Superman Stats

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Reel Reviews: Captain America-The First Avenger

Magneto's Movies

Reel Reviews Captain America-The First Avenger

Release Date: 22nd July 2011

Director: Joe Johnston

Cast: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Sebastian Stan as Sergeant James 'Bucky' Barnes, Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, Neal McDonough as Timothy 'Dum Dum' Dugan, Derek Luke as Gabe Jones, Kenneth Cho as Jim Morita, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola with Stanley Tucci as Dr Abraham Erskine and Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury

Genre: Comic Book

Score: 7.9/10 (w/out vfx: 8.0)

Pros:-Marvel builds on a spectacular phase 1 by making an action packed pulp period adventure
          -Dialogue is rife with tons of laugh out loud moments
          -Writers use the MacGuffin as an important plot point to build towards The Avengers without letting the main narrative fall by the wayside
          -They also engage you with a through character arc for the protagonist, while effectively exploring his relationships to depth especially his romantic angle. Not to mention leaving the room to grow for the character, with their poignant ending
          -Joe Johnston brings his Indiana Jones history to the film, giving it an enjoyable pulp sensation that makes the fantasy elements more probable
          -Evans gets to play a great character, he does so with utmost honesty bringing to life the righteous Steve Rogers without making him seem cookie cutter or bland.  He shares an surprisingly endearing chemistry with Hayley Atwell that drives the heart of the film.
          -Atwell herself is a dynamite, never letting Captain America or Steve outshine her. Sebastian Stan goes deeper than the character on paper, and shows hints of his future development. Toby Jones and Hugo Weaving are master thespians who add some breadth to the film's central conflict. Tucci and Tommy Lee are effective. Special props to Dominic Cooper, who follows the act of Robert Downey Jr. and makes sense of the flamboyance of the Starks
          -Music matches to the tone of the film, having that feel good patriotic sensibility. It gives the montage sequence much needed pacing
Cons:-The action is a lot worse than prior films, there isn't much worth to see by the second act of the film.
           -The climatic action scene is a letdown, Red Skull and Captain America never get to delve into a proper fight while the airplane bomb sequences are choreographed a bit poorly. Consider also the lighting set up and cramped set
           -VFX doesn't hold up that well, blue lighting overpowers much of the action scenes and seem completely mismatched in tone to the gritty background colors and black suits 

Best Scene: A can't get drunk Cap mourns the death of Bucky, Peggy Carter motivates him to get back on his feet and fight because Bucky thought Cap was worth fighting for. Atwell delivers with great conviction and her and Evans add layers to their already superb chemistry.

                    The final scene in the past as Steve and Peggy have a heart to heart, before Cap is forced to plunge the aircraft into the ice

Best Performance: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America

Best Dialogue: 'You've been asleep Cap, for almost 70 years...You gonna be okay?'-Nick Fury
                         'Yeah. Yeah, I just...I had a date.'-Steve Rogers/Captain America

Coolest Comic Book Reference: Steve during the song sequence punches out an actor playing Hitler, this is a re-enactment of the cover page of the first Captain America comic. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Cowabunga!: On Ninja Turtles, Nerds getting to Me and a Bit of Hypocrisy

Nerds and their High Standards

Recently the new Ninja Turtles movie trailer came out. 

Looks awesome right?...ehh! NOT!

Okay so the turtles don't look bad, they have the colored bands from the old cartoon and actually look distinctively unique thanks to the different items they carry barring their weapons. It fits into each ones personality. 

But then factor in that the film is produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebsman whose filmography (from which I've seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Battle: LA and Wrath of the Titans) would make you wish that Bay himself was directing. Also Megan Fox playing April O'Neil, she's beautiful but in no ways is she a good actor. Then finally there's the whitewashing of Shredder, I mean can't we get a Japanese guy as the awesome villain ready to take over the world, would that be so racist? Or is it racist to turn him into a white guy instead (no knock on William Fitchner though).  Topping it off with what seems like a changed origin story.

And you know what pisses me off the most? 

How I am being a hypocrite about all this, I can't get over this stuff as a Turtles lover even when I can honestly admit that I haven't read much of the original comics. I grew up on the re-runs of the 80's campy cartoon show and other shows that came afterwards. 

But like any other nerd I decided to vent my frustrations, shout at the top of my I'm not that brave, I typed out my anger on social media. 

What did I get in return? 

A guy telling me that there's nothing it has to do with ruining my childhood and I'm hanging onto my child like sensibilities to tightly, and that maybe I should visit a psychiatrist. A bit harsh and extreme, but the bit about it that makes sense; is that I have no right to scream against Michael Bay and co simply for taking a beloved source and placing their artistic vision on it. 

Who should complain? 

Well for one, the original creators of the Turtles; Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, and I believe at least one of them did. 

Then onto the fact that my hypocrisy takes new root, when I realize I'm complaining just like those Comic book nerds I was chastising a month back about COMPLAINING!

A bit of context here. A few months back the cast for the new Fantastic Four reboot was announced. Among those cast members was the highly talented Michael B Jordan who was set to play Johnny Storm AKA The Human Torch. 

Barring the fact that a lot of people complained about the other cast actors for not looking like their comic book counterparts among other nonsensical things. Forget that they probably had never seen Jordan perform effortlessly, in either Friday Night Lights, The Wire or the then recently released (on DVD) Fruitvale Station. 

Their big complaint was; but Michael B Jordan's black.

