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The “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” Crux Review

The “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” Crux Review

This  is going to be a spoiler filled review, so if you haven’t seen it yet? Look away now…


Today was my dad’s birthday. He would have been 65. 
He died 5 years ago and I miss the hell out of him.

It’s apropos, trust me.


So I finally got around to seeing Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (hereafter referred to as simply: BvS), after it being on release for over a week already. Having read and watched reviews being less than kind to it, I wanted to see for myself if the less than glowing critiques were justified, and if they were, what was it exactly that made the film so bad?

For a start, BvS isn’t quite as bad as the current rating of 31% on Rotten Tomatoes would have you believe. There were some pretty good points about this film…

Batfleckg0EhmhH

The first positive of the movie. Seriously.

Christian Bale was and probably always will be my favourite on-screen Batman. So when Ben Affleck was announced as Batman, I was seriously questioning what the fuck DC were thinking.

As it turned out, he makes for a great Batman. Not Bale great, but great nonetheless. Bats in this film is a perfectly realised Frank Miller’s Batman of The Dark Knight Returns. Right down to the story beats, age and even his bat costume & armour. All are directly referencing and lifting from Frank Miller’s defining work.

This is a pissed off, grizzled and just plain fucked off Batman. A man who is sick of shit and just wants to clean up and protect his Gotham from any and all threats.

As Bruce Wayne, he was in Metropolis during the events of Man of Steel (MoS) and saw and experienced first-hand, at street-level, the kind of wholesale wanton destruction that Kryptonians are capable of when they have a tiff.

After a short dream sequence (the film is full of them), the intro sequence to the film depicts the destruction during the end of MoS as witnessed by Bruce. The background to this destruction laden intro is the World Engine that was unleashed by Zod in MoS, battering the city.

With buildings collapsing left, right and centre, Bruce dodges his way through the destruction, in an effort to see who he can save. His main goal is the Wayne Industries building in Metropolis, which he witnesses being sliced in half by Heat Vision, and collapsing, killing everyone still inside.

From that point on, you can understand how an ordinary man like Bruce would view aliens like these. Mega-powerful, god-like creatures who can’t be stopped or killed by mortal weapons and who could, on a whim, destroy all life on the planet. As he said to his butler, Alfred:

“Count the dead, thousands of people. What’s next? Millions? He has the power to wipe out the entire human race, and if we believe there’s even a one percent chance that he is our enemy, we have to take it as an absolute certainty.”

Thus begins his mission to take down Superman…

Supermanbatman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-trailer-henry-cavill-warner-brothers-youtube-12032015-1276x850

Henry Cavill returns as Superman, his second appearance as the Last Son of Krypton.

I bloody loved Man of Steel, and a lot of that was down to Henry Cavill. I think he not only makes a perfect Superman, but also a great, more modern Clark Kent.

Christopher Reeve for many, will of course, and rightly so, be the best Superman. However as good as he was (and he was!), he never quite had the physicality that you would associate with someone as physically powerful as Superman.

Cavill fills that suit with aplomb.

If it sounds like I’m completely man-crushing here?

#guilty #broner

He returns to the role, and does just as great a job here. The impact that the events of MoS had both on Metropolis and Clark play out here.

There are two diametrically opposed views on Superman in this film. Those who support Supes, and believe he’s only here to do good, and those, like Bruce Wayne, who believe he presents a clear, present and potentially future threat to the citizens of Metropolis and beyond.

Cavill plays the guilt-ridden and conflicted Superman/Clark to a tee, and events later in the film show him pushed to the breaking point, ready to go full on nuclear on the film’s main antagonist and first major failing, Lex Alexander Luthor.

Good job Henry.

Call me?

*ahem*

Alexander “I’m not Lex” LuthorEfgtr

No, not the Lex you’re used to. Just not yet at least. Jesse Eisenberg, again playing himself as he does in every film he’s ever in (hey it worked for Sean Connery right?) plays Alexander Luthor, son of Lex Luthor.

Here, Alexander…fuck it, Lex, is a tech billionaire, of much the same ilk as another character Eisenberg played in the Social Network: Mark Zuckerberg. Here he’s full of twitches, tics and really hams it up as a man with psychological and pathological daddy issues.

