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Injustice: The Failure of Justice League, and Where It Leaves DC

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*Warning* This article contains spoilers for all five DCEU films, Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League *Warning*

Justice League, the culmination of all Warner Bros and DC’s hard work, has finally hit cinemas, taking us into an amazing world with Zack Snyder’s epic vision, a blend of spectacular action and thoughtful storytelling that finally brings all these characters together on the big screen.

Sorry.

That’s not even slightly true. It’s what I wanted to be able to say. I really wanted to like this film, or at least have fun with it.

There’s a strange disillusion that critics and reviewers hate comic book movies. Absolutely not so, check out the reviews for Wonder Woman, Thor Ragnarok and Logan, and that was just 2017. This strange belief strengthens under the guise of, “Critics hate DC movies”. Pretty sure that isn’t true either, the aforementioned Wonder Woman was a massive critical and financial success, and for good reason. But otherwise, DC have struggled to get a coherent vision out into the world, maybe it doesn’t help that these newer films come on the heels of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (another comic book trilogy that critics loved), and more than that, a crushing weight of expectations.

Justice League, with its ‘Unite The League’ and ‘All In’ taglines we’ve been seeing for the last year, is the first live action film to feature all of these characters, to have Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman (even though they already did that in Batman V Superman, more on that film later), Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg on screen together. That’s a huge thing, there’s no pretending it isn’t, these characters have been around for 80 years, they are basically the equivalent American mythology, a part of legend and folklore, at this point. To see the whole League, fighting together, sometimes fighting each other, but coming together for a common goal, it should have been massive.

Trailers came thick and fast, for well over a year, and much to people’s surprise, it didn’t look terrible. The failure of the film, much of it out of DC/WB’s control, mixed with tragic circumstances and clearly fumbled reshoots, resulted in a tone that jarred from scene to scene, a nonsensical smorgasbord of cheap looking (although I’m sure it wasn’t, $300 million is the rumoured price tag, not to mention the cash flashed on moustache removal, something else we will get to later) special effects, a heartless, free from stakes and drama, film that felt like it had no direction.

The film itself is an unqualified mess from start to finish. Early estimates put Snyder’s original cut and 180 minutes, and that sounds reasonable given the intended scope, but after a personal tragedy, Synder stepped away from the film and Joss Whedon was brought on to finish the reshoots. Along with a mandate from the studio that the film come in at under two hours, the two directors delivered two very different films and then an editor smashed them together. We ended up with a quipping Batman, Superman forced back into the world by story necessity instead of anything close to common sense, several literal ‘deus ex machinas’, an incredibly choppy story that failed to establish a villain or the future to come. Only the post credits sequence really set anything up for further films, giving us our first look at Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke, and Lex Luthor threatening to set up a ‘League of his own’.

The problems with Justice League are many, but to fully understand them, and how we got to this point, a point where the flagship film in this ever expanding franchise ended up with the lowest opening weekend of the DCEU, and is beginning, in Hollywood terms at least, to be on its way to financial failure, we need to take a step back.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, to give the film its full title, was meant to be the big, bold start for the shared universe. Man of Steel had come a few years earlier but existed mostly in isolation with few references to the larger DC Expanded Universe, but BvS was the big one. It needed to be a hit, and financially it was, but still it never quite hit the heady billion dollar mark they wanted. It gave us a new Batman, fairly comic book accurate, amidst controversial casting of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Affleck turned out to be excellent in the role but the film was a mess, too short and too long simultaneously, stuffed with characters it didn’t need and actors (Jessie Eisenberg, I’m looking at you) who failed to fit their roles. It insisted on telling the story of The Death of Superman, at the hands of Doomsday, one of the most famous comics of all time, but the story wasn’t earned, this Superman did not deserve his godlike status amongst humanity, it all came too soon and it felt like we’d missed a few films in between.

