Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Gifted TV Series: Thoughts and Opinions

               The general feeling is that everything is saturated with comic book material these days and that's a true statement but people instantly condemn shows and movies for that reason alone and they couldn't be more wrong. These properties and characters have decades of stories and events to pull from and that fact alone makes it easy to adapt these stories and characters for the small and silver screen. It's a process that hits a few speed bumps with the latest being Marvel's Inhumans  which debuted recently as well, The Gifted is set within the Marvel Universe as well but it feels more real to the world and that helps me to understand and feel compassion for the characters. I don't want to trash a show like Inhumans because it has a great cast but fails in a story that pulls the viewers into the world. I didn't have that experience when I watched the pilot episode for The Gifted as I was pulled into this world where being a mutant is essentially the same as being a terrorist, the characters are flawed and compelling and when they focus on the villains of the show you can relate to them as well. That's a difficult balance to pull off on a show or even a feature length movie but it's an element of the show that gets me invested even more, The Gifted is set in the same universe as The X-Men but they haven't established a timeline to connect it to the movies, we got the reference that both The X-Men and The Brotherhood have vanished. It's a risky element to go with in a show like this but it raises the stakes because there is no safe haven for mutants and they're forced into basically a modern day 'Underground Railroad'.

                 The show revolves around The Strucker Family who seem to have a normal life until the one child is bullied and his mutant abilities kick in for the first time, the mutant gene is triggered by fear or pain. Andy Strucker is being beaten and verbally assaulted by a group of bullies and his powers kick in and he has no control, he is rescued by his sister, Lauren, who is also a mutant and that begins the conflict of the show. The father, Reed, is a successful prosecutor who locks up mutants for their crimes and he has to come to terms with his own children being mutants and he's forced to look at his decisions.

                  I'm not going into a full blown review but that's the essential basis for the show and it brings another story arc into play as well, The Mutant Underground, and their struggle to aid and assist mutants in a world that basically fears and hates them more than anything. The show begins with this group but in my eyes they are the secondary element to the arc of this show, the family drama is a dynamic I love and blending it into this world is awesome and full of potential. The idea of family stretches into the ranks of The Mutant Underground as well where we meet familiar characters if you grew up reading the source material. Thunderbird, Blink and Polaris are the standout characters along with the character of Eclipse who was created for the show but pulls a lot from the character of Sunspot.

                     The decision to have these four characters on the frontlines of The Mutant Underground is odd on paper but to see them come to life is something amazing, the effects and use of their individual powers is also pretty good. The first episode introduces us to the character of Blink played perfectly by Jamie Chung, the look of the character has similarities to the comic boon counterpart which I love. A lot of times when these type of characters are adapted for television or the big screen they are drastically changed and represent no aspect of the character other than the name. The character of Thunderbird is also introduced in the pilot episode as well played by Blair Redford, this character is infamous for being killed off shortly after his introduction in the comics. I'm sure the television adaptation of this character will not go in that direction as he's a leader within The Mutant Underground. We see a glimpse of his tracking ability along with strength and the comment he's pretty much bulletproof, we also get a character who's loyal to his friends but understands that everyone needs help at the same time when he meets The Strucker Family.

                    I'm not going to lie when I say the character of Eclipse played by Sean Teale is in my opinion the weakest part of the show, there are moments when he comes across as a strong character and vital part of The Mutant Underground but his decisions and actions are questionable at best. I'm not trashing the character because there are elements that work but his writing is all over the board and by the end of the fourth episode it's a real mess. I just hope they don't stretch out his storyline with The Cartel because it felt so forced and cheesy and took away from the episode and made me care less about his character.

                    My favorite aspect of this show so far is the introduction of the character of Polaris played by Emma Dumont, she's a loose cannon and not scared to use her powers either. She's the love interest of Eclipse on this show and if they focus on the relationship between these two there's a lot  of potential for character development. Her reaction when he is shot by an officer during the rescue of Blink in the pilot episode is pure rage and control over her ability, we've seen her locked up the majority of the first four episodes which has limited the use of her abilities but we've got to see her personality grow. I'm waiting to see if they confirm her as the daughter of Magneto in this world as her abilities are very similar to his and she has in a way took up his mantle ensuring the safety of mutants. She seems to be the key member of The Mutant Underground and is responsible for saving a lot of the people that are now an active part of the group, I'm looking forward to seeing her story arc grow and her relationship with Eclipse to be expanded upon as well.

