“Captain America – The Winter Soldier” – Star-spangled badassery

captain america review logoUp until now I have had serious problems understanding the draw behind a character like Captain America. I understand his origins in the popular culture as a spin-off from the blatant patriotic propaganda, but looking at him simply in comic book superhero terms, I couldn’t understand why he’s such an important figure within the Marvel Universe. He’s not a god, he doesn’t really wield a weapon granting him superhuman powers, he can’t fly, he’s not immortal, he doesn’t own a cool suit of armor… He doesn’t really carry a weapon for the most part, but a shield, which from a logical standpoint is just absurd. All he can do is run, fight and throw his shield around… In the company of folks like Thor, The Hulk, or Iron-Man, he looks – well – puny and unimportant, at least in terms of the actual combat, which challenges the notion of Captain America being perceived as a superhero in the first place. Now, having seen “Captain America – The Winter Soldier” (and having re-watched for the third time “Captain America – The First Avenger”) I think I understand his place within this universe of gods, aliens, superheroes and monsters. Continue reading

Trailer: “The Purge: Anarchy”

Trailerlogo

The general consensus about James DeMonaco’s “The Purge” seems to reflect my own opinion – it was a case of a short-changed potential that reduced a theoretically very interesting high concept to a home invasion horror with very little to say. It seemed to me that the only reason for developing such an elaborate universe was to explain why the people in the house under attack couldn’t run away, seek help, or even call the police. It would normally be sufficient to just put the house in the middle of nowhere and cut the phone lines, but “The Purge” invented a world where for one night a year everything was legal – a world we didn’t get to see at all…

And here’s our chance, as the sequel – casually titled “The Purge: Anarchy” is going to take us into the very heart on that one night where nobody is safe. Thanks to the full theatrical trailer, we can now have a look at what is to come – and I think that last year’s disappointed is going to be compensated, at least in terms of scale. Continue reading

Because ‘reboot’ is the Apocalypse’s middle name…

The word ‘reboot’ has been thrown around a lot lately – there’s no question about it. It’s not rocket science to notice the inherent drive within the studios to de-risk their investments (you have no idea how much I hate this corporate mumbo-jumbo), which has resulted in the last decade being unusually rich in sequels to successful franchises, remakes of the classics, and – the cherry on top of this cake – the establishment of ‘the reboot’ as a device in the film-making business. Continue reading

“300: Rise of an Empire” – The Phantom Menace in sandals

300 Rise of an empire poster logo

Back in 2007, when Zack Snyder dazzled the entire world with his ground-breaking ultra-stylized adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel “300”, I think it was already set in stone there would come a time a sequel of sorts would see the light of day. After all, film-making in Hollywood is a business and any successful original idea has to be milked until dryness before being ultimately discarded… for a while, and then rebooted with hopes that the audiences, like hamsters, would have already forgotten. But then, how does one recreate a lightning in a bottle? Continue reading

Trailer: “Sin City – A dame to kill for”

Trailerlogo

Countless years in development… Never-ending casting rumours… Being continually pushed back, brushed over and swept aside… All of that is irrelevant now, as the long-awaited follow-up to the critically-acclaimed “Sin City” is finally scheduled for cinematic release. This is not something I’d normally say, but I am really excited to see what the directorial duo of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller (who also penned the script) have in store for me. If anything, it would be interesting to see Robert Rodriguez depart from the pure grindhouse film-making for a little while.

At long last, “Sin City – A dame to kill for” is hitting the screens on the 22nd of August 2014 in the US and a week later in the UK. 

Terrible box office performance isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, never left your house in the last two weeks, or you have been disconnected from the World Wide Web, you should know about the highly anticipated “Pacific Rim” hitting the screens this past weekend. Well, Internet, I have to say I am a bit disappointed in you… again, because it looks to me that “Pacific Rim” is going to go down in history as that awesome film that nobody went to see; a bit like “Dredd 3D” last year, but on a bigger budget.

pacific-rim

This morning (and it’s a bank holiday here where I live) when I looked at the Box Office news, I couldn’t really believe my own eyes. Well, I have already heard that the opening night was a tad underwhelming, but coming in third behind “Grown Ups 2” (!!!) and “Despicable Me 2”, which by the way has been put for two weeks already, just did not add up. How that could happen, I ask… Does the general public fear anything that’s not a sequel and/or a remake? Is that it?

I shouldn’t really be surprised given how this summer has been unfolding so far. From the current top ten highest grossing films of this summer, five are direct sequels, one is a reboot (and that’s “Man of Steel”), and there are two high-profile book adaptations (“World War Z” and “The Great Gatsby”; nothing against it, but I just had to put it out there). That leaves us with only two examples of “original thought” that has made a considerable profit. Note the ironic use of quotation marks, because the original films in question involve the horrid “Now you see me” and “The Heat” that I haven’t seen yet (and I doubt I will, at least in the cinema). This leads me to conclude that the rampaging sequelitis that’s been at large for the best part of the last decade or so, has finally done it: now your average Joe will never trust a given title (and let’s confine ourselves only to high-profile blockbusters) unless it’s something he has seen before one way or another. Unless it’s another comic book movie with well-established mythos, a sequel, prequel, or a reboot, there’s no chance Average Joe is going to buy the ticket. After all, the times are tough, money is scarce and it’s far better to spend your money on something that you know is going to be good, right?

pacific-rim_1

Even if you compare “Pacific Rim” to, say, “Transformers” trio (I refuse to call it a trilogy) in terms of content versus box office revenue, I’d say that an Average Joe should be able to draw a parallel between the two and think it might be just like “Transformers”, but with giant monsters… And I have to say that Michael Bay on his best day wouldn’t be able to create a spectacle like “Pacific Rim”, full stop. And I don’t even want to venture into how shite “Transformers” really are; not in the widely acceptable film quality, but in the geek-type quality. I might put together a short rant later on about just that, but suffice to say now that “Pacific Rim” in my eyes is the closest to being the modern standard for any type of movie about giant anything.

