‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ SPOILER Review

*THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE* If you have not seen the film, what are you waiting for?  If you don’t want to read spoilers, the obvious advice is to not read this review.

Check out our spoiler free review HERE.

First, I would like to say a couple of things right out of the gate.

  1. I love the tone of the film.  I have no problem with the darker direction the DC Universe is heading
  2. I love Batman and Wonder Woman in this film and the entire cast for that matter
  3. I love the fight, all 7 minutes of it
  4. I love the visuals

Things I did not love, which will be the focus of my review (they outweigh any of the aforementioned goodness).

  1. Character motivations make very little sense
  2. Atrocious editing
  3. Convoluted story and plot
  4. Give us more Superman (after two movies, we still have no idea who this character is)
  5. The marketing ruining every surprise

 

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Lets begin…

It’s been almost two weeks since the release of the incredibly divisive Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was unleashed into theaters, and I’ve had some time to come to terms with the fact that, it’s not very good.  Have I lost faith? Sure.  Do I still believe in God?  No.  Am I still excited with the future of the DC Universe and the direction they are taking?  Yes.  Am I worried?  Absolutely.  Having said all of that and despite what I say in this review, there are parts of this film I enjoyed, but am completely dumbfounded by just how messy Dawn of Justice was.  This is an unfortunate truth with all the terrible and great superhero movies the producers and studio could have used as what and what-not to do, especially since the release of Marvel’s 2008 world-building Iron Man.

I’ll start by talking about the elements that I enjoyed.  Batman was awesome.  Sure he was a bit of a jerk, but I’m excited to see more Affleck’s beaten-down older disillusioned Batman.  He was the highlight of the film, along with Wonder Woman and seeing the cast take on their superhero roles in general was exciting.  Dawn of Justice is perfectly cast.  I even enjoyed Jessie Eisenberg’s interpretation of Lex Luthor.  While the superheroes in the film seem to be having no fun, I’m okay with that.  I still had fun and in no way need my superheroes as quippy as their Marvel counterparts.  This leads me into the overall tone of the film.

I love the dark and bleak tone of this film, and likely the tone of the entire extended universe.  Some critics and fans have been complaining about this tone, but I enjoy it.  Maybe I’m a dark, moody, miserable person myself, or maybe I just want to see my superheroes done differently.  I have the Marvel films when I want to watch something more lighthearted, and appreciate the darker nature the DC films seem to be taking.  I’m all good with this.  Say what you want about the direction Zack Snyder is taking this world, the guy knows how to shoot a beautiful film.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is gorgeous to look at.  Break it down, and there are problems.  On a purely visual level, the film is perfect.  The fight choreography is what Batman fans have seen only in the comics, and now can enjoy on the big-screen.  Snyder shot potentially the best Batman sequence to date, when Batman saves MARTHA Kent in the warehouse.  It’s the highlight of the film for me personally.  The fight between our two headliners was brilliant, but lasted 6-7 minutes.  Years of build-up, and an hour-and-a-half built-up in the film lead to a seven minute fight that was over in a disappointing amount of time.  There wasn’t enough time to fully feel the weight of this fight.  Which leads me into the great many problems I had with Dawn of Justice.

The world we live in has a great deal of problems, but for some reason, the problems of Dawn of Justice hurt a bit more.  Maybe not, but I wanted to like this film SO bad having been a lifelong Batman fan and movie fan in general.  We’ve gone through the good (Nolan, Burton, the bad (Schumacher), but I didn’t think we’d get the ugly (Snyder).  I was hoping WB or the creative team, learned from past mistakes.  Even as recently as The Amazing Spiderman 2, which has many of the same problems as Snyder’s new film, I thought would teach everyone a lesson in not cramming in too much, without properly introducing and developing characters.  But, WB and DC didn’t learn from past movie mistakes.

They shoved so much into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, they forgot to explore more of the title heroes.  We still have no idea who Superman is, despite Man of Steel and this supposed sequel.  Unfortunately, WB decided it needed to catch up to Marvel and bring out the big guns right away.  Sounds fun, but the problem is, we still don’t know the characters.  Dawn of Justice is a setup for the upcoming Justice League film, and it feels like it.  We need to be with the characters more for the true weight of what we were “supposed” to feel during this film, but couldn’t, due to lack of screen time for all characters involved.  Which is a shame because this film brought in some of the best story lines form both Batman and Superman, but failed to deliver a cohesive and impactful story.

Instead of focusing on the fight between the heroes, the film brings tons of stories that don’t need be be in THIS film and could have been saved for future entries.  These unnecessary plot points include but are not limited to- the death of Superman, Doomsday, Wonder Woman (although she was awesome), and the amount of screen time Lex Luthor ate up.  After all the hype and build up, fans were given a seven minute fight, albeit a great fight, an hour and a half into the two and a half hour movie.  The filmmakers should have focused on the differences between the heroes ideologies and what motivates them internally.  This would have made their fight so much more impactful, instead of brushing along on the surface to get to the next world-building plot.  The movie moves from one thing to the next, without letting it sink in and impact the audience.  When Superman dies for instance, we feel nothing because it happens so quick, and before we know it, Batman’s building the Justice league.  Let’s focus on our characters instead of jumping from one different plot to the next.

This brings me to the plot, or in this films case, plots.  It’s a mess and it’s as if they picked five of their favorite comic book stories and tried to shove it into one film.  It’s hard to follow, not for us nerds, but your average movie goer.  The plot is extremely convoluted and could have used a good edit to trim some of the unneeded fat.  Much like this review, any elements are not needed as a more concise and focused film could have equally impacted audiences and still gotten them prepared for the future DC Universe films to come.

I could go on, but it pains me to do so, so for now, I’m signing off.  I’ve said nothing in this review that likely hasn’t already been said a million times before on the internet.  I personally needed to write something as I move through the many stages of Loss and grief.  I’m past denial and isolation, on from anger, over bargaining, and have moved on to depression.  My hopes of writing this is to hit the last stage of eventual acceptance as I start to realize a few things.  First, it’s just a movie and secondly, they are not real people.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in theaters nationwide (And despite all the negatives you here about this film, go see it.  Or if you’ve already seen it, which I assume is all of you reading this, go see it again.  Maybe its better than we originally thought- probably not though).

 

The post ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ SPOILER Review appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

A Night with Neil Young Review

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I had the honor of attending a special one night only double feature of Neil Young movies hosted by Fathom Events. I had such a great time. I have always considered myself a huge Neil Young fan. I love his music and the stories he tells in his songs, sometimes with an acoustic guitar and other times to the rhythm of a blistering electric guitar. After going to the double feature I found out there is a lot I didn’t know. Including the fact that he made, starred in and directed an actual movie!

The movie I’m referring to is called Human Highway. It was filmed over many years and finally released in 1982. The movie stars Neil Young as Lionel and Russ Tamblyn as Fred. They play two friends who work as gas-station attendants outside of a diner. They face disaster day to day with the threat from a local nuclear power plant. The movie also stars Dennis Hopper, and members of the band Devo, Charlotte Stewart, and Dean Stockwell, who also helped direct. The movie is a trippy end of the world experience. I recommend this to any Neil Young fan who wants to actually see the visual side of this amazing artist. On a personal note, if you really want to enjoy this film in all its’ glory call your friend, you know, that friend your mom doesn’t like that has those special brownies. Trust me, it will all make sense!

After the movie was over we are sent to a theater where Neil Young is sitting on a stage with acclaimed director Cameron Crowe. The Q & A is being broadcast live to all the theaters taking part in the double feature thanks to Fathom Events. A couple of the cast members from Human Highway are on stage with Young and Crowe. They mainly talk about the filming experience of Human Highway. The band Devo are featured as angry Nuclear Power plant workers in the movie. Devo co-founder Jerry Casale is one of the cast members that appears on stage during the Q & A and he explains it best when asked about the filming of the movie. “ The plan today is no plan.” Young also talked about almost completing his next album which will be a sophomore album with the band Promise of the Real.

After the Q & A was done the second feature Rust Never Sleeps began and this movie, as fan, is certainly one in which I was more familiar. The movie features Neil Young and the band Crazy Horse in a great glossy looking concert. The concert was filmed at San Francisco’s Cow Palace on October 22, 1978. The concert runs one hour and forty three minutes and documents Neil and Crazy horse in their prime. I really liked the little creepy looking guys that looked like they were dressed up as droids, and appear between songs. The concert opens with Young playing many of his early classics on acoustic guitar. He is then joined on stage by Crazy Horse, and they rock the house. I was really happy as a fan to be able to be a part of this. I learned things I never knew about a man I greatly appreciate.

Human Highway and Rust Never Sleeps are both going released on DVD this coming April, and are definitely worth checking out. You can pre-order both these movies on NeilYoung.com and Amazon.com.

