A Look Back at What If #42 (1992)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Believe it or not, there was a time when the iconic superhero Spider-Man had additional arms on both sides of his body which made him even more like a spider. Such a story was told in Amazing Spider-Man #100 and #101 published decades ago by Marvel Comics.

In 1992, Marvel Comics published What If #42 to revisit the old crazy story and tell an alternate reality of it. Take note that this comic book we’re about to examine together was released the same year Marvel celebrated the 30th anniversary of Spider-Man.

Cover
A very eye-catching cover.

Here’s a look back at What If #42 written by Michael Gallagher and drawn by Kevin West. The hot question: What if Spider-Man had kept his six arms?

Early story

The comic book begins with the Watcher telling readers a recap of what happened to Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #100 and #101. It is recalled that Peter Parker got fed up with being Spider-Man as it complicated his personal life with a bunch of problems. After he attempted to eliminate his super powers by creating and using a potion, Peter Parker suddenly grew four additional arms instead.

In reaction, Parker reached out to his friend Dr. Connors/Lizard (who was in Florida) who granted him access to his laboratory in Long Island. Tried as hard as he could, Parker could not come up with a solution.

Meanwhile, many miles away, the vampire Morbius harms the crew of a ship on the sea before diving into the water. Morbius gets overwhelmed by multiple sharks and dies. His death, as it turns out, marked the end of the solution to Spider-Man’s extra arms problem. Morbius had an enzyme unique only to vampire body chemistry which would have cured Spider-Man’s condition.

10
Spider-Man and Beast of the X-Men.

This leaves Spider-Man with an even longer lasting problem leading to a new reality.

Quality

The story is well written and nicely paced. There is a nice balance between storytelling, characterization and action here. As far as the alternate reality of events go, What If #42 is a smash in the sense that it nicely explores what would happen not only to Peter Parker had he actually kept those extra arms of his, but also what would happen to the people around him as well as balance of superheroes in the state of New York. If you just imagine yourself as Peter Parker having four extra arms, try visualizing how your personal life got destroyed and your connections with people you care about getting strained or even cut off. Nobody in real life would want to end up living like a freak, and this concept is well emphasized with Spider-Man.

Character development on Spider-Man is well done. As you read his lines and thoughts, you will feel the pressure and hassle he is experiencing with the extra arms. You’ll wonder how his Aunt May would react not only to those new arms but also his prolonged absence. As Peter Parker becomes very determined to find a solution in the absence of Morbius, you’ll even relate with his struggle. On top of these, the dialogue was well written and there were even a few intriguing moments.

I also enjoyed the way the comic book creators emphasized the shared universe of Marvel Comics here. You will see the X-Men and Fantastic Four plus several more Marvel characters make appearances.

Along the way, there is a nice scene at the Daily Bugle (the newspaper where Peter Parker works as a photographer) showing how sinister and abusive J. Jonah Jameson really is as he remains obsessed with destroying Spider-Man by means of distorted presentation of news. In this age of fake news, sinister propaganda, distorted views and local community print media publications being operated by people who don’t really know journalism, the Daily Bugle scene is pretty relevant by today’s standards.

As such, Michael Gallagher’s script and story structure here are very strong. For the art, Kevin West did good work. Not only was I able to recognize the Spider-Man-related characters and other Marvel superheroes, West’s notably made the Lizard look visceral enough and the same can be said of his take on Venom. The comic book art had a nice flow as the story was told and West provided enough impact on the action scenes.

Conclusion

What If #42 is a pretty good comic book to read exploring how things would have been had Spider-Man kept those extra arms and really looked truly spider-like. Apart from the good quality of storytelling and visuals, the presence of other Marvel Comics universe characters further add some depth into the story as Peter Parker struggled to find a solution to his problem.

7
Spidey and Lizard!

This is the kind of story that I don’t believe we will ever see happen on the big screen. It’s just too jarring and even shocking for Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios to actually show Tom Holland as Spider-Man with extra arms. Such a cinematic move will surely outrage fans and might even put a dent on the credibility and believability of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

If you are seriously considering buying an existing hard copy of What If #42, be aware that as of this writing based on the ratings of MileHighComics.com, a near-mint copy of the regular edition is at $12 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $39.

Overall, What If #42 is recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman (2017)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I just love watching superhero movies, especially the ones that were well crafted by the filmmakers complete with solid storytelling, sufficient spectacle as well as memorable performances by the hired talents (both behind and in front of the camera).

Of all the superhero movies made by the forces of Hollywood starting with 1978’s Superman, I can clearly say that 2017’s Wonder Woman is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong. I did not limit myself to just DC Comics superhero movies. I saw all the X-Men movies and their spinoffs, almost all the Spider-Man flicks, almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and even the obscure ones. Along the way, there were some great superhero flicks that became modern-day classics like Logan and Avengers: Infinity War.

Still it is the Gal Gadot-led, Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman that I loved watching the most.

Let’s start with my retro review of Wonder Woman, the one film that arguably saved the DC Comics Cinematic Universe for Warner Bros.

WWposter1
The Wonder Woman movie poster from 2017.

Early Story

The story begins sometime after the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice during which Diana finds a long lost photograph recovered by Bruce Wayne. Then she remembers her past in Themyscira where she grew up as the only little girl among the women called the Amazons and her mother is none other than Queen Hippolyta. Concerned that the wicked Aries is still alive, Hippolyta’s sister Antiope trains Diana (initially in secret until they were discovered) to be strong, brave and more capable than their fellow Amazon warriors.

