Watched the 1979 The Muppet Movie
which is about how they came together. As the first movie, a lot of what makes the Muppets the Muppets is still there like personalities (though some of the band has been sidelined since), it's 4th wall and word play, songs (opening with Rainbow connection, that and "I'm Going Back There Someday" had emotional punch and some catchy ones), cameo's (though only Steve Martin and Big Bird's worked for me). Yet with a underwhelming baddie and a lot of humour that didn't work, it was a solid film that lacked spark for the majority of it.
Watched Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
. Before the somewhat negative reviews had been... reasonably looking forward to it. Batman vs Superman could be two well established superhero titans with great play on the idealogical divide and should have small cast. Fine with casting, I was content with Zack Snyder directing as long as he had someone to oversee him, to block glaringly bad moves and to curb his love of action, trailers seemed alright. On the negative seemed like Snyder was going to get a free hand which left me worried, also what left me very worried is it clearly wasn't going to be a small Superman team (say Lois, Jimmy, Perry White) vs Batman's team (Alfred, maybe a Robin/Nightwing or a Catwoman, Jim Gordon) but seemed like it was going to flood with as many DC big names as they could which sounded a horrible idea and reeked of panic.Disclaimer:
I know there is a belief that Marvel pay reviewers to diss DC films and I know many here have got giant luxury mansions as a result of Marvel payments but alas Zy stole my cut. Git.
Also is Supergirl under Marvel's pay becuase that show has taken a pointed, unfriendly shot at Snyder's work in both of it's seasons? Or is the conspiracy just stupid nonsense?
It was nowhere near as bad as I feared and I quite liked it, opening was "oh god" but as first half was mostly character stuff, I enjoyed that, I liked getting to know the characters. Became erratic in build up to the big fight and then of course it went actiony without being exciting. The big ending fight was entertaining and fun for me but the epilogue dragged with a constant sense of "about to be over... oh no" and played into some of the worst aspects of the film. In terms of the stuff I had worried about, it did manage to balance its roster somewhat but I can't help but feel one character's removal
to be saved up for a later film would have given more room for everything else. Snyder being Snyder, there was a lot of action but only the last big battle had any oomph, the film managed to make Batman's gadgets seem boring it's action was that flat. Snyder's judgement of what he changes from comics remains questionable, some I could see why but others near the end just seem really bad moves and even contradicts the film's characters.
In terms of technical merit, looks good but did feel like CGI could be a bit heavy at times, dialogue could suddenly go quiet in first hour but otherwise fine sound, I felt there was a scene badly missing (whether never created or cut in the edit) at one point
. I did wonder if the action was somewhat hampered by moments where objects seem small but that it made Batman's gadgets seem boring is a negative miracle. Only the last big fight had oomph about it. Pacing is glacial, even when I was enjoying the film I was aware of it going slowly.
Of course a good looking film would never be enough, there has to be story and character. DoJ does better then civil war at the wider feeling of people turning against superheroes (till it drops the subject) but though it tries, that feeling only really seems to land for Lex Luthor at an individual level. The story has too much going on and would have been helped by someone imposing a limit on how much DC stuff they could use in one film, there is stuff where character logic seems questionable including in key points
, some things tantalize but never get fleshed out. Cast do a good job but dialogue when characters are having a fight or about to and when characters are being mopy/serious doesn't click. The characters are intresting enough that I would be eager to watch their next movie and I enjoyed what development there was but by the end, it feels like there hasn't been enough depth built as there should have been at this point. It might have been better to try to balance out two grim, dark superheroes with a bit more human lightness be it humour, romance or something else.
Team Batman: I liked the efforts early on to sell the idea Batman had been at this awhile
but it doesn't quite pull off, I like that Batman is a different older figure to what we are used to, Affleck manages the playboy ease and the brooder. Pity they forget to bring his intelligence and when Batman doesn't have his sarcasm, he does need figures around him to provide a lighter side. Thankfully Iron's Alfred has the butlery sarcasm, the fatherly instinct, the close adviser
. I wish they had dumped the dream sequences into after-credits or something to free up the movie.
