The Quatermass All-Purpose Media Review Thread

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Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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REVIEW: Batman: Under the Red Hood by Judd Wunick.

TYPE: Movie

DETAILS: 75 mins


Although the character was controversial and hated, the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, was a shocking one that remained in place for a long time in DC comics canon. Still, he returned to life in an arc almost as famous as the one that killed him. But how would the adaptation of said arc go?

Five years ago, during a mission in Bosnia, Jason Todd is murdered by the Joker, his mentor, Batman, mourning him. Now, a mysterious hoodlum has taken up the mantle of the Red Hood, an identity once used by the Joker. As the new Red Hood takes control of criminals on the streets and threatens the operations of Black Mask, Batman must unravel the identity of this killer with familiar moves and who knows his identity. But when he learns the truth, that Red Hood is Jason Todd reborn, Batman will be forced into a deadly confrontation of not only his former protégé, but his own mistakes and morals…

The story is perhaps the weakest part of it. True, it’s quite well-done, very tightly adapted with little left to waste, but this also has it feeling somewhat lacking, and Black Mask seems to turn to the Joker for help too easily. Still, it’s a fairly dark and mature work with the right emotional beats and some great dialogue.

The cast is stellar. While Bruce Greenwood is an excellent Batman, as is Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing, it is Jensen Ackles, best known for playing Dean Winchester in Supernatural, who shines as the Red Hood. He has the right mix of cockiness, rage and sorrow for such a role. John DiMaggio is a surprisingly excellent take on the Joker too, showing a more thuggish and powerful side to the infamous villain.

The production values are pretty stellar too. The CGI effects are used well for certain sequences, not quite seamlessly, but done well, and the fight scenes have a lot of energy. The film is suitably moody, for being a dark Batman film.

Overall, while not perfect, Under the Red Hood is a damn good example of a Batman animated film. Dark, moody, but in just the right way…


****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,966
102
2,850
REVIEW: Harley Quinn Episode 8: LODRSVP, Episode 9: A Seat at the Table, and Episode 10: Bensonhurst by Tom Hyndman, Jordan Weiss, and Laura Moran

TYPE: TV series

DETAILS: HQ1.8-1.10, 3X25 minute episodes


So, here I am with the next lot of episodes of Harley Quinn. The series takes a somewhat darker turn in these episodes, but how well will that go? Let’s find out…

The Legion of Doom finally invite Harley to them, with her potentially being asked to join their ranks contingent on a vote…but Lex Luthor confides in Poison Ivy that she has to join them too, or Harley won’t get her dream. But when Ivy’s cautionary words are blown away by Luthor accepting Harley in regardless, it opens up a rift between the two friends, and the Joker conspires to make it worse. Friendless, Harley goes back to where it all began in her family home at Bensonhurst, but while assassins lurk in the shadows, Ivy soon needs help from her estranged friend…

Once more, the series shows a mostly excellent blend of dark comedy and DC fanservice. True, the increasing pathos in the series could have been handled a bit better, with some of the drama coming off as a touch contrived, and there’s also some of the cringier elements still present. But overall, these were enjoyable episodes.

Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell are excellent as Harley and Ivy respectively, giving some meat to their troubled relationship, and making it all the more heartbreaking when things go badly wrong. The rest of the crew do well, especially in the scene where the crew leaves Harley. Meanwhile, Giancarlo Esposito oozes suave Machiavellian menace as Lex Luthor.

The production values are, as before, pretty good. Indeed, for some of the more emotional scenes, we have more than a few bits of good cinematography to heighten the emotion of the scenes. Not as superlative as some anime stuff, but still, there’s some atmospheric moments.

Overall, this was a good lot of episodes. Here’s hoping that the season finale is as good, if not even better…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,966
102
2,850
REVIEW: Dune: Part One by Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth, based on the book by Frank Herbert.

TYPE: Movie

DETAILS: 155 mins


Despite some controversies around the franchise, Dune remains one of my all-time favourite books. Yet despite this, I felt dissatisfaction for both sets of adaptations so far. David Lynch’s film, while visually striking, royally sodomised the story, while the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, while keeping much of the story, had some rather blatant signs of a low budget. But would this film adaptation bring about the best of both worlds?

