Better Late Reviews – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The first word that comes to mind when thinking about Zack Snyder’s latest comic book movie is “surprising”.  Fears of the movie being over-stuffed or “too self-serious” were extinguished by the end.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a fun and fast moving big-budget romp that is also the closest a DC comics movie has been to its source material.

In the movie’s beginning, Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) perspective of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) catastrophic battle with General Zod (Michael Shannon), and his attempts to save people while buildings come crumbling down and someone he knows is killed in the mayhem, it’s immediately apparent why he hates Superman.  Jump ahead 18 months and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is doing investigative journalism in the middle-east when things go south quickly and a shoot-out ensues.  Superman arrives and “saves the day”, but is blamed for the deaths after returning to the US.

Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is up to no good, trying to coerce a governor (Holly Hunter) into letting him export a particularly green mineral found in the Indian Ocean, found in a broken piece of one of the World-Changer machines brought by Zod.  After a hearing involving Superman goes horribly wrong, Bruce Wayne privately declares he’s going to war against Superman.

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Ben Affleck is spectacular both as Bruce Wayne and Batman.  This is a Batman we haven’t seen on the big-screen before.  Gone is the oath of not-killing people, and those who aren’t killed are branded with the bat-signal, an almost certain kill sentence in prisons.  Batman hits hard, fights dirty and isn’t afraid to use a gun, or two.  This is an emotionally broken Batman and Affleck successfully conveys that.  Jeremy Irons also nails it as the boozy Alfred, supplying the movie’s comedic relief.

Henry Cavill continues to be this writer’s favorite Superman.  He looks the role and delivers the lines, and carries his burdens, with great weight.  Amy Adams also continues to be great as Lois Lane, questioning why she deserves to be loved by Superman and continuing to prove to be a great investigative-journalist.

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The rest of the cast also do great jobs with their characters, with Jesse Eisenberg being the weakest among a strong ensemble.  He’s not bad as Lex Luthor, but with audiences never seeing Luthor portrayed as he is in the comics, the portrayal feels disappointing.  Martha Kent (Diane Lane) does remain a horribly written character.  Gal Gadot rocks it as Wonder Woman, brandishing the shield, sword, lasso and gaunlets like a pro.  She and Affleck have chemistry, and their banter is fun and sexy in a Bond-movie way.

Lex Luthor created monster, Doomsday, looks like a repurposed cave-troll from Lord of the Rings.  The creature still works though, as he is an energy soaking and intimidating foe that doesn’t seem to have a way to be killed.  The action in such fights, albeit a bit brutal, makes this the most comic-book like of the DC movies.  The in-your-face-symbolism is still there, but there is also a sense of fun that DC-based movies haven’t had in a long time.

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Screen time is well balanced between Clark Kent/ Superman and Bruce Wayne/ Batman, preventing what could have easily been a way overstuffed, unorganized mess.  This is just as much of a Superman movie as it is a Batman movie.  What’s most surprising isn’t that Batman v Superman is successful, but that it stays true to its source material and makes what’s to come in the DC-franchises all that more exciting.

My Grade: B-

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Amy Adams.  It is directed by Zack Snyder and rated PG-13 for: intense scenes of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality.  It is released by Warner Brothers.

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Better Late Review: Deadpool

Better Late Movie Review: Deadpool

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Superhero movies that focus more on the absurd, than the grounded-seriousness of reality, are rare these days.  Along successful R-rated film adaptations of Alan Moore’s grittier “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen” graphic novels, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies also embrace gritty realism over comic-book antics.  Marvel Studios has embraced both the gritty and the absurd, sometimes in the same movies.  Along the lines of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man”, Twentieth Century Fox’s “Deadpool” embraces its absurdity and delivers a movie even the smallest of fans (yours truly included) deserves.

Being a slap-happy, action packed, raunchy, very R-rated romp, Ryan Reynolds fits naturally as the title character.  Reynolds (Deadpool/ Wade Wilson), is at his best as the infamous Merc-with-a-mouth.  His delivery of quips and physical gags impress, but he also embraces the character’s more serious and, subtly, legitimately crazy side.  Reynolds makes the title hero the rightful star of the show.

Plot-wise, the movie is unapologetically standard origin-story/ revenge-tale.  There’s a hooker with a heart of gold turned love interest, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), sketchy best friend, Weasel (T.J. Miller), and British-accented villain, Ajax/ Francis (Ed Skrein).  Where the film excels is in its conservative fourth-wall breaking self-awareness and Deadpool’s overall absurdity.  It actually embraces it’s basic ‘80’s – ‘90’s formula by referencing such things as “Wham!”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and holding a boom-box over your head outside of a window (while listening to Wham!).

Wade Wilson is a once-upon-a-time military elite killing machine, dishonorably discharged and turned mercenary.  He hangs out at a bar with other mercenaries and is ran by his friend, Weasel.  The bar is also where he gets his assignments.  One night Vanessa bumps into his life and Wade’s life seems to be vastly improving.  Then he gets cancer.  A very shady character (Jed Reese) shows up and offers Wade not only a chance to cure his cancer, but to become a hero, which Wade doesn’t particularly want to become.  It ends up the cancer curing place is not what it seems and Ajax tortures Wade Wilson causing him to become very deformed, but turning him into a mutant.  It is set in the X-Men universe after all.

From the opening credits, it’s very obvious the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously.  There are references to such things as the movie’s budget, and to Ryan Reynolds in general.  Be warned, though: if you’re not a fan of Reynolds, or Deadpool, this movie won’t change your mind.  This also isn’t a movie for kids: there is both male and female full-frontal nudity, sex-jokes, drug-jokes, overall silliness, gore, slapstick, flying decapitated heads, gore, f-bombs, old woman jokes, masturbation jokes, gore, and f-bombs.

X-Men and comic fans have a lot to chew on with this movie.  Colossus (CGI character, voiced by Stefan Kapicic) has a small part as a moral compass of sorts, as does lesser-known Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).  There are many Easter eggs to find, speculate about, and be excited about the future of superhero flicks.

The movie’s strongest asset of focusing on Deadpool may also be its weakest.  Weasel is a character that could use a fleshed out story, as is the bad-guy, Ajax/ Francis, who just comes off as a super-powered asshole.  Performance wise, everyone knocks it out of the park.  Even smaller roles, such as Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), Wade’s blind crack-addicted (and Ikea furniture assembling) room-mate, are likable and believable in the context of Wade Wilson’s world.

A huge factor is that Deadpool looks like Deadpool.  This is the most authentic a superhero has looked like their comic book counterpart since Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” movies.  Even the many pants and vest pouches and the little flip-top to Deadpool’s mask are there.  CGI is subtly used to white out Deadpool’s eyes when he’s wearing the mask and to make it more emotive.  Brilliant!  Keep in mind of what you’re getting into with this movie – the full Deadpool experience – and what that implies.

 

My Grade: B

 

Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, and Ed Skrein, is directed by Tim Miller, and, is released by Twentieth Century Fox.  It is rated R for: strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.

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