Wedding

Hi all,

With my wedding coming up this Saturday, there will be no new blog post this week as both my wife-to-be and I are busy putting the finishing touches on the event. There will also not be any blog posts for a few weeks after the day while we move and get settled in together.

Until then, look after yourselves.

Lesley and Boyd pre wedding shoot by Caroline Smyth Photography

Having a wedding in Northern Ireland? Check out Caroline Smyth Photography.

Supergirl

Supergirl is bland, bland, bland. It pains me to say so, because I don’t like writing reviews that are mostly critical, but so far Supergirl looks like a cobblepot of questionable decisions that’s trying to be too many things to too many people. As a result, the CBS show has wound up as ineffectual and inoffensive. It sticks out like a nail against the other DC films and TV shows. Maybe that was the point. Unfortunately, what they’ve produced feels like a series more at home in 2005 than 2015.

The plot follows Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, who is sent to Earth to protect Kal-El during the destruction of Krypton. The explosion sends Kara’s shuffle off course though and she winds up in the Phantom Zone. Somehow she escapes, having not aged a day. Kal-El on the other hand is all grown up and saving people. Kal sets his cousin up with an adoptive family and, with no one left to protect, Kara tries to fit in with life on Earth. The series picks up several years later, with Kara as a young adult working at CatCo.

If you guessed that Kara would become bored with her normal life and want to use her powers, you’d be right. If you guessed that some bad guys also followed her out of the Phantom Zone, you’d also be right. Wasn’t that the plot of Smallville’s sixth season? Not that that’s a bad thing. Sometimes the simplest stories are the best but in that case Supergirl would have benefited from embracing their simplicity. Instead, the plot is more intricate. Kara has to contend with the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, who don’t particularly like her.

Melissa Benoist stars as Kara Zor-El, the young woman who will become Supergirl, in CBS's TV adaptation of the DC Comics character, Supergirl.

At least they got the costume right.

It’s not that characters can’t have more than one antagonist or have to work with a difficult and ambiguous ally. Those are pretty much staples of television because it creates a natural conflict so long as there is a legitimate reason for the two parties to work together. But it’s becoming a rather commonplace for the government to outright object to the presence of superpowered peoples. At least in Man of Steel Superman didn’t reveal himself until after General Zod and his henchmen had already started tearing up the city. It’s not shocking that the government might still be a little suspicious. Here though, Superman is nothing but revered and loved but Supergirl gets criticised for scraping a bridge while saving an entire plane. One character mentions it just isn’t popular to not like Superman but what the series shows the viewer is various characters idolising Superman while Supergirl gets branded dangerous. Sounds fair…

The show is also rife with feminism. That in of itself is not a criticism but it could have been executed better. There’s an in-show debate about calling Kara’s alter ego ‘Supergirl’ rather than ‘Superwoman’, which actually feels more like the writers and producers responding to fan criticism than a necessary conversation. It would be more effective to simply portray Supergirl as strong and independent. Instead, she get’s captured, beat up by the villain of the week and only actually manages to defeat him by pretending to be weak and vulnerable. The final plan is actually conceived by her sister, a DEO agent but it still took two women to formulate and execute a plan whereas Superman often operated alone. The cardinal rule of writing is ‘show, don’t tell.’ Supergirl tells the audience that woman can be strong and independent but it rarely shows that to be the case. Even Cat Grant, CEO of Catco., has all of the decisions second guessed by Kara.

This next point will probably earn me a lot of grief but, I don’t like that Jimmy Olsen is a black guy. It’s really an odd decision. It’s obvious that CBS were going for a more diverse and representative cast but I don’t see how making Jimmy Olsen black benefits that movement. Olsen is the second most well known character in the series right after Supergirl. Everyone knows that he’s a dorky red-haired white kid. The guy they got was a well-built, bald, black man. It’s almost offensive to everyone that CBS thought that Kara couldn’t fall in love with the original, socially incompetent Jimmy Olsen and that the only black guy she could fall for would be tall and confident. There are dorky black guys.

Melissa Benoist and Mehcad Brooks star as Kara Danvers and Jimmy Olsen in the CBS's adaptation of the DC Comics superheroine, Supergirl.

Jimmy Olsen as you’ve never seen him before.

I don’t mind that they cast David Harewood as the traditionally white Hank Henshaw though because it’s important to show black people in positions of power. The best character they could have recast with colour is Cat Grant, who could have acted as a role model to black women, a group that is generally under represented to a greater extent than the men.  I just don’t see the significance of changing Jimmy Olsen. It’s not just skin colour, the personality isn’t even the same. It would have been less irritating to cast Mehcad Brooks as an original character but it’s clear that CBS just wanted the connection.

Speaking of the connection to Superman, the series seems afraid to speak his name. He gets called ‘man of steel’ or ‘my friend in blue’ but the actual name Superman doesn’t get said a whole lot. Maybe it’s because the writers are being coy but it just comes across as vague and annoying. The intention is not to focus on Superman because the spotlight here is squarely on Supergirl. But that presents a problem. Supergirl is fighting some pretty dangerous criminals with serious plans for Earth. The leader even seems to have connections with the El family. That seems like something Superman would get involved in.

As much as I’m not a fan of this Supergirl series right now, it is only the first season and it hasn’t even begun. It may find its feet and learn to balance the various elements in a way that eliminates the blandness. One can hope. A TV show about a female superhero is culturally significant and it deserves to be better than this.

Preview

Are you all prepared for your social and professional lives to fall into complete and utter disrepair? That’s right, it’s less than three weeks until September, which means another season of new Fall television shows is upon us. That’s why Preposterousprose is here; to bring you up to speed on the new shows you should be watching and the shows are should never have been greenlit. Of course, you already knew that or you wouldn’t be here reading this. So let’s get down to it.

