The Flash: the Sound and the Fury — review

Screenplay by Alison Schapker and Brooke Eikmeier.

Straight-off the bat, Schapker and Eikmeier demonstrate how to write characters well. A big problem with storytelling is that you’re required to show the audience your character deck, without telling them what cards you hold. To do that would be to give the game away, and then there’s just no point in playing. The biggest example of this over the course of The Flash is Harrison Wells. We’ve learnt that he’s not actually disabled, that he has a connection with Reverse-Flash, and then that he is Reverse-Flash. But on the side of the Flash himself, there are other things that have been revealed through their natural course of events rather than being forced to be dramatic, as with recent Arrow episodes.

For this particular episode, the way it’s demonstrated is with the villain Pied Piper. He causes a disturbance, the Flash captures him and takes him down to S.T.A.R. Labs. All quite standard. But whereas Revenge of the Rogues had distinctly comedic characters, with Captain Cold consistently making jokes, Pied Piper progresses to be a psychological gamer, who can unnerve the Flash and make him doubt his own abilities. No other villain’s done that so far. Until this point it was one power beating another, but with Pied Piper’s addition, the level’s been raised on what villains could be. Now that it’s been proven, he’s something of a watergate for quality in antagonists.

Especially as details about his personal life are also only released when it’s necessary. That’s what I like about The Flash – it might be light-hearted and at times cartoonish, but it’s tolerable because it doesn’t take the audience’s intelligence for granted. It knows that tension is created when we realise we don’t know something, not when we learn something new. So it insists on keeping things from us because it knows that’s best. In this relationship, The Flash is a bit of a kinkster, and we’re the gimp. But I love it. I never want to stop being beaten by it.

The Pied Piper even says that being dominated by a man dressed in leather is a long-time fantasy of his. See? Character. Yes, we find out he’s gay, but only from our deductions. He’s not saying that to draw attention to his sexuality, but because he’s playing a mind-game, and is using sex as one side of it. In this instance, that’s the kind of sex he understands. And we, as the audience, are treated intelligently enough to work out the context.

(Plus, he’s not wrong. Being handcuffed by a leather-bound Grant Gustin is a pretty enthralling idea. I mean, Pied Piper isn’t unattractive, but once you’ve discovered Gustin, everything else just leave you slightly less impressed. Not that I wouldn’t go with Pied Piper, cause I would, it’s just that I’d be thinking of the Flash.)

It sounds like I’m patronising the writers by doubting their capability, but it’s because – frankly – I’m fed up with being patronised by everything I see, so when I see something that’s actually good, my reaction to it could be construed as insulting.

But anyway, those are my thoughts on The Flash: the Sound and the Fury. It’s not so much a review as a compliment on this episode’s status as an example of how to write characters really well. Which isn’t to say that other things I watch don’t have well-written characters, it’s just that this is almost a demonstration in how to do it. Not that I have a problem with that.

The Flash: the Sound and the Fury: uncompromising tutorial in writing characters 8/10.


Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: Homecoming — review

Screenplay by Marty Isenberg.

Sometimes, I find myself having mostly not liked something, despite it having some decent elements. Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: Homecoming is one of those.

The episode’s place in the story arc is one of necessity, and it pays-off because of it. The Hulks have, after their last adventure, returned home. So it’s good to see the writers not being scared to move things forward. Development is good, because if the writers are capable, it leads to equal character development. I won’t say there wasn’t any character development here, because this is probably setting-up for the next episodes down the line, but the immediate effect is invisible.

For such an important episode, the execution was very half-hearted. The Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. had finally returned to Earth, only for there to be none of the emotional connections to these characters the show’s demonstrated in the past. It might be mostly a comedy, but the characters nevertheless have a decent emotional spectrum, and the writers have shown that they’ve no problem with exploring it. So when these characters finally achieve the goal they’ve been aiming toward for the best part of two years, they treat it very casually. Instead, it turns into a slugfest between them and the Abomination that reminds all too much of Hulk.

And another thing: Stan Lee’s gratuitous cameo. I quite like Lee’s cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially when they’re subtle as per Marvel’s the Avengers, but his presence here was nothing but forced. He’s mayor of the town! He’s even called Mayor Stan Lee. What? It’s like in Family Guy where Adam West is Mayor of Quahog, but he didn’t create those characters. Stan Lee being the Mayor of a town inhabited by characters he made isn’t “bad”, it’s just… weird. There are just some lines that shouldn’t intersect, and this is one of them.

