Wonder Woman- FINALLY!

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After three movies in their cinematic universe, DC have finally got a firm step in the right direction with Wonder Woman. Prior to Wonder Woman, I felt that DC movie had a vision of what they wanted, they just did a bad job executing it. Now, with Wonder Woman it looks like they have realized that vision. I got what they were going after but now I am starting to like it.

Set in the time of the First World War, Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman- Known as Diana and raised on a secluded island of female Amazons- who sees a pilot (Chris Pine) who crashed his plane next to the island, fleeing from German forces. After the pilot tells his story of escape, Wonder Woman believes that Aries, the God of War, is the instigator of the war and seeks out to defeat him.

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The island Wonder Woman inhabits during the first act. Well shot, looks luscious.

Yes, it took me awhile for me to program the fact that an ancient God instigated a war, but in the mind of Wonder Women, that’s her belief as she was a sheltered child who knows nothing about the outside world. This film is aware of her naiveté but I’m glad the movie never makes her look dumb and stupid. Chris Pine, does a great job of reacting to her flaws, generating both light-hearted humor and drama without being too condescending to her. He does a great job here is an underrated actor.

Wonder Woman has taken all the good of previous DC movies and pushed away a lot of the bad from DC movies. It has the darkness of Batman vs Superman minus the murkiness. Wonder Woman incorporates mild doses of humor to compliment the dark tone of the material whereas Suicide Squad did it so erratically.

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One of the minor problems in the movie is the sword. It a payoff that ultimately does not happen for its purpose.

Adding from that, Wonder Woman has told a story which never feels confusing or lost in the making of the film. In the combination of both the balance in tone and creating a simple story that never feels confusing, DC have made a good film. Six months ago, that thought would have never entered my head.

I don’t see Wonder Woman as the breakout movie for DC that will immediately turn heads, but I see Wonder Woman as the starting block. Even though it was an entertaining film, I still think there is a better film from DC that has not been made yet. It is certainly a firm step in the right direction ⭐⭐⭐3/4

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- Refines the Original

I am going to be one of the few critics to say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 improves upon it’s predecessor Guardians of the Galaxy. I did like the first one but not as much as most people did so my standards were a little bit lower but still, I like it when I feel a sequel improves upon the original.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 feels like a refined version of Guardians of the Galaxy. The basic concepts are the same. They are still the five superheroes working as a team working towards defeating an enemy who aims to overcome a villain. What made me smile was how clever I thought Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 executed it.

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I’m glad they used Groot in the story he was funny and was a contributing factor in the story. I was worried that the only reason he was in the movie was to sell toys.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has two small changes from the original that enhanced my experience of it dramatically. Both of them involved making logical, important character developments in the narrative. Add in a bit of restraint of humor in the script and that’s it.

A Better Script helps make a Better Movie

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A well-written script is a delight to see and great to hear

One of my main complaints in the original Guardians of the Galaxy was that they used humor in climatic battles to patronize their villains which lost a dramatic edge in a fight sequence that I felt was needed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Peter Quell (Chris Pratt) or Rocky (Bradley Cooper) telling jokes (like telling a guard to change his self-proclaimed name from “Taserface” into something like “Scrotumhead”) but I don’t like it all the time. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. there was joke-restraint in climatic scenes and I believed in moments which they suggested the Guardians or the villain were going to lose (or win) a fight. I invested a lot more in the climatic battles simply because the movie aimed to be more serious about it.

The Supporting Actors that made this Movie Great

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Kurt Russel and Michael Hooker are Gods half-metaphorically speaking 😉

There are two little (but significant) character developments in the movie. One of which is about Ego (Kurt Russel) and the other which was about Yondu (Michael Rooker). What you get to know about these two characters is a major part of the story’s development and I didn’t expect it to have been executed any better. When the movie fully fleshes out those two characters, it hightened my interest even more and brought the movie up several notches.

Other mish mash (The Movie Review’s B-Sides)

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The Taserface of the review: Worth mentioning but not worth devoting entire paragraphs to.

