BIRDS OF PREY (February 7, 2020)
For my interviews with the cast and director Cathy Yan, click HERE!
SHAZAM! (April 5, 2019)
AQUAMAN (December 21, 2018)
JUSTICE LEAGUE (November 17, 2017)
Director: Zach Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Joe Morton
DC Comics continues to crank out movies in their superhero universe in hopes of veering the franchise in the right direction. Earlier this year we saw the release of Wonder Woman, which came as a sigh of relief for many fans and was the first big success for DC’s Extended Universe. Like the old saying goes, one step forward and two steps back for DC with Justice League. That’s not to say it’s terrible. I won’t spew hatred onto it like many other critics, but there are glaring issues that continue to haunt over DC’s movies.
Justice League picks up in the aftermath of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The world is still mourning over the death of Superman (Cavill). Flags and memorials are in place to honor the fallen hero. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Affleck) feels partially responsible for his fate and fears that more danger looms over the horizon with an even greater evil looking to destroy the planet. He doesn’t know who or what but doesn’t want to waste any time in order to prepare. He needs to bring back that beacon of hope that Superman once stood for. The Amazonian women on Wonder Woman’s home island of Themyscira are the first to witness the wrath of Steppenwolf, the film’s token villain. He’s a lumbering alien officer surrounded by a swarm of winged galactic creatures. They represent the end of worlds, as he’s looking to find his three hidden mother boxes which form together into one large energy force. It’s a pretty silly concept, but I’ll have more on that later. It takes some convincing but Batman is able to form the Justice League with Wonder Woman (Gadot), The Flash (Miller), Aquaman (Momoa), and Cyborg (Fisher) in hopes of stopping Steppenwolf before he can find his mother boxes.
We were all introduced to the new members of the Justice League as a tease in Batman v Superman. This is DC Comics’ approach to Marvel’s Avengers movies where they take their known superheroes and assemble them together to take down an evil force threatening to destroy the world. Screenwriters Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon (Marvel’s The Avengers) have found a way to balance their introductions without spending too much screen time veering off the main, albeit skimpy, plot. Each member of the Justice League gets to have their moment to shine making them standout over Batman. Victor Stone/Cyborg must grapple with his changing body from human to machine thanks to lab experiments at the hands of his father (Scandal’s Joe Morton). As The Flash, Ezra Miller is fast-talking and pure static energy with his powers and personality. He’s like a kid in a candy store when he’s introduced to the Batcave. Some may find his character grating, but he didn’t bother me. Wonder Woman is another highlight as her opening sequence with her taking down bank robbers gets the movie off to a great start. She gets to be the logical and grounded one of the group. Last, but certainly not least, brings the brutish but funny Aquaman at the hands of Game of Throne’s Jason Momoa.
It’s exciting to have supporting characters we can latch onto with any comic book movie. That enthusiasm can only pull a movie far enough when the lead and villain are as lackluster as they are in Justice League. Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman is the core of the film, yet he has never been able to bring any personality or joy to his version of the character. This is supposed to be an aged and disgruntled take on the character, but Affleck has a moody one-noted take on him. Don’t get me started on the impractical steroid looking Batsuit he’s given to wear. He can barely put his arms down. DC continues to show that it has antagonist problems, much like we saw with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. The film’s villain, Steppenwolf, is completely forgettable. He’s a completely CGI creature lacking any sort of personality giving nothing to actor Ciarán Hinds to work with to make him stand out. The DCEU has yet to find a character and actor to carry on the torch like we saw with Jack Nicholson (Batman), Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns), or Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight).
Justice League attempts to resurrect a dying franchise much like we see with its treatment of Cyborg and Superman. It’s not really a spoiler that he comes back from the dead as Henry Cavill has been all over the promotional materials. It improves on many of the flaws of Batman v Superman. It was widely publicized that Whedon came in for rewrites and took over post-production reshoots after Zach Snyder left for family obligations. You can hear the Whedon influence in the snappy dialogue. This may have also been to adhere to the humor found in Wonder Woman. Also gone is the overabundance of pointless side plots and random action sequences, which are now kept fairly short and easy to follow. It’s a pleasant change from the bloated ones Snyder had in his previous outings. I applaud the pairing down of unnecessary bulk, but as result, screenwriter Chris Terrio forgets that character development still needs to occur. Superman’s return is the only real sense of growth throughout this movie.
