Superhero Snapshots

These are just some pictures I shot of the Justice League while practicing with my new Canon DSLR. Some are solo, some are with the animated movies released about them. Enjoy!

  
   
    
    
    
    
    
   

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Review: Self/Less

  

Directed by: Tarsem Singh

Written by: David Pastor & Alex Pastor

Billionaire Damien Hayes (Ben Kingsley) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is preparing his arrangements when he learns about a process called “shedding” in which his  consciousness is transferred into an artificially grown body. Hayes goes along with the procedure and his mind is swapped into a healthy body and now goes by the name Edward Hale (Ryan Reynolds).  

 Everything seems well as Hayes, now Hale relives the experiences of his youth by playing basketball and partying. Things change once he begins to not take his medication after the procedure and he begins to have hallucinations of a young woman and her daughter. This leads “Edward” on a journey to discover the truth about shedding and where did his new body actually come from.

I quite enjoyed myself with this film. The concept of body transfer isn’t new to science fiction, but it was nice to see it brought into some form of a real world setting. The film’s director Tarsem Singh, also directed the Jennifer Lopez thriller The Cell, a psychological thriller I felt was a tad bit underrated. So this type of movie is certainly in his wheelhouse. Stylistically, there isn’t too much to speak of on it. Nothing is terrible and nothing of note stands out. 

  
In the acting category, Ben Kingsley is passable. He just playing a billionaire who hasn’t spent much time with his family. A character archetype we have all seen a billion times. I actually like Reynolds in this. Since he isn’t playing someone who is a wisecracking smart ass, he conveys the seriousness of the scenario on his face quite well. I didn’t feel like I was simply watching Ryan Reynolds whereas I felt I was watching Ben Kingsley and not his character.

About halfway through, the film brings up an interesting ethical question in addition to the film’s core concept. Sadly, it’s not totally expanded upon, but simply used as part of the plot. By film’s end it becomes a standard action film with standard action sequences. Again nothing of note here, it just would have been cool to see the concept carried throughout.

I saw this as a double feature with Ant-Man earlier in the day and it was a nice change of pace film to end a night with. Self/less is a pretty decent science fiction thriller.

Final Rating(3/5) 

More DeaconsDen Reviews

Marvel’s Ant-Man

Mad Max Fury Road
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Terminator Genisys

Exclusive-ness

Picked up a few of the SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) exclusive Pops for the collection.
First up is the newest MCU star. Scott Lang, Ant-Man here in his black suit. 

 We add another guardian to the squad with Rocket and Potted Groot.

 Here we have a Target exclusive, Daredevil in his yellow suit from his early days   
He’s back! The warlord Frieza is back in golden form for the newest Dragonball Z movie, Resurrection F 

Review – Marvel’s Ant-Man

  The 12th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived on the scene. Leading up to this film, I was unsure what I thought about this one. I have seen every film in the franchise thus far. All of them in theaters on their opening weekend. This was the first one I wasn’t sure about. I only knew Ant-Man by name only and his stature in the Avengers comics, but other than that I have no familiarity with him. I also was unfamiliar with Guardians of the Galaxy, but the humor was what had sold me on that film. This film matches and perhaps even surpasses Guardians, at least for me that is.

Paul Rudd (This is 40, Knocked Up) is Scott Lang, a recently released from prison burglar (he clarifies for us the difference between a robber and burglar). Working off a tip from his friend Luis (Michael Pena) he breaks into a house for a big score and finds nothing but a suit and helmet. These items belong to Hank Pym(Michael Douglas) a renowned scientist and former SHIELD employee. Hank recruits Scott to assist him an his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) in stealing the Ant-Man technology from his former protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).  

  What works for this film is the same thing that worked for Guardians of the Galaxy. Humor. I compare it to a newcomer to an already familiar group of friends. Make them laugh. And it works. 

For the most part, the majority of the cast is fantastic. Rudd is an actor I never thought could fit in the MCU, but he certainty does and I honestly can’t think of someone else I feel could be better. Maybe Chris Pratt if he wasn’t already Star-Lord. Evangeline Lilly does a great job as Hope and her conflicts with Douglas’ provide a fair deal of the drama. Corey Stoll as Cross/Yellowjacket is another standard Marvel antagonist, which is a shame because the motivation for his character is there, but it’s just another mustache twirling villain. The comic relief is Michael Pena’s Luis and he certainly does deliver in that regard. And Michael Douglas as Pym does great as the fatherly mentor role. I hope we get more of him in the MCU. 

