Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Life With Max Update: The Dog Bed Part 2

Late last year I babysat my friend's dog Max for three weeks. You can read about his adventures at my house here.

A couple weeks ago I posted this photo of Max, a medium-sized dog we believe is a boxer/pitt pull mix, trying to fit in his little sister's comically undersized bed. 

Rosie, by the way, is a tiny dachshund. This bed is the perfect size for her. Not so much for Max, who insists on trying to squeeze into it anyway.

Here are a couple of other shots of Max insisting on sleeping in this tiny bed. It's hard to get any sense of scale from these photos, but for reference, Rosie's bed is probably about fifteen inches across. Maybe the size of a large pizza.

I don't know what's up with Max's face here. His wide-eyed expression makes it look like he's thinking, "I've made a huge mistake."

Here's a final shot of Max not fitting in the bed. He's pretty good at the sad eye thing.

Before anyone calls PETA on my friend, no one's forcing Max to sleep in a bed that's five sizes too small for him. He has a comfortable and spacious bed of his own downstairs. I guess he doesn't realize just how big he is, and thinks he can fit into Rosie's bed.


It Came From The Cineplex: Split

Hey guys, it's finally here! It's The January/February Film Dumping Ground! Yes, it's that magical time of the year when the major studios burn off all the celluloid bombs they didn't dare release during the all-important Summer and Xmas blockbuster seasons! Awesome! Brace yourselves for two solid months of watered-down PG-13 horror films, cheap CGI kid's movies and fart comedies. It's a fantastic time to be a film fan!

Split was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Shyamalan previously wrote and directed The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady In The Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth and The Visit. He also wrote, but didn't direct Stuart Little (!) and Devil.


Few directors have ever had as rapid a rise and fall as Shyamalan. He got incredibly lucky back in 1999, hitting a homer his first time at bat with The Sixth Sense, which grossed over $600 million against its meager $40 million budget. 

Unfortunately he's never been able to match that first success, as each of his subsequent films has been a little worse than the last, critically as well as financially. How the hell does he keep getting work?

The Sixth Sense also pigeonholed Shyamalan as "The Twist Ending Guy," as audiences now expect no, make that demand each of his films contain a similar startling climax. Unfortunately the problem with twists is they're not hard to figure out if you're expecting one. 

After several spectacular flops in a row, Shyamalan scaled things back with 2015's The Visit, a simple, low budget, found footage horror film. Critics hailed it as a return to greatness for Shyamalan. Audiences apparently agreed, as it grossed a healthy $98 million against its minuscule $5 million (!) budget. Shyamalan was back, baby!

I thought The Visit was mediocre at best, as it was marred by its cursed found footage format, annoying child characters, a dull middle and a puzzling identity crisis (was it supposed to be funny or scary?).

Which brings us to Split. Once again, critics are falling all over themselves praising the film, calling it a triumph for Shyamalan. Get a load of these actual reviews:
"If you remember M. Night's work prior to The Happening and wished for a return to the kind of cerebral thrillers that the world was introduced to through his efforts, you're in for a treat." Kevin A. Ranson, MovieCrypt.com
"This suspenseful and unsettling thriller is a welcome return to form for writer-director M. Night Shyamalan." Tom Glassonm, Concrete Playground (whatever that is)
And my absolute favorite Split review:
"The movie's simultaneous evocation of both the depravity at work beneath society's deceptive surfaces and the inadequacy of the liberal technocratic order to defend against that depravity is the secret to its success." Richard Brody, New Yorker
Looks like somebody got a new Word A Day calendar for Xmas! What the hell does any of that even mean? Are you sure you're talking about Split here, Richard? Methinks you uploaded the wrong review.

Many critics are actually calling the film a "Hitchcockian thriller." Wait, is it "A Hitchcockian thriller" or "AN Hitchcockian thriller? Anyway, I completely agree with them. Like all of Hitchcock's movies, Split starred a group of actors who played various roles and recited lines that were written in a script. The action was shot with a camera that captured moving images onto film. These lengths of film were then edited together to form a narrative, sound effects and music were added, and the end product was distributed to theaters worldwide. See? It's just like Hitchcock's films!

Split reminds me more of Brian DePalma's Dressed To Kill, which featured a similar cross-dressing antagonist (Whoops! Spoilers!). But then DePalma's film was a thinly disguised ripoff, er, I mean homage to Hitchcock films, so I guess we're right back where we started.

In addition to the critical praise heaped onto Split, audiences have embraced it as well. So far it's grossed a whopping $101 million (and counting!) against its $9 million budget.

I just don't get it. 

Apparently I must have seen a different version of the movie than everyone else, because I thought it was mediocre at best. Let's get this straight right now Split is nothing more than an exploitation movie. The kind of cheap, sleazy, low budget schlock they used to show at drive-ins and grindhouse theaters. Sure, it's a slickly produced exploitation movie, but an exploitation movie nonetheless. 

And you know what? That's fine. I'm a big fan of schlock movies, and there's definitely room for them at the cineplex. But let's not pretend that Split is anything more than that, OK? It's classy trash at best.

