Everyone really hates Transformers: age of extinction

Maybe two posts in a row about a shitty movie is a bit obsessive, but every where I look online people are bashing the shit out of the movie. Many hate it way more than I do, which I think is unfair. It’s not straight up awful or unwatchable, but it is universally not good. Usually when you have a movie that isn’t that good you will have a mix of people who either hate it, kind of like it, or are just like “meh, whatever”. Age of Extinction however seems to have no “kind of likes it” and the “Mehs” have been replaced with “ugghhh whatever”.

 

This movie has scored so poorly on sites like rotten tomatoes because I think it has found some kind of weird magic formula to get it right in that sweet spot where no one would rate it as an F but no one would rate it above a D+. To put it simply, it’s the Jeff George of Movies. It has a ton of potential and few moments that are pretty good, but as a whole it is generally regarded as a massive disappointment that lasted way way too long.

 

He played or at the very least practiced with at least 9 different NFL teams.

Since I can’t stop thinking about this movie, I decided to do two things in this post. First I’m going to try and predict some of the sins that Cinemasins is going to queue in on. Second I’m going to try and come up with a somewhat cohesive plot for the next movie. The second one is going to be a big challenge since this latest movie ended where they have to have a sequel… but it’s not in anyway obvious what that sequel could even entail.

 

Ok first let’s list the sins (and for the record I’m not really into Cinemasins that much and much rather prefer HowItShouldHaveEnded.com or HonestTrailers.)

 

These are in no particular order

  1. Mark Whalberg criticizes an Irish guy for not sounding like he is from Texas while at the same time having absolutely no hint of a Texas accent despite growing up in a rundown Texas town.
  2. Optimus Prime straight up murders a human. Yeah the human was bad and was maybe about to shoot another good human but… well I just don’t remember Optimus shooting holes in the chest of bad guy humans in the cartoons.
  3. The dino bots are slaves or something. They make reference to the fact that they have a legendary origin but never actually reveal what that origin was.
  4. Mark Whalberg’s daughter almost gets alien tentacle sexually assaulted in what I’m guessing was an attempt to bring in a certain Japanese fan base… well and American and German and pretty much any fan base that is into weird Anime shit.
  5. Movie builds up a big confrontation between Bumble Bee and a new transformer that is supposed to be an upgrade of him, and then may or may not have had the fight take place super quickly. There are like 20 new desepticons that all kind of look alike, which is all similar to this evil bumble bee, so I’m not sure if that guy is still alive for the next movie or if bumble bee just dispatched him kind of nonchalantly.
  6. Love interest for Mark Whalber’s daughter is 20, and she’s only 17 in the movie, so they actually have a discussion where the boyfriend cites the Texas statute regarding the Romeo and Julliet law were pre adult relationship are ok if it continues after one of the couple becomes an adult but the other is still a minor. Instead of detailing why it’s not illegal, but just kind of icky for the audience to think about, how about you just make both of them 18. Seriously, nothing was added by revealing that at some point they started out dating when he was a senior and she was a sophomore in high school. Fucking weird.
  7. When the CIA inspects the barn looking for Optimus they give up almost immediately even as they walk across a pile of randomly placed wooden planks that is clearly covering a massive basement opening just big enough for a giant robot alien to hide in. There are even fairly large gaps in the coverage of the makeshift flooring that any one of the CIA guys could just shine a light down, without even needing to bend over, and could easily see Optimus’ giant metal dome.
  8. Transformium

    A google image search for the word “transformium” brought up this picture of Whalberg’s hot underage daughter standing in front of an American flag, which is soooo Michael Bay

  9. There are three new Autobots in this movie that for some reason never decided to help out in any of the three previous movies from what I can remember. One of which smokes a cigar even though he is a robot who can’t possibly have lungs. Another one is bipolar and keeps changing his mind if he even wants to fight or help the humans and autobots. The last of these autobots is basically a robot samurai warrior. Why? Just.. Why?
  10. At the very end of the movie we see that Optimus prime can fly. Like he can even fly out into outer space. He has apparently had rocket thruster somethings in his legs this whole time. Lets pretend he only got them for this movie, there are literally dozens of instances where he could have used them throughout the movie. In fact a major part of the last half hour of the movie is spent trying to get a bomb out of a major city when instead we could just have Optimus say “Wait why are we running and driving everywhere with that super dangerous bomb when I could totally just fly it out of the city really quick. Or better yet let’s just have this bipolar autobot transform into a helicopter like he did in the beginning the movie and have him fly it out.”
  11. No stinger after the credits, or mid credits. There’s almost no excuse not to do one anymore. It wouldn’t even need to tease the next movie it could have just been a dumb comic relief BS thing. The movie is 160+ minutes which is too long for a dumb Michael bay transformers movie. They could have just removed one of the comic relief scenes and stuck it at the end as a way of rewarding everyone who sat through the credits for nothing.

