‘Justice League’ review: Team Chemistry Saves the Day in Superhero Ensemble Film

By Jordan Peterson |


Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons, from left) cohorts with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Batman (Ben Affleck) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) in “Justice League.” | Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds
Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi violence and action)
Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.

The highest praise I can allot Justice League is that I laughed and smiled more than I yawned. And I yawned a lot. Perhaps because my particular screening was late at night and I have a fairly lengthy drive to and from the theater. Yes, I’m sure that was at least some part of it. Yet as I sat watching DC’s take on Marvel’s The Avengers, I couldn’t shake the overhanging cloud of tedium. I’ve seen this all before and in better films.

Instead of Infinity Stones (the coveted power gems of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), this time we get Mother Boxes. They’re essentially three glowing cubes that, when brought together, are capable of turning any planet into Apokolips. That’s the obligatory dark, lava-bursting hell that giant CGI monstrosity Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) calls home.

As it turns out, all three Mother Boxes are here on Earth and have been split up and secretly stowed away for millennia least they should fall into the wrong hands (because that always works). The first is locked in a vault on Themyscira, the indivisible island of the Amazons. The second lies at the bottom of the ocean in Atlantis. The third is buried under a mere few feet of loose dirt somewhere in Scandinavia.

Like most superhero movie MacGuffins, the Mother Boxes are shrouded in an expositional haze. We get little insight into what they actually are but loads of convenient backstory pertaining to their history on Earth. In addition to weighing down the first act, these flashbacks also feature some kickass action sequences. One in particular sees the Amazons playing an exciting and elaborate game of Keep Away with Steppenwolf.

For as much ado as there is about the Mother Boxes, they’re really just there to serve as the catalyst that brings Steppenwolf and his hoard of fear-feeding Parademons to Earth, ultimately uniting the Justice League. Being an ensemble piece, we catch only brief glimpses into the lives of newcomers Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa); Victor Stone, aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher); and Barry Allen, aka the Flash (Ezra Miller), before Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman round them all up.

After some heavy-handed and predictable hesitation on the part of a couple members, the Justice League finally assembles. That’s where Justice League the film finds its stride. The chemistry amongst this talented and beautiful roster is infectious and their character dynamics are rich. It’s a joy watching these super friends figure each other out while in the process cracking quips and getting into fights. Throughout the ups and downs (of which there are plenty), their bonds hold like glue. Standouts include Batfleck as well as Ray Fisher, who, in his feature film debut, makes a strong impact as a relatively B-list character.

The biggest problem with Justice League isn’t its inconsistent visual effects or bland and noisy third act. This film’s Kryptonite is its mandated two-hour running time. There is so much story to convey and so many characters to justify that it’s almost exhausting trying to keep up with each vignette. Not to mention certain dramatic moments are softened because they’re not allowed to breath before the next action extravaganza begins.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️ 1/2 (out of four)

What did you all think of Justice League? Again, this seems to be another divisive entry into the DC Extended Universe. Where do you fall? Let me know in the comments below!


‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Review: Third time’s almost too charming

By Jordan Peterson |


Thor leads his Revengers into battle in “Thor: Ragnarok.” | Walt Disney Pictures

Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, Benedict Cumberbatch
Release date: November 3, 2017
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material)
Running time:
 2 hr. 10 min.

Right out the gate (or cage, as the case may be), Thor: Ragnarok sets itself apart from its predecessors. For better and worse, it’s less “Shakespeare in the park” and more Flash Gordon (which ‘Ragnarok’ director Taika Waititi has cited as his film’s biggest influence). This threequel rapturously embraces the inherent silliness that comes with the territory of an Old English-speaking, macho prince who flies around with a giant mallet and travels to other worlds via a rainbow bridge.

