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Man of Steel August 31, 2013

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I’m unsure what to think of this. On the one hand I liked it. I liked seeing the earlier years of Clark Kent’s life, the problems he faced as his powers developed, the scenes in which he travels by himself trying to discover the man he is (which resembles parts of Batman Begins) I liked the initial thought writer David Goyer had when it came to reintroducing this character, by having a realistic approach, showing how the world would react to this Alien from another world.

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Iron Man 3 May 8, 2013

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IM3 comes off as the weakest of all the Iron Man films (including cameos). In the run up to seeing this there was all this talk of the film taking a different direction, posters and trailers showed a darker tone. But in the end we got more of the same but far less entertaining and far more unrealistic villains. Ok, granted Iron Man fought Aliens in ‘The Avengers’ last year which was just as unrealistic and granted I was drunk for the first hour or so of watching this movie, but it still wasn’t good.

Why the heck did Stark need to be out of the suit for so long and why did he need to discover himself (yet again) in this movie and why did he need to go up against another corporate competitor and what the hell is it with those glowing people. For some reason I’m reminded of glow worms from my childhood. I kinda liked that the Iron Man movies at least had bad guys that were a bit closer to reality. The first part of the movie seemed to be going well but it dragged on after, Tony Stark tries to be James Bond and in the last 15 minutes shit just exploded everywhere. Screw the 3D. My Beer goggles do a better job.
The Mandarin. I liked Ben Kingsly as the Mandarin, he was great in many ways. But yes, I did see that twist coming because all movies are pulling the same move these days.

I think we’re done here right? Even Robert Downy Jr is considering hanging up his armor. I still want to see the character and actor in the Avengers sequels but if this is the direction of the standalones then no thanks.

Favorite Quote: “Ever since that big guy with the hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety’s kinda had its day.” - Aldrich Killian

Dredd 3-D November 14, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Cinema, Science Fiction, Comic Book , 1 comment so far

Stylish, uncomplicated, great soundtrack and has that Chick who played Sarah Connor in the Terminator series as the main villain.
I’ve known about Judge Dredd growing up, was familiar with the Character but had never read a comic which featured him although I had enough interest to go see the Sylvester Stallone flick back in the early 1990s. But Mr. “I Am the LAW!” didn’t really do it for people, neither did Rob Schneider apparently.

This new movie just called ‘Dredd’ is a better film even if it looks less of a big budget movie and most of it takes place in the same building for the movie’s duration. It’s a far more gritter character this time and seems closer to the comics say fans. Karl Urban is pretty great as Dredd and I like that for the entire film the mystery of the character stays behind the helmet and the intimidation stays on the outside.

I had no choice but to see this is 3D. Was pissed off that I had to pay extra for something I didn’t want. I wonder how many others this might have put off because ‘Dredd 3d’ (yes 3d is part of the title) seemed to be mainly shown as a movie in 3D with little options for film goers to see it in anything else. I’ve personally had it with 3D as have a large part of the movie going audience. It’s a format that is not suited for everyone. Worse though is not having the option to watch it in 2D. So paying extra for something you don’t want is going to push people away. It’s unfortunate because it’s a film worth seeing and a film worthy of a sequel. But it seemed to have shot itself in both feet before even getting made because the funding that the film got was guaranteed by it promising to be filmed in 3D. While other Hollywood mainstream movies might get away with that it won’t work for a lower budgeted un-fondly remembered character.

It was the positive word of mouth that got me into see it. Shame if there is no sequel. So I want to do my part and say, Go see it people!

Favorite Quote: “Ma-Ma is not the law… I am the law.” - Judge Dredd

The Dark Knight Rises July 27, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Cinema, Comic Book , 7 comments

And so ends the Dark Knight Trilogy. Having spent 7 years watching these three films from Ireland to Japan to Hong Kong I almost feel i’ve been on a journey with Batman.

