Movies

Justice League: The Snyder Cut

Where does one begin with this 4 hour epic? Do we discuss the runtime? Ah, I know. The comparison to the theatrical release. The version that was, without a doubt, butchered by Joss Whedon. Reportedly he had reshoots for 75% of the film. The result was a complete tonal difference from Snyder’s vision, like a Batman the quips jokes in the face of danger. Then we had his misogyny at play when Flash clumsily fell on top of Wonder Woman and his face landed between her breasts. Just not a good time. So much character development was cut in favor of constantly moving the narrative forwards. Cyborg and Flash’s entire origins and personal growth were cut, and Flash was reduced to a side gimmick to deal with a Russian family while a major battle is happening.

Snyder’s vision is immediately restored in the opening credits with a dark scene unfolding showcasing Superman’s death from the previous movie, and the shockwave from his death cry cascading across the planet. It sets up purpose as to why these dimension hopping soldiers of destruction invade Earth. The stage is shown for how truly powerful Superman is. The fear he brings to his enemies. From there, the plot establishes each of the superheroes. Arthur Curry is a kind man who helps those in need and he’s idolized by those he helps. And true to his character, not yet grown, he is not beholden to the surface or the oceans. He is his own man. Wonder Woman is a force for good who is not scared of killing her enemies or those that wish to do harm. Nor is she afraid of brutalizing them in defense of the innocent while still inspiring young girls to be anything they aspire to.

The Flash is a young man, Barry Allen, who takes random jobs here and there to fund his tuition for being a criminal justice student. He does so in order to find a way to save his father from prison, for a crime he did not commit. Barry is lighthearted and full of empathy and wonder. His powers are showcased in a short scene in which he saves a young girl from a car accident. This scene helps establish who he is, and provides a feeling of an origin. Cyborg has his entire arc reinstated. A young man lost in the world, feeling like a monster and resenting his father’s choices. His mother dead in an accident and him left clinging to life. His father breaking every ethical and moral scientific law to save his son however he can. Both Flash and Cyborg are similar in that they yearn for their fathers. This feeling is easily identifiable with, and helps humanize these otherwise otherworldly characters.

The movie does a phenomenal job at bringing all these different characters together for a singular purpose of defending the planet. Each character has a soul to them, they feel fleshed out and not merely caricatures of the comic book characters they represent. They have depth, and growth in an arc. Even Batman! “Faith, Alfred. Faith.” A man who previously would take even the smallest chance that someone could be his enemy and acted on it, rather than having faith that they could be a force for good. Talk about a turnaround. Together, they save the planet from the villain Steppenwolf and we, the audience, have a blast watching this wild ride.

Steppenwolf has actual purpose this time around. He is no longer a creepy dude that calls those boxes “Mother.” He merely wants to get back into the good graces of his Master, Darkseid – A god of destruction and death from another dimension. To that end, he strives to find the three Mother Boxes and to reunite them to create a calamity known as the unity – a cataclysmic event to scorch the planet and purge it of all life. Therefore making way for Darkseid to come and claim his grand prize. Even Steppenwolf’s appearance is a huge step up, wearing armor that seemingly reacts to his thoughts. The theatrical cut feels like an afterthought of bad CGI.

The movie itself is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio which gives the appearance of old cartoons. It invokes a similar feeling to watching animated shows on a Saturday morning. The score is heavy rock interspersed with each of the character’s themes. It gives weight to each battle, no matter how small and gets the blood pumping in anticipation. There are several scenes across the entire movie that serve no purpose in moving the narrative forwards but instill a sense of lore and weight for these characters. It helps establish and maintain the mythic feeling of several such as the Amazons or the Atlanteans.

Even Superman is changed, maybe not for the better but definitely more nuanced in that he’s a man (alien) reborn and thus no longer what he once was. This is even symbolized through the black costume he wears. He toys with his enemies and brings them extra agony than they would get normally. He’s got a bit of darkness in his heart and Lois Lane is the only thing that brings him back to the light.

There are plenty more references and nuances to be found within the movie that brings joy to fans, and continues to help establish this universe of superheroes. Overall, it’s a great and markedly improved version compared to the theatrical. It’s got heart, soul, and purpose. But is it what fans truly want of their childhood heroes? I’d say it’s not, but it is a great vision to have seen come to fruition. Zack Snyder definitely put his own twist on these characters and for this movie, it works. For the comic book characters that were represented, I’d say it’s a departure. That being said, did I enjoy the movie? Yes, I did. Despite its length, it held well. It had merits. It even set up the possibility for more. Would I want to see this reality explored further? No, I would not. Would I recommend this movie for fans of DC superheroes? Yes, I’d say definitely watch it and forget there ever was a theatrical cut.

