New Avatar game coming from The Division Squad

While we weren’t able to see what Ubisoft had in store for the Star Wars franchise during today’s Connect showcase, we did get a glimpse of what’s coming from another major sci-fi franchise.

Ubisoft debuted a new trailer for Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, a new first-person adventure from the developers of The Division franchise, Massive Entertainment. The game promised to be a thrilling adventure with far more detail than the last Avatar game, which came out for consoles over a decade ago.

Set for release in 2022, the game will have ties to the forthcoming Avatar sequels that are in the works under director James Cameron. Though very little is known about the story, it appears that the strange blue beings will continue their war with the humans, using whatever weapons and winged creatures they can get their hands on.

You can check out the debut trailer for Frontiers of Pandora below. It’ll arrive in 2022 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PC and Stadia.

Netflix brings Splinter Cell, Cuphead news and more!

Today is one of the bigger days with Netflix’s Geeked Week, as it revealed some goods from its upcoming video game themed shows. And boy, are they delivering.

First up, it debuted a clip from the long-awaited show based on the hit shoot-em-up Cuphead, where it showcased an actor filling in for the deadly King Dice – and it’s none other than Wayne Brady! You can watch it below.

The show doesn’t currently have a release date, but is “Coming Soon,” which likely means sometime this year.

More details were also revealed about the upcoming Resident Evil: New Raccoon City, including new cast members. Lance Reddick, Ella Balinska and Tamara Smart will join an all star cast, as pictured below!

As expected, a new teaser for the second season of The Witcher debuted, showing off what we can see from fan favorite Ciri. It’s set to debut sometime later this year. Of course, Henry Cavill will also return. Duh.

Remember a while back when Castlevania producer Adi Shankar was given the green light to work on a Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon animated series? Well, it’s happening with Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix, and you can scope it out below. We wonder if they’re going to get Michael Biehn…

Speaking of Castlevania, the spin-off for the popular Castlevania series has been revealed, following its concluding fourth season! It will feature Richter Belmont and Maria Renard, and this time it will take place during the French Revolution! No word on a title yet, but here’s hoping it’s Rondo of Blood or something along those lines.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell is finally getting something new, with Derek Kolstad of John Wick fame writing the series. No word yet if they have Michael Ironside to voice the iconic character, but he’s definitely on the older side, so we can see it.

A first clip for the League of Legends animated series, Arcane, also made its debut! You can check it out below and expect the series to pack a wallop this fall.

More Witcher news? You bet. Netflix will team up with CD Projekt Red to host the WitcherCon, taking place on July 9th. You can probably expect more clips and news about the second season when this drops!

Also, um, here’s the official description for The Witcher’s second season:

“Convinced Yennefer’s life was lost at the Battle of Sodden, Geralt of Rivia brings Princess Cirilla to the safest place he knows, his childhood home of Kaer Morhen. While the Continent’s kings, elves, humans and demons strive for supremacy outside its walls, he must protect the girl from something far more dangerous: the mysterious power she possesses inside.”

Look for more Netflix news as it becomes available. Oh, and watch The Mitchells vs. the Machines, will ya? It’s awesome.

Super Mario Bros: The Movie just got a Director’s Cut

The 1993 film adaptation of Super Mario Bros: The Movie left a lot of questions. Even some scratched heads. As well as injuries to its main stars, Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. Yet somehow, it’s become a cult classic after all these years, despite the fact that the story makes little sense and the directors even lost control of their production at one point. No matter, though. BO-BOMB!

Now, for those curious to see what might have been, a director’s cut has made its way online, put together by editor and artist Garrett Gilchrist. The Super Mario Bros: The Morton Jankel Cut, named after the directors of the original movie (Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel), is available for viewing – and even download! – over on Archive.org.

The cut includes twenty minutes of extra scenes, which are easy to spot with time stamps throughout the film. However they aren’t the greatest quality, as Gilchrist basically had to save them from a VHS tape after many years of production – albeit he did a solid job considering what he was given.

On top of that, there’s also a neat little commentary video, discussing the scenes that were restored for the Morton Jankel Cut, that you can check that out below. It’s fascinating to see what all was missed the first time around for the film.

