A Review of the First Two Episodes Of Syfy’s Superman Prequel SeriesRead More
Adaptations are hard. Change too much and you'll only be pissing off fans of whatever it is that you are adapting. Change too little and those same fans will wonder what the point of making a new adaptation was at all; if all that the new version accomplishes is to retell the original story, why not just watch the original?I only bring up the inherent challenges that come with adapting an existing property as a way to be kind to the people behind the 2017 adaption of the hit anime/manga "Death Note". It seemed only fair that if I was going to write a review about how this movie is an absolutely irredeemable garbage fire of a Death Note adaptation, that I should at least start the review by acknowledging that this film was in a bit of a no win situation from the moment that it was announced. They could either stay incredibly close to the source material and have people complain that nothing was different, or change a lot and have people complain about all of the changes. The filmmakers definitely decided to go with the latter choice, but stopped short of creating a new story and characters. The result feels like a greatest hits version of the anime that is playing over an 80s teen movie.This disconnect is apparent almost immediately as we are introduced to our protagonist, Light Turner. The filmmakers chose to change his last name from Yagami to something decidedly less Japanese, which makes sense given the different setting of the film. Yet they chose to keep the name Light. Again, this is understandable as Light is an iconic character. The odd part to me is that the uniqueness of his name is never commented on or justified in the movie. (There is an offhand comment about how Light's mom was a hippy, which is maybe meant to justify it, but I digress) Even in the anime, characters frequently comment on what a strange and unique name it is. It also serves as a contrast to Light's dark motives and cold demeanour. But Light Turner is just a regular guy. The name serves no purpose besides reminding us of a better version of the same story. It feels like the film just took the hero of a generic teen horror movie and slapped the name Light on him.I feel like I could go character by character through this movie and try to explain why each one bothered me, but in an attempt to keep this under 2000 words I'll try to focus on what I see as the big underlying problem: the movie completely misses the essence of what Death Note is. Death Note the anime/manga is the story of a bored kid who decides to become a monster in an attempt to save the world. Light Yagami is not tricked or tempted into using the Death Note. He doesn't use it for personal gain or to pick up girls. He finds a powerful tool and decides to use it in the most efficient and positive way that he can think of. He is so driven that he has already started his crusade against criminals before Ryuk even comes to pay him a busy.Light Turner on the other hand is your standard anti-hero. Whereas Light Yagami is the squeaky clean golden boy of his school, Light Turner is a sullen loner who sells homework and test answers. Turner has a sympathetic backstory about a mother that was killed by a famous mobster. None of these are inherently bad things, but they make it so Light Turner is a fundamentally different character than Light Yagami.The movie feels like it was made by committee, a committee which never decided if it wanted to try something new or do something they knew the fans would like. There's a weird disconnect as they fundamentally change the rules of the Death Note and the personalities of all the characters involved, but they still frequently reference the iconic moments and images from the original series. This juxtaposition is summed up perfectly in an early scene where Light has his girlfriend Mia touch the Death Note, assuming that she will then be able to see Ryuk. He is shocked when this ends up not being the case, and I was too as touching the Death Note and seeing Death Gods played a pretty major role in the anime.Moments like this left me confused about the intentions of the filmmakers. Where they giving a nod to the fans by having Light assume the original rules where in effect? Did they really think the fans would like that? Or was the movie just written by people who had little to no knowledge of the source material? Things like the changes to Light's backstory, changes to the characterization of Ryuk, and the entire relationship between Light and L left me similarly confused. It seemed tough to see it as anything but a massive misstep at best and a giant middle finger to Death Note fans at the worst.Definitely worth getting drunk and watching this though. It moves quickly and has lots of over the top moments.
Warning: Potential Spoilers for Justice League
Peter Sciretta, at slashfilm, is reporting that the reshoots that are currently underway for the Justice League film, includes an entirely new ending for the film. This news comes fast on the heels of the revelations that the reshoots will lighten the tone of the film as well as addressing problems with the character of Cyborg (presumably a lack of him saying booyah).
The specifics regarding the changes to the ending are as follows: in Zack Snyder's original version the movie would have ended on a cliffhanger, as Darkseid would have shown up at the end of the movie. Apparently Joss Whedon, after taking over the project due to the tragic death of Zack Snyder's daughter, decided to scrap the cliffhanger and focus on Steppenwolf, Darkseid's General and uncle, instead. Sciretta also reports that flashback scenes featuring Robin Wright's Antiope have been added to feature Steppenwolf more prominently as the main villain.
