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Showing posts with label comics-and-capes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comics-and-capes. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2022

Ant-Man: Movie (2015) | Guest Appearing on Superhero Cinephiles Podcast

Ant-Man

From the episode's page, because Perry covered it really well, "This week, Perry is joined by video editor and writer Eddie Thomson of Why We Watch to discuss 2015’s Ant-Man! We discuss the long road this movie took to getting made, from Edgar Wright’s long involvement in the project, switching over to Adam McKay and eventually landing in the hands of Peyton Reed. We also talk about how the heist film aspect helps set this apart from the rest of the MCU and why not every movie needs to end in some world-ending threat." 

You can listen here, there are direct links to Spotify and Apple below, and all my guest appearances are on a Spotify playlist here.
SpotifyApple Podcasts

For people interested in talking with Perry, see what's available to discuss and his contact form.

Our discussion on the Nick Spencer comics is a Patreon exclusive. Re-reading them years later was not entirely what I expected, and that's one of the things that we talk about. It was a great experience though, and it inspired me to cobble together a variant cover for one of the issues.


Ant-Man Variant Cover
Ant-Man Variant Cover

Like the Doctor Strange poster, this was done with re-used assets in Blender, and then it was finished in Photoshop. The main challenge was laying out and rendering the apps separately and posing Scott. The main issue with Scott is it's an FK rig, so the arms and fingers had to be rotated individually, instead of if it had been an easier-to-pose IK setup. Also I’m sure the scale is ridiculous, but I wanted to balance readability of the phone with showing some background, and perspective is hard.

The room is by Fluza.
The phone is by smartbo.
The app icons are by prelightmedia, except the bomb I think is this one by Francesco Milanese.
Ant-Man is by danntzc, and I like that he made one that's different from the movie design.
Logos are direct from Marvel.
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Friday, July 22, 2022

Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business (2014) | Graphic Novel

A plain-clothes Peter Parker is nearly captured by private military contractors. That's weird. He's able to escape capture with the help of his long-lost sister, Teresa Parker. That's weirder. And now they need to go globe-trotting to stop The Kingpin. If this story threw many more curveballs, there's a chance people might've checked out, but it doesn't. Instead, it just gets more enjoyable to read and, frankly, just stare at because of the artwork. Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business is part of an Original Graphic Novel line called Marvel OGN, so it's like a longer, self-contained, single-issue. It's written by Mark Waid and James Robinson, painted and covered by Gabriele Dell'Otto, and penciled by Werther Dell'Edera.

The best thing about stories that go off the rails is that it makes buying into ones like this pretty easy. We don't need to forgive "Sins Past," or anything like, but we should give them a bit of a break because of what they allowed future writers to get away with.  Plus long-lost siblings reveal themselves in comics, Law & Order: SVU episodes, and even our world all the time. Waid and Robinson do introduce the story gently though, with a standard, but very entertaining, crime-in-progress. 

Spider-Man Hijacking
The only, very minor, art complaint I can think of is that there's usually another panel and speech balloons on top of iconic shots like this one | Copyright 2014 Marvel

Peter stumbles onto a truck that's full of shop-lifted laundry detergent, intended to be resold to wholesalers, and then smaller retailers. We get great quips, like "Stop in the Name of Mr. Clean," great panels, and a good sense of where this Spider-Man is right now. No Parker industries, so this is the only way to keep Family Business somewhat grounded. 

Once the main story kicks off with Teresa's introduction, they're quickly "Jason Bourne-ing," as Peter calls it, to places like Monte Carlo, Switzerland, and Cairo. 

As a fan of the show Archer, Monte Carlo was easily my favorite destination. It took a few minutes to confirm, but someone somewhere will rest easy knowing that Peter and Sterling Archer both don't know the first thing about Baccarat. At least they both clean up nicely. 

Personally, I recommend "college rulesBlackjack. If you can't count cards, just be the last person dealt and pray only one deck is in use | Copyright 2014 Marvel

They're there to get information to lead them to their parents' safe house. They're nearly stopped by a villain named Cyclone, and I really like the way his suit is analyzed. Spider-Man figures out that this version of the character isn't a mutant, so it'll be quick work to basically tear out his battery pack. Still, it would've been nice if Teresa could've helped. The best parts of this story, dealing with this relationship and their relationship with their parents, is where the writing does have some hiccups. 

We only get to experience so much of these these two learning about each other, and their mom and dad, because of the constraints of about a hundred pages. Shorthand dialogue about power and responsibility is well-used, but it still feels like a workaround because the plot has to keep powering through. Other times, it is a bit on the nose. The Monte Carlo contact tells the two that Richard Parker was a wisecracker, instead of it being shown in one of Waid and Robinson's flashback scenes. Yes, this stuff should be in there but in a less clunky way. Luckily, the buy-in of the sibling storyline doesn't really have this problem.

Since there's no time to do a DNA test or something, what Waid and Robinson come up with is that Teresa has a family photo and Peter's expertise as a photojournalist tell him that it's not doctored. Doubt is in the back of his mind and ours, but things are addressed well, and nothing about the story really feels cheap because of that doubt. A costume change for Spider-Man is handled similarly, and outside justification for that is the artists get to have more fun. It just works. And again, this part of the story is not the wildest thing to happen in comics, other pop culture, and everyday life. What is wild is that they meet The Kingpin in Cairo.

Leaving out some details, what Family Business comes down to is a male Parker is able to unlock a vault full of Nazi gold that's also guarded by a robot. Nick Spencer's Ant-Man runs into a robot just like this a year or two later, and I recently re-read that for a (Patreon exclusive) guest appearance on the Superhero Cinephiles podcast, so the suspension of disbelief is still going strong here. Plus, this was around the time of the Webb/Garfield movies that were all about Peter's parents, so that probably helped some readers at the time. Now, I'm not so sure. I also wonder if this book has much of a legacy outside of the art and Wilson Fisk's iconic look? 

Wilson Fisk
Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk | Copyright 2021 Marvel Studios

The closest comparison I can make to Dell'Otto and Dell'Edera's work is Alex Ross because of how it's painted. A quick comparison can be made with the Ross art in my Uncle Sam review, but a better one can be made by looking at his work in Marvels and Kingdom Come. Where Ross excels is scope and detailing, but, as far as I know, work like this in comics is still incredibly hard to come by outside of covers, and any instance of it should be celebrated. Personally, a character like Teresa should be, too. She's definitely not well-known.