 

Despite the fact I think Guardians of the Galexy Vol.2 was better than the original, there were a couple of minor misteps and observations that I feel are worthy of note that I will give three of them out in bullet form.

1. The soundtrack was more on-the-nose with their songtitles which was a bit eyerolling. At least they fit the movie’s tone more than the original

2. The movie does a complete character change to Drax (Dave Bautista) from being somewhat menicing and having austistic tendancies to just being completly goofy. It was weird.

3. I felt the resolution was a little overdone and I’ll just kept it at that.

Beyond that, this is more-or-less the same movie as the original Guardians of the Galaxy so if you liked the original I think you will like this. It probably won’t convert people who already didn’t like the original though.

Thank God Marvel exists. They are not perfect (cough X-Men Apocalypse cough) but they have a good track record of making big blockbuster movies that work. They don’t make me think their movies are mearly technical excercises that end up feeling like a monetary landfill. This was fun and appealing to watch. ****1/4

Guardians of the Galaxy- The First One

The five Guardians, sporting various weapons, arrayed in front of a backdrop of a planet in space with the film's title, credits and slogan.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those movies where positive reception from fans and critics alike was a near-certainty. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films people will look back on because it was an innovator especially for 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy mostly works because of the humor, drama, and likability of characters which is what drew me into liking this film.

The plot: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) steals an orb that has the power to destroy life in order to sell for cash (not knowing the powerful nature of the orb at the time). This gets him in a tangle with bounty hunters Groot (Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) who have to work with each other to defeat a bigger enemy called Ronan

The plot summarized: I am Groot

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I want this to be on my drivers licence

I liked Guardians of the Galaxy. Did I love it? I’m not so sure. What I credit Guardians of the Galaxy in doing is getting a film containing a multi-star cast over with critics and audiences and myself as that is a tough task to accomplish. I also appreciate it for being innovative by being a superhero movie that wins the audience through humor while mixing in a tinge of drama. In most superhero movies pre- Guardians of the Galaxy that was the other way round.

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The power of dance knows no bounds. If only this was used on Doomsday in Batman vs. Superman, it might have made more sense. Shots have been fired.

The problem is, I am watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time in 2017 is that I have seen many superhero movies doing exactly the same thing: Using wacky jokes in order to be liked. Power Rangers, Suicide Squad, The Lego Batman Movie, and Deadpool have also tried to succeed by using lots of in-jokes and meta humor to varying degrees of success. Still, I would rank Guardians of the Galaxy second behind Deadpool out of the movies that I mentioned. That’s a good ranking considering the other movies could have refined what Guardians of the Galaxy paved.

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Peter explans to Drax the meaning behind slitting a person’s throat by putting his finger on his throat. This goes for nearly thirty seconds. It’s a rare movie where a lot of the humour comes from explaining jokes or gestures.

I liked the meta humor to a point. That point was reached when the would be a dramatic point in a conflict in which one of the main characters (mainly Peter) would interject by saying jokes when I thought it was unnecessary as it patronized the main villain Ronan. It watered down the payoff of key fight scenes in the movie. It made me believe that the heroes were not taking the main antagonist Ronan seriously. If the Guardians of the Galaxy treat the villain like a joke, I see no reason to take the threat seriously and therefore I don’t care for the Guardian’s fates. It felt like the movie was selling itself short.

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I say that this secne where the guardians unite is a good scene however Rocket the raccoon believes they look like “A bunch of jackasses” You be the judge.

What wasn’t sold short was everything else in the movie from the character development of all four Guardians of the Galaxy as a cohesive unit from bounty hunters who are all in for themselves to the bonding through grief in order to work together and destroy the villain. The emotional payoffs of the four characters worked and made me want to see them fight and win.

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The special efferects are great. It’s not exclusivly purple like Battlefield Earth. There are a variety of colours and textures that are pleasing to the eye in this movie.

The special effects were wild and beautiful to look at most of the time. Marvel have this thing nailed down where they show a lot of colors and shades in their special effects and you never feel like you are drenched in it. Doctor Strange, in my opinion, is still the best superhero movie for the GCI that it had, but Guardians is yet again a close second. It adds a lot of life to the movie and it’s always got me in wanting to see it.

