Justice League

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.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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!

Man of Steel — a second opinion

The Movie Snob chimes in.

Man of Steel  (B+).  I agree with much of what The Borg Queen had to say about this movie (click here for her review), but I think her B- grade was a tad too low.  I was thoroughly entertained throughout this long (almost 2 1/2 hours) origin story about Superman.  Henry Cavill (I Capture the Castle) makes a fine Kal-El/Clark Kent, and I thought Kevin Costner (The Company Men) and Russell Crowe (Les Miserables) turned in nice performances as his adoptive and biological father, respectively.  The Borg Queen is perfectly correct that Amy Adams (Trouble With the Curve) was miscast as Lois Lane–hard-boiled reporter is just not in her range–but she’s such a peach I was willing to overlook that mistake.  The rock-em-sock-em ending was perhaps a little too long, but General Zod (Michael Shannon, Mud) was a very good villain.  In my humble opinion, this is a very good popcorn movie.  Hats off to director Zack Snyder (300) for breathing new life into the blue tights and red cape.

Man of Steel

The Borg Queen transmits a new movie review.

Man of Steel  (B-).  I was reluctant to see this film.  I’ve seen all of the Superman movies and did not really want to see the same story yet again.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Although many of the key aspects of the Superman story are in this film, the story is changed significantly.  You can go see this film without knowing exactly how everything is going to play out or what is going to happen next.   Although Amy Adams (Enchanted) is not exactly what I have in mind for Lois Lane (and still don’t), I really enjoyed Henry Cavill (TV’s The Tudors) as Superman.  I thought he did a fantastic job and look forward to see him in future films.  The move is long (2 hours, 23 minutes) but it keeps moving generally (though there are a couple of lulls).  The special effects are also generally very good, although there are a few moments (though brief) where the animation was almost comical.  Overall, this movie is certainly worth the price of admission, but I doubt seeing it in 3D adds much.


Comic Book Guy lends us his expertise

Watchmen – a Review (with apologies to Elizabeth Browning)

How do I love Watchmen? Let me count the ways.
I love the depth and breadth and height of its special effects
The epic scope of its story,
of the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love the level of detail in every scene
I love its heroes as men who (could) strive for right.
I love its ambiguity, as society passes into night.
I love it with the passion of a fanboy
who sees its greatness brought to life.
I love it despite its running time.
I love it because it is all things great,
a super hero movie you should not hate.

Watchmen is another graphic novel brought to the big screen. It’s an epic superhero tale set in an alternate 1980’s America. Costumed heroes exist and were outlawed as vigilantes. Nixon is on his 5th term, the cold war is ongoing and the US seems to be ahead only because of Dr. Manhattan, a “hero” with god-like powers bestowed on him as the result of a freak nuclear accident. The narrative line revolves around a murder mystery – someone is knocking off heroes. It quickly evolves into something much more and ends with (spoiler alert) a big bang. Several of them, in fact.

Having read the original when it was released as a comic in the late 80’s, I’m hardly an objective source and I should probably recuse myself on this one (see poem, above). But this is a beautiful movie to watch. Gorgeously rendered and choreographed. The same guy who brought you 300 (another awesome movie) did Watchmen up right. It’s a big, dense, long movie. It’s not traditional superhero fare – we seem to think of costumed heroes being about truth & justice and moral superiority. Alan Moore, the original writer, has turned this paradigm on its head. Moore long since left the project (which has gone through multiple unsuccessful efforts to bring it to the big screen) and there have been wholesale omissions and plot rewrites but the story remains true to the spirit of original graphic novel.

Unfortunately, there are some problems. In a post 9/11 world, the whole superpower/cold war/doomsday clock thing seems quaint We’ve seen the horror of our new world and nuclear annihilation doesn’t punch our buttons like it used to. The world is a much different place today and I think the story has lost some of some of its original punch. Many of the cultural references may be lost on the under 25 crowd and may seem too Forrest Gump-like for the over 25 crowd. The acting is well, acting. It’s secondary to the story and SFX. And yeah, it clocks in at a bloated 2 hours and forty-plus minutes (although I didn’t mind – I thought the pacing was fine).

For those of you who read the graphic novel – you’ll love it. For those of you who haven’t… well, if you like science fiction/alternate reality – go see it. It’s greatness. For those of you who think superhero movies are for kids – you’re wrong on this one. Go see it anyways. Plus you’ll get to see the really cool trailers for Star Trek, Terminator and X-Men Origins. I can hardly wait for the summer movie fare to arrive.

