“Victory has Defeated You” A Second Opinion on “The Dark Knight Rises”

If you’ve talked to me in the last few years then you know that I love Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker. I had even planned on doing an article on why Interstellar is one of the best movies of the last 20 years.(Maybe I still should?) But one of his major films was always one that I wasn’t incredibly fond of. That film was The Dark Knight Rises. As I have written before, my good friend Nick is a huge Nolan fan and we always had disagreements over this film. He finally just challenged me to watch it again and do an article on it. So this article is dedicated to my illustrious friend, Nick Wild.

I remember watching the first two parts of Nolan’s trilogy with a sincere sense of awe and wonder at who Batman could be and what Gotham could mean to a person. I loved these films and the structure they used to constantly maintain a sense of change and fear in Gotham. This poor finale had an incredibly difficult task of following The Dark Knight which was and still is considered by many to be, not only, the best Batman film but the best superhero film of all time. You have a phenomenal performance done by Heath Ledger that is impossible to top and his death made a few people ask if they should even do a third film. This is where DKR’s biggest problem lies: Nolan’s heart wasn’t in it. You can feel that throughout the film that this was the second script and that this was plan B to his original “Joker’s Trial” Script but, luckily, Christopher Nolan is an A+ filmmaker so what would be a convoluted mess from any other director becomes a film that works exceptionally well as a finale to his Batman story.

It’s definitely worth mentioning that Nolan had a clear vision for making this a story as much about the entirety of Gotham and not just about Batman.  through the economic downfall in the first film which led to the deaths of Martha and Thomas Wayne but then in the second film we see that even though Batman has come and brought hope to this city alongside Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent we still have crime to deal with in the form of Sal Maroni. This is why every villain in the trilogy was methodical and written in a way that affected the theme of the film. Ra’s Al Ghul and Scarecrow both dealt in fear, one causing it and one using it to his advantage. Joker dealt in chaos and Two-Face was the direct reflection of it. Then we finally get to the third film and we’re dealing with Bane and Catwoman.

Both of these villains work more as an antithesis of Bruce Wayne in every fashion of his life. Bane is the dark part of his origin, the chosen destroyer of Gotham that Ra’s Al Ghul wanted Bruce to be. Bane is the reckoning of Gotham that he declares himself as and he works as a villain in a way that none of the others could or would. Whereas Joker wanted to prove that everyone was chaotic, Bane was counting on it and used it to his advantage. I like this version of Bane because when most people think of Bane then they just see him as the man who was strong enough to break the Bat without knowing that he was smart enough to actually break Batman down in more than just a physical encounter. Hardy is giving a great performance here and there’s only one main Issue I have with Bane and that is that it is very difficult to understand him at multiple different times and that most of those lines are fairly crucial scenes. When he kills Dagett should be absolutely terrifying but it falls flat if you don’t have captions on. Both versions of his voice had their own problems and I honestly don’t know who to blame in the process, was Hardy just trying too hard? Did the lead sound editor take a Vacation during Bane week? Either way, my favorite line of his is the title of this article and I didn’t know he said it until my most recent viewing, which is sad.  Bane as a character works in the sense that his plan/speeches are still very relevant 4 years later, he brings to light the fact that their peace was built on a lie.  But more importantly he gives Gotham back to the people and lets them detroy themselves.

This is where Catwoman comes in. Selina Kyle has been the victim of a difficult lifestyle, presumably she’s been on her own for a long time and now she’s turned to theft to either make ends meet or further her agenda and hopefully work towards a better life. She works against Bruce Wayne in the fact that she has had to fight for everything in her life where Bruce was born into money. Now this is something that Nolan covered well in the first film. Bruce talks about leaving Gotham and going to a place where no one knows him, stealing for the first time so he can eat and understanding that not every crime is worth a beat down and being sent to a prison. So Bruce understands her but she doesn’t really understand him as a person just yet. All she sees is someone with a ridiculous amount of money while everyone else is starving or homeless. Remember how I said that Nolan had a clear vision for his story? well one of the underlying themes here is that “The Dent Act” has stopped most of the crime in the city but on the other end it’s keeping parents away from kids, abolishing most of the middle class and almost regressing itself back to the economic climate we saw in Batman Begins. Which is why Bane’s plan works so well. People are afraid, fear breeds anger and anger breeds rash actions…like joining with Bane.

So from a solid thematic standpoint, we’ve seen the setup of Bane and Catwoman being direct opposition for Batman. But what about the rest of the film?

Well Christian Bale is still fantastic in this role. I’ve never had any problems with him in these films. He makes the entire pit sequence interesting just by delivering some great lines and giving a great performance of someone who has to “Become something more” See what I did there?

I’ve always said that Michael Caine was terribly underused in this film and I still believe that but now I understand why. He’s meant to show that this Bruce Wayne has nothing, he lost Rachel, he lost his hope because of Harvey, he blames himself for Jim Gordon’s injuries and now he’s about to lose Alfred. Does this work for this film? Yes. Would I have done it differently? Absolutely.