Your enjoyment of Justice League may just depend on your feelings towards the other DCEU movies. I’m in that camp of thinking that Zach Snyder, with big help from Joss Whedon, made a worthy improvement over Batman v Superman. Wonder Woman is still the clear favorite. It’s nice to have Danny Elfman back scoring Batman’s universe. If you listen clearly you can hear his old themes from the 1988 Batman score as well as John William’s classic Superman score from the Christopher Reeve days. I suppose the end result for Snyder and the rest of DC is to get us excited about future projects. There they have succeeded, as their next film Aquaman should be a kick-ass ride.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
WONDER WOMAN (June 2, 2017)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Ewen Bremner, Elena Anay
Wonder Woman is the latest in the DC Extended Universe expanding on her storyline first introduced in Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice. There’s a lot riding on its success to keep this universe afloat after their previous movies have yielded mediocre reviews from audiences and critics. This version of Wonder Woman, with the dynamic Gal Gadot in the lead, traces the character back to her early days as a young Amazonian girl living off a private island shielded from Ares, the Greek god of war. She is surrounded by fierce women who spend their days training as warriors for his evitable return. Diana’s mother, Hippolyta (Nielson), is aware of her special powers and wants Diana to go through grueling training at the hands of her aunt Antiope (Wright) knowing she will be the one to save them. Their lives are disrupted one day when World War I pilot and spy Captain Steve Trevor (Pine) crashes down off the island’s shore. German soldiers are hot on his tail, as he has stolen a secret notebook from Dr. Poison containing plans for the German army. Diana fully believes that Dr. Poison is the return of Ares and is destined to go with Trevor to take him down. They leave the island against Hippolyta’s wishes and sail back to London in hopes of stopping the war.
Producer Zack Snyder and the rest of those involved with the DC Expanded Cinematic Universe should thank their lucky stars that Wonder Woman is a fantastic step in the right direction. This is by far the best DC film in years. The first three films in this universe have been overly long and just felt like a constant hyper speed of loud action and explosions with a lack of storytelling and care to the characters at hand. Wonder Woman feels more in touch with Marvel’s Captain America as Diana Prince is portrayed more as a war hero than the light crime fighter we saw from Lynda Carter in the ‘70s TV series.
Wonder Woman marks a comic book movie first as Patty Jenkins is the first female director to take on the genre. Her last major film was directing Charlize Theron’s Oscar winning performance in Monster in 2003. Jenkins brings a deep humanity to this story that was severely missing from Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad. As Diana continues on her mission, it becomes apparent that she’s a superhero that leads with her heart fighting for the ones she loves. She learns that war is filled with hate and that only love can conquer the hate that surrounds us. Jenkins easily lets the film take a breath when it needs to find the quiet intimate moments between Diana and Captain Trevor in conjunction with their urgency to find Dr. Poison/Ares. Pierce and screenwriter Allan Heinberg keep the origin aspects in check, as Diana’s background doesn’t take up too much of the film’s run time. It never feels bogged down in exposition, and in turn, gets to the heart of the story within the first thirty minutes after a fantastic battle scene with the Amazonian women kicking butt against the Germans. None of that can be said about the other DC films.
Pierce takes another page from the Marvel handbook by finding quite a bit of humor within the film. Gadot and Pine have great chemistry together. Their introductory scenes together are filled with funny banter given to Diana having never seen the male species. Pierce directs the “fish out of water” aspects with a farcical sense of comedic timing when she arrives in London. The gritty, war torn London is a stark contrast to her vibrant and lush island of Themyscira. Gadot’s comedic timing may be a surprise, as we already knew she could handle the combat aspects of film. She has a military background as she trained in the Israeli army before making it as an actress in the Fast and the Furious movies. She can crack the golden lasso and take any villain down with the best of them. She makes Diana a strong role model for young girls, as she’s a fighter and has no time for the typical gender roles placed in society.