His portrayal of Lex frames the character as one that might actually be clinically insane, which was honestly the best thing about the character.

But the biggest negative about his character is his motivation.

What the fuck was it?

It was never made clear throughout the entire film exactly why Lex was doing what he was doing. He just seemed to hate Superman and wanted to kill him. He kept referencing imagery of angels and demons, so maybe he was meant to be thinking that Superman was a demon in human form and he saw himself as the saviour of the world?

But if that was the case, then that doesn’t track logically with his unleashing of the villain that criminally was shown in the trailers: Doomsday. A creature hell-bent on destroying everything. But we’ll come back to him in a bit.

Cameos: Wonder Woman

Underused, but we got to see a decent glimpse of how Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will be realised in her first full length feature that’s set to début next year.

There were initially a lot of concerns, similar to Batfleck, about Gadot’s casting. Happily though, again similar to Batfleck, Gadot pulled off the Immortal Amazonian Princess shtick with not a little bit of credit to her name.

No, she’s not built, like some would have liked, but she did well with the little she had handed to her to work with. That amounted to a few scenes outside of the Doomsday battle, and of course the majority of that battle itself.

It was good to see DC’s holy trinity on screen at once for the first time though.Batman-V-Superman-Trailer-Trinity

But what of the other cameos? Flash? Aquaman? Cyborg?

Well, these were all “blink and you’ll miss them” cameos. Seen mainly as surveillance footage gathered by Lex in his research, each cameo was on screen for less than a minute each.

For me though, Flash aside, none of the others really have me all that pumped. And I only exclude Flash from that because I love the completely unconnected TV show. But frankly, the guy they’ve chosen to play Barry Allen in the DCU?

Looks like a skeevy drug dealer to be frank:

flashvszoom15

Barry Allen on TV: Clean cut, fun and wholesome.

ezra-miller

Barry Allen in the DCU – $5 a baggie?

Bleh. I remain to be convinced about any of the coming Justice League members outside of the Trinity. They’re not the Avengers, that’s for damn sure.

And as an aside? No-one even fucking likes Aquaman. I feel sorry for the frankly miscast Jason Momoa. He’s been stuck with a fucking terrible superhero to portray. I predict his solo film will absolutely stink.

Not even the guys on the Big Bang Theory, who all love superheroes, even like Aquaman.

cdec069e361d3e41b0259fe6991e48a2

Fear him, he can swim like, really fast…?

And as for Cyborg? Anyone care?

Thought not.

Anyhow, the remainder of the MoS supporting cast are all here too: Lois Lane and Perry White (a returning Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne), as well as Martha and Jonathan Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner).

The actual emotional highpoint of the film for me was when Superman went AWOL for a while to try to clear his head and to get away from Metropolis, following a bombing at a trial where he was the only survivor.

He went hiking in the snow, and had a vision of his adoptive father, Jonathan Kent whilst there.

Pa Kent had a few wise words for his son, and the line that got me, after the vision ended?

Clark: I miss you dad.

Told you it was apropos.


Lowpoints of BvS

Anyhow, onto the failings then, and what dragged the film down, Lex Luthor aside…

First off, there was very little humour in this film. I can remember two jokes, one of which was the “I thought she was with you” line from the trailer.

Other than that, and an aside from Alfred (who seems to have been merged with the character of Lucius Fox in this DCU continuity and provides Batman’s tech support), there was bugger all to lighten the mood of what was otherwise a fucking grim spectacle.


Serious spoilers for the end of the film follow from this point right through to the end. You were warned!

Spoilers-Spoilers-everywhere-memeWhen you think about it, the reason it’s really grim is because the storyline of this film is quite simply The Dark Knight Returns vs the Death of Superman.

And yes, DC are using a bastardised Zod’s body (as seen in the trailers!) as that Doomsday. And here? He looks like a fucking Mutant Ninja Turtle. Like a pissed off Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtle that didn’t get his pizza delivered within 20 minutes or less…

doomsday-and-raphael-separated-at-birth

Anyway, the storyline follows that particular character’s most notable story to a tee.

