BARE BONES: JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT (2019)

 

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JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT (2019)

Flick finds nothing much has changed since we last saw Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) in Kevin Smith’s 2006 Clerks II. They are still hanging out by the Quick Stop and smoking weed, though they are now growing and selling it, too. The dense duo are caught and an unscrupulous lawyer (Justin Long) gets them to sign away their names, so, a reboot of the Bluntman and Chronic movie, entitled Bluntman V Chronic, can commence. They hear a major sequence will be filmed at L.A.’s Chronic-Con and so, in true reboot fashion, the two hit the road again to stop production. Along the way Jay finds out that former love Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) bore him a child, who is now a rebellious teenager (Harley Quinn Smith) who comes along for the trip.

Kevin Smith writes and directs this latest adventure of his two slacker, stoner characters and for the first third, at least, it’s kinda nostalgic fun. Sadly the second third gets bogged down in the whole Jay finds out he’s a dad storyline and then when his daughter Millennium Faulken joins him on the quest for Chronic-Con, he tries to bond with the angry teen, without telling her who he really is. The melodrama drags the fun down a bit and the attempts at bonding aren’t nearly as funny as they should be. No better example than when he and Silent Bob have to rescue her and her racially diverse friends from a Ku Klux Klan chapter, whose Grand Wizard is played by professional wrestler/singer Chris Jericho, no less. It’s unnecessary and unfunny and only slows things down further. The third act really stalls as Jay, Silent Bob and the girls hit the convention to stop the film’s director…big surprise…Kevin Smith and it becomes a Kevin Smith ego-stroking, love letter to himself with cameos from former Smith film cast members that sadly only goes to show how old everyone has gotten since the 90s, when Smith and their characters was relevant. The stale dialog bits between these characters also prove that everyone involved is getting a bit too old for this schtick and maybe it’s time to move on from this whole, painfully dated Clerks based universe*. Smith and his returning to these characters, is like an over-the-hill singer from an 80s hair band that still sings about teenage girls. It’s sad and a bit creepy at this point.

*With a rumored Mallrats sequel and Clerks III on the way, this is, however, highly unlikely.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)

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JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)

Justice League is a movie fans have been waiting a long time for and while it’s not the movie we’d hoped we’d get, it is still a lot of fun. Story finds Earth under attack from an ancient being called Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) who needs three powerful ‘mother boxes’ to come to his full strength and conquer the planet. Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) are trying to put together a team of meta humans to join in the fight. They need to convince Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), Victor Stone aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Barry Allen aka The Flash (a hilarious Ezra Miller) to unite with them to stop Steppenwolf in his tracks. But even with the heroes united, their only hope of defeating the titan and his army of pandemons, may lie six feet under in a grave in Smallville.

DC’s classic comic is brought to the screen by Zack Snyder from a story by he and Chris Terrio and a script by Terrio and Joss Whedon. Avengers director/writer Whedon was called in to finish post-production and handle re-shoots when a family tragedy forced Snyder off the project. The result is a film that is far from perfect, but is still a lot of fun. The film feels a bit incomplete despite a competent director taking over the project and it also feels edited down to the quick to get to the action faster. Ironically Batman v Superman was improved when material was added on blu-ray, but here they chose to go in the opposite direction and the film feels like it’s missing something. The first act seems particularly rushed and we really don’t get to feel the resonance of the search for the meta humans or Steppenwolf’s arrival. It all happens so quickly and it’s a bit choppy. Once the team is assembled and goes on the offensive, the movie is a lot of fun with the banter between our Justice League members being a highlight, especially from the wisecracking Flash. Their first battle brings the team up short and thus begins the quest to raise the dead, or at least one of them. Then it’s off to a fun conclusion that follows this series’ propensity for big CGI filled spectacle, but doesn’t quite seem as messy as the bloated, overlong Batman v Superman climax, in fact, it actually felt a bit short. The whole film does leave one wanting more, to be honest, but the camaraderie between the characters really goes a long way and there are some really fun dialogue and action scenes to make this an entertaining night at the movies, nonetheless. It’s not the classic hoped for, but DC is starting find it’s footing, at least in terms of tone. It kept that DC look and feel, but isn’t as gloomy or takes itself too seriously like some of the previous DCU flicks. Fabian Wagner’s cinematography helps the film appear consistent with previous entries and Danny Elfman provides the atmospheric score with some fun nods to previous hero themes.