So get your viewing party together and enjoy this cut of Super Mario Bros. It probably won’t change your mind on its craziness, but, hey, at least you can say you’ve finally seen it, right?

MindHunter

Introducing Behavioral Sciences to the FBI

Mind Hunter.
A Psychological Thriller television show that was originally produced by Netflix as its series of ‘original Netflix content’. When this show was first introduced to Netflix, it wasn’t very popular as the description did not fit the show. It was led on to be a ‘docu-series’ but truth behold it was a show based on a 1955 book  Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. John Douglas and Mark Olshaker are renowned for their true-crime books as well as insights into the multiple murderers in their times as Specialized FBI as well as one of the first Criminal Profilers for the FBI.

The show starts off with our two main guys, Holden Ford and Bill Tench. Bill and Holden are FBI agents who go from school to school, teaching classes about criminal investigation. Bill Tench has been doing this for a few years when he finally gets an assistant to help him curate these classes. Holden Ford comes in as a great assistant, taking a load off of Bill so he can concentrate more on his family life.

Agent Holden Ford had a different idea, something more progressive than just teaching classes about criminal profiling. He wanted to try and prevent the crimes from happening as well as making a formula that could help find these murderers faster. As the old dog of the office, Bill was uncomfortable making any changes to the way he worked. Even more so when it came to talking to his boss about even trying to talk to multiple murderers. Holden was sure that he had a great idea in the works, he just needed to get the right people behind it.

Psychological Criminal Investigation

The first season of Mind Hunter happens in the late 70’s, early 80’s, where the entire thought of psychological criminal investigation was hokey. Yet Holden’s continuous harassment of Bill finally gets the results he wanted, a visit with a multiple murderer. Holden is persistent that he wants to visit Manson, Charles Manson, one of the most infamous cases of the seventies/eighties. Yet what Holden get’s is one of the biggest surprises he will see through out his work-life.
Edmund Kemper

Edmund Kemper – Co-Ed Serial Killer
Actor VS Real Life

Ed Kemper, as he preferred to be called, loved his visits with police and FBI agents. Ed Kemper was one of the worlds most hidden multiple murderers, it is said that if he had not turned himself in to the police he would have never been caught. Which honestly doesn’t seem far from the truth when your looking at the available documents and police investigations that became public. Ed Kemper is a frightfully massive human being, standing just over 6’9 and 300lbs. Edmund loves talking to the police, as it shows more insight not just on his killing but the comparative nature between him and other killers. Ed Kemper was super helpful with Holden and Tench as they built their psychological reports for their new section of FBI.

As time moved on, the struggle between road school and interviews with multiple murderers was becoming increasingly stressful. The need for a fulltime office was on the horizon, so the start of the Criminal Psychological Profiling and Behavioral Sciences was born. What started as a back of the brain project for Holden, was now becoming reality. Their own basement office space, to hiring on new people to help with the case loads. Slowly but surely, this was becoming more than just a side project. All Holden needed, was some FBI back-up.

This came in a great wave for Holden, the old commissioner for the Federal Office was being pushed out as his ideals were stuck in the past. The new commissioner was a fresh face from Washington that understood what this could mean for the Federal Bureau. The new face from Washington, Ted Gunn, a by-the-book type of agent that is more than interested in the project that Holden and Tench had put together.
His only rule?
Keep blinders on Holden.

Charles Manson

As we move into the series, Holden gets the chance to interview some of histories more notorious serial killers. Even the man behind the chaos of the 80s, Manson himself. All the mean while, being shown these interviews with these top named serial killers, there is another. One being shown as the show progresses, as well as his progression of violence and interest. Who is this killer?

Well our hopes lie in a Season 3 of Mind Hunter.

Over all experience with Mind Hunter; If you don’t mind some drama and silly side stories into Holden’s love life, it’s a great True Crime Television show. Based on real people, real things, real happenings.


HarleChan Review : Season 1: A Season 2: B-

Thanks for reading, buh-bye!

The Mitchells vs. the Machines movie review: the robo-apocalypse can entertain

The pandemic has forced a number of movie studios to take their projects to streaming services to reach an audience. Disney has its premieres on the Disney+ service; Coming 2 America made an impact on Amazon Prime; now we have a truly underrated animated movie from Sony’s studio on Netflix for all to enjoy. But don’t let the streaming format fool you – The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a big-screen delight for all ages to enjoy.

