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A.P. Fuchs, author of The Axiom-man Saga "www.canisterx.com"

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3 Disc) (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3 Disc) (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Price: CDN$ 24.96

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Super Prologues, May 2 2016
After witnessing the battle between Superman and General Zod in Metropolis, Bruce Wayne takes it upon himself to ensure the Man of Steel isn’t a rogue alien who might one day enslave the human race. In the meantime, Lex Luthor has sworn to ensure humanity’s survival by securing for himself Kryptonite, which is later discovered to be the one thing that can weaken Superman. Worse, Luthor has a secret project tracking metahuman activity across the globe, which prompts Diana Prince to obtain the confidential data he has on her. To complicate matters, Luthor has also acquired the body of General Zod and creates from it an unstoppable killing machine—Doomsday, a being more powerful than even Superman. It’s going to take Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to take down the beast lest the city—even the planet—is destroyed by this destructive force.

Okay, this is a first impression review, with some processing time after.

Batman v Superman is a comic book movie, and not in the campy sense. It has the feel of DC’s direct-to-video animated features and there’s an atmosphere to the movie that superheroes belong in the world created.

The downside to the flick is it doesn’t work as a stand-alone film. There’s no strict A to B to C to the story. It’s more an introduction of story elements that will all play out in future DC movies instead. It’s like the first part of a giant graphic novel, and it is my hope that years down the road when all the other DC movies are released, what we will have is one massive story instead of what is usually given to us in today’s superhero flicks: each one a self-contained tale with subplots running through them that culminate in team-up adventures. If indeed DC’s plan is to make one giant movie, then that’s something never attempted before and never in the superhero genre. If this is the case, that’s brilliant and should be applauded. It’s jarring for moviegoers, but once they catch onto what’s going on, they’ll no doubt be amazed. After all, we do like our epics both on the big screen and TV.

Superman/Clark Kent. Once again, Henry Cavill delivers as the Last Son of Krypton. In fact, I think his performance is a step up from his previous outing in Man of Steel. That first flick was about Superman finding his footing, and while there is still some of that here, it’s more about the world finding its footing now that Superman is on the scene. You can tell Superman has become a beacon of hope to the world despite how some might view him as a threat. He’s bigger, stronger, and carries with him that air of awe and wonder Superman should. We’re not supposed to relate to this god-like being, but instead look up to him as something and someone to aspire to, and Superman is very much coming into that form as the flick goes on. As for the Clark Kent side, reporter Clark in this flick was pretty much just Average Joe. There wasn’t all that much involved in creating a clear line between Superman and Clark Kent, that strong sense of two separate people. I wish there was, but I also see how Average Joe works better in the reality established in these movies than someone who’s an over-the-top nerd. At the same time, it would’ve been nice to see Clark trip over his own feet or bump into a desk or something to really give off that whole there’s-no-way-this-guy-can-be-Superman thing. There was also one scene I had so hoped for in this movie that never came and that was the classic Clark ripping his shirt open to reveal the S. Perhaps in another movie.

Batman/Bruce Wayne. When Ben Affleck was cast, I got behind it right away. I’m an Affleck fan and knew he could deliver on what would be a worn-out Bruce Wayne, which would eventually give way to a worn-out Batman. What can I say? Affleck did a superb job. He did the playboy thing—though he could’ve played up the douche bag part a bit; yet at this point in his life, a cocky playboy might not be in the cards for him—and also did well when it was just him and Alfred. As Batman, this is the Batman we’ve been waiting for. Finally, oh finally, we got to see the comic book Batsuit and a Batman who’s fighting and action was the stuff that made the Arkham games so darn good. He also played the detective, which was never really in the other movies. And the bat-atmosphere? That part where he’s hanging in the corner in the dark and the light shines on him? Spooky and gorgeous. I also enjoyed the final fight and how Batman was portrayed. His limits as a human being with gadgets was shown, which is good, because I’m tired of stories where Batman somehow saves the day instead of the beings that are so much more powerful than him. I’m really excited for the forthcoming Bat-flicks with Ben Affleck in the lead.

