Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gregg Katzman, Professional Geek for Hire

Hi there, friends, random readers, and potential employers!

My name is Gregg Katzman and I have a totally healthy obsession with talking about comic books and the movies, TV shows, and video games that are inspired by them. Since 2011, I've been fortunate enough to write for some of the biggest and best names in geek culture: Comic Vine, Screen Rant, IGN, Midtown Comics, and's Marvel section. Now, I'm looking for a site to call home, whether it's a steady freelance opportunity or even one of those rare full-time opportunities that I've heard so much about.

I absolutely fell in love with writing editorials and reviews, conducting interviews (including Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Geoff Johns, and Hugh Jackman), appearing on camera, taking part in podcasts, collaborating with studios and companies to give fans great opportunities, and so much more. I also spent some time building fan events at Midtown Comics and worked on New York Comic Con 2017 - connecting with fans and making them feel more involved is something that I'm incredibly passionate about. If you're interested in learning more about my career, you can check out my LinkedIn profile here.

Below, I've shared some of my favorite writing samples and I can provide countless more samples if needed. 
If you do want to reach out with an opportunity (please and thank you), you can email me at or send me a message on Twitter. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Justice League review (spoiler-free)

Let's get something very important out of the way first: I love Zack Snyder's Man of Steel and I've grown to really like the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Some of you probably just left this page, some of you are totally judging me but still reading, and some of you are happy to meet another fan of those polarizing films. Because of this, I'm going into Justice League with a completely different mindset than many people. I'm obviously keeping an open mind every time I see a new movie, but I'm hoping for a balance that wins over the people critical of the DC Extended Universe and keeps pre-existing DCEU fans happy. I imagine many people out there want something that feels nothing like MoS and BvS.

Look, I completely understand why some people don't enjoy MoS and BvS and it's totally understandable that the studio wants to move in a direction that will earn critical acclaim and praise from a majority of fans. I get it, and Wonder Woman appeared to be the first step in the DCEU's new direction, which is clearly being led by Geoff Johns. Justice League is the second step, and I'm happy to say that it's a very entertaining movie; however, as someone who appreciates MoS and BvS, it is a little difficult not feeling like they're trying a little too hard to "course correct" during a few points. These are extremely brief moments, so those who don't share my opinion of Snyder's DC films likely won't mind and may even love 'em. Those who do share my love for MoS and BvS UE may also feel like the film goes a little too light at times to earn a laugh from the audience.

The overall story is nothing out of the ordinary and that's perfectly fine because this story isn't really about Steppenwolf trying to destroy the planet; it's about the heroes improving themselves and joining forces - that's what's important. Steppenwolf leaps into the picture and he has one simple role: Be a big and seriously formidable dude. I think he plays that role well while we get basic info about him. He's not someone I cared about, but he did entertain and his presence had my mind racing about all of the cosmic possibilities for the future of the DCEU. He's never as intimidating or engaging as Michael Shannon's General Zod - few villains are, though - but he's there to pose a threat and he absolutely delivers. That said, I was hoping for a little more when the conflict wrapped up, but that's a small, personal complaint. The film feels like it's playing things a little too safe and predictable at times, but it's entertaining throughout the whole ride. As for Steppenwolf's CGI, it never dropped my jaw like the visuals from the rebooted Apes films did, but it never felt too fake to me, either.

Everyone's going to walk out of the theater with different favorite heroes. Thanks to his lovable and awkward banter, the Flash (Ezra Miller) is going to become very popular and I can't wait for the potential Flashpoint film. If you loved Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, you definitely still will; Ray Fisher's Cyborg is critical to the story and I love his growth and chemistry with Flash; Jason Momoa's Aquaman will make you believe that a man can swim - the dude's good fun. Ben Affleck's Batman still makes me want to cheer whenever I see a cool shot of the Caped Crusader and, if you didn't understand how he changed at the end of BvS, you will in this film. Again, I stand by that guy as a great Bruce Wayne and Batman - hopefully he sticks around for Matt Reeves' upcoming Batman film.