This time out, the Norse God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) is kicked off said bridge (referred to more seriously as the “Bifrost”) during a skirmish with Cate Blanchett’s Hela shortly after she destroys his trusty hammer, Mjölnir. Our hero crash lands on Sakaar where he is immediately abducted and sold to an eccentric ringleader who calls himself the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and forces Thor to compete in a sadistic, gladiator-style Contest of Champions against a “friend from work” in the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

It’s a fun, elaborate setup that largely serves as an excuse to pair Thor with Hulk for an intergalactic road trip comedy courtesy of Taika Waititi (What We Do In the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and if looked at through that prism, Thor: Ragnarok is a roaring success. Hemsworth and Ruffalo have great chemistry on screen and their characters hilariously rip on each other like a couple of bratty teenagers. My eyes were watery for most of the film simply because I was laughing so hard.

At the same time, I was disappointed by how frequently those same jokes seemed to undermine the characters and previous installments. The brooding Bruce Banner from Avengers: Age of Ultron should be even more dismayed given certain revelations in ‘Ragnarok.’ Instead, his situation is made light of and any concerns that you or he may have are brushed aside either for the next laugh or GC-eye candy set piece. Throughout, I couldn’t help but wonder why a studio like Marvel would go through the trouble of establishing and then selling audiences on a shared, cinematic experience only to dishonor that continuity with films like Thor: Ragnarok.

Despite the gimmicky appeal of a cinematic universe, action is still the bread and butter of any superhero movie. In that sense, Thor: Ragnarok is absolutely loaded with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. A select few fights are an absolute spectacle to behold, but the action overall lacks a serious sense of stakes. Thor can only annihilate so many waves of nameless henchmen on his own before I stop buying that anyone is in any real peril.

Still, by the time the lights came up, I couldn’t deny how much fun (buzz word) I had with this film. Outside the jokes, each frame is brimming with color and imagination and the cast is wonderful. In particular, Jeff Goldblum is infectiously quirky and Tessa Thompson steals almost every scene she’s in as the badass Valkyrie.

Whatever thoughts you may have in your head walking out of Thor: Ragnarok, I guarantee there’ll be a smile on your face.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Out of four)

Have you had a chance to check out Thor: Ragnarok yet? If so, what did you think? Did you have a good time? Let me know in the comments below!

31 Days of Halloween: 5 Unique Murder Mysteries More Deserving of Your Time Than ‘The Snowman’

This weekend sees the release of The Snowman, a whodunit thriller based on Joe Nesbo’s best-selling novel of the same name. The flick is directed by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy) and stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, and Val Kilmer. With so much notable talent involved, one can’t help but get excited.

Unfortunately, The Snowman is getting murdered by critics and Alfredson has  recently gone on record as saying that the production was rushed and that he wasn’t able to shoot all the footage he needed to tell the story.

In lieu of this sad revelation, I’ve stitched together a list of some of the best movies the murder mystery genre has to offer as alternative viewing options. Save your hard-earned money and actually enjoy yourself with one (or all) of these unique whodunit flicks:

5.) Blood and Black Lace (1964)


Director: Mario Bava

What’s it about?

A mysterious masked killer brutally picks off fashion models at a Roman beauty pageant one by one.

What makes it unique?

Though lite on story, Blood and Black Lace seduces viewers with dazzling, dreamlike aesthetics and its mysterious murderer dispatches his victims in shocking, blood-soaked fashion (especially for its time). Italian filmmaker Mario Bava (A Bay of Blood, Black Sunday) trained as a painter before transitioning into filmmaking and it shows. Each frame is a canvas gushing with eye-popping colors and contrasting deep shadows with intimately detailed wardrobes and backdrops. It also features one of cinema’s first masked serial killers.

4.) The Ghost Writer (2010)


Director: Roman Polanski

What’s it about?

A ghost writer is hired to complete the memoirs of a former British Prime minister. It seems like the gig of a lifetime until he begins to uncover evidence that suggest his late predecessor knew some dangerous secrets.

What makes it unique?

Out of any other film on this list, The Ghost Writer probably best fits the mold when it comes to what you expect from a political murder mystery. It’s polished, perplexing, dark, sexy, scandalous, and tense. What makes this film unique is how tightly all those expectations are serviced by the overall narrative in conjunction with a strong leading performance by Ewan McGregor.

3.) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)


Director: Shane Black

What’s it about?