Directed by Mike Rianda and produced by the Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Mitchells takes the robot apocalypse theme and has a field day with it, thanks to an unlikely villain who’s a laugh riot – and the surprise heroes who do much more than chuckle.

Those heroes are the Mitchells, a goofball family led by not-so-super dad Rick (Danny McBride). His daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is looking to take her YouTube filmmaking career to the next level with college, but her father Rick opts to take her there via a road trip across the country, with her mother Linda (Maya Rudolph) and her younger brother Aaron (Rianda, superb in the role) along for the ride.

But it’s just when they start their road trip that the robots start acting up. And it’s all thanks to a cell phone-like device called PAL, voiced by Hot Fuzz’s own Olivia Colman. She’s fed up with being a hand-me-down in the face of a new PAL device, which tech whiz Mark Bowman (Eric Andre, fresh from his Adult Swim show) has introduced. So what’s a forgotten device to do? Lead the robots against the humans and try to eradicate them, of course.

So much is working for The Mitchells vs. the Machines that it’s not even funny – though it is hilarious. First off, the writing is superb, and there’s a number of Easter eggs. So many, in fact, you’ll have to watch the movie two to three times to catch them all – and you still might miss something. It’s also got some wonderful action sequences for a family film (how many times can you say that?), including a run-in with an enlarged Furby that’s a sight to behold. You might just find it to be the best movie sequence with a Furby ever. (I believe it’s the only one…?)

On top of that, the animation style is insanely good. Along with top-notch animation and other neat little effects, the movie also benefits from sweet hand-drawn designs stemming from Katie’s brain, so you get a look at just how she perceives everything. It’s original and really well done, and gives the movie a little more shine.

Not to mention the music. It’s loaded with upbeat, delightful pop tunes, but also features a killer score by DEVO co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh. And he’s very well up for the job – so much, in fact, that he probably should see what films he can work on next. If it’s possible, Lord and Miller might want to consider him for the Spiderverse sequel. Just saying.

Finally, The Mitchells vs. the Machines wins with its voice cast. Abbi Jacobson is great fun as Katie. The rest of the family is fun as well, and it’s great to hear Fred Armisen and Beck Bennett joining the fun as a pair of unconvertable robots. There’s also Blake Griffin, Chrissy Tiegen, and Conan O’Brien if you listen closely enough.

And Michael had something special to say about Danny McBride as well, since this isn’t his usual territory. “performances in the movie for me was Danny McBride as Rick Mitchell. While I deeply appreciate McBride’s acting style and on-screen antics, Rick Mitchell seemed like an odd casting choice from him from his typical roles. Examples would be like Your Highness, Pineapple Express, and This is the End just to name a few. Those are only a few examples of his prior roles but give you a good feel for his acting style but he made Rick Mitchell his own and did an amazing job bringing thia character to life. Not just by playing a fatherly figure but the depth of how far he went into character. You’ll see it or you’ve seen it, when you watch. I don’t want to spoil some of his best lines in the movie but you’ll know them when you hear them.

But, to me, the real star of the show is Colman. She’s a laugh riot as the fed-up PAL, making all sorts of great points about technology while still somehow being incredibly ruthless. This is easily one of her best performances.

Oh. And Michael also wanted to add: “Least not we forget the trusty, loyal animal pet/sidekick, Munchie the pug. They DID NOT disappoint! We can’t go into to much detail without giving away some of the best parts of the movie but the shenanigans entailed just add to the viewing pleasure and overall hilarity.” I definitely agree.

Even if you’re not up for traditional family fare, not to worry. The Mitchells vs. the Machines is anything but. It’s filled with hilarious moments, as well as heartfelt stuff that helps you feel the connection with family. Not to mention it has thrilling animation, excellent music and truly amazing style that other few films can match. You may be thrown off by the fact it’s on a “streaming channel,” but don’t be. These Mitchells provide big summer entertainment, and you shouldn’t miss it. Now put down that phone.

