Comic Book Movies

November 26, 2017

Justice League

Justice League: Fun

PG-13

 2017 ‧ Fantasy/Science fiction film ‧ 2 hours

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What Is The Story?

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions. (IMDB)

Did I like it?

Justice League is a fun movie with problems I can’t believe went unseen, but lets talk about that later. Did I enjoy JL? I did. This was a film I went into with zero care especially with the amount of crap thrown at me. Whether it be online ads or TV spots I was already hungover by the time JL was hitting screens. So when I sat down and drank my coffee I really had a fun time watching. This wasn’t do to the genetic storyline but it was watching these characters and as well having them interacting with each other.



Without the strong characters this film is light on its feet. With the mess that was Suicide Squad and Dawn Of Justice, the key take away was the dark tone. With Wonder Woman that tone changed. What we got was a happier, brighter and more colorful film. This was needed and I believe was part of the success that Wonder Woman had. With JL I am happy to see the dark visuals get toned down. Now it wasn’t Wonder Woman levels and in the film it even fights with itself, but still it was nice to see a more colorful look. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the comparisons with the first trailer and the newest one. Same exact shots but with a brighter and clear look. The addition of Danny Elfman scoring went a lot further in helping this tone problem WB has.
That 2hr running time should be the new standard. This sets up boundaries for filmmakers like Snyder. Stick with the 2hrs everyone! 

We finally get the classic Superman we have been waiting for. Talking like Superman and acting like Superman.

The Flash is great thou he needs to be turned down a few. Having the Flash at 11 the entire time is a bit draining.

Wonder Woman is still great.

Aquaman was good. Wish we had more but I’m looking more forward to his standalone movie.

Cyborg was better then I was expecting.

Batman was Batman. Wish we had his standalone already. Not sure what is going on behind the scenes but I feel we are missing out on The Batman film not yet shooting.

What Was Bad?

A lot. Story, dialogue, CG, sound mixing and more. Again I am surprised to see some of this in a tentpole film. I had to shake my head a few times do to the sheer craziness of allowing this into the final edit. I understand the issue this film had during production. But I wont allow that to hinder my final view on the film. I would love to talk about the super mustache but I won’t because the amount of work that goes into a movie production is incredible. What happened was terrible and I can look past that. Probably should of just added a beard on him to cover it up. The fact that any movie is completed is an achieve on itself.

But some stuff is just surprising. 

The first few minutes should grab your attention but here I was shocked right away. The kids on their phone recording Superman was terrible. Great idea but terrible execution. The video should of been filmed by real kids. I would of loved to see I child film this with other children around in the frame. It felt so fake and that’s another issue with this film, cheap execution. The onscreen camera buttons just did not need to be there. This was the first thing we as the audience see and it wasn’t done right. 
Then we jump into Batman on the roof capturing a criminal. This entire scene felt out of place on top of that it felt shot like a TV movie, cheap. And out of all the scenes that need to be dark this was lit way too much. Then the stupidest thing I’ve seen in ages happens. Batman talks to Alfred using his real name right next to the criminal. Are you kidding me? This is a one on one conversation. There is no need for real names. You could use a codeword but again this is two people talking, no confusion on who is talking to who.
Now the criminal knows Batman talks to a man named Alfred, I’m sure he won’t go home and google Gotham and Alfred together. Christ. The way these DC films treat Batman’s secret identity is appalling.  
Now with the villain I would not go as far as what others are saying. He is definitely not the worst ever. I don’t believe that. What I can’t believe is why make him a full CG character? Why hire the great Ciarán Hinds and only use his voice. What the hell are you thinking? Throw him in the make up chair and allow him to use his sinister facial expressions to bring that character to life. But hey no one really wants Steppinwolf as the main baddie in a JL film anyways. What if Doomsday was approaching Earth to take it over. First half hr is Doomsday taking over and enslaving humans. Flash goes back into time and sets up the team with a plan to bring back Superman. Bring him back is the only chance they have. Superman comes back as evil and the JL film is about fighting Superman and setting up the arrival of Doomsday in part 2.

