JUSTICE LEAGUE – REVIEW

Review

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons
Director: Zack Snyder
Running Time: 120mins
Cert: 12A
Rating: 6/10

It’s finally here! The Justice League is upon us and before we get into this, straight off the bat…its good. It’s not Winter Soldier (is anything?) good and nowhere near Dark Knight good but its good!
Its better than Man of Steel and most definitely better than Batman vs Superman (although that isn’t hard to do) and establishes itself as the new-ish direction of the DCEU.

While the dialogue is lacking, the story a little weak and the SFX still on the questionable side; JL makes up for in cool fight scenes, much needed humour and a pace that is much more desirable than its predecessors.

Justice League picks up where Batman vs Superman left off, with Bruce Wayne intent on putting together a team of gifted individuals to face an imminent threat; triggered by the death of Superman. Fueled by his renewed faith in humanity, Bruce sets out into various styles of recruitment to get a team together.

First up is Arthur Curry aka Aquaman – they like to put ‘The’ in front of Batman and Aquaman but I’m completely against this – the reluctant and isolated lone wolf living in the farthest reaches of Iceland. Here, he helps locals with their fish intake since fishing boats haven’t been able to get through in some time. After some light banter and mockery, Arthur establishes that he has no connection to this or any other problem and won’t be taking part in the festivities. When the threat is inevitably brought to his immediate attention – get ready ladies, this underwater scene with wife-to-be Mera is all kinds of PHWOAR – he decides to join the team.
In my heavily biased Jason Momoa loving opinion, there are not nearly enough Aquaman scenes. Considering his strength and speed and impressive skills with a quindent, you’d think he’d be used a bit more. Saying that, i appreciated the fact that there wasn’t an abundance of unnecessary water just so it would give him something to do. If they were suddenly fighting out at sea, id be looking for the bullshit.

Next up is Flash aka Barry Allen. Now, for the comic book aficionados no origin story is needed but in my case, I was a bit confused about Flash, where he came from and what he’s about. While I enjoyed his character immensely and he provided a sense of humour and humanity where the other heroes are somewhat lacking; I personally would’ve like to know the backstory with the father. Feel free to let me know whats up with that in the comments!
Flash is by no means the breakout star of the show but he definitely provides the Marvel-esque frivolity and lightheartedness that is seemingly making the MCU a success.

Now, Cyborg aka Victor Stone is a leaguer I know virtually nothing about outside of Teen Titans! Same issue with the origin story above would’ve liked more understanding but generally, he’s a viable member of the team. His intelligence and tech-savvy are all pivotal to the success of the mission and his broodiness is up there with Batman levels in his hay day.

Wonder Woman is doing it for the girls once again! Diana Prince is truly a force to be reckoned with both physically and mentally. She provides the heart of the team for sure but her growth from a naive, trigger-happy apprentice to a seasoned warrior and leader was great to see. I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of the Amazons again but would’ve liked them to be as badass as they were in Wonder Woman.

The newly beefed-up Ben Affleck makes his third outing as Batman/Bruce Wayne and I for one am loving it. While I am not a huge Affleck fan, I can appreciate the maturity that he has brought to the role. His mortality is made apparent throughout as well as his change in ideals, fuelled by the selfless act of Superman. Why he believes that he isn’t any better than Superman just because Superman made himself a celebrity/God while saving people is beyond me. Where his beef with Superman in BvS was completely unjustified; so it seems is his adulation of him now. The constant reiteration that they need Superman in order to win is ridiculous. Yes, I know he’s the strongest and the fastest etc etc but in this film arc, he’s also a bit of a dickhead. His self-righteousness really rubs me up the wrong way and relying on him to save the day, undermines the efforts of everyone involved who in my opinion did a whole lot more.

Outside of the characters, as mentioned above the pace of the film is much appreciated as I didn’t find myself thinking why I had been watching this for so long. On the flipside of that, however, is that it’s not very coherent; what with the constant jumps from the team to random meant-to-be-emotional-but-i-don’t-actually-care-about-her shots of Lois Lane.
Additionally, what the hell was going on with Superman’s face? Why so heavy on the CGI as though Mr Cavill’s jaw isn’t chiselled enough as it is! The dialogue was very basic with all the really entertaining lines reserved for Flash. The villain and by extension the story wasn’t very strong and I didn’t find him imposing enough. Considering how long they harped on about how dangerous he was; he was defeated fairly easily and admittedly I don’t think the JL did enough to keep the Mother Boxes away from him. And that’s another thing: wtf is a Mother Box?! It’s just not as catchy as Infinity Stone is it?

Despite the above though, I did not hate it.
I loved the costumes, I loved the fight scenes; I loved Bruce Wayne in all his Silver Fox splendour as well as the building relationships between the heroes (the first end credits scene being a testament to this).

Make sure to stay behind for the last end credit scene.

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AMERICAN ASSASSIN – REVIEW

 

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch
Director: Michael Cuesta
Running Time: 111mins
Cert: 18

Last night I went to the movies after a long while and saw the patriotically titled, American Assassin starring Dylan O’Brien.

I’ve been a Dylan O’Brien fan since small roles in The Internship and then  of course The Maze Runner and was excited to see what he would offer in the way of a more ‘adult’ role.

