Tag Archives: Kevin Costner

Man of Steel (2013) Retrospective Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El:
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Laurence Fishburne as Perry White
Antje Traue as Faora-Ul
Christopher Meloni as Colonel Nathan Hardy
Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van
Russell Crowe as Jor-El
Director: Zack Snyder

With the imminent destruction of Krypton, their home planet, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife seek to preserve their race by sending their infant son to Earth. The child’s spacecraft lands at the farm of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their own son. Though his extraordinary abilities have led to the adult Clark (Henry Cavill) living on the fringe of society, he finds he must become a hero to save those he loves from a dire threat.

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This is a SPOILER review. My original thoughts on Man of Steel are here.

I made a Man of Steel review many years ago, but after seeing the later DCEU films and upon further thought, I decided to do another review, because I wanted to give some updated thoughts on the movie, as well as going in depth with spoilers. I originally planned to release this review sometime in the foreseeable future, but after it recently being the 5 year anniversary of the film (13th of June 2013 to be exact, as you can tell my review is a little late), I decided to release it now. When I initially saw Man of Steel, I liked it but didn’t really love or think much about it. I thought it was a solid and different take on Superman, even if it wasn’t excellent. Having rewatched it over many times since its release, I’ve come to appreciate this movie a lot more. It’s has some minor issues but I still really love it.

Generally the first half of the story is more Clark’s origin story. Whereas the original Superman film told the story chronologically, Snyder decided to jump between Clark’s past and present, which was ultimately a good decision. While for some this was jarring (and very Batman Beginish), I thought it worked quite well. If it was just told through chronological order, it wouldn’t be as interesting. We already have a generally idea about Clark’s backstory, so having that play while telling the present story helps keep our interest. There might’ve been maybe a little too many flashbacks but I honestly wouldn’t know which one to cut out, each of them seemed necessary to show Clark’s arc and character in this movie. There are some truly great Superman scenes, some of them including Clark learning to fly for the first time and Superman surrendering to mankind. I’ll get to the controversial decisions regarding Superman later. The second half is Zod coming to earth. The third act is big and destructive. Some would said that it was senselessly destructive, I don’t think its necessarily the case, but I can get that there are aspects that they could’ve tweaked a little to improve it. I think the only time it was a little too over the top was the Smallville fight, and even then I liked the overall sequence.

The pacing was generally good, Man of Steel is around 2 hours and a half long and having seen the film multiple times I can’t pick out really any scene which drags or felt over long. The dialogue is mostly good, and a little mixed sometimes, at times it is very well written and there are some great lines for a Superman movie but at other times it is rather odd and silly. Most of the time it is perfectly fine, but the odd lines really do stand out, whether it feel too silly or too generic/familiar (e.g. “You’re a monster Zod, and I’m gonna stop you”). The humour, when it’s there is a little mixed as well, they are brief but some of them don’t really land well (the “I think he’s kinda hot” line near the end of the film being an example). In terms of any other story issues, there is a scene after the scene about Zod’s snapped neck, which is for the most part good but feels completely and tonally different from the previous scene, almost as if the previous scene never happened before. It would’ve been a little more effective to have an additional scene showing the continual impact of that scene.

