Star Wars-Rogue One: Jyn Erso is NOT Rey’s Mother?

Hey Everyone!

Welcome to a special edition of I LOVE STAR WARS! One of the greatest and most enduring cinematic sagas to ever grace the silver screen, George Lucas’ space fantasy has informed the last three generations of America and its influence is present everywhere. This is especially true with the arrival of a new cast of heroes in the recent film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The main character, a scavenger girl named Rey, has been a subject of much interest in both geek and non-geek circles due in large part to her mysterious parentage. While a number of candidates have been put forward, Luke Skywalker chief among them, a new contender has come forward in the form of Jyn Erso, a young woman played by actress Felicity Jones (as seen below on the left), who is the main character of the new Star Wars film, Rogue One coming out this December. A lot has been made of the possibility of Jyn Erso being Rey’s mother and having a larger significance to the Star Wars galaxy as a whole. However, some people don’t seem to like this idea and one blogger at provided a list of reasons that Jyn is NOT Rey’s mother.

flickmuncher Jyn Rey's mother cover photo

If you’d like to read the full reasons in the list; click the link here.

I personally am a major advocate of this theory so I would like to offer my two cents as to why these 11 reasons aren’t necessarily valid and why the theory makes sense. This is my personal take on why Jyn Erso is Rey’s mother:

  1. Their Ages. While Felicity Jones is indeed 32 years old, she has played multiple roles where her character is much younger, ranging from teens to early and late twenties. Given that fact and also that Disney seems to like keeping their heroes in the tweens demographic it’s not impossible that Jyn could have had Rey while in her thirties, a common thing nowadays. The entire argument is predicated on the assumption that an actress always plays her age and, as we all know, assumptions just make an ass out of you and me.
  2. The Timeline. Just because Jyn is not present in the original trilogy doesn’t mean she wasn’t involved in the rebellion through that time. Furthermore, it was made clear in Canon material (e.g. the novelization of The Force Awakens) that Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order is borderline obsessed with Darth Vader’s lineage, the most powerful force-sensitives in the galaxy, which is why he corrupted Ben Solo. If Rey was in fact Luke’s child, and a good deal of evidence (circumstantial as it is) points in that direction, it’s possible that Snoke was after Rey even before he corrupted Ben into Kylo Ren, and that Jyn had to take extreme measures to protect her.
  3. We don’t know if Jyn survives Rogue One. This is the only point that I don’t have a direct answer for because…we don’t know if she survives and we won’t until Rogue One comes out in December. That being said this is still Lucasfilm under the Disney banner. I’ve never known Disney to go for downer endings in any of their movies, or to kill off their main characters regularly. This isn’t Game of Thrones here, so I honestly don’t expect Jyn to die by the time the credits roll. While I do think most of her team will be wiped out (probably by Darth Vader himself)I believe she’ll survive to the end credits.
  4. Jyn is not force-sensitive like Rey. This is conjecture and based on the logic that being a Jedi and being force-sensitive are the same thing when…they’re really not. It’s like this: all Jedi are force-sensitive (that’s kind of a necessary trait for that line of work, like how people who can see make better snipers), but not all force-sensitives are Jedi. Jedi are a philosophical, quasi-religious order, sort of like Shaolin Monks. They aren’t born as Jedi. They have to be trained to become that. Furthermore, Rey’s amazing force-sensitivity could just as easily be answered by her being both Jyn and Luke’s daughter where her ability comes from her Skywalker lineage.
  5. No Skywalker Connection. This one’s pretty silly by most standards. As far as Luke and Jyn meeting, it’s possible that they did meet during the Rebellion years and we were just never shown it. I’ve heard of couples who got together, got married and had kids, years, even decades, after they first met. Plus, war is a crazy time and who knows where Luke and Jyn’s lives were at after Endor and the fall of the Empire. Luke had the responsibility of rebuilding the Jedi and Jyn may have been off doing all sorts of special ops work for the New Republic. Also this point seems to be operating under the assumption that I already addressed in point 1 and is invalid for the same reasons. Even if Jyn is older than Luke that doesn’t count for much. Padme was five years older than Anakin when they were married. Just sayin’.
  6. Rogue One is a Standalone movie. Technically, yes, Rogue One is a standalone movie but to use the Marvel universe as an example: Ant-Man is a Standalone movie, Captain America was a Standalone movie, Iron Man was a Standalone movie. Yet they all are part of the same universe and you see that connecting tissue in how they reference each other. They all showed their own stories with their own characters without being directly adherent to a larger story. By that logic Rogue One isn’t a standalone at all. It’s completely dependent on the narrative that’s already been established in Episode IV to give it the weight it needs. If Episode IV didn’t exist, this movie wouldn’t be about a group of rebels stealing the plans to this world-destroying weapon. It would be about them actually, you know, DESTROYING the damn thing (pardon my French).

The other thing is that all the other Star Wars ‘Standalone’s’ that have been announced are tied directly to the Episodes. Han Solo, Boba Fett, an Obi-Wan Kenobi trilogy(where they go with that I have no idea); they all deal with subject matter and characters that are connected to the Saga. No movie is an island, especially not in a galaxy far, far away.

  1. It’s too expected. This is grasping at straws and personally I’m sick of this particular argument. Just because a story beat is expected doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting or fun to see play out. As for Rey and Jyn looking alike, yes. Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones do look a lot alike. Eerily so in fact. Star Wars casting directors seem to have a habit of casting brown-haired, brown/hazel-eyed actresses in the female leads. They’ve even done it with some of the side characters.

To use the words of the immortal Leroy Jethro Gibbs, “I don’t believe in coincidences”. That goes double for these massive film franchises where every detail is so scrutinized by the fans. The studios know this. They aren’t oblivious of the fans and Lucasfilm especially has proven that multiple times. So either someone really needs to diversify on their casting choices or something fishy is going on here.

As for it being a red herring, that’s always possible but is it good to play with the fans like this? Do it too much and you start to lose out on potential story opportunities that work with the narrative just for the sake of a shocking surprise.

  1. There are no clues in The Force Awakens. Why would there be? The Force Awakens is Rey’s story not Jyn’s and if you ask me “what about all that evidence pointing to Luke?” I will tell you this: The Force Awakens is Episode VII and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy has made very clear that the Episodes are a Skywalker story (this lends to the theory that Rey is in fact, Luke’s daughter, but I digress). Episode VII didn’t introduce Rey’s parents because we needed to get to know her, Finn, BB-8 and the other characters first. Jyn hasn’t been established as a character yet. If there had been clues, if there had been references to Jyn in the movie, it probably would have gone over all our heads or would have taken the focus off of Rey. So why put clues to Jyn in a movie that she really has no part of?
  2. Not Everyone has to be connected. This is another argument I keep seeing and you wouldn’t believe how much it irks me. It also connects into the whole “they’re making the universe smaller if they make Rey’s parents someone we know” debate and I’m calling bologna on both.

First off, not everyone is connected in these movies. In fact, almost no one is. For all the evidence and fan theories that are out there, Rey, Finn, Poe are, as of right now, unrelated to ANYONE from the original trilogy. It’s implied that Rey is somehow connected to the Skywalker lineage but the only person with confirmed blood ties to the previous movies is the villain, Kylo Ren. And making Jyn Rey’s mom is one connection. One. No one is arguing to make Chewbacca, Wicket the Ewok’s uncle, or Finn to be Lando’s son. Now, if there do turn out to be all these connections then I think this concern will be warranted. But in this case I think making that connection makes sense in the context of the overall story.

Second, making Jyn turn out to be Rey’s mother is not something that I think shrinks the universe. Much as the fans moan and groan about this, I’d rather have good stories with characters that I care about in a smaller setting than a massive galaxy with lots of characters I don’t know at all. More characters doesn’t necessarily mean better characters. In addition, if it were revealed that Jyn was Rey’s mom in perhaps, Episode VIII or XI then that reveal would be much more impactful to us as fans because we could see who Rey’s mom was beyond being just “Rey’s Mom”. It’s the same with Rey in Episode VII and why I’m glad they didn’t tell us who she was then. If they had told us that she was Luke’s daughter or Han’s daughter right from the get go, I don’t think she would have been as much of a hit with us fans because we’d all just see Rey as ‘the daughter of ___’ instead of a character in her own right.

