BLOG

By now, you’ve likely read the reviews or at least seen the headlines that BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is a huge disappointment. Some of the main criticisms are that it isn’t cohesive, it’s too long yet doesn’t give enough time to important details, it doesn’t fix any of the problems inherent in MAN OF STEEL, and that the DC Universe is off to a terrible start. I’ll admit, some of these complaints are completely justified, but I had fun and I think that’s all that really matters. I wasn’t bored during a single part of the two and a half hour movie. The action was great, the characters were fun, and the story was interesting. That doesn’t mean the action was necessary, the characters had motivation, and the story made sense, it was simply entertaining.

Several months ago, people were anticipating this movie and criticizing it for things they knew nothing about. The casting was a huge part of that. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Ben Affleck as Batman? Jeremy Irons as Alfred? Okay that one makes sense. And then we saw the trailer. You know what trailer I’m talking about. The one that basically spoiled the entire third act. Well, it’s true.

If you’re set on not seeing this movie or you don’t have the time, watch this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fis-9Zqu2Ro).

Jesse Eisenberg was a strange choice that I’m not sure totally paid off. He was okay, but not great. Ben Affleck on the other hand was the best part of the movie. I didn’t think Christian Bale could be surpassed, but Affleck may be my new favorite Batman. He’s older and much more ruthless than we’ve seen before, and he’s also more psychotic. It makes sense that this guy would dress up as a bat and hurt bad guys. In regards to the trailer… still watch the movie. If you haven’t seen that trailer already, consider yourself lucky. Many of the most exciting parts of the film are spoiled in that marketing travesty, and I can only imagine how much fun it would have been to experience those things for the first time in the theater. But, there’s more to the movie than just that. There were a lot of moments that surprised me and had me on the edge of my seat.

Honestly, I don’t understand why people are so upset about the movie. It’s fine if you don’t like it, but people actually feel offended. They think the characters are being treated poorly or that the filmmakers think their audience is dumb. I don’t think these things are true. It’s not a perfect movie and maybe DC will never catch up to Marvel, but they have a good start. I think this movie did a lot to correct the wrongs that we saw in Man of Steel. I think the subsequent DC movies and The Justice League will continue to expand the Universe and improve the story. I had fun watching this movie. I like seeing superheroes beat each other up. I’m not there to see the next Oscar winner or to walk away with a new view on humanity. Batman and Superman fight. That’s awesome. If that’s something you want to see, go see this movie. If you can’t form opinions of your own, there are hundreds of reviews on the web to tell you what you should think about Zack Snyder and the DC Universe.   Movies are meant to be fun and that’s all this movie is.

 

4 out of 5 Stars

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – Dir. Zack Snyder

Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot

Run Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

There’s nothing quite as unique as being the only adult man in a theater full of children for a Disney animated movie. I’ve experienced this on more than one occasion, and regardless of the quality of the film, it’s always a little strange. So, before buying my ticket to ZOOTOPIA, I was prepared for an hour and a half of being vaguely uncomfortable. After all, this review isn’t going to write itself. What I didn’t expect was to see absolutely zero children in the theater. That’s right. A Saturday matinee of Zootopia (a children’s movie about a talking bunny police officer) was nearly sold out with excited adults. And the hype was real.

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. The various trailers left me a little confused about the premise, but I like Jason Bateman and I like sloths. I did not expect to see the best movie of the new era of Disney. If you’re uninitiated, Disney’s Animated films have been crushing it: Frozen, Wreck-it-Ralph, Big Hero 6. Zootopia is easily my favorite Disney movie since The Lion King. It follows the life and early career of a rabbit named Judy Hopps who moves to the city of Zootopia to become the city’s first rabbit police officer. Zootopia is pretty bizarre because all animals, predators and prey alike, live in harmony. Soon, she teams up with her natural enemy, a fox played by Bateman, to find a missing Otter. From that little synopsis, it sounds like a bunch of films in one and it kind of is. You get a detective noir, a conspiracy thriller, an underdog story, and most importantly a deeply profound insight on prejudice.

Zootopia isn’t holding back on throwing some wicked punches in regards to the themes it’s tackling. Nearly every conflict in the movie can be traced back to the real world political climate. I wish I had movies with such clear and positive messages when I was young, but I’m glad kids will be able to see them today. The entire film is based around the simple philosophy that no matter your background, size, species, or differences everyone should and has the capacity to live together in harmony. The best part is, it conveys this message in the least preachy, most entertaining way. It’s just a great movie.

