Super Cast Brings Justice To This Franchise:

Justice League

 

What!?  Another super hero movie back in the theaters when we just had Thor?  Competition in the industries leads to many hasty decisions and this one was all about competing with Disney to bring in revenue and stop the juggernaut from ruling the theaters.  DC’s answer to the Marvel success, whipping out Justice League to smash the box office in what is hope to be a redeeming film.  Will this culmination bring us the film we’ve been dreaming of from the DC universe, or will it be another pale attempt to copy Marvel!  Robbie K back to bring you yet another review on the silver screen saga.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Casting:  A movie relies heavily on a cast, especially finding those worthy of holding the mantle of our iconic heroes.  Justice League’s director gets an A+ from me for the cavalcade of talent crammed into the new super team.  While Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are still not the best fillers for their roles compared to others, they did well in their involvement in the film to warrant applause.  Gal Gadot reprises her role fantastically, bringing everything we loved in her stand-alone film and delivering it in spades to this installment in looks, demeanor, and kick butt fighting.  However the highlights are Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller.  Fisher has the chip on his shoulder, passively destructive role down pat, showing the struggles of new power.  Momoa has that brashness/arrogance of a rogue who feels he is above the rules, who soon begins to understand the limits of the lone wolf.  However, Miller was spot on for the role of The Flash, capturing all the charisma, comedy, and nerdism I’ve enjoyed with the modern telling of the fast hero.  The cast works so well together, bringing the roles to life in a very entertaining manner that feels like the League of the past on Cartoon Network.

 

The Comedy:  The hero movies are starting to shift from adventure to comedy genre for me, and Justice League took a major turn down this avenue.  Much of the writing is well-timed, comedic goal, utilizing well-timed cursing, witty sarcasm, and a sharp edge banter that many love, especially when the characters fence with their insults. Of course, the Flash, has a major hand in the laughs, his geeky, naïve admiration of the heroes laying the groundwork for other comedic devices that involve both physical and mental qualities, seriously his face is hilarious.  With this comedy laid out throughout the movie, one will find it hard not to chuckle quite a few times in the movie.

 

The Action:  If you’ve read my reviews on previous DC movies, you know that the action is often weak for me when comparing to Marvel’s masterpieces.  Happily, the comic book battles that hooked us from the comics have finally started arriving.  Justice League, much like Thor, have a number of exciting moments that act as stepping stones to the excitement at hand.  Much of these brief stints are more entertaining than some of Marvel’s skirmishes, able to grab the serious tone of DC and deliver a darker fight to ensnare us.  The semi-diverse fights bring out the technology bangs, and really deliver an action-packed punch that much of this universe has lacked. Finally, this studio is getting things right.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Shallow Story/Characters:  There is a reason Marvel divided their universe into multiple, single character focused stories, in that it builds up the characters for one to latch onto.  With their failing enterprise, DC skipped a lot of steps to go directly to the group movie and as a result the character development is lacking.  Enough ground work has been laid to get the gist, but Justice League has too many story elements in it to give that satisfying feeling of accomplished storytelling.  With little mystery, buildup, and sometimes even challenge, this film’s adventure is a little rushed for this reviewer, culminating into a rather bleak, predictable mess.

 

Snyder-Vision:  The slow moving special effects were great so long ago, and still have an emotional bite to them that really maximizes the kill.  Yet Snyder can’t seem to listen to the audience members/critics, or is rebelling because he won’t stop overusing it.  Justice League continues the trend of utilizing the tactic for nearly every exciting scene, sometimes in good taste, and often in more egotistical, eye-rolling displays of drawn out cinema.  Hope you like seeing every detail at half speed, because you are going to have your fill.

 

The final battle:  After all the preparation, all the little battles to tease you, one hopes for that defining climax that really puts the battle over the top.  Justice League dropped the ball on this for me, not in terms of being lame (like Suicide Squad), but instead not being much different from the trailers.  This final battle has had much spoiled in the advertising, and rather than building upon it, like the Avengers, the movie held little flare outside of the battle with the Steppenwolf. That gigantic army you saw in the trailers… doesn’t really do much, which was so disappointing with all the hype they placed.  It was a good start DC, now finish with that bang we all want to see.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

If you read other reviews, you’ll see this movie was panned, but this critic found much to enjoy in this movie.  It’s fun, funny, and a rather good introduction to future team movies with an incredible cast to boot.  Sure, it still has some rough story patches, and they haven’t quite understood the execution of a good finale (or the balanced use of slow-motion).  Still, it’s the best movie of the DC universe for me overall, and a good comic book movie to boot.  Naturally, I’ll recommend this for the theater, and implore you to enjoy the comedic ride and chaotic action at hand in what will hope be a starting point to the next wave of DC movies. 

