Posted by: ankoma37 | March 26, 2016

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Warning: The following review will contain SPOILERS!

Well after three years of waiting, analyzing every released and leaked image, arguments over cast announcements, and questioning DC’s world building strategy, the end result has finally arrived. Batman V. Superman is upon us and the fate of the DC cinematic universe is on the shoulders of these two heroes. Can the might of Superman and the intellect of Batman bring the DC cinematic world into the fold?

The answer is…..yes and no.

Dawn of Justice does good deal right. Ben Affleck is a great Batman. I never understood what the fuss was about regarding his casting. He’s a proven actor and he really sells an aged, bitter, and angry Batman. Gal Gadot is actually a pretty decent Wonder Woman. I actually wanted to see more from her. I’m looking forward to what she can do in her solo movie. Henry Cavill does all right in this continuation of Superman. However of the trinity he has the least amount of lines it seems. His scenes really boil down to him showing up somewhere but not saying anything while things happen around him. Which is too bad because some of the lines he is given are pretty good and hint at a  greater internal struggle that I would have liked to see more of. For example when Lois is trying to remind him that his symbol means hope and it’s all that some people have Clark responds with: “It meant something on my world, but my world doesn’t exist anymore.” He follows that up with: “Superman was the dream of my father. The dream of a ghost….” Superman losing faith in himself and his purpose is great material. Rarely do we see Superman doubt himself like this. (At least in movies).

superman quits

Comics are a different story though….

The action sequences are incredible. Batman steals the show with a lot his action scenes. How he takes down criminals is lifted right from a comic book page. The titular fight between the World’s Finest is fantastic. It highlights the strengths of both characters. My favorite bit would have to be when Batman starts to pound on Superman but begins to realize that his kryptonite gas is wearing off. His punches start to become less and less effective. And Superman becomes more and more annoyed.

Face Off

 

The fight with Doomsday where all three heroes show their stuff is probably the highlight of the film. My favorite part had to be when Superman takes up Doomsday into space. Showing that YES, he DID learn from Man of Steel, and the government in all their wisdom, nukes them both.

Zack Synder in the lead up to Man of Steel said that they made Superman weaker and that a nuclear missile could possibility kill him. Well this film answers that question and the answer is, OF COURSE NOT! Superman takes the nuke head on and floats into space to recover, then flies down and slams into Doomsday ready for round two. There’s an awesome heat vision vs. heat vision beam battle briefly.

Superman vs. Doomsday

Even Superman gets fed up with Doomsday’s crap after a while

The shot of the DC Trinity standing together to face down Doomsday was a money shot. I wished I could rewind the movie so I could watch that part again.

However, for the good it does, Dawn gets many things wrong. It falls into the same trap as other films that have attempted to build a share universe, which is spending too much time setting up the next film that they neglect the plot and characters in front of them. There is an entire sub-plot of Wonder Woman looking for an old photograph of her from World War I that Luthor stole for some reason. Other than setting up for her solo adventure this plot-line really doesn’t have a purpose to the main conflict between Bats and Supes.

We’re introduced to the other Justice League members through Batman, who is seeking out other metas. Once again for no apparent reason other than to introduce them to the audience. There’s some throw away line about a “meta theory” but it’s never mentioned again. Batman also has some crazy dreams that once again seem to serve no purpose but to set up future movies. This wouldn’t be so bad if so much time wasn’t spent on it.

And now for the elephant in the room, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Long story short, he just does not work. I  can understand trying to do something different with the character but Eisenberg’s portrayal is so far off the mark I have to wonder just what Synder and the rest were looking for. Based on his performance, I can only guess that they wanted Riddler but somehow Lex Luthor’s name got mixed up. Eisenberg is not intimidating, he’s not smooth or charismatic, and makes you wonder why anyone in the movie takes him seriously at all.

