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.

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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?

Great Bat-Time-Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Review


Holy animated movie, Batman! In Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, the legendary Batman of the 60’s return, voiced of course by Adam West, accompanied by his (no longer teenaged) ward Burt Ward as Robin and Julie Newmar returning as the feline fatale Catwoman in an animated feature that pays respect both to the classic series and adds a dash of modern love for it.

 

It’s the Bat-Climb. IN SPACE.

 

The initial plot is as straightforward as it gets. The main Bat-Rogues team up, and our Dynamic Duo has to stop them. But in its execution, it both pays homage to the classic moments of the series, BANG, BIFF, ZOTs and all, plus a few references to the show’s legacy and clever behind the scenes nods.
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The movie’s second half, still closely related to the first is a veritable love letter to the show while taking a few playful jabs at the current state of Batman. It features a slightly ‘edgier’ Batman and a completely hysterical plot to replace every important person in the city with Batmen. Yes, even the bakers and street sweepers. Not to mention a great nod towards Batman’s habit of disappearing on Gordon.
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It’s raining (Bat)men!

To top it all off, the movie climaxes in a huge showdown between the show’s many Bat-Villains versus an army of Batmen. There’s even a lone Batman doing the Batusi while all of this happens!
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What ever shall we do?

Not just that, the movie provides us with loads and loads of references and nods to other pieces of the Bat-Mythology, like the intro sequence recreating classic Batman comic covers and previous/future Batsuits making a background appearance that will sure get the rise out of any Bat-Fan.
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He’s Batman. Of course he prepared.

Return of the Caped Crusaders delivers all it promised to deliver and more, giving us a chance to reexperience the classic TV show and all the while showing love to the source material at the same time. The only thing missing is Batgirl. But aside from that, it’s the Bat-Movie we need and the Bat-Movie we deserved. Until next time, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

It’s Clobberin’ Time — A Case for Suicide Squad

Okay, let’s start with a list of questions. Why are you reading this article? Those other reviews online don’t satisfy you? Looking for an honest point of view from the eyes of a DC fan? Or are you still weighing whether or not that $4 ticket is going to be worth your time this weekend?

Fret not. It is.

The worldwide premiere of Suicide Squad on August 2, 2016 was met with overwhelming enthusiasm from fans—at least, from where I’m standing. My Twitter feed was overflowing with tweets from the premiere event, and everyone seemed pretty happy about it. Until the critics’ reviews started hitting the Net—then it turned kind of ugly. I personally didn’t want to read any of those, but I couldn’t help but to feel indignant about how a lot of those articles compare Suicide Squad with films that belong with Marvel. Let me say this once and only once: DC is not Marvel. And vice versa. If you’re going to have fun with either without ruining your time with pointless bickering, that’s important to note.

With that aside, if you want to—or even did—pop over to one of those review sites and see the critical reviews, they’re not mistaken. Suicide Squad suffers from “the lack of sufficient plot”, “too many characters all at once”, “talented cast wasted for a hot mess of a story”, and all that. But it’s all from a critic’s point of view.

I can’t stress enough about how these movies weren’t made to please critics. If I’m being completely honest with you all, movie critiquing system these days aren’t totally reliable anyway. I’m not pointing fingers, but I’ve seen a couple titles I personally don’t like—along with many other fans—receive high praises from critics, even though some, if not most, of their problems are along the critical side. I mean, come on, guys. Time to grow the hell up and be your own judge for the things you like.

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#SKWAD

If you’ve stopped reading this article and bought a ticket to see Suicide Squad already, good. If you’re still reading this, let me tell you why this movie is such a triumph even for a critical, opinionated, hard-to-please DC fan like me.

First off, the visuals. Movies are a visual media and to me, if the visual elements punch you in the face with its eye-catchiness, it’s worth something. And boy oh boy; how many movies can you name that shamelessly employ comical visual effects with glowing, neon information text mid-scene? (Y’all nerds can probably name five in ten seconds, so don’t answer that.)

It doesn’t stop right there. Compared to the grimdark, almost slate-grayscale palette of Batman v. Superman, the color palette in Suicide Squad is iridescent and daring in contrast. The colors pop beautifully and are a delight to see, especially since I walked out thinking, “Holy shit, that looks right out of a comic book.” Honestly, go pick up an issue of the recent Suicide Squad comics run; you’ll get a sense of what you’re about to see in the movie.

