Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review

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Spoilers may follow

I saw the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and actually didn’t mind it that much. It was no cinematic masterpiece, and there were plenty of eye-rolling moments and jokes, but it was still an alright, entertaining popcorn movie. The same can be said for this year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows as well.

In fact, I daresay Out of the Shadows is a little better than its predecessor, if only because it revels more in the ridiculousness expected out of something with “Ninja Turtles” in its title. The main villain in this movie is even a giant alien brain monster attached to a robot, the malicious Krang (Brad Garrett). Taking a page from Avengers Assemble, Krang wants to open a portal between Earth and his world and calls upon Shredder (Brian Tee) to collect pieces of a machine that will accomplish this goal. The turtles, Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Raphael (Alan Ritchson), along with April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), have to save the day, as they are expected to do.

We get Shredder’s henchmen from the cartoon, Bebop and Rocksteady (Gary Anthony Williams and WWE’s Sheamus), we get the cartoon’s theme song over the credits, and we get a giant garbage truck that shoots out manhole covers, exactly the sort of toy children would beg their parents for. It’s even more of a big-screen live-action cartoon than The Nice Guys was, with all the depth expected from a Saturday-morning animation (little). The Turtles debate amongst themselves about a concoction that could turn them human, yet don’t expect their characters to be fleshed out much. The jokes are mostly nothing to remember, but that are some that work alright, like when the aforementioned truck gains giant robot arms, then quickly loses them.

It is a dumb film, but one can’t really hate it. The presence of the alien brain monster, and the fact that he even talks, is, once again, a sign that the film is wearing its stupidity on its sleeve, and I would have even liked to see more of Krang than we got. It’s a big, dumb movie, and you’ll likely forget it right after you’ve watched it, but it kept me entertained, and that was all that it was supposed to do.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is not a bad film, yet I can’t really recommend it. If you want something to kill a couple of hours that you don’t really have to think about, it’s good for that and little else.

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Alice Through the Looking Glass Review

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Spoilers may follow

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, during the famous Mad Tea Party scene, the Hatter explains that Time is a person, and is responsible for him being in a never-ending tea party. When the Hatter sung for the Queen of Hearts, he “murdered the time”, so Time punished the Hatter by making it always six o’clock. Disney’s 2016 film Alice Through the Looking Glass is built almost entirely on that small moment, making Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) one of the main characters and the main catalyst for the plot, but that is really the only thing interesting about it.

Don’t let the title fool you. The only thing Alice Through the Looking Glass really has in common with its namesake is a scene near the beginning, where we get an impressive-looking reproduction of the book’s looking-glass living room, complete with smiling clock. There Alicee meets the chessmen, who were integral to the plot of the original book, and Humpty Dumpty, who gave one of the book’s most memorable scenes, and after she leaves the room, the chess pieces and Humpty are never seen or mentioned again. It doesn’t really matter, though, that Alice Through the Looking Glass isn’t a very faithful adaptation, because it isn’t a good film on its own.

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland, where her old friend The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has found the first hat he ever made – which he thinks is a sign that his family, thought killed by the Jabberwock, are still alive. The Hatter falls unwell when Alice doesn’t believe him, so Alice decides to go to the castle of Time and seize a device (which resembles a smaller version of that structure Dr. Manhattan created in Watchmen) that will allow her to travel through time to hopefully save the Hatter’s family.

As Alice goes through the oceans of time (the same ones Gary Oldman’s Dracula travelled through?), she happens upon the origins of her enemy the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). As it turns out, her turn to the dark side begun when her sister stole a tart and blamed her for it, and continues when, as an adult, she throws a wobbly when the Hatter laughs at her big head. The Wicked Witch’s origin in Oz: The Great and Powerful was cloying and badly-done, and it is even more so here. Lewis Carroll making a trial scene based around a nursery rhyme was novel; having the Red Queen begin her path to being a murderous overlord over tarts is eye-rolling.