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Small hero part in this movie, comparatively speaking to the two male leads. As Diana Prince, Gal Gadot was mysterious and intriguing. There was also a sense of detachment about her which, once you learn who she really is, makes perfect sense since she’s from Themyscyra. When the Wonder Woman reveal happened, she stole the show. Sorry Superman and Batman, you were outshone big time. She had a heroic entrance—which is so important in superhero movies—a killer score, and was completely badass when she got down to business and helped in the fight against Doomsday. What was also interesting is while the movie didn’t get too much into who she was, she stilled carried her own weight and felt fleshed-out anyway. Of course, this could all be in my head since I know who Wonder Woman is and enough of her backstory to fill in the gaps. With the Wonder Woman movie in production as of the writing of this review, I know I’ll be one of the first in line when it comes out. She was that good.

Lex Luthor. If Jesse Eisenberg is good at one thing, it’s playing the prideful I’m-smarter-than-everybody-else-in-the-room guy. And, yeah, that’s who Lex Luthor is. He’s a genius, and despite what he tells the public, has a contempt for humanity because he thinks he’s above it. Of course, the paradox is that he himself is human. In that regard, Jesse Eisenberg did a fine job. However, I still feel he was too youthful for the role since Lex is older than Superman in other incarnations, and Lex—as crazy as he can be sometimes—is more of a reserved crazy than someone more animated. It was this animated part that brought Lex down, in my opinion. Crazy is fine. Smart crazy is even better, but this kind of Joker-esque displays that happened now and then were out of place. Maybe given the ending Lex’s personality will change and he’ll be more reserved. We’ll see.

Lois Lane. Amy Adams works for me. She does the hard-nosed journalist thing quite well, and the standard Lois Lane thing of getting herself into hot spots so only Superman can come to the rescue. I don’t mind this trope so long as it isn’t all the time. Her role in this flick wasn’t a main one like in Man of Steel. She was more part of Superman’s support team despite her entanglement in some of the later conflicts in the movie.

Alfred Pennyworth. What can I say? Jeremy Irons did a good job as Alfred, who is also Batman’s co-combatant. Sure, he didn’t don a costume and get out there and fight bad guys, but helped Batman from the Batcave as a sort of special ops overseer. More importantly, he acted as Bruce Wayne’s conscience and wasn’t afraid to go up against him when he disagreed with something. As much as Robin’s job is to keep Batman grounded, it’s Alfred’s job as well, and since he is older than Bruce, he can provide wisdom in areas Bruce isn’t familiar with. Good choice having Jeremy Irons in the role.

There were a few moments in the film where I wished things had gone in a different direction, but that could just be my taste as opposed to my ideas being better.

Unfortunately, WB and DC marketed this movie as one thing and what it was was something different. Once you get over that hurdle and see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for what it’s meant to be in the greater DC Universe, then a lot of pieces fall into place and it’s highly enjoyable.

Go see it.

Zoom: Academy for Superheroes Bilingual
Zoom: Academy for Superheroes Bilingual
DVD ~ Tim Allen
Price: CDN$ 5.00
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.97

3.0 out of 5 stars A Zooming Good Time!, July 12 2015
Captain Zoom used to be a great superhero and leader of the government-sponsored superteam, Team Zenith. When the government tried to enhance his powers and those of his brother, Concussion, something went terribly wrong and Concussion turned evil and killed his teammates. Zoom stopped him and after the explosion, Concussion was presumed dead and Zoom lost his powers. Thirty years later, the government tries to resurrect Team Zenith using new kids with superpowers and recruits the retired Captain Zoom to train them. At the promise of a big paycheck, Zoom reluctantly agrees and when it’s revealed that the real reason behind the resurrection of the team is because the government discovered Concussion is still alive in another dimension and is plotting his return, Zoom takes it upon himself to make the team ready before his evil brother comes back and puts the planet in jeopardy.

