Stephen Amell

Arrow (2012) s08e08 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four

So.

Confession time.

During the harder-than-normal sci-fi opening to part the fourth of Crisis on Infinite Earths, I thought the crossover might have a chance. I thought if they split the first three into the one arc, then the second two into another… I thought it might work. For a few seconds in the cold open, featuring LaMonica Garrett opening a portal to the dawn of time and somehow unleashing the antimatter universe or something… I thought it had a chance. Then Garrett proved to be just as bad in the cold open as usual and, poof, so much for that possibility.

But wait, then regular human guy Osric Chau (who’s totally becoming the Atom later this year on “Legends of Tomorrow” but whatever) journals—to his dead wife—about all the sad superheroes outside time and space trying to kill time before the plot contrives a way for them to save the universe and it seems like it might get okay, since it’s centering around Chau and his regular guy take on the situation.

And, nope, the journaling stops once Grant Gustin reappears after being missing (during the hiatus between parts three and four, not like, in the present action of the episode or anything). Bummer?

The deus ex machina to get the heroes back in action is Stephen Lobo (who’s in one scene and is so terrible he deserves a callout) training Stephen Amell to be “The Spectre.” Amell’s voice gets disguised, which sort of helps with his performance. Once he’s ready to go, he visits his friends and gets the final battle under way.

Not.

Instead, the episode becomes a low rent Avengers: Endgame with Gustin flashing between moments in Amell’s “Arrow” history to collect the other heroes, who are stranded in the events. Except Chau, Melissa Benoist, and Jon Cryer, who are on a mission on the forest moon of Endor. But a low rent Endor. Cryer’s hilariously fun as Lex Luthor, but Benoist is an utter killjoy as depressed Supergirl. And Chau’s beard looks fake.

But they do get an “asshole” past standards and practices, so… win?

Once Endgame is over—the “highpoint” is Gustin bantering with super surprise guest star Ezra Miller (whose career mustn’t be in great shape as he waits for his years delayed Flash solo movie)—in case you’re wondering, Gustin’s so much better than Miller, it’s not even funny, but it’s still better than anything else because it’s at least fun. Anyway, once Endgame is over, the heroes all go to fight CGI monsters in a rock quarry while Amell fights Garrett (the evil, anti-Garrett) for the fate of the universe.

You’d think since it’s “Arrow,” one of the last episodes of “Arrow,” and Amell’s last stand, there’d be a big fight scene between the two.

Nope. They shoot CGI force lighting at each other. It’s terrible.

I suppose at least they aren’t spouting off goony expository statements about themselves as they fight, which the regular heroes do. The script, by Crisis comics writer Marv Wolfman and “Arrowverse” prime mover Marc Guggenheim, is truly godawful.

I can’t believe I thought they might save it. They somehow made it worse; the desperation of aping Endgame manages not to even be the worst thing in the episode, which is something because it’s super desperate.

The Flash (2014) s06e09 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three

Crisis: Part Three is a scant handful of okay moments surrounded by truly godawful dialogue, sometimes so bad it’s impressive the actors are keeping it together—points to Grant Gustin, Elizabeth Tulloch, Cress Williams, and Candice Patton—one inventive plotting point, a couple big nostalgia deep-dives (they really felt the need to validate “Birds of Prey” fans, which I’m not sure I believe is a thing), and a lot of nonsense. Along with plot points from other DC Comics crossover events, including one of the silliest ones.

There are a lot of obvious budgetary shortcuts, like how Brandon Routh’s Superman returned never gets a shot actually going through the teleportation effect because apparently there’s only so much CGI budget. But also the lack of exterior shots (they don’t even recycle footage from the last time they showed Crisis hitting Earth on “The Flash,” which might threaten some kind of extended cut?).