That would be in my opinion a better storyline. Perhaps having Batman v. Superman in this universe kills that. Another reason they shouldn’t have made that film. Starting to think WB didn’t plan any of this out.

My Favorite Parts?

The league fighting Superman. There is a great shot that almost makes the entire movie. More of this WB.
Elfman using Superman’s classic theme which got my heart racing. Again more of this WB.
Elfman bringing his Batman 89 theme back brought tears to my eyes. This was the moment the film became more for me. I felt honored to hear that again in a theater. This is Batman’s theme just like Star Wars and Bond have theirs. But if you weren’t paying attention you might of missed it. It pops up a couple time but the poor sound mixing drowns that out for the general audience. I don’t know who is at fault here, someone needs to be brought back. That was almost disrespectful. Felt like the movie was embarrassed of the theme.  
That’s the recurring theme with WB and their DC films. They seem to be embarrassed of their property. We have been witnessing this for awhile now. Allow your property to be itself. You saw that happened with Wonder Woman. Your on the right track but I feel like your out of chances. Right now your on track to lose money. It’s a shame because this is a ton better then Dawn of Justice. 

Wrap Up

Snyder and Terrio need to go. I do believe Joss Whedon brought this film up to fun for me. If he wasn’t apart of it this would of been a remake of Dawn of Justice. Give Whedon the control or hell Patty Jenkins she already showed us she knows the property better. The numbers are there and the people have spoken. It can not continue this way.

June 9, 2017

Wonder Women

Wonder Woman: Wonderful

PG-13

2017 ‧ Fantasy/Science fiction film ‧ 2h 21m

There isn’t much to say about WB and their DC Movies but when it comes to Wonder Women one thing I will say is…

Wonder Women is a Wonderful film.

WB finally made a real movie. They created something that was enjoyable to watch and not a torture to sit through. A movie that had a beginning, middle and end. Not a over complexed film trying to do something different. (See Suicide Squad a movie that shows everything you shouldn’t do in a movie)

WB went back to the basics and it pays off big time

Gal Gadot is Wonder Women, one that I can not get enough of. When it comes to Justice League the truth for me, and I believe as well as the general public is we aren’t really excited about it. But Gal Gadot has given me more enthusiasm for JL. This is what WB should done. Introduced each character in their own film before Justice League, this was the first and biggest mistake.


Chris Pine does a great job as Steven Trevor. One of Pine’s greatest abilities as a actor is his comedic timing. It works beautifully here that only helps the flow of this movie. Keep in mind this is still a 2hr and 21 minute movie but never did I feel that. Batman v Superman was a different story.

Credit has to be given to Director Patty Jenkins. Jenkins made a great action film that has a solid story line and the best scene in a DC movie to date.

Wonder Women is the first DC movie (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad) from scene to scene that kept my attention locked. I felt emotion on the screen, the last 3 never did that for me. Lets swing over to action. The action in WW is great. The fight sequences are fantastic and this should be the standard from this point further.  

Hey WB pay attention here!

Jenkins directed her first feature length in 2003’s Monster. A movie that Charlize Theron won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Now her second film after her TV stint is Wonder Women which at the time of writing this charges toward $420 plus million. Which would be 2017’s 8th biggest movie on 4,165 theater screens.

Which was the lowest…

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was on 4,256

Suicide Squad was on 4,255

Man of Steel was on 4,207

WB this is what you need, continue what you did with Wonder Woman.

August 19, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 (DJ’s Take)

CLUMSY

Matthew Vaughn’s 2010 film Kick-Ass is one of my favorite superhero movies ever.  It really breaks down the archetypes, underlying messages, and mythos of superheroes just as well as M. Knight Whats-his-face’s Unbreakable did.  It pulled no punches and entertained from start to finish.  Even the low ticket sales for Kick-Ass didn’t stop it from becoming a cult hit.  It is the pure definition of lightning in a bottle.  Unfortunately, lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice.  Kick-Ass 2 lends some credence to that old saying.  Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!  Easy fanboys.  I’m not saying Kick-Ass 2 is a bad film.  It’s fun.  It’s mostly entertaining.  Compared to it’s predecessor though, the movie comes off as just a little too CLUMSY.