So, Guardians of the Galaxy is not as perfect as what people made me believe, but I am still happy with the final product. Like a lot of three-star movies I give, all they need is some refining and it would have gone a long way with my enjoyment of it. Still, like any three-star movie, I cannot deny I enjoyed it ***3/4

The Lego Batman Movie: Deadpool for Kids… Sort of.

 

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The Lego Batman Movie is a unique entry in the superhero genre, not only because it’s a Lego animation but also sees the story in a kid-friendly, light-hearted manner. It’s such departure from other DC movies of Batman in that it’s hard to make a comparison of this movie to other Batman films. Instead, I will be comparing The Lego Batman Movie to Deadpool.

Both The Lego Batman Movie and Deadpool are inherently well written as the characters are witty, both movies wink at the audience with the breaking of the fourth wall and all the inside jokes and finally, both aim to give the audience a feeling of joy and fun while the superheros do their superhero stuff.

Lego filmakers Love Joy

Michael Cera as Robin and Zack Galifinakis as The Joker. The casting director is a genius

The plot: Batman is the poster boy for saving Gotham that all the children love him and sing his praises. Batman (Will Arnett) just laps it up and is arrogent (He brags to have a 9-pack. Yes, a 9-pack) . What we find out early on is the reason Batman is self-centered is because he is afraid of committing to a quiet, family life. Batman is on the mission to save Gotham once again from The Joker (Zack Galifianakis), only he cannot save Gotham on his own this time. He inadvertedly adopts a child (Michael Cera) who turns out to become Robin and they both try to save Gotham.

The bottom line is that The Lego Batman Movie succeeds in what it attempts to achieve. That is because it is so committed to a tone that aims to be lively, child-like and fun that it’s hard to not buy what The Lego Batman Movie is trying to sell. I was buying it for the majority of the movie. Like Deadpool, The Lego Batman Movie does this through fourth wall breaking, witty and funny characters and an arrogant, ego-driven yet charming main character.

The jokes: Faster than a Speeding Bullet

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Tylor Goodwin holds the world record of the number of jokes told in an hour with 571. The Lego Batman Movie might have beaten that record. That is not a good thing if you are trying to keep up

The Lego Batman Movie succeeds to a lesser extent than Deadpool due to the inability for the movie to control the barrage of jokes and the narrative pacing. The main problem with The Lego Batman movie is it either scattershot with jokes that move so fast that you couldn’t keep up or the momentum of the movie would slow down to a near halt.

The scriptwriters also decided that Batman should break the fourth wall five times per minute, which I grew tired of by the end as I was constantly reminded that I was watching a movie and therefore made it hard to suspend my disbelief. Deadpool had the perfect balance of breaking the fourth wall by dropping the intensity of fourth wall breaking considerably after the first act. In The Lego Batman Movie, the filmmakers didn’t get that memo.

The uneven narrative pacing and the overuse of jokes are the two main things The Lego Batman Movie could have improved upon and it did hurt my overall enjoyment of it.

The Running Gag: A Killing Joke

Barman: The guy that doesn’t so “ships” as in “relation-ships”. He is the Dan Bilzerian of life. Just swap women for fighting and they are a mirror image 🙂

Aside from that, there is not much else that is bad that I can think of. The story between The Joker and Batman in this movie are unique, especially the character motivations of The Joker. It somehow manages to work even if it shouldn’t on pen and paper. As always, The Joker wants Batman to hate him as much as the Joker hates Batman, only they make their own twist. It’s a romanticized story in a oddly comedic way where destroying Gotham is like courting Batman to take part in a hate relationship. I loved the angle The Lego Batman Movie takes with that and It was my favourite part of the film.

With all this in mind, I believe it’s the best movie DC has put their name on since The Dark Knight Rises. I still don’t believe it’s as good as a lot of Marvel movies, but it’s a positive step in the right direction in my opinion ***1/4

Logan: A Great Send Off

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Logan is a great movie that meets the high standards that Marvel have produced in recent years. Logan is much better than the mediocre X-Men Apocalypse and ventures into concepts that don’t get deeply explored in a normal superhero movie. Those concepts being mortality and familial relationships between generations. For a superhero movie, Logan is amazingly down-to-earth.

