[EXPRESSO] Black Adam (2022) | Avenging The Stone

Dwayne Johnson first foray into actual superhero films happens to be in the DC Extended Universe, and it also happens to be very, very bad, but not for the reasons you’d think.

As in, i will argue that Morbius is still worse, but you could also counter with the premise of that movie having some potential, where in Black Adam there’s no effort put to anything, to the point where its way too generic, sharing the same symptoms seen in the regular cut of the Justice League movie, but actually worse, as the new group of heroes are blatant knock offs of Marvel’s roster (even if the characters themselves originally weren’t), with some straight up copying the Marvel’s shtick and mannerisms, when they don’t remind you of the X-Men.

Or the movie it’s just speedrunning every superhero movie cliches and recurrent flaws to the ground, with overly long exposition dumps, deranged abuse of slo-mo, predictable and unsatisfying narratives with the twists seen coming MILES away.

Do not forget a villain so lazy and boring you’ll pine for Justice League’s Steppenwolf.

The plot centers about the titular anti-hero Black Adam, an ancient egyptian man born slave than was bestowed incredible powers by the mage Shazam, and later sealed.

When he’s summoned back by a woman trying to stop a criminal empire, he unleashes his rage, prompting Amanda Waller to sick the Justice Society of superheroes to stop him, as he does not subscribe to the non-lethal kind of superhero combat.

The movie has some funny/cute scenes, and it tries to say something about the need for violence to fight the oppressors, etc, but as with everything in Black Adam, it’s mediocre at the very best, but always completely superficial and so generic it hurts. Even with Dwayne Johnson doing his thing.

[EXPRESSO] The Batman (2022) | Nigma Notions

After fighting the dreaded villain known as COVID19-Man, Batman is back to the silver screen, now being played by Robert Pattinson in what it’s essentially another “reboot” of sorts, since the plot of The Batman goes back to basics, depicting the reasons why millionarie Bruce Wayne uses his wealth to moonlight as the masked vigilante of the “Batman”, his encounter with Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman), and has him face the villain known as The Riddler.

The main difference is that this time Bruce Wayne’s past (including e his legacy as a Wayne) plays a bigger role, as we were lead to think by the trailers and promo materials, but thankfully this re-establishes the character without being an origin story, and depicts Batman as a more tragic and frail force of justice, as now his family’s legacy comes into play into the corrupt nature of Gotham itself.

The good: Gotham’s depiction is amazing, the brooding and even more dark tone is perfect, the mood overall it’s great and matches the more grounded approach (which of course reminds one of Nolan’s work on the caped crusader), the cast is stellar and giving out great performances, with Pattinson making for a really convincing and more obsessive Batman.

Shame that the narrative ultimately suffers not being as strong as it could, thanks in part to the kinda messy script that falls victim to overstuffing, with ¾ climaxes and the movie being pretty much 3 hours long. It’s not boring, actually it’s fairly captivating, but it feels like they crammed almost 2 scripts into 1 because superhero movies are expected to be very long these days.

I still recommend it, despite the aforementioned flawas, because it’s refreshing to a superhero movie done with vision in mind more than a spreedsheet of pre-made and rounded-edged lego blocks.

[EXPRESSO] The Suicide Squad (2021) | King Shark is in it

Let me preface this by saying i find stupid the whole “release the [director’s name] cut” shtick, and i’m sorry, but i did saw the 2016’s Suicide Squad movie, and it was such a mess nothing would have “saved” it. Look, David Ayer it’s not that bad a director, at all, but he made a crap movie with Suicide Squad.

That’s it, nothing special, it happens and can happen to anyone, the world will go on.

You’re free to pursue this crusade if you will, Ayer has all the right to be happy about it (who wouldn’t?), but i personally don’t “get” it (what you’re gonna do next, request the Proyas’ cut for Gods Of Egypt?), honestly, and i was quite happy to see James Gunn give the concept another go.

