nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “DC Comics

Gripes, Likes & Theories: Batman v Superman

Now that the film is in wide release, I can ignore the advance-screening plea from Zack Snyder not to spoil anything. So be warned, SPOILERS FOLLOW.

As I mentioned before, I went into BvS with super low expectations and liked it pretty well. For me it boiled down to something like Thor: Dark World or Avengers: AoU—not bad to watch once or twice but generally lackluster and forgettable. I also didn’t find it as grim and gritty as everyone is complaining. I mean, yeah, it’s dark but no more than roughly half of everything else that’s come out in cinema over the last decade, including the Nolan trilogy that everyone seems to love (I don’t find it holds up as much more than “meh”).

Biggest misses for me:
1) Batman just gave up his fight because Superman’s mom happened to have the same name?! For the love of Martha, that was some seriously weak writing.
2) Superman’s death lacked ‘gravity’—I don’t think anyone in our screening believed for one minute that he would stay dead. Moreover, I don’t think anyone would have bought into it even had we not all experienced the media hoopla that surrounded the event when it happened in the comics back in the early ’90s. It felt so very emotionally empty and not the least bit cliffhanger-y, which I found incredibly disappointing.
2b) Speaking of media hoopla…SO. MANY. CAMEOS. (I know I already mentioned this before, but it really bothered me.)
3) Lex creating Doomsday inside the Kryptonian ship. I thought it was clever that he cut off Zod’s fingerprints to gain access but otherwise hated the entire scene.
3b) Doomsday was like a bad mashup of Hulk, every Spider-Man movie villain and Hunger Games mutts.
4) Teasers for Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg lacked excitement and depth.
5) Amy Adams. Always Amy Adams.
6) Underutilized Wonder Woman.

I’ll reiterate that I’m genuinely excited for the standalone WW movie now. I wish she hadn’t looked so much like part of the Kardashian klan but Gadot played the fight scenes like she could be a legitimately strong warrior. Expectations shattered.

Still, my favorite part of the movie was spotting TK-421 on Lex Luthor’s prison uniform.

ALSO, I have a BvS/Walking Dead fan theory!
Maggie is Bruce Wayne’s mom, which means that TWD clearly happened in the past…and Maggie either cheated on Glenn or lost that baby and had another later with Mr. Wayne. The “metahumans” are clearly an evolutionary result of surviving the zombie apocalypse. Tell me your mind isn’t blown right now.

 

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She Lives! (aka Batman v Superman Happened so I’m Blogging)

I’m still here, believe it or not! Since last post, I’ve made a geeky pilgrimage to San Francisco (pics and details coming soon, I promise), seen TFA a few more times—totaled 8 at the theater—and worked like a fool. The working part is more exhausting than awesome but it helps pay for toys, and we all know you can never have too many toys.

After posting some pics of myself as a little Superman-loving lass, I won tickets to last night’s advance screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Side note: If I’m ever tasked with writing something that requires a certain character count, I will be sure to make this film the topic because writing the title alone should satisfy most requirements.

“So how was it?” you ask. Weeeeeelllll…
As someone who loved Man of Steel, I liked it fairly well. There are a couple of really good moments that are balanced by some really cringe-worthy ones, which are all outnumbered by a lot of “just a’ight.”

I’m not in the business of spoilers, and not just because there was a Zack Snyder video plea before the movie started, so I won’t give away any secrets. Except that Batman’s parents die. Oops, surprise!

Okay, one teeny-tiny, not-really spoiler: there’s a fun Star Wars Easter egg. I spotted it straight away and leaned over in the middle of the movie to quote a relevant line. I suspect a lot of fans will pick up on it; comment below if you want a hint.

I digress.

People who have already decided to hate Affleck as Batman won’t be swayed, though I thought he was a suitable host for a character who wasn’t supposed to be altogether likable in this story. His acting wasn’t especially nuanced, though I’m not sure whether that was due to him or the writing. He’s easily as good as, if not better than, either Kilmer or Clooney.

Wonder Woman was not on the list of things I excitedly anticipated for this film, particularly after I learned of Gal Gadot’s casting. I was, to that end, pleasantly surprised! The characterization is far more interesting—and less exploitative—than I expected. I might actually kinda sorta be looking forward to her standalone film now <gasp!>.

Surprisingly, the most eye-rolls of the night came not with Jesse Eisenberg but Amy Adams. Sure, Eisenberg was the same smarmy guy he is in every role (and maybe in real life?), but you saw that one coming from a mile away.
I am decidedly not a fan of Adams’ interpretation of Lois Lane, as you might remember from my reviews of Man of Steel. While she and Henry Cavill demonstrated a bit better chemistry this time around, particularly at the beginning of the film, I can’t help but see her as an annoying hindrance. Maybe that, too, is a consequence of the character more than the actor…it’s not like Margot Kidder wasn’t tiresome…or maybe it would be less frustrating with someone else filling the role. It seems we’ll never know.

To be fair, Adams is unseated by Doomsday as my least favorite character in this movie. That’s not saying much, is it?!

