Category Archives: Comic Book

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Movie Review By Gianni Damaia

Avengers Endgame Review

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo

I’d like to now discuss Avengers: Endgame, a film that is by no exaggeration a decade in the making. No, I’m not being political in ranking it just above The Irishman. The simple reality is that this is the movie I always wanted from The Marvel Cinematic Universe. And indeed if this was the one truly exemplary experience I had in the theatre this year, it would already have made for a better year in film than the entirety of last year. A pure nostalgia trip bottled in an emotionally impactful thrill ride. Everyone gets their moment, their own awe inducing spectacle.

It teaches exactly what it means to be a hero, the feverish persistence to do what is right no matter the costs. It features some of the best performances from its all-star cast ever put to screen, some of the best special effects ever conceived, and a devilishly beautiful climax. If all superhero movies were this, I could die happily. The greatest flaws are obvious.

If you have no attachment, this is likely not the movie to sell you (seeing as how it pivots entirely around you having a basic understanding of previous events and characters). And naturally the first act is bloated with jargon designed solely to propel us, not to educate us on the world. But what does it matter? It may not be the best movie in the MCU, but it is the best MCU movie. 9/10


Joker (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers


Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz

“I just hope my death makes more sense than my life.”

Weltschmerz. Despair. Grief. Desperation. Those are the keywords that came to mind after watching this movie. If you are a superhero film fan and you expect heroic confrontations between this crazy clown and our bats-related superhero in a tight latex suit, you can safely turn around and skip this film. The interpretation of “The Joker” by Jack Nicholson was masterful. He played a mean Joker who was obsessed with money and power. But without a doubt, Heath Ledger’s interpretation is the most legendary. He played Joker’s insanity and psychopathic behaviour in an unparalleled way. An outstanding acting performance. What Joaquin Phoenix does in this film, however, is breathtaking and brilliant at the same time. After “You were never really here” I thought Phoenix belonged to the leading group of excellent actors. After “Joker“, for me anyway, he’s already the front-runner in that group.

I am not easily impressed by a movie. But “Joker” made an immense impression on me. And not because of the violence. By the way, I found the reports of people leaving the cinema prematurely, because it became too intense, grossly exaggerated. Every average action movie today is filled with aggressive scenes full of senseless violence. I was more overwhelmed by a constant uncomfortable feeling while watching this film. A feeling of pity and vicarious shame. For Arthur Fleck, as well as for the fellow citizens he meets in his daily life. For me, the saddest scene was the stand-up comedy moment. You know Arthur’s performance will be completely ridiculous and that his would-be funny performance will backfire in his face. The most significant scene was the one with the over-concerned mother in the subway who shouts at Arthur and tells him to stop intimidating her child. After his hysterical laughing, she turns her back on him anxiously. Pitiful. Confronting. Enough incentive to derail the psyche of this disturbed soul.

Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal. Not only is he extremely psychologically vulnerable. Also physically he looks emaciated and fragile. Little more than skin and bone. It looked as if his rib cage would burst out of his body. And his shoulder blades could be ripping through his skin at any time. Skin like yellow parchment full of cracks. Just like his by antidepressants ravaged morbid mind. Antidepressants that are needed to control his uncontrollable laughter and help him through his measly existence. A hopeless life without understanding and loving feelings. Except toward his mother (Frances Conroy). An old woman who sits all day in her seat. Demented. Fading away. With a daily routine of writing letters to Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), father of Bruce Wayne and future mayor of Gotham, asking if he could help them.

“Joker” is not a relaxing film. It’s depressing to see how such an individual is harassed and spit out by society. Not a day goes by without being scorned, physically abused or treated as a leprosy patient. This downward spiral he’s getting into creates an explosive moment in which he takes matters into his own hands, resulting in a disastrous outcome. The discharge that follows afterward, has been portrayed both frighteningly and magically. That unreal and silly dance in the public toilet is probably a moment of realization that his life is at a tipping point. And without realizing it, he becomes the symbolic force behind a movement against injustices in society. A sort of evil, insane Katniss Everdeen for the outcasts. And although many don’t like to hear this, the number of similarities with our current society is alarmingly high.

