Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Like the title says, this is a post about things I didn’t like about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Like anything I do, say, or write about comics and comics-related media it will be almost annoyingly detailed; TLDR: spoilers Spoilers SPOILERS. Consider yourself warned.

1. The violence was genuinely (and needlessly) over-the-top


Adapted work is its own thing.

That’s one of the things die-hard superfans sometimes miss. There have already been innumerable comics about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The fact that this movie got made is its own thing, the same way The Lord of the Rings films were their on thing, or the Game of Thrones HBO show is its own thing. The original work, the source material, is in a sense limited (and targeted to a limited audience)… Bringing the page to small or big screens is at once a compliment and a compromise.

A compliment in that these characters (that some of us die-hard superfans love) get to be exposed to more people, in more consumable contexts… But compromise because expectations for movies and tv shows and what the average viewer will like can be very different. So I get the idea that you want to modernize Superman (or Batman). I get when you make a movie that costs hundreds of millions of dollars you’re going to want to have a lot of explosions. You might not be willing to dwell on the specific ethics of these characters that have been developing for seventy years for very long in a film that has to cram a lot of stuff in; cutting such a perspective into a single sound byte might make sense as a filmmaking choice.


… At some point adapting, “modernizing”, and reducing down too much can betray the essence of a character; what makes the character [special], or worth a movie (or a movie franchise).

Case in point:

In the opening action sequence a terrorist has Lois Lane at gunpoint. Superman is staring him down. Superman can do a lot of different things here (this is a movie, by the way, that acknowledges the work of John Byrne in the credits). He can melt the terrorist’s gun with heat vision. He can fly so fast that he can stop the hammer of the gun on the way down. Even if the gun is to Lois’s temple he can move so quickly he can catch the bullet before it hits her. All of these things, by the by, are well within the abilities Superman shows in this movie.

Zach Snyder has Superman torpedo into the terrorist and slam him through the wall behind him. Not only is this way more risky than anything I suggested above… It would almost necessarily result in the terrorist being liquefied. There is just no reason for it… Though it does set the tone for the next two hours and their nonstop over-the-top violence.

2. Superman’s complete lack of conscience or consequences


Superman has many super powers… Heat vision, super strength, resistance to injury, lightning speed to the point of interplanetary flight. That last one has, over the years and different writers’ interpretations led to super-learning and super-strategy. Superman’s brain just works super fast; he is a super scientist sometimes, a chess master, a prize winning writer.

The difference between Superman and Batman is that Superman is always tempered by his humble roots and moral grounding.

So why in the world (beyond the fact that he is more than willing to fly humans through brick walls) would he trade Batman’s life for Martha Kent’s? We know why Batman wants to fight Superman… But at the climax of the film, Superman consents to Lex Luthor that he will trade the head of the Batman for his own mother’s life.

Let’s think about this for a moment… If Superman wins, Batman dies; if Superman doesn’t win (or doesn’t fight), Martha dies. It’s a life for a life in either case… But in one Superman isn’t the murderer himself. Where is his moral compass? What would Martha have wanted for him? In the universe set up by Man of Steel Clark let his father die for less.

Besides which, super-brain for a second, if Lex knows who his mom is and can blackmail him this one time, what is to stop him from doing the same thing the next time?

3. Batman seemed to have no problems killing people… With guns


In comics and most related media, both Batman and Superman have gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve human life, even of their archenemies. A lengthy plot line in the Justice League cartoon is about Bruce thinking about killing the Joker (but not) when Clark thinks about killing Luthor and going down a dark path. Only the alternate-universe-death of Lois Lane is ever enough to have Superman do stuff like punch out the Joker’s heart; less than that and he will turn the other cheek. It was a huge deal at the end of Final Crisis for Batman to use a gun to beat Darkseid; but Grant Morrison’s use of Batman, the gun, and the conclusion of that story was perfect poetry. And Darkseid is a god.

In Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Bruce strafes cars and trucks from his Bat-Wing. I guess the guys in the aforementioned cars and / or trucks could conceivably have walked away… But those were some big explosions. Bruce didn’t blink an eye. In the pivotal scene where Batman saves Martha Kent from the KGBeast (armed with a flamethrower) he, like Clark and the unnamed terrorist in the opening sequence, could have done a lot of different things. He chose to shoot the gas tank with a gun (blowing it up and lighting up the kidnapper) tackling Martha to the ground under a presumably flame retardant cape. It wasn’t just un-Batman; it was common.

4. Batman had no control of his emotions


Bruce has Clark by the throat, kryptonite lance etching his cheek, getting ready to monologue.

Lois bursts in and stops the scene.

Bruce throws down the kryptonite lance and runs off to save Mrs. Kent.

Bruce throws down the kryptonite lance and what now?

