Man Against God: “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” Review

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a Batman Vs. Superman movie. The idea of seeing two classic superheroes duke it out on the big screen is something I thought would never happen in my lifetime. Director Zack Snyder, for better or for worse, has made that dream a reality with “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”.

Following the events of 2013’s “Man of Steel” the film deals with the aftermath of the destruction that befell Metropolis during Superman’s battle with General Zod. With the revelation that a god is now amongst them, humanity wonders if Superman is truly a savior or if he will bring doom upon them all.

Bruce Wayne, who lost friends and workers during the Metropolis battle, decides to take it upon himself to take on and destroy Superman, believing that one day the Kryptonian will turn against the world he protects.

That’s really the simplified version of “Batman V Superman” because there’s lots of story crammed into this 151 minute film. The plot ends up being the film’s biggest weakness. What should be a simple premise, Batman and Superman engaged in glorious combat, gets bogged down with philosophical and political themes of what it means to have a superhero living in our world. This sounds interesting and at times it is. But the film doesn’t take the time needed to flesh out and go in depth with the ideas it’s presenting. Eventually the film drops them completely, leading the viewer to wonder if there was a point to any of it.

Where the film shines brightest though is with its portrayal of the dark knight himself. Ben Affleck for many seemed like a questionable choice to play Batman but does he deliver. He plays a more brutal, violent Batman and the result leads to some spectacular action sequences. Watching him clean house with a group a bad guys with stealth and precision is a joy to see.

The film focuses more on Batman than it does Superman and it’s better for it. Henry Cavill, despite looking the part, is wooden as Superman. It’s not his fault though due to it seeming like he’s not given proper direction on how to play his character. You have the feeling Snyder told him “be serious and brooding” and while that works for a character like Batman, it doesn’t for Superman.

And that’s where most of the problems come from, Snyder’s direction. He can’t seem to balance all the stories that “Batman V Superman” is trying to tell. The film is all over the place, sometimes being an action movie, other times a political thriller or some moments a drama. On their own these parts work but they’re not tied together smoothly. So much so that if you were to remove certain subplots, you’ll find that they don’t affect anything at all.

Snyder does know how to make the film look pretty though and that’s the biggest strength next to Batman himself. Several scenes look like they’re ripped directly from a comic book page and it’s a visual marvel. The opening which details how young Bruce Wayne lost his parents is both haunting and beautiful to watch.

There is enjoyment to be had with “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”. When it does focus up and you see these heroes pummel each other, it’s a spectacle that’s a joy to see. Is the film a mess, yes it is. Is it a fun mess, yes also. It may not be a perfect beginning to what DC has in store for us, but it does leave one entertained and curious to what’s to come in the future.

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Monsters Have Many Forms: 10 Cloverfield Lane Review

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It’s hard reviewing “10 Cloverfield Lane” without mentioning the original 2008 film “Cloverfield”.  Just like the first, this sort-of-but-not-really sequel was shrouded in complete mystery. Nobody even knew this film existed until a few months ago when a surprise trailer for it appeared. Then there was constant speculation. How does this tie into the first one? Is the “Cloverfield” monster in this? What is this about?

It’s easy to speculate on what “10 Cloverfield Lane” could be but let’s focus on what the film is.

The film tells the story of Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who finds herself trapped in an underground bunker after being in a car wreck. There she meets her ‘savior’ Howard, played by John Goodman, and Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr., a fellow resident of the bunker. After Howard explains to her that air outside is toxic as the result of an attack, Michelle tries to figure out what exactly happened on the surface above and if she is truly safe in the bunker.

What follows, is a tense claustrophobic thriller that will keep you on edge from nearly start to finish.

Dan Trachtenberg makes his directorial debut with “10 Cloverfield Lane” and does he show that he has a bright future ahead of him.

Trachtenberg uses a slow-burn approach, letting the tension build as you the viewer try to figure out what’s going on. There’s rarely a moment that passes where there isn’t a sense of unease.

The three actors all do tremendous job but the real scene-stealer is John Goodman. He’s terrifying as Howard. The moment he appears on screen you just know that something is off with him but you don’t know what. And the film toys with your emotions towards him, he’ll seem completely insane one moment but then the next he’s the one making perfect sense.

While this could seem like inconsistent writing in some films, “10 Cloverfield Lane” does this in a way that feels natural. This leads to the audience constantly questioning who they should root for and what’s going to happen next.

The only real faults with the film comes with the expectations of those watching. With the title one automatically connects it “Cloverfield” and expects this one to be the monster movie sequel people have been hoping for. Those expecting a direct continuation of the first movie are gonna be disappointed.

