Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It’s been a little over two weeks since its release, so I think it’s fair to finally talk about it. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was created with the goal of making us DC fans bust a collective nut at finally seeing Batman and Superman on-screen together. The technology and budgets have finally aligned to grant this wish, but it begs the questions, “where is a towel,” and more importantly, “Is this the Batman/Superman crossover that we’ve been waiting for?”

Presentation1

WARNING!!! Now before I go any further, I will probably spoil a lot of this movie. Like…a staggering amount. The kind of stuff that if I told you two weeks ago, by internet law you would have the right to remove a pinky Yakuza style. I’m exaggerating, but if you are worried about spoilers, please wait before reading this review. My personal, spoiler-free recommendation is to catch a matinee, grab a bite before (this movie is quite long), and to leave after the credits begin…there will not be any post-credit sequence. Affleck is awesome as Batman and Wayne, the action is great, and despite a disjointed story, is still a fun watch.

Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is DC’s attempt at launching a movie universe similar to Marvel with director Zack Snyder at the helm. The plot is very loosely based on Frank Millar’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Side note, I highly recommend reading this book or watching the animated movie. It is an awesome read and a great watch for any DC or comic book fan, but I digress. Oddly enough, this begins shortly after if not concurrently with 2013’s Man of Steel, another Zack Snyder joint. This is important to remember as it sets the tone for his future movies in this franchise. I mentioned the source material as the timelines and motivations are drastically different between the two works. I’ll have a separate post up soon about the differences between the live-action and animated films, but let’s focus on Dawn of Justice for now. I’ll bring up some of the differences later in this review as well.

Batman/Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) has about fifteen to twenty years of Batmanning under his utility belt and Superman/Clark Kent (played by Henry Cavill) is brand new on the scene. The first time we see Bruce is him in Metropolis rushing towards a Wayne Company office to evacuate(?) his employees and to save whoever he can during the end of Man of Steel. He actually witnesses Superman and Zod (played by Michael Shannon) fighting is the air and wrecking his tower. Seeing the loss of life and his inability to do anything in the face of this god sends him in a rage and motivates him to begin working on taking him down. Now when I say “taking him down,” I mean killing him because Batman kills THE FUCK out of dudes in this movie. I don’t mean he reached out to grab a criminal and missed, I don’t mean he dropped a smoke bomb and the flash startled someone off a rooftop, and I don’t mean that he throws a batarang and accidentally hits someone in their carotid. Batman straight up shoots people…like with guns. Granted he doesn’t bring the guns, except for on his vehicles, but he uses the ones he gets off of his foes and without question or remorse gives their bodies some ventilation. Affleck plays what may become my favorite on-screen Batman to date, but I will admit that Batman’s actions aren’t very Batman. They pretty much mixed Batman’s budget with Rorschach and the Punisher. Snyder is depicting a Batman that’s becoming morally bankrupt, older, grizzled, angry, and tortured by too much loss over the years and Affleck nails this. We even see an old Robin suit in a case down in the Batcave covered in a message from the Joker. Forget a Justice League movie; I want to see what put Bruce over the edge and what happened to Robin in this world and shaped the Batman we saw on screen.

While we are on actors, let’s spend a little time on Cavill reprising his role as Superman. There is not much more to say if you saw Man of Steel. He has the build, but he is still kind of a whiny Superman. He puts so much weight on himself depending on what the public thinks of him. He even goes on hiatus for some time after his court hearing. You read me right…Superman goes to court. Thank goodness that everyone has hallucinations in this movie; otherwise, Costner wouldn’t have been able to talk him into donning his cape again. He doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but seeing as it’s kind of a sequel, that shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

One character who definitely did not get the screen time that they deserved was Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). There isn’t much to say about her at all unfortunately since she may have been on screen for a total of fifteen minutes and only five of those involved her speaking. For the little time we did see her, we can infer that she has a love for art and history, a huge stash of cash somewhere, and is a badass. I can only guess that she was there to also serve as a love interest for Bruce, but that is a huge disservice to Wonder Woman’s history. When she does appear in uniform on screen, it reminds you heavy handedly that this is a Zack Snyder film. Everything slows down, the screen goes all sepia toned, and the epic music starts playing. Sound familiar? It does make me want to see her own solo feature length film, so well done Snyder…well done.

Now, I’m about to tear into one actor in particular. Before I do, let’s do a quick rundown of some of the other big names. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) does well in her reprisal. She’s nosy, goes too far for her stories, has her emotional issues, but is strong enough to stand by Superman. Alfred J. Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) is awesome in the short time he is on screen. He is more active than the Alfreds of movies past, stitching him up, flying the Batwing, and giving advice. He reminds me of the Pennyworth from Batman Forever, but in a good way. He’s also very tongue and cheek about wanting Bruce to settle down and carry on the Wayne name. Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) is done in that he’s trying to sell papers in a world that’s going towards digital media. He’s a real bulldog, but has a lot of trust in his employees.