I have a feeling the last ten seconds of the film are what's causing everyone to go gaga over it. It is a surprising reveal, and it actually does help the previous hour and fifty seven minutes make much more sense. But ten seconds do not a movie make, nor do they excuse everything that went before.

Everyone's also unanimously applauding actor James McAvoy's "brilliant" performance in the film as Kevin, a man with twenty four distinct personalities (even though we only get to see six or seven of them). Really? I thought he was EXTREMELY over the top. He doesn't just chew the scenery, he devours it, digests it and eliminates it before your very eyes.

To me it wasn't all that different from watching Andy Serkis arguing with himself as both Smeagol and Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings films. In fact I think Serkis did it much better. I guess seeing a man use funny voices to talk to himself is all it takes to impress folks these days. 

Joachim Phoenix was originally cast as in the film as Kevin, but was ultimately replaced by McAvoy. What a lucky break for Phoenix!

Every one of Shyamalan's film's since The Sixth Sense has contained their share of unintentional hilarity. In fact, 2008's The Happening is one of the funniest comedies of the last ten years. It kind of makes me wish Shyamalan would try his hand at an actual, real comedy. 

Lastly, I'm honestly surprised that, given the fact that we currently live in a Politically Correct Hellscape, no mental health groups have spoken up and complained about about this film. Besides featuring a psychologically ill man as the villain, it shamelessly exploits mental illness in this case DID, or dissociative identity disorder for entertainment purposes.

I have a feeling the depiction of DID in Split was so over the top and cartoonish that it flew right under the psychiatric profession's radar.


The Plot:
Teenager Claire (no last names, please) is celebrating her birthday with her friend Marcia, and classmate Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy). Casey's a "bad girl," who's always getting detention in school, and Claire invited her to the party purely out of pity. When Casey's ride doesn't show up, Claire's dad insists on seeing her home safely.

The girls wait in the car while Dad loads up the trunk. The girls hear a scuffle, and suddenly a strange man named Kevin (played by James McAvoy) gets in the car and knocks out the three teens.

Casey wakes up to see that she and the other two girls are inside a windowless room with stone walls, and an oddly immaculate bathroom. Kevin enters the room, grabs Marcia and drags her out. A few seconds later he throws her back in, furious that she's peed herself out of fear. He locks the door and leaves. Claire says they need to team up and fight back, but Casey is oddly calm, saying they need more intel before they make a move that might anger their dangerous captor.

Meanwhile, Dr. Karen Fletcher (played by Betty Buckley) watches a news report about the three missing girls. Dr. Fletcher is a therapist who specializes in Dissociative Identity Disorder, aka multiple personalities. She meets with Kevin, who turns out to be her patient. Kevin suffers from DID and has twenty three distinct personalities. He speaks to her as "Barry," one of his personalities who's a flamboyant fashion designer with a Boston accent. Dr. Fletcher says he seems agitated, but he assures her nothing's wrong.

Back in the cell, the three girls try to find a way out. They look through a crack in the door, see a woman in a dress and call to her for help. The door opens and they're shocked to see the woman is really Kevin in his "Patricia" persona, complete with prim dress (!). As you might expect, this looks as ridiculous as it sounds. "Patricia" tells the girls they were captured by "Dennis," who's the protector of Kevin's many personalities. "Dennis" is incredibly strong, suffers from OCD and is a germaphobe. She assures the girls that they're fine, as she's ordered "Dennis" not to touch them.

Dr. Fletcher holds an expository Skype conference to explain DID to her colleagues and to the theatrical audience. She says she's been studying DID patients for years and believes they're "more than human," as the various personalities can actually alter the host's body chemistry and abilities. Foreshadowing alert!

The girls then meet another of Kevin's personalities named "Hedwig," who's a nine yer old boy. Casey tries to manipulate "Hedwig," telling him that he'll be in trouble with "Patricia" and "Dennis" if he doesn't help them escape. He doesn't believe her and runs away. 

The girls try to find a way out of their cell. Claire finds a hollow spot in the ceiling, and tears the drywall away with her shoe. She finds a conveniently human-sized Movie Air Vent™ and crawls through it. She drops down into another room and begins running through a large underground complex. Unfortunately she's captured by "Dennis." He takes Claire to a separate room, orders her to take off her now soiled top, and locks her in.

The next day "Barry" meets with Dr. Fletcher again (I think it's the next day, but it's not really clear how much time passes in this film). She says she believes she's really talking to "Dennis," since he keeps straightening things ("Dennis" has OCD, remember?). She mentions Kevin's twenty three distinct personalities and asks if they're all OK. Kevin admits that he's currently "Dennis," and says there's a twenty fourth personality called "The Beast," who's coming soon. One would think this would scare the crap out of Dr. Fletcher and she'd immediately call the police, but no.

Kevin returns home, becomes "Patricia," lets Casey and Marcia out of their cells and fixes them lunch. While she's occupied, Marcia hits "Patricia" in the back with a chair and runs out of the room. "Patricia" orders Casey back to her cell, catches Marcia and separates her from the others.

