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Comics Review: My Friend Dahmer (2012)

INTRODUCTION AND ORIGINS

My Friend Dahmer‘ is a graphic novel based on one of America’s notorious serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer. The book was written by John ‘Derf’ Backderf and published under Abrams ComicArts. As the name indicates, Derf had personally known Dahmer and through this book, he recollects and highlights some eye-openers about the old times spent at Eastview Junior High and Revere High School where they were classmates.

The writing of ‘My Friend Dahmer’ took a few rounds. Derf wrote this back in 1995. It was an 8-page comic strip that was published two years later in the 18th issue of the Zero Zero series of Fantagraphics books. Derf decided to rewrite it full-length and then self-published a 24-page comic. After the death of Dahmer, Derf had made extensive research through other classmates, journals, news, and interviews that stretched to twenty years. When Derf was prepared to shape his fact-finding and exploration into a book of around 200 pages, Abrams Books published it in 2012.

The book is not just a graphic novel but also Derf’s personal memoir and to some extent critically a psychological case study about Dahmer’s personal life. By reading it, it may look as if Dahmer is backed by the author and shows sympathy but Derf actually points out what were the causes that unfortunately misled Dahmer to the path where he never turned his back and looked behind once he walked away.


DAHMER IN DIFFERENT MEDIUMS

For those who have finished watching Dahmer on Netflix starring Evan Peters, reading this book is totally a different experience. The show was dramatized from Dahmer’s narrative and thus, focused on his crimes, his motives, and his victims. Whereas the book helps the readers understand Dahmer’s school life that Derf and other friends observed. The book covers a lot of incidents that reflect Dahmer’s isolation, loneliness, silence, disturbance, and difficulties.


ZERO HUMAN CONCERN

‘My Friend Dahmer’ abandons the hatred and the outcries over Dahmer’s horrific crimes and in very smart writing, the author successfully complains; where were people when Dahmer needed them? The people include his parents, Lionel and Joyce. Where were the adults who could have guided him instead of shutting him down?

Where was the decency when his classmates bullied him? Why none of his friends at school helped him? He was let down by everyone.

The book confirms and the author indirectly admits that he himself along with his friends made a joke out of him instead of helping him. Derf does admit that he wanted to help Dahmer but couldn’t.

In a way, it is kind of a double standard that Derf somehow blames others but he also belonged to the same kind who didn’t shoulder him.


SCARY BOOK?

The readers are believed to have considered their reading experience of ‘My Friend Dahmer’ to be haunting. Maybe my mental capacity is strong enough to not feel it haunting or scary but I think readers who are not hypersensitive or too soft can read this. Maybe, the reader gets disturbed over looking at the pictures of dead animals especially when Dahmer madly chops a tiny fish or when you look at a mutilated dog carcass. But I reason the book to be less haunting because the book doesn’t illustrate those horrific crimes that Dahmer committed after leaving the school. And my first understanding about the book was that picturing his crimes in broad detailing will be the case but not at all.


ILLUSTRATION

I will especially praise the artwork of the book. Pencilling the black and white drawings reminds me of good old mini comic strips of the old newspapers that used to start someone’s morning with a cup of coffee. With a kind of subject and a dark tone the story settles in, I think this was a perfect idea to keep the presentation this way.

Every picture showing Dahmer mimicking the slurred speech of someone with Cerebral Palsy was so accurately drawn giving the reader an impression that Derf closely observed Dahmer’s mimicking because he acted that way most of the time. It looked like an exaggeration, maybe Derf showed us this strange character of Dahmer that he had no other choice of humor to fun around with ‘friends’ but to stick with the only comical act he got recognition around.

But Derf deserves the praise for establishing a reading impact. After many pictures of that mimicry, the readers come to know that he was actually mimicking his own mother. It was a sad revelation when Dahmer’s mother permanently leaves the house and isolates him when Dahmer’s depression alarms.


A Social Guide to Understand the Cornered People

‘My Friend Dahmer’ is a valuable source of understanding a disturbing teenager. If a student, teacher, or principal of an educational institution reads this book, will surely consider backing or assisting such kids in their lives before they turn into Dahmer.

I will recommend reading ‘My Friend Dahmer’ which has around 270 pages because besides five parts, a preface, a prologue, and an epilogue, that book also contains extra detailing about the making of this book and an explanation about a few important pages and some bonus materials.


CLOSING REMARKS

One valid question that breaks after reading this non-fiction book is, who was responsible for making Dahmer a monster? It is not a mystery but a curiosity. He was not an orphan nor did he lack the necessities of life. He wasn’t poor or belonged to some lower-class background.

His father was a chemist and the family lived in some mid-century modern home standing at nearly 2200 square feet back in 1968.

After watching the Netflix show and then reading this book, I think Dahmer was a society-reject who was canceled by almost everyone for his being visibly odd or awkward. In most cases, people like to generally hang around with those who are jolly, funny, friendly, and very extroverted. And Dahmer carries none of the traits.

No one was interested to understand Dahmer’s problems, not even his own parents because they were busy arguing, abusing, blaming, and fighting with each other. No teacher considered being his psychologist. Backderf and other friends used his mimicking and earned some money. He was cornered by everyone and therefore, the human contact distancing from him broke him and ignited him. An anger that will have scary consequences and will bring fear to society. The madness that he committed is unexplainable but this is how the fever starts, the pain instills. His silence became cancer, he moved on to the path that would turn him into evil. People around him failed him.


