Powerless Episode 1 “Wayne or Lose” Review

powerless

Premiering on February 2nd, 2017, Powerless is unlike any other show based on the DC comics Universe. Mostly because it’s a comedy while the vast majority of live-action, Prime Time TV series in the last forty-two years have been dramas. From 1975’s Wonder Woman to 1993’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman to 2001’s Smallville and finally all the way to the current lineup of DC Comics based shows, Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. All of them have had one thing in common. They were all dramas to varying degrees of light and dark. And they were all an hour in length if you count commercials. Powerless is a thirty minute comedy. Critics weren’t as thrilled with it though. Rotten Tomatoes only gave it a 60% Fresh rating and other critics said the show has potential but the pilot didn’t show that potential and while the premise was great, it’s execution wasn’t.

Powerless - Season 1

The reason for that is because the original pilot was scratched in favour of another, once the series’ creator, Ben Queen left the series over creative differences. The original pilot had been shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, and it apparently gained better reviews than the broadcast version did.

When I first saw the trailer for the series, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I mean, I’m not really into comedies like Community, Modern Family, and New Girl. So when I heard that DC Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Television was developing a comedy set in the DC Universe, I didn’t think it was going to work. And right up until I watched the pilot I didn’t think it was going to work. Mainly because they were really selling it hard on Vanessa Hudgens and she’s not an actress that I particularly like. Mostly because of the whole teen idol thing that she had going on in the mid-2000’s because of High School Musical and her relationship with Zac Efron. The much publicized relationship between her and Zac Efron. Anyways, I didn’t have confidence in a series not developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, starring Vanessa Hudgens, and it being a stupid comedy like Community and Modern Family. I say stupid because I don’t generally find that kind of humour to be funny. I’m not saying that Modern Family isn’t a good show. Because it can be a very good show when it wants to be. I’m just saying that generally, it’s not my kind of humour.

However, when the pilot episode of Powerless was over, I discovered that I’d enjoyed it while I was watching it, and when it was over, I’d still enjoyed it. For four reasons. The first is Alan Tudyk as Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Van Wayne. The second is how they actually talk about the DC characters by name, without the vague remarks and references that fill the Berlanti shows. They only mentioned Batman once, near the very end, but, no fewer than six times did they mention other superheroes. Superman was mentioned, Batman was mentioned, as were The Joker, Lexcorp, Wonder Woman, and I think Green Lantern was mentioned as well. We also saw an extremely obscure DC character, Crimson Fox, a member of the Justice League Europe team from the 1989 comic book series of the same name. The third is that this show, unlike the majority of TV shows these days, actually has an opening credits sequence, using old comic book covers including Action Comics #1, and Batman #455. They also used covers from Green Lantern, The Flash, and Wonder Woman though I don’t know which issues they used as I’m not as familiar with those books as I am with the Superman and Batman covers they used, and the ones they did use weren’t memorable ones and weren’t used in documentaries and other behind the scenes videos. The final reason is that Adam West appears in the episode’s opening sequence as Bruce Wayne in a voiceover capacity. That was truly amazing.

Honestly, I got more of a ’60s Batman vibe, with a little hint of the Super Friends cartoons, from this series than I did anything else. Visually it’s very different from those series, but tonally it very much feels like it could either be set in modern versions of the Adam West Batman Universe, or the cartoon universe of the Super Friends shows. Regardless, it was refreshing from the dark, gritty Universe of the other DC shows, especially the darkest of them all, Gotham.

Overall I really enjoyed this episode. The series has potential but we’ll see what the ratings look like in the coming weeks. Because if the ratings are low then NBC is going to cancel it. I hope it doesn’t get cancelled though, because this is exactly the type of superhero/comic book TV show that we need in today’s world. And I am pleasantly surprised that DC Entertainment went this route with a live-action TV show, considering how they went with the other live-action TV shows, and movies. I highly recommend that you watch this episode.

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Riverdale Episode 1 “The River’s Edge” Review

Riverdale

First airing on The CW on Thursday, January 26th, 2017, Riverdale, developed by Archie Comics’ Chief Creative Officer, current writer of the Afterlife with Archie comic book series, and former Glee writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, was originally under development at the Fox network. But, Fox chose not to go with the series. Instead, it was picked up by The CW, the network that currently airs four of the six comic book/superhero TV shows based on DC Comics properties, as well as Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries.

Riverdale Season 1 Episode 1

Greg Berlanti, who co-created Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is one of the executive producers on the series, alongside fellow Arrow producer, Sarah Schechter, Aguirre-Sacasa, and the CEO of Archie Comics, Jon Goldwater. Unlike with shows based on other comic book properties such as ArrowGotham, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where the companies are owned by major corporations like Warner Bros. and Disney, Archie is an independent comic book publisher, and the CEO is merely responsible to Archie Comics, not to a parent company, so he is able to take on a role as an executive producer on a TV show or a movie in a way that, as far as I know, only George Lucas has ever done before. Which gives Riverdale an authenticity that most comic book based TV shows and movies lack. Obviously all of the comic book based TV shows that are on the air have support from DC and Marvel, but they don’t have the companies’ CEOs involved in the projects in any sort of capacity.

