2nd Annual Moore Review Awards (2018)

mr2017What are the Moore Review Awards? I’d like to think of them as something between the Oscars and the MTV Movie Awards. The MRA’s were conceived to show appreciation for all of the genres that make up a great year at the movies and not just the art films. Here, we recognize that the performances and stories told in comedies and superhero films can be just as gripping as the dramas and thrillers. The only stipulation is that the movie must have been released in the calendar year of 2017 to be considered. So without, further ado… here are the winners of the 2nd Annual Moore Review Awards! Feel free to share, like and comment your thoughts! SIDENOTE: SPOILERS ABOUND!

 

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE

Bronze: Lil’ Rel Howley (Get Out) – Howley brought some well timed humor as the best friend we all dream of in this 2017 hit.

Silver: Kevin Hart (Jumaji: Welcome to the Jungle) – Hart’s shtick might be getting a little old, but for whatever reason it worked wonderfully here as the jock turned vertically challenged video game sidekick.

Winner: Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip) – This one really wasn’t that close, to be honest. Haddish brought exuberance and sass in her breakout role and turned what was already a fun film into an absolute blast.

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Other nominees: Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Sharlto Copley (Free Fire), Finn Wolfhard (It)

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Bronze: Ghost in the Shell – The story didn’t exactly resonate, but the futuristic design was a perfect recreation of the anime source material.

Silver: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – A lackluster narrative kept this film from being a classic, but the visuals and design of the futuristic worlds were absolutely stunning.

Winner: Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The climactic scene on the salt planet Crait alone is worthy of this film getting this award. Fans may be torn on the stories of these new films, but the visuals have been breathtaking.

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Other nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok

 

BEST SOUNDTRACK

Bronze: Star Wars: The Last Jedi – John Williams’ incredible score is once again timeless. The newer music created for the series has managed to feel like a welcomed addition alongside the music from the original trilogy.

Silver: Baby Driver – Edgar Wright’s brilliant screenplay was made all the more unique by a soundtrack that mixed several genres of music seamlessly with its fast paced narrative.

Winner: The Greatest Showman – The composers behind La La Land outdid themselves with this musical. With a mixture of gospel, pop, and R&B, they managed to create something unique and yet not out of place in the film’s early 1900’s setting.

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Other nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Ghost in the Shell, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

BEST ACTION SEQUENCE

Bronze: The Stairwell Fight Scene (Atomic Blonde) – The plot to this movie was all over the place, but the battle between Charlize Theron’s spy character and a horde of German henchmen was exhilaratingly brutal.

Silver: Kylo Ren and Ray team up (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) – This unorthodox lightsaber battle might be one of the best action scenes in franchise history. From the start, it feels like something we all wanted to happen from the conclusion of Episode VII.

Winner: The Opening Getaway (Baby Driver) – With style and some jaw dropping car stunts, the start of this movie sets the tone for one of the best films of the year.

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Other nominees: The Amazons vs. Steppenwolf (Justice League), Logan and X23’s limo escape (Logan), Keanu Reaves vs. Common (John Wick 2)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Bronze: Hong Chau (Downsizing) – Her charismatic performance turned an otherwise boring film into something fairly heartwarming.

Silver: Silvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049) – She might not have been the primary villain of this noir thriller, but her stoic yet devious performance was one of the film’s most memorable.

Winner: Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip) – If you’ve seen this movie, this should be no surprise. Haddish was a scene stealer, managing to be the life of the party despite sharing the screen with three A-listers.

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Other nominees: Elizabeth Olsen (Ingrid Goes West), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman), Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Bronze: R.J. Cyler (Power Rangers) – Whatever this adaptation of the 90’s television hit lacked in action, it made up for in character development. And no character shined like Billy. They took a risk giving the character high functioning autism, but it paid off as Cyler’s performance was the glue that made the team feel genuine.

Silver: Mark Hamill (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) – In his return to the role that made him famous, Hamill brought surprising emotional depth without managing to lose the wit and boyish charm that made Luke Skywalker a classic character forty years ago.

Winner: Patrick Stewart (Logan) – We’d never seen Professor X like this before. Stewart was absolutely brilliant as the withered old former mentor of the X-Men, giving the character some edge in this ‘R’ rated film without compromising the fatherly nature of the character.

