Quick Review – Injustice: Gods Among Us (by NetherRealm Studios)


On my way home recently, I saw a subway poster for Injustice: Gods Among Us, depicting DC Comics characters The Joker really to take a crowbar to the Green Lantern. That seemed interesting, but when I found out that it was a fighting game, I didn’t expect much. Most of the fighting games I’ve played will just toss a number of characters together and have them fight without any real reason to do so. The only game of recent memory to do anything different was Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where you eventually found yourself doing battle with Galactus, but even then, getting to that point was merely a set of random battles from Point A to Point C. After finding out that Ed Boon, creator of Mortal Kombat was involved, I had a feeling the fighting would be good but still empty.

Injustice’s single player game is done in such a way that it gives every character (24 in all, half heroes / half villains) a chance to shine or fall. I haven’t gone all the way through it, but each chapter of the game focuses on a particular hero and the events in that have him or her confronting an enemy to further push the narrative. While I’m not familiar with the story behind it (I’ve always been more of a Marvel than DC fan), it’s compelling enough that I at least want to know what happens next.

The story starts with the full on destruction of Metropolis at the hands of The Joker. As Batman interrogates him, Superman intervenes and we come to find that The Joker somehow manipulated him into killing Lois Lane and his unborn son. The result of this knowledge causes the scene to end in a way that reflects some of the darker tones of the Warner Animated movies like Batman: Under the Red Hood. It shifts to an alternate universe story where – from what I tell – Superman is the ruler of the world with some of the heroes siding with him and becoming your enemies. Can he be defeated? Only crazy button mashing and timing will tell.

As fighting games go, the mechanics to Injustice are very simple. Rooted in the Mortal Kombat style of fighting, you have your basics. Back lets you block anything coming at you high or from the air. Down blocks low sweeps and kicks. Using the diamond formation of console buttons, your light attacks from the 360’s X button / PS3s Square button. Medium Attacks are the 360s Y button / PS3’s Triangle and Heavy comes from the A button / X on the PS3. It’s a good layout that helps the battle flow fast. Combos are also very easy to execute, most of them being of the quick left, right, button press or down, forward button variety. The B button / Circle acts as a special character feature. I thought this was really cool in that every character has either an ability that can be enhanced – Green Lantern charges his ring, Aquaman creates a water shield or Superman uses the Sun to make him stronger. For those were are less than meta, their gadgets / weapons change. Batman brings in a swarm of mini bats, Nightwing’s escrimas fuse together to form a staff and Wonder Woman switches from her lasso to her sword & shield.

InJustice also uses a meter system similar to Street Fighter IV. As you get hurt or string attacks, this meter will fill up in stages. You can use a stage to pull off more advanced moves or if you allow it max out, you can unleash a Signature Move. Some of them are very cool – Both Superman and The Flash have one that I love to do – while others – like Green Lantern’s and The Joker are smile inducing. These are fun, but it would have been nice to maybe incorporate 2 different ones per character. That’s just me.

The backgrounds are used very well in Injustice. If you happen to be near an object that can be used – say a car that’s parked in front of Wayne Manor, a quick bumper button tap lets you smack your opponent with it or throw it at them. Other stages have multiple levels that let you take the battle high or low and damage your enemy in the process. From the street of Gotham City, I sent Solomon Grundy into a chemical truck that exploded, and sent him flying upwards, bouncing off of various apartments until he landed on the roof of a building. That was downright awesome, and strung together with the right combo just adds to the feeling that you’re working with some pretty powerful characters. I haven’t smiled like that since some of my little brother’s Dragonball Z games. Other locations include the Hall of Justice, The Batcave, Atlantis, Themyscira, Arkham Asylum and The Fortress of Solitude. Some of the other locations have multiple levels that be accessed.

And that power can easily be abused, especially when the game goes online. As previously mentioned, the players are divided between those with superpowered abilities (Shazam, Superman, Green Lantern) and the weapons based fighters. I gave the online game a try, which has a number of different modes. While the one on one battles are nice, I liked the Survivor Mode that puts a player as the one everyone needs to dethrone. What’s sweet here is that you can alternate from a theatre mode that lets you watch two people fight or switch over to the current list of people who have waiting to take on the winner. The reigning champ only has so much health to work with from game to game, and I watched one fellow using Black Adam keep everyone at bay with distance shots.  Another used Superman and just kept lasering the opponent. It has room for some cheezy moves, but that’s common with just about any fighter, I think. My Nightwing couldn’t even get close. Then again, I’m not the best fighter in the ring. Every fight you have, whether it’s offline or online gives you some sort of XP, which can be used to unlock and use new Portrait Cards, alternate costumes and backgrounds for your Badge (made popular by Call of Duty).

