Batman VS. Superman is a thoughtful masterpiece cleverly disguised as a superhero flick.

BvS is a cinematic event that has accrued a rather large amount of speculation, mainly because the public doesn’t know what they’re getting. Is DC unveiling a new and dynamic media for their storytelling? Or are they merely playing catch-up to Marvel and their cinematic universe? Such is the question that crossed my mind entering this picture. By the time the credits rolled, my question had been answered.

I’ll start with the movie’s general atmosphere. Great special effects and cinematography combined with a Williamsian score create an immersive story and a stirring emotional response to critical events. Lex Luthor’s discordant and unnerving theme music juxtaposes perfectly with Wonder Woman’s bombastic electric guitar- fueled melody. This active accompaniment is a large (and welcome) step away from the chorale-like background music we have grown used to as moviegoers. Bravo, Mister Zimmer. Bravo.

The movie is also blessed with exceptional acting. If you’ll recall a couple months back, Snyder was not exactly lauded for his inspired casting skills. However, Ben Afleck played a wonderful aging Bruce Wayne, and Jesse Eisenberg played a positively psychotic Lex Luthor. His insane rambling combined with Zimmer’s jarring string movement was enough to give me chills.

BvS is the first big-budget instance of The Dark Knight’s and The Man of Steel’s coexistence. Additionally, it features Diana Prince, A.K.A.Wonder Woman. While lacking a lot of development or Explanation, her character is a spectacular addition to the movie. Wonder Woman has never been my favorite hero, but even my jaw dropped when she finally donned the Amazonian Armour and joined the fray. Batman was angry and vengeful, and Superman was righteous. While I object as a fan to the increasing darkness in the M.O.s of our heroes, I acknowledge what it represents. Superman is tasked with the burden of enormous power that he is still learning to control, while Batman, fed up with years of loss and death, begins to skirt closer and closer to deadly force.

Batman’s technology is also here in all its implausible glory. Gas grenades and a sleek new batmobile allow the Knight to keep up with his meta-human allies.

As most of us know, BvS is loosely based on Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns”. While this is not the direct source material, it has largely been the expectation that to a certain degree, the movie would mirror the book. However, Snyder deviates very heavily. As a matter of fact, aside from a couple homages, BvS is a new product altogether. This is a gutsy decision. After all, hell hath no fury like a nerd scorned.

This incredibly brave choice differs from what has become a very surefire pattern, especially in Disney’s case. An adaptation of a story with some differentiation here and there is the tried and true formula for success at the box office. And yet, BvS begs to differ; it dares to be different, and for this, it should be applauded. Certainly, it is quite exhilarating to see your favorite comics come to life, but it was extremely refreshing to watch a drama play out, where I really didn’t know how the story would end. I don’t want every superhero movie to be like this one. Nothing can ever replace seeing Captain America and Co. defending the city of Manhattan from an encroaching Chitauri force. But Snyder’s film stays true to the spirit of the characters, while simultaneously delivering a unique narrative. All in all, this makes for an irreplaceable experience.

Spielberg proves his mastery of the director’s chair yet again with Bridge of Spies

Bridge of spies is not your typical movie, it almost seems like it would be boring, except it isn’t. This film is like a tree that you drive by on your way to work. Nothing special, quite ordinary; and then one day you see it from a different angle, and the way the dew glistening off of its leaves catches the sunlight just takes your breath away.

As I mentioned before, Bridge of Spies is different, it doesn’t have a particularly memorable score, or poetic dialogue, every character is portrayed as a “regular guy/gal”. The credit must go to the Coen brothers here. The actors lines, particularly the exchanges between Hanks’ and Rylance’s characters are stirring in their simplicity. The story unfolds similarly, everything sort of just happens, and at the end, it all fits together perfectly.

Nobody knows, what makes Spielberg so great, is it his groundbreaking camera work? or perhaps his implementation of cutting edge visual effects? In my humble opinion it is his enigmatic ability to take what would likely be dull and uninteresting in the hands of any other director, and turn it into a thing of wonder. This movie plays out naturally, with moments of subtle heroism, and true human emotion, it is so very downplayed, that one simply cannot pull their eyes away. Bridge of Spies is truly an organic wonder.