 

There’s so many more but I’m getting angry typing them all out.

 

So on to phase two of this post; what should the plot of the next movie be? That is kind of difficult because the end of this movie was very different than the previous three where in each one the good guys won but a bad guy or two survived and ran away and you knew they could just be the bad guy stirring up shit again in the next movie. This movie does have that with Megatron now being turned into Galvatron and just walking away from all the fighting at the end of this movie.

 

The problem is that this movie also has Optimus pulling a Poochie and just flying off to space because his people need him. Ok it’s not exactly like Poochie but at some point the evil… not really decepticon that was helping the evil CIA guy tells prime that everything has a creator, and the creator of the transformers is pissed about them mixing the species…. Lets stop right here. I know I’m not getting the wording exact, but I know when I watched the movie it really sounded like the bad guy who I guess was basically a transformers version of Bobba Fett, said that the creators didn’t like how the Autobots were intermingling with other species and that shit was never suppose to go down and that the creators want prime back.

 

Holy shit, this actually exists.

I’ll be honest, that scene kind of gave me a super creepy racist anti interracial feel to it. I couldn’t tell if maybe the bad guy meant there were different types of transformers, you know white transformer (optimus), black transformers (Jazz), and even asian transformers (that samuri transformer I mentioned before) and that the creators (god… maybe the transformers in heaven from Rise of the Fallen) didn’t like that they were hanging out together and maybe making transformer babies. Or maybe they were implying that transformers shouldn’t be hanging out with humans, or maybe even that the creators thought that once gay marriage on earth was legalized that it would lead to people marrying animals and people bonning transformers. Maybe the creator is Rick Santorum.

 

So once Prime has finished killing the bad … I guess he wasn’t a decepticon but like his own thing, ok so cyber Fett as I’ll call him, Optimus kills him, remembers after 4 movies that he can fly without a jet pack, grabs the Transformium bomb, and flies off into space while broadcasting a message to his creators that they should leave earth alone and that he is coming for them.

 

So there’s a bunch of problems with this. 1. He didn’t even know “Creators” existed before this movie, but now he is going to just fly off into space and find them even though he has no clues at all as to where to find them. Also why didn’t he take Cyber Fett’s space ship. I don’t remember it getting shot down or anything, and I think it is still just floating up there. Maybe Prime really can fly all over the universe by himself, but maybe the ship would have clues as to where to head. Just maybe.

 

The next movie has three options. It can either split the movie between Prime’s space adventure where he just goes planet to planet and asks the people there if they are his creator, and the other half is spent on earth with the remaining autobots fighting Galvatron. They could do a movie where it almost exclusively follows Optimus on his quest to find and kills his creators. Lastly they could ignore the Optimus space adventure and have a new leader (Ultra Magnus, Rodimus Prime??) fight Galvatron / save the world.

 

Fuck Yes

Ok I’m sure there is a fourth option where they just ignore this most recent movie and put in a throw away line from Optimus where he’s like, “Whewwwww, killing the creators was tought but I’m just glad it didn’t take to long. Welp, looks like we need to save the earth again from the Decepticons.” I’m honestly guessing they do something like that, but I think I would prefer the 2nd or 3rd option especially if this is part of a trilogy where they can just tease the other story line and the next movie and the 3rd movie has them back together.

 

I think the most bad ass version of what they could do for the next movie is have Optimus do all the space stuff, maybe fight Unicron, and then when victorious, return home all planet of the Apes style and find out that Galvatron has taken over the world setting up the final movie. They won’t do this.

 

Bonus points if you get the references in the top portion.

My second idea would be to have the corporation figure out how to make the new transformers, and we can have Hot Rod and Ultra Magnus or Wheel Jack, or who ever, and then have them fight Galvatron, while you get a few snippets where Optimus is doing his space thing. Maybe highlight the dichotomy between the peacfullness of Optimus in space and the chaotic fighting on earth. Then have that movie end with Optimus crashing back to earth to warn that Unicron is coming. Look I obviously really want to see unicron. Or maybe have Optimus get in over his head and all the god guys on earth take off to help him / fight Unicron.

 

How about a combination of those two? So galvatron is lying low while he plots his revenge, and Optimus is zeroing in on the creators, when his transmissions back to earth are cut off. All the autobots are worried about optimus and decide to fly off to rescue him, and after they do that, they come back and galvatron has taken over the earth? Meh. Sounds kind of lame now that I think about it because although that planet of the apes style return would be cool, what would the final movie really be about. Maybe it would work better if they fought Galvatron first and then went to help Prime at the end. You want to end big… With Unicron. It’s always about Unicron.

