Tag Archives: Gal Gadot

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) Review

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Fast & Furious 6

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Luke Evans as Owen Shaw
Gina Carano as Riley Hicks
Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
John Ortiz as Arturo Braga
Director: Justin Lin

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is tasked with catching a team of mercenary drivers who manage to evade him every time. However, he enlists the help of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team in exchange for full pardons for their past crimes.

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Fast Five injected some much needed life and energy into the Fast & Furious franchise. It was a street racing action series, but its fifth movie made the switch to being a heist action movie and that worked really well. Not only was it the best film in the series at that point, but critics and audiences alike really enjoyed it. Director Justin Lin, who made Fast Five (as well as Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious) directs the follow up with Fast & Furious 6. Whether or not its better or worse than the previous instalment, I think it’s around the same level, and I really enjoyed it.

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While I’m not sure on the whole it’s a better movie, I do think that the story of Fast and Furious 6 is more engaging than Fast Five. Rather than it just being another heist, it does take a slightly different story direction. It is definitely still in the heist/crime tone established with Fast Five, which is definitely to its benefit. However what makes it interesting is the way it changes it up. They team up with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs this time instead of being chased by him. They are also up against another team of criminals led by Luke Evans, and as its pointed out in the movie, his team is like an evil mirror to Dom’s team. While you really only remember a couple of them, they do make for memorably formidable antagonists. Unlike the villain of 5 who’s just a guy they need to rob, you really feel that they are on the level of Dom’s team. And of course family is a notable part of the movie, this time the big family draw is the fact that the character of Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is not only back from the dead after being assumed dead in the 4th movie, but is also in Luke Evans’s team and doesn’t appear to remember anything. This is a key reason why Dom decides to work with Hobbs and so it is a key part in the plot. I will say though that some of the reasons behind her return are very convoluted and farfetched to say the least. That aside, both aspects come together to make a story that I was interested in. Once again it is the strange but nonetheless effective mix of an approach that doesn’t take things too seriously, while being endearing in how it handles the story and characters and of course family. It also has a good mid credits scene that leads into Furious 7, well worth sticking around to watch.

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The main cast of Fast Five return, with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot. They come into their own here, with great chemistry between them. I’d actually say that they are better here than they were in the last movie. The newcomer of the main cast in the last movie was Dwayne Johnson has Luke Hobbs, and as mentioned earlier is working with Dom and his team instead of pursuing them, he makes a great addition with them and they play off each other really well, as can be expected considering it’s The Rock. One of the main aspects of the movie is Michelle Rodriguez returning as Letty, and she’s a welcome returning player. The villain of Owen Shaw played by Luke Evans works quite well. He’s not great and isn’t that interesting of a character, however he’s definitely a step above the villains in the previous Fast and Furious movies. He isn’t intimidating and imposing especially when he’s put up against Vin Diesel or Swayne Johnson, but he is nonetheless shown to be ruthless and a different kind of threat that wasn’t in the past movies.

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Director Justin Lin returns from Fast Five for this, at this point he’s pretty familiar with the franchise. It mainly comes down to the action, and there’s not much to complain about there. There are some great set pieces and clearly a lot of thought went into them. They really benefited from energetic camerawork, solid editing and good practical effects. The action is even crazier and sillier than Fast Five, not at all worrying about the laws of physics, yet you are constantly focusing on what’s happening and entertained throughout.

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Fast & Furious 6 is around the same level of Fast Five for me. The action might not be quite as memorable as the action scenes in Fast Five, but here the story is a little more interesting, and the cast actually worked better. It’s a solid follow up to Fast Five and was quite enjoyable, among the better entries in this franchise.

Fast Five (2011) Review

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Fast Five

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
Matt Schulze as Vince
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Joaquim de Almeida as Hernan Reyes
Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
Director: Justin Lin

Ever since ex-cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) broke her brother Dom (Vin Diesel) out of custody, they’ve traveled border to border to evade authorities. In Rio de Janeiro, they must do one final job before they can gain their freedom for good. Assembling their elite team of car racers, Brian and Dom know they must confront the corrupt businessman who wants them dead, before the federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) on their trail finds them.

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Up until Fast Five, the Fast and Furious was a rather okay but entertaining action franchise based around street racing. Some of the movies were reasonably fun but that was sort of it. Fast Five changed that with a much larger blockbuster direction very much for the better, also changing the series as a whole.

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The plot is simple enough: main characters decide to pull off heist on a drug lord while they are being chased by a DEA agent. They don’t make it needlessly complicated, they know what this movie is, with just the right amount of self awareness and witty humour throughout. With Fast Five, they increased the scale and scope of the series. They replaced the street racing formula with elements of a heist thriller, effectively resurrecting this franchise and makes it go in a new direction that actually works quite well. What also works is that they reunite the whole crew with characters from the past movies, making this a sort of soft reboot. If you haven’t seen any of the previous movies, you really don’t have to. You might miss some details with backstories and other characters that are mentioned in passing, but you can pick up on those easily easily. On top of the original Fast and Furious team with Dom, Brian and Mia, there’s characters introduced from 2 Fast 2 Furious, Tokyo Drift and Fast and Furious. While that could seem a bit overwhelming to have all these characters brought in, they actually work quite well together. Despite the over the top action, the screenplay does place more emphasis on its story and characters, to the film’s benefit. Then there’s the ever present theme about family, and as much as this has been made fun of, it is something that is throughout these movies. One of the things that I like most about these movies is that for as over the top they are, they are genuine and endearing with the characters and their journeys. So it’s just the right mix where they don’t take it too seriously and don’t let anything like physics get in the way of the action, while actually caring about the story and characters.

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The movie has a stellar ensemble with the actors playing to their advantages. Returning main cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster come back, as does Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Gal Gadot, Suan Kang and more from the previous movies to reprise their roles. All of them work together well in the team and have great chemistry together. It’s no coincidence that the series really found itself after Dwayne Johnson joined it. His personality and charisma adds a lot to this movie as well as the following movies. In this movie, he’s going after Vin Diesel and his group (before teaming up with him later on) and its fun watching them face off.

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Fast Five is directed by Justin Lin, who directed The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious prior to it, but he seemed to have improved over these movies. He has such a sleek direction, the action scenes are particularly great. This movie obviously is far from being realistic but it’s all shot, edited and filmed well. The third act is the standout, and there’s particularly an insane final setpiece involving a giant safe, which is particularly strong. Brian Tyler’s score packs some intense tracks that adds a lot to the action.

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Fast Five is one of the best entries in the franchise, this is really where the series took off and it’s easy to see why. Even looking back at it now 10 years later, it still holds up despite its ever present flaws. It’s entertaining while caring about its characters and story, it’s silly and over the top while being endearing, it’s just the right blend of elements. If you’ve never seen a Fast and Furious movie, you could jump right in with this movie.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) Review

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Zack Snyder's Justice League

Time: 242 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
J.K. Simmons as James Gordon
Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf
Director: Zack Snyder

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League was one of my most anticipated films of 2021. A brief background for those who don’t already know, Zack Snyder was helming Justice League but after his daughter’s death, left the movie. Warner Bros then got Joss Whedon to finish the movie, and he made a lot of cuts, changes and reshoots, and the end product released in 2017 was nothing short of disastrous. Critics didn’t really like it, audiences weren’t liking it, and fans not only didn’t defend it, they also despised it. When reports that Snyder had a long cut of the movie emerged, a movement emerged wanting the seemingly mythical Snyder Cut to be released. Years went by and it didn’t seem like it would happen, I myself didn’t have faith it would happen. However, in 2020 it was announced that Snyder would be returning to restore his vision in all its glory. After much anticipation it’s finally here, and I’m happy to say that it blew away even my highest of expectations.

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Throughout this review I’ll definitely reference the Whedon Cut plenty of times. Normally I’d just review the movie on its own, but that 2017 film makes it near impossible for me to do that. Also to make it a lot easier, I’ll refer to the 2017 Justice League movie as Josstice League, and this new Justice League movie as just Justice League. I think I should first address how both versions seem similar but how they actually aren’t, and address some misconceptions going in. Many detractors of the Snyder Cut have said that ultimately the new cut wouldn’t be that different and would basically be the same story. Yes, essentially Zack Snyder’s Justice League has the same story as Josstice League but only in the broadest of terms. The way that this story is told is so different. Aside from the tone, the length and more (which I’ll get into soon), the whole story is just developed a lot more, and the characters are fully realised. There is a lot more complexity to the story, and it’s a lot more interesting. It’s not the generic run of the mill superhero movie that Josstice League was, where the plot didn’t really matter and was just connecting one boring action scene to the next. There is plenty of room to breathe, and the pacing was steady enough that it wasn’t rushing, yet fast enough for me to be constantly invested in what is happening. There are so many scenes in this movie that weren’t seen in any of the prior trailers that it can actually be overwhelming, especially in the first 30 minutes. It’s not just that, even with the scenes that are in both versions, there are clear differences between them. There are literally scenes that have the same dialogue, but the versions in Josstice League were infinitely worse takes from the writing, directing to the acting and line deliveries. It gets to the point where it just feels like self-sabotage from Whedon. Even the footage that was purely Snyder’s that was also used in Josstice League feels a lot more in place and makes sense here. Additionally, some moments that were filmed by Snyder but no doubt was pushed onto him from WB are gone, an example being Batman’s “I heard you can talk to fish” line to Aquaman, which was in the very first teaser trailer. Just in general, you really feel this is Snyder with a lot more freedom. Despite the length, Snyder only filmed a couple of new scenes, everything else is his full cut from years ago, just fully restored with the CGI effects. With that said, he was able to change some aspects. For example, being able to change main villain Steppenwolf’s design from the generic tall guy in Josstice League, to his original and more superior design. Snyder even changed Superman’s red and blue suit to the black and grey suit, and while that is more of an easter egg and fanservice thing (it’s never addressed) it is fantastic to see on the screen.

