action, animation, comic book, crime, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 8th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Under The Red Hood

batman under the red hood

The 80’s was an interesting time in the Batman universe. Dick Grayson, the original Robin, had grown up and began leading the Teen Titans, eventually changing costumes and becoming Nightwing. Eventually, Batman would find himself a new sidekick, Jason Todd. However, while Dick Grayson was loved by just about everyone, a lot of people didn’t think too fondly of him. In fact, DC gave their fans the opportunity to decide on if he lived or died and though it was close, the fans voted for him to be killed off. This death would have a rather profound effect on Batman for years to come, almost as big an impact as the death of his parents. However, there is one constant when it comes to death in the comics; and that is that Uncle Ben is the only person that can stay dead. Thus, Jason Todd would eventually come back to life in the comics in 2004 and 6 years later, an animated movie was made based off of that story line. I first saw this movie on Netflix several years ago and I immediately decided to grab a copy on DVD so I could enjoy watching Batman: Under The Red Hood whenever I wanted.

The plot: In his hideout, Ra’s al Ghul says he regrets hiring the Joker to distract Batman when he learns that Joker has kidnapped Robin (Jason Todd) and Batman won’t reach him in time. In Sarajevo, Joker has Robin tied up and beats him mercilessly with a crowbar before leaving him to die in an explosion. Batman races through the streets of Sarajevo towards Robin’s location but is too late as he gets there just as the building explodes. 5 years later, 8 crime bosses are gathered for a meeting and as they argue over who set it up, they are confronted by a man wearing a red hooded helmet. The Red Hood, tells them that they will start kicking up 40% of their profits to him in exchange for protection from both Black Mask (the reigning main crime boss in Gotham) and Batman but warns them not to deal any drugs around schoolyards or to kids. When they ask why they should do that, he drops down a duffel bag containing the heads of their lieutenants, claiming to have done that in two hours, then leaves. Elsewhere, Batman is stopping some men from stealing some cargo but as he restrains them, the cargo activates, revealing itself to be Amazo, the super powered android that can copy the powers of other meta-humans. As Batman faces off against him, he is joined by Nightwing and together they are able to destroy Amazo. Afterwards, they go to question the crooks who say they work for the Red Hood but before they can say anything else, they are killed by the Red Hood. Batman chases after him, eventually tracking him to a factory where he confronted a previous criminal called the Red Hood and he had fallen into a vat of chemicals, transforming him into the Joker. As Batman stares at the chemicals, the Red Hood comments about this being the site of his greatest failure but it wasn’t his last, then he shoots at his crashed car, which ignites the chemicals and causes an explosion, covering his escape. Back at the Batcave, Nightwing was able to get a picture of the Red Hood and they comment about the previous criminals who used that name, then Batman decides to head to Arkham Asylum to question Joker. When they get there, Joker taunts both of them and says Nightwing is no more fun since he grew up and stopped being Robin, then taunts Batman some more over Jason’s death. Batman loses his temper and grabs Joker by the throat and he asks if he is really going to kill him this time or just put him in a body cast again and Batman drops him and they eventually leave. Meanwhile, Black Mask is yelling at his men for allowing Amazo to be stolen by the Red Hood and then destroyed by Batman. He then discusses their next arms shipment, unaware that Batman and Nightwing are listening in, as well as Red Hood. That night, Red Hood attempts to steal the helicopter with the next shipment of weapons when Batman and Nightwing show up to stop him. When they disable the helicopter, Red Hood maneuvers it to crash over the city, forcing Batman and Nightwing to stop it from hurting the people below, then they chase after him. Red Hood manages to elude them, even severing Batman’s grapple when he tries to ensnare him, and as they follow him to the train station, he uses a bomb to slow them down, injuring Nightwing in the process. As Batman and Nightwing recover from the blast, the Red Hood makes a comment to Batman but it is drowned out by sound of an oncoming train. Returning to the Batcave, Alfred tends to Nightwing’s injuries while Batman replays video he recorded of their encounter with the Red Hood. After sending Nightwing home to recover, Batman replays the audio and after removing the noise from the train, hears Red Hood call him Bruce, revealing he knows his identity. Shocked, Batman thinks back to Jason’s training as Robin and how he became more violent when he got older and he realizes that the Red Hood might be Jason somehow. Meanwhile, Black Mask is angered over another arms shipment destroyed and he orders his men to shake down the crime bosses working for Red Hood in order to force him out of hiding so he can have him killed. His men succeed and when Red Hood confronts Black Mask’s men, he is attacked by 4 cybernetic ninjas. He fends them off for a while until Batman shows up and helps him defeat them. When Red Hood kills one of the ninjas, Batman argues with him about his methods but Red Hood says he is doing a better job cleaning up the city than he ever did before leaving. Batman takes the sword one of the ninjas had cut Red Hood with and takes it back to the Batcave to analyze the blood, which confirms that Red Hood is Jason and as he stares at the screen, he hears a noise and turns to find a shocked Alfred had dropped the tray he was carrying when he saw the results on the screen. Meanwhile, after hearing of the latest failure to kill Red Hood, Black Mask is forced to break Joker out of Arkham and works out a deal with him to deal with Red Hood. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce digs up Jason’s grave and discovers the body in his coffin is a fake. Chastising himself for being careless and not checking the body when he brought it back, Batman head out to confront Ra’s al Ghul, knowing he was involved in Jason’s return. When he gets to Ra’s’s home, he confronts him and Ra’s admits that when he hired the Joker to distract Batman while he tried to topple Europe’s financial markets, he underestimated Joker’s madness and never intended for Robin to be killed. He figured Bruce would be too grief stricken to perform an autopsy and was able to replace the body with a fake. He intended to use the Lazarus Pit to restore Jason to life and send him back to Bruce but something went wrong and Jason returned deranged and had escaped his lair. Batman leaves Ra’s’s lair and as he is flying back to Gotham, Alfred alerts him to a situation on the bridge. Joker has the crime bosses that work for Red Hood, as well as Black Mask and his assistant, tied up in a truck and is pouring gasoline on them. As he goes to set them on fire, Red Hood shows up and reveals that he had antagonized Black Mask in the hopes he would break Joker out of Arkham, as he wanted to confront him face to face. Annoyed that the joke was on him, Joker goes ahead and lights the gasoline but Batman appears and douses the flames, then goes to capture the Joker but Red Hood grabs him and severs the cable, sending them both into the water below. As Batman searches for them, he receives a message from the Red Hood saying to meet him in Crime Alley. Red Hood takes Joker to am abandoned building and begins to pummel him with a crowbar, much like Joker did to him before he killed him. When Batman arrives in Crime Alley, he thinks back to his first encounter with Jason, where a young Jason had stolen the tires off of the Batmobile. Red Hood appears and the two begin fighting, with Jason eventually taking off the hood and revealing he is wearing Robin’s mask underneath. The two continue to fight until the reach the house, where Jason says that he forgives Bruce for not saving him but wants to know why he didn’t kill Joker afterwards. Joker, realizing who the Red Hood is, starts laughing and tells Batman that Robin has a point and as Jason and Batman argue over the matter until Jason throws a gun at Batman, telling him that the only way to stop him from killing Joker is to kill him. Batman drops the gun and walks away, and Jason fires at him but Batman dodges the bullet, then throws a Batarang at Jason’s gun, blocking the barrel and causing a misfire when he tries shooting again. Wounded, Jason activates some explosives he planted and Batman goes to disarm them but Joker stops him, wanting them all to blow up together. Batman knocks Joker out, the grabs Jason to try and save them as the bombs go off. When the dust settles, Batman finds Joker trapped underneath some rubble but there is no sign of Jason anywhere. As the news reports talk about the aftermath of the events, Alfred asks if he should remove Jason’s costume from where it is kept but Bruce says no, that the current situation doesn’t change anything. As he leaves to go on patrol, a flashback is shown of Batman and Alfred watching as Jason dons the Robin costume for the first time and how excited he was wearing it.

