Monday, March 28, 2016

The origins of #Athena...amalgam of Thor & Wonder Woman

   

    #Athena, daughter of Zeus, a motherless offspring who burst forth from her father's forehead, brought art, wisdom, and literature to ancient Greece.  A valiant but cautious warrior, she was given the gifts of an unbreakable mirrored shield and enchanted sword, able to cut through any material both in heaven and on earth, by her half-brother Perseus.   Her beloved sibling ensured that Zeus blessed these crafts so that only someone as worthy as Athena could wield them. 

     Zeus' became more and more cynical about the fate of mankind, as humanity lost increasing interest and respect for their Greek Gods.  Angered by their lack of faith, he threatened to destroy every inhabitant of the planet he was charged with protecting.  Forced by her father's violent animosity, Athena led a revolution against him on Mt. Olympus that spanned the nine realms of the universe.   In the end, many of her fellow deities were destroyed, including her dear brother, but the victory was obtained.
 
     Zeus, though indestructible, surrendered to his daughter's demands to end the bloodshed and preserve their celestial kingdom.   The remaining Greek Gods forged a treaty with the kings of the earth to never again interfere in their existence.  Only Hades, Athena's one-time love and trickster ruler of the underworld refused to come into accord, and for that, he was stripped of all power.   Left with nothing more to oversee from the peaks of Olympus, Athena descended to earth to hide among the humans she so dearly cared for.   She denied her birthright and became an archeologist, so she could mortally protect the virtue of history.   But her heart still longed for her lost love; despite his devious ways.  

       For centuries she dwelled among humanity, unnoticed, continually changing her identity to hide her true legacy.   It was only until World War II began that she realized that she would have to intervene again, as an evil despot threatened the entire world with the assistance of his vile enforcers; The Legion of Hydra.   She joined a ragtag bunch of NATO rogues and helped destroy Hydra and its many heads.  After all, this version, though terrifying, was far less horrific than the monster she had faced with Hercules in the past.  

     But she was later betrayed by the leader of her team, in the hopes of capturing her and studying her god-like powers to duplicate and weaponize.   She quickly escaped the treachery and disappeared among the populous of war-torn Europe, never to be seen again.   The Legion of Hydra was later defeated by the #DarkAvenger and his team.  But Athena's comrades were killed by the very man who deceived her; murders that still haunt her to this day.  Her Judas would later flee with the intent to build his own army, becoming the notorious Andrew Forson, director of the Academy of A.I.M, a training ground for rogue scientists and mercenaries with no allegiance.   

    Disillusioned with the mortals she had sworn to protect; Athena became an antiquities dealer under various alias, feeling more comfortable among the cold and inanimate objects of the past than the self-destructive humans that she once sympathized with and fought her father for.  Today she is known as Diana Masterson, architect and art dealer.  

     But it was the day she met scientist Dr. Steve Foster that her entire world was turned upside down.  Dr. Foster had discovered undeniable evidence that Mt. Olympus and the Nine Realms existed, as well as, their Infinity Boxes, objects that held all the powers of the cosmos.    With her reputation preceding her, he came to validate the genuineness of an antique etching that gave the dimensional location of Mt. Olympus and instructions on how to build a machine that could generate a celestial doorway to it.   Recognizing the tablet and its author, Hades, who had scribed it to expose her home's location as vengeance against Zeus; Athena realized that if Foster could obtain the technology, then the entire universe could be in jeopardy. 

     Before she could act, a thief, calling herself The Lady Cheetah, stole the artifact for her secret benefactor.  Athena knew she had to recover it, but it required her to reveal all of her secrets and heritage to Foster.  After doing so, and with some convincing through a demonstration of her abilities, Foster agreed to assist her.  He contacted one of his friends, a trusted Agent of Justice, Phil Pennyworth; former British Intelligence and current partner of the recently resuscitated #DarkAvenger.  

