Minari – Review

Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 56 minutes, Director – Lee Isaac Chung

A family move from a California city to a caravan in Arkansas, with father Jacob (Steven Yeun) leading work on a farm for Korean vegetables.

Earlier this year, as with most years, the Golden Globes came under fire when it came to their nominations. One of the reasons for this was because of its exclusion of Minari in a Best Motion Picture category – and being snubbed in any other than Foreign Language Film, which it won – due to it largely being in Korean, the same went for Parasite last year in the top category. Despite this the film has picked up multiple nods at other awards ceremonies, including Best Picture amongst five other nominations at the Oscars, with what is a very American story. One that some might describe as a sort of bootstraps tale.

Inspired by writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s childhood in Arkansas the film feels like a fond memory, warm and brightly lit throughout. The Yi family move from a California city to a plot of land in the middle of a quiet town in Arkansas, Dad Jacob (Steven Yeun) hopes to independently set up a farm for Korean vegetables. While his kids are simply taken along, son David (Alan Kim – for many, a scene stealing delight) taking it more in his stride than his sister Anne (Noel Cho), his wife Monica (Yeri Han) is understandably more hesitant in the change of surroundings, especially when tornados and harsh weather conditions add to the isolation that the family feel by finding themselves living in a caravan in the middle of a small field. The family bond is brought to life by fine performances and Chung’s direction which fills each frame of the film with a warm air of reflection; heart, humour and soul all linking back to the family unit at the centre of the piece.

You don’t properly realise the connection that you’ve formed with the characters until the presence of Grandma (Yuh-Jung Youn) is brought into the equation. The relationship between grandparent and grandkids might initially be somewhat uneven, however gradually bonds grow and connections are formed. Youn in many ways becomes the heart and soul of many of the film’s elements – while still remaining a supporting player. Her performance is the standout in a film filled with great performances. Capturing swirling joy, emotion and deterioration she pinpoints perfection and gives what may already be the best performance of the year. She acts as both a support for the family and cause for worry as situations don’t seem to be as ideal as perhaps they may have once looked, at least for Jacob as he pours his passion into his farm with the help of neighbour Paul (Will Patton).

Minari refers to a Korean vegetable that can be used in a number of different dishes, it acts as the title and a background element to a film that while initially seeming like a light film about family introduces subtle elements along the way to pack in much more. Emotion is plentiful leading to uplift and heartbreak in equal measure and helps craft a film with a great deal of universality, beyond that of a traditional American tale. One that many can find something within and connect with. The simplistic nature of the piece, the steady observational nature of the way the camera is held adding further to this and allowing for the piece to unfold creates an even softer and gentler nature that welcomes you in to what appears as a piece of reflection and has the impact of a well-tuned light family drama that manages to pack in nuanced observations, humour and emotion. All calmly stirred to the point where you don’t properly realise just how much a part of this truly wonderful film you’ve become.

A simplistic and traditional American film that’s more effective for it, making for a strong, bright narrative about an excellently performed family filled with heart, warmth and the stylings of a fond memory.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Godzilla Vs. Kong – Review

Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 53 minutes, Director – Adam Wingard

While trying to get King Kong to Hollow Earth a group of scientists and researchers encounter Godzilla, reawakening an ancient rivalry between the two titans.

If there’s one place you perhaps wouldn’t expect a battle of the titans to begin it’s possibly with King Kong casually going about his morning routine to gentle music. It’s an amusing enough concept, and entirely different to the delight felt as he lands the first almighty punch of his handful of fights with Godzilla. During this moment time seems to slow down, a wide smile gradually forms, as he lamps the iconic lizard in the middle of the ocean. Not much context is given to why the pair instantly go on the attack, apart from mention of an “ancient rivalry”, yet as the fights begin that doesn’t really seem to matter as the scale of the action takes hold. Action which was undeniably made for a titan sized screen.

The reason for the two titans meeting in the first place is something of a chance encounter. Kong is taken away from a replication of his former home Skull Island, by the scientists and researchers who are keeping him there, when the fear of having more than one titan on Earth grows, especially after a number of seemingly random attacks from Godzilla – who has once again had a change of heart and is causing random destruction again. Thus Kong is being taken to Hollow Earth, where it is believed he came from. What little exposition there is for the rivalry seems to have all gone into the various human characters we meet throughout the film.

