Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It Came From The Cineplex: Poltergeist (2015)

Poltergeist (2015) was written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Gil Kenan.

Both previously worked on CG animated features, which of course makes them the perfect choice for a remake of a horror classic. Lindsay-Abaire wrote the screenplays for Robots and Rise Of The Guardians, while Kenan previously directed Monster House. Perhaps they should stick with what they know. Kenan also directed 2008's box office flop City Of Ember, so you know we're in good hands here.

Why, oh why does Hollywood keep doing this? Why do they keep remaking good movies? A remake of a classic film just seems like a losing proposition. It's unlikely you'll be able to outdo the original, and fans will be poised with their torches and pitchforks just waiting for you to make a wrong move. Wouldn't it make far more sense to remake a bad movie and try to improve it?

This new Poltergeist isn't the worst thing I've ever seen, but it offers absolutely nothing new and you'd be better off hunting down the original. C'mon, guys! You've got to bring something innovative to the table when you remake a picture, otherwise it's just a waste of everyone's time on both sides of the screen.

To make things even worse, we've already had several "virtual" Poltergeist remakes in the past couple of years. Both Insidious (2010) and The Conjuring (2013) feature families moving into a new home, experiencing supernatural disturbances revolving around their children and calling in paranormal experts for help. The expert team in Insidious even consists of an older woman and two younger male assistants, just like in the original Poltergeist. With all these copycat films littering the movie landscape, one has to wonder why the studio would bother with a Poltergeist remake. How many times can we watch a family be scared silly by their haunted house?

The original film was innovative in that it took the standard haunted house story out of the Gothic moors and placed it squarely in the tract homes of the suburbs. Audiences were scared witless because the film took place in a safe and familiar setting— suddenly those rows of identical houses didn't seem so inviting, and that TV in the corner started looking a bit too sinister for its own good. The remake takes place in the exact same setting, so it has no innovations to offer.

The 1982 Poltergeist was produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper. For decades though fans have questioned who actually directed the film. In recent years many of the cast and crew alike have stated that Spielberg was the de facto director, as he appeared on set for all but three days, armed with extensive storyboards of the entire movie. Others say he served simply as an adviser to Hooper.

Whichever camp you believe, there's no denying that it was a Spielberg film. His fingerprints are all over every scene. The idyllic suburban setting, the bustling household, the cute kids, the lens flares, the extreme camera zooms, the actors staring in abject wonder at something incredible... if that ain't Spielberg I'll eat my hat.

Too bad he didn't serve as an "adviser" on this remake.

Movie buffs have also pointed out that Poltergeist bears a very strong resemblance to the 1962 Twilight Zone episode Little Girl Lost. That  episode doesn't contain any ghosts, but does feature a little girl who falls out of her bed and slips through a portal in her bedroom wall and into another dimension. She's then rescued by her father, who enters the portal (with a rope tied around his waist) and manages to grab her seconds before it closes forever.

Many fans believe there's a "Poltergeist Curse," as several people involved in the film met with early and sometimes violent deaths. Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne, died at the age of 12 during emergency surgery. Dominique Dunne, who plays eldest daughter Dana, was killed at age 22 by her abusive former boyfriend. Lou Perryman, who played Pugsley in the first film (whoever the hell that is), was murdered in 2009.

Some blame this so-called curse on the fact that the production allegedly used real skeletons in the film's climax instead of more expensive plastic ones (why plastic skeletons are more expensive than real ones, I have no idea), which... I guess angered the spectral owners of those bones? Riiiiight.

I call bunk on the whole curse idea. When you're dealing with a group of people as large as a Hollywood film crew it's just a matter of statistics and probability that a few of them are going to suffer untimely deaths.

So far I've not heard any rumblings about the possibility of a new curse striking the cast of the remake. It's definitely not going to do their careers any good, but I doubt it'll cause any of them to actually die.

Lastly, this past weekend I realized there's currently a Mad Max and a Poltegeist movie playing at my local cineplex, and in a couple weeks there'll be another Jurassic Park film released. What year is this?


The Plot:
Surely you know the story by now. The Bowen family, consisting of husband Eric, wife Amy and children Kendra, Griffin and Madison, moves into a new home in the suburbs. Unexplained events begin to occur, and Madison starts conversing with someone or something through the family's TV set, uttering the now familiar catchphrase, "They're heeeere."

