A Quick Look at the Revealed DC Cinematic Universe: Part 1 of 4

‘The Guardians of the Galaxy can suck it.”

Last week, likely in response to Marvel’s announcement of the plot details to Captain America 3, Warner Bros. decided to go one further by announcing all of the movies planned for the DC Cinematic universe up to the year 2020, along with some casting details and a couple director announcements. So, was this really a hasty, impulsive announcement that doesn’t really bode well for DC’s ongoing rivalry with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, or is this a genius publicity  move by WB that will get people to forget all about the MCU?

Definitely the former. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested though. So, after getting through the last of my TV reviews until this week’s Legend of Korra episode, I decided to take a quick look at the movie announcements, with each movie accompanied by a short blurb. Let’s do this!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I dunno if this is official art or not, but I really like it.

Release date: March 25, 2016

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder

Screenplay by: Chris Terrio (Argo)

Story by: David S. Goyer

Cast: Henry Cavill (Superman/Clark Kent), Ben Affleck (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman/Diana Prince) Amy Adams (Lois Lane) Laurence Fishburne (Perry White) Diane Lane (Martha Kent) Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor) Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth) Holly Hunter (U.S. Senator) Tao Okamoto (Mercy Graves)

Cameos: Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman) Ray Fisher (Cyborg/Victor Stone)

This is the movie that we currently have the most information on, as it’s currently the only movie that’s in production. Really, there isn’t much more to say about it. I still liked Man of Steel more than most and think that the returning cast from that movie could do a great job, I still have faith that Ben Affleck can pull Batman off (Even more so now that the photos of him in the batsuit have been released), and Jesse Eisenberg is still kinda iffy for me. I guess this is where you pull the Heath Ledger card on me, because “You don’t now if he’s gonna be great until you see him.” That’s true enough, I suppose. I guess we’ll just wait and see.

Also, high fucking time that Wonder Woman appears on the big screen. We had a damn Steel movie with Shaquille O’Neal and no Wonder Woman? Bullshit.

Suicide Squad 

I’m not sure what the fact that I find a psychopath murderess attractive? Well, I find Harley Quinn really hot. There, I said it.

Release date: August 5, 2016

Directed by: David Ayer

Screenplay by: Justin Marks

This…. This announcement really threw me off.

I just don’t get it. There was no solo Batman or Superman movie announced, and yet, a Suicide Squad movie?

The only possible reason that I can imagine why this was green-lit is that Warner Bros. saw Marvel and Disney make all the money because of Guardians of the Galaxy and thought “Hey, we can make a movie starring charming criminals who become reluctant heroes!!! Let’s do that!”

“But edgy!!!”

Regardless, I’m still pretty pumped about the movie, although I’m kinda pissed off that it doesn’t look like Harley Quinn’s gonna be in it as, morbid sexual attraction aside, I think she’s a great character. But hey, Deadshot’s gonna be there, and even if he’s got a bunch of nobodies behind him, they’re in negotiations to bring in an A-list cast of Will Smith, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy and Margot Robbie (Who, just saying, would be a great Harley Quinn). Also, David Ayer is a pretty highly regarded director, having helmed movies like Fury and End of Watch. I dunno, it’s bizarre, but it could pay off.

 To be continued…

My Oscar Picks

Well, it’s not like I can do so much freaking Oscar reviews without doing a quick prediction. These predictions will have the same format as my Razzie predictions, with my top three picks for every category, except the ones which I haven’t checked out because they didn’t have any Best Picture Nominees (Categories with an “*” are categories in which I’ve seen less than three of the nominated movies). Also, if any movie that I did not watch wins their respective category, that movie will be added to my seemingly never-ending queue of reviews.

Honestly? I just look at the trophy and see a golden novelty dildo.

Best Visual Effects:

  1. Gravity
  2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  3. Star Trek Into Darkness

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. While Benedict Cumber-Dragon was amazing and J.J. Abrams lens-flared Star Trek into beautiful oblivion (I’m hoping that nonsense I just pulled out of my ass makes sense to somebody), Gravity had some of, if not the most  the most, beautiful visuals I’ve ever seen in my seventeen years of watching movies.