Remember this exchange: Bruce – You still haven’t given up on me”

Alfred – “Never”

It’s beautiful, it’s special and it’s completely undone by the characters actions in the third film. I understand that’s the point but it still upsets me every time I watch it. Alfred never leaves. “Never”

John Blake is a new character that I want to love because Joseph Gordon Levitt is great but he makes some pretty stupid decisions in this film. Granted, yes most of them are done because he’s still learning but still, he throws the handgun away because Guns are bad but the next time you see him he has a shotgun. That will never not annoy me. Still, I would’ve liked to have seen who he became at the end of the film. Nightwing? New Batman? Something else entirely?

Now we get to the final point of the film and my least favorite part of it, Talia Al Ghul. Now you might be thinking that either I don’t like Marion Cotillard or that I don’t like that it changes things from the comics but that’s not the case because Cotillard is amazing and absolutely gorgeous in this film and I don’t care if they change things as long as it makes sense…which this doesn’t. Talia’s origin with Bane is just convoluted at best but I can get past that, what I can’t get past is her motivation. She wants to fulfill her father’s dream and destroy Gotham which I’m fine with until she explains that she hated her father because he cast Bane out of the League Of Shadows. So why does she want to fulfill her father’s destiny? Well her direct quote to Bruce: “I hated my father, until you killed him” doesn’t make sense at all. So that’s why Talia always annoys me in this film.

My other complaint is fairly minor due to it being circumstantial and that is that you don’t have to see The Dark Knight to watch this movie. As long as you know that Rachel and Harvey died then you have everything you need to know from that film. Now the reason I don’t complain as much about that is of course due to Heath Ledger’s untimely passing forcing them to build a new story and not wanting to cheapen his performance by making it nothing more than a passing reference.

Overall I love the themes in this film and the performances are just perfect. The opening scene is never not interesting, the fight sequence where Bane is just destroying Batman is beautifully shot and has some great dialogue, if you can understand it, from Hardy and the ending may not be the perfect Batman ending but it’s the perfect Nolan ending and it’s the one we deserve.

“A Great Swell Of Pity” X-Men : Apocalypse Review

Spoiler Warning, if that sort of thing upsets you.

 

I absolutely love the X-Men, they were the first group of characters that I really followed in the comics. I loved the idea of them being outcasts and being hated by the people that they protect. These are ideas that resonate within all of us at some point in our lives, which is why the X-Men remain so popular. Their film history has ranged from phenomenal to 2 of my least favorite comic book films of all time(X-Men : The Last Stand and X-Men Origins : Wolverine) This film falls somewhere in the middle because on the good side you have powerful performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. The primary problem being that this might be their last X-Men Film which leads to the bad side and that is the fact that they don’t have much of a series without those three. Apocalypse as a character is terribly written and he looks laughably bad by 2016 standards. I feel bad for SImon Kinberg(The Writer) in the sense that he probably had the beginnings of the script written when he saw Age Of Ultron last year, took it to Bryan Singer(The Director) and they kept trying to come up with ways that Apocalypse wouldn’t end up being a discount Ultron but they just couldn’t manage it. His main plan is that, using Magneto’s ability to control the metal in the earth, he’s going to cause tidal waves and anyone who survives will be stronger and he will rule over them. Just let that plan sink in for a bit before you move onto the next paragraph.

Oscar Isaac does the best he can with that script, he delivers these speeches well but they don’t hold any weight because Apocalypse is pretty useless in this movie. His power set is basically Sylar from Heroes when it comes down to it, he transfers his consciousness from body to body and gains their mutant abilities afterwards, I wasn’t a huge fan of that but then three huge thoughts crossed my mind that made me hate that subplot even more

  • If he can gain their powers after transferring into them then why does he need Horsemen? Let’s face it Angel, Psylocke and Storm all would’ve taken that deal in this movie because they’re just weak-minded pawns. Magneto would’ve been a bit difficult but you could fight them and force it on him like he tries to do with Xavier.
  • If he has control over inorganic matter, which he clearly shows us multiple times, then why does he need Magneto to cause tidal waves?
  • If you can sense the power within these mutants then why are you not choosing the girl with the power of the Phoenix Force?

Apocalypse left me with a lot of questions about his intelligence, maybe he should’ve transferred into a mutant whose power was logical cognitive abilities…Eh? Eh? Ah what do you know from funny. But seriously, no one can ever complain about MCU villains ever again because even if they weren’t overtly threatening then you can at least say that they were more interesting than Apocalypse and I never had problems with their logic.

Psylocke, Angel and Storm are just shadows of who they should’ve been but they’re nothing more than Henchmen.(particularly Psylocke.)

