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DOCTOR STRANGE REVIEW ***** (five stars) by Rob “The Encyclopaedia” Deb

DOCTOR STRANGE REVIEW ***** (five stars) by Rob “The Encyclopaedia” Deb.

As the MCU continues to expand in delightful ways, Strange exists as a film to give some breathing space to the relatively cramped Marvel Universe depicted in Civil War. For those unfamiliar with the character this is a bold step for Marvel, one they waited to introduce until the right time and they do it brilliantly.

Doctor Strange movie poster 2016Opening with an origin story We see the witty lines, the rejoinders and the now obligatory pop music sound track commentary that admittedly made me feel I was about to embark on an Iron man retreat. However this hand holding is crucial for the realms about to be introduced. Strange is a man, like Stark, at the top of his game and a crisis pushes him into learning humility and real power.

As he travels to heal his hands we see an incredibly Strong supporting cast in the roles of Wong, The Ancient one and Moro. Mordo Deserves special mention at this point, by giving what was previously a sinister Evil twin to Strange, into a fully fleshed character and motivation in his own right . Fans of the comics know he becomes one of Strange’s greatest enemies, but here we see a partner more than rival and how he will develop in the future.

The story itself without the performances or the rich characterisation is pretty route. However, the Finale and the way the greater evil is defeated is something really setting up the tone for future Doctor Strange adventures.

A film cannot exist on its spectacle alone, but the spectacle in this is truly outstanding.  It’s very much like watching Ditko’s most fevered dreams smeared across in the screen in dazzling delight. As a side note, for an adaption that takes so many ques from the comics visually it was irritating to see the new Marvel studios intro logo. Rather than the montage of Doctor Strange comics within the letters, we get clips from various previous marvel films, a choice I feel distances the universe from its heritage and is a bit insulting. Having said that the changes it made with the original source has definitely contemporised the characters in a way that a more ‘trad’ telling would have been frankly questionable.

In short it has definatly reinvigorated my interest in the MCU and I look forward to further adventures of The dark/mirror/multiversal realms Strange Travels.

Suicide Squad review by Rob “The Encyclopedia” Deb ** 2 stars

It’s been a few days. I have recovered from what was an assault on taste, senses and storytelling so I feel I can now share.

The premise of the film is a classic outlaw staple in cinema from the Dirty Dozen to Battle Beyond the Stars to the upcoming Magnificent Seven. The notion of a ragtag bunch of outlaws being flung together to help save the world from a bigger evil, coupled with the recognition and iconic power of Harley Quinn, the Joker and Batman should have been enough to draw anyone in.

I went to a Friday afternoon screening filled with people who were so geared to love this film. They all came out sighing.

It’s not so much that it has no plot but rather that it is spread so thinly amongst the two hours of neon carnage it’s almost imperceptible. We take 20 minutes of establishing the characters, 15 of which are spent saying Deadshot loves his daughter, did we mention he loves his daughter, he shoots people, and he loves his daughter, and the other three on Harley Quinn being hot and the other two for the rest of the losers.
From this we follow the team from point A to point B. Really. Ultimately it’s a bunch of goons walking down a street. And then they get to the skyhole (as an aside I’m sick of fucking skyholes). The only redemptive part of this film is they don’t have a fight on a bridge or a train. But still. It’s another fucking skyhole.

This film felt like going round to a rich kid’s house who’s got a fantastic new console and the latest triple AAA release and spending two hours watching him play the game while you watch the fucking clock. Quicktime moments aplenty as this on rails platformer overdoses on gummy bears and glow sticks, throws them up, picks it up and throws it in your face.

Batman barely registers and The Joker adds nothing to the film. Nothing! I think he looks good and at first I thought he was terrible, on reflection that’s unfair as he does nothing to be terrible with.

suicide-squad-movie-2016-posterBy the time we get to the end people are assuming special abilities like Mario picking up a power pill as suddenly they go full on power rangers and shit super powers out their hot pants.