Best Film Editing:

  1. Gravity
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. American Hustle

I’m still not entirely sure how one critiques editing, so admittedly, this category is kind of a crapshoot for me.

Best Costume Design* 

  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. American Hustle

American Hustle could beat out 12 Years, because it did have a pretty fantastic costume design team, or whatever (And Amy Adams’ necklines sure help), but I think that the latter’s  costumes were just a little bit better.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling*

  1. Dallas Buyers Club

I’m shocked that American Hustle wasn’t nominated for this category, but honestly Dallas Buyers Club should win this award, based solely on the work they did with Jared Leto.

Best Cinematography*

  1. Gravity
  2. Nebraska

I’m kinda surprised that Nebraska was nominated for this category, because I really didn’t like the choice of black-and-white colouring, but whatevs. Gravity should and will win, anyways.

Best Production Design

  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. Gravity
  3. American Hustle

Assuming that “Production Design” means “film sets and such”, I’d give it to 12 Years, mainly for the stunning contrast between the natural beauty of Louisiana and the brutality of the subject matter.

Best Sound Mixing/Editing

  1. Gravity
  2. Captain Phillips
  3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 

Yes, I know I mixed the categories of Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing, but a) It’s pretty much the same movies, and b) I don’t know what the fuck the difference between sound editing and sound mixing is supposed to be.

That said, Gravity‘s soundtrack was downright gorgeous.

Best Original Song (I Haven’t seen most of these movies, but the songs are on YouTube, so all’s good.)

  1. “Let it Go” from Frozen
  2. “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  3. “The Moon Song” from Her 

Let’s face it, Disney songs are pretty much the bomb. Keep in mind that this is coming from somebody who thinks that any song off London Calling is the pinnacle of Western Civilization.

Best Original Score

  1. Gravity
  2. Her
  3. Philomena

Like I said, Gravity‘s score is fantastic. I liked Hers’ soundtrack too, but Philomena‘s just seemed nondescript to me.

Best Animated Short Film, Best Live Action Short Film, Best Documentary-Short Subject, Best Documentary-Feature, Best Documentary Film, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Animated Feature Film

I  haven’t seem any of the movies nominated for these, because a) Honestly, these are the least interesting categories to me and b) While I actually love animated movies, there’s no way I’m going to a theater filled with screaming eight-year olds to watch Frozen.

Best Writing-Adapted Screenplay

  1. 12 Years A Slave
  2. The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Captain Phillips 

I didn’t find any of these scripts to be legendary, per se, but they were still pretty damn great. It could really go any way.

Best Writing-Original Screenplay

  1. American Hustle
  2. Dallas Buyers Club
  3. Her

I wonder if I could somehow develop David O. Russell’s amazing dialogue-writing ability without also developing his crippling douchiness…

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
  2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  3. June Squibb, Nebraska

Holy shit, I son’t think you could have picked three cuter nominees for this category.

Pictured: The Axis of Adorable.

Jennifer Lawrence is my favourite actress, and June Squibb was awesome too, but there’s just no way they match up to Mexican-born Kenyan Actress Lupita Nyongo’s film debut.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
  2. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  3. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Fassbender played Edwin “Evil Incarnate” Epps to perfection, and Somali actor Barkhad Abdi was awesoome in his debut, but they just had bad luck this time, going up against Jared Leto as the tragic Rayon.

Best Actress

  1. Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  2. Amy Adams, American Hustle
  3. Judi Dench, Philomena

I think that Cate Blanchett is gonna win, considering the love she got at the Golden Globes, but I loved Sandra Bullock.

Best Actor

  1. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
  2. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Man, does Leo ever have bad luck getting easy opponents on Oscar ballots, huh?

I had to pretty much flip a coin to decide who I thought was better between McConaughey and Ejiofor. All I can say is that I hope I don’t have to type either of their names again until next Oscar season, at least.