Still, Carter, along with Cohen, seem to be the only two performances that show any interest. Wasikowska and Depp don’t make their characters all that memorable, and you are unlikely to care about their problems. The whole adventure is to save the Hatter, and yet one never really feels he should be saved, especially if the only way to save him could potentially destroy the universe.

At least the visuals are pretty good, though a downgrade from the previous instalment. The Hatter gets a cute little top hat house to live in, and areas like Time’s castle and the Red Queen’s new lair reminded me of Alice: Madness Returns (as did a very brief scene where Alice was committed to an institution, which ended up pointless in the bigger picture).

So Alice Through the Looking Glass is mediocre even by the low standards set by the original. Some of the visuals look rather nice but you’d be better off just rereading the film’s namesake.

The Nice Guys Review

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I saw this film at an Unlimited screening at Cineworld, hence why it’s a little early. Spoilers may follow.

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a private detective, but since this is a comedy, he’s not a very good or clever one. Nonetheless, he is looking for the missing young woman Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who has some connection with recently-deceased adult film star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio). He isn’t on this case alone, however; aiding him is hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and even his thirteen-year-old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice).

In this case, the trailer doesn’t lie. Right from the very beginning, where a kid pinches his father’s nudie magazines featuring Misty Mountains right before Mountains’ car crashes through the wall, The Nice Guys is pretty much a big live-action cartoon with a 70’s backdrop. Further enforcing this is Gosling acting like a cartoon character, reacting to a corpse the same way Shaggy would react to a ghost, and breaking a window with his fist, only for said fist to bleed.

That is, however, not a bad thing. The jokes come fast in this movie, yet they never get obnoxious or annoying, and neither do the characters delivering them. The dialogue is hilarious and well-written, and Crowe and Gosling complement each other well. Holland may make a fool of himself, but you still like him, and you still want him to succeed. Same goes for Healy, even through the way he gets things done, and even Rice is a delight as Holly.

You’d likely care more about these characters than their case, however, for the story on its own isn’t too much to write home about, and you likely won’t be thinking about it much after leaving the theatre. What makes it worth watching are the endlessly entertaining characters, its action and humour, and how it perfectly captures the spirit of the 70’s as it were, warts and all. Unlike Hardcore Henry, what it has to offer never overstays its welcome.

The Nice Guys is no masterpiece, but it is extremely entertaining and there are worse ways to kill an evening.

A Look Back on Batman Movies

This is an article I wrote back in 2012 for the release of The Dark Knight Rises. I have edited it, and added my thoughts on Rises. Spoilers may follow.

When Batman v Superman was released this year, many were disappointed. A cinematic meeting between two of the greatest heroes in history should have been more spectacular than it was; the final film was riddled with plot holes, a confusing story and an attempt to catch up with Marvel. However, most people did find redeeming qualities to it; many liked Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, though she appeared very little, and they liked Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman. Though him killing criminals was a departure for the character, Affleck’s acting as a darker, nastier Batman was a pleasant surprise. That movie is far from the first time the Dark Knight has graced the silver screen, however. Batman is such a fascinating figure that many have been tempted to tell tales about him and his exploits, as well as those of his varied and colourful rogues’ gallery.

Batman has featured in a multitude of movies, from serials in the 1940s to direct-to-video cartoons, but there have been seven theatrical films that can be called ‘major’: the tie-in to the infamous 60’s series, the quadrilogy that started magnificently only to end with a titter, and the revered Chris Nolan movies. This article will look at each of those movies and give them their own brief review.

Batman: The Movie (1966): The Batman television show of the 1960s, starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, may be seen by many as the type of cartoonish superheroics that modern films should be trying to distance themselves from, but it still plays a significant role in Batman’s history. It kept comic sales alive due to its popularity, and still manages to be a delight to watch even today, if only because it is a hilarious contrast to the modern-day, darker Batman movies.

