ENJOY THE SHOW
At the climax of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman has literally fallen into the arms of his love, Lois Lane. The ending is far from romantic, however, as Batman and Wonder Woman stand beside the slain hero, heads bowed mournfully. Who knew this downer of an ending would signify more than just defeated heroes, it also acts as an analogy for the entire trajectory of DC Comics on film. By the time Suicide Squad rolled around, you could argue the DC Extended Universe had been put on suicide watch. For Ben Affleck, what started as a co-starring role has morphed into possibly being the DCEU's only saving grace.
DC's biggest heroes have been facing an adversary even bigger than Doomsday or Kryponite as of late: their own studio, Warner Bros. It was last month when it was revealed that director Rick Famuyiwa dropped out of directing The Flash, citing creative differences. This was a sizable loss for the film, as Famuyiwa's hiring was considered a major coup. His departure hints at trouble for DC on film, who has stumbled out of the gate when their films should be leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. Along with countless mixed to negative critical reactions to their last two offerings, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, it's become clear Warner Bros is struggling to bring DC's finest to the big screen. But why?
When you think of auteur filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, you probably think of Requiem for a Dream or Black Swan. However, when I think of Darren Aronofsky, I can't help but gravitate toward what I think is his most underrated film: The Fountain, released in 2006. The science fiction love story, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz playing essentially the same characters over three timelines, was released ten years ago today with little fanfare. The film was blasted by critics and made very little at the box office. However, I fell in love with the film from the moment I gazed my eyes on the first frame ten years ago. Let's explore why I think the film is an underrated masterpiece and one of Aronofsky's best in his filmography.
The journey for Star Trek on the big screen hasn't always been going at warp speed. For the most part, the films have had a difficult time appealing to both the general audience and to the hardcore faithful (known as Trekkies). That changed, however, in 2009 when J.J. Abrams rebooted the film series with the simply titled Star Trek. For the first time in a while, Star Trek was accessible to both mainstream audiences and hardcore Trekkies alike. However, as the series progressed with Star Trek Into Darkness, some Trek fans started to dismiss the new films as being too action-oriented, as well as missing the philosophical essence that made Star Trek the groundbreaking success it was when it first aired on this day 50 years ago. So as Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary today, let's explore why I believe that all changed with the latest installment, Star Trek Beyond, and why I believe it is the best Star Trek movie in nearly two decades.
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.