Archive for the Comics Category

DC’s ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Season Two Finale: Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom!

Posted in Action, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2017 by aliciamovie

Legends-of-Tomorrow-Season-2-Poster

 Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Spoilers are totally Legendary!

Time is never on the Legends’ side, so we’re diving right into this! So, what do we know? The beginning of the season had Captain Rip Hunter missing and Sarah Lance taking his place, mostly to the agreement of the rest of the Legends. Whilst searching for Rip, the team picked up some stray new Legends, mainly from the 1940’s Justice Society of America in the form of Amaya, and Nate Heywood, historian and time investigator who gets himself some spiffy powers along the way. The search for Rip Hunter also brought together the aptly named Legion of Doom, comprised of original members Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Zoom from the Flash-verse; Malcolm Merlyn of the Arrow world, former League of Assassins boss; and Damien Darhk, also of the Emerald Archer’s life, magic-using baddie and the slayer of the Black Canary, making him a personal mark for Captain Lance. And unfortunately the Legion gets ahold of Rip Hunter first, cuing him for a brief turn as a bad guy while everyone else gears up for the hunt of the ultimate legendary artifact, the Spear of Destiny!

Yes, LOT went there, it is a show about fighting bad guys through time and all. So in this world, the Spear of Destiny is the thing that pierced the side of Christ himself, yes that thing, that when wielded with a certain incantation of some ancient book, can rewrite reality itself according to the users desires. Of course the Legion wants the Spear, every one of them has stuff in their past they’d much rather erase or change the outcome of, but Thawne in particular was a very bad boy and is being pursued through time and space by the Black Flash. The Black Flash is a form of Death in the Speedforce and in this world the manifestation of what became of enemy Hunter Zolomon after he was carted away by two Time Wraiths. (I know; just go with it.)

So skimming Rip Hunter’s brain led them to search for the pieces of the Spear, that Rip Hunter had judiciously broken up and hidden all over time and space. The hunt for the pieces and the Spear itself, once put back together again, has a tendency to bring out the bad ghosts in our various Legends, but none more so than our firebug thief Rory, still missing his beloved partner Leonard Snart after all this time. So of course, to persuade Rory to join the purported winning side, the Legion of Doom scurries back to Central City in 2014, before Snart joined the Legends and became a reluctant Hero, and pops him out to recruit his partner into stealing the Spear for the lot of them. And yes, sadly, it does work. (I love me some Wentworth Miller forever, and yes I’m very well aware Captain Cold is originally a bad guy, but this villainous return in the latter half of LOT Season Two is a shade disheartening.)

The last couple of episodes of the season are basically an alternate version of reality even for LOT, after the Legion went Spear-happy. And while seeing our familiar characters as darker alternate versions of themselves may be amusing for a few minutes, it gets tired real fast. Then again, the season finale has the entire team going back in time to an event they already visited and changed, resulting in multiple versions of most of them arguing amongst themselves even as they try to fight the Legion for control of that damnable Spear!

So what are we doing back in 1914 with a certain soldier named John Tolkien, again? We’re going to get the blood of Christ in the hidden vial on a war-torn battlefield to get the Spear to work, but plans are being thwarted by alternate-Legends and of course the Legion of Doom’s interference too. After doubt and discussion, every single last one of our Legends is coming out swinging, even as Zoom shows up with an ass-load of yellow Speedster reinforcements! What to do?

Sara Lance has long been the standout character on this show. From her League of Assassins on Arrow origins in the Black Canary leathers that she left her sister Laurel as a legacy, to the white leathers she wore in Season One of LOT, where she swayed hearts and minds alike with sincere care of her friends and family, and unapologetic joyful bisexuality, Sara Lance was the right choice for replacement Captain in Season Two. So when Sara is holding the Spear of Destiny and everyone’s about to get annihilated by the Legion of Doom, we can trust that even though she protests she’s too full of darkness, that as Rip Hunter says, “I believe in you.” Her final method of dealing with Zoom, arguably the leader of the Legion of Doom in this incarnation, is justifiably clever and very much a White Canary move.

Of course none of that mattes when, after depositing the surviving Legion guys into summary punishments and saying some other goodbyes, the Waverider is rocked by a time-quake and our Legends are tossed out of the time-stream into some totally messed up version of reality that’s like an Escher fever-dream – skyscrapers twisted into fantastical shapes, dinosaurs roaming freely, and way too many different timeline styles all jumbled together! Captain Lance’s statement of, “Guys, I think we broke Time,” appears to be a massive understatement.

