Captain Marvel – An Old White Critic’s View

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is well placed in the verse to help build up the ever increasing frenzy of anticipation for “Endgame” and if one old white film critic may be so bold, it is a fine addition to the ever increasing list of Mar-vell films on offer for fans of the comic universe to view. (And yes, this is one hell of a long sentence …) Starring Brie Larson as the title character/Carol Danvers with computer ‘air-brushed’ versions of Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg and a pretty decent cameo by Annette Bening, the film; a jointly directed effort by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, is a bit of enjoyable, female empowering, fun.

Jude Law, complete with yellow coloured eyes, does a brilliant turn as fellow Kree warrior Yon-Rogg and it is difficult not to fall in love with Brit actress Lashana Lynch character Maria Rambeau. This final piece of the ‘Endgame’ puzzle fits in nicely with everything leading up to the final battle of The Avengers v. Thanos and gives us a feel good factor of 100.

One does not have to be a Captain Marvel fan to appreciate this new and improved version of the superhero and if the viewer was not a Brie Larson fan going into this installment, it is almost guaranteed that they will be by the time the end credits, and the final teaser trailer roll.

One melancholic note was the opening montage of Stan Lee Marvel cameos that reminded us of the heart of Marvel’s passing. Later in the film, Stan is reading the Mallrats script – circa 1995 – a fact pointed out in other reviews, and it is a bittersweet moment indeed.

The plot is a tad convoluted, it has to be though as it is a necessary addition to the verse (film-wise) thus far and it ties everything in very nicely to the overall story-arc. But as a standalone film, Captain Marvel overachieves in terms of powerful female role models. Everyone of the feminine gender is strong and self actualized, even the baddy – Gemma Chan as the Kree warrior who ‘has never liked’ Marvel, aka Vers…

Marvel looks stunning, the film, not the character – although Larson is beyond impressive as the title character. The set pieces and the scenery, which is most likely CG but looks brilliant in spite of its computer origins, are gorgeous and the characters all step out smartly to add a lot to the existing story.

(It has to be pointed that “Endgame” intrudes through the entire film, one cannot help but overthink the entire installment and wonder just how, or when, the timeline will marry up with the whole Thanos storyline. It takes the time-travel theory and stands it on its head but also makes one wonder if this is even a factor when the cinema airs the latest installment of the Spiderman franchise trailer after he “dies’ in “Infinity War.”)

At two hours and three minutes the film does drag a bit at the start, but, and this is a big but, it is necessary to set up the main character’s personality and to show what a prig Jude Law’s character is. (Without revealing too much about the plot, it is sufficient to say that Yon-Rogg is an insufferable arse…)

Captain Marvel takes a lot of nods and winks, not least of which is Nick Fury’s “Marvel” line, and one can literally see a load of homages in the film. Groot-like death dealing by the cat is only one of the nods given to other films in the verse. It is all good fun and while there are some extemporaneous and downright slow bits in the film, it is greater than the sum of its parts.

This is a full five star addition to the Marvel-verse and one that must be seen prior to the final installment of Infinity Wars – aka Endgame. Check it out before April 26 and the big battle between our Marvel heroes and Thanos…

You, Me and the Apocalypse: 24 Hours to Go – And Now a Word From Our Sponsor (Review)

You Me and the Apocalypse is a black comedy. Up to this point the one-off series (in the UK at any rate) has focussed on the comedy with the darker elements either glossed over or tinged with humor. In 24 Hours to Go It is as though the show is taking a break from the humor and allowing a word from the sponsor; death.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

You Me and the Apocalypse is a black comedy. Up to this point the one-off series (in the UK at any rate) has focussed on the comedy with the darker elements either glossed over or tinged with humor. In 24 Hours to Go It is as though the show is taking a break from the humor and allowing a word from the sponsor; death.

Overall the episode was fairly grim with a look at how the world would react at the apocalypse.  Jude’s murder, obviously done by Father Christophe at the orders of the Cardinal, is called a suicide and the clergy cannot wait to put him in the ground at Rome. Celine takes the body back to Slough so Jude can be buried near his family.

