I never thought I would be revisiting this film again. Like many others, I had experienced so much disappointment watching this ugly spectacle on the big screen, yet millions of DC Comics fans had gone on to give ecstatic praise for the visual style and action. Then, lo and behold, regardless of the box-office disappointment it became, Warner Bros. announces an Ultimate Edition that restores 30 minutes of cut footage back into the fray. Curiosity, it seems, went too far, and now, here we are.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - The Ultimate Edition does a decent job of seamlessly restoring the footage cut from the theatrical release. Much of it addresses serious plot holes so prominent and obvious in the theatrical edition that it's actually one of the film's saving graces. The key elements that worked in the theatrical cut (Ben Affleck's Batman/Bruce Wayne, Gal Godot's Wonder Woman, and Jeremy Irons as Alfred, for example) are all preserved perfectly and still work to their advantages. The R rating placed by the MPAA, however, is a different story. Much like the extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, blood and more violence is added to action scenes where it was previously removed. For BvS, however, it feels shoehorned in rather than authentic, with its general target to give diehard DC comic-book fans a more stylized graphic-novel movie than what was seen in the theatrical cut. For that purpose, the movie caters to its target group reasonably well.
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Gal Godot, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons
Release Date: June 28, 2016 (Digital HD); July 19, 2016 (Blu-Ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD)
Distributor: Warner Bros., RatPac Entertainment, DC Comics
As I sat in the theater during the end credits, I thought about all of the films that Steven Spielberg has given to us. The amazing ones, the captivating ones, the overtly whimsical ones. Nothing can be said about the greatness of Spielberg which hasn't been said before. His gift and vision for storytelling is sublime, and he's always made great attempts at pushing these boundaries with every new film he works on.
One would think, then, that Spielberg's first "true" film with the Disney branding (having worked with their Touchstone branch on multiple films in recent years) would be a perfect collaboration, not to mention including the source material of one of Roald Dahl's most beloved children's books and a screenplay from the late Melissa Mathison (best known for her work on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). So why did I feel so much disappointment afterwards? I suppose a better question to be asked would be why is The BFG flopping at the box office? There are elements that stand out, but with it, there's much more which doesn't work at all.
The visual effects are absolutely stunning. Mark Rylance (as the Big, Friendly Giant) is a force to be reckoned with, and his presence on the screen is totally believable. He recites the words and whisperings of Dahl's story with breadth and clarity, even when the giant uses different words from what he means. As if this isn't enough, Ruby Barnhill (in her acting debut) is charming, ruthless, and perfect as Sophie. Her interactions with this motion-capture world Spielberg has created are also totally believable and genuine. She runs around the giant country encountering perils and wondrous things as if it is all really there. Everything is with great detail, from the dust in the BFG's house, to the waterfall leading to his workshop, to the tree where he catches dreams and the foul-tasting snozzcumber he subsists on.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Jemaine Clement, Bill Hader, Penelope Wilton
Have you ever wondered what your pets do when you're not home? That's the self-proclaimed tagline which has helped Universal and Illumination Entertainment mass-market their next collaboration together. With three films in the Despicable Me franchise, and a Dr. Seuss adaptation in their portfolio, Illumination now presents the second original idea to come from their studio since their launch in 2010. But, how original is it?
Meet Max, a Jack Russell terrier with a funny performance by Louis C.K. He and his human owner, Katie, are thick as thieves, living at an apartment in the Big Apple. One day, Katie brings home another dog, a lovable Newfoundland named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). The two don't get along right away, and through an unfortunate circumstance due to their rivalry, the two end up lost in the big city and must somehow find their way back home. Max's friends and neighbors, dogs and cats and birds of various kinds, go on an ultimate quest to find the two when they discover their absence, all of them running into various other dangers and perils along the way.
Director: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney (co-director)
Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Steve Coogan, Albert Brooks
MPAA Rating: PG
Release Date: July 8, 2016
Studio: Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment
A common question we all seem to have asked for the last decade now: Is the sequel really necessary? In most cases, it's a recipe for disaster. In this case... mostly yes, but it plays the disaster part so well. The sequel to Roland Emmerich's fan-favorite sci-fi film has finally arrived, delivering some common threads of what made its predecessor great, but not enough to stand on its own.
When Independence Day was first released in 1996, it attracted a large number of audiences thanks to an exceptionally strong marketing campaign. Its teaser trailer alone, showing the infamous shot of the White House's destruction by extraterrestrial hands, made a tremendous impact for filmgoers and helped the film become a massive success at the box office worldwide. The characters, while mainly stereotypes, were enjoyably bad stereotypes. I still remember Will Smith's cockiness (Smith did not return for the sequel), Jeff Goldblum's stuttering scientific mumbo-jumbo, Bill Pullman's speech near the end, and a strong sense of unification for humanity in its earth-shattering climax.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Bill Pullman, Jessie Usher, William Fichtner, Brent Spiner, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox