Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

It’s a Set-Up!

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

The Dark Knight Returns. Arguably one of the best comic book stories every written, especially when it comes to Batman or Superman. This seemed to be the template leading up to Batman v Superman’s release. Batman’s suit(s) and build were ripped from the pages of the aforementioned book, and the title itself told fans what to expect.

I’m coming from the perspective of an avid comic book reader who happens to also enjoy comic book films. Seeing as BvS is also a comic book film, I’m going to review it with the mind-set that it is based on a solid foundation of rules and lore that should respectfully be followed. I’m also not going to go into too much detail so I don’t ruin anything for future viewers.

So let’s begin.

This was the second showing at my local cinema, I was sitting next to a guy who offered me a Twix bar, and my first thought was, I hope that this Twix isn’t better than this film. It didn’t start off well. For the first ten minutes of the film the projection was out of focus. So it was like watching the film through the eyes of someone who really needed glasses but refused to put them on. Then it was fixed, and we began from the beginning. It was like the transition from potato to 4K. Admittedly the premise was set up well, though I had already seen it in the trailer. Then from there it just got random.

It’s like the writers had an idea, and thought, “Now how can we link every major character to this idea?” went from there and left that same idea in the middle of the story. This is probably because there is a hell of a lot going on. As the second film in this new DC Cinematic Universe behind Man of Steel it shouldn’t have had this much weight on it to set up the entirety of the following movies, but I understand that Warner Brothers are trying to play catch up to Disney and Marvel. Small(er) steps would have been better.

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The problem with the plot isn’t that it’s convoluted. There are a number of random plot points that are obviously thrown in to set up things for the future, but its done in a way that breaks up the main narrative and adds literally nothing to the story. Nothing at all. Literally.

Forgive me for comparing this to Deadpool but bear with me. Deadpool was a film that thought was maybe a bit too small in scale, but it benefited from that, especially since a sequel can become bigger and better than its predecessor. BvS is guilty of doing too much. While it is fun to see some of these strange scenarios through, they didn’t offer anything.

What they did get right were the visuals however. Zack Snyder is most notably known for 300, Watchmen and Man of Steel which are striking visually and with the except of Man of Steel have a comic book feel. With this film though it gets a bit grey at times. It tries to be dark and brooding a lot of the time and can be tonally awkward. Batman (Ben Affleck) is pulled off well and is accurately reminiscent of TDKR. If his first proper scene is what the future Batman film may be like, then I look forward to it. SPOILER ALERT But Batman is blatantly killing people? Come on, I know he’s older and angry but he doesn’t compromise his morals. SPOILER END.

Superman (Henry Cavill) is Superman and we all know how that is. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) feels tacked on and doesn’t really have an identity except to have the Justice League trinity together, but Gadot does her as much justice as she can. The one thing that they kind of managed to implement was the political and moral side to the destruction Superman leaves in his wake, though it doesn’t affect Batman in the slightest. Lex Luthor comes off more like The Riddler than the calm, composed genius he is (ding, ding, ding). But that’s neither here nor there.

Doomsday happens to be the biggest farce of the whole movie. Once you watch it (and you know who Doomsday is) you’ll see why. He’s The Incredible Hulk’s Abomination except not as good. He doesn’t even talk.

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When I say that this movie is a set-up, I mean in terms of narrative. It’s an overlong introduction to the dawn of the Justice League (pun intended) and it deserved more attention to detail than it got. Snyder has said that there is supposed to be an Ultimate Cut with over half an hour of footage, and maybe that will make it better than the theatrical version. I can only hope. By the end I knew the answer to whether the Twix was better, and It wasn’t. But at least it was worth it.

P.S. There is no after credit scene. Go home.

4.9/10.0

Attack on Titan: The Movie Part 1 Review

Attack on Titan: The Movie Part 1 Review

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

Since the initial announcement of the Attack on Titan live action film, many were excited. Then the first trailer was released and then everybody was sceptical. I wasn’t particularly swayed either end but for the problems at hand were big problems.

Let me begin by saying that it could be worse. It stays largely faithful to the source material, and because obviously the source material is very good, the story remains decent at all times. However, because of the medium that a film is everything moves very fast in comparison with both the series and [I assume] the manga. This kind of helps the film, but it doesn’t aid the story, and those that have seen the series will be wondering where everything went.

The fact of the run time [which is about 1 hour 30 minutes] being short means that character development is at a loss. Eren is just an angry teenager, Mikasa is a mysterious mostly absent teenage girl, and Armin is still the nerd of the group who is surprisingly less irritating and useless than his animated counterpart. The Survey Corps members, who had a relatively fleshed out development cycle of their own are all introduced in literally one scene when they’re all about to undergo their first mission.