It might have been a stunt cast on Fox Studios part, but Jordan will kill it burn it as Torch

I'm not going to say anything about the race issue or the fact that they blindly hit on that first, but they haven't even seen the movie!!! (I'm sure this isn't coming out great, now that you know about my early hypocrisy)

The first thing to point out to those people is that what makes Johnny Storm, Johny Storm, is his character. The way he acts and reacts as a person is important, his hotheadedness, childish demeanor yet the heroism he displays when most needed by his family; not that he's white or black. 

The same thing has to be reiterated when last year Ben Affleck was announced as Batman. Hell people drew up a freaking petition for that one! I mean this one's not even about color, it's just people hate him and can't stand his acting. I mean his won two Oscars!

Then go jump off a cliff

Granted with the politicking the Oscars don't mean much, and he hasn't won any of his for performances; but Nerds need to get over the fact that he wasn't the reason Daredevil was bad. Any actor could have come into the film and played the role, even Daniel Day freaking Lewis and it wouldn't have helped because of the turd pile of a script and shoddy directing.

So once again let's return to my problem.

I have two choices in front of me, that make sense and that prevent me from making a total ass of myself. 

I can watch the movie this July. I can review it as a separate entity yet also highlight where it doesn't match to the image of the turtles that I have had as a child. Then I can say if I like it or not, and be a bit biased and start to hate it on it all I want for the wrong reasons cause I'm human. 

Or I can decide it isn't for me and avoid it altogether, then I need to remember I have no right to complain whatsoever about the movie. I didn't like the trailer, I didn't watch it because it wasn't for me and that's the end of that. 

So to my nerds around the world, I would like to say first; take my advice, choose one of the two options above. If you want to keep the turtles the way you remember and your sure Bay wont do justice to it, then don't go watch it and then don't criticize either without having done so. If you do go see it, you have the right to and you also have the right to bash on it all you want. 

Second; if you don't like what a film is shaping up to be just don't...WATCH IT! Don't put your money on it, don't go watch BVS or Fantastic Four. I know you have a right to, and I'm once again being a hypocrite by telling you not to. But you people including me cannot be satisfied. 

Even when something good comes along like the Dark Knight Trilogy or The Avengers you find things to nitpick.

Sorry, I'm rambling on. It's just that these things have been festering in my mind for too long.

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

Monday, 24 March 2014

Batfleck: A Future Batman Franchise Fan Cast

Batman Fan Cast

A lot has been said and tried about the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. I'm intrigued about it, and not in any form opposed against it.


While I don't care much for Affleck's acting skills, the way I guess it goes is that Ben has possibly been contracted for multiple movies. This means a new Batman franchise. Then who would helm this franchise but Affleck himself, over the course of three films and half a decade Ben Affleck has proven to be a masterful director and more competent at that job then at performing. 

Look through his directorial work, and if you know Batman well enough; think about each aspect of his prior directorial films, and you see a pattern, a sort of path of destiny that leads right into why Affleck was the best choice at least as a director.

Do note Affleck has mentioned that if he is directing any films down the line, he will be the leading man. With fan at his throats and him being Batman, he has a chance to prove his worth if he decides to lead the franchise in front and behind the camera.

I know, I know he hasn't yet said anything about directing but neither have Warner Bros. and DC about future Batman films yet you know it's in the back of their minds. A 2 time Oscar Winner and popular director taking on a superhero, they can already imagine the Benjamins rolling in if Affleck picks off from the sequel to Man of Steel. There's a reason why I had Affleck pegged as director even back when I wanted Ryan Gosling as Batman. 

The big roadblock though is Man of Steel 2, AKA Batman vs. Superman. Too many characters, odd casting choices and Zack Snyder. Every little thing plagues the nerd masses about this film, but there's no denying the grandeur of the occasion. Even with the MCU and Marvel coming to the fore, there's no denying that this event rivals the coming of The Avengers simply because it is the two most iconic superheroes together for the first time on screen. It's an unparalleled move in modern pop culture history. It's long overdue, it has the pressure on it but I'm sure it will deliver. 

A few facts or ideas to take in as well;

-If Batman vs. Superman does bomb in any aspect, critically or financially then it's over for DC and WB's prospects. Marvel is at it's pinnacle and breaking them requires some serious muscle

-Between now till the release date of the film, there's a line up of these superhero films; Captain America 2, X-Men 7, Amazing Spider-Man 2 (overall 5), Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers 2, Ant-Man and on the same date as BVS; Captain America 3. That's 7 films, not to mention other unannounced features, non-superhero cbm's and nerd movies. By that time the fad could get to an all time low, and fans might just get tired of all the superhero nonsense. The movie versions can't all be serialized like comics, to keep you entertained for a number of years. Mind you fatigue will set in, and BVS could ring as just too little too late of a hollow event. 

-Affleck's films in question have aspects of Detective Work (Gone Baby Gone), hints of intense dramatic crime noir (GBG and The Town), he has a visually well versed intuition (action scenes from Town and Argo) and more that just fit the Batman mold perfectly.

-The casting of Affleck lends another visionary helping hand to Zack Snyder along with Christopher Nolan, it gives a chance for DC/WB to move fresh as Nolan can move on and Affleck if game can take over as the godfather for the franchises. After all Batman is the leader. With the likely departures of A-Listers Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe, Affleck can add a lot of casual butts in the seat. 

