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.

Advertisements

ALONG CAME THE AMAZING SPIDER-AMAZING SPIDERMAN2 TRAILER LANDS

This week we finally got to see a much more satisfying longer real trailer for THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2, even thought we still will have many months to wait. The hype and build up really begins now.

Having already been given a shorter teaser revealing the sinister Electro to us, this full proper trailer offers up many more dramatic images and scenes. Having seen the first Amazing Spiderman film at the cinema, thought not immediately on release, I had mixed thoughts on it. The film gave us a more sleek and stylized version of the Marvel Spidey world, but I was still as expected underwhelmed by the overall acting of the new lead and the direction was just not as snappy or frenetic as that of the mighty Sam Raimi.

The Raimi Spiderman trilogy ended abruptly, where it might have continued on. There were a number of villains and story arcs which were left unexplored and in this fresh version of the franchise, they may finally be opened up and splashed over the big screens.

With the first new Spiderman movie I was impressed with the souped up visuals, the effects and largely the direction and  use of the Lizard villain, even if he really was not as amazing as he should have easily been.

Now with this new trailer for the second film in the suggested series, there are a number of things which tease that we-and the many, many serious Spidey fans-might soon, in a film or two down the road, see the infamous Sinister Six. From the Spiderman comics, this includes most of his challenging and wild villians coming together against him.

After seeing what the Marvel film studios have done with The Avengers and then the confused steps of the various DC comics movies and X-Men series, so many characters squeezed into one single movie may work or could end up a total mess.

This current trend with dozens of superheros and villains packed into one lengthy movie came from the Batman franchise I think, but as film effects have advanced, and cinema audiences have been observed and marketed, we then had the X-MEN films and Blade series and more, each time another one or two characters added into a screenplay. Not always a really bad thing, but many still see Spiderman 3 as a disjointed mess and more recently there was IRON MAN 2 which fragmented up a film in order to set up the expected Avengers movie.

With all of that in mind then, if in a couple of years from now there will arrive a Spiderman movie with a huge gang of villains ready to knock him down, will that also just be unbearable to see? Or could it actually give us the reverse Avengers effect, with a dozen evil characters to watch and probably a couple of other heros up there with Spiderman to lend some help?

The film studio I expect would love to see some Avengers sized box-office, but time will tell. Nuff said…

 

 

 

WOLVERINE: A MASTERLY RETURN FOR THE MUTANT?

Much more news is creeping now about this mysterious but quite honestly very much anticipated new WOLVERINE X-MEN spin-off film. Following the first WOLVERINE movie, which generally most everyone views as a huge explosive but utter shambles of a mess; this new sequel still suggests something which could really open up some fantastic depiction of the most mysterious, and interesting character from the X-MEN history.

Yes, the previous first WOLVERINE movie did involve a good few of the interesting back story themes, which many fans had hoped to see tackled on screen in some way, but the other terrible missteps and ill choices practically overshadowed those scenes. The legendary Weapon X narrative was depicted, and to some level, it was fairly good on screen, but the other dumb mistake and ruined the rest of the movie.

With this new sequel for WOLVERINE, so much has been alluded to that could be very great. This is a character that has built in so much mystery and enigmatic back story, and this film could showcase it.

The obvious difficulty though I see now, is how this movie will exist alongside the new re-branded X-MEN series of films. Not that they have been polished or distorted to an extreme extent, perhaps like some other Marvel films and characters, but this Wolverine should now have a suitably authentic feel and look with should not bow to pressure of wider younger tween audiences. For many years Wolverine has, in the X-MEN comics arguably been the most dark and difficult character, with much deep psychological tensions and almost extreme bleak and bloody existential violence seen, as he struggles with his past and own self. This is what we should hopefully be seeing in this new movie.

Will it offer up a true, more authentic Wolverine than the previous largely dumb but simplistic fun film?

This new sequel is due on screens July 2013.

DC COMIC’S ARROW:SUPER SHOWS THAT WORK…?

Coming to our television screens sometime in the very near future will be this new adaptation or inspired version of THE GREEN ARROW series from DC Comics. Again, the producers are opting for a basic, stripped down look, which should appeal to a broarder audience, much like the initial version of SMALLVILLE on television around a decade ago. But should they really simplify the design of the characters to such degree each time? Often losing the strong destinctive visual appeal of the characters to the fans already out there?

I think back to the many previous number of television inspired shows of successful comic books origin and wonder now how many of them just went too far away from the full honest look and feel of the source material…

The dark and huge cult loved series and movie THE CROW was a series -Stairway to Heaven- in the late ninties which though not nearly as dark as the original movie or comic, was sometimes a good watch but usually not often enough and seemed far too tame.

As mentioned above, of course we have just recently seen the eventual end to the hugely successful SMALLVILLE series, inspired from SUPERMAN, expanding the early years of Clark Kent and his growing up into the man he would become later. The series grew and eventually did take on bravely I would say many more distinctive visuals and themes from the comic towards the last couple of seasons. While I am sure many comic fans really admired this it most likely confused and disapointed most long-term viewers.

There was an animated series based on the TODD McFARLANE SPAWN comics, which largely was a suitably dark and creepy show, which must have pleased the fans after the tragic confused feeble hit and miss of the movie version.

One which I personally think should have continued and could have now been really great was the DC inspired show BIRDS OF PREY, which featured a number of the strong female characters such as Harley Quinn, Barbaran Gordon, Huntress and BlackCanary.

The mouch loved classic sixties BATMAN series, though hugely camp and kid-friendly did produce many familiar images, catchphrases, and featured fine actors like Adam West, Vincent Price, Eartha Kitt, Alan Napier. Not nearly as close to the comic as it could have been, but certainly foundly remembered.

I did personally really like the early ninties series based on DC’S THE FLASH, which was arguably a great bold adaptation, very much like the comic book, a bit camp, good fun, very colourful which is just as it is on the page.

With MARVEL, there was memorably the very dated cringe inducing seventies series of SPIDERMAN. Oh God, just how did it become like that? But back at the time, it was very modern and hip, possibly.

The fantastic very fondly remebered and loved THE INCREDIBLE HULK series featuring Bill Bixby. Despite now funny looking Brillo pad HULK hair, and visibly painted on green, it actually very well acted and impressively written show I would say.

In the last decade we saw MARVEL’S MUTANT X-though not really officially stated as based on the X MEN, it really was some weak version, but at times it was good watch, with decent potential. There was then, after the very successful movies, a series based on BLADE, but personally I felt that it just could not really bring BLADE down onto the small screen.

Right now, there are possibly some versions of MARVEL Punisher, Morbius, new HULK, even maybe THOR series, and with DC there could be hopefully much more serious and grim series such as DEADMAN, SPECTRE, LANTERNS from GREEN LANTERN, and the most anticipated if it could ever really work well SANDMAN. Will any or all of these possible live action adaptations come to the small screen successfully at all?

Of course, there have then been many fine animated series including SPIDERMAN a few times, BATMAN-especially the fantastic early ninties series and BATMAN BEYOND, SUPERMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE,  very impressively faithful X-MEN series, IRON MAN, SILVER SURFER-stunning visuals, MEN IN BLACK, FANTASTIC FOUR, SUPERHERO SQUAD-funny kiddy version of MARVEL heroes, and recently AVENGERS:EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES.