Suicide Squad #1 Review: One Step Away From Greatness

Suicide Squad #1 builds upon the same idea that the past books have and quickly establishes the premise of Amanda Waller gathering various super villains to fight as a team on black ops missions nobody else will know about. With the recent release of the new movie, Suicide Squad is a popular topic and probably one DC wants to push in their new Rebirth series. While the individual members of the Suicide Squad are lovable, the story and idea feels overworked at this point. The book, which is only one issue in, needs to quickly get past the introductory portion and move into the team going on cool adventures.

Rob Williams hasn’t done anything bad so far from a writing standpoint, but it would be really nice to see him break things open and send readers on a wild ride with this team. Suicide Squad has the opportunity to be a great book, but it needs to get readers attached to the characters and put them in moral grey areas that leave people questioning whether to support the individual character they like or the team and what is morally best for the situation. Villains as heroes is a really fun topic to explore, but if they can set it up to make these villains likable, then it should become a complex and fun book.

The art so far has felt pretty standard, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The legendary Jim Lee is working with Scott Williams on this book, and Lee’s style is so traditional to comics that you can never not enjoy it. There are definitely some more unique artists around, but Jim Lee really set the bar for comic book art and he continues to bring great style, technique and detail to his work. There were tons of great scenes in this book and each panel has so much detail to it that the pages feel very thorough. For Suicide Squad there is always a lot going on because there are the individuals as well as the team aspect which set up for Lee and Williams to deliver some beautifully drawn scenes.

Verdict

Suicide Squad #1 hopefully gets all of the set up and origin out of the way for the most part, because the majority of readers are already familiar with that information. Once this book finds its footing and is given the ability to focus on the missions, it should be a ton of fun to read.

Rating3/5 

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The 5 DC Rebirth Titles I’m Most Excited For

The 5 DC Rebirth Titles I'm Most Excited For

I’ve been on a pretty big DC kick lately and am really excited to complete the couple of New 52 stories I’m reading and move on to the upcoming Rebirth titles. There is so much coming out of the Rebirth movement and it’s a fresh start on all of DC’s comics, which means there is going to be a lot of juicy content to read through.

 

5. Batman

Batman is last on my list because I never have any doubts about the Dark Knight. You basically are guaranteed to get a good story out of Batman and the bat family. Batman is one of the very few New 52 titles that I actually really enjoy and I’m only about halfway through the run. Scott Snyder has a good grasp on the character and I can’t see myself not enjoying a Batman story. The new triple Joker idea is super interesting and it adds a fresh idea to the biggest rivalry DC has, so I’m really excited to see how that alters Batman going forward.

4. Deathstroke

I love stories focused on villains or anti-heroes and adding depth to their stories and characters. I don’t know a whole lot about Deathstroke, and that’s exciting to me because I’m hoping that this story can make me love the character and really get in touch with his personality. I like that the description for the book talks about the character having the chance to re-invent himself, because, while I don’t need to see Deathstroke have some change of heart of personality change, I like the idea that he is going to possibly be confronting his past.

To me, the pitch they’ve given us for Deathstroke seems really well-rounded and like it’s going to be a really good solo story. While I haven’t read anything by Christopher Priest, I definitely know who he is. I’m excited to have these two come together because it only increases my interest. Deathstroke is just a cool character, and adding some more complexity to him is a great opportunity.

3. New Super-Man

This is a super interesting concept to me, but I think it’s a fantastic one. “A young man living in Shanghai receives the powers of Superman,” is really cool and sort of offers a neat new spin on a YA Super-Man character. I’m all for diversity, but I prefer there to be originality behind it, so while this isn’t anything unique in that it just gives pre-existing powers to a new character, it’s completely separated (at least for now) from all of the DC titles in America.

I’m just curious to see something new here. I love the idea that this kid is going to have his whole life changed and how he will use his powers in China. This is the most intriguing title to me and something I’m hoping is super awesome.

2. The Flash

The Flash family is coming back!! It would be naive to not have this on here but it seems like the culmination of everything that makes the Flash such a rich character is being restored. I love the Flash, everyone loves the Flash and I really wanna see awesome adventures with Barry and all of his disciples just like we get with Batman.

1. Titans

I think everyone who is a previously established DC Comics fan in any form is going to be the most excited for the new Titans series. WALLY WEST…. Wally is back and on top of that he’s back in a series with Dick, Donna, Garth, and the gang. I’m just thrilled to see these characters back together and know it’s going to be amazing. Not only are these great characters reuniting but the phenomenal Dan Abnett. My favorite comic run ever is Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy back in 2008. He is one of my favorite writers and I’m super thrilled to see him on such a main series for Rebirth. His deal with DC also has him writing Aquaman, which is why I’ll probably read that as well.

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The Flash Season 2 Review: Does Fan Service Outweigh Flaw?

The Flash Season 2 Review: Does Fan Service Outweigh Flaw?

CW’s The Flash just finished up its second season along with the other DC TV shows including Arrow and Legends of Tomrrow. Out of all these shows, The Flash is by far the most fun to watch because, in my opinion, it properly balances the lighthearted nature of the character with the drama that superheroes face. I immediately find myself thinking about how The Flash is my favorite of the DCTV shows, but then I stop and wonder if my being a fan of the character and comics gets in the way, because I always get caught up in the fan service the include and ignore the flaws until the next day. The Flash has had two really great seasons, they have been fun and exciting, but that doesn’t take away from the flaws or weak writing, which is why I hope to see some things change going into the third season.

 

Spoilers about comics and the show, so if you don’t want to know the possible fate of certain characters, don’t read on

 

 

 

This second season brought a lot of new elements to the show that will hopefully have some great long-term impact. Wally, despite starting out pretty stale and poorly written, has grown on me and become a decent character who I’m hoping continues to get better. The Velocity formulas were introduced and it seems like Jesse Quick will eventually turn into the speedster that she is in the comics which is exciting because we are seeing some elements of the Flash family being built up into the show. We also got to see a significantly sized down version of the Infinite Crisis story during his battle with Zoom, which was pretty cool visually. On top of this, the death of Zoom by the Speedforce creates the Black Flash, who looked phenomenal and presumably will make a return at some point in the future. There are a lot of great things to come that should be the basis of more rich plot lines depending on where the writers decide to take things and these are also elements that make the Flash such a great character with great stories, the balance of sci-fi and reality.

