‘Black Adam’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

The hierarchy of power in the DCEU has finally changed, but we’re not so sure about the direction it’s heading after watching Black Adam. For years fans have waited for the most anticipated Dwayne Johnson project because of how much he put into his film. He was dedicated to this character from the beginning, and he fought hard to get this film made. His heart and soul went into this project, and you could see a bit of that creep through in the final product. The one thing that has always impressed me about DC films is their ability to bring forth the lore that makes these mystical heroes/villains unique to their brand. That’s exactly what was done with Teth-Adam and Kahndaq. Johnson was right in making this a standalone film because there is much to explore. It also directly correlates to the same lineage as Shazam, which is something I was eagerly awaiting. 

In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam (Dwayne Johnson) bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell). The beginning of this film set the location of Kahndaq and how the people needed someone to look up to as their beacon of hope. It’s a similar narrative to Superman but presented differently. Black Adam felt a bit out of place as they were trying to integrate him into society, and it felt like he was in a different movie than the rest of the Justice Society. 

Even though Teth Adam’s backstory is interesting because of the lore and heartfelt because of his relationship with his son, there wasn’t enough to build off of. Thankfully, Doctor Fate and Hawkman stepped in at the right time to add a bit more fun and flare to the movie. Brosnan and Hodge worked together perfectly and were born to play these roles. Their chemistry was great and to see both of their powers on full display was truly the best part of the movie. The one thing that felt repetitive was the number of times the JSA fought Black Adam to teach him not to kill anyone. To be able to see Doctor Fate’s power set on screen was a sight to behold. His scenes were by far the best thing in the movie, along with Hawkman’s. Without them, the movie wouldn’t have worked as well, and they saved the second half of this film. Atom Smasher fell flat and Cyclone didn’t have nearly enough to do on the team. Their characters felt underdeveloped and empty compared to Doctor Fate and Hawkman. 

Black Adam feels a bit generic, recycled and a bit outdated, but the action scenes are really strong. Dwayne Johnson fought hard for this movie and for a certain character to be included as well. We should commend him for bringing new characters to the screen who may have no had their time to shine if it wasn’t for him. There are aspects of this film that did work, but ultimately the flaws outweigh the polished action scenes. They left so much to be desired and the world-building wasn’t as strong as other DCEU films. The hierarchy of power didn’t fully change, but a shift was felt. The ending of this film can give many fans hope for the future of the DCEU because Dwayne Johnson is going to fight the good fight for the fans, and that means we are in very good hands. 

‘The Batman’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

What do we know about Bruce Wayne? We know that he is a broken shell of a man who is trying to fix the city that took his parents away from him. Gotham City becomes a character on its own, as a parallel to Bruce Wayne and Batman. There is a duality of the facade versus the corruption with Gotham as a city and with Bruce. For as long as we’ve known this character, there is no Gotham without Batman and there is no Bruce Wayne without Gotham. Every single aspect of Gotham City, including the wheel of characters lurking in the shadows, compliment the Batman and work in favour in his growth as a person.

Matt Reeves is one of the only directors who accurately showed the detective side of Batman. He took film noir elements and fused it with a comic book narrative to fully explore the depths of this character. For the first time, Batman feels like the main character and is not being overpowered by his rogues gallery whatsoever. Each supporting character worked with Batman and with Bruce Wayne as a character. As the Batman unmasks the secrets of his characters in Gotham City, he slowly begins to assemble the pieces of his own puzzle as Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson). In a way, The Riddler (Paul Dano) helps Bruce come to the realization of how truly broken he is because of his city.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The introduction of his rogues gallery was done incredibly well. Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot (Colin Farrell), The Riddler (Paul Dano), and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) all had their moments to shine. Kravitz was a complete badass and embodied Kyle through her physicality and her charm. Farrell was unrecognizable and completely lost himself in Cobblepot. Dano and Reeves worked together to create such a menacing Riddler; that third act display will definitely have a lasting effect on many. Lastly, Turturro as Falcone was a dream come true for me, as someone who has an appreciation for a nuanced mob boss. Also, can’t forget to mention the other half of the detective duo, Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) who had such great chemistry with Pattinson and he brought the fire.