Set in 2029, Mutants have become nearly extinct, Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) health is failing  and works as a limo driver. He takes care of a frail Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in hiding. Logan is approached by a woman to take care of this girl called Laura (who is a mutant) and send her to North Dakota before this evil organization captures her. The girl, location, and organization are significant, but I won’t elaborate further as they are large plot points which I don’t want to spoil it.

Logan’s Struggle Within

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What I enjoyed the most about this movie is Hugh Jackman acting as he portrays a human being more than a superhero. There is no motivational rhetoric or spandex. It is about how he helps people despite being hounted by his mortality, and yet still has to learn from life. What is so good about Logan is that the movie does not detract from that message.

An example of how they don’t stray from Logan’s struggles is the action set pieces being low-key (very few explosions and CGI special effects). I believe they are deliberately set up to be low-key so the viewer doesn’t get distracted from the characters. It’s kind of funny that a movie like Logan works off this thing called character development. It’s an unfamiliar concept to too many action movies. They should try it out sometime!

Logan’s Sidekicks being Sidekick-ey

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Logan’s lovely sidekicks. I realised that this movie could be interpreted as a superhero version of Manchester by the Sea. I am an odd person.

Speaking of character development, they have great supporting actors that help accentuate the character of Wolverine. Patrick Stewart has two great moments as Charles Xavier but the best supporting actor goes to the bilingual Dafne Keene who plays Laura- a character that rarely speaks. Keene plays it with a peculiar hybrid of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (The growling, violent tendencies) with Alex Hibbert in Moonlight (The silent child internalizing her struggle and learning about the real world). She gets into some comedic situations at a service station that inadvertently gives Logan some humanity. It was simultaneously funny and sweet.

Out of all the Marvel movies I have reviewed so far, Logan is the one that feels like a character study. This was a smart move because it’s different and it works. I did not love Logan to the extent of hardcore fans (I have talked to a couple of them. They believe it is perfect) but I understood and liked the sentiment behind everything. It is a worthy send-off for The Boy From Oz and the man on The Enterprise ****1/4

Dr. Strange Review

 

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch has brought his a-game (as he usually does) in Dr. Strange and he is not the only one. There are other actors and filmmakers who also try to trump him. Some of them succeeded, but the thing that works about Dr. Strange is that it wasn’t every person for themselves. It was a movie where everyone working on it were a unit with the goal to make something great and they passed the bar.

Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a masterful neurosurgeon who, after a car accident, loses full usage of his hands. He travels to Nepal hoping that women will restore his hands. That woman is Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who knows how to restore his hands through spiritual and mental healing. She can also conjure magic and travel to different dimensions. After a terrible first impression from Dr.Strange, Ancient One reluctantly agrees to teach him the art of her powers. Little does Dr. Strange know that he is being trained to help stop an evil power set to destroy reality.

A Contribution Is A Contribution No Matter How Small

It’s just so great to see a huge blockbuster movie that didn’t clash due to egos (well, except for Cumberbatch’s character of course). I could tell that despite all the money that was poured into Dr. Strange, everyone knew their roles, their artistic freedoms, and limitations and used their tools effectively. Watching it, it felt like the whole was better than the sum of its parts.

Let me elaborate. Tilda Swinton plays a supporting role as Ancient One. She balances her character out with toughness, humility, fairness and a pinch of humor. She plays as the mentor of Dr. Strange. Swinton know that all she can do is support and she does it. The scriptwriters made her the wise person who always knew what to say. While that worked for the most part, she kept pontificating scenes with the philosophical one-liners during important and poignant scenes. I believe any movie should be a show-me medium instead of a tell-me medium. The great thing is that Swinton was so good that it barely mattered.

If movies are a show me medium then the special effects more than help that viewpoint. Every dollar spent on special effects is on the screen. They had no limits in that department and it shows. As Doctor Strange delves into various places and dimensions, the special effects are there to reflect that. They are colorful, psychedelic, abstract and vibrant. There are moments in those scenes that were directly inspired from Inception but boy was it beautiful. It’s a movie where you can put it on Imax because the visuals are so colourful and easy to look at.

