Comic Book

Logan

I had really high expectations for this movie; so much so that I was willing to sit at the front of the auditorium in a sold out show on opening weekend just to see it. I had something personal invested in this one as a long time Wolverine fan. This one wasn’t going to be the let down the others were and I wholeheartedly believed that. I was so excited for this final film to have a hard R rating and I was pumped after listening to early reviews that raved about it. Calling it not just great but one of the greatest comic book films ever made.

Maybe that was a bit too much of an overstatement. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe too much of the film was shown in the trailers. Or maybe it was just too late to try to do Wolverine the right way. I haven’t narrowed it down yet but this movie fell way short of my expectations and not even all the blood or fucks in all their R rated glory was enough to tip the scales for me.

I’ll be careful here because I don’t want to spoil anything, as if trailers didn’t spoil the whole damn movie for us already. I also have no interest in discouraging anybody else from seeing it because I still want the movie to be successful. Success for Logan means there is more potential for more R rated comic book films. It was liked by all I attended the film with and watching it a second time I may feel differently after expectations are held firmly in check.

Without spoiling anything I’ll simply say I didn’t care for the old Wolverine. If they were going to legitimately adapt the Old Man Logan comic that would have been one thing but that isn’t what they did in this movie. In this movie Wolverine is simply old, and he couldn’t physically capture the violence necessary to deliver on that R rating. Not for me anyway. Don’t get me wrong, he has plenty of great scenes in this movie but where was this R rating when Wolverine was in his prime? Where was the final end all be all villain for Wolverine to fight? Be it Sabertooth, Omega Red, or any of the many villains he has personally had a vendetta with over the years? This film really could have used a legitimate villain and what we got simply wasn’t good enough. This movie wasn’t a Wolverine story though, it was a Wolverine ending and too much of the film simply led to that ending.

I think for this movie to have been as good as it was promised to be it had to top all of the other Wolverine performances from the past. I simply don’t think it did. I think the film easily beats out the Wolverine we have seen in his solo movies but it can’t top his roles in X2 or X-Men Days of Future Past. I feel like we needed to see a cooler Wolverine for the final ride and what we saw was an old and defeated Wolverine.

I have been lost on what to think about this movie because I want so bad to like it but I simply can’t. I have accepted my disappointment and will hope I feel differently once I see it a second time. I just think with any hero you have to work the cool factor. If you can’t make Wolverine cool you did something wrong and I don’t think there was anything cool about Wolverine in this movie. Not only was he not cool I wouldn’t even call him likable as the disgruntled old man who doesn’t have it in him to be a good guy anymore.

I didn’t hate this movie and I wouldn’t argue with anybody that liked it. It just wasn’t what I wanted it to be and I found that so disappointing as a fan. Ultimately, even at a PG-13 level I thought Wolverine had better fight scenes in X2 and I thought he was at his coolest in X-Men Days of Future Past. For either of those things to be possible this movie wasn’t what it was supposed to be, for me anyway.

We love Wolverine because he is a badass, but he wasn’t badass in this movie. He didn’t have his iconic look at all, featuring neither the awesome hair or the sideburns. He grabbed cigars at one time but I don’t remember him smoking any of them. He spends more time getting his ass kicked than kicking ass. While Logan is usually gruff I’d call him more ornery and pissy in this rendition. This guy had feral rage and claws that popped out of his hands but that’s about it.

Unfortunately I think the coolest thing about this movie was the Deadpool teaser at the beginning. It was a fun little short that reminds us Fox still has something going for it in the comic book department. I thought Patrick Stewart was great as always and I really liked X-23 and thought the actress playing her was exceptional. Donald Pierce seemed like he was going to be a really cool bad guy but he sort of just fell off as the movie progressed.

Bottom Line: Go see this movie for yourself and form your own opinions. I was the exception when walking out of the theater and plenty of people probably won’t agree with me here. It’s blasphemous I know to criticize Hugh Jackman on his final go around and I’m sorry. I was not impressed with what he and James Mangold did with this opportunity.

 

Iron Man 3

Year: 2013
Directed By: Shane Black
Written By: Drew Pearce and Shane Black

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been a little obsessed with the MCU lately. Along with Iron Man 2 I revisited this film too as it is the only other movie within the MCU that we didn’t own a copy of. Having not added the second film to the collection I didn’t add this one either because I can’t stand gaps within trilogies even if one of the films isn’t very good. When this movie came out I didn’t think it was good enough to warrant purchasing both films. I thought it was OK when it was released and I’ll maintain that impression after seeing it again. This movie is just OK and far from the best of the bunch when it comes to the 14 movies now within the MCU.