Eric and Amy attend a dinner party and learn that their subdivision was built on the site of an old cemetery, but fortunately the bodies were all moved first. Or were they? Meanwhile back at their home, all hell breaks loose. An undead hand rises from a crack in the garage floor and clutches Kendra's leg. Griffin is grabbed by the old tree outside his room and dragged outside. Madison chases a toy into her closet and passes into an otherworldly void. The Bowens return and manage to rescue the kids, except for Madison.

They then hear Madison's voice emanating from their TV set. Reluctant to call the police, they contact the local college's Paranormal Research Dept. (which of course every school has) for help. These ghostbusters set up equipment in the Bowen's house and determine that the closet is a portal to the afterlife, which for some reason exits in the ceiling of the living room. Dr. Powell, the head of the Paranormal Dept., feels she's in over her head and contacts her ex-husband, Carrigan Burke (played by Jared Harris).

Burke is the host of a cable TV series about haunted houses, and may or may not be a fraud. He investigates the Bowen's home and determines that there are hundreds of angry, restless spirits inside, and they're using Madison to lead them toward the light, which will end their torment. Unfortunately for Madison, if she goes through the light with them, she'll be gone forever. They come up with a plan to string a rope through the two portals so they can enter, grab Madison and exit. While Eric and Amy are arguing over who should perform the rescue, Griffin leaps into the portal and rescues her. Burke announces that the house is now clean.

The Bowens believe the matter is closed, but Madison never led the spirits to the light, and they come back for her with a vengeance. She's grabbed by an unseen force and dragged upstairs. As the family struggles to prevent her from being sucked back into the portal, Burke tells them to flee and jumps into the vortex himself. The Bowens hightail it out of there, as the house is torn apart by a supernatural explosion.

Later the Bowens are seen looking at a new house, but nix the idea when they see it has spacious closets and a tree in the yard. Com-O-Dee! Burke is revealed to have survived, and is now co-hosting his show with Dr. Powell.

• If nothing else, the film clocks in at a brisk 93 minutes, so it'll be in and out of your life before you have a chance to get sick of it.

• The supernatural action starts happening awfully quickly here, barely waiting for the establishing shots to end. I rewatched the original though, and the same thing happens there. Carol Anne begins communicating with the ghosts around the ten minute mark.

• The cast does the best they can with what they have to work with, especially Sam Rockwell as Eric, the patriarch of the Bowen Clan. He brings a much-needed sense of levity to the early scenes in an effort to make us care what happens to these people.

Jared Harris plays ghost hunter Carrigan Burke, who comes off as a low-rent Mad-Eye Moody (complete with supernatural war wounds) from the Harry Potter films. Unfortunately he's a poor substitute for the diminutive and memorable Tangina Barrens of the original film. 

Burke is supposed to be a no-nonsense, take-charge ghost hunter who's there to save the day. Unfortunately the fact that he's also the host of a cable TV ghost hunter show makes him seem like a charlatan (in my eyes at least). 

The film seems like it's trying to add a few new elements to the mix, but sadly never really does anything with them. The script tells us that Eric's been downsized from his job at John Deere and is having trouble finding work, while aspiring writer Amy's too busy being a mother to work on her Great American Novel. It's even implied that Eric may be drinking a little too much. Unfortunately all these subplots are all promptly dropped forever once the supernatural shenanigans start.

• Several times in the film we're told that the Bowens are strapped for cash and their new home is a step down for them. It's also located in a less than desirable neighborhood. However, none of this is visible onscreen. It looks like a perfectly acceptable middle class home in a middle class neighborhood.

By the way, if both Eric and Amy are out of work as we're told, how the hell are they able to buy a new house in the first place? Do banks routinely hand out home loans to people who are unemployed? I'm guessing no. No they do not.

• At one point Eric decides to pour himself a little afternoon drink in the kitchen. The ghosts then cause him to hallucinate that his face is melting off. Once he snaps back to normal, he pours the rest of the bottle down the drainI was very disappointed that he didn't say, "Not another drop!" as he did so.

• Not really a problem, just an observation: In the original film, the parents were seen smoking pot in their bedroom, in a time when such a thing was illegal. Now marijuana is legal in many states, but these parents just get drunk. Has marijuana lost its allure now that it's (mostly) legal?

