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Ferdinand (John Cena) - DVD Review

Ferdinand

Review by Rob Carnevale

A PASSION project for its director, Carlos Saldanha, who has taken 10 years to bring it to the big screen, animated movie Ferdinand is a family-friendly heart-warmer that wins you over in spite of its flaws.

Adapted from the 1936 children’s book The Adventures of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, and which has previously been turned into the 7-minute 1938 Oscar-winning short Ferdinand the Bull by Disney, this nevertheless retains a contemporary resonance for older audiences aware of the blood sport it depicts, and a beauty and charm that will delight kids of most ages.

The story focuses on a flower-loving bull named Ferdinand (voiced by WWE fight star John Cena), who would rather bask in a field than take on matadors, despite being raised at Casa del Toro, a ranch dedicated to raising premium fighting bulls for the nearby Madrid arena.

When one day he is able to escape and finds himself adopted by a farmer (Juanes) and his beloved daughter (Katie Silverman), Ferdinand looks to have found the perfect life… until an accident at a flower fayre sees him mistaken for a dangerous beast, recaptured and sent back to Casa del Toro for a date with destiny.

While back on the ranch, however, Ferdinand makes friends with a calming goat (Kate McKinnon), some fellow bulls and a trio of hedgehogs and bids to help them all escape.

Admittedly, there are times when Ferdinand does feel like a stretch given the relative simplicity of its story. A few of the supporting characters, such as a trio of Lipizzaner horses, feel pointless and needlessly OTT, not least when they are called upon to take part in a completely unnecessary dance off sequence.

And the soundtrack itself can be intrusive, especially when pumping out some of its bigger dance numbers.

But while these certainly feel like padding to help the film attain feature length, they fortunately can’t dent the goodwill that audiences will have built towards the main characters up to that point.

Ferdinand is a hugely endearing central character, whose plight is well worth sympathising with. And while adults, in particular, will be mindful of the grim reality of a bull’s life, the film refrains from showing anything too graphic or harrowing in a way that might traumatise kids like the death of Bambi‘s mum. Bad things do happen but they’re off-camera and no less poignant for it.

Instead, Saldanha floods his film with imagery that is beautiful (not least when indulging Ferdinand’s passion for flowers) and set pieces that are filled with slapstick fun and visual ingenuity.

One set piece revolving around ‘a bull in a china shop’ is genuinely inspired, while there are plenty of sequences and gags that elevate proceedings whenever the story itself threatens to sag, including a belated chase sequence around the streets of Madrid that kids, especially, will love.

Cena does OK in the central role, without injecting too much charisma, while several of the supporting cast also impress, with David Tennant’s Highland Bull and Bobby Cannavale’s chief Ferdinand tormentor Valiente particularly on-form.

Hence, while never quite managing to reach the heights of the best animated movies, which exist to think outside the box, Ferdinand is content to revel in more traditional values and, as such, emerges as a winner on its own terms. It’s a genuinely nice experience that the whole family can enjoy.

Certificate: U
Running time: 1hr 46mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: April 16, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - DVD Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Review by Rob Carnevale

HAVING restored balance to the cinematic force that is Star Wars at its best with JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens two years ago, Rian Johnson now looks to take things further with the eighth episode in the saga, The Last Jedi.

The result is a film played out on the grandest of scales, that confidently encapsulates the best Star Wars traits while also expanding its horizons. The Last Jedi is fresher and more forward thinking than Abrams’ predecessor, opening up intriguing new possibilities and bringing in interesting new characters. It’s very much a changing of the guard.

And it should therefore be applauded for its willingness to take risks, even if not every single one pays off.

Johnson, as he has previously shown when handling episodes of Breaking Bad, knows how to enter into a franchise and honour its legacy, while creating something distinct in his own right.

Hence, The Last Jedi has plenty of surprises up its sleeve, whether stylistically in its surprising [and frequent] use of humour, or in terms of some of the plot ‘twists’ it delivers. It still retains the darkness inherent in franchise standard-bearer The Empire Strikes Back, but it doesn’t exist to go through the same motions.

