Top 10 Films of the Year, 2017

2017 has almost drawn to a close, and even though it does seem a little early, it’s time to name my top ten films of the year. The key word is ‘my‘. Please do not kill me.

This is definitely not the objective ‘best films of the year’ list. This is my list, based on nothing but my opinion. Also, I have not watched every film this year, so, there are going to be some great ones that I’ve missed.

Honourable mentions:

The Lego Batman Movie
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

10: Wonder Woman

wonder-woman1.jpg

2017 has, by far, been the DCEU’s strongest year so far, and Wonder Woman has been its best film. Patty Jenkins’ World War I piece is an enthralling origin story that takes the character to new heights. It’s not necessarily the most original superhero film, but it is still great, and is truly DC’s shining diamond.

9: Baby Driver

lead_960

Ansel Elgort proves the true versatility of his acting ability in Edgar Wright’s latest, and it helps that he’s in a really good film. Baby Driver may not be Edgar Wright’s best, but it is still one of 2017’s best, and that really speaks to Wright’s ability. There are problems with Baby Driver, particularly to do with the pacing, but it is still one of 2017’s more memorable efforts.

8: The Big Sick

024a_tbs_sg_30719-h_2017

The biggest surprise of the year is Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick. It truly hit me in the face, and it’s driven be real performances and great writing. It’s a touching story that is serious when it needs to be, and funny when it can be. If you haven’t watched it yet, get onto Amazon Prime and do it now.

7: Get Out

maxresdefault.jpg

Get Out takes my spot for best horror film of the year for two reasons: I haven’t watched IT, and Get Out is not scary in the conventional sense. Get Out’s true horror is racism, and the reality of the situation is what makes Get Out a truly scary experience. Jordan Peele’s very original satire deserves to be remembered.

6: Thor: Ragnarok

thor_ragnarok_main

I probably like Thor: Ragnarok more than most people, but, I don’t care. I love what Taika Waititi did with this film, and I love how he made it his own. It’s one of the most unique Marvel films, and it definitely earns points for that. It embraces its comedic genre, and goes all out at making you laugh. It isn’t exactly what you would imagine a Ragnarok movie being, but I’m so happy it is what it is.

5: Dunkirk

Christopher-Nolans-Dunkirk-IMAX-poster-cropped.jpg

Dunkirk is paper thin, but that’s the point. It is a war film that focuses on the event it is centred around rather than the people that are experiencing the event. In doing so, it becomes a very thrilling film, and sadly one that I probably will not enjoy as much on a second viewing because it blew me away on the big screen. Dunkirk is a cinematic masterpiece, and very much the best theatre experience I had this year.

Christopher Nolan is a gift.

4: Spider-Man: Homecoming

spider_man_homecoming_DF_10483_r_rgb.jpg

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a film that makes me smile every single time I think about it. This is largely because Spider-Man has always been important to me, and Homecoming is able to capture the essence of Spider-Man perfectly. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is perfect. Add to this an incredible villain in Michael Keaton’s Vulture, and what you have is a movie that, at least to me, can be re-watched every single day. I cannot fully put into words what Spider-Man: Homecoming is to me, but, all that matters is that it’s good enough to be this high on this list.

3: Logan

17-logan.w600.h315.2x.jpg

What Fox (or, what used to be Fox) must have understood after Deadpool is that they tend to produce exceptional comic book movies when they don’t slip their slimy hands into them.

James Mangold’s Logan is special. It is a farewell to Hugh Jackman that couldn’t have been better, and even though I’m not a fan of the ‘everything has to be darker’ movement, the way Logan handles its maturity is worthy of applause. It isn’t necessarily the greatest comic book film ever, and nor does it have the greatest story, or greatest effects, or anything really. But there is no denying that Logan is one of the most courageous comic book films ever, and definitely the best one of 2017.

2: Mother!

Mother_LEAD_1.jpg

Mother! is… Well… It is by far the strangest film I’ve watched this year. There are many that definitively do not like it, but I, on the other hand, love it.

Mother! is intentionally vague and open to interpretation, and if I’m honest, my interpretation was rather embarrassing compared to some others I’ve read. If those are to be true, then what Mother! is, really, is the deepest film of the year. I will not reveal my interpretation or any others I’ve read because I don’t want to spoil this film for anyone who hasn’t watched it.

Mother! is a film that leaves you thinking about it for a very long time. It’s the kind of film that’s a rarity, and the only reason it’s at number two on this list is personal bias.

Number one should be pretty obvious by now. Please save the death threats until after I’ve finished.

1: Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

f93aefb41f7ad702e67f7ffd8ce85101877890b7

The Last Jedi being my favourite film of 2017 could be due to the facts that I hadn’t been anticipating a movie this year as much as this one, and that it is the film on this list that I’ve most recently watched.

Regardless, it should be known that I love The Last Jedi because it is a great Star Wars film, and I refuse to take that back. Yes, Finn’s story is a little off-putting, but other than that, The Last Jedi is raw, emotional, risk-taking and has a great number of surprises. Rian Johnson adds his stamp to the film, and the way it utilises both old and new characters is astonishing. Not only do Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker excel in The Last Jedi, Poe Dameron also shines.

The Last Jedi’s biggest strength is its ability to get people talking, and to leave an impact on people, whether that be a positive or negative one, and this is because it pushes the boundaries with its characters. Kylo Ren and Rey, thanks in large part to Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, are such compelling characters that they even make the likes of Luke Skywalker have to take a backseat to them. And Luke himself is aided by Mark Hamill’s strongest performance to date, and his character is something unexpected in this film too.

Even two days after watching The Last Jedi, it’s still hitting me in waves. I will not deny that this may be because of bias, but, when a film is great, it’s great. It isn’t perfect, but there is so much greatness in The Last Jedi that it can be excused.

As much as this seems like I want the world to be taken over by giant corporations, 2017 belongs to Disney – also for strong Marvel films – and Star Wars. Episode IX can’t come soon enough, but, until then, let’s hope 2018 is a year to remember.

star-wars-the-last-jedi-images-000.jpg

Advertisements

The Last Jedi is among Star Wars’ Best (no spoilers)

Christmas is here, and of course, what I mean by this is that Star Wars season is here.

And as I did last year, I made my review a video review with Abhijit Vempati of The Boss Writes. This year, however, our video is scripted, edited and short.

And here it is.

Why Do So Many Fans Dislike Kylo Ren?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is almost upon us, and in trying hard to find a relevant article to write leading into it, I finally settled upon this one. I could have ranked all seven prior theatrical films, but, I didn’t feel like sitting through the prequels again. So, here we are.

