Locked Down Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

We have all come to terms with the fact that some screenwriters out there will write a story based on the nightmare that is Covid-19. Everyone copes with the pandemic in different ways, some rather not see the reality of it on screen and others want to laugh about the stupidity that has gone on during the pandemic. The new HBO Max Original Locked Down gives audiences the realistic slice of hell that we’ve all been living in while trapped in our homes. As a matter of fact, as I’m writing this my province has declared a second state of emergency.

People may be turned off by the pandemic nature of the story but it’s such a minor aspect of the film itself. It really is about two people, who have grown apart and are forced to face their issues during the two weeks in isolation. Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have had a very strained relationship. Linda is now working as a CEO for Harrod’s and Paxton is a service worker who delivers packages. Linda promises that after the two weeks she will leave Paxton and they have fair arguments during their remaining days as a couple.

(left) Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Courtesy of WarnerMedia

The film sheds light on how mentally straining isolation can be and the different ways people were coping with the stress. 2020 was a mentally draining year and to show what people were going through within the first two weeks was very realistic and somewhat comforting. It’s more of a “yes, I totally understand how they’re feeling” versus “how dare they show us this in a movie when we’re living it”. It was actually nice to watch a film about the psychological effects of this pandemic with actors who have a very comforting screen presence. It also had some humorous moments that anyone can relate to during the pandemic.

It was a story about relationships and how everyone was forced to look at who they were individually before looking at their partner. It’s well-written because it touches upon different dynamics and different experiences across the globe. Locked Down is an enjoyable film that has great performances from Ejiofor and Hathaway, their chemistry was great. Their journey as a couple, in a strained relationship, trying to salvage their former adventurous lifestyle, with a heist was really fun to watch. The ending of the film was actually perfect and pretty funny!

If you want to check out this pandemic based film, you can catch it on HBO Max January 14th!

Superintelligence Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Superintelligence is a Ben Falcone film in every aspect. It stars his wonderful wife, Melissa McCarthy and has a very unique concept that doesn’t quite stick. Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), a former corporate executive, has her life turned upside down when she is selected for observation by the world’s first super-intelligence – an A.I. that could possibly take over the world.

The premise does sound like something that could work but for an action comedy, the humour was severely lacking. Perhaps the slapstick comedy does not work for me anymore but I have to address the fact that it has been used with heavier set actors for as long as I can remember. It just doesn’t work for me at all but to each their own because comedy is personal. It just wasn’t funny, you could see the attempts to set up the jokes but they just didn’t land and it was a hard film to sit through because of it.

What was even worse was that they cast James Corden as the voice of the A.I. The film honestly had this obscurity to it that I can’t even explain, it just felt off from the second it started and then it just went on without any substance. It’s upsetting to watch a comedy and not laugh at all and I love Melissa McCarthy. There are moments where it does get better but then it falls apart again. What was the most frustrating was that Bobby Cannavale and Brian Tyree Henry (who have great comedic timing) were wasted in this film.

Superintelligence has a strong premise and a message about technological advancements eventually becoming a dangerous problem in our lives but the execution was lacking. For an action comedy to lack proper form in a joke set up is very telling about the experience you will have while watching this. Again, comedy is personal but this was the first miss for HBO Max.

The Witches (2020) Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

The Witches directed by Robert Zemeckis is a fun, family friendly, adventure film that modernizes Roald Dahl’s book. Everyone can look back on their childhood and remember something that absolutely terrified them. Some may have been scared of clowns, vampires or even werewolves (specifically to me, Michael Jackson in the Thriller music video) but the young boy in this film has an encounter with witches.

A Robert Zemeckis film is always incredibly entertaining and inventive. The story is adapted very well and the structure of the narrative made sense for a modern audience. The film begins with a slideshow and voice over by an older character (Chris Rock), retelling his encounter with witches when he was younger. It was really effective to format the film in this way because it was much easier to follow.

The film feels really extravagant because of its elaborate production and costume designs. There are so many vibrant colours used and the palette feels as whimsical as the witches themselves. Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, was perfect casting and her accent was probably the funniest aspect because of the play on words for her dialogue. Octavia Spencer was a ball of light as the young boy’s Grandmother and her energy was infectious.

The Witches is a modernized version of the old tale and it feels nostalgic at the same time. This is a film that will bring the whole family together for the month of Halloween. It is filled with incredibly cute moments and some special effects that will leave you a bit spooked. Zemeckis captures the same magic that makes all Roald Dahl adaptations special.

Make sure to catch The Witches on HBO Max on October 22nd!

HBO Max Original: UNPregnant Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

UNpregnant is one of the best films of the year! It is a buddy comedy, that rekindles the relationship between two former best friends, Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) and Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), as they journey across state lines to get an abortion. It is adapted from the novel, under the same name, written by Jenni Hendriks.