This movie is based on the children’s book Amazing Adventures from Zoom’s Academy by Joe Lethcoe. It’s a lighthearted superhero comedy, which is kind of like X-Men but with kids and tailored to that audience. Which is totally fine because kids need superhero movies, too, and with the majority of mainstream superhero stuff geared toward adults, I’m glad flicks like this are made.

This flick is chock-full of big names and recognizable faces: Chevy Chase, Rip Torn, Courtney Cox, and, of course, Tim Allen in the lead. Speaking of whom, Tim Allen was pretty funny in this and if you liked him in Galaxy Quest, he’s pretty much playing the same character of someone who once had glory but has fizzled out. The thing, too, is aside from the funny bits, when it came time to be serious and/or reflective and sad, he nailed it as well and you genuinely felt bad for the guy.

Courtney Cox was the biggest dork in this movie, which was perfect because that was her character. And she played it straight, too, that is, there was no tongue-in-cheek here, but a beautiful nerd that made you love her and roll your eyes at her at the same time.

Chevy Chase—big fan. As the head scientist for Team Zenith, he’s just following orders, and with his trademark deadpan humor and wit, I can watch the guy all day.

The kids who made up Team Zenith: just fine. Cute. Funny with kid stuff. The little girl with the superstrength was adorable. The teenager stuff played by actors who were older in real life than their characters—such a Hollywood thing—I could do without, but I hate teenage angst garbage and wish we as a species could just skip those years as we go from kid to grownup. The superpowers displayed were definitely budget: superstrength, telekinetics, invisibility and clairvoyance, and a kid who can blow his body up like a balloon. Yet they worked those not-so-awe-inspiring abilities into the story and made them work for what they needed them to.

I will say that when Captain Zoom cranks up the superspeed later on, it’s pretty cool and makes me excited for a Flash movie if it ever happens.

Overall, Zoom is a decent flick, good for kids, and if you’re a superhero fan it’s worth checking out for the sake of a fun time. However, if you’re one of those people where everything has to be top notch, then you’ll be disappointed.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
X-Men 3: The Last Stand (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Hugh Jackman
Offered by MOVIES&GAMES
Price: CDN$ 13.50

4.0 out of 5 stars The War is On!, July 8 2015
3.5 out of 5

When a cure is developed to rid mutants of their unusual abilities, the mutant community is torn in two, with some more than happy to get rid of what they view as a curse, while others are vehemently against it. Outraged at this development, Magneto makes war on the humans for trying to rid the world of mutantkind and the X-Men stand in the gap to stop him.

This movie has a lot going on and seems to serve as an ending to the previous two movies, bringing to fruition a major confrontation between the X-Men and the Brotherhood. These two teams, while having skirmished in the other movies, never had an all-out battle and this flick shows that. It also brings to pass a version of the Dark Phoenix storyline with Jean Grey returning from the dead as the Phoenix and working for the bad guys.

From an action standpoint, this movie has tons of it and it’s really cool. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) kicks butt as usual, while having the Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) running around and smashing into things makes you cheer. Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) ups the metal-controlling ante in this—I mean, lifting a bridge? Flipping semis? Awesome!—and even having Beast (Kelsey Grammer) beasting it up adds a level of excitement that makes this comic-book-come-to-life a thrill. And when Jean Grey lets loose and destroys her childhood home while a bunch of X-Men and Brotherhood folks are fighting inside it? That was some jaw-dropping stuff!

From a story standpoint, it kind of falters. In a general sense—the overall story, I mean—it’s fine as is. That is, the “what it’s about.” The delivery, however, seems to suffer from the same thing Spider-Man 3 did: too much going on and not enough time to tell it in. Had this third X-Men movie either been part one of two or even the first in a trilogy where the mutant cure is introduced, a war brews, there’s a big battle, some people die, etc. then that would’ve been fine. But it didn’t happen that way. I don’t know if that’s because of a change in hands of directors or what.

The other thing that I didn’t like—but could’ve worked had the story justified it/been expanded into another movie or two—was everyone dying. We lost some major people in this movie and for seemingly no good reason. I have no trouble with killing off major characters. It can definitely add to the story . . . when done right. In this flick, there didn’t seem any justification for it.