I wish she was. Peter having that connection felt really heart-warming, as unexplored as it felt at times, but I couldn't find too much on the character after that, but if I'm missing something please correct me. As far as Family Business goes, Fisk and the robot are stopped, the day is saved, and there doesn't seem to be any major lasting impacts to the story. Some of that is probably by design because of the self-contained thing, but something about a bombshell like this just defusing, one that could've opened up the world of a character, doesn't feel right. This isn't even where Cindy Moon (Silk) was being kept, which is where I thought the story was going, but that just goes to show what casual reading gets you sometimes. Anyway, someone on Reddit said that the Webb/Garfield movies created the perfect universe to introduce and adapt her story, and they're right, but the MCU wouldn't be a bad fit either.

For those who've seen No Way Home or ready my review, they know that that Peter could use literally anybody in his life just popping up right now, and while writing around Doctor Strange's magic to make this happen logically would be quite difficult, it could be incredibly rewarding for Peter, his sister, and the fans who feel especially close to them.

3.75/5

Update: It looks like Chip Zdarsky featured her a few years later in his Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man run.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Prometheus Poster | Knocked Up Style

This poster may be one of the worst, and potentially most offensive, creative ideas I've ever had. Some stupid part of me hopes it sparks better work that can break through to people who still don't realize how necessary abortion rights are, and how scary the country is about to be for people who can get pregnant. That's why it's hopefully worth sharing.

For context on the mashup, if you don't know, please read "Is ‘Prometheus’ a Feminist Pro-Choice Metaphor?" by Megan Kearns.

Please donate to your local, or non-local, abortion fund. A list of funds is available here, and it's suggested that you do a search to quick make sure that sites and lists like this are up to date.

Prometheus Knocked Up Poster
Prometheus (2012) is a great movie, by the way
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Monday, May 23, 2022

Doctor Strange (2016) | Fan Made Poster, Co-Created By CGFlow and Other Artists

I was re-binging the MCU recently and remembered how one of the last director commentary tracks I heard was from Doctor Strange. Something about Scott Derrickson's early emphasis on Stephen's watches, in the movie and in the track, stuck out. This was along with the great imagery throughout the film. So a very loose idea for a movie poster came about. The idea was to focus on the symbols that make up the sorcerer more than the sorcerer himself. It seemed interesting because it should've been something done by the actual marketing department, but it wasn't. That also seemed like something worth bringing up, but first, the poster and what went into making it.

Doctor Strange Poster

The poster was co-created by CGFlow, and a breakdown of everything is right below here. Please consider supporting these awesome artists. This would not be possible without any of them.

The watch is by Vladimir Kunyansky, and the magic circles are by OgyaJanitra
The sling ring is by RadLadFrench and 3DTechDesign. I used some elements of each for one ring.
The hands and wraps were custom-made by CGFlow.
Titles are from Fanart.tv, just like my Vudu video.

Sad to say I really was just the idea guy on this one, and these creators, especially CGFlow, deserve the the credit for the poster. I just put all the pieces together once they were made or found. Again, please check out everyone's work and consider asking them for a commission.

People have really taken notice of movie posters lately, but it's been in an unexpected way. Lazy poster design is being called out across the industry, especially when it comes to franchise films. We're seeing the same color scheme, and we're seeing stars' faces arbitrarily filling the page. It gets the job done at a basic level, and maybe celebrities are causing the second problem and making it part of their contract for exposure, but ad campaigns at this scale need to vary. The movies have roughly two hours to cater to everyone. The posters have a few seconds.

X-Men PosterStar Wars PosterAladdin Poster
Someone made a meme putting these three together, with the caption "I've Watched This [Disney] Trilogy 5 Times And I Still Have No Clue What's Going On."

This may be shifting to a new design all studios are adopting. So, that's a small win and loss. 

Teaser and concept posters can bring in the tiny piece of the movie-going population who doesn't know what a great guy Paul Rudd is, and luckily Marvel sometimes recognizes that.

Ant-Man Poster


It's also a great way to test if a movie, or some part of it like a character's look, will work or not. It can be done before production is far along and a lot of money is spent. And, most importantly, with open-source software like, as mentioned, Gimp ("free Photoshop") and Blender 3D, fans can put their own spin on these kinds of posters too. I was surprised some version of this Doctor Strange poster wasn't done already, so you'd be surprised what's not out there yet and waiting to be created. 

Update: I whipped up a quick variant cover version with a hospital by jdva3d

hospital
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Friday, April 1, 2022

Morbius (2022) | Short Review

In Morbius, via IMDb, "Biochemist Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead." And then his friend, played by Matt Smith, infects himself and Morbius has to kill him. That's about it, but the director, Daniel Espinosa, (Life) and writers, Matt Sazama & Burn Shapless, do what they can to fill up the 104 minute runtime.

The writing is some of the worst out there for a comic book movie, as the script doesn't just lack style and substance, but it lacks anything close to its own identity. On top of that, there's borrowing and stealing ideas from other projects, or filling pages with clichés, but it really feels like less than that, although the clichés are there. One of the lines in the trailer is about how Michael feels better than he's ever felt in his life after the experiment, but it has its drawbacks, too. 

If it's not something like that, Michael is just pushed along by the plot and barely able to make a decision. I'm not a writing expert, but I think plot-driven stories need to rely more on well-developed characters to keep us engaged, unless the plot mechanics are really interesting and out there. However, if I'm wrong or missing something about how that works, please let me know.

The action is okay, and the creature effects look really solid. The climatic fight scene gets a little tough to follow because of how fast the characters can move and teleport, but other than that...it's fine. Motion-capture was used to shift the leads in and out of their vampire forms, and the designs of their faces are nearly the only highlight of the movie.

The movie would be better if Michael was doing the "Lethal Protector" thing like Venom | Copyright 2022 Sony and Marvel

The other highlight would be Matt Smith. He is really good, and he channels Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask in his performance. It is the ounce of character in the entire movie, and I love my “woo” boys! It's worth nothing that Adria Arjona plays Doctor Martine Bancroft, one of Michael's friends and co-workers. She shaped her role after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and that is awesome. Arjona is doing the best she can with what she's given, but Martine is pushed along in that same way as Michael. If this somehow leads to her playing AOC one day, or more people like her with more to do, that's excellent. Until then, Morbius gets graded on what it is, not what it promises. 

