Black Widow character poster from Avengers Age of Ultron

This week a number of character posters have been appearing for Avengers Age of Ultron. Today the Black Widow poster featuring Scarlett Johansson has appeared.

Here is the US version with the release date of 1 May.

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(I like Scarlett, she’s pretty!)

And here is the UK version. It has the same artwork but the release date is obviously a week earlier and the Avengers “A” logo is different.

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I’m not sure what is going on with the blue Tron lines…

Incidentally the main Avengers poster featuring all the characters was revealed to be a photoshopped mess so it’s nice to have the individual posters to do each character justice.

The 100 Season 2 Episode 8 Spacewalker review

This week’s episode focuses on one storyline only, that of the Grounder’s demand that Finn be handed over to be executed for the village massacre. So there are no cutaways to Mount Weather for a change.

Clarke returns to the Ark camp escorted by two Grounder horsemen who stay at the gate. She tells everyone the news that there is a truce but only if they give Finn to the Grounders. Some background Ark bods react in a “lets totally lynch mob Finn” sort of way and Finn has to be taken indoors to safety. Really, it’s all a bit Battlestar.

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Marcus turns up as he has been freed from the Grounders but Abby wants to stay in charge until she resolves the Finn situation.

They talk to de-reaperised Lincoln to see if the Grounder commander would be open to a compromise. For example perhaps Finn could be tried and sentenced by the Ark people and they could still avoid a war. Beardy Lincoln says the commander has already compromised by just asking for Finn in return for the 18 people he killed. Also he describes how Finn would be executed and its, well, not pleasant, as it involves much burning and chopping and blinding and so forth.

Clarke sneaks off with Finn to hide him away from the camp. They encounter a Grounder who injures Clarke before running off. Finn takes the injured Clarke to the drop ship where they meet up with Bellamy, Raven and Murphy. A group of Grounders find them and Raven goes to shoot Murphy. It turns out she asked him along to see if she could switch him with Finn seeing as he was there at the village massacre as well. Finn stops her. Then Finn (predictably) gives himself up to the Grounders to stop anyone else from being hurt.

Back at the Ark camp they discuss what to do. The Grounders are erecting what looks suspiciously like a stake to burn Finn at within view of the Ark people. Clarke says she wants to go and plead with the commander and Raven gives Clarke a knife to conceal. If it all goes wrong she wants Clarke to kill the commander and maybe Finn can escape in the confusion. Oh, yes… that’s a wonderful plan Raven.

Clarke approaches the commander who refuses to free Finn. Clarke makes the very good point that she was the one who crispy-fried 300 grounders at the end of season 1. For a second I thought the commander might say “good point” and swap Finn for Clarke, but I guess the difference is that Clarke was trying to fight an armed group of Grounders whereas Finn was shooting unarmed ones.

Eventually Clarke realises its futile and asks to say goodbye to Finn and the commander permits her. Clarke goes to Finn for a final kiss, while she surreptitiously stabs him to death in the stomach.

So, hell, this show has gone a long way since the season 1 love triangle shenanigans where Clarke and Finn were getting all smoochy together and Raven was a big jealous head. Finn was arguably one of the four main characters in the show and for the “hero” to be removed in this way at the hands of someone he loves is quite something.

There were also a number of flashback scenes to a year ago on the Ark. Basically Finn gave Raven an unauthorised spacewalk for her 18th birthday. Some equipment malfunctioned and precious air was lost. This, like all crimes on the Ark, was a capital one with the death sentence. As Raven was 18 she would have been floated so Finn put on the spacesuit knowing as a 17 year old he would just get locked up. So I suppose the theme of the episode was one of sacrifice.

Really, I thought Finn’s days were numbered since the village massacre, but it’s a little surprising how he ends up going out. He gets no chance to earn any redemption or die heroically.

So Clarke finally has her truce with the Grounders. Hopefully they’ll set their sights on Mount Weather while their pals still have some bone marrow left.