What’s amazing is thanks to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, depending on how that plays out, there’s a chance of undoing some of the stuff that fell short in this outing and bringing back some people from the dead. After all, isn’t that what time travel’s for?

In the meantime, yeah, if you want a fun superhero movie, I’d still recommend X-Men: The Last Stand.

X-Men: First Class  [Blu-ray + Digital Copy]
X-Men: First Class [Blu-ray + Digital Copy]
DVD ~ James McAvoy
Price: CDN$ 9.96
28 used & new from CDN$ 5.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars X-Men: First on my List!, July 5 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
4.5 out of 5

After writing a thesis on mutation, university student Charles Xavier is approached by the CIA for his expertise on the subject as they’ve been tracking the villain Sebastian Shaw, who keeps mutant company. Once convincing the CIA mutants exist, Charles begins to form a team of mutants to go up against Shaw before he can execute his plans to start a third World War.

Loaded with thrills, excitement, stunning SFX, fun cameos and a strong story, X-Men: First Class is an amazing prequel to the X-Men films that won’t leave you disappointed.

X-Men: First Class is one of my favorites. It was also a good chance to kind of give the X-franchise a boost after X-Men: The Last Stand. What was cool about First Class is it takes place in the same universe on the same timeline and is indeed a true prequel to the X-franchise we all know and love. Yes, there are some continuity flaws, but overall the whole thing flows. Besides, any other bumps that need ironing out can always be fixed with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past as, well, time travel fixes everything.

The two main characters in this are Wolverine and . . . wait, kidding, it’s Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and this story goes way back to when they first met and were even on the same team fighting for the same ideals. You got to see how that friendship was forged because their friends-yet-foes relationship was so prominent in the other movies that to make it the spotlight of this one was a smart move.

This is truly an origin tale as you got to see Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in her humble beginnings, Professor X all the way back to when he was twelve; they recreated the Nazi camp beginning from X-Men for Magneto’s origin and then expanded on that—which kicked off the main plot of the movie in which Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wants to use the mutants under his command to kick off World War III—and also how Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hault) becomes all blue and furry as Beast.

Like the other X-flicks, this movie is amazing at being an ensemble film where each character is given care, the right amount of time in the spotlight, each having unique relationships with the others, and who-does-what-and-why is clearly explained. As a storyteller myself, I find this kind of writing fascinating because it’s easy to fall into the trap of just focusing on one or two people and that’s it, the rest of the supporting cast being way too supporting and not enough of their own people. I think the secret was the X-Men—whether good guy or bad—were approached from the angle of family, the idea that as mutants their mutation was their common bond and it was all for one and one for all regardless of personalities or even if people got along or not. There’s even a bond between the heroes and villains of this flick because of their mutation.

The SFX were out of sight. The flying sequences were thrilling, the teleportations were amazing, the nods to the other movies—complete with cameos so watch closely—totally added to the world-building of the X-universe. That and the attention to the source material—using the yellow costumes from the classic comics, for example—and the overall story make this an awesome X-Men movie.

Man, just writing this review makes me want to go watch it again.

Highly recommended.

X-Men (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
X-Men (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Hugh Jackman
Price: CDN$ 8.00
4 used & new from CDN$ 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Movie That Started the Superhero Craze!, May 16 2015
A small percentage of the world’s population has natural mutations in their genetic code, each manifesting themselves differently. For many, it leads to special talents and abilities, but such capabilities come at a high cost: ostracization from society. Two factions have risen: one which believes that these “mutants” and the rest of humanity can live peacefully side-by-side, and another which believes a war is coming between mutant and humankind, one in which only one side will prevail.

Welcome to the world of the X-Men.

This flick is considered by many to be the beginning of the modern day superhero film era. Yes, we had Blade before this, but X-Men really cracked the door open in terms of taking a well-known comic property and bringing it to the big screen. Not only that, but there is some serious acting firepower in this movie, namely actors who don’t do garbage, so right there that says something. Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, Anna Paquin as Rogue—yeah, big deal stuff. Then you throw who was then an unknown into the role of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and you suddenly have a bunch of talented actors taking a serious stab at a story about mutants with superpowers.