I give this film two stars for some of the lines, most of which you have seen in the trailer, and frankly for taking chances. They don’t pay off but its bold strokes. The D.O.P and casting have done a tremendous job but this is not so much a polished turd as one with rainbow sprinkles hidden on a Wurlitzer and you don’t know when it might hit you.
Since I saw the film many people have come out to defend it. I myself have some sympathy as I really enjoyed BvS. I don’t think this works though and the notion that it’s for the fans? Well I’m a fan, a fan of comic books and good films. This is neither. Avoid the big screen and wait for the stream.

** 2 stars

Daredevil series 2 Review by Andrew Roper

Matt Murdock is back.
Is the best superhero show on TV,  still the best?

Short answer, yes.Daredevil_season_2
Season Two of Daredevil has landed, let the bingeing commence. At first glance the second season isn’t a repeat of the first. It moves faster, it doesn’t linger quite so much on long conversations with priests or mentors, and it certainly doesn’t have a central villain of the stature of Wilson Fisk. Instead there’s new characters, and broader questions about the vigilante actions of Daredevil, who is now well and truly established in Hell’s Kitchen.
Of the new kids, John Bernthal gives us perhaps the best Punisher yet. Without a doubt it’s the most interesting take on the character. Almost immediately he clashes with Daredevil and sparks fly as two different ideologies go head to head. Much of this season rests on the shoulders of Frank Castle, and Bernthal handles it without missing a beat.
Add to that Elodie Yung as Elektra and suddenly Matt Murdock’s world looks very different. Sadly, Elektra struggles to reach the heights of the Punisher, and her character is probably the weak link of this series. Also in keeping with the slightly different tone, the show veers away from organized crime, and into ancient cults, and ninjas which may seem a little jarring for those not already fans of the Man without Fear.
Some things haven’t changed though, and the fight choreography is still the best of any superhero TV show, probably the best of any TV show, period. If anything, the sheer amount of fighting is more and the Punisher introduces a bloodier element to it all.
Daredevil, Elektra, Punisher, ninjas… You had me at hello.

I can’t help but wonder how Ben Affleck feels. The story always was that Affleck took the role of Daredevil in the movie, because he thought he’d never get to play Batman. Ironically, now he’s playing Batman, it’s not going so well, while Charlie Cox is knocking Daredevil out of the park.

Overall, if you’re worried that season two won’t live up to season one – relax. The DNA of Season One is still there, it still elevates the material to new heights, but this is not an exact copy and it delves even deeper into comicbook lore. Was Season One better? Hard to say, but one thing we can all agree on… bring on Season Three.

Batman vs Superman : Dawn of Justice review. A tale of two reviews

Batman-vs-Superman.1910x1000At no expense spared I flew two of my top reviewers to London and Australia to cover the premiers of Batman vs Superman Dawn of justice. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the quality of the beer, perhaps it was the ladies underwear they were wearing, but I ended up with two distinctly different reviews. Here they are, follow the bitch fight as they continue to argue in the comments. Feel free to pitch in.

BATMAN VS SUPERMAN ; DAWN OF JUSTICE by Rob Deb

Rating : 4/5
Almost three years on from its initial announcement this has probably been one of the most hotly anticipated films since with the exception of the Force Awakens. With this level of scrutiny one cannot help but feel that you have seen the film already and made your judgement call. Firstly you haven’t and second, it was Brave and the Bold wasn’t it?

From the outset Snyder returns to his favourite themes; that of Man vs. God. With an opening set piece reminiscent of Cloverfield the film starts during the final scenes of Man of Steel as we watch Bruce Wayne do his utmost to save all he can in the plight of the often commented on destruction.

The film sets a collision course from this point between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel; you will get to see the fight night bout you have been waiting for but there are a good 12 rounds to go before you see the final blow.

Wasting very little time on anything but the most elemental aspects of ‘Batman’ his character is a great take on the caped crusader; a little weary and very lost and still increasingly consumed by rage, Affleck does a great job of bringing out the feral charm of our anti-hero. He is painted almost as a timeless batman with scenes cut and cribbed from his entire publication run while boiling it down to a man driven to the edge for justice.

The film is primarily, first and foremost a Superman film. As Clark deals with the consequences of his actions and the scrutiny of the world. As the world comes to both see him as a Saviour and a menace at the same time.

The film is grandiose, colourful, audacious and admittedly absurd. But the through line and the plot exist on an operatic scale that is built for such things.
In regards to ‘world building’ there is a whole sense of a universe and alien worlds here.

