Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast - A Disney Nerd's Geekout

Holy crap.

This will be one of only two sentences I will utter throughout Disney's 2017 live action Beauty and the Beast remake.

Like most theater goers you will probably think that this is 2 too many.  Here's the thing though.  Typically I like to analyze, critique, and comment on a movie as its playing out.  Much to the dismay and chagrin of my darling dearest wife.

I know.  I know.  I'm terrible.

But I assure you I do this quietly so as not to upset the other movie goers...only my wife.  And I don't text others while watching the movie.  Or call others on the phone.  Or take selfies while the movie is going on.  Seriously that really happened.  And whats the matter with people not understanding arm rest etiquette!?  And as a father of 3 I understand if you want to bring your young child/infant to the theater.  But if he/she starts wailing can you PLEASE take the baby out!

Fine fine.  I may be attempting to deflect.  And i'm certainly digressing.

This is all to say that this movie had me completely silent and enthralled throughout while I digested this incredible masterpiece of cinematic history.

Some may say that is a stretch.  In fact this film only has a 70% on rotten tomatoes.

However, while i'm an admitted Disney nut, and i'm willing to admit I have an extreme positive bias towards everything Disney, I do not believe that is a fair score.

And i'm not alone.

86% of non critics gave it a positive score so i'm inclined to believe that professional movie critics are so jaded and devoid of joy they simply do not appreciate pure entertainment when it comes their way and instead vie for the pure misery that was Manchester by the Sea, Fences, Hell or High Water, Moonlight and other incredible soul/happiness sucking films that were nominated for an Academy award in 2017.  Seriously.  Nobody actually liked those movies.  And I will not get started on La La Land again.....yet.

I really didn't know what to expect from this film.  I actually didn't love the 1991 original.  I recognized it as a great film, with great visuals and music, but as a child I considered it a girl movie.

And I wasn't exactly wrong.  The original utilized groundbreaking technology for its iconic ballroom scene and received an academy award for both its score and original song.  All of which can be witnessed in this video:

As for being a girl movie.  Well again I was a young boy at the time.  Girls and love were icky.  This is basically a chick flick about a boy and girl falling in love.  Although for some reason that didn't bother me with The Little Mermaid which was my favorite film at that time until Lion King would supplant it.  Meh what did a young Chris know?

The original was created smack dab in the middle of the Disney Renaissance Period where Disney Animation was making a come back after a series of lackluster releases.

And I certainly didn't realize or appreciate the fact that Disney was changing its princesses to become less dependent damsels in distress and more strong female leads.

Now older with 3 daughters I do appreciate it (and have gotten over the icky love factor) and Emma Watson has done a phenomenal job of continuing and even improving on that strong, intelligent, independent female character with Belle.

Watson, as Belle, personifies exactly who I want my daughters to be.  Daring, independent, courageous, intelligent and compassionate.  

There is an amazing quote within the film that I can't seem to find but seems to acknowledge both the casting out of the old view of princesses with the ushering in the new.  It occurred during a scene with Gaston trying to figure out why he liked Belle so much when all the other women of the village were fawning and acting foolish for him and she wasn't.  To which his comedic side kick LeFou replied something to the effect of "because she has dignity?".

I don't plan to wax too much about this film and dissect it for its social/cultural worth.  While aware of a couple of Emma Watson's completely ridiculous non scandals outside of this film, as well as the same sex scene controversy (also an overly inflated non issue) within this film, this blog isn't about that.  This blog will not be attempting to make a political point.  This blog is simply me having a Disney nerd love fest with this movie.  All the controversies simply take away from that.

All this is to say that Emma Watson was phenomenal as Belle.  Not only did she perfectly illustrate a dignified air (as well as the numerous other traits I mentioned), but her singing ability was an unexpected surprise.

Unlike the opposite unexpected surprise in friggin La La land where apparently nobody could sing in a movie billed as a return to the old singing and dancing classic Hollywood films.  I mean really La La land are you kidin----------no Chris.  Settle down Chris.  Nobody wants to hear your 192nd rant on how bad La La Land was.....focus!

Luke Evans did an admirable job of portraying Gaston.  It really isn't his fault.  Gaston, the character, is strong, ruggedly handsome, and exceptionally manly.  Women want him.  Men want to be him.  I love him nearly as much as he loves himself.  This is something that really can only be displayed through the exaggerated cartoony manliness perfected through the Disney animated original.  

At least so I thought until I met the real man himself at Disney in person.  In person you begin to realize that as a specimen he truly is intimidating.

