“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season 1 – An Amazing Adventure With Consequences

Legends of Tomorrow

The first season of “Legends of Tomorrow” is my favorite show to come out of the DC Universe on the CW. This show “Guardians of the Galaxy,” meets “Doctor Who” with a bit of “Firefly” thrown in for good measure. This is a story of outcasts and facing the past and the future, and from it realizing there is no going back and you can’t change some things…even with time travel.

The show was created by Greg Berltani, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, Phil Klemmer, Sarah Schechter and Chris Fedak. Phil Klemmer was the showrunner for this season though.

The story involves Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) getting a team of misfits together to travel through time to stop Vandal Savage from killing his wife and son. They must not only deal with Savage’s forces but also the Time Masters (The organization Hunter was a part of) who oppose Hunter’s plan.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is fantastic! There is time travel, a war over time and space, alien technology and flawed heroes…this is a world I care about and can’t wait to spend more time in.

Time Travel – Time travel is handled really well in this. There laws of it have it so that Time can be shaped but takes a while to set, so there are time limits to what you can change and what that change can be…and eventually it can get to the point where what you does doesn’t matter because the event is set in stone. This sort of time travel doesn’t allow for retcons and it all the more powerful for it.

The Soundtrack – Blake Neely really owns this series soundtrack, just like the rest of the CW DC shows. He captures the drama, adventure and stakes so well and it wouldn’t be the same without his score.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and the best this show has looked and is better looking than “The Flash” Season 2, which looked great. David Geddens and Mahlon Todd Williams did a good job.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of this series and really make the adventure work. There are some cons in regards to some of the writing and drama that I’ll get into below, but it is at least consistently good even with some ham fisted moments of drama.

Vandal Savage – Casper Crump is great in this role as he plays the immortal Vandal Savage who is playing the long game for control and power. He’s a great villain and wins most of the fights he gets in. No matter how he is beat in the individual episodes he is able to use it in service of the long game. This makes his defeat by Hawkgirl at the end and the Legends all that more rewarding. He was a villain who really took the whole season to beat, and it was believable. He ends up having to be killed 3 times in 3 different time periods by the Team with the Hawk Team dealing with the final weapon that can kill him.

The Legends of Tomorrow – The Legends are the strongest part of this show, though White Canary is the weakest of the group as far as character and motivations…but all of them work. They are flawed and it feeds their character choices and motivations.

Kendra Saunders / Shay-Ara / Hawkgirl – Hawkgirl is the character who doesn’t want to be the hero and is pretty passive through a lot of the series but gains power and agency through the course of the film. She’s the only one who can defeat Savage due to the curse from the meteors and because of this she has the most working against her. Her arc is finding strength within herself and in the end is the hero saves them all. Ciara Renee does alright in the role.

Chris Carter / Hawkman – Hawkman like Hawkgirl is alright. He doesn’t have as much of an arc in this and is mostly a tool being used against or for the Team. He is all about destiny and is the one most certain in his roles through time. He does need Hawkgirl to save him at the end which is a role reversal from past stories they’ve had together in this series.

Jefferson Jackson / Firestorm – Jefferson’s arc is finding confidence in himself as Stein is the professor who is older and tries to dominate, throwing Jefferson into the Legends against his will. In the end Jefferson saves the day many times though and save Stein when Stein is dying.

Martin Stein / Firestorm – Stein is the mentor role in this and helps Rip and Jefferson through their pain they are going through. He is the closest thing to a father figure for all the characters and Victor Garber lends so much empathy to this role. I’m glad he survived this season.

Ray Palmer / Atom – Atom is the Superman of this series (which works considering Brandon Routh played Superman in “Superman Returns” it works perfectly! He is the character who has anxiety in regards to worth but is the positive and noble one. He’s the one real hero when the story has started and joins because he wants to make more of a difference.

Gideon – Gideon is the A.I. and she is awesome! She makes fun of the characters and reveals uncomfortable truths creating funny scenes and has agency! She is the one who stops Rip from flying them into the sun to save the world and to find another way. She is one of my favorite characters on the snow.

