‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E6: Green Arrow forever!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Oh, so many Spoilers! 

Welcome back, my fellow superhero lovers! When we last left our intrepid Legends, they had landed in a potential-future all but destroyed version of Star City in 2046. A masked black man wearing those iconic green leathers and shooting anything that moves with a wooden bow — who does not answer to “Oliver!” —  greets our bewildered Legends, while masked bad guys are shooting up the streets. Most everyone hurries back to the ship to repair it and the futuristic AI Gideon, while the criminal twins, our resident assassin Sarah, and Captain Hunter go out to hunt down a piece of tech from Smoak Industries.

Meanwhile, we have to have some sort of idiotic cute little dynamic going on between the folk who stayed behind on the ship to affect repairs. Jax has decided he has a thing for Kendra, and is struggling to put on his big-boy confidence pants and tell her. He needs to act fast because Ray is being his somewhat charming self and unknowingly moving in on some sweet hawk-goddess territory! Even Professor Stein notices the triangle and tries to help, in his singularly ineffective manner, by trying to steer Ray away from Kendra. Which of course backfires when Ray is like, hey yeah, I never thought of her that way, but now that you mention it … As we watch Jax headdesk.

Out on the city streets, the eternal killing has resumed and our Legends have to duck and cover. Of course, Sarah is determined to help when she sees Green Arrow 2.0 take a fall and Captain Hunter goes with her while the criminal twins Rory and Snart end up “you keep what you kill”-ing to a street gang and head off for their very own criminal kingdom! Sarah and Rip, now joined by a fabulous Joseph David-Jones as Connor Hawke, have a nice little confrontation with Deathstroke! Or actually, it’s Deathstroke Jr., Jamie Andrew Cutler as Grant Wilson, called Ravager in the comics. Now it’s off to where Ollie’s former Arrow lair was, for several hard truths and revelations, and hopefully, that piece of Felicity tech they’re looking for.

Connor told them all that Oliver Queen was dead, that he disappeared during the Uprising of Deathstroke Jr.’s troops that decimated the city, so to find a very aged and bitter and decidedly one-arm-less Oliver still hiding in the mothballed lair is certainly news to Connor. He and 50-something bearded and grizzled Oliver have a rather biting exchange, wherein Ollie reveals who Connor Hawke really is: get a load of it, Arrow fans, in this particular version of the DC-verse, Connor Hawke is John Diggle, Jr.! In the comic books, Connor Hawke is the son of Oliver Queen, but this version totally works for me.

And then there’s the makeup used for the aged and bitter Oliver Queen, I’m not talking about that amazing Smoak Industries prosthetic arm either! The show producers had actually been contemplating bringing in a whole new actor to play 50-something Green Arrow, but the more they thought about it, they just decided to take the big risk of aged makeup on Arrow Queen actor Stephen Amell. And holy crow did it pay off! The makeup and iconic Earth-31 Green Arrow look is so well captured here, it looks like they had some of their best winners from Face Off (yes, I am a fan of that show, too!) do the job.

Rory meanwhile has decided that he’s very happy as King in the Mad Max version of Star City and wants to stay. Snart, of course, is unamused, though whether it’s because this isn’t what he had in mind or because Rory is trying to think for himself, it’s hard to say. The criminal partners have the very best dynamic, and conversations, of the entire episode. Rory and Snart are the epitome of the criminal duo, the brains and the brawn, the two men not blood-related but who understood each other so well that they chose to team up better than brothers. But now, the epic dynamic between the two of them is actually breaking down because, as Rory not-so-stupidly points out, Snart has begun to desire to be an actual hero and save the world. Whereas, as Snart almost lovingly responds, Rory just wants to watch the world burn, and you know, be King of whatever wastelands are left. As much as the post-apocalyptic Star City may be horrible for Sarah, as much as we the audience might disapprove of such a thing, we all have to admit that “home” means very different things to different people, and this seems to be Rory’s version of it.

So yes Captain Hunter got the Smoak tech piece they needed and sent it over to help fix the ship, but he doesn’t seem very interested in helping the last few heroes left save what’s left of Star City. He’s of the opinion that since this is only a potential future, there’s no point in trying to save anything and even interfere, which of course doesn’t sit well with Sarah at all. Most of our Legends actually completely agree with Sarah and lodge a protest to Captain Hunter, while Sarah goes off on her lonesome to recruit Oliver Queen to go rescue Connor Hawke! Because the city always needs a Green Arrow!

Ultimately, this is all kinds of an epic Arrow episode for fans of all ages! Though Grant Wilson accuses Connor Hawke of simply being a hack in a Halloween costume during his would-be execution scene, and even with Sarah and Ollie and the rest of the Legends showing up for an assist, Diggle Jr. proves he can do honor to those green leathers and bow just fine, thank you. As Ollie proudly proclaims him, even though they can’t seem to agree on what name to call Connor, whatever he calls himself, it is always and forever Green Arrow. This proves that the legacy of our Legends is ongoing and that all potential futures are worth fighting for!

Catch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Thursdays on the CW at 8:00 p.m./7:00 p.m., Central!

XXX

 

‘Para Elisa’: Want to Play with my Dolly?

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

A college student needing to earn extra funds takes a babysitting job that turns out to be much darker than expected!