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is the superhero we need in the genre. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow hasn’t been given strong enough material despite the multitude of Marvel movies she’s been featured in. As Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot has proven to be a great Lynda Carter replacement. The charming Chris Pine, who has had a strong run of hits lately, has a great energy next to her. People should race out to the theater and prove there is a demand and need for female directed movies and female led superhero movies. There’s no reason why Wonder Woman can’t make the same hundreds of millions of dollars that a Marvel movie would rack up at the box office. The rest of the DC Extended Universe needs look back and realign with what Patty Jenkins has accomplished here. It’s first DC film since The Dark Knight Trilogy that shows actual dimension. Jenkins took time to build the character into someone we cared about, made her sympathetic yet flawed, and had her lead from the heart. She’s vulnerable in one scene and can kick ass in the next.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
SUICIDE SQUAD (August 5, 2016)
Writer/Director: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara, Cara Delevingne, Scott Eastwood, David Harbour, Ike Barinholtz, Adam Beach
Imagine all of the craziest villains in the DC universe coming together for their own film. Suicide Squad takes the deadliest bad guys and unleashes them back out into the city. What could go wrong? In the wake of Superman’s death, government official Amanda Waller (Davis) puts forth Task Force X which would recruit DC’s finest and release them from the asylums and jails in order to take down any metahuman or non-human entity that could wreak havoc on Midtown City. No, I’m not talking about the Penguin or Catwoman. The Joker (Leto) comes into play when his girlfriend and former doctor Harley Quinn (Robbie) is one of the ones released. One of the many introductory scenes involves their backstory and the crazy antics of their relationship. Will Smith’s Deadshot was a powerful hitman, and like his name suggests, never misses a target. El Diablo (Hernandez) is a tattooed gangster with the ability to produce fire out of thin air. Rounding out the troop of baddies is sewer-dweller Killer Croc (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Captain Boomerang (Courtney), and Slipknot (Beach). Even though Waller is the head honcho of this operation, Rick Flagg (Kinnaman) is the field soldier who keeps them in line. His girlfriend June Moone (Delevingne) suffers from being possessed by the Enchantress.
There are a plethora of characters to try to keep track of, so if you’re a bit confused, I don’t blame you. Unfortunately, the script by David Ayer isn’t going to make it any better. This film continues on with the DC Cinematic Universe and takes place shortly after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The end credit sequence acts as a direct lead into 2017’s Justice League. There’s a lot riding on this film as expectations come high due to the tepid response from Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. DC’s attempt at having a Marvel-style universe has not been working out. Like many introductory comic book movies, it takes a long time with the exposition and character set-up before the eventual story and motivations come into play. Like you may have gleaned, it also suffers from introducing too many characters that we don’t end up caring about and easily could have been cut. I understand the pressure to appease fans by following the original source material, but when has a comic book film accurately followed each panel from start to finish?
It can be a bit messy and inconsistent at times. The exposition section has a herky jerky feel as the audience is pulled in a variety directions each with their own graphics, bios, and theme song to accompany it. The use of those colorful texts and the heavy classic rock/rap soundtrack is used for the first hour but then it disappears. There’s so much music crammed in that hour that it’s jarring to have it turn off and switch to the film’s score by Steven Price. Once this is out of the way and the gang is all re-assembled, they’re off in a war like battle walking around the streets killing zombie-like henchmen from the film’s forgettable villains. I won’t mention who they are here as I don’t want to spoil it. Another inconsistency is its attempt at humor or lack thereof. One of the biggest take aways from the trailer is that it would have this sick and twisted or self-aware approach like Marvel’s Deadpool. There were rumors that reshoots were done to enhance this. While there are some humorous quips along the way, there are just as many one-liners, looks, and stares that are meant to be funny but don’t land.