I give it an “A” for awesome.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Dawn of the Dead (B). This is the 2004 version, not the famous 1978 original (which I have never seen). I am not a fan of horror films, so I’m not sure why I picked it up out of the bargain bin at Walmart and bought the thing. Today the ice storm shut Dallas down, so I made wise use of my time by watching this movie. It adheres to what I understand to be the conventions of zombie movies: zombies roam the streets in search of living flesh to eat, and whoever gets bitten by a zombie sooner or later turns into a zombie. In this movie, the wave of zombification seems to swamp the world in a hurry. A nurse (Sarah Polley, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), a cop (Ving Rhames, Entrapment), and several others elude the zombies long enough to barricade themselves into a mall. There they await rescue, make contact with another survivor who’s holed up in a gun shop across the way, and endure various setbacks and zombie incursions. I can’t compare it to the original, but I thought this movie was pretty good for what it was–lots of gruesomeness and gore, and some decent characters to root for as they try fend off the undead horde. By the way, you have to watch past the ending credits if you want to know the whole story…  Directed by Zack Snyder, who would go on to direct 300 and Man of Steel.


Movie review from Nick at Nite.

300. Wow. A visually stunning masterpiece. Saw this last night at the dollar movie. Tuesday is fifty cent night. It is like they are paying you to go to the movie, which almost makes up for the three troublemakers that talked throughout the movie in the row behind me. Very impressive on the big screen. Battle carnage is just not the same on the small television in your house. 300, based on a comic book, tells the story of 300 Spartans who defended Sparta and Greece from the evil Persian empire. It is a very violent, sometimes cheesy, and always over-the-top film. It is not kid friendly. Some nudity, a rape, and tons of killing. It is also painfully clear from the portrayal of the valiant Spartans and the roguish, marauding Persians, why many in the Middle East are irate with the film. I give 300 an “A.”

300: A Second Opinion

From The Movie Snob

300 (B). Okay, I am no Comic Book Guy, so I did not go into this movie with any preconceived notions or particularly high expectations. Under those conditions, I enjoyed it. I found it hokey from start to finish, with the geysers of blood and the severed heads and hacked limbs cited by CBG in his review. The scene in the decadent throne room of the Persian king was a hoot. But even though I laughed at some parts that were probably not intended to be funny, it was also a good old tale of good vs. evil, freedom vs. tyranny, courage vs. cowardice. No big-name stars, but one of the leading Spartan warriors (David Wenham) played Faramir in two of the Lord of the Rings movies, and the guy who plays the unctuous Spartan politician (Dominic West) was in Chicago. A fun movie, as long as cartoonish carnage doesn’t bore you or gross you out.


New review from CBG


As a former comic book store manager, I love all things comic related. Except maybe Ghost Rider. Oh, and Daredevil, and could Elektra suck any more? Anyways – 300 is based on a graphic novel (that’s a big splashy comic book for those of you who haven’t seen a comic book since you were a kid) by Frank Miller, who was also responsible for Sin City. And since I love all things comic, I must love this movie, too. And I do. It tells the story of 300 Spartans, led by King Leonidas, who stand against the massive Persian army at the battle of Thermopylae. This movie has all the elements that make for great film. Action. Violence. Special Effects. Sex. What more do you need? And since we’re on those subjects, let me briefly discuss each.

Action: The movie is pretty much nonstop. Clocking in at 1 hour 57 minutes, it moves at a pretty swift pace and there’s enough going on that even when it’s slow (exposition, character development, etc.) it moves pretty quickly. You won’t be glancing at your watch as your eyes will be glued to the big screen and all that…

Violence: If you’ve seen the comic, this movie is practically a verbatim translation of the comic’s graphic images to the big screen. And this movie is graphic. Hacked limbs. Severed heads. The bodies pile up (literally). The tag line “Prepare for Glory” might as well be “Prepare for Gory.” The combat sequences are unbelievable and will keep your interest, especially because of the…

Special Effects: I’ve got to believe every shot is an effects shot. The computer graphics enhance every single frame of the film which help it capture the look and feel of the original material. It is a cornucopia of visual artistry. Yes, it’s over the top but isn’t that what you go to the movies for? Certainly, it’s not for the…

Sex: there’s only a few minutes devoted to love and lust but the whole film is steeped in homo-erotic machismo. I mean, you’ve got a bunch of super buff guys hanging around in bikini bottoms and capes. Need I say more? Oh, and wait till you catch a glimpse of Xerses, the Persian King.

So all in all, an awesome movie. But as I left the theatre, I started to wonder. This film glorifies war and violence. It pits western values (yeah, the Spartans were all about democracy and freedom – right) against the inhuman barbarian hordes of Persia (I think it’s called Iran now) in a struggle for survival. Is this some piece of right wing propaganda designed to get me fired up? Is Big Brother watching me? Wait a second…. what am I talking about? This is just a movie. And what a movie it is. Go check it out. It won’t be the same on DVD.