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Powerless: Wayne Or Lose

Powerless: Wayne Or Lose published on

I’d given up hope of this ever hitting the airwaves, it seems to have been in development for well over a year and whilst I appreciate that it can take some time for a show to move from being optioned by a studio, particularly if its based upon pre-existing material, moving past the development stage and being ordered to Pilot stage. From there there is no guarantee that the show will even be picked up for a half or even full season.

The superhero landscape is littered with shows that never made it past the pilot stage. The 2011 Wonder Woman, the 2006 Aquaman and Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off Most Wanted, to name three. All of which incidentally star Adrianne Palicki, that poor girl just can’t catch a break as she also starred in the unsold pilot for The Robinsons: Lost in Space (2003) which was directed by John Woo.

Powerless was first announced in January 2016 and has taken just over a year to be broadcast, though there are reports of various behind the scenes issues with the shows original show runner leaving in August 2016 and the pilot episode that was shown at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con being almost completely reshot and its premise of a group working for an insurance company that has to deal with the fall-out from superhero battles being completely dropped. The new version of the show concerns a group of developers who design products to protect people from harm during superhero battles. Neither sound particularly appealing and given the laughter vacuum that surrounds the pilot that aired the original must have been terrible to warrant a complete overhaul.

The cast are fine, Vanessa Hudgens has that perky ‘all American girl next door’ quality as Emily Locke. Alan Tudyk is suitably self serving as her boss Van Wayne, Thomas Wayne’s ‘cousins, cousins, cousin’. As for the rest of the cast Danny Pudi, Christina Kirk and Ron Funches, as I’m not familiar with their body of work it’s difficult to make any snap judgements as it’s the pilot so they aren’t given a lot to work with. The roles may dramatically  improve for everyone as the series progresses but from this laughter free vacuum I am not holding out much hope.

Given that sitcoms generally tend to work on the basis of stereotypes and impossibly thin plotting to get by I was hoping that given the rich comic book world in which this show would be working there would be more depth. In the opening episode there just isn’t, a half arsed jab at Batman Vs Superman for its vague reasoning for the two heroes to be fighting is pretty thin for a show that trundles along for 22minutes with no direction.

It has already been established that this show isn’t part of The CW Arrowverse, nor clearly the big screen universe of the DCEU. So it seems to almost be part of the Batman ’66 universe, as although uncredited Adam West provides the show with its opening narration introducing us to the world of Wayne Security. Along with another DC alumni Marc McClure who is probably most famous for playing Jimmy Olsen to Christopher Reeves Superman.

This opening episode does not fill me with a great deal of hope for the series, iMDb currently has unto 10 episodes listed but as this appears to be relatively cheap to produce there could be more, I think this is the first time I have ever hoped that a series would get cancelled as I find it embarrassing for everyone involved and doesn’t look good in the already muddied waters of DC related material, thank god for Arrow and company.

Given their relatively similar premises maybe Marvel are waiting to see how this show fairs before taking Damage Control forward, a show that seems to have been in development almost as long as Powerless.

Green Lantern: A Retrospective

Green Lantern: A Retrospective published on

I hadn’t seen Green Lantern (Campbell) since it was released in 2011 and I can’t say it left a great impression on me at the time. I found the overall story flat and uninspiring with the characters a little bland and not particularly deep or likeable and as origin stories go it was by the numbers. In fact the whole thing had been done much better in 2009 with the animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight (Montgomery), this wasn’t the first time that DC had put out a superior animated feature covering similar territory. In 1997 they released the widely derided Batman & Robin (Schumacher), followed by the animated feature Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (Kirkland) which covered similar ground and had been held back by Warner Bros. for fear it would over shadow their live action dud.

For all intents and purposes this should have been the beginning of a live action DC universe, Marvel already had the drop on DC by 3 years with Iron Man (Favreau, 2008) and Man Of Steel (Snyder, 2013) was still 2 years away. Given its science fiction leanings, with a healthy dose of cop thrown into the mix this should have been the perfect starting point for the more ‘God’ like elements of the DC universe and should have put an end to Warner Bros. reliance upon Batman and Superman titles that have been their cash cow since 1978.

I’m not sure what prompted me to re-watch Green Lantern 6 years later, or buy it for that matter, however 25p for the Blu-Ray Extended Cut on Amazon, courtesy of Music Magpie, certainly helped sweeten the pot. So with some trepidation I sat down to watch a film that memory convinced me was nothing short of terrible, one of the worst comic book movies to ever grace our screens, right down there with Catwoman (Pitof, 2004) and Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (Nevaldine, Taylor, 2011).

Was it as bad as I remembered? Well no, but it wasn’t great either. The Extended Cut runs a little over 10 minutes longer than the cinema release and doesn’t add a great deal to the plot, unlike ‘classic’ Directors or Extended Cuts like Aliens (Cameron, 1986) or The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003). The additional 10 minutes don’t alter the film in any significant or noticeable way there are no revelations in the additional footage that change relationships or plot points the film gets to its destination in much the same shape, it just takes 10 more minutes to arrive.