Check out this where he in is foolishly challenged to a push-up contest and then proceeds to charm all the women of his village.  Those poor poor poor broken hearts.  Oh and forget that last clip.  Needn't bother with it.  Clearly cheated.  No man has defeated Gaston at an arm wrestling contest.  Let alone a girl!

And while your meeting with Gaston be sure to take a pit stop at the pub and imbibe in LeFou's brew.  This super delicious, maybe overly sweet, apple marshmallow frozen slushy!  Next up on your Disney World touring plan is....oh wait wrong blog.  Alright back to the movie review....

I did start out concerned that Luke Evans wouldn't live up to Gastons image.  I just wasn't sure I would be awed and inspired by him.  He was certainly slick and quick enough, but without the cartoony nature of the original I wasn't sure his neck would be thick enough nor manly enough.

As the film progressed, however, he increasingly left my concerns behind and by the end I was assured that no on hits like Gaston or matches wits like Gaston.  Furthermore by the time he challenged the Beast he completely nailed the role both in character, dance, as well as in song (probably due to his career start in theater).  Who would have thought.  Hiring actors in a musical that come from a theatrical background?  I've been led to believe by another film that this is actually quite the monumental task....

I'm having a really hard time in trying to find a good picture of Dan Stevens as the Beast.  I think I know why.

Both the CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and live actioned costumed Beast looked kind of terrible.

It was extremely clear to me every time they switched to a CGI beast.  At times it was as jarring as in the early days of mainstream CGI as seen in the 2002 Spiderman film.

The costume version wasn't much better.

Look at those pictures.  His facial expressions are almost non existent and what you can't see is that his movements are incredibly stiff and awkward looking.

Combine that with the nature of the beasts character as gruff and impersonal and i'm left with not much to say about Dan Stevens performance.  Maybe he was acting his butt off underneath all those layers?

Regardless he really comes into his own near the end of the film when he regales the audience with an all new musical number.  It is at this point that you realize that he too has been classically trained and started out in theater which is probably something that a live action musical film ought to be looking for in its cast....

While Belle, The Beast, and Gaston are the main characters of this film, they were surrounded by an amazing cast of characters voiced by very familiar actors.

Do you recognize the actor in the picture above?
I not only didn't recognize him when he took human form but his voice acting didn't give him away either.

What do you mean what do I mean by human form?
Wait you didn't know that he was turned into a candelabra?
Yes I know I didn't explain the plot at the beginning of this movie review.  Its the friggin Beauty and the Beast.  ITS A TALE AS OLD AS TIME!

*Loud Sigh*
Fine.  I suppose I should explain the premise of this film so that this make sense to those of you monsters who have not committed themselves to seeing every Disney Animation movie as I have.

The premise is fairly simple.
There was a prince who was cruel and vain and refused to help a decrepit hag who arrived at his castle.  As punishment the hag placed a curse on him turning him into a beast and his servants living in the castle into various inanimate objects.  The curse would only be lifted if the beast would be able to find someone to fall in love with him.  He was also given a rose and if the last rose petal fell then he and the castles inhabitants would be cursed forever.

Got it?

Where was I....

I fell in love with Ewan McGregor when he performed in 2001's Moulin Rouge.  That movie was all kinds of crazy and he seems to have taken a bit of that craziness and created a super over the top version of Lumiere, the Beasts incredibly upbeat and charming bouteiller (butler).

So crazy that he seemingly combined his Scottish accent with both French and English that resulted in something all together its own.

It was so terrible that I actually thoroughly enjoyed it.  Kind of like Dick Van Dykes terrible accent in Marry Poppins.  In a serious film this would be a detriment.  But in both films in question they add to the magical whimsical and fun spirited nature of the films.

Oh and he can actually sing.
Not only did he receive a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in, the previously mentioned, Moulin Rouge but he also starred in the theatre production of Guys and Dolls for two years.

It's almost as if, for this movie at least, the casting director actually wanted to make sure their cast could actually sing when performing in a musical performance and didn't want to rely solely on Ryan Goslings and Emma Stones good looks.  I mean sure they have good chemistry but the film was supposed to be a throwback to old Hollywood musicals!  Come on!

I I do.

Alright i'm going far too long form in this blog (no I will not edit out all my tangents!) so i'm going to quickly go over a few of the other characters in this film who are really worth mentioning.

Josh Gad did a phenomenal job as Gastons bumbling sidekick.  Even if his role was a bit of a twist off of the original.

The twist being that he is Gay.  Really not a huge difference from the original.

Instead of being a devoted lackey in awe of Gastons awesomeness, as we all should be, he seemed to be in love with him for other reasons as well.

Not a big deal.  I preferred the original take but the difference is so minor that it isn't worth dwelling on.  And despite the typical media over-blowing the coverage of a boycott over the slight changes in this film the vast majority of people didn't mind at all.

