Friday, April 22, 2016

Hardcore Henry and Dawn of Justice.

Hardcore Henry

BOOM!!! Inspired by “first-person” shooter video games, this film is bad ass!

So the movie starts and the audience is seeing everything from the point of view of an eponymous “Henry”, a tattooed man who lost his arm, his leg, and much of his features in some unknown battle with a villain we are guaranteed to meet early on. He’s given cybernetic replacements by a wife he can’t remember and things immediately go to hell when the villain makes his entrance, forcing Henry to flee before certain procedures can be completed. And away we go!

“Crank” fans will probably see a lot of similarities between the two films as “Henry” subs for Statham’s Chev Chelios and is partly sent on the run and sent on a mission of vengeance when he has to rescue his wife from the Villain (who has telekinetic powers of some sort) and help his only friend in all of the mess, Jimmy. The movie is almost all non-stop action and all told from the point of view of the audience- so there’s quite a bit of shaky-cam work, but it all makes sense with regard to the narrative of the film.

Oh, and then there’s the grue factor- this film gets downright bloody and nasty with what it delivers. Heads exploding, bodies cut into pieces, knives through hands, and more than small fair share of other exploitation moments.

Hardcore Henry is a solid 4 out of 5.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

I don’t hate Zack Snyder.

In point of fact, I really enjoy Snyder’s body of work on the whole and I think he has a very unique and expressive visual style. I think he approaches material with an eye for detail and a mind toward exploring a number of themes; individuality, fighting despite the odds, and perseverance. He’s a director who took the source material from the Watchmen and actually had the cajones to insert a rebuttal to the nihilism of Moore’s original work near the end. He took an opportunity to explore a passion project that was, essentially, a remake of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and dressed it up as a fantasy adventure with “Sucker Punch”. And so I was incredibly eager to see his rendition of Superman with “Man of Steel”- and I was overwhelmed with the disappointment of it. Still, I had some hope- I saw stirrings of the Superman I wanted to see in Henry Cavill and I just knew that Snyder had a good superhero film in him- but then I saw the trailer for “BvS: Dawn of Justice” and all hope seems dashed to the wind. The reviews poured in- nothing really good in the echo chamber, but I knew I had to see the film for myself. Some friends liked the film- there had to be something worthwhile here?


Green Lantern wasn’t the worst film I had ever seen but it was largely panned… surely this couldn’t be that bad?

And it’s not- it really isn’t as bad as people are claiming, but there are things that don’t work and there is definitely a “fan edit” on the way. Someone is going to cut the useless “dream” material- someone is going to cut about thirty minutes from this two and a half-hour slog in order to deliver a more concise narrative that tells a much more direct story. It’s just unfortunate that this person was not Zack Snyder and it wasn’t Warner Bros. and it wasn’t anyone who will really count when all is said and done.


Ben Affleck is great as Batman. To be honest, the script seems to be written with the events of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in mind- moments from both films are lightly referenced in dialogue and a 20 year history is blatantly spelled out as Alfred interacts with Bruce in casual conversation.  The Dark Knight Rises, however, seems to not have been made during the first draft of this script and so there are no references… which is good, because I don’t think that was a good end to Nolan’s “trilogy”.

Gal Gadot literally SHINES on screen in the role of Diana Prince (AKA: Wonder Woman) and I was really looking forward to her appearance later on in the events. Disappointing as the finale was, it was awesome to see Wonder Woman standing where she belongs in the DC iconography.

Henry Cavill works HARD to be Superman- and he has a few great moments.

The initial reason for Batman’s mistrust of Superman is compelling- the film opens on a note made very sour for many viewers of Man of Steel; specifically the dismissive loss of life that occurred during Zod and Superman’s battle above the Metropolis. Bruce investigates a way to take on the Man of Steel and Superman seems too aloof to confront on a social level- much less on the personal level in which Batman witnesses during that rampaging battle in the skies. This is a compelling story at its core… but more on that later.


Lex Luthor. What?!?!! What was Eisenberg thinking throughout this performance? Honestly- my wife really enjoyed it and pointed out that he was a creepy, uncomfortable, and completely psychotic paranoid megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur- and that makes an awesome villain. It just doesn’t really make a Lex Luthor-type sociopath driven to destroy Superman. But never mind that-

Because there’s the freaking plot.

Here’s the thing- Batman doesn’t trust Superman, Luthor nudges them into a fight, and the two titans do battle. That’s simple- unfortunately, Batman isn’t really nudged by Luthor. Luthor somehow figures out the secret identities of both heroes and that revelation comes very late and without any degree of explanation. Batman, also, seems to be plagued by dreams of a “future” that may or may not come to pass- it includes an image of The Flash with a warning and an extended scene with minions of Darkseid ruling the barren post-apocalyptic wasteland of Earth. None of which has any sort of influence from Luthor or his supposed “machinations”… all leading to a huge battle that ultimately ends because Superman and Batman both have a mother named “Martha”.

I shit you not. And yes, that’s a spoiler that I gave without any degree of warning because I simply give no figs about it. They stop fighting because their mom has the same name and that stops Batman from striking the killing blow… and to his credit, Affleck is able to pull off the hesitancy in a believable manner but the damage is done. “Our moms are both named Martha!” I imagine two kids on a schoolyard claiming before they become the best of friends.


And then Luthor makes Doomsday. With Zod’s body.

And Superman is just plain DEPRESSING… can we get a single real Superman moment from one of these films? Please? Just one happy moment where he actually does rescue a cat rather than having Bruce mock such moments in casual dialogue? Please?!?!! Pretty please?!?!!!

5.5 out of 10.