Justice Society: World War II Review


The Justice Society is a group that has always been overshadowed by the Justice League in the past. They’re a group with a lot of heart but typically can’t keep up in the power levels department. Plus, they tend to only be around in the past so there aren’t a lot of opportunities to show them off. Well, they finally got their own film and it’s a pretty good one. I feel like the setting holds the film back a bit and I never quite warmed up to the group but in the end you will have a good time with this one.

The movie starts off with the Justice Society group getting formed in the past while the Flash helps Superman fight off Brainiac in the present. Superman’s having a tough time for once as Brainiac is kicking him around and nearly finishes the job before the Flash steps in. However, the Flash was so eager to help that he accidentally ended up going a little too fast and warps to the past. The Society needs some help to fight off the Nazi’s so Flash is eager to support but will they still stand a chance once the Atlanteans get involved?

Now I know what you’re thinking. The Flash can whoop all the villains in an instant and then run home right? Well, to make sure that didn’t happen, the film has Flash lose most of his speed. The idea here is that since there are now 2 Flashes at once, the Speed Force can’t quite handle it and so they’re both slower since they’re tapping into the Speed Force. I have to assume that the Force gets stronger later on since you have guys like Bart and Wally using the Speed Force at the same time as Barry. So it might feel a bit convenient but I can respect wanting to keep the power levels from being too crazy.

Even with that you might not buy into the Flash having a tough time with most of these situations and that’s valid. Part of the issue with having the film be set during World War II is that there aren’t many real threats to go up against the group. It’s a little harder to throw in tension when you’ve got superheroes fighting off random guys with guns. It’s naturally satisfying to see the Nazi’s get wrecked of course but by the same token you won’t feel very nervous for the heroes even when the stakes are high. The movie isn’t afraid to get rather serious about how not everyone will make it out of this one.

There’s also a really good twist the film has later on which completely helps to redefine what’s happening. I thought that was excellent and it allowed the film to really effectively use the setting. You could probably even take it farther but it may run the risk of the Justice Society being overshadowed in their own film so that could have been risky. As it was, adding Aquaman and his right hand man was a really good idea here because now Wonder woman had someone to fight. Obviously she is really the power hitter of the group and so you need someone who can actually fight her.

Aquaman vs Wonder Woman is absolutely the highlight of the film. Their fight has a lot of back and forth to it and can be surprisingly long. It’s not a one and done kind of deal which is great. Aquaman seemed to have the slight edge in their fights but it was fairly even so it would take him a while to win. Personally I’d consider Wonder Woman to be stronger in most continuities but she always did seem weaker in the older eras so I suppose I can see how Aquaman would win here.

Either way having super powered action is definitely the way to go. The present fight against Brainiac was also fun. Honestly it’s almost too good since that makes for a much more engaging story than what’s actually happening in the war. You already know most of the main storybeats of World War II after all even if they’re adding extra super villains and threats around. In the present it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s happening. That’s enough on the setting though.

For the animation, it’s using the style that the last few DC films have so it is definitely a keeper for this continuity. While it’s definitely a lot weaker than the more traditional DC films like Superman Doomsday and all the New 52 items, the fight scenes look good. While the colors may all be faded out in that New Frontier/Superfriends kind of look, the choreography shows up. Aquaman was swinging his staff around like he was Thor using Mjolnir. The battles are fast paced and definitely work well.

The soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable though as I couldn’t recall any main themes. The character designs are all on point with the exception of Wonder Woman. She reminded me of Rocketman for some reason with how her head was extremely sharp and seemed like the crown was on so tight that the whole shape changed. You’ll know what I mean as soon as you start the film. I never really got used to it and hopefully her appearances in the modern era wouldn’t have that issue. It was the only design that didn’t quite seem right.

As for the characters, it was a solid cast overall. Barry felt a bit more like Wally with how he was joking around the whole film. Barry’s personality does change a whole lot based on what continuity you’re in though so I wouldn’t say it’s out of character but a little different from the Barry I’m used to. He tends to sandbag in the fights a whole lot but does good in clutch situations. Superman naturally looks great in the present even if he still tends to make some rookie mistakes. In the past their version of Superman’s definitely not as good though. Definitely not someone who will have your back.

Then we have the Justice Society and their gang seems rather wound up as they yell a lot and are quick to move against Flash. I thought they were completely unreasonable during the first meetup and it took them a while to really get going. Surprisingly Hawkman seems to be the most levelheaded member of the group. He tries to get everyone to work together and also talks them through the tough moments. It’s definitely one of his best animated portrayals yet.

Wonder Woman has fun with the group and seems like a decent leader. She makes some questionable decisions (Leaving Black Canary to guard the Flash…really? but is ultimately the reason the group is still alive as she can deal with the threats that nobody else can. Hour Man still makes for an interesting hero with how his powers work but man is it a huge weakness. He just can’t stay active for very long and his powers are constantly running out as a result of that. Jay is the Flash from this team and I thought he was good. He seems to have not practiced with his powers as much as Barry so he doesn’t know how to do a lot of things but he also comes through with one trick that Barry didn’t know so that helps to even it out. He’s a nice enough guy and does tend to support Barry.

Black Canary gets a rather big role here as she gets some character development. She can be rather rude to Flash without provocation and we learn why that is later on. Her power is certainly very helpful that’s for sure. Finally there’s Steve Trevor who may not really be a member of the group but he’s always around to help and provide cover fire. You have to give him credit for jumping into all of these dangerous situations without hesitation. Takes a lot of guts to do that and he is definitely a great role model for all the heroes.

For the villains, Aquaman’s right hand man wasn’t particularly interesting. Mind control is definitely handy for many reasons but as a villain he barely had any real personality. He’s the kind of guy who plays all of the sides but can’t really fight on his own. As for Aquaman, he has no strength of will here and gets manipulated all of the time so it’s not a great look for him. He has great power but really needs to work on his mental defenses.

Overall, Justice Society is a very balanced movie. It’s got a lot of positives going for it without a doubt but ultimately doesn’t excel in any one area which is why it won’t go down as one of the more memorable ones. I’d like to see the Justice Society return in the present someday, now that could make for a pretty good battle movie. Still, if you’re looking for a solid movie to watch then you can’t go wrong here. The pacing is good and it’s an all around enjoyable experience.

Overall 7/10

The Batman Review


The latest Batman film is now here and it has definitely been doing quite well at the box office. It’s always nice to see Batman getting more films too because the guy is one of the most well known comic book heroes for good reason. He’s a fun lead and there’s a lot of stories you can do with him. I would definitely say this was one of the best live action Batman films. Under the Dark Knight but it basically takes down everything else. I’m certainly ready for them to bring out the sequel as soon as possible.

The movie starts with Batman crushing some goons. He realizes that he can’t be everywhere in the city at once though and uses the shadows to help him establish that presence among the villains. If they don’t know where he is, then they will always be fearing him as soon as the Bat Signal appears in the sky. The system works but Batman fears that it doesn’t work well enough as crime rates have only risen and the city is as bleak as ever. Meanwhile someone has started bumping off all of the powerful men of Gotham. He leaves a riddle next to each murder addressed to the Batman in particular. The only common element appears to be that he is murdering people who claim to help the people but are actually working with villains or committing crimes on the side. Regardless of whether this guy is murdering villains or not, Batman has to stop him and fast!

As always with a brand new continuity there’s a lot to talk about here although you could say the same would be true even if it was a sequel because the film is super long and there’s a lot to talk about, plus it’s a franchise film so those are fun to dive into. There’s a lot of good things to talk about here and I had my share of issues but in the end it makes for a pretty fun experience. It’s never a bad idea to have more Batmen either so if we do a big crossover some day then maybe we could get them all in one movie.

This Batman is portrayed really well. I like the fact that his costume is finally, truly bulletproof. I always felt like that was a necessity when you are constantly fighting with every random minion in the city. All it takes it a lucky shot to take Batman down otherwise. The suit also has a lot of good coverage, only half of Batman’s face is uncovered but every other part is bulletproof so it would be very hard to take him down that way.

Batman’s got a lot of confidence and he’s also aggressive. This version of the character is absolutely not playing around and the scene of him breaking into the Iceberg lounge to beat everyone up was great. You feel the power behind his attacks and the film helps to build up the suspense in all of his scenes with a lot of dramatic music. While Affleck is still the best incarnation of both Batman and Bruce Wayne, I would say this is my second favorite Batman portrayal.

On the flip side, this is probably the worst version of Bruce Wayne I’ve seen. Not physically, but he just doesn’t look or feel like how you would expect him to be. As Bruce he is rather cold and snippy to Alfred, he’s given up on helping through his money so the guy just hides from the world now and it seems like he breaks down easy like one scene where he runs to a villain for answers. Now, he’s still new at the job and this is a very different kind of portrayal for Bruce but I don’t think it works. He doesn’t even look as strong as he should be considering that the guy should be working out and training constantly in his pursuit of vengeance.

He’s rarely Bruce Wayne in this film so it’s not much of an issue but it’s hard to look at him and think that this is actually Bruce Wayne. At first glance he looks more like the Joker to me. I think by the second film he should have more of a chance to bulk up and get his confidence back. I’d prefer they keep him serious and don’t have him start flirting all the time but having him be more confident and presentable would be a great improvement. Show him starting to use his money for good and to set up systems to make sure this actually works and doesn’t get drowned in all of Gotham’s crazy corruption. It’s probably hard to find good people here but Bruce should be able to find some ways especially since he has his Batman connection to get the job done.

Back to the positives, the special effects were really solid here and the same goes for the battle scenes. The only scene that felt off was Batman gliding across the city. Maybe it’s because the wings are tiny unlike most of his costumes or the way he’s floating but it just looked really off. Felt like a very old kind of special effect like something you’d see out of the 80s or 90s with him flying since it looked like something that could have been done with a fake background. Otherwise you’ll get to see a lot of really memorable visuals and the constant rain is handled well. The spotlights can be a bit bright and the constant cameras taking pictures can grate the eyes a bit but you will definitely not forget the scenery. The battle scenes properly get across the intensity of Batman’s punches as well and are also choreographed well. These may be some of the best Batman fights right now, at least against minions.

The Batman theme is also solid. It feels like a homage to the DCAU theme and my only complaint would be that it feels unfinished. You get the familiar jingles the whole time but it keeps playing as if on loop and the song never climaxes. It just keeps that intro beat until it fades. I would like to see a proper ending to that, maybe in the sequel. The lyrical song that plays 2-3 times is good though. It helps to keep the atmosphere up and the film did a really good job with the atmosphere in general. Gotham doesn’t feel like a fun place to live.

Regarding the long length, I’m definitely cool with it. My rule of thumb is that good films should always be longer and bad films should be shorter. Another way I’d frame it is that length usually has a very minimal impact on a film if any. A film I disliked would likely still be bad whether it was shorter or longer and a film I enjoyed would still be good whether it was longer or shorter. I don’t find length to be too important in that sense but personally I advocate for all films to be 2 hours minimum. From there you can be as long as you want. Even if you go up to 4 hours, the film should still be great if it’s done well.

Batman’s usual supporting cast is around here and they’re solid as you’d expect. You have Gordon who isn’t quite the commissioner yet but you can tell that’ll come in soon. He’s got Batman’s back and they make for a solid team. I definitely thought he was really solid here and would like to see more of him in the sequel. Alfred doesn’t do much here but he’s fun enough. They just need to dial up the sarcasm in the sequel and I’d like Bruce to be a little kinder to him. They don’t have the same friendly dynamic that they usually do and I can’t use stress as an excuse for Batman.