Wonder Woman brings a much needed dimension to the piece while also creating more questions than answers and leaves me eager to see where that character goes. My reasons for not giving it five are more in the detail; ironically while the story is relatively linear, it’s when it attempts to restrain itself to plot in certain scenes it struggles. It’s a messy film ‘but a glorious ‘Eton Mess’ of a film and I would have liked to see it be allowed to expand on that aspect.

There weaknesses lie in Lois Lane, who is acted gamely by Amy Adams but does little to add to the story except in the most perfunctory manner, in many ways a wry ‘Alfred’ to the big blue boy scout. Jessie Eisenberg ..Well…I’m not a fan of his acting choices and while it’s a refreshing take on Lex Luther he lacks the sense of menace that I feel is so intrinsic to the character.

This film is a film of the heart and will leave you punch drunk with its audacity, a great one to see.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by Nik Coppin 2.5/5
Two things I said from the start. Ben Affleck will be a better Batman than people think. He was.
They have decided to put too much and too many characters in the movie. They did.
For a movie that was meant to be Batman versus Superman, we took a very long, convoluted and confusing time getting there, and when we did – courtesy of a quite ridiculous plan by Lex Luthor, they didn’t go at it very long.
Of course then Zack Snyder decided to have yet another darkness and flashing light show of levelling buildings. Why-oh-why with all of that, Zack? Again.
The characterisation of Diana Prince was good and our new Wonder Woman clearly has an interesting back story and potential for her movie, but her getting involved in the mass destruction dust-up with Doomsday the way she did was needless. She would’ve been better saved for later and just portrayed as an interesting and mysterious woman for now.
Too much about this movie didn’t make sense, but if they’d concentrated on what the title of the movie said it was going to be about and not getting all pre-Justice League on it, it could have done. It would have been a lot better too.
Sorry DC, but if anything, this has just proved again that you are simply too far behind Marvel and are not getting any closer to catching up.
Considering this was a match-up we’ve all been hoping and waiting for on the big screen for so long, it was very messy and disappointing.

Battle of Brighton

Battle of the Superheroes: Brighton

Heat One

So, Friday 29th May. The time 19:00 , the place the Quadrant in Brighton.

I am to compete in the Star Trek arena that is the superhero battle show. The audience the court of geek.

If you have never seen the show the premise is simple. 3 acts choose their best superhero to state their case and show how righteous they are. There is a short recess from the opening arguments where the audience are tested and then ask questions of them. Then it comes to the final where all the heroes stand up in front of the court and win via round of applause.

Now this is a multiverse competition, heroes from any publisher and medium are welcome. I had played the role Uatu in a number of the challenges in Edinburgh . I had tried to avoid doing this competition as it’s not really my thing, but the continual derision and comments about how I could be a judge without ever being a contestant was growing. Personally I feel that like when acts complain that reviewers are scum because they never did a gig but, mob rules in this world.
So I needed to win this, and win it with a character that would be so obscure, but not too obscure, so I chose Rom: Spaceknight.

Admittedly I felt Rom would not be that obscure because Andrew had already won with him once, and it also heightened the tension as if he succeeded where I had failed I would be relegated to the zone of continued with the Primark poseurs of comic books for thinking I could judge.

So With 40 odd issues of Rom comics, bagged and boarded in my hand I set off on my epic voyage.
I would be competing against Rik Carranza who was bringing ‘Batman’ and Ant McEwan who would be bringing ‘Ant-Man’ two movie deal bastards against my simple rubber toy.

Paul Revill was MC and thus the adventure begins;

PART THE FIRST.
Paul started the show with his high energy ways, I had gotten my bag ready of ROM but I came overloaded. Paul asked a few questions and established this was a bunch of cinematic universe goers, although he did not notice the reference to David Hasselhoff one true believer threw in as the best Nick Fury ever.

I walked onto the stage with a Forbidden Planet bag in hand and started. I pulled out bagged and boarded ROMs to what I was hoping to be gasps of surprise.
No, they seemed scared and confused. I had overblown them by actually talking about comics. Then when trying to explain Rom and his work I slowly realised when explaining dire wraiths as a form of SKRULL. They did not know what SKRULLS were. I bleakly started just showing them covers to bring back the room with some vigour, even misnoticing one lead villain as Absorbing Man in my haste.
I left the stage tepid, and feared the future of the Spaceknight.

