Review

Batman vs. Superman: Justice League 0.5

 

Verdict: brooding in Deadpool’s shadow, Batman vs. Superman is gritty, dark and punchy, but ultimately lacks depth and hinges on what feels like a flimsy formality.

The Good:

The movie opens with a swift and concise comic-book style Batman origin, pearls and all, before cutting to an equally dramatic set-up with scenes from Man of Steel. This is where Zac Snyder comes into his stride with the pacing of the obligatory origins handled carefully and quickly, bringing drama to the beginning of the film through the refreshing new arrangement. There’s certainly no doubt about Hans Zimmer’s collaboration on the music of the movie, with a fusion of blasts of 2012’s Inception distortion featuring heavily, punctuated by Junkie XL’s bassy electronic rhythms and Man of Steel melodies.

Another strong feature of the film was Wonder Woman, who although only really featured in the final showdown, seemed solid and mysterious as a character. Really, it was a shame that she only featured for expensive parties and the Doomsday confrontation, but I guess that’s why she’s got her own solo movie coming up. In that regard, future set up, whilst the only real focus, was this movie’s strength. Dream sequences featuring the Flash and nightmare sequences were a comic-loyal quirk that gave a different energy to the character progression and honestly prompted curiosity as to how the Justice League would later work. It’s not been done before, so it could be interesting.

 batman-v-superman-fight-blocked-punch

 

The Bad:

Batman. What I loved about Nolan’s Batman, was that he was not always grounded in logic; he would appear and magically disappear, dropping bad guys in a controlled methodical fashion. Also that you would leave the theatre with your ears ringing from the resonating sound of Batman’s heavy and calculated punches. He never `killed` anyone, (yes that’s a bit of a grey area) his real strength was his use of stealth to overcome his enemies and disappearing as quickly as he came. The perfect combination of brutality and the ninja.

Batfleck’s combat ultimately left me feeling numb and I realised how much my love of Batman came from the fight scenes, over the cheesy one-liners or shots of skyscraper brooding. Whilst Batfleck was brutal, any fire was robbed from his combat from his aimless killing with guns and out-right killing criminals rather than finding an intelligent stealthy solution. I didn’t find myself impressed by the fighting, just wondering whether he would actually survive, given his clumsiness and especially after he was stabbed in a fight with only 6 men. Not exactly amazing, how exactly was he possibly going to even put a scratch on Superman?

In the end, I found myself dismissive of his fight with Superman. It completely lacked substance. Slow, boring and only lasting a matter of moments, it seemed hardly worth the hype or frankly, the effort. Rather than the greatest gladiator fight of the century, it seemed more like a comedy sketch where Batman would get himself punched towards `deathtraps` and comedically smashed through a couple walls like an grumpy ragdoll who wasn’t being taken seriously enough – and for what? For him to realise their mummies have the same name, throw away his death-stick and be instantly ready for a best friends high-five montage. It seemed false, forced, and only really for the creation of the death-stick to be used later. Which as soon as its thrown into an inaccessible area, you know it’s going to be essential to the plot. Two years of blind hatred and then buddies? Seriously?  After three years of build-up and countless trailers?

Maybe I’m just an uptight Nolan-fanboy, but something seemed amiss; Batman felt reduced to simply a stubborn and stroppy man in a suit with expensive toys. There was no sense of legend, as it just became painful seeing how easily the two characters were played off one another by bumbling certified loony Lex Luthor. Even as a Batman fan, I found myself wanting Superman to just drop him on the naughty step for a time-out and for him to just put Lex’s stammering face through a wall – why didn’t you just kill him in the jail Bruce? You did it with the other criminals by giving them the mark, so that they got bumped off, why not Luthor, whether he won or not?

 

 

The Ugly:

This movie quickly shows its true colours; the colours of Justice League.

With the anticlimactic Batman vs. Superman `showdown`, it felt hard not to come away feeling cheated by the feeling that this film is really just what it has always been, a divisive stepping stone for Justice League films. Unfortunately to anyone who has a modicum of comic-book knowledge this was about as subtle as Lex Luthor’s photoshopped logo’s for future DC superhero movies that were conveniently on his computer along with bitesize origin story chunks for future characters. Apparently the man knows so much, more than Superman and Batman, the master-detective and all their combined knowledge – although the man can’t produce a single coherent sentence. Speaking of apparent knowledge, wouldn’t Wayne have considered putting out feelers for other `supers` in the two-year gap after Superman? The whole film was so geared towards future content, that even after all the build-up it seemed artificial in its production. The Justice League it not a bad thing, its new and frankly could be absolutely amazing, but with all the promotion focused on a killer fight and  `who will win?`  when the real focus was the last 2 minutes at a funeral scene, is I guess what really bothered me. If the studios just wanted to have a DC Avengers type-deal as soon as possible, don’t dress it up as something that it just isn’t yeah?

