Sunday, March 27, 2016

FRESH FROM THE THEATRE: Batman vs. Superman - Dawn of Justice

When they start advertising the next movies with "It won't be like this one", then you already know that something is eternally going to go wrong. SPOILERS AHEAD! A LOT OF THEM!

The world is scared of Superman as him being a God like creature he doesn't answer to any laws. Batman, being mad at him for causing the death of several hundreds in Metropolis, decides to fight him as at least one has to be able to stand up to him. As it turns out, however, Lex Luthor manipulated the people to discredit Superman and he even unleashes a threat far greater than the dispute among the two heroes. Both of them, with the help of Wonder Woman, end up fighting this great monster, and they lose Superman in the process.

I thought I would go in order. First off, how nice to include yet another Batman origin! Did you know that Bruce's parents were killed by a mugger? You did? How strange, because EVERYONE DOES. Except that 1% that has never heard of Batman and live in the Amazon forests. You know what? I take that back. I think even they know... that aside I don't have any criticism for Ben Affleck as you can clearly see how the creators cared about his character a lot more than they did about Superman! So much so that really, it doesn't matter how many people he has fought before, you know that he means business. For the first time in cinematic history they actually managed to cast an actor who was both a brilliant Bruce Wayne and an excellent BatmanSecond problem, what is up with the time? 18 months later? So people managed to build a whole memorial for Superman in 18 months? They can't finish the pipes below my window in less than 2 years! This man, who everyone hated for destroying Metropolis has become their hero in 18 months and apparently you now hate him after two accidents? OK. It isn't that hard to believe, as people can be horrible, but still...
Speaking of time, "this Bat vigilante", Clark calls him... it seems to me that the Batman has been around quite some time, Clark, or you being busy discovering your powers in the first movie made you not care about how he actually dealt with affairs in Gotham? This especially bothered me because there is a good Batman vs. Superman comic and cartoon that deals with this and well, seeing that that made sense it just bothers me that this didn't. And speaking of source materials, the movie managed to reference the Nolan Batman trilogy twice, as if that was what made the Batman who he is! It didn't! It was one directors interpretation of a character - a shitty and depressing and filled with holes interpretations nonetheless. And although I liked that Superman was struggling with ... something. What was that exactly? It must be hard that people hate you when you are trying to be good but.. There is one scene where he imagines talking to his father (oh hey Kevin Costner, you fit into the budget?), where he asks "Do the nightmares ever stop?"... I'M SORRY, NOW YOU HAVE NIGHTMARES?! We had three different scenes devoted to showing us how Bruce can't even sleep, when did Clark start getting nightmares? What did you do exactly? You killed one singular man and that is it. What nightmares do you have? That people won't love you? Oh my, first world problems Clark!
Remember that scene, where Lex Luthor goes "Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent meet at last" ... 18 MONTHS!! I REPEAT, 18 MONTHS!! Yes, Clark has been famous for covering stories on Lex Luthor his entire life, but he hasn't been a reporter for more than a single year, not to mention that Lex hasn't even been the head of his own corporation for that long! How the f*ck does a Lex Luthor know who the hell Clark Kent is? Or who the meta humans are? I loved that there was an entire scene dedicated to Wonder Woman checking Luthor's files on humans with extraordinary powers... in case you are wondering if this was hard to discover, the answer is a big fat NO. Bruce sent them to her via email. Email... how does he know her email? He doesn't even know her name! And in which world do you think that it would be advisable to send data that was previously encrypted with military codes VIA EMAIL?! So she opens the email and ... Luthor has files COLOR COORDINATED with the logos of each character on them... logos which, at this point in time, NONE OF THEM HAVE. This! This right here is where you take a huge spit into your audiences face! Here you admit that we are all stupid enough to not know anything about these characters unless someone shoves their logo into our face! I also loved that Aquaman has been reportedly dyed blond finally, yet you can see him here with black hair. OK.
And then there comes my favorite moment. The fight between Superman and Batman. So beautiful... it would have been... if not for one sentence uttered by Superman "Bruce, I need your help". I'M SORRY, HOW THE F*CK DO YOU KNOW WHO BATMAN IS?!! Or did perhaps our marvelous director, Mr Snyder manage to cut that scene from the movie?! A whole graphic novel has been written to analyze the depth of this fight! How two men, best friends through good and bad have ended up having to face each other and you managed to delete the one singular scene where Superman peaks under Batman's mask?! Did you even watch your own f*cking movie Mr Snyder?! Or were you too busy cashing the checks for the next DC movies? Because wow, you really earned them! Great job your are doing here!
The fight was OK, but in the end the movie only highlighted how the writers, 75 years ago, weren't even creative enough to come up with two different names for the mother of their biggest heroes. And also... I love you Amy Adams, you will always be among my five favorite actresses of all time, but god, did they butcher your character! What was your purpose other than - being an Academy Award nominee - your inclusion raised the budget? I did love that finally she and Clark are together because I am sick and tired of stories where she doesn't know who he is... it is so stupid... and she loves him, she really does and it was terribly sweet. But... her inclusion in the final fight was totally unnecessary and the directions she was given as an actress were simply terrible. "Oh, this spear, I'm gonna get rid of it"... why? Just leave it. Batman draws Doomsday back to that bay and she watches them fight and has this expression on her face which says "I need to use the restroom" and she goes to get that spear back. Why? How do you know they will need that? At which point, among explosions and such did you realize that the gray monster can only be stopped by kryptonite? Are you psychic? And in case you are wondering I do know why she was there, and it was this comic book cover:
If you are not familiar, let me tell you about it. Superman dies fighting Doomsday. It is the only thing that manages to kill him. Lois rushes to the scene and holds her beloved in her arms. This was also adapted in a way at the end of Superman II and referenced with Superman Returns. Superman does die indeed and he disappears for quite some time to regenerate. In the comics he goes to the Fortress of Solitude which... I don't even know if the movie has one to be honest, I thought it did in the first one, but now I just have no clue anymore (remember that scene where he drags a ship or something behind him in the Arctic? Was that supposed to be it?). While the rebooth movie made it seem like he left the planet all together. Whichever was the original, Superman returns in a black suit, something that even stupid Smallville got right, and I am sure that the Justice League movie won't. Killing him here now simply meant that somebody watched Spiderman 3 and thought that was a good movie. They thought that forcing together three hundred different elements will somehow not be too much and work in the end. It didn't. The moment Perry White reaches for the newspaper I was expecting a headline like "SUPERMAN -- DEAD!" or from the comic the actual obituary from the Daily Planet, "Man of Steel Dies Defending the City!", instead... "Superman is dead" and then he turns the page to reveal that Clark also died, featured on the same page as Luthor's arrest... convenient. The-- ar-- yo-- F*CK YOU!! F*CK YOU MOVIE!!! HOW HARD WOULD IT BE TO ACTUALLY REFERENCE THE COMIC IF YOU TOOK THE TIME TO MAKE A WHOLE SCENE DEVOTED TO THAT STUPID PAPER?!