This was a great movie to watch and probably one of my favorite Batman movies out there. The voice acting was really good, with Bruce Greenwood doing a good job as Batman while Jensen Ackles was great as Red Hood. I also liked John DiMaggio, Jason Isaacs, and Neil Patrick Harris as Joker, Ra’s al Ghul, and Nightwing respectively. The story was good and did a good job of briefly recapping what happened in the past that set up the present events. I liked the brief inclusion of Nightwing in the movie to kind of showcase the differences between Dick and Jason, primarily in their character as they got older. I also liked the way they had the Joker portrayed, as they didn’t make him overly crazed but he simply had that mad unpredictability that made him really interesting. The animation was pretty good and the action scenes were well drawn while not taking away from any of the drama that was written into the scenes. Definitely not for little kids but a very well made movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 7th, 2017 Movie – Star Trek (2009)

star trek 2009

So let me go ahead and put this out there. I am not a Trekkie, but have seen a fair amount of the Star Trek movies and the original series and Next Generation TV episodes but not so much any of the newer shows. Even though I am enjoy sci-fi shows and movies, I was honestly a little indifferent when I heard they were going to reboot the film franchise. However, several of my friends went to see it and said it was really good but I never got around to seeing it in the theaters. I finally got a chance to watch it at a friends house when they rented it after it came out on DVD and had to agree, it was really good. So I decided to buy my own copy of it, making Star Trek (2009) the only movie in the franchise that I own.

