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And now our watch has really ended
You know, for what an absolute mess season eight of Game of Thrones was, nobody can deny that a lot of preparation, money and energy went into. Entire city sections were built, thousands of props sculpted and painted and plenty of other intricacies like ash and snow had to be manually added. If you followed the "The Game Revealed" short BTS films that accompanied this season of GoT, you may find "The Last Watch" a little less fast-paced and well-produced, but for what it's worth, its a pretty satisfying documentary that examines some pretty neat areas of the show that few people would consider.
The main problem with it is that the camera chooses to linger on crew members a little too long, while not giving nearly enough insight into a given field of investigation. In some cases, these accounts are interesting and even eye-opening, because you get a personal side to this massive blockbuster production that grounds it. Other times, it may be a bit of a slog. In terms of editing, it isn't much of a masterpiece either, choosing to cut off at odd moments to transition to an all-new location.
When the doc decides to show us some never before seen snippets of footage from behind the camera and some directorial insight from David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik does it flourish. In fact, we follow a Stark soldier extra, some producers, makeup artists and even the snow SFX manager. It may seem random, but that's a good thing. It's personal, down to earth. It's easy to interpret the show as it is, a TV titan that is anything but fantasy.
Of course, the stars of the show also get the spotlight occasionally, but this isn't really about them. It's about everyone behind them. Most of them anyways, who made this journey possible.
If anything, "The Last Watch" makes me just a little more disappointed in the show for ending on a such a sour final stretch. Because so much work evidently went into it. So much dedication and time. So many logistics had to be juggled and yet the plot faltered because of poor pacing an awful writing. It's a little sad even if you think about it. As a documentary, it's imperfect, but as an experience, it's an extended glimpse into the world of filmmaking that we rarely get. It has the final say, if you will. Game of Thrones is over. There won't be any more like it. That is because it had such an awesome production team behind it .
Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne (2019)
The End of an Era (Short review)
Game of Thrones reaches its conclusion in what could have been a finale for the ages. While the cast remained in top-form and the cinematography was on-point, the payoffs to years of intricate storytelling just weren't there and came in the most unpredictably disappointing and irrational forms, ending a great series on a thoroughly dissatisfying note. (At least a certain critter got the love he so craved right?)
Arrow: You Have Saved This City (2019)
The legacy of Oliver Queen
Reflecting back on season seven of Arrow, I can see that there were a lot of themes going for it. Redemption, family and heroism all stood high as threads for the writers to explore. In a way, they never got around to fully committing to either, which raised some questions entering the finale as to how it can all connect. While there were still inconsistencies of note, "You Have Saved This City" was a beautiful way to end a lot of other unfinished storylines.
Perhaps this episode's biggest flaw was not being subtle enough with its script. Too often did I find that exposition and setup was being done to connect past and present. Sea Shimooka's Emiko Queen was also a waisted opportunity, as was the Ninth Circle. That's not to say that it didn't work in other places though as I will point out later.
Because an Arrow finale screams for action scenes, it was fitting for fight scene master and veteran director James Bamford take the reigns. You always know when a Bamford fight scene kicks in. It's fast, brutal, creative with the camerawork and is done to a killer score. Ever since his debut in season four, he has been a prominent creative force that I think should garner more appreciation.
Oddly enough, it wasn't the action in 2040 Star City or the present day that sold me on this finale. It was the interactions between characters during the restful moments that truly elevated it. The way the episode was written clearly showed that several storylines are to be concluded in a couple of months. Maybe a few of them were a little too ominous, but time will tell.
Now comes the part that really get's you. You could argue that the final 10-15 minute-stretch is a little rushed and I will not defend that. What I will stick out for is the sheer amount of emotion conveyed throughout those moments. Arrow introduced two big cliffhangers, one tragic and one more bittersweet.
The somber conversation between Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) brought me to tears. Never in the show's seven year history has that happened. It was natural, superbly written and reflected the long, bloody journey they have made together. It was a tragic ordeal that hurt. I may not remember this finale for everything that came before this moment, but I certainly will for that dialogue.
"You Have Saved This City" had big action scenes to drive home that finale feel, but ultimately, it was Oliver and Felicity that brought a tearful ending to a good year of Arrow. This was an important finale that was imperfect in some areas, but balanced those flaws out with one hell of an ending.
Game of Thrones: The Bells (2019)
Not even the bells...