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The most daunting thing about this movie for most people is the runtime, with it being a colossal 4 hours long, broken into 6 chapters and an epilogue. Of course, if Snyder got to release his version of the movie in the first place without it being changed by Whedon or WB, he would definitely have to cut it down a lot. Nonetheless, the movie we have now is 4 hours long, and absolutely benefits from that runtime. It takes like half the movie for the League to be together as a group, and in that first half sets the scene for what’s to come, really building up a lot with the characters and backstories. I think a lot of people won’t be expecting the character driven approach that Snyder has with the story, with quieter moments, especially between characters (a good example being Cyborg). It’s definitely dark for sure, and the R rating does feel appropriate for the movie even outside of the violence. Lots of people die, and there’s a lot at stake for the characters, with hints of a dark future to potentially come. With that being said, it is lighter than Batman v Superman (as it was intended to be). It also has moments of levity and comedy but unlike Josstice League, these moments actually work well and feel sincere rather than trying too hard to be quippy and imitate the MCU. There is a great balance of the tones and while I know that some people disliked Snyder’s DC movies for being really dark, I think it’s light enough that general audiences would be more inclined towards it, while it still remaining true to itself. Not only that, beyond everything, it’s an immensely hopeful movie, and you really feel that from beginning to end especially from the main characters by the time they are together at the end as a team. Hearing how Warner Bros wanted to go in a ‘hopeful and optimistic’ direction with this movie years ago is astounding, considering that this movie is exactly that. Justice League is also quite possible the most epic comic book movie. Snyder goes heavy with the mythology, while effectively showing the humanity of these people with godlike abilities, really helping the Justice League stand on their own thing and distinct from The Avengers and Marvel. Everything has so much weight from an emotional level with the main characters, to the larger scale stakes regarding the fate of the world. It really is best described as being DC’s Lord of the Rings. There are some very thrilling and satisfying moments throughout, and the third act is a complete blast. There is an epilogue which ties everything together for the characters but also leaves plenty of room open for follow ups. Those teases are especially excruciating because I really do want to see where the story and characters would go next, though it seems like they won’t happen at this time.

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The acting and characters are vastly improved for everyone in Justice League. Ben Affleck reprises his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman after the events of Batman v Superman. In this movie, Bruce’s faith is restored in humanity and is genuinely hopefully and optimistic as he assembles a team to combat the coming darkness, and it is a natural progression for this character. There’s particularly a brief exchange he has with Alfred later in the movie which just felt so perfect for his character and arc. Henry Cavill also reprises his role as Clark Kent/Superman, who begins the movie being dead after the events of Batman v Superman. Ultimately, he does serve a similar purpose as in Josstice League, but again is way better in every way here. Not only does he lack the very distracting CGI on his face and utter cheesiness and pseudo Christopher Reeve imitation that Whedon added, but it is also a much more genuine take on Superman. Yes, he’s both way more threatening and intimidating especially in the climax, but him returning as Superman was truly handled very well. Cavill has actually less lines than in Whedon’s cut, yet this take on Superman is way more powerful with less words. Gal Gadot also returns as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and while her role in the film is quite similar in both versions, she is portrayed and acted much better here, and doesn’t have some of the more embarrassing additions from Whedon. Her action scenes particularly are fantastic, I really loved the way that Snyder directs Wonder Woman action.

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There are three new Justice League members, and they are all pretty good. Jason Momoa is Arthur Curry/Aquaman, his role is pretty similar to the other movie but he’s thankfully a bit more serious than in the Whedon cut and isn’t making so many jokes. Additionally, we get a bit more of an arc for him and we get scenes with him and Mera (Amber Heard) and Vulko (Willem Dafoe) which further develops him as a character. In a way, Justice League makes Aquaman’s arc in his solo movie even better and more rewarding. Ezra Miller is Barry Allen/The Flash, in both versions he’s very much the comic relief, the difference is with Justice League, the jokes are actually funny and he doesn’t randomly rant about brunch or something. There’s also more emotional weight for him as a character. The scenes with Barry visiting his father in prison (played by Billy Crudup, who also gets to leave a much better impression here) aren’t just basic character backstory elements, but actually feel genuine and heartfelt. Also, the scenes that utilise his powers are fantastic, Josstice League had Flash run really fast, which is fine and all, but Snyder’s take on Flash is something truly special. Two scenes stand out particularly, one is the introduction scene for him (which is initself a great first scene for him), and the other is a strong candidate for the best scene in the whole movie. However, the highlight of the entire film is Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg. Zack Snyder has long said that Cyborg is the heart of the movie and he absolutely is. Of the newer Justice League characters, he gets the most time and development with Victor accepting who and what he is. He has a lot of character moments before he joins the League, and his arc is truly beautiful to watch. Fisher also performs his part fantastically, even when almost all of his body is covered in CGI, he leaves such an impression on screen. If nothing else, I hope this gets Ray Fisher the praise that he deserves (and hopefully will lead to more Cyborg in future DCEU films).

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The rest of the cast are great too. Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and Connie Nielsen really do deliver greatly in reprising their respective roles and do even better here. Irons was great even in Josstice League but Amy Adams and Diane Lane deliver some great emotional work here, and Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta really gets more to do here. Some of the newer actors and characters actually have more impact on the plot, a chief example being Joe Morton as Cyborg’s father, who was just that in Josstice League but actually plays a notable part in the story in this cut. Then there’s even actors and characters here that weren’t in Josstice League with Willem Dafoe (who would reprise his role in Aquaman), Kirsten Clemens as Iris West (in Flash’s first scene) and Zheng Kai as Ryan Choi, all of whom are welcome additions to the movie. One of the main criticisms of Josstice League was the villain, that being Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf, with him being a very weak and generic antagonist with a terrible design. Hinds was among the first people to be openly disappointed with that theatrical cut and watching him here you can understand why. Steppenwolf is absolutely an incredible improvement here on many levels. While I wouldn’t class him as one of the best comic book villains or anything, he’s really effective here. First of all, he’s way more intimidating and scary in this, a large imposing force with a spikey armour exterior, he seems just impossible to kill especially during his action scenes. Not only that, he’s also actually got some motivations behind what he’s doing, and they are well set out. Something that the trailers for Justice League have really been pushing is that major DC villain Darkseid would be in this. He’s basically a cameo in this and a hint of things to potentially (or not potentially now) things to come. So don’t expect much of him, but he’s such a menacing presence when he’s on screen, and Ray Porter’s intimidating voice and performance makes him even more memorable.

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Zack Snyder’s name is in the title of the movie, so of course we would get to him eventually in this review. This is undeniably a film from him, his style is all over this but like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, makes each of his DCEU films feel distinct from one another. Something interesting is the 4:3 aspect ratio, I can get why some people would initially be turned off by this much like the long runtime. I will say that like many I was hoping for a much wider look to the movie. However it does add another unique aspect to this film over every other comic book movie. Also after a while you just get used to it, so just try to watch the movie on the biggest screen possible. The visual effects are great throughout, and the powers of the characters are showcased wonderfully, the highlight for me being Flash. The most shaky CGI is the new scenes that Snyder filmed, which is understandable. There are some other CGI moments which weren’t perfect, but for a 4 hour long blockbuster, that’s to be expected. Many of the designs are particularly great too, the main examples being the spikey armoured and intimidating Steppenwolf, and the ripped from the comic books look of Darkseid. The action is fantastic and might even rank amongst the best Snyder has done. You can see everything that’s happening on screen and it’s directed absolutely smoothly. It has an R rating for a reason, while it’s no Logan or Deadpool, it is more violent than the average comic book movie with dismemberments and blood and the like. However, it perfectly fits with the tone of the movie. The score by Junkie XL is fantastic and one of the standouts of the movie. It not just replacing Danny Elfman’s lackluster score, but every theme is distinct and fits the moment perfectly. I also love how he uses to previous DCEU themes to great effect here. I’ll also go ahead and say that the main Justice League theme is one of the best themes in a comic book.

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League is so many things. It’s a triumphant comic book epic (the most epic of the comic book epics), a vast improvement over the disastrous 2017 movie, and a complete vindication for Zack Snyder and everyone else who worked on the movie. The characters are beautifully realised, the story is operatic yet poignant and heartfelt, and it’s fantastically directed with a bold vision. It really does rank among the best that comic book movies can deliver. If you are a DC fan there’s going to be a lot here that you’ll love, especially if you are a fan of Snyder’s DC movies. Honestly even if you weren’t such huge fans of Snyder’s DC movies, I still think you might really like it, ironically the 4-hour long movie the most accessible of his trilogy. The only people I can’t recommend this movie to are people who just don’t like comic book movies altogether. I don’t know if there will be a continuation of this story, I certainly hope there will be or at the very least an acknowledgement of this movie over the Whedon cut. Whatever the case, I’m incredibly happy that this movie exists in itself, and is firmly one of my favourite experiences watching a movie for the first time.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Review

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Wonder Woman 1984

Time: 151 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah
Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lorenzano/Maxwell Lord
Robin Wright as Antiope
Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
Director: Patty Jenkins

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) lives quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s — an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile by curating ancient artifacts, and only performing heroic acts incognito. But soon, Diana will have to muster all of her strength, wisdom and courage as she finds herself squaring off against Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and the Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.