First of all, this film is incredibly important because of how informative it is on the topic of abortion. In previous films or television shows, the topic of abortion has always been this difficult thing to openly talk about. The right measures are usually never taken and it is always shown in a negative light. UNpregnant addresses all these unanswered questions and brings them to the forefront, all while adding a very humorous duo to keep the balance.

This is THE coming of age film that no one saw coming. Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira were dynamite together! They complimented each other so well and I really appreciated that they were both unapologetically themselves. Veronica and Bailey acknowledged their flaws and toxic traits but embraced who they were, which was great to see. What I really enjoyed was the exploration into each of their backstories and how they became separated from each other in high school.

The film had great pacing and there was never a dull moment because they continued to reveal small pieces of their friendship puzzle, throughout the film. On their journey to Albuquerque for the abortion, they meet some funny characters who end up helping them along the way. Veronica and Bailey also grow to understand the other a bit more and realize that their friendship holds more value than they remembered.

Courtesy of Berlanti Productions, HBO Films and Picturestart
(left) Barbie Ferreira and Haley Lu Richardson

The most important scene in this film is the entire abortion clinic sequence. It is done in such a tasteful manner because of the wonderful writing and direction from these two women, Jenni Hendriks and Rachel Lee Goldenberg. The right to choose and having the proper information are both incredibly important. I appreciated the fact that they created a safe, dreamlike space, to go through the entire process with Veronica.

UNpregnant is a totally fun, raunchy, and heartwarming coming of age film. This film will most definitely be discussed for its boldness, but timely position, on the topic of abortion. It is addressed in such a lighthearted way that the emotional moments are placed perfectly in the film, to rope you back into the reality of the situation. Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira are definitely the duo of the year!

Make sure to catch UNpregnant on HBO Max September 10th!

The Snyder Cut Journey & What We Can Expect

Since 2015, the road for Zack Snyder and DCEU fans has been a rocky one. The one moment in Hall H, when the Batman v Superman trailer came on and everyone went nuts, was the moment that changed the hype level for this franchise. However, after the release of the film, things took a turn for the worse.

The criticism for Batman v Superman hit the fan base hard and for many years, they had to defend Zack Snyder and his film. 4 years later the film is still very much divisive and constantly raises a negative discourse online. After Warner Brothers took the damage from Batman v Supermantheir next film, Suicide Squad, also faced harsh criticism online from everyone. The DCEU franchise has not had a very easy entry into the world of comic book films but the fans still had faith in Zack Snyder to deliver with Justice League.

PRE JUSTICE LEAGUE RELEASE

As they were filming Justice League, Zack Snyder would post updates on his Vero account, with storyboards, still pictures and behind the scene photos. In March 2017, it was reported by ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ that Zack and Deborah Snyder experienced a tragedy in their family, as their daughter, Autumn passed away from a suicide. It was rumoured, that Zack wanted to finish Justice League and asked Warner Brothers to postpone filming, but they refused and hired Joss Whedon to finish the film. Zack Snyder stepped down from his own film, to be with his family, as his work was slowly chopped up and left on the cutting room floor.

Joss Whedon stepped in and only used 10% of the Zack Snyder’s footage, which was already completed. The rest of the film was reworked and rewritten to fit Whedon’s vision of Justice League, which was released under Zack Snyder’s name for the final result. Joss Whedon had removed the heart of the Justice League, in his rewrite, as Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, was cast aside and given a much smaller role, as was intended. Whedon added a Russian family in the third act, which was apparently more important than the team development.

POST JUSTICE LEAGUE RELEASE

Fans could tell the difference from the very first Justice League trailer, which was all Zack Snyder’s footage, versus Joss Whedon’s version. The lighting was off, the atmosphere felt different, the humour was not the dark sarcasm, we were accustomed to in Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. It was a completely different film.

“Sources say “Justice League” reshoots have been used to punch up the dialogue. Whedon, the director of “The Avengers,” is well respected for his ability to create memorably wry exchanges between his characters.” – Justin Kroll, Brett Lang for Variety

The fans were skeptical with Joss Whedon’s vision because Zack Snyder’s vision, for the DCEU, was extremely different, than what the MCU had to offer and that was never seen as a bad thing. Whedon’s choices were very interesting and did not really capture the same essence that Zack Snyder had already put in place, in the previous two instalments of his Superman story arc. Majority of the final product felt forced and extremely rushed, leaving Warner Brothers with another bust at the box office. Justice League earned $228 million domestic and $656 million worldwide, as reported by Forbes’ it cost Warner Brothers more money to make it, than  it brought in.

This collage shows the differences from Zack Snyder’s film versus Joss Whedon’s reshoots.

ZSJL reshoots

Source: @Deven_Wagner on Twitter

 

The social platform ‘Vero’ is something Zack Snyder used throughout his journey on Justice League. In the early stages when Warner Brothers asked him to cut down his runtime.

