I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Posts Tagged ‘DC Comics’

Batman & Robin (20th Anniversary Ice-travaganza)

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

BATMAN & ROBIN is 20 years cold, and CHILLED TO PERFECTION!

“There’s nobody else to blame but me. I could have said, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’ I just hope whenever I see a list of the worst movies ever made, we’re not on it. I didn’t do a good job. George did. Chris did. Uma is brilliant in it. Arnold is Arnold.” –Joel Schumacher to Variety, 2014

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

It was June 20, 1997, and I thought BATMAN & ROBIN was the stupidest, most tasteless, worst big budget movie ever made. After the wholesale awfulness of BATMAN FOREVER went over well with audiences willing to sanction its buffoonery, Warner Brothers allowed director Joel Schumacher to go full Schumacher for the next one. It’s the same admirable, director-friendly approach that led to Tim Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS, and the bean counters would come to regret it once again. Schumacher’s purest artistic vision is like the aftermath of a rainbow sherbet fight in the costume storage warehouse for an ice skating troupe. He keeps the moody Elliot Goldenthal score and themes of mourning and vengeance, but buries them in a day-glo fantasia of overacting, bad puns, fetishistic rubber costumes and theme park stunt show style super hero battles. For me it became Exhibit A in any argument against the “It’s Not Supposed To Be Shakespeare/Check Your Brain At the Door” school of summer blockbuster permissiveness.

I wasn’t wrong. But twenty years later to the day, after many truly great summer movies, some of them even starring Batman, it’s easier for me to appreciate the uniqueness of BATMAN & ROBIN – the outrageously tacky designs, the subversively in-your-face homoeroticism, the laugh-out-loud ludicrousness of the plot and dialogue and settings and action, and especially the spectacle of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bulky metal costume and glittery blue makeup as Mr. Freeze, playing like a simultaneous parody of over-the-top Batman villains, blockbuster excess and his own penchant for groan-worthy one-liners. He makes more than two dozen ice or cold related cracks without losing his boyish, gap-toothed Arnold charm.

Today I am prepared to admit that I own BATMAN & ROBIN on Blu-Ray. And have watched it twice in that format. And on purpose.

Ah shit, you guys. I like this stupid movie now. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Wonder Woman

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Remember when they first announced Gal Gadot would be playing Wonder Woman, and people complained? I remember, because to those of us of the Fast & Furious faith, we knew her as Gisele, and it offended us that they would disrespect her like that. We knew she could be good.

Turns out she’s great. I can’t imagine a more perfect actor for this interpretation of the character. She’s the best thing about an overall sturdy movie.

In a quick prologue, young Diana – they never call her Wonder Woman, but I will, because I don’t feel like I’m on a first name basis with her – gently defies her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, SOLDIER, DEMONLOVER, 3 DAYS TO KILL) to train with her badass aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright, BEOWULF, MONEYBALL, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) to become a great warrior. She lives a good life of training montage and power discovery on the all-female island of Themyscira, until one day a fuckin dude floats up on shore.

It’s Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, SMOKIN’ ACES), a WWI flying ace and Allied spy shot down while trying to escape with stolen plans for a deadly chemical weapon. German soldiers attack and feel the wrath of the Amazons, a great action scene where Antiope gets the most badass move: a flip and mid-air simultaneous firing of three arrows that hit three different foes. So clearly Wonder Woman learned from the best. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Steel

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

tn_steelIn 1998, we got the first ever black Marvel super hero on film, Wesley Snipes as BLADE. An important milestone in pop culture, a breakthrough for Wesley Snipes, one of the great films of the decade and of the comic book genre. It’s momentous no matter how you cut it. For the record, though, DC was ahead of the curve. They had their first black super hero on film one year and one week earlier than Marvel.

But, uh, to be clear it was… Well, it was STEEL. There’s no other way to say it. The movie was STEEL. That’s the only thing about it.

Shaqille O’Neal is Steel (Christian name John Henry Irons), an inventor of experimental weapons for the U.S. military. We first meet him demonstrating a sonic cannon test model with his friend Sparks (Annabeth Gish, WYATT EARP) and some fucking asshole named Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson, NEW JACK CITY). We know John is a nice guy because he’s telling a senator about his weapons being non-lethal.

“You like that?”

