Tuesday, August 20, 2019

My Review of Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis (2015)

Written by Heath Corson
Directed by Ethan Spaulding

Orm (re Atlanna's murder): "I am your king...! I did this for YOU!"
Aquaman: "Is this the king you want, Atlanteans? A coward who lies to you? You need a light to guide you in the darkness, people of Atlantis. My people."

Following the events of Justice League: War, it was time for the Super Seven to get a name change and a new member and with this movie, both of those things happened without too much resistance. Based on the comic with the same title, this would be a rather suitable origin story for Arthur Curry (Matt Lanter).

In the present day we see Arthur get into a bar fight over a lobster while Mera (Sumalee Montano) observed from afar at the behest of Queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin) as the latter decides that her estranged son is ready to rule Atlantis over her more volatile other son, Prince Orm (Sam Witwer) who has formed an alliance with Black Manta (Harry Lennix) to declare war on the surface world.

Orm and Manta's union seems to be more on an equal footing compared to the 2018 live action Aquaman movie, at least until the final reveal that Manta was pulling the strings all along, manipulating Orm into going to war as well as putting Stephen Shin into Arthur's sight before Shin himself was killed.

Arthur's journey here isn't quite as compelling as the DCEU equivalent but it's still executed rather well as Mera introduced him to his homeworld before the League members themselves made their presence known to aid Arthur and Mera in taking out Orm and Manta, which naturally happens as Arthur then becomes King of Atlantis while Orm finds himself encountering Lex Luthor (Steven Blum) at his prison in Belle Reve, clearly setting a further movie down the line.

The Aquaman storyline is the main focus of the movie but there are still other moments for the League themselves. Shazam and Cyborg's friendship is still rather endearing to watch as well as the latter getting a love interest with STAR Labs scientist Sarah while Superman and Wonder Woman also get romantically involved, which I was a little keen on. Then there was Batman and Green Lantern who spent most of the time bickering while Flash didn't do too much but was still entertaining enough to watch.

- Nice cameo from Steel as a steel worker during the big battle sequence. Lois also managed to get in a sneaky comment about Clark and Diana's date.
- Atlanna was not a part of the comic this movie is based on but the movie also excluded several characters who were.
- There was also a brief cameo from the Scarecrow during the first scene with Batman and Green Lantern but that story was abandoned as well.
- Chronology: Not too long since the events of the last movie.

Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis is a solid opening for Aquaman and his underwater world. While some League members could've gotten some better storylines, they're all reasonably utilised and both Orm and Manta are satisfying villains in this one. Not my favourite of the animated movies but still a good one though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

My Review of Justice League: War (2014)

Written by Heath Corson
Directed by Jay Oliva

Shazam (to the US President): "That's right. You can call us the Super Seven."
Superman: "Please don't call us that."
Cyborg: "The Super Seven?"
Shazam: "What, you don't like it?"

Eh, it's not a bad title but considering that you would have more members, it might be a bit limiting though. Based on the Justice League: Origin comic, this one is a pretty simple adaptation as we see seven of our heroes take on Darkseid (Steve Blum) and do their best to stop him from taking over the planet and so on.

Things break off into some interesting rapport. First of all, there's Batman (Jason O'Mara), Green Lantern (Justin Kirk) and Superman (Alan Tudyk) who quarrel for a bit while intially fighting Parademons who are stealing people for Darkseid. One of the ongoing jokes in this movie is other heroes being surprised with Batman's existence, which I kind of found a little odd but fortunately, it's a joke that doesn't wear too thin though.

Of course while those three are getting to know each, Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan) has a meeting with the President and a group of protesters not happy with her attire to contend with as well. I'll admit that bit of the movie (along with the confession of one of the protesters being a cross dresser) did throw me off a little, but I did enjoy her brief scenes with Steve Trevor (George Newbern) and a little girl over an ice cream.

Then there was Victor Stone (Shemar Moore) and Billy Batson (Sean Astin). Their scenes were a highlight of the movie and it was nice to see a bit more of a friendly comrade as some of the other pairings were a bit too competitive at times. We got a good origin story for Victor as Cyborg along with his relationship with his father, Silas (Rocky Carroll) while Billy was more hostile with Freddy and Darla as well as being reluctant to tell the other team members that he was in fact, Shazam.