The second season ends in a similar fashion to the first season with Barry running back in time to the moment of his mother’s death, but, this time he saves her. When I was watching the first season finale live I was shaking my girlfriend while repetitively saying FLASHPOINT, FLASHPOINT, FLASHPOINT. Yet, we actually ended up watching Barry go against his emotions and let everything happen how it should be. While I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be getting the television show’s take on one of the greatest stories, I was actually super impressed that the character was able to be so mature and wise about things. I actually was really happy with the decision they made. During the finale of season two, we see how shaken Barry truly is and how big of a tole the hero role is taking on him. He continues to watch the people closest to him die or be hurt, he keeps getting betrayed by those closest to him, and, to him, it feels like despite everything he accomplishes, it comes at too great a cost to feel like he’s actually having an impact.

They chose to end season two with the set up for Flashpoint. Once again we watch the same scene play out again; however, this time Barry isn’t thinking rationally and he is operating off of complete emotion. He saves his mother leaving us with the question, what type of a butterfly effect will this have on the present day? All of these things are a Flash fan and comic lover’s dreams come true. With the DCMU being a complete mystery right now it’s unbelievable to see all of these great classic DC elements get the recognition they deserve, and I love The Flash for giving us that, but eventually I stop and wonder, does all of this outweigh the flawed continuity and repetitive plot points?

It’s the second season in a row where the show’s villain has been an enemy speedster who takes on a false identity to dupe team Flash into thinking they have a friend, but are really a foe. Jay wasn’t that great of a character and I honestly couldn’t stand Teddy Sears until he started getting to play a villain, which he pulled off much more convincingly. Zoom was built up to be this big threat but there were just so many times that either him or Flash could have ended things. My biggest problem was when they had Cisco vibe a trapped Zoom on Earth 2; by this point they knew that Jay was dying from the failed Velocity formulas and they had sealed up all of the breaches leaving him left for dead. He wasn’t shown doing anything to really force Barry to come after him or re-open the connection between Earth’s. At the end of the season Zoom also wouldn’t necessarily have to race Barry, but only charge up the machine by running around it twice the amount. It’s plot points like those that become too hard to ignore after a while and also just seem like lazy writing.

Despite stumbles along the way, it doesn’t mean The Flash lacks any good or extremely well done ideas either. The moments Barry shares with his three father figures always feel extremely meaningful and I love his connection with all of those characters. Barry’s interactions with those characters are usually when we see how human and level headed he is as a person. This is sort of why the end of the season bugged me, because it seems like Barry has just thrown everything he’s learned on his journey out the window and let himself become consumed by his emotions. He decides to save his mother without taking into consideration the repercussions that it could cause. I understand that Barry is tired of losing people, but I think his actions are pretty selfish, especially considering what he has gained this season. Barry gets a non-evil Wells figure back into his life, he actually develops a relationship with Wally by season’s end and Iris even wants to start a relationship with him, which should be icing on the cake. The naive and impulsive decision seems so out of character and is another recycled plot idea.

The Flash had a strong second season and I have no doubts that I will love the third season just as much. Flashpoint is an amazing story and idea that will be another amazing thing to watch on live television. I am really hoping they stretch out the new reality for the entire first half of the season and think that would be interesting to watch. All I would hope to see from The Flash is more originality going forward. They do so well by bringing important classic comic elements to life that are vital to the character, but I just want it to be different. I would love to see them do a full on Gorilla Grodd Planet of the Apes attempt or a focus on the Rogues working together, just something that will change things up. I hope that Berlanti and co. aren’t getting stretched too thin having to focus on four shows at once, but we’ll find out the truth behind that this Fall.

How did you feel about The Flash season 2 overall? Let me know, I’d love to discuss it!

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DC Rebirth Review: The DC We All Know and Love is Back!

DC Rebirth Review: The DC We All Know and Love is Back!

Five years ago DC Comics decided that they thought it would be a good time to finally reboot their entire universe and start fresh for the new generations of comic readers. We all know how the story goes at this point; Flashpoint happens, it reboots the universe, the New 52 begins. Now, there was a bunch of good and bad within the New 52, and it was a brave and bold move by DC to decide to wipe away decades of history and start anew, but in the long-term things just didn’t hold up. It has only been five years since the inception of the New 52, so when Rebirth was announced, it rightfully freaked everyone out. Was this another universe reboot? Had DC acknowledged their mistakes but decided to scrap the new universe? It was an interesting announcement, but, in Geoff Johns we trust.

Despite not being a DC Comics expert and trying to catch up with A LOT, I absolutely loved this book. I have enough knowledge to know the deal with Wally, and he was the perfect story to focus on because of the emotional wrapped up in his character. For me, seeing Wally try to find his way back to reality by having a single person remember him was really sad, and I wasn’t sure if he would make it back. When he decides to visit Barry, when Wally thinks all hope is lost, I was pretty sad and thought that it might actually be the end; yet, when Barry remembers and they both begin to break down from the flood of memories that come rushing back, it hits you in the feels really hard.

The use of Wally trying to get back is also a great way to re-introduce us to what all of the characters are up to. Something that the story does really well is transition us into this new era of storytelling for DC by acknowledging the changes of the New 52 and that we can expect changes going forward. Wally talks about how Green Arrow and Black Canary are meant to be but currently don’t even know each other, he watches with familiarity as Aquaman proposes to Mera, and it’s things like this that help blend the past and the present of DC Comics for the readers.

Throughout the story, Wally keeps discussing the idea that it wasn’t actually Flashpoint that launched the New 52 and changed things, but an outside force who was attacking them. In the end, we learn that it was the Watchmen, or, at least, Dr. Manhattan. It’s a really interesting concept to move forward with and something that I’m excited to read through. This story positions the Watchmen as enemies and that should be a really fun confrontation.