  1. Other’s would know. Who said they didn’t? For all we know, Han and Leia might have known the truth about Rey’s parentage the whole time. It was definitely implied in The Force Awakens that Han had at least some idea of Rey’s identity. On the other hand, who said they did know? Running under the theory that Luke is Rey’s father, it could have been he never told anyone about his relationship with Jyn. He was rather reclusive after all (according to Star Wars: Bloodline at any rate) and it’s possible that if Jyn had Rey she might never even have told Luke about her. The fact is, we still don’t know. The circumstances of how and why Rey was left on Jakku in the first place remain unclear so this isn’t really a reason for Jyn being or not being her mom at all. We’re not shown or told everything in The Force Awakens so we don’t really know what Han and Leia knew or didn’t know. Until the aforementioned circumstances are revealed, this one’s off the table as an argument for either side so far as I’m concerned.
  2. Daisy Ridley said she’s not. This comes from a quote by Daisy Ridley at the MTV movie awards where she was asked about the Jyn = Rey’s Mother theory and her answer was, “just because she’s white and got brown hair…it doesn’t mean she’s my mom.” While many, including the original writer of this list, saw this as confirmation that Jyn is NOT Rey’s mother, I myself am a little more hesitant to accept this as a fact.

Daisy’s quote, while not encouraging the fan-theory, is not an outright denial either. This is something that you would expect her to say, especially given the attention to secrecy by the Lucasfilm PR department. Fan-theories keep people talking about the movie and its characters, whether they’re true or not. If Jyn is Rey’s mother they obviously wouldn’t want Daisy Ridley to spoil that reveal but if Jyn is not Rey’s mom then it cools down that fan-theory and likewise some of the excitement for Rogue One. Rogue One is definitely connected to Episode IV but the fact is that Episode IV, as much as we fanboys love it, is not the freshest thing on casual audiences minds. That would be Episode VII.

In addition the biggest demographic for Star Wars is kids and young adults who are probably more familiar now with Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren than they are with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader who they know primarily from their parents. If Rogue One is connected somehow to Episode VII then it will have a larger base to draw on and the studios know this which is why they wouldn’t deny this theory outright even if it wasn’t true. In that light, taking Ridley’s quote as gospel is not something I can do because it’s just neither here nor there.


So that is my personal, rather long-winded response to the question of  “is Jyn Erso, Rey’s Mother”? I think I’ve made my feelings rather clear. But you know what? I could be dead wrong. It could be that all of this will be blown out the window when we finally see the movie in its full glory. This just makes it more exciting to see what happens next in that Galaxy Far, Far Away that we all love so much. What are your thoughts on this theory? Do you disagree? Why? Let me know in the comments below or on facebook and twitter.


Have a great weekend and as always, May the Flick be with You!

X-Men: Apocalypse Review: Is the third one always the worst?

Hey, Everybody and Welcome to another review from! I apologize for taking so long to put up another review on this blog but things have been really crazy lately as I’ve been getting ready to move as well as working on writing my book and a couple other major projects. As such I haven’t had as much time to pay attention to this blog. However, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to start providing a steadier stream of reviews again in the coming months. With that said, let’s get right into the review. This is X-Men: Apocalypse.






For those of you who aren’t familiar with the X-Men franchise, they are a group of movies based off the Marvel heroes of the same name who are mutants in a world where they are feared and hated by the people they are trying to protect.

Now, to give a bit of background, it’s important to understand that though the X-Men were created under the Marvel Comics banner, they have absolutely nothing to do with Iron Man, Captain America or the other heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The reason for this is that back in the 1990s, Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy. To avoid this, they agreed to sell the film rights to some of their biggest characters to some of the movie studios. At the time, Spiderman and the X-Men were considered to be the most marketable characters that Marvel had. Spiderman ended up going to Sony Pictures, while 20th Century Fox picked up the rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

The result was the first X-Men movie (directed by Brian Singer) which was released in 2001. It was a modest hit and Fox continued to make them and the X-Men franchise is the longest running superhero franchise in history. So what’s the story?

The movie starts in 1983, ten years after the events of the previous movie, Days of Future Past. The world is quiet and Professor Charles Xavier is quietly tending his “school for gifted youngsters” in Westchester, New York, taking on several new students including a young Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey. Meanwhile, Xavier’s long-time frenemy Magneto is living a quiet life in Poland with a wife and daughter. All seems well with the world. But that peace is doomed when an evil awakens from the ancient past in the form of the first mutant, Apocalypse, who wishes to tear down man’s entire world and raise himself up as its new ruler.

If it sounds to you like the premise is a bit generic as superhero fare goes then I would definitely agree with you. This is one of the movie’s largest flaws. In a day and age when superhero movies have started exploring stories beyond the simple save-the-world scenario, this movie’s story seems rather rote. Surprisingly so actually, given that the X-Men have some of the most interesting stories to tell, an inherent trait of the “persecuted heroes” concept that they champion. I won’t say that the save-the-world plot shouldn’t be done at all, it’s been done really well in such films as Superman-The Movie and The Avengers. But the X-Men have always worked best when focusing on the characters and their struggles with being the protectors of people who hate them. That is the core strength of the X-Men as a whole. And while this movie touches on that struggle it is not the focus. Rather the story is about stopping the bad guy who is bent on destroying the planet. I’ll get to my thoughts on Apocalypse in a little bit.

Please don’t misunderstand me though, there are a number of things in this movie that I really liked and I think are great about both the X-Men movies and the X-Men in general. The biggest of these is Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender) subplot. I mentioned in the story summary that Magneto has settled down to live a quiet life with his new wife and daughter while working in a steel-mill. What happens to cause him to return to his alter-ego is heartbreaking and chilling. Much of this is carried by Fassbender’s performance. You see the weight of everything he’s done, everything he’s lost, and all the anger and resentment he holds, just through the expressions in his eyes. That is the indication of a truly good performance where the actor is truly doing everything he can to get the right emotions out of the scene.

In contrast, we have Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). I’ve heard a number of people refer to her performance in this movie as “phoned in” and I tend to agree. Phoning it in is a Hollywood term for a particularly wooden performance, as though they’re doing little more than reciting words from the script. There’s very little emotion involved in what they’re doing. I understand that Jennifer Lawrence is a popular award-winning actress but even the best actors have bad performances and this is one where Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t look like she wants to be there, at all. This affects the film because so much of it revolves around her character. She is one of the major moving pieces that the plot needs to get where it’s going. Because Lawrence’s performance is so wooden it’s tough to believe in what the character is doing or what she’s after and the movie as a whole suffers for it.

One of the major points about this film is that its bringing in younger versions of the original X-Men films with Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). This was really exciting for me because while they appeared in the original movies, they were always outshone by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who was the real focus of those films in spite of the fact that they were called, y’know, X-Men movies. I still hold that Fox should rename the originals The Wolverine Trilogy, with appearances by the X-Men but I digress.

The three I just mentioned have always been the X-Men to me. And this was the first film that I felt actually made good use of them as characters. Admittedly they do take a backseat to Magneto, Professor X (James McAvoy), and Mystique but I enjoyed seeing them work together using their powers. There’s even a sequence where they have to infiltrate a military base to rescue their teachers. I could watch a whole movie just of that. It’s really fun to watch and the acting by the three is great, especially Sophie Turner as Jean Grey though she does get the most to do of all three.

On the flipside, we have Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen: Magneto, Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp). The Horsemen are supposed to be the most powerful mutants on the planet with their abilities augmented by Apocalypse’s own power. But really, aside from Magneto, none of them are given any but the barest of backstory and personality. Olivia Munn as Psylocke only gets two lines in the whole movie. Furthermore, their reasons for joining Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) aren’t made clear beyond simply becoming more powerful. This makes them feel more like standard henchmen than true threats in their own right.

This brings me to Apocalypse himself. To give some context to his place in X-lore, while Magneto may be the X-Men’s most well-known villain, Apocalypse is their greatest foe. His very name is enough to inspire dread in even the most powerful of mutants. He is Magneto’s agenda taken to its ultimate extreme. For while Magneto desires a world where mutants are dominant, Apocalypse wants a world where only the strongest of mutants survive, wiping humanity out entirely. The X-Men have faced him multiple times in the comics and each time have only just succeeded. He is their ultimate threat.

Which is why I find it so odd that this version of Apocalypse doesn’t feel very threatening. He is uber-powerful and he does kill a lot of people but those he kills are either people we want to see die, or people we didn’t care about. Magneto probably kills more people in this movie than Apocalypse does. Part of the reason for this is he never really harms any character that we really care about so it makes him seem like less of a threat. Even his mental battle with Professor X is unthreatening because he’s only getting bigger. His costume doesn’t help things. I give Oscar Isaac (who incidentally plays Poe Dameron in Star Wars VII) full credit for doing his best to act beneath all those prosthetics and makeup but there’s only so much he can do to mask how cumbersome the costume looks. At times it almost seems like he’s ready to fall over on one of his Horsemen. This leads me to think that despite the filmmakers’ desire to do Apocalypse practically he might have worked better and been more impressive if they’d used motion-capture, the technique used to create Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Obviously this can’t change but it is disappointing because Apocalypse is a villain whose talents and goals are usually so massive in scope and yet here he feels surprisingly small.