Comic books today are in some ways as ridiculous as they were yesteryear; there are still talking monkeys and space aliens and a man in blue pyjamas who can fly and shoot eye-lasers. The Brave and the Bold cartoon prided itself on exploring and celebrating the hilariously surreal world of the funny pages, but the Batman TV show and the subsequent movie did so first (even though it was apparently campy because the man behind it hated comics). One of its prominent traits is common to nearly every Batman adaptation: the villains are more worthy of screentime than Batman himself.

To a child playing with his action figures, the ultimate battle for any hero would be if a selection of villains teamed up to take over the world. Batman the Movie utilised this line of thought, as the main draw to that movie was to see the series’ biggest four villains joining forces: Joker (Cesar Romero), Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and Catwoman (Lee Meriweather, substituting for Julie Newmar). Their plan in the movie is to seize a ray that can dehydrate people into dust and use it on the United Nations. They are equipped with other interesting devices such as flying umbrellas and a penguin-shaped submarine. Along the way, they even manage to have some amusing interactions with each other (‘We’re about as united as the United World Organisation!’)

As with all good comic book villains, the fearsome foursome steal the show, but the real main draw to the movie is seeing West and Ward’s reactions to the situation. These days, Batman may be regarded as a serious detective, but the way the dynamic duo deduce the perpetrators of the plot (‘They were at sea! C for Catwoman!) is hysterical. The centrepiece of the entire movie is the iconic moment where Batman attempts to dispose of a spherical bomb.

There is no deeper meanings to the 60s Batman movie. It plays out like an extended episode of the series, onomatopoeia fights and all. Yet it remains a very guilty pleasure.

Batman (1989): When the 1960s TV series was cancelled, the Batman comics began to tell darker stories. However, while DC published stories like The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge and The Killing Joke, the general public still had some trouble shaking the image of Adam West’s Batman. In 1989, however, a new take on the caped crusader emerged, re-imagining Batman as a dark, tormented figure for pop culture consumption.

Batman was directed by Tim Burton and starred Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, with the latter taking top billing over the former. Gone was the sunny, optimistic Gotham of the TV series, replaced with an amalgamation of architectural styles blended together in a nightmarishly claustrophobic city. Like most Burton movies, Batman succeeds mainly at being a visual feast, with the Joker’s flamboyant costume striking against the murky backdrops and the criminal underworld existing in what looks like an urban Tartarus.

There may have been some trepidation regarding Keaton’s casting as Batman, but though his performance as Bruce Wayne is lacking, he makes a fine Batman indeed. He truly comes off as an antihero consumed by his inner demons, though at times it seems he is rather too good in that department. This is a more ruthless Batman, killing people left and right, ultimately resulting in the demise of the Joker and not even playing nicely with the police.

Jack Nicholson may simultaneously be the best and the worst thing about the movie. His Joker costume, with its plaid trousers and smart blazer is marvellously appropriate for his character, and he is a lot of fun to watch, but one can never shake the feeling that it is just Jack playing himself. There are too many scenes where he is sans his clown-white skin, all to show off Nicholson’s face, and there is little to distinguish the Joker from someone like Randall McMurphy. He is a character who demands attention, but takes too much of it away from Keaton’s Batman, who seems a more interesting character.

Despite some minor quibbles, Batman is still successful in what it set out to do, and because of its success, it spawned three sequels of varying quality.

Batman Returns (1992): Batman Returns is probably the strongest of the quadrilogy, despite the fact that it feels more like a Burton movie than a Batman movie. The themes of being an outcast and the cruelty of the world are carried from Edward Scissorhands, as is the tone of the music and the sets. In fact, it might be because it feels like a Burton movie that Returns is the strongest; one can tell he was having more fun with it than he was with its predecessor.