READING SOURCE

You can read ‘My Friend Dahmer’ online from here. 

https://readcomiconline.li/Comic/My-Friend-Dahmer/Full?id=56176&readType=1


SUPPORTING VIDEO

This is quite an excellent book review. You can watch this video too. 


 

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion (2018)

Previously, I wrote comic book reviews about the first two volumes of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá‘s The Umbrella Academy, Apocalypse Suite and Dallas. The Netflix show with the same title that Steve Blackman ran and wrote had smart writing for any adaptation, complex but a method that suits the television audience and to a razor-edge point where the viewers can be convinced with.

The third season detailed the Sparrow Academy which was depicted by the end of the second season as a dramatic cliffhanger. It was more shocking for the comic geeks because the Sparrows are not really much introduced to comics. I happened to read the third volume, Hotel Oblivion, as the title gives me or every one the precise impression that the third season is based on this book which is true but not entirely. The Sparrows show up to the Umbrellas at the end of the book just like the show’s second season as mentioned above.

That makes Steve Blackman’s writing the show in a very different direction really cool. We buy what we watch and there surely is a behind-the-scene geekery-geekery-gock discussion about the fourth book proceedings to refer to on the television. When will the fourth book release, no idea but Steve Blackman’s idea about the show’s fourth season will now test him. Because so far he has done a really good job.

One major difference between television and comics is that Hotel Oblivion is a hotel in the former but a prison in the latter. A prison that is designed by who else than Sir Reginald Hargreeves himself for the most dangerous villains his babies have fought and defeated. There is no chance of escaping this prison unless they use a teleportation device, televator. But utilizing the televator will also not be enough because Scientific Man monitors Hotel Oblivion from space.

Scientific Man is The Umbrella Academy’s Doctor Manhattan with a better costume. While reading the fifth issue, surely his appearance to every reader like me was a surprise. He entered the scene like a messiah or a Superman. And I am not understanding why was this character not involved in the latest season. Or did he show up if I am mistaken?

The stories of both the television and the comics are extremely different. My whole enthusiasm to read Hotel Oblivion to broaden my understanding for the third season altered because, in the comics, the Umbrella Academy fights against the Murder Magician, a hypnotist, and Obscura, the jewel thief. Both of the villains manage to escape the Hotel Oblivion.

Speaking of the hotel, there is no mention of Hotel Obsidian in the comics. Hotel Oblivion is a one-dimensional prison built by Hargreeves to torture his villains. But the third season, I opine, edges over this idea in writing the third season. Steve Blackman introduced the concept of Hotel Obsidian, a hotel where Klaus used to get drunk more often. When the Sparrows show the Umbrellas the exit door, they take shelter in this hotel and later on discover the mysterious routes that take them to a bizarre version of Obsidian which is Hotel Oblivion.

Just like in previous books, Hotel Oblivion maintains dysfunctionality in the siblings. They are again scattered. Spaceboy is walking on the streets of Tokyo. Number Five is a hired assassin. Vanya again has a shorter appearance like Dallas and continues her physical therapy. But this time she is interesting to read when Vanya and her mother have a deep conversation in the fourth issue where the mother explains what makes her daughter so special.

Hotel Oblivion also deserves to be praised for developing the understanding of Hargreeves. A thought about Hargreeves creation to be a blessing also juxtaposes his vision on a broader scale whether he ended up being a villain after the revelation of his prison plan that happened after his death.

Just like the previous two books, the main issue covers and the introduction of the issue names had impressive drawings as well as some portions of the stories. Gabriel Bá’s illustration really reflects a darker image of the happenings. Notice his detailing in the fifth issue when all the villains march together. Or the nuclear reaction in the final issue. The comic-book partnership of Gerard and Gabriel is the key to The Umbrella Academy being an exciting brand to follow.

I think the third book was an offshoot to step into major parallels. The seven-chapter identity crisis story gave new meaning to thinking about renewing a universe. It was an interesting idea. Hotel Oblivion is completely different from the first two books, it is like waking up during a road trip to experience a totally new world.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion Issues 1-7 (2018-2019)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/

SUPPORTING VIDEO

I found this comic-book review about Hotel Oblivion very genuine. Watch and listen to them.

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas (2008)

Two time-traveling serial killers Hazel and Cha-Cha are on a quest for Number 5 (The Boy) whereas Number 5 lives fifty years in the future where he gets training by Shubunkin Goldfish (Carmichael) and later on an assignment to assassinate President Kennedy.

The Umbrella Academy was abstracted by the leading vocalist and co-founder of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way. In 2007, Way completed the writing and visual artwork of the first comic book limited series ‘Apocalypse Suite‘ with the cartoonist Gabriel Bá. Dark Horse Comics published the graphic novel and was first presented in the annual promotional event Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) the same year. The first issue was immediately sold out and indicated staunch interest amongst the readers. By next year, this graphic novel won Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

This storyline, Dallas, is second in line, which began to run its issues in 2008, exactly nine months after Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá concluded the first chapter, Apocalypse Suite. Just like the predecessor, Dallas also has six issues but the writing elements are darker and more complex than Apocalypse Suite. And it is the upgrade over the first chapter that the tag team of Gerard and Gabriel have improved the method of storytelling to the readers with a lot of potential bettered for Number’s character.