That metaphor could also be applied to the action in this movie. There is a setpiece with Quicksilver saving everyone in the school as it explodes which is easily a highlight of the entire film, and the sequence I mentioned earlier where Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler infiltrate the Weapon X facility. These are both really enjoyable sequences but aside from them the action is decidedly lacking in creativity and narrative weight. Especially the climax which seems remarkably isolated for an apocalyptic event. I don’t think I saw one innocent bystander at all during the fight. That’s not to say you should always have bystander’s in the fight but when Apocalypse is planning to control the entire population of Earth using Professor X and our heroes are the only ones doing anything about it, it makes it feel less important than it should be. At least in Man of Steel and The Avengers they showed the armed forces doing something to help the situation.

The one thing I did really like about the climactic battle was the reveal of Jean Grey as the Phoenix firebird. That moment was just as awe inspiring as it should have been and I’m hopeful that we’ll get to see the Dark Phoenix Saga from the comics done right in a future entry.

Finally, one last thing I’d like to address is Professor X constantly letting Magneto walk away. It’s becoming a bit irritating to see this happen time and again where Magneto does something bad that endangers or kills hundreds of people and yet the Professor lets him walk because…they’re friends. This time was even worse because Magneto, thanks to Apocalypse’s augmentation, levels half the cities around the globe at one time. They never say how many people died or were injured because of this but you can’t tell me no one got hurt in that catastrophe. Even my suspension of disbelief only stretches so far. Magneto should be an even more hunted criminal than before.

This extends to Storm as well who started out as a Horseman and yet by the end is a welcomed member of the team in spite of the fact that she only helped them out at the very end of the climax and was aide to the destruction of thousands of lives. To quote Commodore Norrington from the Pirates of the Caribbean, “One good deed does not redeem a man from a lifetime of wickedness”. There have to be consequences and to see these characters misuse their powers and walk away without any repercussion or even welcomed into the fold is a very unwise thing to do. I get that Magneto is an anti-hero with an understandable perspective but that doesn’t justify his actions or Professor X condoning his actions by letting him go. It makes his and the X-Men’s crusade to protect people from mutants using their power irresponsibly seem foolhardy, especially when that person has shown time and again that he’s just going to go back to the same old routines. It’s like cleaning up a drug addict and then dropping him off on the same street where his dealer works, it won’t change him. I only hope that they address this in future X-films.


Conclusion: My rant aside, this is still a movie that has an upside in that it actually makes you think about things and it’s the closest thing we’ve gotten to an actual X-Men film so far. However, this upside is buried beneath the poor execution of the film itself. Sabotaged by poor creative choices, wooden acting, a sub-par villain, and an ultimately uninteresting story, it fails to live up to the potential that everyone could see.

There’s a scene in the movie where the kids come out of a showing for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Jean Grey says the line, “Well, I think we can all agree that the third movie is always the worst.” I find that a bit ironic since this is the third film in its line and while its meant to be a slam against the abysmal X-Men: The Last Stand, it also ends up slamming itself in the process as the third film in its line. While I don’t think that X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past are masterpieces, I do think that they are both better than this one. They have better conflicts, better acting, more interesting characters, and are just put together much more solidly.

This movie does set up a lot of interesting potential for the future with the return of the classic X-Men and the possibility of the Dark Phoenix but until we see those things realized in another movie it remains just that, potential. As it stands X-Men: Apocalypse is a fun but disappointing entry into the franchise. If you’re a real fan of the series or the X-Men in general, you’ll find plenty to enjoy but if you are on the fence I’d recommend saving your money for a rental.


Recommendation: Rental Worthy

The Huntsman – Winter’s War: “How are you alive?”

Assessment: Rental Worthy

Hey, Everyone! Welcome to another movie review from! Today we’re going to be looking at another current release that hasn’t been receiving a lot of attention, The Huntsman: Winter’s War. The sequel to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, a modest hit when it came out, this movie was about as anticipated as you can imagine any generic fantasy not named Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter being…which is to say, not at all. So why am I reviewing it then? Because I’m a completely shameless sucker for said generic fantasy movies. So let’s get into it.

WARNING – There will be spoilers in this review. Continue reading at your own risk. Unless you don’t care about spoilers in which case you’ve already ignored this WARNING.

The story of this movie is a little tricky starting off with the first twenty to thirty minutes detailing the backstory of the Huntsmen. Not the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), but Huntsmen, plural. It turns out that back when they were children, they were all kidnapped by the evil Ice Queen Freya (Emily Blunt) to fight her wars and serve as the ultimate soldiers. To make sure that her Huntsmen remain completely loyal to her Freya, get this, completely outlaws love. I don’t know if this just applied to the Huntsmen or to the entire kingdom—which creates a whole host of practical problems—but she does this because of her own backstory where she lost her infant child in a fire and discovered she has ice powers. Oh, and it also turns out that she’s the Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron)’s younger sister. Go figure.

Anyway, it turns out that outlawing love among soldiers where there are both boys and girls is slightly difficult to enforce because our hero falls in love and marries one of his redhead female comrades named Sara (Jessica Chastain). Needless to say, the Ice Queen isn’t very happy about this and so has Sara killed and the Huntsman left for dead in an icy river.

Cut to several years later, after the events of Snow White and the Huntsman, where the Huntsman is asked by Snow White, or rather Prince Charming I guess since Snow White never actually appears, to go and escort the Evil Queen’s magic mirror to this vaguely safe place called Sanctuary. But his past begins to catch up with him as the Ice Queen also wants the mirror and is willing to do anything to get it. With the help of a couple of dwarves, because this exists in the Snow White movie and there have to be dwarves helping out our protagonist, the Huntsman sets off to stop the Ice Queen from using the mirror to take over the kingdom.

Story-wise, this plot isn’t bad. After all its a common thing in fiction and movies to have a sequel show a new villain that has a beef with the hero because of the previous villain. This movie takes that and adds a further connection between the Huntsman and the Ice Queen by having her treat the huntsmen as her surrogate children. That’s an interesting twist and it explains a lot of her motivation and her actions for much of the film.

Where the movie stumbles is in its execution of those elements. Great ideas inhabit every film but if they aren’t presented well then to the audience, its as if they never existed. Freya’s backstory of losing her child and it driving her mad is an interesting, if often-used, idea. But when you introduce people to parts of a character is as important as what it is you’re introducing them to. Instead of introducing the audience to Freya’s character slowly and allowing us to see what makes her who she is, the movie gives it to us in one long bout of exposition. I’ll get to the exposition in a minute, but that’s such a waste of a great idea that was never followed through on.

The same goes for the idea of the Mirror itself being possessed somehow and for the Huntsman and his wife, Sara. If you saw the first movie you already know that his wife was supposedly dead and he was a man without a country, so to speak. That could have made his remembering her and her subsequent return from the dead very compelling drama. But instead they give us exposition about the two of them at the beginning so that her return isn’t the least bit surprising or interesting, to us as the audience because we already know their history and what separated them. It’s just poor execution on what could have been some very interesting ideas.

In addition to this it adds in Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen Ravenna at the end as the movie’s “final boss”. I love Charlize Theron’s work and I’ll be singing her praises here soon but her presence in the story completely undercuts Freya as the movie’s villain. Its a simple unspoken logic that if you have a villain in one movie, then the sequel should have a villain that is equally if not more dangerous for the hero to overcome. This takes that in the completely wrong direction. Freya goes from first string baddie to second fiddle in the course of a few minutes after spending the majority as the main antagonist for our heroes. That’s a huge problem when you’re trying to provide a major challenge for our heroes.

I mentioned the exposition at the beginning because its a huge part of what I don’t like about this movie. Liam Neeson plays the role of the Narrator in this section and it sounds like he’s narrating a segment on the Conspiracy Show Channel That Used To Be About History—or is that the actual History Channel? At any rate, the exposition in this movie is utterly awful. It tells us things that we could have easily learned just by seeing these characters interact together and speaks to lazy or rushed writing. That is one of the worst plagues in all of Hollywood and one of my personal pet peeves. SHOW, DON’T TELL!

This movie does deserve some credit though. Some of the landscapes, creatures, and places that are visited in it are dripping with color and imagination even though they are CGI. The phrase “its too CGI” is tossed around a lot but in a day and age when filmmakers use CGI that goes by so fast you barely see it, or hardly use color at all, I found these moments both welcome and refreshing.

The cast should be applauded as well given what they have to work with in this movie. I mentioned Charlize Theron and she’s allowed to be deliciously evil once again in the role of Ravenna, chewing scenery left and right.