One of the problems with the Unicron/Optimus Space Adventure hour, is that you still have to shoe horn in humans. If humans aren’t in danger of dying than does the audience really care if a bunch of alien robots kill each other? Granted in the cartoon movie you cared about the autobots, but can you say the same thing about the general modern movie audience. Have they invested enough time into Optimus and Bumble Bee to really root for them to not die if human lives aren’t at stake? I don’t know. Obviously you could just tie in whatever Optimus is working on to earth’s survival. Maybe Unicron is coming for earth all Galactus Smoke Monster Space Cloud style (god damn that movie) or maybe the space Creators/Santorums hate the earth’s temerity at having created their own transformers, and they are headed to earth to stop us from becoming creators.

 

Nerd Sploosh

That leads me into the big question. Do the transformers have souls. In the movie there is a general consensus amongst the good guys that they do in fact have a soul, which would imply that you can’t simply just build a transformer but it needs to be created via something out side of our abilities. Megatron became galvatron because they used Megatrons head and brain and that is why his soul is in his new body I guess. So are all the decepticons in this most recent movie just slaves of Galvatron’s will working off his commands, or did they each have their own soul? That is never really addressed as far as I could tell. Granted none of the created deceptions except for Galvatron ever talk, so I’m leaning towards those decepticons just being soulless machines.

 

Maybe the final movie could tie in the previous ones by having all of these soulless transformers gain sentience when Optimus gives up his life to help create life/souls for these empty transformers. I can’t even remember what happen to the last shard of the matrix of leadership or the all spark, but maybe the “Prime” in optimus prime relates back to him being capable of creating, or being a source of life, the original, the O.G.

Look here is the plot:

  • Optimus is in space and finds some clues on the now deserted planet of Cybertron where he finds a small handful of transformers that can be sold separately during a black Friday sales.
  • Back on earth Galvatron uses the few remaining soulless decepticons under his control to steal the machinery needed to create more soulless decepticons. During the raid he finds the head of Soundwave, try and be subtle about the discovery.
  • Human bull shit with attractive teenagers that are sweaty shot near wheat fields at golden hour with an American flag blowing proudly in the gentle middle American breeze.
  • USA government/Autobot communicating with prime via deep space something or other. We see Prime has arrived on another planet where there is an ancient library or some shit where you learn more about the creators, maybe hint that all life in our galaxie comes from the same source.. nah drop that, it would piss of religious people.
  • Human good guys working with autobots try to stop Galvatron again as he steals more tech, and the realize that he is trying to make an army or soulless deceptions’. We get exposition where we find out that the company Stanley Tucci is CEO of can totally make transformers but they have no souls.
  • Galvatron partners with the leader of some fictitious evil nation, maybe African, nah, lets go eastern European, to get intel on where the location of the only known major supply of Transformium is… and that this guy knows the actual scientific name of the element which could just be something like Furhman-32P.
  • Prime and his new buddies land on a giant metal planet and start to look around. It’s all ancient and shit.
  • Human bull shit love story no one cares about. Maybe throw in some lazy racism like in all the other movies but have it be delivered by robots so it feels somehow less racist.
  • Galvatron and his lackeys attack the deposit of Transformium, but it turns out it was a trap set by the autobots/usa/that nation we thought was nation but even they knew not to trust Galvatron.
  • Pew pew Boom Kablammm craaassshhh cruuush keeerrrrrrppoooommm. Pow pow EXPLOSIONSSSSSSS
  • Galvatron escapes but barely, maybe good guys think he’s dead. He could use one of the random soulless decepticons as a decoy by reforming their body to look like his when a big explosion goes off. Maybe don’t reveal that and let audience think he’s dead. Maybe have Galvatron take the form of one of the tanks that was there to kill him.
  • Human bull shit love whatever
  • Optimus gets deep space message that Galvatron is dead, he’s happy but a beat late some automated defense bull shit attacks him and the other last remaining sons of Cybertron. One of which dies.
  • We see the USA/Autobots are gearing up to hunt down the last known decepticon that is hiding out… someplace, who cares, make it far away and remote. Lets make it that bad guy that bumblebee should have fought before. But lets put sound wave into his body.
  • While that awesome fight is going on we see that they have transported galvaton in tank form to where the other military stuff was sent to protect the Transformium deposit. Don’t actually need to show Galvatron steal it since the logistics could be kind of daunting depending on how much he is stealing.
  • Cut back to prime who is getting grilled by that floating head tribunal ting from the cartoon that currently has him held captive on the metal planet. Have prime give a speech about fee will or hope or humanity or something while showing the battle vs. shockwave, a scientist scanning the “dead” galvatron that reverts back to it’s original random deception form, then an autobot on earth gets mortally wounded, maybe bumble bee, and then military watching a live feed of Galvatron fucking shit up by the Transformium deposit. Prime gets loose frees his buddies while fighting the robot tribunal probably says something about the darkness before the dawn.
  • The rest of the autobots and humans ralley to defeat sound wave who has been crazy awesome thanks to… wait did soundwave ever fight in the previous movies or was he just up in space attached to a satalite? You know what, I change my mind, I want to replace soundwave with Starscream because you know Megatron wouldn’t have a problem with sacrificing him in order to get the Transformium, and let have that scene where he finds shockwaves head actually be where he finds all the body parts of his fallen comrades from the previous movies which would infuriate him like human’s were keeping it as trophies or science experiements. Also Star Scream was a bad ass in the first movie but lets have two of the soulless decepticons fuse with him to make Bruticus (look the 2nd transformers movie already fucked up Devastator) so it’s realistic that it would take all the good guys to beat just him.

