Tag Archives: comic books

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v. SupermanTL;DR version – don’t waste your money. Long version includes spoilers. Lots of spoilers because this movie sucked my brain out one ear and spit shot it across the street.

Okay, ready? This is going to be a long vent.

First, some redeeming features to the movie:

  1. Ben Affleck doesn’t suck at Batman. I’m ambivalent to Batman in general, but Affleck worked for me here.

  2. Gal Godot didn’t suck as Wonder Woman. Then again, she didn’t have to do much except look sexy, flirt with Bats, and growl during the battle. Still, she’s  pretty good at growling.

  3. Henry Cavill is still pretty, even with a scar.

  4. Nod to Robin existing in this universe. Or formerly existing since we don’t know if it was Dick Grayson or Jason Todd who was killed. I’m voting for Jason because I would love to see Under the Red Hood live action.

  5. Jeremy Irons as Alfred. Cranky without pontificating.

  6. The Clark/Lois love scene at the beginning. Nice touch.

  7. The Martha and Batman exchange when he rescues her. Also, nice touch.

Non-redeeming features. While the plot in and of itself wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t brilliant, and the whole film was dragged down by bloated waste of stuff the audience didn’t need to know and/or didn’t need to see. It reminded of how I felt about the Dark Knight, an okay film that could have left 45 minutes on the cutting room floor. Specifically:

  1. Why did we need to waste so much time rewatching the death of Martha & Thomas Wayne? Everyone who’s going to see this movie knows Batman’s backstory.  It would have been so much better if they’d handled that with the same deft touch that they handled Robin’s demise.

  2. Wonder Woman served no purpose. They used her as a funnel for a product placement sequence advertising the Justice League movie. Yes, she fights at the end, protects Batman while Superman is distracted by rescuing Lois (again), but there was no real reason for her to be there.

  3. The reason Wonder Woman shouldn’t have been there is because there was no reason they couldn’t have blocked the final battle with Superman and Batman teaming up and still have the same outcome.

  4. Superman has to save Lois no less than three times during the movie. Batman then has to save Martha Kent. Really people? So much saving of women just to avoid fridging them?

  5. Batman, the world’s greatest detective, has been emotionally manipulated by Lex Luthor for over two years? Seriously?

  6. Lex’s security is so bad, no one notices Bruce Wayne or Diana Prince wandering down to the computer servers in Lex’s house all three times.

  7. Lex is the new Joker. For someone who finds the Joker boring on a good day, this didn’t help. Joker is psychopathic, Luthor is sociopathic – learn the difference people.

  8. They had to make Lex psychopathic because he has no motivation. He makes vague references to getting beaten by Daddy and Daddy’s childhood during the Third Reich, but Lex himself has no personal reason to want Superman dead.

  9. Batman decides to bring Doomsday from the uninhabited island BACK TO METROPOLIS so Bats can find the kryptonian spear to stop him? Why couldn’t Bats just go to Metropolis, get the spear, then return to the island where no one was getting hurt? (And this is a guy who based his whole anti-Superman vendetta based on Superman supposedly not caring about the thousands killed during his battle with Zod).

  10. Batman’s crossfit training montage. Yes, he’s sexy, but for a movie already bloated to 2 1/2 hours, it was unnecessary and didn’t move the story forward.

  11. Useless Bat-dreams/nightmares that tells the audience what we already know: Batman fears Superman’s god-like powers.

  12. Batman decides not to kill Superman because their moms share the same first name. Ummmm, okay.

I could go on but this blog post is going the way of the movie – bloated to the point of useless. Just wait for it to come on TV at some point and make sure you have something else to keep yourself busy while you watch it.

Deadpool: A F*&^%ing Great Movie!

Pity the poor bastards who thought I could write a Deadpool review without spoilers. There you have your f*&^%ing warning.

