Thursday, March 19, 2015

Arrow S03 E16: "The Offer"


Talk talk talk. That's the gist of the beginning of this episode of "Arrow." After making the offer referenced in the title, Oliver and R'as are just chillin' in Nanda Parbat. The villain has asked our hero to become the next R'as Al Ghul, implying that it's a title handed down like The Phantom as opposed to one immortal man, something I think the showrunners may have forgotten was already hinted at with this version of R'as. And Maseo is there, but where did Diggle go?

Back at the Arrowcave, Thea keeps taunting Nyssa to kill her, after all she killed Sara, not Oliver, and not Merlyn. Yawn. One would think that a princess of assassins would have a better sense of when someone is lying and telling the truth, but I guess that's why Nyssa is is the lesser known of the daughters of The Demon. Still, just to make sure we don't fall asleep, Roy and Laurel rush in and incapacitate her.

On the other side my questions about R'as' immortality are unsatisfactorily answered. It's not a Lazarus Pit, it's a fountain of youth, and it can only keep R'as young for so long. He says his time is almost up. He further explains that as R'as Al Ghul, Oliver can do whatever he wants. The League and its resources are his to command, they don't have to be assassins, and rather than one city, R'as offers Oliver an entire world to save.

Oliver declines, and R'as allows him to go home, with Diggle, and Merlyn, and with all debts and blood oaths waived. Wow. R'as must really want Oliver to sign on.

Back in Starling City, Nyssa is released and Team Arrow gets back into business. There's a new player in town and he looks familiar, not to Green Arrow fans, but more skewed to Flash readers. His name is Murmur. In the comics, Murmur, also known as Dr. Michael Amar, is one of the more chilling adversaries to ever face the scarlet speedster.

To quell the voices in his head, this respected doctor went nuts and started killing people. When caught and put in Iron Heights, he cut out his tongue and sewed his mouth shut. Later he became involved with alter version of the Rogues and experimented with biological warfare. Oh yeah, this is a nutjob more suitable for Batman, not Arrow, and especially not the Flash. In the show, Murmur seems more of a run of the mill gangster with sewn up mouth, more gimmick than anything, hell, he even has henchmen. But Murmur is nothing more than a distraction in this episode that serves as merely a moving of pieces around the board. So why even use such a character really?

While Murmur stalks the city, Oliver ponders R'as' deal, Thea mopes and thinks about killing Malcolm, and the big revelation is Quentin Lance's break up with Arrow. At least poor doomed Larry, ahem, I mean Quentin Lance is finally acting rather than reacting. As much as this complicates things, it's good to see him thinking for himself. I would really hate to see him learn the hard way to make up with his daughter and Team Arrow, after say, colliding with a cosmic star being called Aquarius. Or a bad guy's bullet. Or arrow.

In Flashback Hong Kong, Oliver is babysitting Akio, the son of Katana and Maseo. One can only assume this is just prep for when we find out about his son Connor over in Central City. Speak of the devil, Oliver and Akio run into a friendly and unexpected face while running from the bad guys… Shado!

That's not all that happened, or all of the cliffhangers. Ollicity has been rebuilt, and while it's nice to see Felicity smile, I don't care about the relationship any more. It's been messed with and teased too much - it's too much trouble at this point. It's Laurel's turn. And speaking of Laurel, she's chilling with Nyssa, because they have so much in common, and Thea is back with Roy. See what I mean about moving pieces around on the board?

And then there's R'as in the flesh, in the Arrow outfit, in Starling City. This is so out of character. It's not that the old ploy of taking on the hero's identity to frame him isn't a workable old cliché, it's that R'as would never do it. He gives orders, he doesn't take things into his own hands like this. Not happy with this episode.

Next: Diggle and Lyla get married, and the Suicide Squad returns, in "Suicidal Tendencies."


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

iZombie


Full disclosure up front. This comic guy has never read the iZombie comic book by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred. Based on the creators, I probably should have been into it, but it slipped past my radar. When it was around, the book was critically acclaimed, fan loved, but killed by less than satisfactory sales. Somehow, it made it to the CW, in the easy slot after "The Flash."

The concept is not that new or original of one. I remember the character Deadhead from George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards shared universe book series. He could obtain the super powers of anyone whose brain he ate. Recently, the New 52 version of Super Gorilla Grodd also eats brains to gain the victim's intelligence. Of course, neither of them are zombies, whose normal modus operandi is to eat human brains.

The TV series "iZombie" is a loose interpretation of the comic, as I understand that even the main characters are different. In the show, Rose McIver plays Liv Moore, who while at a party was the victim of a zombie attack. Retaining some of her consciousness, she has chosen to use her 'powers' for good. So working for the medical examiner's office, she eats the brains of cadavers and retains their memories, allowing the good guys to find out how they died, and who killed them. Yeah, it's a bit like a demented version of "Pushing Daisies" in that way.