I do not think that a lot of people realized this when walking in, but Alexander “Lex” Luthor is not in this film. We are instead treated to Lex Luthor Jr. (Jesse Eisenberg). This was a huge change to what I was expecting and kind of made sense for his personality and acting decisions, but it was like seeing Eisenberg play Zuckerberg with a screw loose. When I think of Lex Luthor, I think of the three-piece power suit, broad shoulders, and wide chest, and a kind of arrogance that makes you think, “Fuck you, but he’s wearing a suit so he must know his shit.” There’s a charisma and vision that Lex Luthor has that makes you want to follow him…basically like Mussolini. Lex Jr. starts as the rich, entitled, trust-fund kid that happens to inherit his father’s intellect. As we progress into the movie, we see Jr. becoming less like a Luthor and more like the Riddler. I think Eisenberg would make an awesome Riddler; however, he fails as a Luthor to me. He doesn’t have the pedigree that you want from them and it makes a lot of the scenes with him feel out of place. I understand Snyder’s goal was to update Lex for this generation and to make him more like the millionaires and billionaires that…ugh…millennials (hate that term) would be more familiar with. The last decade thinks Vanderbilt and Rockefeller as what rich looks like; now people are starting to think Jobs and Zuckerberg, but to go and use the same actor from The Social Network is too on the nose; have some subtlety Snyder.

At its heart Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a comic book movie which means action. There are some very nice action scenes in this as well as some that leave you wishing there was more. Batman’s fights, on the ground at least, are very grungy and dirty. He gets real close and personal and there is very little use of any bat-gadget, except for his awesome power suit and red hot knuckle dusters. The Bat-knuckles ™ (that’s what I’m calling them and I call dibs on the trademark) literally brand the criminals he hits with them. UntitledThis brand marks these criminals and they get jumped, attacked, and even killed in prison. I’m not sure of whether Wayne has some secret mob in prison to kill the ones he doesn’t have time to kill, remember that this Batman kills THE FUCK outta dudes, but I wouldn’t put it pass Snyder. He uses a mix of martial arts to damage and parry oncoming attacks and to steal the guns off of his enemies to, you know, KILL THE FUCK OUT OF THEM! When he gets into a vehicle – Batmobile, Batwing, or the Bat Power suit – he is a force of destruction. The amount of guys he shoots or blows up is weird to see from Batman. There’s no bat themed hook to capture anyone; however, there is a heavy machine gun that tears through trucks and criminals like their wet tissue paper.

Superman is akin to a barroom brawler in a classic western. He never really needed to learn to fight, so he depends heavily on power moves like huge overhead swings or the environment to win. You will see a lot of him pushing people into walls or throwing them across a room. He is the king of the “one-hitter- quitter”. Wonder Woman is a trained Amazon and her fighting, though short, really show this. She uses her shield and bracersto block most incoming attacks before stabbing with her sword. I really dug that she is smiling more during her fight than in the rest of the movie and her theme music is awesome. It was like her subtle way of showing that to know her true self, you need to see her in battle. Also, mad props for fighting in what’s basically a corset.

If you made it this far, first off thanks for hanging in there awesome person; secondly, this is where I’m about to spoil the ending so last chance to stop reading. We find Batman and Superman fighting due to Batman believing that Superman blew up the Supreme Court during his hearing. This was a plot by Lex Jr. to give Batman yet another reason to want to kill him with the huge block of kryptonite that he stole from him. A quick aside, Batman not only steals the rock, but he leaves a batarang in its place like Catwoman would do. Anyway, Superman wants to take him out because Lex has his mom kidnapped and will release her in exchange for Bruce’s head. Oh yes, Jr. figures out the secret identity which isn’t surprising; he’s seen macking on Lois too much as both Clark and Supes. I’d be surprised is Lois had a neighbor that didn’t know she bagged Superman and that he’s Clark Kent.

The fight ends before Batman finishes him off because he mentionsUntitled his mom’s name which makes him stop just long enough for Lois to beg him to stop.  You read this correctly; Batman goes “Wait, your mom’s name is Martha? My mom’s name was Martha. Let’s be buddies.” It’s one of the dumbest moments in the movie and makes you realize why his father calling out for her while dying was so heavy handed at the start of the flick. That’s a pretty anti-climactic until Lex Jr. makes Doomsday. Yes…Lex Jr. mixes his blood and Zod’s body in a Cthulhu/Matrix like pod to create the juggernaut know as Doomsday. How you create a stronger creature by mixing in weaker parts is beyond me, but here we are.

