So I saw Justice League Last Night…

…and I don’t know. It’s a pretty inconsequential piece of cinema, which is fine. I mean Marvel have been getting away with it for years. They can probably get away with it partly because they’ve never given us a Nolan trilogy moment. Also I feel like the interconnecting universe thing stifles the creators’ abilities to do something really interesting (even though DC never officially declared that they were running a DCEU). Add that to that the fact that they went straight in with the space stuff which has meant a shift back to fighting regular old crime on the street would be a very strange transition.

The style applied to Batman in his opening threw me right back to Burton’s version. That could of course be owed to the Elfman soundtrack in which he managed to sneak in that good old arpeggiated Batman theme. Add to that a bumbling criminal and some choice Burtonesque lighting and it sure was a throwback to 1989. Later on in the film you are treated to those dreamy Man of Steel shots of corn fields and a hazy sky.  This of course is forgotten about later on in favour of that too familiar final CGI battle. Out of all other heroes, Aquaman was the only other to have a strong visual context, but only above ground. Altlantis got zero look in. Cyborg had the lab and the computer-filled small family apartment while with the Flash we were given the prison and another computer-filled living space. Wonder Woman was just hanging out in London. It all made for something quite disjointed.

We need to talk about Henry Cavill’s face. If you had no idea until now that they had to digitally remove his moustache for the film (you are welcome) please let me know if his face made you as uneasy as it made me knowing that it had been. That first scene of him being filmed by the kids on the phone was straight up weird. He didn’t look real. I was really distracted sitting there watching Superman’s puffy CGI upper lip any time he was on screen. I kept trying to imagine him actually standing there with a moustache. Adding to that was what I found to be a really wooden performance but maybe I’ve forgotten how Cavill’s Superman normally is. It was all very surreal.

This Justice League film also reminded me how lucky we were to get a solid standalone for Wonder Woman. Diana was thrown under the bus a little bit. Every so often we were reminded that she was indeed not one of the boys. You had Alfred quip about Bruce Wayne wanting to call her because he was a attracted to her, you had Barry Allen (The Flash) swooning all over her but not like he swooned over Batman and you also had Arthur Curry (Aquaman) mention how gorgeous she was but it was funny guys because Diana had the lasso of truth around him. Also that gag of Barry falling on top of her fell so flat that the whole cinema audience were silent. I do wonder where that fell in the shoots and re-shoots. Does anyone else remember seeing her knickers so much either? However, Wonder Woman fought hard and gave as good as she got, she certainly outshone Batman who floundered around a bit only to call on his tech and have it co-opted by Cyborg.

The Flash seems to be a big talking point as some people found him a little irritable. I was personally okay with him. I did find that some of his best moments happened when he wasn’t talking because the “oh my god I don’t know how to talk to people like a normal person” thing can wear thin sometimes. I do think the effort Ezra Miller put into Barry Allen got derailed a little because the last memory you will have of him is running through the streets really oddly. It is a sight to behold. In terms of the other new additions, I thought Cyborg translated really well but as I said above he really made Batman look useless. I honestly could have done with or without Aquaman. It makes sense why he is there based on the plot but he is not fleshed out as much as the others. There is a brief encounter with Mera under the sea but I could not understand half of what was being said. Something about a dead mother.

Speaking of mothers, these DC films have a real problem. The worst instance will always been the Martha revelation from BvS but my gosh does Justice League still run with it. For once, Bruce Wayne makes no mention of his dead parents but that means nothing when we’re given a crash course of dead mother back stories from all three new heroes. It’s a wonder anyone gets out of bed to do anything without having the reasoning that their mother is dead. Fair enough the comic origins of Aquaman and the Flash set that in stone but I did a little digging and guess what? Cyborg has both parents. Both scientists. Then DC are going to further insult me with their dead mother obsession and run with their Mother Box lore. They should have just called them Martha Boxes. But Emer, Superman has a dead daddy and a Martha you say. Well I say, do you recall the BvS Martha thing I mentioned above? Bruce and Clark weren’t reminiscing about how both their dads smoked cigars or something.

I can’t tell you much about the final big battle because I was falling asleep. Nothing to do with the film, I am just at the mercy of having to commute to work during the week which leaves me drained. I was overtly cynical about it all anyway because I couldn’t understand why it took all of Atlantis, Themyscira, the Green Lanterns and a load of humans to defeat Steppenwolf before and then the Justice League rock up and do it easily. Did he have the full power of the Mother Box thing back in the day? That bit of information must have been lost on me. He did not have it when he gatecrashed Themyscira though…okay I am really just not that bothered even thinking about it because at the end of the day does anyone care?

Is there any need to rush to the cinema to see this? Nope. Is it worth throwing on at home some night you want something harmless to put on? Sure. Justice League is no masterpiece and it clearly never set out to be one (well I hope not because that is some delusion). I say this all the time but I need companies to scale the stories down a bit, make them a bit more nuanced and make the audience feel like there is a chance the heroes might actually fail. Give me things like Logan or like Kick-Ass (not the second one that was terrible) because if you’re telling me the villain is going to destroy the whole planet, I know the villain is not going to destroy the whole planet. It has all gotten far too predictable and although that is a comfort for many, it’s feels like a waste of talent to me.

