Movie Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Details: More information can be found at https://www.hbomax.com/feature/urn:hbo:feature:GYDAnZgCFQ8IJpQEAAAAN

Score: 6.8/10

Justice League was a film that was released a while ago. It was riddled with problems. Reshoots, a lower quality of films compared to Marvel’s superhero movies, and the director bowing out due to a personal tragedy all knee-capped this movie. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is meant to be everything the originally released movie was meant to be. After watching this movie, I can easily say that this is a better movie than the version of this movie released a few years ago. By itself, this is a passable movie that I would say is on the same level as the first Avengers superhero movie that Marvel put out. I did not love that first Avengers movie and I don’t hold any passion for this one.

The background story behind this film is that back when this movie was released, Zack Snyder pretty much shot the entire movie and was about to start post production (editing, special effects, etc.). Then his daughter killed herself and he understandably bowed out of the movie. Joss Whedon took over directorial duties and reshot a bunch of things, changed the story around and changed the entire tone of the film to something more lighthearted. Some of the more noteworthy problems with the film include a badly digitally removed mustache on Henry Cavill (he was filming Mission Impossible at the time and was contracted to keep his mustache… or so the rumor goes). There’s some cheesy lines and odd editing. Basically, Whedon made substantial changes to a film that had already finished shooting, creating this very disjointed feeling film.

Since the release of that movie, whispers of a Snyder cut that holds all the original intent of Zack Snyder was floating around the internets. Whedon’s Justice League was poorly received and DC Comics fans wanted a decent Justice League movie. No one knows if Snyder’s original vision would yield a good movie or not, but Whedon’s Justice League was so bad that most fans wanted to take that chance.

Then came the pandemic and everyone stuck at home. Streaming entertainment became essential and Warner Brothers decided to capitulate to fans. They got Snyder and decided to give him the funding to finish the movie he originally made and release on HBO’s streaming service.

So how is the film? It’s definitely better than Whendon’s version, but only by a little bit. It’s not a huge leap forward. The film still retains most of the major plot points and the problems with those plot points. The tone of the film is darker and it’s a gorier film with more blood and violence.

One of the dumber things about this film and the quintessential thing that makes this movie a Zack Snyder film is the overuse of slow motion. Seriously, after years of Zack Snyder films, it seems clear he has no idea how to make a movie at normal speed. The movie either speeds up, then slows down, then freezes, then speed up again, then slows down, ad infinitum. It’s stupid. The movie is over four hours long. No film needs to be that long. I feel like if Snyder could just run the camera at normal speed, we’d actually have a movie with a tolerable run time.

The biggest addition was an additional scene near the end where Jared Leto reprises his role as the Joker. This was a mostly meaningless scene, had little or nothing to do with the overall plot, and was simply meant as fan service.

Overall, this movie is fine. Its existence– I feel– is largely unnecessary. It’s pretty much the same film as Whedon’s version except with a lot of minor improvements. You can tell that Warner Brothers wanted this to be the start of its own superhero movie franchise, but it was so unsuccessful that this plan clearly fell to the wayside.

Movie Review: Iron Man 2

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1228705/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/home

Score: 7/10

A successful sequel should simply do everything that the first movie did, but more. Iron Man 2 does that. It adds more backstory, more character development, more characters and more action and special effects.

Iron Man 2 picks up where the last movie left off. Tony Stark’s mechanized suit and it’s limitless power source is the new most powerful weapon on the planet. Because of its existence, all countries have backed down due to Tony working with the U.S. government and the United States now possessing unrivaled military supremacy because of it. When a new enemy appears who seemingly has developed a suit and power source similar to Tony’s, Tony Stark must now advance his technology even further to defeat this new enemy and maintain the peace established by him and his Iron Man suit.

The same light hearted tone from the first movie is maintained in this one and this film is all the better for it. It’s what most people loved about the last film and Robert Downey Jr.’s performance. There is also plenty of action and there are higher quality special effects and more of them.

The biggest addition to this film is the introduction of Natasha Romanov, or the Black Widow. This is Scarlett Johansson’s first appearance in the Marvel movie universe and the beginning of a long career making these Marvel movies. She’s great and I always wondered why it took so long for her to get her own superhero movie since she’s undoubtedly an A-list actor. I later learned from Bob Iger’s memoir that it was because Ike Perlmutter –a powerful figure in Marvel and then Disney– was a sexist and felt that a woman would not be successful as the lead in a superhero movie (Perlmutter was also a racist and was the reason why a Black Panther movie was not made earlier because he felt that black people –like women generally– could not carry a movie). Thank goodness, Perlmutter has since been put out to pasture.

Overall, this was a fun movie that adds more of everything fans liked in the first movie. It’s not too serious and it should not be. It’s just a fun summer movie with lots of laughs and explosions.

Movie Review: Thor

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800369/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/

Score: 6/10

I recently got my grubby little mitts on a Disney Plus account and it’s been a great opportunity to revisit old Marvel movies that I barely remember. Disney has conveniently laid these movies out in chronological order so that’s the order I’ve been watching them in. First was Iron Man, then Iron Man 2, now we’ve reached Thor. While Iron Man was fun and a breath of fresh air, Thor was trite and not that good.

The story focuses on Thor, the Norse god of thunder. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Asgardians are a god-like race of aliens that frequently visited Earth. Thor is the prince of Asgard, son of Odin, who is king. Through Thor’s own folly, he is banished to Earth and his powers taken away. Little do any know that a great conspiracy is under way to usurp the Asgardian throne and bring doom to all. Thor must now grow out of his immaturity and into a hero worthy of Asgard.