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The world is more post-apocalyptic compared to the manga/show which I think makes sense considering the whole world went to pot. Apparently 100 years wasn’t long enough for the world to get back into tip top shape. It helps maintain the aesthetic throughout but for purists it won’t bode well. One thing this film retains however is the violence, and because now it is live action, it’s much more visceral, when the effects hold up that is.

Ever since the release of the first trailer there were many comments on the CGI, especially surrounding the Colossus Titan (shown below). In its final form I just accepted the fact that a limited budget would leave the titans looking a bit lacklustre in comparison with bigger budget films. The smaller titans do look batter though, and look clapped [see: ugly] enough to be scary, and because they’re based on the likeness of humans I suspect it was easier to recreate them, although they look kind of janky when eating people and whatnot. The practical effects hold up better though, blood and the like.

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The film revels in the fact that the story is a grim one, spare the odd gleeful time here and there and turns it up all the sadness all the way to the top. There are the odd times of goodness which are ended almost instantly by someone being eaten or pulled apart or something. It’s also a more mature film than the series in that there’s more adult orientated content. There is one particular scene where a new female character, Hiana gets Eren to feel up on her and well, that gets ruined as well.

THAT scene involving Armin and Eren is alright I guess, I was taken aback because you know, it’s real. But the fact that everything happens in real time [and quickly] takes away from the surprise and suspense of certain events unfolding. Some of the changes are a bit strange as well. I understand that the makers probably wanted to differentiate itself from the other mediums some of them were just strange. For example, this love triangle between Mikasa, Eren and Shikishima I felt was misplaced and was a bit creepy.

If you’re interested in getting into the Attack on Titan lore I suggest that you please do not start with the films (the second part is supposed to come out later on this year), as it just isn’t representative of the quality of the show [this could change with the second part though]. But if you’re just looking for entertainment, than yeah it’s definitely entertaining without too much to think about. Just don’t expect the Attack on Titan series.

5.0/10

 

Terminator Genisys Review

Terminator Genisys Review

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

 

Spoiler Free

As much as I hate to admit it, I went into Terminator Genisys with pre-judgements in my head. I thought it was going to be less than OK, maybe mildly entertaining and an interesting (if you’ve seen the trailer which spoiled damn near everything the film had to offer, then you’ll understand. If you haven’t seen it however, don’t watch it) but unnecessary addition to the Terminator franchise. I was more or less correct.

The beginning of the film comes straight out of the first three Terminator films aesthetic of the pre-judgement day war, and to be honest I wish it had stuck with it throughout the whole film. We’ve seen enough of the Connor’s try and fail to destroy Skynet. Terminator Salvation did try to do this, but as we know, it didn’t resonate very much. The look of the war reminded me a lot of Far Cry: Blood Dragon, and I would have liked to see a more fleshed out portion of it, but you get what you’re given in this instance.

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John Conner, played by Jason Clarke was decent in his role, he looked the part, had the scars featured on that one guy that played him in T2, and looked like he was enjoying himself in the 2017 future. Jai Courtney is okay I guess, he does what he does which is to be the typical action star. The last movie that I saw him in was the (poor, poor, very poor) A Good Day to Die Hard so I was pleasantly surprised. Emilia Clarke… Clarke is pretty. Very pretty. Maybe too pretty for this role. Not to be sexist or anything, (feminists, relax) but she just didn’t give me that “I’m a rugged robot killer that births the even more rugged leader of the future resistance” vibe. Compared with Linda Hamilton, who did pretty and rugged very well, Emilia does pretty that can handle guns. It could have been the script that failed on that part however, as the writer took out the fact that the world is ending is actually a very bad thing, and made it into an action adventure film, filled with funny quips and one-liners. Matthew Smith of Dr. Who fame delivered in his role as well, although I don’t want to say much about it due to spoiler issues, but he was good.

“Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The terminator, would never stop. / Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.” And this quote from Terminator 2, ladies and gentleman is more or less the blueprint for Terminator Genisys’ T-100, appropriately named, ‘Pops’. Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on fully the role of the father figure, protector, guardian etc. He has more to do than in previous films in terms of character development, being more of a wise old man as opposed to a guard dog.

Speaking of the T-100, the CGI this time around is a lot more plentiful than the other films, which makes sense as it’s more readily available. The younger faced T-100 looks almost very real and shows how far CGI has come since 2009. The fight scenes throughout are aided and not hindered by the CGI, luckily, the last fight scene benefitting the most from it as the villains shift and morph around which just wouldn’t be practical using (no pun intended) practical effects.