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The Revenant Is Chock Full Of Raw Emotion And Intensity

the-revenant-DF-05287R_rgbPhoto credit: Kimberly French /Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

(PCM) There is already strong buzz that The Revenant will be a strong contender as we head into awards season, as it has already been nominated for four Golden Globe awards including Best Drama and a well-deserved Best Actor nod for star Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, did an absolutely brilliant job of showcasing the raw emotion and intensity that main character Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) must endure to survive the horrific ordeal splayed out before him in the film.

The film is based off the true story of Hugh Glass and set in an 1820’s American West. Glass was a trapper who, after his hunting party is viciously attacked by Native Americans, takes off with a group of survivors in search of a remote military outpost. During the search, Glass is savagely attacked by a bear and left fighting for his life, which is one of the most intense and brutal scenes in the film. He is discovered by the other members of his hunting party who make an attempt to rescue him, however they need to leave him behind when nature conditions become too intense to continue.

Three men, including Glass’s son Hawk, agree to stay behind the group for a few days to care for Glass, who they feel is very near death at this point. One of the other men that agree to stay behind is John Fitzgerald played by actor Tom Hardy, who villainously has his own agenda when it comes to ensuring Glass’s safety and ultimately commits the ultimate act of betrayal. Glass, however is blessed with the will to live and guided by the spirit of his dead wife, a Pawnee Indian woman whose life was taken in a raid by white men, who reminds him to never stop breathing.

Director Iñárritu has a way of being able to showcase the art of beauty in both chaos and death and did so with great finesse throughout the course of this film. From a strictly visual standpoint the film is stunning, showcasing the epic filming locations in both the Canadian Rockies and the Argentinian wilderness. While it may be beautiful to behold, nature becomes yet another grueling obstacle that Glass must overcome during his quest for both survival and revenge and becomes a very cruel and unforgiving character in this film.

Iñárritu made sure that viewers were able to truly feel at one with Glass and we felt as if we were truly suffering right alongside him as he made his journey across the icy rivers and snowy mountains facing as seemingly unending number of horrors along the way. Due in large part to the terrific performance from DiCaprio many of these scenes were able to play out with very little dialogue forcing the viewer even further into Glass’s intense internal struggle and the many often gruesome lengths he was forced to go in order to survive.

The moments on-screen between Glass and Fitzgerald are gripping and Hardy deserves his own nod for taking on this incredibly heartless and self-serving character, a type we have seen him portray in several other films, and breathe in new life for this particular villain. Their final confrontation is fantastic and bloody spectacle and the balance between these two characters is spot-on.

Overall, The Revenant is an incredibly visceral and gut-wrenching experience not only for the characters, but for the audience as well and we are left to form our own conclusions when all is said and done.

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‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Review (Spoiler-Free!)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film that should have been doomed to fail. Having the nearly impossible task of living up to the gargantuian expectations set on it by the fans, as well as the legacy of the original trilogy, the film should by all rights should fall flat on it’s feet. Luckily, Star Wars: The Force Awakens  has the confidence to surpass these problems, but garner a whole set of new ones. The film holds it’s weight with the original trilogy, and by most standards is very good. Some may say that it’s even as good as A New Hope (it’s not, but ill get to that later). Put simply, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film that is pretty damn good, but suffers from several fundamental flaws that hold it back from from being truly great.

Star Wars The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens has a lot going for it. Besides the top notch technical aspects to this film, the use of anything practical whenever possible, and a heavy dose of nostalgia, Director J.J. Abrams has been able to re-capture the magic of the original films. By bringing a diverse ensemble of new characters, along with a return from the holy trinity from the original films (Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer) along to support them, Abrams finds a nice balance between new and old. For what each actor is given, the performances are top notch. From the returning members of the original cast to all of the newcomers, everyone seems to be relishing the opportunity they’ve been given. None more so than Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. While I won’t delve into spoilers, I will say that Driver has created a villain that is wholly three-dimensional. Flawed, quiet, and broken, Kylo Ren proves to be more nuanced than we’ve seen before from any characters in the past.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The greatest thing about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the feeling that it gives you when you watch it. It reminds you why you fell in love with the series to begin with. It restores the sense of fun to these movies that the prequels sorely missed. But most importantly, it reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place– to be transported from our mundane lives, into a special world of the unknown. J.J Abrams has always been good at achieving this. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams has successfully brought us something new, while at the same time presenting a story that feels wholly familiar. Unfortunately, by focusing on the things that made the original film so endearing, Abrams has inadvertently kept himself from making something better than the very thing he’s trying to live up to.