Looking back now, BvS doesn’t seem quite so bad. That film had a clear vision, it might have aligned with long term fans but it stuck to its guns and managed to gather quite a following, with new fans stepping up to defend it. The Ultimate cut that surfaces on home release was indeed a huge improvement and actually ended up perfectly illustrating that they should perhaps have trusted Zack Snyder to complete his vision, rather than putting out the clearly damaged theatrical release. BvS gave the world more good than bad in the end, a near pitch perfect screen version of the Dark Knight, and more importantly it gave us the gift that keeps giving, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman came out earlier this year, and it really, really needed to be a hit for a number of very important reasons. It was the first female led superhero film in a very long time, directed by Patty Jenkins, and most important of all, DC needed a critical and financial hit. Luckily it was both. The film took less than BvS, that is true, but this was a superhero origin movie, a story that hadn’t been told, it wasn’t seen as a sure thing by most, and this film connected with fans and critics unlike anything else DC have put out so far. But there’s a very good reason for its success, they crafted a wonderful film full of joy and wonder, mixed with the usual superhero antics (including a final CGI boss battle the film didn’t really need), yet, it worked through a charming story and a fantastic performance from Gadot, who managed to be everything we needed Diana to be.

The other big DC film was Suicide Squad, a film butchered in its edit, apparently without the directors approval, leaving entire subplots on the cutting room floor along with most of Jared Leto’s new take on the Joker. It begins to form a picture of interference, almost all of these films have had huge reshoots and were edited to death. Despite being crammed full of brilliant actors (when they most interesting and enjoyable performance ends up being Jai Courteny, you know you have a serious problem), Suicide Squad was narrative mess on a level rarely seen these days, a film that genuinely doesn’t sense. However, the film did make money, and a sequel and spin offs were greenlit. Which leads us to another problem.

It’s clear WB/DC don’t have much of a plan in terms of going forward, every film announced has felt random, with no cohesive whole on the horizon. And they keep announcing new films. In various stages of production are;

  • Aquaman – 2018
  • Wonder Woman 2 – 2019
  • Shazam – 2019
  • Flashpoint
  • Suicide Squad 2
  • The Batman
  • Batgirl
  • Green Lantern Corps
  • The Joker and Harley Quinn
  • Nightwing
  • A Joker Origin Story
  • Justice League Dark
  • Gotham City Sirens
  • Man of Steel 2
  • Deathstroke solo movie
  • Black Adam
  • Lobo
  • Cyborg
  • And one would have to assume, Justice League 2

That’s a lot of films.  And it is ever changing. Notice only three of them even have confirmed release dates. Most of these films have directors attached, and actor rumoured/cast for many parts. But how many will even get made? Aquaman is out next year, Wonder Woman 2 and Shazam are going into production shortly. Flashpoint and Suicide Squad 2 are pretty much a given, but all the others feel like they’re cancellations waiting to happen. Maybe there is a chance they could refine their vision along the way, and let Wonder Woman lead that charge.

Is Justice League a complete and total failure? Probably not. A low opening weekend won’t stop it doing well worldwide, and it does have a few positives, mainly Henry Cavill’s Superman finally feeling like a real version of the character we know and love, we get a few good laughs, and of course, Wonder Woman truly steals the show, becoming the heart and leader of the team, her scenes are some of the few with real charged emotion and weight behind them, but that largely comes off her solo film being so close to this one’s release. One of the biggest talking points, quite ridiculously, ended up being about moustache removal. Cavill’s facial hair for another film (Mission Impossible 6) couldn’t be shaved so WB spent millions of dollars using CGI to digitally remove it for the numerous rehoots required for Superman. To say that’s it’s noticeable would be an understatement, and in the end a poorly edited out moustache feels like a bizarre metaphor for the film in general.

People ask, what should they do next, how do DC/WB fix this? Judging from Justice League, and the majority of people’s reaction to it, it might not be possible to fix the larger problems. Justice League represented a tonal shift, an attempt to appeal to those they had previously alienated/upset.

It hasn’t worked, if anything the issues have been compounded and made worse. These films don’t work as a shared universe, and normally that would be fine, they don’t have to, but equally, they don’t work on their own either. A course correction is needed but one so severe that it changes almost everything, there’s every chance Flashpoint will be used to hit the reset button, giving us new actors (Ben Affleck is basically out of the door already, with a replacement being lined up) in roles and a different DC Expanded Universe.

One great film out of five, with the big team up movie being a commercial and critical failure, does not a franchise make. After all, Diana of Themyscira can’t save it all. Can she?

Features

Here’s What’s Coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV, and MUBI for August 2018

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Between the increasing number of streaming platforms in our lives, there’s far too much great entertainment being released day after day for any sane person to keep track of. 