One day, Steve Trevor arrives in Themyscira becoming the first-ever man Diana ever met. Tension rises when the Germans (from World War I Earth) arrive on their island causing the Amazons to fight in defense. A lot of people lost their lives, including someone very close to Diana.

While interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals who he is and what he has been doing. He states that back in his world, World War I is ravaging the world costing many people their lives. This causes Diana to stand up and stop the war somehow (she believes Aries is responsible). Queen Hippolyta disapproves of Diana’s analysis. After privately meeting with Steve, Diana then starts her move for a mission to stop the war in Man’s World.

Quality

Screenshot_20200228-213823_YouTube.jpg
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in the middle of German soldiers.

Let me start with the performances. Gal Gadot definitely IS Wonder Woman in this movie. Regardless of how many versions of Wonder Woman there are in comics, the Israeli actress truly captured the essence of Diana’s early development which includes her special place among the Amazons (note: she is the only Amazon who was born in Themyscira and grew up from infant into a mature woman), her fateful meeting with Steve Trevor, her entry into Man’s World and how she adapts with the events and people outside of Themyscira. Wonder Woman’s purity on saving the world, doing what is right and emphasizing love and compassion were all nicely translated into cinematic art by Gal Gadot. From doing the action scenes to saving people, speaking her mind among her fellow Amazons and interacting with others as she adapts with Man’s World, I really love Gadot’s work on bringing Wonder Woman to life. As her cinematic work is great, there is no doubt that Gadot will always be iconic to fans of the Queen of Superheroes and superhero enthusiasts in general in the decades to come right beside Lynda Carter (who played the icon on TV), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Captain America). Meanwhile, the portrayals of Diana as an 8-year-old girl as well as a 12-year-old were perfectly done by Lilly Aspell (who is truly skilled with horse riding) and Emily Carey.

QueenDaughter
Lilly Aspell as young Diana with Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta.

Chris Pine is excellent as Steve Trevor who is portrayed to be very dedicated to his work, brave in what he does and still shows compassion instead of arrogance towards others. He also has great chemistry with Gal Gadot and, like in the comic books, their relationship is nicely translated on the big screen. Pine’s performance here is, in my view, the best superhero movie supporting role to date.

Screenshot_20200228-213746_YouTube.jpg
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor with Gal Gadot as Diana in disguise.

Connie Nielsen meanwhile is great in playing Queen Hippolyta and all throughout, there is always a sense of leadership complete with a touch of motherly love just like in the comic books. Her sister Antiope was nicely portrayed by Robin Wright as the one Amazon who taught Diana to be brave, strong and highly capable as an Amazon warrior.

Danny Huston, who played the lead villain in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played yet another military bad guy here but this time he’s a World War I German officer. He’s a villain with a purpose who not only fights for the glory of Germany but also strongly believes that war is natural and inevitable for humanity. In some ways, Huston’s Ludendorff reminds me Michael Shannon’s General Zod in Man of Steel.

Antiope
Robin Wright is excellent as Antiope.

When it comes to presentation, this film is Patty Jenkins’ 2nd movie as director (her debut was way back in 2003) and the great turnout of Wonder Woman as a high quality movie (as opposed to being a critical and commercial success) only proved yet again that the old saying in Hollywood – The director’s second movie is his/her best movie – is true. Jenkins, who also worked on television, not only prepared a lot to make this movie but also researched Wonder Woman, developed ways to get the most out of the cast members, tweak the written story of the film (by Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs) and, most notably, she led the production with a lot of passion. To put it short, Wonder Woman is a labor of love (and the No Man’s Land scene is iconic) that not only resonated with fans of the Queen of Superheroes but also with the film critics and moviegoers.

Regarding storytelling, I noticed that a key story from Wonder Woman’s origin in the comics (the contest of the Amazons) did not happen at all in the film. While there were die-hard fans of the icon who complained about it, I felt that the contest of the Amazons would have made this movie more complicated and surely would have lessened the impact of World War I as a key story element. Since the purpose of this movie was to emphasize Diana’s origin and her entry into Man’s World with a major mission, I believe that the contest of the Amazons can be made cinematically later in a future movie.

The way the story was told cinematically, it also captured Diana’s reactions to the events that happened around her. The scene in which she saw the village destroyed showed how death and destruction compelled Wonder Woman to accomplish her mission even though others find ending the war impossible. Along the way, the actors – specifically Gal Gadot – really added life into the narrative with their strong performances.

When it comes to on-screen humor, which is popular among moviegoers and is almost a requirement for most new superhero movies that come out, having it done by supporting players Lucy Davis and Saïd Taghmaoui was a clever move since it allows Gal Gadot to portray Wonder Woman without any performance disruption. Considering her short screen time, Davis as Etta Candy is really funny. The amount of humor in this film, in my view, was just right and never annoying.

Spectacle? Wonder Woman is loaded with action, stunts and exciting stuff! The action involving Wonder Woman was brutal and satisfying to watch, and Patty Jenkins’ use of slow motion on key moments was great (even comparable to John Woo’s past work) and at the same time not too excessive. The Themyscira battle between the Germans and the Amazons at the beach was engaging and strategically filmed. Also, it was fitting that the action ramped up nicely starting with the iconic No Man’s Land sequence. The final battle in the film, unsurprisingly, had lots of computer-generated images (CGI) which is understandable considering the fantasy element of Wonder Woman.

