Tag Archives: Holly Hunter

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.

Incredibles 2 (2018) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains violence & coarse language
Cast:
Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl
Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr
Huck Milner as Dashiell “Dash” Parr
Eli Fucile as Jack-Jack Parr
Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone
Bob Odenkirk as Winston Deavor
Catherine Keener as Evelyn Deavor
Brad Bird as Edna Mode
Jonathan Banks as Rick Dicker
Director: Brad Bird

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

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Incredibles 2 was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. I recently rewatched the original Incredibles after many long years and it surprised me how great it is and how well it still holds up. People have been waiting 14 years for a sequel but finally in 2018 they are getting it. Despite a part of me being quite looking forward to it, at the same time I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. With the voice actors returning but most importantly Incredibles writer and director Brad Bird returning, it definitely had the potential to work really well. So I remained cautiously optimistic about the sequel. Thankfully it worked out well, much better than I thought it would be in fact. Brad Bird delivers a sequel which more than lives up to the original film, with it trying new things, while still feeling like an Incredibles movie with its entertainment factor, humour, smart writing and also appealing to all ages. The biggest surprise is that it’s at about the same level as the original film. If you loved the original film, I’m pretty sure you’re going to love the sequel as well.

This feels like a true sequel to the Incredibles. It’s not really much of a spoiler as its right at the beginning of the movie but it picks off right where the first movie ended. This movie is clearly in the same world but at the same time the story is quite different from the first movie’s. The first movie was like a mix between the Fantastic Four and a less dark and less bloody version of Watchmen. It involved superheroes who were all the rage in the past but are nowadays outlawed. In the sequel it picks up pretty soon after the first movie, and there is a push to make superheroes legal again. Unlike the first movie where Mr Incredible was in the forefront, this time its Elastigirl in the role whereas Mr Incredible has to learn to take care of the kids. These different changes are entertaining and interesting, providing a still entertaining movie which is different enough from the original. You can definitely tell that Brad Bird wrote this movie because its keeping in spirit with the original movie. Like the first movie, there is a lot of satirising of the superhero genre and it works just as well here. Like the first movie, it’s entertaining from start to finish, and all of it works very well. The humour like the first movie works well and none of it falls flat. Like the first movie, it appeals to all ages, adults can enjoy this as much as the kids, maybe even more as they could probably pick up some references that only they would recognise. To stop myself from repeating myself more than I already have, I’ll just say that almost everything great about the first movie is here, plus a different story.

The characters, like in the first movie, are still good. While characters like Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone are good, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack really get their chances to shine. Jack-Jack in particular gets much more screentime here compared to the original, and has a lot of stand out moments due to his new powers, while not feeling so overused that he feels obnoxious, it’s a good balance. The weak link here (and so far on my one viewing the only notable fault in the movie from what I’ve noticed) is the villain. Granted following up a villain like Syndrome is very difficult but there are still some parts about the character which don’t work greatly on its own. While the villain works well enough for the story, the motivations were just okay, the character wasn’t very memorable, entertaining or compelling, was kind of forgettable and the reveal is predictable. But this is a minor issue, the villain doesn’t bring the movie down by any means, it’s just with the movie otherwise having pretty much everything else on point, this really stands out as being not as good as it could’ve been. The voice actors all work well, with most of the main voice actors of the original film (with the exception of the voice actor for Dash) returning. Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson working well and despite it being 14 years later, sound like they haven’t aged a day.

You can also tell that Brad Bird reprised his role as director of Incredibles 2. It’s been 14 years since the original Incredibles, and with that, animation has really improved. The original movie still holds up reasonably well as an animated movie, and the sequel builds upon the animation capabilities nowadays while very much keeping the same style. It’s very fluid, fast and smooth, and it is endlessly entertaining to watch. On a side note, and this isn’t really a criticism, but I think each of the characters have had a slight redesign, and it’s not like the sequel takes place 5 years later. It’s a non issue, just a random thing I noticed.

Incredibles 2 is a great follow up to the original Incredibles, everything that made the first movie amazing and beloved returns in the sequel. All things considered, Incredibles 1 and 2 might just be on the same level, the only real fault that stood out was the disappointing but okay villain. Outside of that both movies are really great animated movies for all ages. I hope we get a third movie sometime soon, hopefully we won’t have to wait 14 years for it.