Mick Rory / Heatwave / Chronos – Dominic Purcell was unmemorable when he was introduced in the first season of “The Flash,” but in this we get to see just how much range he has! Mick Rory is one of the best characters on the show as he is a killer who develops nobility and even manages to help his younger self heal. The Time Masters also use him as Mercenary when the team leaves him after he betrays them and he becomes Chronos, one of the best mini-bosses in the series. After the team helps him find himself again and get past the Time Master conditioning he is ready to sacrifice his life for the team until his friend and partner Snart saves his life and sacrifices himself in his place.

Leonard Snart / Captain Cold – Wentworth Miller became one of the best parts of “The Flash” and he is easily one of the best parts of this show. In this we see the code he lives by and his internal nobility that has grown through “Flash” and ends with him saving the day on this show. He ends up being someone who helps Heatwave find his humanity and the others who have faced trauma. What an awesome character, his death actually mattered too as he stopped the Time Masters who were controlling all of their destiny’s.

Rip Hunter – Arthur Darvill is Rip Hunter, a Time Master who goes rogue to save his family…he’s basically the Doctor in “Doctor Who,” and it works! He is awesome in this role and his arc is dealing with the death of his wife and son and learning to trust and depend on others as whenever he goes rogue he gets into trouble. In the end he finds the team after he gets to say good-bye to his family and Gideon reminds him that she and him both want to live.

The Ending – The Ending is awesome! Captain Cold dies for the team to stop the Time Masters and give the team agency back from the Time Masters, the Team stops and destroys Randal Savage all together, they all become heroes and the survivors band together after the Hawk Team leaves and a man from the future sent by Rory warns them not to enter their ship, showing that their story isn’t over yet. Also the Thanagarians are coming (the ones who gave Savage, Hawkgirl and Hawkman their power) are coming and they destroy everything which is why the Time Masters were working with Savage to unite the world to prevent that, now it is up in the air and Earth is ripe for conquest.

Okay: Sara Lance / White Canary – Sara Lance was okay, for an ex-League of Assassins killer she isn’t all that hard in personality. She is the first bisexual character I have seen on the CW though which is pretty cool! She also helps Captain Cold with his trauma and she ends up facing her loss as her sister is killed when she off stopping Savage and dealing with that loss makes her realize she can’t stay in Star City.

Cons: Firestorm Drama – This drama is a bit hamfisted at times as we see Stein’s control issues and Jefferson’s anger issues rise to the surface again and again, even after they’ve been dealt with. Sometimes interesting things are done with it though, like when Stein merges with Jefferson’s Soviet Counterpart that Savage created and he realizes how good he has it.

Of Hawkgirl, Romance and Agency – Much of Hawkgirl’s drama is around her soul mateship with Carter and her attraction to other people. I hate a character being defined by who they love and that is a lot of her arc. I wish she’d broken away from this as the overall arc of the series was stopping the Time Masters who had been manipulating them and events all seasons and restoring choice to actions. She is a good character but I hate it when any character is defined by who they are attracted too. She’s a warrior Egyptian High Priestess who is 4000 years old, do more with that.

Even with the cons this was an overall better story and experience than both season of “The Flash.” This is largely due to the plot being stronger as the actions have consequences and even with time travel existing…some things can’t be changed so characters are forced to deal with loss and change and it lends power. These characters aren’t static and I care about the Legends and wanted to see them win against Savage. Savage also felt like a great villain too and he always felt like a threat, leaving this a story with consequences. I highly recommend this show and consider it the best to come out of the CW DC shows thus far.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010): A Hilarious and Amazing Story of Growing Up and Nostalgia

Scott Pilgrim vs the World poster        We end the First Comedy Week with “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” I am glad I ended Comedy Week with this film as it was one of my favorite prior and it still holds up, though I did notice problems that I hadn’t before…and gained an appreciation for things that I hadn’t noticed when watching it the first time. It is definitely a cult classic for a reason.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” was directed by Edgar Wright who also co-wrote the screenplay and was one of the producers on the film. The other writer was Michael Bacall and produced by Mark Platt, Eric Gitter and Nira Park. The film is based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

The premise of the story is that Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a guy in a band called Sex Bob-omb who is getting out of a bad breakup and is dating a high schooler named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) to deal. Things change when he falls for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) though and he soon finds himself pulled into events out of his control as Ramona’s 7 Evil Exes fight him to be with her.