    Why do the Decepticons have way more awesome names.

  • Prime bests the tribunal thing and it sets off a self distruct or some such thing that will blow up the metal planet. They race to get off the planet, and when they do prime finds out that bumble bee is dying and that galvatron has the transformium and everything is shit so he’s like “punch it” and they speed off back to earth to save the day.
  • Autobots on earth are recovering after finally defeating Star scream (maybe have dino bots return to help defeat Brutalicus) and bumble bee is dying, and Prime is flying through space saying “hold on old friend”. Before the credits start or just after they start we see Galvatron and Soundwave (who actually looks somewhat like him) standing over the soulless decepticon army.
  • After credits we see the wrecked remains of the metal planet after it has cracked in half/blown up, whatever, and from mists of the wreckage something starts to take form and it’s a huge fucking GoBot.. nah kidding, it’s Unicron and we discover that planet was actually his jail I guess. Now Unicron is headed for earth.
  • Next movie would be prime and the good guys using the Galvatron method to bring Bumble Bee back to life and we discover that there is a hall of fallen hero Autobots and they take soulless good guy autobots and put ratchet and Jazz and Ironhide and bring whoever else back. They are going to fight Galvatron and his massive mostly soulless army, and they do but then Unicron is discovered and you hear “You got the touch” as optimus gives souls to all the soulless decepticons, who can totally choose to be good, and they all fight Unicron. Ok this 2nd movie thin I didn’t really think through that much and it’s apparent I’m running on fumes at this point.

What the fuck am I doing? I’ve just spent more time thinking about the plot and motivations behind a transformers movie than I think Michael Bay ever did on this last movie. This was a fun exercise but I think it’s verging on becoming sad, and by “verging” I mean “blown way past that point 2 thousand words ago.”

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Transformers: A shitty movie gets a shitty review

Holy shit is Transformers Age of Extinctions bad.

 

Granted I don’t think it is as bad as Transformers Dark of the Moon, but it may be a little worse than Rise of the fallen. The problem with this latest incarnation of the Transformers franchise is that given the cast, given the time off between this and the last film, given the potential for a clean slate, you kind of thought going in that this movie was going to correct a lot of the problems that existed with the last couple of movies.

 

Well it didn’t. Like at all. If the previous three movies hadn’t existed maybe you wouldn’t notice and take umbrage with all the classic Michael Bay things that are almost at the point of self parody. Let’s go through the list.

 

  • Over the top explosions that never seem to hurt a main character = check (mostly)
  • Hot actors who are constantly sweaty and covered in little smudges of dirt/grease = check
  • Paper thin plot that completely disregards the previous films = check
  • Classic Transformers characters introduced in a way that might look cool but has almost no resemblance to the original cartoon so many people love = check
  • Robots that are simplistic racial stereotypes despite being aliens from another planet = check
  • No still shots from a camera, and many scenes shot at weird angles for almost no reason = check
  • A complete over estimate of how much punishment the human body can take from debris, crashing through structures, and being hit by giant pieces of metal = double check
  • Almost comical product placements = check… OMG check
  • So many American flags that you kind of get why other countries hate up = check
  • Movie leads to an overly snarky and possibly unfair review by Mike Johnson = check

 

I could go on, but let’s look at that last one real quick. Yes, it’s easy to shit on Michael Bay films now, but I do kind of root for him none the less. First off he is making these movies for a world wide audience, and that probably means that at times you have to make a product a little less linear and a little more disjointed. The action is as always, very intense and might even be getting better with each new movie. The actors are good, even if the dialog is regrettable at times and their personalities are all over the map from one scene to the next. The scenes are beautiful even if you kind of get tired of constantly seeing only golden hour shots.

 

That brings me to what I think is the real problem with this and most of these Transformers movies. It has a terrible sense of balance. Yes you can do a slow motion running shot, but only once in a movie, not four or five times almost at random. Sure you can/should show an American flag blowing in a patriotic breeze, but why do it more than once. Doing it three more times doesn’t add anything to the movie. Worse yet there are times when a character will do something, well, out of character that either results in something cool/funny/awesome happening. While it might be excusable to do it once or twice because the pay off out weighs the moment of “why did our hero just try to give up like a coward” felt by the audience, the law of diminishing returns takes over where the audience starts to fixate on these breaks from internal logic and ignores the funny or awesome thing that just happened.

