Media Reaction to Zack Snyder’s Cut of “JUSTICE LEAGUE”

The following article was written back in May 2020, following the announcement by Warner Brothers that director Zack Snyder will be allowed to release his own version of the 2017 movie, “JUSTICE LEAGUE”, thanks to a campaign by fans who disiked the studio and Joss Whedon’s um . . . edited version:

MEDIA REACTION TO ZACK SNYDER’S CUT OF “JUSTICE LEAGUE”

What exactly is going on? Recently, director-producer Zack Snyder had announced via Zoom that Warner Brothers Studios had finally agreed to release his version or “cut” of the 2017 DCEU film, “JUSTICE LEAGUE” on HBO Max next year. As expected, this news was followed with mixed reactions from comic book movie fans. Many were thrilled and excited by the news. Others were either angry at the news or dismissive. What I find . . . interesting was the media’s reaction. At least the media on the Internet.

Most of the Internet media outlets had reacted to the news in a straightforward manner. I cannot recall any media outlet reacting to the news with any satisfaction or glee. But I did come across a good number of articles on the Internet that conveyed a negative response to the news. For example:

*Jessica Mason wrote a dismissive article for THE MARY SUE BLOG, conveying the idea that moviegoers should not care about this news. Ms. Mason seemed to believe that the Snyder Cut will not elevate the movie’s quality . . . period and that comic book movie fans should spend their time anticipating productions like “DOOM PATROL” (because it also features the character Victor Stone aka Cyborg).

*USA TODAY had posted an article written by the Associated Press announcing the release of the Snyder Cut in a straightforward manner. However . . . the media outlet included a video clip of the “Imagine” montage that had been kick-started by Gal Gadot, who portrayed Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman in the film. As many know, the “Imagine” video was dismissed by many people. So, why did “USA Today” include that video with a story about the Snyder Cut release … instead of an image of the cast from the movie? Why did it do that?

*To my utmost surprise, I had come across three articles that expressed this belief that Warner Brothers’ decision to release the Synder Cut was a sign that Hollywood was setting a dangerous precedent by giving in to “toxic fandom”. In other words, Hollywood is finally allowing certain fans to dictate the content of pop culture films. Now, I have complained about this subject in the past. I have also noticed how some television networks have given in to the desire of some fans to save television series like CBS’s “JERICHO” and NBC’s “CHUCK”. But I also know the difference between fans dictating the content of films and television shows and fans wanting to see the original version of a certain film – namely “JUSTICE LEAGUE” – whose content has been dictated by others – whether it is Snyder, director Joss Whedon or Warner Brothers. Apparently, the following authors of these article failed to see the difference:

– Paul Squire of “DIGITAL TRENDS”

– Drew Taylor of “COLLIER”

– Joanna Robinson of “VANITY FAIR”

I get the feeling that many of these journalists/critics are threatened by the idea of Zack Snyder’s vision of “JUSTICE LEAGUE” seeing the light of day. And I find this attitude mystifying for a movie that is suppose to be terrible. Why did they go out of their way to express such hostility toward this news?

P.S. . . . “ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE” was finally released on the streaming channel, HBO Max in March 2021 and proved to be a big hit.

Favorite Movies Set in BOSTON

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a list of my favorite movies set or partially set in Boston, Massachusetts:

 

FAVORITE MOVIES SET IN BOSTON

1. “The Town” (2010) – Ben Affleck directed and starred in this tight and emotional crime thriller about a professional thief torn between his feelings for a bank manager from an earlier heist and his fellow thieves as they prepare to score one last major heist. Rebecca Hall and Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner co-starred.

2. “The Departed” (2006) – Oscar winner Martin Scorcese directed this Best Picture winner and remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs” about an undercover cop and a police mole for an Irish gang in South Boston attempts to identify each other. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon starred.

3. “Spotlight” (2015) – Oscar nominee Tom Mcarthy co-wrote and directed this Oscar winning movie about The Boston Globe‘s investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. Michael Keaton, Oscar nominees Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams starred.

4. “Glory” (1989) – Edward Zwick directed this movie about the first year of the all black 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the U.S. Civil War. Matthew Broderick, Oscar winner Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman starred.

5. “Good Will Hunting” (1997) – Gus Van Sant directed this tale about a young janitor at M.I.T. with a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. The movie starred Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Ben Affleck and Oscar winner Robin Williams. Both Affleck and Damon won Oscars for their screenplay.