The Pros: The Cinematography – “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is a very stylistic film and made all the more enjoyable because of it. It creates the feel of a fighting game in certain situations where Scott is facing Ramona’s exes and the visual style of different areas looks like the levels on a videogame. It is really well done and Bill Pope did an amazing job.

The Soundtrack – The indie rock music of this soundtrack is something I could not tire of. There is a lot of variety  and some great covers of songs like Envy Adams’s cover of “Black Sheep” that was originally by Metric. The music is so much fun and adds to the comedic fun and great action of the film. Nigel Godrich did a fantastic job!

The Fights – There are so many great fights in this film. From the first ex who flies into the Battle of the Bands to challenge Scott Pilgrim in which they fight each other Street Fight style as the ex Matthew can shoot fireballs out of his hands. There is Lucas Lee who fights Scott in the style of “Beat um Up” as he’s an action star (played by Chris Evans hilariously), there is a weapons fight done “Soul Edge” style between Ramona (who has  giant hammer) and her ex Roxy who has a chain whip, there is the vegan ex named Todd who has telekinetic powers and has a Bass fight with Scott, the Twins versus Sex Bob-omb who create monsters with their music that fight and the final battle where Knives and Scott face off against Gideon, the final boss who they are only able to take on after being upgraded.

The Comedy – The comedy in this film is solid. Every character is sarcastic or oblivious in some way which creates some create contextual humor or awkward scenes…like the moments Scott is done fighting but the exes aren’t and keep forcing him to act and his extreme annoyance at all and any scene with his gay roommate Wallace is hilarious as he is not interested at all in Scott’s women problems and is there holding him accountable the entire time. The exes all have very distinct personalities too, as due all the members of Sex Bob-omb.

The Characters – This is a great character film as it explores so many characters and most of them get exploration and have personality, except for the Japanese twins sadly, but everyone else is really interesting and complicated.

Envy Adams – Envy Adams is an interesting character as we never know if she got over Scott as she’s never able to connect with him and seems jealous when he is dating Ramona. She does care about her current boyfriend Todd though, even with him being an ex of Ramona’s and wanting to be with Ramona. Her and Scott resolve some of their baggage with each other after the fight with Todd though as they recognize how they hurt each other. Brie Larson is fantastic.

Stacey Pilgrim – Anna Kendrick does a wonderful job as Scott’s sister who has a much clearer head than Scott, though all the boys she dates end up falling for Wallace instead. Her and Wallace are super close and text each other everything. She is also there at the end to remind Scott of why he is fighting which leads to the final boss battle against Gideon as she reminds Scott that he clearly cares about Ramona and has been fighting for this entire time.

Wallace Wells – Wallace is the funniest character in the film and has a bunch of different partners through the film. He also speaks the most bluntly to Scott and keeps him accountable and has his back when Gideon calls Scott to gloat leading to the final fight. Kieran Culkin does a good job in the role.

Sex Bob-omb – The interaction between band members is hilarious and they all have distinct personalities which leads to some great moments of conflict that are both big and small…mostly related to Scott.

Stephen Sills – Stephen is the reason the band exists in the first place and the singer of the band who sets them up with concerts. He is an interesting character as his drive is to make the band famous as it his life. At times this is greater than his support of Scott which adds for interesting drama and to Young Neil eventually replacing Scott as the bassist. Mark Webber is great in this role.

Young Neil – Young Neil is a quiet character who is talented and is quiet shy but is a good friend still and ends up becoming the new bassist in Sex Bob-omb.

Kim Pine – Kim is the best character in the band who was burned by Scott once so is blunt with him when he is a dick to others and selfish. There is eventually healing there as Scott apologizes in regards to how he hurt her before which leads to her using the band to help in the fight against Gideon. Alison Pill is hilarious in this role with her sarcastic way of speaking.

5 of the 7 Evil Exes – 5 of the 7 exes have stark personalities that make them fun to watch as they are all sociopathic in different ways and clearly deserve the evil label that they chose.

