Category: movie review

Suicide Squad – DC We Have a Problem

I saw Suicide Squad this weekend, and while it had major flaws, both in plot and in storytelling, I kept coming back to Batman V. Superman for reference. I had difficulty putting into words why I mostly loathed the direction DC is taking. Supposedly Suicide Squad had focus groups dictate the outcome of the movie and while I’m not sure it helped, it shows DC is attempting to learn. While they struggle to find the universal “it,” NerdWriter1 hits my feelings on the head.

As for Suicide Squad, it may hold a solid C. Maybe? The villains were only half involved in the story. Captain Boomerang could have been deleted and the story wouldn’t have changed. Katana could have been deleted, story would have held up. The military get more screen time than the villains. Joker was “eh” at best. The actual bad guy of the movie started off pretty frightening, then just turns into a typical “destroy the world” mockery of itself. The superheroes of the planet are apparently busy elsewhere. When nifty fight scenes are about to take place, Snyder decides he wants to see how dark he can get it, as if to almost hide the fact stunt people are doing it. Overall, the movie is lazy storytelling and a great idea with almost no effort at the execution level. Save it for video.

Sorry DC, I was rooting for you this time. Maybe third time will be the charm with Wonder Woman?


X-Men Age of SFX Intensity

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Apocalypse is the third movie in the second trilogy of Marvel’s X-Men boasting one of the most impressive super villains in comic book history. Following the Days of Future Past arc, the movie had big shoes to fill and  required pulling out all the stops to please comic book junkies. With a constant barrage of super powers at every turn, it delivers eye candy even if it had a few hiccups in the plot.

Spoilers

It starts with the fall of En Sabah Nur, an Egyptian pharaoh? God? Whatever. He’s captured and then we’re sped up to modern-day (I mean 1980’s) through a nifty title sequence. The film takes place a decade after the events of Days of Future Past. Mystique is considered an American hero and Magneto (who should be called Magneat-o) is a terrorist. We see Moira McTaggert in her CIA role basically screwing up and bringing the most powerful mutant in eternity back to life. Thanks Moira, bet they all wish you became a geneticist and lived on a secluded island in Scotland now.

The movie spends a good chunk of time “building teams.” Apocalypse teleports his butt all over the place. First is Storm, whom he catches stealing in Egypt, (originally discovered by Professor X in the comics), then Psylocke, who just happened to be standing in a mutant underground, then Angel, the master of cage fighting, and last, Magneto after his latest bender from having everybody he loves killed. Again. Apocalypse’s gathering of mutants seemed random and lacked some motivation. Storm wants to change the world and he offers her the power to do that. Okay, she’s tricked. Psylocke, she just gives a, “Sure, I’m not doing anything in the movie so far.” Angel, after losing the ability of his wings is more forced into the role of Archangel. And Magneto, well, he has to do something evil, because he always does that before he finds the errors of his ways.

The X-Men’s team is built with motivation in mind. Mystique is saving mutants across the globe and discovers Nightcrawler (who just broke Angel’s wings) and uses him to teleport to the mansion after she discovers Magneto has returned. Quicksilver hears Magneto is alive and killed some people, he decides to go to the Mansion since they’re the only people he knows with access to Magneto. Scott Summers has just been brought to the Professor by his older brother (and former X-Man) where he meets Jean Grey and Beast.

Now, don’t let me get it wrong. While the majority of the movie is about moving people into place, it’s not without its action. Cyclops destroys a few things on accident. Jean Grey basically shows she’s going to destroy the world. Storm picks some pockets. Angel shows he’s psychotic. Psylocke shows…well she doesn’t show anything worth watching yet.

While there is plenty of serious end of the world moments, the movie doesn’t ignore its humorous past. While not part of the humor, the amount of shoulder pads and 80’s costumes makes it more comical than nostalgic. Nightcrawler spends half the movie looking like Michael Jackson from the Thriller music video. Even Jubilee gets a decent role in the movie, as a background character, who says almost nothing, and does even less. That’s the joke, right? Their discussion about Return of the Jedi and how all third movies sucks is poking fun at itself, but taking a real dig at the third installment of the original trilogy. Honestly, it did feel like teenagers being teens, and had a lighthearted side to the urgency of the movie. Oh, they also happen to have extremely powerful abilities.