-Fun Fact: In A Way Affleck becomes the first man to play both Superman and Batman on screen. He portrayed George Reeves (the actor to don the Superman mantle in the 1950's TV show Adventures of Superman) in Hollywoodland. Now he gets to tackle the Bat.

So I'm not pissed with the Batman casting, heck the BVS casting as a whole. I am a bit skeptical of whether Affleck can give a stellar performance, but with a character as complex backing him I don't see why not. Even Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman worries me a bit, not to mention the Rock playing Green Lantern rumors. 

This post however is for something else, it looks towards a future Batman franchise built around the Argo director. From his family to his enemies. 

But first a few rules...

-Jason Todd as Robin will be older than Dick Grayson, but he will have come second hence fuelling a bit of his anger being a junior to a man he is older to. 

-The BVS movie states that this is an older and wiser Batman, he is most likely estranged with Grayson (who's possibly Nightwing) and the arrival of Superman most likely pushes him back to full time action

-We have no news on whether the quickly building DC TV Universe is linked to the movies, Arrow has failed to mention anything regarding Metropolis and 2013's Man of Steel events. I'm hoping though that it is part of the universe as both Grant Gustin but especially Stephen Amell deserves to be a part of the Justice League film

-As such, in my fan cast here; the Arrow and the whole CW side of the TV universe is applicable. That includes The Flash, Hour Man and iZombie (which obviously will be in a separate universe) shows but excludes Gotham and Constantine with Preacher being another like iZombie that would never meld in the first place

So let's get on with the fan cast...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Breaking Bats and Killing Hope: DC Comics circa 1993

Breaking Bats and Killing Hope

In an effort to write a character not conceived by yourself and with prior decades worth of history, it's very important to have a look through the main stories they develop from. In comics this means going through literally a hundred or more books (or floppies), unless the character has warranted such a status that everything they indulged in has been collected in trades.

For a man or you can say a boy who is so into comics (that for the next 50 odd years, it will be a major driving force of his life), it's odd that I never got into the habit of writing fan fiction/comics on characters I had read myself, until last year. As I might have mentioned before, it stems from the fact that I fear I wont do justice to the characters I have come to know and love. 

But ultimately a re-introduction to DC's animated library seemed to instill a new-found ambition in me to try my hand at writing a plethora of superhero characters mostly just Batman. It was the Batman animated series that first got me into comics, and it was that which introduced me to the character of Bane. 

Now you possibly know this, that I'm not a particularly big DC lover. I was always and still am a Marvel fanboy. My first taste of DC comics came in the form of Green Lantern around 2006. So while I did have an affinity to Batman, I didn't know or care much about the (back then) B-Listers of his rogues gallery. 

Bane then so by 2009 took on a mythic role for me, when I read (through those infamous nefarious means) Batman: Knightfall. 

A bit of context, Batman: Knightfall released in 1993. It was a comic in which Batman must face a new and dangerous threat; a muscle bound juiced freak, who is as cunning and smart as he is strong. Bane was both brawn and brain, he was basically a sort of Batman just on the wrong side of the tracks. But above all else, Bane was the man that broke the bat. 

He literally took Batman and cracked Bruce's spine on his knee. It's a defining moment for both characters, and one of the most iconic pages and covers in comic book lore. 

That moment has defined Bane as a character for decades, and for everything that has since then been written about him. It has basically become a trait for the character, such that it followed suit onto celluloid when Bane appeared in Dark Knight Rises.

It's a hard point to pass by when I'm writing the character in my graphic novel titled; Batman: Bane's Reckoning (yup, I lifted that from the movie). Obviously it's one that needs mention, as Bane and Batman try to work together for their mutual benefit.

What's more, is that as a whole; Knightfall basically forms the basis around this comic I'm writing, simply because as a reader beyond this Bane has never been interesting to that level. His anti-hero turn in Secret Six was wonderful, especially when he decides to stop using venom (the aforementioned juicing drug) to fuel his body. Beyond that nothing much, even the whole Bane and Talia Al Ghul thing in Bane of the Demon was a letdown, although used effectively by Christopher Nolan for his film. 

Writing such a character who in some way peaked early is a difficult task, it basically informs everything I have to do. Not to mention the fact that the story I'm writing is vaguely similar to the first time Batman and Bane teamed up. 

Why am I writing this post? I have no idea, I'm just bored and I've forgotten why I started. 


Knightfall itself was an interesting time for DC Comics. A few months prior to the event, there was another event. A comic book that holds a special place in my heart. 

My copy of The Death of Superman trade paperback

It was the iconic Death of Superman story, where Superman fights against the beastly Doomsday and manages to save Metropolis at the cost of his own life. The death of the most iconic superhero began with issue 18 of Superman: Man of Steel. 

While I don't particularly like the comic, or Superman heck I didn't read it until last year. The story holds a special place simply because of its iconography and the fact that the first issue released in the same month that I was born.  I knew of this by 2003, and looked at it in a mythical way like I never had Superman.

For something like that to happen, an iconic and definitive moment in the history of the first superhero to occur on my birth month and year, it gives me the giddy sense of destiny and weird fanboy pride.

But back to topic (not that there is one). 

So Superman died and Batman retired forcibly. Beyond the point that their returns were marred by shoddy storytelling, these iconic moments define DC comics in 1993. While they may not define my comics history with DC, I do look at each with a sense of wonder and love. 

Death of Superman informs my own blind skewed sense of destiny, destiny that brings me to love, cherish and above all else want to be a part of comics. 