The cast really help make up for some of the film’s shortcomings. Affleck is once again solid as Batman/Bruce Wayne. He’s a bit more upbeat here and he has some nice banter with his costars as the reluctant founder of the League. Gal Gadot once again proves she was born to play Wonder Woman and she has some nice moments, including some good chemistry with Affleck’s billionaire hero. Ezra Miller steals the flick as the sarcastic, slacker hero The Flash. He gets some of the best lines and his dorky charm fits the character perfectly. He also has solid chemistry with his co-stars. Ray Fisher is effective as the tragic, yet powerful Cyborg. He’s still learning how to use his powers and still conflicted over being Frankenstein-ed by his father and we sympathize. Jason Mamoa is good as Aquaman, but it seems his surfer-dude hero never really gets his moment in this flick. Maybe WB is holding back as James Wan’s Aquaman is the next DC flick due out. J.K. Simmons is good as Commissioner Gordon, but only has two or three scenes and Ciarán Hinds voices a somewhat imposing Steppenwolf, though he seems like just another CGI monster…but at least one with far more personality than Doomsday in BvS. As for other returning cast members, Amy Adams and Diane Lane ease back into their roles as Lois Lane and Martha Kent respectively, Irons is again perfect as the cynical Alfred and it’s no surprise that at some point Henry Cavill is going to show up…but the when and hows will be left for viewers to find out. A good cast that help get over some of the bumps in Justice League’s road.

In conclusion, Justice League still shows that DC has work to do, but at least has a fun time with it’s missteps. It does get a lot right, including some entertaining interaction between our heroes and some fun action scenes. It’s not as good a film overall as Wonder Woman, but in ways is more fun and takes itself far less seriously than MoS and BvS. The film could have used a little more time for us to appreciate the hunt for the heroes by Wayne and Diana and needed to give more weight to the appearance of it’s moderately effective villain. In all fairness, who knows what effects losing it’s director had on the final product. With Snyder away, did the studio play? Regardless of it’s issues, it’s still a fun romp that brings together some of the most famous comic book heroes of all time and even serves up, not one but two, additional scenes, one mid-credits and one post-credits…and the post-credits scene will have comic book fans talking. Go in with moderate expectations and you can have a real good time.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 heroes.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)

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BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The much anticipated match-up between the two greatest comic book characters of all-time is a mess, no doubt about it, but there is a lot to like here, too. The story picks up 18 months after the battle in Metropolis between Superman and Zod and the world is starting to sour over the notion of a man with god-like powers running around of his own volition. Two men particularly being unhappy about it are billionaire Lex Luthor (a completely miscast Jesse Eisenberg) and billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). I guess rich people hate Superman. The Dark Knight saw many Wayne Enterprises employees die in Metropolis and starts to wonder if Superman (Henry Cavill) can be trusted and Lex Luthor is more than happy to give both men a push in the confrontational direction. Will The Bat of Gotham and The Man Of Steel go head to head…and will the world survive it?

