Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Anticipated Films of 2019- Part II

Source: Boston Globe

Welcome back!!! Let's pick up where we left off last month with the conclusion of my list of mvoies to look forward to this year!!

11) Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Release Date: 7/26/19)- TV actor Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double buddy Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) try to reach the top of Hollywood stardom in the year 1969 right at the time of the infamous Charles Manson murders occurred.
Why I'm Excited: As a fan of Quinton Taratino's films it is always exciting to see him continue to share his unique vision and style of film making. When you add the stellar cast lined up for this film to Tarantino' style there is no way this movie doesn't knock it out of the park.

Source: IMDB

12)  IT: Chapter Two (Release Date: 9/6/19)- Twenty-seven years after the events of the first chapter of the story created by Stephen King, we are reunited with the "Loser's Club" who are now all grown up but still not free of the horrors of the past and the evil face of Pennywise, the killer clown who will stop at nothing to hunt them down and take their souls.
Why I'm Excited: The first entry was by far one of the best horror films in recent years and certainly one of the better adaptations of Stephen King's novels. With most of the core creators from the first film returning for this chapter (as well as Bill Skarsgård returning as the bone-chilling clown) we can all be excited for another hauntingly good film.

13) Joker (Release Date 10/4/19)- Director Todd Phillips (best known for bringing us the Hangover trilogy) brings us a new vision of the origin of one of comic book histories greatest villains, The Joker (played by Joaquin Phoenix).
Why I'm Excited: My enthusiasm for comic book films is well documented but what makes this even more intriguing is the uniqueness of the project. Warner Brothers is taking a bold step to create projects that focus on solid stories and strong characterizations of their DC properties in place of focusing on creating projects predominately focused on starting franchises. If successful this should help DC films create its own identity as opposed to always be compared to the Disney/Marvel model which as worked for them so well over the last decade.

14) Zombieland: Double Tap (Release Date: 10/11/19)- Woody Harrelson and the clan are back to survive the zombie wasteland, save lives, and hopefully find more Twinkies.
Why I'm Excited: The original Zombieland (released 10 years ago now) was tons of fun with terrific performances by the main cast. Director Reuben Fleischer is also returning for the next chapter and we can only hope to have as much fun and laughs as we did before (except for poor Bill Murray who did not survive the first time around)
Source: comingsoon.net

15) Terminator: Dark Fate (Release Date: 11/22/19)- Set up as a direct sequel to 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Skynet rises once again to try and wipe out all humanity and it will be up to the Connor family to restore order and save the world as we know it.
Why I'm Excited: Very little is known at this time about the latest entry but what we do know is certain to make any Terminator fan beam with excitement. Series creator James Cameron is back in the fold, along with the original Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton,  28 years after T:2. With all of the mixed reactions to the various sequels following T:2 this maybe the film that restores the franchise to the roots that made it so revered.
Source: WhatCulture.com

16) Jumanji 2 (Release Date: 12/13/19)- This sequel to the hugely successful reboot from 2017 starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillian, and Kevin Hart. No details about the plot to chapter two have been revealed yet but we can rest assured our high school heroes will end up back in the magical land of Jumanji for more fun adventures.
Why I'm Excited: Part one was a clever continuation of the 1995 classic that starred the great Robin Williams and the success of that first film spoke to how well it was devised. Besides, how do you go wrong with another Kevin Hart & Dwayne Johnson team up?

Source: Den of Geek

17) Star Wars: Episode IX (Release Date 12/20/19)- The "Skywalker Saga" comes to a close in this final chapter of one of the most beloved films series in history.
Why I'm Excited: The Last Jedi was met with mixed reaction but the previous entry, The Force Awakens was adored by fans around the globe and helmer J.J. Abrams has been tapped to return for this final chapter. As one would expect there has been very little released publicly about the film at this early juncture but there is little question that this won't be the most anticipated movies of the year by audiences everywhere.
Source: Flickering Myth

Here are also a few more movies I'm really looking forward to seeing this year but have not been given a confirmed release date thus far:

Rambo V: Last Blood- Sylvester Stallone returns for one last time as John Rambo. This time out Rambo goes to war with a Mexican drug cartel after they kill people close to Rambo.
Why I'm Excited: Stallone is back as Rambo- do we need anything more to be excited about?
Source: IMDB

The Irishman- This is the story of mob enforcer Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, the man who ultimately confessed to being the man who shot Jimmy Hoffa after serving many years with some powerful crime families.
Why I'm Excited: This is the realization of the "dream project" - a mob movie directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci all together for the first time. Scorsese has pitched this story for years but finally got the backing he needed from Netflix to bring the project in front of cameras.
screen shot 2018 01 22 at 12 35 10 pm Heres the first official poster for Martin Scorseses The Irishman
source: Netflix

