Thoughts On Justice League

JL Film PosterIt’s been years since I’ve written a review of anything, but after seeing Justice League on opening day, I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my mind.

First up, I’m a big Justice League fan. I’ve always been a DC Comics diehard and have been devouring comics since before puberty, so I have thirty years of minutiae stored up in my brain to “impress” my friends and answer the occasional quiz question. When DC rebooted their entire line with the New 52 initiative, I pretty quickly stopped feasting on superhero comics, but I do enjoy the occasional nibble.

In short, I was disappointed with the JL film. Yes, there were some good things about it, and there was some serious behind the scenes issues that led the film to not being all it should’ve been, but with that in mind, here are a few bullet points.

I like Ben Affleck. He’s a great actor and director, and is actually a pretty good choice to play an older Batman. However, just because he has pointy ears and a gruff voice doesn’t make him the Dark Knight. When asked what his superpowers are, Batman answers, “I’m rich.” That’s not something Batman would say. That’s a Tony Stark line. It doesn’t belong here. With the Flash and Cyborg, the film has enough humour. Don’t drag Batman in to it too. Let him be Batman. Not everyone needs to be witty.

The first scene is all about how Superman inspires people, and how his death at the hands of Doomsday at Batman v Superman has united the world in a sense of loss. In the two Superman films we’ve seen starring Henry Cavill prior to this, there’s nothing inspiring about him. He doesn’t inspire. He terrifies! He’s not warm, and smiling. Thor has taken the role that Superman should have. If you ask anyone (kids or adults), who’d they’d love to hang out with, I’d imagine most would easily choose the happy god of thunder over the glowering, morose Man of Steel. This is a Superman who allowed his earthly Dad to die, caused massive property damage and killed Zod infront of a traumatised family, when he had so many other options available. (Fly him up to space! spin him round so he loses consciousness! even break his limbs! anything but neck snapping!). The Superman who has existed for almost a century in pop culture, and who will outlast all film makers, is someone who cherishes life and only takes it as an absolute last resort. The last time Superman was properly portrayed was in the 1980s with the maginificent Christopher Reeve. Who else could say, “I like pink very much Lois,” with a straight face, let alone with gravitas and sincerity? The world would not mourn the death of this version of Superman. They barely knew him, let alone embraced him.

There was a cleaner who showed up briefly at STAR Labs. They could’ve made him Rudy Jones, who becomes the Parasite, and as Kevin Smith pointed out – even the thief at the start of the film could’ve been a DC character, rather than a generic bad guy. Again, the terrorists who Wonder Woman stops could’ve been anyone from DC’s rich history, like Cheetah, or the Royal Flush Gang, or even someone linked to Steppenwolf, to give the villain  much needed dramatic weight. Speaking of which…

Steppenwolf had no visible motivation. A scene where he’s speaking to a hidden Darkseid would’ve helped tremendously. Perhaps he could be sent off to earth amidst cheering crowds from Apokolips, or he’s failed to conquer other planets before and this is his last attempt before Darkseid executes him in dishonour, and he thinks earth will be an uneasy target. As it is, Steppenwolf just shows up to cause havoc and..be bad.

There was no need for the jokes at Aquaman and the approach they took to make him the tough guy was desperate. I can imagine the writers thinking, “Quick! Let’s make fun of Aquaman before the audience does, and then we’ll show how grumpy and angry he really is. That’ll shut them up!” Aquaman is a great character, as Peter David has shown with his tremendous run on the comics. When your film stars apologizing for a great character, it’s not off to a good start. The acting here is great though, and Jason Momoa, like his castmates does a great job with these versions of the characters.

The Russian family at the final battle was odd. Perhaps it was meant to be a microcosm of the potentail destruction the rest of the world would face, like the family at the end of Batman v Superman was.

Okay, now the good points….

It was pretty awesome to see Superman unleashed and take on the whole League single-handedly. Oh yeah.

The humour generally works, with the scene with Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s lasso a nice touch.

The Mother Box battle/Amazonian escape was thrilling.

