I Walked Out of “Justice League”

      I walked out of “Justice League.” This is a film that I will go back and review because I am a completionist but it has been a long time since I’ve been so disappointed in a film that I walked out ($10.75 for a ticket was also a major waste). What didn’t help is it was late and so my patience was much thinner and I needed to at least be entertained, and for a few scenes I was…but after an hour I was so bored and disappointed in this film that I could only think of better uses of my time.  In the end the three factors that pulled me out of this film were the Bad CGI, uninterested actors and how false some of the characterizations felt in regards to the characters.

First I want to mention some things I enjoyed in that hour. Everything with Diana was awesome. Seriously, Wonder Woman is the best part of this universe and she’s why I’ll be giving this film another chance and doing a full review in the future, even if I don’t do it this year. I also continue to enjoy Jeremy Irons as Alfred and Cyborg had potential, he was one of the few characters who felt fully realized in his portrayal.

Now for the bad, Steppenwolf and the battles he takes place in look worse than “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The closest comparison I can think of is “The Mummy Returns” in regards to how the CGI of him and his minions looks. For a movie this expensive it should have looked at least as good as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” This also applies to the CGI on Cavill’s face to hide his mustache. He is in a shot at the beginning where kids are recording him and it feels off and weird. I think this Superman has trouble smiling in general (which feels antithetical to the character) but in this scene it really showed. This is consistent through the hour of film I saw and it took me out of it. Every Super Hero film this year looked so much better and “Wonder Woman” was made by the same studio. How could it go so wrong?

The second factor were the uninterested actors. Ben Affleck sounds bored the entire time and his inflection never changes. This also applies to Cavill’s Superman in that scene on the phone meant to humanize him. He just looked out of it and bored and sounded like it too. These guys are two of three in DC’s Trinity. I can understand now why Affleck is getting recast. His heart isn’t in this if the best takes they could get from him were what I saw in the film. He clearly doesn’t want to be there.

The final factor was characters and how they acted unlike themselves. This was the last straw as I felt when Steppenwolf was attacking Atlantis. Aquaman comes off like a human douchebro and not like an alien from Earth. Based off his performance I have no idea how Atlanteans are different from humans minus them living underwater. This is not the Aquaman I knew from the comics or DC animated films….which is a shame because Momoa can be a great actor, I loved him in “Stargate: Atlantis” and “Game of Thrones.” A major reason I left was this was the second time that Batman’s secret identity meant nothing to civilians. First a criminal he is threatening hear’s him call his butler Alfred (so much for secrecy) and second Aquaman calls him Bruce Wayne and Batman in front of a crowd of people. First off Affleck doesn’t react at all in either scenes (he doesn’t take in the criminal, he ignores Aquaman, etc.). Barry Allen / The Flash is also a rich drifter for some reason so how he has all that money for his computers when he see him having no basis of income is kind of crazy.

In the end these factors were too much for me to sit through another hour. This was bad and dissapointing enough as I grew up with these characters. I was DC long before I was Marvel as Bruce Timm’s “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Justice League” got me into these characters in the first place. I can’t recommend this film and the only reason I want to watch it at this point is for Wonder Woman and so I can complete it and give it a score. At this point I can only tell you why I walked out. This film isn’t worth your time. Check it out when it comes to Netflix or streaming, these characters deserved better.

“Batman” in Film – Upcoming Reviews

Batman Symbol

     After the “Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure” I figured it was time to return back to DC and to visit the area of DC Comics where the greatest amount of live action films have been good…so Batman, which seems to be the only thing that DC live action can seem to get right some of the time versus their other heroes which have either not been tackled beyond television (Flash, Green Arrow) or have even more bad films to their name (Green Lantern, Superman). Batman is the only one has enough live action films to really show a range in quality that can give a full illustration of what keeps bringing us back to this amazing character.

     I’ll be staring with the Adam West “Batman” from 1966, going through Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns,” as well as doing “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin” before I get to Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy.” I’ve already reviewed “Batman v. Superman” but will include it when I get to rating the different takes on Batman and rating all of the Batman films as a whole from Worst to Best.