Blindspot

Jaimie Alexander, better known as Sif from Marvel’s Thor, stars in this FBI thriller in which a naked woman appears in Times Square. Her body is covered in tattoos, each one relating to a crime that the FBI must solve. It’s quite an interesting variation on the case of the week format and the woman’s unknown identity promises an overarching mystery. A strong offering by NBC that could be a real dark horse in the fall line-up amongst all the remakes, reboots and revivals.

Chicago Med

Next from NBC is the third entry into Dick Wolf’s ever growing Chicago franchise. This series will focus on Nick Gehlfuss as Dr. Will Halstead, the brother of Jay from Chicago P.D.  Wolf’s work on Chiacgo Fire and Chicago P.D. has generally been well written and consistent so Chicago Med is likely to be much of the same. Expect plenty of crossover.

Crowded

Crowded won’t be on NBC until midseason but it’s worth a mention. The premise of this comedy revolves around parents Mike and Martina Gunn whose lives are upturned by their two adult daughters moving back in. It’s a simple concept that will probably resonate with a lot of young people in the same situation. It doesn’t hurt that established stars such as Patrick Warburton, Carrie Preston and Miranda Cosgrove are involved.

HEROES: REBORN -- "Awakening" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Zachary Levi as Luke Collins -- (Photo by: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC)

No Milo Ventimiglia or Zachary Quinto but here’s the similar looking Zachary Levi.

Heroes Reborn

It’s been five years since Heroes’ fourth and final season. This new miniseries looks to return to that universe in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that was blamed on people with special abilities. So long as Heroes Reborn sticks to a singular vision, this should be fairly strong. The original series only began to suffer after the first season when it seemed that the writers had no follow up plans. There is also a worry that Tim Kring will attempt to cater too much to fans of the original, when this really needs to be an strong entity in its own right.

Code Black

Over on CBS, there is another medical show debuting. Chicago Med might have the advantage of the pre-existing audience but the exciting Los Angeles local gives Code Black an edge. The challenge of both shows will be to stand out against the myriad of other medical dramas on television.

Life in Pieces

The premise of Life in Pieces is similar to Modern Family. So similar you wonder why the producers didn’t just end the meeting and just watch Modern Family. It follows a large family, with each episode delving into different stories of each family within the larger group. Sounds like Modern Family, right? At least CBS made Life in Pieces  unfunny so to differentiate between the two shows. Avoid.

Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Caity Lotz and Ciara Renée star as The Atom, Rip Hunter, Firestorm, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, White Canary and Hawkgirl in The CW's upcoming DC's Legends of Tomorrow.

Say hello to the legends of tomorrow…TODAY!

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

The only CW show I found noteworthy and it won’t even air until midseason. A spinoff of The CW’s The Flash and Arrow series’, this show follows Arthur Darvill as a time traveller assembling a team of superheroes to take down an ancient villain. The idea is really strong and might even have worked as a film pitch. The Flash and Arrow have been popular, reflecting DC’s competence in television series creation so fans can expect Legends of Tomorrow to join their ranks.

The Grinder

Another singular showing from a network, this time Fox. And honestly, the only reason The Grinder made it onto this list is because Fred Savage is on the cast. Robe Lowe is the star though, appearing as an actor who plays a lawyer on television. After the show is cancelled, he returns home to where his family actually own a law firm and attempts to actually be a lawyer. It’s a comedy so obviously he’s going to fail, hopefully humorously. If not, this life may imitate art for this series.

Blood and Oil

Turning to ABC and the first appearance of a Gossip Girl Alumni, Blood and Oil follows Chase Crawford’s Billy LeFever and his wife as they attempt to cash in on an oil boom in North Dakota. Promos paint the show as a mixture of GCB, Revenge and the 2014 remake of Dallas, so it’s similar to shows we’ve seen from ABC before. The longevity of the premise is a concern and Crawford was generally the weakest actor of the core Gossip Girl group but this one might be worth a watch.

Chase Crawford and Rebecca Rittenhouse star as Billy and Cody LeFever, a young couple trying to get rich in ABC's Blood and Oil.

Can Nate finally make his own success outside of the Archibald name? Sorry, wrong show.

Quantico

In what looks to be Scorpion meets How to Get Away With Murder, Quantico focuses on the latest batch of highly intelligent FBI trainees, one of whom is suspected with masterminding a terrorist attack. This is another show where longevity is an issue. Either we find out who the mastermind is, in which case where does the show go from there, or we don’t and fans get tired of being given the run around. It’s possible they could introduce another group of recruits and a new overarching story next season. But let’s see if it even gets through season one.

Wicked City

ABC must have signed a pact with Bart Bass because this is the second of the network’s new fall shows to feature a previous cast member of Gossip Girl. This time the very talented Ed Westwick appears as a serial killer being chased by two L.A.P.D. detectives. It’s an anthology series, reminiscent of American Horror Story but in the crime genre. With True Detective falling from grace and some viewers finding Gotham too light, this could be the perfect match for crime enthusiasts.

Those are the shows that stood out this season for one reason or another. Next week, I’ll go in-depth on the Supergirl show. Until then if there are any shows that stood out to you, or you disagree with my assessments, fire me a comment below or on twitter.

Sad

Inside Out is not a kid’s film. By all appearances it looks like a kids film, the colourful design; the energetic characterisation; the sheer marketablity, but there are concepts that are play here which kids might not be able to grasp. It’s  very cerebral film, no pun intended, that wants to explore change and sadness in an eleven year old’s life. The film asks the question ‘why be sad’ and it does an admirable job of answering it, but there are some very subtle emotions that I’m not sure all children will pick up on. But maybe I’m underestimating eleven year old’s.

