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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Moon Knight: The Tomb

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Moon Knight, played by Oscar Isaac rushes to find Ammit’s tomb before Harrow, played by Ethan Hawke, in an effort to save the world.

I am quickly starting to lose interest in this show. The promise of really delivering a true depiction of this character is not coming to pass at all, very much like with Boba Fett in his show, the character has been toned down too much. The Steven persona is too silly and weak, and though he is supposed to be the more human side to the character he often just gets in the way.

I think there are so many better ways this show could have gone than the Indiana Jones knockoff it has become. I think tone is a big issue for this show because even in the final moments of the episode wherein the various Moon Knight personas meet another Egyptian God it is not treated with any pomp or seriousness but is instead served up as yet another joke, which hurts the show.

Another thing that is starting to irritate me is the constant baiting of the third persona Jake Lockley, the first tease was exciting, the second was okay we are almost there and then the third was like really are we still doing this. Bear in mind the character has been teased far more than 3 times on the show thus far.

The only redeemable aspects of this episode was the killing of the lead that felt gutsy, even if it did lead to the incredibly predictable mental institution sequence, and the continued greatness of Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy.

Overall, episode 5 needs to be pretty stellar to win me back, I’m fading off fast.

Pros.

Hawke

Calamawy

Cons.

The constant teasing of the third persona

The obvious mental institution twist

Steven’s weakness is starting to become annoying

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The Suicide Squad: Rats Save The Day

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Taskforce X are back with another suicide mission to shave some time off their prison sentences, this time looking to destroy a research project being conducted by a non US friendly Southern American Country.

Some out there on the internet are trying to create a moral outcry about this film, whilst others are loving it, so, where do I fall? Closer to the latter but with notes.

Firstly and lets just get this out of the way, this is not a family film, this is not a film you can watch at a family party or all gathered round the TV; the age rating really should have given that away. Many people online seem shocked by what they are hearing about the content in this film, and clearly they have never red a Suicide Squad comic book in their lives.

Yes, this film is very true to the comics featuring all the death, gore and general unpleasantness that you would expect. However, in my mind it does go too far but only in one respect: that is of course the birds. This film does not like birds, in the opening scene we see one mashed with a ball and then later on we see a bunch of them set on fire, now obviously this is all fake, but still as someone who likes animals this was a little uncomfortable to watch and I felt like the film lingered on it for a bit too long each time.

In terms of characters Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2 was my favourite, I thought she perfectly embodied the hopeful silliness of the film down to the bone. Moreover, I liked the relationship between her and Idris Elba’s Bloodsport. I thought the surrogate father daughter dynamic worked well and helped to push both of their character arcs along nicely. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is better here, and less obnoxiously all over the place as she was in Birds Of Prey, I do think Harley works best as part of a team, rather than being the centre of basically a solo film.

Overall, a good film and certainly one of DC’s best, it would have been getting five from me if it weren’t for the birds; but that is a personal thing to me.

Pros.

Melchior

The jokes

The character moments/ growth

The violence

Cons.

I don’t like seeing a bird mushed by a ball and then having the shot linger on it

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Batman The Long Halloween: Falling Back In Love With Batman

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I have been less than impressed with the last few DC animated offerings I have watched; however this film bucks that trend and is not only fun to watch, but also reminds me why I fell in love with the Batman world and mythos in the first place.

This is one of the few times when I have not red the source material before heading into a direct adaption of a comic like this, so I can’t say how faithfully it sticks to the original book. What I can say is that after watching this film it makes me want to read the comic and find out more about this story.

I found the mystery and plot to be engaging and interesting throughout. I enjoyed watching Batman try and figure out the mystery of the holiday killer, and I thought that it was fascinating to see this through the lens of a Batman who has not yet become the World’s Greatest Detective. I think this intrigue has been what a lot of recent DC animated films have been sorely lacking.

Moreover, I was pleased to see how many villains made an appearance here, and though there are quite a few the film does not feel overcrowded, rather each are given there moment to shine and then are quickly replaced with another threat.

Overall, a fun ride that reminded me why I care about Batman as a character.

Pros.

The plot and the intrigue

Batman and Catwoman

Joker

The tension

Cons.

A bit of a slow start

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Batman Vs Superman: A Vague Similarity In Mother’s Name Prevents Brutal Death

Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice is a DC comics-based superhero film directed by Zack Snyder and serving as a sequel to Snyder’s previous Man Of Steel film. The plot sees Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavil), butt heads as both fear the other.

So, despite what some would have you believe I actually like the films of the DCEU. I will say that they and this film specifically suffer from a problem of not understanding the characters, this can be seen with Batman as a mass murderer and Superman as some sort of alien Jesus. However, if you ignore comics accuracy or how we normally see these character portrayed there is still quite a lot of good stuff here.