While Cyborg, Wonder Woman, and Batman receive some extra insight, Aquaman and Flash have dialogue dedicated to quickly teasing their origins - it's basically "go see their solo films" and I'm totally fine with that because, as a fan of both characters, it feels like a super brief teaser for both of their movies. Please don't read too much into that! I don't mean to imply there are huge reveals or anything, I'm just saying it's cool seeing a scene or two revolve around Flash and his father as well as Aquaman and Mera. I had the same feeling watching Batman fighting a Parademon in Gotham. It's surreal that we're witnessing this on the big screen!

What can I say about Superman without blatantly spoiling anything? Well, I guess I can say that we do see more of the Man of Steel than I expected and I really enjoyed it. If you consider yourself a fan of the Last Son of Krypton, I'm pretty sure you'll be happy, even if you didn't enjoy MoS and BvS. To keep spoiler-free, I'll leave it at that, but I'm really excited to talk about those moments after the film opens!

There are a few surprises and I sincerely hope you're able avoid spoilers before seeing the movie. There are so many times I had goosebumps and wanted to applaud. Whether it was a simple namedrop or witnessing something completely unexpected, I had a total blast. I can't elaborate because, well, spoilers, but both credits scenes are amazing and for entirely different reasons, too. That said, several promising moments from the trailers didn't make the cut. Hopefully we'll see them in a potential extended edition!

Director Tim Burton's Batman (1989) was my introduction to the Dark Knight so the film and its music holds a very special place in my heart. Because of that, it's tough not to have a fanboy moment when I heard a sample of Batman's classic theme in this movie. It immediately made me think of how big of a role this character has had in my life and how amazing it is to still be awe-struck by the fictional hero. The second time I heard a sample of the theme during a Batmobile scene, it took me out of the moment. Instead of this general feeling of witnessing something larger than life, I was left comparing this new Batmobile scene to the one from 1989. You may agree, you may not. Who knows, this is all subjective, right? Hans Zimmer's score also makes a brief appearance and boy, that really made me miss it. Obviously, I mean no disrespect to the talented Danny Elfman, but Zimmers' music has played such a big role in this cinematic universe and it's so powerful. Its absence is definitely felt, but Elfman's score does feel appropriate at times for the "lighter" direction.

Did you like Zack Snyder's other DC movies? Go see Justice League, but you may think it doesn't have the same emotional impact as the other films. Did you not like Zack Snyder's DC movies but you enjoyed Wonder Woman? Go see Justice League and hopefully you'll feel more optimistic about the future of the DCEU. Basically, if you're a human, I think you should go see Justice League. The plot won't blow your mind and the film doesn't take any risks but it's a very good time at the movies and there's plenty of fan service and teasers for the future of the DCEU. This one's all about selling us on the heroes and I'd say it delivered. This cinematic universe is still so young and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us, especially after witnessing that credits scene...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Justice League: Thanks for not showing us Superman

How much should a movie trailer reveal? When the Captain America: Civil War trailer showed Spider-Man stealing Captain America's shield, did that make you more excited about the film or did it make you wish you saw that for the first time on the big screen? Or what about DC's Trinity - Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman - standing together against Doomsday in the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer? The answer is obviously going to vary from person to person since it's totally subjective. On one hand, a big reveal builds interest in the film and the conversation - whether it's good or bad - dominates social media and receives a ton of coverage on movie sites. Some loved seeing Doomsday and the Trinity, others thought it took away from the movie's big conflict between the Dark Knight and Superman.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now just one week away. No matter how you feel about his films, there's no denying that Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League is clearly a Superman trilogy. Man of Steel explores the hero's origin; BvS deals with the hero's struggles and death; Justice League appears to be about how the world needs a hero like Superman and, of course, his return. Despite this, Justice League trailers, TV spots, and clips haven't revealed any footage of Superman in action. His presence is definitely felt and the character is discussed, but aside from what appears to be a dream sequence and a brief shot with Alfred, the Justice League promos haven't shown us the Last Son of Krypton flying, throwing a punch, or standing with the rest of the team.

I'm really impressed that Justice League has been promoted without spoiling any of the Superman scenes. We all know the Big Blue Boy Scout is in the movie and Warner Bros. and DC definitely aren't trying to keep a lid on that. The Fandango Justice League poster has Superman as a silhouette, Geoff Johns has teased that there will be some great moments for Clark in the movie, and Henry Cavill's part of the press junket. But we're not getting a look at Superman duking it out with Steppenwolf (or Darkseid if we're lucky) or Superman interacting with the other heroes. It looks like the studio is saving these moments for the big screen, and that's something I truly appreciate.