    This is going to be quite an adventure and also a change of pace, which should be good. Batman is one of my favorite parts of the DC Universe and I can’t wait to see the Affleck’s solo flick if it comes together. This is a character who speaks to human vulnerability and strength better than nearly any hero in comics, which is why there has been so many films made about him.

   Many of these films are my favorite and some are some of the worst to come out of cinema. Suffice to say this is going to be a fun reviewing adventure and I look forward to hearing your own thoughts on the films that are reviewed and the final ratings at the end.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – A Good Batman Story Trapped in a Terrible Film

Batman v Superman

      “Batman v Superman” is a terrible film. There is a good film in here (“The Dark Knight Returns” and what could have more fully come with that) but all that is drowned out in the baggage of Lois and Clark and anything involving some of the worst villains I have seen on screen. Lex Luthor and Doomsday are absolutely terrible characters and I never felt threatened or interested in them due to how they were written and portrayed. This is a film that tried to do so much and ended up completely failing because of it.

     The film was directed by Zack Snyder and wrote by David Goyer with Chris Terrio. The film was produced by Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven.

     The story starts with “Man of Steel” leaves off with Bruce Wayne witnessing the destruction of a Wayne Tower by Superman in the “Battle for Metropolis,” after saving people he is filled with hate towards Superman and thinks he is a threat that must be dealt with. Elsewhere Lex Luthor plots Superman’s destruction as well.

The Pros: The Cinematography – Visually, this film like “Man of Steel” is beautiful. The dark color pallet creates a visually stunning film that Larry Fong truly did a masterful job portraying. It looks like comics turned film, which is one of the few things this film has going in it’s favor.

The Soundtrack – Hans Zimmer once again creates a beautiful score and with Junkie XL we actually get some pretty rocking pieces…for example Wonder Woman has a fantastic theme that really captures the power of her character.

Perry White – Fishburne is finally allowed to do something! I really enjoyed the small role he played in this as the cynical editor of “The Daily Planet” who knows he is in a dying industry so is making the most out of what is profitable.

Alfred – Jeremy Irons is a great Alfred. His wit is dry and sharp and you can tell that he’s given up on helping Bruce Wayne move on so simply does what he can to protect him and help him realize the bigger picture. He really is an awesome character and I wish we’d gotten more time with him.

Bruce Wayne / Batman – Ben Affleck is a fantastic Batman and I can’t wait to see his solo outing. He potrays Batman who has lost all sense of grounding and has gone full Punisher so well…this is the Batman of “The Dark Returns.” He’s lost everything and is ready to do anything to protect his city and people, even if it means killing an unknown quantity like Superman. From his branding of criminals, to his shooting of minions…this Batman has lost all hope and really doesn’t reclaim any sense of self until the very end.

Against Authority and the Corruption of Power – A running theme is one of anti-authority and a critique of power, especially that which is absolute. We see the government hearings, Batman and Lex attempt to hold Superman’s power in check, while in the case of Lex and Batman they were already a corrupt power already out for themselves…in this way there really aren’t any heroes. No one is there to protect the innocent and reel unchecked power in, and that is the true tragedy of the film as this should have been what the film was about with a moral Superman and vigilante Batman.

Okay: Wonder Woman / Diane Prince – We don’t get to know Wonder Woman all that well except to learn she was around in World War 1 and is a Meta-human. She has an awesome theme song though and the scenes we have with her are alright. I’m interested in her solo film at least.

The Cons: Lois Lane – Lois continues to be a cipher and plot device and I couldn’t stand her character. She never brings up Jimmy Olsen or his death or asks Superman why he isn’t looking at the bigger picture beyond her, she’s part of the problem with Superman and that never gets called out. She is a core reason why he’s so selfish.

Martha Wayne – Martha is just kind of there and also enabling Superman’s lack of growth as she tells him that he owes humanity nothing (um, Earth is his adopted world so he owes it by being a part of it) and she like Lois just needs to be saved and focuses as a cliched plot device.

