Suicide Squad Review

Imagine, if you will, two versions of a movie. Each scene is written out on note cards. One side is for the cartoony, colorful version of the movie. The other side is for the darker, grittier version of the movie. Then, for whatever reason, someone decides to put them all in the same box, and shake it violently. A single version of the movie is then made by pulling scenes from this box. One scene is from the cartoony version, while another is from the gritty version. For whatever reason, this is how the movie is made.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how Suicide Squad was made.

There’s no joke about this either. Reports have surfaced since the release of the movie that there were two cuts of the movie. One was dark, the other more cartoony. Both were tested with audiences and for some reason, Warner Bros. decided to take “the best parts” of both and create what it’s in theaters today.

Instead of anything remotely cohesive, we received a tone deaf, inconsistent movie that is fun and colorful one moment, and utterly dramatic and “emotional” the next. It’s confusing, jarring, and makes for a frustrated viewing experience. The worst part is that you can very easily tell which version of the movie each scene belongs to. That’s how different they are from each other and how jarring the shift in tone is.

Let’s start with the basics though. The Suicide Squad is a team of villains from the DC universe pulled into a black ops team by Amanda Waller. She’s afraid – understandably – that the next Superman we get might not be for truth, justice, and the American way. So she wants to build a team of people with abilities in order to combat such threats. Enter Task Force X, aka the Suicide Squad.


Under the command of Rick Flag – Joel Kinnaman, doing the worst Texas accent since Chris Pratt in Jurassic World – the squad is lead through Midway City in order to combat a swirling ring of magical trash that’s started to tear the city apart. Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t get more interesting than that. Nor does it get more complicated. The Suicide Squad is there to do two things: rescue someone, and kill the bad guy. Their rescue target takes about a minute or two to figure out and “twist” of who it is falls flat. The villain on the other hand, is such a non-presence that sometimes you forget there was a character there.

The movie generally lacks drama or consequences. While there is something pushing the team forward through the plot, it’s so thin and uninteresting that you don’t even care. The Enchantress, played by a very bored Cara Delevingne, does so little in the movie that she’s hardly a threat. The “relationship” between her and Rick Flag is almost existent on screen. Instead it’s told to us several times by various characters. Because that’s going to make the audience care, right? The fact that the two share only three scenes together doesn’t do them any favors. Even her brother, whose name I don’t even recall anymore, serves a role as “the big henchmen” only to disappear after a single action sequence.

The team itself is comprised of eight members. If that sounds like too many to you, then you’d be correct. Many of them don’t do anything of note in the whole movie. Slipknot – spoilers – gets murdered in his second scene in the whole movie. He’s so pointless he doesn’t get a special intro like most of the other characters. Katana has a total of four lines in the movie and doesn’t affect the plot in anyway. It’s referenced, kind of, that she might be friends with Rick Flag, but no backstory is given into that relationship whatsoever. Therefore, she’s a pointless entity within the movie. Other members worth mentioning in the pointless category are: Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang.

Less pointless are some of the main headliners. Will Smith shines in the movie as the hitman Deadshot, and even Margot Robbie manages to be bearable as Harley Quinn (even if her accent fades in and out throughout the movie). The two have really good chemistry and actually develop something of a friendship over the course of the movie. Their scenes together are easily the most interesting in the movie and it’s a shame that one of the more unpleasant elements in the movie distracted from this.


Before getting into that though, it’s worth noting that alongside Smith and Robbie, Viola Davis is perfect as Amanda Waller. She’s exactly as you’d imagine the character to be: cold, ruthless, and calculated. She’s even scarier than some of the Suicide Squad members. My hope is that, if this movie doesn’t get a sequel, she will continue to appear in other DC universe movies.

The flashbacks in the movie are an odd element. Because not all the characters get one, and not all of them are necessary. Harley Quinn receives the most attention in this department and most of them are unnecessary. Of all the characters in the movie, she’s the most well-known and needed the least amount of explaining to audiences. Instead we got three flashbacks, all that involve Joker, that don’t really add much to her character. It felt like an excuse to add more Joker into the movie, which it really didn’t need.

