November 22, 2017
Somewhere in Burbank, California, there are Warner Bros. executives wondering if someone put a hex on Justice League, given its laundry list of production woes and a $96 million opening weekend — the lowest for DC's Extended Universe films. Adding credence to the theory would be the fact that it's actually a decent movie.
One of the most difficult tasks a director has when taking on a big-budget superhero franchise is finding a way to juggle teams of characters. Each hero typically requires time in the limelight, but a creative misstep risks schizophrenic pacing and a muddled story. In a macabre way, the decision to bring in Joss Whedon for re-shoots after the death of director Zack Snyder's child in March produced a film that highlights each man's talents while downplaying their weaknesses.
The plot to Justice League is one that moviegoers — particularly Marvel Universe fans of The Avengers (2012) — know too well: a group of aliens are closing in and earth's mightiest heroes need to stop them. Instead of Captain America and friends, the DCU has Aquaman (Jason Momoa); Batman (Ben Affleck); Cyborg (Ray Fisher); and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). The group needs Superman (Henry Cavill) to ensure victory, but he's dead as per the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
Or is he?
The group decides (after a bioethical debate) that alien technology in their possession, but wanted by the film's villain Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), could conceivably rip the Kryptonian from death's grip.
"This is science beyond our limits, and that's what science is for — to do what's never been done, to make life better," Batman says.
"Or to end it. Technology is like any other power. Without reason, without heart, it destroys us," replies Diana Prince, whose philosophy was shaped during the World War I setting of director Patty Jenkins blockbuster Wonder Woman in June. "You're risking lives — theirs, and maybe countless more."
"Superman was a beacon to the world," Batman replies. "Why aren't you? You're an inspiration, Diana. You don't just save people — you make them see their better selves. And yet I never heard of you until [Lex] Luthor lured you about by stealing a picture of your dead boyfriend."
Wonder Woman reluctantly agrees to the plan after punching her teammate for the personal attack, and it isn't long before the Man of Steel once again save the planet from an impending apocalypse.
Justice League may be predictable, but it also happens to be 120 minutes of pure fun. It judiciously uses humor and, unlike Marvel's cash-cow Thor: Ragnarok, it doesn't shy away from heartfelt moments with slapstick humor.
Does Justice League have some glaring flaws? Sure. Henry Cavill, for instance, was not allowed to shave a mustache for Mission: Impossible 6 over at Paramount when reshoots were required. Warner Bros. then decided it would spend millions on CGI to remove the facial hair in post-production. The feat couldn't be pulled it off on short notice, but that in no way should serve as a deal-breaker.
Fans of the superhero genre should see this film in the theaters, because if it doesn't recoup its rumored $300 million budget then there might not be another one. That would be a shame, too, since everyone involved seems legitimately invested in giving moviegoers a reason to smile.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
November 21, 2017
Battle-Hardened: An Infantry Officer's Harrowing Journey from D-Day to VE-Day tells the story of an American soldier's growth from a 2nd Lieutenant eager to prove his worth in battle to a skilled and resolute commander over the course of the Northern European Campaign.
Craig Chapman delves deep into the personal recollections and mental state of Bill Chapman as he fought against the Nazis, enduring frontline combat and witnessing horror on a massive scale. Lieutenant Chapman maintains his sanity by isolating his emotions from the chaos of the battlefield, and the young officer turns into a hard-edged warrior who dispassionately orders men to risk their lives yet still manages to hold onto his humanity.
November 21, 2017
Steve Bannon has gone from battling libs at Breitbart to being a national political figure and a major influence for Pres. Donald Trump. Conservative journalist Keith Koffler delved deep into Bannon's background for his book Bannon: Always the Rebel, uncovering much about the man behind our President. Learn more in our interview with Koffler below!
Congratulations Keith Koffler on your new book Bannon: Always the Rebel! Tell us about your new book. What inspired you to write it?
The book is an attempt to delve beneath the caricatures of Steve Bannon and understand who he is, the populist/nationalist philosophy that guides him, and the origins of his thinking. As I did research about him before agreeing to do the book, I recognized that I concurred with a lot of his opinions and wanted to explain them to the public.
Steve Bannon burst on the national political scene in 2016, but he had been heavily involved in politics and journalism before then. Can you give us a background about his pre-Trump professional career?
Steve Bannon’s first career move out of college was to become an officer with the Navy, serving aboard a battleship for three years and spending another three years in Washington. He then went to Harvard Business School in the mid-1980s and afterward joined Goldman Sachs, which sent him out to Hollywood to drum up business. There he soon formed his own boutique firm and became a multimillionaire.
While in California, he started to make his own documentaries exploring conservative and populist themes. After the screening of one of his films, he met Andrew Breitbart. The two became friends, and Bannon helped him with his website, Breitbart.com. After Breitbart suddenly died in 2012, Bannon took over as editor and expanded the site’s readership. Steve Bannon had known Trump since 2010, and during the 2016 primaries, Bannon and Breitbart.com eventually got strongly behind Trump and the relationship between the two men solidified, leading Trump to tap Bannon as his campaign manager.
What are two or three things people don’t know about Steve Bannon?
Steve Bannon is not anti-Semitic or racist. Several of his most important partners in journalism have been Jewish, including Breitbart, and many people who have worked with him attest that they have not perceived him to be at all racist or anti-Semitic.
Bannon overcame his alcoholism and quit cold turkey about 20 years ago.
Bannon has a deep understanding of and adherence to his Catholic faith. In fact, it was medieval Catholic texts that helped him quit drinking.
How do you think history will judge Steve Bannon and his influence with the Trump presidential campaign and first year in office?
Steve Bannon was critical to Trump’s 2016 victory because he kept Trump focused on the populist/nationalist message that carried him to victory in critical swing states with large working class populations.
Steve Bannon will be viewed as a major influence on early Trump presidential achievements such as his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the renegotiation of NAFTA, the sharp decrease in illegal immigration during Trump’s first year, and the withdrawal from the Paris climate change accords.
What specifically does Steve Bannon want to do to transform the Republican Party?
Bannon wants to change the Republican party from one that he sees as too captured by corporate interests and their Washington lobbyists into a party of the working class. In particular, he wants to limit excessive immigration and multilateral trade deals, both of which he believes take jobs from America’s working and middle class and threaten the nation’s culture and sovereignty.
He believes that the party already has been largely transformed into a populist movement among average Republican voters, who chose Trump over a variety of reputable establishment candidates. His mission now is to alter the power structure in Washington so that it reflects the will of the GOP base, beginning with changing the Republican leadership of the Senate and replacing establishment GOP senators.
Tell us a little more about yourself and your professional background!
I have been a reporter for 22 years, include 20 years covering the White House. I initially covered the White House for National Journal and its parent company, Atlantic Media, and then for Roll Call. In 2010 I left the mainstream media and struck out on my own with the conservative website White House Dossier, which provides White House news and analysis leavened with a bit of humor.
I have continued to the website even through stints as an senior editor for conservative publications – most recently the Washington Examiner – and while writing two books, “The Obama Scandals” and “Bannon: Always the Rebel.”