Song to Song (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Sex scenes, offensive language, nudity & drug use
Cast
Ryan Gosling as BV
Michael Fassbender as Cook
Rooney Mara as Faye
Natalie Portman as Rhonda
Cate Blanchett as Amanda
Lykke Li as Lykke
Val Kilmer as Duane
Bérénice Marlohe as Zoey
Holly Hunter as Miranda
Director: Terrence Malick

Set against the Austin, Texas, music scene, two entangled couples — struggling songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling), and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and the waitress (Natalie Portman) whom he ensnares — chase success through a rock ‘n’ roll landscape of seduction and betrayal.

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Song to Song was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. I admit I was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know what to expect. The main attraction to me was the talented cast but even though I liked director Terrence Malick’s films Badlands and Tree of Life, I wasn’t really a fan of Knight of Cups. He has a very unconventional directional style which really makes him stand out, for better or for worse. Fortunately, I liked Song to Song, it seems that Malick had backed off from his style that he indulged in too much in Knight of Cups.

Song to Song, like most Terrence Malick films is very unconventional. It didn’t bother me as much, probably because I had recently seen Knight of Cups, which was way more arty than what we have with Song to Song. I think the reason why Song to Song worked for me more than Knight of Cups is because the main characters had personalities and characters of their own. In Knight of Cups, the supporting characters have more personality than the protagonist, and they usually only appeared in brief segments before disappearing. Here though, the main characters played by Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender have actual characters to work with. On top of that, unlike Knight of Cups, it’s not just a whole bunch of ideas thrown together, there is sort of a story (though not a very conventional or straightforward one at that). It doesn’t have much of a structure, it jumps between time periods and characters so it can be quite jarring and confusing. Despite how jarring and drawn out it could be at times, it had my attention. After a while it does tire you out, I wasn’t necessarily bored but the sequences often take a long time, it requires a lot of patience.

With Song to Song, Terrence Malick again has a great cast and fortunately this time they are actually utilised well. Apparently there was no script for this movie, so it’s a real credit to the actors for the performances that they gave. Rooney Mara is a standout, if there’s a main lead of this movie it would be her. Mara hasn’t really played this type of role before, and she is great here. Mara proves herself to be one of the best actresses working today. Ryan Gosling was also good, a lot of the main relationships that are focussed on most involve both Gosling and Mara and the two of them have really good chemistry. Michael Fassbender is also a standout in every scene he’s in, he really was a screen presence here and was great. Natalie Portman isn’t in it a lot but she is really great in the screentime she gets and made quite an impression. Other supporting actors like Cate Blanchett are also good in their screentime and make an impression. Other actors like Holly Hunter and Val Kilmer are very much just cameos in the movie and don’t really get to do much.

The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki (who has worked on many Terrence Malick films) is great and beautiful, like with all Terrence Malick films. Malick also encapsulated the music scene in Texas quite well. Terence Malick is also known for his odd editing, there have even been actors in his films who were cut out of the final product (Christian Bale for example was originally in this movie). So I had come to accept that there would be some odd editing here, however there was a bit of a problem here that wasn’t present in Tree of Life or even Knight of Cups. A lot of the times there are no scene transitions, so it would jump from one scene to the other and it feels clunky and messy, it doesn’t even feel like a stylistic decision. It jumps in time periods and locations and even if that was intentional, the way it was done was very off putting and isn’t particularly smooth. It felt like an amateur filmmaker editing these scenes and not a fully established filmmaker.

Song to Song is not for everyone and I can understand why a lot of people don’t like it. The film did drag as it went along and the editing was quite jarring and clunky. However there were a lot of aspects that really worked, especially the cinematography and its great performances from its talented cast (Mara and Fassbender being the standouts). As someone who liked Tree of Life and didn’t really like Knight of Cups that much, I liked Song to Song. I can’t tell whether you’ll like it or not but if you are familiar with Malick’s other films, I’d say give this a chance.

