Sunday, May 24, 2015

Justice League: War DC Universe Animated Movie - Review

Batman Superman Wonder Woman Justice League Team Movie War DC Universe Animated Original Movie 2014

Justice League: War (JL: War) is based on the graphic novel “Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. JL: War features the The New 52 a.k.a. the rebooted DC Universe.

One of the most prominent visible changes is the new look Superman who has a significantly better fashion sense than the previous one...

The movie's plot focuses on an invasion by Darkseid on planet Earth. Our heroes team together to stop the takeover attempt.

Jay Oliva directed the movie that stars the voice talents of Alan Tudyk as Superman, Jason O'Mara as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman, Justin Kirk as Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, Shemar Moore as Cyborg/Victor Stone, Christopher Gorham as The Flash/Barry Allen, Sean Astin as Shazam, George Newbern as  Steve Trevor and Steve Blum as Darkseid.

Wonder Woman vs Darkseid Justice League War DC Universe Animated Original Movie 2014

The movie has some of the best action sequences that I have seen in an animated movie in a long time. In fact, the movie has almost non-stop action right from the start and never lets up. It only gets better... The climactic showdown between Darkseid and the Justice League lasts for nearly 30 minutes and features some intense and breathtaking choreography.

The movie also boasts of some excellent humor, mostly thanks to the Green Lantern. I also liked the  Super Friends” reference.

There are some subtle nods to other DC Universe properties, including the 1978 Superman movie, The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel.

The voice work is superb. As good as the entire cast is, Jason O'Mara, Shemar Moore and Steve Blum leave a strong impression.

Black Superhero Cyborg Victor Stone Justice League War DC Universe Animated Original Movie 2014

Among the characters, Cyborg/Victor Stone has the most compelling character arc. Cyborg is a fascinating character and presents a lot of potential for fun due to the unique nature of his superpowers.

As much as I like Bats and Supes, Cyborg represents a new breed of DC superheroes that combine the imagination of man with the power of machines. I am interested to see how Ray Fisher brings Cyborg to life in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Another character with similar powers is the Blue Beetle, whom I discovered in Batman: The Brave and the Bold and the Young Justice series. His powers are derived from Scarab, an advanced alien technology.

Speaking of Supes and Bats, they are in fine form too. Especially, Supes who not only looks better in his new costume, but has some real attitude as well.

Batman v Superman Justice League War DC Universe Animated Original Movie 2014

The Kryptonian has near physical invulnerability on our planet and his mental outlook reflects that. He is not the self-effacing individual as played by the late Christopher Reeve.

This Man of Steel is quite a showboat and loves to get into scrapes. Personally, I prefer this version to the bland real life version portrayed by Henry Cavill.

The clash between Superman and Batman/Green Lantern is one of the best action set pieces in this movie. The action choreography, background score, voicework and the animation all come together flawlessly to present a very fun and memorable scene.

Click on the link below to buy both the graphic novel and the movie combo pack:

I like Batman for his flaws and relatability. But Supes is just way too powerful even for Batman to face off.  And JL:War even has Batman and Green Lantern teaming up to stop Kal-El and still they come up short. Which is exactly how it should be...

I hope that the encounter between Ben Affleck's Batman and Henry Cavill's Superman will be even better than the animated version seen here.

Shazam Wonder Woman Green Lantern Cyborg in Justice League War DC Universe Animated Original Movie 2014

Bats, as usual, gets a lot of screen time and Jason O'Mara does a fine job of voicing the Dark Knight. There are some really gorgeous shots of Batman and Bat fans will enjoy them immensely.

Batman has a lot of scenes with Green Lantern and their conversations are funny and lively.

Other superheroes are paired up too. Shazam and Cyborg and more importantly, Supes and Wonder Woman. It is only natural that such super-powered individuals of opposite sex would be attracted to each other.

This is the second movie directed by Jay Oliva that I have had a blast with. His Batman: Assault on Arkham also had equally great sense of humor and fantastic action sequences. That movie had a more mature tone as well.

Check out the trailer below:

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) Suicide Squad movie - Review

Harley Quinn Deadshot Suicide Squad movie poster wallpaper image screensaver picture

With more and more details being revealed about the upcoming DC Comics superhero picture Suicide Squad, I thought this will be a good time to review the DC Universe Animated Original Movie - Batman: Assault on Arkham.