 The action is what we’ve come to expect from the MCU and it does not disappoint there. This also feels very much in the real world. At least as much as the MCU can have that sort of feeling. I know Daredevil is certainly way more realistic, I’m just referring to the MCU films. Scott is a man trying to do right by his daughter. He’s not a wealthy billionaire, super soldier, god or spy. Just a man. A criminal for that matter. 

 Another thing I loved is that this film acknowledges the continuity that’s occurred before but is not beholden to it. There is mentioning of the Avengers, but there is no teasing or setting up the bigger picture here. That’s something I thought was a fault of Age of Ultron. This is Scott’s story. Something we really haven’t seen since Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk.

As a coda to Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man works and works well. Using its humor to win over its audience. It knows it’s place for now. Don’t count the little guy out. Ant-Man will return….

Final Rating(4.5/5) 

 

Also check out the DeaconsDen review for Avengers: Age of Ultron

Comics Review: Starfire #1 & #2

  The newest book from DC creators Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti, we get Starfire in her own solo series. 

The book follows Starfire looking for a new beginning in Florida. She befriends the local sherif and is looking for a place to stay. She moves in with an elderly woman and her grandson. However things aren’t quiet very long as a hurricane hits the town. Issue 2 covers the events of the hurricane and Star’s attempts to help the people. The end of the second issue sets up the first main antagonist. Both issues are pretty straightforward.

  
Like her character, the artwork here in both issues is bright and vibrant. I look forward to turning each page for more of the visuals. Also considering since the book takes place in Florida, we have a beautiful backdrop where the action is. The one issue I take with the book is the headers at the top of the pages. It breaks up the flow as I’m reading especially during issue two’s hurricane, but it’s not enough to totally take me out of the experience.

One other thing I have loved about this series so far is the naïveté of Starfire is captured brilliantly. Even when she’s flying about saving people, simple phrases that we understand are foreign to her. We even get to see what she’s thinking when someone makes a particular statement. And just to so how powerful television is, I can’t help but to read Starfire’s words in Hynden Walch‘s voice from the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! series.

As long as Connor and Palmiotti can keep the traits of Starfire as fresh as they have with Harley Quinn, I certainly will continue to pick this book up. It’s a load of fun.

Issue 1 (4/5) Fun setup

Issue 2 (3.5/5) More of the same, no major developments until the end.

Also check the DeaconsDen review of Harley Quinn & Power Girl #1 also from Connor and Palmiotti.

Review – Terminator Genisys

  

Yes I know. I fed the machine. I contributed to what appears to a trend in Hollywood of inferior sequels making money that give way for more inferior sequels to beloved movies. I am part of the problem. This time however I was fine with it.

Terminator Genisys is the fifth film in the franchise started back in 1984 by director James Cameron. This time around Alan Taylor, who also directed Thor: The Dark World takes the helm of the science fiction action series which also has the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to one of his most famous roles. Emilia Clarke of Game of Theones takes over the role of Sarah Connor, joining her fellow actress Lena Headey who played Connor on the short-lived Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series. Jai Courtney from the television series Spartacus is Kyle Reese and Jason Clarke from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes plays future leader John Connor.

I went into this with low expectations. I know the previous 2 films have mixed fan reception, but I never took too much issue with them. However, nothing I had seen from the trailers looked particularly interesting and I was wavering on whether or not to see it. I recently watched the first 2 films however and decided to give it a shot.  Was this the redemption of the Terminator series? Not really. Was it a fun action/sci-fi flick that respected they films that came before it? I feel it was and it did.

The film opens with events we did not see in the original film, John Connor sending Kyle Reese back in time to 1984 to protect his mother Sarah Connor. We are treated to a pretty faithful recreation of the opening events of the 1984 film. The terminator and Reese both arriving, the interaction with the small gang, Reese running through a shopping mall. It was a nice fan service moment, but it did serve a purpose to show us how things had changed in the timeline. Once Reese is saved by Sarah does he get the rundown that things aren’t what they were supposed to be.  

Speaking of Sarah, I loved Emilia Clarke’s portrayal. She is at a level where she is more experienced than T1 Sarah, but not quite as hardened as her T2 counterpart. She longs for her own choices in her life. There were moments where the camera would capture her at a certain angle or a piece of dialogue she speaks that really invoked Linda Hamilton. I know prior to release she was a major question mark but I enjoyed every moment she was on screen.

