Martin Scorsese Is Producing A ‘Joker’ Movie. Yes, Really.

Why so serious?

In addition to work on Justice League and the slate of the DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros. recently announced that they’re working on another surprise spinoff project. It is a prequel to the iconic Batman villain The Joker, and it will reportedly launch a new wave of DC movies unrelated to the DCEU.

What. Even.

The project is being produced by the masterful Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Shutter Island) and will be set in the criminal underworld of the 1980’s. The Hangover director Todd Phillips and 8 Mile scribe Scott Silver are penning the script, with Phillips also expected to direct the project as well.

So much to unpack here. First of all, Martin Scorsese working on a JOKER MOVIE?! HOLY COW. Scorsese’s filmography is as large as it is influential, with works such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas considered by many to be among the greatest films of all time. With him taking a back seat in the producer’s chair, however, we can’t get too excited as he won’t be as involved with the film as Phillips and Silver will be. Still, knowing that the producer behind Free Fire, Bleed For This, as well as the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself is exciting in of itself. It will be interesting to see what elements Scorsese exactly contributes to The Joker, although I wish he could be more hand’s-on with the film than he already is.

As for Phillips and Silver, they are… fine, I guess. Silver is more impressive considering he also penned The Fighter in addition to 8 Mile. Phillips, however, is where I am most concerned. His work has been inconsistent at its best, abhorrent at its worst. I can’t think of the last time I laughed at one of his movies besides the meagerly funny moments in Due Date, and as far as I can tell he’s very unpolished when it comes to directing drama. That’s not to say he can’t do a good job at directing The Joker. Shoot, Jurassic Park III’s director Joe Johnston made Captain America: The First Avenger, and that still ranks among the MCU’s best. I’m just curious where Phillips is going to take it is all. He’ll definitely need a helping hand from Scorsese and Silver if this prequel is going to work.

What I’m more interested in is the fact that this is a film OUTSIDE of the DCEU. This means that aside from The Dark Knight universe and the DCEU, this is an open canvas for these filmmakers. They have complete creative freedom for how they take on and portray this character. This is both exciting and terrifying news, because as we all know, too much creative freedom can lead to some disastrous decisions (as evidenced by the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice).

Who will portray the Joker? Which comic book storylines are they going to pull from? Will it be inspired by previous on-screen iterations of the Joker, or will they be going in an entirely new direction?

Questions, questions, questions, all of which we’ll have to wait for the answers to. Hopefully we won’t be waiting too long.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Deadline, MoviePilot
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Obi-Wan Is Returning To Theaters

I’ve got a great feeling about this.

In a surprise development, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the next spinoff film in the expanded Star Wars franchise. It is none other than ol’ Ben himself, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

 

SOURCE: LucasFilm

So far, there’s very little confirmed about the project besides that it’s focused on Obi-Wan. We don’t know if Ewan McGregor is returning or not, we don’t know if it’s taking place before or after the prequel trilogy, and we don’t know how exactly Obi-Wan will fit into the expanded Star Wars universe. All we know at this point is that the film will feature the esteemed jedi and that Billy Elliot filmmaker Stephen Daldry is expected to direct.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for anything Star Wars-related, especially when it comes to Obi-Wan. But out of all of the spinoff stories Disney could have adapted, why did they pick him? Yoda and Boba Fett have been fan favorites for just as long and are spinoffs viewers have supported and actively campaigned for. And unlike Obi-Wan, there is much to Yoda and Boba Fett’s stories that we still don’t know about. How did Yoda become a jedi? How did Boba Fett become a bounty hunter? What were they doing in the years since Order 66 was carried out?

Unlike Obi-Wan, there is still much left unknown about these characters, and Disney is actually considering spinoffs featuring them as well. It just seems strange to me that it’s taken so long to get there whereas characters like Han Solo and Obi-Wan have just immediately taken off. We’ll have to wait and see where exactly their stories will take them though.

