Amazon's The Boys Season 1 Review
"My evil c*** sense is tingling."
Garth Ennis' extremely graphic comic run gets brought to Amazon by way of Preacher's Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg duo, putting a very dark spin on life with superheroes who are anything but.Ennis' source work was a tough read, peddling not only in rape, or even gang rape, but superhero gang rape, and testing the limits of its readership with increasingly nauseating tales of superhero debauchery and the brutal gang of human vigilantes who get seriously messed up trying to stop the world's supposed idols from getting away with it.
The idea of bringing The Boys to any kind of screen would have seemed absurd a decade ago - it makes Kick-Ass look like a Disney romp - but then Rogen and Goldberg collaborated on an Amazon Prime adaptation of the unfilmable Preacher series (to faithful, albeit abortive effect, now that it's been cancelled), and, unsurprisingly, managed to pinball off that success to bring us The Boys. The result is dark, satirical, and utterly binge-worthy.
The idea of bringing The Boys to any kind of screen seemed absurd a decade ago - it makes Kick -Ass look like a Disney romp
Superheroes are a big commodity, so much so that they've been grouped into the 200-strong Vought Corporation, replete with movie deals, publicity and riches galore. But when AV shop assistant Hughie watches his girlfriend get liquidised by a 'supe' running a full speed, he gets approached by the mysterious Billy Butcher - purporting to be a Government Agent - who shows Hughie a much darker side to these supposed heroes, and gets him involved in a private mission to get some payback on these untouchables.
In the meantime, Starlight, a new superhero addition to the fabled 'Seven' leading superheroes - led by the Superman-like Homelander - gets a horrific welcome to the gang, finding that her initiation into the group comes with a hefty price tag.
Amazon's The Boys is superbly put together, released in 4K (make sure you search for it) and all the more spectacular for it, with superb production design and impressive effects. It may not quite have Big Screen scale, but there's little here that would look out of place in a movie.
Goldberg, Rogen and developer Eric Kripke have a good handle on the material - which doesn't only throw back to the old boys club days of demeaning power plays, but actually offers a rather worrying reflection of the current political climate; you only have to look at the people in power to wonder just how much they can get away with, with zero authority to call them into check - and the pilot alone should have you committed to this dark superhero drama.
If you thought Watchmen offered a decent look at supers gone wrong, Miller's The Dark Knight Returns gave us a glimpse at a corrupt Superman, or even this year's Brightburn which tapped into a better reflection on what could have happened had Superman grown up wrong, The Boys only takes it to the next level. Slow-burning the tales (although let's hope it doesn't burn out treading water like Preacher arguably did), there's a super group of colourful people on offer here, on both sides of the equation.
The 'heroes' are basically a very thinly veiled Justice League - Banshee's Antony Starr makes for a scary alternate Superman in Homelander; House of Cards' Dominque McElligott as Queen Maeve (Wonder Woman); Shaft's Jessie Usher as A-Train (The Flash); and Chace Crawford as The Deep (Aquaman), whilst traumatised new girl Starlight is pure Supergirl, played by Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones). They're all run by Vought VP, Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue).
Of course, the real heroes are a vicious bunch who will inevitably become the titular group eventually, led by an oddly-accented Karl Urban (we want Dredd!) as Billy Butcher, who brings innocent Hughie (Jack Quaid) into the inner circle that also includes Tomer Kapon's Frenchie, Karen Fukuhara's Female, and Laz Alonzo's (Fast & Furious) Mother's Milk. As a nice nod to the comics, Simon Pegg also cameos as Hughie's dad (the comic artists based the character of Hughie on Pegg - and a decade ago arguably he'd be the first choice for the role).
The result is dark, satirical, and utterly binge-worthy
For fans of the book run (and even those who jumped off after it hit Herogasm), Amazon's The Boys is a fabulously faithful show - although arguably not so faithful that it ends up utterly unwatchable - teeming with ultraviolence, superheroes gone wrong, and very human vigilantes getting busted up trying to find some justice in a twisted, but all-too-real world. Consider it for the top of your list for your next binge-watch.
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