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Wonder Woman 1984 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. I liked the Wonder Woman movie released back in 2017 and I was interested in the follow up movie, set in the 80s, and once again directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot in the lead role. After some delays, it actually ended up being released right at the end of 2020, and I got to see it in the cinemas. Despite some mixed to positive reactions, I really liked it.

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Wonder Woman 1984 is a very different movie from its predecessor. Whereas that was a gritty war movie, 1984 is a very bright, occasionally goofy but nonetheless heartfelt movie. Some might call it cheesy but I find it earnest and endearing and joyful. As someone who does prefer darker tones, I liked the approach for this movie. It is very reminiscent of the blockbusters of the era it is set in. The story has a surprising amount of depth and is entirely based on characters and the decisions they made. I particularly liked the character journey that Diana went on. There are plenty of plot devices and MacGuffins, and can definitely feel a bit silly and clichéd at times. The writing itself can be a little messy. It is long at 2 hours and 30 minutes in length, very long, but I appreciate it being this long rather than 10-20 minutes shorter. The first half and definitely the first act is quite slow. Not that I wasn’t interested during those parts, but you do feel the slow pacing. By the time it reaches the halfway point however, it really picks up. I’m one of the people who actually quite liked the final act of the first Wonder Woman, even though I do see issues with it. The final act of 1984 does work a lot better however, and by the end is emotionally satisfying. Make sure to stay in cinemas for like a couple minutes after the movie ends for a mid credits scene, it’s worth it.

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The acting is generally good, but it really comes down to the 4 major actors and characters. Gal Gadot once again is Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, and playing a Diana who has spent many decades on Earth since the first movie ended. I know some people are mixed about her acting, but I think Gadot improves with every appearance as Wonder Woman, making this her best performance as the character yet. She embodies the character really well and definitely sells her emotional moments really well, especially in the second half. Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor after his character’s death in the first Wonder Woman. In 1984, Trevor really is more of a supporting role compared to his part in the first movie. There are some complaints that some aspects about his return especially with regards to his relationship to Diana is rather ethically questionable (to say the least) and I can’t really argue with any of them. That aside, his line delivery and humour is great, and Gadot and Pine once again share great chemistry together. I particularly like how Diana was the fish out of water when she first comes across mankind and Steve was the one guiding her through, and now the roles have sort of reversed as Steve finds himself in the 80s. The villains in Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord and Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah are definitely a step above the villains in the first Wonder Woman. Pedro Pascal performs his role incredibly well. His performance is hammy and over the top for sure, but he’s very entertaining and stands out among the main 4 actors. There’s also a lot more to his character that’s not shown in the trailer, in fact I was surprised at the amount of screentime he got. There are some parts of his character which do feel familiar and a bit undercooked, but Pascal’s performance made him great and firmly one of the best villains in the DCEU. Kristen Wiig also plays her role very well, even though her character goes on a very familiar arc. Nonetheless it was handled a bit better than I thought it would. I am uncertain about some parts of her role in this movie, and without getting into it, it’s strange seeing her essentially work as a secondary antagonist considering that Cheetah is known as being one of Wonder Woman’s most known villains. Hoping to see more of her in a sequel or something.

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Patty Jenkins returns to direct the sequel, and once again she does a good job. Losing the dark and grittiness from the first movie, 1984 embraces the 80s to great effect, with bright and vibrant colours. There’s actually not a huge amount of action, at least when compared to the previous movie, it’s definitely more story focused. When there is action, I did like those scenes generally. From what I remember, my biggest issue with the action in the first Wonder Woman was the use of slow motion, which got quite distracting. I didn’t notice a huge amount of slow motion in 1984, but I will say that the wirework sometimes made characters feel very floaty. The CGI at times is a little iffy but on the whole I think it was good. Hans Zimmer composes the score, and as you’d expect it’s really good and fits the movie quite well, even if it’s not one of his best work. There are actually two moments that work quite effectively. One is “Beautiful Lie” which was taken from Batman v Superman’s score, and the other wasn’t composed by Zimmer and is instantly recognisable. Both are used in key moments, and their respective tracks elevated those scenes to whole other levels.

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Wonder Woman 1984 is entertaining, joyful, heartfelt and I had a great time with it. It’s certainly a bit messy, more so than the previous movie, but it’s also more ambitious and I got more out of it. The directing, acting and story just all generally worked well for me. It’s among my favourite movies in the DCEU, I’m definitely up for the third Wonder Woman movie whenever that does come out.

Wonder Woman (2017) Retrospective Review

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Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] violence
Cast:
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff
David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
Elena Anaya as Doctor Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison
Lucy Davis as Etta Candy
Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer
Ewen Bremner as Charlie
Eugene Brave Rock as Chief
Director: Patty Jenkins

Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) of an all-female Amazonian race rescues US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Upon learning of a war, she ventures into the world of men to stop Ares, the god of war, from destroying mankind.

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With Wonder Woman 1984 not too far away, I decided to check out the first Wonder Woman movie from the DCEU again. From my first viewing to my third viewing, my opinion on the movie jumped from considering it one of the best comic book movies, to just really liking it. So I needed to know for sure, and from watching it again, I think it’s still good.

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With this review, I get the freedom to talk more about spoilers freely, though there isn’t a huge amount to spoil. The plot isn’t unpredictable, and is pretty typical of that when it comes to origin stories or other fantasy stories that are similar. However, it is the first time we are seeing Wonder Woman in live action, and looking at it like that, it’s very well handled. I will admit that on repeat viewings when you know what’s happening, the pacing does feel a bit slow honestly, that’s what I felt the second and third times I watched it. Maybe it’s because 3 years since I last watched it, but I enjoyed it a little more this time, though it still has that problem. Wonder Woman does the whole fish out of water thing once Diana leaves Themyscira, which has been done many times, but the movie does make it entertaining to watch. The setting with World War 1 was fitting for this story, as well as refreshing as opposed to the commonly used World War 2. I do have some issues with the third act with the movie, and unlike most people, it’s to do with the story than the visuals or action. Much of the movie is Diana hunting down Ares, believing that he alone is the reason for everything bad that mankind is doing, particularly with the war. After killing Ludendorff (who she believes is Ares), she discovers that it doesn’t change anything, and that it seemed to be mankind doing it themselves. It is quite an effective moment and I liked the subversion. However later the real Ares shows himself and there’s a big battle between the two. I do like how he plants ideas for war rather than directly being the ones who starts the war. However, after the death of Ares, there’s a moment where everyone just stops fighting (including the German soldiers) and it just seemed to contradict the message and almost seemed to imply that it was Ares after all who caused it. Over time I have grown warmer on it, and took it as everyone reacting after watching literal gods battle to the death on such a large scale, though I guess they could’ve handled that aspect a little better. The strongest scene and probably most iconic scene is that of the No Man’s Land scene around halfway into the movie, on both a directing level and a story level, as well as a moment for Wonder Woman.

Gal Gadot straight up is Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, she embodies the character perfectly, and I like the arc she goes on throughout the story. Chris Pine is just as good as Steve Trevor, honestly Pine probably made this role even better. Gadot and Pine are among the best on screen pairing I’ve seen in any comic book movie, and they share great chemistry. Those two had by far the strongest characters. The rest of the characters range from average to decent, but were all performed well. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright are really good as Diana’s mother and aunt respectively in the first act. The group of people that Diana and Steve team up with are okay but forgettable. Danny Huston and Elena Anaya made for some over the top yet entertaining villains. They aren’t great but they work alright for the story. David Thewlis is the secret villain Ares, who at first appears to be an ally. He really does play the scene well in which he reveals himself to Diana to be the God of War. With that said, he does get quite silly in the actual battle with over the top lines, though he’s still fun to watch.

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Patty Jenkins directs this movie very well. The action is quite good and feels very smooth, particularly with the stunts. It particularly portrays Wonder Woman’s power and abilities really well. If I could find a flaw in the action scenes, some of the slow-motion isn’t used as greatly as it could’ve, making it feel a little awkward at many points. So many people complain about the third act, especially with the use of the CGI. There are parts where it does get messy but I thought it was pretty enjoyable nonetheless. The score from Rupert Gregson-Williams was also great and elevates many of the scenes, especially with the action scenes.

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Wonder Woman is a solid comic book movie, and a really good Wonder Woman origin movie for audiences. It’s well directed, and the cast were really good, especially Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. There are some issues I have with it, and it doesn’t rank among my favourite comic book movies (or even favourite DC movies), but on the whole I still think it’s really good.

Justice League: Theatrical Cut (2017) Retrospective Review

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Justice League

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
J. K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon
Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf
Amber Heard as Mera
Joe Morton as Silas Stone
Director Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon

Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity, and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly-awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes in Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller), it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

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Note: Most of this review is written at a time when the Snyder Cut (or director’s cut) of Justice League wasn’t announced.

Justice League was my most anticipated film of 2017, and when I first watched it I was slightly disappointed at the results but I still enjoyed it. As time went by however, it really got worse, and I really needed a rewatch to be sure what my final thoughts on it were before I never see the movie again, it just took me a while to get around to that. Now I had been intending for this review to be released much later on but as it turns out, the Snyder Cut was announced to be coming in 2021, so there was no better time for my to release this review. The theatrical cut of Justice League isn’t one of the worst movies I’ve seen by any means, but it’s among the most crushingly disappointing ones, so much potential and talent cut down and thrown away, and the end product isn’t even fun in a so-bad-it’s-good way, it was just sad to think about.

