This works both as a tongue-in-cheek camped-up superhero story, in the light-hearted manner of the 1960s Batman stories, and as a Hollywood 3-D Action blockbuster. Kato does not steal the show so much as have it handed to him. But in the wake of Bruce Lee biopic Dragon , what else could we expect? To reduce him to the role of mere chauffeur would be unthinkable.
Samuel L Jackson ( Deep Blue Sea ) confronts people with superpowers, like in the Avengers Assemble series. However, this time he is not hiring - he is firing! This Jedi battle (Anakin vs Mace Windu) gives Hayden an excuse to go back to his school-yard crush ( Rachel Bilson ). However, he stupidly puts her at risk as well.
Billy Elliott is a fellow jumper, living off the grid since Sam Jack killed his parents. He wants revenge, but realises that Hayden is a liability. Can our heroes team up long enough to save the girl and defeat the villain?
The most unrealistic thing in the film? The idea that working-class alkie Michael Rooker ( Guardians of the Galaxy ) could have married middle-class skirt-suit wearing Diane Lane . But watch out for a brief appearance by Kristen Stewart at the end, as the story is set up for a sequel.
Steve Rogers (Reb Brown - Space Mutiny ) is a US Army veteran. Not a super-soldier from World War Two, just an average grunt who was in Vietnam. He gets dosed with a super-soldier formula, and goes hunting for some commie spies. Well, it is the Cold War. Rather than fight super-villains, he only fights normal humans.
Possibly the best bit about this is the fact that Captain America has a motorbike. Well, it certainly justifies the fact that he dresses like Evel Keneval. Best of all, his bulletproof shield slots onto the front of the bike so it can protect him while he is riding.
The origin story is the same, with a few changes. The Red Skull is Italian, which makes the Dubrovnik locations less incongruous. The first conflict between the two super-soldiers is a one-all draw: Captain America ends up being knocked out of the war, but the Red Skull's super-rocket (V2 at launch, V1 when it reaches the USA) fails too. They will not meet again until the 1990s -
By 1993, Ronny Cox ( Robocop, Total Recall ) is POTUS and his best buddy (Ned Beatty) is a top journalist. They try to bring Captain America back into the fold, but he would rather hang out with his 1940s GF and her identical daughter.
POTUS wants to pass an eco-friendly law. Rebel General Darren McGavin ( Night Stalker ) secretly joins forces with the Red Skull to subvert the US Government. But first they must get rid of Captain America. The Red Skull sends his daughter ( Francesca Neri ) and her euro-trash catalogue model friends to do his dirty work. For some reason, Asian-American stuntman Jeff Imada is one of her Euro-goons.
Blade has to team up with new sidekicks, the Nightstalkers:
This is the weakest of the Blade trilogy. It does not offer anything new, and is considered an abortive backdoor pilot for a Nightstalkers spin-off series.
The story is about Reed Richards (Miles Teller - Divergent ), a High School pupil in the USA who wants to build a teleporter in his garage. He borrows parts from his classmate, Ben Grimm (Billy Elliott - Jumper ) whose dad owns a scrap-yard. Yes, this is basically a kids’ show like Explorers . However, the kids have limited success until the school science faire a few years later …
A super-scientist named Doctor Storm (Reg Querns Cathay - Outcast ) and his adopted daughter Sue ( Kate Mara , playing ten years younger than her real age) attend the science faire to locate and recruit the next generation of super-geniuses. In a movie about pre-teen children who build teleportation machines, this is not the most improbable part of the story. Reed signs up, enticed by Querns’ science and Kate’s charms. Ben gets left behind …
Reed teams up with Sue’s brother (the token black guy) and a Eurotrash slacker named Viktor Von Doom (who the TBG racially slurs by calling him Adolf). They build the teleporter machine, and travel to another universe. Reed even invites his old buddy Ben Grimm along for the ride. However, the alien world’s energies are unleashed on them …
The four survivors have strange powers. Ben gets hit with rocks, so he gets the power of rocks. Johnny Storm gets hit with flames, so he gets flame-power … and he can fly. Reed gets elastic power, somehow … And Sue Storm gets invisibility power - and force-field power, for some reason.
Ben gets co-opted by the US Military-Industrial complex. Johnny Storm is keen to follow his example, and do not-so-secret missions for the USA. Sue and her father play along so they can repair the teleporter and find a cure to Johnny’s super-powers. And Reed Richards mistrusts the US Military-Industrial complex so much that he goes on the run.
Eventually, in the third act, our heroes unite to stop Viktor Von Doom from destroying the Earth.
