Categories
Television

Titans – Season Three, Ep. 8 “Home” Review

Bree: Episode 8 marks just past the halfway point of the 13 episode season and things are really heating up! New relationships are forming, old ones are rekindling, and others’ are falling apart. Tim Drake gets a proper introduction and is shaping up to be an excellent adaptation of a fan favorite character.

Jon: Crane’s plans have come to a screeching halt since the last episode and we begin to see how that affects his and Jason’s power dynamic. Could our former boy wonder still be lost inside that red helmet? Only time will tell as the rest of this episode plays out.

Bree: This episode does an excellent job at balancing its focus equally for each of the main characters. Everybody has a memorable moment in this episode. While they dig a little more into Crane’s backstory, Starfire is still struggling with unknown elements of her past. Which feels very; “As one door closes, another opens”. The pacing of conflict is very effective this season, I’m on the edge of my seat while not feeling like my attention is divided between too many plot threads.

Jon: Tim finally get his time in the spotlight this episode. He’s truly living up to his comic book counterpart. Showing off his mastery of detective skills will turn him into a great asset for the Titans going forward.  

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: Alright, we gotta start with the elephant in the room. The elephant that broke a bed. I wasn’t initially keen on the idea of Blackfire and Conner but they’re writing the pair exceptionally well. 

Jon: STRAIGHT TO HORNY JAIL THE BOTH OF THEM! For the speed in which this took place and where they both are in their lives (very short for Conner) it feels very natural and is pretty adorable.

Bree: Yep! Conner has elements of the “born sexy yesterday” trope, but the show avoids the creepy aspects by fleshing out what he does have in common with Kom. And it’s important that Conner isn’t isolated, he’s developed other relationships besides Kom. The romance isn’t responsible for his entire world view, as the worst offenders of said trope tend to lean into.

Jon: One of the other highlights of this episode is Tim Drake who finally gets to show off his detective skills. Proving to Dick that he first discovers his secret identity because of his aerial acrobatics, he calls out Dick and the entire roster of Titans with hard facts that could come across as actually believable rather than Tim just knowing who they are because of who his character is supposed to be. Someone get Jay Lycurgo a super-suit YESTERDAY!

Bree: Indeed! I’m honestly iffy on Tim Drake as a whole, sometimes he works for me, and sometimes he just doesn’t. Titans Tim thus far is very charming and earnest, it’s quite possible he’ll be my favorite version yet! Oh! And Crane is actually starting to become scary. I like the stoner act and it was a fun refresh on his character but he’s gotta live up to his name. 

Jon: Yes! At the close of the episode, we see Crane with only a baseball hat and gun which sent shivers down my spine. One can only imagine how frightening he was in his prime while donning the actual scarecrow mask.

Bree: Kory’s visions keep getting weirder and weirder too and I’m loving it. They’re building an excellent foundation for her this season and I just hope they commit to finishing the house. Oh! And lastly, Beast Boy will hopefully now have something to do. I really hope they let him be very important in the forthcoming confrontation with Jason.

CLOSING REMARKS

Jon: An absolute mountain to things to unpack this episode. Jason is struggling with his inner demons, and Crane becomes more desperate and dangerous as time goes on. Will things actually work out with Blackfire and Conner? Most of all, who is Dick Grayson’s tailor ?! 4 episodes left to go until what seems like to be an explosive finale!

Bree: This is perhaps the most “Titans” centric episode this season, and perhaps proves that the writers are learning from past mistakes. Gotham is presenting ever-evolving challenges for the team, and we seem to be nearing the “sink or swim” moment for the team.

Categories
Comics

Is Titans United #1 New Reader Friendly?

Those familiar with HBO’s Titans will recognize the lineup in Titans United. Nightwing, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, Red Hood, Superboy, Donna Troy, Hawk, and Dove are together again for a new, 7 issue mini-series from Cavan Scott and Jose Luis. Although the book is using its connection to the show for advertising purposes, it quickly establishes that the mini-series will ultimately not tie itself to the shows’ specific continuity. 

