Justice League: War Review

24 01 2014

Over All Score: B

With Warner Bros developing a live action Justice League movie, Justice League: War is a perfect source for them to draw ideas from. Rather then attempt to introduce origin stories for each hero, with the exception of one, War focuses on the origin of the League itself. JL: War’s fast paced action, simple plot, and surprisingly interesting character dynamics showcase all the things that not only make comic book’s fun, but shows why DC’s heroes have endured for so many decades. While the voice acting falls flat and dialogue feels forced at times, it doesn’t take away from the over all fun that this film offers.

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Plot: B

For some reason, many creators think that origin stories have to be filled with for-shadowing, secret origins, and plot twists. The truth is that many of the best origin stores are simple. Superman is the last survivor of an Alien Race. Spider-man was bitten by a radioactive spider, and feels responsible for the death of his uncle. Tony Stark built a fucking super suit. I love the more adult interpretations we get from films like “Man of Steel” but there where times during the film I caught myself thinking, “When the hell is Clark going to put on the freak’n cape?!” JL: War takes a more direct approach; “Darkseid’s here bitches!” is how the film opens up. Within the first five minutes we have a fight scene that forces two heroes to team-up. As the invasion continues, more heroes are forced both into the fight, and they quickly realize that as individuals they can’t hope to win. That’s your plot. You don’t need to know where Wonder Woman comes from, and you don’t need to know how Shazam got his powers. If you want to know those things, look’em up on Wikipedia. It was refreshing to have a story about the Justice League, that was actually about the Justice League, instead of a story about how each hero got their powers.

 

 

Characters: B

This film is going to cause a division among fans. In JL:War, the heroes kill, and most of them are damn good at it. While some fans will approve on the more modern takes of the heroes (especially fans of “the Man of Steel” and the new 52 version of Wonder Woman) many fans will not approve of Wonder Woman decapitating enemies or Superman disintegrating foes. While the voice acting often fell flat or forced causing some scenes to loss their impact, the chemistry between the characters themselves was nothing short of classic. The Flash quickly befriended everyone, while Batman and Green Lantern battled egos. Green Lantern ends up stealing the show, in no small part due to how he naturally bounces dialog off of his teammates.

 

Villain: A

Many writers have said many of the best movie monsters are like natural disasters. They appear without explanation, immediately destroy everything in their path, and have no clear means of defeat. In the comic books, despite how Darkseid is stated to be “The most dangerous threat in the DC universe” there are few stories I have read where that holds true. I recall a Superman/Batman issue where Darkseid’s face was kissing Superman’s fist on nearly every page. His reputation as DC’s premier villain was fading. JL: War threw Darkseid back to the top of the food chain. As Darkseid floated in the air, his mere sight would level buildings. He literally battled some of the heroes with his hands behind his back. He didn’t have an elaborate plan or a sympathetic backstory. Darkseid’s story is, “I am here to kick your ass. What up?” And quiet frankly, that’s all a Justice League villain needs to be. A threat so great Superman and Batman can’t stop it a lone.

 

Fight Scenes: A

Say what you will about the DC heroes killing creatures, but the fight scenes where fantastic! We get an actual Batman vs Superman fight, cyborg’s powers in action are freak’n cool, and I’ve never seen Green Lantern’s constructs used so fluidly in an animated feature. JL: War makes the powers of our heroes become so alive that the next time you read them in a comic book, a part of you will feel cheated.

 

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Modernization: C

It’s clear from the beginning that JL:War is an attempt to modernize characters many have viewed as “out-of-date,” JL: War succeeds when it simply tries to tell a comic book story set in present day. JL: War fails when it attempts to “Be more Adult.” Sprinkled through the story we have characters yelling “Damn it!” “Shit” but they never feel organic. In one scene we hear Green Lantern say, “Let’s rumbas spooky” and in another scene he says, “Stab that son of a bitch in the eye!” The use of vulgar words come off as though during an editing session a middle school boy was hired to throw in a few curse words where he thought they would sound cool. Another example of right idea wrong delivery was when a throw away character said Wonder Woman dressed like a whore. Her costume has always been the subject of feminist debate, so I appreciate DC’s attempt to break the forth wall by having someone within the story address it. My problem is Wonder Woman’s respond to “You look like a whore.” We have Wonder Woman called a whore and the next scene she is ice cream with a 10 year old girl. I shit you not, that was the transition. Rather then take an opportunity to fully address her costume, or give a solid reason for her garb, Wonder Woman says “This costume makes me feel powerful” and then she leaves for ice cream. It was a missed opportunity for something bigger.