Like the bells of King's Landing had the ability to save thousands, the penultimate chapter of Game of Thrones' final run had the potential to redeem what little goodwill the season had left. "The Bells" went big, extremely brutal and chaotic, featuring some stellar visuals, but overall, was once again subject to the anti-climactic, logically flawed and ultimately dissatisfying narrative choices that have plagued this entire year.
The Punisher: The Whirlwind (2019)
Farewell (Short review)
Emotionally charged and grisly in equal measure, "The Whirlwind" had the right amount of action, but its real punch came from a tear-jerking farewell and a final 30-second sequence that will leave fans cheering.
The Punisher: Trouble the Water (2019)
In the dark (Short review)
The slow-building atmosphere of "Trouble the Water" was elevated by an insightful backstory for John Pilgrim and an intense shootout laced with style and brutality.
The Punisher: Fight or Flight (2019)
Broken pieces (Short review)
Hindered by the introduction of an underwhelming character and some progression loss, "Fight or Flight" dialled it down to focus on some otherwise compelling drama.
The Punisher: Roadhouse Blues (2019)
Hit the Road (Short review)
"Roadhouse Blues" coupled yet another haunting, intense Jon Bernthal performance to further a steady-building story, culminating in two of the show's most impressive action sequences and plenty of forward momentum.
Arrow: Living Proof (2019)
Well, here we are. Penultimate episode. As contained as "Living Proof" seemed to be at first glance, I do believe that it defied a lot of expectations and pushed season seven into a convincing final showdown.
Perhaps its biggest selling point was the return of beloved character Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell). Donnell has been a constant reminder to both us and Oliver (Stephen Amell) of who the Emerald Archer used to be and what tragedy that constituted back in the early days. Tommy was both a cautionary voice and charming friend here and delivered an emotional speech to Oliver that resonated with authenticity. In a sense, he managed to touch upon Oliver's feelings and convinced him that a violent outcome for the conflict at hand should be avoided if possible. Thanks to Donnell's charisma, some light comedy was also inter-woven into the script, which elevate an otherwise pretty bleak episode.
Team Arrow was also tested, but nothing truly meaningful happened on their front, aside from Roy (Colton Haynes) and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) resolving past misconceptions. I didn't fully understand why the writers thought bating Roy's death was a good idea, he was clearly still destined to live on in the future.
That brings me to the weaker element of "Living Proof". The flash-forwards worked when they focused on the looming Galaxy One threat. When it came to engage it however, the compelling family drama surrounding William (Ben Lewis) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) was all but lost. Granted, the endgame in 2040 Star City seems epic in equal measure, but the setup was slow and a little cheesy. On the topic of Felicity, I still felt as if her "legacy" talks were a little too on the nose.
In terms of action, it took it's time to build. Cinematographer Gordon Verheul found some great moments to show his keen eye for a great shot, but the action overall left me satisfied, if a tiny bit underwhelmed given how amazing last episode's were. Usually, Arrow tracks its choreography to a music beat or makes it flow more assuredly. This time, I felt as if I was on the edge of my seat for the sole reason of worrying that the choreography would slip up. Nevertheless, it was pretty well done and I appreciated a lot of what they were able to accomplish with the fights. There was also a pretty decent twist towards the end.
Arrow is in good form this year to end its seventh outing. I do feel as if there has been some waisted potential here and there and some odd choices, but overall it's been a good season. "Living Proof" sets up what looks to be a killer finale and brought a familiar face back to delightful effect.
Aftermath (Short review)
Game of Thrones tries to crawl back from the dead in "The Last of the Starks", briefly honouring the fallen of Winterfell and focusing on some awkward relationship developments before proceeding to quickly jam all the the pieces into one place for another huge engagement at King's Landing.
Game of Thrones: Winterfell (2019)
Come one, come all (Short review)
Methodical, yet necessary, "Winterfell" lays reasonably solid ground for its many characters going into the final stretch, relying solely on writing, light humour and reunions to fuel a bloodless affair.
Tales around the Campfire (Short review)
Before the horde of the Dead hits Winterfell hard, "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" offers clarity and relief to several characters, offering well-written dialogue and comedy to its assembled heroes and mostly offsetting a questionable narrative choice that will leave some viewers scratching their heads and heading to Google for information.
