Arrow, you've been back for .02 seconds, and already you've made me the happiest girl in the world. If you know me at all, you know the words I'm about to type... THE SALMON LADDER IS BACK.
Thank you, everyone and anyone who had a hand in tonight's episode. The rest of the plot could have been Oliver sitting in a boring business meeting for the entire episode, and I still would have been content. THE SALMON LADDER IS BACK. Please have this in every episode forever. Please. Ok, let's get back to the actual story, shall we?
So while it seemed like we were just getting our usual shots of Oliver working out and honing his archery skills, something seemed... off. Yes, Oliver had lost his groove. It seems like though Oliver has recovered from his Dark Archer beatdown physically, he's still not all there mentally. Oliver is off his game. Crap.
In other, non-Arrow-related news, Walter is still kidnapped missing, and six weeks have passed. Everyone is assuming the worst. Even Oliver has that look, that we-are-all-thinking-the-same-thing-Walter-is-dead-but-no-one-wants-to-be-the-first-one-to-say-it look. Am I the only one that remembers that Oliver was missing and presumed dead for five whole years, and he came aback alive! Clearly, everyone's attention spans suck. Gotta hand it to Moira, though: she sure can act. She knows exactly where Walter is, and that he'll be returned in six months. But why? And where is he being held in the interim?
Meanwhile, in our villain of the week storyline, we finally got to meet Firefly. It seems as if someone has been sneaking into fires and offing certain firefighters that all were present at some big disastrous fire years ago. One of the victims: Laurel's coworker's brother. After some digging they find out these are no accidents, and so Laurel steals the phone Arrow gave to her dad last episode, and solicits his help. Too bad Arrow's on hiatus. Even Starling City is noticing his absence, and they're upset about it. And so begins the journey from vigilante to hero.
Now that Laurel has a direct line to Arrow, the story is starting to seem a little... familiar. Is this not how Lois Lane and the Blur started their love affair on Smallville? Yes, yes it is. A certain phone that can't be traced, a voice disguiser, the vigilante helping the girl he loves even though she doesn't know the masked man and her ex are one and the same... Yeah, it's Smallville all over again. But hey, we aren't complaining! We loved that show for a reason.
Though it takes some coaxing (and some pouting! Let's have Stephen Amell pout some more on this show. That was a beautiful sight), poking, prodding, and all around dragging him kicking and screaming, Diggle finally gets Oliver to Arrow-up, and take down the rogue firefighter. Turns out Firefly was in the disastrous fire years ago, and his captain ordered everyone to abandon the lost cause, and he got stuck in the fire, badly burned and presumed dead. I still don't understand why Firefly decided going after his fellow firefighters was the right course of action. I understand seeking revenge on the man who left you to die, but the other guys didn't do anything wrong! When Arrow finally cornered him, Firefly set himself on fire, unable to face life.
With the Firefly out of commission, Laurel offers the phone back to her dad, but he tells her to keep it. If Arrow keeps saving her, then Det. Lance is okay with their connection... oh wait, JUST KIDDING. He had a tech guy install something or other in the phone so now he can listen in on their conversations. I guess he still hasn't lightened up on the whole vigilante thing.
Back to the Walter storyline, Moira finally decides to take his spot as CEO of Queen Consolidated, and Thea is a little surprised at how quickly she changed her mind. I guess Moira isn't as good as an actor as she thought: she was moping around, mourning Walter, and then just like that she seemed fine and ready for action. If Thea is the first person to figure out Moira's behind everything, I will be so impressed. It's about time she was given an actual storyline that didn't involve whining!
But the superstar of tonight's midseason premiere: Diggle. He stopped at nothing to get Oliver back in his green hood, trying everything from physically fighting him to analyzing why Oliver was in a funk. The best point he had: Oliver is stronger now than he was on the island, because he has something to lose, aka something to fight for - his family and loved ones. He's less reckless, and more meaningful in his actions. And finally, Diggle got through. Oliver hooded up, with a smile on his face, brandishing his father's list to Diggle: it's time to go hunting. He's baaaaaack!
[Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW]
Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydneyBucksbaum
'Arrow' React: Revenge Vs. Justice
'Arrow' React: Sleeping With the Enemy... Literally
'Arrow' React: I See Your List of Evil People, and I Raise You Street Crime
From Our Partners:
Craziest Celebrity Swimsuits (Celebuzz)
25 Risqué Miley Cyrus Stage Outfits (Celebuzz)
Sift through comments on franchise sequel announcements and you'll find many crying afoul to Hollywood's insistence of resurfacing every last brand in their bank of titles. The desire for original content is reasonable but occasionally a cinematic follow-up does have the potential to be rich and rewarding. Revisiting characters who've seen time pass in their own lives is worthy of exploration — Peter Bogdanovich's Texasville Richard Linklater's Before Sunset and even A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas prove that theory. American Reunion reaches for that same dramatic arc reentering the lives of its core cast eight years after American Wedding. But instead of mixing comedy with any weighty issues the movie only tickles the nostalgia bone (and without f**king one pie in the process) — a hurdle that keeps American Reunion from being nearly as riotous as the original.
