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

December 17th, 2017 Movie – Superman/Batman: Apokalypse

superman batman apocalypse

You can’t keep a good idea down, especially when it comes to comic books, and with the ongoing run of the Batman/Superman comic, it only made sense that another movie would be made. When I heard about this movie, I was curious about it because it’s focus is on a character with an interesting history; Supergirl. There have been several heroes to use this moniker, from the original one, who died saving Superman from the Anti-Monitor during “Crisis On Infinite Earths”, to the artifical lifeform Matrix, who assumed the name in her role of guardian of a pocket universe before she joined the normal universe. And let’s not even get started with Power Girl. Anyways, a new Supergirl was introduced during the recent Batman/Superman comics and DC made an animated movie based on those comics. So let’s see how they did with today’s movie, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

The plot: Weeks after the destruction of the Kryptonite meteor, debris and small meteorites are still falling through the skies on Earth. In Gotham, a large object falls from the sky into the harbor and Batman heads out to investigate. Diving underwater, Batman finds several chunks of Kryptonite and a small Kryptonian craft but as he investigates the ship, a strange woman has swam up to his boat and starts climbing inside. The woman accidentally activates the boat, which takes off, and Batman, alerted to what is happening, fires a grapple at the boat and is drug along but lets go when the boat crashes into a nearby pier. Nearby, the woman, who is naked, approaches some dock workers, who start to harass her but she shoves one of them into some crates prompting another man to quickly offer her his coat before running away. The woman dons the coat and continues running, eventually being pursued by the police when she causes an accident. During the course of the chase, the woman reveals that she has powers, including super strength, invulnerability, heat vision, and flight. When Batman confronts her, she shoves him and takes off again but can’t control her flight and ends up taking out one of Gotham’s automated police blimps. Superman shows up and stops the blimp from crashing in the city while Batman subdues the frightened woman with a chunk of Kryptonite. Later, Batman is scanning the woman in the Batcave when she regains consciousness and destroys the computer. As she starts to fly off, Superman stops her and speaks to her in Kryptonian, learning that she is his cousin Kara. Superman takes her to the Fortress of Solitude in order to better learn how to act like a human but his dog Krypto doesn’t like Kara, constantly growling and attacking her, while Batman also has his suspicions, as Kara has no memories of what happened to her after Krypton exploded and very few memories of her life before that. Meanwhile, on Apokolips, Granny Goodness is testing a warrior named Treasure to see if she will be able to lead the Female Furies but when Treasure battles against the Furies (Gilotina, Mad Harriet, Lashina, and Stompa), they end up killing her. Darkseid informs Granny of the new arrival on Earth and orders her to bring Kara back to Apokolips, threatening to sic the Furies on her if she fails. Back on Earth, Clark takes Kara out to Metropolis so she can get used to being an Earth girl. As they walk through the park that night, she sees the statue of him and tells him she her powers scare her and she doesn’t want to be a hero like he is. Suddenly, Superman is attacked by a group of figures while another figure ensnares Kara with a rope and drags her away. Kara tries to use her heat vision to attack the figure, who easily blocks it while Kara loses control of her heat vision and destroys parts of the park. Superman subdues his attacker and goes to help Kara only to discover that her attacker is Wonder Woman, while Lyla (Harbinger) was the one attacking him. Wonder Woman tells Superman that she is taking Kara with her to train, pointing out the damage she caused in the park and asking what would have happened if it had been daytime when the park was full. Superman starts to object but Batman appears and tells him to trust them, as there are other reasons for them doing this. Kara is taken to Themyscira, where Diana works on training her to fight while controlling her powers but Superman, who was invited to watch a training seminar with Batman, feels it is a waste of time. As Superman and Wonder Woman argue over how best to proceed with Kara, Kara gets upset with them and leaves with Lyla, who has become her friend. Alone with Lyla, Kara vents about how controlling Superman and Wonder Woman are, even though she knows they both mean well, then suggest they go for a swim to cool off but Lyla hesitates, as she has been having continuous visions of a blonde woman lying dead in the water and worries it might be Kara. Meanwhile, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are discussing Lyla’s visions and the implications of them