I remember when this film came out the tagline was something like “does the suit make the man or the man make the suit.” That was a huge theme within this movie as Tony again spends far too much time as Tony and not enough as Iron Man. It’s cool that Tony Stark can still be heroic without his armor but I didn’t go see the Iron Man movie to see Tony in James Bond mode outside the Mandarin’s house. I wanted more Iron Man after feeling like the second movie didn’t offer enough Iron Man action either. While I like the second film more now than I did years ago I still feel like this one had a lot more problems.

The problem with the scope of the MCU now has to be making these individual movies when they aren’t all together. For example where is Captain America when the President’s life is being threatened? Where was Iron Man when S.H.I.E.L.D. turned out to be heavily infiltrated by Hydra? Yeah it’s all about budget and contracts and you can’t have every character in every film but that doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t really make sense. We are seeing that change as there is far more crossover with characters these days. I’m totally psyched for the third Thor film as it will feature appearances from both the Hulk and Doctor Strange.

I have always been a fan of Shane Black’s action films from the 90s. While usually credited with writing he has had a hand in many classic action films like Lethal Weapon, Last Action HeroThe Last Boy Scout, and one of my household favorites growing up The Long Kiss Goodnight. He was also the writer for one of my childhood/lifetime favorites The Monster Squad. So I’m a big fan of his work, but I don’t know that this Iron Man film lived up to some of those classics. Getting behind camera this time around Shane Black gave us a cool enough movie but nothing spectacular.

This movie doesn’t have the feel of a real MCU movie barring the presence of MCU characters. For example it doesn’t have a mid credit sequence that alludes to the coming films or future of the MCU. Its setting during the Christmas season for a summer release seemed an odd choice, out of place in the MCU which is usually has no association with holidays.

I think the problems with this movie in general starts with the story. It just isn’t big enough and too isolated to Iron Man specifically. After the second film there should have been more cross over with other characters. For example, Captain America’s third film featured an iconic comic storyline and turned into a huge spectacle. I think they could have put more thought into what to do for Iron Man’s second sequel. Granted you have Don Cheadle on board as War Machine/Iron Patriot but it just doesn’t seem like enough. After introducing Black Widow and featuring Nick Fury in the second movie this one is just too absent of other characters.

I also hate that Ben Kingsley was wasted as a pretend bad guy. He could have been much cooler than what they ultimately got with Guy Pearce. I don’t really care for Guy Pearce and nothing about that changed with this movie. I liked Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, but felt another rival weapons manufacturer for this movie to be redundant. I did like James Dale Badge as the top henchman. I have been a fan of his since he played Jack Bauer’s partner in season 3 of 24. Ben Kingsley isn’t just a top grade actor but he is capable of playing a great villain, if in any doubt check out this. This movie could have used a little Don Logan if you ask me, such a waste.

I consider this one of the weakest installments to the MCU, not a bad movie but simply not up to par with the other films. It just feels too isolated for a third installment. Tony has too many friends at this point to take on this problem on his own. Even if they couldn’t include other characters somebody else should have at least been referenced with the President’s life at stake. I think this movie is worth your time but it’s far from the top of the pack in the 14 movies now within the MCU.

 

Iron Man 2

Year: 2010
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Justin Theroux

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie has long since been one of the few Marvel films that didn’t have a place in our collection. I saw it in the theater when it came out back in 2010 and I wasn’t overly impressed. I thought the lack of action and story direction was a problem for a sequel that didn’t live up to my expectations at the time. However, having recently watched Grace Randolph list it so high in her ranking of Marvel movies I decided to give it another chance. I found that I enjoyed it much more this time around and think I’ve been too critical of it over the last several years.

I think I was just too impatient as a viewer back in 2010. I wanted more from this film than it offered and the disappointment overwhelmed the whole movie for me. I always think a sequel should be bigger than the original and by extension have more excitement as well. This movie is a bigger story as Tony Stark struggles with the life threatening nature of his power source as well as trying to maintain what he has created with the Iron Man. Yet the movie is seriously lacking in action. The action scenes on hand are all great but there is a long lull in the middle with little actual Iron Man action baring his in house fight with War Machine. The fight between Whiplash and Iron Man on the race track was incredible and I think the climax battle in the end really pays off well.

