About TarunaD

Reader of comics, gamer, writer, pungeon master. Long-suffering @komrikmania admin and Beyond's Employee of the Month. For comments, feedback, general ranting, and whatever else you want to talk to me about, hit me up on Twitter: @TarunaD or email: tarunadiyapradana@gmail.com

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.

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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?

Battlefront-Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

The Star Wars Battlefront series (not the EA one) have always been my favourite Star Wars games, even now. That feeling of being one of the rank-and-file soldiers on the ground, fighting tooth and nail to gain ground, it’s amazing and makes you appreciate the common soldiers more. To me, Rogue One is close to an adaptation of that.

Rogue One tells the tale of how the Rebels come into possession of the Death Star plans, resulting in [40-YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT] the destruction of the Empire’s planet-killing superweapon. [40-YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT] A ragtag team of outcasts even by Rebellion standards, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), a key Imperial scientist, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) an intelligence officer in the Rebel forces, Captain Andor’s loyal reprogrammed Imperial droid K2-SO (Alan Tudyk), defecting imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), and Chirrut’s companion-slash-bodyguard with a blaster the size of a Warhammer storm bolter Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) goes rogue (get it?) to steal the Death Star plans and get it to the Rebels before the planet-killer can be used against them.

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About to drop the hottest mixtape this side of the Outer Rim

The first thing that stands out from Rogue One is how it feels…grittier, and not in a bad way. We’re right there with the Rebels in the trenches and with the great chemistry of the cast, being attached to them is no tough feat. The stars of the day were truly the Alliance, the brave beings who laid down their lives in service to the cause.  As their foil, Ben Mendelsohn is Orson Krennic, the director of the Empire’s advanced weapons research division, along with Guy Henry, with the help of CG to bring back the late, great Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin, and a special appearance by Darth Vader.

Without giving out too much of the plot, Rogue One manages to fit snugly in the canon etablished by the Original Trilogy without contradicting (to my knowledge) anything that isn’t already made non-canon. In its execution, the plot does have its cliches, but given the amazing chemistry of the ragtag band of Rebels and the great interaction between them, I don’t much mind. Emotionally, this movie hits all the beats. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll drop your jaw in amazement, this movie has everything. Even when most of us know what’ll happen in the end, it still doesn’t help when the feels train hits. And it hits hard.

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Trooper squad goals

For all the fanboys, this movie is LOADED with easter eggs. From Dejarik tables, references to classic lines, to little offhand mentions of canon characters from other media, it’s fanservice central up in here. They even pulled the “May the force of others be with you” line from the early 1974 rough drafts. Even the set designs echo a lot of the design cues from the Original Trilogy and some shots feel like they were lifted from the Original Trilogy, making it feel old yet new at the same time. As I’ve said and I’ll say it again, someone needs to line up all the Imperial architects out back and shoot them. Just about everything they build is a workplace accident waiting to happen. But damn if they don’t look cool!

That said, all the sameness, while I’m not complaining, would probably rub some people the wrong way. And I can’t help but feel K2-SO is like HK-47-lite, but maybe that’s just me being bitter. K2, along with Chirrut and Baze’s banter still stole the show for me.

Bottom line, Rogue One is just as it’s advertised, a Star Wars story. While it’s not a standard Star Wars movie,  it’s fun, it’s heartwrenching, and by god, it’s awesome. Any opportunity to explore the galaxy far, far away is one that’s always welcomed to me.

Putting the Ash in Slash-Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 ‘Ashy Slashy’ Review

 

Welcome to the madhouse that is AvED’s episode 8. After Ash’s slow spiral into madness in last week’s psychological horror of an episode, ‘Ashy Slashy’ returns to usual form, though with a darker bent.

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As we find the Ghostbeaters preparing to assault the mental hospital where Ash is being brainwashed, the body count starts to mount as Sheriff Emery and Lacey meet their gruesome, heartbreaking ends.

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Watch out, he’s a biter

The highlight of this episode is again Bruce Campbell, going almost full-on slasher villain as a brainwashed Ash. With way less quips and more ominous appearances, it’s almost enough to put even Jason Voorhees on notice.

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Heeeeeere’s Ashy!

Puppet Ash also makes another hilarious appearance, this time tangling with Kelly in a Woman vs Puppet battle for the ages. The banter between Pablo and Ruby in this episode is also something of note. For the record, I’d visit Pablito’s Fish and Chips.