Millennia into the future, galactic society is in a feudal system, and interstellar travel is dependent on the Spice, a psychoactive drug that is found only on a single planet: the arid Arrakis, more commonly known as Dune. Until recently, the planet was exploited by the ruthless Harkonnens, but the Emperor of the known universe has put the honourable Atreides in charge instead. But it is really a trap, and Duke Leto Atreides knows it. His son, Paul, trained in mysterious techniques by his mother, Leto’s Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica, is plagued by prescient dreams, and fears he is not up to the task of succeeding his father. But he must soon, for Arrakis is a world of death, and between the Harkonnens, the hazards of the desert, and the Fremen, torn between pragmatism and prophecy, the Atreides will be hard-pressed to survive…

If there is a weak point to this adaptation, it is the story. Even the pragmatic decision to only adapt the first half of the book only does so much, and many elements, like foreshadowing the traitor’s reason for selling out the Atreides, as well as the political machinations of the Landsraad, fall by the wayside. Plus, there’s some pacing problems, with the fall of the Atreides happening a little over halfway into the film, and I honestly feel that in many regards, the screenplay of the miniseries was superior. Yet these are relatively minor quibbles: the story is actually a damned good adaptation that manages to retain the feeling of the book, while being practical and pragmatic.

The cast is stellar. For all Kyle MacLachlan and Alec Newman’s talents, Timothée Chalomet is, in my mind if nothing else, the definitive screen version of Paul Atreides, helping give Paul the insecurities and weaknesses of the book version. Oscar Isaac is great as Leto, and Stellan Skarsgard gives a surprisingly understated performance as Baron Harkonnen. Of the remainder of the cast, particular standouts are Jason Momoa having the time of his life as Duncan Idaho, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster, as a genderflipped version of the conflicted Liet-Kynes.

Production values are, well, absolutely brilliant. The style of this movie manages to be both distinct from the David Lynch film and the miniseries, while showcasing the epic scale of the story. And we even have distinct differences between the various cultures that feel surprisingly natural at times. In other words, this part of the film is easily the best.

Overall, Dune: Part One was a great adaptation of a great book. Disappointing in some areas, true, but I fear that is due to my own expectations…

****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,966
102
2,850
REVIEW: Harley Quinn Episode 11: Harley Quinn Highway, Episode 12: Devil’s Snare, and Episode 13: The Final Joke by Adam Stein, Jane Becker, and Tom Hyndman

TYPE: TV series

DETAILS: HQ1.11-1.13, 3X25 minute episodes

So, here I am, at long last, with the final episodes of Harley Quinn’s first season. But how well would these episodes do? Let’s find out…

Poison Ivy needs help, entrapped in the lair of the Scarecrow. Harley is the only one who can save her, despite their estrangement, and even if she can persuade her former crew to help with the rescue, the odds are grim. Ivy’s inner demons, Scarecrow’s plans with her pheromones, and a coalition between three of Gotham’s worst supervillains stand against them. Can Harley and her crew prevail? And will Harley be able to regain their trust and friendship, as well as that with Ivy?

As before, the episodes are quite excellent, but there are times when they are full of cringe. Still, the insight into Ivy’s psyche and childhood are intriguing, and we get some great humour. True, the series ends on something of a cliffhanger, but in a good way.

As usual, Kaley Cuoco is brilliant as Harley, as well as Lake Bell as Poison Ivy. Indeed, they get more than a few juicy emotional scenes, including their attempts to reconcile, as well as Ivy’s apparent demise at the end of the second episode. The rest of the cast do well, with one highlight for me being Alan Tudyk being at his most vile as the Joker, and Wanda Sykes playing the vicious Queen of Fables.

The production values are still pretty damn good. Pride of place goes to the eleventh episode, with Ivy’s nightmare-riddled mind and the chase on the titular highway being the highlights. And that’s without going into the climax of the final episode.

Overall, while nowhere near perfect, these final episodes of this series of Harley Quinn were excellent. And now, I’ll be waiting very impatiently for the next season to come out…


****
 

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