As for The Flash (Christopher Gorham), he kind of popped up towards the second half of the movie, seemed a little surprised too with Batman's existence and also clashed somewhat with Green Lantern but all seven of our heroes were instrumental in taking down Darkseid nonetheless by sending him back to Apokolips and breaking the hold he tried to have on Superman.

In terms of baddies, this was a solid use of Darkseid along with his Parademons and the sadistic, Desaad (Bruce Thomas) as all of them proved to be strong threats for the Seven before they were respectively defeated. The end scene with them all getting thanks for their heroics was a nice touch as the group reluctantly came together. They might need another name though.

- The post-credit scene showed Ocean Master with a dead King, setting up Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis.
- Really hated that loud mouthed protester calling Wonder Woman a whore.  I also noticed the Titans reference for Victor's football team.
- Thomas Morrow also briefly popped up in the movie, though his role was fairly small here.
- Chronology: Seems to be set in the present day for our main heroes.

Justice League: War isn't the strongest of the DCAU movies but it's a rather decent one nonetheless with some nice character moments and a good use of Darkseid. It does feel a little small scale, despite Darkseid being the main threat of the movie but that's not a bad thing and I did like the set up for the next movie.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, August 10, 2019

My Review of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

Written by Jim Krieg
Directed by Jay Oliva

The Flash (re Nora): "I just wanted to save her."
Professor Zoom: "Her hero; how noble. Oh, wait! You didn't stop JFK from getting assassinated or make sure Hitler stayed in art school. You saved your mommy. You missed her. And in a supreme act of selfishness shattered history like a rank amateur, turned the world into a living hell moments away from destruction and I'm the villain?"

Probably the most infamous storyline with The Flash and the one that some fans have wanted to see in the DCEU despite the franchise having yet to do even a more straightforward Flash movie while also being something that CW would attempt to cover with The Flash TV series during it's third season. Of course the animated movie universe got in there earlier and with better results.

The general gist of the story being that Barry Allen (Justin Chambers) was haunted by his mother's murder (Grey DeLisle-Griffin ) at the hands of Reverse Flash (C. Thomas Howell) and did something rather reckless that would result in the world around him being changed in the most dramatic of ways. Namely being that saving his mother from death would cause everything else to go to hell.

Barry created a world where Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) would die and his father Thomas (Kevin McKidd) would be a far more brutal version of Batman while Martha herself would become the Joker. We see very little of the latter but the former becomes a grudging ally as Barry attempts to regain his powers in order to correct his biggest mistake.

It's a world where the biggest threats outside of Thawne are also Aquaman (Cary Elwes) and Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), both of whom have become power mad dictators, killing at random anyone standing in their way and eventually going to war themselves, following Mera's decapitation after the latter had discovered the affair between the Atlantis and Themyscira rulers.

Seeing the brutal versions of Wonder Woman and Aquaman certainly made them bigger threat as we also saw the likes of Captain Atom, Steve Trevor, Lex Luthor, the Shazam family and even Lois Lane (Dana Delany) all suffer at the hands of both rulers but on the other side of the coin we also had the Flash, Batman and Cyborg (Michael B. Jordon) rescue Superman (Sam Daly) before the big confrontation between Barry and Eobard.

As for the rest of the movie, it plays out close enough to the comic with some alterations, including the method in which Eobard is slowed down but the result is the same with Barry correcting his mistake, moving past his guilt for Nora's death, talking to Iris and Batman in some rather poignant final scenes.

- Nice selection of Rogue members with Captain Cold, Heatwave, Top and Captain Boomerang all posing problems for Barry at the start of the movie.
- Harley Quinn went by Yo-Yo in this movie as well in the new world. It was also nice to somewhat see Deathstroke and Lex Luthor somewhat try to save the day, even if they failed.
- Sam Daly who voiced Superman in this movie is the son of Tim Daly who voiced the character in Superman: The Animated Series.
-We got a post credit sequence where some Parademons were coming to Earth, leading to the next film, Justice League: War, which I'll review soon.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox does a good job with taking the origin comics and unlike some other animated movies, the changes are minor and don't jar the original source material. It's definitely one of the best DC animated movies out there.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Friday, August 09, 2019

My Review of Wonder Woman (2009)

Written by Gail Simone & Michael Jelenic
Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Wonder Woman: "You should have saved the world, instead of me."
Steve Trevor: "Maybe I figured the world's not worth saving if you're not in it."