The Dark Knight Rises isn’t the best of the three films. I still love ‘Batman Begins‘ for where they finally took the character and ‘The Dark Knight’ for exploring the response to that character through the Joker, it too is just a perfect film with brilliant performances. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is certainly the most epic of the three and brings a fitting conclusion to the story of Bruce Wayne/Batman so much so that I almost cried near the end which was perfect. Getting to the end a little less than perfect, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a brilliant film. I am only measuring this against what has come before and the high standard Nolan has set for himself.
TDKR is the most comic bookish of the Batman films Nolan has done. I thought with TKD anyone and their Grandma could watch it just as a film. Here Nolan gravitates a little more towards the fans. Before it was a movie set in the real world that contained comic book characters, now it’s a movie about comic book characters.

The scale of the film is huge. As I said in my ‘Inception’ review, Christopher Nolan is a traditional film maker. Here he makes a movie, movie. I mean he uses CGI quite sparingly and from the opening scenes of the movie I feel far more impressed with what I see because it’s not just some CGI effect. It looks completely real and adds an element of realism that is necessary for such a character as Batman.

Catwoman. Ann Hathaway is a sexy Catwoman but the character herself isn’t fleshed out so much and the relationship between herself and Batman isn’t as interesting compared to Keaton and Pfeiffer in ‘Batman Returns‘. I loved ‘Batman Returns’ when it came out, the relationship between the two characters, exploring the dichotomy between them was fascinating to watch. We don’t get that so much here. We see Selina the person.

Bane. Doesn’t have the onscreen presence of the Joker and I do think the mask takes away some of the performance of Hardy while at the same time adding to the mystery of the character and his unstoppable force. I could understand his voice fine for about 99% of the film but I did find it coming in too clear, the audio sounding unnatural, almost as if dubbed over the film. Tom Hardy as Bane is the most threatening looking Villain Batman has ever faced and the way Batman pounds on this guy to no effect shows Batman losing in a very different manner to how he lost to the Joker. By the way how stupid was Batman to sleep with someone and then get into the biggest fight of his life. Boxers and sports stars avoid that stuff until after their big sporting event. Batman really did underestimate this guy…

The story. I’m getting a ‘Dark Knight Returns’ comic vibe from the story and I felt after watching ‘The Dark Knight’ that Nolan might take the Trilogy in this Direction. Here we have an older more fragile Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to help Gotham once more like the DKR comic. There is also parts of the ‘Knightfall’ comic in this with the breaking of the Bat along with bits of ‘No Mans land’. We see a return of Batman twice in this film. I thought the parts at the beginning dealing with his return and the middle would better fit into one continuous thread of Batman’s return. There is an obvious analogy to the world in recent years with the rich standing above the poor and the system that protects the people no longer fully working.

Alfred. Michael Caine gives it his all and it’s his best turn at Alfred yet. Give the man an award I say. Any actor that can stir an audiences emotions like him deserves another Oscar. He portrays Alfred as a loving Father figure who is seeing his adopted son losing himself in his battle against life. He isn’t as large a presence in the film as he was in the previous ones and I kinda miss that. While he was more of a sidekick in the others here he has become the Bat computer, dispensing relevant plot information to Bruce Wayne about Bane and his accomplices. Where does Alfred get this info from? Off the streets? It’s one minor little nit pick I have that here we have a film running at 2 hours 45 minutes and there is still a lot of exposition from characters, giving info about certain things. Take Blake’s explanation of how he discovered who Bruce really was. Couldn’t we see said scenes instead?

John Blake. He has some very cool scenes, especially towards the end with his real name being mentioned and then what follows after that…. I geeked out completely. It put a massive smile on my face. I liked Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character. He’s someone almost above Batman and Gordon in the Morals department, he gives no ground to the idea of doing a little wrong for the greater good, he believes that the system is no longer working and quite clearly common sense has abandoned the police department.

The ending of the film is perfect way to end the franchise and it’s an emotional blow out that I haven’t really felt with the end of any other trilogy. It’s sad, touching, heartwarming and beautiful.
As I was coming back home on the train having just seen the film and having a big dumb school girl smile on my face I suddenly stopped and thought.

“Did Nolan just pull an inception on us with that ending??!”

It’s food for thought. Of course things point to the happier ending which is how I originally perceived it,but I do love the way Nolan did that.