For the most part we see the narrative through the eyes of Rebecca Hall’s Ilene Andrews, who, alongside Alexander Skarsgård’s Nathan Lind, leads the project to get Kong, and humanity, to safety. However, we also find ourselves following Millie Bobby Brown and Julian Dennison as two teenagers who meet conspiracy theorist and podcast host Brian Tyree Henry (always a welcome presence), trying to infiltrate the Apex Corporation, who it is believed are provoking monster-related attacks. There are various other minor characters that we see play a part in the narrative, or have an effect on those that are more prominent in the piece. Yet, with so many players it almost feels at some points as if Godzilla is only there as a minor figure. At least Kong kind of gets something to do as we explore his world in Hollow Earth, even if through someone else’s eyes, brought to life through effective and great CGI – which when it comes to the fight scenes really makes an impact.

Because of the heavy exposition and various human angles we do often spend little time with the titular monsters – a trend in the last month appears to be that of title characters acting as supports in what is otherwise believed to be their own film. In fact, it takes 40 minutes for them to finally meet, before waiting a long time to finally re-encounter each other. The action may be worth it, it’s definitely exciting to watch a giant gorilla and lizard smash each others heads into skyscrapers – one thing’s for sure the film doesn’t take itself too seriously when it comes to such fight scenes, it knows that the audience are there for not entirely dumb monster clobber – it just takes a while to get to all of this. The human aspects certainly show the film’s run-time, alongside giving it a busy feel. However, the action is certainly on a big enough, destructive scale to be worthwhile – and would likely have an even large impact on a bigger screen.

The destructive fights are exactly what you would hope for, in-between the large amount of, not always developed, expositional human characters that take up most of Godzilla Vs. Kong’s run-time.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Dissident – Review

Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 57 minutes, Director – Bryan Fogel

Documentary looking into the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018.

If you think that Tom Cruise’s increasingly deadly stunts in the Mission: Impossible franchise are tense, or the risk of making a noise in A Quiet Place, try tweeting against the Saudi government. It’s this line that Bryan Fogel’s The Dissident – his follow-up to the Oscar winning Icarus – takes as it delves into the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018. This is far from a direct line, it’s a messy one filled with twists, turns, diversions and seemingly never an end, yet Fogel manages to craft a finely told narrative with the various different angles that he has. Through interviews with people involved with the Turkish government, fellow journalists and more a shocking timeline of characters and events is gradually formed creating a gripping course that has you glued to the screen. Far from a standard documentary, Fogel’s latest plays out as more of a thriller than anything else.

Acting not just a s a series of interviews or looking into a topic The Dissident acts as a piece of investigative journalism. Thorough and focused it often feels like a highly cinematic piece from the This American Life team. It’s not long until you get so invested in the spiralling story that’s taking place that you find yourself digging your fingers into the seat in tension. Even the naturally jumpy and grainy quality of CCTV footage adds tension, and a slight fear factor. By the time a simple transcript of events comes up the feeling that runs through the viewer is that of pure terror. It’s testament to the craft of Fogel’s film and the expert pacing that runs throughout it, both as a documentary and a general feature this is a truly sensational piece of filmmaking.

Long after the credits roll shockwaves of detail continue to float around the mind with a lasting effect, this is undeniably a film that will stay with you for a while as it takes time to fully settle in. The themes of “Learn more. Take action. Make a difference” ring throughout as the film delves into Khashoggi’s journalism for various sources, including The Washington Post and his interactions on Twitter with other critics of the Saudi government, some of whom are interviewed in the film and truly reveal a dark world, more than we already knew the social media platform to be. Some aspects of which are virtually recreated – faces gradually turning to the camera putting you further into a state of fear as they look into you, even more impactful due to the role they play in the central focus of the film.

Everything is kept tight and focused as the film explores Kahshoggi’s career and work as a journalist. His fight for freedom of speech and the opportunity to criticise those in power. This film about his assassination is as passionate as his fight for just this cause, turning this into the intense and pacey drama that is laid out over the almost two hour run-time. Such feelings are heightened by Adam Peters brilliant, stirring score that swirls in the background of many scenes, montages and recreations, capturing the exact feeling that the film is trying to get across and simply increasing the effect that it has on the viewer. Overall, everything creates a gripping narrative, filled with fear and tension as the highly cinematic investigation goes deeper and deeper into the subject matter, with power, shock and fine craft and precision.