"Hedwig" visits Casey and talks about his music collection and his CD player, which he says is next a window. Intrigued, Casey sweet talks him into showing her his room so she can escape. She's disappointed when she sees the "window" is just a drawing. She sees he has a professional walkie-talkie, grabs it and calls for help while trying to fight off "Hedwig." A man answers, but unfortunately thinks Casey's pulling a prank. "Hedwig" subdues Casey.

Casey flashes back to a hunting trip she took with her dad and uncle when she was five. During the trip, her dad teaches her how to shoot a rifle (!). Later, in the movie's creepiest and sleaziest scene, her uncle takes her into the woods by himself and strips down to his underwear. He tells Casey to strip as well, so they can "pretend to be animals." Yikes! Cut to her uncle putting his clothes back on, as Young Casey points a rifle at him. He manages to take it from her before she can shoot him. This abuse subplot is presumably the movie's reason why Casey's a "bad girl."

Unnerved by their last meeting, Dr. Fletcher goes to Kevin's house and is greeted by "Dennis." She realizes he's the one responsible for kidnapping the three girls. She tells "Dennis" she has to use the restroom and excuses herself. She hears Claire calling for help, but "Dennis" knocks her out before she can rescue her.

"Dennis" runs to a train car in the seemingly vast underground complex, and transforms into "The Beast." His body physically changes and he becomes taller and more muscular, covered with unsightly veins. He can also somehow crawl around on walls and ceilings, just like Spider-Man (!). He returns to find Dr. Fletcher's awake, groggily writing something on a paper. She tries to stab him with a small kitchen knife, but it breaks on his impenetrable skin. He then squeezes her to death, which I guess is a thing that can happen.

Casey wakes up and tries to free the other two girls. She unlocks Marcia's room, but sees her stomach's been ripped open by "The Beast." She opens Claire's room and sees "The Beast" drag her away as organs start flying. She runs to the kitchen, where she finds Dr. Fletcher's body, along with the note she scribbled, which reads, "Say his name— Kevin Wendell Crumb." Apparently hearing his true name will cause Kevin to resume full control of his mind and body.

"The Beast" enters and heads toward Casey. She shouts his name over and over and sure enough, he reverts back to Kevin. He doesn't remember anything from the last few days, and is truly horrified when Casey tells him he's just killed Clair, Marcia and Dr. Fletcher. He tells her where to find a shotgun, and begs her to kill him. Casey grabs the rifle and runs as "The Beast" resumes control.

Casey finds a box of shotgun shells in a locker, and loads the gun. She runs down a corridor that turns out to be a dead end. "The Beast" crawls toward her on the ceiling, knocking out lights one by one so she can't see him. He attacks, tearing her shirt and slashing her leg. 

She gets away and locks herself in a conveniently located cage (?). She shoots twice at point blank range, but the shells don't phase "The Beast." He starts bending the bars of the cage to get to her, until he sees that Casey has multiple scars on her arms, legs and torso, where she's apparently cut herself (as a form of self-abuse) over the years. "The Beast" stops and declares that Casey is "pure hearted," whatever the hell that means. I guess he sees her as a kindred spirit, because she's damaged just like him? He then scampers away. Wait, was... was that the Patented Shyamalan Twist?

Later a security guard finds Casey in the cage and takes her outside. She sees she's been held captive beneath the Philadelphia Zoo, where Kevin presumably worked. We see Kevin off somewhere by himself, as "Dennis," "Patricia" and "Hedwig" now have permanent control of his body. "Patricia" says "The Beast" will protect them all from now on.

Cut to a diner, where people are watching a news report about Kevin, who the media has dubbed "The Horde." A customer very awkwardly says, "This reminds me of a news story I heard fifteen years ago, about a man in a wheelchair. The reporters called him a funny name too, but I can't remember what it was." David Dunn, the hero of Shyamalan's 2000 film Unbreakable, is sitting next to the woman and answers, "Mr. Glass."

GASP! Kevin exists in the Unbreakable universe!

• Since it's federally mandated that every Shyamalan film must have a twist, I spent the entire runtime of Split trying to figure out its big plot revelation.

Split actually features two twists. The first is pretty lame, and comes when "The Beast" sees that Casey apparently cuts herself for attention. He then sees her as a kindred spirit, stops trying to kill her and scampers away.

Note that this is cribbed almost EXACTLY the utterly ridiculous "Our Moms Are Both Named Martha" reveal in Batman V Superman. Oy.

The second twist comes in the last ten seconds of the film, when we see David Dunn, the hero of Shyamalan's Unbreakable, sitting in a diner watching a news report about Kevin.

This was a much better little twist, as it came completely out of nowhere and neatly links the two films. In fact, as I said earlier, this revelation actually makes Split a (slightly) better film.

Up until the very end, Split was very cartoonish, especially in the way it depicted mental illness in general, and DID in particular. Dr. Fletcher's theory that a DID patient's various personalities could alter the host's body chemistry was very comic-booky, and made it hard to take the movie seriously.

Now we know why! Split is set in the "realistic" comic book world of Unbreakable. The entire movie is a supervillain origin story! 

This makes the outrageous events of the film a little easier to swallow, but unfortunately it can't save it completely. Movies need more than ten good seconds to be considered great.

