“You Have Been My Greatest Love. Be Careful, Diana. They Do Not Deserve You…”
Whilst many audiences could be forgiven for experiencing a somewhat turgid time at the cinema within the summer period, suffering from a duo hit of remakes and sequels amidst an air of superhero fatigue, particularly within a year in which the two major forces in the form of DC and Marvel Comics are warring face to face in a contest which rivals the Battle of Helms Deep for sheer epic eventfulness, with more films than ever being released which focus on big-screen adaptations of everyone’s favourite literary heroes. Whilst Marvel waits on hold for the time being, with Spider-Man: Homecoming set for release next month, the ball is currently in DC’s court this week with the release of Wonder Woman, the fourth entry in the so-far much maligned DC Universe, but more importantly, the first real big-screen adaptation of the Amazonian Queen and the first superhero film since Elektra to be solely focused on a leading female character. Adding to the winning formula, Patty Jenkins, director of the Oscar winning serial killer drama Monster, takes the lead of a movie which holds so much in attempting to add a sense of integrity into a franchise which has been slowly dwindling in the shadow of Marvel’s many successes. Thankfully, Wonder Woman is indeed a winning return to form for DC, taking a brilliantly cast leading star and working with a script which adds an element of fun and adventure back into a series which has been sinking into the shallow depths of despair.
Whilst her introduction within the mighty mess of Batman V. Superman was overly rushed and ineffective, Wonder Woman perfectly crafts a backstory for a character who to most audiences may be completely alien, with WW possibly being the first time understanding the nature and background of such an infamous leading comic character. With Gal Gadot in the leading role, the DC Universe has finally hit the first mark in terms of casting, putting to shame recent debacles such as Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther and Jared Leto’s overly wasted Joker, with her physical ability and enviable natural screen presence adding organic depth to a character who is represented more than adequately in Gadot’s shoes. Pairing up with the always reliable Chris Pine, the narrative does reek somewhat of similarity at times however, using the first half of the movie to generate backstory whilst using the latter as a chance to once again conclude with a staggeringly dull CGI boss battle, yet the comedic element which rips throughout the dialogue is effective enough to combat a two hour plus running length, a decision perhaps primarily based upon Marvel’s successes in mixing action, drama and comedy within most of their many releases. If Wonder Woman is the direction in which the DC Universe is heading, sign me up for more, and whilst Jenkins doesn’t really offer anything particularly new to the superhero scene, the brilliance of Gadot in the leading role is the best thing DC has done since Nolan was around. No, it’s not The Dark Knight by a long shot, but Wonder Woman is still a success.
Overall Score: 7/10
“The Answer To What Is Happening To You Is Here. You Five Are The Power Rangers…”
Of all the many facets of my well-nurtured youth between the mid 1990’s and the early years of the 20th century, Power Rangers was the pretty much the last thing I personally had in mind to be reincarnated and re-imagined for the purpose of reaching out to a modern-day audience, yet here we are this week reviewing a movie which not only conjures up a youth-infused opinion regarding the sheer awesomeness of 1995’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a film which featured the iconic presence of Paul Freeman as Ivan Ooze and in an adult-fuelled retrospect, isn’t as awesome as originally thought, but also begs the question where Hollywood will eventually stop when it comes to flogging and remaking as many footnotes of entertainment that they possibly can. Featuring a primarily youth-infused cast such as Me, Earl and the Dying Girl’s RJ Cyler and The Martian’s Naomi Scott, each battling for screen time against not only their similarly aged peers but the famous figures of both Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks, Power Rangers is a tiresome and wholly predictable CGI-fuelled mess which can’t decide whether it wants to adhere to a Nolan-esque level of maturity or come across as just an overly corny cheese-fest, resulting in a movie which bears similarities to the latest adaptation of Fantastic Four in all the worst possible ways.