Johnson, a self-confessed childhood fan, knows what is expected of a Star Wars entry and deploys the iconography well. There are nods to past creations and sequences, as well as one or two surprise cameos.

But he is also acutely aware of the need to keep things fresh, to usher in a generation of new heroes and villains capable of carrying Disney and Lucasfilm’s vision forward for future generations of cinema-goers. And he frequently does so with aplomb.

The film picks up in the immediate aftermath of The Force Awakens as the Resistance, led by General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) and fellow heroes Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega), are relentlessly pursued by First Order Star Destroyers intent on ending their rebellion once and for all.

It’s eventually left to Finn and newcomer Rose Tico (a fellow soldier played by Kelly Marie Tran) to embark on their own mission aimed at thwarting this.

Rey (Daisy Ridley), meanwhile, has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a remote island and persuaded him, albeit reluctantly, to train her in the ways of The Force – a task that unsettles him once he begins to realise the true extent of her powers.

And then there’s Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), still coming to terms with his own destiny, who comes to view Rey as an unlikely ally who could tip the balance of power in his favour, if he can prove his worth to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

With so many characters and so much plot to squeeze in, it’s perhaps unsurprising that The Last Jedi is officially the longest film in Star Wars history so far (clocking in at just over two and a half hours). But Johnson, who also penned the screenplay, works hard to ensure that the film maintains a breathless energy, if not always managing to do justice to every single character.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Where he does, though, the actors and the emotional investment benefit. Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, now a man struggling with his own legend and the toll it has taken on him and those around him, is brilliantly realised, providing Hamill with his best work to date.

While the continued struggles of both Ridley’s Rey and Driver’s Ren are nicely realised, giving both stars plenty to work with as they gain a deeper appreciation of their [possibly linked] fate. One of the criticisms, however, does extend to the Kylo Ren character, who has still yet to attain the Darth Vader-style status that his initial appearance seemed to suggest. But that’s more down to the writing than Driver’s portrayal of him.

Of the supporting cast, newcomers such as Tran, Benicio Del Toro (as a thief) and Laura Dern (as a Resistance general) impress, while returning characters such as Isaac’s ‘trigger happy’ pilot Poe and Serkis’s villain Snoke (delivered via more performance capture) also get plenty of moments to savour.

The late Fisher, too, has plenty to do and the film honours her legacy nicely.

In terms of spectacle, The Last Jedi demands to be seen (and heard) on the biggest screen possible. Johnson injects the film with a wow factor befitting its status as a cinematic giant.

The battles are big, long and always spectacular, whether being conducted atop a planet surface awash with whites and reds, or in the midst of outer space where one explosion, quite literally, illuminates the screen without so much as a hint of sound. It’s one of several bravura moments.

As if to underline the confidence that the film has in its own ambition, Johnson is also keen to widen the universe, taking us to planets never previously visited and showing us characters and creatures that have never before been tasted. One planet, in particular, offers up a den of gambling and other illicit activities that is alive with invention and possibility.

Indeed, with so much going for it, The Last Jedi comes mighty close to being the best Star Wars entry yet. But – and it’s a relatively small one – there are moments when it stumbles.

I felt the film could have benefitted from a more cynical streak, befitting The Empire Strikes Back, instead of the sometimes cheesy optimism it deploys throughout (in the face of a lot of darkness). While some of the revelations it teases (a la Empire) ultimately fail to pay off as big as you’d expect.

But in the main, Johnson has delivered the goods: a film that isn’t afraid to be ambitious, that delights and dazzles in equal measure, while providing a worthwhile emotional investment. It is a crowd-pleaser that will be wholeheartedly embraced by fans.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 152mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: April 9, 2018

Stronger (Jake Gyllenhaal/Tatiana Maslany) - DVD Review

Stronger

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JAKE Gyllenhaal’s Stronger is the type of personal triumph against the odds tale that Hollywood often excels in. But thanks to David Gordon Green’s rawer, more intimate approach to directing, it feels less contrived and award baiting than usual, which makes its achievements all the more impressive.