Bryan Singer was known for The Usual Suspects before this flick, and with him at the helm, we got an X-flick that was serious, funny in the right parts, plausible and just plain cool.

They did right to take the most popular X-character—Wolverine—and tell the story primarily from his point-of-view. I mean, this role made Hugh Jackman’s career and it’s a role he’s gone back to six times, not including the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past due in 2014.

While the all-black leather costumes weren’t really my thing—I liked the more colorful ones from X-Men: First Class better, which were based off the classic comic book costumes—they brought a level of realism to the movie and prompted that joke later on when Wolverine complains about the uniforms and Cyclops says, “Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?” At the same time, I’m also in the major minority of people who think that properly-armored and modernly-stylized colorful superhero costumes could work in a real world situation. There are guys going around in The Real Life Superhero Movement dressed as such and are helping police after all.

Anyway . . .

The trick with an ensemble movie is to give each character enough history and density to make them likeable and relatable from frame one. When you have only a couple hours to do that, you need to have a story that revolves around each of them so they could each have their moment in the sun long enough to get the audience involved with them. X-Men does this for the most part and it’s no easy feat.

Of course, there is the metaphor of the evils of racism throughout the movie, and how all people are equal regardless of who they are, what they can do and what they look like. This theme is strangely overt yet subtle at the same time. Kind of depends what frame of mind you’re in when watching it and your personal history and feelings on the topic.

This movie is an interesting, exciting, thoughtful and well-executed big screen adaptation of one of the biggest comic book franchises of all time. Did they nail it perfectly? No. Did they do a good job of taking the X-Men concept as a whole to the big screen? You betcha.

Recommended.

Avengers : L'ère d'Ultron [3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + HD numérique] (Bilingual)
Avengers : L'ère d'Ultron [3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + HD numérique] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Price: CDN$ 25.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avengers Re-assemble! Awesome!, May 1 2015
In an effort to protect the world from future alien attacks, Tony Stark uses the artificial intelligence inside the gem of Loki’s scepter to complete his Ultron program. It works but, unfortunately, the now-sentient Ultron AI has taken it upon itself to destroy the human race.

Time for the Avengers to assemble.

Recruiting the Maximoff twins, Ultron uses them to take on the Avengers while he attends to building a robot army. Soon the Avengers are taken out and must re-assemble if there is any hope they can stop Ultron before his plan of global destruction comes to pass.

With the fate of the planet hanging in the balance, can the Avengers stand against a seemingly unstoppable foe?

Sequels are tricky business, especially when creating a sequel to not only a quality film, but one that was a hit at the box office. Usually, sequels pale in comparison to their predecessors, but now and then—and more often than not in the superhero genre—the sequels outshine the original and Avengers: Age of Ultron did just that. As good as the first Avengers was, Age of Ultron is better.

I don’t want to give away any plot points to those who haven’t seen it yet, so these are more my thoughts instead of notions on specifics of the film.

One of my greatest fears for this movie was its giant cast. Not only did the standard Avengers team return—Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Nick Fury, Maria Hill—but it was greatly added to with the addition of War Machine, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Vision and, sorta, Falcon. All these characters could have quickly made the movie go the way of Spider-Man 3, but instead more or less equal screen time was given to the majority of the cast, with supporting roles coming in to do their job without making the film feel overly crowded.

On the acting front, the main Avengers team have really come into their own, the actors having now portrayed their characters a minimum of three times prior to this movie and it really shows through. There’s an air of comfort about who they’re playing and each one has made the character their own while also staying true to that character’s comic book roots. Even the humor in the movie was fitting and not once did it feel forced or cheesy or slapstick. Most of the humor was off-the-cuff comments, which made the team more human and relatable.

Ultron was a terrific bad guy. He was smart, dangerous, evil, but at the same time had a humanity to him that helped connect him with the audience. He wasn’t just some evil robot and that’s it. He was also a formidable foe for the Avengers and it did take the entire team to take him down.

