Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

Another Justice League animation movie, but totally different than previous one. Animation is different. Tone is different and Justice League has different members. I don’t know, how much connection this should have with Justice League: Doom. This is more Flash movie than Justice League movie. Flash is main character and he is only one who is familiar version of character. Other characters are different than normal.

Flash wakes up without his power and finds out world has changed. First his dead mother is now alive. All familiar superheroes are different versions of themselves. Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war against each other. This war is about to destroy the Earth. Flash goes to Batman to ask his help. In this world Batman is not Bruce Wayne. He is Thomas Wayne, who became Batman after his son Bruce Wayne was killed. This Batman uses guns and kills people. Batman and Flash manage to give Flash’s powers back. But he is not as fast as before. He can’t travel in time like he could do before. I didn’t know he could do that. In Doom he could run through solid object. In this he can’t. That would have made things easier for him few times. Makes me wonder, what he can actually do. It seems to be different in both movies.

In this world Superman was captured after he landed. He has been locked underground and he never got superpowers. Flash and Batman team up with Cyborg. Cyborg works for government. He finds where Superman is held. They go to free him. During following fight Superman gains superpowers and loses control of his heat vision. He kills solders they fight against and freaks out after he realizes what he has done. Then he just flies away. Flash, Batman and Cyborg decide to go to stop Aquaman and Wonder Woman. On their way Batman shows Flash video, where they see Eobard Thawne. Thawne is Flash’s nemesis. He has same powers as Flash. They think he is behind all this.

Movie is dark and violent. If this was live action movie, it would be rated R or something similar. But because this is animation, it is suited for kids. We see decapitations, Wonder Woman killing children and Batman shooting guy to head and see Batman through hole in guy’s forehead. This movie happens in alternative time line. That gives movie permission to do more extreme things with characters. Normal world characters wouldn’t be able to do anything like this. This movie reminds me of Superman: Red Son and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Like those comics, this makes Superheroes dangerous to regular humans. World doesn’t see them as friends, but weapons to use or weapons, which can destroy you.

DC usually doesn’t explore this part of superheroes. Marvel does that all the time. But when DC chooses this way, they go all the way. I liked this movie because of tone, story and different versions of heroes. Only complain I have is Flash’s powers and things related to powers. It is like they made things up as they went. I don’t want to spoil the twist or the ending. But I have to say both include continuity errors, which make you ask, why he now needs this, when he didn’t need it before.

Over all movie is worth watching. It is dark and violent. Because this happens in alternative time line, anything can happen to any character. That is refreshing in superhero stories. I didn’t like animation style at first, but when I saw where this went, it suited the story and tone. Alternative time line was interesting. I would like to see more of it. Batman was interesting as was alternative version of Harley Quinn. It was hinted, that Bruce Wayne’s mother was Joker. Bruce Wayne’s father as Batman and mother as Joker would make interesting story in right hands.

After writing this post I found this movie is based on comic story Flashpoint and story has few spin-offs including Batman story. I will be checking main story and at least Batman story later. At the moment I have enough other comics to read. I haven’t forgotten what I promised about Guardians of the Galaxy. It will come next week. On Thursday, day before the movie comes to cinema.

Justice League: Doom (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Justice League: Doom (2012).

Sometimes movies make you wonder, why scripts are not checked before movies are done. Justice League: Doom is one of those movies. Or is it that this looks good on paper and you realize, how bad it is after seeing the product? This movie is loosely based on comic story JLA: Tower of Babel. So it would be possible to see how this looked on paper. I haven’t read to the comics, so I can’t comment on that.

Batman has mad plans to stop every member of Justice League if they become evil. Vandal Savage steals plans and recruits Justice League’s enemies to kill Justice League. Every member has his or her own enemy to do the killing. Plans to kill Martian Manhunter and Superman made sense. Martian Manhunter was poisoned and Superman shot with kryptonite bullet. Other plans didn’t make any sense, if goal was to kill the person.

