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Movie Review: Justice League

Justice League posterIt’s hard to think of a time recently when a film has had so many expectations riding on it. 

And Justice League will undoubtedly fulfill many of those for a lot of fans of the source material. If you’ve been a fan of what Zack Snyder has done with the DC universe so far, you will continue to enjoy this. If you enjoyed Joss Whedon‘s work on The Avengers but have been “meh” so far on Man of Steel or Batman v. Superman, then you may enjoy yourself here, as the best explanation of Justice League is “Joss Whedon meets Zack Snyder.”

Unfortunately, that also means the film also embodies many of their respective weaknesses, too.

It’s no wonder this feels like a mishmash. Zack Snyder finished principle photography on the film and then had to step away from the project due to family issues. He entrusted finishing the film, including some reshoots and a script polish, to Whedon. Both of their fingerprints are evident in this film. Snyder’s stylized action is key and brings a bombasticity to the fights Whedon has never been capable of. Whedon brings some humor and teases out character elements in little asides that are key to enjoyment of the movie. In a lot of ways, this is a marriage that makes sense. In others. . . well, let’s say it’s easy to tell which parts of the film who was responsible for. It’s sort of like listening to The Beatles’ White Album — Lennon and McCartney were credited for all of their songs together, but it was very clear who took the lead on which track as the two partners styles started to diverge more wildly.

THE SETUP

Superman is dead. (Spoiler alert!) Sensing a moment of weakness and hopelessness, intergalactic conqueror Steppenwolf has returned to Earth to try to conquer it. Yes returned, because apparently he tried this schtick before and was repelled by the combined armies of Amazons, Atlanteans, and men. So he’s going back after them and artifacts he left behind that he needs to conquer the planet.

Batman (Ben Affleck), wracked with guilt over the death of Superman, is trying to put together a team to fight what he sees as this oncoming storm even before he’s aware of Steppenwolf’s presence. When Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) informs him the threat is already here, they redouble their efforts to find new teammates.

This includes Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen aka The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Victor Stone aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher). While Bats and Diana get top billing, make no mistake that the other teammates are not sidekicks. Indeed, each gets their due and gets their own fun moments and character arcs.

Yes, Aquaman is really f*#king cool. You would’ve told me 20 years ago I’d be saying my favorite part of a Justice League movie might be Aquaman, I’d have laughed in your face. You’ll believe a man can swim. . . and kick all sorts of ass. Momoa’s comedic skills are put on full display here as well, delivering some of the best lines in the movie.

Speaking of comic relief, The Flash has always been the Justice League’s jokey conscience. In this version, we get a much younger, greener version of the character who is only barely discovering his powers. This is a double edged sword, as it gives the character room to grow and a great story arc, as well as giving Batman a chance to play superhero mentor. Ezra Miller does a great job and tries to steal every scene he’s in, which can sometimes be a little overbearing, but is overall really fun.

Unfortunately, we also get a wildly uneven powerset and skillset. At one moment Flash is literally tripping over himself, and not ten minutes later must perform a demanding run to deliver a static electricity bolt at a precise moment. Characters can be layered and be able to grow and have varying degrees of competence, but we can’t expect someone to be so bad at something one minute and five minutes later perfect at it (without even the use of a sports training montage!) That’s not showing growth and nuance, it’s just sloppy storytelling and characterization.

Speaking of, this brings us to Cyborg. It’s a good thing most audiences aren’t familiar with the character, or else they may have expectations about his powers. Apparently, Cyborg’s main superpower is exposition. He also has the ability to pull a Deus Ex Superhero at any given time. Need your jet to take you from Gotham to Russia in under 2 hours? Cyborg can “hack” your plane and make it happen!  Need to prevent Steppenwolf from assembling his doomsday terraforming machine to conquer earth? Cyborg can “hack” it!!

To be fair, [Minor Spoiler] Cyborg’s origin in the film is tied in to one of the artifacts Steppenwolf is using, but it’s still incredibly convenient. You know what else is incredibly convenient? The Kryptonian spaceship containing all sorts of technology (for the THIRD. MOVIE. IN A ROW.) whose main purpose, again, is to move the plot forward. Equally convenient? Another alien would-be conqueror who wants to terraform the earth.

It’s almost hard for Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Flash to shine under the weight of all of this– but they do. It’s just unfortunate that they have to.