 

The new 52: B

The whole purpose DC launched “The New 52” was in order to make their comic book line new reader friendly. After watching JL: War, the viewer has a solid image of modern day DC comics and should be able to transition into the books without being confused as to why Green Lantern is a different ethnicity. The decision to replace Aquaman with Shazam is a little disheartening; especially after all the work DC has done to improve Aquaman’s status.

 

Over All Score: B

When you watch JL: War you get what you wanted. You see your favorite heroes, kick ass and take names. This film isn’t going to replace the fond memories fans have of Justice League Unlimited or Young Justice, but it will quickly show new audiences all the things we love about comic book super heroes.

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Ultimate Marvel Now: One of the best things to happen to Marvel

13 01 2014

For far to long comic books were not at all new ready friendly. Bloated continuities, massive cross-overs, and origin stories that did not work for modern day readers covered comic books like flies on shit. The Marvel launched the Ultimate line. The original goal was to modernize comic books, and it worked. Soon Marvel based comic book films were killing the box offices and readers who originally started off by reading the Ultimate line soon switched over to the main universe. With that the Ultimate Line had a new goal: Tell stories that could never happen in the original marvel universe.

The result received mixed reviews. Marvel’s two most popular characters died during this transition, Wolverine and Spider-man. With their deaths, there was no going back. While Wolverine’s replacement never really attached to fans, Spider-man’s replacement became one of Marvel’s shining stars. But why? Because with Miles Morales, the new Spider-man, new stories were told, but the theme remained the same.

All-New-Ultimates-1-Nakayama-Cover-68ee1When Wolverine, Cyclopes, and Xavier died during Ultimatium, and the FF split up when Reed Richards became doom, these things that made people read X-men and the Fantastic Four left with them. The X-men roster is new stranger to change, nor is the Fantastic Four, so their transitions should have been more natural, and even easier to accomplish. The problem was with the Ultimate X-men relaunch the books were not longer about a school where student who were different from the world learned to see these differences as gifts. The Fantastic Four where no longer a family diving into the unknown corners of the cosmos. Readers have always accepted the Cyclopes and Mr. Fantastic would not always be the stars, but the Ultimate line took away the very reason people read the books to begin with. They took away what made Marvel great, relatable heroes with relatable problems.

Brian Bendis didn’t fall into this trap, in fact, he made Peter Parker’s death improve his book and set it apart from all other mainstream comics. When Peter died, the things that made Peter originally great were all a part of Miles Morales. Miles wasn’t rich, he didn’t have a bunch of friends with super powers, and he wasn’t an alien. He got his powers by accident and with them gained a greater sense of responsibility. The things that set them apart really makes Miles’s story feel more like a sequel to Peter’s. Peter’s story ended, but his world lived on. The Daily Bugle is still a newsroom, Oscorp is still corrupt, and Nick Fury still runs S.H.I.E.L.D. We now get to read the adventures of a new, younger, character try to fill the shoes of his hero. And while many faces are still the same, the roles have changed. Once again, like a sequel. When you read Ultimate Spider-man you can jump from Amazing Spider-man the movie or the Amazing Spider-man the comics and follow along, while getting totally new stories. This is what modern day comics has been missing.

With the launch of “Ultimate Marvel Now,” the iconic teams and heroes and removed from the table, but their world remains. In their place stands younger, less experienced heroes doing the best they can. The formulas are all the same, just the faces are different. And many of the faces aren’t even new. Kitty being in the Ultimates makes complete sense. I personally had always envisioned Ms. Pryde as a Marvel A-lister once she grew up, but she never will get the chance in the primary universes. Now I can read stories where it has happened!

Another great part of Ultimate Marvel Now are several B-list heroes have the chance to shine, I specifically mean Cloak and Dagger. When DC launched the new 52 they promoted several characters fans had written off, and their efforts worked. Vibe, of all people, has not only found his own role in the DC universe but will be appearing in the Flash’s TV show. The new title, All-New Avengers, could do what the Ultimate line meant to do from the beginning, expose new readers to classic characters.