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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Film Review)

A Warner Bros. Film, Directed by Zach Snyder

Released: 25th March 2016

Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter and Laurence Fishburne.

Review: What if Batman was real?

A figure so traumatised by a childhood event that he dresses up as a devilish creature and administers his own brand of ‘justice’ to those he feels deserves it. He would be brutal, unrelenting and focused; he would have a complete disregard for the lives of those he pursues.

This is definitely the case in this milestone superhero movie epic. Batman takes down criminals with a brutality akin to his fighting style in the Arkham Knight game and its predecessors.  His fight choreography is both beautiful and harsh. It works well, until the film gets to its titular battle, at which point all that brutality is focused on Superman. At which point you’re once again reminded just what you’re watching: Something unpleasant.

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At no point was this fight fun to watch

Batman v Superman was a film that held a lot of promise. It was meant to be, as Lex Luthor states “The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world”.

But in DC’s desire to match Marvel’s cinematic universe, it went too far; failing to focus on what the film actually should have been about. On paper, the idea that Superman, a godlike figure who could destroy the world if he wanted, would attract scrutiny from men like Batman and Lex Luthor, makes for a good film. But Zach Snyder ham-handedly throws in Justice League cameos and irrelevant dream sequences (one of which is somehow orchestrated by the Flash?) which add nothing to the plot and are more confusing than helpful.

Not only is it plagued with unnecessary storytelling, but the direction itself is something rather tragic. The film jumps about from Clark in Metropolis, to Bruce in Gotham, to Clark in the Africa, to Lex in Metropolis, to Bruce having another unnecessary dream, to Wonder Woman wandering around, to etc. etc. with no real time spent to trying to justify what’s going on. And if Snyder’s jumpy film-cutting hadn’t already put you off, all the laser-beams and explosions that completely blot out everything that’s going on will.

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Guest starring a troll from Lord of the Rings

The writing is also a mess. Whilst characters like Jeremy Iron’s Alfred and Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White offer humorous little breaks from the rather maddening plot-line and begin to bring the film back to reality, other characters like Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor stop that in its tracks, speaking in unnecessary and unbelievable grandiose styles that really don’t fit the piece.

And then there’s Wonder Woman, who doesn’t really say much. She’s suggested to be a mysterious bad-ass, but then barely features and has all her appearances drummed out by horrific rock theme-music.

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Keep an eye out for W.W. rocking the 1910s garb with Chris Pine

The messiness of the film is at its most apparent right at the end, where they orchestrate the ‘Dawn of Justice’. Throughout the film, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are seen ever so briefly, and at its conclusion, Bruce states that they must find the ‘others’ as he knows there is a greater threat coming than Superman or Doomsday.

Why is it Bruce deciding this? Because obviously he’s pretty much the main character. His Batman is efficient, his motivations drive the narrative and his quest is told in full. Meanwhile, poor Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent is naught but a side piece; a ragdoll for Batman to fling around after exposing him to Kryptonite.

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He’s had a pretty bad day

If you’re a fan of Superman, I’d warn you to stay away from this film. People thought Man of Steel was bad (although I for one quite liked it), but this film basically should have been advertised (if you’ll excuse my use of expletives) as ‘FUCK SUPERMAN’.


 

This review comes from my website in progress, newtocomics.com.

It’ll be filled with comic book suggestions, news, reviews and character bios to get you up to date. If that strikes your fancy, then follow me on Twitter for progress on when it goes live. And if it doesn’t strike your fancy, please do it anyway because it’s for my MA project and I’d love you forever.

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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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The Justice League Movie Slate, Part Two: Overkill

So here we are again; I briefly talked about Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad in part one.
In part two, I’ll talk a bit about the other eight DC films coming to the silver screen, before capping off with my thoughts on what this means for superhero movies in general.

2017 follows through with Wonder Woman and Justice League, Part One.

