Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review: Justice League (movie)

What it's about?

After the death of Superman at the hands of Lex Luther and Zod, the world has lost its hope. Batman is convinced something bigger is coming but his attempts to bring together a team are failing. Now that bigger attack is coming and what few people he has managed to gather are not prepared to stand alone. 


Full transparency, I hated Batman V Superman and I know I'm not alone.  I honestly have had no love for any of the movies DC has put out recently (animated or not) with the exception of Wonder Woman.  I did like Man of Steel, but mostly because it broke the Superman mold for me and made him interesting to watch - to the detriment of what most think makes Superman who he is.  So to say I wasn't expecting much from this movie is an understatement.

I was pleasantly surprised. 

Now, by no means is Justice League a master piece, far from it. At it's core it's a fun movie to shut your brain off and watch, and the storytelling and action actually makes it quite easy to do that.  I found myself having a good time and enjoying the movie, even if there were narrative issues throughout.

The beginning is quite choppy, with -  I swear - 20 different beginnings to the film which weren't needed. However once that time has passed the movie is easy to like. Joss Whedon's talent for writing engaging dialog shows throughout the entire movie and makes the characters easy to like and get along with.  It especially shows with Flash and Aquaman and their senses of humor. They were easily the best parts of the movie, but honestly all the characters got a moment, even if it was small. 

The characters we already know going in from previous movies had their stories rounded out and expanded, while the newer characters were introduced with just enough to make them just as interesting. Even the big bad, who under performed a bit, still got much more build up and time then in some Marvel movies. Steppenwolf was kept very cut and dry and for once only hinted at what might come after him, rather then rushing forward with too many villains like some other films (I'm looking at you Batman v Superman).

In the world of DC attempting to catch up to Marvel, this really isn't the train wreck I was expecting to see. A lot of the stuff I did like beyond the above is more spoilery so I'll stay away from it for those reading.  Still I would recommend seeing this movie and not going in with such a fatalistic attitude as the previous movies may have given you.  This feels like a new start for DC, and if they do focus more on the single movies and crafting the story as they say they're going to now, we may yet get some more films that give us exactly what we want.

Oh, though you should know there's a mid credit stinger and one at the end and both are worth watching. 

Final thoughts:

Justice League oddly gives me hope for future DC movies. I know they've stated they plan to move away from their extended universe and I'm all for this, but this movie shows they can still make entertaining stories that aren't just a royal mess. So maybe the ones they've already announced have a bit more promise then I thought. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: American Horror Story: Roanoke

What's it about?

One of the creepiest true stories in history is that of the Roanoke Colony that up and disappeared, leaving all their belongings and only the word 'Croatoan' behind.  In current times a family has purchased an old farm nearby in the hopes of starting over, only to find that the farm is haunted by the missing colony members.  They manage to make it out alive and now are telling everything that happened to them, via a reality confession show with very realistic reenactments.


American Horror Story is one of my favorite current tv shows and this season shows no sign of stopping. I love the variety of stories and characters and how they manage to capture different pieces of fear and use them against the audience.

This series follows the trend I'm used to with this show.  Along with a new and interesting story, the creators have also decided to try another form of story telling: reality tv. By using only footage caught on camera by reality show cast members, 'actors' and cell phone footage, the show treats you to a very unique story.

Every season the story telling style changes and I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that they would eventually touch reality TV.  The narrative style almost simulates a google search, specifically my own when I find a story that's super interesting and devour the entire internet to find everything I can about it.  The footage does the same, showing you piece by piece and letting you piece it together.  In the end the story is choppy and messy and a little hard to follow, but since it reminds me of myself, I really love it.

What's actually really nice about this season is you're introduced to everything via the reality show so you don't see the actual ghosts until halfway through the season and oddly that makes them scarier.  Because you never hear the actual ghosts talk and when they do finally show up you are already scared of them and as creepy as Kathy Bates is, the actual Butcher is worse.

My favorite character this season has to be Lee, the real Lee.  I didn't like her at first, but when the actual Lee took a more active role in the story she grew on me.  I loved seeing her move from being the victim to the hero of the story - if you could call it that. Also, while Angela Bassett was awesome, I loved Adina Porter for her range and how easy it was to identify with her and what she was experiencing.

I do have to say I was disappointed with Lady Gaga's role with this season.  Sadly she wasn't in the season that much due to her tour and album, so her part was quite small. What little there was of her character left me hungry for more.  She played the original supreme witch (connecting back to Coven) and I would have loved to see more of her character then a couple flashbacks and a few flashes.  I'm not sure how more of her story would have fit in overall, but I can't help wanting it.

The most disappointing part of the series was the Polk family. The stereotypical hillbilly family, they provided a second threat to the main characters for daring to live on that land.  What made them interesting was that they had ties to The Butcher and her ghost army which allowed them to survive - and yet they were also saddled with the standard inbreeding, druggie, stupid and mentally impaired cliches that fill the horror genre.  It made them uninteresting and boring and honestly seemed a bit below the amazing writing I'm used to on this series.  Also their need to have cameras everywhere became a tired gimmick plot device to keep the series going.  While a single YouTube video was used toward the end with the death threat, I wish they'd peppered that in throughout as a reason why they recorded stuff so it didn't seem so contrived. They didn't seem fully realized and the series just kinda sank there.

Final Thoughts

I very much liked this season and how it tied to the others. While not my favorite, it does stand out for it's depiction of certain characters and how the main antagonists were utilized (those being the ghosts). Now, as usual, I have to wait a year to watch the newest season in one binge sitting. Oh well, worth it.