What I am going to do instead is make a case for Kylo Ren, the main antagonist in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and possibly in The Last Jedi too.

Played by Adam Driver, Kylo Ren – or Ben Solo – is the son of Han Solo and Leia Skywalker. As questionably as this reveal was done, this is an interesting aspect of the character. The Skywalkers simply cannot stop shaping the entire galaxy.

Han-and-Leia.jpg

Not only does this add a more personal layer to Kylo, it also becomes an intriguing plot point. How could two of the three main good guys from the original trilogy have a child that has turned bad? Furthermore, Ben was under the tutelage of the other main protagonist from the original trilogy. Without any explanation, it is rather perplexing how Ben Solo could have ended up like he did. Immediately, there’s so much to his character.

Moving on, the biggest disappointment many had with Kylo’s character is that he is nowhere near as powerful or dominating as anyone expected. He doesn’t have the authority, demeanor or… Evilness… That Darth Vader had.

But that is what makes Kylo Ren an incredible character. He isn’t one-dimensional, or without vulnerability. Yes, Darth Vader isn’t either, but think, for one second, what the world knew about Darth Vader after only the original Star Wars (which I will not call A New Hope). Don’t consider the following two films or the entire prequel trilogy. Consider all we know about Vader in the original.

Jir_Vader.png

Almost nothing. Yes, he is an absolute badass. He is menacing, terrifying and a force to be reckoned with (pun may have been intended). But other than the “Now I am the master” line, we know nothing at all about Vader. Even the fact that he “killed Luke’s father” doesn’t even count, although I do like the metaphor there.

In one film, we know so much about Kylo Ren, and comparing him to one film Darth Vader, there is no denying that Kylo is the better character.

I still didn’t address the issue that many have with him, though. It’s true that if one film Darth Vader went toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren, Ben Solo would be as dead as Ben Kenobi. But isn’t this what makes Kylo unique? Imagine if there was just another Darth Vader, mask and all.

That’s the beauty of Kylo Ren. Darth Vader wore the suit and mask because he had no choice. Kylo Ren chooses to wear the mask, because he is conflicted between the light and dark side, and because he tries to make himself seem a lot stronger than he really is.

Kylo_impales_Solo.png

In the third act of The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren murders his father, and then loses to Rey in a lightsaber battle.

These two things are what define the character. He is trying so desperately to stop being so conflicted between the light and the dark that he takes his own father’s life to try and find the answer he’s looking for.

But when it comes down to it, his inexperience shows. Ren is used to being the alpha, and not having someone stand up to him. When someone actually does, he doesn’t know how to handle it, and goes down to Rey. (This isn’t an article about Rey. Even though I love Rey and the idea that we have a female lead for a Star Wars saga, I’m not going to go into how she seemingly knows everything).

Even his own lightsaber is a metaphor for Kylo Ren. The instability represents how he is so torn inside, and the two hilts show that he is always trying to be the one with the advantage, and isn’t used to not being in control.

star-wars-the-force-awakens.jpg

What baffles me is that a large chunk of the fan base doesn’t like Kylo, simply because he isn’t a definitive, authoritative bad guy. Yes, he is weaker than he lets on, he is conflicted and he even throws violent fits at times, but that’s what makes Kylo Ren stand out, and it’s what makes him so good.

The character’s strength is his complexity, and even though I was expecting a hard, no-nonsense antagonist when I walked into The Force Awakens as well, I really couldn’t have asked for a better bad guy.

The Last Jedi is very close. It has been my most anticipated film of the year, and the excitement is almost too much to bear. It’s just so close…

Kylo-Ren-Scar-Star-Wars-Last-Jedi.jpg

Begin Again: Film Analysis of the Week

Begin Again is a film about music, featuring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, is written and directed by John Carney, and is technically an independent film. Everything about that appeals to me. There’s no way Begin Again would not have been one of my favourite films ever.

Greta is a songwriter who’s hit rock bottom after her relationship with Dave (Adam Levine) goes south, and Dan is a music producer who’s been down on his luck for a couple of years. Circumstances enable them to find each other, and they decide to make an outdoor album together, celebrating New York City.

That’s it without spoilers. Here’s your spoiler warning. You have been warned.

It’s no secret that a lot of people do not like this movie, but the fact is that I don’t care.

Begin Again is that one John Carney film that isn’t universally beloved, and it’s the least independent of his films. One could argue that it loses some of that Carney flair in the process, but it really doesn’t. It’s actually rather nice that it’s still there despite it being so much bigger than his first film, Once.

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley have brilliant chemistry in the film, and that’s really essential. It was never questionable that they’d be good, but the way they play off each other and are able to connect so much on screen says something about the actors. This is a film that’s much smaller than both are used to, but that doesn’t take away from the marvel of their performances.

It’s smart that the film isn’t exactly chronologically told, because we first see both characters at their lowest points. Greta has just found out that her boyfriend cheated on her, and Dan’s professional and personal life is in ruins.

The way Dan is introduced really makes him seem like a terrible person, from his outbursts to his apparent hatred of all music to his alcoholism. But this is, again, smart, because for the rest of the film, we see him become better.

This introduction particularly aids what I think is one of the best scenes in film history. I’m not taking that back.

begin-again-movie-clip--authenticity-.jpg

Dan walks into a bar at the end of a bad day, and sees Greta singing on stage. We already see her do this at the start of the film, but this time, we see it as Dan does, with all the instruments in the background playing themselves in Dan’s head, and making the song a lot better. Everybody in the bar isn’t pleased, but Dan sees something special.

Having this come right after he’s been seen as nothing but bad really helps this aspect of his character shine. It’s the first good we see in him.

Something Begin Again does well is have a commentary on the current state of music, and all its problems. Dan sees all the music he receives as generic, his company wants nothing but revenue and is willing to produce generic music to make money. Greta questions the idea of how a musician should look, because music is about “ears and not eyes”. She also refuses to sell her album to Dan’s company because she makes one dollar for every nine the company makes.

However, what the film also does is highlight the real magic of music too. Throughout the film, it’s used as a catalyst to bring people together, to add colour to life and to express what cannot be said in words.

This overview of music is something that elevates Begin Again, because what it’s saying is true. The film isn’t just a beautiful story unfolding. It’s relevant.

BeginAGAIN_STILL_2970512b.jpg

Despite all this, however, the crowning jewel of Begin Again is something I took a long, long time to notice, and it’s the fact that its entire story can be told by its music.

As someone who regularly listens to this film’s soundtrack, I do love its music, but, in the context of the film, there is actually more than meets the eye.

Chronologically, the sequence in which Greta writes all her songs actually reflect the current state of the character, and can tell the whole story of the film on their own (if you can interpret the songs as such, of course).

