Chances are, you may have seen the latest video previews of the much-awaited remake of Resident Evil 3 as published by varied media outlets like IGN, GameSpot and others in coordination with Capcom.
Like anyone else, I am personally excited for the remake and I was fortunate enough to have played the original version of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the original PlayStation way back in 1999. How different were the times back in 1999 – no Xbox LIVE yet, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram and no YouTube yet.
Out of curiosity, I went on to watch the video previews of the RE3 remake hoping to see the latest.
To my regret, it turned out that Capcom gave the gaming press too much to show. In short, spoilers were made without restraint. Apart from story and character details, there were key sections and visual elements from the game that I believe should have been kept secret. Those details, sections and visual elements could have been saved as big surprises for the gamers (especially the millions of younger gamers who never played the original Resident Evil 3), but they were spoiled! How unfortunate it was for me to have seen them.
In writing this, for those who have not yet seen those recent video previews, I will not share those here. In fact, I urge you to avoid seeing them. Regarding new stuff from those previews, I only used two screenshots to keep spoilers very minimal here.
What I can share here that is not a spoiler at all is that Capcom’s developers implemented a modernized way of dodging in the game effectively even as the default 3rd person, over-the-shoulder is used. The way it looks, dodging in the remake seems more responsive than the hit-or-miss dodging in the original RE3.
Just wait for the game’s April 2020 release instead and enjoy the game with limited exposure to the online previews (including text articles that shared a lot of the spoilers that the recent video previews carried).
In this age of photo-realistic 3D graphics in video gaming, I sure miss the days when 2D gaming and highly detailed pixel art were the standard. I’m referring to the so-called 16-bit era of the Super NES/SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) back in the 1990s.
In 1991, Super Star Wars was released on the Super NES and it became a big hit with the gamers, the critics and fans. That game was heralded as one of the best video game adaptations of movies.
Naturally, a follow-up to that game was released in 1993 – Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
That being said, here is my retro gaming review of Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Developed by Sculptured Software and LucasArts and published in America by JVC, this game is based on The Empire Strikes Back which today has been considered to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever. Of course, in order to make a cohesive video game adaptation out of the classic movie, a lot of liberties were taken when it comes to following the story. This was inevitable as the game developers needed a lot of creative freedom to make a cohesive video game.
Early story (and some notable differences from the movie)
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back begins with Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun. Unlike the movie, Luke (controlled by players) visits some places of the wasteland of Hoth, notably caverns and hills fighting several forms of wild life (including wampa beasts), and even some probe droids.
Unlike the movie, Luke does not get rescued by Han Solo in the wilderness. Instead he defeats a giant-sized probe droid and a giant-sized wampa beast (as in-game bosses) and make his way back to Echo Base to rejoin the rebels. Upon returning at the base, he finds it filled with Imperial troopers and their machines (where are Luke’s fellow rebels?) and fights his way through to fly a rebel speeder (note: without the movie co-pilot Dak) and proceed in the Battle of Hoth.
Back at Echo Base, Han Solo (player-controlled) has to make his way through a wave of Imperial enemies and machines to meet Princess Leia, secure her and ride away on the Millenium Falcon. The Falcon (player-controlled) enters the asteroid field being attacked gradually by over twenty TIE Fighters. Once all of them have been eliminated, the Falcon jumps into light speed (which contradicts the movie).
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is composed mostly of 2D, side-scrolling action sequences in which players control their characters moving from left to right in order to make the game progress. The sequences are filled with lots of action-packed moments mainly due to the MANY enemies challenging the players plus sequences of shooting, jumping and using special weapons (note: the thermal detonator was awesome to use). When it comes to filling up the health meter of your character, defeating enemies result random releases of hearts (symbolizing health) which you need to pick up. Key side-scrolling segments of the game will have players facing off with in-game bosses or enemies that are large, intimidating and have their own health meters for players to reduce to zero.
As typical with most 2D side-scrolling games of the era, this game is really tough and will take gamers some patience and perseverance to complete.
