Jonathan Evans

Review Finding Dory by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

Finding Nemo is one of the pinnacle of the powerhouse that is Pixar. It is often named as peoples favorite favorite Pixar movie and often on their list of favourite family movies. So now for some reason there is a sequel. There are unanswered question’s leftover from the first movie, I guess, but was this really another trip worth taking.

The movie takes place one year later after the end of the first movie yet it took over ten years for this move to come out. So it begs the question why? Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks as Dory and Marlin slip back into their roles with ease showing no sign of the decade between the time when they first performed these roles. Dory continues to be the optimistic one with short term memory loss so she always looks at things with fresh eyes, Marlin the more cautious and critical one, Hayden Rolence replaces Alexander Gould as Nemo because in ten years he no longer sounds like a little kid, but has the same sound and feel of the original. They are all living out their lives on the reef before it occurs to Dory that she must have a family, and that begins to allow memories to resurface. So she, Marlin and Nemo are now on a journey to track down her family.

The plot is mostly a repeat of the first movie, with an encounter with a scary creature, bizarre comedic relief that ultimately serve a purpose in aiding their search. What matters is that character development is not repeated and is still stands on its own. Many movies have the same structure what matters is the effort and little pieces of originality.

Dory meets the new, iconic supporting character that everyone will remember, Hank the Octopus (Ed O’Neil). He is traumatised of the open ocean, rather cynical towards Dory’s optimistic attitude but has to stay with her so he can get her tag which ensures he can stay in captivity. He is also an animation treat with seven (he lost one) legs all moving about without the restrictions of bones and has camouflage abilities which lead to (as you’d expect) many creative visuals and jokes.

It is obvious at this point that Pixar is one of the great animation studios, with heartfelt and brilliantly constructed stories, but also amazing animation capabilities too. This one is no exception, with all kinds of different textures going on at the same time, how under the surface of the water the image is more blurred but the color pallet more vibrant, as they swim it effects every grain of sand and whenever the fish come out of the water they are wet and can see the water trickle down their skin. And it captures that ethereal lighting and atmosphere that you get in an aquarium.

This is an unnecessary sequel, but it is also not the weakest sequel. This isn’t without clever moments and great effort being put into the animation. This takes us deeper into one of the great supporting characters in Pixar’s history, along the way we meet fun, memorable characters, are given moments of emotion that will stay with children until they’re old enough to fully understand them and instantly connect with adults.

Review Star Trek Beyond by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek is was with the concept that mankind had indeed reached a point beyond racism, sexism and it’s petty squabbles. The conflict was about to places and situations that they would meet out there in the big wide galaxy where no man has gone before.

With the new Star Trek continuity that was created with the rebooted movie back in 2011 it is indeed a chance to go where we haven’t before. We have the same characters but now they’ve been altered slightly which allows them to go in whole new different directions and development. So far they’ve been doing a fair job on that front.

We enter our plot about midway through the legendary five-year mission, Kirk (Chris Pine) is starting to become weary of the monotony of everything on The Enterprise and is even considering passing the Captain duties onto Spock (Zachary Quinto). However Spock has received bad news, his future self has passed, clearly referencing the real-world passing of Leonard Nimoy and has separated from Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Things are left unsaid before they meet a giant swarm of little ships that instantly engage in combat with The Enterprise, sending it crashing into the planet below.

With the Enterprise taken down the surviving crew members are now scattered on an alien planet and must survive. This leads to character iterations that are definitely the best parts of the movie. Smaller moments that make us feel for these characters, and show us them in ways that we haven’t seen them in for the fifty years of their existence.

Justin Lin takes over directing duties from J.J. Abrams being that he’s moved on to Star Wars. The major parts of Lin’s filmography are the Fast & Furious movies and it shows, he has a quick, slick passe to the way the scenes unfold which makes him a good choice to replace Abrams. He also clearly likes long twisting camera movements.

The movie is heavy on it’s action. Not to the point where it sacrifices plot or characterization but to be sure there are chunky moments of them. However these come with a little more brain work put in them than you’d normally be used to. The characters use what resources they have and gadgets, with limitations, at their disposal which adds a few unique visual flares to it and shows that the characters and filmmakers are smart.