Riverdale has been pretty well received by critics. It got an 88% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus being that “Riverdale offers an amusingly self-aware reimagining of its classic source material that proves eerie, odd, daring, and above all addictive.” Metacritic gave the show a 67 out of 100 which is based on 35 reviews which is pretty good. TVLine gave the series a B+, saying “Riverdale actually turns out to be an artfully crafted, instantly engaging teen soap with loads of potential.” The pilot episode had 1.38 million viewers upon airing. While this is lower than the ratings that the pilots for Berlanti’s other comic book based shows, it’s on par with where ArrowSupergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow currently sit in the weekly ratings. So I think we’ll get at least a season or two out of this show before it’s cancelled. The CW very rarely cancels a show after it’s first season. The only exceptions would be Birds of Prey which was on in 2002, when The CW was still The WB, as it’s ratings were quite low after it’s pilot garnered 7.6 million. The other exception being The Tomorrow People, which had 2.31 million viewers for it’s pilot, but by the end of the season the ratings had dropped down to 1.01 million, with episode 20 having 0.76 million viewers. So if Riverdale‘s ratings stay at 1.38 million viewers consistently or rise above that number, it won’t get cancelled. Most shows on The CW currently sit at around the 1.38 million mark in their current seasons, even if shows like Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries began at around 4 or 5 million viewers.

Riverdale didn’t really catch my attention as a show I must watch when it was first announced, or when the series trailer was released. In fact, it looked about as far away from being an Archie show than it possibly could. However I decided to give it a chance when it started airing on Netflix here in Canada. And I’m glad I did. Riverdale is awesome. As a fan of classic Archie it’s definitely not what I wanted from a show based on the Archie character. As a fan of what Mark Waid is doing on Archie with the current stuff, and as a fan of teen dramas like The O.C. and Glee though, it hits all the right beats. And that’s really all you have to keep in mind when you’re watching this show. It’s not the original comic book Archie characters that everyone is familiar with. While the characters and tone of the show are closer to the current comics, these characters aren’t exactly those from the current comics. They’re more in the vein of characters from past teen dramas like Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, and The O.C.

In the pilot you don’t see the clumsy, spaced out Archie that’s in the comics at all. He’s more conflicted sure, but he’s not the Archie that Veronica’s father dislikes. This is an adaptation of the comics. Yes, it’s darker, and more serious than your average Archie comic would be. However the classic Archie stories are still there, and the comics are still being published, so if you don’t like what the show is doing then you will still have the old stories to read.

The only thing I didn’t really care for is the secret affair between Archie and Ms. Grundy. That was unnecessary. I don’t care that they de-aged Ms. Grundy because it is a TV show and you need a main cast that’s able to work for a long time if your show runs for ten or twelve years or more. I just don’t think Archie as a person, no matter what incarnation he happens to be in, would sleep with a teacher like that.

The entire cast is so awesome and they all look like their roles too. K.J. Apa is an excellent Archie, Lili Reinhart plays an excellent Betty Cooper, and Camila Mendes’ Veronica Lodge is a gentler version than what I’m used to, but I don’t think the over-the-top spoiled, entitled, rich, Veronica Lodge in the comics would really work on a TV show like this. This version of Veronica is more like her comic book counterpart from Mark Waid’s current run on Archie. The only casting choice I’m really not sure about is Cole Sprouse as Jughead. He looks the part, but we don’t really see a whole lot of him in the pilot and aside from the narration throughout the episode, you don’t hear him talking a lot either. He could end up being the break-out character of the whole show. Like Felicity was for Arrow. On the flip side of that Cole Sprouse’s Jughead might be the most hated character in the whole show. We’ll see once we get more of him. As long as we see him eat a big plate of hamburgers at Pop Tate’s Chocklit Shoppe I’ll be happy.

Also some of the “Archie” dialogue and references felt a little awkward. Most especially when Veronica called Archie “Archiekins”. That felt pretty awkward since this version of Veronica isn’t the same rich, entitled, and boy crazy character that she is in the comics, and hearing the character actually saying it out loud didn’t really work. I think they should’ve saved some of the references to the Archie comic for later episodes, rather than cramming so many into this single episode.