Then Rik ‘The Kid’ Carranza walked on, shouted ‘I’m Batman’ did a mic drop and walked off. This alone could have won it for him. He went on to espouse everything people like about Batman and even a few things they don’t, particularly his lack of keeping sidekicks alive. He even threw in real stories not just movies to prove himself. Although it was as he mentioned ‘Tower of Babel’ I knew that could be his undoing.

Ant McEwan , who did pop in and had only knew a little as he came in as a substitute. Ant-Man is never to be underestimated though and Ants own charm gave him more then a small chance of putting me in third place.

I knew I would have to work hard in the debate but before that came the audience quiz. Time for me to regroup my best covers of Rom and watch what happened.

PART THE SECOND.
More an intermission then an Interval as Paul started to test the crowd on their knowledge of comics. Name a few places, name a few films. But the best was three randoms who came up and each declaring a special ability , two guys who said “getting a round in” and “catching the bus” respectively and one lady who claimed her super power was “her chest”.

Unfortunately her chest was deflated after the opening heat question, name five black superheroes.
She could not think of one, came off stage, thought of one, then came back said Storm, then fluffed the 2nd round. It almost went wrong when one of the contestants said Green Lantern and Paul did not know that there were black Green Lanterns. Technically speaking they’re all green but you get the drift.

But after this interval of distraction trinkets we moved on to the bit I had to do my best for the legacy of all Spaceknights. The debate.

PART THE THIRD: ROMS REVENGE.

So it begins. We each talk a bit more about our characters. Batman pointed out I began as a toy, claiming I was a cheap 70’s rampant rabbit. I countered after he banged on about the charity work of the Wayne Foundation that Batman was the Jimmy Savile of superheroes given the abuse of the Ward’s. Ant-Man tried to say he does “like good stuff and that” to which I said “like beating your wife”. Things got tense and harsh and the questions required us to give a manifesto. I pulled out all the stops, name checking Bill Mantlo, saying if you don’t like toys you don’t like proper Transformers. And even when Paul thought it was getting too heated pointing out the strength of the other contenders. It was an even race until Batman pulled out a Rom replant water pistol and blasted me. Imagine Batman reduced to using a gun. I ignored it and went on with dignity but it was now in the hands of the mob.

PART THE FOURTH.

Applause came for Batman and Ant-Man, then it got to me….I WON! Well I say me, ROM won! By a clear margin, I was delighted, vindicated and happy I would never have to deal with the question about would I win. I DID

It was a delight and the never ending battle continues for Rom, not in movies, not in key chains, but simply, in comics.

The best place of them all!

The end

 

Rob Deb

 

Heat Two

 

After its Australian escapades Battle of Superheroes returned to UK shores, specifically to the Brighton Fringe. And in a room above a small pub in Brighton, the comic book universe would be rocked by an upset of oceanic proportions.

With regular show host Nik Coppin galavanting on the other side of the world, it was left to Robyn Perkins to host the proceedings. Yet despite her criminal lack of superhero knowledge, she ably guided the audience and two new acts through the debate.

The two newbies were James Bennison representing Hawkeye and Kahn Johnson representing Daredevil. Completing the line up was me, the perennial loser, yet to record a single victory in countless attempts. If this was to change I would clearly have to up my game but, always up for a challenge, and yet almost already conceding defeat, I opted to represent the joke of the comic universe. Yes, I decided to represent Aquaman.

Surely two characters from the more popular Marvel universe. Two characters who were popular in the mainstream thanks to the Avengers movies and the new Daredevil series. Surely these two would have no problem against a character whos main weakness is dehydration.

Despite their attempts to play the disability card, with Daredevil’s blindness and Hawkeye’s deafness, both of them fell to the ruler of the sea, whose only weapon on the day was a Poundland bought water pistol.

All that was left was for me to question why did Brighton vote for Aquaman to win that night when 24 hours previously they had voted for ROM Spaceknight over the Dark Knight himself. The answer was quickly provided by Kahn Johnson, Brightons by the sea isnt it.