The Joker is by far the worst element of the movie. Jared Leto plays some kind of gangster version of the Joker that’s extremely unappealing. More offensive than that is the fact that he doesn’t do anything in the movie. If he were to be removed from the story completely, it would not affect the main plot whatsoever. There was potential there for something interesting to happen, but instead it does the exact opposite.

The action in the movie is fairly rote. It’s basically your standard fare, not making any special use of the character’s abilities or what makes them interested. Most of them are against fodder anyways, and it seems like most of the scenes were put in the movie in order to fill time. This and the flashbacks for certain characters, could easily have been cut in order to make a tighter film.

The most frustrating thing about Suicide Squad is that when it works, it works really well. There’s a good movie in there somewhere. The first thirty minutes of the movie are awesome. It’s colorful, cartoony, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The character intros that the members get are well done and fit the tone they’re going for in that moment. Unfortunately, it’s once the mission gets going that things bounce back and forth every other scene. It’s maddening that movie like this was made.

The film also includes a few cameos from other characters, mostly Batman, since most of the Suicide Squad members are Batman villains. One of the more interesting scenes in the movie is Deadshots flashback, where Batman comes to arrest him. If nothing else, this movie’s biggest crime is making me want a Batman movie where Will Smith is the villain.

Overall Suicide Squad is a mess. It’s a poorly made movie that’s made even more frustrating by the fact that there is potential there. This could have been a fun movie. But it’s a movie that symptomatic of Warner Bros. current position, and it’s unfortunate that it got swept up in all this. If you’re looking for a reason to see Suicide Squad, you won’t find one here. In fact, you should just wait until the movie is on TV some time, and you catch it accidentally.


Ghostbusters (2016) Review

I’ll just come out and say it right here in the very beginning of the review: the new Ghostbusters movie is totally worth seeing. Despite what you may have heard from angry man-children about the movie being a rip off of the original, the all female cast, or any other random “concern” they could pull out of their hats, Ghostbusters is a funny and well made film.

So there you have it. That could be the whole review. You should definitely go see this movie. But if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the film, read on below. The film does a lot that’s worth talking about and I feel like I would be doing the movie a disservice if I didn’t dive into what made the film tick.

The movie opens with one of the fastest first acts I’ve seen in my life, with Kristin Wiig’s character Erin being up for tenure review at her university. She’s currently a big name physicist, but she had an “unfortunate” past with the paranormal and is now doing everything she can to hide that from her current employers. Unfortunately for her, her former best friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy) has put the paranormal science book they wrote up on Amazon for all to see. It’s the first thing you see when you Google Erin’s name.

So she marches down to Abby’s workplace to demand that she take the book down. But after some exposition and an introduction to Ghostbuster’s highlight character (Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann), we’re off to the races. Erin is back tracking ghosts and her estranged relationship with Abby is instantly repaired.

It’s then the movie moves into your more familiar origin story. They find their base of operations, get better equipment, and so on and so forth. Nothing about the story of Ghostbusters is necessarily breaking new ground in the story department, but it does so with heart and humor. That more than can be said for most movies these days.

The movie is funnier than the trailers give it credit for. Characters like Leslie Jones Patty and Chris Hemsworth Kevin are standouts in the film, providing a lot of the movie’s funnier moments. Hemsworth especially is adorably funny as the beefcake who thinks that covering his eyes means he can’t hear anything.

Special mention has to be given – again – to Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann. The character is easily the most “out there” of the four, but she owns that weirdness in a way that makes her incredibly endearing. The other characters don’t berate her, or get annoyed her antics. They accept her quirks and embrace them. It’s a celebration of weirdness.


It’s worth noting though, that of the main characters, Holtzmann’s back story is pretty much unexplored. All the other characters have time dedicated to where they came from and who they were before ghost hunting was their thing. But for Holtzmann, part of her character involved being gay. Paul Fieg has confirmed as much, but said they had to cut all mentions of it due to “studio pressure”. It kind of explains a touching moment at the end of the film, that may seem out of place to many who don’t know this ahead of time. It’s unfortunate that her character got a chop job because of close-minded pressures, but at the same time it’s a testament to McKinnon’s performance that the character stands out despite that.

