Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

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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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Robert Kirkman’s latest foray into television comes in the form of the new Cinemax horror series Outcast. Based on Kirkman’s comic series of the same name, the show focuses on loner Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) as he tries to live his life out of sight from the rest of his small town community. The episode gives us glimpses of Kyle’s troubled relationship with his mother when he was younger, while at the same time introducing us to another young boy who has started to show some tremendously serious signs of violence and aggression. These mannerisms are quite similar to the ones that Kyle saw in his mother. The local clergyman, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), sets out to help the young boy, which eventually draws Kyle’s attention. It isn’t long until some of the former details of Kyle and the Reverend’s relationship are revealed, as well as Kyle’s abilities to deal with the darkness around him.

The story starts out a little slow, but about midway through the episode, as certain pieces fall into place, it starts to become more and more interesting. As the relationships between the characters are revealed, we figure out that there is a long and sordid history to this story that I can only hope will be unwound as the series goes on. However, one element that is present right from the start is the fear factor. The first scene of this first episode (much like Kirkman’s other TV series, The Walking Dead) establishes that the creators will pull no punches. They’re not going to go easy on their viewers, and I can respect that. The overall tone of this episode remains creepy from that first moment on, with quick cuts, dark settings, and just a generally unnerving feel.

The actors here manage a solid performance. The story obviously focuses on Fugit as Kyle and, for the most part, he plays the downtrodden loner role pretty well. He makes it clear that he would rather be stuck in his home, even if it’s not the nicest of places, rather than out and interacting with the rest of the world. Glenister’s portrayal of the reverend with flaws also resonates here. We can see through those flaws to the man that just wants to do some good with his life before he dies. Even if that good is fighting demons. However, the real standout of this first episode is child actor Gabriel Bateman. His portrayal of the aforementioned violent and possessed child is downright chilling.

Overall, this was not a perfect pilot episode. It took a little while to get going, which I feel hindered it some, but once it got up and running the strong performances of its lead actors really kept it going.

The Verdict for Outcast, Episode 1:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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It’s here, it’s here! Marvel’s big Summer event series has arrived. Time to find out if it lives up to the hype.

After the Avengers are able to preemptively stop a massive attack from happening due to some information from the Inhumans, Iron Man hosts a party in Stark Tower and invites all of the heroes who helped save the day. The heroes learn just how the Inhumans learned about the attack and the revelation immediately causes some skepticism and dissension among the costumed adventurers. The conflict is presented immediately, the battle lines are drawn, and the casualties begin to mount a lot quicker than you might expect.

As previously mentioned, writer Brian Michael Bendis wastes no time in getting right into the the conflict for this series, and honestly, I’m okay with that. We don’t really need grand introductions to these characters’ mentalities and reasons for why they feel their way is best. If you step back and look at each side, you ultimately have to admit that both make valid arguments. I also have to give proper kudos to Bendis for coming up with a genuine, morally thought-provoking conflict for the heroes to fight over. That couldn’t have been easy following the landmark Civil War series from the last decade. What I was very surprised by were how quickly the casualties arrive. I would not have expected that kind of action for at least another issue or two.

David Marquez’s artwork is very clean. There isn’t a lot of huge action in this issue, but the little bit that we do get is well drawn. However, I think Marquez’s true talent is in the up close and personal scenes, of which we do get quite a few here. He has a real talent for wringing emotion and drama out of character faces. For an issue where the last few pages are both emotional and dramatic, that talent came in quite handy.

Admittedly, I’ve been pretty critical of Bendis’ ability to write a solid event book in the past, but this one seems to be off to a pretty good start. Which is equally impressive considering the long shadow of the previous Civil War event series and this Summer’s blockbuster MCU movie as well. The interesting premise combined with Marquez’s solid artwork should hopefully make for a series that can live up to it’s name. I look forward to reading the next few issues.

The Verdict for Civil War II #1:
4 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.