nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “amy adams

Gripes, Likes & Theories: Batman v Superman

Now that the film is in wide release, I can ignore the advance-screening plea from Zack Snyder not to spoil anything. So be warned, SPOILERS FOLLOW.

As I mentioned before, I went into BvS with super low expectations and liked it pretty well. For me it boiled down to something like Thor: Dark World or Avengers: AoU—not bad to watch once or twice but generally lackluster and forgettable. I also didn’t find it as grim and gritty as everyone is complaining. I mean, yeah, it’s dark but no more than roughly half of everything else that’s come out in cinema over the last decade, including the Nolan trilogy that everyone seems to love (I don’t find it holds up as much more than “meh”).

Biggest misses for me:
1) Batman just gave up his fight because Superman’s mom happened to have the same name?! For the love of Martha, that was some seriously weak writing.
2) Superman’s death lacked ‘gravity’—I don’t think anyone in our screening believed for one minute that he would stay dead. Moreover, I don’t think anyone would have bought into it even had we not all experienced the media hoopla that surrounded the event when it happened in the comics back in the early ’90s. It felt so very emotionally empty and not the least bit cliffhanger-y, which I found incredibly disappointing.
2b) Speaking of media hoopla…SO. MANY. CAMEOS. (I know I already mentioned this before, but it really bothered me.)
3) Lex creating Doomsday inside the Kryptonian ship. I thought it was clever that he cut off Zod’s fingerprints to gain access but otherwise hated the entire scene.
3b) Doomsday was like a bad mashup of Hulk, every Spider-Man movie villain and Hunger Games mutts.
4) Teasers for Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg lacked excitement and depth.
5) Amy Adams. Always Amy Adams.
6) Underutilized Wonder Woman.

I’ll reiterate that I’m genuinely excited for the standalone WW movie now. I wish she hadn’t looked so much like part of the Kardashian klan but Gadot played the fight scenes like she could be a legitimately strong warrior. Expectations shattered.

Still, my favorite part of the movie was spotting TK-421 on Lex Luthor’s prison uniform.

ALSO, I have a BvS/Walking Dead fan theory!
Maggie is Bruce Wayne’s mom, which means that TWD clearly happened in the past…and Maggie either cheated on Glenn or lost that baby and had another later with Mr. Wayne. The “metahumans” are clearly an evolutionary result of surviving the zombie apocalypse. Tell me your mind isn’t blown right now.

 

Advertisements

She Lives! (aka Batman v Superman Happened so I’m Blogging)

I’m still here, believe it or not! Since last post, I’ve made a geeky pilgrimage to San Francisco (pics and details coming soon, I promise), seen TFA a few more times—totaled 8 at the theater—and worked like a fool. The working part is more exhausting than awesome but it helps pay for toys, and we all know you can never have too many toys.

After posting some pics of myself as a little Superman-loving lass, I won tickets to last night’s advance screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Side note: If I’m ever tasked with writing something that requires a certain character count, I will be sure to make this film the topic because writing the title alone should satisfy most requirements.

“So how was it?” you ask. Weeeeeelllll…
As someone who loved Man of Steel, I liked it fairly well. There are a couple of really good moments that are balanced by some really cringe-worthy ones, which are all outnumbered by a lot of “just a’ight.”

I’m not in the business of spoilers, and not just because there was a Zack Snyder video plea before the movie started, so I won’t give away any secrets. Except that Batman’s parents die. Oops, surprise!

Okay, one teeny-tiny, not-really spoiler: there’s a fun Star Wars Easter egg. I spotted it straight away and leaned over in the middle of the movie to quote a relevant line. I suspect a lot of fans will pick up on it; comment below if you want a hint.

I digress.

People who have already decided to hate Affleck as Batman won’t be swayed, though I thought he was a suitable host for a character who wasn’t supposed to be altogether likable in this story. His acting wasn’t especially nuanced, though I’m not sure whether that was due to him or the writing. He’s easily as good as, if not better than, either Kilmer or Clooney.

Wonder Woman was not on the list of things I excitedly anticipated for this film, particularly after I learned of Gal Gadot’s casting. I was, to that end, pleasantly surprised! The characterization is far more interesting—and less exploitative—than I expected. I might actually kinda sorta be looking forward to her standalone film now <gasp!>.

Surprisingly, the most eye-rolls of the night came not with Jesse Eisenberg but Amy Adams. Sure, Eisenberg was the same smarmy guy he is in every role (and maybe in real life?), but you saw that one coming from a mile away.
I am decidedly not a fan of Adams’ interpretation of Lois Lane, as you might remember from my reviews of Man of Steel. While she and Henry Cavill demonstrated a bit better chemistry this time around, particularly at the beginning of the film, I can’t help but see her as an annoying hindrance. Maybe that, too, is a consequence of the character more than the actor…it’s not like Margot Kidder wasn’t tiresome…or maybe it would be less frustrating with someone else filling the role. It seems we’ll never know.