     They meet with the leader of Agents of Justice, Nick Gordon, to formulate a plan to retrieve the dangerous item.  In the process, Gordon realized this could be the first mission for his newly assembled #LeagueofAvengers.  After informing #Athena of his newest task force, she agreed to join, with the understanding that once the tablet was destroyed, she could return to her life of anonymity.  And so #Athena dons her enchanted armor again, embracing her true persona as the goddess of Greece committed to the causes of Truth, Justice, and Freedom for all of earth and beyond.     

The origins of #TheBehemoth...amalgam of Hulk and Superman

    
     Kal-El was just an infant when his father Jor-El sent him away, via an advanced space vessel, from their dying planet of Krypton.  As he traversed the multiple galaxies, through many years, on a destination to the alien planet of Earth; his safety pod passed through a strange anomaly that inundated the craft and child with potent gamma rays.  These wavelengths altered young Kal-El's DNA. 

     His vessel crash landed on earth near the home of biochemist Jonathan Clark Banner, who discovered both the fallen craft and emerging toddler.   The impact frightened the child who transformed into a strange green creature capable of immense strength.  But Banner was able to calm the mutated being, gradually returning him to his humanoid state.  Fearing for the alien child's safety, Jonathan and his wife Martha raised the toddler as their own. 

     As time progressed, Jonathan worked with his adopted son to help him focus his incredible abilities and dangerous emotions.  On top of the Herculean strength that, the orphan now named Clark exhibited when angered or severely stressed, he possessed heat vision, could freeze items with his breath, is utterly invincible, and, even more unbelievably, could run at speeds beyond sound and fly, yes, fly, just as fast.  Soon, young Clark learned to control the raging beast within him, able to transform into this hulk while still maintaining his normal consciousness and intelligence.  He also disciplined himself to use his other super abilities with the same acuteness.  Because he tore out of his clothes with each transformation, Martha, his mother, crafted a suit from the alien linens left in the derelict craft, that could be worn under his terrestrial garments.  And so the uniform that would be become a staple of his extraordinary presence was created.  

     Realizing he was destined to do greater things, Clark pledged himself to become a defender of his new home, a devotion bolstered by his father's death.  Finding a strange crystal among his earthly father's belongings that had been retrieved from the demolished craft; Clark voyaged to the top of the earth, the Arctic Circle.  There, after activating the crystal, he created his Sanctuary, where all Kryptonian knowledge was now archived.  He learned of his past and a call to protect humanity from enemies both outside and from within. 

     Leaving the solitude of his Sanctuary, he ventured to Metropolis to become a reporter for the Daily Planet under the watchful and sarcastic eye of its chief editor Perry Jameson.   There he met one of his love interests, Mary Jane Lane, a veteran reporter as fiery as her vibrant crimson hair.   Mary Jane had a habit of choosing the most dangerous assignments and the last one nearly cost her life. 

     While investigating corruption at Wilson Luthor's labs, a.k.a the alleged Kingpin, her choppers navigation systems were overridden by a strange signal shutting down all controls.  The helicopter plummeted, but Clark seeing the incident from the street below, swung into immediate action.  Speeding down an alley, he transformed into his secret identity and leaped up to the rapidly descending aircraft.  Saving both the craft and Lane in the process, the crowds below cheered and wondered who this frighteningly noble creature was. 

     Able to conceal his true identity thanks to his monstrous masquerade; Lane grateful thanked her savior and coined his now famous persona #TheBehemoth, because of his appearance and unimaginable abilities.  Soon after, #TheBehemoth began fighting against Luthor's criminal forces. 

     Wilson Luthor is a brilliant villain who made his millions selling advanced weaponry to the highest bidders.  Although most knew him as a selfless billionaire philanthropist, Clark and Lane had uncovered his dealings as the nefarious Kingpin.  #TheBehemoth was winning the war against his nemesis until Luthor joined forces with the most powerful and insidious terrorist organization in the history of the world, the newly resurrected Legion of Hydra; whose vile members were so impressed with Luthor's presence and power they immediately made them their leader. 