The script by Chris Terrio and David Goyer is simply all over the place and a lot of it doesn’t gel. The reasons for Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent to suddenly become so concerned with the activities of The Batman in Gotham is never really clear, as it also doesn’t really completely work that Wayne would develop such an intense hatred for Superman, since he has done a lot of good. The first hour of the film bounces back and forth between a bunch of story-lines, including one about a possible conspiracy to frame Superman for death’s he’s not responsible for and a mysterious woman (Gal Gadot) that keeps popping up in Bruce Wayne’s life. It’s very fractured and takes over an hour to settle into a grove. Zack Snyder is a brilliant visual director, but I never felt he was a strong storyteller and with a very weak and fractured story, it is all the more obvious. The film wanders back and forth without much purpose in the first act when Snyder has little going on that he can turn into spectacle. There is some solid action within the film, though and some nice personal moments, too, but it all comes crashing down when Snyder delivers an even more overblown finale than with Man Of Steel. At that point the overlong film is already getting tiresome, we get an apocalyptic battle with Doomsday and then the film goes on for another 15 minutes, or so, for a very morose conclusion. The battle between Bats and Supes was starting to turn the film around somewhat, then Snyder throws in Doomsday and the film collapses under the weight of more bombastic destruction with a generic CGI monster that generates no menace, whatsoever. Throw in a somber and mopey Superman, some pointless dream sequences and the totally miscalculated portrayal of a creepy Lex Luthor by Eisenberg and it basically is a mess with a few shining moments.

So, what was there to like about it…and surprisingly there is a lot to like. First off, Ben Affleck makes an awesome Bruce Wayne and Batman. While story-wise I wasn’t really sold on his intense hatred for Superman, the character itself was different than we have seen previously, yet really nailed the darkness and the whole Bat persona. His action scenes also really rock and capture the ferocity of a man working out his own inner turmoil. Another very pleasant surprise is Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot isn’t the strongest actress, but when she wades into battle during the climax, she steals the show. Another character the film nails and she was a lot of fun to watch and really lays into Doomsday like a badass. As for the battle between Superman and Batman, it was the highlight of the film and here Snyder showed some surprising restraint. Also we get to really see Batman’s ingenuity and preparedness come to bare as he battles someone who could squash him easily. It’s a shame they had to sully the moment by going into extra innings with Doomsday…though they did need a reason for the World’s Finest to unite. It’s just too bad it’s back to over-the-top and out of control. Obviously the FX are top notch, the film looks great and there is another solid score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.

The cast are a solid except for you-know-who. Cavill is good as Superman, but the script has him pouting and grimacing in anger most of the time and it’s disappointing that we see so little of the hope Superman is supposed to bring. Affleck is great as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. He portrays a man starting to show the effects of aging, who has his own demons and bitterness to deal with and which also motivates him. As Batman, he is truly intimidating and his fight scenes are really nasty and intense like they should be. As his loyal butler Alfred, Jeremy Irons is impeccable and gives us a man who we believe can actually take care of and assist both Bruce Wayne and The Dark Knight. He has a subtle smart-ass quality that really worked. Gal Gadot is a little wooden in her dialog sequences as Diana Prince, but when Wonder Woman joins the fun, she gives her the fire and spirit of a true amazon warrior. She really does steal the scenes she’s in, once she is in battle. Now the big question…Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, what were they thinking? Not everything he does is bad and his part is badly written, but he was more Renfield or Gollum than super villain and his Luthor seems too unhinged to be in control of a multi-billion dollar empire. He comes across as that weird uncle that makes everyone uncomfortable, not a formidable opponent for our heroes. Amy Adams is good again as Lois Lane, but isn’t given much to do but be a damsel in distress. The same goes for Diane Lane. A waste of both their talents as is the same for the barely seen Lawrence Fishburn as Perry White.

So, the eagerly awaited meeting and mash-up of the World’s Finest is a bit of a mess and a mixed bag. On one hand, it delivers a great new Batman, a scene stealing Wonder Woman and a well-done battle between The Dark Knight and The Last Son Of Krypton. On the other hand it’s way too long, gives us a creepy and far too eccentric Lex Luthor, has a really muddled first act and follows up the Bats/Supes battle royal with a ridiculously overblown orgy of destruction featuring a generic CGI monster. There is a lot to like here, but, overall, this dream match is more of a dream mess.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 World’s Finest.

