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Powerless: Parks and Wreck

Powerless

For every super fight, there is a city. For every awesome altercation, there is destruction, and largely comic book films have only just begun addressing the fact that heroes like to break stuff. The good guys win and the bad guys get sent away to Arkham or some frightening super-max designed specifically for villain shenanigans. But the aftermath is always, almost the same. Powerless deals with the aftermath and the prevention of each violent event. Luckily, Wayne Securities is tasked with the burden of helping regular people deal with their weird, violent world.

Epi-Pens and plagiarism

This series takes place in the fictionalized Charm City, which is apparently the brighter, more colorful neighbor of Gotham. Day to day, Charm City is bombarded by villains and heroes come to save the day. Of course after a while, any person will get jaded when they have to live in constant fear of city level destruction. So as Emily, played by Vanessa Hudgens, watches in awe as her morning commute is disturbed by a massive fight, other citizens just try their best to ignore it. At work, it’s revealed that Emily is tasked with helping motivate the staff of the strangely start-up like Wayne Securities.

The company’s hugest accomplishment was the creation of the Joker gas epi-pen, but ever since that, Wayne Securities has been coasting and just choose to rip off Lex Corp. It’s a funny premise and the topic of people dealing with super hero destruction is unique. However, that doesn’t mean the series is wholly original.

Powerless

Powerless

Old Familiar Places

It’s not far-fetched to say that Powerless follows sitcom formulas quite closely. The cast is made up of familiar faces like Danny Pudi and Alan Tudyk, both of which bring their bubbly charms in spades. Vanessa Hudgens plays the quirky bright eyed, small town girl quite well but this is where the series kind of falls into same-y territory. There are inspirations taken from a number of other comedy shows like Parks and Rec, along with other series that feature quirky characters and goofy office shenanigans. At the same time, Powerless also leans heavily on wink and nod humor in its references to the DC universe at large.

DC's Powerless

DC’s Powerless

The Staying Power

At the end of the day, Powerless is an inoffensive sitcom with a lot of comic book references and a bit of potential. The first episode has just come out and a lot of other shows only find their stride after a few more episodes. It’s a fun watch and only the future will tell whether or not this show will get a bit cleverer. Try it out, because there are a few funny gags in its half hour run time and its closest rival, Marvel’s Damage Control, won’t be out for a bit longer.




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Marvel’s Agent Carter: A Heroine in the making

Captain America is probably the most iconic superhero next to Iron Man, and Marvel’s move to play them against each other is a wise one. However, that doesn’t mean Cap and Iron Man don’t have long, storied histories. The First Avenger did a lot to solidify his reputation as the do-good freedom fighter with a strong sense of morality, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have any help along the way. One of the most important characters who helped him build up his confidence is Peggy Carter. In the film, she takes a secondary role, but doesn’t act passively. She isn’t just the prize, she gives Cap confidence, all the while kicking ass all on her lonesome. So, how does her run on TV fare in comparison to the movie universe?

Peggy Carter, the founder of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A Bigger Role told in Smaller Parts
The show wouldn’t be called Agent Carter if the spotlight wasn’t thrown squarely in her direction. Taking place a few months after Steve Rogers’ death, Peggy is sent to the SSR, a secret government organization to continue her work. Here lies the twist, however, because the work she is assigned is far below her station. After helping Cap, fighting a war, and having a hand in the downfall of Hydra, Peggy becomes a glorified secretary. At the same time, Howard Stark plays a big role. Like his son after him, the weapons he creates are often sold, and because that, the US government see him as a merchant of death.

Not just a dame in a dress.

These are the main plotlines and intrigues the series unveils over its 8-episode run, and the writers give everyone justice. Instead of relying on standard story tropes, they subvert every character in one way or the other. Peggy, in particular, is a strong protagonist in that she doesn’t accept her new, secondary role in the office. At the same time, she doesn’t lash out or act irrationally in a situation where anyone who has already proven themselves, would. Peggy has to help Stark clear his name, and that means she can’t fall to the perils anger.

Forward thinking in an Older Time
One can’t help but praise the series and how it uses a few progressive themes to its advantage. However, most of them are mired in some of the old stereotypes which run perfectly with the 50’s environment. Every one of her peers thinks that because she’s a woman, she is supposed to be delegated to doing menial tasks. Peggy, after getting over the initial shock, starts using this to her advantage. In fact, many of the female characters in the series use their perceived weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

These guys start out looking bad, but you grow to like them as the series goes along.