Best Director

  1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
  2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  3. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

I’m not that big of a director guy, but you don’t have to be one to know that Cuaron did a fantastic job with Gravity.

Best Picture

  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. Dallas Buyers Club
  3. Gravity

Just read my review of 12 Years a Slaveit’ll tell you all you need to know.

Oscar Movie Review: American Hustle

There’s one in every Oscar class.

Every year, in every group of Best Picture nominees, there is at least one movie that is divisive, that may be critically or popularly unloved, yet, it gets the nomination for the Big Prize. Sometimes, this scrutiny may be deserved (In the case of The Tree of Life, for instance). In others, it may not be (Winter’s Bone comes to mind). This year, the most divisive movie on the ballot is a David O. Russell-directed movie that is up for ten Academy Awards, and has broken the record for the lowest necklines in film history.

This is actually the smallest amount of cleavage that Amy Adams displays in this movie. I’m dead serious.

American Hustle

Directed by: David O. Russell

Produced by: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison

Written by: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell

Genre: Crime Drama, Dark Comedy

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence (Be still, my beating heart!!!)

Other actors: Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Pena, Robert De Niro

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture,Best Director, Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Writing-Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing

Plot: In 1978, highly successful con artist Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his mistress, the equally intelligent Sydney Prosser (Adams), are at the top of their game, making oodles of money off the desperate, and, in Rosenfeld’s words, doing whatever it takes to survive. Unfortunately for them, they are caught in the act by ambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper).  Richie takes a liking to Sydney (Or rather, Sydney’s English alter-ego, “Edith Greensley”) and recruits Irving and “Edith” to help him fight white-collar crime, specifically, by helping him arrest four people.

I only had two problems with the plot. My first problem is with the ending (Which I’ll discuss at the end of this “Plot” section, in order to avoid spoiling it for people). My second problem was how muddled the plot was at the beginning. The dialogue was  being presented so quickly that I didn’t catch everything that was being said, and was pretty much just watching it for the performances. However, I did catch on eventually, and it really is quite an engrossing plot.

*SPOILER BEGINS HERE*

Now, while most of this movie was damn near perfect, there was one thing that didn’t sit well with me for one little bit. That would be the ending. I didn’t like how mayor Polito being incarcerated, the Mob being let off scot-free and Richie having his career ruined were presented alongside an (Admittedly, quite funny) scene between Irving, Sydney and Richie’s wife, Rosalyn as part of a “happy ending”.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I realize that the movie made it pretty clear that not everybody was getting out with their lives intact. But this “unhappy ending” seemed all out of whack. I felt kind of unsure what to feel when the movie cut from Richie sobbing in despair when he realizes he’s been conned, to mayor Polito being led away from his family by the police and then, suddenly, to everybody laughing about Jennifer Lawrence being in a neck brace. In my opinion (And remember, I wouldn’t know how to execute this, I’m just an armchair critic at this point), they should have had a much more melancholic ending scene with Irving, Sydney and Rosalyn. You don’t ruin the lives of two sympathetic characters, and then pretend that it’s the end of a buddy comedy.

*SPOILER ENDS HERE*

Acting: The acting in this movie is downright incredible. I’ll get into it a little more later, but these actors were PERFECTLY cast for their roles. Christian Bale is excellent, as are Cooper and Jeremy Renner (As the idealistic, yet somewhat naive, mayor of Camden, New Jersey). I wasn’t a fan of Amy Adams in Man of Steelbut she is fantastic and damn sexy in this film. Even the smaller parts in this movie (Louis C.K., Robert De Niro, etc.) are played exceptionally well.

However, the best performance, in my humble opinion, comes from the lovely Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Bale’s highly intelligent, yet mentally unstable wife. She strikes the perfect balance between being clearly not O.K., but also hilarious, and even sympathetic. J-Law has displayed, once again, why she is my favourite actress.