Straight off the bat, Power Rangers suffers from a fundamental flaw of having five leading characters who aren’t only ridiculously underdeveloped but are just outright annoying, with introductions ranging from a criminalised youth who finds spare time to wreak havoc on the local town to a bitter bully who thinks it’s fun to sex shame her friend and assault her boyfriend whilst wondering why each of these relationships goes downhill rather fast. Although I understand there is a level of flexibility within a narrative which centres around superheroes and aliens but it takes even the most optimistic of audiences to accept that the five youths portrayed on-screen are indeed the best humanity has to offer. Aside from monotonous central characters, Power Rangers suffers too from the same illness which has raged Michael Bay and Zak Snyder movies for years by including a final act which can only be described as an amalgamation of Man of Steel and Transformers in the worst way possible, utilising awful CGI in creating foes which not only come across as spitting images of the watchers from Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, but are as threatening as a battery powered furby.
Whilst the contractual duties of both Cranston and Banks are both adhered to in some form, both appear and act in ways which can only be seen as dollar-ringed, with the former literally doing absolutely nothing in the twenty seconds he is on screen both in physical and digital form, whilst the latter taking the form of the villainous Rita Repulsa, a simply terrible villain whose penchant for gold infused items can only be regarded as a metaphor for Banks’ appetite for a Power Rangers signed cheque, thanks to a performance which bears similarities to Eddie Redmayne’s camp-fuelled monstrosity in Jupiter Ascending, just without a sense of memorability. Power Rangers ultimately is two hours of film-making recklessness which you won’t get back and being aware of the film-maker’s promise of at least a SIX movie story arc, perhaps we can live in the hope of their first offering being indeed the worst of the bunch. In conclusion, 2017’s Power Rangers is the type of movie in which you leave longing for the ripeness of a 1990’s Ivan Ooze in order to push it into a realm of enjoyment which is severely lacking through almost two elongated hours of dullness. Not for me.
Overall Score: 3/10
“Hey Batman! I’m Rubbing My Butt All Over Your Stuff! Gonna Have To Rename This The “Buttmobile”…”
A few years back, the appeal of an animated, feature-length Lego movie did indeed falter at first input into my mind, with the only response to the existence of such being an unashamedly sarcastic giggle, a response which in hindsight was one of undeniable small-mindedness considering the monumental success of The Lego Movie back in 2014 and the irritable notion of walking out the cinema singing “Everything Is Awesome” for the foreseeable future, which in itself resulted in astute looks of bewilderment from those within my singing range. With power however comes great responsibility and more importantly, a sequel, a sequel which this time focuses primarily on the Caped Crusader himself and a sequel which continues the sharp, witty standards set by the original whilst successfully improving upon its’ predecessor by being a much more relatable and comedically astute animated offering. Being a huge fan of Gotham’s most infamous export anyway, The Lego Batman Movie is an undeniable universal success, providing a steady output of eye-boggling animation for the younger viewers as well as a rafter of constant jokes to keep the older audience smiling from beginning to end.
With a lightning-fast string of laugh-out-loud quips, puns and nods to the world of comics throughout its’ more than satisfactory ninety minute runtime, The Lego Batman Movie is a movie which lays to waste most so-called comedies of recent years, relying on a mixture of gold-plated one-liners and animated slapstick amidst a narrative which obviously verges on the edge of absurdity from the get-go, one which features a broken hearted Joker and a selection of infamous villains from a wide range of different universes such as Harry Potter’s Voldemort, Sauron from The Lord of the Rungs, and my personal favourite; the Daleks, all of whom team up against the most egoistic yet unrelentlessly hilarious incarnation of Bruce Wayne yet, one which gives Christian Bale’s portrayal a run for its’ money. Whilst the film does become too fast-paced at times, with the structure so relentless you live in fear of missing certain jokes and particular Easter eggs, The Lego Batman Movie is a superb and mightily entertaining piece of cinema, one which not only adds to the argument of the current golden age of animation but one which will result in you never watching any other Batman movie in the same way ever again. Everything is awesome once again.