Chris Hemsworth is also great as the titular Huntsman. He has a huge amount of confidence and charm to him that makes him the sort of hero that you could see yourself following even if you didn’t know what his plan was. It’s that old-school Errol Flynn-like feel to his performances that makes me wish I could see him in better films. Maybe he should consider getting a new agent.

Emily Blunt brings the amount of grace and hardness that one would expect an actress of her caliber would bring to a character like the Ice Queen but I was disappointed that she didn’t get a lot of moments to stretch her acting legs.

Then there are the Dwarves. These guys are by far the highlight of this entire movie for me. I was laughing regularly whenever they were on screen. The jokes they brought to the table were consistently funny and helped bring a lot of heart and levity to a movie that could’ve easily become too grim to be taken seriously. I could watch a movie of just Chris Hemsworth and those Dwarves sitting around a table talking for two hours. That’s how good they are.

Oddly enough the one part of the cast that doesn’t really stand out to me is Jessica Chastain as Sara. There’s nothing particularly wrong with her performance. It’s just she doesn’t bring anything special to that role. It’s…forgettable. Which is probably the worst thing anyone can say about any performance.


At one point in the movie one character says to another, “How are you alive?” My sister, who I went to see this movie with, leaned over to me and said sarcastically “I think that’s the prevailing question.” I think a lot of people will agree with her, not just about what’s in the movie but about the movie itself.

How is it alive? As I said before, Snow White and the Huntsman was a modest success but it wasn’t a blockbuster. The worst thing about this movie is that there wasn’t really much need for it to be made.

That being said however, I do like a lot of the elements that were put into this film. It’s well done technically and a lot people worked really hard to put it together. Its no Lord of the Rings but I can’t say I wasn’t entertained by it which is more than I can say for some other fantasy movies I’ve seen. And really, that’s what a movie is supposed to do. Some films do it better than others but for what I paid for, I don’t regret buying a ticket to this one. If you see it in a rental box sometime, I’d check it out.

Have you seen this movie? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below or tell me on twitter @Lightwielder524. In the meantime, have a great week and May the Flick be with You!

The Jungle Book Review: The Law of the CGI Jungle

3.5 reels out of 5

Hey, Everybody! Welcome to another review from! Today, I’m delving into the wonderful world of Disney with the brand-new live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel The Jungle Book. Adapted for animation back in 1967 by Disney, the original Jungle Book is considered one of the animation studio’s many children’s classics. Has Disney been able to recreate the magic of its classic creation? Let’s find out.

So here’s the story. Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a young “man-cub” who was raised by a pack of wolves deep in the Indian jungle with the help of the black panther, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). Mowgli is perfectly content with the wolves despite not fitting in. But when an evil man-eating tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens the safety of pack unless they turn Mowgli over to him, the other animals decide that Mowgli should return to his own kind. Mowgli is unhappy about leaving the Jungle as its all he’s ever known. Still, he accepts Bagheera’s advice and agrees to leave until they become suddenly separated. Mowgli ends up on his own and ends up on an adventure that introduces him to several strange characters like Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray), Kaa the Snake (Scarlett Johanssen), and King Louis (Christopher Walken) while searching for an answer to who he should be.

For those of you who might be hoping that this movie is closer to the book than the original I’m sorry to say that the story in this movie is largely a beat for beat retelling of the classic Disney movie, with a few new but still interesting elements thrown in.

The wolves play a much larger role in this film than the original and have more of a connection to Mowgli, which makes them feel more like contributing characters, especially since they introduce us to the concept of The Law of the Jungle, which is pulled straight from Kipling’s poem. I’ll admit I could listen to Giancarlo Esposito—who plays the Alpha wolf—recite this poem all day and never tire of it.

Shere Khan is also given something of a backstory beyond just hating humans, even though the backstory itself is flimsy at best and might have been best if just left out. He’s a man-eating, man-hating tiger. We don’t need more than that to understand him. It doesn’t help that he’s just not a very interesting character to watch. Idris Elba does an admirable acting job trying to make him intimidating but his fate is never in question.

Speaking of acting, the cast in this movie is quite impressive. I give special nods to Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, who always brings a grace and wise tone to every scene he’s in, and to Bill Murray who manages the perfect blend of wise-cracking humor and sincerity as Baloo. But the biggest credit has to go to Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Because so much of the movie is computer-generated, a lot of the audience‘s ability to suspend their disbelief is dependent wholly on Sethi’s performance. If he doesn’t believe he’s in the jungle then neither will we. The fact that we’re so caught up in the environment of the jungle is a testament to how good his acting is.

The major weak-spot in the cast for me, is Christopher Walken as King Louie. Why? Just…why?In the original movie—which this movie draws from so much—King Louie was a certified-crazy goofball orangutan who wanted the power of fire. He also loves jazz. If this movie was trying to be completely faithful to this idea that would be fine. But instead it tries to set Louie up as a powerful, frightening, and intimidating villain. That would be fine too if it actually stuck to that and the choice of Christopher Walken makes sense from a certain perspective. But every word that comes out of his mouth sounds like Christopher Walken doing a King Louie impression, not from King Louie himself.

That brings me to arguably the worst part of this entire movie: King Louie’s song, “I wanna be like you.” After having King Louie set up as this big, intimidating monkey he then starts up a Jazz tune. To say that this was jarring would be the understatement of the…well maybe not the year but at least the week. I was facepalming through the entire song, hoping it would end. It is that bad. While Baloo does “Bare Necessities” as well in this film it fits more with his character and the tone of the scenes he’s in so it doesn’t feel as out of place. The real problem with this is that King Louie’s song is that its an example of a movie being slaved to its source material—the original 1967 animated film—rather than paying homage to it. Being faithful to source material is all well and good, but in this case the film was trying to do something different with the King Louie character while keeping in elements from the source material and they just didn’t mix. It’s trying to be all things to all people and sadly its a rather common occurrence in film adaptations and remakes.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Kaa the Python, it’s because there isn’t much of Kaa to mention. He/She/It is in the movie and almost eats Mowgli. That’s all I have to say about that.

Before I wrap up, I have to give props to the real star of this movie: the effects. While the animal effects are decent, I don’t think they’re that much better than the animals you would see in a film like Chronicles of Narnia. But the backgrounds and the environments in this film are simply stunning. Knowing that most of what is seen on-screen is computer generated simply makes it more amazing. You actually believe you’re in the Jungle and while Neel Sethi’s performance sells the idea, it still has to give us enough of a show to support his performance and it passes that test with flying colors. I wish we had the chance to see more of this world. Then again, considering Disney is fast-tracking a sequel after the monster opening this movie had, I may not have to wait that long.


The Jungle Book is a fun and at times intense ride through the titular jungle. However, as I mentioned earlier, it does suffer from being too dependent on the original animated movie and as such the very need for its existence seems to be in question. This is especially true when that dependency keeps it from doing its own thing (e.g. King Louie).

Make no mistake, there are things about the Jungle Book that cannot and should not be changed. Mowgli’s conflict with Shere Khan, his friendship with Baloo, his trust with Bagheera; these things are good as they are and the film rightfully leaves them as they are.

But the movie works best when it shows us things that are new. Mowgli’s “tricks”, his relationship with the Mother Wolf and the rest of the Pack, the Law of the Jungle, the Peace Rock underneath the river. All of these are elements that expand on a story that’s already been told and they were by far the best thing about this movie. It’s just a shame that there wasn’t more of that in here.

I heartily recommend seeing this movie, if only for the visuals. This is a technical marvel of filmmaking and a great addition to the Disney collection. But if you’re looking for something that truly feels new and you’ve already seen the animated movie, this won’t be it. For me it has all the bare necessities that a Jungle Book movie should have, but comes up a few bananas short of being truly special.

What did you think of The Jungle Book? Let me know in the comments section below or tell me on Twitter @Lightwielder524. Have a great week and as usual, May the Flick be with You!

Batman and Robin: The Trainwreck to end all Trainwrecks

Hey Everybody! Welcome to another review at I apologize for getting this review up so late. Things have been particularly crazy this last week. I will be putting up my Jungle Book review tomorrow at the usual schedule.

Today I’m going back in time to look at the movie that singlehandedly changed an industry and is widely recognized among movie-goers as a singularly unusual achievement and will forever be remembered both by those who worked on it and those who watched it. So without further ado, I give you Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin.

Hmhmhmhmhehehehaheeheeehahahaha ohohohohoho heheheeehehehe, ahah-hah-hah!

Excuse me while I catch my breath [wheezing].

My apologies for that opening line of hideously written laughter. I have a tendency whenever I watch this film to fall into episodes of Jokerish insanity. For the sake of all of you out there I will try to avoid this happening again. But I make no promises!

So what about this film inspired me to become a full-blown psychotic(which, for those who know me, doesn’t take that much doing)? Well, let’s take a look at the story first.

