batman Ben Affleck

Some Movies to See This Weekend, March 25, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016 Rob Samuelson

This weekend features the release of two movies that share almost nothing in common. They are both sequels, though. They're on opposite ends of the filmmaking spectrum in terms of scope, budgets, and expected box office returns, but they inspire the same core worry: Each could be a watered down version of more successful things that came before. Let's see what Hollywood has planned for us.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot

First, the big one that everyone will see. After the “that could be cool” reaction to the idea of seeing Batman and Superman meet on the big screen for the first time faded, little about the lead-up to this movie has instilled me with confidence in its potential. Ben Affleck seems like a fine replacement for Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne-Batman, and the variety of suits he wears in the trailers certainly look cool. The action appears to be competently directed, which is to be expected from a filmmaker like Zack Snyder (Watchmen is unruly but ultimately a solid experience with exceptional action setpieces).

But everything else looks like a mess, with too many characters existing purely to set up other movies and/or sell toys, whether they make sense to be introduced here or not. Rumor has it that pretty much the entire Justice League league will at least make cameo appearances – Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman seems to have a semi-important role in this one's story – despite there being no context for them set up in Man of Steel a few years ago. Even in a dauntingly-long 151-minute runtime, the likelihood of Snyder and company being able to successfully establish a new Batman – this movie will act as if the Batman Begins-The Dark Knight-The Dark Knight Rises trilogy never existed – and Wonder Woman and Aquaman and the Flash and whoever else they have in mind for the upcoming Justice League team-up movie, plus develop Jesse Eisenberg's villainous Lex Luthor, and maybe have some time for a coherent plot is near zero. But hey, I'm wrong about things all the time.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Director: Kirk Jones
Writer: Nia Vardalos
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine

After Mad Max: Fury Road, I am forever hopeful that a years- or decades-later sequel will fundamentally change cinema for the better. So, 14-years-in-the-making My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, no pressure. This time around, Nia Vardalos and John Corbett play exhausted parents rather than a couple falling in love. They have a teenage daughter who wants her own space, but given the overbearing Greek family audiences came to love in the surprise-hit original, she ain't getting it. Plus there are some hijinks about the now grandparents discovering a paperwork mishap means they aren't technically married. Hence, there's a second big fat Greek wedding. It's all probably paint-by-numbers heartwarming, but so is the first one, and that's pretty good. If you don't want to be bludgeoned with characters and explosions, this is probably a nice counter-programming option.

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