Moving along, if the first act was too short, the third act is a tad too long. The final battle takes on many forms and seems a bit over drawn, like maybe a segment could have been cut. But it’s fun spectacle of colors and action in way that brings Ghostbusters into the modern action genre. It’s also capped off by a few great jokes involving our very own Kevin.

If Ghostbuster has a glaring flaw, it’s its need to reference the original movie. As a reboot of a “beloved” franchise, there’s a reasoning behind bringing back those who came before you. To that effect, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver all have cameos in the movie. Some of them are better than others, like Hudson’s cameo. Others such as Dan Aykroyd’s feel out of place and are given way more screen time than they deserve. The only glaring omissions are Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis. Ramis, who died before the release of the movie, has a dedication to his name at the very end.

Other than that, Ghostbusters is a fun film that celebrates smart, weird, and kick-ass women. It’s funny and has a charm to it that’s unique to something like Ghostbusters. It keeps the spirit of the original film while pushing it forward to the modern age. As stated above, Ghostbusters is a well made movie that absolutely deserves your attention, if nothing else for some standout performances from characters you may not expect them from.


Captain America: Civil War Review

Even though it has the title “Civil War”, it actually has very little to do with the comic storyline it takes the title from. There’s the core starting point: registration for all super-powered beings on earth. And like in the comics, Tony Stark sits on one side while Captain America sits on the other. But that’s about where the similarities start and end.

This version of Civil War deals with the search for the Winter Soldier after he supposedly blew up a political conference, killing several high profile people including the father of The Black Panther. This sets him on a quest for vengeance, Tony Stark wants to arrest the Winter Soldier, and naturally, Captain America wants to find his friend and keep him safe.

SRyYQZ.0.0You may be led to believe that the villain of this film is someone named Zemo. He has nothing to do with his comic book counterpart in this film and more or less meanders around the movie. His entire purpose exists to be a plot mechanic instead of an actual antagonist. He moves around the world, causing problems and setting up things in order for the movie to move along. But in the end he does very little, especially since his plan hinges on people being in a certain spot at a certain time, at the same time. It’s all very convenient and kind of damages the impact of certain scenes.

But the real action of the movie has to do with Cap and Stark. Their relationship has always been one of begrudged friendship and that’s been crumbling steadily since the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Things go into overdrive over the course of the film, and thanks to a third act revelation, pretty much falls apart entirely. Civil War is a movie that – like other Marvel movies – you can more or less enjoy without having seen the others, but things wouldn’t have the same impact if you’ve been following the movies since the beginning. These characters have come super far since the original Iron Man movie and this movie feels like a culmination of that.

There are a few additional standouts. Black Panther is pretty amazing in this movie. Chadwick Boseman’s fits the role so well that the movie is immediately better when he’s on screen. I’m definitely excited to see how Black Panther’s solo movie turns out.

3058531-1280_captain_america_civil_war_black_pantherThe other is of course the one and only Spider-man. Spider-man is one of the best and worst things about Civil War. Tom Holland is great in the role, and Spider-man’s action scenes are great. But you can tell that Spider-man wasn’t meant to be in this movie originally. The plot literally stops for fifteen minutes in order to introduce Peter Parker and get him up to speed with the rest of the movie. It’s unfortunate, as the movie suffers from enough pacing problem as it is.

Of course the most important aspect of a mash up movie such as this is the action. What we really want is to see our favorite heroes knock each other around and boy does this movie live up to that. There’s a really good fight between both “teams” in the middle of the movie where everyone from Spider-man to Ant-man gets to show off their skills. The fight kind of suffers from a “why didn’t you open with that” mentality a bit, but otherwise it’s really exciting.

The fight towards the third act is not only way more brutal, but more tragic. It’s here that you realize the damage that’s been done by both people can’t be repaired easily and both are looking to spill blood. This one isn’t made for cheering and popcorn fluff, it rings more sad than fun.

captain-america-civil-war-still-1The movie also attempts to deal with some heavy themes, as most comic book movies do. In this case it’s the idea of a world police and the freedom to choose. It’s here that the movie feels almost too short, as the ideas aren’t nearly as explored as they could be. The movie takes more time dealing with the comic book-y aspects of the plot and sort of passes off the debates of these themes after the first act. By the time the movie finishes, you’ll forget entirely that the movie began because of a registration act.

