Superheroes everywhere!

Following on from yesterday’s Suicide Squad post, here’s another entry into the DC Extended Universe. Scheduled for a 25th March release in the US and UK, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (a longer superhero film title would be harder to find) is the follow-up to Man of Steel. Zack Synder is once again at the helm and Henry Cavill will once again be donning the red cape. The major casting coup though, is Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/ Batman.

Following in the wake of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Batman could have been seen as a bit of a challenge, but I reckon Mr Synder and Warner Bros. have got the right man for the job. That Mr Affleck is also prepared to direct and star in what some are calling a “Batman reboot” further down the line points to headier times for our Gothan based night dweller. It’s good to see a star of Mr Affleck’s quality committing to such a project and he’s no slouch in the directing department either, picking up critical acclaim for Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo. Here’s a look at one of the trailers.

Oh yes, that is indeed Wonder Woman making an appearance. That’s what the “Dawn of Justice” part of the title alludes to. For those of a non-comic orientation, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are part of the Justice League. Think “Marvel’s Avengers” but with a DC spin – so expect more DC superheroes to be introduced in the future to fill out the Justice League roster.

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Black Mass – Pointless

Black Mass is the story of James “Whitey” Bulger and the exploitation of his association with the FBI to further his criminal activities. This is director Scott Cooper’s third film after the well-received Crazy Heart and Christian Bale vehicle Out of the Furnace. With a cast headed by Johnny Depp in the lead, Benedict Cumberbatch playing Bulger’s politician brother and Joel Edgerton as childhood friend and FBI agent, here’s a triumvirate that whets the appetite. Add to that the venerable talents of Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon and Peter Sarsgaard and we have a package that any Hollywood Exec. would bend over backwards to green light.

The trouble is there’s nothing new to be had. Yes, it’s one of those interesting “based on a true story” narrative and yes there are some good performances, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. You have to wonder if Mr Depp cherry picked the project to be able to dust off another transformative make-up process – all balding hairpiece and striking contact lenses – with an eye on the awards season. There is very little audience engagement with any of the characters – we don’t really care who the next person to be terrorized by “Whitey” Bulger will be. While Black Mass has a running time of 122 minutes, it feels at lot longer and that’s never a god thing. File this one under “P”.

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One Word Review recap + stuff!

Phew! And there was I, worried I may not be able to catch 5 films in the space of a couple of weeks. In fairness, I still haven’t seen Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Enemy, but that seems to be on a limited release and it hasn’t reached the homeland of Hertfordshire. 9 movies in 15 days isn’t bad though and I’m still enthusiastic to see more and write more. That’s got to be good. It’s also nice to write a post that isn’t a review, which is maybe why I’m waffling a little bit. Just trying to keep things fresh. It can’t all be a list of reviews and nothing else.

So, for your delight and delectation this morning – in addition to my Whiplash review – I thought I’d have a recap and post a trailer or two. Here goes…

One Word Review recap

Birdman poster v01

BirdmanPerceptive

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Exodus: Gods and KingsVapid

Imitation Game poster v01

The Imitation GameAffecting

Tak3n poster v01

Tak3nCrass

Wild poster

WildPresumptuous

Foxcatcher poster v04

FoxcatcherAbsorbing

Theory of Everything poster v02

The Theory of EverythingMoving

Selma poster v01

SelmaRighteous

Whiplash poster v02

WhiplashResonant

American Sniper poster v02

American SniperPatriotic

Ex Machina poster v03

Ex MachinaIntriguing

Gambler poster v01

The GamblerConfrontational

Kingsman: The Secret ServiceAstute

A Most Violent Year poster v02

A Most Violent YearEngrossing

Paddington poster v01

PaddingtonCharming

And now, here’s a trailer and poster for Sean Penn‘s latest The Gunman.

Gunman poster v01

Ho-hum! Now, don’t get me wrong. This thing’s got a great cast, but a wholly uninspiring poster (they just LOVE Photoshop!) and…

  • Proudly announcing “FROM THE DIRECTOR OF TAKEN” mid-way through the trailer is not a good thing!
  • The trailer has got almost the same running time as the film! I feel like I’ve already seen it and don’t need to go to the flix to see what happens!

So, my interest was piqued but quickly quashed. Of course, I’ll still go and see it, but not because of these promotional pieces.

As for something that did pique my interest and continues to do so, here’s Jennifer Aniston‘s latest Cake. No, it’s not a hot-looking middle-aged woman in a “light” comedy getting down to her undies at every possible opportunity. Although, in fairness, it is kind-of a comedy…well comedy/ drama thing…just watch.

Cake poster v01

This too has a great cast and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. It’s got a James L. Brooks vibe to it and I like that Ms. Aniston is “playing against type“. A somewhat brave move and one which I hope works out. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing it.

