Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Admirable

There’s a lot of hate out there for Zack Synder and I’m a bit mystified to be honest. Apart from the misstep that was Sucker Punch, I think his body of work to date has been of good quality. Maybe it’s because the first film he helmed was a darling with the horror fashionistas and remaking a “classic” where the zombies can run really fast put their noses out of joint. While some may point to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as a fascinating treatise on modern society – the zombification of the masses so-to-speak – I’ve watched it again recently and would describe it as “of its time”. The difference between the original and the remake? The remake is a lot more fun.

Batman Vs Superman Worlds Finest

Anyway, he started off on the wrong foot as far as the “geek brigade” were concerned and never recovered. An admirable adaptation of Watchmen was equally derided, so the perceived foundations of a director who adapts established material and produces sub-standard fayre was set.

Which brings us to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by way of Man of Steel. I loved Mr Synder’s Man of Steel and love this follow up. Henry Cavill is perfect in the role of Kal-El, while casting Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/ Batman seemed somewhat left-field, but is a triumph. Words such as “boring” or “failure” or even just plain “bad” have been bandied about but BvS:DoJ is none of those things. And let’s not get into the Marvel vs DC argument – that would be like comparing apples with oranges.

Warner/DC are clearly trying to tap into the level of gravitas lent to the superhero world by way of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, in an attempt to distance themselves from the nudge-nudge-wink-wink world of Marvel – and that’s not a dig either. I’m as much of a Marvel fan as I am DC. The accountability issue of such heroes fighting for the greater good but causing so much collateral damage is clearly valid and one which will also be addressed by Captain America: Civil War – but with more superheroes involved. Substitute Toy Stark and his “team” for Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch and her oversight committee and parallels can surely be drawn.

But this isn’t about “my Dad’s better than your Dad“. Like I said, apples and oranges. Where Marvel got to test the waters with The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man – arguably two lesser characters on a roster of more well known and established offerings – Warner/DC are creating a DC cinematic universe with their two heavy hitters, so there’s a lot more at stake with the fan base. For me, it all worked. Any film which has to deal with giving enough time to a lot of important characters will need to jump around a bit to “please the most people” and BvS handles this with dexterity. I liked the use of musical cues as well – the Man of Steel refrain being a personal highlight – and if I were being ultra-critical I’d have liked to see more of Superman, but once again that’s just a personal thing.

Jessie Eisenberg seems to the relish the role of Lex Luthor Jr., playing him with a nice unhinged edge, while Gal Gadot establishes a good starting point for Wonder Woman and sets us up nicely to look forward to a standalone film in the “near” future (23 June 2017 to be precise). Jeremy Irons lends a sardonic tone to his Alfred Pennyworth – a servant to the Wayne family and “father figure” to Bruce Wayne – and is as close to a moral compass as Batman will encounter in a world of polemics. With Lois Lane getting down-and-dirty, Amy Adams’ diminutive stature belies stoical character traits that just as easily support Clark Kent/ Superman as he does the entire world. This ensemble cast of great talent – including Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane – provide genuine portrayals, ingraining the narrative progression with believability and genuine warmth to the characters they inhabit.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice provides us with the foundations on which this new DC Comics Extended Universe will be built. The jumping-off point for cinematic outings for the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman (27th June 2018) and The Flash (16th March 2018), together with a full-blown Justice League film (17th November 2017), we are well on the way to enjoying a superhero universe to (hopefully) rival Marvel’s high quality and well established output. In addition, the prospect of a Ben Affleck directed Batman film, with him in the title role is a mouth-watering one. Don’t be put of by the mainly negative press. This film delivers on a number of levels and is another quality production from Zack Synder, with Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill working admirably at the centre of it all.

Thank you for reading 🙂

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Deadpool – Percipient

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When that test footage was leaked online back in August 2014 (and sorry, it’s no longer available online incase you were wondering), the whole comic book fraternity woke up and took notice. Now, while I have a penchant for sequential art,  I wasn’t particularly familiar with Deadpool. That being said, a comic book adaptation of a sassy, foul-mouthed “superhero” (he doesn’t like you using that word!) who doesn’t mind the odd bit of gratuitous violence?!? I’m in!

And 18 months later the studio – 20th Century Fox in this case – took notice of the remarkably positive feedback, delved deep into their ever-so deep pockets and ponied up $58m to get this thing off the ground and onto our screens. A bold move for a not particularly well-known comic book character, who’s fictional world would certainly steer the good ship Deadpool into R-rated waters. For those of you of a British persuasion, an R rating in the States means anyone under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult to see the film. A money-taking nightmare for a “super hero” movie, right?

Wrong! Deadpool has flown in the face of failure and taken $316.7m worldwide (figures from boxofficemojo.com) in a little over a week of release – and only 5 days in the States, it’s largest domestic market. It’s had the largest opening weekend ever for an R-rated film and could well become one of the top grossing R-rated movies of all-time. It’s a triumph!

Why is it a triumph? Well, when you have people invested in a character, the world he/she inhabits and the drive to service the fans of said character with a story true to its origins, much can be achieved. Deadpool works. Of course, ironically, Ryan Reynolds turned up as Wade Wilson/ Deadpool in the totally forgettable X-Men Origins: Wolverine back in 2009. A completely water-down version of the actual character and a memory Mr Reynolds (probably) wished to erase. His affinity with the character was the driving force behind this production and together with first-time director Tim Miller, has conjured up a truly unforgettable and highly entertaining film.

