Tag Archives: J.K. Simmons

The Tomorrow War (2021) Review

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The Tomorrow War

Time: 138 Minutes
Cast:
Chris Pratt as James Daniel “Dan” Forester Jr.
Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Muri Forester
J.K. Simmons as James Daniel Forester Sr.
Betty Gilpin as Emmy Forester
Sam Richardson as Charlie
Edwin Hodge as Dorian
Director: Chris McKay

The world is stunned when a group of time travellers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: thirty years in the future, mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species.

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I had seen The Tomorrow War advertised a lot, an Amazon Prime sci-fi movie starring Chris Pratt. I wasn’t that interested in it initially, it looked a fairly generic sci-fi action movie about an alien invasion. Still, I heard that some people liked it, so I decided to check it out. It has its issues, but it was better than I expected it to be.

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A lot of the writing for The Tomorrow War is quite generic, but it was better than I thought it would be. The story is reasonably easy to follow, and it had more heart than I expected, with good character drama which doesn’t feel forced and elevates the movie a bit. The dramatic and tragic moments don’t quite have the desired impact that they could have, but again it was more than I was expecting. Really this aspect with the drama without spoiling anything is really the most surprising aspect of the movie. The rest of it isn’t anything special, which is disappointing because it actually had a lot of potential to be more. The premise is quite interesting, but they don’t really do much with it, and by the end of it is only just Chris Pratt vs Aliens. The writing involving time travel is rather lazy, and there are certain points where you don’t want to think too hard about the story because you’ll notice how convenient many of the events and plot points are. A lot of the characters aren’t that special, the protagonist is the only person here that gets fleshed out enough. Some of the side characters move in and out of the plot like they’re passing back and forth through a revolving door, a few of them are interesting but we don’t get much time to learn about them. There are some long action sequences, and it seems like that was the main focus, thankfully the film delivers on those. Despite the drama in the film, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and you can have fun with it. There’s a number of jokes in the movie, most of them don’t work but are fine enough. It can have some bad dialogue but you can get past them. The movie is quite long at 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and it’s at least 20 minutes too long. The pacing works at some points and doesn’t work at others. Some scenes drag on a bit but the pacing isn’t terrible.

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Chris Pratt in this movie is just playing Chris Pratt, much like many of his other film appearances. To be fair, he was better than I thought he would be. He’s not great, but he delivered the role just well enough for me to follow along with him as the protagonist. Yvonne Strahovski was really good, Sam Richardson is funny and entertaining whenever he’s on screen, and J.K. Simmons makes his presence felt despite his limited screentime. Betty Gilpin is in this movie as Chris Pratt’s wife, she is rather underutilised but does a lot in her scenes. I know that I’m not the only one to think this, but I think that the movie would be a lot better if the two of them switched roles.

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The director of the movie is Chris McKay, who previously made The Lego Batman movie. This makes The Tomorrow War his live action debut, and it was pretty good. Amazon put a lot of money into this movie and you can definitely tell, it certainly looks very expensive. The visuals are stunning and on the whole, the movie is very well shot. The special effects generally work, though the climax goes particularly CGI heavy, and some of the effects look a little odd in places. There is a lot of action, with some fun and satisfying set pieces, I think there’s enough good action to make it worth watching for that alone. The action definitely has some issues, there are some periods where characters would continuously fire endless amounts of bullets without reloading, an example being in the first half of the movie where characters descend stairs and keep shooting at aliens without reloading. Speaking of which, the aliens are one of the highlights of the film. There are plenty of sci-fi alien invasion movies and with the movie seeming quite typical of the sub-genre, I wrote off the aliens pretty early on. That is until they actually appeared on screen. Not only was the alien reveal done very well along with the effective build up, but their designs and movements were well done, and they managed to be threatening and dangerous. The score from Lorne Balfe does feel a bit derivative of other sci-fi scores but was a nice addition, and it does add a lot to the action scenes.

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The Tomorrow War is another typical sci-fi alien invasion movie and unfortunately doesn’t become more than that. However some of the performances, the action, and even some of the drama makes the movie a decent and enjoyable viewing. So if you enjoy sci-fi action movies, it might be worth a watch.

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.

Palm Springs (2020) Review

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Palm Springs

Time: 90 minutes
Cast:
Andy Samberg as Nyles
Cristin Milioti as Sarah Wilder
J. K. Simmons as Roy
Peter Gallagher as Howard Wilder
Director: Max Barbakow

While stuck at a wedding in Palm Springs, Nyles (Andy Samberg) meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor and family black sheep. After he rescues her from a disastrous toast, Sarah becomes drawn to Nyles and his offbeat nihilism. But when their impromptu tryst is thwarted by a surreal interruption, Sarah must join Nyles in embracing the idea that nothing really matters, and they begin wreaking spirited havoc on the wedding celebration.

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I had heard of Palm Springs for a while now, it had been receiving a lot of praise. All I really knew about it was that it was a comedy, Andy Samberg was in it, and it’s yet another one of those movies that involves time loops. I really wasn’t expecting much from it honestly, but it actually lived up to the hype and praise. Palm Springs was one of the most enjoyable movies of the year, with a fresh and great script and some really good performances.

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As I said earlier, Palm Springs is another time travel movie about protagonists being stuck in time loops repeating the same day, with films with similar concepts including Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, and Happy Death Day. It’s a worn-out formula but thankfully this movie has a fresh take on it, making sure not to fall into the clichés that other films of this type do. The script is smart, creative and inventive, keeping you engaged and entertained all the way through. One of the biggest surprises is that even though this film is more comedy than drama, actually has depth and was more thoughtful than I thought it would be, with it actually being a heartfelt look at loneliness and life itself, on top of it being a funny time loop movie. However, it’s also very funny, it’s not one of the funniest movies I’ve seen or anything, but at the very least it was enjoyable to watch from beginning to end. The movie is about an hour and 30 minutes long and that was about the right length for the plot. In terms of issues with the plot, the last 20 minutes or so do feel a little out of place as it does seem a bit awkward when it’s trying to tie things up at the end, it just felt a little bit generic unfortunately, but even then it didn’t bother me too much.

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Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are in the lead roles and are fantastic on their parts. I really mainly know Samberg from Brooklyn 99, I liked him in that and he’s also great here. He was perfectly cast in this role, he works very well on the comedy side, but also on the drama side. However, it was Milioti who stood out the most between them and was even better. Those two share some great chemistry and are the strongest parts of the movie, and that’s saying a lot considering the solid script. The supporting cast is good too but the standout from all of them was J.K. Simmons, who isn’t in the movie a ton but is a scene stealer for sure.

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Palm Springs is directed well by Max Barbakow, and it definitely serves the solid script very well. While there’s not a lot to say about it compared to say the writing and the acting, it is edited well and it’s a great looking movie, especially with the colour palette, and the use of music was very effective.

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Palm Springs is a really solid and creative comedy, which has a fresh take on the time loop comedy, and was fun to watch. It’s heartfelt, it’s funny, it’s very well written, and it was all around enjoyable to watch. However, it is the fantastic performances from and on-screen pairing of Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti that shines the most. It is one of the biggest surprises when it comes to movies from 2020, and is definitely worth watching.

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.

The Snowman (2017) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole
Rebecca Ferguson as Katrine Bratt
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Rakel Fauke
Val Kilmer as Gert Rafto
J. K. Simmons as Arve Støp
Toby Jones as Investigator Svenson
Director: Tomas Alfredson

For Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), the death of a young woman during the first snowfall of winter feels like anything but a routine homicide. His investigation leads him to “The Snowman Killer,” an elusive sociopath who continuously taunts Hole with cat-and-mouse games. As the vicious murders continue, Harry teams up with a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Fergusson) to try and lure the madman out of the shadows before he can strike again.

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I remember The Snowman being one of my most anticipated films of 2017, however upon its release, I heard it was utterly disastrously bad. I had been meaning to getting around to it sometime, and I remember watching it sometime the past year or so, and while I don’t hate it as much as other people, it wasn’t good. It is a complete mess, and not a very interesting or entertaining mess at that. Only some of the performances and the decent cinematography are holding the movie back from being a failure on every front.