As to the future of Batman in movies there seems to be talk of a Justice League Movie on the way that he might be in. Nolan has completed his Batman story too so we won’t be returning to that world. Unless… we continue with John Blake as Batman. Kinda like Terry McGinnis of ‘Batman Beyond’ (they already have a flying batmobile). I wouldn’t mind seeing something tonally similar rather than your typical comic book film that has flooded the cinemas in recent years. Then again I wouldn’t mind seeing ‘Batman Beyond’ on the big screen too.

Favorite Quote: “A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.” - Batman

The Amazing Spider-Man July 8, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Cinema, Comic Book , 2 comments

It’s a good film but I couldn’t help thinking how Sam Raimi did things better. I just wasn’t connected to it as much as I was with the original Spider-Man. The Spider-Man of 2002 nailed the story, the character, the origin. The wrestling Spider-Man, Uncle Ben’s death, the set up with the villains, the young, fragile teenage boy thrown into a life of a superhero and trying to hold all aspects of his life together. It’s tough being Peter Parker.

Thing is, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is already a cool looking guy, already stands up to bullies, already has the girl interested in him. What really changes for the character? He becomes a superhero, goes through some sh*t but he’s still the same guy when he comes out of it at the end. Who is Toby Maguire’s Parker at the end of his movie? In the beginning, he is weak, a geek and definitely does not have the eye of the girls. At the end he is not totally willing to be Spider-Man, guilt over his Uncle’s death has thrust him into that life and it reminds him of his greatest failure. There is a lot of inner conflict there, he is still a geek, still the boy next door but he knows who he is. Spider-Man.

Uncle Ben and Aunt May: For these minor characters the star power of Sheen and Field is not required and I see it as something of a publicity boost giving weight to the films cast. With all due respect to the fine acting talents of Martin Sheen and Sally Field I just like Raimi’s version of Uncle Ben and Aunt May more and thought them to be closer to their comic book counterparts. The most glaringly absent line from the movie is by Uncle Ben which should have been “with great power comes great responsibility”. I think it is a quintessential piece to the character of Spider-Man and while Raimi didn’t quite have a home run with his Spider-man films that basic line still rang true even by film 3 .

A groan worthy nitpick. Why did Spider-Man’s identity need to be revealed so much in such unoriginal ways? He shows Gwen Stacy who he is, he is unmasked by her father and the most pathetic was the lizard discovering who he was because he had put his name on his Camera. Please…. Even there is a point where Aunt May might seem to know that Peter is Spider-Man. Hate to drone one about this but compare it to the reveals of Spider-Man’s identity in the 2002 film, the familiar kiss with Mary Jane, Peter’s cut arm noticed by Osborn. So much more impactful.

The Lizard. The origin story of Spider-Man takes time away from the Lizard of course and I can’t help thinking again what Raimi might have done with that character. Lizard seems to have little necessity except for someone for Spider-Man to fight and have action scenes with. The fights themselves aren’t on par with what’s come before.

There seems to be a rehash of scenes from Spider-Man 2002 early on. A reboot so close to that film is unnecessary to me. While the story here is changed the basic points of Peter dealing with his powers are similar, as is Uncle Ben’s death and there is also that “America is great” undertone with the citizens of New York once again lending a hand to Spider-Man as we glimpse the flag of the united states on a wall in the background. I don’t find it as relevant as it was back in 2002 for obvious reasons. Marc Webb just hasn’t done enough to reinvent this character and only shows how it pales in comparison.

Kids will probably love this and like it more than the originals for no other fact than they were in nappies when the original Spider-Man films were released.
The after credits scene. No idea what that was about but it didn’t interest me at all in the slightest or get me excited for the next film except to think we need to wait another 2-3 years to find out what the hell that was about.

So 10 years after watching Spider-Man (2002) in Dublin and walking out with a smile on my face I leave the cinema here in Hong Kong and frown. These franchise reboots, re-imaginings will not sustain themselves unless there is a strong creative force behind it that cares about the material and wants to deliver. I think Directors like Nolan, Raimi, Whedon get it. But here I believe Director Mark Webb was chosen because he could create a teenage romance to attract a wider audience or women and the credence is on the money that can be pulled in.

