Peacemaker Joyfully Revels In Violence And Silliness

Peacemaker is the first TV show set in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and streams on HBO Max. It’s also a spinoff of The Suicide Squad and follows the further adventures of the idealogically fanatic superhero Peacemaker/Chris Smith (John Cena), who was rightly left for dead at the end of the film.

After been rescued and hospitalized by the U.S. government group A.R.G.U.S., as seen in the post-credis scene of The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker is recruited by that group’s black ops team to fight alien creatures who inhabit host human bodies and are called Butterflies because of the way the aliens appear.

The black ops team is made up of an eclectic group of goofy or over-the-top violent characters including the deadly and tough A.R.G.U.S. agent Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), John Economos (Steve Agee), an insecure tactical support agent, Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), a new A.R.G.U.S. recruit who becomes good friends with Chris, and their exasperated mercenary leader Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji). An unofficial recruit is Adrian Chase aka the costumed Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), an overeager sociopath who looks up to Peacemaker and fashions himself as Peacemaker’s best friend. But that is actually Peacemaker’s pet bald eagle, Eagly.

As the group carry on their mission to eliminate the Butterflies, they learn a lot about each other and gradually earn each other’s trust, respect and even friendship. The one person who is most affected by the experience is Chris himself who begins to question his extreme jingoistic view of life and even becomes likeable.

In The Suicide Squad, the Peacemaker was a real jerk, a total D-Bag, and when he was supposedly killed off, hardly anyone mourned him unlike the other characters. But the TV show went to great lengths to humanize him and it paid off. Yes, he is still a jerk who is too cocky, but we learn that beneathe that false bravado hides a wound psyche and the emotional center of Peacemaker.

The TV show is written by James Gunn, who also directed most of the episodes. Much of the success of the show is due to the film director who reinvented the Suicide Squad and presented a possible new direction for the DCEU. As always, Gunn demonstrates his twisted filmmaking skills thanks to his well-written characters and fast-moving scripts, which keeps surprising viewers. All the actors are especially good in this show and bring an extra dimension to their characters. Cena was the best surprise with his role because of the way he is able to show different levels to his character.

As is James Gunn’s forte, Peacemaker excels at its level of cheekiness, graphic violence, and its overall raunchy nature. This is certainly not a show for the kids to watch, but DCEU fans will love the jokes, Easter eggs, and stylized action. There are a few cameos by DCEU characters that actually work and add to the show’s enjoyment. Fans of hair and glam metal bands will love the soundtrack which is peppered generously with many songs. The standout song used in Peacemaker is, naturally, Wig Wam’s “Do You Wanna Taste It” and it fits so well with the show’s hysterical dance number in the opening credits.

Be patient with the first episode or two as Peacemaker settles in and establishes the characters and situations. While it and the main character may be off-putting, by the second or third episode, viewers will get wrapped up and engaged with the bizarre and irreverant nature of the show as the characters are actually changed by their adventures.

After dealing with the inane Arrowverse, Peacemaker comes at the right time as the DCEU now thankfully is represented in the TV medium and it can herald a new era for DC-based TV shows.

The Uneven Book Of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett is the latest Star Wars TV show and is streaming on Disney+. It serves as a spinoff of the popular TV show, The Mandalorian, and a sequel of sorts to previous Star Wars films, but in this case focusing on the mysterious bounty hunter, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison).

Boba Fett was supposedly killed by a giant sarlaac in the film Return of the Jedi, but being that he was a fan favorite, he had to come back, as he did in various books and stories. In Star Wars canon, he officially returned in the second season of The Mandalorian and the post-credits scene of that show’s season finale showed Boba Fett taking over the criminal underworld in the planet Tattooine with his partner, the assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen).

The series is in some ways part Western, part gangster drama as flashbacks reveal how the bounty hunter survived from being eaten by the sarlaac and his emotional transformation from a cold-blooded killer to someone who is more empathic and honorable. At the same time, the episodes chronicled his ordeal of being a crime lord and dealing with deadly competitors, namely the Pyke gang – intergalactic spice dealers who want to take over Boba’s turf.

There have been many complaints about The Book of Boba Fett, many of them are valid, but overall, the series is fine. It’s just that it should have been better and could have been if it had a better narrative flow and its scripts were more fine tuned. This is surprising considering the episodes are written by Jon Favreau (he shared a co-writing byline with Dave Filoni in the sixth episode), who was the mastermind behind The Mandalorian. What gives? Interference from the top execs at Disney? Maybe one day, we’ll learn the full story behind the scenes.

