Wonder Woman

 

“What I do is not up to you.” – Diana Prince

We start the show in aftermath of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice as we see Diana Prince in a museum, the Louve in Paris, receiving a briefcase from Bruce Wayne. In the briefcase is a note and an original black and white photograph. The photograph is the one seen in BvS:DOJ with Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, and the others in a group photo from World War I.  As Diana is looking at the photo, we are taken back in time to when Diana was a little girl.

Wonder Woman takes us on an epic journey as we are introduced to Diana of Themyscira and experience her origin story. We watch with wonder as she grows up as a warrior princess and is first introduced to man. We empathize with her desire to do good in the world and help those who are less fortunate. We laugh at her naivete as she is introduced to the world and the humans outside of Paradise Island. We marvel at her strength as she tackles World War I head on and immediately makes a difference. We fall in love with her as she experiences love for Steve Trevor, and then loses him just as quickly. We cheer as she fights evil and defeats the God of War as she comes into her full strength before our very eyes.

Wonder Woman is easily the best movie of the summer, and of the year up to this point. Her strength, beauty, and charm put this movie head and shoulders above any superhero or comic book movie that has been released. Wonder Woman was the most intriguing part of Batman vs. Superman, and Diana Prince was fully established as a superhero in this movie. It has been a long time coming, and I’m glad she is finally in the forefront in the DC Cinematic Universe.

Go see this movie, go buy this movie, you will enjoy it!

The Dark Tower (2017)

 

“The Man in Black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.”

One of the most iconic sentences written by Stephen King, and there are plenty, is included in the cinematic release of The Dark Tower. The movie has plenty of great visuals that tie into the written saga of the The Dark Tower and are exciting to see represented on film. There are a lot of story elements taken from the novels and comic books, characters, places, titles, and locations; but this is a different story than we have seen, or read, before.

This is what I would attribute the negative reactions towards the film to. The film tries to play the middle ground, put enough in the story for fans to recognize but also cater to the mainstream audience and play it safe with the story. This is a dangerous idea that rarely pays off. If you are going to commit to a movie as intricate and beloved as The Dark Tower, you’d better commit to appeasing the hard core fans. If you don’t have them in your, you have nothing. Imagine if while creating the Game of Thrones HBO series, the producers hadn’t followed the source material and had tried to play it safe, thinking the audience wouldn’t want to see dragons and sorcery? That series would have died quickly, it is seeing the source material on screen that people fell in love with. The Dark Tower should have followed suit.

I enjoyed The Dark Tower movie and I think that it has potential to open up a whole new universe of stories that people have been enjoying for decades now. I hope that the idea of having TV shows and sequel movies to continue this story is able to come to fruition as time goes on.  But, I did feel short changed as I left the theater, knowing that the source material is so rich and has so much to draw on.  However, I am willing to see where this goes and give The Dark Tower another chance.

I would give this movie a B as I enjoyed the visuals and the opportunity to see these characters on screen for the first time.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 1 – Prologue

bvsdoj-bruce-wayne

 

“There was a time above. A time before. There were perfect things. Diamond absolutes. But things fall, things on earth. And what falls, is fallen. In the dream, they took me to the light. A beautiful lie.”

As Batman vs. Superman starts we are shown a prologue that plays an important role in  the story and has major repercussions for the rest of the movie. I haven’t seen too many prologues that have such an influence on the rest of a film as this one does. In this prologue we are shown the death of the Bruce’s parents at the hands of Joe Chill, we see Bruce’s discovery of the caves near his home, and we see the final battle of Kal-El and Zod in Man of Steel but from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. This is a lot of ground to cover in the short 10 minutes that is devoted to these scenes.

The prologue starts with the Death of Thomas and Martha Wayne while the haunting score of Hans Zimmer’s ‘Beautiful Lie’ plays during this scene. We also hear the above quoted dialogue from an older Bruce Wayne during this scene.

In regards to the death of the Wayne’s, this is a scene that has been shown many times on the big and small screen. I myself have seen it four times in various formats prior to this movie. However, I believe this one is the most impactful of the ones that have previously been shown. This scene focuses solely on the mugging and murder of the Wayne’s. Only one word is spoken in this scene, “Martha”. This scene focuses more on the loss of Martha Wayne and how a little boy had to watch his mother die. While Batman Begins had focused on the relationship between Bruce and his father, Thomas, this movie is more about the loss of Martha. This scene is juxtaposed with the funeral of the Wayne’s and in this film, Bruce discovers the cave full of bats near his home during this time. As Bruce discovers the cave of bats they end up carrying him up to the light and out of the cave as the older Bruce says “In the dream, they took me to the light. A beautiful lie.”  These two short scenes are the essence of Batman and are the impetus of how he comes to be. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman because his parents are killed and he desires to right this wrong for the rest of his life.

