Justice League MOVIE REVIEW

When I was a kid, I’d always dreamed of a Justice League film. Reading the JL comics, watching Superfriends reruns and the Bruce Timm Justice League series only added fuel to the fire for my dreams. For a while, I was convinced it wouldn’t happen anytime soon, and if it did I’d either be dead or too old to care.

In 2007, there had been rumors of a Justice League film in development with George Miller (Mad Max) at the helm. But when those developments didn’t come to fruition, I was back to dreaming.

Then, 5 years later, Marvel released The Avengers. I remember sitting in the theatre, in awe at seeing characters I’d read in comics or watched on Saturday mornings, fight aliens in New York. Then as a response, DC announced Man of Steel to be released the next year. That ignited the fuel… And now in 2018, and four DC films later—Justice League!

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure how good Justice League would be. (Or if it would even be watchable.) Man of Steel was good, Batman v. Superman wasn’t horrible or good, Suicide Squad was unbearable, and Wonder Woman was the best one out of all of them… I was hoping Justice League would get better reviews from critics, but seeing the reviews the film sounded like a mess worse than Suicide Squad.

Still, I just couldn’t resist not seeing Batman, Superman and Wonder on the same screen as Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg. (Seriously, who thought Aquaman or Cyborg would be in films of any kind?)

Anyway let’s start with the directors. Zach Snyder (Watchmen, BvS) was originally attached as the director, but then tragedy struck and he had to stop. Thus Joss Whedon (Avengers, Firefly) was brought on to finish, and he made some script changes, and filmed some additional scenes.

Visually, the film looks rather bright compared to the other DC films… Man of Steel and BvS looked dark and moody, almost like everything had a shade of gray. Thankfully Whedon & Snyder have added some color. One issue unfortunately is the CGI. At times, Justice League looks a video game. Worse, the villain Steppenwolf doesn’t look realistic or remotely threatening. (The actor Ciaran Hinds did well with the voice, but that only helps so much.)

Script wise, the story is good but not the most original. Just the stereotypical throwing superheroes together who don’t get along and have them form a team… you get the picture. However, there a few genuinely funny moments, and there’s less cheesy dialogue than in previous DC films. (Though it’s easy to tell what Whedon and Terrio wrote, it feels like a cohesive project. Though Avengers this is not.)

If you see this movie, see it for the acting. Specifically from our six heroes: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller. (Honorable mentions include Jeremy Irons as Alfred, and J.K Simmons as GPD Commissioner Gordon.) All six seem to have good chemistry, and that’s always integral for team movies. Out of the six, Fisher, Momoa and Miller steal the spotlight. (Cyborg, Aquaman, and Flash respectively.) League is a great film debut for those three. Though I feel bad that Ciaran Hinds didn’t get to play a villain with good lines.

Overall I give Justice League 3 1/2 Stars out of 5. No it’s not perfect, but League is fun to watch for some super heroics! Also don’t forget to watch the after credit scenes.

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Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence REVIEW

Note: This book is not for children. Yes, it’s about a 15 year old boy. But it’s about a boy thrust into a world of blood and ruin. Not for children, or squeamish readers. If this was a movie, it would be a hard-R. You have been warned.

For the last two years or so, in Fantasy groups on Facebook and beyond, I’ve been hearing quite a bit of praise for Thorns. I put it on my massive reading list for a while, and finally got to it last year. Thankfully I stopped procrastinating about reading it, and finally finished it this year.

The book centers on Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath, heir of Ancrath. When he nine years old, he witnessed soldiers belonging to Count Renar, murder his little brother and his mother, while he watched helplessly from a thorn bush he fell into.

Jorg’s father, King Olidan, refuses to get revenge for the senseless murder, so Jorg decides to take matters in his own hands, and leave the castle to plot his revenge. By age thirteen, he becomes the leader of a group of brigands, and by age fifteen he decides to return home and become King… But some things are easier said than done. (And that’s all I can say without spoiling the book.)

The book is told entirely from Jorg’s point of view, in the first person. (Rare for a Fantasy novel to be told from that view, but Lawrence handles the challenge beautiful.) He is cold and ruthless, yet he’s also very sarcastic and at times made me laugh out loud. And it’s largely the humor that kept me reading, and the unpredictability of Jorg’s actions.

As for Jorg the character, he’s not a large brute that bashes everything that moves that you normally find in revenge stories. He is small and skinny, preferring to outthink and outmaneuver his opponents, giving him a big advantage in a world of darkness and brutality. And thankfully Lawrence writes the antagonists s of the tale the same way, and makes them just as memorable as Jorg.

Another thing different about this tale is that everyone is equally capable of good and bad. A good break from clearly defined and moustache twirling characters.

Even the writing style is refreshing. Descriptions are short, and to the point, moving the story along at a quick pace. As a writer, it’s a style one can and should aspire to.

Overall, I give Prince of Thorns  4 ½ Stars out of 5. If you like your Epic Fantasy on the gritty side or revenge stories, you should give this book and the rest of The Broken Empire series a look. Should also appeal to fans of David Gemmell, Joe Abercrombie, and Scott Bakker.