The first song that Greta writes in the film (not the first song in the film. The first song she chronologically writes) is titled Lost Stars, and is a song about wandering, being young, being lost and wanting to be noticed. It is, essentially, about Greta.

video-begin-again-lost-stars-superJumbo

What’s funny is that in the scene, even when the song is clearly about Greta, Dave, her boyfriend at the time, says ‘It’s about me, right?’. That, right there, is why Greta wrote the song in the first place.

Following Greta’s discovery that Dave cheated on her, she goes to New York to meet her best friend Steve (played by James Corden, who is nothing but a delight in this film) before flying back home to the UK. This is when the opening scene takes place, and the song Greta sings on stage, A Step You Can’t Take Back, is just dark. If you actually pay attention to the lyrics – “Here comes the train/Upon the tracks/And there goes the pain/It cuts to black” – they’re suicidal.

Ultimately, it seems like Dan saves her from drowning in the deep end, and as they begin their journey of recording their album, the songs Greta writes are a little more hopeful.

The music, lyric-less, for Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home play next, indicating that Greta wrote this song before the rest, and it’s a song about uncertainty and taking leaps of faith, which is exactly what Greta is doing by agreeing to work with Dan.

(L-R) KEIRA KNIGHTLEY and MARK RUFFALO star in BEGIN AGAIN

The first song they record is Coming Up Roses, and this is an even more positive song, about change and making things better for yourself. It’s apparent that, psychologically, Greta is getting better.

Now, what appears to be an upward slope abruptly drops when Greta watches an award acceptance speech that her ex-boyfriend Dave delivers, and once again, she plummets back down, writing Like a Fool specifically for Dave. Despite its upbeat rhythm, it’s still a sad song. And it’s essential to Greta finding closure with Dave.

63618bee049d1123ab9faecc4675c1cc.jpg

Finally, the last song that’s recorded is Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home, this time with the lyrics, and just before they begin recording, Dave calls Greta and asks to meet up.

Once again, the song is about uncertainty, but this time, the focus is on the idea of leaving your past in the past, which is what Greta is trying to do with Dave.

After this, everyone is elated that they are done, except Greta, because recording the album is what made her escape her troubles with Dave. She agrees to meet Dave, and she learns that he’s stolen Lost Stars and recorded it in a ‘radio’ style. This is when she finally snaps, because she’s reminded of what she really is to Dave, and how easily he’s willing to overlook her for himself. Despite this, he still asks her to come to his show that night, and she goes.

Adam-Levine-from-Maroon-5.jpg

It’s interesting that this is the song that closes out the movie, because there is so much meaning to it. First, Dave actually sings the song how Greta intended it to be, and it’s visible on Greta’s face that this makes her happy. However, when Dave sees that he’s done his job in making her smile, he immediately reverts to his version of the song, and Greta leaves in tears.

As she rides away on her bicycle, it looks like she’s finally, really moved on, because by letting go of Lost Stars, a song from her past about her insecurities, she appears to have literally let go of her insecurities, and is looking up at a promising future. This indeed may be the case, as she immediately goes to publish her music online for only a dollar for the whole album, and proposes to Dan that they make more albums.

Begin Again is, in my opinion, despite many disagreeing with me, a beautiful film, that tells its story two ways. It’s about music, but also about so much more, and uses its music in a unique way. I’ve watched it five times, but I know there’s no cap on that number.

It isn’t, in any way, the greatest film ever. I just love it.

bagain

 

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Film Analysis of the Week

It was inevitable that this weekly series of mine would eventually lead to a comparison between book and film, and as it would be, here we are.

There is no Harry Potter film that is as removed from the book as The Goblet of Fire. It is, quite frankly, a bit of a tragedy. I say this knowing that a lot of people see this as the best Harry Potter film, and to be honest, if one completely ignores the book, this film actually is the most popcorn-in-your-face entertaining of all eight movies, including the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

That, in essence, is The Goblet of Fire: style over substance. And that’s putting it lightly.

As I delve into this, be warned that there are spoilers for both book and film, so, even if you have watched the movie but haven’t read the book, don’t read on. Seriously, just go read the book. You’ll thank me later.

harry-potter-quidditch-world-cup-hp.jpg

In a 636-page Goblet of Fire, it takes 150 pages for the book to even start the year at Hogwarts. That is how much there is in in the book. The Quidditch World Cup is barely given any importance in the film, and in doing so, the film even completely omits a character, of whom movie-only Potterheads would never even have heard: Ludo Bagman. Admittedly, the story works fine without him, but the Weasley twins suffer a big blow in this film because of this. Probably the least prominent plot point of the Goblet of Fire is Fred and George Weasley trying to kick-start  a joke-selling business for themselves, and Ludo Bagman is a big part of this. Even if this is a tiny sub-plot, it’s worth noting that the very last thing that happens in the book is Harry handing over his Triwizard Tournament winnings, of 1000 galleons, to the Weasley twins to help open up their shop.

What has to be understood when removing little moments like these is that they are of great significance. In the Half-Blood Prince film, the Weasleys do have their joke shop, and it would have been nice to know that Harry was the one that enabled them to achieve their dream.

That’s just an example of the most glaring flaw of the Goblet of Fire: it fails every single one of its characters. More on that later, though.

Even for a two and a half hour movie, this film has a very rushed pace, especially for someone familiar with everything in the book. The most noticeable effect this has is on the central mystery of the story: who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire?

strong-mad-eye-moody-1502806023.jpg

 

In the book, there are subtle hints at (fake) Alastair ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody being the one who did it. The two most memorable clues were that his house was supposedly broken into the day before Hogwarts was to begin its term, and that when Barty Crouch is found and then goes missing immediately, in the Forbidden Forest, Moody is at the scene a little quickly. That’s it.

The film, however, apparently doesn’t even try to conceal this for a surprising reveal at the end. Not only does it completely not have the entire Barty Crouch sub-plot (which is one of the most intriguing elements of the book), it gives Barty Crouch Jr. a stupid tongue-licking habit, that Moody does a couple of times, and then Crouch Jr. does in the pensieve memory Harry sees.

And to add insult to injury, the film tries to spice up this ‘mystery’ by placing two new ‘clues’ into the story. One is Moaning Myrtle telling Harry she saw some polyjuice potion in the drains, and the second is Durmstrang Headmaster Igor Karkaroff going into the Great Hall alone – to seemingly put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire – for no reason whatsoever.

0VwyqKuBTwbl

Now, if anyone dare as the question ‘why?’, both of those seem remarkably stupid. Why would Barty Crouch Jr. throw away polyjuice potion, the very thing helping him keep his cover? And why, since it is later revealed that he did not put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, would Karkaroff even ominously go into the Great Hall in the middle of the night?

