Freudian Delight — The Depiction of Narcissism in Netflix’s Altered Carbon

Sigmund Freud (if you don’t already know who he is, Google is more than capable of telling you all about the Austrian pioneer of psychoanalysis) divides the basic drives of human beings into two things: Sex and aggression. In the show Altered Carbon, the same two things occur in both a crazy amount and a crazy level. One of the things I like about Altered Carbon (though this could easily be a turn-off for some people) was that it isn’t shy about showing the many sexual intercourses and nude scenes along with the various-levels of-fucked-up violent scenes throughout the course of its 10-episode season. There were many times when I was thinking to myself, “Oh, no, they wouldn’t go there,” and they went there.

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Nudity and violence are the norm.

It all ties back to one of the main existential questions that ties the show together: What would mankind be if they are stripped from their mortality?

To go back to Freud’s theory of basic human drives, the drive for sex, or for life (also called Eros after the Greek god of sexual attraction), could be divided into four basic shapes. The most basic drive, the one everyone has and starts during infancy, is narcissism. Freud defines narcissism as the “libidinal complement to the egoism of the instinct of self-preservation”. In simpler terms, narcissism is the drive for sex, love, and passion directed exclusively towards oneself.

Freud argues that a level of self-love in adulthood is healthy—which he further elaborates in his concept of secondary narcissism—but what happens if the narcissism within us grow along the possession of the status of near-immortality? Would immortality not simply magnify what we already have and twist it into something that could possibly go beyond human?

In Altered Carbon, the most glaring example of this is the character of Laurens Bancroft (played by James Purefoy), who is an all-powerful, ultra-rich man at the top of the food chain in the Altered Carbon universe. Bancroft calls on Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) to investigate his own murder. With 48 hours missing from his memory per being killed before his data backup was completed, Bancroft believes that, although all the evidence seems to point there, he could not have possibly killed himself. “There are lines I am very careful not to cross,” he says to Kovacs. “And even if I did kill myself, I’d not have bungled it in such a fashion.”

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James Purefoy portrays Laurens Bancroft, the main subject of this article’s analysis.

Spoiler alert, he really did kill himself.

The character’s narcissism is emphasized by his conviction of his own personal code of conduct, believing that no matter what happens, he would never cross them. As revealed in the final episodes of Altered Carbon’s first season, Bancroft was encouraged by drugs and circumstances to make him go over the edge and break his own codes, RD’ing (that’s real death for you, as in destroying people’s stacks and thus rendering them impossible to be brought back) a prostitute and driving another one to suicide.

Whether or not the man’s actions, as they were, were validly identified as being his decision is debatable, but one thing is for certain. It hurt his narcissism so much that he botched his DHF’s backup sequence to make himself forget that, despite how much he holds himself in high regard, he eventually cracked. In this sense, Bancroft is reminded that he is human—not the demi-deity he thinks himself being. His suicide was, ultimately, an act of self-preservation, because he could not live with the knowledge of his own actions.

Bancroft’s trait of apparent narcissism is further portrayed by how he treats his children. The man is over 360 years old—over the years, he’s sired 21 children with his wife, Miriam, who’s quite protective of their children. Bancroft, though himself unopposed to indulgence of the weirdest kinds that only the richest could afford, choose to control his children by linking their inheritance with his own status. If he dies, his children get nothing of his unthinkable amount of wealth. In addition to that, he keeps his children in young sleeves to keep them from having the visual authority that an older sleeve would inevitably hold over others. It was almost as if he was saying that he’s the best—nobody, including his children, could or should topple him off his throne and replace him.

It seems like Bancroft is incapable of projecting the sex drive outwards—a state of maturity that’s Freud’s assigned meaning of love. Even though, at one point, he does say that loving his wife for 100 years is experienced as “something close to veneration”. This veneration, ultimately, doesn’t extend to regular schedule of sexual intercourse; Bancroft instead chooses to go to brothels to satisfy his sex drive by fucking and choking prostitutes to sleeve death. Here, Bancroft shows both expression of Eros and Thanatos in the sex drive manifestation of sadism—concepts that often overlap each other in Freudian psychology. More on Thanatos later.

