Battleborn

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Gearbox and 2K have teamed up yet again create an animated action fest that is filled with colorful characters, humor, and plenty of action.  If you thought it was a new entry into the popular Borderlands you would be mistaken although at first glance some might take the similar use of brilliantly cell shaded graphics to be part of the series.  That however is where the majority of the similarities end as Battleborn is one of the most frantic and enjoyable action games to come along in a while.  I first played the game at E3 last year and was instantly impressed with what I had just played.  Subsequent games at PAX Prime and in the early access portion of the game only increased my enjoyment and anticipation for the final product.

The game involves an evil force that has been destroying all the stars in the universe.  A team of misfits who specialize in all types of combat known as the “Battleborn” take up the call to save the universe.  Accompanying them is a ship captain, and unstable scientist, and is even more unstable A.I, unit who pop up during the campaign with all sorts of humorous commentary to help propel the story along.

The campaign missions for the game are not linear in that players opting to take part of the five player co-op campaigns select which mission they will undertake and at times waiting for a mission that you have not already played does require a bit of patience or for players to leave the party and try again in the matchmaking screen.

Gameplay is of a first-person perspective but in the unique style that players are free to select from 25 playable characters, many of whom unlock as the campaign mode unfolds.  There are male, female, and alien characters as well as some other more unique individuals for players to select from.  As they go on, players will be able to customize power ups and abilities for players as well as various aspects of their appearance.  In the game action, players will have the opportunity to reach 10 different skill levels and each opportunity a new skill or ability that can be deployed during the game and will regenerate itself on a timer after being used.

The key aspect of the game is the variety of the characters as you can go from a slow-moving but massive chain gun wielding character to a clone soldier, a cybernetic butler, a fiendish imp, and so many more. The characters have everything from close quarter and distanced combat abilities and many have support functions as well.  This is one of the greatest aspects of the game but also for many one of the biggest tricks in that you have to select a player that best suits your style of play but you are not able to fully comprehend what a character is and is not capable of until you try them in action.  Unfortunately once a character is selected, you are required to play them through completion of the mission and do not have the opportunity to change in the middle of a match.  I found out the hard way that a selected character did not have much in the way of offensive abilities and therefore had to spend the majority of my match hanging in the background mopping up and offering support whenever needed.  This is quite a change from my usual approach of going in the thick of the action and cutting down as many of the enemy forces as I could.

The maps are very clever and creative and have all sorts of things ranging from jump ads which control you will cross the locale, to weapon emplacements were using credits earned from collecting energy shards, players can power up traps and defensive weaponry which will help them with the endless waves of enemies they will encounter.

While there only two main species of enemies, there are plenty of variations amongst them but after a few missions you will have felt that you have seen them all.  This is where the clever boss battles come into play and really make the game shine.  Players can revive one another should they fall in battle, and also take advantage of various power ups located throughout the map.  The missions can take a bit of patience because there is nothing more frustrating than enduring wave after wave of enemies 30 min. into a match and failing a mission because a key locale was left unprotected when a player succumbed to a swarm of enemies while the rest of the team was off defending against a multi-pronged attack.

The developers have promised more characters would be included in future updates and there is also DLC coming that will add new options for players to enjoy.

The game also boasts several multiplayer modes where players can take a break from the campaign and enjoy numerous matches that are more in line with what players might come to expect from a multiplayer experience.  There certainly will not be any shortage of options for players as some players will up to play through the campaign with as many different characters as possible, and others like myself will stick to a tried-and-true character and occasionally dabble with one of the others.

The game looks and sounds fantastic and the action as I mentioned is fun, intense, and frequent.  I hope that we see plenty of additional Battleborn titles and content in the future as I continue to enjoy the game with its quirky and enjoyable characters and enjoyable premise and gameplay.  This is definitely been one of the more enjoyable gaming experiences for me this year and I definitely think it is a game not be missed for fans of this genre.

4.5 stars out of 5

The Nice Guys

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by Ian M. Woodington

This is how it’s supposed to be done. Though it’s not the most original flick to grace the silver screen, Shane Black’s follow-up to his instant cult classic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has everything you could want in an action/comedy romp. A solid dynamic between its two charming yet flawed leads, a strong plot that has enough twists and turns to keep you thrilled but not lost, and plenty of quotably razor-sharp dialogue. Imagine the Lethal Weapon type meets a less obtuse Inherent Vice. Besides the return of Jason Bourne in July, it will undoubtedly be the most entertaining thing you’ll see in another summer season of mediocrity. Is anybody really that interested in a ninth X-Men film?

