I apologise for the lack of movie review this Friday. Due to a demanding schedule, I was unable to make it to the cinema this week. For now, here is a review of new series, Arrow. I am sorry for any inconvenience caused.
Channel: The CW
Recurring cast: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland with Susanna Thompson and Paul Blackthorne
The Green Arrow is one of the lesser-known DC heroes, given his own series on the CW to help build up an idea of what we can expect from the upcoming Justice League Movie. Oliver Queen (Amell) is a rich playboy, who comes from one of the biggest families in Starling City. When he and his father go on a boating trip that results in its sinking, Oliver is washed up alone on an island. His father shoots himself, so there is enough food for his son to survive. Before dying, he confesses his sins and gives Oliver a list of businessmen who are corrupting Starling City. Five years later, Oliver makes it off the island and becomes the vigilante, known as the Green Arrow, balancing the life of a superhero and the demands of being a socialite in Starling City.
I am going to be honest; this season takes a while to get going. The first couple of episodes come across as a diluted Dark Knight in series format. Rich guy turned hero, check. Corrupt streets too dangerous for anyone to walk through, check. And a girl figure connected to the law. Check. The twist here is that Oliver Queen is comfortable with killing people, but even that gets muddied when the producers realised that would result in Green Arrow killing off several villains that could attract audiences with a comeback. The first few episodes get confused with its backstory and it often trips itself up.
Also, there is a sense that the writers are unsure what the audience actually want. We tune into this show each week to see a superhero movie in series format. And I am not dismissing that idea, because this has the potential to be one of the best series out there right now. But, rather than showing us full-on action, the season takes us through the lives of a rich family we don’t really care about. Thea Queen could easily become one of the most irritating characters in TV history. And while the Tommy dating Oliver’s ex while he was presumed dead story is good, it should be something in the background of the plot, not a narrative device dragged up in each episode. The best background characters were Walter and Felicity, because they weren’t squeezed into each episode, merely brought up when they could benefit the story in some way. Each episode was let down by heavy exposition that should have dragged the five minute clash with the bad guys out into a full 40 minute feature.
This is why I enjoyed the flashback sequences the most. Usually, I detest these moments in series, as they seem to only feature to drag the running time out a bit. But with Arrow, we are given an alternative story to follow that appears to be cut down to bare minimum. This way, when exploring Oliver’s time on the island, we are only told things we need to know. That makes the adventure far better paced and interesting. Also Manu Bennett and Sebastian Dunn are great in their respective roles here. I am glad to see Bennett finding a role outside of the now-finished Spartacus.
The season does pick up, when it decides what it wants to be. The action gets a little better, even if some of the final fights could have been directed a little smoother. The Dark Arrow was a great villain to hold the season together and despite being a little sceptical of choosing none other than John Barrowman to portray a bad guy, he pulled it off with finesse. His heart-felt rant about listening to his wife die on the phone was terrific and you almost want the guy to pull off his evil plot. It is moments like this that prove the potential for Arrow.
The finale was excellent. It was unpredictable and you weren’t quite sure which characters were going to make it. The writers were clever and rather than attempting to make us believe they were willing to kill off Oliver in the first season, they put all of the life-risking in the hands of the sub-characters, who they could quite easily kill off. They do kill off one key character, but you won’t find out which one from this review. The emotion was running high and part of me wanted the moment to last just a little longer rather than cutting to the end of the first season right there and then.
My main problem with Arrow is that the superhero genre has been done to death. Throughout the season, we are subjected to nearly every cliché in the book. Oliver cannot be with Laurel, because he wants to protect her. Tommy falls in and out of the Harry Osborne stereotype from Spiderman. The angry cop father tracking down the vigilante, while dealing with his alcoholism. I am hoping these characters will be explored a little deeper in later seasons, but for the time being, we have to deal with the cheesy dialogue. There is a good show here; we just need to let it build up steam before judging it.
Final verdict: After a disappointing first half of the season, Arrow picks up steam and almost reaches the dizzy expectations we have for it.
It does get better in the second half, less family drama more superhero problems 😀