6 years on I still think Ryan Reynolds is woefully miscast, and was apparently cast against director Martin Campbell’s wishes as he had wanted Bradley Cooper for the part. I don’t think either would/are suitable choices both actors are largely inter-changable but I find Reynolds is just far too cocky and carefree to be believable as Hal Jordan. I’ve always thought of Jordan as a straight arrow albeit one who would bend the rules rather than flat out ignore them as he does with Reynolds interpretation.

Reynolds isn’t the only one miscast, Blake Lively, as Carol Ferris, just seems woefully out of place. Whilst she isn’t reduced to eye candy I just don’t buy Lively as a test pilot, in much the same way that I still don’t see Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in The World Is Not Enough (Apted, 1999). The part is underwritten and apart from one line of improvised dialogue “I’ve seen you naked! You think I wouldn’t recognise you because you covered your cheekbones!” the role is uneventful.

Peter Sarsgaard fairs a little better as Hector Hammond, getting to chew some serious scenery but the uneven pacing, more of that shortly, means that his arc whips by at breakneck speed and is over before you know it.

The remainder of the cast is filled out with a decent and dependable cast, but they have very little screen time and provide little more than lip service to their comic book originators.

Only Reynolds head is real!

As for the plot, pacing and editing. It is a little hit and miss from the beginning. This is very much a by the book origin story and feels like a collection of scenes in desperate need of a plot, it bounces back and forth between earth and space and Parallax. For the sake of the plot Jordan learns to use his ring and powers with surprising ease and the training montage flies by in less than a couple of minutes as does Jordans’ doubt in his abilities before a final act turn around. As for the final act it is a little underwhelming, Parallax isn’t written as the massive threat he/it should be and follows the trend of evil clouds previously seen in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Story, 2007).

I think that happens to have been my biggest issue with the film watching it again, whilst it gloriously embraces the science fiction elements of the source material there is too much of the film that is CGI, from the Green Lantern costumes to 95% of the Lanterns. Almost every scene features some digital tinkering making The Phantom Menace (Lucas, 1999) look positively restrained in comparison. The CG just makes everything look weightless and this film was there at the beginning for global disasters lacking the gravitas they should have. 

I think the character could have greatly benefited from a sequel, especially with the mid-credit sequence that suggests Mark Strong’s Sinestro would be the villain. Looking at Box Office Mojo I’m not surprised the film didn’t get a sequel as it appears to have cost in the region of $200 million, and only just broke even with a worldwide gross of just under $220 million. Even with the studio desperately trying to tag the film to the latest 3D craze that only just seems to be dying on its arse, it doesn’t appear to have helped the box office in any way.

The Green Lantern looks to be getting another go at the box office in 2020 with Green Lantern Corps. so like Ang Lees Hulk (2003) this appears to be the forgotten step child that DC doesn’t talk about. Had there been a better more well rounded script who knows we may have had a sequel by now and have even been talking up an appearance in Justice League (Snyder, 2017). As it is we’ll simply continue to chalk this up to one of the many comic book misfires and at the time of writing this is the 837 most (un)popular film on IMDB.

Archie Got Abs!

Archie Got Abs! published on

In all of comics, there is nothing that more perfectly encapsulates Americana and the 1940s and 50s era of innocence, malt shops and that there was once a time you could trust politicians and those in charge.


Archie and the gang, have remained largely unchanged since 1941, even with a variety of animated shows throughout the years and a live action TV movie in 1990, Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again (Lowry) that depicted the characters 15 years after graduating high school the world of Archie has remained forever in a bubble. Not to dissimilar to the The Brady Bunch Movie (1995, Thomas) that placed the titular family in the modern era but presented them with the same attitudes and morality as when the original show aired (1969-74).


So it was with a level of skepticism that I approached Riverdale,

the moody millennial updating of Archie, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the ensemble. All of the promotional artwork, trailers and one sheets for the show gave us the first glimpses of a show steeped in Noir, Lynch and any number of over-sexed teen dramas. In the first promotional poster we saw a steamed up VW Beetle, SPOILER the pilot/opening episode reveals that the couple in the car are Archie and music teacher Miss Grundy who is a far cry from her original 1941 incarnation.

Add in teen angst, unrequited love, heavy doses of medication, a potential murder with hints of incest and social hierarchy that wouldn’t be out of place in Mean Girls (2004, Waters) and the show is a melting pot of many ideas that will either be crushed under the weight of its ideas over the shows first season of 12 chapters, rather than episodes, or give us a show that lives up to the promise of its Lynchian premise.

Presently the opening episode reminds me of the recent MTV version of Scream, with its dark themes and portentous voiceover. It is certainly a bold move on the part of The CW, though the show was originally developed at Fox in 2014, to take a show so inherently American and add such darkness to it.

Though given the times we live in, the darkness beneath the surface of something so clean and all American is more a reflection of our times than a meditation upon the change in the American dream.

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