6. “Now Voyager” (1942) – Bette Davis starred in this adaptation of Olive Higgins Prouty’s novel about a spinster who turns to therapy to overcome her tyrannical mother’s control over her. Directed by Irving Rapper, the movie co-starred Paul Henreid and Claude Rains.

7. “R.I.P.D.” (2013) – Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds starred in this silly, yet fun adaptation of Peter M. Lenkov’s comic book, “Rest in Peace Department” about a recently slain cop who joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department, an organization that finds and returns souls who refuse to move on to the afterlife. Robert Schwentke directed.

8. “Johnny Tremain” (1957) – Robert Stevenson directed this Disney adaptation of Esther Forbes’ 1944 novel about an apprentice in colonial Boston, who witnesses and experiences the events leading up to the American Revolution. Hal Stalmaster, Luana Patten and Richard Beymer starred.

9. “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968) – Norman Jewison produced and directed this stylized movie about a wealthy Boston banker-sportsman who attracts the attention of a sharp insurance investigator following his successful heist of a local bank. The movie starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.

10. “Gone Baby Gone” (2007) – Ben Affleck directed this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 1998 novel about two private investigators hired to find a missing toddler. Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan starred.

“THE GOOD SHEPHERD” (2006) Review

“THE GOOD SHEPHERD” (2006) Review

As far as I know, Academy Award winning actor Robert De Niro has directed at least two movies during his long career. One of them was the 1992 movie, “A BRONX’S TALE”, which I have yet to see. The other was the 2006 espionage epic called “THE GOOD SHEPHERD”.

Starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” told the fictionalized story about the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) and counter-intelligence through the eyes of one man named Edward Wilson. Edward, the product of an East Coast aristocratic family and a C.I.A. official, has received an anonymous package during the spring of 1961. The famous C.I.A operation, the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba had just failed. Inside the package is a reel-to-reel tape that reveals two unidentifiable people engaged in sex. Suspecting that the tape might reveal leads to the failure behind the Cuban operation, Edward has the tape investigated. The results lead to a possibility that the operation’s failure may have originated very close to home. During Edward’s investigation of the reel tape and the failure behind the Bay of Pigs, the movie reveals the history of his personal life and his career in both the C.I.A. and the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) during World War II.

Many film critics and historians believe that the Edward Wilson character in “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” is loosely based upon the lives and careers of American intelligence officers, James Jesus Angelton and Richard M. Bissell, Jr.. And there might be some truth in this observation. But if I must be frank, I was never really concerned if the movie was a loose biography of anyone associated with the C.I.A. My concerns mainly focused on whether “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” is a good movie. Mind you, I had a few quibbles with it, but in the end I thought it was an above-average movie that gave moviegoers a peek into the operations of the C.I.A. and this country’s history between 1939 and 1961.

It is a pity that “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” was marred by a handful of prominent flaws. It really had the potential to be a well-made and memorable film. One of the problems I had were most of the characters’ emotional repression. Are we really supposed to believe that nearly every member of the upper-class in the country’s Northeast region are incapable of expressing overt emotion? I am not claiming that the performances were bad. Frankly, I was very impress by the performances featured in the movie. But the idea of nearly every major character – especially those born with a silver spoon – barely speaking above an audible whisper, due to his or her priviledged background, strikes me as more of a cliché than interesting and/or original characterization. I never understood what led Edward to finally realize that the man he believed was the genuine KGB defector Valentin Mironov, was actually a double agent. He should have realized this when the real Mironov had arrived several years earlier. The circumstances that led Edward to seek evidence inside one of the fake defector’s struck me as rather vague and far-reaching on screenwriter Eric Roth’s part. My main problem with “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” was its pacing. It was simply TOO DAMN SLOW. The movie has an interesting story, but De Niro’s snail-like pacing made it difficult for me to maintain my interest in one sitting. Thank goodness for DVDs. I feel that the only way to truly appreciate “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” without falling asleep is to watch a DVD copy in installments.

