Tag Archives: The Dark Knight Trilogy

TV Review: The Sandman

STORY

To those who are new to this Sandman world, the one fact you need to understand about this drama and comic book story of The Sandman is that the story is about a dysfunctional family called ‘The Endless‘. And they are seven siblings in different forms. And they are Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, and Dream.

‘The Sandman’ centrally focuses on Lord Morpheus, the ruler of Dreaming and the king of dreams. One day, he is captured by the occultist Roderick Burgress and is imprisoned for more than a hundred years until he gets a chance to escape and return. But when he returns to Dreaming, he witnesses it in a terrible state. Along with his only remaining loyalist and librarian Lucienne, Morpheus travels to different worlds and timelines to restore order to his kingdom, clean the mess and fix the chaos that occurred in his long absence.


PRODUCTION

After decades of pulling attempts to come up with a perfect project to execute for either film or television for one of the most acclaimed comics of all time, Netflix eventually succeeds in shaping the best possible adaptation the global audience would have ever demanded. The show has its flaws but the most important valuation to observe is the graphic detailing and writing of one of the most complex comic book stories.

The show is handled with care by some influential writers of the film and comics. Allan Heinberg is well-known for Young Avengers and JLA series while David S. Goyer is widely acclaimed for writing the Blade and Dark Knight trilogies and co. writing Call of Duty video games. The main showrunner is Neil Gaiman, the writer, and creator of The Sandman. So when the God of this universe is running this show, then there is neither a question nor disapproval about dramatizing his creation.

I am usually against taking liberty from the major elements of the original writing that includes the fundamentals of the characters. But at the same time if the author or the creator doesn’t object or holds the creative control of the film or tv show based on his/her own writing, then even if I find the changes to be in the wrong direction, I find no reason to object because the creator himself/herself is the control head and approves the developments.


PLUSSES

There were many reasons that established the theory or a prediction that ‘The Sandman’ will be praised and accepted once it is released on Netflix. One reason is that the original work has a massive following. Then, as mentioned above, Neil Gaiman himself is the showrunner so whoever the director he chooses to execute their writings, he knows the job is done with satisfaction.

Another plus is the extraordinary production budget that is quite understood after the viewers have enjoyed the luxury of watching some stunning visuals. And then the casting is excellent. Tom Sturridge as Dream and Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian are examples of accurate picks. Even for supporting but important roles, very well-known actors like Charles Dance, David Thewlis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Fry, Souad Faress, Nina Wadia, Gwendoline Christie, Meera Syal, and Jenna Coleman make rounds in a few episodes. If that wasn’t enough, we heard memorable voices of Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead too.

The continuity of the screenplay is intrigued with a thoughtful and metaphorical portion of understanding some dark elements of life. The episode with Dream’s sister Death is very touching and upsetting but is also my favorite of the show. A kind of perception in which a human is made aware of his/her death by the angel that begins with contacting them and communicating. The whole process is so well dramatized.

This is followed by Dream reminiscing about his centuries-old friendship with Hob Gadling when he grants a customer’s will to live forever back in the 14th century and keeps meeting him once every hundred years in the same bar. This idea touched me and began to question myself, what if time travel was ever true? What if all of us could travel to any timeline, meet random people, speak to them in different centuries, just like that. Those who are deeply concerned about dreams like me will agree to me that dreamers deserve to have a companion or a truly loyal friend in his/her dream. Such an idea can only exist in dreams and Lord Morpheus, the king of dreams, is the key to all this stretch.

Then there is Doctor Destiny‘s dystopian take on the human race circulating their lives around truths and lies that he tests at a diner. That whole episode is superbly stretched to make his point.


MINUSES

A few portions of writing and aesthetics are not to my satisfaction. Netflix with its cult application of political correctness makes the entire dramatizing of the original writing an agenda to moralize forced inclusivity. Although the creator Neil Gaiman has no objection at all, but this is not the first time at all. The direction clearly indicates making many characters homosexual has a purpose. I am not against this form of diversity, I support it, but there should be a method of addressing it through the story instead of dramatizing it like a protest.

Amongst all the characters, the one actor that I am not convinced of selection is Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Because she looked more angelic than the devil in the role. If the showrunners were adamant to go for a female Lucifer then they should have picked an actress with a lot darker persona. A female Lucifer had to be someone with more devil or gothic vibes. Any of Eva Green, Krysten Ritter, Cate Blanchett, or Helena Bonham Carter would have made superb Lucifer.


COMIC ADAPTATION

This is actually another ‘PLUS’ element but I want to address it separately due to a broad detailing a comic geek can speak and emphasize. We comic book readers generally have been raising this matter for a couple of decades that a television show or a film usually doesn’t do justice while translating the comic pages into this medium.

Because it is hard to deliver the same impact to the viewers that the readers had when they read that all. And it is admirable to observe how ‘The Sandman’ successfully developed a lot of moments from the graphic issues. And at some scenes, even the whole dialogue of a few particular scenes is delivered in the same way.

I wonder how every Sandman reader would have reacted when Death showed up to Dream followed by a conversation when they were sitting together.

Or when John Dee was thanked.

In a very interesting sequence, imprisoned former queen of the First People, Nada briefly appears whose eyes catch Dream’s figure passing from her prison and calls him Kai’ckul. The whole scene is pictured in the comics and will definitely proceed in the second season as showrunner Allen Heinberg has confirmed to one of the sources.

The terrible state of the Dreaming after Lord Morpheus returns is all accurately depicted.

Desire’s tall naked statue Threshold, the fortress of Desire is taken from the beginning of the second volume, The Doll’s House.

Dream’s centuries-old friendship with Hobb Gadling was well translated from the pages. The entire table-talk of centuries constitutes from issue#13.

The whole 24-hour diner episode happened in issue#6 called 24 Hours which is considered one of the darkest and the most horrific tales in comics history.

The whole Dream vs Lucifer challenge is well dramatized. In fact, comics had a lengthier challenge if I am not mistaken.

Dream’s meeting with ‘The Three‘ had a darker portrayal than comics.

Dream and Corinthian face-off exactly happened in the convention just like issue#14.

Even Corinthian stabbing Dream’s palm was covered.

Gilbert getting scared of Corinthian was different in the show. He actually lost his stature when Corinthian joins him in the elevator.


CLOSING REMARKS

There is so much to talk about ‘The Sandman’. But I hope the quality that the showrunners have settled the story in and the aesthetics that has mesmerized us audience shall be maintained for the future.

I am hoping that the show must be stretched to at least five seasons to cover all the aspects and elements of the writing. The Sandman is the best adapted comic book-based television show that I have watched. I recommend all the viewers who loved the show, to read the original content.