Forming an expertly told narrative The Dissident is a sensational investigative documentary, equally tense and shocking it’ll certainly leave shockwaves long after its highly cinematic detail is finished.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bad Trip – Review

Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 25 minutes, Director – Kitao Sakurai

Best friends Chris (Eric Andre) and Bud (Lil Rel Howery) travel from Florida To New York so Chris can meet-up with his high school crush (Michaela Conlin).

Hidden camera prank films often rely on the reactions of unsuspecting participants for humour. The natural responses as members of the public try to hold back laughter, or act out in anger, or sometimes just stand by and watch in bemused shock and amazement, are emphasised in close-ups so we understand what we’re supposed to be laughing at. Yet, in Bad Trip the humour almost always comes from the characters at the centre of the various pranks. Their actions and persistence in their various goals helps form the often laugh-out-loud nature of the pranks, simply showing the improvisational skills of the central trio of actors as they interact with unknowing people. Through this a plot is formed, linked by the various events of the film, one that is focused on throughout and yet never gets too heavy or in the way of the stunts at that make up this loose, yet un-dropped, storyline.

Best friends Chris (Eric Andre) and Bud (Lil Rel Howery) go on a road trip from Florida to New York City in the hope of meeting up with Chris’ high school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin). However, their only mode of transport is the intensely decorated, bright pink car of Bud’s imprisoned sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish) – emblazoned with the words “Bad B!tch on the back window. Unfortunately for them, freshly escaped Trina is hot on their tail and she’s out for deadly revenge, Haddish’s exasperated rage at the lack of help from any member of the public is delightfully comic. Her scenes and presence break up the bursts of hilarity ranging from the dark to the utterly gross.

For those aware of Andre’s Adult Swim fake talk show, The Eric Andre Show, Bad Trip very much has elements – perhaps the more disgusting, bodily moments – that feel like they could go alongside his awkward celeb interviews, with less of the more alternative stylings of the show. Throw in dream sequences, some bad trips (the title acts like 2017’s Girls Trip) and a musical number – Andre acting as the clumsily unprepared lead of a mall flash mob – and there’s plenty of variety when it comes to the chaotic scenes of the film, telling the story with each moment, where the extras and supporting cast are simply unaware that they are being filmed. It’s a lesser-seen element when it comes to this sort of film and it works well in regards to the places that Bad Trip goes – especially with a trio of wildly funny performances at the centre of it.

Fully pushing the limits of a number of the ideas and scenarios -resulting in audible gasps of “Oh no” from the viewer as they can’t look away from the screen at the mania that unfolds, although some may be peeking through their fingers, particularly during one scene containing an interaction with a ‘gorilla’ at a zoo. It’s clear from the surprise of Andre going completely starkers in the first three minutes that there’s a lot to come over the course of the film. And at 85 minutes it breezes through its hysterical road trip, never feeling in your face or as if it’s showing off how funny it is by zooming in on the reactions of strangers (who don’t happen to identify the cast) who just happen to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time. It effectively carries along its narrative, told through the links between each setting and prank, and does it with truly funny results.

By focusing on plot through the pranks and making the three great central performances the core source of humour Bad Trip feels different to a number of other hidden camera films, and shows, and makes for a laugh-out-loud hilarious, highly gross-out, time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Adam Leader ‘Hosts’ Interview

Writer-director Adam Leader joins me to discuss his feature debut horror, Hosts – available to watch online now on various platforms.

Adam can be found through his Twitter account. If you want to watch the film you can see the places it’s available by following this link.

If anyone’s interested in hearing Adam’s song request you can listen to it by clicking the below link:
Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes

Stray – Review

Cert – 18, Run-time – 1 hour 12 minutes, Director – Elizabeth Lo

Looking at the world from a dog’s-eye-view as Zeytin roams the streets of Istanbul, where stray dogs are allowed to live freely.

There’s an innocent, joyous grin that spreads widely across the face as dogs pounce, play, sniff and go freely about their days in Stray. It’s the type of content that makes up short, amusing videos on social media that you sometimes can’t help but watch because of the dog-related content. Yet, there’s much more than just these base moments of delight in Elizabeth Lo’s film. As she follows proud and playful dog Zeytin the camera is kept at the height of a dog’s head, as the world is naturally explored and people and animals are seen going about their days. Turkey is one of the few countries in the world where stray dogs are allowed to roam freely without risk of being taken in by kennels or authorities, or being euthanised. It’s almost made to seem as if humans and dogs, mostly, peacefully co-exist on an equal level with the occasional interaction.