Apocalypse eventually discovers the Professor and his ability to tap into the minds of everybody on the planet and comes to the Mansion, steals him away and in an effort to stop him, Havoc does what he does. He blows shit up. The humor created by Quicksilver’s obnoxious attitude is seen tenfold as he moves at lightning speeds to save every person from the explosion. From saving goldfish, to stealing sodas, hurling people out of windows, and saving the dog, there is humor where necessary.

The story gets interesting when Striker shows up and steals away a handful of the students (Quicksilver, Beast, Mystique, not Jubilee, I repeat, nobody wants Jubilee) and Cyclops, Jean, and Nightcrawler tag along to save them. We are jetted away to Alkali Lake, which we know is a Wolverine origin point, and based on the previews, we know its coming. In an effort to get rid of the guards, Jean opens a container with an animal in it. I would like to link to this article and say, I called it suckers. Original costume and all. However, there are no Canadian jokes, missed opportunity Fox, missed opportunity.

The gang heads to Egypt where they’re going on their final confrontation. It happens, they win. Everybody has a moment of unity. If you want details, buy a ticket.

jubileexmenapocalypse-171959-640x320.pngWhat did this movie do wrong? It spent far too much time making Apocalypse powerful to the point where he had no equal. The only thing they didn’t toss in were the Celestials powers. You know at the final battle, it’s either going to be a team effort with some traitors, or Apocalypse is going to win. The ending wasn’t perfectly predictable, but we had an idea. We knew Magneto would see the errors of his ways (cause that man can’t make a decision and stick with it to save his life.) And because of Storms back story, it was understandable she would help the X-Men. Bryan Singer does well with the ensemble, but there were some characters he must have just gone, “Hey, you’re hot, we’ll put you on the posters, but how the hell do I use you?” *cough*Psylocke*cough* She basically sneaks onto the set of the movie, has a quick fight scene, then sneaks back off. I can’t even remember if they called her by name? She probably got as much face time as Jubilee. There. I said it. Sansa Stark can only play distant and slightly aloof, which works for most of the film, but her grand moment it seemed like, “Oh shit, what was it my acting coach taught me?”

Now, there were some issues, but let’s discuss why you should go buy that ticket. The comic book came to life. We saw superpowers used, but not only used, but used in those interesting ways the characters in the comics would use to save the day. Nightcrawler bamfs the crap out of Archangel and Psylocke goes from using her psiblade to a psiwhip. Every character got a chance to use their powers in a way that helped perpetuate the story of who they are. The scene with Wolverine fits into the story line of all six movies, and we finally get to see a real berserker rage. I think Bryan Singer maxed out the number of characters he could handle, and some got short-changed, but he didn’t short change their effects, powers, and unique uses of their powers.

Was it worth it? Yes, if you’re okay with the cinematic universe making alterations to the characters, I thin you’ll walk away very happy. If you’re a stickler for cannon, I think you’re going to be annoyed. But let’s be honest, the comics get goofy to the point of dumb, so there are reasonable updates to make things work a bit more fluidly, especially for a two-hour time frame.

!!!Twist Spoilers!!!

The arrival of Phoenix was handled well. I like that they’re sticking to the ultimate story line (or so we think right now.) She finally taps into the root of her power and the effects finally worked. Sorry Famke, you did a great job, but they ruined your plot in the final movie. I secretly hoped Magneto would stay at the end and this would be a perfect bridge into the New Mutants, but I’m satisfied with the sentinels walking into the Danger Room as Mystique gives her speech. The final scene after the credits is interesting (again, breaking canon) as we know Mr. Sinister will be a primary piece to the upcoming storyline. It’ll be a few years with Singer working on other projects, and who knows what will happen with McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence at the end of their contract. So now, we get to secretly hope that the expanding X-Universe will keep us happy in the meantime.


X-Men Apocalypse: I’m Calling it Now

If you haven’t figured out yet, I’m a huge fanboy. However, I’m not the fanboy who believes the movies has to even remotely resemble the comic to be effective. As they said in the first X-Men movie, “What did you expect, yellow spandex?” I’m okay with huge changes. However, I have to admit I’m excited for this movie because it’s getting just a bit more comic-booky. Olivia Munn’s outfit basically makes me squeal.