Life hits a wall for Jim (Jason Biggs) in 2012. He's a happily married man a father and a moderately successful employee of a faceless company. But after catching his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) enjoying the company of a shower head it dawns on Jim that he's in need of a shake-up. Perfect timing: Jim packs up the family and heads to his hometown for his 13th high school reunion (sure why not) where he reunites with the old gang: Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) currently whipped into submission by his girlfriend Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) back from a trip around the world Oz (Chris Klein) now a superstar sportscaster fresh off a celebrity dance show stint and Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) a law firm temp who continues to turn women into his own personal squeeze toys. The high school buddies devolve quickly into their old habits alcoholic antics and potty-mouthed rants by the red solo cupful. Good fun for Jim no fun for Michelle.
Instead of digging deep into its well-founded characters (which I swear is allowed in a raunchy R-rated comedy) American Reunion sticks to the familiar goofball scenarios of its predecessors. Which is passable because the core group who stuck through all three movies — Biggs Nicholas Thomas and Scott — make poop-infused pranks and slapstick shtick like a scene in which Jim and co. must get a drunken naked eighteen-year-old back into her parents' house without looking like total creepsters highly entertaining. Scott once again proves him an underused comedic talent making Stifler one of the few characters who can rattle off colorful cuss words while showing a glimmer of humanity. Same goes for Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad who finds his role beefed up now that he's once again single. Grieving for years over his wife's death Jim helps his advice-dealing pop hit the dating scene and Levy spins gold out of the silliest of situations.
The problem with American Reunion is everyone else. Chris Klein never clicks with the rest of the group (that's what he gets for skipping out on Jim's wedding) while the rest of the ensemble feel ham-fisted for cameo purposes rather than complimenting the storyline. Tara Reid and Mena Suvari return to the franchise to stand around and react to the ineptitude of their male counterparts. Natasha Lyonne is in and out faster than Jim's first time. Other brief character appearances are like bigfoot sightings. The idea of bringing the entire cast of the original back for more seems perfect but without proper pacing from writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay) there's never a moment to enjoy it.
American Reunion is a flaccid entry servicing fans while coming through with enough laugh out loud moments to make one scream (In one scene Jim takes a page out of Michael Fassbender's Shame that will elicit audible reactions). If these were fresh characters we'd brush it off — but at the film's core is a lovable familiar bunch of knuckleheads that can't be ignored. And if Stifler wants to party you party.
The age-old debate over fate vs. free will has been and always will be a tough theme to crack in any medium but with the benefits of modern filmmaking technology the theory can be explored in ways that Philip K. Dick never imagined. However when one relies too heavily on spectacle to tell a story a piece of cerebral science fiction can quickly become just another action extravaganza. In this day and age there’s a fine line between the two; The Matrix walked that tightrope with style and grace while Next never found its footing in the first place. Fortunately the precious work of novelist Dick has for the most part been treated with respect by Hollywood (the aforementioned Nic Cage dud notwithstanding) but that doesn’t necessarily mean movies based on his stories are completely faithful to his vision.
Case in point: George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau an adaptation of Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” The film stars Matt Damon as David Norris a successful businessman and rising political candidate who after a chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Emily Blunt) loses a crucial election. He happens to run into her on a Manhattan bus the following week before finding his office swarming with masked men who are “adjusting” everyone inside. Richardson (John Slattery) the man in charge captures Norris who unsuccessfully flees the scene after seeing behind “a curtain he wasn’t even supposed to know existed” as the enigmatic figure puts it. From that point on Norris must live with the knowledge that he (and we for that matter) is not in control of his own life. Rather the choices he makes fit perfectly into “The Plan” that’s been written by “the Chairman”.
In relation to my earlier statement I have to say that Nolfi’s picture looks stunning but his natural urban aesthetic doesn’t overpower the story. Sleek contemporary production design and elegant costumes characterize the high-concept story and the wraithlike agents who shape our destinies. Topically we’re dealing with some heavy material but Nolfi and editor Jay Rabinowitz move the action along at a brisk pace that keeps you engaged and entertained without having to try. The film is properly proportioned as a chase thriller romantic adventure and sci-fi fantasy and thankfully no component overshadows another.
Setting the film in the world of politics and big business helps make its larger-than-life revelations a bit more accessible (as do appearances from Michael Bloomberg Jon Stewart and Chuck Scarborough) while providing sub-text about the corruption involved in elections and campaigns (there are conspicuous shades of The Manchurian Candidate in the movie) but the writer-director often tries too hard for broad appeal. For a film with existential implications as severe as they are here the dialogue is at times hokey and superficial. Dick’s source material is far more abstract and Nolfi for the sake of commercial success panders to the palette of soccer moms and mallrats.
What’s worse is his unwarranted exposition of the Bureau a shadowy organization whose major allure is anonymity. Some secrets are best kept and less can be so much more when crafting a mysterious atmosphere; Nolfi reaches that level of magnetic curiosity but squanders it as he reveals the truth about the Bureau and its grand scheme. On the other hand he brushes over the technical lingo between agents Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar) and others without explanation perhaps hoping that the ambiguous terminology will fool you into thinking that his script is smarter than it really is.
Even though Nolfi’s allegorical conclusions are uncomfortably ham-fisted the chemistry between Damon and Blunt alone is enough to enchant you; this is one highly watchable cinematic pairing that should be revisited as soon as possible. Their innocent relationship blossoms organically and together they make it seem as natural on screen as it is for their star-crossed characters. Even if you have a hard time believing in higher powers or manipulative Orwellian forces you’ll have faith in David and Elise’s fated relationship one of the most captivating couplings I’ve seen on the big-screen in some time.