Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ben Affleck cast as Batman

Let me start this by saying, that I wasn't always a fan of Ben Affleck.  For a long time, I thought he was the less talented half of the Damon/Affleck duo.  Even in Good Will Hunting, I thought Matt Damon was the showstopper.  That being said, something happened on July 15th, 2010.  A pretty obscure date right?  Well, for me, that was the day I saw the trailer for The Town, for the first time.  An adult themed crime drama, that was both action packed, and showcased riveting performances.  I fell in love with the movie, to say the least.  And then, the Oscar winning film, Argo, happened.  I loved that movie as well, and officially became a Ben Affleck fan.  A few days ago, it was announced that he has been cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel.

There is a lot of hate being thrown at Ben Affleck, as well as Warner Brothers.  And I really don't understand why.  I do have an idea why though.  I think it's because people don't understand what it takes to make a movie.  Seriously.  No one actor, no one person, can make or break a movie.  There are too many pieces to the puzzle of filmmaking for Ben Affleck to have 'ruined' Daredevil.  Or any other film for that matter.  Sure, he wasn't a very good actor when he started, but now he is.  And now, he's an even better filmmaker than he is an actor.  So he knows what it takes to make a great film.

Zack Snyder will be directing the Man of Steel sequel, rumored to be titled Batman vs. Superman.  And this could prove even more helpful for Affleck.  He has less of the burden on his shoulders now.  He has to build up his body, as he did in The Town, and be ready to give us a NEW take on the caped crusader.  You see, he can't imitate the Batmen before him.  He can't pretend to be Michael Keaton or Christian Bale.  He'll need to make this take on the character, his own.  And THAT is the difficult part in my opinion.

An unknown fan created this poster
It's an another interesting point, what is Batman like in this universe that Snyder has created?  I've read all over that he will not be nearly as dark and brooding as Bale was in The Dark Knight trilogy.  And I'm ok with that.  As much as I am obsessed with the Christopher Nolan directed trilogy, I'm ok with change.  I'm ok with seeing a different take on the character.  That's what makes Batman, and Bruce Wayne, such compelling characters.  They can be viewed and portrayed in so many different ways.  Think of all the actors that have played the character, no two actors turned in similar performances.  Of course there were some better than others, but all different.  And if this is a 'lighter' version of Batman, let's just hope he's not the campy mess that was in Batman & Robin.  I doubt Snyder and company will let that happen, but I'm just sayin'.

This Batman will be an older version of the character, and Affleck is 41 years old.  A great match against Henry Cavill, aka Superman.  Snyder and his team have hinted the story will take from Frank Miller's ground breaking graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns.  It's a world where Batman has been fighting crime for some time now.  And being as experienced as he is, he has a few tricks up his sleeve to battle the last son of Krypton.

To wrap this up, I think Affleck will do great.  He has the look.  He has the build.  He is a better actor now than even 5 years ago.  He has the charm to play Bruce Wayne, but the inner angst to play Batman.  He has the jaw line too!  Warner Brothers did the right thing here.  Keep their boy happy, in-house, and make sure he's locked in for multiple movies.  As a fan of cinema, I am interested to see what he can do with the character.  As a fanboy, I had a nerdgasm when I read the news.  2015 can't come soon enough!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 review; a fun, yet unfulfilling ride

I was a big fan of the 2010 film, Kick-Ass.  Based on a graphic novel by Mark Millar, and directed by Matthew Vaughn, it was a fun superhero movie with it's own style and tone.  It wasn't dark and serious, and it wasn't campy and ridiculous either.  It was based in reality and featured a ton of laughs and a LOT of blood.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson was the newcomer asked to bring the comic book hero to life.  ChloĆ« Grace Moretz played Hit-Girl, a child assassin with the mouth of a sailor.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse played a rival superhero, turned villain in the film.  The three main actors are back for more fun.  This time, the film is directed by Jeff Wadlow who has been announced as the director of the upcoming X-Force film.  Here's more about Kick-Ass 2... let's go!

What I liked about the film:
The Cast
The movie has a lot of characters featured in it.  Almost to a fault.  But Johnson does a nice job in this film, as the titular character, Kick-Ass / Dave Lizewski.  His performance is well grounded, and he does a decent enough job of convincing us that his character has two sides to him... the mild mannered High School student, and the vigilante, justice seeking superhero.  But overall he has less to work with in this film than the first.  I'll get to that in a moment.

Moretz is the star of the show!  We get to see a conflicted young girl, who could kill at the flip of a switch, struggle to find herself.  She has been forced, in a way, to become domesticated.  She lives with her new guardian, and is a freshman in High School.  But she doesn't know this world; a world the rest of us would consider normal.  What is prom?  What is a curfew or rules?  Moretz has the best character development in the film, and luckily she is a gifted actress who can sell us all on her character's internal conflicts.  She is terrific in the film.

The supporting casts are great, interesting characters.  Jim Carrey may be a headlining actor in the film; but unfortunately, he's barely in the film.  And it's too bad too.  His character, the actor's delivery, make-up, his demeanour, are all top notch.  I wish Carrey got more screen time in this thing!  Donald Faison, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo and Clark Duke round out a very talented supporting cast that made the Kick-Ass universe seem much bigger than just one person.