The kid and his new friend the medical robot discover that a supervillain is mass-producing the replicator cells. The supervillain wants to use them to repair an actual Stargate !
Luckily, Mr Incredible is headhunted by an anonymous employer who hires him to sort out an enormous killer robot that is running on the loose on a remote island. Naturally, this cannot end well either. Luckily, his wife and bickering offspring also have superpowers, so they come to save him.
Our anti-hero is Ralph (John C Reilly - Gangs of New York ), the villain in a 1980s arcade game. He is sick of his rival Fix-It Felix (Kenneth from 30 Rock) getting all the glory. Instead, he sneaks into another game, a violent 1st-Person Shooter named Hero's Duty. His plan is to win a medal so he can impress everyone with his bravery. Naturally, it all goes terribly wrong.
Ralph gets trapped in Candyland, where he befriends a Glitch ( Sarah Silverman ) who wants to win the Sugar Rush go-cart race. Felix and a lady Space Marine ( Jane Lynch ) try to clean up Ralph's mess, by preventing xenomorph Bugs from taking over Candyland.
Glitch ( Sarah Silverman ) meets the other Disney Princesses.
The Penguin has recruited the other super-crooks to join his scheme. The Joker and the Riddler are unimpressive. Selina Kyle ( Lee Meriwether ) tells a henchman not to call her Catwoman in public because it is her real name. She also disguises herself by putting on a Russian accent and wearing a leopard-skin coat. One hopes that it is fake fur, or that the leopard died of natural causes. Still, her normal costume comes with six-inch heels so she can hardly be called a practical dresser. Catwoman's mission is to seduce Bruce Wayne, so he can be kidnapped. He is probably a forty-year-old virgin, so it is not a difficult chore.
Batman and Robin are not masked vigilantes like in the Western movies. They have been deputised as members of the Gotham City Police, so they can afford to take a dim view of the unnamed Zorro and Lone Ranger. Robin has blind faith in the City police force. However, Batman learns that The Powers That Be are not above reproach. For example, the Pentagon sold Penguin the submarine without even checking for his home address or his full name. Where he got the giant flying umbrella-bikes from is never explained.
The Security Council of the United Nations is meeting in Gotham, as opposed to Metropolis. All delegates are wearing their national costumes. They are too stupid to notice that they are being kidnapped by force. The technology the villains use is dehydration, which turns people into transportable dust. However, there are unforseen complications involving dust spillage and heavy water.
Two-Face AKA Harvey Dent (Tommy Lee Jones - Captain America ) has gone on a crimewave, assisted by some stuntmen and a couple of hot girls - Sugar ( Drew Barrymore ) and Spice ( Debi Mazar ). He uses a helicopter to lift a massive bank vault as easily as if it were a movie prop made of plywood.
Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle - ) cannot simply arrest the criminals. Instead he calls in a couple of consultants - Batman AKA Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer - Willow ) and top psychological profiler Dr Chase Meridian ( Nicole Kidman ). Pretty soon they forget about catching the crooks too, and start dating. Yes, this gritty revenge thriller is now an action comedy about a man who dates his shrink.
Wayne disrespects his top scientist, Ed Nygma (Jim Carey - Earth Girls Are Easy ). Unfortunately, this just inspires Nygma to take his research and start a rival company. Presumably this world has no intellectual property laws, because the research should legally be WayneCorp property. Nygma has made a device that can project images into the user's head. Soon he mass-produces them, and sells enough to have one in every home in Gotham. This fits well into the 1950s-style setting, and mirrors the growing popularity of Television in the post-WW2 era. However, Nygma's system allows him to read the user's mind - and his ultimate target is Bruce Wayne himself.
A night at the circus turns bad, and circus acrobat Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell - ) gets orphaned. Wayne takes the kid in, and sets Alfred (Michael Gough - Satan's Slave ) as a babysitter. Grayson works out that Alfred is hiding something, because of the mysterious locked closet that attracts attention. It turns out that the locked door just draws notice to the secret sliding shelves in the closet, so Alfred would have been better off not locking it in the first place. Anyway, Grayson takes the batmobile for a joy-ride and tries to get freebies off some streetwalkers.
This movie had a lot of potential. Batman and Robin are both motivated by revenge for the deaths of their parents. Two-Face and Riddler are obsessed with revenge over imagined slights at the hands of Bruce Wayne/Batman. However, this powerful theme is lost amid the cheesy sets and toy-orientated vehicle designs.
