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?

Planes

Planes (Klay Hall, 2013) 3/5

It’s no surprise that Disney wanted to extend the life of a franchise that has the potential toplanes1 sell more bedspreads, cuddly toys and no doubt the opening a new theme park ride. Set in the world of ‘Cars’ it needs to be stressed this is not a Pixar movie but a film produced by Disney Toon Studios. Originally scheduled for a direct to video release, the powers that be at Disney decided to give it a chance on the big stage with a wide release domestically and internationally. And why not? With a budget of just $50 million, they stood a much better chance of recouping their losses through this method than through video sales.

As one colourful character states in the movie, ‘this is an inspiring underdog story’ and it is just that.  We follow Dusty Crophopper, a – you’ve guessed it – crop duster who spends his days drenching fields with lovely fertiliser. Along with his friends Skipper, Dottie and Chug he lives a quiet life in his hometown, however his aspirations are far greater as he wishes to fly in the ‘Wings Across the World Race’. As the drama unfolds, romances surface, international locales are sourced and foreigners stereotyped the entire narrative is wrapped up in a nice bow.

Upon hearing of this film, my expectations continually got lowered. It wasn’t going to be Pixar, lowered. It was originally going to be on video, lowered some more. It didn’t have a blockbuster cast, lowered even further. As such, upon viewing, the entire film washed over me in a decidedly forgettable but charming manner. The animation is actually pretty good and all of the cast gel really well together and provide 92 minutes worth of light entertainment for all of the kids as well as the more kindred spirited adults.

One of the important things to consider is that this film was produced to keep the kids entertained during the summer. As such, if you adjust your expectations properly, you might just enjoy it. Indeed, Disney hopes your kids will, if only to buy more merchandise and gear up for the sequel ‘Planes: Fire and Rescue’ due in cinemas next year.

Monsters University

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBzPioph8CI

Monsters University (Dan Scanlon, 2013) 4/5

Nostalgia and reigniting great childhood memories is what Pixar has now become monsters universityrenowned for. With the industry being clogged up with prequels, sequels, trilogies and reboots, for those of us who were just 10 or 11 when they first saw Monsters Inc. on the big screens, we wanted the prequel to be perfect. As such, Pixar’s long awaited addition to the franchise had a lot to prove, not just to the investors but also to the audience who would now be in their early twenties.

Many have pooh poohed the emergence of the ‘franchise’ film and have argued that original products have suffered as a result of it. Now, I am not going to deny this and there is validity with this argument however what Pixar does so well is that doesn’t rush their films. They could have easily have released MInc.2 straight after the first, but they didn’t and this was in order to get the story absolutely right. In fact they were very clever, setting the film at University where some of the original audience have just graduated (including me) or are about to attend plays on the excitement for the future and a fondness of the past.

Although lets no forget, Pixar makes films for the entire family and the themes they like to embed in their narratives are universal. MU is no different as the struggle against diversity, true friends never desert you or that cheating never pays off is continually referenced throughout. Indeed with Mike and Sully being arch rivals in ‘Scaring 101’, it allows a larger scope for the film to move forward to where the first film began.

One of the highlights is the voice acting, not only by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, but also by the supporting cast. For example Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Peter Sohn, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza and many more. All of these great actors are what sets Pixar apart from other Animation studios as they just make the whole film ‘classy’.

Much like the exploits of Toy Story 3, the focus on growing up is playing with through the guise of having a great time at University, but at the same time remaining true to yourself and learning what truly matters in life, which for Mike and Sully is their close friendship. Indeed, even though the film may not reach the dizzying heights of it’s original, it comes pretty damn close.