RATING: 9/10

Raya and the Last Dragon film review: hardly a typical princess tale

Over the years, Disney’s gotten used to the idea that, even though it’s created quite a catalog of them, not every female character it introduces in its animation fold needs to be a princess. Some women are capable of holding their own, like the title character in the impressive Moana.

Raya seeks the help of the legendary dragon, Sisu. Seeing what’s become of Kumandra, Sisu commits to helping Raya fulfill her mission in reuniting the lands. Featuring Kelly Marie Tran as the voice of Raya and Awkwafina as the voice of Sisu, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” will be in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on March 5, 2021. © 2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Now we have yet another shining example of a woman that can accomplish great things, alongside an unlikely companion that makes quite the company for her. Raya and the Last Dragon is a spellbinding piece of Disney work, and what it lacks in theatrical audience, it more than makes up for with genuine charm that, hopefully, will last for years to come as people experience the film. It’s getting a home video release next month, so hopefully that will be just the start.

The heroine in question, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran at her finest), is in search of mysterious stones that could help turn the tide against a dangerous force that has wiped out a good portion of her people, Thanos-style. With the help of her loyal oversized armadillo Tuk Tuk (once again “voiced” by Alan Tudyk, with what little he says – the characterization is more than enough tho), she goes seeking the pieces of restore a mighty dragon named Sisu (Awkwafina), who might just be able to bring everyone back.
The camaraderie between Raya and Sisu is not only infectious, but keeps the film moving along nicely. Some might think that Awkwafina is a bit too smart-alecky, but she’s a terrific fit for Sisu, and watching her “evolve” over the course of the film is something special. Not to mention that Raya learns a thing or two as well.

Other characters join the fray, including a young kid named Boun who tries to use his suaveness with his food dishes, a one-eyed warrior (Benedict Wong) who’s a little softer than he lets on, and a baby that’s in for con games alongside a group of helpful critters. They all join the search to find the pieces of the stone before the ruthless Namaari (Gemma Chan) gets her hands on them first, at the command of her military-esque mother.

There’s a fascinating story with Raya, and it’s really well written, even though the pacing can be a slight bit off in the last half hour. All the same, it’s still excellent, with enough good laughs (particularly from Awkwafina) to keep a giddy smile on your face.

Not to mention the animation is gorgeous. Considering that most of this film’s production took place in COVID-19 territory, with everyone working at home, it looks outstanding. The 4K Blu-Ray release should really be something here, if you’ve got the right equipment to take advantage of it.

Raya and her nemesis, Namaari, face off amid the snowy mountains of Spine. Featuring Kelly Marie Tran as the voice of Raya and Gemma Chan as the voice of Namaari, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” will be in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on March 5, 2021. © 2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

But what I was really surprised by was how well the film took its martial arts combat themes. Watching Namaari and Raya go at it in combat is something else, and even Sisu has something to lend here and there as well, though she generally has peaceful means that she tries to use to her and Raya’s benefit.

The voice acting is excellent for the most part, and even the smallest things – again, Tudyk – really do wonders here. The combat audibles alone are staggering, especially with a good stereo system.

Raya and the Last Dragon may not be the perfect Disney film – pacing is questionable in some spots – but overall, it’s a wondrous affair that’s amongst the best the studio’s had to offer. And with COVID and its weight, that’s really saying something. It’s got an ideal voice cast, excellent visual tone, and the kind of adventurous theme that truly says, “Hey, this isn’t your typical princess tale.” And we’re definitely here for it.

RATING: 9/10

Raya and the Last Dragon is available on-demand and through premium access on Disney+. It reportedly has a home video release date of May 18th.

Better call Saul….but don’t.

It’s been a hell of a day is putting it lightly. Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is your run of the mill of husband, father, and oh yeah local “spook”. Hutch is truly a unique fella, trying his hardest to maintain the life he has even though, my man here is looking super miserable with him doing the same thing over and over again wake up, miss the trash, go to work, and having a pillow put up between him and his wife Becca Mansell (Connie Nielsen).

As the old saying goes ” all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is what we can relate to this “FAT LIP” of a film, starts slow only to throw us into what we think is just a husband gone loco cause they came for his family. That’s only part of it but the only thing I will say to this is (kitty bracelet).

Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) takes us on a wild ride from almost touching your soul (as a father I felt this hard) to what the ever-living f*** am I watching, the swap from an almost cliché movie of just another father doing the “right thing” to this is pure gold… take a gander at this most tasty “BUS SCENE”.

Little by Little do we get a taste of who Hutch was in his past only to lead us to a whole new rabbit hole. All of sudden the movie takes the all-or-nothing feel to it. After a few encounters with “THE BAD GUYS,” he then incurs the wrath of Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov) who has just the perfect amount of swank and ruthless killer… the man has class and that is class is MAYHEM!

This is about all I can tell you without spoiling all the cool little details that took this old format of a loco dad who wants vengeance yada.. yada… to a fresh take on it. This is going to give you a black eye and some booboos and your gonna like it and want more after you see what Hutch does to make sure his own is safe.

Okie one last thing “DOC Brown” (Christopher Lloyd) takes the role of Hutch Mansell’s retired FBI agent father David Mansell. The way they put him into is truly a chef’s kiss of gloriousness a sight to truly witness. All and all, I loved this movie so much and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

4.5/5

Mortal Kombat movie review: Finally, fatality!

When the 1995 version of Mortal Kombat hit theaters, we embraced its level of camp, while also appreciating Paul W.S. Anderson’s approach to the material. Yes, surprisingly enough, you can balance the two – even though the PG-13 rating left a few folks disappointed.

But then came Mortal Kombat: Annihilation two years later and…well, that was even more disappointing. And since then, fans have had to turn to the games for their bloody enjoyment, though Mortal Kombat: Legacy did pretty well on the small screen for a while there.

Finally, though, we have Simon McQuoid’s take on Mortal Kombat, which is more in synch with the tone of the games. That means bloodshed, and lots of it, and characters that are ready to fight for the fate of the world. It may be missing the laughs – and fighter development – of the original camp-fest, but it more than makes up for it when it comes to action.

Rather than focus solely on a hero from the game series, we instead get a newcomer – an MMA fighter named Cole Young (Lewis Tan). He’s making ends meet for his family by fighting, and, sadly, losing. However one day, Sub-Zero (a very game Joe Taslim of The Raid fame) comes knocking, and Cole suddenly learns he’s part of a much bigger picture.

This picture includes a hodgepodge of Earth’s mightiest champions, who find themselves going against the deadly Shang Tsung (Chin Han), who has plans for this planet after he takes one more victory in the Mortal Kombat tournament. And…you can pretty much guess the rest.

While some may voice disappointment along the lines of “Who the hell is Cole Young?”, he actually ties into a deeper story surrounding Sub-Zero and his adversary, Scorpion. The beginning of the film introduces him as Hanzo Hasashi (the impressive Hiroyuki Sanada), who has a score to settle when the icy ninja pays his family a visit. It takes a while to get to that point, but the payoff is most certainly worth it when he bellows, “GET OVER HERE!”

In fact, what makes Mortal Kombat click so well this time around is just how loyal it is to its fans. The fights are bloodily satisfying, and even some of the visual effects deliver, particularly with the all-CG Goro, who makes his ’95 counterpart look like a Halloween costume by comparison. There are other interesting moments as well, including one with Kano (Josh Lawson – yes, from Anchorman 2) that practically steals the show.

Where the movie is lacking is with deep character development. We see it in hints here and there, but they’re basically thrown together for the most part in the film’s short but sweet run time. Fortunately, the fighting and effects more than make up for it; and the finale delivers in spades, setting the stage for sequels to come.

McQuoid, making his debut with Kombat, directs with a swift hand. Here and there the camera can be a little jittery at times, however it’s never enough to annoy like, well, Annihilation did. The fights are a lot of fun to watch, with each character true to their game counterparts.

On top of that, Benjamin Wallfisch’s music score is excellent. He not only captures the atmosphere of Mortal Kombat tunes to nearly sheer perfection, but also throws in slight references to George Clinton’s original ’95 banger of a theme.

The acting ensemble is spotty in places. Some performances are forgettable, but then you have Max Huang and Ludi Lin delivering as the combo of Kung Lao and Liu Kang, lighting up the screen. No, literally. Liu practically throws a fireball when he arrives. Although, really, it comes down to Lawson having a field day as Kano, as well as Sanada being amazing as Hanzo/Scorpion. Taslim’s ice cold, too. Again, literally.