He spent the entire first half of the movie doing nothing but trying to get the kryptonite and then just discards it? Forget about the fact that it would be an important plot element later… Why would the most competent man in the world possibly do that? HE SPENT THE ENTIRE FIRST HALF OF THE MOVIE DOING NOTHING BUT TRYING TO GET THE KRYPTONITE.

The entire plot of the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us is Bruce getting access to kryptonite. This is not just a smart guy acting stupid, this is the smartest guy acting extraordinarily emotional instead of rational. In the final scene between Batman and Luthor, Bruce pulls off the first half of “something super cool in a movie”, sneaking into Luthor’s jail cell when the lights go down. He is going to brand Lex with the bat to mark him in prison. It’s going to be awesome. Lex starts ranting, Bruce grunts loudly, punches the wall, and leaves. It’s inexplicable. It’s un-Batman.

5. Wonder Woman’s wildly inconsistent defensive capabilities


After two hours of teasing us in evening gowns Gal Gadot makes her Amazonian debut jumping in front of Doomsday, bracelets defending a hapless Batman from certain eye beam. Cool. Aegis bracelets, Hephaestus sword and shield, Magic… check, check, check. Cool.

So Wonder Woman is tough, ageless, etc. But she does seem to need her bracelets or shield to defend her from superhuman attack. We see them light up when she is blocking heat vision, or channel explosive bursts of energy. So tell me how this defends her from an omni-directional nuclear-esque explosion, or even just construction debris?

Doomsday is shown knocking down multiple buildings in every direction with his energy attacks. Batman has to take cover. Wonder Woman can’t actually block all of that with either bracelets or shield. But we just saw that she has to use the bracelets and / or shield, didn’t we? She’s super… But she’s not Superman. If the building she is in is getting incinerated I totally get that she would have perfectly preserved wrists, but the rest of her shouldn’t logically be Maxim cover-ready for the next frame.

6. For that matter, Wonder Woman’s wildly inconsistent offensive capabilities


We know Superman killed Zod by snapping his neck in Man of Steel. Wonder Woman cuts off Doomsday’s hand with her magic sword. She breaks his armor on multiple occasions, hamstringing him, as they melee… She’s clearly well trained and agile enough to land cuts without getting hit back. Why doesn’t Wonder Woman just behead Doomsday? She could: WE JUST SAW HER CUT OFF HIS HAND.

7. For that matter, what exactly can kill Superman (or Zod / Doomsday)?


Let me get this right: A nuclear explosion not only doesn’t kill Superman, it doesn’t damage his uniform. Being stabbed by non-kryptonite, though, kills him to death? Keep in mind he was not stabbed by kryptonite. He was just near kryptonite. By this logic, when Batman poisoned Superman MULTIPLE TIMES with direct hits with his kryptonite rifle, shouldn’t he have been weak enough to die by all the bathroom sinks, multiple-story falls, and building breaking blows that Batman levied on him? Any of those — which included multiple head and neck blows while actually choking on kryptonite fumes — should have been more lethal than a random stab wound that happened to occur while he was merely near kryptonite.

8. Anything and everything having to do with Lex Luthor


Lex is the smartest man in the world, who by the end of the film commands the sum total of Kryptonian scientific knowledge between his ears. He outsmarts Batman and figures out Superman’s secret identity. What is his motivation? Why would he make Doomsday with apparently no fetters or fallback plan? Just to kill Superman? Lex didn’t actually have a kryptonite weapon. Would Doomsday have stopped nicely after killing Superman? Doomsday’s first move was busting up Lex’s own office building! Why did Lex kill his own assistant in Washington? (Mercy is one of the few characters Lex ever seems to have a genuine respectful relationship with in comics and cartoons.) Why in the world is it the end of the plot line to put him in prison. Does he suddenly no longer know who Batman and Superman are in street clothes if you put him in prison? We know he can stop Batman from branding him with a rant… What if he starts ranting about billionaire Bruce Wayne?

Not that I didn’t like lots of things about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I teared up early when Bruce Wayne in his Gucci vest rushed towards danger to save a little girl. I thought Wonder Woman was badass. But in an environment that includes movies like Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, or X-Men: Days of Future Past we are simply no longer in a place and time where comics movies can be mindless and inexplicable. Comics movies can be brilliantly executed like Stardust, hilarious commentary like Kick-Ass, or just great movies (not just great “comics” movies) like Captain America: The Winter Solider.

Zach Snyder had a great opportunity on this one. Sadly, it could have been a lot better, for both superfans and regular-fans.


I woke up to a text message from BDM that read, “You should do a horror movie piece for Fetchland.”

A horror movie piece? Like a list? But what kind of list? Underrated movies? Good movies? Bad movies? For fans of the genre only? Hell, it’s 5am in the morning so how about a little something for everyone? So here I give you:

Fetchland’s Top 8 Horror Movies That Are Good, Bad, Underrated, Weird , Great, And Game Changing.

It’s 5am kids.

