DC

REVIEW: Justice League (2017)

Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) team up to bring together a group of heroes to stand against a threat like none of them have seen before.

There are many things that are not great in Justice League, but the characters and their interactions are what makes this film a lot more fun and enjoyable that Batman v Superman.

The main problem with Justice League is it spends the first third of the film having to set up three new heroes we’ve not met before, Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), The Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), along with a villain in Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who has a whole backstory as well. There’s a lot of exposition to get through, some of which is heavy-handed, and it slows down the pace of the film as it makes you to wait for any of the action scenes and the main plot to start proper.

When the heroes are together it’s nice to see them getting to know one another as they work together, but unless you know these characters from comics or TV shows, you don’t know enough about them to really care about them or become attached. Still, there’s some funny moments between the team of heroes as you start to see their personalities come through.

Justice League features an end-of-the-world-plot, but you don’t really feel those stakes due to this world seemingly not be populated by anyone but the heroes and people they know. Even when clashes between heroes and villains happen in a major city, there’s no one but the heroes around – it’s quite jarring and makes the threat not feel threatening.

Justice League is watchable, the characters are fun and the action (when it happens) is mostly exciting and engaging. However, the editing in fight scenes don’t always make everything clear and the plot itself has neither high stakes nor is always coherent. It’s the step in the right direction for the DCEU but it is a step down from Wonder Woman. 3/5.

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REVIEW: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters but when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance and instead breaks Amazon law to save one mortal, Alia Keralis. With this single act Diana not only puts her home, Themyscira, in danger but the entire world. Alia is a Warbringer – a descendent of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of conflict and pain. Diana and Alia will face enemies, mortal and divine, determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. The only way they can save the world is to stand together.

I had some trouble getting into Wonder Woman: Warbringer to start with. I think it was because I had both the film and the various comics featuring Wonder Woman I’ve read in my mind at first, where Diana was an adult and more respected and experienced with her abilities compared to the seventeen-year-old Diana featured in this book. But after 50 pages or so I got used to it and found myself falling in love with this Diana and her story.

It may sound a little cheesy but this book is about the power of friendship and girls sticking by one another. The friendship Diana and Alia forge in the face of such differences and with pretty much everything else against them is admirable. Also, Alia’s best friend Nim is great, she’s opinionated and doesn’t really have a filter but she’s so incredibly loyal. It’s the interactions between Diana, Alia, Nim, Alia’s brother Jason and their friend Theo that really makes this story. Through banter between them all you get to see what connections are already there and how they grow and adapt when Diana comes into the picture.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a great blend of action, drama and humour with a sprinkling of Greek mythology. While there are some fantastical elements, it always feels grounded. It’s an intriguing mystery that ends up with a thrilling finale that I couldn’t put down – I ended up reading it in just two days!

In the end, Wonder Woman: Warbringer gave me the same feeling as the recent Wonder Woman film did. It’s all about finding your inner strength and believing in the best in people and what they could potentially achieve. It’s a fast-paced adventure that I feel is perfect for both new and old fans of Diana. 4/5.

REVIEW: Wonder Woman (2017)

When pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands onto the home of the Amazons, bringing news of a war to end all wars, Diana (Gal Gadot) leaves her home and all she knows to go fight to save those who can’t protect themselves.

Diana is a brilliant hero. She’s confident in her powers and her beliefs so there is none of the “oh the pains of being a superhero” that you often see in superhero movies. She is strong and compassionate, and while she doesn’t always understand the world of Man, the film never makes it into a big deal or is condescending about her lack of experience.

There’s humour to be found in her bewilderment and it’s all very charming but never patronising. I think that’s one of the great things about Wonder Woman, it’s never defensive about its titular character nor its story, it’s sincere in the way Diana and the film itself, celebrates inner strength and the power of love and compassion.

In many ways, the film makes you wait for the action sequences, instead spending time allowing the characters to talk and learn from one another. These quieter moments are never boring and are often funny. That said when the action and fights do happen, they’re brilliant. The way you see Diana, and the rest of the women of Themyscira, fight is magnificent. They are all powerful and skilled and the way the camera shows off their skills is captivating. There is so slo-mo used, which does make sense as Diana can move super-fast, so you can really see how she avoids gunshots and bayonets.

Diana is an amazing character and the shots of her fighting side by side with Steve, and leading him and Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner) and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) into battle gave me chills. Gal Gadot gives a great performance, showing both Diana’s power and sensitivity in the face of war, and the quieter moments between her and the other characters are a delight. While there is sometimes a joke made about a woman in battle, none of the men who fight by Diana’s side ever doubt her or her abilities.

The villains in Wonder Woman aren’t the most well-developed but as that is something that could be said of a lot of superhero films, it’s not a huge complaint. I would much rather have a film with a fantastic hero and a mediocre villain, than a great villain and a dull hero. Ludendorff (Danny Huston) is an army General with grand plans and Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) is a master at making poisons, she was an interesting character and it’d be cool to have learnt more about her.

Wonder Woman is a wonderful film. It’s very much a traditional superhero origin story but is a lot more charming and sincere with it. Diana is a brilliant hero who brings a sense of hope to the world. 4/5.

REVIEW: Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide-Squad-posterSecret government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) puts together a team of supervillains to take on a dangerous covert mission in exchange for shorter prison sentences.

