Cinema Dispatch: Justice League v Justice League – Dawn of Judgement

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!!

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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.

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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.

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Cinema Dispatch: Hidden Figures

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Hidden Figures and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Theodore Melfi

FINALLY!  How long did we get trailers for this movie before they finally settled on a release date in January of all months!?  Well better late than never I suppose, and there’s been some seriously strong buzz prior to its nationwide release, so maybe the months of this trailer popping up in front of EVERY MOVIE will be worth it unlike other heavily promoted movies like The Secret Life of Pets.  Remember how many times they showed THAT trailer?  Almost ruined Downtown for me.  ANYWAY!!  Will this be a great way to start off this already rough year, or will this end up being a bigger let down than the Constellation program?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in 1961 with three human computers (those were a thing apparently) who work at NASA but don’t quite get the credit they deserve for their work due almost entirely to them being women of color.  Our intrepid heroes are Katherine Goble (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and they all get their chances to prove themselves once the government is gung ho about escalating the Space Race to beat the Russians to the moon!  Well… sort of.  Katherine gets assigned as a temp for the SUPER math department working with Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) who is an amalgam of three real NASA directors from that period of time, and Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons) who is completely made up and pretty much just symbolic of crappy people that Katherine had to deal with.  Of course, she gets the grunt work, has to run to the colored restrooms (that was still a thing at the time) and was even given a separate coffee pot to use, despite the fact that she can number crunch circles around her coworkers.  Meanwhile, Dorothy is trying to get in on the ground floor of computing as the new IBMs are gonna make the human computers irrelevant at some point, and Mary is trying to be a full time engineer at NASA but is constantly hit with discriminatory roadblocks that make it that much harder for her to achieve her dreams.  None of that’s gonna stop ANY of these women though, as they’re smarter than everyone else and are out there to prove it!  Will they be able to get a proper seat at the table as everyone is working towards the launch of Freindship 7 and in doing so ensure that John Glenn makes it back to Earth safely!?  Well… okay, we KNOW that part considering he was still around as recently as a month ago, but that doesn’t make the journey any less compelling to watch!

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“If we hit this ramp fast enough, we can intercept the Friendship 7 and grab John before the whole thing explodes!”     “THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!?”     “It’s all good!  I saw it in a Fast and the Furious movie!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Criminal

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Criminal and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment

Directed by Ariel Vromen

While Michael Keaton is out there making his comeback off of Birdman and Spotlight, one of his leading man contemporaries of the nineties, Kevin Costner, is trying to rebuild Is career off of Superman cameos and sports movies.  Sure, Michael Keaton was in the Need for Speed movie and the Robocop remake, but at least he’s spending his time in between cash-in movies doing Oscar caliber work to keep himself respected in the industry and not just relevant at the moment.  Still, Costner has some serious talent and seems to be working towards artistic relevancy even if it hasn’t panned out so far so there’s hope yet that he can get back to or even surpass his peak relevance when Dances with Wolves was tearing up the Oscars.  Will Criminal be the movie to bring Costner back to leading man status, or will this be yet another mistake to knock him down a peg toward total irrelevance?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with good ol’ Ryan Reynolds as a secret agent (again) who’s doing all sorts of spy things without any real context for the audience.  He’s carrying around a bag of money with a passport inside, so clearly this is some sort of rainy day fund for either himself or for someone else.  It’s clear that that rainy day has come however as he’s being tailed by a red headed bad guy (Antje Traue) who’s working for the main bad guy Xavier Heimdahl (Jordi Mollà) and they’re trying to stop Ryan Reynolds  from… doing whatever it is he’s doing.  He does the best he can but I’m guessing the guy was shooting during his lunch breaks from Deadpool, so he gets caught and murdered by the bad guys within fifteen minutes of the film, though apparently without giving them the information they needed.  The CIA, whom Ryan Reynolds was working for, is uber-pissed about all this and the head of this branch (Quaker Wells played by Gary Oldman) which for some reason is based out of the UK (okay…) needs whatever information Ryan Reynolds was hiding from the baddies.  So what’s the BRILLIANT idea that he comes up with?  Well… Get a world renown doctor in the field of memories (Dr. Franks played by Tommy Lee Jones) to do a SUPER SCIENCE EXPERIMENT where he essentially transfers the memories into another person.  Who’s the vessel for these new memories though?  Well for reasons (sciency reasons I’m sure), they need someone who’s frontal lobe isn’t working properly and the only person they could find is a psychotic and ultra-dangerous criminal by the name of Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) to play along with their Frankenstein plan and not try to escape at the earliest opportunity.  Oh wait.  After the surgery he does just that.  Whoopsie daisy.  So now we got a career criminal with CIA memories, a bad guy looking to take over the world, and I think the Russians are in the mix as well; all of whom are gonna give the CIA and Gary Oldman a brain aneurysm before this day is over.  Will the lost memories of Ryan Reynolds be enough to save the world from Xavier Heimdahl?  Will Jericho get over his angst and brooding long enough to not let the world be destroyed?  Who thought this was going to work?  Like… at all?

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“Why am I here?  God damn it, is Iñárritu doing another Birdman movie?  We could call it Waterman!  That’ll work… right?”

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