What do you guys think? Are you excited for an Obi-Wan movie, or would you have preferred another Star Wars spinoff? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, ComingSoon.net

No Confederacy, No Common Sense

SOURCE: Ringo Chiu/Getty Images

I was 12 years old when I saw a confederate flag for the first time outside of a classroom. I was at first disoriented by the sight: confused that after a war had ended for nearly 150 years, a flag was still being hoisted that wasn’t our own. I asked my dad why that flag was hanging on the back of our neighbor’s truck. He said that she was “representing her Southern pride.”

I’ve never understood why someone would be proud enough to represent the Confederate flag. It makes no sense. Take away the racial and historical implications behind the flag for a second. Who in their right mind would be proud of something that is most known for losing? That would be like admitting that you’re a Detroit Lions fan, or that you like listening to Nickelback. Once those opinions have left your lips, everything else that comes out afterwards has an embarrassing odor of stupid trailing it everywhere. You support the Confederacy? Good luck being taken seriously after confessing that, folks. I would probably find it funny, if it wasn’t already so pathetic.

Regardless of what you think, the open display of the Confederate flag is a debate that rages on, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to deescalate anytime soon. The more recent controversy spurring on the discussion is the “Unite the Right” protests going on in Charlottesville, VA, where white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members flooded the streets and caused a state of emergency before killing three people and injuring 38 others.

“Unite the Right”? Ha. More like “Unite the White.”

I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about these protests, it broke my heart. I lived briefly in Charlottesville for a time last year, and the city that I remembered leaving was a bright, friendly place where you could strike up a conversation with anyone you met on the street. It wasn’t a hateful, divisive place. It wasn’t unsafe or shady. It was simply a beautiful city, and I roamed the downtown restaurants and venues freely and with ease. I will always have fond memories of Charlottesville and even plan to revisit at some point in the future, preferably before David Duke blows it to hell with a wooden cross burning over it.

So when I heard that once again racist and hate-fueled bigots were protesting in the town, the first thing I asked myself was why? Why were they making all of this fuss? Of course, racists like the KKK don’t need much reason to destroy public property, but nevertheless I was curious of their reasoning. What led them to such a violent escapade?

Well apparently all of this started when the Robert E. Lee statue was reportedly being taken down back in May. After news came out, white supremacists took to the streets in June, July, and August before their most violent outing yet on Saturday. By the way, after all of their protesting, Lexington mayor Jim Gray said they’re going to bring down two more confederate statues in response to their protests, and many more are following in his example. The “Unite the Right/White” march ended up harming the supremacist’s cause rather than helping it.

Like I said, an embarrassing odor of stupid trailing them everywhere.

Cartoon by Andrew David Cox

But it did get me thinking. White supremacists are very protective of their Confederate paraphernalia when it is threatened by the masses. Seriously, they turn into the most fragile little snowflakes you’ve ever seen, turning red anytime they see a pixel of blue floating near their precious flags. This overprotective mentality shows a rare vulnerability in white supremacists. At that point, you would reasonably think that the best way to disarm white supremacy would be to tear down confederate artifacts. After all, Germany doesn’t have Nazi symbolism publicly displayed anymore. Why would America have Confederate symbolism still exist 150 years later?

This is where things get really confusing, because while white supremacy is still very much a real threat, people continue to defend these supremacists and their hateful symbols. That to me is even weirder, because who in their right mind looks at a Nazi beating up somebody in the street, gives a thumbs up and says “You keep doing you, sir! You have every right to hate whoever you want!”

There are many arguments that pro-confederate advocates use to defend their claims. Allow me to deconstruct each of them.

“It’s for historical preservation.”

First of all, there’s a big difference between remembering history and reliving it. Remembering history means recounting past events and allowing them to influence your future decisions. Reliving it means re-enacting past practices to keep those ideologies alive.  A good way to differentiate is by judging the quality of the object’s preservation. Is the object properly stored away and maintained in a proper condition? Or is it constantly in use and faces regular wear-and-tear damage?

This is why the “historical” argument makes no sense to me. The core argument is based on preserving history, but the open public use of the flag is not even for preservation. It’s for decoration. And who in their right mind would want to decorate their belongings with something as ugly and putrid as the Confederate flag?