However, thanks to Eric Roth’s screenplay and Robert De Niro’s direction, “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” offered plenty of scenes and moments to enjoy. The moment of seduction at a Skull and Bones gathering that led Edward into a loveless marriage with Margaret ‘Clover’ Russell struck me as fascinating. It was a moment filled with passion and sex. Yet, the circumstances – namely Margaret’s pregnancy – forced Edward to give up a college love and marry a woman he did not truly love. I also enjoyed how De Niro and Roth used flashbacks to reveal the incidents in Edward’s post-college life and C.I.A. career, while he persisted into his investigation of the mysterious tape in the movie’s present day (1961). I was especially impressed by De Niro’s smooth ability to handle the transition from the present, to the past and back without missing a beat.

There were two scenes really stood out for me. One involved the Agency’s interrogation of the real Soviet defector, Valentin Mironov. I found it brutal, somewhat bloody and rather tragic in a perverse way. The other scene featured a loud and emotional quarrel between Edward and Margaret over the latter’s demand that Edward should convince his son not to join the C.I.A. What made this quarrel interesting is that after twenty years of a quiet and repressive marriage, the two finally revealed their true feelings for each other. But the best aspect of “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” was its depiction of how a decent, yet flawed allowed his work in intelligence and his position of power within the intelligence community warp his character. The higher Edward rose within the ranks of the C.I.A., the more he distanced himself from his family with his lies and secrets, and the more he was willing to corrupt himself in the name of national security . . . even to the extent of disrupting his son’s chance for happiness.

“THE GOOD SHEPHERD” must be one of the few large-scale movie productions, whose photography and production designs failed to give the impression of an epic. I found Robert Richardson’s photography rather limited, despite the numerous settings featured in the plot. So much of the movie’s scenes featured an interior setting. Yet, even most of the exterior scenes seemed to reflect a limited view. In the end, it was up to the movie’s 167 minute running time and 22 years time span that gave “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” an epic feel to it.

Robert De Niro and the casting team did a pretty good job in their selection of the cast. The only one I had a problem with was actor Lee Pace, who portrayed a fictionalized version of C.I.A. director Richard Helms named . . . Richard Hayes. I have always viewed Pace as an outstanding actor, but he spent most of his scenes smirking on the sidelines or making slightly insidious comments to the Edward Wilson character. I believe Roth’s screenplay had failed to give substance to his role. But there were plenty of other good supporting performances. I was especially impressed by Oleg Shtefanko’s subtle, yet insidious portryal of Edward’s KGB counterpart, Stas Siyanko aka Ulysses. Director Robert De Niro, John Sessions, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, Billy Crudup, Joe Pesci and Tammy Blanchard all gave solid performances. Eddie Redmayne held his own with both Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie as the Wilsons’ intimidated and resentful son, Edward Wilson, Jr. Michael Gambon was his usual competent self as an MI-6 spymaster named Dr. Fredricks. Gambon was also lucky to give one of the best lines in the movie.

At least three performances impressed me. John Tuturro was very memorable as Edward’s tough and ruthless deputy, Ray Brocco. For once, De Niro’s insistence upon minimilist acting worked very well in Tuturro’s favor. The actor did an excellent job in portraying Brocco’s aggression with a very subtle performance, producing an interesting contrast in the character’s personality. I realize that Angelina Jolie had won her Oscar for “GIRL, INTERRUPTED”, a movie that had been released at least seven years before “THE GOOD SHEPHERD”. But I sincerely believe that her portryal of Edward’s long suffering wife, Margaret, was the first role in which she truly impressed me. She tossed away her usual habits and little tricks in order to give a very mature and subtle performance as a woman slowly sinking under the weight of a loveless and repressive marriage. And I believe that Jolie has not looked back, since. The task of carrying the 167-minute film fell upon the shoulders of Matt Damon and as usual, he was more than up to the job. And while there were times when his performance seemed a bit too subtle, I cannot deny that he did a superb job of developing the Edward Wilson character from a priviledge, yet inexperienced college student to a mature and emotionally repressed man who was willing to live with the negative aspects of his profession.

I do not believe that “THE GOOD SHEPHERD” will ever be considered as a great film. It has a small number of flaws, but those flaws were not as minor as they should have been – especially the slow pacing that threatened to put me to sleep. But I cannot deny it is damn good movie, thanks to Robert De Niro’s direction, Eric Roth’s screenplay and a talented cast led by Matt Damon. Five years have passed since its release. It seems a pity that De Niro has not directed a movie since.

