Justice League 2017 & Justice League 2021 as well as all the images you see are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Both films directed by Zack Snyder
I can’t say I was ever looking forward to this day as I was one of the people who actually LIKED the original cut of Justice League and then spent the last four years seeing people opine (and worse) for a movie that they already got; not to mention the awful news that broke about how the reshoots went for Ray Fisher. Still, Warner Bros is looking for ANY sort of cash cow to make their HBO Max service a success, so they threw a bunch of money at Zack Snyder and company to make an extended version of the movie they already made and feed into the LOST SNYDER CUT narrative that has been stuck with us for so long. Now that the movie is finally out, was it worth all the hype and can it possibly justify the ridiculous over the top actions its most ardent supporters took? Well obviously not, but instead of just doing a straight up review as the films are very similar in a lot of ways, I think it’d be much more interesting to take a look at what this new version gets right as well as where it falls short of the original cut. Let’s get started, and beware of Spoilers ahead!!
Something Good: The colors make more sense
The drastic change in pallets between the early trailers and the later ones was a definite sign that things were changing significantly and a lot of scenes in the movie ended up suffering for it. Batman in particular always looked like an overstuffed sausage in bat-pants stuffed with pudding (which isn’t COMPLETELY gone but is much less prominent now), and there was a garishness to certain scenes where they pushed the colors up just a little bit too high. The corrections here definitely fit more with what was being filmed and the pallet fits well with the new tone of the movie.
Something Bad: The colors are more boring
And yet I just couldn’t get behind it. Sure the colors didn’t always WORK, but for the most part they were bright and colorful which added a much needed cheeriness to a franchise that until then was stuck in its own morose grander. Thankfully later movies like Shazam, Aquaman, and arguably even Wonder Woman 1984 built a brighter look from the ground up and the aesthetic fits better with those movies, but going back to this kind of look after those films is just deflating; even if it’s more competently done. And I’m also going to throw this in here, I just don’t get why they insisted on using an IMAX aspect ratio for a moving going to a streaming service. It’s distracting the whole way through and I never felt like it added anything.
Justice League and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Zack Snyder
So… it’s not like anyone is looking forward to this movie and is willing to yell at critics over it, right!? Sigh… now my opinions on Batman v Superman have been made quite clear on multiple occasions, but you know… with Wonder Woman and to a very VERY lesser extent Suicide Squad, I don’t think these films aren’t worth seeing. Heck, even Batman v Superman is worth seeing in the sense that there’s so much to learn about NOT making a good movie from it! I am absolutely not looking forward to this movie and I don’t expect it to be all that good, but I’m going to sit in my seat, watch all the crappy local car commercials, and then hope that I’m not just completely wasting my time and money being there. I The fact that I’m expecting this to be bad is not the same as WANTING it to be bad or HOPING for it to be bad just to get some “outrage clickbait” out of it, because I don’t need any MORE things in my life to piss me off even if I get a hilarious and insightful review out of it. I’d rather write hilarious and insightful review of GOOD movies! So then… does Warner Bros and DC have what it takes to keep this franchise afloat after Wonder Woman became an critical and box office smash, or are we stuck with more of the same crap until these DCCU films stop making money for them? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins sometime after the events of Batman v Superman where (SPOILER ALERT!) the world is still reeling over the DEATH OF SUPERMAN! Everyone’s moody, crime is on the rise, and to top things off, aliens have started invading Earth! Yeah, that whole dream sequence with the Parademons in the last movie? Well it’s not a full scale invasion just yet, but Batman’s swinging around Gotham City finding these space bugs all over the place and needs to figure out what the heck is going on! Well it doesn’t take long for the TRUE threat to reveal himself as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who, now that Superman is deader than disco, feels confident enough to stage an all-out attack on Earth… for some reason. I mean I GUESS he tried to take over the planet back when it was Middle Earth and Amazons, Green Lanterns, and I THINK Shazzam were able to stop him, so maybe he’s after this planet for revenge or something. IT DOESN’T MATTER THOUGH! What matters is that he’s gonna tear shit up and the world needs its most powerful champions to fight against him which includes the aforementioned Batman, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jasson Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Will the Justice League be able to put aside their differences and come together (right now!) in order to stop the greatest threat humanity has ever faced? Just what is Steppenwolf’s master plan, and what other forces are in play that these mere mortals are only seeing the briefest glimpse of? How much more leeway will we have to give WB just to make sure we keep getting Wonder Woman movies!?