Not only does the detective work keep you engaged throughout the lengthy runtime, but the cinematography by Greig Fraser visually elevates the story. There are some beautiful shots and angles that put you directly into the cowl or even on the side of the batmobile. Reeves and Fraser brought elements from the video games to life as well in this film and it felt very interactive. Stylistically, it is the most daring Batman yet, and it’s just so refreshing to see something different. Adding onto the precision of the story, direction, and cinematography, the score composed by Michael Giacchino is dark, broody, and chilling. You could just feel the weight on Batman’s shoulders in every single scene and what it means for Bruce to dawn the cape.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Batman is the definitive Batman film. The majority of people calling it that are all telling the truth. Even if you think the runtime is a bit long, or there are too many endings in the third act, or you may not think Robert Pattinson fits the role of Bruce Wayne just yet, the bones of who Batman is and his detective origin is what makes The Batman the best. The film is not perfect and could have used a bit of editing to tighten up some scenes. But the important thing is that each member of this ensemble had their time to shine and there are definitely some surprises along the way. Reeves takes you into Gotham and every element of the city swallows you whole like the rest of the characters. Truly an immersive experience in IMAX.

‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There have been many, many, comic book movies in the past decade. Some follow the same formula, some stick close to the source material, and some reinvent the genre. The reason why Venom is unique is because the movie tries to bend what we already know. Maybe we have been conditioned to enjoy one type of formula but it’s always refreshing to dive into something different. Venom: Let There Be Carnage feels like you’re flipping through the pages of a comic book with it’s quick editing and flashy style. It’s emotional, entertaining and that post credit scene will leave you with so many questions.

In this second instalment we have Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) trying to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson). Who eventually becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution. As all this is going on between them, Venom and Eddie’s bromance seems to crumble. They’re constantly bickering with each other because neither of them are allowing themselves to compromise. They are no longer two separate entities, they are stuck for life and that is the bromantic journey Andy Serkis takes us on.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage': If Box Office Recovers, This May Tell |  IndieWire
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

We have Eddie and Venom’s bromance to deal with. We also have Cletus Kasady’s lost love to explore as well. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a flashy comic book movie on the surface. But it deals with two emotional stories about toxic relationships and emotional connections. It has to be said that Tom Hardy is beyond committed to this role and he loves the character so much. Eddie Brock and Venom are being handled in the best way. The filmmakers understand how campy, overemotional, rude, and snappy the character has to be.

Director Andy Serkis was the perfect choice to direct this sequel. He had a different take on Venom and understood what Tom Hardy wanted, since he co-wrote the script. Once you get a director who understands the material it just makes the movie even more fun. Serkis brought so many elements together and really enhanced the visuals. The CGI was so much better and the symbiotes felt like they were fully formed. We didn’t have two blobs fighting each other, we had two different bodies battling.

After 15 years of waiting for Carnage to be on screen, this was a decent way to bring him in. I do feel like Harrelson’s scenes were a bit rushed and cut short, but it worked for what it was. Unfortunately, Shriek (Naomie Harris) was severely underused and used as a plot device. Wish we could have had her worked into the story a bit more. Is Venom: Let There Be Carnage anywhere near perfect? No. But guess what? It nails the comedic beats between Eddie and Venom. It is fast-paced and entertaining. It doesn’t waste any time to bring you back into the action, and that’s why this was a fun moviegoing experience.

‘The Suicide Squad’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

For many comic book fans, the closer the live-action is to the source material, the better it is. Meaning, that the director needs to understand, that the more obscure aspects of the material, should be done full out. That is what James Gunn did with The Suicide Squad. He chose the villains from Belle Reve, who would have never seen the light of day because they are the bottom of the barrel. Which is exactly what everyone thought of Guardians of the Galaxy, and look how that turned out. At times this didn’t feel like a comic book film, but there are some nice comic panel touches, that Gunn added, to bring you right back into the madness.

From the moment this film begins, it has James Gunn written all over it. They are very self-aware about the film they are making. These villains are wild, chaotic, and loose cannons. When Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) walks in, and begins to assemble the first task force, we get a quick recap of what it means to be a part of the squad. We see some familiar faces like Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), but there are plenty of new characters. Within the first ten minutes, Gunn sets the tone for how insane this film is going to be. The stakes are high; no one is safe, and that’s why this works so well.

Introducing the New and Improved Suicide Squad - The Ringer
Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Gunn also had a great balance between comedic and emotional moments, even if some jokes didn’t really land. The entire cast worked well together, but the standouts were Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchor), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone). As far as new characters go, these are the ones that should move forward in the DCEU, they stole every single scene they were in. For the hype that Peacemaker (John Cena) received leading up to this film, he was very underwhelming throughout. He is very arrogant and his character only works with a group of people, I find it hard to believe that he would be an interesting solo character. Cena delivered a solid performance, and did what he had to do, but the character fed off the banter and energy of others, especially Bloodsport.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

The one character that didn’t sit right with me was Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). We had a near-perfect iteration of her in Birds of Prey, and this felt like a step down from her growth in that film. For majority of the film Quinn is by herself, she was by no means a damsel in distress, and she had great action scenes, but Gunn made her dumb. Harley Quinn has two sides of her, the intelligent Dr. Harleen Quinzel, and the chaotic Harley Quinn, but she is always very aware of both sides, and someone who knows her would blend that (i.e., Christina Hodson). Quinn lacked the same vibrant, tough energy from Birds of Prey and it was noticeable. Robbie always gives her heart and soul when playing Quinn, but the writing should have been better and consistent with Birds of Prey.