 

Favorite Movie and Television Productions About Journalism

Below is a list (in chronological order) of my favorite movie and television productions about journalism or features journalism:

 

FAVORITE MOVIE AND TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS ABOUT JOURNALISM

1 - His Girl Friday

1. “His Girl Friday” (1940) – Howard Hawks directed this second adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s 1931 stage play, “The Front Page”. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell starred.

 

2 - Roman Holiday

2. “Roman Holiday” (1953) – William Wyler directed this delightful comedy about a bored European princess visiting Rome on a state visit, who becomes involved with an American reporter after giving her courtiers the slip. Gregory Peck, Oscar winner Audrey Hepburn and Eddie Albert starred.

 

3 - All the Presidents Men

3. “All the President’s Men” (1976) – Alan J. Pakula directed this Oscar nominated adaptation of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s 1974 book about their investigation of the Watergate scandal. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman directed.

 

4 - Broadcast News

4. “Broadcast News” (1987) – James L. Brooks directed this Oscar-nominated tale about a love triangle between a neurotic television news producer; a prickly reporter, who happens to be her best friend and a charismatic, yet less intelligent news anchorman. Oscar nominees Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks and William Hurt starred.

 

5 - The Pelican Brief

5. “The Pelican Brief” (1993) – Alan J. Pakula directed this adaptation of John Grisham’s 1992 novel about a Tulane University law student and a Washington D.C. reporter investigating the assassinations of two Supreme Court justices. Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts starred.

 

6 - Lois and Clark - The New Adventures of Superman

6. “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1993-1997) – Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher starred in this television series about Superman, which heavily emphasized on Clark Kent aka Superman and Lois Lane’s relationship and roles as journalists for The Daily Planet. The series was created by Deborah Joy LeVine.

 

7 - State of Play 2003

7. “State of Play” (2003) – John Simm and David Morissey stared in this six-part miniseries about a newspaper’s investigation into the death of a political researcher, who worked for a Member of Parliament (MP) investigating the connection between the oil industry and corrupt high-ranking ministers. Created by Paul Abbott, the miniseries was directed by David Yates.

 

8 - Good Night and Good Luck

8. “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005) – Oscar nominee David Strathairn, George Clooney and Jeff Daniels starred into this historical drama about the conflict between Edward R. Murrow and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin about the Cold War blacklists of the 1950s. The Oscar nominated movie was directed by Clooney and co-written with Grant Heslov.

 

9 - State of Play 2009

9. “State of Play” (2009) – Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck starred in this movie adaptation of Paul Abbott’s 2003 television miniseries in which a Washington D.C. newspaper investigates the death of a political researcher who worked for a congressman investigating the connection between a private defense contractor and corrupt high-ranking politicians. Kevin Macdonald directed.

 

10 - Spotlight

10. “Spotlight” (2015) – Tom McCarthy co-wrote and directed this account of The Boston Globe‘s investigation into widespread and systemic cases of child sex abuse by numerous Roman Catholic priests in Boston. Michael Keaton, along with Oscar nominees Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams starred.

“JUSTICE LEAGUE” (2017) Review

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“JUSTICE LEAGUE” (2017) Review

The D.C. Comics Extended Universe (DCEU) released its fifth film utilizing several characters that were either featured or hinted in its previous four films during the fall of 2017. Directed by Zack Snyder (well, most of it), “JUSTICE LEAGUE” proved to be an even more controversial entry than two of its previous films. Only for different reasons.

Set some time after the present-day events of “WONDER WOMAN”“JUSTICE LEAGUE” begins with the Gotham City costumed vigilante Batman aka Bruce Wayne attempting to arrest a thief. However, his efforts are interrupted by the arrival of an alien creature known as a parademon. Realizing that he had dreamed of a similar creature in “BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE”, Batman realizes that Earth is about to face another alien threat. Before he can summon Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince, she learns of an even bigger threat from her mother, Queen Hippolyta of Themyscira. A former foe known as Steppenwolf has arrived on Earth to acquire the three Mother Boxes, sentient, miniaturized, portable supercomputers from his homeworld of Apokolips. One of the boxes had been guarded by the Amazons of Themyscira for thousands of years. The pair decides to find the other metahumans – Barry Allen aka the Flash, Victor Stone aka Cyborg (whose body was cured by a Mother Box) and Arthur Curry aka Aquaman – and form a team to fight against Steppenwolf. Bruce manages to easily recruit the Flash, but is unable to recruit Aquaman. And Diana encounters difficulty in recruiting Cyborg. But when Steppenwolf manages to acquire the second Mother Box in Aquaman’s world of Atlantis, the “King of the Seven Seas” decides to join the newly formed Justice League to defeat the alien from Apokolips. However, it is not long before the League realizes they need a sixth member to help them defeat Steppenwolf – namely the recently deceased Superman.