Superman's supposed to inspire. How inspirational can his return be if we watch it for the first time on a laptop or even a phone? Sure, it'll get a lot of us excited, but something like that is supposed to be epic and make an impact. We all know Big Blue's return will be way more significant if it's seen on a giant screen with thunderous audio.

If you're like me and you spend way too much time reading about movies, then you know it's hugely impressive that Justice League's final act hasn't been blatantly spoiled by now. No big rumors. No major leaks. No huge reveals in trailers that let you build the entire film in your head. It feels like there's still so much that we don't know about the movie and that's really rare with blockbusters nowadays. So, credit where credit is due. Thank you, WB and DC for saving Superman's (hopefully awesome) return for the big screen. And if a trailer does give this moment away before the film opens in theaters, well, I'm not a Green Lantern... I just won't have the willpower to resist watching it!

Looking forward to Justice League? You should check out my other article, 5 DC Animated Movies to Watch First!

Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter here.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Justice League: 5 Animated Movies to Watch First

Director Zack Snyder's Justice League will soon be in theaters - the wait is almost over! There are plenty of fun ways to get even more excited for the live-action comic book movie, like reading literally hundreds of relevant comics, enjoying some of your favorite DC shows, or even just gazing at your DC collectibles. There is one way of celebrating that should not be overlooked: DC animated movies!

The DC Universe Original Movies 10th Anniversary Collection went on sale today. From Superman: Doomsday to Batman and Harley Quinn, this set includes 30 animated films on Blu-ray, several special features, and a few other goodies. The impressive release made me reflect on the three decades worth of movies - Batman: Under the Red Hood is still my favorite - and it made me realize that if you're truly going "all in" for Justice League, watching some of these animated films is the perfect way to build your anticipation for Warner Bros. and DC's upcoming blockbuster.

There are a lot of good animated options to choose from, but since this article is about celebrating an upcoming DC Extended Universe movie, I narrowed the list down to the most relevant options and I've provided a few more recommendations at the end, too. If you've already watched all of these movies, great! Now go watch 'em again. If you haven't seen them yet, it's your duty as a DC fan to check 'em out. Enjoy!

Superman: Doomsday

Directed by Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm, and Brandon Vietti
You've witnessed the death and return of Superman in the comics as the Man of Steel slugged it out with the devastating creature Doomsday. You've watched Kal-El save the world as he defeated Doomsday in Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We're obviously going to see the hero's return in Justice League and hopefully it'll be great. Now, feast your eyes on the animated version of this epic slugfest between DC's iconic inspiration and the fearsome fiend in a story that also features Lex Luthor and Lois Lane. If you're left wanting to watch more animated Superman goodness, I strongly recommend one of my favorite DC Universe Original Movies: Superman vs The Elite.

Wonder Woman
Directed by Lauren Montgomery
Before Diana dominated the box office, she duked it out with Ares in an absolutely amazing animated movie. Wonder Woman's animated origin film is action-packed and incredibly entertaining - it's easily one of my favorites. This is undoubtedly a must-watch if you're a new fan of the character or if you've been following her adventures for years. Oh, and Nathan Fillion voices Steve Trevor, so there's that, too. Once you're done watching Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman movie for the millionth time, enjoy this animated movie! A commemorative edition was recently released as well.

Justice League: War
Directed by Jay Oliva
Based on Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's debut New 52 Justice League story, Justice League: War is a movie that's all about delivering massive action and a ton of banter. It may not have the most elaborate story around and Darkseid's just there to be the big boss battle (to be fair, that's his role in the comic as well), but it's a really good time watching the team come together to battle Parademons and DC's biggest villain. It's pure popcorn fun, people. 