In the spirit of Women in Horror month, I decided to give this small horror offering from director Juanra Fernandez a try. Yes, the film is Spanish, filmed in Cuenca, Spain, and subtitled – try not to let that deter you. The whole feel of the movie is rather amateurish and unfinished, with many details missing, perhaps purposefully so, like Fernandez had a really great run with Para Elisa as a short horror film first, and managed to get it made into a full-blown movie. The whole thing is only an hour and fifteen minutes or so, leaving no real room for things like background storytelling, but plenty of space for some stark-staring mute dolly horror. So let’s get into this!

Ana (Ona Casamiquela) is your pretty typical college student: she’s nearing the end of school and needs ever more money, she has a drug-dealing boyfriend who just won’t take “no, it’s over” for an answer, and even a silly slut of a best friend, Ursula (Sheila Ponce) who, it turns out, is slapping skins with boyfriend Alex (Jesus Caba) when Ana isn’t looking. In the midst of yet another argument with Alex, Ana decides to take on a babysitting job interview at some creepy flat near a cathedral, and away we go!

Due to the rather short length of the film, as soon as Ana’s brief background with her boyfriend and best friend has been established, we launch right into the horror of the not-babysitting job, even during the interview. Diamantina (Luisa Gavasa), the mother of the girl Ana is supposed to be caretaking, is an extra-weird retired piano prodigy, obsessing over porcelain dolls and plants, apparently. She gleefully doses Ana’s tea with a Spanish plant that’s supposed to cause vocal paralysis, though she claims to have no real idea if that would actually work and how long it will last. But at any rate, Ana is about to become the next life-size dolly for Diamantina’s crazed daughter Elisa (Ana Turpin), perhaps forever!

One would think here would be a great place for the admittedly very creepy mother to stir up some incredible horror, turning Ana into her daughter’s dolly, but that isn’t actually what happens at all. Quite soon after explaining to Ana what her new station in life will now be, mother comes to blows with a shrieking Elisa, and next thing you know, mother’s dead on the floor. The only thing that can seem to calm Elisa when she’s like this, is for mother to play Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” on the piano, and the fact that mother is now dead doesn’t even slow Elisa down! Now it’s time to tie Ana to the bed so Elisa can get some sleep, finally, hugging her very own life-sized dolly.

But see, Ana doesn’t want that. And neither does the near-stalker-like boyfriend Alex, who gets so worried about Ana he goes to the police repeatedly before deciding to go look for Ana his damn self. Much to-do is made about Ana’s cell phone or even the house phone, if Ana can just get to it, though with her vocal cords still paralyzed, I have no idea what she’s going to do once she gets there. That is one of the finer points of this small Spanish offering, a great deal of the horrific struggle between Ana and Elisa is done in complete silence on Ana’s part, and only with childish grunts and panting from Elisa. It’s only when Elisa takes a hammer to Ana’s legs, Misery-style, that Ana is able to let loose a few piercing screams. Much fighting and searching from Alex later, it looks like Ana may have finally made it to a freedom of sorts, but it’s never a good idea to turn your back on the child-like psycho of any horror movie.

We have no idea what happened in the lives of Diamantina and Elisa to bring them to this state, whether they’ve done this sort of thing before (it’s a pretty safe bet that’s a yes), and why no one other than the scared homeless guy has noticed anything is amiss here. Sometimes when a movie works extra hard at providing the why, a good deal of the uknown-horror-scare would be sacrificed for the sake of background. I think, in this instance, the choice of the terrifying unknown and the grownup-child in search of her perfect life-sized dolly stands just fine on its own, and gives us a great, if a bit short, Spanish horror romp!

Check out the dolly collection of Para Elisa on Netflix now!

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‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E5: Not our First Prison Break

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

When we last left our intrepid time-hopping Legends, fully half the team was either incapacitated or captured in a – what else? It’s 1986 – maximum-security Russian gulag. Our resident silverfox Professor Stein is being held for extra-special treatment, because the bad guys have figured out he could make a Russian Firestorm way way earlier than such a thing should be possible. Rory and Ray have been tossed into gulag gen-pop together, and the crew of the Waverider are working on how to bust them all out!

Well, mostly. Snart claims to be generally only interested in getting his partner back, which makes it odd when he very easily figures out that Captain Hunter ordered our assassin Sarah to take Stein out if it looks like rescue isn’t an option, and he has a rather surprisingly adverse reaction to the idea. Though of course the proposed plans give Snart the chance to smirk, “Not my first prison break,” to Rip, and all of us in the know have to grin. No-one seems particularly interested in rescuing the lone boy scout of the team, and indeed, Ray gets himself a good old fashioned beat-down in the gulag yard when he just can’t seem to shut his mouth, while Rory is over there fascinated by a Zippo he stole and not doing a damned thing to help. Rip also completely vetoes recovering Jax and Kendra’s offer to help, at least on the scout mission to the Bratva, the Russian mafia underground.