The plot:In the 23rd Century, the U.S.S. Kelvin is sent to investigate a strange gravitational anomaly, which they describe as “a lightning storm in space.” Suddenly, a huge Romulan ship exits from the anomaly and begins firing on them, severely damaging the Kelvin, before the vessel contacts the Kelvin and demands that the captain come aboard to discuss a cease-fire. Captain Robau makes his first officer, George Kirk, acting Captain, then boards a shuttle and heads over to Romulan vessel, commanded by Commander Nero. Nero’s first mate Ayel, begins questioning Robau about another ship, then asks about Ambassador Spock, but Robau says he is unfamiliar with either the ship or Spock. When Ayel asks him the current star date, Robau’s answer enrages Nero and he kills Robau, then renews the attack on the Kelvin. George orders the ship to be evacuated, ensuring that his pregnant wife Winona makes it to a shuttle but George is unable to join them as the auto pilot has been damaged and he must stay behind to pilot the Kelvin. George uses the ship’s weapons to destroy the enemy missiles that are fired at the shuttles, then pilots the Kelvin on a collision course for the Romulan vessel. As he heads towards the ship, he hears his newborn son’s cries through the communicator and discusses the name with Winona before he impacts with the ship. Years later, James Tiberius Kirk is a reckless teenager, having stolen his step-father’s antique convertible when he was a kid and driven it off a cliff while being pursued by the police. Meanwhile, on planet Vulcan, a young Spock is constantly tormented by his peers for being half human while growing up and chooses to go to Earth to join Star Fleet as opposed to joining the Vulcan Science Academy, a move which shocks the Vulcan ministers. On Earth, Kirk starts flirting with Starfleet Cadet Uhura when he ends up being in a bar fight with some of her fellow cadets before it is broken up by Captain Pike. After sending the cadets outside, Pike speaks with Kirk, questioning why someone with his aptitude didn’t join Starfleet, commenting about how in the brief time his father was captain, he had saved over 800 lives including Kirk’s, and dares him to do better. Kirk decides to join Starfleet and on the shuttle to the Academy, befriends Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Three years later, the Romulan ship is still in space when another anomaly appears and they capture the ship they were searching for. At the Academy, Kirk is about to have sex with another cadet but is forced to hide when her roommate Uhura walks in, commenting about picking up a long range transmission from a Klingon prison planet being attacked before she discovers Kirk and kicks him out of the room. The next day, Kirk takes the Kobayashi Maru simulation, a scenario that has never been beaten, and somehow manages to beat it. Kirk is brought up on for a disciplinary hearing and ends up butting heads with Commander Spock, who had designed the simulation to be unwinnable in order to test the cadets on their decision making abilities in such a situation. Before the hearing concludes, the council receives an emergency transmission from Vulcan and since the main fleet is occupied elsewhere, they are forced to send the cadets off to help. Kirk is placed on academic suspension so is not assigned to a ship but Bones, feeling sorry for his friends, injects Kirk with a vaccine in order to give him the symptoms of the disease, then brings him aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise as his patient so he can continue treatment. As the fleet heads off to Vulcan, the Enterpise is slow to start due to it new helmsman, Sulu, but eventually heads off after the fleet. During the journey, Ensign Chekov gives a ship wide message explaining the situation and Kirk realizes that the ship is heading into a trap. Kirk locates Uhura and has her follow him and  Bones to the bridge, where he tells Pike his theory, with Uhura backing him up. When they come out of warp, they find the fleet has been destroyed and are attacked by the Romulan ship. Before they are destroyed, Nero recognizes the ship and contacts the Enterprise, speaking to Spock briefly before demanding that Pike come aboard to discuss a surrender. As they are unable to communicate or use the transporters due to the Romulan’s drill attacking the planet, Pike has Kirk, Sulu, and Olsen go with him in the shuttle, making Kirk First Officer while having Spock take over as acting Captain. During the shuttle flight, Pike has Kirk and the others do a space jump onto the drill to destroy it but Olson pulls his shoot too late and is killed. Kirk and Sulu land on the drill and engage two guard before Sulu kills them, then he and Kirk use the guards rifles to disable the drill. On the Romulan ship, Nero is informed of the drill’s sabotage but that they had reached the planet’s core so he orders the red matter used on the planet, which causes a singularity to develop and destroy the planet. Kirk and Sulu are beamed back onto the Enterprise and Spock heads down to the planet’s surface to evacuate the Vulcan high council, including his parents, but as they are about to beam aboard, the ground collapses underneath her and she falls to her death. Nero leaves Vulcan and heads towards Earth, explaining to Pike that he comes from a future where Romulus was destroyed and Spock and the Federation did nothing to help, the begins torturing Pike in order to get the security codes for the Starfleet defenses around Earth. Back on the Enterprise, Spock and Kirk argue about their next move and Spock ends up using the Vulcan Nerve Pinch to render Kirk