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This is perhaps my biggest problem with the film, the fact that it wants to be too much like A New Hope, and not enough like The Force Awakens. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t offer new elements to the universe, it does plenty of that, actually. The problem is that the story almost feels like a beat-for-beat remake of A New Hope. Seriously though, when you see the film, think about it. Almost all of the major beats are nearly identical, although details between those major events have been altered. There are plenty of references to the original film throughout The Force Awakens, but this sense of heavy nostalgia that Abrams brings to the table begins to overshadow the telling of the story towards the second half of the film.

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It’s funny, because I don’t quite know what this movie would be like without Abrams’ involvement. He’s always been the type of filmmaker that ends up holding himself back, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens is no exception to this. Don’t get me wrong – I think that The Force Awakens is is a great return to form, but it is by no means better than the original film. A few years down the line, the hype will have worn down, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens will largely be remembered as the film that opened the floodgates to a larger universe. A film that sacrifices it’s own interest at crucial points to create something larger. A film that believes it will be worth the sacrifice now, to create something unforgettable down the line. But in the grand scheme of things, is that so bad?.

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Film Review: Ted 2

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(PCM) I went and saw the movie Ted 2 and I don’t want to say that it was better than the original, but yeah it was definitely funnier than the original, at least I thought so anyway. Don’t get me wrong Ted was an awesome movie. But being able to follow this character into a sequel was definitely a treat.

Ted 2 follows up where the original movie from 2012 left off. Only a couple years later. Ted and his wife Tami-Lynn want to have a baby but have many hurdles to go through. Because of Tami-Lynn’s past she is unable to have kids which leads the couple to try and adopt. But the state has a problem they deem Ted as property and not a person. Which sets up the whole movie’s plot and the exploits that follow.

Mark Wahlberg is back as Ted’s best friend John and does an awesome job. Mark Wahlberg is a hell of an actor and is yet again a perfect fit for the character of John. John is recently divorced from his wife. Who was played by Mila Kunis in the first movie, but her absence is only missed for a little while in the movie. The very beautiful and talented Amanda Seyfried plays a stoner hippie lawyer who helps Ted and John on their travels. She does an amazing job filling in the role of the woman that is missing out of John’s life.

This movie definitely  had a bigger budget than the first one. The opening dance number was awesome and shows Seth MacFarlane’s love of show tunes. (MacFarlane is the voice of the raunchy Ted just so you know.) A lot of the original cast is back for the sequel including Giovanni Ribisi who plays Donny. And of course Donny tries to kidnap Ted again. Jessica Barth plays Ted’s now wife Tami-Lynn and does a great job. She defiantly can play a better wife than Michelle Rodriguez did in Furious Seven. Sam Jones is back and funny and coked up as ever. My favorite scene in the movie involves him trying to talk the duo into doing a line with him and they look over and comedy gold happens on-screen. Patrick Warburton is back as Guy and is hilarious. Morgan Freeman plays a lawyer and is just Morgan Freeman. Enough said. Liam Neeson makes a funny cameo as well.

If you liked the first movie. You will love the second. Seth MacFarlane is a true comedic genius!

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5 Things You Should Know Before Seeing Avengers 2

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Over the past decade we have watched Marvel adapt their comicbooks for the big screen. A few years ago we finally got to see the Marvel Studios shared universe come to fruition, leading up to the 2012 release of The Avengers, one of the largest critical and financial pay-offs in cinema history. So obviously there is alot of anticipation surrounding the release of the upcoming sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. Here are 5 Things you should know before seeing Avengers 2 from our friends at AgeOfTheNerd.com!

1. This movie is a cumulation of multiple plot threads, laid out in the many MCU installments. Unlike the first Avengers film, this movie definitely assumes the audience is up to date on the lore of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Although each installment in Phase 2 succeeds as a stand alone film, they also add to the shared universe and continue to expand on the over arching storyline that this is all inevitably leading up to. I’m not saying that every open-ended plot point will progress or even be adressed, but would like to remind the audience that this film is more of a continuation of Phase 2 than it is a direct sequel to The Avengers. Similar to the first time around, its fair to expect writer/director Joss Whedon to make mention of the of key story arcs and characters, along with quick ways to write them out of the film.