 As soon as I saw that Casey had been abused as a child, I was sure I had the twist figured out. I thought, "Aha! We'll find out that she has DID too, and one of her personalities will have a superpower just like Kevin. Then we'll see the two of them use their powers to fight to the death."

Sadly, that didn't come to pass. I like my idea much more than the one we got though.

• Anya Taylor-Joy did an amazing job in 2015's The V V Itch (a film I've grown to appreciate more on repeat viewings), which was her feature film debut. Since then, she's gone on to star in the execrable Morgan and now Split. She needs to start picking better projects or find a new agent, stat. She can't coast on The V V Itch's goodwill forever.
If she's not careful she's gonna end up battling bad CGI sharks in Siffy Channel movies.

• I'd have been more receptive to McAvoy's performance if he hadn't insisted on wearing a different outfit for each of Kevin's personalities. Yes, you heard right every time one of Kevin's personalities takes control, he dashes offstage and changes clothes before returning and speaking in a new, unconvincing accent. 

It was especially hilarious when Kevin appeared as "Patricia," decked out in tight-fitting sweater, prim, pleated skirt and heels. I'm sure the sight of him dressed that way was supposed to be terrifying, but it was unintentionally hilarious. I honestly couldn't stop laughing.

McAvoy gives each of Kevin's personalities their own gestures and body language, which made the costume changes unnecessary in my opinion. I think it would have been much more effective if, when Kevin changed from "Hedwig" to "Patricia," he simply straightened his posture, pulled his mouth into a thin, unforgiving line and threw out a disapproving look.

I'm assuming the costume changes were there for the dimmer members of the audience, so they'd know which of Kevin's many personalities they were watching. 

• M. Night Shyamalan really needs to stop making cameos in his movies. I assume he does because he thinks he's the next Alfred Hitchcock, who often made appearances in his own films as well. The difference is Hitchcock knew he wasn't an actor, and just make quick little appearances in the background of his films. Plus he was, you know, talented. For some reason Shyamalan insists on giving himself major speaking roles in his films, which invariably drag me right out of the movie.

• As you might expect, the portrayal of DID in this film has little or nothing to do with reality. Doctors believe that body chemistry can be altered with the mind, but those chemicals can't alter a person's personality.

I get the impression Shyamalan probably watched an A & E documentary on DID, only half paid attention to it while diddling with his phone and thought, "That's it! There's my next movie!"

• Dr. Fletcher has to be the worst psychiatrist in the history of the profession. She shamelessly exploits Kevin's condition to further her own career, believing he's somehow the next step in human evolution. She also consistently ignores blatant warning signs from him, refusing to call the police when it's obvious he's a danger to himself and others. As far as I'm concerned she got what she deserved.

• Kevin apparently lives in the same world as David Dunn of Unbreakable. Is Shyamalan trying to set up his own little cinematic universe here, and get in on some of that sweet, sweet franchise money? What are we gonna call it? The Unbreakableverse? The Shyamalnverse?

So what's next? Will Shyamalan write and direct Unbreakable 2, featuring David Dunn fighting the Horde? How will Casey fit into this? Will she be David's sidekick? Stay tuned!

Split could have been a decent little thriller, but it's marred by an over the top performance by star James McAvoy, and like all of M. Night Shyamalan's films, is riddled with unintentionally hilarious moments. Despite what the critics would have you believe, this is nothing more than a slickly-produced exploitation movie. Might be worth a look on cable, but not a trip to the cineplex. I give it a C.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Return Of The Title Awakens And Strikes Back!

As all of fandom knows, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also known as Episode VII, premiered in 2015 to thunderous applause, grossing over $2 BILLION dollars worldwide.

This week director Rian Johnson revealed that the title of his upcoming Episode VIII is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Hmm. Seems kind of... final, doesn't it? Almost like that should be the title of Episode IX. But what do I know?

Sharp-eyed fans noticed that if you place the two titles side by side, they actually form a sentence: "The Force Awakens The Last Jedi."

Predictably, the internet immediately lit up with rampant speculation. Was this convergence intentional, or merely a coincidence? Is it a clue to the plot of the next film? A hint at a new character? Something completely meaningless that nerds are wasting their lives away debating?

And if it's true the titles are forming a sentence, will Episode IX complete it? Inquiring minds need to know the answer to this vitally important topic.

Welp, it turns out the fans were right! This new trilogy's titles ARE forming one long sentence. I contacted an anonymous source at Lucasfilm, who confirmed that the title for Episode IX has already been chosen, and gave me an exclusive scoop.

Admittedly this new Episode IX title is a bit awkward and enigmatic when seen by itself.

Once you combine it with the other three titles though, it all makes sense. It's like they planned this all along. Mind. Blown!

We're Living In The Darkest Timeline: Immigration

"Welcome to Glorious Leader Trump's America!"

"Before you enter, we just need to ask you a couple of questions. Do you practice one of the "good" religions?"

"No? Oh, dear. Welp, don't let the door hit you in the ass. NEXT!"