• The Bowen's youngest daughter is named Madison, because of course she is. She's played by actress Kennedi Clements. Kennedi. With an "i."

I've read that in Germany parents have to submit their child's name to a special board for approval. I'm starting to think they have the right idea.

• Both versions of the film feature creepy clown dolls that come to life and attack the middle child. In the original film I wondered why young Robbie would own such an ugly, unsettling clown doll if he was afraid of it. This new version tries to explain that, by having Griffin find a box of moldy old clown toys in a forgotten attic room.

I'll give them an E for effort, but they still don't explain why anyone in their right mind would manufacture such a hideous toy in the first place. Even if a kid wasn't terrified of clowns, it's still ugly and off-putting. Who'd ever want such a thing?

• The remake offers one (and only one) improvement over the original— this time we actually get to see what's inside the closet portal.

The Bowens fly Griffin's camera-equipped remote control drone into the void, and we see it appears to be a tunnel lined with thousands of writhing, moaning corpses. Cool!

• In the original film, Dianne Freeling's maternal instinct outweighs her fear of the unknown, as she willingly enters the void to rescue her daughter. It's a memorable moment and a perfect example of a mother doing whatever's necessary to rescue her child. Here mother Amy Bowen is robbed of the chance to demonstrate her courage as her son leaps into the void while the adults stand around arguing about it.

I know, I know, I've been ranting that the remake doesn't do enough different, and then when it does change something I complain. But this is an element that really needed to stay the same.

• The biggest goof in the film: the static-filled hi-def TV screen. I know why it's there— the snowy screens were a huge part of the original film. Unfortunately modern TVs don't display static like old-school picture tube sets. When there's nothing on a particular channel, my set simply goes black and displays a "No Signal" message. A snow-filled TV screen is a relic of the past that kids today will never experience.

I suppose we could be generous here and say the ghosts are responsible for the snowy screens. I suppose we could say that, but...

• At the very end of the film, a real estate agent is showing the Bowens a new home. They reject it because it has a number of large closets and a large tree near the house. OK, I get the joke, but if they're gonna reject every house they see based on those criteria, they're gonna have a tough time ahead. Perhaps somewhere out there is a house with absolutely no closet space and a barren, lifeless hellscape of a yard, but I doubt it.

Poltergeist (2015) is, like most remakes, completely unnecessary and has little or nothing new to offer. I'm giving it a rare double score. If you've not seen the original film, this one is a somewhat reasonable facsimile, and I give it a B-. If you've seen the 1982 version, skip this remake. I give it a C.

DVD Doppelgängers: Seinfeld Vs. Blast From The Past

I was browsing Amazon today and noticed this.

Glad to see the Seinfeld logo's still getting work. He's settled down a bit since the early 1990s— he's a lot more balanced and grounded than he was in his wild & wacky younger days. He's a bit paler than he used to be too, but that's fine. Good for him!

This Is Why Your MuuMuu Doesn't Fit: Carl's Jr. Most American Thickburger

Last week fast food giant Carl's Jr. revealed their latest pants-bursting sandwich, the Most American Thickburger. Mmm-mmmm! Just look at that appetizing concoction. Yum! Oh wait, did I say "yum?" Sorry, I meant, "excuse me while I vomit into my wastebasket."

The horrifying new burger features the standard burger accouterments— a beef patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles. But it doesn't stop there! This is America, after all. The burger also includes a layer of thick, glistening hot dogs and inexplicably, a substratum of potato chips. Because lord knows, why waste time eating three different foods separately when you can combine them into one appalling mound and stuff it down your craw all at once?

Why stop with hot dogs and chips? Why not insert french fries into the bun, and mash the whole thing into a large cup of soda?

The Most American Thickburger clocks in at a stupefying 1,080 calories. Add a large coke and fries and you're up to around 2,400 hundred calories, which is close to the amount the average adult should consume in a day. 

It might not be so bad if this is all a person ate for the entire day, but we all know that's not going to happen.

According to Andy Puzder, chief executive officer of the Carl's Jr. parent company, the Most American Thickburger is designed to appeal to "young, hungry guys." Notice that he didn't mention people with dignity, self esteem and taste.