Disney-Pixar’s latest film follows Riley Anderson, an eleven year old girl who is forced to leave her home in Minnesota and relocate to San Francisco when her father acquires a new job. This transition is explored through quintet of emotions in Riley’s head which control her feelings with the control panel. As riley experiences new things, she gains memories. Some of these are core memories which power her personality, such as her love of hockey or being silly. The emotions, Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger, do not understand Sadness role in the group and routinely ostracise her with the intent of keeping Riley as happy as possible.

On the first day in the new school, Riley cries in class. Internally this is because Sadness keeps touching memories, making Riley view them negatively. This experience produces a sad core memory for the first time ever, but Joy is determined not to allow it to reach it’s destination. Sadness, of course, wants her contribution to be included. A struggle ensues and both Joy and Sadness, along with the core memories are sucked through into the memory bank. As the two emotions journey back to the main brain centre, Riley becomes increasingly despondent without the core memories to power her personality.

Amy Poehler,Phyllis Smith,Bill Hader,Lewis Black,,Mindy Kaling voice the characters of Joy,Sadness,Fear,Anger and Disgust in Disney Pixars Inside Out.

A different kind of Summertime Sadness.

By the end of the film, Joy has learned that Sadness has her place, just like the rest of them. She is able to emphasise with Riley’s imaginary friend, which gets him to point out the directions faster that Joy’s insistence to simply think happy thoughts. She is also correct about abstract thought being a dangerous short cut, but works out the solution. Sadness also rightfully advises Joy that scaring Riley will wake her faster than excitement. But it isn’t until Joy falls into the memory dump that she understands that every memory is good and bad.

The lesson is that sadness has its place in any well balanced emotional state. But there are implications which may not be caught by all audiences. For instance, Riley becomes distant after she cries at school because the sad core memory did not reach the hub in headquarters. The suggestion there is that Riley’s emotional state crumbles because she did not deal with her sadness. By trying to avoid it and think happy thoughts or pretend to smile, Riley ignores the sadness inside. It isn’t until the end when Joy allows Sadness to operate the control panel that Riley confronts her feelings about the move. Her sadness brings her family together and creates a new core memory, one that is a mixture of joy and sadness. Maybe it could be called bitter-sweet.

Our emotions are much more psychologically complex than the film makes them out to be but the film does touch on some heavy issues by showing Riley becoming borderline depressed and being forced to accept her sad feelings in order to move on and adjust. And it is an important lesson to many children, who at eleven are certainly starting to experience more change and responsibility in their lives. But I’m not sure the film does a good job of really indicating how necessary all the emotions are. People want to be happy, but, even though certain situations call for other emotions, no one really wants to be sad, afraid, disgusted or angry.

Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan voice the human characters in Disney Pixar's Inside Out.

We’ve all seen that look.

What is interesting are the little forays into the mind space of other characters. For Riley, Joy is her dominant emotion. Her mother on the other hand has Sadness at the helm of her control panel. Anger rules in the Dad’s head space. Is that something that changes as they get older? That’s a really unnerving idea if we all start out with Joy managing our minds but other emotions take control as we get older. As if happiness isn’t a priority for adults. On the other hand, it might just indicate that everyone has different emotional formations. It’s still rather unfair to think that one person might be managed by Sadness their entire life but it is a rather intriguing concept. If Pixar did make a sequel to Inside Out I wouldn’t mind exploring how someone with a different emotional leader might think and react.

This isn’t Pixar’s best film. Not by a long shot. It doesn’t have the same emotional nuances as Up or Toy Story and it isn’t as funny. I did laugh through the film but more so for the subtle brain jokes, such as the train falling into the memory dump indicating that Riley lost her train of thought. In another scene, the brain workers keep sending up a memory of a catchy jingle so that it repeatedly plays in Riley’s head. That was a clever nod to the way tunes can get stuck in our heads. There is a lot of more simple humour so I’d expect the kids to laugh more than their parents.

Inside Out is a film that kids will enjoy but there’s a lot of depth here that an eleven year old just might not get. On top of that, this was a really interesting concept and premise but Pixar only scratched the surface. But it is a fun film that kids will enjoy with a very positive message. By embracing her sadness and accepting the change, Riley is able to restore her core memories and her personality islands. It’s good to know that friendships can be rebuilt and old passions can be refound. Except for imaginary friends. They must be sacrificed for the greater good.

Affair

It is doubtful that anyone set out to watch The Affair because of the gripping who-dun-it crime drama. Viewers tune in to see Dominic West’s married father of four break his vows with Ruth Wilson’s equally married but notably childless characters. The premise is based around this central infidelity and explores what leads people to forsake their husbands and wives. It also deals with the issue of blame and where the fault lies in these situations. Those are tough issues but those are the themes audiences expect when they watch a television show called The Affair. The question of who killed Scott Lockhart is perfunctory at best.

Noah Solloway, the aforementioned father of four, and his wife leave their New York home in the summer to spend time at her parent’s house in Montauk. It is there that he meets Alison Bailey, a waitress struggling in her own marriage following the loss of her child two years prior. Numerous characters comment on how Noah appears to be the perfect family man, but it is his professional life that has left him unfulfilled. His first novel is unremarkable and much of their financial dependence relies on his wife’s father. The fact that her father is a successful novelist is further grating for Noah.

From the very beginning, the viewer can see stress lines in the relationships. It is easy to see what draws Noah and Alison together. For Noah, Alison isn’t born from privilege and he inspires his creativity. On the other hand, Noah is able to make Alison feel again and doesn’t remind her of her dead son. In Alison’s own words, she sees her son’s face every time she looks at her husband. There have been events in these character’s marriages that have caused deep cracks. Failing to deal with or repair those cracks have only caused them to widen. And as they’ve drawn apart from their spouses they draw closer to each other.

Ruth Wilson's Alison reassures her lover, Noah, played by Dominic West, as he is arrested in the final episode of season one of Showtime's The Affair.

Noah’s arrest is the only event we can be certain happened.