The Snowman is based off a novel of the same name, I never read the book, but I’ve heard it is great and is probably not done justice in the movie. The Snowman has a bizarre feeling throughout, and not really the one intended. Much of the way things are played seriously come across as being unintentionally hilarious. For one, the lead character played by Michael Fassbender is named Harry Hole, which immediately opens up so many obvious jokes. Harry Hole was the name of the lead character in the book, however it was pronounced something like Harry Holy, so they could’ve either pronounced it that way or just changed it, but they didn’t. However, the name thing is just a minor issue in a movie full of major issues. The script itself wasn’t that good, its full of familiar serial killer and thriller tropes and doesn’t really do anything unique, but the story itself isn’t particularly interesting either. The first act had me on board, it wasn’t good but it was starting out, so I was willing to give it a chance. However, at the end of the first act, I began to realise that the plot hadn’t really started yet. It threw in a bunch of subplots with a bunch of random characters, and it became incredibly hard to follow anything that was going on. There is a subplot with Val Kilmer that the movie would randomly cut to, it’s only later that you learn why he’s somewhat important, but it’s really distracting when he seemingly has nothing to do with the plot and it kept focussing on him. Then there’s also a subplot with J.K. Simmons and I don’t remember why the movie spent so much time with him. The Snowman is also not very engaging, it’s just tedious to watch. The 2 hour runtime feels closer to 2 hours and 30 minutes. I will say that the experience is improved by doing literally anything while watching it, so if you have a computer or phone in front of you while watching, it’s an alright way of watching it. The third act is incredibly rushed, and if the movie hadn’t already gone to its lowest point, it certainly did by then. When the killer was revealed, it wasn’t necessarily something I predicted, but it was also something I didn’t really care for. By the time the reveal happened I had lost any shred of interest in the plot, but I’m not entirely certain that the character got any setup or hints suggesting that they would be the killer. It’s also worth noting that the director admitted that there was a short filming schedule and that 10 to 15% of the script remained unfilmed, leading to narrative problems when editing commenced. While I’m sure that the film would’ve retained much of its problems even with the extra footage, it definitely would’ve made the movie at least more comprehensible than how it turned out. At the end they even try to tease a possible sequel with Fassbender’s Hairy Hole (since there’s a book series featuring him, The Snowman is not just a one-off) which probably won’t happen.

This movie has such a great cast and doesn’t manage to use any of them to their fullest potential. Most of them aren’t bad and they are trying their best, however they aren’t great either. Michael Fassbender’s Harry Hole is disjointed, and I don’t mean that in a good way. His character is an alcoholic but there’s no real reason given as to why he is one. Everyone also keeps mentioning how he’s some kind of legendary detective, but we get nothing to see to really back it up. There’s no real defined character for him and he is all over the place, in that it feels like the writers didn’t know what to do with him. Fassbender played him as best as possible given what he had to work with, but needless to say this is far from his best work. Rebecca Ferguson is also the other lead in the movie and also does what she can, however she also doesn’t have much to work with and can only do so much. Charlotte Gainsbourg is pretty good as Hairy Hole’s ex-husband, but again there’s really only so much she could do in her role. The rest of the cast of characters seem out of place and pointless. J.K. Simmons is here playing some shady business tycoon, who I guess is one of the suspects or something (it’s hard to remember), but he doesn’t really add to anything. Not to mention he’s doing this random Scandinavian accent that really does nothing to help his performance at all. Toby Jones is also here for some reason, even though his character could be played by literally anyone. No one in the rest of the cast is really worth mentioning with the exception of one notable actor, and that is Val Kilmer in a supporting role as some detective that the film would cut to occasionally. Kilmer is not looking quite like himself, and it’s not from intentional makeup, he was actually suffering from a form of mouth cancer. That probably explains why his mouth is not moving that well and why there is terrible and out of sync dubbing, with someone’s voice that is clearly not his. Maybe he was put into the movie as like a favour but for his own sake it might’ve been better if they got someone else to play the role.

