Marvel vs DC vs Fox: Year in Review

Earlier in the year I wrote an article discussing the comic book movies from the first half of 2016. Looking back over that post I can see that I (quite rightly) ranked Marvel as having the best start to the year with the epic Captain America: Civil War. Fox were second after the good but not great Deadpool, and DC were lagging behind after the clunky misfire that was Batman v Superman. In that same post I discussed how excited I was for the rest of the year. Doctor Strange intrigued me but it was Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse that really got me excited. The DC anti-hero movie promised something completely different to what we had seen for years in comic book movies, whilst Apocalypse was the third installment in an otherwise fantastic prequel franchise.
Now 2016 is coming to a close, I can look back at the year and definitely say:
Well that wasn’t great.

 

Marvel

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Civil War really reinvigorated my love of comic book movies after a gradual slide in interest beginning around the time of 2015’s Age of Ultron. I expected less of Doctor Strange but was still rather excited. I took my seat in the IMAX cinema and whilst it didn’t stray too far from the Marvel formula, it still managed to completely blow me away visually. No doubt seeing the film on such a large screen really benefitted it, as I was truly immersed in the mind-boggling multiverse. For that scene alone it was worth it. Although I’m not sure it will be quite as effecting on the smaller screen on a repeat viewing. Aside from that, as i said, it was rather formulaic, but the action sequences were still impressive, and there were a few nice surprises thrown in. Marvel did a particularly good job in introducing magical elements into a universe that is already well developed, and I look forward to seeing how it is used in future movies.

Doctor Strange: 8/10
Score for the Year: 8.5/10

 

DC

SUICIDE SQUAD

DC didn’t get off to the best start with Batman v Superman, but they had a great chance to save their new cinematic universe with Suicide Squad. The original trailers appeared promising but as soon as the first reviews came out it was obvious something had gone wrong. The result is a choppy movie, which never really takes off. The action is generic, the characters one dimensional, and the story quite honestly boring. The horrific CGI monsters only add to the mess.
It seems DC have been in panic mode since the very beginning. They have tried so hard to rival Marvel that they continuously mess with the films being made, and the movies never hit the spot. They are three movies in now and Man of Steel remains the best of a rather poor bunch. I’m unsure how much longer this universe can survive on such torrid output. In 2017 they really need to hit a homerun with either Wonder Woman or Justice League in order to stay relevant.
Whilst both BvS and Suicide Squad ultimately beat Doctor Strange in box office numbers, they were both released in better months than Strange which was straddled with a November release. Neither BvS nor SS got close to the one billion mark that Civil War breezed through either. That is a worrying sign, especially since DC threw all of its eggs in one basket having all three of their big hitters in Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman appear in BvS.

Suicide Squad: 3/10
Score for the Year: 4/10

 

Fox

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Reading my previous post I can see I was really excited by Fox this year. Sure I didn’t love Deadpool as much as everyone else seemed to, but I still preferred it to BvS, and I was thoroughly excited for X-Men: Apocalypse. By the time Apocalypse was released however, my enthusiasm had waned somewhat, and it was the only comic-book movie this year that I didn’t journey to the cinema to see. Instead I watched this one most recently, only days ago, in the comfort of my own living room. It is a middling effort unfortunately. Not as dull as Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad, probably thanks to the very talented ensemble cast, but nothing special either. Instead of forging its own path (the exact reason why First Class was so brilliant) it relied too heavily on copying the destruction of Days of Future Past. Comic book movies needn’t just be world-destroying action! There’s a moment near the start of the film where Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey, having left a screening of Return of the Jedi, states that the third film is always the weakest in a trilogy. Obviously that was a dig at the underwhelming Last Stand, but it also unintentionally became a self-fulfilling prophecy for Apocalypse too.

