The Movie Snob checks in.
Justice League (C). Yep, even the presence of the beauteous Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) couldn’t save this piece of cinematic bombast from dull mediocrity. As we recall from the last movie, Superman is dead. This makes everybody sad, which somehow summons up yet another cosmic CGI super-villain bent on global domination. Although said villain has the unlikely name of Steppenwolf, this movie is neither Born to be Wild nor a Magic Carpet Ride. Instead it’s mostly about Batman (Ben Affleck, Gone Girl) looking for new super-recruits like Aquaman (Jason Momoa, TV’s Baywatch) and The Flash (Ezra Miller, City Island) to help him and Wonder Woman beat the bad guy. Lois Lane (Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane, Six Pack) drop in for a few seconds. And the gorgeous ex-Mrs. Johnny Depp, Amber Heard (3 Days to Kill), has maybe a minute of screen time, as some relative of Aquaman I think. Ultimately, of course, there’s a humongous battle that’s about as exciting as watching your little brother play a video game for forty-five minutes. This is a yawner.
The Movie Snob takes on Batman and Superman.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (C). I liked Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot Man of Steel quite a bit, so I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, it was a bit of a letdown. The performances were okay; I didn’t even mind Ben Affleck (Gone Girl) as Batman. But the movie is kind of a long, joyless slog. Snyder filmed it in Gloom-O-Vision—everything is brown and grey, and it’s always overcast or raining or nighttime. As the title indicates (and comic book fans probably all know), the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill, I Capture the Castle) are at odds in this movie, for reasons that didn’t really seem all that compelling to me. It’s no secret that Wonder Woman is also slinking around in the background, in the form of gorgeous Israeli model Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious), but she’s not a huge part of the movie. Amy Adams (her) reprises her role as Lois Lane, but it’s hard to stand out when you’re the only normal person in a team of superheroes. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) makes a pretty unhinged Lex Luthor. I hear Wonder Woman is getting her own movie in 2017. Here’s hoping it’s better than this!
From The Movie Snob. (For Mom Under Cover’s review, click here.)
Gone Girl (B). I’m not quite sure what happened here. I loved the novel this movie was based on. The movie, directed by David Fincher (The Social Network) is well made and faithful to the novel (from what I can remember). The casting and performances were good, or even great. So why didn’t I love the movie? I’m not sure, but I think the tale just seemed more far-fetched up on the big screen. Anyway, I definitely liked the movie, and if you want a knotty little mystery movie you should definitely give it a try. Of course I must avoid spoilers, so I’ll just repeat the minimal factual synopsis all the reviewers are using. Ben Affleck (Argo) and Rosamund Pike (The World’s End) star as Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple who used to be NYC glitterati but who are now downsized schmoes living in Nick’s nowhere hometown of North Carthage, MO. As the movie opens, it is the morning of the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, and Nick discovers that Amy is missing. There are strange, minimal signs of foul play in the house. What happened to her? Did Nick have something to do with it? Suffice to say, secrets will be exposed. Affleck and Pike give fine performances, but even the actors in the smaller roles shine, especially Carrie Coon (TV’s The Leftovers) as Nick’s twin sister and Kim Dickens (Thank You for Smoking) as the skeptical detective Rhonda Boney.
Mom Under Cover checks in. CAUTION: Some might consider the following review to contain spoilers.
Gone Girl (B+)
David Fincher’s (Seven, Fight Club, The Social Network) latest offering, based on Gillian Flynn’s 2012 best seller of the same name, is a dark thriller and a good one at that. (I didn’t read the book, so I don’t know whether the movie strayed from the novel.) The movie opens with Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) stroking his wife Amy’s (Rosamund Pike) head and wanting to crack open her skull…to know what she’s really thinking….and then it picks up with the search for the missing Amy. As the plot unfolds, we learn both partners are liars and cheats and the marriage is nothing like the storybook romance it appears to be. Affleck more than adequately portrays the shallow Nick, but it is Pike (Pride & Prejudice, An Education) whose performance mesmerizes. Perhaps the discipline she uses to turn her natural British accent into the American middle-of-the-country-lack-of-accent fuels her controlled, depraved presence as Amy. Neil Patrick Harris is sublime as the stalker. Oh, and if I had been reading the book instead of watching the movie, the ending might have caused me to throw the book across the room.
A book review from The Movie Snob.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (2012). I think this book rode high on the bestseller lists for much of last year, and now I know why: It is a top-notch suspense novel that is very well written to boot. At the beginning of the book, a small-town Missouri guy named Nick Dunne discovers that his wife Amy is missing. The chapters alternate between Nick’s narration of the events from the time of the disappearance forward and entries from Amy’s diary that tell us a great deal of the couple’s backstory. Nick is not a straightforward narrator, and the reader is soon caught up in trying to figure out what Nick is holding back and whether he may have killed Amy himself. There are some great twists and turns along the way. Highly recommended—but don’t start it late on a school night. It is that hard to put down!