The Sandman is a 75-issue storyline that was written in seven years. This was followed by many spin-offs and Neil Gaiman wrote a few of them. But ‘Overture‘ and ‘The Dream Hunters‘ are those that must be read. Especially, Overture because it is the prequel of the entire Sandman story.

To those, who are very interested to watch a fantasy drama, The Sandman is currently the best I can think of to recommend.

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

Justice League – Film Review & The Ultimate Case

Justice League film is not the ideal assembling of the greatest superheroes team for scores of reasons. Because the continuity of the universe is faltered from here and makes you feel if the other powerful substance stole the power from the God of this DC cinematic universe and in the process, claims to be God. When the universe is in the process of perpetuation, make your mind how to maintain and execute the project. The planning of the infrastructure of the universe should be done even before the beginning of this all Project: DCU.

In short: “If the God is making silly mistakes, do not blame the universe.

ONE LITRE OF WATER IN A GLASS?!?!

Superman is dead. Steppenwolf, Darkseid‘s uncle, has threatened the world to destroy the earth by stealing the three Mother Boxes he once stole and then lost in a prodigious battle to a unified army of the Amazons, Atlanteans, Olympian Gods, and Green Lantern Corps (I also have doubt that Thanagarians were involved too). With all the Mother Boxes with Steppenwolf, Batman creates a team of metahumans to honour Superman and fight against Steppenwolf and his military of Parademons.

This all sounds a pretty impressive plotline on paper but this all doesn’t fit in a universe whose existence is in a premature state. This is like some kind of sports shaping into the invention and is further announced for a global competition and in a few days, a team is created from nowhere to participate and win the jackpot. Yes, that last sentence didn’t make any sense. And that is my explanation about the fate of this DC Universe.

The audience knows nothing about these metahumans, Barry Allen aka The Flash, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman, and Victor Stone aka Cyborg, nor do they touch their origins. They are just contacted by the team leader and asked for help! Their becoming superheroes are just concerned in the dialogues which are not enough. And with the space of hardly two hours of the screen time, the film is a source of confusion and running a 100-metre sprint race without firing a starter pistol, just like Suicide Squad.

JL film creates a colossal issue of hows and whys of the universe. Many questions are to be raised by the audience especially the one who has never known this superhero team but wants to know. Why is Barry’s father in prison? How did Victor die before he became Cyborg? What’s this conversation of Mera and Arthur about? All the answers to these questions are in the dialogues which are not enough. You cannot explain and present the entire hows and whys in mere two hours. And with shortening or cutting the screen time of the film by almost 50 minutes, the filmmakers ask you to stop thinking that much and focus on the what-the-hell continuity.

MAN OF STEEL RETURNS

Now Superman’s return. From the release of Batman v Superman to Justice League, a lot of opinions and theories were established. Many questions were raised. Should Superman return? If so, then how? Why? Exactly when? Of course, the creation of a superhero team without him is impractical. The return was certain but to wait how long? 21 months? He died in one film and returns in the next. It all happened in haste but why so hurried? What train are the executives missing?

Superman’s return as many stated one of the best scenes, didn’t impress me, to be honest. First of all, the idea of his return itself is not so spectacular. Using the Mother Box to resurrect his body is not a wow! to me. This is not an ideal return. Imagine where does this resurrection nonsense stand in front of the comics storyline in the making of his return after his death while fighting Doomsday, nowhere!

Once he returns from the dead. He is confused and not at all alright. Fights his soon-to-be friends and before it is too late, enter Lois Lane to melt his anger and he flew with her to Smallville like what the actual f***! This scene is even worse and illogical than Martha one.

Yes, Superman not included in the marketing campaign was a wise idea as it produced a spectacular wait for the release of the film and watch the grand revelation of his magnificent return but his return was nonsensical. And what about Bruce’s Knightmare sequence in BvS? What was that all about if Clark had to return this way? Barry eventually was right that Lois is the key and she is the one who brought Clark back to his consciousness but I am not convinced that this was the motive behind the Knightmare sequence. Will this confusion be cleared in the Flashpoint film? Because I am not understanding when did Barry go and warn Bruce?

If Superman is returning, so is Clark. Superman’s return may be understood by the world but what about Clark? How is he back? Why are people in the surroundings not surprised? Hopefully, these questions may be responded in the sequel of Man Of Steel.

ISSUES AND TISSUES

Barry, in his own words, is afraid of guns and murder, and obnoxiously tall people. And he has never done battle. Victor, on the other hand, is new to the language on his head which he doesn’t understand and fresh of becoming some robot who is not aware of his powers which he is getting every morning. A shaky beginning of such metahumans who are put into a team to fight against the global threat. They haven’t proved their worth in their cities, Cyborg is hiding after his father’s experiment on his son’s dead body while Barry hasn’t even joined CCPD, but they are recruited to save the world from Steppenwolf.

CGI of Steppenwolf is very different and looks less-threatened to a Steppenwolf the filmmakers showed in a cameo in BvS. I have no idea how and why his face is so changed in a time period of two films but is easily the worst supervillain offered by the DCU so far. Even Doomsday or Zod looked more threatening than him. With the return of Superman, Steppenwolf is so easily defeated that gives a furthermore wrong impression about his threat. This was the same monster who with his army was fighting against a unified team in the beginning. How on earth is the normal mind to accept the fact that this killing beast Steppenwolf who was stopped with the collective efforts of the ancient Gods, Amazonians, Atlanteans, and Lanterns was manhandled by Superman alone? For Superman, he was such a piece of cake that he smashed him, then he went to save the civilians, raced with Barry, returned back and asked his teammates if he was still bothering them and resumed the beatings like if Steppenwolf was ever bullied by Superman back in the college before! This was so so wrong! Who was writing this part? Joss, was that you?

Aquaman’s first appearance in the film is so ordinary. His first appearance could easily have been where he saves a man in the boat. His character in the film is very underdeveloped. It is just a Jason Momoa show, not Aquaman. Although I liked the father-son conversation between the Stones but overall Cyborg was average. The excellence of Wonder Woman continues from where she left in the previous instalment and in fact, she further impresses with her leadership qualities. Her relation with Bruce was one of the positive points of the film. Barry Allen is funny and his character is lighter than the one in the Arrowverse. Superman doesn’t have enough lines but I think his character has been more lighted than the previous two appearances. I am convinced with this decision. A slight change in his personality after the resurrection helps the environment of the DC films proceed in the same mode. 