And that’s all for today, dear readers. It’s nice to get a piece out there that’s a bit different.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings – Vapid

Exodus banner

Here we have everything that is wrong with the Hollywood machine. A once revered director, some Oscar winners and “current” actors and a script that – judging from the credits – has done more rounds than Mike Tyson. It’s a studio executive’s dream package; “Oh how the money comes rolling in!” And in fairness, a quick glance at Box Office Mojo reveals Exodus: Gods and Kings has currently (Jan 6th 2015) taken $202.8m globally. Nothing to be sniffed at, but with an estimated $140m production budget, that box office gross isn’t really going to cover all the costs associated with a tent-pole release like this. So, where to start? Well, here’s what’s right with Exodus (I’m not writing the full title every time) – it looks fantastic! And why shouldn’t it? It’s a Ridley Scott film and he clearly likes working with Dariusz Wolski who’s been his Director of Photography on his previous 2 films. There’s a heightened contrast and slightly desaturated look that I like but unfortunately that’s where the good stuff ends.

Exodus poster

This utterly straightforward retelling of the story of Moses did not engage me on any level. I find it interesting that with an opportunity like this we are given a by-the-numbers narrative, albeit with an attempt at logical explanations for the more “miraculous” happenings. Contrast this with Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah and it is definitely an opportunity missed; I would suggest this may be attributable to a contrast of styles. Mr. Scott has never been a director open to the interpretive nature of storytelling. I am in no way a religious person, but was utterly compelled by Noah. Ok, it may have been a bit “preachy” in places, but its visual style and narrative structure captivated me for most of its 138 minute running time. But oh dear, here’s 150 minutes of my life I’m never getting back.

As for the cast, well, if you wondered what “dialling in a performance” really looks like, step forward Joel Edgerton; and I’ve no axe to grind here. Prior to Exodus, I’ve enjoyed watching Mr. Edgerton in Zero Dark Thirty and Warrior to name but two. Sigourney Weaver‘s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it contribution begs the question “why bother casting her?” while Aaron Paul has a little more screen time but no lines to get his teeth into. The same goes for Ben Kingsley. One can’t help but wonder how much of their parts ended on the cutting room floor. Exodus is Christian Bale‘s party and he does his best with an utterly uninspiring script, but even his performance starts to go off the rails around 100 minutes in as his “accent” swings hither-and-thither. It’s a wholly disappointing affair and another failure for Mr. Scott. He’s really been struggling for a bona-fide hit since Gladiator revived the “swords-and-sandels” epics from yesteryear. Exodus won’t be that hit, even with its own swords-and-sandels.

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Things to see, things to consider…

So, the festive period is over and I’m back on it. Too much turkey, too much turkey dripping on toast (Google it), too much chocolate…still, it was FUN! I never get a chance to enjoy the flix at this time of year – but I’m not complaining – so there’s a bit of catching up to do. What I thought I’d do is give you a little rundown of what I’d like to see and at the same time share some posters with you. Here goes…

Exodus: Gods and Kings – middling reviews and a totally uninspiring ad campaign can’t quash my desire to see Mr. Scott’s latest offering. Here’s some posters to back up my views on big budget posters.

Taken 3 or Tak3nΒ – depending on what poster/ banner you see. Begs the question “Why?” but I’m sure Mr. Neeson knows what he’s doing; or it’s just the wads of cash he was offered that persuaded him. Mind you, Forest Whitaker is in it as well, so perhaps they blew the budget on their fees or… Anyway, it’s actually this poster that I saw on twitter which got me to thinking about this post, so there you go. It’s not groundbreaking but I like the way it’s formatted.

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That’s the “dull” ones out of the way. Now onto the more interesting stuff. Why is it most small budget, sometimes independent features have the most interesting posters? No, I don’t know either. In fact, now I think about it, perhaps it’s the “under the radar” aspect of these kinds of films that warrant the additional effort afforded to the poster campaign. Lay your mince pies (see what I did there?) on these.

Birdman – I’ve been looking forward to this for ages. And the posters are great too. Here’s just one I found on the web. Once I’ve seen it I’ll give you a few more to enjoy. Enjoy.

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Enemy – I’m hoping that Mr. Gyllenhaal is on a roll after the wonderful Nighcrawler. It’s certainly got an interesting premise; I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough whether this one confirms Mr. Gyllenhaal’s ascension to the “A List”.

Foxcatcher – my excitement levels for this one are up there alongside Birdman’s. Here’s hoping. At the very least this poster is wonderful and probably my favourite in this post.

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Phew. It’s a tough ask to see all these in the next couple of weeks, but watching at least 3 from 5 would make me happy. I’ll keep you posted.

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