Stupid Luthor

Wouldn’t be the first time that happened…

Not only does Eisenberg’s Luthor fail to live up to his comic counterpart, he fails completely as a villain. We get no insight into why he wants to take down Superman. There’s a few throwaway lines hinting that if gods and heroes existed and were all good, he would have been saved from his abusive parents. But that small pathos gets buried in nonsensical babbling and incoherent actions. I was very disappointed that Synder went from a great and noble villain like Zod to the mess that was Eisengerg’s Luthor.

In addition to Lex Luthor not acting like himself, neither Superman nor Batman are acting like themselves either. This incarnation of Superman is frustratingly passive. A suicide bomber takes out a building that Superman is standing in. You would think that as Superman with his super hearing, telescopic vision, and x-ray vision he would pick up that something was amiss and try to clear the room the second he realized something was up. Or take the suicide bomber away from the area. But instead he just stands there. The bomb blows up and his face hasn’t changed at all. If he’s trying to prove that he’s here to help, he’s doing a very poor job of it.  Which is once again too bad because we see glimpses of the classic idea of Superman in small bursts. He leaves a fancy party to go save people trapped in a burning building. He drags a trapped ship off the ice, he rescues an exploding space shuttle. So the Superman we know is in there somewhere, but for some reason isn’t allowed to take off.

Batman himself does a poor job as well. This Batman uses guns, appears to kill and has no problem with it, and brands the criminals he catches with his logo so that they can be assaulted in prison. Huh? For the entire 2 hour and 30 minute time span, not a single line of dialogue was used to explain or justify this sudden change in character. A simple “You haven’t been the same since Robin died” from Alfred would have sufficed. Dawn spends a great deal of time with information we already know about Batman (his parents’ murder) but not any time at all to explain what’s different about him and why he’s different.

The titular fight between heroes while great is all too short and the basis of it is rather weak. It all boils down to a simple misunderstanding and poor communication on the part of both parties. Something that is more appropriate for a brief scuffle upon first meeting but not nearly enough to base an entire movie around.  For something of this scale and magnitude, both Superman and Batman should have legitimate grievances with one another. Neither of them should be strong armed into this fight.

How the two settle their differences is also very weak. It all boils down to the fact their mothers have the same exact name. That’s it.

Face Off

My mom’s name is Martha. My mom was Martha too! Oh…we good? Yep.

Doomsday himself is given very little explanation. Apparently Luthor using a combination of the Genesis Chamber left in the city (Clark, why did you just leave that lying around?), his own blood, and Zod’s corpse, Luthor just magically creates Doomsday. One of Superman’s greatest foes is just treated like an afterthought. And moreover, looks nothing like the actual Doomsday and looks more like a generic monster from a low budget SyFy movie.

To round it off, Dawn decides to do an extremely brief and unearned adaptation of the Death of Superman story-line. Not only is it a strange twist and ineffective death that we all know is not going to stick (Superman had literally came back from getting a nuke in the face minutes earlier), the placement within the story makes no sense. Superman has only been around for 18 months and in that time never really hit it off with Earth’s population. He’s done a few good deeds and acts of heroism but not enough to really earn the endearment of the people it seemed.  Now all of a sudden he’s dead and gets huge military funeral from people who all throughout the movie were calling for his head? What?

I imagine for Justice League they might do a Search for Spock angle or when Darkseid shows up and starts hammering everybody, Superman is going to smash out of his coffin and rush off to save his friends, a la Son Goku during the Frieza Saga. Either way it was an unneeded twist and unnecessary lead in for an already crowded movie.

All in all, Dawn of Justice like Amazing Spider-Man 2, Iron Man 2, and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (noticing a pattern?) just tries to do too much at once at the expense of its characters and plot, the two things that make a shared universe worth watching. There are moments where the characters actually behave like their comic book counterparts but they are far too brief.

It’s great spectacle and the sight of the DC Trinity on the big screen makes it almost worth it but if DC really wants to be a powerhouse in the movie arena, the executives and other big wigs should take a page from Superman’s philosophy and strive for better. A shared universe means nothing if the characters aren’t interesting to watch and the plots are too hammered down by ham fisted foreshadowing and winks to future movies.

Still worth a watch will most likely make money. But more was expected from the two most recognized heroes on the planet.