Kraken, who is Number 2, is also a welcoming signal who looks physically visible to lead the perplexed team. The readers may get disappointed by not finding much presence of Vanya in Dallas as compared to Apocalypse Suite. But I sense it was a risky move to continue the story without not much contribution from Vanya who lies on her bed after what she has been through in the first chapter. But there are moments in one of the issues to read where Rumor holds grudge against Vanya.

The fifth issue is mostly based on the Vietnam War and has impressive writing. In fact, the one parallel that bridges both the chapters is the marvelous take on the dysfunctionality of the lost children under the Umbrella Academy. The reader must have to keep his/her hours passed on the Netflix version aside because these two chapters were published almost ten years before what the global fanhood hooked up with on the television.

I must admit that the writers of the Netflix adaptation did some hard work in giving the idea of presenting the original work to the television in the rightest and most acceptable direction. The elements of both chapters are mixed to construct a plot that looks good enough to move on. I thought Hazel and Cha-Cha were created straight on television until I read Dallas. Because they didn’t appear in Apocalypse Suite.

I think Apocalypse Suite will be remembered more than its sequel because of the plotline that inspired the first season of the show. But writing-wise, Gerard-Gabriel have matured their storytelling in Dallas. Surely, an important read one cannot miss at all. The next in line is ‘Hotel Oblivion‘ which started to publish the issues in 2018.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas Issues 1-6 (2008-2009)

DOWNLOAD

https://torrentgalaxy.mx/torrent/111289/The-Umbrella-Academy–Collection—2006-2019-

SUPPORTING VIDEO

If you want to read/listen to the commentary about The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, I recommend you follow this link.

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (2007)

A space alien Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.k.a The Monocle, is a world-renowned scientist and a wealthy entrepreneur on earth. He adopts seven superpowered children who raise them as superheroes. They are called The Umbrella Academy. Years later, after failing a mission in Paris, they split. Twenty years later, they return after they receive the news of the death of their adopted father, The Monocle.

 

The Umbrella Academy was abstracted by the leading vocalist and co-founder of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way. In 2007, Way completed the writing and visual artwork of the first comic book limited series ‘Apocalypse Suite‘ with the cartoonist Gabriel Bá. Dark Horse Comics published the graphic novel and was first presented in the annual promotional event Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) the same year. The first issue was immediately sold out and indicated staunch interest amongst the readers. By next year, this graphic novel won Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

There are six issues in the graphic novel and each consists of 23 or 24 pages. Gabriel’s artistic work and characterization will somewhere remind the reader of Frank Miller‘s work on The Dark Knight Returns. The drawings are not really that captivating but I liked the sub-cover art pages of the issue titles. Yes, there are some pages that need attention to the detailing like Pogo testing number 5 and news reporting in the third issue. Or Kraken shutting down Vanya when she returns. I liked Vanya’s character development where it reflected that she wasn’t taken seriously and no one cared about her. Those two dark pages of music notes were quivering. Pogo’s soft corner for Vanya was also highlighted.

Twelve years later, Netflix adapted and created the streaming television series. In the first month of release, the show was watched by 45 million viewers and became one of the biggest hits of the year. The show achieved cult status and critical acclaim thanks to well-executed screenwriting.

This is not strange that the adaptation gets a license to make changes for visual dynamics to captivate the audience but I felt the sources taken from Apocalypse Suite were modified and to some extent, looked acceptable. Just, for example, Vanya’s characterization; in comics, Vanya is powerful when she unleashes her powers by playing violin but in the show, she uses any sound wave. Ben (number 6) is almost invisible in the novel but has a fine supporting role like any of the other six. Ben and Klaus (number 4) are good friends in the show and are comic relief and fan favorites. So observing these two changes, I think no one will have an objection.

Yes, there were elements that raised the eyebrows like Klaus and Vanya were LGBTQ+ characters and were not in comics. Maybe that’s a Netflix thing and this Netflix show is no different in making those choices for the established characters.

But I think Apocalypse Suite is a very interesting beginning of the series that continues its story in the next three novels, Dallas (2008), Hotel Oblivion (2018), and Sparrow Academy.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite Issues 1-6 (2007-2008)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/


SUPPORTING VIDEO

If you are interested to watch the commentary about the history of The Umbrella Academy, I recommend you watch this video.

Film Review: The Batman (2022)

INTRODUCTION

If there is one superhero most of the directors wish to direct, the global audience gets mesmerized, and comic geeks would always love to talk about for hours, it is Batman. The new line of work about Batman and his city was planned back in 2014 when Ben Affleck was writing, directing, and starring as Batman in this very film. Entered Matt Reeves and Ben’s ideas and creativity about the entire project went off. Matt Reeves was a very fitting selection after his artistry behind the Ape trilogy. His vision behind presenting Gotham city and the inspirational elements he was willing to apply in this project plus the casting for the major characters was topping the expectations. I happened to watch The Batman a couple of days ago. So let me try to analyze.

Bruce Wayne is fighting against crime in the city for the past two years. Officer Gordon summons him to scrutinize a crime scene committed by Riddler in which the mystery to catch him is directed only to the Batman. With his involvement comes anger amongst Gotham police as no one trusts him besides Gordon. While trying to discover the next targets on Riddler’s agenda, he meets Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman through crimelords Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. Penguin, and Carmine Falcone. During all this, Bruce also digs to find answers about his deceased father Thomas Wayne. While the film enters into its final hour, it is a little late for Batman to realize that the entire Gotham city is under major threat.