There’s streaming giant Netflix, the curated offerings of MUBI, all the latest releases on NOW TV, and online video emporium Amazon Prime. There’s something for everyone, on demand, just waiting to be selected. What a time to be alive!

But that doesn’t help when you’re looking for something to wile away the evening with, so let us lighten the load and make your viewing choice that little bit easier with our weekly updated round-up of everything being added to your favourite platform.

Wednesday, August 1st

  • The Bold Type: Season 2 (new episode)
  • Casual: Season 4

Friday, August 3rd

  • Marvel’s Clock and Dagger: Season 1 (new episode)

Monday, August 6th

  • Preacher: Season 3 (new episode)

Wednesday, August 8th

  • The Bold Type: Season 2 (new episode)

Monday, August 13th

  • Preacher: Season 3 (new episode)

Friday, August 17th

  • All or Nothing: Manchester City

 

Thursday, August 2nd

  • Meteors

Saturday, August 4th

  • Purple Butterfly

Sunday, August 5th

  • Le Fort de Fous

Monday, August 6th

  • Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

Thursday, August 9th

  • The Stairs

Friday, August 10th

  • Certified Copy

Saturday, August 11th

  • Summer Palace

Sunday, August 12th

  • Vengeance

Monday, August 13th

  • A Cambodian Spring

Wednesday, August 15th

  • Historytelling

Thursday, August 16th

  • The Art of Speech

Friday, August 17th

  • Djon Africa

Saturday, August 18th

  • Love and Bruises

Sunday, August 19th

  • Mad Detective

 

Wednesday, August 1st

  • All I See Is You
  • Becoming Champions: Season 1
  • The Boy
  • Casino Tycoon
  • A Chinese Odyssey (Part I)
  • A Chinese Odyssey (Part II)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Cocaine Coast: Season 1
  • Discovery of Love: Season 1
  • Doubles Cause Troubles
  • Edge of Fear
  • A Few Less Men
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • Hero
  • History of Joy
  • Infernal Affairs
  • Infernal Affairs II
  • Infernal Affairs III
  • Initial D
  • Invisible
  • Jason Bourne
  • Justice, My Foot!
  • Kaaliyan
  • Kaattu
  • Kuppivala

  • Lechmi
  • Legend of The Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen
  • Little Dragon Maiden
  • Love In The Buff
  • Mahabharat
  • Melle
  • Minnaminugu the FireFly
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Monster-in-Law
  • Mythily Veendum Varunnu
  • Oru Vishsheshapetta Biryani Kissa
  • P Se PM Tak
  • QB1: Beyond the Lights: Season 1
  • Regal Academy
  • Spy Game
  • Sudani from Nigeria
  • Switched: Season 1
  • Tikli and Laxmi Bomb
  • Touch of Evil
  • Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Thursday, August 2nd

  • Forever Chape
  • Meet the Blacks
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Friday, August 3rd

  • Brij Mohan Amar Rahe
  • Cocaine Coast: Season 1
  • Dinotrux Supercharged: Season 3
  • Like Father
  • Marching Orders
  • Meteor Garden: Episodes 21 to 26
  • Shooter: Season 3 (new episode)

Saturday, August 4th

  • Bring It On: Fight to the Finish
  • Bring It On: In It to Win It
  • Flavors of Youth: International Version
  • Howard the Duck
  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)
  • On Children
  • Pride & Prejudice (2006)
  • Tower Heist

Sunday, August 5th

  • Loving Vincent
  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Monday, August 6th

  • Chesapeake Shores: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Power: Season 5 (new episode)

Tuesday, August 7th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)
  • Chennai Express
  • To the Beat

Thursday, August 9th

  • Equity
  • Last Vegas
  • Lone Survivor
  • The Most Unknown
  • Perdida
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)
  • Unforgotten: Season 2

Friday, August 10th

  • 72 Dangerous Animals: Asia
  • Afflicted: Season 1
  • All About The Washingtons: Season 1
  • Beyond the Clouds
  • The Birth Reborn
  • Demetri Martin: The Overthinker
  • Insatiable: Season 1
  • La Casa do Las Flores
  • Meteor Garden: Episodes 27 to 32
  • The Package
  • The Ponysitters Club: Season 1
  • Shooter: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 7
  • Zion