7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: ankoma37 | April 20, 2015

Batman VS Superman Trailer Finally Here!

If for whatever reason you’ve lived under a rock for last few days, a teaser trailer for the highly anticipated Batman vs. Superman movie has been released. And from the looks of things,neither Superman nor Batman will have an easy time.

The very first quote perfectly encapsulates the general theme around this version of Superman and perhaps Superman’s character in general: “Is it really surprising that the most powerful man in the world is the subject of controversy?”

It continues on with a growing close-up of a Superman statue along with various voice cameos including: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Charlie Rose, and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor (around 42 second mark if you want to hear it for yourself). Judging from the angry chants and the giant “False God” spray-painted on Supes’ new statue, the people of Metropolis are just as happy about the destruction of their city as Man of Steel‘s loudest detractors. However, the outrage over Superman’s existence is nothing new. Since post-crisis Superman has struggled with his PR  thanks in no large part to Lex Luthor and his constant anti-alien barrage. In the New 52 it’s even worse.

anti-Superman protest

Superman vs. Ungrateful Bastards

The angry chants are inter-cut with the other side of the coin, people revering Superman like a god. Soldiers bow down to him and people reach out to him like an angel. Yet another problem Superman has encountered more than once in the comic books

bowing before Superman

And he was just as amused back then as he is now

This strong divide is the perfect direction to go after Man of Steel. Superman may have saved the day from Zod but he did leave a huge mess in the wake. It isn’t so much “dark” as a good deal of detractors say, but more the next logical step in Superman’s journey. He’s found out who he is and where he came from, he knows what to do with his powers, and he has faced his very first alien invasion. Now he must prove to the people of Earth that he is the force of good that Jor-El and his father wanted him to be. That isn’t so much dark as it is the film facing the reality that comes with being Superman. With all that happened in the previous movie it would be rather silly for him to reach the level of adulation and trust he had in the Christopher Reeve films. Plus this new direction allows this version of Superman to do more altruistic acts, which many have said were lacking in Man of Steel  (Completely ignoring the fact that the first thing we see Clark do on screen is rescue oil rig workers…..but that’s a different issue)

The focus shifts  then from Superman to Bruce Wayne with yet another audio cameo, this time from Jeremy Iron’s Alfred.  And we finally get to see Ben Affleck’s version of Bruce Wayne for the first time. And I was quite impressed with what I saw. The man’s work in the gym has paid off from the looks of things. I’m fully on Batfleck’s side and can’t wait to see what he does with the role. We get to see a few shots of the Batmoblie and the Bat-plane (Maybe. The way the trailer was structured it looked more like a jet shooting down at the Batmobile). And a shot of Batman looking over the Gotham skyline with what looks like a rifle. Though some have said it is a direct reference to the Dark Knight Returns comic book where Batman shoots out his grapple from a rifle.

The trailer wraps up with Batman in full Dark Knight Returns armor staring down Superman. The footage is familar to anyone who was lucky enough to see the very teaser footage from Comic-Con last year. But this time with the added line that has already reached meme status:

“Tell me, do you bleed? You will.” 

There are some who do not believe the line is in character with Batman and to be fair to them we don’t actually see his lips move when the line is uttered. The robotic tone the line is delivered in has led to some speculation that the line actually comes from Metallo. However if the film is truly going for a more Dark Knight Returns incarnation of Batman, then the line is perfectly in character. No sign of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, or Cyborg however and still no clue as to how they will factor in with the overall narrative of the film.

Bottom line, whether or not you think the teaser trailer was “good” or not. The point still stands that it did what a teaser is supposed to, establish the world, the characters inhabiting the world, and reveal the overall tone of the story. And even more importantly, it gets people talking about a movie that is a full year away.

One thing is for sure, no matter what, I will be first in line for this.

Posted by: ankoma37 | June 15, 2013

Man of Steel Review

Man of Steel offical poster

Now Fly Superman!

Finally after a year worth of teases, promos, trailers, speculation, and interviews, the highly anticipated reboot to the Superman movie franchise, Man of Steel is here. With two classic 70’s movies, a disappointing reboot attempt in the early 2000’s, and overall perception of Superman as rather low, this film had a lot to prove. So does it soar?