While there are, of course, the humans that want to give Zeytin and co – including Nazar and Kartal – fuss there are also those that almost mentally depend on them. We spend time with a group of Syrian refugees who find mental calming and relief in the company of the canines. If they had the funds – and, as told by one person, didn’t sniff glue from plastic bags – they would likely try to take them in as their own. They’re a source of comfort and distraction. They share qualities of residing in Istanbul, and having their own lives apart from the busy city streets. This relationship, one of a handful explored over the short course of the film, goes to some shocking and surprising places as Lo explores just how far some people will go for this bond.

Throughout philosophical quotes appear across the screen looking into the connection of humans and their apparent best friends. How we’re apparently not so unalike, and perhaps need each other; or at least we need them. All forms of dogs are integrated into Turkish society, going about their days and getting on with their various business (whatever your mind came up with, it’s very likely correct – yes, even in the middle of a crowded street). They walk amongst humans and appear to behave like them, and yet we’re reminded throughout; thanks to the interactions that they have with each other and other species, that these are dogs – the occasional moments of butt-sniffing certainly remind us of this.

Stray tells its story simply and effectively, constructed so as to gradually travel across its course with the viewer alongside Lo and her canine subjects. Within this it manages to pack in quite a lot of detail, never forced so as to disconnect the audience. We see the world from a dog’s perspective, marvel at their play and interactions with humanity, yet find ourselves further engaged and interested by the connections that humans form with them. For the most part this is a fairly innocent film, and that helps with a number of the themes and ideas that are brought up and naturally occur over the course of the run-time. And even those more serious points – this film does after all have an 18 rating from the BBFC for, as their description says, “drug misuse” – are dealt with well and yet in a manner that doesn’t distract from the overall style and feeling of the film. Definitely one for dog-lovers, there’s plenty there for others as the film gently travels along its course of looking at centuries old bonds between dogs and humans.

Playfully filled with plenty of delightful “aww” moments Stray isn’t without its seriousness, in an interesting and effective layer of human-canine relationships.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tom And Jerry: The Movie

Cert – PG, Run-time – 1 hour 41 minutes, Director – Tim Story

After lying her way into a job at a high-end New York hotel, Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds herself employing cat Tom to deal with mouse Jerry, who has made a home in the hotel walls, while trying not to disturb an upcoming influencer wedding.

Judas And The Black Messiah’s acting Oscar nods raised a number of questions when recently announced? How can the title characters both be played by supporting actors – at least one is surely the lead, especially when the two are highly prominent within the story and almost always at least one is on screen? Now, in Warner Bros latest, the title characters are certainly support – although in this case it’s highly unlikely the film will be receiving any major awards nominations.

Instead we focus on Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young woman who has, to her own surprise, blagged her way into a job at a high-end New York City hotel. Everything is precise, clean and expertly maintained in hundreds of rooms and suites across the 21 floor layout. It’s exactly the way that smiling general manager Henry (Rob Delaney) and suspicious events manager Terence (Michael Peña) wish to keep it. Especially in the run-up to a highly publicised influencer wedding (between Colin Jost’s Ben and Pallavi Shada’s Preeta) taking place in just a matter of days. This is, of course, the worst time to have a mouse problem. Cue Jerry making his home in the hotel walls. With Kayla tasked with removing the animated rodent she hires other half of the classic double act Tom to sort things out.

The pair’s slapstick actions are left aside for most of the run-time, only thrown to every now and then, as we primarily follow Kayla trying to keep her job for a week, despite being severely unqualified for the position. When they do get their time to shine there seems little impact, it almost feels as if the creators aren’t sure as to what they should be doing with the iconic enemies. “This not talking thing is really getting old” shouts one character in what feels like a channelling of the thoughts and feelings of the creatives in regards to the titular duo – who remain mute, aside from the odd grunt, scream and giggle, throughout, unlike the generally weak-middling received 1992 film. In fact, the pair don’t overly get a proper moment until just over half an hour in, some mild exposition and brief early glimpses of chaos – Tom aspires to tour with John Legend while Jerry simply wants to find a good home – but nothing major. Even once the main course for the duo’s antagonism is established we get odd moments such as flossing (which only just felt relevant when Wreck-It-Ralph did it back in 2018) and highly autotuned piano ballads – alongside an oddly hip-hop, rap heavy soundtrack.

