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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice…a review.

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I cannot believe I have not yet reviewed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first pairing in live action of the two most iconic Superheroes in the world. There was a ton of expectation riding on this movie. The movie was heavily criticized by the professional pundits and under performed at the box office although it still made the studio money. One of the reasons for this is that the studio did not put out the three hour extended cut of the films into the theater. What was released to the theater was a truncated version of the film that was not very coherent in places. Note to film studio. Leave Zack Snyder alone and let him do his job, he knows what he is doing!

Therefore this review will be of the theatrical cut.

All movies do have their flaws…which is simply another way of saying “I would have done it differently” and although this movie is no exception the Pros greatly out weight any Cons it may have. I really enjoyed this movie so without further delay, the Pros and Cons of this film. Cons won the coin toss so they will go first. đŸ™‚

Cons:

The story, even in the Extended Cut, still has some issues. The scene in the desert where Lois is interviewing a terrorist and then all hell breaks loose, it really isn’t too clear what is happening. One example, Batman brands his criminals and they end up getting killed in jail/prison…but the movie never tells you why they are being killed in jail or the motives for killing them.

Alfred. I think over all Jeremy Irons did a good job but his cynicism got old after a while. Plus, if he thinks Batman was going down the wrong road and becoming something corrupt, then you would think that he would have confronted Bruce long before he did in this movie. It seems Alfred was just as jaded as Batman was in this movie.

Death of Superman. I do understand that his sacrifice was to show the world that he truly is a force for good in the world and that he will use his powers to help and not hurt. However, maybe my objection is more about the elaborate funeral they gave Superman, because it all seems too soon because it really doesn’t feel Superman truly earned the accolades and the grief. In the movie Superman has been around less than two years and there is much controversy surrounding him, he certainly isn’t universally loved.

Death of Clark Kent. This is unprecedented. Sure, they have shown Superman die in the comics and animated movies, but they always have found a way to excuse Clark’s disappearance until Superman returns. This movie paints quite a dilemma where they are acknowledging both Clark and Superman are dead! How can they bring both back without the world knowing Clark Kent is Superman!?

Pros:

Good Story. Despite the story being muddled at times the story is very interesting and engaging. It really is not a story about Batman and Superman fighting, it is a story of redemption for both iconic characters.

Superman’s character arc. I like the idea in this universe where Superman isn’t a Mary Sue Boy-scout where everyone except the villains despise him and don’t trust him. In the real world we would have people truly fear and distrust Superman so I like that realistic approach and  how Superman has to cope with that reality especially in the face of life taking disasters committed to tarnish his name.

Batman’s Character arc. I love how this is an older and cynical and jaded Batman who has gone through many tragedies himself. We see that Robin is dead, Wayne Manor has been burned to the ground and Batman is an outlaw. I loved the scene where we fist see Batman in the room where he just branded the criminal and he is lurking in the shadows. Classic Batman! I also like how Batman comes to once again have faith in humanity restored. The scene where he rescues Martha Kent in the warehouse is the best live action scene of Batman ever put to film.

Special effects. Excellent. I love any time Superman takes flight!! Doomsday is created with such life-likeness! Great eye candy!

Good pacing. Even though the Extended Cut is three hours long the movie flows well without any slow spots at all.

Lex Luthor. I think Jesse Eisenberg was great as Luthor…yes he is Lex Luthor and not the son of Lex as many claim, he was bitter, psychotic and unpredictable.

Wonder Woman. What can I say? She was awesome! Gal Gadot was simply amazing as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince and she stole the show! I also loved the cameo glimpses of Aquaman and The Flash and Cyborg!!

I want to close by speaking of the controversial Martha scene. Sure, it is a bit cheesy but I do understand what they were doing and I think it was a great idea and worked although all it needed maybe was one line of dialogue. That was the moment Batman realized how far he had fallen and that he had become the very thing he had dedicated his life to fighting against. If Batman would have said that to Lois and Superman in some verbal way, I think it would have helped.

I really enjoyed this movie despite some of its flaws. All-in-all a good introduction of Batman in the DCEU and I look forward to more movies with these characters!

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Too Much of a Good Thing?