Directed by Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding, the movie features the voices of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Troy Baker as The Joker, Hynden Walch as Harley Quinn/Harleen Quinzel, Neal McDonough as Deadshot/Floyd Lawton, Jennifer Hale as Killer Frost, Greg Ellis as Captain Boomerang, Giancarlo Esposito as  Black Spider and John DiMaggio as King Shark.

The plot goes like this: Suicide Squad is a group of killers/mercenaries who are (forcefully) recruited by Amanda Waller (C.C.H. Pounder) to complete covert missions. In this movie, Waller wants the Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler) killed due to some information he holds about the squad members.

Batman saves his life from one of Waller's attempts and has him sent to Arkham Aslyum. Hence, the need to assemble the Suicide Squad and have them assassinate Riddler.

The Joker Suicide Squad movie Batman Assault on Arkham DC Universe Animated Original Movie

Complicating things is the fact that The Joker (currently in Arkham Asylum) has a ticking time bomb hidden somewhere that will bring destruction to Gotham city.

Batman's efforts to locate and defuse the bomb brings him into conflict with the Suicide Squad.

Without revealing any further information, I will direct the readers to check out this movie.

Before watching the movie, all I knew about it was that it focused on a team of assassins who also happened to be Batman villains. That this was a movie based on The Dark Knight, but with limited screen-time for Batman himself. I was a bit skeptical if the movie would be any good...

Kevin Conroy Batman Assault on Arkham Suicide Squad movie DC Animated Original DCAU Movie

Yes, I was in for a big surprise. This is hands downs one of the best DC Animated Original (DCAU) Movies in a long time.

While the concept of a movie that focuses too much of relatively lesser known characters (and villains to boot) in the DC Universe might sound foolhardy, Batman: Assault on Arkham comes out firing on all cylinders.

It has all the trademarks of a well-done DC Animated movie - great voice-work, amazing action sequences and superb animation. The plot has enough twists and turns to further add value to the movie watching experience.

The movie has a more mature tone and content. I love the way DCAU has differentiated itself from the more kid-friendly fare regularly dished out by Marvel Studios.

There are a number of other DC characters who make cameo appearances, but I will leave it unspoiled for the readers to experience it first hand.

Click on the link below to buy your copy of the movie:

Check out the trailer below:

If the upcoming live action movie Suicide Squad can capture even half of the fun quotient of this animated movie, we are in for a real treat.

Superman: The Movie (1978) launched the Superhero movie genre in Hollywood and Tim Burton's Batman (1989) continued to wow audiences all over the world.

Though Joel Schumacher almost killed off the Batman movie franchise in 1997, Chris Nolan brought back fun to the DC Movies with Batman Begins (2005). Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, is widely considered to be one of the best Superhero movie series ever put on screen.

Warner Bros./DC Comics hit a rough patch with the disappointing Man of Steel

The recently released teaser trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice looks promising so far with Ben Affleck's bulked up Batman alone being worth a look in the theatres. In addition, we have Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Ray Fisher's Cyborg.

We then saw the image of Jared Leto as The Joker and a couple of days back David Ayer provided us our first look at the entire squad.

Suicide Squad 2016 live action team group photo comparison animated movie Batman Assault on Arkham 2014

Click here to read my thoughts on the recently released Comic Con Trailer for the movie.

The standout is obviously Margot Robbit as Harley Quinn. She seems to be very much in character. Will Smith looks sad as Deadshot. Perhaps, he will be the most humane character of the group with a heavy emphasis on his background and his daughter (who is seen in this movie too).

In addition, Ben Affleck and Jared Leto will be appearing as Bruce Wayne/Batman and The Joker respectively.

DC Comics has been enjoying enormous success on the Television with The Flash, Gotham and Arrow. Hopefully they will retain their successful streak on the big screen as well, with these upcoming movies.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - Review

Avengers Age of Ultron movie review recap poster image wallpaper picture robert downey jr marvel cinematic universe

This post contains spoilers. Readers who wish to avoid plot points/details are recommended to skip the review.

Joss Whedon is back to direct this sequel to the global blockbuster The Avengers (2012).