I don’t know who was editing this film but it was a very unattractive start to the film with a camera recording Superman in one of the worst possible CGIs in an attempt of hiding his moustache. With such an enormous amount of money invested in this project, how possibly could CGI go that wrong? I wonder what made the makers think about keeping Superman clean shaved. In the comics, he did grow the beard. Speaking of the opening, in my opinion, the film could have its super blockbuster opening if they had shown that Steppenwolf’s ancient war against the unified army as the opener. Imagine the film opening with Steppenwolf stealing the Mother Boxes and with his army of Parademons about to invade the earth and suddenly steps a unified army to stop the threat. A perfect 10-minute starter making the audience understand the significance of the Mother Boxes and also explaining why exactly a League of Justice must be established. And by the way, this fight sequence is the only time in the whole film which made me convince to be directed by Zack Snyder. One of the best scenes of the film sadly was hardly a minute of screen time.

JL film is lighter in tone. Yes, a lot of humour is added but few were unnecessary like Aquaman sitting on Lasso of Truth, The Flash’s That’s Rude scene, and Cyborg and The Flash digging Superman’s grave, yes they were digging. I mean there could have been many ways to bring out Superman’s dead body. If this was some comic reference or homage then pardon me.

The fighting sequences are impressive. I liked the teamwork the way the heroes are helping each other like The Flash helping WW pick her Sword of Athena or Superman and The Flash dividing their work in saving the civilians or Aquaman reaching at the nick of time and saving his new friends by lowering the water pressure through his Trident of Neptune in the tunnel of the Gotham Harbor (The Ten Commandments tribute, anyone?).

COMICS EASTER EGGS & REFERENCES

Like all the DCU films, JL also has honoured some notable comic book references and dropped some easter eggs. The one obvious is the race between The Flash and Superman which happened twice in the film. This comic tradition of the race between the two speedsters has been presented many times in different mediums but this all began in the 199th issue of Superman back in 1967. The idea was devised by the writer of this issue, Jim Shooter, and penciler, Curt Swan. At that time, Jim Shooter was only 16 years old.

Parademons are exactly the same from the comics. Crispus Allen appears for a scene with Commissioner Gordon discussing the drawing of the Parademon. Who knows if Crispus becomes the Spectre in the future just like in comics. As I mentioned before that Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle but this fact should not be confused if he is found later in the films that he isn’t his uncle because, in The New 52 version, he is just the general. This DCEU has been more based on The New 52 as you may notice the lineup of JL is exactly the same as New 52 comics. Cyborg replaced Martian Manhunter from the original work.

Bruce plans a headquarter for the JL which has to be the Hall Of Justice for sure. And further on, Diana adds the line “With room for more”, giving an obvious hint to have more superheroes in future to join the league. After winning the fight against Steppenwolf, Cyborg utters the word ‘Booyah’ which is not a comic reference but one of the most popular catchphrases Cyborg introduced in the Teen Titans cartoon. Barry’s Pet Sematary joke comes from Stephen King‘s novel and film with the same title.

A very important comics discovery was the Green Lantern fighting in that ancient war against Steppenwolf. That GL was none other than Yalan Gur. Check the comparisons in the pictures below. I screenshot the film sequence where, by few microseconds, the face is the clearest.

In comics, Yalan Gur abused his power and turned corrupt due to the fact his ring was then passed to Alan Scott who was the first character to bear the name, Green Lantern. Yalan Gur is killed by Steppenwolf in the sequence and so the ring leaves the finger and flies somewhere. Has the ring now passed to Alan Scott? Is Alan Scott the Green Lantern we are waiting for in the future films?

In the first meeting, when Bruce asks Barry about his powers, Barry in response is pretending and answers that he is skilled in learning sign language and gorilla language. That has to be quite obvious that Gorilla Grodd exists in the universe.

Batman standing on a skeletal gargoyle before meeting Commissioner Gordon is the tribute to the cover of the 682nd issue of Detective Comics. Cyborg’s body reconstruction with the help of Mother Box is from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee‘s Justice League: Origin. On this book, the animated film, Justice League: War was produced. Bruce riding a horse in quest of Arthur looks like one of the homages of Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns which Zack perhaps missed in BvS. Arthur sitting on Lasso of Truth may be another homage to the comics incident when Hal Jordan accidentally touched Lasso of Truth and spoke his soul out.

UNAPPEALING SCORE

DCEU films have been blessed with the impressive musical scores from Man of Steel to Wonder Woman. Even before this universe, Hans Zimmer gifted our ears the unforgettable work on The Dark Knight Trilogy. But this time, even the music department looked compromised. Danny Elfman‘s score was flat and very ordinary. It was supposed to be Junkie XL but was later decided to replace him with Danny. Yes, Danny is the one who produced the iconic Batman theme which was also used in Batman: The Animated Series but that doesn’t guarantee his producing another top-notch. Instead, he reused the famous themes of Batman and Superman, the result? Average response. Listen to his score straight after the credits when the burglars are about to rob the bank and you will realize how ugly his score sounded. Also, many of his scores will remind you of his work on Hulk. Removing Junkie from the project was a bad bad bad decision. No situation in the film gives you the feeling from the background score. The genuine score builds the mood of the audience and sets a proper tone. Take an example of the No Man’s Land Scene when Wonder Woman raises and presents herself to the world as the answer for the victory and confronts all the shots and bullets. This is what I am talking about. The score in that scene melts you and that is what I wanted in JL like all the previous DCEU films, some quality.

JUSTICE LEAGUE NEEDS JUSTICE

JL film is as expected a very early breakthrough which should have happened after the audience gets the awareness of the superheroes, their worlds, their origins and hows/whys of becoming a superhero. After all this, then the God of this universe should have dropped the bomb over their heads by bringing a monster, a threat, a disease, against whom they collectively fight together for a better cause.

If the box office collections are low and the response of the audience is negative, Warner Bros. is to be blamed. They should not involve themselves in the director’s vision and creativity nor should they decide what to cut from the film. After director Zack Snyder’s departure due to the family tragedy (strong rumours are that he was fired), WB hired Joss Whedon which was a massive blunder. Many scenes were reshot and further added $50m to the extraordinary budget of $250m. Then the Warner Bros. CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, cut the screen time to 1hr59m which is extremely short for a superhero film like JL which needed a heavy detailing about the heroes and their worlds.

