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Well, I sat down with some friends and watched Justice League: Throne of Atlantis because we could.

Spoiler: It sucked.

Now, let it be known I'm no expert on Aquaman lore, nor have I read the New 52 comic the movie was based on. This review is also going to be shorter then my average review, since, in all honesty, I don't really have much to say about this movie beyond 'it was really bland'

Like, none of the characters get actual, rich development. Sure, development is implied, but Aquaman doesn't really grow. He just sorta flows with the story impassively, which, being the main character, is bad, since he never really shows any emotional reaction or investment in anything. He just decides to become King of Atlantis because reasons, without a scene of him having an internal debate about who he should be more loyal to: the people who he grew up with on the land and knows, or the strangers with whom he shares genetic stock. They could have had him debating this throughout, questioning if he really should care about Atlantis if he never lived there. But no, instead he's just emo, drinking in bars, talking to the lobsters in the tank (for real. he even gets into a fight over it), and just generally being impassive. I never saw a 'king' in him at any point, just a sailor who needed to shave.

Also, his 'romance' with Mira is just the two of them kissing at the end with, like, NO development at all. They like each other because....because....OH HEY LOOK A GIANT SHARK JUST ATE BLACK MANTA!

The use of the phrase 'Justice League' in the title is misleading, since they feel like background people even when on screen. They're a clutch of unlikable, immature people, who are constantly sniping and bickering, and worshiping Batman like he's Zeus or something. Everyone is more or less incompetent here, since Batman is a god among men, and therefore is ALWAYS right and ALWAYS knows what to do and ALWAYS has the right tool for the job. Superman has none of the good humor or sense of optimism that he used to have, instead now being more like Spock then Clark Kent. Wonder Woman has no depth at all beyond 'proud warrior woman'. Cyborg is just here because he's a walking computer, and his struggle with adjusting to being 90% robot is never addressed. Green Lantern and Captain Marvel--Sorry--I mean 'Shazam' split the 'Jerkass of the Year Award', both being a duo of immature, constantly sarcastic jerks, with Shazam winning the prize for 'most disgustingly immature character'. The Flash has NO personality and brings nothing to the team at all, just kinda darting about in the background for awhile.

The villain is bland and British, which is a shame because he had potential, but that potential isn't even explored and I barely understood his motivations, so I barely understand him. He just kinda yammers on screen and honestly, several dozen times, I zoned out on what he was saying.

So yeah, the movie is lame. It lacks the spark and wit of the DC Animated Universe, lacks the gravitas and drama that Under the Red Hood had, and the stakes that Justice League: Doom had. It's just a waste of time, and it's sad that Aquaman must continue to be locked out of the Cool Superheroes Club because of this.

And I like Aquaman.

Anyways, 1 out of 5 for me.
Okay, so I finally got to see possibly the biggest base breaker of 2014, Christopher Nolan's sprawling, gigantic and eye-popping Interstellar.

I will first off state that I'm actually glad I waited and didn't see it when it first came out, as the hype for this film was simply out of this world (pun intended). As such, this lead to a truly MASSIVE case of 'Love It or Hate It', and therefore would have made it neigh impossible for me to properly communicate how I felt about the film. I probably would have felt more frustrated then pleased, since I was admittedly looking forward to this, and, when seeing some of the mixed reviews it got, felt discouraged.

BUT, since I didn't go see it in theaters, and instead waited for a DVDScreener of it to get leaked, I was able to see what people agreed was positive, and what they said was negative. Therefore, I was able to properly prepare my self for the worse, while still hoping for the best.

Okay, now that this long, needlessly rambly opening is out of the way, let's move onto the ACTUAL review of the ACTUAL movie.

I did end up liking it more then disliking it.

First off, Nolan has and always had, a great eye for the raw visual aspects of filmmaking. His films have ALWAYS looked amazing, and Interstellar is no exception. Collaborating with Hoyte Van Hoytema, Nolan crafts a beautiful visual pallet, contrasting the sharp light of space, with the busky, dirty light of Earth, to the sterile, alien worlds of the planets our intrepid heroes visit. On top of that, his camera movement is smooth and highly coordinated, and I was never at a lost as to what was going on on a purely visual level. The action sequences, be they in the form of entering a planets atmosphere to attempting to dock with an out of control space station, to the strange other world of a black hole, it all looks great.

The acting is also strong throughout. McConaughey especially owns the film, since he is the main character and therefore gets most of the character development generally speaking. His acting is great throughout, and he delivers real, solid emotion. Anne Hathaway is also strong, if not as developed as McConaughey, but I chalk that up to a screenplay that is lacking in overall character development then in her acting chops.
Now, for the negatives.

