Archive for the Superhero Films Category

Suicide Squad

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the aftermath of Superman’s death, intelligence officer Amanda Waller assembles Task Force X, a team of dangerous criminals imprisoned at Belle Reve Prison consisting of elite hitman Deadshot, former psychiatrist Harley Quinn, pyrokinetic ex-gangster El Diablo, opportunistic thief Captain Boomerang, genetic mutation Killer Croc, and specialized assassin Slipknot. They are placed under command of Colonel Rick Flag to be used as disposable assets in high-risk missions for the United States government. Each member has a nano bomb implanted in their neck, designed to detonate should any member rebel or try to escape.

One of Waller’s intended recruits is Flag’s girlfriend Dr. June Moone, an archaeologist possessed by a witch-goddess known as the “Enchantress”. Enchantress quickly turns on Waller, deciding to eradicate humankind with a mystical weapon for imprisoning her. She besieges Midway City by transforming its populace into a horde of monsters, and summons her brother Incubus to assist her. Waller then deploys the squad to extract a high-profile mark from Midway, which is reported to be under a terrorist attack.

Harley’s homicidal lover, the Joker, finds out about her predicament and tortures Belle Reve Security Officer Griggs into leading him to the facility where the nano bombs are made. There, he blackmails Dr. Van Criss into disabling Harley’s bomb. On approach, the squad’s helicopter is shot down, forcing them to proceed on foot to their target. Boomerang inaccurately convinces Slipknot that the bombs are a ruse to keep them in check; Slipknot attempts to escape and Flag kills him via his nano bomb, while the squad is attacked by Enchantress’ minions. They eventually manage to fight their way through to a safe room, where they learn that their mark is Waller herself, who is attempting to cover up her involvement in Enchantress’ siege.

The squad escorts Waller to a rooftop for extraction, but the arriving helicopter has been hijacked by the Joker and his men, who open fire on the squad while Harley climbs aboard upon Dr. Van Criss disarming the bomb. However, Waller’s men shoot down the helicopter, and Harley falls out while the Joker is presumed dead, after which Harley rejoins the squad. Alerted to Waller’s whereabouts, Enchantress’ minions arrive and kidnap her. Deadshot finds Waller’s confidential files and learns the truth about Enchantress. Flag is then forced to confess the truth, causing the squad members to abandon him. With Waller compromised, Flag relieves the squad of the mission, but chooses to continue. Realizing they have an opportunity to prove themselves, they soon rejoin him and locate Enchantress at a partially-flooded subway station. Killer Croc and a group of Navy SEALs, led by Lieutenant GQ Edwards, go underwater to plant a bomb underneath Incubus. El Diablo embraces his abilities and manages to distract Incubus long enough for the bomb to detonate underneath, killing them both as well as Edwards.

The remaining squad members battle Enchantress together, but are ultimately defeated. Enchantress offers to fulfill their deepest desires in exchange for their allegiance, and Harley feigns interest in order to get close enough to cut out Enchantress’ heart. Killer Croc then throws explosives into Enchantress’ weapon and Deadshot shoots them, destroying the device. Flag takes Enchantress’ heart and crushes it, finally freeing June from the curse. Waller, still alive, emerges, and the squad members are returned to Belle Reve with ten years off their sentences. All but Captain Boomerang are allowed special privileges. The Joker, alive and unscathed, breaks into the penitentiary and rescues Harley. In a mid-credits scene, Waller meets with Bruce Wayne, who agrees to protect her from the backlash against her role in Enchantress’ rampage in exchange for access to the government’s files on the expanding metahuman community.

REVIEW:

With all the superhero movies out there today, shouldn’t we start having some that put the spotlight on the supervillains? That is what the idea behind Suicide Squad is, I believe. No matter what side of the fence you are on regarding this film, you can’t deny that it brought some new characters to the big screen. Regardless of that fact, though, one must wonder if this worth the time to watch or would it be better to just find clips on Youtube.

What is this about?

In this thrill-packed visit to the dark side of the DC Comics universe, a covert government organization drafts a team of jailed supervillains to carry out black ops missions in return for clemency.

What did I like?

Harley. A lot of people don’t know or don’t realize that Harley is actually a pretty young character. She was created originally for Batman: The Animated Series and gained so much popularity that she was written into the actual comics. Now you see her almost as much as you see major Batman adversaries such as Joker, Penguin, Riddler, etc. When I saw that Margot Robbie was set to play her and saw her costume, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. At least we got the easter egg with her in the jester outfit, though. Also, Robbie is doing her best to keep the Jersey accent that Harley is known for, and I can appreciate that. Now, the chemical bath thing, I’m not so sure about, but I can let that slide.

No longer in the Arrowverse. I think it was in season 1 or 2 of Arrow that audiences were given a fairly decent take on Floyd Lawton, otherwise known as Deadshot. Just as we were starting to get used to the guy, they kill him! Turns out that was so they could have him for this film. Truth be told, I like Will Smith’s version better, as a person. As the character, I would go with the guy from the tv show. Still, Smith stepped out of his comfort zone a bit and played a villain, and he deserves kudos for that (and not dragging his no-talent son into this with him).

Amanda Waller. This is the second time Amanda Waller has been portrayed on the big-screen. Third if you count that chick that play her on Arrow. In Green Lantern, she was played by Angela Bassett, but I didn’t get the villainous vibe from her there. In this film, Viola Davis plays her and it very much feels like she would shoot you in the face as well as shake your hand. The duplicitous nature of this character is what makes her so interesting and I am very glad they really played it up in this film. Hopefully we’ll get more of her in future DC films.

What didn’t I like?

Killer Croc. I’m not the biggest fan of Killer Croc. The only time his character has really impressed me is in the first Arkham Asylum game where he chases you through the sewers. I know its just a game, but that was some terrifying stuff when I went through it the first time. The main reason I don’t like this Croc has to do with his design. I’ve always preferred him to be more of a giant reptile type creature, rather a normal size dude with bad skin. They could’ve at least done something about making him more of a threat height wise.

