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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.

Comics Review: Secret Origins (1973)

 

If the readers of comic books from the DC platform are exhausted and bored of reading about their two signature products, Batman and Superman. If the DC fans are willing to know how the heroism of their favorite superheroes ever began. What made them change their identities and started to fight against crime? If you are confused to understand, after realizing that there is more than one origin story, what exactly is the original story to believe in? Or, if you are new to DC Comics and are enthusiasts to try and read a few origin stories, I have a very excellent suggestion for you.

My fellow DC readers, sixty years ago, the publishers did a favor on the readers of that time and published a one-shot with the title, Secret Origins. This issue had around 85 pages and reprinted original material of the golden-age superheroes. A decade later, the publishers took a better step and ran 7 issues between 1973 and 1974 that had origin stories of many favorite superheroes.

The good thing about these issues is that the original stories have been represented in their original form without any alterations and mentioned the dates of original publishing. So the confusion of following more than one origin story was avoided. Also, the publishers tried to push reading about the stories of some heroes who weren’t as iconic as Justice League‘s most important heroes like Kid Eternity, Vigilante, or The Legion of Super-Heroes. Well obviously, the publishers didn’t cover many figures due to their hands being tight over releasing extremely limited issues but this was the baby step in their history to expect further in the coming decades.

The oldest comics make you know one aspect of the writing that the writers do not intend to stretch a particular episode or a story to some length but find a moment to end the issue instead of giving broad details. But those writers who came up with these iconic characters will always be ahead of all the writers of all eras and ages because they were the creators of our favorite superheroes, they provided them costumes, powers, and reasons to live. And this is one major reason, the readers need to visit these historical pages and get the knowledge of how their favorite superhero was actually written and what was his/her backstory.

By reading the origin stories, there is every chance for the reader to develop an interest in other heroes, their villains, and their worlds. And reading other heroes become necessary because sometimes the readers limit themselves to one hero and read his/her stories in different timelines. But when that hero is involved in a mega story where other heroes get involved, a lack of understanding for the other heroes leads to unattraction. That interest or enthusiasm to read a major story fades. Just for example, if the reader of one hero chooses to read a major storyline like any of the Crisis stories, how will the reader develop that interest for other heroes that he/she has for his/her favorite? Issues like Secret Origins guide the readers to understand those heroes.


REFERENCES

1) Secret Origins Special Giant Issue #1 (June 1961)
2) Secret Origins Issues 1-7 (1973—1974)

FREE DOWNLOADS

https://getcomics.info/dc/secret-origins-1-1961-one-shot/

https://getcomics.info/dc/secret-origins-vol-1-1-7/


SUPPORTING VIDEO

Secret Origins is about the backstories of superheroes. But if you are interested in understanding the backstory of DC Comics, you may like this.

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

Film Review: The King’s Man (2021)

The King’s Man is the third chapter in the Kingsman series of films that takes the audience more than a hundred years back to present what were the causes and factors involved that gave birth to the Kingsman organization. Directed by the same guy, Michael Vaughn, this film touches on so many important political events that happened before, during, and after World War I.

The Kingsman films are basically a comic book series ‘Kingsman‘ written by Mark Millar and the artwork by Dave Gibbons. Kingsman is so far consisting of three parts, starting with ‘The Secret Service‘ of 6 issues. Then ‘The Big Exit‘ which is only 1 issue. And then ‘The Red Diamond‘ of 6 issues. Keeping in mind, Mark Millar gave birth to Kingsman in 2012 and Michael Vaughn picked the literature in 2014; so the Kingsman franchise in all formats has made steady progress in just 10 years.

Rhys Ifans as Rasputin in 20th Century Studios’ THE KING’S MAN. Photo credit: Peter Mountain. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

History has been one of my favorite subjects. Therefore, time-traveling with Kingsman to one of the most important political events in history was necessary. Of course, the events were not historically accurate. Hitler didn’t kill the Tsars, Mata Hari didn’t seduce Woodrow Wilson, Rasputin wasn’t a fighter, and many more.

There may be two reasons for these inaccuracies. One is that Michael Vaughn took the liberty to present the film with such theatrical license to become how the history would look like to build a purpose of giving birth to an organization.