The Rhythm Section- Based on the novel by Mark Burnell, this is the story of Stephanie Patrick, a woman whose family is killed in a plane crash which she discovers as not an accident. Now she is on a mission to track down those who are responsible for taking her family from her and inflict justice on them.
Why I'm Excited: Blake Lively has been tapped to play Stephanie Patrick and following her performance in A Simple Favor seems to be perfect for this role. Equally enticing is the discovery that EON Productions, mostly known as the proprietors of the James Bond franchise, are producing this one. Based on their track record with 007, this movie is in great hands.
Source: You Tube

That's where we will leave off for now. There's no doubt in my mind that there will be a handful of films that aren't on my radar yet but will catch me by total surprise (happens to me ever year). If you have any movies that you are looking forward to that didn't make the list please add a comment below and let me know what you are excited for it.

Until next time... I'll see you after the credits!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Anticipated Films Of 2019

Source: Boston Globe

Hello again film fans and happy 2019! After a crazy second half of 2018 we are back in action! This year has a bunch of good films coming out and also represents a big year for anniversary films, particularly the incredible movie year of 1989 which we will highlight throughout the following months. In addition to my annual list of anticipated movies for the year there were also be some in-depth reviews of new films coming out as well as some speculation/opinion pieces based on the topics that have yet to come. I looked forward to a fun filled year where we can share our thoughts and opinions on the movies we love and the ones still yet to come.

With that in mind, let's get started with part one of my anticipated films of 2019!!

1. Glass (Release Date 1/18)- Following M. Night Shyamalan's clever approach to disguise 2016's Split as a sequel to his earlier hit, 2000's Unbreakable, this newest release now serves as the third part of a trilogy which brings our three main characters, David Dunn (Bruce Willis), Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), and "The Beast" (James McAvoy) all together. With Elijah joining forces with "The Beast" to cause mayhem and destruction it will be up to hero David Dunn to stop them before it's too late.
Why I'm Excited: As good as the first two entries in this trilogy were this latest entry has all of the makings of a great suspense/action thriller.

2- Captain Marvel (Release Date 3/8)- The constantly evolving Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) introduces it's newest hero, Carol Danvers, a.k.a Captain Marvel, an intergalactic hero who must protect 1990's Earth from evil forces that are using the planet as a battleground to destroy life as we know it and rule from the heavens.
Why I'm Excited: Marvel has successfully been producing excellent screen versions of their comic book characters and this should be no exception. After the DC Comic Universe was so successful in bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen in 2017 there was no doubt that Marvel would follow up with a character of their own (no disrespect implied to the amazing job Scarlett Johasson has done with "Black Widow" but she has been limited to a supporting role thus far).

3- Pet Semetary (Release Date 4/5)- Based on Stephen King's 1983 novel this is the story of Louis Creed, a doctor who decides to move out into a quiet, secluded home in the country. All seems well until his two children, Gage and Ellie, wonder out in the woods and discover a pet cemetery that harbors a horrifically evil presence.
Why I'm excited: Stephen King is unquestionably one of the greatest writers of his time but sadly most of the movie adaptations of his novels have been stuck between mediocre or forgettable (exceptions such as The Shining, Carrie, and Christine notwithstanding). 2017's IT was a well developed and faithful adaptation of the Stephen King novel that the film was based on and thanks its success movie studios are starting to take more interest in producing more faithful and artistic adaptations of his stories which are so well deserved.

4- Shazam! (Release Date 4/5)- DC Comics brings to life the story of Billy Batson, a 14 year old foster child who posses magic abilities that allow him to transform him into "Shazam", a hero of giant sized proportions.
Why I'm Excited: Following the massive success of Aquaman and Wonder Woman, DC/Warner Bros. are finding success with their heroes by focusing more on well developed, single character stories instead of feeling pressured into emulating a large scale shared universe like Marvel/Disney has done. This concept of a super hero film combined with the heart of the 1988 Tom Hanks classic Big seems like it will be an absolute blast of a good time.

5- Avengers: Endgame (Release Date 4/26)- A direct follow up (or second part) to 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, this continues the story of the battle between our heroes and Thanos, an intergalactic warrior who has wiped out half of all living creatures in existence. Only the remaining members of the mighty Avengers can stop him, but after all the damage that has already taken place, will they have enough to defeat him?
Why I'm Excited: Avengers: Infinity War was arguably the best of the Avengers film thus far and carried shades of The Empire Strikes Back (which is a great thing). All indicators point to Endgame being just as strong as part one which means Marvel fans are in for another big time hero classic.

