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 Women of Mad Max and Their Infinite Glory

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Being a film lover and avid feminist, great women in film have always fascinated me; both in front of the camera of behind it. Directors like Ava DuVernay and Kathryn Bigelow, actresses like Natalie Dormer and Angelina Jolie and characters like Thelma & Louise all fueling my love for strong women.

When I bagged a place at the press screening for George Miller‘s semi-reboot of his cult-classic Mad Max series, Mad Max: Fury Road, I was exceptionally excited to bask in the glory of one of my favourite actors to watch, Tom Hardy, and revel in the visual excellence the trailers so eagerly promised. When I walked into the theatre, I expected an all consuming action-adventure with a masterful level of style and aesthetic. I was not dissapointed. The film was beautiful, the action was relentless and Hardy’s performance as the strong but silent Max was bang on.

Still, I got far more than I bargained for in the way of female strength and presence, something that, to my surprise and delight, totally eclipsed the rest of the cast and production. At a superficial glance, Mad Max looks like your standard, stereotypical boys flick; but Miller skillfully creates a smorgasbord of genuinely strong and smart women that are both visually compelling in costume and make up, as well as complex in character and emotion.

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Mad Max: Fury Road tells the post-apocalyptic story of Earth gone mad. With water practically non-existent and gasoline worryingly scarce; a physically grotesque and morally corrupt Immortan Joe rules over the majority of the worlds remaining inhabitants with an iron fist. With Tom Hardy’s Max finding himself blurring the lines of lucid and insane, he roams the desert with his aim of survival interrupted by just the crazed visions of his disturbed past.

When Max finds himself at the hands of Immortan Joe’s ruthless gang, working as a human blood bank for warrior Nux, played by Nicholas Hoult; he soon gets caught up in one of the most high-octane car chases in cinema, as a group of women desperately try to escape their captors and return to land of promise and freedom.

While Charlize Theron‘s character, Imperator Furiosa, heads up the escaping War Rig; her hidden companions come in the form of Immortan Joe’s ‘wives’, five beautiful women who are kept captured for the sole purpose of breeding perfect, healthy children. Played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton and Abby Lee each play the imprisoned women and represent a varied range of fear, strength, softness and power.

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With their only purpose is to bear Immortan Joe with a healthy heir, two are known to be pregnant already; with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Splendid obviously heavily pregnant. Miller takes this forced upon state for Splendid and uses it as a position of power. Splendid uses her own body and pregnancy to protect herself and the others from Joe and the War Boys.

In one particular scene, just as the War Rig is set to be blast apart, Splendid thrusts her pregnant belly out of the moving vehicle, being held by the other Wives; as Immortan Joe quickly ceases fire and screams in rage. This play in power of both mentality and physical state is a joyfully ironic knock to Immortan Joe’s claim of possession, making for an iconic moment in the film’s narrative.

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As the other Wives and wonderfully strong women one meets along the way continue to flaunt their newly found determination, it is Charlize Theron’s Furiosa that carves out a revolutionary character for the representation of women in action films. Some have criticized that Furiosa’s character loses her feminist pull due to the glorification of violence and “girls can fight like boys” mentality, claiming that it is used as a cheap gimmick.

However, I can’t help but feel compelled by the brilliance of Theron’s performance and although yes, violence and brute force is an aspect of Furiosa’s journey; there is so much more to her character and development. There is a raw and impressive necessity to the violence that occurs. It is the strength of survival and humbling desperation and redemption that stops Furiosa from being the token bad girl.

There are moments of crushing vulnerability that juxtapose so wonderfully with the initial portrayal of impenetrable strength. She’s multi-layered and deep, without being dramatic or brash. There is an honest sense of realness and the idea of a lost sense of humanity is rebuked with her genuine care and selfless behaviour. Not once is she overtly sexualised, her appearance has been altered to defy the impossible, crushing beauty standards of contemporary living and yet she is beautiful in her actions and beliefs.

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 Miller truly does create a beautiful film; from the sophisticated cinematography, the exquisite make-up and costume and the stunning detail in each scene. However, it is the reoccurring themes of female empowerment that eclipse the films core aesthetic and narrative. With Miller unofficially confirming more Mad Max in the future, I can only hope that Furiosa and more complex female characters will join him.

Twitter Blasting & The Hate Train

Katie HopkinsKatie Hopkins is well known for her sharp tongue and blunt opinions, she’s had her fair share of the lime light- whether its via her business success or her controversial television appearances.

With her appearances on ITV day time telly, This Morning, the public have a very much love/hate relationship with the former The Apprentice contestant. Whether she’s judging children’s names, attacking larger women or slagging off the tattooed, she certainly gets people talking and she’s done it again.

Taking to her Twitter page this time, Hopkins has viciously slammed current I’m A Celebrity contestant and former The Only Way is Essex star, Gemma Collins. Take a look at the following tweets.

“Trying to work out what Gemma is good at. I think I’ve cracked it. Nom Nom Nom Nom.