ZSJL early vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

As Zack Snyder continued answering fan questions on his Vero people began to question what actually happened with Warner Brothers and Justice League. Zack did not watch Joss Whedon’s film, he stayed away from everything after he was forced to give up his film.

Exhibit A: Fans Asking Questions About Joss Whedon’s Cut of Justice League 

ZSJL 2 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Exhibit B: Zack Snyder Posting His Scene of Cyborg and His Family 

ZSJL 4 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Exhibit C: A Photo of Uxas Which Was NOT Used in Whedon’s Cut 

ZSJL 3 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

 

#ReleaseTheSnyderCut Movement 

On January 7th, the attention for #ReleaseTheSnyderCut gained a new momentum. Fans of the Snyder Cut stood outside the Warner Brothers Headquarters with a #ReleaseTheSnyderCut sign, showing them that fans do care about Zack Snyder’s full vision.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 2.31.58 PM

Source @BatmanNewsCom on Twitter

After this, the movement became stronger and fans of Zack Snyder continued to press on social media that his cut existed and was, in fact, real. There were multiple sources confirming and reassuring all of us that there was a cut and it would come out in due time. The hashtag went viral and the fans kept pushing for 4 years. It wasn’t until Zack Snyder posted this image on his Vero that fans really pushed the envelope on the movement.

ZSJL 1 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Zack Snyder showed fans the film reels of his original 214 minute cut that he has kept with him. It is real and it does exist. During all of this, there was also merchandise that was sold through Ink To The People that fans purchased to support the Snyder Cut and all proceeds went to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The fans were so incredibly dedicated to making sure that Zack Snyder’s full vision would be seen in whatever form because of the poor circumstances that caused him to step back. The fans believed that it was mishandled and that he deserved justice.

On the March 27th, 2020, the 4th Anniversary of the often divisive Batman v Superman, Zack hosted a watch party on Vero and that night, something very unexpected happened. It was the day that united the whole cast of Justice League, which made for a very emotional evening. Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck all used the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag on their social platforms.

Ben RTSCGal RTSCJason rtscRay RTSC

Shortly after, the hashtag grew stronger and continued to be the Number 1 trending topic for a couple of days. Fans continued to push and they started questioning when the official drop would be. The rumours began to swirl, claiming that Zack was going to strike a deal with HBO Max. Zack then wanted to host a Man of Steel watch party to restore some hope in the world.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 3.40.36 PM

Many people tuned in because there was a rumoured surprise at the end of the watch party. People claimed that Zack had some information on the Snyder Cut that he would share with us. He shared his storyboards and gave running commentary about the details he used in Man of Steel and then his wife, and executive producer Deborah Snyder, came and joined the party. After the film was over, Zack invited fans to ask questions on his Vero but what they did not expect, was Superman himself making an appearance. Henry Cavill showed up in his famous blue tank top and helped Zack Snyder reveal the official HBO Max poster for Zack Snyder’s Justice League’. There is no set date but it will be coming out in 2021.

JL official

Source: Warner Brothers and HBO Max

Love Letter To DCEU Fans

Zack Snyder’s Justice League Teaser Trailer 

 

JUSTICE CON & DC FANDOME 

Justice Con is a fanmade event, created by three, very dedicated women on Twitter and YouTube, @TheNerdQueens and @ya_girlmeg/Wonder Meg on both platforms.

Justice-Con-Logo-Featured

The con was a complete success and it was filled with so much positivity during those 2 days! Ray Fisher had his own panel and discussed Cyborg’s arc in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, he also addressed the alleged toxicity on set, with Joss Whedon in the director’s chair. Towards the end of his panel, Zack Snyder jumped in and the views skyrocketed. Fans loved seeing Zack and Ray interact on the livestream!

Right after, Zack Snyder had his panel and taught the fans about aspect ratios because he is using a different aspect ratio for the Snyder Cut. Zack also revealed a new t-shirt in honour of his daughter Autumn and his dedicated fanbase.

zs ap

It will be released over at Ink To The People and all proceeds will go to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Zack didn’t stop there, he gave us a short, 20 second clip of something fans have been waiting for. This little teaser got everyone excited for what we could expect at DC Fandome!

You can expect a darker version of Justice League with Victor Stone at the center of the story. Zack Snyder always intended to have Cyborg as the heart of Justice League and there are plenty of more scenes with him at the forefront. There are possible Martian Manhunter scenes, more of J.K. Simmons Commissioner Gordon, a first look at Ryan Choi (Atom) working in Star Labs with Silas Stone and a possible Green Lantern cameo!

What we do know is that we are getting a full Zack Snyder’s Justice League trailer on August 22nd. So get your accounts ready, go schedule your panels and get ready to enter…. the SNYDERVERSE!