Not to sound presumptuous, but I kind of knew this was coming.  New writer/director?  Check.  Concept lacking initial luster and shock factor?  Check.  Actors who seem to have grown out of their characters age-wise and talent-wise?  Double check.  The writing was on the wall, but I hoped to be proven wrong.  Sadly, the magic of the first film is never fully recaptured in this sequel.  A very common occurrence with sequels as a whole.  The frustrating thing is that there are moments in Kick-Ass 2 that you start to feel the same joy of the original.  Then the movie quickly stumbles and squanders those moments.  It’s like watching a newborn doe trying to walk or a child learning to ride a bike without the training wheels.  Just when you think they got it, they fall flat on their face.

Kick-Ass 2 is a victim of it’s own genius.  The first Kick-Ass, in my opinion, should have been left as a stand-alone.  Yes, I know this film is based on creator Mark Millar’s follow up comic book series aptly named Kick-Ass 2.  However, Hollywood is so preoccupied with whether or not they could make a sequel that they don’t stop to think if they should.  Yes, I’m indirectly quoting Dr. Ian Malcolm.  But it is to make a valid point.  For every Jaws, there is a Jaws 2.  For every Men In Black, there is a Men In Black 2.  Speed, The Sting, The Fly, The Matrix.  I could go one.  Some films hit the mark so perfectly the first time, it is best to just leave well enough alone.  I personally wish that thinking was used for Kick-Ass, because it pains me to see the sequel not live up to the expectations.

There are some interesting concepts attempted in the film that I was very enthusiastic to see.  Hit Girl trying to deal with high school sounds great on paper.  But even with the…how should I put this…messy end result, I felt a little shortchanged.  With all the emphasis of this movie obviously switching over to Hit Girl, you’d think the film would spend a little more time filling out that arc.  Chris D’Amico becoming the first ever supervillain sounds great on paper.  However, you don’t get a fully fleshed out arc of him going to the darkside either.  It is done through quick disjointed scenes and a humorous but also rushed montage.  Even Kick-Ass himself joining a team of real world heroes is passed over so fast you don’t get a chance to really enjoy it.  This is due to one of the main flaws I think this film has.  The running time.  With a film with so much more going on in it, you’d think it would be much longer than the original.  Not fifteen minutes shorter.  I know the impatient filmgoers/youth of today scoff at anything longer than two hours.  However, I can’t help but think that this film needed a much longer running time to properly tell this story.  I mean, I haven’t even mentioned that they try and pack in a storyline with Kick-Ass and his father, Hit Girl her surrogate father, a break up, a romance, an unrequited romance and a friends growing apart angle all in a film that is a smidge over an hour and a half.

The performances thankfully are one of the few things that don’t decline in this sequel.  Aaron Johnson still delivers the comical awkwardness of Dave Lizewski.  You still pull for him and still believe in him.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse hams it up a lot, but you never get annoyed by it because it totally fits his character.  Jim Carrey, is not as delightfully quirky as Nicolas Cage’s Big Daddy, but has a fun and surprisingly restrained performance.  Chloë Grace Moretz’s return to the character that put her on the map was the one thing I was initially worried about.  I’ve stated how much of a fan of her I am.  And she herself has proven to be a fine actress since.  However, time has erased much of the novelty of her age matched with her attitude in this role.  Thankfully, the strength, wit, and charm of Hit Girl are still brought to bear by Moretz and still makes her a great character.  Though maybe not a fresh one.  The story takes Hit Girl out of her element, as I mentioned before.  A take no prisoners superhero forced to deal with the hierarchies and cliques of high school?  Awesome!  And Moretz does a great job with what she is given.  It just feels hurried.  Thankfully Moretz will get a similar crack at this subject matter in her upcoming take on Carrie.