For one thing, the sequences and characters that are Earth bound to me, were not as interesting or as engaging as the outer space sequences. I understand the need for them to be in the screenplay (to provide an emotional context to Cooper's actions and to show the consequences of their potential failure), but when compared to the visually stunning and generally far more interesting space sequences, they pale. I feel at times like I'm watching two movies spliced together. One focusing on some sort of apocalyptic future where Earth is starving and people are working to fix it, and another focusing on a space mission into a wormhole and the sights and adventures the astronauts encounter along the way. I feel that Casey Affleck and Jessica Chastain's characters aren't developed. Since the film only cuts back to them for brief moments (relatively speaking) in the grand context of the story, I only get glimpses of how they interact, and almost no explanation for what makes them tick as people beyond vague implications that Chastain felt their father abandoned them, and Affleck's resentment to his father's potential death. I don't understand WHY (beyond the family history), Affleck wants to stay on the farm, and when Chastain calls him out on it, it just feels like a way to make her look right and him look wrong, mostly because Chastain is playing the beta-hero.

Also, the presence of Matt Damon's villain character feels sorely out of place in a film that obviously doesn't NEED a human villain. Gravity for example didn't have George Clooney's character go postal and try to kill Sandra Bullock out of a warped sense of ending their shared trial. Here, Damon wants to kill the rest of the crew......because it'll somehow save the human race. Its never really explained, and it comes so freakishly out of left field that I just end up wondering WHY Matt Damon is in the movie. It would have been easier (fit with the overall themes of man triumphing over nature), if the planet itself was some sort of menace. Not a villain in the proper sense, but a place so dangerous and inhospitable that our heroes have to escape as soon as possible, or else all is lost. That would have created the necessary drama, as it did in Gravity, which had no antagonist asides from the very nature of space itself.

Asides from Damon and Earth, I do feel that the screenplay, while well meaning, is at times almost like a sledgehammer with its message delivery. Be it in the completely out of place (and ill explained) in-universe school board mandated dismissel of the Apollo landings as a fake for the sake of a conspiracy (which makes zero sense, since you could have simply had them play up the harsh contrast between the wide eyed optimism of Apollo with the grim reality of the 1960s and it would have gotten the (idiotic) message across), or the Hallmark-esqe, rather cloying statements of the power of love, which, don't at all fit in the broader context of the almost Spock-like nature of the rest of the screenplay (lots of exposition for instance), leads to a general aura of forcefulness that takes away from the subtle elements that the screenplay could have given us (man's place in the universe for instance)

Finally, I do feel that Nolan's weakest aspect is the emotional core of his films. As much as I love The Dark Knight or Inception, I'll admit that, quite honestly, they're not deep wellsprings of human emotion and passion. I'll venture to say that TDK is probably his most emotional film, but I always felt that Nolan struggles with making a film that is just as impressive emotionally and story wise, as it is visually. Here, that problem arises in that I don't FEEL McConaughey and Mackenzie Foy's father-daughter relationship like I would in a Spielberg film, nor do I feel his relationship with Hathaway, be it romantic or platonic as I would in a Spielberg film. I mention Spielbeg because he had intended to direct the project himself, but for reasons I'm not well informed on, dropped out. I will go out on a limb and say, had Spielberg directed it, it might not have been as visually mind blowing as Nolan's final product, but it would have most likely been far more emotionally enriched, and fleshed out from a story perspective.

Final negative note: This film is LOOOOOOOONG. I get that Nolan wants to make a 2001: A Space Odyssey level epic, but 2001 was still only two hours. Interstellar meanwhile, is almost three hours, and while the overall pace is fine (if steady), I feel that it could have been trimmed down to a 2 hour runtime and been just as good, if not better.

Ah, well, enough griping. I forgot to mention that Hans Zimmer crafted an awesome score, finally distancing himself from the maudlin that defined his post-Gladiator work. Here, the organs and strings create a richly emotional palette, and without the score, I feel the film wouldn't have been half as good.

So in the end, while I freely admit this film is flawed, and nowhere near the emotional level of Gravity or the fine cut precision of 2001, its still a strong entry into the sci-fi genre, and a grand experiment for sure. Boosted by strong overall performances, and a great score, those two elements can help one overlook the somewhat heavy-handed screenplay and lack of rich emotional depth.

