Darke Reviews | Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

I was wrong about many things over the years. I have even been questioning my own reviews of late as so many mediocre movies continue to come out and I don’t have the energy to write about them. To write about another film that is so middling and ‘meh’ that it isn’t even worth the energy or time to write about it. I’ve even wondered if watching movies knowing I will review them has soured me to good films. Then I think about films like The VVitch, Victor Frankenstein, The Last Witch Hunter, Krampus, and realized that it’s not me. Noticed I left off films like Deadpool and The Force Awakens? It’s because they are both critical and financial successes. They are too obvious a target to say “see I still like movies!”. The other four films are something new, something different and something to be celebrated as they try to rise and claw and bite into the sun of something more than mediocrity. Now we are living in the Snyder-Verse when we talk about the DC Cinematic Universe. This is an important distinction to make as their Animated Universe films are some of the best comic films being made these days. The Cinematic though? People seem divided.

I called it the Snyder-Verse specifically after a comment he recently made about Grant Gustin not being right for The Flash.

I just don’t think [Gustin] was a good fit. I’m very strict with this universe and I just don’t see a version where… that (tone is) not our world.

Even if Grant Gustin is my favorite guy in the world, and he’s very good, we made a commitment to the multiverse, so it’s just not a thing that’s possible.

Source: http://io9.gizmodo.com/why-zack-snyder-never-considered-grant-gustins-flash-fo-1766285179

My thoughts on Mr. Snyder.

The most polite version of the meme I could find…

I appreciate the fact that Snyder has a vision for the films. Just as Nolan did. I appreciate that the execs at DC/WB are supporting his vision. I even will go so far as to say I can understand his vision for the DCCU. I know what he is trying to achieve. It’s easy to see in the fan service to Jim Lee and Frank Miller. It’s easy to see in the colour palette, the designs, and the characterizations. This movie is going to make a boatload of money unless a miracle happens. So he will be allowed to continue his vision for the verse and the movies will maintain their dour tones.

I really wish that he was struck blind. Metaphorically speaking…

I think his vision sucks. I think that he is really good at lifting material from better writers and visionaries and tries to interpret it as his own. There are no less than six different scenes from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns in this movie. This is the universe Snyder is putting us in. The Batman costume is literally the same design. Some of the best Bat scenes are here and truth be told they made me smile when I saw them, but what he failed to notice was that was a Batman story first and foremost. The Superman in that story is portrayed like this

Yes it’s cheesy, the comic even mentions it but…

Giants walk this earth.

That is a Superman. That is a man people can look up to. That’s a hero. That is not what we got.

I am tired of mopey, dull, non-heroic Superman. I don’t need him deconstructed. The world doesn’t need him deconstructed. I am not a huge fan of Four Colour comics as a whole, but Superman belongs there. He needs to be larger than life. He *is* larger than life, something Good and something to aspire to. Even Batman is larger than life, and in his purest form something to aspire to. A man who has perfected his body and mind to be one of the best humans on the planet and doing what he does to protect people. (I did say purest form….)

This review has turned into a diatribe against Snyder and his vision rather than the movie.

His vision is the movie.

Long -nearly 3 hours.

Dull.

Dreary.

Hopeless.

There are slight glimmers of brilliance. Slight moments where something becomes more than the director himself is capable of. More than the story is capable of.

Those moments typically involve Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot. Affleck is one of the best visions of the Bat we have had since Keaton in cinematic live action tellings. The costume looks good, his fighting is good, how he operates works so well. He is a tired Bat, but I believed he WAS both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Gadot gave me someone I thought was a nigh immortal Wonder Woman in Man’s world. She was warrior, she was beautiful, she was intelligent and elegant. I am happy with her performance – as I expected to be. Alexander Luthor, as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, was hit and miss with more hits than misses. Though the misses are significant and I cannot discuss without hitting spoilers. I liked him. I bought him – mostly. His performance is not nearly as complete, as whole, as Affleck and Gadot.

Technically the movie was a bit of a train wreck. The editor couldn’t keep a single frame in camera for more than 30 seconds. I literally started counting. The CG was strong with this one and the lines were showing. When they got to the titular fight I just didn’t care. It was all spectacle without any emotion or caring put into it. Sure there were beats that had me excited but those only created emotion because someone else had done them better in other material and in another media. There were just too many other technically flawed moments through the movie to give a damn. The Batman story arc is one of the more interesting ones we’ve had in a very very long time. The Superman story arc is more of the same that we got last time with the world being too hard for the poor boy and more moping.

TL;DR?

I am not angry at this film. I am angry at Warner Bros. I am angry at Zack Snyder. I want to hate the film, but I can’t. I blame the people behind the camera. They have failed us.

Sure it’s going to make bank. I wish it wouldn’t. Sure there will be people who forgive it’s flaws and like it. I am not one of those people. We *need* to expect more. To expect better. We need to stop being satisfied with this….whatever this was.

