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Film Review: The Batman (2022)

INTRODUCTION

If there is one superhero most of the directors wish to direct, the global audience gets mesmerized, and comic geeks would always love to talk about for hours, it is Batman. The new line of work about Batman and his city was planned back in 2014 when Ben Affleck was writing, directing, and starring as Batman in this very film. Entered Matt Reeves and Ben’s ideas and creativity about the entire project went off. Matt Reeves was a very fitting selection after his artistry behind the Ape trilogy. His vision behind presenting Gotham city and the inspirational elements he was willing to apply in this project plus the casting for the major characters was topping the expectations. I happened to watch The Batman a couple of days ago. So let me try to analyze.

Bruce Wayne is fighting against crime in the city for the past two years. Officer Gordon summons him to scrutinize a crime scene committed by Riddler in which the mystery to catch him is directed only to the Batman. With his involvement comes anger amongst Gotham police as no one trusts him besides Gordon. While trying to discover the next targets on Riddler’s agenda, he meets Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman through crimelords Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. Penguin, and Carmine Falcone. During all this, Bruce also digs to find answers about his deceased father Thomas Wayne. While the film enters into its final hour, it is a little late for Batman to realize that the entire Gotham city is under major threat.

Matt Reeves opened up to Esquire that his influences for making this film were some 1970s classics like The French Connection, Chinatown, Taxi Driver,  a critically acclaimed comic-book story ‘Batman: year One‘, and rock band Nirvana. This pretty much shows how clear is Matt’s vision. Besides Year One, the film will a lot remind of ‘The Long Halloween storyline. 

CHARACTERS

Let me first talk about the characterization of Batman in length. Robert Pattinson as Batman had mixed responses when his selection was announced. He is not the same vampire and has improved a lot in his performances as well as picking films. This character has always been judged as Batman but not Bruce because the audience is unlucky to not have watched much of Bruce Wayne as a Gothamite who is loyal to his city and a philanthropist who is generous for welfare. Only a few minutes are given to this side as the film centers around the dark knight who fights crime usually at night. So once again, Bruce’s heroism was limited just like in the previous films about Batman. There was certainly a reflection of the good side of Bruce in the memorial scene; but if you notice Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne, this rich guy doesn’t really look so dedicated to the city as he has always been in the comics or previous films. He takes crimefighting very personally as an act of revenge after the murder of his parents. This is confirmed in the beginning phase when Bruce doesn’t show any interest in his company’s financial affairs when Alfred tries to convince and he responds what he is doing (at night) is his family’s legacy.

Plus Bruce as a person in this film looks more natural in characterizing this antihero than in any of the enactions before. Robert Pattinson’s Bruce is more lost and sadist than any portrayals. He has a lot of rage with killer instincts and is about to beat some crook to almost death. This man is weird, he doesn’t portray an ideal rich playboy but is more of a thinker whose emotions have shattered away while trying to bring justice into this crazy city.

So when I say that this Batman is fighting crime for only two years in the city, that still counts as a rookie. And his two years of buildup as the phenomenal combatant still are not through to the physical challenges. He gets punches pretty quickly. Gets visibly exhausted like one in a bar when he wants to see Penguin. A major surprise to the audience is that this Batman is afraid of heights. Yes, he also fails in his heroics like when he tries to land after flying from the top of the Gotham Central Police Department (GCPD) tower. All this makes this Batman very realistic to the period Matt Reeves has set for Gotham.

Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman didn’t appeal to me as much as Selina Kyle. I felt if Catwoman was some forced character that was tried to fit into the mystery. Not that much was focused on Selina Kyle but was connected with Carmine Falcone that also looked pretty nonsensical. John Turturro as Falcone was a superb choice but the problem with the character is that the minutes on him are the least to focus on because he is always a sub-supporting character. Imagine Penguin being his chief lieutenant had more screen minutes than Falcone.

I am not sure why Colin Farrell was selected for Penguin with so many prosthetics and makeup done on the actor to look like Penguin. No doubt he did a fine job and he is holding a lot of promises for future films. Jeffrey Wright as officer Gordon has to be the worst character in the film. No, this is not about race swapping, Jeffrey is a quality actor and I am okay with his being Gordon. The problem is the characterization. In the entire film, he looked so dumb and desperate for solutions. I felt Gordon was clueless without Batman and had no guts to solve some of the mysteries himself. I was expecting a very strict and hardcore Gordon who has some hold even if he is just an officer because this is how James Gordon is.

Andy Serkis as Alfred did a fair job although it was a short role. The character doesn’t remind me of any comics storyline but fair enough as the film is very much based on Matt Reeves’ vision. The comics version of Alfred has never been portrayed in the films.

Paul Dano has been a very underrated actor throughout his career and he deserved a role that will make him remembered by the mainstream audience. He needed this push. When his name was announced for the film’s main antagonist Riddler, I had this feeling that this is a very serious and intelligent choice. Because Riddler has always been taken for fun. This time the director made sure that Riddler will now have the fun. This is a remarkable psychotic portrayal of Riddler and marvelous execution. I was fully sold on what I watched. The threat he imposed on Gotham and tested Batman’s heroism was genuine.