2. ‘Agents of Shield’ is irrelevant. I’m sure plenty of sites will sit down and point out all the tv show tie-ins and easter eggs, but at the end of the day that show is pretty much irrelavant when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In my opinion 2 seasons attempting to generate a fan following, and coming up short is a pretty big failure. I find it kind of insane because anything live-action for Marvel sells itself at this point, yet ‘Agents of Shield’ just can’t seem to grab the viewers attention. Despite gaining some critical steam over the past season, the show still doesn’t pull in strong numbers. Maybe its because the show is poorly promoted and they have yet really sell me on the idea that it ties in the to the larger shared universe. This show is supposed to provide me with my weekly fill of the Marvel universe. Not even the fan favorite Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) can draw me in and except for the ocassional theatrical tie-in episodes, which are still often lack luster and few and far between, there is nothing compelling about the show. Overall I would have to say ‘Agents of Shield’ fails to properly utilize the Marvel brand.

3. This is not the same Quicksilver as depicted in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
In this film Quicksilver is portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, not Evan Peters. There are obviosuly similarities between the two, but there are also some major differences. Some of these differences are related to the studio rights, which prevents Marvel Studios from reffering to any character as a mutant or using any of their mutant backstories. This leaves Whedon and company in charge of creating a fresh origin for the character, along with a unique film technique to showcase the characters’ powers (X-Men really set the bar for Quicksilver if you ask me). In the end we can debate over which version is better following release, but just know this is 2 different intrepretations of the character performed by 2 different actors.

4. If you can’t sit down and watch them all, here are ‘The 3 Marvel movies you should see before Avengers 2.’
As I previously mentioned this film definitely makes the assumption that the viewer is fairly up to date on the overall shared universe. You don’t half to watch all 10 of the previous MCU installments to be in the know but there are definetely a few you should check out before hitting the theater. Here is what I consider to be the three most important films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date.

  • Lets start off with Marvels first installment in their shared universe, Iron Man. This is one of the most relevant standalone films in the MCU, at least as far as the pre-Avengers movies go. Tony Stark is not only one of the main characters of the Avengers, but is also the center point for many key plot threads throughout the film. Eleven movies deep and the actions of Tony Stark are still rippling through the MCU and effecting the universe in unpredictable ways. If you dont have the time to sit down and watch the entire Iron Man franchise, make sure to at least check out the first installment.
  • After Iron Man was firmly established Marvel moved on and used Phase 1 to begin development on the rest of their shared universe, introducing the other key characters, mainly through stand alone origin films. Despite the fact that I enjoy these films and could make a compelling argument on why each one is a necessary viewing experience, the truth is that if your not interested or your pressed for time you can skip ahead to our next main title, The Avengers. Like I previously mentioned Avengers: Age of Ultron is not really a direct sequel but it is still a sequel nonetheless. This is cause enough to go back and revisit the teams’ first outing before heading to the box office. The Avengers was the first time we finally got to see all the key players on screen together and kicking @ss. This film was also the worlds first real look at this shared universe fleshed out and really coming together. And lets not forget to mention you need to see the first installment so you can join the inevitable “which was better” debate that has really already begun.
  • Excluding Iron Man 3, I pretty much like every movie in the Marvel phase 2 line-up. We got follow-up sequels to all of our main characters, plus the addition of The Guardians of the Galaxy. We can quibble over the best phase 2 installment all day, but I have to say Captain America 2 has the most impact on the shared universe, at least for the immediate future (GOTG arguably has larger long-term implications). Although every installment in phase 2 has tie-ins to the larger story arc and shared universe, its Captain America: The Winter Soldier that really feels like a follow-up to the Avengers, and a lead-in for the sequel.

5. Avengers: Age of Ultron is not the final installment of Marvel Phase 2. Just 2 months after the events of Avengers 2, we will finally get to see Marvel’s tiniest hero on the big screen in Ant-Man. The first Avengers film ended the Marvel’s phase 1 initiative and returned to the big screen with a group of sequels designed to further develop the characters and lay the ground work for the future of the shared universe. This time around, we will be introduced to a new character in the final chapter of Phase 2. Weather this is due to the fact that Ant-Man is an essential aspect of Phase 2, or they just decided this would be the best time to introduce a new character, is not yet clear and honestly I feel it could go either way. It seems to me if they just planned on introducing us to a new character in a fresh solo film, Edgar Wright would still be attached to the project. At the same time there really isn’t much to suggest that Ant-Man will tie-in to The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Honestly only time will tell (Thank god we don’t have that long to wait!).

Avengers: Age of Ultron will be hitting theaters in the U.S. on May 1st, 2015. Let us know what you think about the return of Earth’s Mightiest in the comments below!

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