 

Remember in The Empire Strikes Back when Han and Leia and Chewie are hiding in the Asteroid field and at the same time Luke is training on Degobah. Well when you watch the movie you don’t really notice that they make it seem like Luke is training for days or weeks, while Han and company seem to only be on that giant asteroid/space worm food for a few hours. Because the rest of the movie is so tight, you barely notice stuff like that and even if you do notice it, you dismiss it as an aberration.

 

I’ll give you a specific instance of this in Age of Extinction. So they reveal this massive corporation is manufacturing their own transformers, and in order to do this they have discovered an element that is what the transformers are comprised of and it actually exists in rare quantities on Earth. The one lab scientist calls it “Transformium”. Obviously anyone who has seen Avatar had a hard time not groaning at this, and those that never saw Avatar had a hard time not groaning at this. My problem and point with this example is that half a beat later the lab tech and the CEO of the company have a quick back and forth about the market testing on the name “Transformium” that shows its popular in such and such demographic or whatever.

 

In another movie this one scene may have worked since they kind of explained why the name is so awful, and actually would be kind of taking a shot at Avatar. The company building these knock off transformers seems totally obsessed with image and licensing so the name really does work in context, cause you could imagine a mega corporation who names things by committee would come up with something that awful. Since the movie has been dog shit up to this point and everyone in the movie talks and acts like they have a super powered strain of ADHD, you can’t tell that the name is tongue and cheek, and not the name a writer came up with as everyone applauded him for the “totally science sounding name brah.”

 

If you want an example that more closely mirrors the Star Wars ESB time inconsistency, well there is plenty of those as well. Probably the worse is when the following series of events takes place.

  1. Mark Whalberg with no hint of a Texas accent tells an almost non functional Optimus Prime that he can fix him.
  2. He tells his assistant/partner (former CEO of Aviato, 10% partner of Pied Piper.com) to go into town and get a bunch of supplies, which is hilarious since just a few scenes earlier they are bitching about how none of them have any money to pay the electricity bill, let alone pay for parts to fix a sentient alien war machine.
  3. Optimus has a heart to heart with Whalberg about… who cares, I guess he wanted to know why he was helping Optimus.
  4. Kelsey Grammar and the CIA, who are straight up evil in this movie, get a tip about Optimus in Texas and dispatch a strike force to take them down.
  5. A decepticon climbs a wheat tower so he can.. I guess observe/sharp shoot optimus even though you can’t tell if the decepticon is even in the same state.
  6. The assistant returns with a small box of supplies one uses when fixing a transformer. (five and six might be switched, I can’t remember)
  7. The government rolls up in black SUVs and at puts a gun to Mark’s daughter’s head as Optimus hides in the barn’s basement.

 

Here’s the thing about all that stuff above, I, and I think several other people seated near me, had no idea how much time passed during the course of those 7 things. It could have been 2 hours, or a week. It was painfully unclear. There is a brief moment where it looks like it might be night when the evil CIA people first get in their SUVs, but I couldn’t be sure since every outdoor scene takes place right around either sunset or sunrise.

 

The fact that the assistant just returned with the supplies makes it seem like it was only a couple hours, but the daughter asks him what took him so long and he mumbles something about getting his head checked out by a doctor since Optimus clocked him a few scenes earlier, so maybe a day. Optimus still looks exactly the same, all beat up and beleaguered, so maybe a couple hours or a day, but when the fighting starts he seems like he is back to normal and even scans another big rig so he can take on a sleek new look and the subject of repairs is never brought up again… so maybe a couple days.. or a week.

 

I honestly can’t imagine that without the needed supplies, Mark was able (I have no idea what his character’s name was) to fix Optimus Prime to the point that he was 100% in only a matter of hours, or the course of a long night especially considering that he has proven to not be that good of an inventor/gadget guy throughout the beginning of the movie. The whole thing really bugged me honestly, mostly because they could have just shot the heart to heart scene at night to show the passage of a day, or even did a Michael Bay style montage where Mark is repairing Prime, and at some point towards the end of said montage the assistant sneaks off and phones the military for the reward money.

 

Cinema Sins is going to have a field day with this movie.

 

Once again, I really think the main reason this movie was sooooooo shitty is because it could have been sooooooo much better. Maybe it could never have been an Avenger’s type movie where most everyone liked it and was a huge international hit, but it could have at least not been awful. Even the premise at the beginning of the movie was intriguing until they threw in the 14th random plot point/twist that was more convoluted than a convoluted analogy at a metaphor meeting sponsored by the confusion lobby of America.

 

…. I just know Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is going to be dog shit now.

