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I miss Bibbo.

§ August 27th, 2018 § Filed under death of superman, movie reviews § 6 Comments


Bibbo is, of course, the rough-hewn but good-hearted sailor who turns up in the Superman family of books shortly after the Byrne reboot in the mid-1980s. He was a semi-regular member of the supporting cast for quite a while, though his funnybook appearances have declined to a far more sporadic occurrence of late. However, he’s made it into DC’s newest attempt at adapting the “Death of Superman” to animation, in the aptly-named DVD/Blu-ray/digital release The Death of Superman.

Now, as compared to the original animated movie (discussed on this very website a mind-staggering eleven years ago), it hews much closer to the original comics, though seen through the lens of DC’s semi-New 52-ish continuity they’ve been painting onto these direct-to-home-video releases over the last few years. And this is probably the closest we’re going to get to whatever the New 52/Rebirth version of “Death of Superman” is, as it apparently existed in the new continuity (and was referenced in this interminable storyline that I don’t remember anything about aside from the terrible cover designs). Of course, now with the merging of the post-Byrne/pre-Flashpoint Superman with the New 52/Rebirth continuity, the original “Death of Superman” story is probably back in play, more or less, and…ugh, look, don’t get me started.

Anyway, this new cartoon corrects the main error of the original cartoon adaptation, in that Superman dies (um, SPOILER?) and is just straight up gone until the next movie eventually rolls around sometime in 2019, as opposed to his being gone for a few minutes in that first cartoon and then popping back up again. So yes, there will be at least the real world illusion of Superman being “gone” as we all patiently await the sequel. Not quite as effect as with the actual comic book event, where the Superman books continuied without any Superman in them, and even that brief hiatus in publishing his titles for that summer…quite the shocking turn of events after being used to weekly installments for the character.

We’ll also be getting, in that aforementioned sequel, the replacement Supermen (Steel, Superboy, Cyborg Superman, The Guy with the Weird Glasses), so it’s following the comics’ lead there as well. Also, this new movie had regular Lex Luthor, not Lex’s-brain-in-a-younger-clone-body-pretending-to-be-his-Australian-son Luthor which is a real strange artifact of weird subplotting at the time of the original event. (But still amusingly referenced in the film as a disguise worn by Luthoer.)

Speaking of strange artifacts, this costume just gets more and more dated:


…and with any luck maybe the payoff of the sequel will be Superman’s return to his classic costume. It’s so much of Its Time, and will only be remembered when people look back at this era of comics entertainment and say “man, remember that lame costume Superman was in? Who approved that idea?” It’s the Superman mullet of the modern day. Though it would be hilarious if the mullet shows up in the sequel. Would be comics-accurate, after all!

Despite all that, the costume isn’t that much of a distraction. Superman’s innate heroism shines through the story, and that’s the important bit. The movie is very action-packed, though with sufficient character moments to keep it from being entirely a brutal slugfest. And speaking of that, the cartoon certainly conveys just how brutal the battle is, and how outmatched all the rest of the Justice League is in their own attempts at slowing down Doomsday.

Overall, a nicely done film, I thought, and I look forward to the follow-up. But…in that one impact, where Superman slams into Doomsday with Lois Lane standing right there…I mean, that should’ve killed Lois, right? All those shockwaves they showeed and such? Lois was pretty much right there at the point of impact. …Anyway, nitpicking.

The special features are…okay, I guess. I think I was hoping for more background on the actual original event in the documentary, which you get a little of, but mostly it’s talk about the film and adaptation of the story elements from the original comics. Lots of Jon Bogdanove in there. And I suppose the doc on the first Doomsday DVD kinda covered the comics end of things sufficiently.

You also get a preview of the next movie, the one with all the faux Supermen in it, and you get a couple of Legion of Super-Heroes episodes from the TV series, featuring those weird redesigns I didn’t care for.

But enough about “Death of Superman,” let’s talk about…”Death of Superman,” as, due to a bit of fortuitous timing, my former boss Ralph brought me another box or three of old comics promo stuff from Long-Ago Times for me to poke through. And whaddya know, there’s some Death of Superman stuff located within. Such as, for example, these ads for t-shirts from Graphitti Designs (which you’ll have to click to enlarge in order to read ’em clearly):

Where was I? Behind the counter selling the darn comics, or managing the giant line of customers snaking through the store, that’s where I was.


“Wait, we still have regular ol’ Superman shirts to sell! Uh oh, how do we sell ’em?”

“DRAPE THEM IN BLACK.”

