Posts Tagged ‘movies’

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By @anarchyroll

For as much money as the X Men movie franchise has netted over the last two decades, one would think they would have a better reputation and wouldn’t be in need of saving. But that is exactly where the franchise found itself heading into Logan this past spring.

Logan recently had its home release, coming out on Blu Ray, digital download, etc. I saw it in the theater and absolutely loved it from the opening blood bath, to the bloodier climax, to the era ending book end as the credits rolled.

The movie got lots of press and lots of positive reviews that were both well-earned in my opinion. One thing that I didn’t see get much coverage was the fact that the movie was not a take on the Old Man Logan graphic novel but was rather a classic “What If” or alternate version/universe comic book. My personal favorite series of alternate universe comic books were the Marvel vs DC crossover comics from the mid 90s.

Logan was a critical and commercial smash hit. Something the X Men franchise desperately needed. One has to wonder if the movie’s success will bring about more alternate universe comic book movies going forward. What other franchise(s) could benefit from abandoning their current story arc/ timeline and making a stand a lone film with the same characters but in a completely different story arc?

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Doing this would immediately eliminate the need to constantly remake origin story movies as has been seen ad nauseum in the Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and X Men movie franchises. That alone makes this concept worth moving forward on. It would certainly draw in more fans that are often scarred away from seeing comic book movies over the dread of having to sit through yet another origin story.

Alternate universe films would spice things up and could resurrect dead franchises. The Fantastic Four immediately comes to mind. Why not just abandon another reboot and just make a film where they are in space dealing with Galactus? A dormant franchise like Blade could benefit from this as well. Whether Wesley Snipes returns or the role is recast, forget retelling the birth of Blade, just drop the audience into Blade doing work. Put the origin story in the trailer or as a mini film on YouTube and let the movie be balls to the wall from open to close.

More comic book movies can be made using alternate universes, just like is done with comic books. How many timeline versions of Batman, Captain America, The Avengers, and Green Lantern are currently in circulation? Alternate universes would allow stand alone Iron Man, Cyborg, Hulk, Green Lantern, X Men, etc movies to be made while Avengers and Justice League movies are being made. Why does only one actor/actress have to play Tony Stark or Diana Prince?

Would this over saturate the market? I ask you, how many comic book movies actually come out each year? Compared to horror movies, rom coms, and CGI animated kids movies?

Fox has essentially started moving forward on this concept over the past three years. Days of Futures Past and Old Man Logan are two of the better alternate universe comic book series’ in history. Marvel is balancing standalone franchises with each individual member of The Avengers between each super film. Tying the individual films into the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe story arc is both an entertaining and financially successful archetype.

With the financial backing of Disney, and such a vast amount of profit earned, Marvel can financially and creatively afford to take the risk of releasing alternate universe movies concurrently. DC might have to wait a few years to reestablish their credibility with the movie going public. Though the wild success of Wonder Woman might allow them to start earlier if they want.

Something tells me this is inevitable with the way the entertainment/ media industry is evolving. Netflix and The CW having their own comic book worlds of secondary characters is likely just a long-term test for the A listers to have; high budget super hero, slow burn narrative, action adventure, television shows in the spirit of Game of Thrones.

The tipping/saturation point for comic book movies and tv shows has not come close to being reached. The numbers don’t lie. People wont go see any comic book movie if it is poorly made and receives more reviews. However, one need only look at the highest grossing movies for each year over the past decade to see that there is a vast, loyal, paying audience for comic book movies. Having comic book characters played by different actors and actresses in alternate universes, made and released concurrently is the next logical step for the genre.

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Ten years and a reboot later X Men 3 #2 finally got the franchise to the fireworks factory or in this case, to the CGI fire bird.

The previous two films in the franchise (First Class, Days of Futures Past) set a high bar for Apocalypse to live up to creatively and commercially. Luckily the first X Men 3 (The Last Stand) as well as Origins Wolverine set a very, very low bar. So the average bar height set by both eras of X Men movies left a medium, reasonably placed bar for the second X Men 3 to reach or jump over.