Henry Cavill portrays a very different Superman than what we’ve seen before (at least in live action). This is a Superman who’s very conflicted, a Superman who’s not perfect, but most of all a Superman who’s learning. He also felt much more relatable as a character, yes the Christopher Reeve Superman to this day remains very effortlessly beloved but creating the cheesy Superman in today’s times just doesn’t work at all (just watch what Joss Whedon tried to do with him in Justice League). For some reason a lot of people found Cavill to be quite stiff here, I didn’t get that from his performance. I mean sure he’s not as quippy as some other versions of Superman but he still had his fair share of lighter moments and charisma, he’s not as charismatic as the real life Henry Cavill but very few people are. Henry Cavill’s Superman is one that I actually cared for. He’s not making constant quips but he’s not a constant brooder, they aren’t trying to make him the superhuman version of Batman. I find much of the ‘not muh Superman’ crowd’s criticisms to be strange to me. There are some people that have issues with this version of Superman. There are way too many complaints to go through, even in an in depth review, so I will just go through a couple of them. One of the major criticisms was the amount of people who died at the end. The truth is that you can’t save everyone in that situation, and with the exception of possibly the Smallville scene, in the climax, it is Zod and the Kryptonians who end up causing the vast majority of the destruction. In fact, Superman in the final fight with Zod really tries to take the fight away from the city but isn’t able to. Since we are going in depth with spoilers, we might as well talk about the controversial neck snapping scene. When Zod tries to kill some innocent civilians in the end of the final fight, Superman is forced to snap his neck to save them. To this day, I never understood why people hate that he did this. I can get if that they hate that Superman was put in this position, but between letting them die and killing Zod to save them, I think doing the latter was the better option. And on top of that, the film doesn’t just act like it was an easy, it was clearly really painful for him. At the very least, it was a lot more justified than Superman killing a depowered Zod in Superman 2 (I’ve noticed a lot of the “not muh Superman” crowd hold up Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies as the definitive Superman). Not to mention that plenty of comic book movie heroes nowadays kill people easily. I don’t mean this in judgemental of people who don’t like this version of Superman (it’s really not a big deal if you don’t), but I’ve noticed that people get extra specific when it comes to how the most popular comic book characters are portrayed in movies (speicifcally Superman, Batman and probably Spider-Man for instance) and there is a lot of backlash when they are different from previous adaptations or from the more common perception of the characters. I’m completely open to people trying new ways of approaching iconic characters. All in all, I don’t really have many problems with Cavill’s version of Superman, at least not with his first two movies.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane was great casting. While it’s not one of her best performances and some aspects about Lois here don’t work perfectly here, it gives her more to do than some other versions of Lois. I mean, Lois figures out by herself who Superman is, which by the way is a change that I really like. I know that it’s a classic comic book thing for Lois to never figure out that Clark Kent is Superman, but I find that less believable than no one recognising him as Superman because he wears glasses. So it was a refreshing change. The chemistry between Adams and Cavill isn’t perfect but it works okay enough for this movie. Michael Shannon is great as General Zod, the main antagonist of the film, and I have to say that he’s much better than Terrence Stamp’s Zod. Whereas Zod in Superman 2 just wanted to take over Earth… just because, Shannon’s Zod has reasons for what he’s doing, he wants to save his race. Zod here was also bred purely to advance his race unlike Clark, so it makes sense that he is single minded and bent upon this. When Superman destroys all chance of Krypton being rebuilt, he loses his people and his purpose. I think he might be one of the best comic book movie villains. Shannon does have his fair share of hammy and over the top moments (his “I will find him!” will forever remain a classic), but that makes him all the more entertaining. Besides, all things considering he might not be as over the top as Stamp’s Zod. All in all, Michael Shannon did a great job with a well written General Zod. Also, shout out to Antje Traue, as Faora, who despite being a supporting antagonist as Zod’s lieutenant, manages to leave a really strong impression, at least at the same as Zod. She particularly shines in her action scenes (Smallville battle being a stand out), and Traue and Zack Snyder made her a force to be reckoned with. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Clark’s adopted parents, they felt much more grounded than previous versions of the characters. This take on Kent’s adopted family has caused some controversy, particularly with Costner. For example, in a flashback after Clark saves a bus full of kids, Costner seems to hint that maybe Clark shouldn’t have saved them, because he wanted to keep his secret at least for now. While I can see why some people were polarised, I feel this makes the character more human. He thinks he’s doing the right thing but he’s not absolutely sure. It felt like a more appropriate take on the characters for nowadays and both Lane and Costner acted very well in the roles. Russell Crowe is also worth mentioning, as he is great as Superman’s real father Jor-El, getting much more to do than Brando in the Reeve films, especially in the opening scene. Other supporting actors like Laurence Fishburne do their part well.