What Oscar nominations does it deserve?: 

  • Best Film Editing: Sure, I guess. The movie flowed very well from one scene to the other, though, as I mentioned before, it seemed kind of muddled at the beginning.
  • Best Costume Design: Yeah, for sure. The costumes had me reminiscing about the seventies right away… which is an impressive feat, considering I was born in ’96. Also, cleavage.
  • Best Production design: See “Best Costume Design”.
  • Best Writing-Original Screenplay: Absolutely. This screenplay was both intelligent and hilarious.
  • Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence): YES.
  • Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper): Cooper did a fine job as Richie DiMaso, but honestly, I think I preferred Jeremy Renner as mayor Polito.
  • Best Actress (Amy Adams): Absolutely.
  • Best Actor (Christian Bale): Yeah, sure. This is is the first Christian Bale movie in a long time in which I hadn’t been imagining him in a Batman costume and a fucked-up voice box.
  • Best Director (David O. Russell): He may be a bit of a douche, but yes, Russell deserves the nomination.
  • Best Picture: I highly doubt that it will (Or should) win the award, but it deserves every bit of that nomination.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Man of Steel

When I review movies, I can’t help but be a little swayed by movie critics. Sure, everything I write, I mean or agree with, but in an era where sites like like Rotten Tomatoes can give you a quick, effective overview of whether somebody liked the movie, or whether they hated it, and if their opinion of the film was an aberration or the status quo, gone are the days when you had to watch the movie for yourself to decide, more or less independently, what are quality films.

Also, which 9% of critics and 30% of audiences should probably be separated from the general population.

But occasionally, there comes a movie where I simply cannot agree with the critical consensus. Van Wilder is one such movie (18% from critics). Another is Superhero Movie because goddammit, if it has Leslie Nielsen, it’s good enough for me.

This is about the closest Canada had to Mr. Rogers. We miss ya, Leslie.

The movie I’m reviewing today (If only because I’m feeling burnt out from my stupid baseball articles) is one that has polarized both critics and fans, unusual for superhero movies, which are usually unanimously seen as good or bad, depending on how many shitty emo dance sequences occur.

Hee hee! Look at how his cheeks wobble!

Starring the only superhero that just won’t stay dead even if some may prefer it that way…

File:Deathofsuperman.jpg

Those have got to be the weakest wounds that anyone has died from.

…Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for…

Superman, bearing his traditional red and blue costume, is shown flying towards the viewer, with the city Metropolis below. The film's title, production credits, rating and release date is written underneath.

Directed By: Zack Snyder

Genre: Superhero

Based On: Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Cristopher Meloni, Russell Crowe

Legacy: People starting to realize that producer Cristopher Nolan is probably a pretty joyless guy.

“Bitch, please.”

Quick Plot Summary:

The scene: Planet Krypton, an advanced civilization comprised of genetically engineered humanoids whose jobs are all predestined from the moment they are conceived in vitro, and flying bird things that were totally not stolen from Avatar. The time: The Kryptonian apocalypse, a result of Krypton being bled dry of its natural resources, which resulted in an unstable core. The planet’s military commander, General Zod (Michael Shannon, looking every bit the part) deposes the ruling council via vaporization, while scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe. Not singing, thank God)  and his wife Lara (Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer) launch their newborn son Kal-El, the last natural-born son on Krypton, on a spacecraft to planet Earth, after infusing him with a genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race. What was the point of this? Fuck if I know. Zod murders Jor-El, but his coup is defeated and he is imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. However, Krypton blows up shortly afterwards, which makes going to all the trouble  of throwing somebody in jail, where he will be safe, while your own planet explodes seem pretty damn stupid, huh?

“Honestly? We were just in it for the brutality.”

Kal-El’s ship lands in what I’m going to assume is Smallville, Kansas, where he is brought up by Martha (Diane Lane) and Johnathan Kent (Kevin Costner), who christen him Clark Kent. Because Earth’s atmosphere is different from Krypton’s, or something, Clark develops superhuman abilities, including unreal strength, speed, flight, durability, heat vision and (most terrifyingly) X-Ray vision.