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Other nominees: Dave Franco (The Disaster Artist), Armie Hammer (Free Fire), Tom Hanks (The Post)

 

BEST ADAPTATION

Bronze: Power Rangers – Say what you want about the lack of action. If it bothers you that much, just go watch Pacific Rim. What made this sequel a blast for any child of the 90’s was how wonderfully they adapted and updated the team of heroes. Here’s hoping they’re able to get a sequel off the ground.

Silver: Wonder Woman – Comic book nerds complain all the time about minor changes to film adaptations, but here there should be nothing to nitpick about. From the plot, to the supporting cast to the leading lady, this was the film the most popular female superhero in history deserved.

Winner: It – With an exuberant cast of charismatic youngsters and a wickedly creepy performance by Bill Skargard, this movie ended up being a perfect recreation of both the Stephen King novel and the 80’s television min-series.

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Other nominees: Beauty and the Beast, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Wonder

 

BEST ONSCREEN ROMANCE

Bronze: Ansel Egort and Lily James (Baby Driver) – With great music to bridge their relationship, these two ended up being an adorable couple with some ‘high school sweetheart’ style charm.

Silver: Aubrey Plaza and O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ingrid Goes West) – If you haven’t seen this movie, you should definitely check it out. The chemistry between these two unlikely lovers ended up being this movie’s most endearing quality.

Winner: Ryan Gosling and Ana De Armas (Blade Runner 2049) – Who knew a relationship between an artificial human and an artificial intelligence could be this likable. The chemistry and homely charm between these two made the movie’s tragic tone even more captivating.

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Other nominees: Zac Efron and Zendaya (The Greatest Showman), Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones (The Shape of Water), Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (Wonder Woman)

 

BEST ONSCREEN TEAM

Bronze: Dacre Montgomery, R.J. Cyler, Naomi Scott, Becky G, Ludi Lin (Power Rangers) – They did the original 90’s group of teenagers with attitude justice. Not only did they have great chemistry that was well constructed throughout the narrative, but they each had interesting backgrounds and character motivations that made them feel relatable to a modern audience.

Silver: Dwyane Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillian (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) – Hilarious doesn’t begin to describe this group. Their different styles of comedic timing played well off of each other and helped this movie become a surprise sensation.

Winner: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen (Logan) – The fun and emotionally dysfunctional family dynamic of these three is what turned Logan from an exciting action film into one of the best comic book movies of all time.

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Other nominees: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa (Justice League), Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith (Girls Trip), The Losers (It)

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bronze: Split – M. Night Shyamalan had been in my doghouse for years, but making a horror thriller where a group of teens are held captive by a man with multiple personality disorder is pretty intriguing stuff. The fact that it also ended up being a quasi-sequel to Unbreakable was also pretty brilliant.

Silver: Baby Driver – Car chases, unique characters, an endearing lead, and a rhythmic soundtrack. Edgar Wright has some great films but this is arguably his best.

Winner: Get Out – Every scene is pertinent. This intense, racially charged script is an absolute marvel that turns the genre on its head.

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Other nominees: The Shape of Water, Coco, Free Fire

 

BEST VILLAIN

Bronze: Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) – Shannon’s calculatingly methodical performance made this unhinged character steal the show in Guillermo Del Toro’s bizarre romantic drama.

Silver: Bill Skarsgard (It) – From the mannerisms to the voice, Skarsgard’s turn as Pennywise the dancing clown was the gripping centerpiece of 2017’s best horror film.

Winner: Jamie Foxx (Baby Driver) – With style, loads of charisma, and some witty one liners, Foxx’s performance as Bats was one of the many memorable pieces to this exhilarating thriller.

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Other nominees: Charlize Theron (Fate of the Furious), Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming), James McAvoy (Split)

 

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Bronze: Despicable Me 3 – The plot might not have been up to par with its predecessors, but Illumination Studios managed to create a heartfelt family movie that was a massive upgrade from 2015’s Minions.

Silver: The Lego Batman Movie – This goofy but endearing movie is proof that the Dark Knight can still be cool and fun even with loads of campiness.

Winner: Coco – Pixar strikes again with a movie that is undeniably brilliant from its breathtaking animation to its tear inducing story. It also deserves tons of credit for its beautiful portrayal of Mexican culture. Representation matters.