Now we get to some parts that are so off character that I get why it got some mixed reviews. During this fight, Batman actively and intentionally leads Doomsday into Gotham City to retrieve his kryptonite spear. In what world would Batman lead a walking tank into his city and why would Superman not protest at all? I get that Snyder needed a villain menacing enough to bring them all together, including Wonder Woman, but this breaks up the already disjointed plot too much. It becomes a confusing cocktail mixing the beginning of the Justice League, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Death of Superman. This would drive any comic purist up the wall, but if you don’t care about that kind of stuff we can move on. Oh right…Doomsday “kills” Superman. I could go further into this fight, but it was so tacked on and forced near the end that there isn’t much to say. It looks cool and it is worth watching.

I haven’t said much on the story holistically since it has done the miraculous in being both simple and confusing all at once; also, I haven’t written this much even in college.  At its most basic level, it breaks down as follows: Superman destroys Metropolis in order to save it, Batman doesn’t trust him, Lex Jr. wants him dead, Bruce steals Lex’s data, Diana steals stolen data, Superman gets set up by Jr., Supreme Court goes boom, Batman steals kryptonite, Lex makes them fight, Doomsday shows up, he kills Superman, and Batman and Wonder Woman talk about gathering super beings at one of his funerals. The plot itself is “simple” but then Snyder has weird stuff in this that is supposed to make you ask questions. We see Batman in a weird Mad Max style world buying Kryptonite, but it’s really a trap set by Superman’s army? 'Batman v Superman' is geen vervolg op 'Man of Steel'Then he wakes up before getting toasted with eye lasers which makes you think he’s dreaming. He may not be dreaming since the Flash shows up from the future(?) to tell him that Superman is dangerous “if she dies”? He is trying to build a universe for DC, but slow down on the future and alternate dimension stuff.

Where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice falls short in its plot, it
more than makes up for it with its over-the-top action scenes, effects, and Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman. It’s a bit disappointing as a fan because it had the potential for so much more story-wise. There is still a plan to continue with the DC extended universe; if you plan to catch more of these, do yourself a favor and give this a watch before they start churning out more in the franchise.

Life Lessons from Mal:

  1. Bat-Fleck is bad ass
  2. Lex Luther Jr…just why?
  3. Look forward to the Snyder-less Wonder Woman movie
  4. Wear earplugs in Metropolis because Superman flies of fast as hell and should probably be bursting eardrums.
  5. Super being + Human being = Ultra Being because reasons.
batman_v_superman___dawn_of_justice__poster_by_goxiii-d9rlcp3
Fully Mature Evaluation:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

PG-13 151 min - Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction - 23 March 2016

Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.

Director:  Zack Snyder
Stars:  Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto, Brandon Spink, Lauren Cohan, Michael Shannon, Michael Cassidy, Rebecca Buller, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Tj Norris, Harry Lennix, Christina Wren, Vikram Gandhi, Andrew Sullivan, Charlie Rose, Chad Krowchuk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Soledad O'Brien, Dana Bash, Carla Gugino, Kevin Costner, Nancy Grace, Anderson Cooper, Patrick Wilson, Joe Morton

Storyline

Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.


Tagline: Justice or revenge

Fantastic Four (2015)

In honor of this past weekend’s award ceremonies, I thought it would be proper to review one or two of this year’s biggest winners to congratulate them for their monumental achievements in movie making. First up, let’s congratulate Fantastic Four (2015) for taking home three Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Remake/Pre-Quel/Sequel/Rip-Off. Please enjoy as I take my medicine…

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Story
Fantastic Four (2015) is a Marvel movie based on the comic book series of the same name. Our young scientists Reed Richards (played by Miles Teller), Susan “Sue” Storm (Kate Mara), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) explore the possibility of shuttling organic matter across dimensions. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a fancy and over-used term for a people teleporter. Upon their first, and unauthorized, drunken expedition to the other dimension (dubbed Planet Zero) one member’s curiosity causes the planet to say “back up bro” and starts to attack them. They rush back to the pods and lose one member in the process (spoiler, they lose Doom). The pods malfunction and grant them the powers they are known for. Time passes and we find Ben becoming a tool for the government and tests being run on Johnny and Sue with Reed surprisingly absent. At the end, they find themselves back on Planet Zero to foil a plan by Dr. Doom (yes, he actually calls himself that) to destroy Earth via Black Hole.

Review
Let me begin by saying that this is not the worst iteration of the Fantastic Four done in live-action. Out of the four that I know of, this is probably the second most fantastic. That’s not to say that the most fantastic (Rise of the Silver Surfer) is a magnum opus either. This definitely has its share of issues – a huge one being it was made by Fox, no Stan Lee cameo, and no Stan Lee input – but let me be fair and start with its good points.