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To get this out of the way, for those who don’t know, during production director Zack Snyder was replaced by Joss Whedon, who would be filming the reshoot. While it was being said that Whedon would be directing pretty much as Snyder for some additional scenes, it really turned out to be an attempt to completely reshape the movie, with some very bad results. The story itself on paper sounds fine but it needed a lot more fleshing out, the final product at best reads like a very rough first draft. There’s a lot here that was very clearly cut out, and indeed I get the impression that they cut down the movie to its simplest form and reshot some of the scenes that remained. There are some moments where the characters just deliver so much explanatory exposition about everything, their current states, their origins, what they have to do and the like, all of that they just briefly mention and never talk about again. It’s like they’re compensating for all the scenes they cut out basically delivering the same points. From what I can tell, the movie was going to be longer and explore each of the characters a lot more, and tell their stories in a more naturalistic and less rushed way. WB seemed to want to brighten up Justice League quite a bit, and you can feel that throughout, everything feels off. It’s not just that Justice League has problems, the final product is very bland, it’s not even that entertaining or interesting. From the beginning it is already pretty rough, from that opening cell phone footage of Superman, to the Batman scene that just felt really off, it wasn’t starting off so well. Now the opening credits sequence set to “Everybody Knows” was legitimately good, but after that it reverts back to being not so good. The rest of Justice League until the climax jumps between having good moments and bad moments, but over time the movie just gets worse. The movie also doesn’t flat out doesn’t address things set up from Batman v Superman, most notably the Knightmare sequence. Even people who were confused by the significance of that scene might’ve been willing to wait for Justice League would bring it all full circle and give an explanation… but that was never addressed here.

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I guess since I talked about the scenes that were removed, I should talk about the additional scenes that Joss Whedon inserted. Whedon seemed to want to add humour to everything, and it’s just unfortunate that the humour here is terrible. Fun fact, the first Batman scene where he uses a criminal to bait a Parademon, that was directed by Joss and was a somewhat okay directed scene. However, it was originally shot to be very comedic, and even WB had to come in and reign him in. Some of the dialogue and moments are so horrendous that I couldn’t believe it actually made it into the theatrical release. There is a scene with Martha Kent and Lois Lane, where Martha says that Clark called Lois the “thirstiest young woman he’s ever met”, somehow managing to be by far the worst line in the movie, and that’s saying a lot. There’s also a scene where Flash accidentally falls onto Diana’s breasts, and you know it’s a Whedon reshoot as it resembles that scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Mark Ruffalo falls on Scarlett Johansson in the same way. While I’m not a massive fan of Whedon, he’s done so much better in the past that it’s a little astounding that somehow almost everything new he added was bad. So many of the reshoots were also unnecessary. One was the first scene between Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne, that scene seemed to have largely played out the same way as the original, but for whatever reason at the end Barry starts going on this tangent about brunch or something, very clearly a reshoot so as to add a joke, and an unneeded one at that. Another instance was the random focusing on a Russian Family in the area the parademons are located (also the location of the climax), and I just have no idea why we kept seeing what was happening with them. It seemed like they were placed in the movie just so they could be there for The Flash and Superman to rescue on screen, but they really didn’t need to establish them this early on even if they wanted to do that.

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This movie has such a large and talented cast, and most of them managed to be misused. There is a lot to talk about with the characters and actors, so I’ll start with the supporting cast. J.K. Simmons was a great pick for Jim Gordon, while I would’ve liked to have seen more of him, he served his purpose well enough. Shame we’ll never see him reprise his role. Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth is also once again a delight, despite all the changes that happened in the movie, I had no problem with him or the way he was utilised. Billy Crudup makes a brief appearance as Barry Allen’s father, his scene with Ezra Miller’s Barry early on is legitimately good, and I hope Crudup returns for The Flash movie. Connie Nielson also reprised her role as Hippolyta, Diana’s mother in one of the better scenes of the movie, while she’s like in only two scenes at most she did pretty well. The rest of the supporting cast had issues though. Zack Snyder in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman (the Ultimate Edition at least) made Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, a prominent part of the plot. With all the cutting done here though, all she’s left to do is to be there for Superman to see her, so that he could stop being crazy. Justice League is the debut of Mera, played by Amber Heard. While she wasn’t going to have a big role, it seems that they cut down scenes with her. The end result didn’t give Mera the best impression. Thankfully Aquaman gave audiences a much better impression of her, and showcased her a lot better. Ciaran Hinds plays the villain of Steppenwolf and a lot of people really thought he was terrible. I actually ended up liking Steppenwolf more than most people, I don’t think he’s one of the worst comic book movie villains like a lot of people found him. However, he’s not that good of a character or villain either. The thing is, outside of some cliché villain lines and some horrible CGI, the individual scenes with him aren’t bad. The problem is that all the development and depth with him is just missing. Hinds prior to the movie talked about how Steppenwolf was different as a villain, and he had a certain way of playing him. It’s not surprise that after the movie was released, he was unsatisfied with the end product, particularly with how pretty much all of his backstory was removed. There is something I realised while watching Justice League for the first time. Unless you are at least aware of some comic book knowledge about Steppenwolf, Darkseid, the parademons and Apokalips, you have no idea what’s happening with them. Steppenwolf at one point in one of his speeches says “for Darkseid” but the general audience doesn’t know who that it, or even necessarily that he’s referring to a person and not a planet or whatever. For all the exposition that the reshoots dump out, they never really gave them a solid explanation outside of a vague description.

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I’ll talk about the League itself, from best to worst, in terms of who comes across the best. First of all Cyborg played by Ray Fisher was actually quite a surprise. Fisher added a lot with his performance, and the CGI on him didn’t distract too much (only occasionally). There was also his connection with his father Silas Stone, but it also seems like their scenes together were changed, maybe in an attempt to lighten the movie up. Like with a lot of the movie, he’s held back from much of his arc being removed from the movie. It’s a shame that I’m not sure if we’ll ever see him again on screen. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is also good, though at a lower level compared to her previous appearances. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman really doesn’t get much to do here, having some of the same problems as the rest of the league with their arcs not being fleshed out or their origins just briefly explained. I’m just glad that Momoa at least got his own movie to show off his potential. Ezra Miller is a very talented actor, but his Flash seemed to be really negatively affected by reshoots. Since Barry Allen seemed to be quite comedic for the movie to begin with, it seemed they leaned in heavy with this and made him even more hyper, comedic and over the top. As I said he did have a really good scene with Billy Crudup, and it was a genuinely heartfelt scene, so he can definitely work in the role. However for the most part, he’s reduced to just being the comedic relief, and I really hope his solo movie (if it ever gets released) shows him off a lot better.

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Now for the two of the League that fare the worst, Batman and Superman. Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio were going to take Batman in a less dark direction compared to Batman v Superman and they even said this. It didn’t seem enough, as the reshoots seemed to redo a lot of his original scenes. Even though he wasn’t going to be as dark as he was in BvS, apparently Batman in this movie was originally supposed to be on like a suicide mission, so they had a strong intention of where to take him. WB and/or Joss Whedon however didn’t just trim off some edginess or darkness, they flat out removed almost all of it. What we are left with is a Batman that is not dark at all. He’s not quite George Clooney Batman but he’s definitely in Val Kilmer territory, but actually he’s worse because even Kilmer’s version at least acknowledged that Bruce Wayne was quite a dark individual. Going from BvS to this, he just feels very off. Affleck in the Snyder footage looks like he’s playing his part fine enough. In the Whedon footage however, he either looks like Ben Affleck playing himself saying the lines or just looked really unhappy and doesn’t want to be there (which is very likely the case). Honestly the way he sometimes acts in some of the reshoots is like he’s acting in a Late Night Talk Show skit for Justice League, rather than the actual movie itself. It was a real shame that this would be the last time we’ll be seeing him as Batman.

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Henry Cavill’s Superman is really divisive but I really liked him in the previous films. Justice League’s Superman annoyed me even when I first watched it, and that’s still the case now. Now I should get something out of the way, my primary issues have got nothing to do with the CGI on Henry Cavill’s face. Honestly, I’d rather Snyder’s Superman with a weird CGI face than the Superman we got with the face looking fine. It’s pretty clear that WB removed almost all of Snyder’s footage of Superman, I’m pretty sure there’s like 2 scenes of Snyder’s Superman, and that’s not even including the two deleted scenes. This doesn’t just feel like an attempt at being like Christopher Reeve’s Superman, this flat out feels like a mockery of that version, being overly cartoonishly cheesy and silly. I know a lot of people thought his past two movies that he was stiff, but he felt more human and grounded in those movies. However, I didn’t like him here, he seemed so unnatural and forced, he seemed like what many haters of the Superman character think he’s like. Even the Superman on the Supergirl tv shows fared better. In short, he’s pretty much the Superman that some of the detractors of Snyder’s Superman wanted him to be, happy, quippy, with no conflict and with not much personality or character beyond that whatsoever. Also on a lesser but still disappointing note, when it comes to showcasing his powers, he doesn’t seem like he’s directed by Snyder, you don’t really feel the weight of his power, he comes across as a little more cartoonish. Last point about this Superman, at the end of the movie he pretty much saves everything. The whole thing about the League is that all of them are needed to come together. It seems that originally Superman would be the last necessary addition to the team that’s enough to stop Steppenwolf and save the world. However with this Superman, he probably would’ve been able to solve everything himself. This makes the tagline of one of the posters “You can’t save the world alone” rather silly looking back at it. Maybe the saddest part about all of this is that despite all the changes made to Superman here, it’s still not enough to get people on board with Cavill’s version, I’m not even sure if we’ll see his Superman on the big screen again in any format.