[slaps forehead] “Of course!”

Also click to embiggen this, so you can see the tastefully-muted Bloody S:


“The only card line to capture this incredible event…those bastards at Topps tried to get Superman’s death into their hockey cards, but NO GO, AMIGOS.”

While on the topic of tastefulness, here’s a slick provided by the publisher for our advertising convenience:


I wonder if the people I saw with that Bloody S tattooed on their arms still have ’em? (If I remember correctly, at least one celebrity Bloody-S-tattoo-haver had it covered up or removed.)

And here we go, the actual solicitation information from DC Comics for Superman #75, the actual Death issue…first, the blurb from the Coming Comics catalog cover for items releasing in January 1993:


One of the few instances where the publisher wasn’t kidding when they said “oh, yeah, actual real world media may be interested in this, so order lots.”

And here’s the issue’s solicitation itself:


I seem to remember ordering ten times our normal Superman numbers on this…”that should be more than enough,” we thought.

Oh, and here’s DC’s own t-shirt solicitation:


“QUANTITIES ARE LIMITED to however many millions our factories are phyiscally able to crank out.”

The event of course was so big, other publishers referenced it in their catalogs:


So there you go, more Death of Superman stuff than you can possibly stand, the latest installment in a long line of me talking about the same damn thing over and over again. But of course I’ll talk about it again when that second “Death of Superman” cartoon finally comes out, so get ready for that!

Besides, what else am I going to talk about?


I mean, honestly.

That really is an awful thing to say about Age of Ultron, but I really don’t mean it that way.

§ August 15th, 2018 § Filed under movie reviews § 4 Comments

Just gonna keep this one short, since I need my beauty sleep…and if you’ve ever seen me, you know that’s true. Anyhow, I picked up the Avengers: Infinity War Blu-ray Tuesday night, partially on a whim, partially because my girlfriend requires ownership of all the recent Spider-Man cinematic appearances, and partially because I never did get to go see this while it was in theaters and I figured watching it at home with having to deal with the sounds and smells of other people sharing a room with me would be a preferred experience. This was the first of the current spate of Marvel movies that I didn’t catch in its original theatrical run, which feels a little weird…that comic collector in me, needing to keep my “run” complete, I suppose. I mean, I was there for the very first Marvel movie (starring Howard T. Duck, my friends), I’d hate to miss the rest. Though I missed Ant-Man and the Wasp, so that’s two, I guess.

So, the movie. I enjoyed it! Certainly liked it more than the previous Avengers film, which I didn’t much care for when I caught it at the local moviehouse. Though, I have to admit, over the last couple of years, as I’ve seen bits and pieces of Age of Ultron on television, I find that I seem to appreciate it more in smaller segments rather than as a whole. …There’s probably no good way to say “the less of it I see, the more I like it,” but that’s kinda sorta the case here. Maybe one of these day, when I somehow squeeze an eighth day during one of my forthcoming weeks, I’ll give the whole movie another go, beginning to end.

Okay. SO. THIS MOVIE. THE “INFINITY WAR” ONE THAT I ACTUALLY JUST WATCHED. I heard a lot about how folks were impressed that they managed to get so many characters into so many action sequences in this film without it feeling too crowded or complicated and…well, yeah. I can’t disagree. My problem with the previous Avengers flick is that it felt like we’d seen it all before, that the novelty of seeing a pile of superheroes onscreen was no longer there, and we didn’t get anything to replace that novelty to keep interest up. Here, the sheer amount of characters and the configurations in which they were placed brought a freshness to the proceedings. Even when it’s “CGI VERSUS CGI,” I was still invested enough in the story to buy in. The various plotlines were clearly told, the fights easy to follow (always a problem in this “hold the camera up close and shake it around a lot” era of action moviemaking), and pretty much every character that appeared was given something of significance to do. No draggy spots, either…it managed to keep the pace up without ever feeling like it was too much.

My only real complaint was that Thanos’s head was too long. And maybe he should have been a darker purple. THIS IS WHY YOU’RE NOT GETTING A “BEST PICTURE” OSCAR, PEOPLE.

In conclusion, I liked it just fine. Obviously there’s going to be a giant “reset button” resolution in the next film, undoing the rather dramatic events of this one. And I fully expect Chekhov’s Hulk to be fired at someone next time ’round, too. But I think overall it was a good showcase for the various elements of Marvel’s film franchise…which is kind of the purpose of superhero team-ups anyway, to sell folks on other superheroes. Maybe I’ll try to catch the next one in an actual movie theater…NO PROMISES.