There aren’t a lot of other big allies yet so the cast actually wasn’t huge but that makes sense since as an origin film you don’t want to distract from Batman too much. I expect the mayor will end up being a bigger character in the sequel so we’ll see how she does there. I expect a sequel would also introduce Harvey Dent and possibly Bullock and Montoya as she brings in her staff. So the last big hero here would be Catwoman although that’s not quite accurate as she helps Batman a lot but is decisively still a villain here.

Catwoman looks good here and gets some solid fights. Her costume may not be particularly impressive (The mask just doesn’t work) but she beats her share of enemies and even saves Batman some work on the detective angle by tracking someone down herself along with a lot of evidence. She would certainly be a talented hero if she wanted to be but that’s rarely in the cards for her. I expect to see Catwoman return in the sequel but whether she does or not, this was a good way to introduce her. She at least has an honor code so you don’t mind if she succeeds even as a villain to an extent.

Unfortunately the main villain Riddler was not very good at all and might be the worst main villain in a while. Bane, Joker, Mr. Freeze, and a number of prior Batman villains were more engaging than this guy. I’d have liked for him to have had an actual costume instead of a normal mask. This guy might as well have been Hush or “Halloween” with how he was murdering people considering that he didn’t have that usual Riddler confidence and swagger. The guy cracks a lot and only talks tough when things are going perfectly. Any slip up and he starts slipping as well.

His scenes also tend to be the weakest in the film. He’s one of those villains trying to be as dark as possible so one villain dies in a particularly brutal way and for the other he inflicts some extra harm just to make a joke later on. The film is good at keeping the more violent scenes off-camera so you only know based on the after effects and criminal reports what happened. That is a good thing but I think they could have toned the Riddler down a bit. Make him less of a psycho so you could have more people in Gotham be mixed about the whole thing.

After all, he’s murdering a bunch of villains so if he did it without the torture then you could see why he has so many dedicated followers and groups of protesters cheering for him everywhere. With the torture you figure that people wouldn’t be quite as on board. Either way I’d rather this guy does not return, I just didn’t care for him in any way so as a villain he didn’t hold up his end of the film.

There are a few other villains running around here like the Penguin and Falcone. They’re decent enough, I like that the Penguin is able to talk tough to Batman the whole time. He definitely doesn’t feel the fear the way that most do. For Falcone I like his confidence, the guy never lets up. I’d take either one of these villains over the Riddler as the main antagonist to be honest. That said, I’d rather none are chosen as the main villain of a sequel, staying in supporting roles is the best way to go.

I’d also like the next film to give us an enemy that Batman can actually fight. This film had no real opponents for Batman to test his skills against. Ultimately he only fights random guys with guns for the entirety of the film. That works well enough for an origin but I don’t think you can do that 2 times in a row. The next film absolutely needs a villain that’s more of a threat so we can get more crispy action scenes. As I said earlier though, the battles with the goons are still solid here.

There is a little scene at the end to try and hype you up for some future events. Personally I see it as more of an Easter Egg than anything and it won’t necessarily lead into anything. IN a way I’d rather not because while this character is fun, there are already so many versions that we may as well switch it up. Also based on the context of the scene, we can assume that Batman’s already faced this opponent in this universe and come out on top so lets give him a new threat.

The power levels are all good here as Batman looks very powerful as he should. I can’t think of any moments where I thought that he should have handled things way differently in a fight. The only dramatic moment that didn’t feel legit involves a rope that Batman needs to cut at one point in the film. He has to go over and cut it which nearly needs to his demise so we get the slow mo effect and dramatic music. The whole time I was just thinking…he’s got his batarang on his emblem as established earlier. Why not just toss that? Would have been way safer and then there’s no risk. Felt like he just forgot about it I guess.

The writing is good though. You’ll be invested in the mystery and part of why the film is able to breeze past the 3 hours is because there’s always a lot going on with the various characters and their plots. It feels like an adventure that keeps on changing and adapting and that should help with the replay value as well because there’s just never any time to get bored. On a rewatch maybe you’ll fast forward the Riddler but everything else will be as fresh as when you first saw it.

As a miscellaneous note, the romance here felt rather tacked on. It seems like the writers just felt they had to include some scenes of Catwoman and Batman getting close because it’s expected but there’s just no good reason for it. They aren’t close here at all and barely know each other so it feels like the scenes are out of nowhere. Even the ending is really dramatic with the two of them but it just shouldn’t be. Especially with Batman’s portrayal here where he’s very serious and not the kind of guy to lose focus like that. I think that definitely could have been removed.

As I end things off, there is definitely an after credits scene I would have thrown in or just make this the ending scene instead of the quick easter egg moment. I’d like for a thug to have been running as Batman catches up to him. The guy does the whole “Who are you” as he fumbles with his gun and starts sobbing. That’s when we could get the dramatic “I’m The Batman” response as the film cuts to black. Would have been absolutely perfect and in line with the film’s messaging if you ask me. Ah well, maybe we can lead off with that in the next film.

Overall, The Batman is definitely a solid film that I would recommend. It’s got a lot of quality action and it never drags on so you don’t have to worry about that. The Riddler is a very lackluster villain but there’s a reason why he has never been considered a top tier Batman villain. This film just supports that but it’s always good to give other villains a chance. Maybe next time we could see someone like Clayface, he’s never had a film before and there’s a lot you could do with him. Of course I also wouldn’t mind if they throw in some guest stars like Superman to start a whole new meetup for the first time. The possibilities are definitely endless here.

Overall 7/10

Birds of Prey Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

DC may have made some of the movies starring superheroes of all time like Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but it’s certainly made some of the worst movies starring villains with Joker and Suicide Squad. While this one is better than Joker, it’s still at a really low level and feels like it is picking up where Suicide Squad left off in a lot of the worst ways. The more we get films like this, the more I’m convinced it is definitely best to stick to films based around the heroes. Not every film can pull off a Venom where you get the lead to be a rather fun anti-hero. The first step is probably to remove Harley Quinn from the starring role though. You also have to get the memo that any film with a villain as the main characters needs to make that character effectively turn good or be an anti-hero. You can’t have the villain…stay a villain.

The movie starts with Joker dumping Harley Quinn so she’s quite upset. She gets drunk and into trouble a whole lot but this catches up to her once she tells the world that Joker no longer protects her. She barely lasts a day before she is captured and Black Mask orders her to find a jewel that Cassandra Cain stole. If she doesn’t produce this jewel then she will be destroyed. Meanwhile Renee Montoya of the cops needs to find this jewel as well. She wants to make Gotham a better place but it’s been a tough road. Meanwhile Black Mask orders Black Canary to get the jewel as well and Huntress is making an appearance here as well.

So everyone wants the jewel that’s for sure. Don’t get hyped about Cassandra Cain though. Like just about everyone else in the film, she is the character in name only. This has to be one of the biggest ruined portrayals of a character. Forget Taskmaster, Lex Luthor, and the other big names. Cain has to take the cake here. Gone is the history of her being a lethal fighter trained from childhood who would go on to be one of the strongest hand to hand fighters in the DC verse. This version of Cain is a petty thief who isn’t very smart in choosing her targets. She is even caught by the cops almost immediately which speaks to her “skill” at being a thief. I did not like Cain here. I doubt I’d have liked her much even if she had a random name since she’s an annoying kid who gets everyone into trouble but this did not help matters.

Zsasz and Black Mask are your classic gritty villains here. Black Mask has a thing where he likes to cut off people’s faces. I don’t know if this is something he does in the comics as well but it’s certainly just here to remind you that he’s evil evil. The guy is incredibly unbalanced as he throws fits and cries and everything. You’re certainly not meant to find this guy all that interesting and his death scene is certainly something. Even the mask isn’t imposing because you already can’t take this guy seriously.

Zsasz is awful but I’ve never seen him in a continuity where he was good anyway so that’s to be expected. As always he’s a lunatic who just likes making scars and being a villain. He seems like a creep in all of his scenes and definitely someone you are hoping will get bumped off early so he won’t get much more screen time. With these two as the only big villains…that wasn’t setting things off on a good note.

The color scheme could have tipped you off to that right from the jump though. Everything is all gray scaled and grim throughout the movie. I saw a western film right after this one and the first scene has more color in it than this whole adventure. The gray scale can certainly work as with Man of Steel or Batman V Superman where you had a lot of compelling dialogue and great fights to balance it out. This film has none of that though so it just serves to continue to show Gotham as a super hopeless place that you should want to leave immediately.

As for the “Heroes” here, well firs toff is Harley Quinn who is decisively not a hero. She beats up people for no real reason like the guy at the club and abuses her power. She is quick to betray Cain when it benefits her and is really someone that you can’t trust at all. She talks tough but loses quite a lot of fights. If not for Black Canary saving her at the start she would have been in a lot of trouble. The problem is that Harley Quinn is not likable or entertaining. She’s just extremely annoying in all of her scenes and ends up being a liability most of the time. You absolutely do not want her in your corner if you’re going to be facing off against a tough opponent as she’ll fail more often than not.

The film will try to have you take her seriously again later on by having her beat a bunch of random thugs but she loses too many times in this film for that to actually work. Then you have Renee who is drunk half the time. That’s not doing her any favors and you don’t see how she will be much of an asset here. She isn’t a professional fighter or anything and the drinking will definitely hold her back. Of course like everyone else she is beating tons of experienced thugs at the end but you don’t see her career lasting long unless she gets some kind of big weapon.

Huntress should have easily been the best character here but she is used as borderline comic relief half the time. Nobody takes her name seriously and they interrupt her big speeches. She does get to use her crossbow to murder a lot of people of course but always blows up with her random anger issues that the other characters poke fun at. It’s a shame since she was so good in Justice League but she is severely lacking in this film. She doesn’t even get the classic costume or anything until the literal end of the film. She’s another character that might as well not be Huntress.

The worst part about all of these adaptions is that you’re likely stuck with them for the foreseeable future. Of course a good writer can improve these characters but otherwise you’re stuck. They really need to try and put some distance with the characters from Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad. Go for a soft reboot or something and then you can try to turn this around. I can’t say I have much hopes for any sequel or spinoff of this film though. It’s hard to picture it being a winner.

For Black Canary, well the film does remember that she has sonic abilities at the end. She is so incredibly nerfed though that a single hit is enough for her to faint. So I guess we can’t expect her to be going up against any tough fighters by the end of this. She does have a decent hand to hand fight against some of the random thugs though so at least there’s that.

This film could have really used an appearance by Batman at some point. Sure he would have stolen the show but it’d be worth it. This whole thing takes place in Gotham and Harley Quinn blew up a giant chemical plant. Surely Batman should be on the case right? Even just some references of Batman taking down minions would be nice since Black Mask is so openly sending his crooks around to bump people off and kidnap the characters off the street. I know this is Gotham but a lot of nights pass by without any sightings of the Batman. They can’t be everywhere but in this case it’s literally Gotham city, he should be popping up somewhere.

I would say Gotham itself is a big problem for the film. A lot of times films like to show how depraved Gotham is and that’s where they tend to fail. For example, of course we have a scene where the villain orders a girl to strip and dance. That’s completely unnecessary and we also have Harley Quinn shown to be someone who frequents these kinds of establishments as a villain. The movie has a lot of fanservice throughout and sketchy costumes.

