Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Review

RATING: 1.5/5

Two of the biggest superheroes of all time come head-to-head while a real threat lurks in the shadows pulling the strings.

Revisiting this film was something…special.

DISCLAIMER: Ultimate Edition

First and foremost, one felt the 3.5hr duration. The first act ran for way too long, roughly 25-30 minutes at that. Similar to “Wonder Woman 84,” things were happening but a majority of it didn’t mean much to the movie overall. Granted it was a bit more entertaining, with Bruce’s perspective during the climax from “Man of Steel” and his first appearance as Batman. Even so, those two opening scenes, along with the unnecessary scene of the Wayne’s being shot and Superman’s introduction, dragged on for far too long. Just when it seemed like the movie was officially going to start, another scene would play to introduce the hundreds of characters and hundreds of plotlines being thrown in.

Characters, oh boy, where to start. Well I’ll say this, the character I enjoyed the most was Alfred. Jeremy Irons did good at delivering the humor and light-hearted elements. Something that this film sorely needed. A majority of the performances were fine with the dark and bland material given to them. I wanted more life in the dreary mood that totally encompassed the entire film. Granted, I don’t want something too over-the-top or goofy, like Eisenburg’s performance. What a huge miscast this was. Every scene he was in screamed awkwardness and uncomfortableness. Every scene made the movie’s tone flop all over the place. The monkey shirt he wore in his first scene really set the stage for the type of character he was. Easily the worst.

Characterizations took a hard dip. Superman always looked he was about to break into tears with his somber and displeasured expressions. His motivations of wanting to stop Batman throughout the second act don’t make a lick of sense. Especially when he stopped Batman pursuing more dangerous people, yet he doesn’t do anything, he just flies away. Batman treated the destruction of his business tower more seriously than he should of. He’s basically a big brooding brute that doesn’t listen to reason or doesn’t look outside the box and see the good deeds Superman had done after “Man of Steel.” Lois Lane played the typical damsel too many times, to a point of ridiculousness. Her plotline of figuring out Luthor was the one pulling the strings was very predictable. Luthor’s plan of wanting to kill god (Superman), was pretty bland, uninteresting, and his endgame remained to be seen. Doomsday was utilized too early and looked eerily similar to the Abomination from “The Incredible Hulk,” the 2nd MCU film might I add. The parallels between the franchises really stack-up.

As I mentioned prior, the overall tone was too dark and too depressing. The serious acting and some of the serious and/or non-engaging dialogue, made the viewing experience for me, dull and bored. I mean the first time watching it, I didn’t really feel the minutes go by. But after watching it for the second time and watching “WW84,” I can now say the movie looked big, grandiose, and epic, with little substance to back it up. I understand, for the time in 2016, that DC was trying to do something different with its cinematic universe. Still, its a comic-book movie. There needs to be light-hearted material to break up the sad and solemn emotions. The entertainment factor in it was sorely lacking.

The entertainment factor that did work the best were the action scenes involving Batman, particularly the warehouse scene. One definitely felt every hard hit and painful injury. While a majority of the music for me was forgettable, the theme that stood out for me was Wonder Woman’s. I did like the political discussions being presented on how Superman should be perceived by the public. There was a sense of promise for these scenes, but unfortunately, the number of plot holes and ridiculous moments hammered those good aspects to the dirt.

  • Save Martha.
  • Batman becoming friends with Superman in a split second after.
  • Luthor finding Superman’s mother with no explanation.
  • How Zod’s dead body and Luther’s blood was able to create Doomsday?
  • Wayne employees becoming oblivious to danger at the beginning.
  • Lois somehow figuring out the Kryptonite spear is the one thing to kill Doomsday.
  • Batman kills
  • Batman almost knocking out his own tracking device on the truck he was chasing.
  • Luthor entering Zod’s ship with such ease.
  • Superman death’s
  • Justice League member inclusions
  • Etc.

There’s others for sure, but these were the most notable.

Zack sure had a thing for visuals. At times they were nice, but at other times they were excessive. The climax went completely overboard with the effects. To a point where I’m thinking to myself, “out of all the stuff happening and all the things trying to make me care, I just can’t.” I was truly amazed about the lack of emotional resonance being displayed. It was so hollow and bare-bone.