Furthermore Gad actually has a background in theater with his breakout role in Book of Mormon (went to New York just to see this amazing play) and it really shines through when he rallies Gastons spirits in song.

Kevin Kline as Maurice (Belles father) has been given a more fleshed out character in this version.  There is more backstory given to his character that takes the unnecessarily dark path that most of the Disney princes parents have.  Seriously does Disney just hate parents?  Why must we all face such gruesome fates?

It's interesting how movies can affect you at different stages of your life.  Maurice has some really touching scenes that  affect me as both a father and husband.  Many feels.  So many feels.

Emma Thompson played Mrs. Potts (the Beast's head housekeeper) and did her best Angela Lansbury impression.  A noble attempt to be sure.  Had Mrs. Lansbury's version not existed i'd have said Emma Thompson did a phenomenal job.  But it is hard to live up to the original.  In any case Emma Thompson did as good a job as anybody could have and i've just realized that i'm really not giving her performance justice.  Angela Lansbury was great.  Emma Thompson was very good.

Now I typically wouldn't keep rattling off all the characters in a film review.  But this film had so many top level actors.

Some of which were completely under utilized such as Stanley Tucci as a piano,  Ian McKellen as a clock (i'm getting very lazy with my descriptions of characters now).  Then there is Audra McDonald, who played the wardrobe.  She is another actor in this film who actually has a theater background and in addition tours as an actual opera singer.

Seriously was La La Land in production at the same time as this film so that Beauty and the Beast simply stole all of the musical talent?

While I would have loved to have seen more of these characters the film already had a run time of 2 hours and 19 minutes so I suppose the movie was long enough as is.

Wow was it really that long.  The time absolutely flew by while watching this film.  I was constantly entertained and amazed with each scene and musical performance getting better and better both with the musical scores as well as the incredible set design.

Actually I should comment on the set.
The Beast's castle is a character all of its own.
Each room is massive with each room more intricate then the next.

I've been to the Beasts castle in Disney World and was blown away by the detail that the imagineers put into sculpting their version of the castle.  To this day it is one of the hardest to come by dining reservations on property and its beauty is no doubt the reason why.

After watching this film however, I couldn't help wishing that they had used the set of this film so that I could explore this massive castle.  It was completely gorgeous.

This is one of the very rare times that I would advocate and recommend the use of 3d.  Overlook the couple of completely unnecessary tacky 3D gags they threw in and experience this films beautiful set design with 3D.

I'm not going to spoil it by posting too many photos because they really should be viewed first hand.

In fact photos really wouldn't do most of the scenes justice.  The Be Our Guest scene in particular was stunning.  Your synapses were just getting overloaded by the visual stimulation.  Man it was great.

So too were the costumes.  Belle not only had her iconic yellow dress but many others that I would love to buy for my girls.

Here's a photo of Belle that most people have already probably seen.  But notice also the ballroom in the background.  Just gorgeous.

And check out this, not as good as the film version, duet that showcases the ballroom.

Some final thoughts.

The original Beauty and the Beast had tons of plot holes and downright problems with the storyline.  Most notable is Belle's extreme form of Stockholm syndrome.

This 2017 version attempts to fix some of these problems and does provide a reasonable explanation as to why Belle would fall in love with her captor.  Much of this is with extended backstory of its characters.

However there is still alot in this films writing that you could pick apart.

But this would go against the spirit of this film.

The reason this film is so much better than all off the 2017 academy award films is not because of it's writing.  It's because this film was fun.

Let's look at some of the 2017 Academy Award best picture nominees.

  • Manchester by the Sea:  We fallow a man who has to live his life after his actions led to his children dying in a fire.
  • Fences: We see an admitably great performance out of Denzel Washington where we watch him struggle as a working class father in the 1950s and take much of his aggression out on his son.
  • Moonlight:  The story of a young black man growing up in a rough neighbourhood in Miami.  If this wasn't enough struggle they threw in him also struggling with his homosexuality.
  • Arrival:  At least this one wasn't depressing but man was the pacing slow, plodding and dare I say boring.
  • Hacksaw Ridge: An apparently realistic view of the horrors of ww2 through the eyes of a pacifist.
  • Hell or High Water: We witness the dying towns of small town America through the eyes of a bankrobber who just wants to provide a better life for his son.
  • Hidden Figures:  Ok actually this one was actually fun.  Good film.  I'd actually recomend this one.  Sure it chronicles the struggles of African Women during a time that both their race and gender wasn't treated well at all.  But it somehow examines it in an upbeat way and hey at least its got a happy ending.

