Peacemaker: Best Friends, For Never

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Peacemaker, played by John Cena, tidies up after a wild night before and finds kinship in his old friend Vigilante, played by Freddie Stroma.

I think the show really finds its footing in this episode. I thought everything was firing on all cylinders the comedy was strong, the characters were strong, Cena carried on a great performance my only issue with it was that the side characters continue to go unexplored. Yes, there are little nuggets given to us here and there that give us a peak behind the curtain of the underdeveloped side characters, but I wish the show would commit more to this.

For example I thought the show did a good job introducing us to Vigilante, without actually telling us all that much about him. I thought the sequence of him and Peacemaker hanging out and bonding was funny as well as providing us with a nice amount of insight into their friendship. I also liked that this episode gave Harcourt, played by Jennifer Holland, more time to show off and her bar room brawl provided us with a well-executed action scene.  

I also like the White Dragon set up with Robert Patrick and hope that it gets furthered in the coming episodes.

Overall, a strong second episode in what is proving to be a very good DC series.

Pros.

The comedy

Cena

Vigilante

The set up for White Dragon

Cons.

The team could do with more development  

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Peacemaker: A Whole New Whirled

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Peacemaker, played by John Cena, has somehow survived his seeming death in The Suicide Squad and is now back again working for the government this time being brought in to wipe out butterflies.

I understand a lot of people don’t like James Gunn’s tone or sense of humour but I do. Though I didn’t find this episode as funny as the second, review coming soon, I still found that it had me laughing more than I thought it would.

Cena handles the comedy well and makes Peacemaker a layered character. Despite his grovelling to the Chinese Government Cena has such an affability to him that makes him hard to root against, as such you can’t help but like his Peacemaker and want him to succeed. The supporting cast is rounded out by some new faces and some returning, most of whom are fairly bland though Jennifer Holland’s Harcourt is a nice romantic foil for Peacemaker and the two have great banter together.

My issues with this first episode would be that it is still quite rough in places and is obviously finding its footing. Likewise I would prefer to not see Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis, again as I feel she is in danger of being overexposed in the DCEU, however I suppose she was necessary for set up.

Overall, a solid start for the series made so by Cena, a funny script and a nice odd ball sensibility.

Pros.

The tone

The comedy

Cena

Eagly

Cons.

A bit rough in places

Bringing back Waller

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Injustice: Superman, From Boy Scout To Fascist

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Adapting Year One of the Injustice comic run this film imagines a world where the Joker, voiced by Kevin Pollak, gets the last laugh on the heroes by killing Lois Lane, voiced by Laura Bailey, and turning Superman, voiced by Justin Hartley, into a murderous tyrant.

Having read most of the Injustice run I can say that this film gets a lot right. It keeps things simple for the most part, as the comic itself goes into all sorts of crazy directions, which I find works in the film’s favour as you get a neat narrative that is easy to follow whilst also keeping in most of the memorable moments from the comic run.

I enjoyed seeing the Injustice world realised on screen and seeing these groups of heroes facing off against each other, it is a fun game of cat and mouse that is constantly adapting and switching positions. My one complaint in this regard is that the ending of the film wraps things up neatly and doesn’t leave a whole lot open for a sequel, which is a shame as this film could be the start of a few films.

I am glad to see the brutality and gore from The Killing Joke has carried over into this, as the tale really can’t be done justice in a bloodless and child friendly way. This is a dark story for an older audience.

I have two issues with this film that have kept it from achieving full marks, firstly I don’t like the Green Arrow, voiced by Reid Scott, Harley Quinn, voiced by Gillian Jacobs, scenes and secondly it bugged me that this film left out Aquaman, voiced by Phil LaMarr. I understand why they kept in the Green Arrow Harley scenes as the two get a lot of time together in the early days of the comic run but their scenes together really add nothing to the narrative and only feel like they have been included to kill time. Moreover, missing out Aquaman seems like a huge oversight as he is important in the comic run and also leads a country so could have been a good ally to have on side.

Overall, another strong animation from DC.

Pros.

It simplifies the story

The ending

The thrill of heroes fighting

The big moments carry over

Cons.

Leaving out Aquaman

Green Arrow and Harley

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Batman The Long Halloween Part Two: DC Animations Best In Years

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Part Two finally brings to light the identity of the Holiday Killer, as well as seeing many of Batman’s most well known villains take to the streets of Gotham to wage war on the Falcone crime family.

This is the best thing out of DC animation in a while, a long, long while. By this I mean both parts of The Long Halloween viewed as one complete piece, but still on merit this is a strong second half. Not only is it a compelling mystery that gives us quality time with almost all of Batman’s rogues gallery, but it is also a surprisingly strong crime film.

