Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

Tag Archives: Warner Bros.

ANCC: Green Lantern

Goin’ green!  Goin’ Solo!  This week, it is just Nick as he discusses the 2011 superhero film Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds!  He discusses all of the cons and manages to even find a pro!  Will this one-person episode work?  Download the episode to find out!

To listen to the episode, click here or on the image below.

ANCC68.jpg

Advertisements

Summer 2016 Movie Mini-Reviews!

I’ve seen a decent number of the 2016 summer season offerings, but I honestly have neither the interest nor the time to write a detailed review of everything I’ve seen. Hence, I’ve decided to compile a few mini-reviews as a site update and a way to express a few opinions. I typically have Wikipedia open during a movie review as a reference, but I’m not going to do that this time. So don’t be surprised to find minor errors throughout this post.

Warcraft

This movie, intended by Universal Pictures and videogame company Blizzard to be the first in a series, is terrible and famously bombed in American theaters (Chinese audiences saved it from being a total disaster). The acting is not the problem here. Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, and Toby Kebbell are all pretty great in their roles. I really liked Kebbell’s performance as Durotan actually. Duncan Jones’ direction seems weirdly rushed. The whole movie seemed quickly paced, which limited character development and emotional investment from the audience. Outside of the acting, I also appreciated the production design and special effects. The movie looks great in theaters. The big problems, besides the directing, are in the film’s lackluster script and in its worldbuilding. It seems limited, restrained, held back. It should have been epic and it just was not. That being said, I still probably liked it more than most people. It is not typical of a summer movie, and I can appreciate that. It is still not good.

Finding Dory

I’m not a fan of Pixar movies. This movie didn’t change my opinion of them for the better. Yes, it has grossed a metric ton of cash but then again most Pixar films that aren’t about dinosaurs do. I just don’t care for Pixar movies that much. Highlights include Ellen Degeneres’ and Ed O’Neill’s voice acting performances, beautiful computer animation, and a fairly strong script that doesn’t just rehash the first movie. It is still sappy and emotionally manipulative and it still straddles the line between “for kids” and “for adults,” so again it just isn’t for me. I just don’t think I’ll ever like a Pixar movie again and I’m ok with that.

The Shallows

Anyone who has read my writing on here from the beginning knows I’m a huge fan of “man vs. nature” movies. This is a special case as it is woman (Blake Lively) vs. nature, which hasn’t been done that much. I absolutely loved it! I seriously hope Lively gets some awards season attention for her role in this film as she is fantastic. The movie follows Lively as she is menaced by a shark in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Mexico. Too far from shore and with a gaping wound from a bite, Lively must survive against the elements and outwit Mother Nature herself. Well shot, well directed, well acted, well scripted… this low budget thriller has it all, including really decent special effects despite its limited budget. This is the best “(wo)man vs. nature” film since Liam Neeson’s The Grey from 2012.

Tarzan

Though it received overall pretty terrible reviews, I actually really liked this movie. It is gorgeously shot and although paced glacially at times, it never failed to keep my interest. It is colorful throughout, which is a change of pace from typical modern blockbusters. Stellen Skarsgard’s son (Peter I think?) is fine as Tarzan, but Samuel L. Jackson (who I’m usually not a big fan of) steals the show. He’s the most interesting character in the film and is a huge asset here. Christoph Waltz is also fine as the villain, though I would have liked to see him get even crazier. Special effects are excellent (they should be as this film cost 180 million dollars to produce) with special credit going to the gorillas, who look realistic and terrifying throughout. This movie was a huge summer surprise for me and I really enjoyed it.

The Purge: Election Year

I really enjoy The Purge series of films. The first started small, the second greatly expanded on the idea, and the third expands even further on the excellent sequel. Election Year is the best film in the franchise. It is topical without losing its violent, visceral appeal. Bringing Frank Grillo back as ex-cop Leo was an excellent idea, as was adding Elizabeth Mitchell as a Bernie Sanders-esque presidential candidate. These films get better and better with each installment and its nice to see them thrive at the box office as well. I really appreciate films that skimp on the budget but not on the thrills. It helps that The Purge series is built on a fantastic concept and that the filmmakers have expanded that concept so successfully. This may be my favorite film of the summer, give or take a Now You See Me 2.

Ghostbusters

I have the controversial opinion on the new Ghostbusters film: I thought it was just okay. It’s nowhere near as odious as militant fanboys on the internet would have you believe (Overzealous fanboys on the internet? Well, I never!), nor is it as great as obnoxious left-leaning bloggers would want you to think. It is decently funny in places and its characters are well worth spending the time with. I just think the movie could have been so much better. Unfortunately the villain is completely undercooked and I just couldn’t find him particularly interesting. Likewise, I’m about sick of the Hemsworth family and this film is no exception. I never found Chris Hemsworth funny as bumbling secretary Kevin. The good here are in the performances from the four main characters and the special effects. The script could have used a fine-tuning and the direction is lifeless at times, which is detrimental to a comedy. Again, it’s just an okay movie.

