TL;DR This Week In Cinema: Batfleck Vs Superman Vs Wonder Woman Vs Others
Welcome to the BRAG's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. The folks over at DC are pooling the heroes of their expanded universe for one big all-in brawl, even if it comes rather late - Marvel are already teasing their third.
But hey, maybe you find Marvel's happy-go-lucky scamps to be all too flippant, without the seriousness that Christopher Nolan brought to comic book films. Maybe you've just been hankering for another slow-motion superfight from Zack Snyder. Maybe you've been recently lobotomised. If so, DC have you covered. Oh, and there's other films on, too.
BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
(AKA The Rise Of Batfleck) Superman (Henry Cavill), the Man of Steel, is a hero akin to a god, near invincible save for one crucial weakness. Batman (Ben Affleck) is a rich guy in power armour who punches poor people because his parents died. They have a difference of opinion and they're going to resolve it fistily, with a presumably vast amount of collateral damage.
The trailers (and extensive comic book lore) have already indicated that their rivalry is short-lived, given that DC's two flagship heroes can't possibly remain at odds if there's money to be made, and the presence of external threats in Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg at peak annoying) and Doomsday (thanks for that spoiler, trailers) make you wonder why they even went with the title in the first place.
It will be interesting to see how DC's gritty, frowny universe matches up with the hyper-colourful Marvel-sphere, and it's about time we saw Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) join the fray. Fingers crossed director Zack Snyder doesn't screw the pooch on this one.
tl;dr Keen fo dat super-smacktalk.
KUNG FU PANDA 3
Speaking of smacktalk, Dreamworks' fastest-talking furball is back for round three of the company's most enduring franchise since Shrek. After finally meeting his long-lost father (Bryan Cranston), the Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) is at last reunited with the Panda clan, just in time to train up the little ones to take on the threat of supernaturally gifted Kai (J.K. Simmons).
The cast alone is enough to warrant a viewing - you read that last paragraph, right? - and the franchise has always been a safe bet for serious fun. The third and "final" installment (yeah, right) promises more of the same visual flair and goofball comedy for which the series is loved.
tl;dr Non-stop panda fury.
A BIGGER SPLASH
Italian director Luca Guadagnino and ethereal goddess Tilda Swinton continue their love-affair in a sun-drenched poolside drama about people with more money than you who still aren't happy.
Swinton plays Marianne, a rock star stricken with a throat condition that renders her mute, who takes a holiday with boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) to a reclusive Italian island. There, everything is pristine and perfect, until Marianne's former lover Harry (Ralph Fiennes) rocks up with his newly discovered daughter (Dakota Johnson) in tow to stir up trouble.
Critics have paid particular note to Fiennes' hilarious turn as Harry, and Swinton silent or otherwise can reduce anyone alive to a quivering mess with a single stare. If you like your drama steeped in style, this may just be your jam.
tl;dr Wild SWINTON used GLARE!
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2
It's been 13 years since Nia Vardalos' Toula took the world by storm and walked down the aisle with Ian Miller (John Corbett) to the tune of a US$368.7 million worldwide box office gross. Why the wait for the sequel, then? It's personal, says Vardalos, but the timing felt right.
In a hilarious twist of fate, it turns out that Toula's overbearing, tradition-obsessed parents (Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine) have never been officially married, owing to paperwork problems. As a result, the family clusters for another enormous ceremony, whilst Toula's rebellious daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) clashes with her culture and her parents contend with their failing spark.
The first one managed to surprise us - after so long, could Vardalos have another hit on her hands?
tl;dr Get Her To The Greek.
EYE IN THE SKY
Mah boi Aaron Paul gets more facetime this week as a young American soldier tasked with pulling the trigger on targeted drone strikes; a man whose fits of conscience are at odds with the demands of his ruthless commander-in-chief, Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren).
The real drama unfolds in backrooms where Powell, determined to take down the terrorist cell she's pursued for months, is forced to debate the ethics of authorising the drone strike with American politicians and lawyers, while the cell prepares a potentially devastating suicide strike. There's an air of subtle satire as these powerful men and women debate the ethics of war from the comfort of their offices.
It's worth noting that one of her political opponents is the late and great Alan Rickman, in one of two posthumous appearances this year. We can only hope it's a good one.
tl;dr Why does the collateral always fall to Jesse?
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
As a cultural conversation piece alone, Batman Vs Superman warrants a viewing. It's unlikely to decisively elect a winner from its two heavyweight contenders, but it should at least end the debate over which comic book universe rules the screen. My money's on Marvel.
Until next week!