The 100 season 2 episode 7 review

This episode has a very interesting opening sequence. We see a girl (who we don’t know) waking up in a field of grass. At first she’s shocked at where she is and doesn’t understand how she got there. As she realises that she is not getting sick from the radiation we then see she is outside the door of Mount Weather and cameras are watching her.

Doctor Tori from Battlestar and the vampire looking son of the president are watching her on the cameras. It’s obviously a test of the Ark-Kid-Blood-Treatment Tori has been doing.

Well, you can tell the girl is going to get sick and she does. She bangs the door yelling to be let back in. The Vampire looking son goes to let her back in but Tori asks him, “do you trust her not to talk?” That stops him. As they debate sacrifice for the greater good in the background you can hear the girls cries for help. It chillingly done.

Tori thinks they need to go to the source of the immunity of the 47. The bone marrow of the kids may be the key, but each kid will have to donate to eight bunker people so they will all die in the process. That means that they will have to convince the president to sacrifice the 47.

Back at the Ark crash site we see the original Chancellor and Chancellor Abby debating if they should stay put or leave in advance of the oncoming Grounder attack. Original Chancellor gives the Ark survivors a full-on Battlestar-style Eddie Olmos speech about leaving to find the City of Light he heard about from those people in the Mad Max desert. Chancellor Abby says no decision has been made, but, you know, best pack your things, just in case.

Bellamy finds Clarke and tells her about Lincoln. He and Octavia took the reaper-converted Lincoln to the drop ship. Clarke goes with Bellamy.

At the drop ship we see Lincoln chained up again. Deja vu for Clarke. She’s trying to look at his wounds when he breaks free. They manage to subdue him. Then the Grounder healer dude turns up to warn Octavia about the oncoming Grounder attack, because they saved each other’s life or whatever. He sees Lincoln and goes to treat him but Clarke realises the healer is going to do a mercy killing because the Grounders have no cure for the reaper conversion process. Clarke stops him.

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There’s a bit of business at the Ark camp where the former Chancellor and Abby try to overrule each other and get the other arrested. The soldier boss lady sides with Abby and arrests the former Chancellor.

At the drop ship Finn turns up to warn them that the evacuation of the Ark camp is happening. And of course the healer dude sees Finn of the village massacre and they fight.

Lincoln’s heart stops and Clarke has to use CPR to bring him back. Healer dude is impressed. Clarke realises that if they can keep Lincoln alive through the reaper drug withdrawal then they might cure him. This is something the Grounders can’t do so maybe she can negotiate with the Grounders…

At Mount Weather Jasper and some others break into president’s office to see if they can get any info to help them escape. They hack into the president’s laptop and find photos of the Ark crash site which is the first they know that there are Ark survivors.

The Vampire looking son takes the president father to the surface where, thanks to the new treatment, they have a few minutes with the gas masks off. They enjoy the view and the smell of the air and all of that. For a moment I thought the son would leave his father on the surface to die. But the president heads back to the bunker door and says he refueses to allow the the bone marrow operations.

Clarke goes back to the Ark crash site and convinces Abby to let her try to negotiate with the Grounder leader. Eventually Abby lets her.

Clarke meets the Grounder leader lady and tells her she was imprisoned with Anya in Mount Weather and escaped. (She wisely kind of skates over the part about Anya being killed by the Ark people.) the Grounder leader lady get interested when Clarke says she can cure the reaper conversion. She agrees to go with Clarke to the drop ship to check out Lincoln.

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They go to the drop ship and there’s a nice little moment where the Grounder leader reacts to seeing the crispy fried Grounders from the end of season 1. They go in just as it looks like Lincoln dies. There’s a standoff between the Ark people and the Grounders. But just as it looks like all is lost Abby zaps Lincoln with the electric pain stick to restart his heart and he’s back and no longer a reaper. Octavia is happy. Clarke’s deal is done.