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One of the high-end recreational sites that Laurens Bancroft frequents.

When confronted by Kovacs, “So you’re saying you love her too much to fuck her?”, Bancroft responds by saying, “I love her too much to let you fuck her.” Ultimately, perhaps the reason why he “loves” Miriam is because having her provides him with the pride and self-satisfaction he craves—which traces back to his narcissistic tendencies.

Furthermore, his reluctance to have sexual intercourse with his wife might speak more about his narcissism. The reason why he wouldn’t have sex with Miriam might well be because, unconsciously, he thinks himself unworthy of her, and thus wishes to commit acts of (sexual) violence on her. (“Veneration”, anyone?) One of Freud’s ego defense mechanisms, displacement, might be at play here. Displacement is an expression of a repressed thought or behavior, done when an individual carries out an unacceptable act onto someone or something that is not the real subject of that act. Instead of committing violent sex on Miriam, Bancroft unleashes that side of him onto prostitutes—who, conveniently, share similar physical attributes as his wife.

Bancroft’s narcissism is not, by all means, possessed only by the character. The Meths (short for Methuselah, the name for the crème de la crème of the Altered Carbon rich society) seem to display the same affinity for the trait, even building their homes high above earth “to avoid looking on the ground”, to quote Detective Ortega. The symbolism of the Meths’ dwelling is glaring; they hold themselves in such high regard that living on earth, breathing the same air with the less wealthy population is simply not an option. They are, quite literally, on top of the world.

There are other manifestations of the Freudian sex drive, as well as another drive called aggression. In the next posts of the series, I will be examining those aspects closer from various fictional universes.

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Holy Sh*t, I Just Met Boba Fett — Highlights from Daniel Logan: Spotlight Panel on Indonesia Comic Con 2017

Disclaimer: This article is written based on memory and no recorded material, hence all the verbatim you read is a result of paraphrasing. Daniel, if you’re reading this, feel free to contact us and have us change it if you so wish.

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Boba Fett came to Indonesia Comic Con this year. Yes, Daniel Logan, who portrayed Fett’s younger incarnation in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, is one of the guests invited to the convention this year after being called from his shoot in the Philippines (on a movie with Jason David Frank, no less). Earlier today, Daniel Logan shared his stories about his life during and after Star Wars in his panel.

Auditioning for the role of Boba Fett at the age of thirteen—Fett, in the story, is eight—Daniel had to lie in the audition process. “I was with my mother and grandmother,” he said, “but they were like, ‘You can’t come in.’ So I went into the lobby and the audition alone.

“They didn’t have a script for us back then. I had no lines to say, so I pretty much had to sell myself to them.”

They asked him, Daniel said, if he had any special talents. “There was this spear-like thing in New Zealand called a taiaha, used in—this.” He proceeded to demonstrate his version of a New Zealandish haka, drawing laughter from the audience as he added, “Yeah, that’s us New Zealanders. We’re crazy.”

He told the story of how he proceeded to pretend like he knew what it was all about after asking (and knowing, gleefully) that he wouldn’t get “a stick or a broom” in exchange for the taiaha. “It was a fancy hotel. They don’t just hand you those when you ask.”

That was the first lie. Then, they asked him what he would do with a lightsaber. Daniel, who had never seen any Star Wars film when he’d auditioned, did what he’d done before—pretend and imagine and act, like the excited boy he was.

Listening to Daniel tell all these stories (driving a golf cart with Ewan McGregor in full Jedi robes at five in the morning? Why not), it wasn’t hard to imagine how he was as a young boy on the set on Star Wars. He still had a lot of that boyish energy, walking and galloping all over the stage during the course of the panel, which he closed by sitting at the edge of the stage as he answered the question of a young boy.

Witty, lighthearted stories aside, Daniel Logan certainly had a lot of passion in him. He talked about how he’d dropped out of school at the age of 17, as he got busier and busier doing his jobs, but encouraged other children not to do the same. He emphasized the importance of education and doing the things that you love.

