Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Batwoman Pilot Episode - Plot Recap and Review

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If Superman's cousin can have her own TV show, how can Batman's not?

So we have Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) donning the cape and cowl. The episode starts off with a voice over by Kate. She is handcuffed and has to make her escape from being drowned in icy waters. This reminded me of Bruce Wayne's training scene with Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) in Batman Begins.

Back in Gotham, Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) runs Crow Security and has taken the role of protecting Gotham. Where is Batman? - you might ask: As per the writers, Batman has been missing in action for about three years. Of course, no one observes that Bruce Wayne is gone too. But, I digress..

Jacob is in charge of a public ceremony, being presided over by the Mayor Akins (Chris Shields). He wants to shut down the Bat signal. But disaster strikes and Crow's Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy) is abducted. Sophie also happens to be Kate's former lover.

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Kate's step-sister Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang) informs her about the situation. Using her deductive skills and the footage from Bruce Wayne's security, Kate deduces that the gang has taken Sophie to the Burnside Orphanage.

We run into Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), the son of Lucius Fox. And just like his dad, he becomes the Q to our soon-to-be self-anointed superheroine.

The movie charts the steady descent of Arthur into madness and perhaps unsurprisingly, we get to see Joaquin Phoenix in literally each frame. 

Kate rushes head first to rescue instead of listening to her father. After a showdown with the gang members, Kate is overpowered and taken to their leader, Alice (Rachel Skarsten). 

Alice knows much more about Kate and her family than a stranger would. It is also revealed that her primary target is not Gotham or Crow Security, but Kate's dad himself. But instead of killing Kate, Alice has her deposited somewhere else..

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Kate decides to take things into her own hand and re-visits Wayne Manor. This time, she hits the jackpot and discovers the Batcave. She also learns that Bruce Wayne/Batman has spent years trying to figure out why he could not save her sister and mother from the fatal car crash which was supposed to have killed them.

Kate has Luke re-design the Bat costume to fit her. Donning the new suit, Kate aka Batwoman takes on Alice and her gang and rescues Sophie.

Despite her successful debut, Kate is still disturbed with the fact that Batman could not help save Beth, her sister. Finally, it dawns on her that Beth is still alive and is in fact Alice.

The episode also sets up another plot line - Sophie is now married to Tyler (Greyston Holt). But clearly, she is still deeply in love with Kate.

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This was an ok pilot episode. The acting was passable from every one except the lead actress. Ruby Rose seems to be overacting. She is not alone though. Rachel Skarsten as Alice/Beth also chews the scenery as an over-the-top villain.

Dougray Scott and Camrus Johnson do their best with their roles of caring father and the nervous geek respectively. So does Nicole Kang and Elizabeth Anweis in their roles as the naive daughter and status conscious wife.

The only actor to make an impression is Meagan Tandy as Sophie Moore. She manages to convey the intimate connection that her character shares with Kate.

The series is heavily influenced by the Chris Nolan movies. As I mentioned before, the training montage was similar to the one in Batman Begins. The Wayne Tower itself too has been lifted from the same movie. Plus, the night time shots of Gotham also reminded me of those from The Dark Knight.

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On the other hand, the only scene featuring Batman looked to be shot on a shoestring budget. Granted this was the pilot episode.. still that scene could have been shot better.

Recommended watch to fans of DC Comics.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television

Monday, October 7, 2019

Joker (2019) Movie - Plot and Review

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This post contains spoilers and readers are recommended to watch the movie before proceeding further.

The (purportedly) standalone origin story stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime. Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover trilogy, Due Date) has directed the picture.

Check out the trailer:

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a clown for hire and an aspiring stand-up comedian. Arthur has some psychological issues and is on medicines. He laughs out uncontrollably when under stress and carries a placard asking onlookers to ignore his outbursts. Arthur also has a gaunt physique to match his fragile mindset.

The movie charts the steady descent of Arthur into madness and perhaps unsurprisingly, we get to see Joaquin Phoenix in literally each frame. 

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Torn between his career ambitions and personal duty to take care of his ailing mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy), Arthur looks up to Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) as his mentor/role model. Arthur also has a crush on his neighbor/single mother, Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz).

Arthur is regularly picked on by bullies and street punks day in and day out. Randall (Glenn Fleshler), one of Arthur's colleagues, provides him a gun for self-defense. It does not help that Murray himself makes fun of Arthur.

As the final nail in the coffin, his state sponsored therapist informs him that their sessions will be over soon, due to lack of public funds.