Our main antagonist is a being named Krall. That at first glance appears to be a simple, blood-thirty alien that wants the federation destroyed. However things are revealed about him that make him something more. However, even though he is played by Idris Elba, a more than capable actor, this character never really works. Sure I understand his backstory and how he works, but you never really feel sympathetic towards him and I certainly didn’t ever understand his plan.

Star Trek is a franchise that comes with a lot to do justice to. It comes with long lasting, defined characters that must be done justice to and a sense of optimism and intelligence that the writers must bring to the table. This is indeed an action science fiction movie, but it has more brains going for it that an ordinary run-of-the-mill movie of that genre. And it has the characters that we all know and love still being pushed to new places and situations.

Review Suicide Squad By Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

Suicide Squad is a movie that takes place after Batman v Superman and focuses it’s attention on the villains of this universe. Further evidence that these creators have abandoned any wholesome or optimistic views of this world and these characters of superheroes.

This is one of those movies that has a team assembled for a job. Always with that comes the fact that you must rapidly introduce a cast of characters, get us invested in them and tell a full story. A difficult task.

For said team, the members consist of: Harley Quinn, a fan favorite that is finally getting her live action debut, in terms of casting Margot Robbie was the right choice with her cute face and ability to blend both bubbly fun, sadistically dangerous and tragically in love. The other is also the fan favourite of Deadshot, played by the always charismatic Will Smith, he is the wisecrack, expert marksman that can make demands and insult whoever he wants because he never misses. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) serves as someone to keep an eye on them for the government, a stern solider with an emotional weakness. Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a crazed Australian that, for some reason, has mastered the boomerang (as the name implies). El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) a former gang-banger with fire powers that is now a pacifist. Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) a deformed man that looks like a crocodile and society has turned into a monster. Enchantress a literal magical being that posses the body of a girl (Cara Delevingne). Katana (Karen Fukuhara), who wields a sword, and wears a mask, she doesn’t really have much else going for her beyond that. Smith and Robbie are definitely the best parts of the movie, they are the ones that have the most grasp on their characters and are given the most screen time and development.

Most of these character are sadistic, morally lacking characters that are also undefined. There is no reason we should like them beyond some of the, sort-of, cool things they do at times and they are our leading characters, whether we like them or not. But maybe we could grow to like them but are simply not even given any time to, what little we do get is a jumbled forced mess of montage edited together segments of exposition.

The other big name in the movie is Jared Leto playing The Joker. This is the next live action Joker since the character defining Heath Ledger performance in The Dark Knight so there’s much to live up to. Though I don’t believe you should compare one performance of these characters to another and simply let them stand on their own, it is difficult because Ledger left such an impact on the character. His performance isn’t “Rock Star” surprisingly, more like a crazed, brain fried gangster. I feel the talent that I know Leto is capable of, but there is an obvious lack of direction and grasp on what this character is. His look has parts good and parts tacky awfulness. White skin, neon green slicked back hair and thin psyche is good, but some of his wardrobe and inclusion of tattoos (literally having “Damaged written across his forehead”) are something that are tasteless and ludicrous with a complete lack of subtlety.

What is the plot that brings this team together? Good question. Well the Enchantress is actually bad and summons her brother, and is opening a gate to…hell? Another dimension? Where they can take over the world I guess, they make an army of other-worlds creatures, so maybe. I honestly cannot fully explain it, it is too complicated and too forced and nobody will care.

The movie unfolds be having forced exposition for its characters and scenarios by merely having their backstory summed-up with a few words from someone. Then forget about that its time to hit something. This is like how Fury Road operated but, where this movie fails where that one succeeded is that there was all the backstory and motivations worked out and they were intricately worked into every aspect of the character, from they’re wardrobe, performances and dialog. This is much less interested in getting us invested and rather saying snarky dialog and doing crazy things.