     Now with nearly unlimited finances and resources, in addition to the assistance from a mysterious and mighty alien being know only as The Dark Titan, The Legion of Hydra threatens to take over the world or destroy it, whichever comes first.  That was until, Nick Gordon recruited #TheBehemoth to join his new team; the #LeagueofAvengers, a group of uniquely powerful individuals determined to stop the forces of evil and dedicated to the principles of Truth, Justice, and Freedom.

The origins of #DarkAvenger...amalgam of Captain America and Batman

 




































     Bruce Rogers father, a brilliant biochemist was kidnapped by the Legion of Hydra and forced to create the Dark Knight Serum, a genetic enhancement that turns ordinary men into nearly indestructible super soldiers.  But the leader of Hydra was too greedy and power hunger to wait for completed experiments and administered the serum to himself.  The effects were immediate, providing him amplified strength, senses, speed, endurance, and healing.  However, there were some nasty side effects.  The serum's toxicity sheered the dermis away from his face exposing tightened warped muscle while bleaching it snow white; leaving him with a twisted expression of horrid delight.   The accident drove him insane, and he was committed to a Nazi Asylum.

     Bruce's father escaped with the help of a secret American elite squadron called the Agents of Justice led by Agent Martha Carter.  Thomas Rogers then perfected the formula for the Americans, but it was stored until appropriate candidates could be selected for trials.  Thomas and Martha married soon after.  Five years later the former and disavowed leader of the Legion of Hydra escaped from his captivity and fled to the United States to exact his revenge on the Roger's family.  Taking on the mantra of a childhood fear, he died his lips blood red and colored his face to mimic the same clowns that tormented his young dreams.  Permanently affixing an emerald green wig to his head, he donned the name the Laughing Skull and, using his mastery of chemistry and engineering, created terrifyingly maniacal weaponry to ensure the death of his enemies.

     He went to the Rogers home where Bruce, his young wife, and newborn child were visiting.  Bruce had already left for the evening to, again, secretly attempt to join the military in their fight against the Nazi's and their tyranny.  Cursed with a fragile form and a myriad of health problems he had been rejected too many times to remember.  But with the help of his friend Bucky Wilson, he was able to attempt enlistment.  During his latest try, he was spotted by a scientist named  Jonathan Banner, who was one of two others who had worked with Bruce's father to perfect the serum.  Rounding out their triad was the arrogant but brilliant billionaire engineer and entrepreneur Howard "Hal" Jordan.   Johnathan saw something in Bruce and believed he could be the answer they were looking for in selecting the right person to undergo the trials but knew Thomas would never approve.    After rejecting Bruce's application, he sent him away, notifying him that if he tried again, he would have to involve the authorities.

     Discouraged, defeated, Bruce made it home only to find the devastation the Laughing Skull had left behind.  The Roger's residence was in flames, and neither Bruce or his friend Bucky were able to traverse the flames to save his family.   The lunatic left his calling card, the Joker's playing card, behind so that the surviving member of the family would know who had murdered them so brutally with the full confidence that their meek son would never be able to stop him.  Afterward, the Laughing Skull began a terror spree to bring down the nation from the inside.

     With no one able to stop him, because of an intelligence equaled only by his insanity, Banner and Jordan made a drastic decision.  They pushed forward the Dark Knight serum trials and chose young Bruce as the first test subject.  He unrelentingly agreed, and the experiment began.  It was a complete success as Bruce became the perfect specimen of a man, 10x's stronger than the strongest human on the planet, able to run at remarkable speeds, heal at an impossible rate, and endure indescribable pain.

     But after the experiment, he fled, fearing his rage would consume him and make him a threat instead of a hero.  He did not stop until he found the most remote place on earth.  Hiding in a the distant land of Nanda Parbat he was discovered by the ancient blind leader of the League of the Chaste.  Known only as Stick, the wise and skilled sensei took pity on the young man and agreed to train him to focus his anger and new-found abilities with the promise that he would someday assist him in stopping Hive's Hand; an evil organization bent on world domination.  Bruce agreed, and Stick trained him for two years; training that would have taken even an extraordinary man a lifetime to achieve.

