Friday, 25 March 2016


I sat down to watch this earlier today, and two and a half hours later staggered into the light with decidedly mixed feelings. I didn't have the buzz that had been present after seeing 'Deadpool' or 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', and I didn't even feel that I had been entertained like with 'Ant Man'. 'Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice' is a different kettle of worms completely, steering DC's big screen output to an altogether darker place than Marvel are prepared to go. 

The film starts with an outsider's view of the big showdown from the end of 'Man Of Steel', as Supes and General Zod basically kill thousands of people and knock down more buildings than Godzilla having a hissy fit. The outsider in question is Bruce Wayne, desperate to do what he can to save employees in the building that houses Wayne Enterprises Gotham branch. The answer is: not much. After all, he's just a man and a collapsing building is pretty heavy. Naturally, this makes Bruce wonder if we would be better off without this Superman chap, as 20 years as Batman tells him that it'll all go horribly wrong one day.

For his part, Superman is as boring as ever, Henry Cavill doing whatever he can to make you give a toss about an invulnerable alien. There's a daft plot that ties into the main film plot about someone arming terrorists (Supes saves Lois again – yaaaawn), and people are starting to turn against him, exactly as they would in real life, no matter how much good he does. After all, who would trust one with a power of a God and no one to answer to?

Pulling various strings behind them both is Lex Luthor (for the billionth time), played in a quirky, semi-insane fashion by Jesse Eisenberg. I'm not sure if he's supposed to be inherently unlikeable, but I wanted to smash his face in throughout the film. He's genuinely scared of what Superman is capable of, and is determined to get rid of him one way or another.

So stuff happens and the two titans get to have a nice little scrap. Fans of the characters will know there's only going to be one winner, but of course the have to kiss and make up to fight Luthor and his end-of-level-boss monster that has to be pummelled in the last half hour. Gail Gadot's Wonder Woman is shoehorned into this bit, seemingly with way more power than in the comics. Regardless, she has a real presence and lights up the screen, so bring on her interesting looking solo movie. There's also none too subtle hints of future Justice Leaguers Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash, but don't expect too much. 

Even at two and a half hours, it seems that key scenes have been jettisoned, as Luthor somehow knows who Superman is and Superman knows who Batman is, and Luthor's shouty foreshadowing of an alien threat seems based on nothing at all but the need to give fans a hint. The plot is full of holes, and the script should have been tighter, but that's just me. Oh, and if you're looking for levity there's none. This is a serious, bleak, dark film that does not want you to smile ever again. This movie would tell Deadpool to stop being so childish.

The absolute best thing about it is Ben Affleck. This man is Batman more than any other Batman, convincing as both the dark knight and Bruce Wayne. Tormented, driven and hard as nails he IS the Batman you've been looking for. I genuinely like Affleck anyway, and I'm glad someone spotted his bat-potential. I doubt it will come, but a solo film would be a sizzling prospect.

Ultimately, 'Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice' (note who gets top billing) is not a great film, but it IS a good one. It may help that I'm a mature comics fan not a fidgety kid or perfectionist geek, but I am happy to see DC take the darker route. What it needs is to stop focusing on Superman because he's a boring, one note character, and follow Marvel in bringing heroes with personalities to the screen. 


Monday, 14 March 2016

2000AD Thrillcast - Podcast Review

Greetings, or as 2000AD Thrillcast host Mike Molcher would have it, 'Borag Thungg Earthlets'. For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the self proclaimed Galaxy's Greatest Comic, it's alien  editor, Tharg (The Mighty), has his own lexicon of phrases that only the dedicated can be arsed to learn. It's all part of the fun, though, pointing at a fan base that is quite happy not to take itself too seriously.

The Thrillcast has been going for just over a year now, and has featured interviews with a multitude of creators as well as a question and answer segment with Tharg himself (herself? has this ever been clarified?) and other bits and pieces. The reason I have decided to bring it to your attention is the recent three part interview with co-founder John Wagner. The man is deservedly a legend in comics, surely the British equivalent of Stan Lee, although Wagner is an immeasurably better writer and always has been. Along with Pat Mills he created Judge Dredd, the ultimate British comics icon, when they were asked to stitch together a sci-fi comic almost 40 years ago.

Molcher himself conducts the interview in fine fashion (as he does throughout the 'casts), coming over very much like Richard Bacon. It might just be me, but I like Richard Bacon so it's a good thing. John Wagner is happy to talk about anything at all, and if I'm honest the three hour overall running time could have been doubled and still leave questions unasked, such has been the output of the man. Part 1 is a little dodgy, having been recorded in a busy pub, (a lousy decision in anyone's book), but when they decamp to Wagner's home it's a much easier listen. Molcher is a big fan and it shows in the questions, and you get the impression he's in fanboy heaven, much as I myself would have been. It's informative and entertaining, and the true seal of approval is that I was annoyed when it finished, wishing that there had been time for a few more topics (Wagner's crass use of racial stereotypes, for example). Ah well, at least his Alpacas are included.

These three podcasts are a good place to start if you've not discovered the 2000AD Thrillcast yet, but once you've been Wagnered up I recommend downloading the rest, because if you are a fan of the comics they really are a pleasure to listen to. I myself have a keen interest in comics from the 70s onward, and the interviews with creators who were working at the time often provide priceless insights, and the joy is that 2000AD has had a multitude of talented individuals pass through it's doors, so there's many more to come.

In short, don't be a Grexnix, have a listen to the 2000AD Thrillcast.

Listen/Download HERE