Yeah DC, you done blown your load early.

You killed Superman.

You went and utterly blew the Death of Superman storyline by cramming it into the last 20 minutes of the second film in the DCU?

Seriously?

/facedesk x infinity

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu….

Death of Superman should have been a storyline that had an entire film dedicated to it. Man of Steel 3 perhaps.

You should have given the general audience time. Time to bond with this iteration of Superman beyond 1.5 movies. Give them time to see him redeem himself from the events of the first movie, to prove himself to be the hero the world knows him to be.

Then? When he’s a proper saviour, and adored by the world of the DCU and audiences worldwide? Then drop the hammer of Death of Superman, without any hint that he may still be alive, unlike what they did with the final shot of this film.

Alas that wasn’t to be. Instead, DC rush things in an effort to catch up to Marvel, and cram Superman’s most important storyline into the last 20 minutes of only the second film in the DCU, thus robbing the character’s sacrifice of much of its gravitas and importance.

Fuck.

But, as anyone who knows the Superman comic history will attest, Supes does come back after the Death of Superman storyline, and this version will too, but I’ll swing back round to why in a second.


There were many dream sequences I mentioned earlier, and two of them are relevant to where I think the DCU are heading with their overall story arc. Particularly that of Superman.

The first dream sequence involved a more overt cameo from the DCU’s Flash. In it, he warned Bruce Wayne:

“Listen to me now. It’s Lois, Lois Lane. She’s the key. I’m too soon? I’m too soon. You were right about him. You’ve always been right about him. Fear him. Find us, you have to find us.”

The other sequence, partially in the trailers, was set in the post-apocalyptic wasteland outside of a city, presumably Metropolis. In it is carved a huge Omega symbol, and there are troops with Superman’s S logo emblazoned upon their arms.

In this dream, it looks like Superman has gone evil, and amassed an army that worships him like a god, and he’s destroyed everyone that has gone against him.

batman-v-superman-final-trailer-6

Given these two dream sequences, I have a feeling they are going to really fuck things up. Especially for Superman fans.

How?

A few years back, a fighting game was released by WB featuring the superheroes of DC.

It was called Injustice: Gods Among Us.

It was set 5 years after the events of Death of Superman, and in it, he and Lois are married and she’s pregnant with his child.

The story goes that Superman, after the Joker tricks him into killing Lois and destroying Metropolis, Superman decides that he needs to impose a forced “peace” on the world. He warns the governments of the world to cease fighting, or that he’ll do it for them.

In essence he becomes a global dictator and rules the planet with an iron fist.

If you want to read more on it, you can read the Wikipedia synopsis, or a longer fuller description of the comic prequel.

So yeah, that’s where I think they’re going, and maybe why they’ve blown such an important storyline so early in the DCU.

It’s also fairly obvious that the major villain in the DCU, and perhaps in the last JL movie proper, is going to be Darkseid. In the aforementioned apocalypse nightmare, Darkseid’s henchmen are fighting alongside a corrupted Superman and his troops, so it looks as though both Superman and Darkseid could be teaming up in a future DCU installment.

In essence, Darkseid is going to be DC’s Thanos.

Except Marvel will have threaded the threat of Thanos throughout 12 movies over the course of 10 years.

Not so much patience being shown by DC.


Conclusion

Am I glad I went to see the film?

Yeah, of course. I love superhero films and TV shows, and it takes one to be really really bad for me to regret seeing it. Potentially Aquaman’s solo flick will be falling into this category.

Would I recommend you go see it?

Eh. It depends if you’re as big a fanboy as I am. If not? Maybe wait for the Blu-Ray release in 6 months.

Ultimately, it’s a very mixed film. Storyline was sketchy to non-existent, and the characterisation of some characters was off or incoherent at best.

The premature use of the Death of Superman storyline so early on in the DCU is so very nearly unforgivable, and Zack Snyder is going to have to really justify trying to run before he can walk with this nascent Justice League IP. This should have been a story that would have been built up to over the course of years, and if Darkseid’s coming? Have him resurrect Superman as his lieutenant.

