‘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 films from the Marvel and D.C. comic universes. I also didn’t really read the comics as a kid. I did, however, watch the cartoons / live-action movies and T.V. shows of Batman and Superman. I didn’t know much about the Flash or Aquaman going in to this movie. 
As a child, Batman and Superman were my favorite superheroes. As I grew up I started searching for “real-life” heroes and found actual people to root for, like a non-profit founder who gives back to his community in a big way; or my father, who was named Intel’s Hero of the Year in 2015.
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.


ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMA™ IN CHANDLER, ARIZ. — The film opens in Gotham City. Batman is first introduced to a henchman of the main villain.

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 get moving faster than a speeding bullet.

First, a fair warning, the Man of Steel’s resurrection story is a bit drawn out, I suppose for dramatic effect.

The world mourns, while those who aim to save it from another impending doom despair as they are lacking a key piece of the puzzle (Superman).

Who are the “bad guys” you ask? Simple, his name is Steppenwolf, and he’s an alien warlord. And yes, I’m sure you get the musical homage, if you’re of a certain age or a fan of the music group that bears the same name.

Steppenwolf is in search of something called “Mother Boxes;” which, when united, will give him and his alien army ultimate power to destroy Earth. Our Earth was the only world he had been unable to conquer before.

Now that’s a brief synopsis of the movie (without giving too much away).

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.

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.’

Before seeing this flick, I read some other reviews and noted that the Flash struck some reviews as comic relief for what would have otherwise been a dramatic superhero film. The Flash’s comedic timing and youthful naïveté brought something refreshing to the story arc.

I found the reluctance from Aquaman to join the Justice League rather amusing, since it was Batman who used to prefer working alone.

Alas, even superheroes have to grow up and learn this world functions better in leagues.

One aspect I found particularly surprising (given this was meant for those age 13 + / MPAA Rating: PG-13) was all the up-angle “butt-shots” the camera got of Gal Gadot or Wonder Woman. It is possible the director was going for the shameless sex-appeal.

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

I suppose the director (and writers – to some extent) worked to make this film accessible for even the most superhero illiterate of audiences.

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. ***

– 30 –
# # #

‘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.


# # #

– 30 –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s