6- Rocketman (Release Date 5/31)- A fantastical take of the story of Elton John's rise to musical super stardom.
Why I'm Excited: Musical biopics have always been a favorite of mine and, in my opinion, have always offered interesting perspectives to music that we have loved in our lives. Last year's Bohemian Rapshody showed that a well made musical biopic can really connect with audiences and with Elton John being directly involved with this film I believe we will have another hit (no pun intended).

7- Shaft (a.k.a Son of Shaft) (Release Date 6/14)- Samuel L. Jackson returns as the ever so cool private eye John Shaft. This time around Shaft needs to help his son when John Jr. is tangled up in a murder at M.I.T.
Why I'm Excited: 2000's Shaft was a clever update of the original film series that started in the 1970's starring the amazing Richard Roundtree. Although John Singleton is not returning to direct this sequel still doesn't overshadow the chance to see Samuel L. and Richard Roundtree return in the roles we love to see them in. Can you dig it?

8- Toy Story 4 (Release Date 6/21)- Our favorite toys, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, are back with some of their other friends, including a new toy on  the block named "Forky", to take us on a fun filled road trip.
Why I'm Excited: Disney/Pixar has always prioritized making quality Toy Story films without feeling the need to release them right away (it has been 9 years since the last entry in the series was released). This makes each one of the sequels just as much fun as the last and this should be no exception.

9-Spider-Man: Far From Home (Release Date 7/5)- Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, following 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming. In this second chapter we follow Peter and his school buddies who are enjoying a trip to Europe when evil forces, known as "The Elementals", intend to bring harm and destruction. Spidey will not be fighting alone this time- Nick Fury shows up to help Spidey restore order from chaos.
Why I'm Excited: To me Spider-Man:Homecoming was the most faithful film interpretation of the character based on his comic roots so any chance to see more of this version is a treat in itself. When you add one of my favorite classic villains, Mysterio (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), to the mix I am all in for this chapter.

10- The Lion King (Release Date 7/19)- Disney continues to create live action versions of their classic animated stories. This is the story of Simba, a young lion who will one day be a great king but must find the courage in himself before he can be the king he needs to be.
Why I'm Excited: I always praise Disney for putting so much emphasis on making stories of high quality. While some fans feel that remaking their animated classics is a means of diluting the stories that are told, I believe they bring a fresh rejuvenation to stories we have loved for years. 2017's Beauty and the Beast was really well done and brought a few original tweaks that were fun- if the same applies to this remake then we can look forward to another great time at the movies.

This is where we will end the first part of our list of movies to look out for in 2019. Be sure to stay tuned for part two releasing soon but be sure to leave a message and let us know what movies you are looking forward to this year.

Until next time- I'll see you after the credits!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

OP-ED: Is Sci-Fi Fading Out Into The Stars?

Source: MGM Pictures

It's been a while but I'm back!!! I want to begin by extending a thank you to all of those who have been patiently waiting for a new write to be posted and fortunately that time has arrived!

I freely confess to being a big sci-fi fan for as long as I can remember. Star Trek was the first show/series that I followed intently (and still do to this day), followed by other great sci-fi series of the time- Star Wars, Buck Rogers (the television series), Battlestar Galáctica, and Dr. Who just to name a few. Science Fiction was often used as a clever means to address social issues of their respective times which used aliens or monsters in place of singling out certain groups of people or countries. I still believe, as many fans did back then, that a solid sci-fi story, complimented with solid directing and good performances, can stand with any other genre there is. But most recently, based on this philosophy, I’m somewhat stifled by what appears to be a lack of interest by the movie going public in some recent sci-fi films that, in my opinion, deserve a lot more credit then they received during their run in cinemas.

The Star Wars films have been a glowing exception to this philosophy due to the masses that adore the franchise to no end. With that said, surprisingly, even the Star Wars franchise has been susceptible to this downward trend. Solo, the latest chapter in the “Star Wars Story” series of films, was marred with headlines about it’s alarming under performance in the box office. There are varied theories addressing the reason behind the disappointing numbers but I was certainly taken aback hearing this news- especially when it turned that out that I really enjoyed the movie! Earlier this year we had Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman, which I found to be a very solid, original sci-if adventure that had the distinction of being a good stand alone film- something of a rarity in today’s franchise heavy Hollywood. While the movie did take number one at the box office it’s opening week, it was by no means a “hit” grossing a modest $32 million in Domestic ticket sales against a $40 million production budget.

Equally shocking to me was the lukewarm reception to last year’s Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the original 1982 classic starring Harrison Ford. Some argued that the film suffered from the time gap between the first and second film (35 years), but I found that to be irrelevant. Blade Runner 2049 was a solid film on its own merit, let alone a strong follow up to the original. Domestic earnings for the film came in at just over $92 million on a budget of $150 million. Once again this was an example of good, well devised sci-fi film being overlooked by the masses.