Bane attacked Batman. He knocked Batman unconscious. Instead of killing Batman, he buried Batman alive. Cheetah scratches Wonder Woman’s arm during battle and get nanomachines into Wonder Woman’s bloodstream. Namomachines make Wonder Woman see everyone as Cheetah. Cheetah leaves Wonder Woman to burn herself out fighting against everyone. If goal was to kill Wonder Woman, why not make nanomachines do something else to Wonder Woman’s brains than change what she sees? Like shutting down her brains or destroy something important.

Mirror Master’s trap attached bomb to Flash’s arm. Bomb explodes, if Flash slows down. Flash had to run, if he wanted to live. Why not make time bomb or use nanomachines like with Wonder Woman? Green Lantern was framed to think he is not worth of Green Lantern’s powers and he drops the ring. Remember, this was Batman’s plan to stop Green Lantern if he became evil. Would Green Lantern thought about worthiness, when he is evil? Star Sapphire leaves Green Lantern after Green Lantern has dropped the ring. Not killing like she was paid to do.

See any pattern? Villains don’t kill heroes, they leave them to die, but don’t wait until heroes are dead. I know, they can’t kill members of Justice League in animation movie, but this was lazy and stupid. Of course heroes will survive, when villains leave and heroes can work together. This movie lacked working together. Heroes work together only when they save each others and when they save the world from solar flare. When they fight against League of Doom, each pick their own enemy and fight him or her like in their own comics. No co-operation or changing enemies there.

Vandal Savage’s plan was to destroy half of earth by shooting solar flares from sun. His base would have been in destroyed are, but it would have survived. What would have been the point of having base in destroyed area, when all other survivors lived another side of the planet? He wanted to rule people, not be as far as possible from them. Luckily Justice League managed to make Earth and everything on it incorporeal for moment. Solar flare just went through Earth and everything on it. I am not a scientist, but I think that would cause a lot of problems.

In the end Justice League discuss, can they let Batman be part of the group. Batman says he shouldn’t be part of the group, if others can’t see why he had to have those plans. He and Superman have discussion after Justice League made its decision. but decision is never told. Discussion hints, Batman stays, but it is not sure, if only Superman approved Batman’s actions or did everyone approve. But does it matter in the end, because two biggest names in Justice League and Justice League doesn’t feel same, if one of them is missing?

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993).

This has been on my list of movies to watch for a long time. I have heard from many places this is one of the best Batman movie. Among best live action movies. Problem was I couldn’t find it anywhere when I remembered it. Now it became available. So I had to check it.

Phantasm, new lethal vigilante, comes to Gotham City. Batman is mistaken for Phantasm and police start serious hunt for Batman. At same time Bruce Wayne’s old love, Andrea Beaumont, comes back. This gives Batman flashbacks of time before he became Batman and when he was with Andrea. Bruce Wayne has promised his dead parents he will fight crime. He is not yet Batman, but fights criminals during night. When he meets Andrea, he has to choose between happiness with her or keeping his promise and continue his vigilantism. After internal struggle, he chooses happiness. That lasts one day, which he and Andrea are engaged. Next day Andrea and his father leaves to Europe.

After that Bruce Wayne found Batman character and rest is history. Then we get back to modern time, where Batman tries to solve, who Phantasm is and what Andrea is doing in Gotham. The Story is darker than I expected. Ending is also something you don’t expect, if you think animations are for kids. This is one of the best Batman movies among Tim Burton’s and Christoper Nolan’s movies. It has same tone and no Robin. Best Batman movies seem to not have Robin. As soon as you add Robin, tone of the movies change.

Watching this movie I realized how often people learn who Batman is. In every live action movie, except Batman the Movie and Batman and Robin, Batman’s love interest finds out who Batman is. Before this it didn’t bother me. Bruce Wayne has new woman every month. If every other of them knew Batman’s identity, how long Batman’s identity could remain hidden. This is different from Spider-man, who stays with one woman longer. In Daredevil: Born again comic, Daredevil’s former lover sells his identity for drugs. After that criminal boss Kingpin attack Daredevil’s civil persona and destroys his civil persona’s life. Something similar could happen to Batman, when he reveals his identity to so many women. This problem was biggest in Burton’s and Schumacher’s  movies, where almost every girlfriend of the week learned batman’s true identity.