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One of the things I enjoy about such superheros like Superman, Batman & The Flash (my favorites in that order) is how unique they are. Superman is invulnerable, impervious to pain, can fly and run near at or better than the speed of light, has ex-ray and heat vision, super hearing…Batman is a human with no superpowers but an intellectual genius billionaire who has mastered several martial arts, has access to and developed many advanced gadgets, dresses up in a Bat-costume and fades into the night to scare and terrorize criminals. The Flash can run, move, think, and react at light speeds as well as having superhuman endurance that allows them to run incredible distances. Some, notably later versions, can vibrate so fast that they can pass through walls in a process called quantum tunneling, travel through time and can also lend and borrow speed. The Flash can heal more rapidly than an average human.

So what does DC Comics do with these unique characters? It creates a “Family” of similar superheroes with similar powers and abilities. Superman has Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto, Powergirl, Mon-El, Val-Zod Red Superman, Blue Superman, Asian Superman and Russian Superman etc. The Batman has many Robins, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, The Red Hood, Batman Beyond etc. The Flash has Jay Garrick (the earliest incarnation of the character), Barry Allen as The Flash, Wally West is the first Kid Flash and the third Flash, Bart Allen the second hero known as Kid Flash..and many more. Even Flash’s villains are just evil personifications of the Flash, such as Reverse Flash, Zoom and Doom etc..There are also many versions of the Green Lantern that originated from earth…Alan Scott, Hal Jordan,  Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.

My complaint is that with so many Superheros with the same name or powers within these families it waters down and dilutes the original characters and turning what was a special and unique character into something more ordinary. I am conflicted about this because there are actually some of these extra characters I love (Supergirl, Val-Zod, Jay Garrick, Reverse Flash, John Stewart). I even plan on doing a blog post dedicated to Val-Zod in thew future….Plus, as an artist and creative person myself, I certainly do not want to stifle creativity…

I just cannot also ignore this nagging feeling that all of these similar characters take something away from the original characters. I stopped watching the Flash TV series because of this problem. Not only does he have a team helping him but the majority of the villains are just like him to the point where The Flash himself doesn’t stand out, isn’t the star of his own show and is simply one of many with the same powers. I think Supergirl suffers from this a bit also.

This was just a little venting and I don’t really want or expect anything to be done, it just explains why I gravitate to stories that depict the original character rather than these many similar extensions in these superhero families.

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Review: Shin Godzilla

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I finally saw Shin Godzilla, the new Japanese Godzilla film from Toho Studios. What follows is a review with minor spoilers.

This really is a very different Godzilla film! One could argue that there are many Godzilla films which are different from one another and you would have a valid point. In the case of Shin Godzilla you would have an even greater point for this movie is unlike any that have followed before it. To begin to understand this movie one needs to comprehend that this truly is a Japanese movie made for a Japanese audience to provide both commentary and satire unique to the Japanese culture. Having said that, it doesn’t mean these elements of the film are not beyond the reach of a non-Japanese audience.

If you have heard or read the rumor that this movie has many scenes where people are in government conferences as they debate and discuss what to do when this giant morphing creature threatens Japan. These rumors are true and therein lies the heart of this story which is commentary and satire focused at the government of Japan. If you think Godzilla is the central focus of this movie then you will miss that point and may not walk away with understanding this film. Although commentary and satire toward the Japanese government is the focus that doesn’t mean this movie lacks the proper elements that we Godzilla fans and fans of Kaiju movies.

Therefore, the simple plot of this movie is, after an unexplained creature attacks boats in Tokyo Bay the top government officials focus on military strategy and civilian safety, while Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi is put in charge of a task force to research the creature. Due to high radiation readings, the creature is theorized to be energized through nuclear fission. The US sends a special envoy, Kayoko Ann Patterson, who reveals that a disgraced zoology professor, Goro Maki, had been studying mutations due to radioactive contamination and theorized the appearance of the creature but the US covered it up. As the creature, The creature, now named Godzilla, reappears, now twice its original size, and makes landfall near Kamakura en route for Tokyo. The Japanese Self Defense Forces are mobilized, but their attacks have no effect on Godzilla and they suffer major casualties. Yaguchi’s team discovers that Godzilla’s fins and blood work as a cooling system, allowing them to theorize that through the use of a coagulating agent, they could trigger a reaction and cause Godzilla to freeze. 

Generally in my reviews I offer both the Pros and Cons of a film. For every film whether I enjoyed it or not will have varying degrees of Pros and Cons. In the case of this film, which I thoroughly enjoyed, the Con are not outweighed by the Pros in the first place.

Pro: Great Monster destruction. Isn’t this what most Godzilla and Kaiju fans come to see? Gone are the model miniature sets..which is sad…but in its place is a real world setting and real world destruction with great CGI. Godzilla’s atomic breath just has to be seen and the amount of power and destruction it delivers is the best of the entire franchise in my opinion.