I could certainly go on with more examples of sci-fi films not meeting their box office expectations (notably 2016’s Star Trek Beyond)  however there’s no need. The point seems to be that audiences are not getting excited about sci-fi films as they once did. Superhero films have certainly taken a stronghold on the film industry as demonstrated by the staggering earnings each successive film produces- even some of the "disappointing" earnings for these movies would be considered a major success for films of other genres. I profess to be a devoted member of the superhero followers but it does disturb me to think that their success is also the cause of other genres suffering as a result. Hopefully Hollywood still has it's share of devoted sci-fi film makers who are determined to bring us another stellar, groundbreaking hit that could reinvigorate out interest. Way back in the 1950's sci-fi films had a lot of popularity which slowly faded until hits like 2001: A Space Oddity and Star Wars brought it back to the forefront. We will just have to continue to look to the stars and hope.

Thanks for checking out my latest write up and be sure to leave your comments to share your thoughts. Until then, I'll catch you after the credits!!!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Opinion: The Shape Of Water Was An Eerily Beautiful Romance, But It Was Not The Year's Best Picture

Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Like most movie lovers I make a point to see the Academy Award Best Picture nominees each year. While the selections tend to be hit or miss from year to year I generally enjoy the Academy's choices and finish watching each film with some semblance of understanding why they were worthy of the nomination. This year was no exception, a worthy list of well made films which ultimately led to Guilllermo Del Toro's romantic fantasy The Shape Of Water taking home the Oscar. Even though I felt that the film was very well made and very enchanting, to me it was also a distant second in comparison to the powerhouse movie that was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Today's vision of Hollywood, and film making in general, is very much a philosophy of "the bigger, the better". The more action, more effects, more star power, the better. The Shape Of Water politely contained all of those elements- great special effects (particularly the creature), top level acting from the likes of Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer to name a few names, and various levels of fantasy and adventure throughout. But every once in a while a movie comes along that is based on two simple, yet very powerful standards of movie making- a great script enhanced by great acting.

 These standards certainly applied to Three Billboards- there is no grand spectacle taking place, no over the top stunts, and no eye catching visual effects. There is however razor sharp dialogue that is masterfully delivered by each actor in their respective parts. The story, written by the films director, Martin McDonagh, is so engaging that the central issue surrounding the film, the unsolved murder of  Mildred Hayes' daughter, is never actually witnessed in the movie but is so vividly depicted by the words and actions of the characters within the story that, as the movie watcher, the feelings of pain and suffering are very prevalent and very real. The main character of Mildred Hayes is played by Best Actress award winning Frances McDormand. Her resume thus far has already been one of astounding, wonderful performances, but this one maybe the best to date. Mildred Hayes is a character operating on numerous emotional levels ranging from anger, to sadness, to wicked determination and callous defiance- McDormand excels at each and everyone from beginning to end. Woody Harrelson is also spectacular as the troubled Sheriff William Willoughby who serves as the focal point of Mildred's protest of her town's law enforcement and their inability to find her daughter's killer. McDormand and Harrelson are the stars of the film but that is not to say that the supporting cast is not also stellar- Sam Rockwell won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance as the misguided deputy Officer Dixon, and Peter Dinklage also gives a great performance as  James the ever optimistic "friend" of Mildred's, always pining for her affection.

It would be easy to keep listing great performances by each great actor in the film, but I don't want to veer too far off of the point of the article. That point being Three Billboards is a film that did not need anything more than what was provided on screen and yet was certainly one of the most engaging films I have seen in a while. This is most impressive when considering it did not contain many of the elements that are considered essential components needed to make a film successful in today's world of cinema. Films of this caliber and quality don't come along all that often and it's a shame that the Academy did not see things the same way.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Must See List For 2018 (Part II)

Source: ridleymcintyre.com

Welcome Back! I hope you enjoyed part one of my must see list for this year (if not, you can locate part one on the main page to start there). No sense in waiting any longer to finish up- so here we go!!!

10) Mission Impossible 6: Fallout (Release Date 7/27/18)- Ethan Hunt and his Mission Impossible Force (I.M.F.) team are back in action to save us from evil forces determined to bring death and destruction to the free world. *Truth be told- at the time of this writing the details of the actual plot for this entry have not come out just yet, but since this is the sixth entry in the franchise it's not much of a guess as to what will transpire*
Reason I'm Excited: While I had mixed reactions to the first two entries of Mission: Impossible, the following three have been outstanding, I believe the last entry, Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation, was probably my favorite entry so far. With that being the case I am eager to see a good thing keep coming and having writer/director Christopher McQuarrie return from part five is great assurance.

