Spiderman: Far From Home ★★★★☆

Following the dramatic conclusion of the Infinity Saga, Spidey swings back in to close Phase 3 with another MCU gem filled with laughter and drama. It probably could have waited a few more months before hitting the screens, but it wraps things up well! Onward to Phase 4…………

Directed by: Jon Watts

Starring Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Samuel L. Jackson


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Justice League – Not Bad, Not Great

After all the anticipation, DC’s Justice League finally hits the big screen, with all the pressure of the entire DCEU on its broad shoulders, how does it preform? It is a roaring success like Wonder Woman, or more of the same, like Suicide Squad?


The Good – Wonder Woman & The Flash

Wonder Woman proved to be a monumental success in the Summer, and it’s no surprise that she is by far the most relevant & interesting member of the group. Her role in BvS was disappointing, considering the power that she wields, but here, Gal Gadot shines again as the beacon of hope. With everything she does, she could easily be the de facto leader of the team, and does put Batman in the shade.

Justice League also sees the introduction of The Flash, to the DCEU movie-verse. With Ezra Miller providing a large chunk of the films laughs and wit. Playing the social awkward Barry Allen, The Flash jumps at the opportunity to join a super team, and most of the memorable set pieces revolve around him. His reactions to most things are pretty much how the audience would react; a solo movie for him would be largely appreciated! His inability to make friends is slightly overplayed, which can be a mild irritation!


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The Bad – The Appalling CGI

For a movie that reportedly cost near $300m, the CGI here is frankly inadequate. Cyborg, who is entirely CGI, bar a part of his face looks pretty laughable at times, looking like a character model from an old PS2 game! For a character who is a major player in the story, it’s a shame he looks like a joke at times!

Then there’s the curious case of Henry Cavill, and his now infamous mustache. Due to the re-shoots that took place, following the departure of Zack Snyder from the project, Cavill was recalled to film some of his scenes, the problem though; he was contractually obliged to grow a mustache, for his upcoming role in Mission Impossible 6. With Paramount studios unwilling to break their agreement with the actor, the team at JL ended up embarrassingly having to remove the ‘stache post production. Leaving Cavill looking comically bad at times!


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The Good – The Insane Action

Among the various criticisms of BvS, the lack of action & intensity was a massive flaw. Considering the film was about two titans clashing it spent far more time dealing with the inner struggles of Superman, and the plans of an irritating Luther!  Justice League corrects that, and has far more action and fights, which is after all, what these huge movies should be about!  There is one confrontation in the middle of the film which is pretty amazing, and works well as a treat for comic fans.  There is also a spectacular sequence in Themyscira, where our villain Steppenwolf takes on a legion of Amazonian warriors, as he attempts to steal one of the motherboxes. As wave after wave of warriors try valiantly to slow down his charge.


The Bad – The Plot

This was expected, seeing as the film is essentially the work of 2 directors. Zack Snyder, who started the project, was eventually replaced by Joss Whedon, following a family tragedy. Whedon called in reshoots, after initial feedback from the movie was looking poor. Both directors have contrasting styles, with Whedon far more into the fan service and humour, as seen in Avengers Assemble. The plot revolves around our antagonist, Steppenwolf trying to gather 3 ‘Motherboxes’, which were spread across Earth, in order to take over the world, blah blah. It’s all very generic, offering nothing new or interesting. There are sporadic shifts in tone, the film will go from serious, to banter. You will have scenes such as Wonder Womans appearance in London, which went nowhere plot wise. Then you have illogical decisions, like our heroes just leaving the last Motherbox in the open, unguarded, Steppenwolf just sneaks in, and runs away with it! It’s all very abrupt. There’s also an aimless plot regarding a Russian family, which has next to no payoff!  The shift in tone is so inconsistent too, in BvS, Superman was portrayed as a threat to humans, but here, everyone cares about him and is mourning. Going off the previous film, it doesn’t really flow well.


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The Good – Humour

This is probably where Joss Whedon made the biggest changes to the DCEU formula. It’s clear to see that he bought in some of the magic he used for Avengers Assemble. There is great chemistry between all the team members. The Flash & Cyborg are great together; Cyborg & WW have their moments. Aquaman prefers to be the lone wolf of the team, but he still has his lines to bring out the laughs. BvS and Man of Steel were far too dreary and grim, JL is far more enjoyable to watch, and essentially, so much more fun. The mid-credit scene is typical Whedon, and all fans will laud it up!


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The Bad – Batman, Aquaman & Steppenwolf

Firstly, Batman, who assembles this team, is by far the most redundant member of the team. This is a vital flaw, as in the comics, Batman, Superman & WW all have pretty much equal say in the JL. Batman’s lack of physical strength, is made up for, by the intelligence and logical thinking he brings to the squad. Here, Bruce Wayne constantly gets beat up, does nothing of any importance, and could really be left out altogether! His cerebral advantage is never shown here. He is all brawn, when they should focus on his ‘best detective in the world’ trait.

