Anil Rickly mashup review "Battle L.A. (Young Justice ep.8 + FF4 #588 - the final issue)
FIRST REVIEW = BATTLE LA
...It's a collage of film and comics...BATTLE LA hit my country today...and did it live up to the hype? Take the jump and end on some Young Justice and FF4 juicy reviews...it's a nice way to spend 20 mins at CBM!!!...
Folks, with films past such as the modern War of the Worlds, Signs, Skyline, Sniper, Shooter, Enemy at the Gates, Green Zone, Independence Day, Terminator and District 9...to name a few...all you have to do...is just pluck the good things about each of these films...include some Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers...and when you coagulate the right blend of Marines stuck in the heat of war and battle with the correct proportions of Alien Invasion, what flocculates is a wicked settling time of a film...that keeps you glued to the edge of your seats from the first minute, and Director Jonathan Liebesman delivers a feat of a film with virtue, loyalty, camaraderie, honour and epic courage!
"Death before Dishonour, No retreat, no surrender - and Never Give Up" all echo loudly and profoundly as we get a thrill of a ride with this film.
We kick off with an exhilarating and heart-pounding extraterrestrial invasion which encapsulates awe-inspiring visual effects, deft CGI and non-stop aesthetic joys when we see the outsiders invade. It's a Promethean attack of alien footsoldiers and their insurgent and earth-like military standards on ground is a sight to behold. It's as if we're in Afghanistan. Now as a tidbit, there's some semblance of the Brothers Strause's CGI/FX (who did 'Skyline') and do some research to see the link from Skyline to this movie...it even involved some legal action and keen watchers of both these movies will see why. All that aside, it's a prolific trip that sees the US Marines embark on what started out as a civilian mission of rescue when the invasion starts to something that is literally beckoning Armageddon. The world is under attack but the focus on LA and the reasons for invasion are all met with great light in a short matter of time. Liebesman keeps a stringently amazing pace up and this guy is one I'd love to see on a CBM such as Avengers or a JLA film (with a Darkseid force invasion) and what is quite astonishing is that for the majority of the film, the cast teams in ensemble to all add incessant vitality, strength and unity in a well-meshed lace. It's cathartic a woe and also visceral a mission but is all done with such competence that you can't help but feel joyed to be seeing the screen.
'Transformer' alumni Ramon Rodriguez, Ne-Yo, Lucas Till, Ade M'Cormack and Jim Parrack are the unsung heroes that really step the film up a notch as the likes of Aaron Eckhart, Mike Pena, Michelle Rodriguez and Bridget Moynahan add a foundation of support in a well cased mold. It's not often you see the bigger names in a movie taking a supporting role, and it's achieved with success here on a dramatic scale. We get rescue missions gone awry, tactical battles, sniping and CALL OF DUTY stealth and secrecy, helicopters and air-raids in pain staking situations, enormous casualties, cities in flames, and one awesome hell of a bus-ride as the Marines try to make it out alive when they realise that their search and rescue mission may have turned into a tide of a suicidal death-trap.
Also imparted is a gut-wrenching alien autopsy and a lost sense of hope in the film, which all leads to the final 20 minutes where Aaron Eckhart takes the reins of this film and shows his true mettle and just why he is one of the leading actors in Hollywood. With a sense of assurance, that screams of an older Bruce Wayne should a Frank Miller TDKR comic ever turn a film, Eckhart commands the remainder of this film with a stunning and heart-riveting performance that brings tears to the eyes and just leaves fluttering heartbeats when he decides to ensure the safety and protection of the denizens he's been entrusted with. There is no shortage of tragedy but seeing the troops in a finale attempting to triumph and trump one of the most climatic final scenes I've seen in a while is fascinating to the core, and it's all brain...tactic...and definitely brawn.
There's no punchline here...Eckhart's lead into the finale of the tale is enough to warrant the price of admission! It's a jaw-dropping film, and the end shows just why...the Marines are THE MARINES. I've chatted with a veteran personally and I can't wait to hear his take on this film, but when he asks mine...All I can say...is it was one of the best films I've ever seen!!!
SECOND REVIEW = YOUNG JUSTICE ep8 - DOWNTIME
Kevin Hopps scribes quite an intriguing tale that lends ears and visuals to a lot of intricate DC lore – some untouched, some with which familiarity can be found. Jay Oliva directs his fourth episode this season and it’s a focus on Aqulad’s lack of symmetry with his duties as he’s torn between heart and duty, and the Sea and Surface worlds.
It’s a pleasurable kickoff as we see the team exacerbate their mission which turns out to be an eagle-eyed procession which bears intervention from a most myopic Batman. This isn’t such a bad thing as it emphasizes his impressive, yet times murky, role as coordinator of the senior and junior teams, yet a scene with a disillusioned Dick Grayson bears an endearing and heart-warming bond that would do well to assure DC fans that heart still exists despite the tirades of Bruce.
Camaraderie is an essential element of this episode as Aqualad makes a foray to the Sea-World under King Orin. It was a nice throwback to a past interview I had with Peter David regarding his DC days as he was most geeky at the fact that Orin was being propagated in this show. As Orin’s kingdom proved a visual perpetuation of adoring beauty, the fluorescent settings and brilliant animation compounded the appearances of the king’s brother, Orm, as well as an unknown Ocean Master, along with the beloved Tula, Garth and Queen Mera, which the fans of Geoff Johns, Blackest Night, and Brightest Day would all take much adherence in. As an avid Johns’ fan, this episode showed why the usual ‘Aquaman Sucks!’ chant is most misunderstood and in my opinion – gratuitous and vile. This episode exclaims why this kingdom deserves at least a DC full-length animated film due to the family and friendships that emanate in these books under the sea.