WHEDON v. SNYDER: DAWN OF “JUST US” LEAVE

Getting back to the description of the film as “Joss Whedon meets Zack Snyder”– Note that in this description of the film, nowhere is a mention of Patty Jenkins. And that’s with good reason. Jenkins’ Wonder Woman still stands head and shoulders above all other DC movies, including this, as Princess Diana herself does among her teammates. Nowhere here do we match the spirit and fun of Wonder Woman, but we get occasional glimpses of it.

And Wonder Woman is the best part of Justice League. Her mere introduction on screen elicited cheers and applause from the audience, and her opening intro is masterful and fun. No small amount of credit should be given to Whedon, whose trademark handling of “strong female characters” is basically a cliche at this point, but it’s still missing some of what Jenkins brought.

Indeed, the film’s best analogue is Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. That film nearly collapsed under its own weight of trying to move Marvel’s franchises forward, but forgot to really ever be or say anything in and of itself. Justice League sometimes feels that way– an obligatory team up sequel because that’s the next step in the movie franchise plan.

Another apt comparison might be to Superman II, which famously had Richard Donner fired from it and the rest of the film was completed by Richard Lester. The seams are clearly visible on that Frankenmovie where Donner ends and where Lester begins. So too is it clear how much of Whedon’s sardonic essence was brought into this film both in its script and reshoots which he oversaw.  While Snyder stepped away due to family issues (and I’m not going to give him any hard time about that) and entrusted Whedon to finish his movie, the end result is more Donner-Lester than Lennon-McCartney.

But perhaps this is best seen in the film’s most glaring flaw: Steppenwolf is a boring villain. The only thing remarkable about him is he’s big and powerful and he wants to conquer the earth, so we need an equally awesome team to work together to defeat him. In this, he’s a lot like Ultron. . . and, come to think of it, Zod. Unfortunately you don’t have as interesting an actor portraying Steppenwolf as Terrance Stamp, Michael Shannon, or James Spader. He’s not bad, he’s just lackluster. He can join Malekith from Thor: The Dark World as the least interesting superhero movie villains of recent memory.

And yet, both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Superman II are incredibly good, enjoyable films. You might invoke an aphorism about how great power brings great responsibility, and so maybe we should expect even better than this, but that’s a completely different guy– and he has his own track record of mediocre movies he’s trying to fix (and largely succeeding).

A STORY ABOUT SUPERHERO MOVIES

My son is 9. He is a frequent companion of mine to press screenings, especially when superhero movies are concerned. His first movie in the theater was The Avengers in 2012. He liked Batman v. Superman ok, but mostly just the final battle. Fast forward to 2017: He liked Guardians 2, but not as much as the first one. He was not a fan of Spider-Man: Homecoming — let’s be clear, that was a teeanagery John Hughes movie with superheroes in it, so give him a few years. He was not a huge fan of Wonder Woman —ugh. Girls. (His father is hugely disappointed in him for this)

He gave Thor: Ragnarok a “13 out of 10” and begged to go see it again as soon as possible.

He gave Justice League a 9 out of 10. Because if you can just enjoy this movie for its jokes, its iconography, its action, and its broad characters, you can have a great time with it. Truth? It made my inner 9 year old pretty happy, too– the same 9 year old who taped Superman II off of tv and watched it over and over not at all aware of the film’s flaws. It was simply “Kneel before Zod!” time, and everything else was just fine.

There are also moments of sheer brilliance in this movie, some of which we can’t get into without spoilers. DC fans will be happy, though, as other characters are referenced or implied.

And there are some sweet moments. In a flashback that opens the movie, little kids interview Superman for a podcast they’re doing. A sign of the type of hopelessness Steppenwolf and his parademons feed off of are a white skinhead hassling a Muslim shopkeeper and kicking over his fruit stands. Wonder Woman signs autographs for some little girls and I triple dog dare you not to tear up a little at how much it matters to them.

And then there are the after credits scenes. Yes, two of them. So make sure you stay. The one at the very end of the credits made me want a direct sequel as soon as meta-humanly possible.

It’s unfortunate these moments only checker the film rather than deeply permeating it like a piece of finely marbled kobe beef. Instead it adds extra sizzle to the steak, but doesn’t leave the whole thing as tender and juicy as it might otherwise be. But when you’re dining at Snyder & Whedon steakhouse, this is the meal that we expect. And at the end of the day, it’s still a pretty good steak.