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Drain the colooorsss.

The main appeal of a team-up movie is, of course, the characters—their dynamics and how they would interact during such a sticky situation. I mean, who wouldn’t love to see Harley Quinn gracing the screen with her craziness, or Deadshot taking on a horde of creatures with only a couple guns while the rest of ‘em watch? All that is good in itself, but the Suicide Squad doesn’t just consist of bad guys—someone’s gotta be there to control the loose cannons. Colonel Rick Flag is there as Amanda Waller’s reluctant right hand man.

I’m sure it’s been going ‘round the Internet, but Harley Quinn really did steal the show. And it ain’t just because she’s the unofficial poster girl of Suicide Squad—Margot Robbie delivers a stellar performance as the Cupid of Crime and Dr. Harleen Quinzel in the flashbacks. If you have the guts to say that no comic book film can deliver actors with great, if not phenomenal, acting skills—throw them out the window. Viola Davis, Will Smith and Jared Leto gave their absolute all as Amanda Waller, Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot, and the Joker, respectively.

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You mean we get to have all these talented people in one movie? Seriously?!

Individual performances aside, the chemistry the cast have as a team really does show on screen. All that crazy regime David Ayer put them through was not in vain.

Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price helms the original score, and though I could tell you that he did a good job on it, the true star of the music department is the soundtrack. As in, the songs you can sing along because they’re such iconic, well-known tunes. I held back my squeals multiple times when the songs start playing because if there’s a definition to a fun soundtrack, this is definitely one of them. Director David Ayer talked about how the soundtrack plays a crucial role to setting the mood of the movie, and he is not mistaken—the music is as fun as the movie itself.

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Getcha jammin’ to it.

As all movies, Suicide Squad isn’t without its flaws. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I’m a sucker for great plot and I can’t lie—there’s a part of me that longs for a better plotting of the story. Cheeky jokes aside, the glaring thing that makes the movie good is Harley Quinn and Deadshot, and for me, a little more spotlight on the other characters couldn’t hurt. While Diablo and Flag each got a nice emotional segway into their characters, I found myself wanting more. Am I selfish? Yes. Am I just thirsty for more of these characters? Probably.

There is also something that doesn’t quite get me all fired up—maybe it’s the execution, the editing, I don’t know. It’s missing a spark that turns me into a complete rabid fangirl, a 120 in the scale of 100. Right now it’s on 110, but I love it when a movie skyrockets my capability to hype up.

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Get crazy hyped. Geddit?

But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The point of Suicide Squad, from the music to the effects to the promos to the cast’s camaraderie, is to have fun. And fun is what you’re gonna get from watching this movie. Close your ears from all the reviews you’ve read or heard—and yes, including this one—and go buy a ticket. See it for yourself with an open mind. You are your own judge, and if you end up loving it, then you can bet all your expensive Hot Topic merchandises that you are far from being the only one.

(Re)Genesis – DC Universe: Rebirth Review

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DC Universe: Rebirth
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Phil Jimenez, Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver, Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Joe Prado, Hi-Fi, Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Legacy. That was the main buzzword being thrown around by Geoff Johns and DC Comics regarding Rebirth, DC’s newest rebootlaunchnumbering initiative. While it may be easy to dismiss this as a half-assed reboot that’ll be undone within the next six years, I think it couldn’t be further from the truth.
WARNING: Full spoilers for DC Universe: Rebirth from here on out.
Legacy is indeed the focal point of everything in this book. When the fallout of Darkseid War created an opening for Pre-Flashpoint Wally West to return, a chain of events is set off to return the ‘erased’ past of Pre-Flashpoint times to this new universe. Along the way, we see characters from DC’s past, present, and future. As befitting the theme, passings of the torches of Atom and Blue Beetle also happen here, along with a revelation regarding the Scarab.
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Now all we need is a Beetle-Booster teamup

What Johns has written here is for all intents and purposes a love letter to the DCU and its rich history, and what I consider ‘killing off’ the New 52 in a cleverly not-so-subtle way. Those little niggling questions that have been lingering on the backs of our heads since the New 52 started will most likely be put to rest here as well. For a writer of his caliber, I wouldn’t expect any less.
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She got Rorschach’ed