Birds of Prey is unrelentingly depressing most of the time. This is a harsh city where the heroes lost years ago and villains rule all over the place. It’s not to the extreme of Joker but you will have a hard time finding any really happy/fun scenes. Harley and Cain have some bonding moments but mostly that’s just Harley being a terrible role model the whole time. Someone who will act nice and talk a good game but lose in one hit or just sell you out in the next scene. It was fun to see the owner of the restaurant accept the money and leave though. In this city that seems to be the quickest way out of here.

The writing’s not particularly good and the song choices are really bad. The final song’s probably the worst one by far and had to be aired out at several moments. Yeah this film was really going for grit. The action scenes could have been worse in that respect as it didn’t try going over the top most of the time. We did have some real choreography and fight scenes which is good. The film wasn’t trying to be gritty all of the time. Usually in the moments it wasn’t, it was the characters just being annoying all the time though.

Overall, Birds of Prey is a pretty bad film. At least I’m glad they ended up ditching the long sub title later on since nobody ever used the whole title anyway. I know that point’s been beaten to death but it’s not even all that accurate with Joker having dumped Harley Quinn as opposed to it being the other way around. You can of course say that the process helped her but when you consider the fact that she would probably run right back to him if he would have her….it doesn’t help her case. Regardless, the biggest issue here is that this is a film about the villains…that forgets to make the villains likable. Harley Quinn and her constant narration does not make for a good lead. The Birds of Prey group aren’t likable yet either. Black Canary is decent and Huntress has potential but for the moment give me a random lead from any big DC character and I would probably take him or her instead. The Birds of Prey will have to work hard to improve their characters in the next film but without Harley Quinn holding them back at least they have a chance.

Overall 2/10

Spider-Man No Way Home Review


We have made it. It’s time for the big Spider-Man film to end the trilogy. This one really didn’t get a ton of promotion as Marvel was trying to keep things as hush hush as possible. It’s rare to see this nowadays for most companies but Marvel’s been leaning more into this strategy lately and it seems to be an effective one. Of course, you’ve probably seen a lot of things unofficially since it’s really impossible to squash the leaks nowadays but officially we were in the dark. The film really succeeds on this journey and in the end it’s one of the best Spider-Man movies.

The film picks up right where the last one left off with Peter’s identity being confirmed to the world. He’s quickly trying to get his life back together but it isn’t easy as a lot of people are on Mysterio’s side and thinks that Parker is a menace. Well, Peter is forced to ask Dr. Strange for help, but doing so causes a lot of issues within the multiverse and now Peter must contend with some of the most dangerous fighters around. Can he manage to take them all down and keep everyone safe or is he about to be totally overwhelmed here?

Now of course there is a whole lot more to the story and yet as most of it wasn’t shown in the trailer, I won’t go beyond that here until the spoiler paragraphs later on. Lets run through a lot of the things the film did well right off the bat. The action scenes are really excellent. We see Peter pulling off some solid web combos like in the video games. Flipping people with his webs in order to land a body slam, doing an air reversal into a kick, etc. It’s nice to see him getting creative with his powers and there was one part in particular where he used the shapes and debris around him to really come up with something special.

The movie is long but never feels that way. There’s always something going on and we get a ton of action. The only part of the film that goes on for a bit with no fighting is the first act and I was still glad we had that because I was a bit worried that we wouldn’t deal with the fall out from Far From Home long enough. That was a really big deal so I’m glad we got to see some of the effects here and how everyone had to deal with their own difficulties. Of course the action is what will really draw you in but the story was sound from start to finish. The writing is really good here.

Of course you also have a really good soundtrack with a lot of variety. Since you have many big themes here including ones from the classic Spider-Man films, that makes for a very complete soundtrack. There’s even a Christmas song that plays near the end of the film. I would have liked to have heard some themes a bit longer like Electro’s but you do have to be careful to stay on the line of being nostalgic without going too far and I think the film handled that really well.

Peter is at his best here from the trilogy. At this point he’s an experienced hero in his own right and is able to handle the situations without needing help. His early scuffle with Doc Ock is a good example of this. You have Peter going up against someone he’s never fought before who has a creative moveset and our hero is able to adapt and quickly counter attack. This is the right way to handle such a threat and he protects everyone in the area.

Now, things do get intense for him and he starts to make some mistakes near the end. There’s definitely one moment in particular where he really loses himself but ultimately he does make the right decisions and ends the film on a high note for his character. I think we’ll be seeing Peter continue to look better and better as the films go on and I definitely appreciate how the character arc has gone. I’ll be interested to see the plot summary of the next Spiderman film.

I won’t say much about the villains here but they were all portrayed well and really faithful to their older movies. Green Goblin really steals the show in all of his scenes. They show why he is one of Spiderman’s biggest enemies and their 1 on 1 fight early on in the film is easily my favorite battle in the film. It’s nice to have someone who can keep up with Spiderman physically. Electro is quite solid here. I liked him in his original appearance as well but he may have been improved here with how confident he is the whole time. unlike the others, Electro really has no doubts about what he wants to do and his goals. The guy is probably more power mad than most but it makes him a really solid villain.

Sandman also gets a solid role here. I liked him a lot in his first scene with how quick on the uptake he was. I do miss that we don’t see his human form here much though. The all sand form isn’t quite as visually striking as seeing him morph into different shapes as he fights. Finally you have the Lizard but his role is the smallest by far to the point where I wonder a bit if there was a subplot for him that got cut out. There are several points in the film where it feels like he is planning something only for it to not actually happen.

Then we have Peter’s allies like MJ and Ned. Well, I’m not the biggest fan of these two but they do contribute which is always important. MJ’s catchphrase about keeping your hopes low at all times may be pragmatic but it’s certainly not a fun approach so fortunately she changes that up by the end. She’s always got Peter’s back and I do think it made sense that being carried through the air on the webs wouldn’t be fun immediately. A lot of the time you see characters just not reacting much but as someone who isn’t a big fan of heights, I’d also not be too thrilled about the whole thing. For Ned, his character arc goes in a much different direction than I had expected. I wonder if it will actually go anywhere at this point or if this was just a for fun kind of thing. Either way he’s okay I suppose, Ned’s also a loyal friend to Peter.

Dr. Strange is the main mentor figure here and he performs his role really well. As seen in the trailers he and Peter definitely have very different viewpoints on how to deal with the villains. They argue quite a lot in the film that’s for sure. It’s nice to have him here though since guest stars are always a lot of fun and his scenes still have the crazy magical effects that always accompany his battles. He can really do quite a lot with his spells but you get the feeling that they are easier to use if you’re aiming to destroy someone as opposed to just stopping them. That said, his lack of speed is a key weakness that can be exploited. He was a blast although there was one plot detail I wasn’t a big fan of which will be in the spoiler section later on.

Jameson is also a lot of fun of course. It would have been great if they could have squeezed in his iconic laugh at some point but either way it was just a lot of fun to see him here. He really nails every scene that he is in. He even gets some good shots in against Spiderman when they finally get to talk. Without spoilers I think that’s about a wrap on all of the good things about the movie. I consider this one to be great and so it does succeed on all areas. So you may wonder where it stacks up in the greater Spider-Man universe. Well, I have it in third now as my updated ranking would be:

Spiderman 3>>The Amazing Spiderman 2>>No Way Home>>Spiderman>>Far From Home>>Homecoming>>Spiderman 2>>The Amazing Spiderman. This one neatly jumps into the third place spot. It’s just a lot of fun and will have a ton of replay value. I’m confident this is the kind of film you could watch quite a few times. It’s all just so fast and polished that you won’t be bored when replaying the intensity of it all. In terms of weaknesses, I have a few but nothing big. They’re small things that are enough for me to note but don’t really hurt the score in any way.

So this isn’t a Thanos situation where you can understand why in and out of universe a ton of people were defending him. Here we have a whole thing with stickers saying Mysterio was right and a lot of people being on his side but it seems a little more far fetched to me. This is a guy who showed up out of the blue and died shortly afterwards. I would think Spiderman has earned a lot more credibility with saving people all the time where most would not side with Mysterio. I’d also have liked to have seen SHIELD or another secret group show up to help Peter out a bit. It really felt like he was on his own. I mean you have Happy Hogan from Stark Industries but it’s not like anyone else was backing him up from the company. War Machine doesn’t show up or anything like that.

The film does a good job of making most of the fights short enough where you wouldn’t expect any heroes to make it in time so that explains why more heroes don’t appear. I think the climax is a little harder to buy since the battle location was televised for the world to know about in advance. Definitely I think some people should have showed up there but that’s still a small item. The other things are spoilers so that’s for later.

As for the debate with Strange and Peter, well I would have to be on Peter’s side here although it may be more appropriate to say I’m on May’s side since she fights for this a lot more than Peter at times. The issue is about sending the crossover villains back to their timelines to be murdered by Spiderman or to keep them here and think of a better way. While Strange talks about destiny and fate, the fact is that the fate no longer applies since they have been taken out of the universe. So Peter is right to try and save them all. Taking them back to die would effectively just be murdering them. It’s like my old time travel argument about how you are obligated to use it to help people but that’s a full conversation for another day.

Now, the Spider Sense could be a little inconsistent here. It would work sometimes and it just wouldn’t work at other points. At one point Spiderman is stabbed and another point he is shot and both times he didn’t know anything was coming until after he was hit. At best you could say it’s that if he gets too tired then the Spider Sense doesn’t work…but I’m not quite sure I buy into that. Not one of those big deal moments but I don’t think either blow should have worked. It’s tough to write the film in a way where Spiderman isn’t too broken with the spider sense of course but it could have been put to greater effect here.

So yeah this was definitely a great film and there’s certainly lots to discuss after watching it. I look forward to hearing about any easter eggs and references that I may not have gotten the first time. The film certainly had a ton of those and callbacks so that was a lot of fun. Now, if you haven’t watched the film yet I will say to skip the next 11 paragraphs as this is where I will start my spoiler discussions. I’m going to call all in here so just keep scrolling down until you see my next sentence in bold which will signal that the spoilers are over.

All right, now we can really dive in to some other areas of the film. First off, the biggest plot twist in the film even if everyone knew it ahead of time which is that the Spider-Men of the first two film series get to show up. As soon as Doc Ock and Electro were confirmed people assumed this had to be the case but even so it’s surreal to see them all interacting like this. It would have been difficult to have ever imagined that all 3 would meet even just a few years ago. It’s really nostalgic seeing them, particularly the original Spiderman. After watching endless memes of the first films like the Bully Maguire videos, it’s cool to see him back in the role.

He was always my favorite Peter Parker version and had the best films overall. He is portrayed as the wisest of the 3 and gets all of the best lines. They bring back the whole “my back” meme which was cool and at the end of the film he really gets a big moment. In the theater one person even had to criticize Andrew’s version “He just stood there!???” because of how Tobey showed him up but it showed that at the end of the day, the original was the only one ready for this. I was really pleased with his appearance here and of course the original two Spidermen do have a little skirmish at the beginning. Lets just say I was happy about the outcome as well. It’s just amazing to see him back in action like this.

Still, Andrew’s character was also solid and I have considered him to be the most powerful Spiderman as well as the best version of the character wearing the suit. He knows how to have a lo of good banter the whole time and is also very experienced in his own right. It seems like he went down the wrong path as well at one point but he’s back in action now. The film pokes fun at how down he can be all the time so Tobey even tries to cheer him up a few times. Andrew gets to have his big moment by the end as well.

