All my grievances can be attributed to the script and editing. The first blatantly obvious setup of the movie is that it divides the women and men from each other. Not literally, but it basically creates two pens to hold the characters in, one labeled 'Good' and the other labeled 'Bad'. Even when you have Harley Quinn, a mass murderer, and certifiable villain, the film sticks her in the 'Good' pen. Only men are labeled as bad since little is done to develop these characters from being more than one dimensional. It helps make the 'Girl Power' message easier to implement as this plays more like a generic low budget affair than what's expected of a 'comic book movie'.
Another point of extreme pain for me was Casandra Cain, played by Ella Jay Basco. Her performance could have been edited weirdly or just didn't fit with the overall tone that the film, but it was horrible. Her line delivery and acting was cringe-worthy as it never seemed like she belonged with everyone else. It's a shame because the character is in most of the movie. Somehow, this major grievance isn't the worst thing either.
Black Mask, for the uninitiated, is an iconic villain for Batman. So debuting him in an offshute picture seemed fine to develop his origin story. What I don't apprieciate is how the ending handles him as a character. The amount of disrespect and laziness that this 'girl power' shitshow uses to wrap him up, visibly shocked me in the theater. I couldn't believe what just happened.
Aside from characters and acting, Birds of Prey fails to be the fun light-hearted romp that it thinks it is. The situations that characters get into are low stakes until the very end, and almost none of the humor hits. The structure in which the story is told is entirely wrong, and a more traditional style would have helped for overall pacing and intrigue. There just isn't that much fun being had as most of the runtime focuses on voice over and scenes dedicated to driving home the 'girl power' message.
Birds of Prey was bad, boring, and at the end, very upsetting. The vibe that was promised, a fun picture about women winning and men losing was only half delivered as there was nothing fun about it. The failure to capture the tone was the fault of editing, specific performances, and the horrible use of music. Some might take offense to how beloved characters were changed, but I personally was only affronted by how Black Mask was treated at the end. If you go see this, you're either a DCEU fan that thinks Batman v. Superman and Justice League are good movies or an agenda-pushing person that might not even see this at all. To everyone else, stay far away from the theater as the hope of interesting action sequences will fail you just like this picture did when it promised to be interesting.
The 'girl power' message is thrown out the window when a female character uses their connection to a male character as protection and abuses that
a distinction about 2019, how we got here, and what's in store for our future. It focuses hard on a character, taking us through their day to day life and asks if it's acceptable. There is no fantasy to bail you out and no over the top elements to distort the message. The bleak reality of the situation is handled with care and pristinely presented.
It's a one-man show, Joaquin Pheonix is front and center for every single second. There is never an instance where you get a different point of view, Matt Damon in The Martian has nothing on this. His portrayal of a man, contorted by society and always being put down, is hypnotic as evolution happens right in front of you. No big event happens that causes the change, it's a slow burn that boils over.
This is a character study, something that is said a lot about this film. That choice can be attributed to Todd Philips, co-writer and director of this depiction. He said he wanted to make a small and important film, but blow up its attention by putting it in a big property. It's this approach that takes Joker from just being a comic book movie to being a straight-up drama. It crosses over to traditional film in ways only a few have. It grounds itself in such reality that Nolan's trilogy looks light.
Sadly, with so much to say, most are not listening. People are declaring that there is too much violence portrayed, that it creates a sympathetic murderer. These complaints are like being angry about a documentary showing off murders and their lives. Joker aims to depict and the blatant reality of the situation scares people. Aiming only to inform does not create the acts more dangerous, you see way more violence in a Deadpool or Marvel movies than you will see here.
Joker is not a perfect film, there were quite a few leaps in logic toward the end. It does, however, get a pass from me since there is so much more it is trying to say. There are sequences in this movie that honestly had me glued to the screen. The attention to detail in color, framing, and excellent use of music pushed this over the top. It's the best thing I've seen this year, which isn't saying much but still holds quite a bit of weight.
"I wonder how sheltered the people must be, who don't understand what this movie is trying to say"
scene was filmed; meaning, you never know if what you're about to see is going to be good or bad.