Overall, DC Rebirth was an amazing comic. People keep commenting on the fact that it was the best DC Comic to be released in the past 10-15 years, which I can’t claim, but I can at least believe. The story presented carried a ton of emotional weight and is an extremely unique idea that feels like it’s going to work. Geoff Johns knows what he is doing and shows us that time and time again. I’ve only recently started getting back into DC comics on a hardcore level; I know I have a lot to catch up with, but I can already see the difference between some New 52 stories and Rebirth. What it comes down to is Rebirth had he emotion and heart that goes missing in the New 52. I probably won’t be caught up or following the Rebirth titles right away, but I can’t wait until I get there.

 

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Top 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2015

Just like my Top 10 Movies post, I’m going to put together my Top 10 Favorite Television shows from 2015. If you have any interest in just seeing the listed shows without any reasoning then you can go read them on the TV Overmind Top 10 List; however, I will warn you that my choice for the top spot has changed since I had to submit that! This list will also include my honorable mentions, because there are plenty of shows that were hard for me to cut and I’d still like to discuss. That being said, these shows are all my personal taste, and there is plenty of TV that I sadly haven’t been able to get around to this year! Let’s get into it then…

Honorable Mention

Review:

Review is a show that I wish more people were watching on Comedy Central. It stars one of my favorite comedians Andy Daly and is a crazily goofy show that has him reviewing anything related to life no matter how good or bad it might turn out for him. Season one of Review was awesome, but I thought that Season two got a lot crazier and even darker at points with its stories. The show’s episodic plots were tons of fun and a lot more drawn out but the seasonal arc was also a great development for the show and some of its supporting characters. I’m really looking forward for the next set of scenarios Forrest Macneil gets into and hope that this show continues to rise in popularity!

You’re The Worst:

You’re the Worst was a show that I picked up this year before the second season started and really enjoyed what it gave us when kicking things off. There was a bunch that I liked about the show, but also felt that some characters and plot ideas were a bit of a stretch for my taste. However, the second season of You’re the Worst took things into a completely different direction that was just as funny but also much more dark for great reasons. The show analyzed the characters on a whole new level and was probably the best display of what it’s like to have and deal with depression that I’ve ever seen. I really praise this show for it’s subtle display of emotions and being unafraid to explore these types of topics, which has me loving it more and more.

Comedy Bang Bang: 

I picked up Comedy Bang Bang this year on a recommendation from my cousin. He got me into both the show and the podcast and I immediately fell in love with both. Comedy Bang Bang is probably the most clever and hilarious sketch comedy show I’ve ever seen and I love how it has continued to stay fresh each episode. There are tons of great celebrities and comedians who come onto this show as well as familiar faces always showing up to play fun characters. This year lots of people questioned how the show would work with the departure of long time co-host Reggie Watts and how his replacement, Kid Cudi, would do in the role. The show suffered no problems and continued to flow onward like normal, which shows that more people should be watching.

Mad Men:

Mad Men came to a close this year and tied up its story in the most perfect way possible. This show has had a tremendous run and has definitely had ups and downs along the way, but moved towards its finale in a really strong fashion. I loved the way this show sent Don Draper off and basically summed up his back and forth on the inability to be happy despite having everything a man could ever want. The finale itself was perfect and I loved the ambiguous ending that allows you to decide what you think happened based on what you thought about the character and what he deserved. Mad Men was an amazing time piece that had great acting and brought us something we’ve never seen on television before.

The Americans:

I picked up The Americans this year after making a deal with a friend to each watch a show of the other’s choosing. He chose that I had to finally check out The Americans so I binged all three seasons relatively quickly and definitely a big fan of the show now. What I love most about the Cold War show is the amount of tension it can build, the great characters it has established and the music choices during some crazy scenes. The only reason The Americans probably doesn’t make my actual list is because I haven’t gotten to experience it on live TV yet, so all of the weekly tension builders and cliffhangers haven’t had the chance to set in fully, but don’t be surprised to see it pop up next year!

The Top 10

Silicon Valley/ iZombie

10. Tie: Silicon Valley & iZombie

Silicon Valley: This has been one of the most fun HBO shows in awhile and is definitely a top comedy favorite of mine. It probably deserves a higher spot on this list, but regardless it’s going to get talked about. Since season one the show really was the anti- Entourage that adapted the idea of a bunch of guys trying to make it to the modern generation. Nowadays everything is focused on the tech scene and trying to develop the next big app, which this show highlights extremely well. From living in an incubator to dealing with big companies, Silicon Valley is a pretty honest interpretation of what goes on out in California and continues to get better as the guys keep attempting to make Pied Piper work. Each character brings their own type of comedy to the table and as a whole they are awesome to watch, which has me looking forward to this as much as shows like Game of Thrones.

iZombie: This show was easily the best surprise in 2015 form me. I had heard of the comic series but it was one of the few that I hadn’t ever looked into or read before, which was kind of nice for a change. The cast has amazing chemistry and the show is a nice alternative take on the episodic mystery genre. It has fun with itself and is another entity making zombies and the supernatural creatures cool again. What really draws me to iZombie is the long-term plot and how the growth or destruction of the zombie population will impact the regular world. iZombie does a great job with the character relationships, the romance as well as the comedy which makes it an awesomely complete show.

Marvel and Netflix's Daredevil

9. Marvel’s Daredevil

Daredevil kicked off Marvel’s Netflix shows and really paved the pathway for what is to come. The show was much more adult to the MCU’s big screen counterparts and gave us a much darker look into a different part of the Marvel Universe. Charlie Cox was a great choice for Matt Murdock and the supporting cast all really killed it with their roles. Vincent D’Onofrio was another standout as major classic villain, the Kingpin, who brought tons of complexity to a villain. The biggest thing that the MCU lacks is villains who are actual complete characters and people that we can connect with. This was a great origin story and they have tons more to explore, especially now that we’ve been introduced to all of these important characters.