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You can blatantly see the differences between Zack Snyder’s direction and Joss Whedon’s direction on screen at many points. Some of the action was pretty good, but other aspects of the direction held it back a little. In terms of the best sequences, one of them was seeing the Amazons fight against Steppenwolf. Even though the Steppenwolf CGI looked iffy, it showed off both his power and the Amazons skills. Also the flashback showing mankind, Amazonians and Atlantians fighting against Steppenwolf, even though it was brief and no doubt cut a lot of things, was good to see. I did like seeing certain things on screen, like I liked the way they showed off The Flash with his speed.

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The CGI goes from looking actually pretty good, to looking so incredibly awful, the look of the movie was inconsistent. Even at its best, there was always something off, like they deliberately tried to brighten up the look of the movie. An example was the fight between the Justice League and Superman, the way the background looked and the windows particularly really did seem like it took place at night but they just brightened everything up. I would also bring up the moustache debacle with Henry Cavill but it’s been talked to death so I won’t bother. Its far from the film’s biggest problems. Despite some of the CGI not looking so good in the first two acts, it’s the third act where it takes a massive downgrade and looks downright ugly. There are glimpses from the trailers of the third act that made it into the movie, and they didn’t have this horrible red filter over everything, it only looked dark. If it the previous acts didn’t make Justice League a disaster, the climax certainly made it. It is worth noting that this is one of the most expensive movies ever made, that money didn’t seem to have gone to good use. The third act apparently was almost entirely reshot and looking at the results, it definitely looked that way. If they really wanted to have extensive reshoots, and changing pre-existing scenes, they should’ve moved the movie back many months, that way that would give them enough time to do all the reshoots and also have enough time to get the effects all under control. But alas, instead we get an incredibly rushed film. I was one of the only people leading up to its release rooting for Danny Elfman to deliver a good score for Justice League after replacing Junkie XL but I was completely disappointed in it. Even if the movie wouldn’t necessarily be made better by it, it could’ve at least elevated the movie but it’s so generic. Elfman when it came to his score talked about how he’s using John Williams’s Superman theme and his own theme for Batman, and they do make an appearance in the movie at brief moments. Unlike some people I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, the problem is that his score literally doesn’t have anything else to offer. It probably would’ve been better if he literally just took the score from his Batman and Donner’s Superman and just played it because at least they’d be more memorable than whatever he was trying to make here. It is worth noting that Elfman also straight up ripped off the theme of The Flash from the tv series The Flash on the CW, it’s so incredibly lazy. Also what Elfman did with Wonder Woman’s theme, especially in her introduction in the Bank scene, is absolutely atrocious. It’s like someone was parodying Wonder Woman and made some incredibly basic theme to somewhat resemble it.

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Now I think some people are wondering about how good the movie could be had it all been under Snyder. I’m of the mind that Snyder’s version would’ve been a lot better, but even a complete Joss Whedon Justice League movie would’ve been better than what we got here. You can feel this real laziness when it comes to some of the reshoots by Joss, and I feel like even he wasn’t satisfied with his work here. I’m not saying that everything Zack would’ve done with the movie would’ve been gold or anything. Originally this movie was going to be in two parts, but the first part would end by having Darkseid kill Lois and setting the chain of events in the Knightmare timeline, seemingly setting the stage for Part 2 to be something like Avengers: Endgame. While that idea is bold, it’s understandable why WB weren’t so hot on it, and Snyder and Terrio compromised for a straight forward Justice League, however one that was worldbuilding, expansive and epic. From the leaks and unfinished footage that we got, it would’ve at least been a lot more interesting. That said, now we know that the much desired Snyder Cut is coming to HBO Max. Not only will it be all from the original director, he’ll be releasing it much more of it, around 4 hours as opposed to the length that he’d no doubt have to cut it down to if the final theatrical cut was his. I won’t go into too much depth about what will be in this new version here, but essentially Zack and a post production crew will finish off his cut, and will shoot some additional scenes. Snyder had said that what made it into the theatrical cut was like 25% his, and that this new cut will be a completely different experience, and I don’t doubt that.

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The theatrical cut of Justice League is one of the most disappointing movies I have ever watched. It’s by no means one of the worst comic book movies ever made, but it is so incredibly lacklustre. However the Snyder Cut turns out, I don’t know if we’ll be getting any future Justice League movies, for a while at least, and it led to a number of negative things happening with the DCEU. Actors leaving, characters probably not going to appear again on screen again, and so many changes made. If anything can come from this, hopefully WB has learnt their lesson of not cutting and interfering, but then again that’s what I thought Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad would’ve taught them. I can’t even muster up any hate for this movie, it’s just disappointing and sad to watch and think about. With that being said, I don’t see the upcoming the Snyder Cut not being supremely better and at least make Zack Snyder’s DCEU trilogy feel complete and satisfying.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 183 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Holly Hunter as June Finch
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Scoot McNairy as Wallace Keefe
Callan Mulvey as Anatoli Knyazev
Tao Okamoto as Mercy Graves
Robin Atkin Downes as Doomsday
Director: Zack Snyder

It’s been nearly two years since Superman’s (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel.

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This is a spoiler filled review, here is my original Batman v Superman review, and here is my review of the Ultimate Edition.

I had already done a couple of reviews on Batman v Superman, one on the Theatrical Edition, and another on the Ultimate Edition. It’s been over a couple years since Batman v Superman has been released and I’ve seen it over 7 times (3 of them being of the Theatrical Cut and the rest being of the Ultimate Edition. I had felt compelled to yet again write about this movie, especially after my more recent Man of Steel retrospective review. Batman v Superman did have a large impact and impression on audience members, some loved it, others hated it and others felt very mixed and didn’t know what to think of it. Everyone had a strong opinion on this movie and it was very divisive, probably one of the most polarising comic book movies (if not the most polarising comic book movie of all time, even more than Man of Steel). It was such a surprising movie for me personally, I mean it was in the top of my fave movies of 2016. This review will go in a little more depth than my Man of Steel review with certain aspects. There were so many aspects about this movie that I was worried about, Ben Affleck was going to be Batman, Gal Gadot of Fast and Furious fame was going to play Wonder Woman, and Mark Zuckerberg himself Jesse Eisenberg was going to play the villainous Lex Luthor. Also, I didn’t know how this film would handle the introduction of the Justice League. I was very worried at what this movie was going to be like, even when I liked the trailers and footage I had many doubts. However, this movie blew me away, this movie as a whole was a lot more than I expected it to be. I expected a simple Batman versus Superman movie. Instead I got one of the few films that I would call a ‘superhero drama’ (other films in this category I would also place Watchmen, The Dark Knight and Logan), and it just gets better and better the more I watch it.

This film took massive risks, not only when it came to what Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio did with the characters but also the way it tells its story (with it being a movie about Superman and Batman, arguably in the top 3 comic book superheroes of all time). This story is a lot more dense than expected, you really have to pay attention to what was going on, it’s no Memento but there are lots of plotlines going on for a comic book movie. I and many other people just expected a straight up Batman vs Superman movie but it was a lot more than that. Oscar winning writer Chris Terrio did a great job with the script, he rewrote David S. Goyer’s script and you can feel the occasional odd Goyer line of dialogue that feels out of place, but otherwise most of it all really works. Batman v Superman also gets better and better the more I watch it, and certain aspects work better upon repeat viewings. Some scenes that didn’t seem necessary on of the first viewing, actually worked upon repeat viewings. The Clark and Jonathan Kent dream/vision mountain scene seemed unnecessary when I watched it for the first time. Upon many viewings though, I would consider it one of Clark’s most important scenes in the whole movie, especially for his arc. Despite the long runtime of the Ultimate Edition, for some reason I can always watch this movie and be fully invested from start to finish. There is some atmosphere in it which draws me to it but I can’t tell what it is, it’s something about this world that Terrio and Snyder had set these characters in.