The combination of Last Stand being one of my most disliked films ever, and Days of Futures Past being one of my favorite comic book movies ever, has created a rose-colored paradigm of which I see anything on a screen with X Men in the title.  I have a specific soft spot for X Men because of the fabulous 90s cartoon. I also have a general softspot for popcorn blockbusters that make genuine attempt to be films/works of art rather than just another disposable consumer good.

The opening sequence of X Men Apocalypse is so good and so comic book authentic, it almost  creates a let down when the rest of the movie doesn’t follow suit with its authenticity to the source material. This is not an Age of Apocalypse movie, which is unfortunate but understandable. However, the effort and execution of adding depth to all of the main characters and to even the second the tertiary characters during the middle act is much appreciated and does the job of creating emotional investment in the story arc.

The climax of the movie had me popping like a kid again and required restraint to not stand and clap. Though what unfolds at the end of this X Men 3 would have been more fitting at the end of the first X Men 3, it’s better late than never. The writing, acting, cinematography, and directing all came together beautifully.

The scene before the final credits rolled left me hoping/wondering if a live action series is on the way with a clear tip of the cap paid to the 90s cartoon with a very out-of-place Mystique, though Mystique has been misplaced in every movie since they cast an A level actress to play a B level villain.

Better late than never is what kept coming to mind as I left the theater. Though this movie is very much what The Last Stand was supposed to be, nothing can wash the taste of that Brett Ratner disaster from my mouth or my mind. However, the new trilogy led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawerence has been of a consistent high enough quality to forgive the shortcomings of he original trilogy.

And by shortcomings of the original trilogy I of course mean the third one was so bad it was enough to taint the excellence of X2  and the acceptable quality of the original X Men movie. Seriously what the fuck were they thinking with The Last Stand?!

Anyway, a live action series would obviously welcome. An entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the Infinity War movies would be ideal. But if those are both pie in the sky wishful thoughts, then a fourth installment with this cast is very much welcome as the New Class Trilogy has given me every reason to believe that another film will be a high quality piece of pop art as long as they don’t allow Brett Ratner to cast Hugh Jackman’s replacement.

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By @anarchyroll

Big and dark. DC Comics is about making their movie adaptations big and dark. Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice is very big for a variety of reasons. The budget to make it and the budget to advertise it can both be described as very big. The opening weekend box office numbers for the movie can be described as very big. One movie featuring two of the very biggest American pop culture icons in history which had very big expectations.

In 2005 director Christopher Nolan continued a tradition started by Frank Miller in the 1980s of putting forth a darker vision and version of iconic Batman character and franchise. A vision that got even darker with the phenomenally successful and pop culture crossover hit The Dark Knight.

In 2013 the sixth feature film in the historic Superman franchise followed in the footsteps of the darker vision and version of the character that started the golden age of comic books in 1942. Man of Steel took the Frank Miller/ Christopher Nolan archetype and applied to the comic book superhero who is the undisputed champion of squeaky clean, good guy. Change can be painful and is often met with resistance. Many people resisted the new vision/version of Superman that was presented on the big screen in Man of Steel.

After Nolan wrapped up his Dark Knight trilogy director Zack Snyder decided to follow in the footsteps of Frank Miller and Christopher Nolan by presenting a darker, grittier, more violent version of Batman on the big screen. Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice is both a direct sequel to Man of Steel and a reboot of the Batman film franchise, BOTH in the archetype of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns character archetype.

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Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice is a very big film and a very dark film. On the big screen it felt like more of a pop art multimedia piece than a summer blockbuster released in early spring. But it had far too many explosions to not be a blockbuster movie. But it still had more than enough metaphoric uses of cultural and religious iconography to make alternative, artsy types happy.