While there’s a fairly amusing skateboard chase it comes very late in the day and simply makes you wonder why the rest of the film couldn’t have been like this. At least we finally see Tom and Jerry doing something beneficial, even if by this point the plot has become a series of cliché chunks. The majority of the film simply seems tired, uncertain (much like some of the cast, Moretz tries to give the weak material her best), and somehow out of date. This iteration of Tom And Jerry, causing occasional minor damage to locations that are apparently within the Big Apple, feels as if it belongs more to the period of live-action CG hybrids such as Yogi Bear and Alvin And The Chipmunks, which even in the late-2000’s – early 2010’s felt somewhat tired and out of date.

Tom And Jerry’s major problem is that it feels unsure as to what to do with its title characters, pushing them aside to make way for a tired plot. By replacing hammers for hotels the film lacks humour and indeed chaos.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

LFF 2020: Ammonite – Review

Release Date – 26th March 2020, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 57 minutes, Director – Francis Lee

A struggling palaeontologist (Kate Winslet) forms a relationship with a city wife (Saoirse Ronan) who she finds herself looking after on the Lyme Regis coast after tragedy strikes her.

Despite the sound of the crashing tide, the movement of the scattered rocks and pebbles that make up the shore, the occasional seagull and other sounds of the Lyme Regis coast of the 1840’s such noise fades into the background as the loudest, and calmest, element on screen takes centre stage. It’s the relationship between Kate Winslet’s struggling Mary Anning (a real-life palaeontologist) and Saoirse Ronan’s married gentlewoman Charlotte Murchison that takes prime placement in writer-director Francis Lee’s follow-up to his acclaimed feature debut God’s Own Country.

Lee takes the real-life friendship of the two figures and turns it into a tale of personal awakening and development. Initially Mary seems a somewhat disgruntled figure, rushing to ensure that she gets by – supporting both herself and her mother (Gemma Jones) – and never getting the credit for her geological findings; a man’s name always being placed below her discoveries in prime museum places. Meanwhile Charlotte is quiet, perhaps scared, after suffering a miscarriage. She herself is used to city life, the rougher landscapes of coastal Dorset pebble beaches and getting her hands dirty is a foreign world. Yet, she finds herself entrusted in the care of Anning with her husband (James McArdle) believing that this will act as a form of calming therapy for her.

The technical design of the piece forms an authentic world. While grim and grey there’s plenty of candlelight throughout. Such technical elements make for something that’s visually engaging if the spark of the relationship isn’t always there. While the pair of central performances are fantastic – Winslet in particular – the romantic aspect doesn’t always appear to feel as natural as other elements of the film. While for the most part it’s a tenderly dealt with course, told from eyes that appear to simply watch and allow for the events to unfold, there are moments where the embraces of the two don’t quite have a completely romantic feel.

Yet, it’s testament to Lee’s efforts, and of course those of Ronan and Winslet, that the film still holds up and the interest of the viewer is held. The narrative looks at how the Anning and Murchison grow in confidence and emotional expression around each other. A smile returns to the face of Winslet’s otherwise stone-faced focus, trudging through her life of seriousness, as Ronan’s character begins to discover and get involved with her new surroundings, colour coming back to her face after spending many pale-faced days in a small, dark bedroom. It extends some warmth amidst the environment in which they find themselves largely residing in throughout the film. Anning in particular finds herself encouraged to get her name credited on her discoveries, alongside earning proper pay for them, sometimes a late blooming element. But, such points can sometimes have the ability, much like the noise of the area, to fade into the background thanks to the course of the film and the top performances from Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

Winslet and Ronan are fantastic in Ammonite, a drama that focuses more on the growth of it’s characters rather than the romance that causes it. The spark might not always be there, but the look of the piece and the performances within it more than help carry things along during such moments.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

‘The Man At The Bottom Of The Garden’ Interview

Writer-director Paul Blinkhorn, producer Karen Newman and casting director Ben Cogan all join me to discuss their lockdown comedy short film The Man At The Bottom Of The Garden – available to watch online now.

The full short is available to watch now on YouTube.

Links to the Twitter account of each guest, and the requested songs, can be found below:
Paul BlinkhornWhen I’m Sixty Four – The Beatles
Ben CoganThe Ballad Of John And Yoko – The Beatles
Karen NewmanHeroes – David Bowie

Zack Snyder’s Justice League – Review

Cert – 15, Run-time – 4 hours 1 minute, Director – Zack Snyder

Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) assembles a team of heroes to stop alien Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) from combining three motherboxes hidden across Earth that will cause humanity to be put into dark enslavement.

