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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice…a review.

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I cannot believe I have not yet reviewed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first pairing in live action of the two most iconic Superheroes in the world. There was a ton of expectation riding on this movie. The movie was heavily criticized by the professional pundits and under performed at the box office although it still made the studio money. One of the reasons for this is that the studio did not put out the three hour extended cut of the films into the theater. What was released to the theater was a truncated version of the film that was not very coherent in places. Note to film studio. Leave Zack Snyder alone and let him do his job, he knows what he is doing!

Therefore this review will be of the theatrical cut.

All movies do have their flaws…which is simply another way of saying “I would have done it differently” and although this movie is no exception the Pros greatly out weight any Cons it may have. I really enjoyed this movie so without further delay, the Pros and Cons of this film. Cons won the coin toss so they will go first. ūüôā

Cons:

The story, even in the Extended Cut, still has some issues. The scene in the desert where Lois is interviewing a terrorist and then all hell breaks loose, it really isn’t too clear what is happening. One example, Batman brands his criminals and they end up getting killed in jail/prison…but the movie never tells you why they are being killed in jail or the motives for killing them.

Alfred. I think over all Jeremy Irons did a good job but his cynicism got old after a while. Plus, if he thinks Batman was going down the wrong road and becoming something corrupt, then you would think that he would have confronted Bruce long before he did in this movie. It seems Alfred was just as jaded as Batman was in this movie.

Death of Superman. I do understand that his sacrifice was to show the world that he truly is a force for good in the world and that he will use his powers to help and not hurt. However, maybe my objection is more about the elaborate funeral they gave Superman, because it all seems too soon because it really doesn’t feel Superman truly earned the accolades and the grief. In the movie Superman has been around less than two years and there is much controversy surrounding him, he certainly isn’t universally loved.

Death of Clark Kent. This is unprecedented. Sure, they have shown Superman die in the comics and animated movies, but they always have found a way to excuse Clark’s disappearance until Superman returns. This movie paints quite a dilemma where they are acknowledging both Clark and Superman are dead! How can they bring both back without the world knowing Clark Kent is Superman!?

Pros:

Good Story. Despite the story being muddled at times the story is very interesting and engaging. It really is not a story about Batman and Superman fighting, it is a story of redemption for both iconic characters.

Superman’s character arc. I like the idea in this universe where Superman isn’t a Mary Sue Boy-scout where everyone except the villains despise him and don’t trust him. In the real world we would have people truly fear and distrust Superman so I like that realistic approach and¬† how Superman has to cope with that reality especially in the face of life taking disasters committed to tarnish his name.

Batman’s Character arc. I love how this is an older and cynical and jaded Batman who has gone through many tragedies himself. We see that Robin is dead, Wayne Manor has been burned to the ground and Batman is an outlaw. I loved the scene where we fist see Batman in the room where he just branded the criminal and he is lurking in the shadows. Classic Batman! I also like how Batman comes to once again have faith in humanity restored. The scene where he rescues Martha Kent in the warehouse is the best live action scene of Batman ever put to film.

Special effects. Excellent. I love any time Superman takes flight!! Doomsday is created with such life-likeness! Great eye candy!

Good pacing. Even though the Extended Cut is three hours long the movie flows well without any slow spots at all.

Lex Luthor. I think Jesse Eisenberg was great as Luthor…yes he is Lex Luthor and not the son of Lex as many claim, he was bitter, psychotic and unpredictable.

Wonder Woman. What can I say? She was awesome! Gal Gadot was simply amazing as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince and she stole the show! I also loved the cameo glimpses of Aquaman and The Flash and Cyborg!!

I want to close by speaking of the controversial Martha scene. Sure, it is a bit cheesy but I do understand what they were doing and I think it was a great idea and worked although all it needed maybe was one line of dialogue. That was the moment Batman realized how far he had fallen and that he had become the very thing he had dedicated his life to fighting against. If Batman would have said that to Lois and Superman in some verbal way, I think it would have helped.

I really enjoyed this movie despite some of its flaws. All-in-all a good introduction of Batman in the DCEU and I look forward to more movies with these characters!

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Guilty Pleasures

Last Wednesday I listed movies I do not like. This week I list my 6 favorite guilty pleasures. 

Back in the early 1990s I called a local radio station in Rochester NY that had a movie reviewer, Bill Klein, and I asked him a question about how he reviewed movies that he knew were not really good and he should give it a negative review but for some reason he liked the movie anyway. He told me he called them ‚Äúguilty pleasures‚ÄĚ and he said would be honest in his reviews about them being guilty pleasures.

Today I will list my top five guilty pleasures. These are movies that the majority of the professional reviewers and the fan base generally do not like but for reasons, which will be explained below, I do enjoy them a great deal.

Batman & Robin 1997

This movie literally brought the Batman franchise to a grinding halt. Warner Brothers had planned on doing a sequel to Batman and Robin entitled Batman Triumphant, with the Scarecrow as the main villain until this movie tanked at the box office. I have even read that director Joel Schumacher has apologized to the fan base for this movie.

I grew up on the Batman TV series starring Adam West which was pure camp and very fun to watch. I think Batman & Robin is in that same vein because it is fun and campy as hell! I also think there is a good story in there. I like the addition of Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. Her rebellious nature and desire to help her uncle Alfred out is touching. The conflicts between Batman and Robin as they learn to trust one another is good character developments as is the relationship between the dying Alfred and Bruce Wayne. Both Arnold Schwarzenegger and  Uma Thurman, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy respectively, chew up the scenery with witty puns and dialog that made me laugh and groan.