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All this inner rage and frustration boils over, when Arthur is bullied by three Wall Street types. Using the aforementioned gun, Arthur turns the tables on his tormentors and becomes the poster child for the oppressed/downtrodden sections of Gotham.

From then on, it all goes downhill as Arthur discovers the truth about his troubled childhood. He then goes to murder his mother, his colleague and finally Murray himself.

This was one of the darkest cinematic experiences I have had so far. At a time, when mass shootings are happening in a disturbingly regular basis, making and releasing this movie seems to be a very poor choice in judgment by the director and the studio.

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Acting wise, Joaquin as expected gives his all and has delivered an absorbing performance. De Niro looks to be miscast as a popular host. Speaking of the female leads, both Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy have limited scope to perform and are pretty much one dimensional characters.

The movie excels in the technical aspects. The production design by Mark Friedberg and cinematography by Lawrence Sher are top notch.

While the lead actor might win acting awards and the movie will make lot of money for the studio, thus taking forward the director's career much ahead, there is also the matter of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The movie has been well made and scores on both acting and technical fronts. But does the DC supervillain really need an origin story, that humanizes him and in a way justifies his crimes?

That is the moot question.

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Looks like Todd Phillips wanted to make a Martin Scorsese type NYC based gritty movie set in the 1980s and since Warner Bros is always looking to make money using the DC Comics based characters, an unholy alliance was made. A truly disturbing decision was made to turn Travis Bickle/Rupert Pupkin into the Joker.

We DC Fans deserve better. 

Despite being a lifelong fan of DC Comics, I cannot recommend this movie. For great Joker performances, I would suggest the readers to check out either The Dark Knight or Batman (1989) or  Batman: Under the Hood or Batman: The Animated Series. I would take any one of these far superior ones over this version.

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Image Sources: BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Joint Effort, Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Joker (2019) Teaser Trailer - Review

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For a long time, there has been a lot of online chatter about the different Jokers in the DC comics based movie universe (DC Films or DC Extended Movie Universe as it is referred to). We have seen Jared Leto's interpretation of the Prince Clown of Crime. Now we have our first look at Joaquin Phoenix's take on the super-villain.

In addition to Joaquin, the movie also features Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Brett Cullen and Frances Conroy. Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy, Old School) directs the origin movie for inarguably one of the most famous baddies to have inhabited a comic book.

Check out the trailer:

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a struggling comedian. Like Travis Bickle, he is at odds with the world and is being slowly driven to losing his sanity. Joaquin's Arthur is also seen flexing his  lean and mean physique. If that reminds you a bit of Scorsese's Travis Bickle, you are right on the money.

Martin Scorsese was once attached as a producer and there were rumors that one of his frequent collaborators (Leo DiCaprio) would don the grease paint. But as a small consolation, we have his other favorite collaborator, Robert De Niro (the Taxi Driver himself) starring in the movie.

Joaquin Phoenix seems to have delivered a knockout performance as the titular character. While it is too early to judge, based on a 2.5 minute teaser trailer, that smirk in the closing scene is quite telling.

Set to the song Smile” by Charlie Chaplin, the trailer sells itself as an urban crime drama with the lead character who is out of control and spiraling into the abyss of insanity.

In addition to Martin Scorsese's movies, the movie is also inspired by Batman: The Killing Joke, the graphical novel by Alan Moore. 

This trailer has raised my expectations and hopes for the movie and Joaquin's performance. Fingers crossed, that the final product will live up to the hype.

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Image Sources: BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Joint Effort, Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Justice League Comic Con Trailer - Review/Reaction

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Warner Bros. has released a sneak peek of the upcoming movie that unites the DC Comics superheroes.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Man of SteelBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the movie stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as  Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg.

Newcomers include Amber Heard as Mera, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Kiersey Clemons as Iris West.

Check out the trailer below:

This trailer is not much of an improvement over the previous trailer that debuted a few months ago. Since then, we have had rumors about Ben Affleck wanting to leave the franchise completely. He has officially stepped down as the director and Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) has taken over the duties. Zack Snyder lost his daughter and has moved away from the production.

Joss Whedon (Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Avengers) is currently overseeing the post production work and has also reportedly done extensive reshoots. Joss was originally hired by the studio to write, direct and produce Batgirl.

Snyder had already completed shooting by the time Whedon took over. We all know Snyder's capacity to deliver a good superhero movie based on his previous two attempts. Snyder's movies boast of great visuals (specifically 300) but severely lack good character development, plot and dialogues. This movie also looks to suffer from the same drawbacks.