“Not killing? Yes ma’am, I do.” (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Suicide Squad

Monday, August 8th, 2016

tn_suicidesquadFor many years, Warner Brothers had pretty good luck making Batman and Superman movies. With SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE they pretty much invented the comic book movie. With BATMAN they reinvigorated it. Sure, there were those Joel Schumacher movies that put the whole venture in peril, but then they took the genre to the next level when they let Christopher Nolan start over and do his very successful and influential trilogy. They’ve had more hits than misses, I think.

But now the rival Marvel Comics company has their whole interconnected movie universe thing, and everybody’s gonna be jealous of their neighbor’s sports car, I guess, so WB is trying to do one of those for DC Comics. So far this has caused excitement followed by disappointment.

But the upside is that because they’re desperate to show off all these characters they own they went for the cool idea of SUICIDE SQUAD, a comic where a bunch of the villains from other comics are taken out of prison and forced on dangerous missions for the government, DIRTY DOZEN or Snake Plissken style. Popular bad guy characters are able to be enjoyed as anti-heroes, and get some amount of redemption for that time when they tried to rob a bank but the Flash caught them or whatever. The movie version is written and directed by David Ayer. That’s the guy who used to be known for writing TRAINING DAY, but more recently he’s come into his own as a writer/director with END OF WATCH, SABOTAGE and FURY. He can also brag that he has a writing credit on THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Batman: Assault On Arkham

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

tn_batmanaoasummer2016originsBATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM is one in a long series of DTV animated movies based on the super hero works of the DC Comics company (#20 out of 26 so far, according to Wikipedia). This is a particularly too-PG-13-for-kids one (a sex scene, exploding heads, a few naughty words, bullets going into a decapitated body, unceremonious deaths of characters your kid may love if he or she is weirdly knowledgeable of third-string DC villains), and although it’s marketed as a tie-in to the Batman Arkham City video games it’s actually a Suicide Squad cartoon with Batman as a supporting character.

We all know the concept of Suicide Squad now, thanks to this summer’s live action version. It’s a DIRTY DOZEN type team but instead of army troublemakers the members are the enemies of various super heroes. This version starts when shady government official Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder, FACE/OFF) oversees her SWAT team getting The Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler, EXCISION) snatched out from under them by the fucking Batman (Kevin Conroy, YOGA HOSERS). They want Riddler for some secret black ops something or other, but Batman gets him into the regular legal system, locked up in Arkham Asylum. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Monday, March 28th, 2016

tn_bvs(HEAVY SPOILER REVIEW)

Here’s a weird thing about gigantic blockbuster movies based on popular licensed characters: you can end up making a sequel aimed less at the fans of the first movie than at the people who saw it once and have still not stopped complaining about it. At least that’s the fool’s errand that director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer (this time rewritten by Academy Award winner Chris Terrio) chose for themselves on BATMAN von SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, which selects as its primary theme the criticisms that people had of part 1.

To this day I don’t feel like I understand the widespread outrage at MAN OF STEEL for having a comic book style battle between super beings where buildings were destroyed in the process. I still haven’t noticed this standard applied to any other movie or comic book (including the cover of the very first issue of Superman!) and I stand by everything I said in this essay about how wild misinterpretations of MAN OF STEEL have become conventional wisdom. Still, I gotta thank all of you for doing that because I suspect it inspired the most intense and cinematic section of BATMAN vehemently opposed to SUPERMAN, in which we see the Superman v Zod battle from an even more human perspective than before. Specifically, from Bruce Wayne’s point-of-view as he runs fearlessly into the destruction and tries to help.

We only see the Kryptonians in tiny glimpses, far away, high in the sky. Mostly we see raining glass and brick and glowing energy beams in their wake. They truly are gods. And now we specifically see that rubble landed on one guy and are told that a woman is missing. And Bruce Wayne doesn’t like it.

(SPOILER: Bruce Wayne is Batman.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Vern Tells It Like It Is: Why I think MAN OF STEEL gets a bum rap

Monday, July 28th, 2014

VTILIIlogotn_mosI already wrote about MAN OF STEEL twice. First a review, then a second-viewing followup. Now here I am again, and for that I am truly sorry. But Superman is kind of like a new Batman, one of the inescapable topics in movie nerd discussions. With news stories about BATMAN VINCENT SUPERMAN popping up weekly, and internet bitterness (or binternet for short) toward MAN OF STEEL still lingering, I keep getting slapped with this persistent conventional wisdom that I just can’t abide. This is my attempt at a definitive rebuttal so I can get it off my chest and finally let it go and say “fly away, little Superman movie. Be free!”