Matt Reeves opened up to Esquire that his influences for making this film were some 1970s classics like The French Connection, Chinatown, Taxi Driver,  a critically acclaimed comic-book story ‘Batman: year One‘, and rock band Nirvana. This pretty much shows how clear is Matt’s vision. Besides Year One, the film will a lot remind of ‘The Long Halloween storyline. 

CHARACTERS

Let me first talk about the characterization of Batman in length. Robert Pattinson as Batman had mixed responses when his selection was announced. He is not the same vampire and has improved a lot in his performances as well as picking films. This character has always been judged as Batman but not Bruce because the audience is unlucky to not have watched much of Bruce Wayne as a Gothamite who is loyal to his city and a philanthropist who is generous for welfare. Only a few minutes are given to this side as the film centers around the dark knight who fights crime usually at night. So once again, Bruce’s heroism was limited just like in the previous films about Batman. There was certainly a reflection of the good side of Bruce in the memorial scene; but if you notice Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne, this rich guy doesn’t really look so dedicated to the city as he has always been in the comics or previous films. He takes crimefighting very personally as an act of revenge after the murder of his parents. This is confirmed in the beginning phase when Bruce doesn’t show any interest in his company’s financial affairs when Alfred tries to convince and he responds what he is doing (at night) is his family’s legacy.

Plus Bruce as a person in this film looks more natural in characterizing this antihero than in any of the enactions before. Robert Pattinson’s Bruce is more lost and sadist than any portrayals. He has a lot of rage with killer instincts and is about to beat some crook to almost death. This man is weird, he doesn’t portray an ideal rich playboy but is more of a thinker whose emotions have shattered away while trying to bring justice into this crazy city.

So when I say that this Batman is fighting crime for only two years in the city, that still counts as a rookie. And his two years of buildup as the phenomenal combatant still are not through to the physical challenges. He gets punches pretty quickly. Gets visibly exhausted like one in a bar when he wants to see Penguin. A major surprise to the audience is that this Batman is afraid of heights. Yes, he also fails in his heroics like when he tries to land after flying from the top of the Gotham Central Police Department (GCPD) tower. All this makes this Batman very realistic to the period Matt Reeves has set for Gotham.

Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman didn’t appeal to me as much as Selina Kyle. I felt if Catwoman was some forced character that was tried to fit into the mystery. Not that much was focused on Selina Kyle but was connected with Carmine Falcone that also looked pretty nonsensical. John Turturro as Falcone was a superb choice but the problem with the character is that the minutes on him are the least to focus on because he is always a sub-supporting character. Imagine Penguin being his chief lieutenant had more screen minutes than Falcone.

I am not sure why Colin Farrell was selected for Penguin with so many prosthetics and makeup done on the actor to look like Penguin. No doubt he did a fine job and he is holding a lot of promises for future films. Jeffrey Wright as officer Gordon has to be the worst character in the film. No, this is not about race swapping, Jeffrey is a quality actor and I am okay with his being Gordon. The problem is the characterization. In the entire film, he looked so dumb and desperate for solutions. I felt Gordon was clueless without Batman and had no guts to solve some of the mysteries himself. I was expecting a very strict and hardcore Gordon who has some hold even if he is just an officer because this is how James Gordon is.

Andy Serkis as Alfred did a fair job although it was a short role. The character doesn’t remind me of any comics storyline but fair enough as the film is very much based on Matt Reeves’ vision. The comics version of Alfred has never been portrayed in the films.

Paul Dano has been a very underrated actor throughout his career and he deserved a role that will make him remembered by the mainstream audience. He needed this push. When his name was announced for the film’s main antagonist Riddler, I had this feeling that this is a very serious and intelligent choice. Because Riddler has always been taken for fun. This time the director made sure that Riddler will now have the fun. This is a remarkable psychotic portrayal of Riddler and marvelous execution. I was fully sold on what I watched. The threat he imposed on Gotham and tested Batman’s heroism was genuine.

In such a lengthy film, I felt there was a lot of space to fit at least three characters in the film. One was Gordon’s daughter Barbara who will become Batgirl. With so much screentime of showing up together, Gordon could have introduced Batman to his young girl. The other is Ted Grant a.k.a. Wildcat who taught Catwoman boxing and streetfighting in one of the storylines in Catwoman’s comics. Wildcat also holds the distinction to be one of the few comic characters who trained Batman. And the third is Leslie Thompkins, the doctor who helped raise Bruce Wayne when he lost his parents. Leslie has been a motherly figure to Bruce in comics and was also a close friend to his father Thomas. When Batman was digging for answers in the middle of the film about his father, he could have asked for Leslie’s assistance or just met her for a few minutes.

SCENES

Bruce Wayne’s commentary in the beginning and ending drives me towards the comics. Both scenes of his commentary shots on some catchy scenes were like many first pages of the storylines where a major character or the writer addresses the intro to give a particular start to a comic book. The lines narrated by Bruce are so comics-oriented.

I am thankful to Matt Reeves for breaking the tradition of dramatizing the murder of the Waynes. This scene is so popular that those viewers who do not follow superhero films know about Batman’s tragic childhood story. Instead, this incident was used in the news bulletin that looked more appropriate to proceed with the story in the current timeline.