Something that a lot of movies, especially comic book movies, struggle with is the cause and effect of a character’s new abilities. Think of Spiderman; he gets bitten by a spider and gets increased strength and agility, spinnerets on his wrists (depending on the series) that allows him to shoot webs, some limited clairvoyance i.e. “Spidey Sense”, and wall crawling via tiny hairs on his feet and hands. We got a DNA graphic that was probably a Windows XP screensaver at one point, but no one explains why he doesn’t grow eyes or extra legs or why he doesn’t have to shoot webs out his ass like a real spider. I do like first two Spiderman and while we are on this, does New York have a cleaning crew to pick-up all of the webs? I mean somebody has to deal with it because the just leaves it everywhere, but I digress.

Fantastic Four instead tries to ground as much of this in “science” as they can. Writer and director Josh Trank accomplishes this by effectively ripping off David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) and asks, “What if they had other organic or even foreign matter in the teleporter when they return to Earth?” Just like in The Fly, they fuse with whatever else was in the pods that they didn’t come in. How the pod makes the determination as to what can and cannot bind with their DNA is beyond me, but maybe we’ll see it in the sequel or not. Keep reaching Reed…keep reaching.

Grimm’s pod gets clobbered by rocks, Johnny’s gets engulfed in flames, Sue’s pod gets filled with…invisible rocks. How did she get hers again?

Mal: Hey Stan (PremCast fact checker)
Stan: Yes, young hero?
M: You gotta stop calling me that. Anyway, how did Sue Storm get her powers again?
S: Excelsior!
M: Dammit! Focus Stan.
S: She was irradiated by the same cosmic rays that the other three were caught in.
M: Right, but I mean in the 2015 movie, not the books. Apparently she didn’t go to Planet Zero
S: Wait. What do you mean she didn’t go?
M: I fell asleep a few times, so I missing a few spots, but I don’t think she goes with them.
S: So they took a junkyard kid and a guy literally named Doom and not Sue? STAN SMASH!!!

hulk 1

M: OH GOD NO!!!

Since Stan was…less than helpful, the special features on the blu-ray say that she was caught in the explosion upon their return…so invisibility and force fields. Reed’s pod…one sec…hulk 2

Mal: Hey uh…Stan?

Stan: HRAAAAGH!!!

 

 

 

 

Reed had a Stretch Armstrong in his pocket for good luck or something. Trank obviously couldn’t find a way to justify Reed getting all stretchy. Instead they went, “OH LOOK…he’s on fire!” and cut to black. Doom’s are even harder to explain, but we can get to those later. They didn’t figure out the powers perfectly, but I will give Trank points for effort.
Explanations of the powers aside, I thought that how they depicted the abilities were different but still fantastic. Unlike the other three iterations of this team all four members are somewhat cursed by their powers instead of only Grimm. All of their suits, except for the Thing (who ironically doesn’t have one nor a suit), are built for function and containment. More on the suits in a bit, but not a single one of them appears to have perfect control over these abilities without the suits. When we first see them in the facility on the lab tables, Sue is going in and out of invisibility and Johnny is constantly on fire. This isn’t a fun, family romp that the last two iterations were. There is no a fan-base, no parade, no one cheering their names. Their powers are more in control of them than the other way around and a sense of normalcy like they once had is nothing more than a memory…until the sequel.

While we are on the suits, I think that the costume design was surprisingly well thought out. Grimm, Torch, and Sue are under the supervision during most of the time where they had powers. Johnny’s suit is similar to a racer’s fire suit with odd tubes that suggest some sort of cooling system to prevent him from constantly being on fire. It also has some controls that allow him to change his state. Sue’s costume has a lot of internal wiring that keeps her on the visible spectrum….yeah. Anyway Grimm is naked through the rest of the film. He does not have clothes, but what I like is that the rocks and boulders that make up his body grind and scrape as he moves. It’s subtle, but you can see the dust and sand made from just his moving. Their suits are very militaristic in look and design, but Reed’s is very different. He escaped the facility shortly after waking up and remains on the run from the government. He was constantly hopping countries so it would be safe to assume that he doesn’t have a steady job and cannot use any credit cards or I.Ds. Reed being fantastic at improvising makes his suit out whatever he can find at a junkyard or on the side of the street. It’s covered in random springs and rusted coils that look like he pulled them from washing machines and trampolines. The differences in the suits are big reflections as to what they had done and how life was for the past year.