To borrow the words of Jor-El, the film stumbles a bit, it falls in places, but ultimately it takes its place in the sun.

If you’ve been living under a pop-culture rock for the last 75 years and don’t know the origin of Superman, the film will tell you what you need to know about both him and his people. Unlike most Superman film incarnations, a great deal of time is spent on Krypton prior to the explosion. It gives you the sense that it was an actual civilization and culture that we as an audience just barely scratched the surface of. When the planet does explode we’re left with this haunting shot of Superman’s mother, Lara, helplessly watching the destruction of her home with her final words being, “Make a better world than ours, Kal.”

When Kal-El’s ship lands on Earth it immediately flashes forward to a grown Clark Kent with major events in his childhood told in the form of flashback, much like Batman Begins. And much like Begins, we find our hero lost and without purpose in his life. Bruce allowed himself to wallow in a third world prison, while Clark wanders the country trying to keep a low profile.

shirtless Superman

With that body and beard, good luck with the whole “low profile” thing

It’s in this act of the story where the movie stumbles a bit. The pacing is rather uneven and scenes change rather abruptly without much resolution to them. Emotional beats are hit but its never long enough to fully enjoy them. The best example would be when Clark finds the Fortress of Solitude, Jor-El, and the uniform that will label him as Superman. Clark at this point has a scruffy beard, is dressed very modestly, and has this haunting look on his face. This would be the perfect time to show the transition from lost soul to majestic hero through a shaving scene and showing Clark donning the uniform for the first time. However, the moment he puts his hands on the costume, it immediately cuts to him freshly shaved, in full uniform and a serene look on his face with no time in-between to fully appreciate how major of a moment this is for Clark.

The film recovers from this when Zod and his crew arrive on Earth and allows director Zack Snyder to do what he does best, jaw-dropping action sequences. The most common complaint of Superman Returns was the complete lack of action. Well Man of Steel more than makes up for it. Perhaps to the point of overcompensating. The action scenes are phenomenal but at times they can be difficult to follow due to more camera focus on characters being knocked through walls, than on the punch that caused it. By the time the final showdown between Superman and Zod occurs, the film seems to have found a happy medium. I only wished it had found it sooner.

The casting of the three major characters, Superman/Clark, Jor-El, and Zod is perfect. Henry Cavill IS Superman in both look and attitude. His time spent buffing up for the role definitely shows. Cavill also does what many thought to be impossible, making Superman a relatable character. Cavill’s Superman is still the nice guy Superman is supposed to be, but he reacts the same way most people would to the situations he gets into. For example when he flies for the very first time, you can see on his face that this is the best day ever for him, just like it would be for anyone who realized they could fly one day. When he feels lost, he talks to a priest at church. When Zod threatens his mother, Cavill’s Superman doesn’t hide how much that pisses him off. You really get the sense that Clark is truly just a nice normal guy with a lot of power at heart, rather than a demi-god boyscout spouting common knowledge.

Russell Crowe makes for the best replacement of original Jor-El, Marlon Brando. Crowe’s Jor-El is wise, assertive, and at times has a dry humor about him that the more stiff Brando Jor-El lacked. Michael Shannon’s Zod is played a bit more sympathetically than Terrance Stamp’s “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD” interpretation. The film is still black and white in terms of its morality but Zod has legitimate reasons for wanting to kill off the humans and at times, especially near the end, I truly felt sorry for him.

General Zod's vow

KNEEL BEFORE…I mean…I WILL FIND HIM!!!

Amy Adams as Lois Lane had a strong introduction but ultimately falls into the role of “shoe-horned love interest” that can be found in every comic book movie. She spends a good portion of the film searching for the mysterious savior that is Clark and when she does find him, they really don’t spend enough time together for me to buy into their kiss near the end. But as I said before that is a flaw in every comic-book movie.

