Justice League – Review

The DC movie franchise returns to the cinemas after Wonder Woman dominated the Box Office with their second film for 2017, Justice League and it was pretty good.

Justice League is set some time after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman is dead and that starts to wake up three mysterious boxes. The boxes are ‘Mother Boxes’ powerful cubes from the planet Apokalips (but that isn’t really mentioned in the film). These boxes either called to or freed Steppenwolf, a New God (again not really mentioned in the film) who had tried to bring the boxes together before but failed. This time, he doesn’t plan on failing. This is where Batman realises he must bring together a team of superheroes to stop this alien threat.

While the ‘getting the team together’ scenes weren’t bad, they felt poorly paced. In usual DC Movie style they jump from scene to scene like a comic book rather than a film where usually some form of transition is required. And maybe that’s it, I’ve said in the past that these films have captured the comic book style more than other series has. So maybe these are the ‘real’ comic book adaptations? That aside, there were a few similarities to Marvel’s The Avengers but the Justice League coming together had a little more nostalgia for me (the Justice League animated series being one of my favourite cartoons as a kid) and it was good to see these characters come together on screen.

The team consists of Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg (plus – spoilers… eventually, Superman). The characters have a good dynamic with each other and it feels more like a team that actually likes each other more than a team that is forced together for a common goal. Batman (Ben Affleck) continues his gruff and grizzled persona but has lightened up a bit for this film (almost like Superman’s death actually made him happier) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still the elegant bad-ass who appeared in the solo film earlier this year. Both of these characters are good but we know who they are, its time to meet the new guys.

Barry Allen aka ‘The Flash’ (Ezra Miller) is a socially awkward kid who after being struck by lighting can now move at incredible speeds. He is the comic relief of this film, very different to his television counterpart played by Grant Gustin, I didn’t hate him as much as I thought I would, he’s not a bad charater and Ezra Miller has done a decent job bringing him to the silver screen. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is a man of two worlds that belongs in neither. He’s gruff and grizzled like Batman but doesn’t have the responsibility and tends to help only when he wants to. Jason Momoa does a great job cutting down the campy versions of Aquaman people are used to and I am very much looking forward to his first solo outing next year. Rounding out the team is Cyborg, after an accident that leaves Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) on death’s door, his father harnesses one of the Mother Boxes to bring him back to life. This results in the Mother Box grafting cybernetic limbs that end up taking over almost his whole body. He stays in control most of the time but on occasion the cybernetics take charge, this can put him in a little trouble. Cyborg has a good but rarely touched on character arc that I would have loved to see more on.

I wont touch on Superman but as many expected, he does return.

The villain Steppenwolf lacked a lot. I feel that he probably did have motive but it wasn’t confirmed by him, some of the characters assumed his motivations and that’s really all you have to go on. He didn’t pose much of a threat and his end goal was the same as Zod’s in Man of Steel – ‘turn Earth in to a planet like my planet’. I didn’t like him and he felt like a overcorrection to BvS where they went big with Doomsday and the Death of Superman story and the producers probably thought that using Darksied straight after might be overkill.

Like in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there was no coherent progression in the story. It was a collection of parts of the story. There’s definitely parts missing and again that comes down to Zack Snyder’s film making style. With that its time to talk production… and oh boy what a production this was. Many script revisions, two composers, two directors and one digitally removed moustache. With $25 Million worth of reshoots the story was likely changed significantly but you really can see what scenes are directed by Joss Whedon and what scenes are Snyder’s (Zack Snyder having to step down in Post Production after the death of his daughter). The reshoots coincided with Henry Cavill’s shooting schedule for Mission: Impossible 6, for which he had grown a moustache which he was contracted to keep while filming, so Justice League’s VFX team had to resort to using special effects to digitally remove the moustache in post.

Junkie XL was originally composing the score for Justice League after working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice but was replaced by former Batman and Batman Returns composer, Danny Elfman. What an addition to the film it was, Elfman included his original Batman theme from 1989, worked in John William’s Superman theme from 1978 and kept Wonder Woman’s new bad ass theme. I love Danny Elman scores and I think they really belong in a comic book film. I hope Warner Bros. keeps Elfman around because he can add one thing to the DC films that Marvel is missing, good and memorable music.

With all the criticisms and all the praise I have with this film I find that there are parts that I loved and parts that I absolutely did not. It’s rare to have a movie this polarising. However I feel that the pros just narrowly outweigh the cons. It’s great to see this team together on screen finally and I would love to see more. Justice League is a step in the right direction and tonally the future of the franchise should exist somewhere between this film and Wonder Woman. I want to see Warner Bros. ramp up production in this area so we never have to wait more than a year (Justice League in November 2017 to Aquaman in December 2018) ever again.

Justice League: Average

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review

Zack Snyder’s attempt at the movie we’ve wanted to see for decades fell short of expectations.