(It occours to me that the Grounder leader did not actually see Lincoln as a reaper so she’s taking Clarke’s word that he was converted, but I suppose the healer dude saw Lincoln doing the whole reaper thing and he could vouch for them.)

In Mount Weather Jasper is looking for the girl who was part of his gang that helped him break into the president’s office earlier. No one has seen her. Oh dear.

The poor girl has been captured by doctor Tori and is strapped to a table. Tori tells her this won’t hurt a bit. The girl cries that she wants to go home. Thats what we want, says the vampire looking son. Then Tori drills into her to get the bone marrow. It’s perhaps an understatement to say that the girl screams. Now that’s just dark, dark, dark.

And if that’s not a memorable enough ending by itself, how about this… Clarke meets the Grounder leader who says she has one more condition for the deal.

Clarke says anything.

The truce is on if they give Finn to the Grounders to be executed. I saw that one coming.

The 100 Season 2 Episode 6 review

After the explosive climax to the last episode (namely Finn’s massacre of the unarmed civilian Grounders) we jump forward a day or so. Clarke, Finn and the others are back at the Ark crash site. Finn has been given a pardon for, you know, massacring innocent Grounders.

Raven tells Clarke that she has worked out that the Mount Weather people are jamming their radio transmissions and preventing the Ark from contacting any other survivors who made it to Earth. Clarke convinces her mother to go on an expedition to blow up the Mount Weather jamming transmitters.

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As they approach their destination the deadly yellow fog appears. Clarke and Finn have to take shelter in the bunker they found before. There Clarke sees the deceased one-eyed grounder that Finn assassinated earlier.

Bellamy and Octavia had also split off from the main group to do some reconnaissance on finding a way into Mount Weather. Octavia finds an overgrown door and they end up in a parking garage inside the mountain.

They and some “red shirt” Ark personnel explore the dark garage and check out the abandoned SUVs which are probably a century old. But they are not alone down there. There’s a nice tense little moment when someone finds a wind up music player that plays Carol of the Bells as reapers approach and attack the red shirts.

Then Lincoln appears. He is a reaper too! So that’s what the Cerberus program is for, to turn Grounders into reapers! Bellamy and Octavia have to figure out a way to stop Lincoln without killing him. Eventually they manage to subdue him. But how can they un-reaper him?

Back on the surface Raven and Abby are sitting out the fog in a tent. Raven realises that one frequency has not been jammed and decrypts it. She’s able to listen in and she hears the Mountain Men refer to the fog as the “veil.” This suggests that the fog is actually a man-made weapon directed at intruders.

Inside the Mount Weather facility Maya is doing very well after being treated with Jasper’s blood for the radiation leak. Doctor Tori from Battlestar thinks she’s even doing well enough to survive outside.

The president says he wants to get the 47 Ark kids they have to volunteer to give blood rather than force them or cage them. We discover that the original plan was to interbreed with them so their descendants may be able to return to the surface.

Maya show Jasper the caged Grounders because she is afraid Jasper and his friends are next. Jasper gets the others to volunteer to give blood to buy time. He correctly surmises that Clarke will try to rescue them.

Elsewhere the two Chancellors have been captured and are forced to fight to the death to balance out Finn’s massacre. A young woman is put in the same room as them as they discuss their guilt and what they need to do to save their people. Marcus feels guilty for culling people on the Ark and is willing to die. The original Chancellor tries to use the girl by threatening her.

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But the girl is actually the Grounder commander and thinks Marcus behaved with honour. The guards take the other Chancellor away.

At the end of the episode Clarke is reunited with her mother who has been convinced by Raven to not destroy the jamming equipment. Being able to listen in on the Mountain Men may turn out to be a tactical advantage.

Then the first Chancellor appears. I had the impression he was toast but he has just been sent back to his people to tell them they have two days to leave, presumably meaning leave the Ark crash site.

