Movie Review: Aquaman (2018)

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Plot: Arthur Curry, the human-born heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, goes on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land.

April is such an exciting month! Avengers Endgame AND Game of Thrones! Yup, I’ve seen the first episode, and it was good, I just can’t see myself reviewing per episode on here. Since I am SO ready for Endgame, I thought I would do a quick post on the only superhero movie I have seen that I haven’t put on here yet, Aquaman (although not even in the same universe, ha).

I saw this in the cinema in December 2018. It got some good reviews and reached the billion dollar club (The club which is not so elite anymore, but anyway). Some people thought this was a great film, and that’s okay. For me it was merely decent and while better than some of the other DC flicks, it still left much to be desired.

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I love Jason Momoa – he’s marketable, funny, beautiful and impressively big. I am not convinced he’s the best actor on the planet, but at this stage he doesn’t need to be. He chooses this big and gruff roles because it actually looks like that is who he is as a person. He does fine with Stephen Curry, and even though there are moments where he isn’t utterly convincing, he does remain one entertaining man. And even if he was terrible, you still get to see a really big and attractive man wet and built for two hours and 22 minutes. The love story between him and Mera (Amber Heard) felt really forced and unnecessary. A couple of superhero films have done really well by now without some romantic entanglement, and I think this would have survived without that as well.

Nicole Kidman plays Arthur Curry’s mom and the Queen of Atlantis. She’s named Atlanna, just so that no one gets confused who she really is. It’s a role far beneath her acting abilities and she navigates the sea without much issue. If you can believe that she mothered Momoa’s genetics, you can believe anything.

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Patrick Wilson plays Curry’s half-brother King Orm. He’s a terrible leader in this movie and also has dealing with the pirates Curry tackles in the beginning of the film. Other than Wilson’s deeply upsetting hairstyle, he does a decent (if one layered) villain. This is a nice setup for a second movie to begin with, which I am sure after a billion dollars no one will hesitate to commit to.

At the core, this origin story is nothing new. The release was well timed, in time for the relaxed holiday viewers. The last battle will leave you feeling exhausted because it is just so stupid and long. It’s really not that bad, just cheesy and silly. I definitely won’t commit to a second viewing, but that isn’t because of the quality – I rarely feel that superhero movies need to be watched twice.

Rating: 6/10

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Movie Review: Justice League (2017)

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Plot: 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.

You can say a lot about the lackluster of appeal the majority of movies DC has eked out has, but I do admire how devoutly DC sticks to Zack Snyder. Whether it is detrimental or genius or blindly devout, they are sticking with this guy and we must all just deal with it. Patty Jenkins did a fantastic job with Wonder Woman, and she’d be a strong contender for any DC material out there, but I guess these guys are just not ready to let a woman do the job she’s certainly qualified for and choose a lesser able man to do it.

BUT, despite what the internet is telling you (Seriously people, you don’t have to hate everything just because it’s fun to smack down films), Justice League qualifies as one of the better DC movies. Certainly second to Wonder Woman, but compared to the joke that was Suicide Squad (which I didn’t hate completely) and the absolute disaster that was Batman vs. Superman (I’d like to forget that one completely), the Justice League is nearly Oscar material in comparison.

Snyder, who I’d like to say at this stage it can’t all be his fault, has a distinct modus operandi. The excessively dreary dialogue and repressive atmosphere that makes you question why you ever liked movies, the irritatingly long fight scenes (remember Zod vs. Superman? FML), the monumental and recurring and completely unnecessary GCI. It’s exhausting, but up until this point DC has not suffered at cinema. They have likely noticed how much more popular their competitor was, and it was a really good decision to attempt some lightheartedness while also keeping the signature dark style.

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However, only one of these irritations became a reality. The fight sequences were handled ridiculously quick compared to Batman vs. Superman as well as the drawn out Superman film in 2013. There were attempts at humor, which worked for the most part. The story was less cluttered and the dialogue had a clear direction. The CGI was the main culprit and was horribly abused. Since Henry Cavill is on the poster, it can be safely deduced that he’s in the film, so that is not a major plot spoiler I’m giving you now (or if it is you lack deductive skills). Followers of Cavill on Instagram will know that he’s sporting a moustache for an upcoming Mission Impossible film. (He, and maybe Tom Selleck, remains the only men to successfully WERK the moustache) He was contractually obliged to keep said moustache throughout shooting, and when Justice League reshoots clashed with the ‘stache, the powers that be decided to CGI the shit out of Cavill’s face. The results are startling, leading many people to wonder if he is, in fact, Human Shrek. The scene where his face is altered is clearly visible and terrible work – I can’t imagine how that got approval. His resurrection is fake and devoid of feeling because of CGI-Superman. I was confused in cinema – his face was distorted and it looked terrible. I sat in the second row of the cinema (was fully packed), so got a very close up and disturbing view of CGI-Superman. Even knowing now why he looked like that does not make it better in any way.  He had a whole lot more teeth than what is usually visible on his beautiful and talented face. That said, Cavill is a superb Superman – he has the gravity required for the success of the role and certainly looks the part. It also takes a whole lot to convince me that Jason Momoa is the second prettiest thing on screen.