The art, in one word, is briliant. The talent put together by DC on this book is nothing short of the best of the best DC Comics could offer today. If I saw a book with even half of these names on the cover, I’d buy them, no questions asked. Stylistically, these artists mesh well together and avoids the jarring effect sudden shifts of art that happen on most books with different artists. Individually, each and every artist puts out some of their best work to these pages, making this book as much a treat for the eyes as it is for your fanboy/girl hearts.
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Classic Joker is back, ready to pull even more boners for a new generation

While this seems to be a book that will cater to longtime fans, we’re caught up quite nicely for the newcomers and lapsed readers so I don’t they’ll be totally lost. Maybe a little bit lost. That said, this is a very enjoyable book and a treat to DC fans, longtime or otherwise. For all you newcomers, welcome. There has been no better time to jump into DC Comics than now. It’s a whole world of possibilities out there, I can’t want to ‘watch’ what happens next.
The New 52 is dead, long live the DC Universe.
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Superhero Fight Night – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Semi-Spoiler Review

2016 is truly the Superhero Fight Year. Not even one week after we were graced by Frank Castle and Matt Murdock duking it out in Daredevil’s second season, the first Big Superhero Fight Movie of the year, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally upon us.

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While lots of snark (including mine) were aimed at the trailers for supposedly giving out too much, as it turns out, it didn’t give away all the plot points. There were some juicy stuff better left out of the trailers that much I admit, but the trailers didn’t ruin it at all when I watched it.

The plot itself boils down to just what you’d expect from a Big Superhero Fight Story. Hero meets hero, disagrees and/or misunderstands each other, fights, bigger villain comes along, forcing them to work together. While the plot is rather basic, the execution if it is where it all matters.

Visually, it’s a very Snyder movie. Cool-ass action shots, slow-mo abuse, but overall, fantastic visuals. The Doomsday fight at the end is a delight to watch, intense from start to finish. That said, the standout action set piece here is a bit toward the end, where Batman takes on an army of goons Arkham games-style. Every beat, every crunch, every broken bone, a fuckawesome fight scene if I’ve ever seen one.

Of course, the title is Batman v Superman and we can’t not have a fight between them, right? The buildup to the fight, all up until the big Son of Krypton vs The Bat of Gotham fight felt pretty nice. They really played up the clashing ideologies and methods, and made it a believeable fight. The fight proper was also quite intense. Definitely not a fight to be disappointed with.

Daredevil ‘WAKE ME UP’ jokes aside, Ben Affleck was good as Batman, though his Bruce Wayne does feel a bit like non-growly voice Batman at times. But he does spend most of the movie in ‘work mode’, so there’s that. Cavill’s Superman feels a little more natural than back in MoS, but most of his scenes with Amy Adams’ Lois really, really turn up the cheese. And I mean, almost cringeworthy scenes of pure cheese. So much cheese I think I saw rats crawling up to the screen right then. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman didn’t get too much screen time, but what little time she has plays up her civilian persona as an almost Catwoman-like sensual seductress. Her warrior persona is where she shines, though. I could almost hear the theater cheer when she showed up in the final fight, and she’s easily one of the more impressive fighters in the scene. Extra kudos goes to Jeremy Irons’ Alfred for being the witty Alfred that helps Bruce at every turn and isn’t afraid of taking shots at him. This is the Alfred we need.

Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is easily one of the better parts of the movie. While his Zuckerberg-lite persona did make me doubt at first, the pure crazy bubbling under his playful surface that rears its head at times and eventually surfaces completely is what got me into his character. Not to mention he got the annoying part nailed down. In about 80% of his scenes, I have this burning need to punch him in his smug face. Like a good heel, he’s someone you’ll love to hate.

I’ve taken a few—okay, a lot of jabs at DC for being grimdark as hell in MoS. This time around, the overall tone is still rather dark and serious, but the light still manages to shine through. This time, the heroes really did shine a light of hope on all of us. And hope seems to be bright for a larger DCEU, as potential Justice Leaguers start getting their early appearances in, easily one of the more memorable scenes. The buildup, while very on the nose, it’s a damn sight more organic than what Amazing Spider-Man did, shoving 3-4 villains in one movie. In just one short scene, pretty much the rest of the JL roster got their DCEU debuts and early spotlights.

