Posts Tagged ‘Superheroes’

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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

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

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.

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The biggest Marvel event in years continues.  Secret Wars #2 is here.  Can it match the greatness of the series first issue?  Let’s find out.

Before moving on, if you haven’t already read my review for issue #1, go ahead and check it out here:
https://kdubsgeekspot.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/review-secret-wars-1/

As we found out in last week’s debut issue, the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe have collided and shattered one another.  In this week’s issue, we’re introduced to “Battleworld,” which Marvel says will be the new status quo for their comics.  The story here serves as a general introduction and overview of Battleworld, which seems to be ruled over by one of the more famous villains in Marvel’s history… no spoilers from me! 😛 Although if you read issue one, it’s not difficult to figure out which one is seemingly pulling the strings.  The main takeaway from this book is how the law works on this world.  There is a planetary police force composed of several different Thors (totally not kidding), who enforce the rules and do the general bidding of the planet’s supreme ruler.  Disputes are settled in a court, where one of two options is available; a civil conclusion where the offending party is forced to give something up, OR a fight to the death.  Parties who really piss off the planet’s ruler are sent to “The Shield,” which is a wall that separates the civilized nations of Battleworld from some of the more monstrous hordes from Marvel’s past, like the Marvel Zombies, just to name one.  Here, they are exiled to an almost certain death.  The general setup of this world is pretty similar to the world of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series.

Jonathan Hickman’s storytelling brilliance continues in this issue.  He successfully weaves the intricate relationships between nations on Battleworld with what seems to be a long and rich history in only a few short pages.  There’s no question that he has created an immensely interesting setting for this event to take place in, and I’m certain that if the writing on the series continues to be this good for the duration, there’s absolutely no reason why this won’t become an instant modern classic.  There’s really not much more I can say about it.

Esad Ribic’s artwork is also fantastic yet again.  He seems to do his best work on an epic scale such as this.  Watching the story bloom from panel to panel as he draws it is like watching history unfold in front of your eyes.  If I have to pick one thing to complain about, it’s that his style of art often leads some background details in the panels to seem kind of muddy and run together, but realistically, that’s really just me reaching for something.

I really cannot express how much I’m enjoying this series so far, and how excited I am to find out where it’s all going.  If you are not reading this, please do yourself a favor and start.  Hands down, these two issues have been the most fun I’ve had reading comics in a long time.  I’m just sad that issue #3 isn’t scheduled to come out for another three weeks.

The Verdict for Secret Wars #2:
Must have Moar!!!

Upcoming reviews:
Mad Max: Fury Road
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
Secret Wars: Battleworld #1
Ultimate End (Battleworld Imprint) #1
Wytches #1-#6

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Marvel’s biggest comic event in recent memory is finally here.  It’s supposed to give us Earth shattering storylines where no part of the Marvel multiverse is guaranteed to be safe.  That’s a pretty bold statement to live up to.  Does this book manage to pull it off?

Secret Wars #1 is the culmination of Jonathan Hickman’s runs on the Avengers and New Avengers series, and it shows what happens when the Regular Marvel Universe (Earth 616, in Marvelese) and the Ultimate Marvel Universe (Earth 1610) collide.  Both universes realize that the only way for their side to survive is the complete destruction of the other, and in this issue, the Ultimate Universe quickly learns that they are vastly outnumbered on the super-human front.  The issue wastes little time with pretense and backstory, and jumps straight into the action right at the critical incursion point.  If what I’ve read so far is any indication, this is going to be one hell of a ride.  It also seems like Marvel wasn’t kidding about some parts of the universes not making it through the event, as there appear to be some pretty serious implications to some of the things that happen here… and we’re only in the first issue!

As previously mentioned, Hickman jumps right into the action, which initially threw me for a loop because I actually have not read either of his Avengers, or New Avengers runs, which is also part of the reason that I picked up the Secret Wars: Prelude TPB that Marvel was so gracious to release in order to hopefully grasp a better understanding of what’s going on before the story starts.  The action is frantic, jumping from place to place, and hero to hero, but I don’t feel like I was ever completely lost with regard to what was happening.  Were some scenes a little confusing?  Of course, but it didn’t take too much time for me to figure out which characters were working together and to continue on with the story from there.  I give Hickman a lot of credit because there are so many characters and there’s so much going on in so many different places, that I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to keep everything straight, but he does an admirable job of it.  It’s also very clear that this is something he’s had planned for quite some time, as there are references to events and storylines from his run on The Ultimates in 2011.

On to the artwork.  What can I really say about Esad Ribic?  The guy is hands down one of my favorite artists in the business right now.  This issue is beautifully illustrated from cover to cover, and I feel like the art matches perfectly with the epic scope of the story.  Each panel is like its own little mini painting.  There’s so much detail that it makes me wonder just how long it took to put this book together.  I’m genuinely excited that he’s working on this event, if all else fails, at least it will be great to look at.

I enjoyed this book immensely, and even found myself looking at the pages genuinely shocked by some of the events.  I honestly cannot wait to see how the rest of this story plays out.

The Verdict for Secret Wars #1:
Must have Moar!!!

Upcoming reviews:
The October Faction #1-#6
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
Secret Wars #2
Ultimate End #1
Wytches #1-#6
Mad Max: Fury Road

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.