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 9: Raiders Of The Lost Art

Sorry this week's review is so late, but it was unavoidable. My local The CW station decided, in their infinite wisdom, to pre-empt The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow this week to air a goddamned basketball game instead. Isn't there already more than enough sports on TV? Is it really necessary to shove network shows aside to make room for more?

Don't the networks have rules about affiliates pre-empting their shows? If not, they should. I'd imagine it plays havoc with their national ratings when local stations can decide not to air their programs on a whim.

Anyway, because of this vitally important basketball game, I had to track down alternative viewing sources for the Arrowverse shows, which delayed this week's reviews. Please contact WTVW in Evansville, Indiana and voice your displeasure with them.

This week Legends Of Tomorrow finally returns from its Xmas vacation. 

I've said many times before that Legends Of Tomorrow is like a Silver Age comic book come to life, with all the fun and insanity that implies. Nowhere is that more true than in this episode, in which the Legends team up with George Lucas. Yep, that George Lucas, before he ever made Star WarsI can't think of any other series that could pull off such an insane concept.

I have the distinct feeling someone on the Legends writing staff just discovered the short film George Lucas In Love. This episode is very, VERY similar to that story.

These days it's hard to remember that George Lucas was once a visionary filmmaker who inspired an entire generation of artists, scientists and directors. Unfortunately he's seemingly descended into madness and become a parody of his former self. I'd much rather remember the young George Lucas seen here.

It's too bad that while the Legends were inspiring George Lucas to make Star Wars, that they didn't WARN him not to make the Prequels!

When I saw that Rip Hunter was returning this week, I was worried that he'd immediately shove White Canary out of the Captain's chair and resume command. Luckily that didn't happen. At least not yet. I'm betting they're saving that plot for the season finale.


The Plot:
We open with a flashback to the beginning of the season, shortly after Rip Hunter activates the Time Scatter to protect the Legends by sending them to random periods in the past. He then sets the Waverider on a collision course with a atom bomb headed for New York City in 1942.

Before the ship crashes into the bomb, he pries open a floor panel and removes an old piece of wood that looks suspiciously like a spear. He then opens the Waverider's Time Drive, which contains a spinning ball of energy, and grabs it. A blast of white fills the screen.

In the present day, Professor Stein is on the Waverider and catches Heat Wave talking to himself. Except he's not really talking to himself, but to Captain Cold, who only he can see. Heat Wave is afraid he's going crazy, and asks Stein to help "fix his brain." Somehow Stein resists the urge to say, "I'm gonna have to put in some overtime on this one!"

Elsewhere on the ship, Steel, Atom and Vixen stare at printouts of the two ancient amulets stolen by Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn and Eobard Thawne, and try to figure out what the villains want with them. Steel, who's an historian, says he can't find any record of anything resembling the two amulets. Vixen makes an intuitive leap and puts the two printouts together, saying they're really halves of ONE amulet. 

Steel immediately recognizes it as the Longinus Medallion. He wakes up the rest of the team and says the Medallion is part of the legendary Spear Of Longinus. According to the Bible, Longinus was a Roman centurion who used a spear to pierce the side of Christ during the Crucifixion. The blood of Christ gave the Spear incredible powers, including the ability to literally rewrite reality. That's some powerful blood!

Steel says that the Legion Of Doom (which is what he calls Darhk, Merlyn and Thawne) need to find the ancient piece of wood to complete the Spear Of Longinus. Once it's complete, they'll be unstoppable.

Darhk and Merlyn use the Medallion to track the Spear to 1967 Los Angeles. They kill several people as they're searching, which creates time aberrations that Gideon detects. She takes the Waverider to 1967 as well.

White Canary, Steel, Atom, Vixen and Jackson search LA for the Spear. They come across a film set, where they see a man who looks amazingly like Rip Hunter, who calls himself Phil Gasmer, and is directing a movie called Legends.

The Legends are amazed to see Rip again, and aren't sure how to proceed. As they watch, Rip takes his friend George Lucas aside and asks him for his advice on the film project. Suddenly Darhk and Merlyn appear, looking for the Spear. The Legends attack in order to save Rip, and chase the villains away. The police arrive and the Legends beat it, before they're detained in the past. George Lucas hides, while Rip's 
arrested by the police.

Back on the Waverider, the Legends wonder why Rip, aka Gasmer, doesn't recognize them. Canary believes Rip has the Spear. She tells Stein that she needs his help to rescue Rip. 

Canary (dressed as a nurse), Stein (dressed as a psychiatrist) and Heat Wave (dressed as the world's scariest orderly) go to the police station and tell the officers that Rip escaped from the mental ward, and they're there to retrieve him. Amazingly the cops buy their ruse. They enter the interrogation room to pick up Rip, but he doesn't recognize any of them and begins screaming. Heat Wave knocks him out and they take him up to the roof.

Darhk and Merlyn show up at the station, looking for Rip and the Spear. They track him to the roof, and find him there with the Legends. Rip wakes up and believes he's hallucinating (I get the feeling he's done some heavy duty drugs during his time in the 1960s). Just then the Waverider appears, causing Rip to pass out. Canary and the others carry him into the ship as it zooms away.

