Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best Batman movies to date. Regardless of the fact it happens to be an animated movie. It’s a brilliant Batman flick, one which captures the caped crusader perfectly and would go on to be smash with critics and fans worldwide. Today, over twenty five years since it’s Christmas ’93 release, Mask of the Phantasm is a classic.

The plot of the film focuses on Batman, naturally, but what seals the deal for this movie as one of the greats is how the narrative focuses just as much on Bruce Wayne. Batman comes under fire from Gotham officials after a series of mobsters are murdered. He sets out to clear his name and solve the identity of the killer. During his investigation the plot uses flashbacks to paint a picture of Bruce’s early years and his first battles with crime.

These interludes prove key to the main narrative and work as a well written and overall well done origin story for Bruce/Batman. Batman, as we know, is a detective first and arse kicker later and he gets to put his detective brian to use. I appreciated that.

Directors Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski clearly know and adore everything about Batman and his comic book roots. If anyone needed further evidence they need only watch Timm and Radomski’s fantastic Batman: The Animated Series. Mask of the Phantasm is linked to the show with the origin of Batman and other plots carrying over. Yet the movie can be seen as a stand alone without having ever seen an episode of the series.

All of the talented animators, much like in the series, deliver outstanding work. This is one beautiful looking movie. Excellent animation and tremendous art direction. Gotham and it’s inhabitants look and feel like they are in the midst of a 1940’s film noir. What we get here is my favourite representation of Batman and his world, yes, to date. I think, this is a tall order, but any movie (live action) that could come close to matching the tone and quality of the work on display here would be a accomplishment. The music in Mask of the Phantasm is really well done. The score is excellent and compliments the film perfectly.

The film features a host of excellent voice talent. Kevin Conroy as Batman is very good and it’s little wonder he’s played the role the longest than any actor out there. Mark Hamill as The Joker would go on to gain as much fame as he did from Star Wars due to his excellent work as the king of crime. Dana Delany, as one of Bruce’s lost loves, also puts in great work.

There aren’t enough great things I can say about this movie. The plot is great, the writing is excellent, direction is confident and the action is a match for anything you’d see in any other big screen Batman movie. Mask of the Phantasm is a must own for any Batman fan and fans of animation in general. They sure don’t make them like this any more and that’s a shame.

 

We knew it was only a matter of time. This week we got exclusive Vanity Fair character portraits and yesterday Spider-Man himself unveiled the first teaser poster for Infinity War. Now we have the trailer.

The long promised, yet little seen, Thanos has finally arrived on Earth and it is going to take the planet’s mightiest heroes to defeat him. The stakes have never been higher, nor the excitement from comic/MCU fans. The footage on display paints a clear picture of what Infinity War is going to be about and what we glimpse is fantastic.

Best parts of the trailer? Well how can one not be excited at the idea of the Guardians and Thor teaming up? I love the look of Spider-Man’s new suit and basically any shots of people running towards one another to do battle. Which we get. Will anyone die? Eh, maybe? Thing is, with these sort of films it doesn’t really matter because in case you didn’t know death means not a whole lot in comic books. Someone can always come back from the dead. Just ask Jean Grey. It doesn’t bother me so much either. The film being good is what is most important and of that I have little doubt.

Avengers: Infinity War is directed by Captain America: Civil War duo the Russo brothers and stars (almost) everyone who has been in an MCU movie to date. Look for it in cinemas May 2018.

The Punisher (No spoilers)

Posted: November 27, 2017 in Comics, TV
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The last time viewers saw Frank Castle AKA The Punisher he was on the run and presumed dead. Introduced into the MCU during the second season of Daredevil, Frank’s tale was one of tragedy and brutality. An ex-soldier who found himself caught up in a government conspiracy, Frank would see his family brutally murdered, himself narrowly escaping assassination by those he trusted. Now, starring in his own show, Frank sets out to make those responsible for the murder of his family and the deadly conspiracy pay with their lives. Along the way making certain those responsible don’t simply die but die hard.

Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Wolf of Wall Street) is outstanding as Frank Castle/The Punisher. Soon as he came on screen in Daredevil fans knew it was only a matter of time before he would get a solo series. It pleases me to say The Punisher is not just good, no, it’s one of the best MCU titles to date. Up there, for me, with Daredevil season one.

The action in The Punisher is brutal. Frank (and those who he fights against) are stone cold killers and this is reflected in the violence shown on screen. The show is not for the faint of heart. The overall plot is good, it’s to the point – The Punisher wants revenge – but the sub plots that fill in the rest of the show are not just interesting they are (sadly) very topical in todays climate in relation to gun control and home grown terror. These aspects are handled with care and don’t paint a simple black and white picture. The writing is excellent and therefore the show feels like it has somthing to say.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls) as David Lieberman ties in directly with Frank as a man whose family could go the way of Frank’s. He and Frank have great chemistry. The two working together to bring about justice and not always agreeing. Each wanting the same outcome but by, at times, different means. Ben Barnes is an acting revelation as Frank’s old army pal Billy Russo. Russo came out of the army, like Frank, but followed a different path. Barnes does wonderful work in the role and creates a complex character that serves the plot in a important way. There’s strong support too from Amber Rose Revah as Homeland Agent Madani and Jaime Ray Newman as Lieberman’s estranged wife.

Drawbacks? Little stuff really. The look of the show is not removed from the other Netflix MCU titles. I get it. A consistant visual theme makes sense and The Punisher does go a ways to get more down and gritty but beyond the violence it feels like the other shows for better or worse, I guess depending on your opinion of Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. The subplot involving Lieberman’s family felt like it got more attention than was warranted. As the show goes on that reasoning becomes clear though, yet I was getting a bit bored with that stuff. Stick with it though if you feel the same.

The Punisher is a fantastically brutal show and tone wise it’s easily the most mature show Marvel has put out. If you didn’t see Daredevil season two then don’t worry because The Punisher provides all of the info you need within it’s first few episodes. You will not feel like you have missed any major plot points and can enjoy the series. I really enjoyed it and I hope we get a second (and third!) season.

The Punisher is now available on Netflix.

 

Hey guys. Radio silence. I know. It has been a busy past week in reality, away from Hella Movies! What better way to return than with the hysterical first trailer for Deadpool 2! This came out last week but as I said I’m just getting around to it now.

This trailer is beyond funny. Would you expect anything less from Deadpool though? I appreciate the brief glimpse of footage from the actual movie. In which we get to see a host of familiar and new faces from the sequel.

Hopefully the change in director won’t effect the sequel and we have another great film on our hands. Deadpool 2 is directed by David Leitch, who directed John Wick and Atomic Blonde. So at least we know the film will deliver on the action. With the same writers and (most of) the same cast coming back I’m confident Deadpool 2 will deliver. We’ll find out next summer.

 

This is a great trailer. We get our first real look at Wakanda. This nation is the home of Black Panther and it is beyond cool. Wakanda is basically an advanced civilization hidden within Africa. Think Atlantis or El Dorado, had either been real and continued to blossom through the centuries.

There is a ton of new footage here that shows off the characters and gives a clear look at the plot of the film. Oh and those action scenes look boss. Black Panther running down cars on highways is always a welcome sight. You also get to see more variations of his suit and what it can do, how it works and all that. Very cool.

This movie is shaping up to be, what I hope, is a unique and fantastic addition to the MCU. It has an ace director in the form of Creed’s Ryan Coogler and one knock out cast led by Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.

Black Panther stars Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Andy Serkis amongst many other super talented people. This cast is stacked.

It hits cinemas February 16th 2018. That’s sooner than you think. Get excited.

New Mutants teaser trailer!

Posted: October 13, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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I have to give credit to FOX. They now seem to understand what it is they have access to in regards to the X-Men. Last year we got Deadpool and Logan. Two spin-off’s set inside the X-Men movie universe and each of them was gloriously it’s own beast. Rated R and violent as hell. Next out of the gate is The New Mutants and, like Deadpool and Logan, this looks to be another unique take on mutation.

