Justice League (dir. Zack Snyder & Joss Whedon, 2017) – After Superman’s sacrifice, Bruce Wayne enlists four other known superheroes to fight against the threat of Steppenwolf.
In a highly anticipated assembly of beloved heroes, Justice League banks on pace and humour to distract from its characterisation flaws, to little avail.
With The Avengers out on their third spin and counting, pressure on DC’s own supergroup debut continues to mount. There was never a chance that Batman vs Superman’s dismal performance would have stalled the long-gestating birth of the Justice League.
Excitement no doubt surrounds the inauguration of the beloved heroes in live action. Sadly, the team’s formation proves premature. History repeats as with the disastrous Suicide Squad, where one too many iconic characters were forced to share first appearances in a runtime of under two hours, leaving behind weak impressions.
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Wonder Woman (dir. Patty Jenkins, 2017) – When a pilot crashes on Paradise Island, young Diana learns of the conflict beyond her Amazonian world and decides to leave home for a war to end all wars.
Taking a breather from the sullen skirmishes of the budding Justice League, Wonder Woman brings hope in her faith for humanity and to the DC Extended Universe.
There are very few things I can say about Wonder Woman that has not already been said. It is empowering, tons of fun, and everything an epic adventure should feel like. But how can anyone not rave on about the first superheroine film that has risen above this male-dominated genre?
It is perfect timing too. Post-Nolan, the DCEU has gotten onto an uneven restart. The dour monotony that Zack Snyder has imposed on the new era, has long been clamouring for a new voice. This challenge falls into the steady hands of Patty Jenkins, who has previously steered Monster to tremendous acclaim, and is about the same for the Amazonian warrior.
Jenkins’ involvement is in itself a cause for celebration. Historically, there are hardly any female filmmakers in comic book adaptations. Lexi Alexander is the only one who comes to mind, with her nine-year-old Punisher: War Zone. What better joy than to watch a woman take on the task of introducing the iconic Princess of Themyscira?
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Suicide Squad (dir. David Ayer, 2016) – A secret government agency recruits an expendable team of supervillains to execute dangerous missions in exchange for clemency.
An unfulfilled promise of the world’s worst heroes takes the ‘fun’ out of ‘funeral’ as a vivid palette fails to hide how bland Suicide Squad is.
In the wake of Batman V Superman, national security calls for new defenses against rogue meta-humans. Intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) places her bet on super-villains and forms her own Expendables, in her bid to fight fire with fire.
Colonel Rick Flag (Joe Kinnaman) is placed in reluctant charge, backed by a sword-wielding and criminally underused Katana (Karen Fukuhara). Both guard the ragtag team in uneasy mistrust. Fair game, considering that a covert task force of murderers and assassins sounds like an exceptionally bad idea. Good thing that the worst of the worst is actually, well… pretty all right.
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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (dir. Zack Snyder, 2016) – Holding Superman responsible for the damage that he caused, Batman takes on the Man of Steel as the world questions the kind of heroism they need.
Ambition backfires in Batman V Superman, as mindless action reigns over the chaotic narrative that lacks potential sophistication.
Casualties strew the street of Metropolis in the wake of an indiscriminate Kryptonian battle. Rage brews in the aftermath, where victims denounce Kal-El (Henry Cavill) for bringing his war to Earth. Twice unable to stop the murders of his loved ones, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sees reason to act upon the fatal destruction. Taking the Man of Steel to task for his actions, he begins a war that brings glee to their common enemy.
Underlying the clash of the titans is an inevitable and aptly complex conundrum, one that befalls all who take the law into their own hands: Where do we draw the line? Questioning who defines the rules, Batman V Superman (hereinafter BvS) puts the extremes of vigilantism on a fascinating trial.
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Man of Steel (dir. Zack Snyder, 2013) – Clark Kent embarks on a journey to become the symbol of hope for mankind.
Taking flight in the right direction with moments of turbulence, Man of Steel builds a welcome beginning to a much needed DC Cinematic Universe.
Doubts abound when plans for Man of Steel surface. Will the Batman Begins treatment work for the Kryptonian hero? While the caped crusader had to find his strength in arduous training, Clark Kent was born Superman. How then does a virtually indestructible humanoid become relatable and relevant in our world?
Screenwriter David S. Goyer finds the heart of the story back on the humble farms in Smallville, where young Kar-El comes to term with his conflicting identities in the duality of both worlds, and finds out what it means to be Clark Kent on Earth.
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The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2012) – A new menace threatens to destroy long-standing peace in Gotham, necessitating the return of its silent protector.
Every great magic trick comprises three acts, the third its hardest. Though weaker than its predecessors, The Dark Knight Rises brings the trilogy to a fitting and satisfying conclusion.
Following the critical failure of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, Darren Aronofsky’s Year One sounded like a promising fresh slate. If only the project had not fallen through. For years, the Gotham hero seemed destined to recede far beyond the depth of his Batcave.
Then it finally began, a little over seven years ago. Director Christopher Nolan shifts the superhero genre into the different direction it deserves. His darker take finds its place in the gritty corners of our real world. Veering away from the hero-versus-villain model, Batman Begins stems from a little-seen story of how Bruce Wayne came to don the cape.
We watch his ideals form, grounded by his traumatic childhood, vengeance-fuelled determination and the people who made him the man that he is. As writer David S. Goyer puts it, the delve into the vigilante’s origins gets the audience “to care about Bruce Wayne and not even care or not if he’s in the costume”.
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