Okay, moving on. The problem with removing the entire Barty Crouch story in the film is that it leaves a massive plot-hole. How did Barty Crouch Jr. escape from Azkaban in the first place? It’s elaborately explained in the book. The film just forgets and moves the story along anyway.

On a similar note, Frank Bryce dies at the beginning of The Goblet of Fire. That, I’m afraid, is all anyone who only watched the movie would know. Who is Frank Bryce? Why should we care about his death? Why was Voldemort in the house he was in? The book answers all these questions. The movie just wants you to care about a dead person, whose name you don’t even know.

Before I mention the bigger character disappointments, there are a couple of things worth noting. First, it is rather lazy that both Patel twins are in Gryffindor, when Padma is actually in Ravenclaw. It’s not a big detail, but, was it really needed?

harrypottergobletoffire_carousel_courtesyofwarnerbros3.jpg

Second, this is the first time we ever see students from other Wizarding schools, and seeing as there are only eleven in the entire world, with Beauxbatons and Durmstrang being the only two, other than Hogwarts, in Europe, why, with common sense in mind, would Durmstrang be an all-boys school and Beauxbatons be an all-girls school? This isn’t even the case in the book. Apparently, if you’re a young male wizard in France, you have to go all the way to England, or far up north, to go to Wizarding school. It just makes no sense.

The biggest criticism that most people have with this film involves one scene (so much so that it’s become a meme). Just after Harry’s name emerges from the Goblet of Fire, the Triwizard Tournament judges question Harry. Dumbledore, in the book, calmly asks Harry ‘Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?’.

JEOc66y

For some strange reason, Dumbledore in the film holds Harry by the collar, and very not-calmly asks him the same question.

This is not Albus Dumbledore. This is such a blatant betrayal of the character that it’s baffling how anyone working on this film didn’t do anything about it.

Finally, we’ve come to the biggest problem with The Goblet of Fire: It fails Hermione and Ron so terribly that it’s completely inexcusable.

The Goblet of Fire is a huge book for both Ron and Hermione.

emma_watson.jpg

Choosing not to include Dobby and Winky, Barty Crouch’s house-elf, robs Hermione of her entire campaign for House-Elf rights, which is one of the most defining things for her character. Furthermore, while Rita Skeeter is in the movie, her role is very brief. She has quite a big role in the book though, and Hermione’s ability to discover her tactics for all her undermining stories is another big moment for the character. The movie omits this too.

In the case of Ron, while it is touched upon that he feels in the shadow of Harry and that he doesn’t approve of Hermione’s relationship with Victor Krum, neither are ever really explored. Ron, in the film, is just a bad friend, which is actually not the case.

RonWeasley_WB_F4_RonJealousAtYuleBall_Still_080615_Land.jpg

In The Goblet of Fire, Ron feels bad because he is much poorer than Harry, and he does feel like he is always in his shadow. These are things that should have been explored in the film, because Ron is just bland compared to Harry and Hermione. In regard to his ideas about Hermione and Krum, the movie just makes it look like he doesn’t like her ‘fraternising with the enemy’, when it’s really Ron having feelings for Hermione but not expressing them properly. That’s the biggest dynamic between Ron and Hermione in the book, and it’s an important one for both characters. In this case, Ron does suffer more, because while one can really sympathise with, and understand, him in the book, the movie truly makes him seem like he’s a bad friend.

The tragedy is that The Goblet of Fire is the turning point of the entire Harry Potter series. Lord Voldemort returns, and it will always be remembered for that. The film should have been memorable, and I know that if everything I mentioned was included, it could easily have been an hour longer. But that’s okay. Every Lord of the Rings film is over three hours (The Two Towers being painfully four hours long in its entirety), and they’re all so beloved. This should have been longer, and should have included everything in it. The problem with sacrificing so much, just to make it a quicker, more entertaining film, is that all the characters lose out. It’s not like any other film in the series didn’t omit anything (it’s still unforgivable that Peeves does not exist in the movies), but every other film puts its characters first.

rehost_2016_9_13_324dabd7-6708-45cb-92ae-883209a5ecc3.jpg

The Goblet of Fire is my least favourite all of the films, but the funny thing is that it’s my second favourite book. Interestingly, my favourite book, The Half-Blood Prince, became my second least favourite movie. Perhaps there’s a correlation here.

Regardless, The Goblet of Fire is what it is. Style, over so much substance.

 

The Big Sick: Unexpectedly One of the Best Films of the Year

Imagine putting on a movie at seven in the morning, expecting a light comedy that would be a fun start to the day… And ending up in tears soon after.

The Big Sick is a film from earlier this year, following Kumail Nanjiani, of Silicon Valley fame, playing himself, in a story loosely based on his real life romance with Emily Gordan, played by Zoe Kazan.

Kumail is an Uber driver, whose family migrated to America from Pakistan, who is trying to kick start a career in stand up comedy by performing at a comedy club occasionally. He meets Emily there one night, and a story that is much, much more complex than I would have ever expected ensues.

Perhaps the fact that I don’t usually read synopses is why I was rather blown away, but this film is amazing. The only thing I heard was that it is really good, which is why I watched it in the first place, but I was not expecting to love it.

As a fan of Master of None, it is actually quite easy to find similarities between that show and this movie, but this cannot be a criticism because both are loosely based on their main character’s lives, and both deal with Sub-Continental immigrant culture problems.

The Big Sick is still funny, and the humour in this film is actually the best kind: subtle. It isn’t humour that jumps at you, and the movie doesn’t stop itself for a laugh. You never find yourself in uncontrollable laughter, but you are consistently smirking or giggling, and that’s perfect for this rather serious drama.

The bigger picture of The Big Sick is, however, love. Love between two people of completely different cultural backgrounds; love in the family and how conditional or unconditional that is; love between parents. It does, admittedly, sometimes try a little too hard to get to you, but that’s excusable because it does get to you. Anyone who has lived through cultural differences would be able to relate to the film, and anyone who hasn’t would be able to understand the difficulty.

That’s what The Big Sick does so well. Anyone can connect to it, because at the end of the day, everyone is human. Kumail Nanjiani playing himself is probably what makes him feel so natural in his role, but everyone else is great too, from Zoe Kazan as Emily, to Holly Hunter playing Emily’s mom, to Anupam Kher playing Kumail’s dad. Nobody is overdoing it because everyone’s just a person, and so the film feels very real.

There are only two minor issues with this film, and the first is the pacing. The first half is tremendously quick, and then the movie really slows down. I do actually like the pace after it slows down, but it was a little off-putting to see how suddenly the brakes were applied.