Sutton learns of Jamie and Ariel blackmails his grandmother. Everyone begins the episode in celebration believing that the Saviour program worked.  General Gaines shoots the president the moment they arrive at the Genesis bunker and allows the poppet the US leader  brought in place of the first lady to escape.

Rhonda has been sentenced to death and amazingly, Leanne (Megan Mullally) is brought in and placed in the cell next to the librarian. The white supremacist provides the comedic highlight of this more somber episode as the guards have her cuffed up like Hannibal Lector.  (She later wolfs down her last meal telling the guard that she is going to “poop like you’ve never seen” when she dies.) 

General Gaines tells the world that Saviour failed and that he will die with them.

Celebrations turn to hysteria and panic, except in the Slough pub where Jude’s wake is held. This is England and the group decide to have a knees-up to see out the end of the world. Celine goes along with this.

Later, after imbibing too many shots, Celine heads to the loo (restroom) to throw up. There she sees God (June Whitfield)  who tells her that Jude is in heaven and that he says hello. God also reveals that she still needs Celine and that she is:

“part of my plan. Always have been and always will be.”

Sidenote: It is fitting that June Whitfield was chosen to be God, the woman is an institution in England.  June has been a household name since 1953, where she became known for working on radio.  American audiences may not “get it” but this reviewer was excited to see the performer and (to be honest) June’s portrayal brought a  little tear.

Ariel kidnaps Jamie right after he meets Sutton (Diana Rigg) and gets the invite to her “family” bunker.  The evil twin puts Jamie in his bank vault and then impersonates his good twin to take Layla and Frankie to the bunker and leave Jamie to die.

Jamie’s mum (played so wonderfully by another English treasure Pauline Quirke) is completely fooled by Ariel, as is Dave (her new fiancee) and all three indulge in a group hug while Ariel cringes.

Spike shames Scotty and Gaines into rescuing Rhonda.  Gaines bullies his way onto the military base where she is being held.  The general provides another comic moment when he threatens to go Mount Vesuvius all over a prison guard:

“Is that what you want? You want me to erupt and spray my hold molten lava upon you? Is that what you really want? To be my Pompeii?”

(Easily the most sexual threat in the history of television.)

He succeeds in getting Scotty’s sister out but she then demands the release of Leanne. The guard gets suspicious and pulls his gun, Scotty leaps in front of his spouse and is shot. Gaines kills the guard and Leanne gets out.

This leads to a running gun battle between the remaining military and the rescue team, which now has a wounded Scott,   along with Rhonda and Leanne. Rhonda’s friend is  pretty formidable taking out soldiers while still cuffed and she is last seen disappearing around a corner in her Hannibal Lector chains.

Celine goes back to the church and is once more Sister Celine. She tells Jude that soon she will be with him.

You, Me and the Apocalypse has saved its darker moments for near the end. This penultimate episode was less about the laughs, although the black humor is still there, and more about bringing everyone together for the end.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Layla and Jamie

The death of Jude is still a shocker and so too is the possible death of Jamie in that bank vault. Although it appears that Jamie will survive and it is him doing the narration at the start of each episode.

We know that he makes it out of the vault because of his attire while watching the end of the world “on telly.” Pink shorts and a blue vest (t-shirt) is what our narrator is wearing, the same clothes Jamie  had on in the vault.

The last episode will show who made it to the bunker and who did not. There have been teasing little glimpses through out the series. We’ve seen Rhonda, Frankie and Gaines as well as Jamie, but there are still others who have not been seen.

You, Me and the Apocalypse suffered from a loss of viewers in the UK where it originally aired and one wonders it that was down to Jude Laws’ character being killed off.  It could well be that the the finale will carry on with the grim tone and lose most of its comic flavor which could well be the real reason the show was not brought back.

The season finale airs next Thursday on NBC.

 

You, Me and the Apocalypse: Saviour Day – Hey Jude (Recap/Review)

You, Me and the Apocalypse: Saviour Day moves things that bit closer to the end of the world and it appears that everyone is prepared to lie about that day. Except, it seems, Father Jude. While the world waits to see if Saviour is going to work, Frankie proves the power of the child and Celine makes a decision.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

You, Me and the Apocalypse: Saviour Day moves things that bit closer to the end of the world and it appears that  everyone is prepared to lie about that day. Except, it seems, Father Jude. While the world waits to see if Saviour is going to work, Frankie proves the power of the child and Celine makes a decision.