I never care for a storyline in a comic book film when a character loses the ability to be the hero. Same thing in Spiderman 2 when Peter Parker loses his power and gives up being Spiderman for a while. For me, when the hero ceases to be a hero and becomes a regular person it takes away all the excitement. You know they will eventually get their powers or abilities back and the time in between is just something to wait out.  This is a different situation but when I watched this movie back in 2010 I felt like Iron Man slowly being poisoned to death took away from what could have been more actual Iron Man action. Watching it this time around was different though and I could find more appeal to the film.

I initially hated the scene in which Tony gets hammered, pees in the suit, and then fights his newly cast best friend. It was just such a low point for our hero that it rubbed me the wrong way. Yet weighed against potential death it makes much more sense. Wouldn’t we all lose it a little bit and get crazy if we knew we were going to die? I can appreciate it more this time around too knowing that it echoes a story line in the comics in which Tony Stark was struggling with alcoholism.

I am not a huge Terrance Howard fan by any means but I didn’t care for the recasting of Rhodey. In truth I am a bigger fan of Don Cheadle but his casting breaks the continuity of the films. I didn’t care for the recasting of Edward Norton in the MCU either but that proved to be a success as Mark Ruffalo did a fantastic job with the part of the Hulk. I think it’s impressive how Marvel can do that and maintain success. Guys like Terrance Howard and Edward Norton were cast early in the process of building a cinematic universe. Hindsight is 20/20 though and given a chance to go back I think both would have done whatever necessary to make the relationship work.

I am a big fan of Sam Rockwell and liked him in the role of Tony’s rival Justin Hammer. I think it was really cool that the character was name dropped recently on Netflix’s Luke Cage and hope that means there is a potential return to the MCU in the future. Don’t know how he would be utilized but the MCU is really in need of more recurring villains. There’s no chance of return for Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash but he made waves with some really cool scenes within this movie. The fight on the race track with Tony’s briefcase suit was specifically awesome.

This movie was critical in the advancement of the MCU on the road to The Avengers. By introducing Black Widow and giving more screen time to Nick Fury they started laying the foundation for the connective tissue of these movies. There is also a reference here to Captain America’s with Tony using a prototype version of his shield at one point. It expanded the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. and gave it more history with Howard Stark being one of the founding members.

I don’t think this movie measures up to its predecessor but I do think the movie is better than I gave it credit for when it first came out. This movie led directly into The Avengers as arguably the most important stepping stone in creating the MCU. I don’t know that I agree with how high it was ranked by Grace Randolph but I can at least see now why she had it so high. This movie is worth your time if for no other reason than if you see one movie in the MCU you should have really seen them all. Marvel has made history with their creation of a cinematic universe and everyone is trying to copy them now.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Year: 2014
Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out before I really understood and appreciated the scope of the MCU. I knew that all the comic book movies Marvel was making would eventually tie together and I thought they were all good. Yet when this movie came out I gave it a pass. I have been a comic book fan my whole life yet had never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The previews did nothing to encourage me as I distinctly remember wondering what was up with this movie. There was a talking racoon in it and this big tree thing that was voiced by none other than Vin Diesel. They had a WWE star in the cast! The fat guy from Parks and Rec was playing the lead. There was just no way this movie would amount to anything more than an experiment Marvel lost money on.

Well, I like to admit when I am wrong and from the very beginning of this movie I could instantly tell I was not only wrong about it but I was in store for something spectacular. Starlord dancing around during the opening credits is so engaging and fun. It instantly sets the tone for what turned out to be a really engaging and fun movie. That tone is also set by an awesome soundtrack that would top the charts for many weeks on end.

It turned out that fat guy from Parks and Rec lost a ton of weight and was kind of a hilarious badass in his own way. The talking racoon was not only not stupid but managed to steal the show. He is incredible and awesome in every single scene he is part of. Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot arguably showed more range than Vin Diesel as the actor in popular over explosive movies. I knew nothing about Dave Batista other than him being a WWE performer. Just when that seems like enough I see something like this that throws the whole world off balance.

I thought Dave Bautista was not just good in this movie but outstanding. He is so funny with his literal one liners and lack of understanding when it comes to metaphor or sarcasm. “Why would I run my finger across his throat?” He’s just so unexpectedly hilarious I absolutely cann0t wait for the sequel because I want more of this guy. I wrote him off for no other reason than the fact that he was a pro wrestler by trade and that seemed to be a gross miscalculation.

Chris Pratt blew up into a star following this movie and when you watch the movie it’s easy to see why. He is undeniably likable in this movie and brings a wit to the character that makes him hilarious. I really like Chris Pratt from his days on Parks and Rec where after a while I thought he was the only good thing about the show. I only refer to him as “the fat guy” because I have heard so many people describe him that way. I found it really impressive how he got himself in shape for the role. He did so on his own volition too which shows a lot of dedication to the character.

