Series Review: Arrow Season 2 (2013 – 2014)

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Rating: 6/10

You might have seen my very snarky review of Season 1 here, and let me tell you, I walked into this with some trepidation. I am deliriously happy (okay, not really so deliriously) to report that most people aren’t stinking liars and that Season 2 is much better than season one. There are notable efforts, both from the cast and the storyline, and it reflects well in the show.

What I liked:

My main man John Diggle is still my main man. He’s awesome. I wish he had his own show. On the one hand I really enjoyed the character development and flashbacks he got but as I mention below, there are way too many arcs at this point.

Season 2

Felicity Smoak. I still love her, her awkwardness and hilarious commentary. I also noted how short her dresses are becoming, just proving the fact that men can be badass on screen in suits and full outfits whereas women are only allowed tight leather and skimpy dresses.

Slade Wilson. The actor. Goodness. Manu Bennett is massive, impressive and scary as hell. I think he suits Deathstroke quite well. I don’t blame him for wanting to kick Oliver’s ass, I really don’t. He looks impressive in a suit too *super innocent whistling*

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Kevin Alejandro as Sebastian Blood. The character had a lot of potential and I wish Alejandro can get some permanent fixture somewhere – I loved him in True Blood and he also did very well in here. Blood is written well enough and I was never really sure if he was truly bad or just really messed up. He walks a very thin line and his connection to Slade Wilson was unexpected from my side and well done. However, I did not like how bluntly the show ended for him.

All things annoying in one collage

The death of that central character. Someone had to eventually die – you can’t keep a show like this on course if you don’t give the hero something else to feel guilty about!

What I didn’t like:

There are way too many things going on. We are sitting with Slade Wilson arriving at the party to kick some ass, Sebastian Blood being insane AF, the whole Felicity and Oliver thing, Malcolm being alive and a stealthy assassin to boot, John Diggle entering the management of the Suicide Squad, his flashbacks into Afghanistan, all his relationship dramas, Roy and Thea, their dramas and Roy’s mutation, Sarah Lance returning (saw that one coming a mile far), Moira Queen continuing with making us wonder if she’s bad or if she’s not, Thea’s patronage (FFS man) and Laurel Lance becoming the hugest pain in everyone’s butts. And I’m not even mentioning everything here at this point.

Laurel. UGHHHHH. Why did she have to become the long suffering whining alcoholic petty and selfish character? Over that. Really. Your sister and your boyfriend were tortured for five years and you’re upset that everyone doesn’t love you the most? Go away.

The arc of the CEO of Queen Consolidated. Go away. No acting skills, no sassy, nothing. Go away.

Arrow

There will always be something worth watching.

I’ll watch Season 3 as well – this show can be such excellent background noise when it needs to be. A lot of improvement but still a long way to go.

Have you seen season 2? Thoughts? Opinions?

Series Review: Arrow Season 1 (2012)

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Rating: 5.5/10

What I liked

  • I’m going to start with the final episode. It was good and arguably the best of the season. It started out so vague that I went back to check if I had missed an episode. I didn’t, it was following the standard format of the show. It managed to develop into an emotional episode that was jam packed with drama. That episode alone convinced me to give the second season a try. So, well done guys on getting one episode right out of 23. Great job.
  • David Ramsey as John Diggle. Wow. Can’t he be the main superhero? Please. ONE person in this show that has acting skills! He is a saving grace and I enjoy the scenes that he’s in. He is also subjected to terrible lines, but at least he knows something about acting.

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  • Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak. The IT genius tech is given a proper spot on the show to provide comedic relief, and she does it well. I enjoyed the awkwardness of her character and the fact that she is a complete nerd – a very beautiful one sure, but at least they tried. Rickards should try to improve the timing of her punch lines and refrain from doing things that a scientist should do – she’s IT, but I did enjoy her.
  • Willa Holland as Thea Queen. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the character, but she is one of the better parts of the series. I am interested to see where the show takes her. She starts out as the spoiled rich kid but quickly develops into a better person.
  • The scenes on the island. That is marginally interesting and I would love to know more about stealthy Chinese man at this point. Also, really appreciative of everything Slade Wilson brings to the table.
  • Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance. In Supernatural she was Ruby version 2.0, and a much more enjoyable one. She is way more tolerable as a character in Arrow. I do like her character, just the acting that still needs to evolve a bit.
  • Colin Donnel as Tommy Merlin. The initial party boy sneaks into your heart, and is also part of the tiny circle of people that doesn’t speak in stage whispers or employ eye wriggles to get their point across.

