Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Cathy Yan
I was probably on the kinder end of things than most people when it came to Suicide Squad; the DCCU’s attempt to be fun and wacky that ended up having all the edge of a limited edition holo-foil issue of Spawn from 1994. In its own tacky cobbled together way it did manage to eek out a bit of charm, but what people mostly remember from the movie was the performances; namely one Harley Quinn played with gusto by the phenomenal Margot Robbie. Now that we’re more or less in DCCU 2.0, it makes sense for this character to be given another shot away from the baggage of the movie that came before; even from the studio itself as Robbie basically put this thing together with Warner Bros maintaining a mostly hands off approach. Is this the breakout hit that Warner Bros has been hoping for yet could never make themselves, or is this a desperate Hail Mary that misses by a mile? Let’s find out!!
Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) has had a rough go of it lately. She grew up with scary nuns, she had a string of bad relationships, she did at least get her college degree and became a psychiatrist but even THAT didn’t work out when she met some dude in clown makeup, and on top of that she had to fight a an ancient demon witch person or else have a bomb explode in her neck! Fortunately she’s out of prison and she even dumped the clown dude so she’s ready to start her life anew! A new pet, roller derby, and COPIOUS amounts of alcohol to deal with the unresolved feelings that she’s left with now that she’s single and away from the clown that made her life miserable. BUT ENOUGH ABOUT DAVID AYER (Ba-dum-tiss!), with the Joker in her rearview mirror it has given her a lot more freedom but also the ire of ALL the people they screwed over in the past, and as the one on the short end of this breakup some of them are ready to take their vengeance! One such vengeance taker is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) who’s a mid-range mob boss with a hot temper, enough toxic masculinity to smother ALL the adorable baby ducklings of the world, and an alter ego just one step below Taser Face; BLACK MASK! Complete with second rate Die Hardman cosplay! Him and his associate Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) are not only after Harley but ALSO after a diamond that somehow ended up in the hands of a young street hustler named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and so perhaps there’s a way to kill two birds with one stone there, and on top of ALL that we also have a singer at Victor’s club named Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) who’s looking for a way out of the life, a mysterious crossbow killer (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s hunting down gangsters, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) who’s stuck trying to untangle all these messy knots. Will Harley Quinn escape the payback that’s owed to her after working with the Joker for so long? Why is Roman so intent on getting this diamond, and who else may be gunning for it? Why DO they end up calling themselves the Birds of Prey anyway?
Joker and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Todd Phillips
Are we ready to do this? Alright, let’s do this. So Joker always seemed like an odd choice for a movie as his defining moments have always been in relation to Batman. Take him away, and what are you left with? Well if the trailers are any indication, you get something akin to Travis Bickel in Taxi Driver by way of Krusty the Clown. I mean I was at least interested to see where they were GOING with it since the trailers did a solid job of obscuring what the actual plot was, but the last few weeks of bad press have really drained any enthusiasm I could muster for what was already seeming to be a novelty at best. Does this manage to rise above the controversy surrounding it, especially the controversies cynically generated by those who have an active stake in the film’s success, or will this all be for a movie that ultimately isn’t worth the time and effort? Let’s find out!!
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is one of many residents in the city of Gotham who is barely getting by and can feels that life has given him a rather crappy lot. All he wanted to do was be a comedian and make people smile, but street punks keep beating him up at his job, the rich politicians and lobbyist keep cutting social services that he needs, and on top of all that he has to take care of his elderly mother Frances Conroy) who’s unshaking belief that Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen) will help her and her son has only become more and more obnoxious as the years have gone by. Why… it’s almost enough to drive someone MAD isn’t it!? Like say… if someone got so tired of this that they started wearing clown makeup and robbed banks! Well leave those fantasies at home as this is the REAL Joker for the modern age in that he’s really angry all the time but doesn’t do a heck of a whole lot about it and what he DOES do about it isn’t as… let’s say FLAMBOYANT as his comic book persona would have you believe. Still, the walls are closing in more and more as Arthur’s life goes further and further into chaos to the point that he may just be forced to fight back in a way that no one could possibly expect; least of all himself. Will Arthur’s miserable life come to some sort of hilarious denouement that gets all the squares to pop their monocles? What effect will his actions have on the rest of the city, and is he really so different from all the normal people out there? Seriously, is this REALLY the guy Warner Bros wants to be spouting his manifesto on the big screen right when they’re getting the DCCU back on track?
Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Special (2017) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by DC Comics
Remember when I talked about that Banana Splits Movie trailer as well as the current state of Hannah-Barbara properties? Remember how I said I’d review the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits crossover comic? Oh to be so young and so naïve as I was… two months ago. Seriously, I was CERTAIN that I already reviewed this thing, but as the release date for that Banana Splits movie started to get closer and closer, I tried to find the review on this website and nothing! Nada! Zilch and so on! Well better late the never, I suppose, and I still managed to finish this blasted thing before the movie came out, so I’ll take my small victories where I can! ANYWAY! Does this comic capture the spirit of the original series and make the Banana Splits relevant again? Well no, because I already told you that when I talked about it back in June, but let’s take a look anyway!!
The issue begins with The Banana Splits (Fleegle the beagle, Bingo the ape, Drooper the lion, and Snorky the elephant, though the issue doesn’t even bother with introductions) being pulled over for what I can only assume is speeding, but then again it wouldn’t surprise me if it was for driving while furry considering what happens next. You’d think the cops of the DC Universe would be used to non-humanoids by now, but it seems like the writers are trying to make some sort of cultural critique here about police brutality and the criminalization of non-white bodies. I mean I GUESS I can appreciate the effort but I don’t think THE BANANA SPLITS are the best vehicle for it.
Shazam! and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David F Sandberg
The slow course correction of the DCCU is perhaps not the most surprising thing in the world (you fail at something long enough, you might start to learn from those mistakes), but with Aquaman being a critical hit along with the… let’s say INTERESTING reactions to the Joker trailer, DCCU might just be on the upswing with this movie being the big test to see if this whole experiment can work now that we’re more or less in Phase Two. Not only is this a fresh start in terms of being the first one more or less completely separate from the Snyder version of the universe, it’s also the first one to FEEL different from all the other ones; same way that Guardians of the Galaxy was a shot in the arm for Marvel after a somewhat serious phase for them. Does this left turn into sunshine and happiness work turn out to fix many of the problems with the DCCU, or is Warner Bros beating a dead horse at this point? Let’s find out!!
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical teenager who loves to roam the streets of Philly looking for his mother who disappeared many years ago and is willing to any length to find her! Okay, maybe that’s not the typical teenage experience, but it’s Billy’s whole deal and the state is getting real tired of him running away from foster homes to search for a person that clearly doesn’t want to be found. Now they don’t want to just toss his butt into juvy just yet, so they’ve found ONE more family willing to take him in which includes Rosa and Victor as the parents (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews), a bunch of other kids (Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, and Pedro Peña), and his new roommate Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) who’s sassy, handicapable, and REALLY into superheroes. That last one wouldn’t be TOO bad if it weren’t for the fact that he likes Henry Cavell’s superman, but I guess those are the only toys he can get on clearance, so what are you gonna do? ANYWAY, while all this is going on (and for several decades prior) a wizard by the name of Shazam (Dijmon Hounsou) has been scouring the Earth for decades to find SOMEONE worthy of taking his power and being the new protector of the planet which depressingly is a much harder task than you’d imagine. Even with that caveat, I can’t say I’m too fond of his methods as he just pulls kids out of nowhere to give them a test and then send them back to reality when they fail to disappoint; especially when of these candidates is a young Thaddeus Sivanna (Ethan Pugitotto) who will one day grow up to be the ADULT (and doctor) Thaddeus Sivanna (Mark Strong) and is still obsessed with finding that weird dude who told him he wasn’t good enough to be a super hero. Thaddeus does get his… revenge I guess (perhaps more of a make-up test?) when he finds the secret to accessing this magic realm and steals the EVIL version of Shazam’s power for himself. Well darn it! Now that Shazam has plum run out of options, it’s time to just pick one before it’s too late, so Billy? It’s your lucky day! The wizard scoops him up, gives him his powers, and then kicks him back to reality as well only now he’s in the rockin’ bod of the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Can Billy learn how to use his powers and be the best superhero on Instagram, or was the wizard’s desperate Hail Mary ultimately a bad move? Will he be ready by the time Dr. Sivanna realizes the wizard’s champion has been chosen and goes after him to take his power as well? Be honest! If you got super powers, you’d be an obnoxious attention seeker as well!