Happy Halloween!
— Paul

The WFT One
Possession (1981) dir Andrzej Żuławski

I found this one a few years ago while on my annual “need to find movies for Halloween I haven’t seen yet” quest.
IMDB describes it as:

A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.

Sounds straightforward right?


I’m going to say these two words to you.



Watch the movie and you’ll understand.

The Crazy Italian One
Manhattan Baby (1982) dir Lucio Fulci

You want to watch a crazy Italian horror movie. There’s no drought of those. How about a crazy Lucio Fulci movie? No challenge there. But Manhattan Baby…Manhattan Baby makes The Beyond seem tame.

The Good Movie One
Session 9 (2001) dir Brad Anderson

Someone asked me just last week for a good horror movie “not just scary but a good movie from the last ten years”.

I couldn’t think of any. I am not a big fan of modern horror. Give me a few more years to play with and I’d say Session 9. Just the location alone makes this worth seeing. I think the whole movie works on so many levels.

The One That Changed It All One
Dawn of the Dead (1978) dir George A. Romero

You wouldn’t have The Walking Dead.

You wouldn’t have the modern obsession with everything zombie.

And it wasn’t Night of the Living Dead that did that.

It was Dawn. It’s the reason horror nerds check out the local Costco and think, this would work. And if you’ve only seen the remake, go watch the original. Kids today.

The Carpenter Movie You Didn’t Expect One
Prince of Darkness (1987) dir John Carpenter

I have argued for hours over what is John Carpenter’s best horror film. I say Halloween.

Others say The Thing… which is great.

Some even say In the Mouth of Madness and if you do I’ll walk out of the room.

But you gotta love Prince of Darkness. Come on, tachyon transmissions from the future and Alice Cooper.

‘Nuff said.

The Action Comedy One
Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980) dir Sammo Hung

I love my kung fu movies. Encounters of the Spooky Kind aka Spooky Encounters gets you the great Sammo Hung at the height of his abilities. This is the one that started the Hopping Vampire craze that was all over the place in the 80s.

The Never Heard Of This One
Next of Kin (1982) dir Tony Williams

I found out about Next of Kin watching the amazing documentary Not Quite Hollywood about Australian exploitation films. This movie is an Ozzie giallo if that makes any sense. Just watch the trailer and tell me you don’t want to see it.

The Slow Build Up One
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) dir John D. Hancock

A lot of times you hear someone defend a boring horror movie by saying it’s not appreciated because it’s not filled with gore and has a slow build up. People say that about 2009’s House Of the Devil but I’m not a fan of that movie. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is the movie I talk about that uses atmosphere and little to no blood to create a disturbing story.

The Kids Are All Right

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂

The Kids Are All Right

Free on:

  • Netflix

Married lesbians Nic and Jules, played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore respectively, each had a child using the same sperm donor years ago. The kids are now sixteen year old Laser and eighteen year old Joni – both curious about their biological father. This premise for The Kids Are All Right intrigues at the onset but the story only gets better after that and not just because said sperm donor happens to be the amazing Mark Ruffalo. He plays Paul, a bohemian restaurateur with a chill attitude and open heart. Bening’s Nic works as an OB/GYN and is the organizational neatnick of the family. Her wife, Jules, heretofore a housewife, now jumpstarts a landscaping business with the purchase of a beat up truck.

This big change for Jules, combined with her daughter Joni going away to college, soon makes for a potent elixir of insecurity and empty nest syndrome setting the couple off on an unpredictable path. And because it’s a Julianne Moore character, you know there will be nudity… and sex. While Jules spirals into uncharted territory, the kids, Joni and Laser, get to know their sperm donor daddy. At first they keep Paul from their parents, “the moms” but then a hilarious misunderstanding results in the moms finding out about Paul. From here forward The Kids Are All Right shifts with ease back and forth between funny and heartbreaking. The dialogue captures the way people actually talk with such accuracy you’ll forget this isn’t actually Julianne Moore and Annette Bening just hanging out in real life lesbian-style. Not only does the brilliant wordplay compel but the story brings to life the complexities and frailties of crazy contradictory real human behavior. This movie reminds you that as much as people totally don’t make sense… they also really do. The writing along with remarkable acting from the entire cast make the characters unforgettably real. They will undoubtedly remind you of people you know. The insightful characterizations and fresh take on what it means to make a family will capture your heart. There are no villains or heroes in this one, just perfectly cast A-list actors in top form playing characters so familiar they feel like family.

The Kids Are All Right was ahead of its time when it came out in 2010, already presuming a world of perfectly normal, long term, gay marriage. It was also just flat out one of the best comedies of that year, if not the best one, mainly because it’s so much more than funny. This story moves and enlightens you all while you’re laughing your ass off. And most of all you can’t help but care for these women and their beautifully imperfect pairing. The film inspires a wellspring of empathy for every character even while they clash with each other, maybe especially then.