What really stood out in this game are the makeshift 3D segments (made possible by Mode 7) which were pretty extensive and really interactive. The Battle of Hoth in Mode 7 was pretty engaging as players get to fly a rebel speeder over a snowy field complete with lots of Imperial enemies (including the AT-ST walkers and the AT-AT walkers) and each of them is composed of multiple 2D sprites making them look 3D as the speeder moves around. Apart from simply shooting, the interactive sequence of tagging an AT-AT walker with a cable, flying around it and wrapping it with the cable, and then watching it fall to the ground really is an awesome gaming experience which really showed how hard the game developers pushed 2D visuals and pixel art.
Apart from the Battle of Hoth, there was also another Mode 7 sequence involving the X-Wing Fighter approaching Cloud City. That particular sequence was noticeably shorter and did not have a standout action sequence as it was limited to the X-Wing Fighter simply shooting Bespin fighters. Another non-2D segment was the Millenium Falcon’s flight through the asteroid field which was done with the cockpit view (first-person view exactly) in which you move a cursor for targeting and moving the ship to. This segment was pretty tough because players were not only required to eliminate more than 20 TIE Fighters but also avoid incoming asteroids and maintaining the Falcon’s energy shields (which serves as a health meter)
Going back to the 2D side-scrolling segments, the use of the lightsaber by Luke remains a lot of fun to do. Not only could he slash bad guys, he could use the lightsaber defensively protecting himself from incoming energy blasts (which get deflected by the lightsaber). On the offense, Luke can jump into the air and spin with the lightsaber turned on making him an aerial slasher over the bad guys.
In keeping with the theme of the movie showing Luke Skywalker learning to be a Jedi, the Dagobah segment in the game has Luke gaining varied Force powers and he also has a separate Force energy meter. The Force powers can be used in subsequent segments of the game and they are quite useful when Luke encounters Darth Vader as the final boss in Cloud City.
The fights with Darth Vader were nicely designed. With creative freedom, the game developers expanded on Darth Vader’s use of the Force to move several pieces of debris and machines towards Luke who has to defend himself from all sides. Fighting Darth Vader with the lightsaber was tricky and for the most part, I had Luke slashing on villain with just enough space between them and many times I had Luke use the lightsaber on him while jumping and spinning in the air. Defeating Vader was a requirement to complete the game.
Finally, like in Super Star Wars, players can also play as Han Solo (special attack: grenade throw) and Chewbacca (special attack: offensive spin) but only in specific segments of the game supposedly to keep in line with its story.
Even by today’s standards, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is still a high-quality video game that is a lot of fun to play with even though it is tough (a password system is used for in-game progress so that gamers can come back to continue) all throughout. Gameplay aside, the presentation of visuals and audio is also very solid. The sprites for the in-game characters, enemies, machines and animal were detailed to look at while the background art were immersive (like in the movies, Cloud City, Hoth and Dagobah had their distinctive visuals). The Super NES audio chip was greatly used on recreating 16-bit sound from the movies, especially John Williams’ movie scores and lightsaber sound effects.
Take note that this game was released in 1993 which is significant in the sense that people had moved on since the release of the movie Return of the Jedi (1983) and the Star Wars prequel trilogy did not begin until 1999 with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This game was released at a time when 2D gaming was still in strong demand and most gamers did not expect that 3D polygonal graphics would reshape video gaming eventually. In retrospect, the polygon-focused gaming consoles Sega Saturn and the original Sony PlayStation launched in late 1994 or more than a year after Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
I myself had lots of fond memories playing this game back in the mid-1990s. I simply endured the many challenges of it and ultimately had a lot of enjoyment completing it. I even replayed the game from the start even though I knew how the game presented the ending and key story elements of the movie. I also got to replay The Empire Strikes Back on home video around the time I played this game.
Believe it or not, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was the first of the Super Star Wars trilogy on the Super NES that I actually played. After completing it, I borrowed the Super Star Wars cartridge from a friend and later bought a copy of Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I completed those two other games and I can clearly say that Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back remains the best in game design, the best in terms of fun factor and the most memorable of them all.
If you love Star Wars and you want the best 16-bit era video game (note: you’ll need a working Super NES console or Nintendo’s Virtual Console for any Super Star Wars game) experience of it, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is highly recommended.