The film is directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in our Stars) and is a horror/sci-fi movie. Comic fans will know the title because it is one of a long list of comic books set in the same universe as the X-Men.

Boone has said he wants the film to feel like a horror movie and not a traditional superhero flick. Well sir, I say, mission accomplished! This looks boldly brilliant. I don’t know if the film is rated R or not but going off that teaser trailer this looks like a straight up slasher movie with a science fiction edge.

The New Mutants follows several young mutants who find themselves trapped inside an experimental facility. Chances are they are not at that place voluntarily. Will they get out alive? We’ll find out April 13th 2018!

 

Wolverine and the X-Men Vol 1

Posted: August 30, 2017 in Comics
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Back in 2011 Marvel launched a brand new X-Men series titled Wolverine and the X-Men. I was lucky and got ahold of the first trade that contains the first seven issues of the series and I wanted to say on here that it’s a collection no X-Men fan should be without. What a funny, creative and all round great run.

One of the best parts of Wolverine and the X-Men is how the school aspect of the X-Men is front and centre after Wolverine finds himself the headmaster of the new Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. From mutant centric classes, to students trying to get away with all sorts of mayhem. The book is really funny, without becoming an all out comedy and manages to pack in plenty of action, adventure and heart the best X-Men comics are known for. You get a great arrary of X-Men hits on the foe side of the equation featuring encounters with The Hellfire Club, The Brood and a detour to outer space all in the first several issues with nothing feeling either rused nor forced.

The trade I own is written by Jason Aaron with art from Chris Bachalo, the duo’s style working together perfectly. Each page and in turn the comic as a whole just screams fun. From the main action on the page to loads of tiny details you may just happen to notice as you go to turn a page. Wolverine and the X-Men is written well, has realy good dialogue, a fun story and great art. I can not get over how good this first trade is and if the rest of the series holds up as well I think this could become one of my all time favourite runs.

Roster wise you get a good mix of X-Men mainstays – Logan, Kitty Pride, Beast, Iceman, Husk and Rachel Grey – who act as the main faculty (wait until you see who the janitor is!) and several established students to follow. Lesser known characters such as Broo, a peaceful member of the Brood species and Kid Gladiator of the Shi-ar Empire make for memorable debuts alongside more familair faces such as Hellion, Anole and Quentin Quire, the later getting a fair amount of great character development that I appreciated. Also of note is Warbird, Kid Gladiators bodyguard, who while not as prominent in these first few issues, manages to make an impression still. All of the characters seem right at home uner Jason Aaron’s writing.

Wolverine and the X-Men Vol 1 is a must read for X-Men fans.

 

 

Death Note (No spoilers)

Posted: August 28, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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I watched Death Note (the original anime) a few years ago and often felt excited, scared, frustrated and by the end satisfied. To call it complex would not be doing it justice. It is without doubt one of the best examples of the genre. Cut to right now and we have an American adaptaion of the Japanese source matrial via Netflix and director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest, Blair Witch). For the most part you are left with a good if not great movie. Does that sound less than priasing? Well it’s not supposed to be. In fact it’s meant to be the opposite because Death Note, for all it’s depth and complex arguments, is not an easy anime/manga to adapt into a one hour and forty mintue movie and the fact Wingard was able to deliver a solid introduction to this world at all is a proud achievement.

Death Note asks what would YOU do if a god of death’s note book fell into your hands? All it would take would be for you to write a persons name in said book and picture their face for said person to die in whichever way you see fit? That’s the gist of the story. Our protagonist is high school student Light (Nat Wolff) who finds himself in said situation. He along with fellow student Mia (Margaret Qualley) decide to use the notebook to eradicate any who they deem evil from the world. As the bodycount rises the two teens draw the attention of the worlds greatest detective L (an excellent Lakeith Stanfield) who makes it his sole mission to bring down Light. Faced with bringing about a new world order via the power of the notebook while the authorities close in forces Light and Mia to make some questionable decision for (in their opinion) the greater good.