Another thing I didn’t like was addition of Joker. The story didn’t need him. He was included to Batman’s origin story once again. I liked Dark Knight, because it had Joker, but it didn’t add him to Batman’s origin story. I like Joker, but he shouldn’t be everywhere. This story didn’t need Joker. It would have been better only with Batman, Phantasm and regular criminals.

What I really liked was Future World theme park. In flashback it was futuristic theme park, showing how Bruce Wayne’s future seemed bright. On current time it is abandoned decayed place like Bruce Wayne’s current future. In the end it is completely destroyed like Bruce Wayne’s hopes for happy future. Bruce Wayne had change for happy future and he chose it, but world decided otherwise. Did I tell you this movie have very uplifting look on world and happy story?

Those two things above are not big problems. This is one of best Batman stories. Much better than I expected from animation. I liked Phantasm character. It was good enough for Batman’s regular rogue gallery. But character’s motivations wouldn’t work as regular villain and that would change the character to something else.

Tour de France 2014: Stage 5

I was about to start new blog for this post. Then I realized, I could put it here. I am not going to post more sport related posts, unless I really have point to make, which suits the context of this blog. Tour de France is sporting spectacle you can watch on tv. So with little fetching, this could be here. I am not going to discuss one stage of Tour de France. This is more about, what is generally wrong in current stage races.

Races can be divided into two categories. One day races and stage races. One day races run usually every year on same route with minor adjustments. One day races have their own characteristics and are more technical and tactical. They use smaller roads and riders can race like there is no tomorrow. Oldest and largest one day races are called classics. Stage races are run during several stages and days. Route changes every year and stages are less technical and tactical than one day races. Riders have to save their energy for later stages and route’s main function is take race from one place to another. There may or may not be things, that make racing harder. For general classification, there are mountain and time trial stages.

Over last decade stage races have became really boring. There are four main reasons for this. First became after Festina scandal at 1998. Since that mountain stages have became easier. By easier I mean stages don’t have as many back to back mountains. There are often flat roads between mountains. Currently it is rare to have any point attacking before last mountain. There is too much flat before last mountain. Strong teams can catch breakaway before the last mountain. Where we get to second reason. Lance Armstrong and his US Postal team introduced current stage race tactics. Best riders have second best riders as their team mates keeping high pace on mountain stages. This really started when Roberto Heras came to US Postal for season 2001. At the time he was third best climber on race after Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich. Mountain stages were US Postal keeping the pace high until there were only Armstrong, Ullrich and Heras.

Since that, richest teams have adopted that tactic. Best teams are so strong no individual rider can escape before last mountain. Last mountains are usually gone so fast, nobody can attack. Riders just drop from the group. To make races more interesting organizers have added more and harder mountain top finishes. This kind of tactics and number of mountain top finishes make riders wait for last mountain top finish to make their move, if they can make it. On earlier mountain top finishes, they wait as long as they can before they try anything. Fourth reason is more climber friendly time trials. Time trials don’t give as time to good time trialists as they used. Climbers have less reason to attack on mountains, because they don’t have to make time on time trialists.

Decade ago Tour de France had five stages for climbers and over 100 km of time trialling on flat terrain. This year there are seven or eight stages for climbers depending how you want to count tenth stage. There is only one time trial and it is suited for climbers. Climbers don’t have to think about taking time on time trialists, since they don’t lose on time trials as much as they did when time trials were flat.

All this has made largest stage races waiting game, where you wait something to happen. Classics are totally different. There anything could happen during last 50 kilometer. Most interesting classic is Paris-Roubaix, which characteristic is cobblestones. It has over 50 kilometers of cobblestones, which make race dangerous gamble and very tactical race, where everyone has to be alert all the time and even best riders have to ride for themselves. Usually best riders can ride behind team mates. There are Paris-Roubaix specialists, who love the race. Others want to stay as far away from it as possible.

