Oliver Queen, Hero: Superhero Saturday

Oliver Queen Steps Up (Um, Literally):  The Arrow Finale

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a little too obsessed with Arrow, and yet I’m also really aware of the shows flaws.  One of the things that has frustrated me over the past four seasons is how rarely the hero of the show, Oliver Queen, gets to actually act like a hero.  I know they’re trying to show character growth and all that, but it’s been a painful ride at times.  The the last few episodes of the show, and the season finale that aired this week finally started to fix that.

In fact (with the help of a couple of pep talks) it was Oliver who kept everyone going when it looked like they might actually have come to the end of the world.  First as himself (in the image above) giving a major pep talk to the scared citizens and second in his Green Arrow guise leading those citizens in a major attack, magically fueled by hope, on the season’s big bad.

And while I was sad to see Oliver’s brother-in-arms John Diggle (I love Digg!) taking off in a cloud of pain and doubt at the end of the ep, this exchange between them was one of my favorite of the episode:

Oliver – “John, I have never done this without you.  You’re the one that keeps me in line.”

John- “Oliver, I don’t know if you’ve been watching lately, but it’s been the other way around man.”

Five Quick Thoughts (Hah!) on The Flash Finale

  1. Really great to see John Wesley Shipp leave the show as a version of The Flash. He’s been a great Henry Allen, and it’s a great nod to his past role as The Flash.
  2. Loved that it showed Caitlin actually still being shaken up from being held hostage by Zoom – but that she was able to work through it to help the team.  Superhero shows don’t always do a good job of showing emotional consequences.
  3. Harrison Wells finally calling Cisco by his first name as he too rode off into the sunset.  It was a nice little moment.
  4. Hope super-angsty Barry doesn’t last too long, but I will be really fascinated to see how his last second major timeline alteration shakes out.
  5. Um, if The Flash and Arrow exist in the same universe – and Oliver’s battling nukes in Star City and Barry’s trying to save all of existence in Central City, don’t you think these boys would coordinate, just a bit?

 

Beauty and the Beast Revisited

My favorite fairy tale of all time is Beauty and the Beast.

The storybook that my mom read to me from when I was little had these elaborate stylized illustrations that fell somewhere between a big-eyed 70s doll painting and a trip to Versailles, odd, but memorable.  Then as a teenager I read Robin McKinley’s Beauty – a novelized retelling of the story that remains one of my favorite books to this day – I reread it once a year.

Then came Disney’s version.  At the time it came out I was a bookworm girl who felt like a fish-out-of-water in the town where she lived – so you can imagine how much I related to their version of Belle.

Now Disney’s back and I’m full of both excitement and trepidation over this:

 

The style of the movie, from what you can see of it in this trailer, looks beautiful, and while I’m a bit nervous about the casting of the Beast, clearly the best thing this movie has going for it, besides being based on  my favorite fairy tale, is the casting of Emma Watson as Belle – cause we know that girl has the charming bookworm thing down.

Some Thoughts on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Superhero Saturday

The Satisfying Finale of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

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A few weeks ago I talked about DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the fact that I like the characters of Ray Palmer, Sarah Lance, and Rip Hunter.  I also like the idea of an ensemble show about a team of heroes who travel through time to save humanity. This week capitalized on those things – my favorite twist was that the team had to kill the villain (who I have not been crazy about) simultaneously at three separate moments in history.  All three deaths were satisfying conclusions (a grieving and pissed off Sarah completing the task by hand was particularly impressive), and thankfully freed the show from an ancient Egyptian based plot that managed to be both convoluted and laughable. To further that end they also said goodbye (at least for now) to Hawkman and Hawkgirl who were bogged down by that same faux Egyptian nonsense, among other things.

I always like it when season finales manage to both bring the season to a satisfying conclusion, and make you excited to tune in next year – and this episode did that.  I’m actually more excited about this show then I’ve been since it started.

Supergirl’s Move & The Flash has the Force: Superhero Saturday

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Supergirl moves to the CW

First of all let me just say that I’m so happy that someone renewed this show for a second season.  Yes this show isn’t perfect (among other things it’s unnecessarily heavy handed with it’s “girl power” sometimes) but this spunky, geeky heroine deserves a second season.