Overall Captain America: Civil War is a great film. It isn’t as tight as Winter Soldier, or even Guardians of the Galaxy, but it ranks up there as one of Marvel’s top films. The implications of this film on the wider MCU are large and will no doubt take their toll on films to come (in a good, dramatic way that is). It’s worth remembering that this is the last time we’ll see most of these heroes – Black Panther and Spider-man not withstanding – for several years to come. So for things to end on a tragic note is bittersweet, but one that feels earned over the course of three Iron Man movies, two Avengers movies, and three Captain America movies.

The Fantastic Four (My Version)

You know whenever there’s a horrid comic book movie most people say they could write a better movie? Well, that’s what I said when the latest Fantastic Four movie was released last August. I didn’t even see the movie, the reviews were so terrible. But I knew as someone who understood basic storytelling, that I could write a better movie than what was being put on screens.

So I did! It took a long time, mostly because I took about a three month break to finish school but in the past few days I went from 52 pages to 91. It’s probably shorter than it should be, but I don’t really have a clear idea on how to write action scenes. So those are probably much shorter than they would be on screen.

(For those curious, the script will be linked at the bottom of the post and in the screenplays section of the blog)

So when coming up with the plot for this movie, I decided that I would ignore licensing issues and write this movie as if it were being included in phase three or phase four of the MCU. The Fantastic Four desperately needs the support of the universe and other movies. Without it, it doesn’t make their conflicts seem threatening. The added weight of what’s come before is extremely helpful.

It also helps with certain characters. One of Doctor Doom’s strongest abilities is his magic. In fact he was the Sorcerer Supreme after Doctor Strange. So instead of giving him nonsensical telekenesis or whatever else he gets assigned in older movies, he has something that ties into the larger universe. When the cosmic radiation hits, his magical powers are enhanced ten fold.

I was also able to layer in a few hints to additional Fantastic Four mythology. Characters like Maria Hill and Nick Fury opened up several opportunities for such things.

Reed Richards and Ben Grimm remain mostly untouched in terms of powers and abilities. I made it so Ben evolves over time due to the level of radiation he receives. So he’ll start out kind of small and grow larger over the course of the movie.

Reed has more personality changes than anything else. He’s definitely as arrogant as always, but it hides a larger weakness in which he’s actually more cowardly than he seems.

Sue and Johnny are the ones I changed the most. I made them twins for starters. I did this so they I could make their powers intertwined. This allowed Sue to be more active in action scenes and for some really fun power combinations.

The basis of the plot involves the usual origin, they group goes to space and gets hit by cosmic radiation that gives them various powers. Only because this film is set in the MCU, it has additional context. They’re going up there to study alien signals and figure out where the portals from the first Avengers came from (and if they could detect others before they happen).

The cosmic radiation is from the Silver Surfer, who is going to earth to prepare it for Galactus. He serves as the main antagonist of the movie. But as I list below, he isn’t featured super heavily in the movie and that’s something I would need to fix in a second draft.

The script isn’t perfect, far from it. It’s only a first draft though. I’ll go back one day and fix the various errors within. But for now here’s a basic list of what’s wrong:

  • Script is very plot driven
  • The rule of threes isn’t as obeyed as it needs to be
  • Not enough conflict between some of the characters
  • Certain motivations need more explaining
  • Characterization needs to be carried throughout the entire film
  • Probably need to drop more hints about Dr. Doom being an actual villain
  • Silver Surfer has…. four scenes? Probably should include more
  • Various dialogue/formatting touchups

These are the eight that I can list off the top of my head.

If you’re curious about a cast, well, do I have a list for you. Though it lacks any explanations because those are boring. This is simply to give you someone to visualize when you read it! You’re free to ignore it 🙂

Doctor Doom

Reed Richards

Sue Storm

Johnny Storm

Ben Grimm

And here’s the script! If for whatever you reason you lose this post you can find the script up in the top right corner area that says “Screenplays”.

Fantastic Four

The Bell Curve

It’s interesting, when you take a look at movies in a series. One after the other they’re able to match and sometimes surpass the scale of the original. The Lord of the Rings does this perfectly. It starts off rather small. The biggest confrontation they have is with some goblins half way through the film and then the climax is a fight against a group of super orcs (I’m generalizing here). From there the scale grows until the entire world is at stake. If our heroes don’t win and Frodo doesn’t get the ring to Mount Doom, then all is lost.