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REVIEW: DAREDEVIL DIRECTOR’S CUT (2004)

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DAREDEVIL: DIRECTOR’S CUT (2004)

Daredevil is a film that splits the fanboys/girls right down the middle. I personally like the film but, I never read the comic so, I am not that familiar with the details of the mythos or protectively endeared to the material. The director’s cut is a bit darker and a little more violent which does give it more of an edge and definitely improves on the original. Daredevil tells the story of Matt Murdoch, (Ben Affleck) a Hell’s Kitchen lawyer who lost his eyesight as a boy but, all his other senses became incredibly enhanced including, being able to use sound like a form of sonar to see. Matt also takes to the streets at night as the masked vigilante, Daredevil to protect the people and avenge the murder of his boxer father by a local gangster after refusing to take a fall. Daredevil seeks to stop a mysterious crime boss named The Kingpin (the late Michael Clark Duncan) while crossing paths with a beautiful and yet mysterious heiress, Elektra (Jennifer Garner) who may be more then she seems. Obviously the fates of all the characters collide including a deranged yet lethal hit-man named, Bullseye (Colin Farrell). I don’t get all the hate lobbed this flicks way. It’s a fun enough superhero flick and while not perfect, it does entertain especially in the director’s cut which also adds some nice character depth. There is also an added sub plot involving Matt’s efforts to prove the innocence of a drug addict (Coolio) who is accused of murdering a hooker. This subplot gives us more insight as to how deep Matt’s convictions are and how far he will go to support them. The new cut also adds a bit more violence most notably the fight between Bullseye and Elektra is a bit nastier and has more intensity and impact. Mark Steven Johnson directs the film fine. The action is well staged and shot, nothing ground-breaking but, you can see influences from the Hong Kong cinema and there definitely seems to be a bit of “The Crow” thrown in in terms of look and mood. The visuals are nice and give the film a comic book tone and the only drawback is some very noticeable CGI during some of the action scenes that keep us from being completely drawn in. Ben Affleck is just fine as the blind lawyer turned vigilante. He gets a lot of flak but, I think his performance is moody and fits the character. Only a few of his scenes does he fall back into the smarmy acting style that earned him his critics and that’s early on, mostly when he first meets Elektra. And speaking or her, Garner is beautiful and handles her action scenes well but, she doesn’t quite come across as the fiery Greek heiress with the secret identity of her own. She’s fine in the romantic scenes but, once she becomes the vengeful assassin Electra, the role needed someone with a bit more of a smoldering intensity. As for the rest of the cast, Favreau is funny and charming, as always, as Matt’s oblivious law partner/ sidekick, Franklin. Michael Clark Duncan is well cast as the villainous crime boss, Kingpin. He exudes power, threat and strength beyond his massive frame and plays the role with just a bit of a wink. Colin Farrell is a hoot as the over the top Irish hit man, Bullseye. He is having a blast with the material and is both threatening and fun to watch as he skates the edge of camp without loosing the character’s lethal edge. And Joe Pantoliano seems a little out of place as an ace reporter looking to crack the true story of the mythical Daredevil. He’s played so many wise guys and smart asses that he doesn’t seem quite comfortable as a straight arrow despite giving a perfectly suitable performance. Add a cameo by Kevin Smith and David Keith as Matt’s dad, boxer Jack “The Devil” Murdoch and you have a suitably fine, but not perfect, cast for a dark tinged comic book flick. Even with an added half hour of footage… original cut is 103 minutes; director’s 134 minutes… the director’s cut moves along briskly and is never dull and the added material only helps enhance the film and it’s characters. The Coolio sub plot does tie into the Kingpin storyline eventually so, while it’s omission in the theatrical version wasn’t missed, it does fit in here unobtrusively. There is also a larger part for Murdoch’s secretary, Karen (Ellen Pompeo) who seems to have an eye for Franklin which gives Favreau a few nice moments where he doesn’t have to mug for the camera. All in all it’s a decent though, much maligned comic book movie, now become a good comic book flick with the added material. It’s not great, there are flaws, but, there are much worse comic themed movies such as director Johnson’s own Ghost Rider flick with Nic Cage and it’s even worse sequel. So, maybe it was time Daredevil and it’s leading man got cut a little slack. There’s also a really cool soundtrack too that I’ll take a look at below!