Catwoman teams up with the other supervillains in the rogue's gallery. Batman and Robin have to follow the clues, including some riddles that are convoluted almost beyond belief. Catwoman's interplay with Batman is something to watch out for. Although she is voiced by Julie Newmar , at one stage Batman is knocked on the head and sees all THREE cat-women from the original series. Later, cat-woman offers to give up her life of crime if Batman agrees to run away with her to Europe where they can sip wine in cafes all day (like in Dark Knight Rises ). Holy unsatisfying ending, Batman!
The villains want to steal something called the replica ray. It is an item the size of a submachinegun, but it can scan and then 3-D print an exact copy of any item. Basically a super-powerful replicator that the residents of the Star Trek universe can only dream of.
The Cold War gets a mention. The Soviet bloc, in the form of a country named Belgravia, launches a rocket on a supply run to a massive space station they built in orbit. Somehow the villains stow away.
Bruce Wayne begins to act very out of character. He becomes very selfish and cynical, which is an entertaining change from his usual patronising self. Eventually he cracks, throwing the freeloaders out of his home and degrading the incompetent public officials who do such a terrible job of running the city. After all, they are responsible to the tax-payers, and Bruce Wayne probably pays most of the city's tax bill. Or at least, he ought to.
The corrupt Batman uses the replicator ray to copy himself, and soon controls the city with an army of copies. Robin and Cat-woman must team up to save Gotham.
The first half of the movie is narrated by Batgirl herself, and concerns a gangster who became romantically obsessed with her. He combines a violent takeover of the Gotham mob with attempts to flirt with her. Meanwhile, Batgirl obsesses over (and has sex with) her mentor - Batman himself!
The second half is the real storyline. The Joker (Mark Hamill - Star Wars: ANH ) escapes from Arkham Asylum, and goes after Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise - Twin Peaks ). Batgirl's role is less damsel in distress, more woman in refrigerator.
The Joker wants to illustrate to Gordon and Batman that all it takes for a sane person to become insane is one bad day. His plan is to drive Gordon insane. Meanwhile, Batman has come to realise that sooner or later he must either kill the Joker or be killed by him.
Jim Gordon retires as Police Commissioner, and his daughter Barbara Gordon ( Rosario Dawson ) is appointed as his replacement. No nepotism or corruption there. At least she sees that the city's reliance on Batman is a bad idea, and publicly slams him as a man in a halloween costume who beats up poor people.
Joker plans revenge on Batman by releasing the inmates in the Phantom Zone They are an eclectic bunch of villains from other stories. Yes, much like The Lego Movie this has a lot of cross-over with other franchises. There are two main classes of villains. The first is those who are antagonists in stories about (and usually titled after) the protagonists:
Batman ends up having to work as part of a team. Of course, this is a compromise because he is still an elitist vigilante who works outside the law. Instead of working with the police he builds a replacement family - Batgirl, Robin and Alfred. Yes, the Lord of Wayne Manor still uses his personal retainers to enforce his laws rather than use the tax-funded police department that is accountable to the general public.
The JLA defeat the Legion of Doom in a battle outside the newly-opened Hall of Justice. However, a demon named Trigan is somehow released. He starts to possess people, and make them do his evil bidding.
Robin is removed from the JLA and re-assigned to a team his own age - the Teen Titans. He is an arrogant little git who pushes everyone's limits. Of course, he must learn to work with his new team-mates.
The JLA get possessed by the demons. In order to save the world, the Teen Titans must face them. Of course, as the junior team they are not in the same league, and get their asses handed to them with ease. All this means that the story works, as the characters have to develop their skills and abilities in order to complete their quest.
The Justice League investigate a series of incidents which involve people going crazy and seeing demonic entities. Since there is no apparent scientific explanation, the obvious assumption is a magical one. Batman rejects this at first, stating that it is merely making excuses for the criminally insane.
Batman recruits a team of magic-users to hunt down the wizard responsible. The first recruit is Constantine , the Garth Ennis creation who is so popular he got his own movie and TV show. Zatanna, a much longer-lived character who is usually restricted to guest appearances in other shows, is also included as the token woman. Swamp Thing also makes an appearance.
The regular JLA fall victims to the halucinogenic curse. This is a convenient excuse for the new team to face off against them in the old team.
Wise-ass is gifted a magic ring by a dying alien. Our hero is then trained in the skills of the Green Lantern by creepy-looking Sinestro (Mark Strong, rent-a-villain from Stardust ). This has got to be the least subtle name for a villain since Traitor-o in Meet the Spartans .
Hal's geeky sidekick is a Polynesian version of Moss from The I.T. Crowd.
Senator Tim Robbins (
Shawshank Redemption, City of Ember
) lurks in the background.
Decades later, and Henry Cavill wanders the USA. He takes a variety of low-paid jobs, always leaving when he has to transform to save someone's life. He ends up as a muscle-bound git in tattered trousers - like Eric Bana in Hulk .