You may think that I’ve just described a trainwreck, but I do believe David Ayer’s film has some good things going for it. It’s clear that the cast did their research and worked really hard at creating some very unique characters when the script doesn’t quite give it to them. Will Smith easily could have made Deadshot your standard over the top Smith character that we’ve seen countless times before. Instead, he keeps it calm and controlled. The less is more approach is not usually associated with Smith, but I think we’re seeing him turn his career around. Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) is the standout of the film and has many scene-stealing moments. Harley Quinn is a very erratic character, and Robbie keeps her as nutters as possible. Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) is another standout as the no holds barred Amanda Waller. That should come as no surprise to anyone that’s been following her career. The only weak link is Cara Delevingne (Paper Towns) who is slowly making her transition from model to actress. I don’t think she’s strong enough yet to carry off what is being asked of her in this film.
There has been so much hype over Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker. I’ll admit that it’s a daunting task to take on such an iconic role after memorable iterations before from Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson. He does an admirable job of making his Joker different. There’s an odd sexual energy he brings to the Joker, which explains the lure and pull he has over Harley Quinn. The main problem with the Leto’s Joker is that I never felt like I got a complete picture of the character due to his extremely minimal screen time. He’s only in a handful of scenes and completely disappears for a large section of the film.
Director David Ayer is hit or miss with his films. 2012’s End of Watch has been his best picture to date as it traced the daily routine of two cops in the worst parts of Los Angeles. His war film Fury with Brad Pitt was a decent story of brotherhood, but 2014’s Sabotage was a disaster. Even though all of his movies have a different scope, he brings out a high-octane, pedal to the medal approach to it. It’s this intensity that always looms over his movies. He shapes Suicide Squad like a war story with the action sequences taking priority over dialogue and story building. Like many current comic book movies, many of the heavy battles are frantic and shot very close up. Ayer finds a bit more balance than Zach Snyder did with Batman v Superman. He does give his characters and the audience some down time. There are some unexpected twists along the way when you realize the fate of certain characters in connection to the title of the film.
There are glaring issues at hand, and no one will question that. It was an ambitious project and a very different approach to a comic book movie. Ayer still needs to work on focus and figuring out what truly is important. There are some lasting images and concepts that have stuck with me. There is potential here and I wouldn’t mind seeing some of these characters again. For the most part, Ayer’s cast is spot on even if they are not fully used to their potential, sorry Jai Courtney. It’s very evident that everyone involved is having one hell of a good time. That desire kept me interested even when the story and technical aspects were lacking. I don’t know if we’ll see another Suicide Squad movie, but I can see these villains popping up later in the universe.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (March 25, 2016)
Director: Zach Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne, Scoot McNairy, Holly Hunter
It feels like we’ve been seeing trailers and teases for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for at least a year now. Well the time has finally come to see the two legendary DC Comics superheroes face one another for the ultimate showdown. Ben Affleck steps in as the latest actor to don the cape and cowl. His Bruce Wayne arrives in Metropolis as it’s currently under attack from General Zod. It’s the same sequence that ended 2013’s Man of Steel, but we’re now seeing it through the lens of his character. Wayne Enterprises is in Metropolis and many of Bruce’s employees perish or suffer traumatic injuries as a result. One of them is Scoot McNairy’s Wallace Keefe who is left with his legs amputated and now seeking revenge on Superman (Cavill). Bruce is left livid questioning the morality behind Superman’s actions as thousands of lives were taken in the process. Eighteen months pass and Superman continues to be a target for the people of Metropolis who debate the necessity of their superhero. Clark Kent’s girlfriend Lois Lane (Adams) is caught up in her own conspiracy theories as she tries to prove why he is a needed for the city. Bruce starts to investigate the inner secrets over at LexCorp, which is now being run by Alexander Luthor (Eisenberg), the son of Lex Luthor. He has more than one trick up his sleeve and gets his hands on a mineral that could kill Superman once and for all.
