Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rapid Reviews: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Eye in the Sky

The long and often impatient wait has ended. Zack Snyder's daring attempt at bridging the two iconic universes belonging to DC Comics legends, Batman and Superman, officially opened to audiences this week and all of my reservations proved warranted. Not only is Dawn of Justice a muddled and overly ambitious cornerstone to the seemingly doomed DC universe, the film fails terribly at being the antithesis of its Marvel rival.

Following Superman's (Henry Cavill) colossal destruction of Metropolis during his fight with General Zod, the devastating effects linger into the mind of Gotham's caped crusader (Ben Affleck). Fearful of Superman's almighty power to rule planet Earth if he so desired, Batman must take matters into his own hands. And while these gladiators settle their own differences, the maniacal madman, Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg), summons a villainous creation of his own.

Let me preface by stating that I am by no means a Marvel loyalist. I'd considered myself a marginal fan of the widely stretched universe in which it continues to create. However, my deepest affinity for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy gave me a rooting interest for Snyder's new vision of the Batman legacy. Unfortunately, Dawn of Justice substitutes an obsessive amount of CGI and visual effects for a cohesive storyline. The result is a jumbled entry that fails to get a worthwhile performances out of any of its lead actors. Dawn of Justice packs far too many ideas into an already difficult premise of linking together DC's two most recognizable superheroes. Any hope of a resurgence will have to come from the intriguing super villain film, Suicide Squad, which opens this August.

Stars: 1 and a half out of 4

Grade: C-

Perhaps best known for his role as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, the late Alan Rickman's prestigious acting career goes well beyond this universal series. Rickman's untimely passing in January has placed a fair amount of attention on his final motion picture performance in Gavin Hood's wartime drama, Eye in the Sky.

With the United States' and Britain's number two, four and five most wanted terrorists all under the same roof in Kenya, Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) seeks the approval of her general (Alan Rickman) and government officials to allow their U.S. drone pilot (Aaron Paul) to fire on the building. Yet, once a young Kenyan girl sets up a bread-selling stand within the collateral damage of the missile target, the situation grows far more complicated for everyone involved.

Eye in the Sky is a wonderfully executed film which takes a straight-forward premise and turns it into something much greater. Gavin Hood and company create a tense experience that's complemented well by fine moments of levity, usually brought on by Rickman's natural comedic touch. Helen Mirren delivers an exceptional performance, yet again, and shows quite a bit of range in her stern military role. Eye in the Sky tackles the controversial aspects of modern drone warfare and offer a worthwhile glance into the future of counter-terrorism.

Stars: 3 stars out of 4

Grade: B

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