Thanksgiverlings.

§ November 23rd, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews § 6 Comments

Ah, one of the few days of the year where I can bend the bars, roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape from the shop. Yup, ain’t no Mike at the store today, so you all are just going to have to wait ’til Friday to pick up your extra copies of Frank Miller’s The Spirit Blu-rays for the holiday season. In the meantime, I plan to…hell, I don’t know, what does one do with this “free time” I’ve heard about in whispered legends? …I actually had a customer say to me on Wednesday “you are taking the day off, right? You’re always working!”

This looks like one of those lost weeks here on the blog…late start with a Tuesday post, and ain’t nobody checking in during the holiday weekend, so…yeah, let’s all meet up here again next week. I’ll bring the dip. …Me, I’m the dip, in case you were wondering.

However, let me comment on a couple of things before I send you off to argue with your relatives about the political matter of choice:

1. Saw the Justice League movie, which was just fine. Lots of action, sufficient humor, all the characters got their time (or times) to shine, and was just good old fashioned fun. Not a perfect movie…no movie is perfect, save Cabin Boy…but for folks who’ve been wanting a DC Universe live action movie that isn’t dark and dour, well, here you go! Yes, the villain is just a dude who wants to destroy things for its own sake, but served well as a plot device to spur our heroes into action. And yes, most of the film is about as deep as a sidewalk puddle…no attempts at the “big questions” or themes here, like in MoS or BvS…but that first Avengers movie was empty calories, too, and we all seemed okay with that.

Also, didn’t seem to notice Henry Cavill’s CGIed lip or a surfeit of midriff-baring Amazon warriors…you know, the things everyone was complaining about.

Anyway, the movie’s plenty entertaining, and just from my personal experience, still seems to be attracting audiences…we had to go to two theaters, on a Tuesday night even, to find a showing we could get into.

2. So I got my signed comp copies of Cryptid Cinema in the mail from Steve Bissette, and here’s what he put on my envelope:


WELL HA HA GUESS THIS ENVELOPE IS A PERMANENT PART OF THE COLLECTION, WHAT CAN I DO

See you guys next week, and thanks for reading.

I’m sure my complaining about kids today and their cellular phones doesn’t make me sound old at all.

§ July 10th, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews § 4 Comments

So here’s something I haven’t done in a long time…gone to a big blockbuster film on the very first day it opens to general release. I mean, I used to do it all the time, 20, 25, even 30 years ago. I had to go The Very First Day because I didn’t want anyone else spoiling things for me, and also because I’d get all excited for these films and I just couldn’t wait.

Nowadays, I don’t have quite the energy or enthusiasm that I did for movie-going, as I slowly slip into my dotage. Part of it is not caring nearly as much about spoilers, part of it is not wanting to deal with huge crowds, part of it is everyone’s friggin’ cell phones that they apparently paid 10 bucks a ticket so they could sit in a dark room and look at them. There’s also the fact that movies tend to get released to home video right quick and I have a large widescreen TV at home and a Blu-ray player and the ability to pause when nature calls. Blah blah blah get off my lawn, etc.

Generally, if I do go to movies, it’s either the following the first weekend, when the crowds have died down a lot, or two or three months after said film has opened, when we go onto the local Navy base and see movies in the free movie theater that’s offered for Navy personnel, their families, or civilian Naval employees (the latter category my girlfriend falls under). The Navy theater was how I got to see Logan, for example. And this fine flick.

But anyway, as I said, I did go to a film on opening night last week, thanks to the girlfriend’s nephew buying tickets for his family, my girlfriend and me for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The theater was in this giant newly-built mall, it was packed, there was also an outdoor festival going on, it took me nearly half an hour to find a parking space (on pretty much the exact opposite side of the mail from where the theater was located), and I was plenty stressed by the time we all managed to get to our seats just in time for the 20 minutes or so of trailers.

However, the actual viewing experience was fine. It was crowded, yes, but we had good seats right in the middle of the theater (this particular showing had assigned seating, and apparently the nephew ordered early enough to get his pick of seats), nobody around us was too obnoxious (though at the end of the film I had to tune out the guys behind me talking about Spider-Man comics — NO WORK TALK ON MY FREE TIME, PLEASE), and the projection at this theater seemed to be properly lit (as opposed to this other local small midtown theater that always seems to project their movies through several sheets of black construction paper).

Yes, yes, but what about Spider-Man: Homecoming itself?