More on the action, I love the way Patty Jenkins had Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine perform the action themselves which all made their characters even more believable. Of course, there were certain moments in which stunt doubles were used to do the more dangerous moments on behalf of the actors.

Screenshot_20200228-213315_YouTube.jpg
This happened just before the iconic No Man’s Land scene.

Apart from the core cast, a lot of the actresses playing the Amazons trained for several months not just to look the part but also to perform action sequences using weapons with actual skill. The stunt coordinators and specialists hired by the filmmakers deserve praise for contributing nicely on making the cinematic Amazons highly believable. This alone not only makes Wonder Woman stand out nicely among all Hollywood superhero movies but also reflects nicely what was portrayed in the comic books.

The production design is also top-notch. I love the scenic locations of Italy used for scenes set in Themyscira. The filmmakers also did a great job recapturing the look of World War I Europe from the historical pictures to the big screen. The costume designs were fantastic, and the standout designs were, unsurprisingly, the costumes of the Amazons which really made their fantasy culture look believable. The filmmakers decided to have much more colorful visuals instead of following the look of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

On the music, the work by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great. His rendition of the Wonder Woman theme was very lively to listen to. The same can be said about the music he provided in the memorable No Man’s Land scene which had a nice build-up as Wonder Woman made her first full appearance in costume on the field. Other tunes played in the film suited the scenes well.

If there were any weak spots in this movie, it would be certain shots of action that were not filmed with precision. I’m talking about filming action scenes way too close to the camera combined with music video-style editing that’s supposed to make film look flashy. It’s not only disorienting, it also took me out of the movie.

Conclusion

Overall, Wonder Woman is one of the best-ever superhero movies ever made and easily my favorite of them all. It has an excellent balance between storytelling, character development and spectacle, and Gal Gadot gave the performance of a lifetime not only by bringing Wonder Woman into life in cinematic form but also emphasizing what the Queen of Superheroes stood for. As part of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe, this movie stood out by having optimism and heroism as core themes (as opposed to the dark, gritty and even cynical approach of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad) and, more importantly, by focusing strongly on Wonder Woman instead of building up for the Justice League movie (which was released months after this one).

Apart from high-quality production values and a strong creative approach, the cast and cinematic performances are easily among the best in the superhero movie genre. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is an excellent example of a supporting role that is engaging without ever overshadowing the lead role. By the end of the film, you will realize the impact that Queen Hippolyta and Antiope had on Diana’s personal development.

QH
Connie Nielsen made a great queen and mother in this movie.

Being strongly focused on heroism with optimism, director Patty Jenkins and her crew succeeded in making this film without ever succumbing to the extreme views of the Political Left in Hollywood and the loudmouth social feminists. When I see the battle between the Amazons and the German soldiers on the beach of Themyscira happen, I simply saw armed women defending their homeland not from men who intend to rape them but rather men who had no right to intrude in the first place. Even as there were scenes showing men in power in World War I Europe (putting Diana in a powerless position), there still was no feminist-inspired hatred towards men. Also the bond between Steve and Diana developing from friendship into a romantic relationship literally shut the door on extreme feminism.

As a Wonder Woman-focused story, this film succeeded on emphasizing the Queen of Superheroes to both long-time fans and mainstream moviegoers. This movie also had a nice mix of having a fantasy setting with Themyscira moving on to a historic setting with World War I Europe. On the origins of Wonder Woman herself, I don’t mind at all that the contest of Amazons was not told because this movie’s concept is already great to begin with and its running time of 141 minutes was just right.

Wondyclimb
Gal Gadot will be remembered for a very long time for her excellent portray of Wonder Woman in cinema.

With all the greatness it was made with, I kept coming back to Wonder Woman when replaying superhero movies here at the comfort of home. In the cinemas back in 2017, I saw the film three times. Ultimately, I can say out loud that Wonder Woman is highly recommended and it is truly essential!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

If you are looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984, check out my preview and opinion about the first movie trailer.

A Look Back At Break-Thru #1

When done right, a crossover storyline showcasing a big mix of superheroes getting involved in a huge event can be memorable and worth revisiting years after getting published.

Back in 1993, Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse which involved many talented creators. Right from the start, it was made clear that there was a shared universe occupied by The Strangers, Night Man, Prototype, Prime, Mantra, Hardcase and many others.

Before the end of 1993, Malibu launched Break-Thru #1 which started a new storyline that involved many of the above characters plus Firearm, The Solution, Sludge and Solitaire. Adding more punch to this comic book was Malibu’s hiring of legendary artist George Perez who worked on the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series of DC Comics.

2019-10-17_074138~2.jpg
A great cover! One of the best ever for any Ultraverse comic book!

Here is a close look at Break-Thru #1 mainly written by Gerard Jones, drawn by George Perez and inked by John Lowe with colors by Moose Baumann. Credited as contributing writers were Steve Englehart, Mike W. Barr, Steve Gerber, James D. Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Perez, James Robinson and Len Strazewski.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the end of Exiles #4. A man falls to his death from the top of a tower thinking he was reaching the moon at night. Elsewhere, an airplane sharply goes up with too much altitude as the pilot obsesses with going to the moon

As it turns out, the media reports about people trying to reach the moon and getting restless. A member of Exiles lies helplessly on a bed with his entire body covered with medical materials for his injuries. A doctor presses him for answers and he claims to know that Amber, one of the Exiles members, looks a lot like a young lady floating over Los Angeles. He thinks she is responsible for the madness that has been going around the world.