Zack Snyder always has spectacularly looking movies, and Man of Steel is no exception. This movie looks incredible, the special effects are great, the designs of the ships, outfits and more are unique. Just a moment to focus on Superman’s costume, it is so incredibly well put together, beautifully designed and actually works in a modern setting. In fact on pretty much all levels, Snyder really made Superman work in a modern setting. All in all, Man of Steel just might be the best looking DCEU film, with it having slightly better CGI than Batman v Superman, off the top of my head there weren’t any moments that stood out to me as having bad CGI. It’s even more impressive after seeing some of what they did behind the scenes. For example, the suits of Zod and the Kryptonians were CGI, but they look completely practical in the actual movie. This film also successfully portrayed Superman’s power (including his strength, flight and laser vision) in the modern day. Other live action versions that have Superman nowadays (Supergirl and Justice League) do show off how powerful he and similar characters are, but it really lacks something, and makes him seem outdated, but Snyder’s version works well. Yes, it is very destructive but it feels somewhat grounded at the same time, it’s kind of hard to describe. It feels like how Superman would be if he existed in real life. The action was also great, fast, intense and impactful. Everything from the opening Krypton sequence, the oil rig fire scene, the Smallville fight and the final Superman vs Zod fight, everything works incredibly well. One aspect that was a slight annoyance was the occasionally handheld camerawork and the zoom ins and out. Its not bad and was actually quite effective at times but it wasn’t really necessary and was a little distracting at times. It does less bothersome the more I watch the movie however. Hans Zimmer’s score here is god-tier, amongst some of the best work he’s ever done, which is saying a lot. Also I know it might be a bit of a controversial opinion but I think it’s the best score for a Superman film yet.

Man of Steel is to me the best live action Superman film (solo at least) and one of the best superhero movies (top 10 at least). With its grounded and more modern take on Superman, the mostly good writing and Zack Snyder’s great direction, it actually worked. It does have some issues with its writing and plot, but what it gets right, it really gets right. It only gets better and better the more I watch it. Also it did something I didn’t think possible, it managed to get me to like Superman in the modern era and make him take him somewhat seriously (well, at least for two movies).

Molly’s Game (2017) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, drug use & offensive language
Cast
Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom
Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey
Kevin Costner as Larry Bloom
Michael Cera as Player X
Brian d’Arcy James as Brad
Chris O’Dowd as Douglas Downey
J. C. MacKenzie as Harrison Wellstone
Bill Camp as Harlan Eustice
Graham Greene as Judge Foxman
Jeremy Strong as Dean Keith
Director: Aaron Sorkin

The true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe.

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I was pretty interested in Molly’s Game. Not only does it have a cast with Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera and Kevin Costner and based on a true story, but also Aaron Sorkin along with writing the script would be making his directional debut with this film. Aaron Sorkin has written The Social Network, Steve Jobs, A Few Good Men, Moneyball and much more, so naturally I was excited to see how he would do. For a directional debut, Aaron Sorkin did a pretty great job. Molly’s Game is a very good movie with the script and the performances being the highlights.

Aaron Sorkin is a fantastic writer, so the fact that Molly’s Game is very well written shouldn’t come as such a big surprise. The dialogue is fantastic as to be expected. This really is a movie that requires you to fully focus on it because of how much information is shown, mostly through narration. There are some bits where it can be a bit complicated and I wasn’t fully grasping absolutely everything. However, even if you get lost at points, you can usually have a general understanding of what’s going on because the movie does pretty well at explaining most things. I was interested and riveted in this story from start to finish. In terms of flaws, the movie jumps between different time periods and while you can tell within the first 10 seconds which time period it is, it nonetheless feels very jarring when it does change. Also tis movie is long, its 2 hours and 20 minutes long and you can really feel the length. It doesn’t necessarily drag but you really do feel its length. With that said, off the top of my head I can’t think of any particular scene that I would remove but there would probably be some scenes that aren’t as relevant or important as others.

Jessica Chastain is typically great, she’s one of the best actresses working today and always brings her A game to ever movie she’s in. She’s playing a real life person who you are really rooting for. Very interesting character (real life person), which is compliment by an excellent performance by Chastain. Idris Elba is also really good as Molly’s lawyer. There are especially a couple scenes in the third act where he really gets to shine. Michael Cera is surprisingly really good, playing the character of Player X, who may or may not be based on Tobey Maguire (it definitely is). It’s a small role and he’s not in the movie too much but Cera does well to make an impression. On another note, when you are watching Molly’s Game, just picture Tobey Maguire in Michael Cera’s role, it makes things a lot more interesting and revealing. Kevin Costner also is good as Molly’s father, the two have a difficult and complicated relationship and Costner did very well in his role.