MAN OF STEEL, The Internet says, is not true to the beautiful historic American history of the holy Superman, because this version doesn’t bother to rescue people, and he kills thousands of innocents. When I first heard this complaint, right after my first viewing of the movie, I wasn’t sure which part they were referring to where he kills all these people. I thought maybe I missed something. When I saw it again I looked for it and decided that whoever said that just wasn’t paying attention, or maybe it’s one of those easter eggs where you gotta look up on the internet the exact spot where they stuck it in there for the true fans to notice when they pause it and look at it upside with a magnifying glass. It’s not visible to the layman’s eye, I thought, so it must be some shit only Superweirdos would know about.

But then I started to hear it more. It comes up in every Badass Digest post about super heroes (especially in the comments), it came up in GODZILLA reviews, it comes up in the comments here, one of my buddies even said it to me in person when I started to tell him about what I was working on here. So this is like the end of the book I Am Legend. (spoiler for the end of the book I Am Legend.) It turns out I was the Superweirdo the whole time.

But let me plead my case. I’m not gonna convince any of you to like MAN OF STEEL, but I want to illustrate in detail why I don’t think this popular interpretation is supported by the actual movie.

(no disrespect intended to any of the websights, writers or commenters quoted or referred to here)

(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Superman: The Movie

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

tn_supermanSUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (not to be confused with Superman: The Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread) is an important movie. It was the first big comic book super hero picture, and an early entry in the world of post-STAR WARS blockbusters that shaped today’s generation of filmatists. By casting Marlon Brando as Joe L. Superman (plus  Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Glenn Ford as Pa Kent), director Richard (LETHAL WEAPON) Donner set the precedent, still in place today, that big respected actors in supporting roles can add credibility to a super hero picture. And by casting only-one-movie-under-his-belt Christopher Reeve as Kal L. “Clark Kent” Superman he showed that sometimes a fresh face is better than a familiar veteran to play an iconic character. That later worked for Wolverine (whose first movie was executive produced by Donner), Thor and two subsequent Supermen. (Other actors who were supposedly on the producers’ wish list: Al Pacino, James Caan, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman and [why not?] Muhammad Ali. Any one of those would’ve automatically been a completely different movie.)
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Batdance – celebrating 25 years of bustin

Monday, June 9th, 2014

tn_batdanceToday is June 9th, 2014 and I’m sure you know what that means: it’s the 25th anniversary of Prince’s “Batdance.” I don’t want to take away from your time celebrating with your families, and I’m sure the president will be making a speech and I don’t want to overlap too much with whatever he says, but I’d like to add a few thoughts real quick.

It’s the single that was released on this day in 1989, but I’m a movie reviewer, not an architecture dancer, so we’re gonna talk about the crazy ass music video. Do you remember it? A fuzzy TV signal flashes on a bat-symbol shaped screen. Now, you gotta understand, this was a time of feverish Batmania. America was enraptured by the upcoming Batman movie, which was advertised mainly with that symbol and no text other than “June 23.” Batman products of both official and illicit varieties were huge sellers. They would put a bat symbol on anything (and sometimes eyes on a bat symbol, if it was a bootleg t-shirt.) I remember they not only had Converse with bat symbols on them, they also had a phone that was shaped like Converse with bat symbols on them. So it is no surprise that Prince would own a TV screen shaped like a bat symbol. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a library of movies specifically composed for that aspect ratio. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Summer Movie Flashback: Superman Returns

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
2006
2006

tn_supermanreturnsHuh. SUPERMAN RETURNS. Interesting to watch this again now. Not only are there 7 years of 20/20 x-ray vision to look back on it with, but also a recent do-over that I like better. This was the first Superman movie made for a world that might be indifferent to the character of Superman, so they made that the subtext. Superman (Brandon Routh, DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT) has been gone for years studying space rubble or something, meanwhile the world has gotten used to not having him around to babysit them. Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth, THE WARRIOR’S WAY) has moved on to the point of having a kid (Tristan Lake Leabu), a fiancee (James Marsden, AMBUSH IN WACO: IN THE LINE OF DUTY), and a Pulitzer Prize for her essay “Why the World Doesn’t Need a Superman” (early draft title: “That Fucking Asshole Superman Got Me Pregnant in Part 2 and Then Flew Off To Space For Some Reason”). (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.