Then again, I’m just another voice in a sea of angry nerds and maybe it’s me who needs a time-out.

 

 

Image credit: www.screenjunkies.com

 

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Godzilla (2014)

Black-and-White-Godzilla-2014-Poster-570x831

The King is back

It’s been since 1998 since we last saw Godzilla on our screens (eugh, remember that movie?) and the time away off-screen has done the monster some good. Given the leaps and bounds that special effects has taken in recent years it was Godzilla’s turn for a reboot and he did so in style.

Bryan Cranston, winner of two Emmys and renowned for the role of Breaking Bad’s meth cooker kingpin Walter White, stars as Joe Brody the scientist researching into the strange events taking place at the time. However, the majority of the movie follows his son, star of Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a bomb defuser for the US army and Ken Watanabe’s character, Dr Daisuke who spends 89% of his time contributing nothing but making a fantastic impression of an emoticon: “*0*

Without giving the plot away, the human involvement or importance within the film is fairly minimal (with the exception of pissing things off). All is not as you would think, as this Godzilla film is very unlike its predecessor in that Godzilla is in fact the hero of the story and described as the `king`  who will bring balance and natural order by Dr Daisuke, in the rare moments where he actually manages a dialogue (Or just break everything). As unlikely as this seems, this is actually more faithful to the original Japanese version and is certainly more refreshing. This follows  in the aesthetics and abilities of Godzilla and makes for a more interesting plot. The improved look of Godzilla himself certainly contributes to an impressive level of badassery especially at key turning points in the film quickly followed by the bone-chilling roar, which they have certainly done justice. Although, with the focus not always on our reptilian friend, you may find yourself at points asking: `where is Godzilla then? ` However, when Godzilla does make his grand entrance, it’s definitely worth the wait and you will quickly lose focus of what you were worrying about.

Godzilla-2014-Roar

*Insert Godzilla roar sound effect here*

As with any Monster movie, there is an insane amount of carnage and destruction, and Godzilla 2014 makes Pacific Rim look like a dwarf, simply due to the speed of the damage and its range over the majority of North America. This can sometimes seem a little overwhelming, but certainly carries a substantial impact and shock factor. Something that I admired about the cinematography was that for most of the film, Godzilla is not focused on directly, which helps to build suspense so that when we finally get a good look at Godzilla, it carries the impact that it should do. Godzilla is certainly not a movie to watch with the volume down when its released on DVD and Blu-ray, as even the music has seen an improvement, adding to the drama and scale of the film’s scenes (time to crank up the subwoofer).

It stands to reason that if you are expecting anything not a 10 on the ridiculousness scale then this movie is not for you. The plot, whilst an improvement from Emmerich’s version, quickly forms large monstrous holes when placed under any scrutiny. Don’t go to see this film if you will be easily irritated by continuous shots of people looking surprised, scared or horrified, or the US military’s attitude of “umm, just uh, nuke it?” (I’m just glad they didn’t punch the air and sing `god bless America` at the end)

This being said the film redeems itself as the ridiculousness is something to be embraced and to be honest, it’s what makes the genre of Monster movies so appealing. Time will tell if the sequels signed on by Legendary will be as much of a success.


 

I give this movie: 7/10

Images source: http://www.screenrant.com

 

What I really liked about the film Oblivion.

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Speaking of the recent (ish) film, Oblivion, starring popular action star Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman (the voice of god), Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko.

Based on the graphic novel from writer and director Joseph Kosinski, Oblivion is set in post-apocalyptic future Earth, Tom Cruise or Jack Harper works as a mechanic maintaining a fleet of drones which in turn, protect the machines which are harvesting energy supplies. Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, Jack finds himself plagued by dreams of another life he is not familiar with, not all is how it seems and as the film progresses, events later unfold that dramatically change everything for the characters in this story.

Featuring stunning visuals and grand screenshots of ruined Earth, Oblivion really caught my attention. The plot is strong; full of enough tension and interest to keep you firmly planted in your seat (and maybe fidget slightly through anticipation). Combined with this, characters were easy to engage with in turn with convincing performances, from the leading characters to even the chillingly-cold mission control, Sally; “Are you still an effective team?”. There is certainly not a dull moment in Oblivion and where the plot could be said to lack in originality, the ending is certainly satisfying, with appropriate levels of badassery.

If you’re like me and a sucker for sci-fi thrillers, then I would highly recommend you give Oblivion a watch if you haven’t already.

I give it 4/5.

(I do not own the rights to the photo shown; Source: geektyrant.com)