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Heroes and villains

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We're just a few weeks away from the Whistler Film Festival so the local screens will soon come alive with incredible stories from across Canada and beyond (with over 20 female-directed features this year too!). Until then though, the onslaught of super heroes and kiddie flicks continues as "Holiday Movie Season" officially kicks in.

As Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok continues dominating the box office (coming up on $666 million worldwide at press time) DC Comics steps into the arena this week with Justice League. The DC flicks leading into this one have not been the best but luckily, Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman was one of the most beloved films of the year and Gal Gadot reprises the role here, alongside Ben Affleck's Batman, Henry Cavill's Superman, and Jason Momoa's Aquaman (among others, Amber Heard even pops in!!)

There's been a big media blackout on this one (and no pre-screeners for the rest of us) but some critics were allowed to tweet, and early word is positive. Like most of DC's films lately, this one has some uneven plot issues, but the good news is director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, Batman v Superman) is working off a script by Joss Whedon (Avengers, Toy Story, Speed) and Chris Terrio (Argo, Batman v Superman) and it sounds like they get a lot closer to magic this time.

Early word is that Justice League is a lot more fun, the performances are strong (from the heroes at least, the villains are a bit lacking as they almost always are in comic movies) and there's plenty to be excited about, including what may be one of the best action sequences laid down in years. (Snyder has the potential to reinvent how action is delivered, he's already done it once.) So, in a big-budget comic-movie smackdown, Justice League looks like a good opponent for Taika Waititi's Thor-Hulk buddy comedy.

Also opening: The Star. Because somewhere, someone at Sony with tens of millions of dollars to spend said, "you know what would be cool? The Nativity story, you know the one about baby Jesus... but we tell it from the perspective of the animals in the manger. Like what if the donkey was the hero?"

And then the next guy (and for sure it was a guy) goes, "Hey that worked in Shrek, let's do it." Sony Pictures Animation (who also put out The Emoji Movie this year) is struggling, but fear not: Pixar's Day of the Dead-inspired Coco hits screens next Wednesday.

Wonder also opens this week, about a Grade 5 kid with a deformed face suddenly dealing with having to go to public school. It looks like an Oscar bait version of Mask with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as the parents. A tear-jerker family film for sure.

The comic book good times extend to the small screen this week as well. Netflix drops The Punisher series on Friday, Nov. 17. In the comics, when you're a kid, The Punisher rules because he just rolls around in a sick van murdering bad guys, and he can frontkick a sucker in the face even as he grabs him by the shoulders (try it, it's hard). In the "real" world, however, The Punisher is a tricky pony to harness. The dude is actually a bad guy — we no longer live in a time where "revenge" is a viable reason to give yourself the powers of judge, jury and executioner. To be true to the Punisher character requires a very innovative creative team willing to go to some pretty dark places they don't care if they come back from. That can work on a 100-minute dark comedy of ultraviolence but on a 13-hour Netflix series, it could make for a grim slog.

Early word is Netflix avoids the issue by focusing more on Frank Castle, the man who becomes the Punisher, and dishes up a dark, adult drama with political intrigue. Fear not, there's still lots of very brutal punishing, but it doesn't dip into total torture porn (although word is three of the first four episodes feature a dude tied to a chair, so don't quote me on that).

And most importantly, it's snowing and the ski hill is opening. TGR's Rogue Elements screens this Friday, Nov.17 (opening day!) at the Maury Young Arts Centre for anyone looking to get double stoked.

Check your landings kids, it looks deep and hackable, but it's also mid-November. There's a long season ahead. Stay on point.

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