Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Supergirl - Elseworlds (Part 3)


Although apparently it will be the last we see of him for awhile, Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) gets quite a bit of screentime in the the "Elseworlds" finale as Hoechlin does double duty as both the Man of Steel and the new form of John Deegan (Jeremy Davies). As with the previous two episodes, Part 3 gives us more nods and winks at both Crisis of Infinite Earths (which apparently will be next year's big crossover) and other famous moments of our heroes climaxing in the Flash (Grant Gustin) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) circling the globe (Superman: The Movie) so quickly they begin to burn themselves out of existence (Crisis of Infinite Earths). The visuals work quite well, even if the logic of the entire segment seems pretty shaky on multiple levels.

Arrow - Elseworlds (Part 2)


"Elseworlds" continues as Barry (Grant Gustin), Oliver (Stephen Amell), and Kara (Melissa Benoist) head to Gotham City in search of the person responsible for the changes to reality. Who they find is Batwoman (Ruby Rose). As with Part 1, this episode has plenty of Easter Eggs for DC Comics fans including John Wesley Shipp in his classic Flash costume appearing in a vision (not unlike the Flash did in Crisis on Infinite Earths). The episode also cements a couple of points that, up until now, the Arrowverse has been coy about discussing: Batman exists on both Earths, although he's been absent from the Gotham City of Earth-1 for quite some time.

The Flash - Elseworlds (Part 1)


The CW begins its latest crossover event on The Flash with Part 1 of "Elseworlds" as Barry (Grant Gustin) and Oliver (Stephen Amell) awake to a reality where they have each other's powers and skills and everyone treats Barry as Oliver and vice-versa. The goofy Freaky Friday set-up provides some humorous moments such as Oliver struggling to deal with the affections of Iris (Candice Patton) and Barry getting some long-waited payback. There are nagging issues here in how quickly both are able to get up to speed, but the episode's idea that the abilities/skills are inherent to them and just need to be tapped into does the bare minimum to gloss over the plot hole. Also troubling is Team Flash's reaction to the pair. While throwing them into the pipeline allows for a nice escape sequence, and offering a reason to tie-in appearances from both Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), you would think that Barry and Oliver (who still have their own knowledge) should have been able to prove who was who simply by talking things through.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Rudyard Kipling's work has been adapted to film numerous times over the years. While some enjoyed Disney's 2016 live-action version of their earlier animated film, the mix of a realistic look with Disney sensibilities (animals that both sang and danced and then brutally murdered) didn't work for me.

Delayed because of the Disney release, Andy Serkis' version feels a bit more on point (and far more tonally consistent). The actor, who made a name for himself as one of the most famous CGI performers over the years, delivers a vibrant film making the most out of continued advancements of motion capture techniques. The film doesn't run from the dangers of the jungle, or try to make the animals into cute sidekicks to sell toys and merchandise to younger viewers.

The story follows Kipling's basic plot of a human baby raised by wolves. After brief set-up introducing Mowgli (Rohan Chand) to the tribe, the film jumps forward several years catching up with the man-cub when he's old enough to begin questioning his world and his place in it.

At Eternity's Gate

The latest from director Julian Schnabel takes us on a journey with Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) during the painter's final years. Shot in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône and Auvers-sur-Oise, France, where van Gogh lived during his final years, the film offers beautiful shots of the French countryside, countless close-ups of Dafoe's face and paintings, and a somewhat unfocused narrative on the artist's eccentric nature, loneliness, and view of the world.

The strength of Schnabel's film is the look and style and its more silent moments centered around van Gogh where some of the magic of the artistic's work is shown, but when the film moves from this to longer dialogues, often oddly filmed in extreme closeups, in attempts to explain van Gogh, the sequences are more hit-and-miss. Oscar Isaac as Paul Gauguin and Rupert Friend as Vincent's brother lead a supporting cast of those moving in and out of the artist's troubled life. Their scenes with Dafoe, and those involving a schoolteacher and unruly students, turn out to be the best of the sequences featuring Vincent interacting with others. But at its best, At Eternity's Gate focuses on van Gogh's interaction with nature and art, which to him were much the same thing.