and thought that once again Vellani was just excellent in the role.

It was fun to see Kamala learning more about her powers, it is interesting to note that in the episode they make a point to say how her powers are a product of her and not the bangles, which means her being an Inhuman might still be on the table. I also thought the sequence of her saving the kid was really well done and I liked that it did not go perfectly first time, it feels like good character progression.

Moreover, I thought the scenes with Kamala’s friend Nakia, played by Yasmeen Fletcher, about her Muslim identity and fitting in were really powerful and well written. It also serves to highlight the importance of good well written representation as it can take someone’s innermost thought or struggle and showcase it on screen showing others who might have the same issue that they are not alone.

My one criticism of the episode is that the clearly villainous DODC agent, played by Alysia Reiner, feels incredibly on the nose. I am fine with it if she is just going to be a throw away villain of the early part of the series, but it would really be a disserve to the show if she were to stick around until the end or serve as the shows main villain and she feels like a cliché walking.

Overall, this continues to be one of Marvel’s best TV shows.

Pros.

Vellani

The music

The representation

The teen voice

It is a lot of fun

Cons.

The DODC agent feels almost cartoonishly evil

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The Boys: Glorious Five Year Plan

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Boys go to Russia to try and track down a weapon that will stop Homelander, played by Anthony Starr. Meanwhile, Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, tries to recruit more supes to her anti-Homelander resistance.

I am glad to see that Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, didn’t actually die and will not instead be a rival to Homelander in the supe game. I think that the season finale will be a battle between the two that likely Homelander will lose causing him to snap, and honestly I am very here for it. I enjoyed seeing more of the Boys get powers with Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, this time being the one to juice up. I hope more members of the gang do so it can be closer to the comics.

The Starlight sub-plot is again weaker, with everything he has done it makes little sense that she stays working alongside Homelander, but I will say it was cathartic to see Homelander put a definitive end to the love triangle between Starlight, Hughie and her old flame.

Overall, I think this episode brought the action and was firing on almost all cylinders.

Pros.

More of the Boys on V

The return of Solider Boy

The ending

Lots of action

Cons.

It makes little sense why Starlight is still in the Seven   

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The Boys: Barbary Cost

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After a very public rant Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, rises in public ratings and starts to feel like he can take on his Vought overlords. Meanwhile, the Boys ask Mallory, played by Laila Robins, about her time in Nicaragua wherein she saw the supposed death of Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles.

A slight step down from the second episode, but still quite strong. The octopus eating scene will stay with me for a while it is all kinds of messed up and really highlights The Boys at its obscene best. I do still strongly believe this season is pushing Homelander to an extreme wherein he is going to go fully off the rails by the end. In that vein I don’t like the idea of the quasi forced relationship between him and Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, I know he is just doing it to mess with her but I don’t see why the character would care enough to fake a public relationship with her, especially after she just walked the red carpet with Hughie, played by Jack Quaid. This again feels like more forced relationship drama.

The Nicaragua stuff handles better and the flashbacks for the most part work well, we get to see Payback in action and see more of Jensen Ackles Soldier boy who is quicky starting to steal scenes. I also thought the Butcher, played by Karl Urban, side plot wherein he is suffering withdrawals from the temporary compound V was interesting to see and his scene with his surrogate son was quite powerful.

Overall, a very good episode but the Homelander/ Starlight relationship announcement at the end just feels like forced in drama and the action is a bit lacking in the episode as a whole.

Pros.

The flashbacks

More of Solider Boy

Homelander going further off the rails

Seeing Butcher destroy Ryan and the drama of it

Cons.

The episode as a whole lacks action

The Homelander Starlight relationship twist at the end feels forced, more needless drama for padding

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Ms. Marvel: Generation Why

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Teenager Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani, dreams of breaking away from her strict parents and being like her hero Captain Marvel, sadly that seems like a faraway dream when we first meet her. However, all of that changes when she receives a magical accessory that allows her to have superhuman abilities.