I’ve avoided the Deadpool comic precisely because of the character’s reputation as an obnoxious, misogynistic son-of-a-bitch. I’m no prude, but I usually find writers who think they’re pushing-the-envelope with foul language and aggressive sexuality are just unimaginative bores. When the first trailer for Deadpool dropped, it caught my attention, but really… an R-rating is not a selling point for me. Deadpool was going to have to walk into Mordor to make a me a believer.

He went there and back again. The opening credits alone are worth the price of admission. Once I saw “Written By The Real Heroes Here”, Deadpool had me hooked.

Don’t panic. Deadpool is still a crass, sarcastic beast, but by the time the audience meets him, his heart has already grown three sizes and continues to grow — at least for a few choice characters we’re introduced throughout the movie. The rest get theirs in a bloody, spectacular fashion. There really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking about the story: Ryan Reynolds plays Ryan Reynolds out for vengeance against the guy who turned him from a handsome mercenary into a gruesome mutant. Morena Baccarin plays the prize (albeit brilliantly). Along they way, Deadpool meets up with X-Men Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (someone please make a NTW movie – soon!) for a showdown that manages to not destroy an entire city.

Despite the same old, same old storyline, I bought into it. The love story between Wade and Vanessa works because they have the same kind of crazy.  The story structure cut between past and present without losing the the main plot thread. And then there’s Leslie Uggams in the creepiest hurt/comfort scene ever. Ewwww.

Deadpool works in the way a movie is supposed to work: it got my attention, held it, and made me very happy at the end (and yes, there is an Easter Egg after the credits).

deadpool-ver9-11e99

Guardians of the Galaxy

I am Groot
I am Groot

I love Groot, so let’s just get that out of the way first and foremost. For a big CGI brute, he had me falling in love with him as if he were a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. I knew nothing of the GotG characters or the storyline before going to the movies last night and expected nothing more than a campy romp through the galaxy with a thick dollop of schmalz spread on top for good measure.

My God, it’s full of spoilers!

What amazes me is the quality of the camp and schmaltz. I mean this movie hits all the tropes I love: a group of misfits coming together to save the galaxy, hardened hearts softening under the pressure of reliance of others, evil for the sake of evil with no ironic twists or sympathy for the devil, pretty space battles with lasers and explosions. Oh, yeah, this is my kind of space opera enhanced with a seventies music soundtrack.

What made it all work is script delivered just the right amount of ingredients. Too much camp and the humor would come across as tacky and dated, too much sentiment and the characters would have been reduced to wusses with anger management issues. Rocket could have gone so wrong, but I love that his anger is neither over the top nor overbearing. His sense of humor offsets the anger is a very twisted way. When Drax pets him and he doesn’t react with rage, it’s such a perfect moment. Even the “thing” between Quill and Gamora had just the right balance. For all of her kick-ass assassin training, she doesn’t rebuff his clumsy attempt at romance the way you might expect of someone less confident in her right to deserve better than what she’s gotten from her “father” and from Quill.

Its also worth noting that this movie passes both the Bechdel Test and the Mako Mori Test, just in case anyone is keeping score: Both Gamora and Nebula talk to each other about something other than a man. They both have their own character arcs (though I do wish those arcs had been more fully realized). I don’t recall if GotG  passes the Bechdel test for people of color. I’m not familiar with all of the actors and with all of the blue, green, and magenta aliens running around, it was hard to tell. I’ll have to see the movie again, but if anyone wants to chime in below, they are welcome to.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Do unto others. That’s how I can easily sum up the entirety of CA:TWS. Throughout the film you watch how Steve Rogers/Captain America challenges others to become better people through their association with him.

It’s spoiler time…

What I loved about this film is what I loved about the Avenger film: It didn’t sacrifice storytelling for action. For every Captain America, scene, there was a Steve Rogers scene. Steve really doesn’t know who he is anymore, though he holds fast to his beliefs and morality. Yes, he beats up a lot of people, but for every concussion he inflicts you also have a smaller, quieter scene, such as Steve’s reunion with Peggy (so heartbreaking!), his first post-thaw kiss (Me thinks the gentleman protests too much), and a camera shot of his little notebook (paper, not tablet) of things he needs to experience to acclimate himself with his new world. The little things are what make an action movie worth watching.