“When you get to that age, you know, twenties, thirties, forties… I think working hard from a young age is the best thing to do. If you don’t get to learning and doing what you love from now, it only gets harder.”

Daniel also dished on what it felt like to get directions from George Lucas himself (pretty much the god of Star Wars) and having his green card approved in less than a day after he wrote to Lucas and Ewan McGregor. “You know, it’s crazy. It usually takes six months for it to be approved, and to have it done like that—it was a record. Nobody had ever had that before.”

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It’s clear, from the panel, that Daniel Logan is still as passionate about Star Wars and Boba Fett as he was years ago. If anything, the passion had only grown; when asked if he would return in a rumored Boba Fett film, he said, “I haven’t heard anything about it. But if they call me to do it, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. I’ll do it for free.”

Amen to that, Daniel. Here’s to hoping to see you soon on the big screens as Boba Fett, continuing your legacy.

You can find Daniel Logan on Twitter, @Daniel_Logan, and on Instagram, @instadaniellogan. He posts a lot of Boba-related stuff and much more interesting things in his life, so you wouldn’t wanna miss out. You know, in case that Boba movie is gonna be done for real.

The Heart of a Nation — An Anthropoid Review

In 1942, a group of Czechoslovak soldiers carried out Operation Anthropoid, an attempt to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, upon the orders of the Czechoslovak government in exile. Heydrich, being one of the most powerful men within the Nazi ranks, was also known as the Butcher of Prague—a moniker earned for his merciless reign of discipline in the city of the occupied country. The operation succeeded, after Heydrich was wounded and died in the hospital a few days afterwards. The retaliation from the German forces were severe; entire villages and groups of people massacred for the life of the man behind the Final Solution.

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Anthropoid tells the story of the assassination through the eyes of the two key figures behind the operation, Jozef Gabčík (played by Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubiš (played by Jamie Dornan). Sean Ellis (Metro Manila) wrote and directed, having been wrestling with the subject for twelve years before he’d finally finished the script. The film remained, however, a means for art and entertainment, not intended to portray the events in utmost accuracy. Though the general plot leading up to the assassination prevailed, certain characters and events have been modified to better fit the medium.

Anthropoid is certainly an emotional work. From ts very first scenethat of Jozef and Jan parachuting in the middle of the night amidst a snowy forest outside of Prague—to the very last, the film is unmistakably pregnant with emotion.

I’ll be honest here. As a big history buff myself, I suppose I expected some sort of “accurate” timeline, a real formulated events surrounding the operation. Sean Ellis defied my expectations. He did what many other historical films aimed for but often missed: He focused on the characters’ emotional journey—how they deal with the immense pressure of the order and how they somehow had to find a way to succeed in this near-impossible mission—and he did it in such a way that it didn’t feel overly romanticized.

The conflicts felt all too real; Jozef and Jan facing doubts and divisions in the Czechoslovak resistance movements, maneuvering in a city jammed to the teeth with Nazi officers, and their own personal struggle of having such a weight on their shoulders. All this is wrapped in sepia tones—all browns and faded greys—that push you deeper into the headspace of 1940’s Prague. I can’t tell you enough how accomplished Sean Ellis is in replicating the Prague of old. Ellis, already writing and directing the project, is also his own director of photography; during the twelve years of his process, he’d assembled many pictures of Prague at the time and gave it to his CG team to recreate.

 

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Sean Ellis recreated 1940’s Prague through extensive research and CG help.

The results? A beautiful, almost picturesque reincarnation of the city under occupation. Consistent to its initial vision, Anthropoid’s visual spectacle is that of simplicity and grounded landscapes. It was the story of the people setting the events in motion, closer to the ground as they were and not the grander sort of scheme often depicted in various historical adaptations. It was the story of the people indeed, and the cinematography certainly is an important element of the storytelling.