Game of Thrones: The Long Night (2019)
The Dead are Here (Short review)
"The Long Night" has splashes of brilliance, namely Ramin Djawadi's soundtrack and a handful of handsomely photographed scenes, but the would-be epic Game of Thrones battle is also filled with logical flaws, poor editing and infuriating storytelling choices that subvert expectations in the worst of ways.
Arrow: Star City Slayer (2019)
The Slayer is here!
Whether you thought Brendan Fletcher was annoying or off-putting in Slabside early on in the season, after seeing "Star City Slayer", I'm sure all of us can agree on the former. The Slayer wasn't just one of Arrow's best one-off bad guys, but maybe one of the better Arrowverse villains of the week.
A huge part of this episode's success came from Fletcher's performance. It was a whole other league of disturbing, crazed and obsessed. His interactions with the Queen family during the climax was a season highlight.
This also marked Arrow's first time really tackling a horror-style episode, which it did decently enough. It certainly had the atmosphere, but the trailers gave away Dinah's (Juliana Harkavy) ordeal with Stanley, which I was kind of disappointed by. Nevertheless, a little more blood helped further the seriousness of the episode.
By and large, the narrative was placed firmly on Fletcher's maniacal raves and rants to carry it through. Aside from a major player leaving the show and one big flash-forward reveal, it was all drama and little action. The final bunker fight in the post-apocalyptic Star City didn't really impress me.
From what I wrote above, it is evident that with all the slaying going on, Arrow managed to further itself while focusing on a new bad guy from Oliver's (Stephen Amell) not-so-distant past. "Star City Slayer" broke the curse of lame one-off bad guys and delivers on its premise accordingly, despite a little inconsistency.
Arrow: Confessions (2019)
Arrow always finds ways to surprise, especially this season. Now that all the players are gathered and the plots are converging, I thought it unlikely that the show would take a storytelling risk this late into the game, let alone the final 3-episode stretch. "Confessions" does right by a familiar formula for crime stories, while effectively pushing forth the Ninth Circle conflict.
Bringing Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) into the fold was a success, unlike last year. Fully suited up as Arsenal, Roy wasn't just able to fuel the plot with his presence, but harboured a dark secret that only came out once the tension was through the roof. The writing was probably the strongest of any episode this season, tightly closing in on the truth behind a brutal murder in the subways with well-told alibis all-around from Team Arrow. Stephen Amell in particular was in fine-form as he dealt with Roy's return and the escalating threat of his sister, Emiko (Sea Shimooka).
As the finale looms, Shimooka has finally found her flow as Emiko. The anger and drama was finally channelled to full-effect, highlighting why she hates Oliver and why she wants him discredited for all he has done.
I usually include a note for the directors, and I feel inclined to do so yet again. Tara Miele proved she could do a pretty decent James Bamford copy last year in "The Ties That Bind", season six's penultimate chapter which I actually quite enjoyed. It seemed as if she had eased into her own style this year (maybe a little too many lens flares, but the colour grading on the scenes helped to follow the story). This episode was packed with impressive, smooth fights. Roy Harper's acrobatic falls and flips merged perfectly with Oliver's brutal, pin-point accurate fight moves. The camera followed steadily and I appreciated the stylistic choices all-around.
"Confessions" is a tense episode, that, aside from delivering on its premise, further heats things up for the final battle ahead. Couple that with the return of Roy Harper and director Tare Miele's style and you have an Arrow episode that hit the bullseye.
Spartan, Stewart and the Ninth Circle
Things heated up in Star City a lot more than expected. "Spartan" juggled a lot, yet managed to deliver on pretty much every front it wanted to, even in the most unlikely of areas.
For starters, Ernie Hudson made his great debut as General Stewart (fans must have noted the Green Lantern connection). What could have been a one-dimensional authority figure from the get-go, Hudson turned him into a complex, caring father to Diggle (David Ramsey). It was honestly a nice touch to add some dramatic depth to John, seeing as how closed he was about his family and past for so many years. It made sense and the writing backed up the father-son duo very well with a compelling conflict and a touching resolution.
What is admirable about this episode is how quickly it accelerated the plot. The Ninth Circle were prominently featured as pretty imposing foes (although I would question their recruitment process, some of their blank-masked assassins are clearly more competent than those who just walk straight into Diggle's crosshairs) and Dante (Adrian Paul) made yet another strong case for himself while he interrogated Stewart and John. Moreover, Emiko (Sea Shimooka) had her best episode yet. I've never been on board with Emiko being a full-fledged baddie, but I'm starting to ease into it. The final, shocking twist also hints at a more focused angle for the villainess going forward.