Issue #1 of Titans United is a fairly fast-paced start to a new adventure for the team. Within the blockbuster action, Cavan manages to include a bit of breathing room for showcasing relationships within the Titans. The team dynamics will be familiar for more regular readers, but some new conflicts are simmering as well. Particularly, with the addition of Red Hood as a roster regular. The art is well done and the designs are some of my favorites for these characters yet! 

Overall, the plot is fairly straightforward without being remotely boring, making Titans United #1 a great place to start for anyone that is vaguely familiar with the IP from any type of related media (comics, cartoons, HBO series). There are bits and pieces from almost every iteration of the team sprinkled throughout the book, making it very easy for fans of any version of the team to find something they like. However, the lack of character introduction makes me hesitate to recommend it to those that are completely unfamiliar with the property. 

Titans United #1 is a great start to a story that all fans of various Titans media are likely to enjoy!

Categories
Television

Rita Farr and the Grotesque

Grotesque [groh-tesk]: Adjective. Odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.

Rita Farr is grotesque. She remembers when she wasn’t. Her room is filled with memorabilia and posters from her days as a Hollywood Starlet. The four walls of her bedroom envelop the few that enter in a soft, romanticized cloud of 50s and 60s nostalgia. As we, the viewer, learn more about Rita Farr, the actress, and Rita Farr, the Elasti-Girl, the more we see that perhaps the grotesque had been part of her story all along.

Media that criticizes Hollywood isn’t necessarily a new thing (Eyes Wide Shut, 1991. Mulholland Drive, 2001) or disappearing (The Neon Demon, 2016. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 2019. Brand New Cherry Flavor, 2021) angle for film and television. Hollywood studios have had and continue to have an industry monopoly, and they often operate on very top-down, hierarchical management. As the #MeToo movement has helped uncover, this type of labor organization is often unjust to the many and discriminates against women and minorities in particular. Different elements of said industry pitfalls have made it into the aforementioned films. Although the visual approach and messaging often vary greatly in these types of films, they do generally have one thing in common- violence. Violence often leaves behind grotesque forms- Rita’s accident was horrific, her mother often inflicted emotional abuse upon her, her bosses were opportunistic and would hurt her to benefit themselves. Rita herself inflicted violence on others to maintain her place in the pecking order.

The interesting thing about portraying violence in media about media is the juxtaposition of romanticism. Films and TV make us feel things. We like to feel things. We know they’re scripted and fake, but we don’t particularly care. It’s an escape, reality cannot interfere too greatly, or the fantasy is lost. Rita Farr, the actress, was a Sweetheart, women wanted to be like her, and men wanted to be with her. At least, while she was still booking productions. Hollywood is an industry in which the idea of you is sold for profit. You are discarded when you can no longer reproduce the idea of yourself that the people want. 

Rita’s accident meant her career was over. Her physical affliction meant she could no longer produce Rita Far, the product. The oozing, grotesque lump her body occasionally turned into wasn’t what the people wanted. So, the question is, why did she get this affliction in particular? Body horror is often a visual indication of feeling “monstrous” or a mark of guilt. A way to turn something ugly on the inside outwards so it can be seen and interpreted by an audience. When Rita had her accident, she was already dissatisfied that her career was easing into stagnation. Guilt about the things she had done, and her mother had done for her, to secure the career she had up until then was creeping in. With the assistance of a rotting piece of wood and a loud splash, all these negative and ugly feelings bubbled up to the surface of her skin. 

Rita Farr is a phenomenal actress. She deserved every role and every bit of praise she got. She loved being an actress. However, the industry no longer loved her, and she had forgotten who she was without that relationship. I believe she would have become a different type of ‘monster’ had she continued on the path she was on, and the accident never happened. The ending of her story wouldn’t have been much different from the ending of The Neon Demon or Eyes Wide Shut. A single, sudden act of violence divorced her from her former life and set her on a different path, like cauterizing a wound. She initially viewed the accident as the worst possible thing to happen to her, but once she let Rita the Actress subside, she discovered Elasti-Girl.