I can’t think of anything to say about Rocket other than he is just hands down awesome. His dialogue and delivery are so funny. He didn’t have time to work out the “minutia” of the plan, he called Stan Lee a “class A prevert,” and he got Starlord to take that prosthetic leg for his plan to escape the prison. He’s just so funny and I was thoroughly surprised by the character. He is so much more than simply funny as he is a tiny little badass that you just don’t see coming.

By saying no more than three words throughout the movie Vin Diesel actually managed to impress me. I have never been a big fan of the guy and don’t consider him to be a good actor. I can’t stand an actor that has to go over the top trying to be cool. If you have to try to be cool you are simply missing that element that makes it natural. In this film though, with his three words, it’s the coolest I think he has ever been.

Zoe Saldana seems to be part of every sci-fi franchise lately after significant parts in Avatar and the Star Trek franchise. In this movie she looks really good with green skin and I like her character quite a bit. She’s a beautiful woman but I feel like I would’t recognize her in anything else. She has over 40 acting credits but usually when I see her she is either CGI or in tons of make up.

Most of the characters in this movie are in a ton of make up or done by CGI but my favorite is Michael Rooker with that bright blue skin. I am a big fan of Michael Rooker going all the way back to Cliffhanger and before. I love his perception in this movie that Starlord owes him something because he stopped his people from eating him as a child. The arrow that he uses with his whistling is awesome and I can’t wait to see more of it in the sequel.

The rest of this cast is full of great actors in supporting roles. John C. Reilly is great in everything and he manages to be really funny in a small part. Glenn Close brings credibility as the leader of the Nova as does Benicio Del Toro as The Collector. My favorite supporting character is Korath played by Djimon Hounsou. He just looks so wicked in costume and I love the part of the film in which he called Quill Starlord and the response is a delighted “finally.”

I really liked the villains in this movie. Ronan was really wicked from the beginning with his dressing ceremony up to his disgust at Peter Quill dancing. Played by Lee Pace it is hard to recognize him at all in all the make-up but the make-up that hid him was excellent. He is a ruthless villain and thus far one of the better villains in the MCU who haven’t really measured up in the villain department quite like they have in the hero. This movie also gives us our longest look at the coming big bad guy Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. He has merely a cameo in this movie but it offers us a good look at what is to come. I also liked Nebula with her jealous streak and ability to just bounce back into form robotically after being blasted by an explosion. Looks like she will be switching sides in the next film and it will be cool to see her kicking ass for the good guys.

I had never seen anything by Director James Gunn before but I will have an eye out for his work in the future. I think the script he wrote for this movie was just so incredibly funny. I am regularly impressed with the people Marvel finds to helm their movies because often I am unfamiliar with them. They manage to make it all work great though with fantastic continuity for the expanding cinematic universe. No matter who is at the helm all of these movies manage to feel like they are on the same page. It’s an impressive thing and evidence of the genius behind Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige.

I think I have rambled on sufficiently for this movie but I could never say enough about how much I enjoy this movie. I love when I have low expectations of something and it manages to blow me away. If you have preconceived notions about this movie I understand, but I sincerely encourage you to give it a chance and find out as I did how great it is and what you are missing. This movie isn’t just worth your time but worth plenty of your time as it gets better with multiple viewings.

 

 

Sin City

Year: 2005
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, special guest directing by Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Frank Miller

RYAN’S REVIEW

In the decade prior to the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first Iron Man movie, comic book films were growing in popularity. You had the properties owned by Fox hitting the big screen with titles like X-Men, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and Daredevil. Though only X-Men could be considered a success. You had Warner Brothers still pushing Batman and Superman movies with no continuity between them; they would show up egregiously late to the Cinematic Universe party. Then you had movies like this one. Gritty adaptations to darker comics like 300, and The Spirit. All of these films helped build the momentum that would carry the movie industry into the huge market of films based on comic characters.

Beyond the R rated New Line films featuring Blade this was far and away the darkest of all comic book films that had been released. Not only was it dark but it was violent and graphic in ways nobody had seen before. Twice in this movie Bruce Willis destroys the genitals of a sex pervert, which specifically stood out as a new and obscene type of violence. This movie truly lived up to it’s name with all the evilness going on within the movie. There are sex criminals, cannibalism, corruption, betrayal, prostitution, and brutally satisfying violence. Shot in black and white with specific uses of colors all this sinful behavior is on beautiful display to dazzle the audience. I have never understood why it took nine years to make a sequel and why it wasn’t as successful.

