ENJOY THE MOVIES
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." That final line of dialogue from 1974's Chinatown summarizes the film's theme incredibly succinctly. Jake Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson), a private detective, is investigating a series of crimes that unravel the level of high corruption prevalent in Los Angeles. The investigation leads Gittes down a deflating and tragic path, as he eventually realizes there's simply nothing he can do to curb the pervasion of corruption in his own city. Matt Reeves' new Gotham City noir, The Batman, has a similar thematic throughline, even if the ending is a bit more optimistic. What it shares with Chinatown, and other street-level, grounded crime films of the 1970's, is a singular and clear vision. The Batman is a triumph of an auteur's artistic vision, a film that feels deeply personal amidst the occasionally bland and dispassionate studio blockbusters that Warner Bros (and other Hollywood studios) has been known to churn out as of late.
"Where there is great power, there is great responsibility…" The Multiverse is real. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, playing in theaters worldwide, the Multiverse finally reveals itself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland's Spider-Man faces his most nefarious threats yet in the third chapter of this trilogy for this popular webslinger. What's more is that while No Way Home pays homage to the last three cinematic incarnations of the superhero, it also finally allows Holland's Peter Parker to become the Spider-Man we know & love. Like any good Spider-Man story, that means with great power comes great responsibility to tell a gripping story full of sacrifice and hard choices. Writer's Note: This contains major spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home. If you haven't seen it yet and prefer to hold on, read no further.
The fans were victorious. Zack Snyder's Justice League is finally upon us. After a four year journey that originated with director Zack Snyder departing the project due to a family tragedy, the four-hour superhero epic defied all odds and expectations and arrived streaming on HBO Max this past weekend (watch the final trailer again). No longer besmirched by Joss Whedon's neutered version of Justice League from 2017, Zack Snyder's Justice League (formerly known as "The Snyder Cut") restores his epic vision for the superhero film, and it is a victorious triumph for perseverance and for the vision of an auteur who never gave up.
In Tenet, Christopher Nolan's new mind-bending, time-traveling epic blockbuster, there is a scene early on where Clémence Poésy's character Barbara tells our hero, simply known as "The Protagonist": "Don't try to understand it. Feel it." It certainly feels like the mission statement for the film, Nolan's way of telling the audience you probably won't be able to comprehend everything you see in what's about to unfold, so just feel it. It makes sense for a filmmaker who often prefers sonic and tonal ambience over narrative clarity, and in the case of Tenet there's a distinct feeling he's acknowledging this with the hope you'll just go along for the ride. Except in the case of Tenet, unlike Nolan's other works, there's little to understand, or feel, this time.
Well, it is official. After over two years of speculation and rumors Ben Affleck appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live this past week to make it official: he's out as Batman. No more Caped Crusader for him. This should come as no surprise to anyone that is familiar with Affleck's tenure as The Dark Knight. Regardless, it can't help but feel like a colossal disappointment. Despite three appearances over three movies: two leading roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), and a small cameo in Suicide Squad (2016), Affleck never got a chance as Batman. With this official and with the DC cinematic universe heading in a new direction, there's no better time than now to explore why Ben Affleck was so underutilized.
"You've changed things… forever. There's no going back." On July 18th, 2008, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight opened in theaters worldwide and changed everything. The seminal sequel to 2005's Batman Begins would have an indelible impact on pop culture, the superhero genre, and movies in general. Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance and tragic passing would send shockwaves throughout the industry. With a groundbreaking marketing campaign leading up to its highly anticipated release, The Dark Knight became an unforgettable big screen experience. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, let's take a look back at how Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight changed things forever and remains a masterpiece to this day.
If two of the most anticipated movies from this year – Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 – have anything in common, it's that they are both science fiction and fantasy movies rich with new ideas. In addition, they are also both polarizing films, garnering a divisive response from both hardcore Star Wars devotees and mainstream audiences. In this editorial, however, I want to examine another common thread that binds both movies: how they both deconstruct decades of shared franchise history to show how a hero can be anyone. Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049 have something characteristically in common. You might not have noticed this at first, but both films feature heroes, Daisy Ridley's Rey and Ryan Gosling's Officer K, that are more similar than you might think.
"Sometimes to love someone… you have to be a stranger." Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 is a unique creation. It comes 35 years after Ridley Scott's original masterpiece, which is a cult classic that was almost unanimously rejected at its original release by both audiences and critics. It's a sequel to a moody, atmospheric science fiction film being advertised as an event blockbuster. While Blade Runner 2049 is not an action film, it definitely should be viewed as an event. While mainstream audiences may not be swarming in large masses to see the film, there is no question to the film's majesty and beauty. Let's take a closer look at why Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 is the perfect sequel and a singular creation in its own right.
Spider-Man finally swung home. Back in February of 2015, I wrote about why Spider-Man swinging back to Marvel Studios would be a good thing for the famed webslinger. Now, two years later, we have Spider-Man: Homecoming, the sixth Spider-Man film that actually feels like the first. The film, which stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Michael Keaton as The Vulture, is exhilarating, extremely well-made and most excitingly of all, refreshing. It shows how you properly reboot a character like Spider-Man, cementing Kevin Fiege and Marvel Studios as creative powerhouses who truly care about these characters. Let's take a look at why Homecoming was the perfect Spidey reboot - and what's in store for him after this.
What a crazy few weeks it has been for Hollywood. As we all know, directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller were shockingly fired from Disney's still-untitled Han Solo project a few weeks ago. It was shocking because they were already several months into filming the new Star Wars Story movie, with only a couple of weeks remaining. Lucasfilm eventually announced that Ron Howard had been hired to replace them. Lord & Miller aren't the first directors to not work well within the studio system as of late. Jon Favreau, Edward Norton, Patty Jenkins and Edgar Wright have all faced similar problems in recent years. So, are auteur filmmakers doomed? Let's take a look at why studios like Disney & Marvel still need auteur filmmakers.
When a movie has the word "amazing" in the title, it comes with certain expectations. For The Amazing Spider-Man movies, however, they often failed to live up to their title. After Sam Raimi decided not to try to leave the franchise on a high note making Spider-Man 4, Sony and Columbia fast-tracked their plans to reboot Spider-Man. The response was mixed. After all, Spider-Man 3 had just come out a couple years before. Was a reboot needed so soon? That didn't stop the studio, however. The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, would revisit the origin story over two muddled films, star Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone and would be directed by 500 Days of Summer helmer Marc Webb. In the last installment of our Spider-Man retrospective series in anticipation of Spider-Man: Homecoming arriving, let's take a look at how Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man movies were, unfortunately, less than amazing.
Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3, released in May of 2007, is one weird movie. It suffers from the curse of the "threequel", a film with potential that is overwhelmingly disappointing. In my previous editorial in this ongoing Spider-Man retrospective series, I talked about how Spider-Man 2 swings among some of the best sequels in cinema history. If Spider-Man 2 is the Superman II of the Spider-Man series, then Spider-Man 3 is the Superman III of the franchise - but with considerably weirder dance sequences. In the newest edition of our "Looking Back" series, let's take a look at why Spider-Man 3 begins the series of diminishing returns for Spider-Man movies as one of the most disappointing threequels in modern superhero film history.