Saturday, August 11th

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Sunday, August 12th

  • Anjaan: Special Crimes Unit: Season 1
  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)
  • My Little Pony: The Movie
  • The Party
  • Uncle: Season 3

Monday, August 13th

  • Chesapeake Shores: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Power: Season 5 (new episode)

Tuesday, August 14th

  • Better Call Saul: Season 4 (new episode)
  • Out of Thin Air

Wednesday, August 15th

  • Bioscope
  • Blackadder the Third
  • Blackadder Goes Forth
  • Comedy High School: Season 1
  • Devaraya
  • For Here or To Go?
  • Gotham: Season 4
  • Gurudu
  • Hurricane Bianca: From Russia With Hate
  • Man vs Wild with Sunny Leone: Season 1
  • Mere Papa Hero Hiralal: Season 1
  • Ouija
  • Public Schooled
  • Sudani from Nigeria
  • Swami Baba Ramdev: The Untold Story: Season 1

Thursday, August 16th

  • Endless Love
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • My Best Friend’s Girl
  • The Possession
  • Suits: Season 8 (new episode)

Friday, August 17th

  • 20th Century Women
  • Disenchantment: Season 1
  • Magic for Humans
  • Meteor Garden: Episodes 33 to 38
  • The Motive
  • Pinky Malinky
  • Shooter: Season 3 (new episode)
  • Spirit Riding Free: Season 6
  • Stay Here: Season 1
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
  • Top of the Lake: Season 2
  • Ultraviolet: Season 1

Saturday, August 18th

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)

Sunday, August 19th

  • Mr. Sunshine: Season 1 (new episode)
  • Selfie From Hell
  • Saw: Legacy

 

Wednesday, August 1st

  • The Odyssey

Thursday, August 2nd

  • The Ghost of Charnel House

Friday, August 3rd

  • Justice League

Saturday, August 4th

  • Fantastic Journey to Oz

Sunday, August 5th

  • Brigsby Bear

Monday, August 6th

  • The Female Brain

Tuesday, August 7th

  • Ali & Nino

Wednesday, August 8th

  • Demon

Thursday, August 9th

  • Couples Vacation

Friday, August 10th

  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Saturday, August 11th

  • Quackerz

Sunday, August 12th

  • 2:22

Monday, August 13th

  • Trafficked

Tuesday, August 14th

  • Canaries

Wednesday, August 15th

  • The Resistance

Thursday, August 16th

  • Waiting for You

Friday, August 17th

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Saturday, August 18th

  • Goodbye Christopher Robin

Sunday, August 19th

  • Patti Cake$

That’s it for this week, but don’t forget to check back each week for a fresh round of new releases for the UK on streaming platforms Amazon Prime, MUBI, NOW TV, and Netflix.

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Features

Oceans 11 Re-view

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Director: Steven Soderbergh

Stars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Don Cheadle, Scott Caan, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Shaobo Qin

Released: 2002

Ocean’s Eleven is Steven Soderbergh’s heist movie that ushered in the new millennium. The movie features some of Hollywood’s megastar crew: Danny Ocean (George Clooney), Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt , and Andy Garcia (Terry Benedict).

It is one of the best movies to feature all the heist superstars and the director has ensured that all the eleven character’s roles are recognized. Of course, it is a remake of 1960’s Ocean’s Eleven that features Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, and Peter Lawford.

Ocean’s Eleven follows ex-con George Clooney who’s just out of prison and his eleven counterparts who lay a plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos ( Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM) owned by Terry Benedict simultaneously. The comprised of a tech savvy, an explosives expert, a pick-pocketer (Damon), a card shark (Bernie Mac) and others. They also have Elliott Gould, an ex-casino owner, who is ready and willing to sponsor the whole heist operation.

With a smart plan, cunning disguises, sophisticated technology, Vegas is going to witness a night it will never forget. The reason why they are back in the game is to repay Terry Benedict a grand total of $150 million dollars. From the crew, you can tell that this is not just any other robbery movie. These are the smartest thieves who never raises their voices. It is the finest blend of passion and professionalism in play.