Now that the good points are out of the way, let’s address the other 85% of 2015’s award-winning Fantastic Four. This is/was envisioned as a franchise and expected the audiences to become invested with the story and the brand new characters. What I mean to say is that this is yet another origin story. You should expect a ton of exposition with any origin story and Trank does a fantastic job at keeping that tradition alive. The pacing and action beats are terrible. The movie opens in 2007 with a twelve year old Reed Richards explaining his concept of his teleporter to his classmates and fifth grade teacher for career day. I get that you have to show his past, but not only do they go so far back, they stay there for around 15 minutes. Every second counts in a 100 minute film and this pre-cursor felt like it was used to pad out time to make it qualify as a feature length film. There is not an egregious amount of moments like this, but why start a movie with this? Who waits FORTY FIVE MINUTES to show any kind of action in a comic book movie? How can you wait seventy damn minutes for the Fantastic Four to actually get…well fantastic?

You know what; let’s skip to them actually completing the teleporter. That is a big chunk missing because nothing…NOTHING happens for a full thirty minutes before this point except for us realizing that Doom wants a piece of Sue. I will say this as best as I can; Sue Storm was unnecessary character as a whole. This sounds misogynist, but I put it to you dear listeners, other than the fact that she is canonically a part of the team, why is she there and what does she accomplish? Can you describe her personality? She was written in as a wedge between Doom and Richards and not much else. She had potential to be a strong character or at least a voice of reason. Instead she was used as the “honey pot.” There are a lot of inconsistencies amongst our protagonists and I could spend days going through them. Instead, I’ll finish this bottle, run through the horseshit, and call it quits. To sum this up; bad characters, terrible writing, terrible lighting, okay effects, and okay acting given the source material. Do yourselves a favor and avoid this flick and most things Marvel done by Fox or Sony. Just watch Daredevil on Netflix to restore your faith in Marvel. #not sponsored.

Life Lessons from Mal:
1. Never work with a guy named Doom
2. NEVER work with a guy named Doom
3. If you are working in a group, have either zero or more than one qualified woman. Otherwise one guy is going to get oddly jealous and try to strand you and your friends in another dimension or suck the planet into a black hole.
Total times I used the word Fantastic: 11

Poster for the movie "Fantastic Four"
Fully Mature Evaluation:

Fantastic Four (2015)

PG-13 100 min - Action, Adventure, Science Fiction - 5 August 2015

Four young outsiders teleport to a dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

Director:  Josh Trank
Stars:  Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Joshua Montes, Dan Castellaneta, Owen Judge, Kylen Davis, Evan Hannemann, Chet Hanks, Mary-Pat Green, Tim Heidecker, Mary Rachel Dudley, Wayne Pére, Rhonda Dents, Gretchen Koerner, Shauna Rappold, Adam Fristoe, Don Yesso, Jodi Lyn Brockton, Christopher Heskey, Jerrad Vunovich, Ravi Naidu

Storyline

Four young outsiders teleport to a dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.


Tagline: Change is coming.

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher

Story

Frank Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher) is hunting down a group selling high tech weapons that are tearing up his streets. After finding a location where a sale is happening, he makes an entrance and annihilates everyone except for the seller Cain. You have to keep one alive for questioning after all. After a “polite conversation” he manages to get a location out of him and is dragging him off for more information, maybe, and is interrupted by Black Widow.

We soon discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. was investigating Cain as part of a bigger operation to take down the terrorist organization, Leviathan. Punisher cuts a deal with Nick Fury to join the mission so he can get Cain and goes with Black Widow to find the weapons and suppliers. At the location Cain happily provided to Punisher before he escaped, they stumble across hundreds of bodies in pods being reconditioned to become stronger and act at the command of the highest bidder. Getting rid of one gun runner is the least of their problems.

Review

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher is the second straight-to-DVD movie in their Marvel Anime line. This movie came out years after their four short lived anime series went off air (R.I.P. G4).

Being a big anime fan, I am in love with this style and animation. The art is bright, vibrant, and colors give more depth than you will normally see in western cartoons. The design of the characters is very Japanese in how they view Americans. It is almost videogame like in character design from character to character akin to Dead or Alive. The Punisher, being an ex-Marine and bruiser, is built much like a football player. Black Widow, being the superspy, is thin and stacked svelte like a konoichi (that means lady ninja in Japanese – Life Lessons from Mal).

In the same line, the hand to hand fights are awesome, but scarcer than they should be. The first fight between Black Widow and The Punisher is dynamic and is a big difference from their previous movies. Her acrobatics are reminiscent of Naruto. She dances around him while dodging bullets and breaking holds.99983fef866941adea9c8fcc598c2464ef428183_hq

The Punisher’s fighting reminds me of Christian Bale’s moves in Equilibrium plus Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell game series. The camera changes and follows the muzzle of the gun as he fires to being like tied around her ankle and moving with her as she moves like a feather. There is another with Castle within S.H.I.E.L.D. that is cool, but they left me wanting even more.