The narrrative flow of the series was quite jarring at times and also infuriating. The best example of this are with the fifth and sixth episodes. For some reason, the show stopped being about Boba Fett and became a mini-season for The Mandalorian as the story abruptly shifts to Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and we see what he and Grogu have been up to since the second season of their show ended. Boba Fett only appears once in the sixth episode in what is basically a cameo, while he is completely absent in the fifth episode. It did not make sense to do this, especially being that The Book of Boba Fett only has seven episodes. At least, these two episodes were well done.

The impression we are given is that the showrunners or Disney did not like where the main story was going or ran out of ideas and panicked by going back to what excited viewers. This was not fair to Boba Fett’s story and associated characters. Those two episodes could have been used to further develop these characters. We could have learned more about Boba and is time before The Empire Strikes Back. They should have shown more of how he was before his spiritual transformation so that his metamorphosis would have more impact. Maybe they wanted to perserve some of his mystery. Who knows?

Fennec’s back story could have been explored, or Boba’s old rival, Cad Bane (voiced by Corey Burton) could have appeared sooner and being more directly tied to the tragedy that Boba underwent during his recovery. Or even the minor characters of Tatooine could have been fleshed out more. Even the dumb cyborg biker gang, who were poorly conceived and executed.

There are many plot holes that are undeniably irritating and make the characters look stupid. Here’s an example, in the final episode during the big showdown with the Pyke gang, why didn’t Boba or Din get into their spaceships and just lay waste to the criminals as they attacked the town of Mos Espa? Boba Fett kept bragging about how much money he had and could afford to hire extra muscle, yet his army only consisted of the silly biker gang, two Gamorrean pig guards, Din and Fennec, and later some townspeople from nearby Freetown. Did Boba Fett actually expect to defeat an entire army of Pykes and their allies with what he had? Also, it would have made more sense and been more satisfying if the townspeople that helped him where actually residents of Mos Espa. You know, seeing that Boba is fighting for their town, the people could have decided to help him. Why did he hire the biker gang when he first met them? Nothing they did gave the impression they were qualified to be formidable fighters. Then in one flashback scene, Boba takes his spaceship and has it hover directly over the mouth of the sarlaac to look for his armor. Guess what happens? The tentacled monster attacked his ship and nearly killed him. Wouldn’t that ship have sensors to scan the animal from afar? Maybe his time fermenting in the sarlaac’s stomach damaged his brain more than we know.

This does not mean The Book of Boba Fett is a bad TV show. There are so many great things about it. Take Temuera Morrison, who delivers a fine performance as the grizzled former bounty hunter trying to find a purpose in his life. Boba’s spiritual journey when he is first a captive then a valued member of the Tusken Raiders was inspiring as he built relationships with the clan and we learned more about their culture. That is why it was so devastating when later in the flashbacks Boba finds his adopted clan massacred.

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Twilight Of The Arrowverse

The Flash, the flagship TV show of the Arrowverse, has been renewed for a ninth season. “YAWN”

Legends of Tomorrow might be renewed for an eighth season, but being the TV show airs on The CW, its renewal is likely. No surprise, if it is renewed.

Batwoman…er, is this thing still on?

To be serious, the Arrowverse has seen better days. That was back when Arrow was in its early seasons and The Flash was considered one of the best superhero TV shows. But now, the interconnected TV shows based on DC superheroes are considered outdated, some of them have had problematic productions and there is little excitement over them.

Yes, Superman & Lois is a great superhero TV show and is part of the Arrowverse, but even that show seems embarassed to be associated with the Arrowverse. Nearly all of its episodes do not have any references to the larger Arrowverse. One notable episode that guest-starred the Arrowverse mainstay, John Diggle (David Ramsey), only annoyed fans of Superman & Lois because the show is very well done with superior writing, acting and special effects.

These Arrowverse TV shows are masterminded by Greg Berlanti. He is also behind better received, non-Arrowverse shows like Titans, Stargirl and Doom Patrol, so he can produce quality TV shows and the early days of the Arrowverse confirm this. However, the proper Arrowverse is creatively running on fumes and, aside from Superman & Lois, need to be put out to pasture. At least Arrow quit while it was more or less ahead in its seventh season when its star Stephen Amell decided to leave the show. Even at that point, Arrow had seen a decline in quality, although its final season was generally well done.