The injured confirmed that the lady, floating high above with reddish energy around her, is none other than Amber. He claims, however, that he has no idea what happened but shared that she was already prone to volatile energy blasts.

Behind the scenes, members of Aladdin discuss what has been happening. One of them believes that Amber may hold important clues to the nature and origin of Ultras. The Aladdin people get distracted with noise caused by Eden Blake (Mantra in civilian form) who secretly eavesdropped on them pretending to be lost (note: a reference is made to Mantra #5 to explain her new employment with Aladdin.)

2019-10-17_075309~2.jpg
The military and Prime.

Aladdin decides to activate their own Ultra named Wrath. Over at the Pentagon, military officers discuss the information about Wrath they got received from their moles at Aladdin. Their leader wondered about sending Prime (with a modified look) on a mission but he can’t have anyone see how he modified the Ultra.

Meanwhile in the bowels of the Earth, a man who is not really a man watches…

Quality

In terms of storytelling, Break-Thru #1 has a nice build-up. It took its time making references to the many, many characters of the Ultraverse. By the end of the comic book, you will realize there are different kinds of Ultras: the solo Ultras, the corporate Ultras, the freelancers, the work-for-hire Ultras, the accidental Ultras and the like. With regards to emphasizing the shared universe, this comic book shows that connections with the individual comic books are tight. References in what happened in Exiles #4, Prime #6, Mantra #5 and others all helped build-up the concept of Break-Thru. The story is 35-pages long which, in my opinion, was sufficient not only to emphasize the conflict Break-Thru but also give readers enough space to get to know what exactly is going on, who are these many characters, what the institutions involved are, etc.

2019-10-17_075441~2.jpg
Mantra with Prototype.
2019-10-17_075133~2.jpg
The Strangers discuss what has been happening.

More on Break-Thru’s concept, I like the way the comic book emphasized how the sudden presence of multiple Ultras affected local societies, members of the public, the government, the secret groups and others. It also sheds light on how people, regardless of social class or status, react to the presence of people who carry special powers or have unusual talents over them. This reminds me of a key scene in the 2012 Avengers movie in which Col. Fury mentioned how the sudden presence of super beings caused a disturbance.

Spectacle? Unsurprisingly there is a good amount of action as well as incidental moments that kept the narrative entertaining.

Visually, Break-Thru #1 is a great looking comic book thanks to George Perez who is famous for drawing multiple characters environments with his distinctive style complete with a high level of detail. There is not a single boring moment with his art and each panel has really nice visuals. The action scenes and incidental happenings (example: Valerie’s sudden burst of energy) come with a lot of punch.

2019-10-17_075541~2.jpg
Freex got affected.

Very notably, Perez’s take on each of the Ultraverse characters is very good to look at and in some ways, certain characters look a lot better than they did in their respective comic book series. A perfect example here is the team Freex whose characters look more human (in style) and more lively. Of course, I don’t mean to say that the illustrators of the Freex series did not do a good job.

Perez’s drawing of Mantra is very good. Similar results with The Strangers, Hardcase, Solitaire and Prototype. Very clearly George Perez carefully did his research on the characters and their respective designs.

Conclusion

2019-10-17_074728~2.jpg
Hardcase, Choice and The Solution on the move!

Overall, Break-Thru #1 is a great comic book to read and it reflects the high quality and deep engagement the Ultraverse had when it was still under the control of Malibu Comics (note: Marvel Comics acquired them and drastically changed the UV for the worse in the mid-1990s). It definitely still is one of the finest superhero crossover comic books of the 1990s and, personally, I found it to be more engaging than the launch issues of other crossover storylines like Zero Hour and The Infinity Gauntlet. If you are interested, Break-Thru continued in Firearm #4, Freex #6, Hardcase #7, Mantra #6, The Night Man #3, Prime #7, Prototype #5, Sludge #3, Solitaire #2, The Solution #4, The Strangers #7 and then in Break-Thru #2.

Break-Thru #1 is highly recommended and you can buy a near-mint copy of it for $4 at Mile High Comics’ website.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix

I’ll get straight to the point here. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (or Dark Phoenix in North America) is a better superhero film than I expected (and at the same time I never expected a faithful adaptation of the classic comic book storyline the Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne) and Simon Kinberg‘s feature film directorial debut turned out to be a surprisingly solid effort. I really enjoyed this.

FB_IMG_1557407601427.jpg

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the 2nd attempt by 20th Century Fox to adapt the Dark Phoenix saga for the big screen and I can say it is a brave effort. While it never attempted to fully and faithfully adapt all the elements of the classic storyline (note: that would require hundreds of millions of dollars more budget, more production time and at least two whole films to produce), the new movie is absolutely a better adaptation than X-Men: The Last Stand (which is an even worse movie by today’s standards).

As far as the current X-Men Cinematic Universe (starting with 2011’s X-Men: First Class), Dark Phoenix is very character-driven even though it has a huge cast. There was tremendous pressure behind the scenes on the part of Sophie Turner to portray Jean Grey struggling with her added powers and the good news is that she delivered very nicely! This new movie is clearly focused on Jean Grey whose emotions, struggles and acts of power are magnificently pulled off by Turner each time the screenplay requires her to act.

Turner is clearly more comfortable with playing as Jean Grey and it seems she paid close attention to the Dark Phoenix comics. Unlike Famke Jansen’s Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand, Turner cinematic act is more believable, more emotional and even more terrifying. There were moments to feel sorry for Jean Grey as her life turns upside-down plus there were times that she would be better off going far away into the deep void of the galaxy so that nobody else would get harmed by her. If you pay very close attention to Turner’s act, you will feel varied emotions along the way.