Music also brings even more authentic emotion into the story with an exceptional soundtrack as well as a lovely rendition of Joni Mitchell sung acapella by a resplendent Annette Bening one fateful night with the whole lot of them gathered at the dinner table. That particular dinner just happens to be when the rubber meets the road for this family. The truth comes out and nothing will ever be the same but that doesn’t mean things won’t get better. One thing is for certain though, every character will change as a result and you’ll be pulling for each the whole way through.

–Katherine Recap

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂

First Blood

Free on:

  • Netflix

It’s a telling fact that the movie First Blood appears incorrectly titled in your Netflix search. Also quite noteworthy is how low the rating is in Netflix, only two stars. But that’s about as accurate as the title, and for the same reason. First Blood tells the origin story of a character we all think we know, at the mere mention of his name: Rambo. That name resounds like Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” in the American unconscious. Some dumb guy with a blazing machine gun, right? Perhaps a slurring Sylvester Stallone comes to mind. But not only is his character, John Rambo, actually a brilliant strategist and tactical master with a deeply embedded inner boy scout… John’s greatest crime is wanting to get a bite to eat in a small town that disdains Vietnam vets.

First Blood delves into how John suffers not only from the PTSD that haunts his mind and heart, but also his subhuman treatment at the hands of a small town police force who hunt him for no good reason. When you see this story of how war stole the soul of a seemingly primitive man, you quickly realize he’s a genius in disguise. Trained as a Green Beret, a war hero fighting impossible odds, John survives where no other human possibly could… And then he goes ahead and kicks some ass for good measure. Brian Dennehy plays a small town sheriff with major bullying issues. He sees John Rambo, a mild man walking through his town, as a violent and imminent threat simply because he’s a Vietnam vet. The sheriff sizes him up as a vet because of John’s army jacket and longish hair. Problem is the sheriff comes to all sorts of other less accurate conclusions as well, like that because he’s a vet, John Rambo is a danger to his town. When John doesn’t leave after the sheriff’s insistence, Dennehy arrests him for vagrancy, thus sparking a ferocious momentum that pushes Rambo to test the limits of his seemingly infinite resolve to survive.

It truly becomes a matter of survival when John escapes jailhouse humiliations and the sheriff’s men transform into hunters – literally out to kill him. Rambo’s on the run in the woods of the great Northwest and the movie snowballs with such intensity it grips you and won’t let you go. The escalation of events draws you into a grueling intimacy with the ultimate survivalist. This proximity to the pain and resilience of a man willing to do whatever it takes despite impossible odds is the real gift of this movie. A pre “Rambo” John Rambo stitches up his arm wound, builds traps, and slaughters wild animals as the suspense builds and the relentless sheriff’s department hunters close in on him.

At the time he made this movie Sylvester Stallone had just established himself as the underdog character, Rocky. So, First Blood was his first character of this kind. John Rambo counts as an underdog for sure but, ultimately it was this character that established Stallone as the iconic action hero. It’s how most of us think of Stallone these days and it all started with First Blood, revealing the innate perfection of that title. One of the reasons to recommend watching First Blood is that though the Rambo movies have been rolling out for years like condoms on prom night, this was before all that. This John Rambo remains untainted by marketing schemes, action figures, and polish in general. He’s raw, unfiltered and brutally pissed off in First Blood. This movie’s the real deal.

People see the name in Netflix and it says “Rambo – First Blood” so they rate it accordingly for a hollow action figure variety flick. But the only thing hollow about First Blood is the soul of John Rambo – he left it behind in Vietnam. With an 87% fresh rating on, it seems safe to say that this isn’t a two star movie. In fact, it will get your blood pumping and remind you of that survivor we all hold dear and deep inside ourselves. It’s that part of you that just knows you’re going to make it out of those woods alive. Seems like a perfect time for that kind of reminder these days with the hourglass emptying and the clock ticking on our very planet. If nothing else, there are also great camping tips for a bro on the move.

–Katherine Recap

Up in the Air

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂

Up in the Air

Free on:

  • Netflix

Up in the Air is a movie about mastery, specifically a man who’s mastered the art of firing people as well as the art of flying across the country to do so. But it’s also a story of vulnerability and the way it creeps up on those who think themselves experts at being invulnerable – those very same masters in their fields. So, who better to play the master of this universe than Mr. George Clooney? Nobody, that’s who. Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a picture of efficiency both in the work of firing people and up in the air. The airport is his hometown and the actual plane his home; it doesn’t matter where because he’s happy in all of them and has created systems of comfort to keep it that way. He’s one of those speakers who inspires self-help conferences full of suits sitting at eternally long tables. He is a certified expert in his field – a dangerous position for anyone.