The film chronicles the true story of Jeff Bauman, an everyman supermarket worker who loses both his legs during the Boston Marathon terrorist attack of 2013. Immediately hailed as a hero and a symbol of ‘Boston strong’, Bauman determines to one day walk again.

But as the pressures of his newfound celebrity and hero status take their toll, Bauman finds himself fighting a mental battle as well as a physical one in order to get his life back on track.

At first glance, Green’s film would seem to be Gyllenhaal’s Born On The Fourth of July… a film that finds the actor overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds while channelling every anguished emotion along the way. The backdrop of the Boston Marathon bombings, meanwhile, lends extra significance to a world [and nation] still living in the shadow of the war on terror, while affording the opportunity for some gung-ho patriotism.

But Green seeks to avoid the more obvious storytelling devices in favour of the more real and intimate. Hence, while taking audiences on a more difficult journey, his film feels more authentic for it.

The first indicator of this comes during the bombing itself, which isn’t captured in any great detail. Rather, it’s seen from the point of view of Bauman’s ex-girlfriend, Erin (Tatiana Maslany), as she strives to complete the marathon, only to hear the big bang in front of her and see the clouds of smoke it generates. Gyllenhaal’s Bauman is only witnessed in news footage being carried from the carnage. But, again, this is conveyed via Erin’s view of the coverage.

Green does revisit the scene belatedly, but in a manner that reflects the PTSD being suffered by Bauman. And even then, it’s a confused reality, befitting the state of mind of Bauman’s character.

Stronger frequently opts for the messy over the showy. Further evidence of this comes from sequences involving Bauman using the bathroom or having the stumps of his legs fitted for prosthetics – small details that paint a bigger picture of the type of everyday turmoil experienced by survivors of such things.

By doing so, it affords Gyllenhaal the opportunity to really delve into the psychology of his unlikely hero, thereby delivering a warts and all performance of genuine worth. His Bauman feels like a fallible human being – one that is prone to unlikeable (but understandable and relatable) outbursts, but whose determination and strength of character is as inspiring as it should be. Hence, the film earns any tears that audiences shed, while feeling genuinely uplifting come the poignant – but similarly low-key – finale.

Gyllenhaal is more than matched by Maslany, who is every bit as strong as his long-suffering on/off girlfriend Erin, expertly channelling the doubts, insecurities and guilt that her character feels at every turn in Bauman’s journey. Maslany represents the silent, often unseen victim of such tragedies… the carer whose own lifetime ambitions are curtailed by having to cope with a debilitating condition. But she does it in a hugely endearing fashion, making her journey as worthwhile and heroic (in its own, much quieter way) than Bauman’s.

Miranda Richardson also excels as Bauman’s mother, Patty, even if Green’s depiction of the wider Bauman family is the only time the film feels like it might be sinking into ‘cliche’, channelling the likes of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook in its portrayal of these foul-mouthed, larger-than-life characters.

But in all other respects, Stronger looks and feels authentic: a subdued, raw but honest portrayal of personal triumph that also finds time to analyse the notion of heroism and what it means to those living with its ‘burden’.

It may not always be an easy watch, but Stronger is all the more worthwhile and rewarding for it.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 1hr 59mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: April 9, 2018

Win Sheep and Wolves on DVD

Sheep and Wolves

Preview by Jack Foley

FROM the producers of The Snow Queen 2 comes Sheep And Wolves, a fun, animated adventure featuring the English language voices of Tom Felton (Harry Potter 1-8), Ruby Rose (Pitch Perfect 3), Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh) and China Anne McClain (Black Lightening).

In a magical faraway land, in a picturesque village nestled among green meadows and rolling hills, lives a flock of carefree sheep. But their idyllic and stress-free solitude is interrupted when a pack of wolves sets up camp in a nearby ravine.

When the wolves’ retiring pack leader Magra (Cummings) announces that his future successor must prove his worth by defeating their rivals, the powerful and blood-thirsty Ragear steps forward.

But the only wolf brave enough to challenge him is Grey (Felton), the pack’s favourite but a hopeless goofball, who must prove his worth by overcoming his fears.