 JB

What I didn’t like

  • Arrow is more Days of our Lives than Superhero. Seriously, this feels like a soapie. The acting certainly furthers that idea.
  • The dialogue. Cringe. Cringe. Cringe.
  • The main villain. John Barrowman. Just, what? I was so irritated by him. He mostly just looked very dirty, but I could ignore that if he wasn’t the epitome of the rich and successful of this show. His copycat hood looked amazing but was rarely used. Why is his true character introduced so late into the show? He is a bad father, sure, but initially he just looks like the run of the mill rich parent that couldn’t care less about their children except that they be heir someday.
  • OLIVER QUEEN HAS LESS STEALTH THAN JACOB ZUMA’S POLITICAL AGENDA RIGHT NOW.
    • He’s SO chill when someone finds out who he is. It’s like: “Yeah, you know I’m murdering people but I am sure I can trust you completely, person I’ve just met”
    • Stephen Amell’s acting. Let’s not even go into this. Does he think he’s a voice over actor? Because he has a I’M BATMAN voice and this seriously low pitched serial killer voice when he tries to show his feelings. Also, why does he talk so slow? I’m sure the average comprehension speed of the watchers isn’t THAT slow.
    • HE HAS NO STEALTH: Asking your IT guy at work to hack documents for you that ARE CLEARLY SECRET, not even caring that she might find it interesting to mention it to other people.
    • THE STAGE WHISPERING. OMFG. I’m dead about this.
    • The hood – you can still see his face dammit.
  • The pacing. These actors have NO pacing. They just mumble out the words and DONE.
  • Voice overs. Dead.
  • Paul Blackthorne as Detective Lance. EYE WRIGGLING, BODY SHAKING, I’M SUCH A GOOD ACTOR.
  • The cut and dried method of each episode. Zoom in on baddie, take him down, go smile beautifully at something.

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Slade’s guns are definite pros!

Seriously, the show’s main redeeming qualities are Steven Amell’s chest and those dreamy eyes. He needs to learn to act though, he needs to connect to his character. It isn’t all bad, it’s just not written in a superhero format, and itis reminiscent of Days of Our Lives. The dialogue makes me ashamed and they are ruining a truly excellent storyline. I’m not saying it needs to be super dark – goodness knows there are enough dark shows to go around. They should just learn to connect the characters emotionally to the material and not be so damn cheesy all the time. I’ve heard a few times that the series improves in time. This proved to be true at the end of season two, so I will give season two a chance. This show is mindless enough to enjoy without thinking about it and since you form no attachments it is not a train smash when a character dies, I guess it can be considered light watching.

PS: JUST DON’T THINK TOO HARD. THE QUESTIONS WILL BE ENDLESS THEN.

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PS: Let’s not forget:

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Taken (2009)

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Bryan: I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. 

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) seems to be an elderly man that retired to be closer to his daughter. Kim (Maggie Grace) lives with her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her wealthy stepfather (Xander Berkeley). On Kim’s birthday, Bryan gives her a karaoke set, and while she loves it, her stepfather’s gift of a horse vastly overshadows the thoughtful gift Bryan spent months deciding over.

Bryan agrees to do some security work with his friends to protect a pop star, Sheerah (Holly Valance) at a performance. When the crowd breaks loose and someone tries to hurt her, Bryan shows his impressive defensive skillset and saves her life and gets her to safety. Grateful, Sheerah offers her help, and the help of her assistants, to Kim, who wants to be a singer too.

Bryan plans to tell Kim what he organised for her the following day but she once again overshadows his extremely thoughtful acts. Kim and Lenore shows up to ask Bryan’s permission that Kim can travel with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) to Paris to presumably see art museums. Bryan is worried, having seen how evil the world is, and rejects Kim’s pleas. Later on he agrees with a very strict set of rules: that she calls him when she lands, each night and if she plans to move location. Kim agrees, and accepts the international phone her father hands her.

At the LA Airport, Bryan discovers that Kim and Amanda are planning to follow U2 on their European tour, not visit museums. He is even more upset when he finds out Lenore knew of their plan and did not tell him. She manages to get him to still allow Kim to board the plane, assuring him that the teens will be fine.