In terms of problems, the only complaint I have about Injustice is that I hoped there would have been more tailoring to the relationships between the characters. Other than that, the game’s just grand. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 had this system where depending on who you chose and who you were up against, you would get some banter that was character specific. For example, if your tag team of 3 in that game were made up of Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, you’d have an opponent recognize that group as the Avengers. If X-23 faced off against Wolverine, she’d ask him who really was the best at what they do. Injustice does this to a small degree, only happening when you perform a Wager match in a round. Wager matches allow you to bet some of your Meter Power. This results in a scene where the players throw a line at each other before charging at full speed. Whoever wins gains some health. The loser has the opponent’s meter level match his or her damage. Sometimes it works out, other times, it’s just alright. I wanted more of that. My favorite so far is the Nightwing / Joker interaction:

Joker: “I liked you better as Robin.”  / Nightwing: “I liked you better in Arkham.”

Overall, Injustice: Gods Among Us is a great game to play if you’re in either into fighting games or are a fan of the DC Universe. I’m curious as to what the downloadable content is going to contain.

Arleigh’s 10 Worst Films of 2011

I’ve been pretty good at avoiding fillms that I knew was going to be awful before I even stepped into the theater so certain films from 2011 that everyone call the worst I probably won’t have on my list since I never saw them. So, such films as Jack & Jill, Bucky Larson and Zookeeper will not make my list since I was smart enough to not pay to watch it.

This ten worst list of 2011 are from films I did see during the year whether in a theater or on video. I couldn’t decide which film was worse than the next so this order doesn’t really determine which was worst. It’s just my way of keeping things organized.

  1. Shark Night 3D – I had high hopes that this film would be 2011’s version of Piranha 3D in that it would be silly, goofy and over-the-top and knew it. Instead it’s tame with it’s PG-13 rating (seriously a film about Sharks eating college kids in 3D gets a PG-13 treatment) and has none of the joie de vivre that Piranha 3D had or the bugnuts craziness that Drive Angry 3D threw at you.
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – With a cast that looked to be better than the Orlando Bloom/Keira Knightley one of the original trilogy I thought this new beginning for Capt. Jack Sparrow would breathe new life to the trilogy, but instead we get one of the worst entries in the franchise (that’s saying a lot) and one that ended up wasting the talents of Ian McShane in the role of Blackbeard.
  3. Season of the Witch: I never saw it in the theater after I read Lisa Marie’s review of it. So, I waited until it arrived on Netflix and took a chance that maybe it wasn’t as awful as she said it was. I think she was being kind with her review. This film was awful in it’s awfulness that I couldn’t even enjoy just how bad it was.
  4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon – When I first saw this film I enjoyed enough of the action when it was robot vs robot so all the human interaction part never registered, but as I saw it again on blu-ray I realized just how awful this third entry in the Michael Bay franchise was in a franchise that should’ve been fool-proof. I mean it’s giant robots that transform fighting other similar robots. I think if Shia LeBouf was replaced by someone like Jason Statham I would’ve enjoyed this film more, but Shia’s whining and screeching took away any enjoyment I had from seeing robots fighting.
  5. Cowboys & Aliens – Another film that had a premise tailor-made for the summer blockbuster season with a cast that had Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde (Mmmmm), Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, etc…not to mention Jon Favreau in the director’s chair. I thought that Favreau may have been railroaded and made a scapegoat for some of the failures of Iron Man 2 in 2010, but seeing what he ended up doing with this film made me rethink that maybe Marvel Studios was smart to cut him loose and bring in someone else.
  6. Green Lantern – DC Studios…Geoff Johns…one of the Justice Leaguers. One would think that was recipe for one kick-ass space opera that would rekindle the fun that are superheroes the way Iron Man did in 2008. Instead what we ended up getting was one of the worst superhero films ever made which made Hal Jordan an emo character fighting against a villain who wasn’t terrifying and a cosmic evil that made the Lost smoke monster look horrific in turn. Fuck you DC and Johns for ruining what could’ve been a great franchise.
  7. Arthur – I’m a child of the 80’s so I remember the original Dudley Moore version, but I was willing to give this one a chance. I shouldn’t have and any goodwill Russell Brand got from me with his performance from Get Him to the Greek vanished with this film.
  8. Apollo 18 – Moon rocks with legs!! Nuff said.
  9. Dream House – Another film that I thought was interesting enough to take a chance on despite the trailer pretty much ruining the twist in the story, but I thought it would have an interesting path getting to that twist. Daniel Craig may need to just stick to being James Bond, because he was almost like a cardboard in this film and the rest of the cast weren’t far behind. I never thought Jim Sheridan would ever make a bad film. I guess I was right. He didn’t make a bad film. He made a horrendously awful film.
  10. Priest – This was another film that could’ve been fun fluff or even an entertaining bad film, but it wasn’t either of those. This was directed by Scott Stewart who did the abysmal Legion from 2010. I thought maybe he would do better a second time around adapting a popular Korean manwha title, but I guess the saying is true: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I’m sure I left out a few other titles that ohters think should be on this list, but those probably I actually enjoyed or weren’t bad enough to bump any of these ten from my list. This list is pretty much almost a full day of my life wasted and me not able to get a refund. It’s near to 24-hours of awful that took a full day off of my lifespan. Ten films which could be the death of me down the line.

