Thursday, August 1, 2013

Flash Point Paradox Animated DVD from DC comics… Review & Critique (Possible spoilers)

Tracie and Robb have both watched the newest DC Animated Movie, the FlashPoint Paradox. Keep reading to see their thoughts. And guess what? They disagreed!! Their review is below.
ROBB____  First, I think they did a wonderful job of cleaning up what was a very dense and wide spanning Universal story. I feel like they left the important things and threw in enough little Easter eggs to keep the fans happy and still allowed the story to be focused and exciting. So far this is my favorite adaptation of a DC story into animated form. And the best part, I didn’t care that much for Flashpoint when it came out in comics. In illustrated form there were bits and pieces I liked, but as a whole, Flash point was confusing and sometimes hard to follow. This movie shaved it down to the most important elements, added just enough to have it make sense as a standalone story and made Barry Allen/Flash a true leading character. What a fun ride of a movie!!!

They nailed Batman. Thomas Wayne was dark and creepy and tormented and they still had awesome flashes of how his wife became his greatest enemy. I enjoyed how he translated onto the screen. Cyborg came across exactly how I felt he should. Patriotic and Symbolic. A beacon of hope. Lois was the hardnosed, embedded reporter and War growing between Atlantis and The Amazons was portrayed perfectly as this looking dark cloud over the world. The motivation for the war even works. One scene we see Diana and Aquaman being intimate, the next Mera is confronting Diana and being beheaded. And Arthur is mad. Well, what did you think was going to happen. Diana and Arthur are purely warrior driven. I adored Hal as the hot shot pilot and Superman as the isolated alien who knows nothing of the world. Its bleak and dark and a stark difference from the “Normal” DC Universe. The Rogues at the beginning are awesome!!! Sinister with a touch of typical Flash – Campiness. And The Reverse Flash is pure Evil!!! Oh man… didn’t we have Hal cuss too? PG-13 baby!!!

Best of all, the Easter Eggs. Lex Luthor and Deathstroke’s advanced attack gone wrong was awesome. So crazy! Steve Trevor’s capture and execution! The SHAZAM kids. Grifter!!! The Demon, Canterbury Cricket! So many cool, fun DC drops. I loved every minute of it.  I did miss seeing the Graysons and Deadman, but I also understand how you can’t cram it all in. And I think this movie did an excellent job of including what it needed and still kept you guessing.

Lastly my thought is… Flash can hold his own. This story centered around him yet allowed others to grow too. And when its darkest, Flash shines. Still hopeful and optimistic. If that last scene with the Flash running through town doesn’t make you have a Spider-Man tingle, if it doesn’t let you know that they could make a Flash solo movie. Nothing will. Flash was the consummate hero and I want to see him brought to the screen with this level of action and story.

GO Tracie!!
TRACIE_____ I feel bad about this review but this is what came out of my brains (I didn't sleep well last night):  (SPOILERS)