It’s been a long road to Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Family tragedy prevented the director from completing 2017’s Justice League – this cut is dedicated to his late daughter Autumn – and led us to receiving Joss Whedon’s re-written and re-shot cut, and a number of allegations of misconduct on set, including on previous projects. Now, after much deliberation as to the existence of this particular film, demands to see the original vision and cries of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut we finally see a release of a director’s cut unlike any other. It’s a grand achievement, and one that will certainly please the fans who have campaigned so hardly on platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, petition sites, and of course many other places, to see this film – free from any of Whedon’s content.

At two hours long the original cut of Justice League felt as if it could be at least half an hour shorter in it’s dark, jumbled state. Yet, somehow Zack Snyder’s take – with a screenplay by Chris Terrio – almost justifies a four hour run-time, made up of six chapters and an epilogue. The look may still be dark, grey and dim, although this becomes something you gradually get used to over the course of the film, and very CGI heavy, but there’s plenty more story. A story that isn’t as gritty, and that of which there is isn’t there simply for the sake of being dark and brooding.

Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is attempting to assemble a team of heroes who can battle against the force of the seemingly unstoppable Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) – a horned alien with spiked, metallic armour covering all but his lizard-like face, which Vic Reeves would have a field day describing on the panel of Shooting Stars. Steppenwolf arrives on earth to find and synchronise three motherboxes that when combines will plunge the Earth into dark enslavement to his own master Darkseid (Ray Porter). Steppenwolf very much seems to be the assistant to the barely seen Darkseid, while seemingly the core villain of the piece he doesn’t cause much impact due to constantly being overshadowed by his goal and large amounts of backstory about his master.

One thing that the Snyder Cut is heavy with is backstory and individual character insights. The first two hours is spent jumping from place to place, landscape to landscape. Focusing largely on already established characters such as Batman, Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) – whose returning electric cello theme is one of the highlights of the film. It takes a while to actually get a scene with Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, AKA The Flash in action, and 76 minutes for Ray Fisher’s Victor Stone/ Cyborg to get a proper scene with more than one line of dialogue.

Luckily, the pair become bigger players later on (even if The Flash possibly gets the least development out of everyone) and feel less pushed aside once actually brought into the team. With so much to handle during this first half of the film the content proves to be some of the more engaging beats of the piece. The various battles with Steppenwolf simply don’t hold quite work or have that much emotional connection in, yet the more detailed story and characters, are enough to be engaged in, luckily these form the core of the film with most of the fights not lasting very long before moving on to something new.

Once the team is assembled we see them searching for the motherboxes themselves, led by Bruce Wayne: war strategist, and trying their best to save the world. There’s less jumping around from place to place and more focus on the task at hand, meaning less backstory too. The flow picks up and there are less changes in scene to scene pacing, apart from once again Superman (Henry Cavill) popping off for twenty minutes to talk to Lois Lane (Amy Adams). It’s also during such moments that we again focus on the Justice League themselves, the main drive and push of the film. Their search and mission is seemingly more integral than the force at hand, Steppenwolf certainly isn’t the strongest villain, and, again, feels more like an assistant for a darker, less present, force. He provides the task at hand, and some good moments for other characters, but never exactly has his moment to properly shine (apart from perhaps early on during an extended arrival sequence, proving his strength, in a battle with the Amazonians).

It takes almost until the three hour mark for someone to say “we actually, finally, have a plan” and while that does feel to be slightly the case with the film as a whole it’s certainly not poorly constructed. Character backstories and worldbuilding add to the film and make for a much more engaging story than what we had before, and even better formed characters. The villain may not be the most well-formed element, but neither is he at the forefront of the piece, that spot belongs to the Justice League; Zack Snyder’s Justice League. At the end of the day this is a film for the fans who wanted it, the fans who allowed for a director to actually succeed in having their vision be seen. Some may see this as much their film as it is the director’s, the writer’s and everyone who worked on it, and that’s a perfectly justified viewpoint. This is a film for them, and it’s likely to be an understandable hit with them. When watching the film it’s easy to see how and why.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League may have some slight inconsistencies in pacing and initial jumping between characters, yet, there’s still a better, more detailed and entertaining story and set of characters at hand. Putting such points, and a background villain, aside for an enjoyable four hour achievement; that will, most importantly, please, delight and enthral the people who lead to its release.

Rating: 3 out of 5.