After a botched robbery, a thief mistakenly cons his way into the lead role in an upcoming film. Producers fly him to set in L.A. where he meets up with a private eye and gets tangled up in a murder case.

What makes it unique?

Writer/Director Shane Black (The Nice Guys, Iron Man 3) is a filmmaker with a singular vision. He packs this neo-noir satire with his signature wit and humor without ever losing sight of what makes his characters feel real. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer are electric together on screen and both tastefully tow the line between drama and comedy. In short: this quirky film is a personality that you should associate yourself with. You’ll be happy you did.

2.) Source Code (2011)


Director: Duncan Jones (Fun fact: Jones is the son of David Bowie)

What’s it about?

A soldier wakes up in the body of another man and discovers he is part of an experimental government program which allows him to continually relive the same 8 minutes prior to the explosion of a commuter train. His task: hunt down the bomber and save the lives of everybody on board.

What makes it unique?

With such a convoluted, repetitive premise, Source Code is a film that just shouldn’t work, yet does. A lot of that credit goes to Jones, who perfectly mixes heady sci-fi with heartwarming romance. You don’t mind the familiar Groundhog Day shtick of the whole thing because Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan are so irresistibly charming together. They make each encounter feel new. Plus Jones has a steady handle on the pacing of his action sequences when it comes time for the film to kick into high gear, so you’re never too caught up in the mind-bending minutia of it all.

1.) Mother (2010)


Director: Bong Joon-ho

What’s it about?

A desperate mother tries to exonerate her mentally handicapped son of murder by hunting down the killer who framed him for the grizzly slaying of a young girl.

What makes it unique?

Writer/director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, The Host, Okja) has perfected the balance of humor and heart palpitating tension. Mother doesn’t shy away from the darker, more brutal elements of its story, but it’s also not overbearingly serious. Also, the performances are outstanding. In particular,  Hye-ja Kim wrecks it as the titular Mother, giving such a varied performance.

Did you see The Snowman? If so, did you regret not checking out one of these flicks instead? What murder mysteries would you include on your list? Let me know in the comments below!

31 Days of Halloween: ‘The Snowman’ review: Laughable thriller melts in the light of mediocrity 

By Jordan Peterson |

Michael Fassbender plays tortured detective Harry Hole in “The Snowman.” | Universal Pictures

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Release date: October 20, 2017
Rated: R (for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity)
Running time: 1 hr. 59 min.

Before the movie even hit theaters, director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) was already dissing his own film, a murder mystery called The Snowman based on the best-selling Scandinavian novel of the same name by Jo Nesbo.
Alfredson claimed the production in Norway was rushed and consequently “10-15%” of the film was not shot. Unfortunately, that only begins to scratch the surface of some of this film’s more peculiar ailments.

Take, for instance, Michael Fassbender’s Harry Hole (what? That’s his name!). He’s a scowling detective whom we’re supposed to buy as brilliant but tortured (aren’t they all?). The tortured angle is easy enough to stomach. He’s constantly passing out drunk in public, disappointing his would-be step-son, and taking other people’s’ belongings (in other words, he’s a shitty dude).

What’s not such an easy sell is all the stuff about Harry being a cop of many merits. For most of the movie, my eyes were watery from laughing so hard at how amateurish this “legendary” detective acted (there’s a scene where Harry is completely bewildered at how alike the crude stick figure drawing of a snowman the police received from the killer seems to be to one of the actual snowmen found at the scene of a crime, as if he’d never before seen a snowman in his life). Once Harry does finally figure out the unimpressive twist, I’d already been waiting half a film for him to catch up.

It doesn’t help matters that Harry’s partner Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson) is just as basic and inept. She’s the young, spitfire officer who wants to solve the case for reasons that hit close to home. The problem is that her methods are laughably immoral and unprofessional and not in the compelling, vigilante kind of way. She simply goes places and witnesses crucial events without ever informing anybody just so certain, meaningless events can unfold later.

The big stink of all this is that Harry and Katrine’s relationship ultimately means squat by the time credits roll. At the heart of any strong buddy-cop film are those reluctant bonding sessions shared between unlikely partners. Though The Snowman has its share of similar scenes, the script seems to hit the reset button on everybody come the end of the film. Nobody seems truly affected by what transpired.