Hey readers, moviegoers and geeks! Were you able to watch the official, first movie trailer of Wonder Woman 1984? It was released globally today online and, in case you have not seen it, here is the movie trailer for your viewing pleasure.
That movie trailer, which was released around the time the Wonder Woman 1984 special event at the CCXP in Brazil ended, was a blast and having seen it, I am more excited for the movie’s June 2020 release. I plan to watch it on an IMAX screen by then.
What can I say? It does not only have the 1980s setting (hence the year on the movie title), but the said time setting was made to be very lively in terms of visuals, fashion, style, music and feel. When it comes the decade in real life, it was the same decade when DC Comics published the maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Following Crisis, a major relaunch of the entire DC Comics universe followed and along the way Wonder Woman was reintroduced under the creative direction of George Perez. The George Perez-era of Wonder Woman, at least seen in the trailer, is looking like a big influence on the new movie starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (whose character Steve Trevor returns somehow) and directed by Patty Jenkins. This brings me to my next point.
Early in the trailer, Diana/Wonder Woman was shown talking with archaeologist Barbara Ann Minerva (played by Kristen Wiig). What’s so significant about Minerva? She is none other than the super villain Cheetah, specifically the 3rd version of the character that debuted in the comic books during the George Perez-era of Wonder Woman!
Here are some images from the pages of Wonder Woman #9 from 1988.
As I mentioned before, the involvement of Cheetah in the movie is alone a great attraction. As far as the trailer goes, we only see Cheetah in her normal human form with Kristen Wiig. The way I see it, we will eventually see the super villain in her terrifying, animal-like form. I am speculating the filmmakers will save that for the movie’s release and will only show very brief, body part shots in the next two movie trailers leading into June 2020. It’s much better this way especially under the watch of Walter Hamada.
Regarding the return of Steve Trevor, I don’t want to speculate as to how he returns given what happened in the acclaimed Wonder Woman movie of 2017. Still, it sure is nice to Chris Pine return as Diana’s romantic partner because he and Gal Gadot have solid chemistry together and there is indeed a need to present more cinematic adventures of them together just like in the comic books!
As seen in the trailer, some shots showing Wonder Woman and Steve traveling together in a foreign land (with a desert environment) where they encounter military hardware operated by some group (or a government perhaps?). This is clearly a Cold War reference although which particular setting or historical event the movie is emphasizing remains to be revealed.
The Cold War setting is the new era emphasized for Wonder Woman 1984. Story details are unintentionally light but what was shown in the trailer made the movie very promising.
As for other elements like the cinematic Maxwell Lord, shots of Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s armor and others, I’ll discuss those next time. Right now, things are looking great for Wonder Woman 1984 and we’ll see more what the filmmakers have left to offer in the next two movie trailers.
If my sources are correct, the creative synergy of director Patty Jenkins combined with passionate work implemented by Gal Gadot on playing the Queen of Superheroes should result a great Wonder Woman cinematic story as well as a solid superhero movie. On the part of Warner Bros. Pictures, it seems the studio and its creative teams are now in more solid footing when it comes to making new DC Comics superhero movies. The DC Comics cinematic stuff will resume on February 2020 with the release of Birds of Prey.
Wonder Woman 1984 will open in cinemas around the world on June 2020.
When Marvel Comics launched its 2099 franchise back in 1992 with Spider-Man 2099, clamor for having the futuristic hero meet up with the classic Spider-Man (Peter Parker) quickly followed.
Back in those days, crossovers were already popular and sold nicely with collectors. The Infinity Gauntlet of 1991 was an epic, universe-wide crossover done nicely by Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim. That limited series sold well, Marvel followed it up with The Infinity War (1992) and The Infinity Crusade (1993). Even the disjointed The X-cutioner’s Song crossover of the X-Men comic books of 1992 kept the fans coming back for more.
For the 2099 universe, the franchise had strong launches with the respective first issues of Spider-Man 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099, Ravage 2099 and even the first latecomer series X-Men 2099. Back in 1993, having the said 2099 heroes mix together was realized in the 5-part crossover The Fall of the Hammer.