The film has multiple homages paid to The Dark Knight Returns series/ graphic novel. It has many homages to the comic book history of both characters. Something that many people criticize non Marvel Studies comic book films are prone to failing to do. It also officially launched the DC film universe following in the footsteps of Marvel.

I think because DC is following in Marvel’s footsteps, that DC should be making all of their movies using the Marvel model. DC is doing quite the opposite. They are being different. And many people don’t like different.

The DC Universe is more dark, dramatic, and edgy than the Marvel Universe (up to this point). If all Marvel movies were made like the first two Blade movies with Wesley Snipes, both cinematic universes would be more similar than different.
DC is trying to make films, Marvel is making blockbusters. There is a difference.

I would consider Batman/Superman a success. I think it succeeded on many levels. It certainly appealed to me on many levels. Many others would disagree. I found the movie to be a great combination of pop art and popcorn cinema. I thought the cinematography and especially the writing to be exceptional. I find Zack Snyder’s use of mise on scène to be on par with most of the contemporary great filmmakers.

Batman/Superman is NOT made as a product made for mass consumption. It is not trying to compete with Captain America Civil War for box office supremacy, it is trying to compete with Mad Max Fury Road and The Revenant for Oscar consideration(s).

Whether it succeeds at that is another thing. Many who have seen the movie can’t get their own cynicism or entitlement of having their personal imagination manifested on screen, out of the way to try and enjoy Batman Superman Dawn of Justice for what it literally is. Not for what it could have been or should be in the What If Ward of Imagination Land.

mm@C4logo2ajclogo2by @anarchyroll
10/26/2014

Is it a prequel or not? I mean, it’s kinda the same movie. They’re kinda hinting at it. The names are different but it’s the same premise with the same character archetypes.

Wait, isn’t that the…?

Am I writing about Prometheus or The Equalizer?

Exactly

One of my personal favorite action movies is Man on Fire from 2004 also starring Denzel Washington as essentially the same character he plays in The Equalizer. The only difference is the drinking.

Does this sound like a critical review? Well if I liked Man on Fire then I certainly liked The Equalizer. The only reason a person wouldn’t be required to turn their brain off, kick back, and have a good time watching the gory action scenes is to wonder if this movie is in some way connected to Man on Fire.

The ex-CIA expert assassin is a character type that Denzel Washington has come to love playing in the twilight of his career. And he plays them well. Let’s be honest, Denzel Washington plays most if not every type of character well. He is one of the better American actors of the last quarter century.

The Equalizer, like Man on Fire is not rushed, there is an abundance of character development, dialogue, and build up before the explosion of action that comes at the climax. The end of the movie gets wrapped up in such a neat, bow wrapped package, there is no reason that Denzel’s character can’t go into the sunlight, get burned out on some new mission, and end up in Mexico City seeking work as a bodyguard.

The Equalizer is less about explosions and more about gory killings from both the antagonist and protagonist.

The supporting cast is a little weaker in Equalizer compared to Fire but neither movie is about the supporting cast. It is about Denzel’s acting and the innovation of the execution scenes, scenes plural, both films have a lot of gruesome executions.

Check out The Equalizer if you’re a fan of Denzel, films that don’t require thinking, or gory deaths.

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by @anarchyroll
7/5/2014

While getting my BA I took a decent amount of film classes. Between film, television, and video studies I took eight classes that focused on the history of or making of the electronic visual medium(s).

I used to be quite the amateur, wannabe, cynical critic of movies. I assumed that knowing the history, terminology, etc would make me an even sharper critic since I would have actual knowledge to go with my sarcasm and self-proclaimed high level of taste. Instead the opposite happened.

Learning about the visual art of film making from misé en scene, cinematography, editing, set design, rule of thirds, set design, and the history of film from Edison and the Lumiere Brothers to the first talkies to the second golden age of American film in the 1970s gave me a true appreciation for almost all films and major motion pictures, even the bad ones. I really grew to appreciate the effort that goes into making a movie/television show.

