Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

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One of the darkest chapters in Batman lore has received its very own adaptation from DC’s famed and often celebrated animation line. But does The Killing Joke live up to previous classic Bat-animations like Mask of the Phantasm, and the more recent Dark Knight Returns?

Seeing how this is a classic Batman-Joker story, with classic Batman and Joker voice actors, what could possibly go wrong? Right? That’s how I went into this one anyway. Unfortunately, my high expectations left me rather disappointed. I guess I’ll just get right to it. The screenwriters for this movie completely broke Alan Moore’s story. I understand that it’s a short story, and that it would have to be fluffed out to make a feature film, but if you’re going to make the commitment to film it, the least you could do is not screw it up. In Moore’s story, Barbara Gordon may have just been a side character to move the plot forward, but they’ve somehow managed to make that worse. The first thirty minutes of this movie is a kind of prologue to the actual story of The Killing Joke, and to be honest, it’s one that doesn’t work well at all. It feels like something completely separate, mostly because it is. That half hour could have been completely removed and the movie would have been much better for it.

Now for the good parts. As always, when you have such professionals as Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker), a large part of the story and quality of the film is going to hinge on their performances. Both do an excellent job here. Hamill’s Joker is as chilling as ever and Conroy’s Batman is perhaps his most stoic performance of the character. Sometimes Conroy even came off a bit too stoic for me with a few line deliveries that were kind of flat for my liking. Those minor few instances aside, the voice actors are what kept this from being a total travesty.

Overall, I was really disappointed with this one. The source material and the voice cast set my expectations pretty high, but the way the screenwriters totally butchered the story left a very sour taste in my mouth. I know Alan Moore is typically not a fan of his work being adapted, so much so that he refuses to have his name credited on the movie adaptations, this one was no exception, and honestly, I can’t say that I blame him.

The Verdict for Batman: The Killing Joke:
2 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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The ninth installment of the X-Men cinematic franchise (Origins: Wolverine counts… as much as I would prefer it didn’t) has landed with today’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Set ten years after the events of Days of Future Past, Professor Xavier has built himself a bustling school for mutant children, Mystique is helping mistreated mutants find asylum in an underground society, and Magneto is trying to stay under the radar in the Polish countryside. However, all of their plans go awry when an ancient, god-like power resurfaces after several thousand years.

This movie is VERY full. Full of everything; characters, plot threads, fight scenes. At times it does seem a little overwhelming, but it never got to the point of utter confusion from being overstuffed. There is only one element that I feel could definitely have been cut out, as its only real purpose is to set up for the next chapter in the franchise. Other than that, the story threads were many, but cohesive, and mostly necessary. My biggest complaint is Apocalypse himself, not so much his look, which I didn’t mind, but his character. He never really comes across as that larger than life figure he is in the comics, and I feel like that’s probably what hurts this movie most. Also, for a character so heavily featured in the trailers, Psylocke gets surprisingly little screen time.

The acting is mostly good, although I can’t help but feel that Jennifer Lawrence phoned it in as Mystique in a few scenes. She just seemed kind of bored for most of the movie. McAvoy and Fassbender are still great as Professor X and Magneto, and are worthy successors (or would it be precursors?) to the roles that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen defined nearly two decades ago. Many of the new young actors also do a really great job portraying their respective characters.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I went in with pretty low expectations and came out of the theater feeling satisfied. It certainly doesn’t match the quality and experience of First Class or Days of Future Past, but it doesn’t fail miserably either as some final acts of trilogies have done before, I’m looking your way Last Stand.

The Verdict for X-Men: Apocalypse:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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So, the second big superhero faceoff movie of the summer is here, and it is an overwhelming experience. Does that equate to a cinematic success, or an overburdened stumble? You’ll have to keep reading to find out!

Captain America: Civil War begins with an operation in Nigeria to capture Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones. The plan goes south and results in the deaths of many civilians, and in the wake of the previous destruction New York (Avengers), Washington, DC (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Sokovia (Avengers: Age of Ultron), the United Nations drafts a resolution to keep powered individuals in check and hold them responsible for their actions. This film is the culmination of eight years of Marvel Cinematic Universe story lines. I sincerely mean that. There are story threads here that started in the very first Iron Man movie and have worked their way through most of the films since.

The Russo brothers craft an intense action epic here. The fight set-pieces are over the top and everything that I would expect from a large-scale superhero film. But it’s not all fighting, there’s a deeper emotional element to the movie as well. Captain America (Chris Evans) stands firm on the idea that the Avengers are best left alone, and not at the mercy of a UN task force who picks and chooses where they should and should not intervene. On the other hand Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), suffers from immense guilt after the events of Age of Ultron and argues that the heroes need some rules and guidelines to live by. It’s so difficult to pick a side and deem one as the “bad guy” because both of their arguments have merit, and that’s where the true conflict of this story lies.