I liked it just fine. I joked on the Twitters that “it didn’t have Dancing Evil Dork Peter Parker” so Spider-Man 3 remained the best film, but I think this film succeeded very well in giving us a sufficiently nerdy Peter Parker that integrated quite well into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Michael Keaton was great as the Vulture, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. In fact, I’d say most of the cast here did solid jobs, and let’s hope a lot of them can stick around for a while as friends/foils for Spidey and we can stave off yet another reboot.

I have a couple of specific comments to make that could be construed as SPOILERS, so I’ll toss ’em in here between the two stills I grabbed from the trailers so you can skip over them if you need to. And by the way, holy crap does it seem like EVERY beat from the film can be found in these trailers. The trailers need spoiler warnings.

  • One of the “these guys are dorks” moments from the film is when Peter’s pal Ned excitedly tells him about the Lego Death Star set he just acquired, to the derision of a couple of girls who overhear the exchange. Peter is thrilled to hear the news, which caused someone on Twitter to remark “Peter didn’t know what an AT-AT from Empire Strikes Back was in Civil War, and now he’s excited about Death Star Legos? He’s a Fake Fan” — or words to that effect, because I’m pretty sure that’s over 140 characters.

    I think there are three clear responses to that. Either 1) Peter has since learned about Star Wars, what with getting all caught up in the excitement around Episode VII; 2) Peter is excited because his friend Ned is excited; 3) Peter just plain loves Legos, especially if he gets to work on a massive set that’s probably way out of his price range. There, problem solved…where’s my No-Prize, Marvel?

  • I talked about this somewhere before, on Twitter, on this site, on a BBS running Wildcat, I don’t remember, but I noted how…isolated Spider-Man seemed in his previous films. He was like the one guy with super-powers…well, one good guy, since he kept running into bad guys, obviously. Still, though, I couldn’t help but think how lonely it seemed, with Spider-Man separated out from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Now that he’s in the Cinematic Universe, it feels…satisfying, like a big piece that was missing is finally plugged back in there. It would be nice if someday the Fantastic Four could rejoin their four-colored friends onscreen, instead of a bunch of diminishing-returns reboots that never quite seem to, you know, get it. Oddly enough, I’m okay with not getting X-Men mixed in there, too, since, at least to me, they always seemed like they were kinda off on their own in the comics anyway. Yeah, of course there were crossovers and guest-appearances and such, but it always felt to me like “Here are the X-Men, and here is the rest of the Marvel Universe.” Not that I wouldn’t love an X-Men versus the Avengers movie.
  • I’m okay with having the Super Spidey Tech suit as a specific plot point for one film, but I’m hoping the replacement costume he gets at the end of the movie is just a cosmetic improvement without all the bells and whistles. Spider-Man as Iron Man-Lite on a regular basis wouldn’t feel like Spider-Man.
  • I know at this point in his life the movie is presenting, Peter isn’t working at the Daily Bugle yet, but man, I feel sorry for whoever they’re going to cast as J. Jonah Jameson. J.K. Simmons so nailed the part in the first trilogy, that they didn’t even bother to recast in the two-movie Andrew Garfield reboot (though you can see JJJ’s name as a sender of some emails at one point). I mean, I suppose eventually it’s going to happen, but it’s funny I can accept a new guy as Spidey, but JJJ’s recasting is going to be tough to take.
  • How great was Zendaya as “Michelle?” I want to see her “no time for your crap” attitude bump up against her inevitable discovery that Peter is Spider-Man. That’ll be a confrontation for the ages, I think.
  • There’s a mid-credits scene (that provides an answer re: the film’s plot point regarding Peter’s identity) and a post-credits scene that actually sort of depends on you performing the actual act of waiting through the credits. It’s quite clever, and a nice follow-up cameo to the character’s other cameos throughout this film.


And in conclusion, I can’t believe Spider-Man tried to get a job with the Fantastic Four at the end of the film. Who saw that coming?

I do have more to say, I think, that’ll probably wait for another day. In the meantime, it’s nice to have a new Spider-Man movie that’s actually good and doesn’t force us through the origin yet again. Even it there was no Evil Dancing.

The only thing I really wondered about is how much money Fox paid Warner Brothers to use the Superman music in that Deadpool trailer.

§ April 3rd, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews, wolverine § 9 Comments

So we finally made the time to go see Logan…for free, at the movie theater on the local Navy base, which is always the best way to see a movie in the theater because the other patrons are always so well behaved. No yapping during the film, no foolin’ around with phones, no acting up and causing disruptions…yup, I didn’t do any of those things this time.