Where as Knightfall can hopefully become a story that defines my first taste of mainstream comics success. What I mean by this is, is that Knightfall is the major influence on Bane's Reckoning, and hopefully Bane's Reckoning if written and drawn well enough can become my first successful superhero comic (not originally created by me).

Thanks for indulging me. 

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Battle Royale: Cult Japan at it's best and Avengers Arena, Hunger Games and More

Battle Royale

Ever since I started my blog, I must have watched about a 100 or more films (new and old, English, Hindi and other languages, ones I've watched and ones I hadn't). That's context. 

Rarely does a film stir me so, that I decide to write about it beyond the short or long boring review. Battle Royale is that rare exception, a masterpiece and a pure example of thrilling yet thoughtful cinema. 

Recently I completed the first two volumes of Marvel NOW's Avengers Arena, a comic that made no bones about being an homage to a the aforementioned Japanese cult classic. I had heard about Royale before, when Hunger Games the film was being promoted. Games was said to have taken influences from the concepts in Battle Royale.

As such I thought I would check out the film.

Battle Royale has an exciting narrative to it that is perfectly paced. Unlike Hunger Games (the movies), the thing it does perfect is deride itself of the initial set-up or doesn't lengthen it as much and gets right to the meat of the action. This way we avoid the long excruciatingly detailed exposition, rather building the main protagonists and then some through flashback sequences. 

The writers only use exposition as a means when they really need to and thus the film doesn't falter from providing its message without bogging down the bloodfest. 

One of the issues I had with the first and to an extent the second film in The Hunger Games, was that much of the political and social subtext of the film was heavy handed and on the nose especially when we visited the one note villains specifically the malevolent President Snow.

In Battle Royale these themes are ever present, and the ambiguity of the world at large in the film keeps you intrigued on what is a somewhat skewed reasoning for the Battle to take place. Of the subtitles I got the understanding, that in this future setting children refuse to go to school as such the Battle Royale act is passed on. 

A randomly selected class of students is brought to the island and given equipment to fight each other until only one survives. The film here gains more resonance simply because the people fighting with each other are not of different districts but rather friends/enemies/class mates who know each other, thus making the killing that much difficult and once they go through with it that much more harrowing.

It juggles the ideas of friendship, parenthood, adulthood, responsibility and overall a broken social structure well enough. Specially how it makes a commentary on education and the overbearing idea of a competitive world eating up the youth. The writer Kenta Fukasaku and Kenji Fukasaku adapt from the novel well and keep those themes intact but in such a way that they are shadows to much of the emotional arc of the film, yet also manage to shine and highlight aspects of the feature that make it compelling to view. 

Beyond that this is one hell of an influential film. Besides Hunger Games, films such as Kill Bill and shows such as Lost picked up concepts from it. Of course my favorite is the comic that made me pick up this film; Avengers Arena.

Arena has the same logo as the film, and explores the themes present issue by issue until it's completion at number 18. Each issue takes a Point of view concept from each of the characters involved. I've read up to number 12, where the second volume finishes. 

What's great about this is that the characters are well known. Most of them come from the then (when Arena was set to release) recently concluded Avengers Academy, picking up a lot of threads from the teen comic. 

These youngsters are further developed each issue making most of their deaths poignant and unable to bear (even though they might come back to life in future). It's quite a dark series in the Marvel NOW! rejuvenation that has been particularly light in most aspects.

If you're a comic fan, I suggest you pick it up as it is a real interesting read and one of the best Marvel had produced in the past few years. The third volume I realise is also out thus completing the set. 

From here onwards, the survivors of the battle will go onto star in Avengers Undercover. As pissed of heroes at their mentors, taking shelter with Baron Zemo Jr. and the Masters of Evil. 

On another note, also do check out Battle Royale. It's an epic bloodfest, not for the weak of heart or stomach yet it has a great love story at it's center and some complex issues spoken about. 

'Nuff Said

Aneesh Raikundalia

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Assembling A Universe

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Assembling A Universe


Agent's of SHIELD has not only been a mediocre show, but it also has had a scattered airing schedule through the season. This week instead of a build up to AoS best episode yet, we get a look back at the Marvel Universe and how Phase 1 has gone and where Phase 2 is going. It's a documentary on the commendable efforts the comic company went through to bring to life their so called 'B' Team. 

Yet you cannot help but notice the efforts of Kevin Feige and Co. in making this another promotional push for not only the Captain America sequel but Phase 2 of the film universe as a whole. 

Still for the uninitiated, this can be one hell of an insight into some interesting tidbits about the companies work. Especially included are some great nods on some of the smaller and all but forgotten aspects of the film universe, with writers making sense of plots, the genre mix the films have seen and how from the very beginning there was an insight to where everything was headed at least until the end of Phase 3.

Even then I would recommend it to the fan who knows everything about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (such as me), simply because the thought process that the studio put into the films is a wonder to behold.

There's no denying that Marvel Studios movies are true blue superhero movies, simply because they aren't afraid to bring a comic to life as possible as it can be. They get the costumes right, are the most faithful in a superfluous as well as a thematic sense to their source and their what comics should be; exuberant, vibrant, daring and above all else enjoyable.

So kudos to the Marvel Juggernaut (pun intended) and let's see what my scattered thought caught of interest...

Monday, 17 March 2014

Injustice: Gods Among Us...When two egos collide!