As they say, all things that rise must fall… and when you’re in a plane all the time it’s certainly a long way down. He loves the air up there, though it’s thin and cloudy with prepackaged politeness instead of human connection. And that’s just how Ryan likes it. He’d rather be anywhere than home at his sterile, empty apartment in Omaha where he spends the least time possible. Hotels are your true home sweet home, after all, when you measure happiness and success by frequent flyer miles. Thus, Ryan is a happy guy as long as he’s Up in the Air.

Enter Positive Ponytail Girl into Ryan Bingham’s world: The perfectly cast Anna Kendrick in her breakout role as Natalie Keener. She’s fresh out of college and knows everything about his industry that can be learned in a classroom. In fact, Natalie knows so much about Bingham’s business of outsourced corporate firing, she’s at Ryan’s company to revolutionize the entire enterprise. Her first order of business: grounding Bingham and all his coworkers. In other words, murdering his bliss. He’s horrified at the prospect of losing his 322 travel days per year / his greatest point of pride. If there’s one thing Ryan doesn’t want it’s actually living day after day in his barren apartment in Omaha. This man’s only truly alive Up in the Air. But if that’s Ryan’s weakness, all knowing Natalie has an even more glaring Achilles. She’s never actually fired anyone. So, her proposition for computer conference methods of terminating people in bummer Skype calls all over the world may just be a pipe dream when put into practice. At least that’s what Bingham sets out to prove upon hearing her plans for his company.

Meanwhile in his life on the road Ryan’s develops a connection (in and out of the sack) with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), a frequent business traveler who shares his particular joys and woes of loyalty cards, free cookies, and priority check-in. As they bond romantically and playfully awaken Natalie to the realities of business outside the classroom it starts to feel like Up in the Air may tiptoe into romantic comedy territory. But then Bingham is tasked with convincing his sister’s fiancé to marry her when the guy gets cold feet on their wedding day. Though Ryan’s a master at easing the bite of words like “termination” and “fired,” with softer terms like “career transition counseling,” when it comes to talking about marriage he’s downright klunky. He agrees that, yes, there is no point and it’s true and we do all die alone anyway. Then Bingham realizes he’s not in that room for his own sake, really, but for his sister. So, he locks into mentor mode and delivers just the speech needed to do the job. The wedding is on like Donkey Kong.

From this wedding forward surprise twists and turns shift Up in the Air away from weddings days and romance into everyday reality, sending Ryan’s proverbial plane into a tailspin. Even as Bingham hits the bullseye on many of his life goals, he finds himself preoccupied and barely participating. He made a real connection with both of the two women in his life, Natalie and Alex, to the point that they turned his plane around and his worldview shifted thanks to them. But does that mean Ryan will ever really land that plane land and become a changed man?

This is a smart and funny movie but it’s also refreshingly unexpected in many ways. Although Clooney is the star, Farmiga and Kendrick hold their own with distinct and unique characters at different ends of the spectrum. The three characters are equally significant to the story because they have such a powerful impact on each other. Ultimately, it’s a movie about making connections, whether at the airport, in the boardroom, or in the bedroom.

–Katherine Recap

City of God

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂

City of God

Free on:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Netflix

If you mention the movie City of God to someone who’s seen it they’ll likely grab your arm.

“Oh my God!” they’ll say and then clutch their heart, “Such a good movie!”

No matter when they saw it they remember how it struck them in the chest and left them breathless. It’s a small movie but so gripping, overwhelming, and real that it feels big budget. Set in the heart of a Rio you’ve never seen before, it’s got the familiar music and the bright colors but it’s also filled with dirt and gangs of young kids wielding guns.

Without being a horror movie, this movie still terrifies. It terrifies in a heartbreaking adrenaline rush portraying real-life events in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It horrifies. It feels apocalyptic. The end is near due to all encompassing danger… Only the killer zombies in City of God are children. A

    Lord of the Flies

feeling resonates throughout the movie as well because these ignored, neglected kids are running the slums.

City of God doesn’t just get its overwhelming feeling from the wild ride of kids waving guns around whimsically. It’s shot in a kaleidoscope of bright, thoughtful handheld camera work, up close and personal with all the color, passion, and grit of this particular part of Rio right in your face. The movie starts with a chicken chase through the narrow pathways, up and down stairs before landing on the narrator: Rocket. The movie is a thrilling race from there forward. The stories take us back and forth between time periods so that we see a “Tender Trio” of friends evolve from small fry soccer buddies into a triangle of opposite adults.

Each of them arises as naturally as leaves on a branch from their horrific home. First is Rocket: the shy, watchful innocent who always hides behind a camera. Then there’s beloved Benny, a party boy with an amazing girlfriend who plays best friend to virtually everybody in Rio. And lastly, there’s the terrifying Li’l Zé, who picked up a gun at age six and never stopped shooting. The three started out as friends at a simpler time in the 1960s when the slums were more peaceful; but the poverty, drugs, and crime that followed in the next few decades drive them down different paths, though beloved Benny does play mediator.

