LEGION- TV Review

Alright so this show was originally shown back around Feb/April time but I have only just got to watching all of it in just over one week with my wife. I had read and heard so many good things about this show, seen many funny and quirky gifs and clips. Right back then months ago, I did start to watch the first episode but well…life got right in the way. This happens from time to time.

So with LEGION what have we got? This is a show connected to the X-Men comicbook and film series. Not exactly a real spin-off show, but the characters do come from that same place and in future the show may overlap with the films. This is not just the X-Men you already know for small screen pleasure. No, this show and this main character LEGION/David Haller are both very complex, tricky things to understand right away but enjoyably so.

This is not a superhero comicbook show like the Arrow, Flash, Smallville and others. Legion or David is a very sick and confused young man and also a mutant-but he does not know that part right away. He is diagnosed with schizophrenia and in a mental hospital. We meet him when some unusual men in suits come to question him one day. This does not go well. Soon after David is outside, having escaped with a young woman called Sydney (also a patient inside) and he goes with her to join a secret group who say they can help him with himself and the real truth.

From the very start this is a highly unusual quirky, funny, strange show. If you have been becoming bored or tired with the very familiar mutant heroes of the X-Men world, well here we get a much more troubled and difficult character. David narrates his past early in the show but how much of it is the real truth? How much of it is real memory, fantasy or even thoughts from his other personalities?

So while that does seem very challenging to get to grips with there is steady regular humour through the series. It knows that the premise is bizarre and kooky so it gives us that with a sly wink and knowing style. It often pays homage to films such as 12 Monkeys, Fight Club, One Flow Over the Cuckoos Nest and many others. There are regular often hilarious musical sequences cut between the equally very dark and troubling memories and forces show within David and chasing him.

Like the Deadpool movie, this show offers us something much different to the usual superhero action and buff and beautiful perfection all the way. LEGION can almost be uncomfortable at times, as it focuses on personal psychological trauma and mental states. It is based on a comicbook, but like the recent Netflix Marvel shows it can come across as very real and quite powerful emotionally at times.

Will everyone like this show? Possibly not. Will everyone keep track of it, follow the plot and understand it all the way to the end of the series? I’ll be honest there were two or three times at least where I almost lost track and had to stop and mentally go back a little. This is not a simple action adventure run-of-the-mill show like Legends of Tomorrow or Arrow. At times you have to pay really good attention to where the story is with this crazy gem.

Alright so it doesn’t perhaps work all the way right through the series, but really just about. It could simply be that we’re watching a superhero comicbook tale but the villain is not a totally straight forward regular kind of enemy we see in the Marvel or DC movies. David is not exactly a simple nice or likable hero character and so far into the show we almost think it could be that we really don’t like this guy any longer. He new mutant friends are also a damaged and interesting bunch of characters. Some of them not telling the whole truth, some of them scared, confused or angry with him and events around them.

Like I said earlier though it is often a very funny show, but it is a show which balances very well a number of dramatic and emotional styles. The producers and writers obviously had a good deal of courage and faith in this very different comicbook show but it has really worked for them.

If you are a fan of the X-Men films and the Marvel Netflix shows you should really give this a go right now.

 

James E. Parsons is author of two SF books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century books out now in all good bookshops and online shops. His first horror novel is due late 2017.

Suicide Squad- Movie Review 2016

There were big problems with this movie long before it reached our cinema screens a couple of weeks ago. Most of that was thanks to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Oh, how the public got their teeth right into that one. Was it really such a dour and terrible movie?

Anyway, here we get the next DC movie, in an almost strange move from the studio putting this out before the major DC films already set up for the next few years. While Marvel continue to dominate comic-book movies globally, DC have been inching forward nervously with very mixed reactions since the Green Lantern movie.

This film was possibly a wise and shrewd move for DC films- a chance to test the waters briefly where even Marvel had not fully dared to venture. Here we have a group of villains or anti-heroes. Where we’ve had around a decade of solid mighty, brave and honest justice defending heroes we might want something a little different at this point right?

But then along came Guardians of the Galaxy and even Deadpool. A double-shot of irregular naughty and playful misfit action, very different from the Avengers. Also very fresh and funny. Oh finally we get funny. All of this while Suicide Squad was still in production…and so then came the reshoots, rewriting, more editing. This almost looked a sure sign that DC were seriously confused, desperate even.

So while earlier in the year most audiences were left cold and unimpressed with the epic length Bats V Superman film, we were at least interested in the idea of Suicide Squad. But whether it was going to turn out a wild triumph or an ugly mess was to be seen.

So what do we get with the super-multi-coloured crew of deviant criminals and neon villains? We get quick-fire jokes, fast-moving story and a big scale action flick which reminds us of Escape from New York and other 80’s street-talking 80’s dystopian movies. It has swagger and muscle, it is smart ass and teasing.

This is the most instantly fun and enjoyable DC adapted film, but it does have problems. With all of the extra work in edits and shooting of extra scenes and more it still has not been pulled together tight enough. There are certainly a good number of great scenes and moments, usually with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Dead Shot.

I will be honest- it just about seemed like DC/Warner just could not give us funny or wise-cracking comic-book movies and characters-or simply were afraid to do so. They seemed to need to define themselves apart from Marvel distinctly but that choice was not working very well so far. With Suicide Squad coming from a largely unknown comic it seems they were feeling more comfortable to play around with their own methods of comic-book cinema style.

If they movie had come to us before Deadpool it may well have been super-huge at box office, so far it seems to have done only fairly well. It is not as slick and well put together as Guardians of the Galaxy (which it seems to really want to be). While it does look great, has some good moments with Jared Leto’s new Joker and Harley, and chatter between the various squad crew like the Ghostbuster reboot from this summer, the story is probably too simplistic and the end showdown just not nearly great enough.

I would like to see another Suicide Squad movie, I just hope that next time around they really give us the most insane and truly wild movie they are capable of putting on screen.

James E. Parsons is author the science fiction novels Minerva Century and Orbital Kin, both available from all good bookshops now in paperback, ebook and hardback.