Star Trek Beyond

I did not like Star Trek Into Darkness but I loved the initial installment of this reboot series. Beyond thankfully is more of the first movie and less Into Darkness. I still love this new cast and I really like some of the ideas presented in this movie. It was entertaining and crowd pleasing, but just not that special. It’s a very solid summer movie but also very indicative of the 2016 summer season. It unfortunately doesn’t really stand out on its own. Highlights include the aforementioned cast (RIP, Anton Yelchin), the direction (Justin Lin fits in fine here), the production design, and the special effects. The script is ok, with some good ideas, but is mostly perfunctory. It’s a shame though that it just doesn’t feel as special as that first movie. It is a perfectly good summer movie and I certainly enjoyed it more than Into Darkness.

The Vacation Reboot is Where Comedy Goes to Die

I’m not a huge fan of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series of movies, but I can say that I like them and I’ve seen them all (even the weirdo European Vacation and the awful Vegas Vacation). The initial film in the series is regarded as a comedy classic, and I think that’s just fine; it’s pretty funny and Chevy Chase is fantastic as the Griswold patriarch. The script (from 80s vet John Hughes, based loosely on his own family experiences) is funny and memorable as well. Christmas Vacation is a great seasonal comedy movie that I try to watch every year. It’s infinitely quotable and off the wall without being entirely unrealistic (at least until the fourth reel). I like them all just fine, sure, why not?

Vacation_poster

But do I like them well enough to be interested in a series reboot? Nah, not really. I probably never would have even seen 2015’s Vacation reboot (starring Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold, previously played, among other actors, by The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki) at all if not for the HBO Go service. Having recently renewed HBO Go in order to watch Game of Thrones (among other shows and films as well), I happened to notice a few recent films available on demand, and decided to check out Vacation on almost a total whim. I had only heard bad things, and upon seeing it I now understand why. It is not a particularly good film. In fact, it’s downright unpleasant.

Here’s the (extremely thin) premise: Ed Helms’ Rusty notices his family is not getting along lately. His kids are fighting a lot and his wife seems bored and uninterested in him romantically. So instead of jet-setting off to Paris with his wife to rekindle their romance like she wants, he decides to drive the family across the country to Wally World, the Six Flags-like adventure theme park the Griswold family visited in the first film in the series. Helms’ Rusty wants to recapture the magic he felt upon first visiting Wally World as a child come hell or high water. So the family rents a van (a constant source of unfunny ridicule) and heads out for adventures, making various stops along the way just as the Griswold family did in the original film.

Vacation has copious amounts of issues, first and foremost with its script. Penned by Freaks and Geeks alum John Francis Daley (who also wrote the equally atrocious Burt Wonderstone and co-directed this film with Jonathan Goldstein), the film simultaneously relies on cheap family nostalgia and gross-out gags. The tone is wild and varying throughout. We’re meant to both laugh at Helm’s Rusty Griswold and also sympathize with or pity him, but the script never seems to have his back, nor does it give us a reason to care about his journey. There’s no reason whatsoever to cheer for this schlemiel of a man. The entire premise of the film is predicated on his selfishness, putting his needs before those of the family that is crying out for their patriarch. These people need Rusty Griswold, but he’s only interested in recapturing what he experienced as a child 30 years ago.

The rest of the Griswold family is as equally unpleasant as Rusty. Christina Applegate plays Rusty’s disaffected wife who is equal parts unpleasant and nasty. I truly expected her on multiple occasions to just up and divorce Rusty and abandon the family on the spot, and I can’t say I would have blamed her. The two Griswold children are also unpleasant, with the older one giving off serious creeper vibes and the younger one an obnoxious pre-teen desperately in need of a toning-down by the horrible script. Leslie Mann, perhaps the most annoying actress in the history of American comedy, makes a cameo as Rusty’s sister Audrey, and hams it up with an embarrassing Chris Hemsworth, portraying an American cowboy without an ounce of authenticity. By the time Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo show up for their requisite cameos, it’s so late in the film I could barely muster the energy to give a shit.

