Sunday, 29 September 2013

Arrow Season 1 Review


Now that the second season of the hit series is rapidly approaching, I feel as though it is appropriate to review DC Comics latest series, Arrow.

I am also a huge fan of DC Comics and superhero movies/TV series. After the huge success of "Smallville", the ten year journey of Clark Kent becoming Superman, I was ecstatic to know that DC  Comics and CW were making a new television series about Green Arrow. I am always on the lookout for new DC comics TV series and movies and was sure glad that they decided to create one.

I was looking forward to this television series but what struck me the most is that they had mentioned that it would be a kind of a reboot to the character and that Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) would be a lot different to the comic book version. It has been a long time since I watched decent television as most programs became awful and boring somewhere within the first few episodes, but I was thrilled to hear an announcement for a program about Green Arrow.
Being a reboot of the DC Comics character, Oliver Queen is a dangerous, aggressive but passionate person who seems to have an agenda about his goals. The series begins in a usual manner of Oliver running across harsh terrain on a deserted island desperately trying to catch the attention of a fishing boat, but then it starts to move at a nice pace with a lot of revelations about Oliver's past. Oliver was stranded on a deserted island for 5 years after his father's ship capsized, changing the young brash teenager into a hardened man who comes back to haunt the corrupt in Starling City.

What I find interesting is that Oliver isn't considered to be a superhero but a dangerous vigilante stalking the streets of his city. Oliver Queen becomes an expert archer and isn't afraid of killing people to achieve his goals, even if it means having the Starling City Police Department after him. It is fantastic series for regular viewers looking for  "superheroes without superpowers" entertainment. Rather than all these superhero movies that have a main character with immense power, "Arrow" rests upon a troubled character who's body and mind has been subjected to torture for years. 

The humanization of the character is done extremely well as it shows that when he has been rescued, Oliver is still coping with what happened on the island. The origin story is  within the actual real-time story line and it allows viewers to understand what troubles and dangers were experienced by Oliver on the Island.

The flashbacks in Arrow are similar to those in the Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Arrow is mainly set in the present but there are flashbacks to show Oliver's time on the Island and the dangerous characters that he meets. There is a huge variety of characters in Arrow, some more recognizable than others. Slade Wilson, for example, is a mercenary trapped on the Island, who becomes Oliver's mentor and protector on the Island. In DC Comics, he is known as Deathstroke. The characters stories have been changed dramatically from the original DC Comics stories but fortunately, it fits in with the story.

Stephen Amell does a brilliant job portraying a troubled hero on a mission to eradicate evil. Stereotypical, maybe but isn't that a superhero's job?  He successfully switches from being the brutal and angry vigilante to the partying billionaire playboy brilliantly which reminds me of the Christian Bale's performance in Nolan's epic trilogy.

It's not all good news however as there are a few nitpicks that stop Arrow from becoming a masterpiece. The problems I have are mainly with the directing of a few episodes. The faults really lie with the writing and direction of a few episodes. A few of the villains could've been improved and the acting by them is sometimes emotionless and unreal.

As season 2 of Arrow approaches, I only hope that the series continues to grow from the huge success that it has achieved so far.  The Oliver Queen in season 2 is a different man to how he is in the first as events of the season finale has damaged him emotionally. The Flash, played by Grant Gustin, will be a recurring character and this should put an element of surprise and heroism into the series. I only hope that the directing improves and the villains in Season 2 are more memorable and enjoyable to watch.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Man of Steel Review

So while everyone and their dog has been giving conflicting opinions on the Superman re-boot, I have spent a while working on a review of the movie without actually knowing what to do with it. So since I had a lot to say after seeing the movie on it's UK opening weekend, I've decided to make this blog so I'll have a place for me to post this and other movie reviews so I can kind of just let it all out and hopefully entertain and inform some of you. Let us begin!

I’m a huge fan of DC comics and comic book movies in general and this was easily my most anticipated film of the year. But unfortunately, I was a little disappointed.
Like I said, I was really looking forward to this film, I was just hyped up that I was convinced that this was going to be easily one of the best films I had ever seen, so I think I had unreasonable expectations! The trailer made it look impossibly awesome, particularly the first full trailer that was released which hardly showed any action and featured a lot of fantastic looking drama scenes.
This brings me onto my first criticism. As far as these drama and exposition scenes go, what it shown in the trailers is almost all you get. This causes one of the film's main faults; a lack of character development.

Now, Henry Cavil makes a great Superman and Zod is an equally great villain, but the rest of the characters aren't particularly memorable. Take Lois Lane. Aside from the fact that she's a famous character and played by Amy Adams, she just isn't very interesting. I don't think I would have even remembered her name if she was another character!

My second point is how incoherently Superman’s origin is told. Remember how in Batman Begins, Bruce’s early life was told in flashbacks in the film’s first act? Well, here the same technique is applied, but it isn't nearly as effective as these flashbacks constantly switch between time periods, rather than being told in a chronological order like in Batman Begins. For example, the first of these scenes shows Superman as an adult, next he’s a child and then a teenager. These scenes are all well done, but they would have flowed much better if they were shown chronologically. Then we would have been able to better understand how Clark copes with his powers as he grows progressively older, making us more attached to the character and his arc.

I also felt that there was a bit too much action during the films finale. Don’t get me wrong, it’s spectacular stuff, but there’s so many action scenes close together that it makes it harder to appreciate these moments. For me, the best action scene was Superman’s final battle with General Zod which is amazing, but it comes right of the back of another long action scene and you’re barely allowed any time to catch your breath in between. Additionally, it goes on a little longer than I think was necessary.

After all this, you may think that I hate this movie, but I didn’t. I only sound so negative because my expectations were so high. Overall, I found it to be pretty enjoyable and I’m sure that most Superman fans should be happy with it so I’d say give it watch if you’re into comic book movies. 

Rating:  ***