I enjoyed the world set up by this film. I thought it made several changes to the source material and comics cannon that work well in this new context and serve to better the film. The films make the Falcone’s so interesting that you are almost sorry they didn’t split the graphic novel into three films, so you get to spend more time with them.

Furthermore I enjoyed the animation style and thought it looked just enough like the classic cartoons of my youth to be fondly remembered whilst also having more than a little clear anime inspiration. Both elements work well together and create for an animated feature that is a delight to watch.

My one slight criticism of this film would be that Batman gets beaten a lot. Now this might be my own fault for not knowing the timeline, but surely this happens after Year One, so it makes little sense to have a Batman that is clearly still very green in a lot of ways. Batman gets beaten by almost every villain in this film and yes I get that the film is trying to show us an inexperienced Batman but instead he comes off as almost out of his depth.

Overall, one of the best DC animated films in years.

Pros.

The animation

The world

The character development of the Falcone family

The story itself

Cons.

Batman is a little too easily beaten

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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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Justice Society World War II: I Think I Feel Asleep During This

Justice Society World War II

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

These days I am finding that a lot of the animated DC output is trapped in the meh zone, by that I mean it all just feels generic and samey, there is nothing to set one film apart from another. I used to love animated DC films when I was a kid, but recently I have been sorely disappointed, and this proves no exception.

None of the characters in this film felt likeable to me, and that is surprising considering that it is hard to make beloved superheroes unlikeable, yet they manage to find a way. The characters in this film range from boring and dull, to outright annoying.

The story feels uninspired also, are we not over the whole superheroes in history fad yet? Did Legends Of Tomorrow not entirely use up all the good ideas with the concept? Moreover, I felt myself getting so bored with this that my mind was starting to wander, and I was having a hard time paying attention.

Finally there are pacing issues galore here as well.

Overall, very meh, maybe if you were a DC diehard you might find something to enjoy here, but probably not.

Pros.

Matt Boomer is trying

Every scene with President Roosevelt

Cons.

The characters aren’t likeable

The premise is nothing we haven’t seen before

The animation feels samey

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The Lego Batman Movie: The Worst Batman

Written by Luke Barnes

The Lego Batman Movie is an animated, superhero, family film directed by Chris McKay. The plot sees Batman (Will Arnett), have to beat his greatest fear, personal intimacy, to beat the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) latest plan.

Personally, I don’t see why Batman was such a huge breakout character of the first Lego Movie, this character was deeply unlikeable there and it is only turned up here- to the Nth degree. I understand the point of his character in this film, and by extension the Lego Movie is that he is unlikeable and that he is working on himself to become better, but honestly it is not fun to watch. Arnett’s Batman quickly becomes irritating and as a result the film is a slog to get through.

Any comparison to the Lego Movie is deeply unfavourable for this film, as it really can’t compete. An example of what I am talking about, the Lego Movie has charm, and you care about the characters, this film has no charm at all, and the characters all come off as annoying.

Overall, I am glad the sequel to this film got cancelled.   

Pros.

Michael Cera is trying as Robin

Cons.

Everything about Arnett’s Batman
It has no charm

The characters are annoying

It feels gimmicky

1/5

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League: The Day Is Finally Upon Us

Written by Luke Barnes

The Snydercut or as it is sometimes more formally known Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a superhero film directed by Zack Snyder, serving as a remastered cut of the 2017 Justice League film that Snyder had to step away from due to personal reasons. The plot focuses on the formation of the Justice League in an attempt to fight off the invading forces of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and Darkseid (Ray Porter).

So as many of you know, I have thought for a long time that this film was going to be bad, or at the very least unnecessary. However, I can admit when I am wrong and am pleased to tell you this film is a vast improvement over what we got in cinemas 4 years ago: now I am not saying it is perfect, but I am saying it is a marked improvement, buckle up this is going to be a long one.

Firstly I want to address something that for me was a glaring issue with the film and that is the overly sexualised nature of the female characters. Sorry Snyder fans this is going to upset you, but there is a recurring theme in Snyder’s work of ogling women and that is very much here as well. Wonder Woman’s (Gal Gadot) skirt seems shorter, the Amazonians are basically just wearing fancy metal underwear in some cases with their midriff fully exposed, because that is wise in battle? Iris West (Keirsey Clemons)is included just as a plot device and a damsel to be saved by Barry (Ezra Miller), and of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the camera’s fascination with Gadot’s behind.

Though Cyborg (Ray Fisher), is given more to do, his look and crucially the CGI aspects of it are still quite a ways off and are distracting throughout the film, if they could remove the light in his forehead it would look infinitely better. The same can be said of Steppenwolf the other major CGI character who looks like he has come straight out of a videogame and is again distracting.