Movies tend to end there. That’s the grandest scale they’ll ever achieve because the story is almost always over at that point. The same can be said for Harry Potter – Prisoner of Azkaban notwithstanding – by the end, it’s do or die for Harry Potter. Either he wins, or Voldemort wins. Either way the story is coming to an end.

Movies__037523_If I were to draw a graph, it would be two axi labeled “scale” and “story progression”. As the story progresses, the scale gets larger and larger. By the time the story has finished, you’ve got the scale as large as it can be in that world. In the cases of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, the entire world is at stake.

Television on the other hand – serialized television that is – attempts to follow this model. The problem is that the show always continues past the point of the largest scale conflict, leaving writers confused on how to top themselves next year so viewers will return. Look at something like Lost. The show’s scale grew so large that eventually we were dealing with different timelines and alternate dimensions. At some point the show was up its own ass trying to top itself.

Further examples are Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Person of Interest and many more. It isn’t much of a stretch to say that most popular television shows suffer from this problem. It’s an easy trap to fall into. The larger the conflict, the more danger there is, then the more people will be invested. Unfortunately there’s something I’d refer to as a “bliss point” for scale. It’s the very top of that graph I described above for film.

Take for example, Supernatural. By the time the show had reached its fifth season they were confronting the devil himself. According to the creator of the show at the time, the show’s story was over. It had reached its natural conclusion. Plus, there can’t be anyone out there who is worse than the devil himself right?

4530587-supernatural-5x19-hammer-of-the-gods-mark-pellegrino-16732636-1280-720Well CW had other plans. The show continues to be immensely popular and has continued for another five seasons after its supposed conclusion. But the scale has been all over the place. The conflicts feel forced and they don’t read the same any longer. The issue? The writers felt they had to match the scale of the devil. But once you’ve fought and beaten the most evil thing in all of creation, can anything really measure up?

The solution? Follow more of a bell curve for scale. The perfect example of this is Breaking Bad. The first season is as small scale as possible. Walt and Jesse deal with a single drug dealer over the course of six episodes. Season by season their empire expands. As that happens, the conflicts that arise are also larger. This continues until the show hits its apex: Gus. The drug kingpin is the largest scale villain the show has the possibility of seeing.

But wait, you say… There was another season of Breaking Bad. What about that one? That’s the trick of the bell curve. You start small, slowly increasing the level of conflict until it hits that “bliss point”. Then, if the story continues, you reel it back in. Bring it close to home and make it small time.

That’s what Breaking Bad did. After Walt finally triumphs over Gus, he, Mike, and Jesse start their own business. The conflict is then internal in the group. They’re all each other’s worst enemies (and their own occasionally). In most cases the antagonist is Jesse. But when we hit the season’s halfway point, the conflict gets even smaller and closer to home: Hank. Hank discovering Walt’s secret is the other end of the bell curve. The conflict and antagonist are practically related to Walt now. No longer are we dealing with drug kingpins and international cartels. It’s simply Walt against his brother in law.

Breaking-Bad-Season-51Of course that conflict comes to an end two episodes before the show does. That’s where Jesse comes back into play. The conflict then stems from probably the only person Walt ever really felt a connection with.

So to make a long story short: you start small and slowly increase the scale of the conflict until it hits the zenith. Then slowly bring the scale back down and closer to home. This allows for the stories to become personal and still be interesting even if they don’t mean the end of the world for the main characters.

Many shows don’t follow that sort of storytelling, but it’s one of the reasons I believe Breaking Bad is so successful. Vince Gilligan saw that after Gus there could be no larger conflict for Walt. So he looked inwards for a new antagonist and saw that those closest to Walt would make for a great personal story.

This “theory” if you’ll allow it, is something more shows should attempt to emulate. Bigger and more bombastic isn’t always the answer. Sometimes it’s the more personal narratives that can hold just as much weight in the viewer’s mind.