And then you have La La Land.  A return to old Hollywood Musicals.  I've been consistently trashing this film throughout this blog and in life to anyone who will listen (which is no one.  Even my wife only pretends to listen to my inane rantings).  I really don't believe i'm being overly harsh on La La Land.  They really did not dance or sing very well.  The songs, and really the movie on a whole, was very forgettable.

I work in a long term care facility.  I usually have the TV on the Turner Classic Movie channel where they play all of those old films from the 50s.  The residents love all the song and dance numbers and i've grown to like them as well.

I can see why Hollywood looks fondly back on those films.  They were alot of fun.

La La Land wasn't that fun and was kind of a bore.

Beauty and the Beast.  If I had to step outside of my super never disparaging of Disney geekdom i'd have to be honest and say that the dancing was very poor.  The singing was decent to good with some obvious help from a synthesizer.  But most importantly it was alot of fun.

La La Land isn't the return of old Hollywood with a modern twist.  Beauty and the Beast is.

There are many purposes of a film.  One would be to peek inside the life or time of an individual to maybe get a better understanding of that life.  Movies like Moonlight does this masterfully.  It may not be a pleasant experience but that's kind of the point.  Its to get a glimpse of a life, and a better perspective, that you may not have ever thought of.  As much as I have lamented this years Academy Awards I fully recognize these films have a very important role.

Likewise you can nit pick various aspects of the writing, and critique some of the over the top performances of Beauty and the Beast but you would be missing the point.  The point of Beauty and the Beast is not for its writing or masterful storytelling.  Some movies are simply to provide you with an experience.

What Beauty and the Beast provides is hard to describe but is very similar to the reason i'm obsessed with Disney World.  In fact throughout the film I couldn't help comparing it to the experiences that I did have there.  Disney World, through its rides and performances, provides a set of experiences that, with the exception of emotionally devoid individuals, leaves your mouth agape and eyes brimming with tears.  Tears due not only due to the emotional aspects peppered throughout, but also because of the pure child like joy that you experience through the beauty of the film.  So like I said.  Fun.

Beauty and the Beast accomplishes this through its lavish and intricate set design and costumes, over the top performances and musical numbers and emotional charged scenes.
Oh right!  Speaking of emotional characters.

I mentioned that near the beginning of the film I quietly whispered holy crap to my wife during a pretty joyful over the top musical performance.  That was one of only two things I whispered to her.

"Oh what the hell?"

That was the 2nd.

I know I know.  It's a Disney film.  I speak twice and both times its swear words (I actually cleaned the language up for this blog post)?

But seriously when you watch this film you will understand.

There is a particularly gripping and emotionally charged scene at the end that I do not want to spoil.  But man oh man was it a doozy.

So much love.  So much heartache and so much joy.

This movie was a cinematic experience that everyone should experience.  Well.  At least anyone who is a parent, child, Disney nerd or simply wants to experience childlike joy again.  Having you  experience that awe and wonderment that you used to experience as a child is what Disney does best.  Both through its theme parks and through its films.

Beauty and the Beast excels in this tradition.

Where I once used to ridicule cinema goers for clapping at the end of this film.  I found myself wondering why we weren't erupting in tremendous applause at the end of each musical number as one would at the end of an act in a theater production.

Bravo Disney Bravo!

When I first saw this film I loved it so much I predicted it would make a billion dollars.  Well it's taken me a while to finish this blog an it appears as though a billion isn't giving it enough credit.  The first weekend it earned 170 million in north America alone.  By the 2nd weekend it has reached 700 million worldwide.

This film is already on track to being one of the highest grossing films of all time.

And in this humble reviewers opinion its well deserved and I hope this leads to many more films of this caliber to come.


This blog is done.  But as a special surprise I happened across some never before seen behind the scenes footage dress rehearsals of the film.

Now without even having to go to the theater you can experience the elegance, the marvel, the masterpiece that is BEAUTY AND THE BEAST!!!!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Batman V Superman

Hear that soundtrack music I have playing in the background?

Has a sort of intense dark foreboding feel to it that can't help but make you feel like something really important is on the line.  Combine that with an equally dark set design, compelling dialogue, a riveting story line and some of the best character development I've ever seen and you have a  masterpiece.

No i'm not talking about Batman V Superman!  I'm of course referring to one of the best movies of all time.  Christopher Nolans The Dark Knight.  A movie you can't help finding yourself comparing Batman V Superman to because you can tell that they were inspired and influenced by Nolans cinematic Gem.

It is an utmost travesty that Nolans name flashed onscreen in the opening credits to Batman V Superman as executive producer, as this films director, Zack Snyder, appeared to gut everything good from The Dark Knight and left us with this garbage heap of a mess in return.