I thought this film did a great job of introducing Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), I thought that she was easily the highlight of the film and the scenes with her in were terrific. I thought the best thing about this film is the world that Snyder seems to be building, I enjoyed seeing teases to past adventures and former glories. Though I do think at times it was a little on the nose, like when they find a laptop with all the other members of the Justice League’s symbols on I cringed hard, and it is clear they are trying to rush things.

I thought the Doomsday fight was a fun way to end the film, even if it did just boil down to an explosion of CGI and I thought the decision to kill Superman so early on in the franchise was a gutsy move. The one thing that bothered me was when Batman was visited by a future version of the Flash (Ezra Miller), with a warning about Superman. The scene stood out for all the wrong reasons, chief among them how cheap it looked, it also made little sense even in Snyder’s remastered ultimate edition.

I also liked Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor; it was a fun take on the character.

Overall, if you ignore how the film butchers the identities of its titular characters there is a lot of dumb fun to be had.

Pros.

Bold choices made

Introducing Wonder Woman

A rich world to explore

Cons.

It does not understand Batman or Superman

The future Flash scene bugged me

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Casper: Addams Family Shared Universe?

Casper is a fantasy family comedy film directed by Brad Silberling, based on the Harvey Comics character of the same name. The plot sees single father James Harvey (Bill Pullman), and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci), move into an old mansion only to find that it is full on ghosts, some more friendly than others.

This film feels like a good accompaniment to Ricci’s Addams Family films, a natural triple bill if ever you were so inclined. Stylistically, again quite similar.

I enjoyed the friendship between Casper (Malachi Pearson), and Kat I found it to be sweet and deeply endearing, likewise when they shared that dance together at the end of the film, I found that to be a cheer worthy moment. I think the biggest asset of this film is its hopeful tone, it really makes it a joy to watch.

As far as child actors go, I think Ricci gives a good performance, you buy her as the sad little girl. Bill Pullman is very believable as the failing single father who is in mourning but is trying to keep things together for his daughter’s sake, I enjoyed his arc and thought his reunion with his dead wife was a sweet moment.

Overall, if you don’t mind the dated effects, which to me added to the charm, this is quite a sweet endearing seasonal watch.

Pros.

Pullman

The emotional character works

The friendship between Casper and Kat

Cons.

It has some pacing issues

The non-Casper ghosts are overplayed

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Batman, Assault On Arkham: Fear The BAT

Batman: Assault On Arkham is an animated superhero film directed by Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding. The plot follows the infamous Task Force X/ or as they’re otherwise known The Suicide Squad as they lead an Amanda Waller directed raid on Arkham Asylum in an effort to retrieve an object of immense value from within its walls.

I have been meaning to watching this film for some time, I really like the DC animated movie universe, and this is yet another jewel in it. Though I liked it, this film is what the DCEU Suicide Squad movie should have been. An adult and gritty take on the Batman rouges gallery that isn’t constantly trying to get you to care about and root for its leads. This film knows that the members of the Suicide Squad are villains and treats them as such.

I like the lethality this film has towards its characters, it reminds me of the comic books, people die in the Suicide Squad all the time hence the name; so I appreciate that this film doesn’t pull any punches in that regard. I also enjoyed the Batman fight scene, I thought it was very Arkham esque; I later learned that this film was in the same universe as the Arkham games and that made sense.

Overall, I liked the tone and approach of this film. I also enjoyed the animation, I thought it was very easy on the eye and wasn’t too over the top. I would gladly watch another film set in this universe as I think there are more stories to be told and more characters to explore. That might be my only real issue with the film the characters were not flushed out at all.

Pros.

The animation.

The tone.

The fight with Batman.

The violence overall.

Cons.

The character feel very one note.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke.

The Howling: Wellness Retreat Ends In Werewolf Attack

The Howling is a werewolf themed horror film directed by Joe Dante. The plot sees local news anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace), go to a mountain retreat after a near fatale run in with a serial killer. However, while there Karen does not find herself or her inner power, rather a colony of werewolves that have been living amongst us for years.

I am a huge Joe Dante fan, as many of you may know I have a huge love for Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as for some of his other projects like Burying The Ex, so I will try and remain impartial while I am writing this review.

Truth be told, I did not love this film as much as I was expecting to. In fact I found it to be boring at times and a little hard to follow. I think from a narrative perspective a lot of the ideas don’t come together, they are fine on their own, but don’t make sense when viewed as a whole. I found the beginning particularly bad for this, but it does improve as the film goes on.

I think the best thing about this film is the creature design. The werewolf costumes are of course practical, and I am a big believer in practical effects over CGI, they look very convincing and even hold up to our modern standard years later. I also thought the transformation scenes were well done, not American Werewolf In London good, but still terrific.

I also loved the ending, I thought it was bold and striking; shame about the sequel baiting at the end though.

Overall, a little boring and rough around the edges, but if you like werewolf film there is still something to enjoy!

Pros.

The creature design.

The ending.

Dante’s direction.

Cons.

It is boring and hard to follow at times.

The sequel baity ending

3/5

Reviewed by Luke