Movies: The Top 10...

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, August 2014. 

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, August 2014. 

(Source: vogue)

Sci-Fi Films

Regarding the difference between Sci-Fi and Fantasy:

Science Fiction describes stories that are based on theoretical possibilities.  Fantasy doesn’t, it allows for the creation of new worlds and abilities that are outside the realm of possibilities.  

So, I would qualify Star Wars (my favorite film of all time) as fantasy, not sci-fi.  While it has sci-fi elements, the world (so to speak) of the film is based more on fantasy (the force) than science.

Sci-Fi: dystopian societies, time travel, alien encounters, cloning, robots, space travel.

Fantasy: magic, creatures/monsters, super powers, immortality.

So DC is going to announce at Comic-Con that Dwayne Johnson is going to play Shazam (previously Captain Marvel).  Don’t believe me?  Just read on.

In the video he mentions that they will announce something soon.  Comic-Con is next week.  Easy.

He also says in the video two things that point to Shazam.  The first, obvious, clue is that the character will have the power of Superman, which Shazam is one of the few characters in the DC universe who can fight the Man of Steel without any help.  

The second clue is when he says, “Just say the word.”  Fans of the character know that young Billy Batson turns into the superhuman by speaking the magic word “Shazam.”

Why do movie posters continually do stuff like this?  

Why do movie posters continually do stuff like this?  

2014 so far

Cinema, you really need to step it up.  So far 2014 has been a pretty bad year for you.

Can we get a film with a developed, logical and complete story and cease this run of visual spectacle films void of coherence that fall apart 2/3rds of the way through. I know it’s easy to throw money at special effects, but don’t do it at the expense of telling an interesting and engaging story. I have yet to walk out of the theater satisfied after any of the films that I have watched this year. (Edge of Tomorrow, X-Men DOFP, Captain America 2, I’m sure there are more, but I’m trying to block them from my memory.

I have high hopes for couple of films scheduled to be released in the second half of the year(Interstellar, Inherent Vice, Gone Girl, I, Origins, Birdman). I won’t be at all surprised of none of the films that I have seen so far this year fail to make it on my best films of the year list.

By comparison, television has been having a stellar year.  Look at all of the great shows that TV has given us this year: True Detective, Game of Thrones S04 (maybe the show’s best season), Louie S04 (a masterpiece), Orphan Black S02, Fargo, The Good Wife S05 (second half), Mad Men S07.1, Sherlock S03, Orange is the New Black S02, House of Cards S02 and Cosmos.

TV, keep doing what you’re doing.  The competition of different networks (Netflix, FX, AMC, HBO, BBC) has forced the establishment to try and deliver better content to compete with the new and more interesting shows.

Film, can we just stop with the summer blockbusters?  I know they are easy money, but can we please get something intelligent, new and interesting?  And audiences can you please stop throwing your money at terrible movies?  Please, pretty please.

Ant-Man

2010
Stan Lee Claims “Marvel is Prepping” Ant-Man Movie
Disney’s Domain Name Purchase Hints at Possible Ant-Man Movie

Reaction: Who the hell is Ant-Man?

2011
Edgar Wright is Writing a New Draft of ‘Ant-Man’ For Marvel

Reaction: Edgar Wright’s writing and directing, I’m in.  Now I need to figure out who the hell Ant-Man is.

2012
Edgar Wright Just Directed An ‘Ant-Man’ Test Reel
Is ‘Ant-Man’ Marvel’s First Comedy? Edgar Wright Screens Test Footage

Reaction: That Ant-Man footage from Edgar Wright at SDCC is amazing, Ant-Man is now one of my most anticipated films for 2015.

2013
Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man’ Moved Up From Fall to Summer 2015
Edgar Wright Says ‘Ant-Man’ Is More of a “Standalone” Than Connected Marvel Film
Edgar Wright Says The ‘Ant-Man’ Script Is Complete
Edgar Wright Talks ‘Ant-Man’: “People Will Be Surprised”

Reaction: Marvel moved up the release date and they’re letting Wright make Ant-Man his way, excitement building.

Early 2014
Marvel Confirms Paul Rudd as ‘Ant-Man’
Michael Douglas is Hank Pym in ‘Ant-Man’
Edgar Wright Discusses the “Challenges” of Making a PG-13 ‘Ant-Man’
Patrick Wilson Joins ‘Ant-Man’
‘The World’s End’ Composer Steve Price Scoring Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man’

Reaction: Rudd and Douglas in a superhero film?  I don’t know.  But, I trust Edgar Wright, he can balance the line between comedy and action and deliver a fantastic film.  Ant-Man is still on my most anticipated of 2015 list.

May 2014
‘Ant-Man’ Loses Edgar Wright

Reaction:  No Edgar Wright?  That’s the only reason I was into Ant-Man to begin with, I’m out.

June 2014
Will ‘Ant-Man’ Be Delayed?
Rumor Control: James Gunn Will Not Direct ‘Ant-Man’
Adam McKay Pulls Out Of ‘Ant-Man’ Talks
Peyton Reed Directing ‘Ant-Man,’ New Synopsis Released

Reaction: Really Marvel?  You literally hired the guy who made the movie Yes-Man to replace one of the most innovative and entertaining action-comedy directors.  That’s it Marvel, I’m out.  
Wait, Guardians of the Galaxy looks pretty good, then I’m out.  
Actually, I guess I should see Avengers 2, but nothing after that.  Marvel will be dead to me starting May 2, 2015.

NOTE: All headlines from SlashFilm.com, see all of their Ant-Man headlines here.  

New Bat-Mobile

New Bat-Mobile

moviestop10:

If you see this when you watch Star Wars, than you’re doing it wrong.

In honor of Star Wars day (May the Fourth).

moviestop10:

If you see this when you watch Star Wars, than you’re doing it wrong.