In such a lengthy film, I felt there was a lot of space to fit at least three characters in the film. One was Gordon’s daughter Barbara who will become Batgirl. With so much screentime of showing up together, Gordon could have introduced Batman to his young girl. The other is Ted Grant a.k.a. Wildcat who taught Catwoman boxing and streetfighting in one of the storylines in Catwoman’s comics. Wildcat also holds the distinction to be one of the few comic characters who trained Batman. And the third is Leslie Thompkins, the doctor who helped raise Bruce Wayne when he lost his parents. Leslie has been a motherly figure to Bruce in comics and was also a close friend to his father Thomas. When Batman was digging for answers in the middle of the film about his father, he could have asked for Leslie’s assistance or just met her for a few minutes.

SCENES

Bruce Wayne’s commentary in the beginning and ending drives me towards the comics. Both scenes of his commentary shots on some catchy scenes were like many first pages of the storylines where a major character or the writer addresses the intro to give a particular start to a comic book. The lines narrated by Bruce are so comics-oriented.

I am thankful to Matt Reeves for breaking the tradition of dramatizing the murder of the Waynes. This scene is so popular that those viewers who do not follow superhero films know about Batman’s tragic childhood story. Instead, this incident was used in the news bulletin that looked more appropriate to proceed with the story in the current timeline.

In the beginning, a group of thugs attacks a man and they have all painted their faces like Joker. Whereas Joker’s cameo happens when the film is finishing. So the portrayal of street gangs indicates that Joker terrorized the city and influenced the gangs to adopt his cult. Batman put him in the cage and perhaps dropped down some criminal activities. One of the guys in the gang is Jay Lycurgo who incidentally also stars in other Gothamverse, Titans as Tim Drake. Interestingly, he is the odd one in that gang with half makeup. So is he inspired by Two-Face? Does Two-Face already exist?

One of my favorite scenes in the film is the public memorial of Mayor Mitchell. The direction is master class, and Robert gives a thoughtful performance. If anyone observes this memorial scene, Bruce was silent all that time besides the two words he uttered in question to the lady running for mayor, “I’m Sorry?”. He observed the memorial from top to bottom, left to right, every possible important person or a thing he could have checked in for clues. And then a noise breaks out indicating a possible terror attack from far a distance panicking everyone in the memorial. The next half a minute you watch after the breaking of the exterior noise is what Matt deserves applause for. How magnificently a terror attack was picturized! Notice everyone who reacted to the noise. Every single attendee reacted naturally, no one showed a sign that this was some scene to act. This is the director’s determination I am much impressed with. He wanted every single extra to behave naturally to the threat. This was the most perfect terror scene I have watched in years, if not decades.

One of the things I really liked about the film was that Batman and Riddler, the main antagonist, had only one encounter in the entire 176 minutes. And the hype lived up to it. It was intense and mad. But one of the heavy surprises was Riddler saying his name in a stretch. So does he know that Bruce is Batman? Yes, he knows. Riddler is a smart guy making his crime mysteries the hardest to solve. So it will be a piece of cake for Riddler to figure out who is behind the mask. Plus, Riddler was looking straight at Bruce in the memorial. No? Why would he do that? Of course, he knows who Batman is.

In the comics storyline ‘Batman: Hush‘, Riddler correctly guessed about this. The audience may feel as if that’s a plothole. Why would Riddler not expose the real identity to the world? Because if he exposes him, who will he play the riddling game with? Where lies the beauty of guessing if Riddler exposes him? The plothole is, how come no one listened to the conversation between them in GCPD and found out that Batman is Bruce Wayne?

In one of the last scenes of the film, Batman saves some lives and it is quite cogent when he rescues one of the Gothamites on the stretcher and she in all trauma holds his arm while Bruce narrates in the background that vengeance will not change the past, he has to become more and people need hope. Perhaps Bruce realized at the moment when one of Riddler’s followers called himself a vengeance, that his being vengeance is not helping and giving a wrong influence. He has to make alterations to his gloomy despair to bring optimism to living in this city.

Although the film didn’t allow the viewers to get thrilled with the most anticipating face-off. But the deleted scene after the film’s release gave the viewers a glimpse of the clown prince of crime and Batman’s biggest archenemy Joker played by Barry Keoghan. With Keoghan’s selection comes a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of both Matt and this 29-year-old talented Irish actor to play one of the most challenging roles in Hollywood. He surely is the first actor to become Joker in a film who is not a well-established actor. By that, I mean he, as an actor, is not there where Joker actors like Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix have reached and decorated their names and careers. Incidentally, each of them has won an Oscar in their lifetime.