Mostly, this show is enjoyable and entertaining. No, it’s not top class entertainment, but that’s not what to expect on Disney XD. However, I shall stick with this show because the episodes I haven’t liked are few in number.

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: Homecoming – emotionally discontinuous while stretching belief 4/10.

12 Monkeys: Splinter — review

By Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett.

Something you’ll find with science fiction is that it works better serialised. The most successful self-contained sci-fis are those that take place in the real world, but feature an element of the strange. With a television series, there’s more room for development of the genre. To begin 12 Monkeys, Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett use the first episode, Splinter, not so much to begin a plot or series of events, but to show us how this world works. But that itself turns into a plot, with how far the time-travel model can be pushed.

First, we see how that time travel happens – a special kind of chair is used, which transmits the occupant to a preset destination, with great pain neccessary. Then, they splinter back to that point to report on their findings, while a team of historians track changes made in that room. That’s an ingenious concept for science fiction, with a time travel system that works simply, but effectively.

Once that’s been established, there needs to be a demonstration of how time can be affected. This is demonstrated perfectly with a watch, which when scratched visibly changes the state of a future version of it. This makes it perfectly clear: this is a universe in-which the future can be changed by actions of people with foreknowledge of it. What this gives us is an investable mechanic for James Cole, who’s attempting to alter his own future-present. Because we know time works in that way for that universe, we know there’s a change he can succeed.

Which is also what makes the ending work. This is an episode which assumes it’s a self-contained story, as with other sci-fi, but the ending leads to it becoming a much longer process. In that way, this pilot is a microcosm for the series’ synopsis: the other Monkeys have to be located and eliminated. Had this simply been episode one of a commissioned series, there might have been less self-containedness, but at the time, this stood alone and needed to work as a proof of concept.

It certainly did.

12 Monkeys: Splinter — effective establishment of time-travel rules 7/10.

Banana: Amy — review

Screenplay by Charlie Covell.

Charlie Covell wrote the episode Helen, an episode I reviewed as being quite standard, cliched and nothing more than passable. This episode is also written by Covell, who features as an actor, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Josh and Sophie is still the ultimate screenplay to me and potentially always will be, but this episode definitely comes a close second. Whatever it is that made Helen not really work is now working especially well. Is that because Covell is performing a script she’s written? Who can say? How she came to land the role is still unknown. Whether she was cast separately (unlikely, but possible) or wrote it on the terms of what we end up with (likely, but not necessarily true) doesn’t matter with this episode, as both she, the screenplay and the episode show that writer-actors contributing to the same work isn’t always just for the vanity. That expectation can be there, which makes it important to dispel them.

Luckily, as someone who doesn’t really care, I was able to overlook these things anyway. And I only recognised Covell in the trailer from a Helen interview. Without that, I wouldn’t have known it was her until the end, when I would have been pleasantly surprised. But it would have only been peripheral to the thing itself, which is in-fact made doubly interesting by Covell’s presence.

Covell is – let’s get a few things clear – a better actor than a writer. She’s not a bad writer at all – this episode is proof that she can be unique, and different and quirky and have her own style. As an actor, she’s still that, but more. Everything already written, a kooky, slightly off-piece of morbid humour, becomes something you don’t just enjoy, but something in-which you invest. Covell as the protagonist actually brings a sense of identity to it, and she should definitely write more characters connected to herself, because that pattern (of one dot) is working so far.

Amy worries. Constantly. She perceives everything through its dangers and risks, which controls her mind. On the one hand, it’s amusing, because of the numerous ways she imagines disaster in her current situation, but then it’s also really quite, quite dark. This introverted, insecure worrier has the potential a serial killer. It’s impressive that Covell can combine unconventional laughs with horrific scenes of destruction, and her performance as Amy is the binding material between these two strands.

All of her idiosyncrasies make for something resembling Matt Smith. That’s something that stood out to me throughout – how spookily similar she is to the Eleventh Doctor. Only in this case, it’s because that’s the intention. Covell is like Smith because of an idea behind the character. Smith is like Smith because he just doesn’t know he can’t help it. (Seriously though, Covell’s on my Thirteenth Doctor shortlist).