Much fun is to be had with the self-awareness of the character and the (sometimes) ridiculousness of the situations he finds himself in. His self-deprecating nature draws us to him. He is the absolute antithesis of a comic book “hero” – the anti-Captain America. He is who he is despite his “abilities”, not because of them. The very nature of his circumstance allows him to push beyond the normal to achieve his goals, often to hilarious effect. He is (mostly) uncaring, but not devoid of thinking of others. That he is something we have not seen before on the silver screen – a wholly “original” character when compared to the Marvel mainstream – works to his advantage. This breath of fresh air has drawn the audiences in, swelling the coffers of Fox and letting the studios know that it’s OK to make an R-rated comic book adaptation – as long as it’s true to itself and not R-rated for the sake of it. Deadpool 2 has already been announced. If you have the wherewithal to sit through the credits – and for a Marvel film you probably always should – they tell you so. That post-credits scene is worth the wait!

I could say much about Deadpool. About how its breaking of the 4th wall defies convention, its referencing to production costs and casting choices breaking all sorts of boundaries, but I’ll go no further. You should find out those things for yourself. Deadpool is a highly enjoyable, gratuitously (but also very entertainingly) violent piece of cinema. It’s 108 minutes of jollification. Go see it and enjoy!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Superheroes Sir. Thousands of them!

Well it’s only fair to look at what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has for us after trumpeting a couple of DC offerings. It’s fair to say 2014’s Captain America: Winter Soldier was arguably the best Marvel offering to date – although Guardians of the Galaxy was the most F.U.N! Brought to us by the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe, Winter Soldier had an intelligent, politcal edge to it reminiscent of the reactionary films of the 1970’s such as The Manchurian Candidate or The Parallax View or Three Days of the Condor. The latter of course being particularly pertinant as it too starred Robert Redford.

Marvel were clearly happy with the second outing for Cap, as they handed the reigns of his third standalone movie – Captain America: Civil War – to the Russo brothers as well as getting them on board to direct the third film in the Avengers narrative arc – Avengers: Infinity War Part I & Part II. Here’s a nifty trailer to tide you over until its 29th April release here in the UK.

Thank you for reading 🙂

A Tale of Two Trailers

You may have noticed last week that the latest trailer for Marvel’s next installment in their Avengers franchise whirled onto the Wonderful Wishy Washy with enough fanfare to fill a very large something-or-other. Much pant wetting and frame-by-frame micro-analysis ensued in varying attempts to eek out additional information about the upcoming superhero-fest. I’m not one for this kind of thing, but I do like a good trailer and can be prone to watch it more than once just for the sheer enjoyment of it. It’s a good trailer and I’ll certainly be towards the front of the queue when Avengers: Age of Ultron is released. Here it is in all its glory.

The reason for this particular post is that another trailer/ teaser was released on the same day and was pretty much lost in the melee surrounding the Marvel stuff. Here it is.

Suffice to say, there wasn’t really any clamouring for additional info when this one was released – but there should be! I was well aware of Sir Ian McKellen‘s latest cinematic outing – I’d been looking forward to seeing his interpretation of arguably the world’s favourite sleuth and was just as excited to see it as I was the Age of Ultron trailer. These two pieces of promotional work could not be further apart when considering content or tone but I think it’s fair to say that both are entirely enigmatic in nature when considering the actual story each film will be telling. April 24th 2015 (Avengers: Age of Ultron) and June 19th 2015 (Mr. Holmes) can’t come soon enough here in the UK as far as these two are concerned.

Thank you for reading 🙂

A Comic-Con Poster A Day #5

So, the final day of Comic-Con 2013 is upon us and it seems that the studios have pulled out all the stops to sate the appetite of the gathered throng of fans. Let’s start with a nice triumvirate of posters revealed before proceedings got under way last week.

Let’s be honest, “From the producers of Underworld” is not going to set the heart racing when it comes to selling an upcoming feature. But I do like the look of the posters for I, Frankenstein, due to be released in January 2014. Moreover, it stars none other than Aaron Eckhart as the titular monster…which is nice. I’m not holding out much hope really, but my interest is piqued by the presence of such a fine actor. That’s by no means a guarantee of good things though – Jeremy Renner’s inclusion in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is proof of that!

And here’s a concept art poster created by Charlie Wen for Marvel’s August 2014 release Guardians of the Galaxy. Shooting started in the UK this week and no expense was spared in jetting the principles into San Diego for a flying visit to whip the fanboys into total geek-gasm frenzy! A wonderful left-field announcement (made at Comic-Con 2012), Guardians of the Galaxy is being helmed by James Gunn, once again proving that Marvel are quite happy to hand the reins of a tent-pole release over to a director that would not be on most people’s radar! If you haven’t already, I urge you to watch his two previous forays into the world of movie-making, Slither and Super – and don’t be put off by imdb ratings of 6.5 and 6.8 respectively, they’re both far better than those scores suggest.

Guardians of the Galaxy Comic Con Poster

A Comic-Con Poster A Day #3

Here’s a gorgeous illustration by Charlie Wen for Marvel’s next Phase Two release, Thor: The Dark World. I really enjoyed the first film and had hoped Kenneth Branagh would return to lens its follow-up. Alas, twas not to be, but from the first trailer for the sequel it certainly looks like more of the same: and that’s not a bad thing when you’re dealing with the Marvel Universe!

Enough of the trailer already! Here’s the money shot!

Thor The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World Comic-Con Poster