Just as there are three main characters, City of God intertwines a trilogy of stories. Each story feels more brutal and heartbreaking than the last until at last you can breath with the redemptive and hopeful ending that seems impossible and yet also completely true and believable. In fact, the most unbelievable thing about City of God is the fact that it’s based on a novel by Paul Lins, who grew up in the City of God. This one will catch you in its grasp from the beginning, so bring your beverages and snacks beforehand. You’re not gonna want to get up from the couch. The movie gets its claws in you and before you know it you’re enmeshed in this world you could never have imagined before and then it will stay with you forever.

–Katherine Recap

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 😉


Free on:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Netflix

Sometimes you just want to see a feelgood movie that’s smart and captivating… but still actually entertaining. Chef hits all these targets! By virtue of its title you’d think Chef might appeal mainly to foodies but it’s for everyone. It’s not deep in the gourmand realm like Babette’s Feast or Big Night but there’s still plenty of food porn for the eater in all of us.

Jon Favreau goes back to his indie roots with this one, writing, directing and starring – like a boss. Chef feels small but combines several movie genres with ease including: feelgood comedy, road movie, and even upstart-becomes-underdog a-la Jerry Maguire. The charismatic amalgam of stars like Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johannson, and John Leguizamo add spice to this already delicious story.

Appropriately titled, this is truly the tale of a chef; Jon Favreau’s character, Carl, is happiest in the kitchen. He loves what he does especially when there’s nobody telling him what to cook. Unfortunately, he works for an old school restaurateur who keeps the menu on ice – as in back to the ice age. Carl’s got dreams about serving pork belly, figuring out Twitter, and winning over the food critic who’s soured on him over the years – Oliver Platt. He’s also got a ten year old son he’s been semi-ignoring over the years who ends up Carl’s social media angel as the story rolls deep into the Interwebs.

Though generally a realistic story anyway, the tipping point scenes in Chef are welcome doses of uber reality. The first is when Carl completely loses it screaming at the reviewer while oblivious to a multitude of cell phones recording the spectacle. This is the scene where Carl wakes from his upstart slumber and realizes he’s being held back creatively by working for the man – in this case Dustin Hoffman in the tiniest role imaginable. That’s it for Carl! He straps on his rocket propulsion boots ready to change his whole life, bootstraps and all. Another great awakening happens soon after when Carl and his son clean their future food truck of the hardened filth crust from its former inhabitants. Suddenly we see how the kitchen work ethic can translate to parenting lessons that last a lifetime when he later explains to his son that he earned his chef’s knife and nobody can ever take it away.

Chef takes off a fabulous foray from this point on, crossing the southern states in a food truck named El Jefe. Carl and son sell scrumptious cuban sandwiches from El Jefe arousing a litany of tweets with each sale. Carl’s sandwiches gain social media momentum thanks to the savvy of his son who’s also surreptitiously making vines of all their artisanal escapades. He’s only ten, officially their marketing guru, traveling cross country, and bonding with Dad like a bro – it’s a tween dream. Along the way the El Jefe food truck establishes such a following that by the time they reach their final destination, LA, the town’s rolling out those Hollywood red carpets for them.

The characters are the most refreshing aspect of Chef and not just because they’re captivating in their respective roles. There’s been a trend lately in movies where tons of characters are just nasty for little reason related to story and it gets old pretty fast for those of us still clinging to Anne Frank’s winsome words about people really being good inside. The antidote for this loathsome practice lies in Chef where the people are hilariously funny without being mean; in fact they’re especially awesome. Carl happens to be blessed with the coolest most beautiful ex wife in the world, the sexiest girlfriend, and the world’s friendliest and true blue coworkers. It’s packed with good eggs and that makes it all the more fun to go along the ride with Carl.

The exuberant soundtrack also gives this flick a delightful boost – an effervescent mix of cultures that perfectly augments the colorful food and feelings onscreen. The scenes where Carl cooks and all we hear is the pan sizzle and music are some of the most delightful screen moments thanks to these carefully selected songs. A fantastic date night movie, there’s a big bow on top of Chef at the end, so if you like your conclusions tied up in the neatest, most perfect packages – you know what to watch next on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

–Katherine Recap

Deadly Prey

Welcome Marc V. Calderaro to Fetchland. In addition to being a regular member of the Magic: The Gathering event coverage team he is a film critic, attorney, and is obsessed with fringe cinema. His first piece for us laments the passing of straight-to-video auteur David A. Prior — BDM

To most people, Tuesday was just another day. But to a very small community, August 18, 2015 was a tragedy. Legendary director David A. Prior passed away, after battling various health failures for a long time. He was 59 years old.

There’s earnest in the low-budget, high-concept genre rips off that graced the early video-store shelves—video stores who were starved for content, any content. Directors like Prior answered the market call for movies on tape, and delivered in spades. Since Prior’s first film Sledgehammer (1983)—the first “shot-on-video” horror film—Prior made flick after flick full of grit and grisly spectacle, all for the lowest production costs possible.