Speaking of which, post-credits and MCU-wise, it's difficult to even tell what it's promising. Those scenes did not balance out the cost of admission on this one, but they rarely do on Sony's solo Spider-Man movies. Remember that time there was an X-Men trailer instead because of a trade with Fox?

With Morbius, the studio was on cookie-cutter auto-pilot, and that’s somehow way worse than them mandating senseless shit. They rushed the skeleton of a script out and dared to call it a movie. We jump on Sony for throwing out ideas like an Aunt May or Silver Sable movie, but that really could be something. I mean the headline alone is out there, and a movie about one of comic's most beloved moms opens a couple of doors. Ignoring that the idea was for an espionage story, I'm seeing a drama that shares the same perspective of Kurt Busiek's & Alex Ross's Marvels. It's superheroes from the perspective of the people again, which, outside of Disney+ shows and DC, hasn't really been deeply explored since the early days of the MCU. If Sony and Marvel are going to maintain a contentious relationship, they should at least try to one-up each other. Right now, it's up to upcoming Kraven the Hunter to rise to the challenge.

2/5

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Sunday, March 6, 2022

The Batman (2022) | Spoiler-Free

The Batman is directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes). It is written by Reeves and Peter Craig (The Town), as they stitch together dozens of Bat-sources and incarnations. Non-Bat-sources, as everyone has noted the influences of movies like Seven and Zodiac, play a large part, too. However, this isn't a patchwork, but a deep, warm, red tapestry of a movie. It stars, among others, Robert Pattinson (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Zoë Kravitz (Catwoman/Selina Kyle), Paul Dano (Riddler), Jeffrey Wright (James Gordon), John Tuturro (Carmine Falcone), Andy Serkis (Alfred Pennyworth), Colin Farrell (Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot), and Jayme Lawson (Bella Reál, Gotham's mayoral candidate). The plot is that after two years of developing The Batman, the changing tide in crime isn't what Bruce expected. There's still deep-rooted corruption, but now there's an escalation and assassinations of high-ranking people in Gotham carried out by the mysterious Riddler. It's up to Batman and Gordon to try to get a step ahead of him and his puzzles.

So, let's start at the top with those sources. For the most part, everything with Batman has probably been done in some way, shape, or form. It's all about what hasn't been done in a live-action film yet, and which combinations of elements either haven't been tried before or work best. The notable source that's not a spoiler is the action, and some set design, being inspired by the Arkham games. Snyder and Affleck were too when it came to action, but they're still fairly different takes. Reeves and Pattinson are less gadget-reliant, as this version of the character is still experimenting with what utilities work best. He's also using armor that doesn't sacrifice speed and flexibility, but that's actually much more for Reeves and his crew than it is for the character. 

According to Cinema Blend, "Pattinson was working with eighth degree red and black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu intstructor Rigan Machado ahead of The Batman." Fights are primarily hand-to-hand and rely little on editing. Any tiny cuts or breaks in the action are thanks to the darkness Batman operates in. That's until the firing of a gun or a bullet sparking off his single, removable batarang chest plate reveal a little more. Really, the movie's cinematographer, Greg Fraser (Dune), and the people responsible for lighting and color grading deserve special recognition for shrouding everything away from the light while still keeping it visually comprehensible and beautiful. In all honesty, I have no clue how they made that work, especially after I criticized No Way Home for their night-time scenes. Anyone who can further explain it, please chime in. The best I can come up with, and it's an oversimplification, is that less cgi was involved. 

 

The Batman Returns Poster
I used their own artwork to update the 1992 Batman Returns poster | Copyright 2022 Warner Media

Onto the actors! To come right out with it, I need to see another movie with Pattinson before I can give him a fair ranking against most other Batmen. I think I wanted to see the looser, party-boy Bruce Wayne, even though it's a good thing we didn't get it, just for a fuller picture of his performance. Still, his Year One style narration that opens and closes the movie is fantastic. Ben McKenzie had that in the animated Year One movie, but it was overly stiff. This is closer to Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach in Snyder's Watchmen, in tone, but it doesn't go overboard in over-the-top despair. It's the fine line that The Batman, luckily, comfortably walks. 

Zoë Kravitz, on the other hand, makes a great Selina and Catwoman, and it only took this movie for her to solidify that. Selina is more drawn from her sources than ever before, so Kravitz is given a lot to work with. Selina's frustration with the city radiates in ways that Bruce's can't, as she quickly sizes him up, behind the mask, as some kind of trust-fund kid. Blunt political, and racial, talking points of Joker (2019) are quickly handled much better through her, Riddler's plans, and Lawson's role as an AOC-like figure. And I very, very much appreciate that, and I'd add more if spoilers weren't at risk. Anyway, those sources include an interesting connection to mob boss Carmine Falcone, and I've never seen a stronger performance from John Tuturro. I've seen funnier and more out there, but I've never seen a show of real strength and power from the man. He and Kravitz are both inspired casting choices. 

Someone named Morris said "Jeffrey Wright is the best Jim Gordon and it's not even close." Again, I can't go that far without another movie, but we both agree on one thing, "they both go on the streets and both figure shit out." Especially for a first movie in a new set, is a slightly more hands-on Gordon than Nolan's and Gary Oldman's. It's a big benefit of that two-year head start. They're casual with each other, unless it appears one may have crossed the line. A close comparison is probably the Gordon and Batman of the 90s cartoon or The Dark Knight Returns. 

While it's still odd that Penguin isn't played by Richard Kind, since that's how Farrell looks under prosthetics, the only real problem with Oswald is we didn't get enough of him. Still, him only as a mid-tier thug is refreshing, especially for fans of the Arkham games, and it's probably the only time we'll see him with much of a funny bone that doesn't rely on breaking them. His interrogation by Batman and Gordon is a comedic highlight, as he mocks their inability to remember some basic Spanish in one of Riddler's clues. In returns, he's left of waddle in handcuffs until he gets picked up. It seems, the next time we see him, it'll be in an HBO Max show tracking his rise to power. Expect a lot of cruelty from him in it, and be ready to savor it. 

