Recent posts: Movies
Many of us associate Batman with Christian Bale, as past generations have with Michael Keaton and/or Adam West. What’s interesting about our generation is the wrongful association with Aquaman being “that useless character from Justice Friends”. Although various media outlets like College Humor, or memes, or even shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken have shown Aquaman to be a comically useless hero who’s only helpful with matters of the deep blue sea, that’s not the case at all. Yes, Aquaman does have powers that mainly focus with the deep and its inhabitants. However, he’s a foe that both heroes and villains alike respect and fear. He’s shows to be a powerful monarch as well as a force to be reckoned with, in battle as well as the Hall of Justice.
As of late last month, Twitter went viral with news of Jason Momoa, better known as Drogo from the hit series Game of Thrones being cast as Arthur Curry, better known as Aquaman. What struck many as an odd choice because of him lacking the ironic blond locks of Mr. Curry, as well as him not “looking like Aquaman”, it’s honestly a smart move. Momoa has portrayed many hardened characters such as Konan, Ronon Dex from Stargate: Atlantis, and most notably Drogo. It still isn’t certain what his role will be, given that there are rumors of him appearing in a future DC movie to even having his own Aquaman feature film. What is certain is that he will give a new spin on the way we see Aquaman and will give his mythos a revamp for a new generation.
Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, only when it doesn’t add any particularly favorable aspects to one character. Momoa will add a gritty yet distinct flavor to the orange clad hero of the deep, as well as his origin story, which has changed over the years. From being banned from the sea because of his blonde hair to his mother being an Atlantian princess, there is an array of how they can handle this story. Momoa has a unique look and also possesses a sort of “beach” vibe which will add to how the sea life is incorporated into Curry’s storyline when realizing he’s actually an Atlantian, not from land. At the same time, if they go into the direction of introducing him in the future Superman film, having him already established as a superpowered hero from Atlantis isn’t so alien to Momoa, since Aquaman isn’t just a master of communicating with sea creatures. He’s also trained in the deadly arts of fighting, making Momoa a perfect candidate for an action packed adaptation to one of the most underrated super heroes in all of DC.
We have revamped the Batman series for mainstream audiences, away from the campy versions of both the 60’s and the Schumacher films from the late 90’s. What many remembered the last films from the Batman titles as Mr. Freeze shouting corny ice-puns or Poison Ivy hilariously trying to seduce Robin, Christopher Nolan made many forget that and instantly associate the title with a darker and more gritty, more realistic portrayal of Gotham City and its caped crusader. And the golden ticket wasn’t just the writing and directing, but the actor. What many considered an “odd choice”, Christian Bale proved to embody Batman. Will Momoa embody our generation’s version of Aquaman? Only time and internet trolls will tell.
I have to be honest with you guys. Minus the trailers and some behind the scenes stuff I’ve seen on online, I really have no idea who the Guardians of the Galaxy are. The other Marvel studio movies where I know the characters and consider myself a fan, I am totally in the dark with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Last night I had the opportunity to check out a 17 minute extended preview of Guardians of the Galaxy in IMAX 3D and I was blown away. If what was shown in last nights preview the tip of the iceberg, consider me sold on Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie feels nothing like any other Marvel film that’s come before it. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, definitely raised the bar for Marvel movies for me this year and Guardians of the Galaxy, although a very different film, seems to be that same class of masterful execution and film making. Before I wild out with my excitement, let me give you a break down of what we saw.
The preview starts off with the line-up scene that we’ve seen from the trailers. This is also our first look at the beautiful usage of the IMAX 3D. From here the crew is then transported to the space prison called The Kyln where the Guardians are hilariously processed. Not to give too much away, but Rocket plans out an escape and all hell breaks lose. He’s able to quickly survey surrounding materials and draft up an escape plan for the Guardians. There are a lot of jokes and humor I’m leaving out of the escape just off fact you’ll need to see it to make sense of it. We were then blessed with an extended montage that provides glimpses of Yondu, Josh Brolin’s Thanos, Ronan the Accuser and more.