Jai Courtney as Reese was also quite well as far as his acting of Kyle. However the man we see in the first Terminator who was tormented after years of battle is not really seen here. Arnold is Arnold as always. Just older. Some of the humor he has in the movie actually does work because it’s all part of the narrative and how Sarah works with him to help him assimilate into human culture more. It’s very purposeful. Jason Clarke as John Connor is the weakest link. I just never felt that leader quality that other actors who have played him had. Even Christian Bale gave a bit more gravitas to the character. 

 The action is what you would expect from a PG-13 blockbuster in this day and age. Nothing looked bad at all to me and nothing really stood out as well. 

  To wrap things up, Terminator Genisys does not reach the heights of the first two films and honestly, the series will probably never reach that again, but this is a fun film that despite what it’s trailer shows, does respect the two superior entries in the franchise. I think that maybe as time goes on this may get a slight bit more love than it has gotten. I felt it does Terminator a bit better than its 2 recent predecessors.

Final Rating (3/5)

  

Mad Max: A Retrospective for a first timer to the series.

  

Prior to the month of May 2015, I had never seen a single film in the Mad Max franchise. I’ve always known of the series and its impact, I just never got around to them. 

Then came the trailers for the fourth film, Mad Max: Fury Road. From first glance it certainly looked exciting, yet since I had no familiarity with the series, if I didn’t see it, no big deal. Sometime in April I got Mad Max on Blu-Ray from my local FYE for $5. I figured why not? It sat on my shelf still unopened in its plastic. One day while waiting for the train to go to work it was available for streaming on the Comcast Xfinity app and I attempted to watch it while on the train. Yet I noticed that I can’t watch a movie piece by piece of it’s something I had never seen before. So I resolved to go home and watch Mad Max which I did on a Sunday morning. Presented here is what my initial thoughts were after watching each film.

Mad Max 

 The origin of the man who would become the Road Warrior is quite the economical film. I can’t believe so much was told in this film with so little. The action is hard-hitting and the stunts are top notch. We see Max as a family man and his role patrolling the highways. I always knew the series was dystopian in its setting, yet in this first film there is still some semblance of society. As the film goes you do notice with Max that he is a little disillusioned and by the end of the film we will no longer know Max Rockatansky and be introduced to Mad Max.

Mad Max 2- The Road Warrior 

 I got this in a 2 Pack DVD along with the third film when I was out of work for a day due to illness. I had always heard great things about The Road Warrior, its action, cinematography and expansive world building. Again Miller does not only much with little, he does more. Time has passed since Mad Max and all we know is that the world has almost completely fallen. That’s what I love about this franchise, it’s George Miller’s worldbuilding without any explanation. It allows the viewer to fill in the gaps and honestly it’s kind of refreshing to not have too many fan discussions of canon and holes in the internal logic. It’s all about what we see. There is very little dialogue in the film again making us watch what’s on the screen. It is a better film than Mad Max and other than a silly villain, it makes for a terrific action film either as part of the series or totally on its own.

 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 

 I watched this back to back with The Road Warrior and honestly I’m glad I did. I had always heard that this was the worst of the series and while it certainly has the least going on, it does have some good elements. One thing I loved about this was Max coming across a group of survivors who basically did not need his help. Bartertown, is pretty self sufficient and it makes me wonder how did they manage to have a form of functioning society. This is another decent piece of world building. The biggest fault is that the second half becomes a prime example of when the Hollywood machine sticks its hands in the project. Max gets involved with the struggle of a group of children. The issue is not that it’s children in the story per se, but rather that it slows the story to a crawl for me and the interesting first half becomes a distant memory. Plus as much as I love the work of Tina Turner, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) feels really out of place. This was a Hollywood movie rather than a George Miller movie.

Mad Max Fury Road 

 For more on what I thought about Mad Max Fury Road check out the DeaconsDen Review. I will say this, this movie is an experience that I was glad to take part of. It was great to cap off my introduction to Max and his world with this brilliant action film.

For a series that I knew of and never seen, I had no expectations for what I would experience. The Mad Max franchise is one that is easily assessable and enjoyable. I look forward to what this franchise has to offer down the line as long as Miller does what he does best.

Also check out the DeaconsDen coverage of the Mad Max series see these links:

Comics Review: Nux & Immortan Joe

Comics Review: Furiosa

Review: Mad Max Fury Road