Movies

Sentinelle

A revenge flick starring Olga Kurylenko without substance, panache, or critical thinking in the slightest. Our main character is seemingly invincible despite being tossed around and bruised up on a regular basis, she recovers in a matter of minutes while her opponents lay sprawled out on the ground. Cameras don’t exist in this world for the protagonist, only the villains are seemingly recorded. If they did exist, she’d be arrested by the halfway point and this movie would cease to exist.

It’s supposed to be a look at a soldier with PTSD and narcotic dependency issues but that falls flat. Only serving to establish her character’s appearance while bearing little influence on the plot itself. The movie The Beast did this much better but lacked in the action scenes. This movie’s action scenes are solid despite their flaws. It is a slow burn with a few scattered action sequences throughout with a mild rampage at the end. I laughed when she used her assault rifle for two kills and then tossed it aside in favor of her pistol.

Her character makes repeated infractions while doing her job that would have clearly had her incarcerated or put on suspension yet faced no consequences for her actions. The villains were your typical Russian bad guys, old and of diplomatic status. Her job as a soldier patrolling the streets of France was pointless to the plot as well, it delivered no message. It only served to give the character access to weapons she’d otherwise be inaccessible to.

I’m honestly at a loss as to why Netflix keeps throwing away their money on such productions. At this point, I’m halfway convinced it’s to launder money. Surely that’s more profitable than releasing this schlock. Another thing I don’t understand is why Variety’s skip it or stream it would recommend to stream it unless they were endorsed by Netflix. I fast forwarded through several scenes that simply dragged on and served to create a false sense of tension like when she’s walking through areas with her gun out. 40 second skips revealed what I knew would happen – absolutely nothing.

Overall, I definitely do not recommend this movie unless you simply wanna watch a roughly 40 second lesbian sex scene between Olga Kurylenko’s character and another. If that’s your interest then go to 24:53 into the movie until 25:32. Otherwise, skip it.

Movies

The Yin Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

Mild Spoilers Throughout

To preface my review: I understand the philosophical waxing and poetry of the notion of love portrayed in the movie but be that as it may, it is a convoluted mess. The story in its infancy is about an evil immortal serpent that is born out of the desires of humans, namely that of greed. Every few decades it returns to attempt to feed on the world, and 4 masters of various magical arts must come together to defeat the serpent’s physical body. The main character is the one of the title, the Yin Yang master, Qing Ming (Mark Chao). His fellow acquaintance and eventual friend is Bo Ya (Allen Deng). At first, these two are at odds with each other due to their differing viewpoints on demons but they gain a sense of camaraderie during this adventure. Their companionship is one of the philosophical points on love; that is, love for your fellow man and friends – a bromance if you will.

The second point of love, is that of eternal love. In that aspect, it is the love the empress holds. However her body is the vessel for the evil snake spirit and since desires feed that entity, she must be without love. Yet in the end, it is that love which frees the snake because she could not let it go. The way I saw it, was that her love was a toxic kind that only ruins herself and those around her.

This movie was directed and written by Jingming Guo, and while there was some good direction, it is painful to see that there is blatant copying of another movie. Dr. Strange from Marvel was clearly taken for inspiration from, and given the director’s previous problems with plagiarism, it kind of feels like that happened here. The use of hands to create eerily similar portals, down to the orange color and effects is a little bit too on the nose. That aside, the CGI was very well done despite adding little to the story and often had it feel like I was watching a live action anime rather than an original story based on a novel. The acting of the two main characters was good, and everyone else felt bland or fell flat. One character, central to the love plot, He Shouyue, felt like nothing but a pretty face and body. At 132 mins long, I was bored. Some moments did captivate me due to the sheer spectacle and fantastical nature of it all. What really excelled though was the score. Absolutely loved it! Oriental music with traditional instruments and hints of electric guitar. Got the blood pumping during certain action scenes.

Overall, it’s worth a watch but you’d be terribly bored upon a re-watch with friends. You’ll find yourself going “huh?” a lot but in the latter half and ending, it clears it all up. Though I can’t say I recommend watching it despite just saying it’s worth a watch. Up to you.

Final note: one scene straight had an angel with a fiery sword battling a snake. Oh hey, creation myth much, Uriel anyone? Cherub angel with a flame sword, nice inspiration.

Movies

Space Sweepers

A South Korean science fiction epic about humanity in the distant future where the Earth has been ravaged by acidic soil turning the planet into a hazardous, poisonous wasteland. The elites of humanity live in orbit around the planet in habitation stations that are protected by domes which allow for artificial gravity and the possibility for air, water, and plants. 95% of the human population is trapped on the dying earth, while a corporation known as UTS controls who lives in orbit and for the eventual colonization of Mars which has been turned into a tropical utopia via a genetically enhanced super tree known as the Tree of Life. The founder and creator of these inventions is James Sullivan (Richard Armitage), a 152 year old megalomaniac, who has his own misguided views on what it means to be a good human being.