Calming down a bit... What was good about the movie? I loved the crazy and almost over the top obsession that Luthor has with Superman. Luthor was written very well. And I also liked that Perry White finally noticed that Clark disappears most of the time... that is something that always bothered me as he cannot be in two places at once. And well... hats off to Wonder Woman. I have been a huge Gal Gadot fan and her interpretation of the character was spot on! That sweet smile when she realizes that Doomsday won't go down easily and the fight is not over simply warmed my heart! And she cuts off his hand and then uses the whip... oh boy! It was truly well done! And this goes to show that there were people behind this movie who cared for the project. I am an exception because I know the source material, yet I can't help but wonder what somebody who knows nothing of these might have thought as the movie makes no sense without the background knowledge. And that is how you know that you have a bad movie. That is, the last 30 minutes completely butchered the beginning of the story - which, in my opinion was actually set up quite well. I loved Alfred, I loved Bruce, I adored Wonder Woman (Diana Prince, but they say her name once so...), and Lex Luthor made me scared and he should. That is his most important character trait.

Somebody once saw 30, no more, but 30 minutes of these four extraordinary movies, or read 3 pages of the comic they adapted and decided "Hey, I can make a movie out of that!" and guess what? You can't. These include The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest (when Superman discovers who the Bat is, and vice-versa - YOU KNOW THE SCENE I HOPE IS AMONG THE DELETED ONES),  Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (the fight among Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman against Doomsday), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (Batman fights his long friend Superman, now in the pocket of the American government) and finally Superman/Doomsday (as in the main fight and the death of Superman). However, by piecing together some of the most famous comic books in the 75 year arc of these heroes without logically thinking them through isn't being attentive to the fans: it's spitting in their face. I absolutely love these stories and it enrages me that they were mushed together into what could've been a good movie and it turned out to be shit. And while writing this review I came to realize why: People are already torn about Superman. Some love him and some don't really care, because him being all powerful, he is also a bit boring. The best way to make us care is to show depth to his character. Introduce us to him, make us believe that he struggles, that he isn't this god people make him out to be! By having him on his knees in front of Luthor you did portray how he too is only a man. Then you make him fight Batman... No.
It doesn't work like that. If Superman wants to use reason and talk then Superman WILL use reason and talk. I will never forgive the fact that he becomes mad and starts a fist fight with Bruce, as he calls him, because calling him Bruce entails that you know him. And you didn't know him. The movie was set up after set up after set up with no actual real conclusion. "We have to assemble these meta humans", Bruce says something like that and... why? No. Superman assembles them with the help of Wonder Woman and Batman decides to tag along because he loves his planet - but he never, ever turns his back to Superman, that is how that fight was possible in the first place. "I failed him in life"... oh my god Bruce, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HIM! 18 months, I'd like to remember everyone, 18 single months. And yes, you could say that Luthor tricking you, the world's best detective was a big mistake on your part, but starting to call Superman man a friend is completely unfounded. Somehow the creators managed to mix up the first fight among Superman and Batman (seen also in Justice League: War where Superman confronts Batman and Green Lantern), which resulted in them becoming friends, with the most epic fight in DC history: friendship over moral code. And this was especially stupid because you dared to put the story in the future, assuming a lot of shit already happened, and then decided that it didn't and jumping back and forth you didn't actually give us anything. If only you would've made them friends to begin with and then say Superman no longer approves of Batman's methods, then a lot more things would've made sense. But no, go ahead and believe this is all normal for two men who spoke once their entire life.

