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Justice League Could Be The DCEU’s Total Package

Justice League is shaping up to be among the most anticipated movies of 2017. After the mixed reactions towards the other three films of the DC extended universe, it has a large mountain to climb in order to win over the hearts of the public and put the DCEU back into the good graces of comic movie fans.

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Photo: Warner Bros.

A huge concern is obviously that there has already been a major team up in film. Marvel’s Avengers has established itself in the film community and unfortunately, Justice League has to follow in its footsteps. With the previous films in the DCEU not being as critically received in the industry, it would seem that Justice League is already starting from behind, but it certainly is not, IF DC’s Wonder Woman is well-developed and can perform at a level that shows fans great promise of what’s to come in their universe.

Justice League does not necessarily have to be a cult classic. It just has to be a good, well-thought out movie and it can learn from the films that came before it and build a solid foundation and present the world with something that leaves fans not just satisfied, but positive about the direction the relatively young DCEU is going.

Man of Steel

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Photo: Warner Bros.

Mixed reactions or not, Man of Steel attempted to tell a different story of the most popular superhero of all time. The silver screen has been littered with stories focusing on the more campy side of Superman. Almost all of them, if not ALL of them, did their best to paint Kal-El as the hero everyone loved and accepted and the ultimate hero that the villains just could not tolerate. Man of Steel did the opposite. Zack Snyder, the director, pushed to tell the story of the man before the story of the savior. Regardless, it focused on storytelling and whether or not it was accepted or effective, it was powerful statement that there is more to Superman than carrying planes and leaping buildings. Justice League has an opportunity to do the same and drive home a story that goes beyond their personas as heroes, but their lives outside of them and how they factor into their motivations to save the world, not as solo acts, but as a unit.

Batman V. Superman

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Photo: DC Comics

This writer was not a big fan of this film, but that still does not take away from the good things and strengths that came from this movie. A dysfunctional film gave fans beautiful cinematography,settings, and the score was absolutely stunning. Though the material did not always match their quality, they were something that were definite positives for the film. These are all three things that Justice League needs to be on track for a well-received movie. Cinematography, settings, and score can legitimately make or break a movie and it would not to do justice to the League (pun possibly intended) to overlook these elements as major keys to make this film successful.

Suicide Squad

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Photo: Warner Bros. 

This film stood out as the most fun of the three. It was displayed as an adventure and played off the weakness of the team (their lack of coherent motivations, personalities, and depth of evil) and made it the film’s greatest strength. This third installment in the DCEU had reactions split in the middle the same as its predecessors, but it was the truest sign of potential that this universe has shown since its conception. Messy at times and lacking good layering for the villains, Suicide Squad focused on giving the fans something that they would enjoy and pushed the chemistry of the characters as a focal point. With the Justice League being a film that features a lot of characters, showcasing the chemistry, or lack thereof, amongst them can become an intriguing side story that adds to them having to come together and save their world. Not only that, but with so many characters, Justice League can really ramp up the fun factor and deliver a film, that is well-rounded in all aspects and not just one or a few.

More than anything, the fans just want a movie from DC that they feel lived up to their expectations. They want a movie that makes them excited about what is happening and what is to come, keeps them invested emotionally, tells a great story, and positively plays to their senses. Each of the movies that came before Justice League had tastes of these elements, but this film has the potential to be the culmination of all them. Justice League does not come out until 2017, but in the meantime, if the DCEU can learn from itself, there is a lot to look forward to as far as Justice League is concerned.

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Suicide Squad: The Good And The Ugly Review

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Suicide Squad built up plenty of steam as the August 5th release date finally arrived. We sat in the theaters wanting a good film to be presented to us, nervous that what we witnessed would sour us with another average movie with way too much hype and not enough meat on its bones. As the mid-credits scene ended and we filed out of the theater, the air very much felt sucked out of the room, but this time, not with anger and disappointment, but surprise. Why? Because Suicide Squad was actually good.