Violence will always be a fact of life and will leave behind the grotesque parts of ourselves in its wake. What ultimately matters is how we cope and the environments we surround ourselves with.  Elasti-Girl likes living in Doom Manor, a place that might have scared Rita Farr, The Actress. Doom Manor is special because it’s a place committed to growth without judgment. Every resident unites as a victim of circumstance, but they’re working together to create better circumstances for their future selves and others. What was once a manifestation of Rita’s fears and anxieties became a source of strength and a means to connect with others like her. Although her room remains a bastion of escapism, she finds herself leaving it more and more often to venture out into the world. Parts of her still ooze and hurt, but she’s with others that understand. It’s never too late to reinvent ourselves or leave the places that do not love us to find the ones that do.

Categories
Television

Titans – Season Three, Ep. 7 “51%” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as Titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here!

Bree: Scarecrow is gearing up for the final act of his schemes, and the Titans are racing to out-think him. They split into two different approaches, with Dick and Barbara utilizing one strategy and Kory and Blackfire trying another. Jason is still struggling with being on Crane’s leash and his allegiance may shift yet again.

Jon: Crane himself knows he is at a very pivotal moment in his plans to distribute his new fear toxin and it is causing him to become a lot more dangerous and shows us why he is one of the big bads of Batman’s rogue gallery.

Bree: Starfire and Blackfire also get the opportunity to reveal more about life on Tamaran and the events that lead up to Blackfire’s departure. They’re relationship continues to add nuance and depth to the individual characters while providing an interesting foil to how the Titans approach the concept of found ‘family’. 

Jon: Barbara is also given more time to shine in this episode as she and Dick try to stay one step ahead of Jason and Crane resulting in a fan favorite cameo that is sure to have Titans, Birds of Prey, and Batgirl fans cheering this episode. So much to nerd out about.

Bree: Some relationships are heating up while others are cooling. The drama is ever changing on Titans!

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: Kom’s magical girl transformation though. I’m always floored by every new bit of Tamaranian lore we get. They’ve done such an excellent job of modernizing the comics while incorporating input from Anna and Damaris. 

Jon: It is definitely a strong point of this season! The attention to detail makes Tamaran feel like an actual place then just another piece of comic lore. Blackfire’s Sailor Scout transformation was by far the best suit-up scene in the show. The suit itself is a perfect rendition of the comic costume and is modernized just enough to feel real. Probably my favorite suit amongst the Titans. Huge shoutout to LJ Super Suits who keep knocking it out of the park with the wardrobe EVERY SEASON.

Bree: Just so freaking cool. Chills. I do wonder if Kom will ever go full baddie, only time shall tell. Oracle was really neat as well!

Jon: To be completely honest… I hope she doesn’t and gets to stick around longer. The inclusion of Oracle was a surprise. The show has stepped away from making Oracle just a program and went full Brainiac. How does the rest of the GCPD not know it’s below them?! Savannah Welch continues to impress more and more as Babs and is finally showing just how powerful her intellect makes her.

Bree: The same way they know Dick kidnapped Crane and didn’t do anything about it after the fact. I do love this Barbara more than I’ve liked most other Barbara’s. I can’t say I’m keen on Dickbabs being a thing in a Titans property but alas. OH…also the bit with Kom and Conner flirting during battle could have been the beginning of a porno and I would have bought it. I like horny TV so I’m not complaining, just one of the quickest pairs to form thus far. 

Jon: (SCREAMS IN HORNY JAIL). We are treated to our first scene of a present-day Dick/Babs Relationship, and while I personally have my reservations about them it was done well and does not feel forced. Savannah and Brenton do have great chemistry in the scenes they share.