This episode’s scenes with Ray were particularly hard to watch, not necessarily because he takes several hard-core beatings, but because of why he does it. The first beat-down in the yard, well that was just your standard Russian cold-war welcome. But later, when it’s all gone to hell and Ray and Rory have been brought out for glorious electrical torture to goad Stein into giving up his Firestorm secrets to Vandal Savage and the crazy Russian lady scientist, Vostok, Ray’s deadly boy scout instincts kick in and he purposefully turns all attention to himself. While it’s true that as soon as they can get Ray to the Waverider his injuries can be healed quite easily, that says nothing for the here and now and those busted ribs, blackened eyes, and weeping cuts. What we see here is the run of being Superman that Brandon Routh just can’t seem to escape, the one who heroically takes it all upon himself because he just can’t stand to see others he cares about harmed. And it takes that kind of selflessness to get Heatwave, the criminal Rory who uses his S.T.A.R. labs firegun to mow down good and bad guys alike while he steals things, to go back for Ray when the rescue attempt is made.

So, the rescue attempt has degenerated into a prison riot, as often happens, and at the same time that crazy Russian chick and the Prof have melted together in the hottest forced not-sex you’ll ever see! Captain Hunter and Vandal Savage have had their posturing moment, and Jax and Kendra have decided to get in on the rescue mission regardless of what the Captain says! The small moments of humanity from our assassin Sarah, goaded on by our less-criminal-than-previously-thought Snart, are beautiful and show the team coming together despite their clear differences. And that’s how, working together once again, our Legends have made it back to the Waverider more or less whole, to jump through time while being chased by Chronos yet again!

Spoiler, Spoiler, Spoil-ers!

But wait! There’s totes more. Our Legends managed a landing despite Chronos’ best efforts, and here we are in Star City! Sort of. Star City in 2046, apparently, rather remarkably different. And of course there’s a guy in those iconic forest green leathers with a bow! But that’s not Oliver Queen. No, my fellow archer fan-atics, it’s Connor Hawke! Drool with me.

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‘Boldly Go!’: Where No Musical has Gone Before

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Who doesn’t love the sweeping span of the Star Trek universe? While we all wait for our next beloved offering of the Roddenberry-inspired series to come back to the small screen, we can all get off our collective butts and go see the Trek-inspired stage play of Boldly Go!

A stage musical of epic farcical proportions, Boldly Go! follows the intrepid crew of the — what else? — Starship Enterprise, featuring the return of many beloved characters along with some brand new ones, all off on a brand new exciting adventure! Previous assumptions will be confronted, old paradigms challenged, new alliances tested, and brand new contacts made – whether for good or ill as has yet to be seen. And our beloved sci-fi world is all set in a side-splitting tour de force of musical mayhem!

While the stage show has fun with the sometimes ludicrous aspects of science fiction and parodies Star Trek, this new show also lovingly satirizes the entire musical theater genre as well. At its core, Boldly Go! is a story about being true to oneself and one’s convictions even if and perhaps especially when they can be considered laughable, about friendship and love, about the discovery and wonder of things new, about the triumph of the individual over any adversity, and about the joy of sharing with one another this vast and mysterious Universe.

Boldly Go! is written by the Remmen brothers: Cole, a University of Minnesota Theatre Arts Senior, and Grant, a Caltech theoretical physics graduate student. The Caltech world premiere of the stage play features a talented cast from the Caltech and Jet Propulsion Lab communities. The musical is being shown at the Ramo Auditorium of the Caltech Campus in Pasadena, California. Scheduled performances are as follows:
Friday, February 26, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 27, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 28, 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 3, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 4, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 5, 2:30 p.m.

Purchase your tickets online here, and remember, to Boldly Go! where no musical has gone before!

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‘Deadpool’: WHAM! Maximum Effort!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Deadpool is the ultimate anti-hero for the South Park-loving, I-never-grew-out-of-fart-jokes teenager in all of us. He isn’t concerned with saving the world, preventing galactic annihilation, or wearing an X in a circle on his reds. His problem, at its core, is simple – some douche-nozzle tortures him at work, and then gets all huffy and girlfriend-kidnappy when Wade takes offense.

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) proves to be a watered-down version of Deadpool’s mouth long before his skin avocadoes, and when he meets the full-grown woman who shares his sense of humor, he is in absolute lusty-love. Nearly everything in the movie comes in montages, so right after the sex-for-all-holidays tribute, comes the devastating news that Wade has seriously bad terminal cancer. Of course, the stripper girlfriend with the heart of gold and the mouth of a sailor, Vanessa, wants to fight cancer with all means available to them. Which essentially means the death-by-inches agony of long treatments and Wade just doesn’t have the patience nor stamina for that kind of dumbassery. Instead, he opts for the Agent Smith recruiting option at his local post-Special-Ops-Agent hangout, and next thing you know it’s off to the mutant factory!

You can expect anyone who’s been hopped up with mutant juice and subjected to many creative tortures, to be a bit cranky with his jailers. Ajax – excuse me, Francis – doesn’t stand a chance in hell of holding the charming-sleazy Brit bad guy of the film role, not in the face of Deadpool’s eternal give-zero-fucks snark. One conflagration later, Wade is determined to rise from the ashes like the most epic anime phoenix ever, slicing and shooting his way through the bad guys to get to the one who turned him into Mr. Potato Head! Francis (Ed Skrein) and his roadblock of a female sidekick, Angel Dust (Gina Carano), prove to be formidable foes, even when met with Wade’s blistering break-the-fourth-wall commentary!