Superman & Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos
Now that we know who's playing Billy Batson, Shazam, and Black Adam, I likely won't be the only one thinking about them appearing on the big screen with the heroes in Justice League. While Billy Batson and Black Adam probably won't be spotted in Justice League, we do know Shazam's film will be the next one to start production! Thankfully, there's so much to love about DC Showcase's Superman & Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam. It's exciting, character-driven, and full of heart. I always find myself wanting to rewatch this one - it's just so lovable.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Directed by Jay Oliva
This one isn't for the younglings, DC fans. Based on Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert's DC event, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a brutal, thrilling, and emotional ride. Only time will tell how much of the source material makes it into the upcoming live-action version of this story, but the animated version contains a lot of great material despite only having a runtime of 81 minutes. Many fans consider this to be one of the best DC animated films and you definitely won't find me disagreeing with that.

If you're excited about the future of the DCEU, I also recommend watching these animated films:
  • Batman: Assault on Arkham (features the Suicide Squad)
  • Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (features Nightwing & Deathstroke)
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood (in case Matt Reeves follows-up on that Robin costume in BvS)
  • Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (more of Apokolips and features Supergirl and Darkseid)
  • Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (focuses on Aquaman and his world)
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (revisit the conflict in BvS)
  • Justice League Dark (who knows if this will happen but it's a good animated film!)

Justice League arrives in theaters on November 17 and you can already get your tickets for showings on the evening of November 16. The DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection is currently on sale and it's a mandatory addition to any DC fan's holiday gift list.

Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Justice League: Stop Worrying about the Runtime

Artwork by Lee Bermejo

The world is finally getting a cinematic version of the Justice League. Whether you've waited years for this moment or you're a new and excited DC fan, the thought of Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and more - like Mera and Commissioner Gordon - appearing together on the big screen is pretty exciting stuff. Will the movie be any good, though? Only time will tell. Until then, the movie is obviously subject to a ton of passionate debating between fans.
How will the new characters be handled? Will a seventh hero appear in the final act? What about Darkseid? There's a lot to discuss, especially considering the fact that Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are such polarizing films; however, there's one surprising thing that's now the subject of some very heated debates: The movie's reported runtime.

At the time of writing, Justice League will reportedly be 121 minutes long, making it the shortest DC Extended Universe film yet. Man of Steel is 143 minutes; Batman v Superman is 151 minutes (the Ultimate Edition is 182 minutes); Suicide Squad is 123 minutes; Wonder Woman is 141 minutes. Does that runtime automatically mean the movie doesn't have enough time to tell its story? No way.

A fair comparison would be other films that needed to establish brand new teams. Guardians of the Galaxy is only 122 minutes (a whopping one minute longer than JL's reported runtime); Rogue One is only 12 minutes longer, clocking it at 133 minutes; Big Hero 6 is only 102 minutes. Say what you will about each film, but they all have favorable scores from both critics and fans, so obviously runtime wasn't an issue for those movies to build new teams and have them take on the big bad.

Unlike the above films, Justice League does have some storytelling advantages. Three of the primary heroes (Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman) have already received character arcs and the three new heroes (Cyborg, Aquaman, Flash) already received super brief introductions in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Plus, this movie doesn’t need to go too deep (terrible Aquaman pun is intentional) into their origin stories. Aquaman’s getting his own film next year to further explore the powerful character and his mythos, and the Scarlet Speedster is getting a Flashpoint film (which will hopefully be every bit as awesome as it should be). We know there were plans for a Cyborg movie, but there has been no official news on that project. Regardless, Cyborg is expected to play a big role in Justice League since his alien tech is an organic link to the main villain, Steppenwolf, and director Zack Snyder previously said that Cyborg is “in a lot of the ways the heart of the movie.”
If the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox can thrive with only 81 minutes to tell its story, 121 minutes for Justice League should be more than enough time to form the team, show the general audience how cool the new characters are (and motivate people to see the upcoming solo films), drop some teasers, and have Superman return for some major action in the final act.
You can’t save the world alone, but you can judge the movie alone when you do finally get to see the finished product in theaters. If you do end up thinking the movie is disappointing, I'm betting your main reason won't be "it was too short."