11) Equalizer II (Release Date 8/10/18)- Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua are together again to tell the continuing adventures of Robert McCall, a quiet, but dangerously skilled man who lives by a code of honor that brings harm to those who commit injustice to the innocent.
Reason I'm Excited: The first film released in 2014 flew a little under the mainstream radar but was surprisingly good (not a shock when you take into consideration the lead actor and director on the project). Unlike a lot of sequels that simply try to capitalize on the success of the previous film, I believe this sequel will retain most of the good qualities that came from it's predecessor. 
Source: Fan Made/Columbia Pictures

12) The Predator (Release Date 8/3/18)- Shane Black, screenwriter of the 1987 original Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, returns to the franchise to write and direct a film that will serve as a direct sequel to the 1987 film.
Reason I'm Excited: Each Predator film following the original was fair at best but never really aspired to the levels of suspense and originality of the first one. Now with Shane Black, who not only wrote the screenplay for the original Lethal Weapon but also starred in the first Predator as "Hawkins", has returned to try and make this entry as poignant as the original. It's too early in the process to get more details on the plot and characters of the newest entry but all indicators point to this being a winner. 
Source: 20th Century Fox

13) Venom (Release Date 10/5/18)- Based on the villainous character from Marvel's Spider-Man universe, this story focuses on Eddie Brock, a journalist who comes into contact with an alien "symbiote"organism that consumes his body and turns him into "Venom", a vicious, brutal enemy of Spider-Man who also offers himself as hero to people he deems "innocent" by his standards.
Reason I'm Excited: Usually these standalone, spin-off films from bigger franchises don't hit the mark, however there are many reasons to be excited about this one. Aside from Venom being one of the best Marvel villains in their universe, we have Tom Hardy taking on the lead role and Reuben Fleischer at the helm as director (most famous for 2009's Zombieland and 2013's Gangster Squad). We also have some A-list co-stars such as Woody Harrelson and Michelle Williams joining in. Additionally, there's a continuing rumor that the newest incarnation of Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland) may make an appearance in this film which would be spectacular. One last thing to be excited about- we will finally be able to put the terribly disappointing previous screen version of Venom, played by Topher Grace in 2007's Spider Man 3, behind us!

Source: Columbia/Sony Pictures

14) First Man (Release Date 10/12/18)- I know what you are saying by now... finally a film on the list that's not a sequel in a franchise! I understand your feelings, and let that be a reference point as to what film studios believe is the formula that keeps people buying tickets to go to the movies.
With that rant out of the way, let's get back to this film which is a biopic piece about Neil Armstrong, the famed astronaut who would become the first human being to walk on the moon in the year 1969.
Reason I'm Excited: I have always loved movies as a medium to educate people about the past and this one appears to be stacked with talent and creativity behind the cameras. Ryan Gosling will play the lead with Claire Foy and Jon Bernthal supporting. Damien Chazelle (famous for directing 2016's La La Land and 2014's Whiplash) will serve as the director and James R. Hanson, author of the novel that the film will be based on, serves as a co-writer. 

Source: FilmPT.com

15) Halloween (2018) (Release Date 10/19/18)- Four decades after her nearly fatal confrontation with masked killer Michael Myers, Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) returns to face him one last time with the hopes of surviving as she did so many years before.
Reason I'm Excited: The Halloween franchise is another property that was diluted by countless sequels over the years. What makes this entry so enticing is the confirmation that John Carpenter, writer and creator of the original Halloween in 1978 is back as a co-writer, executive producer, and musical composer. We also have Nick Strode, the original actor to portray Michael Myers, back in costume to once again wreak havoc on Laurie Strode and the innocent citizens of Haddonfield Illinois. The film is currently in production so plot details have not really been released at this time but there is a strong sense that this will have strong ties to the first two entries in the series which is what fans (like myself) would love to see.
Source: Universal Pictures

16) Creed II (Release Date 11/21/18)- Michael B. Jordan will reprise his role as Adonis Creed, son of Apollo Creed, from the wonderfully successful 2016 film Creed. Adonis will return in this new chapter to fight Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago, the man who took father Apollo's life in a match 30 years ago. As before, Adonis will be guided and trained by boxing's greatest mentor, Rocky Balboa.
Reason I'm Excited: Anytime there is another chapter in the story of Rocky you can count on me being all in. That aside, 2016's Creed was a excellent extension of the Rocky franchise and this entry was written by Stallone himself which should make for an intriguing spin on this new direction. Finally, I think we all excited by the idea of Dolph Lundgren returning as Ivan Drago as an added layer to the great cast already in place from the previous film.
Source: Fanmade-officialslystallone

