November 2017~ Justice League

This film has been a long time coming!

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Following hot on the heels of this Summer’s blockbuster, Wonder Woman, Justice League is easily better than any of the previous DC films with the exception of Wonder Woman.

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This next chapter in the DCEU once again stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/ Superman and the ever-awesome Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. This time they are joined by Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg. Back as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler is Jeremy Irons, with Amy Adams returning as Daily Planet reporter and Superman’s love interest, Lois Lane. Connie Nielsen reprises her role as Queen Hippolyta from Wonder Woman.

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The film is an origin story for The Justice League and Cyborg, with only a snippet of information being given on the backgrounds of Aquaman and The Flash. This makes me think we will see individual films for them at some point (they may already have been announced and I’ve missed it!).

After the events of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne has found new faith in humanity. He is also feeling a lot of deep-rooted guilt about his part in the death of Superman; a death that is being mourned worldwide. An old enemy from the past has been awakened and threatens the very existence of the human race. Inspired by Superman’s selfless sacrifice, Bruce enlists the help of Diana Prince to create league of heroes to stand against this threat. Despite encountering problems in creating his team, the newly formed Justice League (a phrase never heard in the film), it may be too late to save humanity from extinction. But there is always hope…..

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The film is much more light-hearted than previous DCEU films. It was great to see Gal Gadot reprising her role as Diana/Wonder Woman for a third time (yes, I’m a huge fan), and it’s good to see that by the end of the film, her character is finally coming out of the shadows thanks to Bruce Wayne. She is a real leader and openly interacting with the public as well as being a huge inspiration to all. We also were treated to a brief visit to Diana’s home. The paradise island of Themyscira and the Amazon warriors- I’ll write no more as it will spoil things.

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Until now, I have not been a fan of Ben Affleck as Batman, but this movie has changed that opinion. Bruce is much more reflective in this movie; he’s showing and feeling his age. 20 years of fighting crime in Gotham City and the death of Superman has taken its toll. I’m predicting he recruits another Robin at some point.

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The new characters that we were introduced to worked well on the whole. I had a bit of an issue with Aquaman seemingly liking a drink a bit too much; I like a drink, just didn’t like the way it came across. Blatantly stealing items from the Batcave in front of the team didn’t sit well either for a superhero, but on the whole he was a likeable character. It was good to see his tough facade broken down, albeit unknowingly, by Diana’s Lasso of Hestia.

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Cyborg was well portrayed as an angry, untrusting, unwilling victim of experimental medical procedures by his father. Out of all the characters, Cyborg probably has the most development over the movie. I thought he was a bit of an ass when the film first started, but that soon changed.

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Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/The Flash was the one character I didn’t like in the trailers. It goes to show how misleading trailers can be. Yes, Barry was used a lot for comic relief, but there was so much more. The backstory with his dad, who is in prison for murder, and Barry’s mission to save him sits nicely in the background for future use I believe.

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If I had one criticism, it’s that we didn’t see enough of Mera, Aquaman’s Atlantean counterpart. What we did see of Amber Heard in the role was good, I just wish there had been more.

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It’s obvious which scenes were shot by original director, Zack Snyder and which were shot by Joss Wheedon. It doesn’t detract too much from the movie and when you think of the reason for change of director, you can understand it.

The ending was a bit rushed, but I have seen that in lots of films of late so it seems to be a trend. It did its job and told the story, so won’t mark it down too much for that.

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I would happily see this film again and can’t wait to add it to my blu-ray collection. It is definitely worth seeing on the big screen, so catch it while you can and make sure you stay for the two mid-credit scenes!

Finally, here’s a random Wonder Woman from the film. Just because I can…..

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May 2017~ Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is run by the same company that run the awesome Walker Stalker Cons that also take place at Olympia in February/March. I planned to go to this event from the day it was announced and it would also be the first event my brother would attend with me in 4 years, so I was hoping it was going to be good.

I knew how Fanfest ran their Walking Dead events, and yes, whilst they are pricey compared to events run by UK based companies, you have to take into account a variety of things. Such as the fact that they are a US based company so would be liable to pay some sort of business tax in the UK, they actually pay their staff (yes, they have some volunteers) whilst most UK event organisers run on volunteers alone (except for “management”), they bring a lot of their own equipment with them from the US and they cap numbers and still use two halls in Olympia. Personally, I’d rather pay more for a pleasant, organised experience rather than attend a cattle market, one such event was set to take place the exact same weekend!