Agent Carter is also about dealing with consequence in the wake of hard decisions. Characters like Sousa and Thompson, who are both war vets, have to deal with their situations. The former was crippled and faces discrimination because of his handicap. Thompson, on the other hand, has to deal with maintaining a war-hero facade while keeping a secret that racks him with guilt. Every character here is strongly written, but my favorite moments are when Peggy and Jarvis bounce off of each other during their conversations.

They truly do make the perfect foils for one another.

Conclusion
It stands as a testament that at the end of this series, most of the people doubting Peggy’s abilities take a 180 turn and are even awed at her ability to out-spy a spy agency. Every character has their faults and strengths which the writers consistently build on with well thought out character development. I would say that Agent Carter’s 8-episode run is its only fault, but truly, if the show ran the standard 23 episode length, the quality of the writing and the direction it took will surely have suffered. You’ll probably end up binge watching the series, and re-watching it because Agent Carter is highly addictive. Definitely watch the show when you can.

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Galavant: You have to Watch this Strange and Friendly Fairy Tale Mess

Monty Python, A Knight’s Tale, and Princess Bride are among some of my favorite movies of all time. Monty Python for its absurd and referential humor, A Knight’s Tale because it’s a classic underdog story scored by classic rock, and finally, Princess Bride because it’s a genuinely warm adaptation of a good book. So it’s no surprise that I find Galavant so endlessly charming and funny.

It wouldn’t be Fantasy without Random Musical Numbers
It really wouldn’t and in Galavant, we’re treated to satire rather than pop. It comes from a very unconventional set-up. Characters in the series end up filling their own standard fantasy trope. There’s the Hero, his faithful squire, the princess in need, the tyrannical king, and the mysterious maiden. Of course, it wouldn’t be a fun series without self-awareness and a ton of satire. Galavant, for instance, is washed up after getting his one true love stolen by the said king. In his drunken haze, he doesn’t realize that the king is a lot more incompetent than evil, and in fact, forced his beloved to become his queen out of a sense of kingly privilege. All of these plot lines are reviewed during the sickeningly catchy title song.

Less Once Upon a Time and more Stumbling On a Washed Up Drunk

There are around 3 songs per episode, cut into short 1-2 minute segments in order to accommodate episode length. A lot of them come with a Shrek/Disney vibe to them, but this is where Monty Python comes barreling in with a keg of ale. Every song has a comedic element attached to it, mostly discussing their current issues but not without a few self-aware pokes. The first track from the second episode ends with Galavant gasping for air, complaining that it was “a long song”. However, like most comedy themed off-beat shows, most of the jokes are hit or miss.

The Humor: The Gags are hard to Pin Down
Galavant likes to throw out its jokes quickly and with consistency. Because of it, the series does suffer some lapses in quality. In one minute, the show lampoons montages with a montage of its own, and in the next lie yo mama jokes. There are quality set-ups that take episodes before they pay off, but it is worth a watch even when you’re slogging through the second song during of the episode. However, what makes the difference here is that even the bland jokes feel sincere. Thanks to the chemistry of the cast and their genuine enthusiasm, Galvant’s songs and bad jokes become welcome.

His face speaks volumes on the art of Murder and Friendship

Conclusion
Galavant goes on my list of shows you must watch, but not because it offers top tier writing or for deep story lines. The show is funny and weird, foregoing and accepting genre stereotypes like the need for diversity or a mandatory love duet. Catch it while you can, you might even enjoy its unhinged humor. On that note, Vinnie Jones should be given an award for his impossibly quick switch from scary badass to big dumb sweetheart.

Now I’m off on a secret mission, I’ve got me a secret plan, I’m going to go and slay my foe, as quietly as I can. I’ll sneak up and then surprise him, before he has time to think. I’m off and away but first another drink!

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Anime Assault: Kill La Kill

GIGA! DRILL! STRIIIIPPPPPEEERR!

Kill La Kill, for the most part, holds equal parts allure and scathing human insight into our world. Made by the same people who brought you Gurren Lagann, this anime was, for the most part, traditionally drawn and animated. It revolves around a girl named Matoi Ryuuko as she transfers to Honnouji Academy, a school ruled and controlled by Kiryuuin Satsuki, which for the most part is an all-around upstanding antagonist. Fuelled by the death of her Father, and wielding one half of a giant scissor sword, Matoi goes on a quest for vengeance against the patricidal murderer and the god robes, powerful school uniforms worn by Satsuki and her school elite. This isn’t some run of the mill battle anime either, it holds a lot of World War II symbolisms, let me just go through a few.

Hail Hy- W-We mean Satsuki!