Bree: And Gar finally gets to do things! Glad they’ve set him up as the softie of the team, a much better idea than the casual sexual harassment committer that exists in some other Titans media.

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: Crane, Barbara, and Gotham continue to be a big part of this episode. However, there is a good half dedicated to the Titans themselves. The show is getting better at balancing screen time! The combat continues to be rad as heck and the big group moments are very fun.

Jon: The Titans are finally unified and make their first real strike back against Crane. It feels so good to see our heroes pull together and finally get a win. Let’s hope the momentum carries onto the next episode.

Categories
Television

Titans – Season Three, Ep. 6 “Lady Vic” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as Titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Bree: Despite the title of the episode, I would argue that this is the Blackfire episode. She really steals the show here and lightens the tone after last week’s darker episode.

Jon: Anna Diop and Damaris Lewis continue to have great chemistry and really make us believe they’re actually siblings. Great acting from both actresses.

Bree: Blackfire is also introduced to Conner and Dick for the first time, and the clash of ‘cultural’ differences makes for some really comedic dialogue. This episode also introduces a new villain that goes by Lady Vic, whom readers’ of Nightwing’s solo comics may recognize.

Jon: Barbara also gets her time to shine this episode with an all new spin on her origin and her relationship with Dick. The comic nostalgia in the climax of the episode with her is sure to have any comic fan jumping out of their seat and cheering.

Bree: Indeed! The dialogue, the pacing, the acting, the combat direction…everything is firing on all cylinders this episode and it’s my personal favorite of the new season so far.

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: The buddy-cop moments with Dick and Kory are so great, I could easily do an entire episode(s) with them solving scooby-doo esque mysteries. She’s the only one that consistently has a boot on his neck and sometimes he needs it. I appreciate that she patched him up too, I like how strong they’re making her this season but it should be balanced out with some more compassionate moments.

Jon: Starfire is truly the voice of reason for Dick and the rest of the titans. The scenes between Blackfire and Superboy are a nice comedic breath of fresh air. It’s straight to Horny Jail for her.

Bree: We don’t even know if Conner knows what sex is but I guess we’ll be finding out soon enough!

Jon: Whoever is in charge of the choreography for this show is not getting paid enough. Lady Vic is vicious and lives up to her reputation in every action scene she is in. Great sword work from the actress and her stunt double. Barbara also gets to showcase her skills when she busts out Escrima sticks of her own in a scene ripped straight from the Birds of Prey comic that brought a tear of joy to my eye.

Bree: Lady Vic is legitimately so cool it’s hard to hate her.

Jon: Why do we both wanna go out for drinks with Lady Vic right now? 

Bree: Truly! OH, speaking of drinks, Brenton in the backwards baseball cap didn’t feel right. I mean it tracked with the phase of Dick’s life they were tapping into but it was slightly jarring. 

Jon: Dick was not a Kriss Kross fan for a reason and we now know why. 

Bree: Very glad Kory and Barbara are seen mostly getting along. I pray we do not go anywhere near that dreaded Nightwing Annual in later episodes. 

John: GIVE US MORE KORY/BABS SOLIDARITY!

Bree: Just gals bein’ pals !!!!!

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: Fans that were disappointed with the more Gotham centric episodes are sure to love this one! The cast continues to be incredibly delightful and the light comedy sprinkled throughout episode 6 really allows their natural charisma and chemistry to shine!

Jon: A fantastic continuation to the previous episode and just enough of a departure from the comics we all know and love to keep the story fresh for new eyes. Looking forward to the inevitable descent into darkness for Blackfire and how the chemistry between her and Kory will change due to it.

Categories
Television

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf– A return of the franchises’ trademark grimdark fantasy, with some new life and humor interjected as they dip their toes into animation for the first time.

The cinematic universe of The Witcher continues to expand on Netflix with a new film animated by StudioMir (The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Kipo and the Age of WonderBeasts). The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is partially a prequel to the live action television adaptation Netflix also produces, as the story follows Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor, prior to the events of the TV show. 

