Tag Archive: ben affleck


Batman: the Telltale Game

 

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First and foremost, it’s not the Arkham series.  That’s still the standard for Batman (and probably all superhero) games.

But Batman: the Telltale Series is great in all the ways that it’s different.  It’s not a button masher at all, but still very much a Batman game.

The beauty of this game is in how it makes you consider the ramification for each aspect of the character.  What type of Dark Knight are you?  A completely psychopathic ‘beat all criminals to near death’ like Batfleck, or do you see the Dark Knight as more of a symbol and a scare tactic like Malik Aziz?

Then there’s the public persona of Bruce Wayne.  Do you carry yourself like an oddball recluse like Michael Keaton, or do you lean more into the pretentious, flippant guy in the Armani suits who has a taste for beautiful women, like Malik Aziz?

And there’s the aspect the movies rarely dig deep into: the legacy/relationship of the Wayne family to Gotham.  You’re the oldest of old money.  Your parents were well known philanthropists.  As the last standing Wayne, did your parents’ murder make you into an idealist like Batman Begins Christian Bale? Or are you a pragmatist who understands how the sausage gets made on the highest levels, like Malik Aziz?

The game branches out based on the choices you make, Choose Your Adventure style.  It’s a mental exercise in making important choices on instinct and dealing with the ramifications (like life), not a brawler.  (So you can’t really ‘die’ as much as not finish fights as quickly.  Not like you’d lose anyway, you’re Batman right?)

High recommend here.  Must play if you’re a Dark Knight fan.

 

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Been considering changing my Twitter bio again. A out of respect for Warners and Batfleck and the new direction/generation, and b, because, well, I’m not really a ‘silent guardian’ anymore (not on Sundays anyway…)

Some things will never change though.

Enjoy.

 

bvs

This has been out, what, a month?  But to be fair…

Spoilers, cursing and stories of cell phones thrown at the screen ahead…

So first, this is not the worst thing I’ve ever seen.  Relax fanboys.  Honestly, it’s not even in the conversation of ‘worst live action film with Batman in the title’ (your legacy is safe Joel Schumacher).

What killed me (not as a Batman fan but as a storyteller) watching this though: the epic superhero movie Warners wanted (and needed) is inside this movie.  They shot it.  I don’t doubt at all looking at what’s onscreen the confidence was high.  Call it ‘film geek frustration’ if you want, but I think one or two more full edits would have gone a LONG way into fixing most of the issues.

So let’s break it down, starting with the good:

  • I believe in Ben Affleck.  If you wanted to argue he’s been the best so far at being both an above average and believable Bruce Wayne AND Dark Knight, I might not have a problem with that.  The sequence of him mimicking my workout routine and doing pull-ups with a monster truck tire chained to his waist, I was impressed.  And he’s a very credible filmmaker behind the camera.  When HE’S in the director’s chair telling one of my stories? Sign me up.  I’m already there.
  • Believe it or not, I had a legit fist pump during this film.  Heroes are only as good as the villains they have to overcome, so when Lex threw that one two punch of pushing Lois off the skyscraper THEN revealing he kidnapped Ma Kent…YES!!! Figure out and go after the people the Boy Scout can’t imagine living without! That’s WAY more compelling and relatable than Kryptonite! That could have been a movie by itself! (I know, I know…)
  • This is Snyder’s strength: there are some really great images and stills you can grab from this film.  (Most of them were rushed into the trailer, but still.) The first time the Trilogy stands together.  The Dark Knight scouting the crime scene. The Boy Scout floating in the sky is always cool.