Wade’s early attempts at costumery are terrible and hilarious and exactly what we would find ourselves doing in his boots. Here, we meet his roommate Al, who is about as far from the likes of Daredevil’s Stick as you can get, yet Wade still enjoys bantering with her in his juvenile well-meaning fashion. His bartender friend with the deadpool on when Wade’s gonna kick it does his best to help too – his efforts end up with Weasel (T.J. Miller) as a Shaggy-like sidekick, one of the few who knows both Wade and Deadpool.

The introduction of a CGI-ed to hell and gone Colossus (Stefan Kapicic does his voice) and his little sidekick — this is a mouthful — Negasonic Teenage Warhead, was an interesting choice for the X-Men cameos you just knew we had to have. Tagging Colossus for the unappreciated role of the eternal recruiter of Deadpool to the X-Men seems completely appropriate, considering the lengths Colossus has gone to in other storylines, but the translation of the mega-metal-Russian from the comic books to the big screen wasn’t what I had pictured. Negasonic (Brianna Hildebrand), on the other hand, is clearly the epitome of the New X-Men latter-day class, with her sullen teenage silences, biting commentary and ability to turn herself into a fireball bomb! And, of course, Wade’s wild and wonderful woman, Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, gets many shout-outs for her completely believable portrayal of the woman to die, repeatedly, for!

That’s another thing too many people seem to be overlooking, Wade says it himself – Deadpool is actually a love story, yes, with some horror elements and other stuff thrown in, but still. Wade voluntarily had this done to him so he could live with the love of his life, the woman who shares his corrupted sense of humor and eternally perverse sexual tastes, more or less regardless of what he looks like. Far too many of my fellow geeks and freaks out there would give their entire music collection (I’m betting there won’t be a single Wham! album among them) and then some for a love like that!

There are already tons of reviews out there, all about how Deadpool breathed life back into a stale superhero genre and gave them the encouragement they needed to finally put on their big-boy pants and make an ultra-violent R-rated Marvel superhero movie! But you can’t sit there and enjoy Wade crack wise and twirl your cosplay Thor hammer to impart, “Mmmyes, Deadpool’s sleazy charm is just the thing we modern film enthusiasts need.” Deadpool is hardly the first awesomesauce R-rated superhero movie to come out, (see Watchmen for example) it’s coming out at the most serendipitous time, when we’re all so bored with the eternally bright superhero taking on the whole world of evil, we just want to see a foul-mouthed badass do a bit of the old ultra-violence. To win back the girl who’s just as foul-mouthed and awesome as he is, the only one in the entire world for whom Wade would actually be a superhero!

Do yourself a favor, fan-atics of the world – see Deadpool in the theater now! And for fuck’s sake, leave the kids at home! This movie is not suitable for children at all. You’ve been warned. Don’t forget to stay for the Ferris Bueller-style Easter egg at the end, and cast your own vote for who should be Cable in the sequel! And bonus points if you catch the Stan Lee cameo!

And yes, of course, the trailer is all kinds of NSFW, the entire movie is that way and you know you love it!

‘Batman Bad Blood’: Beware the Nunja

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

So Batman, the real Batman (Jason O’Mara) has gone missing. Of course this new chick running around in what looks like Terry McGinnis’ Bat colors — we eventually learn she’s called Batwoman — is trying to both patrol the streets in his absence and look for Batman without arousing suspicion, too. Because well, it’s kind of her fault Batsy went missing in the first place – Katherine (Yvonne Strahovski) tried to take on Killer Moth, Firefly, Electrocutioner, Blockbuster, and some new masked dude who’s a badass, all on her lonesome. Batman had to wing in to save the day and disappeared in the ensuing explosion.

Now, what? Nightwing (Sean Maher) gets a distress call to the Batcave, Damien Wayne (Stuart Allen) ducked out of his temple hideout to come see what’s up, and, of course, Batwoman herself is out and about, looking for Batman and trying to pick up the slack. Dear butler Alfred (James Garrett) is covering for Bruce Wayne as best he can, but people are beginning to take notice, both of the missing millionaire and the lack of his super-secret alter ego. Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) and his son Luke (Gaius Charles) are having their suspicions, too. With no other real option, Dick Grayson very reluctantly dons the mantle of the Bat, and, of course, Damien has to take on Dick’s original Robin costume, to go out and prove that, hey man, everything’s fine, really.

This new villainous man that seemed so eerily familiar to Bruce Wayne apparently goes by the name Heretic and, of course, he’s near-impossible to track down, let alone beat to a standstill. Katherine meets with her father Colonel Jacob Kane to ask for some help finding Heretic, revealing her backstory about the time she was saved and redeemed by Batman, leading her to become Batwoman. Meanwhile Luke Fox, a soldier returned from Afghanistan no less, is trying to get his dad to open up about Wayne secrets, when there’s a raid on the Wayne enterprises vault! Heretic and his goons strike again! But why are they assaulting the Wayne vault in particular?

Spoilers winging at you!

