Category: Comic book films

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – Two years on

So I’ve been thinking about Batman V Superman a little bit recently, with the film coming out 2 years ago almost to the day (March 27th 2016), and not to lie, I’ve re-watched the film maybe 5 or 6 times (I have it on DVD as well) and it’s actually gone up in my estimation. Okay so I initially gave it a 6.5/10 in my review for it from last year but it’s definitely grown on me, the score with Junkie XL and the legend that is Hans Zimmer is fantastic and I love the visual aesthetic to it. And in general, while I acknowledge it’s a film that’s still very much polarising to DC and comic book film fans in general, I have the feeling that it’s possibly being seen a bit more favourably to people now and I’ve seen some people who seem to see the film in a better light now after Justice League funnily enough.

Anyway I wanted to go over 3 major points/gripes people seemed to have with it and address them with my views on them, looking back on the film in retrospect with some more recent DCEU entries.

The plot’s confusing and incoherent

This is an easy criticism to throw at any film and saying a film is incoherent has to be one over the most overused descriptors in recent years, very few films are incoherent and the ones that genuinely are, literally do not make sense, I’d cite films like Holy Motors, Only God Forgives as being incoherent but that’s because of their esoteric and deliberately strange style. But to say a film like BvS doesn’t make sense completely takes away from the storytelling and ignores the pretty logical plot points there, we get and understand Batmans origins, having seen it multiple times, we see the fallout from Man of Steel and understand Metropolis got majorly destroyed, including Bruces businesses, hence he’s pissed off and wants to take down the weird alien. Superman is conflicted and unsure of himself, Lex gets them to fight each other because he’s a sociopath but is also planning to use a monster to take out Superman (who he hates), the monster is eventually thwarted but Superman dies in the process, what doesn’t make sense about that?

I mean you could argue that Lex making Doomsday seems a bit stupid, what was his long term plan with it? How could he control it? But this aside, the main story arc of the plot is completely coherent and while there is a lot in there, it’s far from confusing and OK, Bruces’ dream sequence and the Flash scene may be a bit confusing but these 3 points aside, I think the film’s good. Honestly everything else is pretty straightforward, comic book films can’t really afford to be that ‘deep’ as they need to have simple to understand plots that people of all ages can and will go and see and you see this with Marvels formula and to the point plots, same going for DC, so I think Zack Snyder did a decent job.

 

The motivation for Batman and Superman fighting isn’t strong enough

I touched a bit on this exact thing in the previous point but you completely understand why Bruce Wayne wants to stop Superman and in his current savage state, (the man is branding people… and killing them), I can absolutely see him going all out to try and end Superman once and for all in his rage, despite how short sighted and bad of an idea it is, hell even Alfred tells him its wrong but Bruce is set. Meanwhile Clark is fighting for his mothers life and there aren’t any people more dear to him than Martha and Lois, so of course he’ll do whatever he can to save either of them, if Batman wasn’t going to listen to him and keep fighting, well what else can Superman do? Bruce in his experience with seeing evil and wrongdoing in Gotham and seeing good people / things turn bad can understandably see this God like alien force as something potentially bad which is perfectly logical for him in this universe. Although as fans we couldn’t quite empathise with him because we didn’t want to see two of our most beloved comic book heroes fight – especially fans who viewed this version of Bruce as being vindictive and cruel but for the sake of the plot I think it works.

Lexs’ plan was almost full proof, though he didn’t count on the caped crusaders allying with each other. And actually I think the better criticism of their clash is that it’s not quite long enough and it would have been awesome to see them go at it for a bit longer, though you’d then have fans complaining there’s too much fighting so…. as I’m sure Zack Snyder is well aware of now, you can’t win them all.

 

There’s too much going on in the story 

Ok now this point is a lot more succinct and in some ways, fairly true, breaking things down, I don’t think there’s too much going on in Batman V Superman but there is fair amount plot point wise, with the anti-alien sentiment rising in America against Superman, leading to Batman taking action against him and people trying to frame him for murder, Superman being worshipped in other parts of the world, Lex building Doomsday, Wonder Woman being introduced. Batman being warned about the future by Flash and Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman taking on Doomsday, reading it all in a few sentences, it sounds like a lot but going through it sequentially, it’s really not that busy compared to say The Avengers, a quite fantastic film I might add but also a dense, packed story with a lot of elements to it.