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One thing that did prevent this reboot/continuation/alternate universe film from achieving the desired goodness levels was the fact that it has been heavily (HEAVILY) neutered for the sake of that family friendly, profit raising 12A certification rating. Things like this have made the script “funny”, where the Terminator films have never been funny in the comedic sense. Though it works for the film because well, now it’s pretty much a family friendly affair, it doesn’t work in the context of the franchise where cussing and violence are central. Even though Terminator 3 held a 12 rating, it was still a pretty adult film. I can’t remember how Salvation was in this sense but I doubt that, as a war film that it held the normal action adventure film tendencies.

Throughout, there are a number of science fiction problems, mostly relating to the timeline and time travelling. Maybe they can be forgiven because it’s all taking place in an alternate timeline, but it really could have been better explained. I’m a relatively smart guy so my mother tells me, but I had a hard time trying to fully understand how some things happened, why some things didn’t happen, how the “Pops” was there at this time not doing that but doing this instead etc. It was a bit messy. But as is time travel, without clear explanation at least.

There are many cliché’s in this film that could have been left out, but for the sake of the fast pace were added, for example: the fact that they gave themselves like one day to save the world when they could have given themselves more time. Relax a little prior to saving the world. Plus the fact that this is the fourth time third time that Sarah Connor has tried to destroy Skynet before it’s born. Why not give them a month or two?

One thing that was jarring was that nearer the end of the film it started to become a piece on how much the world relies on technology, and how it’s a bad thing (even in the hospital doctors are on their phones). It even pointed some fingers, with the U.S.’s main operating system looking strikingly like Microsoft’s current Windows Phone. It very well could be a precursor warning us that Microsoft will becoming Skynet and we’ll soon need a resistance.

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The road less travelled is where this film tries to tread in regards to the franchise, and it gives it a good go I can’t refute. The fact that the Terminator franchise messes with time so much holds a lot of possibilities for future films, and it’s good that this film essentially opened up the universe some more. However, there are a lot of things wrong with this film. A lot. So maybe next time will be the hit that this could have been. Although it looks like Genisys sealed the franchise, it looks like it could be rebooted with every instalment because of the timelines, and I just hope that it’s done well. “One thing is for certain, the future is not set.” As long as it’s set with Schwarzenegger.

[Editors Note: If you want some explanation on the whole time aspect which is very convoluted, watch the first video below. Spoilers are involved for the franchise however.]

4.5/10

Independence Day 2 Actually Exists

Independence Day 2 Actually Exists

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

To be honest I never thought this day would come, but it looks like this is the third (?) Will Smith franchise classic to get a revival after the myth that was once Men in Black 3 and the “announcement” of Bad Boys III (not sure if this will revert to purgatory as of yet).

It turns out that the second Independence Day is actually a thing. A living breathing film that is actually in production. As you may be able to tell by the title of this article, the films title is Independence Day Resurgence. Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox and others are returning along with new actors, but for some reason there is no Will Smith. I do wonder why he decided not to return because Lord knows that he needs something right now. Or not, considering he’s already rich.

Below are two photos from the set, one featuring the director Roland Emmerich. And to reiterate, they are actually real. EDIT: Looks like whoever took the first photo uses VSCO :).

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Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

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Batman Sucks – Gods and Monsters Chronicles

Batman Sucks – Gods and Monsters Chronicles

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

This short Justice League Gods and Monsters Chronicles season (?) works as a prelude to the upcoming DC movie, and though I’m not sure whether these clips will be in the movie (if they are, I’ll be kicking myself for ruining it for myself) I decided to give them a watch. You can watch them at the bottom of this post also.

“Twisted”

This is justice league like you’ve rarely seen it. One of the very first things you see is frozen heads, in a freezer naturally. Though these aren’t the traditional heroes many are used to (Bruce Wayne etc) they do have the same personas. Harley Quinn is a lot more of s threat compared to her alternate self, making use of many weapons and holding many dead bodies in her possession. It’s dark stuff. And there is a big twist. A very big twist.

“Bomb”

It looks like Amanda Waller has fulfilled her destiny and finally became president in this universe. I’ve never really been a fan of Superman but he looks better than usual, seeing as he’s not wearing red pants outside of his trousers. Brainiac (as a child) looks like Akira from Akira and Superman seems to have mystical powers to end lives if he holds heads? I guess this will be explained in the full movie.