Oh and I seem to have forgotten someone… oh yeah Benedict Cumberbatch. That guy was made for the role. Cumberbatch looks like him and knows how to speak fluently and with high-order language (he is the guy who plays the title character in Sherlock after all). I don’t know if this was intentional but I noticed he reduced the tremors in his hands as the movie went on. If that was intentional, that was some awesome, minute, fine-tuned detail.

Just watching this movie was a pleasure, especially the visual effects. Doctor Strange just felt vibrant and full of life and has an interesting story that you don’t hear too often (except maybe in the sci-fi genre). It is one of those blockbusters that is guaranteed to make at least $700 million. I just know it. In a month call me out if I am somehow wrong. It’s another success in the Marvel Catalogue ****1/4

Suicide Squad Review

Genre: Superhero Action
Year: 2016
Rating: M
Runtime: 123 minutes
Main Cast: Will Smith
Jared Leto
Margot Robbie
Joel Kinnaman
Viola Davis
Jai Courtney
Jay Hernandez
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Main Production Company: DC Entertainment
Written and directed by David Ayer

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Suicide Squad is a shade better than Batman vs. Superman. A shade. There are some redeeming qualities in Suicide Squad that salvages it from being terrible, but they are outweighed by a lot of the films elements that I thought DC would have learned by now not to do. The only thing I think DC have learned is to not make a dark, murky, muddled, two and a half hour film. Instead, they made a dark, murky, muddled, two-hour film in the form of Suicide Squad.

The plot itself is a bit farfetched so stay with me here: Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) suggests to the to the FBI (I think, but it’s not important) that after the supposed death of Superman, a group of villains should be eradicating evil as they are the only chance Gotham has. She recruits Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. What a name), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Slipknot (Adam Beach) . Meanwhile, Waller tries to recruit June Moone (Cara Delevingne) who has been possessed by a spirit called Enchantress. Enchantress goes AWOL and resurrects her brother who is also some sort of spirit beast in an attempt to wipe humanity because humans didn’t have the decency to resurrect a morbidly crazy spirit. Oh, and there is a guy in it called The Joker (Jared Leto), yeah, he does some cameos in a subplot.

The character development is either flimsy or non-existent. It falls into too-many-character-syndrome like The Hateful Eight did where not enough of the characters are developed because there are too many characters to do it. Out of all the characters, Deadshot is the only fleshed out character that you care for. Harley Quinn is also a fleshed out character but I found it hard to support her as she falls in love with a psychopath called The Joker and they did stupid things together and shoot innocent cops. The Joker has about 10 minutes on the screen and he never has a breakthrough moment. El Diablo’s character isn’t developed until “the bar scene” near the climax which made his character development feel rushed. Killer Croc barely speaks a word of English, nor was he enjoyable or engaging. Slipknot has about twenty seconds which were wasted. Captain Boomerang says about three lines and throws two boomerangs. If you notice how long this paragraph is getting, you can see where I am coming from and I only used 1-2 lines to describe each character. This paragraph represents the structure of the film: messy.

If action sequences interest you, do not worry because Suicide Squad finds ways to mess it up. Firstly, I was initially happy that the posters looked brighter and vibrant than Batman vs Superman. I thought “Thank God DC have learned their lesson!” That was until I saw the movie. The action sequences are either set in the dark or in the rain with dark, moss green lighting reminiscent of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It didn’t work in Harry Potter and it doesn’t work here. Secondly, the movie either has unnecessary action sequences or they are edited so erratically that you don’t have room to take it in. Harley Quinn fighting the bad guys on the elevator is the worst offender of them all.

If action and character development are not your thing, then maybe the music is. DC has the annoying habit of getting popular songs that are only relevant in the scene by song title only, not because the music matches the action that goes on. At one point Killer Croc is eating cops alive to the tune of “Fortunate Son” I gasped at the irony. Will Smith is beaten by cops to the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a prison. It made the dynamic so uneven that I was distracted by the songs instead of the visual footage. The other thing DC does is pays an orchestra to play only brass instruments as loud as they possibly can on the soundtrack. That was annoying too. Half their budget must have been purchasing the rights to play the rock songs and the other half was used to  to hire a whole orchestra.

