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.
I am attending the Karlovy Vary Film Festival for my very first time this year, and I'm already in love with it. This charming, energetic festival takes place in a small spa town called Karlovy Vary (or also known as Carlsbad) about two hours west of Prague in the Czech Republic. The festival is celebrating its 52nd year, and they've been gaining more and more recognition in the last few years. Living in Berlin now, Prague is just a short hop away, so I decided to attend Karlovy Vary for my first time and catch up on more great films this year. It's always exciting to attend a film festival for the first time, and this one is special. I couldn't be happier to be here and begin watching films, discovering more gems after Sundance, Berlinale, and Cannes.
When it comes to sequels, there an expectation to raise the bar. If you think of some of the best sequels of all time, whether that's The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or Aliens (to name a few), each film improved upon the foundation of the first in major ways. In the second part of our weekly Spider-Man retrospective series leading up to the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7th this summer, we take a look at how Sam Raimi raised the bar for not only Spider-Man movies, but the entire superhero genre itself with Spider-Man 2. The superhero sequel hit theaters on June 30th, 2004 (that's 13 years ago!), just a week before 4th of July, and it once again went on to set records at the box office and beyond.
It was the summer of 2002. The superhero genre was at a much different place than it is today. This was before "shared universes" were a known phrase in anyone's vocabulary. It was before superhero movies were even a sub-genre unto themselves. A little movie ("little" even though it cost ~$130 million to make) called Spider-Man would spin its web into cinemas and explode onto the scene. It was a big hit, at the time, with the biggest opening weekend of all-time (earning $114.8 million which, back then, was a huge achievement) and it started a cultural zeitgeist that has pervaded pop culture ever since. With Sony's latest iteration of Spidey, titled Spider-Man: Homecoming, swinging into theaters starting July 7th this summer, let's take a look back at the original film that helped define what we've come to know today as the superhero movie.
Well, Warner Bros can breathe a sigh of relief. Wonder Woman is a resounding success. The Gal Gadot-starring, Patty Jenkins-directed film made history by making $100 million in its opening weekend, the biggest opening for any woman-directed movie. The reviews have been glowing, and audience reception seems overwhelmingly positive. Wonder Woman is a bona fide hit for the studio, a home run that Warner Bros certainly needed. With the first well-received DCEU movie under their utility belts, all masked heads are turned to the next DCEU offering, Justice League, opening in November. Let's look at how Warner Bros can learn from the success of Wonder Woman as they take the next big leap in their cinematic universe.
What are the best films out of this year's Cannes Film Festival? Which ones should you be taking an interest in? What films should be a priority for you to see? After 12 days at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, after 30 screenings, it's time to present my 2017 list of my Top 5 Favorite Films. This was my 8th time back to this festival, and I love being there in the middle of all, committing fully to seeing as many films as I can. These five below are the ones that I adore, that connected with me emotionally or intellectually, and I hope everyone plans to check them out when they arrive in their neighborhood. They are worth the wait. There were many great films this year, and this is my final recap of the fest (with my list of all the films at the end).
What can I say about the Cannes Film Festival that I haven't already said so many times before? I love this film festival, and no matter what, I keep going back because I can't help it. I am drawn there. Even if I don't love every single film, even if I miss a few of the good ones, even if I feel exhausted, I'm happy to be there. Maybe it's the magic of the Côte d'Azur. The sun, the water, the fresh air, fresh bread every morning, rosé wine every night, delicious food. This must be the recipe for a great life: friends and films in France. This festival has been going for 70 years and I'm sure many others know this recipe. It surely worked for me. The festival may be over, but the memories will last, and the films will begin their march all over the world - to other festivals, eventually to your local cinema, and of course on your TV (and mobile phone) in due time.
Challenge accepted. What kind of world would we live in if there were not any art, or books, or discussions that made us question our own beliefs. This kind of intelligent provocation is how we grow, and learn, and progress, and step forward together as people from different countries and different cultures all over the world. Over the last few days at the Cannes Film Festival, cinephiles and critics have been treated to a few unique films that challenge the audience. These are the kind of films that are designed to deliberately challenge viewers, to make them feel uncomfortable, or upset, or angry, or frustrated. Great artists know that it's possible to create work that challenges us in just the right ways, that makes us think and question ourselves as a process of learning, and critiquing who we are. And it's refreshing to come across these films.
"The most amazing thing is that every single person who sees a movie, not necessarily one of my movies, brings a whole set of unique experiences. Now, through careful manipulation and good storytelling, you can get everybody to clap at the same time, to hopefully laugh at the same time, and to be afraid at the same time." (–Steven Spielberg) With the world the way it is right now, why should we care about movies? Why does anyone want to hear about cinema when there's so much bad happening all around, when there's so much else to worry about? As I make my way to the 70th Cannes Film Festival, I have an answer to this question that has been on my mind for a few weeks ever since a quote first popped up on Twitter. And it's a vital reminder of how important it is to still give time to cinema, art, & entertainment no matter what.
Everything old is new again. It was revealed this week that Warner Bros is currently considering rebooting The Matrix and making a new series of movies. Keanu Reeves had hinted at the possibility of returning for a fourth Matrix for some time. However, WB appears to be interested in forging a new path. In a world full of endless remakes, sequels and reinterpretations, a Matrix re-imagining seems wholly unnecessary. So let's explore why The Matrix needs to be revisited, but not rebooted. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that a film as revered and respected as The Matrix would get a reboot. Even a film as treasured as The Lion King is getting a live-action do-over. So let's explore why The Matrix needs to be revisited, but not rebooted.