Now before I get into this movies faults, of which there are many, I feel it is important to preface this with what I won't be critical of.

This is a superhero movie.  Super hero movies aren't exactly supposed to have the most believable stories.  In fact I believe this to be an intentional design to give comic book nerds an avenue to argue about meaningless nothingness like I do with politics and others do with sports teams.

For example a movie that pins a, for all intents and purposes, immortal superhero (Superman) vs a superhero that has no discernible powers (Batman) is laughable on its own.  But I've no doubt that there has been a many an argument that has ensued that Batman can beat Superman and how Clark Kents eye-wear absolutely constitutes a valid disguise.

No I won't be arguing about these types of complaints.  Comic book movies are supposed to be silly and I have no qualms over that.  I do however have many complaints over nearly every other aspect of this movie and I will get to them.

But first.

I, like many others i'm sure, am certainly getting comic book movie fatigue.

As such I did not go into this movie with very high expectations.  I thought the trailer was terrible and a movie released in March is never a good sign especially when originally slated for a July release as in the case of this film.
*Side Note*
Oscar nominated films are released just before the awards season before Christmas and blockbusters are released in summer and during Christmas.  After Christmas is a dumping ground of leftover movies that studios have little faith in and hope that this less competitive time will eek out a small profit instead of a huge loss during the highly competitive summer months 

There is clearly an over saturation of super hero movies and I can't wait for some new original movies to be created  But these movies are money makers and appear to be here to stay.  In fact Batman V Superman did its absolute best to lose money with an over inflated budget of $250 million in production and an additional $150 million in marketing.  But with a record breaking worldwide release of $450 million in just one week it looks like they are here to stay.

So without further ado lets examine this newest example of a film completely bankrupt of any originality.

Lets start with the cast and characters of the film.

After writing the previous sentence i've basicly been staring at my computer screen for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to proceed.


Because this movie was completely devoid of anything remotely resembling character development!

I want to try to give an idea of each of the characters of the film but there is no substance behind any of the characters.

Ben Affleck played batman.  He was neither good nor bad.  There was simply nothing going on here.  He rarely spoke and when he did it really only made the film worse.  This isn't Afflecks fault.  The script gave him nothing to go on.

Henry Cavill played Superman.  See previous paragraph for his characters synopsis.

This film had both Jeremy Irons, and Amy Adams both actors whom I love dearly.  They are brimming with talent and this film did nothing with it!

Adams played a completely helpless Lois Lane who was forever getting herself into trouble and relying on Superman to bale her out.  Have none of the creative minds behind this film seen the recent Disney films where woman are now being portrayed as strong independent woman?  It wouldn't have surprised me if Lois Lane would have tripped and fell into a puddle and succumbed to screaming for superman to save her lest she drown in a 1 inch puddle.

I suppose Gal Gadot as Wonderwoman was supposed to fill the role of the strong female but it was ruined by the one action scene she was in where she was at one point on the ground in her scantily clad uniform with her legs spread wide open.

Now i'm usually the one rolling my eyes at feminists claims of misogyny so if I found this movie a little over the top with the weak women then it has to be pretty bad.

But back to Jeremy Irons.  He was completely wasted as Alfred.  He, like Batman, had very few lines and was barely in the movie.  I'm not really sure what his role was but wish they had saved him to play a villain something that he is really meant for.

And finally we have Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther.  His character actually did have personality but it was misplaced.

Lex Luther is supposed to be a supervillian of the highest intelligence.  Wheras Eisenberg played him as a madman psychopath closer to either the Joker or the Riddler.  Which would make sense in the Batman universe of villains who had been released from an actual insane asylum but Lex Luther is actually from Supermans neck of the woods and is a genius billionaire businessman.

Lets contrast this with Dark Knight shall we?

Christian Bale as possibly the best incarnation of Batman.

Michael Caine as a warm and nurturing overseer of Batman.  You can absolutely feel his love for the troubled hero.

Morgon Freeman as the moral compass for Batman.

Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal (not a useless female), and Aaron Eckhart all playing a sort of white knight morally pure characters attempting to fight evil without Batmans proclivity to fight evil with evil of his own.

And finally Heath Ledger with his Oscar winning performance as the Joker whos dedication to his craft may have led to his ultimate real life demise.

All of these characters had their own look and feel to them where they each contributed something unique to the story.

Batman V Superman had nothing!!!

Again I don't blame the actual actors.  Between Zack Snyder and the script they had absolutely nothing to work with.