Many important scenes are rumoured and reported to be cut from the theatrical release. Barry’s love interest Iris West and Arthur’s advisor Nuidis Vulko are not featuring in the film. Two of the Lanterns, Kilowog and Tomar-Re, were to meet Batman in his Batcave in one scene but that was scrapped. Film’s principal photographer has confirmed Superman wearing his iconic black suit which never happened. Some sources are claiming that Darkseid was to appear in the film which never happened. Plus, few scenes which were observed in the trailer never featured in the film which is quite strange. Most significantly the one in which someone showed up to Alfred in the trailer became a mystery to the viewers and began finding the answer who that superhero can be by zooming Alfred’s glasses and observing the colour. To that level of madness among the die-hard fans, the producers chose to scrap this scene, wow! Now that scene has been added as the deleted scene in the digital release. All the above-mentioned scenes would have helped the audience leaving the room with comfort.

WARNER BROS! DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

I have never understood this philosophy or ideology of cutting the screen length in the theatrical release. Warner Bros. decided to cut almost half an hour of BvS in the theatrical release and paid the price of making the film confused and misunderstood full of plotholes to the viewers. From here, I actually thought Warner Bros. will learn from their mistakes because later on, they hit their peak through Wonder Woman. But for JL they cut no less than 50 minutes which is an extraordinary length. The audience can watch a film with a running time more than three hours IF the film makes you understand things what the director wanted to. Just in case if you had not watched the ultimate edition of BvS, you would never know that how come Superman couldn’t detect the bomb in the court or Steppenwolf and Luthor did meet each other. Warner Bros. has to get rid of making the horrible decisions before the viewers begin taking less interest in their films.

Warner Bros. has to slow them down and stop competing against the Walt Disney Studio to match the standards where their Marvel Cinematic Universe today is. This is not how you assemble the team and expect praise from the audience. Stop being in haste and focus on making people understand your universe.

The reason why Wonder Woman worked both on the box office and praised by the critics and the audience was that Wonder Woman was produced to make the audience understand the superhero, realize why she exists, and why the world needs this woman. Same goes for the other metahumans. Instead of implementing a JL project, the God of this universe should have focused on introducing the metahumans in their own solo or origin films so that the audience would be convinced and understood their involvement to their world.

MCU’s approach was the perfect one, they had the right plan in both cinema and TV on assembling their heroes in a convincing way. But I guess Warner Bros. decided to innovate a different structure of explanation and presentation so that they can separate the ideology from the Walt Disney Studio. But how long can they keep them away from the MCU philosophy? Two of the DCU films did follow the trend of surprising the audience with the post or end credits, JL and Suicide Squad.

Status of Zack Snyder in this universe is now confusing. Is he really fired? Because according to IMDb, he is the announced producer of future DCEU projects. But in any case, losing him as a director is a major setback. In addition, Warner Bros. is adding way too many films on so many characters in the universe and most specifically from Gotham city which I find unnecessary. Instead of rushing with so many projects like films on Nightwing, Batgirl, Black Adam, Gotham City Sirens, Lobo, Harley Quinn, JL Dark and God knows what else, better they stabilize the DCEU structure and reconsider what and how exactly they want from this universe and how to continue it with improvements.

For the sake of DCU’s prosperity, increasing a universal fan-following, overwhelming responses from the critics, and boosting the commercial sales through the marketing campaign and merchandising, WB have to take immediate and effective steps before the universe collapses and becomes a laughing stock. Things have still not gone that down financially. Their each DCEU film has worldwide grossed at least $650m despite the negative reviews which is absolutely not bad at all. From DCEU, Warner Bros. has earned $3.7b from only 5 films which shows the worldwide fan-following of DC Comics are excited and not giving up at all! I am hoping for a decent turnaround and may they learn from their mistakes and make the fruitful but not dreadful decisions.

RATINGS: 5.5/10

Dawn Of Justice – The Ultimate Case (Part-2)

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This part will touch some more important issues and aspects related to the film Batman v Superman (BatSup). Before I begin, I must remind the readers here that this blog is continuity to the previous blog. So the first timers of the ultimate case here should first read the previous part here.

BEST SCENES

 

1) COLLAPSE OF WAYNE BUILDING

Although it was General Zod‘s wrath on Metropolis as Mr. False God tried to avoid as many casualties as he can but it was too late and severe was the collateral damage. One of the damages perforated the owner and made his mind to save the entire human race from the culprit even if there was a 1% chance. The visual presentation of the collapse was intense and powerful. And the collapse was where the rivalry came to birth. Scenes after the collapse will remind the comic readers the story-lines, Batman: Cataclysm and Batman: Aftershock.

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2) GRANNY’S PEACH TEA

No matter how bad was Shah Rukh as Lex Luthor, he did a cruel favor to Senator Finch and viewers by teaching a very expensive lesson. The court hearings abruptly paused by the scared Senator when she witnessed the jar. To the standards of a deceiving villain, this was unpredictably more than a cruel punishment. Luthor played an astonishing strategy behind the scenes and successfully manipulated much of the outsiders of court to gash more hatred towards a False God.

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3) BRUCE WAYNE’S WORKOUT

The Batman of 40s cannot offer you much of the 127 styles of martial arts he learnt in young age in his prime fighting career but he performed impressive workouts which was highly necessary to present.

4) THE GLADIATOR MATCH

This was the match written in the clouds. As Lex played the role of Michael Buffer by announcing and adding more spice by billing the fight as God versus Man, Day versus Night, Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham, this created more intensity. Result? I found a much heavenly comfort to see the fight between the iconic heroes and that turned out to be jubilant. The fight surpassed my expectations. This is exactly what we all needed. Plus the glimpse of fight is somewhere similar to the writings of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. One cannot ask for a better fight between God and man than this.

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5) ARRIVAL OF WONDER WOMAN

As much as Lex proved an overacting jester to me, his creation shattered the level of curiosity to know him. Doomsday was Lex’s answer to destroy the MOS. The battle was deadly but it was more like a hard struggle of lowering down the sound knob of stereo system when it is the loudest when you are very far and your parents are about to enter home.

Anyhow the battle met its peak at the sudden arrival of Wonder Woman who as Diana Prince was walking hither and thither before. I would say the flow of that battle action sequence was so deep to me that I couldn’t realize that the one who saved poor Batman’s ass from Doom-Doom wouldn’t be the recharge Superman on the space but her. Wonder Woman theme was very impressive but the intro of WW was far better than the other two heroes in the film.

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WHY BATSUP DIDN’T COME UP TO THE EXPECTATION?

 

1) DEADPOOL

Not many have noticed and tried to analyze as what exactly made the response of general public so negative. What deceived them? Why did the film with so many promises become unacceptable? In my view, the first reason was the funny guy in the red suit. Deadpool was released a month prior to BatSup. Being r-rated, Deadpool wasn’t a huge threat to the film’s business as Captain America: Civil War which was released after it. But Deadpool the superhero and Deadpool the film met an unexpected universal appraisal.