I like Nightcrawler, Jean and Cyclops. Cyclops is still annoying, Nightcrawler is pretty spot on and Jean is great except for one key part : Jean Grey just murders Angel. There’s no way around it. I struggle with that because Jean is so typically the one that is trying to sustain human life unless it’s absolutely necessary…like when she kills Apocalypse but Angel was technically just misguided like Storm who is welcomed into the X-Men without anyone mentioning the whole helping destroy the world thing.

Caliban’s kind of in this movie. He can sense mutants but for some reason he can’t sense Apocalypse. I’m just questioning where Kinberg and Singer got their information about these characters especially when Singer had banned comics from the sets of his films. Can we please get Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman back?

Fox needs to come to terms with something terrifying: it’s not 2000 anymore. This film would’ve been considered the pinnacle of Comic book films if we hadn’t seen The Dark Knight trilogy or anything Marvel Studios has put out. To many people 17 years isn’t a long time but in the world of comics and film it is. We need to adapt and write stronger stories and actually build our characters instead of just showing them to us, you can tell me that the girl with the white mohawk was Storm all day long but I can assure you that it wasn’t. We have advanced beyond the world of just seeing things and have progressed into wanting to know more about who these characters are and until Fox realizes that then they’ll only make a profit based off of people being hopeful that when they go they’ll see a better X-Men film.

Overall, the film is worth the price of admission for Fassbender’s performance as Magneto. There’s a few things that they get right that are so good but there’s a lot of bad in this movie.

The Forgotten: My Thoughts on DC Rebirth.

First and foremost, Major Spoiler warning, I tried doing this without spoilers but even the first 5 pages are full of moments that will have massive repercussions over the next few months.

 

 

Still here? Alright good…but just to be sure…

 

So yesterday saw the release of DC Rebirth #1 and I’m sorry I took forever in writing this article but I had to process the issue and really approach this with a level head. For those of you that don’t know then this is the ultimate DC event that’s going to be a soft reboot of all of their comics. This is also the last comic that Geoff Johns is going to write for the foreseeable future. As I previously wrote about, he is going to go and head up the new DC Films and is focusing the majority of his time on that. I’m okay with Johns taking a break but not the way that they’re going about it. Rebirth doesn’t answer all of the questions that we have and I’m worried about other people carrying the story after Johns is gone. This is a story that could easily go off the rails quickly. Johns as a writer knows and loves these characters, he wants them to succeed and be as great to us as they are to him. His writing in this issue is some of the best he’s done since his Green Lantern finale but that’s exactly why it’s sad to lose him right here. He and the company used this issue to “fix” the DC universe and the “problems” of the New 52 and he did so in a way that only a certain group of people could be upset with, the only problem is that that group of people are the people who were helping to keep the lights on.

DC Rebirth #1 is narrated by Wally West, a character who’s original incarnation has been missing since the start of The New 52. Many fans wanted his return to DC and I did too. They brought us a new Wally West and although he was good, he was vastly different from who we were used to, the new Wally was a kid who was troubled and hung out with the wrong crowds and he had to be coached into becoming the hero we needed. The original Wally was the heart of The Teen Titans, he was the Flash that my generation grew up with and he deserved better than to just be “Forgotten”

That word takes on a new meaning in this issue because instead of dying, Wally has been flung through the speed force since The New 52 started. He wasn’t dead, he was just “Forgotten” It’s a very miserable existence and what’s worse is that he sees this darkness growing and can do nothing to stop it. He keeps trying to return to our world and while he’s trying when he finally does get back he tells us that our heroes have been weakened since The New 52 started. The villains of this time theft have been revealed as none other than Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias from Watchmen. I actually really like bringing them in because Johns has spoken multiple times about a return of Hope and Optimism in the comics and films and there’s no greater villain for that then the cynicism of The Watchmen.  So now that Wally is back and he remembers everything that happened before The New 52 he can tell all of our new heroes about the people that they could be and once were which I guess I’m ok with that but I liked the characters in The New 52. One of the other things that Johns spoken about was a return to the legacy of DC. Which is great…but don’t forget the legacy of The New 52.

Chris Sims once wrote about “The Problem” and this issue coupled with the release of Batman V. Superman : Dawn of Justice solidifies it. The basic premise of “The Problem” is that DC has chased the popularity of Marvel for the past 50 years and they just can’t reach it.(Seriously, the entire article is worth your time. Go check it out.) He’s right about the idea and I do believe that it is a factor but the real problem in this instance is that DC hasn’t believed in the New 52 for the last two years. Batman was the only consistent run throughout the entirety of 2011-2016 and that was only because of Snyder, Capullo and Miki just all being exceptional creators. Everything else just sort of faded out and it seemed like DC didn’t care. Scott Lobdell still has a job as a writer even though he has put forth almost no effort to better his writing. They let Pak, Bunn, Lemire and Fialkov slip through their fingers even though they were fantastic and you know what the worst problem was? They listened to the whinier fans instead of the ones that were actually buying the books. So instead of adapting the story to be both a fan service and an exceptional creative opportunity DC just told us that we were wrong for buying all of those comics for the past 5 years and that these characters were weakened versions of our favorite heroes. Phenomenal Stories like “Goddess Of War”, “Throne Of Atlantis”, “Zero Year”, “Endgame”, “The Red and The Green”, “Forever Evil” and many others may never matter again. I’m hoping that they don’t do away with them but there is a good chance that it could happen.