Overall this was a really good start to a brand new, non-superhero, comic book series. I grew up on Archie Comics, and I still buy the Archie digests whenever possible. I also enjoy the new stuff by Mark Waid, though I’m pretty behind on the issues because of finances and the logistics of actually getting to the comic book store to pick up the new issues. I’ll probably just pick the series up in trade paperback as the volumes are published. As for the show, Riverdale is going to be one of those shows that may not grab everyone’s attention, and some folks might not stick with it after the next few episodes, but anyone who is a fan of Archie will be intrigued by this series. Even if it ends up being a complete train wreck, people will be interested to at least watch the train fly off the tracks and crash into the jagged rocks below.

I think it was a great idea to make a live-action Archie TV series. No matter how old you are, and regardless of whether you’re a comic book fan or not, we’ve all read an Archie comic or seen an Archie cartoon on TV, at some point in our lives. We all remember being transported to Riverdale and hanging out with Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie on a rainy afternoon when we couldn’t go outside to play, and there wasn’t anything we wanted to watch on TV. Archie is part of our culture, and is a major character in the literary canon. Even if this show ends up being really bad by the end of the season, it’ll be worth it to have Archie in a weekly, live-action TV series. I don’t think it’ll be bad though because Greg Berlanti is one of the executive producers, and he’s hit it out of the ball park with the four DC Comics based shows he helped bring to the screen. I would highly recommend watching the first episode at the very least, even if you don’t watch the rest of the season. If you’re an Archie fan, or if you’re a fan of teen dramas like Glee and The O.C. then you’ll appreciate this series if not outright love it. Whether it goes bad by the end of the season or not, this show is my new favourite of 2017, and will most likely end up being my guilty pleasure show.

My thoughts on the first trailer for Power Rangers

Power Rangers (Teaser Poster)

On March 24th, 2017 Power Rangers was released to critical acclaim and leading the weekend box office…

Those are the words I hope to write when I review this movie when it comes out on March 24th. In the meantime however, the new trailer for Power Rangers was just released online. It’s amazing! I’ve watched it three times now just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. While the teaser trailer showed more of the high school/teen drama stuff, this trailer focuses more on the superhero/comic book/formulaic Power Rangers stuff that was completely lacking in the original teaser trailer that came out last year.

I’ve been anticipating this movie ever since it was announced in March of 2014. Most fans of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have been wary of the film, because they didn’t want to see their beloved franchise ruined by a reboot. However I was optimistic because Haim Saban, the original creator of the franchise is producing the film, and therefore has his blessing on the film. Obviously that gave fans some pause, considering the criticism that Saban has been getting in the last six years since he reclaimed the franchise from Disney and made some questionable decisions on how the show should be done in regards to adapting whatever season of Super Sentai they were making at the time. Most notably the botched attempt at adapting the 51 episode 35th anniversary series, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger into the 20 episode 20th anniversary season Power Rangers Super Megaforce. Despite all that my optimism and excitement about the film hasn’t diminished at all.

This trailer delivers on the Power Rangers action. We see the Rangers in the suits, the new Putties, Goldar, Rita, the Zords, the Megazord, the Command Center, Zordon and Alpha on screen for the first time in this trailer. Now that Rita’s backstory was revealed, I think her outfit is perfect. She’s the former Green Ranger, who was part of Zordon’s original Power Rangers team, but went rogue and wants to obtain the Zeo Crystal, the source of the Rangers’ powers, and give it to Lord Zedd. That’s a lot better than her randomly having a sixth power coin like she did in the show.

The Command Center kind of reminds me of a cross between the bridge of a Star Destroyer and the Astrometrics Lab aboard the USS Voyager from Star Trek: Voyager. Zordon, played by Bryan Cranston, looks amazing. I love how he’s a transmission on the Command Center wall rather than a giant head, floating in a tube. Which was fine for the lower budget TV show, but, for a big budget movie not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love Zordon in the TV show, and I love the original Command Center set, but, those were made over 25 years ago on a shoestring budget for a kids TV show. Definitely not the way you want the set to look in a big budget film.

The Ranger suits look so much better now that we see them in broad daylight, and we see them in action. I mean they looked really good on the posters and in whatever promotional stills we’ve seen them in. But, now that we see them on screen, and the actors moving around in them, they look way better. They also look like they fit the actors a lot better too. One of the funniest things in the original TV show is that whenever we saw the Rangers in costume in American made footage, the costumes always looked like they didn’t fit whoever was wearing them. They always looked too big. Most notable would be Tommy’s Green Ranger and White Ranger suits with the chest shields. Also their morphers never seemed to stay in place. Especially in the shots of the Rangers in the Command Center. Here though the suits look like they fit perfectly and nothing looks like it’s going to fall off if they move the wrong way.