But there’s a silver lining to it all, I think… I like to believe that because the average stream of teenagers failed to recognize how awesome “Pacific Rim” was, makes it even more special to us, nerds. You heard me, now I get to feel like a Brooklyn hipster and no outlander shall taint this mountain of epicness with their comparisons to any other sci-fi that might, or might not have had Robert Downey Jr. in it.

3166992-pacific-rim-charlie-hunnam-rinko-kikuchi2

Apart from the nerdy bragging rights, I now feel safe about one thing: due to terrible box office revenue, “Pacific Rim” will most likely never get to breed a sequel. Can you imagine, how cool that is? It’s never going to be bastardized with the ‘bigger and louder’ clone of itself and I sincerely hope “Pacific Rim” will remain the stand-alone bad-ass fountain of awesome that stands proud in every nerd’s apartment. Who knows, maybe it will develop a genuine cult following… Maybe it will spin off a slew of fan fiction and then after a decade or two, someone in Hollywood will recognize the potential that might lie within “Pacific Rim”, and then someone will shoot a sequel or whatever. So, here’s to hoping for “Pacific Rim” to be left alone. After all, it didn’t make any money, so leave it be for me and my kind…

What’s with the obsession with 3’s?

It didn’t take too long – a couple of days perhaps – for the head-ups in Paramount to announce they would be dishing out money for a sequel to this weekend’s “World War Z”. I will try and stay ‘zen’ about all that, because every single time I hear that a good financial performance is enough for some people in Hollywood to plop a number two on a film (not that kind of ‘number two’), a little part of me dies. Seriously, how many decent films ended up ruined, due to being pointlessly over-extended? I think I might sit down and list a couple at some point in time, but for the sake of argument, think about “Die Hard”, or “Planet of the Apes” and how pathetically ridiculous it was to keep them going until the viewers called the producers on their bulls**t.

world-war-z

But that’s not the problem here. What bothers me nowadays, and I know I’m not alone in this, is the fact that potential blockbusters and/or surprisingly well performing underdogs are already planned out into trilogies. I mean – what the hell? What makes you think it’s right to take any story and extend it into two additional films? Especially that a trilogy by definition cannot consist of three random stories, that share protagonists, or the universe all jumbled together under the same banner; it simply doesn’t work that way. A trilogy needs to be carefully framed to have each of the chapters as their own separate entities bound together into a larger design that only the three stories together can unravel. The same rules apply to any framework, be it a set of four, five, seven or twelve parts. Quite simply speaking, for a trilogy to make sense, one cannot be allowed to pick up any randomly chosen part of it without creating gaping holes in his knowledge of the story arcs.

And in Hollywood nobody seems to care, because it is apparently sexy to apply the rule of three to anything that moves. Seriously, is it at all necessary to take “Prometheus” and already plan it out to be a trilogy? And how does any of this work for shameful duds like “The Hangover”? Really? Just because the first one was quite funny, does it mean we need more of the same dressed up as a ‘trilogy’? It just doesn’t make sense… And it’s not about the idea of making a sequel, because it is a totally separate matter. It seems that every time a film does well in the theatres, I might as well start counting down until I see the remaining ‘parts of the trilogy’ be released. Whatever happened to telling stories within the same universe? If you really have to, please make it easier on yourselves and skip the rule of three because half the time it doesn’t look right and the only thing that it would share with an actual trilogy would be the amount of volumes that it constitutes.

I seriously doubt we need to see “World War Z” as a trilogy. I know that the book contains countless arcs and peripheral stories, but confining oneself to three parts cannot be a good solution at all here. You can turn it into a collection of shorts, or a miniseries, or even a TV show if you must, but extending everything into trilogies is downright wrong and repulsive and there is no logical explanation for it.

While I might understand that a new set of “Star Wars” films is being planned as a trilogy, but the precedent states the previous came in threes as well, and were mostly proper trilogies anyway. What I will never understand is stretching something like “The Hobbit” into three films; there’s no need for it, the book is short enough and it looks stupid, thank you very much. Is it only because three films make more money than one?

independence-day-movie-image-580x456

All this brings us to a point wherein we would be anticipating a trilogy virtually out of every little piece of crap that ends up bringing money. Even intellectual duds like “Transformers” ended up a trilogy. Yes, I know Michael Bay is making a fourth instalment, but it is leaving the original three with their characters and arcs alone and starting everything anew. And so, we will have “The Avengers Trilogy”, “The Independence Day Trilogy”, “Man of Steel Trilogy” and many more… And I could bet money that once “Pacific Rim” does well, we will see another two – exactly two, because it is not enough to bastardize decent films by proliferating them pointlessly. To please the average popcorn eater, we need to serve them their franchises in sets of three. Therefore, I cannot wait to see things like “Insidious 3 – the final whatever” (because why not), “Bridesmaids 3 – the fat one gets married”, or “Wall Street 3 – money goes camping”. And yes, sometimes I actually count on the big potential blockbusters to flop, because for once nobody will turn them into trilogies. Could you imagine what “28 months later” could possibly be about?