I will open this review by saying two things that need saying before I get into a wider discussion on the episode. Obviously this series should be heralded from bringing in Marvel’s first grouping of Muslim characters, representation is very important and hopefully this show will allow new groups of people to look towards the MCU and see a hero that is like them; and that is a powerful thing. Additionally, my review for this episode and the coming ones in the series will be from someone who is fairly unfamiliar with Ms. Marvel as a character, I have read a few stories featuring her here and there but for the most part I am going in blind.

Now onto the review proper.

I thought that this may be the best episode of any of the Disney + Marvel shows thus far. I really liked the tone and the Edgar Wright esque cinematography and graphic blendings/ transitions, I thought this helped the show to feel fresh and different to both the other Disney + shows as well as the wider MCU.

Moreover, I also really liked the family focus here and thought it was done much better than in Hawkeye. Though I thought having Kamala’s mum, played by Zenobia Shroff, be a low key baddie, or at least an antagonist figure in her life is a little trite and played out, I thought her wider family dynamic was a lot of fun. Furthermore, the family actually felt like a family, whereas with the Bishops in Hawkeye, the mother and daughter felt more like estranged business associates rather than how I personally would view family, though again everyone’s family is different.

I also thought Vellani was terrific and instantly super likeable and warm, she sank into the world and character really well and I am excited to see more from her both in this show and the wider universe.

Overall, I enjoyed this first episode a lot.

Pros.

Vellani

The humour

The visual style

The family dynamics

Giving us a wider look into the MCU

Cons.

The mother daughter stuff felt a little cliché to me

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The Boys: The Only Man In The Sky

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, splits further off the rails and the Boys continue their investigation into the fallen supe Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles.

This was an improvement on the first episode in a couple of ways. I enjoyed that the series didn’t mess around with the will he wont he question around Butcher, played by Karl Urban, giving himself powers and just went straight for it. I am excited to see where this plotline will go.

Moreover, I enjoyed where the Soldier Boy storyline went I am looking forward to seeing more of Laurie Holden’s Crimson Countess and think she will be a welcome addition to the rouges gallery of the show. In that vein I also like that the show is continuing to push Homelander into becoming an outright villain in the public’s eyes and thought that killing off Stormfront, played by Aya Cash, was a bold step in doing that.

Again much like the first episode the thing that I am the least happy about is the separate Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, plotline as I feel that it continues to feel like filler and for the most part I just want him to get back involved with the rest of the Boys. The relationship drama that I complained about in my previous review is still here to a degree though thankfully it is down on the last episode.

Overall, the series is getting into its flow and looks to be heading in an interesting direction.

Pros.

Butcher getting his powers

Holden’s Crimson Countess

The further descent of Homelander

The continued mystery of Soldier Boy

Cons.

The Hughie/Annie relationship drama and other slow side plots

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The Boys: Payback

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

One year after Stormfront, played by Aya Cash, is outed for being a Nazi the world has a whole new view on superheroes.

I thought that this was a slow first episode for the most part. I understand why the show has chosen to start in this way, to show the changes in the characters and the world but I just thought that compared to other season openers this one was a little light on action, though the sequence with the shrinking superhero was a fun little bit of gore.

I like where this season is heading, with the Boys themselves having superpowers in order to fight the supes, like they did in the comics, and with them investigating an obscure old superhero group; there is a lot of promise for where it could all go. Likewise, I am enjoying seeing the series push Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, to the edge I think it is quite clear that before the season is out he will snap and become outwardly villainous in a very public way.

I am less than keen on the Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, and Annie, played by Erin Moriarty, relationship drama and feel like it is being used to pad out the season, maybe because they don’t have as much footage as they would have liked because of covid. I hope that in the coming episodes we can move away from the relationship drama because honestly it is boring and a little trite.

Overall, a good first episode if a little underwhelming.

Pros.

The tease of the Boys getting powers

The looming mysteries

The ending

The shrinking superhero sequence

Cons.