Cholo. The whole film has this L.A. gangster vibe that I wasn’t feeling. A couple of characters can fit that mold, such as El Diablo, but everyone didn’t need to be tatted up throwing around gang signs and whatnot. The Joker is the worst culprit! I know this is Jared Leto’s interpretation of the Joker. More power to him! The whole tatted up, slicked back hair, and the silver grill…nuh uh! These things are not the Joker! That’s some cholo mess right there!

Just put the mask on! Once again we have a case of a major star cast as a character who wears a mask 99% of the time, but refuses to wear it except for a couple of scenes. Smith’s excuse in the film is that “people die when I wear it.” This is coming from an assassin! WTF?!? Put the damn mask on and be Deadshot, or find another role! I’m so tired of these diva actors who are “too good” to wear a mask because they think we won’t see their face!

Final thought on Suicide Squad? I didn’t expect to like this, to be honest with you. I had heard bad things when it was released this summer and, coupled with my busy schedule, just didn’t bother going to see it back then. Finally getting a chance to watch it tonight and I have to say that I enjoyed myself. If those reshoots they did were to add some action and comedy in, then I’m all for it. Had this film been another ultra-serious, brooding, dark film like everything else DC has put out, im likely to have jumped off a bridge! With that said, do I recommend this? Believe it or not, yes I do. This isn’t a cinematic masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it worth a watch.

4 out of 5 stars

X-Men: Apocalypse

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

En Sabah Nur, a powerful mutant believed to be the first of his kind, rules ancient Egypt until he is betrayed by his worshippers, who entomb him alive. His four lieutenants die preserving him. Awakening in 1983, he believes humanity has lost its way without his presence. Aiming to destroy and remake the world, he recruits Cairo pickpocket Ororo Munroe, who can control the weather, and upgrades her power.

In East Berlin, shape-shifting mutant Raven investigates an underground fight club and discovers mutant champion Angel, who possesses a pair of large feathered wings on his back, and Kurt Wagner, who can teleport. Raven rescues Kurt and employs the services of black marketeer Caliban to transport him to America. En Sabah Nur recruits Caliban’s enforcer, Psylocke, who leads him to Angel. En Sabah Nur enhances both their powers, transforming Angel’s wings into metal.

Alex Summers discovers that his younger brother Scott is manifesting a mutation for shooting optic beams. Alex takes Scott to Professor Charles Xavier’s educational institute in Westchester County, New York, hoping that Xavier and Hank McCoy will teach him to control his abilities. Scott meets the telepathic and telekinetic Jean Grey, and the two develop an attraction. Raven brings Kurt to the institute. En Sabah Nur’s powers cause disturbances around the world, leading Xavier and Alex to consult with CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, who has been researching the legend of Nur.

In Communist Poland, the metal-controlling mutant Erik Lehnsherr lives with his wife and their young daughter, Nina. He uses his powers to save a coworker, prompting the militia to capture him. When they murder Erik’s family, he retaliates by executing them. En Sabah Nur later approaches the devastated Erik and takes him to Auschwitz, where Erik’s power first manifested. Erik destroys the camp and joins him.

En Sabah Nur remotely accesses Cerebro, a brainwave-amplifying device Xavier uses to locate mutants. Through it, he forces the telepathic Xavier to make the global superpowers launch their entire nuclear arsenals into space to prevent interference with En Sabah Nur’s plan. He and his new lieutenants arrive at the mansion and kidnap Xavier. Attempting to stop them, Alex accidentally causes an explosion that destroys the mansion. Peter Maximoff, having learned that he is Erik’s son and hoping that Xavier can help to find him, arrives just in time; he uses his super-speed to evacuate the students before the explosion destroys the building, but Alex is presumed dead. Colonel William Stryker’s forces subsequently capture Hank, Raven, Peter, and Moira, and take them to a military facility for interrogation. Scott, Jean and Kurt follow covertly, and liberate their comrades using Stryker’s mind-controlled and brainwashed experiment Weapon X, whose memories Jean partially restores.

At En Sabah Nur’s behest, Erik uses his powers to control the Earth’s magnetic poles, causing death and destruction across the planet. En Sabah Nur plans to transfer his consciousness into Xavier’s body, and use Xavier’s power to enslave every person on earth. Xavier secretly sends a telepathic distress call to Jean, and the others travel to Cairo to battle Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur) and his horsemen. They rescue Xavier, but he loses his hair as the process nears completion. Angel is defeated and incapacitated in the battle. Erik and Ororo are persuaded to turn on En Sabah Nur and, with the help of Scott, they keep him occupied physically while Xavier fights him telepathically in the astral plane. Finally, Xavier encourages Jean to unleash the full extent of her powers, incinerating En Sabah Nur, killing him for good. In the ensuing chaos, Psylocke flees.

Xavier and Moira rekindle their relationship. Erik and Jean help reconstruct the school, but Erik refuses Xavier’s offer to stay and help teach. Peter decides not to tell Erik yet that he is Erik’s son. Hank and Raven train new X-Men recruits Scott, Jean, Ororo, Kurt and Peter.

In a post-credits scene, men in suits visit the Weapon X facility to retrieve data on Stryker’s mutant research, including an X-ray and a blood sample marked “Weapon X”, on behalf of the Essex Corporation.

REVIEW:

Bryan Singer is the man who brought the X-Men to the big screen way back in 2000 and many give him credit for jump starting the superhero movie boom (though I’m sure Blade has a solid case). Now that he’s back, expectations are high for X-Men: Apocalypse. Does this film live up to those lofty expectations? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

Bearing the ominous moniker of Apocalypse, a legendary mutant comes to life after thousands of years and resolves to impose an oppressive new world order. With humanity’s fate at stake, the X-Men team prepares for an all-or-nothing showdown.

What did I like?

80s. As a child of the 80s, of course I’m going to be a little partial to films that are set in that era. The fashions, the music, even a marquee featuring Return of the Jedi and characters talking about Empire Strikes Back (with a slight jab at X-Men: The Last Stand). This could have very well been set in modern day, but I don’t it would have worked as well. Same goes for if it was set in the near future.

Be gentle, it’s my first time. We’ve seen Professor X, Magneto, Beast, Mystique, etc. on-screen plenty of times, but this is the first time for the likes of Psylocke, Archangel, Apocalypse, etc. There are literally hundreds of X-Men, we don’t need to keep seeing the same handful. Now, its up for debate about whether these characters were any good, but hey, give them time and we’ll see what they can do.