The Big Sick (2017) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Kumail Nanjiani as Kumail (based on himself)
Zoe Kazan as Emily Gardner (based on Emily V. Gordon)
Holly Hunter as Beth
Ray Romano as Terry
Adeel Akhtar as Naveed
Zenobia Shroff as Sharmeen
Anupam Kher as Azmat
Director: Pete Travis

Kumail Nanjiani is a Pakistani comic who meets an American graduate student named Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his stand-up shows. As their relationship blossoms, he soon becomes worried about what his traditional Muslim parents will think of her. When Emily suddenly comes down with an illness that leaves her in a coma, Kumail finds himself developing a bond with her deeply concerned mother (Holly Hunter) and father (Ray Romano).

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The Big Sick was a movie I heard about only recently, I heard that it was a romantic comedy that a lot of people really loved. I really didn’t know what to expect, the trailer was funny and looked like it had potential, so I was cautiously optimistic before seeing it. The Big Sick surprised me on many levels, it surprised me how funny it was, it surprised me how emotional it was, and it also surprised me how great it was overall, this is probably one of the best romantic comedies I’ve seen (then again it’s not saying a lot).

I won’t lie, I really am not a fan of romantic comedies, save for a few like 500 Days of Summer. In order for a romantic comedy to really get me to like them, they have to really be well written and something different from all the countless generic romantic comedies that are dumped out every year, and it really does. The Big Sick is a very unconventional romantic comedy. This movie is written so incredibly well, the movie is absolutely hilarious with every joke hitting hard, the dialogue fantastically written. At the same time though you actually care about what’s going on with these characters. It felt so real and genuine and not fake at all. To summarise, this movie isn’t pretentious, it doesn’t succumb to any typical lines or moments that are in typical romantic comedies movies. Like don’t expect a montage of someone being sad with a cheesy sad song, when the film is emotional, it feels earned. The Big Sick also has some social commentary about many things including interracial relationships and religion, especially with Kumail’s family, and how Kumail has to abide by his family’s rules, as otherwise he might be removed from the family and never spoken to again. The drama and comedy are balanced out very well. If there are any potential flaws with the movie, the 3rd act does go on for a little too long. As for how accurate it is (as it’s based on a true story) I can’t comment, but given the people who wrote this movie, I’ll just say that it’s highly likely that its true.

The acting overall was really good for the movie. Kumail Nanjiani was hilarious and likable in his role (as himself), but also handles the dramatic scene very well, you really care about him. Equally as great is Zoe Kazan as Emily, Kumail’s girlfriend. The chemistry between the two is perfect, they are so likable and fun to watch. The supporting actors are also great, particularly the parents of Emily, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. They were also so entertaining and also have some great moments.

I am truly surprised at how much I loved The Big Sick. It is fantastically written, hilarious, emotional, real, unpretentious and its just so great overall. If you don’t like romantic comedies, I still recommend seeing it, as someone who doesn’t like romantic comedies either, I thoroughly loved this movie, it is a lot different than you’d think this movie would be. The Big Sick is one of the best films of 2017 and is definitely worth checking out.

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.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Review

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Time: 151 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
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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Click here for my review of the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the superior version of the film

Batman v Superman has been 3 years in the making and it has been my most anticipated movie of 2016 ever since its announcement. So much was riding on this movie to succeed, with it having to establish Batman, Wonder Woman with cameos from the Justice League, all in one film. Even though the film’s premiere received critical acclaim, the reviews started to worry me, with the Rotten Tomato score being around 30%. However after watching the movie, I have to say that I’m very satisfied with what we got in the end. The acting from its very talented cast and the direction from Zack Snyder was great, but it’s the script from writer Chris Terrio which ties it all together, and sets up the DC Cinematic Universe perfectly.

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When you compare Dawn of Justice to Man of Steel, you will notice how significantly the writing’s improved and that’s all thanks to Chris Terrio. This film doesn’t rely on a lot of action scenes to move the plot along like the previous movie, it really for the most part follows Clark and Bruce’s inner struggles as they are trying to find their place in the world as well as the conflict between them. I know from the reviews that this put people off as there’s not a whole lot of them saving the world or even physically fighting each other but I appreciate the risks that the movie took. This isn’t your typical comic book film. This movie had a lot of elements that they had to incorporate with the Justice League forming and I thought the film managed to pull it off quite well. As for the cameos of the other Justice League members, they were done well, to some they would probably feel a little forced but I have a feeling that was supposed to feel forced, it’s just a little taste of what’s to come. I will just say this, the final act is absolutely incredible, not only on an entertaining level but on an emotional level too, the ending is one of the best comic book endings I’ve ever seen, you’ll never see it coming.

