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: Top Ten WTF Moments in The Mummy

So if you read my review of the movie, you’ll know that I consider this one of the rare films that you can legitimately classify as So Bad It’s Good, but what does that even mean?  First of all, it’s one of the hardest things for any filmmaker to do as these kinds of movies live on a precarious balance of context that informs whether the flaws in place are enjoyable or not.  For example, The Room is one of the gold standards when it comes to this kind of movie due to the inexplicable nature of… well, EVERYTHING in the film.  HOWEVER, that context only works when you’re under the assumption that Tommy Wiseau had no understanding of what he was doing which, if you watch the movie again, isn’t really the case.  I don’t know the guy personally, but if you take another look at the movie from the perspective of a misogynist, what with the story being about a man scorned by an inexplicably evil woman who’s ruined his life to the point of him committing suicide (the movie even makes a point of putting ALL blame for the affair on Johnny’s girlfriend while framing Mark as sympathetic)… yeah, it kind of loses a lot of its charm; throwing off that perfect balance between being awful and being delightfully so about it.  Now on the other side of the coin, is it possible for this kind of balance to be reverse engineered?  Eh… I wouldn’t say it’s IMPOSSIBLE but other than MAYBE Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, I’m hard pressed to think of one that didn’t happen NATURALLY.  It’s lightening in a bottle plain and simple, and while there’s the rare filmmaker out there who can wrangle it themselves (I truly believe Werner Herzog to be a deity among mere mortals), we’ve gotten enough failed attempts from the likes of Robert Rodriguez and Quinten Tarantino (though Grindhouse is still a pretty high bar for intentional attempts at bad movies) to realize that trying to force this kind of movie isn’t something worth attempting and why it’s so great whenever we get another one to enjoy.  Now to celebrate this movie being added to the pantheon of Horribly Watchable Films, I’m gonna give you the top ten WTF moments in this utter disaster that’s landed in theaters!  Needless to say that I will be spoiling EVERYTHING about the movie so be wary if you want to experience it yourself.

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10) Necronomicon Ex Mortis – A random reference to the Brenden Fraser film

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When Tom Cruise’s character Nick is brought to Prodigium for the first time, there are a few quick references to other monster movies such as Dracula and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as one reference to the 1999 Mummy film.  The big MacGuffin of that one was the Book of the Dead that ended up reviving Imhotep after Evelyn opens it up and reads from it, and in THIS movie the book is at Prodigum and gets a nice long close up before being forgotten about completely.  Fair enough I guess as it serves its purpose of being a cute little call back, but doesn’t it seem like kind of a waste?  I mean, I don’t remember EVERYTHING that it did in that first movie, but surely they could have at least cracked it open to see if there’s a BANISH EVIL MUMMY LADY spell or something; ESPECIALLY considering they don’t really have a plan to stop her in the first place!  I don’t know, maybe they lost that weird key thing or something!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Mummy

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The Mummy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Alex Kurtzman

For every good idea out there, we’ll inevitably get a bucket load of copy cats and knock offs to try and cash in on what made the original incarnation so successful.  True, Universal Monster movies were in SOME way connected (mostly because they were all done by the same people) and they eventually did a few versus movies that are fondly remembered, but those weren’t the films they were looking at when they decided to move ahead with their Dark Universe.  Marvel’s got it in the bag, DC’s been fumbling like crazy, and it’s still a bit too early to tell if the Kaiju Universe is gonna pay off.  Now with Universal’s attempt to do the same for its catalog of legendary monsters hitting theaters, will it manage to pull off what Marvel’s imitators have failed to do thus far, or is Universal just not equipped to take the crown back Disney and Captain America?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with a prologue letting us know that the titular mummy this time around is NOT Imhotep as it was in the other Universal Mummy movies but is instead a new character named Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boultella) who sold her soul to Set (wasn’t that the dude Gerard Butler played n Gods of Egypt?) in order to wrest control of the throne from her father and her baby brother.  Oh, and I guess she also wanted to release Set into this world by… cutting someone open while having sex with them?  I don’t know, but either way she’s captured soon after her murder spree and is mummified alive before being dropped off in some tomb.  Cut to modern day and we meet Nick and Chris (Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson) who are two fun loving soldiers who are ALSO grave robbers and stumble upon the lost tomb of Princess Ahmanet which they explore along with an archeologist… I think, called Jennifer (Annabelle Wallis).  Needless to say that the mummy resurrects, she starts hunting people down, and our heroes have to find a way to stop her.  Oh right!  But before we can get through that story, we ALSO have to get Prodigium involved!  What is Prodigium?  It’s basically S.H.I.E.L.D. for monsters and it’s head up by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).  They don’t DO much, but the movie wants you to be VERY aware that these people are around and might just be fighting other monsters in the future!  Anyway, the Mummy plans to take over the world by finding a MacGuffin (a special knife) and cutting open Tom Cruise who is her NEW Chosen One so that she can release Set upon the world!  Will Tom Cruise manage to save the day once again by running really fast at things?  Is Universal satisfied with the amount of world building that was shoved into this thing?  CAN WE PLEASE GET BRENDAN FRASER BACK!?  I know that last mummy movie wasn’t very good, but still!

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I heard the movie was dead on arrival, but I didn’t think they meant LITERALLY!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Nice Guys

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The Nice Guys and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Shane Black

How amazing is it that on the cusp of a freaking Lethal Weapon television show premiering that Shane Black (the writer of the original film) has a new movie out in theaters just to show the futility of even TRYING to recreate what he did back in 1987?  The guy may not be as prolific as some other great filmmakers out there, but between the films he wrote and the ones he directed, there’s no denying that Shane Black is a first rate talent that we should all be thankful is out there making movies.  Does his latest film live up to his track record of excellence, or is this the first sign that the guy is tapped out creatively and that it’s all downhill from here?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and Holland March (Ryan Gosling); the former being a goon for hire and the latter being a detective from the Richard Moore School of Sleuthing.  The duo cross paths early on as Ryan Gosling is trying to find a girl (Margaret Qualley) for a client but the girl CLEARLY does not want to be found.  Because of this, she hires Russell Crowe to convince him to stop, which he does… violently.  Unfortunately for the both of them, this case is a lot bigger than either of them anticipated and after an assassination attempt fails to take out Russell Crowe, he goes to see Ryan Gosling about teaming up to find out what the hell is really going on here.  Along for the ride (despite Ryan Gosling’s insistence to the contrary) is Holly March (Angourie Rice) who may only be a teenager, but is at least half as good as a detective as her father claims to be.  Along their journey, they’re run afoul of gangsters, pornographers, at least one politician, and a shit load of gunfights as they search for answers and try to do something good for once in their wretched and miserable lives!  Can this trio find out who this girl really is and why everyone is looking for her?  Can these two knuckleheads work together without one of them killing the other?  Does Shane Black find a way to fit in Christmas again!?

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“Feliz Navidad you sack of shit.”     “Isn’t your daughter waiting for you in the car?”     “She knows how to get back home.”

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