unconscious and has him ejected off the ship onto the planet Delta Vega. Regaining consciousness, Kirk exits the pod and ends up being chased into a cave by a monstrous creature when he is saved by an older version of Spock. Spock explains that he comes from 129 years in the future and had attempted to stop a supernova that threatened to destroy Romulus but before he could do so, the supernova destroyed Romulus. Spock used the red matter to destroy the supernova to keep it from destroying other planets but he was attacked/confronted by Nero and his ship and they both ended up going through the black hole. Due to the size of Nero’s ship, Nero emerged first in the past and waited 25 years for Spock to arrive, though it was only seconds for Spock. Nero captured Spock, then maroons him on Delta Vega so that he can watch the destruction of Vulcan and feel helpless to stop it. Spock leads Kirk to a Starfleet outpost, where they find Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in command there and Spock, knowing Scotty’s history, is able to show Scotty the formula to transport onto a ship moving at warp speed, then tells Kirk the only hope Earth has is if he is captain of the Enterprise before beaming Kirk and Scotty on board. After appearing in the engine room, Kirk and Scotty are captured by security and taken to the bridge, where Spock questions them on how they got on board. Kirk starts taunting Spock and eventually causes him to become enraged and start attacking Kirk and choke him before Spock’s father tells him to stop and Spock, realizing he is emotionally compromised, relinquinshes command, making Kirk now the captain. Kirk heads towards Earth to stop Nero and they come up with a plan to hide behind Titan and have Scotty beam them aboard the ship so long as the drill isn’t activated. Spock, after speaking with his father, returns to the bridge and says he will go and Kirk decides to go with him. The two beam aboard the Romulan ship, and almost immediately confronted by the ship’s crew. Kirk stuns one of their attackers so Spock can mind meld with him and learn where Pike and the red matter is. They find the future Spock’s ship and Spock is surprised to learn it recognizes him and accuses Kirk of keeping information from him but Kirk tells him to fly the ship and get out of there while he gets Pike. As Nero orders the drill activated, Kirk tries to get them to stop but is attacked by Nero. Spock flies the red matter ship out of Nero’s ship and destroys the drill, enraging Nero, who lets Kirk go as he orders his men to destroy Spock’s ship. Spock warps away from Earth and Nero follows only to find that Spock has turned the ship around and is on a collision course with his ship. Nero orders all of his weapons to fire but the Enterprise arrives and destroys the torpedoes. Kirk manages to rescue Pike and orders Scotty to beam them all back to the Enterprise, including Spock just as the ship impacts with Nero’s ship and triggers the red matter. Kirk and Spock return to the bridge and Kirk offers Nero assistance with escaping the singularity but Nero refuses so Kirk orders Sulu to fire all weapons and they destroy the ship as it falls into the singularity. The enterprise tries to escape the singularity’s gravitational pull but starts to get pulled in until Scotty ejects the warp core and detonates it, using the explosion to push them to safety. Back on Earth, Spock meets up with his future self and the future Spock tells him to stay with Starfleet while he works with the Vulcan High Council to find a new planet for their species to call home. Kirk is honored for his actions and given command of the Enterprise and Spock offers to join as first officer, which Kirk happily accepts as the ship begins it’s new mission.

Star Trek (2009) met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.” Director J.J. Abrams and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman all went to personally ask Leonard Nimoy to reprise his role of Spock, as he had turned down previous offers to return to the character, but he liked how the script went into the history of Spock’s character and agreed to be in the movie. The movie was a success at the box office, earning $385.7 million off of a $150 million budget and spawned two sequels.

Whether you are a fan of Star Trek or not, this was a fantastic movie to watch. The acting was great, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto doing a great job putting their own take on the iconic characters of Kirk and Spock. I also liked Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Karl Urban (Bones), John Cho (Sulu) and Eric Bana (Nero) in their roles and thought Simon Pegg was hilarious as Scotty. The story was really interesting, with it basically being a prequel to the Star Trek series but the twist of Spock and Nero coming to the past from future causing events to play out differently helped make it so that you don’t have to know everything that happened in the original series and movies as this is all new. As far as the updated look to the Enterprise, I thought they did a great job in keeping it true to the original look and design, with some updates in the form of it’s weaponry and how it was used. As for the rest of the special effects, they were top notch and were all you could wish for out of this movie. The only thing that I honestly thought was out of place in this movie was the strange creature that chased Kirk into the cave on Delta Vega, as that honestly felt like it was a bit much. All in all, this is a great movie and well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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