Onboard the ship, Gideon examines Rip and says his brain's been completely reprogrammed, and he's literally now Phil Gasmer. Atom and Stein believe this happened when Rip grabbed the Time Sphere. Gideon says that Rip took the Spear with him before he grabbed the Time Sphere.

Heat Wave uses Gideon's scanner to try and fix his head. She discovers an implant in his brain that was placed there by the Time Masters, back when he became Chronos. Stein theorizes that the implant may be causing Heat Wave to see some kind of "time ghost" of Cold. Sure, sounds reasonable. Heat Wave demands that Stein remove the implant.

Meanwhile, the real plot finally kicks in, halfway through the episode. Vixen notices that ever since the incident at Rip's film set, Atom and Steel are becoming more and more forgetful. Not to mention dumber.

Vixen examines a clapboard they took from Rip's set, and sees the name "G. Lucas" on it. Atom recognizes the name as "George Lucas," but can't remember how he knows it. She has Gideon look him up, and finds he's an insurance salesman in Modesto. She tells Gideon to check for alternate histories (?), and finds that Lucas originally directed a series of influential sci-fi films. 

George Lucas has now become a time aberration without his movies, Atom is never inspired to become a scientist and develop his flight suit, and Steel never becomes a "handsome archaeologist." Vixen and Canary decide they need to find George Lucas and convince him to make movies as he's supposed to.

We then see George Lucas dumping a box of old props down a trash chute (!) as he prepares to leave film school. Apparently his encounter with the Legends and the Legion Of Doom has rattled him so much he's dropping out and heading back home to Modesto. Vixen, Atom and Steel arrive to try and talk him out of leaving. Atom and Steel scare him even further, but Vixen tries sweet-talking him, asking him to think about the millions of people his films will inspire in the future. She tells him he's their only hope (!!).

Back on the Waverider, Jackson reads Rip's movie script, and sees it contains fictionalized versions of the Legends, and the story revolves around them finding pieces of the Spear Of Destiny. He questions Rip about it, who says the script was inspired by an old piece of wood he had. Jackson asks where the wood piece is now, and Rip says he gave it to his prop man, George Lucas.

Meanwhile, Vixen, Atom and Steel escort George Lucas back to film school, to make sure he stays enrolled. Darhk and Merlyn show up again, and have somehow figured out that Lucas has the Spear. They demand he hand it over. He tells them he threw it down the trash chute. They then take George Lucas and the Legends to the city dump, force them into a large trash compactor (?) and tell them to start digging for the Spear. 

Darhk says it's taking to long to find the Spear, so he activates the compactor to "motivate" them. The walls of the trash compactor then begin closing in (!). None of this makes a lick of sense of course, but they wanted a Star Wars reference, so here we are.

George Lucas finds the Spear, and just then the Waverider swoops in, guns blazing. Canary and Jackson jump out and battle Darhk and Merlyn. Rip, alone on the Waverider, tells Gideon that he's just an ordinary guy named Phil Gasmer, and not a hero. Gideon reminds him that Rip Hunter had no superpowers, but was a hero because of his courage.

Vixen, Atom and Steel are still in the trash compactor, helpless to act. They make a last ditch attempt to convince George Lucas to fulfill his destiny and make his movies. They finally get through to him, and suddenly Atom and Steel are restored. Atom's suit reappears, and Steel is able to activate his powers (hmm...).

The Legends escape the trash compactor and help battle the Legion. Suddenly Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, appears and knocks down all the Legends. He starts monologuing, wondering which of them to kill first. Suddenly, Rip Hunter wearing his duster, armed with his laser revolver and sporting his British accent appears, telling the Legion to stand down. He tries to fire at Thawne, but his gun doesn't work (?). The Legion realizes that Rip still isn't himself. 

Rip then orders Gideon to fire. The Waverider blasts away at the Legion, allowing the Legends and George Lucas to jump aboard and escape. Unfortunately in all the confusion, Rip is captured by Thawne, who speeds away with him.

Canary feels guilty for losing Rip, but Jackson reminds her that they now have the complete Spear (which, since there's still a good seven episodes left in the season, they'll no doubt end up trading for Rip's life). He promises Canary that they'll rescue Rip.

Stein removes the implant from Heat Wave's head, but says it's been broken for some time, and couldn't be the cause of his hallucinations. He says Heat Wave is using Cold to second guess his moral obligation to the team. 

Atom and Steel decide to have a "George Lucas Movie Night" to introduce Vixen to the films, since she's from the 1940s and has never seen them. Atom says maybe they ought to be trying to figure out how to rescue Rip instead of watching movies, which is a very valid point. Gideon butts in, and apparently doesn't give two sh*ts about her master, saying Rip would want them to enjoy themselves tonight (!!!). 

Cut to poor Rip, tied up in a room somewhere. Thawne asks him about the Spear Of Destiny, and Rip says he only pretending to be himself earlier, and doesn't know anything about it. Darhk and Merlyn enter the room and prepare to torture him.


• Professor Stein does the opening narration this week.

• Steel decides to call the team of Darhk, Merlyn and Thawne (heh— sounds like a law firm) "The Legion Of Doom," after an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon he liked as a kid. I guess that means the Super Friends show exists in the Arrowverse? It's a fun little line, but it raises a ton of questions.