 

 

 

 

The Flash Pilot was leaked

The pilot for the new Flash TV show was leaked on line, possibly by the CW as a way of promoting the latest DC comics TV show, or maybe just by some employee who really wants to know what its like to get the life sued out of them. If it’s the former, than as a self respecting nerd, it’s my duty to watch and comment on the pilot. If it’s the latter, well I could be super lame and ignore it and just wait for the show to premier in a few months from now (or weeks or years, I honestly have no idea when it comes out). I couldn’t resist the temptation to sate my recent cravings for comic book related enjoyment, so I decided to ignore the morally ambiguous dilemma and downloaded the pilot.

 

Further down below I will do a “live blog” style review as I over analyze each scene, but here is my general feelings on the pilot: It was good, and seems to show that these DC TV shows are trending in the right direction. This direction I’m speaking of is the progression from Smallville, to Arrow, and now into The Flash.

 

One of the major problems with Smallville (which I only watched the first couple and then last couple of seasons along with a handful of random episodes in the middle thrown in as well), was that it seemed almost embarrassed by the source material. There was a well known standing rule by DC that the show couldn’t have tights or flights. Basically DC was afraid that if they showed someone on Smallville flying around in blue and red spandex with an S on their chest/Kryptonian symbol for hope, that audiences would be confused whenever they got around to releasing a movie that featured a slightly older guy flying around in blue and red spandex with an S on their chest/Kryptonian symbol for hope. That was fine for the first couple seasons but as the show went on (for 10 fucking years) it got kind of ridiculous when someone like Dr. Fate shows up in the full on Dr. Fate uniform but Clark is still wearing jeans and a t-shirt to fight crime.

When Arrow came out it was nice to see that they didn’t mind embracing more of the comic book nature of source material, albeit with an almost plagiaristic Dark Knight feel, but they really went hot an heavy with a lot of the CW young adult relationship angst drama BS that I also hated about Smallville. Yes, I understand why that has to be in the show to 1. appeal to a larger audience, and 2. to soak up low cost budget time so that the show isn’t just an expensive 20 min show of Ollie punching bad guys. Even with that understanding, I still felt a lot of the relationship stuff could have been focused a little better and done in a way that you didn’t feel like you were at times watching to completely different shows.

 

The pilot of The Flash gives the impression that it will have no problem using the source material, and may not spend a ton of time on relationship woes, and even when it does, may keep it focused on just one character desperately trying to get out of the friend zone. Something else I like about the pilot is the special effects. This obviously could change as the show moves away from the pilot and the purse strings start to tighten, but this first episode showed a lot of promise in the actual super hero fight aspect of the show.

 

My overall grade for the pilot is 4 out of 5 cosmic treadmills.

Now lets get to the play by play. Warning Spoilers below.. obviously.

 

The show opens with an Amazing Spidermanesq title character voice over that felt awkward as hell. I guess it’s because he used the term blur almost immediately and that brought back feelings of Smallville calling Clark the blur since they couldn’t call him Super Man. Also he talks about how his “whole life I’ve been running” and how he guesses he wasn’t fast enough when some bullies beat him up. I know bullies are a major problem for a lot of kids, but it’s almost a cliché at this point, and I’m not sure if it really had anything to do with the rest of the pilot.

 

This transitions into a scene where we are introduced to Barry Allen’s parents who are so perfect that they even keep the house lighted all golden hour style when having heart to heart conversations. This all felt very Smallville to me, and I wasn’t digging it since I was afraid they were going to already retcon the origin story that they had shown in Arrow this season. Luckily we quickly move on into some action where we see Barry’s mom being circled by some yellow and red lightning, which I’m guessing is actually the Flash and the Reverse Flash traveling back in time and fighting each other.

i know it is the same image as the one above. fuck you.

I’ll be honest I never read DC comics as a kid and most of my Flash knowledge comes from the Justice Legaue cartoon show and some of the DC animated movies. I know that there is a dude just like the flash who wears predominantly yellow with red accents and has battled The regular Flash in some time traveling adventures, but I have no idea if this stuff is cannon. So Barry somehow gets transported away and his mom dies, and the dad is blamed and imprisoned for the murder. Tough break kid, I’m sure the bullies will leave you alone now that you have suffered such heart break, kids are nice like that.

 

Oh did I mention that at one point his dad tells him to pull a Forrest Gump and “run barry run”. Seriously no one writing the show thought, “maybe we can just have him say something like ‘get out of here’ or ‘stay back’ instead of saying something that will only remind people of a Robert Zemeckis movie.” Oh, and this isn’t the only time in the pilot a character will tell Barry to pull a Gump either.

Back in the present day we see Barry is late getting to a crime scene since he is a CSI guy, the captain or sergeant or cop in charge whatever asks the other detectives where Allen is and that since he’s not there he will have to take over the investigation. When Barry has finished plowing through people on the streets with his rugged CSI briefcase, presumably full of lab equipment, the cop in charge asks him if he’s late because he forgot to set his alarm clock and over slept. I honestly am not sure if this line was meant as a joke by the cop, or are the writers implying that in this city crimes like murder are scheduled to take place as to fit a normal 8 to 5 work day. I’ve watched this scene a couple times and I’m honestly not sure.