The three big plots this episode—almost called it issue, but no, if it were an issue of Crisis it’d look better, George Perez and all (seriously, how they didn’t get a uniform good score for the crossover instead of just dropping in the old superhero themes…)—anyway, it’s Gustin, Carlos Valdes, and Danielle Panabaker trying to save the world from the speed cannon, which is an utterly crappy sequence. Especially compared to the comic, but even compared to when Gustin disintegrated in his nightmares earlier this season. Like they spent more money on that effects shot from a regular episode than the money shot in this one. It’s a bummer. Even if it’s got a good nostalgia hook but also an exceptional missed opportunity. The crossover asks for a whole bunch of slack and doesn’t deserve any of it.

Oh, wait, there are four big plots. I forgot about Matt Ryan leading David Ramsey (whose acting has gotten worse the longer he’s been on “Arrow,” and not just because he has a very forced Malcolm X quote to show he’s a Black man, which might be the most questionable creative decision in a series of very questionable creative decisions), Stephen Amell, and Katherine McNamara on a cameo-filled field trip through the Arrowverse purgatory. Even though it’s unclear how the infinite Earths work with purgatory, because it seems to be unified between realities but… whatever. Anyway, it’s just for cameos and to give Ramsey some crossover time. McNamara’s got almost nothing to do so she’s nowhere near as bad as last episode.

Then Ruby Rose and Melissa Benoist are bickering about Benoist wanting to use the Book of Destiny or whatever it’s called to save the lost universes and acting like they’re in a Frank Miller rip-off until they get girl power. Rose is bad, Benoist’s not good but also not bad; it’s neither of their faults. It’s the script, it’s the direction. Their plot’s a pointless, terribly written one.

Finally, Patton is tasked with introducing Osric Chau to the Arrowverse. I’m sure he’ll have a job after the crossover as Atom II. He’s actually okay, even though the scenes are atrociously written. Because of course they are.

The big cliffhanger—it’s five weeks until the last two entries—lacks in grandeur and execution, also not a surprise. It’s almost like they don’t have the budget for the guest stars and special effects and so went with the former. Or maybe it really is just a terribly produced crossover. It’s not like the last one was any good either.

There is a pleasant surprise at the finish, but only because it promises to amuse when they get back. Amusement would help. This episode’s not amusing. Or entertaining. And Audrey Marie Anderson and LaMonica Garrett are still terrible. Oh, and they managed to get an even worse performance out of Tom Cavanagh than he’s been giving the rest of the season (he should quit after this disservice to his filmography, just for the godawful costuming alone).

Is it as bad as the first episode of Crisis? No. Is it as middling as the second one? Nope. But whatever’s coming in five weeks, it’s pretty clear even if it’s entertaining or amusing or manages some decent moments from the actors… it’s not going to be good. And it’ll probably be bad. It’ll definitely be tedious. The cliffhanger would have been the end of the first installment if this Crisis were any good.

Supergirl (2015) s05e09 – Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One

With the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, the CW Arrowverse achieves one of those DC Comics’s successes—they promise they understand, they promise they get it, they promise they’ll do it right, then it’s terrible. Not just regular terrible but also profoundly inept in some manner. See, you know, DC Comics’s comics for the last… twenty years? Twenty-five? Depends on if you want to see “Zero Hour” as the last chapter of the old or first chapter of the new. And Warner’s even done it with the movies–Batman & Robin and Justice League being the most obvious examples. They say they know what they’ve got, then they show they don’t. The fail the project’s potential.

Like, I hoped it would be better than the regular production values on “Supergirl.” It’s worse. Melissa Benoist gets to play second fiddle to Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch’s “Superman Family” backdoor pilot, which is fine because Hoechlin and Tulloch are a hell of a lot less obnoxious than the regular cast this episode. Even though it’s a regular “Supergirl” director (Jesse Warn), somehow Jesse Rath’s totally different. Like no one’s on the same page with the character, actor, writers, director, and it makes his every expository deliver simultaneously exasperating and enraging; the show doesn’t have to be so bad, why aren’t they trying to at least not make it its worst. They ought to be showcasing their strengths.

The show’s shockingly inept at introducing the other heroes, which kind of makes sense since you’ve got to spend time with the regular cast since you’re not paying them all to crossover… but maybe mix it up a bit. Ruby Rose and Katie McGrath doing something has a lot more potential entertainment value than McGrath and Chyler Leigh sniping at each other over McGrath’s supervillain potential. Brandon Routh and David Harewood doing something would beat Routh playing second fiddle to Caity Lotz (who gives the episode’s best performance) and Harewood still having his stupid wisdom lines.