Layla and Jamie put up flyers about the missing Frankie. General Gaines and Scotty take the president into the command center to watch the missile hit the comet.  McNeil has  good gag with a banana and a muffin which he uses  as a visual aid.

Jude and Celine are interrupted by Father Christophe (Anthony Howell) and the sister hides in the closet. The two discuss leaving the church and Jude says they must wait until their mission is over.  

Frankie (Grace Taylor) may not necessarily be the new messiah, but she quickly discovers Ariel’s breaking point, mess and noise, after playing her version of 20 questions, and promising to wet herself repeatedly, till her evil uncle snaps.

Ariel: “Oh my God! Do you ever shut up?”

The tiny messiah has won and the evil twin goes to give her all the sweets she wants.  To be fair, Ariel does bring it on himself, after all, what child likes to eat peas?

Layla and Jamie discover a head-sized box by the canal where Frankie went missing.  The couple see the box:

Layla: “Jamie look…”

Jamie: “Have you seen Seven?”

Layla: (Angry) “How’s that helping Jamie? How’s that helping?”

Jamie: “No, I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.”

They open the box and find a balloon and a letter. The former has writing on it saying that Ariel wants Layla/Hawkwind back and the letter includes instructions on what he wants, in poem form.  Layla reads the directions and then goes on:

Layla: “Then it gets a bit porny…No, make that very  porny.”

Layla comes up with a plan to rescue Frankie by having Jamie take his wife hostage.

Celine is caught leaving Jude’s room by the mother superior and she tells the sister to make a choice. Jude, who Father Christophe called to a secret meeting is approached by his new wife and she tells him how she feels and what he needs to do.

Jude tells Celine they will talk later. Rhonda learns that now she is in a military prison, she will most likely be shot for treason. Layla pumps up Jamie to play the “snapped” good brother as he does not believe that Ariel will buy it:

Layla: “Jamie, I hate to break it to you, but you are absolutely 100 percent the type to snap.”

Jamie pulls it off.

Jude attends the meeting and learns that the church’s hierarchy plan to lie to the people and assign a false messiah. Disgusted at his fellow clergy, Jude removes his dog collar and quits.  As he leaves, the leader of the group gives Father Christophe a sign, it looks like Jude’s fate may be sealed, since they want their decision kept  secret.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
General Gaines, the US president and Scotty

At the command center, Scotty, Gen. Gaines and the president wait for the rocket to reach the comet.  After impact they wait to see if the projectile has been knocked off course. The impact takes place and the room breaks into wild celebration.

Celine makes her decision to go back into the order and leaves Jude a letter.

Layla and Jamie meet Ariel at the carpark where he was left by Mary. Layla quickly runs down things he needs to know, like Frankie’s giraffe outfit, she has spares and so on. She reveals that she and Frankie watched the videos that Jamie made while he searched for his wife.

Ariel arrives, with a bomb.

Ariel: “Looks like you brought a gun to a bomb fight, Jamie. School boy error…School boy error.”

Jamie wins, with help from Frankie and then Layla. Ariel runs off blinded by the mace after also being kicked in the b**** by Layla/Hawkwind. Although it is close. Ariel actually overpowers his twin at first, but Frankie’s sick(vomit) keeps the detonator from working.

Saviour does not work. When the news is announced it turns out that the clergy are not the only ones prepared to  lie. The command center personnel are rounded up by armed guards as the world is told via the media that the mission was a success.

The order of nuns that Celine returns to are dancing and drinking in celebration of the news about Saviour working.  Jude arrives and leaves a message for Celine, he hands the dog collar over to the mother superior and asks her to give it to his wife.

Jude: “I have always wanted to visit a convent and this is exactly as I hoped it would be.”

The president addresses the world and Scotty asks if he is okay doing this. The American leader replies, that he is fine, he has “done this a million times.” The implication being that he has lied to the public that many times. Brilliant.

Rhonda reacts jubilantly at the news that Saviour worked.  During the president’s speech  we see the captive command post personnel, Jamie, Frankie and Layla and also  Rhonda dancing around her cell.

