Film Review: Jason Bourne

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Jason Bourne is a thriller in the truest sense of the word. On paper, it’s a continuation of the trio of Robert Ludlam adaptations that more-or-less defined Matt Damon’s career in the mid 2000s. In reality, the film is a more of a weird mishmash of sequel, throwback and soft-reboot. It’s as much interesting in updating the series as it is preserving the things that defined it, no matter the narrative cost. It’s a visual roller coaster ride to be sure, but the thrills feel very cheap.

Simply titled Jason Bourne, it sees the titular amnesiac spy dragged out of hiding and back into the crosshairs of the CIA. Since the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, he’s been living on the underside of society and haunted by the question of whether he has himself or his father to blame for the loss of his memories and identity. However, surprise visit by Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) forces the issue and pushes Bourne to learn the truth, foiling a shadowy conspiracy in the process.

Unfortunately, both this setup and the underlying subplot about Jason’s father ring hollow. Characters actions often feel ambiguous and guarded for the sake of it, leading to their decisions feeling more forced by the momentum of the franchise than anything else. Jason Bourne often feels like a bridge film more focused on updating the dynamics and context of the franchise than it is telling a good story in its own right.

In addition, the flashbacks themselves don’t leave a lot of room for speculation: As soon as you learn Jason’s father was killed in mysterious circumstances, the culprit becomes immediately obvious. Jason Bourne feel like the franchise is really scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the secrets of Jason’s past.

In many ways, Alicia Vikander’s character is the most interesting element of this film. Heather Lee begins life as a rising star in the ranks of the CIA and by the time the dust settles, the film makes a reasonably compelling argument for her as a potential new adversary for Bourne. A better version of this film might have spent more time developing her, maybe framing the series’ flashback device around her.

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Beyond Vikander – the casting choices remain good, if a little uncreative. Damon is silent but deadly as Bourne, Tommy Lee Jones brings a gravelly arrogance to CIA director Dewey and Vincent Cassel makes for a good foil to Bourne as a rival agent with a score to settle. His performance really helps enable a great tension between the hunter and hunted throughout the film.

Stylistically, it feels like Jason Bourne integrates well into the legacy of the series. The return of Paul Greengrass to the director’s chair is felt through the energetic chases and kinetic action sequences. It’s all looks very impressive and feels true to the series’ past efforts, even if it doesn’t really top them.

Though Jason Bourne’s three major set pieces – Athens, London and Vegas – all feel pretty sprawling and visually engaging, they lack staying power. Conceptually, each of these locales has a lot to offer but, the blanket chaos of the Athens sequence aside, they don’t really deliver on it. It doesn’t help that the film is saddled with a final car chase that drags on too long and a climactic confrontation that’s way too short.

As much a throwback to the original film trilogy as it is a necessary updating of it for a post-Snowden world. There are social media moguls, clashes between protesters and police and professional data-leakers throughout but when all’s said and done it ends up feeling very flimsy and hollow. An unremarkable script really lets down the good casting and direction here. There’s a tight sense of scope that some will appreciate but, looking beyond that, it feels like Jason Bourne is pulling its punches.

Film Review: Star Trek Beyond

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Every time a new Star Trek movie hits cinemas,  it’s hard not to lament the idea of a TV or cable series with this incarnation of the Enterprise and its crew at the helm. As a franchise,  Star Trek has generally fared best when telling longer, more developed narratives. This was more-or-less why JJ Abrams’ 2009 reboot was so well received. It didn’t just re-engineer Star Trek into a blockbuster, it re-engineered Star Trek into a great blockbuster. It gave the franchise a new lease on life (at-least until they fumbled with Into Darkness) and kind-of set the standard for what many consider a ‘good’ reboot to be.

Star Trek Beyond continues the series’romance with big screen adventures and, in a lot of ways,  feels like a genuine make-good for fans who felt burned after Abrams’ second adventure fell short. It feels like a movie length episode of what a TV show with this cast might have looked like and far more like a sequel to the 2009 reboot ever did.

Picking up three years into the Enterprise’s five year journey, the film begins with the crew beginning to grow stagnant and disconnected from each other and their mission. They take port in a nearby starbase, called Yorktown, to resupply and evaluate their priorities. We get to see a little bit of the crew’s various shore leave activities – but it isn’t long before the lone survivor of an unprovoked attack turns up on their doorstep seeking aid. Things quickly spiral out of control,  leaving the crew scattered across the surface of an uncharted planet.

