LEGION (s01-03)

It’s hard to pin Legion down, since it’s very proudly one of the least superhero-y comicbook-based TV series of the past decade despite being populated by very comicbooky characters and ideas.

It’s more of a psychedelic mind trip through gorgeous production design, S-tier cinematography and a plot and cast of characters that absolutely delight in and embrace all the weirdest things that the genre has to offer.

The cast is clearly having a ball, and it goes to show yet again how underutilised Dan Stevens is in the broader scheme of things.

Sure, there are action sequences and the like, but more often the central conflicts are resolved by compassion and strange conversations and a few times by psychic dance-battles. Oh, and a hippy cult smokes happiness from the udders of a gigantic pig at one point.

Yeah. It’s weird.

And that’s all to the benefit, because it’s not trying to be a regular sort of X-Men show, it’s a character study of a persona fragmented by trauma, wrapped in a dream-like 1960s aesthetic and often a very Lynchian desire to be willfully obtuse.

It’s unsettling and dark at times, gorgeous and strange and wonderful at others. The pacing overall is fairly off-kilter, but if you’re willing to forgive its self-indulgence you’ll find a tonne of reasons to fall in love with it.

It runs just long enough to tie itself up nicely without overstaying, but I wish more shows were this willing to embrace the absurdity of their own premises.

Highly recommended.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (s02)

Now that introductions and an initial conflict in the first season are out of the way it’s much more fun just to let the characters be themselves… while scattered across the timeline of 1960s Dallas, Texas.

Of course, there’s another apocalypse looming and a trio of time-hopping Swedish assassins to deal with, but really the show shines when it’s letting the family play off and support each other.

Feels a bit more loose and creative this time around, and the soundtrack is bangin’, the whole cast puts in great, hilarious, dysfunctional performances.

A case could be made for spreading the show out over weeks instead of dropping the Netflix binge model all at once, since something like this is fun to keep in conversation rather than to burn through and promptly forget about, but that’s a broader conversation on streaming strategies.

All up, better than the previous season even if the pacing is a little strange at times. If you liked the first one you’ll have a good time again here.

THE BOYS (s02)

Just as bloody, cruel and pointed as season one, but a bigger shift to the humanity of all the characters makes it feel much less nihilistic, and as such it’s more engaging.

I liked the first season plenty, but was curious to see if they slid towards the kinda offputting edgy-for-edgy’s-sake takes on superpowers that the comic does. Glad to say it swings hard in the other direction and improves on its source material in every way.

The whole cast are great, though special credit has to go to Antony Starr’s Homelander — an absolutely terrifying narcissist power-mad Superman analogue, a psychological trainwreck and an absolute monster. There’s good reason why everyone is scared of him.

Otherwise, all the usual crass humour, crude gore and body horror is still present and accounted for, only it’s using also its social satire to actually make points and draw parallels to current headlines.

There is also an extentable, prehensile penis and a whale explosion.

If you’re looking for something light and breezy filled with likeable characters who make good decisions and get happy endings… well… I’m sure you worked out in the first 20min season one that this wasn’t for you.

Otherwise, enjoy the ride!

MEPHISTO IN HADES // TRIUMPH & TORMENT

iPAD // PROCREATE

Digital painting study from MARVEL / Mike Mignola’s TRIUMPH & TORMENT graphic novel, wherein Drs Doom and Strange voyage into Hades to reclaim the soul of Doom’s mother from Mephisto.

This also marks my 100th post here over years and several iterations of the page. Thanks to everyone who’s stuck around and welcome to those who’ve just found me now, noodling away in my quiet little corner of the internet :)

BIRDS OF PREY (2020)

A movie with an identity crisis: trying at once to step away from the pre-existing DCU while at the same time still allowing itself to be shaped by it in all the wrong ways.

I don’t really care a whole lot for the sort of post-production face-tattoo neon-edgelord style that SUICIDE SQUAD had going on, and I really feel like this was a pretense deserving of a few more polish and tighten passes on the script and some snappier direction more akin to a SCOTT PILGRIM or a DEADPOOL than the fairly middling thing that’s happening here.

The titular “Birds of Prey” don’t even really enter into it until the last part of the final act for some fairly stagey action sequences and it never really coheres into the sort of character piece it wants to be. Everyone except Harley (Robbie, who looks like she’s having a blast) is just sort of “in the movie” for the most part.

There’s some good stunts and the performances hit all the notes but it’s cut together in a way that feels like an afterthought rather than an intention.

Low mid-tier DCU, not the worst, but felt (like Harley herself) to be too defined by the shadow it’s trying to escape from under.

JOKER (2019)

I took a while getting around to this largely because the hyperbole was exhausting, and look, having literally just watched it, I still don’t really see the need for an origin story for a fundamentally enigmatic character, even if this is the best version of that story we were ever going to get.

It’s incredibly well shot and put together, Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is fantastic and there are real moments of greatness… but it didn’t really elevate into some magical realm of reverence for me like so much of the conversation about it was trying to convince me that it was.

It’s good, worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of TAXI DRIVER. It’s a film that people are bound to take the wrong messages away from – every generation has a FIGHT CLUB except this is not quite as dark or brilliant as it wants to be.

SIDE NOTE: I’m interested to see if Matt Reeves/Robert Pattinson’s THE BATMAN is going to pick up in the continuity given this box office success.