Justice League

Justice League (Zack Snyder, 2017) 3/5

DC has an issue with hype versus reality. The hype surrounding this film was that it Justice_League_film_posterwould finally bring some fresh life to the franchise and ignite some enthusiasm with the help of some extra superheroes. The issue though, is that it all seems a tad undernourished. Think of this film as a Rubik’s Cube, at points it is all in sync, while at others it all seems to be flapping in the wind. Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman team together to defeat Steppenwolf, who thousands of years ago attempted to destroy Earth with the help of his army of Parademons and three Mother Boxes. However, he was defeated and, guess what, is back and is not a happy camper. Round two for Steppenwolf.

As a premise this is actually quite an exciting set up, however the actual story from that doesn’t really develop. Instead there is a lot, and I mean a lot, of time introducing the whole team. In turn, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are given airtime and to have their piece of backstory highlighted. This plodded along a bit and slowed the pace considerably. What DC should have done was to hold fire on this film until we had the first film of each of these guys released. That way, we would have known all about them before they teamed up. As such, for a good hour (the film only runs for 120 mins in total) there seems to be a lot of filler that could have been done in a post-credit sequence. As such, what you have is a rushed experience in the second half that tries to tie everything up in a neat bow.

What is actually quite good here is the interaction between the team and the more light-hearted tone. There is good banter between everyone and this makes for enjoyable viewing (please take note for Suicide Squad 2, for the love of god!). As well as this, the fight sequences are well orchestrated, and the special effects is top notch. However, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Steppenwolf looks so unreal in this that it was slightly laughable and made you wonder if this was a glimpse into the new console game that they are developing. He was played by a really talented actor in Ciaran Hinds, but you wouldn’t of know it under all of that gloop.

Gal Gadot and Ezra Miller are the shining lights here as they offer much needed charisma to the overall bleak picture and give the team some uplift as opposed to the brooding testosterone of Ben Affleck, Jason Mamoa and Henry Cavill’s Superman (yes, he’s back!).

In sum, the Justice League is a nice addition to the DC canon, however it could have been a great one. There has been some missteps here, but it wasn’t a bad adventure to begin with. I guess the main problem – apart from Wonder Woman – is, will fans keep holding their breath for an excellent film for too much longer?

Gone Girl

Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014) 4/5

David Fincher has had a quite a varied career. Crossing different genres, narratives and Gone Girlbringing out a catalogue of performances from his actors. However, what mostly unites them is a sense of impending violence. From Alien 3, Zodiac, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Panic Room their protagonists are subject to and are the wielders of violent acts. Gone Girl is nothing different and with adapting Gillian Flynn’s bestseller in his own distinct style it is even more pertinent. Following Nick Dunne, a man who has seemingly the perfect marriage to Amy, quickly unravels when it is revealed that she has gone missing. Twists aplenty ensue and the films aims of dismantling the effects of the media on marriage and how we perceive one another is expertly done with shocking effect.

Everything about the film is made to look slick and sophisticated. Regular Fincher collaborator Jeff Cronenweth creates an eerie world of small town America, whilst also making the interiors increasingly claustrophobic. This is backed up by the music and the editing created by Kirk Baxter, Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross respectively. Indeed all three of these make the film even more remarkable as at a fairly lengthy running time of 149 minutes, the pace is remarkably quick.

The performances are also excellent, with especial attention needing to be paid to Rosamund Pike, who is finally given the chance to shine in a leading role. She carries the film and brings to life an extremely complicated character, reminiscent of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. Ben Affleck is also great as the confused husband, whilst Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens and Carrie Coon all bring their respective goods to the party.

In sum, if you enjoy twisty thrillers with complicated characters and shocking acts of violence then this will be right up your street. Think less Fight Club, but more numbed violence that befits a director like Fincher and his varied career.

Argo

Argo (Ben Affleck, 2012) 4/5

Everybody likes a comeback story. Argo has much to say about its real life story as much argoabout its director Ben Affleck. Since winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting in 1998, his career has taken many twists and turns. However after convincing directing turns with Gone Baby Gone and The Town, he has shown his ability to create thought provoking and compelling stories for a wide audience. Argo is a continuation of this as he has been able to make a film that caters for both a mainstream and art house crowd, which is further evidenced in it garnering 8 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.

The plot? Well, it documents the real life events that occurred during Iranian hostage situation in the 1970’s. Six American embassy employees are forced into hiding in Tehran when the building is overrun by protestors demanding that America extradite the former Shah. The CIA devise a plan to rescue them through a fake film production, entitled Argo. Through this they can get into the capital and get the six out of the capital.

One of the main problems with making a film around an event that was so international is that you are bound to miss out on key information. This film is no exception, as it glosses over the help that both Britain and New Zealand gave to the six people. This is troubling, however not uncommon in Hollywood, as physical reality is always overturned in the name of entertainment. Charlie Wilsons War (2007) is a prime example of this as this comedy starrer directed by Mike Nichols focused far more on the American intervention of the soviet invasion that any other country. However, you have to ask yourself the question whether you want to watch a tight and thrilling narrative, or a fact based documentary?

What makes Argo so good is that everything is so well judged. From the performances, cinematography, sound and editing all of the components fuse together. As such, what Affleck creates is a taut and tense narrative whereby the audience are continually on the edge of their seats. Unlike most political films, this one hasn’t relied on big name stars to carry it; instead there is a keen focus on the technical aspects of the cinema. What makes this even more evident is that you have Affleck both directing and acting in the lead role as Tony Mendez. His performance isn’t overly showy or exaggerated, instead it is calculated and like all the other aspects of the film so pitch perfect.

As the narrative progresses to its climax there is only one thing on your mind, the Academy are about to welcome back the comeback kid to the fold.