Laurence Fishburne and almost the entire Daily Planet cast is not given enough to do to really justify their placement in the film other than to ultimately give Clark a place to work. The filmmakers could have easily saved this aspect for the sequel.

Morpheus as Superman's boss

What? Just because my last name is “White” doesn’t mean I have to be

At the end there is a major deviation from Superman’s core character that people will either love or hate. Initially I didn’t like it but once the shock wore off, I could understand why the filmmakers went that route. But just like Superman finding Jor-El, this deviation is a major moment for Clark but other than a quick shot of him reacting, there’s no aftermath or payoff for the audience to fully understand what this moment means to Clark.

Ultimately, Man of Steel hits all the marks and while it doesn’t hit them perfectly, it’s a step in the right direction for Superman. I can’t wait to see more.

4.5 out of 5

Posted by: ankoma37 | December 11, 2012

Man of Steel Trailer bursts onto the scene

A full trailer for the Man of Steel has finally hit the internet and long story short….it’s F*CKING AWESOME!

Very few trailers have given me the goosebumps that Man of Steel gave me within two minutes of footage. Everything in the trailer, in my view, is golden. The music, the acting, the effects, and the overall mood. Now when Man of Steel was first announced and they said that the tone would be darker, I had my doubts. Superman is not a dark or brooding character. He’s more focused on saving people than his own problems.

But the tone struck in the trailer showed me that they managed to get it right. Clark isn’t so much brooding that he has powers, it’s the fact that he doesn’t know what to do with them. There’s a striking scene where via voice over we learn that Clark saved a bus full of kids and a classmate saw him and told his mom. Pa Kent tells Clark that he has to keep what he can do a secret. Clark asks if Pa wanted him to let those kids die and his father says “Maybe.”

It’s questions like that, that can make a “darker” Superman work. It’s not about vengeance or personal gain, it’s about Superman trying to figure out how best to use these great abilities and the setbacks that come with exposing himself to the world.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but come Summer 2013 I know what movie I’ll be first in line for.

I could say more, but I’m still waiting for these goosebumps to wear off.

So what about the rest of you? Did the trailer give you goosebumps? Make you groan in frustration? Or just meh? Let me know below.

Posted by: ankoma37 | June 19, 2012

Superman vs. The Elite review

DVD CoverWhat happens when a hero like Superman crosses that line and decides to kill the super villain? What happens when a hero who has all the power in the world decides governments and the military  just aren’t cutting it anymore? What happens when heroes decide “Might makes Right” is  more sensible than “Truth, Justice and the American Way”?

Such questions are nothing new in the world of comic books. Several stories have already been written about the issue such as The Authority, Watchmen, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and anime like Death Note.  But no character has had a harder time dealing with this issue than Superman himself.

The newest release in the DCAU DVD adaptations, “Superman vs. The Elite” gives Superman his best story material yet and achieves in making him relatable  and relevant to the current time, a feat some have said to be impossible.

An adaption of “What’s So Funny About Truth Justice and the American Way?” written by Joe Kelly (who also penned the script for this adaptation), “Superman vs. The Elite” deals with heavy issues, mainly, does Superman’s unwillingness to kill make him weak and out-dated? I won’t spoil the big guy’s answer but what he does in response is very shocking and shows exactly why we DON’T want Superman to match the “darker and edgier” trend going around.

Manchester Black and the Elite

Meet the new guys

The Elite, led by the lethal psychic, Manchester Black are a new group of superheroes of various origins who come together under one idea: criminals should pay the ultimate price for their crimes. No jail, no quarter, no mercy. Their methods extend to not just  supervillains like Atomic Skull, but dictators and world leaders who get innocents caught up in the wars they start.

The film does a good job of not making the Elite into mindless psychos just killing for the kicks, but giving them valid arguments relevant to a post 9/11 America.  During a super-villain breakout, the collateral damage results in several civilian deaths to which Black points out what Superman’s method leads to, more breakouts and more pain for everyone. A Metropolis woman says she has always felt safe in the city because Superman was always around, but then again so were the criminals he kept “putting away.” It’s these kinds of situations that make Superman doubt his path and his purpose, especially when everyone in Metropolis seems to agree with the Elite’s brutal methods.