Season Two lacked a good deal of the main plot points from Season One, mainly Vandal Savage and the Hawk-peoples, but these can actually be considered strengths for this new Season. Instead we have the formation of the Legion of Doom, and honestly, the Doom-centric episodes of LOT are just some of the most adorable, bumbling arguing-amongst-yourselves villainy ever, and a sheer joy to watch. Picking up these new Legend character, Amaya and Nate, may have been a long shot, but the Hawk folk needed replacing. Amaya happens to be (or will be, whatever) the Grandmother of future Arrow heroine Mari McCabe also known as Vixen, which has already happened on the other show and is therefore canon, so Amaya struggles with the concept of proposed destiny holding her back from living her current life. As for Nate Heywood, he also has roots through his father and grandfather in the JSA, and a long comic book history of repeated use of the name Steel, both powered and not. Taken altogether, the newer parts of Legends of Tomorrow are mostly pluses, and far outweigh any comic book canon minuses. And the setup for Season Three of Legends of Tomorrow opens doors for all sorts of other well-known and lesser-known DC heroes, villains, and show cross-overs!

‘Cosplay Melee’ Premiere: Swing for the Fences!

Posted in Action, Anime, Cartoon, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Foreign, Historical, horror, Movies, Musical, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by aliciamovie

Cosplay_Melee_online

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

So the SyFy channel is taking another stab at the fandom with the mostest, the cosplayers! You know, those insane peoples who like to make their own, often movable, skit-able, even stage and screen-ready costumes, to bring their favorite fandoms to life! One can’t even say it’s a kids or younglings game anymore, in the premiere episode one of the contestants was over 40. This is a fandom that people of all ages, genders, colors and backgrounds love, and is generally acknowledged by true cosplayers as all-inclusive, meaning no-one should ever be excluded or discouraged from cosplaying, for really any reason. (The so-called Ambassadress of Cosplay, Yaya Han, got herself some disapproval after she claimed on the short-lived SyFy show Heroes of Cosplay that cosplaying isn’t necessarily for people with larger body types. And that was the nice way of re-wording what she said.)

Cosplay is officially a full-fledged fandom these days, rather than any kind of hobby. And it would have to be, considering cosplay can now cost you would not believe how much money, often to make a single costume replication absolutely spot-on perfect, and yet still be able to wander around conventions wearing it the entire time, of course posing for multiple pictures too. Cosplayers rarely get paid (I wanted to say never but times are changing and cosplayers are being hired to advertise video games and such now), and the making of these fan-atical costumes require a ton of work, time, and energy. I think everyone should try it, but honestly not everyone can do a good Cosplay. If we’re gonna have a game show based around the ability to Cosplay, it had better be good, better, best, a passion, an obsession, a love that is almost scary. And that’s actually what this new show seems to be presenting, thank goodness.

We have a host who is also a judge, Yvette Nicole Brown, of Community fame and apparently a huge fangirl of all things geeky; LeeAnna Vamp, named as one of the “Best Comic-Con Cosplayers of All Time” and nerdy fashion model, fan-atic, and all-around jane of all things geekery; and Christian Beckman, builder, costume designer, creator, President of Quantum Creation FX, Inc., his creations have adorned movies like Tron: Legacy, Men In Black 3, and Ender’s Game, just to name a few. Basically, we have the “everyman, I love everything” Judge (Brown), the “make it pretty” Judge (Vamp), and the “make it work” Judge (Beckman); that totally works for me.

Four contestant cosplayers come in to the lab, very similar to the one they have for Face Off, they get given the theme for this contest, and then they go by rounds to get to this weeks winner. The pilot episode theme is Space Opera, and the opening challenge is to begin from the head down, with a helmet or headgear for your original character from whatever fandom you’ve chosen. On to our contestants!

Fred, the eldest at some 40+, loves him some SciFi, and of course the gateway drug to that world was inevitably Star Trek, so guess which space opera he picked for his character. Xavier is the tall and very quiet black guy, the huge Star Wars fan who’s already made a fan-film from the ‘verse and making that armor was what got him into cosplaying in the first place, so his characters theme is chosen too. Grace is a cop in real life, somehow even with that incomprehensibly long red hair, so she chooses a bounty hunter character in the Guardians of the Galaxy universe, where badass women abound, as it should be. And finally, Alicia of the mermaid hair is mildly uncomfortable in this genre, so she chooses the world of Chronicles of Riddick for her character, with their Necromonger armor as inspiration.

The first round concludes and while I didn’t agree with the judges’ elimination choice (as often happens on these kinds of SyFy shows), I stuck around to see what the remaining contestants would come up with and who would win the $10,000 prize. Round two consisted of mechanical parts being presented to the players, that they had to make some sort of flying jet-pack doohickey with as part of their characters’ costume. Hot glue, flying craft foam and mayhem ensue.

In the end, the quiet Star Wars fan who was bullied as a child took home the win, as his costume was the most cohesive and easily read as being from the Star Wars universe. The judges were all kind and helpful and reluctant to choose one over another and thereby eliminate anyone, but I felt that’s simply because they wanted to encourage the players to continue doing what they love, cosplay, and not play up any lack on their part that caused the loss of the contest.

