Posts Tagged ‘ Ben Affleck ’

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Release date: March 25, 2016
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was a largely uninteresting, yet informative ‘origins’ story of Superman. It didn’t have any references to the rest of the DC universe and justifiably so; why would you throw in more characters when you already have the entire Kryptonian first family to play with. Again, it wasn’t a very enjoyable film to digest, but you and I, we all gulped it down and washed it with a little smoothie called “the future may be better because Superman and Batman are coming together in the next film”.

Now that the smoothie is the real meal, you can’t pin your hopes on another new smoothie. You just can’t keep fooling yourself anymore.

Dawn of Justice begins with visuals from the traumatic childhood of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and then interlaces them with shots from the climax of Man of Steel, where Superman is still fighting Zod, and god knows for what reason, Wayne is in Metropolis and not in Gotham. He witnesses the destruction caused by the Kryptonians’ battle, and surmises that Superman is far from a savior, a powerful god who will destroy anything that he touches.

The neurotic Lex Luthor believes in the same predilection and becomes obsessed with the downfall of Superman. The known shortcomings of Batman against the brute strength of Superman are accentuated in Wayne’s efforts to bring him down. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to paint the blue-and-red caped-crusader as an enemy of the state. Wayne’s plans are more private, typical of Batman’s vigilantism, except his butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is only too young; atypical to the earlier Alfreds. Perhaps this one was employed much later than the earlier ones.

Will Luthor succeed in fulfilling his agenda? Will Batman defeat Superman? Will the film be (at least) coherent throughout? I won’t answer the first two questions, for obvious reasons. But the answer to the third question, shockingly, is in the negative. Batman has excessive ‘visions’ of the past and the future, then he has these constant dreams/nightmares which often feel completely hacky. Just how Spiderman (sorry for mentioning a Marvel character in a DC film review) has Spidey Sense, where he can use it to feel out the incoming dangers and bad guys, this Superman only has Girlfriend Sense.

By Girlfriend Sense, he reaches wherever his girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is in danger. Be it in a separate country altogether, or in the building nearby. But he requires TV news to get to a place where there’s a fire or any distress. He shows he only has the brawn and no brains when there’s something so horribly off about the entire room in a particular sequence that even a fly on the wall can sense it and he doesn’t. Superman only has a Girlfriend Sense.

Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne may be gunning to put an end to Superman, but as a member of the audience, I wanted something similar too. Superman is never made to look like a hero who deserves any of your love. For that matter, the same goes for Batman. There’s not much of a reason for you to hate him, nor even like him. And in such circumstances, arrives a Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), instantly making you like her. You don’t like her because the story makes you do that, you cheer for her out of being tired of the two bumbling big men. There’s a cool guitar riff by Junkie XL accompanying her entry into the proceedings too.

The initial face-off between S’man and B’man is tepid. Their showdown is entertaining. Their chemistry is ill-founded and so weakly constructed that it’s somewhat laughable. I won’t give away what I’m talking about, but I’ll just call it the Martha angle. Featuring in the amusing parts of the film is Superman’s appearance in the Congressional hearing to debate the validity of his actions. A man in a cape and spandex in court is a sight to behold.

Ben Affleck’s Batman isn’t just a “dark” character, he even has hallucinations. A single film where he isn’t the only guy to root for isn’t the best way to judge him yet. The writing and performance of Lex Luthor’s part is supposed to render him despicable and incomprehensible, at least that’s the expected outcome. The actual fate of Lex Luthor is a pain in the butt. He’s an annoying pest that you just want to go away, not defeated by a superhero.

Man of Steel was an origins story for Dawn of Justice, and the viewers went back to their homes with some hope for the impending payoff. Now, Dawn of Justice is another lackadaisically lusterless origins story for another film. the smoothie here is the entry of Wonder Woman and the promise of a better film when Justice League unites. How long do I have to shell out money for a meal and get shortchanged only for a smoothie? How long do I have to put money into this sequel vending machine to get a film that is actually worth the buck?

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

Gone Girl

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Gone Girl
Release date: October 31, 2014 (India)
Directed by: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Ratajkowski, Missi Pyle

Right in the middle of the first act of the film, Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) asks Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) if his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) is the Amazing Amy in her ‘private workspace’ in their house, adorned with pictures from the line of books her parents started to mirror the failures of her growing up years and reflect them as moments with tweaked outcomes. Amy in real life failed to get in the volleyball team, while the Amazing Amy got in. She passively resents this perfect universe, all through her life.

Gone Girl begins with two lines from Nick about his wife Amy, they start off cutely and the second line throws you off right then. It churns your stomach even before the opening titles roll. On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick heads to his own bar, where he talks to his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) how he still hasn’t figured out one of Amy’s gift clues for over two years. He returns home to find his wife missing.