Superman / Clark Kent – This guy is a cipher who can only see Lois and random people on television tops. I thought he’d seek to write the wrongs of the battle of Metropolis but instead he spends all his time being selfish and not taking those who may die in his fights into account. He has no moral high ground over Batman and is just as bad. If Lex had actually been a well written character I would have been rooting for him to kill this guy.

Doomsday – Boring villain who looks like a giant Cave Troll and gets more powerful when he is hit with energy. Seriously, he only exists to kill Superman. He wasn’t even needed in this as Batman could have killed Superman and realized his mistake…instead we get a villain that is poorly rendered CGI and has zero character.

Let Luthor – Where Doomsday has zero character Lex lacks a consistent character. I didn’t know why he wanted to kill Superman as him being anti-alien and super hero made no sense when he created Doomsday, his plots were also pointless too as Batman was already trying to kill Superman. Jessie Eisenberg is just awful. Seriously, this guy annoyed me more than Sandman and Venom in “Spider-Man 3” and Doctor Doom in the “Fantastic Four” films. One theory is he is Lex Jr. and the real Lex Luthor is still in the wings, I hope so because this guy is an inconsistent joke who comes off as a really poor rendition of the Joker.

Lack of Focus – There are three films in this. The Batman film, which is good. The Justice League film which goes from okay to bad, and the Superman film which is just terrible. Either one of these films on their own could have been a favorite, or at least enjoyable yet flawed like “Man of Steel.” Instead it all feels rushed and I found myself face palming and sighing multiple times during this film. I didn’t care about the characters because we were never given time to, or in the case of Superman and his villains…they were so poorly written no amount of time could have fixed it.

The Ending – Superman dies but maybe isn’t dead, he sent Lois a ring proposing to her, Lex says a bigger bad is coming from beyond the stars and Wonder Woman and Batman work on forming the Justice League to honor Superman…None of this worked.

  This is a film that could have been great. Had we gotten a story that only involved “Batman v Superman” and was Snyder’s “Dark Knight Returns,” it would have been amazing! There would have been focus, there wouldn’t have been the baggage and clutter and the larger themes wouldn’t have become lost within this mess of a plot. I don’t recommend this film at all, Affleck is not reason enough to see this film, just wait until the stand alone “Batman” film is released. This film is loud, pointless and the good of Batman is not enough to offset the cluttered story, terrible villains and bland Superman. I seriously don’t recommend this film. Not worth your money or time. Zack Snyder should have just done his version of “The Dark Knight Returns” or done another solo Superman movie.

Final Score: 5 / 10 For the good Batman story in the mess.

Gone Girl (2014): A Dark, Gripping Thriller of Dystopian Suburbia

Gone Girl

I am a fan of David Fincher’s work, and this film continues more of that quality that I’ve come to expect from his films. The films that for me best represent his work are “Se7en,” “Fight Club,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and “Zodiac.” This is similar to those in some ways but is also very much it’s own thing in that the crime  mystery aspect in the end isn’t the point. The point is the characters and the relationship at the core of the film. I’ll get into more details in the assessment.

“Gone Girl” was directed by by David Fincher, Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay and the book of the same name it was based on (still need to read it), and the producers were Leslie Dixon, Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon and Cean Chaffin.

The premise is it is the Fifth Anniversary of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) and Amy has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Due to Nick’s handling of the press and hiding of secrets he becomes a major suspect in his wife’s possible murder. From here the story unfolds as we see how broken their marriage was and the secrets they both held.

There will be spoilers ahead.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Critique of the Media – This film really shows how easy it is to turn a trial into a witch hunt, as Nick’s awkwardness in public turns everyone against him until he comes clean about his affair and tells the world what they want to hear on advice from his lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry). It shows how fickle the court of public opinion is and how cable television can create the story before the story may not be there cause all the facts aren’t in. This was an aspect of the film I really appreciated.

The Mystery – The mystery surrounding both Amy’s point of view and the intentions of Nick are really well done. When you think you have all the facts, something more is revealed that puts things into question. This is done really well at the beginning as Amy’s anniversary clues point towards guilt but something more and as we see more of how Ben is not a good person…no one in this movie is except maybe Nick’s sister Margo (Carrie Coon).