The issue of TV shows that go on for too long is a common one with most TV shows on The CW, which is now up for sale by its owners WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS. If and when the sale goes through and, particularly if WarnerMedia is spunoff by its owners AT&T, the future of the Arrowverse is dim.

So, we could be looking at the twilight of the Arrowverse.

This will generate collective yawns from most viewers and fans who have moved on from the Arrowverse. It is a shame because at one point, the Arrowverse TV shows were some of the best and most engaging superhero fare on TV. Honestly, when Arrow debuted on October 12, 2012 and spawned other TV shows, it was an exciting time since they were the only game in town. During that time, as Marvel Entertainment dominated the box office, DC ruled the airwaves. But eventually the competition caught up and surpassed the Arrowverse. Not just Marvel, but even DC, as edgier and better produced shows like Doom Patrol, and now Peacemaker, captured our attention.

The problem with the Arrowverse is that they are quickly churned out, have limited budgets and it shows. Most of the shows feel the same. They usually have the main character/superhero who has some back up team providing support, which is odd since the comic book counterparts operated by themselves or with little support. This team consists of some annoying computer or tech nerd who talks too much, a grounded, more mature, mentor, the love interest who has nothing to do and winds up becoming an integral part of the team for no reason, and a young protege superhero who tries to follow in the hero’s footsteps. The villains are hit or miss and often badly overacted. When the villain does connect that foe then becomes overused by the shows’ tired writers.

Also, the average Arrowverse show dwells too much on vapid romantic sub plots that are good sleep tonics for anyone who is not a lovesick teenager. Being that the shows on The CW are geared towards younger viewers, this helps explain the worn out formula and emphasis on romance with the Arrowverse TV shows.

Another flaw is that the Arrowverse shows have too many episodes per season, which betrays its outdated model. Try to name a show currently airing or streaming with over 20 episodes in a season. Good luck with that. The point is that by churning out so many shows in a limited time period it is difficult to produce quality episodes. This amounts to lots of filler episodes that can be skipped. What’s worse is that the main story arc for a season meanders on and is unfocused.

With all these flaws it is hard to deny the Arrowverse has outlived its shelf life. The Arrowverse is clearly in a twilight phase of its existence and it’s sad to observe. The Arrowverse helped set the mode for a modern, interrelated TV universe where characters would casually appear in any given show. This TV universe deserves to be commended for its contribution to the geeky arts even as it is in its final moments.

Getting Over Recasting Gripes

Recasting roles for films and TV shows has gone on ever since the first roll of film was developed over a century ago. This included many iconic characters like James Bond, Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes. This is a normal thing and widely accepted among filmgoers and TV viewers, but lately there has been so much griping over the recasting and potential recasting of several superhero roles in upcoming films and TV shows. This especially goes for Superman, Batman, and the Black Panther, but there is no need to fret over this.

The most obvious reason for the uneasiness is that many fans are devoted to a certain interpretation and portrayal of the character and cannot move on after an actor leaves that role. They behave like it is the endo of the world and focus on the negative.

It’s funny but most of these fans have very short memories. For example, there is the current issue with Henry Cavill being replaced as Superman in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films. Before Cavill was cast, Brandon Routh played the role in Superman Returns and many fans complained about Routh not being allowed to continue the role for Man of Steel and wondered why was he replaced by Cavill. Now, given the mess the DCEU is in, and the clear disdain Warner Bros. has for the current version of Superman and the director that cast the role and set the tone for the DECU (Zack Snyder), it is a certainty that Henry Cavill will be replaced. In TV, Superman is currently played by Tyler Hoechlin in Superman & Lois, and he is receiving wide acclaim for his portrayal of the Man of Steel. So, fans have to face facts, Henry Cavill is not the only person who is allowed to play Superman. There are many capable characters who could pull it off as Hoechlin is now showing and this has gone on for decades. Many thought it was impossible to recast Superman after Christopher Reeve’s iconic performance in his films, yet it was done. To be blunt it had to be done given that Reeve passed away years ago.

Then there is the casting of Batman in the upcoming films, The Batman and The Flash. Originally, the character was played in the DCEU by Ben Affleck, but before that the Caped Crusader was portrayed by Christian Bale and before that by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. In another case of short memories, Bale was considered the best actor to play Batman and when Affleck’s casting was announced for the next Batman film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it was widely panned. But guess what? Affleck shocked many people with how good he was in the role. Many now claim that at least in that film, Ben Aflleck gave the best interpretation of the superhero.

