Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Triple Feature: Batman: The Killing Joke, Star Trek: Beyond, Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens

With summer starting to wind down, here are the last few big movies of the season.

My God, summer is always a hectic few months. With big movies releasing every week or so, it can be incredibly hard to keep up with every single release. Sometimes here just aren't enough hours in the day to see everything and write a review for each, so it's time for another Triple Feature, where I can just talk for a little bit about each movie then swiftly move on. We've got a good movie, a bad movie, and a weird movie this time, so let's dive right in!

Batman: The Killing Joke (Released July 25th, 2016)

The Killing Joke is a movie that I absolutely love to death, but at the same time despise it with a burning passion. The original graphic novel is probably one of the best Joker stories of all time and is often regarded as being one of the best comics ever made. It's dark, highly controversial, and set a new status quo for the Joker that hasn't been tampered with ever single, that being that the Joker is a vicious psychopath that goes beyond the darkness into pure and utter evil. It's a fantastic comic to read, and the movie is no different. It's a faithful adaptation of the novel that delivers on Alan Moore's original story... for about 2/3'rds of it.

The first third of the movie isn't actually a retelling of The Killing Joke, but rather a brief little story for Barbara Gordon to allow us to become more attached to her before she's crippled, raped, and used as a tool by the Joker in order to drive her father insane. The Killing Joke is a terrible Barbara Gordon story that's so bad that it has permanently damaged her character and took a fantastic female character and made her into a little device to advance the plot at the expense of her own mobility. And somehow the first third of this movie is even more damaging to Barbara Gordon than the original story. 

In the movie, Barbara Gordon is objectified, is gawked at by a low life, no name villain, is drugged with the intention of raping her, and paints her as being emotionally weak and quite literally has sex with Batman... a man who is like a second father to her and is half his age. And her father is one of Batman's best friends. Yeah. I absolutely despise the intro to The Killing Joke because of how disgusting it is to Barbara Gordon's character, which is a damned shame because when the movie actually decides to retell The Killing Joke, it's astonishingly good. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy return to voice The Joker and Batman respectively, and Hamill dominates the movie as the clown prince of crime. It's truly magnificent to watch him get back into the Joker shoes again, but I can't say that this movie is truly a work of art because of the repulsive first 20 minutes. Highly recommended, but when you get the DVD, skip to the beginning of the actual story and not the weak sauce intro. 

Star Trek: Beyond (Released July 22nd, 2016)
Star Trek: Beyond is simply a good Star Trek movie, Given that this is the franchise's 50th anniversary, a huge feat no matter how you look at it, Star Trek: Beyond had a lot to live up to. By the end of the movie, I was fully satisfied, but didn't exactly walk away stunned or in love with what I saw.

The reboot universe, which comprises of this film, Into Darkness, and the 2009 reboot, haven't exactly been great movies, but with the exception of Into Darkness, weren't exactly bad movies. The biggest problems from the reboot series is that the new cast aren't that interesting to watch, it's more interested in retelling classic Star Trek stories than making its own unique ones, and that there's a strange lack of iconic Star Trek aspects. Yes the Enterprise is there and classic elements like Tribbles, beaming, and warp speed still remain, but the Klingons have only appeared briefly in the first movie, barely any mentions have been made to the Romulans, and unless you were in the original series, you were not mentioned at all. So the Borg, the Q Continuum, and pretty much all of Deep Space Nine and Voyager have been left in the dust.

Beyond is a fairly strong action movie, but it has a lot more in common with Star Trek: Nemesis than anything else. It's fairly action packed, has light moral discussions and brief thematic elements questioning the nature of Star Fleet and the whole mission statement of "to boldly go where no man has gone before", but that's about it. Throw in some pretty solid comedy with the crew, like having Spock and McCoy stranded together on a hostile alien planet, and you have a recipe for a fun ride, but not exactly Wrath of Khan or First Contact levels of quality.

Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens (Released July 31st, 2016)
Another year, another Sharknado movie. Yes, you can moan and groan as much as possible, but there is a rabid fanbase of people that need a yearly summer fix of stupid shark action or else risk dying from withdrawal. I would say that I am one of those people, but I unfortunately am not anymore. I still love Sharknado 2: The Second One with a burning passion, but Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens is pure and utter crap with little to no redeeming features at all.

It may seem a bit harsh, but as bizarre as it is to say, I expect more from my bad movies. At least the original Sharknado was kind of serious for a bit and the second one found the perfect balance between ridiculousness and seriousness, but The 4th Awakens is just insincere. Everything seems custom made to be as ridiculous as possible, but without the charm. Seeing the cast fight against multiple sharknados made of lava, hail, lightning, and nuclear waste should be fun, but it felt like that was what the movie was all about. The spectacle and stupidity without the substance. As much as we may not want to admit it, the Sharknado series had substance. It had a burning passion for being as crazy a possible, but in new and fun ways. Seeing Biz Markie stab a shark and throw it into a pizza oven while continuing a normal conversation is perfect. Here, there is no "Hell yeah!" moment. It's just stupidity on top of stupidity.

Case in point, the very end of the movie. At the end, one character jumps into a robot suit with chainsaw arms to fight the sharknado while our other main character flies around after being turned into a cyborg and fights the sharknado with laser beams and a light saber. I didn't think it was possible for Sharknado to jump the shark, but it did. It has become too ridiculous for its own good, settling as being stupid instead of balancing it with hilarious action. The effects were even worse than before, it had a screaming kid for the majority of the movie, and the movie made me shake my head way more than it should have. I came in hyped, and with a fifth one confirmed, I'm just deflated. This series got old really fast. Good job on killing such a wild ride Syfy.




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