Justice League – Review

“You can’t save the world alone.” Great tagline. You might not be able to save the world alone, but you can destroy the universe (in this case, the DC Extended) by not having a singular vision.

DC’s problem with this shared movie experiment has been having the confidence to stick to its guns. Batman v Superman wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Fine, that’s what makes the world go ‘round – differences.

Marvel has its successful onscreen identify, DC used to have one too.

Justice League begins with the promise that Zack Snyder has mastered the darker but deeper roots of his characters. The Batman scenes work especially well and when the team are finally assembled there’s a Watchmen feel, which is no bad thing.

But there’s no getting away from the cut-and-shut feel of having two directors helm the movie. It’d be unfair to assume Joss Whedon tried to shoehorn his Avengers style on a near-finished product. The meddling obviously came from the studio.

We’re left with an opening that retains the best parts of Dawn of Justice, with the new members adding the correct amount of light. Ezra Miller’s Flash being the standout find. His humour is always on point, his quirkiness the balance the squad needs. Wonder Woman has been the world’s favourite new hero this year – Flash is the best.

It all starts well, from recruiting a reluctant Cyborg (Ray Fisher has his work cut out bringing this character to life), to the grisly and instantly at ease Aquaman. His backstory is teased in preparation for the solo movie and Jason Momoa looks more than capable of carrying that flick.

Gal Gadot is excellent again and acts as the light to Batman’s darkness (a role usually reserved for Superman). She’s the heart in what becomes a big soulless action mess.

The plot is Wonder Woman in style. We’re dealing with hidden boxes of godlike power that are being targeted by intergalactic CGI-baddie Steppenwolf. It’s pretty weak and lacking depth for a DC movie, and the CGI is terrible, but it’s okay. It’s all okay, until…

Superman returns. This is when a great movie with seeds planted in Batman v Superman (remember that Bruce Wayne/Flash “dream” sequence where he saw the world run by an evil Superman?) absolutely bottles it.

A hint of the Superman befitting with the plot is quickly discarded, the rewrites harder to hide than the poor CGI.

Cinematographer Fabian Wagner has admitted he even filmed shots with Henry Cavill in the famous black Supes outfit. It should have been a different return to the blue suit than a quick tantrum and a creepy scene with Lois Lane in a field.

If Superman was unlikable compared to Ben Affleck’s Batman in the previous meeting, he’s a complete turnoff now. The movie sinks the second he appears.

After a good build, fans are left with a sham of a movie. Neither taking the best of the previous instalments or becoming a copy of its rival.

This should have been a part one of two and was silently cut down to one movie. At this rate, Warner Bros. will call time on the whole botched affair and return to making successful and critically acclaimed stand-alone movies.

That’s if there’s any justice in the world.

5/10

Advertisements

The Mummy (2017) – Review

If we gave awards out for trailers, Logan would win an Oscar, The Mummy wouldn’t even get a Golden Raspberry. Those responsible would be on criminal charges. The misrepresentation has doomed the franchise launch of Universal’s Dark Universe before it had chance to gain traction.

As we’ve said before here, these days you need a shared universe. You’ll be forgiven for missing the fact that The Mummy is a way to bring the classic monsters of the golden age of cinema back to life. Had this been pressed in the build-up to the release, people wouldn’t have written this movie off as Tom Cruise trying to reboot an average Brendan Fraser flick.

It couldn’t be further removed from 1999’s The Mummy. And there’s no danger of the next Dwayne Johnson pitching up in a sequel as the Scorpion King.

Before writing this review, a consideration was given as to mention the “reveals.” Failure to talk candidly would make Simms View as guilty as the poor marketing team. So, no secrets to be held back. Like: Russell Crowe is in the movie playing Dr Jekyll and – yes! –  Mr Hyde.

Full props to Universal, too. In this age of everything needing to be bigger to the point of ridiculous, and CGI’d to within an inch of its life (but beyond all credibility), his Hyde is how the character initially was conceived. Strong but still a man. Not some beast or monster.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We get to Dr Jekyll ­– who happens to running a modern-day London facility that captures, contains and studies the paranormal, bizarre creations and the facts within ancient mythology – by way of his assistant.

She is tracking Tom Cruise, known as Nick Morton, an American soldier in Iraq. On the side he is looking for buried treasures to capture in the war torn country and sell on the black market. He has a trusty sidekick, Jake Johnson’s Corporal Chris Vail.

Together they happen across a buried pyramid, we already know to be the tomb of Princess Ahmanet, who killed her own father and attempted to bring the spirit of Death alive in human form. A living god was her idea.