To be fair, Adams is unseated by Doomsday as my least favorite character in this movie. That’s not saying much, is it?!

If you loathed the Sears and iHop tie-ins from Man of Steel, be prepared for media personality overload on this one. I understand that Snyder et al. are trying to make us believe that Superman’s universe is one in the same with ours. For me, showing endless cameos of recognizable pundits had the opposite effect, ripping me out of my suspension of disbelief.

Stylistically, this is a pretty slick movie. The fight scenes, in particular, have a more comic-book feel than did Man of Steel; I actually felt like it veered into Amazing Spider-Man territory at times. That’s not a complaint, somehow. There are, however, a lot of flashbacks and dream sequences that tend to feel disjointed. The one thing that tied everything together was Hans Zimmer’s brilliant score with themes from Man of Steel beautifully woven throughout. I’ve grown to appreciate the former as one of the better contemporary theatrical scores and this built on it in intriguing ways. Along with the hopeful and heart-wrenching strains, there was an inescapable undercurrent of tension and conflict. Magnifique!

Overall, this girl feels that Batman v Superman lands squarely in the middle of the pack for modern superhero flicks. It’s generally enjoyable if forgettable, but worth seeing on the big screen if you’re at all inclined to see it.

 

 

 


Man of Steel—Revisited

After a second screening for Man of Steel last night, I wanted to supplement my original review.

This time around, I got to see the film in 3D. While there aren’t any eye-popping effects (it was post-converted, not filmed in 3D), the overall quality did seem significantly better. I’m not sure if I should attribute this more to the format or the venue, as our second viewing was at Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City. In spite of the dine-in theater distractions, Alamo provided a much more immersive experience than AMC’s 2D presentation. If you value a movie with booming sound that is effective rather than just loud—and you’re near one of the few locations—I highly suggest you make Alamo Drafthouse Cinema your theater of choice. Bonus: the modified 3D format also alleviated much of the dreaded lens flare.

The combined presentation and my somewhat dulled expectations made the second viewing an absolute joy!
I stand by my original criticisms but feel this flick deserves a more positive spin than what I offered. It leaves a better aftertaste than the bitterness that I first implied.

I remain disappointed by the opening Krypton scenes, though I wasn’t nearly as perturbed this time around. My biggest complaint is that it just reminds me too much of a Star Wars prequel. And I’m a Star Wars girl, so you’d think that would be a good thing but it really isn’t so much.

I also maintain that the flashbacks are somewhat disjointed, though they aren’t terribly detrimental to the overall pace or storyline. This is due in large part to the strong performances by Costner, Lane and Cavill (and the brilliant young actors who represented his early years). For a film about a man who can fly, this is solidly grounded with a big, big heart. And again, our midwest audience was giddy over the Royals and KU references—that in itself is pretty darn cool and worth the price of admission in these parts. And in case I didn’t mention it before, Henry Cavill is absolutely 100% without-a-doubt perfectly cast.

A second chance for Amy Adams yields no more likability than my first impression, though I found Michael Shannon’s General Zod and Russell Crowe’s Jor-El more compelling. I can also report that after a few days mulling over the Zimmer score, I don’t hate it. Still feels an awful lot like that of Inception, and I would have loved even the slightest nod to the original theme, but it grows on you.

I may have been too quick to pit Man of Steel against the cinema-giants of Marvel. They’re very different animals, really. Though DC and Warner Brothers lost ground over the last twenty or so years with their failed recasting and attempted reboots of both Superman and Batman franchises (and we won’t even discuss Catwoman), they’re fighting their way back into the game. These are particularly timeless characters that need the right stories and the right actors—in many respects, Man of Steel answers the call almost as well as did the Dark Knight saga. Almost.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy the film, but I certainly did. Even more so the second time around, in fact, so I’m already planning to see it at least once more!


Man of Steel

I’m happy to report that I made it to the Man of Steel screening last night along with about 420 other lemmings. I’ll do my best not to ruin anything here, but I read a lot of geeky websites so I’m not sure what qualifies as a spoiler anymore.

The film opens with an excessively lengthy scene on the planet Krypton. First we see Lara-El giving birth to a son as her husband, Jor-El, frets over the future of Krypton. I’m not sure why anyone thinks the birthing process needs to be dramatized and documented on film. Ever. In this case, seeing the natural birth is central to a plot point, but still.

It’s here that we first glimpse Kryptonian technology, specifically a sort of communication device that works by displaying images not unlike the impression from your hand or face in one of those boxes that’s full
of pins (“pin art”). Except in this case, the box of pins looks more like a soot-covered lacrosse head filled with pulsating caviar. We also learn that Kryptonians utilize flying creatures reminiscent of meatier Can-cells from the Star Wars prequels.