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Justice League is miles, and I mean MILES, better than Batman vs. Superman. Ben Affleck has become more comfortable as Batman, he has some believability in the role now, and manages to inject some humor and sarcasm into his portrayal that was desperately needed. He has injected a humanity into his portrayal that was absent in BvsS, something that made him that much more a success of a character. There are also multiple mentions to the fact that the reason he’s a superhero is because he’s rich, which got some chuckles from the crowd. Ezra Miller is a great Barry Allen – he’s so hilariously young and awkward and he is responsible for making the movie more lighthearted. I’ve been pained by Miller in the past – his usual roles are so weird and whiney, but he was an excellent choice for this role. I could have done with some more backstory on Allen, as well as with Cyborg (also an excellent casting choice in Ray Fisher), and the delicious Arthur Curry (Momoa). They showed enough of him to make me excited to watch Momoa as Aquaman for that origin story. It struck me that it was the first time I heard Momoa actually speak English (his other native tongue being Dothraki), and for his major return to the spotlight this seems to be a great role for him.

Wonder Woman returns to Gotham, and her work is questioned by Batman, who displays into the White Man syndrome fantastically. He queries why she hasn’t been a beacon to people, never considering that she gets to make that choice herself. All her actions are basically only to show how strong her male colleagues are, and when Aquaman (Jason Momoa) sits on the Lasso of Truth, her beauty is complimented whereas Superman, Cyborg and The Flash have their abilities complemented, a sure sign that a male director called the shots. I love Gadot as Wonder Woman, and it is an unquestionably the better film. I’ve seen some unhappiness by the Amazonian’s decidedly smaller costumes, and it’s true – Themyscira underwent a troubling fashion change at the hands of Snyder.

I cannot stress enough how good the casting is in this film. Ezra Miller impressed me to no end, and he has a quirky banter with his team mates. He even manages to be endearing. Momoa is well, Momoa, big and manly and tough. The glimpse into the underwater world we will get to visit in Aquaman was beautiful, and I can’t wait.

A not so good thing about Justice League is the utterly forgettable Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). He’s poorly introduced, and for all the hard work in keeping the “boxes” safe, he just smashes through all lines of defense. He is also yet another CGI villain from DC. His vampirish followers are slightly scary. His end is ridiculous and leaves room for so much open ended questions. Where did he even go? That end is also preposterous – as my friend pointed out we have all these super-humans battling Steppenwolf and the second Superman pitches everything is saved? What is the point of the Justice League then? How about the incredible Cyborg? The warrior Wonder Woman? The Flash that is seemingly only as fast as Superman, eliminating the need for him almost entirely? Aquaman that saves the team from certain death by water?

I’d love seeing a more realistic villain – this guy was so vague about his purpose and half the time he was a secondary focus point. Can we maybe have less CGI villainy and more real-human villainy? I hope with Lex Luthor in the credit shots we are going to have that the next round.

I enjoyed JL – it is not without flaws but it is the first real attempt DC made to correct their ensemble films. It’s been a good year for these guys and I’d love to see what they conjure up next year.

Have you seen Justice League? Leave your thoughts below

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Magic Mike XXL (2015)

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Plot:Three years after Mike bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance.

Rating: 6.5/10

The thong wearing boys in bandannas are back. Whether we really wanted them to or not, they are and they are humping more than ever. Anyone who labels this franchise as good really shouldn’t be allowed to speak out loud, and I’m guessing they think Fifty Shades of Grey is the best movie of the year, but XXL isn’tthat bad. Sure, brain cells die and straight men won’t watch it no matter how whipped they are, but it can be fun if you take a good dose of humor in. Maybe some wine as well, as Andie MacDowell’s character discovered.

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I will go as far as to say that XXL is slightly better than the first movie. It works hard for some humor, and although the delivery is terrible in places, it was cute. The cheese is nearly as bad as The Expendables franchise, and I cringed in some places. Most of it comes from Joe Manganiello, who talks ALL THE TIME. I’m not sure why they upgraded him from all that grunting in the first movie. He’s the type of guy who just needs to grunt and girls are going to be happy. With plenty of references to his extra-large… package… and extremely corny lines, this guy is all over the place. I mean: “you want to pop the hood” is an actual line in here. Priceless. I’m not overly surprised how bad it all goes down as his main claim to fame is being Alcide Herveaux in True Blood. Matt Bomer gets time on the screen too, some character lines, which was nice – he is one of the few in here who has acting skills. He also looks like Prince Charming. Gorgeous.

Then there is the delightful Channing Tatum, a man with so much charm and boyish good looks he can do anything and make it work. He seemed a bit bored with this movie, but he was cute and entertaining all the same.

Then there is the fairly large female ensemble cast – starting with Amber Heard who made a much better lead female character than the very irritating Brooke in the original Magic Mike. Heard, who plays Zoe, is really not annoying, and that is just great. Her role in here is murky since there is no involvement between her and Mike. She’s just a girl who is charmed by Magic Mike, but no sexy sexy apparently. Which turned out fine – I really hope all women out there get that male strippers are not there to love you.

Jada Pinkett Smith also has a role as a sexy lady with lots of money who helps out Mike and his friends when they need it. Then there is Andie MacDowell who just really made me cringe with her stereotypical older wine loving mama. Elizabeth Banks also does a surprise pop-up, which I don’t really understand but rolled with it.

Anyway, don’t watch it if you are a straight male, or a female that takes offense quickly. It is hilarious though, embarrassing and perfect for a girl’s night full of silliness. No one ever got hurt by looking at gorgeous male bodies, did they?

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PS: Maybe just their dignity.