While 1989’s Joker was Nicholson through and through, one can watch Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny Devito and actually feel like they’re watching Catwoman and the Penguin, albeit slightly different from the comic characters. In previous Batman stories, the Penguin was a sophisticated criminal genius, but here, he is a sewer-dwelling monstrosity, wishing revenge upon the world that abandoned him. DeVito does a commendable job at playing a more tragic villain, though this type of character would be done better in The Dark Knight with Two-Face. Sadly sometimes DeVito lapses into cartoonish super-villainy. The silly plot devices of the 60’s weren’t completely dead, if the missile-toting penguins were any indication.

Michelle Pfeiffer was the film’s strongest point, and may have even turned in the strongest performance of all four films in the franchise. Her Catwoman was demented and broken, but still oozes a sultrily sinister personality. The first film may have been pitted a dark soul against a cheerful lunatic, but the hero and his villains here are all tormented in their own way, their pain cemented through Elfman’s sullen tunes, more beautiful than his work for the previous movie.

The Batman in Batman Returns is even more dangerous and fearsome than he was in Batman, continuing his murderous rampage against criminals. In fact, he even straps a bomb to a goon and smiles maliciously about it. This could potentially turn off new viewers expecting a more heroic Batman, but Keaton continues his marvellous work with the character, especially when acting against Pfeiffer.

Batman Forever (1995): Batman Returns was not for everybody, however, so the third film had to take on a lighter tone. Not only that, but Burton and Keaton left the series, leaving Joel Schumacher as the new director and Val Kilmer as the new Batman.

Batman Forever feels like a film full of missed opportunities. It features the big-screen debut of Two-Face, one of Batman’s more complex and sympathetic foes, who is turned into a second-rate copy of the Joker with a coin gimmick. Tommy Lee Jones could have realised the character well, but the writing reduces him to a giggling, dancing imbecile. The film tells the origin of Batman’s famous sidekick Robin, and was supposed to delve more into Batman’s psychology than the previous two movies, but sadly, this too was botched up. Chris O’Donnell’s Robin was in his twenties, meaning the traditional father-son dynamic between Batman and Robin felt strange, and many of the scenes expanding on Batman ended up on the cutting room floor.

It did not help that Kilmer’s Batman and Bruce Wayne felt rather flat and lifeless, as did O’Donnell’s Robin. The only performance that’s really entertaining is Jim Carrey as the Riddler; like Nicholson’s Joker, he is more like his actor than his comic-book inspiration but still a joy to view. Nowhere near as good a Riddler as Frank Gorshin in 1966, but still enjoyable.

The less said about Batman and Robin, the better.

Batman Begins (2005): It took eight years for a new Batman film to grace the screens, but Batman Begins was truly something special. It showed a new step in the evolution of live-action Batman, as the series now promised to be more realistic and introspective. The movie was in more-than-able hands: Chris Nolan, a master of the psychological thriller, was director, and Christian Bale, who had previously played the main roles of The Machinist and American Psycho with fantastic vigour, was in the role of Batman. Even the mere inclusion of Michael Caine (Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred) and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox, who invents Batman’s gadgets) signified a new prestige in the series.

Batman Begins was the first Batman movie where Batman truly was the main character (unless one counts the theatrically-released animated movie Mask of the Phantasm), and what a Batman this is. As opposed to Michael Keaton, Bale is better as Bruce Wayne than he is as Batman. His Batman has a voice that has been ridiculed to kingdom come, but his Bruce Wayne, when pretending to be a lazy good-for-nothing millionaire, is actually convincing and his private, reflective brooding is similarly genuine.

Another thing Batman Begins has that its forbears lacked is a strong supporting cast. The late Michael Gough was a brilliant Alfred for all four of the original movies (even appearing in a radio play based on the Knightfall comic) but Michael Caine is the perfect father figure to Bruce – constantly keeping his inner demons in check. Commissioner Gordon is usually an overlooked character in Batman adaptations, but as played by Gary Oldman, he is given a character arc of his own, and feels a true friend to Batman.