Aaron Sorkin did very well at directing Molly’s Game for a directional debut. The movie stylised and fast paced at times and it all fitted well together. There is a lot of narration, which often can feel like an easy way of dumping exposition but on top of the writing being excellent, Sorkin integrated it into the film very well. You can kind of tell that Sorkin’s writing in Molly’s Game is better than his direction, but that’s to be expected given that this is the first movie that he directed. Besides, for a first movie he did very well.

Molly’s Game is a really good movie, quite interesting and entertaining for the majority of the runtime. The performances were great (with Chastain, Elba and Cera being the highlights) and Aaron Sorkin was fantastic at both writing and directing here. I’m looking forward to seeing Aaron Sorkin direct more films because he showed that he can direct a solid movie, and I can only see him getting better and better at directing the more movies he makes.

Hidden Figures (2016) Review

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Goble Johnson
Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan
Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson
Kevin Costner as Al Harrison
Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell
Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford
Glen Powell as John Glenn
Mahershala Ali as Jim Johnson
Aldis Hodge as Levi Jackson
Director: Theodore Melfi

The incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

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Hidden Figures seemed interesting when I first heard of it. It had a large and very talented cast, an interesting premise and story, and yes, it got many nominations for awards. So, I was curious enough to check it out. However, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Hidden Figures is full of great performances, solid direction and also a very compelling story. Hidden Figures is really worth seeing, a pleasantly surprising movie.

The story in Hidden Figures was quite good. It’s easy to follow what’s going on throughout the movie, there was no confusion and I never felt bored throughout the movie. The leads were likeable (which was also helped by the lead actresses, which I’ll get into later), and so I was interested to watch what was going on. The stories were interesting for me, it was interesting seeing how big of a role these women had in historical events. Each of their stories was very interesting and it’s easy to be invested in their stories. As for how the bigotry is handled, it’s subtle, at no point does it seem over the top or forced for dramatic effect. This movie wasn’t put in black and white, the way people acted and the decisions made were more complex than most movies which portray this time period. It feels genuine and so its easy to believe what the characters are feeling when they encounter obstacles, almost experiencing what they are feeling. It was an easy movie to watch overall, not complicated but at the same time very enjoyable and interesting enough.

Hidden Figures has a very talented cast all around and they were all great here. The three main leads, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae were all fantastic, they were all very likable and believable in their roles. As I said, all of their stories are interesting to watch and these talented actresses really did carry their storylines well. If there is a main character between the three of them, I’d say that it’s Henson, she was personally a stand out to me. Other very talented actors like Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali and others were great in supporting roles.

The direction by Theodore Melfi was pretty good overall, this is the first film of his I’ve seen. The costume design, music, production design, soundtrack, everything fitted the time period well. So on top of the writing, story and acting, the direction made it a lot easier to be invested in this story. However it wasn’t really the highlight of the film, the story and acting were more the focus. Still solid direction nonetheless.

Hidden Figures is quite a good movie, the acting was great, direction was solid and the overall story was investing and riveting. It was interesting learning about all these events and how significant these people are. It definitely deserves the praise its been getting. Check out this movie when you get a chance. It’s not one that you need to immediately see, but I do think it’s worth a viewing.

Man of Steel (2013) Review

MAN OF STEEL

Man of Steel

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Michael Shannon as General Zod
Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White
Russell Crowe as Jor-El
Director: Zack Snyder

A young boy, Clark learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man (Henry Cavill), he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

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Man of Steel is a reboot of Superman and that has divided a lot of people. Some people say that it’s a good movie that does well in executing the new take on Superman, while others say that it is Hollywood garbage and is disrespectful to the comics. As someone who doesn’t read comic books but a fan of superhero movies, I personally enjoyed it despite some flaws in the writing. It’s an entertaining, visually stunning movie and for the direction that it was going for, it was well executed.

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The writing in Man of Steel isn’t bad but it is the weakest element of the movie. I quite liked the beginning of the movie; it shows Krypton’s destruction and the events of what took place there. That scene was actually done better here than the original Superman; with the original, Krypton’s look was quite basic and we don’t really see much of it. Here though, it is exciting to watch all these events happening and was the best way to open the movie. This movie is a much different take on Superman; the tone is overall darker and it also seems to make Superman appear in this world as realistic as possible while keeping its serious tone. Also there doesn’t seem to be any romance between Clark and Lois. Another thing different in this movie is something that has been gathering controversy and unfortunately it’s a spoiler as it’s near the end of the movie; if you’ve watched the movie and looked at online forums you know what I’m talking about. All I will say about this moment is that I don’t really have much of a problem with it and I thought that it was actually well done.