Finally, Paul Dano was absolutely pitch-perfect as Riddler. The character may be excruciating to hear to some, as he whines and pleads for attention and validation, but that is how small men like him should appear. When in control, Dano is menacing. One of his great strengths as an actor is an unassuming nature. That's been shown at least a few times over with Swiss Army Man, Prisoners, and There Will Be Blood. Pairing that with this character, he's able to twist reason and the symbol of Batman to suit his own needs, and gravitate people toward whatever side of reason that is. The movie comes together because of this. 

To start to close things out, I'll say that Reeves, Craig, and Pattinson have expertly created another "Brooding Bruce." To balance that out, they crafted a story and city where "it'll get worse before it gets better." A Gotham that never quite hits rock-bottom, although it gets close, is a great opening. A Bruce and Selina who share a kiss and haven't either is, too. Batman has hope. You can see it, and so much more in Pattinson's eyes behind the mask. And so does The Batman, and something like that has been missing from his stories for a while. Maybe because hope's usually more of a Superman thing?


Man of Steel

4/5


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Saturday, December 18, 2021

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) | Spoiler Review

Seriously, spoilers. Also, thank you to my friends Louis and Matt for previewing this review. Please check out Matt's podcast, Saturday Morning Confidential, which takes a deep dive into nostalgic properties. 

In Spider-Man: No Way Home, villains from other universes get sucked into the MCU, after Peter Parker (Tom Holland) enlists the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to re-conceal his identity as Spider-Man and the spell goes wrong. The movie also stars, among others who'll be discussed, Zendaya (MJ), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds, "Guy in the Chair"), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May), Jamie Foxx (Electro), and Alfred Molina (Doc Ock). Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, and Jon Watts, return from Far From Home to, respectively, write and direct. 

Jon Watts also directed Homecoming, and he's proven himself to juggle the demands of bigger and bigger blockbusters...to a point. He, and Sony and Marvel execs, didn't deliver a perfect movie, but this could've gone wrong a hundred different ways. It just went wrong a few ways. So, while the majority of fans are praising this movie from the top of the Chrysler or Empire State Building, known hangout spots of Spider-Men, let's address the issues now. They're the action and some of the villains. 

With the exception of Into The Spider-Verse action in Spider-Man movies still has not been topped by the train scene way back in Spider-Man 2. Up until now, I used to think the sole reason why is that Sam Raimi and his crew thought of every possible maneuver Maguire's Spider-Man, or any Spider-Man, and Doc Ock could throw at each other at any given moment and left nothing on the table. That's all you need if your fight scene is staying on the page, but No Way Home made me realize that how every possible maneuver was staged and shot truly is what it's all about. It's not about visual effects, although that's a huge factor, it's filmmaking 101. Rather, it's advanced visual filmmaking, something that people have said that Marvel Studios brushes aside to instead focus on things like the characters, story, and humor of the universe. There's evidence to support these claims. If you don't want to watch that video because it's a bit illusion shattering, I can simplify things a little. 

Action movies need to stop setting their action scenes at nighttime, and producers and directors need to add more color to their movies, like these people did for them. This isn't always a problem, like in Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, but it's a weakness in the visuals that leads to seeing different kinds of weaknesses in the visuals. Some parts of Thor Ragnarok, at least to me,  look they were quickly shot from just one angle on a soundstage. The environments of those particular scenes were stylized, but it's still a problem. Suddenly, it's done during a living room scene, and something just feels off. It becomes a repeated problem until it's not seen as a problem anymore. It may be seen as lacking, but accepted. Other people can go more in-depth when it comes to these production issues and the practical reasons why they happen, so let's go back to No Way Home as the main example. 

Title Poster
Title Poster, for when your thumbnail can't contain spoilers, even when the review does | Copyright 2021 Sony and Marvel Studios

The action in this movie has the most weight when it's stripped down and raw. Yes, that's appropriate, but those fun scenes should have something like that weight too. Holland's web swinging finally does, when it's shown in the daylight, but his webbing people up, less so. Luckily, he starts throwing punches, hard punches, a lot of them, and for a heartbreaking reason. 

The Green Goblin, aka Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), kills this universe's Aunt May during a battle with Spider-Man, and Spider-Man nearly responds in kind. It feels brutal, as an onslaught of pain is brought upon Goblin. They begin out of fear of what Norman may do, and then they come from vengeance. Those punches are coupled with a great performance from Holland. He's never been better in this role, as Peter is put through the trials of what people are basically calling his official origin movie. His quieter moments are played more understated than ever, as this version of the character has faced, arguably, more loss and has become more beaten down by life than his two counterparts. But one of the character's greatest strength, across universes, is helping others find their strength and resolve. So, let's talk about more bad guys. 

So, the returning roster of big baddies also includes Thomas Hayden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman and Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors/The Lizard. At least, I think it was them. Sandman is all sand until the very end of the movie, and similar can be said about The Lizard. I wasn't completely certain it was Ifans voice. Maybe they weren't interested in returning fully, maybe there were scheduling issues, or maybe it was because of Covid.  Whatever the case, all understandable, it's noticeably felt. Flint Marko's deal basically is that he just steals to live, he's not homicidal or anything like that, and he wants to go back to see his kid. He's sensible. This movie's deal is that Peter is trying to save and cure the villains because everyone deserves a second chance. Of course, not all of them are going to be okay with that, but Sandman should be. They set it up in a way where he doesn't really trust the people trying to help him, but again, he should be more sensible than how he's presented. And Lizard, stuck in his transformed state, just doesn't think straight. It's...fine. Maybe it's better than spreading everyone out and too thin, which these movies always risk doing. Plus Church and Ifans got full enough characters the first time around. Jamie Foxx's Electro, on the other hand, didn't. 

As a refresher, he was just stereotypical nerd, and a Spider-Man fanboy, then he feels slighted by the wall-crawler after a misunderstanding. He's not given a full story arc or anything like that, but Electro's desire to been seen and have power is carried over well from his previous movie. With an arc reactor, he has that chance. Quick sidebar, we all thought we weren't going to hear that sound again, didn't we? Anyway, it helps immensely that Foxx doesn't have to act under as much makeup this time. He must've been promised the chance to really have fun with the role, and he took them up on it. Andrew Garfield definitely did that, and so did J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. We should touch on J.J for a second, before discussing my favorite actor. Not my favorite actor in this movie, my favorite actor period. 