As to the movie itself…hoo boy, I was told to expect a bit of the old ultraviolence, and that’s what I certainly got, but it’s not jut exploitative and…well, okay, maybe a little exploitative, but built on the story’s framework of aging, loss, and regret. It’s violent, but it’s serious and it’s funny and it’s sad, and it’s probably one of the more mature works in the superhero film genre. Tonally, it’s difficult to extrapolate Logan from Wolverine’s beginnings in the early X-Men films, which helped establish early on the formula for superhero films, but Logan wouldn’t work nearly as well without the character work performed by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in those movies, endearing Wolverine and Xavier to us.

But you all saw it already, so you know all that. One of the things I kept coming across online, in between the film’s opening and my seeing it this past weekend, were a handful of clickbait-y articles declaring that fans were confused by the end of the film. Now, I deliberately didn’t click on said articles, since I didn’t want the film spoiled for myself, and a cursory glimpse today in the various internet arenas where I spotted those particular headlines didn’t turn up anything. I didn’t see anything in the ending that looked like it needed any kind of explaining, so I turned my query to my Twitter pals to see what they had to say. Just what was so confusing about the ending of Logan?

(SPOILERS AHEAD, in case you hadn’t seen it yourself, yet.)

One possible point of confusion that was mentioned was the eulogy Laura recited at the graveside. The thought was that maybe, despite hearing the same speech during the bits of Shane shown earlier in the film, viewers may have forgotten that bit of foreshadowing and later wondered just what she was talking about. That’s a possibility, I guess, thought that scene where they’re watching the movie in the hotel room might as well have had the caption “WE’RE SETTING YOU UP FOR SOMETHING LATER IN THIS FILM” across the bottom of the screen.

The other bit that may have thrown people off is the nature of “Eden” or “sanctuary” that the kids are trying to reach, whether it’s real or not. There’s radio contact with an unseen someone who is trying to help the kids, and we never see the kids reaching their supposed safe haven after leaving their gathering place on this side of the border. And given that the coordinates for that gathering place were taken out of a comic book presenting the fictionalized adventures of the X-Men….well, there’s a lot to parse here, and I think this isn’t so much “confusing” as “deliberately vague.” This movie’s not about kids trying to reach safety. It’s about what Logan goes through to help these kids…any details as to what this safe haven is, and how the kids learned about it, who distributed those kinda terribly-printed X-Men movies, etc. etc., can all be explained in Logan II: Laura Strikes Back.

And the only other thing that struck me as possibly making viewers scratch their head is Laura turning the grave’s cross on its side to make an “X.” Let’s face it, that’s waaaaay subtle.

Also mentioned to me on Twitter, and everyone in my theater thought this too (I know this, thanks to the incredible telepathic powers I’ve developed after seeing every X-Men movie in the theater), was the idea that surely Wolverine’s clawed fist was going to thrust out of the grave in that very last second of the film. C’mon, you expected it too. I’m glad they didn’t, however…just letting the story end right there, as kinda depressing as it was, was the right move.

At least until Logan III: Return of the Mutant, coming Summer 2021.

At the very least, I’d like to see an animated version of House of Secrets #92.

§ February 14th, 2017 § Filed under cartoons, movie reviews, swamp thing § 5 Comments


So pretty much in every media adaptation of Swamp Thing, be it cartoon or live action TV show or two fantastic movies or video game, hearing him refer to himself out loud as “Swamp Thing” always sounds just a little goofy. Some kind of weird combination of self-importance and “…seriously, that’s the name you’re going by?” And look, I’m saying this as the guy that, some of you may know, kinda likes this Swamp Thing character. But sometimes, something that reads okay on paper just doesn’t seem to translate to actual spoken out-loud dialogue, and, well, what can you do. And maybe they hit the “I AM THE PROTECTOR OF THE GREEN” thing a little too hard. Still, though, it was nice to see an animated Swamp Thing that had purpose beyond selling toys. Would love to see a standalone Swamp Thing animated movie at some point, but it would have to probably have to shoehorn Batman or Superman into it like they do with pretty much all the direct-to-home-video DC cartoons, like they did with this one, so I’m not holding my breath.