In the beginning, a group of thugs attacks a man and they have all painted their faces like Joker. Whereas Joker’s cameo happens when the film is finishing. So the portrayal of street gangs indicates that Joker terrorized the city and influenced the gangs to adopt his cult. Batman put him in the cage and perhaps dropped down some criminal activities. One of the guys in the gang is Jay Lycurgo who incidentally also stars in other Gothamverse, Titans as Tim Drake. Interestingly, he is the odd one in that gang with half makeup. So is he inspired by Two-Face? Does Two-Face already exist?

One of my favorite scenes in the film is the public memorial of Mayor Mitchell. The direction is master class, and Robert gives a thoughtful performance. If anyone observes this memorial scene, Bruce was silent all that time besides the two words he uttered in question to the lady running for mayor, “I’m Sorry?”. He observed the memorial from top to bottom, left to right, every possible important person or a thing he could have checked in for clues. And then a noise breaks out indicating a possible terror attack from far a distance panicking everyone in the memorial. The next half a minute you watch after the breaking of the exterior noise is what Matt deserves applause for. How magnificently a terror attack was picturized! Notice everyone who reacted to the noise. Every single attendee reacted naturally, no one showed a sign that this was some scene to act. This is the director’s determination I am much impressed with. He wanted every single extra to behave naturally to the threat. This was the most perfect terror scene I have watched in years, if not decades.

One of the things I really liked about the film was that Batman and Riddler, the main antagonist, had only one encounter in the entire 176 minutes. And the hype lived up to it. It was intense and mad. But one of the heavy surprises was Riddler saying his name in a stretch. So does he know that Bruce is Batman? Yes, he knows. Riddler is a smart guy making his crime mysteries the hardest to solve. So it will be a piece of cake for Riddler to figure out who is behind the mask. Plus, Riddler was looking straight at Bruce in the memorial. No? Why would he do that? Of course, he knows who Batman is.

In the comics storyline ‘Batman: Hush‘, Riddler correctly guessed about this. The audience may feel as if that’s a plothole. Why would Riddler not expose the real identity to the world? Because if he exposes him, who will he play the riddling game with? Where lies the beauty of guessing if Riddler exposes him? The plothole is, how come no one listened to the conversation between them in GCPD and found out that Batman is Bruce Wayne?

In one of the last scenes of the film, Batman saves some lives and it is quite cogent when he rescues one of the Gothamites on the stretcher and she in all trauma holds his arm while Bruce narrates in the background that vengeance will not change the past, he has to become more and people need hope. Perhaps Bruce realized at the moment when one of Riddler’s followers called himself a vengeance, that his being vengeance is not helping and giving a wrong influence. He has to make alterations to his gloomy despair to bring optimism to living in this city.

Although the film didn’t allow the viewers to get thrilled with the most anticipating face-off. But the deleted scene after the film’s release gave the viewers a glimpse of the clown prince of crime and Batman’s biggest archenemy Joker played by Barry Keoghan. With Keoghan’s selection comes a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of both Matt and this 29-year-old talented Irish actor to play one of the most challenging roles in Hollywood. He surely is the first actor to become Joker in a film who is not a well-established actor. By that, I mean he, as an actor, is not there where Joker actors like Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix have reached and decorated their names and careers. Incidentally, each of them has won an Oscar in their lifetime.

Of what I have watched in that brief clip, I believe Barry’s version has to be the most horrifying (and for weak-hearted viewers the most terrifying) Joker ever presented in the film. Since Heath Ledger’s Joker, every time a new Joker has shown up in either film or television format, the character has looked more deranged and psychotic which is actually challenging and thoughtful to test up to what extent can Joke be dramatized to madness. And how much insanity can an actor prevail?

With plentiful scars, a very few hairy portions on the burnt head, bloody hands with broken fingernails, this Joker looks like a subject of severe self-torture after all hell broke on his personal tragic life. And the voice is very similar to Heath’s Joker. He also looks to gain some emotional control with skeptical remote insanity. Observe his polite response to Batman when he reads the file. It was a smart move to shoot this scene as blurry towards Joker and reveal the facial disgust later. I predict this is going to be the most intelligent Joker ever to surface in films. And if he really makes a partnership with Riddler as depicted, Gotham shall not be ready for this merciless showdown. So, really excited to watch him in the sequel.

MUSIC

Great ideas do not muddle. The use of Nirvana’s track ‘Something In The Way‘ in ‘The Batman’ was apt. It was played twice, in the beginning, and in one of the last scenes. We don’t often listen to the same track more than once in a film. So why did Matt Reeves give this much importance to the track in the film? This has something to do with the elements of rock, rage, dominance, sadism, and revenge. These elements, besides rock, are common in both Batman and Nirvana. More than rock, Batman has been more about the symphony and his city Jazz and Blues. Batman’s commentary and the song’s lyrics also match the dark fate of the city. There is the line in the song “And the animals I’ve trapped have all become my pets”. This pretty much suits Batman’s personal trophies from his crimefighting where animals like crocodile, penguin, cat, bat, and a few more are his pets.

