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

Black People Are Still Slaves

Black People Are Still Slaves

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

I was supposed to be reviewing Antman right now… but I’m at too much of a loss to write about anything entertaining and so I have to vent. Black people are a problem. Not to only to ourselves but to seemingly everybody else. We’re a problem to ourselves in that the colour of our skin has us painted with targets that we never asked for. Tainted by stereotypes that were enforced by everybody but ourselves, and some of us live up to these stereotypes, not helping out situation. We are labelled only by negativity in all media except those headed by our own people. Thugs. Arrogant. Lazy. Unlawful. Lesser. That is what we are to them. That is what we are to ourselves in some cases.

Are we at such a place of disparity with the world that a black woman can’t even receive a ticket but instead ends up dead because of anger? Is it too much to ask that she at least be alive when her “mugshot” is taken and put on mainstream media? A dead woman. A dead black woman lain on the floor in her cell, surrounded by people who hate her because of the colour of her skin, and killed because of it. Sandra Bland. A woman I don’t even know whose death is causing me anguish and anger and I can’t do anything about it. Her mother said that there will be war, and honestly I hope that there is.

I’ve had enough of minding my business on Twitter, looking for entertainment to pass the time and being confronted by news of black people being killed over and over and over and over for traffic warnings, while a white man gets a pat on his ass and a burger for shooting up a church. I see a lot of talk of peace on the time line. “Violence won’t solve anything” they say, and maybe they’re right. But those who agree with that please ask yourselves, what have protests done except put more of our black people in prisons for nothing? Violence against peace seems to be the way the U.S. government works, and I’m not putting any blame on Obama because the position he’s in is mostly one of uselessness as he’s (probably, I don’t know the logistics so don’t quote me on that) forced to pander to the orders of those in higher power. Being a black man in the presidential seat while racism is rife must be tougher, knowing that he can’t help in the way he wants to even in that state of power.

I can’t refute I don’t even know what to say in this situation, even as I write I feel like this is for nothing, I’m a passive man myself but something in me wishes that just for a second an officer would try to try a thing with me outside of his jurisdiction. Every day I see videos of black people abused by police, being dragged across floors, beaten, shot, car windows being smashed, being abused verbally, slandered for standing up for ourselves and more. I’m not sure what is worse, when people believe that we have the same comforts as them pertaining to the law, or the black people that believe that too.

[Editors Note: So I just found out that the BBC made a list naming “the most important UK artists in the black and urban music scene” and the 3 of the top 4 artists were not even black. Do you see how we cannot lay claim to anything that is ours??]

We’ve never really stopped being slaves. They let us free from the chains of metal, but we still live deep within the confines of their laws, their judgements, their wants and their needs. No matter the money that may sit in your bank account, the status at which you stand, how far above the poverty line you are, how well-spoken you may be and who you may no. The colour of your skin will either lift you up or try to break you down in society. Try not to let it break you down. Don’t stay idle, don’t stay blind. Blindness is a sure fire way to stumble and stay lying face down on the ground sure in yourself that you’re still walking forward. Don’t be that person. Stand up for yourselves. Stand up for your people. Don’t drag down anyone to pull yourself up, but stand on your own willpower and push forward, please. And avoid the police at any costs.

I know that I said I hope for war, and a part of me does, if only to see those who enforce racism suffer. But I know that if war comes then a lot more of us will suffer. That’s why this is so hard to comprehend, because anything we do will have us condemned. I can’t write about this anymore. God help us.

https://twitter.com/ZOclimaxE/status/624083842576580609

Where Has Conscious Hip-Hop Gone?

Where Has Conscious Hip-Hop Gone?

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

Recently, R&B legend, D’Angelo had an interview with The New York Times (read the interview here) in which he talked about how music is a force with which artists should [or could] use their voice to speak on the issues within society. More specifically he was referring to the Hip-Hop artists of today, who largely focus on the finer things in life for example, the fine women, the bags of money, their own greatness etc.

His comments came about as he was asked about how he feels pertaining to the killings of black people in the U.S., what power music holds etc. and naturally, he had a lot to say. He felt as if rap artists of today weren’t doing enough to talk about the issues surrounding their own people. In particular he cited Kendrick Lamar as somebody who was doing something productive and uses his music to speak to and empower people with To Pimp a Butterfly.

“Coming up, the music of my era was very conscious. I grew up on Public Enemy, and it was popular culture to be aware.” – D’Angelo

While I agree somewhat with his statements, Hip-Hop as a culture has changed from its inception and with that, the music has changed with it. The music in life itself has changed as inevitable it is, music is a product of the times and so, the artists revolve around that, especially nowadays. I’ve found that artists in the R&B and Hip-Hop genres particularly take on the qualities of Earth, feeding off of the Sun, which in this case is the public’s interests, and uses them to nurture their music so that it can be easily digested, thus making a successful profit.

Not saying that this is a bad thing by any means, it just it what it is in this day and age. More artists nowadays are in it just for the money as it were, and don’t really have substance to their music. Take for example, Jason Derulo – his music is made to appeal to the masses and make money. It’s even in his name, Derulo. Now again, I’m not condemning him, not that I listen to him either, it’s just the way music is these days. It’s a business and a business sole purpose is to make money, and in terms of the rap artists of this generation, the Young Thugs (who was named in the interview), the YGs and the Drakes are a product of the times, and they can’t be at fault for that.

Just like D’Angelo is a product of his time, where he grew up on Public Enemy, protests were rife and having knowledge of Malcolm X’s exploits were the cool things of that time, booty, drugs and partying is the cool things of this time. It is only relatively recently that the issues of blackness of become a highlight of society, not saying that race issues haven’t been on-going, in fact it was worse because it was not being publicised and was behind closed doors.