After continuing in the horror genre with Aerobicide (aka Killer Workout), in 1987 Prior made the film he’s most remembered for, Deadly Prey. Full of Prior’s regular tropes—a Vietnam vet haunted by the past, a group of baddies that underestimate the vet’s capabilities, a whole lot of violence—Deadly Prey became the pinnacle of the straight-to-video, Z-Grade action subgenre (Cannon Films were the pinnacle of the B-Grade). It has over-the-top dialogue, low-quality effects, and a veritable shit-ton of heart.

Deadly Prey was my entry way to Prior’s work. In high school, my friends and I trolled the flea markets for whatever VHS tapes looked the craziest. When we saw the Deadly Prey box staring back at us from the dollar bin, we knew we had a winner. And boy did we.


The film is everything you could ever want it to be. Shot in the Alabama woods as a stand-in for Vietnam and everywhere else required (as were most of New Jersey-native Prior’s films), it’s an obvious First Blood rip that cuts out all the boring parts, and has Prior’s brother, Ted Prior, rip the throats out of a bunch of mercenaries while spouting one-liners like, “You’re dead.” And yes, the same Ted Prior who was a Playgirl centerfold.


To this day, I have never scene a kill quite like when Ted Prior’s character, Mike Danton, cuts off an opponent’s arm, beats him with it, then scalps him.

Little wonder this film blew all of our little high-school minds, and furthered my deep obsession with auteur, almost-outsider filmmaking.

Prior went on to make tons of films including directing David Carradine in Future Force and Future Zone, Robert Z’Dar in The Final Sanction, Brigitte Nielsen in Watership Warrior (aka Hostile Environment), Pamela Anderson and Stacey Keach in Raw Justice, and plenty more. Prior has made over 30 films in total.

My personal favorite, one of Prior’s most underrated, is Night Wars. A Rambo-Nightmare on Elm Street hybrid, Night Wars tells the story of two Vietnam vets haunted by their dreams of the POW they had to leave behind. But their dreams seem to be more and more realistic, so they start going to bed armed to the teeth, attempting to save their fallen comrade from the Vietnam camp in their dreams.

There’s a sweetness to the crazy affair, and there’re are plenty of insane, joyful discontinuities. For example, while cutting between the dreams and reality, when the solider shoot in their dreams, they’re actually shooting their weapons in real life too, decimating the ceiling above them. However, the soldiers also throw grenades in their dreams. Where are the grenades going?

Oh, and look out for Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty.

Of all the niche film communities, 80s straight-to-VHS aficionados are among the fiercest. And to this day, Prior’s contributions are regaled throughout the world within our little group. Even as the internet has all-but subsumed the want of VCRs, the VHS tapes of David A. Prior are still passed along from person to person like a rite of passage. Copies of Deadly Prey still fetch high prices on Ebay, and are often hard to come by because no one who owns it wants to sell. Our high-school dollar-bin find is paying dividends.

Heck, Night Wars still doesn’t even have cover art on IMDB. His work is seems to stand defiantly analog.

David A. Prior is a large part of the reason I’m where I am today. And his untimely passing yesterday has hit me a bit harder than I thought it would. In a world of slick digitization, Prior is a testament to the grit of DIY filmmaking, being stuck in the past (even if that past haunts you), and the fact that with enough imagination, the Alabama woods can be just about anywhere in the world.

David A. Prior, you will be missed.

Spoiler Alert: Ant-Man Movie

Posted by Brian David-Marshall | Hollywood, Movies

If you are at all like me — and not like the lucky stiffs who got to attend advance screenings — you will be queuing up to see Paul Rudd in the brand Ant-Man movie this weekend — the latest jaunt into the Marvel cinematic universe. You will probably also be very wary of spoilers before you see it. Well fear not true believers because this edition of Spoiler Alert contains, as always, no actual spoilers. I guess there are some inherent spoilers in the trailer but videographer David Troth Wright does his best every week to unencumber you with any facts by the time they tear your ticket at the theater.

Sun Sing Theatre

(If you have watched the first episode of Kitchen Table Gaming then you have already met one of my oldest friends in Paul Yellovich. In addition to carrying a tube of cookie dough with him at all times Paul has given over no small portion of his life to watching martial arts films. Like me, Paul grew up in New York where these films were shown on the Drive-In Movie most weeks on Channel 5. In the 90’s our group of friends starting digging into the canon of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat, John Woo, and Tsai Hark — among others — and would venture into the cavernous Sun Sing Theater under the Manhattan Bridge to watch the movies on a big screen while eating pork buns and being serenaded by fornicating cats.