In anticipation to Wonder Woman, I watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice again, so here’s the review. PLEASE BE WARNED! While I will try not to go into specifics, there could be some spoiled plot points. While this is a review, it will include some analysis and ‘ways I would do it better’.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice never had the excitement around it that the idea of a Superman/Batman film had. That came from the divisiveness of 2013’s Man of Steel, which I enjoyed for the most part.

The main problem Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is the Dawn of Justice part. This is two movies. The first involves Batman and Superman both being manipulated in to hating each other, they both had their reasons but they were played upon and had their perspective skewed. The story would involve the main characters investigating what seem to be separate leads that all end up being part of the one plan. That plan, was to have Superman kill Batman and that this scenario would have one of two outcomes:

1. To show the world either that Superman would kill someone – God can’t be all good. Or,

2. To show the world that Batman killed Superman – God can’t be all powerful.

Now to me, that sounds like a good story. A little bit of action sprinkled in at certain points, some mystery and intrigue, all culminating in a finale that pits the two DC Comics greats in a battle of Brains (and money) vs. Brawn. Naturally, of course before killing one another they realise they are actually on the same side and they go after the real threat that has been influencing them from the start. We put that threat in jail, while he is in there he plots something bigger, upon his eventual escape, which will be the story of the next film. 2 hours and 10 minutes, simple story, easy to follow, everybody forgets their so-so reaction to Man of Steel, bring on the next film, ‘Dawn of Justice’.

Except that didn’t happen. Instead, that story more or less ends around the 2 hour mark and the remaining 30 minutes of its run time resulted in a ridiculous mess that features an overpowered enemy that came out of nowhere, with very little set up or reason for being there, a character that while awesome (spoilers: it’s Wonder Woman), probably shouldn’t have been in a movie called ‘Batman v Superman’ and particular plot point that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of a projector til ‘Man of Steel 3’. Some shots from the last 30 minutes looked good, but a lot of them were just so cluttered by lighting bolts and laser beams that it lost all meaning. Some of the shots were harder to determine what was going on than being able to determine who’s fighting who in a Transformers movie.

There are more issues with the film, including pacing, writing and editing etc. But I don’t want to be so negative on this film, because there is something there. There’s a movie in here, I have ever since I saw this film believed that. All I need to do it sit down in front of my computer one day and maybe make a cut of my own to prove it. (I don’t want to alarm you but the writers and editor from BvS:DoJ are doing the same jobs on Justice League.)

I very much enjoyed Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman. He gave the older, gruffer character that the story asked for and we were looking for. That said, I like most of the acting in this film. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams have a shallow dynamic, dialogue-wise but their body language and the look in their eyes said more than the script could. Gal Gadot did a pretty decent job as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and delivered in my favourite shot of the entire film – a small smile during the big fight at the end, a little thing that said so much about the character, it said: “This is fun.”, “I’ve missed this” and “So you want a fight, huh?” all at the same time.

Jeremy Irons brought a new side to Alfred Pennyworth that we hadn’t seen before and I didn’t mind Holly Hunter’s role as a senator leading an enquiry in to Superman. Lawrence Fishburne brought nothing to the role as Perry White and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor left a lot to be desired… there were moments of proper evil to his character but sadly it was overshadowed by his ‘no one comprehends my genius’ shtick mixed with a fair amount of overacting.

The first 2 hours of the movie weren’t bad, it probably could have been done with being an hour and 40, but the story was enjoyable and could be followed somewhat. That being said, this is a comic book movie, and yes, the characters are from comic books, I know. I mean this movie paces like a comic book, it could even do with the odd “Meanwhile” tags in the top left corner in a few scenes, if this film was adapted in to a comic book – it would work. I think that is what sets the current DC films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe apart, Marvel makes movies based on its characters, they have adapted story lines, DC, or at least Zack Snyder seems to adapt the panels. Which is why 300 and Watchmen worked for the fans of those movies, its what they were expecting. It’s not what fans were expecting after Marvel had completed its ‘Phase One’. I think the culture had changed.

After all this though, I like parts of this movie, so it doesn’t fail completely in my opinion. I see this movie for it’s merits and what it tried to do. Don’t get me wrong, I have ideas about how you can fix this and effectively write this movie off – which in the DC Universe at least can be done very easily.

2 Stars

Ben Affleck to star as Batman in second Man of Steel

Actor/Director/Academy Award Winner, Ben Affleck has been cast as the next screen version of Bruce Wayne/Batman for the sequel to Man of Steel.

