The Suicide Squad: Rats Save The Day

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Taskforce X are back with another suicide mission to shave some time off their prison sentences, this time looking to destroy a research project being conducted by a non US friendly Southern American Country.

Some out there on the internet are trying to create a moral outcry about this film, whilst others are loving it, so, where do I fall? Closer to the latter but with notes.

Firstly and lets just get this out of the way, this is not a family film, this is not a film you can watch at a family party or all gathered round the TV; the age rating really should have given that away. Many people online seem shocked by what they are hearing about the content in this film, and clearly they have never red a Suicide Squad comic book in their lives.

Yes, this film is very true to the comics featuring all the death, gore and general unpleasantness that you would expect. However, in my mind it does go too far but only in one respect: that is of course the birds. This film does not like birds, in the opening scene we see one mashed with a ball and then later on we see a bunch of them set on fire, now obviously this is all fake, but still as someone who likes animals this was a little uncomfortable to watch and I felt like the film lingered on it for a bit too long each time.

In terms of characters Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher 2 was my favourite, I thought she perfectly embodied the hopeful silliness of the film down to the bone. Moreover, I liked the relationship between her and Idris Elba’s Bloodsport. I thought the surrogate father daughter dynamic worked well and helped to push both of their character arcs along nicely. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is better here, and less obnoxiously all over the place as she was in Birds Of Prey, I do think Harley works best as part of a team, rather than being the centre of basically a solo film.

Overall, a good film and certainly one of DC’s best, it would have been getting five from me if it weren’t for the birds; but that is a personal thing to me.

Pros.

Melchior

The jokes

The character moments/ growth

The violence

Cons.

I don’t like seeing a bird mushed by a ball and then having the shot linger on it

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Batman The Long Halloween: Falling Back In Love With Batman

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I have been less than impressed with the last few DC animated offerings I have watched; however this film bucks that trend and is not only fun to watch, but also reminds me why I fell in love with the Batman world and mythos in the first place.

This is one of the few times when I have not red the source material before heading into a direct adaption of a comic like this, so I can’t say how faithfully it sticks to the original book. What I can say is that after watching this film it makes me want to read the comic and find out more about this story.

I found the mystery and plot to be engaging and interesting throughout. I enjoyed watching Batman try and figure out the mystery of the holiday killer, and I thought that it was fascinating to see this through the lens of a Batman who has not yet become the World’s Greatest Detective. I think this intrigue has been what a lot of recent DC animated films have been sorely lacking.

Moreover, I was pleased to see how many villains made an appearance here, and though there are quite a few the film does not feel overcrowded, rather each are given there moment to shine and then are quickly replaced with another threat.

Overall, a fun ride that reminded me why I care about Batman as a character.

Pros.

The plot and the intrigue

Batman and Catwoman

Joker

The tension

Cons.

A bit of a slow start

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Batman Vs Superman: A Vague Similarity In Mother’s Name Prevents Brutal Death

Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice is a DC comics-based superhero film directed by Zack Snyder and serving as a sequel to Snyder’s previous Man Of Steel film. The plot sees Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavil), butt heads as both fear the other.

So, despite what some would have you believe I actually like the films of the DCEU. I will say that they and this film specifically suffer from a problem of not understanding the characters, this can be seen with Batman as a mass murderer and Superman as some sort of alien Jesus. However, if you ignore comics accuracy or how we normally see these character portrayed there is still quite a lot of good stuff here.

I thought this film did a great job of introducing Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), I thought that she was easily the highlight of the film and the scenes with her in were terrific. I thought the best thing about this film is the world that Snyder seems to be building, I enjoyed seeing teases to past adventures and former glories. Though I do think at times it was a little on the nose, like when they find a laptop with all the other members of the Justice League’s symbols on I cringed hard, and it is clear they are trying to rush things.

I thought the Doomsday fight was a fun way to end the film, even if it did just boil down to an explosion of CGI and I thought the decision to kill Superman so early on in the franchise was a gutsy move. The one thing that bothered me was when Batman was visited by a future version of the Flash (Ezra Miller), with a warning about Superman. The scene stood out for all the wrong reasons, chief among them how cheap it looked, it also made little sense even in Snyder’s remastered ultimate edition.

I also liked Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor; it was a fun take on the character.

Overall, if you ignore how the film butchers the identities of its titular characters there is a lot of dumb fun to be had.

Pros.

Bold choices made

Introducing Wonder Woman

A rich world to explore

Cons.

It does not understand Batman or Superman

The future Flash scene bugged me

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Casper: Addams Family Shared Universe?

Casper is a fantasy family comedy film directed by Brad Silberling, based on the Harvey Comics character of the same name. The plot sees single father James Harvey (Bill Pullman), and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci), move into an old mansion only to find that it is full on ghosts, some more friendly than others.

This film feels like a good accompaniment to Ricci’s Addams Family films, a natural triple bill if ever you were so inclined. Stylistically, again quite similar.

