Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

“I don’t think I have ever set such a low bar for a movie. Every tidbit I came across in the days before I saw BvS confirmed the fears I had about its quality (or lack thereof). All I asked was that it wouldn’t actually make me cry like Man of Steel nearly did. MoS wasn’t just bad, it was wrong to the point of blasphemy if you hold Superman up high on a God-like pedestal like I do. I’ve also never been so nervous and apprehensive going into a movie.

Well, it didn’t make me cry! I’m not saying the movie was good, far from it, but it was no worse than any other bad superhero movie of recent memory (Fantastic Four anyone?). Basically it was just a bit convoluted mess, of half baked plotlines and overstuffed action scenes. In other words, exactly what we’ve come to expect from director Zack Snyder.

Now I don’t want to completely trash Snyder and say he’s the worst director ever. The man did give us 300 afterall. But following that same formula does not translate to larger films. His MO is all style, no substance. And I’m sorry, but at this point in the game, we expect some substance from our superheroes.

I was thinking about it a bit more, and what separates Snyder and Josh Trank from directors like Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams is that the former approach their films like fanboys with shiny new toys to play with. Their focus is on seeing what cool things they can have their toys do, and they don’t put much thought into why they’re doing it. The later two have much more respect for the characters they’re bringing to life. They approach their films from a place of love, wanting to honor the franchsie and help it grow. The end results are staggeringly different from both camps. I sincerely hope that the people behind these DC movies rethink letting Snyder take the reins for so long.

Despite the incoherent mess (and did we really expect anything other than?) there were a few bright spots, mostly in some new faces in the cast. I loved Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and I am now very much excited to see her have her own film (especially since she’ll have a new director as well). Her scenes were all worth watching, even if I had to sit thru most of the 2.5 hours (ugh) to get there. We also had some glimpses of some of our other future Justice Leagers who I’m also stoked for. Yeah I’m basically echoing the criticism I heard that said BvS is essentially a really long trailer (with little payoff) for the next installments.

Our other newbies, Ben Affleck and Jesse Eisenberg, I have mixed feelings on. I don’t think Affleck was a bad choice, rather he’s the one who made the bad choice. He is a far better actor than this movie deserves, and it’s especially sad to see him fall so hard right when he was starting to be taken seriously in Hollywood. #Sadfleck. Eisenberg I thought made a fantastic villain, but not necessarily a fantastic Lex Luthor. It may be that I’m just more accustomed to the suave take on Lex that we got from Michael Rosenbaum or John Shea, which I prefer to the manic Gene Hackman, but Eisenberg went even farther into crazy. He seemed more like a Batman villain, which I suppose is fitting given that the Bat of Gotham was in this, but it was almost like he really wanted to be The Joker instead, so this was his audition.

Also mixed feelings about the attempt to course correct from one of the bigger criticisms of MoS, which was the mindless destruction of Metropolis. I liked that we addressed it head on at the start, and used it to fuel much of the story. But then we just kept on revisiting that thought without making any progress. Oh and there was also the drinking game-esque aspect of how often someone pointed out that their soon-to-be-battlefield was uninhabited. No really, we get it. Minimal collateral damage this time around.

Oh one quick gripe. We were nearly at the two hour mark when a character had a funny line and I realized, I hadn’t laughed at all during the movie up to that point. There are several rants I could go on as to why it was a bad thing that there was no humor, but I go off on enough rants in this write up already.

I’m better on Henry Cavill than I was last time. He didn’t really exactly have much going on to develop his character any further, but at least the material didn’t regress him back to emo-Clark. I still don’t know how I feel about the man who stands for truth, justice, and the American way being played by a Brit, but I’ll let that slide. That’s the least of this franchise’s problems. Early parts in the film at least attempted to introduce some interesting thinking points on the son of Krypton, mostly around how his actions could be misinterpreted so that he wasn’t quite the hero we think he is. But of course we didn’t get too far into that idea before things just started blowing up and all character development was forgotten.