X-Men: Apocalypse 5/10
Score for the Year 6/10

 

So overall, I have to say, it’s been quite the disappointing year for comic book movies. Out of the six released, I can say only one was truly great. A couple were good but the other three were duds. I’ll only be rewatching one in the future which I think says a lot.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years of superhero fatigue. I began to feel that in 2015, and the feeling has only grown this year.
Perhaps other people are beginning to feel that too. Sure Civil War and Deadpool cleaned up at the box office, but BvS and particularly X-Men: Apocalypse struggled to hit the high numbers they hoped for. There’s a lot of comic book movie output and it can get tiring, repetitive and expensive for people.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
There are a number of very exciting comic book movies being released in the coming year, and they will be addressed in a post very soon.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

 

Top Ten Best Movies of 2016

I haven’t seen all the movies of the last year, but from what I have seen I can rather confidently conclude that it hasn’t been a vintage year for cinema. There has been a lot of output sure, but the ratio of classics to middling movies and duds is seemingly much lower than years gone by. Thankfully though there are a few movies which I will be happy to revisit time and time again in the years to come, and thus I have decided to create a list of these – my favourite movies from 2016.
The films on this list have been released in the UK in the last twelve months.

Let us start with some honourable mentions. Those movies that were great but just didn’t make the cut.

the-hateful-eight

Honourable Mentions

Of course I have to mention Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight which started the year off with a bang and only narrowly missed out on my top ten. Another close call was Shane Black’s magnificent The Nice Guys, featuring the ragtag team of Ryan Gosling’s hapless PI Holland March, and Russell Crowe’s hardman Jackson Healy. It was a great buddy comedy of a bygone era, the like of which only Black seems to be able to do justice to these days. There was also a return to form for Woody Allen, who delivered with the rather special Cafe Society. Independent cinema also threw up some surprises, for example Mistress America, a wonderful film about a shy freshman who befriends her quirky soon to be step-sister, and King Jack, a tiny movie about a  young troubled boy growing up which reminded me of Stand By Me. A similar coming of age film, Taika Waititi’s second feature, Hunt for the Wilderpeople lived up to the hype, with incredible performances by both Sam Neill and the young Julian Dennison. Charlie Kaufman excelled as always in the most haunting, most human film of the year, despite the fact it focused entirely on puppets, in the unique Anomalisa. And of course, Gareth Edwards knocked our socks off with the intergalactic war movie, Rogue One.
Finally I have gone back and forth on this one, but 10 Cloverfield Lane just missed out on the top ten by an inch. Dan Trachtenberg built an underrated gem with just three superb actors and a post-apocalyptic bunker. The tension grows and grows until it is unbearable and the twists and turns are excellent. It was ultimately pipped to the post by…

10. Hell or High Waterhell-or-high-waterJust go out and see this one. A fantastic crime thriller with Chris Pine and Ben Foster as the bank robbing brothers and Jeff Bridges as the aging cop on their tale. This is a type of movie we see very rarely these days – a middle budget Hollywood film; a completely original, rather complex, premise; and some big name stars attached. There’s a brilliant article about it here:
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/06/hell-or-high-water-hollywood-film-making-70s.

9. The Jungle Book jungle-bookDisney’s live action remakes (Maleficent, Cinderella) have received middling reviews thus far, so it was nice to see The Jungle Book absolutely knock it out of the park. The work of young lead Neel Sethi carries the film, and he is backed up by excellent support, most notably from Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken and Ben Kingsley as King Louie and Bagheera respectively.

8. Zootopia  zootopiainA loveable animated film, that managed to distinguish itself from the crowd and crack the one billion mark at the box office despite the tough animated competition in the form of Finding Dory, Trolls and Sing. Finding Dory in particular was a great film, but Disney really stepped the game up this year with Zootopia, and deserve to walk away with the Oscar come awards night.

7. Captain Fantasticcaptainfantastic1280jpg-485641_1280wThis quirky tale of a man and his family who live in the wild could have easily been too wacky and unfunny, but Viggo Mortensen and a strong young cast made it both laugh out loud funny as well as heartwarming.

6. Mustang mustang-cannes-film-festivalNaturally this movie about 5 young sisters who rebel from the very conservative society in which they live in remote Turkey has been compared 2000’s The Virgin Suicides. However this is a much more accomplished movie than that Sofia Coppola film, and yet it was just as underseen and underappreciated. The five sisters are quite incredible, and the tale of their struggle and revolution is one of the most beautiful stories told this year on screen.

5. Everybody Wants Some!! everybody-wants-some-1459784161Richard Linklater created this spiritual sequel to stoner classic Dazed and Confused, and managed to live up to all expectations. As with the aforementioned Dazed it is equal parts hilarious and nostalgic and all parts incredible. It doesn’t take itself or its characters too seriously, and there is no life-altering meaning, and that is exactly why it is so brilliant. All it tells us to remember is to enjoy life.