It was also great to just see the 3 teaming up against a common foe like this. The 3 on 3 battle was also just really nice and chaotic. It also makes sense that only the newest Peter knows how to fight in a team since the others were strictly solo acts the whole time. We also get a quick appearance from Daredevil which was really nice. The Netflix cast have finally been affirmed in a big movie which is great. He certainly got a big reaction from the theater and got some hype. Naturally I would have liked him to have appeared more like getting to try and help clear Peter’s name further or something but I’ll take what I can get.

Now as a minor detail, we find out in the film that Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme. He lost it on a technicality to Wong….which I’m not a huge fan of. Cmon, that’s Dr. Strange’s whole thing. He needs to be the Sorcerer Supreme and I’d like to see him just yank the amulet away from Wong. Additionally, Wong doesn’t seem to be doing a great job in his new position from what we could see. So even on a technicality it’s just not worth letting him keep this role.

The movie has two after credit scenes. The first one involves Venom and I won’t go into detail here but I didn’t like this. It basically makes the scene from the Venom scene absolutely pointless. If you’re someone who just watches Venom movies then you could possibly skip the after credits scene there, watch Venom 3 and not miss anything. Technically something happens here which will help set up future events in the Spiderman movies, but the whole thing just felt like the ultimate bait and switch. I never like when an after credits scene ends up feeling like it was filler or a waste. Put it this way, if you can skip the scene and never notice that you missed something, then that’s a problem. Like how quite a few of the RWBY after credit scenes were either retconned or replayed in an episode, I don’t want the MCU to go down that route. Plus I was really looking forward to some hype things about to go down here.

The second scene is a big improvement. We get a nice look at what’s to come with the Multiverse and even the super villain Scarlet Witch will be returning. I’m still beating the drum on how she is one of the biggest villains around and the heroes haven’t really acknowledged this yet. Enslaving a whole town for so long was crazy…but we’ve been over this so I won’t dwell on that for long. All I’ll say is that Strange better watch his back rather closely.

Now as we start to close out the review, I wanted to take a look at how the final memory spell works and the universe hopping/time travel. So at the end of the film everyone loses their memory of Peter Parker so it’s like he never existed. He thinks about reconnecting with his friends but just keeps it moving which is probably a good bet. At the same time, Spiderman has still been active the whole time and the timeline seems pretty much the same as always so everything still happened. So, were all the events the same as they were and everyone just forgot or did reality switch to remove Peter from every event? In route 1, Peter would have still hung out with Ned for years and any dual accomplishments they made would still exist but I guess in sci-fi style the photographs would no longer have Peter. The issue here is there should still be tangible evidence of his presence just by the fact that Spiderman is alive. It would be a ton of reality wiping to remove him from being on the planet while still having Spiderman around.

In the second route, well, Peter simply didn’t exist. Spiderman was effectively a universal construct like a robot that accomplished actions on his side but there was no Peter Parker. You feel like things would have diverged a lot though considering the events of the first film and how differently the interactions with Ironman would have been. So the first route makes the most sense but does leave you with a lot of logistical questions. It may not matter all that much but I always like thinking these things through since I love sci-fi concepts like this. So ultimately I have my doubts on this actually working short of Strange putting a mental block inside of everyone to automatically choose any alternative over recalling Peter which is constantly active. I don’t think we’ll go further into it but it is interesting.

Then the other thing to think about is how the villains were saved. So with the multiverse we know this will just create a new branch where they are alive but the original events of the films will still be the same in a different timeline. Lets focus on the new branch. So if Goblin survived in the first film, I have to assume that would have a significant change on the second film with Ock and that would have an effect on Spiderman 3. It’s possible it wouldn’t change anything too big but with the ripple effect it could be the opposite. Then at what point do they port back to their world. Is it at the moment of summoning? In that case, Ock may still start drowning as he wakes up in the water clutching the device, a powerless Electro is going to wake up in the grid where he is fried and Goblin wakes up with no powers as the glider is heading towards him.

It may make more sense to say they are summoned back at earlier points but it does make you think about it. It would be quite ironic if they were ported back only to immediately die afterwards. That would be a bit dark though so lets assume that was not the case. Still sad that Venom didn’t get to appear though as he was really the odd man out. Even Rhino at least got a silhouette near the end, I didn’t see any for Venom. He probably wouldn’t have even pretended to have been a team player though. So that’s it for dissecting all of the sci-fi rules here. For the memories I’m going to say it’s effectively a sort of brainwashing as opposed to reality warping so everything happened but people “can’t” remember as a psychic block prevents them from putting together the many clues that they would come across. For the other universes, I’ll say the cured villain shows up near their point of death but not at the exact moment so that way they each get to survive. I don’t imagine there will be a need for the film to go into it further so that’s at least my head canon on this. Now I’m just looking forward to seeing how Peter does in his new status quo. Things will definitely be different for him, that’s for sure. The possibilities are endless

That’s the end of the spoilers. Now we’re all back in action for the conclusion of the review.

So before I end it off, I’ll give Peter’s school a quick shoutout here. While one of them seemed like a really ungrateful guy who was being awfully petty to a teenager for no good reason, the other members of the faculty were on point. I like how they at least tried to make Peter feel welcome in what would definitely be an awkward situation. I’m sure they were risking their reputations in doing so as well and it really showed that this was a good school. There wasn’t time to focus on the school too much but I just thought it was a really solid scene.

Overall, No Way Home was a blast. I wonder if we’ll keep the whole “Home” naming convention for the rest of the films or if it’ll be time for something different with the next trilogy. Either way I hope they fast track the next film as we always need more Spiderman films around. Whether you’re a fan of the character or not, you should have a really good time here. The film is really a blast and makes for a fun watch from start to finish. There’s a good amount of humor and action here as well as some solid memes. It properly continues the storyline from the last film and leaves you with a lot of ideas for the next film. There are a lot of ways that it can all go down so we’ll have to stay tuned.

Overall 8/10

Joker Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film below. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version may be more negative

Making a movie with the villain as the main character is always a rather tricky thing to try and accomplish. You either go the route of trying to make the villain sympathetic so you can root for him or you go all in on just making him evil. It’s such a tough balance that it’s usually not even worth making the attempt. With the Joker of all characters you already know him as one of the most evil villains in the Batman series so this is certainly a very different portrayal. Ultimately it doesn’t work as the film just seems to be a never ending story of bad things happening to everyone.

The movie starts by introducing us to the Joker who is an aspiring comedian. Currently he works as a clowns but it’s a rough city and things don’t work out from the start. His sign is stolen and then he’s beaten up in an alley. The job threatens to fire him for losing the sign and then Joker makes the big mistake of taking a gun to a children’s hospital by mistake. It does come in handy when he is attacked on the subway as he murders the three attackers but now his life is in a tailspin. He begins to learn things about his origin that he never knew and funding is cut off for social services so he no longer has pills to keep his laughing condition in check. Now it’s time for him to become a full villain and take down the city.

Right away I can tell you the film’s biggest weakness is how hopeless it all is. The movie is really just about how bad a place Gotham is. Bad things happen to Joker and everyone else at pretty much all moments in the film. Joker, Thomas Wayne, Murray, Randall, Penny, two random detectives, everyone gets a bad hand in the film. There’s no one who walks away from this with a really happy ending except for Sophie and even then I wouldn’t say it’s super happy either since she’s probably going to have to move or may just feel terrified for a while assuming she made it out of the film.

Joker starts off as a sympathetic character since he is trying hard to be a comedian but it never works out for him. People mock him and his laughing condition makes it hard to hold a conversation at times since it can get triggered at any time. The first two people he murdered were certainly in self defense so I wouldn’t hold those against him at all. You definitely need to fight back in such a scenario and if anything it would have been nice if he had gotten up to defend the lady rather than the situation ultimately happening because he stayed back. The third guy who ran away is definitely more on the iffy side since he was no longer a threat and was running away. It makes sense to bump him off in case he could ID Joker later on but at that point it’s more to protect his own skin.

The rest of the murders in this film are completely on Joker and show how deranged he is. Joker definitely had a complete decent into being a psychotic villain by the end. You know it’s coming the whole time since this is a film about the Joker but the issue with having a villain who is so unrelentingly evil as the lead is that there is nobody to root for. If you look at some of the best villains out there like Eren Yeager, Light Yagami, Venom, or Thanos, they worked well as leads or co-leads because their goals at least made a lot of sense. In a way Light and Thanos even had good goals of saving people in a broad sense but went the wrong way about trying to improve the world and as such became complete villains.

You’re rooting for them to be stopped but at least you understand why they are doing all of this. With Joker he pretty much admits that he is just seeking out revenge against everyone who has wronged him and is just enjoys the insanity of it all. You’re not rooting for him to win at all here and his scenes can just be painful to watch. Ultimately while he blames all of the other characters for everything, some moments are his fault as well like bringing the gun to the hospital and letting Murray rile him up. The guy was clearly mocking him so Joker could have either decided not to go or to use that opportunity to prove himself anyway rather than trying to become a symbol and start a movement even if he claimed that is not what he wanted to do.

Joker was just an awful lead here and I don’t see this Joker being one of the better versions even down the road. I much prefer the classic Joker origin where he was a random bank robber who fell into the acid and became Joker. He just went from villain to super villain rather than it being Gotham which broke him down and sped up his descent into madness. As for the other characters, well Randall is a mean colleague who makes fun of his co-workers height and is generally a rather toxic person. He is quick to lie and manipulate others. You know he’s not going to make it out of this the instant that he appears.

Then you have Murray who loves making jokes at other people’s expense. He has created a whole career out of it. Joker was even a big fan of his until the jokes began to be about him. Again this is where Joker loses more sympathy points because of course he doesn’t mind others getting mocked but when it’s about him then it’s a whole lot different. Next on the list of characters is Thomas Wayne who wants to be mayor but has a complete disconnect with the people of Gotham.

I have to assume that he is planning to buy the election because otherwise he is doing absolutely nothing to win new votes. He makes fun of these guys and calls them clowns as well as goes out of his way to antagonize them at every corner. The movie presents him as a rather arrogant man who is so full of himself that he doesn’t see what’s right in front of him. I forgot we were going to squeeze in the origin here so that was unexpected. This version of Thomas appears quite unsympathetic compared to most but of course as we’re only seeing some instances from Joker’s perspective here, it’s likely not the full story.

Joker’s mother Penny also gets a decent sized role. Like Joker she has her own issues which seem to due with memory loss at first but later on we see that she is also quite crazy. Joker doesn’t see the complete irony of trying to get revenge on her later on since she likely doesn’t even remember the past and seems to believe her own delusions here. Also, she is completely powerless when they have their final confrontation and it’s got to be the worst scene in the movie. Her backstory is really gritty of course as the film continues to pile on.

The only decent character in the whole movie outside of quick cameos is Sophie. She’s Joker’s neighbor and they have a brief meeting in the elevator where she tries to be friendly but Joker doesn’t talk back at all. I guess he was worried about the laughing starting up so he kept his distance but she gave him the benefit of the doubt on a second occasion when she noticed him following her. Considering we’re in Gotham that’s a scary feeling but she didn’t immediately call the cops or get people to beat him up. She really did her best and so I’m glad she at least made it out of this. I would have interpreted her as losing her life to be honest but I remember it was a huge deal when the film came out and the director or writer had to come out and confirm she was okay. I don’t see the point of having the ambulance whizz by after the scene though. It’s only purpose is to hint at that but I’m guessing they may want her around for the sequel if we get one.