Superman vs. Manchester Black

Superman vs. Manchester Black

The story is solid, and while some might complain that the Elite’s decent into full-on villainy makes it easier for Superman to philosophically “win” I believe the film was showcasing the natural decent into madness and ruthlessness such thinking leads to. Look at what happened to Light Yagami. That aside, the story is everything a Superman tale nowadays should be, relevant, insightful, and just damn entertaining.

The art style and rather limited animation in the film takes some getting used to, especially when coming from the other Superman DVDs like Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. (Superman’s chin in “Elite” was just distracting at times) But George Newbern‘s solid performance as the Man of Steel more than makes up for it. The Elite get just as good voice work, but Newbern reprisal of his role as Superman just knocks it out of the park. For some, the original DCAU voice actor, Tim Daly, will forever be the voice of Superman, but Newbern is a very close second.

The Blu-Ray version includes the original story in digital comic form along several features such as “Superman and the Moral Debate” which shows the argument presented in the film is the same argument America and other countries must have when dealing with uncompromising terrorists. There is also a commentary track with writer Joe Kelly and Eddie Berganza along with two episodes from the original Superman animated series. These extra features makes the Blu-Ray the definite version to buy.

All in all, Superman vs. the Elite is the story every fan of comics, even if they aren’t fond of Superman, should see. It presents the Big Blue Boy Scout in a brand new light and shows that being Superman is not as easy or as clear cut as   anti-heroes make it out to be. Save for some animation hiccups and an art style I wasn’t too found of, it’s a near perfect Superman release.

9.5/10.

Posted by: ankoma37 | November 6, 2011

Young Justice episode 16: Failsafe

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!! (YOU DO NOT WANT THIS EPISODE SPOILED)

HOLY S*&%#!!!!! Is all I can say about this episode.

Hold up, let me back up.

The latest episode of Young Justice sees the Earth at the mercy of an alien invasion from an unidentified race. The episode shows its going to be a wild ride within the first 30 seconds when both Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan and John Stewart, are killed right away. After that hero after hero falls via disintegration beam until the Young Justice heroes are the only heroes who remain who can defend the Earth. Yet even they aren’t free from casualties.

If you’re reading this then you know the ending. The situation isn’t real. It’s a training sequences Batman and Martian Manhunter designed to put the team through an un-winnable situation. Similar to the  Kobayashi Maru of Star Trek. The point of the exercise was to present the heroes with a hostile situation that only gets worse and worse with no winning option available and see how they reacted to the scenario. The team knew this all a simulation when they entered the exercise. But that was all hijacked when one of the team members Artemis is “killed” and Ms. Martian’s unconscious mind overcomes everything and makes it all seem real.

I’ve read on several forums that a few viewers felt cheated by the twist ending saying that it was a big middle finger to them.

I say just the opposite. The twist ending was exactly what the episode called for.

I’ve loved Young Justice from the beginning, blogging about it every now then when I remembered, but I always felt that something was missing on the emotional scale. The characters and story lines were always so subdued as if they were holding something back. Character development is on the more subtler side and there was never a major emotional moment.

Well this episode changed all that.

After Artemis’s “death” nothing is held back. Kid Flash stating with an unseen intensity and rage, “They’re dead! Every single alien! If it’s the last thing I do!”  M’gann’ sadness and Aqualad’s and Robin’s focus in the face of such despair. Later on Aqualad shows his worthiness as leader by sacrificing himself to save his friends. Robin later comments on it, showing his more calculating side, that such an act while heroic, cost them their leader and that it was a mistake.

The “all a simulation” ending just showed that while the events that took place were not real, the emotions that the team was. The ending proved that there are a lot more to the team than we thought we knew and just begs the question “if a real situation occurred, would the team react the same way?”

This episode did everything right, the emotion, the story, the twist, the music, the action was all spot on. I hope future episode keep up this trend.