So it’s not all bad.  But having said that…

  • Film geek talking, but I lost track of how many times I said to myself ‘This isn’t so bad, they’re gaining momentum,’ followed by ‘WHAT. WAS. THAT.’  Starting with the end of that opening montage of my parents being killed for the umpteenth time, and ending with Doomsday about to destroy of all of us and giving me and Wonder Woman all they can handle, and Lois pulling the ‘Please Baby Don’t Go’ move.  REALLY?  HUMANITY IS ABOUT TO BE WIPED OUT, AND YOUR BOYFRIEND IS LITERALLY OUR ONLY HOPE AND YOU’RE TRYING TO STOP HIM?!?  GET THE PHUCK OUT OF HERE LOIS!!!! (Yes that’s when my phone went flying.)
  • You don’t want to be a Marvel copycat.  Good move, smart move. But…I mean…no humor?  Like not even some a few more ad-libs?  It’s a comic book movie guys.  Why so serious?
  • I loved Lex’s dialogue, and you already know how I feel about his plan.  The characterization by Eisenberg (who I generally like) not so much.  And I’m all the way down for trying something a little bit different to freshen up/modernize these characters (as I slip my headshot to WB Casting for Green Lantern), but this version of Lex, nope.  Loved the intellect, but not enough ‘strength’.

So final verdict: some cool stuff in there that almost immediately gets cancelled out by something absurd (even by comic book standards).

Final Grade:

cap

Me, moments ago, to Ben Affleck…

Man…look at this…

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So…

I had a well thought out, perfect analysis of the Batman vs. Superman trailer.  Then one of the homies sent me this less than an hour ago, and I knew I had to tap out.  I can’t top this…

Enjoy!

‘Gone Girl’

 

Gone-Girl-Movie-Rosamund-Pike-Amy-Dunne

Yikes…

That’s a pretty good one word reaction to Gone Girl, right?  Trading notes with my male friends, it’s definitely up there with Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful on that ‘Married Man Worst Fear’ list.

What can I say without spoiling the film?  If you’re a David Fincher fan, I can’t imagine you will be disappointed.  I’m reminded again he’s on that short list of directors who, if they want you for a part, you probably say yes, script unseen.  Speaking of, Tyler Perry!  I’m not as surprised as some, but yeah.  He wasn’t distracting, or pulling you out of the story with his appearance, was he?

And Affleck (clearly carrying the extra Prince of Gotham weight) was appropriately douchey and sympathetic as the story played out.  The star and certain lock for a Best Actress nomination Rosemund Pike, well what can I say?  I’m aware this is an adaptation of a popular book (so there’s a lot on the page) but you still need committed actors to play the parts.  And I believed her in that role.  Completely.  Too much.

So if you haven’t gotten around to seeing Gone Girl yet, well worth your time.

 

affleck

First, like everyone else, I’ll admit to being shocked by the announcement.  Good job by those who know to keep it under wraps until it became official.

Now, let me preface my feelings by repeating some things I’ve said earlier in other places…

1. The movie is ‘Man of Steel 2’.

Whatever mild surprise I had about how quickly Warners is ‘rebooting’ Batman, this is still not his film (no matter how heavily they’re leaning that way in the marketing).  This is (now more than ever), the second Superman film that’s setting up the inevitable Justice League film so DC can try to cash in on the brilliant, decades in the making plan that Marvel has executed to perfection.  Along those lines…

2. This is not a continuation of the ‘Dark Knight Trilogy’.

I took my whole lifetime to this point, but I have my Batman (and my Alfred and my Commissioner Gordon and my Bane and my Joker).  I was never so naive as to think Warners was going to let the golden goose that is Batman just die off, so I made peace with that long ago.  I knew ‘Batman’ would be back someday, didn’t you?  Now on to the casting itself…

Was Affleck the first guy I had in mind when I thought about who they would recast as Bruce?  Nope.  But here’s the thing I haven’t heard enough people bring up yet: he’ll be ‘Batman’ but do we really know if he’s going to be playing ‘the Dark Knight’?  Do you know how many different versions of Batman there are?  Not saying Affleck isn’t capable of playing that version, but what if for the Justice League, they’re going for the version of Batman most of us knew as little kids (where Bruce’s background and ‘why he was Batman’ was explained in one sentence and not treated like a lifetime trauma?)  Ben might be perfect!

So wait and see, that’s all I’m saying.  It’s still a Boy Scout movie though, all I’m saying…

Argo

 

Argo

Frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar now?  Well, definitely not for Best Director (argument for another day).  Anyway, Ben Affleck’s latest (and best) effort has all the ingredients: ‘based on a true story’, top notch supporting cast, a little bit of Hollywood making fun of itself…all the pieces are there.