And seriously if you break down the story to its core elements, what you have is growing anti-alien sentiment post the events of Man of Steel driving Batman to fight Superman, with Lex pulling the strings in the background and devising evil things, other things also happen, namely Wonder Woman coming into the fray but the main plot isn’t all that convoluted to be frank, it’s easy to follow but unfortunately gets mired by a few plot threads here and there. This isn’t anything story breaking but I can understand that criticism.

Anyway those are just my thoughts and I’m sure a lot of people haven’t changed their minds on the film but that’s fine, I’d like to encourage critical thinking and to avoid sheep mentalities, think what you want about a film and don’t go with popular opinions, re-watch and re-think films you may have thought you made your mind up on in the past and you may just find your opinion’s changed!

Ranking the MCU (with added Spiderman)

So this is an ongoing feature that I’ve been doing for the MCU as we tend to get 2-3 Marvel films a year and with their latest flick, Spiderman: Homecoming and with it being in the MCU now, what better time to update the list I thought, I do find it interesting to look back on Marvels’ films retrospectively to think about how I view them now (hey I’m a film nerd). And yeah I always wonder where new films will slot into my overall ranking but anyway, here’s my updated list with added Spiderman.

Captain America: Civil War – 9/10

My actual new favourite film of the MCU is.. well the best I say, an excellently well crafted film with twists, turns, a very engaging plot and a level of stakes and depth that’s brought into the Marvel films (well developed on I suppose) with actual loss and a feeling of responsibility put upon The Avengers, the drama is palpable and hard hitting, changing characters relationships forever, the action is spectacular, memorable and very well choreographed. Civil War feels like a crescendo of events since the first Avengers in a logical way and plays out pretty believably actually, it hurts to see your favourite characters fight and that goes to show the level of investment the MCU has over you, this is the pinnacle of the MCU so far in my opinion and deservedly so.

 

Guardians Of The Galaxy – 9/10

So I previously had some serious thinking to do with picking my number 1 but since Civil War, the original Guardians is down to number two, with it being one of the most well received films in the MCU and one of the most well put together ones as well, it’s so easily re-watchable and it just about sums up both the tone that Marvel’s been going for with their films and the reason why a lot of people love Marvels’ films. The cast is great and they play off each other both naturally and entertainingly, couple that with an interesting plot, great writing and visuals and you have Guardians, the band of misfits in a feature film that really shouldn’t have worked but did.

 

Avengers Age Of Ultron – 9/10

I love Age Of Ultron,  no joke, probably more than I thought I would and the magic of seeing The Avengers on screen again wasn’t lost for me but just enhanced with seeing even more characters, Ultron is a great, flawed villain who got more depth to him in the movies than in comics. And the new additions in Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver didn’t feel like overkill, the character interaction was great and it has some of the best writing in a Marvel film with back and forths, jokes and general dialogue and while the third act may have felt a bit rushed, the feeling of peril and tension is prevalent and the action is top notch. And I’ve actually re-watched AOU at least 4 or 5 times, a few times more than The Avengers actually.

 

Captain America The Winter Soldier – 8/10

The Winter Soldier is an excellently crafted film, bringing a needed darker and grounded tone to the MCU, it’s very much a spy thriller and it plays out similarly to a few non comic book spy films with the premise of the main, good organization being compromised or infiltrated but with some of your favourite Marvel characters in the fray, not too many comic book films have tried to be conspiracy thrillers so the ambition is here for sure. The action in it is some of the best in any Marvel film and it’s great to see some depth added to Cap and a great nemesis for him in Bucky/The winter soldier who Cap simply won’t put down… and who’s also just about a match for him physically. The plot was thrilling and engaging throughout and it had a good pay off at the end.

 

The Avengers – 8/10

The Avengers was everyone’s’ favourite Marvel film until Guardians and or Age Of Ultron and deservedly so, it was awesome to see some of Marvels’ most iconic heroes fighting… each other initially and fighting together, the writing was brilliant and you can tell Whedon really had fun with the characters and their interactions, which made for half of the films entertainment value. Loki was/still is a great villain and while he was overcome a bit easily – villains being beaten easily is a weakness for the MCU as a whole, he was a highlight of the film. The plot flowed really well and the pacing was brilliant, culminating in a really well made film.