It is slow

The Hughie/Annie relationship drama

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Doctor Strange Into The Multiverse Of Madness: You Better Have Watched All The Disney + Shows

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Following on from the events of Wandavision Wanda, played by Elizabeth Olsen, goes on a multiverse wide rampage to try and get her kids back, forcing Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and other mystical characters to try and stop her.

I think this may be my favourite Marvel film to date, or certainly up there in the top 3, I really enjoyed the Raimi elements to this film and I thought the horror sequences were terrific. I liked that this film felt a little darker and more supernatural than the rest of the MCU it gives me hope for characters like Blade and Ghost Rider. I thought the Raimi esque shot choices and transitions were just superb, it really gave this film a sense of identity all its own.

Moreover, despite some of the more unrefined criticism of this film saying how they turned Wanda into a bad guy, I thought this film did great things for her character and felt like a natural carry over from where the end of Wandavision left her. In the comics the character is deeply mentally unstable and crazy powerful this felt a true reflection of that, this idea that Wanda is a superhero and that she is a force for good only, is both not true and also just a creation of the MCU- one they now seem to be breaking.

I thought the new character of America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez was great she easily held her own both with Strange and Cumberbatch and I eagerly await to see what else they do with her character, most likely a Young Avengers show or film. In that same vein, I thought this film added a lot to most of the characters from the previous Doctor Strange film that helped to make them feel more rounded. I liked Strange and Wong’s, played by Benedict Wong, relationship and how Strange eventually comes to respect Wong as the new Sorcerer Supreme and also thought the film did justice to Rachel McAdams’ Christine from the first film, tying that up nicely.     

The things I didn’t like about this film were all quite minor, firstly I didn’t like the Illuminati I thought it felt far too much like blatant fan service and thought there was no point to them existing other than to give Wanda people to tear apart. I did like the Black Bolt, played by Anson Mount, death however, I thought that was gutsy and some nice unexpected gore. Secondly, I have issues with the post credits scenes, with the first I think it is too unclear what is going on, moreover unless you are an avid comics reader you will not know who Clea, played by Charlize Theron, is and will be left baffled. The second post credits scene is just annoying and makes you feel like you have wasted your time. Thirdly, I didn’t like Strange’s relationship with Baron Mordo, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, it felt very much like some scenes were missing there as there relationship made no sense being where it was based off the ending of the previous film.

Overall, I think this film is brave, brutal and great for the MCU. I hope very much they can talk Raimi into coming back to do more movies.

Pros.

The horror elements and the Raimi feel of the film

Wanda’s progression

Strange and Christine and Strange and Wong

America Chavez

The ending

Cons.

Too many cameos

Uneven storytelling with Mordo  

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Doctor Strange: A New Advance In Faith Healing

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

World famous surgeon Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, becomes a master of the mystic arts after suffering injuries in a car accident.

I think this is one of the slower MCU films but there is still a lot to enjoy here.

The world and characters are all interesting, Tilda Swinton is great as the Ancient One and Benedict Wong gives us a first fun look at Wong. However, I would say the opening of the film and Strange’s training takes far too much of the film, it feels as though you have been watching for quite a while before anything large scale happens.

Once we start getting the big magical set pieces and everything starts to look at bit more like Inception things pick up. I would say this film does enough visually to allow it to stand apart from a lot of the other Marvel films. I thought the big final battle against Dormammu in the time-loop was a lot of fun and quite inventive, sadly the other battle against Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecillius was far less interesting and Kaecillius on the whole was quite wasted.

I go back and forth about how I feel about Christine Palmer, played by Rachel McAdams, on the one hand I think her and Cumberbatch have great chemistry together and there scenes do have a nice amount of energy, but on the other hand I do wish that they would have given her more to do or at least allowed her to tag along for more of the craziness rather than just staying at the hospital.

Overall, a serviceable to good Marvel film but one that does let down a few of its key characters.

Pros.

Cumberbatch

The time-loop sequence

Swinton and Wong

McAdams has good chemistry with Cumberbatch

Cons.

McAdams isn’t given enough to do

Kaecillius is wasted

The training takes far too long       

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