“The Martian” Review

The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott, and based on the book written by Andy Weir is a surprisingly simple film. That isn’t a criticism, but if you read the book, you’ll remember that it’s filled with tons of scientific jargon. The film streamlines a lot of that and it’s to the film’s credit that it balances the science while trying not to confuse the viewer.

But the simplicity continues into the plot as well. It starts in a perfectly normal mission to Mars. The team is out and about when a storm hits. It’s too strong for them to stay on the planet, so they scrub the mission and begin to head home. But on the way to the rocket, Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) is struck by debris and left for dead. The crew simply cannot risk going back for him or everyone else might die.

But surprise! He lives! Of course he does or else there’d be no movie. So Watney awakens and has to survive on Mars until he can either be rescued or the next Mars mission arrives and can retrieve him. Most of the movie’s first act is Watney adjusted to his new situation. He never intended to stay on Mars by himself. But thankfully Mars is a botanist, so he knows a thing or two about growing his own food and surviving off the land.

There are two other subplots in the movie. One encompasses all the NASA people. At first they deal with the fact that Mark is dead and what that means for future Mars missions. Then they have to deal with the fact that he’s actually alive! Now they have to get him back. It’s here that the plot because stuffed with characters.

There’s the director of NASA – played by Jeff Daniels – the PR director, the leader of the Mars missions, the engineer, and a tech person. That’s probably not even all the characters. Many of them are played by very good actors. The cast includes Kristen Wiig, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover, Sean Bean, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. I’m probably forgetting one or two names but that’s already a ton of people for a subplot. Actors like Sean Bean only have two or three scenes in the whole movie. It’s kind of a waste of talent.

The second subplot of the movie involves the remaining crew. They’re currently on their ship, on course to earth, when they receive the news that Mark is alive. The crew is comprised of Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Michael Pena. They have even fewer scenes in the movie than the NASA crew until around the third act when everyone comes together for the finale. Their characters are interesting, but they have so little time on screen that it’s hard to get attached to any of them.

Back to Watney though, his journey on Mars is akin to Cast Away. There are several major things that happen to him that cause you to wonder if he’s going to get off the planet alive. The interesting aspect of his is that Mark will explain why things went wrong… sometimes. When he tries to make water and nearly sets himself on fire, Mark will explain – through video diaries – what went wrong. But when other major things happen Mark completely ignores any explanation. It’s unfortunate and a bit confusing for the viewer who hasn’t read the book before.

Despite that, the movie thrives on Damon’s performance. He’s almost always acting with nothing else in the room with him and yet he makes his scenes completely interesting. There are times that he cheers that you want to cheer along beside him. You want to root for him, and it’s fun.

Mars is basically a character in of itself. Boy is it beautiful to look at too. The red and orange plains of Mars make you sit back and wonder about visiting another planet.

Another thing that was bothersome is towards the third act, all conflict flies out the window until the grand finale of the movie. Mark is supposed to make a very long journey in order to attempt something to get home. The whole thing is going to take seven months, but it’s entirely passed over by the film. So there’s a huge gap in time where everything goes right for Watney and doesn’t exactly make his rescue feel as rewarding as it should be.

That said, the film does do a few things better than the book. There’s an epilogue in the movie that shows the state of the crew and other characters after the mission. This is really appreciated as it helps the audience decompress from the anxiety of the climax. The book itself just sort of… ends. Full stop. It was a pacing decision that I’m glad the movie fixes.

Overall the movie is completely worth watching. It’s got some pacing issues and it makes you wonder why certain characters were ever there in the first place. But aside from those, it’s worth the charm of seeing a foreign planet like you never have before.

Fantastic Four

If you haven’t heard by now, Fox Studios released the first trailer for their new Fantastic Four movie. If you don’t remember (and who could blame you), Fox had put out two previous films nearly ten years ago. They were both awful. So naturally when it came time to re-up the rights to the characters, people begged Fox to give them back to Marvel so they could make something good – or at the very least decent – out of it. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Fox traded Daredevil for an extension of the FF rights and here we are today.

But that’s not exactly the whole story. There’s been a lot of talk about this movie. Most of it has been about the production of the film. There were casting issues, script issues, and reshoots… so many reshoots. From what it sounded like, this movie got taken apart and put back together at least twice. If anyone recalls Superman Returns, you know that never works out well. So I’m being kind when I say that the expectations of this movie are beyond low. And that’s not just from racist fanboys who can’t stand the fact that Johnny Storm is black. Every word on this movie has been a cautionary one.