It’s hard to overstate just how awful this film is. It’s somehow derivative of films that are also awful, like We’re the Millers or the 2006 Robin Williams vehicle (no pun intended) RV, but I’d rather watch We’re the Millers and RV a hundred times in a row one after the other than endure another five minutes of Daley’s awful new Vacation film. If you happen to like nasty and vile characters who spend great lengths of time bickering back and forth, hitting each other, and covered in human shit (sometimes all three at once!), perhaps this is the film for you. If you want to see a man covered in cow entrails while another cow cannibalizes said entrails, again check out this film. If you’re interested in quality, entertaining products that aren’t horrible and cheap, go ahead and skip this one. You’ll probably be better off.

-Z-

I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

**Warning: Perhaps mild spoilers, but not really**

After three years (that felt more like thirty years to be honest), Warner Bros. latest DC disasterpiece, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is finally in theaters. Well, at least it will be in a few days. I managed to get invited to a special sneak preview, and after seeing it I’m just kind of perplexed. I’m really not sure what I just watched. It was half awful, half amazing. It was full of some of the weirdest shit I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie. It is simultaneously over and under-written. One thing is for sure, however: Batman v Superman really doubles down on the doom and gloom – and I highly doubt this film is going to change anyone’s minds about the direction of the DC “cinematic universe.”

bvs

I’m not one of these people who hates on DC for trying to accomplish what Marvel does with their films. I actually dislike most of the Marvel because they’re such generic pieces of shit. There’s barely an ounce of creativity in those sterile movies (save for Guardians of the Galaxy, which was such a weird concept I’m wagering Marvel didn’t attempt to reign it in because they assumed it would flop). I like living in a world where DC movies are significantly different from Marvel films. I just wish DC’s movies were better, particularly this one. It’s true that I liked Man of Steel (I actually think I like it significantly more than BvS at this point though that could change), but it is largely disliked and even hated by a significant portion of the Internet.

As much as that shouldn’t matter, it does. Internet fanboys make up a significant portion of the noise online, unfortunately. Again, it pains me but this must be taken into consideration. BvS isn’t going to appeal to these people because BvS is essentially everything they hated about MoS amplified tenfold. There’s wanton destruction (this time with shoe-horned in lines about people getting to safety!), loud noises, explosions, half-developed plot ideas, crazy unrelated-able science stuff, and awful writing permeating through BvS. The film also manages to make Batman, the dourest of dour characters, somehow even more cynical, dour, and humorless. I’m not sure Batman has a single fun moment in this entire picture.

On the other hand, there’s Superman, and he’s handled significantly better in this movie than he was in MoS. Superman, now seen as a godlike figure to some and as a tyrant to others following the Metropolis disaster, is surprisingly the most interesting character in the film. The little moments where Superman saves people from floods and burning buildings are striking, beautiful, and moving. Hans Zimmer’s score swells in the background, Zack Snyder’s direction works well, and Henry Cavill nails Superman in these moments. He also looks fantastic as Superman. Unfortunately, he’s awful at being Clark Kent. He’s awkward in all the wrong ways. He looks like he’s never spoken to another human being in his entire life. His romance with Lois Lane is completely unbelievable.

Speaking of Lois, Adams is fine in the role once again. Other supporting characters, like Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and newcomer to the film series Gal Godot are all fine in their roles. I expected Godot to shine a bit more as Diana Prince, but her role is really much more of an extended cameo. The weirdest bit of casting was in Jesse Eisenberg as Alexander “Lex” Luthor. I expected Eisenberg to essentially ramp up his Mark Zuckerberg shtick, but he doesn’t do this. What he does is actually ramp the crazy up to 11, almost to the point of being completely and utterly ridiculous. I was a huge fan of casting Eisenberg as Luthor and I championed it time and time again. But I don’t think it works. He looks like he’s in a completely different movie.

Batman v Superman is an almost humorless film. The script is awful, especially for the first half of the film. BvS doesn’t know what it wants to be entirely. It jumps back and forth between scenes of Superman or Batman doing random stuff with little rhyme or reason. It’s almost 45 minutes before any semblance of a plot starts to kick in. The film finds it necessary to go back to climax of Man of Steel in order to give Batman motivation, but it’s almost completely unnecessary. The film would have functioned without it. There’s also an unusual amount of random, unnecessary violence permeating the film, as well as totally incomprehensible flashbacks and dream sequences. Like I said, the script is kind of a mess.

Snyder is going to get blamed for the film’s faults, which isn’t really fair. He’s a fine action director. I know it’s as cool to bash on him as it is Michael Bay, but Snyder is a talented storyteller and I honestly think he does the best he can with such as garbage script. If anything, I appreciate just how much Snyder seems to love this universe, and his attention to detail is pretty good. There are little things, like Diana Prince investigating other “meta humans” that works. The film, however, is hyper-violent and filled with unnecessary death. I’m not certain that so many people needed to be either shot to death or killed in fiery explosions.