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Green Lantern (dir. by Martin Campbell)

So, earlier tonight, I was sitting in a dark theater watching the latest super hero film, Green Lantern.  Now, Green Lantern is getting some terrible reviews right now and having seen it, I can understand why.  That said, Green Lantern is not an offensively terrible movie in the way that Priest, The Beaver, or The Conspirator were terrible films.  Instead, Green Lantern’s main problem is that it’s just so freaking forgettable.  To be honest, I found myself forgetting about it while I was watching it.  So, this isn’t going to be an easy review to write.

(This is also why this is a quickie review.  I mean, I’ll make some noise for a few minutes and I’ll try to come up with something halfway neat for the end of it but don’t ask me if I really felt anything.)

Since I realized I was forgetting about the movie even as I was watching it, I decided to use social media to help me out.  Blatantly ignoring the rules (but that’s why you love me, baby), I spent most of the film texting and tweeting.  I’m pretty sure I heard the people sitting behind me whining about it but who cares?  I did what I had to do.

Anyway, checking my texts, I find the following conversation:

Text from LMB (that’s me) to ENB (that’s my sister, Erin): Hey bitch where you at?

ENB to LMB: WTF, bitch?  I’m sitting next to you in the theater.

LMB to ENB: Hi, Erin!  lol. : )

Okay, so that’s not much help but it does tell you just how engaging this film is.  I had the choice of either watching Green Lantern or sending text messages to my sister who was sitting right next to me and I chose to send text messages.

I also resorted to posting a few cryptic messages to twitter, with the hope that they would serve to remind  me of what I was watching.  Here they are:

Tweet #1: About to see Green Lantern. : ) — See, I didn’t start this film out with a bad attitude.  I was looking forward to it.

Tweet #2: Old ppl always take forever buying tickets — What’s up with that?  I would think they would be in a hurry seeing as how they’ve got less time to see a movie than I do.  Just saying.

Tweet #3: We need a super hero named Red Herring — I sent this tweet just 15 minutes into the film but it shows that I had already picked up on the main problem with this film.  There’s a lot going on but it all feels like it’s just been spit out by some script-o-matic sitting hidden behind the Hollywood sign.  It just doesn’t ever really add up to anything beyond a sinking feeling of been there, done that. 

Ryan Reynolds is haunted by flashbacks of his father dying.  Why?  Because Scriptwriting 101 says that the hero has to have some sort of self-doubt to overcome. 

When we first see Ryan Reynolds, he’s lying in bed with a naked blonde.  Who is she?  What happens to her?  Why does Reynolds, at no other point in the film, seem to be the type who would have a one night stand with some anonymous blonde?

Reynolds joins the Green Lantern Corp. when he gets a glowing green ring.  All the other members of the Corp. doubt him because he’s human but then they say that the ring never makes a mistake.  Okay, so if the ring is incapable of making a mistake and the ring chose Reynolds than why is everyone so convinced that Reynolds can’t cut it as the Green Lantern?