The huge question is, what is this potential Hugh Jackman sighting? More precisely, this Wolverine sighting that we saw in the preview. I’m not even sure if it’ll be Hugh, but I do have a prediction. I believe it’s not Wolverine at all, but his earlier Canadian self, aka Weapon X. I can’t explain why, but I have a feeling we might be getting hints at the Origin story he deserved. Also, let’s see if we can sneak in something that will hint at X-Force or Cable. Hell, while we’re at it, let’s prepare for Alpha Flight. I’m more than okay with Canadian X-Men screaming, “I don’t know what this is all aboot!”X-Men - Wolverine vs Weapon X


Captain America: Civil War Made Me Pro War

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Somebody do me a favor, call the executives over at Warner Brothers and just scream, “In Yo’ Face.” Because after watching what is arguably one of the best Marvel movies, I hope Warner Brother executives were sitting behind me at the theater scribbling notes. Between the special effects, the script, and the direction, my only complaint is they forget the to include Tony Stark, the scorned lover, being forced to watch Captain America and Winter Soldier an intimate embrace.

The story loosely follows the comic book arc of the same name. The nit and grit is Tony Stark has an awakening moment, agreeing that superheroes should be put in check by the government. Of course, the government soldier, Captain America goes against type and says no. This is when the two comic book titans play a deadly game of red rover and start picking their teams. On Team Iron Man we have Warmachine, Black Widow, Vision, Black Panther and finally Spiderman while Team Cap features Winter Soldier, Antman, Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Hawkeye.

While we’re used to Robert Downey Jr. being our witty and snarky comic relief, we get to see him in a more serious role. While his jump from making Ultron in Avengers 2 to wanting to sign the papers condemning superheroes is a bit drastic and almost out of character, we accept his change in attitude. Thankfully, Chris Evans as Captain has more than enough one-liners that made you crack a smile, and when you thought he’d be the primary comic relief, we bring in Paul Rudd as Antman. Somebody in Marvel knew exactly how to break the team down so we never had a moment of dreary melancholy that consumed the movie.

I’ll admit, I went into this worried about the number of heroes. How can you give them adequate screen time and develop them enough to make me care. While Winter Soldier is my least favorite of the bunch, I was delight to see Falcon, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Vision and most of all Black Widow get enough screen time that I felt their characters were explored. If this doesn’t prove that Black Widow needs her own movie, nothing will.

There was even enough depth of character that we got to touch upon people’s families. Captain America develops a romance with his former girlfriend’s niece (I’m from Maine, this is acceptable.) Black Panther winds up with a dead father. Even the romance between Scarlet Witch and Vision is explored, leaving me wonder just how did they produce a child in the comic?

SPOILER ALERT

My biggest beef was the mastermind Baron Zemo and his dastardly plan to destroy the superheroes. He goes out of his way to create a complex scenario in which the Avengers are divided and ultimately, it is revealed his plan is to literally start a school yard brawl between Captain America and Ironman. You heard me right. A dead mother destroys the Avengers. Did Marvel see Superman vs. Batman and think, “Whoa, mothers are so in this season, I bet we can use that!” I blinked aimlessly at the screen realizing this was probably the worst plot point, but then again it’s a comic. I mean, Scarlet Witch did nearly destroy the world because her imaginary children were being threatened.

But let’s get to the most important thing, the real reason we actually went to see this movie. We wanted to see Black Panther and Spiderman (though the later, I’ll never understand.) Black Panther was majestic. I believed he is a prince, and more so, I believed he was capable of every physical feat he did. The special effects of him running kept him catlike, but avoided the horrible look of Sabertooth in Wolverine: Origins. His suit was my favorite part, looking even more badass than Ironman and capable of better stunts than Black Widow. Spiderman was less impressive graphically, but the story was extremely well done. From Tony Stark flirting with his aunt, to blackmailing him into assisting their efforts, he had a reason to be there. His quips and one-liners made him the rookie of the team but he stole the scene with laughter. We were rooting for the teenager, and since the word “Homecoming” was dropped at least a thousand times throughout the movie, we know there will be a serious tie-in to the upcoming Spiderman: Homecoming movie. I’ll overlook the weird eyes thanks to his performance.

And while I thought the final fight could have been ten minutes shorter (still better than any fight in BvS) all I could think during the rest of the movie is, “Where is Paul Rudd!” During the epic fight scene in which you wonder how can an Ant really have any impact, we get to see Giantman appear. We stop, we gawk, we roared as we wanted him to step on somebody. I almost wish Hulk were handy so there could have been some kicking involved. Hurry up and make Antman 2. Like right now. I want it.

civil-warThe tone was appropriate, the scenes were iconic and while the ending didn’t quite follow what we were expecting, we got everything we wanted. The final battle in which we see the culmination of the fight between Captain and Ironman, we get our final hurrah. Where does it leave us leading into the next bit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have no idea. I just know, as a fan of both the comics and the movies, I walked away feeling respected and given everything I wanted. Now, what will be the fate of Captain America walking into the next Avengers movie?