Lois Lane ( Amy Adams ) investigates a US military cover-up at a remote site. Colonel Christopher Meloni (Oz) and General Harry Lennix ( Dollhouse ) are in charge, and it seems they have uncovered a UFO buried for thousands of years. Clark is in search of his Kryptonian heritage, and reveals his upbringing at the hands of Kevin Costner ( Waterworld ) and Diane Lane .
The climax is an alien invasion of Earth, with superhuman monsters socking it out. Lots of skyscrapers get smashed up, 9-11 style, but because this is PG-13 nobody actually gets hurt. Yes, unlike the relatively realistic Independence Day there are ZERO actual casualties on the ground side!
Coming from the director of Watchmen , this should have been so much better. The cast is incredible, and the actors cannot be faulted. But this is just not a superman film. It is too grim - despite the success of the Batman Begins franchise, the tone of a Superman film should be a lot more optimistic than this. The result is a depressing version of Hulk vs. Independence Day. All in all, about as pointless as Transformers 3 .
In the modern day, Clark Kent has decided that the Metropolis newspaper he works for should also cover eVents in nearby Gotham City. This is not surprising, because Lois Lane spends her time interviewing warlords in Africa. Her journalistic neutrality is negated by the fact that Jimmy Olsen is actually a goon working for the CIA. Worse, when Lois gets herself in trouble Superman decides to perform some instant Regime Change. Of course, he is not one for Nation Building so he leaves the local peasants unprotected so they can all get killed by genocidal enemies.
Back in Gotham, Batty Man (Ben Affleck - Daredevil ) is a murderous spree-killer, and it is shocking that Clark Kent (Henry Cavill - Man From UNCLE ) wastes time on a couple of cases where the suspect was only branded because there must have been a lot of fatalities too. The Batmobile has a gatling gun, it is military-grade hardware - does he use it against pickpockets and burglars? If Gotham uses the Bat-signal it implies that Batman works for Commissioner Gordon, so he is an officially deputised Law Enforcement Officer, not a vigilante. So why are street cops shooting at him?
It is ironic that Clark Kent thinks Batman is an out-of-control vigilante, while he himself is not above killing someone who gets in his way. He smashes one guy through two brick walls, presumably a fatal injury - instead of disarming him in a non-fatal way. When the Warlord and his men were killed, there was nobody to protect the villagers. The local dictator sent his military in and killed all the civilians. If Superman had left the situation alone, those people would still be alive.
Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg - Zombieland ) is the only one who sees that these two heroes are kill-crazy lunatics. He invites both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent to a party. Also in attendance is mysterious femme fatale Diana Prince ( Gal Godot ). He seems to know the secret identities of these characters, although serving them wine and nibbles is hardly a master-plan to defeat them all.
Eventually, Superman goes looking for his rival and starts a fight. Luthor has a backup plan. If the battle between Batfink and lycra-man proves anti-climactic, they can always team up against his super-soldier.
The team include the likes of the Enchantress ( Cara Delevingne ), Deadshot (Will Smith - Collateral Beauty ) and Harley Quinn ( Margot Robbie ). Unfortunately, they seem to be more trouble than they are worth. In fact, all the problems in the movie are caused by Waller's supposedly tame goons. The main plot is a quest to defeat the Enchantress before she can destroy the world. There is a subplot involving the Joker (Jared Leto - Fight Club ), as he turns the country upside down in order to find his girlfriend.
This was directed by David Ayers , and was originally one of his grim police dramas. Unfortunately the studio had it re-edited, watering down the darker scenes and adding extra exposition. The result is not a comedy thriller, but rather a hard-edged thriller with some comedy inserted.
We learn Diana's backstory, her childhood on the island of Amazons. Her mother ( Robin Wright ) tells her a fairy tale about the Greek Gods, which creates a flashback within a flashback that gives extra exposition. The Amazons were spawned by the Gods, but eventually warred against them. In a storyline that is more than a little reminiscent of Xena: Warrior Princess , because Diana's personal mission is to destroy the final Olympian god - Ares, god of War.
One day, when Diana has grown up and looks like Gal Godot, she sees a World War One era plane crash in the ocean. She rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine - Star Trek (2009) ), and brings him to shore. Unfortunately the German navy has sent a warship and a lot of naval infantry after him. The Amazon General ( Connie Nielsen ), who commands a company-strength unit rather than a brigade, leads a brutal attack on the poor Germans. We get a lot of the archer-versus-gunman heroics regularly shown on the Arrow television show, and the Germans are quickly wiped out. Seriously, none of the Germans is left alive. Even the one that Steve beat unconscious with his bare hands is somehow dead. The Amazons want to murder Steve as well, but they need to keep him alive in order to get information out of him.