 

What happens next doesn’t really instill faith in the writers of the show. First Barry stares at some tread marks and small smosh of brown stuff and we see all of these DaVinci Code the movie style lettering/animation over what Barry is looking at which measures and details the clue for the audience. I’m not sure why they thought this was necessary. He has a big briefcase full of lab stuff, I’m sure he has a ruler in there. Why not just have him measure it instead of not very scientifically sizing it up with his eyes. He tells the detectives, one of which is that Rent actor from Law and order who I like, but not enough to look him up on IMDB, that the tire had to come from a Shelby Mustang. I have no idea if what he said is true/possible/knowable but I’ll go along with it since it is keeping me from thinking that maybe the magic measurements and words he saw floating around the clue wasn’t just him having a weird acid trip, and that maybe the entire show is just him having acid trips while everyone else around him just plays along. “No Barry, you are totally running super fast and not just high as fuck and jogging in place”

 

I honestly like this show even though I’m kind of nit picking some weird shit in the beginning, and a lot of this enjoyment comes from the light humor and the actors, but remember how I mentioned that Barry has all the CSI stuff with him, since he is a Crime Scene Investigator, who presumably knows proper evidence handling procedures. So he takes a pen out of Detective Replacable’s breast pocket and uses it to scoop up some of the smooshed brown stuff that was in the tire tread. It turns out that the smooshed stuff is “fecal excrement” which I’m not sure if that is or isn’t a redundant term, and Barry places the pen and excrement in one of those CSI baggies. The Detective who I’m sure will have a long and healthy career, says “My dad gave me that pen… before he died.” It was a funny line and you can tell the Detective is annoyed but also likes Barry in that “he’s a screw up, but he’s my screw up” kind of way.

 

Just to clear up a few points, there’s three cops there, 1 is the law and order guy, 2. is the detective with the dead dad who’s pen has now been covered in cow poop, and 3 is the cop in charge who thought that if a crime scene guy is late, the regular cops and detectives could just start processing evidence them selves since that could never lead to a mistrial down the road.

Once again, I liked the show and even with these things that annoy me, I liked the beginning of the episode cause each of these stupid things said/done by the characters made them likeable or made me smile or laugh. I don’t know if I could deal with a whole season of characters doing stuff like this though, but for just one episode I’m ok with it.

 

Next scene we see Barry at his lab analyzing the poop covered family heirloom. I honestly don’t’ know if this is Barry’s apartment/loft where he does lab work out of as some kind of contractor for the police department, or if this is a part of the police building that is isolated with a really cool view of the city and some old timey Frankenstien style roof chain pulley things. A cute love interest walks into Barry’s lab/possible apartment, and we find out that she is Detective Law and Order’s daughter and that she and Barry grew up together. Also we get some fore shadowing about the particle accelerator that is going to play the same role that the kryptonite comet played in Smallville.

 

One complaint is that the love interest says she is working on a dissertation and then seconds later doesn’t understand what Barry is saying when he says the work being done on the particle accelerator is light years ahead of what is being done at CERN. That’s almost exactly what he said, and she says “your doing that thing where you not speaking English” and then moments later mentions twerking. So they are making her sound kind of dumb, but she is working on a dissertation, maybe she doesn’t actually know what a dissertation is and thinks it’s a kind of dessert they are serving at the bakery she works at.

 

Anyways, kind of annoying stuff, but still fun and light hearted characters blah blah blah, next scene Barry gets friendzoned so hard I thought they were going to rename his character Mike Johnson. Moments latter at a crowded event to celebrate the launch of the particle accelerator some random criminial steals Love Interest’s lap top bag. Barry chases after the guy and gets punched to the ground, but luckily Love Interests future love interest shows up to arrest the would be thief. I really should learn some of the supporting character’s names. Maybe when the show actually comes out I’ll do it.

 

The cops follow Barry’s lead and find the bank robber and a shoot out starts. The non Law and Order Cop gets shot in the neck and dies. Bad week for him, first his dad’s pen, now this. Back at the lab/apartment (which on second viewing I’m sure isn’t his apartment) Barry gets struck by lightning after the partical accelerator blows up while trying to do… something? with that pulley chain thing I mentioned earlier. Barry wakes up 9 months later in Star labs where guest stars from this season of Arrow are monitoring Barry and playing lady gaga songs.

 

Lots of exposistion goes on where we learn that the Star Labs people are basically going to be Barry’s super hero support group just like Ollie has on Arrow. Barry, having just woken up from a 9 month commas 5 min ago, straight up leaves Star Labs as they put up virtually no resistance to him leaving AMA. Barry goes right to see Iris (the detective’s daughter who’s name I just learned) and we get the first glimps of his super power. Iris and her dad’s partner who saved her lap top bag earlier are shown to clearly be dating. Barry does some more “holy shit I have super powers” stuff, and we move into act II.

