Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arrow - Pilot review.

What do you get when you cross the money behind Bruce Wayne's Batman, the near death experience of Tony Stark, the playboy personality of Casanova, and the archery skills of Robin Hood? Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Superhero and protector of Star(ling) City.

Tonight was the premiere of Arrow on the CW. As Green arrow is one of my favorite comic characters and I thoroughly enjoyed the first 4.5 seasons of Smallville on that network, I was obligated to watch it.  I was quite pleased with the show and I will say more after a brief summary.

SPOILER ALERT! If you are interested in the show or the character of Green Arrow you should watch it before reading this.

Five years ago, Oliver Queen goes out on a yacht with his father, a coworker of his father, and his girlfriend's sister. They get caught in the middle of a storm and the boat capsizes. Sarah Lance apparently dies while the other three end up on the life raft. Robert Queen tells his son that he must survive to right Robert's wrongs. He confesses to not helping the city and hints at a dark past. After a while, Robert kills his partner and then himself so that Oliver can survive on the leftover water. Shortly after he comes upon the island where he would spend the next five years.

This is where the show picks up. The above is shown in flashbacks. Oliver Queen gets found by a boat. He returns to Starling City to find that he wasn't the only one who changed. The whole city is different. His mother is married to one of his father's business friends, his kid sister is following in Ollie's footsteps before he left and has grown up to become a partier. His best friend Tommy Merlyn is trying to get with his ex, Dinah Laurel Lance.

As Ollie adjusts to life back in his home city, he periodically looks at a list of names, presumably from his father. One of the names is Adam Hunt, whom Laurel's law firm is going after for corruption and other charges.

Ollie and Merlyn get kidnapped and we get to see some of the tricks he learned while surviving on the island. He takes out all the kidnappers and tell the police that it was a guy in a hood who saved them. As Merlyn was knocked out, he cannot corroborate the story but has his suspicions of who Arrow is.

Ollie threatens Adam Hunt and follows through when Hunt doesn't go through with Queen's request. Arrow breaks into Hunt's office, takes out the guards and plants a computer hacking arrow that he later uses to transfer Hunt's money to several different accounts of Hunt's enemies.

The episode ends with a reveal that Oliver's mom was behind the kidnapping and knows more than she seems.

Now onto my thoughts of the episode. As I mentioned above, I love Green Arrow! There are a few things that bug me about this show, but it's mostly a personal take thing. First, they use a green tint filter so the entire episode was tinted green. I found this to be unnecessary and almost a sledgehammer of green, especially since it is titled Arrow and not Green Arrow. It's not bad enough to distract from the show however. My personal pet peeve so far is the renaming of Star City from the comics to Starling City for the show. There's really no impact from this change, but I think Star City sounds better. I am also pretty tired of henchmen who learn to shoot at the stormtrooper academy and couldn't hit the broadside of a barn door. And nobody being able to tell the difference between the hero and when the hero puts on a hood and spray paints over his eyes. I mean, sure in a dark room, but he gets face to face with some of the guys. And not just the mindless henchmen...

There are several pretty cool fight scenes in the episode. The arrow shots haven't quite been made to look great yet. I'm pretty confident that they will hit their mark with the effects as the show goes on. I've seen some reviews knock the dialogue and the acting, but I think they are about what you should expect from a show on CW.

Other differences between the show and comics:
Oliver is an orphan, at least in some iterations. In the show he calls his sister (nonexistent in the comics) speedy. Speedy is a name shared by a couple of Green Arrow's sidekicks: Roy Harper and Mia Dearden. Both are kids he finds on the street and takes under his wing to help them out. Now these changes are clearly made to make the show more interesting and have a deeper plot. I'm okay with this change, at least until it proves to be a poor choice.

I found the Queen mansion to be very reminiscent of the Luthor mansion in Smallville. Coincidentally because it's the same filming location.

Now, Dinah Laurel Lance (Played by Katie Cassidy) is Ollie's long time love interest in the comics and is also the superhero Black Canary. I don't think we will see the fishnets ever, and the creators have said that they're keeping this series in reality and staying away from super powers. As such, I don't think we will see Dinah as Black Canary. I think she did a pretty decent job as Dinah.

In the comics, Merlyn is the long time archer nemesis of Green Arrow. It will only be a matter of time before he becomes a villain in the show.

One of the coolest scenes in this episode is the montage of Ollie setting up shop in one of Queen Industries'  abandoned warehouse. While the plausibility of him tearing down walls and restructuring the whole warehouse by himself without getting hurt is rather low, the ensuing montage of his computer set up and doing the salmon ladder and whipping out his beautiful bow is pretty worth it.

Other easter eggs that appear are Adam Hunt's bodyguard is Drakon who is an assassin hired to kill Green Arrow. In the show Ollie gets a bodyguard named Diggle after Andy Diggle who was a writer on Green Arrow: Year One. Another character in the show is Senator Grell named after Mike Grell who brought the character of Green Arrow into mainstream and got him his own book from his Longbow Hunters miniseries.

One worry I have for this show going forward is that Arrow's take on Queen more closely resembles Bruce Wayne's Batman and I hope they take more towards the comic. Only the future will tell. Thanks for reading!

-Daniel Janes

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

2012. A Year of Firsts!

Hello. As many of you know, I am now in Los Angeles. Well not really, but I am just north of there living in North Hills and working in Glendale. I’ve been thinking back on the year and have realized it has been a year of firsts. It started mid last year with my first time being out of the country for an extended time with my study abroad trip to Australia.  This of course included my first time seeing the Great Barrier Reef, first time Skydiving, first time planning a vacation (Spring Break!!), etc... (For more on Australia, check My Australia blog out.

Anyways I came back home for my final semester of college! This was a semester full of accomplishments and I feel it truly wrapped up all my theatre knowledge I had gained at school. Here’s why: it was my first time directing a full play (Beyond Therapy and it turned out fantastic. I could not have been happier with it!), and I also designed lights for the new adaptation of Cinderella. This came with some creative challenges, but I was totally able to work around them and it ended up fantastic. Feel free to take a look at my first website that I created this year: In between these two shows I went to a technical theatre conference in Long Beach, California. There I met my first contact in LA and first friends from the area. I saw my first show in the area at USC. Coming home from that conference was sadly not my first time being stuck in LAX, as we were stuck there for several hours after our choir trip my junior (?) year of high school.

So yeah, busy semester from which I finally earned my first degree: A Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance with a design/technical concentration. Over the summer I worked jobs that I had worked before. I worked at the circus which I had worked at after my Sophomore year, at the Wildey which I had been working at since the end of my Junior year, and finally I went back to Michigan to work at Tibbits Opera House where I worked after my Freshman year. Again, a culmination of the summers of my college career.

At Tibbits I had my first professional directing job. We did a great show of Charlotte’s Web! It was super fun and an excellent experience. I went to Detroit for the first time to have nice, chill weekend with some peeps from Tibbits. After Tibbits, I packed up the van again and drove out west. It was the first time I’d picked up and move by myself. I drove up to Minnesota, across South Dakota, through a bit of Wyoming into Colorado, down to Flagstaff, Az. and onward to Los Angeles.

I had a couple interviews and got a job freelancing with the company from my first interview. It’s not my dream job, but it pays. I found my first room to rent on my own. 

Basically, I'm doing okay. Pretty happy with the place I'm staying at. Glad I made the big step out here and looking forward to changes in my life in the near future! 

Thanks for reading and check back in the next couple weeks for a bit deeper insight into my trip out here!