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Everyone loved The LEGO movie, right!? And then most people loved LEGO Batman, right!? And then LEGO Ninjago was… okay, right? Well now it’s time for the return of the one that started it all and it’ll be JUST as good as the original… right? Sigh… okay, so the trailers for this film haven’t filled me with a whole lot of confidence that it’ll be on the same level as the original film. It looks FINE if nothing else, but this is THE LEGO MOVIE! We don’t just want fine, we want PHENOMENAL! Then again, maybe that’s putting too much pressure on this film which doesn’t have the benefit of being such an out of the blue surprise, and while the trailers aren’t inspiring me with a lot of hope, maybe they’ll find a new angle to take it in that’ll make up for not being able to put the genie back in the bottle! Can this sequel be Justas good if not better than the first film, or has the LEGO phenomenon finally run its course? Let’s find out!!
Immediately following the events of the first movie, the Duplo aliens of the Systar System have waged an all-out war with the people of LEGO city for five whole years and have left it a Mad Max style barren wasteland with no more bright and shiny blocks. ONLY DARKNESS AND NO PARENTS!! Well except for Emmet (Chris Pratt) whose upbeat attitude cannot be damped even in the face of utter annihilation! That turns out to be a problem though as the nice house he built has attracted the Duplos once again and now they’ve taken all his friends from the first movie which includes Lucy AKA Wyldstyle, Batman, Benny, Princess Unikitty, and MetalBeard (Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, and Nick Offerman) back to their home planet for their own nefarious purposes that we soon learn to be a shotgun wedding between Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi of the Systar System (Tiffany Haddish) and a very reluctant Batman. Clearly something has to be done to save them, but the only one of the LEGO people willing to take the chance is Emmet who haphazardly travels through… space I guess, to find them. Along the way he is saved from an asteroid field by the dashing rouge Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) and his army of super smart velociraptors who agree to help Emmet on his journey to defeat the girly Systar invaders because being a TOUGH GUY means punching things that are pink and frilly! Can Emmet save his friends from Systar invaders who want to brainwash all of his friends and put Batman through a forced marriage!? Can Lucy escape from the Queen Watevra’s cunning grasp, and does she know something about this place that she isn’t telling the others? Is it just me, or did things get REALLY complicated for a movie about plastic toys?
Aquaman and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by James Wan
Well I guess this is one way to put 2018 to a close. It’s been over a year since the last DCCU film stumbled into theaters and failed to make back the ludicrous amount of money put into it, but since Warner Bros hasn’t given up just yet on turning their superheroes into box office gold (it worked for Wonder Woman at least!), we’re getting at least one more stab at making this initial run of movies work before moving onto what MIGHT be an entirely new continuity with Shazam next year along with another Wonder Woman movie. With nothing left in the tank and one more Hail Mary left to go, can Warner Bros and DC knock it out of the park as the year is coming to a close? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is just chilling with his dad (Temuera Morrison) and saving the occasional submarine from pirates. After a recent successful venture that left one particular pirate named David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) rather ticked off with our sub-nautical super hero, Arthur figured he’d just hang out at the bar for a bit before passing out somewhere. Sadly rest and booze is not in the cards at the moment as a fellow mer-person named Mera (Amber Heard) who we saw briefly in Justice League shows up to Warn Arthur that war is brewing and he’s the only one who can stop it. To explain this, we’ll need to do a bit of a FLASHBACK to the mid-eighties where his father Thomas and his mother first met. His mother JUST SO HAPPENED to be the runaway princess Atlanna of the Kingdom of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) and fell in love with Thomas which eventually led to Arthur being born. However, after an attack from Atlantian soliders, Atlanna decides to go back to protect Arthur and become the bride of some dude who gets her pregnant and then chucks her into some dark hole in the sea after their son is born. Said son Orm (Patrick Wilson) is the current king of Atlantis and is consolidating power with the other mer-people tribes including the one that Mera belongs to which is ruled by her father Nereus (Dolph Lundgren). Did you get all that? Good, well Orm’s plan is to take over Surface World with an army of mer-people, but since Arthur is part of Atlantian Royalty by birthright, he can challenge Orm to the throne and turn around his expansionist policies before Surface World has to start nuking the ocean. Okay, so if Arthur wants to save the world (which he’s not too keen on but begrudgingly accepts) he has to stage a coup of some sort and convince the Atlantians of his right to rule. How the heck is he gonna do that!? Well, that’s where this other guy Nuidis (Willem Dafoe) comes in as he’s Orm’s head Vizier but has secretly been training Arthur this whole time and has a plan for him. Okay, MORE backstory. To sum it up, the first Atlantian King had a super powerful trident and if Arthur can find it, then his claim to rule will be that much more legitimate. Find the trident, avoid Orm’s army, and steer clear of that David guy who has a serious grudge now and may even have access to Atlantian technology to boot. Sounds reasonable enough, especially with Mera helping him out the whole time! Can Arthur solve the mysteries of his people’s past and find the one thing that will make him the ruler he was born to be? Even if he does find it, can he truly be a leader to these people given that he’s of both Surface World AND Water World lineage? Will he say MY MAN at least once in the movie!? Just once! It’s all I ask!!