Kim and Amanda meet Peter (Nicolas Giraud) a handsome young man at the Paris Airport. They are very excited about his interest in them, and they agree to share a taxi to save on costs. They tell him a lot about themselves, and Amanda shares that they have the flat in Paris to themselves, something Kim didn’t know about, and she is upset because she promised her father there would be some supervision. The moment Peter is alone he calls someone telling them the exact location of the two girls.

Inside the apartment, Kim gradually relaxes and starts having a good time. After using the bathroom, she notices her father tried to call her, and while talking to him assailants appear and she sees Amanda being attacked by men. She hysterically tells her father what is happening, and Bryan gets her to crawl under a bed in the closest bedroom. He tells her that they assailants are going to take her, and when they do, she should keep the call going and call out as many identifiable characteristics she can. Moments later, she is snatched from the bed and taken away. Bryan tells the person who is listening, one of the assailants, that if his daughter isn’t left alone, Bryan will find and kills them.

Back in the States, Bryan is calmly working through panic. He calls on a former colleague Sam (Leland Orser), who identifies the accents of the assailants as Albanian, and tells him that it is most likely an Albanian human trafficking ring that targets female tourists at the airport, getting them hooked onto drugs and then keeping them in prostitution. Bryan, who put this entire conversation on speakerphone in Lenore and Stuart’s house, makes sure that the successful Stuart didn’t have any enemies wanting to get back at him. When that is cleared up, he asks Stuart to organize him a plane into Paris immediately, and Lenore begs Bryan to get her back safely. He tells her that he must first find their daughter to do that.

                Bryan immediately heads to the flat where Kim and Amanda would have stayed, and investigates the signs of fighting, and quickly analyses where Kim was taken. He gets the broken phone and the memory card with the photos Kim took on, and makes Peter out in the reflection he took of them.

Bryan sees Peter at the airport, but Peter is killed by a bus before giving any helpful information. Bryan meets an old associate, Jean-Claude (Olivier Rabourdin), who is now behind a desk and sorely wishes to leave Paris whole and not suffer under Bryan’s hunt for his daughter. He does point Bryan to Porte de Chichy, where it is rumoured that the prostitution there is being run by an East European gang. Jean-Claude gets someone to tail Bryan, but Bryan is able to easily dodge him. Jean-Claude warns that Bryan will get deported if he continues with his vigilante justice, but Bryan avoids arrest when Jean-Claude tries to corner him.

Bryan gets to a brothel and finds Kim on a prostitute that is very high on drugs. Fighting off the brothel guards, he manages to get the girl to safety, and after feeding her some proper medication to help her, she reveals Kim gave it to her. She gives Bryan information about a house with a red door, and Bryan manages to track it down. There he eventually finds the man he warned on the phone, and after torturing him Marko (Arben Bajraktaraj) tells Bryan that Kim will be sold to the highest bidder at an auction.

                Will Bryan find Kim alive and whole, and most importantly, before she is sold and never seen again?

Rating: 8/10

This movie looked appealing right from the start and did not disappoint in the least. It is one of the best action movies I have watched in ages, and the storyline was solid and based on terrifying truths. I can definitely see myself watching this again; it might even become a recurring type of event.

Liam Neeson was excellent as Bryan Mills, and every punishing act he delivered was with conviction. I loved that Bryan had no qualms taking down people who were hurting his most prized possession, and that he was able to do it with so much talent.

It took me some time recognising where I had seen Famke Jansen (in Breaking Dawn) and I think the role of Kim suited her perfectly well. I had great sympathy and angst for her and Amanda, and thought that they were getting such harsh “punishment” for a simple vacation, even though Kim wasn’t completely honest with her dad about the plans for the trip.

I was eventually so pissed with Jean-Claude and how he was willing to sacrifice Kim and his friendship with Bryan just to have a comfortable lifestyle. It seemed to be a recurring theme, the “hey, it is not personal, it is business” and I especially enjoyed Patrice Saint-Clair’s demise. I mean honestly, who takes some man’s daughter into a life of horror and prostitution and expects him to see it as not personal?!

This movie made a lot of things clear:

Never mess with Liam Neeson, or his daughter,

Don’t travel alone

DON’T travel to Paris alone

DON’T speak to charming French men (is there even such a thing, Zoe?)

Travel with a big strong guy, or Liam Neeson.Have you seen Taken?

Did you love/hate it? Tell me!