ORBzine - Superheroes Movie Reviews



Jumper Hayden Christiansen ( Attack of the Clones ) has superpowers - not Jedi powers, but good old teleportation. Naturally, he has no idea of how to use his powers to the best of his ability. He does not help people, he merely leads a shallow and vain existence. Robbing banks, for example - the kind of thing that classic supervillains get up to. And his clumsiness brings him to the attention of people in authority.

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.

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  • Green Hornet

    Green Hornet Playboy Seth Rogan takes over the family business when his father, Newspaper magnate Tom Wilkinson, dies in unlikely circumstances. With the help of kung-fu super-genius chauffeur Kato, and the unwitting advice of criminologist Cameron Diaz , our hero poses as a super-villain in order to take on local crime boss Chemnofsky (Christopher Waltz - Spectre).

    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.

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  • Captain America (1990s)

    Captain America (1990s) This is quite different from the 2010 version. The lack of CGI technology and the relatively limited budget are only part of the problem. Whereas the newer version of the film allowed the title character to act as a soldier (wearing camouflage and using a gun) in this version they were extremely limited in what they could do. As a result the so-called hero comes across as very weak.

    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.

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  • Fantastic Four (2015)

    Fantastic Four (2015) Yet another reboot of a Marvel comics-inspired story. It is not part of the MCU (Marvel Comics Universe), so there is no Stan Lee cameo and no after-credits sequence. In fact, if you were to change the names then there is nothing that really marks this as a Marvel storyline at all.

    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.

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  • Blade: Trinity

    Blade: Trinity The Vampires (led by Parker Posey and Callum Keith Rennie - BSG 2003 ) have a cunning plan. They revive the oldest vamp in the world (a very badly miscast Dominic Purcell - John Doe ). Then they set Blade (Wesley Snipes - Gallow Walkers ) up, to be wanted by FBI Agent James Remar ( Shannara Chronicles ).

    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.

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  • Incredibles, The

    Incredibles, The This is a big-budget CGI animation taking a humourous (and cynical) look at the superhero genre. Superheros Mr Incredible and token black guy (Samuel L Jackson - Deep Blue Sea ) get sued, just like the Ghostbusters were after their first film. They end up being forced into retirement. Mr Incredible gets a day job working for Insurance company bureaucrat Wallace Shawn ( Princess Bride ). Natually, this cannot end well.

    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.

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  • Wreck-It Ralph

    Wreck-It Ralph This is the story of a supervillain who wants to be a hero for a change. He goes on a hero's journey, complete with character development and redemption. If this all sounds familiar, the concept is not unlike other cartoons ( Despicable Me, MegaMind ). This time the animation is provided by Pixar, the studio that did Toy Story ), and the characters are computer game AIs instead of toys.

    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.

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  • Big Hero 6

    Big Hero 6 This is a Manga-type effort from John Lassiter’s animation studio. The protagonist is a teenage boy who builds miniature robots that he uses to compete in robot-fighting games. His big brother persuades the kid to help in his University project - a human-sized robot that provides a full range of medical treatments. The kid’s own application to attend the University is his new invention - self-assembling lego bricks. Basically, they are like the Replicator cells from Stargate SG-1 . Unfortunately, tragedy strikes.

    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 !

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  • Batman (1966)

    Batman (1966) This is the feature-length big-budget version of the camp 1960s TV show. Batman and Commissioner Gordon do not know which super-criminals are at large, so they have a minion check the records. Hence the existence of Police Chief O'Hara, a negative racial stereotype of Oirish-Americans. A decade later and this role would become standard for African-American men, thanks to Starsky and Hutch. As a result of the expostionary records check we learn that the Penguin (Burgess Meredith - ) is a master of Fowl play. Organised crime must pay well, because he can afford to have purchased a World War Two-era submersible and modified it into a penguin-shaped Polaris submarine!

    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.

  • Batman (1988)
  • Batman Begins
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  • Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)

    Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) This is a cartoon version of the camp 1960s TV show, voiced by the surviving original performers! It does not even attempt to take itself seriuously, and there are many in-jokes and references to the original show's deficiencies.

    Catwoman teams up with the other supervillains in the rogue's gallery.

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  • Lego Batman

    Lego Batman Batman once again fights the Joker. However, it seems that the Joker values their antagonistic relationship far more than does Batman himself, an arch loner. This leads on to the main storyline, a parody of relationship movies (what real people call Rom-Coms).

    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:

  • Daleks from Doctor Who
  • Voldemort from Harry Potter
    The other villains are the title characters in stories about them, where the protagonist is a reactive character - monster movies, which overlaps with the horror movie genre.
  • Dracula
  • Godzilla
  • Gremlins
  • Jaws

    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.

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  • DC (Justice League of America) Franchise

    Green Lantern

    Green Lantern If the hero, Ryan Reynolds, looks familiar it is because he played a wise-cracking superhero in Blade: Trinity and a different wise-cracking superhero in Wolverine . Those movies were set in the same universe (!!!), so it is actually a GOOD thing that his third wise-cracking superhero is in the DC universe.

    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.

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  • Man of Steel

    Man of Steel The story starts on Planet Krypton, which is falling apart due to excessive mining endorsed by the idiotic Supreme Council. General Zod (Michael Shannon) takes the opportunity to stage a coup. Jor-El (Russell Crowe - Gladiator ) chooses to defy Zod, who seems to be a racist and a space-Afrikaner. Instead, Jor-El single-handedly out-fights both sides in the civil war, and sends his infant son to Earth. The Council don't bother to evacuate themselves, dooming Krypton - but they vengefully (and stupidly) imprison Zod's followers in the Forbidden Zone.

    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 .

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  • Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice This starts with a flashback to the climax of Man of Steel . In the movie it was glamourised to look like no humans got hurt. However, when we see it from Bruce Wayne's perspective we see the true human cost.

    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.

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  • Suicide Squad

    Suicide Squad This is set in the post- Batman Vs Superman universe. Amanda Waller, a high-ranking US Government official, creates a Dirty Dozen style unit of expendable low-ranking supervillains. Ironically it is Waller, with her ends-justify-the-means approach, who comes across as the biggest villain in the whole movie.

    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.

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  • Wonder Woman (2017)

    Wonder Woman (2017) The movie starts with a post- Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice bookend sequence. Diana Prince ( Gal Godot ) visits the Louvre museum in Paris, where Bruce Wayne has arranged some First World War memorabilia to be delivered. These items are memoirs of her first mission, so we get the main story as an extended flashback.

    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.

  • Wonder Woman TV show
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