However, after taking a magical potion to boost his courage, he is suddenly turned into… A ram!

Will Grey find his way back to his pack and his girlfriend Bianca (Rose)?

Sheep and Wolves is released on DVD on Monday, April 9, 2018.

Win Sheep and Wolves on DVD

To celebrate the release of Sheep and Wolves on DVD on Monday, April 9, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. What animal is the wolf Grey turned into in Sheep and Wolves?

Simply send the answer to Sheep and Wolves competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win My Own Private Idaho on Blu-ray

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of My Own Private Idaho – available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD Dual Format from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on April 9, 2018 – we are giving away a copy!

From acclaimed director Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy) comes a wile road movie for the ‘90s starring America’s hottest young male stars – River Phoenix (Stand by Me, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) – as two hustlers who explore friendship and self-discovery on the twisting, turning road of life.

Phoenix is Mike, a narcoleptic street hustler haunted by his idyllic memories of childhood and obsessed with finding his estranged mother. Reeves is Scott, a runaway rich kid who’s on a personal “crusade” to find the meaning of life, biding his time until he inherits his father’s estate.

Together they’re lost in a bizarre world of wealthy strangers and stranger-than-life adventures. They set out to survive the odyssey but, along the way, come to understand each other and their place in the world, learning life’s lessons as only the road can teach.

Order today

Win My Own Private Idaho on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of My Own Private Idaho on Blu-ray on Monday, April 9, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs My Own Private Idaho?

Simply send the answer to My Own Private Idaho competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Sleeping Dogs on Blu-ray

Sleeping Dogs

Preview by Jack Foley

To celebrate the release of Sleeping Dogs – available on Blu-ray from April 16, 2018, from Arrow Academy – we have a copy to giveaway!

Sleeping Dogs is a tour-de-force action thriller that launched the Hollywood careers of both its director Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Species, Dante’s Peak) and lead actor Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Thor: Ragnarok, TV’s Peaky Blinders).

It manages to be both nail-bitingly tense and a chilling view of New Zealand as a dictatorship and, as such, it resonated with audiences on a worldwide scale.

Tightly scripted, full of tension and packed with the kind of action you simply wouldn’t expect from such a low budget production, Sleeping Dogs is a masterpiece of the action thriller genre.

Sam Neill’s excellent performance as a recluse who’s unwittingly drawn into a civil war situation is, meanwhile, is a perfect example of the everyman sucked into events beyond his control. It really is a must-watch whether you’re a fan of New Zealand cinema or simply a lover of action thrillers.

Order today

Synopsis

Adapted from C.K. Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream, Sleeping Dogs almost single-handedly kickstarted the New Zealand New Wave, demonstrating that home-grown feature films could resonate with both local and international audiences, and launching the big-screen careers of director Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Species) and Sam Neill.

Neill – in his first lead role in a feature – plays Smith, a man escaping the break-up of his marriage by finding isolation on an island off the Coromandel Peninsula.

As he settles into his new life, the country is experiencing its own turmoil: an oil embargo has led to martial law and civil war, into which Smith reluctantly finds himself increasingly involved.

Co-starring Warren Oates (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) as the commander of a US army unit drawn into the conflict, Sleeping Dogs is simultaneously a political thriller, a personal drama and a true landmark in New Zealand cinema.

Win Sleeping Dogs on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Sleeping Dogs on Blu-ray on Monday, April 16, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. What is the name of the book from which Sleeping Dogs is based?

Simply send the answer to Sleeping Dogs competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Song of Granite on DVD

Song of Granite

Preview by Jack Foley

THE latest from director Pat Collins (Silence), Song of Granite is a critically acclaimed, lyrical and unconventional profile of the life of the complex and enigmatic Joe Heaney – one of the greats of traditional Irish singing (sean nós), and the country that made him.

Shaped by the myths, fables and songs of his upbringing in the west of Ireland in the early 1900s, the film charts Heaney’s emergence as a gifted artist and how his career success came at a personal cost as he journeyed from rural Connemara through Glasgow and eventually to New York City.

