‘Justice League’ Film Review

A “Beautiful Mess of a Fraken-movie” – WIRED.com

By Matt Lewis
Publisher & Editor

Editor’s note: I am a casual fan of the Marvel and D.C. comic universe films. I also didn’t really read the comics as a kid. I did, however, watch the cartoons and live-action movies and T.V. shows of Batman and Superman. I did not know about the Flash or Aquaman. 
Also: Yes, I acknowledge that most people get their movie reviews from friends or Rotten Tomatoes these days; so, you may ask why you should read this one – the short answer: my unique perspective.

As a child, Batman and Superman were my favorite superheroes. As I became an adult and started searching for “real-life” heroes I found actual people to root for, like a President & CEO of a local non-profit that gives back to his community in a big way; and my father, who was named Intel’s Hero of the Year in 2015.


The film opens in Gotham City. Batman is first introduced to a henchman of the main villain for this particular chapter of the superhero team saga.

Yes, Superman is still actually dead for much of the rise of the action in this storyline. After his demise in ‘Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ the world is still reeling from losing an iconic (and controversial) alien hero.

When Clark Kent (a.k.a. Superman) is brought back from the dead, we realize not all the League’s problems are solved – at least not yet.

Bruce Wayne, billionaire, and secret superhero (a.k.a. Batman), hopes to get the band of heroes back together. He first starts by contacting Wonder Woman (a.k.a. Diana Prince). He then tracks down others with superpowers including the Flash (a.k.a. Barry Allen), the Cyborg (a.k.a. Victor Stone) and Aquaman (a.k.a. Arthur Curry).

Some, like Allen, are eager to join the Justice League to uphold truth and justice – oh and save the world from alien invaders. Others like Cyborg are still coming to terms with their powers.

While others still, like Aquaman do just fine alone – remind you of anyone? (Bruce Wayne/Batman, perhaps).

Once the team is assembled and the mission is clear, the climax and resolution of the film pick up like a locomotive. But first, the story of the Man of Steel is drawn out a bit for dramatic effect. The world mourns, while those who aim to save it from another impending doom despair because they are lacking a key piece of the puzzle to defeat these destroyers of worlds.

Who are the “bad guys” you ask? Simple, he is Steppenwolf, an alien warlord. He’s in search of something called “Mother Boxes,” which, when united, will give him and his alien army the power to once and for all destroy Earth, the only world he had been unable to conquer previously.

Now that is the set-up of what the movie is about for all you non-comic book/Superhero movie nerds out there who are still interested in seeing this movie.

As for my review: Well I thought it was a good addition to the D.C. Universe. I was skeptical originally when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in ‘Batman vs. Superman’ and he didn’t do much to win me over in that film.

Before seeing this flick, I read some other reviews and noted that the Flash struck some reviews as a hit. I thought his comedic timing and youthful naivete brought something refreshing to what would have otherwise been a dark and serious drama.

I found the reluctance from Aquaman to join the Justice League rather amusing since Batman himself used to prefer working alone. Alas, even superheroes have to grow up and learn that this world functions better when we work as a team.

One aspect I found particularly amusing was all the up-angle “butt-shots” the camera got of Gal Gadot‘s Wonder Woman, I guess they were going for the shameless sex-appeal.

Another character I was hesitant about was the new actor playing Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred (who also serves as Batman’s superhero support). Jeremy Irons, however, did a fine job taking over the mantle from the iconic Michael Caine, who reprised the role in many of the Batman movies prior to ‘Batman vs. Superman.’

The action sequences were great; and while the storyline struggled a bit and bounced around from character to character, it eventually found it’s footing.

I suppose the director and writers were working to make this film accessible to even those who had not seen another D.C. Universe superhero movie.

For the casual fan, such as myself, it was nice to get a quick synopsis of the origin stories of some of the less well-known heroes.


*** The URL web addresses (blue underlined text) connects to Internet Movie Database – IMDB’s information about the movie. ***

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‘Only the Brave’ Film Review

Only brave souls dare see this movie

By Matt Lewis
Publisher & Editor

Editor’s note: This film was based on the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, 19 of whom perished in the Yarnell Hill fire, southwest of Prescott, Ariz. The fire made national news as the largest loss of life for firefighters since Sept. 11, 2001.
Also: Yes, I acknowledge that most people get their movie reviews from friends or Rotten Tomatoes these days; so, you may ask why you should read this one – the short answer: my unique perspective.

As a child, I used to want to be a fireman when I grew up. I even went to fire camp at the Phoenix Fire Museum one summer. I also dated a young lady whose father was a high-ranking member of a major metropolitan fire department. Plus, being a native Arizonan, who has been to Prescott (and the surrounding areas), I have a personal connection to my state’s infamous fire. And finally, as a freelance journalist, I followed news of the Yarnell Hill fire and Granite Mountain Hotshots saga.


REVIEW – Either I never fully understood how beautiful the state of Arizona is, or I forgot. The movie ‘Only the Brave’* helped me see the grand mountain vistas northern Arizonans see daily.

As a native Arizonan, I battle heat several months out of the year; but it is nothing compared with the awe-inspiring danger the Hotshot firefighters face when they take on some of the country’s largest blazes.

The film has a great rhythm, and starts by setting the scene with a grizzly bear engulfed in flames; which serves as a motif through out and foreshadows a forgone conclusion.

As the reviewer for the Arizona Republic/azcentral Billy Goodykoontz put it in his take on the movie – what makes the movie work so well is the director and screenwriters did not produce another hero-flick, based on a true story; but depicted these men as they were: cowboys and renegades, heroes with very human flaws.

I could connect with these men in a surprising way, given the only fire I have ever fought was when I burnt something in the oven.

After seeing the movie, one woman exclaimed she was going to tell others she had red eyes and runny mascara after leaving the theater; adding: “What a great movie.” My rating is similar.

Although this is a fictional account, I got a bit misty-eyed. The characters felt real. The tragedy was refreshed and painful again, despite a laock of any personal connection with those involved.

What struck me about the movie was the rustic beauty of a smaller town I once fell in love with on a visit. The location scouts did a wonderful job, even prominently displaying a staple of Prescott’s famed Whiskey Row, Matt’s Saloon.

I was also in awe of the fearsome, yet majestic scenes of swirling embers and raging flames. And while the film did not include narration, the notion of magical realism ** seemed to ring as an apt description for the potrayal of this historical event. The ability of the cast and crew to retell this story was impressive. Ample research and interviews were undoubtedly conducted to ensure a more authentic final product.

* The URL web address (blue underlined text) connects to Internet Movie Database – IMDB’s information about the movie.

** The literary concept of magical realism is: “characterized by the matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastic or mythical elements into seemingly realistic fiction,” according to the online encyclopedia Britannica.


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