“The End You’ve Always Feared Is Coming. It’s Coming, And The Blood Will Be On Your Hands…”
With screenplays for the likes of The Usual Suspects and Edge of Tomorrow on Christopher McQuarrie’s cinematic CV, it seemed only natural that McQuarrie would soon helm the US’s most longstanding and successful contemporary action franchise, where the transition from sole screenwriter to director has formed a winning partnership with Tom Cruise since the release of Jack Reacher in 2012 and the critically acclaimed Rogue Nation three years later. Returning to the fold this week with Fallout, the sixth Mission: Impossible release, McQuarrie reunites with the majority of his cast from Rogue Nation including Rebecca Ferguson (Life), Simon Pegg (Star Trek) and Alec Baldwin (The Departed) as Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is tasked with retrieving stolen plutonium cores before they fall into the hands of “The Apostles”, a terrorist cell with connections to “The Syndicate”, the primary antagonists from Rogue Nation which featured Sean Harris as their treacherous and anarchic leader. With spectacle in abundance, a barrage of breathless action sequences and an editing pace which holds your head in a storm of jaw-dropping disbelief, Fallout is the ultimate summertime blockbuster, an action movie which mixes style and substance as the best genre movies always do and a shining example of how a series can expand and improve when made with such precision and expertise.
With the franchise in general being more and more renowned for Cruise’s lust for practicality when it comes to stunts and set pieces, Fallout features some of the series’ best examples yet of Cruise at his most insane and death-defying. Whether it be a high-speed The Dark Knight inspired vehicle heist, a Casino Royale and Jason Bourne-esque rooftop chase, or a concluding aerial helicopter pursuit which channelled the opening act of Sam Mendes’ Spectre, Fallout perfectly blends the lines between fiction and reality, offering high-octane action on a constant basis in front of beautiful cinematography by Rob Hardy (Ex Machina, Annihilation) which makes you question how exactly a film which sees Cruise being put through the absolute wringer can be made without an over-reliance on digital effects. With an opening thirty minutes which does strangely drag after being bulked down with a crescendo of generic spy-genre exposition, Fallout isn’t perfect but is undoubtedly saved by the remaining two hours which provide a cracking amount of evidence for being the best example of the genre since Mad Max: Fury Road, and with Cruise and co. so obviously enjoying exploring the capacity for how far the action genre can be pushed to the limit before certain death, from an audience perspective, long may it continue.
Overall Score: 8/10
“I’m Putting Together A Team Of People With Special Abilities. I Believe Enemies Are Coming…”
Whilst it may seem that we are now in a world where every month bears witness to oh yet another superhero blockbuster, with Thor: Ragnarok still making significant moves at the box office, the release of Justice League is a particularly interesting beast. With the DC Universe already significantly tarnished to say the least thanks to the likes of Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman, the release of Wonder Woman earlier this year proved that the series was somewhat heading in the right direction, and whilst the DC universe seems to always be playing catchup to Marvel’s respective ongoing movie franchise, Justice League seems to be the real kicker in deciding the future success of the series as was The Avengers for Marvel, a film whose successes led the chance to delve deeper into the more subversive characters within Marvel’s respective comic history. Helmed once again by long-term DC collaborator, Zack Snyder and overseen for completion by the steady hand of Marvel aficionado, Joss Whedon, Justice League forges together characters both old and new in a popcorn laced team-up tackling the threat of Ciarán Hinds’ Steppenwolf, and whilst one would have hoped the latest addition to DCEU would follow the success of Patty Jenkins’ work on Wonder Woman, Justice League is an unfortunate giant explosive leap in the wrong direction, one which seems to not have learnt at all from the failings of its’ predecessors and that alone makes Snyder’s latest an agonisingly painful botch-job experience of the highest order.