3.5 out of 5

Underrated: Daredevil (Yes, The Movie. No, I’m Not Joking)

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Daredevil (Yes, the Ben Affleck movie).


 

With Daredevil being one of the more vilified Marvel movies (aside from last week’s Underrated subject), and seeing as how we’re going to be getting a new season of a Netflix TV show featuring the Man Without Fear at some point this year, I wanted to take a look at the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie. We’ve all heard how the movie’s bloody terrible, that your time would be better spent plucking your nose a hair at a time, but is it really as bad as you remember it being?

I say remember it being, because I bet none of you have actually watched it in years (I hadn’t until I decided to write this and felt I needed to refresh myself on the movie before I tried to claim it in’t as bad as you think) Before you start yelling at me for writing a column about why the worst reviewed Fantastic Four movie doesn’t entirely suck, I’m not saying the movie is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s not. But it is unfairly shit on by so many of us, and that’s the whole point of Underrated.

As with any of the previous Underrated columns featuring comic book movies that have been reviled by fans and critics for so long, there is going to be context to this column. Daredevil may not be as good as the Netflix series featuring the same character, but it’s not as bad as you’ve heard – once you let go of any preconceived notions of what a Daredevil movie should be.

When I first heard that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman, I cringed. But then I remembered his turn as Daredevil in this movie and I realized that he was unfairly shit on; he was actually pretty good, and turned in a solid performance despite the script he was given. He wasn’t the only person who stood out for me, either; Colin Farrell as Bullseye and the late Michael Clark Duncan as The Kingpin were fantastic; neither man ever really given the credit they deserve.

 

So why is the movie so reviled? Well, much like Affleck’s more recent superhero out, Batman V. Superman I think it was down to the expectations people had that the movie failed to deliver on, rather than it being actually terrible. Daredevil was far from a bad movie – yes, there were scenes that people could do without (I didn’t mind the playground fight scene, but I wouldn’t miss it if it was removed), and some of the effects are quite obviously dated now – but once you look past the surface issues like that and go into the movie with some reasonable expectations, i.e. that the movie isn’t as good as the Netflix series, then you’ll be able to find something to enjoy.

 

Give it a try if you can find the film – then you’ll see why it’s an Underrated superhero film.

A New Look at the Big Screen Justice League

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

This new photo features Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Ezra Miller as The Flash and Jason Momoa as Aquaman.

Justice League is out November 17, 2017.

justice-league-batman-wonder-woman-flash-cyborg-aquaman

Justice League Gets a New Teaser Image featuring Flash, Batman, and Wonder Woman

Warner Bros. Has released a new image from the upcoming Justice League film. The image features Ezra Miller as The Flash, Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat.  But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

The film comes to theaters November 11, 2017.

Justice League HAR_DM_FIRST LOOK RND F04

Around the Tubes

lk-smallworld01-covaThe New Year is going strong and our Blogger in Chief will have his yearly address at 11am today with all sorts of announcements. We hope you all had a great holiday season and on to a new kick-ass year!

While you wait for the announcement(s), here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

The Mary Sue – Ben Affleck Says His Solo Batman Film Is “Not a Set Thing” – Well no, no film is a set thing really…

Comics Alliance – ‘Aquaman’ Stunts Will Come Courtesy of the ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Crew, Plus a Potential Start Date – And those were some awesome stunts.

Engadget – Watch Korea’s mech take its first steps with a pilot on board – Cmon Robot Jox!!!!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – I Thought You Hated Me

Comic Attack – Locke & Key: Small World #1

Talking Comics – Rocket Racoon #1

ICv2 – Tomie: The Complete Deluxe Edition

Batman Miniature Game Suicide Squad Box Set plus Affleck Batman and Harley Bombshell

After weeks of teasing Knight Models has opened up the pre-order for their first game box for the Batman Miniature Game.

The Suicide Squad Game Box is the first two-player game box for the Batman Miniature Game, containing everything you to fight out vicious street-battles between the Suicide Squad and the Joker’s crew.

Pre-order this box now to get the free Batman (Ben Affleck version), and they even have one last surprise!

There are two versions of the game box! The regular box retails for 99.95 € which is about $112 US (much cheaper than I expected). There’s also a version with an exclusive Harley Quinn Bombshell figure which retails for 109.99 € / about $123.