Ever since the release of “MAN OF STEEL” in 2013, critics and some moviegoers have been highly critical of the DCEU. With the exception of “WONDER WOMAN”, the franchise’s movies have either received mixed reviews or panned. In the case of “JUSTICE LEAGUE”, it has been panned . . . perhaps even more so than the other four films. Personally, I have been a major fan of the DCEU films before “JUSTICE LEAGUE”. Do I believe the movie deserved to panned? Honestly? No. But I do feel that “JUSTICE LEAGUE” is probably the first DCEU film toward which I felt some disappointment.

There was a good deal from “JUSTICE LEAGUE” that I enjoyed. The creation of the Justice League began when Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman formed a team to battle Lex Luthor’s creation, Doomsday, in “BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE”. This creation continued with Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince’s recruitment of the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. And if I must be honest, I enjoyed how the movie’s screenplay took its time in fusing these characters into the League. I found this especially satisfying, since both Cyborg and Aquaman proved rather difficult to recruit. What finally drove them all together as a team proved to be the threat of Steppenwolf.

This leads me to something else I enjoyed about the film. Steppenwolf’s acquisition of two Mother Boxes provided some first-rate action sequences featuring the Amazons on Themyscira and the Atlantis inhabitants’ efforts to stop him. And they did not make it easy for him. I especially enjoyed the sequence featuring Steppenwolf’s theft of the Mother Box on Themyscira. There were other action sequences that enjoyed. One of them included the League’s first encounter with Steppenwolf inside an abandoned facility near the Gotham City Harbor. I also enjoyed the League’s second attempt to defeat Steppenwolf and his Parademon army at a small Russian village, where the Apokoliptian planned to fuse the three Mother Boxes and terraform the Earth’s surface. I also enjoyed an early action sequence that featured Wonder Woman’s confrontation with a group of terrorists in London. But for me, my favorite action sequence featured the League’s confrontation with a recently resurrected and amnesiac Superman. Although I found it rather scary, thanks to Henry Cavill’s chilling performance, there was a comedic moment that I found very funny.

As much as I enjoyed most of the film’s action sequences, I found a good deal of its comedic and dramatic moments even more satisfying. It seemed pretty obvious to me that the film’s two comedy relief characters were Barry Allen aka the Flash and Arthur Curry aka Aquaman. And I found both characters more than satisfactory, thanks to Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa’s performances. Miller’s Barry Allen was an extroverted and nervous personality that was at odds with his inability to easily befriend others. This was especially apparent in one scene that featured the initial meeting between Barry and Bruce Wayne at the former’s abode and his attempts to befriend Victor Stone aka Cyborg. But the one scene that truly made me appreciate Miller’s comedic talent occurred when the League clashed with a resurrected, yet amnesiac Superman and the Flash attempted to attack the Man of Steel from behind . . . and failed. Jason Momoa’s portrayal of Arthur Curry also provided a good deal of the movie’s comedic moments. Momoa’s portrayal of the blunt and cynical King of the Seven Seas practically had me in stitches. But I especially enjoyed that moment when Aquaman unexpectedly went into a comedic spiel about fighting Steppenwolf and his appreciation for Wonder Woman . . . unaware that he was sitting on her Lasso of Truth.

However, there were many dramatic moments that made me happily realize that “JUSTICE LEAGUE” was not all comedy and action. The movie’s opening credits featured a poignant montage that revealed the world’s grief over Superman’s death. One particular scene – a homeless man holding a “I TRIED” sign next to him – really resonated within me. I thought Martha Kent’s visit to Lois Lane in Metropolis and the two women’s shared grief over Clark/Superman’s demise was particularly poignant, thanks to Diane Lane and Amy Adams’ performances. I particularly enjoyed one scene that featured a tense conversation between Cyborg and his father, Dr. Silas Stone over the latter’s decision to use a Mother Box to save the former’s life. May I be frank? Both Ray Fisher, who portrayed the superhero and Joe Morton, who portrayed his father, really knocked it out of the ballpark in this scene. I was not that impressed by the CGI used for the Steppenwolf character. But I must admit that I enjoyed Ciarán Hinds’ voice performance for the villain. The actor projected a good deal of style and menace into the character.