The measure of a story’s success is in how the characters make you feel. Not whether you enjoyed the story, but whether you enjoyed the characters in it. With Josh and Sophie, it’s frustrating that there’s no spin-off there. With Amy, I still don’t know if a spin-off would work, based on the easy opportunity for it to run itself dry. It really depends on whether Covell would do it, or even has any ideas for it. That’s something that only she can do, but enough is enough. I’m more than satisfied with what this gave me, and the short time slot was used far better than the first time around. Might I suggest Covell do more writing/acting combinations in future?

After watching her first episode, I never thought I’d say this, but Charlie Covell could be the Next Big Thing.

Banana: Amy — scary premonition of vocational success 8/10.

Cucumber: Episode 6 — review

Screenplay by Russell T. Davies.

I’ll get straight to it. This episode transcends the boundaries of what the show is. Now it’s not the best episode – those are still to come – but this definitely accomplishes its goal in such a way that others can’t. As a longtime admirer of Davies’ work, the way this episode was executed surprised even me. Yes, I’ve seen what kind of writer Davies can be, but nothing prepared me for the achievement that is this episode. To be quite honest, this alone should win a BAFTA on the grounds that it’s a fourty-minute episode of a TV show that manages to work like a condensed biopic. Coming out of it, I felt as if I’d just been in a cinema, watching the story of an entire person’s life. All of that was absolutely necessary for Davies to do what he set out to do: write a death that feels meaningful.

Not to lie, I never liked Lance Sullivan that much. Over the series, I’ve found him annoying, whiney and secondary to the main attractions. But what Davies does is to take characters and give them the right stories to elevate them into being loved. You find yourself loving this character, even if you’ve had no investment in him at that point. This episode, in three quarters of an hour, gave Sullivan an entire life in the spotlight – the only way you’d care about the light fading. How exactly he did it is still beyond me. I know he did it – I felt it – but I didn’t notice it. The illusion of storytelling, of writing, was invisible. For the first time, I was unable to remember that everything happening is based on a textual blueprint written by someone I’ve never met in the early hours of the night. What’s he on? Cause I need it. The only thing I can guess is that it’s some form of Writer’s Juice I haven’t discovered yet. If you know of it, do please let me know.

What’s really going on in the duration of this episode is a build to a certain moment. One moment in time, at a certain place, between two people and circumstance. As we see Sullivan’s entire life, literally from the moment of his life beginning, to it ending, we’ve been shown every significant detail. From the van that inspired their new surname, to his numerous partners, his relationship with his Father, to meeting Henry Best, to their relationship falling apart, and how that lead to meeting the person that would stop his life. Not end it, stop it. That was very much what Davies seems to have wanted to do; have Sullivan’s life suddenly stop. Because that’s how life really works. All of a sudden, for no particular reason, you stop being alive. And everything’s that happened before it starts to make sense.

The sequence of Sullivan seeing his life in his dying moments was one of the most effective uses of editing that I’ve, frankly, ever seen. It was surreal, meaningful, sad, beautiful, and with an exponential stutter that in next to no time showed us the dying awareness of Sullivan of what was happening. I’ve convinced myself that Sullivan knew what had happened, and that he was dying, but only a moment to think to process it. In fact, this whole episode could well be what he saw in that moment, as his mind attempts to understands its death by piecing together its past to work out what had happened, almost as if to fight back. You already know Sullivan’s going to die – you’re shown his birth and death year in the final shot of the pre-credits scene (which is typical of Davies to be honest – I can just picturing him watching it with the nation and laughing like a maniac at the terror he’s caused the show’s fanbase), but you only come to accept it as the episode reaches its final act: the Sullivan van driving past, like his own flashback-to-come overlapping to before it was caused, and Queer as Folk‘s Hazel coming to Sullivan in a ghostly image warning him to go home. This turns out to be a racist woman shouting abuse at him, but he sees it as Hazel coming to him. Is Queer as Folk set in the same universe as Cucumber? I like to think so.

All the signs were there. Your strings are being pulled, and you’re hurting, because it’s obvious that Daniel is dangerous. It’s been written all over his personality since the beginning. You’re begging for him not to go with Daniel, even though you’ve already worked out that’s going to be his fatal mistake. It’s painful, but you like Davies for doing it to you. If anyone could pull my heart right out of my body and eat it front of me, I’m glad it was Davies. He can have it all. I find it pleasurable. Does that make me a sadist? You know what, probably. But this is Cucumber, so sadism is hardly going to shock this far in. Especially when Sullivan’s brains are beaten out with a golf club blow. That was the Moment. It had come. But as he worked it out, he died. Shame. No really, it is. I actually came to love Sullivan, because I’d seen his whole life, and had come to understand that someone who’d lived all those years could suddenly not be living any more. Makes me appreciate how young I am, and that’s no lie.