when a boom tube opens and an army of cloned Doomsdays appears through it. Wonder Woman summons her army of Amazons and, along with Superman and Batman, they proceed to fight the army of monsters. As the fight rages on, Batman realizes something isn’t right and runs off while Superman, seeing several Amazons dying during the fight, tells Wonder Woman to call them back as he uses his heat vision to disintegrate the army of Doomsdays. After catching his breath, Superman and Wonder Woman head off to look for Batman and finding him standing at the water’s edge on another side of the island. He tells them the army was a distraction and that a second boom tube opened there and as Superman approaches the body in front of Batman, he sees it is Lyla, not Kara, who had died. A glowing orb appears, showing Lyla’s last vision and they realize that Darkseid took Kara with him so Superman vows to avenge Lyla’s death and get Kara back. The three heroes go to see Big Barda, the former leader of the Furies who had defected to Earth, and enlist her help to rescue Kara and she agrees under the condition that she goes along as well. The four heroes arrive on Apokolips and after dispatching with a pair of tanks that attack them, they split up to go on their specific assignments. Barda and Wonder Woman make their way to the fight arena, where they confront Granny and the Furies and the two heroes are forced to fight with the Furies. Meanwhile, Batman heads towards Darkseid’s armory but he encounters some guard riding on giant hell hounds and is forced to deal with them first. He manages to bury them in some debris but when he reaches the armory, one of the hounds breaks through the wall and swallows him. As the guards go to check on the hound, it collapses and Batman pries open it’s jaws, then orders the guards to remove their armor. Back in the arena, Barda kills Stompa to save Wonder Woman, who moves to kill Mad Harriet but Granny orders her to surrender, as Gilotina and Lashina have captured Barda. Wonder Woman refuses, rescuing Barda, who knocks out Lashina, while Wonder Woman deals with Mad Harriet and Gilotina, then the two heroes turn their attention to Granny. Elsewhere, Superman approaches Darkseid’s throne room and demands that he release Kara and Darkseid says she is free to go if she chooses. Kara appears and when Superman tries to get her to leave, she refuses, then begins to attack him. Superman is hesitant to fight his cousin but when she continues to attack and try to kill him, he is forced to defend himself. As Darkseid watches the battle, Batman arrives and informs Darkseid that he armed all of his Hellspore bombs and threatens to blow up Apokolips unless Darkseid releases his hold on Kara. When Batman refuses to give up his demand after Darkseid beats him, Darkseids reluctantly concedes defeat, though acknowledges his respect for Batman, just as Superman defeats Kara. Returning to Earth, Kara apologizes for what happens, saying it was like being in a bad dream, and Superman says he will take her somewhere where she can just be herself. Kara pays her respects to Lyla, then thanks Diana for what she has taught her and approaches Batman and tells him her mother’s name, which she had finally remembered. Superman takes Kara to Smallville to stay with his parents but as they approach the door, Darkseid attacks them. Darkseid prepares to blast Superman with his omega beams but Kara pushes him out of the way and takes the hit. Superman then attacks Darkseid but Darkseid easily overpowers him, then blasts him into orbit with his omega beams. Believing Darkseid killed Superman, Kara begins to fight him, using what she learned on Themyscira and Apokolips to hold her own but Darkseid eventually overpowers her and knocks her unconscious. As he prepares to leave, Superman returns to face him but is distracted on seeing Kara’s motionless form. When Darkseid grabs his cape to turn him around, Superman punches him, then proceed to renew their battle. Superman injures Darkseid but Darkseid gets the upper hand and starts blasting him with his omega beams. Kara recovers and, grabbing Darkseid’s discarded Mother Box, opens a boom tube behind him and Superman uses his heat vision to blast him through it. As the two Kryptonians embrace, Kara tells him she had reprogrammed the Mother Box, sending Darkseid to freeze as he drifts aimlessly in space. Kara then tells him she knows what she wants to be but before she can tell him, the Kents arrive at the farm and look at the damage as Superman hastily introduces them to Kara and then says he will fix the damage done to the farm and home. Some time later, Superman is on Themyscira and introduces Batman, Barda, Wonder Woman, and the other Amazons to Kara, who has chosen to call herself Supergirl. She tells the assembled group that she doesn’t know if she is worthy of wearing the outfit but she will work hard to earn it. The Amazons all cheer and Supergirl smiles when she sees Batman grin in approval as he claps along with Wonder Woman and Barda as the two Kryptonians leave the island and fly back to Metropolis.