3 solid men without fear !

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DAREDEVIL: THE ALBUM

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The Daredevil Soundtrack has a fun mix of moody andhard rocking songs on it and was also the first time I heard Evanescence who, are now one of my favorites and there are two of their songs here. We get Rob Zombie rocking with Drowning Pool on the theme “The Man Without Fear” and an assortment of good tunes from Fuel, Seether, Chevelle, Hoobastank and Nickleback… who, like the film, get a lot of flack but, I like their fun, down and dirty party Rock N Roll just fine. Not every band has to have some deep soulful message behind their music, some just want to have a good time and I think the fun they are having comes across in their songs. I came of age in the 80s and most of the bands back then were like that. But back to The DD soundtrack… It’ a really good selection of songs with some great bands at a time when they were new and fresh. A fun toe-tapping soundtrack with some really good stuff. Not every song is great but, all together a strong soundtrack and a good time listen.

1. Won’t Back Down – Fuel
2. For You – The Calling
3. Bleed For Me – Saliva
4. Hang On – Seether
5. Learn the Hard Way – Nickelback
6. The Man Without Fear – Drowning Pool feat. Rob Zombie
7. Right Now – Nappy Roots feat. Marcos Curiel of P.O.D.
8. Evening Rain – Moby
9. Bring Me To Life – Evanescence
10. Until You’re Reformed – Chevelle
11. Right Before Your Eyes – Hoobastank
12. Fade Out/In – Palo Alto
13. Caught In The Rain – Revis
14. High Wire Escape Artist – BOYSETSFIRE
15. Raise Your Rifles – Autopilot Off
16. Daredevil Theme (Blind Justice Remix) – Graeme Revell and Mike Einziger
17. My Immortal – Evanescence
18. Sad Exchange – finger eleven
19. Simple Lies – Endo
20. Let Go – 12 Stones

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Not perfectly cast but, the future Mrs. Affleck looked damn fine in tight jeans and tight leather!

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BREAKING NEWS! BEN AFFLECK IS THE NEW BATMAN!

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According to CBM, Warner Bros has announced actor and director Ben Affleck will be Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Man Of Steel follow-up that will feature both Krypton’s last son (Henry Cavill) and The Dark Knight. Speculation had been rampant from Orlando Bloom to Christian Bale returning to a huge paycheck. Now Warners has announced an out of left field surprise with the official casting of Affleck as the Caped Crusader for the film to be released July 2015!

Warner Bros. Greg Silverman had this to say:

“We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some. His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character.”

Technically, he already played Superman with his portrayal of George Reeves in “Hollywoodland”.

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Source: CBM

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REVIEW: ARGO (2012)

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Ben Affleck is 3 for 3 as a director with this simply great film set during the Iran hostage crisis of the late 70s/early 80s. Argo tells the story of 6 Americans who barely escaped the U.S. Embassy as it was being taken over by hostile Iranian citizens after the overthrow of the Shah. While the rest of the embassy staff become hostages, the 6 find refuge in the home of the Canadian Embassy’s director. Knowing that the Iranians will soon figure out they are missing and hunt them down, CIA extraction specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) hatches a wild scheme to sneak them out disguised as a film crew scouting locations for a make believe science fiction epic called “Argo”. Ben Affleck takes Chris Terrio’s script and crafts a suspenseful, thrilling and extremely entertaining true life historical drama that manages to be a lot of fun despite the serious nature of the story. Affleck deftly weaves in some welcome humor to give us a bit of relief from the almost non-stop tension, and in just the right amount to gives us a break and make us even more susceptible when he decides to turn the screws again. He gets great performances out of his top notch cast including, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and a wonderful Alan Arkin as the Hollywood producer who helps him fake the production of the sci-fi flick Argo. He and his production crew also do a great job of recreating the look and feel of that historic moment in time. This is a movie that lives up to every bit of the hype and deserves every award and nomination it received. And despite knowing how it all turns out, you still find yourself embroiled in some intense white knuckled suspense. Great flick!  ****