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REVIEW – Wonder Woman

Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle
Screenplay by: Allan Heinberg
Story by: Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, Jason Fuchs
Edited by: Martin Walsh
Cinematography by: Matthew Jensen
Music by: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis
Based on DC Comics characters created by William Moulton Marston
Year: 2017

 

Seventy-five and a half years. That’s how long it has taken for Wonder Woman to finally get herself a film of her own. Twelve years. That’s how long it’s been since the release of Elektra, the last major superhero film starring just a major female superhero in the lead role and not as part of a team of predominantly male heroes. Five. That’s the number of films I count from Wikipedia’s list of superhero films since 1920 that have starred solely a female lead: Supergirl (1981), Tank Girl (1995), Barb Wire (1996), Catwoman (2004), and Elektra (2005). It’s six only if you count the TV movie Witchblade (2000), which acted more like an extended pilot episode. While comic books have always had their own struggles with female representation, film adaptations (and even some original works) have always seemingly struggled more, largely because a lot more is riding on them ($$$). For some reason, executives just never really saw these properties as being as marketable (i.e., profitable) as their male counterparts, and it seems as though the aforementioned films have stood as evidence of why that is the case, both in the execs’ eyes and, sadly, in the eyes of many in the general audience. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

December 18, 2016 1 comment
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDirected by: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Sheamur, Simon Emanuel
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Edited by: John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, James Earl Jones, Valene Kane
Based on characters and concepts by George Lucas
Year: 2016

 

Disappointment. No, that’s not my reaction to Rogue One. Heck no! But it was the general consensus I gathered from people after they were told that the 2016 Star Wars film was not a follow-up to last year’s The Force Awakens but rather an ominously pre-A New Hope film that was mostly independent from the Skywalker family and friends’ saga. Most of that was just because they were eager to see that story continue, but, for some, there was also an added level of scorn for a film they seemed to consider… illegitimate. Which is unfortunate, as Rogue One, in both style and focus, is a much more important and bolder move forward for Disney and their still nascent new property, signaling a promising future for the franchise that isn’t beholden to repeating itself for the sake of nostalgia and familiarity. Read more…

REVIEW – The Iron Giant

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment
The Iron Giant.jpgDirected by: Brad Bird
Produced by: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff
Screenplay by: Tim McCanlies
Story by: Brad Bird
Edited by: Darren T. Holmes
Cinematography by: Steven Wilzbach
Music by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, M. Emmet Walsh, Cloris Leachman
Based on the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Year: 1999

 

Disney may have reigned at the box office in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, the quality of their non-Pixar-produced films was undoubtedly beginning to slip, and so it’s no real wonder that other studios – particularly DreamWorks – were taking notice and trying to take a bite out of their share of the box office. Despite having the backing of a major studio behind it, however, Warner Bros. Animation struggled to find its footing with theatrical releases during this era. Space Jam, the studio’s first in-house feature film production, was a considerable success, but it relied upon familiar Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan (and an already existing and popular advertising campaign for shoes that already merged the two brands) to basically have the film market itself. Later films wouldn’t be able to use that crutch, however, and anemic advertising strategies for films like Quest for Camelot, Osmosis Jones, and even Looney Tunes: Back in Action – which no longer had the brand popularity and the basketball star to rely upon – did little to drum up ticket sales, and none of the films achieved the critical acclaim to even make them legit cult classics. There was, of course, one film released in between all this, however, that, despite the botched advertising (some of which, for some reason, used Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane”) and underperformance, did manage to eventually make a name for itself not just as a cult classic, but as truly one of the most underappreciated animated film classics. Read more…

REVIEW – April and the Extraordinary World [Avril et le Monde truqué]

September 10, 2016 Leave a comment
April and the Extraordinary WorldDirected by: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
Produced by: Michel Dutheil, Franck Elkinci, Marc Jousset
Screenplay by: Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand
Edited by: Nazim Meslem
Music by: Valentin Hadjadj
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc-André Grondin, Bouli Lanners, Anne Coesens, Benoît Brière, Macha Grenon | English: Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tony Robinow, Mark Camacho, Tod Fennell, Paul Giamatti, Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons
Inspired by the work of Jacques Tardi
Year: 2015 (France/Belgium), 2016 (U.S.)