The story is about Noah and Alison but some reviews have decried the lack of details given about Scott Lockhart’s death. There are scenes of Victor Williams’ Detective Jeffries interviewing the main couple intermittent throughout the series. Supposedly what we seen on screen is the characters retelling the events of the summer and beyond to the detective. This, in part, explains the different perspectives. The episodes are split in two, with Noah and Alison giving their own slightly differing version of events. The problem is that we don’t know who to believe. And if they’re covering for each other they could both be unreliable narrators.

At the end of season one, Noah Solloway is arrested for the murder of Scott Lockhart based on Scott impregnating Noah’s daughter, Whitney,  and for attempting to bribe a character who could punch a hole in the alibi. But whether or not Noah actually did the deed isn’t the point of the show. The murder investigation is only present to bring Noah and Alison back together. After the summer, they break off their tryst and return to their separate lives. Their better halves soon find out but it isn’t until Whitney runs off to the Lockhart home in Montauk that the characters finally get together again. And that’s what the viewer is waiting for.

If the series was grounded in the murder investigation the split interpretation of events would be frustrating. There are few details to base any assumptions on and neither character can be believed. But the separate perspectives are obviously about more than just the investigation, because Noah lies about being at a bar called ‘The End’ but there are scenes from that summer that show him being there. Because it’s about the titular affair, the bias makes sense. It’s not an alibi, but how each character views his or her role in the relationship. Noah sees himself as discouraged and weary of family life. Alison views herself as grieving and broken. Both see the other as alluring and provocative.

Dominic West's Noah Solloway chats up a girl at the swimming pool, played by Carolina Ravassa, in the final episode of The Affair's first season.

The real question is can Noah be faithful to Alison?

It goes without saying that cheating is never the answer. It’s an extremely selfish action that does enormous damage to the trust of a relationship. Sometimes the guilty party can be forgiven but the symptoms of such unfaithfulness can take many years to repair and heal. But The Affair does a fine job of displaying how two people can succumb to temptation. It’s not as simple as ‘this person is better looking than my spouse’ or ‘this makes me feel good about myself’. There are personal issues at play. The Affair excels at exploring these personal issues and the damaging repercussions of using negative and destructive methods to deal with those issues.

In the hands of less accomplished writers and directors, The Affair could be melodramatic and superficial. That’s not to say that Dominic West and Ruth Wilson aren’t beautiful people but their characters are so much more than their appearance. Their acting captures a wealth of emotion, bringing the afflictions of their characters to life that a more sensationalist actor would not have accomplished. Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi demonstrate an ability to creatively tell a story with real depth and emotion.

The second season of Affair will premiere in October. Many viewers are eager to see the cliffhanger ending of season one resolved and finally find out who killed Scott Lockhart. For me, the story has always been about Noah and Alison’s infidelity. The Scott Lockhart investigation has only ever been a vehicle for that central premise. I’d much rather see an explanation for why some events vary wildly from one to another. A change of clothes or words is one thing but in one episode Alison remembers sneaking out to have sex with Noah, while in his version he is called away by a family emergency. Theories persist that one is a novelisation and the other is the real thing. Only time will tell if either reveal who killed Scott Lockhart. I humbly submit: who cares?

Small

It’s not surprising that Ant-Man had the lowest opening of Marvel’s rapidly expanding movie gallery since the 2008 The Incredible Hulk entry. Not that it is a badly made film, although I would say that it is my least favourite release from Marvel, but it does have a distinctly different feel than its kin. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor have explored different genres but there had always been a unified sense of style and pacing. Ant-Man seems somewhat divorced from Whedon model, owing more to the original Iron-Man than recent Marvel outings. Again, that’s not bad, it’s just different.

Ant-Man follows Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a old fashioned cat burglar with a Masters degree in engineering and an aversion to killing. Lang has just been released from prison and seeks to reconnect with his daughter, Cassie, but his ex-wife won’t allow him visitation until he has an apartment and employment. Desperate, Lang uses his contacts to find a theft that will result in the payday he needs. The job isn’t as easy as he thinks, having been purposefully set up by Hank Pym. Pym plants the Ant-Man suit for Lang to find, hoping to groom him into an ally who will take down Darren Cross. Cross, played by House of Cards’ Corey Stoll, has usurped Pym’s company and is on the cusp of developing his own shrinking technology which he plans to sell to Hydra.

One of the major themes of the movie is the father-daughter relationship. Lang is largely motivated by his love and desire to do right by his daughter. This leads him to risk further jail time by trying to steal from Pym. Pym, himself, is motivated too by his love of his daughter. Hank, seeking to protect his daughter, refuses to allow her to wear the Ant-Man suit, necessitating the involvement of Lang. Hope van Dyne, played by Lost actress Evangeline Lily, has the skills and willingness to don the suit, but Hank is too deeply grieved by the death of his wife Janet to risk his daughter’s life. Janet died while going sub-atomical to stop a Soviet missile during the Cold War, although Hank keeps this information secret from his daughter until during the events of the film.

Paul Rudd stars as petty crook, Scott Lang, who dons the Ant-Man suit in order to become a superhero in the Marvel film, Ant-Man.

Many viewers felt as underwhelmed by this movie as Lang was by his boon.

Ant-Man depicts two versions of this relationship. Cassie, who is still young, adores her father, is saddened to hear other adults call him a bad man, and tells her mother’s boyfriend, a police officer, that she hoped her father got away with his crime. Hope on the other hand, is deeply resentful of her father and angry at what she perceives as him pushing her away. With the revelation of her mother’s fate and realisation of her father’s intentions, the divide between the father and daughter begins to heal. Those are very deep, powerful issues in a superhero film. Yet, this is arguably one of the most comical films to come out of Marvel Studios.