So far it’s a fairly standard SyFy contest show, in the vein of Face Off and the like, that you could actually learn cosplay techniques from if you pay attention. Not everyone has access to giant portable heaters and hot glue guns and craft foam with designations like they came from an aircraft carrier, but the show is making sure to name at least some of the things they’re using, and sometimes suggesting cheaper alternatives. It’s a fun little show and worth giving a try at least once.

Celebrate all the fandoms and fan-atics with Cosplay Melee on the SyFy channel, Tuesdays @ 10/9c!

‘Doctor Strange’: Marvel’s mysterious Master of magical mysticism is mesmerizing!

Posted in Action, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2016 by aliciamovie

doctor-strange-poster

Reviewed by Steven the Space Wizard

Director: Scott Derrickson

Studio: Marvel Studios

MPAA Rating: PG 13

The day is finally here, where I, Steve the Space Wizard, get to review a
movie about another wizard named Steve. Namely, Stephen V. Strange,
Marvel's mysterious master of the magical mysticism. Doctor Strange is the
titular character of Marvel's latest superhero movie, with British actor
Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame playing the sorceror. I must say, as
someone who's read a few Doctor Strange comics, I couldn't have asked for a
better movie. The following review has mild spoilers, so proceed with
caution, or just go out and see it (it's good, I promise).

The film starts with a monk being decapitated. Yeah not exactly a cheery
note. An evil wizard named Kaecilius (played by Mads Mikkelson) is stealing
a book of forbidden spells, and the poor sod is in the way. But Kaecilius
and his goons will stop at nothing for this power, so we see in the brief
opening gambit before Kaecilius disappears with his stolen booty.

Next, we are introduced to Stephen Strange, he isn't a wizard yet; he's an
extremely talented but arrogant doctor. It's a shade of House MD, as we see
a charismatic British actor fake an American accent to play an arrogant
doctor who can solve the most difficult medical cases. In the case of Dr.
Strange, he has the most skilled hands in the field of surgery, and he also
likes to drive expensive cars very dangerously, so we all know where this
going next. After a car accident ends up destroying the nerves in his
hands, the good doctor seeks to restore his career but now his hands are
useless for surgery, they shake and tremble. Desperate in search of a cure,
he makes his way to the Himalayas where he seeks out some alternative
medicine, with a large dose of skepticism.

He finds a place called Kamar-Taj in the mountains, which is a doorway to a
wizard school run by the enigmatic Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton), a
seemingly immortal wizard who currently holds the title of Earth's Sorceror
Supreme. Now Steve, being a man of science, dismisses the Ancient One when
she says she's a magic user. Steve thinks it's all just nonsense. Then she
hits him so hard his astral form is knocked out of his body and takes a
trip through a very psychedelic romp through multiple dimensions. Steve
thinks he's had the worst acid trip of his life, but slowly realizes the
Ancient One is a bona fide wizard with sweet magic powers. He begs her to
teach him. She says no. Bummer.

Dr. Strange camps out in front of the wizard school front door, with
nowhere to go and all his money spent, before he's let back in. The Ancient
One has changed her mind, thanks to her pupil Mordo (played by Chiwetel
Efiorjor), who sees a kindred soul in Steve. If you've read the comics, you
know Mordo eventually becomes Dr. Strange's arch nemesis, but now he's
still a good guy. It'll be interesting to see how their relationship
develops in later films.

Next, Dr. Strange slowly learns magic in a training montage at the wizard
school. This wizard school seems to be a multicultural institution which
happens to be stashed in the Himalayas, rather than the rather dated trope
of the original comics of implying that Asia has wizards because Asia is
exotic and magical. There was a backlash for casting the Ancient One as a
white Celtic wizard rather than the Asian mystic in the comics, but I don't
think any opportunities were lost there (your mileage may vary). Anyway,
Steve starts out kind of hopeless, but develops a talent for magic very
quickly. He meets fellow wizard Wong, who is a cynical badass and not a
manservant like in the original comics (thankfully). It is not before long
though, Kaecilius starts attacking that it all goes to hell, and Steve
needs to make a choice : go back to his life or become a wizard.

So obviously Dr. Strange chooses a life of wizardry (spoiler alert), like
Harry Potter, if Harry Potter was more of a badass and had awesome facial
hair. The wizard battles in this film are extraordinary. The visuals are
inspired by the Matrix and Inception, but amped up several notches as the
fabric or reality is bent and twisted as the characters battle it out on
various planes of existence. It's really trippy, just like the comics, and
a job well done to the filmmakers for that. One of the effects worth
mentioning is Dr. Strange's magic cloak, which is almost a character
itself. I think Edna Mode needs to revise her no capes rule now.

When the final confrontation happens with the big bad, Dr. Strange employs
his wits to defeat him, which I thought was the cleverest part of the
movie. All too often, the final battle concludes by being big and dumb and
loud (Avengers: Age of Ultron and any of the Zack Snyder DC movies), this
was a refreshing twist.