Oh, and by the way, “this one” is Justice League Dark, as some of you probably surmised, teaming up DC’s spooky characters, like Deadman, the Demon, Zatanna, and John Constantine, mispronouncing his name as they have in, I think, every TV and movie version of him:


…but What Can You Do? Despite that particular issue only I care about, I enjoyed the film well enough. It’s still weird seeing Constantine just straight-up casting magical spells like Dr. Fate in an overcoat, which is not something you saw him really do too much in the early comics but is perhaps a bit more frequent in modern funnybooks. But beyond that, it was a good showcase for all the characters, all of whom got something to do, with a variety of action sequences and creepy locations, but that one scene with the cast being chased by a hurricane with a face felt more like something out of Scooby-Doo There was just enough left unexplained in characters’ backgrounds to maybe urge the more inquisitive viewers to Read More About It. Hopefully in the comics, that is, and not just on Wikipedia.

As mentioned above, Batman does appear in the film to help sell it to people for whom the “Justice League” in the title isn’t enough to entice them, but other JLA members appear as well. Alas, though we’ve all moved on to the “Rebirth” era in the comics, the movies are still in their “New 52” phase, so that’s the Superman we get, whose New 52 costume is somehow even worse in animation than it is on the page. Fortunately he’s not in there that much, since that costume more than anything dates the film (to, like, the early ’90s, frankly). Wonder Woman’s New 52-era costume makes an appearance, too, though that’s slightly more tolerable.

I haven’t really gone through the extra features (available on the Blu-ray version) just yet, beyond the “Story of Swamp Thing” short, in which Len Wein and Kelley Jones discuss the character’s origins and history. There are other short pieces titled “Did You Know? CONSTANTINE ORIGIN” and “Casting Deadman” and the like, plus a preview of the New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract cartoon, originally announced years ago, which is finally coming out. (Not that it was made years ago and has been sitting on a shelf, but…well, you know what I mean.) There are also the usual “From the DC Vault” cartoons, this time a couple of episodes of The Brave and the Bold featuring the Demon.

…And speaking of Deadman, Nick Turturro does the perfect voice for him. I don’t know that I ever imagined what Deadman would sound like as I was reading the comics, but now this is the voice. So great.

Overall, an enjoyable film, I thought. Not really expecting a sequel, despite the fact it would be nice to see some…resolution to the seemingly final fates for some of the characters. But, despite what I said above about the possibility, I’m still holding on to that faint hope that maybe, just maybe, now that we’ve cracked the seal, we might see some kind of solo Swamp Thing animated effort. Well, even if it does have to guest-star Batman…whatever it takes, I guess.

It’s not always good to be bad.

§ December 23rd, 2016 § Filed under movie reviews, pal plugging § 2 Comments

So I finished watching Suicide Squad the other night while I was also wrapping Christmas presents, and thus I wasn’t completely wasting my time. I posted some brief reactions to the film on Twitter, and pal Andrew said in response to my negative review:


…And that’s fair enough. I admittedly am not the most critical of film-goers (“Frank Miller’s The Spirit!” everyone shouts at me in unison), and I usually can eke out some value from nearly any movie, even if as a whole I realize it’s kinda lousy. And I realize this may be the kind of out-there crazy talk that none of you will be willing to buy, but sometimes a bad movie can be fun, and you can immerse yourself in it and sympathize with the characters and be invested in the plot even as all the while the more rational part of your brain whispers to you “this ain’t good.”

Suicide Squad ain’t that kind of movie. It’s mostly just bad, with a jumble of characters and scenes and a whole lot of shouting and running around and you don’t really care about any of it. Like Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film depends on the concept of “here are a bunch of comic book characters on the screen together” to do the heavy lifting, without realizing that what was once novelty is now old hat, and you need a little more sauce than that to keep interest up.

Among the annoyances: characters develop some form of camaraderie not really through anything you see in the movie, but mostly because at one point it’s necessary to move the action along. The animated on-screen “bios” for the Squad members is supposed to come across as irreverent and wacky, but simply feel forced and pandering. And the Joker…now, everything I’ve heard prior to seeing the movie seemed to imply that there was a lot less Joker in the film than anyone expected. Frankly, I felt like there was too much Joker in the film…a little of him went a long way, and this much of him went too long.

Not to say there weren’t bits that I could have enjoyed. I thought Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn fit the roles well, and did what they could with what they were given. Jokes fell flat, emotional development fell flat, dialogue just kinda hung out there to dry…the one bit I’ll give ’em is the idea that Deadshot’s daughter is totally aware of what her dad does for a living, and just deals with it. I also liked the creepy visuals of the Enchantress, and at first thought she’d be my favorite character in the movie until the rest of the film dissuaded me from that particular notion by turning her into another Big Glowy Bad Guy for the “heroes” to defeat.

I also liked seeing Ben Affleck’s Batman again, and I even enjoyed the 3 seconds or so of the Flash that we got.