Before I go into his performance however which is well done in my opinion; this film in a lot of ways is not the best in terms of release time. There are a few who may agree with the opposite as the content is current and thought provoking and to witness the destruction near the end was actually quite emotional for me. Its not the best content to have been released in such tumultuous times for America when relationships with Muslims are strained and this film plays heavily on that animosity.

When his fiance is killed during a random terrorist attack, Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) takes it upon himself to exact revenge against the man/terrorist group who killed her. While this dedication to revenge brings him to the attention of the CIA; the dedication is overshadowed by what seems to be his hatred of ALL Muslims which isnt a good thing to watch. It plays out that his reckless and impulsive behaviour is rewarded by top authorities when he is hired to work for them to bring down a terrorist group.

Moving on from this, O’Brien’s performance is commendable although for future reference Dylan – growing a beard does not a grown up make – although it does suit him!
He embodies the character really well and you believe his passion for wanting to go after the terrorists even when the fight is no longer his to fight.

The negatives? A bit too much globe trotting for my liking. One minute we’re in Roanoke, then we’re in London then we’re in Turkey then Greece! I gather its the nature of a ‘spy’ but it was a bit much to keep up with! The characters, though played well by all involved are quite 2 dimensional: tough ex Army vet, tough as nails Black female at the head of the operation; loose cannon rookie that has exceptional skill.

On the plus side, there are some decent fight scenes especially one in an apartment that has one entire wall made of glass which makes for good viewing. They’re not overly done and believable in the technique and skill. There are a few Easter eggs in terms of ‘the real enemy’ but not too obviously so.

I liked that it was brought together in the end that things were not as they seemed which helped with the general impression of the film.

Definitely enjoyable and thought provoking as to what is going on around us right now.

American Assassin is out in UK cinemas Sept. 14

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE – REVIEW

CaptureStarring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem
Director: Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg
Running Time: 129mins
Rating: 12A

We are back with the fifth (and hopefully final) installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and as long as they leave it here; it will be solidified in the adventure hall of fame! Its not that i didnt love it, but there’s just no reason to keep going back!

P5 as I am going to dub this, takes us on an adventure with Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites); son of Elizabeth Swan and William Turner who needs to find good ol’ Captain Jack in order to save his father from the curse of the Flying Dutchman. Along the way, we encounter the formidable Armando Salazar who has a score to settle with Jack Sparrow who cursed him oh so many years ago and so sends the boy to warn him that death is looking for him.

From this point on, the film is pretty much made of the same magical stuff that made us fall in love with the first film. Favourites are back in the shape of Gibbs and Barbossa and the cameos from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley give a bit of nostalgia that goes a long way.

Never a film to be taken too seriously, we all know what to expect and in this outing, they deliver. Its not too long, its got some good action scenes and great special effects and of course; it has Jack being…well, Jack! As mentioned, the SFX are great with Captain Salazar’s undead crew which takes us back to the cursed crew of the Black Pearl.

The only downside was probably a few holes in the story regarding newest addition Caryna Smith (Kaya Scodalario) but this doesnt take anything away from the film too much.

Make sure to stick around for the end credits scene!

WONDER WOMAN – REVIEW

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen
Director: Patty Jenkins
Running Time: 141mins
Rating: 12A

With the questionable failures of DC films recently and what I thought was a lack in general promotional material and marketing; Wonder Woman seemed to be set up to fail at the box office.
While writing this; official numbers haven’t of course come in yet, but whether or not it will make a significant impact isn’t necessarily a sure thing after watching it.

While Wonder Woman is by no means terrible, it isn’t great and leaves a lot to be desired in ways of script, pace and action. What action we do receive is few and far between and while Gal Gadot looks amazing in her fight sequences, I felt a lot more could have been done with them.

The film opens in Themyscira; Princess Diana’s home and we discover a paradise of beautiful and incredibly skilled Amazons led by Queen Hyppolita. It’s during these scenes that we get the most thrilling fight scene as we see what the Amazons are capable of both on and off horseback, one can do something amazing with a bow and arrow! However; once we leave Themyscria and head into the world of man; all the fun pretty much gets left behind.

The rest of the film moves slowly, too slowly and should never have been that long; especially when nothing is really going on. Despite having seen her outfit already; the uniform reveal was a bit weak and could have been a bit punchier – as it was in Batman v Superman – and provided more of an impact.

Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Diana Prince, while very honest and in some ways relatable, got a bit annoying at parts. Not her acting but the naivety and impulsiveness started to get on my nerves. I understood that she was a secluded princess and didn’t really understand the implications of real war; but when this was explained to her; she refused to listen and came away looking a bit stupid which fed into the helpless female stereotype which I didn’t really like.

The villain is another story altogether as it felt rather weak. The film took a kind of fantastical turn by the end that wasn’t particularly impressive or believable. In addition, the rest of the supporting cast were rather pointless and didn’t really add anything to the film.

While I enjoyed the Amazons and Themyscira and Diana fighting; sadly, this wasn’t enough to make the entire film a great piece of work. Where BvS overdid the action; with this there wasn’t enough. Wonder Woman is a fabulous character and through the years of comics and the television show; studios just need to know what to do with her.