Commonly believed to be one of the worst comic book hero adaptations, the self-deprecating humour of Ryan Reynolds (Dead Pool, Buried) fails to elevate The Green Lantern above below average.
Maverick earthbound pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) finds himself chosen by the green lantern to become the latest member of the intergalactic organisation to protect the universe. His powers become all-important as former colleague and Senator’s son Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard – An Education, Jackie) becomes infected with much darker aspirations.
Generic in plot and visuals, it’s all somewhat synthetic, a plodder of a feature that the likeable Reynolds cannot come anywhere near saving.
A moody, glowering Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattison – Twilight, Tenet) results in a deeper, pyschological Batman than previous fare as a sadistic serial killer begins murdering key political figures in Gotham.
Corruption is rife and the anti-vigilante mood is threatening. But Lt James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright – No Time to Die, The French Dispatch) maintains faith in the Batman. It’s a dark, dark brood of a feature with flashes of violence from director Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as Wayne is confronted by his own family’s culpability in the Gotham of today.
Certainly too long and, with the arrival of Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz – Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent), the Riddler (Paul Dano – There Will Be Blood, Love & Mercy) AND the Penguin (Colin Farrell – The Lobster, In Bruges), there’s a danger of too many antiheroes in one feature muddying the waters. But The Batman pulls it off as a gritty noir thriller rather than a comic book superhero.
Nominated for 3 Oscars in 2023 – visual effects, sound, make-up/hair.
Back in 2017, director Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch, 300) stepped down from the film Justice League post-production for personal reasons. On its release, the film, completed by Joss Whedon, with a shorter running time, brighter tone and more humour, was a box-office disappointment.
Unexpectedly, Snyder was given the opportunity (and $70 million) in 2021 to complete his vision – a much darker, character-driven four hour extremis. Like chalk and cheese, the new cut leaves the earlier version for dust – even if the basic story of the Justice League struggling to prevent the destruction of the Earth without Superman (Henry Cavill – Man of Steel, Enola Holmes) remains the same.
The centuries old Mother Boxes with their wondrous powers, long kept apart, are reunited and, held by Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds – Belfast, The Woman in Black), pose a very real threat. The newly formed Justice League and its DC superheroes need to prevent global destruction – but also need to find a way to bring Superman back from the dead.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League remains a ponderous super hero narrative – and at four hours, it’s something of a slog. But that extra run time creates opportunities that Snyder grabs with both hands, resulting in a significant improvement on the dullard (and a personal 37% rating) that was its predecessor.
No surprises here as Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Fast & Furious) picks up where she left off to protect mankind. Only now Diana Prince finds herself in 1980s Washington D.C., yearning for the lost love of First World War pilot, Chris Pine (Star Trek, Hell Or High Water).
The arrival of an ancient artefact at the Smithsonian forces Diana to snap out of her reverie as failed businessman Pedro Pascal (Triple Frontier, The Great Wall), in his desire for power and extreme wealth, steals the stone. Granting any wish, but at a price, the theft sees the world heading for total destruction. With the return of Pine her wish, Diana’s powers are sapped – at the very time museum colleague Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Where’d You Go Bernadette?) takes on Wonder Woman’s attributes – and more.
It’s all somewhat predictable – even if a little slow as the ramifications of wishes being granted build, initially, slowly. It’s only when politcians start asking for more nukes (it is 1984 after all) that things start to get out of hand. Alongside the beautifully filmed prologue and the clash of female power as the narrative builds to its crescendo, it’s Gadot herself who provides the film’s presence and self-possession. The rest is brash and overly long hokum from director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster).
An extraordinary bravura performance plumbing emotional depth and physicality from Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Walk the Line) is the very core of director Todd Phillips’ (The Hangover I, II & III) dark, dark genesis tale of Batman’s nemesis, the Joker.
Controversial for its violence and exploration of mental health, just how much Joker is a genuine genesis story linked to the DC world and how much it is a deeply disturbing character study and exploration of society on the margins is moot. Impoverished Arthur Fleck, heavily medicated, is pushed to breaking point as social services support is eroded; the ‘ordinary’ citizens of Gotham are angry as the gap between the haves and have-nots grows.
With its limited palette tonality and brooding score (Hildur Guðnadóttir – Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Tom of Finland), Joker is mournful, dark and fractured. It’s a bold take that is at times sublimely (but perversely) beautiful (see Phoenix’s Twyla Tharp-like dance of death following the subway murders) as an emboldened Fleck fights back. It’s also uncompromising, wholly engrossing and a timely commentary on state-of-the-nation politics.
Nominated for 11 Oscars including best film, director, adapted screenplay, cinematography, won 2 for best actor and original score.
A visual feast of underwater delights as Jason Momoa (Justice League, Conan the Barbarian) makes the role of Aquaman his own.
On discovering from Princess Mera (Amber Heard – Justice League, Magic Mike XXL) he is heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, Aquaman must step in to stop his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson – The Conjuring, Hard Candy), going to war with the surface polluters.
DC Comics has generally struggled in the superhero stakes against Marvel, but with more than a hint of Avatar in its visuals and a director (James Wan – Saw, Fast & Furious 7) better known for horror films, Aquaman has pace and narrative that results in an enjoyable popcorn movie.
A ponderous launch of the DC superhero collective as a ponderous Ben Affleck looks to bring together the not-so-happy cohort. With the honourable Superman (Henry Cavill) no longer in the picture and crime on the increase, it’s no easy task for Batman and his latest ally, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).
The rise of Steppenwolf, dormant for 5,000 years, and the threat to mankind finally brings Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) into the mix.
Justice League has its moments but as an entertainment, it needs a more convincing lightness of touch and humour. Battle scenes are pedestrian, the chirpy Flash humour not quite funny enough, the interface between characters needing work. The Zack Snyder (director) of Sucker Punch is needed!
An incoherent mess, so busy trying to be a bridging film to the introduction of The Justice League, director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, 300) forgot to focus on one storyline.
It really is all over the place – and we begin and end with the destruction of New York. Ultimately dull and boring – it’s only the sound editing that’s a stand out as Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, Argo) and Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, The Man From U.N.C.L.E) face off against each other.
Nominated for 8 Razzies in 2016 including worst film (won 4 including worst screenplay and worst supporting actor in Jesse Eisenberg).