I enjoyed Clark’s reunion with both Lois and Martha. Although I feel that it was a bit too brief for my tastes, I cannot deny that I found it emotionally satisfying. And I enjoyed the tense conversation between Aquaman and future love interest, Mera of Atlantis. The scene seemed to give audiences a preview of the screen dynamics between Momoa and Amber Heard, who portrayed Mera. But if I had to pick my favorite dramatic moment in “JUSTICE LEAGUE”, it would have to be the scene that featured Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince’s conversation regarding his continuing guilt over his past attempt to kill Superman and her lingering grief over the death of her former lover/colleague, Steve Trevor. Thanks to superb and subtle performances from Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, the scene was a tense and angst-riddled moment that I truly enjoyed.

Zack Snyder had collaborated with cinematographer Larry Fong on four films – “300” (2007)“WATCHMEN” (2009)“SUCKER PUNCH” (2011) and especially, “BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE” (2016). For “JUSTICE LEAGUE”, Synder ended up collaborating with Fabian Wagner, who had previously spent most of his career in television – especially HBO’s “GAME OF THRONES”. However, I am not that familiar with Wagner’s previous work. But I must admit that I was impressed by his work in “JUSTICE LEAGUE”. His work proved to be a bit brighter than Fong’s work in “BATMAN V. SUPERMAN”. This is not that surprising, considering that the movie’s narrative is slightly less angsty than the 2016 film. But I was especially impressed by his photography of the film’s protagonists, as shown below:

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One would be inclined to wonder why I had regarded “JUSTICE LEAGUE” as something of a disappointment, due to my positive comments on it. Well . . . I had problems with the film. Hell, I have expressed quibbles for about every comic book movie I have seen. My first problem with “JUSTICE LEAGUE” there were times when it seemed I was viewing a movie with two directors . . . with two different styles. Well of course the movie seemed to possess two different directors. As everyone knows, Zack Snyder had experienced a family tragedy while dealing with the film’s post-production. Unable to continue, he asked Joss Whedon, who had directed the two Avengers films for Marvel/Disney, to complete the post-production reshoots, using his notes. Well . . . Whedon did more than that. At the behest of the Warner Brothers executives, he chopped out a good deal of Snyder’s work, re-shot and re-wrote at least 30 percent of the movie in a similar style he had used for the Avengers films. In the end, there were times when “JUSTICE LEAGUE” seemed like a DCEU film trying to look like a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie. I found this very confusing – especially in the film’s third and final act.

One of the results of this hack job by Whedon and Warner Brothers was the decision to change the film’s composer. They tossed out Junkie XL (who had co-written the “BATMAN V. SUPERMAN” score with Hans Zimmer)’s score and hired Danny Elfman to replace it. Now . . . I have been a fan of some of Elfman’s work for years. But what he did for this film’s score? As far as I am concerned . . . nothing. Elfman fell back on the nostalgia factor by utilizing his old score from the two Batman films directed by Tim Burton. Worse, there was a moment following Superman’s resurrection – I do no know if this happened or not, but I could have sworn that right after the resurrection or when the Man of Steel confronted Steppenwolf for the first time – Elfman even used a few bars from John Williams’ score for the 1978 film, “SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE”. All I can say that it was a very cringe-worthy moment for me.

Speaking of Superman . . . what in the hell happened? Granted, I really enjoyed the sequences featuring his resurrection, his clash with the League’s other members and his reunions with Lois and Martha. But once Superman joined the League’s battle against Steppenwolf . . . I just do not know what happened. It seemed as if someone – I suspect it was Whedon – tried to transform him into Christopher Reeve’s version of the Man of Steel. Ugh! Look, Chris Reeve’s Superman was fine for the late 20th century. But we are nearing the end of the 2010s. Henry Cavill had managed to establish his own version of Superman. There was no need to force him to copy another actor’s style. One other fact bothered me. I am referring to the questionable CGI that tried to hide the mustache he was sporting, while filming “MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT”. Apparently, Paramount Studios refused to allow Cavill to shave the moustache for the “JUSTICE LEAGUE” re-shoots. Between the cringe-worthy grinning, the cheesy dialogue and that ridiculous race against the Flash in the first post-credit scene, I simply found myself feeling sorry for Henry Cavill. In fact, either Snyder or Whedon (I suspect the latter) tried to lighten up Affleck’s performance as Batman by forcing the latter to spew some pretty lame jokes. Poor man. In their attempt to transform the movie into an Avengers film, the Warner Brothers suits damn near sabotaged both the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight.