War… War Never Changes unless the Fighters are Half or Fully Naked

The first few episodes revolve around the arrival of Ryuuko, who for the most part, represents the allied powers as they enter the fray…. Okay, are the weak ones gone? Let’s get down to business. Kill La Kill offers viewers a good splash of color, action, animation, score, and yes, feels all rolled up into one big throw back to Gurren Lagann. Being made by the same team, it is filled with reality punching sequences and all out spam attacks that leave you begging for more.

Oh wait… Did I mention fan service?

We got boobs for days…

Well there is a lot of it. From panty shots to upskirts, underboob, sideboob, and even boob flopping, it’s all in there. Not to mention, the character designs and animations are just gorgeous. The way they use a chalk and doodle style for the effects are simply amazing. That’s not to grab away from the dialogue and the Music though, but you will revel at the colourful backgrounds of the slums to the near uniform grey of Honnouji academy, they all look beautiful on your screen.

Hits all the right Notes

The score is something worth listening to as well. The Four Devas, students who basically serve as area bosses for Matoi to reach Satsuki, get wonderful background music that sets the mood and suspense. Even the magical girl transformation from high school student to semi-nude, leather clad, warrior princesses has this distinct song during the whole transformation to get you pumped for the upcoming battle filled with stars, explosions, and undergarments.

Watch it Because…

It is of note that, as much as the whole of the series alludes to the Second World War, it can be interpreted as a really good coming of age story of Matoi, as well as Satsuki. The way this plays out can’t be stressed enough without you watching the whole series, which I massively push you to do sometime right now. There are moments where you just well up with a feeling of warmth and how you feel for the characters. And in the end, a big lesson of overcoming rebellion, desire, preconceived notions, and clothes gives you a sense of passion with moving on and being content.

I highly recommend you watch this anime if not for the feels, then the fan service and the good battle animations. If you like more of the things you saw in Kill La Kill, you could try Gurren Lagann and Space Dandy for some over the top action and a few good laughs.


 




 


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The Strain: Slow Boiling Action Bonanza

Boy, Guillermo Del Toro is getting a lot of gigs lately, and I’m truly happy for the guy. I’m a bit of a fanboy when it comes to his work, and that’s mostly because his earlier films were brilliantly poetic horror films. I could probably throw in Edgar Allen Poe right in there too, but this is an article about The Strain. Well, for starters, this series isn’t exactly going to hook you immediately and if you’re not familiar with Del Toro’s work that can be a turn off.

The Slow Boil

One thing that The Strain gets right about horror is that it’s doesn’t want to rush. The story builds over the course of a few episodes, and in that time, we’re introduced to the characters. There’s Ephraim, the negligent workaholic/recovering alcoholic father, and his family. Fet, the hyper competent, anti-social pest exterminator. Gus is a Latino thug who loves his family and friends, and who is also my second favorite in the series. Nora, who follows the same line as Gus but with less of a sketchy past being that she, is a doctor. There’s Satrakian, basically a facsimile of Van Helsing but who is more awesome just by being an ass kicking senior. And finally, there’s Dutch Velders… She plays the redemption story line well, or at least better than any of these characters because her fault is evident and bigger.

Satrakian

Senior Citizen Ass Kickery

It’s a mark of how memorable these characters are, I guess, that I take the time to nitpick them, but the issue here lies in how slow their stories unravel. It takes a few episodes before the show finds its stride, but that’s okay because when it does, The Strain gets very good very quickly. In fact, I’d say any amount of patience you lend this series will get repaid in spades.

Melt in your Mouth Action

Okay, The Strain is supposed to be a horror, and it is in a traditional sense. Tense moments often crop when you know the characters are in danger, but they don’t last as long as you might want them to. An occasional jumpscare will have your heart pumping real quickly, but there is very little suspense to be had in The Strain. What I do keep coming back for is how the danger brings out some pretty awesome and creative action scenes. There’s a part where Ephraim’s son owns at being an independent character, rather than being very useless plot point. Possibly the best fight, however, is the finale engagement against the master himself. This actually segues into the next issue people have about the series.

The Vamps

There are countless movies and series have been awash with vampire lore; taking them away from what they once were. Ann Rice may be at fault here, but there is a lot of value to be found in the seductive tempter. The vampires in this series don’t look very good, and often seem too covered in prosthetics. But I realized one thing about them all. They all look like the original film vampire, Nosferatu.

Waiting for a tentacle

Waiting for a tentacle

The Point

The Strain is fun and reminds me of the first 5 seasons of Supernatural. However, there is a sense of impending dread in the finale, which you know will bite you back in the ass eventually. I’d recommend this series to folks who are tired of zombie shows and don’t want to jump into superhero centric series like The Flash, Constantine, Gotham, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Gotham: It ain’t exactly Good

God, I wanted Gotham to be good.