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So it’s a solid episode without being Earth-shattering. I suppose I shouldn’t expect uber-surprising events such as Finn’s massacre in every episode. Still, there were nice revelations that the Mountain Men are apparently responsible for the fog and the reapers. And there are hints of a power struggle brewing between the president and his vampire-looking son who wants to cage the 47.

Ex Machina movie review

I recently managed to see Ex Machina in my local cinema before it’s run ended and here are some hopefully non-spoiler comments on the movie. I may follow up with a more spoiler-flavoured post at a later stage.

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Ex Machina is a movie I knew nothing about until a couple of months ago. I caught the trailer on youtube and I was immediately intrigued and became very keen to see it.

It has three main characters, indeed you could call it a three-handler as the vast majority of the movie features just those three characters interacting in one location.

Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson, is a young programmer who wins a prize to meet his boss Nathan, played by Oscar Isaac. Nathan is the founder of a search engine called Bluebook which has made him an important figure in 21st century computing and technology. But he’s a hard man to reach as he chooses to live and work alone in the middle of a vast wilderness (which it is implied he owns).

It turns out Caleb has been brought out to Nathan’s lab as the human part of a Turing test so see if Nathan’s new robotic creation has AI – artificial intelligence.

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That creation is Ava, played wonderfully by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. Ava is one of the most perfectly realised screen robots I’ve seen in a movie. A big part of it is Vikander’s graceful performance and body language. She displays apparently human emotions but they are accompanied with slightly robotic movements. The other part of Ava’s unique look is the transparent limbs and lower torso. These have been achieved by cgi but I soon just accepted I was looking at a semi-transparent robot. It’s a truly good use of cgi as it’s not flashy, it’s just there and totally convincing.

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Caleb is introduced to Ava and begins a series of daily “sessions” interacting with her. He soon becomes attracted to her and then questions Nathan why he gave the robot female looks and apparent sexuality. Is it a case of the magician’s attractive assistant distracting the audience from his sleight of hand, Caleb wonders.

Soon Caleb begins to distrust the heavy-drinking and egotistical Nathan. And he fears for what will happen to Ava at the end of the test. Ava asks if she will be switched off. Celeb says it’s not up to him. Ava’s response is one of my favourite lines in the movie: “Why is it up to anyone?”

Alex Garland (who among other things wrote the Karl Urban Dredd movie screenplay) directs from his own script and has made a thoughtful, intelligent “proper” science fiction movie. I say “proper” in the sense that this is a story that uses a science fiction element, explores it and questions the implications of it. I’m pleased that a movie can be made that basically just has three characters in one location and still be intellectuality exciting and critically acclaimed.

It’s a movie that I have thought a lot about after seeing it and it’s one I look forward to re-watching when it comes out on home release.

As noted before I may write another “spoiler” post about the movie.

The 100 season 2 episode 5

Clarke is taken into the Ark camp. at first they think she is a grounder but then Abby (newly appointed as Chancellor number 3) recognises her daughter. Clarke is given medical treatment but is only concerned about the others from the drop-ship namely Bellamy and Finn. She also tells her mother that it was not the Grounders that took their people but the Mountain Men.

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The next morning Clarke leaves the medical area and encounters Raven. they are glad to see each other (despite the whole both having a thing for Finn situation) and embrace. As an aside I have to say Raven was looking very well in an attractive sort of way.

Then there is a comotion as some others return to the camp. It’s Bellamy, Octavia and the other wounded girls. Clarke automatically runs over and embraces Bellamy. At first Bellamy hesitates to respond but then hugs her back. I found it to be a surprisingly touching little moment as there was no love lost between these two, indeed they didnt like each other very much. Or as Octavia observes, “Now there’s something I thought I’d never see.”

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A big part of the Clarke storyline is how concerned she is that the others are still stuck in Mount Weather. She wants to go and get them out and correct the misapprehension that the Grounders have them. After all Chancellor 2 is off trying to negotiate a peace treaty and get the kids back from the grounders who don’t even have them.