The issue with the anime and sadly with the film is that Light and Mia are flat out unlikable. You don’t root for either of them, Mia espechially comes across as quite ready to go all out and kill without much investigation as to why in this American adaptation. Light on the other hand at least has a reason but whereas in the anime he was given room to show depth and grow (for better or worse) in the movie he comes across as impulsive and more unlikeable. Not the actors fault, just how the characters are written. Thankfully L is awesome and Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) is great in the role. The always reliable Willem Dafoe and Shea Whigham put in very good turns as death god Ryuk and Light’s father respectively.

Taken as simply a horror movie Death Note is a good picture with some interesting ideas, points of coversation (moral talking points for sure ) and some truly grissly demises. Credit also to Wingard for putting on film one of the best foot chases I’ve seen on film in quite some time, packed in with an overall great musical score that gives the film it’s own indentity and works real well. The film works on it’s own sure but if you find yourself really interested in the world and wanting more then as is usually the case with these things you can’t beat the original. My advice would be to check out the anime and original manga and then catch Netflix’s Death Note, just to see how they went about adapting something massive and compex because you may just surprise yourself and end up thinking the filmmakers did good.

Death Note is available now on Netflix (UK)

 

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It’s been a long time coming for comic book fans but we now – finally – have Cable on his way to big screen. This past few weeks has been great for X-Men fans, with shooting kicking off on New Mutants, X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Deadpool 2. Following on the heels of the Domino reveal several days ago we now have a first look at Josh Brolin as Cable. Cable is the time traveling mutant, who got his big breakout during the early 90’s X-Men and X-Force comics and would go on to gain a massive fan following.

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He looks great.

Deadpool 2 will hit screens next summer.

Comics: X-Men ’92: Warzones

Posted: August 4, 2017 in Comics
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Warzones

It was the 90’s when I first fell in love with the X-Men. Thanks in some part to the excellent animated series, which X-Men ’92 is a total love letter to. Written by Chad Bowers and Chris Smith the series features an all star cast – Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee and Storm (Note there are some very cool surprises that I don’t want to ruin but there are more X-Men beyond those listed here) and a art style by Scott Koblish that pays homage to the 90’s mutants. Yet it is the writing that adds more to the story of Warzones than it simply being a tie-in to whatever universe ending event Marvel has cooked up (I believe this was linked to Secret Wars) or a simple homage to a beygone era. Make no mistake X-Men ’92: Warzones is a full on X-tale in it’s own right and it is one hell of a ride. So much so was the success of the title that Marvel allowed it to continue beyond the Warzones event and it would prove a hit with both critics and fans.

Scott Koblish’s art is boss. From the big splash action set pieces, to the smaller exchanges between characters – Wolverine throwing Cyclops some shade, how Gambit constantly pines for Rogue while trying to remain cool – Koblish nails it all and the book is the stronger for having him on board.

The 90’s love is front and centre in X-Men ’92, from the bright bombastic colours and costumes, to the BIG guns and unashamed action that our favourite mutants find themselves caught up in. Any of you out there who happen to be a fan of early 90’s X-Men, or X-Force or any and all X-Men of that era will just devour this book. One of the coolest parts is the team just hanging out a shopping mall, just like in the original cartoon series, that comes under attack but not before the group goes all in on a game of lazer tag! It’s so funny. Cyclops, of course, taking the game FAR too seriously while Jubilee is in her total element. As the plot develops we get into more weighty material with an instituion, seemingly simillar to that of Xaviers, that is set on dangerous mutant rehabilitation and it falls to the X-Men to investigate. It goes without saying that not everything is as it seems.

Villain wise we get a extremely cool and unexpected main baddie. Yet there are plenty of nods to other much loved villains X-Men fans from any era will know and love and not to mention one that serves as a great set up for the future ongoing series that would kick off after this Warzones event. Sadly I ain’t gotten around to buying the next parts of X-Men ’92 but you can be sure they’re on my ‘Wish List’.

Seriously as a X-Men fan I can say this is the most fun I’ve had with the mutants since well…the 90’s. Check out X-Men ’92: Warzones. It’s not too expensive and it’s well worth adding to any Marvel comic collection.