Mr. Davies OBE, I applaud you. You took a person I found a bit bland, and blasted a montage of his life into my eyes and ears, and seared him onto my heart. It was like being Cpt. Picard in the episode Inner Light. I could only understand what it was like to be him by becoming him. By absorbing every part of him. That’s what made the death meaningful – I felt as if I were him. It’s a lesson to other writers in how to write deaths: make us into your characters, and then do it quickly and painlessly. In the end, he’s only to be as cruel as he needs to be. That’s what I love about him – he’ll stab a knife in your eye if the story requires it, but he’ll stop as soon as it doesn’t. Without that kind of mindset, that realistic attitude toward characters, he wouldn’t be able to tell such compelling stories or make us care about people. Every writer could learn from Davies, and this episode is one I shall regard highly in the ming mong mantra.

I didn’t fear death before. God knows I do now.

Cucumber: Episode 6 – lesson in characters and death 9/10.

Ultimate Spider-Man: the Howling Commandos

Adapted screenplay by Man of ActionKevin Burke and Chris Wyatt.

Part of my problem with part one of this two-parter, Ultimate Spider-Man: Blade, is that took itself too seriously. There’s a reason Brooks (Blade) isn’t a part of the modern superhero trend, and it’s because he just doesn’t fit its style right now. When things have gotten a bit darker, maybe. But not right now. As part two of his guest-starring two-part episode, Brooks is downplayed this time, and only appears as a fodder or fighter. Which is a good. If the previous episode proved anything, it’s that you just can’t do anything with him. As a character, he’s very unsubstantial.

And, with Brooks being taken by Dracula, Fury unleashes the Howling Commandos, supernatural beings based on the Universal Monsters series, which incidentally inspired the Marvel Cinematic Universe trend. But somehow – and this is strange considering the episode’s written by the same writers as previously – it works a lot better this time round. Rather than let Brooks take the spotlight, the show remembers that ultimately it’s about Parker, and everything happens to make him important. He gets to say all the best lines, and is definitely the most entertaining part of the episode. And you’d be surprised how many shows can forget this formula, and start to push some other character, despite it not being about them.

Yes, the existence of Dracula in this world doesn’t quite make sense, and can only be executed by resembling Scooby-Doo (how long till Warner Bros. start a cinematic universe for each of those characters?), but the way Parker’s revelation that “Dracula… is real!” is met dumbfounded allows the audience to project their own reaction onto that. Personally, I found myself jumping aboard the Parker ship (because why wouldn’t I?), finding it all quite difficult to comprehend. But that was okay, because he was the same.

Really, this isn’t a show about realism. Let’s get that out of the way. So for what this episode should be congratulated is its consistency, and ability to make everything have the same wacky unreality. It never treats anything like the next big thing, and instead, embraces its wild nature. And it’s much better for it.

Ultimate Spider-Man: the Howling Commandos – a lesson in executing zane (6/10).

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Lockdown — review

Screenplay by Luke Del Tredici.

Season 2 has, so far, been an interesting insight into the workers at Precinct 99. What Tredici does with Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Lockdown is to create a situation in-which most characters are trapped within it during a package scare, the exceptions being Det. Ser. Jeffords and Cap. Holt, who are up to… something else. I honestly can’t remember what. This episode is just that forgettable. And I don’t really have a problem with that, because most episodes are entertaining, so one deviation isn’t going to do any harm, but I take everything I watch for what it is, not as I’d like it to be.

Sometimes, you just don’t get it right. It’s doesn’t have to be someone’s fault. Sometimes, the wind’s just in the wrong direction, and the arrow lands off-target. Sometimes, the jokes just seem off or not-quite-right. It was a good idea, and was potentially one of the best: make the precinct the central character for an episode by closing it due to a scare. It could have been a love letter to the show by portraying how much these people care about the building. Maybe save it for an anniversary special in season ten?

But it’s not something I’ll hold against Brooklyn Nine-Nine, just this episode. Everyone has a bad day, but it doesn’t mean they’re not normally on top form. There are plenty more I’ll gladly watch, and this exception just shows how rare examples of this actually are.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Lockdown — rare example of bad storytelling luck 4/10.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Blade — review

Screenplay by Man of ActionKevin Burk and Chris Wyatt.