16) Aquaman (Release Date 12/21/18)- Jason Momoa was introduced as the famous DC hero Arthur Curry, The King of Atlantis, in 2017's Justice League and now is given his own solo film. This adventure will introduce us to the underwater world of Atlantis as well as the evil villain Black Manta, whose goal is to destroy Atlantis and become the supreme ruler of the seas.
Reason I'm Excited: A few things excite me about this upcoming hero film. First, Mamoa was one of the clear highlights of Justice League and the chance to see him in a standalone film is very enticing after what we've seen so far. Next, this is the first superhero film from director James Wan (best known for 2015's Fast & Furious 7, 2004's Saw (I), and the two Conjuring films from 2013 & 2106 respectively). With the overall success of his films to date he has the makings to be a perfect fit for telling Aquaman's story. And, last but not least, this latest entry in the DC films universe is the next chapter in a "new approach" to the DC heroes. Following the mixed reactions to 2016's Batman v Superman and 2017's Justice League, Warner Brothers expressed interest in making DC films as more standalone adventures for their heroes in place of emphasizing the need for a connected universe, similar to the current Marvel universe from Disney/ Marvel Studios. Wonder Woman  is technically the first chapter in this new approach and that was a fantastic finished product. If Aquaman follows in that vein then DC fans are in for a wonderful future.

Source: Warner Bros.

17) Bohemian Rhapsody (Release Date 12/25/18)- A biopic feature telling the story of singer Freddie Mercury and the world famous rock band Queen. The story will tell of the events from their beginnings then leading up their appearance at Live Aid in 1985.
Reason I'm Excited: As I had mentioned in my write up for First Man, I am always interested in these biopic films that share the stories of the past and offer us a glimpse of people and events that were such big parts of our history. There have been reports of issues between the film's star, Rami Malek (playing Freddie Mercury), and director Bryan Singer. After conflicts continued Singer was released from the project and Dexter Fletcher (notable for 2106's Eddie The Eagle) was tapped to finish the production. The film is currently in post-production with original members of Queen heavily involved in the creative process which should make this a memorable movie experience.

Left: Freddie Mercury/ Right: Actor Remi Malek as Freddie Mercury
Source: prensalibre.com

*Please note that all of the release dates posted are tentative dates for U.S. release and could possibly change*

 If you have movies that you are looking forward to this year that weren't on my list please share them with me in the comments section at the bottom so we can talk about those as well. 

I hope you enjoyed this post and until next time.... I'll catch you after the credits!!!

Source: imdb.com

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Must See Movie List For 2018 (Part I)

Source: ridleymcintyre.com

Welcome to 2018!! My apologies for being slightly delayed however scheduling conflicts caused me to prepare my first post for the new year later than anticipated. With that being said I thought the best way to ring in the new year would be to share with you a list of movies I am most looking forward to seeing this year. Since the list is somewhat long I decided the best way to write this up is to release the list in two parts, so this first entry will list my anticipated films for the first half of the year and then I will follow up with the remainder on another post.

I'm sure this list will adjust and/or increase as the year goes on but for now this is the hit list with a quick synopsis of what the film is and what about it that has me fired up to see it. Also note that release dates are always subject to change but the dates posted are accurate to date.

 Here we go!!!

1) The Post- (slightly belated since it released on Jan. 12) This dramatic powerhouse film based on real events has greatness written all over it. Set in 1971, The Post tells the tale of the battle between the U.S. Government and the press, specifically the Washington Post, following the leakage of secret documents that disclosed the depth of the government's involvement with the Vietnam war.
Reason I'm Excited: Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks headlining with Steven Spielberg in the director's char - can count me in.  

2) Black Panther (Release Date: 2/16/18)- Following up from his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman), must take his place as King of the secret city of Wakanda following his father's death. In addition to taking his place as King T' Challa must also fight the evil forces that look to take his throne as well as bring harm to the free world.
Reason I'm Excited: This character's debut in Civil War was definitely one of the highlights of the  Marvel film series so far, and the chance to have the accomplished director Ryan Coogler (director of 2015's Creed) give his take on a solo film offers the opportunity to make this one of the best Marvel films period.

3) Annihilation (Release Date: 2/23/18)- A biologist (played by Natalie Portman) signs up to explore an unknown phenomenon that has manifested itself in the depths of the forest. Upon entering this unknown abyss the scientists, potentially facing great danger, can only hope that they will safely return with an understanding of a new way of life as we know it.
Reason I'm Excited: I'm always a sucker for a great sci-fi story and if the screenplay is nearly as solid as the book series that the film is based on then this could be the top sci-fi film of the year.