I have never taken the time to see the sequel because I have never heard anything positive about it. I didn’t want a subpar sequel to disappoint me in what I had once hoped would be a successful franchise. I think waiting too long can sometimes hurt a franchise. For example, I couldn’t get into The Hobbit movies because I felt like too much time had passed. The time to make those movies were in a reasonable time frame after The Lord of the Rings finished up when it was still fresh on all our minds. I feel like that is the same reason I haven’t seen the sequel to this movie. Nine years is too long to wait on a sequel and by the time it finally came interest had waned. I wish Robert Rodriguez had continued this franchise in lieu of diving into the Machete movies. However, I have yet to see the sequel and if anybody wants to vouch for it please leave a comment. I only need to be slightly motivated to sit down with it.

This movie is a beautiful adaptation because it looks like the pages of a comic book came to life and started moving around. Shot nearly entirely against a green screen this movie is so clever with its use of color. Only specific items in the film are seen in color and their presence creates such a sharp contrast to the film noir setting, making the movie all the more beautiful. I do not know if the colors show up in Frank Miller’s actual comic because I have never taken the time to read it. Rodriguez is on record stating that he doesn’t really consider this film a adaptation and instead sees it as a transition of the page to the screen. That makes me think that the colors are part of the comic, and maybe one day I will find out for myself.

Robert Rodriguez has always been good at assembling a great cast in his movies and this one is no different. The cast of this movie is truly exceptional in all main roles as well as supporting roles. I have long considered this to be one of the last exceptional movies featuring Bruce Willis with few exceptions like Planet Terror or Moonrise KingdomSpecifically this is before he decided to go back to the Die Hard franchise and destroy the legacy of John McClane. Mickey Rourke enjoyed a nice resurgence in his career around the time this film came out and his role as Marv had a lot to do with that. He was viewed as perfect for the part by creator Frank Miller. In the last of what constitutes the main roles I really liked Clive Owen as Dwight. Owen had burst onto the scene around the time this movie was coming out and just as quickly fell off the map. He is still active as an actor but isn’t anywhere close to the spotlight he found himself in ten years ago in the aftermath of playing King Arthur.

The supporting cast of this movie would just take far too long to cover in its entirety. I think special mention should go to Elijah Wood who is undeniably creepy and evil as the silent cannibal Kevin. Rosario Dawson is overflowing with sexuality as the leader of the Old Town whores, Gail. Benicio Del Toro is barely recognizable in make up for the role of Jackie Boy, which was originally offered to Johnny Depp. The late Michael Clarke Duncan was perfect as the golden eyed Manute. I think he was a tragic loss but find the replacement actor, Dennis Haysbert a good choice to play the same role in the sequel. Josh Hartnett looks quite dapper in his beginning scene with Marley Shelton and I specifically like how he shows back up in the end as kind of a bookend to a movie that bounces around in storylines. I have always been a fan of Powers Boothe, and he plays a great bad guy. As Senator Roark he is specifically scary with his efforts to protect his sex criminal son, even suggesting that he would make him President. Last but not least I feel compelled to mention Carla Gugino who is just unbelievably hot in this movie. I’m a big fan and don’t understand why she doesn’t have a more stacked career.

The special guest direction from Quentin Tarantino seemed more like a favor to me than anything else and it turns out it was. Rodriguez did the soundtrack for Kill Bill Volume 2 for one dollar and Tarantino returned the favor by directing a scene in this one. This was during the time I specifically began to despise Tarantino and thought he brought nothing to the table. He directs the scene in which Dwight is driving the bodies to the pit and he has a conversation with a dead Jackie Boy. I didn’t think the flashing colors worked with the continuity of the film and I felt the whole scene was too full of dialogue. That’s Tarantino’s thing though, give him a window and he’ll drone on forever with needless conversation.

This movie wasn’t the start of something greater as I had hoped but it stands on its own just fine. The sequel came out far too late and without the same enthusiasm that was put behind this one. Again, I haven’t seen it so anybody who has please share your thoughts. I think this movie is one of the finest adaptations to a comic I have seen and it was an important film for the future of the comic book era of films. I don’t know what went wrong with the sequel and can’t vouch for it but this movie is easily worth your time. It’s not for the faint of heart but if you have an appetite for something devious than you can’t do much better than this one.