The second issue is that I did find it to be a little predictable at times. But I guess that’s alright, since I didn’t predict what kind of film this would be at all.

The Big Sick is a film that deals with the complexities of an immigrant’s life, and focuses on the very real subjects of love, family and culture. If Emily Gordan and Kumail Nanjiani can write something this wonderful, then I really hope they write more films. It would be a gift to the world.

I did not play this film expecting something that would go on my top ten films of the year list, but I am glad to be surprised. As a sucker for independent films, I was never going to dislike The Big Sick. I just didn’t expect to love it.

On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:

The Big Sick: MIHIR

Ranking All 17 Films in the MCU, From the Best to Iron Man 2

Nine years and seventeen films into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the most prominent take-away from this massive geek fest remains this: Marvel Studios set a milestone in cinema. Sure, they have inspired a number of film universes, all of which can’t quite do what the original has done, but Marvel themselves have been able to create an entire world that has lasted seventeen films – and quite a few more in the foreseeable future – without collapsing in on itself. Nine years ago, that was unheard of, and now we’ve come so far that films like Guardians of the Galaxy are mainstream.

So, it is natural that some films in the MCU are better than others, and it is likely that everyone has a definitive ‘best’. It is quite a challenge, however, to rank them all in a list, but I’ve decided to anyway because I like doing this.

As I usually mention whenever I write one of these, my opinion does not have to agree with yours.

17: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron-Man-2-Still-War-Machine-Mark-V.jpg

I may have given this one away in the title. Spoiler alert, sorry.

Iron Man 2 is the most pointless film in the MCU. With the character of Iron Man already introduced in Iron Man, this film did nothing but set up The Avengers, and also feature laughable villains and a story that you have no reason to care about. This is the only film in the MCU that really shouldn’t exist.

16: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

e9729c3f88cb468dfd81d94d352133d4.jpg

The Incredible Hulk isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just rather forgettable. Maybe the fact that The Hulk was recast for The Avengers (which was definitely for the better), or maybe it’s the fact that it’s actually the least Marvel of all the films on this list (thank you, Universal).

What this film did prove, along with the 2003 monstrosity Hulk, is that the Hulk is far better a character with other superheroes, rather than on his own. And that he was, in both Avengers films and Thor: Ragnarok.

15: Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron-Man-3.jpg

It’s quite sad that both Iron Man sequels rank so low on this list.

There are two things that are good about Iron Man 3. The first is that it tries to tell a very personal Tony Stark story, which I thought was wise, even if the execution was questionable. The second is that it is definitely a Shane Black film.

What doesn’t work is everything else. Having Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley play the villains sounds fantastic, until you watch the film and see that one of them is a joke… And the other is a fake. It doesn’t help that The Mandarin is one of Iron Man’s greatest foes, and the updated version of the character (supposedly) in this film was actually working magnificently, until the reveal. If he was a serious character, Iron Man 3 would have been much, much higher on the list.

Sadly, it isn’t.

14: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

landscape-1464794943-thor-2-the-dark-world-official-photo-fighting-marauders.jpg

The second Thor film is… Fine. It introduces an infinity stone, but it also gives us a truly terrible villain. It’s entertaining enough.

There’s not really much else to say about the film. It’s fine. Nothing less and certainly nothing more.

13: Thor (2011)

Thor and Jane.jpg

Having two Thor films be back to back on this list should speak for itself.

There is actually some really good stuff in the first Thor, though. I actually like the fact that his powers were taken away. It made the character… Human. He had to rediscover himself, and that was nice to watch.

However, it does not fare well in comparison to all the films that come above it in this list, and personally, I’m not the biggest fan of how Kenneth Branagh directed this film. It feels rather… Flimsy? I’m not sure how to explain it. Let me just say, the often tilted camera angles didn’t really work for me.

12: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

avengers-age-of-ultron-hd-wallpaper_1_1920x1200.jpg

This, by far, is the biggest tragedy on the list.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a film I actually really like, but I cannot deny that it is very flawed.

Ultron, although beautifully voiced by James Spader, is tremendously underwhelming. Beyond this, the film can be rather unfocused at times because it sets up way too much.

However, I do like what they do with Hawkeye. The character needed it a lot.

11: Ant-Man (2015)

disney-TQ221981WDSHE-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1486479219793._RI_SX940_.jpg

Ant-Man is a film that I actually love. It’s only at number eleven because the films at higher spots are better.

Ant-Man is a great origin story whose biggest flaw is that it has a rubbish villain. I am a fan of the heist element of the film, and the supporting cast too. It manages to take a film that everyone thought would be a joke and make it a solid closing chapter for Phase 2.

And Paul Rudd is always amazing.

10: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

original.jpg

This is a film I happen to like a little more than most people.

Captain America: The First Avenger is rather strange, but it does own the fact that it is set during World War II, and doesn’t shy away from making itself feel that way, even if that means it’s a little over the top sometimes.

Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull was a standout villain for Marvel, and fans still hope to see him make a comeback because he technically didn’t die in the film. One can only hope.

9: Doctor Strange (2016)

doctor-strange-feature.jpg

Doctor Strange, contrary to the previous entry, is a film I actually like less than most people. The villain, especially since he was played by Mads Mikkelsen, was a disappointment.

However, Doctor Strange’s originality, breathtaking visuals and clever ending certainly earn it a lot of points. I’ll never quite have the same experience with this film as the first time I watched it in theatres, but it is one of the stronger ones in the MCU.

8: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)

07.7f8e91d9.jpg

Admittedly, this film is likely to be this high because it’s fresh in my mind, having just watched it again. I do not care.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 can be rather slow at times, and some of the humour doesn’t work, but it is still a touching, funny, personal story, with a good villain. I particularly connected to Rocket, somehow.

It also helps that the Guardians truly do feel like a family, and that Yondu is elevated significantly. This film does have more feels than most – if not all – MCU films, so, it deserves to be this high up.

7: Iron Man (2008)

ca-0417-ironman03.jpg

From this point on, making this list became incredibly difficult. All seven at the top of this list are so good, and so frustratingly close in terms of how good they all are, that I will certainly rank them in a way that perhaps nobody would agree with me. This being the internet, of course, I wouldn’t even be surprised if I received death threats for this.

The first ever film in the MCU was a spectacular one. Iron Man, sadly, is not the best comic book movie of 2008, and that’s only because the greatest comic book movie came out in the same year (and I’m not talking about The Incredible Hulk). The original origin story, which Ant-Man and Doctor Strange may have some parallels with, is gripping, entertaining, and it took Robert Downey Jr. to all new heights. I only wish Iron Monger was a little better.