Although the film is technically a prequel, I would discourage the Nightmare of the Wolf as an entry point into the franchise, as the story is very fast paced and does not dedicate very much time to exposition of the lore. It’s easy enough to grasp as a stand alone, as the world of The Witcher is somewhat tropeish within the medieval fantasy genre, ​​but references are made to the established world-building with little explanation. Additional context from the TV show, video games, or books would enhance your perception and enjoyment of the Nightmare of the Wolf, in my opinion.

There are many moments that soar within The Nightmare of the Wolf, as well as a few parts that fall flat. Firstly, the animation is absolutely phenomenal. My jaw was continually dropping. I was initially apprehensive about some of the character designs, but seeing them within the expansiveness of the entire production put my doubts to rest. The backgrounds balance painterly elements with a sharp understanding of simplifying the natural world that’s reminiscent of The Last Unicorn– albeit, with a much different approach to colors and less abstracted elements.

The cast of characters is relatively small and more or less contains the story to Vesemir’s perspective, with some additional insight from Tetra, Illyana, and Deglan. Each character has a unique motivation propelling them forward, and the final confrontation is a clash of ideals just as much as swords. There’s some interesting things going on with the ethics of being a Witcher in a world with a declining monster population and a pre-industrial capitalist system of economics. However, I feel that this was slightly underutilized. Nightmare of the Wolf does succeed in illustrating the process of making Witchers, far more than the TV show has to date. I enjoyed the film but would have preferred a 12 episode series, something that balanced the day to day tasks of monster killers with the bigger plot coming to a head in the finale. 

To conclude, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a very fun way to spend an hour and 20 minutes and offers some unique insights into specific elements of lore the rest of the cinematic universe hasn’t quite reached yet. I would even argue it’s worth watching for the animation quality alone. However, the pace of the film ultimately left me feeling that it existed as an appetizer for the new season of the live action show that’s dropping in December.

DISCLAIMER FOR PROBLEMATIC CONTENT (MILD SPOILERS AHEAD)

The books that spawned the spin offs were written in the 70s and 80s, and although Netflix has done a decent job at modernizing certain elements, it’s difficult to completely erase the “fantasy races exist as a vehicle for White people to roleplay being victims of racism” trope that’s baked in. 

The Nightmare of the Wolf is perhaps one of the more egregious offenders of that trope, as Vesemir is the lead and anyone familiar with the character will know he has many sad tales to tell. The opening sequence is a Black family of royal status getting brutally murdered by a monster, the only child to survive exists on screen for another minute in order to “vouch” that it was in fact a monster and not a Witcher that killed his family. There’s also one character that is queer coded in a way that isn’t outright terrible but not great either- and he falls into the category of sad endings as well. 

This iteration is also more generous with gore and blood than the TV show and games, and much of this violence is happening to children. This is narratively handled with the impact and sorrow it deserves, but I would discourage watching if you think that is something that will bother you.

The world of The Witcher is often grimdark, and Vesemir certainly doesn’t get a Hallmark ending either. However, due to the smaller scale of the cast and run time, the animated movie isn’t able to dull the disproportionate impact on Characters of Color the way the TV show is able to do. 

Categories
Television

Titans: Season Three, Ep. 5 “Lazarus” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as Titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Bree: This episode follows Jason in the days leading up to his untimely demise and reveals how he managed to seemingly return from beyond the grave. A few new supporting characters are introduced, including Dr. Leslie Thomkins and a friend of Jason named Molly. Both characters reveal more about the inner workings of Jason Todd. His relationship with Bruce also gets a spotlight.

Jon: The episode also does a wonderful job of breaking down the psychology of Jason’s inner struggles, even with the physical threat of Deathstroke long gone. Showcasing that beyond the capes and the cowls and underneath the masks these are real characters under a tremendous amount of trauma and PTSD.

