Things are still hotting up with Wonder Woman's movie world. As well as another shiny new Wonder Woman toy - the box shot says nu52, the outfit says Batman v Superman…
…there have been a few set photos confirming that some of the action (barring some form of war recreation society, etc) of Wonder Woman will be set during World War I.
Meanwhile, last week was the usual monthly Wonder Woman week in the comics, with both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman hitting the stands. Also out was the latest The Legend of Wonder Woman, which teams up with Wonder Woman to present us with the message that both war and War are good.
Meanwhile, what's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster?
No, it's Brian Azzarello teaming up with Frank Miller to give us the not especially awaited sequel to the originally much anticipated but eventually much reviled sequel to the seminal The Dark Knight Returns. Yes, Azz has got his hands on Wondy again. What's he going to do with her this time?
It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.
The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.
All these new shows coming out at the same time is not very helpful. Even with Thanksgiving in the US knocking a whole bunch of shows out of action, I haven't got further than the first episode of The Man In The High Castle, and the Black Friday dumping of WE TV's South of Hell means I haven't watched any of it. I also haven't had a chance to watch last night's Doctor Who and The Bridge. Oh well.
I might discuss this phenomenon more on Monday.
But this week, I did watch the first episode of The Art of More(US: Crackle) and review the entire first season of Jessica Jones (Netflix), which ain't bad. And after the jump, I'll be reviewing the latest episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead, Blindspot, Grandfathered, Into The Badlands, Legends,Limitless and Supergirl, as well as last weekend's episodes of Doctor Who and The Bridge.
I also watched the first episode of another new show.
Chicago Med (US: NBC) A spin-off from Chicago PD which itself was a spin-off from Chicago Fire, this hospital procedural from the Dick Wolf school of entirely predictable institution-revering has already had a backdoor pilot in Chicago Fire and now it's heading off all by itself. I barely need to describe the set-up - it's an emergency department, in which very poor character actors turn up each week pretending to be ill, so that various medical professionals can work their hardest to defeat the system, cure whatever illnesses they have and show how damn awesome they are, without having to fill out a single form or charge a dime.
Surprisingly, every illness also presents an Important Moral Issue - here's a surrogate mother who signed a contract giving medical attorneyship to the parents of the baby… except now she needs an operation to save her life that might kill the baby! What choice will the parents make and how will it affect the Pregnant Doctor?
As well as the cameos from Chicago Fire cast members, including David Eigenberg who's now done all three shows, we have a regular bunch of competitive doctors, all trying to out-awesome each other. Central to all this is newbie Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlin from Arrow), who's just so awesome, although his 'fluent Spanish' seems to consist mainly of speaking Spanish for two sentences with someone who only speaks Spanish before switching back into English to force them to carry on falteringly in English, too. There's also Oliver Platt and S Epatha Merkerson, Laurie Holden having jumped ship twixt pilot and series. There's also a bunch of young 'uns whose job is to be rubbish so they can be told what to do by Team Awesome and some honourary members of Team Awesome, who we're supposed to think are awesome, but who largely patronise and interrupt their patients, rather than listen to them.
Probably the best thing about it, about from a thoroughly entertaining cameo by Rahm Emmanuel to open the new ED, is that it's thoroughly ludicrous, with Donnell rescuing everyone in a crash on The Loop and then sewing stitches into his own arm, to show how awesome he is, despite being surrounded by an entire team of trained nurses and doctors, all of whom have two working hands and aren't in a lot of pain. It's also reasonably likeable, unlike 'Dick Central', aka Code Black. Otherwise, utterly generic, which seems to be NBC new policy - to be fair, it also seems to be working for them.
I also watched a movie:
Ant-Man (2015) (iTunes) The latest Marvel movie continues efforts to raid the B-team of characters, here with Paul Rudd playing the titular Ant-Man. He's a social justice warrior sent to prison for burgling big companies, and comes out unable to get a job. Fortunately, former 1980s Ant-Man Michael Douglas's slightly mental pupil is trying to create an army based on Douglas' shrinking technology, so Douglas enlists Rudd to steal the technology back and make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. This is despite having a daughter (Evangeline Lilly from Lost and The Hobbit movies) who's so much more qualified for the job than Rudd, she has to spend the entire movie teaching him what to do.
The film is somewhat unusual in being one long heist movie, albeit involving a criminal who can shrink in size and enlist ants to do his bidding. It also eschews some of the standard Marvel tropes, in having a relatively sedate Big Battle at the end, one that's played for laughs and which rapidly and even more unusually turns into the final act of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Most of this oddness can probably be laid at the door of the movie's original director, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim, Spaced), who was ejected from the project for creative differences, and while replacement director Payton Reed doesn't do a bad job, Ant-Man is a bit too ordinary in its ordinariness, right down to removing all the references to the superhero's dumb name that were interspersed throughout the trailers.