Prior to her live action debut in Batman V. Superman back in 2016, Diana Prince (Keri Russell) did of course have another movie debut, albeit in animated form back in 2009 and after watching this film, it's easy to see what her 2017 live action adventure and what it decided to ditch and the results are rather interesting.

Things open with an ancient battle with Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) and the Amazons, led by the rather fight happy Artemis (Rosario Dawson) going up against the God Ares (Alfed Molina) and his son, Thrax (Jason Miller) and it's a pretty bloody start until both Zeus (David McCallum) and Hera (Marg Helgenberger) intervene and the best punishment for Ares becomes bondage as the Amazons forge a new world on Themyscira and Hippolyta herself becomes a mother to Diana.

As the movie quickly progresses, Diana has grown up, become able to easy take on Artemis in gentle sparring but has the desire to leave the island and search the world for adventures. The opportunities arises for that when pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) arrives on the island and Ares having taken warrior Persephone (Vicki Lewis) under his influence manages to escape from his prison and seek out both mankind and the underworld in his quest for revenge.

It's here that Diana proves herself in combat, gets the signature costume and heads to New York with Steve Trevor to hunt Ares down and while Diana's fish out of water experiences aren't as endearing as the 2017 movie, there are some nice moments in seeing her teach a young girl to sword fight and take on some muggers while Ares tried to keep Diana and Steve distracted with the brief appearance of Deimos (John DiMaggio), who is a little too easily taken care of here.

Then there's the trip to the underworld where human sacrifices are made and Ares managed to get his uncle Hades (Oliver Platt) to remove his bonds so that he could unleash his own hell on Earth. The fact that Hades so brazenly brandished Thrax as a servant gave Ares some pause for concern while also hinting at the fate that Ares himself would endure upon his inevitable defeat at Diana's hands.

The final battle itself is the clear highlight of the movie with Diana, Steve and the Amazons against Ares, Persephone and the army of the undead. It's gloriously shot, especially as fallen Amazon Alexa (Tara Strong) factored into saving the day while Ares defeat really did come at a rather humiliating cost. Then there was the fact that following the mission, Diana craved to see more of the world with Hippolyta realising that the Amazons could do with an ambassador outside of Paradise Island.

As for Diana and Steve - their scenes are a lot more caustic, especially with the latter's more blokey qualities being on full display but the rapport with Russell and Fillion is decent enough and by the end of this movie, they've settled into a rather nice form of domestic bliss.

- The movie ended with a nice cameo from Cheetah. We also got a rather bitchy version of Etta Candy in this movie, though her screentime was short.
- Rosario Dawson who voiced Artemis in this one would go on to play Diana in later DCAU movies, including the upcoming Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.
- We nearly got Lynda Carter in this movie as Hippolyta but due to scheduling conflicts she declined the part.
- Chronology: Seemed to be modern day America.

Wonder Woman is a strong animated debut for the titular heroine of the piece and while I do think the live action movie of the same name that debuted eight years after this one is the better movie, there's certainly a lot to enjoy with this one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Titans - Season 2 Trailer & Release Date Confirmed

With Swamp Thing now concluded, the DC Universe have focused their attention back to their first live action show Titans as yesterday saw a release for the trailer of the upcoming second season and we've got a lot too look forward to.

The Dark Knight Appears: In the first season we got the classic "Fuck Batman" line and when I say classic, I mean it became an instant meme as well as a misplaced attempt on the show's part to be a bit too gritty for it's own good. In the first season, Batman did appear in Dick Grayson's (Brenton Thwaites) nightmare world, courtesy of Trigon (Seamus Dever) but this season former Game Of Thrones actor, Iain Glen will be playing the older Bruce Wayne and it looks like we'll see his relationship with Dick onscreen. Whether or not we'll see Glen don the cowl remains to be seen though.

The New Titans: As Jason Todd (Curran Walters) seems to be rather proudly declare on live air - "Titans are back, bitches!" and he's not wrong. Even though there's still a Trigon sized cliffhanger to resolved (and he was nowhere to be seen in the trailer), we did see Dick inform Rachel Roth/Raven (Teagan Croft) that they're a team and there's a few nice shots of our main players, including Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) and Starfire (Anna Diop) getting into some scraps this season.