Turner is not the only standout. Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Tye Sheridan each played their respective roles (Beast, Charles Xavier and Cyclops) with more heart, more drama and more intensity. Through Hoult and McAvoy, you will relate more with them as the film makes gentle connections back to X-Men: First Class (why the time was formed, who was supposed to remain or go away, etc.). The conflict between Beast and Xavier that happened later (combined with the revelations from the past) dramatically blurs away the boundary that separates good and evil. As for Tye Sheridan, I see a lot more of the literary Cyclops in him this time and thanks to the script, he exceeds James Marsden’s Cyclops by a hundred a miles. Sheridan and Turner also have better on-screen chemistry as Cyclops and Jean Grey.

James McAvoy’s Xavier deserves everyone’s attention. He not only looks and feels like his comic book counterpart, he also clearly displayed how much the character has matured. McAvoy also successfully captured the on-screen aura of authority Patrick Stewart had in the first X-Men movies.

Michael Fassbender’s Magneto appears rather late into the film but that does not make him any less significant. As before, Fassbender is intense with playing his character and, more importantly, he contributed nicely into the story. Jennifer Lawrence portrayal of Mystique is the shortest one yet but before leaving the film, she delivered some nice lines (with some reconnecting to X-Men: First Class) and acted nicely. Fans of Nightcrawler and Storm will be happy to know that their roles become more significant in the late stage of the film. Lastly, Jessica Chastain‘s addition as Vuk was a nice addition. While others put her down as one-dimensional, which is true, it does not detract from the film at all. Even with lacking variety of character, Vuk still makes a strong villainess and she really acts alien. Vuk would stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

Screenshot_20190605-185631_YouTube.jpg
This is one of many great looking visual effects of the Cerebro scenes.

When it comes to storytelling, this movie did not try to make an in-depth adaptation of all the elements of the Dark Phoenix Saga of comics. Instead, the filmmakers adapted a few elements of the literary classic (and even a few selected elements from X-Men: The Last Stand), focused on the present day X-Men (story is set in 1992), looked back occasionally at X-Men: First Class and made the most with what they have.

The result is a cinematic story about the X-Men now publicly recognized as legitimate mutants (and youths) with Charles Xavier having fully established a direct link with the President of the United States. After the rescue mission in space involving the solar flare, a race of shape-shifting aliens arrive on Earth with a secret agenda of their own. As mentioned earlier, Simon Kinberg surprised me with his directing. The storytelling, even with the slowest moments played, never felt dragging to me at all. The pace, in my experience, was between medium to fast. As this movie was written by Kinberg, Dark Phoenix is clearly his vision for the X-Men Cinematic Universe and he stamped his mark on it despite the fact that reshoots and story revising had to be done. If you are looking for humor, you really won’t find much as the story’s tone is intensely dramatic.

You want fun? X-Men: Dark Phoenix delivered solidly! This movie has more than enough spectacular content (action scenes, stunts, visual effects, etc.) that any moviegoer can enjoy! Very clearly the filmmakers consciously worked hard to deliver entertaining stuff to bounce back from the heavy drama. There was a lot of physical damage caused by Phoenix in her conflict with her teammates which is a solid start of her causing trouble to others. Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Xavier, Beast and Magneto used their respective abilities VERY EXTENSIVELY combined with high-octane stunt coordination which results several minutes of on-screen fun leading into the finale! The spectacle of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which was extensively done with a blistering pace, easily exceeds what was showcased in First Class, Apocalypse and even that of Days of Future Past!

As for those blink-and-you-will-miss-it visual moments, there were times that images shown on the big screen reminded me of Jim Lee’s X-Men. I won’t point out where they are or when they will come out but anyone who extensively read the X-Men comic books drawn by Jim Lee (who co-founded Image Comics and now works as DC Comics’ co-Publisher) will spot the technical fan service.

Last but not least is the music provided by the great Hans Zimmer and this film marks his return to the superhero movie genre. While the music he and his team provided here is nowhere as energetic nor as intense as that of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the music is still steps above that of X-Men: Apocalypse, X-Men: The Last Stand and even the popular X2: X-Men United. The highlight of Zimmer’s music is the tune played during the moments when Jean Grey’s tremendous power as Dark Phoenix was realized in that day-time encounter with the X-Men. That particular music really emphasized the danger she poses to others.

There were some issues about the movie that might be problematic or annoying to moviegoers, particularly superhero movie fans. For one thing, Simon Kinberg re-used certain elements from X-Men: The Last Stand for this new movie and that includes Jean Grey having a childhood problem and Charles Xavier getting involved to solve it only to be blamed for it many years later. There were even a few lines from the 2006 movie repeated.

Also questionable was the lack of an explanation regarding Jean Grey’s Phoenix Power in this film and the one we saw in X-Men: Apocalypse. If what she unleashed in the final battle with Apocalypse was not the Phoenix force, then that’s a major blunder by the creators in relation to this movie. Perhaps an extended cut of X-Men: Dark Phoenix will solve that.

Lastly there was the use of shaky camera photography during some moments with the action sequences. While they were temporary, they prevented the film’s strong spectacle from achieving perfection.