Yes, “Joker” is a sort of origin story of Batman’s most infamous archenemy. On the other hand, this could be the portrait of so many others as well. Everyday people who struggle with their personality and fall through the cracks and out of the system at all levels. Individuals who are often driven into a corner and cultivate a destructive hatred toward everything and everyone. And then there’s a day their fuse blows and they resort to actions that aren’t tolerated by modern society. Not that I approve of these actions but I think it’s kind of logical consequence. “Joker” is not part of a superhero universe. This film is more realistic than any psycho-dramatic film. A film that shows how an underdog grows into a monstrous tormentor who preaches chaos and destruction. A numb, sick mind that doesn’t care. The harder you pound him, the louder his laugh. The movie “Joker” helped me understand who that figure is and where he comes from. For me the most impressive film out of the superheroes potpourri that we’ve seen these few last years. And for my part, a well-deserved Oscar statuette for Joaquin Phoenix. He’ll certainly be laughing about it uncontrollably the evening of the award ceremony.


Joker (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple



Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz

Moviie Couple here!   Yes, we are back!  The Mrs. has returned and this weekend we went out to see Joker!  Despite her lack of enthusiasm for the gluttony of comic book films lately, she was excited to see this new iteration of the Joker.  Here is a quick reminder of our scoring system.  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   We rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Joker tells the story of Arthur Fleck, a near invisible citizen of a Gotham City that looks eerily similar to 1970’s New York City. As Arthur trudges through his daily life in this cesspool of a city on the verge of destroying itself through poverty, crime and overall apathy, he attempts to make ends meet as a clown for rent and attempting to follow his dream of being a stand up comic, all the while taking care of a sick mother and dealing with his own mental health issues.  As one unfortunate event after another happen to Arthur and horrible truths begin to come to the surface about his family and his past, He begins a descent toward madness that will culminate in the creation of the killer known to the world as Joker!

Surprisingly, this film was directed by Todd Phillips, best known for the Hangover Trilogy and comedies like Old School and Due Date.  Starring as the title clown is Joaquin Phoenix in a masterful performance! Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy and Brett Cullen all co-star, but make no mistake this is nearly a one man show.  This entire film is carried by the virtuoso performance of Phoenix as he captures Arthur’s pain in each and every scene.

The Joker has been portrayed by a variety of actors over the years.  From Ceaser Romero to Jack Nicholson through the now legendary Heath Ledger version and even most recently by Jared Leto. The character is well known not only by film goers, but even more so by the millions of comic book fans that have read about the Clown Prince of Crime since his first appearance in 1940! Batman’s arch nemesis has gone through many different variations over the last eighty years or so.  Over that time frame he has never been given a definitive origin story.  Many hints and clues have been dropped, but never have the publishers of DC Comics ever settled on a one “true” tale of the creation of the Joker. Phillips and Warner Brothers Films have spoken on this subject prior to the films release. They add that this film stands outside of the comic book world and is only “their” version of the beginnings of Joker. Some interviews even have the filmmakers stating that this is not the comic book Joker at all.  This film is to be taken as its own unique film experience.

So how does it hold up? Is it a cinematic triumph? Will it be able to please film fans as well as comic book aficionados? Are there any connections to the Batman? Let’s not waste any time chattering teeth over this one and get right to the reviews! Put your face paint on, affix your red noses and lets get right to it!

Mr. Moviie Couple: As I’ve stated in previous reviews, I am a huge comic book guy!  So it goes without saying I was pretty excited to see a dark version of the Joker’s origin story.  This film was right in my wheelhouse! Right as the film begins you know you are not in a typical comic book film. This film is cinematically as far from the Marvel Cinema formula as you could possibly get. This movie exists in the world of Scorsese’s Mean Streets and Taxi Driver far from a world of Shield, Asgard or the Justice League. Phillips immediately immerses you into the crime and filthy urban setting of the 1970’s. Much like the Scorsese films mentioned earlier Arthur Fleck is a man lost in a world of crime, fear, trash (both physically and mentally) and hopelessness. Arthur has many fantasy visions throughout the film, where we are not sure what is real and what is not.  He comes across like a psychopathic Walter Mitty.