But overall…Suicide Squad didn’t do it for me. I understand there’s an Extended Cut (the Netflix rental I saw is, I think, just the theatrical version), but I don’t know if the extra material provides some of the necessary connective material to flesh out the film, or it’s just more stuff to pile onto the mess that’s already there. There are a lot of pieces present that could be beaten into a good, or at least watchable, film…we’ll see what happens when the sequel shows up.

• • •

So my pal has undergone her name change…she’s Tegan O’Neil now, and if you need a reminder, please start with this post to understand where she’s coming from and where she’s going. She could also use a bit of assistance as she completes her transition during the new year…of course she has a Patreon to support her writing, but for a little more immediate help please consider donating to her GoFundMe account. Not that it was a piece of cake before, but this kind of life change will likely be more of a challenge in the years ahead, so if you can support her, or anyone else in your lives going through something similar, I am positive they’ll be grateful for it.

IT ME!

§ December 21st, 2016 § Filed under cartoons, movie reviews, swamp thing § 10 Comments

ITEM!

I received a certain item in the mail this week…that item being the Blu-ray disc of the Suicide Squad movie from Netflix, which I never made it out to the theater for. Not sure when I’m going to make room in the schedule for it, what with Christmas looming in the very near future and me with shopping and wrapping to do still. (I haven’t even made it out to the new Star Wars movie, which makes the Ghost of 8-Year-Old Mike loom over me and shake his head in disapproval.) Anyway, I’ve been curious about the film, even though I’ve heard only generally negative things about it from other comic folks…but then again, I’m the Guy Who Liked Batman V Superman so maybe I’ll be more favorably inclined toward it. I will say that my initial reaction to trailers and stills is that it appears all dirty and grimy and sickly and yeccchh so the movie may have a struggle overcoming my visceral negative response to its looks.

TIME!

Yes, I did watch the first episode of the new Justice League Action cartoon, and yes indeedy, it does contain the Swamp Thing/Plastic Man team-up the world has been clamoring for. Also featured: an all-ages appropriate John Constantine, who is more British than approximately 10 British men in, at least, this initial installment. There’s a story reason given for his particular style of dialogue, but I hope that’s how he’s portrayed consistently in the series because it’s hilarious…and probably can be read as a critique of how folks can kind of go overboard writing his dialogue in the comics.

Anyway, I had a hard time pulling a still of Swampy from any of the clips I saw online, so here’s a link to the trailer where the timestamp should take you directly to Swamp Thing getting clobbered by Solomon Grundy. Not his most dignified moment.

MITE!

Not to mention that naked Commissioner Gordon being tortured by circus freaks should look terrifying, not goofy.

§ August 29th, 2016 § Filed under batman, cartoons, movie reviews § 8 Comments

So it turns out I was able to pick up the Batman: The Killing Joke Blu-ray for a reasonable price (“not cheap enough!” I already hear some of you saying) so I was able to form an opinion on the thing for myself rather than depending on the internet’s wailing and gnashing of teeth that followed its unleashing upon the world.

And…well…I mean, the cover’s nice:

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…though looking at a large version of the image, I can’t precisely tell if this is a brand new image based on the cover of the original comic, just with extra details that extend beyond the borders of that comic’s cover, or if it is the original drawing, with those additional details added after the fact, or what. My vote’s for brand new drawing, since it wouldn’t surprise me if Brian Bolland exactly duplicated every strand of hair, every glare on the camera, for this new image. There are enough little differences that could be attributed to recoloring/Photoshop manipulation, I suppose, but…

“Hey, Mike, what about the actual cartoon?”

…Now, the discs inside are certainly very round, with nice labels, and…

“MIKE.”

Oh, okay, fine.

What we have here are two very different cartoons basically just glued together to make a feature with the expected run-times of DC’s usual home video product. You have the first half (more or less), which is relatively standard issue Batman/Batgirl fighting bad guys, and the second half which is the actual adaptation that you presumably bought the movie for. The big problem is an issue of tonality…the second part does not flow from the first part. You have slam-bang action with relationship melodrama, and then you swing into a story that, as originally presented in print form, has a measure of melancholy and introspection that the cartoon at least attempts to duplicate.