Much like with the first act, the third act dragged on for far too long. The movie felt the need to spend an extra eternity to watch Superman’s funeral from multiple perspectives.

The movie did way too much and it truly impacted the DCEU. It was trying to juggle multiple characters and storylines with little payoff by the end. All in a sorry attempt to compete with Marvel. Thankfully the DCEU have recovered and our doing their own thing for the most part. Hopefully, hopefully in the future, the next crossover movie will be better fleshed out, fun, and more even than the rough, dull, tedious, and bumpy ride that I endured.

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Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) Review

RATING: 4/5

An FBI informant is tasked to learn and behave like a Black Panther Party member to get close to revolutionary Fred Hampton.

Director Shaka King’s showcases wonderous talent with his first mainstream smash hit.

Daniel Kaluuya did a fantastic job at portraying Fred Hampton. For starters, I didn’t know a single thing about Hampton until watching the film. After the picture was over, I have to say I was genuinely impressed. Whether it was his speeches or the actions he committed, the man was the center of the attention. When he spoke, the angry and passion was heard very clearly. The actions he committed, were justifiable and you didn’t want the cops (pigs), to stop him and his revolution. Hampton may seem like a dangerous man based on the falsified media by the white majority. But deep down, he cared not only about his race, but also for unifying the various groups from all over Chicago, to send a powerful message to the leaders on wanting a positive change.

Lakeith Stanfield was great as William O’Neal. Once a car thief turned informant for the FBI through the 70s. One understood why he had to do what he did and it was something that he himself, wasn’t too fond of. Whenever he was feeling anxious, stressed, or filled with another powerful emotion, one felt it. Heading into the dark side was not an easy task for O’Neal. He didn’t want to dive deep into his job, but with a little financial and get-out-of-jail persuasion, his hand was unfortunately forced. Like I mentioned, one felt the pain he portrayed, especially toward the end during the scene just before the raid.

The rest of the supporting characters gave really good performances. Jesse Plemons as agent Roy Mitchell was an interesting person as someone who was on the fence about the organization he worked in. When it came to the members of the Black Panthers, one wanted to root for them badly and not let injustice go unpunished. When it came to the other side of the spectrum, one felt the sliminess and hateful disgust they spat out especially by J. Edgar played by Martin Sheen.

The visuals and technical side of the feature was something to take major note of. Cinematography was nicely done. There were times where the camera would follow the subject with no little to no cuts and it all looked rather seamless. Perspective shots were implemented well whenever a speech was brought forth. Two shots for me that stood out were when Hampton was in the classroom sitting in front of an overblown white window. That with the fact that he was wearing a white long-sleeve, added nice symbolism. He was a man who was righteous in his deeds. Or in the case of the movie, a poet. The other shot involved O’Neal returning to his apartment. He sits on his bed with a red light piercing through the window on his right. While the window on the left side of the shot, was a whitish-green. Again, nice symbolism in that it foreshadowed a dark future and the wrongdoings he acted during that time.

Sound was quite impressive at times. One of my favorites scenes was when one of the party members was running through the plant, having a shoot-out with the cops. It felt like I was watching “Predator” with the drums kicking it. The tension and atmosphere worked great for it. Music was orchestrated well with its jazz, hip-hop, and R&B influences thrown in. It for sure can make one stand up and fight for the right thing. Or it can offer a nice moody, gritty, or foreboding feel whenever the harsh reality of the streets were taken center stage.

Watching the entire movie, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the film “Malcolm X” or Spike Lee in general. When it came down to the style or direction, this was a project I felt like Lee would have definitely made. But I wouldn’t say King ripped off Lee. Similarities sure, but different in a number of reasons.

Now the negatives.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice was O’Neal’s job as an informant. Too many times where I felt like he wasn’t trying to blend in. Moments where he was trying too hard at being a member or moments where it was clearly obvious something was off about him. But apparently the other members didn’t notice or care. Like I would know something seemed wrong in one of the last scenes where O’Neal was getting teary-eyed and no one questioned him. Also no member questioned him after the police shoot-out. Also, him being known by the party for disguising himself as an FBI agent, should have raised more red flags.