Foreshadowing. There is a scene where Professor Xavier is fighting Apocalypse on the astral plane and he calls in Jean Grey, a telekinetic in her own right, for reinforcements. When she engages in the battle we are treated to her full power and the energy around her is shaped like a bird…a phoenix, it would see. If this is foreshadowing for a future film based on the Dark Phoenix saga, I’m all for it (hopefully they’ll do it right, this time). If not, then it was just a nice visual easter egg.

What didn’t I like?

Loss of power. My first introduction to Apocalypse was in the 90s X-Men animated series, where he was portrayed as a true being of unspeakable power. Since then, from what I’ve read in the comics, he’s only gotten more powerful. While he does have a fair amount of power, I never felt like he was nigh unstoppable. Basically, he was just a step above Magneto. This is a guy that was supposedly there at the very beginning and his power theoretically grows every year, so why does he feel so unintimidating? Maybe it is the Ivan Ooze look they gave him?

Phoning it in. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the way Mystique has been portrayed on film. Don’t get me wrong, a half naked Rebecca Romijn or Jennifer Lawrence is perfectly fine, but the paint and scales, not so much. With Lawrence, she just looks like she’s wearing blue grease paint and doesn’t seem comfortable in the role. Also, it seems as if the bigger her star has become, the less interested she has been in playing this role. Many other critics and reviewers have said it, but she looks like she is just in this for the paycheck and to honor her contract. There is no enthusiasm or life in her performance. If we get another film with this universe, she either needs to step it up or the directors need to find someone else who gives a damn!

Too soon? I know we’re like 9 movies into the X-Men franchise, but it was recently rebooted with X-Men: First Class. This brings me to question whether it is too soon to bring in a major foe such as Apocalypse in, at least without more of a buildup. The average movie goer knows little to nothing about Apocalypse, and that’s if they took a few minutes to read some Wikipedia articles on him. I don’t know. I guess part of me is just wishes they would have gone with another adversary like the Hellfire Club or the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants while the seeds were planted for a big Apocalypse entrance. Instead we get a story involving a villain that we have no connection to, other than a quick backstory at the beginning of the film.

Final verdict on X-Men: Apocalypse? Well, it gave us an X-Men story that wasn’t reliant on Wolverine, so there is that. The new versions of Jean, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, etc. aren’t given anything to really endear themselves to the audience or make us forget Halle Berry, Famke Jensen, James Marsden, etc. The action is engaging and the effects are what you have come to expect from this franchise. So, do I recommend it? Yes, but this is not the best film in the franchise, so keep that in mind. Still, it is worth watching once or twice, so there you go.

4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Four (2015)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Childhood friends Reed Richards and Ben Grimm have worked together on a prototype teleporter since youth, eventually attracting the attention of Professor Franklin Storm, director of the Baxter Foundation, a government-sponsored research institute for young prodigies. Reed is recruited to join them and aid Storm’s children, scientist Sue Storm and the somewhat reckless technician and her younger brother Johnny Storm, into completing a “Quantum Gate” designed by Storm’s wayward protégé, Victor von Doom, who begrudgingly agrees to help due to his unrequited feelings for Sue.

The experiment is successful, and the facility’s supervisor, Dr. Allen, plans to send a group from NASA to venture into a parallel dimension known as “Planet Zero”. Disappointed at being denied the chance to join the expedition, Reed, Johnny, and Victor along with Ben use the Quantum Gate to embark on an unsanctioned voyage to Planet Zero, which they learn is a world filled with otherworldly substances. Victor attempts to touch the green-lava like substance, causing the surface they are on to collapse and the ground to erupt. Reed, Johnny, and Ben return to their shuttle just as Sue brings them back to Earth. Victor is seemingly killed after he falls into the collapsing landscape. The machine explodes, altering Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben on a molecular-genetic level, affording them superhuman abilities beyond their control: Reed can stretch like rubber, Susan can become invisible and generate force shields, Johnny can engulf his entire body in fire and fly, and Ben becomes bigger and develops a rock-like hide which gives him superhuman strength and durability. They are then placed in government custody and confinement to be studied and have their conditions and abilities tested. Blaming himself for the accident, Reed escapes from the facility and tries to find a cure for their changes.

One year later, Reed is now a fugitive and has built a suit that is able to adapt to his body’s plasticity and help him control his ability. Hiding in Central America, he is eventually found by the United States military with Sue’s help and captured by Ben, who has become a military asset along with Johnny and Sue. Johnny and Sue have been outfitted with specialized suits designed to help them stabilize and control their abilities. Reed is brought to Area 57, where Dr. Allen conscripts him to open another portal to Planet Zero in exchange for giving Reed the necessary resources to find a cure. Arriving in Planet Zero, Dr. Allen’s explorers find Victor, who has been fused to his spacesuit and can now control the elements, as well as having telekinetic abilities, and bring him back to Earth. Believing the human race needs to be destroyed so he can rebuild Planet Zero in his image, Victor kills scientists and soldiers in the base including Dr. Allen and Professor Storm and returns to Planet Zero using the Quantum Gate, with Ben, Johnny, Reed, and Sue in pursuit.

Now dubbing himself “Doom”, Victor activates a portal on Planet Zero using the Quantum Gate II, and a structure consisting of the rock formations in Planet Zero he made while in the realm, that begins consuming the landscape of the Earth. He is confronted by the four and, after a short battle, Ben punches Doom into the portal’s energy beam, disintegrating him while Johnny closes the portal. Returning to Earth, the group is rewarded for their heroics by being given a new base of operations by the US military known as “Central City” to study their abilities. They decide to use their powers to help people and adopt the mantle of the “Fantastic Four”.

REVIEW:

In Marvel Comics, there have always been 3 main groups (though these days it isn’t so cut and dry). The Avengers, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four…and Spider-Man is on the outside looking in sometimes. We are all aware of how the big screen has treated the Avengers and X-Men, but the Fantastic Four haven’t fared so well, be it the early film that director Harvey Korman wants kept from public viewing or the two films from the early 2000s,  the studio felt it time to give this family another shot. This brings us to Fant4stic, but will the film be fantastic?

What is this about?