Then unfortunately, the Trayvon Martin murder was the event to open of the doors, then Ferguson and the Michael Brown murder held them open, shedding not only light, but mainstream light on black oppression, unearthing the dirtiness and reality of it. When black people were released from slavery it was a falsehood. Though we could cater for ourselves without immediate consequence and build ourselves up, we’ve always been under scrutiny. Through this we’ve been controlled and a lot of us haven’t realised this until now.

It would be a wonder if mainstream music could further enlighten those who listen to it, after all not all of life is make-up, break-up and parties, and the  further this is realised then I believe that more artists will step up to the plate. Not by because they want to cater to their audience but to enlighten and empower it.

Now, because of the infancy of the new wave of future Malcolms, Rosas and Martins it will take time for those with a louder voice than others to speak out and have a positive impact on the youth of today. If you’re waiting on a musical revolution, just wait on it because while it might not be televised, it can definitely be heard. Listen to some of D’Angelo’s conscious music below (read the lyrics).

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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It Could Have Been Worse – Game of Thrones Finale

It Could Have Been Worse – Game of Thrones Finale

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

 
Disclaimer: This will be spoiler heavy so be warned if you aren’t up to date with Game of Thrones.

On a warm Monday afternoon, a young man was watching Game of Thrones. This particular episode was the season 5 finale. So as he enjoyed the fact that Stannis had died, Theon had somewhat redeemed himself by killing Ramsay’s side piece then jumping over a very very high wall with Sansa, and Cersei had received some well deserved humiliation, by the end of he episode he was left in silence for approximately ten minutes. The hour he had just watched included Tyrion taking on higher roles, meeting with the mystical bird whisperer, Daenarys seemingly getting captured because of a dragon who was suffering from the Itis and Sam[wise Gamgee] moving on to bigger and better things, but he still could not move.

Weeks prior to viewing this finale he had proclaimed to a group of likeminded people that of Tyrion or Jon Snow had died then sadness would ensue. Maybe even the end of said show. But little did he know that his worst fears would come to fruition. For by the end of the spectacle, Jon Snow the Great… was killed. And by his own men no less. This singular scene, which felt like it had to capitalise on said death by zooming on his deceased body had brought back memories of The Red Wedding, Ed’s death and more. People he had once cared about now dead and gone, never to return.

He knew he should have known better, he knew that in this universe, death was more of a commodity than fresh running water. And maybe even the plentiful ho’s which saturated each episode. But he never thought that it would happen to Jon Snow so soon, and this saddened him for a time. He thought, why not take Bran [though his absence was foretold], or even Arya, he was prepared for that, but not for this. Then he realised, that it could have been worse. Much worse indeed. Tyrion could have died, but he didn’t, and now all was better with the world.

But please, stop killing off people, just relax and take it slow next season. Though I said I wouldn’t mind, let Bran, Arya and Sansa survive at least two more seasons.

Valar Morghulis

Eric Bellinger – iPod on Shuffle – Single Review

Eric Bellinger – iPod on Shuffle – Single Review

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

Eric Bellinger released a single on June 8th from his upcoming album Cuffing Season titled iPod on Shuffle and as expected from said R&B singer it is a song about getting the correct playlist to make love to, akin to the song Pandora from his previous debut album The Rebirth.

I can’t refute I didn’t think there was anything special about this song, it traverses the usual paths that mainstream R&B has trodden, and although it does it relatively well it sounds too samey for my tastes. It pays homage to the now classic R&B singers that have come before, D’ Angelo, R. Kelly and even Silk, which was a pleasant surprise when it came to the hook, reviving Meeting In My Bedroom to good effect (unfortunately without the famous falsetto). Vocally, Bellinger retains what works for him, not too many vocal tricks but it remains smooth, and the second verse is almost rapped.

My favourite part of the song may be the outro which takes us back in time to R. Kelly’s The Greatest Sex (one of the best songs in his catalogue in my opinion), “Ceiling fans with you on top of me”. I can’t help but be reminded of Chris Brown’s Songs on 12 Play as well, although this song is homage on a wider scale. At the end of the day, it’s a well crafted song, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Below you can find the song, tracklist and album cover for Eric Bellinger’s Cuffing Season:

6.9/10

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The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face – Single Review

The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face – Single Review

By Aiden Harmitt-Williams

Over the years The Weeknd has garnered a lot of fans thanks to the three mixtapes House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence which preceded his debut collection of said mixtapes, and then Kiss Land. Though a lot of people have sung his praises and his music has had critical acclaim, I think because the first time I listened to him was through Trilogy on a coach trip, I got burnt out too quickly. Since then I’ve had this thought that he was a limited artist because, while his voice is unique, the sound he used was more or less the same, and like with the lack of originality trap music has adopted, I found it uninspired and boring for want of a better word.

So now here we are with The Weeknd’s newest release, Can’t Feel My Face which came soon after his other single The Hills which was released a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, one thing I’m happy about is that I actually like it. I like it a lot. Compared to The Hills, more of a classic The Weeknd sounding song which I also like admittedly, helped by the hook mostly, Can’t Feel My Face is something new. The first time you hear his voice on the song he sounds like Michael Jackson. He’s using that sharp delivery that gets sharper at the end, those short lines that give you time to breathe, and then the finger snaps come in and it’s all over. Once the production comes in fully and you start hearing the bassline bouncing up and down, the guitar in the back and his voice coming together it all sounds too good to be true. Plus, the fact that The Weeknd naturally has a very similar singing tone to MJ helps it all the more.

I’m an old soul and never really resonated with The Weeknd’s singing about narcotics and white women but this has captured me. He hasn’t announced an album as far as I know but I look forward to whatever project this song belongs to.

Listen to the single below:

9.4/10