NEXT MOVIE: The Sixth Sense (1999)

 

 

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Year: 2016
Directed By: Zak Snyder
Written By: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is not nearly as bad as it was received when it became the expensive flop of the summer. After my initial viewing of the movie I completely agreed with the poor reviews. It took a while for my disappointment to simmer down and now that it has I can watch the movie more objectively. I have found that it holds up better after multiple viewings, especially with the extended cut. That is not to say that this movie did things right and there is plenty wrong with the film, but there is still enough to build on and hopefully Warner Brothers learns from its mistakes and starts to do better as they work to build a DC Extended Universe.

The big problem this movie faced was the fact that it was coming late to the cinematic universe party. Marvel on the other hand has an eight year head start and they are weaving together characters with phenomenal success in the MCU. More importantly Marvel is making incredible movies that are regularly surprising the audiences. Specifically, they are finding great success with relatively unknown characters like Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-ManBoth of which had no business being so successful but they were just that good. In their effort to compete with Marvel this movie failed miserably but the dice has been rolled and there is no turning back now. The DCEU is here and it is going to grow. The studio is scrambling to right all the wrongs and only time will tell if they are successful in that endeavor.

To discuss this movie I think the best way to do it is going over what was right and what was wrong with the movie. So without further adieu:

What they did right

Batman

This is the trickiest part because they were recreating a character that has been recreated more than any other on the big screen. That being said they were most successful with this rendition. I was very against the casting of Ben Affleck when the news initially dropped but I think he gave us one of the finer versions of the character. I liked the older Batman modeled after Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Affleck pulled it off well. As Batman he was excellent in utilizing tools and tech to take out bad guys. One of the greatest scenes in the movie wasn’t the fight between Batman and Superman but the rescue of Martha Kent. I loved when he dismantles all the guns from above while all the criminals think he is still below. As a human Batman has to be a step ahead of everyone he faces and we see his preparation in this movie. When Superman shows up Batman is ready for him with a variety of weapons designed to hurt the Kryptonian God, and he ultimately wins the fight because he is prepared. The difference in Batman and Superman is that Batman is actually a fighter, Superman is simply so superpowered nobody can stop him. When the odds are leveled out it is easy for Batman to pummel Superman because Superman always relies on his powers. I think Ben Affleck’s Batman is easily the best thing this new DCEU has going for it so far.

The Cinematography

Say what you will about Zak Snyder, and I have said plenty, but the man is an artist behind camera. I felt he was really the wrong choice to direct this movie but one thing you can’t take away from him is everything is aesthetically pleasing. Synder movies may suffer in several categories but at the very least it will look really good. This movie looks awesome and that is a reflection of Synder.

Wonder Woman

While she doesn’t play the largest part in the movie the introduction of the character was really cool. Gal Gadot looks stunning in her combat gear and she shows up ready to fight. I like that they didn’t waste any time with character set up, simply having her in the mix was a good idea and kept the film shorter. The early looks at the coming Wonder Woman movie have all been really cool and that movie is shaping up to possibly get the DCEU back on the right track. This movie introduced us to her as a powerful warrior that we will all be interested to learn more about when her solo film hits theaters.

The Destruction of Metropolis from Bruce Wayne’s Point of View

This was a really great way to start the movie because it flipped what we had already seen in Man of Steel and it showed us what that fight with Zod was like from the ground level. Superman may have saved the day but a lot of innocent people got killed in the process. Bruce Wayne is badass driving through the destruction of the city and he is heroic when people are in danger. This scene also gives us a clear idea of why Batman does not like Superman. He is emotionally invested in the fight having lost so many employees due to the destruction of Wayne Tower.

Knightmare

I don’t know how much of this is actual foreshadowing but Batman’s apocalyptic nightmare is one of the coolest parts of the movie. Superman’s own private army that bows down to him is really cool and more importantly an evil Superman proves to be really badass. Unmasking Batman before ripping his heart out of his chest. The scene is also really important for setting things up in the DC Extended Universe. It shows the Omega symbol that alludes to the coming of super villain Darkseid as well as giving us a glimpse of the Parademons who fight alongside Superman’s private army. It’s also great to see Batman going full commando as he shoots and beats up several people. Afterwards the appearance of The Flash is also significant. I cannot imagine that Superman is actually being set up to be a bad guy but if he is then we got a small taste of what it would be like and it was delectable.