Marvel had a very good year, and this film is a great cap to their
achievements. I give Dr. Strange 4 out of 5 magic cloaks.


San Diego Asian Film Festival presents ‘The Royal Tailor’: Make Art until someone dies

Posted in Action, Comics, drama, Foreign, Historical, Movies, Romance with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2016 by aliciamovie

The_Royal_Tailor_Promotional_Poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Bidangil Pictures

Director: Wonsuk Lee

Review Rating: 8.5

The film rather incongruously begins with a modern-day showing of a fabulous hanbok (traditional Korean dress) wedding dress, apparently mistakenly attributed to the only royal tailor of Korea’s Joseon dynasty, Jo Dol-seok. After allowing the audience to admire the hanbok a moment, the movie moves right into what actually happened so long ago in the royal courts.

The King and the Queen of the courts have the rather standard relationship of many asian royal courts, which is to say, almost none at all. Because the King ignores his Queen, there are no children either. Jo Dol-seok has tailored clothing for three generations of Kings before finally working his way to the head of the Sanguiwon, the official department that makes royal clothing, and is justifiably proud of this fact. Dol-seok has very little in the way of imagination, innovation, and wants nothing to do with new ideas, so when the Queen asks him to repair a sacred robe belonging to the King that was accidentally burnt, Dol-seok has to say no. It’s against all tradition and for him, is akin to sacrilege. But the Queen is going to get into serious trouble if she doesn’t do something about the King’s robe, and this is how she meets Lee Gong-jin.

Gong-jin is young, handsome, reckless and headstrong. He also seems almost divinely inspired to make clothing, bright joyful colorful clothing in very non-traditional styles, for all women, not just the women of the court. The film credits Gong-jin with the newfangled bell shape of the hanbok and the introduction of brighter, happier colors. And at this point his fame has become fairly wide-spread, so much so that the Queen, desperate to find a tailor to fix the King’s robe, contracts Gong-jin to do the job.

This of course leads to all sorts of further palace intrigue – Gong-jin falls in love with the Queen, Dol-seok decides to let himself be used as a pawn in a plot to get rid of both the Queen and Gong-jin, and the King lets his need for loyalty outweigh proper good sense. As the film nears its climax and Lee Gong-jin is soon to be executed for his non-part in the plot with the Queen to overthrow the King, Dol-seok realizes he actually had a kindred spirit in the younger, flashier tailor, and comes to regret his part in the whole sorry mess. Not enough to let history remember the proper fashion designer to the Joseon dynasty, of course, but still. And thus, this being a rather traditional Korean film, the whole thing ends in tragedy, leading to the shameful execution of Lee Gong-jin, in sorrow and lamentations.

The film itself is sublime and I simply cannot say enough good things about it. Not because of the gorgeous well-replicated costumes, the lavish sets or even the very fine acting, but because of the manner in which the movie approached the fundamental need to make art. Like Jim Morrison of the long-remembered Doors band, the tailors in the film are tormented and at the same time delighted by the art they create with their own two hands. The absolute need to create art, as fundamental as breathing and even sometimes more important than that, speaks to the beautiful soul of every artistic person, famous or not, in the whole world. In this case, as with many other artists we lost far too soon, Lee Gong-jin and even his stilted counterpart Jo Dol-seok literally made art until someone died, and as tragic as that is, it is still a gorgeous and long-lasting testament to their artistic spirit.

‘Gotham’ Season 2 Finale: Place your bets

Posted in Action, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, horror, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2016 by aliciamovie

gothams2

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Season Two of the grittiest and arguably the darkest DC show on tv, our beloved Gotham, gave us the rise of so many villains, and answered so many burning (sometimes literally) questions, while of course bringing up brand new ways to put the laughter back in the slaughter our familiar Batman bad guys are doing. We met the legacy of the Joker in Jerome, we explored Arkham, took on the Court of Owls and Azreal himself, and that’s only the beginning. The casino, hell the fun park carnival ride of your deepest nightmares is coming to life in the underbelly of Gotham’s streets, and Jim Gordon, plus you know a forever exasperated Harvey Bullock and some cops too, are the only ones who can stop them!

I loved me some Penguin this season, but then, I am biased. Robin Lord Taylor is a giant sweetheart in real life, at least at Cons he goes to, yet he does great justice to the character Penguin. He kept trying to find himself, and nothing ever quite seemed to fit just right. We only knew him for an episode or two, but an amazing Paul Reubens, yes that guy, as Penguin’s long-lost father this season was epic. For me, it rather felt like we had been given a gift, a mini backstory from those few moments of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns where the Cobblepots (and a younger Paul Reubens as Father again) attempt to murder their monstrous son. If Father and son had known each-other a little bit longer, oh the mischief they could have gotten up to. As it stands, Penguin got his spirit back in the end, and in an enduring legacy from his graceful Father, a sense of fashion and dress unlike any other Gotham villain, clearly iconic and marking him as the Penguin Godfather we all know and love.