Said Puzder, "People love these big, juicy, indulgent burgers. We know who we are and we know how to appeal to our customers."

When criticized for contributing to America's obesity epidemic, Puzder defended the burger by saying, "My job isn’t to dictate to people what to eat. My job is to figure out what people want and sell it to them." 

Wow. That sounds remarkably like what cigarette company executives say when they try to justify selling cancer causing products to the public.

Amazingly the Most American Thickburger comes in 1/2 and 1/3 pound sizes, and will set you back around $6. New, larger pants and diabetes medicine not included.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spoiler Alert!


This is the poster for the upcoming summer blockbuster Terminator: Genisys. How about that eye-rolling spelling, eh? Why'd they stop there? Why not go all in and spell it Termynatyr Genisys?

Supposedly this film is a throwback to the very first one— Kyle Reese is sent back in time to 1984 to save Sarah Connor, but when he arrives he finds the timeline has been drastically altered.

Let's take a closer look at that poster, shall we? As is required these days, it's made from disparate images of the various actors, none of whom were in the studio at the same time, that have been crudely Photoshopped into something vaguely resembling a design.

See the figure in the center? That's actor Jason Clarke, who's playing John Connor in this film. It appears that his flesh is being burned away while he stoically strikes a dramatic pose. So I guess in this film, John Connor, the leader of the human rebellion against SkyNet, is actually one of the very same robots he's trying to destroy. 

I assume this is supposed to be the movie's brain-melting plot twist. So why the hell would they broadcast it on the goddamned poster? I don't get it. The various Terminator films have already traveled some pretty well-worn ground, so you think they'd jealously guard any surprises like they were precious jewels.

It's bad enough that modern trailers are basically two minute versions of their films and give everything away— now you have to avert your eyes in the lobby lest the posters spoil every surprise for you.

Thank Thor films like Psycho, Chinatown, The Empire Strikes Back, Fight Club or The Sixth Sense weren't filmed today, or their twists would no doubt be tag lines on their respective posters.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Happy Thirty Fifth Anniversary To The Empire Strikes Back

Happy Thirty Fifth (!) Anniversary to The Empire Strikes Back! Thirty five years! Can you believe it?

I've been a big fan of Star Wars ever since I saw the first film in the theater way back in 1977. To say it had a huge influence on me would be a disservice to understatements. For months, make that years after seeing it I would sit around and draw the ships and characters, which eventually got me to try my hand and designing my own sci-fi hardware. I doubt I would be a designer and illustrator today if not for Star Wars.

When The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980, it wowed me even more. In fact I consider it a better film than the original Star Wars (or A New Hope, as it's since been Lucasized). I've seen it more times that I can count, more than any of the other films, and still watch it regularly a couple times a year.

Empire outdoes A New Hope in just about every way. Everything is bigger, it expands on the old characters and introduces new ones, and it takes a dark turn that was unexpected at the time. Best of all— unlike most sequels, it continues the story, rather than simply rehashing what's gone before (Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Revenge Of The Jedi and your Death Star II).

I don't think I blinked once during the AT-AT battle on Hoth. Believe me when I say no one in the audience had ever seen anything remotely like that before. And the asteroid chase! I was actually ducking space rocks during that sequence. Those scenes still wow me today, even in this age of CGI effects.

By the time Luke battled Vader I was squeezing the armrests in panic. And when Luke lost his hand, I practically fell out of my chair! Luke's the hero! Nothing's supposed to happen to the hero! For a few uneasy moments I actually thought they might kill him off (this was way before the internet and spoiler sites!)

When Vader revealed he was Luke's father— the entire audience audibly gasped. I've never experienced a reaction like that in a theater since. By the time the film was over, I was exhausted. I could barely make it back to the car.

A few Empire Facts:

• George Lucas had a contingency plan in case Star Wars wasn't a huge blockbuster. He commissioned sci-fi writer Alan Dean Foster, who wrote the Star Wars novelization, to come up with a treatment for a low budget sequel.

When Star Wars became a huge hit, Lucas scrapped Foster's bargain basement sequel and came up with a more ambitious script. Foster went on to publish his treatment in book form, as Splinter Of The Mind's Eye.

I've read it a couple of times, and... meh. It's OK, but it's no Empire.