Rik Carranza

Heat 3

Sadly, do to the absence of a hero having to pull out at the last minute due to personal issues, heat 3 could not take place.

Therefore, Rob Deb’s Rom and Rik Carranza’s Aquaman may be invited back in September, along with the winner or the Edinburgh season to do battle with each other for the brighton crown.

Watch this space!

Nik Coppin

Cool Melbourne Battle

And so it goes that the Battle of the Superheroes road train crosses yet another state line from South Australia into Victoria.
Enter the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
The 120-capacity venue was never full, but it wasn’t anywhere near as hot as Perth and Adelaide. A much cooler affair indeed.  The weather in Melbourne is much cooler and changeable at this time of year. At every time of year actually. Don’t let anybody from Melbourne tell you that their weather is all sunshine and unicorns. It isn’t.

Anyway, to business.
With Micah Higbed’s Hulk, Angus Hodge’s Beast, Jon Bennett’s Teen Wolf and Kaiser Seizure’s Lobo all taking the first four heats, we were looking at a rather scary and monstrous final indeed.
Yes, these angry and hairy characters swept aside big guns like Captain America, The Punisher, Daredevil and even Adelaide on-the-night Champion the Human Torch to get to the Grand Final.
It wasn’t until previous two-time finalist Superman, represented by Canadian Eric Arsenault put down a challenge from Bananaman (yep, we always get one) and Dick Grayson that we finally had a clean-cut heat winner.
The penultimate heat – aptly billed as the ‘Battle of the Big Guns’ – saw Marvel’s biggest, The Amazing Spider-Man, represented by John Burgos make it to his second final by taking down DC’s biggest, the Caped Crusader, Batman, represented in disturbing black mask and tights by Edinburgh season co-compere Jamie McCarney.
Deadpool represented by Aiden Pyne made up the numbers in that mighty heat with silly stories of shooting Spider-Man in the face and killing him (ridiculous if entertaining comic book that was) as well as  trying to garner the sympathy vote by claiming his character has cancer. Very low indeed. Low low low.
The final heat proved to be probably the most colourful of them all, with Andrew Roper donning Iron Man T-shirt and helmet, and Lisa Fineberg turning up in full She-Ra costume.
It was reasonably close between the two, but Iron Man proved to be just too strong for the impressive She-Ra. This colourful heat would have also been graced by another of Marvel’s big guns, Wolverine, but Tim Motley dropped out due to sickness.
So much for the famed fast healing powers of said X-Man hero! A last-minute replacement of Groot barely scratched the surface of his two bright and marvelous competitors.
So the Grand Final line-up was thus:
Micah Higbed – Hulk
Angus Hodge – Beast
Jon Bennett – Teen Wolf
Eric Arsenault – Superman
John Burgos – Spider-Man
As with Adelaide, you will notice an absentee from the line-up. That indeed was Andrew Roper’s Iron Man, who had to get his red boots on and fly back to the Gold Coast.
Still, five proved to be more than enough for a fantastic Grand Final, which saw Eric Arseneault do as the excellent Lisa Fineberg had done and turn out in full Superman costume. This was not enough to take the Melbourne title however. After a humdinger of a final laced with many laughs and powerful arguments the winner was John Burgos representing The Amazing Spider-Man!
I do need to add for those asking the question – as they did at the time – that I in no way influenced the outcome. Just making that clear.
However, I can’t lie and say I didn’t have a massive cheer on the inside when the votes came in, but verily, ’twas an impassioned, funny and knowledgeable stand-up set and interactive debate that saw Mr Burgos take the honours quite convincingly. And he didn’t even need to try and to blind Superman with silly string to do it.
The highlight of the final and probably funniest moment was where Eric’s Superman got stuck on a question from the audience about why he is susceptible to the radiation of Kryptonite. Stumbling over his words and just about to be jumped on by the audience and his fellow finalists, John Burgos weighed in with “Don’t worry Superman, I got this”, and proceeded to ‘scientifically’ explain why it is that Superman can be killed by rocks from his very own home planet.
Thereby very magnanimously and hilariously helping himself towards the honour of being Melbourne’s champion in an audience vote that really left it in no doubt who the winner should be.
Nik Coppin