The Punisher is voiced by Brian Bloom who does a lot of voice acting work for a lot of movies, television and games. His experience in the industry really shows in his performance. Bloom does a great job in making Punisher sound more like a troubled man on a mission following his own sense of justice versus an angry ex-soldier out to destroy the world. That takes real skill considering that Castle walks that thin line. After killing three S.H.I.E.L.D. agents under the influence of mind control at the time, you can hear the remorse and sadness in his voice as he surrenders himself to the next agents to enter. This was a “Save the Cat” moment that endeared you to this walking tank that puts no one above his sense of justice…not even himself.

Black Widow is voiced by Jennifer Carpenter who you might remember as Debra Morgan of Dexter fame. Her voice acting resume is not as long as Blooms, but she definitely holds her own as Agent Romanoff. She sounds strong and confident in her skills as a spy almost bordering on arrogant as well as determined to complete her mission. The best examples are probably her first fights with The Punisher. The first was showing off her skills and fearlessness even when The Punisher has two guns aimed and firing upon her. They also make an effort to make her less of the superspy and to show her vulnerable side when she discovers a lover of hers, whom she believed to be dead, is alive and working for Leviathan. She hesitates and pulls her punches, which is odd for Black Widow, but Carpenter brings this out perfectly in her portrayal.

There isn’t a lot to say about him, but Nick Fury is in this movie and sounds like Sam Jackson. He was actually voiced by John Eric Bentley and he does well. His performance does make me want to see another movie centered around Nick Fury unless The Hoff is the lead, however he would be an awesome cameo. It can’t be that hard to have a mission in Germany, right?

As a big DC fan, I will admit that I found this entry from Marvel Anime awesomely entertaining. The animation in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher was great, the story was interesting, and the characters endearing. This is a must see for any comic book or anime fan. If you just appreciate good animation and want to see what can be done, this is a great example of how far they have evolved and how much further they can go (hint to DC…make a Green Lantern: Blackest Night animé). Hopefully Marvel will make more movies in the Avengers Confidential series and finally kill the Marvel Knights motion comics.

Poster for the movie ""
Fully Mature Evaluation:

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014)

PG-13 83 min - Animation, Science Fiction, Action - 25 March 2014

After interfering with a top secret mission, THE PUNISHER is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT and AVENGER, BLACK WIDOW. At the orders of Director Nick Fury, Punisher and Black Widow are sent on a mission to stop LEVIATHAN, a global terrorist organization, that plans to sell stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to the highest bidder. Now, the vigilante and spy must work together to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands. The fate of the world, and of the AVENGERS, hangs in the balance.

Director:  Kenichi Shimizu

Storyline

After interfering with a top secret mission, THE PUNISHER is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT and AVENGER, BLACK WIDOW. At the orders of Director Nick Fury, Punisher and Black Widow are sent on a mission to stop LEVIATHAN, a global terrorist organization, that plans to sell stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to the highest bidder. Now, the vigilante and spy must work together to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands. The fate of the world, and of the AVENGERS, hangs in the balance.



Tagline: All-New Marvel Animated Movie

Superman: Doomsday

Jimmy: OH MY GOD! He killed Superman!

Lois: YOU BASTARD!

Story

A genetically modified creature is unearthed during an illegal LexCorp dig. This creature, Doomsday, was sent to Earth thousands of years before. Not because its creators wanted to destroy the planet, but because they couldn’t kill it. Doomsday kills the workers that accidentally set him free and he paves a road of bodies on his way to Metropolis.

Meanwhile, Superman is in the Fortress of Solitude with Lois Lane on vacation. A quick Life Lesson from Mal, you don’t bring your woman to the FOS after six months. Always wait nine months minimum. Back to the story, Superman’s robutler (short for robot butler) informs him of the emergency back in Metropolis. This looks like a job for Superman.

Review

Superman: Doomsday was a good start for DC’s re-entry into the animated movie world releasing one year after Marvel’s first animated movie. The film’s core is based on the book The Death of Superman in which, SPOILER ALERT, Superman dies in.

It happens in the first thirty minutes, including opening credits so don’t worry. There is a lot more plot to be seen and it gets interesting as the movie continues especially after he comes back (or does he?).

Superman/Clark Kent is voiced by Adam Baldwin. He does a great job and delivers the strong voice and confident personality that you would expect from him. He sounds very genuine whether it’s his concern telling Lois his secret identity or reassuring the citizens how he is there to keep them safe. On the other hand, Lois Lane, voiced by Anne Heche, comes off as very flat for most of the film. She comes into character more as the film progresses and her scene with Martha Kent near the middle is her best scene. A weird thing is that Lois is almost treated as a side chick through the first quarter of the movie. Didn’t really have a point there other than I find it hilarious.