10/10

Posted by: ankoma37 | October 26, 2011

Making a Kick Ass Superman game

With Batman Arkham City hitting the shelves the question has been raised….will we ever see a good Superman game? Well here’s some suggestion on how to make such a game worthy of the Man of Steel

Posted by: ankoma37 | June 18, 2011

Green Lantern Shines Moderately

When I first read the IGN review of Green Lantern and the following critic reviews, I expected the worst. DC’s track record of superhero movies that aren’t Batman did not inspire much hope. (Looking at you Supes, sorry). Regardless I went to see it. In the end, I was not completely floored as with The Dark Knight nor was I greatly disappointed, as with Superman Returns. Green Lantern left me wanting to see more from the hero, which is what a decent origin story is meant to do.

Green Lantern follows the tale of the very first human Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. The Green Lantern Corp is comprised of individuals from the 3600 sectors of the universe. Each are given a ring that channels the green energy that is will power. The task of the Green Lantern Corp is to patrol the galaxy and enforce order and peace. Earth and humanity in general was seen as too young of a species to be given such power and was left alone during the choosing of Lanterns. That is until a mortally wounded Lantern named Abin Sur crash lands on Earth and tells his ring to choose the most worthy of humans. Hal must now grapple his own fear and irresponsibility in order to become a worthy Green Lantern and help the Corp battle its greatest opponent, the embodiment of fear, Paralax.

Like Thor, the overall concept of Green Lantern sounds and frankly is, pretty outrageous. But what made Thor work was the time the movie spent explaining and showing Thor’s world of Asgard, the people he interacts with and how Thor sees himself in that world. Green Lantern…..not so much.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in the movie is the lack of time it gives itself to properly form and develop. Both Thor and X-Men: First Class seemed to know exactly the amount of time to give each of their characters to showcase their traits, wishes, desires, flaws, and placement in the overall plot of the movie. And those movies had almost twice the amount of characters as Green Lantern.

The movie glosses over several elements that would have been really great to see play out. Hal’s training on the Green Lantern home planet, Oa for example. Hal activates the ring and is sent to Oa for training and a basic course on the Green Lantern Corp. This would have been a great time to really slow down the movie and walk the audience through the planet of Oa, go into detail about the ring, and introduce some other Green Lanterns. However after only three or four scenes Hal is back on Earth with only a fledgling understanding of the Green Lanterns.

Hal himself is pretty glossed over as well. He is established as irresponsible, fearful and trying to measure up to his late father. But many of those traits are just discussed rather than actually shown. The most irresponsible thing Hal does is show up late to a test flight. His father is mentioned briefly in conversations, but no real details really emerge about him or his relationship with Hal. And other than an understandable freak-out when his plane goes down, Hal doesn’t come off as too fearful either. More time on all of these traits would have been helpful.

The villain Paralax gets a similar treatment. Built up as the greatest threat the Green Lantern Corp has ever faced, Paralax ultimately doesn’t get a chance to do much. There is a scene where Sinestro takes several Lanterns to battle the menace but the fight only lasts a few seconds, and the full battle not really shown, just alluded to afterwards by Sinestro. When Paralax possess a human, a former friend of Hal’s Hector Hammond, very little time is spent on him as well. Hector has all the workings of a good villain, resentment, jealousy, and fear but no real development. By the time he’s committing his evil acts the audience is left scratching their heads at his sudden shift into villainy.

That is not say the movie isn’t without its shining moments. The millions of dollars invested in the special effects was money well spent.  Oa, like Asgard in Thor, has never looked better. The planet looks vast and whets the audience’s appetite to see more.

The fight scenes, though brief, are extremely creative and fun to watch. There is a scene where Hal must stop a falling helicopter but rather than fly up and catch it like Superman, he uses his ring to create a race car to catch it and guides the plane on a Hot Wheels-like racetrack to safety. During his battle with Paralax, Hal creates a springboard with his ring to launch a gas truck towards his foe then creates a gun turret to shoot the gas tank with. Flamethrowers, swords, fighter jets and giant fists are also at work in the movie. The movie successfully shows what you can do with a ring whose only limit is your imagination.