Doctor Who

8. Doctor Who

Last season on Doctor Who I really fell in love with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor but thought the storytelling was extremely week and put too much focus on Clara and her relationship. This season was a lot better and gave the Doctor great two-part stories to expand the character to new levels. The show’s penultimate episode after Clara’s departure was one of, if not, the best episode I’ve seen since it came back in 2005 and Capaldi by himself brought forth tons of different emotions. Honestly, it was decisions made in the finale that place this so low on my list, because I am one of the people who think the writer’s loved their Clara so much that they needed to focus on her yet again. When Clara caused her own downfall with the Raven I actually respected how they wrote her out of the show, but when the finale brought her back and then left open the loop hole for her to pop up in the future I was pretty disappointed.

Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot

7. Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot was an awesome new show that felt complete original and took a page out of Silicon Valley‘s book to talk about modern technological topics. The main character Elliot, is a really cool dark anti-hero that has unique views on the world which makes him a cool and interesting person. The show reminds me a lot of Breaking Bad with how thrilling it is and basically not knowing what’s going to come next. There are a ton of very tense moments and I love how high the stakes are going forward. The creator of Mr. Robot has stated that this first season was pretty much all intro and things are really going to break open moving forward, which has me extremely excited, especially with more and more great shows finishing up.

Parks-and-Recreation-Final-Season

6. Parks & Recreation

Parks & Rec has created such an amazing legacy and sadly it finished for good in 2015. The show, which had a first season we will pretend didn’t happen, turned out to be the perfect transition after The Office finished up. Parks & Rec gave us such phenomenal characters to grow attached to and wrote them near perfectly through all seven seasons. The last season handled things pretty amazingly by time jumping and providing a little more insight into the end-game for the characters, which I believe was a smart decision. The final season had tons of fun with itself and made sure to deliver another unique plot while also building to an emotionally satisfying ending. Parks & Rec season seven had even more great writing with tons of terrific jokes and ended on the perfect note.

Game of Thrones

5. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones continues to get more and more interesting after every season. The program is moving forward with awesome stories and continues to build the characters well while also bringing new ones into the fold each season as well. The latest season of Game of Thrones gave us some pretty crazy scenes from things like the White Walkers and events on the Wall, incorporation of the dragons, and has most of the characters involved with unique story lines that are all fun to watch. The fifth season of this show continues to display how strong of a group works on it because the writing, acting, visual effects, and everyone involved continue to be fantastic.

Master of None

4. Master of None

I had high hopes for Master of None from the moment that I heard it was announced. When the show finally came out, I was pumped to check it out, especially seeing early bingers and reviews calling it the Louie for 20-30 year old people. I still think that is the best description because the show is simply about life and delivers powerful comedy, drama and romance throughout the ten episodes. The show gets into topics about gender differences, cultural and racial differences, as well as tons of relationship ideas that all feel relatable and realistic. Aziz Ansari has made all of the right choices for this show and found a way to bring back a normal version of Tom Haverford just as Parks & Rec finished up. Master of None has immediately become one of my favorite new shows and I’m hoping that it can continue to be as strong as its first season. Going forward, if they can create more episodes like “Nashville,” “Mornings,” and “Finale,” then I have no fear.

South Park

3. South Park

South Park has been such a long running TV show at this point that I am always excited and worried for it at the same time. It’s a show I can rely on and know it will always be hilarious, but worry at the idea that they have to find a new way to stay fresh and relevant. The 19th season took the show in a new direction where it finally used a serialized plot over the entire season. It brought tons of amazing new things like PC Principal, who is such a great addition to the show, as well as Caitlyn Jenner. While each individual episode still had its own story, Parker and Stone found a great way to attack the nation’s overly politically correct nature for what was a great arc. To me, this season of South Park just showed that the show can do whatever it wants because the creators are experienced and smart. I’m not sure what will happen for the show’s 20th season, but I think with the timing of the 2016 election they will continue to roll with the Garrison/Trump idea.

Fargo

2. Fargo

After its first extremely successful season, Fargo returned by taking us to a different time period with some new characters. The show continued to reveal why it’s one of television’s best by taking things to a whole new level of weird and random. I love what Fargo accomplished in its second season, especially for a cast I might have somewhat doubted before the show began. Each episode became more intense than the last and the story only got better and better as things progressed.

The Leftovers

1. The Leftovers

When most of the shows that I watch went on their winter hiatus or finished for the year, I finally decided to binge The Leftovers like I had been planning to. This show was one I knew I had to watch, so I decided to jump in and not stop until I was caught up. I loved everything the show did with its first season, but was completely blown away with what it followed that up with. I feel like the show took a really bold step forward by deciding to change things so much, but it paid off because of the conclusion that really tied everything together. “International Assassin” was my favorite individual episode of television for all of 2015 and the show’s finale, “I Live Here Now,” brought me to tears with how much heart and emotion it created. Justin Theroux continues to blow me away with his performances and the rest of the cast all do phenomenal jobs with their roles. I’m so happy that there will be one more season of this show, because it is masterful and I’m excited to explore this world a little further while tying up story lines for the characters.

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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2015

2015 has been a pretty great year for movies that brought us a ton of great adaptations, revivals and sequels. While every year has its fair share of bad movies, 2015 was one filled with plenty of good to outweigh the bad. While there are tons of films I want to give recognition, the list only contains ten spots, and it’s been tiring to condense everything down and make these hard choices. Some movies on this list might not be critically acclaimed or Academy Award worthy, but that doesn’t matter. These are the motion pictures that gave me the most enjoyment while sitting in the theater during 2015. That said, let’s kick things off with my honorable mentions.

P.S.: I unfortunately haven’t seen The Hateful Eight yet… I’m planning on seeing it 1/2 or 1/3 but have been away and didn’t want to watch it on my computer for my first viewing. Might ninja edit it in later. 