One contradictory moment that really made me scratch my head was when O’Neal was showing Hampton tons of C4. A nonsensical/hypocritical moment for that he was in the same theater when Hampton delivered his speech prior when he returned from prison. At that point in time, he made it clear that he was a valuable member of the party. Agent Mitchell himself was impressed with his academy award level of acting. To throw something like that was jarring and again, it was something that should have been more addressed afterwards rather than not mentioning it ever again.

There should have been more backstory shown of O’Neal or the things he and agent Mitchell did outside of work. Especially the latter because there was a point of dialogue where O’Neal described Mitchell as a role model. But I just don’t feel like the movie did a good job at establishing that kind of relationship.

Again, Stanfield performed the role great. He always gives a strong performance. But his character acted too out of the ordinary and needed to be toned down.

Shaka King has a future for sure. He delivered at bringing forth a strong cast of characters with great acting, well done direction, good cinematography, nice music, and showcasing very relevant themes. The injustice of the police system. The movie couldn’t have come out at a better time. HIGHLY recommend this great and inspirational picture.

RIP to all those impacted.

Malcolm X (1992) Review

One Night in Miami (2020) Review

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One Night in Miami (2020) Review

RATING: 4/5

Four famous 20th century African-Americans, from different backgrounds, spend the night at a hotel and have intense talks about what it means to be who they are and it how it impacts the world they live.

Regina King, as an actress, she nails it. As a debut director, I’m looking forward to her next project.

The introduction to this was nicely done at introducing the four main characters, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. From their introductions, one can tell who they are based on their personalities and what they were striving in life; based on the difficulties brought onto them around a volatile and hateful time in U.S history. It also gave forth some good foreshadowing of how there different perspectives on things was going to bring about some heated conversations.

Now a majority of the movie took place in one room in a hotel. This isn’t the first where one setting is used. A great example is “12 Angry Men.” These types of film really need to strive and entertain the audience with its dialogue to distract them from being bored at looking at the same scenery for extended periods. To which “One Night in Miami” did that well.

When each of the four men’s ideologies clash, primarily Malcolm and Cooke, it was engaging and one can understand their point of views. Their goals for something better are there, but their journey in achieving that differed from one another. One wished to be militant in their approach, while one geared more into the passive path. One wanted to see who would get the best chance of one upping the other. Which journey was the best for all? It was nice to see the four men learn from each other and from their, build off some form of pact in wanting to make a rightful change for the world.

Performances in the movie were great. Though I will say the casting was a tad dodgy. Most notably for Malcolm X played Kingsley Ben-Adir. I just didn’t see him as X when looking at the face. As I said prior, the dialogue was really good. Each scene seemed to touch a different part of the character’s lives. It made one wonder how these men would take each other’s stances on touchy subjects.

The music was pretty good. The standouts scenes of course came from Cooke. One was where he had to improvise when his mic cut off and his closing track “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Now the movie was selling on the interactions/confrontations between four men, but it felt more like two. This seemed more like an X vs. Cooke feature, while Ali and Brown were there as moral support. Brown suffered the worst in terms of development. One got tidbits of what his life was like during the time, but there wasn’t a lot shown about him for me to latch on. Ali was better for he was on the fence on whether accepting a new faith was the right choice. There was development there.

But the movie felt liked it focused more so on X and Cooke. Which made sense seeing they were practically opposites for how the movie portrayed them. Both used mics to say what’s on their minds, but their voice was different. Still entertaining, but it would have been nice if Ali and especially Brown, contributed more.

For her debut, King soared. She proved herself that not only she can be a great actress, but also a great director. “One Night in Miami” had great performances, good characters, nice music, and engaging and thought-provoking dialogue. Highly recommend it.

Check out: Malcolm X (1992) Review

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Wonder Woman 84 (2020)

RATING: 1.5/5

Wonder Woman’s journey to discover herself is pressured when a great force comes to show her deepest desires.

Wasn’t much a fan of the first one, but I thought it was decent nonetheless. However its leagues (no pun intended) better than its sequel.