If you loathed the Sears and iHop tie-ins from Man of Steel, be prepared for media personality overload on this one. I understand that Snyder et al. are trying to make us believe that Superman’s universe is one in the same with ours. For me, showing endless cameos of recognizable pundits had the opposite effect, ripping me out of my suspension of disbelief.

Stylistically, this is a pretty slick movie. The fight scenes, in particular, have a more comic-book feel than did Man of Steel; I actually felt like it veered into Amazing Spider-Man territory at times. That’s not a complaint, somehow. There are, however, a lot of flashbacks and dream sequences that tend to feel disjointed. The one thing that tied everything together was Hans Zimmer’s brilliant score with themes from Man of Steel beautifully woven throughout. I’ve grown to appreciate the former as one of the better contemporary theatrical scores and this built on it in intriguing ways. Along with the hopeful and heart-wrenching strains, there was an inescapable undercurrent of tension and conflict. Magnifique!

Overall, this girl feels that Batman v Superman lands squarely in the middle of the pack for modern superhero flicks. It’s generally enjoyable if forgettable, but worth seeing on the big screen if you’re at all inclined to see it.

 

 

 


Gotham

If you missed the premiere of FOX’s Gotham, they’re airing an encore tonight (Friday). Or you could just read what I think of it and save yourself the hassle.

Love and Hate are not opposites. Love and Indifference are.
Love and Hate, by their very nature, both exist on and elicit some degree of passion. Indifference is merely a shrug and a “meh.”

I’m just north of indifference after Gotham’s first outing, though there are a few things keeping me tethered to the idea of testing the waters again next week.

The first of which is not morbid curiosity—though there’s a healthy enough dose of that—but rather an inexplicable attachment to a couple of characters. The kid who plays Bruce Wayne displays a compelling range of emotion, and I rather enjoyed the little glimpses of his life at Wayne Manor after his parents’ death. The OC guy, now pre-Commissioner Gordon, manages to be quite likable without much evident charisma. In less than a hour, though, we see him adapting to his situation, going from a straight-laced noob to a calculating, latent dissenter. Gordon doesn’t grab your attention by having a big, boisterous personality or even by being the relatable ‘every man’ in a world of crazies; instead, his likability is almost completely fueled by his actions, which subtly demonstrate that we’re watching a multidimensional character who could have a legitimately interesting arc ahead.

As for the villains…I really like the casting for Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin). He’s sniveling and skeevy and kinda perfect, but his presence felt ham-handed. To that point, I found just one placement particularly intriguing: Edward Nygma (who we know will eventually be the Riddler) as a forensic specialist for the Gotham City Police Department. His position and delivery felt like that of a playful yet socially awkward intellectual and less like fan-service.

My biggest complaint* about Gotham thus far is that the creators obviously wanted to get the most bang for their buck with the first episode. Consequently, they made their universe far too small far too quickly with far too much explication. With so many current and future villains shoehorned into 40-some minutes, it all felt overly contrived. Every bad guy doesn’t need to be in every episode. Every bad guy doesn’t need to be in cahoots with all of the other bad guys. And most importantly, we the audience do not need to be told so explicitly who everyone is. Let the casual fans create theories about interconnectness while the die-hards discover how established storylines are modified and portrayed. A gradual, captivating narrative with a satisfying reveal can work for both avid and uninformed Batfans.

It’s not without promise; in fact, it’s possible that Gotham could hit its stride and ultimately be fantastic. Unfortunately, there’s an awful lot of “meh” to muddle through so soon out of the gate.

tweet*Other complaints…
• Jada Pinkett Smith. Seriously, her character is just awful.
• Uncomfortable camera angles that get up in people’s faces as they’re running. Not flattering.
• Is Catwoman supposed to be a teenager? She’s got one of those faces that kind of looks young but kind of looks like she could be in her 40s. It’s unsettling.
• Can we cut the camp just a little bit?! While I appreciate that it’s got enough levity to keep it out of the Nolan-verse, I fear that its zany tendencies could push it into the realm of the ’90s films.

 


Ask Amethystos

I’m a little brainsquashed, having trouble finishing some drafts. Instead of continuing to mull over them, I thought I’d take a prompt from the fabulous evelynfilmfan (visit her blog—good reads!).
Now it’s time for a little Q&A…