 

Just when it seemed like steampunk had died, along comes April and the Extraordinary World to potentially reignite interest in the once unavoidable not-quite-underground subgenre. A French/Belgian/Canadian coproduction featuring a world guided and inspired by renowned French comic artist Jacques Tardi, Avril et le Monde truqué (as it is known in its native language) is a film that’s a throwback to a great number of things: the sci-fi of Jules Verne, the grand adventure of Tintin (as well as sporting a similar ligne claire art style), that period of time in the 2000s and early 2010s when steampunk was seemingly the new black, and also the bygone days when science was universally understood in terms of all the positive changes it could provide the world, rather than obsessing about how it could potentially destroy us all, regardless of benign or malicious intent. That last point, in particular – the responsibility of science as a force for good in this world and for humanity – is primary focus. Read more…

REVIEW: Wizards

August 5, 2016 Leave a comment
WizardsDirected by: Ralph Bakshi
Produced by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Ralph Bakshi
Edited by: Donald W. Ernst
Music by: Andrew Belling
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Steve Gravers, James Connell, Susan Tyrrell, Mark Hamill
Year: 1977

 

I’ve only seen a few films of Ralph Bakshi – Cool World, Fritz the Cat, and now this movie – but there was a time when his works were always in the back of my mind whenever the subject of animation history came up. Ever since I was a kid, in fact, which is funny since almost none of his work is remotely child-friendly, except for perhaps his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. As a nerdy kid who studied almost anything that piqued my interest (but especially movies and video games), reading about Bakshi’s subversive, gritty, adult, and oftentimes controversial works always fascinated me. Revered as, if anything, noteworthy departures from the traditionally family fluff that, even today, is usually thought of as the default mode for animation in America, his stuff always stood out as almost mythical or even forbidden to my adolescent mind. I’d see references to it in stuff like The Simpsons and recognize the reference for what it was, but apart from maybe a few clips here and there, Bakshi’s animated films seemed to be spoken of in terms normally reserved for “banned” films like Song of the South and the infamous Censored Eleven – eleven Warner Bros. animated shorts that have been withheld from distribution due to their controversial, racially insensitive material. (I wasn’t far off in that regard, in retrospect, either.) Read more…

REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger

April 23, 2016 1 comment
Captain America The First AvengerDirected by: Joe Johnston
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford, Robert Dalva
Cinematography by: Shelly Johnson
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, JJ Field, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Leander Deeny
Based on the Marvel comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Year: 2011

 

Believe it or not, at one time, this was the movie I was most worried about during the first phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The director, Joe Johnston, didn’t have the best track record as a director, and the main star of the movie, Chris Evans, was someone who had already played a superhero in a movie series that was pretty garbage, Fox’s pre-reboot Fantastic Four movies. Rumors of the film also having a random musical number was also cause for concern, and Hugo Weaving was also revealed to be playing yet another intense villain role. Also, this was a film set before all the other films, being set during World War II. Period films were fine, but a period superhero film? C’mon, Marvel! Surely you must be crazy! No way could this live up to Iron Man and Thor, which at least had respected actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh at the helm, right!?

Oh, please. You know I was wrong on this on all accounts. Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 22, 2015 1 comment

The LEGO Movie - Batman and Benny

I saw so many movies this year, I honestly couldn’t pick the best movie. The selection was so wide because I saw so many, I honestly couldn’t pit movies I just enjoyed versus films I admired. So, this year, I’ve decided to do something different — I separated them into genres. it’s not exactly what you might expect – Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t in sci-fi, for instance, because it’s much more of an adventure film in space.

I’ve ordered these based on gut instinct overall, however, and so you’ll be able to see what I (currently) favored over others. That being said, however, all of these movies are fantastic.

I’m tired of explaining things, honestly. The process of doing the year in review this year was a lot longer than I intended. So, yeah. You know the drill. Read below! Read more…

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