I wanted Gotham to be great and in many cases it is, but unfortunately, it’s not the best thing on TV right now. The thing about Gotham is that it’s supposed to be about a prequel. It’s the place where Arkham, The Joker, Riddler, Hush, Scarecrow, and everyone found their start.

Gotham gets that, way too much and tries to play it straight faced all the way through.

The acting is great; every person plays their role well enough. Donal Logue does a great Harvey, but this is where I learn to doubt this series. The first episode is too filled with Batman related origins, and I get that it’s supposed to be about that, but even then, you get the feel that the creators are shoving too much in one episode.

Gotham

Gotham

Gordon is a great character on his own, but in the span of 45 minutes, almost half of the Batman villain lore is revealed. It doesn’t end up interesting enough to follow. Gotham’s filled with interesting characters and they are building Gordon to be the realist he eventually becomes. In many ways though, their trying to rush it, milking the first episode for as much nerd love as they can and that sucks. This is true for everyone except Fish Mooney, who is supposedly going up against the biggest crime syndicates in the city. She’s charismatic and fun to follow along with.

Spoiler warning:

For those that know a thing or two about Batman, here are some extra gripes I have about Gotham’s storyline. Okay, you have to admit that there are too many references into the series that don’t matter right now. Donal, one of my favorite underused actors, plays Clayface. Freaking Clayface! Penguin, Joker, Catwoman, and countless other major players show up in the first episode, making this series seem like its setting up stories that won’t play out that well. Like rolling several die many times and trying to keep track of each result while they’re rerolled again and again.

Conclusion

In the end, this series would have played better if the writers made it unravel like a slow boiling crime drama. A slow introduction and development of characters would have made each of them fuller and able to pull off bigger arcs. If you want to try something a little more fun, The Flash is now on its second episode. Sure, it’s a little dumber than Gotham, but at the same time, The Flash is also a lot more fun to watch.

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In the Flesh: Whooping the Walking Dead’s Rotting Bum (A Review)

In The Flesh

In the Flesh opens like any other standard zombie fare would. A young woman rolls around on a shopping cart, gleefully collecting supplies. She’s having a conversation through a walkie talkie, and that provides enough distraction for the undead to get the drop on her. What ensues is a bloody scene, where one would assume the hero would be introduced. But not in the way you’d expect him to be.

Now I’m a firm believer of Internet rules, so here it goes. The show is great and the writing is brilliant, however if I mention the plotline, I’d be robbing you of a good hook.

So… LOL 5P01L3R5…

Are you still here? Well then, you must be interested in hearing the rest of the story. What happens in the grocery, as I mentioned, seems like a standard action set up, almost reminiscent of that one moment in 28 Days Later. However, instead of heroes popping in to kill the zombies, turns out it was all a flashback and the one having it is a reformed zombie. What follows next are a series of revelations about a Rising of the dead in 2009. How neighborhoods fought back, and how humanity managed to find a cure for the rotter disease.

In The Flesh

In The Flesh

Now a lot of you can probably figure out from here that this reintegration into society might be a heavy handed metaphor for racial integration. In fact, one of the major factions in the town is a local militia hell bent on keeping this from happening and that almost mirrors the equal rights groups during the civil rights movement. It might actually be a clever means of getting you hooked in, but I’ll leave the heavy thinking to you guys.

There’s a new level of drama to be had here that the Walking Dead television series has yet to touch. While WD is still one of the best currently running graphic novels around, its TV counterpart may need a little help with its inconsistent writing. Maybe they can learn a thing or two from In the Flesh’s well-paced and twist filled storytelling.

In The Flesh

In The Flesh

If you’re still interested in redemptive storylines, check out the returned. It’s a French zombie show that runs a lot slower, but boils a lot harder. For people who want a lighter twist on the cured zombie concept, you can check out Warm Bodies.

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Gotta Voice Em’ All!

Pokemon

Voice actor and game music composer Elspeth Eastman just released her cover of PokeRap. While she’s sticking with the original 151, this cover sorta sticks out cause she’s voicing them all.

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Someone Was Nice Enough To Create Subs And We Were Better Off Before

Dragon Ball Z 2015

So far we know the Dragon Balls might have been collected again, and Gokou is going berzerk again. We’re as stumped as you. The movie will be out in 2015.

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Not So Icy After All You Winter Soldier You!

Winter Soldier

MTV has release this short but sweet exclusive from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The only reason to be sad: it’s too damn short because c’mon who doesn’t love bloopers! Doctor Doom?

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