Not sure how much of a spoiler it is to mention the final villain that appears, so I’ll leave his name out of it. While on the one hand I was happy to see someone other than Lex or Zod finally, on the other, he felt rather shoe-horned in. And then at the point I realized we were actually going there with a famous Superman storyline that I’d been wanting to see on film, it was quickly over and we had just rushed through it. Oh the frustration at the lost potential.

Yeah wasted potential pretty much sums it all up. Had we focused on any small piece of the film and really polished it, the tone of this review would be much different. But that’s just not the world we live in.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – \m/ \n

PS – “”Dawn of the Dead”” totally cool. I’ll take “”Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”” or even “”Red Dawn”” or “”Dawn of the Dinosaurs”” (Ice Age) . But don’t you dare ever try to refer to me as “”Dawn of Justice””. That will end badly for you.”

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

“Now that we’ve seen Deadpool done right I wanted to revisit Deadpool done wrong. This is me at my most masochistic.

Really, Deadpool is only a few minutes of this ill-remembered X-outing, but his few minutes are the most infamous. He shows up early, kinda fits the part but not entirely, talks the talk, mostly written by Reynolds as we’ve recently found out, and then he’s gone til the end where he’s a completely muzzled shadow of his former self. Not to mention that his transformation is not exactly cannon (as I understand it). But was the rest of the movie as bad as it’s remembered?

Eh, not that bad. It’s certainly not the strongest X-film, that much we can all agree on. However, there are some glimmers of goodness hidden within.

Top of the list is Liev Schreiber as Sabertooth. The man is a damn good actor, far better than this franchise deserved at the time. Sure in today’s post-Marvel Studios world, top notch actors showing up and being treated well has become the norm. If only he entered the picture then. I fear we’ll never have the chance to see what he’d be capable of with a script worthy of his caliber. But really, the movie was worth the rewatch just to revisit his performance.

Similar gem, but not quite as shiny is Taylor Kitsch as Gambit. Another bit of wasted potential. Finally, the X-Man we’ve most been missing is on screen, and he doesn’t do a whole lot. What he does is great, no question his scattered scenes are my favorites, but in a movie that ultimately doesn’t do a whole lot, it’s another waste. We’ll see what happens when Channing Tatum picks up the card deck soon (hopefully).

The story, honestly I found it better than The Wolverine. Not a high bar, but a bar just the same. However, the lesson learned is that the X-men function best as a team, and we have yet to crack the solo conundrum. Well, the world has mostly forgiven this film and moved on. I will do so as well.”

Allegiant

“Can we please stop with this trend of extending YA series on film by splitting the last book into two movies? It made sense for Harry Potter. That final book was really dense, and there was a logical split to make. It hasn’t made any sense since. Divergent is most often compared to the Hunger Games, and for me, the third books suffer the exact same problems.

Reading the Divergent series, I loved Divergent and Insurgent. But it all fell apart for me reading Allegiant. It could just have been a side effect of reading all three in rapid succession, but this was the point where I realized how poorly written it was. Some of the repeated phrases were starting to grate on me. After two books that were first person from Tris’ perspective, we now were bouncing back and fourth between Tris and Four, and author Veronica Roth could not create distinct voices for the two. And, like with the Hunger Games, I was far more interested in the early stories, describing the status quo of this world, and less interested in its undoing. Yet Hollywood powers that be still decided to split this one out. Ugh.

It actually didn’t turn out to be so bad, which could just be a matter of low expectations or the fact that I blocked out most of the book so it all felt new to me. Yes, it felt a little thin, and I’m pretty sure the final installment will be even thinner, but I was able to go with it. We do have a stellar cast here (as we lose Kate Winslett, Jeff Daniels steps in, and Naomi Watts steps up), and some new parts of the story opened up an opportunity for a lot of really cool visual effects.

I’m not completely forgiving it. It was still a little cheesy and self righteous, and didn’t do a good job of explaining reasons for things. But it worked well enough, for what it was. Although I’d hope that it’s underperformance at the box office will finally put an end to this split-the-last-book trend. That would at least be one positive to come out of it

Allegiant – \m/ \m/ \m/”

The Bronze

“I’ve been following this movie for about a year, ever since it premiered on the festival circuit. Co-written by and staring The Big Bang Theory’s Bernadette, Melissa Rauch, The Bronze is a foul mouthed comedy about a former Olympic gymnast dealing with an up and comer coming up in her hometown. Basically she’s the polar opposite of the role that’s made Rauch famous.