Even a character as underutilized by Batman stories as Lucius Fox is given a chance to shine, as Morgan Freeman brings forth his trademark warmth and manages to get in some amusing lines. Sadly, the supporting cast do bring flaws of their own; the likes of Alfred and Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) deliver speeches that spell out the themes of the movie rather than let the audience figure it out for themselves, and some offer some groan-worthy comic relief (‘I’ve gotta get me one of those’, says Gordon about the Batmobile). It is the interactions between Batman and his friends that keep the movie interesting.

The villains of this piece are the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson). They are villains from the comics, but not well-known to the general public. Their obscurity shows how far the Batman franchise has come; they are there not to tickle the fancy of nerds, but because they best serve the story. Batman Begins is about Batman trying to strike fear into the criminal mind, so what a fitting counterpart the Scarecrow makes. Ra’s Al Ghul is there to challenge Batman’s ideals and save Gotham in his own way. Neither villain is characterised deeply, but they don’t need to be.

The Dark Knight (2008): The golden rule of the 60s TV series – the villain is more interesting than Batman – struck back when The Dark Knight came around. The focus swerved away from Bale’s Batman and towards the Joker as portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, and Two-Face as portrayed by Aaron Eckhart. Indeed, The Dark Knight is said to also refer to Harvey Dent, Gotham’s ‘White Knight’ fallen from grace.

Jack Nicholson’s Joker was just Nicholson being himself; there was nothing about him, except for maybe him killing the Waynes, that convinced anyone that he was the greatest villain Batman had ever faced. DeVito’s Penguin was a lot more sinister. Ledger’s Joker, however, is something unique.

Not only does he earn his position as Batman’s most terrifying foe by his nihilistic philosophy and apathy towards murder, it is hard to believe that he is even human. He is Satan given makeup-smeared flesh, tempting the once-noble Harvey Dent into a life of madness and trying to warp Batman’s mind through a twisted admiration. He pays homage to the Jokers of old – he has the multiple-past device of The Killing Joke, the calling card of the Joker’s first appearance – but Ledger and Nolan have made their Joker their own.

The other villain, Two-Face, is played with similar vigour by Aaron Eckhart. In his first moments, Eckhart succeeds at creating nobility that contrasts with his fate, but doesn’t forget to give the character a dark side even if he does descend into melodrama (‘You can’t give in!’)

Batman and the rest of the supporting cast is as strong as ever, even if they still have the tendency to launch into speeches about the general themes of the films, but at least those speeches are well-delivered. Christian Bale’s Batman is now as fascinating to watch as his Bruce Wayne, especially in his moments of frustration and anguish at what the Joker has done. One stand-out performance in particular is Gary Oldman’s Gordon, as he makes the character even more three-dimensional and likeable than he probably has ever been before. Once more, he makes the ending worth watching.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012): The Dark Knight was a tough act to follow, but while The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t as good as its predecessor, it was still a solid conclusion to Chris Nolan’s trilogy.

Bale, Oldman and the other heroes were still on top form, and the newcomers – Tom Hardy as Bane and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman – were equally impressive. Bane had some similarities to the Joker – he does try to bring anarchy to the city – yet never came off as a poor man’s version of the character. Tom Hardy gives the character a powerful, regal air, striding proudly towards his foe. Anne Hathaway is a welcome addition as well, creating a playful and enjoyable character.

It is a shame then, that the plot revolves around a ticking time-bomb capable of destroying the entire city. More or less every reviewer made a joke about how “some days you can’t get rid of a bomb”, and truly, it does feel too much of a cartoon for a series of this calibre. The film still does boast some fine action and great performances, it just feels there is something missing.

This wasn’t the end of Batman on film, for not only have we had Batman v Superman, Batman is set to appear in the upcoming Suicide Squad film and that same Batman will even be having his own solo film in the future.