For Marvel fans, there's plenty of cameos and references to both the other movies and the comics, but this feels like a somewhat ordinary addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one that could quite easily have been a Black Widow movie to greater effect.
As Powersand Yahoo's resurrection of Community recently showed us, the arrival of Netflix and Amazon Instant Video on the scene has forced those Internet TV providers who were formerly happy to simply chuck out short-form webisodes to leave that profitless game to YouTube and move into long-form. Crackle is the latest to join their ranks thanks to The Art of More, in which former US soldier Christian Cooke (epic sh*tfests ITV's Demonsand Starz's Magic City) manages to parlay his skills in looting Iraqi art museums into a legit job at a posh auction house run by Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride).
Groomed (in all senses of the word, probably even the horsey ones) by Elwes to be a proper sophisticate who can tie an Oxford knot, the high-flying Cooke's world starts to fall apart quicker than you can say, "Lady Jane! Tinker! We need a divvy!", when one of his former Iraqi comrades sneaks into the US, bringing with him more dodgy pickings and threatening to expose Cooke's sordid past. Things aren't helped any for Cooke by the presence on the scene of art collector and wannabe politician Dennis Quaid (Vegas), the proud possessor of 'f*ck off money', and Cooke's rival Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns), both of whom want to give him a good kicking but for different reasons.
All of which might be interesting if movie-length and chopped up into Crackle-sized 15 minute episodes. It's certainly got good production values, has a good fight scene and could easily pass for a TNT show if you didn't know better.
The trouble is that it's 10x45m episodes. Even one was hard-going, because it's not a well written show. You're not going to learn anything about art, business, politics or anything much else from it. Scenes designed to make characters seem like they know something about art read like they've been cramming Wikipedia a few moments earlier.
The characters are also utterly unengaging. Cooke is not someone you especially want to route for in pretty much anything he does, but here he's playing someone who loots museums of their precious treasures so that rich people can keep them to themselves. He's also deploying his annoying American accent.
Elwes* at least gets to be English, but while his lips may be mouthing atrocious dialogue, his eyes are screaming "Here are the details of my bank account for your wire transfer." You can only feel sorry for him in this.
Bosworth's character is almost a relic from the 80s. She's the kind of female high-flyer who's continual outfoxed by the hero and has no tangible skills. She doesn't even get any screentime or scenes in which she could ever reveal she had the skills claimed for her, because the show's all about the annoying Cooke. But just as in the 80s everyone knew that was very un-PC, someone male has to explain every five minutes just how awesome she is and how she definitely didn't sleep her way to the top… yes, I am sleeping with her but she definitely got to that position… no, her position… no! her job!… through sheer talent. How dare you think otherwise?
Quaid? He thinks he's Robert de Niro in Casino or Michael Douglas in Wall Street. He's actually closer to Alan Sugar in The Apprentice.
Direction is pedestrian. Editing is jarring - it sometimes feels like you've missed something vital. I blinked and nine months disappeared just like that. Plotting generally revolves around something looking like a better movie you once saw and the show hoping you fill in the gaps using that movie, instead of whatever's actually on-screen.
Still, it's free, provided you register for a Crackle account and live in the US, so criticising it too much is a bit churlish. All the same, I won't be bothering to click the link for episode 2 anytime soon. There's Man In the High Castle to watch instead.
Here's a trailer. Weirdly, I was even more bored by the end of it than at the end of the first episode. I wonder if Crackle's short-form stuff is even worse…
* For transparency's sake, I'll point out that Elwes is a distant relative of mine. I'm pretty sure it didn't influence my review of this, but you must decide that for yourselves
It's basically The Avengers 2.5, with a full set of superheroes except this time there's no external enemy so they're fighting each other instead. Which looks very, very cool. Even Black Panther's turned up for this one.
Given the Russo Brothers are directing The Avengers 3 and 4, too, I think they're going to be something to look forward to indeed.
When superhero comic books first became popular in the 20th century, it was largely because they were fantasies. Male fantasies for boys. Superman may have been a fantasy of immigration, but it was also about a mild-mannered man who could never reveal his all-conquering power to anyone, not even the woman he loved from afar. Of course, if she knew what he was really like, then she'd fall into his arms without a moment's hesitation.
Batman? A boy orphaned by crime who devotes himself to destroying those who would make him feel frightened. The Hulk? A 'milksop' scientist with a terrible temper that others better not unleash by bullying him. Spider-man? A nerdy boy with pretty much the same issues as Superman. Captain America? A man who could defeat the Nazis while remaining true and good and honourable.
You get the picture. Lots and lots of power fantasies for lonely boys.