Then asks the Neo-Nazi “But if we can’t fly it, where do we put it?” You know, there are these amazing institutions called MUSEUMS that are specifically made for the purpose of storing and preserving ancient artifacts. You should try visiting one sometime, you might learn something for a change.

“Those people are exercising their freedom of speech.”

Nobody is denying that someone has the right or ability to openly share and express these ideas. That’s not the point. The point is should they express them? And if they do, does that automatically take away our right to speak out against them?

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. If you’re going to say or represent hateful ideas, you should reasonably expect blow back from your critics, and you equally shouldn’t discourage those people for exercising the same rights as you do.

Here’s another way to view it. Say a man walks up to a woman in the middle of the street and calls her fat. The woman starts crying, local on-lookers start rushing to her defense and criticize the man for his hateful words. Now, with you bearing witness to all this, are you more likely to defend the woman for being victimized, or are you more likely to defend the man and his right to free speech?

The correct answer is, of course, the woman, because any decent person would defend those who are being unnecessarily harassed. If you, however, answered the man under any circumstance, then you misunderstand the rights that our constitution grants us and should never be allowed to comment on politics ever again.

“We have to remember history so we don’t repeat it.”

Well we pretty much failed in that mission, haven’t we? After all, 46 percent of the country elected a president who was publicly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, hate groups have grown by 17% since election season began, and literal Nazis are marching in our streets. At this point, preventing history from repeating itself is no longer an option for us. We’re living in it right now.

COURTESY: The Inquisitr/ Rob Cotton

Look, I could counter every point thrown in my direction, but it’s not like it would make any difference. If this political season has shown anything, it has shown that people would rather sit inside their sheltered echo chambers instead of getting out and facing reality as it is. And right now the reality is we are living in one of our nation’s most divisive times in modern history.

Everyone is saying we need to end the hate and come together as one. This much is true. However, the people who divided us with their hate in the first place must be proactive in taking the first steps towards healing our nation. Because of this, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK must allow themselves to be disarmed as we tear down the symbols that inspire their racist-fueled agenda. This includes publicly displayed Confederate and Nazi artifacts.

I don’t want it to be like this. I would like a nation that is civil with each other and allows free, respectful discussion of these issues. But if one side is going to be intolerant with their movement, they cannot blame us if we in turn refuse to tolerate their insolence. It’s okay to tolerate different political ideas. It is not okay to tolerate overt racism and hatred. Unfortunately, our nation has come to that point.

I understand that the removal of Confederate and Nazi images won’t stop the issues this country is facing. Still, we need to take a stand. We must. If we claim that America is for the land of the free and home of the brave, then we must demonstrate that by being brave and fighting for those freedoms.

Removing Confederate symbols won’t cure this country of the hatred that has infested it. But it’s a good place to start.

– David Dunn

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Stephen Lang is going to be in ‘Avatar 2’. And ‘3’. And ‘4’. And ‘5’.

Please tell me this is a joke.

Good God. This is not a joke. It’s real.

Speaking with Empire magazine, writer-director James Cameron made a shocking reveal about his Avatar sequels. Reportedly working on four additions to the franchise, Cameron said that each movie would not feature a different villain, but rather all of them will have the same antagonist: Colonel Quaritch.

You know, Stephen Lang.

THE GUY WHO DIED AT THE END OF THE FIRST MOVIE.

SOURCE: 20th Century Fox

Saying that the sequels will feature a lot of the same characters from the first installment, Cameron said the idea is to place them in different settings in pursuit of this grander journey.

“There’s not a new villain every time,” Cameron said. “Same guy. Same m———- through all four movies. He is so good and he just gets better. I know Stephen Lang is gonna knock this out of the park.”

I–

Wait–

What?

HOW DOES THIS EVEN WORK?!

We watched the guy get two poisonous arrows SHOT THROUGH HIS CHEST and collapse under a giant metal suit.

DOES HIS MIND BECOME AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND HAUNT THE NA’VI IN THEIR SLEEP???