What really hurts this movie is that we have seen this literal concept, with most of these characters already done before. The directed to DVD animated movie Assault on Arkham. That movie was able to have a cast of characters, get us to know them, have them be villainous, but also likable and tell a whole story. Under an hour and a half.

The visuals of the movie are like something out of an MTV music video from the nineties. Fast editing, neon colors, lack of taste as well as subtlety. However I can say that this movie has a visual style and still knows that there is a thing called color and is a vital tool to use. So it is more vibrant that the murky, primarily gray looking movies that have come before.

For some of it you’ll be entertained, slightly. But for the most part you will be bored. But this is a movie that is seeking to entertain, trying to be energetic and fun. It fails, but at least it has its characters smiling, which is still a step-up from the recent movies. Yes the characters are morally lacking but they are villain, so that makes sense. But these aren’t as likeable and fun as Guardians of The Galaxy, nor is the characterisation as efficient as Assault on Arkham. But it still has energy, colour and smiles instead of still moodiness, so its a step-up from the previous movies.

Review The BFG by Jonathan Evans

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(4 / 5)

Roahl Dahl was a true writer of children’s fiction. He created stories of the truly fantastical that stirred the imagination of all who read them. Also he shaped simple but deep plots that could be understood but the simple thinking of children but also complex in a way that you will keep coming back to them years later. The BFG is a story about bravery and the importance of dreams.

Put simply we meet Sophie, a little orphan that is more responsible that the head carer in her orphanage. She knows that there is something that moves the London streets at night, one night she sees it for herself. A large, twenty-four-foot figure in a black robe. The figure sees her too and takes her. She is whisked off to another world and learns that she is in Giant Country. The one that has taken her is a giant but has no intention of eating her.

He will not take her back for fear she will tell people. So Sophie is in Giant Country indefinitely. And must do her best to navigate throughout this world of giant oily vegetables and host that is so large his bed is an entire ship.

The best part of the movie is the giant himself. Mark Rylance moves and is able to deliver the giants fragmented form of English with utter conviction and ease. An actor that was uncomfortable with the material would overcompensate by being too hammy, Rylance is able to speak the unique dialog with warmth, humor and even regret at times. His design is also a technical triumph. Like with Tintin the effects team are able to take the original illustrated character design and add all kinds of skin texturing and wrinkles lines to create a balance that forgoes the Uncanny Valley and more of a detailed illustration come to life.

The other best thing is Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. Speilberg has a talent for working with children, somehow he is able to communicate with them and get them to understand that material and get very solid performances out of his young stars. But there does obviously need to be talent there and Barnhill has so much of it. She is able to interact with things that are not really there and able to pull-off scared, witty and awe convincingly.

The C.G.I. is something that’s beautifully realized. There are as much practical effects in the movie as can be, but most of it is C.G.I. and it looks like a lush, vibrant painting. The sunlight shines through the the hair and bounces off skin, dreams are matter that take different shapes depending on their nature.

What else can be said about Steven Spielberg? He is one of the most acclaimed names in all of movie history. He knows the formula of how to compose a satisfying movie. Knowing how to expertly compose and light shots but also also with the story for having moments of levity, but also dark ones to balance everything out. With this new technology he is able to have swooping, intricate shots that would be impossible in live-action. As-well as that show things that would be impossible, Jumping into a reflection, having the camera follow them and then flipping one-hundred-eighty degrees when they come out the other side, for example. Though there are a few moments that seem like he just wanted t make sure the kids would laugh.

As must always come with a Spielberg movie is the music of John Williams. Williams who has so many of the greatest movie scores under his belt doesn’t need another one. But yet he does anyway. His score here heightens the mood and feel of whatever situation it plays for and ranges from scary and intimidating, bouncing and magical, and quiet and lonely.

This movie is something that children should experience. They should know that dreams and courage are important, that there are threats in this world but they can be overcome. And see images that will enrich their imagination for years to come.

Review Ghostbusters by Jonathan Evans

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(3 / 5)

Ghostbusters is one of those names that has become crystallized through the love and nostalgia the original garnered in the eighties. Now it’s the time where a movie must be made of the same title again because studios will bet (and probably be right) in thinking that remakes are a more financially worthy pursuit than originality.