It won’t win best game movie of all time honors (I’m still trying to figure how it measures compared to the original film), but Mortal Kombat is quite a bit of fan service. The fights are entertaining once they pick up speed; the music is outstanding; and a good deal of the performances do quite well with the material. Plus there’s also a good set-up here for sequels, which I would most certainly be down for.

It’s hardly a flawless victory, but Mortal Kombat happily dominates your time – and that’s more than what could be said for whatever the hell Annihilation was.

RATING: 8/10

(Mortal Kombat is in theaters now, and is available on-demand on HBOMax as well for the next month.)

Godzilla vs. Kong review: total beast, hardly a burden

Fans of the classic Godzilla films have been feeling somewhat mixed about Legendary’s newer films in the franchise. While the 2014 Godzilla did an effective job bringing him back into the current monster fold, he was barely on-screen for the film. And for that matter, while Godzilla: King of the Monsters had epic monster battles, it also had a bit too much of the human element – which audiences didn’t really care about.

Now we get Godzilla vs. Kong, the latest in the series, helmed by horror director Adam Wingard. And while it does have some predictable moments here and there – once again with, yes, the humans – it’s probably my favorite Godzilla film in the series to date. Of course, having Kong definitely helps; and the monster fights these two put on are nothing short of spectacular.

When we’re first introduced to Kong, he’s in a large containment facility in Skull Island, being watched over by scientist Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and a young charge that he’s able to communicate with. It appears that he’s being kept in there for his own good, with Godzilla on some kind of legendary hunt for him.

Meanwhile, a scientist named Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) is called upon to recruit Kong to find some kind of lost world, hidden beneath the Earth’s crust. But the corporation he’s hired by, Apex, has some sort of dangerous plan; and that’s something returning character Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) wants to learn more about, alongside a friend and a podcaster named Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry).

There is a bit of human composition here, just like the last films. But Wingard is smart enough to keep it to kind of a minimum here, even with a couple of awkward moments here and there. And it’s got enough flow to keep the film going into its most entertaining parts – the battles between Godzilla and Kong.

The first one, taking place on the high seas, is outstanding, involving exploding jets, battleships serving as platforms and more chaos than you can shake a stick at. It also sets the stage for a huge battle in Hong Kong later on, taking on Pacific Rim for the best neon-lit fight of all time.

And it all culminates with a winner and a loser, of course – and a surprising union when Apex unleashes a monster of its own. And judging by the trailers, you can probably take a good guess who it is. (We won’t spoil here.)

Written by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, the script for Godzilla vs. Kong moves along swiftly. Again, some jokes fall a little flat, and Henry’s podcaster does go a little nuts at times; but overall it keeps just the right flow for a monster movie. Not to mention that there’s some good explanation as to how this ties in with King of the Monsters, even if Kong was an absentee that time around. (At least we have Kong: Skull Island, which is still the best of the monster movies to date.)

Wingard directs with a swift hand, backed by a wondrous effects team that delivers the goods at every corner. The monster fights are epic, especially on the big screen (though you can watch this on HBO Max as well), and the special effects and shots are spectacular. You won’t get bored in the least here, especially with the final fight, where Kong lets loose with a glowing axe like he’s the next Conan.

When Godzilla vs. Kong strays into the human territory, it’s a bit easy for it to lose its way. Fortunately, that doesn’t last very long – even the ending is a bit abrupt – and the general focus on the monsters themselves is never lost. That makes for an entertaining fantasy that’s easily the best current-gen Godzilla movie to date. Here’s hoping we get a round two down the road.

RATING: 8.5/10

Zack Snyder’s Justice League review: go home, Whedon, we got this

When Justice League released theatrically in 2017, it was pretty much a disaster. Not that I hated it personally, but it kind of alienated the vision that the original director Zack Snyder had for it in favor of Avengers helmer Joss Whedon. It pissed off fans with its quippy tone and lackluster action scenes, not to mention the whole thing with Superman’s “lipgate.” (Don’t ask, really.)