Russell Crowe is the muscle-for-hire opposite Ryan Gosling as the P.I. referred to by his daughter as “the worst detective in the world”. They are thrust together by circumstance and, after a couple of amusing altercations, come to find out they are both involved in a larger case of conspiracy and cover-up as they race to find the girl at the center of it all. Crowe and Gosling make a winning team with chemistry in spades and, though the dialogue they’re given may not feel as fresh as what Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. had to work with in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; they still pull it off marvelously. Between Gosling’s unfortunate directorial debut, Lost River, and Crowe’s string of misfires since 2010’s Robin Hood, these were the type of roles their fading stars were in dire need of and they both certainly look at home in a 70’s-era Hollywood detective story. For Gosling especially, this is probably the most likable he’s ever been. Well done also to the casting department for finding Angourie Rice. As Gosling’s daughter, she’s does an admirably fine job of playing a girl who can stand up to an incredibly hostile world and give some back. Here’s hoping she’s got a decent agent that will keep her in rich, multi-dimensional characters.

Shane Black, already having proved that he knows his way around a screenplay or two,  is firmly coming into his own as a director (though the Christmas thing has got to stop), and I’ll be eagerly anticipating his next foray behind the camera. It’s also another excellent job from Warner’s marketing team, with a trailer that gave just enough of the one-liners and snippets of action without spoiling too many of the fun and twisty plot points. The action beats and moments of violence themselves, due to a tightly-structured script, feel earned and well-placed. Not once did I get that overwhelming feeling of action fatigue I’ve been experiencing so much in film lately (I’m looking at you, Marvel). The Nice Guys is all-around great filmmaking and one I can’t wait to revisit. I wouldn’t doubt it’ll be a day-one buy for me when it hits the home video market.

 

4 ½ out of 5

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The summer 2016 movie season has launched in a big way with Marvel Studios offering up the eagerly awaited “Captain America” Civil War” which once again stars Chris Evans and the title character.

The film is set in the aftermath of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” where the governments of the world have grown fearful of the devastation that can be unleashed by their super-powered protectors and their enemies and devises a plan of action.

A law is introduced that requires heroes to register and be held accountable to governing bodies which for the most part would also control their activities.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is still reeling from his part in the Ultron threat and the usually smug and cocky Iron Man is all in favor of the new legislation proposal.

Captain America/Steve Rogers on the other hand remembers the evils of making various groups register and answer to the government during World War II and he is very opposed to this new development.

As if this was not enough for the heroes to deal with, a villain named Crossbones (Frank Grillo) is causing trouble and then there is the matter of The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), which is like adding gasoline on a raging fire.

The Winter Soldier is blamed for a horrific tragedy and the forces of the world are poised to bring him to a final justice no matter the cost.

Rogers believes that his former friend can be saved and as such is willing to take great risks to do so. Stark and his supporters believe that The Winter Soldier is a threat that must be stopped at all costs. This combined with the already growing tensions over the new legislation divides the former allies and puts friends and allies at odds with one another.

The resulting backlash is a battle that threatens to destabilize those sworn to protect society and makes the world an even more dangerous and volatile place especially with an ever darker threat looming in the shadows.

The film does a great job mixing in intense action sequences that are visual effect spectacles, yet never losing the fact that is story powered by real characters with real issues.

The characters may be super powered, but they are dealing with real issues ranging from trust, loyalty, betrayal, and accountability in an ever changing world that seems to be caught in the crossfire of their heroic deeds.

The large ensemble cast works very well with one another and this is the key to making a film like this work. This is not simply pitting characters against one another in a conflict; this is a well-developed story that sets up future films very well but uses compelling and interesting characters with some timely humor to carry the film.

There are plenty of surprise moments in the film and Directors Anthony and Joe Russo proved that their last Captain America outing was no fluke, as they have delivered an action-packed and gripping film with some very mature content and themes set against some dazzling and intense action sequences which have become a trademark of the Marvel Film Franchise.

4.5 stars out of 5.

Ratchet And Clank

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Based on the popular video game series for the Playstation systems, “Ratchet and Clank” has arrived looking to take the duo’s success to the big screen in a new animated adventure. The film follows the diabolical Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti), who has a nefarious scheme that leaves planets destroyed in his wake. The government decides to hire an additional Ranger for protection which leads lowly mechanic Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor), to see his chance for greatness. Sadly the head of the Rangers; an ego-maniac named Captain Qwark (Jim Ward), dismisses the physically unimpressive Ratchet and thus crushes his dreams.