The film surrounds the adventures of our titular duo as they fight crime throughout Gotham City, whose artists seem strangely obsessed with neon paint for some reason. A new supervillain appears, calling himself Mr. Freeze(Arnold Schwarzenegger) who plans to freeze Gotham and hold it for ransom. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a botanist by the name of Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) appears with a desire to eliminate all living animals [read: people] from first Gotham “and then THE WORLD!” As if that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that Batman’s faithful butler Alfred (Micheal Gough) is dying from a degenerative disease right as his niece Barbara shows up on Wayne Manor’s doorstep. On top of all this Robin(Chris O’Donnell) has decided he is tired of living in Batman(George Clooney)’s shadow which leads to a division between our dynamic duo.

I first saw this movie in 1998 while on a trip to Washington D.C. with my Grandpa. I was six at the time and my exposure to film at that point was largely limited to Disney flicks, old World War II films, and Westerns. So I was watching television after a long day of seeing the sights and Batman and Robin was on. Being a young, impressionable lad I completely ate it up. I loved the neon colors and semi-gothic CGI sets even though I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening on the screen. Looking back on it now almost twenty years later though, I appreciate this film in an entirely new manner.

Batman and Robin has a reputation among many movie-lovers as an abomination that should never have come into existence and has no redeeming features whatsoever and helped to ruin a much beloved franchise. It is a film that is so terrible, sooo glorious in how bad it is that, strangely enough, it can actually be entertaining at times. But first lets look at the stuff that is legitimately terrible.

Let’s start with the action. As a super-hero movie you can expect a fair amount of action and boy is the action in this movie terrible. Batman and Robin fly around the screen like amateur trapeze artists. You can even see the wires in several shots. Now I’ve seen wirework in action movies done quite well. The X-Men franchise is a great example. Another thing is how, in the opening sequence of the movie, the Dynamic Duo is fighting Mr. Freeze and his goons in a museum that has been completely iced over. What starts as a rather mundane action sequence turns into a bizarre—yet no less violent—hockey game that uses a ridiculously large diamond as the puck. I feel sorry for Canadians everywhere who probably had to pick their collective jaws off the floor from the absurdity.

It doesn’t get much better going forward. There’re only three other major action sequences all of which feature the same boring wire-work and fake punches that are uninteresting to watch.

Then there are the subplots. Oh, the many, many subplots. I’ve already given a rundown on some of these in the story summary so I won’t waste time by repeating myself. To be clear, I’m not against subplots on principle. In many cases they can be quite useful in enriching the overall narrative and adding moments of characterization that the main story wouldn’t normally allow for. However, too many subplots can cause your story to lose focus and become less engaging for the audience. Such is the case with Batman and Robin. The subplot with Alfred is understandable because of how it ties back into Mr. Freeze and his attempts to find a cure for the disease afflicting both his wife and Alfred. But the Robin, and Batgirl subplots really add nothing to either the plot or the characters. In fact, I’m pretty sure Robin’s subplot makes him look worse as he ends up acting more like a petulant child than the Batman’s reliable partner. And as for Batgirl, why was she in this movie again? I’m serious, I honestly can’t think why she would be in this movie.

It doesn’t help that Alicia Silverstone’s is barely given anything to do beyond look cool and be Batgirl which is no fun for us as an audience. Speaking of acting though, that’s another thing that’s terribly lacking throughout this movie. Most of the cast knew how bad of a movie this was and so most of them just sound like they’re reading lines from a script and that’s because…they are just reading lines from a script. This is the movie where George Clooney famously quoted after filming wrapped, “Well, that was a disaster.”

The one bright spot in all of this is Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. His puns in this film are the stuff of legend. Remembered by movie-goers long after the movie is over.

Yes they are absurd and corny to listen to but Schwarzenegger delivers them with such conviction that I’m personally convinced he was the only one having fun filming this movie. He’s like that kid who thinks, “Oh my gosh, I’m actually in a Batman film” and then makes the most out of everything he’s given. He just wants to enjoy himself in spite of how terrible the part was written.

Contrast that to Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. She has arguably as many puns as Freeze does but she just looks bored in her delivery. On top of Thurman’s delivery is the notion of Poison Ivy as a character which basically makes her into a pretty eco-terrorist with little to no motivation for actions like attempting to kill Nora Freeze or seducing Robin or Batman. It’s similar to my issue with Batgirl. Why is Poison Ivy in this movie? What does she add that couldn’t have been accomplished with just Mr. Freeze? I will admit though that I was glad she was admitted for one reason:

John Glover who plays Dr. Woodrue is AMAZING! When I rewatched the movie for this review I had to pause the video because I could not stop laughing at his psychotic scream when he kills Pamela Isley. He falls into the category of being so over-the-top crazy that if this was a comedy, he would be the funniest character in the entire film. For that matter, he is the funniest character and he’s only in the film for two minutes.

Then there’s Micheal Gough as Alfred. I feel bad for the poor man. He was with the Batman franchise right to the end when Joel Schumacher drove it straight off a cliff. He’s since passed away, but I can only imagine what it must have been like watching something that he put so much time and effort become a parody of itself. In any event he still attempted to bring a modicum of dignity to his performance as Alfred and I respect his tenacity if not the results.

Finally, there’s the set design and to be honest some of it actually looks quite interesting with the gothic underpinnings that Gotham became famous for with Batman ‘89. However, this was done at a time when studios were doing everything, especially backgrounds and environments in complete CGI, probably resulting from the success of Independence Day which came out a year before this. And to be honest, there are some shots that are so terribly rendered that they are almost painful to look at because you can tell right off the bat(hahaha, bat-pun, heeheehee. Ahem, excuse me) that everything on screen was generated in a computer. The big deal with this is that CGI is dependent on you as an audience member accepting what you’re seeing on screen even when you know it isn’t real. It’s a visual type of “suspension-of-disbelief”. That’s why movies like Avatar work so well. When you cease to accept it, then the CGI is completely pointless because you’re no longer engaged in the experience.


So is Batman and Robin a terrible film? Absolutely! But I don’t think that means its entirely without merit. No movie is completely terrible just as no movie is completely perfect. Citizen Kane, widely regarded among movie critics as the best movie ever written has a major flaw. The titular Kane says his final word, “Rosebud” on his deathbed. Everyone spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out what that last word meant. The only problem with this is that if you watch the movie, no one was in the room to hear him say that last word, making the entire story a moot point.

Batman and Robin is an awful film but I think its biggest crime is that it is just boring. Beyond a few bright spots that I mentioned earlier, it just is uninteresting. Yet those bright spots still exist, just as the flaws in Citizen Kane still exist.To deny that fact would be completely hypocritical when deciding what makes a movie worth our time.

Also, I think fans and casual movie-goers alike owe this film a debt of gratitude. Its well known that Batman and Robin was a box-office bomb that killed the Batman franchise as well as superhero movies in general for the next five years. But people forget that at the time Superhero franchises weren’t about the movies; they were about how many toys they could market from those movies. This movie effectively killed the idea of superhero movies as large toy commercials and when they did come back, we got the X-Men, Spiderman, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Would any of those have happened if Batman and Robin had been a hit? I don’t think so. At least, not as we know them today.

So the next time you see a super-hero movie that you’re really enjoying and then see someone bash Batman and Robin you might want to remember that you owe the existence of that good film to a movie you might hate. I certainly will, and for that I will always hold a special spot for this candy-colored trainwreck of a movie.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see a therapist for these psychotic episodes!

What do you think of Batman and Robin? Let me know in the comments below or contact me on twitter @Lightwielder524. Have a great day and, as always, May the Flick be with You!

Star Wars: Rogue One Trailer Reaction

Hey Everybody and welcome to my first official editorial on!

As a die-hard Star Wars fan, I was on the moon (no pun intended) when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released last December. I loved every second of it and I think went to see it at least five times when it was in theaters. I had a blast watching the adventures of Rey, Finn and BB-8 as they fought against Kylo Ren and the forces of the First Order, and I can’t wait to see their new adventures in Episode 8.

But while we’re all waiting for that day to come, I found out that Lucasfilm had been working on something to tide us over. That something was a little film called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

And today, the first teaser trailer for Rogue One just dropped!

Check it out below:

One of the things that really excites me about this movie is that, while it’s still Star Wars, you understand that this is a very different story from the Star Wars movies we’ve seen. It feels more like a war story (ironic, I know) than the other movies bearing the title Star Wars. Gareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One, has cited films such as Saving Private Ryan as major influences on Rogue One and it shows.

It’s exciting to see new characters in the Galaxy Far Far Away interact with classic locations such as the secret Rebel Base from Episode IV and to see things like the Imperial Walkers in places we’ve never seen them before, like on a beach.