The Original Team: One of the standout moments of the trailer was the costumes and unlike last season where they seem to be sparingly used, this season might be a little different on that front. We got some I assume flashbacks to the original team with Robin I (Thwaites), Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie), Aqualad (Drew Van Acker), Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove II (Minka Kelly) and with Donna, Hank and Dawn all getting bigger roles this season, it's nice that we're getting to see Garth as well, though I am hoping we'll see him in the present day as well.

Newbies Galore: The most noticeable thing about this upcoming season is how much larger the cast will be. Coming back from last season are Robin I, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy while the likes of Robin II, Hawk, Dove and Wonder Girl are getting rightly expanded upon. We can also add Joshua Orpin's clone, Conner Kent/Superboy and Krypto into the mix and even then there are still more names that can be added to the roster for this season.

Meet The Wilsons: In terms of big bads, this show still has the task of putting the Trigon plot to rest and it seems like it'll be done rather quickly as one of the greatest assassins - Slade Wilson/Deathstroke (Esai Morales) will be making his presence known, and he'll be joined by his kids - Joseph/Jericho (Chella Man) and Rose/Ravager (Chelsea Zhang) as we got to see the three of them make an impression on our main cast in the trailer. On top of that and tying in with Superboy's presence on the show, we've got Cadmus to contend with this season and on that front there's Lex Luthor's right hand woman, Mercy Graves (Natalie Gumede) to deal with along with scientist Eve Watson (Genevieve Angelson). Whether or not Lex himself will materialise later in the season remains to be seen.

For a minute long trailer, they certainly packed a lot in there, went with a thankfully less angsty tone than the first season and with the amount of characters being added into the mix, it appears that Titans means business for it's second season.

Season 2 Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qofev0x_wJo

Titans second season will premiere on DCUniverse from September 6th.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Nevers - Joss Whedon's Upcoming HBO Series Cast Revealed

I haven't really talked about this show and with it unlikely to air on HBO until 2020, the full cast for Joss Whedon's Victorian sci-fi drama, The Nevers.

Billed as an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world, former Outlander actress Laura Donnelly will take on the lead role of Amalia True, a reckless hero who would die for the cause and kill for a drink among other things. Of course and full credit to Whedon here, he's got a hell of an impressive cast for this series as yesterday unveiled the other roles on this show.

Olivia Williams (who previously appeared in Whedon's Dollhouse) will play Lavinia Bidlow while Tom Riley (DaVinci's Demons) will play her nerdish brother, Augustus who has a thing for the main heroin of the piece. Grantchester's James Norton will play pansexual character, Hugo Swan while Red Rock's Ann Skelley will play Penance Adair, a dear friend of Amalia's and an inventor in her own right too. Then there's Ben Chaplin as gruff Detective Frank Mundi while Pip Torrens will play Lord Massen, a character who may fall on either side between the Touched (the base of these gifted women) or the Empire itself.

Rounding off the cast for this series include Zackary Momoh as Dr Horatio Cousens, Amy Manson (Being Human) as Maladie, a woman committed to an asylum by her husband as she comes to grips with her abilities, Nick Frost as the Begger King, Rochelle Neil as Annie Carbey aka Bonfire, Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark) as Mary Brighton, a woman dealing with career and romantic disappointments as she discovers her newfound abilities while American Horror Story's Denis O'Hare will play Dr. Edmund Hague - a brutal American surgeon.

I got to admit that this sounds a little similar-ish to Dollhouse and thematically, this feels a little too typical of Whedon but with an impressive cast, the prestige of HBO, it could end up being a pleasant surprise. Whedon will also be bringing in former Buffy The Vampire Slayer writers/producers such as Jane Espenson and Douglas Petrie as part of the staff for the series.

Character Details: https://www.spoilertv.com/2019/07/the-nevers-olivia-williams-james-norton.html

The Nevers is currently filming and will air on HBO and SkyAtlantic in early 2020.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

My Review of Batman: Hush (2019)

Written by Ernie Altbacker
Directed by Justin Copeland

Catwoman: "You're absolutely insane. He killed your friend. Tried to kill Nightwing. Hell, he almost killed me and you're sorry he's dead?"
Batman: "I had to try. If someone can be saved, I have to try."
Catwoman: "You do, don't you? It's a compulsion. You and your goddamn code. And you'll die because of it, you know this, right? Will that make it all better?"
Batman: "Without a code, I'm no better than them."