No matter what the trends back then, Spider-Man 2099 proved to be the most engaging series of the 2099 line of comic books arguably due to the in-depth storytelling of Peter David. Back in the 1980s, David worked at the direct sales team of Marvel Comics before moving into the editorial team as a writer. And, yes, he got to write for the Spectacular Spider-Man (originally titled Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man). Early on, Peter David made quite an impact with readers with the 4-part story The Death of Jean DeWolff in the said monthly series.
Many years later, David joined other comic book creators – including the late Stan Lee – on launching the 2099 franchise with Spider-Man 2099. He created a lot from scratch to establish the futuristic Spidey and made his mark on the 2099 universe.
“I don’t remember exactly which aspects of the 2099 were already part of the initial setup when I came aboard. I do know, though, that there was almost nothing specific for Spider-Man other than that he was, well, Spider-Man and (I think this was part of what I was handed) an employee of Alchemax. I was the one, though, who came up with his identity, the way his powers worked, the supporting cast, all of that. I even had a hand in designing the costume; not that I could draw a lick, but I sat there with Rick Leonardi during the first 2099 get together and described to him what I wanted, and he executed it perfectly, building upon what I suggested and improving it. I watched that costume come to life for the first time under Rick’s pencil. It was one of the single best collaborative moments in my life,” David said in a CBR.com interview.
This brings us back to the year 1995 when Marvel published the one-shot special crossover comic book designed to attract Spider-Man 2099 fans and the many millions of followers of the classic Peter Parker Spider-Man. That comic book was Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.
Let’s take a close look.
The comic book
The story begins in the far future of 2099 wherein Spider-Man (Peter Parker) from the 20th century finds himself lost in time and chased by the floating law enforcers who saw him as a danger to the public. Even though his costume is different, one of the law enforcers mistook him for Spider-Man 2099. Predictably, Spider-Man struggles to overcome and get away from them.
Meanwhile in the 20th century, Miguel O’Hara mistakenly arrives “home” only to find himself (naked no less) on the same bed as Mary Jane Parker (Spidey’s wife) who is also naked. This only confirms to him that he is lost in time. He immediately decides to get away from MJ and explore the city of New York which does not have the futuristic society he grew up with.
In an attempt to deal with the new reality, Spider-Man 2099 visits Peter Parker’s workplace – The Daily Bugle. He encounters Peter’s boss J. Jonah Jameson who mistook him as their time’s Spider-Man just wearing a new suit.
“You think you can fool me with a wardrobe change, you wall-crawling freak? Whatever your demented plan is, it won’t work,” Jameson told the disguised Miguel O’Hara who reacts by putting web on his mouth in front of the employees.
While the two superheroes struggle with being lost in time, Tyler Stone of Alchemax and Hikaru-Sama discuss something sinister.
In terms of storytelling, Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man is messy even though there were efforts to have the two superheroes switch time settings that would allow them to explore different societies and mix up with their past supporting characters (example: Peter Parker Spidey meeting with Miguel’s brother and artificial intelligence Layla). What also hurt the storytelling was the lack of a very engaging antagonist. The futuristic Green Goblin the creators came up with was very lame.
The art by Rick Leonardi was barely satisfying and the sad thing is that none of his visuals – including the 2-page shot of the two superheroes together – delivered any impact. As Leonardi worked regularly on Spider-Man 2099, his art style of 20th century New York did not give me much immersion. J. Jonah Jameson was barely recognizable with Leonardi’s drawing.
To get straight to the point, this comic book is a major disappointment. It failed miserably to bring the two main characters together in a satisfying manner as there was an overabundance of build-up. By the time the two superheroes met, it was way too late for the comic book to be engaging and fun to read. With only seven pages available for the anticipated encounter, there was way too little of having Spider-Man and his 2099 counterpart together. So much could have been done to make the two superheroes interact and work together with a lot of impact but I suppose Marvel did not give the creative team enough time (and pages) to work with which resulted this disappointment.
By comparison, I found Spider-Man 2099’s encounter with Venom much more satisfying to read. Spider-Man’s encounter with Vulture 2099, meanwhile, was satisfying. Sometimes I felt that it would have been better for Marvel to publish a Spider-Man 2099 versus Venom standalone crossover comic book than this 1995 crossover disappointment!