Think of a Paul Rudd film. Literally any Paul Rudd movie will do, and you’ll be thinking of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. A well-meaning smuck with a penchant for being snarky, who can come off as being mean, has been Rudd’s bread and butter for many years. And he’s made a great career out of it. But I’m not convinced that Rudd adds anything special to the role. Sure, he’s funny but his personality and brand of humour are so recognised by now that Ant-Man begins to feel like another Paul Rudd comedy. He’s very serious and sincere when the script calls for it, but the comedy far outweighs the seriousness here. In essence, I feel sympathetic towards the character and the character’s motivations but the actor pulls me out of the film.

Evangeline Lily also isn’t terribly convincing. Hope is a strong, female character who isn’t perfect. She harbours deep seeded resentment and bitterness towards her father. Lily can certainly pull off angry but she also comes across as cocky and precious, like a child throwing a tantrum when they don’t get a sweet. Maybe that was intentional but a better actor could have given a more nuanced performance. Or I might just be biased. I’ll admit that my dislike of Kate Austen, her character in Lost, may be feeding into my opinion of her work as Hope van Dyne.

Evangeline Lily takes on the role of Hope Van Dyke, daughter of the original Ant-Man Hank Pym, in the Marvel's latest superhero film,  Ant-Man.

Lily’s primary emotions are sad and angry. Sometimes both.

Written by Edgar Wright, produced by Kevin Feige and directed by Peyton Reed, Ant-Man opts for a simple plot. In its most basic outline, the structure of the film is that a good guy has powerful technology which is replicated by a bad guy and the good guy has to use said technology to defeat the bad guy and stop further destruction or chaos. That’s an outline that could fit the first and second Iron Man movies, Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor, if we replace technology with magic device. By now though, audiences expect more complex stories and genres, such as how Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a political thriller or Guardians of the Galaxy was a space opera. Ant-Man teases being an old fashioned heist movie. I wish they’d taken those elements further.

That said, the return to basics is refreshing following Avengers: Age of Ultron. Half of the Avengers are now either retired or missing following the destruction caused by Tony Stark’s rogue A.I. After such an intense film, Ant-Man acts as a breather, relaxing viewers while also preparing them for what is to come. One of my favourite scenes from this film is Ant-Man’s accidental encounter with Anthony Mackie’s Falcon. Seeing two differently powered superheroes go toe to toe and try to overcome the other’s abilities was more interesting than watching two men out shrink each other. Furthermore, it showed that Ant-Man could fill a spot on the team without being seen as the lame duck. Finally, it whet the audience’s appetite for Captain America: Civil War, where differently powered superheroes will duke it out on a much bigger scale with much bigger stakes.

To say that Ant-Man is a poor film would do the movie a disservice. It may not stand up against some of it’s more accomplished counterparts, but Ant-Man is a fine film and you could do far worse than to spend your time and money to see it. Just remember to stay until the very end of the credits. If it weren’t for my soon-to-be wife, I’d have missed that final stinger. And, trust me, it’s worth waiting for.

Leaked

DC can’t catch a break with their trailers. For the second time, a trailer for an upcoming Warner Bros and DC comics film was leaked, forcing the companies to release the full HD trailer to the public in order to gain some control over the situation. First, the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer leaked and now the Suicide Squad trailer, which was only shown to a closed audience at Comic-Con has been posted to the internet. The next day the trailer was released worldwide.

Some would say that it’s good move by DC and WB to release the trailer for themselves, driving up hits for their own videos. But it doesn’t actually change the content, so whether the trailer is viewed in grainy, bad quality or full, wrinkle magnifying high definition comments and criticisms are going to be the same. What control have they actually gained? The companies have only succeeded in being forced to do something which they did not originally intend to do. They wanted to do something cool for the Comic-Con crowd but there was no way it was ever going to stay exclusive. Even panel details end up on the internet by the end of the day. The reason to go to Comic-Con is to be part of the experience and enjoy it first hand. Those who can’t go should not be punished by being kept in the dark for months. Next time release the trailer world wide at the same time as it is screened to comic-con audiences.

So what about the actual content of the trailer? I’ll say this: Margot Robbie is an absolute gem as Harley Quinn. Her performance is perfectly pitched between sweet and menacing, highlighting both the childlike qualities of the psychiatrist and her brutal, violent tendencies. She wasn’t overly sexualised, which was a concern after Robbie’s role in The Wolf of Wall Street, aside from one scene where she licks her prison bars, But it’s hard to know whether that was meant to be sexual or just creepy. Maybe both.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Warner Bros upcoming film adaptation of the DC Comics super villain team, Suicide Squad.

Harley could abandon the group to go looking for her “puddin'”.

Will Smith, as Deadshot, looks the part but I’m less sold on his personality. Not that Deadshot has much of a personality; he is dutiful in regards to his work, has a disregard for human life, even his own, and his only real passion appears to be shooting people. That is the character we got in the trailer, but I don’t believe Smith is the right man for the role. Smith doesn’t do so well with the stoic, dry witted characters. As an actor, he’s at his best when he’s allowed to emote and be a little silly. Even in The Pursuit of Happyness, where Smith takes on a serious role, there is physical humour and Smith’s feelings are often at the forefront of the scene. I’m not saying his portrayal needs to be more wooden but there are a lot of actors who have made a name for themselves by playing hardened, misanthropic men and are suited to the role. Smith is not.

Enchantress, played by model turned actor Cara Delevingne, also pops up in a few scenes. Most notably she takes a bath in some black liquid which could be something magical or might just be really dirty water. She has no lines in the trailer. In fact, the only other Suicide Squad member to get a speaking line is Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang. All of the members were present and accounted for but by far it was Margot Robbie and Will Smith who got the majority of the focus. That seems a little out of sync, since people are going to come to see Harley Quinn and Deadshot regardless. It’s characters such as Rick Flag and Slipknot that they’ll have to sell people on. But there’s plenty of time between now and summer next year for DC to promote those characters.