                          The Gifted is a show that introduces us to a world set in the X-Men Universe but it's so much more than that, we see a world where there are no heroes left to protect the mutants but a group that is largely viewed as criminal. The Mutant Underground is bringing the mutants together but they have no idea how to properly function as a team, we see glimpses of a team coming together but the characters are green and never come together as a proper force. It seems with Polaris in the mix they may function better as a team but I have a feeling her own issues will get in the way, that's a dynamic to the character that I love. The Strucker Family is a wildcard in this universe as the two children are beginning to learn and understand their respective abilities, the looming threat of Sentinel Services adds a great villain to this world of characters. I've been a fan of the X-Men world since I was a young kid and to see a live action show set in the universe is something I've wanted for years. They treat the characters and stories with great respect and adapt them to a world similar to our own, it makes for a compelling show and set of characters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments Season 2 Episode 1- The Guilty Blood Review

                 A pretty cast mixed with cheesy writing was the biggest complaint I read about the first season of Shadowhunters, I'll be honest upfront and admit that I've read maybe half of the first book and my first real introduction to this world was the forgettable movie from a few years back. I had no expectations going into the first season and I enjoyed it, the story was good and the characters were relatable and it had all the elements of the various genres that I love. The first season had a light tone through the majority of the episodes but in the last couple the tone changed and the darker tone is carried over into the first episode of the second season, The Guilty Blood.


        If your taking the time to read this I'm going to assume you've watched Season 1, if not beware of spoilers..........

                The main character Clary went through a lot of changes in Season 1 and it looks like this season is going to be difficult for her as well, the revelation of the man she fell in love with being her brother is still a focus point for most of this episode. She feels a loyalty to Jace because he's family and this extends to the main core of the group as well, Alec, Isabelle, Simon and Magnus and it's their the need for loyalty ends. The new leadership within The Institute quickly makes the decision on Jace which divides the core group from the people in charge, the element of them going rogue was present through Season 1 with little consequence but that looks to change this season. I for one would like to see Clary rebel against the people in charge where if she comes up on the losing end that nothing with will be forgiven, it raises the stakes for her and her sometimes reckless actions.

                     The real standout character of Season 1 was Magnus Bane, Harry Shum Jr really brought this character to life and one of my friends who is an avid fan of the books said this take on the character was better than the books. The growing relationship between him and Alec was teased through Season 1 with various interactions and it paid off towards the end of the season, their interactions seemed a little forced at the start of the episode but towards the end their interaction fell more like a couple in my opinion. I also like the fact that Alec is growing more into his own this season instead of falling in line with orders as he did for the majority of Season 1, his main concern is the safety of Jace and he's willing to turn his back on his family. The character of Isabelle is sidelined for the majority of this episode, she knows her place is within The Institute but she does have a training session with Clary to help her understand how to escape. I'm curious to see what they do with her character this season because we never got a real good understanding of her through Season 1, the writing was all over the place so I'm hoping to see her more fleshed out this season.

                 I think this season will focus a lot on Jace after the reveal he was injected with demon blood while still in his mothers womb by his father, this episode shows he still holds his loyalty to Clary and his family. He is dealing with the fact that his father is Valentine, who is also the father of Clary and the biggest threat to the world, the focus with his character is where his true loyalties lie and it's teased that the demon blood will drive him to kill when he slaughters a nest of vampires along with their leader who surrenders. These actions are done in front of Clary and Simon and I think this will lead to Jace being a potential adversary this season, the episode ended with Jocelyn, the mother of Clary and Jace coming face to face with her son and attempting to kill him. Valentine takes the arrow for his son and Clary blocks her mother from taking another shot but this allows Jace and Valentine to escape.

Episode Score: 3.5/5


Jocelyn working the new leadership to kill Jace will strain the relationship between Clary and her mother, she spent the first season doing anything to get her mother back only to be betrayed like this.

Valentine showing a human side taking an arrow for Jace, there may still be some good in him.

The Lightwood family is still trying to repair their legacy and it may cost them their children.

I really hope Simon isn't going to spend this season being secretly in love with Clary, he's a vampire now, own that shit.