In 2000 Paul got his first DVD player and he went down the rabbit hole of martial arts films the way I went down the Magic: The Gathering rabbit hole a few years prior. He has since collected more than 2000 films — and watched more than half of them — and for years maintained a web database on alternate titles for martial arts films. In his own words, he is nuts — but in the best possible way.

I still love the genre especially with the luxury of having my experience curated by Paul. And now you have the luxury of that experience as well as Paul brings us his Top 8 martial arts fight scenes of all time — BDM)

Top 8 Fights in Martial Arts Movies
by Paul Yellovich

So BDM said, “Give me a Top 8 of the best fights in movie history.”
I said,” Kung Fu/Martial Arts? Weapons, no weapons?
Then he said, ”Your choice.”
So I started making a list. Problem is after a while I felt I had a lot of apples and a couple of oranges. So I decided to make this a Top 8 Martial Arts Fights in Movies.

Don’t get overly concerned with the order, we are all friends here.

VIII. Alley fight from Martial Club (1981)
Gordon Lui vs. Wang Lung-wei

Your kung fu is no good. You must go to Shaolin!

From the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio and legendary director Lau Kar Leung, starring legendary martial arts superstar Gordon Lui comes… an ok movie. Which happens all the time; amazing fights in mediocre films.

This scene screams old school. Rivals pause to call out kung fu styles as they move along an impossibly twisty-turny, narrowing alley. An alley built for no other reason than to be another character in this scene.

VII. End Fight from Hong Kong Godfather (1985)
Bryan Leung & Norman Chu vs. Wang Lung-wei & The Rest of the World

Who the hell’s going to clean this mess!

Wang Lung-wei walks out of the alley in Martial Club and goes on to direct this dull movie. But if you made it till the end you were rewarded. Sometimes it’s not about subtlety. Sometimes it’s about an obscene amount of bad fake blood, wholesale murder, a million stuntmen, and falls that make your back hurt.

VI. Old Vs New School fight from Pedicab Driver (1989)
Sammo Hung Kam Bo vs. Lau Kar Leung

A beautiful dance of violence!

This is the equivalent of the Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly dance scene from Ziegfeld Follies. Few have had the impact Sammo Hung Kam Bo and Lau Kar Leung have had on Hong Kong action films. This scene is about a clash of styles. Lau Kar Leung is old school and Sammo Hung Kam Bo new — new being the 1980s. And that premise gives us kung fu comedy that isn’t cringe-worthy.

V. Castle fight from Wheels on Meals (1984)
Jackie Chan vs. Benny “The Jet” Urquidez

Is that the killer from Grosse Pointe Blank?

This is new school martial arts. Gone are the silly costumes and animal styles. Now we have awful 80s clothes, more stuntiness, and more of a western boxing influence. Not that Bruce Lee didn’t give that to us a decade before, but this is the 1980s and Jackie was king.

IV. One Take fight scene from Tom Yum Goong aka The Protector (2005)
Tony Jaa vs. The Editor

Let’s do it again.

When BDM was in Thailand years ago he asked me if there was anything he could bring for me. I wanted a dvd of Ong Bak. You see, Tony Jaa was going to save us. Save us from the crappy martial arts films of the later 90s. Save us from cheap CGI and pop stars who couldn’t fight. He was the new Jackie Chan. But after The Protector he stumbled.

The gimmick of this scene is the single shot with no cuts. The action is a little more tentative and slower than what we usually get from Jaa. But who cares. I would have hated to be the guy that screwed up that take!

III. Alley Fight from SPL aka Kill Zone (2005)
Donnie Yen vs. Wu Jing

Who brings a baton to a knife fight?

Kill Zone is a depressing film with an ending so brutal and controversial it didn’t make it to some countries. This fight is brutal, mean, bloody and to me a little painful to watch. I want to say it’s more realistic, but let’s face it, you’re never going to see two guys in an alley doing this in real life. Let’s just call it raw and less choreographed.

II. Dojo Fight from Fist of Legend (1994)
Jet Li vs. A Dojo

A guy walks into a dojo…

You either love or hate this film. The hate may come from the fact it is a remake, one of many, of Bruce Lee’s classic Fist of Fury from 1972. The love? Jet Li always looks cool. And when he’s tying his shoe at the end…

I. 3 Masters are revealed from Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
3 Masters vs. The Axe Gang

Best of the best!

Kung Fu Hustle is Stephen Chow’s love letter to the films he saw growing up. I had heard people say Kung Fu Hustle might be the greatest kung fu movie of all time. Actually I’ve said that myself.

When I thought about why I find this scene worthy to be on this list I thought I’d discuss the music. I love it. It takes it to another level. But then I thought no, I love this scene because it’s heroic.

Three masters come out of hiding to save the people of their little crappy town.

Heroes. That’s what makes a great martial arts fight. We root for the hero. We want them to win. Winning sometimes means literally cutting the other guy to shreds. Sometimes it’s just showing how much better of a fighter they are.