In regards to the music, the creepy soundtrack and the sombre, melancholy singing felt in keeping with the very dark premise of the film, in which the government uses criminals to do jobs too high risk for people they actually care about. It’s good that the trailer explained that to viewers who perhaps aren’t familiar with this group, although Amanda Waller’s claim of being able to control them because that’s her job felt a bit like tempting fate. Whether the group does turn on her or continues to do her bidding by the end of the film likely depends a lot on whether or not a certain psychopath in clown make-up appears.

Jared Leto takes on the role of the iconic character, The Joker in Warner Bros upcoming film adaptation of the DC Comics super villian team, Suicide Squad.

He doesn’t look crazy, he just looks sick.

The best comment I can make about Jared Leto’s Joker is that at least he doesn’t appear to actually be apart of the Suicide Squad itself. That’s what I have been lobbying for since Jared Leto’s casting announcement last year. If Marvel can pull off a film about a racoon and a tree in space from a comic that no one who doesn’t read comics will never have heard of, DC can surely pull off an ensemble film of notable bad guys like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc. I’ll be happy if The Joker’s only appearances are in flashbacks. But then again, I feel that way more than ever because I detest Leto’s portrayal as The Joker in the trailer. He looks like his character from Requiem For A Dream took fashion tips from his character from Fight Club, then joined a gang with his character from Panic Room. And aside from looking like a horrible Annie Lennox/Marilyn Manson cosplay, he completely overacts the last scene. I hoping The Joker only appears in flashbacks because otherwise I’ll be cringing throughout the entire film.

The Joker aside, the only other complaint of the trailer would be the attempts to tie this film into the larger DC universe, specifically the criminals in Batman masks and Weller calling  Superman ‘a beacon’ for super enabled folk. For one, I dislike the idea of Batman and Superman as misunderstood vigilantes. Batman might work by his own moral code, but he did work with the police and the law to clean up a city that was rife with crime and corruption. And I get the concept that super heroes beget super villains because the criminals have to become smarter and more dangerous to deal with the new obstacle but that’s not what’s being suggested here. The use of the word beacon puts the government’s perception of Superman in the same category as Harley Quinn and Deadshot, not as a cause and effect. Not to mention it just feels like a cheap way of reminding us that the two films are connected. Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t name drop a single Avenger but we still knew the films took place in the same universe.

On the whole, I did enjoy this trailer. Mostly for Margot Robbie but it’s also got me wondering about the final feature, which is good. Marvel have already proven to be experts at the ensemble film. This will be DC and Warner Bros first big test and how they do here will largely inform what we can expect from a Justice League film. Roll on August 2016.

Honesty

Period dramas have been around for a while now. Gunsmoke and Little House on the Prairie, both set in the 1800s but airing in the 1950s and 70s show that as long as television has been a part of our lives, producers and directors have used the past to educate and entertain. Audiences connect with that notion of looking into the past. The popularity of period dramas hasn’t waned, as Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Manhattan and Salem can attest to. But out of all of these period dramas, only Masters of Sex really connects with an issue that we are still struggling with today.

“An honest discussion” are the words used by Virginia Johnson, played by Lizzie Chapman, in the Masters of Sex third season premiere. The first two seasons were foreplay to this third season which takes place amidst the sexual revolution. And now, for the first time, it seems possible for Virginia and Bill Masters to be open and forthright about their study of sexual response without being deemed perverts. Yet, here Virginia and Masters are being depicted opening up dialogue about sex in the 1960s when it could be argued the being open and honest about sex is still a rarity now in the 21st century.

Early in the episode Michael Sheen’s Masters is tasked with educating Virginia’s teenaged daughter Tessa about the dangers of unprotected sex. Masters balks at the idea, retreating to another room to work but later does accept the role and advises Tessa to listen to those more experienced who care for her. This is juxtaposed with Sheen and Johnson answering questions from a press conference about their book on sexual response. It’s interesting to see how much more confident Masters is when informing a room of journalists about sexual science than conversing with a teenaged girl. And it’s not like Masters is reclusive researcher; he’s a gynecologist who deals with patients on a regular basis. But this teenaged girl isn’t just any teenage girl. Tessa is like family to Masters, and that makes all the difference.

Lizzie Chapman and Michael Sheen return as Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters in the third season of Showtime's Masters of Sex

The work speaks for itself, except when we speak for it.

Masters of Sex acknowledges the awkwardness of discussing this subject with our children but it is also acutely aware of the necessity. Much of this first episode of Masters Of Sex’s third season is centred about the sexual exploits of their children. Virginia walks in on her son and his female friend in a passionate moment, whilst Masters’ own son Johnny catches a drunken Tessa stealing a kiss from his father. When their parents attempt to get involve, the children call out their absence or devotion the sexual study over family. Johnny, in particular, lashes out at his father for kissing Tessa when he “won’t kiss mommy”. There is a real understanding in the show that what children see and experience in their parent’s love lives end up affecting their life choices and sexual decisions.

It is the parent’s responsibility then not just to inform their children of good sexual conduct, e.g. practicing safe sex and being respectful towards one’s partner, but also to live it. It’s no good for a mother or father of a child to say one thing and do another. An example must be set wherein parents are respectful and loving to encourage good sexual understanding in their kids. That’s as true today as it was in the 1960’s. For all the progress that science has made in the past fifty plus years, we still treat sex as a dirty conversation topic when it needn’t be. We need open and honest conversations to enable our young people to make good sexual choices. Something has gone wrong when young men take ‘no’ as a challenge.

Masters of Sex promotes sexual clarity and audiences connect with that. I’m sure that some viewers watch for the nudity but they’re missing the point. Even Game of Thrones, which utilises fan service to cover exposition, offers viewers more than just nudity. If these shows had nothing but bared flesh going from them they’d never have gotten more than one season. But Masters of Sex is about so much more than nudity. It’s about sexual exploration and sexual attraction and how that can both enrich the lives of people when wielded with understanding and destroy marriages and childhoods if practiced irresponsibly.