Now do not misquote me. Good does not mean elite, as Suicide Squad had some key flaws keeping it from that echelon, but in spite of those flaws, we were given a fun ride and a little bit of the spunk that we have been wanting in our DC movies for some time now. The fun, among other things, gave us something to look forward to in the DC Extended Universe especially with powerhouses like Wonder Woman and the Justice League coming next year. On the flip side, where Suicide Squad gave the fans promise, it also shot itself in the foot in ways that could not be overlooked. Here is where we review the good and the ugly (spoilers)…

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Good: Character Chemistry – It is absolutely undeniable that one of the most compelling aspects of this film is the character chemistry that projected from the screen. For the story that they were trying to develop and the way the characters were used in the film, it drove the movie entirely. If it was not for notable dynamics such as Harley Quinn/Deadshot, the movie probably would not have had as much to stand on, let alone have been as fun as it was. The film was able to take characters that many are not even familiar with and create a sense of family that gave us a reason to care. That is important for any film because the number one goal is not to just have good characters, but for us to be invested in them and their roles with each other. Suicide Squad, for the most part, successfully capitalized on that and it helped elevate this movie significantly.

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Ugly: Poor Character Development – Despite good chemistry, there was a noticeable lack of development for some characters in this movie. One of the most glaring issues that this film presents is the inconsistency that followed at least half of the supporting characters. Their roles are necessary, but their material either made them boring, awkward, or under-utilized. This does not mean that poor character development hurt Suicide Squad entirely, but a touch up on these characters would have been a welcomed addition to the movie. This also does not mean that any of them needed the same amount of time that Harley, Deadshot, and El Diablo were given, but more reasoning for things such as Captain Boomerang’s eccentricity, or Katana’s soul-keeping sword, Killer Croc’s story in general, and a less two-bit feel from Enchantress could have helped, not to mention Rick Flag could have used a more noble overhaul. He felt way more shady than he probably should have. He was okay. That is it. Just okay. A reason to feel for these characters and not just see them could have amplified what we were given drastically.

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Good: Majors in the Minors Suicide Squad did one thing absolutely perfect. They turned our beloved Batman and Joker into side pieces essentially, giving Harley and others their times to shine. There was not enough Joker to say that he overshadowed Harley. As a matter of fact, he did not play the role that many of us believed he would and the lack of his presence, but the outstanding performance of Jared Leto left us wanting more. The execution of the Joker is superb. Batman has a similar role. We get a chance to see Batman, not in his cave, not in his head, not in any point of view for himself, but from the perspective of the villains/anti-heroes. He came across as legitimately intimidating as well as more matured in his crime-fighting stance than the one that was seen in Batman vs. Superman. That is a solid change and both things are something we haven’t really seen before minus a few hit and miss comics/cartoons over the years.

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Ugly: Paper Thin Plot – The plot we were given in Suicide Squad was more thin than a wet piece of two-ply toilet paper. To say the very least, it was disappointing. There were some motivations that just did not make sense. Deadshot’s desire to kill Batman was not convincing. To assume it was so that he could kill people and make money for his daughter is an assumption and not something that was actually shown in the movie. Enchantress and her motivation in general was a let down. She had no depth, her brother had no depth, and her purpose behind destroying humanity seemed forced. It was something that we have seen before in other superhero films, where the villain is completely one-dimensional, but this might have been one of the worst. Amanda Waller just wanting a metahuman army was cliché. Rick Flag being in love with June was typical. DO NOT GET ME WRONG, I am not bypassing what they did right because in some instances the plot was exactly what it should have been, but the simplicity of this plot was not helping it stake its claim. It was the Suicide Squad itself and their relationships, personal and corporate, that pushed the movie…more than its own plot which is a paradox in its own right.