The company has also revealed the two buildings included (printed on both sides) in the game can be stacked to create a taller building. In total you get 13 figures and character cards, rule book including a special campaign, 2 full-color die-cut card buildings, 4 lamp posts markers, 4 sewer markers, “take the lead” and objective counters and dice.batman-miniature-game-box-set-featured14195922_867128563387463_861287282804533640_o batman_miniature_game_harley_quinn_bombshell_preorder batman_miniature_game_suicide_squad_batman_affleck_preorder

The Justice League Gathers Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller, also known as, Batman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Flash. Together they’re 5/6 of the Justice League, and in their civilian identities the five actors have spoken out against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and their support of Rezpect Our Water.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is suing the federal government over the fact the Native American tribe was not consulted properly concerning the project which spans four states. The tribe fears the pipeline will contaminate their drinking war and damage their sacred lands. The pipeline would also run through recently discovered archeological find including grave markings. Less than 24 hours after a finding was submitted with the court to stop the construction, Dakota Access desecrated and destroyed that site.

So far, over 260,000 have signed a petition voicing their opposition to the pipeline which will damage the Standing Rock reservation and has been the subject of protests. The fight also crosses comic companies. Rosario Dawson, who plays Night Nurse on Marvel’s live-action Netflix shows, has voiced her opposition to the pipeline as well as Mark Ruffalo who plays the Hulk. The rest of the Avengers have been quiet on the issue.

Momoa has stated on Instagram “Sacred Aquaman is pissed” regarding the situation.

The protests have turned violent with protestors and private security having clashed. Protestors have had dogs attacking them as well as being pepper-sprayed.

A judge has granted part of an emergency request to halt construction of a section of the pipeline in North Dakota. Further rulings are expected Friday.

Ben Affleck Teases Deathstroke

Writer/Director/Actor Ben Affleck lit up the internet earlier today as he shared on his various social network channels what looks like test footage involving the DC Universe villain Deathstroke. Affleck is currently working on a standalone Batman film (which he’s directing and co-writing), so it’s unclear if this footage is involved with that, Justice League, something else entirely, or it’s just one big tease.

Deathstroke first appeared in The New Teen Titans #2 in 29180 and was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The character’s real name is Slade Wilson and is a superpowered assassin/soldier who wears a rather distinctive suit of armor. The character has also appeared on the television show Arrow where he was last seen locked up in a Supermax prison.

When asked about the character’s return to Arrow, the show’s creator/executive producer Marc Guggenheim said:

deathstroke_arrow

The character currently debuted in his own comic launched by writer Christopher Priest indicating DC may have hopes in pushing the character and lining up we might see more of him in live action. DC has said part of their goal with their recent Rebirth initiative was to make the comics more accessible and line up more with the live action depictions of their characters.

Check out the footage below.

Mr. H and Alex Discuss: Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice

What started as Mr H and Alex talking about their Batman #49 mini reviews quickly evolved into a full blown discussion about Scott Snyder‘s entire run on Batman from the outset of the New 52 all the way through to the fiftieth issue.

This last week saw the release of the critically panned Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and before the weekend was done the Batmaniacs had seen the movie three times in three days between them. Do they have something to say about the movie?

Of course they do!

As always with these features, there will be spoilers from here on out, but they’ve tried to limit them a little bit just in case you haven’t seen the movie yet.


batman.jpgAlex: Well we’ve both seen the movie now, and in a nutshell, what did you think?

M. H: Well it’s so hard to put into one answer what I thought of a movie that I have waited in some form or fashion since my childhood for. I would sum it up using an overly used words these days: epic. How could it be anything but? It had two of my favorite comic book/ literary characters of all time, and definitely one of those is my absolute unequivocal favorite.

Batman.

Let’s start with the large Kandorian sized elephant in the room. The casting of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/ Batman. I know you had very strong feelings on this so I will let you start off. What say you on the subject sir?

Alex: Heh, well it’s absolutely no secret that I was vehemently against the idea of Affleck playing Batman. I was quite vocal about how he’d ruin the entire DC Cinematic Universe and at one point (I think) I even said I’d refuse to see the movie because of his casting. Cutting a long (and already posted) story short, I eventually came around to the idea he may not be a horrible Batman before the trailers dropped. After watching the movie, well, let’s just say I think I prefer maple syrup on my hat.