I’m excited for the entire movie and I’m also sold on the IMAX 3D. I’m talking about bright high definition 3D that lively! The chemistry between the characters are perfect. From interactions with the Groot and his limited vocabulary to Drax who takes everything literally and doesn’t comprehend metaphors, this team is setup to give you an out of this world experience.
Godzilla stomps… sometimes. Godzilla roars… sometimes. Godzilla fights!… sometimes.
And, when Godzilla isn’t doing any of those things I mentioned above, you know what he’s doing?!
Nothing. Because, he ain’t in it. When he’s not in it, we’re left with the humans. And, that takes up about 70% of the movie. And, that would be okay if the human interaction was interesting. But, therein is the fatal flaw of Godzilla.
Here is an attempt to reintroduce the Godzilla character for the 21st century with a somber & serious-minded reboot (very Nolan-eqsue). I appreciate the effort. But, that somber & serious-minded tone is one of the film’s biggest issues. The human characters are cardboard cut-outs from other monster movies. We have the soldier (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the scientist (Ken Watanabe), the general who wants to nuke sh*t (David Strathairn), the soldier’s wife (Elizabeth Olsen), and the crackpot scientist no one takes seriously (Bryan Cranston). These are all VERY cliche characters. The fact that the movie treats these personality-less nobodies like they’re in an Oscar drama gets annoying… fast.
These characters do their job to advance the plot. And, that’s it. They don’t do anything else. And, with some characters, they do even less. Ken Watanabe is one of the greatest actors in the world, and he’s given literally nothing to do except spout pseudo-philosophical mumbo-jumbo or boring exposition when required. Elizabeth Olsen does so little, it literally made me wonder why she was even there. Why get an actress that talented if you’re gonna literally give her nothing to do?
The movie spends so much time with these “people”, it gets boring. And then, you’re wondering “can we just get Godzilla here”? And, they do, and it’s awesome! But, then… we’re back to the humans. And, they are ALWAYS boring. There is nothing compelling or interesting about what’s happening between them. But, the movie seems so very convinced that this is the sh*t you came to see, not Godzilla.
Godzilla doesn’t really get any real screen time until the 3rd act, but even then, our focus is still split between Godzilla fighting, and the soldiers trying to stop a nuke or something. Who gives a f*ck? Can we get back to Godzilla, who is AWESOME. When he first showed up on screen, and roared for the first time, the audience literally applauded and cheered. That’s how desperate the audience was to get away from the boring military bullsh*t, and scientific exposition.
Like a lot of you guys, I’m definitely stoked for the new X-Men movie “Days of Future Past”. But what is it really about in terms of the original story? To prepare for the upcoming film, I’ll be dishing out details and try not to spoil the events.
It should be understood that the comic itself is rather confusing when you look at it from a logical standpoint. This means that there’s a lot of jumping from one universe to the other and it can get contradictory and baffling at times. Maybe I should have also mentioned an important fact: there are two universes, Earth 811 (Days of Future Past) and Earth 616 (Marvel’s main universe). Both of these universes are essentially the identical until a certain point where they strand off into two completely different timelines. The main event that triggers this change is Professor X and Senator Kelley getting killed, which prompts for the Sentinel project to activate. This doesn’t count as a spoiler.
Although Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the badass and surly Wolverine, it should be noted that in the comic book it’s actually an aging Kitty Pryde that witnesses her present being a desolate wasteland who transfers her consciousness to a Kitty Pryde from the past…which is the present (or past, told you it’s confusing). Kitty Pryde is, of course, known as the X-Men Shadowcat, played by Ellen Page. Shadowcat, which for the sake of the “future” is called Kate Pryde, is mature and has seen her fellow team mates die. Also, Phoenix and Cyclop’s kid in the alternate universe, Rachel Summers, who has no cool X-Men code name, is also a main character.
Also, it’s a cool fun fact (and kind of…depressing), but Earth 811 has its beings set in three different groups. H Class, which is comprised of “pure” humans, can and are allowed to screw. A Class, is essentially the equivalent of the Potter universe’s “half-bloods” or “mudbloods”, pretty much they have no power but they have the genetic code for the X-gene (the reason for mutants and the culprit of a not-so-creative name) either by relatives or just by luck. They aren’t able to have any sex life at all but are allowed into society. And finally, there’s the M Class, which are pure mutants and are placed in concentration camps to die or are just killed off. Like I said, cool but depressing.