 

Spiderman: Homecoming – 8/10

Marvels latest and great film is a bonafide hit, doing all the good things on review aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes, it has great word of mouth and I’m sure will have a pretty strong opening weekend, all credit to Sony and Marvel making that deal, having a great cast, good writing and that magic Marvel touch. Homecoming just does the really simple things well, showing Peter as a legit high school student with all the awkwardness that comes with it, Tom Holland is great in the role and backed up by great supporting actors as well as the evergreen Michael Keaton who’s great as the Vulture, it’s also a highlight to see Tony Stark in the action, just legitimizing that this is in the MCU

 

Iron Man – 8/10

Iron Man holds a special place for many Marvel fans for being the starting point of the MCU and the introduction of RDJ as Tony Stark and Iron Man to the mainstream, the film isn’t over the top or flashy but it just works really well nonetheless, it has great characterization and excellent writing. And a great balance of drama and humour, driven by RDJ as Tony, a role he seems to have been born to play.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – 7.5/10

The latest Guardians film is a right blast, maybe not to the heights of the original Guardians or Civil War but it’s a great thrill ride nonetheless, seeing the Guardians return to their dysfunctional ways and now with added members, sort of…. in Nebula and Yondu, the crews interaction again is the heart of the film and the humour has definitely been elevated, with the jokiest MCU film yet. The stakes are also upped this time around in a surprisingly deep and hard hitting turn that you probably won’t see coming, the visuals are also fantastic in easily the most colourful and vibrant looking Marvel film yet and that’s not forgetting the new, great soundtrack of course, bravo Mr Gunn, you’ve made another hit.

 

Doctor Strange – 7.5/10

An entry in the Marvel films that full on brings in the mystical and magical aspect of the comics, Dr Strange is a pretty solid film overall, first of all having a incredible cast and great casting in Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, the film brings something different to the MCU in the way Ant-Man brought something different with its heist element and Ant-Mans powers. Magical powers, fantastical and mind bending visuals to name a few things that make an appearance in the film, the plot is engaging and well balanced between action, drama and humour, like any Marvel film.

 

Ant Man – 7/10

The film in the MCU that no one really talks about anymore is a spin on the tale of the Ant Man and with Scott Lang taking on the mantle, the film is a lot of fun and brings new action and inventive visuals to the MCU, as well as a different type of hero. It doesn’t stray too far from the Marvel formula but that’s not a bad thing as the film is a good, entertaining watch, the cast is great and Paul Rudd in particular feels like a perfect choice for Scott Lang.

 

Thor – 7/10

Thor is a film I really enjoy and a film I end up wanting to re-watch the most apart from Guardians and The Avengers and it’s because it’s such a well made film, visually it’s stunning an seeing the locales of Asgard in its’ colourful, alien looking world was great. The plot is great and has an almost theatrical structure to it, coupled with the dialogue and great performances.

With Loki and Thor playing off each other, Tom Hiddlestone is fantastic as Loki and Chris Hemsworth is great as Thor. It’s also a very comedic film even for Marvel but it was balanced with drama and serious moments, expanding the MCU into other realms and worlds and bringing magic into play, in a way, paving the way for films to come like GuardiansDoctor Strange.

 

Captain America – 7/10

Captain America is a perfectly good film, very well cast, especially Chris Evans as Cap and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull but I suppose it’s just not as memorable as some of the other MCU film for me, but in saying that, it’s still a well made and enjoyable film. With some good performances, Tommy Lee Jones was great as a cynical, war weary general and seeing a different time era entirely in a Marvel film was cool as was chronicling Captain Americas’ story, which was quite compelling in itself, in relation to WWII and his fictional role in it.

 

Thor The Dark World – 6.5/10

Thor The Dark World was actually a pretty fun film, visually great like the first Thor but with added stakes, Hiddlestone gets to expand his role as a complex and damage Loki, though he’s sort of playing characters in the film the entire time for his own needs. While Thor and Jane go through some issues, they more or less make up like half way into the movie, Thor is given more of a challenge and a better villain to fight in Malekith and their final fight is great to watch with its’ dimension bending but it was a bit short. Other than that, the side characters were good comic relief for the film and made it an entertaining ride.

 

Iron Man 2 – 6.5/10

Iron Man 2 is regarded by quite a few Marvel fans as being outright bad but I disagree, the film is well made and has a tight story, RDJ is in his element as Tony and rocking the cocky billionaire persona but I suppose the film falls short of being a great film for its’ lack of a great villain, which Whiplash definitely wasn’t. The action in the film is great though and Tony /Rhodes playing off each other are still some of the funniest scenes in the MCU.