Fate steps in when a defective robot named Clank (David Kaye) arrives with news that will shake the very fabric of the galaxy. Ratchet and Clank team up to help the Rangers and must overcome all obstacles on all sides to save the day. The animation of the film is solid and it was a bit of a surprise that the film was not presented to us in 3D which has become the norm for animated film. The solid voice cast does a good job and there are more than a few nice celebrity voices along the way. The biggest issue I had with the film was that it was a bit dull and dragged in places. Our screener was loaded with children and families and I saw some leave the cinema during the film and did not return.

The movies takes a while to get going and there are more than a few nods to the game and other Playstation characters along the way. The biggest issue is that it seems as if the film is dedicated to hardcore fans of the series. I have played the last three games in the series and I found myself lost at times as it was clear that this was for those who have been there from the start. This is not to say that new fans will not be gained by the film, but one has to wonder how many children who are not familiar with the characters will have the patience to wait for things to get rolling in the film.

As it stands the film is a good first effort but may or may not be enough to successfully launch a long term franchise.

3 stars out of 5.

Keanu

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by Don Guillory

When Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele announced that they would be ending their program Key and Peele, I was saddened. Their lively antics, comedic sensibilities, and ability to it on political and social issues in a way that allows them to make America reflect were what their fan base love about them. We saw original, sketch comedy that was actually funny and insightful as missing in today’s environment. As part of their “retirement,” they informed their fans that this was not the end of Key and Peele, just that they were going to entertain other projects.

It was a stroke of genius. They left when all of us were wanting more… and they deliver with their current film Keanu. This buddy action comedy picks right up where they left off with their show. It is a film with a very basic plot where two friends get way in over their heads. The jokes are not cheap and offer us a chance to laugh at the things that make us uncomfortable. The two men, and Keanu the cat give us a film reminiscent of the Wilder and Pryor films.

The jokes and situations will have you laughing throughout the film. In addition, the film and storyline poke fun at stereotypes, generalizations, and tropes in order to make us laugh even more. What many of us thought could be nothing more than random sketches strewn together for cheap laughs turned out to be a well-orchestrated first step into a journey of comedic genius. Comedy fans will love this film. Those looking for a serious turn or a film that involves seamless plotlines, you are going to be disappointed, but only in that aspect.

4.5/5

 

Second Review by James Buckles.

 

The thing I loved about “John Wick” was it was all about getting revenge for a evil act.

In their new film “Keanu”, Key and Peele took it one step beyond and fans of their comedy will love their first full length film.

When the two friends end up way over their heads and complicate things by trying to make things better, the jokes become funnier and more outrageous with each turn.

The comedy team took jabs at several action movies and created a new film centered around a kitten named aptly Keanu.

The jokes fly fast and frequent and viewers who find themselves laughing too hard may end up missing the next hysterical set of jokes to follow.

The duo took what was a sketch concept but were able to keep it fun, fresh, and lively for the length of the film, which is something that many sketch comics struggle to do.

Key and Peele have shown that they are a rising force in comedy and deliver smart, timely, and very effective humor time and again.  “Keanu” is a very nice surprise in that it is the rare comedy that is funny throughout and one that will leave you smiling.

4 stars out of 5.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

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Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?”

Once again the story that has captivated millions throughout the world returns to the big screen with a prequel and sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. At the end of the first film, the evil mirror-obsessed queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is defeated by Snow White (Kirsten Stewart) and Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth).  The second film begins with the revelation that Ravenna has a sister named Freya (Emily Blunt), who was completely normal until she made the mistake of falling in love and getting pregnant, which endangered the sinister plans of Ravenna. Under unknown circumstances Freya loses the love of her life and her baby, causing so much pain and suffering , she becomes the sad and lonely Snow Queen , leaving her sister to conquer kingdoms on her own .

The Huntsman is related to Ravenna, not only because of Snow White, but because he and his wife Sara (Jessica Chastain) were raised and trained in the kingdom ruled by Snow Queen Freya who, as a survivor of unthinkable heartbreak, has one big rule all her “children” must obey: Do not love. Ever.

Long story short, Freya’s reign threatens Snow White’s kingdom and it’s up to Eric, Sara, and their companions to stop her. And although her role is smaller here than in the original film, Queen Ravenna returns to both aid and manipulate her youngster sister Freya.

