Look on the television: it’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just another superero TV show. While the track record of superhero TV is spotty (for every one Smallville there are twoBirds of Prey), networks keep piling on to make new shows about earth’s mightest heroes.
The box office success of superhero films might have a thing or two to do with this small screen revolution. Still, if superheroes are your thing you’ll soon have plenty of viewing options during the week. (Unless your thing is female superheroes, and then you’re still screwed.)
The Current Shows:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Coming on the heels of the box office-busting The Avengers, this drama by Joss and Jed Whedon has already resulted in huge ratings for ABC. Coulson lives!
ArrowThis CW drama about the Green Arrow filled the Smallville-sized hole in the network’s superhero programming. It was also one of the best dramas of last season and introduced us all to Stephen Amell.
The Upcoming Shows:
Gotham: The TV ShowBefore Batman came on the scene the only one fighting crime in Gotham city was police commissioner Gordon. This upcoming show on FOX will take a look at Gordon’s early years, pre-Bat, and introduce some of the most famous villains in Batman mythology.
The Flash: The ShowSince Arrow is doing so well, it only makes sense that the CW network would want to capture a little more of that lighting in a bottle. Enter (speedily) The Flash. Based on the superhero with more than Olympic speed, the show will be helmed by the same showrunners who already found superhero success with Arrow.
ConstantinePerhaps a less-known property, John Constantine is still a long-running DC universe character. Now NBC is looking to develop a show around the Hellblazer character with Dark Knight scribe David Goyer at the helm. Will Constantine have enough name reconigition to give NBC the hit they so deperately need?
What do you think? Which show are you looking forward to the most? Share in the comments!
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"We'll see your Coulson and we'll raise you a Gordon!" That's the way we imagine this news came to be — an angry Warner Bros directing this threat at Disney during Tuesday night's premiere of ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Taking note of the buzz gained by the small screen Avengers spinoff, the studio behind every DC Comics film since 1978's Superman (excepting the two Swamp Thing movies — and we can't imagine why they passed on those) is setting into play its own television project, based unsurprisingly on its most popular and critically acclaimed franchise today. Deadline reports that the WB and the Fox Network will reproduce the Batman universe in an origin story series titled Gotham, which will focus not on the Dark Knight but on his pal Commissioner James Gordon.
The series will follow the exploits of lawman Gordon through the decrepit streets of Gotham long prior to the days of Bruce Wayne's reign. Like DC's last origin series, Smallville, Gotham will present a new look at the backstory behind the world built in decades of comic book and Hollywood movies. But taking a page from the S.H.I.E.L.D. book, Gotham diverts attention away from Batman — he won't be in the show at all, in fact — and toward the familiar but not particularly colorful character of Jim Gordon, who Christopher Nolan fans will know in the form of Gary Oldman.
And it is that lack of color that makes us wonder whether Gordon can and should headline his own program. He's a brick wall in the Nolan trilogy, a substantial and sturdy presence but not one you'd ever really marvel at. Surrounded by more ostensibly engaging characters — Batman, Robin, Alfred, Lucius Fox, Rachel Dawes, Selina Kyle, all the villains, and that boat full of convicts in The Dark Knight — Gordon's primary provision is audience surrogacy. He's the "normal" good guy through which we can view and relate to this crumbling Gotham. A fact that might make him a viable candidate for a meaty series were he not weighted down by the riveting connotations by all other corners of the Batman world. Independent from all things Wayne, we fear Gordon will bore fans expecting a reproduction of the Nolan aesthetic in the form of a weekly series. He doesn't have the geeky charm of Marvel's Agent Coulson, or the psychological traumas of pretty much anyone in his own canon. Without a pretty engaging supporting cast, we have apprehension that a Gordon series might translate to little more than a glorified crime procedural.
But perhaps there is more to be done with the everyman character than we're predicting. With a charismatic performer (S.H.I.E.L.D. got Clark Gregg, but don't expect Fox to snag Oldman for this project), Gordon might have more in his pocket than just grimaces of fading hope and a giant flashlight. With a dense world and writing with some teeth, a James Gordon Gotham is hardly D.O.A..
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.