Pretty much, not to spoil a lot, the events are somewhat similar to the movie. The basic plot is the same: Sentinels are bad, humans are bigoted idiots against mutants, this must not happen, X-Men fight for this not to happen in their universe. And it may keep the huge allegorical message about all kinds of bigotry and intolerance and the dire consequences that come with being a judgmental, horrible person.
Oh, and half of the Marvel universe is dead. No Captain America, Spider Man, Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, Toad, etc. Wolverine dies, and this shouldn’t be an issue in the movie. C’mon, would they seriously KILL Wolverine?
On the plus side…we have Colossus and Dazzler left. Yeah. Colossus.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just as much of a mixed bag as the first film was. They share the same flaws, same problems, and same “not-really-a-movie” feel so much, that it reads as off-putting and weird. ASM2 is not a bad movie. But, to call it “good” is a lie that I cannot tell.
Rather, ASM2 is frustrating in a way that few comic book movies (including the first one) are… What it does get right is SO good and SO fun, that it’s all the more frustrating what it gets wrong. And, what does it get wrong?
Well, we can start by talking about the fact that this film does not tell a coherent story. Every beat of this movie is squarely devoted to just setting up other movies. In the same way that “Iron Man 2″ was just a commercial for “The Avengers”, this is just the set up for the payoff. Because, there isn’t much of one here. Everything they build here is built up entirely by coincidence. Unravel one, and the whole entire thing comes crumbling down.
The comic-booky style of it all is both awesome and awful. It’s awesome in that the action scenes are wonderfully inventive and entertaining. In fact, visually, the entire film has an energy to it that is all its own. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the visual effects all look absolutely dazzling. But, it’s awful in that characters and their motivations do not add up, and make no sense. It’s all convenient in building the plot, and nothing is ever developed in a way that it can breathe amongst the rest of the sh*t in the movie.
Case in point: Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon aka Electro. They take the Jim Carrey/Riddler storyline from “Batman Forever”, and take out the little subtlety that was there. The shift doesn’t make sense. He gets saved by Spider-Man, and then idolizes him, then hates him. His character gets no development, and doesn’t even feel like a villain. He just kinda has to be there throughout the film to act as an obstacle to pad out the run time.
Dane Dehaan plays Harry Osborn. And, his performance is convincing and dramatic. But, the writing… goddamnit. The writing lets him down. There isn’t any subtlety to his shift either. It just happens. And, all of a sudden, he knows Peter Parker, he knows Gwen Stacy, and makes connections so quickly, it reads as incredibly lazy on the part of the writers.
As for Peter Park & Gwen Stacy themselves, their chemistry really works. Their performances anchor the movie when it starts to fall apart (and boy, does it start falling apart BAD). But, they build the love between them via Twilight. By having them make googly-eyes with each other, we’re supposed to believe that they’re REALLY in love. However, the choice that is made later in the film justifies that. It really works, and brings the entire film back around to working even when it doesn’t.
But, again… if this were to be its own story developed to be its own story, that would make it work more. But, as it stands, it is ONLY to be a bridge to The Sinister Six and Venom. That’s it. And, you know what, f*ck that. Tell a story. Tell a story that can stand on its own. Filmmaking of this kind is the most cynical type of filmmaking… It is ONLY devoted to continuing a franchise rather than telling an interesting story.
Speaking of cynical, Hans Zimmer’s score is instantly forgettable. Unlike his work in the world of DC, his attempt to replicate that bright and flashy Marvel style fails here. This film needs a James Horner or a Alan Silvestri to build a musical vocabulary here. Hans Zimmer is just the wrong man for the job.
In conclusion, I’ve heard alot of people talk trash about Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy. And, to be perfectly honest, of the three, there’s only one I’d go back and rewatch. But, the films in question told their own stories, and didn’t have the kind of big “rip-off-Marvel-Studios” formula that hinders this iteration of the character. Unlike these films, Sam Raimi’s characters have motivations that were real and believable. Unlike these films, Sam Raimi’s filmmaking wasn’t just to push other movies down people’s throats.