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The Jefe has never been so scary

The ending has to be one of the worst cases of emotional whiplash in the show so far. After Ash manages to play EVERYONE for fools, the gang manages to finish off Baal…let’s just say Pablito’s Fish and Chips won’t be a reality anymore.

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It’s an eye-opener

This season has been all about exploring the sides of Ash we never see before, and this is no exception. We finally get to see Ash being smart, after the sporadic flashes of brilliance all throughout his appearances. With two more episodes, I hope AvED can get even better.

Madhouse-Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 ‘Delusion’ Review

Once again, AvED shows why it’s one of the best shows currently airing on television, period. The growth of the series from pure guts n’ gags to a show with a well-developed cast, amazing character dynamics, and riveting storylines while keeping the franchise’s signature feel intact is really something to behold. This latest episode is one of its most ambitious yet.

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This might come as a shock for some of you

After the predicament Ash found himself in last week, he wakes up as a patient in a mental hospital. A doctor who looks suspiciously like Baal explains that he’d been commited there after the cabin incident thirty years ago and that the whole of Evil Dead was something his imagination cooked up to deal with the murders.

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Finger counting taken to its extreme

The episode that ensued is quite possibly the darkest Evil Dead has gone in its whole lifetime, eschewing most of its tried-and-true formula of slapstick, gore, and one-liners for a more psychological horror, following Ash’s journey in this weird insane asylum that Baal’s put him in. Or did he?

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He’s like Ash. Only with a hand up his ass

This outing seems to give quite the spotlight to Bruce Campbell and Dana DeLorenzo, giving Ash and ‘Kelly’ more room to flex their dramatic chops to amazing results. Newcomers to Campbell’s body of work may be surprised at the range he displays here, with Ash going from full-on ‘Ash’ all the way down to resigned, broken down Ash, which came as quite a surprise to me. Puppet Ash also came out as the breakout character of the episode, being annoying enough to make you want to kick him across the room but charmingly funny enough to make you want to keep him.

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Apparently they finally set him strait

While insane asylum episodes are hardly new territory, AvED’s take does it well and throws in just enough twists to keep you guessing about things in the insane asylum, if not necessarily the nature of Ash’s supposed delusions itself. That said, AvED travels outside its comfort zone in this episode and finds its mark well.

Home Invasion-Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 ‘Trapped Inside’ Review

We’re past the halfway point of AvED’s sophomore season and things don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Following right up from last week’s brouhaha in the police station, our heroes hole up back at Casa Williams to deal with Pablo’s new…development. Elsewhere, desperate after the quick divorce last week, Sheriff Emery starts getting devil whispers from Baal himself, urging him to take action against Ash and his crew.

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Shouldn’t have had that Necronomicon for dinner

For a thirty-minute episode, this episode manages to juggle three plotlines like a circus clown without it ever feeling like they were shoved in without care. At the front of the house, Linda and Kelly are holding the fort against the angry mob roused by Emery, plus a little help from our friendly demon Baal.

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Upstairs, Ruby and Pablo are doing their best to find the spell that can banish Baal back from where he came from…on Pablo’s body. And they have to do this before Pablo gets turned into a walking Necronomicon. No pressure, right?

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She’s baaaaack!

A little further down the hall, Ash faces a blast from the past. Cheryl, his dearly departed sister is brought back as a Deadite and the requisite action set piece of the episode is as much emotional as it is intense.

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Heartwrenching. Literally AND figuratively

This episode, in one word, is a rollercoaster. An intense ride from top to bottom, with lots of laughs, scares, pure d’aww moments, and maybe a few tears along the way. Of particular highlights were Kelly psyching Pablo up with the laugh-out-loud callback to the vagina line several episodes back and of course, Ash’s whole ordeal with Cheryl. Emotionally, this might be one of the strongest sequences throughout the series and Cheryl convinces us once again why she’s one of the most dangerous Deadites in the franchise.

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This season’s Primitive Screwheads moment?

All this combined, plus the references to the classic movies is more than enough to convince me that this is the strongest episode of the season so far, and a powerful proof that Evil Dead isn’t just blood, guts, and slapstick. While it’s true that those are its major selling points, it’s only through character development sneakily put in throughout the show’s run that makes us care for the cast this much in times of trouble. If this is the direction Evil Dead is taking going forward, then I’m in for the ride.