At first the pilot reminded me a little of one of my old favorite shows, "Reaper," with its humor. I loved the intervention scene, and the comic opening. But then it quickly turned into a police procedural. Seeing as Rob Thomas, of "Veronica Mars" fame, was one of the show developers, I started to see a pattern very quickly. The pilot was fun, I might watch further episodes, but on a tentative step by step basis.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lost Hits of the New Wave #38


"Everywhere That I'm Not" by Translator

I came very late to this one. I know I had heard it on the radio and on the dance floor, but really I paid it no mind until hearing it multiple times on First Wave satellite radio. I even remember seeing the 45 RPM single at my old college radio station, but never put it on a turntable. My loss.

Active since 1979, this San Francisco synth band has made a career of sounding British, or at least mining the British sound of not just the new wave, but also punk, psychedelia, and even classic rock vibes. Still active today their influence can be heard in many of the acts of the 1980s, and this was their biggest hit.



Monday, March 16, 2015

Tusk


Tusk ~ I haven't seen Red State yet, so this weird horror bent that Kevin Smith has been on of late is new to me. This, his second oddity in the field, is quite the eye opener. Twisted just doesn't seem to cover it.

The parts of Tusk that are recognizably Kevin Smith involve podcaster and former comedian Justin Long, who along with Haley Joel Osment does a podcast called The Not See Party. Sigh. Yeah, I know. The point of the podcast is for Long to interview folks and then later describe the experience to Osment, who 'doesn't see,' get it? They also mock the subjects mercilessly. Oh, it's bad, but it gets worse.

On a trip to the backwoods of Manitoba, an interview goes awry and Long must find a new subject. He goes to the home of Michael Parks, who claims to have been saved by a walrus. Once there, Parks drugs Long and amputates his leg, with plans to turn him into a walrus. No. I. Am. Not. Kidding. This is really effed up on a Human Centipede level, folks.

There is some brief humor, mostly at the expense of Canada, but once the transformation begins, this movie goes off the rails quickly and becomes unwatchable. Smith tries for horror but it falls apart when you realize what you're looking at. There's an almost O. Henry Freaks-like ending, but it doesn't take.

I was excited when I heard there was going to be a third Clerks movie, and even a Mallrats sequel, and now… after seeing Tusk, I'm not. Kevin, I love ya, but what the eff, man?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reptilicus


Reptilicus ~ There was a time when the Japanese giant monster movies, kaiju eiga, were so popular that everyone was getting into the act. Japan had at least three different film companies with their own continuities and soon the rest of the world wanted in. The US was in on it at the ground level co-producing with Toho on some of the Godzilla flicks. The UK had Gorgo, South Korea had Yongary, and Denmark had Reptilicus.

Like some of the Godzilla (as well as Gamera, Yongary and others) movies as mentioned above, Reptilicus was an American International co-production. Usually this was done only to guarantee distribution in the US, but sometimes like here, AI took a stronger hand in the film. This, like the Hollywood and Spanish versions of the 1931 Dracula, is actually two completely different films - one in English and one in Dutch.

Directed by Poul Bang in Dutch and Sidney W. Pink in English, Reptilicus is the story of a prehistoric beast, almost similar to a winged Chinese dragon, found frozen then revived. Once awake, the regenerating and flying monster rampages through Denmark and finally Copenhagen where it meets its seeming end.

Unlike most kaiju, Reptilicus is brought to special effects life as a marionette like Mothra rather than suitmation like Godzilla. The special effects look much better than might be expected for what is essentially a puppet.

While the first half-hour or so drags by, there are lots of sights and sounds of Copenhagen to enjoy. It's almost like an old Hollywood travelogue. My favorite parts early on are the man in overalls who spoils his lunch by looking at it under a microscope, and Birthe Wilke as herself singing up a storm. It all goes to hell however when Reptilicus breaks out of his lab, offscreen of course.

The American version added some badly animated acid breath to the monster's arsenal, yet removed the flying scene. Also missing was a romance between two characters and an additional musical number. There was at some point legal action sought to fix the American version, which the Dutch thought at first was unreleasable. Notably in the English language version, the Dutch actors are so much better than the American ones.

After over five decades Reptilicus remains a cult classic and quite popular in Denmark. There has always been talk of a sequel, and the movie even sets up the possibility. There was a novelization, and American comic book from Charlton that lasted two issues before legal problems caused a name change to Reptisaurus. I kinda dug this so-bad-it's-good kaiju eiga from the Dutch, worth watching.