I’m sorry for being ecstatic, but I am just… so… confused. Cameron has brought characters back from death before in other movies, most notably from Terminator and its sequel. But there it makes sense because the T-800 is a freaking robot. What is Quaritch’s excuse? He’s secretly an undercover angel?

Ultimately, I’m going to try and give Cameron the benefit of the doubt on this one. He’s a well-versed filmmaker and storyteller, and he hasn’t significantly failed us before. But signing on a dead character as the lead villain for all of its sequels? That seems really forced. As a passionate fan for the original Avatar, I’ll admit this concerns me on which direction they’re deciding to take for the franchise’s future.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to Stephen Lang’s return to Avatar, or do you wish he stayed buried beneath Pandora? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Empire, Collider

Milla Jovovich Cast as ‘HellBoy’ Villain

Things are heating up for Universal’s Hellboy reboot. And what else could be hotter than Milla Jovovich?

A report recently came out that Resident Evil star Milla Jovovich will be portraying the villain for the Hellboy reboot. More specifically, she will be portraying Nimue, named specifically in the project’s updated title, Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. She is joined by co-stars David Harbour as Hellboy and Ian McShane as Professor Broom.

This casting news is… interesting, to say the least. While the Resident Evil films are largely terrible, overblown, cliche-ridden travesties, Jovovich was one of the few highlights in that series and gave the sci-fi zombie-action genre the vicious heroine that it deserved. I’m sure for Hellboy her role will be significantly toned down and given more finesse (with better CGI, hopefully). Still, it will be interesting to see her take on a villain role for a change. This will either be a career maker or breaker for her slate.

The film is being directed by Neil Marshall, most known for “Game of Thrones” and The Descent fame, and is reportedly aiming for an R rating. It is expected to be released in 2018.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Deadline, Bloody Disgusting

White House, You’re Fired

After a series of shocking firings and resignations, President Donald Trump took his boldest step yet in firing the White House.

No, not the White House staff. The actual White House.

After openly calling the White House “a real dump” earlier this week, Trump fired the White House due to dissatisfaction with the décor and for suspected assistance in leaking to the press. Trump took to Twitter to voice his dissatisfaction with the inanimate object’s performance:

The announcement came after the sudden removal of communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was employed at the White House for less than two weeks. Other staffers fired or resigned during Trump’s tenure include press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus, FBI director James Comey, national security adviser Michael Flynn, attorney Preet Bharara, director of ethics Walter Shaub, communications director Michael Dubke, and attorney general Sally Yates.

With the administration now in the market for a new place of residence, it is unclear where exactly they plan to relocate during this transition period. However, Russian president Vladimir Putin offered the Kremlin as sanction for the sitting president, releasing a statement saying that he’d “be happy” to help his American comrades during this time.

The White House could not be reached for comment. Wait, sorry, guess I need to differentiate that now. The president’s office could not be reached for comment. The White House building itself, however, is very distraught, saying it wasn’t expecting to get fired after serving presidents for more than 200 years.

Meanwhile, the physical staff inside the White House are equally concerned and confused with the announcement. Chief of staff John Kelly said that while he respects the president’s decision, he doesn’t understand “how you can fire a building, unless you’re physically setting fire to it.” Kelly could not confirm if that was what the president really meant or not.

At a press briefing for the announcement, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t give a clear answer when asked about the nation’s future relationship with the White House, saying to reporters in the room “I… I don’t even know anymore.”

The White House is expected to fully vacate from the lawn by mid 2020.

– David Dunn

Disclaimer: This piece is satire and is not an accurate representation of current events.
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“DUNKIRK” Review (✫✫)

SOURCE: Warner Bros.

One week, one day, one hour.

It seems sacrilegious to criticize the masterful Christopher Nolan on film. Still, nearly no one else is going to say this, so I will: Dunkirk sucks. In an age where there is no shortage of compelling war dramas, Dunkirk is confusing, lapsed, and misplaced in its direction. If that was painful for you to read, imagine how painful it was for me to type.

