THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Christopher Nolan, 2012)

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This movie was just like me: severely bloated. I felt every minute of that 3-hour running time (and yes, I slept through most of the second act).

Batman seemed to be suffering from PMS and Bane was such a weak and uninteresting villain. You know something was wrong when the supporting players carried the weight of the movie (I enjoyed every scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Caine).

Besides, any movie that still had time to squeeze in a kiss before the hero saved the day was a definite groaner.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 1, 2012.)

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BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):

1. I had always associated Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with the intersecting stories narrative where major characters in his films had their lives connected and intertwined (FYI, I really loved Amores Perros, Babel, and 21 Grams). It was one big gimmick that worked for me. I wasn’t surprised that his newest film relied on another gimmick (“one long continuous take”) to drive the story.

2. Off the bat, people would either love this or find it completely boring. There were so many insider jokes on cinema and theater and the arts that might just go over their heads. As one character stated, “Audiences love action, not this talking philosophical bullshit.”

3. Michael Keaton looked like Robert Duvall whenever he wasn’t wearing a wig. He was excellent here by the way. The mere fact that he agreed to make fun of his current status (washed up actor who used to be Batman!) was just brave. If Al Pacino could win for all the scenery-chewing in Scent of a Woman, why couldn’t Keaton? I wouldn’t be complaining if he got that Best Actor Oscar.

4. “You confuse love for admiration.” Raise your hand if you were guilty of this.

5. Edward Norton had a lot of nudity here (or scenes that showed him in his underwear or sported a boner). For a more lengthy peek on his gift, you could watch the brilliant American History X. I loved the Norton the Method Actor playing a Norton-ish Method Actor joke.

6. I was initially bothered by the drumming soundtrack. I was expecting Miles Teller to show up practicing in one corner. And then the movie revealed an actual drummer and later on a band in Times Square. I guess the joke was on me.

7. Naomi Watts’ character had this great repartee with Andrea Riseborough’s:

“Why don’t I have any self-respect?”

“You’re an actress, honey!”

8. Speaking of Watts, she was really good in this movie. I was surprised her performance was virtually overlooked against co-star Emma Stone. Everyone knew how much I loved Stone (I even named my car after her) but she was just fine here.

9. Speaking of, there was a blatant Lancome product placement that was here either as a real product placement or as a joke on product placements in movies (or both). With this kind of dark comedy, it was just hard to tell.

10. Similar to Annie, they showed a viral video that was taken from different angles. Probably the only sloppy thing in this film.

11. Did the film miss an Oscar nomination for Best Editing since it really looked like one continuous take? Shouldn’t it have gotten one for making it look like it was one brilliant, seamless take?

12. When Keaton’s character complained about getting overshadowed by Clooney, it was just a wink on the battle of the Batmans. I’d be happy to see a fourth Batman win an Oscar tbh.

13. I hope Wenn Deramas could watch this just for that wonderful takedown on film criticism. I bet he’d have a major meltdown.

14. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing.” This was a sad, sad film. Watch at your own risk.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)

JUSTICE LEAGUE (Zack Snyder, 2017)

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Poor Amy Adams! I had not seen her this lost since Princess Giselle got magically transported to modern day New York. She was in full “gunning for a sixth Oscar nomination” mode in a DC movie that suddenly wanted to be a lighter, funnier version of its recently dreary efforts.

For the record, I was one of thirteen people that actually liked Batman v Superman AND Suicide Squad. This one just took forever for the superheroes to assemble and I felt as sad as Ben Affleck’s Batman when I couldn’t really understand all that Mother Box story (wait, didn’t we see these cubes as well in The Avengers?).

At least Ezra Miller was funny as Flash even if he had the exact same sequences that were previously done by Evan Peters as Quicksilver (and none of them even close to that awesome Time in a Bottle in Days of Future Past). I wouldn’t mind just a Flash and Wonder Woman road trip movie ala Thelma and Louise (or even Crossroads). Hopefully, without any boxes this time.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (Zack Snyder, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:

1. I entered the cinema with incredibly low expectations because of brutal reviews from critics and terrible feedback from friends that camped out to watch the very first screening. I was also never fascinated with this match-up and saw it more like Alien vs Predator, a lame cash cow that pitted two popular characters for the sake of seeing which one had the bigger balls (or mandibles). Besides, when it was a battle between good vs good (or evil vs evil), would there even be a winner? When the movie was over, all I could think of was that it wasn’t bad at all. (Even better, it was no Man of Steel.)