Everyone knows who Talia al Ghul is, right? League of Assassins, daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and inheritor of that whole Lazarus Pit problem, mother of Damien Wayne and all-around problem psychopath, Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin) has never shied from thinking big and using every last bit of League resources to accomplish her goals. This time, they’re astronomical: build a rapidly-grown clone from Damien’s DNA, but the Jarvis Tetch version of the brain program left him with those pesky things like consciousness and free will. Because that never caused problems in similar situations, noooo. This inevitably leads to Heretic (Travis Willingham) wanting to kidnap Bruce Wayne and empty his head of all memories and experiences for his own, which makes an insane kind of sense, like a masochistic Pinnochio. Make me a real boy, Daddy, or I’ll take it from you.

All of what happens in the final confrontation isn’t exactly what you might expect, given the insanity that has a tendency to run in the al Ghul family. Hell, Bruce Wayne and all the rest of his chosen “Bat-family” aren’t the most stable, mentally speaking. And it looks like the family gets a new “brother,” when Luke decides the others need his help and has his fathers machine makers design a whole new bat suit for fighting, dubbing himself the highly original moniker “Batwing.” Despite Heretic’s avowed hatred and Talia’s everlasting ambition, neither can escape the ties of bad blood that bind them to each-other, reminding all of us why you should never do business with family.

There are lots of enjoyable nods to the ongoing history of the Bat family and Batman in the DC comics-verse in general. The nuns armed with katanas and AK-47s guarding the place where Talia has Bruce locked up – hence the “nunjas” as Nightwing points out – are hilarious, and right up the League’s alley for over-the-top-ness. Luke Fox becoming Batwing was interesting, we just knew it was inevitable that someone from the Fox line would eventually join the Bat family in an actual costume. And I still think it’s awesome that Talia would hire the Mad Hatter as a brain doctor for her rapidly-grown cloned super-soldier’s mind control!

Score your very own nunja fighting bats at Amazon!

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‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E4: Hot Pursuit in a Cold War

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Spoilers ahead!

Our heroes have jumped through time yet again, this time to 1986. The information they need to find Vandal Savage lies in the Pentagon, which they must break into to recover. They fabricate disguises for the team, and with some clever keycard (and wallet) swiping from Snart, Sara and Kendra attempt to sneak into the records room while Rory provides a distraction in the form of an arm-wrestling match — which seems unconvincing as a distraction really; I’d imagine the Pentagon isn’t like an army barracks with everyone off-duty. Firestorm was supposed to cut the power to let Sara and Kendra escape, but after he screws up, the alarms are triggered and the ladies have to karate their way out, as usual. However, Kendra goes full winged-psycho, murder-angel and tries to rip off a man’s face. Firestorm pulls her away and flies back to the ship, and the others retreat as well.

Back on the ship, the team fights … again. Professor Stein blames Jax, and Sara blames Kendra, saying, “Everything would’ve been fine if big bird over here hadn’t freaked out.” Captain Hunter tries to control his team like a stressed-out high school principal who’s sick of his job. The team, as usual, isn’t functioning very well, yet. I laughed at “big bird” though. I like Sara. She’s funny.

The good news is, they did get the file they needed, and the intel points to the Soviet Union; Vandal Savage is building a weapon there. Using their timeship to fly unseen to the USSR, Captain Hunter finds that he is being tracked by Chronos in another invisible timeship. After a very fun aerial battle which involves cloaking tricks, a Soviet MIG-21, and a Top Gun quote, Captain Hunter loses his pursuers, but crash lands the ship. Miraculously, the ship survives, as well as its entire crew. The Pentagon file on Savage indicates that he’s working on a “Project Svarog,” and employs a Soviet scientist named Valentina Vostok to build his weapon. The intelligence file on Vostok shows she’s a fan of the ballet; Snart and Ray try to charm their way into getting information on where she works from her by intercepting her at a show. Although Ray tries his best to get acquainted with Vostok, it’s Snart who manages to steal her attention (and her keycard, along with her wallet).

Meanwhile, Captain Hunter finds that he hasn’t lost the Time Masters after all, and they offer him a deal of amnesty … or do they? There’s a side plot where Captain Hunter and the gang meet the Time Masters in the woods, and Hunter contemplates just giving up his quest. Luckily, it turns out pretty quickly to be a bogus offer, and they have a showdown with the Time Masters. They succeed in escaping, but Jax is injured in the battle. Jax recovers in the med bay while Sara and Kendra train fighting each other to control their violent impulses. The rest of the gang focus on the mission: to break into Vostok’s lab and find out what they’re working on. Snart, Rory, Ray, and Professor Stein sneak inside using Vostok’s keycard, and find that Vandal Savage is trying to recreate the technology used by Professor Stein to create Firestorm. Since Jax is sitting out the mission, it is up to Professor Stein to steal the technology before the Soviets can make a breakthrough. However, it all goes wrong yet again, as Professor Stein, Ray, and Rory are taken captive and only Snart escapes, albeit with the tech.

The episode ends with Stein thrown into a gulag, and forced to complete the research while the others are being kept alive as leverage. What will Captain Hunter and the rest of the team do to rescue them? Find out next week, as this week ends with a cliffhanger!