Now You See Me 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Jon M Chu
I didn’t HATE the first movie, but I wasn’t really a fan of it. While the magic performances as well as that one Dave Franco action scene were a lot of fun, the glue holding everything together was far from compelling and the twist at the end was MONUMENTALLY stupid; not just because it’s… well stupid, but also because of how it completely poisons the idea of repeat viewings as its one of those twists that unravels everything we saw and robs the story of any sort of tension. That said I wasn’t opposed to the idea of a sequel, especially once it was revealed that they got Daniel Radcliffe to be in it! Sure, the twist at the end of the first one kinda ruins THAT movie, but maybe they’ll build off of this one in an interesting and novel way! Does this manage to continue the trend of sequels this year being better than the original, or is this movie trying to pull a fast one on all of us? Let’s find out!! Oh, and we’ll be going into spoilers for the last film, so just a heads up.
After the events of the last movie where the Four Horsemen who are composed of Danny (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Jack (Dave Franco), and Henley (Isla Fisher, or Sir Not Appearing In This Film) fulfilled the mission given to them by The Eye, they are now members of the secret organization under the watchful… well EYE, of Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) who was the FBI agent chasing them throughout the first one; the big twist of that film being that he was in on it the entire time! MAGIC SHOCK! So after robbing Insurance Mogul Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) of his fortune and getting Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to take the fall for it, the Horsemen have spent the last year in hiding; waiting around for a sequel… I mean mission, from The Eye. Henley gave up after a while and went off to do her own thing (what exactly that is, I’m not sure considering she’s still wanted… I think) and Daniel is about to do the same if they aren’t given something to do, or at least get a chance to MEET this organization they’re supposedly working for with their only connection to them being Agent Rhodes. The day FINALLY comes though as they get a new member Lula (Lizzy Caplan) to join The Horsemen and they plan to crash a part announcing the release of the next iPhone knockoff which supposedly has a chip in it that will steal ALL the users’ data so they can sell it. I don’t know why this is a job for The Horsemen considering that shit would get discovered and jailbroken within fifteen minutes of its release, but whatever. The plan doesn’t go as… well planned, as their party crashing is interrupted by ANOTHER party crasher who reveals that Jack is STILL alive (he was presumed dead after the events of the last film) and that Agent Rhodes is actually working with them! Not only that, but during The Horsemen’s escape, they somehow find themselves ALL the way in China where some sniveling jackass named Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) reveals that he’s the one behind all of this and will get The Horsemen out of trouble (apparently he can do that) if they do a heist for him. While all this is going on, Agent Rhodes is still in the US trying to evade law enforcement and is trying to piece everything together as to whom else could have been in on this plot against them, and his focus invariably shifts right to Thaddeus Bradley who is loving every moment of this. Will The Horsemen be able to steal what Walter wants them to, and can he be trusted to keep up his end of the bargain? How exactly will Agent Rhodes manage to get the truth out of Thaddeus about his involvement in all of this, and does this have anything to do with his past? Look over there! Now here! Was THIS your card!?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Zack Snyder
The day has finally come where DC and Warner Bros step up to the plate and take their best swing at catching up to Marvel before being left irrevocably behind the curve. There is so much about this movie that could go right and can also go horribly wrong. It’s the first movie that not only has Batman and Superman together, but is also the first appearance of Wonder Woman. It’s taking a lot of inspiration from one of the most revered Batman stories of all time. It’s setting up a DC universe that intends to rival that of Marvel Studios. All of this CAN be great if they can pull it off, but the sheer magnitude of this release and the expectations from not only fans but the studio itself does not bode well for a director who is already hit or miss an on screen interpretation of Superman that has gotten heavily criticized. Can they pull off the impossible as effortlessly as The Last Son of Krypton would, or is this going to be an atomic bomb of a mess that will shake Warner Bros to its very core? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins at the end of Man of Steel, only now we’re following Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as he tries to save people in the city of Metropolis while Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman (Henry Cavill) are having their big smack down. Needless to say that there’s not much he can do (especially outside of his Batman suit) and has to more or less sit there as the city falls apart around him due to these two men who have come from the sky and could crush all of humanity. Cut to a year and a half later, and we see a world that is very much split on Superman. Sometime between then and now there was apparently enough people who LIKED Superman to make him a memorial in the middle of Metropolis, but for the most part he’s being attacked on the news and constantly questioned about his true motivations. One such Superman naysayer is Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) who is trying to manipulate the US military and members of Congress to give him access to all the resources they have on Krypton (mainly Zod’s ship and his lifeless corpse) as well as permission to import some Kryptonite that was found in India. While Lex is working on that, he’s also working surreptitiously to undercut Superman’s acts of genuine good while laying traps and breadcrumbs for Batman (who I don’t believe he knows is actually Bruce Wayne) to become even more resolute that Superman has to be stopped before he becomes a true threat to humanity. Along the way, we’ve got Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) keeping Superman’s spirits high while he grapples with a world that hates and fears him (Lois is also working on a story about clearing Superman’s associate with something bad that happened in Africa), and we also have Bruce’s faithful butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) trying to steer him on the right path and away from Superman. Still, the punch up is inevitable if the title is any indication, and the two of them have to hash out their differences before eventually working together to fight Doomsday alongside their new ally Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Will they be able to stop Lex Luthor and his plans to… do bad things I guess? Will the world FINALLY accept Superman after he fights ANOTHER city destroying bad guy? Are they SERIOUSLY gonna try to launch an expansive DC film universe off of this movie? Can we just get to Suicide Squad already?
American Ultra and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Did someone finally remake Natural Born Killers? No? That sacred cow hasn’t been milked yet? Eh… give it time. Until then, we’ve got the next big film from Max Landis. No, he didn’t direct it. He wrote the movie and it’s his big follow up after Chronical, and we all know how well things turned out for the OTHER guy who made that movie! All joking aside, Chronical was one of the best examples of not only the found footage genre but the super hero genre as well. The story was complex and heartfelt while still being an exciting and unique take on portraying super powers in film. Can Max Landis pull off another hit with this film about a stoner sleeper agent, or will he be doomed to the same fate as Josh Trank whose sophomore slump is easily the biggest disaster of the year? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) who’s some dipshit loser in West Virginia with a lousy job, a drug problem, and a condition where he has panic attacks whenever he tries to leave town. The only good thing the sad sack has going for him is his sad sack girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) who’s only slightly more functional than he is in that she doesn’t nearly burn the house down due to her own absent mindedness. Mike is certainly trying to do better by her, but this is a guy with no ambition and little imagination. Aside from his doodles about an astronaut ape, he barely gives off any signs of conscious thought other than guilt for being lucky enough to find Phoebe and the fact that she loves him just as much as he loves her. Of course, things aren’t as simple as they seem. Being a man child movie, our hero has to have some super ability that they didn’t really earn, and in this case it turns out that he’s actually a decommissioned CIA sleeper agent with skills to rival James Bond… despite being MAYBE twenty five (at least as far as the movie is trying to sell the premise as). Of course, being an unstoppable badass who ain’t doing shit to no one, some pencil pushing mother fucker (Adrian Yates played by Topher Grace) decides that Mike needs to be eliminated and sends out a bunch of goons to 86 the bastard. The original leader of the program that turned Jesse Eisenberg into teenage Terminator (Victoria Lassetter played by Connie Britton) gets wind of this and is doing what she can to keep him alive while he starts to remember the skills he had in the past. Can he survive these attempts on his life and get his girlfriend through this ordeal safely, or will the weight of these revelations be too much for him to handle?