There might not be Seven Dwarves this time around, but the four this sequel does include are hilarious and offer some of the cleverest comebacks I have heard in a long time. Nick Frost’s Nion is the only dwarf from the original to return, and he’s joined by his brother Gryff (Rob Brydon) and two females, Mrs. Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roache).

I can say that I really liked this film, and as a Charlize Theron fan I most enjoy her work especially as an evil, selfish witch obsessed with eternal beauty. And of course having Chris Hemsworth in the screen is always a delight for our eyes. The special effects are not distracting at all; they’re actually the complete opposite. The quality is outstanding which makes it easier to be transported to a magical world filled with fairies and enchantments.

Although I have to say it is not as family-friendly as the fairy tale inspired film, it is definitely funny, including a lot of action and fight scenes with a story line that entertains the audience.

3.5 of 5

 

Second Review By Sasha Glenn

Based on characters from the fairy tale “Snow White,” the film “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” tells the story of the sorceress Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and her sister Freya (Emily Blunt). The film is sort of a sequel to the 2012 “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

It starts out strong, with the first scene showing some of Ravenna’s wicked magic when she kills her King and rises to power. Driven by her hypnotic relationship with the mirror, Ravenna betrays her sister Freya and unleashes a new evil on the land.

Freya creates her own kingdom of ice and builds an army made up of children she forces to grow into soldiers.

At first it seems like the film is going to be epic. But rather suddenly, the directorial decisions take a turn for the worst. It becomes disappointingly cheesy and glaringly shallow in plot.

When the child soldiers are training and suddenly change into adults, the way the scene is shot comes off as laughable. There on out, it is far from impressive and feels like a made-for-TV film.

Granted, it is an enjoyable adventure to watch. It has plenty of funny moments, a lovely cast, and some beautiful graphics. But, even the graphics sink to subpar levels. Particularly in one scene with demonic ape-like creatures that look like they are from a film made in the 90’s.

With a solid story to build from and such a quality cast, it’s as if director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan went into his tool shed and purposely dulled every knife he had. Even Theron’s performance, which was sadly sparse, was nothing special. Perhaps this was simply because the film failed overall at rising to what it could have been by staying tame enough for children.

A cute attempt at making an epic film, I give “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Criminal

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by Don Guillory

The brain is a very complex organ. There is so much about it that we do not know and have yet to unlock. It controls our organs, movements, both voluntary and involuntary, and holds our thoughts and memories. It contains the makeup of our personalities and who we are. The complexity knows no bounds.

This aspect is tackled with Criminal, starring Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones. Costner plays Jericho, a criminal psychopath, who has had the memories of a dead CIA agent implanted into his brain. The CIA needs to make use of these memories in order to find a hacker who has been able to hijack the military force of the United States.

The problem they discover is that they begin to reshape Jericho’s personality. The two minds start to combine and make him a more complete person with the capacity for love and a conscience. The film itself is reminiscent of Face Off and the Bourne franchise in its action scenes, plot lines, and manifestation. The action is good enough to distract you from some of the gaping plot holes that exist throughout the film which may leave some audience members frustrated upon their reflections on the film. Criminal makes for a good action thriller, but there aren’t the twists and turns or surprises that one might expect.

3.5/5

Second Review by Jeniffer Gomez

CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) dies while traveling to a secret location to meet a hacker Jan “The Dutchman” Stroop (Michael Pitt), as part of an agreement to get him $10 million and a new identity in exchange for a wormhole program that could cause untold death and destruction in the wrong hands. Pope is ambushed by the minions of Xavier Heimbahl (Jordi Molla), a crazed Spanish businessman-turned-anarchist who has already vowed to bring bloody revolution to the world. Desperate to find the hacker and the money, CIA bureau chief Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) turn to an experimental neurosurgeon Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) who can transfer memories from one brain to another. For reasons the film really ought to explain in more detail, Franks insists that the only reasonable candidate in whose brain to entrust such classified information is a hillbilly named Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner), a violent and dangerous imprisoned sociopath whose childhood injury to the frontal lobes left him incapable of feeling any kind of emotion or empathy but conveniently left him the perfect lab rat for the experiment.

But when the post-op Jericho fails to immediately remember anything actionable, Wells loses patience and orders him killed. But he manages a violent scape, now gifted with Pope’s skills and knowledge. However the operation also seems to be allowing him to feel emotions for the first time in his life.

Informed by Dr. Franks that he will only be able to tap into Pope’s memories and emotions for another three days or so, Jericho decides to try to figure out where The Dutchman is and protect Pope’s wife and kid, while at the same time eluding both the CIA and Heimbahl’s army of largely moronic minions.