#WhoWins #NotTheFans #Marvel

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If it involves comic books, you know I’ll be the first in line. They were the medium that taught me how to read, and to this day, I see one with a bent page and I suffer a little death on the inside. While I have never been a consistent reader of DC comics, I couldn’t say no to seeing Dawn of Justice on opening weekend with my geek posse. The trailers promised an action packed movie of superheroes duking it out for two hours. What we got was like seeing a comic with a bent page, death on the inside.

The errors contained in this movie started before I reached the theater. The obsession with the movie’s marketing team to release a new trailer each week for months got to the point where only the last twenty minutes was left out. The fundamental issue is not with the movie itself, but with the concept that Superman wouldn’t instantly pulverize Batman. Mr. Lasereyes could fly a mile away and just saw through the Dark Knight while knitting his mother a nice afghan. And before somebody jumps in and says, “Superman wouldn’t do something so evil,” you forget his fight with Zod ended in a guy getting his neck broken and the property damage slaughtering thousands kind of removes the “good guy” arguments. Superman got the gritty treatment and his righteousness was left behind in the pages of comics.

Spoilers Begin Here

Batman vs. Superman, I mean really, who needs anything more? Two heroes duking it out until something big and bad forces them to team up (it’s actually Wonder Woman’s miniskirt that does it I think.) Zack Snyder has a shaky past, Dawn of the Dead = win, 300 = win, Watchmen = win for me, loss for the masses, Legend of the Guardians = did anybody actually see this? Sucker Punch = pretty, but a loss. He has experience, but nothing went right in this movie for me. The action sequences were shot in a way that kept the camera moving so quickly that you could never actually see the action. When the camera slowed, it was either so dark or so close, we were never sure what was happening. The one sequence in which we see Batman fighting is on an alternate Earth using a flash forward and a flash sideways at the same time. In a very short sequence we discover that Ben Affleck is either too old to fight or incapable (despite the work out montage which proves Affleck has abs.) The dark lighting is similar to Dark Knight, but somebody forgot to tell Snyder that the audience needs a light source to see the fighting. I can’t blame him for the dream sequence, the flash backs, the flash forwards, the non linear story telling or the alternate dimension, that I’ll blame on the writers, producers, and DC. Were there any story telling techniques left?

Cavill has a moral dilemma and we get a story that resembles Watchmen, the overall theme says, “Who watches the Watchmen?” He brings back the same Superman we saw in Man of Steel, however the majority of my issues revolve around Affleck. While I was okay with all characters in their secret identities, when Affleck suited up and became Batman, it was difficult to buy into him being the Dark Knight. The suit looked like a massive rubber suit and I found myself asking, “How the hell does this man move in this? Was it rubber injection? Does he bounce?”

Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor made me nervous in the previews, but his level of crazy genius in the movie made me think he had some talent. Even though his involvement in creating Doomsday was lackluster at best, his level of crazy was acceptable. And other than Superman being a challenge, his motivation to take down the “god” was ambiguous at best. His primary purpose in the movie was trying to get an importing license, and then when that goes south, he decides he’ll go into an alien ship, make a super creature, and get crazier. But we’ll ignore the million plot holes that gets created with his character.

If you snoozed through the first two hours, you’re okay, it’s the last twenty minutes that you wake up for. This is when Wonder Woman appears, shield and sword in hand and prepared to fight. Between the creative use of her bracers or her unbreakable lasso, we get just enough of her that we see her steal the battle. I can’t remember her speaking, I just remember her being the perfect Wonder Woman.

During the two-hour and twenty-minute trailer for the Justice League, we had high hopes for the cameos of other superheroes. While we did get a glimpse of the Flash, Cyborg (who gives away the big bad for Justice League), and Aquaman, the method of delivery was pretty sad at best. Let’s slap a few files on a flash drive and watch as people click-through each video. I would have been more amused if Princess Diana turned on her TV and it was a trailer for each upcoming movie.

I had high hopes for Ben Affleck, I would have even been happy with his level of action considering his version of Daredevil. But on every level, the movie only is considered good because I lowered my expectations to such a degree it had no place to go but up. However, despite all that, I still think this movie falls on a level between the horribleness Daredevil and Elektra. Now maybe we can get over this bad build up and just get right to the Justice League movie. We’ll cross our fingers that it delivers.


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