Netflix Review – Code 8: Almost the Movie It Should Be

Robbie and Stephen Amell bring us (yet another) movie about superpowered people being oppressed.

SUMMARY

Back in the early 1900s, people started to develop superpowers, ranging from super strength to pyrokinesis to telepathy. Naturally, the government required them all to register their abilities. They quickly start advancing humanity rapidly, including building Lincoln City, a high-tech metropolis monitored and policed by robots and drones. Despite that, they’ve been progressively more and more attacked and restricted by the government. It’s now the 1990s and a drug called Psyke, made from the spinal fluid of powered people, is being distributed through the city by a gang called The Trust.

Code8 - 1Robots
Remember, it’s the ’90s and we have robots.

Connor Reed (Robbie Amell) is an extremely powerful electrokinetic whose mother (Kari Matchett) is dying of cancer. Due to the discrimination against Powers, he can’t get regular work and usually does day labor as an electrician (since he can touch wires without gloves). He later gets an offer from local criminal Garrett (Stephen Amell) to help him with a job. Connor accepts, leading to him getting caught up in a city-wide drug conflict. 

END SUMMARY

Earlier this year, I lauded the movie Freaks for showing some new and creative uses of superpowers and expanding a little bit on the concept of discrimination against different people that has been popular since the X-Men comics. I’m going to decline to laud this film for similar reasons. It doesn’t expand on the concept of people having superpowers being the target of prejudice, nor does it show any particularly creative or original uses of such abilities. Moreover, it doesn’t tell a compelling enough narrative to justify the lack of expansion. 

Code8 - 2DayLabor
I loved that scene in X2 where mutants are just sitting around waiting for work.

That’s not to say this is a bad movie. It isn’t. The performances are good, particularly the Amells, and the fight choreography and special effects are all above average. The interaction between Robbie Amell and Kari Matchett is appropriately touching, with Amell showing that Connor knows that what he’s doing to save her would break her heart. When he and Stephen Amell start to work together, they quickly feel like family (which makes sense, as they’re cousins) and you can see that this is something that Connor has never had before. If the movie were more about the struggles of a discriminated and hunted group surviving together, this would be amazing. Unfortunately, it’s still a movie about a criminal gang and plays up all of the tropes associated with it, which drains a lot of the drama.

Code8 - 3Cast
Nothing says family like an off-brand Denny’s.

What’s interesting is that the film actually started off with a lot of promise. The concept of powered people being valuable in the construction field is something that I think is not explored enough in most media. However, the film doesn’t follow that to the logical conclusion that people with powers would be unbelievably valuable… to the point that other countries would probably be offering massive benefits to them to get them to expatriate. Do you think that there’s not a good opening in some remote areas for a person who can generate massive amounts of electricity? How about someone who can cut metal with their bare hands or survive at zero degrees? Or a soldier with bulletproof skin? The movie tries to indicate that these people can’t afford the license to use their powers, but… yeah, that makes no sense in any kind of capitalist system. 

Code8 - 4Shocking
No way there can be a useful skill derived from this. No way at all. 

Overall, it wasn’t a bad movie, but since it didn’t do anything particularly original or interesting, I wouldn’t suggest moving it to the top of your list. If you want a movie to put on in the background, though, you could do worse. It’s fun, but I expect more from this genre after the last 20 years. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Mini-Review: Crisis on Infinite Earths – DC Tries to Answer Endgame

DC combines all of its current television shows, most of its prior ones, and many of its movies into one giant crossover that… was pretty awesome.

SUMMARY 

It’s literally impossible to summarize this in a reasonable amount of time. Let’s just say there are a lot of Earths (probably not an actual infinite number) which are being destroyed. All of the headlining heroes from the shows join forces to come up with a convoluted scheme to stop the destruction of the multiverse. The series features Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), Green Arrow (Stephen “Dem Abs” Amell), Superman (Tyler Hoechlin and Brandon Routh), The Atom (Osric Chau and Brandon Routh), Batwoman (Ruby Rose), The Flash (Grant Gustin, John Wesley Shipp, and Ezra Miller), John Constantine (Matt Ryan), Black Lightning (Cress Williams), Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer), and so many more I’m really going to get lost. This is without getting into all of the cameos from actors who have been in old media, like Burt Ward, Tom Welling, and Kevin Conroy. Many of the actors play multiple roles.

Image result for crisis on infinite earths
So. Many. Characters.

END SUMMARY

The original Crisis on Infinite Earths comic book was one of the most influential events in the industry. The multiverse had been DC Comics mechanism for explaining away bad or inconsistent writing or characters for a long time, but relying on it had gotten too difficult, since it meant that there was basically no official continuity for anything. When the Crisis happened, DC not only killed off the multiverse, but hundreds of characters, ranging from minor characters like Huntress to major characters like Supergirl and the Flash. It was one of the most successful comic book series ever released at the time and is used as a benchmark when discussing comic book continuity. It’s kind of a big deal, is what I’m saying.

Image result for crisis on infinite earths comic
This image has been copied so many times by other people.

The reason why the comic Crisis on Infinite Earths worked is because all of the characters were well-established. No time was really needed to give backstory to Superman or The Flash because everyone knew who they were so well that we already had emotional investment in them. The reason the Justice League movie didn’t work was for the exact opposite reason: Nobody really knew or had any connections to any of the characters since only three of them had been in anything prior and only one of those movies was memorable in a good way. Also, Superman was dead for most of the movie, so that emotional connection was essentially cut. Now, you can replace emotional connections with spectacle, like Commando or The Expendables, but it’s better to have both. That’s what Avengers: Endgame did so well, spending the first two acts on emotional scenes and character moments, then spending the last act giving us the spectacle that we finally wanted. 

Image result for justice league film
Couldn’t even get seven members, the number that almost always forms the JLA.

This crossover actually mostly did it right.

First, almost all of the characters were well established. Yes, you might not have liked all of the series equally, but, by mixing-and-matching team-ups, almost every scene had something in it that you had a history with. Even more than that, by referencing all of the older shows and films that they’ve made, mostly just to have the characters we remember from them die tragically, the series was able to raise the stakes of the entire event while cashing in on nostalgia.

Image result for crisis on infinite earths cameos
Not that Robert Wuhl’s character in Batman was beloved, but it was a nice touch.

 

Second, the plot, while it does have a lot of fetch quests and convoluted elements in it, is pretty straightforward: Stop the bad guy. The thing is that the Anti-Monitor, the villain, doesn’t just have one plan to thwart, he has a ton of other plots that also have to be dealt with. The Anti-Monitor is also just too powerful and too above-it-all to really be punched to death by Superman, unlike certain other DC crossover villains, instead requiring actual sacrifices to gain the power to deal with him.

Image result for crisis on infinite earths cameos
Yes, not everyone lives through this.

Third, LEX. FREAKING. LUTHOR. My god, did they make a great decision in giving Jon Cryer this role and my god did they write him correctly. Lex is the single smartest character in existence but, rather than trying to save it, can’t resist using his power to try and kill Superman. Much as how Thanos is the one with the actual character arc in Avengers: Infinity War, Lex is the one with the biggest character arc and the series is all the better for it. 

Image result for crisis on infinite earths jon cryer
This was freaking amazing. You are a treasure, sir.

Are there problems with the series? Oh yeah, it’s still a mess trying to get this many characters to all have their “moments,” but I was genuinely impressed at how well they pulled it off. Since the nature of the entire TV multiverse is changed by the end of it, I’m looking forward to seeing how DC will handle their new continuity.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.