I like the director Tomas Alfredson, who also made Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let the Right One In (the latter of which I haven’t seen yet). He’s clearly a more than capable director, yet for some reason parts of the direction just wasn’t working here. The cinematography by Dion Beebe is one of the best parts of the movie, it actually looks quite stunning, especially in the scenes taking place amongst a lot of snow. It does elevate the movie just a bit, so it’s not an ugly looking movie. The music choices were terrible, most of the score is fine if generic and uninspired. As for the non-score bits, there are some other songs that randomly make an appearance and don’t fit in at all with the movie. The editing in many of the scenes is terrible, the editing between the scenes is jarring and doesn’t fit together but even some scenes have been cut up very roughly. Many of the ‘tense’ scenes are just disjointed that they’re hard to get into.

The Snowman is such wasted potential, and I’m not sure how this movie ended up the misfire it was. At best it’s an average but good looking and passable thriller, at worst it’s a disastrous, laughable mess of a film, that shouldn’t have been approved for release. I guess it might be okay to watch if it’s on in the background as that’s what I did, and I didn’t hate it that way (I can only imagine what it was like seeing it in the cinema). However, if you are like a fan of the book or are genuinely looking forward to the movie, you’ll be disappointed with this movie. I don’t put this up to American adaptations ruining the book or whatever, after all David Fincher did well adapting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another Swedish thriller. Hopefully, The Snowman will get the proper live action treatment that it deserves.

Whiplash (2014) Review

Time: 168 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Offensive language and content that may disturb

Cast:
Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman
J. K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher
Paul Reiser as Jim Neiman
Melissa Benoist as Nicole
Director: Damien Chazelle

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, in pursuit of rising to the top of his elite music conservatory. Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor known for his terrifying teaching methods, discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into the top jazz ensemble, forever changing the young man’s life. But Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher pushes him to the brink of his ability and his sanity.

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I remember when I first saw Whiplash in early 2015, I had been hearing all of the hype and acclaim that it has been receiving and I figured I should watch it since it was being nominated for some awards. All I really knew going in was it was pretty much about a jazz drummer, with a somehow even grumpier J. Jonah Jameson being really mean as the jazz teacher. That’s what the mindset I had going into the movie, and I really didn’t know what to expect outside of that. I was not prepared for how phenomenally great this movie would be. Whiplash remains one of the most affecting movies I have ever seen and one of my most memorable movie experiences.

At an hour and 46 minutes in length, Whiplash is riveting from start to finish. I literally could not do anything else but watch until the movie had ended, and I can’t say that about too many movies. The idea about people being pushed (and pushing themselves) to perfection is definitely one of the most present ideas throughout the movie, and it’s really explored by both its main characters. It can be anxiety inducing and uncomfortable at points, however you just can’t look away, I just had to know how the everything would end. It also has one of the best third acts I have seen a film to date, so incredibly exhilarating, thrilling and satisfying. By the end I just felt very exhausted in the best way possible.

Miles Teller doesn’t get enough praise for his performance here, he’s often overshadowed by his co-star J.K. Simmons, who I’ll get to in a minute. Teller’s Andrew Neiman is not meant to necessarily be likable. However, you can still somewhat understand why he does the things that he does and you are right alongside him throughout his journey and change over the course of the movie. This is the best performance that Miles Teller has given in his career thus far and I do wish that more attention went towards his work here. When people usually think of Whiplash, even if they haven’t seen it themselves yet, they usually think of J.K. Simmons. His performance is outstanding and commands such an intimidating presence whenever he’s on screen. He can be extremely intense and scary when he flips out on people but he could be even funny at points. It’s for sure one of the most memorable supporting performances I’ve ever seen in a movie. Other supporting actors like Paul Reiser as Andrew’s father and Melissa Benoist as Andrew’s girlfriend also play their roles very well in their scenes.

Damian Chazelle directed this movie extremely well, it is so incredibly well edited and put together. The music naturally was fantastic, so well applied to the movie. While yes, the story itself is riveting, Whiplash wouldn’t work without Chazelle’s handle of the whole movie. It is a movie about Jazz and drumming, but Chazelle made all these scenes so incredibly entertaining and thrilling.

While 2014 was a year full of fantastic films with the likes of Interstellar, Birdman and Gone Girl, Whiplash is my favourite film of that year. It was completely riveting, and with Damien Chazelle’s phenomenal direction and writing, and fantastic performances from both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, I absolutely loved it. It’s been 4 years since I first saw the movie and the effect it had on me still hasn’t worn off. Chazelle would continue to make more films, with La La Land and First Man also being excellent films, and I can’t wait to see even more from him. However, Whiplash is still for me his best film to date.