The flash-forwards were also well-done, hinting at a darker threat emerging due to Felicity's (Emily Bett Rickards) present-day Archer program. I will say, Felicity's exit is not being handled in a subtle manner and her constantly talking about her "legacy" was kind of on the nose. That ties in with the flash-forwards, where the dialogue is still steeped in melodrama. However, things are looking up there too, as we now have the Deathstroke clan in the mix.
I've recently started posting my opinions on certain directors, as season seven has ushered in quite a few newcomers. Avi Youabian definitely made a case for himself and clearly wasn't afraid to go big and brutal with the action. The opening Chinatown fight scene was beautiful and the final showdown between Emiko and Oliver (Stephen Amell) was absolutely brilliant. I would like to see him do more work in the future if all his episodes will be this well-shot.
"Spartan" accomplished a lot. It paved the way for the final stretch of the season, had fantastic action set pieces, further set up its villain and expanded on the Ninth Circle and provided a compelling arc for a series regular. What more could we ask for?
Arrow: Lost Canary (2019)
Birds of a feather...
We are rapidly approaching the climax of season seven and once again, I was skeptical about an episode. Why risk losing the impressive momentum of The Ninth Circle invasion to a Black Siren-centric Birds of Prey chapter? It seemed as if "Lost Canary" was going to be a sizeable misstep on several fronts, yet I found myself genuinely enjoying it. There I said it. I loved seeing the Canaries in action. Despite some expected cheese and inconsistencies, it's an episode I will at least remember for being so unique and energetic. That's a good thing.
As far as the aforementioned cheese went, it's best to get that out of the way first. While this was, dare I say, one of Arrow's better written episodes, Shadow Thief (Carmel Amit) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy-Rodgers) didn't exactly have great chemistry or strong lines to reinforce their interactions. Shadow Thief's whole design (cool knives aside) was kind of lame and her character didn't leave too big of an impression. She served her part as a vehicle to send Laurel to the dark side and back to the light. Come to think of it, Laurel's quick-switch between being good and bad felt rushed, but ultimately understandable given the conditions she was put in and the length of the episode. Moreover, her final appearance in a particularly well-done flash-forward storyline solidifies her as a hero, which is fitting.
Sara (Caity Lotz) finally making her comeback was a fine moment indeed. Her interactions with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) were well-written, nostalgia-filled discussions. Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) was also in top-form, as the trio made the most of their time together, eventually being joined by a redeemed Laurel. It was just odd, but fun seeing the heroines together, trying to bring a friend back and engaging in some fisticuffs along the way. Director Kristin Windell won me over last year with her superb, well-shot fight scenes in "Doppleganger" and her stylistic, brutal approach to action scenes was evident this time around. From the opening hallway brawl that used creative camera jerks and the final storage house raid, there were plenty of superb fights to enjoy.
I was surprised that Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Diggle (David Ramsey) had any time at all. Meeting a familiar foe from earlier this season may have seemed tedious, but it did advance the Dante-front a lot better than it should have.
I have to say, I was pleasantly disappointed by "Lost Canary". It delivered in the most unlikely of places. It's villain of the week faltered, but hey, the action, the team-up and the flash-forwards fell into place.
Arrow: Training Day (2019)
It was always a given that a season of Arrow would suffer the occasional bummer of an episode. A logical flaw, a storytelling inconsistency, a bad character moment or underwhelming direction. A lot of those issues were present in "Training Day", though this chapter was probably more frustratingly mediocre than awful.
As strong of a decision it was to deputise vigilantes on the show's part, the writers clearly missed the mark on that front. The vigilantes are there, with their own gear and tactics to reinforce the SCPD, not to merge with them completely. The fact that Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Renee (Rick Gonzalez) actually have to spell that out to the cops is even more infuriating. Dinah's (Juliana Harkavy) decision to let the de-powering persists connects fine with her character, but even she didn't fully realise the faults in the police plans until it was too late. Her "de-canarifying" moment during a poorly calculated assault was a standout moment.
Team Arrow and the joint police force also encountered a fairly average bad guy in James Midas (Andrew Kavadas). A generic, evil businessman with some chemical related weapon. Furthermore, each episode of Arrow has at least one or two standout action scenes. First-time director Rubba Nadda was either handed a lame script or was reluctant to experiment with her fight scenes as most of them came off as pretty standard.