Ryan Reynolds shines as Hal Jordan. He really captures Hal’s cockiness and jerk behavior on Earth, his bewilderment, excitement and fear on Oa, and his heroic noble side as a Green Lantern on Earth. Mark Strong as future foe Sinestro gives a solid performance. Though his time in the film is brief, Strong gets Sinestro’s sense of superiority and his willingness to use fear against Paralax down pat. Michael Clarke Duncan as a Kilowag was perfection along with Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re. If the focal point of the movie was these four characters learning to work together, it would have been so much stronger.

Ultimately Green Lantern made the right moves. It had the concept down, it had good actors, it had great special effects and creative fights, but doesn’t seem to know how to use them to their fullest potential. I definitely want to see more Green Lantern and the stinger near the end of the credits gives promise of that but I do hope the makers behind the film gives the film room to breath and come into its own.

3/5

Posted by: ankoma37 | May 9, 2011

The Mighty Thor Hammers in a Success

It’s official, The Mighty Thor is a hit!

Since it’s premiere on (fittingly enough) Thursday May 5, Thor has earned 66 million dollars at the box office.

While I have never been much of a Thor fan and only seen him in team up issues of Spider-Man and Hulk, seeing this movies makes me want to read more about the God of Thunder.

The movie follows Thor who is a reckless and impulsive warrior who would prefer his hammer do the talking rather than his mouth. When his recklessness shatters a peace his father Odin worked so hard to maintain, Thor is stripped of his powers, his mighty hammer and his exiled to Earth.

While Thor is finding his away around us mortals, his brother Loki is working to prove himself a better successor to the throne than his brash brother.

Ever since Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, superhero movies have worked to make themselves “darker” “gritter” and more “realistic”. Thor walks up to that notion and smacks it around with his hammer.

The movie not only embraces its mythological roots it uses CGI to turn up the juice. Asagard looks AMAZING

And Thor’s battles looks lifted off the pages of the comic books. But what really makes the movie work is Chris Hemsworth’s performance as the God of Thunder.

Everything from his speech, his walk, his gestures his smile and his body,

Men admit it, you just went a little gay

all scream god of thunder.  Hemsworth comes off as so genuine that you wouldn’t think of him as anyone but Thor.

And as with Marvel Studios past three films, the movie sets up for the Avengers the appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D. and references to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.

With Thor finishing Marvel’s preemptive strike, Captain American is posed to maintain the momentum with his movie premiering on July 22.

Posted by: ankoma37 | May 2, 2011

Superman Drops his American Citizenship

For the longest time Superman has always been the defender of Truth, Justice and the American Way. Even for some people who only know of Supes from his origin story, those three phrases have been as staple to his character as “I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman!”  is to the Caped Crusader.

Well as of Action Comics #900, Superman has dropped the “American Way” of his list of things to defend. In his words, “Truth, Justice and the American Way, it’s not enough anymore.”

In the storyline of this comic, Superman wants to get involved in the current revolutions in the Middle East, but he is stopped because it would cause an international incident. Because Superman more or less represents America, his involvement would overcomplicate the U.S. stance on the matter.  Superman, who never turns his back on people in trouble, say this line, implying that he wants to do more for the people of Earth as a whole.

As comic book fan and a Superman fan, I am perfectly fine with this change. I have always found it strange that America claimed Superman as their own. It made sense in the 1940’s and 1950’s to some extent as Superman represented America the best in those decades. Idealistic, strong, always willing to do what’s right, always willing to help others, etc.

But times change. Americans have become more jaded, best shown in the embrace of Batman and other dark and gritty superheroes. Superman though as stayed the same, which is in no way a bad thing. He has just broadened his scope. In many comics recently, Superman shown fighting more intergalactic threats like Darkseid and Mongol. I really have not seen him do anything that really screams “American Way” Superman’s recent battles scream more “The way of Earth” or something like that.

I have always felt that Superman is citizen of Earth and that he stands for the good that lies in all of us, not just Americans. What Superman is cannot be claimed by just one country.

If you want a hero to represent America alone, look at Captain America.

Superman represents us all.

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