“Big”

My immediate thought was, why did henchman number one take so long to fire his gun, and Wonder Woman looks slightly like a Sailor Moon character. Or somebody from Aeon Flux. This one seems to be the most comedic out of the three, which is interesting because usually [in my experience anyway] its characters like The Flash that get the comedy parts… (speaking of, I would have liked to see what he would have been like in this universe)Let alone the romantic comedy parts.

All in all, from what I see so far, Batman is looking to be my favourite character from this Justice League universe but it looks good. Hopefully it delivers.

Jurassic World – Review

Jurassic World – Review

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

Disclaimer: Spoiler Free

First things first, Amblin has an updated logo. I may be behind the curve but that’s the first thing that I noticed. Jurassic World is the latest in the ever growing list of movies to escape film purgatory, directed by Colin Trevorrow. The last one I remember being released was Men in Black 3 which we probably could have done without, and the next in line being Marvel’s Ant-Man.

This time around, there is no Sam Neill, no Jeff Goldblum, and no Richard Attenborough, although he is alluded to maybe one too many times throughout, but there is Henry Wu, who you may not remember from Jurassic Park. I’m going to be light on details, but Wu is the person that designs the dinosaurs and works with their DNA and incidentally is the creator of the ‘villain’ in this movie. Fittingly, the theme park is situated on the first films island, Isla Nublar [2], and it does have a feeling of nostalgia to it which always helps.

Although the island is the same, nothing is the same however. Over 20 years after the events of Jurassic Park is when this film takes place which is in fact real life when you take into account that fact that it released in 1993. Everything is flashier, the park actually works and everything is functional and making profit. It turns out Hammond succeeded after all. One thing that the film recognizes and takes into account though is the fact that real life dinosaurs on-screen don’t have the wow factor it did back then, and it’s made known over and over again throughout, T-Rex’s being ignored by characters and the like.

The kids in this one are perhaps the weakest part of this film, as they immediately came off as annoying. Especially Ty Simpkins’ character, Gray who he plays with so much enthusiasm for dinosaurs that he almost put me off of them. His older brother Zach (Nick Robinson) was more bearable however, even going through his own character arc. Bryce Dallas Howard who plays their aunty, Claire Dearing plays the guardian character well enough, although she is admittedly maybe too irresponsible. Zach and Gray’s parents spend the right amount of time onscreen, popping up enough to make the audience know that they care of their children’s goings-on. Owen Grady, the man with sense in this film is played by Chris Pratt, the new go-to action star, being considered for Indiana Jones (make it happen) after Guardians of the Galaxy steals the show when on-screen. Owen Grady’s charisma and presence is welcome and to be honest he makes the film a lot cooler than it would have been without him. He has maybe on supposed to be funny line in the film and that’s a good thing. He’s a man dedicated to his job, dealing with very dangerous animals, velociraptors in his case so jokes are bound to be far and few between.

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Dinosaurs may not be the spectacle they were to behold on screen 20 years ago, but Trevorrow’s CGI team do not disappoint when it comes to making them look as realistic as possible. I myself don’t know whether they used a mixture of props and CGI but whatever they did, it worked. The Indominus Rex by the way is a marvellous beast. I never would have thought that I would fear a dinosaur on screen but that animal was a menace. Bigger, louder and more teeth was the philosophy behind the Indominus, and it turns out like a stunted Frankenstein story because it really progress, but finds other things to kill, helps other dinos find something to kill and that’s about it. Which is fine, and I enjoyed it.

Some nonsensical things happen throughout, for example in a particular scene where people are told to go to the main section of the park, nobody seems to want to go into their rooms despite the gravity of the situation. Maybe they didn’t like it, I don’t know but not everybody had to stay outside. There are the obvious “DON’T GO THROUGH HERE” harbingers of death, but of course the main characters Ray Charles any signs of danger. There are homages left right and centre which don’t detract from the narrative in anyway which is impressive and works in its favour.

Jurassic World had a lot to live up to, and it succeeded in my opinion. It’s undoubtedly the best of the sequels. It’s a film about brotherhood, one-upmanship, the militarisation of animals (of course) and loyalty. What is impressive is that the film rarely slows down, and there’s always something bigger to come, literally. As a fan of the franchise I say you should watch it, and if you’re not, watch it anyway, if only to see dinosaurs onscreen for the first time since 2005’s King Kong. Spare no expense!