The saving grace of this episode were the flash-forwards kicking into gear, finally pushing Mia (Katherine McNamara) and William (Ben Lewis) into exciting territories, unraveling newer mysteries in a bleak Star City. Moreover, Laurel (Katie Cassidy-Rodgers) managed to salvage her sub-plot with a few well-written lines with Ben Turner (Michael Jai White) at Slabside.
"Training Day" balanced out its lesser elements, namely an illogical plot, bland villain and uninteresting fight sequences with enough quality drama and flash-forward progression to make it count, but this episode was really bordering on being pretty darn bad.
The Dirt (2019)
Sex, Drugs and Rock N' Roll
To be completely honest, I have never heard one Mötley Crüe song or followed their apparently controversial tours. Understandably, heading into Netflix's latest biopic about an unknown band to me was tough, but I so wanted to like this film because of the significance it had. Having said that, I can only critique this feature from a filmmaking standpoint. "The Dirt" shocked, disgusted, touched and entertained me during its bumpy ride. It was as wild and out of control as the band it brought to life.
Let's start with what I liked. The cast was absolutely astounding. Douglas Booth, Machine Gun Kelly, Daniel Webber and Iwan Rheon all turned in excellent performances as the respective members of Mötley Crüe. The best part was that I got to know each member just enough, without the film ever choosing to focus on one singular member. Sure, Nikki Sixx's story arc was the dominant one in the end, but the proper care was given to each and every character for me to care. The supporting cast may have failed to make a lasting impression, but I appreciated David Costabile tackling such a limited role as band manager. He left a good mark here. Perhaps the best moment that almost brought me to tears was Daniel Webber's Vince Neil sharing a brief conversation with his daughter in the hospital. I won't forget that scene.
The music was great too, having heard all these songs for the first time, I will definitely be checking them out in the future. For the few times the movie showed the band performing for more than two minutes, the flashy colours and roaring audience added decent atmosphere. Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly) also had a memorable drug and alcohol infused trip through a typical touring day of his. The camera movements and cinematography stood out, adding another fun scene to the overall experience.
The story to me felt like an insane juggling act. The odd fourth-wall breaking moments didn't really go anywhere, I found those out of place at times. The narrative skipped and skimmed a time too often, cutting out key moments and choosing to focus heavily on sex and drugs. I realise that is what made the band infamous and some extremely mature content is necessary to accurately convey a situation, but when it's obvious that a grotesque scene is only there for shock value and not to imply something a little more meaningful, it's just plain distasteful. The film thankfully chooses to go a tad more personal in its last half hour, wisely shaking off all that unnecessarily crude content. That's not to say that there aren't any funny moments, the jokes land pretty well despite all the distasteful material.
"The Dirt", if it would have focused just a little more on a cohesive story and less shock-value gross-out moments, could have been genuinely great. It was a bumpy ride, yet the performances stuck with me and the experience was definitely there. The unforgiving, sad, zany ride that was this movie is worth a watch though.
Arrow: Brothers & Sisters (2019)
If there is one running trend with Arrow, is that it loves to frequently misdirect with trailer and episode titles. Never has that been more the case than with "Brothers & Sisters", a strong addition to season seven that gets quite a bit done for the season moving forward.
By misdirection, I'm referring to the fact that this episode didn't exactly do Emiko (Shea Simooka) and Oliver (Stephen Amell) any favours in terms of advancing their relationship as brother and sister. Yeah, the other pairing of William (Ben Lewis) and Mia (Katherine McNamara) worked out okay, I still didn't really as if any progression was made in terms of the Queen siblings.
The real spotlight was on Diggle (David Ramsey) and Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) tackling Dante (Adrian Paul). The limited ventures into a criminal underworld worked nicely, but the introduction of the man himself more than payed off in the end. Diaz hasn't exactly been in top form throughout this season and while I love the actor's portrayal and the character itself, it seemed as if the writers have exhausted all possibilities with the Dragon. The whole Suicide Squad 2 was only there to keep things a little fresher and to the narrative's credit, it managed to offer a few good moments for the team. Thankfully, with all that seemingly being swept aside, Dante seemed more than up to the task of taking the crime lord's place, besting Ollie in a short-lived, yet impressive brawl towards the end of the episode. Dante's suave, calculated attitude was evident, smoothly deflecting Ollie's arrows and tackling him. That and the fancy Assassin's Creed dive off the building just topped the whole thing off.