That’s the Reader’s Digest version of what goes on in director Zach Snyder’s follow-up to Man of Steel. There is no easing into the universe at hand for him. The first half hour of the movie consists of quick mini-scenes introducing the multitude of characters and conflicts at hand in Gotham and Metropolis. All of the main players from Man of Steel are back including Lois Lane, her Daily Planet boss Perry White (Fishburne) and Ma Kent (Lane). Plus Metropolis is given Holly Hunter playing a congresswoman and Lex Luthor, Jr as the film’s main villain. On the Gotham side, we have Jeremy Irons stepping into the role of Alfred the Butler. This film takes the easy way out by opening the film with the death of the Waynes. Do we really need to show Bruce as a child witnessing the death of his parents every time we get a new version of this character? Thanks to Ben Affleck’s gray temples, the film implies that we’re seeing Bruce/Batman at an older age than we usually see him. Wayne Manor has been burned to ruins and the Joker has left a mark, but we’re not shown how any of that happened. It’s all implied, but instead Snyder wastes time showing the death of his parents when we’ve seen that countless times before.
As you can tell, it’s overstuffed with far too many characters and subplots between the two cities and how they intersect. It needs a tighter focus all around as it’s hard to get invested into so many characters when we are rushed through the multitudes of storylines. There’s no emotional depth, and by the end, the stakes aren’t high enough to care about are two title characters. I don’t know if it’s Snyder to blame as producer and director or if it’s the script by Chris Terrio (Oscar winner for Argo) and David S. Goyer who also worked on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Maybe the editor was forced to cut scenes to keep the run time down. There’s already talk of a longer, uncut R-rated version that will appear on the Blu-Ray/DVD release.
I can’t necessarily fault the actors at hand given the material they are working with in regards to showing depth. Ben Affleck does a fairly commendable job at making the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman his own especially when he’s not given anything new to work with in terms of this character. It’s not easy to follow up the exceptional work done by Christian Bale or Michael Keaton. There are rumors of him having his own stand-alone films in conjunction with this Justice League universe, and I think Affleck will do a great job with the role. He’s playing a multi-millionaire playboy. It’s pretty smart casting when you think about it. One of the only smiles I had during the movie came with the first appearance of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Not her alter-ego Diane Prince, but WW herself. The story is shaped to keep Diana Pierce a mystery until we learn how her alter-ego plays a factor into this universe.
The actor that will cause the most chatter will be Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jr. He approaches the character as completely sadistic and psychotic. Instead of feeling original, it just feels like he’s playing the Joker versus a brand new kind of character. I could be biased, as I’m not the biggest fan of the actor. He seemed like a perfect fit for Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, yet every role of his since then has seemed like a variation of that. It should have been perfect casting as Luthor is another wealthy and greedy individual, but there are no levels with Eisenberg’s performance. He acts like a drugged up whack job from very early on in the film.
The lack of levels is a problem with the overall execution of Batman v Superman. It takes itself way too seriously leaving no room for a cheeky, insider sense of humor. Snyder gets too caught up in the action and the copious cameos he wants to throw in there. The fast-paced, frantic speed is kept up for two and a half hours to the point where there is no clear build in the storytelling and no relief for the audience to care about what’s actually going on. It’s all go, go, go and represents everything I don’t like about recent action films. It relies too heavily on CGI to make the effects work. Now, I get that I’m probably being a bit hypocritical as many of the Marvel films use CGI in their execution. Hello, Incredible Hulk. It all comes down to balance. Snyder thinks the audience wants a whiz-bang blow ‘em brawl, but the action sequences are too fast, too loud, and the cinematography is far too dark with the lighting. The fights are so close up that I had a hard time seeing what was fully going on with any given battle, and there are plenty of them. Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are both plagued by constant nightmares which result in more battles scenes. The brisk pace leads to a complete lack of attention to detail in almost every regard. The costumes are great, but there are very few cinematic pictures at hand. Christopher Nolan and his DP Wally Pfister have many memorable images in the Dark Knight trilogy, yet Snyder can’t reach that same vision.