Fifth stage of this year’s Tour de France was mini Paris-Roubaix stage. It was raced over some of crucial cobblestones of the classic. It only had 13 kilometers of cobblestones and it was 100 kilometers shorter. What made stage more epic was rain. Rain makes riding on cobblestones harder. There was only about dozen guys, who normally would race on cobblestones. This made the stage more interesting than any other stage during last decade. Last 50 kilometers were all out racing. Best riders had to ride and tactics were straight from classics. They raced like there was no tomorrow. Race leader Vincenzo Nibali  rode like classic specialist and made two minutes or something like that on almost every serious overall classification contender. Stage will be remembered years to come. It showed what classics really are.

Those, who are against cobblestones in stage races, tell defending champion Chris Froome crashed twice and had to leave the race. It has to be said, that Froome crashed before cobblestones and had crashed on fourth stages too. He was only one, who didn’t finish the stage. Three riders didn’t finish sixth stage, which didn’t have cobblestones. I don’t think cobblestones were the reason of Froome’s crashes this time. Last time on cobbles Fränk Schleck fell on cobblestones and broke his collarbone. That time cobblestones took big name from race.

The question is, should big stage races like Tour de France have cobblestones or other classic like stages. Currently it seems to be only way to have real racing in stage race. Rarely we have seen best riders riding against each other for last 50 kilometers. Normally it is less than 5 kilometers. But is there any point to make riders race on dangerous specialist conditions, when 5% of riders in race are specialists. Other 95% are specialists of different kind of terrains. I am for cobblestones in stage races, but I can see point, why there shouldn’t be cobblestones. But is the problem, that big tours are currently designed for pure climbers than all-rounders like they were decade ago. Cobblestones are worst for climbers, who are light and who don’t usually ride against the wind by themselves. All-rounders doesn’t have as much problems on them. Okay, they are still dangerous, but other stages have taken more riders than cobblestone stage this year.

Because I don’t blame cobblestones for Froome’s exit, I say this year they made race better. The stage was exiting and it opened the race in a way other riders have to attack on mountains. They can’t wait like they normally do.

Because it is hard to watch the stage afterwards, I will give you few videos of the stage.

First Orica Greenedge show us what it was like behind the curtains

Cannondale shows, what it looked like from riders point of view

Finally video from winner’s team Belkin

Evil Dead (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Evil Dead (2013).

It is quite rare, that remake is worth making, if original is classic. Usually you make fans of original movie angry. This movie is one of those rare cases. This movie is good as its own. It may have to much iconic things from original series like cutting arms off and chain saws. I don’t remember, how much humor original movie had. Third movie was horror comedy. This doesn’t have any humor in it, which was good choice. It made clear, this doesn’t try to remake what what original movie series was. It felt like own movie.

Well, as its own movie as collection of clichés can be.  Movie doesn’t have anything we haven’t seen before. There is just more of everything and it is done better. Story is basic horror story. Five young adults come to cabin in the woods. Their goal is to help their friend Mia get rid of her drug addiction. Friends find strange book from basement. One of the friends start to read the book and says the magic words, which wakes up evil spirit.  Mia sees evil spirit, but others think she has withdrawal symptoms. She escapes the cabin, but evil spirit stops her and possesses her.  Friends get possessed one by one and nobody knows what s actually happening.

What follows is feast of blood and practical effects. Movie shows, why practical effects are still superior to cgi. Level of violence and blood is something you rarely see. This is one of those new movies, which doesn’t try to get PG-13 rating. but chooses to tone movie for older audience. Movie’s rating caused controversy. It was quite bloody and violent for R-rating. I am not sure did I see cut version or unrated version. It was more bloody and violent movie that we are used to. It was because effects were so realistic. It never felt like violence and blood was there for sake of violence and blood. All of it was needed to tell the story and make movie more effective.

If you want to see one genre movie to see what genre is all about, this is good choice. It is pure genre movie. It is better done than average genre movie. It is many ways like Cabin in the Woods. This is ultimate genre movie, when Cabin in the Woods uses genre cliches to tell story and have quite a twist. Both movies understand and respect the genre. If you want to see another good genre movie Cabin in the Woods.  I am not horror movie fan, but lately there have been few movies I have liked a lot. I have to add Drag me to Hell to that list and there are at least one other potential movie to that list. But that will be another time and another post.