There are a couple of lines that kind of fall flat for me, such as Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones)’s line “This is a rebellion. I rebel”. That didn’t really work for me but just seeing all of this was such a rush that I cannot wait to see more about this film and who these characters are, good and villainous.

What did you all think of the new Rogue One trailer? Did you love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below or follow me on twitter @Lightwielder524.

Have a great day and as always, May the Flick be with You!

God’s Not Dead 2: The Tragic Irony of Christian Filmmaking

2 Out Of 5 Reels

Hey Everyone! Welcome to another review at where we entertain food for thought.

I’ll be honest guys, this was a tricky film to review, for me personally because it strikes so many things that mean a great deal to me as a person and as someone who loves and reviews films. For that reason, let’s get right into the review.

Directed by Harold Cronk, the story of God’s Not Dead 2 revolves around a high-school history teacher named Grace Wesley (played by Melissa Joan Hart) who finds herself embroiled in a court case when her superiors find that she answered a student’s question by citing Jesus. With the eye of a major litigator (Ray Wise) intent on making an example of her case and her defender (Jesse Metcalf) uncertain of her innocence, Grace is faced with deciding between her future and her dedication to her faith.

I’m not really sure where to start with this movie. As someone who is a Christian and who does support the beliefs that are presented in this film, I probably favor it more than some and I applaud Pure Flix Entertainment and all the people who worked so hard to produce this film for standing by their beliefs and putting forth their right to express those beliefs, especially in a time when those freedoms seem to be more and more uncertain.

However, I’m not one to make political statements, nor is this the place to make one. This is a film review. The point of a film review is not to assess the validity of the film’s content but to comment on how such content is presented.

So, what are the good things about this movie? Well, it definitely has acting talent necessary to properly present it’s story. The cast is certainly small but not unqualified. Ray Wise is something of standout in that it’s easy to hate his character, as much because he is the epitome of a slimy opportunistic lawyer as he is the antagonist of the film. His performance is complemented by Jesse Metcalf who tries his hardest as the young-buck lawyer who finds himself severely out of his depth. The weak link in the main cast ironically is Grace herself. Melissa Joan Hart is the most experienced actor in this cast next to Wise with performances in the tv show Sabrina the Teenage Witch. But her performance in God’s Not Dead 2 she just doesn’t land the way she should. We’ve all felt persecuted at some point, like nothing is going our way. This should make Grace a character who should by all rights be easy to relate to. Except, she isn’t. In spite of being faced with losing everything she has, Hart never gives the audience a good idea of the sheer strain that this situation has to be having on her character. She bears the entire thing with the fortitude of a Saint. While that’s all well and good as far as the movie’s message is concerned, it’s not a great way to build drama. Some of this must be attributed to director Harold Cronk’s direction and the writing staff. However, it’s still a disappointing performance given Hart’s known ability as an actress.

The story is also sadly lacking. The premise is good and courtroom dramas have proven to produce great stories, such as A Few Good Men (1992), in the past. The problem is that this movie’s story lacks the thing that all three-act narratives need: tension. Because of how Grace’s problem is presented in the first place, there is never any doubt in the audience’s mind, what the outcome will be. In some stories, knowing the outcome is allowable because we find the characters engaging and just want to see more of them doing whatever it is they do. This film doesn’t have that luxury because the characters in it are so straight-forward, on both sides. Ultimately it makes for a wooden and uninteresting narrative that feels tied down by the themes that the writers wanted to wrap their story around.

Speaking of themes, one of the most frustrating is tied directly to the movie’s title. I’m going come right out and say that I don’t think God’s Not Dead 2 was the title this movie should have had. The film goes to unusual lengths to justify it’s existence but just ends up making us wonder about it more. The previous movie had the title God’s Not Dead because that was the central question of the movie, so it made sense. Here, that question has no bearing on the plot or the characters. In fact, the only connection this movie has to the first is a few characters that are carried over and play only a minor role in the plot. So, why was this movie titled God’s Not Dead 2 again?

Anyway, those characters from the first movie are another thing that this movie didn’t need. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong having them in there. After all, if you want to have connective tissue between movies, continuing characters is one of the best ways of doing so. But if they get in the way of the main narrative that is being told, then they are not acting as connective tissue anymore. In this film, those recurring characters all have their own subplots, each of which takes our focus away from Grace’s story. That’s the last thing I want as an audience member. It would be a little more tolerable if these characters did anything but none of their subplots go anywhere and thus their inclusion feels completely unneeded.

Finally, and this is a minor pet peeve of mine, there’s the Newsboys and the Duck Dynasty plug-ins. I really don’t like it when a movie puts product placement in with its narrative, even when they are with products that I support (I’m not especially a fan of either Newsboys or Duck Dynasty but that’s beside the point). What’s especially irritating for me is the fact that this is the same stuff they did in the first movie. Sure there’s something to be said for thematic continuity, each film ending with a Newsboys concert for instance, but it feels so blatant that I felt pulled out of the movie when that happened.


This film is frustrating for me in sooo many ways that it’s difficult for me to put it clearly. On the one hand, as a christian film, it’s certainly better than others I’ve seen. The scenes are put together nicely and the cinematography is well done for what it’s intended to be and the performances of the cast help to make the underwhelming and unfocused narrative a little easier to deal with.

On the other hand, as a person who tends to put story and character first in a movie, this is just a tough movie to sit through, even with the uplifting message and good performances. The primary reason I gave it a higher score than Batman v Superman from last week was because of the overall feeling I had coming out of the theater which can be summarized as thoughtful indifference as opposed to the categorical dislike I had for the former movie.

However, I think this movie’s quality is indicative of a trend in Christian movies over the last few years that has become equally frustrating, where the movie’s are so preoccupied with offering the message of Christ and showing their faith on screen that they sabotage themselves by not taking advantage of a movie’s most powerful tool. Jesus told messages, yes. But he also told parables. People who aren’t Christians still know the stories of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan because they are stories that struck an emotional chord with them. There are plenty of great stories that can be told about Christians. If you don’t believe me, look up The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, with Ingrid Bergman. That’s a fantastic story with memorable characters that shows the struggles of a missionary to China just before World War II. Chariots of Fire is another excellent example.

Story and character are the backbone of any good movie. I think if christian filmmakers remember that, then they can make films of equal, maybe even superior, quality to those of their more mainstream peers. If they remember that.

As it stands with this movie however, I can only say that, in my eyes at least, God’s Not Dead 2 is a hopeful but disappointing follow-up in a franchise that is itself an unfortunate disappointment.

BvS: Dawn of Justice Review: How to ruin Superheroes without really trying

1 Out Of 5 Reels

Hey, Everybody! Welcome to another movie review from I had planned to do a review on The Divergent Series: Allegiant but unfortunately I was out of town last weekend and I wasn’t able to go see it to give it a review. I might review it at a later date but for right now there will not be an Allegiant review on

With that out of the way, some of you might have heard about a little comic book movie that happened to be coming out this weekend called Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The hype behind this movie was staggering; easily outstripping any movie that didn’t have the words Star Wars in its title. Movie pundits and comic book geeks(with whom I proudly identify myself) were practically climbing the walls with excitement. Even people with zero interest in comic book movies found themselves curious to see these two icons sharing the silver screen for the first time; to see the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight together in a medium where twenty years ago such a thing would have been considered, not impossible but highly unlikely. So now that it’s been released, does it live up to the incredible hype that it generated?

Warning – For those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS, so if you care about such things and want to see the movie first then stop reading here.

For those of you who are still reading, I will assume that either you’ve already seen the movie or that spoilers don’t matter.

So let’s look at the premise. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is directed by Zach Snyder (300 and Watchmen) and picks up immediately after the events detailed in the 2013 film Man of Steel (also directed by Snyder) where a Kryptonian invasion and Superman’s (Henry Cavill) efforts to stop it leaves much of the city of Metropolis in ruins and hundreds dead. Among those to witness the destruction is billionaire businessman Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) who watches as a battle between Superman and the evil General Zod obliterates one of his office buildings and many of the people inside it. In the aftermath of the Battle of Metropolis, Superman has become a figure of much controversy and distrust, especially that of the government and Wayne’s alter-ego Batman who is coming up with a solution to the Superman problem using weaponized Kryptonite. Meanwhile, shady businessman Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is at work on his own plan to remove Superman from the picture using technology from a downed Kryptonian ship while also attempting to secretly turn public opinion against the man of steel. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is constantly dogged in his efforts to procure Kryptonite by a mysterious woman who has her own agenda.

Are you still with me? Good. So, yeah, this movie has a plot with more holes in it than a block of swiss cheese after a shotgun blast. It is pretty paper-thin and what’s worse is that it wastes the premise that it starts out with, namely Superman facing consequences of his actions when they cause damage, injury, and even death to people that he is supposed to be protecting, even if he had the best intentions in mind. Continued recklessness on Superman’s part would give Batman a solid reason for developing a way to deal with him and it would solidify Bruce’s motivation.