The film does benefit from better pacing with the 4 hour runtime allowing the film to feel grander and more epic. I feel that by stretching the film out more a lot of things that didn’t make sense the first time around through lack of context suddenly do, and the world as a whole feels better explored and created.  

Oddly enough despite the sexualisation Snyder seems to understand Wonder Woman better than Patty Jenkins, and after watching this I think the reason the first Wonder Woman film was so good and the second was so bad was Snyder’s involvement. Snyder gives Wonder Woman a lot of good character work that makes her feel far more central to the narrative, and also far more interesting. Moreover, by redoing the bank scene and the Amazonian battle scene Snyder it able to make both more inspiring and appear better on screen; the shortening in the Whedon cut really hurt the film.

Similarly, Snyder finally seems to understand Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill), here as well, moving away from some of the edgy aspects of their characters from his previous films and giving us a more comics accurate portrayal.

I think the tone is much better here than it has been in a lot of the other DCEU films as there are moments of levity amongst an otherwise serious affair, but they aren’t treated like dumb cringey jokes like in the original version of Justice League here they feel far more natural to the characters and importantly work.

I think this film is improved by being a Snyder film and from having his sensibilities applied to the project, I think his trademark use of slow motion is often used to great effect especially with the Flash stuff. I also feel like this film could be viewed as somewhat of a spiritual successor to Watchmen,also directed by Snyder, and think it would make for an interesting double bill.

Ezra Miller’s flash does still stand out for all the wrong reasons, and I do hope in future films they tone down the character and his awkwardness as it does become cringe at times, but not as much as in the previous version. Likewise, I also found the amount of problematic people cast in this film off putting as you have Miller (who choke slammed a fan allegedly), Amber Heard (who is the internet boogeyman) and Jared Leto (look it up), all rubbing shoulders with each other in a troublesome trifactor. Though I will give Snyder the benefit of the doubt the incidents involving two of them didn’t come out until it was too late to change it, but it is a shame.

The score by Junkie XL is terrific and really does bring the film together, with the music really adding a lot to the fight scenes in particular; with the new motif they have for Wonder Woman probably being my favourite.

Sadly, there is a large amount of product placement in this film that really does cheapen the film to an extent, admittedly only brief sections feel almost like adverts within the film.

The things added that have made this film R rated are a mixed bag, the blood does add to the intensity of the battle scenes, though the swearing really adds nothing and on the whole the film does not need to be R rated.

Moreover, the reach around line from Joker, is creepy and needless and should have been left out of the film.

Finally, I just want to talk about some of the stuff from the end of the film. Batman’s attempted self-sacrifice does still feel needless though it is handled better here, and the Nightmare section feels forced in at the end for no real reason. With the nightmare section it is clearly Snyder setting up for another film that he does deserve but most likely won’t get. Furthermore, the film does not really neatly address the Flashes’ warning from the previous film, and there are a number of other outstanding questions left to be answered as well.

Overall, a moment of triumph for the DCEU, something far better than the recent offerings (BOP and WW84), though sadly let down by sexual objectification, poor CGI and product placement.

Pros.

Solid world building

Good character work

The battle scenes are far more intense

A lot of the scenes flow better with more context which is allowed for with the longer run time

Cons.

The sexualisation and using of women as a plot device

The reach around line

The poor CGI

The product placement

3.5/5

Batman Soul Of The Dragon: Batman Outstays His Welcome

Batman Soul Of The Dragon is an animated superhero film directed by Simon Liu. The plot looks back to Bruce Wayne’s (David Giuntoli), days in training, when he was learning all of his martial arts prowess that would serve him well as the Dark Knight. We see that the mystic institution that Wayne was training at holds a terrible secret, a portal to hell (and or an evil other dimension), that a cult wants to opening.

This didn’t really feel like a Batman film, it felt like an animated martial arts movie and that is a good or bad statement depending on which of those you would rather watch. Personally, I went into it hoping for some top tier Batman content and was disappointed, this was not what I was expecting, and Batman was not really the main focus, rather it was Richard Dragon (Mark Dacascos), a figure from Wayne’s past.

However that is not to say it was bad either. I enjoyed the martial arts elements and the supernatural mysticism, I thought both were done well and really added to the project as a whole. The fight scenes were particularly impressive, and I am glad they did not censor the violence in anyway, it added a nice visceral edge to it.
I also thought the ending, which I won’t spoil here, was quite gutsy as it ended on a cliff hanger rather than neatly wrapping everything up.

Overall, I think there is a lot of good here, I think that it should have been its own standalone animated film that didn’t include Batman, it was strong enough to stand on its own. By having the Batman name front and centre it takes away from what the film is, as you go in with certain expectations that aren’t met, which is a shame as it is good otherwise.

Pros.

The ending

The fight scenes

Nice gory violence

The mysticism

Cons.

Batman should not be involved

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

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