The Score
Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson's score in this film is awesome.  The movie had me tapping my feet and stopping myself from throwing false alarm punches at the screen.  It was just a lot of energy when the scenes called for it.  And the material with Moretz dealing with High School were perfect.  Nicely done.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Story/The Script
It's a stupid, nonsensical revenge story.  I could theoretically stop there and you understand what I'm saying; but I'll briefly elaborate.  You may have noticed I didn't mention Christopher Mintz-Plasse in my list of likes?  Because he's absolutely terrible in this film!  He overacts every scene he's in!  And instead of making us somewhat like him, like he does in the first film; I couldn't wait to see the character get blown to bits.  Don't worry I didn't spoil anything, he's not blown to bits in the film.  As I mentioned above, Johnson has very little to work with on this script, versus that of the first film.  And the motivations for Kick-Ass to put the mask back on is just downright stupid.  This leads me right into my next dislike.

The Pacing
As far as pacing, the movie is all over the place.  The movie starts and within five minutes, Kick-Ass is a part of a superhero group.  There is no character build up, no room to breathe and get settled back into the world of the character, nothing.  Don't get me wrong, I hate when 'part 2' movies take forever to get going; but the narrative is rushed and left me rolling my eyes more than it did get me excited for what I was about to see.

The Tone has Been Lost
The tone of the first film is what made it such a unique, standout superhero film.  It wasn't a Batman film, it wasn't a Spider-Man film, it was a film with it's own unique style and tone.  And it has been completely squandered in this film.  The action was pretty absurd in the first film; but there was a part of us that said, 'yeah, I buy that that could happen'.  In this film, it's all out, crazy, nonsense action.  It may be what some people wanted to see in a sequel, but not me.  It has to be a continuation of the tone set in the first film, and director Jeff Wadlow did not do that.

The Director
Speaking of Wadlow, I didn't like what he did to my beloved Kick-Ass franchise.  It's just not the same without Matthew Vaughn at the helm.  And again, some people are going to love the craziness that Kick-Ass 2 has to offer, I'm not one of them.  Just because we saw a character in the graphic novel, doesn't mean he or she will translate into a good film character.  There are villains from the graphic novel that are nothing more than a henchman in the film.  I'm only assuming here, but I think Wadlow thought it was fan service to include certain villains that are barely in the film.  Disappointed and now even more concerned with what Wadlow will do to X-Force, now that he's officially signed on to directed.

The Character Development
Last but not least, the movie sucks at character development.  Outside of the the Mindy/Hit-Girl character, there's little to no character development.  Moretz does an amazing job with her scenes, as I mentioned earlier; but the movie has more than just her story to tell.  Or tries to I should say.  This was another great aspect of the first film; showing us how this teenage kid became a super hero, and why.  The first film dove into how the character was juggling being a masked vigilante and a high school student.  By the second film in a potential franchise, I should know a lot more about the main character than I did leaving this film.

The Verdict:
It's a ton of fun, but ultimately it's an unfulfilling sequel 
The humor and the violence were what we expected, but we could have never guessed this would turn out so hollow.  It's a shame too.  Matthew Vaughn fought tooth and nail to give us the first film.  He was so worried the studios would mess it up that he and his producing partners went out and got their own financing on the film; to ensure they could make the movie the way they wanted to.  The tone, the style, the writing of the first film has all changed.  It was more about a character mash-up piece than anything else.  I want to learn more about the young boy and girl dressing up as superheroes to do good for their city.  Now that's a sequel I want to see!  Too bad it wasn't this one.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Thoughts on the Batman vs. Superman, The Flash and Justice League movie news

So my life has been pretty busy lately, and I'm not updating the blog NEARLY as much as I'd like to.  But, hey, I have to make a living to support my movie fix.  So today I figured I'd post my thoughts on a few announcements made at Comic-Con in San Diego last month.  Let's go!

Batman vs. Superman and Beyond
The mother of all announcements made at Comic-Con, was that of a Batman and Superman movie.  Yep, two of the most popular superheroes in the world, will finally share the same screen in a live-action blockbuster.  It is the official sequel to Man of Steel, which has done very well for Warner Brothers.  Man of Steel director, Zack Snyder, will direct the superhero team up film, which will be released in 2015.  The writer of Man of Steel, David S. Goyer, will return to write the script alongside Snyder.  Christopher Nolan will return as an Executive Producer on the film.

From Artgerm user via DeviantArt
I posted that a Man of Steel sequel was green lit, but I had no idea this was what the studio had in mind.  There were multiple reports that if Man of Steel did well, Warner Brothers would open up the DC Universe for other films.  It has been reported that the team up film will take from Frank Miller's classic story, The Dark Knight Returns.  It involves an older Batman on the opposite side of the political fence, from Superman.  This could be either a great creative endeavor, or a money grab crapfest.  I hope it's the former.

As if that wasn't enough, there were more geek-out announcements made by DC Comics and Warner Brothers.  In 2016, a stand alone The Flash film will be released.  No other details were announced as far as director, casting or otherwise.  And, ready for this, a Justice League film is officially official.  2017 will be the year.  Finally, after one missed opportunity after another, Justice League is really happening.  

The Flash film is perhaps the most interesting announcement to me.  I would have guessed a stand along Wonder Woman film before a Flash film.  I guess there's enough interest in the character, that WB feels this will be a successful franchise.  I'm interested in seeing how a 'grounded' Flash film would work.  We'll see how it goes.  And my vote is for Ryan Gosling to star.

Last but not least is the Justice League film.  After trying to get the project off the ground, multiple times, the DC Comic's supergroup, will finally get a film.  It appears as though Warner Brothers is taking the Marvel approach by creating stand alone films, that lead into one mega blockbuster.  There are more questions than answers at this point.  Will they reboot the Green Lantern franchise after the abysmal Ryan Reynolds film?  Are other stand alone films (i.e. Aquaman) in the works?  Will Snyder direct the film?  The wait is painful, but it's all part of the fanboy experience.  Looking forward to DC finally catching up with Marvel, as far as its movies are concerned.