Aqualad’s purpose suffers quite a romantic setback but soon a sense of loyalty and duty sets in to serve his kingdom. Mera steals the show here with a regal performance during war which reeks of her in Brightest Day, and the sorcery of underwater is masterfully delighted to viewers. The aesthetic element of invasion is done in a nice fashion with a usual-threat swimming through the seas. The villain that rears his oval-shaped head is quite welcome to me and proves a great iteration from past depictions – much darker and more goal-oriented with a sense of brutality. Whether this series sticks to the Brightest Day path for Aqualad and said-villain, who knows? Seeing a certain Starry-shaped figure, Kelly Hu voicing an Atlantean female, and so much of Aquaman’s circle swooning undersea, make this one of the most involved episodes that I invested in. Screen-time is offered to the quirky Superboy-Miss Martian romance, which is further overshadowed by the appearance of a particular jawdropping speedster party, and we also get a sweet tidbit into the identity of Artemis. It’s one that I cracked a while back, but seems certain to bear ripe fruit given her paternal connections to certain nefarious links. Of course, we see Aqualad go through trials and tribulations as he deciphers and decides where his fate lies, and clearly we won’t be surprised to see which world he chooses. Also proving to be a non-shocker is the appearance of a certain crime syndicate which is synonymous with the final seconds of a YJ episode.
Overall, this episode gets overwhelming thumbs up as it offers several easter eggs and cameos to DC COMIC Fans, both modern and old-school, and it keeps us ticking and thinking while still offering a lot of screen-time to individuals who have been underplayed in the past. It’s an incessant and flourishing breath of fresh air that deserves to be breathed in yet again this Friday night.
THIRD REVIEW = FF4 #588 - final issue
It's a eulogy and one that strikes the book with change and a fortitude for a new wheel turning. After a darkly rapturous finale to issue 587, the crescendo drops here in the requiem of the fallen Johnny Storm...and Hickman lays the final symphony in this title. His orchestrations have left tragedy in the wake of lovers of this book...and now, it's how the Marvel Universe deals with the loss of Johnny Storm that Hickman begins to process...while punctuating a new beginning and exclamation point for the Richards' family and future dynasty.
Hickman employs a word-less script for the majority of the issue as Epting hands the artistic tasks off to Nick Dragotta. I didn't find myself fond of him being suited to this book, but I warmed to it after a few reads. His grasp on Ben Grimm most of all overcomes the flaws on his depictions of Sue Storm. If he meant for a frigid and frail Susan, he did well...but at times, she was too depressing and scrawny a sketch. Nonetheless, Nick's art comes over well with Reed as well as the initial robust cameo by a plethora of Avengers who have come to witness the plight. It's a call to arms, but one too late...which is well captured in the essence of Ben Grimm.
While Sue is literally thrown to the realms of despair, it's Grimm that really sets the issue afire as the loss is felt most with Dragotta's depictions of Ben's eyes.
Many have argued that Johnny could have gone supernova and fought off offenders, and yes I am sure we'll see him in a few years reappear, but we can't underestimate the potency of the Annihilation hordes. It's a believable death and one I accept. Doubting Thomas' need look at the eerie panel below, aghast with what I consider the best page in this issue!
The ensuing funerals and memorials bring the Marvel Universe out in sirens and condolences, with a much maligned yet pivotal antagonist even appearing to pay a much earned respect to Johnny! The lack of appearances of Lyja and Crystal of the Inhumans were two that would have meant a lot to me as a fan of this team, but Hickman tries to maintain a focus on the family...and he encapsulates this once again with Grimm taking out frustrations with the aid of a few powerhouse friends. It's no pun and is one of the most memorable points to this story of woe. The manner that Ben deals with his grief...is for lack of a better word...clobbering.
There's an impending sense of gloom and further worry when we see Val's concoctions for the near future and such machinations lend well to the credence of Hickman as he sets seeds upon seeds in those flow-charts of his and we know by now later on down the line (as with 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' and 'Secret Warriors' that all his loose threads intertwine and weave together nicely later on down the road). The think-tank known as the Future Foundation seems to have their eyes set on a certain semblance of revenge and Hickman's the god-sent choice to plot this.
Reed's ploys culminate when he assesses certain threats that he felt the responsibility to quell and it's a nice throwback to those who've endured Hickman's run and to those who are jumping on now and planning to enjoy the ride! It's a nice summary of catastrophe and a kaleidoscope of disaster. And if you want an unsuspecting climax, well let's just say that 'Daddy's Home'!!!
Hickman then uses Mark Brooks' art to scribe one of the most heart-felt and gut-wrenching features I've read as he uses Spiderman, team-mate and friend, of the Richards' family to attest the dire straits of Franklin Richards. It's endearing and a sweet gesture as Peter reminisces and dons the new role of Uncle! It's a simple tour as they scoot for a NY hot-dog run, but what emanates is a well-conceived act of goodwill by Spiderman and a much needed therapy session for Franklin. Even if you're not a fan of the issue, this feature is one that touches the human soul to the fullest degree and waives off any sense of cold within our hearts.
I leave with some material to get invested in below because the Future is both Tomorrow...as it is now! Remember...The Future Foundation...not only bodes a team...but it beckons a concept! Many threads are dangling and need resolution and come March - FUTURE FOUNDATION # 1 hits stores...and Hickman/Epting are the best duo to continue telling the tale of Marvel's First Family!
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