Michael Sheen's Bill Masters tries to educate Isabelle Fuhrman's Tessa Johnson about sex in Showtime's Masters of Sex,

No, Tessa, I will not show you my coil.

Libby Masters, Bill’s wife, played by Caitlin Fitzgerald is one of the saddest characters in the show. Over the course of three seasons, she has been systematically broken by Bill’s callousness and disregard. When first introduced to the couple, they sleep in separate beds and Bill barely touches her. Yet, by the end of the second season, Bill’s affair with Virginia is in full swing and is clearly about more than just the study. Libby even acknowledges the affair but does nothing about it. In a heart to heart with Virginia in tonight’s ‘Parliament of Owls’, she seems to practically allow the affair so long as it does break up the family. Bill, for all his understanding and expertise in sex and the repercussions of, doesn’t see what his own exploits have reduced his own wife to.

The use of the time skip is a doubled edged sword though. I understand they utilised the literary device in order to create impact for the final reveal but it also implies that many of the character issues have remained stagnant for four months. The episode, and possibly the coming season might be stronger were they to remove the time skips and slowly build towards the reveal in the finale. I certainly hope they don’t intend to bounce between the times in every episode. Lost utilised time skips in that fashion and even it was forced to come up with creative twists on the format by the end of the first season.

Over reliance of analepsis (or prolepsis, depending on your perspective) aside, ‘Parliament of Owls’ is a strong opening episode for the third season of Showtime’s Masters of Sex. Is it a return to form of the critically acclaimed first season? Perhaps not, but it is much more coherent and thoughtful than the season season. Will it continue to improve? Only time will tell but, for now, Masters of Sex is a show that should be on everyone’s watch-list.

Silence

So the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has been out for a while and bar some twitter comments, I haven’t seriously said anything about it. Not that I expect the world is waiting on bated breath for my opinion on the subject, but this is a blog, my blog about my interests and my interests do include films about superheroes, so it might be seen as strange for such a topic not to grace the pages of Preposterousprose. But the reason is really quite simple. There’s very little to say.

The means of releasing the trailer was quite humorous. Not content to simply post the video up and promote it via twitter, DC and Warner Bros put out a teaser for the trailer first. Batman V. Superman isn’t the first film to get the trailer teaser treatment but I really hope it doesn’t become a consistent means of promotion. Trailers already divulge so little informations that there really doesn’t need to be another form with even less footage. This was further aggravated by the fact that the actual trailer was leaked and in an attempt to lessen the blow, the trailer was released a day early. After all that trouble, wouldn’t it really just have been easier to just release the trailer in the first place?

Bad marketing and advertising decisions aside though, the trailer was rather innocuous. Lots of night time shots, rain and voice overs of reporters analysing Superman’s affect on humanity. Nothing very challenging. Films featuring Batman do tend to spend an inordinate amount of time in the dark and rain, a reflection of his gloomy soul. It was nice that Nolan’s Batman did get to do some sleuthing in the daylight, and maybe he’ll get some sun in actual film but for the Dawn of Justice trailer, the weather was as one might expect for a film with the Dark Knight.

Photo of Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck as  Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne in DC Comics' Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice as they appear in Entertainment Weekly.

Because what this film needs is romance.

Speaking of the caped crusader, the trailer did give us our first look of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Not that there was much to see. The shot was Affleck looking at the Bat suit, possibly in anger or just indecision. Perhaps the implication is that Wayne hung up his boots for a while and he’s questioning whether to come out of retirement to fight Superman. Or he may be considering whether, because Gotham is his base of operations, an alien in Metropolis is his problem. Or the two shots might be entirely unrelated. Trailers have a habit of sticking two unconnected clips together to make it look like something is happening, when actually Bruce Wayne might be getting angry at a news reporting showing Superman killing thousands of civilians in a fight with General Zod.

If the trailer can be believed, it’s looking like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice will deal with the repercussions of that battle at the end of Man of Steel. Zack Synder appears to be drawing on actual fan criticism of the previous film, with many reporters questioning the destruction Superman has wrought. It’s true that Superman destroyed as much of Metropolis as he saved, but most reporters are big picture kind of people and can see the benefits of having a super powered protector. Besides, hasn’t Superman been helping rebuild the city and stopping other violent crimes in the meantime? The only reason I can see for the backlash against Superman is that it comes much later in the film than it appears, likely after Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther has turned Metropolis against him.

All we know for certain is that a rather stubbly Bruce Wayne puts on a Bat suit with unusually small ears (at least its not nipples, right?) and meets Superman in the rain. Although actually, the bat suit he fights Superman in is more mechanical, looking like one of the Iron Man prototypes, and it distorts his voice so that it sounds half human/half computer. It’s still clearer than the mess Bane’s voice was, but there’s no word on whether that’s just how Batman hides his voice or if it’s because of the mechanical bat suit. Logic would dictate its the latter but the DC films don’t always go with what makes the most sense.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther in Batman Vs. Superman as shown in Entertainment Weekly.

That hair has got to go.

As cool as it might be to see Batman and Superman duke it out, I feel like Marvel beat them to the finish line again with the Iron Man/Hulk fight in Avengers:Age of Ultron. Iron Man and Hulk have often been seen as Marvel’s counterparts of DC’s mainstays. Both Batman and Iron Man are billionaire playboys who moonlight as super heroes whose only superpowers are their ingenuity and initiative. Superman and Hulk are both nigh-invincible beings that tackle their problems by punching. The only difference I can think of that matters is that Hulk can’t fly and can be subdued. Unless Batman has some kryptonite lying around, he’s not going to be able to weaken Superman. And why would he? In this universe, Superman only recently appeared and the location or effect of the green rocks aren’t widely known.