• Leigh Brackett wrote the original draft of the Empire screenplay. She previously wrote the screenplays for The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, Rio Lobo, Hatari! and The Long Goodbye. Unfortunately she died shortly after turning in her first draft, and it was rewritten by Lawrence Kasdan. Her story was basically the same, but with a few differences. In her draft Han didn't get captured and put into carbonite, Luke doesn't lose his hand and he finds out he has a twin sister that may not be Leia.

The biggest difference was that Vader was not Luke's father. In Brackett's script, Luke actually meets the ghost of his father on Bog World, the original name for Dagobah.

Empire received mixed reviews at the time, but most fans, like myself, believe it to be superior to A New Hope. Credit for that has to go to Brackett, Kasdan and director Irvin Kershner.

Naturally since I like the film so much, George Lucas has stated it's his least favorite. No doubt because he didn't have obsessive, minute control over it as he did the others.

• Stanley Kubrick's The Shining premiered just two days after Empire. What a time that was to be a movie fan!

• Yoda was originally going to be called Bunden Debannen, Buffy (!) or Minch Yoda. He initially looked quite different as well, as production art depicts him as everything from a garden gnome to a Smurf-like thing.

Makeup artist Stuart Freeborn designed the Yoda puppet, modeling his eyes after those of Albert Einstein. Frank Oz of course voiced and operated the puppet.

Although Oz did a terrific job, kudos also have to go to actor Mark Hamill for Yoda's success. He really sells the idea that he's talking to a real, live alien being, which makes the audience believe it as well. If not for Hamill, Yoda would have been just another Muppet.

Yoda's line, "Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try" blew my little mind as I sat in the darkened theater, and was my introduction to the philosophies of Buddhism.

ALIEN star Yaphet Kotto was considered for the role of Lando Calrissian, but turned it down because he didn't want to become typecast.

Most fans agree that Lando was included in Empire after Star Wars was criticized for being awfully... not very diverse.

• Shortly before Empire was filmed, Mark Hamill was involved in a serious car crash, and had to have facial reconstruction surgery. For decades the story went that Lucas wrote the Wampa attack scene to explain Luke's facial scars and altered appearance.

Lucas has recently denied this, saying it's an urban legend and that he scripted the Wampa scene well before the accident. 

• Han Solo was frozen in carbonite because Harrison Ford wasn't crazy about starring in a third Star Wars film. If Ford hadn't returned, it's assumed that he'd have remained frozen and Lando would have taken his place.

These days studios have learned their lesson. Marvel regularly signs actors for multiple films, so there'll be no question as to whether they'll appear in a sequel or not.

• As most fans know by now, Han Solo's "I know" response to Princess Leia was ad-libbed. When Leia tells Solo she loves him, his original line was a heartfelt, but bland, "I love you too." Ford felt that Solo, ever the wisecracker, would have something wittier to say, and came up with the "I know" line. 

Naturally Lucas hated it, but the enthusiastic response from test audiences convinced him to reluctantly leave it in.

• Vader's big reveal was supposedly a secret even to Mark Hamill, who didn't learn about it until just before the scene was filmed. Only Lucas, director Irvin Kershner, Hamill and Vader voiceover artist James Earl Jones knew the secret before the film premiered.

It's unlikely something like that could ever happen today, with the advent of social media and cell phones.

Vader's mind-blowing revelation is one of those movie lines that are constantly misquoted. Everyone always says "Luke, I am your father." What he actually says is, "No, I am your father."

So Happy Thirty Fifth to The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe now that Disney owns Star Wars, we'll finally get the proper ORIGINAL editions of the film on blu ray.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Flash Season 1, Episode 23: Fast Enough

It's the season finale of The Flash!

The Flash has quickly (heh) become my new favorite show this year. It's not perfect, but it gets a lot more right than wrong, and most of all it's just plain fun. The producers seem to know they're making a comic book series, and are reveling in its insanity. For proof of that, look no further than the Gorilla Grodd episode. Let's hope they keep up the good work.

The TV producers are also building an impressive shared universe on The CW, something that the movie people can't seem to do to save their lives. Too bad the TV crew can't also be in charge of the films.