The addition of Vision worked well and was a good progression of the Jarvis character. He had a specific purpose in this movie and fulfilled it to a T. I’m curious to see what role he plays either in the stand-alone Marvel movies or in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War flicks.

On a fanboy note, there were some amazing iconic superhero action shots in this flick, the kind that makes you gush and squeal (yes, I’m that nerdy). There is one particular moment—you’ll know it when you see it—where I was just, like, “Wow, oh wow.” And the action on the whole was well done, with each character fighting according to their skillset.

Going to have go back for a second outing to the theatre on this one and, of course, will be adding it to my personal movie collection when it comes out.

Highly recommended.

X-Men 2 Blu Ray + Dvd + Digital Copy [Blu-ray]
X-Men 2 Blu Ray + Dvd + Digital Copy [Blu-ray]
Price: CDN$ 25.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An X-cellent Sequel!, April 30 2015
4.5 out of 5

The rumored war between mutants and humans begins to take shape after a mutant makes an attempt on the life of the President of the United States. Soon, the X-mansion is attacked by military forces led by a man with a hidden vendetta against them. While the X-Men band together to make a stand against those who would rather see them killed or controlled, many of them must also face the demons of their past for good or ill.

Meanwhile, Jean Grey’s powers are acting up and she’s losing control. The others take notice and try to help, but something else seems to be brewing deep within her.

I love this movie. It was my favorite superhero flick until Spider-Man 2 came out. This movie picked up pretty much where the first X-Men left off, and delivered in spades everything that made the first X-movie so good: solid story, amazing acting, high stakes (even higher in this one), and a respect for the source material. Throw Brian Cox as the main bad guy—William Stryker—into the mix and you got a recipe for a great movie.

Once again told from Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman’s) perspective, X2 is the story about facing your past and not running from what you find there. We see this not only when looking into Wolverine’s life, but that of Stryker’s, Iceman’s, Rogue’s, and others. Like the first one, the theme of being-different-is-okay is prevalent, and comes more into play as the government exercises its power while it seeks to investigate what it doesn’t understand.

The hard part about reviewing an X-Men movie is that everyone does so well in their roles, you can spend a thousand words talking about each. Space doesn’t permit that here, but needless to say I can watch Sir Patrick Stewart’s father-figure and leader role as Professor X all day. Couple that with Sir Ian McKellen’s—Magneto’s—diehard devotion to ensuring mutants are ready for the inevitable confrontation with humans and you can see how these two characters are really two sides of the same coin with both wanting the same goal: peace for mutants. Of course, their means of achieving that goal are completely different from one another.

There’s a real sense of world-building in the X-Men universe, with each location and character fully developed, and as we visit them with each outing, it’s like coming home to old friends.

This movie is more intense than the first because, like I said, the stakes are higher and all those at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters are in some real life-or-death danger.

I also appreciate how they showed that if certain people had these special mutant-enhanced abilities in real life how much of a danger they could be to themselves and to others. This is something not often seen in superhero flicks as the villains in here—even some of the heroes—seemed more misguided than simply evil for evil’s sake. And that’s the kind of world we live in, right? How often are those who do something wrong doing so out of misguided intentions? How many times do we do that ourselves?

I’m really glad they made this movie and made it so well that the franchise has kept going.

I’m proud to stand united with X2: X-Men United.

Recommended.

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut [Import]
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut [Import]
DVD ~ Jackie Earle Haley
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 97.54
10 used & new from CDN$ 60.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Faithful to the Source Material - Extraordinary!, April 28 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After the Comedian has been murdered, lone remaining vigilante Rorschach begins an investigation into his old acquaintance’s death. Since most superheroes were banned from existing after some legislation several years before, he looks up old allies and even old enemies in his quest for the truth. Slowly, he begins to unravel a plot that could bring about a disaster unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

Based on what some would argue is the greatest graphic novel and superhero story of all time, Watchmen written by Alan More and Dave Gibbons, this movie adaptation was years in the making. Not this specific rendition, but from what I know, the book was optioned way back when it came out in the ’80s but never got off the ground. One of the reasons was very few filmmakers had the guts to touch it because Watchmen is such a revered work amongst comic fans and even in some literary and academic circles.