Oddly enough, I want to see it again now that I know what to expect. I may have a better appreciation with a second viewing. The ending of the film comes with more heart and humanity than we saw throughout the rest of the movie which makes me excited to see what’s in store for DC’s cinematic universe. It might fare better with other directors and less characters. There was so much hype about what fellow superheroes would make cameos in this film that I kept anticipating their arrivals. Don’t worry, we do see them, albeit very briefly. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t an awful movie. There are some admirable qualities to it, but Snyder needs to take a page from the Nolan handbook.
RATING: 2 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
MAN OF STEEL (June 14, 2013)
Director: Zach Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni, Richard Schiff
One of the most highly anticipated movies of 2013 is Man of Steel, the latest take on DC Comic’s Superman. 2006’s Superman Returns sought out to be a return to the franchise. After a chilly reception of the oddly cast film, the franchise was dead in the water again. Fresh off The Dark Knight Trilogy, screenwriter David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan give us their take on the DC Comic superhero.
The planet Krypton is in grave danger. Jor-El (Crowe) fears the take over by General Zod (Shannon) and his followers will lead to its complete destruction. In order to save his newly born son Kal-El, he launches him off in a pod headed toward Earth. Jor-El infuses his son’s body with a genetic code that will in turn preserve the Kryptonian race. Zod witnesses the escape of Kal-El and claims, “I will find him!” vowing to one day get his hand on the genetic code.
Kal-El is rescued and raised by Jonathan (Costner) and Martha (Lane) Kent in Smallville, Kansas. At a young age, he realizes that he is different than the other kids in his class. The Kryptonian genetic codes have given him a super strength and speed that he struggles to understand. He wants to use his abilities to help others, but is advised by his father to keep them harnessed for a later date. If the world finds out how special he is, they will only use it against him. Clark (Cavill) finds it harder to sustain his powers as an adult. He works odd jobs, lives in various places, and uses different names to stick to a mysterious life. He risks his true identity after rescuing workers near an Arctic plant. An archaeological dig has discovered space crafts that have been buried for thousands of years. Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Adams) has been sent in to cover the discovery but turns her fascination toward Clark. The discovery of the spacecrafts marks the return of General Zod who has finally found Clark.
Previous Zach Snyder (Watchmen, 300) films have had similar issues with structure regarding the action versus character development. Man of Steel falls into that trap. The story digs into the origins of the Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman story. You will not find Lex Luthor or Jimmy Olson in this version. One would think that an origins story would enrich the characters we know and love. I feel like the best scenes in the movie involve Clark, Jonathan, and Martha. There is a humanity and warmth to them that make the origins story more credible as Clark learns how to deal with his inner struggles. Unfortunately, the story should have utilized more of these scenes in the beginning and middle sections to further the origins story line instead of treating them like flashbacks. Lois Lane is given a different spin on how she approaches Clark Kent and Superman. Amy Adams portrays her as a tougher, no-nonsense reporter over the ditsy damsel in distress type character. Henry Cavill fills out that Superman suit very well, but stays pretty brooding throughout most of the film. The script does not give him enough to play around with in this portion of the story. I have faith he will only get better with each film as he settles into the different mindsets of Clark Kent versus Superman. The film seems to rely too heavily on cutting to the action sequences and the need for the Superman costume before delving into the heart of these characters. The audience sees the suit pretty early on in the film, and he stays in combat mode the majority of the movie.
I had high hopes knowing that David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan were involved. I am a massive fan of The Dark Knight Trilogy, so I was hoping for that same feel and tone. This is by no means a bad film. It has that first movie in a series syndrome where the filmmakers want to kick the series off into high gear with big action sequences but neglect key elements and flow of making it a standalone film. The ending of the movie is sure to please fans as it sets up the next installment well. You get the sense that the actors will really be able to play around more with their characters. I wish we would have seen more of that in this movie instead of waiting for the next.
RATING: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)