I have to say I wasn't particularly thrilled by this finale. It felt for all the world like they had about ten minutes worth of story and padded it with forty minutes of Barry navel gazing. He spends the majority of the episode wringing his hands and asking all the other characters whether he should go back in time and save his mother. The worst part is, no matter what anyone tells him, we KNOW he's going to end up doing it, because this is a TV show about a superhero. So why make us sit through scene after scene of him debating the issue?

The entire episode seemed like a big tease. Heck, Ronnie and Professor Stein even showed up but didn't even get to turn into Firestorm. Wotta gyp!

All season long the show's been beating us about the head with the fact that Barry is a fundamentally good person; a hero in costume as well as out. For example, last week he was determined the save the lives of the metahumans imprisoned in Wells' Secret Super Jail even when no one else cared about them. Then suddenly in this episode he decides to prevent his mother's death, an action that could have dire consequences not just for himself, but for the entire world. Doesn't seem very heroic, does it?

I'm also not a fan of the limp non-ending we got. It wasn't even a proper cliffhanger— Barry runs into the air to stop the singularity and the credits roll. They could at least have shown him being sucked into the vortex or something before they faded to black. 

Kudos to the effects team though, especially in the "singularity destroying Central City" scenes. Those couldn't be cheap, especially on a TV budget, but they looked top notch, comparable to The Avengers films. In fact this series regularly features some surprisingly good effects.

Lastly, since the very first episode, fans have wondered if and when Caitlin would become Killer Frost (her supervillain identity in the comics), and if she did, how'd they'd avoid destroying her character forever. This episode offers us a clue. We get a glimpse of an alternate timeline in which we see Caitlin in all her Killer Frost glory. Next season Barry could simply encounter her in an alternate timeline, leaving the Caitlin we all know and love intact. Genius!


The Plot:
Barry visits Dr. Wells in STAR Labs' Secret Super Jail. Wells does the supervillain monologue thing, explaining why he killed Barry's mom. At some point in the future, Barry and Wells were (Are? Will be?) locked in a never ending struggle. Wells discovers Barry's secret identity (HA!) and goes back in time to kill him before he can become the Flash. Unfortunately for Wells, he finds the adult Flash there waiting for him. So he does the next best thing— he kills Barry's mom, expecting the tragedy to traumatize him so badly that he'll never recover. Unfortunately for Wells, he expended all his Speed Force energy and was trapped in the past, so he had to create the Flash to help him get back to the future. Convoluted!

Wells says he needs Barry's help to create a stable wormhole in the particle accelerator. If he does so, Wells can go back to the future, and Barry can go back to the night his mother was murdered and prevent it from happening. This of course means if Barry changes the past, his present will be vastly different. Joe won't become his foster father, and he'll probably never meet Iris. He also most likely won't become the Flash. But on the plus side, his family will be intact!

Barry then spends a good part of the episode brooding and asking all the other cast members what they think he should do. Joe thinks he should go for it, even though it means he won't get to raise Barry. Henry Allen says he definitely should not do it, because he's proud of the man Barry's become. Iris pretty much says "Whatever."

Meanwhile, Eddie mopes to Professor Stein, saying he has no future. Stein tries to perk him up by saying Eddie's the only person present whose future isn't set in stone. Eddie then meets with Iris and says he doesn't care about the future Wells showed him, and wants to get back together with her. Ronnie and Caitlin decide to get married for some reason, and Stein performs the service.

There are other complications. Professor Stein says that if Barry goes through with the experiment, he'll have to control his speed precisely. If he miscalculates his speed even slightly he could be disintegrated. The wormhole could also collapse and form a singularity that will destroy the whole world.

Barry says "Screw it!" and decides to change the past anyway. Wells instructs him to begin running at top speed through the particle accelerator ring. As he does so, time begins opening up before him and he sees glimpses of the past and several possible futures. Cisco releases a hydrogen particle into the accelerator, and Barry collides with it, causing a stable wormhole to open. Barry appears at his house the night his mother died, and has one minute and fifty two seconds to save her. Why the oddly specific time limit? Because tension, that's why!

He sees his future self battling the Reverse Flash as they circle his mother. He's about to zoom his mother to safety, when the Future Flash notices him and motions to him to not try and save her. Future Flash saves young Barry, and the Reverse Flash stabs Nora Allen, just like before. Barry then enters the room and gets to spend a few precious seconds with his dying mother, telling her that he's fine. She dies in his arms.