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Detective Boney arrives on the scene to investigate her disappearance and takes Nick in for questioning. Over these questions, and through a media campaign kicked off to find Amy, it becomes a public fact that Nick is a sociopath who soon transcends into becoming suspect number one. The media vilifies him as the evil murderer of a poor, little, lonely housewife. His only respite is Margo and Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), the self-annointed savior of husbands-in-distress all over America.

The entire Nick-Amy love story is told from the entries in Amy’s diary. Sometimes with a blue pen, and on special occasions in red ink. These entries define the dynamic of their relationship, at least from her perspective. The initial setup of the film is that of an unaware Hitchcockian whodunnit. Slow, brooding, and unraveling, right until the reveal. If the film had gotten over at this point, I would be complaining. But it did not, and I am not complaining much. From this point on, the storytelling spotlights start focusing on Amy. Her apparent stalker ex-boyfriends, and their somewhat similar fates.

Gone Girl is many things at the same time. It’s Amy’s hatred for everything perfect, it’s the imperfect transgressional husband who’s enjoys reality TV, but doesn’t know how to react in reality TV situations. The cute couple that everyone envies, tearing apart secretly. A commentary on marriage and the easy manipulation of the media. It’s a place where you wouldn’t want to live, just linger on and guffaw and part amaze at.

There are more plot points that I could discuss, but kill me with a box cutter if I do. Honestly, I hadn’t even watched a trailer before watching the film. That’s how I like to preserve some mystique around movies these days. Gone Girl would prove to throw you off, even if you know what’s about to happen next. It’s the execution that’s so masterful, it appears infallible.

Ben Affleck wallows in self-righteousness in a character which is very close to that of a gullible, ordinary, out-of-job suburban husband. He drinks during the day, he walks around in the same shirt for a good chunk of the film and yet is pitiable. Rosamund Pike is psychotically in control of her disconnected, metaphorically levitating Amy. She is the Amazing Amy. Missi Pyle is on-the-mark as the shrieking Nancy Grace figure who’s out on a witch-hunt.

Tyler Perry lights up the screen right from his first appearance, providing the cool factor surprisingly with his outsider viewpoint on the entire situation. Should he venture out more? Nick’s stumbling and vulnerable voice of reason is his twin played by Carrie Coon, who represents how you as a spectator would feel at discovering the intricacies of Amy and Nick’s lives. And a bit subsided by the end, Kim Dickens as the hoarse-voiced Missourian fair detective keeps making you doubt who is guilty after all.

David Fincher’s creation of this universe is entertaining even after it stops being surprising and thrilling.

“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with.” would keep me hooked and it should do that to you as well.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

Argo


Argo
Release date: October 19, 2012 (India)
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman

Amidst the sounds of Sultans of Swing and When The Levee Breaks and Dance The Night Away of the ’70s, a serious hostage situation is focused upon. Ben Affleck presents the Iranian conflict with a literal Hollywood punch.

Argo has the U.S. Embassy in Tehran under siege of the Iranian mercenaries and fifty officials are held hostage for a period of more than a year. Meanwhile, six employees manage to escape with Iranian applicants for American visas through the backdoor. Their identity records are incinerated and shredded to hide the fact that they’ve managed to run away from that scenario. The six escaped officials seek asylum at the Canadian ambassador’s residence.

The CIA is in need for an immediate rescue plan to get them back to their homeland and for that purpose they bring specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) on the scene. Faced with absurd return routes for them, Mendez suggests they produce a fake sci-fi film on the lines of Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, Star Wars and Star Trek. Then starts the secretive assembling of a false production crew and office for the very fake film.

The four member lawful gang of Hollywood prosthetic artist John Chambers (John Goodman), producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), Mendez’s supervisor Jack O’Donell (Bryan Cranston) and Mendez himself, float a film studio and create a whole script and a string of characters to enact the entire screenplay at a press conference just to lend credibility to their movie. On the other hand,the Iranian captors try to get the shredded documents in place to check if any of the captives have escaped promising a tight finish to the end.

Argo is Affleck’s baby and with him present in almost all of the film’s powerful moments, his character Mendez is a smooth operator with never getting into unrealistic action sequences. Except for the side personal track of his separated wife and son there’s not much emotional questioning of his persona. Goodman and Arkin have an enjoyable chemistry in the first half where the most memorable line , probably is, “Argo fuck yourself”.

The portrayal of the major players of the plot isn’t slick mean straight, instead it captures the strong nationalist sentiment of the Americans and mixes the real-life footage from Iranian protests and White House speeches giving it a true period film feel. Let go for a few cinematic liberties into the realistic events, Argo is a tight and entertaining film right from the start. Catch it as soon as it lasts in your neighboring theaters along with the current plethora of releases.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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