“Gemma’s legs are big enough to support a grown man. Or an oil rig

“Gemma has found a way of deep frying porridge. Good skills from Big Bird. She’s got the Fat Factor

“Gemma has cankles wedged into walking boots. A sweat line is seeping out below her gunt. Gemma works glamour like no other

Hopkins’ unnecessary attacking of the TOWIE star is completely unjustified and hurtful. Since when did it become acceptable to throw a barrage of abuse at somebody who can’t even defend themselves and will not be aware of it until they’ve left the Celeb jungle?

What’s so disturbing about these hateful comments are how easily accepted they are by the general public. For a society that is so proudly against bullying in schools, why aren’t we playing by the same rules for adults? If these comments were being thrown around at children, would we react differently?

Also, what continues to infuriate me is the use of weight as an insult. I’m completely bored of people throwing around ‘fat’ and ‘thin’ as way of insults. The phrase ‘body shaming’ may be followed by eye rolls but that is exactly what this is. I’m sure Miss Collins is quite away of her own shape and may or may not be at peace with it, so when Hopkins feels the need to encourage others to take on of it, it seems ridiculously pointless to me.

Could Hopkins be the Regina George of the telly wold? I’m so over mean girls, aren’t you? Women have a hard enough time being pitted against each other by men and society, without attacking each other also.

This would be a perfect time for Tina Fey to give us all a pep-talk, group hug?

Dapper Laughs And The Dangers Of ‘Lad Culture’

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This week, apparent comedian Daniel O’Riley killed of his so-called ‘character’ Dapper Laughs, a Vine sensation that quickly gained 575,000 followers, who happily watched him parade the streets, claiming to have made many a lucky female, “proper moist” and releasing such singles as; ‘Take It To The Base’.

With sold-out stand up tours and an ITV2 show, Dapper Laughs: On The Pull, why would O’Riley decide to put to bed his famous, cheeky-chappy character? Could it have been his desire to work on something else, to stretch his comedic wings? Or could it be to do with the string of offensive, abusive and dangerous ways in which he degrades women throughout the entirety of his work? It would be the latter.

Yep, Dapper Laughs’ hopes at a second series on ITV2 were quickly dashed as a hoard of outraged individuals watched open mouthed as footage of Dapper at one of his stand-up shows saw him telling a female audience member that she was “gagging for a rape” as well as making his audience laugh by announcing; “Go down to the shops, get some rope, bit of duct tape, rape the bitch, well done, see you later”.

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His trivialization of rape and violence towards women has enraged many and there’s no doubt his latest actions have caused a final nail in the coffin effect to Dapper’s career but what is more shocking perhaps, is the ‘lad culture’ in which this behavior has become the norm.

The infiltration of lad culture is something that’s been on the rise since the late 1990’s and has since creeped into normal society in the darkest of manners. All too often are we seeing University men with ‘to-do’ tick lists on a neon t-shirt with ‘Fuck A Fresher’ being on of their most important requirements for the night. Surely, this kind of competitive, ‘lad’ behavior is putting young men and women in danger of forgetting their common sense and moral compass in order to gain bragging rights?

Recent scandal surrounding the ‘lad culture’ of today’s youth is the shocking discovery that a group of Liverpool Medical Students were conducting a ‘rape play’ that completely downplays the horrific nature of rape, justifies violence against women and glorifies misogyny. It seem’s that this kind of dangerous mentality is becoming very real and very frightening. Much like the Dapper Laughs scandal, more often than not, rape and violence against woman are all too often the butt of sick jokes that dig deep into the psyche of vulnerable people. Hearing this hideous action being justified and accepted, is only solidifying the victim blaming society we live in.

It would be foolish to say that this ‘lad culture’ is the only cause for misogyny but it seems fairly clear that this pseudo masculine sense of humor that is being drilled into young men is far more damaging than once perceived.

One can’t help but fear that while we’re making huge strides in feminist rights, we’re forgetting to teach the very basics of gender equality and that is to stop abusing women and making it so easily available to do so. When men like Dapper Laughs are given a television show to glorify rape and when convicted rapists are thrown back into a public life of fame and football, we are telling young men and women that rape and the abuse of women is a natural occurrence. How can this be right?

Another frightening example of male, ‘lad’ perspective becoming hideously misogynist is Swiss-Born so-called ‘pick up artist’, Julien Blanc. Blanc has found his way into the headlines by holding despicable seminars on picking up women, which frequently feature methods like; ignoring what they’re saying, treating women like targets to be met, playing women like they’re games, imitation, emotional abuse and general disgusting behavior to get women to sleep with him and his students. Here’s an example of one of his seminars.

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This foul, possessive mentality over women is exactly what is wrong with lad culture in general. Luckily, many men and woman are fighting hard to keep Blanc out of the country so that he cannot spit his poison out at anymore pathetic followers. However, this doesn’t heal the women that have already been affected by his backwards way of thinking.

Both men and women need to take responsibility for their attitudes towards each other and understand the kind of catastrophic effect this type of mentality has on feminism. While there are still people with these attitudes, there will never be equality. Educate yourself, educate each other. Men and women together.