Justice League – DeaconsDen Review

DC Films’ fifth film brings the team together at last. After being teased throughout 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince bring on Victor Stone, Barry Allen and Arthur Curry to combat an otherworldly threat. How does it fare?

So I have expressed myself in the past as someone who feels very positive about DC’s film slate. I adore Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and really like Batman v Superman. Wonder Woman is a treasure of film and so I expected to like Justice League as well.

And like it I did.

That’s not to say that there aren’t a couple of negatives to go along with my positives.

On the plus side, Justice League really plays like a big Saturday morning cartoon with action galore. I just had a blast watching these heroes do their superhero thing. There was, however a downside to this. It played like a filler episode of the Justice League/Unlimited series (which I highly recommend if you’ve never seen it). The story itself is pretty thin with a villain in Steppenwolf who is nothing special of an antagonist. He’s a little more interesting than Suicide Squad’s Enchantress and even Wonder Woman’s Ares, But to me doesn’t hold a candle to Lex Luthor or General Zod.

The film has a very obvious tonal shift that reflects the displeasure people had with Batman v Superman. While I think Justice League was always going to be a lighter film, you can tell they really tried to be lighter. As a result, aside from mentioning the death of Superman, it doesn’t quite feel as connected to those prior films. And for that I am a little disappointed. There was an operatic grandeur to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman that I felt was lost. Yet I hope that these changes allow more people to enjoy these movies. Personally I wish it felt more in line with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, if they wanted to move away from Snyder’s ideal vision. The film runs 2 hours which makes it pretty accessible, but I wished to have a little more time to enjoy the team, which is what makes the movie enjoyable for me.

The Justice League itself is the best thing about the film. The character interactions are great and the cast is fantastic. Gal Gadot continues to be the star of these films with her portrayal of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. She is the ultimate warrior and sometimes reluctant which sort of answers a loose thread from BvS that we weren’t sure of once Wonder Woman was released.

Ben Affleck continues to play Bruce Wayne atoning for his actions. The performance might be a little on the nose, but for me it does highlight the obsessive nature Bruce exhibits. Only now it’s the opposite. Instead of determining he needs to kill Superman he wants to save the world to honor his memory, to make up for his mistakes.

Ezra Miller plays a rookie Barry Allen who is learning how to be a hero. Miller might be the next focus of DC like Gadot. His humor on the team will play a bigger role as his character grows more confident.

Jason Momoa plays a loner type Arthur Curry who has no problem saying what he’s feeling and it adds a great dynamic to the team (there’s also a hilarious moment with him before the final battle).

Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg was actually one of my favorite things character related. His initial coldness and subsequent warming up to the team was a nice little arc as he wants to hold onto his humanity.

It was great having Amy Adams and Diane Lane back as Lois Lane and Martha Kent. Sadly with the runtime being 2 hours we don’t get much time with them and they don’t play that big a role in the events of the film.

Oh and Henry Cavill, is in fact in the movie. I don’t want to spoil anything else, but aside from a questionable production decision, I think people are going to be happy. His presence is felt throughout. He’s my favorite Superman. I just had to get that out there.

Justice League isn’t the best superhero film out there. No it doesn’t reach the heights of The Avengers, but as popcorn movies goes, it’s better than most. Despite having little to no plot with a weak villain, it soars thanks to its heroes who do carry the load. I do wonder that if Zack Snyder hadn’t stepped away to deal with a family tragedy, how things would have turned out. But for this DC Comics fan, I have a movie with superhero action that I can just watch along with 2 others that are among my favorites. I just wished it connected a bit more with those favorites of mine.

Final Rating: 3/4

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Gaming Gallery 4 – Injustice 2: The Premier Skins

A second gallery of Injustice 2 characters. This time, I want to show off the Premier Skins. These are character skins for specific characters that have just one look. However they do have separate voice acting and dialogue.

Vixen (skin for Cheetah)

Jay Garrick (skin for The Flash)

Reverse-Flash (skin for The Flash)

John Stewart (skin for Green Lantern)

Bizarro (skin for Superman)

Grid (skin for Cyborg)

Mr. Freeze (skin for Captain Cold)

Power Girl (skin for Supergirl)

Black Lightning (skin for Raiden)

Gaming Gallery 3 – Injustice 2

Today’s Gaming Galley focuses on Injustice 2. Created by NetherRealm Studios, Injustice 2 brings together an alternative version of the DC Universe where Superman has become a dictator and Batman leads the insurgent faction to stop him. You get to play as multiple characters in DC Comics lore and it’s a blast to play. The game has a gear system which allows you to create your own look for the characters. Here are some of the gear loadouts for some of my favorite characters.