Honorable Mentions

 Furious 7:

Furious 7 is the seventh installment to the Fast & Furious franchise that began back in 2001 as an action movie with cool cars that borrowed the plot outline of Point Break. The series dragged along with some mediocre movies, eventually dying after fan interest disappeared after the third movie Tokyo Drift. This series has always been a guilty pleasure for me; growing up Vin Diesel was the coolest guy around and I loved watching him be cool while driving fast cars. I was thrilled when the series picked back up and decided to have fun with itself, moving towards the direction of being filled with absurd action. Two years ago, the series’ second leading man (and Diesel’s real life best friend), Paul Walker, unexpectedly passed away leaving the future of the F&F franchise up in the air. Yet, Diesel and the crew moved on to complete what was one of the best Fast and Furious movies to date that included a beautiful and tear jerking sendoff for Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor.

The Gift:

The Gift was a movie that I originally had no intention of seeing. I would catch the trailers on TV and almost laugh at how goofy the movie looked each time I saw Jason Bateman’s character say, “OH GOD!” However, The Gift turned out to be a classic case of terrible trailer – great movie, and it turned out to be one of my favorites in 2015. I’m a big fan of Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton and was delighted to see them both in such a great serious thriller like this. The Gift was an awesome directorial debut for Edgerton who, along with Bateman, gave a great acting performance in what was my most surprising film of the year.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation:

The Mission Impossible franchise has never been a series that I’ve fully hopped on board as a fan of until more recently. i saw the first two movies when i was younger and thought that they were cool, but wasn’t blown away with them like others had been. M:I3 came out and I enjoyed it, but again, wasn’t as into it as others that I knew. Ghost Protocol came out and completely changed my mind about the movies. I wasn’t sure they could top what they had pulled off in the fourth installment, but, to my surprise, Rogue Nation pulled it off and delivered a movie of equal quality. The cast in the more recent Mission: Impossible movies has been the main draw for me and the addition of Rebecca Ferguson only made it stronger this time around. Hopefully Mission: Impossible can continue to be over the top action spy movies that are well made, because Rogue Nation showed that they know what they are doing and Ghost Protocol wasn’t an accident.

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl:

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was a movie that I really had no expectations about going into the theater. I thought that it looked pretty cool but, again, didn’t know what to expect. What I was given was a super artsy, super emotional, awesome movie that even made me tear up by the time it was done. Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke really stood out in this movie and it really nailed high school stereotypes and what it’s like to feel out of the loop. Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Molly Shannon each brought some necessary experience to the cast in their supporting roles to really round things out and make this a complete film. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl had a bunch of heart and fun while delivering a very emotional finish in what was a great artistic movie.

What We Do In The Shadows:

What We Do In The Shadows was easily the most underrated comedy of 2015. I hadn’t heard about this film until my cousin recommended it to me and I immediately knew I would be on board. I’m a Flight of the Concords fan and love Jermaine Clement, who was hilarious in this movie. What We Do In The Shadows took a step into the supernatural genre that has been polluted by movies like Twilight and while the movie wasn’t scary, it at least made these types of characters fun again. The film was ridiculous and over the top but a clever comedy with a solid story. The last I heard, there is definitely a sequel in the works, which would be amazing.

Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs was a movie that I had hoped would be good enough to possibly contend for best picture this year, especially with my favorite actor, Michael Fassbender, leading the way as Jobs himself. I really loved how Steve Jobs was structured and the entire film felt like a play with different acts rather than a flowing movie. We watch the genius become the genius as he goes through the different stages of business and life. Fassbender was absolutely phenomenal and I think he definitely deserves a nomination for Best Actor because he not only looked enough like older Jobs, he had the mannerisms, tone and demeanor of the man as well. This was definitely not a perfect movie and I know plenty of it was exaggerated or changed to be more appealing to an audience, but I loved how they displayed the character and it was just barely pushed off of my actual top 10 list.

The Top 10 

Spotlight-Sicario

10. Tie: Spotlight & Sicario:

I actually feel bad having to stick both of these movies in my number ten spot because they are easily deserving of a higher position, but I wanted to make sure they both got some recognition.

Spotlight:  Spotlight was a movie that I knew was getting a lot of critical acclaim, but I wondered how much I would personally like it. The cast was about as well rounded as I could have asked for but the topic seemed like it would be a lot of talking with a known outcome; however, I really loved this movie. I’m not really a religious person, and during the time in 2001 that the Spotlight team was breaking all of this I barely remember it happening. 9/11 really clogs my memory from the time, but there was always news popping up throughout the following years about church rape scandals. Spotlight does a great job of presenting a tough topic and showing how much it impacted people because it was the first time that people were willing to speak up about the truth that had been shoved under the rug until then. The one line in this movie that really stuck out to me the most was that, “this wasn’t just physical abuse, it was spiritual too.” It really bothered me to think that these priests knew they were taking advantage of people’s faith to do these horrible things. Spotlight was an amazingly put together film that shows some great traditional film making as well as good investigative journalism that seems to have disappeared in 2015.

Sicario: Sicario was something that I assumed I would love when I saw all of the pieces put together. You get an all-star cast that includes Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro as well as recent king of directing dark thrillers, Denis Villeneuve. I was most excited to see Villeneuve return after his other successful movies Prisoners and Enemy and he was able to outdo himself again. Sicario steps into an extremely dark part of the world that most people probably have no clue exists where the government is walking on the edge of their power and jurisdiction to control and influence the war on drugs. I absolutely loved the mysterious aspect that this film had by keeping viewers in the dark on the full scope of the plot. They attach us to Emily Blunt’s character because she is just as much in the dark as we are until we realize that she is being used for some morally questionable things. Everyone absolutely loved Benicio Del Toro, who plays the Sicario, Alejandro, who is just an absolute badass. Benicio really steals the show in Sicario and the film is an all around win that is dark, thrilling and crazy in the best ways.

Side note: There are rumors about a sequel to Sicario that focuses solely on Benicio’s character. I’m definitely interested in this, but don’t care whether it gets made or not, because the movie by itself was amazing and I almost don’t want to know more about these characters.