FB_IMG_1551243291900~2.jpg

Overall, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a thrilling, heavily dramatic and very solid superhero movie worthy of being the conclusion of the X-Men Cinematic Universe that 20th Century Fox first launched in 2000. From this point on, there is no guarantee we will see McAvoy and the gang return as the cinematic X-Men now that 20th Century Fox is fully controlled by the Walt Disney Company through Marvel Studios. X-Men: Dark Phoenix is not perfect but it strongly resonates with me as I am a long-time X-Men comic book reader. While others out there would bash this movie for not having the common elements of Marvel Cinematic Universe films, X-Men: DP has its own flavor and the filmmakers utilized what they had established in the X-Men Cinematic Universe since 2011. The reported reshoots may have prevented Kinberg and team from fully realizing their original vision of the Dark Phoenix story but still they succeeded in making a better Dark Phoenix adaptation captured on film.

If Marvel Studios would launch the X-Men through the Marvel Cinematic Universe and attempt a new and more ambitious Dark Phoenix adaptation of their own, it will take much longer and will cost them more time and money to do so. That’s something we may not see in the next decade. All the more reason to enjoy X-Men: Dark Phoenix now.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is highly recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more X-Men insight, check out my retro comic book review of X-Men #1 of 1991, my retro movie review of 2000’s X-Men, my retro review of X2: X-Men United and my review of Logan.

 

 

3 Reasons To Anticipate X-Men: Dark Phoenix In Cinemas

Previously I expressed concern as to why X-Men: Dark Phoenix (opening in the Philippines on June 5 and in the United States on June 7) could end up as a disappointment just as the Walt Disney Company finally took over 20th Century Fox (which led people into believing that integration of the X-Men Cinematic Universe into the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be done instantly).

For one thing, the new movie is the first film of Simon Kinberg as director and to date his credentials include screenwriting, producing and working as a 2nd unit director in the very poor 2015 Fantastic Four movie. Also this movie is the 2nd cinematic adaptation of the classic comic book storyline and the first one from 2006 was bad and there were a few visual elements that the two films shared.

Still there are good reasons to watch this movie whether you are an X-Men fan or not. By now, Avengers: Endgame has satisfied moviegoers which easily makes X-Men: Dark Phoenix the superhero film to anticipate.

Why should you care about this? Here are my reasons (and, yes, I will watch it).

1). This new adaptation is looking more faithful to the Dark Phoenix Saga storyline than how X-Men: The Last Stand ever did – While it is unwise to expect a 100% faithful adaptation of the literary classic, X-Men: Dark Phoenix’s trailer showed the mutants fly into space for a mission, Jean Grey did something desperate and then something happened that changes her. This scene is very similar to what was shown in the comic books decades ago and considering the fact that the cinematic Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner) unleashed her phoenix power in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, things are making sense. I also liked the shots in the trailers showing Cyclops getting very concerned with Jean Grey which parallels the comic book story.

If there are enough storytelling elements that link this new movie with the literary classic and they get executed nicely, it could make a satisfying experience to moviegoers who are familiar with the classic storyline as well as those who are unfamiliar.

2) Simon Kinberg just might have pulled-off a Dances With Wolves. What do I mean? I mean to say that Kinberg may have prepared himself a lot and somehow managed to not just direct the film efficiently (reminder: this is his directorial debut) but probably outdid himself on executing the scenes strongly, getting strong performances from his actors, carefully crafting the spectacle while maintaining focus on storytelling. As seen in Hollywood history, directorial debuts are often weak efforts of career movie directors so naturally the odds are against Kinberg. Still, Kinberg may have made a very solid directorial debut in comparison to Kevin Costner’s own first directorial effort with Dances With Wolves which grossed over $400 million worldwide and won several Academy Awards including Best Picture and, yes, Best Director! Of course, I’m not a filmmaker myself nor do I have access in Hollywood productions but I did my film research a lot and my Hollywood mentor Rusty Lemorande enlightened me on the history of directorial debuts. Very soon we will find out the true results of Kinberg’s directorial debut.

Surely enough, the executives of 20th Century Fox had their own reasons to hire Kinberg as director despite his lack of movie directing experience.

3) This could be the end of the X-Men Cinematic Universe as we know it. Believe it or not, this film franchise that 20th Century Fox launched is almost twenty years old! Never mind the fact that 20th Century Fox was acquired at last by the Walt Disney Company. I have this strong feeling that the filmmakers did their best to make X-Men: Dark Phoenix a solid film on its own and, possibly, worthy of being the final film of the current cinematic universe. If you love the X-Men cast of Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, then you should watch them perform in this new movie because there is no guarantee that you will see them reprise their roles in future movies under the umbrella of the Walt Disney Company through Marvel Studios.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a few weeks away from opening in cinemas worldwide. Watch out for it as well as my review.

For your viewing enjoyment, here’s the movie poster.

FB_IMG_1557407601427.jpg


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Observations: Orient Cable told by Optic Media Board to Explain Piracy of Avengers: Endgame

Orient Cable has been ordered by the Optic Media Board or OMB (the national government’s arm on regulating the production, use and distribution of recording media) to explain to them why they should not be charged over the piracy of the mega blockbuster film Avengers: Endgame.

According to a report by Philippines News Agency (PNA), a “show-cause order” was served by the regulator to the Dipolog City-based company on May 6. The action was the result of a formal complaint issued by Teatro de Dapitan, a movie house that was authorized to show Avengers: Endgame to paying customers.

Atty. Hywel Vergara of the OMB’s legal division was assisted by police officers when the order was served to Orient Cable. It was reported that the company’s officials were reluctant to receive the order.