If you are determined to risk wasting your money by actually getting a physical copy, then be aware that a near-mint copy of Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man will cost you, believe it or not, over $40 at MileHighComics.com
Financial value aside, this comic book’s entertainment value is pretty low. It’s not a badly made crossover comic book but it sure remains a big disappointment considering its concept. Ultimately, Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man is not recommended. You have been warned.
Hey comic book fans! It is finally official! The 2099 universe of Marvel Comics has been revived with the release of 2099 Alpha #1 which I bought at the local comic book store here in Alabang, Muntinlupa, Philippines. The comic book that was available had a Spider-Man 2099 variant cover and it carried a hefty $4.99 price!
So you must be wondering…is the comic book any good? Does it capture the look and feel of the 2099 universe that first appeared in comic books back in the 1990s? Any significant changes in terms of storytelling and visuals?
Here is my review of 2099 Alpha #1.
Written by Nick Spencer with art by Viktor Bogdanovic (colors provided by Marte Garcia), the comic begins in The Ravage (note: this is NOT the failed 2099 hero of Stan Lee and Paul Ryan) where a little boy finds Thor’s hammer but abandons it as he saw some monsters coming. The story then shifts to Brooklyn where Jake Gallows (Punisher 2099) gets into a violent encounter with a man before finally meeting the backup he called for. Then they see a sign that their god, Thor, is now in a merciful mood.
In Nueva York, Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099) talks with Tyler Stone inside an Alchemax tower. Tyler examines what Miguel brought to them and he mentions an incoming threat. Elsewhere, Conan appears struggling in battle with some people. From a distance, Doom 2099 watches and he has the Watcher captive.
To put it short, 2099 Alpha #1 is really a set-up type of comic book designed to immerse readers into the 2099 universe which now looks darker, grittier and more twisted than the way it was first presented back in the 1990s. Because the spotlight shifts from one place to the next, showing multiple characters, there really is not much meat in the storytelling. Really, thirty pages of art and story were made but ultimately ended up being not so engaging.
The art of Viktor Bogdanovic shows the 2099 universe to be a depressing setting and his art on classic characters like Spider-Man 2099, Punisher 2099 and Doom 2099 make them look unrecognizable. I remember Jake Gallows being huge and buff but in this comic book, he looks like he lost a lot of muscle and ended up looking ordinary.
Overall, 2099 Alpha #1 is an expensive disappointment and it is easily the weakest new comic book I bought all year long. There is a lot of suspense, expository details and even some horrific imagery, but ultimately there is no real fun to experience here. At $4.99, this is too expensive and it is a waste as it failed to engage and entertain me. Let me add that I lowered my expectation for this revival of the 2099 universe since the teaser announcement was made months ago. Back then, I anticipated that the new guys handling the 2099 universe of comics will take it to a new direction (move far away from what made the 2099 universe in the 1990s memorable and distinct) and this overpriced comic book is an early confirmation of it.
Of course, there are still several other 2099 comics from Marvel that will be launched next month, including Spider-Man 2099 #1, Venom 2099 #1, Ghost Rider 2099 #1 and more. We will find out soon enough if those comic books will share the same dark and gritty style of 2099 Alpha #1 or not.
Ultimately, 2099 Alpha #1 is not recommended. As long as it is sold at cover price, avoid it.
Ultimately, I left the cinema disappointed yet again although the experience was not as bad as that of 2015 (with Genisys).
To put it short, Terminator: Dark Fate took creative inspiration from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This means it was made with recycled concepts, told the story through its new characters (played by actors who are much younger and who are supposed to appeal to younger viewers) and back them up with the old, more iconic actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton) limited to supporting roles. When it comes to presentation, this new movie felt more like a roller coaster ride than an actual story laced with spectacle stage-by-stage.
That is pretty much how Terminator: Dark Fate turned out. It does not matter that this was directed by Tim Miller, the guy behind 2016’s Deadpool. It does not matter that the great James Cameron got involved with producing and story credit (he shared with a few other names). It does not matter that this movie was made with a large budget of $185 million and relied heavily on computers to generate the visuals (which look fake most of the time). Whatever the preparations made, they did not matter at all because Terminator: Dark Fate is a rushed and creative disappointment that does not deserve your time nor your money.