Retelling the events of the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II in 1940, Dunkirk follows British soldiers from three different battlegrounds: the land, the sea, and the sky. Exhausted after weeks of fighting in Dunkirk, British and French troops are cut off and surrounded by the German army, shooting down their ships and any support that can come through to rescue them. By every account, the Allies are in a dire situation. It’s not until British citizens, not soldiers, board their own sea boats and venture out themselves to rescue their soldiers. In a hastily collaborated effort to save their families and friends at war, about 80 sailor boats saved the lives of over 300,000 soldiers during the battle of Dunkirk. That is an incredible story, one that I’m sure the British retell with pride and patriotism.

The film stars Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, James D’Arcy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. I identify the cast by their real names instead of their characters because that’s all you’re going to recognize them by. While strong characters are present in most of Nolan’s wider filmography, Dunkirk’s heroes are mostly forgettable on and off the battlefield. That’s because they meander from crisis to crisis, reacting as they go, only rarely having time to slow down for us to care about them or invest in their plights. If you’re going into Dunkirk expecting a lot of buildup to the character’s backstory, chances are you’re going to be disappointed. They’re not as fleshed out as Nolan’s other cinematic heroes are.

That being said, I understand why this is the case in the context of this film. It’s because Nolan wasn’t trying to write compelling characters for Dunkirk. He was trying to write compelling scenarios, and the character’s purposes were more or less meant as surrogates for us to project ourselves onto in order to be more immersed in the chaos on-screen. It’s been done before in film, and it’s been done well. Eraserhead had a mostly silent protagonist so we could more easily digest the confusion and horror the character was experiencing, while Boyhood had a mostly flat lead just so we could more accessibly relive our own childhood memories and nostalgia.

Nolan attempted to use surrogate characters for the same purposes in Dunkirk, and for the most part, he succeeded. That’s because the details he takes away from the people, he invests into the battlefield, and man are the battle scenes visceral. I’ve heard millions of gunshots from hundreds of other films during my career, yet the first time I heard that loud, ear-piercing BANG in the theater from this movie, I immediately forgot everything else I experienced and was immersed in the moment of tension and paranoia during wartime. There’s a lot of scenes like that in Dunkirk, where the action and sound mixing is so sudden and unexpected that it immediately places you in the moment. My favorite scenes probably happened closer to the beginning, where soldiers were in rows quietly waiting to board a life vessel, only to hear a high-pitched hum slowly crescendo into an ear-piercing screech. The soldiers lifted their heads, their eyes widened in panic, and then they ducked down, bracing for impact. I don’t have to tell you what happens next.

The action, the sound, and the production value are all truly the most immersive elements in Dunkirk, and they all need to be praised for their usage in this film. If Nolan had stuck strictly to those elements and put the soldiers through disaster after disaster in a linear path, then he would have a solid, powerful film on his hands.

The problems come in with Nolan’s writing, more specifically with how he chooses to sequence the film’s events. In the film, the three perspectives Dunkirk focuses on all take place in different scopes of time, with the land being one week, the sea being one day, and the air being one hour. If the film followed their stories chronologically, then you would follow these perspectives in descending order from land to sea to sky.

The issue is Nolan starts and ends these narratives at the same time, with each of their stories being intertwined against each other just so they get equal screen time. This makes the film so convoluted, because even though each of the stories takes place at different times, they’re edited to look like they’re all happening at once. Because of this, similar events will repeat twice, the passage of time will go from night to day and then back to night, and then other times essential transitions are cut out altogether. The editing is so jarring and disjointed that it immediately removes us from the picture, forcing us to put our thinking caps on and piece events together like a puzzle instead of simply letting the experience wash over us.

I know, I know, confusing narratives are Nolan’s staple. Except that with his other films, the complexity leads to a point and purpose for their larger narrative. The dreams layered on top of each other in Inception illustrated the scope and stakes of what the characters were really dealing with. The dueling narratives in The Prestige put us in the middle of this warring rivalry between two conniving magicians. And the reverse narrative in Memento put us in Leonard’s shoes to show us the mental instability he dealt with everyday.

Complex narratives led to a larger payoff with Nolan’s other films. With Dunkirk, however, there is no payoff to the nonlinear storytelling. It’s just there to unnecessarily frustrate us and distract us from the larger spectacle going on.

