Tag Archives: Jesse Eisenberg

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

BATMAN V SUPERMAN

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or “BvS” picks up directly into the climatic battle between Superman and General Zod fighting over the city, but from the perspective of Bruce Wayne (Affleck) who witnesses death and destruction in the midst of the fight to the death between Krypton’s finest.

I have to say that when I decided to review this, I intentionally wanted to do this after my “Man of Steel” review I did a few moths back. That was until fellow Movie Burner Kevan recommend I view the ultimate edition before making my mind up on where I stood with The DCU’s latest instalment.

Coming in at just over 3 hours you could forgive me for telling Kevan to get on his bike after watching the first incarnation (theatrical cut) which I wasn’t to in awe with in the first place. One of the major issues I had with that version was the choppy pacing and plot of the movie. It felt rushed and key elements felt missing. But enough of that. I’m here to review the “Big One” yes as I said, 3 hours of Affleck’s Dark Knight and Cavill’s Son of Jor-El. Did it surprise me? Yes, It did in fact.

Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs. This is the basis of the plot and of course the title of the movie. What I liked though was that this was actually a side issue if you please if you look at it from the real villains point of view. Yes Lex Luther played by Jesse Eisenberg is surprisingly unhinged as the famous and traditionally Superman villain. The character at times was a little annoying but to be fair I liked Eisenberg’s take on the character. He was unassuming and unpredictable, key factors in any villainous role.

Affleck’s Batman is possibly the biggest surprise in this movie and an interesting entrance for the latest version of The Dark Knight. You have to appreciate that the last portrayal by Christian Bale of the character was almost perfect in every sense and it was only 2012 that he hung up the cape. Anyone filling those shoes would find it tough to be accepted by the average fanboy. Ben Affleck up to this point was making more heads turn for his writing and directorial work, so you can imagine not everyone was pleased by the appointment. This is why I feel that this Bruce Wayne is interesting in the fact that it isn’t an origins movie (although there are a few flashbacks scenes that don’t necessarily overshadow proceedings). We’re stepping into this characters story somewhere in between a weathered Batman and still has a fight in him Batman. It is shown on screen that he has already lost a sidekick to the joker on on of his displays and I felt this was something different that could be accepted.

Cavill just appears to be made for his role as Clark Kent / Superman in every sense. He was consistent in Man of Steel and really picks up where we last saw him with ease. But it has to be said that the character is a lot darker in BvS. I suppose in the previous film you could get away with the introduction of the character finding his way and place in the world. Here that is established and that is credit to writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer for giving the character another dimension.

The reintroduction to Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White and Diane Lane’s Martha Kent cements the continuity from MoS to BvS flawlessly. All three of them have bigger part to play and have enough screen time to make an impact. Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman is something that didn’t need to be there and along with some video footage of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg was there to set us up for The Justice League Movie a year down the line. It didn’t hinder or distract the audience from the storyline. In fact, it excited fans and hinted what was coming next.

The above is basically what I would have said about either version of the film if I’m being honest. The cast wasn’t the issue, nor was the storyline. It felt The had so much material that the decision was made to cut some interesting sequences to narrow the running time down a bit, resulting in a jolting and off the pace movie. This ultimate edition fills the holes in and as a result helps keep the flow of the movie going and keeping you entertained which is strange for a movie this length.

Visually Zack Snyder’s hands are all over this. The graininess of Man of Steel is still evident and I’m glad. The shades and colour schemes once more are like another character in the movie and gives it an edge that I’ve always enjoyed from Snyder. Did the movie still have issues after viewing the extended cut? Of course it did, but this version helped me to enjoy and absorb this universe a little easier. Some of the sub plot wasn’t exactly that interesting to begin with and the whole Martha Kent / Martha Wayne revelation still has me sniggering a bit.

Overall BvS could have been much more. But the Ultimate Edition is the only version I will watch now for its filling in the pacing a bit better and to be honest. The expectation of a Batman/ Superman face off is far greater than what actually came out but I can accept that as I don’t regard this as a bad movie at all. It is entertaining and multiple viewings are required to absorb the plot. If you haven’t seen BvS (any version) I would recommend the ultimate edition. If you have seen the theatrical cut and were initially put off (like me) I would give this one a chance. Recommend.

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The End of the Tour (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

END OF THE TOUR

Director: James Ponsoldt
Writers: Donald Margulies (screenplay),  David Lipsky (book)
Stars: Jason Segel,  Jesse Eisenberg,  Anna Chlumsky, Ron Livingston, Joan Cusack

The End of the Tour begins in David Lipsky’s apartment whilst working on his computer receives a call with some devastating news. The first sound we hear in the movie is R.E.M.’s “New Orleans Instrumental No. 1” from their 1992 album “Automatic for the People. What a fantastic track to set the tone of this movie and right away I’m there…..

Lipsky rummages around his apartment looking for some old cassettes (and batteries) from his interview with acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace.

In 1996, Rolling Stone Magazine writer David Lipsky (Eisenberg) begged his superior played by Ron Livingston and credited as “David Lipsky’s Editor” for a chance to interview Wallace (Siegel) on a book tour about his 1000 page epic novel, Infinite Jest, which he agrees to. Lipsky makes the journey to Wallace’s house in Minneapolis where he finds Wallace doesn’t look at all like he imagined. Wallace is tired, haggard with grunge like long hair.