From there we jump ahead in time to the events that we see at the end of Man of Steel (2013). Bruce Wayne arrives in Metropolis via helicopter from Gotham and witnesses first hand the final battle between Zod and Kal-El while driving on the streets of Metropolis. Bruce has an office building full of friends in Metropolis that he is trying to reach as Metropolis falls apart around him due to the World Builder wreaking havoc in the city. As Bruce reaches his office building, he is too late as he witnesses Zod destroy the building with his laser vision. Bruce can only watch in horror as his building collapses killing his friends and coworkers. Bruce then makes his way to the building to try and find survivors. He helps a security guard, Wally, who is trapped in rubble. He also is able to save a young girl from being killed as debris collapses almost killing her. As Kal-El and Zod continue to fight in the sky above Metropolis, Bruce watches with hatred towards these two aliens who are destroying a city and killing innocents.

This is the moment that Batman starts planning to stop Superman. This is the moment when Batman vs. Superman starts. A common complaint of this movie is that there were only a small amount of actual fighting between Batman and Superman. When in reality, Batman vs. Superman starts 9:50 into the movie.

bvsdoj-bruce-wayne

Zack Snyder does an excellent job of tying in Man of Steel to this movie and propelling the overall story forward. Including this prologue scene setting up Bruce Wayne’s hatred of Kal-El and what he did to Metropolis was a smart move in more ways than one. Not only does it move the story forward, Snyder validates one of the biggest complaints from Man of Steel. This complaint is about the wanton destruction of Metropolis during the final battle and the major loss of life. Snyder doesn’t attempt to excuse or explain why it happened, but instead infuses those complaints into Bruce Wayne and his motivations for Dawn of Justice.

Before this horrific moment, the public and even Bruce Wayne did not know of Kal-El and his existence on Earth. Then all of a sudden in a matter of days, the world changes and these aliens are destroying cities and people are dying as a result of their feud. Dawn of Justice deals directly with this fear, from Bruce Wayne and others being scared of what Kal-El can do, to the media having a heyday with biased reporting and trying to pit half of the population against the other half. In real life we can’t even have a presidential election without arguing and protests, with the media fueling hatred for the two parties to go against each other. Imagine if an event such as what happened in Man of Steel actually happened and how the media would cover it and try to influence the population. I imagine it would happen pretty close to what is portrayed in this film, half of the population would hate Superman, the other half would love him and the media would do all it could to demonize the other half it doesn’t agree with. I believe this to be a genius move by Snyder and the story writers. This isn’t your father’s 1978 Superman feel good story, and nor should it be. A lot has changed in 35 years and a modern retelling of Superman should reflect that.

 

 

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

batman-v-superman2

“Black and blue. Fight night. The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: God versus man; day versus night; Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!”– Lex Luthor

Batman versus Superman. When this title was announced at San Diego Comic Con in 2014, it blew my mind! I was eagerly awaiting the announcement of a Man of Steel 2 movie, but this! This, my fellow nerds, was paramount to the Second Coming! Then to top it all off – Wonder Woman was announced to be a part of the movie too!

Batman AND Superman in the same movie?! The Man of Steel AND The Dark Knight at odds one with another?! Wonder Woman fighting alongside the two most iconic superheroes of all time?! Finally! This will be the first time The Trinity would appear on the big screen for fans to enjoy. For the first time we will see Diana Prince in action on film. The potential for greatness and movie making history was finally announced! And let me tell you, this film did not disappoint.

Wait, WHAT?! What is this you are reading? I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Am I truly reading a review of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that isn’t disparaging the film left and right?” or “Am I understanding this correctly? This guy actually LIKED this movie?!” The answer is yes, you are.

But all joking aside; yes, I did enjoy this movie from the first viewing. I saw it multiple times in the theaters, four times in fact. I would’ve gone once or twice more had I had the time to do so. I bought the Ultimate Edition when it came out on home video and my appreciation and enjoyment of this film grew even more. The storyline and character development was fleshed out to be more fulfilling and robust with the Ultimate Edition. If this Ultimate Edition had been released in theaters, I believe it would have been better received.