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I will say that looking back at the film, there were some elements that felt missing. For example, one element that I wished the film delved deep into was Lex’s motivation. I’ll go onto the performance later but I have a feeling that there is a scene explaining Lex Luthor’s perspective on Superman that was missing, which is a shame as that would’ve made his character even more compelling. I know that there is a 3 hour cut that will come to Blu Ray, maybe that might fix the problems but for the most part the movie really works on its own. Now onto the elements that might divide some people. Ben Affleck’s Batman is very hardcore, this is like Dark Knight Returns and Thomas Wayne Flashpoint Batman. There are moments where his actions lead to many deaths and that might be hard for some viewers to stomach after Bale’s ‘no kill’ portrayal. Also this movie is 3 times darker than Man of Steel so if you found that movie hard to watch, you will be horrified with this movie. As I said before, this isn’t your typical comic book movie, it’s quite unconventional, so that might alienate some people.

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The performances were phenomenal. I’ll start with Henry Cavill, I have a feeling he will be forgotten as a result of being overshadowed by Affleck and he really shouldn’t. He was given a lot more to work with than in Man of Steel and after this movie, he is my personal favourite version of Superman. Unlike other versions there is a humanity and relatability that Cavill infuses that makes us really care for him, this was seen especially in his scenes with Lois played by Amy Adams, who was also great and shares better chemistry with him than in the previous film. No matter what anyone thinks about the movie, most people agree with one aspect, Ben Affleck was incredible as Batman. He was incredibly dark and has a history and every moment he’s on screen, Affleck sells it. His relationship with Alfred (played Jeremy Irons, who also does an excellent job) was also entertaining to watch, I just can’t wait for the Batman solo movies. Keaton’s and Bale’s Batman roles needed to perfectly play the Bruce Wayne and Batman roles, and both of them really did one aspect better than the other (Keaton did Batman better and Bale did Wayne better). Affleck was the first actor to nail both Bruce Wayne and Batman perfectly. We didn’t see a lot of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman but when she’s on screen she is great, and she stole the show in the third act. I’m now even more looking forward to seeing her solo movie next year.

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The other supporting cast was also great with Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne and others being quite good in this movie. The one divisive performance will be Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. If you thought he looked a little over the top in the 2nd trailer, just wait till you see how he is here. From my limited knowledge of Lex Luthor in the comics, he is quite different from this incarnation, but this was such a strong decision that I have a feeling he will be developed more as the films go on. I personally liked the performance, this was a more crazy portrayal of Lex Luthor, and he worked quite well for the film as he manipulates the dark knight and the man of steel to fight. However I can’t guarantee that you will love his performance, as his performance has so far divided many.

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As this is Zack Snyder directing, the visuals look very beautiful. One of my issues with Man of Steel was the cinematography, it adopted more of a handheld sort of camera work and while that worked for the most part, it could’ve been done better. This time, it has a much steadier direction as Snyder this time used his cinematographer from Watchmen. As I said earlier, there aren’t as many action scenes as there was in Man of Steel but all of them are done excellently. There are so many memorable scenes, the beautiful opening credits sequence, the flashback to Metropolis’s destruction from Bruce Wayne’s perspective, the Knightmare sequence (which features an incredible one take moment) and more. The fight between Batman and Superman, while a little short, was still enthralling to watch. The final act in its entirety was great, especially the final battle featuring the trinity. Last but not least is the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL. All of it was great, from Batman’s theme, to Lex’s theme, to Superman’s theme as well as the fight between Batman and Superman. However I’ll just say that Wonder Woman’s theme was my favourite of the lot.

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From my first viewing, I can say that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now one of my favourite comic book movies of all time. The performances were great, with standouts from Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg, Zack Snyder directed this movie beautifully and Chris Terrio gave even more depth to this movie than most would initially expect. Looking at the mixed reactions from both critics and fans, I’m not entirely sure if you will like this movie or not, and I can understand how some elements might rub people the wrong way. However I think you should watch it and make up your own mind about it. For me, this was an incredibly satisfying experience. Don’t wait for it to come out on Blu Ray, see it on the biggest screen that you can find as soon as possible.