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‘Contracted, Phase II’: Get Infected

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

This is what Riley (Matt Mercer) gets for being a nice guy who happens to have a crush on a girl seriously wrong for him – a Hellraiser-style hookup and love-scratch later, our nice guy is beginning to change, too. It would be ridiculous for anyone to watch this movie, clearly the sequel, and not watch the first Contracted film, but if anyone does, the film gives plenty of helpful hints as to WTF happened in the first movie, some in clearly messed up flashbacks. To reiterate, Riley had a thing for Sam, managed to get it on with her after she had Contracted the STD from hell, and her scratch infected him in the same way. The sequel cuts to Day Four of Riley being infected, right off the bat once we have the background, and we stagger right in with him.

Alice is one of the friends Riley knew and she died in the first film, so of course Riley has to attend her memorial, which his pregnant and rather bitchy-with-it sister is putting on for everyone. The sister’s husband happens to be a doctor, so when Riley starts having funny turns, he goes under the radar to him, to get his blood screened for every damned thing. Meanwhile Riley is suffering, and we get offerings of the incredible body horror that made the first film so successful, but only in — forgive me — bites. Riley is now sloughing off pieces of himself onto, and sometimes accidentally into, others around him: his tough-as-coffin-nails grandma, who still smokes and drinks and curses with him, damn it; his oh-so-pregnant sister, in the most disgusting nacho sauce you’ll ever see; even the poor little caretaker chick Harper (Anna Lore) who likes him, she doesn’t even get to tap him, her infection comes from a rather awkward kiss. Like Sam, Riley is determined to fix it himself, so there are a few terrible moments in a mini-mart bathroom, but the feeling is a lot more hurried horror, Riley always seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere once he’s had to accept what’s happening to him.

Like Sam, Riley is determined to fix it himself, so there are a few terrible moments in a mini-mart bathroom, but the feeling is a lot more hurried horror; Riley always seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere, once he’s had to accept what’s happening to him.

Meanwhile, the faceless villain from the first film has been named and fleshed, and now has a Detective Crystal Young (Marianna Palka) after him. The one determined cop after the horrific monster is a perfectly fine trope, especially done in the old Halloween manner, but it wastes valuable STD body-horror time, instead attempting to focus on the eternal horror hunt. The styles more or less fit together, but the feel is different from the first film, and the first Contracted was actually a very smart bit of indie horror. At the very least, the filmmakers took great pains to stay with the original storyline and expound upon it as much as possible.

That said, we’re denied a great deal of the terrific body horror feel from the first film, offered up as sacrifice to things like background and storytelling. The hells you say! The man who was Abaddon, known also more mundanely as BJ, gamely did all the things a crazy Satanic spreader of plague and pestilence would do, right up to the end. But, remember the theme running throughout the film — it’s even in the title, ‘Phase II’ — meaning this is the next phase of the spreading of Abbadon’s virus.

Riley and his poor little now-a-pirate girlfriend, Harper, have made it all the way to the hospital, leaving bits of themselves behind to ripple-infect others. Detective Young and Abbadon himself have made it to the hospital for the ultimate showdown, and I’m terribly sorry but here is where the movie stumbles hard. I really wanted Abbadon to slough off a whole bunch of skin, sprout demon wings and launch himself into the police and hospital denizens like Lucifer on crack! Sadly, that isn’t what happens at all. It looks like poor Riley, even more pathetic Harper, and determined Detective Young won’t be making it to the third Contracted, if there is one. We are forcibly reminded that ripples of Phase II are spreading still, beyond Abbadon or anyone else’s control, and that you could easily be infected next!

Get infected with Contracted: Phase II on Netflix!

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‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E3: Changing Your own Fate is Hard

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Thar be spoilers ahead!

When we last left our legendary heroes, the team had suffered a defeat and a major loss, and they were stuck in 1975. Everyone is trying to convince Captain Hunter of their various ideas, to which our beloved Rip replies they know nothing about time travel consequences, citing that he’s seen darker days, where “men of steel die and dark knights fall.” The entire show, and the audience, pauses for a breath and our hearts swell with the knowledge that Captain Hunter just referred to the Justice League! Epic squee! Ahem, moving on.

After a teensy bit of convincing, the team scatters into smaller groups on separate missions: Rip and Sarah are going after Vandal Savage’s money, Ray and Dr. Stein are trying to save Kendra from dagger fragments left in her bloodstream, and the criminal twins have convinced Jax to steal the jump ship and go off to do a jewelry heist! What could possibly go wrong? Well…

Starting off with the wraparound story of still going after Vandal Savage (isn’t that the idea here?), Sarah and Rip head for the big bad bank where purportedly Savage hides his money. Sarah, as we’re reminded, is an inductee of the Lazarus Pit, meaning she died and was brought back to life with some serious consequences: the monstrous need to kill. So, finding themselves fighting Savage mercenaries and trained killers inside the bank is no problem for Sarah, other than, ya know, the whole bloodlust killing people thing. Captain Hunter has more of a problem with such a thing, which is rather ironic, as Sarah points out.

Meanwhile, Jax is reading the instruction manual on how to fix the Waverider, happily nosing around the smaller jump ship and learning how to fly it, when Snart and Rory show up. Snart wants to go out to Central City and steal a giant emerald, and it doesn’t take much convincing at all for them to go off all kinds of half-cocked!