Godzilla’s three forms. I really enjoy the many different designs of Godzilla. While this Godzilla isn’t actually a traditional design it really works for this movie. This is the largest Godzilla ever seen!

Great depiction of scale and Size of Godzilla. Although I have always loved the man-in-the suit approach coupled with model building one never really did get a sense of size and scale in a Godzilla movie…until now. With Godzilla 2014 and Pacific Rim (Godzilla 1998 to some extent) those movie were able to really demonstrate the massive scale and size of the creatures within the movie. Shin Godzilla finally achieves that sense  massive scale and size and to me it is awesome!!

An interesting story. Once you understand what the movie is trying to say, it really becomes interesting to watch these government officials stumble and bumble their way through the bureaucracy until they reach  a point of action.

Con: An uninteresting story. I will contradict myself. Yes, I do like the story and I understand the commentary on the ineptitude of bureaucracy, however, there are times that it is too much and goes on a little too long.

Lumbering Godzilla…or shall I say… Zombie Godzilla? While I do like this design and despite the epic destruction this Godzilla brings, there are times when all he does is walk… very…very …slowly.

While Shin Godzilla will not go down as my very favorite it is up there in my top 10. Once the DVD/Blu-Ray comes out this film will have many viewings in my home. The destruction scenes alone are worth the price of admission. A very different and still enjoyable Godzilla film!

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The Music of Michael Tomlinson

No, this is not Spam. This is blog owner Bill Foley here with an important message. Please forgive me for this one indulgence. I would like to take a break for a moment and speak about something important to me. Michael Tomlinson is one of the best singer-songwriters in the business these days. He is in the process of creating a beautiful new album and if his past work is any indication this new CD will fill your soul and make you smile and make life just that much enjoyable. So, let’s all support Michael Tomlinson in any way you feel moved. Financially, emotionally, pass this on to a thousand friends, what ever you can do. In a world that can be difficult Michael’s music shines through and lets us all know how positive and joyous life truly is.

http://www.michaeltomlinson.com

Rating Godzilla’s Enemies: Part I

There have been 29 Godzilla movies, 30 if you count the 1998 TriStar film (and I do) by and most don’t and since this is a piece about the enemies Godzilla has fought it really doesn’t count because the 1998 Godzilla did not fight any other monsters. The 1954 and 1984 Godzillas didn’t fight with any monsters either. Since 1955 with Godzilla Raids Again Toho has pitted Godzilla with a number of different and unique foes to varying degrees of success. I haven’t always been crazy about the foes Godzilla has been up against. Some of the monsters are like Godzilla himself, dinosaur like in many aspects, and those are my favorites. Others have been designed after bugs and other insects, crustaceans; while some have followed the fantasy route.

The Godzilla franchise encompasses three distinct eras. The Showa eras (1954-1975), The Heisei era (1984-1995) and the Millennium era (1999-2004). Many of these monsters, such as Mothra, were used in all three eras, while some only saw action in one area (Jet-Jaguar, Showa), (Biollante, Heisei) and Orga (Millennium). In rating these monsters I need to view them across all eras. Each monster was designed differently when used in other areas. Sometimes that re-design was significant, and other times it was not. There were times the redesigned monster influenced whether or not I enjoyed the character.

Here in alphabetical order is my review of each monster.