Both Lipsky and Wallace on their initial meeting exchange small talk and over the course of a few days their relationship grows quite a bit. Lipsky (on whose memoir the film is based) having to balance his respect for the writer but at the same time concede Wallace is the superior writer between both of them and not forgetting his job as an interviewer. Jesse Eisenberg to me is a limited range actor. That’s not slating his abilities as all the parts I have seen him play in various genres are incomparable. He has chosen his parts over the past ten years extremely well. Here is another of those broken quick thinking personalities at which he excels in.

Whilst wary of his success, Wallace is aware that he’s been wired to want it and suspicious of the journalist who comes to interview him, but aware that there is a connection there it must be said that “End of the Tour”  doesn’t play up to intellectual snobbery on Wallace’s part or in fact Segal’s part portraying the writer but instead tries to understand the isolation and lack of trust to other people Wallace is experiencing. Segel is a revelation in this movie playing a very underwhelmed character which is a far cry from the sitcom / romcoms we are used to seeing him portray to  embodying a conflicted writer perfectly.

The supporting cast of Anna Chlumsky (My Girl) Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Joan Cusack (High Fidelity) were exactly that. Chlumsky’s role as Lipsky’s girlfriend Sarah was sparingly to say the least and mostly in the first fifteen minutes of the movie and albeit a couple of phone calls later in in the movie. Livingston’s appearance is more a cameo playing a Rolling Stone Magazine Editor at the beginning of the movie. Cusack came into the film at the midway point as Wallace’s driver. As interesting as the one on one intensity of the majority of the film focusing on the two main characters  Cusack’s “Patty” gave a freshness at the right time and at no point took us out of the movie.

Donald Margulies’ writing for the screenplay captures the relationship between the two troubled writers perfectly and draws you in to their intense and sometimes intimate conversations. Aided of course by Lipsky’s memoir book tells the tale of tragic tale of two insecure male egos clashing and follows both of their journeys to and from the book-signing session in Minneapolis. Margulies’ previous work in writing is mostly in television and TV Movies.

Director James Ponsoldt is aided by the brilliant performances by Eisenberg and especially Jason Segel which must have helped him tremendously. But Ponsoldt’s approach to this project never undersells the drama or the storyline, but actually enhances it with its documentary style effect of being right in the actors faces and portrays as a real life interview. The up close and personal style of the interviews reminded me of the now famous and legendary interview between Jan Wenner and John Lennon in 1970 in New York for Rolling Stone Magazine with enough insight to the artists thoughts, beliefs, fears and hopes.

Running in at 1 hour and 45 minutes the movie flew by so quickly. I have to confess that I didn’t have a clue who David Foster Wallace was and never heard of his breakthrough book Infinite Jest. Nevertheless, knowing all this is not required at all to be enthralled by this fascinating and utterly compelling film.

Now You See Me (2013) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

NOW YOU SEE ME

Director: Louis Leterrier 
Writers: Ed Solomon (screenplay), Boaz Yakin (screenplay) 
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine 

Now You See Me is about four magicians brought together by a mysterious hooded figure to perform the ultimate trick.

Each of the four magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher and Franco) are drafted in for their individual talents however these aren’t really highlighted or explored during the film in any great detail, although each are shown glimpses of what they can do in their introductions.

As for the story, the concept is original and the cast is jam packed with all stars giving good credible performances. The only issue I have is the lack of character development.

We don’t get any background information on any of the magicians (apart from Atlas and Henley who used to work together) That’s not to say that there is any lack of interesting characters, each of the “Four Horsemen” bring a very unique style to the movie and the sheer amount of talent present in each scene guarantees that you will be entertained.

As for the visuals, in the early part of the film has our street magicians working their magic while engaging in fast, and smart, patter.

The camera work in the early moments are irritating (moving, spinning, and swirling) and thankfully, this is short lived and dissipates as the movie moves on.

Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas has a real knack for playing arrogant, self assured characters (Social Network, Batman v Superman) Harrelson (Merrit McKinney) never disappoints in anything he does regardless of the quality of film (looking forward to seeing him in the Han Solo movie) Along with a solid performance by Fisher (Henley Reeves) and Franco as Jack Wilder playing a lesser role to the other three but who performs a great fight scene with Ruffalo in the last 3rd of the movie. (Like a Gambit v Hulk face off)

What appears at first is Ruffalo’s Character Dylan Rhodes (FBI) reminding me of Tommy Lee Jones’ Sam Gerrard from The Fugitive (1993) hunting the magicians down, but always a frustrating 3 steps behind them.

Rhodes is accompanied by Interpol’s Alma Dray played by the excellent French actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds (2009) who I feel keeps calm and grounded against Ruffalo’s character who appears to be losing it at times pursuing the magicians.

The Now You See Me supporting cast of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine (reunited a year after The Dark Knight Trilogy concluded) are used sparingly but are still used when it matters. Freeman is Thaddeus Bradley a “magic debunker” pursuing the four to expose their intentions and their magic for profit and fame, whilst Caine is Arthur Tressler who is the benefactor and founder of the show hosted by the magicians and is annoyed at Bradley’s meddling.

There is a twist at the end which I felt was a little predictable but I won’t go into that and if you haven’t viewed this movie from 2013 yet, I will let you work it out for yourselves.

Now You See Me is an okay entertaining film, which is worth a viewing. If you are a fan of heist or magic films you’ll enjoy it and may go back for multiple viewings. The pacing is consistent and the actors do a great job at delivering their lines. But to be honest I didn’t think Now You See Me warranted a sequel……or did it?