Injustice: Gods Among Us

A Look back at the Comic

There's no denying that the video game Injustice: Gods Among us has a pretty interesting premise behind it, and an alternate reality that matches up well to DC's Elseworlds standards. The game engine might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the world building and the story behind it holds much intrigue. 

After all Superman going berserk and becomes a dictator after killing his wife and unborn child sounds exciting and with many possibilities. He does so while poisoned by The Joker using Scarecrow's toxins, in an elaborate plan that not only wipe out the woman Superman loves, but the city he has come to care for and his own moral code. 

Unfortunately for us, the game jumps a few years ahead to a crime free society with Superman at the helm, it's a wonderful option to have but at what cost? 

We do get a lot of political subtext, a much more wider understanding of the situations and the players involved (pun intended) but at the end of the day, this is a video game. Modeled by the creators of Mortal Kombat, it presents a fighting style vaguely familiar and a heavy focus on action rather than details of the world. 

That's where Tom Taylor's (Writer: Earth 2) Injustice prequel comes into play. A digital comic series, that explores the grey areas of it's alternate reality characters and establishes the core event that drives Superman to do what he does, and the subsequent aftermath from there onwards. 

The game gives us as is with it's run time (if you can call it that) and major plot-line, tidbits on what occurred. Things such as Aquaman's crumbling resentment towards Superman's regime to Green Arrow being the first casualty of the Man of Steel's anger are mentioned but unexplored. From one angle it can be seen that things just blew over, and that Batman is white as Superman is black. Yet things aren't as cut and dry as they seem. 

A lot of this comes down to Tom Taylor's lens as a writer, he steeps himself in this alternate world yet has roots embellished in DC lore. There's mentions to Superman's constant trust placed on Batman to take him down when necessary, something I'm hoping Zack Snyder materializes by the end of his Man of Steel sequel in 2016. 

It's a gesture that always intrigued me, does the fact that Superman knows Batman can defeat him, keep him in check? Knowing he has given Batman a way, is it a sort of placement for Superman to consciously remember to stay good? Does Superman not trust himself, and if so why wouldn't he work on his own issues rather than turning evil? 

The last one of all really intrigues me, it notes that Superman is as fallible as any of us. In a way his realization that he is suspect and above all has the ability to see his faults, humanizes him. Just like Taylor tries to do with the book. 

There were parts where I really questioned the writing, the issues personally for me were uneven pacing and characterization. There wasn't enough reason given to the other heroes earlier motives to help Superman in his slowly peaking dictatorial state, besides Flash and Shazam struggling to question their actions everyone else seemed fine and dandy albeit a bit hesitant but not enough. 

Once again it's the question of where the game comes in, with an end road in sight it feels like Taylor is left with a narrowed path to work on. He can bring in moments of shock, or methods in which way canon from the game is established but he cannot break away on his own. 

It's something I see only because, I myself struggle as a writer with a determined ending. The original superheroes or stories I've created, I tend to establish everything from the start and even map out at least some sort of vague ending for things to come. It shackles me, and I'm trying not to make it a habit and change. 

When better ideas crop up, and mostly from outside sources I think of them but instantly dismiss them cause I'm too blindly arrogant to look beyond my chosen objective no matter how many better ideas I can get. It's the same reason why when I write already conceived superheroes such as Batman, I do so out of continuity so I can pick and choose what counts in this universe and my vision/end game isn't diminished once I leave the book. 

Tom Taylor has an end game here that isn't his, neither is the vision fully. So it's commendable that he crafts a compelling path from it, the only issue is that sometimes his writing is detrimental to the characters. You can see Taylor trying to point out the hypocrisies and rather grey areas that the hero of the book Batman places himself in. 

Yet all that is debunked by the actions he has to create for Superman to become who we know him as, once the video game begins. 

What I do like is how these two form a central conflict that reiterates ideas we have seen before, yet examines them as a point of their back stories together. This is something I don't remember any Batman/Superman comic doing that well or in this angle. 

Examples of great character studies and reflections of both are more than a dozen. Kingdom Come comes to mind, which Injustice seems to be influenced from. There's the whole idea of policing the world versus letting the world play it's own course. 

Yet the conflict in Injustice doesn't go against heroes doing damage, but rather not doing enough damage to the wrong people. In Kingdom Come, Superman questioned the ethics of a new breed of heroes and their killing spree, with Injustice it's the opposite as he questions Batman's methods of letting one life live in favor of millions.  Yet in both the ideas of Superman's grasp over the worlds and it's people destiny and choices is questioned.

Joker's personal actions towards Superman spur him to kill the mad man and in turn go onto a path he has no return from. The game obviously painted Batman in the right light, and the book has to do so too. But Taylor doesn't shy away from justifying Superman's actions long enough for us to start questioning the rights and wrongs, although towards the end of the first year in this reality we do come closer to the clear picture and divide between the two heroes.

At the core of this it all comes down to one man and his unshakeable morality and another man's descent into madness simply because he cannot but blame everything around him, rather than himself. Once again it presents the Superman we want, the Superman we can relate to, the Superman whose human. 

It's an interesting angle, it always has been. But even if I'm not an age old Superman fan, seeing his morality break on every corner just so a new world accepts him is something I don't agree with. DC's need to make Superman approachable by making him gritty, goes well beyond the whole dark is success formula. He's a god made a man and yet still elevated as a god, just an angrier one. 

I'm not asking for a Superman whose all sunshine and roses, far from it. But what makes Superman, Superman, are the values instilled upon him by Jonathan Kent. Painting him a villain always has only one motive, to make a hero out of Batman. To let humanity know that Batman is the best, simply because he's human and for DC because he makes more money is bordering on annoying these days. 

