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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

X-Men: Apocalypse – I loved it!

I saw “X-Men: Apocalypse” at the movies yesterday and loved it. Before going for the movie I had a headache; by the time I came out I was a cured man. :)

I feel conscious saying I enjoyed “X-Men: Apocalypse” because most reviews I chanced upon seem to hate it. They don’t like its villain, or the themes, the continuity with other X-Men movies, it’s plot, etc – but I liked it, and probably for these same reasons really (except the continuity mess-up).

It was such a relief watching “X-Men: Apocalypse” after all these complicated superhero movies like “Batman vs. Superman” or “Captain America: Civil War”. None of this heroes fighting heroes stuff – particularly for not much reason – none of this gray area-ness or questions of right & wrong and morals and whatnot. Just a simple straight-forward good vs bad superhero movie – wow, I missed those!

Most superhero movies try to be dark and realistic nowadays, inspired by “The Dark Knight”. I loved “The Dark Knight” – probably my favorite super hero movie of all – but that too was more or less clear in terms of sides. Batman was good, Joker was bad, but Joker’s reasons for being bad was the cool deal as was the way he went about being bad. But there was no question in your head of choosing sides or any other issues. Simple.

I wish “X-Men: Apocalypse” didn’t bring in Wolverine to confuse the timeline, but apart from that niggle it was good. I guess the best way to ignore that niggle is to ignore the Wolverine movies altogether – which is easily done as the two Wolverine movies have not much continuity between them anyways!

I liked the villain Apocalypse. There have been comments of him focusing too much on dressing up or not being menacing enough – that didn’t bother me much. Yes he was dressed all grandly, but he’s from the Egyptian civilization era and they were grandly dressed back then so that’s just how he is. He was not menacing enough – I don’t know, I enjoyed watching him. The plot made sense to me as did what Apocalypse wanted. The ending was a bit of a we-need-to-destroy-him-somehow-so-the-movie-can-conclude, but that’s fine too – we get to see Phoenix and her introduction makes sense with the ending.

I enjoyed the opening sequence that introduced Apocalypse. I enjoyed the title credits. I enjoyed QuickSilver and his amazing sequence. I enjoyed most of the plot. Professor Xavier going bald didn’t make sense :) but then what the heck, he had to go bald eventually and this seemed like a good place. I enjoyed Jean the subtle hint/ reference to Phoenix (without saying the name but just through the imagery). The amount of destruction in the end was a bit over the top and and repetitive (like every other mass destruction movie sequence you have seen), but you can’t call a movie Apocalypse and not have some apocalyptic stuff happening.

So yeah – that’s it I guess. I loved “X-Men: Apocalypse”. A simple old-fashioned superhero movie. Good heroes vs Bad villains. No other drama. :)

Superman: Earth One

Today I read “Superman Earth One”. Another amazing comic! I am thankful for Amazon’s offer last month of comics for US$5.99 or less. I managed to buy many comics through that and am enjoying them.

“Superman Earth One” is what “Man of Steel” should have been. I didn’t enjoy “Man of Steel” much. At that time I attributed the dislike to maybe me having high expectations from it or wishing something along the lines of a “The Dark Knight” and so I kept my opinions to myself and decided to see how the story develops in the sequels. (Which I am doubtful about now, by the way, because if the studio is confident about the movie and story then why are they introducing characters like Batman and Wonder Woman? Sure these are rumored to be not central to the movie, but still they are a sure shot way of working up frenzy for the movie and I don’t see why a studio that’s confident about its product needs to do that).

The artwork in “Superman Earth One” is excellent. The coloring eye catching, and the story sufficiently dark and broody and grounded. I loved it! “Man of Steel” had a lot of things I didn’t like. Amy Adams as Lois Lane didn’t feel right, the way she uncovered Superman was contrived as was her being used as a hostage, the subplot of Jor-El being in the space ship and also his suit being provided from there just didn’t feel natural, Clark’s father not wanting him to expose his identity made sense but it was obviously harming the boys’ self confidence and that wasn’t addressed satisfactorily, and so on. But “Superman Earth One” takesĀ  sensible route with all this. Sure, his father tells Clark not to expose his identity, but he isn’t so morose or harmful to the boy’s confidence with it. The spaceship is present, but no Jor-El. The Superman suit was made by his mother and she went on to explain why the colors are thus (apart from her not having a choice) and also why Superman doesn’t need a mask. Tyrell discovers during his search for Superman that other suns gave them both power and that Kryptonian sunlight (real or artificial) is a weakness for them. Tyrell is also smart enough to build his spaceship using material from his home planet, making it unbreakable for Superman. I could go on and on… heck, even Perry White is so much better in the comic and has depth to it!

Apart from the comic the interview piece at the end added more depth to the story. That was Superman’s chance to speak to the readers and public and he uses it to clarify how he didn’t know of the intruders and more importantly how he works for humanity and NOT any Government. That was brilliant! That was one aspect of Superman I used to hate – how he was reduced to be an agent of the US (something which Batman in “The Dark Knight Returns” too points out) and it was good to see the writers address it head on here.

A great re-imagining of an iconic character! Simply superb and one which will appeal to all geeks and comic fans.

The Dark Knight Returns

I have been reading “The Dark Knight Returns” (comic) past few days. It’s a good read but I wasn’t as blown away by it as I expected. Maybe it’s just me – the comic has a high rating and huge fan following after all.

I liked the idea of the story. And I liked the old Batman narrative. That was some great story telling. His fears, his reasons, the challenges he has to face and overcome. That was great and dark! What I didn’t like much though was the overall plot. There didn’t really seem to be much to it except setup for this fight between Superman and Batman and Batman’s eventual fake death. The story seemed to involve unnecessarily releasing Batman’s old villains and then blaming Batman for whatever wrong they did. I enjoy the twist there – that the villains were bad because of Batman and so he is to blame here, and I can see the influence of this in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (especially the second one) – yet the way it was told in the comics didn’t resonate much with me. It felt superficial and fast. Too many villains, too many blames, no time to convince me that perhaps Batman could be at fault here or that the Doctors and public point if view is worth thinking about.

The fight sequences were beautifully drawn. And I liked Commissioner Gordon a lot more in this compared to “Batman: Year One” – there was more depth to his character. In fact I liked the Joker too here. The way he escapes and then incriminates Batman by killing himself – typical Joker stuff! Which is why I am confused about my feelings for this comic because I seemed to have enjoyed the individual elements but just didn’t like the overall pointless story.

The culmination of this story – the grand fight between Superman was well done too, and I enjoyed the dialogues as well as the fake death idea. That was a good resolution.