There’s a change in pace here,  courtesy of Simon Pegg‘s scriptwriting. Everything feels a little slower, but in such a way that makes the excitement of the film’s climax feel more earned. Unsurprisingly,  Pegg has a deft hand with these characters – even if he leans a little heavily on the heroic monologues and platitudes.

On the other side of things, Justin Lin‘s direction manages to be energetic, even if let’s the film down in other areas. He lacks some of the visual punch of Abrams and feels a little out-of-sync with Pegg’s script in spots. Still,  his contributions to Beyond manage to be inventive and fun – even if he could stand to keep things a little less fast and a little more furious.

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Beyond also brings two new major characters to the universe in the form of newcomer Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) and the film’s villain, Krall (Idris Elba). The former, in particular, delivers some of the best lines of the film.  She’s fierce,  funny and a fantastic creation by the franchise – especially considering how wildly Into Darkness fumbled when it came to strong female characters. Keeping with the TV hypothesis: Jaylah feels like the kick-ass guest star who turns up for a two-episode arc maybe once a season.

Unfortunately, Idris Elba’s talents are almost entirely wasted here as Krall. He spends the film covered in prosthetics and stomping around menacingly. While the script does go into overdrive to develop his character during the last twenty or so minutes – you’re likely to have written him off long before then. Even with Elba’s growl behind him,  he’s just another fearsome looking big bad monster-man who wants to destroy the universe because reasons – and the world already has too many of those. Given the charisma and sense of character Elba can, and has, given to even mediocre films, it’s a shame.

It’s even more of a shame because Krall’s ideology feels so timely and relevant. He makes the case that without war, there is no struggle – and without struggle, we cannot grow stronger. It’s really interesting to see the pro-peace position that Star Trek takes come up against resistance like this. Unfortunately, like Idris’ performance, it’s all a little uneven and ultimately as forgettable as Nero.

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In terms of handling the original cast, it feels like everyone has at-least something going on – but it’s all very ancillary to the main plot. It feels like Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and even Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) are less of major characters here and more just characters who happen to be stuck in the orbits of Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Bones (Karl Urban).

All things considered, this really does feel like the proper sequel to 2009’s Star Trek. It’s a fun ride of a film with that pairs a smart script with a cast that still manages to find electric chemistry a third time around. There’s still a lot of technobabble but, really, where would the franchise be without it.

Film Review: Ghostbusters

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Rebooting Ghostbusters was always going to be a tough gig – even before the internet got involved.

Given the thirty-plus years of failed efforts at continuing the series with the original cast, a reboot was probably the only card really left available to Ghostbusters – and there’s really no point in doing a reboot if you don’t mess with the formula. If you don’t, what’s the point? You just end up with another Point Break or Robocop otherwise.

Paul Feig’s female-led Ghostbusters reboot manages to confidently steps out of the shadow of the original film while retaining some of the same quirk but, beyond that, it feels a little bit out of its depth. It’s got spark and spunk aplenty but quavers under the pressure placed upon it as Sony’s latest franchise blockbuster.

Set in modern New York, the film sees university professor Erin (Kristen Wiig) chase down her former-friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy)  after the book they wrote together arguing for the existence of the paranormal threatens to capsize her career. Throw in Kate McKinnon as the zany physicist Jillian Holtzmann and Leslie Jones‘s New York history aficionado Patty and you’ve got the new team.

Performance-wise, it has to be said that McKinnon is the clear standout here. A mischievous powerhouse of creative energy,  she’s almost worth the entire rest of the movie put together. While Wiig and Jones hold their own, McKinnon’s infectious energy can’t be downplayed. The film’s overall identity owes a lot to her.

If anything, McCarthy feels like the weakest of the four just because of how inseparable the actress’ persona feels from that of her character. That said, it takes about half an hour for you to get a feel for what parts of Abby are McCarthy riffing on the material and what parts are the written role. Once you get there she improves notably – partly due to her dynamic with Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin. Hemsworth’s comedic timing is nothing short of show-stopping and he’s the only person really playing in the same league as McKinnon.

Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Erin (Kristen Wiig), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty (Leslie Jones) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

Then there are the cameos sprinkled through the film. Each manages to be funnier than the last, with Bill Murray‘s being the cleverest and Sigourney Weaver’s playing out as the funniest.

If anything drags the film down, it’s the villain. Neil Casey is flat and boorish to watch. He’s clearly intended as a play on the kind of internet trolls that so reviled the production of this movie but beyond that there’s just nothing to him. He monologues to the camera within what feels like five minutes of being on screen. It says something about his performance that the sequence wherein he possesses a series of main cast members is probably the highpoint.