Overall Score: 8/10
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
Dan – With my local multiplex offering the chance to watch a preview screening of Marvel’s new offering in the form of Fantastic Four, a reboot of the widely panned Chris Evans/Jessica Alba films released ten and eight years ago respectively, it was one of the rare occasions in which I went into a high-profile release without a sense of whether it was set to be a masterpiece or a complete turkey due to the miracle that is social media, something of which I believe results in a much more reliable and fresh opinion in one’s opinion of that film. One thing that has always impressed me about the abundance of Marvel movie releases and the subsequent Cinematic Universe, harking back to the release of Iron Man in 2008, is that throughout its long list of releases, all the films within such a universe have always tended to be in the positive spectrum when it comes to a critical stance, where although some are much better than others (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy), nearly all have also been rather solid, if rather formulaic, without one seemingly sticking out and declaring itself as the black sheep of the bunch. With the release of Fantastic Four however, although not being a part of the MCU in terms of the bigger picture, it seems that this particular run of good Marvel fortune has seemingly come to an end, with Josh Trank’s reboot being a complete mess from beginning to end, resulting in a movie on par with the widely panned original releases ten years previous.
When boy genius Reed Richards (Miles Teller, Whiplash) is given the opportunity to further his studies into the boundaries between parallel dimensions by Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards), he and his team of like-minded scientists including Sue Storm (Kate Mara, House of Cards), Johnny Storm (Micheal B. Jordan, Chronicle) and the reluctant Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell, Dead Man’s Shoes) successfully gain access to the parallel world known simply as “Planet Zero”. One drunken night, Reed, Johnny, Victor and close friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell, Jumper), decide to be the first to venture into the unknown plant and inadvertently witness Victor seemingly fall to his death, whilst bringing back with them a range of powers that have not only changed their own genetic structure, but that of Sue who was attempting to help them return from Planet Zero. With their new-found powers and abilities, the team not only must adjust to their radical changes, but the threat of impending doom from something they thought they had once lost but has now returned with a vengeance. So, in terms of the premise of Fantastic Four, it is pretty much what we all expected, with a redesign of the origin of our four main heroes and an influence of their biggest enemy, Doctor Doom, in an attempt to give them their first taste of heroism, all of which was given away in the rather overplayed trailers. So with a solid, if rather unsurprising, story to helm it, Fantastic Four was never set to be anything as good as previous superhero entries but the completed picture can only be classed as something of a complete disaster with a wide range of faults and issues that succeed only in making it one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far.
With recent superhero movies attempting to redesign the notion of what such a film entails, helped by the success, both critically and financially of The Dark Knight trilogy, Fantastic Four seemingly has decided to completely disregard such ideas, with the added depth that has been highly prevalent in recent comic-related movies missing entirely, resulting in characters that I don’t overly care for and a story that is completely off the chains to say the least in terms of its’ narrative structure and discipline, evidenced by a final act that not only is rushed completely off its’ feet, but has no dramatic or logical impact whatsoever aside from the fact that a big-budget Hollywood movie like this has to have at least some sort of scene whereby destruction and only destruction is the key concept. I mean come on guys, did your editing or production team simply bypass watching the film as a whole before releasing it, or were they just not bothered about the critical appeal of such a film and instead took the Micheal Bay approach in that big explosions and fire results in making big money? Well if that is the case, unfortunately for you, Fantastic Four will not take Avengers-like levels of cash and instead will only be seen for what it is; a fantastic disaster from start to finish which not only will anger cinema viewers who will no doubt pay to witness such drivel, but the Marvel fans who were waiting for at last a solid take on one of their most beloved comic creations, something of which they definitely did not get this time around.
Adding to the mediocrity of Fantastic Four is its’ fundamental contradictory in what it wants to see itself as. Is it a dark, adult, comic film in similar vein to Watchmen, or instead a light-hearted, comedic take on the superhero movie like Guardians of the Galaxy? Too many times the film seemingly flipped in and out of its’ true intentions with cheesy one liners being offset with scenes of shocking violence whilst the calm and collective beginning being transposed with a shoddy collapse at the films’ conclusion all resulting in a film, which although must have had good intentions, seemingly being made without a care in the world, something of which angers me deeply as lover of film. The one saving grace of the film? The cast, with Miles Teller leading the way in doing the best he can with the script he was handed, whilst it is good to see Reg E. Cathey getting more of a shot in Hollywood after his heart-braking performances in House of Cards. But in terms of the good, that’s just about it. Ironically, director Josh Trank has come out this week stating that the reason for Fantastic Four sucking so much is due to the input and influence of 20th Century Fox, and that his version would be receiving much better reviews if not for their desire to edit and change. Well Mr, Trank, if that is the case then you have my sympathies, but for now we are left with a shoddy, out-of-place, disaster-ridden raspberry that not only will be quickly forgotten, but will hopefully be lost in the vaults of cinema completely and left to die along with its’ equally as bad predecessors ten years previous. Want my advice? Watch Ant-Man again.