My interest in this movie was two fold. One, I do like this style of comedy, and the premise of this one intrigued me. The other was that I was excited to see Rauch play against type. I knew she’d have the comedic chops, so I wanted to see her tackle this character.

In truth, we ran into a big problem that we’ve encountered before. When your movie is led by an unlikeable character, well, frankly, it’s hard to like them. Our main charcater Hope was just too abrasive. And while yes, the conceit of an all American girl gymnast with a rather filthy potty mouth is funny, if you don’t like her enough to care about her, you don’t care too much about the movie. She did eventually get over the hump, but by then it was a little too late.

I don’t think we needed to tone down the profanity, it just should have been more clever. It was a lot of saying things for shock value and hoping to get a laugh out of them, but that only works for so long. While some beats were predictable, I did rather like the story. And Rauch was fantastic. Hopefully she gets another chance to branch out like this soon. It was a promising start, but like her character, she fell short of the gold.

The Bronze – \m/ \m/ \n”

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

“A couple weeks ago, I was ordering something from Target. I was a few bucks short of the free shipping, so of course my solution was to snag a couple DVD’s. I mean, what else would I get?

I never got around to seeing this one before, but I knew the reception for it was pretty mixed. Some say it’s a great scifi, others a convoluted mess. To some, the effects are a great technological achievement, to others creepy. My feelings towards it were similarly mixed.

So this movie’s got three very clear acts. First, our boy robot David is taken in by a family he falls in love with. When he’s later rejected and abandoned by them, he obseses over searching for them. Then there’s the concluding act, which I know better than to spoil.

I was into the first section. That’s the sort of engaging drama with light scifi elements that I like. The second act went a little deep into the world, but kept on the surface with the story. Then it got really weird and confusing.

Oh by the way, while this is a Spielberg film, a lot of the groundwork was done by Kubrick. That kinda explains some of the rollercoaster ride I’m describing, yeah?

For me it mostly feels like such lost potential. It could have been something really great, but is ultimately kinda forgettable. And now 15 years later, it seems like forgettable is exactly what this one became. Probably for the best. I don’t know that there was anything particularly standout about this that would have made it worth remembering.”

Zootopia

“An animated film that as of writing is 99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s not Pixar? Color me interested.

Indeed, Zootopia is that rare kiddie film that balances kid stuff and grownup stuff. Cute animals and silly slapstick for the kids. Pop culture references and a meaningful and timely story for the adults (a message that hopefully hits the kids as well).

We’ve got an anthropomorphic world (or possibly post post apocalyptic if you so choose to believe) where everything is run by animals. And a chipper little bunny wants to be a police officer, but that job is typically left to the bigger and badder animals. She’s stuck with a dead end case as her only hopes of proving herself, with the reluctant help of a sly con-man of a fox.

Okay it’s not as cutesy cheesy as it sounds. Maybe it is, but trust me, it works, and not just for the little ones. It quickly becomes an allegory for racial tensions as the predatory animals are being looked at with prejudice by the prey that fear them. Ginnifer Goodwin, who voices our star bunny, has said that she hopes the message of the movie will have a positive impact on the elections later this year, and I agree that would be a wonderful effect of the movie. But I’ll pause there before I start going into less happy real world topics.

As is usually the case, what most sold it for me really was the grown up jokes. There’s a major Breaking Bad reference that seems to be taking the internet by storm, but my favorite was actually their Godfather-esque Mr Big: a little rodent that is equally cute and intimidating, with a spot on impersonation. Seriously, could we have a Mr Big spin off? I’d be all over that.

So yeah, it’s nice to have a kids movie with substance, especially one that the adults can enjoy too. I approve of this film.

Zootopia – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

The Brothers Grimsby

“I think Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedic genius. These insane characters he creates and the way that he commits to the roles is beyond anything anyone else is doing today. So then why don’t I usually find his movies to be funny?