Even as a MoS apologist, I am sitting her finding it difficult to recommend Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I like about half of the film, particularly the moments with Superman. But Batman is totally botched here. I don’t necessarily think it’s Affleck’s fault either. I can’t see Christian Bale, one of my favorite actors, turning this into Oscar winning material either. The main fault of the film is that it lacks identity. Does it want to be a team-up movie like The Avengers, a gritty crime drama like Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy of films, or a hyper-violent, Snyder-esque action film a la 300 or Watchmen? It tries to be all three, and thus doesn’t quite stick the landing. I can’t possibly see this film winning over the naysayers and I have no idea what’s going to happen to Warner Bros.’ long-term plans for a DC “film universe.”

-Z-

BvS: Can We Gain Some Perspective on R-Ratings?

Word on the street is that the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, though rated PG-13 for theaters, will have a home video “Director’s Cut” release with a R-rating (for violence).  And people are losing their fucking minds over it.  I have seen nothing but overreactions with people thinking the film will somehow feature over-the-top gore, Batman dropping F-bombs, and hard-core nudity.  bvs.jpg

Are these people idiots?  Do they have no clue to how the MPAA rating system works?  .  The difference between a R and a PG-13 can be incredibly slim.  For example, Marvel’s The Avengers was originally rated R for the first couple of cuts.  Yes, the popcorn, family friendly, safe superhero film that was The Avengers was originally rated R due to Phil Coulson’s original death scene.  Once that got reworked, the film was cleared for a PG-13.

While BvS looks like a more somber film than The Avengers, I have little doubts that the changes for the Director’s Cut are ultimately minor and probably just feature a bit more violence like the aforementioned Coulson death scene.  The only difference is that Warner Bros. is open to releasing that cut to the public.

This is nothing new to the world of home video releases.  The 2000s, in particular, were home to many movies coming to DVD with a “unrated” version.  This is an extension of that trend and really shouldn’t surprised anyone.  Remember home media release of 2013’s The Wolverine or the extended versions of The Hobbit? Same thing.

Of course, logic and facts haven’t stopped anyone one from ignoring this and proceed with their own nonsensical beliefs.  The biggest one being that the reason BvS is getting a “R-rating” is because the recently-released Deadpool proved you can have a R-rated superhero movie (while forgetting such films as  Dredd, Kick-Ass, Watchmen, Blade, and Sin City among others).  Lets not forget that Deadpool‘s R-rating is for very, very different reasons that anything that would ever appear in a Batman/Superman movie.

dead

Deadpool‘s influence has been vastly overstated.

While I am sure Deadpool‘s success was a factor, it was likely a minor one at that.  Deadpool came out less than two weeks ago meaning that if Warner Bros. decided right then on February 15 to do a R-rated version of BvS, that means they would have to bring back director Zack Snyder and his editors to reedit the film to push it to the R-rating, reedit the thing, and resubmit the film.  Then, the MPAA would have to schedule a time to watch it.

While not impossible, the timeline isn’t practical.  A Director’s Cut was likely already in the works well before Deadpool.  The only thing that Deadpool might have done to influence this decision is to actually list it as “R” as opposed to “unrated”.

Again, I remind readers of The Avengers and how that was originally rated R.

This bullshit overreaction needs to stop, and I really wish the collective that is the internet would gain some perspective.  Batman v. Superman will be an all-audiences film no different than Man of Steel or any Marvel film before it.  If Warner Bros. want to put out a slightly more violent version for comic book fans in addition the the theatrical version, then so be it.  This is something that has been going on for years.  Doesn’t mean it’s going to be a hard-R with Ben Affleck shouting “Are you retarded?  I’m the Goddamn Batman!”

 

Although….

 

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road

I don’t particularly care for the first or third Mad Max films. I recognize the cultural importance of the first film, and the third has become known for its “Two men enter, one man leaves” catchphrase which has been parodied a million times throughout pop culture. But I don’t have any kind of nostalgia for either of them. The first is a cult classic and the third was a minor Hollywood hit, but the second film, known here as The Road Warrior and internationally as Mad Max 2, is my pick for the second best action flick of the 80s (just narrowing out Aliens and behind Die Hard, the greatest film of the 1980s).

Max_Mad_Fury_Road_Newest_Poster

I bring all this up because I was hoping that Fury Road, the fourth in the long running film series and the first in nearly 30 years, would end up more like The Road Warrior and less like a Tina Turner vehicle. I avoided almost all marketing for Fury Road, choosing to not watch trailers, and even leaving the theater for a moment when they popped up. When commercials aired for the film on Hulu, I would instinctively mute them and look away. I went into this thing without seeing a single trailer and only have glimpsed the big bad, Immortan Joe, a single time. This was for the best, because ultimately Fury Road is an amazing action movie and a more than worthy sequel to a series that gave us The Road Warrior.