Back in the present, Wells enters the Time Sphere and is about to fly it through the wormhole. Suddenly Barry emerges from it and destroys the Sphere, preventing Wells from leaving. Barry and the Reverse Flash battle again inside the accelerator. The Reverse Flash gets the upper hand, and just as he's about to kill Barry, Eddie shoots himself in the chest. This causes the Reverse Flash, asa Eobard Thawne, to be erased from existence, since Eddie is his ancestor. Somehow this radical act doesn't seem to change anything else, as Barry remains the Flash.

Just then the wormhole flares up again and becomes a full-blown singularity. It rises above Central City, sucking up cars and buildings. Barry runs toward it, somehow expecting his super speed to be able to shut it down. Annnnd roll credits.

• According to the Reverse Flash, he'll be born 136 years from now, which works out to 2151. I was expecting him to be from a lot farther in the future. In the comics he comes from the 25th Century.

• When the Reverse Flash is monologing, he says he finally discovered the secret to killing the Flash— his secret identity. HAW HAW! It is to laugh! At this point there are very, very few people on the show who don't know this so-called "secret."

• When Professor Stein infodumps how the particle accelerator works, he says something like, "And if you successfully travel through time, I might shout 'Euerka.' Or perhaps 'Excelsior!" Apparently Stein is a big fan of Stan Lee.

• Professor Stein tells Barry that once inside the particle accelerator, he'll need to run at Mach 2 in order to go back into time. Mach 2 is around 1,520 miles per hour (it varies with air pressure and altitude). That doesn't seem like it's fast enough for time travel. NASA has an experimental plane that can fly at Mach 10, and I'm pretty sure it's never created a wormhole and traveled through time. Seems like "speed of light" would have been more apt here.

• Cisco tells Dr. Wells he remembers being killed by him in the alternate timeline. Wells says, "Well I'm sure I had a good reason." HAW!

Wells also apologizes to Cisco, saying he didn't realize he'd be able to remember past timelines. He tells Cisco he must also have been affected by the particle accelerator explosion, saying, "You're able to see through vibrations in the universe. A great and honorable destiny awaits you now."

Of course as we all know by now, in the comics Cisco Ramon is the superhero known as Vibe. Looks like this Cisco's going to do the same for sure. Let's hope that when he eventually does so, he has a costume different from the one he wore in the comics.

• Caitlin and Ronnie Raymond suddenly decide they've got to get married in this episode, for no apparent reason other than to fill up another few minutes before the action finally starts. Maybe they wanted to hurry and marry before Barry destroyed the timeline.

• Caitlin gets to play the Cabbage Head™ (someone who serves as a cheap expository device by asking stupid questions) this week. Professor Stein says that Barry's time travel experiment could possibly generate a singularity and destroy Central City. Caitlin says, "What's a singularity?"

Jesus Christ, Caitlin, you work in a goddamned particle accelerator! How can you not know what a singularity is? No wonder the thing exploded and your boyfriend turned into Firestorm. Heck, I'm not a scientist and even I know what the hell it means.

Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense if Joe or Eddie or someone without a background in theoretical science had asked that question? Maybe Caitlin was all giddy from her whirlwind marriage.

• Cisco's skills continue to impress. This week he whips up a slick and very impressive Time Sphere for Dr. Wells in a very short amount of time. You know, given Cisco's ability to invent high-tech devices in what seems like minutes, you'd think he'd be Bill Gates or Tony Stark rich by now.

Wells takes a look at it and tells him that Rip Hunter would be impressed. Wells identifies Rip Hunter as the creator of the first successful time machine. Hunter will also be appearing on The CW's upcoming Legends of Tomorrow series.

• As Barry begins begins running through the accelerator, he breaks through the time barrier. He sees glimpses of the past, as well as possible future timelines. In order he sees:

His younger self being adopted by Joe.

A glimpse of a possible future or an alternate timeline, in which Caitlin is the supervillain Killer Frost.

The Flash Museum, which will presumably be built in Central City at some point in the future.

A "Darkest Timeline" in which Barry's the one in Iron Heights prison. Yikes! How'd that one happen? Did the police think he killed his mom when he was a child?

