Thursday, September 1, 2016

DC Versus MARVEL: DC Movies

I've been meaning to write up my reviews of the Marvel and DC movies that have come out in the last year or so. I'll be talking about two movies for each company; Batman Versus Superman and The Killing Joke for DC and Civil War and Age of Apocalypse for Marvel. In this post, I'll be talking DC and why these movies were not as good as they should have been.

  So, let's start with Batman versus Superman. I will admit my bias against this version of Superman right away. I wasn't in love with him in the Man of Steel and nothing changed in this movie. He was, quite frankly, boring. He was a cardboard character that they tried to make interesting, but failed. Far more interesting was Affleck's Batman.

   Affleck surprised me with how good he was as Bruce Wayne and Batman. It was just disappointing that this version of Batman was so unbelievable. The story made Batman do things that Batman just wouldn't do. The fact that the narrative had Batman branding criminals was absurd. The best part of Batman's character is how he skirts the line between enough violence and too much. In my opinion, branding criminals with his bat symbol was way over the line. I couldn't see any incarnation of Batman doing that and it really took me out of the story.

  What can I say about the story? It was kind of a mess. You had an overly emotional Batman, because really he cares, but much more about people close to him and the Wayne employees can't have been that close to him and an unlikable Superman. It doesn't take that much to see why Bruce Wayne blames him and questions his intentions. The story tries to push Superman into going after Batman also by having Clark Kent try to investigate the mysterious vigilante. Honestly though, it falls flat and didn't really seem to build the same momentum that they gave to Batman.

Then there was Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman. Lex Luthor contributed a genetically engineered monster, Doomsday and a lame kidnapping to the already muddy plot. Luthor arranges for Superman to have to fight Batman to save his mother Martha. While Batman has that weird vision of a dark future where Superman tears out his heart to motivate him in the fight, along with that weird future Flash (at least I think it's Flash) that warns him that Lois Lane must not die (oh yeah and maybe form the Justice League too). All this comes together in the fight at the end of the movie. The title fight between Superman and Batman was fairly decent, though it did go on too long. But the end? That was ridiculous. Because their mothers share a common name that snaps Bruce out of his rage and makes them both instantly decide to trust each other and fight Lex instead? It felt weak and would have broken the movie, had it been a better movie to begin with.

When we finally get to the end and the fight with Doomsday, the duo gets to add their third with the appearance of Wonder Woman. We had previously seen Diana Prince in the movie and if you were like me you were watching every minute of her screen time trying to piece together what backstory they were going to use. She was a breath of fresh air in this testosterone fueled disaster. She effortlessly stole every scene she was in and might have been able to save the movie if the script wasn't so God-awful. In the final battle, she gets to come out; bad ass rock music blaring, confidence in every step, to try and save the boys from the big bad monster.  Ultimately, it is Superman who sacrifices his life to stop Doomsday and Bruce and Diana are left to mourn him and start looking for the members of what will become the Justice League.

Moving over to the Killing Joke animated movie; I must say I was disappointed with the story and execution. Now, I have not read the original graphic novel that this was based on, which was probably good as nothing was coloring how I enjoyed the movie. Or didn't enjoy the movie as the case may be. I will state that the voice acting was fantastic and it was lovely to have Mark Hamil back as the Joker along with the rest of the gang from the animated series. The Joker's origin story was also very good. I liked how he fell in with the criminals and one bad day led him to becoming the Joker. It was a good foil for Batman's one bad day making him into the hero while Joker's turned him into a monster. They are of course, uncomfortably similar in many ways. And that point was made nicely in this movie. However it didn't start out that way.

The beginning is so terrible I nearly turned it off. The heavy handed obsession Barbara has with the criminal at the start and the fact that she doesn't listen to Bruce, felt really contrived. And the crush that leads to sex and then Barbara hanging up the cape was just not done well at all. First, Batman would not sleep with any of his proteges (even though they try to make Barbara and Bruce a thing in Batman Beyond, it was never in the original comic canon.) Second, they certainly would not have done it the way it was portrayed in the movie (basically post fight sex on a roof top). Batman has more respect for Batgirl than that. At least I have always thought so. It seems far out of character for him and a disservice to her to put them in a basically one-sided one time romance. Thirdly, it felt completely separate and tacked on to the rest of the movie, mostly because it was. The one had nothing to do with the other.