Superheroines took a while to appear and represented different kinds of fantasy. The first, Wonder Woman, was originally intended as both a male and female fantasy - a precursor to a better, future, female-dominated world, with Wonder Woman an icon of feminine power that women could embrace and men could accept. But with a slightly kinky subtext and male authors, her popularity often stemmed from… other sources. Future superheroines didn't fare much better, and frequently fared much worse.
Which meant for decades, many girls and women found comic books to be female-unfriendly areas that were practically a panopticon of the male gaze. There were plenty who became involved or who became readers, but they were the exceptions. And although male authors came along who tried to make female characters less fantasies than they had been before, that was pretty much the rule.
That was even the case when comic books started being adapted into movies. Think Sue Storm perpetually having to disrobe in the street in Fantastic Four. Think Black Widow in lingerie shots in Iron Man 2. That Wonder Woman movie? Only just being made, just as we're about to get our third series of Batman and Superman movies in the past 40 years. And try to find superheroine merchandise from those movies for your daughters if you dare.
But the times have been a changing, of course. Have a look on Facebook and you'll discover that more than 50% of the people who identify as comic book fans are women. And while only 3% of the people who'll step into a comic book store are women, more than half of those who read digital comics are women.
Marvel, of course, has been doing rather well at the movie with its comic book adaptations. However, it's got considerable stick over the years for not giving any superheroines their own movies - particularly Black Widow. Now that's changing, with a Captain Marvel movie due… in 2019, a full 11 years after Iron Man came out.
On TV, of course, we've already had Marvel's Agent Carter, except she's not a superheroine, per se. But finally, we have our first, fully fledged superheroine TV show, the second of this year's Marvel's Netflix 'Defenders' shows following Daredevil - Jessica Jones. And what's interesting about Jessica Jones is that despite being based on a character and a story created by two men, I think what we have is the first instance of an on-screen superheroine who's there for a female audience and who's a female fantasy.
Or should that be nightmare? It could be both. After all, it's got David Tennant in it.
As with last week, most excitement for our Amazon Queen stemmed from movie news. But fashion got a look in, too, funnily enough.
We started by getting our first glimpse of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman, courtesy of Gadot herself.
The observant will note the presence of Big Ben in the background. Whether that's simply because that's where Wonder Woman will be fighting a wartime menace (Ares, the Nazis, AN Other baddie) or because this is the incorporation of the nu52 orthodoxy that Diana lives in London in modern times, I can't say - I suspect we'll have to wait until the movie is released.
Principal photography is underway on Warner Bros. Pictures’ Wonder Woman feature film, the highly anticipated action adventure from director Patty Jenkins (“Monster,” AMC’s “The Killing”), starring Gal Gadot (the “Fast & Furious” movies) in the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. The character will make her big screen debut this spring in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” but the new film will mark her first time headlining a feature.
The film also stars Chris Pine (the “Star Trek” films) as Captain Steve Trevor, Robin Wright (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Netflix’s “House of Cards”), Danny Huston (“Clash of the Titans,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), David Thewlis (the “Harry Potter” films, “The Theory of Everything”), Ewen Bremner (“Exodus: Gods and Kings,” “Snowpiercer”), Saïd Taghmaoui (“American Hustle”), Elena Anaya (“The Skin I Live In”) and Lucy Davis (“Shaun of the Dead”).
The film is being produced by Charles Roven, Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder, with Richard Suckle, Stephen Jones, Wesley Coller, Geoff Johns and Rebecca Roven serving as executive producers.
Joining Jenkins behind the camera are director of photography Matthew Jensen (“Chronicle,” “Fantastic Four,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), Oscar-nominated production designer Aline Bonetto (“Amélie,” “A Very Long Engagement,” “Pan”), and Oscar-winning editor Martin Walsh (“Chicago,” “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” “V for Vendetta”), and Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming (“The Dark Knight” trilogy, “Topsy-Turvy”).
Principal photography will take place on location in the UK, France and Italy.
Set to open in 2017, the Wonder Woman feature film is based on characters created by William Moulton Marston, appearing in comic books published by DC Entertainment. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
Of course, this isn't the first effort to get Wonder Woman onto the big screen, although it's certainly the most successful. One previous effort was George Miller's Justice League: Mortal, which was to feature Megan Gale as Wonder Woman. And it's been revealed this week that she would have looked like this:
Of course, there was also an earlier attempt by one Mr Joss Whedon to develop a Wonder Woman movie. That got as far as a script and if you happen to be in Manhattan Beach, California, on December 5, you can watch the whole thing performed in costume. Maybe.
But back in the comic book world, last week, things were looking a little better for our Wondy with two appearances, which we'll be perusing after the jump: DC Bombshells #18 and The Legend of Wonder Woman #2.
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events, competitions and even weekly reviews of Wonder Woman comics, and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Barrometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.