I also hope the move to the CW will help the show – CBS kind of treated it like a poor stepchild, and I hope that’s something a network used to shepherding superhero shows will put an end to.  In addition, as this article from the Washington Post stated “It’s time to get a little geekier.”   Without the pressure to appeal to CBS’s more traditional mainstream viewers, I hope Supergirl can fully embrace nerdy, superhero-y, goodness.

The Flash has the Force

This week’s episode of The Flash was a little weird – and considering this is a show that regularly features giant gorillas and sharkmen, that’s saying something.

In an attempt to give Barry back his lost superpowers they essentially hit him with another bolt of lighting (his father, needless to say, is less than thrilled with this plan.)  This bolt of lighting sent Barry into a….

Well, I’m not really sure.

The short version is that apparently his superpower – speed – is some kind of “force.”  (Yeah, the Star Wars parallels were rampant this week)  This force proceeded to talk to him in the guise of various loved ones, including a tear inducing childhood book reading with his dead mother.

It kind of reminded me of an episode of Lost in which we take a break from the mind bending fantasy-action plot to let the character have a mind bending existential dilemma.   It’s weird, and makes absolutely no logical sense, and yet has emotional resonance.  And well, kudos to Grant Gustin for pulling it off.

Captain America, OTA, & Renewal Woes: Superhero Saturday

Hmmm….what to talk about this weekend…..

Oh yeah.  How about this?

Captain America: Civil War

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I heard this movie has already broken records, and rightly so.  It’s a terrific superhero movie.  From a writing standpoint, I especially appreciated the way that the story of the new “Avenger” – Black Panther – was cleanly inserted into the larger action/adventure plot.  Proof that you don’t have to sacrifice characterization for plot.

The other great thing about this movie in terms of characterization and plot working together is that the conflict between Iron Man & Captain America, at least for most of the movie, is a legitimate one, and no matter who you’re siding with  (I made my loyalties clear in this post) you can at least understand the perspective of each character.

Other things are fun: the appearances of Spider Man and Ant Man, Hawkeye’s attitude,  and the quick bursts of humor. Even when beating the crap out of each other The Avengers know how to be funny.

The only thing I really didn’t like about this movie? It makes me more annoyed about what Superman vs. Batman could have been and wasn’t.  Speaking of the DC universe…

Arrow Gives Us a Much Needed Dose of OTA

OTA for those of you who don’t know is an acronym in the Arrow fandom that stands for “Original Team Arrow,” the combination of Oliver Queen, John Diggle, and Felicity Smoak that I, along with other fans, think is one of the main reasons to watch this show.

This week it was on full display with Oliver & Felicity going to an underground casino (again) and then coming to Digg’s rescue just in the nick of time.  The show needs more of this and less of the convoluted, over-populated plot lines it sometimes favors.

Renewal Woes

Dear CBS,
I watch just two shows on your network – and you’re about to give one of them away. You claim it’s too expensive, and yet the effects are inferior to the lower cost shows on the CW?  How does that work? I hope if you don’t renew it CW takes it and makes a fortune. Sincerely,
A Supergirl Fan

 

Take Joy by Jane Yolen: Writer Books Review

I know this comes as a big shock, but I love reading books about writing.  And I like writing about books about writing, and hopefully you’ll like reading the writing about books about….okay enough of that – here’s my first review 🙂

I’m starting with one of my absolute favorites: Jane Yolen’s Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft.

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My much beloved – and used – copy of the book.

I love the whole premise of this small book,  which is a reaction against the idea that the writer’s life and the writing process need to be full of pain and agony in order to create good art.  Yolen says:

“Stories grace our actual lives with their fictional realities. Like angels they lift us above the hurrying world; they carry us in their pockets of light. How can you not approach such other worlds with joy?”

Hand in hand with this is Yolen’s assertion that writers should write not for publication, which does actually make us crazy, but for ourselves. As she perfectly and precisely puts it:

“I am not writing for them. I am writing for me.”

The book also gives great practical advice. Her section called “Many Voices” is one of the most useful things I’ve ever read about “voice.”  (Something that so many publishing people talk about & yet can’t actually seem to explain.)  Another section discusses the idea of poetry in the context of writing prose that sounds and feels evocative, definitely a skill I want to work on.

But in the end, as a writer who struggles with anxiety and depression, it’s the bigger message of this book that matters to me.  I need writing to be a positive, peaceful force in my life. So when I get tangled up in unfulfilled career expectations or mired in self-doubt, I re-read this book and remember that the key piece of advice from one of the world’s great fantasy authors is “take joy.”