What they did wrong

Lex Luthor

This is my biggest problem casting wise. While Affleck was able to live up to the greats that came before him I just don’t think Jesse Eisenberg did so. I think his hipster Lex Luthor is a poor villain for such formidable foes and I don’t think he lives up to the Luthor’s we saw from either Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey. He is too young for one and seems too erratic. To be the man of superb intelligence he wasn’t calculating enough, and had no intimidation factor whatsoever. What’s up with him blowing up Mercy Graves when he’s trying to set up Superman? Even in the end when he looks truer to the character having his head shaved he doesn’t measure up. Instead of looking like an imprisoned Luthor he looks like a pipsqueak neo nazi being threatened by Batman. They should have cast someone larger, and someone we could buy into as the mastermind behind bringing down Superman.

Superman

He is just really lacking character in this movie. He spends all his time obsessing over Batman and completely doesn’t notice he is being set up as a villain to the public. His girlfriend is even investigating everything Luthor is into yet he stills seems aloof and disinterested in the real threat to him. The fight seemed ultimately unnecessary too when it plays out. He starts by trying to reason with Batman but so quickly goes to fighting him. Batman has obviously showed up to fight, it just seems he could have shown more restraint given the circumstances. I didn’t really like how the whole fight was set up anyway. There just could have been a real reason for them to come to blows and not over a misunderstanding involving his mother.

Martha

“WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME!!!” This was a weak end to a weak fight. I’ll get to my problems with the fighting choreography in a minute but here you have these two guys actually trying to kill each other one minute and the next minute they’re buddies. “Oh you’re Mom’s named Martha? So was mine, let’s not fight anymore.” It just didn’t make any sense and the writing is really the flaw.

The Fight Choreography

I think this is one of the most important aspects to any film and the only time they did well in this movie was when Batman fights in the warehouse to save Superman’s mother. The fight between Batman and Superman was not awful but it wasn’t as cool as it could have been either. When it came to the battle at the end against Doomsday I felt like I was trying to watch a Michael Bay film. There’s just too much going on and it’s hard to absorb. Marvel does a lot of things right and one of the most important things they do right is their fights are always awesome. A good fight scene can make or break something, especially a movie about super heroes duking it out. Captain America: Civil War for example was full of fantastic fighting, with real reason behind it too mind you.

The Killing Bat

I didn’t have a problem with it, but the Batman purist out there were screaming about all the people Batman kills in this movie. Traditionally that is the one thing that separates Batman from his villains. He doesn’t kill people and he doesn’t go too far. That’s not the Batman we see in this movie who has no problem killing anybody in a variety of ways. The ones he doesn’t kill he brands, giving Lex Luthor an opportunity to make him look like even more of a killer. In the extended cut you can see that the guys getting locked up with the bat brand are being targeted by killers paid off by Luthor. An even greater affront to the purist may be Batman’s use of a gun. In that awesome Knightmare sequence Batman uses a couple different guns when he goes commando and starts killing big time. Batman is a character that walks a fine line between good guy and bad guy. He fights for good but as a vigilante he is just as much a criminal as the men he fights. Not killing is the one thing that separates him from them. In this movie he actually qualifies as a murderer and that’s a problem.

The Death of Superman

It’s too soon to play out the death of Superman plain and simple. We haven’t had enough time to become emotionally attached to the character for one. Another is it really doesn’t make sense how he would come back to life even though we all know he will. General Zod didn’t come back to life after Superman broke his neck so why would Superman be able to survive being gouged by Doomsday? I think they could have easily made a climax that didn’t involve killing off such an important character. Doomsday clearly isn’t capable of flight in this movie, only jumping really high and far. So why not end it with Superman punching him deep into space after a big and epic fight. That would at least allow for the eventual return of the villain. Killing him off instead was an empty gesture, especially after he failed to impress in this movie. I think it’s obvious to all there will be a return of the character sometime during the Justice League and the inevitability of that only makes it all the more fruitless to have done.

Cutting Steppenwolf

If you shoot a scene that builds to the next movie and alludes to the villain our heroes will unite against why cut it? I think this was a ridiculous thing to cut from the movie. It couldn’t have been due to time restraints because the scene is very short. Certainly they could have cut a Perry White or Lois Lane scene instead. The scene not only gives a rudimentary glance at the next villain but it suggests what he is coming after by the three Mother Boxes floating in front of him. I think the extended cut of the movie is a better version but this was the only scene I felt really should have been part of the theatrical release.

Conclusion

The DCEU passed the point of no return long before this movie came out so there is no turning back and no rebooting here. The movie made a pile of money but it hardly got the return the studio was hoping for. It was released in late March to get a jump on the summer movie season but instead of owning the box office during that time it was topped in week three by Melissa McCarthy’s The Boss. That was just embarrassing, and it never would have happened on Christopher Nolan‘s watch. The studio has clearly felt the negative response the movie received and they are working to fix the problems for the future. Only time will tell but I hope they get it right. It could and should be a lot of fun to see these new characters brought to the big screen.