The thing that’s so extra great about Snart and Rory in this episode is that they both demonstrate that there is quite a bit going on below the surface. Snart may be the brains of their partnership, but Rory is far from actually stupid, or thick, as Rip calls him. There’s an extra-epic scene where the criminal pals come in to save the day and Rory takes in Sarah’s ballroom dress, proclaiming he didn’t have her pegged for the “Eyes Wide Shut type.” And that reference, to Stanley Kubrick’s last and highly controversial film, is actually more highbrow than anyone would have guessed, for Rory. Dominic Purcell’s muscles-upon-muscles physique and Rockbiter-eating-rocks voice notwithstanding, I like the idea that Heatwave can actually hold his own for at least a scene or two. And, oh my, Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold and Leonard Snart is my current favorite of the epic eight, or rather, seven, now that we’re down a winged companion and all. His bemused drawl, eternal sarcastic expressions and even those glimpses of good-guy-ness are marvelous, and amongst all of them, Snart still gets the best one-liners. So far.

Which actually leads us into the whole reason for the jewelry heist thing: Snart didn’t have the greatest childhood, as I’m sure we’ve all kind of guessed. When Snart was five, his father went to prison for attempting a jewelry heist of a giant emerald, and came back an abuser that ruined the lives of his wife and small children. Can you guess where Snart is going with this? Change your fate. The trouble with that idea is, that whole nature-abhors-a-vacuum thing, and the universe tends to have its own circular plans for your fate. Just ask Captain Hunter, he knew damned well that wasn’t going to work.

After mostly failing the first attempt to save Kendra, Ray had his little crisis of confidence and, buoyed along by Dr. Stein, managed to power through it and save her. The ATOM suit flying through Kendra’s bloodstream blasting knife particles like the ancient video game Asteroid is adorkable, and a happy nod to the potential science nerd in all of us, young or old. Every one of us has moments where we wonder if we really can do the thing, and it’s nice for Ray to have Dr. Stein to say, “Of course you can! Go on, already!”

Meanwhile, the Brumberg bank folk and Vandal Savage’s people are having a big ol’ party! What for, you ask? This thing they’re obscurely referring to as the Vessel, which turns out to be poor Carter’s body, is going to be shared bloodily with the cult followers of Savage, to grant them temporary immortality. What’s a hundred years or so between friends? Our Legends can’t have that! Much ass-kickery in fancy ’70s clothes later, most of the rest of the team show up to battle Savage and his minions yet again. The whole thing more or less ends in a draw: about par for the course. Then it’s time for a very sad double funeral, and everyone has to remind Captain Hunter that they work so much better as a team, which was why he got them together in the first place. And now it’s time to head to the next time Vandal Savage is known to pop up, the 1980s, so grab your parachute pants!

Catch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Thursdays on the CW at 8:00 p.m./7:00 p.m., Central!

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‘Heroes Reborn’: Not Very Heroic

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

I loved the original show, the cast and characters and their intersecting storylines, right up until they jumped the shark — and then some — with the insane circus in season three. But as a loyal fan who truly wanted to find out what happened to HRG and all the rest of them, I tuned in for the revamped continuance that promised to go back to the roots of what made Heroes incredibly popular in the first place. Did it stack up? I’m very sorry all – that’s just not very heroic.

Here we are, stuck saving the world yet again. But here in the more-or-less present, people with powers are now called Evos (short for ‘evolved humans’), and of course, it’s like the world of X-Men with the Sentinels and all – a great many of the power-less humans want to destroy Evos, or use them to their own ends, while most Evos just want to be left alone. There’s going to be an ultimate Summit, a meeting with world leaders and Evo big-wigs, to sit down and hammer out terms of peace and live-and-let-live. For some reason I never figured out, the Summit is being held in Odessa, Texas, and of course, Noah Bennet (he’s still Horn-Rimmed-Glasses forever to me) is hoping to talk to his estranged daughter Claire there, amid all the other Evos and mingling humans. Claire was kind of the one who started the whole revolution, with her overly dramatic, on-camera cheerleader, not-death demonstration of Evo powers. The new head of Renautas, the parent company of Primatech from the original show, Erica Kravid (Rya Kihlstedt), is present for all her diabolical machinations at the Summit. So are many of our other pro-and-antagonists. The Summit is blasted by what is termed a terrorist attack, destroying a whole lot of people and Evos, which basically sets Heroes Reborn in motion.

It’s very hard to say “now it’s a year later” or “seven-thousand-and-some-odd years in the future,” because yes, the show is fraught with time travel. But, try to stay with me here. It’s approximately a year later, and a conspiracy theorist called Quentin Frady (Henry Zebrowski) has tracked Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) down, determined to find out the horrible truth behind the terrorist attack in Odessa. It takes a whole lot of running around, digging into pasts best left buried, and getting shot at for HRG and his pals to realize that the attack on Odessa was a setup, orchestrated to make Evos look guilty. Who would do such a thing, and why?

More complicated time travel machinations. *cracks knuckles*

So, Erica Kravid is the head of Renautas, where big-bad-villain Primatech came from in the original series, and she somehow has gotten wind of a H.E.L.E. event. That is, Human Extinction Level Event, which is to say the sun is going to flare twice and pretty much destroy all life on earth. An army of jacked-in Evos, a literal scorched-earth plan, and a jaunt to a few thousand years in the future ought to clear that right up! Erica’s daughter Taylor (Eve Harlow) has an Evo boyfriend and gets all kinds of pissed at mommy when he up and disappears, headed for the Evo power farm at some secret Renautas facility. Even with the Evo power farm, the orchestrated attack coming off more or less successfully in Odessa, and end of the world plans already in place, Erica still needs one thing: a Master of Time and Space Evo to actually pull off the job.