Moretz and all her fellow performers, however, suffer from a script that has too much expositing and too little clever dialogue.  A ratio that was clearly flipped in the original.  Speeches are given by these characters almost at nauseum.  And where it felt natural in Kick-Ass, it feels out of place here.  Don’t believe me?  Drinking game then.  Take a shot whenever someone gives a overly wordy, long winded, score driven speech that completely stops the story’s momentum.  I’m not talking about Dave’s narration either.  It literally happens with Hit Girl in back to back scenes.  A character who is supposed to be the true definition of short and sweet.  She is supposed to show, not tell.  Writer/Director Jeff Wadlow navigates his way around these characters like a CLUMSY late night watchmen.  Matthew Vaughn would have guided them better on the page and behind the camera.

Kick-Ass 2 again is not a horrible film.  In a summer of disappointments, it ranks as just fine.  But for a film that is supposed to be the celebrated follow up to one of the most original superhero films ever made, it under-delivers.  It won’t scar you like Green Lantern or upset you like The Amazing Spider-Man, but it certainly won’t kick your ass.  Don your costume…stay away from sick sticks…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

February 9, 2013

London Calling: V For Vendetta

FORGOTTEN

With the Oscar season here and the summer movie season fast approaching, I wanted to talk about a film I think fits into both.  Now comic book films are usually shrugged off as just popcorn fluff.  Most times, they are.  To this day, however, there hasn’t been a comic book film that has challenged me intellectually more than V For Vendetta.  It is one of the most intelligently made, beautifully shot, well performed films of the genre.  But sadly for some reason, it is FORGOTTEN.
V For Vendetta plot revolves around a knife wielding masked terrorist/freedom fighter trying to take down an oppressive British government in the not too distant future.  I put terrorist/freedom fighter because the film blurs the line between the two.  It makes you question the difference and presents the perspective of people on either side of the chaos.  Some would argue that the character of V is clearly the hero and the government is bad.  However, when you really get into the specifics of V’s acts, it is hard to paint him as a true blue hero.  Even an antihero for that matter.  Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.  V is out for vengeance, admittedly so.  He kills in cold blood.  He kills innocents.  He kidnaps.  He tortures.  He does whatever it takes to accomplish his goals.  You might say the ends justify his means, but his acts seen through a different spectrum can easily be construed as terror.  That is why I love this film.  It can be dissected and analyzed even to this day.  The Avengers is my favorite comic book movie of all time, however, V For Vendetta is much meatier when it comes to substance.
Comic book legend Alan Moore is famous for angrily dismissing and disavowing any adaptations of his work.  This is thanks primarily to the abysmal League Of Extraordinary Gentleman.  I wish he’d take a slightly lighter stance on this though.  It might be easy for me to say but, films aren’t bad solely because the filmmakers take liberties with the source material.  I detest Michael Bay’s Transformer films and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man not just because they changed things.  I detest them because they are poorly written, horribly performed, lowest common denominator catering tripe.  Their changes weren’t done to add anything new or stimulating to the material.  They were made for convenience sake.  The same cannot be said for V For Vendetta.  Yes, V is a warmer character in the film than he was in the comic book.  However, I think that makes him even more complicated when compared to the coldness of his methods.  Yes, the fascist vs. anarchist theme was more liberal vs. neo-conservatism.  However, that is a lot timelier for today’s political atmosphere and still has the nod to the fascist’s ideas of purity from the comic book.  My point being that the alterations made in V For Vendetta do not weaken it as a story.  It merely updates it. 
The Wachowskis, the source material meddlers in this case, exist in a weird place for me as a film fan.  I was highly disappointed with their conclusion of The Matrix trilogy, but still respect the fact they always take crazy chances.  They entrusted the directing duties to long time collaborator James McTeigue, while staying on to write and produce.  However, their fingerprints are still all over this picture.  Finding and concentrating on the heart of their cinematic worlds is a common Wachowski m.o..  Where a film like V For Vendetta could have just fallen into the basic action vehicle cliché, the Wachowskis don’t let it.  There are genuinely moving moments in the film that still stun me.  The action scenes are terrific, but always serve as a tool to tell the story.  Not the other way around.
Before The Dark Knight came along, V For Vendetta was my choice for best ensemble cast performance in a comic book film.  Strange category, I know.  However, it is always a relief and a thrill for me when I see great talent trying to do great work in a genre film such as a comic book movie.  It thrilled me in History Of Violence, it thrilled me in The Dark Knight, and it thrilled me in V For Vendetta.  It is still a common misconception that the genre should be treated the way Schumacher treated Batman.  But there can be some amazing work turned in with the cape and cowl subset.  For example, this is by far my favorite performance by Hugo Weaving.  Yes, even more than his iconic Agent Smith.  Odd, seeing as we never see his face and that he was a last second replacement for James Purefoy.  Despite his Oscar, I’d put Weaving’s V right up there with Ledger’s Joker.  To accomplish the subtleties of V’s rage, anguish, humor and theatricality through an emotionless mask with only a voice is no small feat.  Portman, who I’ve loved since Leon: The Professional, seems to be playing a stereotypical damsel at first.  Much like she did in Thor.  However, Evey has the strongest arc in the film.  Her performance highpoint happens during the film’s big twist.  Her emotional journey during the four minute long scene hints at the Oscar caliber performance she had in her in the years to come.  Other than the leads, you have stellar supporting performances from John Hurt, Stephen Fry, Roger Allam, and the unsung anchor of the film, Stephen Rea.  There is absolutely no phoning it in here.
V For Vendetta doesn’t get nearly as much love as it should.  Even from it’s creator.  It seems to get misplaced amongst it’s lesser comic book movie brethren   For me, however, it is a film that shall never be FORGOT.  Remember, remember…to watch it….then tell me I’m wrong.  