     Stick's final words to Bruce was to become the greatest weapon that the universe possessed; fear.  That the man who could bring fear to fear itself would be unstoppable.  Bruce remembered as a child he was bitten by a bat and because of his weakly state, it became infected, nearly taking his life from its spread.  Learning about the Laughing Skull from Stick and files from the Agents of Justice, he discovered the cause of the monster's sinister secret.  Deciding to use the Skulls own tactics against him; he faced his own fears and built a persona around them.   The thing that nearly killed him would become his greatest strength.

     So, he became the #DarkAvenger and him, Bucky, and their team expeditiously, relentlessly dismantled the Skull's burgeoning syndicate, eventually capturing and locking him away in the Phoenix Complex; a mega prison for the most horrendous of villains.  However, the Laughing Skull did not go quietly, first killing Bucky and then leaving one last "joke" for Bruce to find.

     He had placed a bomb on a nuclear-powered test place flying over the Antarctic.  The guidance systems had been sabotaged to ensure the flight plan would take it right over Gotham and crash, detonating and killing millions.  Bruce was able to get on board the plane and commandeer its controls, ensuring it would never leave the icy tundra. He disarmed the nuclear reactor, but the bomb went off disabling the aircraft, sending it hurdling into the frozen waters below.  Bruce could not escape in time.

     His body was discovered 70 years later by the newest leader of the Agents of Justice, Nick Gordon.   Because of the serum, he survived in the ice and never aged.  By the same token, the Laughing Skull remained as youthful as their last encounter and had escaped with the help of the newly refounded Legion of Hydra.  Gordon revived Bruce and after an uncomfortable acclimation; explained all that had happened.  He then told Bruce about a new team he was forming, one he wanted him to lead; the League of Avengers.

     Bruce knew what had to be done.  The Laughing Skull had to be stopped a final time, and Bucky and his family's death avenged.  And so the #DarkAvenger returned to lead the most incredible and powerful individuals on the planet to ensure Truth, Justice, and Freedom reigns!    

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

     In all honesty, and to allow for total transparency, I went into this hating almost every aspect of this much-anticipated meeting between two comic juggernauts.  The trailers were disappointing, casting frustrating, and the preceding Man of Steel was one of the worst films comic or otherwise; nearly reaching a point of pure blasphemy when it comes to disrespecting such an iconic character.   So with that said, the highest expectation I had was below none.  However, by credits end, I was left in a precarious dilemma as defining this newest installment was not an easy task, by any measure.  All one can do is compare it to past DC silver screen incarnations and to the current scope and sweep of films of this genre.  To merely critique it based on film basics is unfair, as rarely does any production of this genus color within the cinematic guidelines.   So, I will try to break it down as best as I can, delicately separating the high points from the unforgiveables.  Please prepare for mild spoilers as there is no way to adequately analyze this picture without revealing some key plot points and character details.

     We will begin with the cast.  To start off, and I can't believe that I am saying this, but Affleck is a pretty terrific Bruce Wayne.  He embodies the fullness of Frank Miller's grimmer, coarse, and oft-brutal manifestation, grizzled by loss and a perpetual battle against crime and corruption.  There are hints to the tragedies that have shaped this more violent, dejected, and cynical Caped Crusader and Ben wholly fleshes that out, all the while, maintaining the charm and humanity of the character.   But that is outside of the cowl and cape.  The costuming is so laughable that it severely damages his remarkable performance.  His mask is too tight, making every facial expression look like fatigue from chronic constipation.  The remaining ensemble is so drab and uninspired, it steals away all the edge and ferociousness of the tortured vigilante.  It's hard to be the embodiment of fear when you look like you are wearing a caped onesie.   Now, I give points to his latter battle armor, but it's far too little too late.

     Eisenberg's Mad Hatter version of Luthor is a mixed bag of accolades and irritations.  He brings a gradual lunacy to the character which some have objected to.  However, lest we not forget; Hackman also gave us a tongue and cheek Lex, who almost parodied himself with antics bordering on pure slapstick.  So, to get all uppity about how this infamous villain should be portrayed is a bit hypocritical.  Let's face it; his screen adaptions have never been faithful to the source.   But Jesse, whether or intended or not, eventually takes it too far, trying to channel a little too much of Ledger in his performance.  Remember, this is supposed to be a darker, more realistic version of these DC denizens, so his over the top, almost manic embodiment seems misplaced and cartoonish. 