I do want to clarify that I didn’t hate the trailer. I haven’t been positive about the upcoming film, mostly because DC and Warner Bros have squandered some potential here in order to quickly build a Justice League team and compete with Marvel. But the trailer didn’t add to any of that. More than anything, the trailer didn’t excite or annoy me and that’s the main problem. The trailer should evoke a response. The sad fact is that the publication of trailer was more interesting than the trailer itself.

For a trailer, it didn’t turn any of my preconceived notions on their head and there’s still a lot to speculate about. There really isn’t much to say about the trailer because much of the conversation leads into hypotheticals about the film. There just aren’t enough facts to paint enough of the picture yet. It’s like playing Catchphrase with only one tile revealed. Entertainment Weekly recently added a few more tiles, revealing Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther. The picture is coming together but there’s still a lot to be revealed between now and March 2016.

Spider-Boy

And we have our Spider-man. Earlier this week Sony revealed that they had signed Tom Holland to play the webbed superhero, set to appear in next year’s Captain America: Civil War and a future movie reboot. Furthermore, contrary to previous reports, Drew Goddard will not be directing the 2017 film, with Jon Watts picking up the credit. Now our speculation can turn to who will be playing the supporting roles and what the costume will look like for the new series.

Both Holland and Watts are unknowns. I had expected the actor to be unestablished given that they were looking for young actors so that their Peter Parker could feasibly look like he went to high school. In that regard, they’ve certainly succeeded. Holland looks young despite being 19 and will only be a month shy of his 20th birthday when Civil War hits cinemas. Holland is best known for Spanish disaster film, Lo Imposible, also featuring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, but he also has a few films coming out this year which will certainly benefit from his new found name recognition.

Watts is also known well by only one film, Cop Car, an indie thriller about two joyriders being chased by a rogue sheriff, played by Kevin Bacon, looking particularly ridiculous with a mustache. Horror fans might know Watts for Clown, which saw limited release and is probably only well known for the story that Eli Roth joined the production after writers Watts and Christopher D. Ford were gutsy enough to release a fake trailer announcing that Roth was already producing. It’s nice to know that Watts won’t be scared to do something different with the new Spider-Man, provided Sony give him enough space to work. Interestingly, one of Holland’s upcoming films, Backcountry, is a Canadian horror movie, so he and Watts should get on like a house on fire.

Cop Car director Jon Watts has been selected by Marvel and Sony to direct the 2017 Spider-Man reboot.

I told you it looked ridiculous.

The idea of Watts bringing some of that horror and thriller experience is really intriguing. A Kafkaesque approach to Spider-Man would be totally refreshing and stand out from the Sam Rami and Mark Webb movies. At the time Raimi’s films were some of the best superhero movies we’d ever seen but then The Dark Knight came out and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe took over. Looking back, It’s disappointing that Raimi, with his expertise and background, didn’t do more with the Spider-Man films. The films drew too much from his love of slapstick than the cult horror to the point where even when the films needed to go dark it felt corny and false.

Regardless of the direction that Watts and Sony decided to pursue, almost every fan on the planet will be glad to know that there will be no origin story. The film will start out after the fact, with Parker already web slinging and stringing up criminals. This is good news because audiences really don’t need to see another thirty minutes of set up that is essentially the same as the previous two films. Even Amazing Spider-Man’s injection of family history didn’t really change the basic story from ‘man gets bit by spider, develops powers’. This is clearly Marvel’s influence on Sony, as they followed the same trend with Warmachine and The Hulk. In both cases Terrence Howard and Edward Norton were replaced with Don Cheadle and Mark Ruffalo and everyone acted like it had always been that way.

Origin story or not though, this film is still likely to splinter the already divided fan base. Now, on top of the Raimi Vs. Webb arguments and Tobey Maguire vs. Andrew Garfield disagreements, there will be a new sect that will support Holland and Watts and will criticise the other adaptations. It’s not even down to the fact that this is a reboot, it’s because of how soon the change has coming after the previous series. People will still pay to see the movie but they run the risk of viewers finding it trite and uninspired simply because they’ve seen other versions of this exact character in this world so recently. That’s why Watts needs to be bold with his direction and story.

Tom Holland, who is set to play Spider-Man in upcoming Marvel and Sony films, as he appears in the 2013 British film, How I Live Now.

Tom Holland at 17. He hasn’t aged much in 2 years.

That’s not to say that people will story arguing if the film is good. To this day, despite there being a thirteen age gap and The Dark Knight being heralded as one the best films of the superhero genre, fans still disagree over whether Tim Burton’s films were the best or if Nolan’s films live up to their hype. But you don’t see fans arguing that they should have kept Michael Keaton around because it’s just not practical for Keaton to be running around in the cape and cowl these days, even if Birdman shows that he’s still a damn fine actor.But at least if Watts does something like make a dark, creepy battle of wits between Spider-Man and Mysterio people can’t complain it was too similar to previous outings of the character.

What I’m not looking forward to is the continued high school setting. The choice of  younger actor was partly tied to the setting but I feel like we’ve seen enough of Peter Parker in high school. Even if it didn’t come up much in the previous films, Maguire and Garfield’s characters both went to high school, fought with bully Flash Thompson and were attracted to the popular girl. I don’t know what more there is to explore in those settings so while I’m fine so far with a Spider-Man who is still in high school, I don’t particularly want to see more of the character in that environment.

There’s lots of potential for new creative direction with the casting of Tom Holland and Jon Watts. I can’t honestly say that they were my first choice but I look forward to seeing what they bring to the table. Admittedly, if this were just Sony’s decision I might be a bit wary but given that Marvel were involved and Marvel’s track record of signing relatively unknown actors who wind up being brilliant, I’m content with these choices. Now, who should play Aunt May?