I will hang onto my optimism for DC for as long as I can but currently the truth is that for those of us who fell in love with The New 52, the ones who spent time and money buying these books and following these characters we are the ones who will still read DC, we are the ones who will still love the Hope that they have shown us but, sadly, we are the ones who have been Forgotten.

Speeding Bullets #4

As always, the “Speeding Bullet” articles are focused on talking about the latest news in the world of fandoms. Typically if I talk about breaking news then I do it on the Facebook page but sometimes, certain subjects require a few more words…this is one of those times.

The State of DC Films: Can Geoff Johns save them?

Geoff Johns is one of my favorite writers. His work is full of hopeful messages, strong heroes and brilliant villains. Johns has, throughout his entire career, thrived on reviving properties that were either forgotten or weren’t selling very well. (“Green Lantern”, “Teen Titans”, “Justice Society of America”, ETC.) Now he has to revitalize something that has taken a turn for the worst: The DC Cinematic Universe. They’ve chosen him (as Chief Creative Officer) and Jon Berg (as Executive VP) to head up production of the newly created DC Films. Furthering themselves away from Warner Brothers and becoming their own entity is something that I have wanted ever since they announced a shared universe. I think on paper it is a brilliant move and I’m hoping they can stick the landing with it. Obviously some changes have needed to happen because no matter who you are, whether you hated or kinda liked it, you have to say that Batman V. Superman had it’s fair share of problems. I’m not doing this article to bash the film, I don’t want this site to become that, but it’s so clearly the reasoning behind this shake-up that it has to be referenced.

Considering that Johns is one of my favorite writers I want to enjoy this but I have to do this with a slight bit of reticence. I always try to look at the big picture and understand what decisions have to be made before we, the public, see anything. Johns is a great choice for leading the films but as WiseSage said to me, “It’s too reactive.” I agree with him to an extent because I, too, would have preferred DC to make this decision from the beginning but obviously that wasn’t the case. Instead we have to remedy the situation that has been placed before us. Naturally, WB/DC has seen the varying reactions to their film and Marvel’s “Civil War” and saw the stark contrast between their film being heralded as an apocalyptic force to the superhero genre and Marvel’s single-handedly making everyone believe in it again.

So, the question is: What can DC do to save themselves? Johns is a good start but this could create problems for their comics. Over the past few years Johns has been spread very thin over the Comics, Shows and Films and many people have deemed this to be a major issue with DC considering how certain issues with the comics or shows have only gotten worse or haven’t been fixed at all. This summer marks the premiere of “Rebirth” which is going to be a comic book event that could make or break them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for it but the more I consider it the more I see the chinks in their armor.(Be on the Lookout for WiseSage’s new article on the issues with “Rebirth” in the next few days) They have a limited number of A-List creators in their upcoming line-up and it worries me that their stories might be focused more on fixing the problems that people are complaining about and not about trying to create great stories in the first place.

I hear you already, “But Vance, isn’t fan outcry exactly what this entire article is about?” Yes, but not just for the sake of trying to please everyone. Comics, and their subsequent adaptations, are in their very nature something that is 50% based on fan appreciation and 50% on creative quality. If either one is compromised then something needs to be fixed.

In conclusion, Johns is someone that can easily turn DC around for the better. Less than 3 years ago, DC was at a new height of financial and creative power that I think they can easily return to with the right leadership.

“I Remember all of them” Civil War’s Perfect Finale

*I can’t stress enough my major spoiler warning for this article. I will most likely be talking about every important thing that happens in the last 30 minutes of Captain America : Civil War.*

You’ve Been Warned.

As I’ve already said in my actual review, I loved this movie…so why write another article talking about it? Well one reason is that it’s worth it but the main reason is that I couldn’t talk about the fantastic finale. I believe it to be the greatest finale of any superhero film. Yes, I know what that means…better than Iron Man 3…better than The Dark Knight…better than The Avengers. I understand that many of you already think that such heretical thoughts should never be written but hear me out on this.

Civil War was the culmination of 11 different films(12 if you count Guardians Of The Galaxy). Marvel had built these characters up in a way that humanized them and made us fall in love with them. No matter how old you were or where you came from there was a certain magic whenever you saw the 6 Avengers in that line-up or when Winter Soldier caught Cap’s Shield or when Hawkeye made his speech about “If you step outside those doors, you are an Avenger.” Marvel had made these characters leap off of the page and most importantly in this case…set up the friendship between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. They’re not old friends with each other like they are with Bucky Barnes or James Rhodes, they’re not contemporaries like Sam Wilson or Bruce Banner but they are the two leaders of this team that want to do what’s right. Steve and Tony both reinvented themselves to become the heroes they are, they’re both heroic outside of their alter-egos and they both suffer from severe trauma and loss. So what would cause these two men to fight?

