Monday, June 27, 2011

The Flash Reviews: Captain Cold


The more of these things I watch the more I realize that time has NOT been kind to this series.

Let's just jump right in, shall we?

The Plot: There is a mob war in Central City's criminal community and one of the mobsters ups the ante when he arranges for a killer for hire code-named Captain Cold to take out his rivals. The good Captain has a unique method of dispatching his victims -- flash freezing them!

Now, there's only one thing that stands between the lone mob boss and total domination of the city... the hero known as the Flash. And the super-speedster presents an intriguing challenge for Captain Cold.

The Flash has never a met a villain like this before and Captain Cold just may prove to be the one to put the Flash on ice!

My Take: Well, seventeen episodes in and we FINALLY get another one of the comic book's traditional Flash villains. Yay! Unfortunately he bears no likeness to the comic book villain. Boo. Also, the show continues to shy away from giving the villains more traditional costumes. Crap.

In the comic books Captain Cold is Leonard Snart -- a thief who actually tends to shy away from killing. Yeah, okay, the name is kinda not very intimidating and the original costume -- a guy in a parka -- would probably also look a little silly in live action but there should be SOME kind of happy medium because the Captain Cold we get here is... really uninteresting.

For one thing, the live-action Captain Cold is a killer-for-hire. That, I suppose, might be interesting enough but it seems a bit... overkill (heh)... to make him a killer who freezes his victims. Why not just shoot them? Or poison them? Or blow them up? The killing-by-freezing thing seems needlessly elaborate besides which is going to draw attention to himself and his later pursuit of the reporter character makes it seem as though he DOESN'T want to draw attention. So it makes even less sense. Whereas the original Captain Cold's freezing gimmick actually works from a bank robber point of view. He could freeze the guards, freeze the vault door until it becomes brittle, and then freeze any cops who arrive on the scene so he can make his getaway.

The original Captain Cold was also more of a thinking man's villain. Sure, in the Silver Age stories things get goofy but at least you see Cold really trying to think of ways to use his cold-based weaponry to defeat the Flash. He doesn't just spray the room and hope for the best.

For another thing, the live-action Captain Cold we get here is an albino. Why? Because he's a cold-based villain and we all know that cold-based villains have to have pale skin... or blue skin... because... COLD! And since the series was striving for some measure of reality the character must have a reason for the pale skin and hair so... albino! Yeah. Right.

Still, the actor does a pretty good job with the role until about half-way through... when he decides to start hamming it up. It just kind of all slides downhill from there.

The episode also suffers from yet another example of 'Poor Female Character' syndrome. In this case we get a female newspaper reporter working for a National Enquirer-like rag. She lies and tricks her way through the story in an attempt to expose the real identity of the Flash in hopes of breaking into the "big time" of a serious and respected newspaper. Because, you know, the New York Times hires people from the National Enquirer all the time. And, of course, her stunts nearly get the Flash killed -- and then nearly get her killed too as Captain Cold tries to eliminate her as a witness to his (presumed) killing of the Flash. And, of course, all this also happens because she doesn't go to the police right away so that she can publish her "scoop" (despite the fact that telling the police would do NOTHING to prevent her from still having the scoop). As is usual for this series, she learns her lesson when the Flash/Barry shows her the error of her ways... and she decides to go work as a writer for a greeting card company.... WHAT THE HECK?!?!?! Ugh.

Okay, it's bad enough that we have yet another "career driven female character" who is portrayed as having her priorities out of whack because she is too determined to succeed at her career. It's bad enough that yet again the male character has to "teach" said female character the "error" of her ways. But then we get to add insult onto injury by having said character seemingly give up her dream of journalism in favor of a much "nicer" job writing copy for the inside of cards. It's flat-out patronizing. And I'm sure a degree in journalism makes one infinitely suitable for writing 'Hallmark Moments'. You can't see me but I am currently rolling my eyes so hard I'm liable to roll them out of my head. Why not have said female character get a job working for a little, suburban newspaper to learn the ropes of good reporting better? Why not have said female character decide to take a refresher course in journalism? And speaking of journalism school -- I'd love to know what kind of journalism program she graduated from that encouraged lying, sneaking, conning, and bad reporting all around. Yeesh.

This is a story that could have had class. Captain Cold is one of the Flash's oldest and most storied villains. He could have posed a real threat and been poised to be a recurring foe but instead we're treated to a one-off appearance by a character who bears no resemblence to the the comic book villain and who is instead a rather bog-standard hired gun type... it's just that the gun in question is a little unusual.

Whether you're a comic book fan or not, there's just nothing here that makes any sense.

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