Of what I have watched in that brief clip, I believe Barry’s version has to be the most horrifying (and for weak-hearted viewers the most terrifying) Joker ever presented in the film. Since Heath Ledger’s Joker, every time a new Joker has shown up in either film or television format, the character has looked more deranged and psychotic which is actually challenging and thoughtful to test up to what extent can Joke be dramatized to madness. And how much insanity can an actor prevail?

With plentiful scars, a very few hairy portions on the burnt head, bloody hands with broken fingernails, this Joker looks like a subject of severe self-torture after all hell broke on his personal tragic life. And the voice is very similar to Heath’s Joker. He also looks to gain some emotional control with skeptical remote insanity. Observe his polite response to Batman when he reads the file. It was a smart move to shoot this scene as blurry towards Joker and reveal the facial disgust later. I predict this is going to be the most intelligent Joker ever to surface in films. And if he really makes a partnership with Riddler as depicted, Gotham shall not be ready for this merciless showdown. So, really excited to watch him in the sequel.

MUSIC

Great ideas do not muddle. The use of Nirvana’s track ‘Something In The Way‘ in ‘The Batman’ was apt. It was played twice, in the beginning, and in one of the last scenes. We don’t often listen to the same track more than once in a film. So why did Matt Reeves give this much importance to the track in the film? This has something to do with the elements of rock, rage, dominance, sadism, and revenge. These elements, besides rock, are common in both Batman and Nirvana. More than rock, Batman has been more about the symphony and his city Jazz and Blues. Batman’s commentary and the song’s lyrics also match the dark fate of the city. There is the line in the song “And the animals I’ve trapped have all become my pets”. This pretty much suits Batman’s personal trophies from his crimefighting where animals like crocodile, penguin, cat, bat, and a few more are his pets.

After Hans Zimmer blessed our ears with one of the most beloved music scores for Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy, it is a multitude of challenges for any composer to come close to Hans and give a score for the Batman films as memorable as that work. Matt’s frequent collaborator Michael Giacchino tried his best and made a decent attempt. Let me halt comparing and talk about Batman’s new theme. Many Star War fans around the world are in for a treat to get mesmerized by this theme because that is an obvious reminder of one of the most iconic Star Wars themes, Imperial March. Imperial March associates with Darth Vader and with that wrath comes a piece of music that represents the rage of hellfire. If Giacchino actually took the inspiration from a theme about one of the most iconic supervillains to apply to one of the most iconic superheroes, he certainly deserves praise. This Batman theme sounds more broken and vexated, some buildup of a nightmare on the criminals appalled by the Dark Knight.

ISSUES

As explained above, from my point of view, most of the characters didn’t do justice besides Batman and Riddler. Besides, the role of GCPD was below par portrayal like any action film that doesn’t will to give some prominence to their crime-fighting. GCPD looked extremely compromised and clueless, and so was Gordon. Maybe the theory is that GCPD would have gone so dysfunctional all this time that the city got destroyed by so much corruption. But still, GCPD and Gordon were not good enough in the film.

Gordon summons Batman to solve the crime scene. This was the first time Batman was directly involved in GCPD’s case. I am more unreluctant to understand how Batman and GCPD fought crime before this for two years. If Gordon believed in Batman, how were they fighting crime in that period? Was there no bigger threat or major villain who showed up two years before Riddler?

The film in the middle was dead meat. The screenplay consumed a lot of time in searching for the clues and trying to identify if Thomas Wayne was a bad politician or if he was framed for death.

‘The Batman’, as a whole, has a more television show feel than a film. The editing of the film makes you think if four or five episodes have been attached together and shaped into a film. Due to this reason, the cinematic feel of watching The Batman is dingy. The making of this film does support the classic filmmaking element of neo-noir and there is no doubt about Matt Reeves’ direction for the film has been exceptional and innovative.

I am not convinced with the final phase of the film after Batman understands the threat Gotham is imposed. The writing of this phase looked flat. It was just another action-packed phase like any superhero film with not much extraordinary effort in writing. Bombing the city, lookalike henchmen terrorizing, predictable action scenes, etc. I felt a quality of writing was fading before and after the bombing.

QUESTIONS

Barry Keoghan in a cameo appearance shows up as the clown prince of crime and Batman’s biggest archenemy, Joker. After the release of the film, Matt Reeves releases a deleted scene of around five minutes of Batman’s interrogation with Joker. I am not sure why was this decided by the makers to remove this scene from the final cut. This scene held a lot of importance and would have worked in the middle of the film while Batman tries to catch Riddler. It is an open secret that Joker will show up in any of the future Batman films. It is impossible to complete Batverse without him. So it is illogical to delete this scene. And if the director wished to keep the audience thrilled by Joker’s existence in the last phase, why release the deleted scene then?

Will Riddler return? I think he will. But I feel technically his time is up and should stay imprisoned in the Arkham Asylum and let Matt Reeves let him pass the torch to Joker and other future villains. Riddler’s mission failed and hence, makes no reason to bring him back but rather focus on other bad guys. There are so many who deserves their time in this Batverse. If the plan is for a trilogy which is highly likely, then the villains will be limited to the most popular ones.