Ireland’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar 2018 and featuring performances from Colm Seoighe, Macdara Ó Fátharta, Jaren Cerf, Lisa O’Neill, Damien Dempsey, and singers Micheal Ó Confhaola and Pól Ó Ceannabháin, Song of Granite is a distinct portrait of Heaney’s life and a universal exploration of the power of the human voice.

Win Song of Granite on DVD

To celebrate the release of Song of Granite on DVD on Monday, April 2, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Song of Granite?

Simply send the answer to Song of Granite competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Score: A Film Music Documentary on DVD

Score

Preview by Jack Foley

FROM the spine-tingling sounds of the Star Wars theme to the terror-inducing Jaws signature piece via the instantly nostalgia inducing sounds of E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I>Raiders of the Lost Ark, what is it about these scores that make a film and a lifetime of memories?

Now, a fascinating new feature documentary, Score: A Film Music Documentary, from director Matt Schrader, featuring the work of some 60 plus of Hollywood’s elite composers, takes a privileged look inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of the world’s most international music genre: the film score.

It arrives on DVD and VOD, complete with a slew of special features on April 2, 2018 from Dogwoof.

A film composer is a musical scientist of sorts, and the influence they have to complement a film and garner powerful and lasting reactions from global audiences can be a daunting task to take on. Score: A Film Music Documentary contains interviews with dozens of inspiring film composers including Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Danny Elfman, Trent Reznor, Quincy Jones, Rachel Portman, Bear McCreary, alongside director James Cameron.

They discuss their craft and the magic of film music while exploring the making of the most iconic and beloved scores in history including James Bond, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Titanic, The Social Network, Mad Max: Fury Road, Psycho and more.

Win Score: A Film Music Documentary on DVD

To celebrate the release of Score: A Film Music Documentary on DVD on Monday, April 2, 2018, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Score: A Film Music Documentary?

Simply send the answer to Score: A Film Music Documentary competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Battle of the Sexes - DVD Review

Battle of the Sexes

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SEXUAL inequality and social acceptance serve the basis for jovial real-life comedy-drama Battle of the Sexes, which for all of its retro elements remains a timely piece of work.

The title of the film takes its name from the 1972 tennis match between then World No1 women’s player Billie Jean King and former No.1 men’s player Bobby Riggs, which was devised by charismatic misogynist Riggs to conclusively prove that men were better than women on the court.

For King, who reluctantly agreed to the match knowing its implications, the stakes couldn’t be higher. A staunch advocate for equal pay for men and women, King was in the midst of setting up her own Women’s Tennis Association in protest at the US Lawn Tennis Association’s decision to set up another tournament where men received eight times more prize money than women.

At the same time, she was also coming to terms with her own sexuality. For despite being married to Larry King, she found herself attracted to her hairdresser – a relationship that would have been frowned upon at the time.

Riggs, meanwhile, was attempting to overcome a gambling addiction that was placing his marriage in jeopardy, while viewing the match as a comeback of sorts.

If trailers for Battle of the Sexes suggest a frothy, lightweight comedy that’s more content to have fun than confront big issues, then it’s a pleasant surprise to find that the film also packs a surprisingly effective emotional punch.

But then it’s in good hands. As they showed with Little Miss Sunshine, co-directors directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Deyton are deft hands at balancing rousing underdog elements with weighty dramatic material.

Here, King’s journey is particularly sensitively handled, especially when focusing on her sexuality. Emma Stone plays King with outward conviction but inner vulnerability – a woman who was all too aware of the minefield she was navigating in juggling her battle for equality with a tumultuous personal life.

Her relationship with both Marilyn, her hairdresser, and Larry, her husband (played, respectively and brilliantly by Andrea Riseborough and Austin Stowell), is shot through with an authenticity that refuses to betray the emotions at play – be they hurt, anxiety or desire.

While her steadfast refusal to be intimidated by the chauvinism that defined the era (and which is personified by Bill Pullman’s influential Jack Kramer) is, by turns, bullish and inspiring. You can expect her to feature prominently in this season’s awards talk given how much of the film’s dramatic weight she is asked to shoulder.