With an angle like that, the cast could make or break the project. Luckily, they found an enormous talent and leader in Cillian Murphy, whose acting chops needn’t be questioned anymore. He’s certainly the star of the show for me. Murphy, whose Jozef juxtaposes quiet determination and pain and conflict throughout the film, hits home every point that his character is meant to portray in the bigger scale of the story—and more.

Jamie Dornan starred alongside as Jan, the other side of the coin. More optimistic and uncertain, more idealistic and desperate than Jozef, Dornan delivered an exceptional performance and drove my sympathy level right up for both his character and Murphy’s.

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Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan star as Josef and Jan, the Czechoslovak soldiers tasked with Operation Anthropoid.

The relationship between these two men, these two soldiers tasked with what may well be a suicide mission, really is the center of the piece. I found myself being drifted away from my initial thoughts of historical trivia (What year was this mission conceived in? Who gave the order? What’s the impact to the immediate developments of the European theatre?) and into the vast emotional landscape painted beautifully by the actors. Anthropoid is certainly a bleak film, yes, but it wasn’t without its depths and diversity. The humor and levity provided by Dornan’s character and his love interest, Marie (played by Charlotte Le Bon), when contrasted by the more hopeless romance of Murphy’s Jan and Lenka (played by Czech native Anna Geislerová) and the professional burdens of their mission, proved a powerful combination to bring out the full gravity of the events.

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Josef (Murphy) and Lenka (Geislerová) on the streets of Prague.

Regarding the music, Guy Farley and Robin Foster’s collaborative feat is relatively unobtrusive. The melodies, quiet and unassuming more often than not, sweep the moments up in the right places without being too distracting from the center of the picture—that is, the actors’ performance. There is probably one particular moment in the film, overshadowed by an earlier one also close to the end, that captured me emotionally and musically poignant. A simple, ethereal, melancholy piano theme that begins in a very simplistic manner and gently gives way to an orchestra of strings accompanied the emotional peak of the whole movie. Now, to give it away here would be a massive spoiler if and when you decide to give the film a watch, but if you want to hear it, a quick search on YouTube with the keywords “The Crypt – Robin Foster” would suffice. Watch the movie before or after listening; the effect of the music and the scene it’s used in made me a sobbing mess until even the credits started rolling.

All in all, Anthropoid is a simplistic yet emotional take on one of the pivotal moments in the history of the Second World War. I recommend you, history buff or not, to find it and watch it at home, preferably at night and during cold weather, buried under blankets with tissues at the ready, and prepare for the emotional deluge you’re about to find yourself immersed in.

A Spider-Fan’s Spider-Man Homecoming Rant


Lifelong Spider-Fan that I am, Civil War’s Spidey appearance easily became one of the movie’s highlight’s for me. Just seeing him quip at the heroes on both sides and showcasing his not-inconsiderable strength is a treat enough, and now we get a new Spider-Man movie? After the ambitious-yet-messy The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the prospect of a(nother) reboot is both salivating and cause to worry.

 

Fortunately, after watching Spider-Man Homecoming, those worries are now long-gone. The tone director Jon Watts went for is a newbie Spidey who still needs to learn a lot about the job, resulting in an occasionally stupid and klutzy hero not unlike Batman: Earth One. It’s frustrating at times, but through this we get to learn along with Spidey about how to be a hero. Most of you will be refreshed in knowing that Uncle Ben isn’t shown dying in this one, saving him from the Thomas and Martha Wayne curse of dying in every reboot.


My biggest worry going in, that the movie would turn into Iron Man and His Amazing Friend, fortunately went unrealized. Tony Stark’s screentime is limited, but he adds to the movie by providing a ‘hurdle’ for Peter to surpass in the journey to become a hero.