If you could compile a list of maybe ten Batman comics that are of significant importance, there's a good chance that Jeph Loeb's 2002 entry, Hush would make that list (as would another one he wrote a few years prior to it), and once again, the DCAU are in adaptation mode with this take on the classic comic getting it's debut last weekend during the events of SDCC. I got to admit the results are definitely a mixed bag here.

Being done as one movie instead of being split into two like The Dark Knight Returns was a few years ago, Batman: Hush is not a completely faithfully adaptation of the source material and there some creative changes that ultimately do not work. I'm going to go into the biggest problem first, because later on, I'll point out stuff I actually did like with this one.

The biggest issue with this movie is of course it's title character, Hush. In the comics, he's an old friend of Bruce Wayne - a surgeon named, Thomas Elliot (Maury Sterling) who also secretly resents and orchestrates a series of events that test Batman (Jason O'Mara) general resolve before the big reveal on a rainy night at the bridge. Dramatically, it's a great moment in the comic. Unfortunately what we're given instead is the result of a twist for the sake of one that doesn't pay off.

Instead of being a criminal mastermind, Thomas Elliot is literally just Bruce's old friend who gets shot by Hush and is actually dead. The very antagonist of this movie is actually replaced by the Riddler (Geoffrey Arend) - a character who had an interesting secondary antagonist role in the comic itself but doesn't work at actually being Hush here.

I have no idea what possessed writer Ernie Altbacker to take away the biggest selling point of Thomas Elliot and while I'm usually for subverting some source material, this is by far one of the most idiotic decisions made for these animated movie. Actually if you're a big Riddler fan, you're going to end up leaving this movie feeling rather pissed off at the character's overall treatment. What a truly terrible way of twisting the actual comic book for a twist that doesn't work at all on any level.

The rest of the comic also does a bit of replacing as well as we lose Huntress in favour of Batgirl (Peyton R. List), who adds nothing to proceedings along with an annoyingly dumbed down/drugged out Bane (Adam Gifford) in lieu of Killer Croc while a brief cameo of Damien Wayne (Stuart Allan) reinforced why I'm particularly not keen to see that character get any more other media outings if I'm being candid.

There are some bright spots - in particular Nightwing (Sean Maher). He doesn't have a huge amount to do but every scene he appears in is rather delightful as he encourages Batman's relationship with Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison) and there's a good team up with Nightwing and Catwoman during a graveyard scene where they take on the Scarecrow but again, there are certain moments from the comic that don't make the cut of this movie.

As for Batman and Catwoman - their dynamic, including the harsh break up is still the strongest component and the most successful thing translated in the movie as they have their battles with the likes of Bane, Poison Ivy (Peyton List), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walsh), Joker (Jason Spisak) and even Superman (Jerry O'Connell) as the latter was under Ivy's influence for a bit but at least saving Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn) somewhat snapped him out of it.

Of course it would be their different outcomes in dealing with the Riddler/Hush that caused them to split but at least the movie made the most of their relationship and I'll admit that Morrison was great as Catwoman. I'm still not really too keen on O'Mara's Batman but he did okay enough, working well enough with Morrison.

- We got some cameos from Lady Shiva, Lex Luthor, Mr Freeze, Penguin and Two Face. Even that brilliant plot with Harvey Dent didn't make it on here.
- DC are slowly embracing Poison Ivy's bisexuality it seems as we got that brief kiss between her and Catwoman.
- Harley got three hyenas, Catwoman's cat was called Eartha (loved that) and we got to see Titus as well.
- Chronology: Somewhat set after the events of Reign Of The Supermen. 

Batman: Hush should've been amazing given the source material and while I can understand cutting certain characters and subplots to keep things a bit shorter, I really hated what they actually did with the title character. One of the most moronic decisions the DCAU made here but for Bat/Cat fans, at least this didn't disappoint on that front (and with Nightwing). Saying that though, I really hope they don't botch up The Long Halloween, which is also being rumoured to be getting the DCAU treatment.

Rating: 6 out of 10