As for the movie’s namesake, the Winter Soldier: more, please. Granted, he really doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie except fight. He says almost nothing, but he doesn’t have to. Steve shows us what this man meant to him and how much it hurts Steve to have to choose between harming his former friend and saving the world. The easter egg at the tail end of the credits (not the one after the main credits) says it all. The Winter Soldier is hungry – he wants his past and he’ll get it one way or another.

A few other little things I liked: The not-so-subtle condemnation of our surveillance society. Jenny Agutter kicking ass. Robert Redford in general. The Falcon…oh, yeah, The Falcon rocked. Peggy’s official role in the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Not everything about this movie pleased me, though. Nick Fury’s death and predictable return. Black Widow’s new role as shadchen (matchmaker). Really?  Why is it always the female characters who are obsessed with other people’s love lives? It might have been funny if it had been Tony Stark harassing Steve to get out more, but Black Widow? (Note: this doesn’t make me want a Black Widow movie any less).

I’m ambivalent about the return of Arnim Zola. I dislike A.I. stories on a good day and using him as an expository device really annoys me. It annoys me more that we’ll probably have to see him in every Captain America movie hereinafter.

The destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Meh. If Hydra controled things for so long, than it’s just as well. Regroup and rebuild and do unto others. Otherwise it’ll all fall apart again.

Man of Steel

I haven’t until now put spoiler warnings in my posts. My assumption has been if you see a movie title in the subject line, you’ve been warned. On the other hand, I usually don’t post immediately after a movie has been released so I’m reconsidering my policy. For the moment this will be your warning: SPOILERS ahead.

Talk about doing a one eighty on a movie. When I discovered Christopher Nolan had a hand in writing the story, I decided I wouldn’t see it. I’m probably the only person on the planet who hated his Batman movies, so why would I want to watch him do a hatchet job on Superman? Also, having seen a couple of publicity stills, I wasn’t impressed by Henry Cavill as Superman.

I changed my mind about seeing it (obviously), and happy to report I was dead wrong on both counts. Nolan’s fingerprints are all over the Superman story, but this time it mostly works. Yes, there’s an overdose of angst, but unlike the Batman movies, MoS doesn’t wallow in it. There’s joy in Clark/Kal-El’s journey. He struggles, he climbs, he fights, and triumphs, but oh, the journey to get there. Kudos to Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, and Diane Lane who played Zod, Jor-El, Martha Kent full-tilt. I still lack appreciation for Kevin Costner’s acting, but thankfully he’s not on screen all that much.

Having said all that, I really wish the director had skipped the prologue with Jor-El and Zod. It’s not even a true prologue; it’s backstory, something we didn’t need to know until after Zod comes to Earth. If they had cut out or moved the prologue we could have seen more of Clark’s journey which is what the movie should have been about, not the Jor-El/Zod conflict. It also would have given us more time with the Clark/Lois relationship which was severly shortchanged. The climax of the movie should have been about Clark rejecting Jonathan Kent’s advice to “let them die” when he kills Zod, not about ending the Jor-El/Zod conflict.

If I had the opportunity to rewrite the movie, I would ditch the prologue and give Zod a way to resurrect Kryptonians at the same time he’s killing Earthlings, thereby forcing Clark/Kal-el to make a choice between Kryptonians and Earthlings where only one set could live…that would have been a heart-wrenching decision that would have brought Superman to his knees. Instead we get Zod foaming at the mouth killing because he can, and Clark killing Zod because he really doesn’t have a choice. Choosing between the lives of the people standing in front of you and a theoretical possibility of life is not a choice.

Still, Superman killing someone, and another Kryptonian at that….I never thought a Superman story would ever go there, but the writers did and I loved it.