Phoenix’s performance as Fleck is a masterpiece of acting.  He completely throws himself into the role.  He physically transforms into this sad sack, loser with such abandon that it sucks you into his world.  Not only can you feel his struggle and pain in each and every scene you can feel his rage burning just underneath the surface waiting to escape. From his facial contortions to his gait (and how it changes as his feelings ebb and flow throughout the film) every detail about Arthur Fleck is captured by Phoenix, not a single detail is left out of this performance.  It is absolutely Academy Award winning level.  Joaquin Phoenix absolutely deserves every ounce of recognition that he is getting for his work here.

That being said, outside of an Oscar caliber performance, the story left me lacking.  The film makers went on record saying this is not a comic book version of Joker.  They were also on record saying that this was not a political film.  Somewhere the communications must have been mixed up because this film is absolutely rife with political undertones.  Not only that, but Warner seemed to want its cake and eat it to.  They want this film to be a Joker story, with no ties to comics or other versions, but (we never spoil here at Moviie Couple) there are multiple connections to Batman (Through Bruce Wayne and his family) throughout this film.  The connections the film does strain to make actually hurt the narrative, by seemingly forcing this connective tissue that will leave any comic book fans scratching their heads on how this can possibly all add up (alternate version of Joker/Batman dynamic or not).  The film would have been much better off not mentioning Bruce or the Wayne family in any way at all.  Making this a true stand alone Joker film (as advertised) would have made for a better experience overall.   In truth, this film could have been a great movie about a man driven mad by a city and a system that cares not at all for the downtrodden and never mentioned Joker at all.  It would have made the same impact upon its conclusion.  It almost feels like dressing this film up as Joker could be seen as a marketing ploy and nothing more.

A final issue I have with this film was one of the glorification of Joker’s killings.  Nearly all of the killings perpetrated by Joker in this film were revenge killings.  From Joker’s first murders, a Bernie Goetz type subway shooting, and all the others throughout the film, the viewer sees all the victims ( in one shape or another) as if they deserve what is coming to them.  They are either preying on others (as in the subway) or have hurt/humiliated Arthur himself.  This Joker is not an agent of chaos, that kills to show that all life is a joke.  He has much more in common with Travis Bickle the protagonist of Taxi Driver than with the arch villain of The Batman.  This film wants you to see Joker/Arthur as a revolutionary, an unexpected leader of a revolution against a system rigged by the rich and privileged to keep down the poor and unseen.  Surely there is a good story to be mined with that subject, but it is not a good Joker story.  Joker here, comes across as very sympathetic and maybe even justified through some lenses.  The film never takes him into the realm of a monster.  In one scene between Arthur and Zazie Beetz’s character, we are left to guess if he committed a monsterous hideous act, but we are never shown whether it occurs or not.  It felt to me less like a creative decision and more one left out only to continue his sympathetic arc.

In conclusion, Phoenix gives a performance that is no Joke (see what I did there?).  His acting is on a whole different level here, but the films other choices, a sympathetic Joker, holding back on the actual killing scenes (Joker should be far more brutal) Fox TV Gotham type of connections to Batman and a revolutionary arc left me feeling this film failed on all levels other than the acting.  Thanks to the acting and a very accurate film recreation of 1970s NYC I will give Joker 3.5 Bills, but the story stops it from being great.

Mrs.Movie Couple:   This was not what I was expecting to see in a Joker movie.  Thanks to my many years of marriage to Mr. Moviie Couple  I knew a little about the Joker and what makes him tick.  After watching the trailer for this movie I was preparing myself for a very scary and violent time at the theatre.

-Joaquin Phoenix was amazing!!!  I hardly recognized him from the other movies I had seen him in and he was very creepy in a stalkerish way.

-The movie looked great!  Grainy and old, it purposely looked like a film coming out in the 1970’s not just one taking place during that time.  A nice touch.

-I found it to be a slow burn and I was bored more times than I thought I would be.  While not nearly as boring as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I did nearly doze off a few times.

-It told a good story about how the system set in place to help the mentally ill continues to fail those in need.  Unfortunately this is no better today than it was back in the 70’s.

-This Joker seemed to be more sad than scary.  He wasn’t the villain I had seen in movies outside of this one.  It seemed as if he could just get good treatment or keep his medication coming he would have just lived out a very sad life. Not a very terrifying Joker at all.
-Definitely not a kids film.  Please parents DO NOT let your young teens go see this thinking its a comic book movie.  It is not a comic movie.  It actually could give young people with depression or some other undiagnosed mental illness some bad ideas.  Be very careful.  This film is for a MATURE audience.