Now the characters’ treatment in this film was one of the most criticised aspects of the film, especially with Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman. However, I personally think that their interpretations were not only great, they were very compelling and some of the best versions of the characters on the big screen. Let’s start with Batman. Batman is not just darker here than in any previous live action incarnation of Batman (which he is), he’s damaged, he doesn’t care anymore, he’s completely off the rails and is unstable. Many people complained that Batman here wasn’t really Batman, he wasn’t really a hero, between the Metropolis flashback and the third act, the one time when he actually saves people (aside from Martha Kent), he really wasn’t looking to save them. In his introduction scene as Batman, he was looking for the human trafficker criminal for information, not necessarily to save the people. To that criticism I say… that’s kinda the point. He’s not what he once was, like how Alfred brings up how everything’s changed “That’s how it starts, the fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men cruel” That Metropolis event changed Bruce significantly for the worse, which built upon his feeling of helplessness even when he was Batman (especially the implication that he failed to save Robin from The Joker). “20 years in Gotham Alfred, we’ve seen what promises are worth. How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?” To take a character as beloved and iconic as Batman and to take the risk of making him incredibly flawed, I have to give Snyder huge props for that. I noticed that Batman is one of these iconic characters that are so beloved that a lot of audiences don’t like when they are shown to be flawed, whether it be Superman, Luke Skywalker or whoever else. As for the complaints of him killing…. Batman has always killed in his past live action movies (with Batman and Robin being an exception). The difference here is that it is more blatant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily into having Batman kill everyone he comes across (because then they would have to make up some contrived reason why he doesn’t end up killing particularly people like The Joker). The reason that the killing works here for me is that there is actually a character arc around the killing. At the end of the film, Batman visits Lex at the prison but chooses not to brand him (like he did with many other criminals), basically meaning that he’s done with killing (or no doubt just done with killing in this blatant way, he’s going to somehow end up killing again in his next appearance like with the other versions of Batman). It was because of Superman’s sacrifice that he decided to make a change. Now for the controversial ‘Martha’ scene. I was not expecting the conflict between Batman and Superman being resolved through the revelation that their mothers had the same name (and on paper it doesn’t really sound good). At first I really didn’t know what to think of it. But after thinking about it for a while I think it is great, after all the reason that Batman doesn’t kill Superman isn’t because their mothers share have the same name, it’s because he realises that Superman is not just an all powerful dangerous single minded being. Throughout the majority of the movie, Batman believes that Superman is a complete threat to the world and not ‘human’ at all. In the moment where Lois tells Bruce that Martha is the name of Clark’s mother, he realises that he has a mother, he is a person. I do think it could’ve been handled slightly better but most of it works.

Snyder really made Batman a force to be reckoned with, his action scenes are nothing like we’ve seen in other Batman live action movies before. The widely praised warehouse sequence, praised by even people who heavily disliked the film, is a good example of this, with Batman taking on multiple criminals at the same time, mostly relying on his own fighting style which is a lot more brutal. It’s not just action scenes that conveys his strong presence, his first appearance was straight out of a horror film. Other decisions like with the voice modulator and his worn down simplistic costume really added to this portrayal. Also, Ben Affleck was excellent in the role of Batman, he blew me away with how great he was here. I’ve always liked Ben Affleck as an actor, but I had no idea what to expect from his Batman and he really surprised me here. He pulled off the charismatic side of Bruce Wayne, the broken and damaged side of Bruce, as well as Batman himself. In fact I think his best acting is during the Batman and Superman fight, when his metal helmet is damaged and his face is exposed, seeing Batman’s expressions while he was Batman was something we don’t usually get to see. Definitely an unexpectedly great casting decision, and an interesting take on the character. As for Ben Affleck, I think he’s the best Batman in a single live action film (however Christian Bale’s 3 Batman appearances combined is better than all of Ben’s Batman appearances, I personally blame Justice League). Hopefully Ben will get to reach BvS greatness once again in the Matt Reeves Batman movie (should he choose to return to the role).

Clark Kent’s story in Man of Steel’s was about him being ready for people to see him for what he is. In Batman v Superman, Superman is out there in the public eye, and his story is about him living in a world where people know about him and are reacting to him. Some of the reaction is positive, others are negative (Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne being examples of people who don’t take too kindly to him). In retrospect I can partially understand why his character did get some criticism, because a lot of his arc in this movie is cut in the Theatrical Cut. The Ultimate Edition fleshes out his story more, giving him a lot more screentime. It also included important scenes like Clark talking to his mother, Clark talking to the deceased branded criminal’s wife, Superman saving some people in the Capitol and the aftermath, all these are very important for his story arc and more clearly lays it out. However, I also think that part of the criticism is how Superman sort isn’t a huge hero, a criticism that was brought up in Man of Steel. Well he does save many people in Batman v Superman, he saves Lois a few times in the movie, he stops Doomsday, and there’s even a montage of him saving people like in the first act. I suspect it’s more the criticism that Superman isn’t constantly doing a lot of heroic things. For me that personal didn’t bother me, this movie was taking Clark on a particular arc and I liked it. In the real world, a powerful being like Superman would not be universally loved, there would be lots of concerns as to what he can do, should do and will do. BvS really tries to capture how we would react to someone like Superman, there are those who love him, and there are those who hate him and fear him. And before some people comment, no, DCEU’s Superman isn’t dark. He lives in a world which is dark but despite everything, he still rises up to be the hero. All things considered, Superman is the true hero in Batman v Superman, not Batman. Despite all that humanity does to him (especially Lex), Superman is willing enough to sacrifice himself for them. Henry Cavill is even better here than he was in Man of Steel. Cavill expertly brings out Clark’s inner emotions without requiring a lot of dialogue, you can just see what he feels. With two deep and conflicting stories that Superman has gone through in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, I have to say that Henry Cavill’s Superman, as directed by Zack Snyder, is my favourite interpretation of the character. Now I’m just wondering how he’s going to be handled in future Superman movies.

All the other characters I thought was great as well. Amy Adams was great as Lois (she gets a lot more to do in the Ultimate Edition with her investigating the desert incident and more, on top of saving Superman twice). Gal Gadot was solid as Wonder Woman, Holly Hunter as Senator Finch made an impression despite not playing a comic book character and Jeremy Irons stood out as Alfred Pennyworth (I hope we get to see a lot more of him in the solo Batman movies). Even Callan Mulvey made an impression as Lex Luthor’s henchman, overall everyone was great. But I really want to focus on Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Definitely a very divisive aspect of the film, with some finding him to be annoying and just a copy of Heath Ledger’s Joker (I guess any comic book villain who’s crazy is just trying too hard to be The Joker). Now I’m just going to avoid all the comic book accuracies arguments for a bit, and am going to focus on him in the movie itself. I for one loved his Lex, and I was one of the people who hated Jesse’s casting from day 1. He was somehow even more quirky and over the top than I expected but he still manages to come across as menacing and dangerous, especially on the rooftop with Superman. His plan is darker than most interpretations of Lex, and his motivations were more complex. Also on a side note, Jesse Eisenberg completely threw himself into this role and didn’t hold back, you can clearly see that he is having the time of his life as Lex, and I think it’s worth at least respecting how committed Eisenberg was to the role. Not that I care about comic accuracy but despite all the claims about this Lex not being comic accurate, he’s pretty much young Lex Luthor from a comic book called Superman Birthright. Snyder and Eisenberg have made a modernised Lex Luthor that works in today’s world. Now we will just have to see what is done with Lex in the Man of Steel sequels.

The direction by Snyder unsurprisingly is great. The cinematography by Larry Fong was so great, this is a beautiful and sleek looking movie. In contrast to Man of Steel, there isn’t a lot of shaky cam or zoom ins/outs, which was almost in a documentary style. The action, as expected from Zack Snyder is great. The CGI for the most part looks really great, with the exception of certain small bits which didn’t look fully polished. One thing I’d like to mention is how Snyder held back with the action for the most part. Before the third act with the BvS fight, warehouse sequence and the Doomsday fight, the only action scenes in the movie prior was the Metropolis flashback (if it counts as an action scene), the Knightmare sequence and the Batmobile sequence. Those sequences are big when they happen but for the first two acts this movie relies mostly on story, especially in the Ultimate Edition. The film is much more than just an action movie, it is also drama set in a superhero world. So, Snyder did hold back… until the last act which I’ll get to later. The music by Hans Zimmer was absolutely masterful and ranks among some of the best music work he’s done. From the opening “A Beautiful Lie”, to Lex Luthor’s theme ‘Red Capes are Coming” and Wonder Woman’s theme “Is She with You?”, all of it works so excellently. I guess maybe I would’ve liked to have had a slightly more distinct theme for Batman like Zimmer had done for Superman and Wonder Woman, but it’s still pretty good and has the right tone.

I need to touch on the Ultimate Edition for a bit. Now I have done a full review of the Ultimate Edition so I won’t linger on it too much. But I feel like I need to mention how much it improved the movie. It fixes plot holes (there is now an explanation for Superman not being able to stop the Capital Bombing), fleshes out Clark/Superman’s story, gives Lois a lot more to do and shows more of how large Lex’s plan was. Not to mention the scenes didn’t feel jarring especially in the first act, like it did in the Theatrical Cut. Even if the extended scenes have the same outcome from the theatrical version of the scenes, there’s much more time given, so it flows a lot smoother instead of just jumping from scene to scene every 2 minutes. The scenes are even ordered in a much better way. For example in the Ultimate Edition Bruce has his nightmare (with a Man-Bat-like creature), wakes up at the penthouse and then meets with Alfred before preparing to go to Lex’s party to steal some information. However in the Theatrical Edition, they put in Lois’s meeting with General Swanwick in the middle of that segment, which just feels jarring. I’m not exactly sure why they made some of the ordering decisions that they did. There are only a couple of reasons I can think of why WB cut 30 whole minutes form the film and that’s the runtime and the age rating. Blockbusters are rarely 3 hours long, but then again it’s worth considering that The Dark Knight Rises was 2 hours and 45 minutes long and that was still a hit. As for the age rating, the Ultimate Edition in America shouldn’t have been rated R (both version of the film have the same rating in New Zealand), it’s once again a case of bizarre MPAA ratings. For whatever reason that they did it, cutting out 30 whole significant minutes of footage was a major mistake, you should never try to change a Zack Snyder film, otherwise it will not work. I want to say that WB might’ve now learned not to repeat this mistake in future DCEU films like they did with BvS and Suicide Squad (the latter movie having even worse editing issues) but Justice League clearly proved me wrong.