One of the coolest shots from the trailer is a simple shot of the Zords entering Angel Grove and running down the road. The Zords were the one element I was really worried about in this film. Mainly because the pictures we’ve had of them so far, have been for the toys, and the toys just look really bad in comparison to the fully rendered CGI models of the Zords seen in this trailer. In the TV shows the Dinozords always looked really stiff and didn’t move all that great, between the models and the suits worn by stunt people for the Tyrannosaurus Dinozord and the Dragonzord. And the Zords that were in CGI for the later seasons of Power Rangers didn’t look all that great either. Again, it’s because the TV show has a lot less money than this movie does. However, the reason I was worried about CGI Zords on a big budget is because of the Transformers in that film franchise. You don’t want the Zords to just look like the Dinobots in Transformers: Age of Extinction, but you also don’t want them to look like the TV show Zords, or the CGI Ninjazords from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie either. Luckily I love the designs of the Zords and I can’t wait to see them combine into the Megazord.

Speaking of the Megazord, my absolute favourite shot shown in this trailer is the one of the Megazord punching Goldar in the face near some power lines in Downtown Angel Grove. I got shivers up my spine when this popped up on screen because, aside from the toys it’s our first good look at both Goldar and the Megazord. And they look so much better on screen than they do in toy form. The Megazord has more colour as the fully rendered CGI model, and Goldar doesn’t look like melted cheese. Plus in the TV show the Megazord fights were rarely this spectacular looking. Especially the ones from season 1 of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, as they were taken from the 1992 Super Sentai series, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and in 1992 they were still using models and people in suits to depict the Zord and Megazord fights.

Overall, this is a fantastic trailer. A lot was shown to us, but we still don’t know everything because there’s still a little over two months until the movie is released. We definitely don’t need any more trailers after this. It’s enough. We’re done. I am so excited for this movie though. This trailer amped up my excitement to the max. Such a great thing to see the moment I got on Facebook this morning. See you guys in line on March 24th!

Ready Player One Book Review

Ready Player One

Ready Player One is the geekiest novel I’ve ever read outside of the usual Science Fiction and Fantasy novels that I enjoy reading. The reason being is that it takes references to everything in Geek Culture ever, and packs it into one book. It’s the only novel where you have an X-Wing sitting in a hangar bay with a Firefly-class ship from the TV series, Firefly. It also takes the tropes of Young Adult fiction and puts a fresh spin on them, while maintaining the traditions of Science Fiction storytelling.

Wade Owen Watts is very much your ultimate 2016/2017 geek but in 2044 and 2045. He binge watches TV shows, plays all kinds of video games, and reads tons of novels and comic books. However, he’s into all of the stuff from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s that the creator of the OASIS, which is basically a virtual reality version of the internet, enjoyed as a kid of the ’80s. That includes the major movies such as The GooniesGhostbusters, every John Hughes movie ever made, the Star Wars Trilogy, and other popular films of the era. In some ways Ernest Cline portrays Wade as the stereotypical geek. Except he doesn’t live in his mother’s basement.

Speaking of Ernest Cline, he was the creator and writer of the film, Fanboys. So, it’s no surprise that he wrote a novel that is very much an homage to ’80s pop culture, and Geek Culture in general. Reading some of the sections of the book, especially when Wade is in “The Basement” chat room, talking to his best friend, Aech, about the video games and movies, I found myself thinking back to, not only, conversations that I’ve had with my best friend, but, with conversations I’ve heard between my best friend and some mutual friends and acquaintances. Not to mention every comment and argument ever posted on the internet about current movies, TV shows, comic books and video games.

I love the interaction between Wade and his fellow geeks/Gunters (egg hunters, playing Halliday’s game on the OASIS). It feels so much like a lot of friendships these days. The internet has brought so many people together, and one of my closest friends is someone I’ve never met in person, though I hope to someday. It also shows how isolating the internet has made society. In a day and age where we can buy anything, or talk to anyone online, it’s become such a connected world that we’re losing the real life interactions that were once the foundation of society.

The story itself is pretty amazing. Especially because of how many copyrighted material is actually used. Because of how the OASIS and the hunt that the game’s lead creator, James Donovan Halliday, came up with as a way to give out his fortune after his death, rather than choosing people close to him to receive the money, work, there aren’t just references to a movie, video game, book, or TV show, but, certain sections of the hunt allow the players to take part in a movie, or use an item from a TV series. Which is great in a novel, but, can be problematic for the movie adaptation that’s coming out in early 2018. When Kyle Newman directed Fanboys, he had to change the costumes, aliens, and props used by the Trekkies in the movie, because they didn’t have the licence to use the actual Star Trek items in the movie. But, Steven Spielberg is directing the film version of Ready Player One so, hopefully he’ll be able to get the licences for GundamSupaidaman (the 1978 version of Spider-Man, produced by Toei in Japan), and other properties shown in the book.

Overall, this was a pretty great book. I highly recommend it for anyone who considers themselves to be a geek, and to anyone who grew up in the ’80s. It’s so rare to find a straight forward, standalone novel in the era of epic sagas, trilogies, sequels, and prequels, that when I do find one, I eat it up. I enjoyed this book so much that as soon as I finished it, I reread it. Just because I could.