Speaking of Zack Snyder.  I don't know why he went so wrong with this film.  He's directed 300, The Watchman and the remake to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead.  All of which are very good films that utilized unique film techniques that crafted a Zack Snyder feel.

However it is as if he wanted to capitalize on those successful techniques by cramming them into every single take of this movie.

For example Zack Snyder is known for his slow motion scenes.  These are very effective when there is something either very important occurring or something beautiful to look at.  Here are examples from his films where this does work.

However in order to utilize this type of slow motion effectively the technique has to be used sparingly.  If you use them in nearly every single scene then it completely loses its impact, importance and relevance.  I swear he used slow motion when characters were walking down the street and ordering a coffee!

This caused the pacing of the film to slow down to an achingly slow crawl.  There was very little that actually happened in this movie (and we'll get to that) and yet it still ended up with a run time of 2 and a half hours.

Now Michael Bay and J J Abrams way overuses their patented lens flare technique.  But while this overuse begins to be a little silly and gratuitous at least it doesn't extend the runtime of their film by at least 30 minutes!

But seriously though, those lens flares are downright comical once you start noticing how often then are used.  Especially since they were considered defects and edited out originally.  It's just like you kids now adays with your camera filters.  Using all of the different settings to make your pictures all old timey looking.  Those are defects people!  I don't want to see your pictures all hazy and slightly yellowed out.  Can we not just use the normal settings to make pictures look as accurate as possible!  Just stop it!  But I digress..

 Another technique that Zack Snyder used that I actually hate in all forms of media and that is dream sequences.  I find they almost add nothing to the film and usually just leave the viewer confused as to what is going on as real dreams typically do.  This film had multiple dream sequences, and considering the plot didn't make much sense to begin with, really just hurt the film.  I think he may even have used a dream within a dream sequence.  Maybe it's just me.  Does anybody like dream sequences?  But hey at least dream sequences are usually in slow motion so it allowed him to slow down the film even more.

A close cousin to dream sequences is the flash back where we get to go back in time to an earlier moment to explain to the viewer how we ended up where we are today.  I'm actually fine with flash backs.  However in this case we flashed back to Batmans origin for the hundredth time.  Do we need to see him as a boy and his parents dying in every single movie he is in.  Does Hollywood really hate his parents so much that they are now the most killed people in cinematic history.  Again.  This movie was 2 hours long.  We all know Batmans origin at this point can we not cut this out and attempt to trim some of this movie to a more respectable length?

And why was this movie so long?  Nothing happened in this movie.  The plot was incredibly thin and what existed made absolutely no sense.  Usually I lead off a movie blog with a brief synopsis of the film.  I actually tried to do that but realized that this movie had nearly no plot.  So lucky for me I don't have to worry about spoiling this film as there is nothing to spoil.  Except for maybe the end.  Which I do plan to spoil because it also bears criticizing.  But don't worry i'll give a heads up before I do that :).

So to begin with.  The title is very misleading.  It's called Batman V Superman.  This should lead you to believe that this movie is about Batman fighting Superman.  When in reality there was maybe 5-10 minutes of them actually duking it out and then they mysteriously and abruptly become best friends.

The film is basically about the world turning against Superman.  Both Lex Luthor and Batman want superman dead because they both view him as a threat.  Lex Luthor views him as a threat to his own super villian aspirations whereas Batman views him as a threat to mankind.

This movie picks up where Superman: Man of Steel left off where Batman witnessed the absolute power that Superman yields.  As a result Batman believes that Superman in his absolute strength could wipe out all of humanity and even if there was just a 1% chance that he would be inclined to do so it was Batmans duty to kill him for the sake of the human race.

This actually does make quite a bit of sense.  Batman is the type of superhero that does bad things in order to prevent even worse things from occuring.  In fact it is this moral flexibility that Batman yields that actually has Superman (in his moral absolutism) attempt to shut Batman down for good.

Let me geek out over this for a moment.  The reason I do not like Superman is that he is arrogant in his near perfect.  It is really easy to be morally pure when nothing can stop you and you have super powers that can turn back time.  Batman as a mere mortal does what he has to do in order to stem the tide of darkness that is always plaguing Gotham.  Sure if he could fly and pick up all those bad guys and drop em off at the precinct he would.  But he hasn't been blessed with your immortality Superman Okay?!  So glad Batman kicked your ass this movie....

Ok that might of been the one thing I liked about this movie but again i'm digressing.

Because the plot has Batman viewing Superman as an existential threat to mankind and seeks to kill him as a result.  Yet just as he has the opportunity to do so he doesn't.  Why?  Because their mother has the same name!  Superman splurts out his mothers name (because he is trying to save her) and Batman get confused because that is his mothers name too.  And his quick and near total rage to kill superman subsides.  Just because they both have a mother named Martha.