Then began a surprising movement for the “Snyder cut” of Justice League. It had an amazing momentum and a tremendous amount of pull, despite some people saying it would never happen. What’s even more shocking is Hollywood listened, providing $70+ million to give the director the chance to make the movie he wanted.

And what a movie it is. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a whopping four hours in length. And what’s more, it’s 4:3 format, akin to the IMAX screen instead of the standard widescreen, which pissed off a few folks. But what’s important here is Snyder got done what he really wanted to get done, without studio interference and, more importantly, involvement from Whedon. And, boy, what a difference his story makes.

Though it is lengthy and a bit heavy on the slow-motion (a Snyder staple, if you recall 300), Zack Snyder’s Justice League is remarkable. It lends a bunch of detail to characters that were sorely needing it before, and also answers prior questions from the universe. It also provides a great deal of kick-ass (and bloody!) action, as well as better detail on the visual effects and, most importantly, hardly any “lipgate” to speak of. Fans are sure to love it.

The story’s about the same – Steppenwolf wants to unite three powerful universal boxes to please his boss Darkseid, while Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and company try to stop him. However, there’s so much more going on here. Much more comes to light about Cyborg (Ray Fisher) including how his character came to be, and his father’s dark role in the process – which is a lot deeper than you may realize. We also learn a lot more about Steppenwolf himself, and what makes him far more sinister than the theatrical cut could ever deliver. There, he was a smug jerk that didn’t have much reasoning. Here, he’s deeper, and far more threatening.

And then there’s Darkseid himself, a menacing force that could easily go toe-to-toe with Thanos in a bar brawl. He’s foreboding and powerful, and lends incredible weight to the story. Alas, it’s not likely we’ll see his story come to fruition anytime soon, but you never know. After all, Warner Bros. did greenlight this little nugget; and depending on feedback, they could likely continue.

The tone for this Justice League is a lot darker. There are “f” bombs here and there, some bloodshed (Wonder Woman dispatching terrorists this time around is remarkable) and a nice finale that actually gives Superman and Steppenwolf far better treatment. There’s also some surprising returns of characters we’ve seen in the past, most particularly the Joker, played by Jared Leto. He doesn’t take the crown away from Heath Ledger, mind you, but it’s great to see him in a much better form than his glittery, somewhat Suicide Squad appearance. Also, I can’t get over how rad it is to see Joe Manganiello back as Deathstroke, even if it’s not for very long.

Chris Terrio gets to handle scriptwriting solo this time around (nope, no Whedon, and that means no “oh, snap” references), and does a great job. Again, it’s a bit overpadded in places, but the characterization is something else. Fisher does even better here as Cyborg, because, well, we actually get to see what makes him tick, and why he is what he is. His growth is awesome.

Not to mention the others. Gal Gadot is still excellent as Wonder Woman; Henry Cavill rocks it as Superman (especially as he comes face-to-face with Steppenwolf for the first time); Ezra Miller strikes a great tone as Barry Allen/Flash, even if his love for K-pop faded in this cut (at least there’s still Rick and Morty); Jason Momoa gets to shine as Aquaman in various ways; and Affleck, yes, is still a good Batman. A bit on the growly side at times, but who cares? Also, kudos to Jeremy Irons getting more screen time as Alfred. Yes.

Some may complain about the VFX being somewhat incomplete, but I barely noticed. Sure, during the finale, some of the characters might be a slight bit iffy, but I was still impressed by what got done with COVID-19 restrictions and all. Even in the IMAX format, the film looks very good.

And the new Junkie XL soundtrack is excellent. It replaces Danny Elfman’s score, which wasn’t really that flawed to begin with. But it definitely hammers home the more serious tone, and how.

So, the bottom line is this. Yes, it’s long. No, not everything will make sense, as I’m still trying to figure out how that hero at the end showed up. And sure, the slo-mo could’ve been sped up in parts. Nevertheless this take on Justice League from Zack Snyder is worlds better than the original – and keep in mind, again, I somewhat liked it. Here, we’ve got better storytelling, more enjoyable fights to watch, some decent FX, and solid performances. Not to mention a few surprises here and there.

Now then, about that Suicide Squad director’s cut…

(Zack Snyder’s Justice League is on HBOMax now. There’s rumor of a home release, but nothing confirmed just yet.)

RATING: 8.5/10