Batman is a hero, there's no doubting it. I don't want him to go back to the asshole of Pre-Grant Morrison days. What I want is a realization that at the end of the day, that if there are gods among us then there's a human among them. He can be super smart, he can have all the contingencies planned. But what he can't have is the last laugh (pun intended), at one point Batman needs to lose to Superman. Heck he needs to lose to his companions, it just adds fire to the fuel that Batman truly is a condescending, blind man. 

His morals never need to break, their strong because of what happened to him. His origins instill in him something that makes him so heroic when he dons the cowl. Yet the same should apply to Superman, he doesn't deserve to fall to wayside like a child simply because he loses someone. His origins to becoming a hero are as vital, his upbringing like with Bruce's (or lack thereof) has given him a moral code that should only break at a point like at the end of Man of Steel. 

A serialized comic can do that, but the way Taylor rushes or is forced to rush into things just seems to much. 

His use of plot devices don't help either. 

While I've always liked the idea of the DC Trinity, what I cannot stand is the placement of Wonder Woman as Superman's love interest/rock. It's not a thing related to gender issues. But whenever WW has been paired up with Superman (mostly in elseworlds), she has ended becoming the Lady Macbeth to his Macbeth. 

She is made out to be the cause for a lot of his destruction, in Kingdom Come, in Red Son and now in Injustice. The novel idea of the two being the biggest power couple is intriguing, but not when all Wonder Woman is, is a bitch who falters from her own mission statement just to push Superman to doing something that neither makes sense and seems far fetched for even Diana. 

It's why I always floated towards the Justice League cartoon version where Wonder Woman and Batman have a hinted relationship. While I would rather she not mingle with any of the other two romantically, the idea of her and Batman was much more intriguing. Wonder Woman isn't afraid to do things that Batman can't, their moral clashes their are interesting but never border on grand hysteria on each of their parts. 

In the cartoons we were presented to a Wonder Woman who at times was never shy of making her affection for Batman known, she could also defeat him in a fight. While nothing really came to fruition, there were hints that Batman felt obliged not to let it happen. For me it stemmed with the idea that his ego wouldn't allow it, making Wonder Woman that much more Wonderful in my eyes. 

At the end of the day I do realize this is an alternate reality, and the subject of Superman's wavering morals make an interesting topic. Not to mention Taylor does supremely well to make us question our own moral centers as to what we would do in Superman's shoes. Yet I would love to see nalternate storyline where Batman falters instead, there has to be a breaking point to him beyond his own spine (pun intended). 

Nonetheless for now we have this comic, where Batman's staunch code is far greater than the loss of everyone else. It sort of comes down to how both he and Superman are still the two children that lost everything they did. The two heroes are born of a tragedy and as such there's no denying that there suspect to a case of arrested development. 

Batman can never escape the tragedy that made him who he is, and it is why he holds on to his ideals simply because they are the last piece of his innocence and the only way he can justify his crusade to his dead parent as a sign of 'respect' to their deaths. It's a deep idea to ponder upon. 

Then there's Superman, who lost his whole world and when he kills Lois he loses his unborn child. He loses the only Kryptonian that could have assembled his long gone heritage and ancestry, his legacy is abolished. In a way he comes full circle from the last survivor, to the killer of the future of his race. That justifies a lot and makes for a depressing truth. 

And this is where Taylor excels (which I might have mentioned, I'm sorry I'm so passionately writing I'm not even sure if it's coherent). As mentioned, he dissects these two characters and draws parallels in a fashion like not other yet easier to comprehend. 

I'm going to continue reading now, onto year two to see where these characters are headed...well what path they take to where their headed anyways. I suggest you check the books out, you can either buy the first trade and wait for the others or get them online from Comixology or use my old stealing card (wink wink). 

'Nuff Said 

Aneesh Raikundalia

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Breaking Down The Winter Soldier

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Let's face it, this is another year chock full of comic book movies that too some will live up to, for others will go beyond even that and for most comic book fanboys will fall far below but at the end of the day these films are an exciting prospect all round. 

Personally I'm bound to enjoy each and every experience. My favorite this year will most likely be X-Men: DOFP because I'm such a big fan of the comic arc it's being adapted from no matter how many changes Bryan Singer makes. The core time travel concept is the same, and intriguing as hell. 

My most anticipated is Guardians of The Galaxy, cause it will blow open the doors of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a way you've never even imagined. 

The one with my favorite character is Amazing Spider-Man 2...and it seems it will also be adapting a certain important character arc full of tragedy in the life of Peter Parker. 

That brings me to the fourth big comic book movie of the year. The one that is easily guaranteed to be a box office success. 


Because when it comes to their already franchised properties (unlike GoTG), Marvel has cracked the formula for success. Captain America might not be the most enjoyable character among the Solo Avengers bunch, but his second film from it's trailers promises a lot of the lighthearted high on great action that Marvel is known and loved for. 

Beyond that it's boasting possibly the next best Marvel villain since Loki and also substance in it's story like any other. (Something which should shut up those fanboy idiots who go to watch a Marvel movie and complain about it's lack of depth...seriously!!! it's a CBM not a fucking Oscar film!)

Anyways Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks set to be the best Marvel film yet, and one that is a direct sequel to The Avengers with the involvement of SHIELD.