Director George Miller’s film will suffer the inevitable backlash as it has already received nearly unanimous praise. I’ve seen people dub it the savior of the action film. I’m not going to go this far (action movies have been great lately – see: The Fast and Furious franchise, John Wick, and 2013’s The Wolverine), but holy crap Fury Road is amazing. From the amazing stunt and practical effects work to the deft direction and brilliant shot composition to the outlandish vehicle and character design, there’s not much out there like Fury Road except for Fury Road. It’s a tremendous triumph of cinema, and an easy candidate for one of the year’s best films period, action or otherwise.

Tom Hardy steps into the role of Mad Max (last occupied by Mel Gibson), and Hardy is really damn good as Max. He’s off-kilter, unhinged, and opportunistic after years of living in the wasteland. When he’s captured by Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne) War Boys, however, he becomes a blood bag, essentially spare parts for one of the young soldiers in Joe’s army. Max subversively spends the first half-hour of the movie in captivity, while the story unfolds. One of Joe’s lieutenants, the charismatic Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron in what should be an Oscar nominated role), decides to go rogue, intending to free a cadre of young brides Immortan Joe has set aside for his own personal breeding purposes. This sets in motion a chain of events leading to Max becoming free and ultimately deciding to help Furiosa on her journey.

The film from there on in is essentially a two-hour chase through the desert wasteland, as Joe gathers his allies and heads out with deadly intent to murder Furiosa and return what he sees as his property. Complicating matters are Spendid (Rosie Huntington-Whitely), one of Joe’s brides – who is nine months pregnant, and Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a seemingly bulletproof War Boy who just won’t go away. Throughout the chase, Max and crew face off against motorcycle-riding bandits, porcupine-esque vehicular combat, a gentleman named The Bullet Farmer, and a band of tough-as-nails old women who remember what paradise was like before the expansion of the wasteland – all the while being pursued by Immortan Joe and his lieutenants.

Much has been written online about Fury Road’s amazing practical effects, gender subversions, intense imagery and violence, memorable characters, and deft direction. All these are true. This film is a modern classic featuring some of the best car combat captured on film. It’s also something of a relief that the film has found its audience, almost through sheer source of will. Even though the 150 million dollar production isn’t doing Avengers-type numbers (hey, what is?), the film is a pretty big hit domestically and worldwide. This speaks volumes to the film’s quality, as word of mouth has been overwhelmingly positive.

I imagine I have not touched on any new ground writing about this movie, and that’s fine with me. This is the type of production where, upon seeing the final product, you immediately go out and tell your friends about it. I’ve mentioned how great the film is to people would never go see a movie titled Mad Max: Fury Road, and not only did they see it – they also loved it. It’s been quite a while since something of this level of quality so unexpectedly became foisted upon us. If you are still on the fence, even just a little bit, about this film, please go out and check it out. It’s a pretty amazing, pretty special product.

-Z-

Those Weird and Wonderful Wachowskis

We are now just about one week out from the opening of Jupiter Ascending, an original science fiction film starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. The film’s release is big news for a few reasons. First of all, it was considerably delayed from a would-be cushy summer 2014 release date to the dregs of winter, causing wild speculation about the film’s production. Secondly, Jupiter Ascending is a big budget original science fiction film, the likes of which we only get every so often. These films are often massive failures (Gravity and Interstellar being two recent examples to the contrary). But the biggest reason why Jupiter Ascending interests me so much is that it was directed by the Wachowskis, the brother/sister directing team responsible for some of the most interesting films in Hollywood of the past 15 years.

'Jupiter_Ascending'_Theatrical_Poster

The two broke onto the scene in 1996 with Bound, a crime drama starring Gina Gershon and Meg Tilly. Though the film failed to gross back its 6 million dollar budget, it was well regarded and a critical hit (scoring a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes). The directing duo obviously became best known for their sophomore effort, the 1999 Keanu Reeves-starring science fiction masterpiece The Matrix. It cannot be understated how important and influential The Matrix was (and still is) to both science fiction and action movies. Itself influenced by Japanese anime and manga (in the years leading up to the “Cool Japan” fad), The Matrix went on to become a sleeper hit and spawn a multimedia franchise while also probably earning Warner Bros. several billion dollars in revenue.