Yet here we are today, with the trailer’s release, and I find myself conflicted. First off, it’s a very well done trailer. It reminds me somewhat of Interstellar, talking about the advancements of humanity and what science can do for us as a species. It’s shot very well, which I expect from Josh Trank, who directed Chronicle. It show cases each other characters except our main villain (Toby Kebbell playing Doctor Doom) and some other sprawling shots with a VO from Reg E. Cathey from House of Cards (He’s playing Johnny Storm’s father). The most starling fact is the lack of showcase for the powers. Except for a brief shot of the Human Torch and two small shots of The Thing, you’d have no idea this was a superhero movie from the scenes alone.

It’s an interesting avenue to take. I wonder if Fox – or Trank – thought the seriousness of the trailer wouldn’t make sense in a superpowered montage. I tend to agree, but then I have to wonder what kind of tone they’re going for. Is this some kind of ruse? I imagine we’ll have to wait until the second trailer, or reports from press events, to see if the tone holds. If it does, we may have something interesting on our hands. If not… then we go back to praying the rights return to Marvel someday.

No one wants a bad movie. But the Fantastic Four has a terrible history and the production of this one isn’t much better. The cast is young, but hopefully not too young (IMDB). Unfortunately Mr. Fantastic is the only character with any kind of dialogue, so it’s hard to get a grasp on the kind of characters we’re seeing.

I suppose all we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best. We’ve only got another seven months to see for sure.

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

This has been a long time coming. The X-Men franchise has had its fair share of missteps with entries like X3 and Wolverine Origins. But with subsequent movies they’ve managed to bring the series closer to its former glory. DOFP furthers that goal, making it one of the best X-Men movies in recent memory.

The year is 2023 and the mutants are nearly extinct. Grand weapons called Sentinels are after them, wiping them out one by one until no one is left. In a last ditch effort, Professor X (Sir Patrick Stewart) comes up with a plan to send Wolverine back in time to stop the Sentinels from ever being built. In order to do so he’ll have to find Xavier’s younger self (played by James McAvoy) and bring him back together with Magneto’s (Sir Ian McKellen) younger self (played by Michael Fassbender). Of course back then they weren’t the closest of friends and so begins Wolverine’s quest to bring them together again.

When Wolverine is sent back, we’re thrown into the 1970’s, but the movie doesn’t shy away from cutting back to the present day. In a bit of time travel trickery, Wolverine can only be in the past for so long. If he takes too long to complete the mission, the rest of the mutants will die – the Sentinels are on their way. This adds a bit of urgency to the plot, but not a lot happens in the present day aside from the opening and a few action scenes, most of which felt ultimately unnecessary. There’s plenty of action and much better set pieces back in the 1970’s storyline. The two timelines only converge briefly for a conversation between young Xavier and present Xavier. It’s a great scene between two amazing actors, and it’s one of the films pivotal moments. Aside from that though there isn’t much happening in the present timeline.

For Wolverine, being stuck in the past has its own set of problems. This is a Wolverine without his metal claws, and a Xavier who’d rather sacrifice his powers in order get his legs back. Much of the movie is spent with Wolverine trying to convince Xavier that it’s worth getting his powers back and help stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence in a standout role) from causing the mutant apocalypse.

McAvoy shines as a tortured Xavier. He wants nothing more to forget the past and spend the rest of his days drinking away in an overgrown mansion. McAvoy translates Xavier’s pain and makes us feel for him. The said can be same of Fassbender, who portrays a Magneto who might actually regret some of the choices he made.

The rest of the cast is great too. Jennifer Lawrence has a much more significant role this time around and manages it perfectly. Peter Dinklage is amazing as always, but his villain in Bolivar Trask falls a bit short. There’s never any real understanding of what his motivation is. He states in the movie that he admires mutants and is fascinated by what they do, yet he’s building the Sentinels that will come to the destroy them. Does he want money? Power? It’s never really explained.