Aquaman, though portrayed amazingly by Jason Mamoa, also suffers a lot as a character. His back story is summed up very quickly, so that leaves things open for his solo outing.  But his contribution to the team is pretty small, bar some moments of fun. His prime weapon is his association with water. With the battle taking place on land, he is pretty much second fiddle. He is also reduced to comic relief at times, for The Flash, this works, but for the King of the Ocean, not so much.

Steppenwolf is a major disappointment, a copy & paste villain, who at the end, is dealt with far too easily. He pretty much suffers from the same flaws the effected Ultron in Age of Ultron. A very tepid villain.


The Good – Cyborg

Unless you’re a diehard DC fan, little was known about Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher.  As it turns up, Cyborg ends up playing a vital role in the movie, without him, their plans will fail. So it’s strange that he got next to no build up.  His origin story is a curious one, thought the film doesn’t go into much detail, barring the fact he was in an accident.  He also plays off well with The Flash, and his vital role in the team makes him far more interesting than Aquaman, and even Batman.


To sum it up, Justice League is nowhere near the epic levels of Marvels superhero ensemble, but it is a vast improvement on the likes of BvS & Suicide Squad.  While the action is top notch, it inconsistent and plodding story-line, and not fully utilizing all its cast, puts Justice League in the middle of average.

Wonder Woman Works Wonders!

It’s fair to say that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has been disappointingly underwhelming so far. With their rivals Marvel seeming to roll off hit after hit, releases such as Suicide Squad, and more importantly, Dawn of Justice (DoJ) did not garner the attention they would have expected. While DoJ was frankly all over the place,  one of the brightest sparks in the film was the introduction of Wonder Women, who now has her own solo outing. Can this be the vital turning point for the future of the DCEU? Or will it once again fail to deliver?

While Wonder Women shone in DoJ, we knew very little about the character herself, apart from being mighty handy with a sword! Wonder Women follows the journey of Diana of Themyscira AKA Diana Price (Gal Gadot) growing up and training on the paradise island of Themyscira. But trouble soon hits the island after Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a pilot for the British army crashes nearby, drawing the attention of the pursuing German army to the island. Diana soon takes it upon herself to leave the island, and rid the world of war.

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One of the most common criticisms of prior DC movies were the grim colour palette they adopted.  The dark filters all over the movies did not give the films much soul, even Superman’s costume is a dark navy! But here, the film is gorgeous,  the scenes especially on Themyscira are vivid and rich is colour. It may be a purely cosmetic aspect, but it makes the film just looks so much more appealing right away! Even Wonder Women’s armour in DoJ was a dull brown/bronze. Here, its back to the iconic blue & red!

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But what about movie, does it stand up to the pleasing aesthetic’s of the film?  It may have taken a long time, but it’s safe to say, that the DCEU finally has a bona fide smash hit! Patty Jenkins has managed to create a movie that manages to combine the charm of the comics with some exhilarating action set pieces.  Female superhero movies do not have the best of track records.  Catwomen (2004) & Elektra (2005) , the last two female heroes, were dire, and their effects probably explain the severe lack of movies with female heroes. Even Black Widow from Marvel still has no movie! WW does not fall into the same traps, and makes Diana look like a bigger threat to Superman than Batman!

You can probably describe the movie as a mash up of The First Avenger & Thor. With it’s setting during World War I and wartime London, along with the social fish out of water, who struggles to integrate into a new way of life! The film knows when it can afford to be funny, and not looked forced. Her interactions in London provide most of the comic relief, but the jokes work well. Whereas Suicide Squad underwent various cuts, to be more humorous to the audience!

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By far, the best parts of the film are the combat scenes. When she isn’t walking alone into No Man’s Land during intense gunfire, she pretty much knees a soldier through a building! All the combat sequences are choreographed well, in such a way, it doesn’t look ridiculous on why her hand to hand combat works effectively against an army of armed soldiers! The film also makes good use of her other weapons in her armory, such as the Lasso of Truth, which let’s be honest, could have looked very cheesy if done wrong! The film does well to not mention her gender constantly on the battle field. The soldiers are more impressed with her sheer bravery and power than the fact it’s a women out there.

Gal Gadot’s casting as Diana is pretty much spot on,  and it wouldn’t be surprising to see if this role is associated with her like Tony Stark & Robert Downey Jr. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor provides a great support character & love interest. But it never seems forced upon the audience, and Steve has a great character arc for himself. His charm brings a lot of likability to his character. His secretary, Etta Candy (Lucy Davies) may just be there for the humour, but she provides a jovial foil, to a movie that is about death and war.