Superman

Batman

Wonder Woman

The Flash

Green Lantern

Supergirl

Green Arrow

Black Canary

Starfire

Harley Quinn

Poison Ivy

Catwoman

Black Manta

Red Hood

Robin

Darkseid

Brainiac

Happy Death Day – DeaconsDen Review

Happy Death Day is a mystery thriller with a science fiction twist. The film stars Jessica Rothe as Tree Gelbman, a college student who wakes up to experience the day of her death over and over while she uses knowledge of the events to solve her own murder.

We’ve see this style of story many times before. The most popular of these is the comedy classic Groundhog Day. Much like that film, in addition to our main character being caught in a time loop, she’s also not a nice person at the start of the film. Yet what we do have that we didn’t get in Groundhog Day, is a nice combination of a sci-fi concept along with slasher film elements to create a well balanced thriller.

Although I was able to deduce the killer simply because I know slasher films, I enjoyed my time with Happy Death Day. Adding the time loop twist injected some freshness to a well known genre that can get stale at times. And I also felt it played on some of the audience expectations of the genre. Jessica Rothe has made a good first impression as a leading actress. She has done a really good job in capturing the many feeling Tree must go through during this mystery. I look forward to her future films and hopefully a sequel to this.

Happy Death Day might not be the leader of a new wave of slasher film like Wes Craven’s Scream series. However it is a well balanced and well paced (96 minutes) thriller that adds a new element to a classic genre.

Final Rating (3.5/5)

Gaming Gallery 2 – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

The Gaming Gallery is back. This time we’re joining Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross in the newest entry in the Uncharted franchise from developer Naughty Dog. These are some of the shots I’ve taken in Photo Mode.

Please note: these images may or not be considered spoilers.

Gaming Gallery: Horizon Zero Dawn

Photo Modes have become almost a standard feature in this current generation of video games. As graphical enhancements stand out more and more, the developers have given players the opportunity to become photographers within the game. Photo modes aren’t just screenshots, you are able to set the camera, fiddle with brightness and exposure, adjust the depth of field. So many options. One game that has one of the best Photo Mode’s is Guerrilla Games open world epic, Horizon Zero Dawn. Here are just some of the images I’ve taken in the game that I was proud of.

Atomic Blonde – DeaconsDen Review

Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine, an MI6 agent who is assigned to recover a list with the names of other operatives in Cold War Berlin. Theron is proving to become one of Hollywood's biggest action stars, especially after her critically acclaimed performance in 2016's Mad Max Fury Road. How does Atomic Blonde rate as establishing a new action hero?

The one thing Atomic Blonde has going for it is Charlize Theron kicking ass. And she does it well. There is some really visceral and physical fight choreography at work here. It's not stylized a la the John Wick films. There's a lot of punching and kicking going on. This adds to the realism of taking place in the late 1980s as a spy thriller, as opposed to an action extravaganza.

Atomic Blonde also boasts a solid supporting cast. We have another film with a great chameleonic performance by James McAvoy. In addition we have roles filled by John Goodman, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones. Every actor does a good job in their roles and help add to the historical context of the film.

The film features a soundtrack that is pure 80s as classic songs are used as well as covers of other songs. Combine this with the score by Tyler Bates and we have another element that attempts to immerse viewers in Cold War Berlin in 1989.

Action and atmosphere? Check. Interesting main characters in Theron and McAvoy? Check. So where does Atomic Blonde fall short?

Sadly it falls short in the story category. Despite the historic context that is presented, I just did not care about the main story at all. All I wanted was another action scene with Charlize. The film clocks in just under 2 hours but it isn't very well paced. Once you add the political intrigue which isn't at all, it feels much longer. It's a shame because it was a missed opportunity to bring real world history to the general action movie crowd. The story splintered the film into a spy thriller that wasn't very thriller and some great action.

Atomic Blonde is solid for the most part. I was hoping for more, but the lackluster story only has you wishing for the next action sequence. Great performances by the leads in Theron and McAvoy as well as an 80s atmosphere that immersed me. I just wish the connective tissue would have been more interesting.

Final Rating (3/4)