The critics have more or less made up their minds on this one, however, with many calling Dunkirk one of the greatest war films ever made, with some even saying it’s Christopher Nolan’s best film. I expect moviegoing audiences to be more divided on the topic. Dunkirk sports amazing set pieces and action sequences, and it sure knows how to blow stuff up in spectacular PG-13 fashion. But the investment is gone. The care isn’t present. And no matter how much I want to like this movie, I can’t help but get pulled out of the experience every time another jarring cut removes me from the scene. Better war films, such as Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge, understand investment and how to involve its audiences in the tragedies of war. Those films are victories for WWII cinema. Dunkirk is a suicide bomber.

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“WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES” Review (✫✫✫✫)

SOURCE: 20th Century Fox

All hail Caesar.

We fade in on a series of words. Rise. Dawn. War. Perhaps these words could have been used to describe every conflict in human history. In this context however, they refer to the apes, who were once the inferior species on the planet, now becoming so powerful and so many that they’ve pushed humanity on the verge of extinction. The sad part is that it was never in the ape’s intentions to do so. Nature has simply taken its course.

In this penultimate moment building up over the course of several years, War for the Planet of the Apes finds the ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) picking up the pieces of his broken life. War with the humans ravages the ape’s home day by day. Apes are dying every week from the attacks. And no matter how much Caesar pushes for peace, the humans keep pushing back for war. Like any general during wartime, Caesar is stuck in a cycle of violence, and he’s powerless to do anything about it.

One day, the ape’s forest home is raided and they are forced to flee from the carnage. The apes band together and find a new, safe location miles away from the humans in the desert. Caesar, however, cannot forget or forgive the deaths that the humans have caused. Now determined to avenge his fallen brethren, Caesar sets out alone to find the man who killed them and finally end this insufferable war.

I never expected to get so wrapped up into a movie about talking monkeys fighting against human beings. I especially didn’t expect to be rooting against my own species. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when I watched War for the Planet of the Apes, an epic and emotional conclusion to this prequel trilogy that functions as a summer blockbuster, a war drama, and a somber tragedy all at once. Few films reach the depth and the complexion that War for the Planet of the Apes reaches, even fewer that belong to a franchise.

First things first: Andy Serkis as Caesar. Holy cow. Serkis has always been a powerhouse actor in motion-capture performances, with his roles ranging from the cowardly and bipolar Gollum in Lord of the Rings to the angry giant monster in King Kong. With Caesar, however, he’s always displayed an intimacy and acuteness to the character that makes him believable not just as an ape, but as a husband, father, and leader struggling with the consequences of war. With Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Serkis displays how accurate he can be in portraying animalistic behaviors. With War however, he displays that alongside the emotional gravity that is attached to Caesar, the internal conflict of an ape who longs for peace but is pursuing it through fields of dead bodies, human and ape alike. This is simply a masterful performance delivered by the talented Andy Serkis. If he does not get nominated for an Oscar for this performance, then he deserves a special achievement statuette at the very least.

The character is also written extremely well, just like all of the characters are in this epic. Reportedly sitting in a theater for hours just for the purpose of watching movies, director Matt Reeves and writer Mark Bomback pulls inspiration from any source they could find, from Bridge on the River Kawaii to Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. There really are a lot of similarities between War for the Planet of the Apes and other war dramas. The crippling effects on an established society, the murderous instinct that grows within its soldiers, the post-traumatic stress that comes from battle, even the God complexes that some generals amass victory after victory. This truly is a layered film, filled with a plethora of ideas and conflicts that make all the characters and their struggles interesting. A movie about talking animals has no business being this compelling or thought-provoking, yet War for the Planet of the Apes swiftly earns its title as the best Planet of the Apes movie out of the series.