Bree: Oh, and there’s a crap ton of easter eggs sprinkled throughout this episode. Just a complete buffet of stuff to nerd out over. 

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Jon: I truly have to commend Iain Glen’s “Bruce” in this episode. He does a great job at portraying a better relationship with Jason then just considering him another soldier in his war. Even to go as far as referring to him as his “Son” which i thought was very heartwarming and a nice departure from the usual hardened vigilante we know.

Bree: Bruce was great but I think my personal favorites for this episode were Dr. Thompkins and Molly. The former was a nice nod for those that are comic readers and the latter was an original character, but both fit into the universe incredibly well. I hope to see more of both of them! Oh, and Crane continues to be incredibly entertaining.

Jon: Jonathan Crane continues to be one of the best surprises of this season for sure and I am glad that he has stuck around longer then I earlier anticipated. His ploy to get Jason to spring him from Arkham was done masterfully and executed perfectly. This is the seasoned Jonathan Crane I feel that most fans were hoping for.

Bree: Yeah, I was surprised that there actually was a Lazarus pit. My running theory was that Jason had faked the entire thing and gotten his academy award winning moment as a theatre kid. I do like what they’ve done with the Red Hood origin story, different enough to keep comic readers guessing on the specifics but similar enough that the character remains familiar.

Jon: YES! It is different enough to keep the character feeling fresh after we have been exposed to him for so long. The intensity of Curran Walter’s portrayal continues to shine through every scene that he is in. From cutting off heads to blowing some guy’s head off in a warehouse to helping some poor kid who was picked up by human traffickers. Even though he is a little off his rocker, Jason is still trying to do the right thing. 

Bree: Perhaps! I honestly don’t mind the idea of him remaining an antagonist and never quite getting the anti-hero thing right. We shall see! Oh, and reverse engineering the fear serum was cool as hell. 

Jon: Also shout out to the makeup team working on this show. I never thought we would get to see the Joker’s handy work on Jason with the crowbar but there it is and it is so gnarly it almost made me want to look away.

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: A fun little episode that seems to be giving the audience a breather before the 2nd half picks up the pace. 

Jon: A very good look into the mind of Jason Todd that just makes me want the next episode that much more! 

Categories
Television

Titans: Season Three, Ep. 4 “Blackfire” Review

GateCrashers’ Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as Titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Bree: This episode splits into 2 different sub teams to follow essentially 2 different stories. Dick is off to uncover more information on Crane and Red Hood, while Kory and Garfield work together to try to figure out the source of Kory’s mysterious blackouts. Fans of other pieces of Titans-related media are likely to see right through the hint the episode title gives, and it is exactly as it seems.

Jon: Kory is finally getting some additional backstory and purpose, outside her Season 1 introduction in which she was either amnesic or knew she had been sent to ‘deal’ with Rachel. 

Bree: Crane is beginning to become more fleshed out as his own character, and the bones of a deeper connection between him and Red Hood are emerging.

Jon: This is also clearly a Jonathan Crane who has had extended experience with Batman and Robin and is no longer on the means of trying to figuring out who they are but rather what makes them tick which is a nice departure from the usual source material

ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Jon: Watching Conner scrub bits of ash and who knows what else off of him was…a lot. I would press many F’s to pay many respects.

Bree: Seconded. Dawn leaving was incredibly anti-climatic for me personally, perhaps because the only person that said goodbye to her was Dick. They’re also going all in on a Miller Batman, which wouldn’t have been my first choice but I’m surprised by how well it works overall. 

Jon: I’m fine with a Batman that’s at the end of his rope since the show isn’t supposed to be about him at all. As much as I like Iain Glenn as Bruce, I appreciate that he trusts Dick to do things better. Especially after he notices for himself that what he is doing is clearly not working anymore.

