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!

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.

Kung Fury Now Online

Two years ago the trailer to Kung Fury was released. You’d remember if you saw it, but it’s an over the top, action filled love letter to the wonders of the 80s and 90s and includes time travel, dinosaurs, Hitler and rampaging arcade machines. Successfully funded through Kickstarter the whole 30 minute zaniness, starring and directed by David Sandberg can now be seen.

Oh, and the theme song is from David Hasselhoff.

The Avengers In Hong Kong

They really know how to promote blockbusters in Hong Kong. I mean, look at this awesomeness! This is from a purpose built display, created for last month’s Avengers sequel. As you can see, all the main characters have been assembled, plus the exquisitely detailed model work of Hot Toys has been thrown in for good measure. Apparently e large models are available for purchase after the end of the promotion, but I’m sure that’d be a fierce biding war – plus you’d need lots of room in your house to store them and impress your friends.

The best we get in Perth are  large posters and maybe a cardboard display at the big cinemas.

This makes me want to see the film again!

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Two Recent Films I Recommend

The Tower

South Korean. 2012. Set during Christmas time, in a skyrise, but it’s not Die Hard! The Tower is a great disaster film which shows the destruction of a massive building called Tower Sky. Yes, occasionally it has Hollywood levels of predictability, with families trying to connect, people hoping for love, sacrificial heroes, etc, but the films’ director was inspired by the 1974 film The Towering Inferno. It’s filled with good action, drama and special effects.

The Tower

 

 

Doomsday Book.

South Korean. 2012. Three sci-fi stories in this diverse anthology. A Brave New World follows two young lovers, one of whom goes nutty and zombified after some bad meat, and then the epidemic begins, all thanks to one bad apple – literally. The Heavenly Creature features an I, Robot looking robot who has attained enlightenment. It looks like there’s no CGI involved in the Buddhist robot either, which the film makers use rather well. It has lots of talking between himself and the monks who he lives with in a temple, and the robotic company who made him who believe he is faulty and needs to be exterminated, as robots need to know their place. Happy Birthday is the last story and is wonderfully funny at times. A meteor is about to hit Earth, but can one little girl be responsible for calling it to us?

If you liked Cloud Atlas (and I did), you’ll like this film. It’s not as epic as Atlas, but it also shares an actress – Bae Doona, who played the revolutionary clone in Atlas. All three of the short stories have unique hooks and origins of catastrophe that set them apart from similar stories in their genres.

The Doomsday Book

 

Batman vs Terminator Fan Film

This is a good week to be a Terminator fan. It’s an even better week if you’re a Terminator team-up fan. Announcement below from Dark Horse Comics about their classic Robocop vs Terminator deluxe collection.

And underneath that is a 5 minute animated short film set in a Skynet driven future, in which The Dark Knight Returns-era Batman does what he does best. It’s almost dialogue free, but has great visuals and direction. Well done to Tony Guerrero and Mitchell Hammond for crafting this beauty.

DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES TWO ALL-NEW EDITIONS OF FRANK MILLER AND

WALTER SIMONSON’S CLASSIC

ROBOCOP VS. THE TERMINATOR SERIES!

Nearly twenty years after its first publication, the classic four-issue miniseries that teamed two great characters with two great creators, Frank Miller and Walter Simonson’s RoboCop versus The Terminator, returns to print in two formats: a hardcover graphic novel and a gallery edition!

Comics’ greatest creators pit the supreme machine killer against the ultimate cybernetic cop in one of the most celebrated crossovers ever! When fate reveals that the technology that built RoboCop will lead to the creation of Skynet, Alex Murphy must engage in time-twisting battle against both the murderous computer network and the human resistance fighters out to destroy him! This newly restored collection features remastered colors from Steve Oliff and an introduction by 2 Guns writer Steven Grant!

The super deluxe RoboCop verus The Terminator Gallery Edition ushers in Dark Horse’s new gallery series format—reprinting Walter Simonson’s original art at full size, exactly as it appeared on his drawing table! Relive Simonson and writer Frank Miller’s seamless blend of the RoboCop and Terminator worlds while marveling at the sheer virtuosity of Simonson’s draftsmanship in all its original glory.

In addition to the full story, the gallery edition provides the greatest insight available into Simonson’s process, with pages of his original pencils and promotional art faithfully reproduced, along with a revealing foreword by the artist himself!

“When Frank first sent me the story for the series, I loved it. And it was both a treat and a challenge to try to bring it to life in pictures,” said Walter Simonson. “I couldn’t be more pleased to see RoboCop versus The Terminator back in print after all these years. I can only hope that a new generation of readers will take as much delight in discovering the series as we took in creating it.”

The RoboCop versus The Terminator hardcover graphic novel collection arrives on sale at finer comic shops everywhere on July 2, 2014, for $24.99. The gallery edition will be available on July 9 for $125.

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New Godzilla Trailer

Bryan Cranston is freaking out! I would too.

It would appear the film is also tying in to the Japanese original, which is a nice surprise.