Assassins Creed Falls Short of its Potential

Assassins creed is a pretty straightforward franchise. Its about historical conflicts, and cool dudes that run around taking out major targets whilst doing awesome parkour. I’m not a huge fan of the games (I’ve only ever played IV) but as someone who is into history, I was pretty stoked for this movie. On top of that, Assassins Creed is also a reunion For Justin Kurzel, Michael Fassbender, and Marion Cotillard; who all worked on the most recent version of Macbeth, which I absolutely loved. My expectations for this movie were high. So high, in fact, that I disregarded the overwhelming onslaught of hate that came in the wake of the movie’s early screenings. Boy, was I wrong.

Justin Kurzel is a great director. He has a gift in his manipulation of fog, dust, and light. He did great things in Macbeth, especially with the final confrontation, and he does similarly great things here…at least when the screenplay permits it. The setting that I had most looked forward to; fifteenth century Spain, at the height of the inquisition, barely gets 30 minutes of screen time, if that. The ferocious beauty that Kurzel’s visual style brings to the table is never given time to become the prepossessing masterpiece I know it could have become. The epic acrobatics, tense sequences of martial arts combat, and exotic weaponry scarcely sink in before the viewers, just like Callum Lynch, are jerked back to a monotone and boring laboratory, that serves as the setting for most of the movie.

At one point in the film, when the villainous Templar priest finally lays his oppressive hands on the apple of Eden, the movie’s sought after artifact, Aguilar, and his Assassin partner leap down into a cloud of grey smoke, emerging from the shadows here, and there, laying absolute waste to the Templar. This is a moment of cinematic triumph, and Kurzel ought to be pleased. Next however, as Aguilar seizes the priest, he looks across the room, and sees his partner just as she is murdered by a Templar enforcer. An epic duel ensues. Climactic combat is Fassbender’s forte. The man shows his emotions so well with his facial expressions. This woman is his wife, presumably, or his lover perhaps. However, I have no idea who she is; heck, i don’t even know what her name is. The movies plot prevents you from being emotionally invested in the most adrenaline pumping part of the story, because the script focuses on what has to be the most positively tedious plot device in Assassins Creed.

This movie was Ubisoft’s chance to disconnect the Assassins Creed franchise from the half-baked convoluted sci-fi plot devices that are part and parcel of the games. Instead, the film chooses to be a movie that is almost solely, a half baked-convoluted plot device, with a dash of fantastic stunt work on the side.

I am usually pretty optimistic after a movie. It takes very little to please me. My rating scale tends to peak at “perfect”, and reach its low at “just good”. I’m sad to say that I wanted Assassin’s Creed to end. Once I realized that there were no more animus sequences coming my way, I had no reason to care anymore. This was not, sitting on the edge of my seat, or wishing the film would hurry up and get to the climax. I legitimately wanted the movie to be over, so the credits would roll, and I could get up and leave.

Assassin’s Creed is a tragedy. So much talent was involved, and clearly, plenty of hard work went into it. A few times, Kurzel’s pictorial virtuosity is allowed to shine through the weary and trite plot, but for the most part, it is suppressed by how vapid and incomplete everything else is. It is a pity. Assassins Creed was chock full of potential, but it couldn’t have fallen more short.

Battlefield 1: The Change of Pace the Gaming World Has Been Waiting For

Battlefield one is the excellent counter to Call of Duty’s infinite warfare, and a perfect answer to the longing of many gamers (myself included) to play a shooter that doesn’t cast them as a barely human cyborg, powered by cybernetic implants. It is the difficulty of BF1 that makes it so compelling. It is incredibly inconvenient every time you reload your weapon, and your character takes 30 seconds or so to do it, but at the same time, a little grin creeps on to my face each time it happens. Health is hard to regain, unless you have a medkit, and it is not uncommon to be unable to ADS because of the gasmask on your face, protecting you from a deadly cloud of mustard gas. It’s these little details, that make this game so compelling.
The story is incredibly powerful as well. From the opening sequence where you play as about 5 different characters, all of whom inevitably perish, the game powerfully conveys the hopelessness of a war where battlefield tactics had yet to catch up to the death dealing technologies of the period. The Short anthology type stories do a great job of highlighting specific aspects of the war. These stories are extremely moving, as they manage to connect you to the characters and create meaningful development over the course of only three or four levels.
BF1 also features an immensely fun multiplayer. The most enjoyable aspect of which is the new operations feature; a bit of a cross between domination, and rush, with the large scale chaos of conquest. One match will take about 3 rounds, and sometimes moves to a different map. Usually at least once in a course of a match, one side is reinforced by a zeppelin, train, or dreadnought battleship. The scope of the matches is monstrous. Each time you spawn in, the camera zooms into a spot on the map, speaking to how small, helpless, and inconsequential each soldier must have felt; especially when there are things like Zeppelins looming in the sky, raining death on all who dare to venture underneath.
Whether you are a hardcore fps gamer, or someone who is interested in history, and compelling heroism, Bf1 is a mightily entertaining experience.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; a Fitting Goodbye to a Beloved Franchise