Now that’s not to say that there’s no problems with this film. There are some plot points which weren’t handled as well as they could’ve. For example, in the Batman vs Superman sequence, I get that Bruce wouldn’t listen to what Clark had to say, but it could’ve been presented more clearly, because otherwise it seems like Clark could easily explain what was going on at the beginning of the scene. As for noting one of the lesser scenes of the movie, I’d have to say that it’s the scene when Bruce sends Diana videos of the other Justice League members. I did like that scene but there is not that much to gather from that scene, Cyborg’s cameo did hint at his role and his actual origin in Justice League, but the rest doesn’t have much. They could’ve implemented the scene better, or they shouldn’t have had that scene. However it didn’t bother me too much. A complaint that does get thrown around a lot was around the third act and how it changed tone and became a big action fest, which was different from the slower paced almost political thriller in the first two acts. While I still love the third act, I do partially agree with this. We’ve seen end fights with monsters plenty of times, but even though it surprisingly worked fine enough for BvS, it did feel slightly out of place here. And yes, Snyder does go big with his action here, the action (as expected) is incredible and entertaining to watch. It would’ve been nice to have the final act something a little more compelling than just another monster fight at the end but this final battle sequence was good enough for me (even though Batman really couldn’t do anything throughout it). Speaking of the third act, Doomsday is a heavily criticised part of the movie, and while I don’t think he was great, he did his part well enough. Maybe if it was a character deliberately created for the movie I would take more issue, but as he’s a comic book character and as Doomsday is pretty much just a mindless dangerous monster, I could look past that. The only part of it that I wished was better was the design, I think the CGI on him is for the most part good but he just looks so generic (hence all the comparisons to the cave troll in Lord of the Rings or Abomination from The Incredible Hulk). Outside of his basic design, I didn’t have too many problems with Doomsday. One aspect which is a little sad to look at now is all the aspects that set up for Justice League, because the Justice League movie completely ignored them, whether that be the Knightmare sequence or The Flash’s warning (but that’s for another awaited retrospective review).

No matter your thoughts on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there’s no denying that it had made a huge impact and impression when it was released. Batman v Superman was a breath of fresh air in the comic book genre for me, a film which decided to slow down with its story and take risks with its characters (not that no comic book movies do this, but it was a standout nonetheless). For most of the movie it’s like that, and on top of that there are some great action scenes, impressive performances and portrayals of iconic characters and a very unique story for these characters. Watchmen is still Zack Snyder’s masterpiece to me (as well as my favourite Comic Book Movie), but Batman v Superman is up there. As I said it still has some issues and if I looked at the Theatrical Cut I’d have a lot more unfavourable opinion of that version than the 3 times I saw them in cinemas (especially after seeing the Ultimate Edition and how these extra scenes added to the movie). But BvS nonetheless is an great comic book film in my eyes, and I do believe that this film (like Watchmen) will become loved much more as the years go on.

Justice League (2017) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/Flash
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta
J. K. Simmons as James Gordon
Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf
Director: Zack Snyder

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) – it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

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Justice League was my most anticipated movie of 2017. While it’s proven to be very divisive, I really like the DCEU. I loved Batman v Superman, I loved Man of Steel, and I liked Wonder Woman (and Suicide Squad is a guilty pleasure at best). Naturally I was excited to see everything come together with this talented cast, director Zack Snyder and writer Chris Terrio. There were some bumps along the way, with the reshoots being filmed by Joss Whedon instead of Snyder, as he was dealing with a tragedy. Nonethless, I was still incredibly hyped to see the end result. So did Justice League live up to expectations? For the most part yes.

This movie is noticeable shorter than the other DCEU films, they are usually at least 2 hours and 20 minutes long. However Justice League is 2 hours long, even Suicide Squad is longer. Justice League really does need an extended/director’s cut (it seems that Warner Bros hasn’t learnt their lessons from Batman v Superman and has yet again ditched the superior version in favour of a shorter and lesser version for the theatrical release). It really needed a longer runtime, especially with the first act. There are a significant number of scenes in the trailer which are missing from the movie. I think what makes me look over some of the issues is that this movie is quite straightforward, that was the plan and I’m not upset about that. Even if there might’ve been some changes made, its clear from what Snyder and Terrio said even before the release of Batman v Superman, that Justice League would be lighter and more straightforward. It’s a simple save the world comic book movie, and I think that overall Justice League did that well enough. I also had a lot of fun with it, if you are a big DC fan there will be some stuff here that you will really love. There are also two credits scenes that I liked, particularly the second one, and I’m curious as to what this will mean for the future of the DCEU.

The cut scenes weren’t the only issue with Justice League. Most of the jokes worked, some of them didn’t. There are also some lines which don’t fit in, some of them were downright cringeworthy. There was particularly one line in the third act which really frustrated me, I have no idea if Joss Whedon wrote it or not, but either way that was one of the worst moments of the film. Something that needs addressing is Joss Whedon’s reshoots, there are at times you can tell when its his writing. Again with the dialogue, some of it didn’t work and I can tell that a lot of it is his dialogue. I know that it seems like I dislike this movie but its not the case. It was very entertaining and I loved seeing these characters together. Its just that the negatives really stand out.

The team dynamic was one of the best parts of the film, which is good because its one of the most important parts that the film needed to get right. Most of the characters get a good arc. Ben Affleck’s Batman has changed since the events of Batman v Superman, clearly affected by Superman’s sacrifice, he is filled with hope and this is a good continuation of his arc from Batman v Superman. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman continues to be great, continuing on from Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman. The newcomers were all good as well. Ezra Miller’s Flash is a stand out and is the more comic relief out of the group. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg actually worked really well, I’d love to see his story continued in future movies. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman doesn’t stand out as much among the main cast but he was still really good, and I can’t wait for his solo film next year. In fact I can’t wait to see more of all of them. As for Henry Cavill’s Superman, I can’t go into too much depth in case I spoil anything. So I’ll do my best to keep it vague. I’m not quite sure what to make of this version of the character, it was quite different to the version we saw in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and it was really jarring. I just hope Man of Steel 2 handles Superman a lot stronger. The supporting cast with Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons and others were pretty good. The main villain of the film is Steppenwolf, who is motion captured by Ciaran Hinds. I actually don’t think he’s that bad of a villain, he works as a physical threat against the Justice League. However he could’ve used just a little bit of backstory, it is possible that it was cut. The CGI on him for the most part was fine, but the effects on his face needed more work.

The action was filmed very well and stylistically. At times the visuals are downright beautiful. Most of the visual effects are good, but there are times where it did look off, at times it looked really bad. I’m not sure why this happened. Throughout the film at times you can clearly see that there are some reshoots, for example there are some moments when some out of place green screen is behind characters. There are also some scenes that don’t appear in the trailers but there are also different takes that were used for some unknown reason. After scoring Man of Steel and Batman v Superman Hans Zimmer decided not to do Justice League, and Junkie XL was booted off the film when Joss Whedon stepped in for the reshoots. Instead we got Danny Elfman filling in and while everyone was bagging on him, I was willing to give him a chance. After watching Justice League it made me want Danny Elfman to never get hired to score a film ever again. It was so forgettable and didn’t add anything. However, it’s not just that it feels generic, it straight up doesn’t fit with the movie. There are a lot of comic book movie scores which are forgettable but at least it fits in the movie. It makes a lot of the scenes feel underwhelming and deflates it. His score honestly took away a lot of the impact of the scenes. It would’ve worked for a Tim Burton Justice League but not with a Zack Snyder Justice League. There is one hint of Hans Zimmer’s score, but it only makes the rest of the score look inferior. Yes, its nice to hear hints of Reeve’s Superman theme and Tim Burton’s Batman theme but it’s not enough to make the score good. The score unfortunately took away some of the enjoyment of the scenes.

Overall this film does do what it set out to do. I had fun with it, the team dynamic is great, the actors are great, the action is entertaining, I really liked it. There are a lot of issues I had with it, I think that the cutting of the scenes, the reshoots done by Joss Whedon and the score by Danny Elfman (yes, it affected the film experience that much) are probably the stand outs. Although I have commented a lot about the issues, I must stress that I still consider Justice League to be good, I had a lot of fun with it and I recommend at least checking it out. It’s just that there are some aspects that could’ve been better, and I honestly think that Joss Whedon had a large part of some of the problems, the best parts of this movie are clearly Zack’s stuff. After Justice League, I wanna see more movies with these characters, and I think that is something that this film achieves at the very least.

Wonder Woman (2017) Review

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine as Steve Trevor
Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff
David Thewlis as Sir Patrick Morgan
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
Elena Anaya as Doctor Isabel Maru/Doctor Poison
Lucy Davis as Etta Candy
Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer
Ewen Bremner as Charlie
Eugene Brave Rock as Chief
Director: Patty Jenkins

Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

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Wonder Woman was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. Despite the divisive and mixed reaction that its been receiving, I have so far loved most of the DCEU (I loved Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and… enjoyed Suicide Squad despite it’s countless flaws). No matter their thoughts on the previous movies, everyone was at the very least interested in the Wonder Woman movie. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman (who everyone loved in BvS) returns to star in the female led superhero prequel, and its directed by Patty Jenkins, who directed the great and often underappreciated Monster. Not to mention that this is the first live action Wonder Woman movie. So there was a lot to look forward to. I expected a great superhero movie and I got more than that. All the elements you’d expect are here, great action, characters and story. However this movie does more than just that, the way it explores humanity with its (quite frankly perfect) protagonist, results in an incredibly inspiring movie, and also one of the best comic book movies in recent memory.