 

I like that Barry didn’t take forever to accept his powers and is already working with his support team, one of which was on Justified this season and is adorable even though she is super closed off and almost bitchy on this show. This all flies in the face of Smallville and to a lesser extent Arrow where the support team aspect was developed more slowly. I like this. It’s a super hero show, lets get into the super hero stuff, we don’t’ need a whole bunch of episodes of origin/year one stuff. This pilot gets most of that stuff out of the way so you can get to the good stuff.

 

Some dude who can control the weather robs a bank and the cops are on the trail. Once again, the special effects are good, not out of this world amazing, but they don’t detract from the show. Barry finds out that Iris is dating Eddie, so his friendzone status has hit a new high. Thankfully the CW patented relationship drama doesn’t take up too much screen time before we segue into some super powered action scenes where Barry has already embraced his new powers and are using them for good, or at least trying to. Turns out the bank robber with the weather powers is the same robber from 9 months ago that killed that detective with the poop pen.

 

Dad cop and Barry hash out some stuff about dad cop watching over Barry after his dad murdered his mom, and how Barry needs to accept what really happened that night. Then a scene later Barry is yelling at the particle accelerator doctor about what really happened that night when the CERN knock off blew up. The doctor then does a weird Walken/Shattner paced dialog explaining that other meta humans were created by the explosion. Seriously, I have no idea what was happening with the dialog there. The actor is fine in virtually every other scene he’s in but it honestly sounded like he had never read those lines before that take.

CAMEO ALERT!!!! Barry visits Oliver Queen who is of course standing on a roof top in Green Arrow gear. Barry is upset cause some dude died and he doesn’t think he can be a hero, especially after the wheel chair doctor told him he wasn’t a hero and is just some kid who got struck by lightning. Arrow restores his faith in a conversation that is really good if you have been watching Arrow. It really shows the difference between the two characters and what the two shows can be. Plus it was nice to see the Oliver character talk to someone in a more honest and equal way. Kind of like what I imagine batman would say to newly minted super man.

 

when they aren’t punching each other

Actually, lets just get right to it, Arrow is basically the CWs attempt to make batman, and the Flash will probably be a more Superman like character. There’s parallels all over the place, many of them painfully obvious, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I do think that Arrow is less dark than Batman and the the Flash will be less Boy Scoutish than super man. I don’t envision there being a lot of cross over between these two shows but I’m sure there will be some here and there that hopefully won’t be too awkward.

 

Act III starts with the show fully embracing the character by him donning the flash suit and working with his team to take down a super villain. I’m not sure who this super villain is in the DC universe but he has a god complex. Bad guy makes a tornado, and Barry runs fast in the opposite direction. At first he’s not fast enough and the cute lab chick doubts his body can handle running fast enough, but then Dr. Wheel Chair gets on the intercom and gives Barry a Forest Gump “Run Barry Run” pep talk, and Barry is able to run super fast and stop the tornado. The Dad Detective shoots the bad guy and finds out that Barry is the flash. This detective is way better than detective Lance on Arrow who somehow still has no idea Ollie is the Arrow.

 

Barry visits his dad in jail and does the obligatory hand on the window thing that everyone in prison does when they aren’t yelling “WHERE THE FUCK IS WALLACE?” It looks like they are trying to set up a story arc with the dad detective and Barry trying to get Barry’s dad freed from prison. These side stories can be a good ongoing narrative to help keep the show from just being a bad guy of the week show, or it could distract from whatever big bad is the focus of each season. I’m hoping for the former obviously, but speaking of ongoing story lines, there is a stinger at the end of the episode involving Dr. Doesn’t Actually Need a Wheel Chair.

 

We see him go into a secret brail decorated room at Star Labs where he WALKS (ZOMG!!!) to a podium and places his hand over one of those round push light things you see advertised on TV, and floating newspaper from the future holograms to life. On the front page you see the head line “FLASH MISSING, VANISHES IN CRISIS” with a date of April 25 2024. Obviously this is foreshadowing… something. Infinity Crisis? Crisis on Two Earths? Darkest Night, Flash point… ummm, like I said I never read DC comic books, but I know they like the word Crisis. I did watch the one DC animated movie involving the Flash where he is erased from time or someone changes time and everything is different, so maybe it has something to do with that. Either way it was a cool as hell teaser for whatever is coming down the line and leaves you not sure if the Dr. is a good guy or a bad guy, or just a morally ambiguous guy.

As I said before, I really like the pilot and hope that the few negatives don’t start to dominate the show as time goes on. From what I could read online it looks like the show is going to premier in about 4 months. My guess is the pilot will end up being slightly different from what I’ve seen, but not majorly.