But the film did have some high points. The fight sequences were good, and the effects were well handled. Batfleck and WW both came out of this with credit in their banks, and we’ve got a possible showdown with Darkseid on the cards.

I don’t usually score stuff, but it would be around a 5 to 6 out of 10. It was far from awful, but it was also far from great. And I say that as someone who adored Man of Steel, a movie that has had no shortage of critics in the years since its release.

An appropriately bitter-sweet experience then, for a bitter-sweet day.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Posted by Sar in Movies, News, Opinion, Reviews, 0 comments
Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So it’s Xmas time again, Winterveil is currently in effect on Azeroth, and we’re all looking forward to seeing a fat man emptying his sack all over our living rooms late at night…


Christmas came early for me and a lot of other geeks this year, with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Dec 17th. Long gone now are memories of George Lucas’s attempts to destroy the franchise with his horrific prequels, which were packed full of risible acting, complete lack of acting or direction, and the terrible decision to eschew practical effects completely in favour of CGI, which hasn’t aged well, even only 10 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

JJ Abrams took the helm for this first film of another trilogy, and it quite bluntly shits on the prequels from orbit. It is a far, FAR superior film to all three prequels on several fronts:

Acting: Newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey & Finn respectively absolutely school Natalie Portman and the godawful Hayden Christensen in terms of raw acting ability.

See Anakin? THIS IS HOW YOU EMOTE!

Ridley is absolutely delightful, and Rey is now firmly one of my favourite SW characters. Boyega as Finn completely owned his role and finally showed what a black male lead character (itself practically a SW curiousity) in the SW universe can be.

Sorry Lando & Mace Windu, but you were hardly lead characters!

😉

Practical Effects: Frankly, screw overuse of CGI. If you can build a set practically, then for god’s sakes do it! It gives the actors so much more to work with and allows both them and the audience to inhabit the scene so much more, and the situation becomes so much better realised and believable as a result.

Practical creature effects also helped enormously to give this new film the same feel as the original trilogy, especially the new “cantina” scene at Maz Kanata’s castle.

Friends Reunited: The original trilogy cast & characters make a very welcome return, and when Han & Chewie appeared on screen for the first time, you couldn’t have wiped the stupid fanboy grin off my face for a million quid. Not that the story concentrates on them in any way. No, this is firmly a film centred around the new triumvirate of characters (Rey, Finn & Kylo Ren, the new villain), but the appearances of them spattered throughout the film’s 136 minute running time help make the universe feel just like the one we left 32 years ago.

Story: No trade federation, no trade routes, no silly senate dealings. Nope, this was back to the roots of story telling in Star Wars: A story firmly about family. Or in this case, families…

There was one major criticism of the plot for this film:

[su_spoiler title=”Click for slight spoiler details…”]The film’s plot, beat for beat, perhaps too closely mirrors that of A New Hope. Didn’t bother me at all though, as it was perhaps better to help root the characters and setting once again back into a galaxy far far away…[/su_spoiler]

Overall though? Absolutely loved it. I was completely wrapt for the 2 hours, which is not something I could say for more than any individual 10 minute period of any of the prequels.

Is it better than the OT films? Perhaps Jedi, which as always been the weakest of the OT, but New Hope and Empire for me are still stronger films, especially Empire.

I’ll be going to see it a 2nd time over the Xmas & New Year period, which is something I rarely do with films/movies in the cinema. Last time I did that was the Matrix!

If you haven’t seen it yet, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS!? GO!


Posted by Sar in General, Movies, News, Opinion, Reviews, 2 comments
Did Blizzard screw up with Legion already?

Did Blizzard screw up with Legion already?

Or, how to cope during downtime…

So, Blizzard announced Legion as the follow up to Warlords of Draenor about 6 weeks ago, and whilst we were all excited to see what comes next, the announcement has had a palpable negative effect on the game as it stands right now. So how can we cope in the downtime?

Too soon Executus, too soon!

Ragnaros, the Firelord

And lo, fiery the angels fell…

Blizzard mistimed the announcement of Legion. They announced it way too early in my opinion. Just look at what has happened with the game since the reveal back in mid-August: the population of the game as it stands has declined massively again. Subs may be active, but people aren’t physically playing right now. Is this because people no longer view WoD as current content?