Really, everything kicked into gear at the very last minute. The episode took things a lot slower than it usually does early on, yet it kicked off a slew of exciting new plots in its closing minutes. If we ignore the underwhelming Emiko storyline, "Brothers & Sisters" is an action-packed, streamlined (if a little slow) episode of Arrow that paves the way for a promising new conflict.
Arrow: Inheritance (2019)
Invasion of the Ninth Circle
It would seem as if the question of how long Arrow will drag out its season seven endgame has been answered mostly by "Inheritance", an eventful chapter enveloped in family drama. The show still couldn't shed all its minor issues (things have been slightly inconsistent since Elseworlds), but I'll take major plot and character developments any day.
In terms of pushing a compelling conflict into the spotlight, this episode succeeded extremely well. The reveal about Emiko's (Shea Simooka) true nature and her surprising cooperation with Dante (Adrian Paul) adds a new layer to the villain scene. Given there are only five episodes left though, I hope the writers make room for both characters to grow as bad guys, rather than let them meander with seemingly tedious activities. I was half-expecting a Dante vs Team Arrow showdown where he knocks all of them out, sadly that never came.
On the flip side, the show did execute a handful of cool fight sequences. Emiko vs. Oliver (Stephen Amell) in the bunker was a stylishly shot encounter charged with martial arts flourish and emotion, while the warehouse raid also succeeded as being a visceral treat.
The writing was also particularly strong at many points, feeling a tad more natural than it usually does, despite the whole narrative kicking into action slowly. However, Laurel's (Katie Cassidy Rodgers) story seems to be a little off. Her sudden rift into anger made little sense and while exploring her dark side is necessary due to the upcoming Birds of Prey themed episode, I feel as if that plot and hers currently, halted the momentum of the main conflict at hand. We finally have the Ninth Circle in their blank-masked glory, so why not delve deeper into that. It's actually kind of exciting seeing this terrorist group being introduced. It's a type of force Team Arrow hasn't really faced and their presence could turn things around quickly.
As for Emiko, I'm a little unsure if her character can 100% succeed as a baddie. Her flashbacks were neat and all (minus a few unnecessary details that I won't spoil), but I would much rather see Dante causing problems in Star City more than anything. Having Jamey Sheridan back was a treat though and his portrayal of Robert Queen and his neglectful treatment of his daughter hit hard and helped flesh out a new side of her character aside from the angry, brooding sister of Oliver.
"Inheritance" is a great episode of Arrow. It set up a compelling new conflict that while leaves much to be fleshed out in the coming episodes, seems to be a winner. Laurel's storyline was bungled and the future seems unclear on how the Ninth Circle will be able to leave their mark with all the drama tossed in, but time will tell.
Arrow: Star City 2040 (2019)
The future looks fine
As great of an addition the flash-forwards proved to be in the early chapters of season seven, they've lost a good deal of momentum and meaningfulness gradually. The bloated cast, cheesy melodrama and mundane plots bogged down this new storyline. "Star City 2040" brings out the best in the flash-forwards, though it still had notable flaws holding it back. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Mia (Katherine McNamara) undoubtedly stole the episode with their chemistry and heartfelt moments both in the beginning and the end of the episode. Ben Lewis's William has also been the main driving force of the plot thread and that persisted here too. The episode focused a little too much on minor characters, like the poorly written Connor Hawke (Joseph David-Jones) or the lazy acting of Andrea Sixtos as Zoe Ramirez. Roy (Colton Haynes) and Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) are getting less and less interesting, yet they could bring so much to the table. It is clear moving forward that the flash-forwards are at their best focusing on two-three characters at the same time and should probably divert attention from the more poorly received ones. Or at the very least, improve the writing. Thankfully, even with multiple occasions of cheesy dialogue and a campy villain, director James Bamford managed to assemble this episode with his keen eye for compelling shots and lighting, not to mention a handful of his signature fight scenes. "Star City 2040" wasn't at all perfect, it still proved that the flash-forwards suffer from a character too many and some lazy melodrama, yet it managed to keep me engaged with the characters I like and serve up a satisfying story with some great action.