1. Anguirus: Anguirus was first seen in the movie Godzilla Raids Again (aka Gigantis, the Fire Monster in the US) and he was the first monster that Godzilla ever fought in a movie. He is said to have been a mutated Ankylosaurus. At first Anguirus was an enemy of Godzilla but in subsequent films he became an ally of Godzilla joining him in battles against other monster threats. I like this monster due to the fact that he is like Godzilla himself, a mutated creature that is also a force of nature. My only complaint is that he walks on four legs which means that when he is portrayed by a suit actor the actor will be on his knees giving the monster a very strange stance, although the film makers try hard to hide the fact that he is on his knees. Anguirus was seen in seven Godzilla films. Godzilla Raids Again, Destroy All Monsters; All Monsters Attack(stock footage); Godzilla vs Gigan; Godzilla vs. Megalon; Godzilla: Final Wars
2. Baragon: Baragon is another mutated dinosaur-like creature who made his first appearance in Frankenstein vs Baragon. He is a strange monster. He has big floppy ears and a large horn on his snout and he likes to burrow underground. He is another monster that walks on all fours and suffers from some of the same problems that Anguirus suffers from while being filmed. Other than his first appearance Baragon has not seen a lot of action. He was seen very briefly in Destroy All Monsters and there is stock footage of him in Godzilla: Final Wars. He did have a large role to play in the movie Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters all out Attack. In that film Baragon is the first of the guardian monsters to fight Godzilla in what is one of the most enjoyable monster fights ever. Baragon is sorely outmatched but this plucky little monster gives it his all fighting against one of the most powerfully depicted Godzilla’s ever on film.
3. Battra: Battra is the evil twin to Mothra. He is only depicted in the Heisei era film Godzilla vs Mothra: Battle For the Earth. Although Mothra is a giant moth-like creature, Battra doesn’t resemble a moth but more of an flying insect with horns protruding from his head and he has glowing red/orange eyes. Like Mothra, Battra also appears in his larval form. However, he doesn’t have to go into chrysalis in order to metamorphose into his adult form. I do enjoy the movie he is in and although I am not crazy about monsters that are based on insects, Battra is executed very well.
4. Biollante: Biollante is one of the all-time strangest monsters Godzilla ever had to face. I have mixed feelings about this one. Biollante only features in one Godzilla movie, the Heisei era: Godzilla vs Biollante (although it is seen briefly in a flashback in Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla). In my opinion Biollante is one of the most creatively designed monsters and also one of the most silliest in regards to looks and origins. Biollante was a monster created by a scientist. He mixed Godzilla cells with that of a rose and somehow the spirit of his dead daughter got thrown in the mix and viola! A giant 120 meter rose/plant monster with a large snout and many rows of sharp teeth!! Yeah, it is very silly. Like other Toho monsters this one goes through several metamorphosis until it reaches its final stage. The final look of the monster is pretty cool I must admit. Despite the very silly premise Biollante does show Toho studios thinking outside of the box and creating something entirely new.
5. Ebirah. Ebirah is nothing more than a giant lobster. His two appearance were in Godzilla vs the Sea Monster and Godzilla: Final Wars. The only thing I liked about this monster is the fact that in both movies they use him to really show his size and scale. One of the stranger usages of Ebirah is in the movie Final Wars were the mutants fight him in some industrial setting. You would think they would have placed a giant lobster somewhere in the sea.

No Godzilla review today.

I finally got the new Godzilla movie on Saturday. Watched it twice so far. I don’t have a review written just yet. I didn’t want to rush and write one just to meet some arbitrary deadline. It’s mu blog and I can change the deadline! The truth is I really want to put thought into this review. Given that Godzilla is one of my most favorite characters I have many feelings swirling through me about this movie and I want some time to to sort through them before I write the review. I will watch the movie a couple of more times and I will have the review written for next Monday.

Who Played Batman the Best?: Part III

Today I will look at the two actors that played Batman in the two Joel Schumacher movies, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. I do catch a lot of flack for this but these are my two favorite Batman movies. They’re a lot of fun. I think I have already addressed my love of this movies (I will have to check my back articles).

Val Kilmer replaced Michael Keaton as Batman after Keaton dropped out because Tim Burton dropped out! I think Kilmer was a great choice. He portrayed the struggling and tormented Batman very well! As I write this I am coming more and more to the conclusion that all the actors who have portrayed the Dark Knight have done a very good job. It seems the reason why it is difficult to judge the perfomance as Batman is due to the fact that the actor gets to hide in the suit and it is the suit that does the acting. In Kilmer’s movie he begins with a suit almost identical to the one that Keaton wore in his two movies. However, we do see the introduction of the nipples to Kilmer’s Batsuit and I personally never had a problem with them..honestly I never noticed them!!

Now we come to George Clooney…the man who is said to be the worst Batman and the reason why the franchise fell apart. I have to disagree. I thought he did a fine job in the role. He is not my favorite but I do not think he deserves the flack and ridicule he gets. Remember this is coming from someone that did like the movie. However, if you didn’t like the movie I think the script is the problem and not Clooney’s performance. I once read from some fans that Clooney looks down a lot while playing Batman and I never really noticed it before. I watched the movie this morning and while I did notice he would look down while wearing the cowl, I didn’t think it was excessive nor did I find it bothersome.