So what I am going to do today, is look at a mix of all the promotional material and try to break down where and what the Captain America sequel will be all about.

Besides the obvious; Who is The Winter Soldier? There's going to be spoilers for a lot of things, from the ideas being presented on Agents of SHIELD to my own possibly correct theories of where the movies is headed.


Let's move onto the breakdown...

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Underdog Awards: What If?

The Underdog Awards: What If?



Okay so I know I said the Underdog Awards 2014 were over, but I had this great idea that I just couldn't let go. 

The idea was for me to go back to 2000 up till 2011 and see who would have won the Underdog Awards in each of those years according to me, I haven't seen any new films recently from those years especially from the early 2000's so my list might not comply with a lot of people. 

So the idea is to see who would have won the major awards for film, director, acting and writing. One rule I've negated is no comic book movies, so now any cbm is applicable and yes that means The Dark Knight as well. I'm only going to list the winners for the respective awards, if you want to know why they were selected then just go watch the movies and respective performances cause I'm too lazy to type much. No nominations.

I might just end up doing, one or two of these Underdog Awards What If extended if anybody really wants to see them (type in the comments) or if I have time next year during the road to the Underdog Awards 2015. 

So from 2000 to 2011, here's what the Underdog Awards would have brought...

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Underdog Awards 2014

The Underdog Awards

So the Underdog Awards are finally over, this page is a overview of the winners and links to each separate post.

Best Soundtrack: Frozen and Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Score: Clint Mansell for Stoker

Best Adapted Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight

Best Original Screenplay: Destin Daniel Cretton for Short Term 12  

Best Editing: Nicolas De Toth for Stoker and Joe Hushting for Metallica: Through The Never

Best Cinematography: Benoit Debie for Spring Breakers

Best Ensemble Cast: Prisoners
Best Breakthrough Performer: Brie Larson for Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now and Don Jon

Best Supporting Actors: Scarlett Johansson for Her and James Franco for Spring Breakers

Best Leading Actors: Julie Delpy for Before Midnight and Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Director: Park Chan Wook for Stoker

Best Film: Before Midnight

'Nuff Said
Aneesh Raikundalia

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 8

The Underdog Awards


Welcome back for the final major award of the evening (or more like two weeks); The Underdog Award for The Best Film.

2013 was one of the most awesome years for cinema whether it be the blockbuster, the Awards fare or Independent Cinema. While Blockbusters are seemingly bogging down the Indies, there's still thriving piece of cinematic art that just blow your mind away.

As usual the awards season is an important part, people get thirsty to predict and know which films will win a bevy of awards and whom among the actors will be recognized, especially whether or not Leonardo DiCaprio will finally win the coveted Oscar.

Like with every Academy Awards year, there's the venom that comes when certain films are snubbed and when the Academies short sightedness and broken system reward undeserving films. Till this day my blood boils when I remember King's Speech winning over the sublime The Social Network, simply because the old contingent of the Academy refused to understand a film tailored to a younger generation.

This year the Academy got a lot more than usual right. Some people will complain years later or already have started to that Best Film was won by an Oscar Baiting (A film tailor made to the Academies tastes in order to gain an Oscar) film in 12 Years Slave. While the concept can be scrutinized as being such (Slavery), the film itself and Steve McQueen's vision of it was nothing short of pandering rather a raw emotional and strikingly honest look at the plight of black men and women during the darkest times of America. 

But still there are certain films every year that just don't get their fair due, some maybe even better than the aforementioned 12 Years A Slave. These films can't compete in the vigorous and political vicious campaigning cycle that plagues the Awards season. Films every year try to defame each other in order to take a leg up on competition and win the coveted award(s).

Certain films just get lost in the shuffle simply because they came from an earlier point in the year and therefore fail to catch steam during the awards season.

Most importantly the Academy fails or refuses to watch every film given to be screened for them, rather choosing from names they have heard are vying for a nomination for the Golden Statue.

Simply put, The Oscars and other awards are based on a flawed concept. Unfortunately the only one that is good enough to still work. So then come the Underdog's.

Why Underdog's and not Underrated?

Because these are films that are terrific and are overlooked for some reason or the other. They are far from underrated though, I can only watch films on TV, DVD or Streaming. I don't have access to festivals or really low key films released in theaters, it prevents me from finding those really underrated gems everybody talks about on the Internet. I try my best to find films you haven't watched or heard off, some of these nominees you will know and some you will hopefully discover and fall in love with like I did.

So here's to the Underdogs…

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 7

The Underdog Awards 


We're almost at the end, so indulge me for a little bit more. 

Now onto the next category, the captain of the ship; The Director. The man who takes control of everything, lifts the words from page and creates his own vision that will provide a visual experience for the ages. 

A lot of great directors were on showcase at many of the major awards, they were definetly great heck the best director hands down of the year was Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), but at the same time a multitude of terrific directors had to be overlooked. This award and even the nominations are to those directors...

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 6

The Underdog Awards


Time for the biggie, at least in popular terms; The Leading Acting awards!

*Drumroll please*

First let me just clear a few things;

-A few films I missed this year just so you don't complain about some nominations; Labor Day, Philomena, Nebraska and Side Effects are the major ones I can remember not watching

-To those DiCaprio fans, he had a mind blowing performance in The Wolf of Wall Street. Sadly comedy isn't taken seriously by the academy but thank god he got nominated, cause there are a lot more people who didn't get the love for their performances like he did. 