Evans and Downey give solid performances as the two leads, and the personal conflict between their two characters is realistic. However, the true standout performance in this movie is Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther. The character gets a fitting introduction, and Boseman plays him well, often stealing scenes from some of the other heavy hitters in the film. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is a fun and light-hearted take on the character, and the young actor plays it well, even if the character’s inclusion in the film feels just slightly tacked on.

I do have a couple of complaints about the movie. For one, I feel the writers played the story a little too safely. I almost wish they would have taken a few more risks and made the stakes for these characters a little higher. A little more uncertainty would definitely make the future of the franchise a little more fun to anticipate. Secondly, while I feel the movie worked as a whole, parts of it did seem a little overstuffed. Not nearly to the extent of certain other superhero movies this year *cough*BatmanvsSuperman*cough*, but crowded nonetheless.

At the end of the day, Disney, Marvel, and the Russos prove that a big budget hero vs. hero movie can work, but it’s not something that can be done overnight.  As I mentioned before, Civil War is the culmination of nearly a decade of story lines. These characters have known and interacted with one another frequently in that time span, tensions and relationships have been built, and that makes a whole lot more sense than these icons just instantly hating one another. It’s not without its flaws, but it sure was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

The Verdict for Captain America: Civil War:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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The first big superhero fight movie of the year has arrived, but is it the movie powerhouse that we all expected it to be, or does it crumble beneath the weight of its own hype? Guess you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice begins eighteen months after the events of Man of Steel. An aging Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has been practicing his Batman style vigilantism in Gotham City for about twenty years. He also happened to be in Metropolis on the day that Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod had their catastrophic fight that leveled many city blocks. Bruce is fully aware of the destruction that these super-powered aliens can cause. Their immense power is also noticed by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who views it as a tremendous threat to humanity, and actively searches for a way to keep such power in check.

Ok. Where to start. I guess the story itself. The plot and pacing for this movie are all over the place. Within the first ten minutes, we’ve already been whisked to at least four different settings and time periods. Scenes are obviously short, so there’s no real way to get a grasp of the characters. We only get vague notions of their motivations, mostly because we already know who these characters are from decades of other stories in other media. The movie tries to be a form of Batman origin story, but the attempt comes off half-hearted, mainly because it feels so rushed. The inspiration for Batman’s origin very clearly comes from Frank Miller’s iconic Dark Knight Returns mini-series, as do many other elements in the movie. I feel, if the storyline had been more focused on that work, rather than trying to merge it with another famous DC Comics storyline, and establishing the existence of other heroes in the universe, it may have been served a little better. Which brings me to yet another point, this movie is incredibly overstuffed. We already have the titanic figures that are Batman and Superman, but then Wonder Woman (played by Gal Godot) gets thrown into the mix, plus the introduction of other heroes, plus the plot of the antagonist. It’s just too much. It suffers from the same fate that ultimately doomed Amazing Spider-Man 2, too much going on, not enough substance and characterization. So many elements could have been trimmed down to make a tighter, more personal movie.

On to the acting. This was actually one of the brighter spots in the movie. Ben Affleck is definitely NOT the worst Batman ever, that honor still belongs to George Clooney. Affleck does a pretty good job in the role, to be honest. I just wish there were more of him AS Batman. Cavill reprises his role as the big blue boy scout, and plays the part about as well as he did the first time around, so no real complaints there. Godot as Wonder Woman holds her own, but again, the character felt kind of tacked on. Now to the one blemish, Eisenberg’s Luthor. I’m not really sure what he was going for with this portrayal, it kind of felt like a mash up of Heath Ledger’s psychotic Joker and Kevin Spacey’s own version of Luthor from Superman Returns. There are moments where Eisenberg is trying to play up sinister sarcasm or wit, and it just come off laughable.

There are two things at which director Zack Snyder excels; action and making a movie look good. It definitely has his signature style with its slick visuals and massive action set pieces. And to that end, the movie looks amazing. The fight scenes are spectacular and on a similar scale to the ones seen in 2013’s Man of Steel. Larger than life characters throwing haymakers across a cityscape and hurtling into one another makes for an interesting fifteen to twenty minutes, but over the course of a two and a half hour movie, it can’t really support the whole production on its own.

Overall, it’s not as bad as the other reviews are making it out to be, but it’s certainly not a movie that I would consider good either. For the most part, it’s all style with very little substance, kind of like firing blanks from a gun; you get the flash, you get the bang, but there’s no payoff at the other end.

The Verdict for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.