Favorite Quote: “Secrets have a cost. They’re not free. Not now, not ever” - Aunt May

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Forever May 30, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : Animation, DVD/Video/T.V., Comic Book , add a comment

If you are any sort of Turtles fan then you gotta see this. I got into the original show “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles” back in the late 80s after watching it at a Cousins house. Of course it became a massive hit and was the next big thing after “The Real Ghostbusters” for me. Trying to get all the Hero (Ninja) Turtles action figures for christmas was difficult as it was that years big toy seller. Who doesn’t remember people going around shouting Cowabunga! This was the age of dumb teenage slang and we were getting a healthy feed of it from this and the likes of ‘Bill & Ted’, ‘Waynes World’ etc. Hero Turtles introduced young kids to skateboards, pizza and Ninjas with the educational side of the show teaching us about great Italian painters. Their names at least…. As usual some parents groups complained the show was too violent and a bad influence on kids. I didn’t think so even though I did get in serious trouble for giving a karate kick to someones eye.

I started to eat more pizzas although I wasn’t big on Pizzas at the time. My Aunt used to always make a massive Pizza for me which was almost half a meter long. I always appreciated that but there was always still some of it left over in the freezer by the time she made the next one and you know what, she’d still do it today if I were closer to Home.
I was thinking today how the show had an influence on me even now. I was not wholly conscious till now that I actually possess most of the weapons the turtles had, all except for Raphael’s sais.

The animation itself was based on a comic book series and the popularity of the animation spawned three live action movies, a CGI movie and numerous other animated and live action series from America and Japan.
‘Turtles Forever’ is quite fun to watch as it brings together the universe of the original animated Turtles with the newer darker animated series of recent years showing the contrasts between both. It is big on adventure and fun but does take the micky out of the earlier animated series, there is a fantastic homage to the original comics and nods to every single interpretation of the franchise to date.

If you have or had any interest in Turtles throughout your life this would be worth seeing at least once.

Favorite Quote: “I cut two on the way down. Donatello takes out a third with his staff.” - Leonardo

The Avengers May 6, 2012

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Starting back in 2008 with ‘Iron Man’, ‘The Avengers’ have finally assembled. ‘Iron Man‘, ‘Hulk‘, ‘Thor‘ and ‘Captain America’ get to bounce off each other to comedic and dramatic effect which is a heck of a lot of fun to see and what we have all waited long for.

It takes a while to get going as each hero is introduced and rounded up before the proverbial poop hits the fan and they all head to New York to fight off invading Aliens while leveling the city in the process. I feel it’s missing something though. A bit of heart and soul, it’s some yummy action but I felt like the meal was better than the conversation if you catch my spliff. With some of these Marvel movies you kinda feel the whole thing is a process to get to this point and when we get to this film it sort of feels like a process also of one thing leading to another to bring us to the goods at the end. The characters get familiar with each other a bit too quickly. Visually the movie looks very pretty, the heroes fighting side by side is some nice eye candy and fortunately for once  the action is clear and visible unlike Bay’s Transformers which was too fast and close to the screen.

I really enjoyed Hulk Vs Thor which brought back memories of Hulk Vs Thor in the incredible Hulk TV series. I think one of the reasons Hulk became the favorite Character of the movie is that he is shown in a more heroic light for once rather than the monster alter ego of a mild manner scientist. In his previous movies he has been shown as a villain to that Banner has tried to rid himself off. It’s a shame we don’t see Edward Norton return to the role and play of Robert Downey Jr. but Mark Ruffalo does a nice job and I think for a movie like this where Hulk is the hero he doesn’t need to enlarge his character.

I was disappointed that Loki is the main Villain here as I find the character to be weak and not villainous enough. The generic alien invasion force weren’t all too profound either and it seems like future sequels might deal with more invading aliens which I think was already well covered in this movie.