Of these two I do prefer Kilmer over Clooney only because his projected a darkness that the character needs. Clooney was in a film where we are right back in the realm of the 1966 TV series with Adam West and all of that delicious camp. So, Clooney’s Batman didn’t need to be that dark for that type of film. However, despite the lack of darkness in this version of the Dark Knight there is a good deal of drama in the film. There is tension between Batman and Robin. Some of the tension is due to Batman not trusting Robin to be able to handle the difficulties of fighting crime and this leads him to being over protective which makes Robin resentful. This issues is used by Poison Ivy to further create a wedge between the dynamic duo.

Next week I will look at many people’s favorite…Christian Bale star of the Dark Knight Trilogy.

2014 Summer Blockbuster’s.

I am a little late this year with these, but these are the movies I want to see this summer.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (5-2) Part of this movie was filmed in Rochester NY which is near my home town. I really liked the reboot and hope this one is just as good! Spiderman continues his life as a crime fighter and this results in making more enemies. Some of these enemies are connected to the death of his parents.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4-4) As Steve Rogers (AKA Captain America) adjusts to modern times he becomes and Agent of SHIELD along with Agent Natasha Romanoff they must fight off international terrorism. Roumor has it that this is one of the best movies in the Marvel cinematic universe.

Godzilla (5-16) I am a huge Godzilla fan! This movie looks awesome and can’t wait to see it!! Giant MUTO’s attack Hawaii and Vegas and Godzilla comes to save the day.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (5-23) Never cared for the X-men comics but I have loved the X-Men movies and really looking forward to this movie. There seems to be some fan confusion that this movie may erase others from the continuity.

A Million Ways to Die in the West (5-30) The second live action movie from Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane. I loved last year’s movie Ted and this one looks to be just as funny.

Maleficent (5-30) This is the story of Sleeping Beauty. I am keeping my fingers crossed on this one. I liked the trailers and this movie certainly has eye candy. I liked the trailers for Snow White and the Huntsman but did not end up liking that movie…so with this one I am being cautiously optimistic.

Edge of Tomorrow (6-6) I love Tom Cruise in science fiction movies. I really liked Oblivion and this one looks good. I guess it is a futuristic take on Groundhog day.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (6-27). I am not a big Transformers fan. They came out when I was an adult. I do think the premise is a bit silly, alien robots that can take the shape of human transportation, but I did like the first and third movies. The second movie I did not like at all. This one looks like a new and fresh approach.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (6-13) I love dragons!!! I love movies with dragons mostly. Loved the first movie and this one looks even better.

Jersey Boys (6-20) This is not a science-fiction film or a fantasy film but I am making an exception with this one. I love musical bio movies. Directed by Clint Eastwood this depicts the rise to fame of the 60s group Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (7-11). I liked the first one…after seeing the trailer for this I am cautiously optimistic. I hope it doesn’t turn into a basic dystopian post apocalyptic shoot em’ up movie.

Hercules (7-25). Dwayne John as Hercules. This is just as great and logical of casting as Arnold as Conan. This looks good and I have no doubt I will love. I really enjoyed Johnson in The Scorpion King and this movie looks to be just as enjoyable.

Guardians of the Galaxy (8-1) I am unfamiliar with this Marvel comic. However, it looks like a fun lighthearted science-fiction movie. In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. In order to evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a group of misfits including Gamora, Rocket, Drax the Destroyer, and Groot. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand – with the galaxy’s fate in the balance

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (8-8) I never was a TMNT fan. They came along when I was in my 20s. But this look likes very good and I will give it a try.

Into the Storm (8-8) You may have to find the trailer on YouTube for this one. It has been jokingly called Twister II. Previously using the production title Black Sky, Into the Storm is an upcoming 2014 American disaster film directed by Steven Quale, written by John Swetnam, and starring Richard Armitage.

 

Happy New Year! Year in Review!!

Foley's Sience-Fiction & Fantasy Films

These are the Science Fiction/Fantasy films I saw this year. Here is a simple list of the ones that were my favorites and the ones that I enjoyed and the ones I was disappointed with. In the weeks to come I will review each of these films plus keep you updated with new science fiction and fantasy film news.

Pacific Rim
Man of Steel
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Lone Ranger
Oblivion

Enjoyed:

After Earth
Olympus Has Fallen
G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Disappointment with:

White House Down
Oz the Great and Powerful
Iron Man 3

Jack the Giant Slayer

This is the End

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Coming Back in 2014!!!

After some time off I will be returning to my blog after the first of the year. Look for more updates and reviews of science fiction and fantasy films!!!