With Superman gone and the world in mourning, Ben Affleck’s grizzy Bruce Wayne seeks to bring together a team of highly skilled superheroes in a bid to defeat the threat of the wholly uninteresting and lifeless Steppenwolf, who like every CGI-based villain in cinematic history, seeks to bring Earth under his apocalyptic control. Adding to the eclectic cast of characters therefore, Justice League brings Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher into the fold as The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg respectively, and whilst it is cheap and easy to compare the DCEU with the MCU everytime either has a new release, Justice League fails on a fundamental level of not having even the slightest of backstory for any of its’ leading characters before mangling them all together, resulting in a complete absence of empathy or willingness for them to succeed in their battle against evil. This of course is down primarily to the heavy handed approach of Warner Bros’ willingness to spurt out the next release as quickly as possible and completely disregard the Marvel approach of taking adequate time in developing its’ leading stars before mixing them into the bigger picture with Justice League just the icing on the cake for a universe which, aside from Wonder Woman, will be tarnished with a reputation of being the laziest big budget franchise in the history of cinema. Harsh you say? Not at all, with Justice League the type of movie which makes Suicide Squad look like The Dark Knight, with obvious weaknesses presenting them all over the place ranging from a non-existent storyline to cringe-laden chemistry between the titular team of indestructible heroes who come together simply for reasons of monetary incentives.
With a villain in the form of the poorly digitally designed Steppenwolf, a character who ironically does somewhat improve on the blood curdling awfulness of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, Justice League’s main antagonist is the epitome of the film’s issues, with heavy plot exposition acting as the character’s only limited development for a villain who too often resorts to Viking-esque growling and cliched fight scenes to come across as anything other as sleep-inducingly dull, and for a character who seems to strike fear into the heart of many of the film’s heroic protagonists, it comes at no surprise that Snyder has once again forged a wholly forgettable leading threat which at not one point manages to match the scale of even the most camp carnival esque qualities of DC’s wacky TV show, Gotham. With too many characters and not enough script for anyone to expand out of their 2D, cardboard box cutout performances, Justice League ultimately wastes its’ extensively impressive cast, with the likes of J.K. Simmons, Jeremy Irons and the outstanding qualities of Amy Adams simply being resorted to window dressing in favour of the likes of Ray Fisher and the inevitable return of Henry Cavill who are simply not good enough in their respective superhero roles. Justice League is seethingly awful, and for a movie which features the worldwide branding of Batman and Wonder Woman, Snyder’s movie is a farce of the highest order and one which laughs in the face of its’ fans by utilising beloved characters simply for reasons of box office projections, and with not enough redeemable aspects in sight, Justice League is the movie which I would think puts the DCEU finally to bed. Thank god for Patty Jenkins.
Overall Score: 2/10
After the ridiculous amount of cash Marvel’s Deadpool has taken since it’s release date all the way back in February, the world’s fixation on live-action comic book blockbusters clearly has hit an all-time high with it being only a mere month before the release of the latest superhero cash-cow, DC’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a film which not only has a hell lot of future investment riding on it, with it essentially being a stepping stone for the creation of the DC Universe in which films like Wonder Woman and Justice League can exist, but also suffers fundamentally from an extreme amount of hype and expectation deriding not only from hardcore fans but from the head executives at Warner who know if Dawn of Justice goes down the pan, the optimistic future, one in which is obviously a frivolous attempt at rivalling the overly addictive and highly successful Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, may start to look as dark and murky as the colour palette that embraces Zak Snyder’s behemoth of a blockbuster. With The Dark Knight trilogy’s Christopher Nolan to help him out, Snyder clearly had the blueprint of Man of Steel to follow on from with Dawn of Justice yet the sad and underlying truth of Dawn of Justice brings with it a deep sense of disappointment, with Batman v Superman being a incoherent and bloated CGI-fuelled mess, something of which doesn’t come across as the tent-pole of the future it was indeed meant to become.
Let’s start with the good shall we? The set-up of the underlying plot behind Dawn of Justice, one in which the ambiguity of Superman’s capabilities forces Batman to engage in means to stop him, urged by the Iago-esque doings of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and the chaos that occurred during the final act of Man of Steel in which Metropolis was well and truly given a hammering by our Krypton visitors, is definitely an interesting concept, one which gets to introduce the newest incarnation of Batman, with Ben Affleck’s take on the caped crusader being a riveting success. Where Affleck succeeds is unfortunately where Cavill fails, with his performance as Clark Kent being one of dire and utter dullness. Wet fish anyone? Cavill aside, Dawn of Justice only lessens in quality throughout it’s 150 minute run-time, a run-time which in itself results in a film bloated with extreme plot lines, plot lines that either make no sense whatsoever, with endless dream sequences set to leave many scratching their heads, or plot lines that seem to be there only for dramatic effect rather than any real purpose or meaning, with the scene in which Lois Lane discards and then attempts to get back the Kryptonite spear being rife with utter stupidity to say the least.