Casey aside, there’s a great chemistry to the cast in this film. It’s fun to watch them bounce off one another and it felt like most of the gags land – though your mileage may vary. The first act is really tightly constructed and a strong showcase for economic storytelling and character development. Unfortunately, these strengths are let down by the SFX-heavy third act sequence that sees the team throw down with an army of ghosts.

The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.

Further frustrating things is the film’s vagueness about the rules of engagement. Aside from their own scientific interest, there’s not really a solid and consistent reason for the team to capture the supernatural forces let loose in New York. Unlike the original film, ghosts are seemingly able to be vanquished by blasting them with proton beams alone. As a result, the whole process feels a little like a redundant carryover from the original. That said, Feig’s willingness to depart from the source material suggests the series ‘ legacy is working to service his movie not the other way around.

Like the original, this new Ghostbusters works as both a comedy and an action flick. However, it’s the franchise-blockbuster aspect that overtakes the film in its final act that ultimately does it in. If you expect to hate it, you’ll probably enjoy it more than you expected to. If you expected to love it, you’ll likely find yourself a little disappointed. It’s a fun watch – but not the slam dunk it probably needed to be.

The more and more I think about it, I can’t help but think the thrill of the film will wear thin on repeat viewings.  That said, there’s definitely a lot I liked about this film and it’s probably still worth seeing. The Ghostbusters are back – I just don’t know if this incarnation has what it takes to endure. 

Sydney Film Festival Review: Mekko

An inspired blend of hardboiled neo-noir and Native American mysticism, it’s hard not to admire the ambition on display in Sterlin Harjo‘s Mekko. The film sees the titular ex-con struggle to survive on the streets of Oklahoma City only to find that while modern life is very different to that of his ancestors, the threats presented by malevolent spirits linger on.

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When it comes to the genre’s history of brooding protagonists, Mekko finds himself a natural fit. Mekko (Rod Rondeaux) himself casts an impressive shadow with his feathered-cap further distinguishing his silhouette. Beyond this visual, however,  he’s a bit of a muddled allegory. As a character, he’s a challenge to pin down and it’s never clear if he’s being written as a representation of the struggles of minorities, ex-cons, the homeless or the all-too-common combination of all three. Rondeaux’ performance conveys the idea that there’s a lot of nuance to this character under the surface. Unfortunately, that complexity never feels adequately tapped by the film’s script.

Likewise, Mekko’s script works to emphasise the humanity of various characters that Mekko encounters but more oft than not, performances are too mechanical to match the material really gets fleshed out to the same degree. The only real standouts here are Mekko’s friend Matt (Scott Mason) and the film’s antagonist (Zahn McClarnon) for whom sociopathic silence does most of the work.

As a result, it always feels like something is off in the film’s dialogue and things feel like they’re unfolding far slower than they actually are (though if the crisp 84-minute runtime doesn’t reflect that). Even so, the film’s final confrontation felt like it was all over too quickly and it gallops towards the credits seemingly without a thought for the consequences of Mekko’s actions. Put simply, the film’s efforts to bring both style and substance to the table trip over one another and while the results are interesting to behold, they never quite reach their potential.

Harjo’s direction and cinematography are similarly at odds. Locations ripe for the noir-treatment are instead shot through a realist lens. Meanwhile, more mundane moments are handled into a darkly atmospheric fashion. A reserved and ominous soundtrack does salvage the film somewhat but it can only do so much. Taking each individual element at work, Mekko is easy to appreciate. However, its impact is never extends beyond the sum of its parts. 

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As a film, Mekko‘s heart is in the right place. As a character, Mekko is a cipher – and a lack of understanding of him quickly unravels the film’s better qualities. The film’s audacious efforts to tie together the struggles of Native American authenticity with the tropes of neo-noir thriller are admirable. Unfortunately, the results don’t deliver.

Mekko is showing at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. More information and screening details available here.

Film Review: Warcraft: The Beginning

Warcraft is a film that’s taken a hell of a long time to get made. The project has changed directors several times (once residing in the hands of Sam Raimi) but after ten years it’s finally made its way into cinemas for fans and newcomers to the franchise to see. However, video game films have a sketchy track record at best and even under the guidance of director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) there’s a lot that could go wrong.