But that doesn’t mean all is right in DC-land. The wanton destruction is still there, but they actually managed to confine it into a more manageable few blocks, apparently. But hey, can’t have a superhero fight without levelling a few city blocks. And the other matter is that while Superman has improved leaps and bounds (no pun intended) in his collateral damage control, Batman seems to have gone the other way. If I’m to be fair, Keaton’s Batman did it too, but this Batman still has quite a killer streak. Don’t tell me chaingunning a car to blow it up doesn’t kill the passengers. And I’m sure smushing someone with the Batmobile counts as a kill, too. Just nitpickings, though. While it did impact my enjoyment a little bit, it didn’t completely ruin the movie.

All in all, it’s quite a solid movie. While it still has some pacing issues (being a little slow on the beginning to middle, but it really goes toward the end) and thick on the cheese in some parts, it’s a marked improvement from Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman is the movie that revitalized my hope of having a proper DCEU. Looks like Marvel’s been put on notice that there’s a real contender in town. Here’s hoping that competition breeds excellence and both MCU and DCEU will put out more great movies in the future. Whoever wins, we win.

Bring on Suicide Squad!

EDIT: After the second time around, I think I need to retract a few things and add a few more random observations. There’s this one line that Superman says close to the end of the movie that reeks of cynicism, one trait that I will never associate with Superman. Call me a traditionalist, but I’ve always thought of Superman as the pinnacle of humanity’s  potential, the best of what mankind could be, and that he always sees the best of humanity. To me, Superman is the optimist, and Batman the cynic. Speaking of optimism and cynicism, this movie doesn’t seem to know where to go. While the protagonists are leaning more on the cynic side of the scale, the feeling the movie seems to go for at the end is one of hope, and it felt like a little bit of a contradiction. Not a movie-ruiner, but still, something that doesn’t quite sit well with me.

One good thing I took away from the second watch, though, is that while the big fights still destroy a bunch of city blocks, the movie handwaves it by saying the parts of the city that were most affected were abandoned or almost empty after the work day. I know, it’s like that one Megas XLR episode where there’s a sign that literally says “CONVENIENTLY EMPTY BUILDING”, but no bystanders is no bystanders.

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How convenient.

As much as I’d like to talk about Zack Snyder using a (probably) misinterpreted sequence from Frank Miller’s legendary The Dark Knight Returns as justification for what people have dubbed ‘killer Batman’, this is neither the time nor place for this. I’ll leave this matter alone and judge the movie on what was presented on screen.

With these in mind, I still haven’t changed my stance on how Batman v Superman is a solid movie. One with several glaring flaws that didn’t sit well with me, but still, a solid one.

Comic Picks Of The Week – 15/7/2015

Yes, yes, I’m well aware it’s five days overdue. Things kept me, but I still wanted to get this out. I’ll be better next (this) week, I promise. I intend for this to be a weekly thing for me, so feel free to yell at me on @TarunaD if I haven’t done an article like this by the weekend. And I might need to come up with a wittier title.

Anyways, onward we go!

Captain Britain And The Mighty Defenders #1 (Marvel)

Writer: Al Ewing

Art: Alan Davis (pencils), Mark Farmer (inks), Wil Quintana (colors)

Al Ewing is the writer to watch these days, and this comic is no exception. Somewhat of a spiritual successor of his excellent Captain America & The Mighty Avengers run, now he helms yet another team of underrated heroes in Captain Britain And The Mighty Defenders. Consisting of Mighty Avengers holdovers She-Hulk, White Tiger and the Spider Hero (though with someone new under the mask) joined with new faces Faiza Hussain, now christened Captain Britain, and Kid Rescue, this is yet another excellent comic from names synonymous with quality.

For a miniseries only consisting of two issues, Ewing manages to fit two or three issue’s worth of story into this first issue. And it’s done so masterfully that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. From a quick flashback to the origins of Ho Yinsen as Rescue, introducing Yinsen City’s heroes and the local Thor, to the surprise visitor and the imminent invasion of Yinsen City, the issue’s pacing is nothing to worry about. I imagine fans of Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts run and Dredd alike will be thrilled to find who Yinsen City’s invaders are. And considering Ewing’s history with Dredd, this should be lots of fun.