Where Man of Steel eventually began to lose steam was indeed during it’s final climactic act, one in which attempted to use as much CGI as possible in order to come across as epic but ultimately resulted in a 40 minute period of intense boredom and brain-melting digital effects. Well if Man of Steel was painful to watch at times, that has nothing on Dawn of Justice, a film so reliant on CGI effects to portray its’ action, you simply beg for for George Miller to come in and beg for proper real-life thrills, thrills that were evident within Nolan’s The Dark Night trilogy yet remain completely absent throughout the entirety of Snyder’s snooze-fest. When we finally arrive at the titular battle at around the two-hour mark, its’ sheer laziness and sleep-inducing reliance on CGI is just poor and wholly underwhelming. Oh yeah, and we then have an extra 30 minute fight scene featuring a CGI monster. Wow. What else is poor? Wonder Woman is on-screen for all of 5 minutes, whilst both Jeremy Irons and Diane Lane are criminally underused, yet the real crime is the sense of Nolan having no say on this film whatsoever as producer and the film being controlled completely by the effects ridden mind of Snyder, a man who simply cannot continue as the spearhead of DC’s project of the future. Batman v Superman is not exactly Fantastic Four, it just seems like it is for now, with the heavy sense of disappointment leaving me with a strange sense of pessimism regarding the future of live-action DC movies, a genre which still has the credence to declare The Dark Knight as the best of the best. As for Marvel, they are most definitely still in control. Let’s see what Captain America: Civil War brings. Excellence, I can only hope.
Dan’s Score: 4/10
So we know Dan hated it. I however felt it lived up to my very minimal expectations. I really enjoyed Man of Steel but Zak Snyder is as constant as a broken clock and he really did a number on this one. So let’s rattle off what is good about BvS. Firstly, Batfleck. His structure, costume and general portrayal was one of the more true to life Batmen that I’ve personally seen and he doesn’t sound like he needs a lozenge and some honey tea (Apart from the laughable bat scene). Gal Gadot was a brilliant Wonder Woman, albeit for only a short period, and she really did kick ass with her costume really being on point, unlike her back story, which wasn’t so much whilst, as we are all aware, Doomsday makes an appearance, one that is once again fantastic one that looked pretty damn good. I could sit here and rattle off a few more characters and names of those I’ve enjoyed as there is very little else that really made the movie. Sure, the action was good but the story was a mess of comic book Meta with events that are left unexplained and severely confusing for those out of the loop.
For instance (COMIC BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD), we know that Robin is dead, killed by the Joker. Or so we thought. The reality is that the recent Arkham Knight game reveals all and its’ main villain is actually Robin himself who felt betrayed by Batman and seeks revenge. So his appearance bursting out of a screen in a dream sequence in a costume that looks like Red Hood/Arkham Knight was jarring to say the least (Turns out it was The Flash for some fucking bizarre and ridiculous reason but I preferred my view). Everyone knows of the Joker and a lot may know of the Injustice series. The fighting game illustrates this series well as the Joker blows up Metropolis with a nuclear bomb killing many of the Justice League and Lois Lane. Superman goes ape shit and takes over the world and puts it under martial law while Batman leads a resistance against him, thus explaining the desert scene and all of the crazy costumes and military tech. Without rattling on more, you see that Zack isn’t looking at the typical consumer. He was targeting the followers of the comics which in a way is great but financially, is not viable and still requires prior knowledge to a film that is launching a new series.