-The supporting cast was good, especially Zazie Beetz and Robert De Niro, but they were hardly given much to do.

-I give Joker 2.5 Bills!  It was a depressing, slow story that really did not give me any thrills.  I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t excited, I just felt sad for the main character.  I’m not sure I should feel sad for Joker, but that’s all I took from the film.  I would never watch it again and can only recommend it for those wanting to see a fantastic acting job by Mr. Phoenix.  Thanks to his performance Joker gets the extra .5 without that it would be a solid 1 or 2 and a huge waste of time and money.

On the way home, We talked about Joker (or at least I did, Mrs. just listened).  I spoke about Joker in comics and how violent he can be, how he is portrayed as a monster comparatively to Batman’s hero.  Mrs. Moviie Couple simply said, “Well that was not the character we just watched”.  We both raved about the acting and how we felt it could have been a better film without any references to Joker or Batman at all.   A good film was in there, but all the baggage that comes along with the names Joker, Wayne and Gotham alters the perspective completely. Both of us were disappointed for different reasons.  My 3.5 Bills combined with her 2.5 Bills gives Joker an average of a solid 3 Bills!  A big MEH.  The acting is out of this world, but the story never rises to the level of the great performances in it.

So until next time, Smile and wave at any and all clowns you see working, you never know the true story behind the face paint.  They may just need a hug and a smile to feel a little better!  See you next time and remember “That’s Life”  Be sure to check our facebook page for a clue to our next movie up for review!  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Blu Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers: Endgame Review

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tilda Swindon, Dave Bautista, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong

The major downside to catching Avengers: Endgame in theatres was the risk of subjecting my bladder to irreparable damage. In my younger days, simply holding-it for three hours was no big challenge. Back in college, I even once participated in a drinking challenge where we’d see who could go the longest without relieving ourselves. I didn’t win, but did manage to make it almost four hours.

Those were different times and Endgame is a different type of epic. We’ve all sat through three-hour films before, but thanks to the Infinity War’s open-ended resolution and plethora of unanswered questions – not-to-mention a year’s worth of fan theories and speculation – taking a bathroom break would risk missing a key scene, plot twist or revelation. I’ll give the Russo Brothers credit for one thing: Every scene in Endgame feels vital at the time, making it a tough movie to walk away from, even for a moment.

At the showing my family and I attended, not a single theatregoer got up to leave once the film started. Afterwards, the continuous sound of flushing toilets echoed throughout the lobby for five straight minutes. I, for one, made the mistake of buying a soda before the movie, which I began the regret around the 90 minute mark. By the third act, my screaming bladder made it a challenge to fully immerse myself the film’s numerous emotional payoffs.

So despite being a fitting, larger-than-life capper to Marvel’s 22-film story arc, Endgame ultimately plays better at home, at least for those of us not endowed with iron bladders. In addition to reacquainting myself with the story thus-far by revisiting Infinity War beforehand, seeing Endgame a second time – able to hit pause when nature called – was far more enjoyable.

While I still loathe the practice of stretching a single story across multiple movies, Endgame justifies its existence – and length – due to the sheer number of characters, story threads and loose ends to tie in a manner that meets expectations of legions of MCU fans. A taunting task, to be sure, which Endgame manages to pull off. The film remembers its past while acknowledging the future, and is well-aware of the finality its title suggests (for the story arc and some major characters). In that respect, Endgame pushes all the right emotional buttons.

But unlike the original Star Wars trilogy’s most iconic moments, Endgame meets expectations without really ever exceeding them. As viewers, we already have a laundry list of plot points awaiting explanation, questions to be answered and characters’ odds of living or dying. All those boxes are checked-off – often magnificently, sometimes poignantly – but there aren’t any revelations as jaw-dropping as learning who Luke’s father is. And even at three hours, there are simply too many characters for everyone to get adequate screen time (some don’t even appear until the climax). Fans of certain characters will inevitably be disappointed by what amounts to a cameo.

However, those are minor quips. Endgame is ultimately a slam-bang crescendo to this massive franchise, the likes of which we won’t likely see again for a long time. While sweeping and epic in scope, it’s still filled with the smaller, character-driven moments that have always made the MCU engaging (something DC is just now figuring out). I’ve personally never met anyone disappointed by the outcome. I’m sure they’re out there, but maybe their bladders were simply too full to enjoy it the first time.