No really, all the pieces are there, but every one of his movies has fallen flat for me. And Brothers Grimsby was no exception. Maybe his characters are too over the top. Maybe his writing relies too much on shock value. Maybe it’s too insensitive and offensive. I don’t know. But following a similar formula, we once again have a crazy un-realistic character that creates humor from being put in compromising situations. I love the creativity that goes into it and I do generally like offensive humor, but it just didn’t hit home for me.

This time, he’s a sort of white trash soccer (sorry, football) enthusiast who has been searching most his life for his long lost brother. He finally discovers said brother to find that he’s an international James Bond-esque superspy. Hilarity ensues, or at least tries to.

There’s some notable people in the supporting cast. I thought it was kinda cool to see Cohen’s real life wife Isla Fisher join her man on screen, even if the two didn’t share much screentime. Rebel Wilson fit right in, and kinda cool to see Gabourey Sidibe. However, what Academy Award winner Penelope Cruz was thinking, especially coming in on the heels of equally bad Zoolander 2, I have no idea. Girl’s gotta start making some better life choices.

The single best thing to come out of the film, however, was the time Jimmy Kimmel didn’t show a clip of the movie (too graphic for network tv). Instead, he showed it to the audience and filmed their reaction. Absolutely one of the most brilliant marketing strategies I’ve ever seen, and it _really_ got me wanting to watch the movie to see what they were reacting to. Having watched it now, some things are just better left unseen. That goes for the clip in question and the film as a whole.

The Brothers Grimsby – \m/ \m/”

Eddie the Eagle

“Similar to Triple 9, I tried to make myself not care about this movie. It was being released the weekend I’d be out of town for my bday, so I’d have to catch up on it later. I made it all the way to a few days before its release until I decided that no really, I kinda wanted to see this. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a feelgood underdog sports movie. Also, I just loved the camaraderie between stars Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton. I just think it’s fantastic how Jackman took the newbie under his wing, and they did the full press tour together. I’ve also admitted to being a sucker for youTube clips of late night talk shows. I think it was their round of Catch Phrase with Jimmy Fallon that ultimately won me over.

But a big part of why I make such an effort to see movies opening weekend is that it’s infinitely easier than catching up later. I had every intention of seeing it the following week, but the times just didn’t place nice with anything else I had my eye on. I chanced it by pushing it out another week, but by then it was already disappearing slowly. When looking at the next weekend’s picks, there was a very specific chain of events that had to happen in order for me to see it. Short of skipping a yoga class or going at an inopportune time, the training class I was taking Thur and Fri had to end early enough on Thur that I could go to the early yoga class and see Cloverfield. And then Fri had to get out even earlier to go to that day’s early yoga and then run to Eddie. If Thur didn’t happen, I wasn’t gonna push off Cloverfield. If Fri didn’t happen, well, that was Eddie’s last chance. Long story short, God or somebody wanted me to see this movie because both semi-long shots happened

Right so it’s your typical “”Mighty Ducks”” story, as I like to refer to this subgenre. This time the sport is ski jumping, specifically in the Olympics. We follow real life Eddie Edwards (Egerton), a scrawny and klutzy kid in England whose lifelong dream is to compete in the Olympics. He doesn’t even care which event, he just wants to be there. After various failures, he discovers a bit of a loophole. England hasn’t had a ski jumper in decades, so he only needs to prove himself vaguely competent at the sport to get a chance. He forms an unlikely team with former misfit ski jumper, American Bronson Peary (Jackman). Challenges, obstacles, blah blah blah, triumph of the human spirit.

I know I’m not the only sucker for these movies, or why else would there be more and more released every year? We like these because they’re positive. They make us feel good and give us something to cheer about. Eddie’s no exception. What makes each of these films stand out from each other is the characters, and Eddie has more heart than the entire squad of Ducks put together. Watching the movie, I didn’t care that I’ve basically seen this a hundred times before, and there was little new offered here. Instead I had a big doofy grin every time he landed a jump.