4. Room 'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director saysA truly harrowing movie that perhaps should have stolen the Oscar for best film from under the noses of Spotlight and the Revenant. It is a tough watch but the ultimate hope of the story is so uplifting that it is worth the investment. Whilst Brie Larson certainly deserved her Oscar for what is a near perfect performance, Jacob Tremblay as the young boy who has never seen anything beside the one room in which he lives, may actually be even better.

3. Paterson paterson_film
A return to form for Jim Jarmusch, Paterson focuses on Adam Driver’s bus driver who just so happens to be a poet too. It’s a lovely, charming movie, which excels in looking at the beauty of the everyday person. It is thus in its simplicity and its very ordinariness that Paterson shines brighter than almost any other movie this year. Despite the lack of big money effects and explosions we have become accustomed to through summer blockbusters, Paterson is more memorable than any comic book movie this year. It somehow manages to stay in the mind long after the credits roll, the scenes of everyday life pervading your own.

2. American Honey  AmericanHoneySashaShia.0.0.jpgShot in the intentionally boxy 4:3 ratio this tale of the lost youth of America is enchanting. Travelling across the country right in the car with them, as an audience, we are privy to this often unseen, completely bizarre world. Sasha Lane is extraordinary as the lost soul who is enticed by Shia Labeouf’s mysterious Jake, and thus agrees to a life of driving across country, figuring it out as they go. It’s a very twenty-first century film, and it feels like one that will be studied in years to come – a bizarre capsule of a strange unseen corner of modern society; the tale of a confused generation.
1. Arrival  arrivalA science-fiction film for the ages.
It is a genre that is often done well but not perfectly. Big name directors have tried and failed to find the correct formula – most recently Christopher Nolan with Interstellar – but here Denis Villeneuve figures it all out by not making a science fiction film at all, but instead making a family drama. It is spectacular. It is heartbreaking like almost nothing else seen this year. And it will play on your mind for weeks on repeat long after the fact. A true classic of the genre that (if Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario haven’t already) cements Villeneuve as one of the best directors working today. That is why it is my film of the year.

And so that was 2016! Here’s hoping for more classics in the New Year!

Suicide Squad Review

How did it go so wrong?

After the disaster that was DC’s Batman V Superman earlier this year, many thought August’s Suicide Squad would bring back some much needed cinematic quality to the comic behemoth. Instead, the DC Extended Universe has been plunged further into the darkness than ever before. Audiences thought Batman V Superman was terrible, well they haven’t seen anything yet.

Suicide Squad is a complete mess. The plot is much simpler than that of BVS and yet the film seems even more muddled than that particular comic-book movie failure. Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller convinces the government to put together a team of the worst of the worst, in order to protect the world from a potential, perhaps inevitable, evil metahuman. The way she proves this is by bringing Dr June Moon (Cara Delevingne) into the fold. Moon is an archaeologist who has been possessed by an ancient evil witch. Waller controls her by keeping her heart in a suitcase. Waller also has sway over Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), a military expert and the soon to be leader of the Suicide Squad, because of his love for Dr Moon. She plans to keep the Squad in check through the promise of reduced sentences, and a teeny-tiny bomb placed in their necks, allowing her to blow their heads off without a hesitation if they try and escape. Needless to say, something goes wrong, and the Squad are sent in to Midway City to save the day.

The plot is so basic that it lacks any twists or shocks or packs any real punch at all. It all feels very flat throughout. There appears to be very little stakes, despite the fact the world is supposedly in danger. This is because the villain has a weak motive and an underdeveloped plan. The so-called weapon that they are forging is never truly explained and we only see glimpses of what it means for humanity. It turns out its cliched comic-book villainy. The tone of the movie too is all over the place. It feels like two movies smashed together at times, and if recent reports coming out of DC are to be believed, that is indeed true. There is the lighter tone that prevails the majority of the time, but then every so often the dark underbelly rears its head in jarring ways. What is worse is that the lighter tone does not bring much fun at all. The fights are by-the-book and completely unspectacular and a large majority of the jokes and quips fall flat.