“We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some. His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character.” – Greg Silverman (WB President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production)

“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.” Zack Snyder (Director of both Man of Steel and its sequel)

“We are so thrilled that Ben is continuing Warner Bros.’ remarkable legacy with the character of Batman. He is a tremendously gifted actor who will make this role his own in this already much-anticipated pairing of these two beloved heroes.” Sue Kroll (WB President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution)

This will not be Ben Affleck’s first time as a costume clad superhero, he starred as Daredevil in the 2003 film. So we can already get the feel for what he will look like under the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight. Very little is known about the direction that the film will take other than the appearance of Batman. What we do know is that the untitled sequel will be written by David S. Goyer who was one of the key writers in the Nolan Batman trilogy… so if anyone can write a good adventure for the caped crusader it’ll be him!

daredevil

Argo – Review

Set in the late 1970s Argo is based on the true story of a CIA operation that freed six diplomats from Iran during a revolt against the American embassy. The operation? Well to create a completely fake film production and disguise the six staff as members of the film crew.

Ben Affleck stars (as Tony Mendez) and directs in this film that recreates the now declassified ‘Hollywood option’. It stars Bryan Cranston as Tony’s CIA supervisor, Jack O’Donnell and John Goodman and Alan Arkin as the Hollywood contacts, John Chambers and Lester Siegel. Tate Donovan (as Robert Anders), Clea DuVall (as Cora Amburn-Lijek), Chirstopher Denham (as Mark Lijek), Scoot McNairy (as Joseph Stafford), Kerry Bishé (as Kathleen Stafford) and Rory Cochrane (as Lee Schatz) round out the cast as the six ‘houseguests’ who are protected by Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor, played by Victor Garber.

The film is funny, insightful and suspenseful. I found myself very interested in the story despite the six ‘houseguests’ being more or less uninteresting maybe even whiny. The American stationed side of the operation (including the team at Hollywood) was much more interesting. Hell, even the Canadian ambassador was a better character. Now I understand that the portrayal is probably true to story but maybe just a little more vigour in the acting would have made it better.

Acting aside, this film is definitely one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Such an interesting story that until I heard about the film being made I had never heard of (Ah the life of a young person ay?). Affleck successfully directs this film. He pulls off the suspense expected from the story but successfully adds some humor and a few light-hearted moments to make this a very enjoyable mix of emotions.

I recommend this film for anyone who is keen to learn a little about American history, the CIA an maybe even the film industry (just a little).

4.5 stars

Argo is in cinemas now.

Film News Friday – Week 16, 2011

Here’s what has been happening in the movie world this week…

  • Aussie Joel Edgerton rumoured to be the star of the new Bourne movie.
  • M. Night Shyamalan Fans Raise Money For the Director to Return to Film School.
  • Gordon-Levitt’s character in The Dark Knight Rises finally revealed… He will play John Blake, a Gotham City beat cop assigned to special duty under the command of Commissioner Gordon.
  • The Crow is currently in legal limbo as The Weinstien Company file a lawsuit against Relativity Media over distribution rights.
  • Ben Affleck is now not signing on for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann has now set Leonardo DiCaprio to play Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan to play Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire for the role of Nick Carraway.
  • Writers hired to work on the script for J. J. Abrahms project, ZANBATO. The site says the script involves Japanese history and robotics: “swashbuckling robots with swords”.
  • New trailer for Jessie Eisenberg film, 30 Minutes Or Less. Check it out below.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING TRAILER CONTAINS CORSE LANGUAGE AND ADULT THEMES.

Australian Box Office – April 14-20, 2011

#

Title

*(A) Denotes Australian Film

Week Total

Screening Weeks

Total Revenue

(In Australia)

1

RIO

$5,644,374

2

$10,152,582

2

HOP

$4,127,223

2

$7,234,867

3

PAUL

$3,144,250

1

$3,237,193

4

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 2

$2,749,130

1

$3,295,516

5

SCREAM 4

$2,495,522

1

$2,495,522

6

FAST AND FURIOUS 5

$2,155,375

1

$2,155,375

7

JUST GO WITH IT

$1,618,143

3

$7,237,269

8

JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER

$1,402,160

2

$3,449,246

9

SUCKER PUNCH

$1,271,886

2

$3,681,875

10

THE LINCOLN LAWYER

$901,573

3

$3,823,010

Film News Fridays – Week 15, 2011

Here’s what has been happening in the movie world this week…
  • Zod to be Enemy in Man of Steel, Michael Shannon is playing the evil Kryptonian General, Faora is also rumoured as an enemy.
  • Jessie Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin and Penelope Cruz, all join the cast of a new Woody Allen movie.
  • Peter Jackson has announced he is filming the Hobbit at  48fps… double the regular rate… and calls for cinemas to be ready or to miss out.
  • More cast join The Dark Knight Rises – Josh Pence as a young Ra’s Al Ghul as well as Daniel Sunjata, Diego Klattenhoff and Burn Gorman who are penciled in at this point. Production is not too far away!
  • Bradley Cooper to play the lead in The Crow remake. Penned by Aussie Musician Nick Cave.
  • Avatar 2 Development and Pre Production is gearing up.
  • Anthony Horrowitz to write the second Tin Tin movie.
  • Ben Affleck to join Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes trailer released. Check it out below.