It is approximately at this point where the Wachowskis promptly went insane, never to make a coherent movie ever again. I say this in both good and bad terms. The sequels to The Matrix, subtitled Reloaded and Revolutions, were both hits (more so Reloaded, a film that still holds several records for an R-rated release), but were also critically derided and met with intense scorn from fans online. I personally love Reloaded even if it is a giant mess. The atrocious cave-rave scene is ludicrous and bad, but that highway action scene is one of the most amazing sequences captured on film, and it was shot in 2001. I have to imagine the sting of the ultimate failure of these films hurt the Wachowskis credibility, however, because the two did not direct a film again until 2008, five odd years after their perceived follies.

It was that 2008 film, Speed Racer, that nearly put the final nail in their coffins. Speed Racer was positioned as a summer tentpole release by Warner Bros. This did not go super well. The $120 million dollar film was a huge bomb, grossing only $93 million dollars worldwide. The film failed critically as well, scoring an aggregate 39% on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite some positive notices for acting, the film was trashed by critics and ignored by audiences. In addition to being a critical and commercial disaster, Speed Racer was embarrassingly surrounded by product tie-ins that almost immediately entered bargain bins at retailers. The film has, however, seen a bit of a critical revival in recent years, with many now appreciating what the Wachowskis did with the product.

It would be another four years before the Wachowskis would make another film, this time a collaboration with German director Tom Tykwer. That film, Cloud Atlas, disappointed upon release in late 2012. A would-be awards contender, Cloud Atlas left critics cold and flopped with audiences, grossing only slightly more than its $102 million dollar production budget. For what it’s worth, I really liked Cloud Atlas, wild ambition and all. It was, however, the fourth boondoggle in a row for the Wachowskis. Even if it seemed they were making ambitious and interesting films, it also seemed as if no one save for a few people were interested anymore. I have to imagine a lot of their older fans remained frustrated or just moved on completely.

That leads us to Jupiter Ascending, their aforementioned latest science fiction film. The film was recently screened at Sundance for a surprise audience, who did not seem to like it that much. Sundance is admittedly not the best audience for a $175 million dollar science fiction epic, but this is still not a good sign. In a world where the release schedule goes something like Marvel movie, young adult adaptation, Marvel movie, awful horror franchise, young adult adaption, the Wachowskis are providing some interesting and fresh content here. I just want it to be good so much. While I enjoyed Cloud Atlas, I would still rather have something akin to The Matrix. It remains to be seen whether Jupiter Ascending will fit that bill, and though I like the Wachowskis, I have my doubts.

-Z-

Ezra Miller is The Flash

It is really hard to be a fan of comic books and superheroes sometimes.  It really is.  Oh, not because its nerdy or that other people will look down on it.  It is because of other, more intense comic book fans and how ridiculously over-the-top they act in regards to their hobby.  It is really embarrassing.  Today, we had another such example of the fanbase embarrassing itself.

Warner Bros. released a full slate of movies based on various DC Comics properties.  One such project is The Flash scheduled for release in 2018.  While that wasn’t an unexpected announcement, what was surprising was that WB already cast the titular hero.  In four years’ time, Ezra Miller (of Perks of Being a Wallflower fame) will be taking on the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster.

And then the internet fucking broke, and butthurt prevailed.

ezraflash

Now, I’ll admit that I found the casting of Miller to be a surprising move for many reasons.  For starters, it seems strange to cast a relative unknown actor as the lead in a movie four years away from being released with no director or writer currently attached.  Then again, I suspect he’ll probably make some sort of appearance in either the Batman v. Superman or Justice League prompting an early casting.

More unusual is that, while Miller is a solid actor, I never imagined him as a superhero, let alone The Flash.  But, as been shown in the past, outside-the-box casting can pay off especially if it fits a particular vision (Heath Ledger’s Joker being the prime example).  I am sure that Miller will be fine in the role.  The truth is, very much is unknown about The Flash and what this movie will ultimately be about (and why should we get all the answers right away anyway?  Are we so entitled?).  We should take in the news and then play a wait and see game to find out what is going to happen next.

Of course this is the Internet we are talking about and that will never ever happen.  Within hours of this announcement, the angry fanboys have come out of the woodwork to declare their anger against a movie they know nothing about.  I’ve seen rage that WB isn’t using Grant Gustin (star of the new Flash TV show) as the character in the upcoming movie because he is a perfect Barry Allen.  This is, of course, hilarious since people were completely raging against his casting a year ago.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

There have also been complaints that Miller is too young for the role and that he looks too effeminate.  What are they going off of with that.  Many of his past roles has had him as a quirky, off-beat character who has been typically young (and why not – he’s only 22 at the moment).  His head shot on IMDB is from 2008 when he was 16!  And the movie won’t come out for another four years.  That’s a completely unfair argument for people to use against his casting, but I’ve already seen it today.