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Batman v Superman: From disappointment to appreciation

2016: The year I spent way too much time thinking about BvS
Movies play a huge role in my life. I remember being afraid as I watched the first ant scene in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids when I was just four years old, and I remember the excitement of watching the Ninja Turtles take on the Foot Clan when I was six. Whether a film turns out to be a personal favorite or a disappointment, it has the potential to stick with you for the rest of your life. After all, you're dedicating around an hour and a half to two hours or so of your time to focus solely on a single story. It has your complete attention and you're investing time in it - not only the time you spend watching the movie, but often the countless hours you'll spend thinking about it afterwards. One of the worst things a movie can be is forgettable. Love or hate it, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is by no means forgettable. Now that we're in 2017, I want to share just how much my thoughts have evolved on one of 2016's biggest comic book movies.

Just like so many of you, several movies are on my "must-watch" list each and every year. In 2016, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was easily at the top of my list. I loved 2013's Man of Steel (how many people just stopped reading?), so you can imagine how thrilled I was when BvS was announced at 2013's San Diego Comic-Con. That means my interest in Batman v Superman was building for about three years before I saw it. That's a whole lot of time to speculate and generate more and more anticipation. 2014's SDCC brought about the first image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, as well as a brief teaser of Batman - in his iconic The Dark Knight Returns armor - having a stern staring contest with Superman. There was plenty to love from 2014's SDCC, but that was definitely my highlight, as well the highlight for many others out there.

Let's fast forward to 2015 - a huge year for promoting the second film in the DC Extended Universe. Due to a leak, the trailer was released a little early, and I was lucky enough to see it at the IMAX fan event, which included a few seconds of extra footage, two posters, and a ticket to see the movie for free in IMAX before it opened in theaters! Some time later, there was also another trailer that was full of fan service, like the first footage of Wonder Woman and Batman using his grappling gun - with a blink and you'll miss it nod to TDKR, too! I loved this trailer.

Later that year, Jimmy Kimmel Live debuted a new trailer - a trailer that would receive very mixed reactions, and understandably so. This is the trailer that included the first look at Doomsday (a villain who wasn't quite as fearsome looking as his comic book counter-part) and DC's Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) all standing on the same side, ready to take on the powerful enemy. Some people feel this took away from the weight of the conflict between Batman and Superman and ruined a surprise (Lex Luthor creates Doomsday). Given all of the rumors and amount of time we had to think about the film at that point, it just felt like it was confirming the obvious to me, so this didn't bother me one bit. In fact, it had the opposite effect on me. This trailer brought me so much joy. I couldn't believe I was seeing Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne taking verbal jabs at one another or the Trinity ready to face one of DC's most dangerous fiends. I was so excited that I ran into the bedroom - unaware that my wife was already asleep - and exclaimed something like "that trailer was so good!" It was a total fanboy moment, and I couldn't resist dropping an all caps tweet sharing just how much I loved it.

When 2016 rolled around, my expectations for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were absurdly high. With about three years of speculation, I pretty much had my own version of the movie playing in my head. I thought about how thrilling it would be to see Batman test Superman's limits, and how it would now deliver a more vocal and optimistic version of Superman after the events in Man of Steel. With Aquaman getting his own collectibles (the Funko POP is immediately to the left of my laptop as I write this), I was so certain that he'd make a jaw-dropping debut as the Trinity struggled to defeat Doomsday. I wanted a brutal Batman - one inspired by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley, and John Costanza's The Dark Knight Returns - but he still wouldn't cross the line. I even remember defending the film before it released - I was so certain that Batman wouldn't do anything that would take a life! When the Batwing gunned down those trucks full of criminals in the trailer, I was confident that Lex Luthor hacked into the Batwing and was using it to fuel Superman's actions against Batman. And with the guns on the front of the Batmobile, I remember reading somewhere that it fired non-lethal rounds. I recall telling people that Batman wouldn't kill, otherwise he'd just be the Punisher cosplaying as the Caped Crusader. 

I knew what I wanted from the film, and I brought all of that with me when I finally got to see the movie. My job (Midtown Comics' Marketing & Events Manager) comes with some great perks and I regularly collaborate with movie studios and marketing agencies to give fans in the NYC area some fun opportunities. For Batman v Superman, we gave some lucky fans the chance to attend the U.S. premiere of BvS at Radio City Music Hall, and I was able to attend with a few coworkers as well. This experience made me even more excited about watching the movie - this was my first time at the famous venue! Since you've read about my previous expectations for the movie, you can obviously tell by now that I was feeling pretty disappointed immediately after seeing Batman v Superman for the first time.

There were several things I really enjoyed - like the beautiful cinematography, witnessing Parademons on the big screen, Wonder Woman's cinematic debut, the costume designs, the warehouse fight, and Ben Affleck's performance - but that didn't matter to me right when I walked out of Radio City Music Hall. All I could think about was Batman taking lives whenever he was in one of his vehicles, and Superman's noticeable lack of dialogue. Both things were very disappointing to me and I couldn't get them off my mind. "Why'd they make Batman act like that whenever he's in a vehicle? He was really going to kill Superman by stabbing him in the chest?! And why didn't Superman talk more?! He barely tried to talk to Batman during their fight!" I was okay with the unexpected ending in Man of Steel, but now that the cinematic universe is a bigger place and has more surreal elements, I found myself thinking about how things should have been handled - or at least how I think they should have played out. I know live-action versions of Batman have killed before - especially Michael Keaton, which is the version I loved as a child and still do love - but why couldn't they show a darker, more violent Batman who still holds on to his code? Why couldn't Superman's actions in their fight prove to Batman that they should become allies?

I saw the movie a second time shortly afterwards (an IMAX screening). I went with a good friend (he liked it) and, before going in, I told myself that I'd watch with an open mind, unlike my first viewing. My first viewing was loaded with preconceived notions - no matter how scary he may be, Batman doesn't kill, and Superman is a friendly face who always inspires us. So, during my second viewing I did my best to let go of these thoughts and judge the film based on what it's trying to tell me instead of what I wanted from it. Obviously, I enjoyed it a lot more this time around. It didn't completely shake my disappointment over Batman taking lives and Superman's limited dialogue, but they bothered me less because with the initial shock cast aside, I better understood why things went that way.

With the initial disappointment out of the way, I could finally watch the movie with a clear mind. I better understood that Batman's pain and anger transformed him into the very thing he spent decades fighting against. It wasn't what I wanted, but it made sense and will likely solidify Batman's moral code as we move forward. He was so blinded by his hate that it took a reminder about the tragic loss of his parents to finally snap him out of it. The "Martha" scene isn't as simple as their moms having the same name - it's about taking him back to the very last thing his father said and how that drastically changed his life and set him on a path that was so very clear to him; however, he was no longer the Batman that he should be, which is likely how many fans - including myself - felt while watching the movie. Superman's sacrifice in the end (by the way, he can't give Diana the spear because she's holding Doomsday with the lasso, and wouldn't it be out of character from him to want someone else to risk their life?) blatantly makes Batman realize that he needs to change his ways.

I better understood that Superman wanted to help but faced a stunning amount of conflict as his mere existence led to the suffering of others - you can tell he wants to help as he smiles while saving a child from a fire. Can you really blame him for experiencing doubt, though? He tried to the do the right thing by meeting politicians, and in doing so, many lives were lost - this came after the world questioned whether he helps or hurts. However, his sacrifice reminded much of the world that he is on their side and a symbol of hope. This will likely give him more confidence as he returns in Justice League, which hopefully means he'll have more dialogue as he interacts with his fellow heroes. I also realized that Superman tried to talk it out with Batman but quickly realized there was no reasoning with the vigilante, so he tried to end the fight swiftly and then talk some sense into him - but, as you know, it quickly became a fight for survival once he inhaled some kryptonite.

The more and more I think about it, the more I believe that what I wanted would have been a very safe approach and not nearly as interesting. Entertaining? Absolutely, but I can't help but feel like it wouldn't have stuck with me nearly as much as Batman v Superman has. The comic book counter-parts of these iconic heroes have decades and decades of history, so I don't mind these brand new live-action incarnations being developed differently as long as they organically end up becoming more like the characters we expect them to, and I do believe that Batman v Superman's story accomplished that. In my opinion, I think Batman going after Superman - especially after the loss of a Robin - with so much hate in his heart is an organic conflict given the devastating event in Metropolis; it makes sense that someone like Superman would be so polarizing in the modern era, and that would absolutely make him wonder if he's making things better or worse.

Batman v Superman didn't give me the story I wanted, but it's one that I've come to appreciate more and more with every viewing, and the director's cut definitely enhances Superman's story - I strongly recommend it if you're willing to give the movie another chance. With this darker movie out of the way (which is fitting because it was loosely inspired by TDKR, after all), I'm feeling optimistic about 2017's DC movies, especially with Geoff Johns being so involved. Up next: Justice League and Wonder Woman! Happy New Year, everyone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Flash: The Complete First Season Blu-ray review

Season 2 of The CW's The Flash is about to begin, and the best way to prepare for all of the new episodes - aside from reading the comics, of course - is by watching the first season all over again. Many of us love the show, but is the collection worth the cost? The short and simple answer: yes! If you want the longer answer, read on!
"Now run, Barry. Run!"
There's a fair amount of special features, but to me, the highlight is easily the commentary provided for the pilot episode. Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg not only sound like they're having a legitimately good time reflecting on the creation of the first episode and series as a whole, but they also share a lot of very interesting facts; everything from things that were cut to stories from the set are talked about. It's too bad there's only one commentary track from the trio - I would have loved to hear them talk about the finale - but it's a great and informative addition nonetheless. 

It should go without saying that the gag reel is adorable and hilarious, right? Sometimes these things run the risk of feeling cheesy - especially when goofy music is attached - but fans of the show know just how much levity is thrown into each episode and how well the cast can pull it off. Watching some of the silliness and slip-ups that occurred on the set kept me smiling and it's funny stuff. If you love the show, this will bring you some happiness.
It's okay to admit you cried.
The show is loaded with visual effects (or is it?) and there's a detailed special feature that puts that department in the spotlight. Seeing as this is such a critical part of the show, the people behind the VFX get plenty of time to talk about their process and educate by showing how some of the memorable shots - like the train rescue! - were tackled. All in all, it's definitely worthy of your time.

The collection managed to land a solid interview with Mark Hamill, the actor who reprised his role as the villain the Trickster. While it isn't the longest feature around, it is an amusing one that's full of footage and discussion about the Flash show from the '90s. Also included are several deleted scenes, a San Diego Comic-Con 2014 presentation, a feature called "the fastest man alive!" which consists of a lot of recap and discussion about character motives, and a feature that delves into Grant Gustin's screen test and why it was so important for him to have noticeable chemistry with Arrow's Emily Bett Rickards.

My fellow The Flash fans, the special features totally warrant watching. However, it would have been great to see one or two more insightful features. Something dedicated to just the Rogues or the excellent supporting cast has a lot of potential. An elaborate look at Reverse-Flash or even the show's countless easter eggs would have also been appreciated. Still, there's a lot to enjoy.
Pun 1 and Pun 2.
Obviously, the entire season is worth watching all over again. Sure, it has its noticeable flaws - like some villains lacking depth or major fluctuation of Barry's powers and how he acts in fights - but the criticism I have about the show is vastly overshadowed by all of the things I love so much about it. Several live-action comic book shows need some time before really finding out what works for them. For The Flash, it knew what it wanted to accomplish right from the pilot.

It's a show that can make you cry, laugh, and smile during the course of a single episode. It's never too dark, but it's never too silly, either. It's found a balance that works so well as it unleashes the perfect dose of character and comic book fun. The performances across the board are terrific (Jesse L. Martin deserves an unlimited amount of praise) and that makes these characters simply feel so much more human... and in Barry's case, metahuman. Sorry, that bad joke was just too tempting. The Flash gets you to care about its cast, totally embraces the source material (there's a telepathic gorilla AND time travel in the FIRST season; let that sink in!), and it always makes sure you're entertained.
Grant "Game Face" Gustin.
Did you also love the first season of The Flash? If so, buy this Blu-ray. It's really that simple, people. If there's no room in your budget, ask for it as a gift - the holidays are coming up, after all, I firmly believe that The Flash has one of the best debuts out of any live-action comic book series, and overall, it managed to keep doing what it does best throughout the entire season. Yeah, not every episode will blow you away, but each one is pretty much guaranteed to make you cheer, crack up, or even cry at some point. There's excellent worldbuilding throughout, the cast nails it every time, and there's just so much super-powered action and engaging drama. The show knows how to keep you emotionally invested and never lets go. The Flash had a great first season and it absolutely deserves a spot in your collection. By the time season 2 ends, I know I'm going to want to watch these episodes all over again.