This was a bit dark but a pretty good movie none-the-less. The voice acting was really good, with Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, and Susan Eisenberg doing a great job reprising their voice roles of DC’s famed Trinity (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman respectively). The one actor that surprised me was Ed Asner, as I honestly didn’t realize he voiced the character of Granny Goodness in the 90’s Superman cartoons and Justice League cartoons. The story was good, doing a decent job in showcasing the confusion that Kara faced as she was forced to deal with being on a strange new world and trying to find her own place in it. The animation was pretty good and lost a lot of the more angular designs that were in the previous movie. A good movie that is definitely entertaining to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

July 24th, 2017 Movie – Serenity

serenity

I think that just about everyone knows who Joss Whedon is by now. Even if you were not a fan of his shows, you have at least heard of his TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel, though more people might know him as the director of The Avengers and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. In 2002, Whedon had another show that some people might not know about called Firefly. Unfortunately, it aired on Fox and they did not know quite where to place it in their line-up, putting it on Friday nights and eventually cancelling it before it’s first season finished airing. However, the show had developed a massive following and, with the massive sells of the Firefly DVD as proof that there was consumer interest, a movie was green lit. So lets see how the final adventures of the Serenity’s crew fare as I watch today’s movie, Serenity.

The plot: By the 26th Century, Earth had become so overpopulated that humanity was forced to find another planet to live on. They eventually found a new solar system and used terraforming to make the planets habitable. The central planets formed the Alliance and set about rules for all of the planets in the solar system but the outer planets value their independence and a war is fought over it. Some time in the future, River Tam is being experimented on and the Alliance scientists are trying to turn her into a psychic assassin but River’s brother Simon manages to sneak into the facility and break her out of there. Later, a man known as The Operative is examining the footage of the Tams’ escape and when the lead scientist arrives to question what he is doing, The operative replays the footage of the scientist saying key members of the Alliance had seen the project. The Operative says that it is possible that River had telepathically learned classified information from those members and his job is to ensure that nobody else learns it, then proceeds to kill the scientist and his guards for allowing it to happen. Meanwhile, Simon and River have taken refuge on the cargo ship Serenity, where Simon earns their keep by serving as the ship’s doctor. When they land on a planet to rob an Alliance payroll, Simon is upset that Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is taking River with him but Mal insists that he needs her due to her telepathic abilities. Mal, River, Zoe, and Jayne leave Simon, Wash (Zoe’s husband and the ship’s pilot), and Kaylee (the ship’s mechanic) on Serenity and head into the town to rob the payroll. As Mal and Zoe are in the vault, River has a vision of the Reavers, a savage and cannibalistic group of people that attack the outer planets. Mal tells the vault guard to get everyone inside the vault and seal it so they stay safe, then he and his group get on their mule and head out of town. A Reaver ship follows after them but Wash brings Serenity to them and they are able to board it on the run, killing the one Reaver that manages to get on board. As Mal and the others recover, Simon punches Mal for putting River in danger and tells him that they will be getting off at the next port and an angered Mal agrees to it. When they reach the next port, everyone leaves the ship, with Simon and River going their own way but Kaylee, who likes Simon, doesn’t like it and argues with Mal about this. As Mal and Jayne go to meet their contact and get paid for the payroll job, River walks into the bar and sees a commercial playing on the TV, causing her to whisper the word “Miranda” before she begins attacking the patrons of the bar. As Mal and Jayne try to stop her, River knocks out Jayne and goes to shoot Mal when Simon appears and says a phrase that causes River to fall asleep. Mal grabs River and takes her back onto Serenity and, after securing River into a room, grabs Simon and demands answers from him. Simon starts to explain what happened to River and Mal is upset that he had spent 8 months on the ship and never told anyone about what could happen. Realizing they need to find more information, they contact a hacker called Mr. Universe, who tells them that the video never made it to the news and was accessed by the military. Reviewing the footage, they see what set River off and Mr. Universe discovers a subliminal message hidden in the commercial which was intended to trigger River’s response. Mal and the others head to Haven, where their friend and former shipmate Shepherd has set up a community, and while they are resting there, Mal speaks to Shepherd about their situation and Shepherd warns him about what the Alliance will do. Mal receives a communication from Inara, another former shipmate and whom Mal has a romantic interest in, and even though they know it is a trap, Mal and the others go to save her. Mal manages to sneak into where Inara is but he encounters The Operative, who attempts to reason with Mal into giving River to him. Mal refuses and they start fighting but before the Operative can kill him, a flash grenade that Inara had secretly lit goes off, allowing Mal and Inara to escape. They make it back to Serenity and use decoys to keep The Operative from being able to track them. As they are flying back to Haven, Jayne argues with Mal about why they are keeping River on board the ship. When