DC comics. Where is your Justice League Movie?!? While I really enjoy Nolan’s Batman movies the one good thing about his trilogy ending is that it opens up the possibility of doing a DC movie with Multiple Heroes. It would be great if we had a Batman and Superman movie first followed by a Justice League movie. But they need to get their asses into gear and work on bringing character’s such as ‘The Flash’ to the Big Screen.

It is pretty amazing that Marvel were able to pull this movie off and get these characters and actors together in one film. Hats off to them. I don’t know where they could go for the sequel as it will have to be on a larger scale. I find it hard to even imagine these characters going back to their own series of films. I’d love to see more Marvel Characters feature in a sequel. Spider-man is out so far, maybe Daredevil? I’d like to see more well know characters added. Scarlett Johansson is nice as black widow (don’t like the shorter hair) but she isn’t a superhero that can match the rest of the cast.

Favorite Quote: “Shakespeare in the Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?” - Tony Star/Iron Man

Thor July 14, 2011

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Thor is another perfectly well made film from Marvel. Visually it looks great, there is a strong cast of actors to geek out about, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, James T Kirk’s father as Thor and Luke Skywalker’s Ma. Having Kenneth Branagh as Director seemed like a stroke of genius for the grandeur of Thor’s storytelling. They pretty much nailed it.

My only real pick with it is that the film feels a little bit on the small scale, visuals and casting aside the story seems rather on a smaller scale, even placing the film in a small town seems to strengthen that thought. This isn’t really a problem for me. My grip is that it just seems to represent a somewhat recent trend in movies to save goods till for the sequel. I can understand that, but also I want the biggest bang for the buck. I want the Chris Nolan philosophy of movie making. Don’t hold anything back for sequels, make the best film you can now. With “The Avengers” coming next year I thought this movie was holding back the goods for that. Compared to “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man” the importance of this movie is the introduction f the character of Thor, introducing him well and blending the fantastical world of Norse Gods with the more scientific approach of Iron Man etc.

My first knowledge of Thor came from the 1980s movie “Adventures in Babysitting” (i kid you not). A mechanic named Dawson is mistaken by the little girl for Thor. My other knowledge of Thor comes from the early 90s animated Incredible Hulk and Fantastic Four series. I also saw the character in the Incredible Hulk Returns. Thor is pretty cool guy.  Chris Hemsworth does a great job of playing the arrogant God of Thunder, he plays the humor of the character’s ignorance well and by the end has matured Thor into a Hero worthy of his Father and the audience. His physic is impressive and doesn’t just look like a beefed up guy but one who i quite athletic. Portman plays the heroine and is not completely a ditzy but obviously more attracted to Thor for his biceps than anything else. The relationship wasn’t completely sold to me and I’m growing a bit tired of shoving the love relationship in these movies to attract the female audience. It’s a necessary evil but it’s just not fresh anymore. I guess ‘m more interested in the flawed alcoholic super heroes these days.

Favorite Quote: “She searches for you.” - Heimdall

Iron Man 2 June 29, 2010

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I found this rather enjoyable. I remember when I watched “Iron Man” two years ago I was a bit critical of it. I watched it recently again and felt it had less problems, maybe because my expectations were lower for the second viewing. With Iron Man I felt it was only providing a taster of what was to come as a lot of films seem to do these days. The appetizer before the main course. Iron Man 2 certainly ramps things up and provides the action I was wanting from the first movie. There are more comedic moments too especially with Stark at his Birthday party and Stark talking with Nick Fury at the Donut shop. Downey lets his hair down more here.

The funniest part of the Movie though was the Stan Lee cameo, best one yet! I hope they continue this trend with further Iron Man sequels as Lee’s cameos in them are really fun to watch. This one gave me a good laugh.

Although this time the film seems more generic. I found the switching back to Micky Rourke’s character as he “slowly” made his plans, suit and documents to the US taking up unnecessary time and reminding me of older comic book and 80s action movies with the bad guy on his way to give the good guy a good ass kicking. The good guy comes back from the ass kicking of course after training/building a better suit, weapon etc.

Ivan Danko/Whiplash is a bit of a generic villain too. One that I lacked sympathy for compared to Dr. Octopus in Spider-man 2. I was glad that the Villain is one on equal footing of technological intelligence as Stark. I like that the Character is Russian as I was hoping for a villain the likes of Titanium man.