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Peter Rida Michail and Aaron Horvath
I’ll admit that I, like many fans of the first show (i.e. OLD PEOPLE), tended to be rather dismissive of Go for amping up the comedy and more or less abandoning the action and drama in doing so; but that said I also didn’t outright hate it or ever have the urge to complain loudly and publicly about it. Still, now that the Titans trailer has given me a bit of perspective, I feel kind of bad about not really giving it the time of day and plan on rectifying that soon. Before that though, we’ve got a movie to see which couldn’t be further in terms of tone and style than its TV-MA counterpart and frankly that’s about all I need to more or less give this movie a pass. Hopefully it’s good movie as well, but considering I didn’t see Robin snapping necks and covered in blood in the trailers for this, I think it clearly has the upper hand. Will the jump to from television to feature films silence the haters once and for all who complained that this interpretation of the characters wasn’t just like the one they had when THEY were kids, or is this yet another show that didn’t need the big screen treatment and will be yet another cudgel to be wielded by rather obnoxious fanboys? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the Teen Titans, made up of Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy (Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong, and Greg Cipes), putting bad guys on the run and not stopping until the job gets done… at least until they find an excuse to dance at which point the Justice League has to come in and clean up after them. Well that’s not TOO bad! They got a few hits in before getting distracted by their own theme song, and it means they get a chance to chat it up with Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and even Superman (Lil Yachty, Ashley “Halsey” Frangipane, and Nicolas Cage)! Not Batman though (Jimmy Kimmel) as he’s attending the premier of his latest movie which is NOT directed by Matt Reeves; rather by an up and coming star director named Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell). Wait a minute, movie premiere!? Why didn’t anyone tell the Teen Titans!? Furthermore, why haven’t THEY gotten their own movie!? These are questions that Robin in particular doesn’t like being raised, and so he vows to get his own movie by any means necessary! Up to and including finding an arch villain for the Teen Titans to face which will surely get Jade Wilson’s attention and convince her to give them a shot at the silver screen! Good thing it just so happens that a villain known simply as SLADE (Will Arnett) who is most assuredly NOT Deathstroke (that name is FAR too scary!) is cooking up some scheme and can only be stopped by this group of teenagers with attitude! Can the Titans find a way to stop Slade AND get their own movie in the process? Just how far will Robin go to get his chance, and will his friends be the ones to suffer in the process? Can I just say that SLADE is a better bad guy name than Deathstroke? SLADE!! SLLAAAAAADDDDEEE!!
The images in this editorial are the property of their respective owners
For ninety-nine percent of people out there who don’t get to go to Comic Con in person, our experience is basically a giant pile of news being dumped about upcoming movies and television shows, and while the coverage this year was overshadowed by the senseless firing of James Gunn (#RehireJamesGunn), there was still quite a bit of news worth paying attention to; especially some of the trailers that got released, and I’m not just talking about that crappy Titans one! So let’s go ahead and take a look at some (certainly not all) of the trailers that we saw for the first time this weekend!
Directed by David F Sandberg; Owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is your typical moody teenager who’s been placed in yet another foster home, but everything changes when the mystical space wizard SHAZAM (Djimon Hounsou) chooses him to inherit his spectacular powers.
I like what I see here, but what I’m seeing isn’t much. Granted this is the first trailer and we’ll surely see more as we get closer to the release date, but the UNIQUE SELLING POINT of this movie needs to be more than it NOT being like the last few DCCU movies. It’s brighter, it has genuine humor, and it focuses on the HERO part of being a Superhero. That’s all great, but it still feels REALLY lacking. The film looks VERY small in scale which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a lack of spectacle needs to be compensated in other areas and I’m not really seeing much beyond DECENT in this trailer. I like Zachary Levi in the role and he seems very natural playing a boy in a super hero’s form, but his dialogue is far from sterling, and the cinematography seems kind of flat for the most part. I’m sure I’ll like this more than the overly ambitious Batman v Superman or the bloated but safe Justice League, but being light and family friendly doesn’t mean it has to be trivial and yet that’s a lot of what I’m getting out of this trailer. If nothing else though, they’ve got a GREAT director behind it as the guy made two of the better horror films of the last few years (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), so hopefully he’ll bring some of that creativity to this film even if this first trailer doesn’t quite get it across.