Oddly, as much as I adore Cory Michael Smith in the role, Riddler seemed relegated to a move-the-story-along character this season, and that’s unfortunate. Ed has always been presented as being at least potentially smarter than all of them, at least in his own mind, but too often this season he laughs maniacally and oh, just does whatever and mostly the right (for the bad guys) thing happens to, or because of, him. I got that when Ed killed his girlfriend and buried her, he went a little Mr. Happy psycho nuts for awhile, but then he decided to frame Jim Gordon and get him off the police force and off his case. Right? Why? Jim is clearly distracted by this other villainous nonsense, why does Ed keep reminding him? Because Jim needed to be outside the law when things really started to pop off and by then, Ed’s in Arkham along with the rest of them. Ed got found out, completely plausible, trooped off to Arkham, okay, and now he makes friends with Hugo Strange and plots his escape. I suppose I buy it, we just thought perhaps Ed’s smarts outweighed his crazy. Not this time. This season has been marketed as The Rise of the Villains and The Wrath of the Villains later on, but poor Ed’s part of the story struck me as a descent. His wrath wasn’t quite up to par either, but Ed only just became a villain, and so he gets some slack.

We’ve come round to Hugo Strange and oh the many twisted things he’s done. If you thought Arkham Asylum was bad, Indian Hill, where the real monsters live, is worse hell. Awful experiments go on down there, human/animal splicing and modern necromancy just for openers. A poor young girl, Selena’s friend in fact, nearly died from all those burns she took. Yet here she is reborn as the goddess Firefly in all her scarred and flame-throwing glory. Strange raised Victor Friez, that poor frozen dead man and his frosty wife story, from the dead and weaponized him, which worked for me and looked quite cool, but kind of relegated that whole epic tale to a side jaunt. Strange even brought Fish Mooney, you know you just heard Jada Pinkett Smith snarl her name in that voice too, back from the dead, memories intact and as unique as ever. Wong does well with iconic Hugo Strange mannerisms, somehow even the pinkish Lennon shades work too. Though his assistant, Ms. Peabody in her improbable purple lipstick glory, makes me distinctly uncomfortable. Which I assume is the whole point of her.

So, what do we know? We know most of the iconic characters of the show have managed, by means both fair and foul, to get into Arkham and even into Indian Hill. Where Hugo Strange is currently being told by his Masters to transfer all the patients and blow up the damned facility. Who’s the lady in the white owl mask? Oh that’s a very big can of worms, just go look up DC’s Court of Owls and prepare to be astounded. They want Strange to be able to resurrect the dead with their full memories and personality intact, no small job. Yet Fish Mooney lives, commands, hell she escapes and takes the bus-full of crazies with her. Fish survived the crash, took Butch and company, and let Penguin live after he fainted at the sight of her – it’s a very scary Fish Mooney return. We know Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox are now playing the quiz game with a maniacal Ed Nygma; from them we know Wayne Industries runs Indian Hill, and that boring little board of directors does not run Wayne Enterprises. It’s a secret society thing apparently.

We know that holy cow, Harvey Bullock can’t make speeches to save his life, and yet somehow he’s going to make a great GCPD Captain anyway. Heart you forever Harvey Bullock, especially when played by Donal Logue in all his rumpled glory. We know that Bruce Wayne will never be a boy again, he is now a little man capable of great acting and subterfuge, violence, even poverty. We know that Alfred Pennyworth forever and always kicks so much ass, Sean Pertwee just rocks that part so bloody hard.

I’d like to state for the record that we missed Morena Baccarin as Lee for most of this season, she was much better at grounding Jim Gordon than anyone else. Then again, some of the things he had to do in the fight against the freaking Mayor, Theo Galavant, or when he resurrected as Azrael (super-cool DC comics nod) or against Hugo Strange too, Lee didn’t need to be around for that. I was sorry she and Jim’s would-be child suffered the absentee cutting room floor treatment though. It is worth noting that we the audience didn’t actually see Lee disappear or suffer a miscarriage, so it’s entirely possible for a Baby Gordon problem out there in the next season.

Where do we end the Rise and the Wrath of oh so many beloved Batman villains? With yet more villains spilling out of that crashed forgotten bus, that’s where. Let the speculations begin, place your bets! Was it Killer Croc, certainly plausible with monster genes and non-aging involved; was that Man-Bat, that poor misguided scientist type who experimented so wrongly on himself; how about even a Jerome-infected laugh? And let us not forget the Bruce Wayne lookalike, whom we could lay wage is Lincoln March (don’t click unless you like major spoilage). Oh Gotham, you do justice to my love of Batman bad guy mythos. You’ve set the stage for a danse macabre of mobsters and real monsters in season 3 and I cannot wait.