This is a pill every regular movie goer must swallow. Hollywood operates as a business so they will make the easy cash grab choices. However this does not, instantly mean that the movie itself will be bad. There’s still an opportunity for the filmmakers and actors to bring something new to the property and make it feel like the original.

So first lets establish what Ghostbusters is. Well its a diverse team of four funny people that take down the ghouls and goblins in a modern world and the peoples fate lies in their hands even though they have no business being heroes. Lets begin.

Our motley gang this time is composed of Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) a scientist of the paranormal but seeks a normal, respectable life. Abby Yates (Melisa McCarthy) also a scientist but one that more actively seeks the paranormal and doesn’t care what the public thinks of her. Then there is the tech genius and my favorite, Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and fizzy mad scientist with a shock head of hair and large round yellow goggles to emphasize her crazy eyes and speaking whatever loopy thing comes into her head because she is simply enjoying the madness of her own world. This is the most original character in the movie, not something we’ve seen before. Then there’s Patty Tolan the most sane or at least, street level one of them that adds the audience perspective to the group. She doesn’t know about the tech or the science but knows about the history of the city. Then there’s Chris Hemsworth again putting a twist on the previous movie but being a good looking hunk but also being as dumb as rubber, who’s probably got by with his looks this whole time. But he means well so there’s that.

So now with all that established the question still lies, is this funny? Yes, yes it is. There are indeed a good handful of funny moments within the movie that made me laugh. The jokes range from dialog to visual (most of the best ones coming from Holtzman). However there are others that are simply not funny or loose their way as they go on. This is a case of a little rewriting and/or some editing needed to make them flow more easier.

However the weakest part of the movie are when cast members from he original movie make cameos. They are really distracting, few of them add anything and can probably be cut out entirely. Cameos have to be weaved in so that you can see them and if your in-the-know you can appreciate them, but if the movie stops and you don’t know who’s on-screen then it just takes you out. The weakest one is Bill Murray and what they do with him is really tasteless.

In terms of continuity it would seem like this is a whole new separate entity. There seems to have never been any other group that called themselves Ghostbusters before this. Ow well, that just makes this a reboot/remake (whichever category it falls under), it doesn’t really hurt it.

With years since the original eighties movie comes upgrades, as there always must. We see the PKE meter but it looks different but we get the traditional Proton-Packs only we get other models with variations. There’s a suction pack, grenades and even one where you hold in your hand and is activated by motion so you can punch ghosts in the face. These are creative variations on the classic designs, we still have the originals in the movie but we also get the new.

Is this a good movie? Yes there’s plenty of good that outweighs the bad and I’d gladly see it again. Is this Ghostbusters, yes, because what are the Ghostbusters if not colorful blue collar comedians with guns.

Review The Neon Demon by Jonathan Evans

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(4 / 5)

The Neon Demon is a movie that is entirely contrasted by its light and dark segments. Sometimes there are scenes that are perfectly illuminated, others that are pure black, save for those little shapes that emerge from said darkness before they are enveloped by them. Then there are the crossroad scenes where there is equal light and darkness on both sides and eventually, one must be taken.

Elle Fanning is an up-and-coming model that seems to have what it takes. She is slim, blonde and beautiful. Everyone seems to gravitate towards her, she gets signed with an agency easily, the top photographers desperately want to photograph her and the other models have their plastic surgeons cut and stretch their faces to make them more desirable while she simply is. So she becomes desired by some, while for others the source of hate and both to others still. That really is the grand total of the plot. The rest of the experience consists of mood and images that we are given to experience.

We’ve seen this story before, plenty of times the story has been told of the bright lights of Hollywood that cast dark shadows and the pressure and ugly side of fame. Movies like Black Swan, Hollywoodland, The Informers, Perfect Blue, Birdman are examples off the top of my head. Having a similar theme or message is fine in a movie, but what it needs is to distinguish itself from the others so that it’s original. This movie operates on the level of a music video. Having more emphasis on the mood and the image with minimal dialog sequences with such distance that look like they’re out of a Kubrick movie. Director Nichols Winding Refn works best when creating inspired new images and environments.