Affleck was amazing. He captured everything I love about Batman. I’ve always felt that Bruce Wayne is the mask, and Batman is the real man, and there were times when a maskless Affleck shifted between the two on screen. It was jaw dropping. I suspected that my mental list of Greatest On Screen Bat Actors would be revised after this movie, but I expected the middle of the list to shift around a bit. I never thought that Ben Affleck would be far and away the top of the list. He just gets Batman in a way that nobody has before.

I can’t wait till he gets his hands on a solo movie.

Mr. H: He was stellar in the role. Already quite the star. Now he’s one of the Super variety. I was so happy we got a grizzled, war tempered Dark Knight. He’s been at this for over twenty years when this takes place. His suit has all the battle scars and I love the gritty and unpristine approach he took to the character. His Bruce Wayne was decisive and unapologetic. To see Batman come alive that well on the screen was breathtaking.

That being said Affleck‘s performance was only strengthened by the choice of the man who was chosen to play Bruce‘s closest (and mainly only) ally: Alfred. Jeremy Irons was fantastic. I could watch him chew the scenery with Affleck all day. They had a very antagonistic relationship and you felt like they knew each other like the back of their hands. Now in the comics Alfred is a father to Bruce. Here he was much like an older brother. Alfred‘s sardonic wit was the highlight of the film. I also liked how they made him very mechanically and strategically inclined. It was a very military chain of command approach to the classic relationship between Alfred and Bruce. So very happy we will be getting more of this in the follow up films.bvs batman alfred.jpg

Alex: I completely agree with you, there. I’m going to move on to the other major draw for fans before we turn this into a Ben Affleck as Batman lovefest (which would be easy to do). I’m sure the folks reading this will have seen reviews complaining that Henry Cavill‘s Superman wasn’t great, I’ve read that some critics felt he was too depressed and not as happy as Superman should be in this movie, and while that’s true, it actually makes more sense in this movie than a happy Superman. Batman v Superman spends pretty much the entire movie calling Superman a god. And maybe if we lived in that world we’d do the cavill supermansame thing, but you’ve got to think about the pressure that he must feel. He has the power to do almost anything, and you can see the weight of that responsibility getting heavier upon his shoulders. Of course he’s not going to smile a much; despite having godlike power, this is just a man from Kansas with a heart the size of the state he was raised in.

I think that Cavill captures that brilliantly in his performance. Is he the best onscreen Superman? That’s tough, because he’s always going to be compared to Christopher Reeve, but they both played totally different versions of the character. Reeve‘s Superman was an ideal representation of his time, and so is Cavill‘s. The scene with him and Luthor, and I know you agree with me here from our chat earlier, is one of the best scenes in the movie that doesn’t include a certain character. When Superman does lose control, you can almost understand why Batman was so determined to try and preemptively stop him, and without Cavill I don’t think we’d have that. When he and Affleck were on screen together I never felt that one performance drastically over powered the other.

You know, I’ve hogged the mic for a bit here, mate, what are your thoughts?

Mr. H: You chimed that perfectly. Cavill as Superman was definitely darker than the last film but you’re right he has so much weight in his performance but not everyone can flash that heartwarming smile as good as Christopher Reeve did. Cavill‘s Clark was much more brazen and steadfast in his ideals. I like that he had the intrepid reporter streak in him. Besides that scene on the helipad, any scene that had the lovely Amy Adams as Lois Lane made the Superman scenes better.

On the talk of it. Lois Lane really was the only light in this movie. This was a dark, dark, dark movie (don’t bring the kiddos) and she manages to brightly break through the cracks. Lois was fearless and tenacious to help exonerate the man she loves from public hate. She spared no lengths and it was good to not have her resorted to a damsel in distress.

gadot wonder womanLois wasn’t the only tough as nails female performance though. Introducing Gal Gadot as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. All I can say about her performance is, enchanting. She sucks you right in. She plays the mystery card at first with Bruce and then you see there is much more to her. As a Israeli actress she had the perfect look for Wonder Woman. I especially enjoyed the nod to the past with Lynda Carter when she was in the white jumpsuit. It’s nice when franchises pay homage to previous incarnations.

The great thing about Gadot though is that she felt right at home between the Super Powered boys club. In fact the huge fight scenes at the end is where she shines. She plays Diana‘s warrior side to a tee. Especially that wry smirk and gleeful smile she makes after she gets her butt kicked and jumps in the fray for more. I thought to myself yes THAT is Wonder Woman. Someone finally got it. Her outfit was a warriors garb and practical for battle without being over sexualized. Plus they had her use the lasso of truth! When did you ever think you’d see that on the big screen??