Either way it’s a good decision because the film is mainly about Joker getting revenge on everyone and she would not be deserving of that considering that she was in his corner. Not as often as he thought given how his delusions work but in her real scenes she was on point. There’s not much to say about effects as this is a more down to Earth film but I did enjoy the jingle from the game show that Murray’s on. It had a catchy beat and the happy tone really made for a great contrast to the rest of the depressing scenes.

Otherwise, prepare for the film to really drag on. There’s no real happy scenes here as the film sets the tone early. From the kids beating Joker up in the intro to the asylum in the end, there is never a scene for you to smile. There’s always something bad happening or about to happen. It’s almost impressive how unrelenting the film is with this approach as you would expect things to start working out even for a little while before the next fall but that’s really never the case. The closest is when Joker’s act starts to succeed and then this is taken away in the next scene.

The film keeps trying to balance whether it’s Gotham that turned an innocent person into the world’s greatest criminal or if he was just unstable and psychotic from the start. It’s hard to say since we’ve just got a small picture into his life but by the end it seems to be leaning towards the latter. His excessive punishment towards everyone who wronged him backs that up at least even if the crime was a long time ago. The city didn’t help of course as Gotham will be Gotham and keeps on sinking. I don’t even see how the custody angle would have worked out after everything in the file to be honest. If there is a Metropolis in this continuity then you should definitely try to get out. Being homeless in Metropolis is likely better than trying to survive in Gotham.

Overall, Joker is really an awful movie that’s extremely mean spirited. This is exactly the kind of scenario you try to avoid when doing a film based on a villain. In fact, this can be the poster film for what I’m talking about when I say how risky it is. You end up having a main character you can’t root for and so you’re rooting for him to be taken down already but since the film is about this villain, you know that’s not happening until the very end if you’re lucky. We see that the Joker is evil throughout but with no real goals or big ideas. He has an awful speech at the end where he blames society and this and that, but at the end of the day it’s all excuses on his part. This was just the origin for Batman’s villain but unfortunately in a world where they are unlikely to do battle. There were no silver linings I could find in this film so I’d definitely say to skip this one.

Overall 0/10

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review


All right, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of checking out a new comic book movie. You can expect a whole lot of excitement, action, and teasing for future films. This one even has a scene after the credits start so make sure you stay in your seats. It’s definitely one that you won’t want to miss and I’m glad that we’re starting to get such important post credit scenes again.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Kasady and Frances as they are locked up in a jail for being psychotic monsters. They bonded there though and quickly became each other’s only friend. Unfortunately for Kasady, Frances is taken away to Ravencroft. We then jump 20+ years to the present where he asks Eddie to see him one last time before Kasady is put to death. Eddie doesn’t know why he’s picked but Kasady basically wants him to print out a message. Eddie agrees but he really has bigger issues at the moment.

While Venom & Eddie mostly know how to get along with each other now but things still aren’t going great for the main character. Eddie’s ex girlfriend has gotten engaged to the rebound guy from the first film, Venom’s been getting more impatient and nearly messing up their secret identity over and over, the cops don’t like Eddie, etc. The last thing he needs is the attention of a serial killer, but he’s in too deep to escape now. Can he survive amidst all the carnage?

So right off the bat I like the banter with Venom and Eddie a lot. A positive of being a sequel is that they are already merged from the start of the film so the movie is able to lean into that dynamic right away. It’s always fun to have Venom throwing his little remarks in throughout the conversation. He gets a lot of good burns in on the opponents and certainly isn’t shy about using his abilities. Surprisingly he even gets some scenes where he looks really intelligent like when he does Eddie’s job for him by inspecting Kasady’s room.

Venom can move quickly, use the computer well, cook, etc. Granted, he is a symbiote that has existed for thousands of years but even so it’s always impressive to see him be able to do all of this. He comes across as a very fun guy and is the standout character in the movie. He likes to think of himself as a lethal protector and it’s a very apt title. He’s certainly no hero as he doesn’t mind murdering just about anyone but he does seem to have good intentions and does obey Eddie’s no murder rules.

Venom acts like a kid half the time but he is always up for a good conversation. When the going gets tough you can definitely expect him to step up even though there is one scene where he really gets scared by Carnage immediately. That’s probably the only moment in the film where it seems like he has 0 resolve. It’s a scene mainly played for laughs but I would argue he was a bit out of character there.

As for Eddie, well he’s a lot of fun as well even if he’s not as good as Venom. Eddie’s humor really comes from him being a punching bag. In any scene he is in, Eddie looks out of his depth, incredibly nervous, unsure of what to do, etc. It’s hard to even see how this guy’s a reporter as he doesn’t seem to have any skill for it. Any detective work he does has to be pointed out by Venom first or he has to have been given the clues already. Venom seems to think he should get most of the credit for Eddie’s current position and I don’t doubt it.

This is a little hard to believe but Eddie may seem even more incompetent at just about everything than in the first film. He gets sad easily and gets wrecked in every possible fight. I do like when he tries to fight Venom mano a mano though. The whole fight is crazy because how can you beat someone who is fused to yourself and can do anything? The short answer is that you can’t but Eddie puts up a good try anyway.

So, I like Eddie because of how bad he looks. I’d say the best way to think about it is that he’s the ultimate underdog and it’s easy to root for someone like that. It’s clear that Eddie isn’t a bad person, he’s just not great at making decisions or anything like that. Both Eddie and Venom ultimately are trying to do their best here and are basically two average joes just trying to survive. (Well, Venom’s not normal but you get my drift)

The rest of the characters are mainly solid. Anne’s role as the main heroine isn’t very big but she makes the most of her moments. She comes in handy with helping Eddie at a crucial moment in the story. I’m not really sure if the whole dinner idea was a good one because it almost feels like the worst possible way to break the news of taking another step in her relationship but the intent was positive. Anne also talks very tough to the villains so she isn’t really afraid of anything. I’d definitely be up her getting a symbiote at some point so she can fight more.

Meanwhile Dan is still there as the rebound guy and he seems nice enough. He even manages to help out a bit. He doesn’t like Eddie all that much but you can’t blame him since Eddie seems really unhinged whenever the guy is around. From Dan’s point of view Eddie really does not seem like a good influence to anyone. The film doesn’t have much romance in it but I will say that at this point any chance of Anne and Eddie being together should be over. You can’t rebound twice and Dan’s a nice guy even if he’s a total pushover. Seriously you have Anne openly flirting in front of him even if it’s for a plan and the guy half heartedly protests.

I’ll give Dan props for being a good person but everyone’s always dunking on him. Anne even having a lot of fun near the end and remembering the good ole days. I just think the film would be going too far in putting him down if they were to break up so hopefully they stay together. Anne and Eddie can just be good friends who have a solid dynamic. It seems like a foreign concept in most Hollywood films but they can and absolutely should be friends without having to go past that.

Then you’ve got the cop Mulligan who can’t stand Eddie either. He seems to feel like Eddie is responsible for everything but he has no proof of anything so all he can do is antagonize Eddie as much as possible. Thing is, I feel like Mulligan could have played things so much better and then he could have been working well with Eddie. Instead he decides to become his enemy which really doesn’t work very well at all. Makes for a good obstacle I suppose, but more from Eddie’s point of view since I like how he just ticks everyone off.

Then we have the villains. First up is Frances who has the sonic powers. It’s cool to see some traditional super powers here, really makes it feel like a comic book movie. I was glad that when she meets up with Kasady she took the powers in stride. It’s always annoying to see a character suddenly turn on the hero because the powers look scary. Kasady’s no hero but from her point of view he suddenly returned to save her so I was glad that she actually seemed happy and grateful. It feels like the natural reaction here and the two trust each other a lot.

I did find it odd how she seems so ready to use her sonic powers even once she realizes that it actually hurts Kasady’s symbiote though. Maybe it’s just a habit so she doesn’t think about it much? Then you have Kasady who is about as insane as you would expect. He’s one of those guys who was seemingly always twisted. He tries to give a half hearted origin story later on but Venom isn’t really buying his excuses and I can’t say that I am either. Once you become a mass murderer that’s pretty much it.

Carnage is definitely the more interesting villain though. We don’t see quite as much of his personality in the film but whenever he shows himself you know that things are about to get wild. His sheer power is quite up there and all of his stats across the board are impressive. Carnage is also very confident and a symbiote of his word. These are all traits that make him a very solid villain.

Outside of the characters I also liked how the whole intro scene pre title card was handled. First off, the soundtrack really stands out. The logo is colorful and this all feels like something that could have been the intro to an animated film. It quickly sets up the motivation for the main villain as well as gives us some foreshadowing for what is to come. I’m not always on board with starting the film with a non action scene but this one works out well enough.

Even outside the intro scene I would say the film’s soundtrack is very good. There’s even a brief rock theme that plays while Kasady is in the car. The action scenes are also really good. I was even on board with Carnage tearing through the asylum and taking everyone down. Massacre scenes can often go with grit over style which ends up wrecking them or get drawn out too much to where it can get boring since the humans have no chance. This one handles the scenes really well. With the exception of the tongue scene which is more grotesque than stylized, I would give the scene a solid win.

Then of course you have the big Venom vs Carnage battles and those are just as good as you would expect. They really show off the power both fighters have and also how versatile their movesets are. I admit that I would like to see Venom use his tendrils more creatively in combat the way that Carnage does but even in the comics that has always been Carnage’s specialty. Perhaps if Venom finally gets to fight a non symbiote then we’ll see some more of that. Either way, the fights are considerably improved from the first film and I liked those, but these are just better.

Venom’s power is so impressive I’d even say he could beat most of the Avengers right now. If we consider the current Avengers roster to just be Spider-Man, Captain America (Wilson), Ant Man (Scott), Winter Soldier, and Hulk then Venom could actually give them a fairly good fight. Basically Venom could potentially solo but it all depends on how Spider-Man and the Hulk do. Spider-Man’s spider sense should theoretically make him very tough to beat but it depends on if he uses it well which is always tough. For the Hulk he would win if it’s close quarters combat but if Venom could stay at mid range and try stabbing then it’s tough. I feel like I have to give it to the Avengers if it’s the whole team but it’s closer than you might think.

The film’s short length also works out well enough as everything goes by quickly. I always say that a good film can always be longer and a bad film should be shorter so in this case I’d rather it was a full two hours. It’s a very entertaining film so I’d have been on board with a longer time frame. More scenes means more banter and more fun. This part of the universe is just fleshed out so well like even with the shop keeper sort of being like a pal to Eddie. I’m really glad that the end scene to the first Venom film is acknowledged here.

So there’s a lot to like here but of course the film isn’t perfect so it stands to reason that there are some negatives too right? Well, first up, we do have some animal violence. Yeah it’s basically off screen but it’s still unnecessary when we find out that Eddie has Venom eat chickens. See, Venom feeds off of a certain chemical that is only found in sentient brains and chocolate. It makes sense why he always wants to eat people but finding out that he is eating chickens in the meantime is just sad. They should have just had a scene where Venom refuses so Eddie has to buy him more chocolate. A film is always going to lose some brownie points from me for having a scene like this.

Otherwise it’s close to an 8 but I have a few more issues. In terms of plot holes/logic issues I really only have 2 that stood out to me. Everything else seemed fine including the power levels and such. The first thing that didn’t make any sense to me was actually from the opening scene. So the shady group is here to take Frances away because her powers are way too dangerous. So they take her into a car…and don’t do anything to restrain her mouth when she has sonic abilities?