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Now Wonder Woman, I’m not so sure about. It’s a must, that’s for sure. Wonder Woman is part of DC’s trinity; she’s easily as important as Superman and Batman; she just hasn’t had her time to shine. This movie needs to be made, and bringing it out before Justice League is important, I think. I also think it’s smart that DC have preempted that Wonder Woman doesn’t have as strong a following as Batman or Superman, and so have decided to introduce her in their joint flick. It gives the audience a chance to know what they are getting themselves into. And I think painting her as a child of Zeus is pretty cool too; it gives her a greater air of importance and highlights that she’s pretty powerful in her own right. She’s not just Superwoman with a golden lasso. Unfortunately, the only thing I’ve so far seen Gal Gadot in was Fast and Furious 6, and whilst I enjoyed it, the acting wasn’t exactly something I was wowed by, so this one remains a ‘wait-and-see’.

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Justice League however, I am much more excited about. I remember when Avengers Assemble came out, and for the first time, the world was treated to a superhero team-up film that had brought together separate characters who could all carry their own pictures. Essentially, what is happening now is that we’re doing that again, except this time Batman and Superman are in it. Don’t get me wrong, as I said before, I much prefer Marvel, but even I can acknowledge that Batman and Superman are infinitely more important in popular culture than Captain America and Iron Man. It’s a shame. But it’s true. They’re awesome. Even if it completely flunks, it’s still going to be the biggest, most iconic comic book movie, like, ever.

2018 gives us a break from Justice League-y stuff (sort of) by presenting Aquaman and The Flash.

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Out of the two, Aquaman is the one I would say I’m the most curious about. I don’t know too much about either character, but I remember finding the hooked, bearded Aquaman in the old Justice League cartoon to be particularly interesting. Or I probably just thought he was badass, because I was a kid, and that’s how I measured things back then; badass-ness. And to be fair, I think going in the direction the DCCU seems to be, that’s what Warner Bros. are aiming for. Not a prance-y orange Aquaman that everyone seems to think the character is, but an awesome, hulking brute who does whatever he wants, because he’s the King of the majority of the planet. And who better to portray that than Jason Momoa. He doesn’t look anything like Aquaman. And that’s important. It’s a shame people can’t seem to realise that Aquaman isn’t just a joke, despite his weird name, costume, and most obvious powers, but if Warner Bros. are going to change public opinion, Jason Momoa is the way to do it. He was Conan, for chrissakes.

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I don’t really have much to say about The Flash if I’m honest. I didn’t think Ezra Miller really looked the part, but as I just detailed previously, that’s not especially important. One thing I’ve always thought when thinking about the Flash is that he’s the youthful member of the League, whether that actually be the case or not, and Miller definitely shows that. I’m going to try to figure out more of an opinion later though; might watch The Flash TV pilot after this is all done.

Getting near to the end, 2019 returns to Justice League-dom with Justice League, Part Two and Shazam.

And reading those two, my anticipation for 2019 sky-rockets.

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I don’t know whether it was a mistake on behalf of CBR, but I feel like that ‘Part Two’ is the most important part of the whole announcement, as it obviously indicates that the Justice League is a two parter, rather than a film and its sequel. In my opinion, that in itself shows that this whole Justice League plan isn’t going to be as rushed as everyone thinks it is, because it means that essentially, DC are taking three films to tell the story of the Justice League’s formation, rather than just one. Dawn of Justice see’s the League beginning to unite, Part One brings up the threat that unites them, and Part Two rounds them out as the World’s Greatest Heroes. Or so I assume. Either way, it’s one to watch.

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And then there’s Shazam! with Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam. Again, Shazam isn’t a character I know too much about, but from what I do know, he could be one of my favourite DC characters. More importantly, however, this film will most probably be the biggest detour from the dark, gloomy route that DC is taking with their other films, seeing as Shazam/Captain Marvel is a kid/teenager. You’re not going to have a superhero film starring a child end with a villain having his neck snapped. It just wont happen. It’s just bizarre that Shazam is so late in the game, seeing as Johnson has already been cast…

Finally comes 2020, which is where the slate starts to lose me somewhat, finishing off the decade with a rebooted Green Lantern and Cyborg.

I don’t have too much to say about either of these, really, except that I wish they came earlier on, so DC could save the best until last, which definitely isn’t the case here.

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Green Lantern will be interesting purely because it, hopefully, will be a big sci-fi epic, rather than your standard super-hero film, which was one of my favourite things about Man of Steel. It was the sci-fi film that I had been waiting for all of 2013, and the one that Star Trek Into Darkness turned out not to be.