So yeah, it’s the same idea of getting together a group of DC supervillains to send in a do-or-die important mission, using the expandable baddies instead of the superheroes themselves, this time tasked to take care of “Project Starfish” on a secluded island instead of an american city.

But yeah, it’s a bit surreal to see the same movie done twice in just a span of 5 years, even more since it has most of the same cast and selection of characters, as it’s supposed to be a sequel to the 2016’s movie, which explains some of it but still comes off as confusing since this is basically a re-do of the concept and doesn’t really require seeing the previous Suicide Squad movie, at all.

Honestly i loved it, it’s such a fun, bloody, stylish and funny take on the concept, it’s not just that it’s the FAR better execution of it so far, but it’s also pretty good on its own, with a lot of style and substance.

[EXPRESSO] Birds Of Prey (2020) | Quinn Patrol

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First off: i didn’t hate Suicide Squad, but boy it was bad, not the worst, but still quite bad, and was so widely panned i’m kinda surprised they even bothered to go through with this… sequel, i guess.

It takes place after Suicide Squad, but aside from a passing comment from Ms. Quinzell herself, it’s basically it’s own movie, focusing on Harley Quinn, who breaks up “Mister J” and goes solo, at first trying to survive without the impunity she had for being with Joker, and then meeting with three female anti-heroes/vigilantes (Black Canary, Huntress and a cop named Renee Montoya) that are searching for a girl named Cassandra Cain, also hunted by villain Roman Sionis, better known as “Black Mask”, who has a plan for taking control of the city’s criminal underbelly, now that Gotham is Batman-less.

While it retains some of the aesthetical flair of the “previous” movie, Birds Of Prey is a different beast, as in it actually knows what it wants to be, and its highly confident in itself, just as much as Margot Robbie’s perfect interpretation of the crazed anti-heroine, with a fun comic book atmosphere and the whole “magenta rebellion” visual style that you could have easily made this an animated movie (and there is a very nice animated prologue).

That and it actually understand that you can do a movie about “girl power kicking ass” and not undermine your own point by quasi-neutering your vision, as fight scenes are quite fun and are deciliously leaning on the savage side (without going randomly overboard), with plenty of arms and legs broken in slo-mo, fun coreography and setpieces, and a decent story told by and for the qwirky arlequin of Gotham. At times the quirkyness is a bit grating, i gotta say, but still charming.

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[EXPRESSO] Shazam! (2019) | Say My Name!

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Superhero time again, with the DC offering of Shazam!, a series/characters that (like for most DC properties) i really wasn’t familiar at all, so i didn’t have any expectations of fidelity to the source material for this adaptation.

Billy Batson is a 15 years old boy that keeps escaping from foster homes in search of his mother, and yet again is assigned to a new family, that he tries to get away as well. But he summoned as the Champion by an old wizard, that passes his powers unto him by uttering his name, Shazam, as he’s too old to keep the Seven Deadly Sins sealed away into stone statues.

Billy transforms in a full grown and caped adult superhero (played by Zachary Levi), but as he’s still a teenager, he just fucks about with his newfound abilities, acts like an arrogant idiot, but the appareance of an occult villain (played by Mark Strong), will force him to not play the hero, but become an actual one in order to save his family.

If you are feeling tired of the genre (and of some of Marvel copious offerings), and think you might skip this one, don’t. It’s funny, really funny, the action is good, the humour is incredibly well balanced with the more emotional moments (which don’t shy away from being serious and dramatic), and overall the comedy never feels out of touch or “mandated”. It’s earnest, understanding, like it’s young main character, trying to figure where he belongs more than how to cast lazer beams from his eyes.

All of this with good characters, and a really welcome touch of horror (there’s some decapitation, which i really didn’t expect, but nothing too graphic overall), making it one of the best superhero movies i’ve seen in a while.

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P.S.: Stay not just for a post-credit scene, but for the ending credits themselves, funny and tonally fitting of the overall tone. 🙂

Also, yeah, i know that the horror bits are not so surprising, given the director previous works, like Lights Out.