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is not my favorite DC Animated movie nor is it my favorite adaptation of a DC Comic but it IS a good adaptation of Flashpoint and highlights the problems with Flashpoint therein. I'll admit straight off that I need and intend to give this film another viewing to better solidify my feelings but for the sake of first impressions, here we go... Watching The Flashpoint Paradox reminded me that my favorite thing about Flashpoint was the tie-in books which were only briefly touched on in places throughout the film. While it's nice that they were able to allude to things like the brilliant twist with Martha Wayne and Superman's time as a government captive, seeing those nods only made made me upset that we didn't spend more time on THOSE things. I realize we can't and won't because those things are not necessary to the core of the Flashpoint story which is very much Barry Allen's story. I would like to maybe see if my roommates might want to watch this film with me on my 2nd viewing just to see how people who didn't read the comics might react to something like Martha Wayne. Does it come off as a cool twist or a really random, weird moment? It's hard for me to judge because I read the Batman tie-in that spent lots of time on that and was excellently crafted. The nod is appreciated but I can't quite figure out how I feel about the way it was sort of shoe-horned into the overall story being told. Same with the Atlantean/Amazonian War. We GET that the war started over a misunderstanding but we're shown this only by seeing Mera's jealousy and subsequent attack on Wonder Woman. What I remember from the comics is that this was a much more orchestrated ruse in an attempt to halt the peace between these two nations. Not a mere act of jealousy that resulted in global war. It was plotted and executed on both sides by Atlantean and Amazonian dissenters. That didn't seem as clear to me here. That little scene made Wonder Woman and Aquaman seem like homicidal idiots for the rest of the film and I wish just a little bit more time could've been spent on the two and on the instigating efforts that sparked this war. Speaking of homicide, it's a little crazy to me that the most modern to-date of DC Animated adaptations is actually darker and more violent than The Dark Knight Returns. This is a depressing, excessively violent piece of work. I was actually... upset... seeing heroes like Aquaman and Wonder Woman, characters I like and admire, doing terrible things to each other and their fellow heroes like Cyborg and "Captain Thunder," some of the few character actually intent on doing good and helping those who cannot help themselves. I realize this is the reaction I SHOULD be having and this is the result of a distopia. I'm a fan of alternate reality stories, Marvel's Age of Apocalypse being, perhaps, my favorite, and Flashpoint being the most AoA-like of DC stories, I should realize that it should and would be just as upsetting to me to see an animated display of Cyclops and Havok doing terrible things to fellow X-Men in that twisted world. I rattle this off only to try to clarify my feelings here in that it isn't a complaint so much that these characters are as dark and twisted as they are in this world... it's the point, of course, but seeing it enacted like this just made me wish for that better world where these people are heroes again... which is, of course, what Barry Allen is trying to do.
I will absolutely give it to Barry Allen that he carried this film and this story and it was absolutely wonderful to have an animated film carried by someone other than Batman or Superman (or Green Lantern, I suppose, since we got a few of those). I seemed to forget the couple of messed up things Barry does in the course of this story so I wonder if so much of my distaste for the actions these characters take throughout the film were down to my shoddy memories of the main Flashpoint story and my reacting to them as if I was seeing these things for the first time, rather than reacting to them like someone who has a checklist of things that happened in Flashpoint that I wanted to see accurately portrayed on screen. Instead, I had the fresh-faced reactions of someone going "NO, DON'T DO THAT, WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?" Man, though, the stuff with Barry and his mom at the beginning and the tragic twist to the Flashpoint story and Barry's actions at the end really made me want to see a lot more Barry Allen stories, which was a nice reaction. (hey maybe they should give that guy his own TV series) It was as complex and conflicted and interesting a farewell to the DC Animated productions of the past as the comic series was to the decades of comics continuity that preceeded it. It's obviously not the last of the pre-52 DC adaptations, as we have a Batman & Son adaptation to look forward to, but it sort of felt a little bit like as much a goodbye to that as it was for the comics by casting Kevin Conroy as Batman, Dana Delaney as Lois (Lois was PERFECT I just needed much more of her), and throwing Tim Daly's son Sam into the Superman role, and including nods like the YJ Aqualad cameo, and bringing Ron Perlman back to voice Deathstroke.
I regret how negative this review seems, I really do think that this was a very good adaptation of the Flashpoint story and that most of the issues it has are issues that Flashpoint itself had or issues that are inherent in dark, alternate worlds and I could very well be in a headspace right now that is influencing my feelings. There ARE great moments of heroism amidst the darkness. It did actually make me VERY excited for the upcoming Justice League: War adaptation, to see a fresh-faced Justice League that actually jokes with each other and maybe isn't trying to kill each other, though doesn't initially trust each other. (the little animatic preview on the blu-ray made me smile)
It's good stuff. I'm surprised and delighted as heck that they actually bothered to throw Grifter and Canterbury Cricket in (since they're mostly inconsequential to the larger story) and it reminded me that I actually quite like Grifter and I wish they would do something actually fun with him. Flash and Batman were perfect (both Batmen).