For those who haven’t seen any of the prior DCEU movies don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to catch up on any of them beforehand in order to watch Wonder Woman. There is definitely a connection between this film and Batman v Superman but it’s for the most part a standalone movie. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long but all things considering, the pacing was pretty good. Yes, I agree with some other people that the pacing in the first act is a little slow but I wasn’t really bored, and I was completely invested throughout the entire runtime. This movie is entertaining, there is a surprising amount of humour and the best part is that it doesn’t ever take away from what’s going on. You will never see an out of place joke in an emotional action sequence. And also, this movie still does have a very emotional centre to it all (more on that in a bit). The film is still dark, it also tackles the impact of war incredibly well, it doesn’t shy away from taking some dark turns. The third act, is yet another explosive action set piece as per typical of DCEU climaxes (as typical of most comic book movies really), but to say that’s all that this segment had to offer would be under-serving it, there is still an emotional core to be found here, it’s not just a brainless action climax.

Now, onto the parts of the movie that truly makes it one of the best comic book movies. This movie is actually pretty straightforward and simple when it comes to the plot, but it’s what’s beneath the movie that makes it so great. First of all is how this movie explores humanity, with Diana as the protagonist, the film explores that aspect excellently. Diana as a character starts off quite innocent, believing that its all one person behind all of humanity’s wars and destruction and without spoiling anything, and lets just say that not everything is how she thought it would be. It feels incredibly raw and unique compared to most comic book movies and was an important and very compelling part of the movie. The other aspect that makes it so great? Wonder Woman is inspiring, in fact I’d say its really the most inspiring comic book movie I’ve ever seen. A lot of people have already called it inspiring so I just want to clarify something: when I say inspiring I don’t mean it’s a light hearted movie with an likable protagonist with good morals. By inspiring I’m meaning how despite all the darkness and odds that the film shows, Diana rises above all odds to be a hero in the best sense of the word. I know I’m being a little vague and not describing it the best way, but trust me, once you see the movie, you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about. The best example of how inspiring this movie is shown in the No Man’s Land sequence, that scene alone demonstrates how great this movie is. Wonder Woman falls in lines with the rest of the DCEU, which is why they are some of my favourite comic book movies of all time (excluding Suicide Squad of course), the heroes despite all odds end up being compelling and inspiring, and it is so incredible to watch.

Gal Gadot truly impresses here as Wonder Woman. While she was really good in Batman v Superman, she gets a lot more to do here as a character. She does of course sell the action sequences excellently but it’s her acting that is most impressive. She perfectly captures Diana’s innocence and optimism, it’s incredibly easy to love and care about her. She goes through a lot of changes as the events of the film go on, as she sees the horrors of war that mankind had to offer. I won’t give away too much, but if you remember what I said earlier about this film being inspiring, Diana is a major part of that and Gal Gadot delivered on that part perfectly, so believable and powerful. Wonder Woman is an incredibly empowering character, and is beautifully and fully realised by both Gadot and Jenkins. Chris Pine was also great, he was really entertaining and he had a perfect blend of comedy and drama. He is very funny but there’s also an emotional core to him. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine was excellent, this is the best chemistry between two actors in a superhero movie since Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the Amazing Spider-Man movies. Although Pine is the bigger star in comparison to Gadot, he doesn’t feel forced into the movie, he was used appropriately.

A lot of the supporting characters aren’t that complex but they are effective and served the movie well. The Amazonians played by Connie Nelson and Robin Wright and many others were particularly good, I loved the way that the film presented the Amazonians, very memorable and badass despite only really being in the first act. I can’t wait to see more of them in future DCEU films. Other supporting actors like Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock were really good in their roles as well. The villains were pretty good. With Danny Huston as General Ludendorff and Elena Anaya as Dr Poison, they do act well in their roles (even if Huston does go a little hammy sometimes, especially with his thick German accent). Even though I would say that they are pretty good, they weren’t really great. They really needed a lot more scenes and to develop the characters more, they weren’t that interesting. They were okay overall though, and they served their purpose. Now some will already know of a certain other villainous presence in the movie, I won’t spoil it for anyone who doesn’t know of this character yet. But this villain is by far the best villain in the film. It’s worth mentioning that the handling of the villain on paper looks terrible but in execution surprisingly works well (I’m deliberately keeping this vague). Everything from the performance, to the motivations and writing was so great (bar one unintentionally hammy and hilarious line) and I was overall satisfied with its treatment.

This movie is absolutely beautiful, from the gorgeous island of Themyscira, to the worn torn battlefields on the front line, Wonder Woman looks amazing. The action sequences are fantastic, from the fight choreography to the visuals, absolutely intense and entertaining. A stand out action set piece is of course the aforementioned “No Man’s Land” sequence. I won’t go into much depth about it but I’ll just say that it’s incredible, both visually entertaining and beautiful on a deeper level. It’s probably her stand out moment so far out of all the DCEU, Superman had the World Engine sequence in Man of Steel, Batman had the Warehouse sequence in Batman v Superman, and in Wonder Woman, she has the No Man’s Land sequence. The CGI in the movie was great overall, and was used quite well. While some have complained about the CGI in the third act, it’s not bad by any means, some of it just isn’t fully finished and that’s a little distracting. It wasn’t enough to take me out of the movie though. And plus, even though there is a lot of CGI due to the large scale of the action, the film has established early on the immense scale that the movie is. The soundtrack by Rupert Gregson-Williams was absolutely fantastic. It made the scenes even better, the emotional, and at times beautiful scenes, as well as the large action sequences. Beautiful and epic are the words I’d use to describe the score of Wonder Woman. And for those wondering, yes, Wonder Woman’s electric cello theme from Batman v Superman does make a return, and it is incredibly satisfying whenever it shows up.

Wonder Woman exceeded my expectations. With it’s great lead character, great performances, a compelling and inspiring story and entertaining action, it’s everything that a great comic book movie should be, and more. That’s not to say that there are some issues, but none of it is enough to detract from the greatness of this film. I loved the movie. I wouldn’t say it ‘saved’ the DCEU (as I thought the prior movies except for Suicide Squad were at the very least great), but I will say that is one of the best films in the DCEU, and it’s one of the best comic book movies in recent years. However I do think there is far more to take away from Wonder Woman than how it holds up against other comic book movies. It shows that movies with even simple stories can have so much impact, with Diana’s story being truly compelling and inspiring, despite it being straightforward. This film will also certainly lead to even more excellent female led blockbusters and more female directors getting large projects, which is going to be great to see, a huge step forward for the film industry. Even if you don’t like comic book movies, I do recommend checking Wonder Woman out, I’m pretty sure that you’ll find something to love about it at the very least. Wonder Woman surpassed my expectations and is one of my favourite movies of the year.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition (2016) Review

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Time: 182 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Jesse Eisenberg as Alexander “Lex” Luthor
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Holly Hunter as Senator June Finch
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Director: Zack Snyder

It’s been nearly two years since Superman’s (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel.

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Link to review of theatrical cut: https://thecinemacritic.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-2016-review/

Batman v Superman was an extremely divisive movie upon its release, particularly with the direction that they took the movie and its iconic characters. However from what I can tell, the 3-hour cut is generally more well received. Whether this version will make you like it more depends on your problems with the original version, if your issues were the pacing and editing you might like this more. If your issues were with Jesse Eisenberg’s performance or the fact that Batman kills, then no, chances are you’ll still have problems with this version. I loved the theatrical cut and that was already my favourite movie of the year. My only problem I had with the movie was that it felt like there was a lot of footage missing. With that issue fixed, there’s not many problems I have with the movie, maybe there might be the occasional plot decision that could’ve been done better but that’s really it.

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In this version we get more expansion of the stories for Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. One of the criticisms of Batman v Superman was that for many, Clark’s motives weren’t clear. I personally understood what Snyder was going for but the extended version does make it a lot clearer, especially as it shows more scenes of him like when he goes to Gotham. In fact it shows more of his emotions, there is a certain scene during the senate scene with Superman during the halfway point that’s in the extended version, and I have no idea why it was cut. Lois gets to do some investigation of her own. Lex didn’t get a whole lot of new scenes but it does show how much of a part he played in making Batman and Superman battle each other. Also other characters like the African woman at the Senate at the beginning of the film and Wallace Keefe are more defined, with their motivations made even clearer. This film also flat out explains things that were left ambiguous in the original cut, for example in the middle of the movie, an ‘incident’ occurs involving Superman and there is an explanation of why things went how they did. If you watched the theatrical cut before seeing this version, you’ll notice that there are random things that weren’t included, for example there’s a bit of 2 seconds of Batman punching Superman, which was cut from the previous version. It was like Warner Bros was trying to cut down this film as much as possible.

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One legitimate criticism of the theatrical cut was the editing. While it didn’t bother me, I definitely noticed that the scenes jumped locations quickly, and with not a great transition, especially in the first act. The Ultimate Edition gives time for the scenes to breathe, the Lois desert scene was an example, it gave a lot more time for us to get into the scene. Not only that, this version rearranges scenes and connects many of them. For example, this connects Lex’s two introductory scenes, the first when he’s speaking to the senators and the second when he gains access to the Kryptonian Ship and Zod’s body. In the theatrical cut for no reason at all, they put a scene in between. The movie overall seemed to flow a lot smoother, for me at least.

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This film was always going to be divisive, no matter what version was released. I have no idea how differently you’ll see this movie to the first version, some people like this version more, others think the theatrical version is better. But either case I do think it’s at least worth checking out, whether you love or hate this movie. I will openly say that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition might actually be my favourite comic book movie of all time. And I don’t say these kinds of statements easily.