The visual effects, of course, are as spectacular as they’ve always been. Not just with the explosions and action sequences, but also with its animation of the apes, their movements, and how they look and feel like real mutated animals. Viewers cried foul play a few years back when Dawn of the Planet of the Apes lost the best visual effects Oscar to Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. I genuinely believe this film has a better chance of nabbing the award than Dawn does, mostly because its job is so much harder. While the effects team still has to adapt the ape’s movements and mannerisms (even more this time, because the film almost entirely focuses on the ape’s perspective), they also have to animate the ape’s strained emotions and facial expressions. Capturing the intimacy of that is hard, especially in animated form. Yet when the ape’s tear up, cry, snort their nostrils in anger, or smile, it feels like a real animal is in front of you performing these movements, not a visual effects artist from behind a computer screen.

You should be aware that War for the Planet of the Apes is not an action film, even though it is marketed to look like one. I saw a lot of kids in the screening I attended, and many of them were restless and anxious because there wasn’t a lot of movement happening on-screen. That doesn’t mean that the film is boring, but it does mean that it takes time to build up its story and illustrate the emotions that characters are experiencing. Because it takes this time to invest in itself, War for the Planet of the Apes ends up becoming a masterful picture, equal parts powerful, emotional, and morally conflicting. I knew there had to be some reason why it’s main protagonist was named after a Shakespearean tragedy.

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Disney Rolls Out The Magic Carpet For ‘Aladdin’

A whole new world is opening up for Disney, and it’s coming in the form of Mena Massoud.

A lot happened this past weekend at D23. Stan Lee, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Hamill were awarded Disney Legends, new footage of Avengers: Infinity War and Kingdom Hearts III was revealed, and they even revealed a new Star Wars theme park opening at Disney Land.

SOURCE: Celebrity Insider

However, of all of these developments, perhaps none was more major than the casting announcement for Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin. After reportedly struggling to cast the title role for more than four months, Disney announced that Canadian actor Mena Massoud was cast as Aladdin, Naomi Scott was cast as Jasmine, and Will Smith was cast as Genie.

This casting news is significant for quite a few reasons. First of all, with Massoud being of Egyptian descent and Scott being of Indian descent, they both physically fit the profiles perfectly for Aladdin and Jasmine alike. Considering more than half of Hollywood films are whitewashed (See Ghost In The Shell, Prince of Persia, Argo, etc.), it’s refreshing to see Disney expanding upon diversity while at the same time staying true to the source material.

Also, you’ve probably never heard of Massoud or Scott outside of this announcement. That’s because Disney specifically aimed for lesser-known talent for their leads, and Massoud and Scott have both had limited exposure in the industry. Massoud was most known for playing a supporting role in the 2015 mystery series “Open Heart”, while Scott was most known for portraying the Pink Ranger in this year’s Power Rangers. Seeing Disney give these breakout stars a shot like this really heartens me to the future of their live-action remakes, showing that not only are they expanding on their ethnic representation, but also on their talent as well.

Still don’t know how I feel about Will Smith playing the Genie though. If he doesn’t break it down and perform a rap like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Arabia” or something, I’m going to be extremely disappointed.

What do you guys think? Are you excited for Disney’s casting announcement, or do you want to rub the magic lamp so you can wish this development away? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Variety, Access Hollywood

“SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING” Review (✫✫1/2)

The spectacular Spider-millennial.

In the day and age of the modern superhero, Spider-Man has always been for fans of many ages. The Tobey Maguire movies were for the adults, while the Andrew Garfield movies were for teenagers. The third actor to reboot the franchise for the second time in less than 10 years, Tom Holland now swings into theaters with Spider-Man: Homecoming, a version that’s sillier, more lighthearted, and definitely aimed at the kiddos. You’re welcome to read that as either a compliment or a criticism. 

After tussling with Captain America and crew in Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is sent back to Queens by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who says he’ll call him when he’s ready for his next mission. Two months later, Parker is still sifting through boring high school life as he continues to go to class, get picked on by bullies, blush around cute girls, and wait eagerly for the school day to end. When the bell finally does ring and he’s out of school, he rushes towards the closest street alley he can find, suits up in his nifty new suit designed by Stark, and swings into action as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

The first thing I want to point out here is that I like Tom Holland a lot. Perhaps more than any actor before him, Holland embodies the characteristics of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man to a “T.” Peter’s social awkwardness and nerdiness, his integrity and good intentions, his black-and-white sense of morality and how he wants to make the world a safer place. When he’s out of the suit, Holland is required to portray the adolescent teenager, whose biggest challenges are passing your classes and talking to your high school crush. Holland is down-to-earth and believable in the role and very much feels like the most grounded Peter Parker to date. In the company of Maguire and Garfield, that is no small feat to accomplish.