The mastery that Refn has on placing of the lighting and sets makes him a category of his own. No one else has such images and scenarios running through their mind. He always paints such striking, and quietly disturbing setups to put the characters in or physiologically experience.

The other prominent presence in the movie is the musical score by Cliff Martinez. At times it is a twinkling fairy-tale tune and others a fever dream, and it always fits with the pacing and colors on-screen.
People have said that a re-make of Susperia will happen one day. Well while a true re-make would be foolish this film is like a spiritual successor. Both are horrors in terms of their frightening moments, mostly Fe-male cast and have their sets and musical scores speak more than their dialog ever could.

Something you will walk away from this movie remembering are some of the darkest, most disturbing scenes in movie history. Moments that are born from the most depraved part of the human Psyche and desires warped by evil intent. But darkness can be forgiven if there is genuine intent and reason for it. Having something unsettling on-screen is one thing but whether its because the filmmakers want you to think about the why rather than hoping to get a reaction from you and then leave you with nothing.

The Neon Demon will leave you with something. It is a dark look into the pursuit of fame and beauty. But also the knowledge that if that is someones soul goal then it will lead them out of the bright lights, then they’ll be the darkness and nothing will be left.

Review World of Warcraft by Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

When you are given a movie like Warcraft, that’s based on an online computer game that has over eight million people playing it daily, over a dozen different races on both sides and has the most dense lore of nearly any franchise you will ever find, you have to wonder. Could this be any good at all? Or can it even be coherent?

We are told the tale of a world named Azeroth, a magical world where there has been a conflict between the humans and the Orcs for as long as anyone can remember. How it all began is the purpose of the story. We are taken back to the beginning where one world was thriving and one was dying, so in order to survive the Orcs used dark magic to open a portal so they could travel to a world where they could live. I like this setup, there are evil characters and forces at work but this is a case of two races seeking the most basic thing, survival, none can really be blamed for that, so there isn’t really a bad guy.

I found that when it came to writing this review I could not for the life of me remember any of the characters names. In-fact even while the movie was going on I couldn’t hold their names in my head. They were just too complicated and and got lost amidst all the others names and exposition.

I did play World of Warcraft for three years so I know things that the average person would not and that in-itself is dangerous. Putting references in are fine but too much emphasis or not enough explanation can leave the viewer feeling like they are at a table where they don’t know anybody, awkward and unwelcome. But this movie is constructed so that a non-fan can understand the world just fine, there’s magic, barbarians, monsters, kings the regular cast and characters you’d expect to see in any fantasy story.

In order to bring a fully fictional world to life special effects are required. Whether that be through computers or through built sets to create environments that have never existed in our world. As well as that makeup or again computers must be utilized to create other races and creatures into existence. This movie uses both. On a purely aesthetic level, this is such a mixed bag. The Orcs and their world are the best part of it, they look and move convincingly (though I question how they can enunciate so well with those tusks) and their environments are rendered as well as the graphic art of the video game itself. While in the other areas they look very cheap. Some effects are like painting come to life while others are like impressive internet videos, which at a movies standard are not very good.

Again the acting is either hit or miss. The Orcs, having to act using their imagination and then the animators putting the finishing touches over it looks very impressive, magnificently well rendered with all kinds of details in their costume and texture to their skin. It’s when its all live action when you have a hard time believing anything. It’s too extravagant and doesn’t look realistic, too polished

In order to keep the conflict going they implant a tragedy of both inevitability and irony. Or at least that’s what they want to do. It is clearly something so this movie can be the stepping stone for more movies. But this ain’t Shakespeare, what happens in this movie is OK in ideas and pretty clunky in execution.

Can a movie be judged for how bad it could have been? I do not envy the screenwriters for being dealt this library of source information and having to channel it all down into a one-hundred and twenty page screenplay while having to make it all coherent. This could have been our generations Dune. This not that, it’s just a very mixed bag of a movie. There’s clearly ideas here and the hordes (pun intended) of Warcraft player will undoubtedly make the movie successful which will lead to more movies in the future. Previous experience is not required, so really all you’ll see is a movie that is at times good and others times surprisingly bad but still with a competent plot.