  • Which film do you think is the best book adaptation?
    Very few projects measure up to their namesake books, to the surprise of no one. Three, however, stand out to me (though one isn’t technically a film): Catching Fire, Game of Thrones & Breaking Dawn, Part 2. Your eyes don’t deceive you, I really did just include a Twilight film in a ‘best’ category. Since it’s the most controversial, I’ll touch on it first.
    • BD 2 fixes everything a lot of what’s wrong with the book; maybe that’s simply because there’s sooooo much disappointment with the book. There’s still the weird Jacob/Renesmee love but we see flash-forwards of Renesmee as a teen/young adult, which takes away much of the skeeve factor. And the battle sequence is impossibly better than the text, even if it is only a hypothetical Alice vision. The anti-climax of the novel left me feeling cheated after having invested so much time and anticipation; film version more than made up for it.
    • You already know I’m a big fan of the Hunger Games trilogy. What you may not know is that Catching Fire was easily my favorite book. Given that, I had prepared myself for at least a little bit of a letdown with the film—said letdown never came. Casting is spot-on, pacing is considerably improved from the source material and the shift to an omniscient point-of-view makes this adaptation dang near perfect.
    • And Game of Thrones. Oh, Game of Thrones, you make me so happy with your general adhesion to Martin’s books. I’ve read through book 3 now and only rarely do the departures disappoint in the slightest; more often than not, the alterations do a great favor to pacing. The benefit of this series, of course, is its episodic nature which lends itself to really bringing the pages to life. I prefer the book’s relative lack of R-rated elements (call me a prude if you like) but the storytelling definitely earns a place in my top 3 adaptations.
  • Who is your favorite superhero? And which superhero powers would you like to have?
    pass—the answer to this will be its own post one of these days
  • Disney or Pixar?
    Disney. Pixar has its share of stirring tales and breathtaking animation to be sure, but my favor falls to Disney. From classics to contemporary films, animated or live-action, I’m astounded that one company can play such a role in lives young and old. Vivid imagery, riveting narrative, well-rounded humor and heartwarming heroism are benchmarks for Disney. Oh, and there’s that little bit about Disney owning Marvel and Star Wars now…I’m definitely team Disney.
  • Marvel or DC Comics?
    Historically, DC…I have always loved Superman, and I always will. But my loyalties are largely shifting to Marvel now if I’m being really honest with myself. Like the rest of the world, Marvel movies make me really happy. Though some of the characters can be a little bland at times (I’m looking at you, Hawkeye), they do a ridiculously good job of casting. Everybody is just so gosh darn lovable! Okay, except for Spider-Man; don’t like his character or the comics or the cartoons or the movies.
  • For which tv show/series do you really have to stay home? And what makes this tv show/series so special?
    The Walking Dead, hands down. Catching new episodes is literally an event for me; I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I have a number of fellow fans at work who are always ready to discuss on Mondays. I’m loving how the main characters have evolved over the last season or so, the growth is (in my opinion) exceptionally compelling. There are no other current programs that I will try to schedule around.

That’s all for this edition of Ask Amethystos. Tune in next time, when I’ll answer more questions and dodge others. Comment below if there’s something you’d like to ask; I’ll endeavor to satisfy your query.


Man of Steel—Revisited

After a second screening for Man of Steel last night, I wanted to supplement my original review.

This time around, I got to see the film in 3D. While there aren’t any eye-popping effects (it was post-converted, not filmed in 3D), the overall quality did seem significantly better. I’m not sure if I should attribute this more to the format or the venue, as our second viewing was at Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City. In spite of the dine-in theater distractions, Alamo provided a much more immersive experience than AMC’s 2D presentation. If you value a movie with booming sound that is effective rather than just loud—and you’re near one of the few locations—I highly suggest you make Alamo Drafthouse Cinema your theater of choice. Bonus: the modified 3D format also alleviated much of the dreaded lens flare.

The combined presentation and my somewhat dulled expectations made the second viewing an absolute joy!
I stand by my original criticisms but feel this flick deserves a more positive spin than what I offered. It leaves a better aftertaste than the bitterness that I first implied.

I remain disappointed by the opening Krypton scenes, though I wasn’t nearly as perturbed this time around. My biggest complaint is that it just reminds me too much of a Star Wars prequel. And I’m a Star Wars girl, so you’d think that would be a good thing but it really isn’t so much.

I also maintain that the flashbacks are somewhat disjointed, though they aren’t terribly detrimental to the overall pace or storyline. This is due in large part to the strong performances by Costner, Lane and Cavill (and the brilliant young actors who represented his early years). For a film about a man who can fly, this is solidly grounded with a big, big heart. And again, our midwest audience was giddy over the Royals and KU references—that in itself is pretty darn cool and worth the price of admission in these parts. And in case I didn’t mention it before, Henry Cavill is absolutely 100% without-a-doubt perfectly cast.

A second chance for Amy Adams yields no more likability than my first impression, though I found Michael Shannon’s General Zod and Russell Crowe’s Jor-El more compelling. I can also report that after a few days mulling over the Zimmer score, I don’t hate it. Still feels an awful lot like that of Inception, and I would have loved even the slightest nod to the original theme, but it grows on you.

I may have been too quick to pit Man of Steel against the cinema-giants of Marvel. They’re very different animals, really. Though DC and Warner Brothers lost ground over the last twenty or so years with their failed recasting and attempted reboots of both Superman and Batman franchises (and we won’t even discuss Catwoman), they’re fighting their way back into the game. These are particularly timeless characters that need the right stories and the right actors—in many respects, Man of Steel answers the call almost as well as did the Dark Knight saga. Almost.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy the film, but I certainly did. Even more so the second time around, in fact, so I’m already planning to see it at least once more!