No, I am not even going to say anything about the Flash cameo - because Bruce does NOT need warning, as I just mentioned above -, or the post-apocalyptic Batman vision where he fights off Superman's soldiers, because I am enraged by the lack of interest they have shown in the main character. You did absolutely nothing to draw from the 75 years of Superman and that is what ruined your movie. NOT the actors, NOT the acting, but the script and the direction you gave and for that this movie is shit. Hinting the biggest stories in their comic book history will not make me a fan. I never mind adaptations as long as they make sense in their new medium and it didn't.

Don't watch it. Because there comes a moment when you realize that you are grateful that the DC cinematic universe has nothing to do with the TV shows and you start wishing that they assemble the Justice League sooner, just to show them how it is really done.

Until the next item on my list!

PS: I'm pretty sure that Jeffrey Dean Morgan (playing Thomas Wayne) wants to beat Sean Bean's record as most deaths on screen and I'm fairly certain he is not far behind!
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Batman/Bruce Wayne - Ben Affleck
Superman/Clark Kent - Henry Cavill
Wonder Woman - Gal Gadot
Lois Lane - Amy Adams
Lex Luthor - Jesse Eisenberg
Perry White - Laurence Fishburne
Alfred - Jeremy Irons
Martha Kent - Diane Lane

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What's Next On My List? Shade

#StalloneMonth has been prolonged due to unforeseen complications in the month of February. Apologies again. One more review coming in this series!

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Growing up I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone. I still am and last year I decided to write about his movies for a whole month! And now, I decided to try and make that a yearly tradition. And why wouldn't I? Stallone movies are awesome: even the silly ones have charm to them. Seeing that Mr Stallone is nominated for an Oscar this year, I think that spending this month to talk about him is really the very least. So please enjoy the second installment of #StalloneMonth

A trio decides to cheat a famous poker player out of his money, while conducting other scams in the background. The trio, however, is then played by one of their own seeking revenge for the time the other two left him behind after a scam.

I don't want to say this is a bad movie. Except it is and I hated it. And I'll tell you why: It had the potential to be awesome, and it wasn't. The movie did a very small mistake: it gave us six characters out of which five completely lacked any actual presentation. You knew where Stallone's character was going, you were curious to see his encounter with the others. However, the others weren't given any actual personality... I'm sorry, I really am because, damn, these are some A+ list actors! And I would've wished for a bit more context to feel in the very least involved in the story.
Let me tell you of every though I had while watching this movie: Uh, that's exciting. OK, that's boring. So these people know each other? A young guy, an old one and girl. Where is Stallone? Oh OK, the girl just sold a man's organs without his consent. Oh, OK, the girl just cheated on the older guy with the young one. This editing is horrible, it keeps stopping and continuing with a fade and the characters have zero chemistry. This editing style never occured before or ever again in the movie... Finally, Stallone scenes! So the girl pulled a scam on both the guys, but they were actually cheated by the younger one. That's... why? Oh the movie ended.
Here's the problem. They keep talking about a scam that went wrong a few years ago, where they left the young one behind, but no actual details. Nothing is shared with us to feel any compassion toward any of the characters. The girl seems to be troubled, yet she easily turns her back on anyone. Also, everybody wanted to cheat the other ones out of everything, yet, when you take the time to analyze everyone's plan you'll see that it makes no sense.
This movie needed an extra 10 minutes of actual character development and you would have gotten me to care. This was nothing more than an Ocean's Eleven rip off, except it wasn't very entertaining, nor was it any good...

I did, however, love Sylvester Stallone's scenes! But no, unfortunately, this movie is not worth the watch. It is typically one of those cases when you have A list actors and you believe that just because of that the movie will be a success. No. You still need a good story.

Until the next item on my list!
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Jennings - Jamie Foxx
Miller - Gabriel Byrne
Tiffany - Thandie Newton