Twenty years of Kingdom Come and what have we learned? by Jonathan Evans

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The best pieces of work are born  from a reaction of the time they’re created on but have themes and morals that transcend and will always be relevant. Though Dr. Strangelove was created through nuclear terror it will always be watchable because of the laughs and the way it paints a portrait of the craziness of life. 1984 was written at a time where totalitarianism was seemingly taking over, yet we continue to adsorb the material because we still have those fears and worries.

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Kingdom Come is an Elsewhere miniseries from DC comics. It tells the story of years later from the regular status quo where the age of the heroes that we all know has passed and a new breed of heroes have taken their place. Heroes that kill their enemies and care nothing for collateral damage on the city they’re fighting in nor the civilians caught in-between. But eventually Superman Batman and Wonder Woman can stand back no longer and must return, but they face the question, does their brand of justice still work?

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In 1992 the comic company Image was formed. It’s founding members were Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarland, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri. It’s main policy was that creators could create properties without censoring restrictions or having to give-up their copyrights to their characters. This allowed the artists to create without any of the usual restrictions they would face from the “Big Two” (DC and MARVEL) but with that freedom came flatulent indulgence in their more base instinct and lack of inhibition. The characters were barely original, plots were thin and this was clearly a case of artist being given the heavy task of writing without possessing that talent. What we had were books where the heroes are heroes in name only. Because they killed willy-nilly and are just plain unpleasant people that you wouldn’t want to be around in real life, let alone pay money to read about them. But yet people did. The early Image titles sold well and changed the coarse of comics forever. They clearly tapped into the pulse of the youths at that time. Five splash pages every issue protagonist that drink, are sloppy and the stories were as thin as the paper they’re printed on. They picked them up, some people got rich, nobody got smarter and they were dropped and never picked up again.

But Alex Ross, now one of the biggest names in comics saw what was happening and needed an answer to it. He came up with the base concept of the book but it was only pieces, he was given Mark Waid a living comic encyclopaedia and equal lover of the true blue heroes and it was with their combination that  it really took form.  Kingdom Come was conceived in the wake of this terrible age but it came out when they were actually getting back on track, 1996. Titles like Grant Morrison’s Justice League, James Robinson’s Starman were things that reignited the feel of what the superhero ere should be. Riveting, imagination filled stories with a sense of hope.

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In the year 2013 we got the new cinematic Superman for this generation, Man of Steel. The image of the technology was sharper and denser, the costume was more elaborate and the color was absent. It ended in a battle which the writer of Kingdom Come himself described as “destruction porn.” A battle between two super-beings that results in dozens of square miles of property damage, definitely over a thousand people dead and no attempt on our “heroes” part to move the fight to a less populated area, finally ending with him killing his enemy.

That part alone was the start of so much debate. Should he? Should he not? Is not killing outdated? Beyond the fact that I don’t believe that Superman would ever do this, it goes against his ideals, both him as a character and his point. To always find a better way. That and there were at least a half doze ways he could have not killed him in that moment.

But lets address the question as to why shouldn’t he kill. Well at the base of everything Superman is an ideal, a fully fleshed-out character yes, but that is the point of him. He is meant to embody the hope and optimism that we should strive for. And he is meant for children first and foremost, yes adults can enjoy him too and can be used for more sophisticated stories but you must never loose that child demographic. If he kills then he is saying that life is worthless, if he takes a life then where does it end? He does not kill because all life is sacred and no one is lesser than him. In the sequel Batman v Superman the Man of Steel meets with The Dark Knight. The colours continue to get darker, Batman is a hypocrite because he himself is a mass murderer and we have no contrast between the two characters because they’re both dark, brooding men that have forgotten how to smile. It’s been twenty years and DC has forgotten the lessons that should never have been forgotten. Ironically though MARVEL keeps the lessons true to form.