August 5, 2012

American Splendor

SPLENDID

Even with the recent commercial successes of this and this, people still look down on comic books, their readers, and especially their movies.   To malign the worth of comic books is extremely short sided.  Comic books are just another medium of entertainment.  No different than a novel, or song, or television show.  There are even certain comic books and comic book creators recognized for their work.  Some that receive awards.   Most look to the works of the strange and grumpy Alan Moore.  But forgotten is the even more strange and grumpier Harvey Pekar. (Pronounced PEE-KAR)  American Splendor circles the life of Harvey, the award winning comic book he made and the life that influenced it.

What makes American Splendor different than other comic books you’ve probably read or heard of is that its not about a superhero.  Its about a normal guy facing normal problems.  Cancer.  Loneliness.  Love.  Loss.  Mortality.  Stark reality up front in center.  To see these issues addressed through comics separates this film and Harvey Pekar’s story from the other cookie cutter movies that do the same.

American Splendor has a format that leads me to believe producers were uncertain as to how they wanted to make the film.  Its a documentary that turns into a movie that turns into a documentary about a movie.  There are times directly after scenes where an actor gets to interview the person they are portraying.  But it works seamlessly and becomes an interesting mechanism in telling the story.  No film I’ve seen has ever done this.

Though he can be overbearing at times, Paul Giamatti is someone I’ve always liked as an actor.  He’s perfect in this role and, in my opinion, gives his finest performance as Harvey Pekar.  You’ll love Hope Davis as very reserved Joyce Brabner.  You’ll be mesmerized by the unrecognizable Judah Friedlander as Toby.  However, its the real Harvey that stands out to me in this.  Giamatti handles the thematic aspect of the role but you will be drawn more to the scenes where Harvey talks to him.

American Splendor is a very SPLENDID film about a real person with real problems who managed to use those problems to make an impact on the literary world.  A man that should get a little more attention than he does now.  Watch it….then tell me I’m wrong.

July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (JP’s Take)

The Dark Knight Rises: Marvelous

—Caution Spoilers ahead—
2012 has been such a damn good year for films…and we have more to go…I’m looking at you Skyfall!
But-

The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic film.

and my favorite this year…(Here is a small write up of what I liked and didn’t like. When TDKR comes out on Blu-ray, I will do a detail review on all three, the likes and non-likes).

Listen I have read many reviews saying how many people thought it was just fine and not that great, well I believe they’re wrong. The biggest problem really is the structure of the story. It seems they tried to jam in what could of been two films, especially the first half. On my second viewing I notice it works a little better then the first showing. I’m gonna guess and say the story structure was a bit jarring probably for some people at first but it didn’t get to me too much after a few showings. There are a few other issues including Blake knowing Bruce was Batman and a few plot holes but thats fine, shit happens.