Titans and Teen Titans Go are owned by Warner Bros Television Distribution and DC Entertainment
All other copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
It’s that time of year again where Hollywood sprinkles a dash of hype here and a pinch of news there right in the middle of San Diego for the yearly celebration of fandom known as Comic Con! What does this mean for everyone who CAN’T book a ticket for California and drop ridiculous amounts of money on hotel rooms and cab rides? Why trailers of course! And this year we start the event off with something BIG! DC and Warner Bros have been teasing us with a new Teen Titans live action show for some time now, and they’ve finally released the first trailer for it! Let’s see how far we can get into this before I find something to criticize!
*ONE SECOND IN*
NOPE! Sorry, DC and Warner Bros! You couldn’t have missed the point harder if you actually FOUND the point and then threw it into the Mariana Trench so that no one could ever find for all eternity! Now look, I don’t want this to be a rant about COMIC BOOK ACCURACY (mostly because I’ve never read a Teen Titans book) or about how it doesn’t match my nostalgia for that original Teen Titans cartoon (something we’ll talk about soon enough). No, my problem is that this trailer is cynical garbage. It’s a list of bad ideas that you could only make if you were TRYING to be this awful, and maybe in a cynical way that’s what they’re going for here. It’s no accident that the trailer takes great pains to show you Robin straight up murdering dudes (he stomps that dudes’ neck, shoots a gun, and gushes someone like a sprinkler; I don’t care if they explain in the show that they were “just injured”) and to also have him shout FUCK BATMAN while covered in blood. This is what a very immature person sees as COOL and MATURE (never mind that maturity is not the ability to withstand and consume dark material but to learn to empathize with your fellow people and take responsibility for yourself and those you care about) and it hews far too closely to the toxic nightmare that comic fandom has become in recent years (or at least has revealed itself to be now that its victims have platforms available to them). Who would want to see Robin snap someone’s neck or Starfire set criminals on fire? Probably the same “upstanding folks” who wanted Batman to kill people and are yelling at everyone about a Snyder Cut.
Justice League and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Zack Snyder
So… it’s not like anyone is looking forward to this movie and is willing to yell at critics over it, right!? Sigh… now my opinions on Batman v Superman have been made quite clear on multiple occasions, but you know… with Wonder Woman and to a very VERY lesser extent Suicide Squad, I don’t think these films aren’t worth seeing. Heck, even Batman v Superman is worth seeing in the sense that there’s so much to learn about NOT making a good movie from it! I am absolutely not looking forward to this movie and I don’t expect it to be all that good, but I’m going to sit in my seat, watch all the crappy local car commercials, and then hope that I’m not just completely wasting my time and money being there. I The fact that I’m expecting this to be bad is not the same as WANTING it to be bad or HOPING for it to be bad just to get some “outrage clickbait” out of it, because I don’t need any MORE things in my life to piss me off even if I get a hilarious and insightful review out of it. I’d rather write hilarious and insightful review of GOOD movies! So then… does Warner Bros and DC have what it takes to keep this franchise afloat after Wonder Woman became an critical and box office smash, or are we stuck with more of the same crap until these DCCU films stop making money for them? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins sometime after the events of Batman v Superman where (SPOILER ALERT!) the world is still reeling over the DEATH OF SUPERMAN! Everyone’s moody, crime is on the rise, and to top things off, aliens have started invading Earth! Yeah, that whole dream sequence with the Parademons in the last movie? Well it’s not a full scale invasion just yet, but Batman’s swinging around Gotham City finding these space bugs all over the place and needs to figure out what the heck is going on! Well it doesn’t take long for the TRUE threat to reveal himself as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who, now that Superman is deader than disco, feels confident enough to stage an all-out attack on Earth… for some reason. I mean I GUESS he tried to take over the planet back when it was Middle Earth and Amazons, Green Lanterns, and I THINK Shazzam were able to stop him, so maybe he’s after this planet for revenge or something. IT DOESN’T MATTER THOUGH! What matters is that he’s gonna tear shit up and the world needs its most powerful champions to fight against him which includes the aforementioned Batman, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jasson Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Will the Justice League be able to put aside their differences and come together (right now!) in order to stop the greatest threat humanity has ever faced? Just what is Steppenwolf’s master plan, and what other forces are in play that these mere mortals are only seeing the briefest glimpse of? How much more leeway will we have to give WB just to make sure we keep getting Wonder Woman movies!?