I really wish they didn't go the Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist route with the character. This isn't Raimi's Jonah, but it still feels like character assassination. He can serve the same purpose in this story by just having Spider-Man be his one blindspot when it comes to behaving like a real journalist. Simmons has no issue with the new approach, though, and he gleefully hocks Bugle-branded supplements on the air. 

So, I checked what people were saying after the movie, and people did note how it addresses where Garfield's movies fall short. What I picked up on in the theatre was Maguire giving him some much needed encouragement when they're sharing stories. Acting as Uncle Ben like as we wished:

Garfield: "I'm lame compared to- I fought a Russian guy in like a rhinoceros machine."
Maguire: "Can we rewind it back to the I'm lame part? You are not."
Garfield (Kinda Jittery): "Thanks. No, yeah, I appreciate it. I'm not saying 'I'm lame'
And Maguire says that he should may need to work on how sees and talks about himself, and he adds, "You are amazing. Just take it in for a minute, you are amazing," and you need to say that about yourself.
Garfield: "I kinda needed to hear that."

People today still say that this version of the character looks too cool and handsome, and some still harp on the skateboard. That stuff doesn't mean much if your self-confidence is low and you see something else in the mirror. Fucking trust me on that. It's a reading to far into things, but it's fitting that his mask in the second movie is attached to the front of his costume in a way that he can very quickly hide his face. Most blow past the fact that Gwen asks him out, and that's one of the scenes that always stuck with me because it's one of the reasons he became "my Spider-Man." The exchange reminded me of this post I made a few years ago.

Reddit Screenshot

This reunion for the fans isn't solely built on the references and memes that we've been making and awaiting. It's built on something real and necessary. We get an idea of what an Amazing Spider-Man 3 could've been after fighting Rhino. It's a Peter who struggles to keep going after Gwen's death and puts anger back into his vigilantism, the same way it began for him. It's something we may not have wanted to see. We get a good look at how Maguire would appear in a followup to the Holy Trilogy, too. I'm happy to report he's doing okay. Other have noticed he has serious Peter B. Parker energy from Spider-Verse, as he should. Also, this reunion for the fans is built up to, with the movie having a pretty strong opening that for the most part doesn't rely on the team-ups. 

Peter, MJ, and Ned are finally a proper trio, after the first two movies kinda had to slowly bring MJ into the fold. The best and easiest comparison to make is the Harry Potter trio. It's not in the character-types but in the actors' chemistry. Adding an annoyed Doctor Strange to the mix has its moments too. His title still being butchered to "Wizard" is a throwaway joke that never gets old. 

The movie's close is equally strong. With May's death and Doctor Strange's original spell needing to go through, this version of Peter is back to a square one we've never quite seen before. Everyone knows Spider-Man, but no one knows Mr. Parker. Iron Man Jr. is no more, and we find ourselves in a one-room apartment (sorry, Mr. Ditkovich cameo) with a, seemingly, beautiful fabric suit. We don't get the best look at it, like the film's action, and hopefully some official pictures are shown after a couple weeks.

Marvel Studios and Feige are still involved in these movies, but if shit goes south between Sony and Marvel, they set it up right. They set it up so that while we may sacrifice some characters we know and love, we may get well-lit battles back. It's a fair trade-off brought after one of the highest highs a Spider-Fan can experience. That's what this movie was too, a fair trade-off. MCU style, for all of its pros and cons, with the interpretations Sony helped build, with all their pros and cons. 

3.75/5

Just under four is as objective as I'm willing to go. Praise the powers that be for doing right by many of these characters, these actors, and the fans, but don't just hand-wave issues either. Having said that, a big thank you to every person on this project who put together a real-world "Amazing Fantasy." You made us all truly happy.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

This review is mostly spoiler free, for people who are avoiding trailers.

Let's get the hard part out of the way immediately. In this movie, one of main characters, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) makes a new friend at her new school. Here's how that goes:

"I call myself Podcast, because of my podcast." That effectively is Logan Kim's character's name.

I was going to reference that old email hack/leak and say that Amy Pascal and the higher-ups at Sony Pictures haven't learned anything in at least nine years, but it turns out the skateboarding in The Amazing Spider-Man was actually Andrew Garfield's idea. (Give the man an Oscar this year, please.) Plus, the results are the same. Something inserted into the movie to stay trendy actually has some genuine meaning or payoff to it, and the actors and other filmmakers make those things work. Ghostbusters: Afterlife just has a lot of that. There's a conflict just in what the movie is that can be seen and felt. 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II. The 2016 reboot is now its own separate thing, and the same can probably be said for the 2009 video game that kinda-sorta was Ghostbusters III until now. So, with all that being said the basic plot of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, from IMDb, is "When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town [called Summerville, Oklahoma,] they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind." It stars Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Logan Kim, and Celeste O'Connor. Since it's a direct sequel, some legacy cast members may pop in. It's directed by Jason Reitman, written by him and Gil Kenan, and Ivan Reitman returns as a producer.

It's probably best to star with Finn Wolfhard because of the Stranger Things/It/80s vibes of his casting. The way this movie grapples with nostalgia is that it knows if it goes all-in people will, for the most part, pissed. So, it's incredibly selective what it brings back in a way where I couldn't tell when the movie took place. Except for a couple lines of dialogue and the timeline having to fit so that somebody could be a grandpa, this could take place in the 80s or 90s. Instead, Summerville is more like one of those tiny towns that time forgot. Like one John Oliver may cover in one of those invisible injustice kind of episodes. So, one of the featured locations is a car-hop diner, and how out of place it looks will vary from viewer to viewer. Wolfhard plays Grace's brother. He's not given as much to do as he probably should, but one of the first big legacy scenes comes from him, and it's pretty wonderful. Drifting in a field in the Ecto-1, with only a learner's permit, is something that dreams are made of. It's even more heartwarming when there's an Ecto-1 in your area that's occasionally in the movie theatre parking lot.

The other great thing from him is that his scenes with Celeste O'Connor give Summerville a lived-in quality that helps explain that clashing feeling in the town's look. You could easily become stuck there. Whether that's really for better or worse is not really addressed, so that leaves the question more open than most movies that bring up the idea. It's actually pretty fitting, since Reitman's movie Young Adult, reviewed here, really dives into that.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Mckenna Grace as Phoebe (Right), action hero, and Logan Kim as Podcast (Left), capable sidekick | Copyright 2021 Sony Pictures

Mckenna Grace and Carrie Coon's first experiences in Summerville are on the more mysterious side of things, and they both work really well off of each other and Paul Rudd. 