Some have cried blasphemy that I actually prefer to watch this over The Dark Knight. Sure, I get in the mood for a more serious take on Batman and will watch the Christopher Nolan movies, but most of the time I will watch the two Schumacher movies because they’re a heck of a lot of fun! I could have included the other Schumacher Batman movie, Batman Forever, in this list because that had uneven reviews. But Batman Forever isn’t as hated as Batman & Robin. I must admit that I do like Batman Forever more than Batman & Robin.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier 1989

It was actually many years before I learned that this movie was not well received by the fan base. Star Trek V did elevate the comedy which the very successful Star trek IV: the Voyage Home had originated. I saw this movie in the theater back in the summer of 1989 and the theater was jam packed and people were laughing and having a good time and I was one of them. I left the theater entertained and happy with the movie.

But it didn’t do that well at the box office (it made only $52 million) and a large majority of the fan base did not like it. Today I think some of the comedy has not aged well but there is still a good movie in there. I think the way the relationships between Kirk, Spock and McCoy were examined and expounded upon have never been done better. I liked the ‚Äúvillain‚ÄĚ of Sybok, Spock’s emotional half-brother. Was he crazy, insane or a misguided religious nut? I think the movie does demonstrate how we must keep our beliefs anchored in rationality. I have reached a point in my life where I need to have some type of evidence in order to believe in something, otherwise we can believe in anything under the sun without evidence. So, I think Trek V clearly demonstrates that wisdom. Plus…say it with me…it is a lot of fun.

Planet of the Apes (Time Burton) 2001

First of all I must admit I am really not a big Tim Burton Fan. I liked the first Batman movie he did, I really liked Beatlejuice and this movie…that is about it. Now I do not think this movie holds a candle to the 1968 original starring Charleton Heston. I think the that movie is the best science fiction movie ever and a well deserved classic. What makes this remake a guilty pleasure for me is the story. Spoiler alert if you have not seen the movie. In this movie the planet where the apes live is not earth but we find out it is the events which Mark Wahlberg’s character sets in motion at the start of the film are what caused the planet to become what it had become in the future. That is a good twist. I love time travel movies as well so it has that in its corner. There is genuine humor and good action as well as some things I didn’t care for. For example, the settings feel cramped and claustrophobic at times. Helena Bonham Carter, whom I always like, has ape makeup that makes her look too human and not ape-like enough. This movie does have some great action scenes and great special effects.

Godzilla (American) 1998

I am a huge Godzilla fan. In the last few years I have rekindled my love for the franchise. I also love giant monster movies in general so I really enjoyed this lighthearted, fun adventurous take on Godzilla. I don’t want to say too much about the movie because I will be giving it an official review in my Friday’s review of the entire franchise. I am doing those in chronological order and I will be doing my full review in the weeks to come.

I remember reading some hard-core fans reaction to this movie and they called it GINO…Godzilla In Name Only. I rolled my eyes and thought they’re just being too harsh and ridiculous. However, I have come around to their way of thinking. I do see the monster as Godzilla in name only because the monster depicted in the movie does move too far away from the established characteristics of the Japanese Godzilla. However, the main difference between me and the vast majority of the fan base is that I still love the movie. I also love the design of GINO, or Zilla as he is called by Toho, so much that I have a two foot tall figure of him in my home.

Judge Dredd 1995

Judge Dredd is a comic book character and the film, starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider, plays like a comic book movie. I must admit the tone is a bit uneven as there are some real funny moments with Rob Schneider’s character who is there purely for comic relief, and then there are some bloody and dark serious moments with Armand Assante. I have not read the comics and this movie supposedly deviated too far from the the comics for the fans. I guess the main point was that Judge Dredd never is seen with his helmet off and in the movie you hardly see Stallone with the helmet on!

Stylistically the view of the future looks identical to the way it was depicted in the Bruce Willis movie, The Fifth Element. I have never read the comic so the complaints do not bother me in the least. I love Stallone‚Äôs over the top portrayal of the Judge and the movie has a lot of great action sequences and Rob Schneider, a person people seem to love to hate, is really quite good in this movie and it wouldn’t be the same without him. There is a new version of this movie coming out, starring Karl Ubran from the Lord of the Rings and Star Trek 09. This version looks to be more authentic to the comic and more dark and gritty which is the way Hollywood seems to be going, but my question is…will it be as fun and enjoyable as the original?

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 1999

I never understood the hate for this movie.¬†Honestly¬†the entire franchise is uneven. I am not the biggest Star Wars fan and I think the original movie is by far the best, but all of the films are not perfect and I think the¬†Star Wars: Phantom Menace ¬†doesn’t deserve the bad rap it gets. Sure the kid playing young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, is painful to watch in some places but over all the movie is the best of the prequels in my opinion. I think the movie is¬†spectacular¬†to look at. I think the¬†performances¬†by Liam Neeson and¬†Ewan McGregor really make this movie. With apologies to Sir Alec¬†Guinness¬†I think¬†Ewan McGregor eqaully captured the character of¬†Obi-Wan Kenobi. Natalie Portman is also as cute as a bug in this movie and really protrays the sweet innocent charms of¬†¬†Queen Amidala aka Padme.

George Lucas has mentioned that the Star Wars saga is based of of old serial shorts of the 30s and 40s. That is very evident in this movie and I mean that in a positive way. This movie is filled with spectacular scenes of action and adventure. The pod race alone is worth the price of admission. Sure it gets bogged down in the boring politics of the series but other than that it is a great visual extravaganza and has a larger than life epic feel accompanied by the brilliant work of composer John Williams. For what Star Wars is supposed to be, a fun action adventure space fantasy, Phantom Menace sure does deliver and it is my 2nd favorite Star Wars movie after the original.