For example, Speed Force, a Flash blog, is run by Kelson Vibber, one of the most level-headed comic book fans I have ever encountered online, and he had an article up earlier today going over The Flash movie announcement.  He goes out of his way to explain Miller’s young appearance is unintentionally deceiving in his IMDB head shot.  Yet, that did not stop a good portion of the comment section to completely ignore this and predict nothing but doom and gloom about the upcoming movie.

I just don’t get it.  Nothing is known about this movie.  If it was revealed that The Flash was going to be about an overweight would-be runner who decides to fight crime using a couple of oozies to take out space aliens who decided to invade his favorite mini-mart, then, yes, I can understand the why people would question that.

But in this case, nothing is known enough to get upset about.  We don’t even know which version of the Flash Miller will be portraying (despite online rumoring).  Based on the past roles he’s had, I can easily see him as Wally West.  Honestly, that might be a smart way to go so it wouldn’t step on the toes of the new TV show (featuring the Barry Allen Flash) or be redundant.

Point is, we don’t know what is happening with this movie other than a title, a date, and an actor.  There is absolutely no need to get so up-in-arms over it.  Honestly, I have to applaud WB for their casting of Ezra Miller.  They are putting together what they hope will turn into a series of superhero action films and one section of it will be headlined by an actor who openly identifies himself as “queer”.  You just don’t see studios doing that for big, blockbuster films unless the actor is already established and well-respected.

So, as I did with the reaction to Grant Gustin, I humbly request that the internet chill the fuck out or at least take a wait and see approach.

Oh, who am I kidding?  That’s not going to happen.

What Went Wrong?: Vol. 50 – Spectacularly Ill Advised Buddy Cop Edition

The buddy cop comedy/action film is, at this point, old hat for Hollywood. Even after being perfected by Lethal Weapon (and its eventual sequels) way back in the late 80s, every once in a while someone tries to update the genre anyway, usually to mixed success. A few outliers include the Rush Hour franchise, which was huge for a few years, as well as last year’s The Heat, a Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy “comedy” that was one of the worst films I saw in theaters last year. Something about pairing up two people who do not ostensibly go together just has some kind of special appeal to Hollywood, I guess. I’m not necessarily opposed to the buddy cop genre, but let’s be honest here – it is almost entirely played out.

CopoutposterDespite this, in 2009 Warner Bros. gave Kevin Smith, who is not particularly known for directing action films, 35 million dollars to make a Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan buddy cop film titled A Couple of Dicks, a film title that was funny the first time I heard it, but grew tiresome after that (much like Homer Simpson’s barbershop quartet The Be Sharps). Smith was forced, however, to change the title after Warner Bros. decided it might not be a good idea to have the word Dicks on a theater marquee. The best thing he could come up with then was Cop Out, another incredibly dumb title. The difference between the two was that while A Couple of Dicks was momentarily clever, Cop Out was always dumb.

Post name change, negative buzz continued to surround the film, particularly after the initial trailer was released in late 2009. The trailer was met with almost universal disdain, with criticism leveled at the unfunny jokes, the lazy riffing, and yet another bored Bruce Willis performance. When Cop Out was finally released in theaters late February 2010, critics unleashed vitriol not seen in quite some time upon it. The film scored a terrible 19% on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and abysmal 31/100 on Metacritic. Reviewers criticized the film’s laziness and poor script (it should be noted that Smith only directed and did not write Cop Out) as well as Bruce Willis’ terrible performance, which marked perhaps his eighth or ninth lazy/disinterested/boring performance in a row.

So, umm, what else went wrong? Well, for starters the film didn’t exactly light up the box office. Though it opened somewhat strongly with 18 million dollars, the film closed with about 44 million domestically and didn’t even double its budget worldwide, meaning it likely never turned a profit for studio Warner Bros. Furthermore, controversy arose in the aftermath of the film when it was revealed that director Smith feuded constantly with Willis on set. In an interview with podcaster/comedian Marc Maron in early 2011, Smith claimed that Willis would not even so much as sit for a poster shoot, and if not for the interventions of Tracy Morgan, that it could have gotten much worse between the two. A representative for Bruce Willis later claimed Smith smoked way too much marijuana on set, a claim Smith essentially owned up to.

In the aftermath of the various Cop Out controversies, Smith essentially retired from mainstream filmmaking. In addition to the Willis feud, Smith also unnecessarily provoked the ire of film critics when he claimed he would no longer hold free reviewer’s screenings for his films. This particularly rankled legendary film critic Roger Ebert and caused the reviewer community to claim Smith was both dishonest and disingenuous. Since Cop Out’s release in 2010, Smith has not directed another widely released film. His 2011 film Red State, which was widely panned but at least met with some positive critical notice, was available on video-on-demand. His next film, Tusk (another horror title), will be probably be distributed on video-on-demand once again later this year.