Catwoman leaves Gotham in the final scene. That is another technical conclusion of the character, just like Riddler. And there are many ladies to become Bruce/Batman’s love interest. This Batverse can work on introducing the photographer/reporter Vicki Vale and develop a love affair with Bruce like in the comics. She was the closest of all the Gotham characters to theorize that Bruce could be Batman. If Matt Reeves consider Talia, that will lead to all new dimensions and start a story towards Ra’s al Ghul. Jezebel Jet can also play the part of a woman who plotted to destroy him while secretly working for the Black Glove in ‘Batman R.I.P.‘ storyline. or maybe it is time to introduce Kathy Kane a.k.a. Batwoman in this universe and we watch both Bat man and woman fight the crime in their costumes. Is bringing a heroine in Batman films really important? Depends on the writer/director that how he pushes his script in the continuity. But Bruce has been a playboy so there is a certainty. It will also be wise if no more woman enters his life as Robert Pattinson’s Bruce maintains a dark emotional journey.

Mayor Mitchell was killed at the start and his kid showed up a couple of times. Why? The Batman looks at him and surely remembers his time. So who is he? Is this boy Robin? It is quite exhilarating that in the first instance, the boy looked at Batman at the crime scene and the next time, he looked at Bruce Wayne in the memorial. Such a dramatic touch!

It is quite a touch of framing a kid into theorizing a solid future of crimefighting. The origin story of Robin aside, it will be quite an interesting idea to buy for the sequel where the boy gets picked by Bruce and pays for his well-being. And in the third Batman film, Bruce begins to train him which leads to joining him as a crime partner. I would love to see that happen.

But in this theory, the problem is the boy’s age. He is too young to become the boy wonder. That is the other case if the timeline jumps in the sequel.

CONCLUSION

‘The Batman’ holds technical brilliance in dialogues, cinematography, writing, and direction. The film holds a lot of promises for continuity. The characters that didn’t live up to the expectations can get developed in the sequels. The Batman broke a lot of traditions like not bringing back Batman’s hoarse voice, not dramatizing the murder of Bruce’s parents, dismantling Bruce’s close-to-perfect rich personality, and applying a lot of realism.

The film’s cinematic accomplishment is that most of the audience is not willing to take down Matt Reeves’ imagining of Gotham and understanding of Batman and argue that The Dark Knight Trilogy did better. That trilogy has earned the respect of all the noble courts of comics. This film scales itself from that respect and distinguishes itself from the acceptable aesthetics of Batman’s world. It is a promising trilogy to the hype with new and fresh expectations. Perhaps, another memorable trilogy about Batman is surfacing in the coming years to earn new respect. Time will tell.

Another major plus that separates ‘The Batman’ from all the past films centered around Batman is that this is a detective film. Batman has been a crime fighter all his life but first, he is a detective. Comics have always emphasized his role as a detective more than a crime fighter. The directors in the past usually dramatized the films based on Batman as a crime-fighting superhero. Matt Reeves understood the character precisely and presented his true characterization. And that’s a win for me.

The Batman has room for improvement, there are issues that I addressed above. But I also admit that this is a spectacular start. I want the epic plunge into the cosmos of wholesome brilliance in Batmanship. Hope the bite doesn’t get rotten.

RATINGS: 8.4/10

Film Review: The Tender Bar (2021)

The Tender Bar is a kind of film that has thoughtful elements of good and bad choices, regrets and lucks, learning and yearning, and goes deep to understand why life always entreats you to move on. This film is a subtle approach for a coming-of-age film to fix the equation of a generational attitude towards learning. With a credible narration, remarkable scenes, powerful dialogues, and an astonishing screenplay by William Monahan, The Tender Bar beautifully reflects on our own life and somewhere do we see ourselves there and agreeing with most of the points most of the major characters speak.

The Tender Bar also reflects on a disturbing childhood and we all audience can relate to the incidents happening in the film. The detailing of this film is done with meticulous care, even the shorter portions have your memories boxed somewhere like the elders smoking or using curse words in front of a child, grandpa farting, parents threatening, mama persuading to join the ranks of a certain institution, a conversation with a fellow passenger on the train, etc.

The Tender Bar bites to harsh realities and also hints you to some people who will always be truly yours, your guide, a parental figure under whose guidance you learn a lot of deal. The film is about accomplishing your targets, fulfilling your dreams, falling in love for the first time. The film is about keeping your mom happy after what she has been through.

The technicalities of this film are just excellent. Brilliant direction by George Clooney and he must get the deserving nomination for the Best Director in the Oscar, really fitting soundtracks, and magnificent performances by Lily Rabe, Tye Sheridan, and Ben Affleck. The latter definitely deserves a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Good to see Ben Affleck back in shape.

The Tender Bar is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning writer J. R. Moehringer‘s memoir of the same name easily the best coming-of-age film I have watched since Call Me By Your Name.