Both end credits scenes are great, and even the actual credits thanked comics creators such as Jack Kirby, and I noticed Detective Crispus Allen, who eventually becomes The Spectre, listed as a character. Nice.

DC’s animated films have a much better track record of their live action output, barring the last two (The Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn) and I’m excited to see the two Death and Return of Superman animated films that kick off next year.

Geoff Johns is a legend and super talented writer, so his continued involvement in any live action DC films is a huge step in the right direction. I am cautiously optimistic about what DC has planned next, and the Wonder Woman film showed that they can get it right. Come on DC. You can do it!

My First Book Is Out!

I must say, after over a year of focused work, it’s a great feeling to open a box and see books with my name on it. It’s a grand feeling to finally hold it in my hands and know it’s real! 🙂

Beautiful Nonsense is an anthology of 35 funny and odd short stories, in the vein of Monty Python, Blackadder, Jack Handey, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Here’s my official description below the photos.

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An out of touch father trying to teach his bored son a unique form of martial arts.

A flashy superhero who cares more about his image than actually doing anything heroic.

A shy Martian longing to fit into high school in the American Mid-West.

The thirty five short stories within Kris Bather’s debut range from the bizarre (elderly friends hazily recounting their glory days) to the even more bizarre (competitors in a chili eating festival happily willing to die for first prize).

Surreal and silly, Beautiful Nonsense embraces the inherent oddness of interactions, both human and otherwise, and takes them to hilarious extremes.

You can buy the digital version for only $1.49 from the Amazon Australia store. The print version as well as the digital version are also available from Amazon’s other sites worldwide, including America and the UK. Canada! France! Brazil! India! Germany!

You can check out a preview of my book on the links above, but it is a random preview, so you may not get my complete stories. However you can check out full previews on my Wattpad.

It’s published through CreateSpace, which is effectively Amazon’s self-publishing arm, and I highly recommend it. Anyone can publish their books via CreateSpace and with Amazon’s global reach, it makes a lot of sense for indie authors like myself.

It’s been a challenging process at times, but also a very rewarding one. If you do buy a copy, I hope you like it and please let me know what you think.

Hillsong Films

Successful Christian band Hillsong United has a new live project being released next week, and it looks, and of course sounds, amazing. of Dirt and Grace was recorded in Israel, and below you can see the trailer for the live DVD, as well as a great rejig of Prince of Peace, one of my fave songs off their last album Empires.

Besides that project, Let Hope Rise, is an exciting new documentary that opens in September, which follows Hillsong and the impact and origins of their church and music ministry.

Introducing Cross Words

As in, words about the cross of Christ. It’s my new blog, and Instagram account.

I’ve been using Canva, a great free, graphic design site to create posts with Scripture or song lyrics or some phrase that pops into my head. I’ve created about half a dozen posts so far (the latest design is below). I post my designs on Instagram and on the blog, but write a couple of paragraphs on the blog, so please feel free to check it out and I hope it inspires and encourages you to get to know God more. 🙂

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Overrun

Writer Andi Ewington (the excellent 45 OGN from publisher Com.x a few years ago) has been busy lately, creating new series such as Six, and Sunflower. He’s also added the high concept series Overrun, to his impressive resume (along with writer Matt Woodley),all 4 issues of which are available now on various digital platforms such as iBooks and Kindle.

It’s a gorgeous looking book with a wonderful premise, described below.

The city is at a breaking point. Living space is running out. Those in power are forced to execute a desperate measure – introduce a poison to wipe out a huge part of the population.

This is no ordinary city, however. Overrun takes the reader into the heart of their own computer. Citizens are files. There are .xls business people, sexy spams and hip musician .mp4s. The space which is running out is memory – the poison a computer virus.

Political intrigue and epic action scenes take place inside this lovingly crafted world as we follow a group of friends, forgotten computer game heroes, as they fight their way through the virus infection which is transforming their fellow citizens into memory sucking zombies.

