The Very Serious, Monotonous Business of “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”

kiss already
Plot details discussed, major spoilers mostly avoided. Your call, but don’t yell at me.

I was never going to like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This was a given, and has been for some time. What I didn’t expect was that I’d leave the theater feeling vaguely bad for Zack Snyder.

I realize this is a strange reaction. Snyder is a very successful film director, and Dawn of Justice has already made a great deal of money. (Even so, whether or not it has met its lofty financial expectations is still up for debate.) In addition, I have never particularly been a fan of Snyder’s. Sucker Punch was one of the most unpleasant theatrical experiences of my life. (Though I’d later watch the director’s cut and slightly adjust my judgment from “abomination” to “bad,” which ain’t nothing.) Watchmen and Man of Steel were often flashy but similarly suffered from his need to crank up the volume first and ask questions later. 300 was fine. Ultimately, he’s going to come out of this all right. Continue reading

The Fascinating Mess of “Spectre”

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In the fall of 2012, Skyfall—the 23rd film in the James Bond series—became one of the biggest motion picture releases of its year, and the most financially successful installment in the franchise’s 50-year history. Worldwide, it raked in $1.1 billion and confirmed Bond’s place as one of cinema’s most prominent heroes. Casino Royale might have brought him back from the dead, but the crazy success of Skyfall suggested that Bond was not just surviving, but thriving, and there was no reason to think that would change anytime soon. Continue reading

Viewing Diary (8/8/14)

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I know what you’re thinking. “A Viewing Diary at the end of the week? How strange!” Indeed, it is. However, it was either get this out there now or go an entire week without a new blog post, and I decided to choose the former. There will be no Viewing Diary next week, but the next Summer of Cruise will certainly go up at some point. That’s also been moving a little slowly, I’ll admit, but it shall be resumed shortly. As for the movies we shall talk about this week: how about the smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy, with a side of Hercules and I Origins? Plus, for the classic film of the week (the new thing I’m calling the Miscellaneous section) I finally get around to Richard Linklater’s breakthrough film Slacker. Continue reading

Viewing Diary (7/28/14)

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It’s been a busy week of movie-watching for me, so that can only mean one thing: time to bring out the old Viewing Diary! This time around, we looks at the new releases LucyMagic in the MoonlightA Most Wanted Man and Wish I Was Here. On the oldies side, I finally get around to Alfred Hitchcock’s World War II journalism thriller Foreign Correspondent. Good times all around! So let’s take some random Taiwanese drugs, start using 100 percent of our brains, and get to work. Continue reading

Viewing Diary (6/30/14)

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I know you have missed the Viewing Diary the last few weeks, and that you have constantly been sitting at your computer, hitting refresh, and hoping that one materializes. Well, our long national nightmare has come to an end. After a couple busy weeks without much movie-watching, I return with looks at Transformers: Explosions in Financially Advantageous LocationsThe Rover and Obvious Child. For the old stuff, how about some praise for A Hard Day’s Night? Those Beatles have had a rough go of it, haven’t they?

What to look for later this week: A review of Deliver Us From Evil, as well as a mid-year look at the best and worst movies I’ve seen so far in 2014. It should be fun! Or mildly diverting, at the very least! Continue reading

Summer of Cruise II: A mission so impossible, he did it four times

“I work for an agency. It’s called the IMF.”
“What’s that stand for?”
“Impossible Mission Force.”
“Shut up.”—Ethan Hunt and his wife Julia, Mission: Impossible III

Considering how long Tom Cruise’s movie stardom has lasted, it’s somewhat surprising that he hasn’t been involved in many huge franchises. Unless you count The Color of Money, and I don’t, Cruise did not appear in a sequel until 2000’s Mission: Impossible II. (Sadly, Eyes Wide Shut 2: The Adventure Continues never came to be.) To this day, Mission: Impossible is the only franchise to which Cruise has attached himself, and as a result it may be these films for which he is most known among my generation. It’s also a franchise rather unlike anything else going today. Most modern film series are obsessed with continuity and building worlds over the course of several installments. Outside of a few characters, the Mission: Impossible films have no real interest in such things. All four films are completely different beasts in terms of visual and storytelling style, and yet of the four movies there is only one real stinker of the bunch. The name Mission: Impossible doesn’t mean much more than “Tom Cruise action movie,” and yet it has turned out to be a surprisingly consistent entity. Continue reading