At times I wondered if Stark’s disease is more of an allusion to the Demon in the bottle storyline then actually doing it. We see him drunk, out of control, he is sick, he has a problem he can’t talk to anyone about, War Machine has to take the reins from him. War Machine is, well, War Machine! A walking gun advertisement.  I’d like to see the demon in the bottle storyline in the next sequel but I think they’ve done a bit of it here already. Maybe it’s too dark for a family audience? But it might happen since Downy and Favre seem to think we are seeing the early stages of Stark’s drinking problem here. For a sequel which I have no doubt there will be, where will it go?  I hope they do the demon in the bottle storyline. Possibly we’ll see the Mandarin too. I hope for more Scarlett Johansson, the red headed bomb shell black widow is sex.on.legs.

The after credits scene isn’t nearly as interesting as the first film. I thought finding something like Captain America in ice might have been more exciting than what we got. But obviously it’s referencing the Marvel film furthest ahead in development.

Some geeky things I want to address from my own pure geekness. Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory) storyboarded parts of this, in particular the action scenes. Love this guys work.  His eyes are in the wide scope when he draws action.

It’s not a Dark Knight beater or a Spider Man 2 beater. But it’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s still a bit too long of a film like the first one. I thought a more tighter film would be better.

Favorite Quote: “You have *a* big gun, you’re not *the* big gun.” - Iron Man

Watchmen April 19, 2009

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Zack Snyder forgot to make a Film here while attempting to do a faithful adaptation of the Graphic Novel. He missed the point. You can’t adapt it. There’s just too much material to adapt, the same goes for Book adaptations. Not even Peter Jackson attempted this with the “Lord of the Rings”. But Syner apparently did his best to do so here.
While it may be sacrilege in some circles to cut this graphic novel down to  a usual script size it is in the end the only realistic way to do it justice as a Film unless you want to totally alienate the movie going audience which is what it did.

I ‘m not a fan of Zack Snyder. I didn’t watch “Dawn of the Dead”, I didn’t like “300″, I thought it’s all image and no soul. Watchmen also is too much style over substance. In trying to accomplish the impossible the film lags, without focus, without pace.  What he had to do as any film maker would have was to slim it down to a film format as previous scripts for this had done. Give it a definitive beginning, middle and end. Focus on more important or interesting characters. Rorschach and the The Comedian are the most fascinating characters that are also played well by the actors in those roles.

Rorschach reminds me of “The Question” from DC comics. I believe Rorschach is based on “The Question” since Alan Moor couldn’t use characters from DC. But Rorschach is more like a Dark Knight Returns Batman in terms of personality (note Rorschach is beaten by Miller’s Batman in a cameo in the comic “Countdown Final Crisis). “The Nite Owl” is clearly based on Batman and the movie even shows him saving the lives of what appears to be Bruce Waynes parents.

I had debated reading watchmen before the movie was released as I was hyped by the buzz surrounding it. I decided to wait and read it after since my love of films gave me preference over the events that take place in the story and I didn’t want the movie to be spoiled for me. However I felt that the movie itself pretty much gave away who the villain was. It’s disappointing that that character plays such a small part throughout most of the movie only to presume a larger presence at the end.

While I commend them for giving this a R (18) rating I no longer feel you can pull in the audience with this rating. It’s not like the 80s or early 90s. A large audience is young kids now and older people just don’t enjoy having to listen to some kid talking on their cell phone during the movie when they could be at home watching this on DVD and BlueRay.
One thing i’m glad of is he didn’t make the movie contemporary and have it relate to some world issue of today. The alternate universe in which this film takes place is interesting due to the time setting as it’s a product of the 80s when we had this and Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” ruling comics.

Favorite Quote: “You see, Doctor, God didn’t kill that little girl. Fate didn’t butcher her and destiny didn’t feed her to those dogs. If God saw what any of us did that night he didn’t seem to mind. From then on I knew… God doesn’t make the world this way. We do.” - Rorschach

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