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.

Spider-Man 3 (2007) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
James Franco as Harry Osborn/New Goblin
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman
Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom
Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
James Cromwell as George Stacy
Director: Sam Rami

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) seem to finally be on the right track in their complicated relationship, but trouble looms for the superhero and his lover. Peter’s Spider-Man suit turns black and takes control of him, not only giving Peter enhanced power but also bringing out the dark side of his personality. Peter must overcome the suit’s influence as two supervillains, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), rise up to destroy him and all those he holds dear.

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Spider-Man 3 unlike it’s previous entries has received a lot of negativity from critics and fans alike. I’m part of the minority of people who really like this movie. I liked the story, the acting, and Sam Rami’s direction, just like with the previous Spider-Man movies. But of course I’m not going to act like it doesn’t have a lot of problems, there is way too much in this movie, which ultimately holds back the movie from being as great as it could be. Despite this, many aspects of the plot itself are great, and it’s a solid movie overall.

Tonally, this is the most serious of the Rami Spider-Man movies, and with Peter going through different stages of his life throughout these movies, it did feel appropriate. There are some moments of humour though, some of them worked, others… not so much. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long, I was never really bored throughout but I definitely felt the running time, which is ironic since this movie might’ve actually needed more time. Ultimately the biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is that there is way too much going on. There’s Peter and Mary Jane’s romance, Sandman’s story which ties into Peter, the symbiote black suit that Peter comes in contact with and changes him, there’s Harry and Peter’s story, there is so much going on. If you want to know what went wrong, Sony basically forced Sam Rami to put the character of Venom into the movie, which is an incredible major plotline as it meant having a segment of Peter wearing the suit and also Venom being created, and there’s already so many plotlines in the movie. If Spider-Man 3 just had Mary Jane and Peter’s romance, Sandman’s story and Harry’s story, that would’ve been enough. But because of the amount of stories going on, the handling of the plotlines at times can be clumsy and poor. There are some really bad plot decisions made in the handling of the stories sometimes, for example early in the movie there’s a fight between Peter and Harry which results in Harry losing his memory, basically putting his revenge storyline on hold or about an hour, while all the other plots and subplots continue. It feels lazy and almost like a slap in the face after the buildup for this story in 2, here it almost feels like an afterthought of a subplot. There are two moments of conflict between Peter and Harry which are done very well, which shows hints of what could’ve been had that aspect been handled a lot better.

Another point of criticism is that this movie has 3 villains and while I like each of these villains, yet again, the film felt overstuffed with them. It’s like all these plotlines and villains are taking turns to have the spotlight, first its Harry, then it’s Sandman, then it’s Harry again, then it’s Venom and Sandman, it’s very jarring when it just keeps switching plotlines when the former plotlines are like put into hibernation or something. Speaking of Venom, an infamous part of the movie is how it handled the black suit plotline. Sometimes the black suit plotline really worked, like when it ties into Sandman. However it generally doesn’t reach its full potential. The film does partially take this in a more comedic direction. For example, after wearing the suit for a long period of time, Peter becomes ‘Emo Peter’, culminating in him acting all ‘edgy’ and ‘badass’ and ‘cool’, a lot of this is done for comedy. For example there are a couple of over the top scenes, one is a montage (set to the tune of ‘People get up and Drive your Funky Soul’ by James Brown), which despite it’s over the top nature I enjoyed because it is probably what would happen if a nerd like Peter grew an ego and thought he was cool. The other is full on dance routine in a Jazz Club, which is quite possibly the worst Spider-Man scene ever filmed. So obviously, mixed results. Not to say that I didn’t like it but the black suit arc really could’ve been done better. The last act, while enjoyable, is pretty rushed. Even the couple of very brief scenes after the climax seems to end incredibly quickly. Honestly while I liked all these plotlines, they definitely feel like they didn’t meet their potential, due to all of them crammed into one movie. I know I probably came across that I hated them, but the truth is that they could’ve been done a lot better.