I intend to break this film down into various parts from beginning to end, as well as to write a character analysis for each of the main players in the film, over the next few weeks. To discuss and analyze everything this movie event has to offer would be too long for one blog post. I will attempt to win over those that dislike, are ambivalent, and even hate this movie; as well as reinforce the greatness of this movie with those that do enjoy it. I’m looking forward to this experience as I delve deep into this film, which in my opinion could be considered the greatest movie of 2016. It’s only competition being Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

But at the end of the day, if you don’t like the film – that’s fine, if you do like the film -great! Either way, life will go on and Warner Bros. will continue to produce and release films from the DC Universe for those that enjoy them.

Listed below are the topics I will address and expound upon, I will activate links to the various topics and characters as I finish writing them.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 1 – Prologue

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 2 – The Setup

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 3 – Investigations

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 4 – The Plan is Set in Motion

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice pt. 5 – War

Bruce Wayne/Batman

Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman

Lex Luthor

Lois Lane

Alfred

Zod/Doomsday

Suicide Squad

 

suicidesquad

A black man, a white girl, a latino man, a white dude from Australia, a crocodile, an asian woman, and another white guy walk into a bar. No really, this happens in Suicide Squad, but Suicide Squad is no joke – it’s the real deal!

Suicide Squad provides us with one of the most diverse ensemble casts in a major blockbuster movie ever, interestingly enough I have yet to read any review out there that praises this. I’m sure there are one or two out there, but my point is critics have heavily criticized Hollywood for not casting more diverse actors in big budget movies for quite some time. Now that there is a major blockbuster being released with a strong and diverse cast, all we get are complaints against the movie.

Despite Suicide Squad getting such negative reviews from critics, but curiously enough normal movie goers are giving it high ratings, this movie is worth watching. No, Suicide Squad won’t change your perspective on life, you won’t walk out of the theater wanting to work at the homeless shelter, or you won’t have an epiphany and realize you’re doing everything wrong. What it will do is take you on a wild ride for two hours, as you watch the bad guys kick butt and realize that they actually need to do some good in the world they live in.

The Good, the Bat, and the Ugly

The good things that we get to see right from the start are short backstory’s on the members of the Suicide Squad and how they ended up getting caught and placed in Belle Reve. We get to know the Suicide Squad and who they are. We see the reasons for what motivates the Squad to be able to do what they do in the rest of the film. We see how the world’s best and most hardened assassin, Deadshot, just wants to be a good dad and watch his daughter grow up. We see when Harley Quinzel first meets the Joker at Arkham Asylum and how she falls under his spell. We see a tortured soul, June Moone, possessed by a witch, the Enchantress, and how the man, Rick Flagg, loves her and just wants to ease her pain.

The surprising thing about the Suicide Squad members is that they all have their reasons, emotional and meaningful reasons, for what they do. It’s a welcome relief from the trite, one dimensional (two dimensions, if we’re lucky) villains that we’ve been getting from other films (yeah, Marvel I’m referring to your films). And the great thing about this film is that they are all villains and they all have multiple facets and motivations to them!

Now to the Bat. Yes, the Batman makes his mark in this film too, and it is fun to watch him work. This hearkens back to the Dark Knight trilogy where we see Batman hunting down criminals and locking them up. We see Batman confront Deadshot in what is most likely the most emotional sequence in the film. We see Batman chase down The Joker and Harley Quinn, in what is the funnest sequence of the film to watch. We see a brief cameo of The Flash as he captures Boomerang.

Now, all of this is post Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and pre-Justice League. The film references the Death of Superman, and also shows Bruce Wayne gathering intel on MetaHumans to recruit for a project of his – the beginnings of Justice League!

Since, you can’t have Batman without The Joker, The Joker is also planning and working behind the scenes in this movie. He is the wild card in this movie and every minute he is on screen, The Joker is fun to watch. In my mind, he is to this movie as Wonder Woman was to Dawn of Justice, it just wouldn’t be as entertaining without him. The end of the film leaves it open to a Joker/Harley Quinn stand alone film, which DC and WB better explore sometime soon!

The ugly is ugly in this movie. We meet Killer Croc and boy is he ugly! He was a little hard to understand in the film and had few lines, but he could fight and he was a beast to behold. El Diablo has a dark side to him and is always in the background for the first part of the movie. When he comes into play though, we understand his reticence to come to the battle full throttle and that he is a man who realizes how ugly inside he is and realizes he has a penance to pay.