Jude is in his room waiting for Celine, his door opens and he turns expectantly. Scotty and Arnold Gaines hug while the general cries, Rhonda shouts that she loves her brother and Celine enter’s Jude’s room to find his body hanging from the ceiling.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Gracie Taylor and Mathew Baynton.

Standout Moments: 

Frankie, after discovering her uncle’s achilles heel looks at him coldly and dispassionately. She then launches into the world’s most annoying siren noise. This is followed by the promise to wet herself, twice and that he will have to clean it. This breaks the OCD villain  down completely.

Frankie, again, projectile vomiting all those sweets that Ariel gave her; all over him.

Layla telling Jamie that he is the nicest man she has even known, then asking him to be a “d***.”

Jude telling it like it is at the secret meeting: “Am I the only one with the b*** to stand up for the truth?”

Layla, again, spraying Jamie in the eyes with the mace in the car.

The president doing tongue twisters to warm up before this speech.

Final Thoughts:

You, Me and the Apocalypse: Saviour Day is a roller coaster episode. The end of which should have had the viewer in tears.  Brilliant comedy throughout the proceedings and then a rapid series of sucker punches, leaving the viewer saddened and reaching for that damned tissue box.

#YMATA has been ended after one season, but there are still a few episodes in this one to go yet. There is the question of just how all the people spotted in Jamie’s prologue, from that bunker in Slough, get there.

With two episodes left, much is left for the survivors to do. You, Me and the Apocalypse airs Thursdays on FOX. Tune is and see if Jude is really dead…Or did he overpower Father Christophe…Or is that wishful thinking?

You, Me and the Apocalypse: T-Minus (Recap/Review)

You, Me and the Apocalypse: T-Minus moves the series to its inevitable conclusion. (For this brilliant end of the world program, it really is the end as Sky has axed the series after one season.)

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

You, Me and the Apocalypse: T-Minus moves the series to its inevitable conclusion. (For this brilliant end of the world program, it really is the end as Sky has axed the series after one season.) Jamie and Dave are in Suffolk hunting down Frankie and Layla/Hawkwind. Father Jude and Sister Celine are in Malta trying to get to Paradise Island. Ariel learns that Frankie and Hawkwind are in Suffolk as well and Rhonda sets out to see her husband. Scotty falters during the Saviour briefing and leaves the room where he is arrested by US Marshall Tess Carter.

In Suffolk, after buying a toy giraffe for his daughter, Dave suggests a monster truck, Jamie learns that Layla ( who now calls herself Sophie) has been arrested. The two men head to the magistrates court and Jamie finds his daughter Frankie there. The two finally meet and  his daughter reveals she really would have liked a monster truck.

Dave (coughing): “Told you.”

Sophie is on trial for stealing a free asthma inhaler.  The judge is annoyed at Sophie’s use of the word “wankers” and fines the woman £400.  Jamie says he will pay the fine but his card is rejected so he gives the clerk his mini-van.  The small family is reunited.

Ariel heads out to Suffolk to claim Frankie.

Standout Moment:

Ariel’s Irish bodyguard, the female member of the duo who kidnapped him,  stops him from taking charge of the chloroform, that he grabs from the boot (trunk) of a car.  “Do you think I’m stupid,” she says, “I’ll take the chloroform, you’ll take the gaffer tape.” Ariel agrees and asks where the tape is. The colleen pauses and then leans into the boot to grab the tape, Ariel slams the lid down, knocking her out. 

In Malta, the two clerics are trying to get to the island to meet Ruthless, yet another “messiah” and they learn no one gets to the island unless they are married. More ominous is the news that no one returns.  Jude and Celine get “married” and kiss.

Scotty learns about Russia getting rid of daylight savings a year previously while in Carter’s jail cell. He realizes that Saviour may have a coding problem and miss the comet. In order to be released, he has to give up his sister. Rhonda finally gets to the hospital and as she enters her husband’s room, Carter’s officers swoop in and arrest her.

The newlyweds learn that Ruthless is a lottery winner who believes God was sending him a message.  Back in Suffolk, Dave is left to be beaten by Frankie with her stuffed giraffe while Sophie/Layla/Hawkwind explains the whole Ariel/Jamie triangle.