Should you see it?

No. You will anyway, some of you will like it. I bet fans may like moments, but the whole of the film no. No you won’t.

Will I buy it?

In the bargain bin, so I can make a fan edit and remove most all the material involving Superman.

 

I am tired. I am going to keep reviewing films and trying to find the ones that are good. This is not one of them.

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Darke Reviews | 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

I owe you all an apology, I got home from London Has Fallen  last week and didn’t have the energy to write a review that night. The next day I still didn’t. The day after still no. I realized the movie was that mediocre that I had no energy to write it because I didn’t care enough. The action was ok. The effects were on the whole cheap. The tension was laughable. The acting, you don’t watch London Has Fallen for acting. You just watch it to see Gerard Butler kick butt – which he does. So there’s that.

Now during the Superbowl this year they revealed a trailer for a movie almost no one had heard of called 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s rare in this day and age for a production to stay under the radar. Seeing the first trailer without any media hype a mere month and a half prior to the films release on something with names attached is even more unheard of. Then using the Cloverfield name in conjunction with J.J. Abrams automatically begins to conjures questions?

“Is it a sequel?”

“Is a prequel?”

“Is it tandem?”

“How is it related to the blockbuster first film?”

The producers then use that media buzz to let people talk about the movie – which is a smart play. They also spend their time answering all of those above questions “No it isn’t”. JJ has lied to us before (It’s not Khan) and cannot be trusted in that regard when it comes to a production. Why else call it Cloverfield when you have all the same names attached? “It’s a spiritual successor”, is a cheap answer. My feeling is that they wanted to created an anthology of movies around the “Cloverfield” conceit; which by it’s nature of real people in completely whacked out situations would wear thin. I mean the idea has merit once or twice, but to franchise the concept of Cloverfield can’t possibly work in the long term as a film series as you then need to spend time getting us to care (or not) about the characters then eventually have a reveal to the scale of their situation. Much like Shyamalan and his twists, when people come to expect them they spend the entire movie looking for the twist which then takes the wind out of it when it appears even if it is done intelligently.

400 words in and I haven’t discussed the movie I just watched. I’ve talked Hollywood, a movie I didn’t care to review to warn you to see or away from because it was that mediocre, JJ Abrams, and the concepts of how to build a franchise. I am really avoiding talking about the movie.

I didn’t like it. I wanted to. I really wanted to. I *like* the original Cloverfield. I didn’t get sick watching it. I liked the look of the monster. I cared about the characters and wanted to see Rob get to his girlfriend and them escape the monster. I wanted to see this and see how it ended.

I didn’t care here. The acting was fantastic. John Goodman was in full heavy mode and brought his impressive abilities to bear in a purely one dimensional role. He made it something more by using his physical presence and his acting to try to make it more than what was written. Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character of Michelle was engaging. She was smart, she was willful, and clever. I have liked her since Wolf Lake, Sky High, and thought her Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim was on point. She didn’t do anything out of character, she didn’t turn into a “Final Girl” she just was. It worked and I liked her. John Gallagher Jr. as Emmet was a solid everyman. I went to school with people like him, I’ve worked with folks like him. The acting was FINE. It was Solid. It was Good.

What they had to work with sucked. There’s no twists. The tension doesn’t hold because they let you see some of the elements too early. They, being Matthew Stuecken (producer of GI Joe Rise of the Cobra and the Mummy 3), Josh Campbell (editor of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Van Helsing), and Damien Chazelle (writer of Whiplash) have invoked the three writer rule.  I lay blame on Dan Trachtenberg, in his big screen directorial debut, as well. They give you too much too soon of the wrong elements and it takes away from the movie. It breaks rather than builds the tension because you become certain of things and those things are only solidified rather than challenged when opportunity presented itself.

I verge into spoiler territory if I say more, and even though I dislike the film I need to keep to the rules.

If the intent here was to give novice writers and directors a chance to tell a story within the guardrails of a type of universe under the watchful eye of successful novices such as Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) and Drew Goddard (The Martian, Cabin in the Woods), and Bryan Burk (Star Wars the Force Awakens), then I feel they failed. They succeeded in the attempt, but they failed in the guidance. I found nothing beyond the acting enjoyable here. The movie struck emotional chords in the performances, but gave nothing else for me to do with them. It was not well constructed or articulated.

If anything I would compare it to…hmm no. That would be a spoiler.

TL;DR?

Don’t see it. Expect more from your sci fi. Expect more from your movies. They need to try harder.

This was an attempt to do something original, for that I could praise it, but when we have things like The VVitch out there which also do original and do it better. We need to expect more.

Do I recommend it? No. Save your money.

 Will I buy it? No.

Next two weeks have a chance to give some enjoyment with Allegiant and Superman v Batman. Here’s hoping.