Time for the next Double Feature! This time is a bit of a random combination as I take a look at 2017’s DC superhero film Justice League and Shudder exclusive horror film 31. Two movies that has been on my to-watch list for a little while but always a bit hesitant on it. Let’s check it out!
Director (and writer): Rob Zombie
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, Malcolm McDowell, Jane Carr, Judy Geeson, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, David Ury, Lew Temple, Torsten Voges, Elizabeth Daily
Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, hellish compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns. – IMDB
When we think about Rob Zombie movies, I’m fairly certain that’s a hit or miss deal, just like how we’d think about his version of Halloween brings up a lot of debate. With that said, 31 probably will fall in that same area. 31 is something of a Saw mixed with escape room deal. It takes a group of 5 carnival workers who get kidnapped into this sadistic game to survive 12 hours. This game that has never had survivors before suddenly is met with these five who turn out to be tougher than expected and take down these different sadistic clowns one after under. While their numbers also dwindle gradually, the game itself and the whole concept is done pretty well.
However, there are some serious execution issues that doesn’t quite strike a balance with its quick pacing. Usually with movies like this and ideal movie length, its hard to be very critical of its execution as it usually keeps the characters on their toes and becomes an exciting watch. Don’t get me wrong – it is a fun and rather intense watch. Each of these killer clowns also have their own unique qualities that give them their own edge. It all dials down to how these five taking down these clowns in a fairly swift manner actually brings in this element that these clowns aren’t on screen long enough to feel like they are deadly. It becomes obvious that the main showstopper is the first one that is in the opening scene, Doom-Head (Richard Brake) who does a stellar job and makes us wonder whether the film’s end game giving him the most depth and focus actually should have just been this sole much more capable threat than adding so much more.
To be fair, the five carnival workers is a good balance as well. They each have their own value in the group and its pretty fair game as they find their way to survive together and move on as they lose their own group one by one. Leading all this is tough chick, Charly, played by Sheri Moon Zombie who is no doubt meant to be the highlight of the film. She does a pretty good job at being the “final girl” candidate and in all reality, my only thought of question in a much more unimportant and random thought is how her little outfit stayed together through all the fighting, running and hiding.
31 is an okay movie. There are some issues with it and yet, there’s also some entertaining elements to it as well. Its ending a little questionable and will probably be debatable on who will like it and who won’t depending on how you like your movies to end.
Justice League (2016)
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, Ciaran Hinds, Amber Heard
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his new-found ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. – IMDB
DC Universe is still one that I’m catching up to gradually. Its been spotty at best to catch onto especially with Marvel Cinematic Universe’s earlier domination. However, the effort is there plus, I’m a fan of Gal Gadot played by Wonder Woman so why not, right? Thing is Justice League is like your typical superhero movie. Its nothing too different from what you’d expect and its hard to not compare it to something like The Avengers who had a lot of success when it first launched. Sure, its a different universe but then the story superhero movies do tell is about the same, seeing as I’m not a comic book fan so my focus on watching these films is more about enjoyment than all the background lore that I know nothing about from its source material.
With all that said, Justice League actually was a pleasant surprise. Its 2 hour run time is filled pretty well. There is a good balance between the characters and their purpose in the storyline as a whole. There is a suitable amount of banter between its characters to keep it entertaining. Ezra Miller’s The Flash actually is a big highlight which takes over a little of a the Spider-Man appeal where its a lot of fanboy over the other superheroes but keeping him a good back-up support when things get dicey. The dynamic between the group also works fairly well. Considering that I hated the pacing of Batman vs. Superman and has since forgotten most of it, Justice League has much better pacing.
Like what I’ve been saying about the last few DC movies (except for Wonder Woman that really does stand out more, in my opinion), these superhero movies have their fun blockbuster elements. The villain is acceptable. Its a tad lengthy (like most superhero movies in whichever universe) and its execution sometimes is okay. but the overall experience is alright. It might be the over-saturated superhero market and its rather formulaic plot execution that has somehow desensitized the initial excitement of these films. DC movies seem to struggle to grab the element that makes them stand out more and each story more memorable. Its a good first time viewing but its hard to say whether I’d be going back to watch it again.
That’s it for this double feature!
Some pleasant surprises but still have some disappointing elements for both films!
Have you seen 31 and/or Justice League? Thoughts?