Ratings: 8.7/10

Dawn Of Justice – The Ultimate Case (Part-2)

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This part will touch some more important issues and aspects related to the film Batman v Superman (BatSup). Before I begin, I must remind the readers here that this blog is continuity to the previous blog. So the first timers of the ultimate case here should first read the previous part here.

BEST SCENES

 

1) COLLAPSE OF WAYNE BUILDING

Although it was General Zod‘s wrath on Metropolis as Mr. False God tried to avoid as many casualties as he can but it was too late and severe was the collateral damage. One of the damages perforated the owner and made his mind to save the entire human race from the culprit even if there was a 1% chance. The visual presentation of the collapse was intense and powerful. And the collapse was where the rivalry came to birth. Scenes after the collapse will remind the comic readers the story-lines, Batman: Cataclysm and Batman: Aftershock.

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2) GRANNY’S PEACH TEA

No matter how bad was Shah Rukh as Lex Luthor, he did a cruel favor to Senator Finch and viewers by teaching a very expensive lesson. The court hearings abruptly paused by the scared Senator when she witnessed the jar. To the standards of a deceiving villain, this was unpredictably more than a cruel punishment. Luthor played an astonishing strategy behind the scenes and successfully manipulated much of the outsiders of court to gash more hatred towards a False God.

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3) BRUCE WAYNE’S WORKOUT

The Batman of 40s cannot offer you much of the 127 styles of martial arts he learnt in young age in his prime fighting career but he performed impressive workouts which was highly necessary to present.

4) THE GLADIATOR MATCH

This was the match written in the clouds. As Lex played the role of Michael Buffer by announcing and adding more spice by billing the fight as God versus Man, Day versus Night, Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham, this created more intensity. Result? I found a much heavenly comfort to see the fight between the iconic heroes and that turned out to be jubilant. The fight surpassed my expectations. This is exactly what we all needed. Plus the glimpse of fight is somewhere similar to the writings of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. One cannot ask for a better fight between God and man than this.

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5) ARRIVAL OF WONDER WOMAN

As much as Lex proved an overacting jester to me, his creation shattered the level of curiosity to know him. Doomsday was Lex’s answer to destroy the MOS. The battle was deadly but it was more like a hard struggle of lowering down the sound knob of stereo system when it is the loudest when you are very far and your parents are about to enter home.

Anyhow the battle met its peak at the sudden arrival of Wonder Woman who as Diana Prince was walking hither and thither before. I would say the flow of that battle action sequence was so deep to me that I couldn’t realize that the one who saved poor Batman’s ass from Doom-Doom wouldn’t be the recharge Superman on the space but her. Wonder Woman theme was very impressive but the intro of WW was far better than the other two heroes in the film.

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WHY BATSUP DIDN’T COME UP TO THE EXPECTATION?

 

1) DEADPOOL

Not many have noticed and tried to analyze as what exactly made the response of general public so negative. What deceived them? Why did the film with so many promises become unacceptable? In my view, the first reason was the funny guy in the red suit. Deadpool was released a month prior to BatSup. Being r-rated, Deadpool wasn’t a huge threat to the film’s business as Captain America: Civil War which was released after it. But Deadpool the superhero and Deadpool the film met an unexpected universal appraisal.

Contrary to philosophy and filmmaking of DCs, Deadpool was a highly entertaining popcorn grabbing comedy film which won heart of all age of viewers turning the tables wrong on the producers of BatSup who were prepared to show a very dark humorless presentation of the film a month later. Being the highest grossing r-rated film, such success built uninsured change in emotions among the viewers in tatters as the overjoyed viewers of Deadpool fell in their graves in the theaters to find the film awful. Naturally it was like watching any Terrence Malick film after any of Frat Pack films.

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2) UNDERSTANDING A UNIVERSE DIFFERENT THAN MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

Being a DC Comics lover, I have a lot of respect for Marvel comics as both the giant comics publishing companies created the most loving superheroes in the golden age for generations. But what hurts me is such a powerful cinematic universe of Marvel are more inclined towards box office collections than the character development of their superheroes. Filmmakers in MCU produce popcorn grabbing circus films where the focus is on winning hearts of the viewers by entertaining them. The producers are more focused on eating peanuts in circus rather than reading to us Marvel’s best comics stories. They make their superheroes jesters in the court. We see superheroes performing slapstick, acting silly and speaking one-liners. Films like Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Age of Ultron were all funny films. Recently released Captain America: Civil War made a mockery of all involved major superheroes fighting in airport and joking/apologizing while punching each other.

As Marvel Studios were the first among the comics publishing companies to create a cinematic universe with the help of Walt Disney Studios, it became acceptable for viewers to recognize the films based on Marvel superheroes as the true comics cinematic industry. There was no competition in years as WB were focused on Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Trilogy. When The Dark Knight Rises was released,  MCU were concluding their first phase. This year with the release of BatSup, MCU have entered in their 3rd phase.