 7.8

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Nymphomaniac – Fishing With A Nymph

Nymphomaniac – Fishing With A Nymph

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

[Spoilers]

The director’s cut of Nymphomaniac, a two-part film is more than meets the eye. It consists of five and a half hours’ worth of film, was released in 2013 and was directed by Lars Von Trier, a notoriously controversial director. He is responsible for such films as Dogville (2003) and Antichrist (2009), and his latest film again doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects, this time finding a way to portray sex in the most explicit manner, making it at some point’s literal pornography.

However, even though at the forefront it may seem like an excuse to showcase gratuitous sex scenes which make 50 Shades of Grey’s look like a cartoon in comparison, there are deeper and more complex themes beneath the surface. This article will be looking at how the film tackles sex and its consequences. The film begins with the main character Joe, who was beaten up and left to die in an alley way. She then gets saved by Stellan Skarsgård’s character and taken to his home. Soon after the scene has been set, Joe begins to tell her story. Each of the films ‘chapters’ are related to something in the room where Joe tells her story, and the first chapter is based off of a nymph. A nymph is a “juvenile stage of aquatic bugs” which is used for fishing. This analogy of fishing is used throughout the film as Skarsgård’s character was an avid fisher and uses his knowledge to find alternative ways to interpret the story in a scientific way that relates to him.2

The first link between fishing and the sexual antics in the film comes from when Skarsgård interrupts Joe’s story. In this segment she and a friend are playing a game which involves them having sex with as many people on a train as possible for a bag of sweets. This was related to a technique called ‘reading the river’ which involves the fisher finding the most attractive places to fish based on where the biggest fish are most likely to choose the best position to lay. In this, the films begins by treating the act of sex as if it were a game or a challenge, something to be taught, learned and mastered in a way. Some may agree with this outlook on sex, and have a mentality of ‘I belong to nobody so anybody can have me’ or are trying to reach a certain level of sexual partners. Many believe that soul ties are related to sexual partners and that it can have negative effects on one’s mentality or spirit, the more you keep to yourself, the more you keep yourself together.

Joe constantly refers to herself as a bad person throughout the course of the film due to the nature of her sexual sins. She treats the story as if it is meant to convince the audience and Skarsgård that she is indefinitely a bad person, asking the question whether or not her sex addiction (and sex addiction in general) is cause enough for her peers and those watching to condemn her. Everything outside of moderation is going to be bad for somebody, it’s all about control.

Von Trier plays with the themes of whether love and sex coexist with each other. In one chapter, Joe refutes what many believe to be a false amalgamation from within the mind with a group of women who use sex purely as a means of entertainment and relief. They believed that their use of sex is justified as “having the right to be horny”. What they were doing was rebelling against love as they didn’t form any emotional connections with the men they had sex with (they did not have sex with the same man more than once). Essentially they used men in the negative manner that men often use women, but that doesn’t justify the mistreatment of emotions.

With this Joe did not see her addiction as something that was wrong, but something that empowered her and her peers refuting the idea of love until she fell in love herself. Once she fell in love however she even refused sex as the one she wanted was not giving into her and she couldn’t bear a man touching her sexually if it was not him. A sort of compromise was then found and then in turn hypocrisy on her part.

As she gets older Joe is torn between her (now deprived) sex life and her family, including a son. She is given an ultimatum and chooses the life of BDSM as a somewhat last testament to the fact that the addiction has overtaken her life completely. The fictional and real life consequences of this ended up with Joe on her own not knowing her son and eventually left for dead by the father of their son. Unfortunately this is most likely a real problem stretching to more than just sex, but all addictions.

The consequences and “benefits” (the benefits limited to pleasure) of sex addiction are rife throughout the film, causing conflict between family, friends, morality and immorality. While an ‘addictions anonymous’ meeting may help somewhat, Nymphomaniac begs the question to any and everybody whether or not we should accept these traits we deem as negative because they aren’t seen as “normal” or whether or not ‘normal’ is a construct that aims to eliminate the wheat from the chaff as it were. By the end of the film, the last judgement of character by Skarsgård ends up with his death, strengthening the “don’t judge a book” ethos. j

Von Trier goes through the film exploring many different varieties of sex, about how it affects the characters and whether or not the actions were justified due to the context of the situation. Through and through he tries to portray sex in a realistic way but from the beginning of the narrative, the physical aspect is overshadowed by more than just the acts. By the end, Skarsgård’s character (a virgin) is spurred on by Joe’s sexual tale to try and have sex with her, stating “but you’ve f*cked thousands of men.” where Joe then shoots him. This final act further strengthens the focal point of the film: “is sex really worth it?” in this case, the answer is no.

Here is a link to my Nymphomaniac inspired poem: https://aidenhw.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/watching-my-tiger-sleep-part-three/