The woman in charge of this Squad is Amanda Waller, and she too has a dark side to her. This is someone you don’t want to mess with and is the perfect person to manage this ragtag gang of misfits. She is able to keep them in line by coercion, threats, and manipulation. Although she does have a very slight soft side to her that comes out in the end of the film, but I think that is even a means to end for her and her management of Project X.

Suicide Squad has it’s failings and is in no way a perfect movie, but it does more than entertain. It fits nicely in the already established DCCU and furthers the overall narrative of this new Cinematic Universe created by DC. At the time of this posting, the Monday after release, the audience and fans think so too as Suicide Squad is already in the top 10 for domestic earnings for 2016 in it’s first weekend.

In addition to the movie, the official soundtrack and the official score of Suicide Squad are top notch and worth listening to. The film has a hip hop vibe to it (maybe this is what turned off critics) and this is reflected in the soundtrack with artists such as Lil’ Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, and Eminem. It also has a cover of the classic hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, and includes Credence Clearwater Revivals’ Fortunate Son. The best new song on the album is ‘Heathens’ by Twenty One Pilots. The official score is composed by Academy Award Winner, Steven Price (for composing Gravity), and fits in nicely with the other DC film scores by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.

Man of Steel II

Wait, I thought he was dead?! Spoiler Alert!!

MoS

TheWrap.com is reporting that Warner Bros is starting development for a Man of Steel sequel. Just when you thought Superman was dead (as shown in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and solidified in Suicide Squad), he’s back! Ok, I don’t think anyone really thought he was dead Dead, but now we know for sure that he isn’t.

Even though it has been speculated and planned previously that DC and WB would eventually do a MoS sequel, I guess it’s now official. I’m glad they are moving forward with this, I’d love to see The Batman (directed by and starring Ben Affleck) and Man of Steel II in theaters in the same calendar year. DC could create some great excitement from releasing them in the same year, months apart, and have the stories be interconnected on some level. I guess we’ll see what DC and WB have in store for us as more details are announced.

 

 

Star Trek Beyond

STBeyond

I have enjoyed these new Star Trek movies that have rebooted the franchise and taken the story off in to a new direction. I think JJ Abrams has brought new life into a franchise that was slowly dying off. I feel that Beyond was a good addition to this new storyline, and that the movie franchise is headed in the right direction.

I had a mixed reaction to this film, as there were a lot of story elements, action sequences, and new characters that I really liked. There were also story elements, action sequences, and new characters that I found to be  boring and uninteresting. Warning: There will be spoilers discussed below.

First the boring and uninteresting. I found the film’s villian, Krall, to be the same ol’, same ol’, which is too bad as Idris Elba is a great actor. There was nothing new or creative about him in this film. What we get is a former good guy that experiences a crisis and becomes bitter. He feels wronged by Starfleet and then seeks revenge on the establishment who did him wrong.

The next boring thing is something I was surprised that I found it boring. The action sequence of the Enterprise being completely destroyed, once again. While I’m guessing if this was the first Star Trek movie I’d ever seen, I would find this scene gripping and shocking. However, how many times has the Enterprise been destroyed? In my eyes, too many to make it relevant anymore, and they always rebuild it, and they always let Kirk be the Captain again. There is no drama to this event happening, as it continues to be portrayed over and over again. In fact the rebuilding of the Enterprise at the end of the movie was glossed over and they showed it happen in about 30 seconds. I think I would be more surprised if they made it through a movie without the Enterprise being destroyed at this point.

Another boring plot point is the crew being held captive on the planet and having to be rescued by Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, and the new girl. There was no drama to it. You knew it was going to happen, and the way they were freed wasn’t that exciting. Also, the lack of Uhura’s screen time is almost criminal. She was such a strong, fun, enjoyable character in the previous two movies, and to have her relegated to the role (or lack of a role) in this movie is probably the worst thing in this movie! It’s like the writer, Simon Pegg, went back to the 1960’s and relegated her to a backup character.

Ok, just so you don’t think I hated this movie, which I didn’t, I will praise the film for it’s fun and interesting parts! First of all, the introduction of Jaylah is a good addition to the franchise and I hope she is brought back for future Star Trek adventures. I enjoyed the extra screen time that we got for Bones and Spock together, as well as Chekov (RIP Anton) and Kirk. I think that having an ensemble cast with actors and characters such as these of the Enterprise crew can make it hard to divvy up screen time and plot points between all of them. (but still, Uhura needed more screen time!)