On Paradise Island, the married couple confess that they are from Rome to investigate Ruthless. They learn that the entire set up at the island is a huge orgy arranged by the lottery winner and his wife.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Celine and Jude meet the “shag-a-thon.”

Scotty rushes to the command center to explain about daylight savings.  The technicians have to re-write the Saviour interface immediately. Dave and Frankie play by the river while Hawkwind (Karla Crome) goes through her backstory.

Backstory:

Ariel was madly jealous of Jaimie as Mary kept “banging on” about how special he was. The evil twin then created a computer game called “Doofus” that he used to make his twin’s life a misery. Hawkwind was dispatched to be Jamie’s girlfriend as a joke but  once she met him, went on to fall in love with the good twin.

On their honeymoon, Layla learned she was pregnant and Ariel showed up to reclaim her. Jamie’s new wife opted to disappear.

As Layla reveals all to Jamie, Ariel grabs Frankie for Sutton.

Scotty is grief-stricken at “selling out” Rhonda and breaks down during the launch of Saviour. Back in Malta, Jude and Celine miss the ferry and the newly married Sister sees the sign that Frankie told her of in Poland. The four horses, which are on a film poster, seem to signify that the two should be together.

Father Jude says he should not break his vows and neither should she after admitting that Celine is all he thinks about. She suggests he pray to see if God wants them to be together. He prays for a sign and the fireworks start from the Saviour watch. They kiss again.

Rhonda is taken to see her husband, set up by general Arnold who shows Scotty. Jamie and Layla discover Dave badly injured and Frankie gone.  They learn that Ariel has his niece as the evil twin tells Grandma Sutton that she does not get Frankie till he is in the bunker. Ariel also plans to take Hawkwind with him.

While Ariel rambles on about playing happy families forever, the camera moves to Jude and Celine.  The couple have apparently consummated their wedding; on a small fishing boat. (See what they did there?)

You, Me and the Apocalypse may not be coming back after this single season but thus far, despite falling viewing figures, the series is entertaining. It shows that in terms of great entertainment on television, the Brits rule.

Funny, irreverent and outside the box this show is a breath of fresh air. Meghan Mullally was missed this week but as her name appears in further episodes, in the credits, perhaps she will be popping back up.

Sky television stated that the decision to kill the show after one season was that it has reached its natural conclusion. The real reason may be the lack of viewers, in the UK the show started with over 5 million and then dropped dramatically as the series progressed. In the U.S. on NBC  a similar trend has occurred.

It is doubtful that the American network will take up the reins  of the show to bring the world a second season. And if they did would it be as witty, clever or funny? Most probably not, there is a world of difference between British and American humor and the next offering would not be  “up to snuff.”

Until the end of You, Me and the Apocalypse, tune in on Thursdays over at NBC.  It may be over after a few more episodes but it is a series well worth holding onto till it finishes.

You, Me and the Apocalypse: Right in the Nuts – Schrödinger’s Cat (Review)

Before doing a quick rundown of what has transpired in this episode of You, Me and the Apocalypse: Right in the Nuts now may be a good time to mention Schrödinger’s cat.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

Before doing a quick rundown of what has transpired in this episode of You, Me and the Apocalypse: Right in the Nuts now may be a good time to mention Schrödinger’s cat. Scotty brings up the feline during the tense time that he and the general discuss the fate of Ariel (The White Horse) who is locked up in the boot (trunk) of a car downstairs.

It is interesting that the physicist feline is mentioned. Sure it is a clever way to reference the events that are transpiring in this particular scenario. The unconscious cyber terrorist lay in the back of the car while upstairs Scotty and the general  discuss his fate, Scotty wracked with guilt:

Scotty: “I mean, the white horse could be dead out there. It’s like Schrödinger’s cat with a car and a cyber terrorist. He’s both dead and undead.”

General Arnold: “Scotty…”

Scotty: “I’m a murderer and not a murderer, simultaneously…”

General Arnold: “Scotty!”

The whole theory of Schrödinger’s cat deals with a cat, a box, geiger counter, radioactive material, poison and a hammer. In a nutshell, there is a chance that inside this box, the cat will be poisoned if the radioactive stuff is detected by the geiger counter causing the hammer to release the poison and kill the cat.  The premise is that until one opens the box to see, the cat is both dead and not dead.

