Batman v Superman Review: A Flawed But Enjoyable Superhero Flick

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The highly anticipated Zack Snyder flick BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE hit theaters this month, taking a whopping estimated $424.1 million worldwide in it’s opening box office weekend. However, despite the impressive takings the film itself has divided critics and fans as it’s received both scathing reviews and floods of praise.

With Britain’s own Henry Cavil reprising his role as MAN OF STEELS’ Superman/Clark Kent and Hollywood hotshot Ben Affleck donning the famous cowl as Batman/Bruce Wayne; BATMAN V SUPERMAN revolves around the tension between these two superhero heavy weights as Batman begins to fear Superman’s real intentions for man kind, as he witnesses the destruction that comes with the red caped hero’s valiance.

While Batman gears himself up for battle, Superman deals with the pressure from his adorning fans and fearful critics all while trying to keep his love,Lois Lane (Amy Adams), safe. While the two hero’s nurse their egos and flex their impressive muscles, villain Lex Luther (Jessie Eisenberg) worms his way into their lives by creating the devastating Doomsday which threatens to destroy Metropolis.

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Let’s get the immediate opinion out of the way so that we can get into the nitty-gritty issues and joys to be found in the film. Do I think BATMAN V SUPERMAN was perfect? Nope. Do I think it deserves all the bashing it’s getting? Nu-uh. It really is that simple for this passive superhero fan. This film is so obviously not Marvel, there is no bright pop of colour or witty comeback round every corner. It’s dark, stormy, brooding and serious. Yes, at times, it feels like over kill but generally I found it to be an enjoyable and interesting aesthetic and tone.

One of the biggest worries when casting news broke out all those months ago were the capability of Affleck as The Dark Knight himself. Coming from a girl who originally said she’d “rather shit in my hands and clap” then see Affleck as Batman; I really liked him in the role. I take my potty mouthed words back, Affleck! I’m sorry, man. Affleck made a fine Batman but an even better Bruce. His salt and pepper hair, ginormous frame and intense personality suites this role perfectly and every time he was on screen I found myself feeling both protected by him but strangely fearful of this older, serious Bruce.

At times the intensity of his character did indeed feel a little overplayed but that felt more to do with the script from Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer. The dialogue in general felt a little stilted and many lines were delivered with any real sense of direction or delivery. Whether this was trepidation from the actors or just badly written dialogue is hard to tell but the narrative is one of the film’s weakest elements and that speaks volumes.

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Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luther was another casting choice that split fan’s opinion and I reacted to the news with a long, bored groan. Eisenberg played the character with a clever little rich boy arrogance, mixed with a genuinely unhinged edge that was better than I had imagined he would play it. With his quick wit, twisted sense of self entitlement and vast intelligence; Eisenberg played a very passable Lex Luther. Unfortunately there were times where he became a cartoon character of himself and that often felt awkward to watch. Despite this, his performance was enjoyable and there was good chemistry between our villain and our heroes.

Throughout the two and a half hour running time there were some really brilliant visuals that pushed the often lackluster narrative along nicely. Scenes such as the introduction to Justice League characters, such as Ezra Miller‘s The Flash and Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman, were great and orchestrated in a way that didn’t feel like an obvious push for the future Justice League movie. It slotted well within the plot and looked great too.

Other scenes such as Batman’s dream sequences were a little hit and miss. The problem is there was just too many of them and therefore they lost any real power within the narrative. It was interesting to see what Batman imagined the future would be if Superman reigned supreme, the soldiers bowing down to him as he rips off Batman cowl made for a nice little inclusion. However, other scenes like The Flash bursting from the screen to warn Bruce about the future felt absolutely unnecessarily and, unless you’re a fan of the comics, pretty much went straight over the audience’s heads.

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One of the biggest flaws to be found in BATMAN V SUPERMAN was what most of us flocked to the cinema to see. The actual fight between Batman and Superman, while ridiculously cool and great to watch, only really lasted around fifteen minutes. Call me greedy but I just wanted more. The choreography, performance, score and visuals for their fight were all brilliant but it just felt like it was over too quickly. With one quick mention of Martha and her impending death, Batman forgives all immediately and it just feels too easy. I wanted to see more difficultly over his decision but alas he was swayed pretty quickly.