Bree: Blackfire is absolutely the star of this episode though, I must say. Kory and Gar’s dynamic was fun and Kom’s flair for the dramatic plays off of them well. A much-needed comedic break from the intensity of Crane and Dick’s interactions. 

Jon: Not to mention the absolutely amazing chemistry between Starfire and Blackfire. While arguing or even trying their hardest to get along, you get a genuine feel that these two have a genuine history and are in every which way, siblings which only adds to the story.

Bree: Titans knows siblings are not afraid to beat the sh** out of each other.

CLOSING REMARKS

Bree: Overall, the show loses no steam after the dramatic conclusion of the 3 episode initial drop. It’s also doing a better job of balancing the edginess of Bat characters and the campiness fans have come to expect a degree of with Titans properties. 

Jon: This is just capitalizing on the amazing conclusion that Season 2 eluded to and is only growing into a better story with every following episode.

Categories
Anime Film

Evangelion: Thrice Upon a Time Review

Hideki Anno’s final ‘Rebuild’ film, titled Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, marks not only the end of Shinji Ikari’s story but the end of 2 different eras. The original series (1995-1996) was a lightning strike, a short-lived series that had an intense and lingering effect on the industry, followed by two films (1997) that provided an ending that was met with a very divisive reception from fans and critics alike. Anno decided to try again, with the start of the Rebuild films in 2006. The four rebuild films took 15 years to complete, a slow saunter to the finish line that perhaps wasn’t initially sure if there even was a finish line.

Despite the somewhat troubled history of continuity in the franchise, the final movie has arrived. Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts on Thrice Upon a Time;

English poster for the film

The Good: The voice acting and character writing shine, it feels like the ‘meat’ of the film. I have a slight preference for the original Japanese audio, but the English voice cast also returned and did a great job. Every cast member that was a primary focus in the series (Shinji, Rei, Asuka, Misato, Kaworu, Kaji, Gendo) is rewarded with a sense of closure, and the movie takes time to flesh out some of the supporting cast (Kensuke, Toji, Mari). Many themes from past iterations are continued with an added nuance- how different people respond differently to trauma, the concept of collective consciousness, what it means to be an adult, etc. While exploring a couple of new ones- the painful but important process of rebuilding yourself and your community, what children owe to their parents, and what they owe to their children. A complex ball of yarn that is equal parts hopeful, harsh, tragic, and beautiful. 

The Bad: There is a solid half-hour of continuous ‘lore dumping’ that veers into brain melt territory. On one hand, I wish a published encyclopedia of terms and world-building existed, on the other, I respect the thematic approach to burying different pieces of lore in different offshoots (the series, the movies, the manga, the video games). However, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to grasp every piece of NGE lore to appreciate other aspects of the film.

The Eh?: There are a few designs and environments that are perhaps the most visually complicated thing(s) I have ever seen, they elude coherent description entirely. Perhaps it means something bigger, or perhaps it exists solely to flex on the amount of money the animation must have cost. I can see some people either loving this or absolutely hating it. 

I feel that the Rebuild series stuck the landing. Even with the 4th movie being in ‘production hell’ for over 8 years, it felt incredibly topical. Overall, it scores about an 8.5/10 for me. 

By Bree O’Possum (@agreeablepossum)

Categories
Comics Television

Titans Together: Discussing the Explosive Premiere

Spoilers discussion for Episodes 1-3; “Barbara Gordon,” “Red Hood,” and “Hank and Dove,” is clearly marked.

GCer’s Titans coverage returns with myself (Bree) and my partner, Jon! We’ll be covering each episode release as they drop. The show has a lot of sentimental value to us on a very personal level, our coverage will be what is essentially written conversations with two sections; a very spoiler-free approach followed by a spoiler centric one (with a few jokes and memes, as titans S3 is headed towards very meme-able territory). Without further ado, our spoiler-free segment begins here; 

Bree: Episodes 1-3 of season three kick off an amazing introduction to Gotham and the new players on the board, while giving a little more time to recurring characters that they’d neglected in Season 2.