Seriously, it’s as if someone just wrote out a list of plot points and some anonymous script doctor just went down the list, checking off everything as he tossed it into the mix.

Plus, I think Red Herring would be a cool super hero.  He could have the power of creating mass distraction and he could be the sidekick of my super heroine alter ego, Lady Verbose.

Tweet #4: Lol, cockpit is a funny word — I believe the exact line that inspired this tweet was something like: “And I still get into a cockpit occasionally.”  It just made me laugh because cockpit is a funny word, largely because it’s a combination of cock and pit.  Anyway, that is honestly the only line of dialogue that I actually remember from the film.  As action and comic book movies tend to live and die on the basis of the quotable one-liner, that’s not a good sign.

Tweet #5: Green Lantern kinda bleh but Ryan Reynolds is mancandy — And you know what?  He is.  Green Lantern may have been forgettable but Ryan Reynolds made a likable hero and he brought some much-needed humor to the role.  To be honest, as I look back at the various Green super hero movies, I can’t help but wonder how much better Green Hornet would have been if it had starred Ryan Reynolds as opposed to Seth Rogen.  (I love you, Seth, but the super hero thing just isn’t for you.)

Also, Peter Sarsgaard did a pretty good job playing a surprisingly sympathetic villain.  Both he and Reynolds deserved a better film. 

Other than Sarsgaard and Reynolds, the cast was pretty forgettable but then again, it’s not like they really had much to work with.  I have to be honest, though, that I am now officially bored with Tim Robbins.  He shows up here playing yet another insensitive rich white guy.  As usual, you don’t really buy him as the character because he’s just too obviously Tim Robbins.

Tweet 6: Lets not go to Camelot. Its a silly place. — I think this was inspired by all the scenes that were set on the home planet of the Green Lantern Corps.  (That’s the group that Reynolds becomes a member of.)  These scenes were obviously meant to inspire awe but they just felt silly.  In the film’s defense, some of the special effects — particularly the evil entity known as Parallax — are impressive but, for almost every impressive special effect, there was another that just fell flat (which is never a good thing for a 3-D film).

Tweet #7: Sinestro is a silly name. — Sinestro, played by Mark Strong, is the leader of the Green Lantern Corp.  And Sinestro is a really silly name.

Tweet #8: Why not just call him Eviltro? — Well, why not?

Poll: Which Films Are You Looking Forward To In June and July?

Rapidly we are approaching the half-way mark of 2011.  This is the time of year that the studios start to roll out their big “event” movies along with the occasional “prestige” film.  In short, this is the time that, for many (thought not for me), the year in film truly begins.

So, I’m curious — what films are you most interested in and excited about seeing in June and July? To help answer that question, I’ve created two polls which you can find below.  You can vote for up to four films for each month and write-in votes are accepted. Voting will be open on both polls until July 1st.

Trailer: Green Lantern (2nd Official Trailer)

The WonderCon 2011 exclusive trailer and footage was a major step in creating major buzz and hype for Warner Brothers’ and DC Entertainment upcoming superhero film Green Lantern. With just a little over a month left before the film premieres the second (most likely the final trailer for the film) trailer has been released and whatever doubts early marketing and ads the film seemed to give rise to have gone away with this final release.

Green Lantern is sort of the Iron Man of the DC Comics pantheon in that he’s one of the more powerful characters in that universe, but he never got to the level of iconic status as Superman and Batman. There’s a reason why the only DC comic characters to have sustained any sort of film franchise have been Superman and Batman. The Green Lantern character was never about fighting evil on Earth. His fight was always on a much more cosmic-scale and this trailer shows that the danger in the Green Lantern is cosmic in scale even. The last superhero to attempt such a concept story-wise was the Fantastic Four sequel with Silver Surfer and Galactus. That didn’t turn out as well as many hoped it would. Here’s to hoping that Green Lantern will succeed where the Fantastic Four sequel failed.

Green Lantern is set for a June 17, 2011 release. It will come out in both 2D and 3D (RealD and IMAX 3D).

Green Lantern: WonderCon Exclusive Footage

I posted just recently that Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment had been dropping the ball when it came to promoting their upcoming superhero action-adventure film slated for this summer blockbuster season. Green Lantern had its first teaser released around November of 2010 and the reception to that trailer was lukewarm at best and dismissal of the film at it’s most vocal.