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Presumptively-titled Warcraft: The Beginning, the film kicks off by introducing us to the orcish side of the franchise’s central conflict. Faced with an uninhabitable homeland, the orcish warlock Gul’Dan (Daniel Wu) uses dark fel magic to tear open a portal in time and space for them to invade the lush and peaceful world of Azeroth. Even at the prologue-stage, this movie goes pretty all-in on the heavier lore right from the get go in a way that’s both intimidating and kind-of exciting.

Faced with a string of brutal defeats against an unknown enemy, the King of Stormwind (Dominic Cooper) enlists Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) to summon the Guardian Medivh (Ben Foster) and learn the source of the troubles. Meanwhile, back on the Horde side of things, the orcs struggles with growing dissent between traditionalist and radicalist factions in their midst.

As mentioned previously, there’s a lot of world-building happening in this movie – and we haven’t started on the appearances by elves, dwarves and murlocs. Still, Durotan (Toby Kebbel) acts as an effective anchor for the orcish side of the film. Like the human characters, he’s driven by a sympathetic desire to protect his own over any hunger for battlefield glory. Kebbel’s performance is very much the most in-tune with the material here, offering up a character who feels right out of the games. If anything, it’s the humans of Warcraft that are the weakest part.

Though it’s definitely worth acknowledging all this setup presents a steep learning curve for newcomers, the payoff is that the final film doesn’t always play out the way you might expect a traditional fantasy story to. The orcs aren’t depicted as a faceless horde of monsters, the good guys don’t always win and, in a surprising move for the start of a franchise, people die. Foster’s Medivh feels a little underdeveloped, but that aside the plot hangs together about as well as any other modern franchise film. If Jones’ goal with the film is to introduce us to the world of Azeroth through the first contact between orcs and humans, it’s hard not to call it adequate.

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The exaggerated faux-edginess of the source material remains mostly intact – for better or worse – but the film isn’t afraid to have fun with it. Interactions between Garona (Paula Patton) and the human cast yield some unexpectedly humorous moments and there’s one particular use of magic that comes so far out of left field it’s hard not to smile and enjoy the moment. There’s a geeky weirdness here that feels faithful to the franchise.

The designs for the orcs themselves is mostly handled well – though Patton’s Garona feels out of place as the sole non-CG orc. At its best, it feels on par with something like Avatar and the battle scenes often feel right out of the games. On the other hand, the special effects for the magic in the film are a bit more uneven. When eyes start to glow and lightning sparks from the fingertips of characters, it becomes hard to the film take seriously. The other big weakness of the film is the pacing. The first half hour is a roller-coaster ride of big visual moments and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world-building. However, the film drops off sharply after that. It becomes mired in the melodrama of its human cast before settling into a relatively comfortable pattern of building and breaking tension each time the heroes of the two sides come into contact.

Still, it’s hard not to have at least a little fun here. The film’s thematic focus on the corruption of power and the humanity of war occasionally feels a little self-serious – but it does feel true to the source material. What’s more, it gives the film somewhat of a defined identity that separates from other fantasy blockbusters. 

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Warcraft isn’t going to go down as one of the best fantasy films ever made. It’s not going to win awards for its performances or script and it’s far from the best action movie to grace screens over the last twelve months. As much as I like the Warcraft franchise, its insatiable lust to be cool occasionally veers the material off into strange, cartoonish and frankly-dumb directions. However, I’ve often enjoyed the franchise in spite of this characteristic and it’s the replication of this quality that makes the film feel like a breath of fresh air and kind-of exactly what a Warcraft movie should be.

It’s to the credit of Jones that a mainstream blockbuster based on Warcraft feels this way and as a long-time fan of the franchise, it’s hard to imagine a film truer to that material than this one. Warcraft has always played with big ideas just as likely to turn out inane and ridiculous as they are compelling, and the film feels the same way. It lacks the effortless-grace of Lord of the Rings and the grand scale of Game of Thrones but Warcraft: The Beginning feels like, if nothing else, a foundation upon which something really special could be built. In the meantime, the film makes for an ambitious experience even if it strains (and ultimately buckles) under the weight of its own mythology. 

In Defence of… Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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**Disclaimer – This is just how I perceive the film, not the ‘correct’ way, or the way that everyone should.
This what I, CorduroySams, liked and didn’t like about Batman v Superman**

** Also… SPOILERS! **

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So when this film came out, I dropped that it was a 7/10 – all darkness and no fun. The amount of people messaging me with “When are you going to review BvS?”, “Why did you like it so much?”, and “WHAT?! A 7/10?! WHAT, DID YOU THINK IT WAS ANT-MAN?!?!” and I reply to them “Soon”, “I just enjoyed the fucker”, and “No, I didn’t think it was Ant-Man, did you see a 3/10?”