After Hans Zimmer blessed our ears with one of the most beloved music scores for Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy, it is a multitude of challenges for any composer to come close to Hans and give a score for the Batman films as memorable as that work. Matt’s frequent collaborator Michael Giacchino tried his best and made a decent attempt. Let me halt comparing and talk about Batman’s new theme. Many Star War fans around the world are in for a treat to get mesmerized by this theme because that is an obvious reminder of one of the most iconic Star Wars themes, Imperial March. Imperial March associates with Darth Vader and with that wrath comes a piece of music that represents the rage of hellfire. If Giacchino actually took the inspiration from a theme about one of the most iconic supervillains to apply to one of the most iconic superheroes, he certainly deserves praise. This Batman theme sounds more broken and vexated, some buildup of a nightmare on the criminals appalled by the Dark Knight.

ISSUES

As explained above, from my point of view, most of the characters didn’t do justice besides Batman and Riddler. Besides, the role of GCPD was below par portrayal like any action film that doesn’t will to give some prominence to their crime-fighting. GCPD looked extremely compromised and clueless, and so was Gordon. Maybe the theory is that GCPD would have gone so dysfunctional all this time that the city got destroyed by so much corruption. But still, GCPD and Gordon were not good enough in the film.

Gordon summons Batman to solve the crime scene. This was the first time Batman was directly involved in GCPD’s case. I am more unreluctant to understand how Batman and GCPD fought crime before this for two years. If Gordon believed in Batman, how were they fighting crime in that period? Was there no bigger threat or major villain who showed up two years before Riddler?

The film in the middle was dead meat. The screenplay consumed a lot of time in searching for the clues and trying to identify if Thomas Wayne was a bad politician or if he was framed for death.

‘The Batman’, as a whole, has a more television show feel than a film. The editing of the film makes you think if four or five episodes have been attached together and shaped into a film. Due to this reason, the cinematic feel of watching The Batman is dingy. The making of this film does support the classic filmmaking element of neo-noir and there is no doubt about Matt Reeves’ direction for the film has been exceptional and innovative.

I am not convinced with the final phase of the film after Batman understands the threat Gotham is imposed. The writing of this phase looked flat. It was just another action-packed phase like any superhero film with not much extraordinary effort in writing. Bombing the city, lookalike henchmen terrorizing, predictable action scenes, etc. I felt a quality of writing was fading before and after the bombing.

QUESTIONS

Barry Keoghan in a cameo appearance shows up as the clown prince of crime and Batman’s biggest archenemy, Joker. After the release of the film, Matt Reeves releases a deleted scene of around five minutes of Batman’s interrogation with Joker. I am not sure why was this decided by the makers to remove this scene from the final cut. This scene held a lot of importance and would have worked in the middle of the film while Batman tries to catch Riddler. It is an open secret that Joker will show up in any of the future Batman films. It is impossible to complete Batverse without him. So it is illogical to delete this scene. And if the director wished to keep the audience thrilled by Joker’s existence in the last phase, why release the deleted scene then?

Will Riddler return? I think he will. But I feel technically his time is up and should stay imprisoned in the Arkham Asylum and let Matt Reeves let him pass the torch to Joker and other future villains. Riddler’s mission failed and hence, makes no reason to bring him back but rather focus on other bad guys. There are so many who deserves their time in this Batverse. If the plan is for a trilogy which is highly likely, then the villains will be limited to the most popular ones.

Catwoman leaves Gotham in the final scene. That is another technical conclusion of the character, just like Riddler. And there are many ladies to become Bruce/Batman’s love interest. This Batverse can work on introducing the photographer/reporter Vicki Vale and develop a love affair with Bruce like in the comics. She was the closest of all the Gotham characters to theorize that Bruce could be Batman. If Matt Reeves consider Talia, that will lead to all new dimensions and start a story towards Ra’s al Ghul. Jezebel Jet can also play the part of a woman who plotted to destroy him while secretly working for the Black Glove in ‘Batman R.I.P.‘ storyline. or maybe it is time to introduce Kathy Kane a.k.a. Batwoman in this universe and we watch both Bat man and woman fight the crime in their costumes. Is bringing a heroine in Batman films really important? Depends on the writer/director that how he pushes his script in the continuity. But Bruce has been a playboy so there is a certainty. It will also be wise if no more woman enters his life as Robert Pattinson’s Bruce maintains a dark emotional journey.

Mayor Mitchell was killed at the start and his kid showed up a couple of times. Why? The Batman looks at him and surely remembers his time. So who is he? Is this boy Robin? It is quite exhilarating that in the first instance, the boy looked at Batman at the crime scene and the next time, he looked at Bruce Wayne in the memorial. Such a dramatic touch!

It is quite a touch of framing a kid into theorizing a solid future of crimefighting. The origin story of Robin aside, it will be quite an interesting idea to buy for the sequel where the boy gets picked by Bruce and pays for his well-being. And in the third Batman film, Bruce begins to train him which leads to joining him as a crime partner. I would love to see that happen.

But in this theory, the problem is the boy’s age. He is too young to become the boy wonder. That is the other case if the timeline jumps in the sequel.

CONCLUSION

‘The Batman’ holds technical brilliance in dialogues, cinematography, writing, and direction. The film holds a lot of promises for continuity. The characters that didn’t live up to the expectations can get developed in the sequels. The Batman broke a lot of traditions like not bringing back Batman’s hoarse voice, not dramatizing the murder of Bruce’s parents, dismantling Bruce’s close-to-perfect rich personality, and applying a lot of realism.