-There's a particular actor I've nominated on this list whose seen awards season nomination but for me I felt it was in the wrong category. That man is Daniel Bruhl, his performance in Rush was seen as supporting. I can understand because the film was promoted that way, but it was promoted that way because Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is more bankable. Both he and Bruhl were co-leads, which no matter what anyone says should not have been confusing.  Not that Hemsworth wasn't good, he electrified and hammered home the role (puns galore!)

-Of the Academy Award nominees I would remove Christian Bale and Meryl Streep from the list as totally undeserving, even though Bale was quite good. Most of my nominees here could also easily replace the top three of each leading category, once again that's how awesome this year was.

-And most importantly, Academy get your heads out of Meryl Streep's ass! She didn't deserve to win for Iron Lady and she definitely didn't the nomination for her hammy performance in August: Osage County

Onto the awards I guess...

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 5

The Underdog Awards

Welcome back to the Underdog Awards. 

The year 2013 saw some terrific films and terrific performances, like with any year a lot of praise was heaped on the leading men and women and rightly so. This year however saw tons upon tons of show stealing supporting performances. Such that the honorable mentions on my nomination list are close to the ten nominees, such that these ten nominees for supporting role could have easily as well featured on any awards show this year (barring certain tastes and rulings). 

Here's a few major snubs and mistakes that the Oscars made for supporting roles;

-Julia Roberts was the lead of August: Osage County not supporting

-While he got nominations at other awards, Daniel Bruhl was unfairly snubbed by the Academy for his work in Rush. At the same time I know he was promoted as supporting, but in truth Bruhl should have been in the running for Lead Actor

-James Gandolfini also got unfairly overlooked for a post-houmous nomination after campaigns on his behalf

-Neither Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) nor Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) should have been nominated for their performances, this was a typical Hill showing where as Cooper had a better performance in The Place Beyond The Pines in the same year. It just seemed like a major shut out of any other films than the few varied in the Oscar nominations. Not saying they didn't have good performance, I'm just saying better ones bit the dust.

-James Franco supposedly campaigned, James Franco lost. His Alien in Spring Breakers was a shockingly brilliant turn for the actor

I have no idea about any other notable campaigners for the supporting awards...but anyways onto my two awards for this post...

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 4

The Underdog Awards




Finally we come to this years most exciting awards; for Performances!

This category will be divided into three; special, supporting and leading.

This post is for the special acting categories basically awards for Ensemble and Breakthrough. 

Obviously you my dear readers (*crickets chirping*) are wondering why I am dividing these posts, well it's just that much easier and I believe or choose to believe that it can be more views on each individual post. 

So onto the awards...

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 3

The Underdog Awards

Writing and Music are through, now to head towards the actual technical parts of the technical awards. 

One thing I forgot to note earlier, the under appreciated here or the idea behind these awards as a whole isn't to attack the Academy Awards. As usual in any year, the Academy snubbed a lot of excellent movies that should have been nominated. They also have a highly flawed system. Yet I will say this, surprisingly this year many of the films/film entities that at least won the award were deserving of their wins. There were no particular winning shocks, in fact I have to give kudos to the Academy cause I suspected that they would give Lupita Nyongo the deserving golden man but they did.

So onto the technical technical awards...

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 2

The Underdog Awards



So Part 1 just got finished, time for part two. So let's get going with the awards...

First a recap of some things. 

-The Awards will include a few recognized films of the year. Simply because I cannot watch the underrated films of the underrated films, since those would be hard to find

-Among the films here, there are also those that have been award recognized and even Oscar recognized. 

-There will be five nominees in the small categories, ten in the acting and directing and a stagerring 20 in the film category simply because I'm too nice and there were too many good films this year. Heck there's even a honorable mentions in each award list. 

-Best soundtrack was jointly won by Inside Llewyn Davis and Frozen where as Best Score was won by is where you can see the nominees and ceremony for that bit

Now let's move on to...

The Underdog Awards 2014: Part 1

The Underdog Awards 2014

Welcome to the first ever Official Underdog Awards.

These are films awards that celebrate some of the under-appreciated but best works from the previous year. Now I know, films nominated will not be as unknown as they should be.


Most of these films would have gone underrated if it weren't for the countless pop culture websites and critics giving them the thumbs up. Still to me these films went under appreciated simply because they neither made the moo-la they should have nor did they garner the awards reception that they deserved in some cases (awards recognition here mostly being just the Oscars).

A few films on these awards will have been Awards recognized heck even Oscars and some will have aspects that went even unacknowledged within those said films, as well.  An example is that some nominees come from recognized films like American Hustle, Rush and All is Lost

What this is, is simply another small push for a wider audience to go see the best films that they might not know about in the year.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, the awards will be divided into three categories with each category having sub categories of the award. The category of awards here are suited to the main awards categories from the Academy Awards.

When it comes to great or even good movies, I have a big heart. It's the reason why I made a top 30 of Bollywood films from 2013 when there could have easily just has have been only 10. So the smaller awards here will have the regular five nominations, but the acting and directing awards will have ten and thus the film award will be bumped to a huge twenty. On top of that I will also list the honorable mentions for each award, and for some of those awards there's many!

Note: I would like to point out that I did not nominate any comic book films, as I felt that would have been a bit bias of you will see no superheroes and no 2 Guns, no Oblivion, no Kick Ass 2 and definitely no GI Joe 2 either. Though I would have nominated other geek films like I did with Pacific Rim

Onwards to the first category of the ceremony...