The elephant in this particular room is of course that Batgirl and Batman perform, to borrow a phrasing from my initial Twitter response, the horizontal Batusi in the first half of the story. Now, this seems very much to be wildly inappropriate for the characters, to say the very least, given the “mentor/student” relationship that the two have…and is in fact reinforced throughout this half of the film, despite Batgirl’s efforts to alter that status. Batman even says to her at one point “we’re not equals,” emphasizing the apparent power imbalance that makes this “hook-up” even more cringeworthy. Yes, in context, they’re both adults, but that’s not how their relationship has ever read. At any rate, I will say that to the film’s credit, their sexual encounter is presented as a Very Bad Idea, so for a one-off film, I suppose can deal with it…

…Not that there’s any real point to it, beyond (as I’ve seen some folks suppose) to give Batman even more reason to hunt down the Joker, since apparently just shooting one of his crime-fighting partners and, oh, the simple fact that he’s the Joker aren’t enough. This is part of the larger idea that the producers added this extended prologue to give context as to who Batgirl is, so that we’ll feel the loss more when Joker shoots her in the back half of the movie (oh, SPOILERS, by the way) and…I don’t know. I feel like if you had to it, an entirely separate adventure, giving us not just the classic context for Batgirl but the Batman/Joker conflict as well, would have provided sufficient contrast and not have diminished the whole by pretending to be part of “The Killing Joke.”

Now the actual adaptation itself is…serviceable, if viewed as its own thing. There are some highlights, like Mark Hamill’s voicework as the pre-Joker Joker, which was as good as I’d hoped. He sounds like a perfectly normal guy…with just the faintest hints of his eventual Joker voice at the edges. And the scene where Barbara opens the door and the Joker is waiting there with the gun pointed at her…that’s just as terrifying and horrible as it needs to be. In fact, that entire scene is probably the best paced of the film, and most closely resembles the source material. There are attempts at some of the visual transitions from the comic, too, and those aren’t too bad, I suppose.

But overall this trip didn’t feel necessary. Nothing’s really added by giving voice to the dialogue, by making the pictures move. Part of the appeal of the original Killing Joke is, like I’d said, the quiet melancholy, as in the scenes where the Joker is clearly reflecting on his past. And Batman’s opening speech to who he thinks is the Joker, about how he’s been “thinking about you, about me” — that works read on a page. It doesn’t work when read out loud. Even the joke that ends the story…the timing on its telling feels like it’s off…and we don’t get the sirens that drown out the laughter, even though Batman has explicitly said that the police will be coming. You can still interpret the ending in this way, however, which is a good thing since in my mind I do think that’s an important part of the story.

It’s like animating The Killing Joke has made it smaller, taking its sadness and its nightmarish qualities and reducing them to Just Another Cartoon, and tacking on an unnecessary prologue didn’t help.

I mean, believe it or not, I’m glad I saw it…I think it’s interesting from the perspective of what happens when direct adaptations like these are attempted (see also The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen), but maybe we’re better off when these stories are used as inspirations for new media adaptations rather than expecting accurate translations.

Here are a couple of big things I noticed in the Elvira: Mistress of the Dark movie.

§ July 18th, 2016 § Filed under movie reviews § 6 Comments

So just on a whim (mostly because I was reminded of the film the other day and that I hadn’t seen it) I rented 1988’s Elvira: Mistress of the Dark from Netflix, and…well, it was amusing enough, I suppose. Elvira’s always likeable (unless, I guess, if you’re Vampira) even when the material is a bit slight, and even though my brain is still refusing to process the ending musical/dance number, it’s overall a watchable, silly movie.

However, there are a couple of things I wanted to point out. First, in the bowling alley scene, we are introduced to the bad guy’s goons (one of whom is the late Jeff Conaway of Taxi and Babylon 5 fame). To demonstrate that at least one of said goons is a slow-witted dolt, he is of course given a comic book to read:

elviram1
And it isn’t just any ol’ comic book…it’s Amazing Spider-Man #299, also from 1988, featuring Todd McFarlane’s second art job on the title, as well as featuring Venom’s first “on-screen” appearance in a panel or two:

amazing299cvr
That’s worth a small amount of money nowadays, so as the fella in the still above was manhandling the comic something fierce, Mr. Comic Shop Owner here was cringing a bit. And then Jeff Conaway ripped the comic out of that guy’s hands and tore it in half:

elviram2
URGH.

Well, I suppose it could have been worse. If they’d filmed this scene a few weeks later, it might have been Amazing Spider-Man #300 that the prop guy bought off the rack at the local 7-11 and we could have been watching a comic that now regularly sells for two or three hundred bucks being torn in half. In a looping GIF. Forever and ever. Pinned to the top of this site.

Second thing I noticed:

elviram3
Sure were a lot of boob jokes in this film. Who would have guessed?

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