Alex: Honestly? Never. I figured that it would be one of those things that just didn’t make the jump from page to screen. You mentioned already that Lois Lane was the light in the darkness here, but so too was Gal Gadot. Despite being cast against two strong actors, she more than held her own and I felt she truly did justice to Wonder Woman‘s character (and that smile? Amazing!). She wasn’t in the movie as much as the two title characters, but she was brilliant when she did appear.

But somebody who, perhaps, is a bit more divisive is Jesse Eisenberg. When I heard of his casting, I was actually pretty confident he’d be great… but that wasn’t exactly the case.

luthor eisenbergMr. H: Yes as a big fan of his work I was thrilled [at the news of his casting]. Then I saw the first released footage and I was not as excited. He had some cringe worthy dialogue in the trailers. “The red capes are coming, the red capes are coming.” He played Lex Luthor a little too manic at times for my taste. His normal fast talking jargon was distracting here. I won’t lay it all on him however. The script never delves into why he hates Superman so much. We are just to assume it’s a mix of jealousy and contempt. It was off putting.

He wasn’t all bad however. His wardrobe was provided for some good moments and I loved the heavy musical score when he was on screen. One thing is for sure, without getting into heavy spoiler territory here, he implemented the most devious plan against Superman we’ve ever seen on screen. That was fantastic. His scene on the Helipad with Superman even after seeing the movie twice, gave me chills.

Alex: Yeah, I agree with you there. Despite some scripting issues – which may well be solved in the inevitable Directors Cut – his performance was very energetic. He felt, at times, like a little less violently crazy than Heath Ledger‘s phenomenal Joker, but with much more devious intellect. His character was an interesting opposition to the grim leads, and I think that given another chance, Eisenberg may give us a far better performance because he certainly gave us glimpses of one here.

Mr. H: This is a world where it’s brutally honest and people don’t just swoon because of some handsome being in a red capes flashes his pearly whites at them. Also its a world where a man who is so tormented and damaged enough to dress up like a giant bat isn’t the most stable individual traipsing across the rooftops.


Alex:
I think that, honestly, the characterizations that we’ve gotten in this movie are generally fantastic. There are a couple of moments that aren’t great, but by and large the performances are spectacular.

There are certainly flaws to the movie, I’m sure we both know that, but unlike the legion of critics who panned the movie I can look past that and enjoy the movie we’ve received. The critical panning, honestly, was incredibly harsh – and I think now it’s cool to hate on the movie.

Mr. H: I completely concur. Again I have almost no problems with the performances (Eisenberg inconsistencies aside) as it was a daunting task to do this story ahem.. justice. No way everyone was going to be happy but the visceral hate it’s received by critics is staggering. It’s a super hero film people. Not Schindlers List. It’s not going to be a 10. To take these fantastic character icons and put them on the big screen in a way that is both true and new is a gargantuan task. I thought Snyder did very well. People complaining that the film was dark, well you knew it was going to be dark!

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Look at Man of Steel. That was the blueprint for this. That’s like saying oh, water is wet (Thank you Perry White). If any issues arise it’s with the pacing at the beginning and maybe the overly CGI ending. However I give mega props to that ending which I never thought I’d ever see on the big screen. Bryan Singer attempted it in Superman Returns but Zack Snyder had the guts to do it here. Now I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Alex:You know what astounds me more than anything? Is that the ending not only happened but that nobody is talking about it! I think that’s awesome. It’s an ending that
I never expected to see that on the big screen, and especially not at this stage [in the DCCU], but it’s such a fantastic catalyst to pull the Justice League together and turn Batman back into the hero he used to be.

And yeah, I may not have been overly happy with the cgi ending, but I didn’t hate it (and I have heard the “the port is abandoned” line is flimsy justification for the destruction at the end), but I actually liked the pace at the beginning [of the movie]. It wasn’t as bad as you’d think.

To hear some people talk about this movie, you’d think it was another Fantastic 4, but that’s just not the case.

Mr. H: For better or worse it looks like we will be getting this rendition of these characters for a long time. One of the biggest gripes I heard was the tone of the film. I had no issue with it. The first time I saw it, I was in a bit of shock but upon the second view I quite liked it. I think it’s refreshing we finally got this type of movie rather than a retread of the same ol’ same ol’. Director Zack Snyder shows us that it’s certainly a brave new world and we better have the courage to take the ride.