Enter director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead (2004), Man of Steel, 300 and more), whose eye for detail and a knack for visual storytelling takes on the gargantuan project and does his best to faithfully adapt Watchmen to the big screen. Him and his creative team nail it, in my opinion, and adapt the book the only way something like Watchmen could be adapted: panel-by-panel. It was the safest route but also the smartest. Some changes were made—like the ending—but for the most part, the book is translated completely as is to the big screen. Even the director’s cut includes additional scenes and animated clips from Tales of the Black Freighter interspersed throughout just like the graphic novel has bits of the pirate comic peppered throughout the main narrative.

Watchmen asks the question: what would superheroes be like if they existed in the real world? Whether they are of the superpowerless variety or something more Superman-like ala Dr. Manhattan, you get an honest portrayal of superheroes in real life, all centered around the mystery of the murder of one of their friends.

This story is about as down-to-earth as you get regarding superheroes in real life, and depending on the angle you’re coming from, can be equal to or more so than Kick-Ass in that regard.

Each character in the flick matched their character in the book, all the way from the crazy-yet-cynical Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), to black-and-white-justice-seeking Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), to idealistic-yet-obsessed Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), to insecure-but-strong Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), to misguided-but-you-can-see-how-he’s-right Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), and a supporting cast that makes every moment believable.

The Watchmen story is so dense that the fact they were able to take the twelve-part series and showcase nearly all of it in around three and a half hours—I’m talking about the ultimate cut of the movie, which includes Tales of the Black Freighter and a bunch of additional footage not seen in the theatrical release—is pretty impressive. What’s amazing about the Watchmen narrative and thus the movie is the incredible amount of history for the characters that needed to be shown without bogging down the main story, which was the Comedian’s murder. You get to know these characters intimately, their pasts, their present and in some cases, their future.

Zack Snyder’s knack for visuals gave this flick its own flavor and tone thanks to the color filters on the film. The score is fantastic. The action scenes were well done and quickly-paced, using brutal fighting techniques and the right amount of blood.

Watchmen is certainly not your traditional superhero flick. It’s a superhero drama and is meant for an audience who likes to have some thinking along with their superhero slugfests. As a comic book fan, I appreciated the movie’s faithfulness to the graphic novel, the overall story of Watchmen, and how each person involved really seemed to take this movie seriously. Nothing was tongue-in-cheek.

Watchmen ranks right up there as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. If you consider yourself a superhero fan, then you should check it out. It’s a serious look at the genre through the lens of a clever story with amazing characters, all of which you feel like you’ve known for ages instead of just for a few hours on the screen.

Highly recommended. Not for kids.

V for Vendetta / V pour Vendetta [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
V for Vendetta / V pour Vendetta [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 10.75
17 used & new from CDN$ 5.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A Virtuous Victory of a Movie!, April 24 2015
4.5 out of 5

In the late 2020s, the United Kingdom is the only last stable government in the world and is led by the oppressive Norsefire party. Under such a tight regime, the people are controlled at every turn. The exchange? Bow down and you’ll live in peace and safety.

From out of the shadows rises V (Hugo Weaving), a Guy Fawkes-mask-wearing caped activist who has a thorough plan meant to topple the present government and, over the course of a year, expose the Norsefire regime for what they really are and inspire the people to be free.

After being saved by V from an attempted rape, Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) goes into hiding in V’s lair and learns not only of V’s plans for the UK, but also about herself, her fears, and what it will take for her to rise from her own ashes to help him on his quest.

This movie was based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

Hugo Weaving is insane in this. His acting is through the roof! I mean, come on, the guy had a mask on the entire time. You don’t see his face, and yet with every nuance of every word, every expressive tone, every bit of body language, you didn’t need the aid of a face to sell you on what he was saying or why he was saying it. No small feat and was truly amazing. And that “V speech” when he introduces himself to Evey? Go. Watch it. Now. Awesome.