The film’s cinematic accomplishment is that most of the audience is not willing to take down Matt Reeves’ imagining of Gotham and understanding of Batman and argue that The Dark Knight Trilogy did better. That trilogy has earned the respect of all the noble courts of comics. This film scales itself from that respect and distinguishes itself from the acceptable aesthetics of Batman’s world. It is a promising trilogy to the hype with new and fresh expectations. Perhaps, another memorable trilogy about Batman is surfacing in the coming years to earn new respect. Time will tell.

Another major plus that separates ‘The Batman’ from all the past films centered around Batman is that this is a detective film. Batman has been a crime fighter all his life but first, he is a detective. Comics have always emphasized his role as a detective more than a crime fighter. The directors in the past usually dramatized the films based on Batman as a crime-fighting superhero. Matt Reeves understood the character precisely and presented his true characterization. And that’s a win for me.

The Batman has room for improvement, there are issues that I addressed above. But I also admit that this is a spectacular start. I want the epic plunge into the cosmos of wholesome brilliance in Batmanship. Hope the bite doesn’t get rotten.

RATINGS: 8.4/10

Book Review: The Maze Runner (2009)

Although I am not a keen viewer nor do I prefer watching films of the science-fiction genre despite the fact that The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Game of Thrones top the list of my favorite film franchises and TV shows. One day, my brother suggested watching a film of the same genre and that was The Maze Runner which I never heard of before. My only piece of knowledge about the film was that Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who plays Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones, was part of this film. That wasn’t enough but somehow I made up my mind to watch it even without any of its stills or a trailer.

It took some time to understand the happenings inside a dystopian state where all young kids are stuck at someplace in The Maze called The Glade. The Glade has four large walls and each wall has The Door which opens every morning and closes every evening before the dark. To reveal the mystery and dig into the existence of the outside world from those Doors, a few of the captives run and return before evening to collect the info. The runners then reveal that there are many creatures on the path which has appendages such as spikes and shears. Those creatures are called The Grievers.

The last two individuals who arrive at this sorry place are the main characters of the film, Thomas, and Teresa. Together they dig into the mystery of how they ended here and what is the reason behind dropping at this place. Later on, they discover the purpose that all the individuals in The Maze are kept on trials to survive this place.

The fittest will survive and return back to The Creators who sent them on trials in The Maze. The Creators are a group of agents of the organization called WICKED (World In Catastrophe Killzone Experiment Department). This organization was formed to find the cure for The Flare, a virus that eats away the brain of humans and turns them into cannibals. The humans who suffer from this disease are called The Cranks.

As a viewer, I found the plot of the film very interesting enough to make my mind to read the book with the same title. And when I read, I found a lot of changes but those changes were made in the film for the dramatic impact which often happens with almost every book-inspired film.

The book, written by James Dashner, obviously is more open to defining the major characters and the places mentioned. What is more of an interest is how the pages are making Thomas build for a certain cause. How he is grabbing the attention of everyone in the book is very natural. Teresa has a more onscreen appearance in the film as compared to the book as she is in a coma for more than half of the reading since her arrival in The Maze. Also, both Thomas and Teresa are telepathic in the book. Why not in the film? Well, I believe it does make sense.

The best thing about reading a novel is that the reader visits the universe of the author whose subconscious mind creates a powerful fictional story. When I was reading, I felt the existence of Thomas passing through The Doors of The Walls and facing The Grievers and that is the beauty of writing a novel that sends the reader to the universe of those pages.

One factor that I certainly liked about James’ creativity of the plot was the brain behind the construction of the maze and the purpose of sending humans. That is very very human and close to reality. James re-wrote the concept of evolution and the theory of survival under his creativity. We all humans are sent to earth for some reason. Our brain doesn’t develop in the earlier phase but with time, it grows and we even memorize some portions of our earliest living phase. And we have to survive. God send us humans on trials, we are put to test. God is The Creator, I am Thomas, the rest are fellow Gladers, my partner in crime is Teresa, my obstacles are The Grievers, and Satan is The Flare. Marvelous job James!

Book Review: The Alchemist (1988)

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“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The Alchemist is Paulo Coelho‘s most famous book which he wrote in mere two weeks and published in 1988. The book is on the list of one of the most read books in the history of literature with the name mentioned in the Guinness World Records for being the book translated into most languages. By 2015, the book has been translated into 80 languages and had sold more than 65 million copies.  

The book is about Santiago, the Andalusian shepherd, dreaming about finding the treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt. Santiago makes up his mind about the quest for treasure. He meets numerous people during his spiritual journey who inspires/influences him and will give that same impression to the readers.

The book can easily be fragmented into four parts:

  • The first phase is Santiago’s dream and contribution of gypsy woman and old king of Salem, Melchizedek towards the boy’s goal of treasure digging.
  • The second phase is his life in Tangiers where he is robbed and works for a crystal merchant.
  • The third phase is the expedition at al-Fayoum Oasis where Santiago meets an Englishman who is in search of the Alchemist. This is where the boy falls in love with Fatima but she persuades him to find the treasure first.
  • The final phase is meeting his last inspiration, the 200-year-old Alchemist himself. He plays a very important role in the boy’s treasure hunting.