Lex Luthor, voiced by James Marsters, was probably too evil as a villain. It sounds weird, but he displayed more villainy in this movie compared to the combined evil of Lex in the animated series, Smallville (that’s not saying much), and the first movie. The best example is that he finds a cure for a muscular disease and gives it to his assistant. Not to cure it, but so that his scientists can turn that sure into a lifetime treatment. This new project was put on hold because his best scientist was doing the same for AIDs. He is arrogant, unapologetic, and gets a chub when contemplating ways to kill Superman. In short, the perfect comic book Lex Luthor.

The music score is classic and reminiscent of the animated series if you add a few years to everyone. Superman’s theme being the loud trumpet and trombone fanfare that let you know, “Your hero has arrived.” The animation and art style is simple, but well done. The fight scenes are built like comic panels so don’t expect The Raid: Redemption when you watch these fight scenes. They are constructed as very simple fist fights and a lot of off camera sounds fill in the blanks. It does make sense because Superman is in no way a martial artist. He hits things and they break so look forward to a super-powered bar room brawl.

Two big themes in Superman: Doomsday are dealing with loss and how a sense of duty can be twisted when given too much power. What do you do when your best friend gets beaten to death? Apparently a lot of drinking and, if you’re Jimmy Olsen, you take a job with TMZ and start wearing silk suits.  If you want to see a warped sense of power you’ll have to watch the movie. I promise that you won’t regret it.

This was a good first start for DC heading into the straight-to-dvd film realm. A great story, decent themes, and good acting makes this a must watch for any DC fan. The fight scenes do leave a lot to be desired, but this will improve in future DC projects. If you had an itch for something animated by DC since Justice League: Unlimited has gone off air, then this is definitely worth the watch.

Poster for the movie ""
Fully Mature Evaluation:

Superman: Doomsday (2007)

PG-13 75 min - Animation, Science Fiction, Action - 18 September 2007

When LexCorps accidentally unleash a murderous creature, Doomsday, Superman meets his greatest challenge as a champion. Based on the "The Death of Superman" storyline that appeared in DC Comics' publications in the 1990s

Director:  Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm
Stars:  Adam Baldwin, Anne Heche, James Marsters, John Di Maggio, Swoosie Kurtz, Tom Kenny, Ray Wise, Cree Summer, Adam Wylie, Chris Cox, Hettie Lynne Hurtes, James Arnold Taylor, Townsend Coleman, Kimberly Brooks

Storyline

When LexCorps accidentally unleash a murderous creature, Doomsday, Superman meets his greatest challenge as a champion. Based on the "The Death of Superman" storyline that appeared in DC Comics' publications in the 1990s



Tagline: Where were you the day Superman died?

After (2012)

After is going to be a difficult movie to review without giving away too many spoilers. So I’m going to dive right into my initial thoughts and later, after some disclaimers, I’ll discuss with spoilers.

One of the fun things about After is that it’s difficult to know what to expect from the movie if you just read over the synopsis. This is cool sometimes but it can also make you a bit hesitant to begin watching. But let me ease your mind: You’ll know if you want to continue watching about 20 minutes in. The movie has some nice surprises in it but plot is not one of them…

after2012_2

This isn’t anywhere near a 10/10 type of movie but I do recommend that you watch it. There aren’t a ton of movies just like it and they toy with some pretty neat ideas. The characters actually grow throughout the film and, believe it or not, you do actually care about them a little by the end. That’s already way more than we can say about most movies nowadays.


 

SPOILERS BELOW

 

Before the movie makes its big reveal you’ve probably already come up with so many theories. Or, rather, movies… Night of the Comet? Day After Tomorrow? Walking Dead? Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind? The Others?

Well, if you guess Eternal Sunshine like I did you were right and probably a little worried. That’s a difficult movie to emulate much less turn into a horror flick.

after2012_3Fortunately the writers decided to not cling to tightly to its predecessor. In some areas I’m sure you wish they had — like the ridiculous looking monster.
I’m sure they were proud of him but he’s probably the biggest plot hole in the movie. Starting with: “Why the hell is that thing there?”

There are, naturally, other plot holes in the film or, rather, other things they didn’t bother discussing like how the two become mind melded anyway. But this is actually to the writer’s credit. It leaves you a little something to wonder about. Besides, it’s not “breaky”.  Freddy and Ana were tied together by a past event that changed the course of their lives and again in an event that nearly ends it.

after2012

The ending was perhaps a bit cheesy but I thought it wrapped things up nicely. Despite parts of the movie that droned on and felt a little lengthy, the ending at least made you feel better about the direction of the movie. It’s not an entirely happy ending but, in the grand scheme of things, it’s relatively realistic.