Team Superman: I'm guessing Snyder hates Superman fans but once he got a piece of sacrilege out early
... Team Superman is hit by Cavill not doing well in the sadder aspects of Superman. He does the good man and superhero and the mild mannered Clark Kent well but when the script, understandably,
goes for a Superman in a less then happy mood, he goes flat. Amy Adams provides a lot of chemistry and a fair bit of charisma with Lois Lane, their scenes hit well becuase of it and I wish they had time for more proper romance scenes as their one time was sweet, she was the more impressive journalist as well. Perry White made a good "temperamental but not all bad" boss and a bit of humour, Martha might have been intresting if she had more then one scene which hinted at a strand that could have been very intresting.
Team evil: Lex Luthor is one of the highlights of the film though one wonders if a saner Lex might have been better. Jesse Eisenberg gives a highly intresting and charismatic performance, There was a mix of light and dark, there was a sense of intelligence that made him a decent threat despite the film's logic errors, he was one of the better supervillians we have had so far. His underlings like Anatoli and assistant Mercy aren't given big roles, indeed Tao Okamoto does well to make us remember her character given the role.
Team Wonderwoman: Well I say team... It just enough of Diana Price to help further interest me in the upcoming film, she had a bit of humour, showed brains, looks like she could be fun and Gadot gave a good performance. Costume works well and anyone who objected to Gadot as Wonder Woman becuase of her looks embarrassed themselves. Her action worked, there was oomph behind her hits and also helped by the sense this Wonder Woman enjoys the thrill of the fight.
Overall: We enjoyed it but could be patchy and it was "I enjoyed it but had potential to be so much more". Also need Snyder banned from making changes to comic books without supervision.
======Phase 1 preview:
Marvel certainly has the headstart starting phase 3 as DC kicked off phase 1 but there is room for both and there is stuff Marvel has struggled with in their films. Only one great villain (Loki) and more misses then hits among the rest of their baddies, no superb romance that really stands out, two phases without a hero that isn't male and white in the lead (and again, I can't believe "we are doing civil war" was not followed with "and this suits Black Widow perfectly, do her film"). Marvel also has a tone, DC can go a different route and DC has some of the bigger names among superheroes.
Of the films I was excited about when I heard it, this one due to Batman, Suicide Squad (Harley Quinn!) which plays right into a Marvel weakness by showing off it's baddies, Wonder Woman. Wasn't so much about Aquaman (that one has a reputation to overcome) till I heard the casting, Shazam only becuase it has Dwayne Johnson in as Black Adam, I'm more used to Cyborg in a comic role but the man/machine thing could be intresting. Concerned with Flash given it already has TV show, how that will impact things.
Where I have concerns, bar the bad reviews, is they ignored lessons from Marvel films, DC TV and Marvel Netflix. All three started with one thing to test the waters (ok they can skip that bit, Man of Steel works for that), hired directors and an overseer they can trust and have faith in, work together closely as a group, then used sequel to gently hint at wider world and build up each superhero, in their own franchise, before combining them so when the team ups happen, the characters are well established. Not everything is perfect, like Ant Man changing director, but there is usually a sense of cohesion, of a careful plan overall which gradually introduces people while ensuring the main characters get their time to shine. There are rarely too many characters or a sense of "oooh ohhh, lets slot this film/show in".
Yet even two films in and before I had watched any of them, there is that sense of panic shadowing it all. Snyder should not have been the guy overseeing the launch, whatever merits he has a film maker, he went into this having committed an act of sacrilege with Superman in Man of Steel, the head needs to be someone who can tell the line between updating/evolving the characters and a redline. Whedon knew the line but also had trust from Marvel, as I understand it Snyder has already been sidelined. There have been reshoots, suggestions of altering tone due to reacting to events, they seem to be adding films based on random whim or popularity and damn the overall plan. Also character overload, Batman vs Superman was announced then quickly turned into plus Wonder Woman and big baddies and Batman's cousin 500 times removed. Suicide Squad should have Amanda Waller, a target and 4-5 members in the team, it has way more then that in the team and brings in other major DC figures thrown in too as if they don't have belief in the film standing on it's own feet.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”