Possibly, because once you announce what’s coming next, it takes the shine off of the current expansion (or in WoD’s case what little there was of it to begin with) and people just want the next big shiny content drop.

The announcement killed interest in playing the current game for far too many people, and raiding especially has massively suffered as a result. Certainly on my trio of merged servers raid signups right across the server have dropped to an all time low.

Our raid signups seemed to dry up a week or two right after the announcement, and presently we can barely scrape a 10 man side together at the moment to get anything on the go. We’re testing out joint raids with another guild on the server just to see if we can get regular games out, but it’s a largely untested premise as yet.

What Blizzard should have done was hold on, at least until Blizzcon, and done the big reveal there. At least there might have been a chance of a beta right after, igniting people’s interest even further still, because as it is, it was a brief bright burst of interest for a week or two, before dying back down to a background noise level and taking more subs out of the game.

Coping in the downtime is hard

After all this time, you better be prepared...

After all this time, you better be prepared…

As we continue to get closer to the Legion release date, whatever that may be (we should get it revealed at Blizzcon), continued long term interest in the game will surely wane further still.

In fact, the longer that players are out of the game for, the less likely they will feel like they’re still invested in the game as a whole, and the less chance there is of them coming back with any great gusto and renewed longer-term plans come Legion.

As this happens, communities and guilds within the game will only continue to fracture and break down as more and more players let their subscriptions lapse.

This in itself places further peril upon the long term future of the game, as subs numbers continue to decline. The subs decline over the course of WoD has been screamingly and worryingly rapid. Faster than any expansion drop off before it.

Even during the 14 months of Siege of Orgrimmar at the end of Mists there was nowhere near the level of drop off that WoD has seen during the first six months of the expansion.

Was Mists a fluke?

Dear Mists, please come back, love, Warlords.

Dear Mists, please come back, love, Warlords.

I read an article on Forbes the other day from a game analyst and WoW player that stated that after Wrath, WoW’s storyline was essentially done. Everything after that has felt like an added on excuse to keep the game going long after the main protagonist has left the stage. And up to a certain point, I find it hard to disagree with him.

Cataclysm was terrible, and until WoD it was the worst expansion without question. Unlike WoD however, the first tier and first six months of Cata were its strong point. Tier 11 was one of my favourite raid tiers.

The remaining raid tiers in Cata were pathetic, with minimal bosses and massive recycling of mobs and locations. Mind you we’d see Blizzard being even more environmentally conscious and recycle mounts, quest rewards and storylines in WoD…

Mists came along after Cata and whilst the so called purists hated the entire premise “Pandas, in my game? Eurgh!”, those of us who actually went with it and played it loved it.

The oft-mentioned dailies burn out at the start of Mists, and the poor quality of the Heart of Fear raid instance aside, Mists was IMO the best expansion overall, very narrowly edging Wrath out of the number one spot.

Then Warlords came out. Everyone was massively hyped for it, they loved the notion of seeing these iconic figures brought to life again, and they presented a real and credible threat not only to Draenor, but potentially to Azeroth as well.

I mean, we were going up against the pre-nascent Lich King in Ner’zhul for crying out loud, and he was only ONE of them!

Then he got killed in a 5 man dungeon and everyone went, “Erm, what? Nah, he’ll be back, he’s the fucking Lich King bitches!”

Spoiler: He, like over 5m others in the game, didn’t come back.

Bazinga!

Bazinga!

Levelling was excellent, as I’ve often admitted, the first couple of times through. It was fresh and different, and it seemed like there were a stack of things to discover.

But after those first few trips through the 90 to 100 journey, it slowly became apparent that there wasn’t really anything worth discovering out in the world, and the levelling process then quickly became very strained and we were back to the normal drudgery on the scale of pure quest levelling again.

The Warlords themselves were all dispensed with rather rapidly and without much fanfare. In fact the only Warlords that got anything more than insultingly minimal lip-service were Blackhand, Kilrogg and Daddy Hellscream.