Nicole Maines and Azie Tesfai only show up to herd people out of the waterfront area, which has become the show’s biggest and stupidest action trope now. Is it a Vancouver fun run or something, shooting “run from the huge waterfront in the Kansas City stand-in city” every week?

Basically no one gets anything good. Hoechlin and Tulloch excepted. Hoechlin even gets to be sad about Benoist’s long-lost mom dying because guest star Audrey Marie Anderson (who’s terrible and going to be in all of the crossover episodes, which is really bad) didn’t have enough energy in the Dilithium crystals to save her. It’s a poorly plotted episode. Like, I get there needs to be a bunch for Stephen Amell because it’s his last crossover but they pad they heck out of his scenes. He and future daughter Katherine McNamara have the same conversation at least twice, maybe more, and when it gets time for Amell and “Flash” Grant Gustin to have their big crossover moment they don’t get one because there’s not time, there’s already the “Superman Family” pilot in session.

Worse, it’s cheap. They fight the “shadow demons,” which were the “Crisis” comic disposable baddies but they’re like medieval-ish ghosts… like, cheap CGI model ones. All the action sequences with them are terrible, even worse than the “meet Batwoman” action sequence the show goes with. Warn’s never been a good director but they really should’ve gotten someone else.

They also should’ve hired a good composer special for the crossover. The music is truly horrific.

The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths is off to its most inevitable start… it’s a shitty DC event crossover.

And while the opening cameos with Robert Wuhl (from Batman 1989) and Burt Ward (from “Batman: The TV Show), along with the clip from “Titans?” They set up a false expectation of competency. Maybe not technical prowess, as the green screen shots are terrible, but they at least suggest the crossover gets its entertainment potential.

Then it fails. Over and over.

Outside convincing me to maybe try “Superman Family” and to reassure me I’m not missing anything on “Arrow,” the show’s greatest success is providing a solid jumping off point.

Screamers: The Hunting (2009, Sheldon Wilson)

If it weren’t for the painfully Canadian cast–I’m thinking mostly of Greg Byrk and Gina Holden, Holden because a recognizable, down on her luck American actress would be playing her character and Byrk because he’s so bland he’s got to be Canadian–Screamers: The Hunting would probably be a little better. There are some decent actors in it–Jana Pallaske is so good it’s strange to see her in this one, like she was paying off a swimming pool or something, and Stephen Amell is pretty good (even if he too looks bland enough to be Canadian). When Lance Henriksen shows up, the movie almost gets classy for a few minutes.

The Hunting does something really simple–it rips off Aliens (and Alien, but in a different way) as an approach to a direct-to-DVD sequel making. I can’t believe no one else has done it before and it kind of works. Being shot on DV and poorly lighted–John P. Tarver is a horrible cinematographer, I’ve seen better DV lighting on student films–it looks cheap, but it’s generally solid at the base. With a bigger budget, a better cast and a good rewrite, Screamers: The Hunting would probably be better than the first one.

It’s the first direct-to-DVD movie I’ve seen on the level of filmmaking competence of low budget genre pictures of yesteryear, which, I suppose, is a good sign. It’s taken a long time, since everyone relies so much on cheap CG.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Sheldon Wilson; screenplay by Miguel Tejada-Flores, based on a story by Tom Berry and inspired by a short story by Philip K. Dick; director of photography, John P. Tarver; edited by Isabelle Levesque; music by Benoit Grey; production designer, James McAteer; produced by Stefan Wodoslawsky and Paul Pope; released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Starring Gina Holden (Bronte), Jana Pallaske (Schwartz), Lance Henriksen (Orsow), Greg Bryk (Sexton), Christopher Redman (Danielli), Tim Rozon (Madden), Dave Lapommeray (Romulo), Jody Richardson (Soderquist), Stephen Amell (Guy) and Holly O’Brien (Hannah).


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