“With it is an order for the owners (of Orient Cable) to attend hearings at OMB in Manila on May 7 and 14,” said Vergara, referring to the show-cause directive.

For his part, OMB Chairman Ansel Adriano warned establishments and individuals to respect the intellectual rights of the film industry, especially local productions.

The movie opened around the Philippines on April 24 along with many other countries that same day. There were people who claimed to have seen the illegal airing of Avengers: Endgame on April 25 through Orient Cable. Subsequently Teatro de Dapitan complained to the local police the same day the airing happened.

As of this writing, the management of the cable firm is still silent over the issue.

Whatever questions the OMB has for them, it would be nice for the cable TV operator to answer the following questions:

  1. Who within Orient Cable had the capability (or connections) of getting a pirated copy of the movie and make adjustments to show it publicly?
  2. Where did the pirated copy come from?
  3. What could the company gain from showing Avengers: Endgame in pirated form?
  4. How is the financial health of Orient Cable and just how many paid subscribers do they have now?

Check out my review of Avengers: Endgame here.

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

I’ll just say it straight and clear – Avengers: Endgame is an epic superhero movie that, like its predecessor, is great to watch again and again although there are some noticeable differences.

For starters, the creative team led by the Russo Brothers came up with a story that somewhat defied most people’s expectations in relation to the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Considering what happened in the previous film, it’s too easy for moviegoers to anticipate another uniting of remaining superheroes to defeat the omnipotent Thanos who wields the Infinity Gauntlet.

Quite daringly, the filmmakers came up with a story that focused more on time travel and time paradox. Since Endgame is still a new film, I won’t spoil the plot details and will focus on the technical aspects as to why the film is great.

On time travel and time paradox, Endgame felt somewhat self-aware by referencing other popular movies that had time travel concepts. The inevitable time machine gets set up obviously and when the superheroes went their own ways through time, Endgame suddenly felt like The Empire Strikes Back mixed with elements of Back to the Future. What do I mean? What I’m saying is that character development ramps up when the superheroes go their separate ways (not individually but by pairs or small teams) and their time travel exploits brought moviegoers back to the past, especially the unexplored segments of what we saw in previous movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The good news here is that the Russo Brothers did a great job telling the story even though the concepts of time travel and time paradox were so challenging to execute on-screen. Clearly the co-directors did their research to ensure that the story still made sense. Of course, there is the expository dialogue designed to explain to readers the film’s time travel concept.

When it comes to performances, just about each member of the cast performed nicely on bringing to life their respective characters. I felt Robert Downey, Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark/Iron Man is his best since Iron Man 3. Still, I think the standout performer of them all was Mark Ruffalo who proved to be creative not only with his smart Hulk but also managed to deliver the solid performance the movie script required from him. Personally, this cinematic Hulk is the best one yet and we can forget about the mindless, rampaging Hulk of years ago.

Josh Brolin returned as Thanos and his performance was great (as expected) but in order to understand this film’s version of his character, you need to watch the previous appearances of Thanos from the past years especially with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

When it comes to superhero spectacle, Endgame delivered the fun stuff – the flying, the energy blasts, powerful strikes, collateral damage, cosmic powers, futuristic sci-fi technology and the like. However, I felt that Infinity War was much more loaded with action, stunts, special effects and superhero spectacle. This is understandable because the first 30-45 minutes of Endgame was more about story build-up, heavy dialogue and character development delivered with little action. The good news is that the pace of the film ran faster when the time travel sequences started. Of course, there is also the anticipated giant battle near the end of the film. A very action-packed final battle indeed although I felt the darkness (lack of light on the setting) somewhat lessened the impact.

What felt out of place in the final conflict was the obviously forced presentation of the MCU’s female superheroes appearing together looking like a team. I can say it clearly that the sequence, which looked nice, is nothing more like pandering to the believers of Political Left (and its radical feminist allies) among the moviegoers. If that is not a political correctness expression, then it’s a silly way to suggest that a cinematic A-Force adaptation is in the works.

Overall, Avengers: Endgame is an epic superhero movie that must be seen and it also justifies replaying Infinity War. While both Endgame and its predecessor are epic movies heavily loaded with spectacle as well as a lot of heart in the story and character development, the major differences go like this – Infinity War carried more shock value while this new movie was more about the pleasant surprises related to time travel.

Does Endgame deserve its massive commercial success? Absolutely! More than that, this film is also the undeniable climax of the 11-year buildup of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that started with Iron Man.

Where the Marvel Cinematic Universe will go next after Endgame will most likely be another uncharted territory of superhero cinema.


Thank you for reading. If you find this movie review engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

My Observations: Philippine Government Takes Action Versus Cable TV Company Over Avengers: Endgame Piracy

The national government of the Philippines, through its agency the Optic Media Board which is in charge of regulating the production, use and distribution of recording media, took action against Orient Cable for the illegal showing of Avengers: Endgame.

According to the CNN Philippines report, the Optic Media Board announced on May 2 that it has ordered the cable TV company in Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte to explain why it should not be charged over the alleged acts of piracy. In that particular province, movie house Teatro de Dapitan complained about Orient Cable’s illegal showing of the Marvel Studios film even as it was still playing in cinemas nationwide. Teatro de Dapitan is the lone theater licensed to show the movie to paying customers in the province.

The OMB added that Orient Cable could face administrative and criminal raps for violating Republic Act 9239 (the Optical Media Act of 2003), which carries a penalty of up to six years of imprisonment and a fine of up to ₱1.5 million.