Inside-Out

9. Inside Out

Inside Out is another film that clearly doesn’t deserve this low of a position on my list, but here we are. You can always count on Disney Pixar to put out a good film that instantly has a chance to become a classic. Inside Out did exactly that. This movie found a way to connect with just about everyone, because it’s a universal experience to grow up. The clever way to analyze the mind of a child going through a series of big events in her life was phenomenal and each of the voice actors chosen for their roles were absolutely spot on. The biggest thing I took away from Inside Out is how well the movie communicated that it’s okay to address all of your feelings and there is never any reason to ignore or bury who you are. It was an original and creative adventure movie from Disney Pixar that is easily on par with the likes of Toy Story for this new generation of kids growing up. I loved this movie, and whether the studio decides to do sequels or not doesn’t really matter to me; however, I think that there are infinite possibilities they could take advantage of and really grow these characters through different stages of life in a similar way that Toy Story did.

Creed

8. Creed

Creed was a movie that I was initially skeptical about last year when I heard they wanted to move forward with the Rocky franchise at all. Being from Philadelphia and watching the original Rocky films with my father when I was growing up, they have a special place in my heart. While the back half of the series really dropped the ball and never lived up to the original two, they slightly brought things back to glory with 2006’s Rocky Balboa. I really enjoyed that film but never expected to see them continue things at all, and I really didn’t know what to think about Creed. Yet, as soon as I heard Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan were attached, I was on board and had faith it would, at the very least, be an acceptable installment that carried on the legacy of the Rocky films. This film completely exceeded all of my expectations and delivered a movie that had the most heart out of anything in 2015. Michael B. Jordan was phenomenal and Sylvester Stallone gave one of, if not, his best performance ever. Creed is an emotional underdog story that fully captures the heart and feeling that the original Rocky and continues the story and series in the best way possible.

7. The Martian

I was initially turned on to The Martian when my cousin recommended I read the book (yes, same cousin mentioned earlier). He brought up that it was being adapted into a movie, which I had heard about, but didn’t know it was such a recent book. Upon finishing the book I looked up the cast list and was in disbelief because I knew that they had perfectly cast each character for the film. Matt Damon was terrific in this role and had the perfect personality to deliver the smart but relaxed fun guy. In fact, I described Mark Watney as if Will from Good Will Hunting grew up. For being an isolation movie, this is one of the best, because the character is written so well that you can easily get behind him and his interesting quest for survival. The Martian really nails its adaptation and pretty much incorporates all but two or three major parts of the book but nails the tone enough to condense it down to a reasonable time amount. The Martian was an all around fun movie and each actor thrived in their role to deliver a great time in the theater with some laughs while a guy was stuck on Mars.

Ex Machina

6. Ex Machina

Ex Machina was another extremely underrated movie of the year. While What We Do In The Shadows flew under the radar as a comedy film, Ex Machina was one that is definitely Oscar worthy but won’t receive the full praise it deserves. This movie was able to create a completely original take on the dystopian sci-fi genre and there were only three characters the whole time. Domhnall Gleeson is 2015’s most underrated actor having been in some of the year’s best films and he delivered another great performance in this. I’m so happy to see him getting praise and slowly sliding into roles that will get him bigger notice. Domhnall is sort of in the position that Oscar Isaac has been the past couple of years, but now Isaac is a full blown movie star, having lead roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as playing Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. Oscar Isaac is another main character in this movie and boy does he put on a show; his character, Nathan, is this interesting yet creepy guy who lives in isolation and you are worried could snap at any point. Isaac is one of my favorite actors and I love seeing how diverse he can be, his performance in Ex Machina shows another side of his wide acting ability and his coordinated dance scene (you know what I’m talking about) is possibly the best scene of 2015. Alicia Vikander also deserves a huge shout out for her role in Ex Machina because she has had a breakout year as well, and her portrayal of the A.I. character, Ava, was awesome.

Room

5. Room 

Room was easily the most fucked up movie I saw in 2015, but for all of the right reasons. This story was amazingly emotional and upsetting while also being beautiful at the same time. The films is about a girl who gets kidnapped and is raped and kept in captivity in a backyard shed where she raises her son under protective circumstances. The mother creates a whole creation story to explain everything in the “Room” and keep her son from wondering why he can’t go outside. The movie is horribly sad but wonderful at the same time because it displays how far a mother is willing to go in order to save her son. There were extreme high tension moments in this movie and I didn’t know what would happen next. During the climactic scene I even found myself holding my breath in the theater, ready to break down because I wanted these two characters to break free and survive. Brie Larson gives a wonderful performance of someone who has borderline given up all hope in life yet still has something to live for in her son. On top of this, Jacob Tremblay gives an amazing performance for only being nine years old and I wouldn’t be shocked or disappointed if he received a supporting actor nomination at the Academy Awards this year.

Mad Max: Fury Road

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

I’ve seen all of the old Mad Max films and while I liked them, I was never as huge a fan as others are, but I was pretty excited to see that they would be bringing the series back with George Miller intact. I loved the choice of Tom Hardy for Max, and was happy with the way he presented the role. It’s funny, because Hardy does a lot of grunting and this is one of the few roles where that is fully acceptable. The first thing that immediately stood out to me in Fury Road was the scenery and the world that they were able to create and immerse us in. Everything looked stunning and when I saw the movie for a second time in IMAX 3D it added even more depth to the beautiful sequences. The big wide landscapes were breathtaking and I just loved all of the different color palettes this movie brought out. The second thing was Charlize Theron’s performance as Furiousa, which I believe was one of the best female lead roles in all of 2015. Otherwise, the film delivered a ton of great themes that felt extremely real for an end of the world scenario where things like bullets, fuel and water are the biggest and most important forms of currency. I haven’t even talked about the religious themes or the character of Nux, which is a whole other fantastic part of the film. I’m curious to see if Mad Max: Fury Road will receive any praise from the Academy, but I would hope it can at least qualify for a couple of nominations, even one for Theron would be amazing.