The excellence of the first Iron Man is what makes its two sequels such sad letdowns.

6: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

thor-ragnarok-2.jpg

You either love this movie, or you hate it (because, obviously, on the internet, you aren’t allowed to have an opinion that isn’t an extreme), and I’m gladly on the side that loves it.

Following two films that rank so low on this list, Taika Waititi took Ragnarok and made it his own, creating the funniest (with all the humour being great) Marvel film to date, but one which is not without heart. Thor: Ragnarok’s main problem is that it is quite heavy with exposition, but looking past that, it’s a tale that gives us the Thor we’ve all waited to see, and a Hulk that has changed a lot since the last time we saw him.

It’s a film that sets itself apart from the rest of the MCU, and that’s its biggest strength (absolutely not foreshadowing anything here).

5: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

captain-america-winter-soldier-16.jpg

This is probably the spot on the list that is most likely to get me killed.

The Winter Soldier is a fantastic film. It made Captain America, a previously cheesy character, gritty and awesome. It is arguably the most grounded Marvel movie, and is more of a political thriller than a superhero movie, which is a plus.

The only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the scene pictured above, in which a computer version of Arnim Zola dumps information onto the audience, complete with visual aids, and is then immediately destroyed because he has served his purpose. In a film that worked so well because of its subtlety and realism, this scene felt horribly out of place in an otherwise perfect film.

The Winter Soldier: very, very nearly flawless.

4: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

thumbnail_25242.jpg

Embarrassingly, I did call Spider-Man: Homecoming the ‘best MCU film to date’ in the very title of its review, and to be honest, a part of me does stand by this.

The top spot of the MCU is currently being contested by four films, and honestly, I do think Homecoming has the fewest flaws of them all. I love how it feels like a John Hughes film. I love how the cast is filled with actual teenagers. I love how perfect Tom Holland is. I love Michael Keaton’s Vulture. And I pretty much love everything else about the film too.

But the top three are just more (and I hate to use this word)… Epic.

3: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

e826e5b4e3208d9ab102b85748fb6d78.jpg

It is worth acknowledging that Captain America: Civil War isn’t without flaws. It does have a couple of plot inconsistencies. But at the end of the day, this is my opinionated list, so I just don’t care.

Civil War’s greatest accomplishment is making its conflict not only about the idea of The Avengers being associated with a government, but also something personal. This is a great improvement upon the comic series. There is so much more weight to the story.

The airport battle may have everyone pulling their punches a little bit, but the point is that they are all still close friends and most of them don’t even want to hurt anyone and are just there out of loyalty or other reasons. The only ones with real interest in doing whatever it takes to emerge victorious are Captain America, Iron Man, The Winter Soldier, Black Panther and possibly War Machine and Vision.

The contrast comes later on, when the conflict is very personal. After Tony Stark finds out what really happened to his parents, the following fight is raw, unhinged and real.

This is what is really overlooked with Civil War, and the Russo Brothers. Nothing happens just because. Everyone could have tried to kill each other at the airport, but they didn’t because they can’t just forget about their histories, and they don’t have anything really worth killing each other over. That changes when the characters really do have something that could urge them to fight to kill.

Another criticism is that nobody dies, and the Russos answered this themselves by saying nobody needed to die to further the story along. This is one of the most unspoken strong points of the MCU. Apart from the villains, the three major deaths in the MCU are Phil Coulson (still dead in the movies), Quicksilver and Yondu. The first death is the very thing that propels the Avengers to be better, and to be a team. The second is what allows Scarlett Witch to really unleash her powers to their full ability. The last one is the perfect ending to Yondu’s tale. After being alone and living a life of mistakes, he died in a family, doing the right thing by sacrificing himself to save Peter Quill.

Every major death in the MCU has deep significance, and that deserves to be recognised.

Anyway, Civil War is a massive nerd extravaganza that makes me go insane, and be quite moved by its wonderful plot, at the same time.

2: The Avengers (2012)

The-Avengers.jpg

The Avengers is a treasure.

Culminating Phase 1 and finally bringing all these characters together, The Avengers could have been a disaster by not being able to balance so many elements.

Thankfully, Joss Whedon crafted a masterpiece, one that only gets better every time you watch it because you appreciate all the fine details even more.

Loki serves as the perfect villain, and the chemistry and interactions between all the characters are beautiful. Marvel could have fallen flat on their faces and never have been able to pick themselves up, but the exact opposite happened.

Also, it’s just awesome.

1: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

ft090260_r.jpg

Now this is where everyone who has thought about killing me so far but hasn’t tried yet will definitely try to kill me.

Guardians of the Galaxy is not as flawless as Spider-Man: Homecoming, not as deep as Captain America: Civil War and not as mouth-watering as The Avengers. The villain is not the best. But when it comes down to me having to choose my favourite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s this one. No other has a place in my heart quite like it.

Marvel Studios has never taken a bigger risk, and probably will never take a bigger risk, than with this film. Guardians of the Galaxy is funny, wildly entertaining and just balls to the wall insane.

James Gunn’s space opera is so removed from the rest of the MCU, and so greatly original (okay, maybe I was foreshadowing this earlier), that it becomes its own thing entirely. It’s the Marvel film that stands out the most because it’s the most different, tonally, musically, structurally and almost in every other way. Guardians of the Galaxy, in one film alone, was able to create a more detailed and vivid world of film than the rest of the MCU up to that point combined.

The biggest strength, of course, is the Guardians. This oddball group of weirdos aren’t your conventional team that saves the world (or galaxy), and that makes the film feel fresh and makes for some great fun. But it’s this non-cohesive nature that makes you connect to the characters more, and makes their journey of finding trust and love in each other more touching.

The Avengers are a team. The Guardians are a family.

James Gunn took some of the most obscure Marvel comics material and turned it into something special. I don’t think Guardians of the Galaxy can ever be topped. At least for me.

 

Which 2017 Comic Book Movie Will Be the Most Memorable?

There were seven comic book movies released in 2017, and that’s an astounding number. It should signal saturation – and Justice League’s abysmal opening weekend revenue could be an indication of that – but the overall quality of this year’s big budget extravaganzas has been rather good. That’s actually a bit of an understatement.

2017 has seen Marvel back at it with three strong entries, albeit one of them a little disappointing, the two best DCEU movies so far, by a long margin, one absolute masterpiece from Fox, and an oddball from DC.

The natural question is, which one is the best?

The following ranking does not necessarily reflect the ratings I have given each movie. My ratings depend on a wide range of factors, from story to technical prowess, but this list is defined by my personal opinions of each film, and how memorable each will be in the near and distant future. Also note that these are my opinions.