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Other nominee – Cars 3

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Bronze: Denis Villenueve (Blade Runner 2049) – Villenueve lands in this spot for the 2nd straight year. This sequel to the 80’s cult sci-fi noir classic improves on the stunning visuals and soundtrack with a script that is intensely captivating.

Silver: Edgar Wright (Baby Driver) – Stylish and intense from beginning to end. The charismatic characters and use of music to enhance the narrative are why this film is an instant classic.

Winner: Jordan Peele (Get Out) – Move over Alfred Hitchcock. Peele’s directorial debut was a masterpiece of filmmaking. Every shot and every single scene from the camera work to the meticulous dialogue holds purpose and meaning.

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Other Nominees: James Franco (The Disaster Artist), Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman)

 

BEST ACTRESS

Bronze: Aubrey Plaza (Ingrid Goes West) – Plaza’s pertinent performance as the social media stalker in this indi-film was both humorously awkward and beautifully tragic.

Silver: Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) – Building on her fantastic cameo in the otherwise dull Batman v Superman, Gadot brought toughness, charm, and grace to the role as the iconic Amazonian warrior.

Winner: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) – She managed to be endearing, witty, and headstrong in a role that required her to use only sign language. If that isn’t great acting then I don’t know what is.

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Other nominees: Brie Larson (Free Fire), Meryl Streep (The Post), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

 

BEST ACTOR

Bronze: James Franco (The Disaster Artist) – Franco absolutely embodied the personality of the Tommy Wisseau, from the awkward mannerisms and accent to the childish charm.

Silver: Hugh Jackman (Logan) – At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else ever playing the grizzled comic hero. In what was likely his last portrayal of the character, Jackman brought more intensity and emotion than ever before.

Winner: James McAvoy (Split) – This felt like a no-brainer to me. McAvoy’s performance as a man with multiple personalities was one of the most captivating I’ve ever seen. Portraying a woman, a pervert, a child, and a gay artist in one movie and making it feel like they’re all genuine personas is nothing short of incredible.

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Other nominees: Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Jacob Tremblay (Wonder)

 

BEST MOVIE

Bronze: Coco – A beautiful story about family and supporting dreams, trademark perfect animation from Pixar, fun characters, and a radiant homage to a rich culture. There’s nothing to dislike about this animated classic.

Silver: Logan – Gritty and exciting from start to finish, Logan was more than just a comic book film. It took established characters and brought them even more nuance with an endearing story that felt ever more tangible with the western noir style of filmmaking.

Winner: Baby Driver – With originality and undeniable flare, this movie never stopped flowing. It had every element of what makes a movie memorable and exciting.

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Other nominees: Blade Runner 2049, Free Fire, The Disaster Artist, Get Out, Wonder

 

Did I forget anything? If I did, it’s probably because I didn’t see the movie (Sorry, Lady Bird). Thanks for another year of likes, shares, and comments! Here’s to another fun year of great performances and stories at the movies!

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The Moore Reviews Top 10 Movies of 2017

Another year has come and gone. To everyone who has liked, shared, or read my reviews this year, you are the reason I stay up late nights to right these reviews and I can’t thank you enough! I didn’t get around to watching every movie this year, but of the over 70 films I caught in theaters, these were the ones that stood out the most. To see the full review, click on the title. Feel free to let me know what movies were your favorite of 2017. Happy New Year and cheers to 2018 giving us even greater films.

10. GET OUT

“Within minutes of watching the film, the first thing that came to my mind were the works of famed horror director Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s films like Psycho, Vertigo, and Birds were creepy simply because of subject matter, subtle allegory, and some brilliant camera work. Get Out checks off all of those boxes with precision… Every ounce of dialogue, every shot, every scene holds purpose.”

 9. IT

“Anyone who was captivated by the Netflix series Stranger Things will absolutely enjoy It. The camaraderie of the teen protagonists is almost identical and the film does a sensational job of making each character necessary to the story….  Sometimes instead of scaring the audience, a horror film can be worthwhile because you can feel the fear in the characters and this remake of It manages to be an emotionally grounded and smile inducing adventure.”

8. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

“… in many ways, the story that Spider-Man: Homecoming comes up with manages to be arguably the character’s most definitive one… by making the character younger and placing him in a world where superheroes are both abundant and older, we are allowed to truly see Spider-Man’s coming of age as a likable hero.”

7. BLADE RUNNER 2049

“What the film lacks in suspense and action it makes up for in spectacular visuals and suave and swift performances… Aside from maintaining the sound and visual elements that made the 1982 film such a cult classic, Blade Runner 2049 manages to improve on the franchise’s lore with a more invigorating story and enthralling new characters.”

6. WONDER

“The drama that encompasses the story and the attention given to the supporting characters makes Wonder feel like something wholly realistic and true. It is a story perfect for people of all ages and if watching it doesn’t give you hope and a sense of love for the strength and capacity of the human spirit, then I don’t know what will.”

5. FREE FIRE

“Almost every line is filled with sly humor and relevancy. And every time the story seems as if it’s going to lull, a new twist sparks even more hilarious chaos… Free Fire never feels too long or uninteresting. It plays out like a giant game of Russian roulette and by the time the climax rolls around, you’ll be glad you watched it all unfold.”

4. COCO

Coco is nothing short of a marvel of storytelling. Like many of the Pixar films, the story is a brilliantly paced adventure with the appropriate touch of heart and Disney fairy tale magic… Coco succeeds in delivering its message with near tear inducing effectiveness and also deserves the utmost credit for being true to the heritage and culture of its setting.”

3. THE DISASTER ARTIST

“The film is bursting with charm thanks in large part to the two leads… Budding with marquee actors in supporting roles The Disaster Artist moves at a steady comedic pace that drives home the sense of uncanny humor and heart that both (Tommy) Wiseau and his terrible film (The Room) possess.

2. LOGAN

“The action sequences are gory, intense entertainment. But the family dynamic is undoubtedly the best part of Logan… What Director James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have created is a gritty, deeply earnest sendoff to an iconic character that is nothing short of a masterpiece.”

1. BABY DRIVER

“Everything about Baby Driver is stylish and fun. The action sequences, which the film wastes no time getting into, are ridiculously exhilarating thanks to some jaw dropping stunt work. The music is an eclectic, but fitting mix of rock n’ roll and hip hop songs blended from different eras. Perhaps the most captivating, is how Wright incorporates the music into his cinematography, often synchronizing beats with the swift movements onscreen… Baby Driver moves at a pace that is swift but never difficult to follow. If you aren’t hooked by the opening scene, then this simply isn’t for you. As for me, I found it to be the most exciting thrill ride of the summer and maybe of 2017.”

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Lego Batman Movie, Wonder Woman, John Wick 2, Girls Trip, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Power Rangers, Split

 

 

Justice League (Full Review)

Dreary, uninspired, and virtually tone deaf to the decades of phenomenal source material that came before it… the more you think about it, the more Batman v Superman feels like a train wreck. But Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman showed that DC and Warner Bros. has some footing. Now comes Justice League, the original super team of marquee heroes hoping to keep the DC Extended Universe from completely derailing.

Justice_League_film_posterFollowing the events of 2016’s Dawn of Justice, Justice League begins with Batman (Ben Affleck), his trusted butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) struggling to pick up the pieces following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill). When an alien god (Ciaran Hinds) who was once thwarted by Amazons and warriors from Atlantis returns to conquer Earth, Batman and Wonder Woman must recruit more metahumans to oppose him. Joining them are nerdy speedster Barry Allen aka The Flash (Ezra Miller), macho half-man, half Atlantian Arthur Curry aka the Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) a former football star who is fused with alien technology by his father (Joe Morton) after a near fatal accident. But to prevent the apocalypse, they’ll need to quickly gel as a team and find a way to resurrect the Man of Steel himself.

Justice League is by no means a polished movie. After an untimely and unfortunate exit from Director Zack Snyder, Avengers helmsmen Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the job. It is pretty noticeable in a few cringeworthy scenes where the reshoots and edits are glaringly obvious and out of place amidst the finished product. Not helping matters is the generic plot and somewhat rushed together opening act that attempts to pull together several characters never fully introduced on screen before.