The Swingtime Club


The cast is great all-around, with the Midtown High kids lending the movie a very teen-movie feel to the school sequences. Jacob Batalon’s Ned is Ganke in all but name, playing off really well with Tom Holland’s Peter as believeable best friends. Being so used to the jock Flash, Tony Revolori’s ‘cyberbully’ Flash is still an asshole, albeit a different kind. For those familiar with the anime/manga Doraemon, this Flash is less Giant, more Suneo. Still, he’s the guy you’ll love to hate. Zendaya’s Michelle is the movie’s Allison Reynolds, a mysterious loner with a sharp tongue who provides more than a few gags. Laura Harrier’s Liz, while she’s not the most memorable of the bunch, still plays well with the other kids. May is still the loving aunt we all know and love, though she’s much more spirited this time around and has fun interactions with Pete and Ned. Happy Hogan unexpectedly ends up being a potential showstealer in his role as Peter’s ever-exasperated minder.

He’s gotta be good. He’s been a Birdman before


In terms of bad guy quality, Homecoming is one of MCU’s best. Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is far from the one-dimensional disposable MCU villain that we’ve unfortunately seen all too often, and is one of the movie’s highlights. Michael Mando, who some of you might know as Far Cry 3’s Vaas almost steals the show in his limited screentime as another Spider-Rogue, and I hope he’ll be given more to do in the future. Donald Glover is entertaining as hell in his role as another player in the Spider-mythology, especially his one standout scene. And most shocking of all, the Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine as Herman Schultz) is somewhat more competent compared to the punchline he’s been made of in recent comics.

Setting this movie in a high school setting puts emphasis on the duality between Peter Parker and Spider-Man, showing his struggles in juggling between social life, school, and Spidering in a new light. This duality and Peter proving himself to be the hero that he could be is a major, timeless theme that’s true to the core of Spider-Man.

An Amazing Fantasy indeed


Spider-Fans with eagle eyes will have a field day with the amount of easter eggs and homages to classic moments and even some iconic shots of the Wallcrawler from his extensive comics history. While I wouldn’t say that Homecoming is 100% comics-accurate, it honors the spirit of Spider-Man in its sort-of reinvention, like another update on the Spider-myth a la Ultimate Spider-Man, with more than a few influences from classic teen movies and modern superhero movie sensibilities.

While it is by no means a perfect movie with some bits feeling a little draggy and a little anticlimactic though unconventional final act, Spider-Man Homecoming is still an amazing movie that spectacularly heralds the arrival of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the MCU, hopefully being the first in a web of great movies in the future.

A Sense of Awe — A Musing of Wonder Woman

 

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Let me just say this and say this once:

DC FINALLY DROPS A HELLA GOOD MOVIE, Y’ALL.

Alright, the sentence above is completely subject to argument, as many would passionately argue that DC has done plenty of good movies before. But when we’re talking about the DC Extended Universe, let’s face it, the results have been less than satisfactory. While I personally harbor a strong yet apprehensive affection for the three previous movies, namely Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, I’ve got to admit that I still wanted something more from DC, something bigger and better in every way. (Preferably nothing too grim dark, thank you.)

Wonder Woman answered the call for longing, surpassing each and every expectation I’ve had for this movie in the first place—which, I have to say, was already pretty damn high.

Wonder Woman is a milestone in so many ways. When so many of the superhero adaptations we’re getting nowadays are grim, dark, and bleak in attempt to make them realistic, Wonder Woman chooses to show its realism by veering into the other side of it all: hope and light and goodness. These three things are not immediately visible within the first scenes of the movie, however; after all, the secret to a good storyline is good conflict.

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Diana, accompanied by allies, going to the battlefront.

Taking place during the first World War, the human world is bleak as it can be when Diana (Gal Gadot) first step foot outside of Themyscira after Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a war pilot/spy crash landed off the coast of the island. Having lived in Paradise Island all her life, she has no concept of war and the brutality mankind is capable of save by the stories her mother, Queen Hippolyta, told her. At the beginning of the movie, Diana is very much an idealist who believes, without a shred of doubt, in the general goodness of mankind and of the universe. Diana’s naivety, however, soon is put to a test when she is thrown into a battle even she couldn’t conceive.