So I thought I’d write up a ‘small’ review. I will also explain my scale to people in the first paragraph, so you understand why it sits at a 7 out of 10 for me. Since people now believe 7 is a “FUCKING MASTERPIECE”, I think a scale of 1-10 needs to be spelled out to them… sadly.

Firstly, my scale. My scale actually goes to 12. I’ll explain 1-10 first.

1 – Shit
2 – Not so Shit
3 – Below Average
4 – Under Average
5 – Average
6 -Above Average
7 – Over Average
8 – Close to good
9 – Pre-tty, Pre-tty, Pretty Good.
10 – Good.

At this point you ask, “So explain 11 and 12, Sams!” as I will:

11 – Great, Fantastic, Amazing
12 – Masterpiece, cannot be topped.

A rating of ’11’ is kind of common. During the year there will be, on average, 3-5 films that I see that, to me, are astonishing. And then there is the sacred ’12’ rating which is a rarity. It’s not so often I will give a film a ’12’. And there’s only been two films I believe are worthy of my 12/10 rating: 12 Angry Men and Whiplash (and maybe When Harry Met Sally). The only two films ever, for me, to kneel at cinema god-like. Now saying that, I know there are more out there that reach this level; I just haven’t seen them yet. If you can’t tell, this system was inspired by This Is Spinal Tap.

Okay, so how does Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice get a 7/10 from me?

Let me explain.

There are some things in this film that I goddamn adored, and have never seen or heard in a lot of other comic book movies. And then… there are other things that make me sad. Given that the list of things I liked is a lot longer than the list of things I didn’t like, I’ll be flat out honest in this piece. So I’ll start with what I loved.

Cinematography

Easily the best thing in this movie is the cinematography. You have scenes in BvS like the origin scene of Batman right at the start which are shot so fucking beautifully that it’s amazing. The storyboard was a comic book that Snyder brings to life to the screen, would love to see the storyboards on this film, it would look just like a comic book!

You have scenes in BvS like the origin scene of Batman right at the start which are shot so fucking beautifully that its amazing; the close up shot of pearls of Martha’s neck breaking as the gun shoots a bullet into her skull. Fucking beautifully shot, and again something that has been missing from… I would say 8/10 comic book movies. Now I know in defence of this you may say: “Sams have you not seen Whedon’s shots in Avengers?” and I say to you Yes. I have but they are NOT as frequent as the works of Snyder and Larry Fong (DOP on BvS). This movie plays like a comic book and that has been something missing from this genre. As someone who has shot on cinema quality cameras and tried my absolute most to make shots look as perfect as they can be on a screen, this film’s cinematography is something to appreciate as art. Purely the greatest thing in BvS – Marvel, take notes.

Music Score

Now, not the best score in a film, but I goddamn adored it. It’s Han Zimmer’s best for a comic book film. So much heart, and so much effort is in most of these tracks, especially the character themes. And the music drives a lot of the scenes more than the movie itself. With the help of Junkie XL (what a name), who was also the composer for Mad Max Fury Road, and Warner Bros., you took mad advantage of that. This is one of the most phenomenal soundtracks featured in any comic book film to date.

Characters & Actors

Even if you hated this movie, if anything, you cannot diss the acting from Affleck, Cavil, Gadot, Irons, and I will include Eisenberg because the motherfucker was just so evil, which brings us to…

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Batman

Now firstly, anyone who said Ben Affleck would suck as Batman/Bruce Wayne are probably eating their words now! Ben’s acting more than makes up for that assumption, and now you’re biting your words for this. I’ll admit the character side of Batman was unusual; to see him straight up kill dudes in it, but he has in comics before and after fighting crime for 20 years, the guy is starting to get sick of people’s shit. By the end of the movie he realises it’s not the right way to do it, and should be a better vigilante.

Also, one thing that makes me happy, Bruce and Batman is a detective more in this than ANY OTHER Batman film, going back to the roots of the character in the original comic book. Seeing elements of Batman that we never got before on the big screen, and really giving him so much more depth than ever before.

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Superman

Not a big fan of Superman in general but Henry Cavill is the only actor since Dean Caine to make me excited to look at the character again. Superman in this one is being challenged by everyone in a world where he just wants to help protect it from itself and other threats. I stand by saying that BvS is a solid Batman film, but they don’t ignore the Superman character or Clark Kent. There are times where I found parts of this… slow, to say the least. Having said that, I am not the biggest fan or most learned of the character. So for what I saw, I enjoyed. For the most part.