The End of the Tour

3. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour is a movie I was extremely excited to see and pretty intrigued about. I really discovered David Foster Wallace during 2014 through a friend during our final year of college. I was blown away by the complexity of a single man and was pumped to see how they could bring him to the big screen. Jason Segel was really phenomenal in this role and seems to have nailed the demeanor and tone of Foster Wallace down to the mannerisms. His interaction with Jesse Eisenberg was awesome and the two worked really well together on screen. The End of the Tour was a really interesting look at life and how unique people can truly be, especially writers. David Foster Wallace was a super interesting guy and it’s sad that the world lost him so young, but the ideas he expressed through his writing were pretty great and I loved that this movie helped raise awareness about who Wallace was.

Brooklyn

2. Brooklyn

I had been excited to go check out Brooklyn when I saw the cast and the trailer, which seemed super interesting and romantic at the same time. Saoirsie Ronan was great as the lead and I was thrilled to see her in such an amazing role that will get her tons of notification. Brooklyn is a love story in multiple aspects because not only does it deliver the growth of a strong relationship but it also is a love story between a girl and the places that she calls home. Eilis has the chance to immigrate to America and leaves her entire family and life behind to make something of her life, which is not an easy task for anyone, even now with all of the technology and ways we still have to stay connected. Yet, she goes and eventually falls in love with a young Italian boy named Tony. Emory Cohen, an actor I was not familiar with before this movie, really stood out to me and delivered a great performance as Tony. The chemistry he had with Ronan was great and I really bought into their romance during the entire film. When Eilis has to return home for a month or two for unfortunate reasons, she begins to fall back in love with the place she grew up and even has a young Irish man, Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson), who takes an interest in her. It seems like Eilis could have just as good of a life back in Ireland, which causes tons of conflict in her. The movie really shows off the beauty of both countries with some fantastic shots of Ireland and creative ways to make city life in Brooklyn look wonderful as well. All of the acting was amazing from Ronan, Cohen, and, once again, Gleeson. Brooklyn really put an emotional toll on me, because if you are in a serious relationship or have a spouse (like I am), you know how much they mean to you, and really being in love with someone can become more important than anything else in the world, and sometimes that might require the sacrifice of other important things, which comes down to making the decision of whether or not it’s truly worth it.

The Force Awakens

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This probably doesn’t come as any surprise, but yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is my favorite film of 2015. Like most people, it’s mind-blowing to me that we actually got a seventh installment to the Star Wars franchise. This was something I’ve dreamed about for years and it was near perfect. While the film definitely suffers from some plot flaws and can get away with other plot points knowing there will be two sequels, it easily gets 95% correct in this movie. Not only did it include four upcoming actors I’ve been a huge fan of four the past five years (John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson) but it took an unknown in Daisy Ridley and showed off how great of an actress she is. Star Wars did a great job in paying homage to the original trilogy while being it’s own entity and a new chapter in this series. J.J. Abrams did a great job bringing Star Wars back to the big screen and I love that he didn’t go overboard with the motion capture or go completely off the path. The movie had an insane amount of heart and made each person an actual character, even the villain, Kylo Ren. I could talk about this movie all day long, but all I have to say is go see it if you already haven’t.

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Game of Thrones Season 6 Teaser Trailer Review

Wow, well, I never expected to get any Game of Thrones related content until next year, but this is a brilliant surprise! I pretty much always feel a pain when the show finishes and goes off the air knowing I have to wait a long time to see it again, but stuff like this gets me extremely hyped for what’s coming.

Game of Thrones has been an amazing adaptation of the books, and even for readers, we are entering into unknown places as the show is slowly beginning to move past where George R.R. Martin has written to.

The teaser is relatively short, but we get two voices talking:

Bloodraven (Max Von Sydow) and an older sounding Bran.

Holy crap.

Not only does the teaser give us a quick montage of clips from the show’s past, but it teases us to our faces that “we have no idea what’s going to happen.” This is extremely exciting because I feel like Game of Thrones is just getting into what will be some of the story’s most epic moments.

Lots of the clips showed the Stark family members, which really has me feeling like this is the breaking point for the family to rise back up again, each in their own individual ways. Bran has been a very mysterious character in the books, and his journey gets more interesting each step of the way, and I am one of the believers that he will easily end up being one of, if not, the most powerful characters by the time everything is finished (dragon warging am I right?!).

I’m extremely excited to see Max Von Sydow in the Bloodraven roll, because he seems like a perfect choice for it and his voice gives me chills in this teaser. I can’t wait to see what happens with Bran, Jon and the entire Stark gang because they all have chances to move back into power. The teaser shows Jon being stabbed followed up by Bran warging, which might imply that a more similar path from the books will help save Jon thanks to his magical abilities.

I also am most excited to explore the White Walkers and the Night’s King. There are the clips of him with the baby, which implies we will be getting more of that. The White Walkers are one of the most interesting aspects of Game of Thrones and it will be interesting to see how far things go with them, because we clearly are in the dark on that one.

The teaser is just a bunch of clips from the past seasons, but it’s still extremely exciting! I don’t care about the holidays, the new year, or even my birthday in March.

Give me April. I need April.

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Reflections on Quas

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Team Liquid recently announced that their top laner Diego ‘Quas’ Ruiz was temporarily suspended from the team for undisclosed reasons. It was sad news to hit the League community because Ruiz has been a dominant player in his position during his time with Team Curse/Liquid.

I only just began watching and following the NA and EU pro League scenes during the 2014 Summer Split, so for me, Quas has been a staple feature in the top lane. While I was never a Team Curse or Liquid fan, there was no denynig that this guy was a beast at what he did and helped carry his team plenty of times.

Despite Team Liquid announcing that Ruiz was only suspended temporarily, the top laner’s own statement sounded like he might be departing from the team for good, which had me confused. Unfortunately, the suspicion was correct, and today Ruiz announced that he has decided to retire from Team Liquid and the pro gaming scene.

The scene will definitely miss Ruiz, but he stated in his TwitLonger post that he has been suffering from depression and anxiety growing up and gaming was one of the few things to help him get through it all. Depression is really no joke, and it’s sad to see someone so impacted by it.

Quas was someone who had a diverse champ pool and could pretty much do it all; tanks, damage carries, assassins, mages, you name it. It will be interesting to discover who Liquid replaces him with, because he’s been a staple part of their team.