Hellboy (2019) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Hellboy Review

Director: Neil Marshall
Writers: Andrew Cosby (screenplay by), Mike Mignola (based on the Dark Horse Comic Book “Hellboy” created by)
Starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Thomas Haden Church

I should be up-front and state I’ve never seen either of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies, for no other reason than I simply never got around to it. I don’t read comics, either, so I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the character, his origins or even the basic premise.

I only mention this because the shadows of Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman loom large over the newly-rebooted Hellboy, especially since the corpses of the originals aren’t really that cold yet. But as someone with no basis for comparison, I don’t carry any preconceived expectations or fanboy baggage. However, I’ve enjoyed some of director Neil Marshall’s previous films – The Descent, in particular. He’s no del Toro, but at the very least, it would probably be watchable. All that being said, while Hellboy won’t ever be mistaken for a masterpiece, I can’t say I was disappointed.

An unrecognisable David Harbour plays the titular character, a gruff, trash-talking manbeast who was born in Hell, but rescued and raised to be a demon-slayer by his adoptive father, Trevor Bruttenhorn (Ian McShane). Refreshingly, this isn’t yet-another origin story. Not directly, anyway. Other than a few flashbacks and an amusingly-outlandish revelation of Hellboy’s aristocratic lineage, the story focuses on the present, where the world is threatened by the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), a sorceress once defeated and dismembered by King Arthur. Hellboy himself figures into her agenda, a seduction which has him questioning his loyalties (tempted by the likes of Jovovich, who can blame him?).

He isn’t working alone, though, getting help from plucky young medium Alice (Sasha Lane) and Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), who turns into a jaguar when he’s pissed off (though he tries like hell not to). I couldn’t tell you if they’re also lifted from the comic, but both are interesting, the latter being particularly amusing when he finally gives in to his animal side. Speaking of amusing, as someone unfamiliar with Hellboy lore, the overall tone of this film is quite similar to Deadpool. Though not as consistently funny or uproariously vulgar, it has its moments, unquestionably earning its R-rating through perpetual profanity and buckets of blood & gore. Visually, Hellboy is typical of most CGI-heavy action films, save for one wonderful sequence where our hero battles three carnivorous giants, which looks almost like Terry Gilliam took over the director’s chair while Marshall was out grabbing a smoke.

As Hellboy himself, Harbour gives a serviceable performance, but buried under that much make-up, just about anybody of similar size and able to adequately deliver their lines could have played the character. I suspect the general fan consensus will be that he’s no Ron Perlman, similar to my view that Kane Hodder made the best Jason Voorhees.

At just over two-hours, the film could have used some trimming, particularly during the middle act, which tends to meander a bit. Still, I found this version of Hellboy enjoyable enough on its own terms. That may be faint praise for die-hard fans of the comic series or del Toro’s films, some who probably had their minds made-up before watching a single frame of this one. But for those who don’t know Hellboy from Hellraiser, it’s an agreeably gory way to spend an evening.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) Movie Review By Steven Wilkins


Spider-Man Far From Home Review

Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal

First of all…go see this movie.

Now that that’s out the way, FFH delivers in so many more ways than just action alone.  The unfolding story is pretty much exactly what you would expect if you’re a fan of comics (or animated series) and know the characters enough.  If you’re just a fan of the film series then you’re still in for a treat.

The onscreen chemistry between Holland and Zendaya is awkwardly perfect and so much fun to watch take shape.  The unnerving of character within Parker is deeply felt from the start of the film and almost never let’s up until the movies end.  As for the action, it’s ever present and amazing as Peter and the new hero on the scene, Mysterio (Gyllenhaal), fight to ward off elemental beings  from a different universe before they destroy earth.

With some twists and turns, FFH is a blast and though gone, Tony Stark/Iron Man is present without ever being present. There are two end credits scene, the first of which is quite the jaw dropping eye opener, the second being a bit comical but also pointing in a certain direction obviously to what may lie ahead.

Whether IMAX, standard or 3D, FFH is absolutely enjoyable and a solid end to Phase 3.  Get out and go see it!