It’s already been confirmed by the show that season 3 will have the Mad Hatter and the Tweedle brothers, presumably working with him; plus one of my personal favorite villains, Solomon Grundy, in what I sincerely hope will be the Halloween episode; and in keeping with the groundwork for mythology already laid for the Court of Owls, Talon should make an appearance as well.

There is literally nothing else like Gotham on TV right now, mixing the gritty cop drama with the magically psycho world of pre-Batman DC comics. It will be far too long a wait for season three, but I’m betting it will pay off in the end. Season one built the mob-laden world of Gotham’s underbelly, and season two absolutely reveled in the monstrous mayhem of legendary Arkham Asylum, so the mixing of crazypants mcstabby over here and armed-to-the-teeth gangsters over there virtually guarantee a hell of a badass heroes journey for James Gordon in season three. Seriously, if nothing else, mini-Catwoman Selina (Camren Bicondova) is the most wonderful little cat-burglar-in-training toughie we love as an adult; her scenes of mini-romance with Bruce Wayne this season gave long-reaching echo to the epic push-pull love between a certain thief and a be-costumed dark knight.

‘Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice’: Yer killin me, Bats

Posted in Action, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2016 by aliciamovie

BvS-movie-sign

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Zack Snyder

Studio: Warner Bros.

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

I actually liked this version of Batman, but very quickly came to think of him as the Bond kind of Batman. Full of toys and technology, bitter from past failures, effortlessly charming while never actually revealing anything, Ben Affleck somehow manages to bring to mind Daniel Craig’s current run of 007, and that is kind of bewildering. Jeremy Irons as Alfred immediately somehow becomes all the powerful supporting characters of Bonds life, from Moneypenny to M, chiding Batman as he does for his cruelty and yet offering unstinting support in all Batman does. We are offered a morsel of why Bats is this way when he stares at a dark suit in the Batcave a-plastered with Jokersign in sorrow and rage, and even those of us semi-in the know of the DC-verse can tell you, it’s alluding to the death of a Bat companion, most likely one of the Robins.

We learn all of this about Bats piecemeal, but what is immediately established at the outset is that Bats is hurting bad guys. And there are more than a few allusions to him outright killing people, when the situation demanded it. We are supposed to have established by now as just part of the Batman mystique, that Batman never kills, right? Period, end of story. Only now, he might be. But why? We the audience are never actually given an answer, and Bats deserved more.

I know Henry Cavil can act, I’ve seen him do it in The Tudors. You’ll note I don’t say Man of Steel because, while yes I did see it, I didn’t think it was particularly his finest work. A good deal throughout Man of Steel Cavill seemed to have this look of mild confusion, like he couldn’t understand why Superman was acting this way, either. And here he is again, as Superman, biting his lip and frowning the Superbrow but saying nothing as he’s accused and belittled and occasionally even reviled. We don’t expect you to go all Zod-killer on everything, Supes, but you could at least, I dunno, defend yourself.

The whole thing that Superman really needs to defend himself from, that controversy over what happened with Lois Lane, is just a horror-show. And really, Lane herself walks around the entire movie in a kind of dumb-show numbness, gamely doing her best to act as a character that’s been reduced from a woman strong enough to be Supes’ lady, to a whining damsel forever in distress and in eternal need of saving. Lois Lane, the woman that has been associated with Superman the longest, is now a vehicle for what plot there is to move along. Who needs backstory when there’s things to smash?

And then there’s Wonder Woman. Annnnd the other Leaguers. Let’s just cram as much backstory bites as we can into this movie so we can get to the hour of action, yee-ha! Gal Gadot as Diana Prince was perfectly serviceable for the screen time she got, which wasn’t much. I get that the movie is supposed to be a vehicle to the next Justice League DC movies coming out hopefully soonish, but to tack an icon like Wonder Woman onto this already bulging sandwich sub seems really optimistic. Prince has a teeny exchange with Bruce Wayne, is herself used as a vehicle to introduce the videos of the other Justice League potentials, and that is it before she dons those iconic duds and its off to fight Darkseid!

Is it really? Because, it seems to me, that the films actual big-bad is a big let down. The…crazy-Luthor-made from my blood and Zod’s body and something about a Kryptonian ship and a forbidden sort-of-science process turns out this CGI monstrosity that must’ve been a real bitch to fake fight against a green screen. Our actors valiantly battle on and look pretty good doing it, I have to give them that, Snyder can make the shit out of an action scene, oh yes. But he failed us at making any kind of scary villain for his opus movie.