In this updated sci-fi saga about the legendary Fantastic Four, a team of scientists who suddenly acquire superhuman abilities are soon obliged to put them to use when a powerful nemesis with malevolent plans threatens Earth.

What did I like?

Basics. When it comes to the Fantastic Four, it is next to impossible to get the basics wrong, unless you are just changing things for the sake of changing them (more on that later). The filmmakers were smart enough to give us the basic origin and characteristics of the titular characters and their arch-nemesis (albeit slightly altered), showed us the infamous Baxter building, and threw in the magical voice of Reg E. Cathey for good measure.

What didn’t I like?

Tone. For quite some time, I have been saying that not every superhero film needs to be dark and brooding. Marvel Studios knows how to have a different tone for their films, though I’m not so sure about the TV and Netflix shows. How else do you explain the reason Captain America’s films feel totally different from the Iron Man films? Now, while the FF may be Marvel properties, the still aren’t under the studio banner because of some legal mumbo jumbo that I don’t really feel like getting into right now. What is important to note is that a character like Batman works in a dark, gritty, realistic landscape. The Fantastic Four belong in the optimistic, bright, family friendly city. Someone suggested that this might have worked better as a period piece, set in the 60s. I can totally see that, or maybe being set in something similar to the new Spider-Man film. This darkness, though, does nothing for these characters.

Chemistry. These four are supposed to be family, even though at this point they’re just meeting each other. I just wasn’t feeling it, though. Sue and Reed have about as much spark as two sticks being rubbed together in the ocean. Johnny and Ben, who are known for having witty repartee’, barely interact until the last scene, and then it feels forced. One more thing, their interaction with Dr. Doom…sorry, its just Doom for some reason, was more like, *YAWN* let’s get this over with. Who ever put this group together…well, I’m not done with you, yet!

Storm front. Before this film was released, much was made of the casting of the Johnny and Susan Storm. Kate Mara as Susan felt like everything opposite of Sue Storm, except for smart. When I think of Sue Storm, I picture a smart, sexy woman with maternal qualities keeping the group together, not a cold bitch who could care less about any of them. As far as Johnny goes, he actually might have been the best part of the film, as far as acting goes. That being said, I feel Michael B. Jordan was cast for no other reason than to stir up headlines. There was no reason for Johnny Storm to be an African-American and have a white sister, a situation which was never explained as far as I can tell. Nothing against Michael B. Jordan, but his casting is one of the reasons this film didn’t work. It was too much of a distraction. If the filmmakers insisted on going with him, then they shouldn’t have cast Mara as Sue, but instead found an African-American actress who could do the role justice.

Effects. Let me get right down to it. The effects are horrible. I want to focus on 2 in particular, Doom and The Thing. As we say in Fantastic Four, Victor von Doom just can’t have a regular mask. He has to be an entire suit of metal, complete with telekinesis powers. Why? Don’t ask me! I’m really dumbfounded by the fact that they copied his look from a film that they were trying to distance themselves from. As far as Ben Grimm goes, well, he didn’t look like a lovable, blue-eyed thing, but instead a true monster. If that was the look they were going for, great. However, imagine if you’re a little kid and you run into him. Chances are you’d run away. Thing isn’t supposed to be scary, but this filmmakers seemed to think that was the way to go…and he was wrong!

Quantum leap. We are taught in school that every good story has a beginning, middle, and end, and somewhere in there needs to be a climax. Well, the person who wrote this film obviously didn’t go to school because after this film’s 90 minute extremely slow intro, it skips the middle and jumps to the climactic confrontation. What happened to the middle? Your guess is as good as mine!

Final verdict on Fant4stic? For those that are looking for a truly solid Fantastic Four film, Pixar has one in their library. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, The Incredibles? I struggle to have anything good to say about this film. Oh, it was filmed here in Baton Rouge! Does that count? Much like Man of Steel, someone got the bright idea that these characters would work better if you took away everything that had made them so popular in the first place (humor, chemistry, color, etc). As a result, the film suffers and we’ll probably have to wait for Marvel to get the rights back for anything positive to happen with these characters. Do I recommend this flick? No, you’re better off finding one of the other films, if you must have a FF fix. Don’t waste your time with this one.

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Doctor Strange (2016)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and murder its librarian, keeper of ancient and mystical texts. They steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown time and taught all at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the ways of the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius escapes with the pages and some of his followers.

Stephen Strange, an acclaimed neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former lover Christine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange, believing he can regain use of his hands, instead uses all his resources pursuing experimental surgeries in vain. After learning of Jonathon Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously was able to walk again, Strange seeks him out, and is directed to Kamar-Taj. There, Strange is taken in by another sorcerer under the Ancient One, Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. Strange begs her to teach him, and she eventually agrees despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.

Strange begins his tutelage under the Ancient One and Mordo, and learns from the ancient books in the library, now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The task of the sorcerers is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn chose to forgo this responsibility in favor of channeling mystical energy into walking again. Strange advances quickly over several months, even secretly reading from the text Kaecilius stole from and learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, comparing his arrogant yearning for power to that of Kaecilius, who believes, after the deaths of his loved ones, that everyone should have eternal life.

Kaecilius and his followers use the stolen pages to begin summoning the powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time does not exist and all can live forever. This destroys the London Sanctum, and sends Strange from Kamar-Taj to the New York Sanctum. The zealots then attack there, where Strange holds them off with the mystical Cloak of Levitation until Mordo and the Ancient One arrive. Strange and Mordo become disillusioned with the Ancient One after Kaecilius reveals that her long life has come from her own use of Dormammu’s power. Kaecilius mortally wounds the Ancient One, and escapes to Hong Kong. The Ancient One tells Strange that he, too, will have to break the rules, to balance Mordo’s steadfast nature. She then dies, despite the best efforts of Strange and a bewildered Palmer. Strange and Mordo arrive in Hong Kong to find Wong dead and the Sanctum destroyed, with the Dark Dimension already engulfing Earth. Strange uses the Eye to turn back time and save Wong, before creating an infinite time loop inside the Dark Dimension that traps himself and Dormammu in the same moment forever. Strange agrees to break the loop if Dormammu leaves Earth, and the latter takes Kaecilius and the zealots with him.