     Cavill's Superman is as stale and disingenuous as ever.  It is no help to him that Snyder's rebooting of such a legendary figure failed so miserably.  Zach never establishes the Son of Krypton as a true hero, instead, miring him in reluctance and uncertainty compounded with an astounding amount of collateral damage; impossible to rationalize, even for the most devout fan.  There is no empathy available for the hero who once represented light and hope.  Again, that is half Snyder's inadequacy and half Cavill's acting impotence.   Neither actually grasps the essence of the character, and it is deeply felt.  Simply adding in gap filler heroics to somehow define a legacy of nobility just doesn't cut it and, in the end, he represents all the worst about us instead of inspiring us to be more than our best.  You just don't care about Superman, and that is by Snyder's design, whether purposeful or accidental. 

     Gadot's Wonder Woman is as exciting as watching paint dry in cold weather.  Even her fight scenes seem forced and overbearing.  Her presence feels like happenstance instead of purposeful with acting that only ensures that.  It doesn't give me any hope for her solo feature.

     Adam's is so miscast as Lois that it is nearly comical.  There is zero chemistry between her and Cavill or any other cast member, for that matter.  She is mechanical, cold, and downright boring.  A solid actress in most other films she has starred in; but this series has quickly become her dramatic Kryptonite.  Whether that is due to an imperfect script or just a resistance to the role, her ineffectiveness is apparent in every scene.

     With the main cast out of the way, let's focus on the scope and story.  This is undeniably a Zack Snyder movie, with all of the gimmicks and staples that his audience has come to know and for me to regret.  Unnecessary and overused slow motion techniques (watching spent shells fall to the ground at one-fourth speed really doesn't do anything for me anymore), chaotic violence that is so heavily CGI'd that it becomes nothing more than a noisy blur, and abrupt editing that, instead of moving between scenes fluidly and seamlessly, makes them feel disconnected and disjointed.  Although, I will admit, the final combat scene between Batman and Martha's captors is striking and savagely artistic and the battle between the Dark Knight and Son of Krypton is also fairly well done.  However, the Doomsday conflict, by film's end, just becomes one big effects mess. 

     The script is overtly convoluted and bloated, almost silly at points.   It is obvious he tried too hard to set up the upcoming Justice League sequels; so much so, it dilutes the key scenes meant to do just that.  There are too many incoherent dream sequences that invade and perplex rather than engage and enhance baring one, that again, is an abruptly inserted precursor to Snyder's upcoming "team up."  The allegorical aspect gets lost quickly as the tale turns from introspective examination of what these types of entities represent in a broken world to an abstract anti-religion manifesto.

   Even more disturbing is the fact that this is supposed to be hero movie, when in fact, it's hard to determine whether any of these individuals truly are.  The mood and scope becomes too dark and any optimism seems, at best, poorly fabricated among the purposeful murk.   It's hard to find any sympathy or encouragement with a Batman who is more a version of a reckless, purposeless Punisher than Dark Night and a Wonder Woman who has zero substance due to a blatantly inferior development.   Whether Freudian slip or not, it feels like Snyder has a great deal of animosity towards these characters' rich heritages and that creeps into every aspect of his story-telling and their evolution.  By the time we get to it, even the reasoning for the two primary heroes’ dispute is ridiculous, bordering on being outright juvenile.

    Finally, the obvious forced addition of Doomsday is mindnumbingly contrite and nonsensical. Snyder had zero respect for canon or continuity before, but now suddenly wants to manipulate several major story parts into one movie without caring if the puzzle pieces fit together, let alone create a coherent, decipherable picture. This flick is an undeniable testament as to what happens when you attempt to build such a legacy without the time and care required to do so; as Marvel has so successfully done with their mythology. 