But since when does having a flimsy plot make a superhero movie not entertaining? Audiences collectively gushed over Avengers even though it was about a random alien invasion bringing together a rag tag group just the same. And several of the touted Marvel films involve finding a magical mcguffin to thwart a megalomaniac. So the overarching narrative shouldn’t distract from the excitement when the tone is balanced, the action is intense, and the chemistry between characters works.

Justice League succeeds in the most important aspects of the genre. The chemistry between the heroes works wonderfully without compromising the more serious tone of the established universe. Affleck is brooding, but slyly exuberant and more balanced as Batman this time around. Fisher brings toughness and soul as Cyborg. Miller and Momoa are both boyishly comical in their roles and Gal Gadot is just as sophisticated and elegant as she’s been in every role as the Amazon warrior. Even Henry Cavill’s Superman, who swoops in as the team’s resident cheat code in the climax (it’s not that big of a spoiler. Trust me), manages to feel like a welcomed fit amongst the group. His charming boy scout routine works well in its small dose and manages to elevate another dull showing by Amy Adams as Lois Lane.

The action, though heavy on the CGI, is well paced and exhilarating with each team member getting a moment to flex their muscle. Several sequences, including one involving Connie Nielsen and the Amazons from Wonder Woman, are downright show stoppers. More importantly, characters finally feel true to their comic cores, so DC fan boys who have been waiting for the big screen films to be as engaging as the studio’s animated properties will have enough to feel satisfied. So while Justice League doesn’t break any new narrative ground and may only be wholly memorable to comic purists, it succeeds in rectifying the wrongs of Batman v Superman and showing that the DCEU does know how to put something fun together without completely losing its knack for spectacle and an emotional foundation.

FINAL GRADE: B

Wonder Woman (Full Review)

In baseball, when you’re losing, you don’t always need a homerun to restore the hope in your fans. Sometimes, you just need a solid base hit to get your team back into a rhythm. 2016 had two strikeouts for the DC Comics Extended Universe. Batman v Superman was the most dreary, self-indulgent superhero movie ever and Suicide Squad was a sloppy mess that had to rely on a seasoned cast to make it watchable. But now Wonder Woman is up to the plate, and after being one of the few bright spots in Batman v Superman, the most iconic superheroine in comic book history looks to get DC and Warner Bros. back in the cinematic game.

Wonder_Woman_(2017_film)Gal Gadot returns as Diana, the youngest of an island of Amazonian women created by Zeus to defend mankind from Aries, the God of War. Trained by her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright), Diana becomes the fiercest Amazonian warrior, much to the dismay of her protective mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). When a World War I spy named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on their hidden shores, Diana embarks on a mission with him and his friends (Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock) to find Aries and end the war before a German General (Danny Huston) and his chemist partner (Elena Anaya) can release a deadly gas on all of mankind.

From the beginning, when we see Diana as a starry eyed little girl, the movie has a charming tone to it that never ceases. All of the supporting protagonists are likable and the chemistry between Gadot and Chris Pine always comes off as genuine. Both Diana and Steve Trevor are wonderfully layered characters that uplift each other. Diana is portrayed as a strong but naïve fish out of water who learns the nuances of mankind from Trevor while he is a brave soldier who lacks faith until being inspired by her strong willed and unyielding nature.

Great chemistry between the cast is coupled with a strong dose of well timed humor that, unlike Suicide Squad, never feels forced. It should also come as no surprise to anyone that saw the character in Batman v Superman that the battle scenes are thrilling. So despite being over two hours, the movie paces beautifully with only the beginning feeling a tad slow.

Wonder Woman isn’t without some glaring flaws. There is an overuse of CGI which often clashes with the more tangible scenes in the film that feature well choreographed fights and gorgeous costumes and scenery. The movie also has some hokey moments and lacks a strong central antagonist (The final reveal seems a bit forced). So while it isn’t quite a homerun, Director Patty Jenkins does manage to make it DC’s first film that feels smart, fun, exciting, and endearing throughout. And that makes it a solid double off of the back wall and enough to give us faith in the studio again.