This either means that this group was not told of her sonic powers from the bosses who ordered them to find her or they just thought it would work out. If it’s the first option than how did they expect the group to take Frances down? There are so many ways she could have escaped if not for a lucky gunshot. If it’s the second option than that’s just as bad. If she’s so dangerous that she has to be brought to the worst prison in the world then she’s dangerous enough to overpower a few guards. So the first scene felt like a stretch and it was only there so we could get the bullet wound scene.

The second is more of a spoiler scene so I can’t go into detail but someone gets powers at one point and it doesn’t make sense how it actually happened. The way the scene played out just doesn’t leave any room for this to be possible. I think there has to be a scene that was cut out from the film at some point but how this made it past the editing room is beyond me. This would raise way too many questions if this were possible because I would argue it could and should have happened to more people.

While the film is short and I wouldn’t say it really dragged on much, I didn’t find the solo Venom adventure to be too entertaining. If anything it’s rather grim how he seemingly murders people semi accidentally while on his adventure. Certainly losing more and more hero status right? See, the film’s at its best when Eddie and Venom are together to banter so splitting them up isn’t the right move. In real movie time I’m guessing it wasn’t a very long time but if it had been any longer it may have hurt. I don’t think that’ll happen again since they had their big fight now though so we’re good on that front.

Eddie also lost some points for me when he is constantly suggesting to Venom to eat the chickens that they adopted. Not a very nice move. In terms of violence the film is rather tame as I mentioned. Only the tongue scene is a bit grotesque and the scene with Mulligan’s eye being pushed in seems super painful but it’s a quick moment. Beyond that especially since the symbiotes can keep on regenerating, it’s super stylized as I mentioned earlier. Both characters can really take a lot of punishment and keep on ticking.

Now this is an action/comedy hybrid so both aspects have to be good and this one really was. As a final note, the humor in this film is better than in the first film. I thought that it grabbed what the first film did and then improved upon it quite a bit. The first act alone has a whole lot of humorous moments because the script is really on point. There’s one obligatory scene where Venom has to say the edgy word once because it’s expected at this point but otherwise it’s witty from start to finish.

Also, I really like how Eddie just seems crazy to people on the outside. Seemingly he has to talk out loud for Venom to hear him even though Venom can speak telepathically. So Eddie’s just bantering with him out loud but everyone can only hear his voice so everyone’s always giving him weird looks. This starts almost immediately with Venom arguing with him in the rest room and on the prison grounds and just never stops. Actually, forget that, Venom can probably hear Eddie telepathically since he finishes the guy’s sentences sometimes but probably pretends that he can’t just to make Eddie look foolish. That’s definitely the kind of trick Venom would play on him.

This might be a hot take but you could cut out all of Kasady’s scenes and the film might be even better. Now granted, I would still want the Carnage fights but if he just showed up out of nowhere at the end that’d be fine with me. The Eddie scenes are really where all the fun is at while Kasady’s just insane the whole time. It’s not that the Kasady and Frances scenes are bad or anything either, but the Eddie and Venom scenes are just that much better.

I will say this, it was smart of the film to show Kasady’s backstory in a children’s drawing kind of way because fully showing it probably would have hurt quite a bit considering what is implied with the dog at the end. If this was on screen I’d be a lot harsher since everything he does in that montage is intense but as a children’s drawing it doesn’t hit in the same way.

All right, final thoughts before closing this review out. The final scene after the credits is really solid. It opens up a lot of possibilities and you can interpret how future events will go in a lot of ways. No matter what happens, I do think we absolutely need a Venom 3 though. This series should be a trilogy at the minimum because there is so much more that can be done here. Venom has a lot of iconic villains that you can grab. I wouldn’t mind if they stick to symbiotes but you can also grab other kinds of villains as well.

Overall, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is definitely very good. It really embraces being a comic book movie from the cool 90s type logos to the solid soundtrack and how casual everything is. Venom creating a giant arm just to flick Eddie off in the middle of the street? Nobody notices or cares and that’s the kind of small detail that’s just fun. I’m not going to say the movie’s great as I still had my share of issues with it but the positives absolutely outweigh the negatives. The overall atmosphere of the film is just really good, particularly when it’s the Venom scenes. I like how several characters know about his secret identity but it all feels rather grounded. You feel like Eddie’s a big fish in a small pond and right now he can do just about anything but he always limits himself. Of course crossovers are the best and inevitably when he gets to fight some big names that’ll be fun too but in the meantime if you were to recommend a modern Superhero saga to someone who just wants an origin story with no real connections to anything then this would probably be the top film to recommend. The film also has an incredible amount of replay value. I could watch it a second time shortly and still have fun. That’s probably due in part to the short length but you also have to give the film credit for just being a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d definitely say you should change that.

Overall 7/10

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the latest Marvel installment, Shang Chi. This one’s been getting a lot of hype for the hand to hand fights and it delivers on this. It’s got a great balance of action and humor so in the end this movie has a ton of replay value. You’ll have a blast from start to finish as you go through the journey.

The movie starts by introducing us to Shang Chi’s father Wenwu as he wipes out army after army. The opening scene is like something out of Dynasty Warriors as he can use his rings with such speed that it appears to be a forcefield which blocks incoming arrows. That was definitely implemented really well. After that he ends up meeting Wenwu and they get married. Shang Chi and Xu Xialing are born and we then cut to the present.

Shang Chi and his best friend Katy work for a hotel as they drive cars around and enjoy their job. They have a good bond of friendship going for them but Katy’s family want more for her. One day the two of them are attacked by a group of assassins. Shang Chi fights them off but not before they steal his pendant. This means that Xu may be the next target so the two head off to go and help protect her. Can they protect her from this group led by Shang Chi’s father or is she already doomed?

Right off the bat the opening fight scene in the modern day sets the tone well. It’s really good with minimal use of cutaways so you can follow the choreography. Even as someone who did think that the Black Widow fights were really good, it’s night and day compared to this one. The hand to hand is very high energy and the train fight is probably my favorite fight in the film. Likewise, Widow’s first big action scene was my favorite so I guess I just really like the way these films tend to open. they’re doing it right, that’s for sure.

The battles continue to be solid throughout the movie though. Whether it’s the fight on the roof top or the climactic showdown, you can always expect a lot of hype. While this is usually more of an anime movie trend, the movie even decides to go for a little Godzilla type action at the end. It’s not quite as solid as the rest of the fights but it’s always good to see the creatures getting some hype. I’d consider the battle before that to be the true final battle for the combat while this is more of a general climax.

The effects are definitely on point as well. The creatures have really epic designs and lighting for their attacks. I also like the way the rings are used in combat. It’s very much in the style of what you would see in the Tron films. It’s a very versatile weapon and if Shang Chi keeps those to use in combat for future films he is going to be very tough to beat. Certainly none of the street level fighters can handle him.

As for Shang Chi himself, he’s definitely a great lead. I did see some talk about him being too merciless and going for the kill, but I definitely didn’t see that. For the most part each fight is always from a self defense angle. Yeah you’ve got enemies being thrown out of buildings and moving buses but there’s no easy alternative there since he’s in the middle of a huge fight. So just putting my two cents into the ring to say that Shang Chi was definitely a full hero here and I didn’t find him to be going too far in any of the fights.

He does have a moment where he nearly does cross the line and the film’s clear in showing that he was about to, but ultimately he doesn’t. That would be the only true example you can use. His upbringing and origin do explain this fairly well though and he certainly had to deal with a lot. All in all, I thought he handled his past and present really well. Shang Chi’s the kind of guy you definitely want to have in your corner at all times. The movie also did a great job of showing just how good he is at hand to hand combat. Throughout the whole film it’s fair to say that he didn’t lose any fights straight up from the present and beyond. He always had the upper hand.

In the comics he was known as the greatest hand to hand fighter for a long time. I don’t know about currently, but at least in the days when I was reading comics. I imagine the films will be going that route too so this was a great way to show it. I look forward to seeing him interact with the other characters because he has a lot of good banter with Katy in this movie as well. Shang Chi’s very charismatic and that’s why I would put him as the best character in the film. Ultimately he really excels in all of his roles.

Katy is also a solid heroine. She has a lot of fun lines as well and knows not to take things too seriously. In general the film had a really fun script for all of the characters but in particular Katy is one of the characters that stands out. She even gets to contribute towards the end of the movie in an action setting which is nice.

Shang and Katy also have two friends in the film who only appear for two scenes but both are worth mentioning. It’s nice seeing the characters openly talk about their heroic exploits and everything rather than trying to hide them like you would expect. It’s a nice turn of events and it’s such a big contrast to how Peter Parker is handling the whole situation. Yeah the situations are a wee bit different I’ll grant you, Shang has less people he needs to worry about. Still, it’s a very Iron-Man type move which is always fun.

As for Wenwu, he’s definitely a very solid main villain. The movie’s going for more of a sympathetic vibe for him sort of like Thanos. Ultimately he did try to put his weapons away at one point and suffered the consequences for it so you can see why he never takes the rings off anymore. Honestly he probably never should have taken them off but that’s more of a hindsight thing and he was trying to do his best. So in the present you can definitely root for him because if there was even the slightest chance that he was correct then he had to check for himself.

So I don’t blame him for going as far as he did and that’s what makes him a high quality villain. He can also fight really well which is also nice to see. Old age hasn’t really hurt him in a lot of ways, he’s thousands of years old and still kicking. His wife Ying may only appear in flashbacks but she definitely looks really good as well. I liked her fighting style and the powers she used were quite impressive. It’s a shame that the powers can’t follow you out of the village because with them she would have been extremely hard to defeat. Her meeting/battle with Wenwu was a great way to introduce her.

Then you have Xu who is also solid. She did well to build her own empire for underground fights. I question how she is able to get in some heavyweights like Wong and Abomination but maybe there are a lot of benefits to being in the tournament. As a slight power levels issue, I do think the Abomination looked way too weak here. I’d like to say it’s a different Abomination to be honest. That’s my little head canon in case he never appears again because otherwise that scene did make me shake my head a bit. There are a lot of ways the fight could have had the same outcome but I wanted to tell the film to check it’s route at that moment.

It’s the only scene I questioned in that case though. All of the fights were presented well and everyone got their time to shine. Back to Xu, she definitely proved herself very well in a fight. Her skills may be a touch below Shang’s but they’re still quite formidable. She’s definitely not an opponent you want to underestimate.

In general the film had a fairly stacked cast and that’s definitely a big part of why the film is so solid. Even the side characters are fairly memorable like one of Wenwu’s main subordinates who is missing a hand. He’s definitely a solid minion. There’s also Trevor who does have an effective opening scene but I will say that he’s best in small doses. I don’t think you really needed him in the film after a little while.

All right, now these next 3 paragraphs will quickly be for spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film yet or the recent MCU shows then definitely skip these three paragraphs. It’s going to be time to do a little speculating here. All right, so I’ve noticed a bit of a trend here. In Wandavision we saw Scarlet Witch as the main villain as she knowingly tortured a whole town of civilians and by the end of the show she’s getting sucked into the DarkHold. In the Cap & Winter Soldier show, we found out at the very end that Sharon is actually compromising the U.S. intelligence for money and is a fairly reputable information broker in the under world. Finally in the Loki show we see Sylvie turn to the darkness at the very end and set course for a new timeline. (At best you could say she just made a dubious call and isn’t as downright evil as the first two but it’s a tough case to make) Here, we end the film with Xu taking over the 10 Rings instead of disbanding them for presumably shady reasons.