What little we got of Superman was perfect. Lois. Cyborg. I will watch it again and see how I feel now that my Flashpoint memories have been jogged and will maybe be less angry at the fact that war is always stupid but especially when it's sparked by ladies having dumb feelings that aren't very fleshed out.
Robb_____ First off, don't feel ever bad. I think you make excellent points. And though we don't disagree very often, I always understand where you come from and respect why. Especially if you were someone who liked the "satellite" stories that took place in the world of Flashpoint, I can understand why you could be disappointed. Many of your points are why I didn't like the comic book originally in the first place. In the movie, Yes the simple misunderstanding that caused a war, because of ladies is a bit frustrating. At first I had a problem with that. In the comic is was a ruse caused by the jealousy and power lust of Orm & Mera and maybe a connection to an Amazon too? I can't recall... that caused the war. But for a "wordless" flashback, the simple jealousy worked well to tell the story in a quick picture. I am not normally a fan of bleak for bleak's sake. But some of the best comic stories have been based on a "what if" scenario. The "It’s a Wonderful Life"... if only this one thing were different "Butterfly Effect". Age of Apocalypse, Age of Ultron, The Darkseid is story in JLA, Day's of Future's Past, (Sort of)  To me the Flashpoint comic story had a lot of good things to it, but faulted at the end. My guess is DC's choice to make this story the lit fuse that explodes the NEW 52 Changes. But the comic seemed rushed. To me this was a tighter story. I agree, I would have liked more of Barry's mother's story. But I felt what little we got was powerful. Really it lasts like 3 minutes. The car breaking down and his mother's speech that echoes the point of this movie. You can see her pride in her son. And then the sadness of finding his mother and the shot of the birthday cake. They don't even bother to give an origin for the Flash, he just is the Flash... and it works.
No question this is the darkest we've seen a DC animated movie and that's after Dark Knight Returns. Can you imagine if they do a Kingdom Come now? Or Killing Joke? DC Animated isn't afraid to push this envelope. Look, one of my favorite animated movies was All Star Superman. You can't get much sunnier than that. So I don't think I’m someone who focuses on gloom. In fact I usually hate when they portray Superman as anything but a hero. But something with this movie just clicked with me and I loved it.
This is me hypothesizing... or putting words in your mouth, but could it be that we don't normally see DC heroes acting so un-heroic that is the most upsetting? Sure the reasons why Wonder Woman and Aquaman are so bloodthirsty aren't really fleshed out. But I liked the simple explanation from Reverse Flash, you're one change set all this in motion. Why didn't you stop Hitler or Stop the assignation of JFK? No, you were selfish and looked what it did to the world. Yes, now that I think about it, I would have liked a moment like they had in Flashpoint where he asks his mother's forgiveness before he lets her die. But a lot is solidified for me when we See Bruce cry and say, "You're one hell of a messenger, Barry."
At least we agree on the most important aspect. The strength of Barry as a solo character. I just read that its official. Barry will be in the new season of Arrow and it will be used as a back door pilot for a spin-off series. I just hope DC takes advantage and uses this format like Marvel is using S.H.I.E.L.D. and has it as a gateway/connection piece for their movies as well.
Tracie____ Thanks, Fandom Brother!
I really do think it was a great adaptation of Flashpoint and it WAS very tight. I was just a litle thrown by the way they shoe-horned in Martha Wayne... I mean, when I think about it, that was a cool way to get across what she becomes, I was just so surprised by it because I was expecting the slow reveal that the mini had. But of course, that would have been a Batman solo adventure and unrelated to his assisting Barry.
My only real sticking point from there is just how unclear and shallow and stupid the Atlantean/Amazonian War is. I really did remember it being more of an orchestrated thing and while I do appreciate that they tried to get these things accross very efficiently and minimalistic by including silent scenes of Mera and the Kryptonian rocket and such... but really all they'd need to do is add Orm to that scene with Mera... make it more schemey... I'm pretty sure they had an Amazon dissenter in on it as well. I just felt like it could have been clearer that they were part of an arranged marriage to keep peace.