Of course, Holland is also expected to play Spider-Man as well, and he exercises surprising finesse when he puts on the mask. There was one scene in the movie where a bystander spots Spidey on a rooftop, and he asks him to do a backflip, to which Spidey complies. Knowing that his acrobatics is what helped Holland land the role in the first place, I knew that it was very possible that he performed the stunt on his own, and he didn’t need wire support to do it. Embodying that kind of physicality for the role is what makes him fitting for Spider-Man, and seeing him physically take on the same challenges as the web-slinger puts the audience in Holland’s shoes, making the action feel more immediate and immersive.

Holland was great as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, and he’s just as great as him here. There’s one problem though: Holland is only half of the equation. The other part comes with the director in how he thinks the character should be portrayed. This is where things start getting sticky, because I don’t think director Jon Watts knew exactly how to handle Spider-Man’s second reboot and make him different from previous counterparts. It’s understandable, I suppose. The Maguire and Garfield movies both had their serious and lighthearted moments, and to make Holland stand apart from them might have been challenging without seeming like he was copying other filmmaker’s ideas.

Still, you have to stay true to the character, and there are some changes to Spider-Man here that just plain doesn’t make sense. In one chase scene, Spider-Man is after a getaway van with a pair of weapons dealers in it, and the action feels so clumsy that it comes off as slapstick. Spidey is being dragged along the floor, banging against garbage cans and mailboxes, web-slinging over buildings, crash-landing into pools, and at one point even playing fetch with a dog. The scene felt so removed from the acrobatic action that I’m used to that for a second I felt like I was watching a Looney Tunes cartoon rather than a Spider-Man movie.

Also, I hate that Iron Man is in this movie. Hate, hate, hate it. He’s not in the movie much, unlike the trailers will have you believe, but in the scenes that he is in he immediately takes control and switches focus away from Holland’s Spider-Man. In every moment that Spider-Man is in trouble, Iron Man swoops in to save the day. He falls into a lake, Iron Man saves him. A ship is splitting apart, Iron Man saves him. Imagine if another hero just swept in when Maguire was stopping the train in Spider-Man 2, or when Garfield dived to save falling bystanders off of a bridge in Amazing Spider-Man. Heroes have to answer for their choices and consequences in their stories, and Peter isn’t allowed to experience either in Homecoming. Tony didn’t have a “get out of jail free card” when he was stuck in a terrorist hellhole in Iron Man. Spidey doesn’t deserve a crutch just because he’s 15 years old.

Everything from the movie is functional, and little else. The writing is uninspired and demonstrates why having a large writing team doesn’t always equal better content (Homecoming had six writers, including Watts). The score by Michael Giacchino is fun and upbeat, but lacks the dramatic overtones that is prevalent in his previous compositions. And the visual effects are… inconsistent. Some parts look amazing, like when Spidey and the super villain Vulture (Michael Keaton) are fighting on top of the Staten Island Ferry. Other times they can’t close a door without looking like it’s from a video game. I remind you that Marvel just made one billion dollars from Captain America: Civil War last year, and this is their follow-up.

In the end, Spider-Man: Homecoming is fun but forgettable. It isn’t unique when it comes to its MCU peers, which is a shame because Spider-Man has many unique elements regarding his story. His immature, reckless use of his powers, the ironic tragedy surrounding his choices, his loyalty to the loved ones he cares about, the idea that even small people can become big heroes. All of that is shoved to the side in the place of cartoonish action where our young hero zips, zooms, and trips over himself when he doesn’t have a responsible adult to chaperone him. This was supposed to be a triumphant return to form for the character: his homecoming. Ha. More like the player’s bench.

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