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It’s not all good news though, and where the film does fall flat is with the antagonists. General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) & Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) never feel like a serious threat during the entire movie. You just know WW could probably knee them through a building without a seconds thought (yes, that kneeing someone through a building scene is amazing!). But the villains do introduce the element of Magic into the DCEU, which should play a large role down the road.  Also, the final battle does seem to be a tad dull. It looks spectacular, but it just feels a bit rushed, just a head on fist fight,  and its done. Also the accents are never consistent, some characters speak with a strong British#German accent, whiles others do not, just a slight knit pick!

That being said, it should not detract from this being one of the biggest hits of the year. It is a shame that this film didn’t come of before DoJ, as it would have made sense to have her solo outing before the ensemble performance.  But the films splendid action, chemistry between our two leads, fantastic musical score and lore make Wonder Woman a great addition to the DCEU, and finally gives the big screen a strong powerful female superhero.

3 Word Review…..

About Time DC!

 

Power Rangers, Surprisingly Good!

When the trailers first dropped for the rebooted Power Rangers movie, it’s fair to say the reception was rather tepid. Was a new Power Rangers movie really needed? Even if it was, is a dark, gritty remake the best route to go down? The new 2017 Power Rangers hopes to be the start of a new series of movies, but if that is to work, the first film has to set the right tone off the bat.

Power Rangers was a large part of me growing up, Power Rangers was absolutely massive back in the 90s, so the nostalgia factor is pretty huge here! The original was well known for it’s over the top cheesiness and fight scenes, here, the movie gets a palette swap, gone are the endless backflips and silly sound effects, in come a team of dysfunctional teens, who have to come to terms with their new found destiny.

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For those not in the know, Power Rangers follows the adventure of 5 teens, who come across a mysterious power, which enables them, to morph into the Power Rangers suits and save the world. A pretty formulaic Saturday morning show plot! In this version, we still have the same 5 rangers returning. We have Jason the Red Ranger, and the leader of the team. He is once again by Kimberly (Pink), Billy (Blue), Zack (Black) & Trini (Yellow). Though it’s not all sunshine in this version of Angel Grove, each our of heroes all suffer from their own personal conflicts.

The plot follows our heroes trying to prevent a revived Rita Repulsa, from uncovering the hidden Zeo crystal buried under Angel Grove. Elizabeth Banks is clearly having a blast playing the green clad villain! Bringing a fine balance between creepy and over the top dramatics! Bryan Cranston takes up the role of Zordan, bringing his intensity to the weary mentor of the rangers. His robotic assistant Alpha also returns, voiced by comedian Bill Hader, who is slightly more annoying than he is quirky! The new redesigned Alpha just doesn’t feel as good as the original model.

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By far the most positive aspect of the movie is the characters themselves. The first two acts of the movie feature very little Ranger action, and focuses on the teens themselves trying to get their acts together and overcome their personal demons. Jason has to deal with losing his promising sporting career, Billy has to cope with his autism, Kimberly has to suffer the consequences of bullying, whereas both Zack & Trini both have family issues back in their homes.  These are no way the best candidates for being a hero, but it’s their camaraderie that helps us feel for their progression. The entire cast do a strong job representing their character, but the stand out has to be RJ Cyler as the Blue Ranger, whose sheer enthusiasm in their situation has you laughing along with him and supporting our Blue Ranger to become a superhero he wants to become!!

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But to be honest, we’re mostly here for the Morphing,  Zords and the Mecha action! The final act is where that all takes place, the action is pretty high octane, and the Zords don’t look overtly tacky, though the final Megazord transformation could have had a bit more of an epic feel, as in the show. It kind of, just happens in a hole. The original Power Rangers theme is used briefly in one scene, and it works wonders on that nostalgia vibe!! It’s a pity the action scenes take a back seat in the movie, as the new look armor makes the fighting looks so much more realistic, and less cartoon like! It would be hard to make the retro spandex outfits fit in here look as intimidating! It also makes sense how this armour would enhance their fighting abilities.

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Films such as Transformers unashamedly plug various products in their movies,  this movie is also guilty of such product placement. Though it’s so well incorporated into the movie, it brings out loads of laughs, and reminds us that Power Rangers isn’t all grim and moody! One of the finer examples of commercials within a movie!

If movie goers are expecting a throwback to the originals, you’ll be left not impressed! What this film does is set up a solid foundation for any future releases, the characters are well developed enough, for fans to care about, and the fact the film hasn’t crashed and burned at the Box Office is a promising sign., and keep an eye out for some cameos for all you old skool fans! It may not be in the same league as any of the top end Marvel superhero movies.  Now that the characters have been set up, hopefully we see far more action in subsequent releases. It’s a film far more layered than you would think, with a cast that is endearing, hopefully they manage to make a sequel so we can see where they take this saga.

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