I enjoyed the friendship between Casper (Malachi Pearson), and Kat I found it to be sweet and deeply endearing, likewise when they shared that dance together at the end of the film, I found that to be a cheer worthy moment. I think the biggest asset of this film is its hopeful tone, it really makes it a joy to watch.

As far as child actors go, I think Ricci gives a good performance, you buy her as the sad little girl. Bill Pullman is very believable as the failing single father who is in mourning but is trying to keep things together for his daughter’s sake, I enjoyed his arc and thought his reunion with his dead wife was a sweet moment.

Overall, if you don’t mind the dated effects, which to me added to the charm, this is quite a sweet endearing seasonal watch.

Pros.

Pullman

The emotional character works

The friendship between Casper and Kat

Cons.

It has some pacing issues

The non-Casper ghosts are overplayed

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Batman, Assault On Arkham: Fear The BAT

Batman: Assault On Arkham is an animated superhero film directed by Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding. The plot follows the infamous Task Force X/ or as they’re otherwise known The Suicide Squad as they lead an Amanda Waller directed raid on Arkham Asylum in an effort to retrieve an object of immense value from within its walls.

I have been meaning to watching this film for some time, I really like the DC animated movie universe, and this is yet another jewel in it. Though I liked it, this film is what the DCEU Suicide Squad movie should have been. An adult and gritty take on the Batman rouges gallery that isn’t constantly trying to get you to care about and root for its leads. This film knows that the members of the Suicide Squad are villains and treats them as such.

I like the lethality this film has towards its characters, it reminds me of the comic books, people die in the Suicide Squad all the time hence the name; so I appreciate that this film doesn’t pull any punches in that regard. I also enjoyed the Batman fight scene, I thought it was very Arkham esque; I later learned that this film was in the same universe as the Arkham games and that made sense.

Overall, I liked the tone and approach of this film. I also enjoyed the animation, I thought it was very easy on the eye and wasn’t too over the top. I would gladly watch another film set in this universe as I think there are more stories to be told and more characters to explore. That might be my only real issue with the film the characters were not flushed out at all.

Pros.

The animation.

The tone.

The fight with Batman.

The violence overall.

Cons.

The character feel very one note.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke.

The Howling: Wellness Retreat Ends In Werewolf Attack

The Howling is a werewolf themed horror film directed by Joe Dante. The plot sees local news anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace), go to a mountain retreat after a near fatale run in with a serial killer. However, while there Karen does not find herself or her inner power, rather a colony of werewolves that have been living amongst us for years.

I am a huge Joe Dante fan, as many of you may know I have a huge love for Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as for some of his other projects like Burying The Ex, so I will try and remain impartial while I am writing this review.

Truth be told, I did not love this film as much as I was expecting to. In fact I found it to be boring at times and a little hard to follow. I think from a narrative perspective a lot of the ideas don’t come together, they are fine on their own, but don’t make sense when viewed as a whole. I found the beginning particularly bad for this, but it does improve as the film goes on.

I think the best thing about this film is the creature design. The werewolf costumes are of course practical, and I am a big believer in practical effects over CGI, they look very convincing and even hold up to our modern standard years later. I also thought the transformation scenes were well done, not American Werewolf In London good, but still terrific.

I also loved the ending, I thought it was bold and striking; shame about the sequel baiting at the end though.

Overall, a little boring and rough around the edges, but if you like werewolf film there is still something to enjoy!

Pros.

The creature design.

The ending.

Dante’s direction.

Cons.

It is boring and hard to follow at times.

The sequel baity ending

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Shazam: Big 2.0

Shazam is a superhero film directed by David F. Sandberg, it is the 7th instalment in the DCEU. The plot follows Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a young foster kid who has spent most of his life trying to find his biological mum after she abandoned him at a fair. One day an old wizard calls upon Billy to take up the mantel of Shazam (Zachery Levi), and stop the evil that the 7 Deadly Sins have bought into the world, as well as defeat evil scientist Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).

Of all the DC Comics heroes Shazam is probably the one that I am the least familiar with, as such it was neat to learn his origin story. I think the story choice of having Billy be a foster kid that constantly runs away from foster homes to look for his mum, who he believes is the only family he needs, only to have it turn out that his mum deliberately abandoned him is an inspired choice. This choice was surprisingly dark for a family film and I appreciated that. What’s more this gave the moment when Billy finally excepts his foster family far more emotional weight.

As anyone who has ever seen Chuck can tell you Zachery Levi might be the most charming man on the planet, he was great in the Thor films though he only had a small part and he is terrific here in a larger superhero role. He perfectly captures the Big mentality, being a kid’s brain in the body of a grown man, as he plays the character with a healthy does of innocence and naivety. When his big hero moment finally comes it feels earned.