The other reason is maybe this is how the original source of the comic book series is written. And if that is so, then the historical inaccuracy does not become a problem because the writer has the liberty to present his/her audience the way he/she wants to write a fictional story on a real event. There is no argument in that. There are tons and tons of fictional novels based on real events and that is completely okay. If anyone still has any objection, let me drop this to you, Joker was once Iran’s representative to the United Nations *cough*.

One more fact that we need to acknowledge is that Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons themselves are the executive producers of all three Kingsman films. So no one should have any problem with any portion of the story if the Gods of that universe are the ones financing these films.

Michael Vaughn’s direction was quite different than the previous two installments. But I must say, the direction was pretty complex in the middle of the film. I felt the film was deliberately running fast, they have to catch the train and reach the platform where the organization will come into existence. But also, Michael Vaughn usually paces the screenplay.

The casting of this film is so elite and perfect. Ralph Fiennes in the leading role as the Duke of Oxford was marvelous thought. He perfectly suits a franchise like Kingsman. Tom Hollander! I mean what a smart and intelligent pick for the triple role of Tsar, Wilhelm, and George. Giving such heavy roles to the same actor was funny and clever as two of the three, Tsar and George were identical. To my utter shock, Rasputin is played by Rhys Ifans. Never imagined him being Rasputin. What a thought! He looked so Rasputin in superb makeup. And I found this Rasputin in physical presence better than Ben Cartwright‘s in the limited series, The Last Czars.

And then the fast action sequences, that have been important elements of Michael Vaughn’s filmography, will not disappoint. Rasputin’s fighting was fun to watch, I was laughing at this action sequence because Rasputin was fighting with elements of Russian folk dance.

Maybe the film is not appreciated because of the complex direction in the middle of the film and is quite different than the first two Kingsman films. But I recognize the importance of this film and I think it was quite alright. I liked the idea of how one evil sent his followers to bring hell on the global powers. This film is extremely political and may also be the reason that Kingsman fans showed less fondness as compared to the other two. But I believe, this film stays untouched by the graceful aesthetics and makes no harm in this Kingsverse. With the development in the mid-credit scene, I wait for its continuity.

Ratings: 8.2/10

Film Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

The immaculate success of Snyder Cut is built on two factors. One is Zack Snyder‘s determination to stay true to its roots of understanding that what he planned for his DC Extended Universe (DCEU) beginning from Man Of Steel (MOS) and continuing to Batman v Superman (BvS) was right no matter how severe were the criticisms that he received. The other is the passion of DC fans who believed in Zack Snyder’s vision for Justice League (JL) film, a soul that was besmirched by the-then CEO of Warner Bros. (WB) Entertainment, Kevin Tsujihara, who decided to screw the tone set for DCEU films and make it light and apply forced humor to drag the DCEU in an unconditional sprint race with the already well-established and globally-accepted Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by appointing Joss Wheddon to complete the film and cut the length of 4 hours of the screentime of the film to only 2 hours. Results were pathetic, outrageous, and spine-breaking consequences resulting in Warner Bros authorities deciding to wide-open the slates of DC films and go solo for different projects. Snyder’s DCEU had lost the soul but DC fans protested/demanded to release Snyder’s version for years.

Global fans demanding to release a film they are wanting to watch had never practically happened before. The fans were right that Zack Snyder was right; global fans who demanded to release Snyder’s vision believed in his vision. The original idea about Justice League is now finally released and I wholeheartedly accept that Zack did it, he f**king did it. Whatever rumors or leaks media revealed about Zack’s original works all these years were all true. Whatever we came to know about his works all these years was all true.

After four years of wait, a wait that built more anxiousness after Snyder announced that the project will finally be released, I thoroughly watched this 4-hour mega film with the rollercoaster of emotions and excitement. And by watching this epic, I realized how Snyder Cut distinguishes a comic book film between DC and Marvel. Marvel films cannot be DC, and DC cannot be Marvel, in a positive way. Both are different universes with great superheroes, great supervillains, and extraordinary stories told in the past 75 years. Trying to be like each other loses the identity and soul during the process. This Snyder Cut is the most DC thing to have happened in years.

This Snyder Cut makes a statement and crashes the-then bosses of WB and the decision to appoint Joss Wheddon to dust. This film exposes how ugly was the previous JL film. If the audience was disappointed to watch that two-hour film, this film will make hate it more. Every single mistake that film made, every single plothole that came into existence to confuse the audience has been totally cleared with such a deconstructive construction of screenwriting in a cohesive way.

Does The Screentime Of The Film Justifies?

It took two hours for Batman to gather a team and around three hours for Steppenwolf to get all the mother boxes. And then the screentime of the theatrical cut was 2 hours.

Should the film be four-hours long? I liked and favored MCU’s idea of the foundation by going solo for the first superheroes and unifying them into The Avengers film in the first phase and this is how a successful foundation helped the universe construct a strong nexus to many future projects that were bound to be accepted with commercial success. Zack had his own way of storytelling and I respect that. Because four years ago, in the theatrical cut, building a team without understanding the superheroes was unimaginable but Snyder Cut is very distinguished storytelling. This lengthy film guarantees and justifies that introducing superheroes for a mission with enough detailed minutes was the right decision in its own way. Nothing was rushed; Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg, they all get enough space to decide whether joining Batman and Wonder Woman to fight the war was the holy submission or a fool’s paradise.

Interesting Developments

Of course, I am not going to write every new thing the film added as the reel itself is two hours longer than the theatrical cut. So I will restrict to a few important events that happened in this film that builds the future.

Steppenwolf finds out the formula his lord, Darkseid, was searching for thousands of years, the anti-life equation. After failing to form the unity from the mother boxes, if Darkseid actually gets the weapon, he will be the supreme overlord of the universe. The original face or the character design of Steppenwolf from BvS has been restored. And generally, Steppenwolf has one of the best character developments in the film.

Then there is the gamechanger when The Flash saves the day by running back in time by using the Speed Force and giving the chance to Cyborg to separate the mother boxes. He says to himself that he has to break the rule. He talks about the rule twice in the film, previously when he helps in resurrecting Superman. That means The Flash already is a veteran speedster who had his moments of heroics in Central City fighting against some major crimes where he was forced to use this speed force. And this is why, The Flash’s solo film holds a lot of importance, especially if the film is based on the Flashpoint story.

In another scene, Martian Manhunter shapeshifts to Martha Kent and meets and motivates Lois Lane to start a fresh life. This comes surprising that the alien, the last survivor from Mars knows who Clark Kent is. He even visits Bruce Wayne and alerts him for the coming war that further confirms that he knows everything and has been following the developments for some time.

This film officially introduces Dr. Ryan Choi who is working in S.T.A.R. Labs. In comics, Ryan Choi is Atom. Yes, the body shrinker and another superhero, that will hopefully join the league. With the appearance of Choi, there may be a possibility that the first Atom, Ray Palmer, exists. Because in comics, Ryan Choi was Ray Palmer’s protégé.

Barry informing Bruce that he is fluent in Gorilla Sign Language is an understood indication that Gorilla Grodd does exist. Maybe, he shows up in The Flash film.

One of the most important moments in the film was Diana coming to know the biggest mystery – Darkseid. When Queen Hippolyta alerts Diana by shooting a firing arrow that drops straight into a Greek temple, she tries to discover the hidden secrets of the place. She finds a secret door, enters and many cave drawings about the ancient wars and the mother boxes are revealed to her. And this is where she finds out about Darkseid. All this scene never showed up in the theatrical cut and the audience thought perhaps Diana knew all this a long time ago while informing about the incoming war to Bruce. But the importance is that this scene gives a lot of weight to the development of Diana’s character.

One major of many improvements was the revival of Cyborg’s importance to this film. The old version gave Cyborg so few minutes that his significance in the team looked almost secondary but Snyder Cut propels the understanding that this fight with Steppenwolf and his army cannot be won without Cyborg at all. I am astonished by the fact that the heroes carried ‘almost’ the same weight as Batman and Wonder Woman. Barry and Arthur had their own heroics to save the day.

A needless element that was respectfully removed in the restoration of our faith in the JL project was discarding most of the forced humor. There was no joke about Bruce asking Arthur if he talks to fish, no Arthur confession to Diana on the lasso, no Batman fall from the height after Superman flies taking Lois with him, no comparisons of Flash rescuing a family in the car to Superman lifting and flying the entire building, no silly nonsense at all. The light humor was set only on Barry which was acceptable due to his fun-nature and being the youngest in the team.