P.S. Imdb.com reports a potential movie version of the book starring Ben Affleck (Argo) and Rosamund Pike (Wrath of the Titans). I think they’d be good for the lead roles….
Mom Under Cover checks in with a new review.
Argo (A). I have only vague recollections of the Iranian Hostage Crisis of the late 1970s; keeping up with foreign affairs wasn’t my top priority in junior high. The details of this operation were de-classified in 1997 by President Clinton–so don’t despair if you have no memory of this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale of CIA agent Mendez (Ben Affleck) extricating 6 U.S. diplomats from the Canadian embassy in Tehran by posing as a Hollywood film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi movie. Director and star Affleck gets the pace just right. Tension mounts appropriately–Argo is an energetic thriller (even if the real story did not end in the Hollywood-esque chase down the tarmac). John Goodman (as make-up artist (Planet of the Apes) and CIA operative John Chambers) and Alan Arkin (a jaded Hollywood producer past his prime) deliver the needed humorous moments of the film–a reminder that Hollywood is Hollywood in 1979 or 2012. The 6 “houseguests” are well-rounded characters. Affleck delightfully under-plays Mendez. You won’t be disappointed!
From the desk of The Movie Snob
The Company Men (B-). Lots of good actors signed up for this movie about three white-collar guys at a big company whose jobs are put at risk by The Great Recession. Ben Affleck (The Town) is the youngest guy, and the first to lose his job. He’s a cocky and successful salesman, so he sustains some serious psychic wounds when the job search doesn’t flip him into a new job right away. Chris Cooper (The Town) is an older guy who worked his way up from the factory floor, and Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), who’s so old and craggy he could play a Cardassian without any assistance from make-up, is a top exec who tries to but can’t stop the waves of lay-offs. The timely story is enough to keep your interest, but the movie as a whole never really gelled for me. Rosemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), a solid and attractive actress I haven’t seen much of, plays Affleck’s wife, and Kevin Costner (Waterworld) has a small part as her very blue-collar brother.
New review from The Movie Snob
The Town (B). The critics have really liked the latest directorial effort from Ben Affleck (Argo), and I have to say I liked it too. Affleck stars as Doug McCray, the leader of a small band of bank robbers from the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) costars as McCray’s trigger-happy right-hand man, James Coughlin. In the opening bank robbery (in which the gang is heavily disguised), Coughlin takes a bank manager named Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) hostage. Although the gang later lets her go unharmed, Keesey also turns out to be from Charlestown, and Coughlin is concerned that she might be able to I.D. them later. McCray refuses to let Coughlin snuff her, and he contrives to meet her so he can try to find out if she saw anything that could identify the robbers. She’s a sweetie, and soon enough McCray is hooked. Meanwhile, hard-as-nails FBI man Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm, TV’s Mad Men) is tightening the net around the gang. Although the movie is not quite believable in spots, I still thought it was a good heist movie, with some better than average car chases, shootouts, and the like.
A new review from The Bleacher Bum
State of Play: Political thrillers are a huge genre with nonfiction books. However, there have not been many political thrillers as movies in recent years. State of Play is a big budget movie that focuses on Capitol Hill, mega-corporations, and the relationship between politicians and the press. The movie is based on the 6-part British television serial of the same name.
Russell Crowe (L.A. Confidential) is a superstar investigative reporter in D.C. working for a newspaper that is in the process of being bought. Ben Affleck (Chasing Amy) is an up-and-coming congressman from Pennsylvania that is chairman of a military spending committee. Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris) works for the newspaper as the on-line gossip columnist. Robin Penn-Wright (The Princess Bride) is Affleck’s wife. Crowe’s, Affleck’s and Penn-Wright’s characters were good friends in college. Helen Mirren (The Queen) is Crowe’s and McAdams’ editor. Mirren gives an award-winning performance as a boss that is being pulled in a thousand directions that wants to do the just thing and get the story right.
The good congressman is having an affair with one of his staffers, until she is murdered. Crowe and McAdams uncover the story and learn that many influential people and companies are involved. The story and dialogue are very good. The director did a very good job. The story covered a lot of angles, but was constantly moving, twisting and turning. Crowe and Penn-Wright were extraordinary in their roles. McAdams and Affleck were good, but they seemed a little outmatched when they shared the screen with Crowe and Penn-Wright.
Bleacher Bum Movie Scale: Homerun, Triple, Double, Single, Strikeout
State of Play: Triple that just beats the throw from right field