Even Garrosh, the reason we were here to begin with, was killed off cheaply in a cut scene. Naturally by the green Jebus himself, kill stealing a major villain in a cut scene for the second time (Deathwing anyone?), robbing players of any agency in his demise. Criminal.

But then again, robbing players of agency was something Blizzard has excelled at in Warlords, but I’ve spoken about that already at great length…

How to cope with lengthy downtime periods?

So very, very bored.

So bored. So very, very bored.

So how does one cope with these periods in WoW, where raiding is for all intents and purposes dead in the water, and progression is by and large finished? Especially in an expansion like Warlords, where non-raid content was already very thin on the ground to begin with?

Well, if you’re anything like me you are a bundle freak, and you more than likely have an embarrassingly large pile of neglected games on various services, most likely Steam. At this present moment my Steam collection numbers over 620 games, and according to SteamDB, I’ve not played 72% of those.

Now a large percentage of that 72% will be games that came in bundles that I have absolutely zero interest in playing. Similarly I have about 50+ games in my Gog.com account, only a handful of which I’ve played at all, let alone completed.

That’s one of the reasons I was trying to run game giveaways several months ago, but given that that initiative fell flat on its arse I knocked it in the head. I guess people just don’t like free games…

So the obvious route to go is other AAA games, even other Blizzard games. However over the past couple of years, I’ve found I’ve gotten a lot more joy from playing games from the more Indie end of the gaming spectrum. Games like Ori and the Blind Forest, A Story about my Uncle, Her Story, Pillars of Eternity (currently 50% off!) etc etc.

In fact the only AAA game I can remember playing recently outside of the Blizzard stable that I’ve really enjoyed is the one I’m currently playing, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (hence the header image, make sure to use this -23% voucher though!), Hideo Kojima’s final MGS game. One that brings the MGS storyline full circle, and is seemingly Konami’s last big release outside of yearly PES updates.

Quick side note: If you’ve been completely in the dark about recent goings on over at Konami and why Castlevania and Silent Hill and indeed MGS are now all but dead franchises, I thoroughly recommend you go watch or indeed read yourself some Jim “fucking” Sterling son. PS: #fuckonami 

But Bundle websites are a great place to build a game collection if you’re only starting to do just that. Likewise there are some great websites to visit in order to get really cheap games outside of the obligatory Steam sales.

Places I recommend:

I’m sure there are hundreds of other smaller bundle and sale sites out there, and if there’s any I missed let me know (comments are working now!). Just be aware that quite a lot of bundles will have one or two gems whilst the rest of the bundle is filled out with complete dross. Caveat Emptor and all that jazz.

Looking to the future

Likely going to be utterly shit, oh well.,,

Likely going to be utterly shit, oh well…

Looking on the bright side for WoW players, we have several things to look forward to. Legion of course is released next year, the earlier the better for the long term health of the game as well.

The Warcraft movie is due out next June, and whilst I have serious misgivings as to the quality of the movie itself (in all honesty I think it’s going to be a car crash, sadly), I’ll no doubt be a good little fanboy and toddle off and see it in the cinema, and cringe alone in the dark…

Legion will of course bring with it promised lore and answers to some long standing questions, prime amongst them for me: What is it about Azeroth that makes it so important in the Warcraft Universe? Yes it’s the planet we call home in the game, but beyond that, what is it that makes this particular planet so interesting to the Burning Legion, demons that we’ve found out in WoD that have easy access to multiple dimensions and versions of reality?

The caveat I’ll place on that though is that we were promised new Blood Knight lore in WoD, and we’re still waiting….

So yeah, not holding my breath 100% on answers to any of my burning questions.

Of course there’s the usual end of expansion things to take care of, such as farming old content for mounts, pets, titles and so on, as well as old transmog gear.

And for transmog junkies like myself, of course Legion bears the promise of a Diablo/Wildstar style transmog system, which alone will free up something ridiculous like 90% of my storage space!

Wrapping up

So how are you guys coping with the current downtime, especially as it looks like it’s going to rattle on for another 6 months or more while we wait on Legion? What other games are you playing at the moment? Any good sites for deals on individual games or bundles that I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted by Sar in Gaming, News, RPGs, Thunder, World of Warcraft, 4 comments