7: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

guardians-galaxy-vol-2-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000.jpg

As much as it hurts for me say this, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the weakest comic book movie of the year.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best – if not the best – films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but its sequel simply is not at the same level.

It’s not a bad movie. In some ways, it’s actually better than the first. However, it is overflowing with too many jokes that don’t work, and it can be rather slow at times.

I refuse to see this film in a bad light, and that is undeniably because of bias for these characters and James Gunn. However, I cannot call it a film that is better than any other on this list.

6: Justice League

xwettnhpmn5p3zodzy04.0.jpg

It is impossible for me talk about this movie without imagining someone holding a gun to my head, ready to pull the trigger if I so much as hint at anything negative.

As much as I’ve said it before, I liked Justice League despite its obvious problems. I won’t get into them here, but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by the film, and that’s all I really asked for.

It’s funny that we’ve come to a point where a movie titled ‘Justice League’ comes sixth on a ‘most memorable film of the year’ list.

5: The Lego Batman Movie

legobatmanmovie-1280-2-1486205402178_1280w.jpg

The biggest debate I had with myself when making this list is where to put this film and the one I placed just higher than it, but in the end, The Lego Batman Movie falls just short of number four because the other film is simply more memorable.

But, The Lego Batman Movie is brilliant! It is the only film on this list I have not reviewed, because the film came out at a bad time, but when I did watch it, I had the most fun I’d had with a movie in a long time. This film is a spoof and it knows it, but even in the midst of all the humour, it also has quite a lot of heart to it. It probably has more re-watch value than any other film on this list.

4: Wonder Woman

wonder-woman1.jpg

Wonder Woman is not perfect. But my (Greek) god, it is good.

Wonder Woman has two basic problems. It’s villains are laughably bad, and the final battle is yet another CGI mess.

However, there probably isn’t a film I’ll remember more from this year than this one. Patty Jenkin’s fresh directorial debut in the DCEU revitalises it after two sub-par films and one atrocity. Wonder Woman, aided by a smart script and an inspired performance by Gal Gadot, is hopeful, inspiring and an enthralling experience.

This is the bar for all future DC films.

3: Thor: Ragnarok

thor-ragnarok.jpg

I will not deny the fact that Korg has a big part in this film being ranked so high.

Thor: Ragnarok takes the weakest trilogy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and sends it out with magnificence. Taika Waititi helms an exciting, distinct and truly funny film, and makes it his own. It is nothing like what anyone imagined a Ragnarok film would be, but I wouldn’t have it anyway.

2: Spider-Man: Homecoming

spider-man_homecoming_reboot_box_office.jpg

Apparently the third time’s the charm with Spider-Man, and the frustrating reboots were all worth it after all.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is inspired by John Hughes films, and there is nothing more perfect than that. This is a film about a teenager that really feels like a film about a teenager, with real teenagers in it. Even Flash Thompson, who is nothing like the classic Flash Thompson, works in this film, because it’s updated to be modern. This makes the one distinct characteristic about Spider-Man stand out in this film: he is an adolescent struggling with enough problems aside from being a superhero.

It’s this deep understanding of what it is to be Spider-Man that drives this film, along with Michael Keaton’s Vulture being truly terrifying.

I love Spider-Man: Homecoming more than most people, and I am okay with that.

1: Logan

MW-FH148_LoganM_ZG_20170302111413.jpg

Just… Wow.

Logan is in a league of its own. James Mangold’s raw, gritty send-off to Hugh Jackman feels like an independent film more than anything else, and it thrives with its relatively low budget.

Tasked with saying goodbye to Hugh Jackman after seventeen years, Logan sets itself apart from the rest of the muddled mess Fox calls its X-Men universe, and is its own personal, mature story. Inspired by Unforgiven and The Wrestler, and set in 2029, Logan explores themes of right-vs-easy, fatherhood, loss, loneliness, trust and many more. It demands a brutal performance from Hugh Jackman, and it gets one.

What sets Logan apart most – and sets any comic book movie apart – is that it is real. Even in a world of mutants, Logan manages to be down to Earth, and that’s why it’s so powerful.

The perfect final hurrah for Hugh Jackman made for 2017’s best comic book movie.

Justice League vs The Avengers: Which is Better?

It might be a little premature to be writing this on the weekend of Justice League’s release. It could also be the perfect time, considering it’s all the buzz right now. Regardless, I’m writing this.

It is inevitable that comparisons have been, and will be, made between The Avengers and Justice League, and among all the cries against this idea, I embrace it because the only way things can be better is by trying to beat competition. Sure, The Avengers did come out five years ago (five years?), but given the fact that both cinematic universes ultimately led up to these films, they are basically parallels.

If you would like to read my spoiler-free Justice League review, you can do so here. Moving forward, there will be spoilers, so, you have been warned. Also, please don’t be annoyed if this doesn’t agree with your opinion. We’re all entitled to our own.

img01.jpg

In a DCEU riddled with challenges, Justice League is a gem of a film. It is nowhere close to perfect, but unlike Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, it is actually good. However, the first thing that has to be mentioned is that it is a little bit too short, which is quite ironic considering Batman v Superman was the opposite. An apparent two hour forty-five minute cut was trimmed down to two hours because Warner Bros. wouldn’t have it any longer, and if you really think about the film for a while (which is why I did not mention this in my review), you start to see why this was a bad decision. The introductions of the new characters worked for me because I’m familiar with them, and even the really tiny introduction The Flash received didn’t matter to me because I watch the television series. However, for someone who isn’t completely familiar with the characters, their introductions could seem a little murky and unclear.

There are also a few character arcs and moments that are a little bit questionable, especially regarding the dynamic between Cyborg and Aquaman, which clearly has something missing. An Ultimate Edition has already been announced, and this I actually look forward to, but it shouldn’t exist in the first place.

-1x-1.jpg

On the contrary, The Avengers is a film that has an essentially perfect run time, and is completely cohesive. Having just re-watched the film, it’s easy to appreciate it more with every viewing. While I do think Justice League should have been released in its entirety, it is how it is, and by default, The Avengers is a better cut film.

Performances are not something I am going to consider here. Everyone is perfect.

Where Justice League does greatly outdo The Avengers is in its cinematography, which is to be expected with a Zack Snyder film. While there is nothing wrong with the way The Avengers looks, Justice League brings with it a more artistic, detailed frame all the way through.

justiceleaguetrailer02jpg.jpeg

Justice League also does a slightly better job of balancing its characters. The Avengers handles its cast marvelously, but there is no denying that Hawkeye isn’t given quite what everyone else is (this is made better in the sequel, but that doesn’t matter in this context). As I mentioned in my review, Justice League doesn’t really have anyone who can be considered a weak link.