You can cut Xu some slack but if this trend is anything to go by, she will be a villain soon. So, what is going on here? Are these all isolated incidents or is something going on here? Personally, I think it’s going to be something like the MCU version of the Sinister Six. It’s going to be a group of 6 female villains who band together to take over the world or something. Wanda brings the power, Sharon has the intel, Xu has the manpower, and Sylvie has more magic which is never a bad thing. For the trend to continue, we’ll need to see if some other players are introduced in Eternals, She Hulk, Spider-Man, or Dr. Strange. Still, it does seem like something’s going on.

Also, while Nick Fury was the main figure head for the first few phases as he connected everything, it seems more and more like that will now be the role for Dr. Strange. He’s going to have a role in the Spider-Man film, Wong is here in Shang Chi setting up some future elements, and you’ve also got the Dr. Strange film coming up. Seems like the Sorcerer Supreme is going to have to start earning his paycheck as the ultimate sorcerer with everyone messing around in the universe. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how that unfolds. End spoilers

I can’t close out the review without also mentioning that the soundtrack was really solid. There were a lot of great tunes here and so I thought the music selection was absolutely on point. The scene of the guy stepping out of the car only for us to see that it wasn’t Shang Chi was also a good fake out. Again, the film’s humor was always on point so even when there weren’t big fight scenes you were having a lot of fun.

Overall, Shang Chi definitely lives up to the hype here and is a great film in this phase of the MCU. I really didn’t have any issues with it and I’m certainly ready to see him start appearing in more of the films going forward. Shang Chi could easily work as one of the central figures going forward since I can see him having good banter with just about anyone. There’s still a whole lot you can do with the Ten Rings as well and we’ll see which film is the first to connect to this one. It’s the MCU so you can bet that there are a lot of plans in the works. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you’ll definitely want to change that.

Overall 8/10

The Spirit Review


The Spirit is definitely a very unique movie that’s for sure. It really does walk a fine line between being a total comedy with how over the top everything is and a serious action film. In the end the film actually does blend this combo over very well for nearly all of its screen time but ends up faltering near the end. I knew things were about to get dicey when the cat showed up….

The movie starts with the Spirit being called in since there was a sighting of his arch nemesis, the Octopus. The Octopus manages to murder someone real quick and steal a suitcase first but Sand escapes with the other Suitcase. Octopus crushes the Spirit and now the hero must figure out a way to catch the guy. What is the Octopus doing and how can he be stopped? The Octopus hinted that he knows something about the Spirit’s immortality and Spirit’s old flame Sand is involves so he really has to see this through to the end.

Spirit is definitely a movie that is bonkers and isn’t afraid to really get out there. The first moment I knew something was up was when the Spirit and Octopus have their confrontation mere minutes after the film began. Usually the hero can’t meet the villain that quickly. Then as their fight escalates you can tell that neither one is a normal human because they are taking some really crazy attacks. They seem to murder each other several times during the fight.

Well, Spirit and Octopus both appear to be immortal. Not in an eternal life kind of way but in a “We can’t be killed way”. That actually ties into Octopus’ plans which is to use a serum which will actually give him eternal life. Sand has the vase though so she’s in danger now. It’s quite a lot of plot here and that’s not even accounting for Spirit’s origin story. It’s a fun dynamic though as apparently the hero and villain will often spend a whole night beating each other up only to walk away when it’s all over.

It’s not like they’re pals or anything but they do seem to joke around a bit. They both know that they can’t destroy the other so I can see how the futile nature of their fights would become humorous to them. Octopus definitely seems to have better fighting abilities than the Spirit though. I’d argue he had the edge for the majority of their fight with ease.

Where the Spirit really shines is with the color palette. The movie uses a lot of very interesting visual styles and I would consider it a total hit. This was extremely unique and actually worked out. It’s not one of those gimmicks that you’ll shake your head at but one you will give the thumbs up right away. Not only does it make the Spirit look mysterious but it gives the whole film a pretty epic air. When characters talk to each other the backgrounds will often disappear.

You have characters fading into the light or into the darkness. Even Sand showing up from the water is a very ominous scene. The most every day normal scenes will look different like this and it really does work quite well. It captures that Noir feeling as well. Mix in the Spirit’s numerous monologues and you’ve really got something going here. It helps with the film’s dramatic atmosphere.

As mentioned though, it gets so dramatic that I have to see a lot of these moments as comedic ones. Spirit loves talking about the city and his past. While that is a staple of the Noir genre, you just can’t help but feel like the movie is parodying it. Something about the way the Spirit is having his conversations just gives you that feeling. Then of course for the comedic moments you have most of the Octopus scenes. He’s dressed up as a different culture each tie he appears and the guy is always messing around. He never seems to take anything seriously and murders his henchmen on the regular.

This is definitely some dark humor but the henchmen aren’t smart enough to do anything except what they’re told. So for example one of them even murders himself because the villain told him to do so. It’s certainly tragic to be one of those henchmen that’s for sure. Another gets blended which was a really intense scene to be sure. So the film has its dark moments thrown in as well, mainly as dark humor.

Now, where does the film go wrong? Well, as you can guess with the cat, we get some animal violence as the Octopus shows off his latest conquest to the Spirit. He can melt anything by using the special blood/serum that he wanted although it would simply power the Spirit up so that guy needs to try and grab it. He should have used it on the henchmen instead of on the cat though. That would have been a lot better.

So the film instantly lost a pair of stars for that. Meanwhile the film is trying to make the Spirit a parody of James Bond to an extent. I definitely don’t remember this trait in the comics but he seems to fall in love with every girl out there. Spirit seems to believe that every lady in the city is fair game so he openly has affairs with all of them. Fortunately for him every girl loves him as well so it’s quite easy to make this happen. We do have two main heroines here who both like him as well and he’s not shy about still making moves in front of him.

So the Spirit isn’t exactly the most heroic guy. Even ignoring that, he doesn’t have the best relationship with the cops. He’s always on edge and even threatens to punch out the chief without any good reason. The cops have a point that the Spirit is really running a one man show and the cops who accompany him all get murdered so naturally there would be some bad blood here. It’s hard to get a read on the Spirit. He’s a fun guy to be sure but I definitely wouldn’t call him very heroic. He seems extremely unhinged.

The Octopus is certainly a fun character. He is definitely a villain as seen with the cat but at least the guy has concrete goals. I’m not sure if having eternal life is the automatic win card that he thinks it is, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to live longer since he is already fairly tough to beat. He reminds me a bit of the Joker with how crazy he is the whole time.

His right hand woman Floss also does a good job of keeping him on track. If he starts to go off the deep end then she reminds him of what was going on. To an extent she doesn’t always seem to be thrilled to have him as leader though so he should probably watch his back. That said, I guess by the end she still seems loyal enough.

As for Sand, I wasn’t a fan. In the flashbacks she already seemed quite obsessed with jewels and this didn’t change when she got older. In a way she’s like Catwoman only much more violent as she actively murders a lot of people in order to get what she wants. I was surprised at just how brutal she can be. I figured the movie was going to play her out as more of a misunderstood character but it actually went all the way as a villain.

We’ve also got Ellen who liked the Spirit but still gets jealous when he has other affairs. That’s why I don’t see the relationship ever working out. Either she is okay with being cheated on the whole time or she is going to need to find someone else. The Spirit doesn’t seem like the loyal sort after all.

In fact, there’s a pretty intense scene where the villains use that against him. He can’t resist any girl and one of the villains is a lady so you can picture how that goes. He just goes down like such a chump that you can’t help but laugh. This is the hero who is supposed to protect us? Okay….yeah that’s not going to end very well. The Spirit definitely has his priorities…too bad they aren’t the right ones.

Overall, The Spirit is a very different kind of action film. It’s really all over the place and in a lot of ways this works out. It’s really unpredictable and I loved what they did with the visual directing. The whole thing has a comic book/noir approach that nobody else has really used before. It’s a shame that the Spirit himself wasn’t a little better at being a hero but his inner monologues are a blast. If you can get around the cat melting scene then this is definitely a film you’ll have a lot of fun with. I’d definitely be up for a sequel coming out at some point since there’s a lot of potential here. That said, I think it would be difficult to capture the same energy twice so maybe it’s best to not even try.

Overall 5/10

The Shadow Review


The Shadow isn’t exactly a household name so if you have no idea who this guy is, that’s fine. All you need to know is that he is basically Batman and lives in a city like Gotham. I liked how close this whole movie felt to being an unofficial Batman movie and it made the most of this. The writing is strong and the action is good. It’s just a pretty solid all around title with a lot of replay value.

Lamont started out as a bit of a villain himself. He used his wealth to really become a villainous leader the likes of which his city had never seen. This would likely disrupt the status quo so some ninjas kidnap Lamont and give him a choice. He can become a crime fighting superhero or they’ll murder him. Lamont very reluctantly agrees to these terms after he’s roughed up. Many years later he returns to the city under his new superhero name..The Shadow.

By day Lamont just enjoys his money and keeps a low profile, but by night he terrorized villains. Unlike most heroes he also starts up a network of allies using the people he saves. Effectively they owe their lives to him now so he says he will collect on favors from time to time. He’ll call up one of these guys to ask for intel or even sometimes just for a ride. It’s in your best interests to stays on this guy’s good side so people don’t really complain.

Unfortunately the world is about to be shaken up because Genghis Khan’s descendent Shiwan has returned. Honestly I thought that was Genghis the whole time but apparently he’s a descendent according to Wikipedia. I suppose he may have mentioned that like once in the whole movie but there’s not much difference in how you would imagine their characters to be. Shiwan is creating a bomb so he can take out the pesky humans. He has been trained by the League of Assassins (Close enough at least) just like Lamont so this won’t be an easy fight. It may be time to call in for some backup.

Right from the jump, The Shadow looks like a solid hero. I like how he is always laughing hysterically when he chases the villains. That’s definitely a good way to put the fear into them. After all, when you’re one of the villains then it sounds like you’re being hounded by someone who’s truly insane. It was rather dark and foggy during the opening action scene as well so it’s hard to know what’s going on.

Then you have Lamont’s super powers. First, he can use telepathy to mess with your mind. It’s like the Jedi Mind Trick, if he tells you to believe something then you’re going to believe it. There’s really no discussion or debate here, what the Shadow says goes. Then he can effectively turn invisible. Now this is likely related to the mind tricks as well. He causes you to see what he wants you to see.

He calls it “Clouding their minds” whenever he talks about his abilities. It’s like having nonstop illusions so there’s no way any human can even come close to taking him on. He’s quite impressive and it’s nice to see a superhero who really can hold his own. Back in these days you’d usually expect the hero to take a lot of L’s.

Another reason why the Shadow is good is because he talks a good game. The guy isn’t afraid of anyone and even talks tough to Shiwan. The Shadow just doesn’t back down. He doesn’t have a perfect record here as he does nearly go to a watery grave against someone who wasn’t all that powerful but for the most part he looks rather good here.

Then you have the main heroine Margo. She has telepathic abilities as well which is a solid counter to The Shadow. Unlike his mental clouding abilities where he has to proactively activate it to trick people, she can see directly into other people’s thoughts. It’s a passive ability so effectively it’s always on. For a man with a secret identity that’s a very risky proposition. Margo was a solid heroine though. She does her best to help out and the fact that she has powers allows her to do this a lot easier than a normal person would have been able to.

