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REVIEW – Justice League

November 18, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns
Written by: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
Edited by: David Brenner, Richard Pearson, Martin Walsh
Cinematography by: Fabian Wagner
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Joe Morton, Amber Heard, Billy Crudup
Based on characters from DC Comics
Year: 2017

 

Finally, right? I think I finally understand now why DC/Warner Bros feel as though they have to catch up to Marvel now that Justice League has been released after years and years of development and false starts. It’s been a rocky road for DC, to say the least, and it’s hard to fault people for continually pointing this out. The studio has largely been reticent to move away from their bread and butter of Batman and Superman (and characters closely tied to them, as was the case with Suicide Squad), and even their efforts to set themselves apart from Marvel, tonally, has been met with criticism for emulating the grimdark tone of Christopher Nolan’s exceptional Dark Knight Trilogy films, regardless of whether it was appropriate or not. As a result, general reception of nearly all their films, with the notable exception of this year’s Wonder Woman, have also been decidedly negative to mixed, at best (though I still generally like Man of Steel, despite its obvious flaws). Come to think of it, that can actually be said all of pretty much all of their non-Nolan-helmed films (a pretty damn big exception, mind you) since 1992. But now – finally – everything has come together in Justice League, the film that finally unites worlds in live action, as we’ve all been hoping to see. Was it worth it? Does it make the pain of watching DC limp through all those years of trials and errors feel worth it? Read more…

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REVIEW – Wonder Woman

June 6, 2017 1 comment
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle
Screenplay by: Allan Heinberg
Story by: Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, Jason Fuchs
Edited by: Martin Walsh
Cinematography by: Matthew Jensen
Music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis
Based on DC Comics characters created by William Moulton Marston
Year: 2017

 

Seventy-five and a half years. That’s how long it has taken for Wonder Woman to finally get herself a film of her own. Twelve years. That’s how long it’s been since the release of Elektra, the last major superhero film starring just a major female superhero in the lead role and not as part of a team of predominantly male heroes. Five. That’s the number of films I count from Wikipedia’s list of superhero films since 1920 that have starred solely a female lead: Supergirl (1981), Tank Girl (1995), Barb Wire (1996), Catwoman (2004), and Elektra (2005). It’s six only if you count the TV movie Witchblade (2000), which acted more like an extended pilot episode. While comic books have always had their own struggles with female representation, film adaptations (and even some original works) have always seemingly struggled more, largely because a lot more is riding on them ($$$). For some reason, executives just never really saw these properties as being as marketable (i.e., profitable) as their male counterparts, and it seems as though the aforementioned films have stood as evidence of why that is the case, both in the execs’ eyes and, sadly, in the eyes of many in the general audience. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Suicide Squad

August 11, 2016 3 comments
Suicide SquadDirected by: David Ayer
Produced by: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
Written by: David Ayer
Edited by: John Gilroy
Cinematography by: Roman Vasyanov
Music by: Steven Price
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck
Based on characters from DC Comics
Year: 2016

 

Well, DC, at least you’re making money off this one (so far…?).

Don’t get me wrong – Suicide Squad is nowhere near the overlong, overstuffed disaster that Batman v Superman was. That movie was crammed with events, aggressively downbeat, and was edited to the point of absolutely no breathing room in its theatrical cut. (I still haven’t seen the extended cut.) Suicide Squad, by comparison, is lean, surprisingly fun, and – most importantly – its story is coherent. Why, then, the disappointment? Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

March 26, 2016 6 comments
Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeDirected by: Zack Snyder
Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder
Written by: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Edited by: David Brenner
Cinematography by: Larry Fong
Music by: Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Tao Okamoto, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey
Based on characters from DC Comics
Year: 2015

 

Well, this was pretty much was what everyone was fearing it would be… Read more…

REVIEW: Batman: The Movie

July 30, 2015 1 comment
Batman The MovieDirected by: Leslie H. Martinson
Produced by: William Dozier
Written by: Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
Edited by: Harry Gerstad
Cinematography by: Howard Schwarts
Music by: Nelson Riddle, Neal Hefti (theme)
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp, Madge Blake, Reginald Denny, Milton Frome, Gil Perkins, Dick Crockett, George Sawaya, Van Williams
Based on the DC Comics character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and the TV series created by William Dozier
Year: 1966

 

 

Confession time: Though it is one of my earliest memories of being at a theatrical showing, Batman Returns was not my first exposure to Batman. There was already a lot of love for Batman instilled in me by that point. Part of that was likely due to Tim Burton’s first film, but, honestly, it was far more likely that I was introduced to the Dark Knight in the form of the campy Caped Crusader portrayed in in the 1960s TV series starring Adam West. As a little kid, I didn’t quite understand that the series was essentially a satire of the comics and serials rather than a serious attempt to adapt the character to television. When I was finally exposed to the darker, grittier stuff, I pretty much thought it was silly because it was old, and older stuff was always sillier! Why else would they release all those ridiculous musicals back then that my mom enjoyed so much, right? With age, of course, I did catch on, and after getting over an initial feeling of betrayal that came with the understanding that the show was poking fun at my favorite superhero (and, by association, me), I also came to embrace the series for what it was. Read more…

REVIEW: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

November 14, 2014 Leave a comment
Batman Mask of the PhantasmDirected by: Eric Rodomski, Bruce Timm
Produced by: Alan Burnett, Michael Uslan, Benjamin Melniker, Bruce Timm
Screenplay by: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko, Michael Reaves
Story by: Alan Burnett
Edited by: Al Breitenbach
Music by: Shirley Walker
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Stacy Keach, Abe Vigoda, Mark Hamill, Efram Zimbalist, Jr., Robert Costanzo, Bob Hastings, Dick Miller, John P. Ryan
Based on the DC Comics character created by Bob Kane and Batman: The Animated Series
Year: 1993

 

I would just like to begin this review by pointing out that 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Batman’s creation, and pretty much every Batman movie has been released to Blu-Ray, including the 1960s Adam West feature film based on the camp TV series. The one exception, however, may very well be the most wanted of them all among those who have seen films based on the Caped Crusader: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Along with its sequel, Sub-Zero, these two films, based on arguably the greatest animated superhero series of all time, have yet to see anything beyond a DVD-quality release. Meanwhile, the infinitely inferior Mystery of the Batwoman has been given a release, and, while I’m certainly thankful for it, even the spinoff Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was given its time in the HD spotlight long ago. Wouldn’t now be the perfect time to release a double pack or something, Warner Bros.? Or are you going to wait until the 25th anniversary of this movie to do that? That’s 4 years away, you know… Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 2 comments

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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