But for me, the real problem proved to be the film’s last act. It brought back bad memories of the last act of the 2015 movie, “THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON”. The entire sequence featuring the Justice League’s battle against Steppenwolf and the latter’s parademon army at some Russian village struck me as simply confusing. It was beyond confusing. Between the questionable editing, the unattractive lighting, and the rushed action, I simply found the entire sequence hard to swallow. I can only thank God that Russian village was not rising in the sky, while the Justice League battle Steppenwolf. That shit would have been even more difficult to swallow. The first post-credit scene featuring Superman and the Flash’s race to see who was the fastest did not help. Why is it so damn important in a D.C. Comics movie or television production to show a Kryptonian (whether it was Superman or Supergirl) in a race with the Flash? I disliked it in this movie and I disliked it in a Season One episode of the Arrowverse’s “SUPERGIRL”. Fortunately, the second post-credit scene nearly made up for the film’s last thirty minutes or so. I will say that it involved Lex Luthor and one of Batman’s former foes, Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke. It proved to be a great surprise.

So, there you have it. Do not get me wrong. “JUSTICE LEAGUE” provided some great action scenes and dramatic moments. It also featured some excellent performances, as well. However, it is quite obvious that the Warner Brothers executives and Joss Whedon made a serious mistake in ignoring Zack Snyder’s post-production instructions and trying to transform the movie into their own version of a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film. In a way, they did. “JUSTICE LEAGUE” strongly reminded me of Marvel’s 2015 movie, “THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON” – both the good and the bad.

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“SPOTLIGHT” (2015) Review

“SPOTLIGHT” (2015) Review

Have you ever watched a movie on DVD or cable that you regret not seeing in the movie theaters? I have. In fact, I have seen at least three films nominated for Best Picture . . . after they had been released on DVD. One of those films was the actual Best Picture winner, “SPOTLIGHT”

Directed by Oscar nominee Thomas McCarthy, “SPOTLIGHT” told the story of The Boston Globe‘s “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. The story began in 2001 when a new editor named Marty Baron is hired by The Globe. During a staff meeting, Baron brought up the subject of a Boston priest named John Geoghan, who was sexually abusing children and nothing was done – by the Church or the city’s law enforcement – to stop him. Baron urged the “Spotlight” team to investigate. Initially believing that they are following the story of one priest who was moved around several times, the “Spotlight” team eventually uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests throughout Massachusetts and an ongoing cover-up by the Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law.

After watching “SPOTLIGHT”, I easily understood why it had received a good deal of acclaim and award nominations. It really is a first rate movie. Due to the fact that the movie focused on a newspaper investigation team, it allowed moviegoers to enjoy the team’s step-by-step investigation into the priests and their victims in the Boston area. I might as well say it. The movie reminded me of the 1975 Oscar nominee, “ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN” . . . and in a good way. I have not seen a really good movie about investigative journalism in a long time. I also have to commend director Thomas McCarthy and his co-writer Josh Singer for conveying the “Spotlight” team’s discoveries via interviews and records in a well-paced manner. McCarthy did not rush the“Spotlight” team’s investigation, but he did not drag it as well. In the end, the investigation itself struck me as a fascinating mystery that developed into a horror story that left me feeling appalled.

“SPOTLIGHT” not only received nominations for McCarthy’s direction and the screenplay that he wrote with Singer, it also received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Mark Ruffalo and Best Supporting Actress nomination for Rachel McAdams. The pair portrayed two members of the “Spotlight” team – Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer. I will admit that both gave first-rate performances. The movie also featured excellent performances from Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron, who started the whole thing in motion; John Slattery as Assistant Managing Editor Ben Bradlee Jr.; Brian d’Arcy James as reporter Matt Carroll; Jamey Sheridan as Catholic Church attorney Jim Sullivan; and Billy Crudup as attorney Eric MacLeish.