Titans: Dick Grayson (2018)
The Hunt for the Big Bad Bat
Titans is a tough show to place. It started slow and gradually built up its own gloomy, mature universe of DC icons, perhaps focusing a little too much on expansion rather than streamlined character building. Nevertheless, "Dick Grayson" held promise to cap off a decent season on a great note. The teasers certainly brought forth an intriguing premise for sure. With Batman off the rails and murdering criminals, it was a given that he and Robin (Brenton Thwaites) would be on a collision course. Granted, this was a dream-world created by the season's villain, but I still entertained the idea of an alternate timeline where Dick is happily off, the Titans are living a good lives and Batman has gone mad. And the show failed to pull it all together. My biggest disappointment came with the Caped Crusader himself as a matter of fact. Of course, the budget clearly wasn't big enough to afford a full-blown bat suit, so I expected Batman to be mostly obscure by darkness and camera angles. But while the trailers hinted at some vicious action sequences, I could barely see any of them. There was one, quick, bloody brawl that was so choppy, that it was impossible to see what was going on. The bat cowl's rubbery quality also did not complement the armoured, more Injustice-style bat suit. Batman himself just felt like an unceremonious waste here. Sure, he kills bad guys now, which is a fun concept, but killing cops is pushing his character way over the line. He just isn't Batman anymore once he goes there. I have to give credit to Gotham though. The disgusting, loud, murky streets were created very well indeed. While the plot to get the big bad bat was a rushed affair, I was hoping for a satisfying finish, one that never came. The dreamworld came to annoyingly abrupt conclusion and the real-world situation left off with a cliffhanger that might just be one of the worst I have ever seen. Titans has had a rather uneven first season, and while I enjoyed a lot of it, I had my problems. "Dick Grayson" brought those problems forth. From bad action, a meaningless storyline and a weakly budgeted execution only helped by the atmosphere, this isn't the finale the season deserved. The end credit sequence, however, is amazing and sets up something truly fun for next season.
Supergirl: Elseworlds, Part 3 (2018)
The Crisis is coming...
Elseworlds is one of the strongest succession of Arrowverse episodes to hit The CW in quite some time, with the perfect blend of comic book thrills, comedy and heart. Part 3 unfortunately isn't the perfect conclusion the crossover deserved, but it was fun and strong regardless. The twist of the good guys going bad was short lived, but fun regardless. Evil Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and gangster Cisco (Carlos Valdes) were the undoubted highlights. The super smackdown between the two supermen also put the budget on full display, with insane visual effects and stunt doubles showcasing a truly epic showdown. While Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Alex (Cyler Leigh) had some touching moments together, it was Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) who truly propelled the episode's emotional element. Oliver is getting tired and his speech resonated with a tantalising hint at a heroic, but dark future. I didn't like the fact that all of Supergirl's supporting cast had to be dragged in at the last minute to tackle the already lame AMAZO robot. That felt out of place. Add Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) to the mix and it was a bit of a messy third act. A few speeches also came out a little corny truth be told. The ending was pretty decent though. Lois and Clark's special moments and a very nice tease of what comes next helped a bit. Elseworlds is the most fun I've had in this superverse in months and while the finale was imperfect, it remained strong and heart-felt regardless.
Arrow: Elseworlds, Part 2 (2018)
Welcome to Gotham!
While Part 1 was the setup episode that relied on heavy comedy to do the heavy lifting, Part 2 on Arrow was undoubtedly the novel episode and a high-point for the Arrowverse. From the endless references to Batman lore, to the other outlandish easter eggs and even Ruby Rose's limited, but powerful debut as Batwoman, there was a lot a to love. The story flowed very naturally as an added bonus, allowing time for a little drama between the Arrow stars, Emily Bett Rickards and Stephen Amell, only to quickly cut back to the action. Yes, this was very much stunt coordinator master James Bamford's time to shine and shine he did. From the creative Batwoman stuff and one-take Arkham inmate brawl all the way down to quite possibly one of Arrow's most creatively executed duels of all time, there were thrills aplenty. Special shout-out to the opening brawl between Diggle (David Ramsey) and Deahtstroke Junior (Liam Hall), with the cool tracking shot and reddish aesthetic. While it was unfortunate to see Gotham go, the ending managed to showcase how threatening Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) can really be, along with a very entertaining tease of a new, fractured reality with several goodies sprinkled in. Part 2 of Elseworlds is truly a network high-point and is guaranteed to make comic book fans drool at the sight of its rich world building.