As for the rest of the movie, I felt a bit let down after all the hype surrounding this and enjoyed previous Batman animated movies more. This was a straight-forward story with little in the way of plot twists. I found the origin of the Joker interesting and got what they were going for by saying Joker and Batman were not so different. I was unimpressed by the torture of Gordon, and not really clear why Joker was doing it at the time. Maybe I just not was super invested in James Gordon's character, it didn't really shock me or anything. Not like when I saw the Batman Beyond movie Return of the Joker. They didn't even have to go into the torture there, just hint at it and let the watcher's own mind fill in the blanks. That was so much more effective on me and I was so horrified at what had happened to Robin in that one. This just felt barely threatening, and no where nearly as brutal and twisted as I expected it to be to earn the R rating it received. And maybe the end joke between Batman and Joker was more impactful in the comic book, but it seemed to lack something here. In the end, there have been better animated DC movies and this one just did not live up to the hype.

In the end, both DC movies lacked a certain something that makes the Marvel one much more watchable. Oh yeah, that would be fun and maybe some optimism. DC has always been about the dark and broody, but you need a little levity among all the gloom or else why are the characters even fighting. And maybe directors that want to actually make a movie with the iconic characters intact rather than try to change them in stupid ways (Zack Snyder I'm looking at you). Although Marvel has its own failings, the movies very rarely fail to tell an entertaining story.

Tune in for part 2 of the DC versus Marvel reviews: The Marvel Movies.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Just a Test




Saturday, June 6, 2015

Review of Artful by Peter David

  As always there will be spoilers, so if you don't want any please don't read the review.

 I recently read the kindle version of Artful by Peter David. I've always liked his books, especially his Star Trek novels, so I knew this would be well written and entertaining. The book is written in the style of the original Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and the reader should have read that novel before reading this one. There are many references back to the original Dickens novel and it would be a shame to miss them. The main difference between Dickens novel and David's humorous continuation is the addition of vampires.
  The basic premise is the story of the Artful Dodger after the end of Oliver Twist. Now, at the end of Oliver Twist it is implied that the Dodger is sent off to Australia, which was a prison colony at the time. In Artful, he avoids that fate and stays in England. The reader also discovers that Fagin, who was hung in the original novel, survives his fate also. This is due to the fact that he is a vampire.  Dodger meets up with several interesting characters including; the future queen of England, Van Helsing, Mr. Fang (a magistrate and vampire), and several lesser-known but important government officials.
  Mr. Fang and his vampires have a plan to rule England by turning the royal family into vampires. As the young princess has sneaked out to explore the city around her, the vampires close in to grab her and change her into one of them. All that stands between the vampires' plans of ruling England is the Artful Dodger.
  I enjoyed this book a lot. The writing was smart and entertaining. The characters were well-developed and likable. The plot was smart and tense enough to keep you turning pages the whole way through. If you liked books like Pride and Prejudice and zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire hunter this is similar to that kind of blending of old literature and humor. I would recommend it.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Changes and reviews

So, I'm changing this blog once again. I think I'm going to focus on reviews and opinion pieces and less on poetry and fiction. I'm going to do my best to commit to a post a week and hope I can manage more. This week's review is going to be on movies. There will be spoilers, so if you don't want that please skip the reviews.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
I rented this a little bit ago and found it to be as good as the others in the series. The new productions of the Planet of the Apes movies have been really well done and surprisingly thought provoking. The third movie in the series, Dawn shows the aftermath of the second movie and fast-forwards through a brief record of the Simian Flu that has killed off a significant portion of the human race. It then picks up with the ape society who have been living in a forest in California with no contact with humans in years.Of course, this can't last and a group of humans find themselves running in to the apes.
 Things slowly fall apart from there. Although Caesar and a few of the humans try to keep the piece, it is not possible. One of Caesar's closet friends, Koba, betrays his ideals and arranges the escalating situation to paint the humans as the aggressors. Koba leads the apes against the humans, starting the violence that will eventually lead to the society in the first Planet of the Apes movies.
 The effects are incredible and the story line is solid. You really feel for the apes and the humans both. The humans are try to stay alive in a world without most of the basics of society. The apes haven't forgot the experiments that the humans subjected them to and some are not willing  to have the humans live anywhere near them. The inevitable fight at the end was fraught with emotion on all sides. And I enjoyed the quieter story lines between Caesar and his son and the human family interacting with the apes. On the whole, a well-balanced movie and worth watching.