everyone goes off to separate areas of the ship, Jayne heads to River’s room to kill her but she knows he is coming and knocks him out. As the others search for River, she knocks out Simon so he can’t put her to sleep, then heads to the bridge. Mal finds her there and tries talking to her as she goes looking through the ship’s navigation system and she stops and points to a planet, calling it Miranda. Mal has the others join them on the bridge, while River apologizes to Simon for knocking him out, and they discuss Miranda, finding it odd that there doesn’t seem to be any record of it in the Alliance database. Mal suggests going there to investigate but Wash and Zoe point out that Miranda is in the heart of Reaver territory. The group heads to Haven to come up with a plan only to find that Haven has been razed. Mal manages to find Shepherd and calls for help but Shepherd dies before Simon can get there. Realizing that The Operative is attacking anywhere where they had hidden before, Zoe says to warn their friends but they find that they have all been killed. As Mal stares at the screens, The Operative comes on and says that Mal left him no choice, angering Mal. Mal orders the others to take some of the bodies and tie them to the ship so they can disguise themselves as Reavers and head to Miranda, though the crew is unhappy about doing it. They manage to make their way through the Reaver fleet and land on Miranda only to find that it has been terraformed and populated at one point, but all of the people are now dead. Following a beacon signal, they find a transmission from an Alliance scientist, who says that the chemical they used in the air to pacify the population made it where they stopped doing anything, including eating or anything necessary to live. However, a small percentage of the population had the opposite effect, making them more violent and crazed, and Mal and the others realize that the Alliance had created the Reavers. Mal decides to take the video and have Mr. Universe broadcast it to everyone and contact him to arrange it but unknown to them, The Operative was at Mr. Universe’s home and after he finishes speaking with Mal, The Operative kills Mr. Universe and has the transmitter destroyed while he prepares to ambush Mal and the others. Knowing that the Alliance will be waiting for them, Mal fires on the Reaver fleet as they leave Miranda, getting them to chase after them. When the Serenity emerges from the ion cloud above the planet, The Operative has his fleet target it but they are surprised when Reaver ships appear after it and they are forced to fight them. The Serenity makes it through the fleet in the confusion but a Reaver ship follows after them and causes them to crash. They manage to survive the crash but Wash is killed by the Reavers and Mal orders everyone to leave the ship. They make their way inside and Zoe tells Mal they will hold off the Reavers while Mal goes and gets the video to Mr. Universe. Mal heads to Mr. Universe’s chamber to find it trashed but Mr. Universe left a message with his sexbot, which tells Mal he had a back-up transmitter that is ready to transmit. Mal heads down to the back-up transmitter but unknown to him, The Operative, who was forced to eject from his ship as it was destroyed, had followed him and hears the message as well. Meanwhile, the Reavers start to attack the others and Zoe and Kaylee are injured, forcing them to fall back behind some blast doors but they don’t seal all the way. When Simon is shot, River goes through the opening and seals the blast doors, throwing Simon’s medical bag through before it closes, and then proceeds to fight with the Reavers. Mal reaches the transmitter but is attacked by the Operative, who attempts to paralyze Mal so he can kill him but Mal manages to get the upper hand and breaks the Operative’s back, then makes it so he has to watch as he plays the transmission that tells the entire solar system about how the Alliance made the Reavers. Mal rejoins the others and when he asks about River, they are surprised to see the doors open and River standing there, having killed all of the Reavers. Suddenly, the wall blasts open and Alliance soldiers arrive and threaten to shoot them but The Operative orders the soldiers to stand down. Sometime later, Mal and the others hold a funeral for Wash, Shepherd, and Mr. Universe then get to work repairing the ship. As they prepare to leave, Mal is approached by The Operative, who says he can’t guarantee that the Alliance won’t come after them, as the video weakened the Parliment’s power but did not remove it entirely. Mal heads up to the bridge and gets in the pilot’s chair, with River acting as his copilot, and they take off to their next adventure.

Serenity met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snappy dialogue and goofy characters make this Wild Wild West soap opera in space fun and adventurous.” The movie takes place 6 months after the final episode of Firefly and a three issue comic mini-series, written by Whedon, was released in the summer of 2005 to bridge the gap in the story. Despite the strong following, the movie did not do so well at the box office, earning $38.9 million off of a $39 million budget.

If you are a fan of the show, you will enjoy this movie. Even if you aren’t a fan, if you are a fan of sci-fi movies, you will probably like this movie, but just not understand as much of what is happening. This is a pretty good movie all told. The acting was good, with Nathan Fillion (Mal), Summer Glau (River), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative) doing great jobs in their roles. Whedon did a good job in writing the plot so that you could follow along without having any previous knowledge of the show, while adding some elements that would appeal to the die hard fans. The special effects and fight scenes were pretty good, especially the fight scenes with River, as they utilized some of Summer Glau’s abilities as a former ballerina into her choreography. A fun way to end a TV show and a fun movie to enjoy.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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