Like maybe if Mera's reaction was to the two of them signing a declaration or something more dipolmatic but no, she was watching them in an imtimate sexy moment that didn't seem at all diplomatic so she reacts like a jealous woman and attacks Wonder Woman and... I dunno, maybe if that fight seemed more like Mera was close to beating Wonder Woman or something... show that she had no choice but to behead her?
Instead it just seemed to play out like "Bitch, Arthur's MY MAN" "Oh no you dih'n't" **hairpull** **BEHEADING**
After that it's like a free-for-all of cutting off dude's arms and whatnot. I genuinely was ANGRY at Arthur for killing Cyborg. That dude did NOTHING to him but try to quell the fighting and there is is just ripping him apart while he screams until he's standing there, staring at his still beating heart and I'm just like "NOOOOOOO" at the screen because there was the ONE kindly person left. Same reaction I had to Wonder Woman getting Captain Thunder to revert back just so she could SLAUGHTER CHILDREN. Like WHAT THE WHAT. You're not at war with those people, they just want you to stop... I dunno, maybe if it was clearer why Wonder Woman and Aquaman were the way they are? Maybe it WAS but it's just not enough for me? I don't know. And maybe that's EXACTLY how it happened in the comic too, I just don't remember having as intense a reaction to the comic as I did to the movie. Which is maybe what's great about that movie? I was just upset thinking don't you touch Cyborg and don't you hurt those kids.
Justice League: War looks GENUINELY FUN and I can't wait for that. It seems like maybe the last bunch of Animated films have all been really dark and I just need one to be a little fun again.
ALSO did you notice that they're squeezing Shazam into that story?
Robb____ I do agree with you that motivation is lacking as to why our heroes seem downright evil. Can you imagine what set of events made it so Diana and Arthur would kill without hesitation? It's so disturbing. We can only assume other things have happened besides the "Mera" incident to make them so morally different from their DC proper counter parts. I understand you needing a reason. These are lifelong heroes who now are slaughtering other heroes with no reason or remorse. You need to know why. I don't blame you. You care deeply about these characters and need to know why?  In the comic, there was some sense of how... but I don't think it was fleshed out enough for me either. Aquaman and Diana would never be so easily deceived and led to such drastic actions. But it's a "What if" and Flash saying things like, "On my world, Aquaman was kinda and passionate king who'd never do something like this." This was good enough for this type of story for me.
Ok something else I really liked... The Justice League at the beginning. First, how Flash says, You have your posse, I have mine. Then, how they broke into groups and each stopped the devices in their own way. Each one creative and cool. Aquaman and the microscopic algae eating away the device, Superman just covering with his hands and saying, 'The waiting is the hardest part". So fun. I loved it. Oh And Grifter saying to Batman... "How come we've never worked together before?" 
Ok enough about Flashpoint... On to Justice League War. I think yes... it'll be a more fun and less dark story than we've seen in recent releases. I can't wait to see the back and forth from Hal and Bruce! Not much for animation, other than some sketches. It doesn't feel like they are doing a "Jim Lee" style. Maybe a bit more like Superman vs. the Elite? Too soon and too hard to tell yet. But yes... I saw that and was going to point out to you... SHAZAM! Wha wha WHAT?  How are they going to do that? Hmmmm. I'm all for it. I was surprised they worked him into Flashpoint, so I'm all for this. And yes, let's have a sunnier story DC. You'll get no argument from me there!!!

Tracie____ You make excellent points regarding Diana and Arthur's demeanor and I did prehaps take it too much to heart that they had changed so much for the worse without the positive influence of the Justice League.  That is, after all, the whole point of the story, I think. Well...
it's the secondary point, after the AA "give me the strength" Serenety Prayer about accepting the things we cannot change. (which is sort of interesting considering that it is a story that results in the changing of the entire DC Universe)
I had a buddy text me after he watched the movie and was confused over why Flash and Batman had different costumes at the end of the film.

WHICH REMINDS ME, did you keep watching until the end of the credits?
That's twice now that they've put teasers at the end of their animated films. (the other one was after the previous film, Superman: Unbound)

I also do agree with you about the Justice League at the beginning of the film and their really inventive means of teaming up and disarming those bombs. Very smart! Very good. It is weird that I had already forgotten that Grifter was part of the DCU. They really aught to find a place for him. I've always liked the character but couldn't be bothered to buy that solo series or Team 7. (of course I liked him because he was pretty much Gambit with a cooler mask)  I like that we just barely just got done with Shazam's origin story and his entry into the Trinity War but Justice League: War is going to somehow already have him as part of the team. Interesting change but I can see how maybe just those first 5 issues of Justice League weren't enough to fill a whole 75-90 minute movie. That Shazam origin could practically be a movie of its own, though, so I wonder how they'll fit it in along with all the League members meeting each other for the first time and facing Darkseid. Also it seems a lot like they're beating their live action division to the punch but I'm all for it.

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