Friday, May 6, 2016

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR - E Pluribus Unum

At some point, it's going to be impossible to even pretend that whatever MARVEL Studio's latest comic book adaptation is somehow qualifies as a gamble. Make no mistake, some genuinely were (Can Iron Man carry a film? Will the Avengers even work at all? Who are the Guardians of the What Now? Is Ant-Man more than a joke?), but at this point, what was once a maverick operation is now the most well-oiled hit-making machine in Hollywood and has reshaped the entire film industry as we know it.

And yet, the fact that Captain America's third film comes as the "prestige" of the first genuine superhero movie hat-trick (the cap, if you will, to a legit back-to-front great superhero trilogy) still makes it seem like this outfit is pulling off miracles.

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.