Disgusted by Strange and the Ancient One’s disregard for the consequences of defying nature, Mordo departs. Strange returns the Eye, which Wong calls an Infinity Stone, to Kamar-Taj, and then takes up residence in the New York Sanctum to continue his studies. In a mid-credits scene, Strange agrees to help Thor, who has brought his brother Loki to Earth to search for their father Odin. In a post-credits scene, Mordo visits Pangborn and steals the energy he uses to walk, stating that Earth has “too many sorcerers”.

REVIEW:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has reached the point now to where they can explore some of the lesser known, but still major characters. This is why we are getting films such as Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and this one, Doctor Strange. It is a risky move with this guy, especially with the use of mysticism, but if anyone cane make it work, it is Marvel. Let’s see how they did, shall we?

What is this about?

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilising a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What did I like?

Visuals. You’ve seen the trailers and advertisements for this film, I’m sure, so I don’t really need to tell you that this film is something that can best be described as Inception on acid. Doctor Strange, much like Thor was, is not an easy character to bring to life, especially when you  start trying to portray his powers. Throw in others who have powers that may or may nor be on another level from his and your mind is blown! This is just something that has to be seen!

Strange things. When casting Dr. Strange, the first person I thought of was Robert Downey, Jr., but the problem with that choice is he’s already playing Iron Man (strangely enough there are man similarities between Tony Stark and Stephen Strange, starting with their choice of facial hair). Upon hearing Benedict Cumberbatch was cast, I was skeptical as to how he would pull it off. Not because he’s a bad actor, but because this seemed to be a bit beneath him. As it turns out, this is as perfect a role for him as Sherlock. Cumberbatch brings the cockiness needed, while also being he defeated student who is learning everything he can. I look forward to seeing much more from him in this role.

So, that’s the connection! For a Marvel film, there is about as much mention of the other Marvel properties as there are in the Netflix shows, which I actually appreciated. There is one mention of the Avengers that I remember and that was it. We don’t need to be beaten over the head with constant reminders. A few Easter eggs are nice here and there, but everything has its limit. By holding off on the MCU stuff, the scene at the beginning of the credits is much more effective as it ties him into the universe and sets up one of the next Marvel films (I won’t spoil which one).

What didn’t I like?

Is this love? It seems as if one can’t enjoy a superhero movie without the token love story, whether it fits or not. In this case, it does not. In the film’s defense, this isn’t truly a love story, as much as it is an attempt to put two people who have history and similar interests together just because. Rachel McAdams is a gorgeous woman, but I don’t think the audience would be missing much had her scenes been reduced.

Villain. If there is one weakness in these Marvel films, it seems to be the villains. Other than Loki, none of them have been memorable, let alone a threat. I know what you’re going to say….Zemo was a threat in Captain America: Civil War and Thanos is lurking out there. With Zemo, sure he was effective, but who remembers anything about the guy? Thanos’ time is coming soon…VERY soon. You can add Dormmamu and his minion Kaecilius to the list of ineffective villains. We are never really made clear of their intentions, other than Dormmamu wants to escape the Dark Dimensiom and send the Earth back there, but why?!? I need some motivation for why you are trying to destroy existence!

Whitewashing. Much has been said about the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. For me, not being Asian, it isn’t a big deal, but I can imagine how difficult it is to accept the change. I’m not going to go into some long diatribe about this, but I do feel as if the audience deserved at least a snippet of the Ancient One as an old Asian guy. The film makes a point about how his form is fluid, so who’s to say he needs to look like a creepy, bald white woman?

Final verdict on Doctor Strange? A solid introduction to a lesser-known character. The film really shines when it comes to the visuals. Cumberbatch, sporting an American accent that he doesn’t quite seem comfortable with, seems to be having fun with the character which really sells it to the audience. There are a few minor issues here and there, but they aren’t anything that cannot be overcome. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Go check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Batman: The Killing Joke

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Barbara Gordon as Batgirl fails to stop a robbery, but manages to stop one fleeing criminal with help from Batman. Unknown to Batgirl, the robbers’ leader Paris Franz develops a dangerous obsession with Batgirl. As Batgirl starts receiving messages from Franz, Batman shares his concerns that she is not taking the situation seriously. After Franz tricks Batgirl into finding his uncle’s dead body, Batman becomes even more concerned about Batgirl’s safety and takes her off the case. Outraged, Batgirl starts attacking Batman both verbally and physically. She eventually subdues him, shares a kiss with him, and they have sex. The next night, Batgirl tries to apologize to Batman, but he is ambushed by Franz and his men prompting Batgirl to go to his aid. When she arrives, she fights Franz and beats him, but relents from killing him. Realizing Batman was right, Batgirl retires from crime-fighting.

Sometime later, Batman investigates a murder scene with Detective Harvey Bullock and concludes that Joker, currently held at Arkham Asylum, might be behind the crime. He goes to Arkham Asylum to talk to him, only to discover that he had escaped. He then learns that Joker attacked Barbara and her father Commissioner James Gordon, shooting and permanently paralyzing Barbara in front of Gordon before kidnapping the latter. Joker takes Gordon to an amusement park and subjects him to torture, showing him photos he took of Barbara after shooting her.

While the present-day story progresses, flashbacks are used to explain Joker’s origins. It is revealed that he was an engineer who quit his job at a chemical company to become a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperately trying to support his pregnant wife Jeannie, he agrees to guide two criminals through his former workplace at the chemical plant in order to rob a card company next door. In turn, the criminals tell him that he has to use the Red Hood’s mask and caped costume, intending to frame him. During the planning, the police inform him that Jeannie and her baby both died in a household accident. Grief-stricken, the engineer tries to withdraw from the plan, but the criminals talk him into keeping his commitment to them.

At the plant, the criminals have him don the red mask and cape. Once inside, they run into security personnel, and a shootout occurs. The criminals are gunned down and the engineer is confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance. Terrified, the engineer trips and falls into the chemical plant’s waste pound, managing to escape Batman in the process, and is swept through a pipe leading to the outside. Once outside, he realizes that the chemicals have permanently bleached his skin chalk-white, stained his lips ruby-red, and dyed his hair bright green. The entire ordeal, combined with Jeannie’s death, drives him into insanity and leads him to become the Joker.