     In conclusion, this is an example of cinematic gluttony; where the audience leaves the table bloated instead of satiated.  You would think in three hours you could tell a quality story. You would think.  Instead, we have an excessively long and drawn out mediocre version of DC's Injustice: God's Among Us with some nods to critical story arches ludicrously mashed together in one mess of a motion picture.  With that said, as far as DC fare goes, this is by far the best among the worst, and I am not entirely sure that is a compliment.  

2 out of 5 Kernels: Zach Snyder; taking the fun out of your childhood since 2005.  In the tone of King Leonidas...this...is...not...good...movie-making.. 









Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

A bloodied road
Agony covers his face
A crown of thorns
A people turned
Disciples fled
Alone to bear an abominable weight
The wounds still fresh
Flesh torn and bone exposed
A burning torment
That has no relief
Too tired to walk
He falls to the street
Bruising an already anguished form
A strangers hand
A cross of wood
Carried to a hill called skull
Nails in hands
Another between bones
They hang him there
In an unforgiving sun
Sweat and blood stream like rain
Down a face that suffers such pain
Every muscle aches
Strained and wrenched
Breath is rare
He looks up to Father
Who turns away
He has become the sin
They, we could not bear
He looks down
Mercy fill his tortured soul
Forgive them for they
Know not what they do
Compassion among jeers
Love among inexplicable hate
Why Father
Why have you forsaken me
Tears mix with blood
His heart breaks
Into your hands
I commend my spirit
Death hovers below him
Basking in the gore of victory
He tastes the air
For the last time as man
It is finished
Day turns to night
The earth trembles
A curtain is torn
Blood and water spills
The separation is gone
Salvation is born
A single soldier
Hard and cruel
Brutal and cold
Surely this man
Was the Son of God
A mother weeps
A brother mourns
The day is done
A sacrifice accepted
A redemption nigh
The enemy claims victory
Men cower in their err
But God has a plan
Laid in a grave
A stone before a tomb
Soldiers at the guard
Family and followers in hiding
Hope seems lost
Dusk falls
Sunday is on the way

Monday, March 21, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: Daredevil Season 2 "Spoiler Free" Review

        I'm going to give it my best shot to avoid revealing any plot points, scene secrets, or surprises for those who haven't had a chance to watch yet; but be forewarned, I can't guarantee I won't upset the "spoiler sensitive," so proceed at your own risk.  With that said, I will tackle this as I have done before in three categories; the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly.

     Props Clint, I love you babe. 

     So, let's light this candle... 

        The good: once again, this series is able to bring a convincing and engrossing dark, gritty, and oft brutal edge to the Marvel Universe. Unlike DC's absolute fail in unsuccessfully combining their bleak real world essence and graphic fantasy realm to truly please both the diehard Fanboy or girl and the comic illiterate mainstream alike. 

     Charlie Cox returns with a fury, turning one of the most under-appreciated of the Marvel lineup into a hero rock star almost overnight.  In fact, the entire cast delivers authentic performances that you can feel within the pits of both your heart and stomach, sometimes at the same time.  The script, overall, is well crafted and the storytelling, for the most part, is fluid and thoroughly engaging. 

      But it is the unadulterated, uncensored, brutal action that separates this series from any of its ilk.  Perfectly choreographed routines that shamelessly tantalize with each bone crushing blow joyously reverberating in your eager ear holes.  The hallway scene, from season one, has become an infamous example of this awe-inspired combat.  Well, wait to you see the stairwell scene.  If you don't replay it at least ten times in morbid glee, then you are truly dead inside.   This is how you bring such iconically feral characters like Elektra and The Punisher to illustrious gory and grim life.  Where others have monumentally failed, Goddard succeeds, in bloody gallons. 

      The costuming only compliments the action and story.  So many times such hero apparel updates reduce these vigilantes to either; S&M leather and spandex, the equivalent of sub-par Cosplay, or literal caricatures of themselves, appearing more like a parody than homage.  These incarnations are not only geektastic but actually make sense if they existed in the here and now.  When certain recognizable elements and aspects are finally revealed, it is an indisputable moment of utter geek Zen!