A lot of the emotional moments of Afterlife come from Grace and Coon learning more about the upbringing they never really had and coping with it. Reitman could, in a lot of successful ways, push this heavily, but instead it's done just enough so that the momentum of the plot, for the most part, doesn't suffer. The movie's editing is a bit choppy in this way, as one discovery is interrupted with a check-in with Wolfhard back at the diner, and it seems like something that could've been left out. It's meant to build up his relationship with Celeste O'Connor, but I think better scenes later on end up doing that anyway.

Finally, there's the humor, effects, and action. Jokes largely do land, and I laughed out loud a few times in the theatre. Most of the time, this was because of Rudd or some visual gag with a ghost, but everyone delivers in some respect. 

A personal favorite, is when one of the kids says they can't even get any bars on their phone, Coon says there better be at least one. This one, luckily, is the only one ruined by Grace pointing out that it's a joke. Just to be clear, both give great performances, and Mckenna Grace is especially phenomenal. If you haven't seen her in Gifted, go check it out. She and Logan Kim are given what could've been two of the easiest roles to forget, if this was bad Ghostbusters movie, but she's given a lot of time to develop Phoebe, and Podcast has a real charm to him.

Jokes are actually a big part of Grace's character, as she's told to use them to break the ice in Summerville, but it could've been handled better. She does some pretty standard stuff out of a joke book, and I wonder if something really funny, but also really weird or awkward, and science-based could've been done instead. What we get is somewhere between wasted opportunities and eye-rolling moments. Early on, I was afraid there'd be more of them and that they wouldn't go anywhere...not that they leave a huge impact in the end. 

In a huge surprise, to someone who follows this stuff, Sony Imageworks didn't do any of the special effects for Afterlife. Companies listed are Double Negative, Instinctual VFX, Moving Picture Company, and Proof. They all did a gorgeous job, especially considering that they had to, among other tasks, update our beloved Mr. Stay-Puft. 

The major action set piece is a chase to capture a Slimer-like ghost. Tailing him in Ecto-1, while using an RC-Car/Trap, it's a good to modernize things. It's not too much, and it fits the established world. 

Having said that, I would like to say that the 2016 reboot had a lot of fun with their gadgets, the Ghostbuster's logo actually being a ghost for a minute was a delightful surprise. That second one is what told me it was more than a cash-grab, at least to some people involved. There was a lot more stuff like that, this time around.

Along with the lived-in world, little character moments, and surprises all its own, there's one I'd like to point out. After the heroes claim their victory, all the ghost are captured, and everything settles down, Podcast meets the sole subscriber of his show. This guy, an occultist himself, on-screen and off, is a big fan of Podcast's podcast, Mystical Tales of the Unknown Universe (MT-double-U).

To find out who this occultist is, if you're staying away from trailers and spoilers, go see for yourself. You'll have a good time, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife may even hit you in the heart a little.

3/5

Also, my area has a Ghostbusters-centered non-profit. Hudson Valley Ghostbusters raises money for a variety of charities that they partner with, while appearing in costume at local events. They have their own Ecto-1 that I've occasionally seen in the area. I think we also have a local Mystery Machine, but I have no clue what that's about.
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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Iron Man (2008) | Guest Appearing on the Media Buffet Podcast

Update: All podcasts are also collected in a Spotify playlist here.

Videos and reviews have been a little slow lately because of work, and a lot of what I've been doing with the site has involved improving the design of the place with my web designer. So, to try to get back into the swing of things, I'm seeking podcasts to guest on through Reddit

I, and Joe Meyer of The Neutral Ground Podcast, had the pleasure of appearing on Media Buffet. We talked about Iron Man and the many behemoths it kicked off, inside and outside Marvel. We had a really great time talking about the movie, discussing how well it holds up, and Tony Stark's main trilogy of films. With Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings coming out soon, this was a perfectly timed release. 

Media Buffet, and the episode, can be found here, and there's direct links to Spotify and Apple below.


For people interested in working with these guys, I can give you their information. Also, they're serious about their title, as that buffet includes The Olympics, gaming, anime, and more.




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Monday, March 8, 2021

Lava (2021)

In Lava, "Deborah, a lonely tattoo artist, endeavors to save herself and her town from an alien invasion. The aliens come in the form of large cats, cackling witches, and never-ending snakes; what's more, these dangerous invaders have harnessed the media as a means to hypnotize humanity into submission. Deborah must learn to resist their control and convince others to do the same" (Rock Salt Releasing). The movie is directed by Ayar Blasco, it is co-written by Ayar Blasco and Nicolas Britos, and it stars, among others, Janeane Garofalo and Cedric Williams. It is based on a comic by Salvador Sanz.

So, I had to dig a little into Lava to review it, which is something I try not to do. It's just one of those ones where it's hard to pull much out of it apart from the art style. So, let's start there. It's a very flat and simple style. The animation can be a little stiff, but movement is far from lifeless. Little touches, like the secondary motion of hair moving/reacting, give the feeling that as much care as possible was put into the animation and world, it just had to be allocated as best as possible. I really appreciated how this shined through in the background environments, and a few other places. A full-body blush of embarrassment isn't something you see in cartoons these days, so it's sweet to see something like that brought into contemporary adult animation. Along with some funny logos and titles, like Gain of Clones, that reminded me of the comic Sex Criminals, there were also WinRAR and VLC logos on a character's computer. The people who made this movie know and live the culture they are talking about, Generation X-ish geeks/nerds who are in their 20s-30s. Overall, they're very-well portrayed, but that really just comes out when the when the movie occasionally picks up steam. We'll get to that in a minute. 

Lava makes me less scared to get a tattoo, and that's an accomplishment. The sound design is a big part of that, and just shows that a lot of thought went into crafting a lot of what's on-screen, although the "why" of everything is something we'll get to.

Lava

Lucy Daughter of the Devil
The art style that Lava (Above) reminds me of is Lucy, Daughter of the Devil's (Below) | Above is Property of Warner Media. Below is Property of Rock Salt Releasing.