The art on this book is what I’ve expected from Davis, Farmer, and Quintana. From the dark tones in Yinsen’s flashbacks, the crisp colors of present-day Yinsen City, to Mondo City’s oppressive dark colors, they all stand out. Mondo’s huge tank loaded with guns and Faiza’s abduction are some of the standouts in this book.

All in all, a very enjoyable book, as I’ve come to expect from a creative team of this caliber. Though it only has one more issue in the tank, I’m expecting another great showing from this band of heroes that I hope will get more love after Secret Wars.

 

Godzilla In Hell #1 (IDW)

Writing and Art: James Stokoe

Stokoe is back on a Godzilla book and my God, does he impress. The former Godzilla: Half-Century War creator has come back for another dose of the King of Monsters’ escapades….IN HELL. Yes, as the title suggests, Big G is in hell. Why? Read Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #25 and you’ll have an idea.

But that’s not what I’ll be talking about here. This issue, wholly written, drawn, and colored by Stokoe as he did on Half-Century War, perfectly sets the stage for Godzilla’s adventure in hell. The first circle he takes on? Lust. Thanks to the lack of (coherent) human characters, this issue is almost completely silent except for the excellent ‘title sequence’ in the first third of the book. The rest of the book is Godzilla kicking ass in hell…and it is completely AWESOME.

There’s not much to say for this book, except ‘go and check it out’. Even though there are no recognizable kaiju besides Big G himself, this issue isn’t lacking in action. Beautifully written and drawn, this miniseries has quickly climbed the ranks into my top five Godzilla comic books.

 

Skullkickers #33 (Image)

Writer: Jim Zub

Art: Edwin Huang (pencils), Kevin Ragant (inks), Misty Coats (colors)

Quick primer for those who aren’t lucky enough to taste the greatness that is Skullkickers: Huge bald guy with revolver and grumpy short dwarf (redundant, I know) kick ass in a fantasy setting. That’s basically all you need to know about Skullkickers. Oh, and now they’re fighting this epic battle against mind-controlling…thingies. Long story.

But that’s the beauty of Skullkickers. The plot is so over-the-top, weird, and fun, sometimes you just have to go along with it. Check your brain at the door, because you’ll be in for a /ride/. This issue is basically a great huge bar brawl in a bar that’s the crossroads of the universe. Or genres. Or something. Again, you don’t really have to look into it too much. Just go with it.

By the first half of the issue, the brawl has become, in their words, a cluster-fict. Gangster fiction, sci-fi, robots, even badly-dubbed kung-fu movies join in the fray. From there on out, it’s wall-to-wall fighting, beer pouring, splash screens every now and then, and unicorns. Yes, really.

If you’d like some crazy, balls-to-the-wall action with a healthy dose of humor, look no further than Skullkickers. Issue #100 is coming next! Yes, this is the 33rd issue, but who’s stopping them? I won’t.

PS: If you want to give this great book a try, comic.skullkickers.com has the older issues up for free.

Astro City #25 (Vertigo)

Writer: Kurt Busiek

Art: Jesus Merino (artist), Wendy Broome & Alex Sinclair (color art)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent done-in-one Astro City issues, and this one is no exception. ‘Lucky Girl’ tells the story of Amanda Hammacher, daughter of Astro City’s Hummingbird. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about Astro City’s lore, only having started exploring this world when this new series came about. In 2013 But the beauty of Astro City is that they all feel so familiar and you don’t really have to question who this or that is, leaving you to enjoy the ride.

Here, Busiek tells sort of a coming-of-age story. A girl gets her powers, becomes a hero, and learns to deal with the goods and bads that come with it as she comes to terms that her powers come at a great cost. The story, while it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, is done very well and hits all the beats.

Guest artist Jesus Merino, alongside colorists Wendy Broome and Alex Sinclair provides the excellent art in a rather throwback style that fits Astro City’s look and feel perfectly. Astro City buffs will have one hell of a time seeing all the cameos, I imagine, but I’m perfectly content to see the pretty pictures for now until I figure out who is who.

Bottom line, it’s another very solid issue of Astro City, and a story you can pick up knowing nothing and still close the book satisfied. A nice throwback to an age of brighter superheroics where the lines were clear and we know who’s actually a bad guy. Perfect for a light read, and obviously a must for Astro City fans.