And what about the Leaguers? This is another instance of trying to include way too much stuff into one movie. Dark Knight Rises suffered mildly from that too, but the BvS version is just a big ole hot mess. We see a robbery foiled by a speedster with that gold lightning bolt and we know, the Flash will be there in the next movie for sure. There’s already some minor controversy over the fact that Ezra Miller and not Grant Gustin will play Flash in the next movie, but that’s only if you watch tv at all. (I’m undecided as yet; I saw Miller do an astounding job in We Need to Talk About Kevin, but based on that, his version of Barry Allen will be quite different.) Next we have Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and his video moment was enough to elicit gasps, but all we got was a moment. And hey look, Ray Fisher as Cyborg is being tortured, I mean, helped, by his father Silas Stone. Each of these moments is our very brief introduction to the updated versions of the Justice League, an icon of DC comics that’s existed for decades. Boy that’s a lot of pressure. But Snyder is full steam ahead to get to the punching and the throwing of people around!

We’ve come round to Lex Luthor. And I have to agree with the general consensus: what the hell was that? I’ve actually liked some of Jesse Eisenberg’s roles, he does awkward-charming fairly well. Him as Snyder’s version of Lex Luthor was neither awkward nor charming, nor even coherent half the time. Luthor seems to a warped mirror face of the Luthor we normally know, mad with power and determined to stop at nothing to stop Superman. This Lex laughs at the most inappropriate things, rants like he’s a mini-Caesar, has genuine nervous tics and could be Norman Bates’ cousin. Lex Luthors known powerful voice and his ability to deliver the epic speech as Supermans ultimate nemesis is in evidence nowhere in here, and that is a shame. Even his determination and reasons for sending Darkseid against both Superman and Batman are at best muddy, at worst incomprehensible. We all know Lex Luthors Superman obsession drives him to do all sorts of crazy things, but we’re talking Legion of Doom kind of evil, not John Gacy with an alien fetish. Bond-Bats needs his Oberhauser and Nine Eyes, after all.

And yes, we will address the elephant in the room called, “Martha.” Now, while it never occurred to me until right then when the movie pointed it out, that the two orphans shared a love for a momma whose name was Martha, it can’t possibly be enough to halt the fighting right in its tracks like someone had flipped a switch. I call shenanigans. I mean, sure, Supes and Bats can stare at each-other a bit and perhaps have an actual conversation as they stagger to their feet, but this cannot instantly make them on the same side. We are denied what could finally be a beautifully written piece of drama between Batman and Superman, and it’s yet another shame.

Director Zack Snyder is a total fanboy and wants to do justice to the storylines at DC that he grew up loving, we can all totally get behind that. The trouble is he loves it all so much, he wants to try and include every last bit he can get away with, including an exclusive to DVD R-rating directors cut nonsense. Which will likely bring the whole movie, Snyder’s ultimate vision of it anyway, up to three solid hours of stuffing every single last sock he can find into the washing machine and hitting psycho-spin-cycle!

See, we here at the superhero-watching geek community have become mildly jaded on the whole superhero action movie deal. Marvel blockbusters don’t thrill quite as much as they used to, and Nolan’s Batman only proved how far and how dark beloved familiar characters can go. We’d be perfectly fine with a properly marketed hour and a half or so of nothing but Bats and Supes wailing on each-other, have at it! These pinches and dashes of plot from fanboy Snyder are trying to turn the action stew into a full-on film casserole, and a lot of us just don’t have the patience for pretentiousness anymore. And, it should be noted, you’ve set the bar really fucking high for the Justice League movie. Like, almost impossibly high.

The internet says Ben Affleck will be returning to direct and star in the next, I assume it is, standalone Batman film. Which I’m actually totally okay with, because if you remove all the external noise and fluff from around Bats in BvS, Batfleck is actually pretty hot. Just make sure you keep Jeremy Irons as Alfred on, damn it.

Next up in the DC movie-verse is Suicide Squad, and I think most fans are looking forward to it. After this  terrible version of a bad guy, we deserve to be treated to a whole squad of unapologetic real villains. And don’t get me wrong, there are some redeeming things to BvS, sure there are. Our collective expectations for a vehicle epic enough to open the door for the Justice League movies may have been a shade unrealistic, but no-one can deny that Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice is a bombastic movie that nearly any fan can at least enjoy parts of!

The Amazing Spiderman 2

Posted in Action, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Movies, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2014 by aliciamovie

the-amazing-spiderman-2-new-poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Marvel Enterprises

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Marc Webb

Review Rating: 7.5

Warning! All kinds of Spoiler-laden Review here!

Everyone’s favorite wall-crawler is back, to tackle nerd-turned-villain Electro, a rather crazy Harry Osborne as Green Goblin, and even a crazed machine-wearing Rhino!