Sadly, one calamity after another hobbled the DCEU, which is now rumored to be rebooted in The Flash and will likely remove Cavill and Affleck. But, Batman has been played numerous times by different actors who added their own unique interpretations to the brooding superhero which can be enjoyed in different ways. In a few weeks, we’ll see the latest take of the Dark Knight as Robert Pattinson has his turn in The Batman.

In similar situation, the role of Black Panther/T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) might have to be recast in the future and this is creating controversy. The originator of the role, Chadwick Boseman, passed away and Marvel Studios hastily announced that the role would not be recast in honor of Boseman. While this decision is commendable, it put Marvel Studios in a bind. Given the mammoth success of Black Panther, a sequel was inevitable and one is underway, but without the character. The details are under wraps but supposedly another character will assume the title of the Black Panther. This is a sound plot choice but needless. The role of T’Challa could have easily been recast and there plenty of actors who could pull it off. It has happened in the MCU when Mark Ruffalo took over for Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/the Hulk and Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard as James Rhodes/War Machine. The MCU did not collapse, people adjusted to the changes and everything went well. So, why not just recast T’Challa? On top of that, the sequel film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is going through a production hell with countless halts and difficulties. The film studio probably regrets not recasting the role and continuing T’Challa’s adventures.

Spider-Man fans also underwent their own bout of negativity when the role was recast twice after Tobey Maguire left the role. At first many complained about Andrew Garfield as the replacement Spider-Man/Peter Parker. He was too Emo, too broody, too much of a wiseguy. Still, he won over many fans who lamented him being replaced by Tom Holland when Spider-Man joined the MCU; and people fell in love with Holland’s version of Spider-Man. Yet, Andrew Garfield earned his redemption in his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home. After people could easily compare the three actors together, a consensus is emerging that Garfield is the best Spider-Man, which is fueling talk of him returning to the role.

This development gets to the heart of the gripe. With the other actors mentioned, they never got to do their farewell performance or do a proper goodbye. This gave the impression of lost opportunity and wondering if these actors had more time or a better film then their time doing the role would have been viewed as being more successful. That may be but at least they left a positive impression and a film legacy that can be repeatedly enjoyed.

Farewell To The Expanse

After six seasons, The Expanse ended its television run when its last episode “Babylon’s Ashes” streamed on Amazon Prime Video this week.

The sixth and final season of The Expanse was the culmination of the long-running storyline of the tensions among human societies in the solar system. Based on the novels by James. S.A. Corey (the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), The Expanse takes place in a future where humans have an uneasy existence throughout our solar system. Earth and Mars are locked in a cold war with each other, while at the colonies in the outer planets, people, called “Belters”, live under harsh and meager conditions. They detest the “Inners” for their lush lifestyle and strive to be recognized as a legitimate power. During the TV series an alien substance called the protomolecule was discovered. It was able to alter both organic and inorganic matter and eventually formed a gigantic Ring structure near Uranus that functioned as an intergalactic gateway to other solar systems. The latter seasons dealt with the ramifications of this event as humanity began spreading to other worlds.

In the fifth season, a Belter terrorist named Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) rose to power in the colonies and decimated Earth by bombarding it with multiple asteroids. Meanwhile, he joined forces with rogue Martian factions to form the Free Navy and seized control of the Ring and the gateway to other star systems. By the start of the sixth season, Earth was on the verge of becoming uninhabitable from the fallout of the asteroid impacts. In the final season Earth and Mars allied with each other to hunt down Inaros regain access to the Ring and negotiate a peace with the Belters.

The Expanse

The show centered on the crew of the Rocinante, James Holden (Steven Strait) of Earth, Naomi Nagato (Dominique Tipper), a Belter who bore a son with Inaros, Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), a tough mechanic from Earth, and Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole), a former criminal struggling to find some measure of redemption. Together they joined the fight against Inarus and his followers. Other characters include Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams), a battle-hardened Martian marine allied with the Rocinante crew, United Nations Secretary-General Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), a caustic and practical leader who wants nothing more than to save Earth and end the war, Naomi and Inaros’ son Filip (Jasai Chase-Owens), who joined his father in the struggle but started questioning his father’s fanatic ideaology, and Camina Drummer (Cara Gee), a Belter pirate who rebeled against Inaros and the Free Navy.

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