Alex: If you were to give the movie a score, what’d it be?

Mr. H: Without Affleck, a 6. With? I’d give it an 8. You?

Alex: About the same, actually.


Next time on Discuss, Mr. H and Alex are going to be talking about a classic Batman story. You may be able to guess which one, if they offer a hint or Two. So join them on the same Bat-channel, at the same Bat-time and find out just how much they have to say about a graphic novel that may (or may not) have inspired part of the movie they just finished talking about!

An Open Letter To Ben Affleck, From A Raging Fanboy

ben affleck batman 1Mr. Affleck,

When I first heard you had been cast as Batman, well, let’s just say I wasn’t quite on board. You know what? I’ll be honest, and I won’t  dance around it: I hated the idea. I was as against the idea of you playing one of my favourite characters as a person could be. I would have preferred that the movie not get made than you  play the Dark Knight.

Harsh? Yeah, it really is. But I have a point, bear with me.

It took me a few days thinking about the news, and reading the opinions of those who swore to boycott Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice just because you were attached to the project; people claiming that you already had your chance to play a superhero in Daredevil, and because you royally screwed that up you shouldn’t be given another.

ben-affleck-daredevilBut here’s the thing: I enjoyed Daredevil precisely because of your performance.

That movie wasn’t great, but you gave the best you could with what you had. And that got me thinking – why wasn’t I thrilled about your casting choice? I couldn’t think of a movie I’ve seen that you starred in which you didn’t give an engaging performance (even if I really didn’t like some of the characters). In all of the films directed by Kevin Smith (aside from Jersey Girl, apparently, but I haven’t seen that), you were fantastic – even if the characters were sometimes dicks. I can’t honestly say that I really enjoyed almost every movie I have seen you in, but you were amazing in The Town. And when I realized that, I realized that I was optimistic about your role as the Dark Knight.

When the trailers dropped for Batman v Superman, my optimism turned to excitement. At that point I had faith that you’d be a good Batman, because from the snippets I saw you really seemed to get the character. But while I expected you to be good, I also thought that your performance would probably not be the best – and I was okay with that because there have been some great actors playing Batman. Needless to say at this point, I had come around to the idea of you as Batman.

Well I saw Batman v Superman on Thursday night, Mr. Affleck, and I was so bloody wrong. After waiting in line for an hour to get into the theater with my contraband popcorn and coke (there was no way I was paying more than I paid for a ticket to enjoy snacks), I came to a startling revelation: you weren’t a good Batman. Not even close.

ben affleck batman 2You were a bloody great Batman. Hell, you are Batman.

Mr. Affleck, while the movie wasn’t as good as I hoped (I did genuinely enjoy it, though), your performance as Batman is without doubt my favourite onscreen depiction of the iconic character. While the movie itself may not have been brilliant, there were numerous brilliant parts within the two and a half hours that I saw, and chief among them were the moments when you were on screen. Your chemistry with Jeremy Irons gave Batmaniacs a fantastic glimpse at a pair of men who had been working together for decades, the undercurrent of barely suppressed that permeated almost every scene you were in was almost palpable, and your Batman felt dangerous in a way that I really haven’t felt before.

If Batman v Superman isn’t the best movie released this year, then so be it, but it’s still an enjoyable movie that, through no fault of your own, Mr. Affleck, has some less than enjoyable moments that I could have done without and some absolutely fantastic ones that I wanted more of. So I’ll watch the movie again, whether that’s at theater or (legally) at home I don’t know.

What I do know for certain is that I am looking forward to seeing you as Bruce Wayne again, and I cannot wait until I see the Batman movie that you’ll be directing. My resignation at the news of your casting was wrong, and I hope that – in the very remote chance you read this – you know that I’m not the only fanboy eating their hate right now. They may not admit it,  not publicly, and certainly not as loudly as they complained about your casting, but they’re spreading ketchup on their hats right now.

batman glowing eyes.jpgDon’t lose heart at the mixed reviews the movie is getting, because some of us really enjoyed it; not everyone,obviously, but some of us. But nobody who saw the movie can lay any of the blame for the mixed reviews at your feet.

Your portrayal of Batman is going to be on the top of many people’s lists in the next five years, because it’s that damn good. You are the goddamn Batman.

Sincerely,

A Formerly Enraged Fanboy.

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