Margo – Nick’s twin sister Margo who is co-owner of The Bar with him is a great character. She is the first outside of Amy to find out about the affair he’s having with his student and her distrust of Amy is found to be genuine. She cares about her brother and does all she can to protect him and we see her good advice go unheeded by Nick in the beginning until it is too late. She really is a great character, and Carrie Coon does a good job.

Tanner Bolt – Tyler Perry is great! The guy is like one of the lawyers of Phoenix Wright and we see him manipulate the court of public opinion for Nick and give him the chance to shape things in his favor. This plays a part later and forces Amy into action. I wish we could have got more of this character. He’s cynical, funny and at the core believes he’s doing good work.

Critique of Suburbia – In this one we see the evils of suburbia and public appearances too as Amy manipulates a neighbor to make the world think she’s pregnant and that Nick killed her because he didn’t want the baby. it is the world of the fake facade that the couple wears for the neighbors and parties and in the end we see it crumble down to see the false faces and mystery underneath. It is here that gossip grows and festers and feeds the media storm.

Detective Rhonda Boney – She has the clearest head in all of this and follows the evidence. She eventually loses the chance to take out Amy though after Amy plays a bigger game and the gets the media and police force on her side after her return. Kim Dickens was good and had great chemistry with all the characters she interacted with.

Nick – Nick is not a good person and I don’t like the character, even if I find him compelling. in the relationship he cheated on Amy, never communicated with her and just assumed things on her. For this reason I actually enjoyed some of the crap that got thrown his way. He was forced to grow and be accountable, which he never had to do before. I do think Amy was in the wrong and she is the antagonist, but Nick is not really the protagonist. He’s one of the players in the false marriage pretending to be someone he isn’t.

Desi Collings – Neil Patrick Harris plays a very terrifying millionaire ex-boyfriend in this…when she comes to him for safety he locks in his Lake House and forces her to become the woman he loved in the past. He never uses violence but the threat is always there, as well as her lack of choice. When they watch Nick’s “confession” and she falls back in love with Nick he turns it off and continues to pressure her to be his. He is an extremely polite and creepy character. I thought he might be the one to kill Amy actually if she didn’t kill herself. Luckily he gets his comeuppance when Amy murders him and makes her escape.

Amy – Amy is a chameleon…whether she was born that way or shaped by her parents who pressured her and made her into their tool for making money off books is unknown but she is smart, cruel and brutal. She is a chameleon because she becomes whatever her lover wants her to be, we see her thinking about this too when she first disappears framing Nick as she sees the different women she could become now. She is a fatalist too and sees completing her revenge with a suicide until she has a way out, which first is though Desi until she finds herself trapped again, like she was with Nick and when she was robbed in the Ozarks. She returns home and has power as the story has been hers all along and she forces Nick to stay. She is the winner of this story and we don’t know her motivations beyond wanting to have others be the way she wants them to be, which Nick becomes…though they are open to one another now. Her faked death leads to relationship honesty and the marriage “healing.” What a fantastic villain she was.

Okay: Amy’s Parents – We don’t really get their motivations and they were experts of the false face. I would have liked more on them to see just how much they shaped her into the calculating, destructive chameleon she is.

The Mistress – Nick’s mistress is kind of a blank slate. We don’t know her motivations for getting together with him and she seems to be there to show us Nick has secrets he’s hiding and a motivation to get rid of Amy. She isn’t bad, but she doesn’t function as much more than a plot device to explore the character of Nick.

This is a movie I’d highly recommend. It has a great critique of relationships, suburbia, and has great characters in the mystery. If you like David Fincher’s work, you’ll like this. If you like dark mysteries you’ll like this, and if you like critiques of humanity (most characters get critiqued in this), you will like this. It is well worth checking out and added to the list of favorite films.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10. Not higher because of how the mistress and parents are handled and the fact that we never know Amy’s motivations fully.