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Cyborg, however, is the biggest disappointment in my eyes. It’s a good move because it means DC is giving a black super-hero a film before anyone else (not counting Hancock here), but that’s about it. I know Cyborg has been a founding member of the Justice League for three years now, but his inclusion means a lack of Martian Manhunter, one of the true founders of the Justice League, way back in nineteen-whenever. Martian Manhunter is one of the Leaguers that near everyone grew up with. The only way he isn’t is if you only got into comics in the last three years, and read exclusively new material, which is a shame. I’m not saying Martian Manhunter could carry a film better than Cyborg, I just think neither of them could do better than someone else, say Hawkman. There are other films I’d much rather see, especially seeing as how in my mind, these two are the Black Widow or Hawkeye of the Justice League. They should be in the League only, without a solo film. Better yet, take a few steps back and put Cyborg back in the Teen Titans where he belongs.

If DC want diversity, they can just use John Stewart for Green Lantern rather than Hal Jordan. After all, it’s not a new universe.

The biggest problem with all of this however is that there’s no way that comic-book movies won’t outstay their welcome so much quicker now.

Marvel and DC both have at least two films a year scheduled to 2020 and 2028 respectively, and then on top of that you have one or two films from Fox and Sony. And then there’s the unannounced Batman and Superman sequels. Oy, it’s just too much.

“This is the [Film Schedule the world] deserves, but not the one it needs right now”

God, how awesome was The Dark Knight trilogy. I miss that.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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The Justice League Movie Slate, Part One: Entitlement

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Breaking News

So two days ago, something big happened the world of comic book movies; you probably heard about it.

DC announced their movie schedule up until 2020, not including the next Batman and Superman films. Mostly new film ideas, intertwining stories, and two films with a large enough scale to rival The Avengers.

A Comic Fan’s Sense of Entitlement

Now ever since Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was announced, despite my preference to Marvel comics, I was always slightly more excited to see how DoJ would turn out than I was about whatever films Marvel was coming out with.

It doesn’t matter that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one of my favourite superhero films ever, or that Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be out of this world. What matters to me was that this was something new. I watch the Marvel films because I’ve read the source material, and I’m interested to see what the adaptations will be like. However, whilst at this stage I have read a fair few DC comics, for the most part, it is still relatively unknown to me, and as such the movies come across fresher; I’m just interested to see what the story will be, what will happen, and how DC are going to fight back against Marvel’s constant kicking of their arse’s.

So I was listening to an iFanboy podcast the other week, in which one of the speakers pointed out that the worst thing about comic book fans is their sense of entitlement. As fans, we have enjoyed these characters far longer than everyone else. We were reading about them at a time when people didn’t even know who they were. I remember back in 2007, I, being the weird little nerd that I am, updated my Hotmail (how times have changed, eh?) status to ‘R.I.P. Captain America’. I quickly deleted that, because I was inundated with questions asking who Captain America was. It’s only been seven years, but now everyone knows who Captain America is. EVERYONE. But I digress.

My point is, that I could tell you excruciatingly unimportant details about the Marvel Universe, and from my perspective, I have a certain informed viewpoint about how the characters should be. As such, I’m not that up for debating a lot of these topics, because the majority of the time, (I think) I will know the definitive answers and reasoning’s to the discussion from a comic point of view. Discussing it doesn’t interest me that much, because unless I’m talking to someone who is just as nerdy as I am, then really I’m just having to feign lack of knowledge so that my conversee (?) can try to make whatever point they’re trying to make without me shooting them down because (I think) I know they are misinformed. It’s unfortunate and a bit arrogant, but for most comic fan’s, it’s the truth. And even when it isn’t, that exact sense of entitlement that comic fans have mean that I wouldn’t admit it when I was wrong because I and others like me are so sure of our comic knowledge that we wouldn’t claim to be wrong unless we were just doing it to make someone feel better. That and the fact that most people I know aren’t that interested in comic book news like I am. And yes, there can be some joy found in educating someone in a subject, but sometimes there’s just too much ground to cover, and it becomes a bit much. Especially when the other party doesn’t actually care all that much

Again, I’ve gone off topic a bit. I think what I’m trying to say is that with DC, I don’t have that overconfidence about what I do and do not know. On a basic level, I get downgraded from ‘know it all’ to a bit more than a ‘casual observer’. I can have my opinions, and I can engage in a more interesting discussion about it, because I know enough to maintain a conversation, but I don’t know enough where said conversation will be one-sided.