Tobey Maguire once again is Peter Parker/Spider-Man and once again he is really good. I will say that I found myself not liking Peter early in the movie (even before he gets the black suit), especially when it came to Mary Jane, but I felt that was intentional (possibly because he was gaining a bit of an ego as Spider-Man) however that really didn’t get explored because of all the other plotlines. Now as for those 20 minutes where Peter is ‘Emo Peter’, even if you hate what was done with him, you gotta give credit to Maguire for throwing himself into what he was told to do, literally dancing in the streets with absolutely no shame at all. I even started to like Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. The romance aspect, while not exactly good, is done a lot better than in the previous movies. Mary Jane isn’t used as a ‘superhero girlfriend’ like she was in the first two movies (she only needs saving once in the entire movie), here they actually start to somewhat develop her. But the romance can be a bit frustrating, not for any cheesiness but because Peter and Mary Jane do make some bad decisions in their relationship, so the romance isn’t that good. James Franco is once again good as Harry Osborn. Unfortunately for him, after a few scenes early in the movie, once Harry loses his memory he doesn’t get much to do until like the second half of the movie. Thomas Haden Church is Flint Marko/Sandman, who is for me a very underrated comic book movie villain. Like Doc Ock, he is a lot deeper and sympathetic as a character, with Marko trying to help his dying daughter. He’s also a lot more consistent with his actions, there’s no moments where he’s gleefully committing evil deeds just for the fun of it (which Doc Ock occasionally did in Spider-Man 2). Out of the three villains I felt that he was used the best. However I will say that some aspects of the resolution of his story (particularly his last scene) did feel open and not fully concluded.

Topher Grace is Eddie Brock/Venom and I’m not quite sure how to feel about him. While his human form Eddie Brock is given motivations which work okay, he’s not that compelling as a character, nor does he have enough screentime. I think the biggest problem with Venom is that Brock wasn’t that interesting or deep of a character before he turned into Venom. Also once again, Rami didn’t even want Venom in the movie, so he does feel a little out of place and is probably why we don’t get a whole lot of time with him. At the very least though, Grace acted the Eddie Brock role fine and seemed to be having a great time playing Venom, I don’t think any of the issues of the character are on him. The other supporting cast are pretty good with Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell and others. J.K. Simmons once again returns as J. Jonah Jameson, very enjoyable and entertaining as always. One role that did feel out of place was Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), Bryce was fine in the role but Stacy didn’t really have much point to be there in the film (and she is a big deal in the comics). And I thought I’d mention, Bruce Campbell has the best cameo in the entire Spider-Man trilogy, he deserves a mention because he’s Bruce Campbell. And he’s awesome.

The quality of the CGI in Spider-Man 3 is around the level of Spider-Man 2. There is some noticeable green screen and fake CGI at times, but then again Spider-Man 2 did have some moments of fake CGI, so I will overlook it (not to mention Spider-Man 3 was made a decade ago). I will say that the CGI slightly worked better in 2 though, probably because it wasn’t on that large of a scale with what they tried to create and have. The CGI for the black suit and Venom was really good, visually he looked great. The action scenes were all around filmed really well, from the first fight between Peter and Harry to the climax with Spider-Man, Harry, Venom and Sandman. The last act is entertaining, aside from the CGI for Sandman, what they did with him in the third act was really over the top, and ended up being kind of silly. I liked all the soundtracks for the Spider-Man trilogy, but 3 has quite possibly my favourite from the whole trilogy, this time it’s done by Christopher Young.

I will not deny that Spider-Man 3 could’ve and should’ve been a lot better. It had a lot of potential and great ideas but they’ve all been shoved all into this movie and the film became so bloated that they had to alter and change the plotlines so that they could fit in, which really negatively affected the film overall. With that said, the movie is good, and it honestly does have some great parts to it. All the issues aside, a lot of the aspects from the first two movies with the acting, direction and even some of the story are here, so I don’t notice that much of a difference from the first two films. The storylines are at the very least okay, and the action is really great. I consider this movie on par with all the other Spider-Man movies except for 2 (2 is still by far the best Spider-Man film yet). It had some of the elements and potential of being the best Spider-Man, but having too much really held it back.