While there are flaws to be found in the film one of my absolute favorite things about BATMAN V SUPERMAN was, without a doubt, Gal Godot‘s Wonder Woman. She was incredible and really aided the narrative with her presence. With Amy Adams’ Lois Lane had more to do than she did in MAN OF STEEL, the film was desperate for more positive female energy and Gal Gadot delivered! That brilliant electric score when she appeared on screen in all her glory really summed up her fantastic presence as Wonder Woman. Her costume was spot on, she wasn’t there as a glorified love interest and she actually plays a real hand in saving Metropolis. She was a real triumph.

I really don’t believe that there is some kind of critic conspiracy behind these negative reviews. The film is a flawed one, it really is that simple. However, despite it’s problems, I found myself sinking into my seat, drunk on pure, passive entertainment and enjoyed what I watched. They’ve got a lot of work to do before we see our characters again and hopefully they’ll learn for their mistakes in BATMAN V SUPERMAN. For now thought, if you liked it then do so without outrage at the negative reviews. If critics don’t matter, as so many are saying, then surely their opinion shouldn’t sting so much. Film is an interpretive art form- enjoy it for what it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Man From U.N.C.L.E Review: Style Triumphs Substance In Espionage Adventure

 

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With classics like SNATCH and LOCK STOCK under his belt, and bigger titles such as SHERLOCK HOLMES donning his small but impressive catalogue of work, Brit director Guy Ritchie has done a stellar job of creating a solid background of work while stamping his own unique and stylish mark on the cinema scene. He’s delved into the world of London gangsters and famous detectives but his latest flick, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E, focus’ on the slick world of 1960’s espionage.

Staring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E tells the story of CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin as they’re forced to team up on a joint missions when a shady criminal organisation works to get their hands on some devastated nuclear weapons. As their personalities and extreme work methods clash, they find themselves in the company of young, fiery mechanic Gaby as she becomes part of their complicated and dangerous mission!

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There’s no denying that Ritchie’s trademark stamp of smart and slick style drenches the film’s aesthetic, creating a visual smorgasbord of luxurious mise-en-scene, sharp editing and delicious costume. Ritchie absolutely nails the 60’s era; ensuring his audience completely inhales the glamorous tone with deep, greedy breaths. From the rolling Italian hills, the exquisitely exclusive race track, swinging party mansion to the beautiful Roman steps; THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E is just generally a great looking film.

Both Cavill and Hammer gives wonderfully comedic performances, slipping into their characters with real ease. As the smooth talking American agent, Cavill oozes charm and his slick accent is impressive throughout. A hint of cockiness makes his character irresistibly likeable, with his shady past and light fingered talents all combining to create an effortlessly cool character. Opposite him, Hammer stiffens up to portray Russian Ice King, Illya. There’ a very sweet, hidden emotional underlying to his performance; which stops the character from being too harsh and the comedic aspects to Hammer’s performance are brilliantly timed and delivered.

Together, their chemistry is hilarious, ever so slightly clichéd, but nonetheless effective and entertaining. Their constant rivalry and witty dialogue helps to push along the flow of the narrative and with the brilliant Alicia Vikander’s character Gaby cleverly slotted into the narrative to break up some of the bubbling testosterone; Ritchie creates a solid and amusing threesome ready for adventure. Vikander does a brilliant job of brining in some feisty female bad-assery, alongside the stunning Elizabeth Debicki who plays our pouty mouthed villain.

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While Ritchie hits all the right marks for style and casting, there’s less to be celebrated in the way of narrative strength. The story is by no means bad, there’s great adventure and fun to be had in separate parts of the story, but as a whole; the narrative gives little impact in the way of substance and often finds itself trailing off to little conclusion.

The final act is by far the film’s strongest, as the narrative finally gets some clarity but before that, it feels blurred and if not a little messy. It’s difficult to remember why exactly the boys are working together in the first place and if it were not for their great chemistry, it would be a bigger problem than it actually turns out to be.

Thankfully then, it’s difficult to really care about the strongest of narratives when one finds themselves so joyfully distracted by the boy’s comedic antics, Vikander’s brilliant performance and the glorious aesthetics that flaunt the screen from start to finish. It’s a little frivolous and won’t be carving out deep recognition in the vast and varied world of the Spy genre but THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E is harmless, entertaining and ridiculously good looking fun.