Shiwan is not very impressive as the main villain though. I was seriously not impressed. We know that he can fight given how much training he has, but surprisingly we don’t really get to see this. I was surprised by that at the very least because usually we would get a big fight in the climax. So he talked tough but I felt like he couldn’t quite live up to it which hurts him as a character tremendously.

The music throughout the film is also great. Get ready for a lot of tunes that sound like something out of the Batman 90’s show. It’s all really authentic and adds to the mystery surrounding the Shadow. Seriously if you just change the name to Batman, I think a lot of people wouldn’t even notice and this could be treated as a What If for Batman. The effects have also aged pretty well. I like how they handled all of the shadow fight scenes. The hand to hand in general is good as always.

Overall, The Shadow was better than I thought it would be. It’s a very solid all around title and does a lot of things in a rather unique way which separates it from the pack. Seeing Lamont constantly laughing the whole time for example was a genius decision. I don’t know if he does that in the comics as well, but it’s a good way to differentiate himself from the other heroes. Additionally, it just seems like it would be really effective. If you haven’t seen this title yet then I definitely recommend changing that. Any comic book movie or action fan won’t want to miss this.

Overall 7/10

Black Widow Review


Black Widow is a film that feels like it’s been in the works for ages. After the Avengers 2012 film there was already talk about a potential solo film. I know a lot of people wanted a whole film about Budapest, others wanted a prequel even further back in the red room. Ultimately we would finally get the solo film now, which takes place after Civil War. It’s a pretty good place to put this film in, I would say the only other area that would have worked would have been the multi-year gap between Infinity War and End Game.

The movie starts off with showing Natasha as a child where she grew up with her parents and younger sister. Their life was pleasant for a while but one day they had to suddenly sneak out and head back to base. Her life was thrown upside down and then she went to work as a Soviet agent until eventually she was able to break away into the Avengers. I would say this was the best way to handle her early childhood.

Personally I would say the film starts off slow. It doesn’t really pick up until we go to the present which is precisely why I never wanted a full prequel film about her childhood. It could be interesting to see her as an assassin and you could pull off a film like Salt but in general I’m always a lot more interested in seeing the present. Yes, this isn’t the exact present but it’s not too long ago. This way you still see scenes of her past without having a 2 hour experience about it which seems like a fair balance.

So the movie truly picks up with Widow on the run from the government after Civil War. Aside from Captain America, the rest of her team was already captured. Widow has had enough of this and intends to vanish forever into another life but suddenly gets thrown back into the fray when she is attacked by the Taskmaster. After suffering a complete defeat, she heads over to her sister Yelena for some answers. Turns out that the Red Room is still in operation so Widow is going to have to confront her old ghosts one more time.

The opening action scene with Taskmaster is definitely solid. Taskmaster gets to show off his good hand to hand skills and copy abilities from the comics and Natasha fights well as always although she is definitely out of her league in this battle and goes down quickly. It’s a good way of getting her back into the fold and effectively forcing her into the action. It also showed how she would still make the heroic call in the end such as when she went for the vials even though she had been looking forward to some down time.

Lets start with the film’s strong points. The action and effects are top notch as always. The hand to hand fights are on point and I like how the objects as used in combat. Taskmaster has his shield while Natasha uses whatever items she has on hand. The different locations all look really good and there are a lot of different environments here to be sure.

The soundtrack is also pretty good. We get some Russian opera styled music here during one of the opening montages and some classic action tunes. While I wouldn’t say any might be a complete standout, they work out well for the scenes that they’re in and help to enhance the moment.

Yelena is a great new addition to the universe. Historically I’ve always liked her a lot more than Natasha as the Black Widow. She tends to be more of an antagonist but I’m nowhere near close to being caught up with her character so maybe she is usually a good guy now. Either way she brings in a lot of the witty lines in the film. While it’s clear that Natasha is more skilled, she is also older than Yelena and got a lot of great experience with the Avengers. Give Yelena some time and she can catch up at some point.

Yelena loves poking fun at the other characters and it works really well for the dynamic here. She was definitely the standout character here. I also liked Natasha’s mother Melina. As a strategist she also has a lot of good plans and is integral when helping the other characters out. That said, she did have a really suspect scene involving a pig as well as the implications that this has. While they play the sympathy card a lot, I can’t see her as anything other than a complete villain.

There’s some good setup to the rest of the universe as well although this is squarely a Black Widow film. The after credits scene is pretty low key for the most part but the final part has a lot of solid implications for fights coming up. Lets just say that the person who is about to be hunted should be in a lot of trouble since I think he’s outmatched here. Maybe he’ll surprise me though. I’m not really feeling the new Nick Fury type character yet since I prefer his mysterious approach to the “fake friend” tactic this one likes to try. Still, should make for an interesting confrontation down the road.

Finally, I’ve always liked the concept of the rogue agent who goes back to their roots. It could be someone who used to be evil or just someone who needs to do an impossible task. It’s the very concept of Mission Impossible, but I’m thinking of more solo operations like Salt, Resident Evil, John Wick, and other titles like that. They can get rather intense but the story itself is always very compelling. The same goes for Black Widow as Natasha has to tap into her old skills which may be rusty at this point.

After all, as a kid even before growing up in the Red Room she was a tough fighter and even more so after completing her missions. As an Avenger she had to learn how to fight as a hero which means no lethal moves and as a result she couldn’t go all out anymore. Hawkeye even gave her a straight fight in the first Avengers film which likely wouldn’t happen in her prime. That said, with how easily she handled Yelena, it’s clear that growing rusty is not a problem in her case.

Black Widow is definitely in the top half of the Marvel Cinematic films. There are enough films now where it’s tough to rank them all but it’s squarely under the top tiers like the Avenger films but above all the Phase 1 titles (Not counting Avengers) and others scattered across the phases. It’s a great film and only the 6th 8 star film I’ve seen in 2021. There’s a lot to like here.

Now for the film’s weak points. I thought it went way too far in making the Red Guardian as useless and comedic as possible. Sure, his personality can be fun and some of his humor moments do land, but couldn’t he have looked good at least once? Strength is his whole thing but he fails in his break out scene, gets humiliated by Taskmaster, and ultimately doesn’t win a single battle. I’m not familiar with him in the comics so maybe he always gets wrecked but it felt a little overdone. He deserved at least one quality moment without the rest of the team constantly dunking on him.

I was also underwhelmed by Taskmaster. I wouldn’t say he was a bad villain, but…he’s just not Taskmaster. We’ve seen Marvel do this with several big villains like Mandarin and Ultron where they just don’t feel like their normal selves and this would have to be put into that category. The first red flag is when he doesn’t talk at all during his opening fight. Seems like a robot with no personality. I can get behind the costume being the weakest Taskmaster design yet since it’s passable but this guy just doesn’t feel like Taskmaster. Where’s the bragging, witty dialogue? I’m used to a fairly talkative Taskmaster.

His role is also a lot smaller than you’d expect so he doesn’t the time needed to look particularly impressive. You have 0 doubt that Captain America, Black Panther, Bucky, and a bunch of other hand to hand fighters would crush this version of him with ease. So he was on the disappointing side, good in a vacuum but I think they just should have called him something else and kept the Taskmaster title open for the future. Who knows, maybe there will be a twist and we’ll get another Taskmaster soon.

Now lets talk about Natasha, I was a little quiet about her in this review so far if you’ve noticed. Retroactively this movie really makes her character look shaky at times and downright bad at others. Now, you know a big part of the plot is that the red room is still around, but Natasha was super sure it was gone. So the film goes into why she thinks this is the case…and it makes her look a bit naïve.

She really didn’t do much inspecting to see if this was really the case. She went to extreme lengths in her quest for vengeance as well. Now you can put some blame on Shield and her partner for believing someone who just turned to their side without having someone else watching the situation but at its core this is Natasha’s issue. Characters make mistakes in their past and this was a long time ago…but it’s a rather huge mistake. The film will explain what I’m talking about here with her plan to destroy the red room but I’m keeping any specifics out for spoilers.

Even more egregious is the fact that afterwards she never actually tried to find Yelena or any of the others. This feels a little convenient since that would have also told her that something was going on. A lot of the film is about Natasha trying to correct her past and trying to be a better person now. It’s what she was talking about with her ledger being red a while back in the early Avenger films so we see exactly what she was talking about. I’ve never been a Black Widow fan and this film doesn’t help matters.

It’s part of why I was glad to see Yelena showing up since she’s always been more fun and this film keeps that up. Still, Natasha does do well in the fight scenes and still proves to be the critical character needed to stop the villains. Without her here there’s no way the others would have been okay. She’s started her first step on the redemption journey by finally thanking the guy who gets her all her equipment and tech. I felt bad for him the whole film so at least it’s a start because that guy deserves a lot of gratitude for always coming through.

That’s it for weaknesses. I mean, the main villain is pretty bad but he’s really a non factor here. The guy is just around since we need a head of the red room but that’s the extent of his room. He can’t fight and can only rely on Purple Man type powers to keep himself in the fight. It’s also another chance to make Black Widow look bad since you’d think she could resist this but I guess the powers of science cannot be defeated.

Costume-wise, I preferred Natasha’s outfit here to the usual Black Widow one. Granted, the old version is a lot more fitting to the title but I do like to have a change of pace once in a while so this was a really good way to flip things. Also, it worked well for the snow scenes. I missed the sky fall gunfight scene from the trailer though. I wonder if it was made only for the trailer or if it got so much bad press about the bullet dodging physics that they just scrapped it. I hope it’s the former because it’s still a great concept for a scene and would have worked really well at the end. Maybe just tweak the scene a bit to show her dodging but then we’re good.

Ultimately my favorite action scene in the film was the opening battle with Taskmaster. Part of why it’s so effective is because of how sudden it is. Taskmaster just appears out of nowhere and starts the fight right away. If not for the fact that he can only focus on his objective, Natasha would have been completely finished off there. The match has a lot of tension and the night time background works well since it feels like there is absolutely no backup. If Natasha were to die here, it would be easy to cover up and even the Avengers may be at a loss.

Widow was also caught off guard so it’s not like she had her gear. You really see how tough a hero is when they just have to fight as they are. You think of moments like Steve being attacked at his home by Winter Soldier, Tony’s house being attacked in Iron Man 3, or Catwoman breaking into Bruce Wayne’s house in Dark Knight Rising. Usually the hero is caught flat footed and gets wrecked but when they’re able to put up a good fight you gain a lot of respect for their survival instincts. I’ll give Natasha credit here, she did put up a good fight even with no prep time despite the combat disadvantage.

The writing is really on point as well. While the Red Guardian may be the comic relief character of the film, I thought Yelena had all the best jokes and funny one liners. The conversation about how Natasha is always posing before and during her fights was fun. Yelena even gives it a shot on her own at one point and the fact that the pose is immediately recognizable does support her point there. Whenever she is around you can expect a lot of fun dialogue. You do get a very genuine feeling from the Guardian in his lines too but I don’t believe his talk about Captain America. He would get folded like an old lawn chair if he tried to defeat Steve. The other characters could have probably cut him some slack since he’s been trapped in jail all this time though.

Overall, Black Widow’s definitely a great film. It’s may have the slowest start to an MCU film but really turns up once we get to the present when she’s trying to evade Ross. That’s when the film gets great and then it keeps up that momentum the rest of the way. The action is on point and as always Marvel has a ton of great backgrounds and environments to fight in. The film may be 2 hours long but it really ends in a flash. You won’t even notice the time and it’s a title you can safely recommend even to people who have not seen the other Marvel titles since her story is fairly stand alone.

Overall 8/10