Uncharted 4 is excellent, and to be perfectly honest, would be a great game even without its captivating narrative. The introduction of the rope to game-play, as well as some ante upping on stealth mode are wonderful additions. The game is perfectly paced. The intensity ramps up higher and higher as the story continues. Firefights are much rarer than past installments, and very unique. This game-play variety surprisingly adds a lot to the story. Nate no longer feels like an unstoppable killing machine, but more like an aging man, past his prime, simply doing his best.

Of course, without the story, Uncharted would just be…well.., it wouldn’t be AS amazing. But the cinematic plot does not disappoint. It incorporates flashbacks, without using them as a crutch, and unlike past games the plot progression continues even after the cut-scenes end. Those long walks through a path, awkward climbs up rustic buildings, and in this games case, drives through the desert now host interesting conversation rather than mindless, albeit often hilarious banter.

The set-pieces in the game are equally amazing. The breathtaking landscapes sometimes prompt a few minutes of inactivity where the player just stares at Naughty Dog’s meticulous attention to detail. And with the new photo mode, this is even more magnificent.

Reportedly, this is to be the last game in the Uncharted franchise. Prior to playing this game, I was disappointed. “I hope its good” I thought, resolving to spend my last few weeks with Nathan Drake and CO. as well as possible, relishing every moment. But A thieves end is different. It does something next to impossible for a gamer. It satisfies. That desire for more that the player felt after uncharted one, two, and three, is totally absent. I may never see Nathan Drake again, and I’m okay with that. From brutal brawls, to death-defying leaps; wide open mountains, to claustrophobic caves, this game is practically perfect in every away.

Daytripper By Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

“Sometimes we die to prove we lived”

Daytripper is a comic book like no other.  I began reading it with little to no knowledge about the book’s premise and I struggled to grasp what was going on as I read it, and it wasn’t until I finished it that I truly understood what it was about.  Daytripper starts chillingly, with Bras, the main character standing in a restaurant in a pool of blood.  The book gives us some poetic lines and then it shifts to another scene, presumably beforehand.

Bras is a writer, for a newspaper in Brazil.  He writes obituaries.  His father is a famous novelist, and we can assume Bras feels the need to live up to his reputation.  He is working on a book himself, but it is a struggle.  The book draws you in, lulling you with its cartoon style, almost abstract art.  Then suddenly, at the end of the first chapter, Bras is shot by a robber, and killed.

Imagine my surprise, when next chapter features him again, fully alive.  He is a bit younger this time, on vacation at the beach.  He and his friend go sightseeing, shopping, and he meets a girl, but yet again, Bras dies at the end of the chapter, drowning this time.

Confused, I read on, and realized that as a matter of fact, each chapter ends is Bras’ death.  There is no resurrection explained, rather, after each death, a new chapter simply begins, at a new stage in Bras’ life this time.  One gets the sense, that Bras is not restarting his life, alternately, each chapter represents a different possibility, a variant universe in which Bras life takes a different turn.  While this may seem confusing, it actually works quite well.  Daytripper aims to tell about death, and it does this quite well with the multiple stories about Bras.  By using the same character for these dozen or so short stories, the reader develops a sort of rapport with Bras, we understand who he is, where hes coming from, and why he does the things he does.

Daytripper features a variety of different themes that speak to the twists and turns of everyday life.  One chapter, Bras is in love, another, he is at the peak of his potential, having finally made it big as a writer.  One chapter in particular, where Bras is murdered by Jorge, his best friend approaches the complexity and fickleness of human relationships.

Daytripper is a book, full to the brim with motifs of death.  Bras is a writer of obituaries, and his constant thinking about it is reflected in the reader’s rumination as they make their way through the story (or stories, depending on how you look at it).  But despite the morbidity of the narrative, Daytripper is inspiring, with a conclusion that offers hope for life.  Daytripper produces a verdict that life is fragile, and can expire at any time.  It encourages us to make the best of our time on earth, so that we, like bras, can leave the world satisfied with the live we had lived, and the legacy we’ve left behind.  But what’s the great thing about Daytripper? it never explicitly states any of these things.  It encourages readers to infer, and figure these things out all on their own.