4) Red Sparrow (Release Date 3/2/18)- A  ballerina is recruited by Russian Intelligence to become a spy well trained in the deadly arts. Upon completing her training, her first assignment requires her to target a high level CIA agent- an assignment so dangerous that it could be her first, and if not careful, her last.
Reason I'm Excited: On the surface there wouldn't seem to be anything that makes this film stand out from other, similar, films that have come before it (La Femme Nakita, Point Of No Return for example), but having Jennifer Lawrence in the lead  makes me believe this entry will stand out against the films that have come before it.

5) A Quiet Place (Release Date: 4/6/18)-  A family of four live in a home out in the woods in order to maintain absolute silence at all times. The need for silence is essential because sounds of any kind can attract an unknown evil that could easily slaughter them at any moment.
Reason I'm Excited: While this may fall into the realm of sci-fi (unknown since we are not certain what the evil predators actually are), the concept seems refreshingly original from the typical horror/suspense films that studios seem to pump out on the regular year after year.

6) Solo: A Star Wars Story (Release Date 5/25/18) - Following the success of the first non-trilogy Star Wars film, Rogue One, this entry will tell the story our favorite space smuggling scoundrel, Han Solo, and the events leading up to his fateful meeting at the Mos Eisley Cantina  that we saw in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Reason I'm Excited: Aside from my general interest in Star Wars I am intrigued to see Director Ron Howard's contribution to the Star Wars saga. The screenplay is written by Lawrence Kasdan (co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens) and his son Jon which is added assurance this has the makings of a great entry in the franchise.

Source: Unknown (fan made- but cool looking!)

7) Deadpool 2 (Release Date 5/18/18)- Ryan Reynolds is back in action as the famed Marvel character Deadpool. This time around the super sarcastic, fouled mouthed masked hero takes on more evil and mayhem and comes face to face with his arch enemy Cable (played by Josh Brolin).
Reason I'm Excited: The first outing was a romping good time, not only fueled by Renyolds' fantastic portrayal of the lead character, but also by the fast paced directing of Tim Miller. Miller has been replaced this time around by David Leitch, but as long as they maintain the spirit of the first film this should be another great ride.

8) The Incredibles 2 (Release Date 6/15/18) - Disney/Pixar's greatest super hero family returns to the big screen for another big adventure. In this entry Mr. Incredible must learn to be not just a great superhero but also be a greater stay-at-home Dad with baby Jack-Jack while Mrs. Incredible tries to save the world from the forces of evil.
Reason I'm Excited: After a 14 year hiatus the Incredibles are back! The first film was great fun for all ages and we are fortunate to not only have the original cast back, but writer and director Brad Bird has also returned. This insures that this has the makings of a solid sequel but it will be intriguing to see how the audience reaction will be after such a long gap between the first and second film.

9) Ant-Man & The Wasp (Release Date 7/6/18) - Paul Rudd returns is back as Scott Lang, a.k.a. The Ant-Man. In this follow up to the 2015 original, our hero rejoins with Dr. Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne, a.k.a. The Wasp (played by Evangeline Lilly), on a mission that will reveal secrets from their past.
Reason I'm Excited: It's hard to not get excited for every entry from Disney/Marvel Studios since they have had a considerably successful string of films in their shared universe. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the original film and all indicators point to this being equally enjoyable.

This is where I will end part one of my list of anticipated films of 2018. Be sure to check out part two when it releases and send some comments on films you would like to see this year!! Catch you guys after the credits!

Source: Imdb.com

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Opinion: The Case For Cavill- Why Superman Should Have A Chance To Stand On His Own