Back in the present day and after many unsuccessful attempts, Batman manages to find Gordon after Joker sends him a clue that leads him to the amusement park. He saves Gordon while the Joker retreats into the funhouse. Despite being tortured, Gordon remains sane and he demands Batman to capture Joker “by the book”. Batman follows Joker through the funhouse as Joker tries to persuade him that the world is just one big joke and thus not worth fighting for. He also states that just one bad day is enough to drive an ordinary man insane, and mocks Batman by correctly guessing that it was one bad day that drove Batman into becoming a vigilante.

Batman eventually subdues the Joker, tells him that Gordon remained sane despite everything he suffered, and concludes that Joker is alone in his madness. He then attempts to reach out to Joker, offering his help in rehabilitation in order to put an end to their everlasting fight, which Batman fears may one day result in their deaths. Joker declines, commenting it is too late for Batman to help. He then says that the situation reminds him of a joke, which he proceeds to tell. Batman starts laughing at the punch line, accompanying Joker’s maniacal laughter as the police arrive. The laughter then stops as the screen fades to black.

In a mid-credits scene, Barbara is in her wheelchair entering a secret room in her apartment. As she turns on the computers, Oracle’s logo appears on the screen

REVIEW:

Batman has been around for years and through that time he has amassed quite a few stories. One that many fans thought would never make it to film, animated or otherwise, is the intensely dark Batman: The Killing Joke. Well, this is set to be released on DVD, but tonight it was in theaters and I had the chance to check it out. Here are my thoughts.

What is this about?

Based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel. As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.

What did I like?

Voices carry. For those of us that grew up with Batman: The Animated Series and the series of cartoons that followed, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill were our Batman and Joker, even though other versions attempted to take their place. Do you remember any of the others who have stepped into these roles? No, and that is why they have such a lasting legacy and were chosen to voice such an important work.

Not for kids. Much has been said about the violent, dark nature of this film. Let me tell you right now, this is most definitely NOT FOR KIDS. There is violence, dark themes, and nary a cheery scene to be found, which is the only reason this film works. I am glad they didn’t water it down to appeal to the 13 and under crowd. I can’t imagine how that would have turned out, other than horrible.

Straight out of the book. For some reason, filmmakers have a really hard time keeping with the source material. They usually make the excuse of “it works better on screen if we change this or that”. This story works so well on so many levels that the filmmakers did very little changing, except for adding a prologue, which I’ll get to shortly. On top of that, they even ripped many of the images direct from the graphic novel itself. Very nice touch! My personal favorite is when the unknown man emerges from the chemicals, takes of the red helmet and begins maniacally laughing. What other way would there be to introduce…THE JOKER?!?

What didn’t I like?

Batgirl. In an attempt to make what happens to Barbara more of a tragedy, the filmmakers decided to give us a little backstory of her as Batgirl the night before. Had this been a Batgirl movie or a Batman and Batgirl story, it would have been great, but this just felt unnecessarily tacked on. I also must mention that they had sex (offscreen). I can’t be the only one who did not feel comfortable with that! In all the Batman/Batgirl stories I’ve read, there has never been any sexual tension between them. This seemed like a substitute Catwoman tale, in my opinion.

Character design. I didn’t hate the character design, but I have a small issue. As I was sitting in the theater tonight, it hit me that this is a more adult animated tale, but the animation reminds me of those geared toward younger crowds. What could be done about this? I don’t really know, to be honest. Just a small point I felt needed to be pointed out.

Length. It’s been a few years since I last read this book, but I know that it has to have had enough material to fill up a 90 minute film (minus that horrible prologue). Maybe I was just having too much fun seeing the comic on the big screen, but I felt as if this could have been about 10-15 minutes longer, giving us a little more time with Conroy and Hamill reprising these characters that we all want to see and hear from them again.

Final verdict on Batman: The Killing Joke. It is a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, there are so many things that just blew me out of the water, faithfulness to the source material, great music, the return of Conroy and Hamill, etc. On the other hand, though, I just can’t get over the Batgirl storyline that was thrown in here. Not only was it bad, but it didn’t accomplish the goal of making us feel something more for her. They would have been better served just letting us use our personal knowledge of the character, rather than whatever this was. *SIGH* So, do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Once you get past the Batgirl stuff, you have a great story that we all thought would never make it past the pages of the graphic novel. For that reason, if for no other, you should give it a shot! Now I can wait for them to start thinking of ways to bring Green Lantern: Darkest Night to the screen!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

Captain America: Civil War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1991 the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up to avoid capture, and when Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.

At the team’s headquarters, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs them that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the Avengers. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because he feels responsible for Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s destruction, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers goes to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the authorities, but all three and T’Challa are arrested.

Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the Berlin facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed super-soldiers are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’s permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff is forced to go into hiding.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and shows this evidence to Wilson, who gives him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware he was secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, blasting off Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, T’Challa grants asylum to Barnes, who chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget that he received from Stark.

REVIEW:

DC has had their turn up to bat, and they got a decent pop fly, but mighty Marvel is strolling up to batting box, surely to hit a home run, right? Pardon the very bad baseball analogy, but there is a baseball game playing in the background as I type this up, so I found it fitting. Captain America: Civil War is a film that many comic book fans have been looking forward to for a long time, myself included, given how compelling the story is in the comics. Fans want to see how it translates to the big screen. Will Marvel’s track record stay intact, or is this the one that breaks them?

What is this about?

With many people fearing the actions of super heroes, the government decides to push for the Hero Registration Act, a law that limits a heroes actions. This results in a division in The Avengers. Iron Man stands with this Act, claiming that their actions must be kept in check otherwise cities will continue to be destroyed, but Captain America feels that saving the world is daring enough and that they cannot rely on the government to protect the world. This escalates into an all-out war between Team Iron Man (Iron Man, Black Panther, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine, and Spiderman) and Team Captain America (Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Sharon Carter, Scarlett Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant Man) while a new villain emerges

What did I like?