Popular web site Bleeding Cool describes it as, “Tron meets Dawn of the Dead,” which is as tantalising as it sounds. Beyond those striking covers, the interior art is supplied by Paul Green, known for his work on Flash Gordon from Ardden Entertainment. Green, with great effects and lettering by Troy Peteri and Joshua Cozine, makes the pages pop, as you can see from a few random pages below.

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For more info, check out the Overrun site.

 

 

Perth 4 Jesus

This healing event has been running in Perth for the last 6 years and is on again this year. This is the first time I’ve heard of it, but there’s some great testimonies of healing and miracles taking place. Pastor Robert Kayanja returns to Perth from Uganda and there’s going to be dance performances and worship music.

It’s a free event, with free parking and is held on three nights, from Friday October 30 to Sunday November 1 at 7pm. The venue is HBF Stadium (formerly known as Challenge Stadium) at 100 Stephenson Ave, Mt Claremont.

See their site for more details, and bring your family and friends. God is living and active, and loves to astound us the power, freedom and victory He offers.

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The Martian and The Christian

The Martian, based on the Andy Weir novel of the same name, is a different sci-fi film from director Ridley Scott. There’s no obvious enemy with the face of an alien or cyborg, but it’s still a terrifically tense tale.

Sometime in the future, the Alpha III manned mission to Mars goes awry, leaving presumed dead astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) stranded and alone.

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Upon finding out of their colleague’s survival, the crew must decide whether to carry on their planned, long return journey to Earth, or risk their own lives by turning around to rescue him. This kind of sacrifice made me think of Jesus’ words in John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Of course, that’s what Jesus has done for us. We are precious in His sight, and to bring us back to the Father, He did what He had to do to make that happen – He surrendered his life. He didn’t argue, or fight, or run. Earlier, in John 10:18 Jesus told his disciples (who were also his close friends) that no-one takes his life from him, but he lays it down willingly. For me, for you, for us all – he gave up his life. He knew what the price was (his death) but also what the prize was (our redemption).

That really is the gospel message. God created the world, and made humans, not because He’s lonely, but because He’s loving. When those humans disobeyed God, that relationship with Him was severed but His love for us never changed. God’s not an emotional being as we are, in that He isn’t erratic or changes His mind. That’s why He’s able to love us with patience and persistence. He has never given up on humanity, His dearest and most precious creation, and He knew the only way to restore our relationship with Him was to have His Son Jesus suffer the punishment we deserved, on our behalf.

That heart for humanity has never left God. He longs to have a relationship with us all; to reveal His truth and love and power to, and through, us.

Besides the sacrifice of his friends, and the intelligence of NASA, the other aspect that led to Mark’s survival on Mars was his determination. Through determination, Watney had to learn to make food, water and shelter and to do all he could to return home. When we are desperate for something, we are willing to let go of things that hinder us from that goal. Our money and time are precious commodities, so we must learn to use them wisely.

Paul said in Philippians 3:12 that, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” He goes on to say that he forgets what lies behind and uses descriptions such as “straining toward what is ahead,” and challenges, “all of us who are mature” to take such a view.

Paul uses the runner analogy in 1 Corinthians 9 when he encourages believers to go in to strict training because the eternal prize is worth it. We are not called to run aimlessly, but to run with our eyes fixed heavenward. That is our motivation, moreso than any earthly rewards such as riches or acclaim which are only temporary.

We compete, not against others, but against those things that would hinder us from running the race He has called us to run. Following Christ is not a short sprint but a long marathon. It requires endurance, discipline and focus. It requires saying yes to things that draw us closer to our godly goal, and to say no to those things which distract us.

In the film, Watney ponders the fact that he is the loneliest man in the universe. No-one has ever been more distant from other life than he is. Of course, no matter where we go, we are never alone. It is one of the most joyful promises we have as children of God. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to not be afraid because He will never leave us or forsake us. Some of Jesus’ last words were to remind us of this truth, as Matthew 28:18 states, “I am with you always.” Psalm 139 also wonderfully captures His everpresence with verses such as,”If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.”

No matter where we are, we are never alone.