Source: Warner Bros. Studios

At the time I am writing this piece there is a great deal of concern stemming from Warner Bros. Studios regarding the future of the DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Beginning a story arc with 2013's Man of Steel, followed by 2016's Batman v. Superman, and most recently Justice League, the DC films have not lived up to expectations (Note:Even though 2017's Wonder Woman is a DC film it is not considered a direct sequel to the films mentioned so I am not including that in the string of films being discussed here). From a box office perspective, the first two films performed well in terms of earnings but well under the numbers projected for them (Batman v. Superman suffered one of the most precipitous drops in earnings from week one to week two in recent memory). Justice League, currently in the second week of release, performed a disturbingly low $93.4 million in its opening week (projections estimated an opening total of $110 million). In a time when most superhero films bring in totals of $120-$160 million on opening weekends, the totals for Justice League indicate to the studio that they should prepare for another disappointment- a term that makes studios decide that things need to change moving forward.
 In all three of these DC entries we have had the lead characters of Superman and Batman played by Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck respectively. While there has been plenty of speculation and skepticism about Affleck's desire to continue to play Batman, the future is yet unknown for Henry Cavill as Superman. According to reports Cavill is still under contract with the studio to play Superman one more time (a total of four films), but if there is a true need for change to get the DC film universe back on track then Warner Bros. maybe inclined to alter the terms of that agreement and look to recast the part. In my humble opinion this would be a big mistake.
 Divisive is certainly a most appropriate word to describe the DC film universe. Some of the die hard fans defend the films to the core, then there are others who think that the films are an unending pile of problems that continue to build on top of each other. A portion of the people who do not like the films lay some of the blame on Director Zack Snyder who was hired to be the point man for the DC universe. Snyder's success with 2007's 300 and 2009's Watchmen (both DC stories adapted to film by Snyder) was enough for Warner Bros. to believe that he was the perfect choice to spearhead the birth of a new DC universe that could compete with the phenomenal success of the Disney/Marvel series of films. While the plan seemed good in lieu of his previous success, the final results did not align with the original vision. Man of Steel under performed in ticket grosses and received mixed reactions from critics and fans, so Snyder suggested that Batman be added to the mix as a means to create unbelievable excitement for the next chapter. Warner Bros. was so sure that Batman v. Superman would be a box office monster they swiftly green lit production on Justice League before BvS was even released in theaters. Sadly, the reactions and ticket sales were once again below what was envisioned but by then it was not conducive to pull the plug on the current production. Justice League was delayed and ultimately faced script rewrites and re-shoots to try and change the tone and aesthetic from the last film. So far even those sweeping changes have not mustered the improvement in public reaction to the films that were hoped for.
Source : Warner Bros. Studios

 Now we are left with a future of uncertainty and more questions than answers. Only two things have been confirmed so far which were announced as plans to improve the state of the DC universe- 1) DC Comics writer/guru Geoff Johns was promoted to DC Entertainment's President and Chief Creative Officer 2) Warner Bros. has announced that the upcoming DC films will be more focused as independent, stand alone films for their heroes instead of emphasizing the need for a "shared universe", meaning the inclusion of multiple heroes in each film (Wonder Woman was the first step in this new direction which, again, is why I did not include it in this discussion with the other films). With Aquaman and Batman already set to have their standalone films made in the same manner as Wonder Woman, Superman has been left in a stasis of sorts. His only stand alone film thus far was Man of Steel which was a solid origin story for the character but it's underlying intention was to really be a springboard to build on for Snyder's intended universe. What Henry Cavill needs- and quite frankly deserves- is a solid, well written, well directed Superman film that can not only let him shine in the role but also represent the true embodiment of Superman as we have come to know him over the 75 plus years he has been in our culture.
As I previously stated, Man of Steel was a film I really enjoyed but it's concept was to offer a view of Superman in a modern, more "realistic" setting where people would show greater concern if Superman really existed among us, past iterations (particularly the Christopher Reeves films) offered the point of view that people were quicker to accept him as a hero than as a potential threat to humanity. While I feel that was fine within the framework of one film, that concept compounded in BvS and ultimately led to him sacrificing his life for the safety of many. The point here is that this version of Superman has had to spend most of his time defending himself from people's perceptions, not displaying himself as a hero to humanity. I firmly believe that Henry Cavill could give an epic performance in the right setting, if given the chance.
 The largest obstacle that Cavill faces is the audiences association of his Superman to the previous films. Most fans agree that his portrayal of Superman is spot on, even if the film as whole is lacking. What we need to hope is that the top brass at Warner Bros. feels the same way. It would be easy for someone to say "well he has been Superman in three films and none of them did well so we should change everything", and they would be justified in thinking that way. But what would be equally gratifying is if these same people were willing enough to see that a few structural changes could improve what is already in place as opposed to breaking it up. This scenario reminds me of the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In the time the film was produced it was made on a budget of $46 million dollars, which was an astronomical sum in that time. The film went on to gross $139 million dollars which, while profitable, was underwhelming in comparison to the projections Paramount Studios had for the film. While disappointed, they did not abandon the idea of continuing the franchise, they in fact decided to make another entry that had a new director, a more limited budget, and an overall new approach. Do you think that Paramount considered replacing William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy just because The Motion Picture was not as revered by fans and moviegoers as expected? Fortunately they did not and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan went on to not only be wonderfully successful, it is considered by many as the very best of all Star Trek films. It is my belief that a similar result can be nurtured for Superman- make changes in the approach and direction for Superman and you can take this iteration of the character from good to great. The core pieces are there, there just needs to be enough faith from the decision makers to see things the same way.

Let's hope for the fans, and Henry Cavill's sake, they see things the way we do.