Friends forever. Today, Facebook reminded me that I’ve been friends with my best friend 5 yrs today. Obviously, its been much longer than that, but its the sentiment that counts. A man needs his friends. For someone like Steve Rogers, who has outlived everyone he knew, it must be extremely tough. The filmmakers decide to show this by giving the audience a little insight into his relationship with Bucky, which we already know a little about from Captain America: The First Avenger. Seeing Cap, joke around with the guy shows a human side that we don’t see very often. Also, and I wasn’t a fan of this, his other tie to his time, Peggy Carter has an…event…shall we say, happen to her that nearly crushed my black heart!

Black Panther. I could sit here and go on and on about how awesome it is to have Black Panther make his big screen debut, but you’ve seen the trailers. He is a bad ass from those scenes alone. What you see in the film furthers that point. I do want to go a little bit into his character, a suave, smooth, respectable monarch that does not lose his cool and is highly intelligent. My knowledge of Black Panther isn’t as well-versed as others, but from what I saw in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and have read in a few comics, they nailed his personality dead on. Add in the bad ass action we get from him and we can’t forget to mention the costume…WOW! I can’t wait until we get to his movie!

Underoos. We’ve had 5 Spider-Man movies and they have yet to get him right. One franchise made got the Peter Parker side right but threw everything else out the window. The recent franchise got the Spider-Man part, right, but the actor that played him was not likable and there were just numerous other issues with that mess, which was rushed into production solely to keep the rights away from Marvel. Well, a deal was brokered to where Sony keeps the rights, but loans him out to Marvel. It isn’t the best situation, but at least we get Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If his short time on screen is any indication of what we’re going to get in the future, I’m excited. This is the Spider-Man we see in the comics and cartoons, complete with eyes that move (more of a comic thing, but they learned from Deadpool, I would imagine).

What didn’t I like?

Crossbones. It seems that the last few Marvel movies have all started with a small villain fight before the film proper gets going. That’s fine. It is a warm-up of sorts. Here’s the problem with this one, though. Frank Grillo, who I think should be playing the Punisher, was introduced as a character that seemed to be headed for a long term rivalry with Captain America in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, what’s the problem? Well, after all that time building him up in the last film, he doesn’t make it past the first 15 minutes in this one. Making matters worse, Crossbones is somewhat of a major character in the comics…then again, so is Batroc the Leaper.

Put on the mask. In this day and age of “grounded” and “real” interpretations of superheroes and villains, filmmakers pick and choose who keeps their original costume, who gets and updated version, and who just throws the concept out the window. In the case of Helmut Zemo, they threw it out the window. In the comics he messed with a chemical that made him immortal and fused the mask to his face. I was looking for some sort of nod, if nothing else, to this origin, much like they did with Arnim Zola. Instead, there is nothing remotely Zemo about this guy.

Avengers assemble. If I’m not mistaken, this is a Captain America movie, yet it feels more like an Avengers sequel than Avengers: Age of Ultron did, and that one felt more like Iron Man 3 than the real one did. If they wanted to make this an Avengers movie, they should have just done so and given Cap a true close to his trilogy. If I recall reading early on, before this went into production, it was a totally different story (one that featured Crossbones more, too). What is it with studios masquerading sequels for one franchise as another? While I’m on this subject, how is it that what’s going on in Hell’s Kitchen with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and others not come to the Avengers attention? What about all the Inhuman stuff that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are dealing with? Just wondering, since Tony Stark was able to track down Spider-Man, as Peter Parker, mind you!

Final verdict on Captain America: Civil War? Well, it has everything you want in a Captain America movie, action, espionage, someone trying to take down American and take over the world, humor, etc. The scope and magnitude of this film won’t be as immediately felt across the MCU as the last film, but I’m sure something will come of it before the inevitable reunion in Avengers: Infinity War. In the meantime, can we just bask in the how superior these Captain America films have been to most everything else that has been released in theaters? Do you even need to ask if I recommend it? Stop reading and run go see it…multiple times!!!!

5 out of 5 stars

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eighteen months after the destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis from Man of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure. Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has moved in with Lois Lane. Billionaire Bruce Wayne, who has operated in Gotham City as Batman for nearly two decades, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. After learning of Batman’s activities, Superman also views him as a threat, and seeks to stop him via the Daily Planet articles under his disguise.

Wayne learns that weapon-trafficker Anatoli Knyazev has been contacting LexCorp’s mogul Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean (results of Zod’s terraforming attempt), claiming to use it as a “deterrent” against Kryptonians. He also makes side dealings with Finch’s subordinate and demands access to Zod’s body and the Kryptonian scout ship. In the next meeting with Luthor, Finch denies his request.

Wayne attends Luthor’s party at LexCorp, where he meets mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, and retrieves data from the company’s mainframe. The data drive, however, is stolen by Prince, who later returns it to Bruce, due to her inability to decrypt the data. While decrypting the drive at the Batcave, Wayne receives a vision of a post-apocalyptic world, where he leads a group of rebels against Superman. He is snapped out of the vision by a mysterious time traveler, who warns him of Lane’s crucial role in the distant future, and urges him to find “the others”. Wayne later realizes that Luthor is not only experimenting with Kryptonite, but also investigating metahumans. One of them is Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Wayne admits to Alfred Pennyworth that he plans to steal the Kryptonite to weaponize it, should it become necessary to fight Superman. Batman pursues the convoy carrying the Kryptonite from the White Portuguese ship to LexCorp, but Superman intercedes and orders him to cease his activities.

Luthor orchestrates a bombing at a congressional hearing, where Finch is questioning Superman on the validity of his actions. The bomb kills dozens of people, including Finch. Frustrated with failing to save people, Superman goes into self-imposed exile. Batman breaks into LexCorp and steals the Kryptonite, in preparation to battle Superman by building a powerful exoskeleton and creating a Kryptonite grenade launcher and a Kryptonite-tipped spear. Meanwhile, Luthor enters the Kryptonian ship and learns of its functions, as well as recorded alien worlds.