Contrary to philosophy and filmmaking of DCs, Deadpool was a highly entertaining popcorn grabbing comedy film which won heart of all age of viewers turning the tables wrong on the producers of BatSup who were prepared to show a very dark humorless presentation of the film a month later. Being the highest grossing r-rated film, such success built uninsured change in emotions among the viewers in tatters as the overjoyed viewers of Deadpool fell in their graves in the theaters to find the film awful. Naturally it was like watching any Terrence Malick film after any of Frat Pack films.

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2) UNDERSTANDING A UNIVERSE DIFFERENT THAN MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

Being a DC Comics lover, I have a lot of respect for Marvel comics as both the giant comics publishing companies created the most loving superheroes in the golden age for generations. But what hurts me is such a powerful cinematic universe of Marvel are more inclined towards box office collections than the character development of their superheroes. Filmmakers in MCU produce popcorn grabbing circus films where the focus is on winning hearts of the viewers by entertaining them. The producers are more focused on eating peanuts in circus rather than reading to us Marvel’s best comics stories. They make their superheroes jesters in the court. We see superheroes performing slapstick, acting silly and speaking one-liners. Films like Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Age of Ultron were all funny films. Recently released Captain America: Civil War made a mockery of all involved major superheroes fighting in airport and joking/apologizing while punching each other.

As Marvel Studios were the first among the comics publishing companies to create a cinematic universe with the help of Walt Disney Studios, it became acceptable for viewers to recognize the films based on Marvel superheroes as the true comics cinematic industry. There was no competition in years as WB were focused on Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Trilogy. When The Dark Knight Rises was released,  MCU were concluding their first phase. This year with the release of BatSup, MCU have entered in their 3rd phase.

Many of the DC superheroes are not that universally recognized as Batman and Superman. Even the third hero of trinity who is Wonder Woman never got a single film before this in 75 years, so is the case with other heroes. So for the viewers, it will take time to understand the existence and culture of this universe and its heroes, and their powers and villains. It is pretty hard to expect their heroes to be as funny and perform slapstick as heroes existing in Marvel universe.

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3) IMPROPER CONSTRUCTION OF DCEU

After announcing the birth of their cinematic universe rival to MCU, the biggest challenge for the big bosses of DC/WB was to create a distinguished, recognized but an acceptable universe. WB lacks no finance to fund the DC films but it was all about the best brain creating a perfect theory before forwarding a proposal. For me the outcome was very strange and questionable.

In Oct.2014, when WB announced 10 DC films to be produced and released between 2016 and 2020, it was a massive disappointment to see every JL superhero gifted a solo film but not Batman! (Superman had his MOS before all this)

Besides that, film for Green Lantern, being such a beloved superhero among the comic readers was adjusted last which gave a hint that he will be introduced to us pretty late. Shazam indeed is a potential name but wasn’t DC’s original property in first place. Shazam character was created under Fawcett Comics and ran the issues until the company shut down. In 1972, DC publisher licensed Shazam from Fawcett and revived.

Two JL films were slated in different future timelines, the first part being the fourth in line to release even before solo films on Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg with no proper introductions which brought more confusions to understand their strategy towards assembling a team of heroes so early and so undefined with underdeveloped characters.

The reason why the story of BatSup to the viewers in theater fell so incoherent was the very reason described in previous paragraph that for assembling a team in so near future, they made the film look overstuffed.

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4) BRINGING TWO ICONIC HEROES FACE-OFF TOO EARLY

Indeed historic announcement of bringing BatSup together at San Diego comic-con three years ago was crazy which made the attendees and viewers lose their mind in excitement. But some brains surely began thinking as what made them brought none other than Batman in to Superman’s world? Was that their only key to challenge or announce a new universe rival to them?

Bringing Batman meant connecting two different worlds in same film with more than one story. With recent conclusion of Nolan’s trilogy, reintroducing Batman in mere four years was too early. Producers needed some more breathing to watch a new Batman. Nolan’s and Zack’s Batman were very different, could have been better if he had been given his own standalone film first and later introduced him to MOS.

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5) RELEASED PG-13 THEATRICAL CUT

This was the major reason why the film received negative reviews by critics and general public. A 150-minute film released in March worldwide offered us a confused broken story-line making every viewer Sherlock to magnify and puzzle the broken pieces himself/herself. The editor who chose to cut no less than 30 minutes lacerated very very critical and defining moments of the film due to the fact, the critics and general public turned clueless and gave up.

Had the producers decided to release the 182-minute original cut in first place, the critics would have penned positive reviews and would also have made the percentage bar rise above in Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. The general viewers would accept and the box office collections would definitely hit a billion-dollar mark. Like I said before, I waited months and watched the original cut at first place, and I admit that this version meticulously made more sense than the released one, defined the core characters more broad and created a more cohesive transition.

ADDITIONAL FOOTAGES IN ULTIMATE EDITION

 

Like I wrote above that many of the important scenes were badly cut from the released version. Let me notify you the deleted scenes proving the laziness of WB for forwarding the film without pointing or realizing what a terrible mistake that was;

1) Jimmy Olsen wasn’t introduced in the beginning.

2) Superman wasn’t shown helping the rescuers pulling out dead bodies after the blast in court which after that he flew in disdain and left the scene with the witnesses sharing negative responses.

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3) The very next scene, Lex Luthor rushed to LexCorp only to spot a damaged glass-box with no kryptonite. It never showed the viewers that Lex Luthor had seen the footage from one of the CCTV cameras that Batman entered the LexCorp office and grabbed the element. Had they shown this scene in released version, would make sense for viewers how in the world the Caped Crusader got the Kryptonite.

4) Both scenes featuring Jenna Malone was cut from the released version which made the viewers pay a very heavy price of dislikeness. Malone played the scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, Jenet Klyburn, who has a couple of scenes in the film of sheer prominence. UE version clears that she is the one to whom Louis Lane hand over the bullet for scanning  which was shot and found in Africa.

In the other scene after the blast in court, it is again she who confirms that the same bullet and Wallace Keefe‘s wheelchair were made from the same metal and the inside of wheelchair was lined with lead. And we know Superman’s weakness that he can detect any solid object but not lead. Without this confirmation in released version, viewers would have raised the question how come Superman didn’t detect a bomb in the court.