Also Clarke is concerned that Finn and Murphy went off looking for her, again thinking the Grounders have her and the others. Now it’s Abby’s turn to lay down the law. Clarke is forbidden from going looking for Finn. So of course she goes anyway accompanied by Bellamy and Octavia.

In Mount Weather Jasper and the other guy who isn’t Jasper are debating what to do about the disappearance of Clarke. The President tells Jasper that Clarke escaped but of course Jasper is free to go after her. Jasper and the other guy are debating this with Jasper’s bunker girlfriend present in the room. Suddenly bunker girlfriend get sick as there has been a radiation containment breach in the compartment they are in. The exact same compartment… Mmmmmmmmm… Coincidence?

It’s worth mentioning that exposure to radiation acts really quickly on these bunker people. The poor girl is covered in burns within moments. It is all very horrible and it does evoke a tiny bit of sympathy for the plight of the bunker people.

They still need to be stopped though.

So in the medical bay the doctor lady played by Tori from Battlestar Galactica let’s slip there there might just be a theoretical cure for the girl’s condition. They could run her blood through Jasper’s circulatory system which should heal her. Of course Jasper agrees. It works.

Later the president confronts Tori for doing the experiment behind his back. But you can see he’s considering “using” the Ark kids. And it’s certainly implied that the containment breach was no accident.

Elsewhere in the complex good grounder Lincoln is taking part in his own experiment, part of the “Cerberus” program. He’s being injected with some addictive substance and then tortured with the sonic weapon thingie. His endurance impresses the experimenter guy (who has a Twilight vampire look going on). Eventually Lincoln and another captive are made to fight to the death for the next dose of the substance. Lincoln prevails.

As mentioned before Chancellor dude 2 is on a quest to find some Grounders to negotiate with. His captive Grounder leads him to their territory. The Chancellor leaves his weapons as requested and sets the Grounder loose. He promptly gets a kick to the head for his trouble. Later when he comes to he is being thrown in a hole in the grounder camp. But he’s not alone. What’s this? It’s Chancellor number 1…

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But we come to the pivotal moment of the episode. One that shows just how dark this show Can and does go. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Finn and Murphy make it to the Grounder camp that the one-eyed Grounder directed them to (before Finn shot him in the head). Remember, they believe that the Grounders are holding the others captive.

There do not appear to be any warrior type Grounders around so under cover of darkness they sneak in and set fire to the food storage building as a distraction so they can search the village. But one of the Grounders sees them. Finn and Murphy take him captive and because they have guns they are able to round up everyone in the village.

As day breaks they are still searching the village but are frustrated at not finding any of their friends. Finn becomes increasingly desperate. He finds some Ark type clothing hanging up and is convinced the villagers have his friends. Eventually he pushes a young girl into the mud and threatens to kill her. This is even too much for Murphy who tells Finn to calm down.

Eventually Finn agrees to leave with Murphy. As they back off one of the Grounders runs out of the stockade trying to get away. Finn seems him run and automatically shoots him. A young grounder is angered by this and rushes at Finn. And Finn shoots him too. Some more run at him and he shoots them down.

Eventually the ground is covered with bodies and cowering Grounder survivors. And just in time to see this are Clarke, Bellamy and Octavia. Once more Clarke has been unable to stop unnecessary bloodshed. “I’ve found you” smiles Finn as Clarke looks on horrified.

Now that is just dark. Remember that Finn is the nominal hero of the story, the voice of reason backing up Clarke against Bellamy’s bad decisions in the first season. And here he is gunning down Grounders in panic. And again, no matter Clarke’s best efforts it seems the two sides are destined to be at war.

This show just continues to impress. There is something to surprise me in every episode. And I appreciate that they are having “good” characters do bad things and “bad” characters do good things. This is something Battlestar Galactica did so well and few other shows bother to do.