The story itself is one of those ‘too good to be true/sounds made up’ deals: a CIA operative sneaks a group of Americans out of Iran under the guise of being in preproduction for a big budget ‘Star Wars’ rip off.  In a lot of ways, Argo is the grandchild of a lot of 70s classics: All the President’s Men, Serpico, Three Days of the Condor.  Even before I did the research, my gut told me Clooney had to have his hands on this somehow.  Wasn’t remotely surprised to learn he was one of the producers.

Connections aside though, Argo is a good film.  My personal ‘test’ for any movie based on something that really happened comes down to one question: do I still feel the dramatic tension even if I know how the story ends?  In my opinion, this is where Affleck the director made the film.  The third act (the escape) is paced really well; the threat of the protagonists getting caught is there for as long as humanly possible.

So at this point it looks like this film or Lincoln gets the big piece of chicken this year.  I’ll have my prediction when we get a little closer to the actual ceremony…

The Town

The Town is one of the movies that’s been hanging around all year and has a shot at a Best Picture nomination next year now that they’ve expanded the field to 10 films.  A friend on Twitter referred to this flick as Set It Off for white folks, and I get where they got that analogy from.  Both films follow a heist crew with members who want to get out, but as they say with that lifestyle there’s no retirement, only jail or death…

Ben Affleck does another solid directing job here; I wonder how much of it is choice and how much of it is what’s put in front of him, but he certainly has the ‘Boston crime drama’ genre down to a tee.  Jeremy Renner got a Globe nom for his supporting work as the ‘loose cannon’ of the crew.  I think I’m in the minority here but I was noticeably bleh about this one.  Don’t get me wrong, he did a great job with the accent and the ‘a-holeness’ of the character, but as someone who’s seen a lot of his work, this particular performance didn’t stand out more than the others.  I heard Affleck’s director’s cut of this film was great though, so maybe there’s more in that cut that I didn’t get out of the studio version.

More reviews coming soon…

 

State of Play

 

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Thrillers are one of my favorite genres, bar none. The ‘newsroom thriller’ has provided some great films over the years (most notably All The President’s Men).  I read Roger Ebert’s review of this film; he thinks newspaper thrillers will continue, even if the newspaper itself dies off in the next couple of years.  I disagree on both points, but I’m guessing you want my opinion of this movie, so away we go…

The setup for this story is a pretty girl who just happened to work in the office of a young and upcoming Senator (played well by Ben Affleck) is murdered in the DC subway system.  It’s soon revealed the Senator was having an affair with the girl, and his best friend Cal (played by Russell Crowe) is constantly dancing on the line between being the Senator’s friend, and a top notch investigative reporter for the Washington Globe.  The cast is filled out by Robin Wright Penn as the Senator’s wife, Rachel McAdams as the cute blogger who represents the next wave of journalism, and Helen Mirren as the editor of the newspaper.

I’ll spare you more of the plot for two reasons.  One, it’s a thriller, and the who/what/why is the reason you go to see movies like this.  Secondly though, in my opinion, this is one of those movies that had one twist too many, so by the end, while the story was well told and I had all the facts, I was still trying to piece together who was playing who.  The easy answer is, well that’s DC politics (and it is I’m sure), but for entertainment purposes I think they could have simplified it a little.

The casting was solid from top on down.  I heard Brad Pitt was the original lead; it’s hard for me to imagine him in this role (and I’m a Pitt fan for the most part).  One person I didn’t mention in my cast rundown: Jason Bateman.  It gives none of the story away to say that, again, he steals scenes like he was born to do it.  Dodgeball, Hancock, and I’m sure I’m leaving more films out, but you want to talk about carving a niche for yourself and running with it.  I think Fred Willard is the only one who does it better than him.

Anyway, don’t let my complaints turn you completely off.  Overall I thought it was a pretty solid flick.  Not a bad way at all to kick off what’s looking like a busy summer for your neighborhood film geek…