Wonder Woman is very much a coming-of-age story, chronicling how Diana of Themyscira from the year 1917 became the Diana Prince, the Wonder Woman we’ve seen in 2015’s Batman v. Superman. The somewhat juvenile character of Diana in the beginning of the movie goes through the first of the many trials she was to face through the years, from a girl who grew up in the company of warrior women in the most serene place imaginable to a woman of her own woes and wiles while still maintaining a sense of positivity about the world around her, even after seeing what she’d seen in battle.

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Diana and Steve in London.

While the movies we’ve seen so far pretty much remained grimdark all the way to the end with scarce chances of light, the way the various conflicts and events in Wonder Woman are handled and executed is a topic of its own wonder (no pun intended). Again, being set at the end of one of the bloodiest conflicts in history gives Wonder Woman every chance to go grimdark like all the others—but the film perseveres in its delivery of constant light and good-heartedness found even amid the most desolate of conflicts.

The highest kudos must be given to the director of this movie. Having watched a lot of her interviews, I’ve inferred that Patty Jenkins, aside from caring so much about the character and what she represents, knows what she’s doing, and what she’s doing, she does with an amount of passion that translates into her words and onto the screen. It was clear that Wonder Woman was handled with an amount of care only generable by someone who cares not only about representation in media, but also what makes Wonder Woman a truly unique and timeless character, one that a lot of people could look up to and find optimism in their own often dark world.

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A warrior must also be kind at heart.

Generations of comic book writers have written Diana in a lot of ways, but what makes her distinguishable from every other character is what she represents. If Clark Kent represents hope and Bruce Wayne represents justice, then Diana represents truth. Diana is a character who, we can pretty much say, has seen it all: Born and blessed with longevity, Diana (at least the DCEU incarnation) has lived for a hundred years among mankind, and eons before in the company of the Amazons. Despite that, Diana remains true to herself and what she believes in, willing to fight that others couldn’t fight for themselves.

The one thing I have to point out is how much I love the dynamics between Steve Trevor and Diana. And Hippolyta and Diana. And Antiope with Diana. And Etta Candy with Diana and Steve. And Trevor’s crew with…well, everyone, really. Wonder Woman gives us a healthy dose of everything—from the romance between Steve and Diana that’s so subtle and so tear-jerking that you’ll never see it coming once you’ve started shipping them, the heart-wrenchingly beautiful mother-daughter relationship between Hippolyta and Diana, the harsh-yet-sincere mentor-student dynamics with Antiope, and the sustained camaraderie with Etta and Steve’s band of seasoned war veterans, who were so much more than eye candies and provide the story with more depth than it already possesses. The writing of each character is so good and so humane, in a way that’s easily relatable with the human connections we have and encounter every day.

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Diana’s first meeting with Etta Candy.

The use of disposable villain(s) is one of the main problems found in recent superhero movies, but Wonder Woman is not one of them. Despite having multiple villains, Wonder Woman manages to use all of them effectively. Each of them contributes something to the storyline—none of them is there only to look evil and menacing and does absolutely nothing to drive the story forward (I’m not gonna name names, but, go figure).

Regardless of the differing tone and generally everything, Wonder Woman still feels very much like a DC movie. It somehow manages to find itself in the established universe with subtle characteristics DCEU fans would notice, for instance, over-the-top action sequences. These sequences, however, don’t come off as bad extra (as in Qui-Gon-Jinn-cutting-through-a-blast-door-with-a-lightsaber extra), but good extra. Patty Jenkins explains in an interview with AOL Build Series that the slow-motion effect used in many of the scenes is meant to emphasize Diana’s point of view, as she is experiencing the situations of a real battle for the first time. Extra-ness aside, those scenes did look cool—without being too tacky.

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Extra, but good extra.

A review by me is not complete if I don’t go over the music. And let me just tell ya—Rupert Gregson-Williams is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Having been exposed to his work in The Crown and Hacksaw Ridge, Gregson-Williams’ music is one I like to think I was getting familiar with. Listening to his score in Wonder Woman, I could place his style immediately—the melodies and the dynamics, for example—and boy did he outdo himself in this film. Gregson-Williams’ music in Wonder Woman offers dimensions and depths like I haven’t encountered in both titles mentioned above with new themes illustrating Diana’s world and experience in Themyscira and the outside world. What gives me more delight is that Gregson-Williams uses the track introduced in Batman v. Superman that has now become iconic, Is She With You? in the battle sequences, which further provides the movie with many a “HOLY SHIT” moment.

