Zack Snyder’s Justice League


Viewed – 29 May 2021 Blu-ray

This doesn’t happen very often, does it? A movie getting pretty much re-released that isn’t simply a director’s cut but in fact almost an entirely different movie. I feel I was one of the few that enjoyed the original 2018 version of Justice League, and while I could see the flaws, overall it still did its job. So sitting down to this much expanded, 4 hour version was both exciting and a bit intimidating.

Avengers assem… oh, wait.

The story has a megalomaniac villain called Steppenwolf who is searching for three ancient cubes that once brought together will transform our world, destroying all life in the process. So on learning this Bruce Wayne / Batman rushes to form a team of super-powered heroes in hope of stopping Steppenwolf in his tracks.

Zack Snyder, for some reason delivers this version of JL in 4:3 aspect ratio, and despite black bars either side of the screen, after a while I stopped noticing them. His style is so striking here, and with a muted colour pallet compared to the garish tones of JL 2018, this immediately felt more serious and epic. Much of the humour has been toned down, although The Flash’s wise-cracks remain intact. Also, with so much more time there’s far more emphasis on character, especially that of Cyborg, and at times this can feel very much his story, given the most interesting character ark. Superman’s status of being dead and his eventual resurrection is also packed with emotion. The villain’s motives are also better explained, with the addition of one character this time around filling a Palpetine type role to Steppenwolf’s Vader.

The movie may be over 4 hours long but with how it is split into six parts, and spread over two Blu-rays (I watched it over two nights) it didn’t feel bloated or padded and in fact zipped along at a decent pace with several great action scenes. It never gets as powerful as say, Avengers: Endgame, its central plot feels cliched and Steppenwolf isn’t all that interesting. There’s also some unnecessary sequel-bating here and there, with scenes involving Martian Manhunter and even Jared Leto’s Joker needing to be left on the cutting room floor …. but overall this was still an improved, highly entertaining, visually stunning and satisfying experience.

Verdict: Recommended

Bottom Ten Movies 2020


So we’ve reached that time again. Below are ten movies I watched last year that I liked the least. Not all these movies are bad, but they all remain either disappointing or unremarkable. In descending order from average to awful…

10

Underwater

9.

Gemini Man

8

Hillbilly Elegy

7

Ready or Not

6

Possessor

5

Motherless Brooklyn

4

Uncut Gems

3

2

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things

1

The Babysitter: Killer Queen

Hillbilly Elegy


Viewed – 28 November 2020 Netflix

A Yale law student on the brink of attending an important interview, gets pulled back to his Ohio family when his mother is rushed into hospital. As he attempts to help out at hone he finds himself reminiscing about significant events in his family’s history.

Family ties…

Directed by Ron Howard (Ransom, Apollo 13) and with a strong cast, this absorbing family drama boasts a stand out turn from Glen Close as a no-nonsense, tough talking Grandma, who has overseen her family through a number of dramas, mostly surrounding her drug addict daughter (played by Amy Adams – in another powerful turn).

The story is nothing that surprising however, and where it goes is predictable which can be forgiven as it’s based on a true story. Although, some scenes came off as a tad over-dramatic due to a lack of build up to key moments. However this has generally decent direction, complimented by often eye-catching cinematography. Add to this the memorable performances across the board … and I’d still say give this a watch.

Verdict: Good

In praise of great TV


Sharp ObjectsI’ve just finished watching the HBO drama ‘Sharp Objects’, and can say with certainty it’s been one of the most riveting dramas I’ve seen in a long time.  With a cast lead by a particular favourite, Amy Adams, who like many Hollywood names these days dips her toe into television and works wonders.  Her acting here, as tabloid journalist Camille who has a complex history that comes flooding back when she is given the assignment to report on a series of murders in the small town where she grew up.  As the show progresses we’re introduced to her rebellious younger sister Emma, and her controlling mother Adora, whilst along the way Camille falls for the local detective heading the case.

The way this show explores not just the case of teenage girls turning up murdered but also that of Camille’s past is done intelligently and artfully to make for a real gem.  The ending holds plenty of twists and surprises and the main revelation is rather disturbing.  Performances are also decent across the board with Adams on solid form and powerfully written, with her actions not always for the belter.  However I’d tip my hat to Patricia Clarkson  as Camille’s mother,who had more than a hint of Piper Laurie about her  It kept me guessing right through to the final moments and left me pondering and a little shaken.  I won’t spoil anything though, just to say if you haven’t seen this series yet … go check it out.

Justice League


Viewed – 27 March 2018  Blu-ray

After the critically panned yet commercial smash that was Batman V Superman (a movie I stand by as not being as bad as they say), we get this excuse to bring together several notable (and less notable) figures from DC comic’s illustrious history; namely Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash, Aqua Man and Cyborg, when a centuries old, banished demon returns to claim three powerful cubes that if united will give him the power to conquer worlds.  Yeah, the villain, Steppenwolf is basically Apocalypse from X-Men er…Apocalypse, but minus Oscar Isaac’s charisma, although by no means is he an unappealing adversary.  Then we get the problem that Superman is dead, but there may be hope of resurrecting him if Batman’s plan works out.

Justice League

Some people like to focus on a person’s imperfections.  The same can be said when it comes to movie criticism, and I’ll admit I have been guilty of that in the past.  However I am also a strong believer that some imperfections can be forgiven if they don’t ruin the overall experience.  One such example is the rather luke-warm reception given to this latest entry in DC’s attempt to rival Marvel’s cinematic universe, which for the most part the company has fallen in the shadow of constantly.  Yet having sat through it’s refreshingly lean-2hrs I came away wondering what people had issues with.  The story whilst not anything ground-breaking is perfectly suitable and engaging to bring together these characters, and a witty script handles many egos together on screen particularly well, giving each individual a moment to shine.  I especially enjoyed the slightly out-of-his-depth Flash and I found the otherwise unfamiliar Cyborg intriguing with his semi-Frankenstein’s monster backstory.  Affleck again proves himself a worthy Batman / Bruce Wayne and thankfully Henry Cavill’s Superman gets some great moments also, with his resurrection handled rather well.  Add to this a wonderfully likable (and damn sexy) turn from Gadot’s Wonder Woman and I found myself mostly buzzing from this.

The troubled development with director Zack Snyder having to pass the reigns to Joss Whedon is barely noticeable unless scrutinizing the tone of every scene.  Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is a little side-lined but that’s to be expected with so many characters to focus on, and there’s some questionable CGI / green screen moments.  Oh and that bit with Superman sporting CGI moustache-removal (in one brief scene) is a tad jarring. Also I’d have liked a bit more focus on the villain and just how he seems to psychically know the whereabouts of each ‘hidden’ cube. Thankfully such shortcomings are made up for by plenty of great action, superheroes kicking butt and bags of personality.

So ignore the nay-sayers, ‘cause this one’s definitely worth a watch.

Verdict:  3.5 /5