Beyond this, however, Justice League falters, at least in comparison to The Avengers. First, and most certainly foremost, Steppenwolf can’t be compared to Loki. Strangely, Marvel win in the villain category here, and this isn’t just due to the fact that Loki was so good. It’s also because Steppenwolf wasn’t.

It may have helped that Loki was already in a previous movie, but Loki in The Avengers is motivated, menacing and vulnerable. He’s more than just a one-dimensional monster, and you can actually understand his motivations, to the point where you can sympathise with him.

Black_Widow_and_Loki.jpg

From start to finish, The Avengers is less choppy and is more of a journey through an epic than Justice League. While I do not have an issue with the structure of Justice League, if I had to choose one, I would have to go with The Avengers on this.

Another big plus for The Avengers is something I actually mentioned in my Justice League review, and it’s that Alan Silvestri’s score elevates the movie to unprecedented heights, which is something I desperately wish Justice League also had. The Avengers score is so iconic, and feels so appropriate, that even in an MCU with generally forgettable scores, it is one that will be remembered for ages.

Technically, sound design is flawless for both (as it should be), but (and this is surprising) The Avengers win on CGI too, which is mostly due to Cyborg’s CGI being rather noticeable at times.

Justice League does tremendously feel like a one-director film, despite being directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon at different times. The Avengers does feel more like a Whedon film (naturally), but even as someone who loves films that feel like something their director would create, I cannot say The Avengers is a better directed movie, because Justice League is directed quite well.

The obvious conclusion, however, is that the film that came first still reigns supreme. However – and this is important – I did need to watch The Avengers again after watching Justice League in order to write this, because initially, I thought Justice League was quite close in terms of overall quality. It deserves credit for that. After watching The Avengers again, however, it’s clear that Justice League isn’t quite on the same level, even if I really did like the movie.

It’s just that The Avengers is damn near perfect.

gallery_movies-the-avengers-group-shot.jpg

Does Justice League Do Justice to Itself?

Maybe something that one should take with them when going to any movie is low expectations. It just makes anything good so much better.

Having walked into Justice League with three years of anticipation and three years of being disappointed (except Wonder Woman), I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got, ultimately, was a film that has a good script, understands its characters beautifully, is a stunning visual experience and is just tremendously fun. I haven’t been this surprised by a movie in a while, and I certainly haven’t been pleasantly surprised in a long time.

The run time of Justice League is only two hours, and considering this movie had to contain its story, while introducing Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash, I was naturally concerned that this wouldn’t be a very fleshed out movie for the main characters. I was wrong.

Steppenwolf has arrived on Earth following the death of Superman (something which the film tries a little too hard to hammer into an audience that already knows he’s dead), and is on a mission to collect all three Motherboxes that have been left on Earth following a previous attempted invasion in which the Amazons, Atlantians and men of Earth united to stop him. After being in exile, he has returned to claim Earth, which is in a bit of a chaotic situation with Superman gone. Bruce Wayne has taken note of the incoming onslaught, and with the help of Diana Prince, assembles the Justice League to stop Steppenwolf from taking over Earth.

So, as complicated as that sounds, the film does a pretty good job at presenting this in a cohesive way, and Justice League actually features a self-contained, good story.

The elephant in the room, however, is Steppenwolf himself.

justice-league-movie-villain-steppenwolf.png

Steppenwolf is definitely a threat in this film. He is menacing and it’s easy to see why a whole team is needed to take him down. Despite this, there is no escaping the fact that he is not a memorable villain, mostly because he is incredibly one-dimensional. The villains of the DCEU have been victims of this, with General Zod being an exception. Years from now, people will look back at this movie for the amazing portrayal of The Flash, among other things, but few will really remember Steppenwolf.

Let’s start with The Flash, then. Despite having a reserved spot in my heart for Grant Gustin, I had no doubt that Ezra Miller would be fantastic as Barry Allen, and I was not disappointed. Beyond the performance, it’s clear that the big budget aided The Flash greatly, because sequences in which he runs around in slow motion, or even at normal pace, are threaded with tiny details like sparks flying from the friction from his feet.

6c8bac09d1009f63e3bdc530290b0c5818ec06a2.jpg

The returning Wonder Woman and Batman play pretty good parents in this film. Both characters are clearly the most mature, with Batman being a superhero for the longest (at a stretch) and Wonder Woman having the most knowledge about Steppenwolf. Their chemistry is great, too. Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot once again prove why nobody else would fit these roles quite like they do.

Cyborg has a pretty personal connection with the central story of the film, and Justice League uses him quite well in the movie. Ray Fisher arguably has the most subdued performance of the film, but it works well for the character.

Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman, meanwhile, is not the Aquaman people love to troll. This is a version of the character nobody would want to mess with, and Mamoa not only owns the role, he looks like he’s having a great time.

justice-league-final-trailer-00.jpg

With quite a big roster, the film does justice to all of them, and is true to each of them. They are all distinct from each other, and nobody feels like a weak link. It manages to introduce the three new characters effectively, while not stopping the movie from moving forward in the progress.

It’s also worth mentioning, because everyone knows Superman is in this film, that this is Superman. For the first time in all of the DCEU, Henry Cavill’s Superman feels like Superman, and that makes me so happy, especially considering what I wrote in my Batman v Superman analysis. There is one issue I do have with the character, that really has to do with the screenplay, but I won’t say what it is because it is a spoiler.

What Justice League does beautifully is take a Zack Snyder vision, with a Joss Whedon script, and blend it wonderfully. This film looks magnificent, and its script is cohesive and intriguing.

landscape-1504266508-justice-league-1.jpeg

There are a couple of issues I have, although not glaring. These are simply issues that make the film not perfect, and no film is perfect.

There is some exposition, especially regarding Steppenwolf, that I am not a fan of. I don’t like a character telling the audience things in general, so, it’s not something I can really hold against the movie.

Cyborg’s CGI could have been a little better, but maybe that’s just me.

Finally, the film’s original score is… Forgettable. While the tracks on its soundtrack are actually pretty great, Justice League doesn’t have a great original score to accompany it. Even today, you can think of that iconic scene from The Avengers, when all six are standing around each other. The score truly makes that scene something special, and even now when you think about it, the score plays in your head. Justice League doesn’t quite have that, and I think that’s a bit tragic because this is a film that deserves a memorable score.

Justice League is a great movie with flaws. It handles its main characters brilliantly, while its villain is not the best. However, it is paced perfectly, structured well, has a good script, looks beautiful and is, without a doubt, the best DCEU film so far. Hopefully, this indicates a bright future.

On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:

Justice League: MIHIR