Captain America: Civil War Review

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Spoilers (for this film and Dawn of Justice) follow

Due to the destruction and collateral damage caused on their missions, especially that accidentally caused by the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in Nigeria, superhero team The Avengers are told they are to be put under government supervision. Captain America (Chris Evans), wishing to be freer in the team’s crimefighting, opposes this notion, while Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), guilty at the deaths caused, supports it, and the Avengers are split into two camps against each other. Later, Captain America sees that a bombing is being pinned on his old friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and goes to find him.

Being a film that features many of a certain comic company’s flagship heroes, and has two of those heroes against each other, an obvious comparison to make to Civil War would be to last month’s Batman v Superman. Both films have a lot of characters to juggle, but in the case of Civil War, they’ve at least had more time to develop and build up these characters. While Dawn of Justice felt like it needed to have another movie before it, the two main opposing heroes of Civil War have been properly developed and their reasons for their alliances is understandable. Superman died too soon in the DC Cinematic Universe, while Civil War‘s story feels like it was released at the right time.

The film has Captain America in the title, and he is the main character, but nearly all of the Avengers get a chance to shine. One particular stand-out is the newcomer Spider-man (Tom Holland), who may not appear that often, but is so humourously geeky that you just want to see more of him. The characters on both sides are well-written and entertaining to watch, and you care about what happens to our titular Captain, as opposed to the rather bland Superman of Dawn of Justice.

Civil War may deal with the consequences of the Avengers’ rather violent actions, but that doesn’t mean the film is afraid to indulge in a little action from time to time, and the action scenes it offers is extremely well-done. The airport fight is every bit as exciting as one might have heard it is, mixing fast-paced battles, lovable characters and hilarious comic relief into a glorious unified whole. Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man, and his role at the airport more than justifies his reappearance.

But what is really justified here is the existence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Dawn of Justice showed us videos of Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, it felt like a discordant attempt to “catch up” with Marvel, and we all rolled our eyes when we heard news of a “Hanna Barbera cinematic universe”. This cinematic universe, however, gives us some interesting storylines, more than just “good guy beats up bad guy”, and some entertaining characters who play well off each other. It’s a universe that, despite the death and destruction, is a nice place to visit from time to time.

Captain America: Civil War is probably one of Marvel’s best, bringing fine drama, action and humour, reminding us why it’s a good thing this universe is being kept alive.

Hardcore Henry Review

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A title like Hardcore Henry could go either way; it could either be a fun, self-aware action romp or something trying too hard to be a fun, self-aware action romp. And then there is the fact that the entire film is shot in the first person. When the eponymous character awakes to see his “we can rebuild him” robotic transformation, the audience sees it through his eyes. It sounds like a gimmick that could work for a short film or a single episode of a TV series, but not enough to carry a 90 minute movie. It sounds akin to the novel written in the second person How Not to Write A Novel described; it sounds interesting at first, but quickly loses its novelty.

Actually, a more fitting analogy for Hardcore Henry is that it’s pretty much a big-screen video game. The first-person character runs down corridors, escapes explosions and mows down several nameless mooks. Sadly, at times, it feels too much and too little like a video game at the same time; you’re either bemoaning the lack of plot and character or wishing you had a controller and for the cutscenes to end. First-person works for video games because it complements the fact that the main character is being controlled by the player, but no such control exists for Hardcore Henry.

That is not to say that the film isn’t entertaining. In fact, a few of the scenes are made better through the first-person perspective, including a rather surreal song-and-dance number. It really does feel like the people behind this movie had fun making it, and there are plenty of fast-paced action and chase sequences and some well-done comic relief to momentarily stop the film and its gimmick from getting too creaky.