Special praise to Zack Snyder for directing the ancient war that was fought 5000 years ago between Darkseid and his legion against a unified alliance of Atlanteans, Amazons, Olympian Gods, and the defenders of the earth that had so many historic legends like Britishers from the Middle-Age, the Mongols, Muslim warriors from ‘perhaps’ the times of Ghaznavid or Mughal empires. I think Zack got this idea of war from George Perez‘s comic book miniseries, War Of The Gods.

The epilogue part is the one that has new fresh scenes since Zack Snyder broke the news. In a very dystopian setup, Batman forms a team to take on evil-Superman and gives more details about this crazy adventure that surely looks like are the developments for the JL sequel (if announced).

Plus/Minus

The biggest accomplishment of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is that just like the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman fixed the plotholes of its theatrical cut, it has also fixed the puzzles and made the audience understand what looked like terrible mysteries, or the questions that went unanswered. The foundation of this universe and the creation of this team is now eventually acceptable. And just like BvS, we all audience once again will wish if this Snyder Cut was released four years ago, would have done wonders on the box-office and this DCEU would have been right on track.

There are ‘minor’ negative points but not blunders at all. For example, Wonder Woman’s new theme is needlessly overused. Then, in the ancient war, only one Green Lantern, Yalan Gur, shows up. Only one? How come the Guardians in Oa sends only one representative to fight this war?

And technically, just an opinion of a film critic no matter how much I loved this film on a personal note, this film achieves less. The motive behind making and releasing this film is to make the audience watch what was supposed to release in the theatres in the first place. The motive is to fix the plotholes and make the story understandable and convincing as it should have been a long time ago.

But from the very same perception of making this film, Zack Snyder’s film successfully develops the characters, most importantly Cyborg. The film directly connects with all the major films pretty well. With more screentime, the audience is mesmerized with more action and more sub-plots. Fabian Wagner’s cinematography and the new score by Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) attracts the screenwriting. Visual effects are stunning. Thank God, the red sky in the final battle changed. 

Will Justice League Gets Its Sequel?

Does the film hold the future for further continuity or if this is the end of Snyderverse? This is a big question but not a mystery to me. Warner Bros. has no plans to let Zack Snyder carry the torch but the success of this film can manipulate or shall I say reverse the decision. The film ends with an extremely enormous cliffhanger and the plot concludes raising a lot of questions that have been risen in the epilogue.

WB has to release future DCEU films like sequels of Shazam, Aquaman, and Suicide Squad. The Flash is a very important film to happen as I wrote above. So I think, the time is right for the authorities to reconsider the future of JL films. It is time to learn from the gravest mistakes WB has made in the past and execute better plans. There is no way the continuity from Snyder Cut will go uncertain. If a less-important project of this universe like Suicide Squad can get a sequel, if a needless film like Birds Of Prey can happen then I see no reason how Zack Snyder cannot get the chance to work on the sequel. After all, JL is the most important of all events.

How Will The JL Story Continue?

I think the Knightmare scene and The Flash warning Bruce from the future and then the scenes from Epilogue are all deconstructive parts of JL’s sequel. After Steppenwolf dies, Darkseid tells Desaad to ready the armada and use the old ways because anti-life is found. So what I am believing is that Darkseid will arrive with his legion to the surface where the anti-life equation exists and will kill Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. By killing Lois, Darkseid will manipulate Superman and appoint him his deputy in Steppenwolf’s place by anti-life. Darkseid will guide Superman to the wrong path and fill his ears with lies that his Lois died because of Bruce Wayne.

Yes, Darkseid will know Batman’s identity because Steppenwolf will have informed his lord about the leak as Steppenwolf must have definitely been informed by none other than Lex Luthor when he met him in Superman’s spaceship. If Lex can inform Deathstroke, then why not Steppenwolf?