Poster for the movie "After"
Fully Mature Evaluation:

After (2012)

PG-13 90 min - Mystery, Thriller - 14 September 2012

When two bus crash survivors awake to discover that they are the only people left in their small town, they must form an unlikely alliance in a race to unravel the truth behind their isolation. As strange events begin to unfold, they start to question whether the town they know so well is really what it seems.

Director:  Ryan Smith
Writers:  Ryan Smith
Stars:  Steven Strait, Karolina Wydra, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Ric Reitz, Jackson Walker, Madison Lintz, Bob Penny, April Billingsley, Jennifer Spriggs, Tyrin Niles Wyche

Storyline

When two bus crash survivors awake to discover that they are the only people left in their small town, they must form an unlikely alliance in a race to unravel the truth behind their isolation. As strange events begin to unfold, they start to question whether the town they know so well is really what it seems.


Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Noah (2014)

This was one of the most anticipated films of the 2014!
Ok, that was a lie… Moses would be displeased. Or would he? I think Moses just feels pity for poor Noah who finally got a film named after him and it ended up being… all washed up.

We’ve talked pretty extensively on this podcast before about Hollywood’s propensity towards the ever-popular white washing of the past’s heroes and characters. But this cast though? Maybe they went a tad overboard?

Ok, so there were probably no white people back then. Fine. That’s probably not even the biggest bit of artistic expression in the film. One thing we know is that bible-inspired movies tend to rake in a ton of money from Christian movie goers. Of course, you could make a mistake like the most recent Left Behind movie featuring Nicolas Cage. Which is exactly what this movie did. And very well. To be fair, both of these movies released in 2014 so it wasn’t like Noah could have taken note and reversed course. I honestly don’t think they would have even tried given half a chance.

The mistake that I’m alluding to is the creation of a movie whose contents mostly only Christians are going to have any interest in watching and then taking a exegetical dump of biblical proportions all over it.

To start with, Noah was bat-shit crazy. And I don’t mean like everyone else thought he was crazy because he was building a boat the size of the temple of Babel (spoilers, that hadn’t happened yet…). But because he was literally off his rocker.

Oh, and rock angels.

Not this bro:

This bro:

Even after all that you’re thinking, “But it’s got the beauty and grace of Jennifer Connelly in it!”
Yes… yes it does. But so did the Hulk movie.
uglyhulk

Poster for the movie "Noah"
Fully Mature Evaluation:

Noah (2014)

PG-13 139 min - Adventure, Drama - 26 March 2014

A man who suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood.

Director:  Darren Aronofsky
Writers:  Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Stars:  Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Kevin Durand, Ariane Rinehart, Douglas Booth, Marton Csokas, Dakota Goyo, Barry Sloane, Sami Gayle, Mark Margolis, Ray Winstone, Nick Nolte, Finn Wittrock

Storyline

A man who suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood.



Tagline: The end of the world is just the beginning.

Genres: Adventure, Drama

Left Behind (2014)

We talked about this movie over the course of several podcast, never having ever actually watched it and never wanting to really add it to the list for premature evaluation.
But I did finally get around to watching this movie. And let me tell you…. it was everything we thought it would be.
It’s a movie geared towards Christians in content only. The execution is going to leave a bit to be desired of the church-folk. The portrayal of fundamentalist believers isn’t that much different that you’d expect from any other big-budget Hollywood film. Which is actually quite surprising.
I expected some very cheesy moments, terrifically eloquent speeches and easy conversions but this movie put none of that in the Christian’s corner. Instead, the believers looks something more like you’d expect to see on an episode of Supernatural or X-Files. They were paranoid, self-conscious, a 80% crazy but, it turns out 100% right.

When dozens of passengers disappear off of a plane mid-flight it is Nicolas Cage’s character, Rayford Steele, that puts the pieces together to solve the puzzle. They were all Christians! And how does he know? THEY ALL HAD CRUCIFIXES AND POCKET BIBLES! Oh, well, duh, that was easy.

This is movie is based off of the popular Left Behind series. You can check out their website here (which hasn’t been updated since before the Nick Cage movie came out…). Which is just lazy. UNLESS….. The webdeveloper has been raptured!

I hope not… because if so, what happens next is truly terrifying. We’ll get to learn more when the sequels come out. Or you read the books or watch the previous set of movies or ask someone with a oddly small bible in the jeans pocket.

-AveryJ

Poster for the movie "Left Behind"
Fully Mature Evaluation:

Left Behind (2014)

PG-13 110 min - Action, Science Fiction, Thriller - 3 October 2014

A small group of survivors are left behind after millions of people suddenly vanish during the rapture and the world is plunged into chaos and destruction.

Director:  Vic Armstrong
Writers:  Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

Storyline

A small group of survivors are left behind after millions of people suddenly vanish during the rapture and the world is plunged into chaos and destruction.


Collections: Vic Armstrong

Tagline: The End Begins