There is no arguing that this could have been a better movie but I think time will prove that it was good enough. If Warner Brothers can get it together and make some solid movies for the DCEU then all the things wrong with this movie won’t matter. They swung for the rafters but barely made it to first base at this first at bat. They’ll need to knock us out of the park with the Justice League, and the sooner we get a solo Batman with Ben Affleck the better.

Hope hangs in the balance as we wait for what else is in store for the budding DCEU. I will admit that the trailers for both Wonder Woman and Justice League looked really cool and got me excited for what is to come. This movie will serve as a trial and error process if they are able to make those movies work.

I think this movie is worth your time but if you are going to watch it I would suggest the extended cut. It gives the movie more depth and a little bit more understanding about why Superman and Batman have such a problem with each other. It also gives you a really cool glimpse at what else Lex Luthor is doing inside the Kryptonian ship. In the end when he is screaming at Batman about the coming threat there is context to go by. The extended cut of the movie is easily worth your time even with the added time stretching it to just over three hours long.

X-Men Apocalypse

Spoilers Ahead

Here’s the first thing that comes to mind for me, as a veteran comic film fan, and that’s that when I have high expectations they better be met or at the very least come reasonably close. I suppose Days of Future Past spoiled me with this series but this movie just didn’t fit the bill. In truth I think the biggest problem was letting J-Law try to carry the movie, the absence of Jackman in the leading role was felt severely. 

As aesthetically pleasing as the film was it just didn’t deliver on any level. The were two, three scenes tops that were worth wild in this movie and beyond that it’s a lot of disappointment. Everybody looked good though. Olivia Munn as Psylocke specifically looked incredible. The entire costume department for the film did an incredible job with everyone. Yet it was not enough to overcome the plot problems and the lack of action throughout. 

Michael Fassbender is fantastic as always but he wasn’t used properly or enough. Tye Sheridan was great as a young cyclops but I felt Alexandra Shipp was not used enough either. She looked great but didn’t get enough speaking lines, and when she did they were silly a la “I heard he was your father.” That was just weird at the end of the film. If gossip is so rampant at the X mansion that new chick has heard about it how is it Magneto doesn’t know he has a son? 

I thought Jennifer Lawrence was just going through the motions here. For the record I think she is a fantastic actress but not suited for the lead in this film. I didn’t like that the story set up Mystique to be the hero for all mutants because I just didn’t think it was right for the character. Mystique is an awesome character but I like Rebecca Romijn’s version better. Mischievous villain shouldn’t be the one everyone looks to for leadership. I also thought Sophie Turner looked silly touching her head James McAvoy style the whole movie. She has the hair to honestly play Jean Grey but I am not overly impressed with Turner as an actress.

Though the biggest disappointment lies in the main antagonist himself. Apocalypse just doesn’t do enough, or rarely more than glossing over his eyes. I just expected more. He looked great but not big enough, when he is eye to eye with Magneto there is something wrong. He should have been bigger, taller. Apocalypse is an all powerful bad guy who is too easily defeated and not given enough to do.  

In this movie Quicksilver and Wolverine steal the show. Evan Peters is great in the part and he really steals the scene when things get explosive. I didn’t think it made any sense when he took on Apocalypse alone at the end of the movie with seemingly super human strength, but I’ll excuse that in his case. He brought more to the film than most. Hugh Jackman was sorely missed but his small part was one of the greatest in the entire film. So savage and so satisfying was his kill streak through the Weapon X place. I thought his look was perfect with the head gear and the wires as he wreaked havoc through the base.

By the climax of this film I was so dissatisfied I could have walked out and cared less what else happened. I hate that, because I wanted to love this movie. Instead I left the theater wanting and wishing I had just watched Captain America Civil War for a second time instead. Civil War was a fantastic movie and managed to do exactly what this film surprisingly failed to. We did hear people clapping when the movie ended but we have no idea why. I was so disappointed I didn’t even care to see the post credits scene and didn’t wait around to see it.

I have doubts that this franchise will even move forward with whatever was shown in the post credit scenes anyway. I am probably wrong but I don’t think the movie will be successful enough to garner another film in the franchise. I think most likely the studio will move on to other properties like X-Force, New Mutants, and Deadpool with certain X-men popping up now and again like Colossus in Deadpool.

This movie failed to meet my expectations and when people ask me I will tell them so. Your time will be much better spent seeing Captain America 3 than it would watching this film.