Let's focus on the good for a second. This movie is funny. There are so many jokes that land, and some land hard. If you thought Deadpool was funny, this takes the cake in a lot of ways. The best thing about the comedy is that it doesn't need to stoop to meta jokes or breaking the fourth wall; all the funny bits were contextual to the story and were pretty well delivered by the actors. There were a few on the nose references that were tasteful but the rest were truly well constructed.
Another thing that really worked about the movie was Zachary Levi as Shazam. He did a great job carrying the film with Jack Dylan Grazer, who played his friend Freddy. Their chemistry was spot on and perfectly replicated the relationship of Josh and Billy from Big. The rest of the cast was fine, but the other standout was Mark Strong who plays the villain. He is a really great working actor who tends to steal scenes from the movies he's been in and this is no exception. The characterizations that each actor embodies were pitch perfect and I didn't really have a complaint with the child actors.
But as I said before, there is a lot holding this movie back. Not only the low-budget locations but especially towards the start, I feel like I'm watching an ugly indie. This problem works in tandem with another problem that bookends the film. The ending, more specifically the weak second act break and entire third act, do this picture a real disservice. Up until this point, I could describe Shazam! as a rough around the edges, good time at the movies. With the ending included, it feels like it just committed suicide, it's that bad. I could forgive the drawn out and boring action scenes at first, but when that's the only thing you see for 10 minutes, it really got on my nerves.
Other than some weird music transition choices and cheap camera tricks to sell superpowers, the movie is fine. While the lows of Shazam! really hurt, it honestly does a great job at making you have fun. Unlike other mediocre movies, this one has highs, mountains that loom over the low points unlike contemporary Captain Marvel which is content being middling throughout. Its overall low quality is a sore point though as I wish some of the budget wasted on the ending was put back into making it a more well-rounded movie.
I feel like I was overly harsh on this movie in some aspects. Its funny, hands down. It makes you laugh, it has those touching family moments, and it doesn't overreach with its special effects. I think the shock of the scale of the movie really got to me, but once you accept that fact, there is a lot to enjoy. Its third act still sucks hard and has a sprinkling of problems throughout but I wanted to reconcile that this movie rises above.
Wasn't Big enough and fell apart by the end
The thing that stood out the most about Aquaman came from its story construction. Aquaman doesn't have scenes, it has moments and they are all crafted exactly the same. It starts with a setup based on a familiar trope, then some build up followed by a joke. Sometimes the joke is a subversion of the trope, other times it's just a one-liner or a surprise. This is the only way the movie is constructed; just a bunch of these moments back to back from the very beginning. After two and a half hours of the same thing over and over, I was ready to leave the theater.
This problem seeped into the locations the characters visited. Though there were many exotic places, I felt like I never got to spend any time there. It's like the movie was a train and I stared out the window, never knowing more than just a couple of seconds of superficial detail.
The dialogue was a mixed bag, which is really weird since it actually had some interesting ideas. There were great lines of dialogue butchered by the delivery which was disheartening. All of the leads did a good enough job, but it was the side characters that consistently underperformed.
The action scenes were a pretty big disappointment as well. James Wan's signature style of shooting hand to hand combat sequences was in full effect. Complete with camera spins and tracking shots, the over the top action was definitely on display. The problem that I did not foresee however, was how much Zack Snyder would influence Aquaman visually. Wan liberally used freeze frames, slow motion, and virtual camera moves to nauseating effect. It straight up ruined a few action scenes, depriving them of weight and impact.
Aquaman is a movie that was entirely spoiled by its trailers. The first trailer shows off all the plot points for the movie and it only gets more egregious for the rest. It's lack of story coupled with its predictability make it really hard to watch. None of the characters have an arc; Aquaman starts the movie not wanting to be king and ends it as king only because he had to. It feels like the movie could have been better if it wasn't changing genres every 20 minutes as well. This is perfectly reflected in the soundtrack when the movie goes from action to techno, jumping from classic adventure to Pitbull's cover of 'Africa'. The movie is all over the place but people will love it because the DCEU now has jokes. "The lightheartedness isn't the basic problem that needs to be fixed here. The overused and unearned moment is DC's greatest foe" is one of the best quotes that sums up what went wrong with Aquaman.
It may steal ideas from seven other movies, but it constantly pushing forward made it not boring