After about 650 words of negativity, I must be positive and commend Margot Robbie. She has had a hell of a year and she kept me going. I wrote on my notes that she was “Deadpoolette” because she is the person that gets the endlessly funny one-liners and gave Suicide Squad some tonal variation that was desperately needed. Sometimes, she needed to stop as she jokes during some scenes that were meant to be poignant and meaningful, but I can tell she was figuring it out. I didn’t like her character but I liked her. Will Smith was good as well. I thought I was going to get a more entertaining Will Smith from his first scene, but he was still good the rest of the way. Those two performances made Suicide Squad better than Batman vs Superman on its own.

My final critique contains spoilers so:

SPOILER WARNING

For anyone who has seen a superhero movie, you must know this movie law:
“In a superhero movie, none significant dies unless it’s Bruce Waynes parents”
Halfway through the movie, the Joker crashes in a helicopter offscreen, inferring his death. My first thought was “He is not dead” I just knew he wasn’t. I thought “He is going to come back at the climax” He didn’t. That still didn’t dissuade me that he was not dead. Alas, like in Batman vs. Superman, you find out he was alive all along in the final shot. I just thought “Are you serious?” The Joker replied in my head “Why so serious?” and I said “Because you are doing the same thing over and over again and you expect audiences to fall for this stupid one trick pony act! Stop being condescending to them and stop thinking they are gullible. They are going to figure it out if they haven’t already” It’s such a tired cliche that I hate with movies in general. There might as well be a title card that says “Act surprised”.

END OF SPOILERS

Suicide Squad was watchable by the entertaining performances and chemistry of Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Other than that Suicide Squad has little to offer. It’s better than Batman Vs Superman but barley. Suicide Squad won’t persuade or even get Marvel fans to consider to switch, which is sad. Maybe one day DC will be good enough to compete with Marvel. That would be great as it would be double the greatness at the movies. Unfortunately, that day has not come yet. **1/4

X-Men Apocalypse Review

Genre: Superhero
Rating: M
Year: 2016
Runtime: 144 minutes
Main Cast: James McAvoy
Michael Fassbender
Jennifer Lawrence
Oscar Issac
Nicholas Hoult
Rose Byrne
Production Company: 20th Century Fox
Written By: Simon Kinberg
Directed By: Bryan Singer

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Written By Nelson Cumming

Call me vapid and shallow, but the first thing I don’t like about the movie poster is James McAvoy’s bold head as he plays the role of Charles Xavier. It is like Dwayne Johnson having hair down to his lower back. Nevertheless, the X-Men are back for the seventh time (or eight, depending on how you are counting) to try and save the world from evil once again. I tried to do my homework and read about what happened in the other X-Men movies but the way the series have bounced around in time and settings is confusing for me. If you can understand the X-Men timeline, more power to you.

X-Men Apocalypse is not terrible, nor is it any good. It has some moments of good acting and one great scene, but also suffers from a thin plot expanded and stretched out to 144 minutes. There are moments of CGI in this movie, but sometimes the CGI was used as a crutch more than the tool. There were good actors in X-Men Apocalypse but some of the actors were used as a tool more than the crutch!

Oscar Issac plays The Apocalypse (the mutant, not the eschatological theory) has recently been reborn for thousands of years and plans a new world order with four recruits whom he calls The Four Housemen (get it!). Of course, it is up to the young X-Men, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) to stop The Four Horsemen and The Apocalypse from destroying mankind.

I believe the premise of this movie is quite overdone in superhero movies where the villain wants to destroy the world while the heroes try to stop him, but there are some good moments in this story. They have two subplots in this movie that had potential but were not used to their fullest.

