“Justice League” Develops Banality into a Harrowing and Tiresome Art Form

If a committee of Warner Brothers executives got together to work their way through a 300 million dollar paint-by-numbers, it would look like Justice League.

With the odds stacked against it, no expectations, and the fate of exactly nothing of importance hanging in the balance, Justice League is still an utter disappointment.  The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) was recently buoyed by the impressive Wonder Woman film from Patty Jenkins earlier this year, but the franchise is back aground.  Justice League features a hodgepodge of messy scenes, poor storytelling, terrible CGI, lackluster characters, and no real stakes.  These failures are becoming hallmarks of Warner Brothers ill-advised attempts at a grittier version of Marvel, and the embarrassments are becoming too numerous to count.  I guess we’ll do our best.

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“The Accountant” Merges Dry Comedy and Calculated Action to Solid Effect

Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant is an entertaining thriller that sports a peculiar mix of black ops action and wry humor.  It focuses around a high-functioning autistic man named Christian Wolff who handles advanced ballistics just as well as he does advanced calculus.  The story is told through multiple flashbacks, and follows multiple characters in the present day as they interact.  Not everything gels together perfectly, and the underlying themes are fairly under-developed in favor of a simplistic action sequences, but The Accountant does far more right than it does wrong.

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All Aboard the Elle Fanning Hype Train

Elle Fanning isn’t exactly a new kid on the block.  In fact, her first film was a full 15 years ago, when she was the two-year-old version of Lucy Diamond Dawson in I am Sam.  Since then, Fanning has often portrayed younger versions of her older sister Dakota, but her filmography extends well beyond playing second-fiddle.  Her breakout role was likely her turn as Alice Dainard in J.J. Abram’s Super 8, which I enjoyed just fine.  But, it is her most recent work that augurs greatness.  Maleficent was a strong performance, and she also managed to be the second best actor in Trumbo, behind the Oscar-nominated Bryan Cranston.  Then there was The Neon Demon.  After gushing about this film, I decided to look more closely at the career of Fanning, and I was surprised to find her starring in seven films between now and the end of 2017!

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Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Overwhelms With Wasted Opportunity

Batman v Superman plods along with the pacing of a courtroom, which may be why it is named like a civil suit between our two heroes.  Given the manufactured fighting between the two, there may have been more believable drama had Batman decided to sue the Man of Steel for destruction of property.  Instead, we are left with the standard flaws that always seem to accompany the direction of Zack Snyder:  bizarre use of music, rushed and unearned plotting, and action sequences that, while reasonably entertaining, strain comprehension.  It is altogether a shame, because the eponymous characters are iconic and beloved – and well portrayed in this film.  There simply isn’t anything terribly interesting for them to do.

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A Glimpse of Fun in the “Batman v Superman” Trailer?

It is no secret that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has darker ambitions than its brightly colored and quip-filled Marvel counterpart. Since the DCEU is late to the shared universe party, they are tasked with differentiating themselves, and if Man of Steel and the teaser trailer for the follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are any indication, they want to skew more serious and dramatic. This is fine, as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy leaned more realistic and was a success. But, this strategy could be quite dangerous if applied across the board (including Man of Steel, 13 DCEU films are in various stages of planning).  While a single film can focus on the darker aspects of the world, I feel like the weight or power of such a choice is diminished by each successive trip to that well. With that in mind, I looked to the new Batman v Superman trailer with the question: is there ever going to be any fun at all in the DCEU?
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Ben Affleck to Direct, Co-Write, and Star in Standalone Batman Film

The rumor mill has been churning of late with regards to the standalone Batman film. The expected timeline for new Batman appearances in the DC Cinematics Universe (DCCU) are actually fairly complex, though. Of course, the first look we get at the rebooted Batman with Ben Affleck will come next March 26th with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Then, in August of 2016, Batman will appear in some fashion in Suicide Squad, but this role is expected to be ancillary. Once we get into 2017 and beyond, we have three announced films: The Justice League Parts One and Two, and an untitled Batman standalone film. Rumors are that the film will simply be titled, “The Batman”, but that has yet to be confirmed. What has been confirmed, though, is that Ben Affleck will not only be in front of the camera for the reboot, but also behind it and in the writers’ room with DC’s Geoff Johns.
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