I know what are you thinking, it is 2016 and we still have ridiculous plots like this one, but hey I don’t have a problem with ridiculous, I actually enjoy a good popcorn movie on a Friday night but I also have to say this film could’ve been shorter and I couldn’t help but feel that elements from a variety of other films like “Bourne”, “Lucy”, “Man on fire” and of course most of Ryan Reynolds movies; when he is the subject of an experimental procedure; were applied into this film. The film struggles to generate much tension and keep the audience interested, but has a lot of action scenes with plenty of blood splashing everywhere that will be perfect for a graphic novel.

“Criminal” has an incredibly strong cast, and Costner has done an excellent job playing psychopaths in the past, and I have to admit he is hilarious in this movie. I enjoyed his character the most.

Opening on the same weekend as The Jungle Book, I truly believe the box office will be a disappointment for Summit, but in the following weeks might slightly recover. If you are expecting a great plot and great performances from thezw well-known stars you might be disappointed, But if you have 2 hours of spare time and don’t have really big expectations and want to just enjoy some nachos, this is the film to choose.

2.5 of 5.

Barbershop: The Next Cut

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By Don Guillory

I had reservations about the new Barbershop when I discovered that it was in production and set for release. My concern was that much like the Friday franchise, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth due to stale jokes, recycled plots, and characters I couldn’t get too invested in. I was wrong in my outlook for the film. Barbershop: The Next Cut surpasses the previous films of the series in its humor, fresh jokes, new characters and social relevance.

There are some aspects of the film that mirror past plotlines, but that is not a problem or concern this go-around. Life and history are cyclical and it is demonstrated through the way that Barbershop takes on urban violence and the communities that suffer through it. The film itself will have audiences laughing and gasping for air due to the imaginative and creative comedy, however, it will also cause its audiences to think deeply about the issues being presented. When we see the violence of the Southside of Chicago via the news or social media, it seems so distant. This film sucks us in to thinking about the circumstances the people of this community face daily. It doesn’t pull punches or present the information from one singular source and perspective. They are concerned with creating a dialogue about what is taking place in communities much like the one represented in their neighborhood. You see heart. You see connections between people. You see individuals that want to make a change by improving the lives of their neighbors and friends. You see humanity with all of its flaws and potential. This film is a poignant love letter to communities in need of healing.

It is also an examination of how to heal and mend gaping wounds. Barbershop: The Next Cut establishes a connection with its audience to start a dialogue and potentially move forward with action.

4/5

Hardcore Henry

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by Ryan Guerra

Hardcore Henry is unlike anything we’ve ever seen on film before. Its fast, action packed, gratuitous and downright fun. The story is simple. The avatar character Aken wakes up and doesn’t quite know what is going on.

He sees a friendly face (Haley Bennett) and everything seems to be fine. Until unexpectedly all hell breaks loose. Now he is on a constant fast paced run for his life from one point to anther being led by Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) presumably someone who understand what is going on.

The film is shown through us entirely in the first person perspective of Aken. There is no steady cam work which may cause some to become a little nauseated. I am someone who has gotten motion sickness from a lack of steady cam in movies before, however the film has a fisheye lenses style which breaks the “realism” view just enough to cause the constant first person motion to become tolerable and less nauseating. I did not get sick at all and neither did two other friends who watched the film as well. So if that is your concern, give the film a chance as it may not be as bad as you think.

In the end, Hardcore Henry isn’t something for everyone. I would not recommend this to my mom. And I would not equate this to a first person shooter videogame like most others are. If you were to compare this film to a videogame, it feels more like playing Mirrors Edge than a first person shooter. Still, if you are looking for a fun, action packed, fast paced experience that has better plot points than Batman vs Superman, then give Hardcore Henry a shot. You have never experienced something quite like this before.

4 out of 5 stars

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice

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When I first heard that Warner Bros. was planning a series of films based on the classic DC Comics characters akin to what Marvel has successfully done, I was intrigued with the possibilities. With the release of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, we get the first look into that universe and I have to say it is one that has more than a few stumbles.

The film follows Superman (Henry Cavill), as he deals with a plot that is set to discredit him and make the people of the world fearful of him and his abilities.
One person affected by this is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who has seen firsthand the devastation that Superman is capable of after seeing the city practically destroyed in the events that culminated in “Superman: Man of Steel”.

Wayne has devised a plan for his alter-ego Batman to put a stop to Superman before he can become an even greater threat to the public and despite the urgings of his butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), Batman continues with his plan.

