Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise) — Screenplay by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani.
Does anyone really know what Warner Bros. Discovery and DC Comics are doing with their immensely popular comic book characters on the big screen? Half the time it sounds like they want to copy what Disney and Marvel are doing, and the other half it sounds like they want to do a little bit of everything. That latter suggestion is unfocused but it is also a little bit exciting that they are prepared to do anything. That we can get a deeply gritty Halloween-set Batman film and a more brightly colored tongue-in-cheek superhero comedy for all ages in Shazam!with DC Comics is good fun, but I’m not sure fans, general audiences, or the higher-ups are on the same page. Some fans want a patient build-up in the vein of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some want a return to Nolan-esque grittiness, and others are desperate for Zack Snyder’s vision for the DC universe to live on. Time will tell if they can have it all, but, in trying to appeal to the most amount of people, Jaume Collet-Serra’s underdeveloped Black Adam raises some eyebrows, as it feels very much like a film that has been tinkered with by higher-ups so much over the years that it has gone stale, which is a shame since Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has been waiting for 15 years to make his mark as the titular antihero.
All Episodes of the First Season of James Gunn’s PEACEMAKER Are Available on HBO Max Now.
I know. This show did, indeed, come out several months ago. Back then, I had been preparing to write a longer article about this show, but, then life got in the way, and now we’re in June. Sorry about that. Still, I am happy to be able to report that I think this show is absolutely terrific and I also think it’s the best DC Comics season of television I’ve ever seen. That statement is coming from someone who was obsessed with Smallville once, who loved the first season of CW’s The Flash, and who did follow the Arrowverse for quite some time. With respect to those shows, James Gunn’s Peacemaker is just head-and-shoulders above those other series in large part because it feels so director-driven. It has a distinctive style and voice that is just so right for this show.
I was elated when Robert Pattinson was announced to play Batman. Pattinson’s work in independent films had impressed me so much, and I thought he was a pretty obvious choice for the role. However, as many people know, Batman movies always lead to premature casting criticism (people were critical of Heath Ledger, Michael Keaton, and Ben Affleck long before they had even seen them in their respective films). I remember receiving rude comments about my excitement for Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. After having finally seen the film, I can honestly say that I feel vindicated. Pattinson is great and Reeves has once again made an outstanding blockbuster film in a vastly popular (and, to some, tired) franchise.
Over the years, I have certainly not tried to hide the fact that I think 2016’s Suicide Squad, which was directed by David Ayer (though he has repeatedly made it clear that the film was essentially taken away from him as a result of studio interference), is, to put it mildly, one of my least favorite films ever made in the superhero genre. That 2016 film certainly reeked of studio interference, it was an almost incoherent mess, it was needlessly grimy and at times quite ugly, it used a decent soundtrack as a crutch and in a way that became incredibly tiring, all the while failing to get you to care about the characters or the relationships they were building. There were some decent things about it, but, on the whole, it felt like someone had tried to turn Ayer’s vision into a shameless imitation of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and that just didn’t work for the film that Ayer had envisioned.
Directed by Patty Jenkins — Screenplay by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham.
The highly anticipated sequel to Patty Jenkins’ 2017 film, Wonder Woman, has finally arrived in Denmark. The film was released in theaters around the world (and simultaneously on HBO Max exclusively in the United States) in December of 2020, but, a week, or so, prior to the theatrical release in Denmark, all Danish theaters were ordered to close due to the second wave of the Coronavirus global pandemic. At the time of writing, theaters are still closed. This also means that Wonder Woman 1984 eventually skipped Danish theaters entirely.
In the mean time, frustratingly, the film was not made available for premium-video-on-demand in Denmark, and it took the distributor this long to release the film on HBO Nordic. That’s right, almost exactly three months after it was released on a streaming service in the United States. But now, thankfully, that wait is over. I’ve finally had the chance to watch the sequel to the hit 2017 superhero film led by Gal Gadot. Unfortunately, while I appreciated the original film, this sequel just feels misguided.
Directed by Zack Snyder — Screenplay by Chris Terrio — Story by Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, and Will Beall.
In 2017, Warner Bros. released the film titled Justice League in theaters worldwide. This was a superhero team-up film that was supposed to be the third installment in a series of films set in Warner Bros.’ cinematic universe that has been dubbed the DC Extended Universe. The previous two installments — Man of Steel and Batman v Superman — were directed by Zack Snyder, who had essentially become the godfather, or the face, of the DC Extended Universe.
Snyder was also supposed to complete Justice League, but, due to a family tragedy, he decided to step away from the film and let Joss Whedon, the seasoned superhero filmmaker hired by Warner Bros. to replace him, finish the film. But Whedon and Snyder are very different filmmakers and they have different sensibilities, and, ultimately, the theatrical cut of Justice League was met with largely negative reviews. The final product lacked a uniform vision and tone, and it started to become clear that a lot of the essential material that Zack Snyder had planned for the film had been left on the cutting room floor.
The following is a review of Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — Directed by Cathy Yan.
In 2016, David Ayer’s messy and displeasing Suicide Squad embiggened the then fairly new cinematic universe from DC Films and Warner Bros. Pictures. Although it somehow won itself an Academy Award, the film was rightfully panned by critics, including me. I often think back on that film as being one of the absolute worst superhero films of the last decade. Therefore, at first glance, a spin-off from Suicide Squad, which is exactly what Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey is, shouldn’t appeal to me at all. However, this film promised to not just focus on the most entertaining character from Ayer’s film, it also promised a more colorful, more fun, and more feminine approach to a cinematic universe that could benefit from some levity and brightness. Thankfully, although I have some issues with her film, Cathy Yan has successfully brought the film’s characters to life in an entertaining way. Continue reading “REVIEW: Birds of Prey (2020)”→
The following is a review of Joker — Directed by Todd Phillips.
It has felt almost impossible to drown out the noise surrounding Todd Phillips’ Joker. Any film even tangentially related to Batman has a gigantic spotlight on it at all times, but the drama surrounding the release of this standalone origin story has been different. Though the film has won numerous film festival awards, including the coveted Golden Lion-award from the Venice Film Festival, even select critics who liked the film have seemingly been apprehensive about recommending it. Continue reading “REVIEW: Joker (2019)”→
The following is a review of Shazam! — Directed by David F. Sandberg.
It pleases me to say that the DC Cinematic Universe has turned a corner. For so long, Wonder Woman, the first film in the connected universe to receive a majority of positive reviews from film writers, seemed like an anomaly in the inconsistent universe where mixed reception was the best that you could hope for. James Wan’s Aquaman, however, was a big hit — one that indicated that perhaps the DC connected film universe still had life in it. And for Shazam! — a character most audiences will be unfamiliar with — DC and Warner Bros. borrowed yet another director from the Conjuring-film universe, Swedish David F. Sandberg, who, thankfully, has made a huge homerun hit for the weakened connected universe. Continue reading “REVIEW: Shazam! (2019)”→
The following is a review of Aquaman — Directed by James Wan
If you are reading this as a die-hard Aquaman-fan, I’m sorry but I have to start off my review like this: I’ve never thought that highly of the character. I didn’t make dumb water-jokes about him, but, for the longest time, the first things I thought about when I heard someone mention ‘Aquaman’ was, first, Alan Ritchson in CW’s Smallville and, then, the fake James Cameron film from HBO’s Entourage. Continue reading “REVIEW: Aquaman (2018)”→