Kevin Smith has a fairly large and vocal fan base, but he has seemingly alienated everyone else around him. He hasn’t had a hit film in years, his films no longer appear in theaters, and even the movies he has made with big name actors (Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks) have done mediocre business at the box office (2008’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno was Seth Rogen’s first mainstream flop). 2010’s Cop Out drew Smith’s harshest reviews ever, failed to launch at the box office, ignited significant controversy, and has ultimately failed to endure, largely due to poor direction, a tired and cliché script, and an incredibly lazy Bruce Willis performance. Smith likely thought he had a Rush Hour-sized hit on his hands, but Cop Out ended up being one of the worst films of 2010, ultimately appealing to no one at all and essentially ending Kevin Smith’s mainstream directing career.

-Z-

What Went Wrong?: Vol. 48 – Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore Pairing Edition

In 1998 and then again in 2004, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler teamed up for the hit films The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. Both winter releases made big money and drew positive notices for the chemistry of their leads. As an aside, The Wedding Singer is probably my favorite Sandler movie and while I don’t really like 50 First Dates, I can’t deny the charming leads or the legitimately good ending, even if the premise leaks a bit in the middle. After ten years apart, the two leads returned for Blended, released by Warner Bros. just last weekend. The film met with brutal critical reception and some of the worst box office returns of Adam Sandler’s lengthy and successful career. So, what exactly went wrong?

Sandler's movies get worse with each passing year.

Sandler’s movies get worse with each passing year.

Adam Sandler’s career has sagged for the past few years. His last legitimate hit was 2010’s Grown Ups, a film that doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation. Subsequent film work included the critically reviled Just Go With It (a minor hit, but it still grossed much less than numbers Sandler is used to), Jack and Jill (which grossed about half of what a mainstream Sandler comedy film usually does), and finally That’s My Boy, a filthier, R-rated comedy that paired Sandler with Andy Samberg and flopped immediately, grossing just 36 million domestically against a budget of 70 million dollars. Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, That’s My Boy, and Grown Ups 2 are all considered to be among the worst movies ever made, with the most vitriol directed towards Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy (my pick for the worst mainstream film of 2012).

Meanwhile, Barrymore has kept somewhat of a lower profile in recent years. Her last true hit was 2009’s ensemble romantic comedy He’s Just Not That Into You, a critically savaged film that grossed about 93 million dollars but is remembered by absolutely no one (I had to look it up to make sure I wasn’t confusing it with any number of the other “multiple people have relationship difficulties” romantic comedies that became probably in the last 5 or so years). Barrymore has also done work behind the camera, directing the critical hit but commercial disappointment Whip It, which starred Ellen Page. Barrymore’s other high profile work includes the low grossing Big Miracle and the decently remembered (but still not a financial success) Going the Distance, which paired her with now ex-boyfriend Justin Long.

When Blended was in development, it seemed Warner Bros. wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. The film was briefly retitled The Familymoon, which is about the worst proposed movie title since All You Need is Kill. Shot on a budget of about 40 million dollars, the film was released to overwhelmingly negative reviews, garnering a score of about 14% on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and a MetaCritic score of 31, indicating universally negative reviews. Like previous “Adam Sandler takes a vacation and gets paid 20 million dollars” productions, critics described Blended as schmaltzy and Sandler himself as bored. Sandler, on a late night talk show, even admitted he does these kinds of movies just to take an extended vacation and get paid for it. Audiences have been reacting with decreasing levels of interests, as Blended opening against juggernaut X-Men: Days of Future Past with only a scant 14 million dollars, a far cry from the much larger openings of previous Sandler/Barrymore collaborations.

Adam Sandler is rightfully a target of scorn and vitriol. He is a legitimately talented and charismatic comic performer who seems content to remain at the bottom of the barrel and collect his massive paychecks without putting one iota of effort into the movies he makes. This is the kind of guy who seems incredibly nice and fun to be around, and who makes movie stars out of his friends (Kevin James, David Spade, Rob Schneider, etc) but just can’t seem to care enough to make an interesting movie. What was the last funny thing he starred in? When was the last time anyone was excited about a new Adam Sandler movie coming out? What happened to the actor who gave so much comic energy to movies like Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, and Big Daddy? It would be nice to see that guy in another movie once again. Barrymore would be a more than welcome presence in it as well. Try harder, Adam Sandler. Quit letting us down.

-Z-

%d bloggers like this: