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With the 2016 summer movie season all but officially over, plenty of movie bloggers/journalists have been quick to say this past summer has been rather lackluster for film. I would argue otherwise – while some of the blockbusters have crashed and burned at the box office, this past weekend Suicide Squad and Sausage Party still performed strong at the box office. Marvel's Captain America: Civil War and Disney's Pete's Dragon were highlights of the summer as well. So why all the “doom & gloom”? That's likely because most audiences never really gave some of the best films of summer 2016 a chance. There were quite a few hidden gems out there waiting to be seen, if you were brave enough to give them your time (and money).
Last week, Star Trek Beyond star Chris Pine was interviewed in SFX magazine promoting the latest space adventure in the sci-fi series. When asked why the most recent films in the Star Trek franchise have been more action-oriented than thought-provoking – something the series has been traditionally known for ever since its inception in 1966 – he responded: "You can't make a cerebral Star Trek in 2016”. Well, I'm here to say you can. Let's take a look at why that's still possible. Pine's intriguing quote encouraged me to write some of my own thoughts about the Star Trek franchise and how it can still be intelligent today.
"This is a rebellion, isn't it? I rebel." Who would have thought that line, spoken by actress Felicity Jones' character Jyn Erso in the Rogue One teaser trailer, would have such great significance for the actual film itself? According to several unconfirmed sources, Rogue One might've rebelled a tad too much. That's the story that has been sweeping the internet this week with major rumors that the first film in the Star Wars Anthology series, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will undergo significant reshoots after initial internal test screenings at Disney apparently failed to impress senior executives. Let's examine why I think that might not bode well for the spin-off and why the film should rebel against the famous Star Wars formula.
"Is film criticism still relevant?" That is a question I have been hearing a lot lately. Conversely, I think the more important question is, "Is film criticism relevant to you?" In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I don't consider myself to be a film critic. I don't have a journalism degree. However, I don't hate film criticism. As a matter of fact, some of my favorite writers are critics. I grew up reading the reviews of Roger Ebert, Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott. When I was younger, I wanted to grow up and become a critic. As an adult, it feels like that dream has changed and the significance of film criticism isn't quite what it was. As of late, I have noticed a strange disparity among casual moviegoers and online film criticism when it comes to some major films this past year. This isn't some new trend that only started in 2016 (see this article or this one); it is something I believe has been happening for some time. If the rocky relationship between critics and audiences is a marriage, I think it's safe to say some audiences have filed for divorce.
I'll never forget seeing movies the summer of 2000. I was 11 years old and I was impatiently awaiting this one summer blockbuster that honestly looked unlike anything I had seen before. I remember seeing adverts for the movie in Circuit City. Does anyone remember the original teaser trailer for the film? The tagline teased "Change is coming". I don't think anyone had any idea what that could possibly mean sixteen years later. While Blade and the success of that film made a huge impact just two years earlier, Bryan Singer's X-Men and its sequel X2: X-Men United arguably jump-started and helped define the entire superhero genre as we know it. Let's take a look at how the genre has changed and evolved nearly two decades later.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America and Iron Man are currently at odds, fighting tooth and nail for their own respective ideologies. However, in the playing field that is the superhero genre, some are arguing that superhero movies are starting to become a tad predictable, their routine less super. They are familiar with Cap's shield and Iron Man's armor with some saying they just don't have the gleam they used to have. Marvel's greatest heroes might be facing a new battle altogether: fatigue. This isn't a battle just facing Marvel, but all superheroes alike. While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC's own answer to that debate, might have proved a bit more polarizing than originally intended, Marvel's Captain America: Civil War proves that superheroes still have a bit more fight to them – and here's why.
On March 6th in 2009, Zack Snyder's Watchmen opened in theaters. The movie ended up being a modest success – earning nearly $200 million worldwide on a $130 million budget, with 65% on Rotten Tomatoes – but it would later develop more of a cult following on home video, with a "Director's Cut" and eventually an "Ultimate Cut" with a run-time of 215 minutes. Watchmen was released a year after Marvel Studios' Iron Man and several years before The Avengers and the big boom of superhero movies as we know it. As the film celebrates the 7th anniversary of its release, let's take a look back at how Watchmen paved the way for Snyder's upcoming Batman v Superman movie, and perhaps the entire DC Extended Universe itself.
The box office totals are in. The reviews have been read and audiences have spoken with a mouth as loud as a merc - Tim Miller's Deadpool is a huge success, and not just financially or even critically. It has been universally well received, which is a tremendous accomplishment for a third tier superhero character that (according to 20th Century Fox) had minimal mainstream appeal that languished in development hell for years. It was the vulgar, graphic and unadulterated version of Thomas the Tank Engine, the little irreverent train that could. However, with the success of Deadpool, major movie studios everywhere might not take the best lessons from the film's astronomical success – as James Gunn illustrated so brilliantly last weekend. So let's take a look at what Hollywood can glean from the outrageous success of the Merc with a Mouth.
This Friday (and in some places, Thursday or even Wednesday night) moviegoers across the nation and even the world will be plopping down in their theater seats as they anxiously wait for the first frames of the first Star Wars movie in ten years, The Force Awakens, to unspool on their screens. The anticipation for this next chapter – directed by J.J. Abrams - in the Star Wars legacy is literally through the roof of the Millennium Falcon, with many lucky journalists and fans having seen the film at the extravagant World Premiere in Los Angeles on Monday. Early word of mouth has been generally positive so far, but let's take a look at why it will be okay if The Force Awakens doesn't meet your expectations.
After years of off-screen hell, the newest movie directed by Guillermo del Toro, titled Crimson Peak, comes out nationwide today to unleash a kind of cinematic hell upon viewers everywhere. However, much like every one of del Toro's films, even though Crimson Peak is being sold as a horror movie (it's not) it's actually far more tragic than terrifying. As del Toro has tried to bring to people's attention on Twitter and other forms of social media, Crimson Peak is much more of a gothic romance than a straight-up horror film. Unfortunately, most people will go into the film this weekend expecting to be scared out of their minds and instead they will find something much more tragic and somber. With that let's take a look at why Guillermo del Toro's movies are never what they seem – and why Crimson Peak is no different.
The Star Wars universe has untapped cinematic potential. Even though we've already seen six Star Wars films and a seventh is on the way, Lucasfilm has barely scratched the surface of the expansive universe that exists within the Star Wars mythology. This is undoubtedly why many are very excited for the first spin-off movie in the Star Wars pantheon, Rogue One (subtitled "A Star Wars Story"). The film aims to explore a ragtag group of Rebels and their attempt to steal the Death Star plans, acting as a prequel to A New Hope. However, even though Rogue One is a prequel, it's not necessarily an origin story. It's not about any one particular individual or how they came to be – and it's all the more better for it. With that said, let's explore why the upcoming Star Wars spin-offs should avoid the origin story approach altogether.
Is it time to finally say "hasta la vista" to the Terminator? With the release of Terminator: Genisys, it might very well be. This summer, like most moviegoing summers, is the summer of sequels. Earlier this year we got Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the long-running Jurassic Park series. Sure, it is stomping through box office records right now, but did that series really necessitate three sequels? The quick answer is no. Similarly, the new installment in the Terminator series, dubbed Terminator: Genisys, opens this week (and already opened in select special screenings Tuesday night). It is the fifth installment in the series – a series where each film gets progressively more terrible than the last. With Genisys opening this week, let's look at why studios – and to a lesser extent audiences – still crave more Terminator movies, even while the science fiction franchise has devolved into a disappointing series of diminishing returns.
Ten years ago the state of the Batman franchise – and the movie industry – was in a much different place than it is now. In today's movie climate, the term "reboot" is a word bandied about casually and Batman as a character and movie franchise is held in high regard. However, ten years ago things were completely different. Before Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, the future of Batman in live-action was uncertain. With the ten year anniversary of Christopher Nolan's seminal film this week, let's take a look back at how Nolan – before he was the enormously successful filmmaker he is today – redefined Batman and the reboot.
As Star Wars – the original film, A New Hope – turns 38 this year (it opened May 25th, 1977), it's hard to imagine a time when Star Wars wasn't an ingrained part of our pop culture. For a second, just imagine a world where lightsabers aren't a thing and the Millennium Falcon is just a figment of George Lucas's imagination. There's no denying Star Wars has infiltrated almost every aspect of our culture and as we prepare to embrace a whole new chapter of the Star Wars legacy with this December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, let's take a look and see how Star Wars has changed movies – and pop culture – permanently.