Okay thats really it. Now on to the good stuff! This film is made for a Batman Fan! If you don’t know much about Batman I’m gonna guess its a bit tougher (Talia, Bruce and Selina’s romance, the alluded to Killer Croc and so on). All the great call backs to Begins and Dark Knight work. The story is great. The acting is fantastic. The Cinematography is perfection. That IMAX was mind blowing awesome! Action was top notch and the best of the three films. Music is and like always, kickass. This is the best acting of Bale’s Batman. Catwoman is wonderful and sexy. Bane in my mind works excellent. He looks and sounds great too. We finally see Batman meet his match physically, which I love. In my mind its on the same level as The Dark Knight, if not a bit better. Because The Dark Knight is a great movie for all to love. The Dark Knight Rises really is more of a great Batman film for Batman fans to love (and also non-fans too). With all that you also have the parallels of whats going on in our real world and the film strike me emotionally and work beautifully by doing that. Sadly I have a feeling this film will be a time capsule of the darkness this world we live in has become. But more importantly this film completely finishes a modern classic trilogy.

Sure it may not be a perfect film but how many perfect films are there? Honestly I can count them all on one hand. But its a great film and a fantastic Batman film. We finally got to see Bane done great and it was in a realistic way on the big screen. Talia finally pops up in a film (I wish she was in it longer thou) which I’m happy to see and like her father says in BB, stabs Bruce in the heart (emotional) and Batman (psychically) and a ending that I feel was the perfect ending to complete a perfect trilogy…and NO I don’t think this new “Robin” will go on and do films in the future but it just all seems to work for me.

I really love this film, I find it simply amazing and if you don’t like it thats fine I don’t care, because I loved it. To me it brings back that classic feeling of going to the movies, which many films don’t have anymore. But you can’t say this film isn’t emotional. Especially Alfred’s scene at Bruce’s grave, I’ve never been moved that much in all my years with anything Batman. It’s tough not to be bias when it comes to Batman. It’s really the only thing I ever loved, It’s really the only reason I live. I grew up on Batman (especially The Animated Series which is the only reason my parents bought a VHS recorder) it means so much to me, so this film puts a smile on my face, a very big one. Us Batman fans have been to hell once, lets hope Warner Brothers take a few year off and focus on something else other then rebooting Batman because we now have our perfect trilogy and I want to enjoy it for years to come because these films are and will always be legendary.


July 19, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

DESPERATE 

DESPERATE to keep the property at Sony to thusly prevent a possible Spidey sighting in Avengers 2, which would thusly lead to Marvel Studios earning an estimated BAGILLION dollars. (I Rounded Up)

DESPERATE to win over the hipster/Twilight audience with its emo, big haired, recluse, douche hero and his “Ready To Turn My Back On Everything, Including My Own Self Worth” love interest.

DESPERATE to make the film grim and dark like The Dark Knight, but sadly only accomplishing to make it poorly lit and soulless.

DESPERATE to be special and different with a highly promoted yet LAME half-baked Spidey secret origin, which they abandon before the film’s midway point.

DESPERATE to not be like the first trilogy while poorly attempting to steal things from it.

DESPERATE to cast great actors but then relegating them to being only exposition spewing wallpaper.

DESPERATE to redefine the hero’s core mantra but only managing to debase it into a vague, poorly delivered shrug of a purpose.

Some say the greatest inspiration is often born through desperation…good words.  I, however, don’t see inspiration here.  I see a middle aged hoodlum, who managed to get a gun, trying to hold up a liquor store.  Unfortunately the cops showed up too fast and he is now using an old Korean woman as a human shield, desperately holding on to what little semblance of hope he has of escaping.  A slew of dumb ass decisions piling up to result in a chalk outline on a splotchy linoleum floor.  THAT is The Amazing Spider-Man.  If you waste your time and watch it, you’ll be hard pressed to…tell me I’m wrong.

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