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To be released on June 2, can’t freaking wait.

The one downside of this movie—if there is any—is the lack of nods to the comic book runs. While Wonder Woman manages to incorporate elements of Diana’s origin from both the original and New 52 (nicely and with respect to both, might I add), I couldn’t help but felt like there could have been more of the Amazons and the vast lore of Themyscira to be shown in the movie. The two Amazons featured in the movie, namely Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and General Antiope (Robin Wright), are badass enough as they are, but as a fan of the comic book mythos, of course I wanted to see more of the Amazons.

Small disappointment aside, Wonder Woman is without a single doubt the best DCEU film I have seen so far, as I’m sure many people would agree once they’ve seen it. It is a movie done with complete earnestness and faith and generosity to the original source material without being stiff, providing the audience with twists and turns for it to remain entertaining. It is the first female-led superhero movie in recent memory, and one to feature a truly strong representation of how a woman could be in a world we live in now. It is a movie that makes me cry and laugh and swoon within the span of two hours. It is a movie that gives you everything and, though feeling more than satisfied with what you’ve just been given, it leaves you wanting more.

I’m sorry that I’m not sorry for the length of this post, guys. I’ve been a patient DC fan for years and finally those years of patience have been paid. Wonder Woman is really, honestly, whole-heartedly, that good. Don’t believe me? Go see the movie and decide for yourself.

One Last Time, Bub-Logan Review

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After 17 years, Hugh Jackman’s run on an iconic role finally comes to an end. In the pop culture consciousness, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is up there with the likes of the original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and the late, great Carrie Fisher in being so attached to their roles. And what a sendoff to give our favourite grumpy Canadian, too.
The aptly-titled Logan is just that, a deeply personal story about Logan and his struggles coming to terms with what he’s done in the past and dealing with the demons it summoned that plague him even now. Taking place in a not-so-far future where mutantkind is all but eliminated, Logan, now a limo driver reluctantly takes care of a senile Professor X with the help of Caliban. But when a girl with suspiciously similar powers to him, Logan is forced to go on the run with them to evade the forces who mean to do them harm.
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Pierce and the Reavers, about to drop the hottest album of 2024

As befitting a last outing, Hugh Jackman gave it his all as Logan. Time hasn’t been kind to this old dog, and he’s more jaded, more cynical, and more world-weary than before, so much so you just can’t help but feel bad for him. Patrick Stewart, regretfully also in his last outing as Professor Xavier, is nothing like the Xavier we’ve grown to know and love throughout the years. This Professor X is senile, a bit loopy, and is more like that cheeky old grandpa who refuses to take his medicine and messes with his caretakers all the time. But still, shades of the old Xavier is there somewhere, buried in regret and a whole lotta meds. The showstealer, and arguably the emotional heart of this movie, though, is newcomer Dafne Keen’s Laura, also known as X-23. Despite not speaking for most of the movie, her expression and movements are all that it takes, not to mention that she clicks right into the dynamic between Xavier and Logan as the ‘child’ of the trio.
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The years haven’t been kind

The R-rating of this movie is well-earned. For the first (and sadly last) time, we finally get to see what those claws are capable of doing, in full bloody glory. Slicing up limbs, going through faces and everything in between, it’s all fair game. Which lends well to its intense fight scenes, some of the most brutal and most violent in the X-movies. Despite the abundance of violence, this story is very much an emotional one, ‘family’ being the word of the day. Three people, broken in their own ways, managing to find a way to function together even through the hardest of situations. Logan has equal parts of laughs, tears, and heartwarming moments that all hit really, really well.
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I’d warn him about putting someone’s eye out, but I think that’s what he’s going for

Logan isn’t a superhero movie. It’s not about people in spandex trying to save the world. Instead, it’s a story of Logan, as the title implies, and how he embraces his ‘family’, dysfunctional as they are. And in that, a movie that I dare say is the best X-movie is born. Logan is the perfect sendoff for a truly iconic character.