The actors strike all types of action figure poses and give reaction shots. The comedy looks forced, which is a surprise given Whedon's natural talent for writing witty dialogues/quips in his movies especially The Avengers. But Even Whedon can only do so much with this sub-standard material that has been forced on him. 

The special effects in this trailer look better than what we saw in the earlier one. Still some do look like taken straight out of a video game. No wonder the movie characters are also two dimensional.

Perhaps, the future of DC Films lies in female superhero led movies. Wonder Woman has been a hit both critically and commercially. Provided the studio does not interfere too much, Whedon will knock it out of the park with Batgirl.

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Image Sources: DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment (as RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC), Lensbern Productions, Warner Bros.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Justice League (2017) Trailer - Review/Reaction

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The first trailer for the long awaited movie has finally been released.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Man of SteelBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the movie stars Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as  Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/ The Flash and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg.

Newcomers include Amber Heard as Mera, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Kiersey Clemons as Iris West.

Check out the trailer below:

From what I have seen in the trailer, I am guessing that this movie is based on story Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. That story features an invasion of earth by Darkseid and the heroes forming a team to stop him.

The DC animated movie Justice League: War is itself an adaptation the same story. I am quite sure that this live action movie will not measure up to the animated version.

The trailer is not as exciting as the trailer for BvS: Dawn of Justice was. Considering the quality of BvS, this does not bode well for the movie. The movie seems to suffer from the same shortcomings as the previous two Snyder movies: weak character development, weak dialogues and the most damning of all - special effects that are not worthy for a video game.

Even video games have better detailed locations than this movie does. Like BvS, this one too has been shot extensively in the studio against green screens. Instead of filling the background with details, the lazy director and his crew have just opted for darkened visuals to hide the fact that they have zero imagination.

Considering that this is a superhero movie, at least the special effects must be good if not excellent.

Even the great J K Simmons looks bored. He was on fire as J Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi Spiderman movies. Here he just looks lost. I think this has to do with the general lack of vision and direction about the DC Films at Warner Bros. The standalone Flash movie lost not one but two directors and is now headed for a complete script rewrite.

The Batman standalone movie is in a slightly better situation: after Ben Affleck quit as director, the studio managed to hire Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). The movie is also undergoing a complete script rewrite after the previous script credited to Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns was discarded.

If the rumors are to be believed, Affleck completely wants out of the role. It is understandable that his retirement from the role will be officially announced after this Justice League movie will be released. Given this state of affairs, it is obvious as to why he too looks bored in the trailer.

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The rest of the cast do their best with the weak lines. But none of the so-called humor works. The actors just strike action figure poses and have minimal dialogues. Further it does not help that some of the footage are reused from the character spots the studio has been releasing for the past couple of days. I think the best shots in the movie are in this trailer.

But not all hope is lost for DC Films. In addition to hiring Matt Reeves, the studio is reportedly in talks with Mathew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) to direct the sequel to Man of Steel. That does raise my hopes. Point of interest - Vaughn's Kick-Ass had a Batman knockoff character in the form of Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage in one of his better performances in the recent past).

Clearly, Warner Bros have acknowledged the negative feedback about Snyder's “vision”. If only they had not hired him in the first place....

Coming back to this movie, I am predicting that it will earn around the same amount of money as BvS: Dawn of Justice did. Just as that movie had the novelty factor of the two heroes appearing first time onscreen, this one too has the famed DC team coming to life. Once the opening weekend is over and the hardcore fans are done with the movie, the movie should drop like a rock. Yes, pretty much the same trajectory as what BvS took before falling well short of the coveted 1 Billion USD benchmark.

The critics will no doubt be tough on the movie and I expect the Rotten tomatoes rating to fall below 30%. The hardcore DC fans will take up arms and demand the site to be closed. They will be interested to know that Warner Bros. owns the Rotten Tomatoes site.

Ben Affleck's Batman says at one point in the trailer: “My turn. To see the same line delivered by an actor invested in his character, check out this scene from V for Vendetta:

Unless Zack Snyder has improved his sensibilities and directorial skills dramatically, I would expect this movie to be another missed opportunity.

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Image Sources: DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment (as RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC), Lensbern Productions, Warner Bros.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) - Review/Reaction

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The long awaited movie has finally been released. There will be spoilers throughout and the readers who are yet to watch the episode are recommended to skip this post.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Man of SteelWatchmen), the movie stars Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman.

Supporting cast includes Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, Diane Lane as Martha Kent and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White.

The movie starts off with a funeral procession of Thomas Wayne (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Martha Wayne (Lauren Cohan). A traumatized Bruce Wayne (Brandon Spink) is seen running wildly and falls into a cave full of .... bats (what else can one expect?).