Thousands of miles away from Egypt, disposed of in Persia, the idea was to keep her buried. Instead Jekyll’s assistant Jenny Halsey – annoyed that Cruise seduced her and then stole the map to the location – decrees the mummy of the hidden princess is be brought home to London.

Cue massive plane crash, one that kills Morton but he somehow finds himself alive afterwards. As for the Princesses, her body goes missing . . . then walkabout.

Morton is conflicted about his perceived role. He has become the Princess’s new chosen one but this means he’ll be killed during a ritual. After which, he’ll have powers of a deity but be something else altogether – potentially the thing that ends mankind.

There are obvious jokes to make here how Tom Cruise started a franchise to reaffirm his position as a box office god. As if being an actual one within Scientology wasn’t enough.

He holds the movie together though, and deserves to head the new Dark Universe.

Universal have managed to tap into the spirit of the classic monster movies and still modernise them. There is a casual humour throughout and some people in the cinema even jumped in parts. It ticked all the boxes set out before it.

Bad press, which led to less word-of-mouth, has doomed The Mummy at the box office but it should, over time, garner enough praise and interest to keep the larger concept of the Dark Universe alive.

Worth checking out…

7/10

47 Metres Down – Review

Bit of confusion to clear up with this title’s title before we begin. Being English, it’s Metres, other territories have named it 47 Meters Down, and some of you purchased leaked DVDs with the title In the Deep. Maybe that name was dropped to avoid puns about the movie being shallow?

They needn’t have worried on that score. Okay, it’s played pretty simple on the emotional stakes – cheesy, even. But it’s a movie that wants to rely on the visual treats rather than build a character study with sharks in the background.

Jaws did that decades ago and it’ll never be surpassed.

Obligatory mention of Spielberg’s classic, because this is a killer shark movie, taken care of, let us take a look at Johannes Roberts’ attempt at a claustrophobic thriller.

It’s been billed as a horror but it really isn’t. Sure, there’s blood and some gore but the threat of not surviving is more psychological than monster lurking in the darkness chills.

The story centres (centers) around two sisters, Lisa and Kate. Lisa, played by Mandy Moore, is the dark-haired conservative type. They’re holidaying (vacation) in Mexico, Lisa is hiding a recent break up but finally confides in Kate.

Believing she was dumped for being boring, adventurous younger sis convinces her to kiss some Mexican boys and go cage diving with sharks. Like you do. Kate is played here by Claire Holt, proving to Maggie Grace that her younger self has been replaced.

Hopefully, Holt will go on to make more than a fleeting appearance in this generation’s Lost and Taken.

Obviously, the cage snaps with the two girls inside, otherwise the movie would be called 5 Metres Down (or 5 Meters Down, or In the First Bit of the Sea where You Can Still See the Boat’s Reflection).

Lisa’s fear of taking the dive is played up well and the director does will to avoid playing for lots of cheap jumps once they become stranded. This makes up for the dialogue that plays as poorly hidden commentary. However, towards the end, the sense of actual peril fades.

The girls are also told facts that we know must come into play or they wouldn’t get a mention. Hence, the penultimate scene could be seen by some as Jumping the Shark (see what I did there?).

Roberts can be forgiven for this. It still manages to work as a whole and with a movie clearly reliant on (subpar?) CGI, he appears to have made an effort to use tension rather than a series of further farfetched shark attacks.

Overall, a decent movie. The scale and budget means it was never aiming to be a massive blockbuster but it has already turned a tidy profit. It’s a top-level TV movie that deserves the chance to be seen in cinemas.

6/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Review

The MCU continues unrelenting, with it, Marvel open their arms and welcome into the fold a name that faces few equals: Spider-Man. Despite two solid showing as Andrew Garfield’s Amazing variant, Sony decided if you can’t beat them, sell back some rights and take a cut of the profits.

For Marvel’s part, they decided the best way to keep those profits high was to not deviate from what has worked before. This doesn’t mean a rehash of former Spider-Man movies. Oh no, not at all. It means shoehorning Peter Parker into the MCU by stripping away his uniqueness.

This is where two opinions on this latest film will tail off from one another.

If you love all things MCU, then you won’t mind this alternative direction for Spidey. If you hold Spider-Man dear to your heart, brace yourself for an onscreen character assassination.

This isn’t the Spider-Man many grew up with. There’s no driving motive behind his foray into fighting crime. He isn’t burdened by loss in the family. He isn’t crooning over Mary Jane (she’s here, hiding in plain sight, but for now, he half-fancies a girl called Liz). There’s no such thing as a Spidey Sense and his best mate isn’t going to become the Green Goblin.

So, what do we have instead?