Here's the thing.  This should have made Batman more inclined to kill Superman.  Superman would have done whatever it took to save his mother.  Who knows what that could have resulted in.  Maybe the downfall of mankind?  Doesn't this make Superman more of a threat and considering Batman was willing to kill him without any hint of superman's ill intent this part of the movie made no sense.  And incredibly anticlimactic.

Like I said the movie was predicated on the notion that it was Batman V Superman and yet this movie had an hour and a half build up to a 10 minute fight scene that abruptly ended nonsensically.

There is nearly no plot whatsoever and yet the entire tone of the film leeds us to believe that something really important is going on.  From the constant slow motion sequences, the foreboding soundtrack and the entirely too dark set pieces it was as if some great threat was threatening humanity.  But there wasn't really any real danger or threat throughout this whole film.

And let me talk briefly about the dark set design.  It was shot in a very similar way to Dark Knight.  As in there was pretty well no sunlight and every scene seemed to be devoid of any lighting fixtures.  This worked in Dark Knight because there actually was a criminal mastermind (Joker) who was instilling Chaos throughout Gotham and the entire city was in grave danger.  Meanwhile Harvey Dent was the sole morally pure figure in the city and we watched as he struggled to remain pure despite great adversity.  We cared about Gotham, we cared about Harvey Dent.  I did not give a shit about anybody or anything in this soulless piss poor excuse of a film!

Now it may seem unfair that I am comparing this movie to the Dark Knight.  But heres the thing.  If you are going to make 397 Batman films they will of course be compared to one another and Dark Knight is the shining example of perfection.

Also if you are going to make this many comic book films you are going to have to find a way to produce a unique product otherwise they will all be the same and the audience will get bored.

Tim Burtons previous Batman films were great.  It had the standard blend of comedy and darkness to it that defines Burtons works.  They were really fun films.

In contrast Nolan made purely dark serious films that worked in that capacity.

Then you have Marvel doing their own thing which is basically a young teen boys dream which is just pure action and funny films.

All 3 of these approaches have worked in their own way.

Zack Snyder had no real distinct feel to his film and I only found him attempting, and failing, at adopting from other peoples techniques.

For example.  This movie actually picked up a bit (and I mean a little bit) after Batman and Superman made up.  The movies tone switched from a deeply serious film to the characters making self referential jokes that are hallmarks of the Marvel films.

If they had kept this tone throughout the film, sticking with comedy and ditching the needless darkness, it may have been a better movie.  Sure they would have been sell outs by copying Marvel, but at least it would have been an enjoyable film.  Clearly Zack Snyder has no real capacity for his own direction so might as well copy the masters at Marvel who somehow manage to produce 3 or so films a year without having its audience get bored.

And Zack Snyder isn't all bad.  He just really blew it with this movie.  He proven in the past that he can make some really artful and beautiful scenes.  He actually had one very well done scene at the end of the film which I am about to spoil right now.  It's not really a big spoiler but the decision to click that Show button is your call.

At the end of the film Superman sacrifices himself (in another absurdly nonsensical convoluted scene where he really didn't have to) in order to take out Doomsday a near invincible foe created by Lex Luthor. Where Zack Snyder excells is the funeral scene where his slow motion and attention to details really is effective. At least it would have been if we thought for one second that Superman had died. Since we know he didn't this only added an additional 20 minutes to a film that was already unnecessarily long. It actually would have made more sense to add this to the beginning of the next film to avoid treating its audience for fools by attempting to extract sorrow during this scene. .

So that's my review and here's the thing.  I like movies.  Actually I love them.  I have been waiting for a while to have a movie inspire me to write a blog where i'm not ranting and raving.  They just never came.  I've had decent movies but none that has wowed me.  So instead I find a movie that was on the other end of the scale that was just begging to be torn apart.

That being said I love movies so much I can even derive pleasure from this garbage heap.  Especially since I saw it in the theater.

I love the whole movie going experience.  I love the plume of the marijuana cloud you have to navigate through upon entering the theater.

I love seeing a $250 million dollar film on a cheapie $7 tuesday night.

I love bypassing the egregiously expensive food counters while wearing suspiciously baggy clothing that are certainly not stuffed with goods from the dollar store that is conveniently located right next to the theater.

I love the obnoxious teenagers making way too much noise and laughing way too much (might be a correlation with the weed).

I love the battle of the armrest with a random moviegoer at the busier showings and also really love seeing a movie that has been out for quite some time so have the entire theater to myself.

I especially loved the couple next to me in this film that (like me) have the balls to open up caned beverages with that loud pop in the theater announcing our disobedience to all.  But these two took it up a notch and were consuming 40 ounce beers.