The initial twenty minutes I have to say were a good introduction. There were a good introduction on how things were going downhill when it came to the pacing, narrative, acting, etc. The two intros, including the Themyscira Olympics and the heroic saves by Wonder Woman, dragged for quite a while. I mean I was stunned for how disinterested I was. The Olympics scene felt like it should have been placed in the first movie. Sure it included the one theme/message that will come back toward the end, but the whole scene went on too long. In addition it included a certain Golden Armor that doesn’t pay off greatly in the climax. It looked cool, but honestly it could have been any special Amazonian weapon/artifact and it would have made the same, unimpactful difference. The heroic saves weren’t any better. As it included some pretty bad acting especially from the mall robbers. The movie should have skipped or cut out sections from these scenes.

Continuing on with the acting, it was pretty mixed. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was still good. As too was Chris Pine coming back as Steve Trevor. So the heroes were good, but the villains were a different story. Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord was fine and he certainly did bring some entertainment factor. Because of that there should have been just one antagonist, as opposed to two. Kristen Wiig as Cheetah did alright. Her initial goofy and nerdy personality got old and annoying real fast. Her transformation into a more dominant and fearsome persona wasn’t anything special. Or original in that it took cues from “Batman Returns.” In the long run I didn’t really care for the character. To which I think the movie itself had the same feeling as the character just outright vanished with no mention after the climax. Her goofiness in the scenes discovering her newfound powers didn’t offer a chuckle in the slightest. In fact, a lot of the humor didn’t land. Whether it was from scenes with Cheetah or Steve Trevor being fascinated with the 80s.

In terms of the scope, the sequel looked and felt bigger than its predecessor. I think it boiled down to some really good cinematography and nice, colorful visuals. When the world was falling apart with the abundance of wishes, the movie showcased impressive panning and wide shots, to really capture the magnitude and severity of the situation. Riots broke out, people panicking, looting, nukes flying, it all around madness. The movie brought the feelings of 2020 as a whole in those scenes. Though the bigness didn’t leave much of an impact sadly. A majority of the film felt flat due to the slow pacing, long runtime, and uninteresting dialogue. Situations more or less happened and that was it.

But beyond the chaos, there were other scenes of interest that looked cool. Lord in the climax being the center while a windy vortex encircled him and a scene where Wonder Woman began to fly for the first time. On a visual standpoint, the latter was the one that stood out to me the most. I believe it was the case because it reminded me of “Superman (78).” Colors were sparkling and popping. There was almost a majestic or mythical feel, which made sense considering the background behind the character of Wonder Woman. Unfortunately if one were to look at the context when it related to the film as a whole, it made no sense whatsover. The rest of the visuals sometimes looked awkward. The best example was Wonder Woman running straight at the camera in the chase scene in Egypt. There was a film grain used in some scenes. But for the most part it was pointless as a lot of scenes didn’t have that filter.

Narratively speaking, there were a number of unexplained things or plot holes littered throughout. As I mentioned earlier, after the climax Cheetah, even after reverting back to her human form, was never mentioned again. The unexplained connection between the bank robbers and Lord? Lord finding out about the crystal entirely? Wonder Woman being able to fly so suddenly and not using it for the rest of the DCEU? Cheetah, figuring out Diana’s identity so suddenly? Granted it could be refreshing but it didn’t feel natural in the slightest. Wonder Woman getting weaker? From what I could gather, the crystal was stripping her powers and transferring it to Cheetah. To which I say why does this need to happen? Can’t the crystal duplicate the powers without making Wonder Woman vulnerable. In the climax, how is Lord granting all the wishes with no physical contact as seen prior throughout the film? How is Wonder Woman able to talk to the world with Lord and her lasso as a transmitter? How is Lord not bleeding excessively from the hundreds of wishes? What happened to the crystal after all the wishes were renounced? Why does Steve Trevor need to take over another man’s body to come back?

There were so many plot holes and unexplained things that disrupted the plot. It was also why those things kind of, in some way, ruin some continuity with the rest of the DCEU.

The mid-credits scene featured a cameo from Lynda Carter, which was extremely bitter sweet. Emphasis on bitter because her cameo in this movie truly hurt.

A disappointing sequel and one of the worst, if not the worst of the DCEU films. A few performances were good, some visuals were beautiful, and the cinematography at times was nicely done. A longer runtime doesn’t always make a film feel or look grandiose. It can also lead to a project that can feel dull, flat, and uninteresting by the end. A major misstep and I’m curious of what Wonder Woman 3 will be like. Hopefully, a positive overhaul is enforced.

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