What would Super Friends be like in a world that's actually populated by superheroes? It'd have to be very different from the show we know. In our world, Captain Cold and Gorilla Grodd were members of the Legion Of Doom. Were they on the show in the Arrowverse as well? Were they cartoon characters before they appeared in the real world? Doubtful!

Additionally, Atom, Firestorm, the Flash, Hawkman and Hawkgirl were all occasional members of the Super Friends. Did they exist in animated form first as well? Did Cisco, The Flash's resident tech guru who likes to name new metahumans, get his inspiration from watching Super Friends as a kid?

• This week the Legends and the Legion Of Doom alike are scrambling to find the Spear Of Destiny, first mentioned a few weeks ago in The Chicago Way. Several things here.

First of all, the wooden component of the Spear looks to be about two feet long at the most. Doesn't seem like much of a "spear" to me. It's more like the Scepter Of Destiny, or the Riding Crop Of Destiny. I guess most of the wood must have rotted away over the past two thousand years.

Second, the Spear was used by a Roman centurion named Longinus to pierce the side of Christ. Steel pronounces "Longinus" as "LON-gin-us." 

Coincidentally, the day after I saw this episode I just happened to watch Hellboy again. In it, Dr. Broom (played by the late, great John Hurt), mentions the Spear Of Longinus! He pronounces the name as "Long-GUY-nus" though. So which pronunciation is right? If I had to pick one, I'd go with John Hurt's pronunciation, since he seems more scholarly and authoritative than Steel.

Thirdly, the presence of the Spear is amazingly appropriate for an episode about George Lucas. Indiana Jones was always chasing after religious relics with supernatural powers, so it fits in perfectly here.

Lastly, we're told the Spear can alter the fabric of reality itself, which is somehow completely different from changing history, in a way I honestly don't understand. I must be missing some subtle piece of logic here, because they sound like the same thing to me.

The writers apparently realized this doesn't make any sense, and try to smooth it over. Atom says, "Well, how is that different from us traveling through time, making changes to history?" Steel says, "Changes to history cause time quakes and aberrations, which we can undo. Changes to reality, however, those are permanent."

Eh, nice try, writers, but they're still the same thing.

• This has nothing to do with the episode, but I'd just like to point out that this is actress Amy Pemberton, the voice of Gideon! Wowza!

• So Rip Hunter is alive and well and directing movies in 1967. He's no longer Rip Hunter though, as touching the Time Drive somehow altered his brain. He now goes by the name of Phil Gasmer (?).

The Arrowverse shows all love to toss in little nods to DC Comics and their creators, so I assumed "Phil Gasmer" was an example of this. I googled the name and came up with nothing, so... if it's supposed to mean something, it's over my head.

Kudos to actor Arthur Darvill as Rip, who does a very convincing American accent as Gasmer.

Legends Of Tomorrow gets meta this week, when Rip disses the actor playing the villain in his movie.

In the episode, Rip, aka Phil Gasmer, is shooting a film called Legends, which is obviously based on the subconscious memories of his adventures. He complains to his prop man George Lucas about the actor playing a thinly-disguised version of Vandal Savage, the big bad from Season 1. Here's the exact exchange:

Rip: (to George Lucas) "What do I do?"
George: "I mean, it wasn't that bad."
Rip: "What? You saw him. I just can't seem to get Peter to bring any menace to the part! I may need to recast."
George: "No, no, no. You don't have time to recast, okay? Your thesis film is due in less than a month."
Rip: "I know, I know, but a film is only as good as its villain, and I have an antagonist who is as threatening as a wiener dog!"

That was definitely a reference to the fact that fans were unhappy with the whole Vandal Savage storyline, and a big swipe at actor Casper Crump, who played him!

It's actually kind of refreshing that the writers are acknowledging their mistake here and owning up to it!

• Man, Matt Angel, the actor playing George Lucas, sports one of the WORST fake beards I've ever seen on a network TV show. It literally looks like a carpet remnant glued to his face.

What the hell happened to the art of wig and beard making? I never noticed horrible hairpieces like this on TV when I was younger. Is it because TV resolution is so much higher now? Have they always looked like this, but we just never noticed it, because we were watching on televisions with four hundred scan lines? Or did everyone in Hollywood suddenly forget how to make convincing wigs?

• I kind of wish we could somehow see Phil Gasmer's Legends movie! It sounds pretty interesting, as it supposedly contains fictional versions of all the characters on the show!

• When the Legends arrive in 1967, then don period clothing (as usual) and search for Rip. Jackson wears black pants and a brown jacket with red trim. It may just be a coincidence, but his outfit looks a lot like the one Finn wears in The Force Awakens.

• I checked, and George Lucas graduated from the UCLA Film School in 1967, at the age of twenty three. So they got that detail right.

By the way, why do the various Legends constantly call George Lucas by his full name all through the episode? It reminded me of the way the Peanuts characters always call Charlie Brown by his full name.

• When George Lucas decides to drop out of film school, Atom and Steel are IMMEDIATELY affected, and begin forgetting all their scientific knowledge. 