Dan’s Overall Score: 3/10
Pete – Lets put it this way, Fantastic 4 is as fantastic as an empty bottle of Fanta filled with lukewarm piss. Its as if Josh Trank wanted to make the worst Marvel movie in history. How someone can actually enjoy this, I will never know. We can’t even class it as a child’s entrance film into the MCU because there is so little substance, you may as well let your kid watch paint dry.
Let me make one thing clear, these actors suck. They suck more than Kim Kardashian. The casting was just awful. Pretty much every incarnation I’ve seen of FF source material has involved adults. The group were of a serious age to be taking part in space age opportunities, not borderline psychopathic children that where clichés from High School Musical. The teen angst drips from this and it has to be one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching. Oh, big spoiler here, Doom dies. Deader than a doornail. Sucked into some power hunger hole that tore him into pieces and it was probably for the best. Hopefully he will never come back to grace the screen with his awful costume that looked more like a morph suit than it did the real Doom. Don’t insult the source material with such an awful depiction. Although, this is honestly the only action that happens in the film. The last 10 minutes of the film is occupied with it while the rest of the experience is tortuous attempts at storytelling.
Dan speaks of the indecisiveness of the plot from gritty and dark to ‘comedy’ and I couldn’t agree more. Every attempt at character development was removed, deaths were played off as something not relevant and these “incredibly smart children” are fucking morons. I’ve watched many movies in my time and more so with the creation of this blog but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like throwing faeces at the screen and swinging out like fucking Tarzan 10 minutes into a film. Sure, The Counsellor was bad, like real bad; but Christ, at least they tried.
You know what made it worse? The acting. Even the extras were awful. Often you would catch one staring at the camera lens like its some sort of mythical creature with a creepy grin slapped across their face. Obviously they’re just extras who somehow landed a quick role in the flick but when the main cast can’t type on a keyboard in a convincing manner, is almost an indefinite sign that they have no idea what they’re doing. At least put a little effort into what you are ‘doing’. Perhaps write an essay on how you’re such a terrible actor and that you really don’t want to be on a film that everyone will see because you don’t want your reputation to sink any further into the precipice of Josh Trank’s vacant mind than it already has.
I’m not going to argue against Dan. I’m in fact, going to congratulate him on such restraint. The awful composition, shots, music, story, acting, character development, design and visuals were trash for a Marvel film. Perhaps if 20th Century Fox actually worked with Marvel on this, we could have finally got the FF we deserve but noooooo. I’m almost tempted not to give this a score. Giving it score would acknowledge is actually exists and I don’t feel like it even deserves that. Dan’s score says it all and heed these words, we do not want another. I saw you had it scheduled, stop it. Now. For the love of god, kill it off now and please don’t fuck up X-men…
OVERALL SCORE – 3/10 – DO NOT WATCH
Let’s get right to this. Any decent superhero/comic book fan will know of Deadpool. Above we see parts of the reveal trailers and the leaks all bundled into one hell of a package. From this small short, we can really begin to see how Ryan Reynolds fills the shoes of one of the most beloved characters of the universe. Down below is the trailer for the trailer which tears into Reynolds previous appearance as Wade in some of the best marketing I’ve seen in a very long time.
Now personally, I’m not sure how this movie will fair with the general public who don’t know of the character and I worry that his reach and the violence may not appeal to them. Lets hope the Marvel community goes out in droves for this because we could be looking at a cult classic of the superhero universe!