It’s good that he’s going to pursue his other passions, especially if gaming doesn’t help or fulfill him like it once used to. Everyone is going to miss him, and if you don’t think you will, here are some reminders…

Thanks for the great play Quas, you made top lane extremely appealing for someone just getting into the game.

Got any theories or ideas about who might replace Quas for Liquid’s top lane? Let me know!

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Pros and Cons to the Batman v. Superman Trailer

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Last night the full length Batman v. Superman trailer was released during Jimmy Kimmel Live! When I initially discovered that this would be the followup to MoS, I was pretty pumped that we were going to get Batman back in the DCMU so quickly. Although I’m not the hugest Zack Snyder fan, I do like a lot of his work; Watchmen was amazing and even 300 was super cool. Yet, his take on Superman was definitely different from what we’ve seen before.

I’ve loved the dark tone that is being established for this universe because it worked for the Nolan Batman trilogy and brings a unique style to these classic heroes and their stories. Henry Cavill is a pretty solid Superman in my opinion (although I’m not the biggest expert on the character) and I have enjoyed his performance so far. I was on board with Battfleck from the moment it happened, and have really only questioned the Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor decision although I can understand what they saw in him (see Social Network).

When the San Diego Comic-Con trailer was released, I was actually more on board for BvS than I ever had been. It was just like seeing the first clips for The Avengers where I was just mind blown to see these characters on the big screen together. I loved everything it had set up and actually thought the movie looked pretty badass; however, last night’s full trailer was a huge let down to me, and it seemed like the bad outweighed the good.

The Pros:

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  • The DC holy Trinity: Holy crap! We got to see the DC Holy Trinity lined up on screen. That was pretty amazing. It was a comic nerd’s dream in the same way we saw The Avengers together in one place. I love this, they looked so good, and it’s not even the full Justice League!

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  • The Clark vs. Bruce Dynamic: I loved that the trailer opened up with Clark and Bruce meeting. This was awesome and their interaction was perfect. Bruce’s brooding criticism of how the Daily Planet writes puff pieces praising an alien yet calls Batman a vigilante. The movie is Batman vs. Superman, so I’m pumped to see these two constantly interacting and how their relationship develops.

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  • The Dark Tone & Setting: The one thing I loved about MoS was its dark tone and setting. Although a very nontraditional looking Superman and setting, the DCMU is really diversifying itself with a gritty more realistic feeling take on superheroes. While there was too much destruction in MoS, I definitely didn’t mind the tone it created. I love the look that BvS is establishing so far and am excited to see this world expanded.

The Cons:

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  • Alexander Luthor Jr.: We heard that Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor, or, apparently, Alexander Luthor Jr.. While I’m glad to hear that he isn’t his father, the portrayal of the character has me scratching my head a bit. As many have already stated, the trailer makes him feel like the Joker and he’s a little too quirky for my taste. The trailer reveals that he seems to be the one pushing Batman and Superman to fight one another, but we’ll see his full plan in the movie. What really bothered me about Eisenberg was that we saw too much of him. I would have loved to have seen the quick clip of his excitement that Clark and Bruce have met and how he loves bringing people together, but cut it there. I know and believe that Eisenberg can pull off the dark brooding evil moments like in the Social Network, but this trailer was definitely not what I had been expecting from the character.

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  • The Doomsday Reveal: Along the same lines as seeing the holy trinity together on screen, seeing Doomsday was amazing. Seriously, it’s crazy to think this character is going to come to life before our eyes; however, I’m disappointed they revealed it now. We were under the impression that Luthor was the main villain and from previous clips knew he recovered Zod’s body, but just gives us the Doomsday roar and leave the mystery for the actual film. The character felt a little more CGI that I would have liked, but he still looked cool nonetheless. I’m just disappointed that they showed him because it would have been a phenomenal reveal that I would geek out on in the theater.
  • It’s a Long Revealing Trailer: The movie trailer standard has turned into releasing long theatrical mini-movies that usually reveal too much. The Batman V. Superman trailer does exactly that, and is what really put a sour taste in my mouth when it was all said and done.  The editing was off and chose to display a long string of moments that sort of spell out the plot of the movie. The theme of this is Batman and Superman seeing each other as threats only to realize that they are better off working together because they believe in the same cause. This trailer sort of kills that whole idea. As I said before, I loved seeing the holy trinity on screen, but I think it would have been smarter to just keep Doomsday out and show Wonder Woman drop in. In my opinion, that would make the comedic line, “I thought she was with you,” land better because it doesn’t disrupt the tension that the Batman & Superman vs. Doomsday establishes. I really loved the teaser and the SDCC trailer, but felt like this was too much.

 

I really want this movie to be good. I don’t see anything as a competition between Marvel and DC, because both are so amazing in their own right. The DCMU is definitely diversifying itself with a darker more realistic tone, and I’m hoping it can accomplish that look and feel within all of the characters. I almost wish I hadn’t seen this trailer because I loved the idea that anything was possible in this movie, and no matter what, it would be about the entire dynamic between the Batman/Superman relationship. It would have been nice for them to not give us a skeleton of the plot and save all of the fun stuff like Doomsday and Wonder Woman for the actual movie. The scenes look pretty cool, but this was just a classic case of a trailer that is too long and revealing.

What did you think of the trailer? Let me know!!

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First Trailer for Creed

The first trailer for the upcoming continuation of the Rocky series, titled Creed, has released its first trailer. Creed will focus on a new fighter named Adonis Johnson, who his the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s old friend and competitor.

The movie stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis and he eventually turns to Philly’s greatest fighter to train him when he most needs it. The movie is directed and written by Ryan Coogler, who was the man behind Fruitvale Station where he originally worked with Jordan.

I’m a big fan of Jordan as an actor, and I really want to like this movie. I enjoy the old Rocky movies and think that this is definitely a solid concept to include in the overall franchise. Although I believe the trailer is trying a little hard, I’m definitely going to give this movie a shot, especially with Coogler handling things.

Creed is set for a November 25th release. Between this and Fantastic Four, Jordan could have a pretty good acting year.

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