Ironically, my two favorite performances in the movie did not receive any Academy Award or Golden Globe nominations. One came from Stanley Tucci, who portrayed Mitchell Garabedian, a sharp-tongued attorney who represented many sexual abuse victim. I enjoyed Tucci’s sardonic, yet understated performance and how his character pointed out how many Boston officials cooperated with the Catholic Church to cover up the abuses. I also enjoyed Michael Keaton’s ambiguous portrayal of editor and the team’s leader, Walter “Robby” Robinson. Keaton did a great job in not only conveying his character’s leadership, but also his knowledge that The Globe had learned about the abuses years earlier, but had covered it up. It seemed a shame that he did not receive an Academy or Golden Globe nomination.

As much as I enjoyed “SPOTLIGHT” and was impressed by it, a part of me feels that it should not have won the Best Picture award. I think the Academy had awarded the film its top honor simply based upon its topic. The problem for me is that “SPOTLIGHT” simply lacked any real artistry. One might accuse me of being shallow. Perhaps I am. But I would prefer to choose a movie that not only provided a great topic, but also first-rate writing . . . and artistry. I can think of two other films that were also nominated the same year as “SPOTLIGHT” that provided all of those features. Someone once pointed out that if you take away the movie’s topic of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, “SPOTLIGHT” would come off as a solid, paint-by-the numbers film by a first-time director. And you know what? That person was right. There were times when McCarthy’s direction for “SPOTLIGHT” seemed a bit amateurish.

Even though I feel that “SPOTLIGHT” should not have won the Best Picture Oscar for 2015, I cannot deny that it is a basically an first-rate film. I believe that this is due to its fascinating subject, the film’s approach to the topic as a mystery and the excellent cast led by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams.

 

 

Top Favorite Movies of 2017

Below is a list of my favorite movies of 2017( List subject to change):

 

 

TOP FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2017

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1. “Dunkirk” – Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this acclaimed look at the British Expeditionary Force’s evacuation from Dunkirk, France in 1940. Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance starred.

 

 
 
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2. “Wonder Woman” – Gal Gadot starred in this movie about the D.C. Comics’ heroine Wonder Woman and her experiences during World War I. Patty Jenkins directed.

 

 
 
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3. “Murder on the Orient Express” – Kenneth Branaugh directed and starred in this fifth adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel about a murder aboard the famed Orient Express. Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfieffer co-starred.

 

 
 
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4. “I, Tonya” – Margot Robbie starred in this deliciously bizarre biopic about the controversial Olympic ice skater, Tonya Harding. Directed by David Gillespie, the movie co-starred Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney.

 

 
 
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5. “Marshall” – Chadwick Boseman starred in this interesting biopic about an early case of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Directed by Reginald Hudlin, Josh Gad and Sterling K. Brown co-starred.

 

 
 
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6. “The Post” – Steven Spielberg directed this fascinating look about The Washington Post’s efforts to publish “The Pentagon Papers”, the controversial Department of Defense documents about the Vietnam War. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks starred.

 

 
 
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7. “Detroit” – Kathryn Biegelow directed this harrowing look at the Algiers Motel incident during Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot. John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith and Anthony Mackie starred.

 

 
 
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8. “Justice League” – Zack Snyder directed (most of it) this entertaining, yet flawed tale about the formation of the Justice League of America and its battle against the alien villain known as Steppenwolf. Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa and Henry Cavill starred.

 

 
 
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9. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” – Johnny Depp returned as Jack Sparrow in this funny, yet slightly poignant fifth entry in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise. Directed by Espen Sanberg and Joachim Rønning, the movie co-starred Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario.

 

 
 
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10. “Logan” – Hugh Jackman and director James Manigold reunited for this haunting adaptation of the 2008 Marvel Comics tale, “Old Man Logan”. Patrick Stewart co-stars as Charles Xavier aka “Professor X”.

 

 
 
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Honorable Mention: “Baby Driver” – Edgar Wright wrote and directed this tale about a young Atlanta getaway driver and music lover who is forced to work for a kingpin in order to settle a debt. Ansel Elgort, Lily James and Kevin Spacey starred.