Diana assumes that Steve is a good guy, and that the unfortunate Germans have ceen corrupted by Ares. She intends to assassinate the German General, in the hope that his death will cause everyone to instantly stop fighting. Of course, since they are in November 1918 and the Artistice is about to be signed, it seems that the war will end anyway. However, the German General is an evil comic-book villain who plans to use a newly-invented super-weapon. Strangely the villain is called Ludendorf, named after a famous figure who was involved in post-war politics. The writer ( Zack Snyder ) should have named him after Erich Von Falkenheyn instead.
Diana joins Steve on his trip home so he can report to his bosses in London. He is on loan to British Military Intelligence, if only because the film-makers would never dare to portray American servicemen in such a poor light. They refuse to attack the Germans, because the Armistice is about to be signed. However, he recruits his own team of Howling Commandos. They include Sickboy from Trainspotting, a PTSD-ridden alcoholic sniper. Of course, they are just comic relief so that Diana can do all the heroics.
Diana leads a bayonet charge against the German machine-gun nests. Of course, she is bullet-proof but the men on both sides are not. Later she reveals that her super-human strength allows her to lift a four-ton armoured fighting vehicle over her head. She slaughters vast numbers of conscripts without any conscience. For something in the guise of an anti-war film, this certainly does a lot to glamourise violence.
Superman ( ) is dead, and the world mourns for him. All except the criminals, who are having a wild time of it. And some aliens, who feel free to invade Earth now that its protector is gone.
Bruce Wayne has been going through Lex Luthor's files. He discovers that Luthor actually had a good reason for collecting files on super-humans. Luthor knew that the power void caused by Superman's demise would inevitably result in an alien invasion. Therefore he was planning to create an army of heroes to protect Earth. Not unlike Nick Fury and the Avengers Initiative. Of course, nobody even considers letting Luthor out so he can save the world. They probably learned the lesson about recruiting super-villains after the events of Suicide Squad . As a result, Wayne takes it upon himself to start his own team.
Diana Prince ( Gal Godot ) still has her hobby of being Wonder Woman. She stands around on top of statues, and beats up reactionary terrorists. With a combination of superhuman strength, reflexes faster than a speeding bullet, and a pair of armoured bracelets she is pretty much bulletproof. It is not revealed if she slaughters the other team, or allows them to be taken alive by the cops.
The male counterpart to Diana, Princess of Themyskira, is Arthur Currie, Crown Prince of Atlantis. He is also known as Aquaman (Jason Momoa - Game Of Thrones ), who instead of hanging out with his Polynesian relatives in Hawaii decides to spend every winter on the freezing coast of Iceland. Unfortunately he does not seem interested in defending the Earth.
The next two potential members of the team are both accidental heroes. One was injured by his father (Joe Morton - Brother From Another Planet ), best known as Miles Dyson from Terminator 2 , who rebuilt him as a Cyborg. Finally the last hero is Barry Allen. He is not the same confident mature young man from The Flash , but a younger and nerdier version. If he had to be compared to any character from the show, it is actually Cisco Ramone.
The villain finally makes his appearance. His name is Steppenwolf (a CGI character voiced by Ciaran Hinds - Ghost Rider 2 ), and his agenda is simple. He is an alien with a horned helpet who poses as an ancient god, and leads an alien army to recover a magic artefact lost on Earth so he can conquer the planet. So basically, he is a crappy copy of Loki in Marvel Avengers Assemble .
The villain's first stop is on Themyskira, the secret island ruled by the Amazons. How they have managed to survive there is unknown. There are no fields of crops or fishing boats. However, they do have a massive grassy plain that they use to graze their horses. It seems that the only meat the Amazons could eat would be from a cull of the horses. Plus any human males who end up on the island, of course.
The heroes get their hands on one of the plot-device boxes. It is like the Genesis Device in Star Trek: Wrath of Khan , the plot-device which made possible the return of Spock in Star Trek: Search for Spock . They try to revive Superman, which leads on to a classic hero-on-hero battle. In all fairness, this is the best fight sequence of the entire film.
The climax and conclusion are all quite predictable. There is a mid-credits sequence, with a couple of heroes competing to see who is the fastest. Unfortunately one of them flies, which should count as cheating.
In the final after-credits sequence, a couple of super-villains get together to discuss setting up their own League. After all, that is the next logical step in the eventual escalation. Perhaps the next movie in the series might be impressive.