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

Movies 2016: Worst to Best

The year 2016 will be known for a number of things – an inordinate amount of celebrity deaths and an equally inordinate amount of lackluster movies. Are these two correlated? I’m not convinced its’ not. Anyway, here is my list of movies I watched this year that was released in 2016. It’s not been a good one.

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Number 19: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice 6/10

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Number 18: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them 6/10

Number 17: Before You 6/10

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Number 16: The Choice 6.5/10

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Number 15: How to be single 6.5/10

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Number 14: The 5th Wave 7/10

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Number 13: SUICIDE SQUAD 7/10

Number 12: Rogue One: 7/10

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Number 11: The Huntsman: Winter’s War 7/10

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Number 10: Legend of Tarzan 7.5/10

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Number 9: Finding Dory 7.5/10

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Number 8: Captain America: Civil War: 7.5/10

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Number 7: Zootopia 8/10

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Number 6: The Jungle Book 8/10

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Number 5: 10 Cloverfield lane 8/10

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Number 4: Dr. Strange 8/10

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Number 3: Deadpool (8/10)

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Number 2: Bridget Jones’ Baby: 8.5/10

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Number 1: Pride and Prejudice vs. Zombies 8.5/10

Movie Review: Suicide Squad (2016)

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Plot: A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

Rating: 7/10

Suicide Squad has been the target of critics since it came out. I still decided to go watch it, because I’d been looking forward to and hoping for something a little different in the comic world. I ended up really enjoying it, so here’s my case below.

Things I liked:

The look: The neon colors inexplicably worked. I wouldn’t usually recommend it for a film, but it increased the super villainous feel of the film. I hear Die Antwoord feels that director David Ayer copied their style (I really fight against the notion that Die Antwoord are South-African, it’s too horrible to comprehend). Has anyone ever seen anything from them? Do you agree or disagree with them?

The soundtrack. OMFG frickin bananas. This soundtrack is EVERYTHING. I can’t tell you how much the music makes the film work, I really can’t. No one in their right mind would think that these songs could be combined and produce such a successful result, and yet it does. It is a combination of every good song that was made in the last few years, and I am so getting the CD when it comes out!

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Will Smith as Deadshot. I saw a really deep query somewhere questioning whether Will Smith was the character or if the character was Will Smith? I don’t know, but I can tell you that Will Smith was obviously prepared to pick this movie up and carry it himself if it was necessary. His acting is incredible in here, he left his awkward son at home this time and we’re all super grateful about it. The costume looks great, Smith injects humanity into a serial killer which should be impossible, and shines as the unofficial leader of the Suicide Squad. His role didn’t actually contain humorous content, but the way he stood up for himself and his team had some really funny moments in it.

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Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Robbie and Smith has been on the receiving end of all the positive feedback about this film, and it’s easy to see why on both accounts. Margot Robbie was impressive in the Wolf of Wallstreet, and her role in The Legend of Tarzan was a bit plain, but boy did she bring it to the table regardless of the material. Harley Quinn was the character that has been waiting for Margot Robbie to come along – she’s absolutely brilliant. She’s deranged, it is the only word accurate for Harley, and Robbie does an amazing job with her. It must have been tricky – she’s worth all the laughs and is the only female supervillian on the Squad – not an easy job to pull of both. She uses a baby voice, which is surprisingly not as grating as I thought it would be. As Smith does with Deadshot, Robbie manages to incite sympathy for her character – a woman who fell in love with a really really bad man.

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Which brings me to the bad man – The Joker, as played by Jared Leto. It’s an iconic role, and unlike Batman portrayals, The Joker has had consistently impressive portrayals. Does Leto stack up? For me? YES. I found him as deranged as his girlfriend (perhaps even more so). I think Leto did a good job. People are also angry that he wasn’t in the film as much as they wanted to see him, but I didn’t feel deprived. He is always lurking behind the scenes, his presence is there, and when he’s on screen he brings it like a complete professional lunatic. I’d actually really like a movie with more Joker and Quinn time, but ladies, PLEASE STOP SAYING YOU WANT A LOVE LIKE THIS, IT’S DERANGED AND ABUSIVE. SHEESH.

I can go on and on about the characters, because I liked them all except two (which I will mention below). I thought Jai Courtney was good as Boomerang. Can people give this poor man a break? You’d swear he’s the worst actor ever, which he certainly isn’t. He was really hilarious as Boomerang, and he looked scruffy and shady, and it was so funny. I also really liked Diablo – he was the only character who showed true remorse. Jay Hernandez looked scary and great and brought some great acting to the screen.

Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag. I was so disappointed in “The Good Guys”. Everyone was a bit of a douchebag, some significantly more than others. Rick was such a good man in a bad situation, and he was making things work for him as best he could. He wasn’t exactly nice to the Squad, but he didn’t make a job to abuse them just for the fun of it.

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Cara Delevingne had a double role as The Enchantress and Dr. June Moore, the poor archaeologist who was possessed because she ripped an ancient statue’s head off. A few things went wrong with the villainy of this particular role, but their was nothing wrong with the acting or the casting – Ms. Eyebrows did a super job.

What I didn’t like:

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On the characters, the only two I really didn’t like was Killer Croc – could anyone even hear what the guy was busy saying? I certainly couldn’t. The other was Katana – Talk about the most stereotyped character to ever reach the screen in 2016.

The harshness of Amanda Waller – I get that this woman is anything but stable, but let’s be real here – no one could sympathize with this loon. Viola Davis did an excellent job, but the character was too unsavory to even feel sorry for.

The Enchantress as the villain. As I’ve said, it has nothing to do with the casting. However, the implementation of the villain was weak, and I spent a good portion wondering why the hell there were petrol monsters to begin with.

The introduction of the characters. At its’ core, Suicide Squad is suffering because DC just doesn’t want to spend any time implementing their characters properly. I’ve refrained comparing DC to Marvel’s success in this post up till now, but I will only mention by the time Marvel launched the Avengers, they’d spent time developing characters. Is Aquaman and Wonder Woman dropping before Justice League? I would hope so – there needs to be memory for the audiences as to why the characters are doing what they are doing, not some random ten minute sequence into the characters when the movie starts.

Well, there you have it. I thought that there went a lot right with this film, and the negative hype is typical of critics. Are there flaws? Yes. Can this franchise continue? HELL YES.

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