Unfortunately, their own heroics is the cause of it. The battle against Ultron in Sokovia has made many people throughout the world view the Avengers as a group that brings nothing but destruction wherever they go. So the government comes up with a solution: The Sokovia Accords. Basically they want to make the Avengers a team that is sanctioned and controlled by the United Nations. Tony is all for this because he wants to protect people as much as he can. Steve is against this because he doesn’t want to be told when he can save people and he realizes that if someone does get hurt then all it’s going to do is shift blame to whoever gave the orders.

This is enough to cause a split between the two factions. Some of the Avengers are for it and some are against it. The initial fight is gradually built towards from here including the return of the Winter Soldier and the introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man. I’m skipping over a lot to get to the finale so forgive me for that, I’m not exactly sure when the fight takes place time-wise but it is absolutely brilliant. It’s a 6 Vs. 6 match-up that we’ve waited to see since the first Avengers film and it’s finally happening. The reason this fight works is because it’s been set up so well and because it doesn’t get boring, we see scene after scene of superhero action for a solid 15 minutes and it’s still incredibly entertaining. I also love that they’re not trying to kill each other or anything Steve is just trying to catch up with Zemo and stop him and Tony is just trying to bring Steve in. The fight ends with Vision accidentally shooting down War Machine and severely wounding him while Steve and Bucky get away on a quinjet.

This is where the last 20-30 minutes become flawless. After making sure that Rhodey is safe, Tony goes to the raft, a prison for superpowered beings and speaks to Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Falcon. Scarlet Witch is basically catatonic when we see her, presumably due to the fact that Strucker kept her and her brother in cells and now she’s back in one. Hawkeye kind of steals the show in this part because he gets to take Daredevil’s part from the comic, he’s so angry with Tony and Renner pulls it off perfectly. Falcon tells Tony where Steve was heading because Tony finally believes him about Zemo and just wants to help him.

Once they all end up in Siberia, they realize that Zemo’s plan wasn’t what they thought and he shows them a video, a video of the Winter Soldier killing Tony’s parents. This showcases phenomenal performances from Stan, Downey and Evans. The battle between the three starts and it’s incredible. It has some great action moments but it’s the drama behind it that makes it perfect. The title of this article refers to one of my favorite lines

Tony : “Do you even remember them?”

Bucky : “I remember all of them”

This is some incredibly clever writing because we get everything we need to know about Bucky right there. He feels remorse and anger over the fact that he was nothing but a weapon for over 60 years.

While this is going on, Black Panther has followed them and he has learned that it wasn’t Bucky who killed his father, but Zemo. He tracks down Zemo, who explains that he lost his entire family in the Sokovia attack and that he planned to destroy the Avengers but how could he if Ultron and Loki couldn’t? He broke them from within. Zemo is the most underrated part of this movie. He’s manipulative and patient, which is terrifying. He has a definitive reason for hating the Avengers and his story works perfectly as the backdrop to the accords. He wasn’t just a recreation of the hero and he wasn’t just someone else to beat in a punching contest. He was fantastic and he’s also the only villain to win.

This leads to Black Panther’s shining moment where he “Won’t let revenge consume me” and instead of allowing Zemo to kill himself, he stops him and captures him.

Meanwhile you have one of the most brutal fights I’ve seen in a superhero film, Bucky gets his arm blown off, Steve is beaten bloody and Tony is just an emotional wreck and you can’t really blame any of them. Of course the now classical gut wrenching line is in there of :

Steve : I’m sorry Tony but he’s my friend.

Tony : So was I.

It honestly carries even more weight in the actual scene. The fight ends at a standstill and Steve and Bucky leave with Tony just lying there on the ground.

It ends with Tony returning to The Avengers compound and with steve breaking his team out of the raft. Tony receives a letter and a phone in the mail, the letter is Steve apologizing for the way things went down and saying that if they ever need him then he’ll be there.

It’s such a perfect ending and I love that this film hits every major point you need from a Superhero film. It still has it’s fun moments and it’s action moments but it’s a film that deals with accountability and remorse for your actions. It ends on a higher note than the comic and for me, it’s actually a better note to end on. Everything about this film balances well and it shows especially in it’s perfect finale.
Continue reading ““I Remember all of them” Civil War’s Perfect Finale”

My Wonder Woman

If I live to be a hundred years old, I will never forget this moment:

I had just come home from work and was on the phone with my brother. I went up the stairs to say to my mom and when I entered the room she was crying. I asked her what was wrong and all she could get out was “He’s so brave!” I looked and saw that my mother was watching “Captain America : The First Avenger” and Steve was in the chamber becoming Captain America. She cared so much for a characters well being and it had reminded her of the bravery of true heroes in the world and it built an emotional connection for her. Most people can watch or read something and not feel anything but not her. To her, everything was emotion.