You’d think this would immediately call for Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), everyone’s favorite Hero from the original Heroes series, and it does, but doesn’t actually center upon him. Instead, we’re actually focused on Claire’s children, the overpowered twins Nathan/Tommy (Robbie A. Kay) and Malina (Danika Yarosh). Why are these twins so special? For those of you who actually recall the parentage involved in the original Heroes series, this means that the twins are Petrelli children, and have to be separated, lest their physical contact cause like a quadruple-powered H.E.L.E. all by itself. Tommy inherited the Syler-like powers of his family, which means that (I’m sorry. Yes, it’s true: at least that’s what the show implies) he effectively caused his mother’s death when she was caught in the Odessa attack and he sucked down her healing powers like a Capri-Sun juice pouch.

Two versions of HRG are now running around trying to figure out wth happened with the whole Odessa Summit, and as soon as he and his reluctant ally, Angela Petrelli — yeah that interfering old bat is still kicking — realize what the twins could mean for the world, Bennet has them separated and thrust back in time. By who, you ask? That’s where Hiro Nakamura enters. In essence, he becomes Tommy’s father when he goes back in time and then gets stuck there because hey, baby Nathan/Tommy just ate your time-travel powers too. Well, damn it.

I’d like to state for the record that the show never did say who the twins’ actual blood father was, as far as I could tell. I mean, yes, Hiro raised Tommy with his adoptive mother and taught him how to use his powers of time and space like a proper father would; that’s awesome. Malina went into hiding and not much is said about her early childhood, perhaps they left that open for a reason. We know the twins’ mother is Claire Bennet, adoptive daughter of HRG and an actual scion of the Petrelli family, those crazed over-powered Evos that caused a ton of trouble in the original series. But, who was the twins’ blood father? What’s the other half of their near-godlike Evo powers? Well, anyway, onward we go.

The H.E.L.E. is coming, everyone is converging on Odessa because that’s where the new Renautas facility is that takes the Chosen ones to the future, and Tommy is being jacked into the machine that’s going to do it. We’ve got all these side characters and they’re barely affecting the main storyline before fading out without even a mention in the superheroes comic book Tommy is perusing for guidance.

The whole thing with Katana Girl (Kiki Sukezane) being forced out of the video game world Evernow and sent to find her father, Hachiro Otomo (Hiro Kanagawa), with the help of super-number-one-Evernow-gamer Ren (Toru Uchikado) is a blatant attempt to appeal to the masses of video gamers who now dominate the geek world. I just wished, if they were going to do that, the Heroes folks would have sprung for better graphics for the Katana Girl inside the Evernow scenes. I did like Kravid’s clone-able Agent Harris (Cle Bennet), and the way he was portrayed was done with some fair Hollywood panache, though again, his character could have been so much more, and wasn’t.

All the Lucha Libre stuff to do with El Vengador, the costumed Evo superhero who fights crime in his neighborhood like he thought he was Punisher, complete with an Evo nephew, an Evo neighborhood priest, and a background of army PTSD with yet another, this time female, Evo could have been its own miniseries right there.

And that storyline with hidden Evo Luke Collins (Zachary Levi), his driven-insane “murder all Evos” wife Joanne (Judith Shekoni), and their poor dead son at the Odessa Summit; it was a fairly over-used plot thread that was supposed to lead Luke to his destiny. The end result could’ve been much more heroic if Luke, and all the rest of these folk, had more of a chance to be heroic, rather than one-use-and-discard characters.

Let us not forget the guest shots of the various characters that made the original show Heroes famous – a very mistaken Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), who thinks he’s working with Kravid to save the world, when she’s just planning on using him as a scapegoat; the Haitian Rene (Jimmy Jean-Louis), still in hiding and still helping Evos with that semi-DNA-helix looking symbol of his; and holy crap, Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) is back and also working for Erica Kravid. We always knew Parkman had the potential to go very dark and in this sequel series, he does, for all kinds of understandable reasons even, but it’s a terrible thing to see one of our most beloved Heroes fall so very, very far, and to know he did it to himself.

We’ve made it to the end and, once again, saved the world. Yet, even now, Angela Petrelli is gathering the twins for their next assignment, some creepy-looking tarot cards are being left like breadcrumbs, and despite knowing damned well the show is over, there are lots of advertisements for the video game continuation of the show in the corners of our screen. This irritated me to no end and seemed like a poor epitaph for the legacy of the original cheerleader who saved the world, but, I can’t blame the show folks for wanting to leave it open-ended in some manner. Most of what we take away from the next generation of Heroes is that these new, younger Evos are going to save the world from what we, the previous generation of powered folk, did to it. Everyone likes the idea that our children are going to grow up to be absolutely heroic, but no-one wants to admit that the it’s because we, their parents, screwed it up royal villain-style and they now have to save us.

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https://youtu.be/4FLHB2zB_cA