The rules of time travel have never been consistently portrayed on this show, but as near as I can tell this is the first time any of the Legends has ever been affected this way. Even when Professor Stein inadvertently caused a previously nonexistent daughter to be born, it took a few weeks before he started experiencing memories of her.

So why are Atom and Steel almost instantly altered by a time change this week? Answer: Because the script needs it to happen that way.

• All through the episode, everyone treats Raiders Of The Lost Ark as if it's one of George Lucas' films. They all seem to forget the fact that it was actually directed by Steven Spielberg. George Lucas didn't even write or produce it— all he did was come up with the story concept, after deciding he wanted to make a big budget version of a 1930's serial.

Yes, it's true that without him Raiders would never have been made, but his role was much smaller than this episode would have us believe.

• Actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers, who plays Vixen, actually has a Star Wars connection. She has a small role in The Force Awakens, playing Korr Sella, a Resistance leader who was on Hosnian Prime when it was blown up real good by Starkiller Base (which everyone all over the galaxy could somehow see by looking up in their respective skies). 

• In this episode we find out that the Time Masters stuck an implant into Heat Wave's brain when they turned him into their enforcer Chronos. Stein theorizes the implant may be what's causing Heat Wave to see visions of Captain Cold.

Ultimately Stein removes the implant and discovers it's been broken for months, making this little subplot completely pointless. Or is it? There's no reason to bring up the implant unless it's going to become much more important later on.

I'm calling it right now this brain implant is how we'll get the real Rip Hunter back. He was a Time Master, so it's likely he also has an implant in his brain. 
I'm betting his consciousness is backed up on that implant, and Gideon will be able to use it to reinstall his original personality.

Of course then we'll have a Tuvix situation on our hands, as that'll mean wiping out poor old Phil Gasmer.

• My favorite part of the episode is when Canary and Jackson are heading off to battle the Legion, and see Stein standing over an unconscious Heat Wave, scalpel in hand. Canary asks, "What the hell are you doing?" Stein replies, "I'm performing brain surgery. What does it look like?" Nonplussed, Canary and Jackson then just keep moving! Haw!

• Since this episode is all about George Lucas and his legacy, it naturally features many Star Wars references. Here are the ones I noticed: 

When Vixen is trying to convince George Lucas to stay in film school, she says, "Look, George, I don't care about movies, but guys like them? They do. So before you get in that car and drive back to Modesto, just think about them, okay? Them, and all the millions of other people that your stories will someday inspire. The future of the entire world is at stake. And you're our only hope." Of course this is a shoutout to Princess Leia's famous line, "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're our only hope."

Darkh and Merlyn force Vixen, Atom, Steel and George Lucas to search through a trash compactor for the Spear Of Destiny. Darhk starts up the compactor to "motivate" them. This of course references the trash compactor scene in Star Wars. They even use a large metal pole to try and stop the walls from closing in! Obviously this real life experience inspired Lucas to write the scene later.

Vixen asks Gideon to pull up George Lucas' file. Gideon reads off his now-altered history, saying, "George Lucas, born in Modesto, California on May 14th, 1944. Named Modesto Hartman's “Insurance Salesman of the Year” in 1977, 1980, and 1983." Note that those are the same years that Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return Of The Jedi came out. Those clever writers!

Near the end of the episode there's a scene that's very similar to one in The Empire Strikes Back. As the Legends run back to the Waverider, Rip Hunter's captured by the Reverse Flash, who zooms away with his captive. Canary sees this and screams Rip's name, as Jackson pulls her back in. This echoes Leia seeing Boba Fett escape with the carbonite-frozen Han Solo. The Waverider then blasts off as the Legion shoots at it, looking very much like Boba Fett's ship Slave 1 hightailing it off of Bespin.

There may well be more Star Wars references, but those are the ones that jumped out at me.

• There were lots of fun lines this week as well:

Vixen: "I can’t believe we’re all going to die because of a stupid movie.”

Malcolm Merlyn: "About time you showed."
Damien Darhk: "Where were you?"
Eobard Thawne: "Always busy, gentlemen, and yet never late." (Speedster humor!)

Vixen: "Gideon thinks that the Legion's attack on Mr. Hunter's film set caused this George Lucas guy to quit movie making. As a result, he never made some movie about space battles or another one about an improbably handsome archaeologist."

Canary: "And we care about this because...?"
Gideon: "In the unaltered timeline, Dr. Palmer sees Star Wars as a child, and is inspired to become an inventor. Likewise, Dr. Heywood chooses to be a historian after seeing Indiana Jones instead of becoming a yoga instructor. 
Steel: "Oh, man."
Canary: "Wait, so you're telling me that because some film geek drops out of school, my inventor and my historian are now essentially useless?"

George Lucas: “You guys are from the future? That you’ve somehow seen a bunch of movies that I haven’t even made?” 

Vixen: “Well actually I’m from the past but that’s beside the point.”

Vixen: (as the gang tries to decide which George Lucas film to watch first on movie night)
 “Wait, this one sounds cute. It’s called Howard The Duck."
Atom and Steel: "NO!!!"
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter