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The Batman: My broody Valentine

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When a masked madman who calls himself the Riddler begins murdering high-profile figures in Gotham City, the vigilante with the tenuous cop relationship known as the Batman has to step out from the shadows to stop him!

The first thing to be aware of, of course, this incarnation of Batman isn’t a prequel or sequel to any of the previous Batmans, but rather a stand-alone based in its own Bat-verse, where our beloved hero is already neck-deep in things.

When the movie begins, Bats has been in the service as Gotham’s villain scourge for more than two years and has managed to form an established repertoire with Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). Most of Gordon’s fellow cops balk at the idea of Bats being brought actually into the investigations of high-profile murders and some do voice their opinions, yet not a single one of them will gainsay Gordon when he puts his foot down about the shadowy presence wrapped in Kevlar over his shoulder, which he does vociferously and often. In fact, the working and even personal relationship between Lieutenant Gordon and Batman are one of the best storylines running throughout the film.

One thing that the continuing adventures of Batman in all his various shapes and colors have a tendency to gloss over is that way back at the beginning when Bob Kane and pals were making our caped crusader, Bats was supposed to be the world’s greatest detective. And the police, regardless of their annoyance at his track record far out-classing theirs and Batmans’ continual flouting of The Law, have to acknowledge that his tech and smarts usually goes far beyond whatever the cops can come up with, so grudgingly at least some of them work with him. Because while you might sneer at the costume, the brains of the man underneath it are what matters – what you see is far from all that’s actually there.

Also another continuing theme throughout this new Batman film, the forced perspective for the literal way we the audience see and perceive things, often makes us feel like we too are standing at Batman’s shoulder as he prepares, yet again, to face down a fresh wave of bad guys. Filmed in a very similar style to Villeneuve’s Dune, is all about close-ups on the faces and the action sequences, close almost to found footage shots but in a very polished kind of way, the movie does a great job of making us feel as though we’re about to be washed away in a wave too!

So, the Mayor has been murdered, and a devilish riddle clue has been left behind, specifically for Batman. As was inevitable here in Sodom and Gotham, the Mayor seemed to be involved in some real shady sh*t, and it potentially extends to the main mob families of the city, Maroni, and Falcone (John Turturro), along with reaching consequences into the police and the courts themselves. As Bats begins combing the underworld clubs for clues and informants, he makes the acquaintance of a very light on her feet thief with a penchant for cats and strays, Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz), and the supposed proprietor of the more secret watering spots of the rich and secretive, generally called Penguin (Colin Farrell) but he also introduces himself as, “Oz!”

And who is this badly masked psycho who keeps leaving cutesy riddle cards, especially for Batman, and videos where he scream-rants about the corruption of Gotham city? How is he related to the Waynes, how does he know about the festering rot at the heart of Gotham, and what is the culmination of his grand plan? He wants to show people the truth, of course. Score another for the visual insistence of the film – the Riddler (Paul Dano) desperately wants you, all of you, to see the truth, and hopefully understand.

The Batman introduces a brand new Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), considerably younger, much gruffer and warrior-like, still and always an avid supporter of the Wayne family, but also a considerably less take-any-shit version. The push-and-pull dynamic between Bruce Wayne and his Alfred, the father-son dynamic denial and yet in the same instance a desperate need for love and forgiveness, is beautifully but sadly briefly rendered here.

Little attention is paid to the fact that underneath all that chiseled armor is a human in pain, the film focuses primarily on Bruce’s role as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), only touching on his role as a Wayne in a legacy aspect. This new rendition of our beloved Bats is young, and oh so angry, and brooding everywhere, which is exactly as it should be. Given the timeline we’ve come to accept for Batman’s life and legacy and where The Batman film is located within it, Pattinson’s performance is dark and rugged and at times painful to watch, and perfect within it. From the black camouflage smears he never seems to remember to remove, to the way he snarls at Alfred and then cringes for it later, to the way he trembles convincingly, in rage, or sheer frustration, to the blatant and boxed-up desire for Catwoman, every emotion this Bats goes through, we see and often feel it all with him. His heavy-treaded stalk out of the shadows that strikes fear in the heart of the bad guys, the seriously badass way he just mows down villain after villain, all that high tech gadgetry (including, inevitably, fancy camera eyes, reinforcing that whole “see as I do” ascetic) and a new Batmobile that I’m pretty sure has a jet engine stuffed into it, all combine to give us a brand new Batman worthy of dark adoration.

Amidst the many feature films, cartoon romps, comic books, graphic novels and eternal Batman fandom, it’s very difficult to make an entire Batman movie that’s your own, apart from any other in style and scope. Director Matt Reeves, along with a stellar cast and a particular vision, accomplished this in a truly unique, visually stunning way, and every single last Batman fan, old or new or somewhere in between, should see The Batman in theaters now!

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Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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