Batman will form a team comprised of Cyborg, The Flash, Mera, Joker, and Deathstroke to save the world. How come Deathstroke joins Batman? Maybe we come to know in the sequel but it is not as crazy as observing Joker in Batman’s team. While fighting, the parademons will capture Batman and send him to Superman. With the arrival of Superman in one of the caves where Batman is imprisoned, his mercenaries will bow to him. Within a few steps, Superman will kill his teammates by heat vision who are most likely to be Deathstroke, Mera, Joker, Cyborg but not Barry. Superman will take off Batman’s cowl and tell that Lois was his world and he took her from him and will eventually kill him. The cowl will be in his hand while he is in the air with omega-sign behind him. Barry will again use the speed force and run back in time to alert Bruce in the past and alarm him that Lois is the key and find them. While running back in time, he may enter the multiverse and may meet other Batmen, most importantly Michael Keaton‘s Batman. In this way, The Flash becomes an important film if it really builds the story in continuity on Flashpoint storyline. Yeah, this all sounds pretty crazy but this is just my theory of how I see this all developing. Who knows, only time will tell. For this moment, all I can say is “Thank You, Zack Snyder”.

Ratings: 8.8/10

Note: Most of the sources of the images in this blog are inserted in the images. A few images with no source indicate my screenshots.

Film Review: Joker (2019)


“You don’t listen, do you? I don’t think you ever really hear me. You just ask the same questions every week. How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts? All I have are negative thoughts. But you don’t listen. I said, for my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.”


You know it is extremely difficult to write a review of Joker and sum up the presentation of Joker’s character. It cannot be explained in a few sentences or paras. It depends on how you judge the film and how better you can translate your opinion into words. I will try.

See, Joker, the archnemesis of Batman is reimagined out of the comic books and all those 80 years of the remarkable writings. You don’t have to follow or compare it with the comic pages. The understanding is that how one director understands human psychology and observes Joker as a human. Full marks to Warner Bros. for picking a very interesting name who I never imagined to direct about Joker – Todd Phillips. Amongst all the directors, alive or dead, if I am asked about the most fitting director who can do justice with Joker, it has to be Stanley Kubrick.

Many Gothamites will realize that most of Batman’s villains are mental and they all have their issues which we don’t follow because who wants to know about the villains. They are bad people, right? We only care about h.e.r.o.e.s. because they are good people and they are always right, they are angels, they are Godly people to serve humans. Bad people are evil, right?

But the provoking part is why villains choose this path? Why villains feel glad to make people suffer? Why Joker is so evil? He is one villain who has put Batman to the most difficult tests to the most extreme lengths than anyone in Gotham.


“I think I felt better when I was locked up in the hospital.″


Arthur Fleck, a failed comedian, a bullied, a society-reject, majorly ignored, mocked and an isolated Gothamite who suffers PBA and is bound to take care of the only person who is cordially associated with him – his ailing old mother.

Like I described before, this film is completely out of comic book pages about Gotham and the related characters. For me, Fleck is an assumption about his becoming Joker. Todd Phillips focuses on how the human loses his/her sanity in difficult circumstances and unfortunately makes him/her evil to society? How does he or she become a menace or a reckoning? Anyone of us can become Arthur Fleck in the given circumstances but only a few of them, unfortunately, turn to the wrong side of humanity and become a ‘problem’ for the society who were ‘victim’ in the past.


“I Hope My Death Makes More Cents Than My Life.”


Joaquin Phoenix‘s entire body language in the film needs to enter the case studies and lectures in the medical and educational institutions. How is someone so talented to describe the emotional fluctuations and reflex/nerve behaviors. Look at him when he tries to avoid those episodes of laughs on the bus, at the office, and in the stand-up comedy show. Observe his almost nervous breakdown when the boss warns him, or when he paces his feet to shoot the last culprit outside the station.

And then the iconic moment of Joker’s stair dance at West 167th Street at The Bronx was, I believe, much-needed breathing in Fleck’s terrible life. It aired freedom from all the sufferings. That is why that scene was so important. That scene has made that site a regular visiting spot.


“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a f**king comedy.”


So who played a better Joker? Ledger or Phoenix? I think it is a tie and on a different note, the roles cannot be compared. Both versions of Joker were interestingly not comic-based. One was created from Nolan’s imagination, the other from Todd’s. Fleck’s one is Joker’s sorry past reaching to the initial phase of his crime career as Joker, Ledger’s is the existing Joker at his crime peak. So both roles are excellent in different BATverses.

I still believe there was room for improvement in the plot writing especially in the final 30 minutes. But I think the story has met its ultimate ending and there is no need to bring the sequel.

Joker is an outstanding standalone film. I will count Joker amongst the best films which were fully centralized on the major character like Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver, Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, Tom Hanks in Cast AwayAdrien Brody in The Pianist, and a few more.