A boy that was bitten by a spider (he briefly tells his buddy this, no origin drama to deal with) who can walk on walls and ceilings. That’s it. The Spider-Man suit is actually a Tony Stark design, complete with visual/audio guidance.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has turned Spider-Man into Iron Man Jr.

Such is the simplicity – and deceit of the true nature of the character – the plot and film remains decidedly average. Generic set plays on peril, and a villain – played by the excellent but left with little to explore, Michael Keaton – whose integrity and overall threat is undermined by Iron Man existing in this world.

There is hope Keaton can reprise his role as Vulture in later films, and the way he was a property salvager working on the post-Avengers New York debris, able to come across alien tech but put out of business by Stark and the authorities, is the sort of loose tie-in the film benefits from.

However, the overbearing MCU connections even kill this element.

There are good interactions between Jacob Batalon’s turn as a Ned and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. The identity of Spider-Man is accidently revealed to Parker’s geeky best pal, adding a fresh element but this should be the unseen cement in the movie, not a standout plus.

This could be the moment Marvel jumps the shark on the big screen. From the Captain America school videos during classes to the Stark created Spider-Man. It’s too cheesy, too much comic book for the screen. And not the best sort of comic book. It’s the dated, outmoded variant most haven’t lifted from a shelf in years.

Marvel are either on a collision course with creativity or cleverly tapping into a dumbed down audience. Either way, it makes for a very average Homecoming for the character that should be the jewel in Marvel’s crown.

5/10

(P.S. Don’t stay to the final end credits scene, it’s a lame joke and offers no insight or progression to future MCU stories.)

Wonder Woman – Review

Let’s cut to the chase. It’s what you have come to expect from this site and now’s not the time to disappoint. Wonder Woman has already been heralded as the saviour of the DCEU. A female has supposedly achieved what DC’s finest two males couldn’t pull off. It’s true, she’s managed to bring about change. But better the Extended Universe? No. Not one iota.

Before cries of misogyny come thick and fast, this review has nothing to do with the gender of the lead, the director, or in any way an attempt to prevent the empowerment of women. The movie does a grand job of resetting the balance when it comes to the perception of females on film.

What is slightly upsetting, is how the World War I era plays up attitudes as archaic when even, a hundred years on, women face unreasonable challenges compared to their male counterparts.

The movie starts on Diana’s all-female home world, the hidden Amazon island of Themyscira. It is here where women are warriors. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta, is against her taking on combat training but Diana’s aunt General Antiope helps her anyway.

There’s a conflict of interest. Hippolyta (played by Connie Nielsen who managed to avoid her brother’s advances in Gladiator) knows – as does Antiope – she is Zeus’s ultimate deterrent against the God of War, Ares.

That particular God is Diana’s half-brother. Oh yeah, Diana is the product of Zeus’s loins.

When American pilot Steve Trevor, or Kirk from the new Star Trek, magically appears through the fabric that shields the island, bringing a bunch of Germans with him, Diana sees it as a call to duty. Against her mother’s wishes, she decides to join Kirk on his return to Earth as we know it.

She’s convinced the head German, Ludendorff, is the manifestation of The God of War. If she defeats him, the human battle will also cease.

The segments in London – and subsequently Europe – are all well and good, in the sense it flows okay and characters are established. Gal Gadot pounces off the screen. She is an inspired choice and without her, it may even have dragged during the build to the final battle.

But it is during this passage and subsequent payoff the film hits terminal problems.

Not – this must be made clear – as a standalone movie. Judged as a brains out film, it’s fine. Nothing challenging at all but fun. Like a Marvel movie. It’s a watered-down Captain America.

The war elements feel too small for Diana; when the God of War finally appears, it’s too far-fetched for a DC live action affair.

Remember, the DCEU’s opening gambit was Man of Steel, a movie with Christopher Nolan listed as producer.

Wonder Woman confirms the worst fears for true DC fans (and I’ve checked with resident expert Christopher William Kinsey) that the DCEU won’t be playing to the strengths of their branding and onscreen successes. Instead it’ll be an imitation Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The CGI ending, with Ares making a suit from the molten metal of destroyed aircraft hangers and debris, was something beyond corny, cheesy, and cringe worthy. It was lazy.

But it has received approval from the same people that misjudged Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice because it actually had depth, thus, needed a little thought. The same people that think the new choice for Spider-Man is good but got lost with Suicide Squad’s dark undertones.

The perceived success could mean the tone of spinoffs like Suicide Squad are phased out and Warner Bros. and DC produce more live action cartoons.

If the DCEU was in trouble before, it is truly doomed if this is the sort of popularity it seeks.

4/10