The conflict is wildly fascinating with well-developed and lovable characters and there’s an even a twist! Officer Hopps is arguably the best female character we’ve seen in cinema in over a decade. She has goals and she attains them without letting any of her naysayers get in the way. Hopps was everything Rey from The Force Awakens should have been. She’s not afraid to ask for help, but can just as well get the job done on her own. By the time she teams up with Nick the fox, we’ve already seen what she’s capable of, but he can assist in everything she lacks. As far as buddy cops go, it doesn’t get much better than this.

I hope you can see why so many adults were in the theater. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that they took their children to see the movie the week before and were coming back with their friends because of how great the story was. Any complaint I may have with the film can be attributed to the fact that I’m way out of the targeted demographic. I’m not a huge Shakira fan is what I’m trying to say. Anyway, see this movie. Take your kids, take your girlfriend, take your coworker. It’s really wonderful.

 

4 out of 5 Stars

 

ZOOTOPIA – Dir. Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush

 

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons

Running Time: 1 hour and 48 minutes

THE WITCH (stylized as The VVitch for some reason) broke out of Sundance last year on everyone’s minds. First time director, Robert Eggers, even took home the coveted Best Director award, something unprecedented for a debut filmmaker. And now the genre-defining horror film has made its way to a wider audience with mixed reactions. I guess I’m just not really sure what people were expecting, because to me, this was the best horror film in a decade.

The Witch is set in in 1630s New England, following the plight of a puritan family leaving the safety of their village to build a home out in the unexplored wilderness. Unfortunately, they decide to settle in the midst of black magic, where they are harassed and possessed by a witch. This isn’t any ordinary witch and it certainly isn’t like any witch you’ve seen in cinema for quite some time. This old hag is horrifying, and the film does not take long to let that sink in. The tragedies this family goes through throughout the course of the film really make me thankful that I live in a post-Salem Witch Trial world.

I think the main reason general audiences weren’t raving over the movie to the extent that festival audiences were is that the horror genre has been so diluted by meaningless characters and jump scares that anything with atmospheric terror is labeled as “slow” and “boring”. There are no jump scares in the witch. It isn’t gory and no one is tortured. It feels like the characters in the film would react exactly as the people might have in those times. The movie just feels real, which makes it even scarier. Part of the reason it feels this way is because the story was developed through an extensive amount of research on New England folk tales and stories. It’s a true adaptation of what the puritans would have written and told their children. Another reason is that the film was shot with very little artificial lighting. The night/interior scenes are lit with candles and the night/exterior scenes have an excusable amount of artificial moonlight. As THE REVENANT proved, staying away from Hollywood-like lighting can lend an unbelievable level of authenticity to a production.

The most important thing a horror film (or any movie) needs to get right is the characters. They don’t have to be relatable, likable, or attractive, they simply have to be motivated. Too often do we see characters walking into haunted houses for no reason or deciding to risk their lives because that’s the only way to move the story forward. The Witch refuses to follow these tropes. It presents characters that have personalities, goals, and weaknesses. Not a single member of the family falls into a typical stereotype, so we’re always chasing them, trying to figure out how they’re going to react to the situations they find themselves in. This is what makes the film great. Sure it would probably be scary if tortoises played the leading roles, but when you grow attached to a character or even despise one, you’re connecting with them. You want them to succeed. You want them to get eaten by an old witch. Either way, you’re not passive.

Movies like this simply need more traction in the theater. As an avid horror lover, it pains me to see bomb after bomb from the studios. They’re not trying anymore. All I can say is that it’s incredibly refreshing to see such talent from a debut director who is already taking the helm of a new NOSFERATU remake. I can’t imagine anything better suited for this individual. The Witch is in the same league as THE BABADOOK was last year. Casual viewers can’t understand the hype, but true fans see that there’s something more, something new. The genre needs an uplift and Robert Eggers, Jennifer Kent, and David Robert Mitchell may be the ones to bring horror out of its recession (though, I can’t honestly say I enjoyed IT FOLLOWS).

 

4 out of 5 Stars

 

THE WITCH – Dir. Robert Eggers

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw

 

Runtime: 1 hour 32 minutes

  • 1
  • 2