Matthew Patel – The guy is the fist ex we meet and introduces their theme of being overdramatic. He is also magical as he studied magic and can cast fire balls and has an army of hipster demons with him. His stereotype is the hipster but he is able to get beyond it in his study of magic and the fact that he actually cares and fights pretty hard even though Scott outmatches him. Satya Bahbha is really funny in this role.

Lucas Lee – Chris Evans (Captain America) plays an evil ex. The last time I saw this was before “Winter Soldier” so realizing it was him this time gave me so much appreciation for his acting range. In this he is a Captain Hammer type character who is an action hero in film and sets his stunt team on Scott. He eventually is beaten though, though he puts up one of the best fights.

Todd Ingram – Todd is the vegan who is beaten when he is tricked into drinking coffee with half and half rather than Soy as Scott thinks really hard about putting Soy in the one he gives him. His character is the weakest of the best of the exes since he is mostly there for Envy and Scott to reach some sort of resolution. Brandon Routh is still fun though.

Roxy Richter – Roxy is the passionate lesbian who fights Scott on two occasions. In the end she is defeated by the two of them when her anger consumers her and she wants no one to have Ramona. She has one of the best battles as she uses this awesome chain whip in all of her fights. Mae Whitman is fantastic!

Gideon Graves – Gideon is the mad scientist of the group and also the G-Man who owns the record label that buys out Sex Bob-omb. He is kind on the outside but the most cruel as he only cares about Ramona after she leaves and after only likes her cause he can fully control her with a chip he created. He is the most difficult of the bosses and kills Scott, forcing Scott to use an extra life. It also takes Scott, Ramona and Knives together to defeat him. Jason Schwartzman is wonderful in this role.

Ramona Flowers – Ramona is a character I wish had more agency. She did dump all the exes but in the end it doesn’t matter as they can still be with her and still control her to a degree and that makes it so she can’t communicate all that well. She is a good character though and you get her mystery as she’s been burned a lot by past relationships and the outsider in every place she’s lived. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is great.

Scott Pilgrim – This is my favorite role I’ve seen Michael Cera play…he starts out as a major dick (cheating on Knives and Ramona) but eventually becomes a decent guy and even makes friends with Dark Scott who is the final boss showing that he is at peace with himself and no longer insecure. His insecurity throughout the film leads to him being just as destructive as Ramona towards the people around him.

Knives  Chau – Knives is the 17 year old who Scott is dating who in the end is probably the most mature person in the film as she notices that Scott has been fighting for Ramona the entire time and knows he doesn’t like her the same way. This leads them both moving on peacefully and remaining friends. She’s also badass and is a big reason that Gideon gets defeated in the final battle. Ellen Wong is really talented.

The Message – The message is personal accountability and to fight for what you value. We see this in how Scott grows up and in the ending when he fights to be with Ramona by starting over again with her as they leave Toronto together. I wish this could have been explored more though as the exes could have better represented that lack of accountability rather than simple narcissism and ego.

Okay: Ramona’s Agency – One thing that bothered me in the film is how the exes are seeking to take away Ramona’s agency and how that is never dealt with…the only times I saw it as actually being faced is when Ramona faces Roxy (but she can’t beat her because the rules of the game don’t let her) and at the very end when she puts the chip that was controlling her onto Gideon. She never gets the chance to fully stand up to him though as Knives and Scott fight the battle that she should have been a bigger part of (since we know she can fight, we saw it with Roxy). I also hated how excuses were made for the exes and for Scott’s bad behavior.

The Cons: The Twins – They don’t speak, they have no personality and the most that can be said is they make good music and created dragons. This isn’t a pro, since they don’t function as characters, just as point boost for Scott Pilgrim.

Even with the problem of the twins development and the matter of Ramona’s agency this film is by far one of the best comedies I have seen. It’s hilarious, the action is great and it has a point as the message is one of personal responsibility and growing up. Edgar Wright put a lot of love into this film and he is a great comedic director as seen by his past work “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead.” If anything this film just made me want to see more of his work. If you ever liked videogames, especially the old beat um up games, fighting games or Nintendo games…chances are you will love this film. It’s one I highly recommend and a perfect end to the First Comedy Week.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10.