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Bonus Goods:

  • Jay Hernandez/El Diablo – Whether it was his acting or his story arc, he stole the film and I only have one word to describe it and I am going to spell it out for you: N-A-I-L-E-D! NAILED!
  • Margot Robbie came in the clutch and gave the perfect Harley Quinn performance. Totally believable and maybe in the top 5 of best iterations of a character from comics.
  • Will Smith as Deadshot was a reminder that he is elite. Despite his film choices that he has made in these past couple of years, he redeemed himself with this performance that should give all of his fans a resurgence of hope for the rest of his career.
  • Viola Davis/Amanda Waller – She was despicable…exactly how she should have been. More of a bad guy with sometimes good intentions than a good guy with sometimes bad intentions. This portrayal of Waller was what it needed to be. Ruthless, selfish, and completely lady boss-like.
  • Joker emanated charisma and the relationship with Harley that we were shown only magnified one of the most best, live-action adaptions of the Joker that we have ever seen. Jared Leto’s version of the Joker was a unique mix of a dangerous and insane that looked like a lovable threat in this universe to come.
  • El Diablo’s redemption story/arc. I said it twice because it was just that good.
  • Joker’s laughs.
  • Fun – This film was fun and had a lot of funny moments which made it good by default. Even with the flaws, they are mostly overshadowed by the good. Still there, but you care less because you enjoyed yourself. This was a good sign of promise to come for DC films considering very little of this film could get Geoff Johns’ touch.

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Bonus Uglies: 

  • Captain Boomerang barely even threw a boomerang. He felt more like a comic relief character and it feels like they went the wrong direction with his role.
  • Killer Croc – Underused and slightly awkward. His line about BET was misplaced and for him to be such an awesome character, it never really felt like it. His voice and his lines were not the best. Many people loved him. I was not one.
  • Rick Flag – Not sure what went wrong here, but the guy typing this was not convinced. Not even a little.
  • The magic aspect was messy. Do not go with magic unless it is going to be properly established. Otherwise it just makes a mess.
  • Not enough friggin’ Katana.
  • Enchantress. Just Enchantress. Yeah.
  • Editing got in the way of this movie. It was kind of noticeable and it was something that hurt the film a little bit. Some scenes felt like they were missing something that would help the scene make more sense. Of course we will not know until the movie is release for digital download and dvd and we are given the deleted scenes.

Overall, Suicide Squad was a decent movie. It will not stand up with the great superhero movies that we have today, but it is a positive and promising step in the right direction for DC films. Rome was not built in a day. Neither was Marvel or better yet, any great thing that we have. Give DC time and maybe we will remember this movie as the infant child to something great.

And be sure to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn!

Batman: The Killing Joke – The Good and the Ugly Review.

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For years, people have been clamoring for Alan Moore’s (writer) and Brian Bolland’s (artist) classic story The Killing Joke to come to life on film. This iconic and classic tale solidifies what many believe is the first definitive origin story for Batman’s arch nemesis the Joker. DC pulled out all the stops as they casted Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to reprise their former roles as Batman and the Joker, the two characters they made famous in what is known as one of the best animated adaptions of Batman to exist, Batman: The Animated Series. Tara Strong and Ray Wise pull up the rear as they voice the daughter-father tandem of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and Commissioner Gordon.

This film has received nothing short of mixed reactions, but the fact remains, it has earned the indecisiveness of its viewers as they were met with interesting creative choices that literally split this film in half. Here is where we review the good and the ugly:

Good: Voice Talent

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It is absolutely undeniable that the vocal acting was the real star of this film. Regardless of the feelings that accompanied certain areas of this movie, most scenes were driven by strong actors. Mark Hamill is the real MVP of The Killing Joke. He, like we expected, took control of every scene he was in and made the most of it despite how short his time in the film seemed to be. For those of us who have read the graphic novel, it was incredible to witness Mark Hamill’s dialogue lift every monologue off of the screen and into a place where the viewer could feel his emotion, all of it, whether it was in his origin story or his last moments of the film. He once again showed why he is legendary. Ray Wise, who played Commissioner Gordon, also kept up with bigger names as he had a large part to play sharing space with the likes of Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong. Kevin Conroy seemed a bit sleepy at times, but overall, the vocal talent was a shining plus.