A part of this problem has to do with a classic case too many character syndrome and the constant darting to and from different locations and sets. There are two characteristics a movie has to fulfill to get too many character syndrome in my opinion. 1. Have more than 5 main characters and 2. Not giving many of them much of a purpose in the movie (that being no character development, no integral part in the story or not entertaining in any way) Some of these superheroes are used just to show their superpowers and others are used for one scene while contributing next to nothing for the rest of the movie (This includes one of the major characters in the franchise). It was hard to focus on all of them at once.

The other major problem is darting from one location to another frequently. This gave off the illusion of disorganization and/or messy editing. I counted six different countries this movie was set and the filmmakers kept on darting around all of those countries in the movie. It really felt like a mess from that perspective.

Nevertheless, the story was clear and concise despite the fact it went for too long. There is one great scene in the movie in terms of pure entertainment that involves Quicksilver when he uses his powers a Xavier’s mansion. What transpires from that scene is awesome and that is all I am going to say about it. By far and away, I think that it was the most entertaining scene in the movie.

As an aside, I also like some of the actors, particularly James McAvoy as Charles bald head aside. He was good at playing the comforting teacher of the mutants and playing the father figure. I also liked the performance of Oscar Issac as The Apocalypse as he was very good at being an intense supervillain. Both of these characters were portrayed with a certain calmness in their roles as they engaged with certainty I was engaged in that calmness to a surprisingly effective degree.

I am going to give this movie an extra star for using a Metallica song in the movie (which is ‘The Four Horsemen”, who would have thought) and I am going to subtract a star for the movie destroying the Sydney Opera House (that is unimportant to the plot. Trust me) Now I have no reason to take the train to Circular Quey anymore. So at the end of the day, this movie gains no bonus marks.

Overall X-Men: The Apocalypse is not going to be a great film because the unwarranted length made it boring and any subplots that would have had meaning was subverted by run-of-the-mill action sequences. X-Men The Apocalypse was saved from disaster by a couple of good scenes and some decent acting, but I wasn’t that overjoyed from seeing it as I left the theater. Still better than Batman Vs. Superman though **1/2

Captain America: Civil War Review

Genre: Superhero
Year: 2016
Rating: M
Length: 147 Minutes
Main Cast: Chris Evans
Robert Downey Jr.
Scarlett Johansson
Sebastian Stan
Production Company: Marvel
Written By: Christopher Markus
Stephen McFeely
Directed By: Anthony Russo
Joe Russo

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Written By Nelson Cumming

Captain America: Civil War may please the casual fan of superhero movies to one degree, for devotees of the Marvel Universe it may please them further still. Even though “Captain America: Civil War” is 2 and a half hours long, you would be hard pressed to find a time where they wasted a minute of it. As a recent writer of movie reviews, there is always an appreciation for movies that have many characters that work well together, action sequences that you want to see more of and plot points that make sense to every character motivations. To balance all those elements is an art. As a casual fan, I like the overall execution of Captain America: Civil War and as for devotees, they may get more out of their superheroes if they have been following them all the way.

“Captain America” revolves around a dissension among the ranks story. When the heroic actions of the Avengers damage to innocent civilians (collaterally) there is a political movement that allows the United Nations to control the actions of all superheroes including the Avengers. This political movement divides all of the Avengers. Captain America (Chris Evans) is the leader of the superheroes who want total freedom to stop crime while Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is the leader of superheroes who believe that they can be more effective if regulated by the United Nations. There is also someone who intend to destroy the Avengers through disinformation and deceit.

There were two action sequences that made me love the movie for very different reasons. One was because it was fun and engaging and the other was because it symbolized the struggle and the pain the superheroes went through that made me buy the whole story. For the fun action sequence, it did feel to me that the action was going on forever, but the thing is that I never wanted it to end. It is the action scene that pays tribute to Star Wars. The other action sequence is a triple-threat match that evokes the apex of a downward spiral of decent. This sounds broad I know, but I am doing my best to accurately reference scenes to people who have seen it while avoiding spoilers for people who want to see it.

An aspect I both loved and hated was the use of high frequent cutting on many of the action sequences. It was good because the editing was great as it mostly felt smooth and fast-paced. It looked intense and professionally made. The downside to this was the action was so fast that my brain struggled to keep up with the images. Maybe it is because I am slow sometimes or the fact I was sleepy tired after a long day of travel, but my eyes and brain hurt! Thankfully, it was only for short periods of time, but it slightly hurt the viewing experience for me.