Many of the DC superheroes are not that universally recognized as Batman and Superman. Even the third hero of trinity who is Wonder Woman never got a single film before this in 75 years, so is the case with other heroes. So for the viewers, it will take time to understand the existence and culture of this universe and its heroes, and their powers and villains. It is pretty hard to expect their heroes to be as funny and perform slapstick as heroes existing in Marvel universe.

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3) IMPROPER CONSTRUCTION OF DCEU

After announcing the birth of their cinematic universe rival to MCU, the biggest challenge for the big bosses of DC/WB was to create a distinguished, recognized but an acceptable universe. WB lacks no finance to fund the DC films but it was all about the best brain creating a perfect theory before forwarding a proposal. For me the outcome was very strange and questionable.

In Oct.2014, when WB announced 10 DC films to be produced and released between 2016 and 2020, it was a massive disappointment to see every JL superhero gifted a solo film but not Batman! (Superman had his MOS before all this)

Besides that, film for Green Lantern, being such a beloved superhero among the comic readers was adjusted last which gave a hint that he will be introduced to us pretty late. Shazam indeed is a potential name but wasn’t DC’s original property in first place. Shazam character was created under Fawcett Comics and ran the issues until the company shut down. In 1972, DC publisher licensed Shazam from Fawcett and revived.

Two JL films were slated in different future timelines, the first part being the fourth in line to release even before solo films on Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg with no proper introductions which brought more confusions to understand their strategy towards assembling a team of heroes so early and so undefined with underdeveloped characters.

The reason why the story of BatSup to the viewers in theater fell so incoherent was the very reason described in previous paragraph that for assembling a team in so near future, they made the film look overstuffed.

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4) BRINGING TWO ICONIC HEROES FACE-OFF TOO EARLY

Indeed historic announcement of bringing BatSup together at San Diego comic-con three years ago was crazy which made the attendees and viewers lose their mind in excitement. But some brains surely began thinking as what made them brought none other than Batman in to Superman’s world? Was that their only key to challenge or announce a new universe rival to them?

Bringing Batman meant connecting two different worlds in same film with more than one story. With recent conclusion of Nolan’s trilogy, reintroducing Batman in mere four years was too early. Producers needed some more breathing to watch a new Batman. Nolan’s and Zack’s Batman were very different, could have been better if he had been given his own standalone film first and later introduced him to MOS.

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5) RELEASED PG-13 THEATRICAL CUT

This was the major reason why the film received negative reviews by critics and general public. A 150-minute film released in March worldwide offered us a confused broken story-line making every viewer Sherlock to magnify and puzzle the broken pieces himself/herself. The editor who chose to cut no less than 30 minutes lacerated very very critical and defining moments of the film due to the fact, the critics and general public turned clueless and gave up.

Had the producers decided to release the 182-minute original cut in first place, the critics would have penned positive reviews and would also have made the percentage bar rise above in Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. The general viewers would accept and the box office collections would definitely hit a billion-dollar mark. Like I said before, I waited months and watched the original cut at first place, and I admit that this version meticulously made more sense than the released one, defined the core characters more broad and created a more cohesive transition.

ADDITIONAL FOOTAGES IN ULTIMATE EDITION

 

Like I wrote above that many of the important scenes were badly cut from the released version. Let me notify you the deleted scenes proving the laziness of WB for forwarding the film without pointing or realizing what a terrible mistake that was;

1) Jimmy Olsen wasn’t introduced in the beginning.

2) Superman wasn’t shown helping the rescuers pulling out dead bodies after the blast in court which after that he flew in disdain and left the scene with the witnesses sharing negative responses.

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3) The very next scene, Lex Luthor rushed to LexCorp only to spot a damaged glass-box with no kryptonite. It never showed the viewers that Lex Luthor had seen the footage from one of the CCTV cameras that Batman entered the LexCorp office and grabbed the element. Had they shown this scene in released version, would make sense for viewers how in the world the Caped Crusader got the Kryptonite.

4) Both scenes featuring Jenna Malone was cut from the released version which made the viewers pay a very heavy price of dislikeness. Malone played the scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, Jenet Klyburn, who has a couple of scenes in the film of sheer prominence. UE version clears that she is the one to whom Louis Lane hand over the bullet for scanning  which was shot and found in Africa.

In the other scene after the blast in court, it is again she who confirms that the same bullet and Wallace Keefe‘s wheelchair were made from the same metal and the inside of wheelchair was lined with lead. And we know Superman’s weakness that he can detect any solid object but not lead. Without this confirmation in released version, viewers would have raised the question how come Superman didn’t detect a bomb in the court.

5) The most important cut from the released version easily was the moment before the arrest of Lex Luthor which shows the upcoming JL villain Steppenwolf. His cameo before the arrest of Lex Luthor in UE was a very critical bombshell on the viewers after watching the whole film. WB will regret cutting this scene from the released version. An angry departure of his hologram existence after communicating with Lex Luthor raised questions. Was Lex aware of Steppenwolf’s existence even before he planned to take on Superman? Was Lex already in talks with him? Was creation of Doomsday idea of Lex or his? and many more. But in any case, his short appearance in ultimate edition made some sense of properly introducing the commander of parademons. The announcement of his being main villain was unnecessary if they had included this vital scene in released version.

