(*homocinematically inclined)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dearest... 2016: Superfriends


Movie Dearest starts out 2017 by… looking back at 2016. First up: look up on the screen, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… more superhero movies!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
Is this Warner’s answer to the Marvel money-making machine? Do they really think DC Comics fans want a movie universe where Jimmy Olsen is shot in the head, Ma Kent is kidnapped and tortured and Lex Luthor is a babbling techno-brat? And great Caesar’s ghost, why do they keep letting Zack Snyder fuck it up so bad over and over again? The film’s only pluses are that Ben Affleck is actually pretty good as the Caped Crusader (how about that?) and he has nice chemistry with Gal Gadot as the big screen’s first Wonder Woman, attributes they’ll need heading into the first Justice League movie later this year. Hera help us if Warner hasn’t by then learned their lesson after this one and… (5/10)

If only the whole movie was as cool as this one shot.

Suicide Squad:
A critical punching bag when it first came out, this supervillain mash up is actually more entertaining than BvS, if only in a “can’t look away from the train wreck” sort of way. Too overstuffed (even without the pretty much superfluous Joker, played by Jared Leto as a grilled-up gangsta pimp daddy) and laden with an overly-complicated plot that makes the odd/fatal choice of pitting this ragtag team of ground level badguys and gals against a supernatural being who (shocker) wants to take over the world. Note to superhero scribes: not every outing has to involve an “end of days” scenario. Standouts in the cast: Margot Robbie as fan favorite Harley Quinn and a woofy Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang. (6/10)


The other badboy superflick of the year turned out to be a box office smash and, more recently, surprise award season contender. What made it work was its gleeful subversion of cinematic superhero tropes that we've all become acutely aware of amidst this current genre glut. A labor of love for star Ryan Reynolds, who finally found a signature role perfectly fitting his sexy/snarky persona, yet one can only wonder how well this shtick will stick to the fan in its inevitable future installments. Oh, and we call bullshit on all that pre-release "pansexual" talk. (7/10)

Yeah, we said it.

X-Men: Apocalypse:
Upstaged by its loudmouthed red-suited stepchild, the latest outing of Marvel's merry mutants turns out to be the most comic book-y of all of last year's comic book movies, and I mean that in a good way. With a sprawling cast — including Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence (both looking like that can't wait to move on to other things), a finally bald James McAvoy and Oscar Isaac as the blue big bad — and action set pieces that span time and space, it feels like one of those multi-issue epic tales from back in the day. X-celsior! (7/10)

"Call my agent!"

Captain America: Civil War:
Following The Winter Soldier, the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, it's no wonder that Civil War doesn't quite live up to its predecessor as a Captain America movie, yet it is certainly a better Avengers movie than Age of Ultron was. Eh, semantics. The central conflict, that of these former superfriends on opposite sides of a vague ideological dispute, is rushed, and a hastily added subplot to introduce Spider-Man into the mix doesn't help the pacing of it all either. But there are plenty of terrific fight scenes, most notably a fanboy wet dream of a conflict at an abandoned airport that gives every hero a chance to show off their stuff. (7/10)

Oh, and it's about time somebody made that smug Tony Stark their bitch.

Doctor Strange:
I was never much of a fan of the "Sorcerer Supreme" in the comics, but I don't remember him being such a cut up. As opposed to the overly dour BvS, this movie takes it too far in the opposite direction, with Benedict Cumberbatch dropping lame one-liners and oh-so embarrassingly interacting with his Aladdin magic carpet-like cape. And when its not trying to crack up the Cumberbitches in the audience, it's trotting out the same three special effects over and over again and jabbering on about "astral planes" and other such New Age claptrap. By the time it gets to the so-called "Dark Dimension" (so brightly colored it must be powered by the Main Street Electrical Parade), I was too wearied by this computer generated smoke and mirrors show to care. (5/10)

"Must... not... fart..."

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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