All in all, The Suicide Squad is a lot of fun. It’s very entertaining, chaotic, funny, and you have no idea what is about to happen next. Gunn crafted gory and violent action scenes that had me laughing. He did think outside the box with certain characters and that is what made it fun. Even though the structure of this film felt a bit all over the place, the characters really brought this all together. Of course the soundtrack works well with the action scenes, and the giant kaiju blew me away. Probably some of the best VFX work in a third act I have seen since Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It was polished and it looked wicked. Definitely catch this in IMAX if you can, you will get a kick out of it.

A Love Letter to DCEU Fans: We Did It!

By: Amanda Guarragi 

To my fellow DC fans, I salute you, because we did it. The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement is a massive success and in 2021, on HBO Max, we will finally see our beloved Justice League come together as it was intended. Zack Snyder hosted a Man of Steel watch party today on the platform Vero, which he uses quite often. In his commentary, he discussed the choices he made in each scene in a very detailed manner and it showed how dedicated he was to bringing fans the best version of Superman. It was so much fun to watch because he gave his audience important information and pointed out a couple of easter eggs.

Zack Snyder has always created beautiful films that are deeply rooted in the source material. Most importantly, he has fun on set because he loves the material so much. Zack Snyder is a great director because he is also a fan of the content. When he was describing Superman’s first flight and showing his storyboards, you could feel how much love went into those scenes. Today was a very special day because towards the end of the film, Henry Cavill made an appearance and talked about how he felt putting on the suit. It was a great moment, considering we haven’t really seen Henry Cavill, let alone him speaking about the Snyder Cut, but I always knew there was a plan in place.

After 4 long years of being extremely vocal about Warner Brothers releasing the Snyder Cut of Justice League, it was finally confirmed from the man himself. At the end of the livestream, Zack and Deborah Snyder had a couple of fans join their Zoom call with Henry. This also proved that Zack has a very close relationship with his fanbase and loves having discussions with them. He answered all their questions, including the one in regards to the Snyder Cut. At first Henry, Zack and Deborah laughed. Zack awkwardly said, “It’s out of my control. It’s not up to me.” then he started talking about a tiny flash drive, that he left in a bathroom stall somewhere, to try and divert the question.

At that point, I thought we were duped. I thought there would be no announcement because he was diverting the question, but Henry came to the rescue. It fell silent for a moment and then Henry said, “You know what, I think I’d like to see it.” and Zack answered, “Oh, really? Well I can’t just show it but I can do this.” Zack then turns the camera to his big screen, where he was watching Man of Steel on, and this showed up.

JL official

courtesy of HBO Max

Beautiful right? The moment we’ve been waiting for and he announced it in the most Zack Snyder way. Everything started with Man of Steel and Zack’s version of Superman. It all started with Henry Cavill. Superman hasn’t risen yet because Zack Snyder’s Justice League hasn’t been released. It was only fitting that Henry, Zack and Deborah would all join together to make this announcement. The internet pretty much exploded today and all DC fans are beyond happy. My Twitter timeline took me back to a time where we were gearing up for Justice League and it gave me that same feeling today. All the friends I have made in the DC community and the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement has truly been amazing. We went up to bat for our director and now his vision will finally be complete.

It is a very emotional day for so many people. This community has been through so many bad moments but our love for these characters and these films helped us push through. We have constantly been under fire and we have had to defend these films for the past 4 years. It has been a very long journey but it was definitely worth it because today, today we made history. To everyone that used the hashtag, to everyone who defended these films and these actors, this couldn’t have been possible without you guys. We have been a team since SDCC in 2015, ever since we saw the footage for Batman v Superman. We went through all the criticism and the hatred together, but we stuck to our guns and made the impossible happen. Today is for all of you.

To Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller, on behalf of the whole fanbase, thank you a million times over for your love and dedication to these characters. The DCEU would not be the same without you guys. You have all made comic book films that deeply resonate with so many people around the world and with characters that have been iconic throughout history. You have all built the foundation for the future of the DCEU and we truly can’t wait to see what comes next.

Whether Zack Snyder’s Justice League, is a six episode television series, or a three hour epic released on HBO Max, we will all be there on the very first day it is released, watching it because it’s going to be a big moment. Hope is what got all of us here and that’s why today is overwhelming, especially by watching Man of Steel. It’s not an “S”, on Kal’s planet, it means hope. The definition of hope, the feeling of it and having it payoff, is what today is.