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Lex Luthor

As far as villains go, fuck me, Lex is evil. Yes, nothing like the comics, and more like the Joker if anything. But the motherfucker wants power more than anyone else I have seen in a DC film. He literally despises anyone with a shred of more power or access than himself more than anyone else.

My assumption of the character is that Lex Jr is that he has grown with power for the last 20-30 years of his life, and growing up with that power has also grown his greed. Not for money, but to be more powerful than anyone else in his family. And when his father is out of the picture he becomes obsessed with being that powerful. Until a God enters the picture, and when he does his greed becomes stronger than ever. He wants a God to kneel before him, and eventually he does. Evil, cynical, and just a straight-up prick. Eisenberg made the character so strongly memorable for me, and for those things I loved his portrayal.

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Lois Lane

When you give a thin character like Lois Lane a lot of screen time in a movie, it just doesn’t work out. Amy Adams shows this really hard with only one scene being performed well, which is only four words; “It’s his mother’s name”. It’s hard when that’s all she says, and actually acts those lines.

The issue is here the film is huge, and the most lacking part of the film for me is that the relationship between Lane and Kent is… lacklustre and forced. We have to like this because it may be promised. Also, Lane comes across as your classic Mary Jane, a Damsel in Distress. She’s not. Lois Lane is a powerful female character from the DC comics that really can stand for anything… but in BvS she is a tool used to get Superman’s attention, which reveals him as Clark Kent more obviously than his fucking glasses.

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Wonder Woman (a.k.a. Diana Prince)

I’ll be flat out honest. I have no understanding or knowledge of the character of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. It was just a character that never excited me. Next to Superman, I’ve always been a hardcore Batman fan. But I loved Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman/Diana. She stole the screen every time she appeared. I felt myself slapping my legs to the beat of the drums when she appeared in that badass outfit. She’s powerful, confident, and smart and strong… and this just makes me more excited for her standalone film coming out next year.

The casting was a fitting choice, although I still think Wonder Woman should be more of a brute, but still not complaining about it. Gadot makes the Amazonian Princess the warrior that everyone knows and loves (me as well now). I’m not 100% sold on the character because, yes, not a lot of screen time in this film. But remember it is BATMAN v SUPERMAN, she is only a side character in this movie. I want more, and I’m sure that was Zack Snyder’s, and Warner Bros.’ intention with her character.

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Alfred Pennyworth

Jeremy Irons’ relationship as Alfred to Affleck’s Bruce Wayne was great. It reminded me more of Earth One Alfred, and not the servant that did things for Master Bruce because he was afraid of being cut out of the will, but instead wants to help him and make sure he is in the right direction. Even with his decision-making he guides Bruce in the right way, by not suggesting, but outright telling him that Superman might not be the villain he has come to suspect.

This character relationship between the two makes me keen and excited for the standalone Batman flick. Finally we dropped the fragile and campy Alfreds from previous instalments and gained the man that trains Batman to be strong.

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Doomsday

So, where do I stand on Doomsday? I didn’t hate it, if that’s what you mean. He was scary, and big, and the whole destruction porn doesn’t faze me for one reason. Shit isn’t real! Doomsday for me was entertaining and actually frightening. The idea of the trinity taking on a character like this as their introduction to each other? Well talk about a mother-flipping challenge!

What I don’t like about Doomsday? The fact it was given away in a trailer. Why fuck that up, WB/DC?! Did you not see how Terminator killed Genisys?? You give away the biggest deal of the film, and instantly you have nothing to hide from your audience. I know you were nervous but fuck me if you had hidden this you would have been fine and stable for at least a bit. You left nothing for the audience to guess. And if you had hidden this from us, it would’ve worked better. But you screwed that up… didn’t you?

So, that’s it for the acting/characters, went on a streak but I felt some of the performances had something to be said. So sue me.

I gotta say this, I can’t contain my love for the opening scene. It’s not needed at all, we’ve seen it and heard it all before! BUT FUCK ME! It has never been told this perfectly, with only one word in the whole scene. The cinematography is so beautifully done that you forget you’re watching a movie and literally think you’re watching a motion comic book. Now I know, it’s not down Crime Alley/Park Row as the legend is said of the location of Martha and Thomas Wayne, but man, I do not care. Synder knows how to make moments of history of this world come alive; and this is the greatest example of it. Everyone I know to have seen the film once or twice says the same as each other: “Man, we do not need another Batman origin story. But fuck me, it was worth it.”