Not aware of the outstanding male performances of this year but if Phoenix again misses the Oscar,

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?”

Ratings: 8.8/10

Dazed and Confused

GLOBAL MUSLIMS

“Saudi Arabia! Learn from UAE. See how they improve their living standard, enhance opportunities, provide social entertainment, invest money in public interests and recreation activities. When will you join the other countries this millennium? You don’t even let women drive on the roads. How backward you are? Grow up!”

SAUDI ARABIA

“Alright alright! We will allow women to drive but will allow them to drive by next year because we have to establish driving facilities for the women and train them first. Also, we will try our best to adopt general measures to avoid traffic accidents. We will further allow women to work in the shops and offices, even on stalls, fairs and as cashier too.
Let’s add some entertainment for your amusement. We will decide to bring WWE wrestlers including John Cena and Big Show for your best luxury because most of you are fond of wrestling. But our sincere apologies, we will not add wrestling divas, we cannot go that far. I hope you understand.


In addition, considering your enthusiasm in comics, we will plan to stage a globally recognized international convention like Comic-Con. No no no you can wear costumes and fashion accessories in love of your favorite characters. Yes, you can become cosplayers. And don’t worry, we will invite well-known celebrities who will mesmerize you all. You will have the moment to meet and greet them, shake hand and even take a selfie with them. 
This is just a beginning, and we do realize how music has been a significant part of our culture. So we will treat our locals to listen and watch the performance of their favorite, Mohammad Abdu, to your cities. We will experiment some other musical interest in the future. How about Jazz music? We can organize that for you in an industrial city. And how about inviting the world-famous musicians? We can start from Yanni and bring the musical phenomena of team Yanni near to your cities. Why not? We can bring him and his team.


Indeed all you people are fond of watching the Western and Arab films but do you know that our Saudi people are not behind of cinematic talent. There are many talented filmmakers and actors. We shall consider organizing film festivals and bring theatres close to you.

We never focused on attracting tourists to enrich our history and culture before. Like other countries, we are not behind in attracting the tourists and we will earn the global reputation. We do realize there are numerous sites which can attract millions of visitors. Let’s work on few of these. We will invest heavy money in such places. If things work as per the plan we will begin issuing tourist visas too. Just wait and see.”

GLOBAL MUSLIMS

“Astaghfirullah bro! How can you allow women to drive the car? This will bring fitna and raise the opportunity for gender mixing. The woman will have every chance to drive by herself all alone which will lead the men’s society to stare her and raise concerns about the reasons for her driving.

She will be at ease to hang out with other girls (or maybe boys) and walk on the streets like stray dogs.

Students at Effat Women’s University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2009; photograph by Olivia Arthur from her 2012 book, Jeddah Diary

No need to let them step out of home for huh work? Why does she want to work when her brother, father, and husband is earning? What could be the reason for going out for ‘work’? And what kind of ‘work’ does she want to do? They should stay at home, learn to cook food, produce offsprings, teach their children and obey every word what her husband or parent wishes or commands.
How can you consider inviting kuffar and their inventions to the holy country? Wrestling discourages peace and encourages viewers to fight. So what if you didn’t invite wrestling divas due to the obvious reasons as hellfire is already approved on them, the male wrestlers also promote nudity and shamelessness.


Comic books lead the readers towards mental illness and make them think and develop a theory that superheroes actually exist. By believing the fictional heroes, they will stop believing in our beloved messengers, their message and the true warriors of Islam. Do you know there are nauzubillah (I seek refuge in Allah) so many Gods in comics? How can you let them wear improper dresses and make them shake hands of the famous kuffar people? May Allah guide you.


Music? The voice of Shaitan? The world is near to end. Oh, Muslim Ummah! Do you know you are fulfilling the needs of Western countries? Do you know you are inviting evil by encouraging people to listen to their music? Seems like you have lost your credibility as a Muslim country.


You should realize that they are enemies of Islam and by investing your money in advertising their culture and fashion, we will be manipulated and one day they will occupy our holy land. They will marry our Muslim women and produce offsprings who will tweet/retweet their false religion. Auzubillah Auzubillah. May Allah have mercy and guide you to the right path. Amen.”

 

SAUDI ARABIA

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