Furthermore, Mark Strong does a great turn as the villain, his character is threatening and menacing and dominates the screen every time he appears. Strong proves once again that he is one of the most versatile actors currently working. The boardroom scene is one of my favourites of last year, you will know why when you watch it.

I think this might be the most underrated and perhaps the best DCEU film. The emotional stakes are pitch perfect, Zachery Levi is magnificent, and the film isn’t afraid to get dark, which it does several times to great effect.

Pros.

Zachery Levi.

The darkness.

The humour.

The emotional stakes.

The wider universe.

Cons.

None, I have seen this several times and it holds up each watch.

5/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Walking Dead:When A Show Lives Long Enough To Become A Zombie

The Walking Dead is a horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the Robert Kirkman comic series. The plot sees a group of survivors lead by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who spend their days fighting for survival in a world that has sunk into a zombie apocalypse; they must do whatever it takes to survive, no matter the cost.

I am a big fan of the Walking Dead comic, as well as Robert Kirkman’s other series Outcast. Invincible let me cold, but that is personal taste. As such when the Walking Dead series was announced I was excited, when Andrew Lincoln was cast, I was even more so.

The first few seasons were good, strong, must watch TV. However, when they got to the prison things changed, I don’t know what it was, maybe it was the shift in the behind the scenes creatives, but something changed, and it was very much for the worse. Season’s started to feel more dragged out, more and more episodes felt like filler and less and less happened, which is a shame as this was the same season that had introduced David Morris as the Governor.

From there things got worse, as well as the pacing issues and the season by season increase of filler episodes, the show started doing something else that ruined the quality, I am of course taking about the fake outs.  In the promos for coming episodes of the show, we saw characters in situations where it looked like they were going to die, this got taken to an extreme when Glenn looked all, but dead and then a few episodes later it turned out he was alive; then he died at the end of the season. The issue with this is that it makes the actual character death have less impact, it also feels like a direct effort to manipulate fans.

Now we are at a point the show, where it has lost a lot of its core audience, I personally tuned out at the start of season 6, I saw the stuff they did with Negan, I didn’t like it. It has killed off a lot of the main characters and the ones we have left are less interesting. I am sorry but, Darryl is not a good character. All the issues that I have mentioned before are still there, and now they try and include direct adaption of scenes from the comic to try and lure fans back in but guess what they aren’t coming.

It has reached a point where the show needs to end, unless they want to drive it into the ground. They could focus on the spin-off shows if they wanted to carry on the universe, but the main show should end.     

Hellboy: Hell On Earth

Hellboy (2019) is a superhero film directed by Neil Marshall, based on the Dark Horse comic character of the same name. This film entirely ignores the Del Toro films that came before it and instead acts as a reboot of the series, moving away from family friendly territory and into Deadpool esque R-rated waters. The plot sees Hellboy, (David Harbour), try and stop a centuries old witch Vivienne Nimue (Mila Jovovich) from unleashing Hell on Earth.

I know this film was a bomb and a lot of people didn’t like it and the Del Toro films are better in a lot of ways, but I actually enjoyed this film; controversial I know. Before I get into why I liked it, I just want to say yeah I know this film has a lot of problems, the CGI ghost people that come out of Alice’s (Sasha Lane), throat are terrible and look like a child made them on After Effects and yes the plot line that Hellboy knew Alice as a child, but now she is kind of like his love interest for some reason, is creepy. That aside this is why I liked the film.

I like how this film sets up a larger world, you feel like there is more at play here than meets the eye, I like how it brings fantasy to a 21st century version of London. I am also a massive Hellboy comics fan as well as the B.P.R.D so to see characters and elements of that world that the Del Toro films didn’t cover on screen was a blast for me.

I liked the fact that we got new characters rather than seeing the same team from the previous films, made up of Liz, Hellboy and Abe Saipan. Daniel Day Kim’s Ben Daimio is so cool, and the scene when he turns into a Werejugar is easily my favourite scene of the whole film, Alice is also a cool character, even if her powers look terrible.

Moreover, though it might sound heretical to say I like David Harbour as Hellboy. I think the film overdoes it with the jokes and the quips, trying far too hard to be like Deadpool, just like a certain superhero film that came out in 2020, despite this I like his take on the character and I would have liked to see more of him. Harbour plays the character with a lot of charm and warmth, he isn’t as brooding as Pearlman was with the character, but I think it is a good thing that this film tried to take the character in a new direction.

Finally, the practical effects on Baba Yaga were great, this was another highlight of the film for me. I am not going to get into the Pig monster thing: because I think the whole character was needless and the film could have done without that sub-plot.

Overall, this film is nothing like the Del Toro films, but I think that’s the point. If you can appreciate it for the dumb, schlocky fun that it is then there is a lot to like about this film. If not, you can take comfort in the fact their most certainly won’t be a sequel.

Pros.

Fresh take.

David Harbour.

New team with a tease of the old.

The practical effect on Baba Yaga.

Cons.

Terrible visual effects/icky subplots.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke