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Movie Review: ‘Justice League’ does justice to DC with fun, lighter tone

Justice League (PG-13)

DC’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers, “Justice League,” is finally here, and the long- awaited big screen union of some of DC’s biggest superheroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg — was worth the wait. It’s not perfect, but a definite improvement over 2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Justice League picks up not long after the tragic ending of Batman v Superman in 2016 where (spoiler!) Superman dies in an explosive showdown with the monstrous Doomsday. A new, threat is looming this time, though with the villainous Steppenwolf, who is looking to gather three mother boxes, which contain an apocalyptic power to destroy the earth. And while the newly formed Justice League proves to be a worthy opponent for Steppenwolf, the group really needs to the power of Superman to defeat him, that is, if Superman (Henry Cavill) can somehow rise from the dead.

Like other DC films, Justice League has a grittier feel than its Marvel movie counterparts, yet, this time around the tone is far lighter, more fun and has many more laughs than “Batman v Superman” or its predecessor, “Man of Steel.”

And while the film takes a good hour for the group to come together, the Justice League, when fully formed is great, from Ben Affleck as Batman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Ray Fisher as Cyborg, as well as Gal Gadot and Ezra Miller as the movie’s biggest standouts as Wonder Woman and The Flash, respectively. The visual effects are spectacular as expected, but hover dangerously close to overwhelming the story.

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Reviews: ‘Return of Xander Cage,’ ‘The Founder,’ ‘Patriots Day,’ ‘Live by Night’

Click the audio player below for Tim Lammers’ reviews of “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” and “The Founder” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard.

Click the video player below for Tim Lammers’ reviews of “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” and “The Founder” on “KARE 11 News at 11” with Adrienne Broadus.

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yer below for Tim Lammers’ reviews of “Patriots Day” and “Live by Night” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard.

Movie reviews: Even with errors, ‘Accountant’ entertains; ‘Girl on the Train’ bumpy ride

Warner Bros.

“The Accountant” (R)

Despite its fascinating subject matter, the new Ben Affleck crime thriller “The Accountant,” for the lack of better words, just doesn’t add up. Convoluted and contrived — if not completely outlandish at times — the film has

a fine share of outrageously entertaining moments to make it worthwhile. Ultimately, the film feels like an amalgam of Affleck’s buddy Matt Damon’s roles in “Good Will Hunting” and “Jason Bourne,” even though its far inferior to the former and superior to the latter.

Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, one of the aliases he assumes as an accountant to un-cook the books of the worst criminals in the world, including terrorists, cartels and mobs. Cool, calm and collected, Christian, a man with high-functioning autism, is a math savant, which is why he was brought on board by a multi-billion-dollar robotics firm to find how $65 million went missing.

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Quickly defying the firm’s expectations, Christian discovers the books were being cooked, which leads to the sudden deaths of some of the corporation’s top  executives. But the assassins don’t want to stop there. They want the company’s accountant, Dana (Anna Kendrick), dead, too, as well as Christian.

Unbeknownst to his would-be assassins, Christian was forced by his father into violent training as a super-soldier of sorts as a young child to prepare him to combat the cruelties of the world. His lethal skills are coming in handier than ever protect himself from  and he’s willing to use whatever means necessary to protect himself and Dana from a dogged assassin (Jon Bernthal) who ruthlessly dispatches everyone  connected in the wrong way to his high-profile clients.

Affleck, for as much he is assailed as an actor (in such roles as Batman), is actually pretty good in “The Accountant.” He by no means rises to the level of the autistic character Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for playing in “Rain Man,” but he brings enough subtlety and when the film needs it – physical dominance – to make the role engaging. Underplaying the role most of the time, Affleck and director Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”) find unexpected opportunities for laughs in many different places.

Also new on Direct Conversations.com — Interview: Tim Burton, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Treating Christian’s autism as an indifference with other people as opposed to a disability, “The Accountant” naturally shows how those living with the mysterious brain disorder can and will find a way to thrive in society. Of course, Christian’s ultimate actions as a mercenary of sorts are extreme, and like the mathematical equations he’s trying to figure out, the plot of the “The Accountant” is far too complex to sort out in the film’s 2-hour, 8-minute frame.

Complete with examinations of Christian’s past – as well a subplot involving a veteran U.S. Treasury officer’s (J.K. Simmons) hunt for the math genius – “The Accountant” is simply too confusing to figure out, that is, until, an obligatory flashback scenes conveniently ties up the loose ends you’ve been grasping to have tied up for the duration of the movie.

In the end, “The Accountant” is the sort of movie you’ll want to like, and if you’re willing to take the preposterous plot at face value, you’ll emerge from it at least half-satisfied.  If only more thought would have gone into the examination of Christian’s autism and how it shaped him as an adult and less into the film’s action scenes, “The Accountant” would have ranked much-higher on the numbers scale. The film has a couple great twists, which will have you questioning afterward how you didn’t see them coming.

Lammometer: 6.5 (out of 10)

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Girl on the Train” on the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard below, starting at 11 minutes in.

“The Girl on the Train” (R)

Emily Blunt gives the best performance of her career with “The Girl on the Train,” a bumpy adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ best-selling crime novel of the same name.

Though it’s stacked with an excellent cast and a capable director with Tate Taylor (“The Help”), “The Girl” – about a severe alcoholic who suffers a blackout during a violent episode that leaves a woman (Haley Bennett) dead – hobbles along because of its non-linear storyline that hampers the narrative.

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Basically a whodunit thriller with a number of potential murder suspects, Taylor can’t muster enough of a shield to keep the real killer’s identity a secret for too long.  With the air let out of the balloon so soon, “The Girl on the Train” turns from a suspenseful tale into more a waiting game, until the film catches up to the time it’s ready to make the big reveal.

Comparatively,  “The Girl on the Train” is not nearly as good as the similarly-plotted “Gone Girl,” which at least in cinematic form, is far superior. That’s not to say this “Girl” is a bad movie – Blunt’s Oscar-caliber performance alone elevates it far above that designation.

Lammometer: 6.5 (out of 10)

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Girl on the Train” on the “KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and Michele Tafoya below.

Movie reviews: ‘Batman v Superman,’ ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’

Warner Bros.

By Tim Lammers

“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (PG-13) 3 stars

Director Zack Snyder creates an exciting template for the long anticipated “Justice League” movie with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which finally pits DC Comics’ two most iconic superheroes against each other on the big screen. The film picks up 18 months in the aftermath of General Zod’s attack on Metropolis, where, as we find out, involved a personal loss for Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Unlike others who look upon Superman (Henry Cavill) as a savior, Wayne perceives the alien from Krypton a threat to humanity, and he devises a plan to suits up as Batman to stop him.

The introduction of other members of the Justice League are sensible, especially the stunning Gal Gadot as Diana Prince and the butt-kicking Wonder Woman. The casting is terrific all around, including the return of Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and the introduction of Jeremy Irons as Bruce Wayne’s caretaker, Alfred, and Jesse Eisenberg — who’s great as the sniveling, off-kilter Lex Luthor.

Snyder squeezes a lot of material into the 2 hour, 33 minute frame of “Batman v Superman,” including some huge plot developments that you won’t see coming. It’s not a perfect movie: the ending feels drawn out and the special effects in the third act get to be a bit exhausting, but overall the movie is a rousing, crowd-pleasing experience that’s made for fans and not highbrow critics.

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” (PG-13) 3 stars

It’s taken 14 years, but Nia Vardalos and John Corbett are back with another look at the delightfully eccentric Portokalos family in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” a heartfelt and funny follow-up to the surprise blockbuster original. The story picks up 17 years after the events of the first “Greek Wedding,” where Toula (Vardalos) and Ian (Corbett) are fretting over the decision of where their 17-year-old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris) will be going to college.

Exhausted already over the day-to-day happenings, Toula’s life becomes even more complicated when a huge family faux pas involving her dad and mom, Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan), is revealed. The film has several moments of inspired humor, and other moments that feel familiar, but overall, if you loved the first film, you’ll embrace this second invitation to a “Greek Wedding” whole-heartedly.