This was Linda Hardesty. My Mother. My Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman was her absolute favorite, but she loved all of the different characters. We went and saw Iron Man in 2008 and went to Free Comic Book Day and then from that moment on, My mother would start reading comics with me. She always wanted to be in Jane Foster’s shoes and be whisked away to Asgard, she wanted to be inspired by a man of steel over metropolis and she wanted to stand up for what’s right and never back down from darkness like Wonder Woman. She lived her life in a way that people only dream of, every moment she lived with the wisdom of a woman who had seen the world change over the years but she still never lost the child-like wonder of finding something new. That wonder is something that we could all stand to appreciate and enjoy.

She loved and was loved in return. She always pushed me to be the very best at what I was doing and I probably wouldn’t be writing if it wasn’t for her guidance. Every article and every story has a piece of her in it. I’m not writing this article to just relive moments of her life and my memories of her, I’m writing this so that you understand that although this is my second Mother’s Day without my mother, she’s always still with me. She’s the reason this site is here and she’s the reason I write. Everything I do is in the hopes of living up to her memory.

Linda Sue McCarty Hardesty 1953-2015

-Jacob Vance Hardesty(Vance McCarty)

“Whose side are you on?” Captain America : Civil War Review

Last night, I felt like a kid again. I really did. I haven’t been this happy about a film since Star Wars : The Force Awakens and I can’t even remember the last one before that. Civil War is what films can be and what they should be. Now, I didn’t just say superhero films, I mean all films. The Russos, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeeley and Kevin Feige have crafted something that is absolutely amazing.

I’m going to do my best to make this a coherent review and not just me fanboying about it for an entire article. I’m just going to go subject by subject on it.

Story

The story in this film is incredibly Air-Tight. Markus and McFeely have done it again, every point happens in a way that it needs to go down and nothing was left unanswered. My cousin asked me something about the finale and I explained it to him about what the villain did just a few minutes prior, if you’re staying focused then this film will explain everything that it needs to and the questions that are left will surely be answered in the near future.

Many of you should know that the original Civil War comic is one of my favorites. It was the first comic that showed me that these stories weren’t just for kids. They had pathos and rich storytelling surrounding these phenomenal, classical characters and this film is no different. It handles the source material well in a way that every screenwriter needs to study for future adaptations. No character felt left out, even characters who had limited screen-time like Vision, Ant-Man and Hawkeye all have prominent roles to play and you don’t feel cheated at all.

On the other end of that spectrum, the film never feels cluttered or preachy which were two factors that I had mild concerns about going in. Instead, we got an adaptation that wasn’t scene for scene straight from the comic but we got to see the ideas of Civil War placed into the grander overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think that this was the right play, we still got many of the great scenes from the comic and it’s tie-in issues and we got a moral conflict where no matter who you side with on the subject you can still see that both of the men just want to do what they think is right. In the original comic they set up the main characters in a more black and white setting with Captain America as the hero and Iron Man as the villain. This isn’t to say that Iron Man wasn’t still a sympathetic character in the comic…he just didn’t really feel like that until Civil War : The Confession came out. In the film, you can see both sides a little easier and for me, it made it even better than I expected.

Acting

As I said above, no one was cheated in this movie. Every character had at least one great memorable scene and of course there are a few standouts. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have been working towards this over 7 films and it shows. They are at their prime in these roles and I never want them to stop playing these characters. Sabastian Stan’s return as the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes is well worth the wait, he has some great moments particularly with Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow never ceases to amaze me, if she doesn’t get her own movie soon then I will be incredibly upset.

The true standouts of this film were Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Their solo films are setting up to be absolutely phenomenal.

Boseman was great from the moment we see him as T’Challa the ambassador to when we first see him in the Black Panther armor. He can be regal and kingly in one scene and then switch to wild and vicious the next.

Holland brings an energy to the character of Peter Parker that you could only get from someone who is clearly having the time of their life on set. He’s a perfect balance of being occasionally awkward but always fun when he’s on screen.

Direction

The Russos have a vision that is exceptional and a big part of why it’s great is you can see that they have a reverence and love for the source material. They love these characters and this universe and they only want to make it bigger and better with every outing. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with the next Avengers films.

Their fight scenes are as tight as you can get them. Everyone has a very distinct fighting style that showcases their powers and abilities in ways that remain entertaining and exciting. It never becomes dull and even after seeing it twice there were things that I kept picking up.

Overall

It’s clear that Marvel knows what they’re doing, they’re making films for fans because they themselves are fans. I love what this company is doing with their stories across all mediums and judging from what I’ve seen it’s only getting better from here.

Make Mine Marvel.

Game Of Thrones Recap: S6/E1 (Major Spoilers)

Seriously, stop now if you haven’t watched the newest episode…Huge, Massive Spoilers!