It’s been almost 4 months since that disastrous attempt at promoting what would be Warner Brothers’ biggest film of the 2011. It looks like Warner Brothers and those in charge of promoting their films may have just learned a valuable lesson in releasing promotion materials when footage needed to spice it up for the target audience is not ready.

WonderCon 2011 at San Francisco has become Green Lantern central as the studios in charge of the film have released not just a kickass official theatrical poster for the film, but a 9-minute sizzle reel for those lucky enough to get a seat in the film’s panel at the Esplanade Ballroom at Moscone Center South. For those who weren’t able to see that 9-min footage the people at Warner Brothers have been gracious enough to release an abridged 4min and 3 second version into the interwebs for everyone to witness.

Even just looking at this abridged version of the WonderCon-exclusive footage has helped in dispelling much of my apprehension towards the success and workability of this film as a live-action blockbuster. The footage goes a long way in setting the tone of the film. Green Lantern has always been part of the cosmic tapestry of the overall DC Universe and the filmmakers seem to have found a way to show that epic cosmic side of the character and do it without making it look cheesy (though some of the CGI effects on the non-human members of the Green Lantern Corps could still use much tuning up).

Except for the part where Jordan is trying to figure out the Green Lantern oath in his living room the footage seems very serious in tone with little comedic beats like the teaser. I would hope that the film does have some comedic beats to it since this is Ryan Reynolds and early Hal Jordan wasn’t always the serious, gloomy gus he turned out later on in his Green Lantern run.

Green Lantern is slated for a June 17, 2011 release.

Green Lantern Poster (WonderCon Exclusive)

DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers have been criticized these last few months for their handling of the ad/media blitz for their upcoming summer tentpole film: Green Lantern.

People have been quite underwhelmed with the teaser trailer shown a couple months ago then with releases of concept art for the film. It’s true that the character of Green Lantern is not as iconic as Batman or Superman, but who are outside of Spider-Man and the X-Men. Still it’s been quite perplexing how little hype Warner Brothers has been working on giving this film (starring Ryan Reynolds in the role of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern). One would think that both WB and DC Entertainment would make a massive push for this film not just to try and set it up as another DC film franchise the way Marvel has been creating their very own film universe with their properties.

One thing that may be a sign that Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment are ready to unleash a major advert and media blitz for Green Lantern is the panel at this year’s WonderCon at San Francisco where the cast were available for roundtables and a con exclusive poster of the film was released. The poster will be one of the few things from WonderCon that non-attendees will be able to see and examine.

The poster goes a long way in helping dispel my feelings about this film. While I still haven’t fully bought into this project I do get a sense of the cosmic nature of this film which other superhero films of the past decade haven’t been able to convey. If WB and DC are able to build on the positives that this new poster is giving this film then maybe Green Lantern may just become a must-see for this summer.

Green Lantern is set for a July17, 2011 release date.

Green Lantern Official Trailer

DC has always had the Batman franchise as it’s standard bearer when it came to its many properties adapted to the big-screen. In the past one could add the Superman franchise as well, but a return (no pun intended) to that franchise a couple years ago didn’t pan out too well.

Marvel Studios (film division of Marvel Comics) has had a better track record in the past decade in adapting its own franchise characters, both top tier and supporting, to the big-screen. Some of these adaptation have been through other studios like Sony, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Universal who licensed the characters for film. In the last 3-4 year Marvel has made the decision to adapt their characters themselves to better rake in the profits. This has led to successes and a subsequent purchase of the company as a whole by giant entertainment conglomerate Disney. With Disney’s Scrooge McDuck money bin to help finance further Marvel properties to the big-screen DC and it’s parent company Time-Warner had to respond with something other than Nolan’s Batman franchise.

What DC has decided to answer with first is the live-action adaptation of the iconic DC character Hal Jordan and his Green Lantern persona. The film has veteran action filmmaker Martin Campbell behind the director’s chair with Ryan Reynolds in the title role. The film has finally released it’s first official trailer and the film is set for a Summer 2011 release. A summer that’s becoming more and more crowded with superhero tentpole films not to mention the 800-lb gorilla waiting in the wings to beat everyone senseless: Warner Brother’s final Harry Potter film.

The trailer for Green Lantern just gives enough of a taste about what the film is about but despite some intergalactic scenes was still quite bare in terms of what the story will be about beyond it being an origin tale. Here’s to hoping the next trailer gives a bit more with a much more refined and polished fx work.