The movie opens with our team of heroes taking down a Hydra stronghold somewhere in Europe. We meet two new super-powered individuals, the twins: Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

Scarlet Witch can play tricks with people's minds and Quicksilver can run really fast. They seem to have been granted their powers through experimentation by Hydra agents led by Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann).

The siblings have a grudge against Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Wanda puts a spell on Tony who gets to work right away and with the help of fellow scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), creates Ultron (voiced by James Spader).

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Tony intends Ultron to be the saviour of Earth. Ultron has plans of his own and overcomes Jarvis (Paul Bettany) and takes the physical form of a muscular robot. With the help of the Maximoff twins, Ultron unleashes havoc on the Avengers.

Fights ensue, alliances are forged and the Avengers save the day.

The most noticeable aspect of the movie is the sheer number of characters present it features. In addition to the titular heroes and the twins, we have a new android The Vision (again played by Paul Bettany). Then there are the supporting players: Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), James Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Sam Wilson / The Falcon (Anthony Mackie)

To top it off, we have cameos by Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Erik Selvig (Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd) and of course Stan Lee.

On the side of the bad guys, in addition to the main baddie Ultron, we have Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). Granted that Ulysses is on-screen for a few minutes and will probably be seen again in the upcoming Black Panther movie. Which brings us to the next point....

Ulysses Klaw Klaue Andy Serkis Avengers Age of Ultron

This movie serves the same purposes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as Iron Man 2 - as a setup for the next slate of movies. And it suffers from the same drawbacks as the second Iron Man movie did. The plot takes a backseat to a number of characters and events that do not add any value to this movie, but will make sense in Phase 3 of MCU movies.

A good example being Andy Serkis' character, Ulysses Klaw (pronounced Ulysses Klaue in the movie). As comic book fans know, Klaw is an antagonist of Black Panther, the superhero who is debuting in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and also has a solo movie due in 2018. Similar to the comics, Klaue loses his hand but due to the yet-to-debut Black Panther, but at the hands of Ultron.

On the acting front, Chris Hemsworth has a lot of fun as Thor. He gets to add some humor to the proceedings. The sequence involving his hallucinations however leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps, the director's cut will have the necessary scenes for it to make sense.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla) continues to turn in yet another bland performance. His Quicksilver is nowhere as charismatic as the one superbly portrayed by Evan Peters in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. can play these roles in their sleep and they fit the parts as expected.

The Vision Avengers Age of Ultron Paul Bettany JARVIS

After voicing Tony Stark's AI J.A.R.V.I.S. for the past several years, Paul Bettany finally gets some screentime as the android, Vision. His physical appearance though looks quite absurd with the yellow cape. I can understand the underlying intention to stay true to the comics, but a little bit of rework would have done wonders.

The interesting character developments are reserved for Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and  Bruce Banner/The Hulk. The budding romance between Black Widow and The Hulk looks forced and ends as abruptly as it begins. Hawkeye gets a family, but these scenes come off as corny.

Joss Whedon repeats many of the plot elements from the first movie:
1. McGuffin – Tesseract and now Loki’s scepter
2. Mind control - Loki and now Scarlet Witch
3. Resulting infighting among team members - Last time, it was Iron Man vs Thor. This time, Iron Man faces off against The Hulk
4. Enemy of alien nature – Loki and Chitauri army then; Ultron and his army of robots now
5. Similar climax - Avengers fighting a vast army of faceless enemies in a city environment.
6. Mid-credits scene - Like the first movie, this time too Thanos appears and reminds us that he is the main villain in the MCU.

I guess Marvel's motto is: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

This is Whedon's swan song in the MCU. The Russo brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) will be directing the next Captain America movie and the two Avengers sequels (Avengers: Infinity War - Part I, Avengers: Infinity War - Part II).

Iron Man Hulkbuster armor Hulk fight in Avengers Age of Ultron

Joss scores points for the Iron Man-Hulk face off. Personally speaking, this is undoubtedly the highlight of the movie. This is an instant classic and will be remembered for quite some time.

If only he had put more efforts into the plot. But then, the Disney-Marvel movie factory probably proved too much even for a director of the caliber of Joss Whedon.

Marvel/Avengers fans will lap this one up. Casual movie goers will probably enjoy this as well, depending on their ability to leave their brains at the door.

Ultron Scarlet Witch Quicksilver Avengers Age of Ultron

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