Luthor kidnaps and holds hostage Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. He reveals that he has been sending messages to Batman and Superman to heighten their animosity towards each other. Luthor forces Superman to fight and kill Batman, in exchange for Martha’s life. Superman tries to reason with Batman, but Batman initiates the fight and eventually subdues him. Before Batman can kill Superman with the spear, Superman urges Batman to “save Martha”, whose name is also shared with Wayne’s late mother. Lane arrives and explains the situation. Upon learning of Luthor’s plan, Batman leaves to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts Luthor on the scout ship. Luthor unleashes a monstrous creature made from Zod’s body spliced with Luthor’s DNA. Superman, Batman and Diana join forces to fight the creature, but are outmatched by its ability to absorb energy. Realizing that it is vulnerable to Kryptonite, Superman retrieves the Kryptonite spear and impales the creature, while it stabs him with its bone protrusions, killing Superman.

Luthor is arrested and imprisoned. Facing Batman in prison, he gloats that Superman’s death has made the world vulnerable to powerful alien threats. A memorial is held for Superman in Metropolis. Clark is also declared dead and Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Diana attend a private funeral for him in Smallville. Martha passes an envelope to Lane, which contains an engagement ring from Clark. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Diana that he plans to form a team of metahumans, starting from the ones from Luthor’s files, to protect the world in Superman’s absence. After they leave, a faint heartbeat echoes from Clark’s coffin and the dirt around it begins to levitate

REVIEW:

Let’s get ready to rumble! The fight every comic book fan and superhero nerd has been waiting on is about to go down in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The question on everyone’s mind, though, is with Zack Snyder directing will this be more flash over substance? Also, would it just be better to wait for the “main event” coming next month in Captain America: Civil War?

What is this about?

Following his titanic struggle against General Zod, Metropolis has been razed to the ground and Superman is the most controversial figure in the world. While for many he is still an emblem of hope, a growing number of people consider him a threat to humanity, seeking justice for the chaos he has brought to Earth. As far as Bruce Wayne is concerned, Superman is clearly a danger to society. He fears for the future of the world with such a reckless power left ungoverned, and so he dons his mask and cape to right Superman’s wrongs. The rivalry between them is furious, fueled by bitterness and vengeance, and nothing can dissuade them from waging this war. However, a dark new threat arises in the form of a third man: one who has a power greater than either of them to endanger the world and cause total destruction!

What did I like?

It’s all about the game. Batman has always been a badass, even in his campier days, but in this flick, he takes it to another level. There is a scene near the end of the film where he swoops in and, like a ninja takes out a room of about 12 guys with guns. It is a sight to behold and, those of us that have played the Arkham City franchise of Batman games may recognize that the fighting style is very similar. Whether that was done on purpose or not, I cannot be sure, but I liked it!

Clash of the Titans. Say what you will about Man of Steel, it brought Superman back to the forefront of the DC cinematic universe. A place he should have stayed, but they just couldn’t resist having Batman in there. So, here we go, a fight for supremacy, Superman vs. Batman. I would have preferred this be Christian Bale’s Batman, though, for continuity’s sake. No offense to Ben Affleck, he did perhaps the best Batman we’ve seen since…well, since Kevin Conroy in the animated series. The fight between these two pushes them to their limits, which is what we would expect.

She’s a Wonder. I do not believe Wonder Woman has ever graced the big screen with her presence. We all know of the infamous TV series starring Lynda Carter, her appearance in the Justice League animated series, and various other incarnations, including her own animated film. Word just dropped that her film was moved up to next summer, which is sure to have feminists and fans of the Amazon warrior happy. For me, I’m just glad we finally got to see her. Now, whether or not this is what she should look and act like is a different topic for another section.

What didn’t I like?

Contrast. Batman and Superman are both heroes to their cities and whatnot but it is their methodology which causes them to butt heads often. If you expecting to see that in this film, you will be sadly disappointed. The best way I can put this is that dark needs light and vice versa, but when you have two dark characters they cancel each other out. For this to have truly effective, we needed the Superman we all know, love, and deserve. A character steeped in goodness, truth, and is a beacon for right. Instead, we have a Superman who really isn’t that different from Batman, and that is why during the fight I found myself enjoying it, sure, but not really cheering for either one, because there was no clear side, save for the consequences should one or the other lose.

Riddle me this! Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Justice League cartoon, but when I think of Lex Luthor, I see a cold, calculating, brilliant businessman. That is not what we get here. Before I begin my rant on Lex, it should be known that none of the other films have produced one that is equal to what we got in animated form, including the original Superman franchise. None of those, however, insulted their audience with this version of Lex who might as well have been playing The Riddler, because that is what his mannerisms felt like. I kept expecting him to throw a riddle or two out at any moment. That didn’t happen, so we are left with this crazed, ADHD version of Lex who seems like a kid playing with his inheritance and brilliance. Oh, and don’t get me started on the casting of Jesse Eisenberg. It is well documents that any film with him is automatically starting out in the negative, but apparently the filmmakers could have cast Bryan Cranston, but instead they cast this punk and…ugh…let me stop before I throw my computer across the room.

That Gal. Give credit where it’s due, Gal Gadot put in the work to bulk up for her role as Wonder Woman. It just isn’t enough, as she still looks anorexically thin. I’m sure that I am not the only one that thinks this, but when I envision Wonder Woman, I think of Lucy Lawless during her Xena days. Can’t you just imagine her, or some equivalent, as Wonder Woman?

Anything Marvel can do. By now, everyone knows that this is a) not the sequel Superman deserves and b) is nothing more than a setup for a Justice League movie. Here’s the thing about that, Marvel meticulous took their time setting up The Avengers. It was something that had never been done before. Now everyone is trying to set up their own cinematic universe. Hell, even on television (ironically DC isn’t doing too bad in that department), they’re doing it. For me, I feel as if this is just something being fast tracked because they feel they are behind Marvel and need to play catch up.

Final verdict on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice? There are good and bad parts to this film. First, the additions of Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman work much better than what everyone who initially criticized their casting thought they would. There is a scene where Batman perches on the side of a building and it looks like it is straight off the cover of one of the graphic novels! On the other side of the coin, this is a film that should be fun, with two uber popular superheroes duking it out for superior, but that level of fun never shows. Instead, we get a film that is so dark, it almost makes you want to slit your own wrists! DC really needs to lighten up. I also question the casting of Jeremy Irons as Alfred. He just seemed to not fit. All in all, there are more faults in this film than reasons to watch, but do I recommend it? Reluctantly, yes…it is still a high quality superhero movie. I don’t think I’ll be rushing to see it again, though.

4 out of 5 stars