This Week in Geek (13-19/10/14)


DVDs: Like many, I wasn't too keen on Oliver Queen being a killer in Arrow's first season, but I understood it for what it was - a journey to BECOMING Green Arrow - and my trust paid off in Season 2. This is a BIG season, one that throws the shackles of being just like Revenge to finding its own way, and not being afraid to grow the world tremendously. Green Arrow doesn't have a huge (or impressive) rogues' gallery, but they've combined it with the Teen Titans' (by way of Roy Harper) and the Suicide Squad. Let's just say it leads to one of the most action-packed finale I've ever seen on a TV show. I'll probably always hate the comic book Deathstroke forever, but Slade Wilson is actually a pretty badass villain in the series. Oliver gets a mask and a conscience and some more trick arrows, but other characters aren't immune to change. Fortunes go up and down, and some may not make it through at all. Very cool stuff on the whole. The DVD includes several deleted scenes, a gag reel, and the featurettes we might have gotten on Season 1 if the package had had a little more to it - a half-hour on the Arrow's journey, and shorter bits on the special effects and wire work - plus an ebulient ComiCon panel and a "recap" episode that basically makes John Barrowman narrate clips from the first season. I guess that last one depends on how recently you watched it.

Those responsible for The Thick of It try their hand at American politics in the same basic style with Veep, which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Vice-President of the United States, a position that, like the ministerial appointment in The Thick of It, holds very little power. Let the absurdity of the system be revealed! To its credit, Veep doesn't try to recapture its older cousin precisely. There's a Malcolm Tucker figure, but he wields none of the fear, for example. And the show looks much slicker despite a similar documentary feel. That makes it its own thing, with its own unique characters, and they're FUNNY. (Don't worry, even if there's no Malcolm, there's plenty of imaginative cursing.) I'm hooked and already have Season 2 in hand. The DVD includes one or two commentary tracks on each of its 8 episodes, plus a couple of in-character PSAs and their in-character outtakes, as mandated by the episodes. Also, a making of, a long montage of deleted scenes and outtakes.

Only caught a couple of Halloween-flavored horror films this week, and neither were strictly horror either. Under the Skin, about an alien who comes to Earth to steal men's skins (or something) is an interesting art house film, but I'm not sure I'd call it an "entertainment" exactly. It's the kind of thing you want to call a tone poem, with abstract visuals and sounds to best present the alien's perspective. Scarlett Johansson plays it well, and must, per force discover her own humanity from wearing a human skin, but much of the action is repetitive, and involves non-actors who mumble in a thick Scottish accent. A lot of longueurs interrupted by nudity. And yet, there's something there, if you're in the mood for it. The DVD has a large number of short featurettes, about every aspect of the production, making up a longer making of documentary.

The other was the Korean serial killer-themed thriller I Saw the Devil, which fits the horror genre because of how gory the violence is (think Ichi the Killer), but is essentially a supercop revenge story in which the good guy adopts the villain's methods, terror and torture, to achieve his goals. If the film is trying to say there's evil accessible in everyone, the opposite isn't exactly true. Like many villains in Asian films, the serial killer is absolutely irredeemable and disgusting. There's no empathizing with that guy when the cop goes crazy, which I think is a weakness. Another weakness is that I Saw the Devil is at least 20 minutes too long. Lots of twists of fate, but it feels like we hit the climax and then have to suffer through another act. The cinematography is quite luscious and the action scenes well-choreographed, but be warned the horror is predicated on violence done to women. It's a horror trope I'm getting a little tired of, even when the intent is to make you squirm.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
V.ii. The Readiness Is All - BBC '80


Russell Burbage said...

I watch and enjoy Arrow but I don't intend to buy the sets and watch them over and over. It's good TV but not DVD set worthy. :-)

Martin Léger said...

I really need to get into Arrow. Everyone is telling how good it is.

Also you have habit to coming down to the movies with a lot of violence on women. Out of the 19 movies I watched so far, you came to the six which had that trope.

Siskoid said...

Russell: I can't discipline myself to watch TV anymore, so I get the DVDs and see the show for the first time in that format. And as to why this is useful, read on...

Marty: You can borrow the DVD sets any time, my friend. They're just two flights of stairs away ;)

I got bad lucky, eh? Well, we'll always have Pontypool.

Martin Léger said...

I'll definitly come and get Arrow sometime. And you did attend most of the art house stuff. Artsy stuff, they can be twisted.


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