Like previous DC movies, pacing is also an issue. The first half an hour feels like an elongated trailer, jumping from present day to back story continuously throughout. This wouldn’t be such a problem is the backstories actually fleshed out the characters. Instead we get brief choppy glimpses of the main character’s tales and then it’s back to Waller and her boardroom. There’s such a great story to be told about Joker’s manipulation of Dr Harleen Quinzel that is completely passed by here. After the flashbacks, Suicide Squad ramps up the pace with back-to-back set pieces which ultimately all feel rather samey. Then suddenly when a burst to the finale is perhaps needed, the ‘bad guys’ take a time-out. It reeks of a muddled production, and conflicting views.

Whilst the plot leaves much to be desired, some actors do leave the crash-site with some credit. Not least is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. She embodies the ruthless co-ordinator of the Squad and steals every scene she is in. Will Smith as arguably the main character, marksman Deadshot, is also an enjoyable presence. In a movie where few jokes land, Smith delivers the best of a tepid bunch. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg is also a passable addition, and his interactions with Deadshot are some of the best in the movie.

Arguably the two main attractions though going into the film were Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (her first time on screen) and Jared Leto’s take on the Joker, a character some would say was perfected by the late great Heath Ledger. It’s hard to say who comes off worse, although neither actor can really be blamed. Robbie’s Quinn certainly isn’t dreadful, it’s just that she is given poor dialogue, and at times she appears to be present merely as a sexual object. I really want to praise Leto’s Joker, because there are flashes of brilliance. However, due to what seems like heavy editing, he is barely in the film, flitting in and out at various points and disappearing entirely in the second half. When he does appear he is a modern day gangster-type, which may be jarring at first but is an intriguing (if currently underdeveloped) take on the Clown Prince.

Leto’s Joker is much more sexual and much more in love with Harley than classic interpretations. It’s a lot to take in for long-time fans of the character, who are more used to a more aggressive and one-sided relationship. That aspect seems to have been left on the cutting room floor. That may not be a bad thing, because the love story between Quinn and Joker is one of the stronger aspects of the film. Once more, the issue is how little screen time they are given to build their characters and relationship. That being said, putting this Harley and Joker centre stage as adversaries in a Batman solo film, would allow them both to be fleshed out more and would likely be a thrill to witness. Seeing how they would mix with Ben Affleck’s excellent take on Batman in more than a thirty second snippet is arguably worth the price of admission alone.

The rest of the cast are given very little to do, which highlights one of the integral issues with the film. There are almost no character arcs. The most defined are that of Deadshot and supporting character El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). The likes of Killer Croc, Boomerang and Katana are left with little more than scraps. Even Enchantress, supposedly so important to the plot, is left wanting. Nobody goes upon any real journey and certainly nobody changes in any meaningful or believable way. The only time change happens is when members of the Squad act out of character in the third act, allowing the film to fall into comic-book movies cliches.

Suicide Squad doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. After the disaster that was BVS and the continuing success of Marvel movies, and now Deadpool, it appears the DC executives threw everything at the wall in the hope that something would stick. Bits and pieces intrigue but underdevelopment means they rarely excite. Instead Suicide Squad is left with a jumbled plot, weak characters and heaps of wasted potential. It’s an original premise, which in a 21st-century comic-book movie, is hard to come by, and yet an hour in, it has fallen into cliched territory, and by the third act, plastered with poor CGI in the inevitable boss fight finale, it is little more than run-of-the-mill.

Wonder Woman it’s down to you to the save what is left of the DCEU.

Verdict: 4/10

Marvel vs DC vs Fox: 2016 so far…

This week has seen the release of the 13th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War, which looks set to be another huge hit for the comic book behemoth. Due to the fact that its movies crack a billion quite regularly now (The Avengers, Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3), Marvel certainly leads the pack. Neither DC nor Fox have managed to break the $1 billion ceiling yet. Along with the third installment of the Captain America franchise, 2016 has already seen the release of Fox’s R-rated hit Deadpool and DC’s two big-hitters face off in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The comic-book movie war is well underway. Let’s take a look at who’s winning thus far, and what else is in store in 2016.