After baby Kal-El is born, Jor-El gets into some heated political debates and we’re introduced to General Zod. Jor-El and Lara make haste in getting their baby boy off the god-forsaken planet. But not so fast! Zod isn’t about to let that happen without a struggle. Said struggle ensues then he’s exiled and Kal-El is sent on his merry way.

In an awkward turn, we’re ushered ahead some thirty years where we encounter a young man demonstrating superhuman strength by rescuing workers on an exploding oil rig. Said young man escapes unharmed and moves on to work as a bartender (or maybe a bus boy?) in a lumber town before moving on to an ice field where the government is investigating something buried in the ice.

During our time with this young man, we learn through flashbacks that he is Clark Kent from Smallville, KS. You’re shocked, I know. I’ll wait while you regain composure from this astonishing disclosure. Okay, ready?

The memories of Clark’s formative years are where the film finally finds its footing. Martha and Jon Kent (Lane and Costner, respectively) beautifully demonstrate the burden and range of emotions one might expect from a couple raising a child who’s altogether extraordinary…and not biologically theirs or even from their planet.
You’ve probably seen in the trailers that Clark intervenes in a school bus accident, earning the seeming disapproval of his earthly dad and making Kevin Costner look like a big jerk. Yeah, that happens, but there’s a slew of other factors that tie it all together masterfully. You’re left with a strong sense of both sadness and wonderment. So, so many feels!

Aaaannd then you’re whisked back to the ice fields of the present. Amy Adams shows up as Lois Lane, which is essential to the story but a little yawn-inducing. Don’t get me wrong, I like Adams, but she’s the same plucky girl in every role; Julie & Julia, The Muppets, Leap Year, Enchanted, all the same. Is she an improvement over Margot Kidder or Kate Bosworth? Pshhh. Does Superman wear a red cape?

Also, Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica is in on the military operation looking at computer screens and analyzing data…sounds about right. The guy from Law & Order: SVU is there, too. It’s a veritable who’s who of television folks working for the military/government in this flick.

Anyway, Lois figures out that Clark has special abilities at essentially the same time he discovers why he has them. This seemed like a premature plot development initially but ended up making sense. General Zod resurfaces, bent on destroying Kal-El and Earth, as does Jor-El; I think Russell Crowe must have been contracted for a certain amount of screen time. The remainder is a lot of fast-paced action with relatively little furthering of the story. And not much more that I can say without being one of the spoiler-y types.

Graphics and effects are crisp and engaging, easily better than some other superhero romps, though not overly spectacular. Our screening wasn’t in 3D, but I do think it might lend itself to the format.
I was surprised by the copious amount of J.J. Abrams influence (lens flare) and pleased with the couple of same-universe references I noticed (a nod to Mr. Luthor, among them). Disappointingly, I detected no hint of the original John Williams Superman fanfare woven in for nostalgia’s sake. Just a lot of dissonant power chords that sound like they’re lifted directly from the Inception soundtrack. Thanks for rehashing that, Hans Zimmer.

Overall, this is a good film but not an altogether outstanding one. The flashback technique makes for a somewhat disjointed experience that is quickly forgiven when the focus rests squarely on Clark Kent. His struggle, adjustment and eventual acquiescence are gripping and perfectly played by Henry Cavill. I firmly believe that he is superb and will easily carry this franchise to new heights.

Now having said that, it’s impossible to ignore the massive hurdles that lie ahead. Man of Steel stands head and shoulders above 2006’s Superman Returns, but it isn’t quite the epic that Christopher Nolan fanboys had hoped. I doubt that it will do for Superman what the Dark Knight trilogy did for Batman, though Superman’s track record is better proven over time.
Moreover, the Marvel stronghold shows no signs of weakening, particularly with the next wave of films fast approaching. I’ve never seen so many people stay until the very last of the credits rolled across the screen, all hoping for an Avengers-esque nod to the next film (don’t bother waiting around).

This, I’m afraid, is not the DC Comics franchise savior that it so desperately wants—and blatantly claims—to be. Indeed, the messiah references get a little heavy-handed at times. There’s a church scene where Clark is framed by stained-glass images of Jesus. His age, 33, is mentioned on more than one occasion. He takes the not-so-subtle crucifixion stance when committing himself to the task of protecting earth. Oh, and he rose to greatness from humble beginnings on a farm in Kansas, which hearkens to Jesus’ upbringing in Nazareth (“Can anything good come from there?”).

And speaking of Kansas, producers did a great job of tying in regional references. For instance, Clark sports a Royals t-shirt and watches a KU football game…though a basketball game would have better represented Jayhawk nation. Regardless, as a midwesterner born in the Sunflower State, it made me pretty dang proud. Of course, it was filmed in Illinois but whatever.

In sum, I will not be so bold as to guarantee you will like it but I certainly did.