Then there’s the ending which is already facing some controversy. This review won’t go into any details; however, there’ll be some who will think the ending was fitting while others will be left unsatisfied and wanting more answers than they are given.

It’s best to view “10 Cloverfield Lane” as it’s own stand-alone film. With that said, it is heart pounding adrenaline rush of a film with one of the best performances by an actor this year. Those wanting “Cloverfield 2” should probably leave those expectations at the door.

Eraserhead (1977) Review

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There are some films that are just mindless entertainment that offer viewers an escape from their everyday lives. Then there’s ones that challenge the viewer and wants them to think about what they’re watching. Then there’s “Eraserhead”.
Written and directed by David Lynch, the film tells the story of Henry Spencer who’s currently on vacation from his job. After having dinner with his girlfriend’s family he discovers that he’s the father of a newborn baby, at least it might be a baby. The view then follows Spencer as he deals with his deformed possibly not human child, his angry girlfriend and bizarre world he seems to inhabit.
A story that’s seemingly simple in premise but is anything but. “Eraserhead” is a surreal nightmare of a film. Everything is open to interpretation and to say the film is “weird” would be an understatement.
The imagery the viewer is treated with can be off-putting as well. Malformed babies that constantly cry, a woman who seemingly lives in a radiator and sperm-like creatures just to name a few. Any viewer will sit there and ask “what does this mean?”
The industrial world that Spencer inhabits can make viewers ask even more questions. Is this the result of a nuclear war? Was this caused by man’s constant building of factories and railways? Both?
At this point someone reading might be thinking this is a movie that’s a confusing mess and want to avoid it. They’re half-right. The film is confusing but it’s never a mess. Every part of the film is deliberate in it’s way to make viewer think deeper about what they’re watching.
The film is laden with themes of sexuality, fear of commitment and even suicide. It’s only when you stop taking the film literal and think abstractly do they start becoming clear.
Spencer, played wonderfully by Jack Nance, is a wonder himself also. He’s seemingly child-like in the way he simply allows people to tell him what to do and speaks to others. But under that innocent exterior, there is underlying darkness that slowly starts to become more apparent as the film progress.
The film is a marvel when it comes to its sound design. There’s rarely a silent moment as there’s constantly sounds of white noise, industrial machinery or faint music playing in the distance. It culminates into a film that constantly has you on edge due to the unsettling nature.
“Eraserhead” isn’t for everyone though. Viewers who are more squeamish may not particularly enjoy some of the sequences Lynch has in store. Those who also want a film that’s straight-forward in its meaning might want to steer away as well.
For those who want a film that challenges you and makes you think critically about what you’re viewing, “Eraserhead” is for you.

Three Movies You Can Watch On Netflix Right Now

What better way to start a new movie blog than sharing some hidden gems that you can find right now on Netflix.

 

“World’s Greatest Dad”

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Some films tip toe back and forth between the boundaries of tasteful and tastelessness. Others sprint across and keep going. “World’s Greatest Dad” tells the story of Lance Clayton, a single father who dreams of being an author despite every book he’s written get rejected by publishers. After a tragic accident, Clayton is given an opportunity to achieve the fame he’s always wanted but only if he can live what he has to do to get it. This pitch black comedy written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait offers viewers a cynical outlook at humanity that is insightful as well as morbidly hilarious. With a great soundtrack and a fantastic performance by Robin Williams as Clayton, “World’s Greatest Dad”is a tragic comedy tale that is worth watching.

“Fruitvale Station”

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Before last year’s “Rocky” spin-off “Creed”, Ryan Coogler made his name known with 2013’s “Fruitvale Station”. The film tells the true story of Oscar Grant and the final hours of his life before being shot by a police officer. Michael B. Jordan stars as Grant and delivers one of his best performances to date. As Grant goes about his day we learn more about him and how despite his flaws, he’s a good person trying to turn his life around. Giving complexity and depth to an otherwise straight forward story. The end result is a film that is powerful and is sure to stay with you long after it ends.

“The Babadook”

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“If It’s in a word or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.” Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, “The Babadook” tells the story of Ameilia who struggles with raising her son Samuel after losing her husband in a car accident. After a mysterious book enters her household, Samuel starts fearing that a creature called the Babadook is haunting their home. Despite having the appearance of a monster movie, “The Babadook” is a tense psychological film heavy with themes of loss, grief and blame that one wouldn’t expect in a traditional horror movie.  Kent does fantastic work of using suspense and your own imagination to cook up frights instead of falling into the trap of non-stop jump-scares that most horror films use today.  “The Babadook” is horror film that trust its audience to think about what they’re watching which in turns leads to a film that is unsettling and thought-provoking. You might want to sleep with the lights on afterwards.