5) The most important cut from the released version easily was the moment before the arrest of Lex Luthor which shows the upcoming JL villain Steppenwolf. His cameo before the arrest of Lex Luthor in UE was a very critical bombshell on the viewers after watching the whole film. WB will regret cutting this scene from the released version. An angry departure of his hologram existence after communicating with Lex Luthor raised questions. Was Lex aware of Steppenwolf’s existence even before he planned to take on Superman? Was Lex already in talks with him? Was creation of Doomsday idea of Lex or his? and many more. But in any case, his short appearance in ultimate edition made some sense of properly introducing the commander of parademons. The announcement of his being main villain was unnecessary if they had included this vital scene in released version.

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HOW DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE SHOULD HAVE BEEN CREATED AND PRESENTED?

 

Ok I know the existing universe will run as planned whatever the case is but I have every right to forward my idea of a better and acceptable universe than this. Because in first place, I disagree with the decided structure of this running cinematic universe due to the reasons I explained above in Improper Construction of DCEU.

I need no urgency or haste to play cat and mouse game in order to come close to Marvel and their universe. If WB would hand me this responsibility, I would prefer presenting origin stories of iconic heroes over a gladiator match and assembling of JL at the speed of light. My creation of universe will have phases (say Phase I, II, III and so on). For a better foundation, my pillars in Phase-I should be strong enough to hold the next phases.

My Phase-I will have 8 films, seven of these will be origins-based solo films for each original member of the JL. Those members are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. The reason of strictly picking these seven heroes for Phase-I is because when the first ever Justice League was assembled as JL or Justice League of America (JLA), the above-mentioned superheroes were assembled to appear in The Brave and the Bold (issue#28) back in 1960 conceived by writer Gardner Fox. With seven origins-based solo films, my eight and final Phase-I film will be a proper JL film where all the seven above-mentioned heroes will unite to fight against one of the main allies of Darkseid.

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This is the most simplest way to present a universe with more breathing in origins and character developments in superheroes each film. Just like MCU did for their first and the most impressive phase. By second and third phase, all seven superheroes can proceed to complete their trilogies with other films to introduce other potential superheroes like Green Arrow/Black Canary, Booster Gold/Blue Beetle, Shazam/Black Adam, Birds of Prey, Teen Titans, Supergirl, Hawkman/Hawkgirl, Lobo and many more.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FUTURE DC FILMS?

 

With 81% record drop in box office collections in second week, WB was hit by a meteorite with the most harsh responses and many of the viewers complained the film to be humorless. For the sake of excellent collections from future DC films, the producers are compromised to add humor in a dark universe and fulfill their demands, so that their eyes would meet a glimpse of a colorful circus show like the shows which are produced by Marvel studios. This is like a gunfire on an old pedestrian walking in a narrow street.

Some sources say that many scenes of upcoming Suicide Squad are re-shot for adding humor. Zack Snyder also has cleared that upcoming JL film will have a lighter tone than BatSup film. My expectations can raise the bar only if the upcoming films offer me potential stories and strong connectivity with storyline of other films keeping a balance between humor and dark. A serious story like BatSup cannot offer you humor but may entertain you once you understand the characters and their worlds.

For me, my major concern in future DC films is seducing me with dynamic presentation of stories where the directors properly focus on hero’s character development and nurture him/her with the flow. No matter the film is dark or funny, the director should use the influences and creativity of great comic writers and apply in their story, the winner must be the true portrayal of superhero and the audience should provide a positive response.

Roping and involving Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck for upcoming JL and Batman standalone films is a brilliant decision from WB. A creative team of comic-book consultants should be established under Johns who would have authority to raise their voice over the scripts and screenplays.

CONCLUSION

 

BatSup case is a mature affair with super-excellent work on screenplay and action sequences. The characters, Alfred and Lex Luthor, offer you to listen the best and powerful dialogues whereas performance-wise Ben Affleck as Batman is the true winner and his portrayal will remind you numerous Bruce Waynes from comic books. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Amy Adams as Lois Lane play tremendous supporting roles.

Henry Cavill as Superman is a dignified figure but not signified. He has been impressive but after finishing two superhero movies, I am still waiting for some signature mark on the character. He is yet to remind me Superman from the comic books as Christopher Reeve defined him in his time.

No wonder how many great actors have played the role of Alfred Pennyworth but none of them remind me the character I read in the comics. Not only the films, neither Alfred of Gotham TV show nor the one in the game Arkham Knight reminded me. Hans Zimmer (in his final superhero film) and Junkie XL produced very impressive scores. Zack’s favorite cinematographer Larry Fong has done terrific cinematography like previous Zack films.

I would like to humbly request all of you who have read such a lengthy review or to which I call an Ultimate Case, to kindly avoid/ignore the released version and consider it as a bad dream but give a favor to yourself and watch the Ultimate Edition. May the future DC films does Justice, Amen.

FILM RATINGS: 8.3/10

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @saminaik_asn

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Dawn Of Justice – The Ultimate Case (Part-1)

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My excitement towards the film began three years ago after release of Man Of Steel (MOS) when to a very huge surprise for comics readers, it was announced in San Diego Comic Con 2013 that two of the most iconic superheroes, Batman and Superman, will feature in same frame for the first time in cinematic format. The hint and hope of bringing Batman in Superman’s world was humming when Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer forwarded the idea to the Warner Bros. (WB) studio to bring back a Superman film. Both gentlemen were involved in The Dark Knight Trilogy as franchise’s director and writer respectively.

I will turn my head towards the proposed and finalized slate for DC Universe later. First thing first. The film was easily one of the most awaiting films of this year. Keeping in mind the decades-long rivalry among comics readers of two of the most recognized publishing companies, DC comics and Marvel comics, it was a huge test for WB to surpass all the expectations and make the new fictional comics universe look promising. Sadly the film couldn’t live up to the expectations and after a record collection on box office worldwide in first week, it suffered more than 80% drop in 2nd week resulting into failing to reach the rank of distinguished films of the elite three commas club.

Luckily I planned not to watch until the high-definition quality show up. Before the release, most of the critics unexpectedly passed extremely negative reviews. Then viewers heavily criticized the film for being too dark, humorless, lengthy, boring and many more. My honest believe was either the trailers of BatSup I watched were the most beautiful deception or the film’s message didn’t convey properly. When the news break out that the director’s cut will be releasing soon with additional footage of half an hour, then I made my mind to watch the ultimate edition straightly instead of the released version.