There are only two things I will say about the story. 1. It was rather engaging and 2. I liked how the story developed and how key scenes convincingly changed the behaviors and motives of the main characters in an entertaining way. You have to give credit to the actors for that.

Captain America: Civil War was a nice action film to see. It may be even better if you have seen other movies from the Marvel universe. From my limited knowledge, I have heard people understand more of the movie and sympathize more with the characters if they saw movies like the Iron Man and Captain America series. Despite not being a diehard fan, it worked for me as well. I think it falls short of the top echelon of superhero movies, but not by much. In saying that, I think it is better than Deadpool as a whole. That is saying something. ****1/2

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Year:2016
Rating: PG
Length: 151 Minutes
Main Cast: Ben Affleck
Henry Carvell
Jessie Eisenberg
Amy Adams
Holly Hunter
Main Production Company: DC Entertainment
Written By: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Directed By: Zack Snyder
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Written by Nelson Cumming

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice needlessly pants, wheezes, and heaves along before it hurls itself over the finish line completely exhausted and out of breath by the time the credits roll and the curtain calls: At 151 minutes. When I walked out, I was admittedly confused others were miffed, but we all shared the same disappointment. There many, many movies that are worse than this one. The main reason I was disappointed was because of the large gap in quality between the expected product and the actual product. I can tell you that I am not the only one that shared this view.

This film is so uneven that I had to look at the plot on Wikipedia to understand what was going on. Batman (Ben Affleck) finds a weapons dealer selling Kryptonite to Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) and plans to try and steal the Kryptonite, weaponise it and defeat Superman (whom Batman believes is a threat to peace). Funny thing is, Superman (Henry Carvell) thinks Batman is a threat to peace too! (dun, dun, dun!) and the main antagonist Luthor has his own plans to destroy both Superman and Batman.

I am not sure if I am the only one here, but it was unclear to me the reasons Batman and Superman hated each other in the first place. I also wondered why some of the side plots even existed. Scene after scene, this movie goes from one character to another without connecting the dots together to make a coherent narrative. There is a scene near the beginning when Kryptonite was discovered in the ocean, the Kryptonite is then not seen for about half an hour as the movie cuts away to a scene with Superman, another scene with Lois Lane and the third scene with Batman. By the time I saw the Kryptonite again, I nearly forgot about its existence. This was how the whole movie played out.

Batman v Superman needed better writers and better editors. Too many scenes were redundantly made (shame on the writer) and those scenes were kept in and were chopped around instead of flowing seamlessly (even more shame on the editor) There is a subplot which involves lots of politics with tons of soapbox political dialogue that could have been cut out. That is 30 minutes off right there! Now all you have to do is put the remaining scenes in the correct order and you have a half-decent movie that people can leave the cinema saying “It was ok, not that great, but it is a movie you can spend an hour and forty minutes on”

Even then I am not exactly sure people would say that due to the classic Hollywood storytelling convention this movie used (twice). It is called The Dream Sequence, where “it was all a dream”. Yes, Batman has nightmares about Superman kicking his ass twice. To say that I hate a dream sequence would be an understatement and yet they had the courage to do that twice to the audience. As soon as I saw the second dream sequence, I stopped writing and smacked my fist into the palm of my hand in frustration.

What was even worse is the actual movie title is misleading. Batman and Superman fight for only five minutes only for them to stop fighting through because of a silly little plot device. Let’s just say that the stars aligned for Superman when his mother shared the same name as Batman’s mother. The rest of the film is Batman and Superman vs. Lex Luthor which goes for 30-40 minutes.

There were some awesome action scenes, great music by Henry Carvell and decent acting from the cast. This is what helps make the movie watchable. At the end of the day, the movie had a very high benchmark it had to live up to, made even higher with its marketing campaign. I was expecting at least 4 and a half star quality movie. Unfortunately, the movie falls 500 miles off the mark. It is so mundanely average **