      Finally, and I believe, accidentally, the story demonstrates the very failures of our justice system and the ridiculousness of the Progressive philosophies that have ravaged our penal processes. 

     Ha, I said penal; okay, moving on. 

     While trying to argue against the various tactics of our tormented guardians, they simultaneously affirm their effectiveness and the ever growing futility of the warped practices we have in place; where the victimizers have far more rights and protections than the victims.  The Punisher shines a frightening mirror to our complacent faces, barbarically exposing the hypocrisy of believing that evil, unrequited evil, has any hope of redemption; that our choices belong to us, with very real, sometimes damning consequences, both for good and malice.  Corruption can touch even the purest heart, rage exists in us all, and vengeance may provide results but at the cost of our own humanity. 

   Wow, that escalated quickly; let's take a breath and head on over to the bad, shall we.

   The bad: This is another case of too many ingredients in the pot diluting the savor and satisfaction of the final recipe.  I like series and movies that make me think, but not ones that nearly bring me to the brink of an aneurysm.  There are just too many questions without answers and too many answers that answer nothing at all. 

   Whether it is clarity into The Punisher's origins, what Elektra's long game is, or, spoiler warning, what the Hand is really up to, Goddard attempts to do too much in too little time.  It is painfully apparent he was trying to set up a Castle spin-off, the Iron Fist series, and Civil War all at the same time.  There are too many clues and hints that lead to nothing but a deliberate and calculated ambiguity that is neither creative or productive but lazy and inevitably frustrating for the audience.  It is a delicate juggling act that never gets all of the balls in the air and keeps them moving with a precision that has come to be expected from his original outing. 

   And, no I am not making a balls joke at the point!  What do you think I am, predictable?

  To continue, the entire trial sequence, though intriguing, felt haphazard and pointless, even after it revealed it was wholly set up to bring back a high power player.  In addition, Karen's character is overplayed, abruptly transitioning her from determined heroine to fragile damsel, like a meth head driving a stick shift.  It's just too chaotic; feeling forced and disingenuous.  Even more confusing is Foggy's consistent disregard for Matt's purpose, even though it was well established by the first run's end.  His relentless questioning of Murdock's dual identity and quest is simply disjointed and disconnected based on how their relationship evolved.  Even the debate and resulting damage to their friendship has gaping holes in the continuity of the current story.

   The Punisher's antics last only a discouragingly few episodes before we are pulled kicking and screaming into the pure adrenaline and excitement of a drawn out trial with lots of technical legal jargon and endless conversations about it.  After all, it's a winning concept; just think of how well the Star Wars prequels did by focusing on logistics over substance or expected adventure.   I am not saying that this twist was unnecessary.  It was simply and unmistakably unfulfilling as it felt like it went nowhere as slow as possible.  Another significant point of annoyance; Goddard must have an unrequited affection for the previous Punisher cinematic outing, War Zone, because that connotation is uttered almost ad nauseam, bordering on involuntarily comedic, when describing the vigilante's reign of terror.

      Finally, Daredevil's so called "Batmanesque" code of not killing ends up being undeniably  hypocritical by series end.  The writers seem to believe that if they simple construct dialogue that has our hero preaching against the terminal justice his cohorts wantonly deliver; that it somehow absolves him of any relationship with, or accountability to, it.  Although Daredevil is a total bad arse in his own right; having his buddies do all the dirty work doesn't make him appear any more noble.  Instead, it demonstrates an inherent weakness in his intervention by further justifying the fallacies of an adherence to an inadequate system that seemingly nullifies everything he accomplishes.  

  Okay, now the ugly: there is none.  This may have not been as solidly written and cohesive as the first season that was more concerned with telling a good story with amazing characters than setting up a legacy that will eventually lead to the Defenders, but it was still well worth the journey.  Stellar acting, unforgettable action, and a deep respect for character and canon make this another decisive win for Marvel's darker side.  Sequels have a habit of disappointing just as subsequent seasons have a 50/50 chance of either escalating or eviscerating their predecessors.  This is truly a compliment to the first year and may become an indispensable cog in the continuing mechanical behemoth that is Netflix/Marvel machine.