I’ma add one more thing to this. A little point of the scene if you will, in this scene you watch Thomas Wayne defend his family by standing in front of his Wife and Child to the gunman. And he swings a punch but the gunman shoots and kills Thomas . That is the last thought that Bruce has of his father; a strong man who never stopped. That moment shapes Bruce into the Batman he is in this series.

** SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT**

Tone

BvS is a dark film. Which I like. Some say it’s too dark and no fun. Which I loved. I wanted a dark superhero movie because I’m sick of how bright and happy it is in the Marvel cinematic universe. I’m just over this ‘fun’ logic they give us, where no one dies, everyone is always a friend in the end — 10/10 how civil war will end; just watch both Avengers movies and you’ll have Stark and Cap holding hands saying “sry bro, will miss you!” — Whereas DC brings in a character like Doomsday, and gave it away horribly (shit marketing team there) which made fans say, “Well, that’s pointless ’cause they will never kill off Superman”.

And the fuckers did.

They killed off superman.

An attempt at something Marvel has gotten scared shitless over, even with a small side character like Phil Coulson. In a desperate attempt to keep the fans on their side they will bring him back to keep everyone happy; but will fuck up a character like the Mandarin. And please, do not mention Quicksilver in Age of Ultron. Introducing him, and killing him off in the same film! What is this, the same writing staff as AMC’s The Walking Dead?

DC, you grew balls! Big, brass, mother-fucking balls, and I love you for it! Thank you. Thank you, for growing these beautiful plums, in a beautiful bluish hue. (Three people, if they had read this far, will lose their shit at that).

BvS also uses modern terrorism in an attempt to make both Superman and the American government look like the bad guy by using Western terrorism and the terrorism of the Middle East. Example of Western Terrorism American president without saying no decides to nuke Doomsday without thinking of what it will do to Superman who is trying to do the right thing by helping them, which if he did his plan would of worked and the world would of been safe. Also looking at terrorism of Superman/Kryptonians destroying cities and monuments as aliens with no respect for humans, and in a modern way to get the modern audience on the side of understanding the best thing to do is to use what our real fear is in this world at the moment; being terrorism.

Colour grade

BvS is getting a lot of flack for these two things. As someone who takes pride in his own editing and grading, I can honestly say I feel that BvS is on the ball. The grading is great. It matches the tone explained above and has the warm feelings for Superman, the cold feelings for Batman and the gritty feeling for Doomsday. I love a well-shot and graded film. Doesn’t at fail at any point in making you feel what it wants you to feel, just by colour alone, and makes you believe those moments.

Editing

The editing is getting heaps of shade. I feel the issue here is people are getting it mixed with ‘pacing’. Now there’re a lot of fuck ups with pacing, that if the scenes were placed in the correct order, it would actually solve a lot of people’s issues. Some being that Lex changes suits in one scene because the start of the scene was a flashback and the end of the scene was bullshit and fucking confusing. Granted I didn’t notice it until the second viewing but still if those issues were fixed, we would have a lot of things sorted out. But please don’t hate on the editing. The film was well cut. The issue is in the screenplay…

Screenplay

Look I followed the plots happening in this film and didn’t find it confusing. But man, I can see why this pissed people off. The amount of subplots in this film would make anyone that is new to this universe, or a Marvel expert (from the films, not the comics) hate this film. It’s too much for some to be able to pay attention.

But for me, knowing the characters and this universe I didn’t think that was the bad thing about the screenplay. For me, it has to do with being based on my favourite comic book arc, The Dark Knight Returns. It only has one fucking scene from the comic, and puts it in there with hopes that it’s enough. It’s not enough! I get that Batman doesn’t trust Superman, but geez there are 2 books that set it up in TDKR. Where the fuck is that!?

And the immediate turnaround of the multiple ‘Martha’s??? — I admit guilty pleasure as a mama’s boy I dug this — still isn’t as strong as the comic. Batman should’ve kicked Supe’s dick in and said “Remember, I can kill you when I want. So be cool, dick”. Rather than freaking out over a name coincidence. Look I enjoy the emotion in the scene but its so thin in reality. Bad Goyer and Terrio. BAD! *Slaps hands*

Also, stop giving Snyder shit for the script. Yes, it’s a bad one. But his job as director is to present that script in the best way possible and he does make it a lot more bearable than it would be on the page, so give the mother fucker a break. Instead write your tweets to David Goyer and Chris Terrio. Again, I will defend this. The script is not all shit. There is some well-written dialogue for example:

lex-luthor-helipad

“What we call God depends upon our tribe, Clark Joe. Because God is tribal. God takes sides. No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from daddy’s fist and abominations. Mm. I figured way back: If God is all powerful — he cannot be all good.

