Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018)

It’ll take more than a bad movie to bring the “Suicide Squad” down. Deep down there’s still a great movie to be made with this concept. “Assault on Arkham” showed it, and “Hell to Pay” proves it. You don’t have to make this group the center of the DC Universe fighting massive gods. They can just be super powered thugs doing the slimy stuff like stealing Lex Luthor’s chunk of Kryptonite, or breaking in to Batman’s fortress to steal incriminating evidence he has to bring down Amanda Waller. Something neat in the same vein happens in “Hell to Pay” when the group are assigned to track down a maguffin that is both silly and clever.

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Justice League (2017) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

At the end of the day I think “Justice League” is a very—okay movie, with glimmers of greatness. But that’s the problem, sadly. Fans waited and waited, and didn’t want an okay movie. We fans wanted a great movie, and despite bringing in Joss Whedon in the final hour, “Justice League” feels less like the beginning of an epic saga of superheroes, and more like a throwaway episode of a mediocre superhero series. And what with “mustache gate” and the continued controversy over the original cut of the film, “Justice League” will carry a lot of baggage with it forever. Which is sad, because I still didn’t hate it as much as I did “Batman v Superman.”

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Black Panther (2018)

The long overdue cinematic debut of Black Panther is a bold and unique new turn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a perfectly cast Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa. “Black Panther” not only focuses on mostly African cast of characters, but also doesn’t lean too heavily on the Marvel universe to register with audiences. Director Ryan Coogler and Marvel have enough confidence in the clout of Black Panther to allow the film to be its own entity. There are passing references to “Civil War,” and a big supporting role from Agent Ross (a returning Martin Freeman), but this is strictly the movie Black Panther should have had ten years ago.

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Kill Order (aka Meza) (2017) [Blood In The Snow 2017]

A teenager with strange abilities discovers why he has these and has to decide what he wants to make with them and himself.

Written and directed by James Mark, the film is a nice long string of fight sequences with other scenes and sequences in-between to build the story that unfortunately come off as forgettable, especially next to those fight scenes. The fighting in Kill Order is where it’s at. It’s rousing, exciting, and fun to watch. Which makes the in-between stuff this much sadder being that they are some much fun and the rest of the film feels a bit forgettable. The story is interesting but it’s not developed in a way that keeps the attention. The only reason this reviewer kept watching was all the awesome fighting. Fans of stuff like Ong Bak and B13 will love the action, but will probably check out during the rest of the film. Also not helping this are scenes that have subtitles that are white on white, thus extremely hard to read.

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Justice League (2017)

If “Batman v Superman” was Zack Snyder’s own way of exploring how antiquated Superman is, “Justice League” is the proof by Joss Whedon that Superman is actually a bad ass with the right mind behind him. I won’t pretend that “Justice League” is a masterpiece of the comic cinema boom, but I can’t claim it to be one of the worst movies of the year, either. With some spit and polish, it could have risen to be a fantastic film, but in its final form, it’s a neat diversion with a manic energy, and the return of a modern cinematic Superman who presents an iota of positivity, charm, and hope. Finally.

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Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

“Brawl in Cell Block 99” is the second feature from director S. Craig Zahler, the man behind “Bone Tomahawk,” the acclaimed horror western that sent critics buzzing. I, for one, didn’t enjoy the movie, so imagine my surprise when I tuned in to “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” a movie that is essentially a throwback to prison brawlers and a compelling drama. Not since “Raze” have I seen a movie so raw and vicious in its depiction of humanity. Vince Vaughn gives an enormous turn as Bradley, a man at the end of his rope who literally has to dive in to hell to save his wife and unborn child. And what’s surprising is not how far he goes, but how easy it is for a good man to sink in to hell so rapidly.

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Batman vs. Two Face (2017) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

I was not at all a fan of the original “Batman” animated movie, as I felt it was somewhat unfocused. Thankfully “Batman vs. Two Face” not only gets the idea more about the Batman series, but uses Two Face quite cleverly. As most fans know, the original Adam West Batman show wanted Clint Eastwood to play Two Face, but deemed the character too disturbing for viewers. Producers for this animated movie go back to re-cast Two Face for their show, but bring aboard another television icon to play the villain, William Shatner. Shatner is perfect for the role of the duplicitous deviant ne’er dowell known as Two Face, and what makes the pot even sweeter is that he’s turned in to an allegory for homosexuality.

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25 Years Later I Still Love “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

The story of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is about as classic a tale and about as old a tale as most other movies in development. Whedon had a vision for a new take on a horror story and Hollywood didn’t get it and kind of fucked it up. Everyone by now knows the tale of 1992’s “Buffy,” and how Joss Whedon initially wanted to make something of a darker more stern take on the vampire hunter that minced a coming of age tale with a story of a young woman coming to maturity. When Whedon was given the chance to finally bring his film in to development he kind of lost control of his creation.

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