The movie opened with archived footage of Sarah Connor expressing the darkness of the future coming. This was immediately followed by a scene set in 1998 showing Sarah and her son John living in an age in which Judgment Day did NOT occur on August 29, 1997. Suddenly another Terminator T-800 Model 101 (another Schwarzenegger-type Terminator) appears and actually kills John Connor leaving Sarah in turmoil.
John Connor, who has been a central story element in the 1984 and 1991 (memorably played by Edward Furlong) movies as he was destined to be the human resistance leader in the war with Skynet, was eliminated so quickly in the opening of this new movie very similar to how the character of Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn in the James Cameron-directed Aliens) got killed in a very dismissive way in the beginning of Alien 3. This move was nothing less than cynical, ill-conceived and even a daring disservice to Terminator fans.
From this point on, Terminator: Dark Fate turns into a “what if John Connor was dead and a new future war followed?” type of story.
Even though Judgment Day got prevented in relation to what Sarah and John achieved in Terminator 2, a new war between man and machines in the far future still occurs only this time Skynet is no more and the new enemy artificial intelligence (AI) this time is called Legion. This new story concept, by the way, is pretty insulting to any fan who loved the first two films directed by James Cameron as those flicks told a complete saga.
And then the plot of The Terminator got recycled. A human fighter is sent back through time to protect a person who is destined to become the leader of the human resistance. Also sent back through time is a Terminator designed to look human and infiltrate society with a mission to kill the future human resistance leader. This is essentially what Terminator: Dark Fate truly is and even though Sarah Connor returned (plus another Terminator T-800 played by Schwarzenegger), there really is nothing new, nothing fresh and nothing worth enjoying.
When it comes to quality, this movie does not have much standing for it. The new characters are not engaging at all and their respective performers really had nowhere to go to engage moviegoers. Mackenzie Davis playing the new combat-ready protector only served to beef the film with action and there is nothing compelling about her act, nor did the script provide anything to make her androgynous character memorable. The new human resistance leader played by Natalia Reyes is forgettable and unbelievable even though she tried hard being dramatic. Compared with Sarah Connor in 1984’s The Terminator, the chosen one Dani Ramos in the film was transformed from a struggling, working-class person into a brave fighter in a very rushed and unconvincing manner. Also, if you take a close look at Natalia Reyes, she is too short to be a figure of authority, too small to use weapons and her act is clearly sub-par in terms of quality making her big misfire in terms of casting. The performance, script and directing really had no depth when it comes to developing the characters.
The new Terminator (Rev-9) played by Gabriel Luna was nothing more than an uninspired attempt to outdo the T-1000 of Terminator 2. Luna was decent with playing cold and emotionless but when he acts human to infiltrate human society, he’s just generic at best.
As for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton returning, it is sad for me to say that these two iconic performers of the film franchise got wasted. Sarah Connor in this movie was poorly written and this modern version ruins the legacy the character had since 1991. Schwarzenegger meanwhile played another T-800 Terminator whose adjustment into human society turned out to be unconvincing, even outlandish. A Terminator adjusting into domestic human life? Totally unbelievable!
If there is anything to admire in this ill-conceived movie, it is Schwarzenegger’s delivery of his lines as the Terminator. He was over 70-years-old at the time of filming and he no longer has the super fit, muscular build he was famous for but he still proved to be excellent in being robotic with the dialogue. Sadly, this good stuff from the ex-governor of California was not enough to save this movie from its dark fate.
The film has a lot of action and there is a notable variety of it here. Even though action-packed and the action quality is an improvement over Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys, Terminator: Dark Fate is ultimately a ride that can only provide temporary relief from the pain of the weak script. Oh, the use of fake-looking CGI hurts the action and stunts
Although it is better than Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys respectively, Terminator: Dark Fate still failed to be a solid film and definitely it is NOT worthy of being the official follow-up (the “real Terminator 3” to the first two films written and directed by James Cameron. Cameron’s involvement with this movie did not really improve the situation of the deteriorating Terminator film franchise and even worse, this big disappointment taints his record of excellence as a producer. Director Tim Miller, in my opinion, should go back to superhero movie making or try directing a brand new project of science fiction that does not involve an established intellectual property. How he will recover from Terminator: Dark Fate remains to be seen.