Hardcore Henry will work best for those who really just in the mood for some fast-paced action and nothing more, as the story and characterisation in the film are lacking. The closest thing to a leading lady is Estelle (Haley Bennett), who fixes up Henry in the beginning. She feels too generic, even when a twist about her arises, and so does the villain, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky). The most entertaining character is Henry’s aid Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who is actually several different characters in a sense. Henry is a cyborg, and Akan’s plan is to build an army of them, yet it never feels like these cyborgs are adequately explored. It’s unlikely one would watch a film called Hardcore Henry for a deep plot, but still.

Hardcore Henry is what its title promised along with a gimmick that works most of the time, but little more. It’s diverting and entertaining enough, but hardly something you’ll remember.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

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Spoilers follow

Batman v Superman is a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel, where the destruction of Metropolis has lead Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) to be distrustful of Superman (Henry Cavill). Likewise, Superman is weary about how Gotham City’s Batman dispenses justice. Also not too fond of Superman is Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who plans to kill the boy in blue, either through Batman, or his monstrous creation Doomsday.

I actually enjoyed Batman v Superman more than I thought I would, yet there was still the sense that something was missing. There wasn’t anything to make it really memorable. Even Batman and Robin is hard to forget with Arnie’s Freeze and the hilariously bad dialogue. There wasn’t anything that made Batman v Superman stand out other than the mishmash of several DC heroes, and even that lost its novelty before the film even came out, really.

Still, Affleck, I thought, made a good Batman. I didn’t really mind the way the way he was portrayed here; I mean, Keaton’s Batman broke the “one rule” but I overlooked it due to his entertaining performance. Same goes to Affleck here. One of the best things about Batman is how flexible he is, which makes him similar to so many great characters (the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland has been portrayed as a hero and a villain, Count Dracula can either be the embodiment of evil or a comic children’s cartoon) and Affleck was a great choice for this rendition of Batman.

Lex, however, I don’t really think is as flexible a character as Batman. What I mean is, I thought Jesse Eisenberg’s performance was good, but I was disappointed they didn’t go with the more serious Lex of the comics. Like, if he played another character, it wouldn’t feel so jarring. If he acted like that, but played Toyman instead of Lex, then it would have been more fitting. And yes, I know the story that he was originally supposed to play Jimmy Olsen. He does become bald in this film, but sadly they don’t use the story from the comics where he used to be Superman’s friend until he lost his hair in a lab accident and blamed Superman for it. I kid, but at least then he would have a reason to hate Superman, which he doesn’t really seem to have here.

Like many people, I liked Wonder Woman, especially her theme tune, and would have liked to see more of her. Really, her purpose here is to make you want to see more of her, so there’s an area where the film succeeds. Another thing I agree with is that they seem to be trying to do too much in one film. Batman fighting Superman is enough to put people in seats, but here’s Wonder Woman! Flash and Aquaman and Cyborg! And of course, Superman (I said there would be spoilers) dying due to Doomsday is just overkill.

It really does feel like there should have been another movie between this and Man of Steel. Superman died before we really got to know him, before he had an actual confrontation with Lex or faced Brainiac or something. I know Superman comes back, but adapting Death of Superman is something that should have been saved for this Superman’s third or fourth movie. The Dark Knight movies at least waited until the last movie to do something semi-similar with their Batman, and we got to know Nolan Batman more through his first two movies than we did DCEU Superman.

There’s another common complaint about this film; it’s trying too hard to be like The Dark Knight. I could definitely see where they’re coming from there, and it’s all the more jarring when it’s dealing with a more fantastical world than The Dark Knight. In fact, I think the Tim Burton Batman movies did a better job of mixing a dark world with comic book fantasy. Batman had Nicholson’s entertaining Joker living in one of the most lugubrious-looking versions of Gotham City without feeling too out of place, and the Penguin’s death in Batman Returns is one of the few times a scene was successfully silly and poignant at the same time. BvS, on the other hand, calls out for more levity.

BvS is lacking, but it isn’t a complete waste of time. Affleck and Gadot themselves are worth the price of admission. It’s entertaining enough, but still quite forgettable, and has nothing earlier Batman movies haven’t done better, really.