See i'm not a crochety, grumpy old man.  I just demand more from my films.  There was no redeeming features in this movie.

However the movie I saw prior to this was 10 Cloverfield lane.  Doesn't really need to be seen in theaters, and I suspect most wont like it.  However it does have a high rating and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Just didn't have enough material to write a blog on :).

So do yourself a favor.  10 Cloverfield has been out a while.  Hit up a dollar store, get yourself a 40, hotbox with those delinquents outside the building and enjoy an empty theater just for you and ditch this film.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

New York Part 6: Day 2 Begins

Central Park, Its' Zoo, And Maybe I Was a Bit Harsh

Today my personal expert New York City tour guide has us starting with exploring Central Park further on the way to the Central Park Zoo.

Central Park (like pretty well the rest of the city) is iconic and once you visit it you will realize how many scenes in movies are shot here and begin annoying those around you while watching such films by incessantly pointing out that you've been there.

It's actually really gorgeous.  It has cliffs, waterfalls, lakes, beautiful huge trees, and lots of green space.

It never quite makes me forget that i'm surrounded by a steal jungle (with the omnipresent, yet dazzling, New York City skyline always in the distance), but it really is quite charming.

The cities energy is certainly flowing through it's park as well.  We actually took a moment to just sit on a bench and people watch for a short while and it was really great.

You'll have your joggers, your dog walkers, your office people out for a stroll, lots of nannies pushing rich peoples kids around, tourists like us and horse drawn carriages going by.  

Meanwhile throughout the rest of the park you'll have people kayaking, picnicking, enjoying a small carnival, or performing for a crowd.

It was really pleasing just walking from one musician to another.

One performer was actually doing a psychic act that Penn had both performed and educated us on the night before.

A little bit more exploring and then off to the Central Park Zoo.
She always has a drink in her hand.  At least this one isn't alcoholic...wait is it?

So here's the thing.  All I knew about the central park zoo was derived from the Dreamworks Madagascar kids film.

Which means that everything I knew about the park was wrong.

Contrary to what the film depicts, there are no lions, zebras, giraffes or hippos.  There were penguins but not a single one of em talked!

I was disappointed, dismayed, and deceived and declared, from that day forward, to never to stray from the safety of Disney films ever again.

Silliness aside.  The zoo actually did a remarkable job with such a small space.  The zoo is very small but they did manage to have an acceptable ammount of animals and experiences.  They also did a great job with themeing and created seemingly lush flora environment, fittingly nestled within central park.

That being said, I really couldn't help thinking about the quality of life, or lack thereof, of the animals.  They really were very small enclosures.

While we did have a nice time in the zoo we actually had to rush through it since my personal tour guide (Amy) had to hurry us to another Broadway show.

Before I get to that I do have to point out a realization I had this day.  I'm not sure if any of you have noticed but I was decidedly critical and downright cranky of alot of my views of the city.

I found it dirty, stinky, noisy, crowded and often refer it to a steel jungle.

Heres the thing though.  I didn't realize I had been experiencing all the symptoms of a migriane the previous day until today.

I get headaches and migraines regularly.  As such I know that certain circumstances are likely to trigger an episode and I knew travelling and experiencing New York would be a definite trigger.  So prior, and during, our visit I made sure to take pain medication pre emptively as it is much easier to stop a migraine from coming on then it is to stop it.

Therefore the day before I wasn't experiencing any pain (due to the pain pills) but I was experiencing all of my other symptoms of migraines.  Such as extreme sensitivity to light, sound, smells or pretty well all sensory input of which a city like New York is on overdrive.

Furthermore I also had tunnel vision which forces my vision to narrow (probable as a means to limit my sensory input) eliminating all perepheral vision and kind of forcing me to look down at the ground instead of experiencing the city as a whole.

So I was absolutely viewing tons of filth in New York.  But thats because I was looking down at the ground for the most part.  I was missing out, for the most part, of the beauty that New York had to offer.

I realized this on the way out of Central Park when, due to no more migraine, I was able to appreciate all of the beauty of architecture around me.  So while Amy handled all the directions and navigating through the city (Truly an excellent personal tour guide) I just started looking up and taking pictures of the buildings.

I also felt immensely comfortable in the big city.  Felt like being back home in Montreal.  Sure Montreal isn't as large but it does have a similar feeling to it.  For example I had jay walking perfected.  Honestly Montrealers have New Yorkers beat on this front.

But overall this day was where my love of New York began to grow and I was really started to appreciate what this city had to offer.

Speaking of which, it's time to get back to Broadway and watch that play.