Natalie Portman is the bomb as Evey Hammond. I love her in nearly everything she does and her performance in V for Vendetta is no exception, especially when her character starts going through the wringer and she starts to break down. That scene where she gets her head shaved? That happened in real life. That was really her hair and was a one-take deal shot with three cameras, and a very poignant scene in the film. Her journey from start to finish is the audience’s on-screen link to V and his quest, and by the end, you’re with him one hundred percent.

While there are some differences between the movie and the graphic novel, they by no means take away from it, in my opinion. There will always be differences when adapting books to film.

V in this flick is a kind of Robin Hood-meets-Zorro figure, but instead of having the people behind him, he’s on his own with only Evey at his side. However, over the course of the year the story takes place, and as V unfolds his plan, the people start to get behind him, first in their hearts and then in their actions.

Speaking of action, I love V’s fighting in this, spinning his swords and holding his own against multiple opponents. Some of the trickery he uses to evade capture also reminds me of Batman-like tactics.

The movie is a strong one, interesting from start to finish, and one that not only inspires, but makes me grateful I live in a free country like Canada and not in a fascist state.

V for Vendetta also spilled over into the real world—our world—inspiring folks to wear Guy Fawkes masks during public demonstrations, like Occupy Wall Street. If that doesn’t show the impact of a movie, I don’t know what does.

This is a superhero movie with depth and is an important addition to any superhero fan’s library.

Highly recommended.

Unbreakable [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Unbreakable [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Bruce Willis
Price: CDN$ 14.96
22 used & new from CDN$ 9.51

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Real--and Well Done--Superhero Origin Movie, April 22 2015
Ordinary David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has a failing marriage, a son who needs him, and a job as a security guard. However, all that changes after a severe train wreck and he is the only survivor. Even more miraculous, he is completely unharmed. When confronted by a man named Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who suggests David is invulnerable, David shrugs it off but eventually begins to test himself and discovers that maybe he’s not that ordinary after all and soon learns he can do things no other man can. At Elijah’s insistence, David explores his abilities even more and soon begins a journey that reveals maybe he is indeed unbreakable.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love superhero origin stories and Unbreakable is just that. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan of Sixth Sense fame, Unbreakable is a story deconstructing the superhero, and suggesting a possible real life origin for these amazing people, while keeping your interest from start to finish.

Using the real-life medical condition osteogenesis imperfecta as a springboard, suggesting that if someone with such frail bones can exist, is it not possible someone with unbreakable bones—even body—can exist? And thus is the story as we follow Elijah Price as he searches out this amazing possibility in the person of David Dunn.

This movie also heavily references comic books, Elijah posing the idea that comic books are modern day retellings of stories of times past and of real people who once were able to do things other people couldn’t.

Each moment of this movie is an in-depth look at what makes the superhero tick, everything from the discovery of his power, to his motivation in using it, to the doubt that such a possibility could exist in a person, to finding a possible weakness, to balancing having this special ability with the demands of everyday life, and more.

This movie is a drama and not an action flick. While there is some action, namely toward the end, it’s a life and times superhero story that makes you stop and think about what being a person with an extraordinary ability might actually be like, if it would be easy or hard, or a bit of both. What kind of challenges would you face? What kinds of benefits?

Apparently, M. Night Shyamalan came up with the idea following the standard three-part structure of a superhero story: the origin, the rise to being a hero, then the final confrontation with the villain. The movie has all these elements, but because he found it the most interesting, Shyamalan spends most of the time focusing on the origin. As a result, there is such depth surrounding David Dunn and Elijah Price that as the hero and villain, they rival characters that have been around for decades in terms of richness. Very well done.

This movie is just so, so good and is one of my all-time favorites. It’s one of those flicks to throw on on a rainy day, get under a blanket, and get swept up in the world of the superhero only to be inspired to look for the spectacular in one’s own self.

Highly recommended.

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