Marvel

Cap

Marvel has had a five year head start on DC and has utilised it to near-perfection. Since Iron Man in 2008, the company has barely put a foot wrong. A few movies here and there may not have hit the mark, but overall, Marvel has set the precedent. As with the other two companies, Marvel are releasing two movies this year. The first was Captain America: Civil War, which was by far the best of the comic-book movies released thus far this year. It may have lulled at certain moments in the middle, but each and every fight scene was spectacular, and the juggling of characters was done incredibly well. Every well-known character got their time to shine, new heroes were introduced in amazing ways, and yet still the focus remained on the primary relationship of Cap, Iron Man and Bucky. It was a mammoth task to pull off, and yet the Russo brothers (at the helm for the second time after the Winter Soldier) hit a homerun.

Mystical-Strange-005-EW_0

In November Marvel shifts gears and releases the unique Doctor Strange. The first trailer offered a glimpse of what is to come, and although there are hints of the Marvel formula about it, Strange seems like the biggest gamble thus far. An arrogant surgeon who, in the comics, has a brutal car accident due to drink-driving, and then becomes an all-powerful sorcerer seems well, strange, even for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There have been illusions to magic, with Scarlet Witch being the most obvious example, but this movie will have that and so much more – multiple planes of existence and of course Tilda Swinton’s sexless ancient being. If there is one team that can pull it off though, it is Marvel. When it’s seemed like a step too far for them thus far, they’ve knocked it out of the park (see: Guardians of the Galaxy). Expect Doctor Strange to be no different.

Performance in 2016 thus far: 9/10.
Excitement for what’s to come in 2016: 8/10.

 

DC

Bat

DC have been playing catch-up to their biggest rivals, which has led them to attempt a reverse-Avengers. Whilst Marvel slowly built up to their super team up in 2012’s blockbuster the Avengers by virtue of five stand-alone movies, DC have jumped head-first into a first on-screen meeting of their three biggest properties: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. This movie, Batman v Superman, was built on the back of the divisive Man of Steel (2013), and will be followed by Suicide Squad, a standalone Wonder Woman film, and then Justice League Part 1, before Aquaman and the Flash finally get their own standalone movies. Whilst Marvel has declared “Here are the ingredients, and we’ve made this cake,” DC has said “Here’s the cake, and now let’s find these ingredients.” All this is not to say DC is going to fail in its plan. It makes sense to distinguish itself from its biggest competitor, and try and forge its own path. The issue thus far has been that the movies have not been particularly good. Man of Steel was a fine film, but it was never intended to be the first building block in a new universe. As for Batman v Superman, there were multiple problems, too many to go into right now in fact. Perhaps the main issue though was its preoccupation with the future of the franchise instead of the present. Too often the film cut away to moments that will no doubt pay off a number of films down the line, which left the general audience completely confused. Whilst Marvel hints subtly at other characters to come in the future (Stephen Strange being mentioned briefly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Anyone?), DC blasts down the door, and screams “Here are all our characters, coming 2017!” In the rush, DC forgot to make the actual film all that interesting, and while Ben Affleck and arguably Gal Gadot steal the show, the rest are left to wallow in a darkly depressing, convoluted plot that ultimately goes nowhere.

Squad

The rest of 2016 seems slightly brighter for the ‘grittier’ comic-book movie world, as Suicide Squad is released on August 5th. There has been a lot of buzz thus far, thanks mainly to a couple of superb trailers which seem to hint at a darker, more badass version of the Guardians of the Galaxy. So far so good. It’s got a solid cast, and a talented director in David Ayer. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see another director other than Zack Snyder adapt the DC mythos. Affleck’s Batman will also get his second outing, which will no doubt sell those extra few tickets. It won’t hit Marvel numbers (there have only been a handful of movies which have grossed +$400 million having been released in August, GOTG amongst them) but it could finally be the boost DC need to get their universe rolling. Here’s hoping.

Performance in 2016 thus far: 5/10.
Excitement for what’s to come in 2016: 9/10.