And the ability to make straight men’s sexuality do a complete 180.

After Johnathan reveals his extraterrestrial origins to him, he advises him not to use his powers publicly, fearing that society will reject him. This, despite humanities excellent track record with godlike beings who could crush them with a flick of the wrist.

Andre the Giant: Sent from the distant, doomed land known only as “France” to save us from ourselves.

Fast-Forward several years later, and Clark has matured into a bearded nomad (Henry Cavill) who roams the States…

Wow, you can hardly tell that both this movie and Batman Begins were written by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, huh?

…Taking odd jobs under false names until he infiltrates a U.S. military investigation of a Kryptonian spaceship in the Arctic. Inside the ship, he discovers the preserved consciousness of Jor-El in hologram form. Holo-El reveals Kal-El’s true lineage to him and explains that he was sent to Earth in order to bring hope to mankind. After the revelation, Clark saves Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) from harm when she tries to sneak in and is attacked by the ship’s security system. Upon returning to Metropolis, her story of a superhuman saviour is rejected by her editor, Perry white (Laurence Fishburne). So she then traces Clark back to Smallville, intending to write an expose on the guy that was hanging around an alien spacecraft guarded by the U.S. military. Not once did she think that this might not be the best idea.

Though if she is going to release state secrets to the public, I’m sure Julian Assange could use some company.

Meanwhile, Zod and his soldiers, who survived the destruction of Krypton have made their way to Earth and hijack the world’s communication services to demand that Kal-El surrender themselves to him, in order to use him in his sinister plan that I won’t reveal because I have the sinking feeling that this plot summary has gone too long.

Overview:

Wow, where to begin?

To begin with a negative aspect of the film, I would have to go with what feels to me like an overall lack of originality. I know that it’s a waste of breath to complain about originality in movies today, but in this film, it’s clearly obvious that Christopher Nolan “borrowed” story elements from Batman Begins. Specifically, the part where Clark goes on his journey to “find himself” or whatever, which, you will recall, is exactly what Bruce Wayne did in Batman Begins. Nolan may have also borrowed a little bit too much of the tone from his  Dark Knight series. At times, Man of Steel seems incredibly bleak. Now, I’m not one to complain about this, because I like my heroes a little bit on the conflicted side, and hey, I’m growing up in the twenty-first century. Nothing can faze me.

If I survived the Great Twinkie Drought, then I can survive anything.

One of my “Likes” is the cast. Henry Cavill, despite being a relative unknown outside of his TV show, The Tudors, did a great job, in my opinion, of interpreting Superman as he saw fit, much like Christian Bale did as Batman. Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Antje Traue (Zod’s psychopathic right-hand woman) are all excellent while Russell Crowe  and Michael Shannon are complete bad-asses. I liked Amy Adams as Lois Lane as well, I just didn’t feel like she was likable enough.

“It’s not an “S”. It’s a symbol of hope for my people.”

“Well down here, it’s an “S”.”

“Well, fuck, I stand corrected then, you pompous bitch.”

Another gripe I have about the movie is the pacing. Throughout the movie, we are treated to flashbacks of Clark’s past life. I wouldn’t have any problem with this if it wasn’t annoying and completely unnecessary. It just seems out of place, and way to frequent to ignore.

Also, while the wanton destruction was awesome and really fun to watch, even if it got hard to follow (SPOILER ALERT!) right after Zod’s tentacle machine is destroyed (SPOILER END) It can seem overblown and it may also seem that Superman ends more lives then he saves when he and Zod smash through Metropolis. This is a valid point until you realize that a)  He’s still learning how to use his powers effectively in this movie, and b) HOLY CRAP people, do you not realize that this is more or less exactly what would happen if you got two people who are literally Gods on Earth fighting each other?

Somebody. ANYBODY. Please. Make. This. Happen.

Overall:

Despite its excess, poor pacing and clearly borrowed story elements, Man of Steel succeeds thanks to its its cast, soundtrack and action make it an extremely enjoyable viewing experience.

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