Looking back at the guests they normally get for their US based events, it seemed to be a good mixture of people from DC and Marvel Superhero TV shows and Films plus guest from other popular shows thrown in for good measure.

The final line-up was announced over a series of months, with Stephen Amell from Arrow and Melissa Benoist from Supergirl headlining the event. My brother was interested in meeting both, whilst I wanted to meet Melissa, plus a few other of the other guests. 31 guests were announced in total. Unfortunately, 5 had to cancel for various reasons, including Melissa Benoist.

About 3 weeks before the event, someone introduced me to a new show. Designated Survivor. It stars Kiefer Sutherland (from 24) and also Italia Ricci who was attending the event as she had appeared in Supergirl as Siobhan Smythe/Silver Banshee. Now I don’t normally like political dramas but this was like The West Wing meets 24. I was hooked and polished off the whole series in about 5 days. I then made the choice to add Italia to my ‘to meet’ list and, as you will read, it was a good choice!

The week of the con arrived. An event occurred that could potentially cause problems. A terrorist set off a bomb at a music concert in Manchester, killing 22 (including children) and injuring many others. The UK threat level was increased to its highest level-critical. Would HVFF back down, or show these people that in the face of terror you never give in and let them win. Rather than cancel, HVFF beefed up security, and whilst it would mean things might be a bit slower, it would hopefully keep us all safe. It was the right thing to do. Show these people that no matter what, you can’t keep us down.

The day of the con arrived! I arrived with my brother at around 10.30am and he was finally able to meet my mate Fudge as she was there to satisfy her Stephen Amell addiction (which she did). I had a few photoshoots (as you will see below) and then my brother and I spent the day browsing the vendors, watching some panels, including the cosplay contest and meeting guests. My brother met Emily Bett Rickards from Arrow and Shantel VanSanten from The Flash. I think he preferred the latter! I spent some time chatting to Richard Brake who plays the Night King in Game of Thrones and was fascinated to hear how his costume and makeup (which takes 6 hours to put on) actually causes him to bleed when he wears it and, if not careful when using the toilet, he could lose an important body part!

We left at about 4pm after an awesome day.

At this point I would like to give a big shoutout to the HVFF disability team. My brother is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and at the moment am unable to stand in one place for extended periods. The whole setup for disabled people was awesome. From line access to guest booths, to queuing for photo shoots and the quiet room. It was all awesome. I made sure on Sunday to take some cupcakes to the ladies (Steph & Anne) running the quiet room as they did an awesome job.

Day 2 came and I had a couple of photo ops left plus I wanted to watch the Captain America panel with Stanley Tucci (Dr Erskine) and Hayley Atwell (SSR Agent Peggy Carter). The panel was great! Both guests bounced off each other very well and the host did a good enough job not to be too intrusive and get in the way.

Apart from my final photo ops and autographs, my final task was to meet the awesome and very lovely Italia Ricci (and her husband Robbie Amell, who wanted my tee-shirt). I’d had some pins made in the style of a Presidential Election Campaign and had put her character from Designated Survivor (Emily Rhodes, White House Chief of Staff) on as you can see below.

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I also had a matching shirt made, which Italia first saw in the photo-op (see below) which she thought was awesome.

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Italia liked the pin and said she would have liked one for the director and for Kiefer Sutherland. Luckily I had more. I then had a quick chat, grabbed a selfie and off I went! Both Italia and Robbie are awesome and make a lovely couple. Plus, Italia loves pizza so HAS to be awesome!

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I had a final wander around the stalls, managed to avoided buying a very expensive Captain America shield and left at around 4pm.

Overall, it was an absolutely awesome weekend. I could not honestly find fault with anything. The organisation was spot on and there was so much space it was great! You could move around without problem.

My final guest list was:-

Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy/The Walking Dead)

Brandon Routh (Chuck/Legends of Tomorrow)

Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Stanley Tucci (Captain America/The Hunger Games)

Richard Brake (Game of Thrones)

Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow/Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Italia Ricci (Designated Survivor/Supergirl)

I can’t wait until the 2018 event and I’m hoping that all of my brothers family are able to attend as well. The kids would look great dressed as Superheroes!

If you’d like to find out more, then head over to:- heroesfanfest.com