Whew! Why, why, why so many villains in one movie? That’s three for Pete’s sake (get it?!), even the third movie of the previous Spiderman films didn’t go there. Maybe it’s because of the manner in which the movie was laid out story-wise. Often what plot there is, is breathlessly explained before Spidey has to dash off to yet another terrific web-slinging scene where he effortlessly trusses up bad guys while swooping through the air hanging by a thread! But is that fair to Spidey? Hardly. Nor is it fair to Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone), who is quite determined to continue dating Peter, despite the inherent spider-related dangers involved. Peter loves Gwen, and she loves him, their on-screen chemistry really is great. But skipping a girlfriends-family-dinner due to safety concerns, or missing Gwen’s valedictorian speech because he’s saving New York yet again, doesn’t make for a solid story, it’s just polaroids of the stuff Spidey’s stressing over. Our beloved wall crawler deserves better.

So Peter’s (Andrew Garfield) finally graduated high school, barely. Gwen’s already working, for Oscorp, big surprise. And somewhere in Oscorp, there’s this utter nerd who’s practically invisible to everyone else, Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx). Apparently a genius at things like power grids, Max gets starry-eyed when he’s saved by Spiderman, and his infatuation turns into full-blown fanaticism when, forced to stay late on his birthday at Oscorp and fix the power grid, Max gets his poor self involved in an accident that turns him into the bitter blue pill to swallow, Electro! But poor Max is confused and lost, and when he goes to Spiderman for help, in a huge electrical bonfire of a “look at my new powers! oh crap – the police!” scene, rampant destruction is sizzling all around him, and Max decides, as Oscorp hauls him away, that yes, if he can’t be famous, he’ll be infamous. Spidey betrayed him (I had to ask, how you figure that?) and now Electro will get his revenge, just as soon as he can break out of Oscorp’s basement. Which leads us to…

Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) was nowhere to be found in the first Spiderman reboot. Nor was he ever mentioned, as I recall. Well, whatever. He’s back from wherever he went off too, to see his father dying from what is generally termed the Osborne curse, some sort of physical malady that literally turns them into a goblin-like creature. … Okay? Sure, we’ll go with that. Osborne Sr. has just passed on from the curse, Harry thinks he’s just going to be taking over the company lickety-split (boy is he in for a rude shock), and there’s only one thing standing in his way: Harry thinks he needs, wait for it, Spiderman’s blood in order to stop his families legacy from destroying Harry from the inside-out! Well, we can’t do that, it’s far too dangerous. Hell, Spidey even drops in on Harry in full costume and tries to explain, only to get ejected and reviled for his trouble. It’s not as though Harry Osborne is used to rejection, but his reaction is a bit much. We’re gonna…let me see if I have this right – break into Oscorp, steal the spider venom of the original spider-creatures that Peter’s own father was working on, and inject ourselves in the hopes that that will do something against the Osborne curse. Well, it did something all right. And the Goblin legacy is born, complete with outfit and flyer jacked from Oscorp on the way out! Where is he going? Why, to go confront Spiderman for yet another betrayal (boy Pete just can’t catch a break from all these betrayals), immediately after Spidey’s amazing electrical combat with Electro in the cities power grid! But wait. Gwen, being the iron-determined girl she is, has chosen to be with Spiderman in these moments of confrontation, and she pays the final price for it. Tossed off a roof that’s imploding, Spidey is desperate to save the woman he loves with all his soul, no matter what it might cost him. The manner of Gwen’s death, as portrayed in the film, can be interpreted as the same as Stacey’s original death, but a watered-down version. Which is such a damn shame, their love and her death deserved more, than just a blip of a funeral and hey it’s been a few months and everyone is still depressed, where did Spiderman go?

And that is the one thing that ASM 2 has truly going for it – Spiderman himself. Whenever Peter puts on that mask (not the outfit mind you, we see him often shucking his tights with burns, acid holes and other who-knows-what-that-was stains), he literally becomes another person entirely. The best scenes of the movie are where Spidey swoops in to save the day, and always and forever has a kind word for each and every downtrodden schmo he just rescued. Spidey makes a point of making every single last person, all those faceless saps just existing and going through the motions out there in New York, feel like they matter, and to Spiderman too. That truly is amazing. The graphics are terrific and all, and yes, watching Spidey fly through the air with the greatest of ease about New York’s skyscrapers is awesome, but it’s these small moments of Spidermans kindness that truly get us.

So Peter is in mourning and the movie is about to end, in sadness and despair. Right? Wait! What happened to Paul Giamatti as Rhino? *le sigh* He got tacked on in a minute fourth act, that’s what. Rhino, in his badass mech-rhino suit, is rampaging down a city street, and there isn’t diddly the police can do. Where is Spiderman? He needs to be reminded, yet again, about that whole “with great power comes great responsibility” deal, but not by this method. Every little boy (and girl too, why be biased?) should emulate his hero, but not to the point of donning a costume with no powers whatsoever and stepping out to confront the mechanized monster. The Amazing Spiderman does don his mask and swing in to save the day, of course, but damn after this if he hasn’t finally earned some rest! A Heroes work is never done.