For Part 1, click here.
Almost three years ago, the world was blessed/cursed (decide for yourself) with Zack Snyder’s reboot of the Superman franchise: Man of Steel. Man of Steel proved to be… Uh… Let’s succumb to massive understatement and say it was divisive. Some people (myself included) really liked it. Others think it was the worst thing to happen to the character since The Quest for Peace, a movie so atrocious it single-handedly crippled Christopher Reeve’s career.
Despite the mixed reaction, Man of Steel made enough money to get a sequel greenlit, which was originally announced as being another Superman movie, but was eventually revealed during Comic-Con as being both a Batman and Superman movie. This was huge news. Even people who have never entered a comic book store can tell you the basic plot points of Superman and Batman’s origin stories. Shit, even people in North Korea can tell you that the two characters were both created by Kim il-Sung as satires of Western imperialism so subtle that our backwards capitalist lizard-brains have yet to notice them as being anything other than cool characters who dress funny. This movie was going to make BANK, regardless of whether it was actually good or not. And now, in 2016, here we are, almost one month after the movie’s release. And boy, was it ever…. Well, it was something.
Now, I’ve seen Batman v Superman: World’s Finest (See Warner Bros.? That’s a GOOD title. And not much sillier than Dawn of Justice, either!) multiple times, and I’ve given myself some time to process my feelings on the film. I know that everybody who didn’t love the movie is kinda sick about hearing about it at this point, but oh well.
SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT
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
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.
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!”
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…
I was gonna do a quick bit on why I’m an awful, awful person (Maybe some other time), but something much more important caught my attention.
So, unfortunately for my
dead in the water burgeoning writing career, I will be wrestling with this for an indeterminate amount of time. For now, having seen Daredevil, but having also seen Argo and Good Will Hunting, I am choosing to reserve judgement and urge everybody to please remain calm. Remember how everybody was pissed when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker? Well, that turned out okay, right?
Of course, Brokeback Mountain was actually a good movie, while Gigli was not… But then again, Gigli was released ten whole years ago. I, personally, choose to judge Affleck by his most recent work. Unfortunately, even the great movie that was Argo is lost on the idiot who still calls him “Ben Asslick” ten years after that was relevant in any way.
Am I saying that I would have cast Benny as the Bat? No. I probably would have gone with a relative unknown, or a TV actor like, I dunno, Jon Hamm? Would Jon Hamm have been good as Batman?
I choose to remain “optimistically cynical” (Shit, does that make sense?) about our new Batman, but come on Internet. Calm the hell down. Give the poor man (Or filthy rich man. Whatever) the benefit of the doubt. And for chrissakes, can we stop using Gigli as the be-all and end-all when talking about Ben Affleck? In fact, you’re on the internet right now, so go watch Argo and then come back and tell me he sucked in it. Go on, I’ll wait!
So how was that? That’s right asshole, you LIKED Ben Affleck in that movie! Now shut the fuck up about Jennifer Lopez already!
(They probably should have cast Jon Hamm.)
(Or Karl Urban…FUCK! It should have been Karl Urban!)
- Everybody Needs to Calm Down: Why Fan Outrage over Ben Affleck Playing Batman Is Premature (collider.com)
- How Ben Affleck Was Cast as Batman (slashfilm.com)
(This is a continuation of this post.)
In my ongoing search for the most overall successful superhero franchise, I have already laid out the franchises vying for the title. Now, I will rank them from worst to first in five categories. I promise not to do a Part 3, not only because I already do it way too much, but also because that is lazy as hell. Oh, and by the way, SPOILER ALERT!!!!!
(This is defined by the average critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes for a film from the franchise)
(Also, I did not include The Amazing Spider-Man, Man of Steel or Kick-Ass, since I decided that having franchises with only one released movie skewed the rankings.)
- The Dark Knight-89%
- Marvel Cinematic Universe -80%
- Fantastic Four-32%
- Ghost Rider-22%
So, what have we learned?
Mainly that a) Critics love Christopher Nolan as long as Zack Snyder stays the hell away. B) It’s easy to have one or two bad movies drag your score down (X-Men, Superman and Batman) and c) Nicolas Cage is pretty much persona non grata as a leading man in any movie he so much as glances at.
(Ditto, but with the Rotten Tomatoes Audience ratings.)
- The Dark Knight-91%
- Marvel Cinematic Universe-79%
- Fantastic Four-53%
- Ghost Rider-43%
So, what have we learned?
A) There is nothing redeemably good about Ghost Rider or Fantastic Four and B) My system is broken if Blade can finish above Soider-Man, but eh, fuck it. We learn from our mistakes, right?
PROFITS PER MOVIE
(You don’t really need an explanation for this, do you? (I didn’t include profits for The Wolverine, because it’s too soon to say for sure).
- The Dark Knight-$624, 939, 468
- Marvel Cinematic Universe-$544,283,685
- Fantastic Four-$389, 627, 482$
- Blade-$251, 098, 928
- Batman- $228, 226, 886
- X-Men-$213, 019, 524
- Ghost Rider- $97, 151, 160
- Hellboy- $54, 353,525
What have we learned?
Mainly that box offices are the place where mediocre movies can shine and where good movies can suck.
- The Dark Knight
- Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Fantastic Four
- Ghost Rider
(These were calculated by adding points for each standing in each category. 1st Place=10 Points, 2nd Place= 9 Points and so on.)
- The Dark Knight-39 Points
- Marvel Cinematic Universe-31 Points
- Spider-Man-28 Points
- X-Men-26 Points
- Hellboy-22 Points
- Blade-20 Points
- Superman-15 Points
- Batman-14 Points
- Fantastic Four-14 Points
- Ghost Rider-6 Points
What have we learned?
First of, I’m pretty sure nobody was doubting that the Dark Knight trilogy would come in first.
Also, that I don’t know how to adjust movie profits for inflation, so maybe don’t take the “Profits” section too, too seriously.
Also, it can’t be stressed how much movies like Batman & Robin and Superman 4 dragged their respective franchises down. Without those two movies, what we’d have is a couple of solid move franchises.
Coming Soon on Please Kill the Messenger:
1. The confession of a My Chemical Romance fan.
2. A review of one of Guillermo del Toro’s best movies. (No, it’s not Pacific Rim, but I do need to see that.)
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.
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.
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.
Starring the only superhero that just won’t stay dead even if some may prefer it that way…
…Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for…
Directed By: Zack Snyder
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.
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?
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.
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.
Fast-Forward several years later, and Clark has matured into a bearded nomad (Henry Cavill) who roams the States…
…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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.