Superman: Unbound (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Superman: Unbound (2013).

Another DC animated movie. These movies take one story from comics and make animated version of it. This time it is Superman: Brainiac. Problem with this approach is, you don’t know what the premise of story is. When you read stories in comics, you have previous issues and story continues from them. In these movies, it take some time to figure out what is characters relationship status at this point. Comic collections have same problem, but there is more to read and you get what you need to know from that. Movies are little over hour and there is no time to explain relationships of characters.

Given the problem I mentioned above, it is strange how much these movies spend time at beginning on fight scene, that is not related to main story. Ok, it usually shows all superheroes fighting, but it takes time from the main story. To be honest in this movie it was good, that beginning too some time from ending. Ending started to get bit repetitive. Movie could have been better, if it spent less time with Superman and more time with Brainiac.

I have said few time I don’t like Superman as character. What happens around him is more interesting. My favorite Superman story is first twelve issues of Irredeemable. It tells story of Superman like superhero turning into supervillain. It could have been elseworlds Superman story, but DC didn’t want to do that. These twelve issues study superheroes like I want Superman to be studied. Another good one is Superman: Red Son, where Superman landed and grew on Soviet Union. In this movie, only interesting Superman related moment is, when one man wonder, if Superman has left them so they can learn to survive without his help. That told how presence of Superman has made citizens of Metropolitan dependent of him. But that part of Superman is rarely explored in Superman stories.

Superman would be interesting character is storied took that route. Clean cut boy scout is boring. Good for this movie, it has interesting villain. This was first time I really liked Brainiac. I am sure I have read comics with him, but I don’t remember anything from those stories. Movies have one thing comics doesn’t have. Voice. They have also moving pictures, but this time voice made the difference. Voice made character intimidating and alien. Brainiac is alien robot, who collects information by collecting cities and studying them. He keeps miniaturized cities in his ship. He probes universe with robots. When robot finds interesting planet, it send signal to Brainiac and Brainiac comes to planet to collect city.

When you have good, almost unstoppable villain, you need good ending. Not like this had. It is Babylon 5 level disappointment. First Superman can’t do anything to Brainiac and then when movie needs to end… To be honest ending made some sense, but I could easily argue why it didn’t. It is almost carbon copy of ending of The War of the Worlds. In that movie ending was bit disappointing, but it made sense. Now that I think this more carefully, main story is quite close to The War of the Worlds. No wonder I liked that part of the movie.

Tour de France 2014

I think I have to write this post since Tour wasn’t what I told in stage 5 post. This felt like cleanest Tour in long time. I am not sure what has happened. President of UCI has changed since last Tour. Old president was blamed to be part of doping problem and new wanted to make cycling cleaner. I am not sure is that the real cause or have Armstrong’s problems made riders thinking about doping usage. If I had to bet, I would be cynical and say doping tests can show something new and riders can’t use their normal “diet”. It that is the case, something new will eventually come up and we get back to regular doping filled racing.

So, what makes me say this was cleanest Tour in long time? We didn’t have dominating teams and riders had bad days more than usually. Normally there are one or two teams that dominate the race on mountains. Those teams keep the speed up until only couple riders from other teams can follow. Then team captain attacks and drops everyone else.  Many of these teams have later been found to systematic doping program. This year no team could control the race like in previous years. If team captains had helpers on fine climb, they were from different team each climb. Captains were alone during last ten kilometers and they had to fight for themselves. And they did it. Attacks came from further from the finish line than before. It was more entertaining racing than before. I still think fifth stage was most entertaining, but mountain stages were more entertaining than before. I like to see more of this kind of racing. Every day was different and you never could guess who will have bad day.

Everyone except  Nibali had bad days. After Contador crashed, Nibali didn’t have any problems and he didn’t have to push himself to limit. He could keep his pace and that was enough to make time on others. I think Nibali could have won even with Froome and Contador in the race. I didn’t like how Froome’s and Contador’s camps questioned Nibali’s victory. Riders themselves didn’t do that. It was someone else from their camp. You have to remember that Nibali was over two and half minutes ahead of Contador, when Contador crashed and we never got to see Froome on cobbles, where Nibali made most of the time difference. We didn’t get to see Froome or Contador to have bad day on mountains. When you speculate on crashed rider’s changes, you never count how they could have bad days.

Winner was clear after first mountain stages, but that didn’t make race boring. Fight for second and third places was tight until the last time trial. Every stage had something dramatic. If Froome and Contador didn’t crash, we wouldn’t have seen this fight. That fight would have been for fourth place and other teams would have made their moves. It is hard to say which would have been better, what we got or fight between Nibali, Contador and Froome. If we see that fight next year and someone other than Nibali wins, it doesn’t mean that same guy would have won this year. Route suited Nibali this year with cobbles and only one time trial. Next year it could be two long time trials, which suit more Froome and Contador.

Over all it was better Tour than I expected. I have watched other races this year. This was first one during which I felt like watching cleaner cycling. Now that I start to think it, other races make more sense now, when you assume them to be cleaner too. We have seen something unusual on earlier races too.

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.