But, in a weird twist of irony, Superman isn’t shown as destructively reckless in this movie. Really, for the better part of the first half, this movie shows Superman doing what Superman does, which is saving people, albeit a bit over-dramatically at times. Admittedly, he doesn’t do much at all beyond that in this movie except play punching bag for Batman but that’s a whole other story. The one point of violence he does enact directly on a human being is against a terrorist who is holding Lois Lane at gunpoint. A terrorist whose purpose I am honestly still confused by.

In point of fact, it seemed to me like Batman showed a more cavalier disregard for human life in this film. One sequence has him blowing up several SUV’s (that still have people in them) by opening up with the .50 caliber machine guns fixed to the hood of the Batmobile and then crashing through a boatyard with a devil-may-care attitude that would shock a Monster Truck driver. In another scene, he takes the Batwing on a strafing run of some more SUV’s (also with people still in them) in an effort to rescue Superman’s mother. Then, during that same rescue, he ends up in a stand-off with a man holding a flamethrower at Ma Kent. How does he handle the situation? He shoots the guy’s gas pack turning him into a living bomb, almost killing Ma Kent in the process.

Why do I bring all this up? Because Batman is the person that the movie expects us to root for and relate to. He is the main character, despite being only one half of the title. He doesn’t trust Superman and the power that Superman wields, which is understandable. After all “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. But given his actions in the film next to Superman’s, Batman has absolutely no moral grounds for fighting Superman beyond his own guilt and paranoia. And I’m sorry, that’s a huge problem in a film where both heroes need to be likeable and understandable. I didn’t feel I got to know the characters enough to understand them, and neither of them felt likeable. And that’s not against the performers. Henry Cavill is perfectly fine as Superman and Ben Affleck is a wonder to behold as Batman, giving both him and Bruce Wayne an edge that we’ve not seen since Michael Keaton played the role. It’s just the way the characters are written makes it difficult to connect with them in any way. For this I lay the blame at the feet of screenwriter David Goyer, a man who once asked if people who liked Martian Manhunter (a lesser-known DC hero) “have ever been laid?”.And DC chose this man to write their flagship characters. Classy.

So, now that I’ve talked at length about the main characters and the story, what about the rest of the movie? Well, there are some real bright spots in this movie. I’ve already mentioned Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill but Jeremy Irons as Alfred and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman also are deserving of a mention. Irons provides most of the lighter moments in the film with his dry wit while also providing a voice of reason and support to Affleck’s Batman. Gadot likewise is fun as Wonder Woman. She isn’t given much to do but the moments she is in, especially the small ones with Bruce Wayne, are a lot of fun to watch.

The action beats are also a lot of fun to watch at least, if not for their narrative significance. Watching the special effects was like watching moving art. It’s just gorgeous to look at and whatever I might or might not have against Zach Snyder, his movies always look good. The visuals are almost impossible to describe while doing justice to the scene. This is why it’s so frustrating for me that these visuals are not paired with a narrative and characters of equal quality. Zach Snyder, as a director, has always had this problem and it keeps this from being a movie that could have been truly great.

This brings me to the last and most irritating part of this movie: Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. I’ll sum up Lex Luthor in one sentence: imagine the Dark Knight’s Joker, mixed with a drunk Captain Jack Sparrow. Imagine that and you will have this Lex Luthor. This is a character that exists entirely to be the villain, to the point of being cartoonish. He has no solid motivation for hating Superman other than he’s Lex Luthor; he has to hate Superman. The entire movie is dependent on his motivation and by the end when he’s put away you’re still not sure why he does everything he does. Beyond that, the movie simply dispenses with him having any fallibility whatsoever. He knows everything about Batman and Superman. Their secret identities, their loved ones, their weaknesses; all with no explanation for how he knows that. Although I suppose it makes sense for this Superman given how little interest he seems to have in protecting his identity or his loved ones, but Batman? Batman is all about protecting his secret identity. How in the world could Lex have figured this out? And wouldn’t it do more damage given all the criminals Batman has put away to simply put a bounty out on his head in Gotham? You might say, “it’s because Lex wanted Batman and Superman to take each other out by having them fight.” If so, why would he kidnap Lois and Ma Kent to get Superman to fight? Why wouldn’t he try to make Superman believe that Batman was the real evil that needed to be dealt with? Because, whether they succeeded or not in taking each other out, one of them was likely to survive and the one that survived was going to probably come for him. What did he plan on doing then? To quote Val Kilmer, “It just raises too many questions.” Ugghhh.

And finally there’s Lex’s constant and self-important pontificating about the roles of god and man. Which could have been interesting if the story had made more effort to support it, but it doesn’t seek to answer any of the philosophical questions that it raises and thus his speeches amount to nothing more than verbal diarrhea that’s just set-up for the future Justice League movie.

Speaking of which, the tie-ins for the future justice league are so mistimed that it actually took me out of the movie for a second, and I knew what was going on because I’m familiar with the comics. I can’t imagine how it must be for someone who doesn’t know who all these characters are and what their roles are in the comics. The set-ups themselves are not bad but they come right before the climax. This disrupts any tension that the movie had been building as it moved up to Doomsday in the Kryptonian ship.

This leads me to the biggest spoiler of the movie, the “death” of Superman at Doomsday’s hand. How well this works for you is dependent on what you think of Superman as a character and where you think he’s at in his development in this movie. For me, I was genuinely shocked when Superman was killed and I applaud Zach Snyder for what he was trying to do—emphasis on ‘trying’–when he made that decision. The problem I have with it is that there’s no suspense. Death in movies works best when it actually sticks. I personally knew when they killed him that he’d be back(after all you can’t have a Justice League movie without Superman) but I was shocked when the grains of dirt began rising off the coffin in the last shot of the movie. I didn’t think they’d do it so soon and it made me as an audience member question the point of killing him in the first place.


I think I need to wrap this up before I pop a blood vessel or something equally unhealthy.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a dark film. A very dark film. I think part of this is that they are still trying to do with superheroes what Christopher Nolan did with Batman in the Dark Knight Trilogy where he applied superheroes to a real world scenario. The other part is I think a reaction to their primary competition at Marvel which are known for giving their heroes a light and playful tone more often than not. Neither of these are wrong in and of themselves. It’s good that DC wants to do something different with its movies and the The Dark Knight Trilogy, while still having problems, are a terrific set of movies to emulate. I don’t even mind these movies having a darker tone if it suits them. But there needs to be a point to the darkness. You can’t just have a movie, especially a superhero movie, be dark without giving the audience a reason for that tone beyond being dark and gritty for its own sake. This movie doesn’t have that reason and so it lacks a sense of purpose, almost having a nihilism to it that it doesn’t need to accomplish its goals. Worse, the filmmakers disrespect their audience by assuming they know what the audience wants better than they do. They think they want Batman and Superman, the two of the most iconic characters in history. It doesn’t matter how they’re shown, just put the names “Batman” and “Superman” into the title and people will pile into the seats to see it no matter what. And the sad thing is that they’re not wrong. This movie will make lots of money. Heck, it already has. But I’ve heard several movie pundits say about this movie that its not for kids. And that makes me sad. Because a movie about two icons like Batman and Superman should be for kids.

Remember my mention of David Goyer and him mocking fans of Martian Manhunter? You might be wondering what that had to do with Batman and Superman. Well, here’s the thing about this movie: This is not solely a movie for comic book geeks, but I think it underestimates how much people know about these characters, beyond their origin stories. We all know Batman and Superman because they have such an established presence in our lives. We learned about them when we were kids because we wanted to be like them. By talking down to the audience, the film alienates us from the experience, treating us like four-year-olds to wave candy in front of. Worse, it makes us wonder why these guys were so meaningful to us in the first place. For me, as a filmgoer, that makes me question why I’m sitting in the theater at all. That’s the last thing I want to think while watching a film called Batman v Superman. In fact, before the movie, there was a trailer for Lego Batman and I looking back that I found that two minute long trailer far more enjoyable than the two-and-a-half hour long movie I watched. And I don’t think I was alone in that feeling.

This is the movie we got, and the fact it was made at all is a remarkable feat. A lot of people worked very hard to bring it to us. But for a film with two figures like these, shouldn’t we expect more? For that reason I can only recommend watching it if you are insatiably curious. Or perhaps you just want to watch a mindless action flick with superheroes in it. If so, more power to you. Enjoy yourself. But for me, this was a movie that definitely flew too near the sun.

What did you guys think of the movie? Do you agree with my thoughts? Where do you disagree? What did you like so much about it? Is there something that you’d like me to review? Let me know in the comments below or share this review with your friends and talk to them about it.