The Magical and The Bat-Justice League Dark Review

DC hasn’t had too much luck with adapting the occult into other media. With the dearly departed Constantine TV series and the long-rumored Justice League Dark/Dark Universe movie still in development hell, there isn’t much success in adapting the more…magical fare onto the screen. Which is why the Justice League Dark animated movie is a pleasant surprise.

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Alternate title: Batman and His Magical Bitches

Helmed by Jay Oliva, Justice League Dark is the first outing for DC’s titular team (stretching the word a bit) of mystically-inclined heroes (again, stretching). Consisting of John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Swamp Thing, and Etrigan, alongside Batman as the ‘outsider’, the team must face an ancient evil threatening to destroy both life and afterlife alike.

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Say hello to the new Robin

The plot isn’t exactly anything new, but boy, does the cast make it a fun trip. Matt Ryan absolutely steals the show in his return as John Constantine. John is every bit the loveable bastard we’ve grown to love from the show, and his lines are sharp as ever. Jason O’Mara provides the straight man to the rest of the craziness as Batman, Camilla Luddington brings a balance to the team as backwards-talking magician Zatanna, Nicholas Turturro is annoyingly yet endearingly chipper Deadman, Ray Chase plays both man and rhyming demon Jason Blood and Etrigan, and Roger Cross rounds up the main cast as the protector of the Green, Swamp Thing. Jeremy Davies also makes a return as John’s long-suffering friend Ritchie Simpson, and Alfred Molina is Destiny, the main villain of the piece and live-action Skeletor lookalike.

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Toldja

Justice League Dark’s strongest suit is its characters. Most of the main cast play very well off of each other, but what surprised me pleasantly was the inclusion of Batman, who I thought would likely be shoved in there for marketing purposes, to turn out pretty good. He wasn’t overused and hogging the spotlight, but conversely he isn’t just /there/ either. He strikes a good balance between being the perspective ‘everyman’ character and the major source of snark and the occasional grunt. John Constantine is easily the best part about this movie, which is exactly what most of us came here for. If this is the direction for John we’re going for in the CW Seed series, then this is going to be fun.

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Even seeing his name caused Batman to cut himself shaving

Deadman is an unexpected favorite, playing comic relief for most of the movie, and both Etrigan/Blood and Swamp Thing’s albeit brief appearances, they made a sizable impact in the movie. Especially Etrigan and his mad rhyming skills. It’s a bit of a shame Zatanna’s spotlight seems to dim a bit compared to the other team members, but she still proves interesting in her backwards magic and reining John in.

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I’m sure he gets this a lot

What I loved about this movie is that it doesn’t exactly shy away from the dark, the creepy, and the strange. The intro builds the sense of dread well enough, and sets the scene that what they’re facing this time is something else. And one of the more fun set pieces is around the middle, when the thing made of shit comes along. It was wholly unexpected, and to be frank, I loved it. The climax leading up and all the way to the ending was also quite the highlight, and kept me at the edge of my seat along the way.

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And now the literal shit has hit the proverbial fan

While I liked most of the movie, I do have several gripes regarding it. One of the major ones is that John doesn’t even so much as gets near a cigarette during the whole thing. Even the NBC series, when he ostensibly can’t be shown smoking, he’s still shown holding a cigarette and in some of the last episodes he’s seen outright smoking. While this may look like a minor thing to some, cigarettes are part of his iconic look, and not even teasing that feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. Black Orchid and Felix Faust were also sort-of wasted in their roles. While Black Orchid had one great exchange with Batman, Felix Faust felt like just another speedbump in our heroes’ journeys.

With all that said, I enjoyed Justice League Dark very much. A fun, solid ride that did what it set out to do, despite several points of contention. But nothing’s perfect, right?