Jon: The Team finally felt like a team! The suits are really great, especially Nightwing’s. They broke up some of the plating that had originally been a single piece on the prototype reveal. The music feels like an upgrade as well, very fun and dynamic. I find myself humming bits and pieces often. Oh, and they didn’t have to show Brenton clip the escrima sticks into his belt, but they did that for us. Lastly, Red Hood makes for a good antagonist after Deathstroke’s exit. 

Bree: What is it about Curran’s approach to Red Hood that stands out to you?

Jon: The intensity, from the way he speaks to the way he moves. The choices in his fighting style compared to Dick are so interesting to watch. The scenes in which he switches to using a knife are some of my favorites, there’s an intent to inflict as much damage as quickly as possible in those swings. This is a person who tries to make every blow a killing stroke. Dick by comparison feels like there’s more intent to distract and subdue. 

Bree: I gotta talk about Crane too. I have never wanted to smoke with someone so badly. All the choices they’ve made thus far in regards to deviating from the books have been good, but everything about Crane has been gold. Also, a very interesting way to set up Jason’s origin in this universe as opposed to how it was set up in Hush. Any comments on the new additions of Barbara and Tim?

Jon: The casting choice for Babs is perfect! It’s nice to see a Barbara with some experience under her belt, rather than another year one story. The little bits of Tim thus far are promising. 


ON TO SPOILERS AND OUT OF CONTEXT MEMES

Bree: Why did Dick walk into that interrogation room and his back half walked in 5 minutes later.

Jon: Conner needs to register his chest as a lethal weapon. Man of Steel tiddies. Also Jason with the bag of heads. Literal chills.

Bree: Yeah, I’m warming up to the edits they put on Jason’s voice when he dons the helmet. I also very much appreciate that Conner is allowed to be smart, I dislike when he’s treated as just a pile of muscle. And Holy Heck his reaction to Hank’s death really got me.

Jon: Losing Hank made me tear up a little bit, really made me realize how integral he was to each member of the team. He may have been an asshole, but he was their asshole. The bike shorts and porn stache were short-lived but oh so memorable. OH! And Jason’s belt as Red Hood was the same as his Robin belt, they just painted it black. How did no one notice?

Bree: Your brain? Wow.

Jon: Deeply surprised that Bruce actually put the Joker down.

Bree: Yeah, me too. It’s a very Miller Batman. Overall, the approach feels like an almost “Elseworlds” take. If the 80s Titans books are the greatest potential of good the team can achieve, what does a Titans team look like when Dick is paired with a Bruce that never gets a complete handle on his trauma? How does that trickle-down affect the whole team? Lots of interesting potential from that angle, I think. Oh! And the hints at Carrie Kelly, Stephanie Brown, and Duke Thomas? I screamed.

Jon: I didn’t think I’d see a live-action Carrie even hinted at in the year 2021.

Bree: To be honest, I personally have a hard time liking Barbara in most things. She’s just never been a character “for me” – I do appreciate her as very important rep for disabled folks though. Titans’ approach to Babs is perhaps one of my favorites, the actress has a great presence and her keen ability to zero in on exactly what Bruce and Dick are lying to themselves about is great. I also appreciate that there is no cattiness between her and Kory, as certain books have done in the past.

Bree: Lastly, I want to touch on Gar in season 3 thus far. He’s still very much in a supporting role and is often used to play off of other characters. Which, I’m personally perfectly happy with. I can understand the criticisms about him not having his own arc per-se, he’s often used as an “errand buddy”. Ryan Potter is so fun and has such great rapport with everyone that I don’t mind. He and Conner in particular are nearly attached at the hip and get in some great jokes between the two of them. To conclude our coverage of Episodes 1-3, here’s a lil Con/Gar meme I drew. See you guys next week for episode 4!

Follow Bree for more artwork and Titans takes @agreeablepossum on Twitter and Instagram!