With the announcement that Spider-Man’s to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one theory suggests secondary characters can be trialled for spin-offs by being paired with Spider-Man for introductory purposes. This is a good idea. As the most popular Marvel character, Spider-Man gets the highest ratings, views, gross and numbers. And just as the Guardians of the Galaxy were introduced a few episodes ago, Ultimate Spider-Man now welcomes Eric “Blade” Brooks to Disney XD’s Marvel Universe Programming Block.

Traditionally, Brooks is a half-vampire, hunting other vampires while possessing their powers but not weaknesses. Brooks’ presence in the Marvel Universe is caused by the greater presence of Dracula, as created by Bram Stoker in the novel Dracula. Now, the thing about that is that it’s all very well, but it doesn’t really suit Ultimate Spider-Man. The Marvel Universe is a big place, but the version of it presented by that show contrasts too much with the existence of Dracula. That’s why, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, everything correlates. All of it’s science-based – a Norse god’s presence was explained with science that could slot in to the bigger picture. Essentially, putting Dracula into Ultimate Spider-Man‘s world created an undesired conflict in terms of world building. It wasn’t consistent, and the result is that, throughout the episode, it felt out of place, which means it is.

And I say that about a show that’s otherwise very consistent. The humour of the show and the tone and mood binds episodes together, and makes it feel as if they’re all part of one big narrative. With animated shows, maintaining a certain tone is difficult because it’s such an easy style to get wrong, and anyone who can keep one running with the same atmosphere should be congratulated. That’s why The Simpsons is criticised so much today – people feel as if the family life lessons have been side-lined in the place of outgoing, fantastical and arguably unbelievable single-episode epic ideas.

The thing is, Ultimate Spider-Man is just an adaptation of a greater body of work, built from comic book lines sharing a single continuity. Brooks is a part of the same world as Peter Parker. I don’t read the comic books, but I can only assume they’ve met at some point, making Parker aware of Dracula’s existence. And even if that hasn’t happened, it doesn’t make it any less true. Within the fictional narrative of the Spider-Man identity, Dracula’s an equally real part of the world. Of course, just because that’s the way with the source material, that doesn’t mean that all adaptations should include it in the same style, as proven by the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s incorporation of a variety of different genres by standardising them to generally resemble science fiction. In fact, the assumption is that Stephen Strange is going to be a sci-fi character rather than a fantasy character, even if that contrasts with how he’s presented in source material.

The most enjoyable aspect of Ultimate Spider-Man is the way it knows it shouldn’t take itself too seriously. Everything that happens, every character, event and concept, is cartoonish. Everything clicks together, and it’s a consistent world. The idea of those characters fighting Dracula, which ends with the introduction of the Howling Commandos straight out of the Universal Monsters series, almost looks like Scooby-Doo. But there’s nothing wrong there, because it sticks to that. And yet, the version of Dracula it creates is a complete departure. Now I have no problem with Spider-Man fighting Dracula – you make Spider-Man fight Dracula, and I’ll definitely watch – but the version of that character is a tangent from how that world normally works, and instead we get the Untold version, which tries to be realistic. Why would you make Dracula realistic when he’s fighting a cartoon Spider-Man? That’s like watching Christian Bale’s Batman face-off with Bigfoot, but making him a rubber suit worn by a farmer who would’ve gotten away with it, too!

I watch this show because I like the world it creates. It’s escapism. And it manages to be escapism because I can never see the world’s borders. Adding in something of that nature suddenly reminds you of how make-believe everything is. And if something reminds the audience that what they’re seeing isn’t real, it’s compromising the story being told.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Blade — absurd, inconsistently included guest star 3/10.

The Grand Budapest Hotel — review

British Academy Film Award for Best Original Screenplay
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Best Screenplay
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Original Screenplay
Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards for Best Original Screenplay
London Film Critics' Circle Awards for Screenwriter of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for Best Screenplay
National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Screenplay
New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Screenplay
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle awards for Best Original Screenplay
Online Film Critics Society Awards for Best Original Screenplay
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards for Best Original Screenplay
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards for Best Screenplay
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Screenplay
Writers Guild of America Awards for Best Original Screenplay

Screenplay by Wes Anderson.