The rest of humanity that lives in orbit but not as a part of the habitation stations, live in squalor and are subject to ridicule and being poor. They find jobs as space sweepers; that is, they have their own ships acquired through loans (debt on debt), and collect space debris for recycling to earn what little money they can. The story focuses on one such crew, on a ship called The Victory, with Captain Jang (Kim Tae-ri), pilot Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki), mechanic and engineer Tiger Park (Seon-kyu Jin), and a robot called Bubs (Hae-Jin Yoo). Each one of these characters has their own little story that is revealed through the 136 minute adventure, some being tragic and some not, but overall, human stories. The crew comes across a 7 year old child (Ye-Rin Park) who is a wanted bounty by the UTS corporation. Hoping to score some money by ransoming her back, the crew of the Victory find themselves in a fight for the future of humanity.

I really enjoyed the philosophical debates and pandering found throughout the movie, especially when the main villain, Sullivan, would preach about greed yet failing to acknowledge how he himself is just as fallible. The use of mass media to disillusion and manipulate the population to further the whims of the UTS corporation hits a little too close to home and current events. The divide between the rich and the poor, and the visual representation of dirty folks versus clean, or having broken down shoes, is also quite relevant. Despite being set in the not too distant future, the idea that these issues would still remain has been long engrained in the minds of many writers and helps ground the story. Some of the events and technology that exists in the movie is straight up fantasy and the story gets around that by stating that it can’t be explained by anyone and that it just is. At its basic core, the movie is about different people coming together, of all nations, and working to achieve unity and peace while being beset by those that wish to covet power all to themselves. It’s about a family of misfits putting aside their differences to save the life of a child, and in turn, save themselves from their past misdeeds.

The CGI was phenomenal, and I really enjoyed the action scenes in space. In one particular battle scene, near the end, my mind went to the recent season of the Expanse and I couldn’t help but think how that show failed miserably to convey any sense of action or ship battles – and Amazon supposedly supplied it with a larger budget, ha! Anyways, Space Sweepers, is a thoroughly enjoyable ride and for being the first Korean space blockbuster, it is quite a good start. Some minor nitpicks here and there, like some of the actors or actresses felt like they were plucked from the street, but it’s all good. I recommend watching it, and I hope to see more science fiction movies like this from South Korea.

Movies

Chick Fight

What a colossal waste of time! An absolute steaming pile of garbage writing; it’s like the writer decided to take a look at all the tropes he (Joseph Downey) could find, put in them in a hat and then pulled them out at random and wrote around that. You’ve got your morbidly obese, sassy black woman that is also a lesbian (Dulce Sloan), you got your down on her luck and severe money issues main character (Malin Akerman), a stereotypically and overtly flamboyant gay man (Alec Mapa) with his just out of the closet partner (Kevin Nash), and a villain that’s mean for the sake of being mean but secretly applauds the main character for their attained skills (Bella Thorne). We also have the love interest who happens to be a sibling of one of the other characters and is a doctor (Kevin Connolly), and we have the coach that trains the main character with unorthodox methods (Alec Baldwin).

The plot is also very simple, main character is on the brink of bankruptcy and discovers a fight club run by her sassy, fat black friend who also happens to be a cop. She joins said fight club which is revealed to have been founded by her mom who was a therapist and all the members of said club are her patients. Legality aside, how very silly. Colorful language aplenty with sexual jokes that fall flat and are cringeworthy, are sprinkled numerously throughout. The so-called unorthodox training methods employed by her coach are downright stupid and harmful to the idea of boxing and MMA in general. It’s like zero research was done into how actual boxing works, and how people actually fight. The writer wrote it off the top of his head based upon movies that have long since deteriorated in his imagination.

The acting is the only thing its got going for it, nothing was particularly horrible except for Bella Thorne. She was a disaster, and very obvious that this was nothing more than a paycheck with zero acting required – walk in, say your lines, step out when the stuntwoman is doing her thing and come back. Also Malin Akerman has fallen so low, a long way from Watchmen and it’s like she’s trying to stay relevant even if it means that people are lamenting how bad this movie is. Alec Baldwin has entered the realm of Bruce Willis and friends, he’s clearly here cause the pay was enticing enough to spend a couple weeks in Puerto Rico. Dulce Sloan wasn’t even funny, every single one of her jokes was like nails on a chalkboard. She was just agonizing to watch. I don’t even know why Kevin Nash was in this movie.

I do have to say that I applaud the stuntwomen and stunt work in this movie, they clearly tried the hardest out of everyone here. They outdid all the actors and actresses, the director, and soundtrack and even the cinematography, and especially the writer – it’s like the man had no experience with girls in his entire life. I don’t even understand who greenlit this movie, even less so who decided to throw money on it. Is it so hard to invest or spend money on, I don’t know… a good idea maybe? Just a thought for next time.

Do not pass go. Do not waste your time on this movie. Just kindly avoid it as best as possible. Show Amazon or whoever has it that it doesn’t deserve any effort or time spent on it. I would rather recommend you play some solitaire and then go to sleep early than this. Hard pass.