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However in the MARVEL movies they do seem to understand the morals and lesson of the book. In Age of Ultron, a fight ensues between Iron Man and the Hulk. While it’s going on Iron Man tries to take Hulk out of the city but fails. At least there was an effort. Later in the movie, right before the big action climax, they use Scarlett Witch to evacuate all he people they can out so they can fight with no civilian casualties. They don’t evacuate everyone, and there was civilian life lost. But they tried and succeeded in taking out the villain and the death toll was as low as it could possible be.

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In the most recent movie Civil War the point that separates out heroes is that the Sacovia Accord. It was created because of the collateral damage that has arisen from these battles of super-people. Early on in the movie a bomb is about to go off and Scarlett Witch shoots it into the air. Yes, they have not saved everyone, because there’s no such thing as a perfect victory with these things. But they know that they need to save as many people as they can. Later in the movie Black Panther confronts that man responsible for his fathers, as well as numerous other peoples deaths. He lost his wife and child in the battle with Ultron, but in his quest to tear the Avengers apart he has found no happiness and others have been dragged into his misery. Black Panther then sees that vengeance will not grant him self satisfaction and it will corrupt everyone around him. So he takes him in alive saying such true words “The living are not done with you yet.”

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We were in a time where juvenile, popular creators were given free reign to craft stories where heroes were only heroes because their names were on the titles of the book. Kingdom Come taught us that even though there may no be perfect victories our heroes should still strive to do what they can for the people that they have taken a vow to protect the people.

Review Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows by Jonathan Evans

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(2 / 5)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always worked best as a genre where it welcomes the weird and the insane on a whim. A world where our four main characters are the most unlikely culmination of things that have ever been conceived in pop-culture and now face creations of equal or greater feats of insane genius. Perhaps this is why they have had a hard time in the world of live action movies and the medium of animation and comics just seems to suit them better.

The first movie got no love from me as a lifelong fan of movies and the Turtles. This one, from the first few trailers, you could tell that they were leaning to a different direction. This is a course correction of a sequel. I would argue that if the first movie wasn’t even that good then that shouldn’t even justify a sequel. But we live in a world of franchises, so sometimes we must roll with the punches.

As soon as they appear we instantly see an improvement. Their feature have been refined and improved. They look less ghoulish, the colours are more vibrant, less accessories that make their overall designs less cluttered and their facial features have been smoothed out. They look less terrifying.

Shredder returns as an antagonist in this movie. He is still a very undefined villain in this movie franchise. Although this time he was thwarted by the Turtles so he wants revenge. That’s at least a motivation. However dropped in our laps is Kraang a villain that every fan knows but has never made a live-action appearance until now. His design is out of the old 50’s alien designs. A big talking brain with a face on it.

Even with all the previously mentioned improvements this movie has some of the most forced, amateur examples of exposition you will ever see. These are moments that they put in-front of you to show how not to write conversations. How they were able to get away with it in this movie I have no idea. Silly and nonsensical is on thing. But this is just bad writing, in-excusable.

We then get even more characters in the form of two thugs named Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus). They are the two block-headed thugs to enforce the big-bad’s will. But they go through a mutation that will give them the edge against the Turtles. Again adding to the ever-expanding-cast is Casey Jones. Stephen Amell is given some tough scenes to act-through. I mean tough in the terms that the comedy and mentality is terribly forced. He gets moments to be charming and to say a few quips, which he does very well.

As well as all the characters that are added (some I haven’t even mentioned) we are shown further development with the Turtles themselves as a family. They are becoming frustrated with having to hide themselves away from society that they love so much and want to join it. However they are still ninjas, which means they must operate stealthily (how they been able to remain hidden considering their huge, hulking physic is beyond me).

Is this an improvement over the last movie? Yes. At least it is closer to the appeal of the Turtles. The gruesome edges have been sanded down and is a much smoother experience. The moments of exploitation are still here but no more real moments of creepiness. Still there is a wrapped and forced sense of comedy and not much heart.

This is not a good movie, but all ratings are meant to be relevant not absolute. So I consider how weak the first movie was and how much better this one is.