Here is where we are as a moviegoing public. This film isn’t bad. I spent a lot of time talking about the flaws, because that’s exactly what this film needs. But, you can go, watch it, not think too hard about it, and you’ll enjoy it. It’s good enough. But, if this is the kind of storytelling direction they’re going to go in, then I think they’ll have a hard time justifying the “Amazing” in the title.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier soundly and effortlessly erases all of my complaints about Marvel’s post-Avengers movies. My issues come down to scope. And, when I say that, what I mean to say is that Marvel’s movies feel small. They feel like they have the scope of a cable TV show. Every character in their own movies feel isolated from each other, and the world these characters inhabit never feel like they’re convincingly affected by the events of the previous movies.
These lingering complaints make me question why these characters are even in a connected cinematic universe at all.
But, in one fell swoop, Marvel Studios has crafted a movie that is at once smart, exciting, thrilling, and intriguing in more ways than one. Through the film’s just-over-two-hour runtime, the film directly addresses the events of “The Avengers”, and has wide-spreading effects on the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The hype is real. This is EASILY the best Marvel Studios film. Nothing comes close to this. Not even a little.
And, The Avengers? Yeah, this is better.
This all comes down to the essentials. The actors buy into this premise, and buy into this universe in a way I’ve never seen them do before. Chris Evans gets a lot of tough emotional levels to play with, and plays them perfectly. Captain America always felt like the most uninteresting character in “The Avengers”, and even his previous solo film felt a little forgettable. Not this time. Steve Rogers is given a fully realized story arc that expands upon the themes only briefly mentioned in previous films. He feels like a person this time, and you seriously feel like he’s in danger when the sh*t goes down. He’s no longer just a blank slate.
The movie puts his character through some tough sh*t. Unlike “Captain America: The First Avenger”, Captain America has to earn his victories, and none of them are easy. He’s faced with an enemy that is every bit as strong as he is. And, he’s also faced with an organization that is corrupt.
One could compare this (at least in tone and plot) to a Tom Clancy novel. This feels like a Jack Ryan type of adventure. There is a great bit of the movie that feels like a political thriller as opposed to a comic book movie. It’s like “The Dark Knight” in that way. It nearly transcends the realm of comic books and superheroes. Notice I said “nearly”… We’ll get to that in a minute.
But, Chris Evans is surrounded by grade-A performances. Robert Redford especially, he adds something to this movie (and his role) that I’m convinced the movie did not come prepackaged with. Redford plays this seriously, and not like he’s in a comic book movie.
We get a lot of different dimensions from characters that are usually underwritten. Nick Fury gets some great moments, and his conflict gives the movie that “scope” I was talking about. This isn’t just about an adventure. This isn’t about Tony Stark hanging out with kids, and wearing stupid “Dora The Explorer” watches. This isn’t about Loki mugging for the camera and getting more story development than the character who’s name is in the f*cking title of the movie. This is an examination of S.H.I.E.L.D., and an exploration of Captain America’s unease with the kind of super soldier he was groomed to be. This movie makes us question our allegiance to these characters in ways that I never ever imagined a Marvel film would do.
Where the movie really excels is in the action sequences, which are some of the most ambitious that Marvel has ever put to film. The Winter Soldier feels like an adversary that is actually strong. Another problem with Marvel’s previous films are their villains. They usually end up being a bunch of weak nobodies (let’s not even get into “The Mandarin” again). Here, the bar is raised, and so are the stakes in every possible way.
So, I might be gushing about the movie. Are there issues? Yes. Namely the big twist in the movie. The film had a steady clip of believability. At the point where the twist happens, I was thinking “if this film has the courage to stick with this kind of plausibility, this could be on a Dark Knight level of comic book movie. This could be a classic”. But, they stretch the believability in a way that I can’t really talk about or reveal without spoiling a huge part of the 3rd act. Let’s just say I wasn’t a big fan of where it goes. It’s still good, but it could’ve been great.
That aside, this is an absolute first rate comic book film, and the very best that Marvel has to offer. The stakes are raised, there are consequences that affected the MCU in serious ways. For the first time, I’m genuinely excited to see what comes next, and praise doesn’t get much higher than that. See this at your earlier convenience on the largest screen possible.