According to Teatro de Dapitan owner Lovely Nice Custodio, Avengers: Endgame was played on channels 10 and 18 on Orient Cable.

As of this writing, Orient Cable still has yet to issue an official reaction to the charges and accusations of piracy.

It would be nice for the cable TV operator to answer the following questions:

  1. Who within Orient Cable had the capability (or connections) of getting a pirated copy of the movie and make adjustments to show it publicly?
  2. Where did the pirated copy come from?
  3. What could the company gain from showing Avengers: Endgame in pirated form?
  4. How is the financial health of Orient Cable and just how many paid subscribers do they have now?

As far as the Philippine government is concerned, piracy is a crime.

Stay tuned for more!

My Observations: Cable TV Company In Dipolog City, Philippines, In Legal Trouble Due To Alleged Illegal Airing Of Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame is all over the news and social media. It is breaking multiple box office records. Its high level of anticipation compelled many movie theater operators to adjust themselves to accommodate the moviegoers. Of course, there are these people who, for some reason, found it enjoyable to spoil the plot and surprise of the movie online.

And then there was another type of news about Endgame that caught my attention lately…..the piracy of the movie allegedly done by a cable TV company in Dipolog City.

According to a news release by Philippine News Agency (PNA), the company Orient Cable and Telecommunications, Inc. showed the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie which made a certain movie house to complain to the local police. Orient Cable stopped the showing of Endgame after the legal representatives of the movie house went to the police.

Even so, the movie house pushed through with filing a case against the cable TV company.

Apparently Orient Cable is liable for violating three Philippine laws. Republic Act Number 10088 (Anti-Camcording Act of 2010), Republic Act Number 8293 (Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines) and Republic Act Number 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012).

To put things clearly, showing the movie locally is clearly illegal given that Endgame is still brand new in cinemas. I doubt that the Walt Disney Company (parent company of Marvel Studios) gave Orient Cable special authority to show it. At the same time, showing the movie via cable TV is itself a way of spoiling the movie to members of the public.

This, of course, leads to questions…

  1. Who within Orient Cable had the capability (or connections) of getting a pirated copy of the movie and make adjustments to show it publicly?
  2. Where did the pirated copy come from?
  3. What could the company gain from showing Avengers: Endgame in pirated form?
  4. How is the financial health of Orient Cable and just how many paid subscribers do they have now?

According to the PNA report, Orient Cable remained silent about the issue as of April 26.

If any breakthrough happens, I’ll keep you readers updated.

For now, if you have not seen the movie yet and you really want to watch it, go for it while you still can! Spoilers are constantly spreading online and there are still many people who believe that spoiling the movie is a good thing (in fact, it is not).

 

 

A Look Back at Avengers #366

Back in the early 1990s, collecting comic books that had #1 on their cover or had a special cover on the front was a trend among comic book collectors. Marvel Comics back then was well known for releasing comic books with gimmick covers using material like foil, holograms, embossed art and the like. They also released comic books with gimmick covers when a comic book series reached its “anniversary” with the 25th issue, 50th issue, 75th issue, 100th issue and so on.

Then something happened in 1993. Marvel celebrated the respective 30th anniversaries of the X-Men and the Avengers that year and that meant releasing comic books with gimmick covers as well as some related merchandise to entice the fans and the collectors.

Here, I discuss with you Avengers #366.

TheAvengers366
The “gold” gimmick cover of Avengers #366.

Released in 1993, Avengers #366 marked the 30th anniversary celebration of its franchise and for a cover price of $3.95, it had a gimmick cover and over 60 pages of content.

The story begins with the Avengers – composed of Captain America, Sersi, Black Widow, and Hank Pym watching a situation. Sersi reveals that Dane/Black Knight is being tortured and that they have to rush to stop the bad guys who captured him. Vision arrived suddenly to their surprise and tells them that Black Knight, Crystal, Hercules and Deathcry have been captured. More startling is that the Kree brought a nega-bomb to Earth. The said weapon was used by the Kree to kill billions of inhabitants. Running out of patience, Sersi tells her teammates that immediate action is needed and angrily she flew out of the Avengers headquarters determined to make the Kree pay. Immediately the Avengers assembled and moved on to rescue their friends.

In terms of storytelling, the comic book has a predictable tale about its superheroes moving to help their suffering teammates. Of course, even though I won’t spoil the plot, it’s obvious where the story is going. To fill the many pages, there is a lot of expository dialogue as well as character interaction moments in between scenes.

When it comes to action and spectacle, there is a lot to see here and there although the quality of the art keeps them from being dynamic.

There is also one additional story published and it even has Deadpool in it.

Ave366a.jpg
This is how the Avengers looked like in 1993.

For a comic book celebrating the Avengers’ 30th anniversary, I found it weird that the Avengers #366 lacked any retrospective to the origins of the franchise. It’s like the publisher did not want readers to remember how the Avengers were formed, who were the original members and why the team was formed in the first place. In other words, the story was nothing special and it does not justify the gimmick cover.

If you are a fan who started liking the Avengers franchise because of Marvel Entertainment movies, then this comic book will most likely not appeal to you. The Hulk, Iron Man and Hawkeye are not included and the style of spectacle will most likely fail to impress you. However, if you are an Avengers fan who started reading the comic book series at least a few years before 1993, this one just might entertain you temporarily.

Looking back in 1993 when I barely had enough money to buy new comic books, I’m glad I never bought Avengers #366. By comparison, the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men was better and more engaging with the Fatal Attractions storyline.