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Top Film Picks For Halloween 2

As explained in my list last year, very few “traditional” horror films tend to impress me. If you are like me and find the big horror franchises a bit lackluster, hopefully you will enjoy one of the  selections below. If not, perhaps last year’s offerings might be more appealing.

Creep (2014)

Independent found footage film Creep really got under my skin when I watched it. It follows a videographer Aaron (Patrick Brice) who answers the Craigslist ad of Josef (Mark Duplass) who wishes to record his day to day life. The two characters spend all their time together isolated up in a cabin in the mountains and it is all quite innocent. However, every so often Josef will do or say something so odd that will make you feel something that I can only describe through that meme of Chrissy Teigen’s face. With Creep 2 on the way soon it is definitely a film worth checking out.

Get Out (2017)

I was always very interested in seeing Get Out as it had an interesting premise to build on. It begins with photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) gearing up to meet his girlfriend’s parents. He brings up the fact that Rose (his girlfriend) never told her white, suburban family that he is black. Rose (Allison Williams) eventually reassures him that  “My dad totally would have voted for Obama for a third term if he could have.” It is little things like that which are dotted around the script of the film that all click into place once the horror is revealed. Honourable mention goes to Chris’ best friend Rod ( Lil Rel Howery for providing some much needed comedic relief  when the film is at its tensest.  The trailer below shows a lot of the film so I would recommend avoiding it or at least watching it until the 1.30 mark.

What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

If you have always craved a mockumentary about vampires from New Zealand then you are in luck. Created by and starring man of the moment Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement (you may know him from Flight of the Conchords), What We Do In The Shadows documents the night to night lives of Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr. You watch as the  centuries old vampires navigate their way through 21st century life, even getting the addition of a 21st century vampire to their flat. The film documents everything from the vampires’ views on doing the dishes, their feud with the local Wellington werewolves and also their foray into modern technology. It is one of those comedy films that is endlessly quotable and you can sense that all actors involved genuinely had a great time making it.

Top Film Picks For Halloween

We live in a world full of “come on kids this house will be a fresh start, ignore your sister’s demon voice” plots. Because of this, there are very few films in the horror genre that have made an impression on me. I put this mostly down to my cynicism, but also I find myself bored of bad jump scares and unnecessary gore. Below are details of films that have made an impression on me because they brought something new to the table. Perfect viewing for the Halloween bank holiday weekend.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

A spiritual successor to found-footage monster movie Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane continues the world building of the franchise. It concerns a woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who gets in a car accident following a fight with her partner. She is rescued by bunker owner Howard (John Goodman)  who eventually informs her that the world outside is now inhabitable. As the film unfolds, Howard becomes more and more unstable. Michelle begins to question if he is telling the truth or if he just wants to keep her and other inhabitant Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) captive.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a great pick if you enjoy a film that keeps its secrets right on up to the last second. Just when you think you have Howard’s intentions figured out, the plot opens itself up just enough to send your mind racing yet again.  John Goodman really plays the part well, sometimes hero, sometimes villain, never simple.

The Witch (2015)

A period drama soaked in supernatural goodness, The Witch is about a banished puritan family as they try settle away from the plantation they once lived in. The family welcome a fifth child into the world while on the farm but things start to go sour from then on. Teenage daughter Thomasin (Anya-Taylor Joy) takes her eyes off of her new little brother for a fraction and he disappears. A witch gets her hands on him. Slowly the family descend into a spate of paranoia and hysteria. Soon enough, mother Katherine (Kate Dickie) and father William (Ralph Inenson) begin to turn even on their own children.

This film is a slow burner, so if you are looking for something quick and easy The Witch may not be for you. However if you can handle the artfully drawn out tension throughout, you will be rewarded with a gloriously delicious conclusion.

It Follows (2014)

Many of us are familiar with that Mean Girl quote (also a real life view of some people); “Don’t have sex, you will get pregnant and die.” It Follows takes this sentiment to a whole new level. This film’s premise begins when teenager Jay (Maika Monroe) having sex with her boyfriend  Hugh (Jake Weary). Her boyfriend knowingly passes something onto her in the act, and no, it’s not chlamydia. Terrifyingly Jay has a curse passed onto her which means that death lurks around every corner. Hugh explains the deal after chloroforming Jay and tying her to a chair. If she dies at the hands of the curse, it will go back to haunting him. What a nice guy.

The most terrifying thing about It Follows is the form the horror entity takes. Not only does it appear as a friend or a random stranger, it also moves at a walking pace. It is deeply unsettling and far more effective than things popping out into your face. It is absolutely gut-wrenching and it lasts for the whole film. The premise is also fresh but familiar, an urban legend for modern times.

Paranorman (2012)

Comedy horror Paranorman follows Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) a boy more comfortable speaking with the dead than the living. An outcast among his family and his peers, he finds a friend in Neil Downe (Tucker Albrizzi) also regular recipient of bullying. Visions bring him to learn of a curse put on the town by a witch and he is informed by his uncle  Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman) that he must lift it before it is too late. This proves difficult as his peers and his family accept his powers as nothing more than Norman being a weirdo.

Although on the lightest side possible of the horror genre, Paranorman packs a real punch both emotionally and visually. It deals with very important themes such as bullying and loneliness in a way easily understood by children and adults alike. Visually, the fact that it is a stop motion film adds to its impressiveness. It also manages to be genuinely funny, with a humour that does not rely on shock value or nastiness to get its point out. This is totally summed up in a revelation about one of the characters in the end.