And if God is all good, he cannot be all powerful. Just like you.”
— Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg)

Some of these lines of dialogue are written and performed with so much heart and in context of the character they are based on. It is one of the things that holds the film together well, whether it’s wit, or emotional writing, in some scenes it’s pulled off. Especially how Eisenberg pulls them off, chews the scenery and at the same time steals the show.

One thing that shits me with the film is the geography. What the fuck? Gotham is across the pond to Metropolis? Now this may be realistic in the comics and such, but even then, what the fuck?! Then, why does Gotham have Batman when Supes could probably decimate the crime in Gotham in one night? This makes no sense. I guess it makes sense in the world building but I always had this idea that Metropolis was like Vancouver in Canada, more towards that side of North America, and Gotham was like Chicago/Boston/New Jersey. How did these end up so close together? I… I just can’t even try to defend this. Im sorry. I failed you BvS, you’re on your own for this one.

Admittedly there is not a lot that annoyed me about the film that should. Comes down to the pacing of the screenplay and the geography of this new DCEU that really pissed me off. But, this isn’t the worst Batman movie to come out — yes, I said Batman movie, Batfleck’s moments were a lot stronger than Superman’s, so it’s a Batman movie to me and for a lot of other people.

Clark and Lois’s moments are really boring to a lot of people and some were not even needed. We need to take Amy Adam’s screen time and give it to Gal Gadot. Whether she be playing Wonder Woman or Diana Prince. Whatever, Adam’s part in this is not needed as much as it is made out to be, and that time would be better spent developing Diana Prince’s character.

When it comes down to it, it’s painting a huge fucking picture in 2-3 hours and it doesn’t do too bad a job of it. I know that there will be a fan edit of the film to take out some unnecessary scenes, and probably rearrange scene order and then people might respect it. But I can’t hate this movie. I’ve seen it 3 times now and each time it doesn’t slow down for me, it excites me and I notice small things I missed in the background and such. For me I got what I wanted/predicted: a dark Batman movie. And I am excited to see what comes next of this DCEU. Suicide Squad looks like it will have the fun that everyone is so upset about. That’s the Marvel Effect — comic book movies can’t be dark… THEY HAVE TO BE FUN!

If anything, this isn’t a perfect film. But what fucking comic book movie is? Hardly any will make it to a solid 10/10. They’re all above average and then Deadpool comes around, which has content we don’t get often in the comic book genre and we lose our lids! TEN-OUTTA-TEN FROM EVERYONE! Comic book movies have come a far way since Raimi’s Spider-Man — there were others before that, but fuck it, that’s the one where everyone started to care about this genre — and realistically since then, there has only ever been two comic book movies that reach a solid 11/10 on my scale: Dredd and Spider-Man 2.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an epic at nearly 3 hours long (whether theatrical or the upcoming extended cut) and has a whole lot of shit going on. It’s a world building exercise and shows a lot of potential for the series of films to come. From what I have seen from negative reviews, both fan and critical, it’s that BvS is something they doesn’t match what they’ve seen in the Marvel films. So you will hear a lot of “It’s too dark, not funny, and not fun”. Translation: “It’s not a Marvel film”; which really doesn’t even discuss the film itself. Yes, there are a lot of subplots in it that cover the range of drama, action, political and some romantic, but it gives this film and the characters in it a whole lot more depth than ever before.

For me BvS had what I wanted to see, which was not a Marvel movie. PERFECT! It also has elements that don’t get used to powerful effect as they should in Marvel movies: Cinematography, Colour Grading, Score and ballsy moments. That’s what I wanted to see. I gave it a 7/10 because there are flaws in this movie, but what movie in the comic book genre doesn’t?

In a world where people defend how great the Fast and Furious franchise is or expound on Michael Bay movies, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is not bad, it’s just different to what the Marvel audience and critics wanted. You want a bad comic book movie? Feel free to watch The Punisher with Dolph Lundgren. Because how the fuck can you hate one of the best fights in any superhero movie you have seen or will see:

Batman fighting Superman

batman-stomp

Which was fucking awesome.

Peace off

~ CorduroySams