 

The Incredible Hulk – 6.5/10

The official start of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk is also ironically one of the lesser memorable films, though it does provide a solid, good portrayal of the Hulk and has some good performances in it, namely be Edward Norton and Tim Roth, the film isn’t bad but it’s not necessarily great by any means either. It also misses out on being the definitive layout for Marvel films to come in combining good humour, action and great pacing, though it does look great and it has some great action scenes.

 

Iron Man 3 – 6/10

Iron Man 3, where to begin… unfortunately the film was a misstep and just didn’t quite work for me, Tony Stark is still a great character but odd misdirection regarding Killian and The Mandarin who should just have been the actual Mandarin in the film was just unnecessary. The acting was good but trying to give Tony a dark streak and have him battle his inner demons was at odds with the tone present through the film in general, showing Tonys’ vulnerablity is a nice idea but it also isn’t really fun to watch. Also I wanted to see Iron Man in action and doing his thing, motor mouthed and arrogant but that didn’t quite happen which was a shame.

 

Spiderman: Homecoming – review

The Spiderman ‘from Youtube’ swings into theatres and into the MCU with the now 3rd live action imagining of Peter Parker, yes the third, this time it’s a part of Marvels official film slate and is directed by Jon Watts, starring Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon and Donald Glover.

The hype for Homecoming was well and truly present with people looking forward to seeing Tom Holland, an actual teenager at the time of filming, playing a teenager and of course with Spidey in the MCU and well, the hype is well deserved ultimately and right from the get go, Jon Watts infuses the feel of a coming of age teen drama with.. y’know, superpowers and it’s an interesting mix. What Homecoming manages to do well is really capture the feeling of a high school drama, something touched on in previous films but not focused on, we would see Peter in high school scenes with all your cliché tropes but we never saw him really be a teenager, vlog on his phone and gush about being excited over his Avengers cameo in Civil War, go to a homecoming dance, go to parties.

You know, actual teenage stuff, Tom Holland exudes youth and naivety that’s believable and overall he’s a great, believable Peter Parker, learning and trying to balance being a 15 year old and also one of Marvels most powerful and intelligent characters and overall, the cast is having a blast, Jacob Batalon who plays Peters best friend Ned brings a lot of laughs with several one liners and quirky teenage dialogue. Meanwhile Zendaya brings self deprecating and genuine laughs as Michelle and of course I’d be remiss to not mention Robert Downey Jr aka Tony Stark, not in the film as much as people may have feared but it’s great to see him alongside Peter Parker and not overshadowing him, mind you. Though Michael Keaton certainly tries to bring the heat and has a genuine menacing aura about him as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture, an out of his luck worker that just happens to be a criminal mastermind as well but in a way, you can see some validation in his disdain for the system that Tony Stark operates in.

Generally speaking he film is quite funny with Marvels distinctive sense of humour pervading through it and you can tell its Marvel, from funny scenes that highlight the communal and sometimes brash nature of New York, a particular funny scene with Spiderman, a guy and a car comes to mind to the funny PSAs, video tutorials to kids from Captain America himself. And this is a credit to the quippy, fast paced nature of the writing that has got a good balance of tone with a lot of levity, though there are some dark themes but importantly it isn’t soppy, focusing entirely on Peters teenage woes and doubts or 100% optimistic, we see a nuanced Peter, who is growing in confidence but still isn’t quite sure of himself, something a lot of teenagers his age can relate with, I’m sure. The action’s also pretty solid, we see Spiderman in situations we haven’t seen before, away from tall buildings for the most part which was interesting and being good at what he does but far from an expert fighter which makes the action interesting, there isn’t a hugely memorable fight sequence which may disappoint some but the set pieces are ambitious and showcase Peters quick thinking.

Ultimately, Sony and Marvels collaboration paid off and is a hit, not surprisingly, we get a quirky, legitimate high school drama with Spiderman and it works, Tom Holland is a great fit for the role and Marvels magic is clearly at what as well and I just hope this deal stays because we need more MCU Spiderman, seriously!

8/10
. Great writing, good humour throughout
. Plot has solid pacing, consistently engaging
. Feels like an actual high school drama