Review Captain America Civil War by Jonathan Evans

captain-america-civil-war

When an irresistible force such as you, meets an old immovable object like me, you can bet just as sure as you live. Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give.
Frank Sinatra, Something’s Gotta Give

Captain America Civil War

(5 / 5)

The reason Superheroes have been able to endure for so long is because they have always told the next story. Sure Superman will always wear a big red cape and fly, Batman will always don the cowl and punch muggers but there is still a long lasting continuity to these characters and in order to keep them going the villains need to find new ways of fighting them and the consequences of their action have to catch up to them. Civil War is a movie about two paths laying before superheroes, one must be taken, the problem is that the heroes are also people, ergo flawed. So they differ on which is the right path and truly believe they are right, so they will stand by their beliefs to the end.

Early on we get one of those sharply worded, briskly shot action scenes, we see a bad guy with a cool name and an equally cool outfit steal a biological weapon, he is stopped but at a cost of a hospital exploding. This is the event that gets the nations of the world to sit the superheros down and talk. All the events in recent years, The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Winter Solider and now this have had far reaching devastation with a lot of collateral damage.

The “Sokovia Accords” will be a special jury lead by multiple people from the United Nations that will determine what situation requires the superheroes attention. Tony. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is for it and understands that with such power as they wield there must be safeguards to keep them in check. But Steve, Captain America (Chris Evans) argues that such boards usually act with a vested interest, also what if they don’t get together and give them permission in time? He stands by the belief that “the best hands are still our own.” So it becomes a case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, Tony wants to go forward with this new system but Steve is unconvinced and does not budge in his beliefs.

Before this review goes any further I feel it’s important for my own feelings be known. Captain America has always been my favourite character in the MARVEL movies and I was on his team before the movie came out and was still on his side during it. But there still remains a valid argument for either side. This could have been a simple case of one are the idiots the others are smart, these are obviously the good guys and this is who we’re meant to root for. But no, they go the more adult and interesting route where each member on each side is there for their own reasons. Neither is the villain, just a clash of ideologies that either is willing to fight for. There is a villain that lurks in the shadows who sets-up all the pieces to fight, but I do question if we really needed it.

The writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely know how to write with clarity and engaging characters. This is a movie that’s over two hours long so there’s enough time for everything, but they operate on a method where every scene is necessary and we know everything, or at least enough going into each action scene. In the dialogue scenes there are no wasted words or moments so you understand the characters very quickly, then we are able to get invested in the action. It is on-par with Mad Max: Fury Road.

The cast of characters in this movie is immense. It has most of the per-established characters from the previous movies and introduces new players that will most likely get their own movie and other moments in later films. But it works on the level of the actual comics now. We see Ant-Man, understand him and then will probably want to go back and checkout his movie. Also in the short time they have with everything else going on we get characters like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spiderman (Tom Holland) and are able to engage with them through very efficient directing and screenwriting.

As said we need to know the people fighting so we are invested, but good action is still essential. For a good action scene we need to know the layout of the environment and understand who did what when, if we loose track of the basics of what is happening on-screen then it simply becomes lights and noise. However if we keep seeing the same set-up it will become stagnant regardless, the Russo brothers know this so they don’t make the action tedious, they add unique twists or perspectives on their action set-pieces so that its something more engaging. For example a stairway fight, two combatants have enhanced body power so they can do more extreme movements, also one is willing to kill while the other isn’t.

And still, even with all these stakes and dark moments in the movie, we are still treated to comedy and moments of levity. Even here they understand that superheroes are meant to be characters where we can feel good and have fun. There are more than a few examples of movies that cram too much stuff in it just leaves the audience confused and frustrated. Batman v Superman and Jupiter Ascending come to mind. But Civil War is able to so efficiently explain and deliver the characters for the conflict, without necessarily needing to see the previous movies (though you will want to after seeing it) and keep you engaged at all time and with everyone.

Civil War takes out the villain aspect of these movies and puts hero against hero, not in a battle of good verses evil, but a fight for how to serve the greater good. And the drama of these two characters coming to blows isn’t from that mere fact it is happening, but that it was always meant to happen.