In general, this new ending sounds like a better idea to me. Thanos showing up at the end of the original Avengers movie was more of a tease of things to come than a direct sequel hook, and the Marvel movies had generated way more goodwill by that point than the DC films have now. Considering many people already saw Batman v. Superman as a commercial for upcoming DC films as opposed to a movie in its own right, it seems like an odd choice to make Justice League feel like half of a movie. Shifting the focus to Steppenwolf seems like it will make the movie feel a bit more standalone and still allows for plenty of teases towards Darkseid and the New Gods.
In a larger sense, this story (if true) shows the shifting balance of power between Geoff Johns and Zack Snyder. Johns has been DC's goto guy when it comes to the comics side of things and he is the guy that has been tasked with course correcting the movies after the poor critical reception of what has been released so far. The word on the street is that dark and gloomy is out and optimistic and fun is in. The critical and financial success of Wonder Woman has apparently reinforced these ideas, and again I personally feel that it's generally for the best.
I feel like Zack Snyder is a very sincere guy who tries his hardest, but I ultimately think that he has a very surface level understanding about what makes the DC characters popular. He only cares about action scenes and the costumes, and prefers to radically reinterpret characters as opposed to trying to capture the key characteristics that people like about them. The fact that he thought Batman fans would be fine with him casually murdering people alone shows that there is a disconnect between Zack and the DC fan.
My big question after reading this: is Justice League going to be done for a November release if all of this is true? Redoing an entire ending seems a little tougher than adding dialogue or an action scene, especially since Steppenwolf is a entirely CG character. Only time will tell.
Hey guys, just a quick little apology for all our visitors. We have been a bit remiss with our posts lately, sadly our real jobs have taken precedence over the past little while. But it's not all bad news, as we would all like to congratulate one of our founding members Zach on getting married this week to his lovely wife Shannon! Always nice to have the family be a little bit bigger! That being said, I'll do everything I can to update the website weekly with movie reviews and things. I am also going to try and start a little mini podcast to talk about my favourite 25 movies of all time, I just need to flesh out which movies I want on there and I'll be good to go with it! Thanks for understanding guys. Patrick
Major news this week, as nerd supreme Joss Whedon has stepped in to finish the long awaited Justice League film. My intention for this post is to clear up the specifics of the situation as well as sharing some of my random thoughts and feelings.For starters, I would like to clarify that Zack Snyder was not fired or otherwise removed. He and his wife Deborah have very recently lost their daughter and made the choice on their own to step away from the project. This is worth noting because it helps give us an idea of what exactly Joss is going to be doing on the movie. If Zack had been fired, it would seem likely to me that the studio was at least somewhat unhappy with the film and that Joss was being brought in to fix the film. But since this was not the case it seems likely that Joss has been brought in mainly to carry the movie over the finish line, rather than making big changes. The fact that the film still has a November release would seem to support this theory, as Joss can't be doing much more than post-production at this point. There is still time for the film to be pushed back; but with the already shaky state of DC films, I have to imagine that Warner Brothers isn't anxious to pursue that option.Whether Joss is making big changes or simply completing Zack's vision, the fact that he took the job at all shows that he is perhaps more invested in the overall DC Universe than the original Batgirl announcement lead me to believe. I had initially viewed Joss doing Batgirl as being similar to James Gunn doing Guardians of the Galaxy; someone who makes some of the best films in their respective cinematic universe but stays largely separate from the larger films. I definitely did not expect Joss to fill the same role he filled at Marvel: the Fixer. Joss essentially planned out everything from Avengers 1 to Age of Ultron and was actually the one who came up with the idea of Thanos being the final boss of the MCU. Depending on who you ask, he also did a decent amount of work "saving" Thor 2 (though the extent to which it was saved is up for debate). Obviously, these experiences make Joss the perfect candidate to finish a big budget superhero movie,as he's one of the few people in the world with experience doing so. On the other hand, I'm surprised the he is so willing to jump back into the big-budget A-list world in such a big way.If I had to guess why Joss took this job, I'd give two reasons:1. It's very low risk. Joss is only going to be working on this movie for 4 months or so and it is still going to be seen as a Zack Snyder film. If it's good, people will praise Joss for fixing it and if it's bad people will say there was no way he could have saved it anyways.2. The dump truck full of money that I'm sure Warner Bro's dropped at his house.Ta ta for now!