Ugly: The Prologue

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At this point, it is cliché to even mention the prologue as a downside to this movie,  but it has to be discussed. The prologue was a creative choice that did not quite work out, for several reasons. Tara Strong did the best she could with her material, but it was not her performance that caused this to backfire. In a way, Batgirl seemed incompetent. She was poised against a two-bit, one-dimensional villain with a ridiculous name, one she could barely handle, which ultimately made her look absolutely average. It played up to the “woman need big man” caveman-esque philosophy that really hurt the depth of this character, no matter how complicated she was portrayed to be. With the understanding that Batgirl needed to be given some source material in order to not seem like a standard plot device, they ended up making her seem rather childish, needy, and weak especially when looking at the man that she shared an onscreen relationship with. It set a relatively stereotypical image that many heroic women characters have been able to stray away from as of late.

Good: The Last Half of the Movie

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Near the middle of the movie, The Killing Joke really begins as the film people were raving to see finally arrives. This movie stops feeling like Batgirl: The Killing Joke, and gets a full head of steam. The Joker makes his way into the movie and the energy instantly shifts. The graphic novel takes shape in cinema form thus becoming a word-for-word adaption until the very end. After having to wait far too long, the extra exposition is over and fans can begin hearing the voices behind what they could only imagine for years. The Killing Joke attacks this story hard and with passion, regaining its identity once again as the cult-classic many comic fans have known it to be. Not much really has to be said as the last half of this movie stand on its own two feet and with authority. This half of the movie separates itself from first half making one consider the idea that it would have been better off by itself.

Ugly: The R-Rating

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In order to spare the general public of a full-blown rant, I will just say this. The buzz surrounding the r-rating was costly and for lack of a better term, pointless. It soured people on what they actually got in the movie which was not THAT much, honestly, not compared to what an r-rating actually means for something expected to be graphic. There was that red stuff, a few cuss words, sexual innuendos, a little skin, and slight hinting of a sexual encounter. On paper, that really does seem like a lot, but visually, it was not. The movie would have been far better off with a lesser tv rating instead of the r-rating that began to seem more like a marketing campaign rather than a reality. The Killing Joke was not as brutal or as graphic as it was portrayed or marketed to be, enforcing why it was met with such mixed reactions and criticism in that regard.

Bonus Ugly: Batman/Batgirl Relationship

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Fifteen minutes into the film and the relationship between Bruce and Barbara is already weird. ALREADY. WEIRD. FIFTEEN MINUTES. Among the noticeable things that just felt wrong was the age gap. Love can be found in spite of age, but the combination of teacher/student and man/girl (not woman, but girl, for a reason) felt off. Them being from two different worlds did not help. It felt forced and pushed together just to make their relationship more complicated than it really had to be. And with Barbara being portrayed in way that made her feel very close to college, if not IN college and Bruce being portrayed in way that made him feel like he has been around well before her time, not to mention being good friends with her dad, their entire physical relationship was an awkward direction for them to go. (I know there is comic precedent for this, but this story is a stand-alone and does not make it less weird). It did have a deeper purpose which did help push the original story a little bit more which leads us to…

Bonus Good: Batman/Batgirl Relationship – The reason that this is included in the good section is because though this was a strange, this relationship made Batman’s connection to Joker that much stronger. His hunt for the Joker became much stronger because of how he felt toward Barbara (which was completely unaddressed, just implied). It adds another layer to the original story which makes Barbara’s injury more personal, and as stated before, not a plot device. It forced Batman’s fight to extend beyond people and the dangers of the Joker and made it for a person. An emotional quest that Batman rarely entertains and consistently separates himself from. It gave more substance to Batman’s quest and gave the viewer more reason to latch on to the climax of the story.

Super Ultra Bonus Ugly – Paris Franz though? I  mean did they even try?

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I do not know if I would advise paying hard-earned money to go see this…sorry DC, but if you want to see the classic graphic novel come to life, take the leap! Who knows, you may find it worth it!

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