I'm giving it 4 stars for that, since I did end up enjoying it. Might not watch it as often as I do Gravity, but I came out satisfied that I did watch it. Worth checking out.
Damn it, I was just emotionally compromised by a movie about a book.

So yes, Tomm Moore's wondrous, ten years in the making opus is both a feast for the eyes, and a wonderful celebration of the work that hundreds of Irish monks undertook to preserve the Word of God in the depths of the Dark Ages.

Owing an obvious debt to the works of Miyazaki, Moore's film however is able to stand entirely on it's own as a supremely unique and vivid work. Be the hyper stylized and intimately detailed artwork, which deliberately invokes the beautiful illuminated text of the Book of Kells, to the gentle and sweet story, which recalls Irish mythology. The best part, given that it's an Irish fantasy with faeries, is that it NEVER, for once, belittles or suggests that Brendan and his fellow' monk's work is anything shy of sacred. Instead, the film is full of references to darkness being defeated by light, and what better way to show that then by the crafting and preservation of the Gospels themselves, which is God's Holy Word committed to paper, and therefore the ultimate Light to destroy all darkness.

The presence of Crom Cruach, an outright satanic demon that lurks in the dark words, and his defeat at the hands of a young CHRISTIAN monk, is another great bit of symbolism. Not only is their supernatural darkness, but also the darkness of those who've never heard God's Word, as represented by the dark, demonic looking Vikings, whose mindless and fanatical search for gold drives them to destroy every place of Christianity they can find. But even their efforts are shown as futile, as The Lord's Word still shines through the dark, both literally and figuratively in The Book of Kells, and in the work of the hundreds of monks who toiled and worked to preserve the Word of the Lord.

In some ways, it's actually BETTER then Miyazaki's work, as it's a simpler, less preachy style of film making. There's no great speech about war being evil or that we need to preserve nature or something. Instead, the focus is firmly on The Book, and what it represents. By extension, it celebrates all of God's creation, and is simply dripping with symbolism and meaning. From Abbot Cellach's fatherly desire to protect his people by building walls, to Brother Aidan's firm belief in the Great Commission and his desire to spread the Gospel wherever he goes, the film shows both sides of the argument, and shows them in balanced way. In the end, it can be said to side with Aidan, as it's only by leaving the fortified Kells can Brendan finish the book, but without the protection that the walls of Kells provided, he would have never have met Aidan or seen the Book, and therefore we would have lost it.

So yes, this film really struck a chord with me, being able to balance the mysticism of Irish folklore, with the Truth of God's Word perfectly in my mind.

Five out of five stars for me. I actually cried at the ending. For real.
Okay, first off, before anyone asks, no, I will not be offering my opinion on the real life Chris Kyle and his failings as a human. I'm here to review movies, so if you think this is going to be some backdoor excuse for me to complain about American foreign policy, or the morality of war, please, go read another review. I'm here to review movies, not politics.

Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let's move on.

The film is a very strong film. Perhaps not as emotionally invested or impactful as it could have been, but it's still a very solid, strong film.

Clint Eastwood shows why he's an excellent war film director in the Iraq sequences, giving them a sense of time and place, and while it's not the frenetic paranoia that one typically finds in a war film, it's still expertly shot, and the overall lack of jitter cam is a relief, especially since almost every Iraq war film of late has been shot with jitter cam. Yes, there's handheld camera work, but it's not distracting. Eastwood also is able to show the affects of PTSD on Kyle very well, but in an understated way. In fact, overall, the film is very understated, both as a war film and as a personal drama. At times this can lead to a sense of emotional distance, yes, but overall, it plays in the film's favor, since it avoids falling into cliche's or narm, instead coming across as very dignified and restrained.

The screenplay is also strong, if not the greatest of character portraits. It's respectful to Kyle, and thankfully apolitical, not trying to do anything more then tell the man's story in a quite and dignified way. It doesn't want nor try to be some biting expose on the War in Iraq or Kyle's failings, instead simply showing a man who does what he does because of a straightforward belief of right and wrong. To drag his less heroic exploits into the film, while arguably being a more 'true' portrait of the man, would miss the point of his story, and would give the film a now cliched 'deconstruct American Hero' vibe that I feel has become far too common in modern cinema.

Bradley Cooper's performance is very deserving of his nomination, as he delivers a similar style of performance that Tom Hanks gave us in Captain Phillips. Here, Cooper isn't trying to wow us with extreme acting skills, but instead, is simply showing us the man, no frills and no show. He obviously put his heart, body and soul into the performance, and it shows. It's not a flashy performance, but it's a remarkably naturalistic one, and therefore an excellent one.

