Batman v Superman Heralds The New Superhero Movie War

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After waiting impatiently for many years, DC Comics fans at last get their own version of a superhero cinematic universe with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) actually began with 2013’s Man of Steel, which focused on DC’s first superhero Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), but it featured Easter eggs that referenced a larger DC universe. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the first real DCEU film that explores this cinematic universe. And director Zack Snyder picked a huge event for this DCEU film: the first meeting between DC’s titans Superman and Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). But the big question is–is it good? After all, there had been much anticipation about the film for over a year, but then rumors started surfacing last month that Warner Bros. was supposedly nervous about the film based on reactions from early screenings.

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The reaction from critics has been harsh and further added to the worries that the film would kill off the DCEU before it could take off. Well, in my opinion these early reviews do the film something of an injustice (no pun intended). Batman v Superman is a good precursor to the much anticipated Justice League and does have excellent fight scenes between the two heroes. The buildup to the battle is effective in showing the lives of both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Wayne is an older, bitter crime fighter who has seen his share of death and destruction, especially in the excellent prologue scene where he witnesses Superman’s fight with General Zod (Michael Shannon) from the earlier Man of Steel movie.  The experience of seeing so many of his employees dying in the chaos cements his suspicion and fear of Superman as a menace to the whole world.

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Clark Kent for his part is seen as struggling with the concept of being a god to many people and a devil to others, including the scheming Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who manipulates both Batman and Superman into a deadly battle for his own twisted sense of order. This whole concept of gods and monsters and our reaction to them is a key element of the film and is what drives our main characters. Scenes with Clark having heart to heart conversations with both Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and his mother Martha Kent (Diane Lane) about who he is are shown in contrast to Bruce Wayne’s attempts to come to terms with his life as a crime fighter and feeling of not having accomplished much in his life.

In regards to laying the ground work for future films, we see Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) who is a mysterious presence for much of the film until her big appearance near the final battle with DC super villain Doomsday. Her appearance in an old photo from World War I obviously sets up her forthcoming film and she does well playing the Amazonian warrior. We also see intriguing cameos of Justice League members Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller). All of which should increase the anticipation of the actual DC equivalent to Marvel’s The Avengers.

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The issue I have with the film is that all of this exposition and world building do take a while to get through and it does take time to finally get to the long awaited fight between Superman and Batman. As for the fight itself, it is well choreographed and brutal, but it is short and is not really the climax of the movie. I think maybe this is a problem of the marketing and title of the film. Dawn of Justice is a good description, but calling it Batman v Superman and having trailers show almost nothing but fight scenes can give someone the wrong impression of what the film is. It is not wall to wall action with Batman and Superman beating each other senseless. It is instead a continuation of the universe established in Man Of Steel and an exploration of what would happen if these otherworldly beings suddenly showed up on our world. Some reviews will state that this is all a bore, but I found a lot of these ideas interesting. However, the pacing of the film does suffer a bit when the second hour sets in and you want Batman and Superman to finally confront each other.

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In terms of the cast,  Ben Affleck is effective at showing a world-weary Bruce Wayne who is still traumatized by his parents death and also a brutal and aggressive Batman. His attempts to acquire kryptonite and later rescue of Martha Kent show a visceral fighting technique and willingness to go far to achieve his goals. Although, his depiction of apparently killing some enemies is not really consistent with the character and will be controversial. Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is very good as his faithful but skeptical servant Alfred. Henry Cavill does a fine job showing his conflict with trying to be a good reporter and find out who Batman is, while at the same time being the world’s saviour and dealing with everyone’s increasing suspicions of him. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is a mixed bag. He does well showing Luthor’s obsession with Superman and desire to destroy him. But his manic way of behaving is at odds with the character’s earlier interpretations of being calm, cool and in control of everything. Gal Gadot does much with her limited screen time as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and is already an audience favorite.

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Overall, I do like this film and am looking forward to more DCEU films like Suicide Squad and Justice League. Some of the criticisms it has gotten are valid but this is in no way a bad movie like some critics are saying. I just think it was not marketed properly and does take too much time to get to the advertised fight. However, seeing the DC trinity in action was a thrill and I hope to see more standalone films for these three characters to further explore their interesting backgrounds. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice does the job of introducing all of the DC universe’s main characters and should satisfy fans who have waited a long time to see them come alive on the big screen.

 C.S. Link

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Daredevil Stays Ahead Of The Curve With Its Sophomore Season

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The Netflix/Marvel Studios streaming TV show Daredevil blew away critics and fans alike last year when it premiered. Bolstered by a sensitive yet sturdy performance by Charlie Cox as blind New York lawyer Matt Murdock, who is the vigilante Daredevil, the series was unparalleled. Daredevil rose above its comic book roots and became one of the, if not the, best superhero TV shows ever made.

daredevil at churchNow Daredevil returns for a second season that just became available for streaming and it deftly avoids the sophomore curse. Matt Murdock is still moonlighting as the superhero Daredevil, who uses his enhanced senses (except sight) to fight crime, and dealing with the damning responsibility to fight for justice. Except now, new headaches have entered his locale of Hell’s Kitchen in the forms of the deadly vigilante Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) and Matt’s former-lover-turned-assassin Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung).

Both antagonists come in the wake of the void left behind when the crime lord, Wilson Fisk, was defeated by Daredevil last season. Many criminal elements are trying to fill that void but a deadly one-man army is taking them out. As these stories go, this man, Castle, quickly catches the attention of Daredevil and unlike past thugs Matt is used to dealing with, Castle is more than a match.

