Friday, March 25, 2016

BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUST...JUST STOP

Please, DC/WB. Just stop. Please.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

DEADPOOL - Aim to Misbehave

Sometimes a movie comes along that redefines a genre, that reshapes a movie landscape entirely - a  wake-up call to an industry in the form of a seismic pop-culture event which pulls everything else along in its wake.

. . . And sometimes you just get a movie that's a load of self-aware adolescent humor wrapped around cartoonish violence and bare flesh.

Of course, sometimes you get, as Star Lord would say, a bit of both.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2015 - A Look Back in Film

With the new year's movie season finally underway and the Oscars at the end of this month, I figured I'd reflect on the past year - the highs, the lows, the cream of the crop, and the bottom of the barrel. As well as the surprises and notable fizzles.

Because last year was so damn good, I'm just not ready to be through with it yet.

Friday, January 1, 2016

THE HATEFUL EIGHT - Dead Men Tell no Tales

*Note - this pertains to the "Roadshow Version" of The Hateful Eight, which contains roughly 20 minutes of extra footage compared to the theatrical wide release (as well as an overture and intermission).

Quentin Tarantino is, not to mince words, one of the best filmmakers in the business. Not just because he can take genre hallmarks, aesthetics, and needle drops from various decades and combine them into a personal cinematic whole in a way most directors could only dream, but because he also imbues what could be dismissed as violent indulgence from most others with thematic resonance and surprising hilarity. In some of his most careful balancing acts, it's almost like Tarantino is daring the audience to enjoy what they might normally find reproachful, because he knows he can get away with it.

And with The Hateful Eight, Tarantino spends an entire film seeing exactly how far he can walk this very tightrope, while his film screams angrily at the current state of the country from the setting of a century and a half in our sordid past.

Friday, December 18, 2015

STAR WARS - The Fan-service Awakens

It's been ten years since the last STAR WARS movie, and more than 32 years since the last cinematic adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa. So let's be honest, you already know if you're going to see The Force Awakens or not.

But is it good? Yes. Does it wash the taste of the horribly miscalculated Prequel Trilogy from the galaxy? Triumphantly. Was it worth the wait? Mostly. Is it as good as the Original Trilogy?

Well, maybe. If we're only talking about Jedi.

Friday, November 27, 2015

CREED - Earning a Legacy

2015 has already seen one decades-old franchise revival become a major success, and asking for more than that almost seems greedy. But this year's cinematic cup runneth over, and so yet another 1970's film series is finding new life and (potentially) new audiences. However, where Mad Max: Fury Road was another installment with a new actor but the same director telling the next disconnected mythic story of the Road Warrior, Creed comes from journeyman director Ryan Coogler but still follows Sylvester Stallone as the Italian Stallion as he trains a firey new fighter.

For the first time in franchise history, Stallone didn't write the screenplay (he also directed every other film after the original), but the infusion of both Coogler's passionate cinematic storytelling and the talents of Michael B. Jordan as the titular son of Apollo Creed infuse the nearly 40-year-old franchise with potent new life.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

SPECTRE - Of the Past

It's ironic that a film series as long-running and influential as the adventures of James Bond should be defined by how it reacts, but the Bond movies have always been cultural omnivores. Not only do the films play to the tastes of the time (the series has catapulted from spy fiction, "blaxploitation" cinema, and space opera to violent 80's action, digital warfare, outright farce, and grounded rebooting over the years), but has also been a series of reactions to the previous film of the series.

Used correctly, this can lead to a distillation of the character appropriate for post-USSR espionage (see: Goldeneye) or the 00 version of Batman Begins (Casino Royale). Unfortunately for SPECTRE, the 24th entry, the "wisdom" gained from looking outward and inward seems to have gone something like this:


"Hey, people loved Skyfall - let's do all those themes, beats, and stakes again!"

"Yeah, but audiences really like MARVEL movies - let's also rip off big chunks of that Captain America sequel that had a S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-esque organization hiding in plain sight."



"Brilliant!"

...Yeah. It doesn't work out too well.