Trailers: Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

 
My goal for 2016 is to get back in the habit of posting trailers on a regular basis, something which I sort of abandoned in the last half of 2015 (it’s a long story). And what better way to start than with the latest trailers for Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I haven’t been particularly enthusiastic at the prospect of a DC Extended Universe of films, designed to combat the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, following the release of Man of Steel two and a half years ago. I was not a fan of Man of Steel (nor of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy before it, which is not a part of the new Universe but which obviously influenced its tone), and the fact that the second film they’re attempting is such an obvious push to get an Avengers-style film out (Superman! Batman! Wonder Woman! Flash! …Aquaman? Cyborg?) makes the film feel too forcefully commercial in an already overly-commercial genre. But what I do find interesting about the DCEU is that its two upcoming films already feel very different. If there’s one criticism of the MCU I’ll entertain, it’s that the films generally aim for the same sort of tone, and despite a good amount of variety among the films they all feel kind of similar, as if they’re different chapters in the same book rather than individual movies. And while Batman v Superman feels like more of the same following Man of Steel, Suicide Squad’s latest trailer makes it seem like the film was made by an entirely different studio. And what really surprises me is how much these latest trailers have changed my level of enthusiasm for the films, though in completely opposite directions from each other. Take a look at the Suicide Squad trailer below and then read on for my thoughts on it and Batman v Superman.

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My Top 10 (and Bottom 3) at the Movies in 2013

Now that 2014 is well under way it’s a good time to look back at the movies of 2013.  I went to the movies 40 times in 2013, a pretty low number for me, seeing 32 new films (the other 8 were either movies I saw more than once or classics I got the chance to see on the big screen).  Through a variety of reasons, I’ve managed to miss most of the big awards contenders including 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Her, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street, unlike last year when I had seen most of them.  Instead of simply ranking my favorite films from the past year, however, I prefer to highlight my top 10 (and bottom 3) movie-related things from 2013.  Some of these will be particular movies or performances, some will be scenes or aspects of production, and some are bits of news or interpretations.  I hope you enjoy it, and remember to let me know your favorite (or least favorite) film-related things from 2013! Continue reading

The Lone Ranger, Critics and the Box Office

I really hadn’t planned on writing any more about The Lone Ranger, but a series of news articles and quotes that have been floating around this week, along with countless commentary, have me feeling like I should weigh in.  First, Disney has projected that it will lose $160-190 million on The Lone Ranger.  At the same time, or possibly in response to this, several people behind the film have piped up to blame the critics for the box office failure of their film. Continue reading

Review/Analysis: The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger is most likely not what you expect, though it probably has at least one or two moments (or silver bullets) aimed at you.  It’s not a devoted adaptation of the beloved TV show from the 50’s or the radio show from the 30’s.  It’s not a “Disneyfied” (hate that word, it’s so condescending) version of a Western, aimed at kids.  It’s not Pirates of the Caribbean on horseback, though your ability to enjoy The Lone Ranger might be related to your ability to enjoy that saga of movies.  It’s not even a live-action adaptation of Rango.  So what is it?

The Lone Ranger is a rip-roaring, funny, violent, subversive, political, Western action extravaganza.   Continue reading

A Critic’s Manifesto

I’ve been watching the Rotten Tomatoes score for The Lone Ranger slowly climb from a rather horrific 17% today, and it’s gotten me thinking about critics and reviews and the movie review industry as a whole.  In fact, I read a blurb from one review that stated, “Everyone wants this to be horrible,” and it makes me wonder how much film reviews in the industry are shaped both by what people expect from a movie, what they want to happen to the movie, and what they think people expect and want the reviews to say.  So if you’ll excuse the rambling, unorganized and meta nature of this post, here are some of my thoughts. Continue reading

Trailer Tuesday: The Lone Ranger

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be endlessly fascinating.

During my movie marathon a couple weeks ago, I saw a trailer for The Lone Ranger (out tomorrow) before my showing of Man of Steel.  There’s nothing unusual about this, and I fully expected it, but what I didn’t expect was this unusual take on a trailer instead of something more typical.  Take a look, and then read on for my thoughts:

Instead of a standard trailer we instead got a behind-the-scenes look at the film.   Continue reading

Review: Man of Steel

(This was movie #1 of my 4 movie marathon day.)

The superhero movie as we know it was born in 1978 with Superman, starring Christopher Reeve.  The posters claimed “You’ll believe a man can fly” and we were given a movie that seems very dated by today’s standards.  Reeve, clad in spandex, soared on wires in front of a blue screen in many ways seems silly to modern audiences.  Clark Kent was the squeaky-clean all-American, still standing up for “truth, justice and the American way” 40 years after his introduction in the comics.  It was undeniably goofy, but timeless in a way.  It gave us a modern yet dated world, where reporters dressed like they were in the 1930s yet boarded helicopters from the roof of the Daily Planet.

Of course, superhero films have gone through many incarnations since then. Continue reading

Movie Marathon Planning

Movie Marathon Planning Schedule

Last year for my birthday I had a movie marathon.  I saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Brave and The Avengers in the theater in one day.  Yes I paid for a ticket for every film.  I decided to do it partially because it just seemed like a fun idea, but also because I wanted to break my previous record of 3 films in a day in the theater.  I picked the day in advance, knowing which films would be available for viewing and waited for the showtimes to be posted.  It all worked out, I was able to schedule everything in what I anticipated to be an ascending level of quality (I had already seen The Avengers by this point).  Everything went smoothly and I had a great time and some friends even joined me for Brave.

So, naturally, I decided to repeat the event this year, making it an annual birthday tradition.  I decided on having it this Saturday at the newly refurbished theater that is the closest to my house (a different theater than the one I went to last year).  I chose a range of movies that would give me a variety of styles and hopefully a good scattering of showtimes.   Continue reading

Not Exactly a Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Much as was the case with The Cabin in the Woods, I missed The Amazing Spider-Man when it was released in theaters last year.  There are a bunch of possible reasons for this, but the most obvious was that it just felt too soon to reboot the Spider-Man story.  Sam Raimi’s trilogy had only ended 5 years ago, and the first movie was only 5 years before that, and I just felt that if they weren’t continuing the story that they’d be better off leaving Spider-Man alone for a while.  However, over the weekend I watched it (thanks to a free weekend of HBO) and I generally enjoyed it.  While it’s too far removed from the film’s release to give it a full review (though I’d generally give it a B+), I thought I’d do another “Not Exactly a Review” filled with my disorganized thoughts.

I’ve always believed that films should be appreciated on their own merits, and that it’s unfair to judge a film either positively based on the reflected glow of other films (The Dark Knight Rises benefitting from the praise for The Dark Knight) or negatively simply because it is being compared to something universally loved.  However, it is fair, and in this case unavoidable, to compare this film with the Raimi trilogy, given the close time frame and wide appeal of the previous films.  The Amazing Spider-Man tries to blaze its own trail, succeeding in some ways and failing in others. Continue reading