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

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The Stunts Draw the Eye, but The story Asks Why

now you see 2

Robbie K back again, and this time with the third review of the week. This installment focuses on yet another sequel to grace the silver screen and one I never expected, or wanted, to come. My review is on Now You See Me 2, as you can guess from my posting, an attempt to follow up on the successful thriller from 2013. But can this film follow a truly great act? Or is this merely another money making scheme whose name overshadows the quality. Let’s get to the review to find out.

If you remember the first movie, it was a crime/thriller with an underlying mystery that came to a well-concluded end. How do you top that?  Naturally, come up with an even more intriguing mystery and throw in a little vengeance on top of that. Now You See Me 2 takes place merely a year after the last installment and focuses on uncovering the mystery of the Eye, the organization that recruited our “heroes” in the first installment, who may have set them up for failure. The plot is certainly intriguing, and the team manages to throw those famous curve balls we saw in the first film. While the mystery isn’t quite as good as the first one, and the thrills are a bit stale, it makes for an intriguing story nonetheless. My mind was constantly trying to decipher how deep the rabbit hole went and just who was in cahoots when it came to dismantling the team. In addition, they added some of the character development that the last installment lacked, some of which was good and some of which was cornier than a corn maze at a harvest festival.

Outside of the mystery, the vengeance part is so-so in terms of quality. Multiple people have a vendetta against our crew and they go through extraordinary lengths to get it done. However, one of the new characters Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) was not the villain to do so and was more annoying than menacing. Regardless the plot against them wasn’t as suspenseful and a mediocre attempt to try and keep you on your seats as if there were harm to your characters. I applaud them at the good attempt, and appreciate the somewhat emotional twist at the end (which made some of the events in the first movie irrelevant), the vengeance plot was merely a scaffolding for impressive stunts.

But it’s the stunts and magic that really draw the eye in this film. Like the last installment, number 2 has plenty of convoluted plans that show some serious imagination and cleverness. Fans will be pulled into the confusion of how the gang ended up where they were, only to be wowed by the thorough explanation of how the trick was pulled off. When you pull in the fantastic use of CGI, the stunts only get more impressive as our magicians disappear in ways you only dream about. But again the realistic factor sometimes gets drowned out when a convenient opening appears for our group to take (e.g. a box magically collapsing, a trap door in the middle of a crowded street, or a mirror suddenly appearing). These moments are again cool, but a bit eye rolling when they wrap it up with one sentence, which boils down to “we wanted something cool, but we could only do it sloppily.” Overall though, these stunts prove imagination is not dead, and that originality can come in the simplest forms.

In terms of the casting, this is another major strength of the movie. Eisenberg reprises his role as Atlas who still has the chip on his shoulder and ego issues. The snarky comments are fun and funny, but for once I felt it was a bit diluted compared to some of his other roles. Woody Harrelson as the hypnotist was a grand addition and provided some of the funniest moments on the screen with his banter and dialogue. The jokes get a bit tired, but all in all his role in this film has greatly improved. Dave Franco took a bigger role in this one, bringing humor, looks, and a charming story that I really enjoyed. And Mark Ruffalo, well a little sappier and less humor, but it works on a different level than his original character. As for newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan), at first she was annoying and too over acted (an attempt at using the shallow comedy for laughs), but then she grew on me and started becoming a much more integral cog into the mix. As for Radcliffe, the actor is still solid in his abilities, but the direction of his character was more whiny brat than anything else and somewhat of a waste of his talents (think Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 movie). Despite the flaws though, the cast really supports one another and makes for an entertaining team.

Overall Now You See Me 2 is a fun, entertaining sequel that I enjoyed. The stunts are exciting, the plans convoluted, and the acting is top notch on most grounds. While the story isn’t quite as thrilling, and there are components that didn’t work for me, it still outshines most of the stuff that hits the theaters these days. I recommend a theater visit for this one as well, but you’ll probably get the most out of your money if you rent in about three months. Regardless, enjoy the show and may it be as entertaining to you as it was for me.

 

My scores:

Action/Comedy/Thriller: 8

Movie Overall: 7