Perhaps the most peculiar letdown here is the Snowman killer himself. Not only is his/her identity blandly obvious by halfway through, but the marketing for this film promised a grim, cat-n-mouse thriller. The sad truth is that the police receive one letter from the killer (they don’t even explore any possible motive for such an action). That’s as much play as their is between cop and criminal.

And don’t get me started on the cartoony methodology behind taking the time after a murder to build a snowman.

Verdict: 🎃 (out of four)

Did you get a chance to check out The Snowman? If so, what were your thoughts? Did you read the book? Is it worth picking up? I want to hear from you, so hit me up in the comments below!

Han Solo ‘Star Wars’ spin-off wraps production, gets an official title and logo

By Jordan Peterson |


After a historically troubled production (read about it here), Director Ron Howard took to Twitter today to official announce that the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie has wrapped production. Howard’s tweet also revealed that the official name for the aforementioned space adventure is Solo: A Star Wars Story. In addition, we also got a look at the film’s new logo.

Catch Ron Howard’s tweet below.

Hey #Twitterville we just wrapped production so here’s a special message #StarWars pic.twitter.com/8QJqN5BGxr

— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) October 17, 2017

What do you think of this new title and are you surprised at all? Let me know in the comments below. I want to hear your thoughts!

31 Days of Halloween: ‘Happy Death Day’ (2017)– Video Review

Did good things happen when Scream met Groundhog Day on Friday the 13th? Check out my video review for Happy Death Day and find out for yourself!

What did you all think of Happy Death Day? Where you entertained by this quirky slasher or were you not impressed? Hit me up in the comments below, I want to hear your thoughts!

31 Days of Halloween: Review: Star-making performance carries Blumhouse to another victory in ‘Happy Death Day’

By Jordan Peterson |


A baby-faced killer stalks Jessica Rothe in “Happy Death Day.” | Universal Studios

Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Laura Clifton
Release date: October 13th, 2017
Rated: PG-13 (for violence/terror, crude sexual content, language, some drug material and partial nudity)
Running time: 1 hour and 36 minutes

“Get up. Live your day. Get killed. Again.”

If the tagline for Blumhouse’s latest low-budget horror flick, Happy Death Day, sounds familiar, that’s because it’s essentially a variation on Edge of Tomorrow‘s “Live. Die. Repeat.” Both films sample the catchy Groundhog Day hook where somebody must re-live the same twenty-four hour duration over and over and over again until they’ve learned some valuable life lesson or accomplished some meaningful task (or both).

In Happy Death Day that somebody is Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), a sorority mean girl trapped inside the day of her murder (also her birthday) until she can unmask her baby-faced killer and learn to be a better person.

It couldn’t hurt, either. The first time we meet Tree, the snarky party girl is waking with a hangover in the bed of a sweet nerdy guy named Carter (Isreal Broussard) after a night of intoxicated debauchery. He folded her pants and offers her water and Ibuprofen, yet Tree’s only concern is making sure nobody ever finds out about their one-night stand.

Tree treats everybody in her life with similar disgust. That is, of course, except one hunky professor with whom she regularly helps commit adultery. So it’s no surprise that once the time comes to whip up a list of people who might want her dead, Tree doesn’t even bother.

Though it’s initially played for laughs, we eventually learn that deep down Tree truly hates herself. Not a shocker, I know. You need only flip on any T.V. show to find this exact trope playing out in one form or another. The difference here, however, is star Jessica Rothe (who briefly shared the screen alongside Emma Stone in La La Land).

Though it takes some time before Rothe is given much to do outside scowl, her infectious charisma ultimately wins the day. Happy Death Day is at its very best when she is allowed to embrace her inner-jokester. In between, Rothe serves the more somber, character moments with just the right amount of ham.

Verdict: 🎃🎃🎃 (out of four)

Did you all get a chance to catch Happy Death Day? What did you think? Was it everything you hoped a Scream and Groundhog Day crossover would be? Hit me up in the comments below. I want to hear from you!