After watching directly an ultimate edition which was a three-hour film, I was at ease to say that it was much a defined film with many loose plot holes cleared. BatSup was pretty a mature affair on a well established script connecting with future DC films. The viewers must understand that as per the future plans of DC films shared universe, three aspects were taken into consideration while the film was shot;

1) Continuity from events of MOS

2) Batman taking on Superman after Metropolis attack

3) Foundation of Justice League (JL) by connecting the story with future DC Films

In all three cases, the running time of film was supposed to stretch at length so that it may offer you insiders for the coming busy years of the shared universe. At the same time, I feel sorry for viewers that they had to watch a released version of what looked like an incomplete film. My brothers pointed me the scenes which were cut from the released version which made me realize what a terrible mistake the producers made.

WHAT WENT WRONG???

 

1) UNIMPRESSIVE START

The film began with quite a traditional curtain openers presenting the name of film with cast and the rest which now often do not happen in big films. Plus beginning the film with Bruce Wayne’s origins was a bogus idea. Director Zack Snyder should have saved this moment exactly after that gladiator match when Superman speaks the name “Martha”. The film should have begun as depicted in the second scene that Bruce arrives Metropolis and struggles to rescue.

Also I have sympathies for Bruce whose parents come to the screen to get killed whenever they show up. His parents have more than that to offer in few Batman story-lines in comic books. Any of his parents’ moments with Bruce can be utilized in film and replace the scene with their murders because it has been repeated so many times that viewers are bored now.

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2) CASTING SHAH RUKH KHAN AS LEX LUTHOR

Among all the performances, the character which majorly disappointed me was Lex Luthor Jr., the role performed by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan. Could have been better if Jesse Eisenberg really have played the role as was planned. There was just too much overacting and Joker-esque phenomena which visually do not come up to villainthrophy. I tried my level best to take the character serious as his given dialogues were so powerful and because he IS the main villain and the creator of Doomsday. But I guess Zack misunderstood the character and made it look crazy and annoying.

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3) BATMAN – THE PUNISHER

Ben Affleck’ version of Batman, the suit, the batmobile, the batplane, the weapons.. every single thing was very very well up to the mark besides one thing which I found not of his combating nature anymore, KILLING!!! That is some bitter truth that Batman used to kill his enemies in the earliest comics and you won’t believe but in brutal ways. I remember he once flew batplane with a monster whose neck was hanging by the rope and threw it in flight when it died. Well later on Batman decided to follow no-killing rule on which he is persistent for long long time. There have been moments in comics when Batman could have lost his patience and killed someone. In Batman: Under The Hood story arc, when Jason Todd demanded to Batman to kill the Joker after the tragic event in Batman: A Death in the Family, this was the most emotional moment he could have changed his mind but he chose not to kill the Joker.

If intensity has raised such a bar to test Batman’s patience and made him stick with no-killing rule, I see no reason of killing 32 bad people in the film whatever the situation is. Killing is simply not his cup of tea.

4) “MARTHA” & INSTANT BESTIES

 I don’t have any idea whether Zack left the director’s chair and asked some amateur guy to conclude that epic fight or did he eeny meeny any of his alternative ideas of concluding the fight because this was the most ridiculous and embarrassing conclusion. This was not written on the clouds nor should Zack fool every viewer to make a fight turning into some B-grade parody.

Sup calling his adopted mother’s name to avoid killing from Bat Wayne was total nonsense. In few seconds, Bruce converted his enmity to friendship and even promised him that he won’t let his mother die, and later when Bat saved his mother, he gave a one-liner “I am a friend of your son’s” ffs!!!! This doesn’t make any logic!! This vacuous nonsense killed the viewer’s tempo and seriousness turned into laughing-stock. Director would have concluded this fight by more than hundred ways but not this.

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5) UNNECESSARY EXPOSURE IN MARKETING

Reaching to the hype the producers created by the announcement of the film, many theories and rumors developed on the internet about the possible plotlines. Some theories later turned true as it happens with many films. But quite an excitement hit a low with over exposures. As Lex’s creation was much in discussions, they dropped the bomb in their second trailer by exposing the Doomsday as his very creation. I had no issue in his revelation but the trailer had exposed too much the origin of its character.

The second blow was in the beginning of this year when Empire Magazine gave a huge spoiler of Omega symbol. That opened further doors for completing the puzzle, with same picture introduced in final trailer. Showing Parademons in trailers was also very unnecessary. The plotline became too predictable after that.

6) KILLING JIMMY OLSEN

For God sake why? Why in the world did you kill such a prominent character who is Superman’s best friend in comics? Character of Jimmy Olsen should have been utilized for a lot of supporting role between Daily Planet and Superman. His portrayal of a CIA operative was taken from Mark Millar‘s Superman: Red Son, the other comic book story-line than The Dark Knight Returns the story of the film is inspired from. Killing of Olsen in this universe is a huge loss.

MAJOR PLUSSES

 

1) COMICS REFERENCES & IMPORTANT CLUES

The most impressive aspect of the film was its tribute to few comic books. Many of the scenes, many many scenes were referred from comic book issues and this is exactly what should be done in all comics-based films.

The Dark Knight Returns:

> Murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents was exact from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Even the killer’s gun caught under Martha’s string of pearls was accurate. Another peak of accuracy was the timeline of tragedy in the film set in 1981 which naturally made two important things look realistic. One was that Young Bruce in the flashback was seven (Alfred confirmed us at the White Portuguese ship scene) making him born between 1974-75 which makes him in forties today, exactly as Bruce Wayne is presented. Second is the marquee of Excalibur in the flashback, keeping in mind the famous British film with the same title was released in the same year. Well done Zack!

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> Two cops checking some abandoned building near Gotham Seaport encountered the Caped Crusader and exchanged similar conversation as in the book.

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> Superman affected by the nuclear blast and recharging was also taken from the same book.

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> Batman bursting the wall to grab a bad guy and exchange of words were almost similar from the same book. The main difference was in comics he was saved a girl and in film, he saved hmm can I call her name Bruce?

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> The scene with lightning in the background after Batman saves his ass from Doomsday was homage to one of the most important comic covers.

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> In the last scene after Lois dropped handful of dirt on Superman’s coffin, it later floated or shall I say levitated will remind you the conclusion of the book with a different superhero.

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Others:

> The Flash sending message and warning Batman in Bruce’s dream was homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths where The Flash visits to several superheroes and warm them.

 

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> Don’t know if I am accurate here but I believe Lex’s insane repeat of “Ding, Ding, Ding” was the sound of Mother Box‘s “Ping, Ping, Ping” depicted in various comic issues.

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> Ralph Lister played the role of Dr. Emmett Vale who brought the hunk of Kryptonite found in the Indian Ocean to the lab of LexCorp. Dr. Emmett Vale is the creator of Metallo, the Kryptonite-hearted cyborg and also one of Superman’s dangerous villains.