 

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Alright, everybody good? We all avoided the craziness? Good. Let’s get to it.

For those of you that don’t know, Game Of Thrones is my favorite show and one of my favorite fandoms of all time. Every character is complex and brilliantly written, the surprises are done well and the plot never drags to me. It’s an amazing series.

From the show perspective, this season was the first season that I was actually anxious about. The show has finally caught up to the books and now everything that happened tonight(except for Arya) is brand new and exciting. So let’s get right into it.

Starting off at the wall was a very smart move on their part, picking right after the death of Jon Snow. They even surprised me there by only having a small group being in on his death. When I first watched it, I figured the entire Watch turned on him and they just chose those few to commit the act. Instead, it’s a solid mutiny of just a few.

Davos, Edd and a few of the other brothers get Jon to a safe room with Ghost and they prepare to defend his body against anything and anyone. They make plans to unite the wildlings and fight against Thorne and the other traitors. I’m very excited to see where this goes from here. Will Jon Snow return? Will he stay dead? We’ll focus more on this later.

Then we have to suffer through the Boltons being the Boltons. They are absolutely the worst characters on this show. Brilliant actors, terrible characters.

Then, we finally get something decently happy for a change. Theon and Sansa escape from the Boltons with the help of Brienne and Podrick. It’s a great scene and I love that Pod helped Sansa with the vows for Brienne, it really humanized her character in a way that we don’t get to see very often from her. It’s been one step forward and four steps back for Sansa since the end of Season 1 so hopefully we can actually enjoy this for a while.

We then see the best acted scene of the episode, Lena Headey as Cersei manages to turn this woman who has been an absolute monster into someone who is truly vulnerable and heartbroken. Her speech about Myrcella’s death nearly had me tear up. Her and Nikolaj Coster Waldau play off of each other very well and it’s at it’s best here.

Next up is Margarey Tyrell asking about her brother while getting the exact same treatment that Cersei got. Not a lot happens in this scene but Natalie Dormer and Jonathan Pryce are both great so I wasn’t upset seeing them on screen again.

Ah, now we’ve come to the most heartbreaking part of the entire episode. Dorne. Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes are all great characters but I hated to see Doran die without doing as much as he does in the books and it’s even worse to see Alexander Siddig die without getting more Screentime. Truly a tragic scene and then insult to injury is that they kill his son too, immediately after that. So now Dorne is run by The Sand Snakes. I’m not upset about them ruling because it’s a Dornish tradition that Man or Woman can rule but I did hate to lose Doran.

Next we catch up with everyone’s favorite Dwarf and Eunuch tag team. They’re a great pair to see on screen together, they discuss the different matter of Daenerys’ enemies and the difficulties of the city in her absence. They can then only watch as what looks to be their entire navy is burned.

Jorah and Darrio each discuss loving Dany and not getting her love in return while they are out looking for her. We’re also reminded that Jorah has Greyscale which will kill him soon.

Finally we catch up with Daenerys as she is currently in the Khalasar of Khal Maro. He thinks that she is just another woman for him to enjoy even after she reveals all of her titles and accomplishments. It isn’t until she reveals that she was the Wife of Khal Drogo that he shows her some respects but she realizes that she has to return to Vaes Dothrak to live with the other Widows of a Khal instead of returning to rule at Mereen. Emilia Clarke is always amazing and I’m interested to see how she turns this around because if we know anything about her then we know that Daenerys will make it out on top.

We finally return to the Wall to see the Standoff of Davos VS. Thorne. He knows that Thorne is lying and that everyone will be slaughtered like Jon was. He goes on and says that they still have the Red Woman…one of the men asks what can she do against an army…to which Davos responds by saying that they’ve never seen what she can do.

This is where the show ends, the final scene featuring Melisandre and destroying every man’s minds for the next few days. I intentionally didn’t mention Melisandre earlier but when she saw Jon, she was utterly heartbroken because she had seen him in the flames, fighting at winterfell. We then see her alone in her room staring into the fire. She turns towards the mirror and disrobes, she takes off her red choker and when we see her again she is no longer the young, vibrant Melisandre, Instead she is now a very old woman that appears to be living through will and magic. She crawls into her bed and goes to sleep.

I truly fear for what this means. To me, she has given up entirely after losing both Stannis and Jon, she has nothing left and nothing left to hide. Only time will tell if I’m right.

I still love this show and can’t wait for next week.

Pleasantly Surprised

Disney, Lucasfilm, Syncopy, Marvel Studios and Pixar.

These studios have all created amazing films. Sure, they’ve had a few duds here and there but overall these are the film studios that I can trust. Over the last few days I’ve been mulling over a film I saw on Friday with my best friend Nick, now you need to know a few things about him before we get into this: Nick really likes good films, films that typically involve the creative talents of people like Christopher Nolan, Alejandro Inarrittú, Rian Johnson, Jeff Nichols or Nicolas Winding Refn. He loves the idea of Cinematography, Lighting and Music coming together to form a perfect shot that is just another puzzle piece of crafting a beautiful cinematic story. Another thing to know about him is that he can be very critical of bad films. He and I have disagreed on a few different ones but mostly we can at least see the merits of a film and understand that proper contemplation is needed on a lot of what we watch. So, knowing what you know about us, we were still talking about this film yesterday.