To the general public, The Grand Budapest Hotel appeals to the Oscars because it changes its aspect ratio, and they love that sort of thing. What a lot of people simply aren’t aware of is that it doesn’t just change its aspect ratio to be arty, but switches between three to indicate the point in time of the story: 1.33:1 for 1932, 2.3:1 for 1968 and 1.85:1 for 1985 onwards. Now I’m a screenwriter, not a cinematographer, so I had to research what those different aspect ratios are, but because they’re relevant. The narrative’s structured around the book The Grand Budapest Hotel, published in 1985, with the scenes in 1968 being the writer’s experiences it recounts, and 1932 is the story he’s told. A story within a story within the story. And all indicated through altering aspect ratios. Motion pictures should tell stories visually, and a complicated structure like this could become confusing for the audience. But by employing that kind of cinematography, the layers of it are shown. You always know where you are, and you’re never lost in the story. The smaller the picture, the further into the layers you’ve gone. It’s a complicated undertaking for Anderson, but such a simple change like that keeps it coherent and smooth-running.

Which is strange, because none of that is described in the screenplay. All Anderson does is dictate the time period of that scene, so I can only assume the idea to aspect ratio was either already present, given he also directed, or came later.

But the best part is that The Grand Budapest Hotel doesn’t need this. The story would still be coherent if the 1.85:1 aspect ratio remained the same throughout, because the production design also indicates time period. The fact that it’s there isn’t a gimmick, though, as it does serve a purpose, and enhances what you’re watching because it all looks very contemporary. My point is that had a different director not done so, it would have still been entertaining to watch.

Because the dialogue is all very anachronistic. Words like “piss”, “fag” and “cunt” are used in 1932 as if it’s 2014, and it creates a disconnect from the setting. It’s like watching a parody of something else, where the screenplay and the actors are self-aware of the fact that it’s all pretend, and use modern terms as a wink to the knowing audience. That, and the way the story’s divided into acts: the prologue, M. Gustave, Madame C.D.V.u.T.Check-point 19 Criminal Internment CampThe Society of the Crossed KeysThe Second Copy of the Second Will and the epilogue. What we get is an anthologised serial bookended by the framing device of flashbacks, signalled by changing aspect ratios. It’s like a picture within a picture within a picture. Three, small frames collected together. But each with their own story happening – independent of each other, but still connected, with knowing, parodical dialogue that only Anderson could write. Of course, Ralph Fiennes made it work, but it was on Anderson’s dialogue. All of his characters are quirky, but H. is also one of the sickest. The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t a comedy, but it has elements of comedy, because of the dark dialogue. H. just doesn’t care about the things that come out of his mouth, and yet everything he says is hilarious. Partially because the people receiving it honestly deserve it, but also because he’s entitled to that painting while also trying to run a hotel, and everyone keeps bothering him. And in his quest to retrieve the painting, and the farce that unfolds as he does so, gives it an air of old cinema, along the lines of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy. But it’s made in the modern day, so it’s able to take more liberties with social representations and word choice. And Anderson played-off this to give us a delightful mix of old and new.

The Grand Budapest Hotel — surrealist tribute to old cinema 7/10.

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: a Druff is Enough — review

Screenplay by Steve Melching.

A Druff is Enough can only be described as being like the Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles, only with Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. The one who brings the Druff aboard is A-Bomb, and honestly, he can’t be blamed for that. A Druff is animated in just the right way that everything that makes it appealing within the show comes across perfectly, and creating that realism is an artistic achievement. The Druff’s purpose in the story, if the audience are to invest, requires it to be animated in a very technical and precise way, in order to trigger the same reaction for anyone. But animating itself can easily fail to do that, which is why the Druff appeals to the most common emotion points for all people: the big eyes, the perfectly-trimmed fur and the the cooing sound it makes. It’s like an owl, but awake in the daytime and with the kind of intelligent not immediately apparent in an owl. The plot’s driven by the Druffs’ presence on the ship, and that means the audience has to feel as if they’d have also brought it along. While I can’t speak for anyone else, I know I did.

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. airs on Disney XD, but there’s a misconception that says audience is determined by channel, whereas broadcasters really know that all they have to do is broadcast quality and anyone will watch. Target audiences are actually detrimental to art, and this episode proves why: it shows that art is able to appeal to a kind of person within people, rather than a group-focused demographic. Plus, they’re Hulks. So that contrasts with it enough to balance out the tone.

Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: a Druff is Enough — artistic potential through common appeal 7/10.