That doesn’t mean that I confuse shit for steak, but I often see the good in the bad films, and rather than spend time, effort, energy, and emotion throwing shade at a lackluster film, I just follow the “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” paradigm.

I was and still am completely blown away by how much goes into making a movie. Even bad movies, even Michael Bay movies.

I thought studying film would turn me into a film snob who only liked avant-garde, black and white, indie flicks.

Instead my taste in film didn’t really change at all. In fact, the blockbuster movies I tend to see in movie theaters, I came to enjoy even more. Why? Because film is a visual medium. Big budget blockbusters are basically 100% tailored to be visual stimulation. Heaven knows most of them aren’t going to pull on the emotional strings based on their script(s). When I learned that nothing that appears on-screen of a film’s final cut is an accident, my appreciation and fandom grew.

My educated eyes allowed me to be more easily sucked into James Bond and comic book blockbuster movies, rather than more skeptical of them.

What I really learned in studying the history and processes of film, television, video production, directing, editing, cinematography, script writing and acting besides the terminology is an appreciation of each. That is why when I read cynical reviews online and in print all I see is bitter, childish, ego centered pouting by a failed artist/creator who now judges others. It’s why all of the film reviews I’ve posted on this blog have been pretty positive even though I have seen and written about some pretty underwhelming films.

I encourage anyone reading this to take a film history or art of film and video class. It will literally change the way you see what you see when you look at a screen, and that is a good thing.

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by @anarchyroll
2/11/2014

I have been thinking about a culture and entertainment blog. I don’t have a logo for it yet, though I do have a name. In the past, not having a logo led to me not writing/blogging which was a mistake. I am trying to not repeat the same mistakes over and over. So, since I have seen two movies in a movie theater two weeks in a row for the first time in around two years, and enjoyed both of them, I feel a blog about them is warranted. Let’s go!

American Hustle (click images to view trailers) has gotten a great deal of praise and Oscar buzz. I found many similarities between this movie and The Monuments Men. Both are based on true stories. Both have all star casts. Both are classic Hollywood cinema pieces. The Monuments Men however has been getting shit on by critics where as American Hustle is all roses.

I enjoyed both movies equally. I was more emotionally moved by The Monuments Men, probably more entertained by American Hustle. As someone who has formally studied film, I just don’t see why one is considered an Oscar front runner and the other is a one or two star POS. Both films are formulaic. Both stand on the shoulders of genre pieces that have come before them and do nothing to reinvent the wheel. Both are almost exclusively dialog based. Both have happy endings. Both are well acted, well produced, and have quality musical scores.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and personal opinion is not to be confused with law of the land. When it comes to pop culture, even very smart, educated, sophisticated people become immature, ignorant, thick headed bitches. This principle is clearly at play here. I enjoyed both  movies. Are either the best film made in 2013-2014? Maybe, depends what your fancy is. I have an equal bias between Bill Murray and Bradley Cooper, they’re both on my hero wall. Perhaps the acting in American Hustle is more intense in one on one scenes, but the ensemble piece paradigm is executed very well in Monuments Men.

I personally enjoyed a WWII movie that was low on nausea induced action scenes. I also enjoyed a movie about New York in the 70s that didn’t involve physical mountains of cocaine and heroin being ingested by the main characters. I enjoyed the historical significance of both of the real people/situations each movie is based on. Both are fresh but familiar, a unique spin on classic American movie formulas. Both are worth a watch, neither is worthy of being confused for the messiah of film and neither tries to be that despite what the lovers and haters of each might have you believe.

Neither depends on the theatre experience so enjoy them on a night in when they get to Netflix. I give them both three stars and recommend the critics of each chill the fuck out. They’re movies, not economic inequality, war, or famine. If you have the luxury of being able to go through the processes of watching a movie, be happy, and enjoy either or both of these quality flicks.