Flash forward to the climactic battle of Man of Steel. Bruce is rushing through the Metropolis streets to save his employees/friends working in the Wayne building. He manages to save an injured employee, Wallace Keefe (Scoot McNairy) and an unnamed girl from the rubble.

But instead of spending a few minutes with Bruce, we again jump to an underwater excavation under progress in the Indian Ocean. The object being retrieved is a considerable chunk of Kryptonite.

Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) wants Superman to be held accountable for his actions. She is being cleverly manipulated by Lex Luthor, who wants to get his hands on all things Kyrptonian, including the corpse of Zod (Michael Shannon).

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But Finch is the not the only one, Lex is toying with. He is also setting up both the Man of Steel and Batman to a no-holds barred brawl.

In the midst of all these developments, Diana Prince is hanging around the same social gatherings as Clark Kent and specifically Bruce Wayne do. Bruce can sense that she is up to something.

The movie meanders around till it gets to the much-hyped battle of the superheroes. Like The Dark Knight Returns, the graphic novel on which the movie is partially based on, Batman ends up defeating Superman with the help of Kryptonite.

He is about to kill the Man of Steel, when Clark mentions a name: Martha. This triggers an emotional trip down the memory lane for Bruce. Lois stops by and informs Batman that Martha is the first name of Superman's mother.

Yes, that is how stupid Ben Affleck's Batman is. He does not even bother to check out these details of his enemy before he goes to fight him. For a character supposed to be the “World's Greatest Detective, he is mindbogglingly dumb. That is probably good, as only Sherlock Holmes can rightfully claim that title.

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The movie finally comes to a conclusion with the DC's Trinity facing off against Doomsday, the monster created by Lex from Zod's corpse. This confrontation is pure CGI and is boring as hell. Except for Wonder Woman, neither of the other three combatants make no impression.

Superman and Doomday kill each other, again echoing the story-line of the 1992 series: The Death of Superman. The movie ends with yet another funeral scene, this time for Clark/Superman. In the comic book universe, no one stays dead for long and neither will Superman.

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This was a major disappointment. The movie fails on almost all possible levels: acting, action, direction, music.... The saving grace is Gal Gadot's performance as Wonder Woman and her theme music. In the final fight, she is the only one who actually fights back against the villain. Batman is busy jumping around desperately trying to save himself. Superman gets pummeled around like a toy.

The only other enjoyable scene in the movie is at Luthor's party, which also features her. Diana and Bruce eye each other warily as they attempt to steal Lex's secrets.

This is a movie that is not about the DC Universe and characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. This is a movie about Warner Bros. and how the studio is desperate to create an inter-connected universe to rival the massively successful one owned by Walt Disney/Marvel Studios.

Superman is as bland as he was in Man of Steel. In this movie, he saves Lois Lane more than any other human being. It is as if he was sent from Krypton only to the guardian angel for Lois and not humanity itself.

As emotionless as Cavill is throughout the movie, the standout is his reaction after the explosion during the hearing that leaves everyone around him dead. Cavill just looks around as if nothing happened. At least that is the impression that I got from his acting. In the history of worst casting decisions in superhero movies, this has got to be near the top of the heap.

Ben Affleck is either angry or snobbish. Batman's action scenes are heavily inspired by The Arkham series of Batman games and it shows. The actions look quite cartoonish both in their content and the way they are executed. Both Kevin Tsujihara (current CEO of Warner Bros.) and Zack Snyder have a strong background in video games and this works against the movie's best interests.

Except for the Batman vs gang of thugs fight sequence, both the Batman v Superman and the climactic sequence are as generic as possible. There is no element of fun behind the way these scenes have been designed. A fight scene showcasing each character's unique skills/fighting styles would have been so much fun. But this is a studio mandated product that has no time for imagination or fun.

Hopefully Suicide Squad will be much more fun than this self-serious piece of nonsense that pretends to about some of the world's most iconic superheroes.

This movie solely exists for the reason of setting up the DC Extended Universe. The best proof of this would be the cameos for The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. These have to be the most shoehorned in scenes in the history of Hollywood or any other cinema for that fact.

I had hoped that at least with the critical drubbing this movie has received would make Warner Bros. reconsider their decision to retain Zack Snyder's directorial talents (?) for Justice League Part One and Two due in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Now that the movie has grossed 424 million USD worldwide, it looks increasingly possible that Snyder would continue to taint the DC Universe with his vision.

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Image Sources: DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Syncopy, Warner Bros.