Justice League (2017)

Justice League

Dude, let’s get the band back together!

I had many a doubt going into Justice League.

After all, it is the last superhero movie of 2017, a year that had not really disappointed at all in the genre. It also did not help to see the bad score the film has going for it on rotten tomatoes.

In the end, I liked the film, but barely.

We begin right after the death of Henry Cavill’s Superman (who, lets face it, we know is in this movie, because it would be pointless to not have the world’s numero uno superhero present). Batman (Ben Affleck, who still does a good job in the role) is recruiting certain people with “special abilities”. His first is Diana (aka Wonder Woman, though she is still never called that), still played to perfection by Gal Gadot. From there they try to convince The Flash (a very well cast Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa, who I admit took a little time to get used to), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

The threat comes in the form of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), a God-like being set to collect three cubes that will help him destroy the world. They are spread out: one with the Amazons, one in Atlantis, and the other on Earth. It is not too hard to follow the plot, but here is where I should mention the film’s biggest flaw by far: Steppenwolf. He is one of the least memorable, most boring, and blandest villains we have had in a superhero movie (at least compared to those of the last decade). I understand any villain would have to battle against some of the biggest names in comics in this film, but can he (or she) be at least a little interesting? He is like Ultron (from the second Avengers film), but without any humor, charm, character, or a sense of threat.

Parents, if your kids have seen any film from the DC universe, they are fine here. There is action, mild violence, and some swearing. Ten and above would be fine.

Is this film better than Batman v. Superman? Heck yes. Wonder Woman? Heck no. Still, I am getting a sense that DC is starting to get their footing right when it comes to making movies. They still have a way to go (and are still behind Marvel, in my  opinion), but at least they are on the right track.

Boo-yah.

 

Overall: Three Stars ***

Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot stars as Wonder Woman, sweeping in to save not only the day, but the DC universe as well..

Perhaps the best way to describe Wonder Woman is to remember her grand entrance toward the end of last year’s disappointing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck) had finished fighting each other, and were about to be obliterated by Doomsday until Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) swoops in to save the day. Like that scene, the film Wonder Woman has finally given a good movie to let the DC Universe brag about.

Taking place long before the events of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana (Gal Gadot, who proves she is right for the part and not just because she looks like the character). She is raised by the Amazons, a group of women sworn to protect mankind. Her mother , the Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) does not wish to have her train like the others, but her Aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) sees it differently and trains Diana. One day there is a stray pilot who crashes in the water and is saved by Diana. This is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, who is able to play second fiddle to Gadot and does a rather great job). He is a british spy who stole plans from the Germans as they are facing the end of the first World War. Diana is convinced it is the return of Ares, the God of War.

The average audience member goes to a superhero flick for the action sequences, and Wonder Woman does not disappoint on that front. Directed by Patty Jenkins (who helped get Charlize Theron an Oscar for her brilliant portrayal in 2003’s Monster), she does not rely on the fact that Wonder Woman is finally on-screen, but that there is a story behind it (and one that is, thankfully, not too hard to follow). Gadot lets us feel every inch of the situations her Diana is in (even if it involves trying on new clothes), and has great chemistry with Chris Pine (who, of course, is no stranger to action pics).

As for the villain, I will not reveal who it is, as it will ruin the surprise (though one of the evil German scientists is very menacingly played by Elena Anaya). I will say that when you find out about the main villain, it was something I personally did not see coming at all.

Parents, despite Wonder Woman wearing kind of revealing clothing (as well as the other Amazons), the only other form of sexual content is a scene where Steve and Diana are talking about the knowledge of sex (which does produce much humor). There is also a brief moment (again, played for laughs) where a male character is naked, covering his crotch. The violence is surprisingly light (I did not see any blood), and I am more than sure there was not a single curse word. Basically, Middle School and above (or if your kids saw any other DC or Marvel movie, they are ok).

The movie is not all great: there are times where the action scenes did drag on a bit (especially at the end). Still, it is very refreshing to know that DC has finally given the world a movie that can rank up with a lot of Marvel’s movies (and is better than a good amount of them).

When Diana is told that the world does not deserve her, I thought “Maybe not, but I am still glad she finally got the screen treatment. It is so worth it”.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice

An epic meeting of Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck).

I had a sneaky suspicion that I would not really like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. What I did not expect was how much disappointment I would feel after the credits started rolling.

I was ok with 2013’s Man of Steel (a lot better than Superman Returns), which is where this film starts off. The film begins (after showing the title of the film in a not interesting way, which was one of a number of let downs) showing us what happens to Bruce Wayne’s parents (I doubt there is anyone reading this who did not know they were gunned down in front of young Bruce’s eyes). Flash forward to the ending battle of Man of Steel (with a title card totally not needed) as Superman (Henry Cavill) was battling General Zod (Michael Shannon). It is seen, however, thru the eyes of the adult Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck).

Fast forward 18 months later, and we see Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in trouble in the middle east, but is saved by Superman. We later see (minor spoiler) that Kent and Lane are living together, meaning she has found out who Clark Kent really is (End minor spoiler). Kent wants to investigate more into the actions of Batman, while Batman (Bruce Wayne, which, again, is not a spoiler) is trying to prove that Superman really could be the destruction of us all.

The cast is not to fault here. There were a lot of haters who were upset that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. I was not one of them, and am glad I was proven right. There are times when you can catch yourself not seeing him as Ben Affleck but as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Cavill does some equally good work as well. Other actors include Laurence Fishburn as Perry White, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor (he is not in Gene Hackman territory but he is still very effective), Holly Hunter as a Senator worried about Superman’s existence, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, and Jeremy Irons (who I have yet to see give a bad performance) giving one of my favorite portrayals as Alfred ever put on film. There is also Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman (I doubt I am spoiling it, because it is already out there in the ads).

Eventually, we know the fight between the two biggest superheroes in history will happen, and it is rather spectacular to watch. Still, watching the movie was like watching a juggler. Anyone who can juggle three items is more fun to watch that someone who only juggles two. The movie seems to be trying to juggle 14 or so at a time. When you realize why these two icons have to fight, you are not as pumped up as you should be.

Parents, the only real issue is Clark Kent getting into a bathtub with Lois Lane. She is naked (nothing shown below the neck), he has clothes on. They kiss. End scene. Also, the costume Wonder Woman wears is a little revealing, but nothing bad at all. Basically, if you kids want to see the film, they should be fine (ten years old and up).

Like all action films, this one goes on for quiet a long time. It is made by Zach Snyder (who made Man of Steel), a director who is very good at making the frosted topping, but not the rest of the cake. There are obviously good superhero movies for DC (Superman, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the highly underrated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm). In this film, very little justice is done.

It is not overwhelming, nor completely underwhelming. It is just whelming…still closer to the under part though.

Overall: Two Stars **