This theorem is a “thought” experiment in Quantum Theory looking at the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Schrödinger posited that the Interpretation was incorrect with his own feline question and the thing has caught the imagination of creative types since its introduction back in 1935.

Rather interestingly, I was positive that Scotty mentioning the theory in episode five of You, Me and the Apocalypse, was actually the second time it had been mentioned in the series.  So convinced, in fact, that this entire review was going to be about the theory, as seen through the eyes of a physicist  ignoramus (with an imagination) but upon checking, it appears that Scotty McNeill is the only one who mentions it.

Regardless of whether the damned cat was mentioned once or twice; it does evoke a particular favorite plot point or device, if you will, of this reviewer.

Duality.

All of You, Me and the Apocalypse can be seen as a myriad of dual lives, paths, and parallel journeys. Jamie and Ariel, each a different side of the same coin are a perfect example. Although at the core, Jamie is Apollonian and Ariel distinctly Dystopian.

In episode five, Right in the Nuts, it is revealed that Mary, the mother of the twins, left Jamie in a church car park (parking lot)  because a voice told her that he was “God’s.” Indeed Jamie is the “good one” and Ariel is the evil (cyber terrorist and murderer) one.  As identical twins, these two almost embody Schrödinger’s cat.

This could all be a bit of twaddle but each “team,” as it were, is made up of disparate members; Celine, as the good sister and Jude as the almost fallen priest,  Rhonda as the “good wife and mother” and Leanne as the darker version of same.

The series is a black comedy with a cast  that all evoke extreme images of characters and in many cases polar opposites of one another. Rhonda as the mother librarian who wants nothing more than cold chocolate milkshake, compared to Leanne’s steak and sex wish for example, seems too good to be true. Father Jude, however, despite his almost caricature-like posturing, feels amazingly real. Each of these team members are miles apart, on the surface, from each other.

Of course both the characters owe much to Jenna Fisher and Rob Lowe, just as Sister Celine would not be the same if portrayed by anyone other than Gaia Scodellaro. Or,  for that matter, Megan Mullally as Leanne.

It does feel like You, Me and the Apocalypse is pursuing much more than a possible ecclesiastical storyline, where there really is a “messiah” somewhere and that his name may just be Jamie, although the introduction of his daughter Frankie (Grace Taylor) sort of negates that possibility, despite what mother Mary was “told.”

All of these characters appear to be interlinked, as pointed out when Sutton (Diana Rigg) ordered blood samples taken from the players, including Jude. So while the “religiosity” of the show seems apparent, it is also about parallel paths and outcomes which can be seen as a connection to Schrödinger’s cat above and beyond the Scotty MacNeal reference.

Or not.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

Now, as promised earlier, the mini-recap of events. Leanne (Meagan Mullally) and Rhonda finally reach the supremacist’s Tennessee home only to have the librarian taken hostage for the reward.  Later, Leanne lets her friend go with money, food and a car after slipping a tranquilizing drug in her family’s meatloaf.

Jamie, Dave and Mary get to Ariel’s house. Mary tells why she gave Jamie up and he learns that Ariel was married to Layla, aka, “Hawkwind”  before she met him. Shortly after realizing that his whole life has been a lie, Dave causes Ariel’s house to explode.

Father Jude and Sister Celine investigate the latest messiah and we learn much of Celine’s backstory and that this latest savior is not what people think she is.

General Arnold and Scotty save Spike and capture Ariel. Unfortunately Sutton’s minions free the cyber terrorist.

In terms of dialogue, there were several standout moments.

Dave’s “Jamie, your vagina mum is amazing.”

Jamie’s  “God doesn’t speak to people outside of Charlton Heston films…” and  “A little bit really mad right now.”

And lastly, the minion reporting, obviously to Sutton about Ariel, General Arnold, Spike and Scotty:

 “Sodding codenames, no bothers to learn them apart from us…”

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Megan Mullally as Leanne, rocking it…

There are five more episodes of You, Me and the Apocalypse. The series airs Thursdays on NBC. Tune in and enjoy the mayhem and blackly comic events.