Justice League: War (2014) – Moments of Charm But “The New 52” Brooding Brings Down

Justice League War

      Outside of “Batman: Under the Red Hood” I haven’t really checked out much of the DC Animated Universe outside of the Bruce Timm Universe which is one of my favorite animated universes and is truly the best of the DC Universe outside of the Batman Nolanverse. This a film with “New 52” vibes as all the characters are amped up and they are in a universe that isn’t a fan of them…so from the beginning it is starting out dark, which has been the whole theme of the new DC run of “The New 52.” There are some good moments in this, but the grim dark really brings it down.

     The film was directed Jay Oliva and written by Heath Corson and produced by Sam Register, James Tucker and Alan Burnett and based off the comic series “Justice League: Origin” by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams.

    The story involves the Justice League coming together as they face off against one another to face the greater threat of Darkseid and his alien invasion.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation is beautiful and is one of the best parts of the film. The animation flows, tonally it keeps the dark and shadows of this new universe  and the action is great.

The Action – The action is also one of the best parts of this film. The fights between our heroes and against the alien invasion flow nicely and you feel the punches and destruction on the screen.

Green Lantern – Hal Jordan is likable in this as Batman is his mentor figure as he learns to rise to leadership among the rag tag group of outcasts. He’s a great character and I liked that he felt so weak around the others and kept trying to make up for it by jumping into battle. His dynamic with Batman is really what made him enjoyable though.

Batman – Batman is the cool head in this who knows who all of the Justice League are and helps Hal Jordan rise to the challenge and begin working with the others on the team. In this his lack of super-humanity is played up and he wins through dialogue most of the time. He’s also pretty respectful too. The one thing that felt off is when he says his name and motivations (I became Batman to avenge my murdered parents) to Hal, if I was Hal that wouldn’t make me feel any less comfortable with him being “Mr. Spooky.”

Okay/Pro: The Flash – The Flash is alright but it feels like a lot of his positive and snark were picked up by Hal Jordan instead, so he is never allowed to become the full person he is on a team in other versions of the character. I like that we see his life as a civilian though and the fact that Batman respects his work and vise versa.

Cyclops – Cyclops is the superhero who never chose to be one as it was in a fit of anger that he is warped by technology his father is studying. He is the closest thing to a main character the movie has but he still feels underdeveloped. Beyond impressing his father, he doesn’t really have a motivation.

The Cons: Shazam – Shazam is a little kid who turns into a superhero who idealizes Cyclops from when he was a football star and now that he’s a superhero. His character creeps on Wonder Woman and as a kid he’s just annoying. Seriously, I really hope this character doesn’t get his own film.

Darkseid – Darkseid is weak. The Justice League takes out his eyes and knocks him back into his portal. Most of his power is from his alien army and outside of that he’s pretty forgettable. Never felt like he’d be all that much of threat given he’d been handled better in Bruce Timm’s DCAU and the comics.

Wonder Woman – This film plays up Wonder Woman being a woman out of time (kind of a Thor like character) but never fully explores it. I felt like we never got to fully know her character and motivations beyond her feeling like she’s fighting among the gods. What doesn’t help is how most of the male superheroes objectify her.

Superman – The guys a creep who doesn’t care about controlling his power. Seriously, this version of him is a douchebro. He’s creepy and eyeing Wonder Woman, he’s beating on the other heroes because he can…I really hate this version of him. Seriously, give me the Bruce Timm one or one who still remembers who the ideal hero is.

Every Guy Wants to be with Wonder Woman – This is a Justice League Team with 6 men and 1 women, at least 5 of the men want to be with Wonder Woman…what the hell? You don’t even know her. This was really annoying and I hated how each was either trying to impress her or act like they owned her feelings (Superman, seriously screw that guy). It was uncomfortable and it was hard to believe they’d ever become a team with them already objectifying one of their Team Members during an alien invasion.

The Dialogue – The dialogue is really stilted and took me out of the film on more than one occasions. There are often awkward pauses and some things people say don’t feel natural at all.

This was a film that okay in the end. When it managed to give time to develop it’s heroes I felt like I could appreciate what it was trying to do. Sadly the eyeing of Wonder Woman (almost as if ownership over her (disgusting)) pulled me out of that though. In the end it felt like so many of them were competing and because of this all the civilians dying around them during the invasion were completely forgotten. This also happens when Superman fights Green Lantern and Batman…it’s like he’s out of “Man of Steel” as he cares nothing for the buildings he destroys when fighting people who are just trying to figure out what’s going on, just like him. In the end, it’s up to you if you want to see it. It’s hard to really recommend either way as there is so much to dislike even though some things were done alright.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Eraserhead (1977): Man’s Lonely Disconnected Life

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“In Heaven, everything is fine…in heaven…”

-The Pixies

What is life? It is hope, despair, loss, something else or something more? In David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” the answer is despair. I’m going to give a spoiler warning here since it impossible to give a good review and assesment of this movie without giving away the plot. The story is about a man named Henry who is disconnected from all those around him, he learns that he had a child with his girlfriend…this child is Eraserhead…a misshaped creature that represents him and his world. It ends with him killing the child and the implication of himself later as the final scene is him with the mysterious woman who sings at one point in the movie that in heaven everything is fine with them hugging behind a white screen (that may be heaven).

I am a fan of David Lynch. One of my favorite shows is “Twin Peaks,” but where “Twin Peaks” kind of lost focus second season this movie is focused and true to it’s theme the entire way through even as it is extremely surreal and mixes dreams and reality at multiple points…which is very Lynchian.

The film was written, directed and produced by David Lynch.

The story is about Spencer who is isolated from his wife and her family and becomes moreso after his wife gives birth to the mutant Eraserhead. From here he must care for his baby as he finds himself more isolated from everyone around him as the line between dream and reality blurs.

The Pros: The cinematography – “Eraserhead” is beautifully filmed. It is in black and white and uses the shadows to it’s advantage so that the dream world overlaps with the nightmarish dreamworld since both are dark and twisted. It can’t help but draw you in.

The music – The creepy soundtrack adds to theme of disconnect and separation that pervades the film. What songs there are, The Pixies “In Heaven” as an example is presented in an ironic way and makes you question whether there is even a heaven in the universe in the film.

The Story – Is succinct and is good at getting it’s message across. The themes are layered in regards to the disconnect and despair and when something major happens, it just goes deeper into the mind of Henry.

The Theme – The theme of disconnect and loneliness was great as we see Eraserhead and his Father being cut off from everyone and only having one another. It’s powerful as we see what loneliness does to the mind as Eraserhead and his father continue to break down more and more in their isolation.

Okay: The actors – They weren’t really memorable. They did their parts well, but I have no desire to see them in anything else. They didn’t make the source material deeper besides the main lead. The rest were simply additions of his mind almost, which was most likely purposeful.

Cons: The theme – Not in regards to myself. I actually really enjoyed it, but a fair warning to anyone else. Lynch is not for everyone. So the dark and despair may not be your thing for an outing into the mind of a fascinating and talented director.

I would highly recommend this film. It is good at making it’s point and is a powerful exploration of a poor, lonely, disconnected man and the child he helps bring into the world. It can be seen in relation to us to a degree, though I for one tend to see that the human relationships that do exist counteract the disconnect that so often crops up in all of our lives. I would recommend this movie in the exploration of the disconnect and the strange and would this movie is a great introduction to the works of David Lynch.

I would rate this movie 8.75 / 10. Definitely a recommend.