A collection of media reviews that is ever growing; ever expansive.
Justice League - Film review (19/11/2017)
Many fans of the Superhero genre, whether they wish to or not, will agree that DC's cinematic endeavours have been rather lacklustre. Franchises such as the Man of Steel and The Dark Night have allowed DC's creative minds to ensure that their legacies may live on in the cinematic format, and not just be bound to the pulps of comic strips or the seemingly never-ending animated shows. So surely it must be a win-win to put DC's two most valuable assets into a single film (to co-star alongside the impressive Wonder Woman, Flash, and Cyborg). Well, mixed feelings are plentiful. And I'll begin with the biggest flaw.
Narrative has always been one of DC's largest much-ups. The flow of their films seems to fall victim to jarring jump-cuts and expositional bombs being dropped with quick succession and little to no follow ups. Whether it be a conflict between the producers and directors, or simply just a poor execution from the writing team, we have yet to witness DC and Warner Brothers combine linearity with legitimacy. Justice League again falls prey to this curse. Particular scenes during the "dream team" montages seems to exclude large areas of importance that should have been addressed, especially for audiences who may have missed prior films leading up to The Justice League. I, as a DC fan, had already established these characters and plot lines, however some people would have been left wondering "how on Earth are all these people finding each other", "how do they know what's happening", "and why is the so called Superman dead!?". Even I became lost in the Frankenstein narrative which was stitched together loosely by introducing the characters nonchalantly to say the least.
Which leads me into characters. As a concept, The Justice League is amazing. DC's strongest and most interesting heroes putting aside their personal quarrels with each other and recognising that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. This was hinted on a few times between Batman and Superman, but not as much as it should have. The dynamics of The Justice League are a hotbed of mother issues, deep-sea sorrows, and lighting fast emotions, but what did the film do? Had the entire squad take on the omnipotent Superman... Which may have been entertaining as a short side scene to run alongside the other major conflict *ahem* Steppenwolf *ahem* but the film placed so much emphasis on the -Superman is back. He's mad, he's bad, and boy is he looking for a fight that poor Steppenwolf (who is a legendary villain in DC lore) is more of an after thought. Again, another flaw with character introduction.
My final grievance with the film was the development of the team. We needed to see how this motley crew of heroes can actually do Earth some good... maybe some... justice, but instead it was a smorgasbord of individual characters outshining the other, lesser-established characters in an attempt to generate a sort of nostalgia. Almost like fooling the audience into thinking they were watching "Wonder Woman 2", or another "Dark Night" sequel. But alas, the feeling was not the same.
We must, however, end on a high note, as believe it or not I enjoyed the film. It may not have been what I was hoping for, but that is ultimately my fault. As a blockbuster, it served up its fair share of amazing cinematic set pieces, mainly including scenes from The Flash and Superman. As well as delivering a few well placed quips that even the cheesiest of comic book authors would applaud. DC definitely did not one up Marvel, but who are we to compare. DC has its own style, its own voice, and its own audience - completely separate from Marvel's. The Justice League has so much potential to be good, you just have to look a little deeper for these revelations. A recommendation? Watch "Man of Steel" and "Wonder Woman" prior to watching The Justice League. It will help piece together the rather fragmented film, as well as provide information that answers a few questions. Apart from that, if the film did not entice you from the trailers or promotional footage I would suggest maybe giving this one a miss.
STAR RATING: 3.1/5
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Film Review (15/12/2017)
The cinema darkened, the conversations stifled, anticipation grew... title screen. If there was ever a time to be sat in a cinema, it was then. The atmosphere leading into Star Wars: The Last Jedi was palpable; and in my opinion not to the detriment of the film. Here were some of my major take aways from the film...
The plot. Plot, plot, plot, plot, and plot. Often the largest downside of todays 21st century films due to internal conflicts with directors and producers, to convoluted devices being overworked in an attempt to reach for glory. Gain the attention of critics and push the boundaries of the cinematic landscape. I am just so thankful The Last Jedi did not succumb to this (as many thought it did). The plot was simple and delivered well. No complicated overlaps, no exaggerated conflicts, and no frustrating character arcs. Every plot point served its purpose and was crucial in driving the story forward, which is of the utmost importance in the second film of a trilogy. Many fans of the franchise saw this as an attack on the Star Wars legacy, calling for director Rian Johnson to strike it from the cannon universe. But remove the "Star Wars" precursors and put aside their franchises legacy, and ask yourself "as a film, did this deliver an experience that was enjoyable and engaging?" To me, this answer is yes. The film was no where near a masterpiece, but a damn phenomenal example of how a well thought out plot can develop over time.
And with regards to developing over time, the character growth in this film is some of the finest in the franchise. Looking back on the sequels and prequels in the Star Wars canon, we have yet to see a character branch out of their predetermined destiny. The one case that springs to mind is Anakin Skywalker's shift to the dark side and become the legendary Darth Vader. This is one of the most praised and well received characters in the franchise; Kylo Ren's character shares major similarities in this sense. His characters is unbalanced, and this is one of the main themes the film set out to tackle. An imbalance in the force has been felt. Rey's new found destiny, Kylo's ambivalence to good and bad, Luke's questionings of his own destiny... all of it shown and elaborated on perfectly within the film. But moving away from the Jedi to a much more human character. I was disappointed in the treatment on Captain Phasma in The Last Jedi, especially after so much anticipation was generated in the trailers alluding to an epic conflict between her and her subordinate officer Fin. The scene was over faster than you can say "wasted opportunity" as we see Phasma disappear into an inferno (which we all know is Star Wars language for 'oh, they'll be back').
Which leads me nicely into something that I feel was a shared feeling when leaving the cinema which was "I'm not sure what I'm looking forward to in the final film?" There was so much answered in The Last Jedi, so many lose ends tied, that I fear that the final film may be scarce for any gripping points. Of course, the major conflict between the Rebels and Imperials is yet to be settled, and Rey and Kylo probably have yet to duke it out in one final glorious battle. But apart from that, the film has little to no concluding factor that interests me. The Force Awakens had me foaming at the wallet wanting to see The Last Jedi, however I am sat here now with some serious persuading to be made on my behalf.
Overall, the film was great. In fact it was a step better than great. In fact, it might have been too great at the detriment to the next film. With that in mind I would reccomend this film to you even if you aren't a fan of the franchise. As I said earlier, as a Sci-Fi film it delivers an experience that should definitely be savered on the big screen. Narrative, character, and mise-en-scene are diverse enough to keep even the most wandering eyes fixated on the screen as the conflicts play out in a beautiful harmony before you. It may be a case of serious hand-holding on behalf of the writers, however for a film that is designed to bridge a gap between the first and last film of a trilogy - sometimes that decision must be made.
STAR RATING: 4.4/5