In honor of Star Wars day (May the Fourth).

Movies: The Top 10… turned 2 today!

Movies: The Top 10… turned 2 today!

Transcendence explores the strife between humanity and the artificial

Transcendence has received overwhelmingly negative reviews since its release just over a week ago.  But the strange thing is that it’s not a bad film, actually it’s fairly good.  So, how did the film tank at the box office, causing financier Alcon Entertainment to lose millions of dollars, and ultimately classify the film as a flop?  

The simplest explanation is that the film was grossly mismarketed.  The first name in the credits, as well as the face on every promotional poster for the film is that of Johnny Depp, who plays Dr. Will Caster.  And of course it is.  Depp is an internationally recognized actor with multiple box office hits on his resume.  But Will Caster isn’t the main character of Transcendence, he’s actually a secondary character.  The main characters of Transcendence are Evelyn Caster, Will’s wife, and Max Waters, their best friend.  While Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany, who play Evelyn and Max respectively, are talented actors, they don’t command the same audiences or name recognition as Depp.  And because Depp is a secondary character, fans of his would be greatly disappointed to find that he doesn’t have very much screen time.  While Depp’s character is vital to the film and is the cause of tension between Evelyn and Max, he is not the main character.

Aside from the blundered marketing and lackluster box office performance, Transcendence is an interesting film that conveys engaging ideas.  Directed by Wally Pfister, longtime cinematographer of Christopher Nolan including work on The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, The Prestige and Memento; Transcendence looks beautiful.  The major theme of the film is the struggle between the natural and artificial and how they affect the world.  Pfister, along with cinematographer Jess Hall, visually convey these two forces as they collide throughout the film.  From the sterile, black and white environment that houses the artificial Will, to the beautiful, vibrant scenes of nature.

The story, written by Jack Paglen, establishes a world in which multiple scientists are on the verge of creating artificial intelligence.  At the forefront of this research is Dr. Will Caster (Depp).  After delivering a speech on the subject, Caster is mortally wounded and has only weeks to live.  Along with the attack on Caster, the group known as R.I.F.T planned and executed multiple terrorist acts against the leading research in AI.  Will, Evelyn, and Max all decide that it could be possible to upload Will’s consciousness to a computer in order to save what remains of his life and his work.  Once online Will, with the help of Evelyn, starts to grow and evolve science and technology years beyond what is possible.  Max is abducted by R.I.F.T and convinced that the digital version of Will isn’t really him.  It all leads to a confrontation between Evelyn and Max as they must confront whether what they have created is Will or something else entirely.

The story is dense and at two hours in length the film rarely slows down.  To the determent of the film, it is paced like an action film even though it isn’t one.  A few of the storylines could have been tightened or omitted altogether in order to better the film.  The performances from Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany are exceptional in the leading roles.  Depp works as Will Caster with his off-kilter essence, as Will is not meant to be normal.  Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Cole Hauser, and Morgan Freeman each bring unique sensibilities to their supporting roles.

Despite its unfortunate circumstances, Transcendence is a singular and thought provoking film.  The film does stumble at times, however its accomplishments far outweigh its faults.  The end of the film, while on the verge of being heavy-handed, pulls the story to a fitting and satisfying conclusion. 

Overall: 6/10

Right around 20:00 Goyer discusses an aspect of Man of Steel and what it means moving forward with the character.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Marvel’s feeble attempt at a political thriller

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe sometime after the events of The Avengers.  At the onset of the film Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, is still in the process of reintegrating into modern society.  He is being helped along in the process by the government agency SHIELD who uses the super solder for what he was made to do: go on impossibly difficult missions.  But, this is SHIELD and it seems like every character in the Avengers at one point or another has called their methods into question.  And in Captain America: The Winter Soldier the situation is no different.  From the first assignment of the film, Rogers calls SHIELD’s tactics into question and this leads into the political story-line of who is really in charge of SHIELD and it’s not SHIELD director Nick Fury.  While this is going on there are a series of attacks orchestrated to remove or incapacitate certain members of SHIELD carried out by a mercenary called ‘Winter Soldier’.

The film is successful early on in its unique action sequences showing why Cap is a super soldier.  But, soon enough the action scenes regressed into fast-paced, over-edited, incomprehensible sequences.   Between the action scenes Directors Anthony and Joe Russo attempt to build suspense via the mystery investigated by Cap and Black Widow of who is controlling SHIELD and why.  In this attempt the film falls flat.  Every twist and turn is so obvious that every blundered reveal has no impact.  This is especially obvious in the final action sequence where the heroes are set on a task with a literal timer and the audience is supposed to believe that there might be a chance that they don’t succeed. 

The film introduces a handful of new characters including Winter Soldier, Alexander Pierce, Agent 13, and Falcon.  Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely underutilized the film’s central villain Winter Soldier.  He only has about 3 lines of dialog throughout the film, but is outstanding in action sequences.  The character could have been much more developed and interesting than the boring puppet he ended up being.  Pierce is a fairly effective character, but Robert Redford would probably be effective in any role at this stage of his career.  What the point of Agent 13?  She was a completely useless character which is unfortunate.  Falcon was also interesting, but underdeveloped.  Throughout the film his single purpose is to go along with whatever Captain America wants to do.  Aside from Redford the cast, not surprisingly, delivers fairly mediocre performances.

With Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel delivers another uninspired, average film.  The only memorable moments of the film are a pair of action sequences early on and a couple of references to other superheroes (Iron Man, The Hulk and Doctor Strange) and a brilliant, but easily overlooked nod to Pulp Fiction.  This film puts Marvel Studios at 2 successful films (Iron Man and The Avengers) out of 9 releases.  Hopefully the studio’s next two releases, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers 2, will help out that average, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Overall: 5/10