As a general consumer, what else are the issues? My biggest gripe sits with Hans Zimmer. A fantastic composer who has done some astonishing pieces of work but his work on BvS was awful. It felt like cheese was leaking from the speakers, with a corny guitar rift ruining the atmosphere of what should have been an incredibly tense and violent action sequence. Visually, the movie was alright, Doomsday looked bad-ass and his special effects were pretty good but Batman’s movements didn’t look human in the slightest and looked more like Spider-man with a permanent blur across him whenever he had to make any semblance of haste. Also, why does have to approach people in desperate need of help in an overly dramatic and incredibly slow fashion? Alright, Clark. Pack it in you prick. This house is about to float down the river. I can’t quite understand the need to constantly portray yourself as a god but complain when people see you as just that. But Clarky boy has nothing on the particularly annoying Lex Luthor. Sure, it may have been a decent performance but I’d like to clarify that I don’t ever remember seeing Lex Luthor act so bizarre. Perhaps he was doing his best impression of the Riddler and was trying to reinvent himself as a clown without make-up. The sharp, slick and calculated psychopath that I remember has become a crazy Joker goon with incoherent babbling at the top of his agenda.
Thus we come to the story; A convoluted mess with links so frail, a fart from the most petite of butterflies would send them careening through the museum of very expensive, fragile artefacts of a long lost world with the discretion of Russia in the Ukraine. Think of it as an origin movie. Something to whet the appetite for the future stories within the universe and yes, it does set that ground well but for 150 minutes, it sure did drag on. I look forward to seeing Jason Mamoa tackle Aquaman and finally (hopefully) give the character justice for the years of ridicule and watching Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Women in what will be a very important milestone in her career. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, it was a fun movie and hopefully it’s just a minor hiccup that will give the next instalment a bump in motivation to produce a better, more flowing piece. But this is Snyder, so piss in a bucket and call it Granny’s peach tea for all he cares.
PS – If anyone has that damn sexy note the Batmobile makes I want it now. Kthxbye.
Pete’s Score: 6.5/10
Overall Score: 5.25/10
From Russia With Love
With gun’s and gangster’s auteur Guy Ritchie seemingly popping off the radar recently, even after the release of the two Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes films, which let’s face it, were rather forgettable affairs in comparison to the much better BBC series, his decision to return with a cinematic release of the famous U.S television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E was a strange one to say the least. Yet after promising trailers and a superb cast including Man of Steel‘s Henry Cavill, The Social Network‘s Archie Hammer, and queen of 2015, Alicia Vikander who has starred in everything this year from Ex Machina to Seventh Son, Ritchie’s latest cinematic offering was something I was rather excited for yet its’ final product ultimately is something unfortunately much more forgettable with only rare flashes of brilliance in what can only be regarded as great idea not fulfilled to its’ full potential.
After news of a potential nuclear threat is made by business mogul and suspected criminal Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki), American agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) is tasked with teaming up with Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) in order to combat the supposed threat, aided by Russian defector Gaby Teller whose missing father may or not be aiding such developments. With moments of sheer entertainment, particularly in regards to the banter-esque relationship between our two main heroes, and scenes of high comedic value, with the late torture scene coming first to mind, The Man From U.N.C.L.E shows signs of how Ritchie could have potentially found an overly winning formula for such a film, but is ultimately let down by an overly cliched plot, a shocking lack of overall threat, and a desire to retreat to flashbacks to spoon-feed details of the plot. A missed opportunity? Possibly, but for the time it was on, The Man From U.N.C.L.E was reasonably harmless, just not overly memorable.
Overall Score: 6/10
Its here! For the love of god its finally here!
Comic book movies have been on the rise for many years and the Dark Knight trilogy cemented itself into a market that was predominately dominated by Marvel. With Man of Steel, DC hit the nail on the head and created a truly great Superman movie, even though previous iterations sucked just as bad as Paris Hilton and her musical career. Though this time around, Superman has taken on a persona very reminiscent to that of the Injustice comic/game series.
Failed as a god by the world for his powers, it appears that Gotham’s Dark Knight doesn’t take to much of a shining to the false prophet and comes to bring justice to his ass. Although I couldn’t see a shoutout to Aquaman or Wonder Woman, I honestly cannot wait to see their role in all of this and finally see Aquaman beat out his crappy reputation! Along with rumours of the Flash popping up and a confirmed Cyborg appearance, this looks to be the start of a very exciting path for the universe
Let us know what you think of the trailer down below!