Spider-Man (2002) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin
James Franco as Harry Osborn
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
Director: Sam Rami

“Spider-Man” centers on student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) who, after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider, gains superhuman strength and the spider-like ability to cling to any surface. He vows to use his abilities to fight crime, coming to understand the words of his beloved Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

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With Spiderman Homecoming coming in under a couple months, I decided to check out all the Spider-Man movies. Honestly, I dreaded rewatching the first movie, because it seemed really cheesy and didn’t hold up that well, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t really like it. I was actually surprised at how much I liked it. It is very entertaining and well put together by Sam Rami. Not all of it holds up, but some of it surprisingly does, it’s enjoyable at the very least.

The first thing I noticed about Spider-Man is that the story moves at a surprisingly fast pace, Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider and earns his powers in the first 5-10 minutes. In a way, the fast pacing does work, it’s just a little jarring seeing a comic book movie (especially for an origin story) to move this fast. One downside to this is that I wasn’t really that invested in the story. After Peter becomes Spider-Man, it then becomes a standard comic book movie, it’s nothing really that special, it’s just a reasonably entertaining comic book movie (not that this is a bad thing though). The movie is very easy to follow, and its very difficult to get bored in. Now a part of the movie which is obvious looking back at it now is that it is very cheesy and campy, with some of the ideas, dialogue and decisions made. However, there is a bit of a charm to it, so I can’t say that it bothered me too much… it only bothered me occasionally. Most of the dialogue is cheesy and some of it is kind of stupid and hard to take seriously at times, especially when it comes to the romance between Peter and Mary Jane. The way that the movie handles the Green Goblin was very hit or miss, not just the way they took his character, but the dialogue and all that, way too over the top, couldn’t take him seriously as a villain for most of the movie. But I’ll get into that later. Overall, Spider-Man’s plot is generally good and fast paced, entertaining but nothing special, you’ve all seen this type of comic book movie before.

Tobey Maguire is really good as Spider-Man, he perfectly delivers on the geeky side of Peter Parker, and is quite likable in his role. With that said, he wasn’t always great, but that’s to do with the writing. After Uncle Ben’s death and after he becomes Spider-Man, his character development seems to almost stop. In 2 and 3 he is given more to do. I didn’t feel that he was quite a 3 dimensional character yet, but he still worked well for the movie. Kirsten Dunst is Mary Jane Watson, Dunst is a great actress but in these movies, she’s sadly not given much to work with, especially this movie. Her character isn’t really that great, and the awkward dialogue between her and Maguire makes it hard to see any believable chemistry. But she does the best she can. Willem Dafoe is Norman Osborn/Green Goblin and I have to say that is one of the best comic book movie casting decisions ever made. As for what I think of the performance itself… I have mixed feelings. I know plenty of people love Green Goblin in this movie, but I won’t lie, I’m not a big fan of him. I really liked Willem Dafoe when he was Norman Osborn. However when he’s Green Goblin he goes really over the top, and it’s just hard to take him seriously (especially when he’s in the Goblin suit). He’s literally singing “Itsy bitsy spider”, saying cliché 1960s era villain lines, all the things that comic book movie villains do and say. Even as Norman, he has some goofy moments when he is talking to himself in the mirror or literally talking to the Goblin mask (which is just sitting on a chair and the Goblin voice is coming out of it), it’s hard to not find these scenes unintentionally hilarious. It wouldn’t be so bad except it feels like the film wants to take Goblin seriously as a villain, most of the time he just comes across as a Power Rangers villain. I’m not at any point intimidated by him, I find him ridiculous. I will say at the very least, Dafoe seemed to be having an absolute blast going absolute nuts. And to be fair, Goblin does get a couple great scenes, one on a rooftop, and the other is the final fight with Spider-Man. We also get supporting performances from James Franco, J.K. Simmons and others which were also pretty good. And we get a Bruce Campbell cameo, which is always great.