Bottom line – Terminator: Dark Fate is not recommended. You are better off skipping this movie but if you intend to watch it at all, do it out of curiosity. Don’t spend your money on this movie (the cinema, future release on streaming services, Blu-ray, DVD, etc.).
If you want to experience the cinematic greatness of the Terminator film franchise, go back to watching The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day instead.
Let me make it clear to all of you readers. The movie Joker is NOT a superhero movie at all even though it is a cinematic adaptation focused on one of DC Comics’ biggest super villains. It is also not a movie to watch for fun and enjoyment, but it is still engaging in a very different way.
The truth is, Joker is a large art film made to shock viewers with darkness, deep grit and some graphic violence. The good news here is that the movie is very engaging and easily reminds me of two certain movies that Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese worked together on. It’s a victory for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.
Joker follows the exploits and Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a struggling man who is hardly surviving working as an entertainer (a clown, specifically) supporting his mother and dealing with the hard life of Gotham City which was stylistically made to look like 1970s New York City. Arthur, who is living with a condition of uncontrolled laughter, looks up to TV show host Franklin Murray (played by Robert De Niro) as an inspiring figure to try out comedy and hopefully make it big to free himself and his mother from poverty.
While performing as a clown surrounded by children in a hospital, Arthur accidentally drops a gun he just received from a co-worker. Because of this, he gets fired and learns that the man who gave him the gun lied to their boss. While riding the subway still looking like a clown, he gets beaten up by three business executives who were drunk. In response, Arthur kills them with the gun and gets away. This incident starts a chain of events that causes friction between the upper class and the lower class, and then protesters wearing clown masks multiply.
On face value, Joker is clearly inspired by character-driven films of the 1970s. While it is not necessarily based on any particular comic book, it carried some slight elements from Batman: The Killing Joke. What is more obvious is that it took inspiration from De Niro-Scorsese films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.
As a psychological thriller, Joker is a great portrayal of how low a desperate man could go only to strive and survive. Arthur Fleck is greatly played by Joaquin Phoenix who carefully blends drama, anger, violence and even humor altogether. He really made the cinematic Joker his own and along the way, his Joker laught is more effective than that of Heath Ledger and the Joker physical appearance is almost as memorable as that of Jack Nicholson’s. The movie is indeed very violent but it is not overly violent. To be specific, there are a lot more deaths, acts of violence and shooting in Brian De Palma’s Scarface than this movie.
Joker also has a lively portrayal of the conflict between social classes. The scenes of the clown-masked protesters filling the trains and the streets still resonate with the socio-political rallies that happened in modern society. There is also the aspect of poor and desperate people depending on government for survival and they are easily vulnerable to getting cut off whenever resources run out.
Desperation is also a solid theme in the narrative. To see Arthur Fleck look up to Franklin Murray and imagine sharing the stage with him on TV reminds me a lot about some real-life people (who don’t have too much money) I encountered in Cebu City who can’t help but stop studying (even the older ones quit their legitimate jobs) and get into local entertainment hoping that fame and fortune will lift them up. Of course, when things get worse, desperate people would either get back to what they can live with or, worse, turn to a life of crime just to survive. With regards to Arthur’s attempt to become a comedian on screen, that easily reminds me of similar people in real life who thought they are very talented to be the next great superstars but ended up failing.
With its very solid direction by Todd Philips, great dramatic performances, nostalgic presentation and in-depth characterization, Joker is a must-watch movie mainly for moviegoers who want to be engaged with psychological thrills and bouts. As a DC Comics movie that is NOT connected with Warner Bros.’ current franchise of superhero movies (that started with Man of Steel in 2013), Joker works as an adulterated, standalone movie. To compare it with comic books published DC, I should say Joker is very much like an Elseworlds story. For the new comers reading this, Elseworlds was a franchise of comic books published by DC Comics that had stories using established characters but were told outside of DC universe canon.
Joker is highly recommended. Just don’t expect to see the usual superhero movie elements in this very solid DC Comics movie.