Another role that “stands out” so to speak, is Evan Peters’ Quicksilver. The character drew much ire from online circles who criticized the character’s look, which sticks way too close to the comics for comfort. That said, Quicksilver’s role in the movie is short and sweet. He has a fun slow-motion sequence and is then abandoned for the rest of the movie. This works just fine as the way Peters plays Quicksilver could easily get frustrating if get around much longer.

The X-Men series has never been one for keeping to continuality when it doesn’t suit them, but there are some glaring errors that are hard to ignore if you’ve seen any of the past movies. For example, how is Professor X still alive? Why does Wolverine have metal claws, for when we last saw him they were back to bone? How does Kitty Pryde suddenly have time traveling powers? These are things that might bother a more hardcore fan of the series, but your average viewer probably won’t even realize there’s an issue.

Perhaps the most important part of DOFP is that it’s not just about Wolverine. The character has more or less been the star of every movie he’s been in. Not so this time. While he plays a very important role in the story, the bulk of the plot is given to Xavier and Magneto. It helps give the movie a larger sense of scale and importance. This isn’t just about one man. There are other people who have issues they need to overcome in order to help save the world.

The movie ends on an interesting note. It’s one that leaves many questions open, one’s we may not get answers to for some time. But overall X-Men: Days of Future Past is the best X-Men movie we’ve had in years. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who thought the series had fallen from greatness. This will easily pull you back in.

Why the Star Wars Canon Doesn’t Matter

There’s a lot (perhaps too much) complaining about all things Star Wars lately. The timing makes sense, since Star Wars has been in the news lately. The biggest quip of late has been the news that Disney is essentially rebooting the expanded universe (EU). This got everyone’s panties in a twist. The real kicker here though, is that this doesn’t matter in the long run.

I should start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of the Star Wars expanded universe. I have an entire bookshelf with only Star Wars books on them. I loved a great deal of the stories told in the expanded universe. While it kind of sucks that those stories won’t continue, it doesn’t mean the other books are being gathered up and burnt up Hitler style. Instead they’re reestablishing a new line of books that will run in line with their new onscreen efforts. This has always been the case. No matter what Wookiepedia claimed or whatever else, the onscreen universe came first in terms of canon. This reboot was always coming and there are good reasons why.

What’s worth mentioning though, is that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Back during the airing of the Clone Wars television show, Karen Traviss was writing her Republic Commando series. As it turned out, the writers of the Clone Wars wanted to go in a different direction than she did. Therefore Traviss was told she could either change course with them, or abandon ship. She chose the latter and the series ended at least a book short. It’s unfortunate, but when you have a universe as expansive as Star Wars it’s bound to happen.

When it comes to the new movies, there’s a business decision to be made. It’s not that Disney wanted to erase everything Del Rey and Lucasbooks put together just because they felt like it. Instead they’re looking out for the general audience member who hasn’t touched the EU. Imagine having to go into a Batman movie knowing the entire sixty years of comic book history that preceded it. You’d be lost. It would be really tough to enjoy something that was simply stuck in an existing timeline.

This way everyone gets a fresh start and things make sense. The writers are able to cherry-pick the areas and characters they want to use (very much like comic book movies do) and continue on from there. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Solos only have the twins. Having Anakin would be confusing for audiences. While you may think that it would be simply to differentiate between the two, the general public isn’t that smart. People will claim confusion and it’s just easier to avoid that all together.

This also gives people a fresh place to jump on from. I can only imagine the number of people who have wanted to start reading the books only to realize to understand where certain characters came from and other references you’d have to go through nearly forty years of comic books and novels. It’s daunting to say the least. Now people don’t have to worry so much about that and they can start reading from the new beginning.

It’s entirely possible that down the road we’ll see fan favorite characters such as Thrawn and Mara Jade made into movie characters, albeit with a slightly different history. That’s worth something in my book even if it isn’t done exactly the way it happened in the EU. As long as they keep true to the spirit of the character – like comic book movies tend to – then I’m okay with it.

In the end, for those who loved the EU, those books are still there. They’re not going anywhere. Sure, those particular characters and threads may not be continued any longer, but that doesn’t mean this new phase in Star Wars won’t be any good. I would love to see everyone give it a chance and see where it goes. At the very least Lucas isn’t involved right?

Powered by

Up ↑