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HOW DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE SHOULD HAVE BEEN CREATED AND PRESENTED?

 

Ok I know the existing universe will run as planned whatever the case is but I have every right to forward my idea of a better and acceptable universe than this. Because in first place, I disagree with the decided structure of this running cinematic universe due to the reasons I explained above in Improper Construction of DCEU.

I need no urgency or haste to play cat and mouse game in order to come close to Marvel and their universe. If WB would hand me this responsibility, I would prefer presenting origin stories of iconic heroes over a gladiator match and assembling of JL at the speed of light. My creation of universe will have phases (say Phase I, II, III and so on). For a better foundation, my pillars in Phase-I should be strong enough to hold the next phases.

My Phase-I will have 8 films, seven of these will be origins-based solo films for each original member of the JL. Those members are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. The reason of strictly picking these seven heroes for Phase-I is because when the first ever Justice League was assembled as JL or Justice League of America (JLA), the above-mentioned superheroes were assembled to appear in The Brave and the Bold (issue#28) back in 1960 conceived by writer Gardner Fox. With seven origins-based solo films, my eight and final Phase-I film will be a proper JL film where all the seven above-mentioned heroes will unite to fight against one of the main allies of Darkseid.

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This is the most simplest way to present a universe with more breathing in origins and character developments in superheroes each film. Just like MCU did for their first and the most impressive phase. By second and third phase, all seven superheroes can proceed to complete their trilogies with other films to introduce other potential superheroes like Green Arrow/Black Canary, Booster Gold/Blue Beetle, Shazam/Black Adam, Birds of Prey, Teen Titans, Supergirl, Hawkman/Hawkgirl, Lobo and many more.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FUTURE DC FILMS?

 

With 81% record drop in box office collections in second week, WB was hit by a meteorite with the most harsh responses and many of the viewers complained the film to be humorless. For the sake of excellent collections from future DC films, the producers are compromised to add humor in a dark universe and fulfill their demands, so that their eyes would meet a glimpse of a colorful circus show like the shows which are produced by Marvel studios. This is like a gunfire on an old pedestrian walking in a narrow street.

Some sources say that many scenes of upcoming Suicide Squad are re-shot for adding humor. Zack Snyder also has cleared that upcoming JL film will have a lighter tone than BatSup film. My expectations can raise the bar only if the upcoming films offer me potential stories and strong connectivity with storyline of other films keeping a balance between humor and dark. A serious story like BatSup cannot offer you humor but may entertain you once you understand the characters and their worlds.

For me, my major concern in future DC films is seducing me with dynamic presentation of stories where the directors properly focus on hero’s character development and nurture him/her with the flow. No matter the film is dark or funny, the director should use the influences and creativity of great comic writers and apply in their story, the winner must be the true portrayal of superhero and the audience should provide a positive response.

Roping and involving Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck for upcoming JL and Batman standalone films is a brilliant decision from WB. A creative team of comic-book consultants should be established under Johns who would have authority to raise their voice over the scripts and screenplays.

CONCLUSION

 

BatSup case is a mature affair with super-excellent work on screenplay and action sequences. The characters, Alfred and Lex Luthor, offer you to listen the best and powerful dialogues whereas performance-wise Ben Affleck as Batman is the true winner and his portrayal will remind you numerous Bruce Waynes from comic books. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Amy Adams as Lois Lane play tremendous supporting roles.

Henry Cavill as Superman is a dignified figure but not signified. He has been impressive but after finishing two superhero movies, I am still waiting for some signature mark on the character. He is yet to remind me Superman from the comic books as Christopher Reeve defined him in his time.

No wonder how many great actors have played the role of Alfred Pennyworth but none of them remind me the character I read in the comics. Not only the films, neither Alfred of Gotham TV show nor the one in the game Arkham Knight reminded me. Hans Zimmer (in his final superhero film) and Junkie XL produced very impressive scores. Zack’s favorite cinematographer Larry Fong has done terrific cinematography like previous Zack films.

I would like to humbly request all of you who have read such a lengthy review or to which I call an Ultimate Case, to kindly avoid/ignore the released version and consider it as a bad dream but give a favor to yourself and watch the Ultimate Edition. May the future DC films does Justice, Amen.

FILM RATINGS: 8.3/10

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Movie Review: Argo (2012)

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Palpable… Stupendous… Outrageous… and Manipulating…

Historically savaged and well plotted…

Phewwww what more words should I use to praise Ben Affleck’s subtle efforts in directing one of finest movies of Hollywood. 2012 movie ‘Argo’ was the winner of 3 Academy Awards including ‘Best Picture’ in the 85th Academy Awards.

‘Argo’ is based on true events related to ‘Iran Hostage Crisis’. This event came to uprising after overthrowing Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and return of Ruhollah Khomeini who later on, became country’s supreme leader and called the-then Jimmy Carter government ‘The Great Satan’.