  3 out of 5 Kernels; this go round didn't satiate like it should have but was still a delectable meal for all the senses.




        

       





  





   

Thursday, March 17, 2016

#JustaQuickielPlease: The Martian Review

One of the greatest Sci-fi directors of all time proves why he is one of the greatest Sci-fi directors of all time with this beautifully filmed and masterfully written tale of hope and survival.  What makes great science fiction is not the tech, story complexities, fantasy, or even the glimpses of unique and astounding possibilities; but an undeniable humanity that connects with the audiences' soul on both a collective and very personal level.  This is great science fiction.  Now, is the science part 100% accurate?  No, of course not; if that were the case, this story wouldn't even be possible.  But the inspired performances of Damon and his supporting cast and a well-crafted script eclipses any anomalies, no matter how glaring.   The subtle humor and genuineness of Matt's space castaway, mixed with stunning cinematography and dynamic action and effects, make this an instant classic in its genre.  I would have preferred a little less Disco, but it was a small price to pay to be thoroughly immersed in this amazing film.  4 out of 5 Kernels: how many times are we going to have to rescue this guy...geesh!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: 10 Cloverfield Lane "Spoiler Free" Review

This is one of the most sophisticatedly written, powerfully acted, and genuinely creepy and thrilling films of the last decade that by credits roll, indeed begs the question...which monster is the most terrifying?  Goodman offers the performance of his career as Norman, who can be both eerily endearing and downright deranged nearly and flawlessly within seconds of each other.  Winstead is equally remarkable as the involuntary heroine who demonstrates an authentic blend of bravery, resourcefulness, and abject fear.  The appropriately small cast is rounded out by Gallagher, who provides a discomforting levity to such a bizarrely claustrophobic and unsettling situation.   In an age of blockbuster messes, this is what indie films, in fact, silver screen offerings overall, should aspire to be; amazing effects that don't oversell themselves and a brilliant script that achieves several rarities.  First; creating actual and unpredictable suspense with twists and turns that, when they impact, do so, like a freight truck with its brake line cut.  Second; utter audience engagement and investment into a story and characters in which it and their unknown fates remain intact until the precise moment they are effortlessly and perfectly executed.  Finally, and most importantly; it delivers deeply disturbing inferences that are far more horrifying than what is actually visually revealed; an extremely impressive feat in this CGI-laden dumbed down era of assembly line cinema.   In a world of social media diarrhea, Abrams has become a master of covert movie tactics and this latest endeavor is a prime example of his effectiveness.  In addition to all the successes listed, he completes his achievement by leaving open two definitive possibilities.  That this event occurs simultaneously with this first film without becoming either a prequel or sequel as he originally touted many moons ago.  And, leaving ambiguous room for another installment, which like this, can take this blossoming franchise in any direction JJ's miraculously creative heart desires.  5 out of 5 Kernels; fear has been given a new address and once you visit, you won't be the same.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: Zootopia Review

The directors of Wreck it Ralph and Tangled brings us an exquisitely animated and utterly enjoyable animated tale of equality, determination, and friendship.  Bateman and Goodwin are absolute magic together and the supporting cast is just as magnificent.  With stunning cinematography and a thrilling story filled with action and humor; this may end up being one of Disney's finest.  4 out of 5 Kernels; A few hare-raising moments, but overall, every bunny in your family will be very hoppy to see it...and yes, I went there.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: Goosebumps Review

How Jack Black continues to getting starring roles in movies may remain the greatest mystery of our time.  The only thing scary about this film adaptation of the freakishly fun fright fare for kiddies is the fact that someone approved its script and Black's performance of it.  With CGI the likes of a knock off PlayStation 3 game, a disappointingly convoluted plot, acting that could bore a snail on Xanax and an utterly antic-climatic ending; the only redeeming facet of this film fail is its fast pace gratefully hurdling its audience to the credits.   The only shock comes when you realize Stine agreed to make a few second cameo in this cinematic disaster.  0 out of 5 Kernels: don't be a dummy, skip this monstrous dud.