And yes, for the record, Henry Cavill is hot.

Iron Man 3

I’m still reeling from seeing this film. Where do I begin?

Tony: arrogant to the point of stupidity, but I love that about him. He’s the ego you only wish you could let loose (without taking out an entire boatyard).

Pepper: Everyone’s crowing about IM3 passing the Beschdel Test, but I would have liked to see a 4th rule: both women survive to the end. Unfortunately, because IM3 tried so hard to fit rules 1-3 into the script, it made me suspicous of the ending and I was right – Pepper comes back swinging. Not that I didn’t love every second of watching her kick bad guy ass, but it would have nice if it hadn’t been projected right from the beginning (and Gwyneth’s abs – did you see those abs she has? I wants them, precioussss).

Harley (the kid): I was prepared to hate him, but kudos the actor and the script – he came through without annoying the shit out of me.

Ben Kingsley steals the show from the beginning. Love how he took what I thought would be an embarassing stereotype and turned it on it’s head. Nice switcheroo there.

Killian: Guy Pearse had the hardest job of trying to give an over-the-top bad guy a new twist. He tried, he really did, but there wasn’t enough to Killian to make him any different from your run-of-the-mill corporate baddie. Even with the whole Mandarin set up, his “genius” wasn’t enough for me to think he could take on Tony and win. If there had been time for a battle of wills between the two, Killian would have been more interesting, but he just wasn’t a show-stopper.

Do I want to see Iron Man 4? Hard to say. Most #4s are horrible (Terminator 4, POTC 4, SW: Ep I, Alien 4, Superman 4). On the other hand ST: 4 is still one of my favs, so there’s hope.

Triple Movie Power Play

Why yes, I did spend over nine hours at the movie theater yesterday watching Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, and Transformers.  Your point?

Captain America

I’m not huge a Marvel Universe fan, but the few MU movies I’ve seen I’ve enjoyed. This one I loved. No two ways about it, Captain America blew me away. It successfully walked the fine line between the WWII era patriotism and the modern day cynicism by not telling the story of a superhero. Instead it tells the story of a hero who just happens to acquire superhero abilities. Steve Rogers is a small man with a big, brave heart – he could be a hero if only someone would give him the chance. That unflinching willingness to stare heroism in the eye to get the job done – even if that job means wearing a silly costume while shtupping for war bonds – is what makes Steve Rogers a great man. I did scratch my head over the integrated commando unit Steve recruited, but I looked up the Howling Commandos when I got home and it looks as if that’s canon. If it’s canon, I’m okay with it. Hugo Weaving rocked all the way through as Red Skull. The spoiler at the end of the credits – Arrrrrrgh! Do I really have to wait a whole year? No fair, no fair at all!

Cowboys & Aliens

If you’re looking for originality, this movie is not for you. It’s the lump sum of every cliché from every cowboy and pulp science fiction movie ever made. Did I care? Not so much. I’m not a huge fan of either Harrison Ford or Daniel Craig, but put the two of them together in a movie that doesn’t require a whole lot of deep thought, and I’ll cheerfully watch it. Daniel Craig is all sexy as the silent cowboy who rides into town and immediately attracts trouble. Harrison Ford is the nasty rancher who lusts for money, but has a heart of gold buried under his crusty exterior. The mysterious woman actually managed to not annoy me, probably because she wasn’t on screen all that much. As for the aliens, they’re mostly a hybrid of the Kraken from Clash of the Titans, the cave troll from Fellowship of the Ring, and the alien queen from Aliens. A blissfully pointless two hours.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Frances McDormand rocked as Charlotte Mearing. That and the fact that the crotch shots weren’t quite as obnoxious as they were in T2:RotF is about the best I can say for this installment. If they had less Sam and more Lennox it would have been more interesting. Hell, if they had fewer humans and more Autobots it would have been even better. Kudos for getting Buzz Aldrin on screen, but John Malkovich, Leonard Nimoy, and Hugo Weaving were wasted talent.