According to Wikipedia sources, Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981), after a group of Iranian students supporting the Iranian Revolution took over the US Embassy in Tehran. Six of the Americans survived the uproar and hid in Canadian Embassy. This is what the movie is all about.

The movie is an adapted screenplay of two different sources. One is adaptation from Tony Mendez’s book ‘The Master of Disguise’ written in 1999, which speaks about his secret life working with CIA, most specifically this event. The other source is Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 Wired article The Great Escape.

Ben Affleck’s central character Tony Mendez is a true character who did actually work for CIA for more than 25 years. He single-handedly attempted the most audacious escape along with those six Americans from Tehran in the political history of USA and CIA chapter. To bring the Americans back, Tony proposed an idea that no one could have ever imagined. He created a cover story about the Americans that they were the Canadian crew of film production who recently landed Tehran scouting exotic locations for a sci-fi film!!!

To make this fake story look real, Mendez contacted academy-award winning Hollywood make-up artist John Chambers (Star Trek, Planet of the Apes) to merge with a local film producer in establishing a film-production company (pocket-moneyed by CIA of course), so that they can publicize a fake StarWars-kinda movie under the name ‘Argo’ to produce an enough chance of reliability of fake sources in Tehran. Bravoooo!!!! Bravooo Mendez Bravooo!!! Who could have ever planned this??? Imagine the weight of convincing the government officials to permit him this bizarre idea to work on which if the operation somehow failed, can cause a world outrage or even become a national embarrassment of mishandling security of escapees on a high scale.

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‘Argo’ is a drastic political thriller. The storytelling is a tremendous manifest and the flow of it is untiring. Operations in the movie are blood-boiling and hectic, specially the airport-scene in the last half an hour is where the adrenalin is beginning to make an impact on your blood circulation. This is one such complete movie where the beginning and ending scenes of the movie leave your eyeballs stare the screen and perturb. While the middle part is a scintillating presentation of socio-political drama. The viewer who grows deep in the movie will make himself/herself in escapee’s place for rest of the movie.

Dialogues are frank and goes more realistic in panic scenes. Cinematography is vivid as colors realistically represent the typical Persian outlook of the 70’s-80’s. Sound department and score of the movie is phenomenal. Casting? This is one of most impressive aspects of the movie because there lies a very minor difference between the real faces and the reel faces. Even many of critical scenes are true like the man on a height burning an american flag, press conference of the revolutionary group, death by hanging on a crane and many more.

Performances? Ben Affleck as actor-director of the movie has significantly done a highly justifying job. He is the one solely responsible for an amazing picture. Superb acting!!! ‘Breaking Bad’ fame Bryan Cranston is the second most impressive and I believe he deserved to be more popular and highly nominated than Alan Arkin as ‘Best Supporting Actor’ in many award functions.

I won’t say the events/scenes in the film are all 100% true. Simultaneously, I won’t deny the fictional nature of the movie, that also played a very prominent part. Tony Mendez’s idea of fake movie, Canadian film crew, fake advertising/publicity was all absolutely true. In this whole filmy idea and CIA operation, Alan Arkin’s character of Hollywood producer is the only which is actually fictional.

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Thing which became controversy or shall I say ignored, was the contribution of Canadian Embassy in this escape. The Canadian efforts in the movie were very short and Affleck focused more on Mendez-material. The American escapees stayed at residences of the-then Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor and a Canadian embassy employee, John Sheardown. The latter character never appeared in the movie which is indeed very surprising. Four of six Americans resided in Sheardown’s house for 79 days.

But Ken Taylor is the man hugely responsible for making the Americans flew. He is the one who eared the US government officials to initiate an escape plan to bring the Americans back home. That wasn’t enough of his contribution, he even trained the Americans speak in Canadian accent and also bought the airline tickets for them. Ken Taylor’s role played by Victor Garber in the movie sounded like Alfred Pennyworth role to Bruce Wayne, short and mind your own business.  

The blame on British and New Zealand embassies of not helping the escapees is untrue and despite those highly intensifying scenes at the airport, the bitter truth is that Mendez stated in his book a contrary. There were simply no complications at the airport and flew away with ease.

Historical accuracies and fictional behavior of film making are different things but to shoot them, you have to consider hundreds of times that what part should be included and what shouldn’t be. Keeping in mind the most critical aspects related to events were all true, Argo offers well-gripped spellbinding movie of its attained height. It is easy to relinquish a movie based on political thriller but Argo is a justification of conscience, for a viewer to decide on what part shall he/she flow and agree.

For more info on the true events and the best articles related to the movie, kindly click any of these:

How accurate is Argo?

Hollywood rewrites history again in Afflecks’ Argo.

This article below is one of the two bases mentioned above, on which Argo was made. This is a must read:

How the CIA used a fake Sci-Fi flick to rescue Americans from Tehran.

Ratings: 9.1/10

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