Tag Archives: Ben Affleck

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice **1/2

IMDB Synopsis: Fearing the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the man of steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat, Doomsday, is created by Lex Luthor. It’s up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences along with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.

“Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice” has finally arrived. Seems like we have been hearing about this movie for decades with the amount of hype and controversy it has come with. So is it any good? That is difficult for me to answer. I may need to see it again to really answer that. I can say that there were some things that I really liked as well as some things I really disliked.

What I did like was the performances. The casting of Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot as Batman and Wonder Woman were both met with a seriously unwarranted backlash when they were announced. This movie should at least make some of those bitter folks in to believers. Both performances were excellent.

Henry Cavill returns as Superman and more than proves that he owns the role. This time the main adversary is Lex Luthor played by Jessie Eisenberg. This was another casting choice met with a backlash and now that I have seen the movie I sort of agree that he might of been the wrong choice. His Luthor is sort of cartoon like in his evil schemes. He also has little to no back story which didn’t really help either.

What I disliked was how bloated this movie is. There is so much crammed in that was unnecessary creating a sometimes gruelling 2 hours and 30 minutes. There is too much time spent setting up the inevitable “Justice League” movie and not enough time of Batman and Superman throwing down.

The film is also very heavy with brooding and darkness for its entire running time. There is not much humour or light at all, which was especially difficult to deal with when the first hour and a bit has almost no action at all. I’m not saying that I need this movie to be a roller coaster but we get little to no Batman or Superman doing much of anything until they finally face off. Their battle is the highlight of the movie but is sort of brief.

Feels odd to be complaining about a lack of action in a film directed by Zack Snyder, the director of “300” and “Man Of Steel”. When we do get to the action sequences I was surprised to find them mostly to be edited together at such a chaotic rate that they are almost incomprehensible.

What this movie needs is an editor who can cut out all the fat. Remove all the “Justice League” setup and trim the flick down to 2 hours and it might actually be a better experience. I have heard that there is a 3 hour cut out there that will carry an R rating. Some are excited about the harder rating I am dreading another 30 minutes of brooding drama.

 

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Gone Girl ***1/2

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“Gone Girl” is a truly diabolical thriller. There are plot developments here that were mind blowing. No I have not read the book in case you were laughing at me for being behind the curve. I went in to this knowing nothing of what happens. Director David Fincher and writer Gillian Flynn have crafted a thriller that leaps beyond what is usually possible in this genre and becomes a mediation on dishonesty, unhappiness and a truly corrupted media.

I can’t delve to deeply in to the plot without giving away some major twists. The basic outline starts as a story about a man whose wife mysteriously dissappears and the subsiquent investigation that follows. The first act of the film balances a basic police procedural with a real moral drama. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, the husband in question. Nick is not what you would call a moral person. He is’t truly despicable either which makes his case a bit of a dilemma to the police as well as us the audience. His wife is Amy, played by Rosamund Pike. Did he murder his wife or is there more sinister forces at work here? I cannot say more.

The twists are a complete blindside when they happen. If you have not read the book then you will be truly shocked. What interested me more was the general atmosphere that Fincher and witer Gillian Flynn create. Nick finds himself at the center of a media storm that has pretty much found him guilty. Eventually clues lead the police to find him guilty as well. A lot of the movie challenges our perception of people compared to the media’s perception of of the same people. Not a lot of thrillers incorporate themes like this.

Another factor in this movie is the economy, which has affected the lives of the main characters in some devastating ways. Nick and Amy’s marriage starts out perfect but finds that it starts to fracture when Nick loses his job and they move back to his home town. Amy, being a big city girl struggles with this greatly. A lot of this we learn as the film cuts back and forth between present time and some of the events in this couple’s past.

“Gone Girl” challenged me in many ways. A lot of that is due to director David Fincher, who brings this book to life beautifully. He doesn’t hold back on some of the more difficult elements. Gillian Flynn who wrote the sreenplay also happens to be the writer of the book. This benefits greatly as i’m sure the author’s vision was not compromised during the transition from page to screen.

The cast here is as strong as they come. Ben Affleck is fearless at playing Dunne as deeply flawed but still a some what good person. Rosamund Pike is unforgettable in ways that I cannot discribe without spoilers.

Tyler Perry plays Tanner Bolt, a high powered attorney who goes to work for Nick. It is nice to see Perry in a role that can show off his real talent playing characters who are focused and intelligent. Neil Patrick Harris shows up in a creepy role as a former lover of Amy. Harris is starting to find roles lately that play to his strengths as an actor. He was funny in “A Million Ways To Die In The West” and here he is completely opposite as an odd and disturbing millionaire.

“Gone Girl” contains a lot of intelligence which is uncommon in modern thrillers. It could simply have been dumbed down in to a cat and mouse game. Action is traded for real drama and suspense. When the violence happens it is sudden and comes from the plot which has real stakes. This is one of the best movies of the year.

To The Wonder ****

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“To The Wonder” is the latest film by Terrence Malick. It comes on the heels of “Tree Of Life” which was released only two years ago. He has two more films lined up for the next two years as well. He directed a total of four films between 1973 and 2011. Why is he suddenly working so much? Only Malick can answer that.

His films cannot be reviewed in the traditional sense because they really do not have a narrative. His films exist as a series of moments. Each one is a piece of each the different character’s existence. Every scene is almost like a dream. They don’t so much seem connected together by editors by painfully put together like the flow of life. Each action and emotion spreads to the next. Every memory haunts future events.

There is one shot in this movie that will stay with me for a very long time. Two of the characters find themselves surrounded by Buffalo. As far as I could tell, no special effects were used in the scene. The characters just look in awe as they are surrounded by these majestic beasts.

“To The Wonder” stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko. Each gives a tender and heartbreaking performance. Each is given a piece of a life to display.

This review has seemed sporadic and emotional but it is only because my thoughts on any Malick film really only make sense in my head. His films take me to places that no other modern films do. “To The Wonder” fully engrossed me in it’s story of love and loss. Need I say more?

Argo ****

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“Argo” is one of those thrillers that has you glued to the screen from start to finish. Every moment feels authentic and real. The story is preposterous yet based on real life events.

When Iranian militants take over a United States embassy in Tehran, six Americans flee and find refuge with the Canadian ambassador in his home. A CIA agent named Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck, devises a plan to create a fake movie production in order to sneak the American’s out of the city disguised as the films crew.

Some of the best scenes take place in Hollywood when Mendez recruits a movie producer named Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and make up artist John Chambers (John Goodman). Together they pick a script, a science fiction film called “Argo” that requires an exotic location to shoot. They form a production company and take out ads in Variety to legitimize the film.

Then comes the second half of the film when Affleck enters the city and must escort them out. Easier said than done. This is when the movie becomes a more standard spy thriller but the intensity is created out of character and performances as opposed to generic chases and shoot outs.

“Argo” is a terrific entertainment. One of the most mesmerizing films I have seen this year. It is amazing to think how far Ben Affleck has come as a director. His first two films were strong but “Argo” shows him becoming a master of his craft. His performance in this movie is equally as good. Who could of seen this coming?

Reindeer Games **

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I remember the build up to this movie. It was John Frankenheimer’s next directorial effort after “Ronin” which was an awesome flick. It starred Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise who were all hot at the time. What a let down it was. Who would of thought a heist film involving a group of guys dressed as Santa Clause could be so bad.

Now I was not expecting this to be a masterpiece but I certainly was not expecting painfully dull dialogue, boring characters and action scenes that were simply unappealing.

This would be John Frankenheimer’s last film as he past away in 2002. It by no means tarnished his record though. He was a master filmmaker who gave us many classics to enjoy.