The film is “10 Cloverfield Lane” I went into this honestly just hoping to see it before it left our small(er), picky theater but I came out of it just blown away. From the opening 10 minutes which hardly has any dialogue and instead relies heavily on visuals, to the thrilling, suspenseful finale. For me, it was just a great example of what films can return to.

Mild Spoilers for “10 Cloverfield Lane” ahead.

Nowadays, Trailers give away half of the movie in two minutes. Even my two favorite films of last year(Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens) suffered from it in smaller ways. It doesn’t make or break a movie but I’ve found that the less I know about a film, the more I like it. Word of mouth and intelligent marketing is a very important component whenever you’re releasing a new film and this one mastered it beautifully.

The marketing, like the original, for the film was one of my favorite things about it. Showing a trailer less than two months away from release and showing very little of the actual plot or dialogue was a huge risk and to me it enhanced the film quite a bit.  The fact that I didn’t know(and still don’t) if it was a sequel or an anthology film made it even better. The ending comes as a mild surprise depending on what you were expecting, I had it spoiled for me ahead of time but even though I knew the secret, it was still a great reveal and it’s because the film is just written and shot very well. At no point in this film was the finale given away and that’s another great thing that has been lost over the years.

Honestly, that’s why this film is so great. You can tell that they’re returning to older ways of film-making, The slow build-up to the finale, the occasional tracking shots and the focus on exposition through small character moments. This is genuinely one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time and I can’t wait to see where the series continues whether it is a single narrative or an entirely different film.

At the beginning of this article I named a few different production companies that I have begun to trust and I will proudly add Bad Robot to this list. J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves and Drew Goddard have all done amazing things over the last few years and ushering in Dan Trachtenberg is a great move on their part if they can keep putting out quality films like this.

Try a Little Tenderness

Possible Spoilers for Game Of Thrones Season 5 and Star Wars : The Force Awakens.

 

Why am I making an Otis Redding reference? Well it’s because I haven’t posted much besides Rebirth and The stuff about that one movie that I don’t wanna talk about and that movie is exactly the reason for the title of this article. I’m tired of being upset and instead I’m willing to look to the future on things I’m excited/happy about.

So I decided to start this article with Game Of Thrones. Season 6 premieres on April 24th and I just cannot wait for it. Having read the five books that are out, this season is particularly exciting to me because the show is now passing the books and everything in the new season is going to be brand new for everyone. I’m ready for them to reveal that Jon isn’t a Stark…but a Targaryen and just finally affirm all of our fan theories. Here’s a clip of Liam Cunningham(Davos Seaworth) on Conan with a clip from the new season.

 

Next up is Rogue One : A Star Wars Story.

I Love this trailer. A big complaint of the Star Wars Universe is that everything revolves around the Skywalker Family. Which, yes, most it does but I still think it’s a stupid complaint because the Skywalkers are awesome. This film; however, has no skywalker in sight. All new characters except for Mon Mothma and maybe a few of the generals. Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker and Donnie Yen all look awesome and I can’t wait to see the beginning of the Death Star and the Beginning of the Rebellion.

Just to clarify : No, I don’t think Rey’s Mother is Jyn Erso(Jones’ Character) I just want to go ahead and clear that up.

 

Captain America : Civil War just looks better and better the more I see of it. Hearing that Spider-Man has about 30 minutes of Screen Time kind of worries me on one hand because I’m worried that he’ll overshadow everything but I’m also really excited to see him in it. I still think it’s going to be the best movie of the year.

Also I love the announcement that there will be a few Avengers in Spider-Man’s new movie. This shared universe is something I used to dream of, now it’s real.

The first clip is the new footage that was shown at the MTV Movies Awards. I know it’s not the best video but it was the best I could find on YouTube.

This new T.V. Spot doesn’t show any new footage but it uses the entire MCU as a lead-up to Civil War. If it doesn’t give you chills then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

 

And my final little note but one that is incredibly important to me is “Comic Book Women” is a wonderful organization that is led by Mairghread Scott. They’re working to promote Women in every form of the Comic profession, whether it’s a Writer, Artist, Editor, Retailer or anything else. I think it is great that we have advanced so far through the years that we’re finally bringing women to the forefront of this industry just like women like Gail Simone and Ann Nocenti did when there were almost no other female writers in comics.

I, as Editor-in-chief fully support this organization especially because The Fandom Correspondents was originally the idea of my sister, Admin Raven.

 

Overall, there are many wonderful things happening out there for fans right and I only touched on a few. It’s an amazing time to be a Fandom Correspondent and I’m happy to be one.