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> Robin’s damaged suit in Batcave was a well-known tragic event of brutal killing of second Robin i.e., Jason Todd. Joker killed him in A Death In The Family.

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> When Doomsday fell back to Metropolis after nuke, he was dropped to uninhabited site called Stryker’s Island. This is a prison in Metropolis holding Superman’s most dangerous foes in comics. This place holds same importance to MOS as Arkham Asylum to the Caped Crusader.

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> Perry White spoke the line to Clark in Daily Planet office “It is not 1938”. 1938 was the birth-year in history of comics when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster introduced/launched Superman in first issue of Action Comics. This was a historic event which began the Golden Age of Comic Books.

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> This film will be remembered for ages for two most important reasons. The biggest obvious reason was bringing two iconic heroes together for the first time in a cinematic venture. The second was offering us viewers a cinematic look at DC Comics’ most unthinkable and unforgettable comic-books event, Doomsday and Superman killing each other. The event took place in story-line The Death of Superman when both titans ultimately punched each other, collapsed and died. Almost similar event occurred in the film when both the titans killed each other and collapsed at the same moment.

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> In Superman’s funeral, his coffin is black with silver ‘S’ reminding the return of Superman when he wore black suit with silver ‘S’ on it.

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> Superb Easter egg or shall I say a very unexpected bombshell!!! While the funeral of Superman was carried out, 5 military planes flew in the air to honor the deceased God. But one of the planes after few seconds flew straight up. That may be Dan Amboyer who in IMDb is listed as uncredited ‘Drone Pilot’. This scene gave a major hint that it could be none other than Amboyer with the role of pilot i.e., Hal Jordan a.k.a. Green Lantern, who paid the tribute and left the site.

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2) LOIS LANE’s CHARACTER PROMINENCE

That one supporting character which impressed me a lot was Amy Adam‘s Lois Lane. Zack gave her a shot more critical than her role in MOS. She was the one who washed the bad image or say ‘False God’ image of Superman, she was the one who found LexCorp corrupted. She got a lot of space to settle a case of corruption behind the curtains between Batman and Superman.

3) 9/11 AND US POLITICS

This was the original script presenting a plot somehow bringing the iconic heroes together but more than that there was a more human part involving politics and conspiracy theories. The collapse of Wayne Financial gave me a feeling of 9-11 event when twin towers collapsed. Theology and science compromised on Metropolis attack as the defense and security measures became a question mark.

Also when the film headed towards Africa where Lois Lane deal with the commander of Tuareg fighters, it offered to watch more involvement of US govt. African scenes brought a glimpse of insider of American invasion of Mali few years ago if I am not wrong!

The Godly figure i.e., Superman became a confused figure to whether classify him a good God or a bad God. Senate hearings and further attacks pushed towards more of viewers assumptions. I like the angle where the Metropolis attacks became a much concern of somehow bringing the saviors at one platform in future. 

4) FUTURE DC FILMS’ CONNECTIONS

Keeping in mind the BatSup film is foundation for future DC films, I would like to appreciate the director in connecting the story somehow with interesting shots. Zack had confirmed before the release that future films on other superheroes won’t be origin films, so he presented some glimpse of interesting events happening in other parts of universe mostly from JL film.

Batman has dreamed bad in comics and he dreamed twice in film. In first dream, he visited graves of his parents and noticed blood seeping out from Martha’s. The grave broke and out came a colony of bats. Then appeared a human looking bat. That could possibly be Dr. Kirk Langstorm a.k.a. Man-Bat which gave us a hint that the villain may possibly feature in future (could be in Batman standalone film). Those who have played Arkham Knight would know the villain.

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In another dream, Barry Allen appeared from a questionable timeline to warn Bruce about a possible threat from Superman and confirmed how correct he was. He specifically spoke about Lois and said “She is the key”. This scene is very possibly creating a bridge with the JL film to be released in Nov.2017.

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Another important scene connecting JL film was Batman visiting post-apokoliptic world. Batman witnessed Omega symbol on the ground which confirmed the existence of Darkseid and obvious involvement in future DC films. The flying creatures in that action sequence were Parademons which in comics are troops of planet Apokolips ruled by Darkseid. So fingers crossed on the precise location of this scene. We will come to know about this location in future whether Batman stepped in Apokolips or some land occupied by Darkseid and his troops. Now that Steppenwolf is confirmed the main villain of JL film, so there is possibility to see Darkseid very soon because he is Darkseid’s uncle.

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Stone father & son had an interesting cameo. Father Silas Stone used Mother Box to repair critical injuries and replaced lost body parts with mechanical limbs to his son Victor Stone a.k.a. Cyborg. Mother Box in comics is a portable supercomputer which posses powers and abilities. Now that the sources confirm that the major story dropping in JL film is Steppenwolf searching three Mother Boxes, which are located in Atlantis (Aquaman), Themyscira (Wonder Woman) and Earth. So the earth part is Cyborg’s for our understanding.

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WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ADDED???

 

1) THE JOKER KILLING JASON TODD

Where ultimate edition cleared a lot of misunderstandings and plot holes from the released version, they missed a very important scene to add which was the fate of Batman’s counterpart Jason Todd a.k.a. Robin. In Batman: A Death In The Family, The Joker killed Jason Todd which is one of the DC Comics’ most important events. The Joker played by Jared Leto will feature in Suicide Squad but would have been more than a favor to add the tragic event exactly when Bruce looked at the damaged suit. A couple of minutes on the tragic flashback was easily replaceable to uninspired story-telling daddy Kent scene which was easily the most useless scene of the film. Now the tragic event is expected to hit the screen in Suicide Squad beginning a new cinematic phase of Batman-Joker historic rivalry.

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2) GOTHAM CHARACTERS

As much as the viewers and journalists have called the film ‘overstuffed’ as well as the actor who played Alfred, Jeremy Irons, I would still pass a mark of appreciation towards the director in keeping some balance among the characters and story-lines connected with future DC films sharing the same universe.

In the meantime, I still believe that Gotham city didn’t get that exposure which was required in such a lengthy screen time. Alfred was the only recognized Gotham character supporting Bruce in the whole film as his parents were as usual killed again in couple of minutes. Lucius Fox is a potential character which the scriptwriters badly missed. With such remarkable work on Bat machines, Fox deserved to appear for couple of scenes. Also any member of the Gordon family should have been introduced.

(((Here I conclude the first part of my ultimate case towards the Dawn of Justice. The next and final part will be published very soon.)))

Follow me on Twitter @saminaik_asn

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