Ben Affleck

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

In what feels like seven decades in the making, two of DC’s mightiest heroes go toe to toe in an all-out no holds barred smack down. This, we’re assured by Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor several times, will be the gladiatorial fight of the century. Is it though?

Don’t let the action figures and pint sized pyjamas on sale in Kmart fool you. Batman v Superman is not a kid’s film. Nor is it even a family film. This cinematic interpretation is aimed squarely at the adults who want, nay demand, that their childhood obsessions grow up with them. This is translated into a cinematic universe where Batman tackles paedophiles and sex traffickers by branding them with a hot bat symbol, where Superman’s deeds in Man of Steel resulted in the deaths of thousands and Lex Luthor waxes lyrical about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father and sends jars of urine to his enemies before blowing them up. This is a DC comic filtered through the lens of a bad fan fiction. This not a universe I want to live in.

It may be an old fashioned way of thinking, but superhero movies need to show their heroes being, well, super. In Batman v Superman – a title bout that doesn’t happen till around the two-hour mark – both of our heroes are rarely seen doing anything remotely so.

As Bruce Wayne/Batman, Ben Affleck is in danger of tripping over his brow due to how furrowed it is. He lives in a modern condo down river from a desolate Wayne Manor. He spends his nights with literally faceless women and having violent visions about Henry Cavill’s Superman. Having seen the blue tighted one effectively turn Metropolis to dust two years previously, the playboy millionaire is concerned for the welfare of America at the hands of aliens. In a sense, he’s the Donald Trump of superheroes.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) struggles with his work life balance as the media slowly becomes obsessed with Superman and the untold damage his heroics have caused over the years. Would it have hurt the film to have a simple scene of Clark enjoying being a superhero? Evidently so. If you enjoyed moody space Jesus in Man of Steel, you’re going to get a kick out of watching him crying in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

Perhaps the brightest spot in the whole murky affair – and director Zack Snyder has really gone out of his way to drain this comic book movie of most hues – is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Though even then, it’s hard not to feel her appearance would have had more effect had it not been spread thinly across every trailer in the last six months.

Later this year, Marvel will throw their own one on one into the cinema with Captain America: Civil War. It’s important to mention this, because with ten films down, Marvel has earned the right to have Captain America and Iron Man square off. This only the second film of the DC Cinematic Universe, and quite frankly everyone needs to be given time to breathe and think about what they really want to do. Sony’s aborted Amazing Spider-Man trilogy shows that trying to capture the same lightening as Marvel is going to be hard. DC can pull it off if they stop trying to rush everything and overstuff the film; spending close to three hours throwing everything at the screen in the hopes that something sticks.

There are several cameos, and (so. many.) dream sequences, that obviously hint at future adventures, which is fine. However, when a certain Justice League member turns up from the future to warn Batman about the past, and who is never referred to again for the rest of the film, its evident that DC comics doesn’t care for the casual viewer. They want the fans. They want the fan’s money. It’s marketing at it’s most cynical.

Overlong, dull and pretentious, Batman v Superman is the superhero movie that dyes its hair black, plays Lana Del Rey songs repeatedly and refuses to call Mum’s new lover Dad no matter how much Steve insists.

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Gigli (2003)

In this romantic (?) comedy (?) from Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop), Ben Affleck plays Gigli; a mobster encouraged to kidnap the mentally challenged brother (Justin Bartha) of a federal prosecutor. Because Affleck is seemingly untrustworthy – maybe everyone thinks he’s going to sell the kid to a dealership for Pokemon money – Jennifer Lopez is hired to keep an eye on him.

There are many things wrong with this film.The dialogue reeks of being written by a 15 year old impersonating a Tarantino movie whilst Justin Bartha seems to be auditioning for the Rain Man 2. It’s a deeply offensive piece of work and we’ve seen A Serbian Film.

Ben Affleck playing an a-hole hit man? Wrong. Jennifer Lopez playing a sassy lesbian contractor? Wrong. The idea that lesbians just need the right kind of penis? Wrong. In fact, if you’re going to see one film where Ben-A converts a lesbian, make it Chasing Amy. At least everyone was vaguely likeable in that.

Gigli – the film we will always know as that film where J-Lo compares a mouth to a vagina and a penis to a sea slug.

Extract (2009)

Extract is the story of factory owner, Joel, (Jason Bateman) trying desperately to be bad, but failing miserably at every corner.

His plan to get a gigolo to sleep with his wife, so he can sleep with a co-worker goes wrong at every turn. Except for the gigolo sleeping with his wife part. That bit goes really well. So, with a cheating wife and potential lawsuit on its way being led by Gene Simmon’s rabid lawyer, Joel ends up getting caught up trying to relive his youth through Ben Affleck’s loser best friend and the seductive nature of Mila Kunis.

Like ‘Office Space’ and TV’s ‘King of the Hill’, it’s the dialogue that sparkles. I like Mike Judge. I think he’s one those underrated comedic screen writers that I hold dearly to my heart. Yes, it’s a grandiose claim, but I stand by it. The characters are believable whilst being equally absurd. A special mention to David Koechner, who tones down his usual loud man schtick seen in films such as ‘Anchorman’; his annoying neighbour bringing new meaning to the word tenacious. Unfortunately, his story arc ends in a dark manner that somewhat clashes with the general ‘zaniness’ of the other 90 minutes.

Extract is neither life changing or life affirming, but it does bring a lot of laughs. Even if those are unintentionally because of Affleck’s wig; the likes of which haven’t been seen since Paul McGann in Doctor Who: The Movie. Yeesh.