The look also is similar to a lot of classic flash videos. Where Lava falls short of even them though is in the lip syncing, but that's probably because it was re-dubbed in English. It just looks a little too exaggerated when lines don't match up, but that also positively lends itself to the ridiculous feel of the film.

At under 75 minutes, this should feel like a quick watch, but it wasn't. Lava, unfortunately, flows about as slowly as the real thing typically does. There seems to be two big problems with Lava. First, character interactions and relationships rarely have a lot of weight to them. Second, the film's editing is incredibly dry and static. The best scene in the movie is one where all cards are on the table and we know where Deborah (Garofalo), her roommate Nadia, and Samuel, who's into Deborah, are in relation to each other, as far as who is/isn't interested in whom. I think it stood out because it was more drawn out than most of the quick chats in the movie. It leads to something great later in the movie, where Deborah and Nadia's relationship grows. The movie has a solid LGTB+ moment, but how people react to them explicitly highlighting the moment may annoy some people. Lava's editing in between sequences is to cut to black and just stop for a second. Once or twice music bridged the gap, but it just felt so lacking that it had to be brought up. That's, apparently, a very tricky cut to pull off right. Luckily, there are some things about the movie that are nailed incredibly.

With that solid grasp of, as mentioned, "Generation X-ish geeks/nerds who are in their 20s-30s" comes a solid grasp of the crap they put up with. The takes some solid jabs at the business side of the entertainment industry, and it's through more than a tattoo of Mickey Deborah does for a client. Employee burnout is shown and how various types of studios and production studios can wreck someone's creativity is shown too. Knowing when to walk away from that kind of environment is a rough analogy, or metaphor(?),  that can be pulled out of Lava, but it's rough because it's also walking away from a probable apocalypse. It doesn't work when trying to apply the message to something like current politics, but the relatively small-scale of Lava doesn't make that a lasting issue. All-in-all, it's incredibly rough, but with it's choice moments. For every silent cut to black, there's an interesting tattoo scene or blink-or-you'll-miss-it reference. 

3.25/5


It's certainly not for everyone, but people who love this style, or at least grew up around it, will find something to enjoy. That's actually a similar conclusion I arrived to with a movie called Unicorn Store, but its feel was more 2000s to mid 2010s quirky/indie. Just wanted to throw that comparion out there because the return to 
simplicity, in any and all aspects right now, is a welcome one. It's a knock against the Lava to say try to view it in chunks, but it may warm a few extra people up to it. And try the comic, too. I haven't yet, but this really feels like it plays a lot better as a book. 

A screener of this movie was provided to me by TriCoast and Rock Salt Releasing. Original reports of Rock Salt picking up the movie come from Variety. I was not compensated for this review. 

Lava Promo Poster
Promotional Poster | Property of Rock Salt Releasing 
Rock Salt Releasing will release Lava onto various digital streaming platforms for pre-sale on 2/22 and on 3/15/2021 (Amazon, InDemand, iTunes, Google Play, DirecTV, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, FANDANGO) in both English & Spanish.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Iron Man 3 | Mambo No 5 TV Spot (Fan Made)


Original start to this post: Similar to re-doing Hitman: Agent 47, this is just a bit of fun editing practice.  I'm not going to go into how the Mandarin was handled because it's been done to death, from both viewpoints. What I can say now, that I couldn't in my initial review, is that Kingsley's accent did seem slightly off in that first trailer. Clearly, it was intentional, and his performance was excellent from every angle. 

And the tone, post-Avengers, is perfect and drew us in, but I wanted to try something more in-line with the director. Shane Black's movies are silly, and he reminds me of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, so that's definitely something to play with. 

Another great trailer without the big ticket villain is by Split Second Media. It's in the style of Logan, and that is super fitting.

New start: The FanTrailer subreddit had a Spot Contest in February. Hearing Mambo No. 5 in Iron Man 3 created a backup plan. It became the best option because the movie isn't as comedy heavy as Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp (reviewed here), and Thor Ragnarok. A solid fifteen seconds of jokes, and plot without mentioning Mandarin, was either non-existent, or I would've had to really squeeze material out of the movie. 

So, I went humorless and plotless. The first idea was to do Tony getting into a new suit with each name, but there was a surprising lack of moments like that. So, lone suits being used and incorporating Tony's friend's into the Iron Legion became the way to go. Tony himself kinda bookends things. Hopefully, it runs smooth moment-to-moment.

My family and a few friends looked this one over for me. Also Drw.17, Onomatopoeic Pictures, and  Joshnitt, all from the community (on Reddit and Discord), helped out tremendously, too. They suggested, among a couple other things,  ducking the music volume as needed to bring out the sound effects more, adding studio logos to the beginning, and adding extra dialogue, to break things up a little toward the end. 

Additionally, I'd like to give a special shoutout to Ntenis Kapanidis. He was very hands-on with assisting me. He gave me tips on spot making in general, and he recently found and shared a podcast all about teasers and trailers. It's called Trailer Geeks and Teaser Gods, it appears to be on all major podcast platforms, and I look forward to listening to it.

As always, please check out the community, and if anything you see sparks an idea, run with it and put together your own videos. Tons of free resources are available, like Blender 3D's video editor, GIMP (free Photoshop), and other tools you may need. 

It's not the most complex edit, but just getting back into the MCU and watching Robert Downey Jr. work his magic were just wonderful by themselves. Speaking of getting back into it, WandaVision is pitch-perfect. And I'm proud to say that J.A.R.V.I.S is in this spot!

This video, and others are collected, on-site, here.

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Harley Quinn: Season 2 (2020)

One complaint I had about the first season of Harley Quinn is that "some episode endings seemed a little rushed so that they could save pieces of an arc for the rest of the season." With the show established that's no longer an issue, and it's able to go into the second season expanding on what it does best. Story arcs are written tighter, many characters from the year before are given additional depth, some new ones are given fantastic introductions, and the jokes just keep coming. Unfortunately, some characters feel sidelined at best, and at worst others are just painfully underwritten. The action and animation is still largely the same and feels like it's on the lower-end, but that's not a real problem. It's a mixed bag, if you dig through it too much, but odds are you're going to really like what you see. 