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Then Matt’s world is turned even more topsy-turvy when Elektra re-enters his life, just as he and his assistant Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) start to grow closer to each other. Like a moth to a flame, Matt is drawn to his former lover who is an equally deadly killer in her own right.

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This season of Daredevil is simply terrific. It still delivers the hard-boiled, violently graphic scenes while further acknowledging its comic book roots. From the very first episode, a comic-book drawn sweeping vista of New York City that is laced with the sounds of summer violence, to the gut-wrenching fights that are too vicious to watch at times, Daredevil continues to demonstrate why it is still the best superhero TV show.

three amigosAside from the stunt work and the noirish cinematography, what anchors Daredevil are the above-par performances. Charlie Cox still delivers a nuanced and ground portrayal of a man trying to quell his savage side, while on the opposite end Jon Bernthal nearly steals the show with his wounded, savage performance as Castle. This version of the Punisher is arguably the best one yet as Castle terrifies everyone with his single-minded mission to punish the guilty while emoting some pathos as his story is unveiled. Even the supporting cast like Elden Henson as the always amiable Fogyy Nelson has many memorable scenes that truly buttress the main actors.

Along with Jessica Jones and given how successful Marvel Studios has been with this endeavor, perhaps the studio should just concentrate on these Netflix productions rather than the pedestrian efforts on ABC. The second season of Daredevil demonstrates this idea wholeheartedly.

Lewis T. Grove

 

Captain America: Civil War Trailer #2

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Wow that was intense! Marvel Studios just released the second trailer for May’s Captain America: Civil War and it is just jammed full of “Wow!” moments, especially at the end (more on that later).

Even though Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is taking center stage lately and for good reason, I get the feeling that come May, the DC movie will be forgotten once Captain America: Civil War comes out. It’s because by now, we’re all familiar with these beloved characters on screen (and the actors portraying them) and have rooting interests on one side or the other. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) is well entrenched and uber popular thanks to Downey’s performances and the good memories from the first Iron Man film. As for Captain America (Chris Evans), seemingly overnight, well ever since the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he became a star that is popular with the masses.

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This trailer has so many terrific scenes, such as Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) jumping off that arrow, or War Machine’s (Don Cheadle) literal fall to Earth. But the big surprise was the end reveal of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and he looks terrific and spot on! He vaguely sounds like the Andrew Garfield version of Spider-Man but the costume looks more authentic to the comic book version. But why does he have to be on Team Iron Man? Iron Man is such a tool. Anyhow, enjoy this second trailer for Captain America: Civil War

Waldermann Rivera

Top 50 Star Trek Episodes, Part 1: Episodes 31-50

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Star Trek, the landmark science fiction TV series will celebrate its 50th anniversary six months from now. It is hard to believe that 50 years after its debut, people are still fascinated with the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and the rest of the Enterprise crew. As some of you might have noticed, there has been an increased number of posts lately focused on Star Trek and its spinoffs and this will continue throughout the year. To commemorate the awesome occasion of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, along with more articles devoted to Star Trek, we’re going to countdown the top fifty episodes from the original series in separate posts. Let us commence…

50.  “A Taste of Armageddon” At a planet at war with another world, a  landing party led by Captain Kirk is sentenced to death because a computer determines them to be casualties in a battle simulation.

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49. “The Paradise Syndrome” On a planet settled by Native Americans, a weary Kirk loses his memory and becomes a member of a local tribe who see him as a savior.

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48. “Whom Gods Destroy” Kirk and Spock are trapped in an insane asylum by a former Starfleet captain (Steve Ihnat) with delusions of grandeur. This episode featured Yvonne Craig as a voluptuous, green Orion patient.

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47. “What Are Little Girls Made of?” Kirk and Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett) travel to a planet to search for her fiancé (Michael Strong), a famous archeologist who went missing. Instead, they discover a plot to replace key Federation personnel with androids, including Kirk.

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46. “The Changeling” The Enterprise encounters a long-lost Earth probe that was enhanced alien AIs and mistakenly thinks Kirk is its creator. The Enterprise captain then struggles to control the increasingly hostile and deadly probe.

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45. “The Squire of Gothos” Kirk and the Enterprise crew contend with Trelane, a powerful but immature being (William Campbell) who delights in torturing the crew with his vast powers. Trelane was clearly an early influence for Q who appeared in the Star Trek spinoffs.

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44. “The Galileo Seven” Spock, McCoy and others in a shuttlecraft crash land on a deadly planet with vicious giants and have to fight for survival. Meanwhile, Spock’s command abilities are questioned by the survivors who decry his cold Vulcan logic.

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43. “The Immunity Sysndrome” The Enterprise is ordered to destroy a giant one-celled organism that is invading our galaxy. The episode was heightened with some memorable interplays between Spock and McCoy and colorful special effects.

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42. “The Gamesters of Triskelion” Kirk, Uhura, and Ensign Chekov (Walter Koenig) are kidnapped by wagering aliens who force them to fight in deadly fighting games against other competitors. An action-packed entry, with obvious stuntman stand-ins for Shatner.

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41. “The Deadly Years” Kirk, Spock and other members of a landing party experience rapid aging and become very old. The result is that their ability to perform their duties are questioned, highlighted by a hearing where an aged Kirk argues that he still has value.

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