FINAL GRADE: B

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Full Review)

batman_v_superman_dawn_of_justice_ver8Forget the ‘v’ for versus, the idea of having Batman and Superman, two of the most iconic superheroes in all of pop culture, on the big screen together for the first time is enough to make even the tiniest of action movie fans giddy. As for me, you don’t have to know me, personally, to know who I side with. Simply skim through my favorite superhero movies and the love for the Dark Knight becomes pretty apparent. As for the overpowered Superman, my feelings toward him have always been the exact opposite. I respect the character, but I’ve always found him boring. That being said, I am on the side that thoroughly enjoyed Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. While most found its story dry and its action over the top, I appreciated the story’s ability to make Superman relatively relatable and I enjoyed the Dragon Ball Z-esque action sequences. So, needless to say, I was incredibly excited to see Snyder step into the director’s chair again as DC Comics attempts to create a cinematic universe akin to their rivals over at Marvel.

If you aren’t as familiar with the various comics as I am, then you’re probably unaware that Batman and Superman have always had a rocky relationship usually stemming from their conflicting styles: Superman, the boy scout and Batman, the fear mongering aggressor. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sews the seeds of that conflict early by placing Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) at ground zero of Metropolis during the climactic battle from Man of Steel as buildings are destroyed and countless people are killed in the crossfire. From there, the world splits between people like Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) who either love or worship Superman (Henry Cavill), and the people like Bruce Wayne or Metropolis billionaire Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who fear his power or loathe him for his constant collateral damage.

For starters, put your worries of Ben Affleck’s Batman aside. He is good, albeit brutal, in his portrayal of a weary and war torn Bruce Wayne. Good enough to warrant another solo Batman outing. The action sequences featuring the caped crusader are some of the best in the movie, and I’m not just saying that because of my obvious bias. Jeremy Irons is also a fantastic addition as Wayne’s butler, Alfred. Even the Dawn of Justice elements are not as shoe horned as some might have anticipated. Gal Gadot provides a perfect appetizer for the Wonder Woman character that will be expanded upon in future films.

Now let’s address what doesn’t work. I gave Snyder a pass for his pacing issues in Man of Steel, but here they are even more glaring. From the opening sequence that reminds us of Batman’s origin it is clearly evident that we are watching a Zack Snyder movie thanks to operatic music and overkill on slow motion graphics. There are seven live-action Batman movies in existence (eight if your’re counting this), not to mention countless animated films, television shows, and video games. Do we really need a long opening montage to remind us of the hero’s origin? Things like this coupled with some dragging scenes regarding Lois Lane researching a stray bullet, could’ve been noticeably shortened or cut to make the film less than three hours and make it feel less sluggish. The movie attempts to break the dragging tone with Jesse Eisenberg’s quirky portrayal of Lex Luthor, which mostly misses with the exception of one or two really riveting moments.

But pacing isn’t the biggest problem with the movie. My biggest gripe is the one fans and casual movie goers will likely have as opposed to film critics, and that is the relative false advertising. Instead of calling the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it should be called “The Philosophy of Superman’s Existence… featuring Batman… with a few Justice League Cameos”. Instead of focusing on the conflicting nature of the two iconic heroes and highlighting their greatest strengths and flaws, the movie meanders through its first half while wallowing in its own philosophical ideals. Sure, several excellent points are raised thanks to some great quotes from Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch and some solid banter between Clark Kent and his boss, Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), but that’s not what the studio spent two years marketing to potential audiences.

We were told that it would be, as Lex Luthor puts it, “God vs. Man. Day vs. Night. Son of Krypton vs. Bat of Gotham”. Yet, when the fight finally does come around, it goes by too fast and its set up seems so forced that the film could almost exist without it altogether. And because of that, even though the last act is full of eye popping action, it seems so thrown together that it isn’t quite enough to justify the weight of the buildup.

It isn’t quite fair to compare this film, or any DC film, to what Marvel has built. DC is attempting a more serious tone to establish a unique feel and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you’re going to be gloomy, wake us up here and there with some action (ala Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy). And if you’re going to have action, give it more purpose. Otherwise you end up with a film like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie so hell bent on being thought provokingly serious that it doesn’t stop to appreciate its iconic heroes and revel in the fact that we’re watching a fantasy. There are some great shoutouts to classic DC Comics and the hints at things to come should give purists hope for DC’s cinematic future. But a movie featuring arguably the most popular superheroes of all time deserves better than sub-par.

FINAL GRADE: C-