Sienna Miller's performance is also solid and naturalistic, providing a strong support to Cooper. However, I don't feel the film focuses on her enough, since the film spends most of it's time following Kyle while at war. Like I said before, I would have liked perhaps more emotional investment in their relationship, but what we're given is strong, so it's usually enough to carry you through the film.

The rest of the supporting cast are all great, if not as fleshed out as Kyle, but the film, again is obviously got one character it wants to focus on, and doesn't want to get dragged down with dozens of supporting roles.

The cinematography is very understated like the rest of the film, giving Iraq a somewhat greenish tone that, for reasons I can't quite put into words, works. Maybe because it gives the desert environment a sense of bleakness that I find quite appropriate.

So yes, in the end, I quite liked the film. It isn't the emotional atomic bomb of films, like, say, The Hurt Locker, or the edge of your seat tension that defined films like Zero Dark Thirty and The Kingdom, but it's a strong, sincere film about a strong, sincere man, and for that I applaud it. It's not a war film, but rather a film about a man at war, be it with an enemy he can see in Iraq, or an enemy he can't see at home, with PTSD looming over him. I do wish some things were more fleshed out, and perhaps an overall, more emotional film, but it's such a relief to see a film showing American heroism (and it's consequences), without feeling like it's on a soapbox.

A four out of five for me.
So yeah, Justice League: Doom popped up on HBO, and, in my standard way of watching a movie I've seen a million times, I chilled out and watched it.

And it's a damn solid film.

First off, let me just say that this film is obviously with fans of the DC Universe at the forefront, and then casual non-fans second. Therefore, there's a lot of mentions and allusions to long established DC lore, and if you don't know jack squat about DC Comics, then you'll miss most of those.

However, even with that conceit, it's a very strong film on it's own merits.

The voice acting is all top notch, with pretty much the entire cast turning in grade a work. It's also awesome to hear Kevin Conroy and Tim Delay, who both pretty much defined the voices for Batman and Superman for an entire generation step back into their roles. Along with most (if not all) of the cast of the DCAU returning as well, which really makes this feel like a more mature, darker episode of the series.

The story is a nice, straightforward adaptation of the 'Tower of Babel' arc from the comics, penned by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie, who sadly passed away shortly after finishing the screenplay. It's brief and to the point, being able to establish the characters to the audience, and their motivations, without being padded out. It takes us straight to the action, and while that lead to a rather brisk pace when compared to a normal film, it works for the story, and doesn't stretch it out longer then necessary.

Now, I will say that the story's main conceit, which is long time foe Vandal Savage, a mutated caveman with immorality and super intelligence (it's DC Comics just go with it) gets his hands on Batman's secret fail-safe that the Dark Knight devised should the League turn evil. Now, while the logic behind having fail-sages for the most powerful heroes in the world is a logical one, the fact that Batman doesn't inform his long time friends and allies that he's even CONSIDERED the idea puts Batman in a bad light. Now, he's not quite the crazed, trust no one borderline sociopath that Frank Miller created, nor is he the almost comically over prepared know everything mastermind chess-master that Grant Morrison created, but it's still frustrating to see Batman be so arrogant in a manner, believing that the people who are his friends aren't fully deserving of his trust.

The good news is that EVERYBODY calls him out on his not telling them, and he takes the mature position and resigns, instead of trying to fight it or wave his intelligence in front of their faces. Now, obviously I would have preferred that Batman flat out said "I was wrong", but the fact that he at least as the morality to resign instead of stubbornly clinging on is better then nothing.

Maybe it's just the whole 'Let's make Batman always right' thing that's lately become so prevalent that's getting to me.

But other then that, it's a great entry into the DC Animated Films canon. Perhaps lacking the emotional punch that Under the Red Hood had, but still making up for it by being enjoyable and fun to watch.

4.5 out of 5.



So yeah, I got the blu-rays of ArgoCaptain America: The Winter SoldierCowboy Bebopand the DVDs of Much Ado About NothingA Personal Journey Through American Cinema with Martin Scorsese and a documentary about cinematographers.

On top of that, an XBoxOne is on the way, but got delayed due to the wack-ball nature of the Christmas ordering season.

I also got The Hobbit art book for the first Hobbit film, and a MASSIVE Wes Anderson book that's overflowing with interviews and pictures.

All in all it was a rockin' Christmas.

What about you guys?

  • Mood: Cheerful
  • Listening to: mental christmas music



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Ben Miranda
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Born-again Christian, a new being in Christ. And Brony and film-fanatic


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