MAN OF STEEL

Henry Cavill did a good job in portraying Superman; he had quite a Christopher Reeve vibe to him, which always helps when playing Superman.  Amy Adams was decent as Lois Lane and a good thing is that she does end up doing more to help Superman more than some previous Lois Lanes have. Michael Shannon did a great job as Zod; even though he wouldn’t have been the only person to be able to play that character he does well with what he’s got. One of the great things about this adaptation of Zod is the fact that you can really understand his motivations; so many supervillians in movies are just written to be evil but here you can see why he does what he’s doing. To be honest he is better than most of the villains in the Marvel movies. Russell Crowe plays Jor-El, Superman’s biological father; Crowe isn’t on screen for very long but makes use of what screen time he has.

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Zack Snyder directed this movie, so you can expect it to look good, as well as the special effects being well done. The fights that take place are also extremely satisfying; it’s also quite impossible to describe the amount of carnage that happens in this movie. It’s like the opposite of Superman Returns which had little to no conflict. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is as usual great here and it adds another layer of epicness to this movie.

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Man of Steel may not please everyone but for me it was an enjoyable watch. The acting was decent, the story was simple and it was fun to watch. It’s not a movie that I’d put among the great superhero movies but I think that it’s good. The follow up, Batman v Superman is something I am looking forward to and I’m interested how Zack Snyder will deliver.

JFK (1991)

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JFK

Time: 189 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison
Kevin Bacon as Willie O’Keefe
Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw
Joe Pesci as David Ferrie
Laurie Metcalf as Susie Cox
Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald
Michael Rooker as Bill Broussard
Jay O. Sanders as Lou Ivon
Sissy Spacek as Liz Garrison
Director: Oliver Stone

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) investigates the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22 1963 in Dallas, Texas. After looking deep enough, he suspects that there may be more to the story than the public is being told.

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The assassination of John F. Kennedy is one of the biggest events in history and one of the most debated topics, especially when it came to conspiracy theories. I honestly didn’t know that much about the assassination before watching this film but after watching this movie it made me want to learn more about it. One of the things that makes JFK even better is the fact that these ‘characters’ are actually real people investigating what happened. The film isn’t just a documentary about possible scenarios of the president’s assassination; it follows Jim Garrison’s investigation. Whatever your thoughts on what happened with the assassination of John F. Kennedy are, this film is still worth a watch.

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It was fascinating watching these real life people investigate the mystery as they try to piece everything together. If there is one thing you should know about JFK before watching it, it’s that it gets more interesting over time. It first builds up the events before the investigation and during those moments, viewers may feel a bit bored, however it is well worth the wait. This movie is also long – at about 3 hours and 10 minutes. The film also has a lot of details; there may be too much information to process at once; so viewers should keep that in mind before viewing it. People will definitely remember some facts more than others. My favourite part of the movie is the final act; it summarises every theory and discovery Garrison has found over the course of his investigation. I won’t spoil any of the scenes that happen in this movie because if you are like me – someone who didn’t know that much about the assassination, you will find all the scenes to be a great surprise.

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The acting is top notch from everyone. The cast ranges from Kevin Costner to Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman. All the actors in this movie are playing real life people and they definitely manage to feel like them. It may be easy to miss the acting while paying attention to the investigation but it still is really good and they should be applauded for their performances.

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One of the most distinctive and defining things about this movie is the cinematography and the editing. When people make predictions or discover something that happened, it flashes back to the past and is cut in such a way that makes it feel like a documentary. Also, the film sometimes blends archive footage with new scenes with a 60s older look. A good example of great use of it again, is at the end. In the end, the film blends the real life moments recorded on camera in the 60s (such as Kennedy’s assassination) with the possible unseen (filmed for the movie). The soundtrack by John Williams is also great, as all his compositions usually are.

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This movie should be seen, even just for learning about Jim Garrison’s search for the truth. I won’t mention what the scenario of the assassination is true; those are left up to the viewer. JFK can really get people talking about what they thought really happened, and can give people a different perspective on certain events in history. As someone who isn’t usually that interested or into conspiracy theories, I loved this movie and I recommend it to everyone. It is one of Oliver Stone’s best films.