The story of this movie is not great. It’s all over the place. You could tell that they were attempting many things at once and ended up doing a lackluster job for most. It felt rushed and incomplete. There’s not enough time setting up all the ideas and the conflicts and their resolution felt rushed and unfulfilling.

You need to keep in mind that this movie existed solely to create a movie version of Thor to put into the first Avengers movie. At the time, this kind of big, cinematic series that culminated in a big team-up movie where the main characters in all the superhero movies would show up and do one big movie together had never been done before. They were flying by the seat of their pants and the result was mediocre bunch of movies meant to introduce characters for future movies where they can then team up for other characters. For that reason, it’s easy to see why the plot in this movie was so bad. No one cared that much about Thor in comparison to how much they cared about that first Avengers movie. Further, as was said before, this was the first time anyone tried a combined, cinematic fictional universe. There was a lack of experience here that would not be rectified until years later when the Russo brothers would come along and Kevin Feige would consolidate power and the authority to make creative decisions independently.

My biggest regret with this film is how they tried to go the dramatic route for this first film. They simply didn’t realize that Hemsworth’s talents lie in the comedic and that Thor is so strange a character that it’s hard to tell a serious story about him with a straight face. Once Thor: Ragnarok came around and we got to see just how funny Hemsworth could be, there was no turning back and the Thor franchise will now forever remain a series defined by it’s funny moments and it’s all the better for it.

Overall, this was a passable movie that exists simply to lay some ground work for Thor’s appearance in the first Avengers movie. The plot isn’t great, but isn’t horrific. The special effects are nice. It’s just an overall boring movie with little payoff for all it’s plot points. The only thing that they did right in this film was the casting. It’s no surprise that years later, Hemsworth and Hiddleston continue to make Marvel movies because of how much fans loved them.

Movie Review: Iron Man

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/movies/marvel-studios-iron-man/6aM2a8mZATiu

Score: 7/10

I recently got access to Disney Plus, which means I now have access to all the Marvel movies. Disney has conveniently laid out of these movies in their intended watching order and I’ve decided to give them all a watch through. First on the list is Iron Man, a movie so successful that it spawned the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Tony Stark is technological genius. He is the head of Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer who sells weapons to the United States military. After getting kidnapped by terrorists in the middle east, Tony realizes that his business may cause more harm than good. He then constructs the most technologically advanced weapon on the planet, a high tech suit of armor powered by a nearly limitless power source. With this new weapon, he seeks to rectify the mistakes his company has committed.

Much of what I liked about this movie are the same thing I enjoyed in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. It’s the perfect balance of comedy and drama, which is a high dose of comedy with a little drama. The action is very good and the special effects — which were amazing at the time– still hold up surprisingly well.

The main attraction of this movie is Robert Downey Jr., who plays our protagonist Tony Stark. Downey does a great job portraying a charismatic jerk. His dialogue flies fast and loose. Part of that may be because much of film is flying by the seat of its pants. I watched some behind the scenes for this movie and much of the dialogue was not finalized until the day of shooting. Production simply moved too fast to slow down (probably due to financial restraints) and the actors adapted accordingly. Somehow, the dialogue and performances still felt natural and fun, though you can see a little bit of that improvisational energy that you’d see in your local improv troupe.

Overall, this was a fun movie. It doesn’t get too dark like Batman Begins nor does it get too campy like the old Fantastic Four movies. It’s the right balance of funny, action and special effects. Iron Man stands the test of time as an ideal summer blockbuster movie.

Anime Movie Review: KONOSUBA -God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World!- Legend of Crimson

Details: More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/38040/Kono_Subarashii_Sekai_ni_Shukufuku_wo__Kurenai_Densetsu and you can watch it for free at https://www.crunchyroll.com/konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world/konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world-legend-of-crimson-konosuba-gods-blessing-on-this-wonderful-world-legend-of-crimson-794436

Score: 7/10

Legend of Crimson is a movie spawned by the fairly popular anime, Konosuba. While I greatly enjoyed this comedy, the movie was somewhat disappointing as it lacked that higher level of animation quality you’d expect from a movie. What’s also sad is that even though the humor is exactly the same here as in the anime series, I didn’t find it as funny. I think I just grew out of this type of humor and don’t enjoy it as much anymore.

Konosuba is an isekai story. Generally in these types of stories, someone from the real world dies and is reborn into another world, usually a fantasy world. That person is usually granted immense power as isekai stories are usually power fantasies. However, this is a comedy and our protagonist is reborn into the new world with almost no power. Now, we get to watch our unfortunate, sleazy protagonist flail about while meeting other oddballs in this new world.

One of the funniest parts of this anime is watching these pathetic characters struggle. Most scenes usually start off with our protagonists confident in their ability to handle the situation. Then the true danger appears and we get to watch our protagonists crumble into a pile of cowardly dust. They play up this scene structure over and over again and mostly, it’s hilarious. It’s almost always funny watching an arrogant character knocked into the shadow realm of humility again and again. Also funny is watching how these characters start off trying to be decent human beings, but once a situation escalates, they degenerate into the vile of characters. The main draw of Konosuba is watching these cowardly, perverse, sleazy characters flail about as the world their in continues to throw them in difficult situations.

My biggest gripe with this movie is the animation. The animation quality is about the same as the anime series, which isn’t terrible. It’s just that you’d expect a movie to up the quality just a bit over an episodic series because a movie is just one big episode. I don’t know how their budgeting and time management went, but the higher quality of animation just isn’t here.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but it could’ve been better. Also worth mentioning is that there is a lot of fan service in this show… though some of the fan service is turned around on you into a fairly hilarious joke. I won’t explain it more than that for fear of spoiling the plot.