A lot of the CGI hasn’t held up well and in most of the big action scenes, Spiderman and Green Goblin look very rubbery and fake, and at times it looked like it was a videogame. The action itself is pretty well filmed. With that said, most of the action wasn’t that great, nowadays it looks a little goofy and was a little underwhelming, (the action in the sequels definitely got better though). The last fight scene however is surprisingly brutal and intense, it was a very effective end action scene, that was definitely the best action scene in the movie. I will say, seeing Spiderman swinging around is always great to see, along with some other sequences like with the Spider-sense, that was also handled vey well. I liked the design for Spiderman’s costume, while the CGI for it wasn’t always the best, the design itself worked well, it never felt cartoonish, I could take it seriously. Green Goblin’s costume on the other hand…. was very cartoonish. He looks like a Power Rangers villain, not a Spider-Man villain, it’s just hard to take him seriously when he looks like that. Then again, I guess the costume matched the performance.

So, 15 years after it’s release, does Spider-Man hold up? The answer is yes and no. It’s easy to understand why Spider-Man had such a huge impact on the comic book movie genre. Spiderman (especially back then) isn’t an easy character to bring to the big screen, huge props to director Sam Rami. It’s not a perfect movie, the fast pace did lessen my investment in the story, it has some cheesy elements which don’t hold up (especially with regards to the Green Goblin) but at the same time there’s a real charm to it that makes most of these moments enjoyable. It is an entertaining movie at the very least.

Zootopia (2016) Review

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zootopia

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some scenes may scare very young children
Cast:
Ginnifer Goodwin as Officer Judy Hopps (voice)
Jason Bateman as Nicholas P. “Nick” Wilde (voice)
Idris Elba as Chief Bogo (voice)
Jenny Slate as Dawn Bellwether (voice)
Nate Torrence as Officer Benjamin Clawhauser (voice)
Bonnie Hunt as Bonnie Hopps (voice)
Don Lake as Stu Hopps (voice)
Tommy Chong as Yax (voice)
J.K. Simmons as Leodore Lionheart (voice)
Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Otterton (voice)
Alan Tudyk as Duke Weaselton (voice)
Shakira as Gazelle (voice)
Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore

From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a wily fox who makes her job even harder.

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Before seeing the movie, Zootopia didn’t interest me at all. It looked like a passable, ‘fun’ animated kids film, which could be poorly written or maybe even a little annoying. I don’t know, it never really looked that appealing to me. To my utter surprise, Zootopia was actually a really great movie. This film is quite smartly written and layered story, has memorable and likable characters, is very entertaining and has quite a lot of depth. Zootopia ended up being one of the most surprising movies of the entire year.

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This movie is very entertaining and hilarious, it’s fun to watch this movie and see this world which was created. Zootopia itself is very creative and unique, I’m impressed with how original it was, this is a super original movie, I’m surprised we haven’t gotten a movie like this sooner. But also, despite the trailers not showing it, Zootopia is actually quite a mature, deep and emotional movie. It almost feels like it was a film made for adults but with cute animals inserted into it. This film actually goes into some relevant issues such as racism, stereotypes and many others, and it’s all done in such a smart way. But it’s not ham fisted or forced, it’s subtle and it actually does have a purpose and benefited the movie immensely. This movie is so well written overall. If there’s any flaws with the movie, I guess the opening of the film has a whole lot of exposition just thrown at you all at once explaining the world, but that didn’t bother me a whole lot. Maybe it could’ve been done better but it was fine.

ZOOTOPIA – Pictured: Judy Hopps. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The characters were great and memorable and the voice actors were perfectly cast. The pair of the main two characters, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman) were so great and fun to watch, they had excellent chemistry together. There were other memorable characters as well such as Idris Elba’s Chief of Police Buffalo character, which were relentlessly entertaining. I won’t say too much about other memorable characters, you’ll just have to see them for yourself.

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It isn’t really surprising at all that the animation and design of the characters and the world was really great and overall done well. As I said earlier, Zootopia is very creative and the looks and designs of the world and characters really reflect that as well. It’s very easy to get sucked into this unique world that has been created. The soundtrack by Michael Giacchino was also really good and fitted the movie well.

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Zootopia surprisingly turned out to be one of the best movies of the year. It’s entertaining and fun but is also smartly written and was a much deeper movie than I was ever expecting it to be. You should definitely check out Zootopia out when you can, even if it doesn’t look that good to you, at least give it a try. Trust me, the movie is a lot better than the trailers and the marketing made it out to be.