To put an emphasize on character differentiation, Soderbergh has used different costumes as well as word choice. You can say without fear of contradiction that everything is well calculated, rehearsed, and executed precisely. What is most impressive is that Soderbergh has managed to allocate equal time for the movie stars to shine independently in his 116 minutes film.

The director also allows enough screen time for the god fathers of heist Brad Pitt and George Clooney to showcase their expertise. Brad understands how to co-star a movie, and he steals some good minutes to show that he is the brain behind the pan. Soderbergh wants you to believe that his directed gang can execute the impossible; robbing three casinos simultaneously.

However, there are some obstacles such as enhanced security system, multiple surveillance cameras, armed guards, and a vault door that might slow down the execution of the plan. Another big obstacle is Tess, Danny’s ex-wife who is currently dating Benedict the casino tycoon.

The movie gives the audience enough time to guess, predict and foresee will unveil next. There also several scenes of comedy to make it lively and entertaining at the same time. The final scene of the film is a clear indication that there will be another movie to follow the sequel. The whole crew is casted with the exception of Clooney. Finally, after gazing at the Vegas flash lights and fountains, they go separate ways.

With the majority of the movie in passive voice with the minimal use of guns or any other weapon. Despite the movie lacking thrill, the whole plot will capture your attention for the first time. The movie was called Ocean’s Eleven because it comprised of eleven key players. Other sequels that came before or after have similar brand names based on the main characters.

Ocean’s Eleven is not a typical crime or bank robbery movie. It is an easy to follow heist with a satisfying story line. Soderbergh’s camera work and Philip Messina’s seta and real casino makes a visually appealing end of the whole story.

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Features

Cinema & Sound: The Secret Life of a Foley Artist #DellCinema

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When we think about film, it’s probably safe to assume that one of the last things we consider is ‘how did they make all those noises?’

From claps of thunder, to a simple opening of a door, the work of a Foley Artist like Paula Boram often goes unnoticed amongst the grandeur of a finished feature film or television series.

Thanks to an event hosted by #DellCinema Movie Marker was treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating, often hilarious, work that is required to make a film sound just right.

Paula, one of the industry’s most experienced and respected foley artists has worked on a broad spectrum of feature films, from Tomorrow Never Dies to Notting Hill and as she explains, with each film comes a unique set of sounds to create in the studio.

You might think, as I did, that the majority of a film’s sound is recorded on location during initial filming and, if you do think that, then like me you are deeply mistaken. As Paula put’s it – imagine a scene in which there are two people talking in the rain, wearing raincoats, the majority of the audio recorded, be it through a boom mic (The big one that hangs overhead) or through clip-on mics worn by the actors, would pick up the sound of the rain, the sound of the raincoats rustling and the sound of the dialogue. Then when you listen back to the recording later on, all of the audio might be unusable. That’s where a Foley Artist, like Paula and her sound technician and assistant come into the equation.

Paula’s job is to analyse a scene and imagine the best way to create the sounds that the audience expect to hear, record them as close to sync with the actual film as possible and then pass the recording onto the sound mixer/editor to add to the final cut.

Asked if it was easier to keep a library of sounds for recreating footsteps for example, Paula’s technician explained that to find a sound that fitted that exact scene, the exact rate of stepping would at best, take several minutes – whereas creating a new recording could take as little as 30 seconds.

Paula is the first to admit that her work is extremely enjoyable and that she’s lucky to be in a job that she adores. However, she explains that while it’s enjoyable – working int he film industry has it’s pressures – budget and time are key factors in her work, meeting a deadline can be challenging and there are times where the work can take up entire days and run long into the night.

On getting into this line of work, Paula explained that she used to be a dancer and saw a small advertisement looking for dancers interested in learning about sound recording. The rhythm and timing needed to be a dancer have aided Paula in her work and as she was trained her knowledge base grew and the work increased with it.

Those in attendance were given the opportunity to be foley artists, recreating the sounds on a television episode – the possibilities for creating some of the sounds we hear really are endless, using belts, trolleys, boxes, forks to create some of the effects, then thanks to the swift editing by Paula’s team we were able to see and hear our work (which sounded great on Dell’s new cinema range) as it would appear in the final cut.

Paula now has well over 100 film credits to her name and continues to work on big budget movies and TV shows.

You can find more about #DellCinema by searching the hashtag or visiting the Dell website here

 

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