You can find me on twitter @Lightwielder524. Until next time, have a great week and May the Flick be with You!


(2014, May 21). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

Allegiant Review Cancelled

Due to time constraints and other reasons that I will detail in my next review, I will not be reviewing The Divergent Series: Allegiant this week. Instead, I’ll probably give my thoughts on it in my first editorial over the merits and flaws of Young-Adult fiction adaptations next Thursday.

As always, have a great week and May the Flick be with You!

The Mask of Zorro Review: A Film out of its time

Antonio Banderas stars as Zorro, the gallant bandit-turned-hero who saves his people from the hands of the evil Don Rafael Montero in the TriStar Pictures presentation, The Mask of Zorro. Distributed by Columbia TriStar Films (UK). Motion Picture Artwork & Photography 1998 TriStar Pictures Inc. All rights reserved. Copyright Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.1998. All rights reserved. Permission granted for reproduction in newspapers and periodicals only. Use of this photograph in books, retrospectives or biographies, or in connection with the sale or advertising of posters or any other production or service, or in any other manner not expressly permitted herein, is prohibited except with the written permission of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Photo credit: Rico Torres The Mask of Zorro will be released by Columbia TriStar Films (UK) on Friday 11th December 1998 across the UK. UK.

Hey, everyone! Welcome to this review of The Mask of Zorro (1998). For the sake of those who’ve not seen this movie I will avoid giving away any spoilers for the movie so you can enjoy it for yourselves.

To give some background on this movie, Zorro is a character who was created in 1919 by Johnston McCulley. Set in California and Mexico during the 1840s, Zorro stories detailed stories of the young, foppish, bumbling nobleman Don Diego de la Vega as he fights for the common folk of his land against their corrupt governors as the dashing and daring black-cloaked outlaw, Zorro.

Taking obvious inspiration for the character from such literary legends as Robin Hood, The Scarlett Pimpernel, and others, Zorro first appeared in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly. Pulp magazines were an inexpensive form of enterainment back in the early 20th century, operating similarly to how television works today, and were often heavily serialized.

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What made Zorro truly famous however, was his first film appearance in The Mark of Zorro, a silent film in 1920. Made by the great Douglas Fairbanks it showed off and action rogue who had charisma, mystery, and was fun to watch and audiences loved it. The Mark of Zorro is often credited as setting the standard for action films throughout the remainder of the century. So why is this important?

Well, like all great characters and properties, Zorro has had his ups and downs. He saw much popularity through the 20s and 30s as Fairbanks continued to play the character but after 1940 he disappeared from the public eye (possibly due to the culture of World War II that had been established in America at the time) and a new Zorro movie was not released until 1958. From there through the 60s and 70s, the Zorro franchise only saw middling reception from audiences who had moved on from him to anti-heroes like Dirty Harry. Zorro was no longer cool. He was a cliché; a relic.

By the 1980s, Zorro had become little more than a punch line, inspiring a parody of the character by George Hamilton called Zorro, the Gay Blade. From that point it looked as though Zorro was fated to ride off into the sunset to be forgotten. But in 1996 the film rights for Zorro were picked up by Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment.

Working with TriStar they started working on producing a film that would make Zorro more of a down-to-earth hero where Don Diego would pass the torch to a new generation. The new film went through a number of production hiccups and several directors (including a young Robert Rodriguez) before settling on Martin Campbell, with Anthony Hopkins [fresh off of Silence of the Lambs and Amistad] as Don Diego and mexican actor Antonio Banderez as the new Zorro. The result of their efforts was the film called The Mask of Zorro, released in 1998.

Let me make this absolutely clear. I. LOVE. THIS FILM. It is one of my personal favorite action movies of all time, mixing a dramatic and heartfelt revenge story with exciting sword-fights and horse chases that keep you invested straight from the get go. Is it perfect? No, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The movie starts with Zorro’s(Anthony Hopkins) quest to defeat his sworn-enemy, Governor Don Rafael Montero(Stuart Wilson), seemingly over as Montero is forced to leave California. Zorro returns home to retire his mantle and live out the rest of his days as Don Diego de la Vega with his wife and their child, Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Montero however, refuses to leave without a parting shot that leaves Don Diego’s life in ruins. Twenty years later, Montero returns with some new design for California. Determined to stop him and claim his revenge and his long-lost daughter, Don Diego escapes and enlists the help of a young former thief named Alejandro Murrieta(Antonio Banderas) who he trains to become his successor as the new Zorro.

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The characters in this movie are amazing, especially Alejandro and Don Diego. Banderas is great as the well-meaning buffoonish thief who still has an edge to him that makes him human. His comedy chops are impressive and help to lend a good deal of levity to a film that has a lot of very dark elements. Anthony Hopkins is terrific as always playing the tormented Don Diego, though he’s not given as much room to work with as Banderas. He goes from rage when facing Montero, to calm control as he’s training Alejandro, to subtle regret in his scenes with Elena. It’s a very well done performance and gives and understanding of the mindset of a man who has had his whole life torn apart after giving years of his life to helping the people.

Of course, our heroes are only as good as the villains they face. While Stuart Wilson as Montero is an enjoyable, he sometimes feels like a bit of a Bond villain that does things simply because he wants power and because he’s the sworn enemy of Zorro. Fortunately, this is made up for by Matt Letscher as Cavalry Captain Harrison Love. He brings with him a brutal menace and a dark sadism that makes him very intimidating and a great opponent for the new brash Zorro.

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That brings me to another great thing about this movie: the action. The sword choreography was done by a man named Bob Anderson, a swordsman who trained movie fighters for everything from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back to eventually training the fighters in The Lord of the Rings. It has a dance like quality to it that still feels real based on the energy of the characters and the situation. In addition to the phenomenal sword-fights, there’s a really fun horse chase that harkens back to the old days of movie stunt-work where stunt-men were continually risking life and limb to get the best shot on camera, and it shows a great deal of how much of this movie was done practically with live sets instead of CGI. This is significant because when Mask of Zorro was made, movies were in a period of time during the late 1990s where entire films all about the special effects. Disaster movies such as Independence Day, Godzilla, Armageddon and many others were created around the computer generated imagery, thinking that all they had to do to make a profit for their movies was to give the audience what amounted to a glorified light show. You can make the argument we’re seeing that again with movies like the Transformers films but that’s a conversation for another time.

By using largely practical stunt work and effects—including the largest actual explosion ever filmed at the time—The Mask of Zorro felt, for lack of a better term, more real. The stuntwork is such that you believe a guy in a black cloak and mask could do the things that you’re seeing. That’s the key to a successful illusion; what filmmakers and storytellers refer to as ‘suspension of disbelief’.

All of this is complemented by the authenticity of the set design and a beautiful score by James Horner (known for his work on movies such as Titanic, Apollo 13, and Braveheart). The score has a Latin-esque feel to it that sounds like an homage to the romantic delusions of the old school heroes that Zorro often personified.

So now that I’ve gushed about how great this movie is, what problems could it possibly have?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, Montero as the main villain lands with a bit of a thud, often being outdone by his more menacing lieutenant, Captain Love. This is further complicated by an evil plan that is not entirely clear beyond how our villains intend to fulfill their plot.

The other major problem with this movie lies in Catherine Zeta-Jones as Elena, Don Diego’s lost daughter. She’s the obvious love-interest for our hero and she plays a very vital role in the plot that I won’t spoil for you. However, she’s never given much development as a character. That is to say, she doesn’t make choices because of who she is, but rather because the plot says that’s what she was supposed to do. This is not a slight against Zeta-Jones’ acting ability—she has several scenes that she manages to convey a lot of emotion—but more the script she was given. It feels as if the writers didn’t have enough time to properly flesh her out when the project was in the cutting room for editing.

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Also, remember how I went on about the score earlier? Well, the end credits don’t have the score on them. Instead they have a “hip” lyrical soundtrack in a way that was very popular back in the 90s, especially after Celine Dion did her number on Titanic. I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way, but whenever I watch a movie from the 90s, I always cringe whenever the titles start and one of those soundtracks starts. It’s become like a reflex action.

Overall, as a film, The Mask of Zorro is a flawed but fun action-adventure movie with exciting sword-fights and interesting characters that I would wholeheartedly recommend for anyone who hasn’t seen it. For those of you who have seen it, do you agree with me? What is your opinion on this movie?

Next Week: We shoot into the current popular dystopian young adult fictional adaptation where you’re entire future is determined by your Meyer’s-Briggs test with The Divergent Series: Allegiant 

What do you guys think of the reviews so far? Is there an older movie you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section below or find me on Twitter @LightWielder524

Have a great week and as always, May the Flick be with you!

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