2. If I was clueless on the Marvel Universe, I was even more lost in this DC Universe. I would not be geeking out and pointing various differences between the comic books and the movie because I really didn’t know anything, except from what I had seen in previous Superman and Batman movies. I was even puzzled because my idea of Wonder Woman was the red, white, and blue clad Lynda Carter with her magic lasso. Seriously, how many more times would we see another version of Bruce Wayne’s parents getting killed? Remember when Deadpool mentioned that he was getting confused with the timelines of X-Men (“McAvoy or Stewart?”), I felt the exact same way as soon as the flashback started.

3. At least the promised showdown didn’t disappoint. It clearly showed a battle between god and man, one with superhero powers and a major weakness and the other a rich mortal armed with hi-tech gadgets. When they started fighting and destroying buildings, I finally understood why the people hated these two. They were just major nuisances that disturbed the peace of their city.

4. There were two scenes where characters went for a dip even with their shoes on and it really bothered me. It would only take a minute to remove them. Why subject yourselves to super kachichas?

5. A lot of people hated Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and called him the movie’s Jar Jar Binks. I think the biggest difference was that he was really meant to be an annoying man-child (I loved the scene where he was giving a speech and completely forgot his entire point) while JJB was George Lucas’ failed attempt to create another Ewok. Eisenberg was good here and in one scene even proved that he could out-snot Viola Davis. I did not see him growing up as Kevin Spacey, though.

6. When Jeremy Irons showed up as Alfred, I actually thought that he was an old Robert Downey, Jr. I swear I thought it was an unprecedented crossover.

7. I didn’t know the rest of the characters shown for the future Justice League but I was excited to see Ezra Miller playing the Flash (although this character would always be Dawson’s father to me, you know John Wesley Shipp that was rumored to have a romantic relationship with James Van der Beek). I also recognized Silas Stone (his name was on the computer screen) as the brilliant Joe Morton. Olivia Pope should be proud.

8. Regardless of the ending, Zack Snyder obviously favored Superman more. Now I really understood those sad Ben Affleck memes and videos. His Batman was just depressed and didn’t have the necessary angst for the role (like he was still suffering from a tortured relationship with J.Lo or carrying a guilt for possibly cheating on Jennifer Garner). For a rich guy, he couldn’t even ask his butler to remove his car cover.

Henry Cavill, on the other hand, could still barely act, but was shown as the real hero even if he had enough time to bask in the glory of his billowing cape while the people on the roof were close to drowning. He even had a scene where people surrounded him and touched him like a god (although I was sure that even James Reid would be treated that way if he stood in the middle of the activity center in ATC).

9. Wonder Woman clearly knew how to accentuate her assets (considering that she was played by a previous Miss Universe candidate). All of Gal Gadot’s dresses showed her cleavage and/or back. But nothing beats the beauty of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who always came first in terms of saving, regardless if people were dying everywhere. She took “ganda mo gurl” to a whole new level.

10. Here are some questions from a self-confessed comic book idiot:

a) How could Superman not hear that there was a bomb in the court room? He couldn’t be that distracted, right?

b) What were the flying taong insekto?

c) Was Wonder Woman a witch if she lived way back in 1918?

d) If Batman knew that Superman’s weakness was kryptonite, why couldn’t he have made a simple bracelet that he could attach to him? (I saw one used in the Supergirl TV series.)

e) Speaking of, how could even Superman fly carrying the kryptonite spear when Lois even had to throw it away because it was seeping his strength?

f) Was Superman the first person to show up in court wearing his underwear outside?

g) Did people hate the movie because “people hate what they don’t understand” or because it had a bummer of an ending (giving Star Cinema another reason to have a requisite happy ending)?

11. No mid-/post-credits sequence. Now that was even more sad than the funeral.

Rating: ★★★☆☆