Ten Movies, Five Years

So with that in mind, here are my thoughts on each film announcement; what I understand about it; what I expect to see; and what I would like to see.

2016 brings us Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

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I’ll try to keep my thoughts on BvS:DoJ brief, because frankly, we’ve all known about that one for a while now. After listening to various things and reading various sources, I have come to realise that doing what Marvel is doing, but backwards, is in fact the right way to go about things for DC. Although to some extent they are copying Marvel’s business model somewhat, if they were to copy it in the exact same way as Marvel actually do it, it would seem like far too much of a rip-off. DC needs to get their products out fast, but don’t have the luxury of testing the waters in the way that Marvel did, because if they tried and failed on any level, everyone would just dismiss them entirely. Establishing that Superman was not the first part of the DC Universe is important, because it means you can just jump straight in. Not everyone needs an origin story, and the majority of Justice League characters are fairly well-known anyway.

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Suicide Squad, I think is also an interesting and smart move, especially considering that they’re looking to pull some big names to round out its roster. After the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, weirder properties have proven that they do have their place in the world of comic book film. More importantly, however, this would help hammer down the point that DC Universe didn’t start with Superman. To have a film about super-villain redemption, the super-villains need to have been around for some time in order for them to be captured and redeemed. This means, by extension, that unless all super-crime was dealt with by the authorities before Superman’s arrival, other heroes like Batman need to have also been around for quite some time. It reiterates that there is more going on than we’ve seen, and I feel like for DC’s approach to retain some level of uniqueness, that much is important.

But with that in mind, I’ll have to save the rest for part two, in which years 20172020 will follow.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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Distractions: Batmen and Kaiju

“The Arrogance of (Students) is Thinking (Essays) are in our Control, and Not the Other Way Around”

It’s that time again. The year is winding down, and about this time next month, I’ll be preparing to get on a plane and fly off from rainy Wales to sunny California. I can’t wait. Between now and then? A few parties, saying goodbye to friends, moving all my belongings between various houses… and completing an essay and an exam.

Obviously, out of all that, those last two are the least appealing to me. However, for once, I’m actually on top of things. Although I didn’t do any work over the Easter holidays, I’ve still managed to work at a relaxed pace, yet complete essays before the deadlines hit. I can’t claim that these essays are the best quality work I’ve ever done, but frankly at this stage, with too much time on my hands, my mind has been elsewhere.

Primarily in the world of contemporary American Cinema.

First up, there’s the new Batman costume reveal.

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I for one think it looks great. As much as I love Christian Bale’s Dark Knight trilogy (I used to religiously watch The Dark Knight nearly every week) I think this is the first time Batman truly looks like Batman. As a comic book fan, I love that they’ve chosen to take his appearance in a way that sticks much closer to the source material; it gives him the intended weary look, makes him look capable of brutalizing criminals, and strongly differentiates from what’s already been seen on the big screen.

In fact, so far my excitement for the Man of Steel sequel has remained pretty high. I’m fine with the casting of Ben Affleck, especially after watching Argo last year. I even don’t mind Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor; I think it’s an interesting new take, especially when you remember Eisenberg is the same age as Henry Cavill. The only issue I have so far is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

It’s not that I have anything against Gadot; she looks stunning. But unfortunately, she also looks a bit too dainty for an Amazonian warrior. But whatever; I initially thought the same thing about Affleck, and he’s proven everyone wrong with his impressive muscle gain. I have hope for this franchise, even if I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan.

The other thing my minds been pretty focused on is the latest Godzilla movie.

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I’ve watched the trailers over and over and scoured the net for reviews. However, to my disappointment, the first couple I read weren’t very positive. Describing the film as a misleading disappointment, these reviews have left my conflicted, as the epic Kaiju flick maintains high ratings on both iMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps it’s for the best; with my hopes lowered exponentially, chances are that I’ll now enjoy the film far more when I see it tomorrow.

But more on that tomorrow night…

 

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Comic Books, Film & TV, Life

 

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