As if this was not enough for Superman to contend with, neurotic tech giant Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), has decided to manipulate events into a larger and even more dangerous game as he has set his sights clearly on Superman but would also love to see Batman removed in the process.

One would think that with a premise such as this it would be a non-stop action fest that would thrill fans from start to finish. Sadly this is not the case. The first hour and change of the film plods along with little action and we get a cast, some of whom I believe are badly miscast, plodding along and blandly brooding. The characters are so unlikeable that I found myself not caring for them or their fates and was shocked how a film with so much potential and a reported $250 million budget could be so under-whelming.

The final part of the film is non-stop action but Director Zack Snyder allows his film to become awash in all the Hollywood action film stereotypes. I thought I was watching an over-the-top special effects reel as all of the action unfolded, it was very hard to get overly thrilled about it despite the skill that went into crafting it.

Affleck does a passable job in the role and hopefully as he has more outings he will grow on me, but I just never really embraced him in the part. His Batman acts out of character in many sequences as he jumps to an extreme conclusion without taking the steps in between. Eisenberg is so neurotic and annoying that you just want to slap him. He is so difficult to watch.  The biggest issue I have is with Cavill. He is just so bland and uninteresting to me as Superman. Yes, I know it is unfair to compare him to Christopher Reeves, but even Brandon Routh did a more acceptable portrayal of Superman. He just is not very interesting to watch in the role, with his monotone delivery and lack of facial expressions. I want heroes that I can get behind and care about, not one-dimensional characters that do little to generate my interest and sympathy.

The most telling thing for me was for an audience that was so keyed up at the start of the film, they were pretty silent for most of it, save for when a certain character appeared and even at the end of the film, offered only a small round of applause.

The film did try to be epic in scale and it is clear that this is just the opening round of a much larger series, but for now, I could not help but feel disappointed with the result and I would be shocked if the next offerings from Marvel are not considerably better than this film.

3 stars out of 5

 

 

Second Review By Chris Daniels

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice makes the nerd-heart go pitter-patter, but the critic in me shudders a bit.

Zack Snyder directs Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as they dawn cape and cowl in the universe created for Man of Steel.

To begin, we are treated to a movie tie-in throwback to Man of Steel, followed by yet another retelling of the origins of Bruce Wayne’s motivations: the death of his parents.  At first, I felt weary of seeing this tale once more. As a Batman fan, I’ve experienced it many times.  However, as the movie unfolded, they tied the goings-on of the film to Batman’s origin in a unique way; I had to grant respect where it was due.

Bruce is distraught after seeing the devastation caused by Superman’s “saving” of our planet.   Over the course of a year and a half, his anger builds, and becomes punctuated by an event in the desert during which many innocent civilians are killed by Superman’s involvement.

Batman is not without his own demons; the world still struggles to decide whether he’s a hero or villain.  20 years have passed since he began fighting crime. He now sees Superman as the world’s greatest threat.

Cavill does a great job portraying a conflicted Superman.  Affleck matches his performance, creating an excellent Bruce Wayne / Batman.  Any doubts from internet naysayers can be laid to rest; Ben delivers with what the director made available.

There were a number plot holes, completely unnecessary and confusion scenes, and Jesse Eisenberg does his usual quirky routine. His interpretation evolved into a more Joker-esque madness than the cold calculation traditionally found in Lex Luthor. If you’ve seen Jesse Eisenberg in another film, then you have seen his Lex Luthor. This was a wrong cast.

Wonder Woman’s appearance would have been better left a secret, rather than put into the trailers.  Her involvement was so scant, that the reveal would have been a better aha moment.

The acting is good, but script didn’t allow for enough chemistry to bring out the true passion of the characters, save a couple of distinct moments.  The writing didn’t pander to comic and cartoon fans. Snyder created a good film, but not a great one. It’s gritty and realistic, and the type of film fans want to see as live-action, but the aforementioned pock marks besmirched what should have been, one of the greatest films of this decade. It had the ability, but didn’t deliver on its promises.

It was interesting that Snyder felt compelled to ask the audience not to post spoilers on the internet.  It saddens me that people need to be told these things, but given the plot twists and outcomes, I can see why the film’s creators were concerned about their work of art being spoiled.

It’s 2.5 hours long, so come prepared; empty your bladder beforehand.

If you’re a fan of DC, comics, or nerd-properties in general, go see it, but don’t expect the film-of-our-time to knock your socks off.

3.5 out of 5 Stars