Carell, though, is just as good, even if he appears to be playing the buffoon for most of the time. In lesser hands, Riggs could have been an annoying, even odious presence (he was there to put the show in chauvinism after all!), but Carell imbues him with a harmless likeability – a clown crying on the inside, all too aware of his own faltering legacy. Scenes between Riggs and his wife (an excellent Elisabeth Shue) are particularly effective.

Faris and Deyton also deserve praise for retaining a good sense of balance, as does Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay, for this could easily have felt heavy-handed or mis-judged.

Instead, it offers audiences a genuinely good time but one that isn’t afraid to confront the issues of the day in a way that resonates still. The pay divide between men and women still exists and – given recent headlines from Hollywood and beyond – sexist/chauvinist attitudes still prevail, albeit with signs of change.

Battle of the Sexes shows how those seeds of change were sewn. As such, it’s game, set and match to female empowerment that deserves to be a smash hit with audiences.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 1min
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: March 26, 2018

Justice League - DVD Review

Justice League

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1.5 out of 5

DC’s superhero universe lumbers from one poorly conceived, woefully executed mess to the next with Justice League.

If the hit-and-miss Wonder Woman earlier this year raised hopes that the franchise had started to correct itself slightly, then Zack Snyder’s return (albeit with directorial help from Joss Whedon following a family tragedy) marks a return to the bad old days of Batman Vs Superman and Suicide Squad.

In a year when Marvel have delivered family friendly web-slinging fun with a reinvigorated Spider-Man: Homecoming and self-deprecating hilarity with the awesome Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League‘s failure feels all the more pronounced.

So, where to begin? Story-wise, the film feels just plain lazy. It’s yet another world in peril scenario that doesn’t attempt to bring anything new to the mix. A Demi-God, or big bad, or whatever you care to name him, OK Steppenwolf (played by Ciaran Hinds), wants to destroy Earth and must acquire three cubes to do so.

Standing in his way is The Justice League, a superhero collective comprised of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) put together by Batman (Ben Affleck) in the wake of Superman’s death.

As with the lamentable Suicide Squad, Justice League opts for action over substance, forgoing any depth and dropping in only token attempts at humour. It’s essentially one long third act, which is as deafening as it is dull.

Where Marvel took time to introduce its key players, here they’re assembled in minutes, thereby depriving audiences of any joy in getting to discover them.

Hence, while the likes of Momoa and Ezra show glimpses of something interesting (and even fun), they’re all too fleeting. Affleck broods without developing, Gadot goes through the motions and Fisher does his best Robocop impression without any real conviction. But then no one emerges from this mess with any real credit, not even Henry Cavill whose returning Superman is one of several ‘big’ moments that completely underwhelm.

Supporting players such as Amy Adams, as a grieving Lois Lane, and JK Simmons, making his debut as Commissioner Gordon, also feel like after-thoughts and end up criminally under-employed given their talents.

Admittedly, Justice League‘s inability to dazzle isn’t solely its own fault. The dye was cast with Batman Vs Superman and the type of world (and tone) that film created. Justice League struggles because DC and its creative team are staying blindly loyal to that template – which means effects heavy smack-downs that are stripped of peril, emotion and, inevitably, interest.

But maybe we’ve been spoilt for too long, what with Marvel’s vastly superior universe and the memory of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy still burning bright. But these examples merely show what can be achieved within the superhero format.

Justice League appears content to go merely through the motions in its all-consuming desire to bludgeon genre fans to death with one set piece showdown after another. So, perhaps the most damning indication of how widely this misses its target is that Justice League can’t even muster a spine-tingling superhero moment.

The action is so fast, and mostly set at night (again), that it’s hard to see what’s going on, let alone care. There is no ingenuity in the set pieces, no imagination and no heart. Justice League is a film that ultimately feels exploitative for the way in which it takes such a recognised brand and does so little with it, while expecting long-suffering fans to continue shelling out their hard earned money to see it.

That’s an injustice to cinema.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 58mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: March 26, 2018