A couple of images from the upcoming Justice League, er, I mean Legends Of Tomorrow series, which will be showing up on The CW next year. We see a giant robot foot crashing through a roof, as well as a brief glimpse of the team.

• As Wells is preparing to go back to the future, a metal Mercury helmet flies out of the wormhole and lands on the floor. This was obviously a nod to Jay Garrick, the original Flash from the comics. Garrick wore such a helmet as the Golden Age Flash, and regularly fought Nazis in WWII.

It's a pretty good bet that we're going to see Garrick at some point next season, as well as Earth 2, where he lives. Or did live. I have no idea what's going on in the comics these days.

• As Cisco rightly points out, when Barry goes back to the night of the murder there'll be three of him there—  his younger self, the older Flash who fought the Reverse Flash, and his current self.

Let's hope Barry doesn't try to stop the murder again after this, or his house is going to be filled up with copies of himself.

• Barry goes back in time to prevent his mother's death, but ultimately decides not to change history. Maybe now we can drop the whole "saving his mom" plot thread that's been running through the entire season, which frankly was getting a little old.

Of course by not altering history, he's pretty much sealed his dad's fate. Looks like Henry won't be getting out of prison any time soon now!

By the way, when Barry sees his future self, he's wearing a different version of his costume, one with white in the chest logo (which is much closer to the comic version).

• Welp, I totally called it. For a few weeks now I've been worried about what Eddie. He's been acting twitchy ever since Eobard Thawne told him he's his direct descendent and showed him proof that he doesn't end up with Iris. I was afraid he was going to try and kill himself to prevent Thawne from ever being born, and I was right.

Say, Eddie, here's an idea. What if instead of killing yourself, you just went to the doctor and got yourself a vasectomy. That would have eliminated Eobard just as surely, plus you'd still be alive. I guess that wouldn't have been as dramatic though.

I admit it looks bad, but I wouldn't count Eddie out just yet. If you'll notice his lifeless body was sucked into the singularity (or black hole, Caitlin). I would not be surprised if he comes back at some point.

• Time travel is a tricky thing to write. Eddie kills himself, which rightly so causes Eobard Thawne to disintegrate. But if Thawne no longer exists, then there was no one to go back in time and cause Barry to become the Flash. So why does Barry still have super speed? Why isn't he a normal CSI? Why isn't his mother still alive? Why do Joe, Iris, Caitlin and Cisco still know who he is? Why does the particle accelerator still exist? See? Complicated!

In a similar vein, after Eddie dies, the Reverse Flash no longer looks like Dr. Wells and reverts to his true form of Eobard Thawne. Does that mean that the real Harrison Wells is still alive? If there's no Eobard Thawne, then he can't have ever killed Dr. Wells, can he?

• Despite the fact that the wormhole collapsed, it opens up again for some reason a few minutes later. Before long it turns into a full blown singularity, as predicted. It rises above Central City, sucking up cars and buildings. 

Barry announces he can close it by running really fast around it in the opposite direction, just like he did the Weather Wizard's tornado back in the very first episode. Because of course a hole in the fabric of space/time is exactly like a tornado, dontcha know, and there's no problem that can't be solved by running.

• As the singularity hovers above the city, we get a few shots of various citizens looking worriedly up at the sky. First we see Captain Cold, and then an unidentified woman staring upwards.

That woman is Kendra Saunders, aka Hawkgirl from the upcoming Legends Of Tomorrow series.

We also got glimpses of Captain Singh and Henry Allen gaping at the sky in awe.

• Barry must have watched The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and saw Legolas running up a wall of falling bricks. He performs the exact same stunt at the end, running from one piece of flying debris to another to get close to the singularity.

• I noticed something about Barry's Flash mask in this episode. Every time he'd start to put it on, he'd grab it with both hands and sort of act like he was pulling it over his head, and then the camera would cut away. When it cut back to him the mask would be on.

I'm betting that in reality his molded mask is really, really tight and probably takes a team of suit wranglers five minutes to put it on his head.

• I still think that someone who calls themselves the "Reverse Flash" ought to move really, really slow. It's only logical. The Flash has super speed, so shouldn't someone who claims to be his "complete opposite" have super, er, slowness? Blame that one on the comic, I guess.

• Bring on Season 2 now!
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