This season is cleanly divided into a couple neat stories. There's Harley (Kayley Cuoco) taking control of a divided Gotham, one villain-controlled territory at a time, and then there's the fallout from the volatile shifts in power. The first part is pretty clear roadmap to get people back into the swing of things, as each villain takedown gets an episode. Personally, I really needed this since binging shows can leave the details of the previous season a little fuzzy. A season recap, even as a bonus extra on the show page, would've been even better, but we're all just counting our blessings this year.

Harley Quinn Season 2 Promo Image
Harley's Progress (Season 2 Promo Image) | Copyright 2020 Warner Media

Old characters are fleshed out, new ones get proper intros, and the show is able to experiment even more with just about everyone. It's not everyday that Nora Fries (Rachel Dratch) is given the opportunity to have character outside of her husband (Alfred Molina), let alone...move or talk. In fact, the "additional story," in Arkham Knight may be the only other example. Other great examples include Christopher Meloni's Jim Gordon. As much as I loved him last season "flipping the Bat Signal on-and-off [for emotional support]," seeing him actually get some of that support through his daughter (Brianna Cuoco, Kayley's sister) was even better. He even cleans himself up, albeit too quickly, "in a montage where we skip past the hard parts of beating an alcohol addiction." Taking a little more time with Jim's journey would've been great, but still, it honestly was unexpected either way, since characters outside of the main ensemble are not treated seriously all that much in the first place. It may be growth from the creators, and it holds a lot of promise of things to come. I still believe this particular Gordon and Batman (Diedrich Bader) should have more time to shine, but Harley Quinn isn't the place for it. Some characters have a long way to go, in this regard. This version of Two Face (Andy Daly) is a serious letdown, thanks to shallow characterization in a mostly filler episode. 

This is my main black mark on the season. "All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues" is midway through the season, and it's about Harley's time in Arkham as a psychiatrist, and it does something I had a problem with in Solo: A Star Wars Story. "Some of these references unnecessarily setup the original trilogy, or foreshadow it in a way that's more like fortune-telling." And with characters many know very well already from other media, it just doesn't feel like it's doing anything really new with them. All these interpretations may have just backed the writers into a corner, and that's understandable, but in that case a less-is-more approach would've done the trick. Joker, who is very well-crafted by Alan Tudyk, asks "You wanna know how I got these emotional scars?" It'll make people either chuckle or groan, but at least it's just one line. This unscarred Harvey Dent constantly refers to the citizens of Gotham as voters, and it gets old quick. Making him one dimensional is one thing, but at least give him some kind of creativity to go along with it. It's like that acid also kicked the vocabulary section of his brain into action, too. On the bright side, Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) revealing why she thinks so little of humanity does a lot for her as a character and propels her, Harley, and the show to a fantastic rest of the season. 

The action and animation could still use a touchup, and that might've actually happened in the last couple episodes. Starting out though, there's just stupid little errors I noticed, like someone drinking something, but then the same amount is in the glass in the next shot. Toward the end though, there are some fun arena-type fights. The GCPD taking on Darkseid's (Michael Ironside) parademons, for this show, is a matchup made in heaven. The highlight, however, has to be Batman getting his own version of Tony Stark's Extremis armor, complete with his own J.A.R.V.I. S-like companion. First, it gives Alfred (Tom Hollander...so, so close) a much-needed break from Bruce's shenanigans. Second, it leads to a fight with Bane (James Adomian) and some thugs that includes flight and lightning punches, and those are always great things. Still, even if that flash was throughout the season, it wouldn't compete with the show's humor. 

Harley and Ivy looking like regular people
Remember, they both had to put a ton of makeup on to achieve this look. It's a great detail | Copyright 2020 Warner Media

For last season, I said "the jokes had a certain South Park quality to them, and that's not just due to the MA rating of the series. It's in the little things, too." That actually might just be strong sitcom humor in general, since I ran across Josh Weinstein's study of Simpsons jokes, recently. Whatever the case, for me, that off-the-cuff clean humor feels like Harley's secret weapon. Stuff like Bane going for one of the open cushy office chairs, now that other villains are incapacitated, and then being shut down for "honorary purposes" and forced to sit on a crappy folding chair. Last time, I said it was just a good way to break up the more mature material. This time, with that joke sowing the seeds of Bane's rivalry with other villains, I'm calling it character-building. This quickly found its identity. With it knowing exactly what it is, and a confirmation of a third season, it feels like it can run straight ahead into what's next. There's just some tiny bumps along the way to smooth out. 

So, there's a lot that's not being covered in this review for plot reasons. Look forward to the shakeups that'll be explored further in the future.  Instead of that, and because the basic circumstances leading to this review. There's just a couple little things to add as a wrap-up. This character, and her associates, was one of the major pieces of fiction I kept coming back to during this horrible fucking year. There's three other posts here (1, also linked above) (2) (3), plus a little something just two paragraphs down. Maybe it's because of the (almost) guaranteed humor, because Birds of Prey might've been the last thing I saw in an (indoor) theatre, or because that movie helped me grow as a hobbyist video editor? It could be a combo of these things, but whatever the case, she and her cronies helped a lot. Knowing that this review is how I may have wanted to cap off 2020 was something to hold onto through quarantine and recovering from fucking heart surgery (valve replacement in March). 

4/5

Similar to last time, HBO Max may still be doing some kind of free trial or starting discount to help promote Wonder Woman 1984. So if you can watch the season, and Zendaya's show Euphoria because I just want to throw that out there, without a major financial commitment, definitely go for it. Finally, there's one last thing. Doing a full write up on it is a little tough because I have trouble smoothly jumping back and forth between all these interpretations of the characters sometimes, and reconciling them with each other, but if you love the character in general, please check out the graphic novel Harleen by Stjepan Sejic. This is a version of Dr. Quinzel, emphasis on doctor, and the clown you've probably never seen before, and the slow burn approach to Harley's transformation builds upon the wonderful introduction from character creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. Hearing Harley in your head without the resonance of Cuoco, Strong, Sorkin, or Robbie may not sound "right," but I promise you the voice Sejic gives her is a long time in coming, and it doesn't take away from those wonderful portrayals in the slightest.

Harleen Graphic Novel
Harleen Cover | Copyright 2019-2020 Warner Media

And give Sejic's other work a shot too, but just keep in mind it's usually made with a mature audience in mind, and discretion is advised. 

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