I liked how the film started off with Kirk being bored after being in space for over 2 years, because I’ve always thought that it would get monotonous real quick. I enjoyed how Kirk was able to find his motivation to stay with the Enterprise and refocus on his career.

I liked how they found the old starship, USS Franklin, and had to resurrect it and get it up and running in order to escape the planet. The end chase scene through the city and the subsequent fight between Kirk and Krall was pretty intense and it was a great way to end the conflict.

Oh, and no Carol Danvers? Another missed opportunity, as she was a great character in the last film, Into Darkness.

Some things that I liked in theory, but thought it didn’t work well in the execution of it. First of all, the Beastie Boys defeat the massive enemy invasion? I love the Beastie Boys, I grew up with them and have all of their albums. I thought the inclusion of their song in the first Star Trek was clever and appropriate. However, in Beyond it seemed forced and too simplistic of a way to defeat the highly advanced, technological threat of Krall and his army. Maybe if the crew would have been listening to Sabotage while fighting the enemy and defeating them in a different manner? I could get behind that.

Another thing was Kirk riding the motorcycle through the enemy camp while no one could pick him off. I like the visual of him tearing it up and avoiding the enemy, but I’m pretty sure my 15 year old son could’ve taken him out at some point during the 10+ minutes of riding around the camp.

So with all this being said, I did enjoy the film and I’m glad they are doing a fourth film in this new Star Trek universe. I’m curious to see how George Kirk will play into the story. Knowing JJ, there’s some alternate universe/time travel element to it. If Spock can meet up with his future self, then Kirk can meet his dad, right?

Of the three new Star Trek movies, Star Trek Beyond is my third favorite. I put Star Trek Into Darkness as my favorite, then Star Trek, followed by Beyond.

1- Star Trek Into Darkness

2- Star Trek

3 – Star Trek Beyond

The Killing Joke

Batman-The_Killing_Joke_(film)

Recently, on July 25th, I went to see the animated release of The Killing Joke that was shown in theaters for a limited, two night showing. Once again, with my trusty sidekick, Marc, we went to a late night showing with a bunch of fellow nerds. This post will contain spoilers.

While the actual movie was shorter than I expected, we did get to see Mark Hamill reminiscing over his past performances of The Joker and how he was looking forward to being able to once again portray The Joker in The Killing Joke.

I was surprised at the animation style and how it didn’t seem to be up to par with other animated releases. I’m not sure if it was an artistic decision or a budgetary reason, but it did distract me from the story for awhile.

There has been some recent criticisms of the film (surprise!), which seems to accompany any film release nowadays. But that is the world we live in now, whether the criticism is accurate or not, someone is offended – but that’s a different argument for a different time and a different website. The criticisms vary from Batman and Batgirl having a romantic relationship to how Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, was abused by The Joker. I can see how the latter is concerning as it portrays inappropriate and damaging violence towards women. The former complaint doesn’t have merit for me. If Bruce and Barbara want to have a fling then that’s their decision, and the film clearly portrays them making a conscious decision to go forward with the relationship.

With that being said, the way The Joker kidnaps Jim Gordon from Barbara’s apartment and shoots her and then takes photos of Barbara to later try and break Det. Gordon is pretty accurate in relation to how it was previously portrayed in the comic book story. The story of Bruce and Barbara being involved in a relationship was not in the original story. I think comic book lovers get too involved with and concerned about the idea of “that wasn’t in the comic book!”. While I can appreciate general ideas and concepts and even a specific scene or sequence being portrayed on film, I would rather have the filmmaker add to the already existing story that was presented in the comic. Or even change the story halfway through and have a different ending. I think that movies, or animated features, or TV shows that follow the previous story exactly are boring and predictable, as we have already consumed that story in a different medium. I feel the same with novels or comic books that are based on a movie. If they are the exact same story as what was presented on TV or the movie screen, then I don’t feel like I’ve seen anything new.

The comic The Killing Joke is disturbing and intense to read. This style carried over to the animated feature. I believe the criticisms given are legitimate, but at the same time wonder why there wasn’t outrage when the comic was released. But again that’s another topic for another website.

While it was a bold move to release The Killing Joke in theaters, I don’t believe it was the right medium for this story to be told. The level of animation and directing didn’t rise to the level of a movie release. This release was strictly based on fan demand, in my opinion. I feel that like most animated DC movies, the straight to video format would’ve worked just fine for this movie. It’s perfect for home video viewing, but too small for the big time.