The Alchemist is a human torch on a journey of hope with supernatural power towards WILL. Need a hand? Then hold this book and read. The book has one story but we all are connected somehow. A tremendous guide!!

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Why this book inspires you after reading? Because no matter what religion you follow, what faith you obey, what career you pursue, whoever or whatever you love… the flow of the story teaches you something at every turning page. The reader is at ease solving the riddle of his life.

The author digs more about the human psychology and spiritual philosophy of life than you may act/react at your side in your own world. At every point of twist, the author shatters the puzzles and fixes them for your most difficult questions to be answered.

Paulo repeats some specific words and during the storyline, the writer indirectly emphasizes the readers to work on it. Some of these are omens, personal legend, the soul of the world and maktub, etc. ‘Maktub’ is an Arabic word that means ‘It Is Written’. The word is used by a few of the characters repeating when the character is at the defining moment where they choose to say ‘Maktub’ that whatever happening is written in your fate. The word is introduced by the crystal merchant.

Melchizedek talks about Personal Legend to Santiago, which he defines as “it is always what you want to accomplish in life.” The word ‘Omens has its own prominence like the previously mentioned words. Paulo has repeatedly motivated his main character Santiago to follow his ‘Omens’ to find the treasure. In an interview, Paulo defined “Omens are the individual language in which God talks to you” which gives a more clear point to a common person. The word ‘Omens’ is the highest level of motivation by which one can succeed. To my understanding, there is something in me and you that creates and builds your wants, and empowers you to reach your goal and make it possible. That something is your Omen, and God creates and builds your omens only if you want Him to assist you in achieving/accomplishing. That is how some specific Coelho words are worked on the human minds helping them to live and breathe a better life.

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Creativity is remarkable. Some names in the books are major references that the reader must understand. The name of the old King is Melchizedek who actually is mentioned in the Book of Genesis 18-20. Melchizedek holds kingship of Salem which is a biblical name of Jerusalem mentioned in Psalm 76:2. The two stones, Urim and Thummim which he gives to Santiago are basically associated with the sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest of the Israelites. These stones are mentioned in the Book of Exodus which is used to determine God’s will.

The Alchemist has the possession of Elixir of Life and Philosopher’s Stone. Both are legendary substances. Philosopher’s Stone is a chemical substance that turns any metal into gold whereas Elixir of Life is a drink by which the drinker is granted eternal life/youth and never gets sick. Both the substances of Alchemists are called their Master Work.

London Times says that Paulo’s books have had a life-enchanting effect on millions of people, so as this book. And New York Times has a better compliment for his writing which says that this wizard makes books disappear from stores. I am not admitting that my life has changed, but I am admitting that by reading this book, I am becoming aware of my options when I am surrounded by life’s complicated issues. Now I will be more at ease than before to decide why, what, when, where, and how to do it. Paulo is like a spiritual teacher becoming the reader’s imaginary friend, motivating and cheering you by reminding you to follow your omens. Such a book is recommended to every reader who surely will learn a lot from it.

Thank you so much Rossie Nathalie for suggesting this book…

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Book Review: The Dancing Girls of Lahore (2006)

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The title says it all. British author Louise Brown tours you to one of the shadows of the great Badshahi Masjid, the Diamond Market of Lahore which has a rich history of songs, dances, seductions, pleasures, fake and broken promises; and being a source of pleasuring men for centuries since the Mughal-era. It was once a land where the trained courtesans used to conquer the hearts of emperors.

The Dancing Girls of Lahore is a story of Maha, a classical dancer whose virginity was sold to an Arab Sheikh when she was only 12, but her existence cornered in the Walled City. Her fate is gashed with the timeline the author pens in each of the eight chapters, highlighting her struggles in raising money and children. 

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I am confounded shall I pay my compliments for mustering the author’s courage, bestowed in her for shaping a book blazing her analysis, research, and token of her lifetime in a historic sex market of Lahore or shall I appreciate the writer’s courtesy towards the humans of an entirely different world to whom she spent every inch of monotone…

It is quite a lantern of outcry from the details of a dark frame with hopeless life stories coming from an author who herself is a mother of three young children (by 2000). So I find super-naturally an extraordinary writing from a mother who forwards us a tale of a sex-selling mother Maha and her children i.e., soon-to-be sex workers in early teenhood.

The delicacy of the book lies in the anecdotes, descriptions of customers and various individuals, street foods and religious festivals, and history diggings over national and religious significance. Another impressive factor of reading this account is defining/detailing of the characters. Not only the leading characters have been pedals of bicycles, but also the minor individuals who carry less prominence were folded with some amount of paras.

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Reading the book has the comfort of fragmenting the pages by the headings which will ease the readers to read summarized details. Louise also covers the sorry state of transgender/shemale prostitutes in the bazaar. Also the use of Punjabi and Urdu words forward more output towards the meanings for comprehension and adding swear words ignite the sketches of emotions which is quite hilarious at some moments. Enjoyable parts are where Maha always turns ferocious and begins swearing. The author has made a careful observation of Maha.

Overall, The Dancing Girls of Lahore is a book presenting a terrible insider of a low-morale social life of the poor in the city of hearts but simultaneously a marvelous read of a summarized four-year timeline in a red-light district which guarantees interest towards the author’s explanations and research. It is a heartbreaking story that most importantly focuses on the lives of women residing there and confronting the horrors and cries. A ravishing sorrow…