Suicide Squad tries to juggle a lot. There’s a lot of characters so it begins with a bit of backstory for more of the major ones, namely Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) courtesy of Amanda Waller and a case file. The rest of them have less than a minute backstory and trying to set up all these characters this way did make the film slow to start. However, when you think the backstories are done and you can focus on the main plot of the movie, i.e. the mission, there’s flashbacks sporadically throughout the film that really interrupts the flow of the whole thing.

As well as the mission at hand, there’s also the Joker (Jared Leto) in the background, popping up every now and then to cause problems and provide more of a backstory for Harley Quinn. Much has been made of this new Joker and while he is naturally a lot different to previous incarnations, he is just OK. He is more of a gangster and his voice and laugh does sound odd and not necessarily in a good way but he is not on screen enough to really make much of a last impression.

The soundtrack to Suicide Squad is notable but not in a good way. It’s full of memorable songs ranging from Eminem to Queen and even features Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum – that one really doesn’t fit in the film. It’s as if the filmmakers wanted to have music queues for certain characters and just shoved in as many cool songs as they could think of. It was jarring and didn’t work for a lot of the film.

Suicide Squad is an entertaining film for the most part but it’s not as fun as the trailers make it out to be. Also while you don’t need jokes in every superhero film, any attempt at humour in Suicide Squad fell flat. Lines of dialogue or moments that were clearly set up to cause a reaction from the audience just don’t. These characters are an eclectic bunch and with a good script they could easily have bounced off each other and had some humorous moments or lines but there was nothing.

The big problem with Suicide Squad is by the end of the film, it wants you to feel like these characters all care about each other and even go as far to see themselves as a family unit, but it doesn’t do enough to make you feel that way. The film keeps focusing on the mission rather than the characters on the mission. Deadshot and Harley Quinn are the most fleshed out on the team and they actually have multiple interactions so you can see their relationship grow but all other characters are secondary and barely have any lines between them.

Suicide Squad is OK. The action sequences are entertaining but the film does nothing to make you care about these characters and that’s where it really falls down. 2/5.

G is for Cat Grant

cat grantI’m seriously behind with watching Supergirl but Cat Grant was one of the first characters I fell in love with on the show. She’s a working mother who is also CEO of her own company, CatCo Worldwide Media, which she built from scratch – in many ways she’s like white feminist goals.

Cat may seem brash and dismissive of her employees, especially her assistant Kara Danvers aka Supergirl, but she’s shown to have a softer side and when people show they are capable and do a good job she notice’s and give credit where it’s due.

I like Cat Grant so much because she’s a smart business woman who has had to work her way up through the ranks in order to really make her mark on the industry. I admire her for that and especially because she’s a high-ranking person in a male dominated industry. She stands by Supergirl and often give Kara pep-talks that may seem a bit mean but are also motivational. The scene in Red Faced where Cat takes Kara out for drinks after Kara shouted at her is great because she talks to Kara like a person and explains why you can’t get angry at work, and that especially a woman can’t get angry, and you have to figure out what’s making you angry and then deal with it. It’s a great scene and a really important moment.

REVIEW: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

batman v supermanBatman (Ben Affleck) vows to take on Superman (Henry Cavil) when he fears that if the alien’s actions remain unchecked, it could mean even more pain and destruction for humanity. Meanwhile Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is using Kryptonian technology to fuel his own ambitions and the world tries to decide what sort of hero they want and need.

This is Ben Affleck’s first outing as Bruce Wayne/Batman and he is brilliant in both roles. He is an older Bruce Wayne who has been the Batman for twenty years so he’s seen some stuff and is a bit world-weary and cynical. His relationship with Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is great and Alfred in general offers some great lines and the film shows how well Alfred and Bruce work together. All the Batman-related stuff is definitely a highlight of the film.

When Batman and Superman fight, it is brutal and it’s kind of great to watch. These are two of the biggest superheroes out there so to watch them duke it out is a sight to behold. Also when Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) finally makes her appearance it is an amazing “hero” moment and the soundtrack that starts when she appears is my new favourite piece of music.

The main problem with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is that there are a lot of characters with their own agendas so there are a lot of plot threads that don’t always seem vital or complete. Bruce Wayne has his own agenda, Lex Luthor has his own agenda and so does Wonder Woman, Clark Kent and even Lois Lane (Amy Adams). All these things are there and some of them are interesting but they just don’t really tie together that well. All these threads mean that the film feels really disjointed and the pacing isn’t that great a lot of the time, the first hour chunk especially is trying to set up so much stuff that it feels a bit bogged down and slow.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the launching pad for the DC Cinematic Universe and while it does a good job setting up some characters like Batman and Wonder Woman, sometimes it feels like it’s too much of a set up and there’s a moment where the film seems to pause to show off some characters that we’re very likely to see in future films. Batman v Superman feels like it’s trying to be too many things. As well as being a starting point for a new franchise, it feels like a gritty action film and a political thriller with the courtroom drama stuff. It feels like there’s too many ideas gone into Batman v Superman and not all of them worked or fitted together cohesively.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an alright film, there’s some great moments that really pull you in but on the whole there’s too much going on and the pacing of it isn’t so great. 3/5.