Egerton is certainly someone to keep an eye on in years to come. After a smashing debut in last year’s Kingsman, and learning from Colin Firth in Kingsman and Jackman now, boy’s gonna be someone for Hollywood to reckon with. His Eddie was as much a physical performance as an emotional one. Not just in the athletic sense, but in the facial expressions and physicality. One day this kid is gonna get a real meaty role to work with, and I expect to be blown away. He’s not there yet, but this is certainly a step in the right direction for him.

Eddie the Eagle – \m/ \m/ \m/”

10 Cloverfield Lane

“Like much of the rest of the world, I was shocked when the surprise trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane dropped. If a movie’s not even on my radar, you know it’s been tightly under wraps. What I loved so much about the original was the mystery. No one knew what was going on with the movie or what it really was or what the name meant or anything. It made for a really fun movie going experience too.

Immediately upon seeing the trailer for Lane I made a decision that I would not seek out any information on it. I’d watch the trailer if it came up, but I didn’t seek it out. With the exception of EW’s article on it, I avoided anything coming up in the usual channels talking about the movie. I didn’t wanna analyze the trailer. I didn’t want the expanded synopsis. I didn’t want to know in advance how it tied in to everything. I wanted to recreate that original magic.

For the most part, I was successful. The article did give the one sentence synopsis that gave more info than the trailer. On the one hand, I was kinda miffed at getting more new info than I wanted, but on the other, it was a really cool sounding premise (which I will not recount here, but you can read it at the top of the movie’s IMDB Page). EW also gave some of the backstory around the film coming together. It originally was completely independent of Cloverfield, and got reworked to fit into that universe. Details were kept under wraps on set. John Gallagher Jr, one of the basically three actors in the film, didn’t even hear the word “”Cloverfield”” or anything hinting at it until at least halfway through filming.

I want to try and maintain the secrecy as much as possible, so I’ll try to be brief and cryptic. I absolutely loved it. The suspense and the mystery was palpable to an extreme that is so rare in the internet age of information. So many questions, so few answers, so much enjoyment. John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr were all fantastic. Goodman in particular was such a treat to watch, in one of the most formidable roles he’s had in years. Winstead I adore, and she provided such a strong female protagonist. Gallagher I’ve talked about before. Anything else I say will come out biased (since he was the original lead in American Idiot, we’ve been over this).

There’s talk that the Cloverfield universe may continue on, and God I hope so. And I hope it’s in this way, where its events are just a backdrop for a very compelling story. You could say that it was kinda shoe-horned in, adding in the (potential) franchise connection. You wouldn’t be wrong, but you wouldn’t be right if you thought that was a bad thing.

10 Cloverfield Lane – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Rachel Getting Married

“I think this may have been the movie that established my girl crush on Anne Hathaway. At the time of its release in 2008, it was unlike anything we’d seen from her before. I mean, she had a couple attempts at breaking bad before, but no one really saw those. This one got seen, enough to score her her first Academy Award nomination (we all know she won supporting a few years later for Les Miz).

Despite being the lead role, she’s not the titular Rachel. Instead, Anne is Rachel’s sister Kym. Kym is on a bit of a furlough from her rehab, which she’s been in and out of for a very long time, in order to attend her sister’s wedding. Like any big family event, there’s lots of drama, none of which makes it any easier for Kym to deal with her addiction.

Up to this point, America still saw Hathaway as Princess Mia. She’d tried to shed the good girl image a couple times, but this was the most successful. Kym is the anti-Mia. She’s dark and sarcastic and bitter and moody. The charisma that made us all fall in love with the princess translates into a firecracker of a character here. If I keep trying to describe her, I’m just gonna gush uncontrollably, and it won’t be pretty (again, girl crush).

This movie was also the one that introduced me to Rosemarie DeWitt (playing Rachel). On the surface Rachel is your sweet and excited bride, but pair her with her sister and the claws come out. Her performance is so nuanced and layered, it’s no wonder I always kept my eye out for her after this film.

Even though the movie goes to a couple of dark places, I love watching it. It feels very real, telling a very human story. There’s lots of drama, and as previously discussed, fantastic performances. And it’s not that small and intimate indie vibe. So basically, highly recommend this under appreciated gem”