Gargoyles – A review

Cover of Clan Building #3, which shows a number of characters. Clockwise from top left: Flying gargoyle silhouetted against the moon, heavyset cyan gargoyle, small olive gargoyle, large lavender gargoyle with wings covering shoulders like a cape, blue dog-like gargoyle beast, human woman, red gargoyle with horns and white hair. All these gargoyles are male. In the center is a female lavender gargoyle.Warning: While this review is largely spoiler-free, it briefly mentions a few aspects of the show’s premise that might qualify as minor spoilers for the (lengthy) pilot under a strict definition.  I’ve done my best to minimize this by focusing on structure and themes, but it is difficult to avoid altogether.  Some of the links may contain more substantial spoilers, so please click at your own risk.

Unlike many Gargoyles fans, I was introduced to it via TV Tropes rather than the more conventional route of “watched it when I was a kid.”  The latter is apparently rather common for my generation, but I was just a little too young.  Moreover, I was raised on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, instead of the Disney Channel, so I probably wouldn’t have seen it anyway.  Instead, as an adult I wanted to know who this “Xanatos” person was and why his gambits were apparently so foolproof.  I started watching the show and rapidly found myself addicted.

Seeing as most of us have never heard of Gargoyles, it might help to start with a definition.  Gargoyles is an animated urban fantasy series, with some superhero undertones, primarily set in Manhattan.  It originally aired in the mid 90’s and largely took place in the then-present.  Many parts of Manhattan were substantially more dangerous at that time than they are today, and so the series is a bit of a period piece by modern standards.  Fortuitously, however, this works in the show’s favor: the perception of heightened crime is a necessary backdrop for any crime-fighting story to work.  You can’t have Batman without Gotham.

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Legion Pilot – A (Mostly) Spoiler-Free Review

The newest addition to the ever-growing series of television shows based on Marvel properties arrived last week, with the FX show Legion.

Legion

The show, co-produced by Marvel and Fox, is the first live-action adaptation of Fox’s X-Men and mutant roster. (At the moment, it’s unclear if the show is going to tie into the X-Men Cinematic Universe or not.) The show follows the life of lead character David Haller, based of the Marvel character of the same name, who’s comic alias also gives the show its name. At the start of the show, David is a middle-aged man who has been diagnosed with  a severe case of schizophrenia from a young age — he constantly hears voices and sees things that don’t exist. David is currently being housed in a long-term mental health facility, where he meets the show’s lead female protagonist, a mysterious young woman named Sydney with a severe phobia of physical contact.

As the show progresses, David begins to form a relationship with Sydney, who largely rebels against the hospital’s treatments. Things go awry, however, when Sydney is set to be released, setting off a chain of events that leads David to start to believe what we, the viewer, probably already knew: that he’s not crazy, but he (and Sydney) seem to have super powers.

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Powerless – Pilot

Follow the staff of an insurance company, specialising in products to protect defenseless bystanders from the collateral damage of Superheroes and Supervillains. – IMDB

Powerless, starring Vanessa Hudges as Emily Locke, Alan Tudyk as Van Wayne (Firefly, Conman), Christina Kirk as Jackie, Ron Funches as Ron, Danny Pudi (Community), and Atlin Mitchell as Crimson Fox is set in the DC multiverse.

Emily Locke is a brand new employee of Wayne Security, run by Van Wayne at the behest of Bruce, moving from a quiet “fly over town” (where superheroes never stop) to Charm City. On her first day into work riding the train, Jack-o-Lantern attacks the city and the train is derailed, only to be stopped by Crimson Fox. An amazing experience for Emily, but an annoying and all too common experience for everyone else on the train. She’s the new head of R&D, but everyone appears to lack motivation, it will be up to Emily to make this team successful.

I thought the opening title sequence was pretty clever, showing classic superhero panels and zooming in on citizens in the background. Emphasizing that this show is about the everyday citizen, and not the super-powered people around them. Superman and Batman are explicitly named, so we know they exist in this DC universe, but I imagine we’ll never see them. Most of the funny lines were spoiled in the trailer, but there were still a couple of clever things that I hadn’t already heard. Danny Pudi delivers his familar deadpan lines, and the other team working for Emily appear to all have something to contribute to the humorous mood.

Overall, I think this might be the nice lighthearted superhero comedy it is trying to be.

Assassin’s Creed – A (mostly) spoiler-free review

It has become more than a cliche — almost a tautology — that movies based on video games are never good. The latest attempt, Assassin’s Creed, makes a strong effort to disprove that claim… but ultimately fails. Judged against others of its ilk, Assassin’s Creed is among the better video game movies, an eminently watchable two hours of simple fun. Unfortunately, it misses the mark on two of it’s most crucial audiences: die-hard fans of the game will complain about all the things wrong with the story, and (in a year that gave us Captain America: Civil War and Star Wars: Rogue One and Deadpool), the science fiction movie fan will probably find it falling to the bottom of their list.

Overall, I would give this movie a fairly mediocre 5/10 (its better than it’s RT score would indicate, but not much), and probably recommend you wait for RedBox. I saw the movie in 3-D in the theater, and there wasn’t much in it to justify the added cost. (If anything, seeing it in a theater may ruin the fun, as we’ll see later).

Here is a mostly spoiler-free review of the movie; though, fair warning: if you have never played an Assassin’s Creed game, those will be spoiled heavily here. To see where this movie did well, and where it floundered, read on…

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