 

Fox

Deadpool

Fox always seem like the odd-one-out. They’re the forgotten company. Marvel have Kevin Feige running the show, who knows who DC have (Snyder it seems?), and Fox have… Simon Kinberg. Who? And yet Fox are in many ways superior to their rivals. They were churning out comic-book hits way before the letters MCU ever meant anything to Kevin Feige and co., and have some of the most popular and well-known characters in all of pop culture (Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is arguably on the same level as Superman and Iron Man). Still, despite barely a bum note (The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine), Fox are disregarded without a second thought. Perhaps 2016 is the year that will all change. They’ve certainly started with a bang. After being stuck in development hell for a decade, Fox finally pulled the trigger on an R-rated Deadpool movie, featuring super-fan Ryan Reynolds in the title role. To say it was an unexpected hit would be an understatement. It became the largest grossing R-rated movie ever taking over $760 million at the worldwide box-office. In all honesty, bar some great gags, the movie was only pretty good. The action sequences were fun, and Reynolds gave it his all, but similar to the comics, Deadpool is a character better enjoyed in small slices. That however, will not impact on Fox’s plans, and sensibly they have already greenlit a sequel. A solid start to the year for Fox no doubt about it, as they have a new fan-favourite franchise on their hands, and it’s certainly something different to what Marvel and DC are currently offering.

x-men

Next month, Fox releases their second and final film of the year: X-Men: Apocalypse. It is the final movie in what has been quite frankly the best comic-book movie trilogy thus far. After the collapse of the X-Men empire with the dismal performances of the Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine, Matthew Vaughn stepped in and reinvigorated the franchise with the wonderful prequel film X-Men: First Class, which was swiftly followed up by the returning Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Led by a stellar cast, both movies have been top-of-the-line, and it looks like Apocalypse will follow that trend. Apocalypse is the biggest threat the team have faced thus far, and it looks to be a truly cataclysmic clash. It’s strange that these movies tend to fly under the radar. McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence and co. are perhaps the most talented of all the ensembles, and the juggling of characters is second to none. The movies also cost a pretty penny, with X-Men: DOFP being one of the most expensive films ever made at the time, and they look truly spectacular. Apocalypse looks set to thrill (and hopefully burst the bank) as well as send Fox into a new exciting era.

Performance in 2016 thus far: 6/10.
Excitement for what’s to come in 2016: 9/10.

 

 

Suicide Squad Trailer 3 (Blitz Trailer) Breakdown and Analysis

A third trailer was recently released for the next instalment in the DC Extended Universe, Suicide Squad (August 5). Unlike the last DC movie, Batman V Superman, those in charge have released a trailer which provides glimpses of what we can expect without giving too much away. All three trailers thus far have been expertly edited, bumping up the intrigue for this film to fever pitch. After the disappointment of Batman V Superman, Warner Bros and DC will be hoping David Ayer and his all star cast can finally kick-start their movie universe. Here’s hoping.

Immediately, the trailer ties this film to the DC Universe, with an explicit mention of Superman. Later on, there are a number of shots of shots of Batman, and this is probably a good idea, as Batman V Superman is currently in theatres and this will allow casual movie-goers to make the link, and understand Suicide Squad exists in the same universe. Also Batman sells cinema tickets, it’s as simple as that. We witness Batman taking a dive, with an oxygen mask on, into the water below, where Joker’s car is also seen plummeting too later on. Batman carries Harley to the Batmobile, presumably after saving her.

Screenshot (54)

Whilst Batman is present, from what has been shown, it still seems to be only for that one sequence, where he is chasing Joker’s car. The main focus is of course going to be on the Suicide Squad themselves. Behind Amanda Waller in the White House are six faces – Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Slipknot and El Diablo. These will make up the team, but this trailer appears to confirm suspicions many have had over the fate of Slipknot. He seems to be trying to escape, as he grapple-guns away leaving two soldiers on their backs. This scene is overplayed with Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flag stating that if anyone tries to escape they will be killed. It’s not hard to imagine what happens next… If any more confirmation is needed, Slipknot does not appear in a scene later in the trailer where the helicopter the Squad are travelling in gets shot down.

Screenshot (61)

We see more comedy from Jai Courtney’s Boomerang as Katana puts her sword to his throat: “You got a boyfriend?” he quips. More incredibly we see him slice a creature’s head off whilst holding a unicorn teddy bear. What is this movie?! His boomerang is also hidden away in one shot, whilst we learn that Will Smith’s Deadshot has ‘I am the Light’ engraved on his weapon, and Harley Quinn has her initials on hers, along with ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ on the barrels.

Screenshot (45)

Whilst Margot Robbie certainly looks the part as Harley Quinn there’s been questions over her portrayal, as the trailers haven’t exactly shown her as the character known and loved from the comics, especially in this one. However, it is an incredibly pointless exercise to speculate on her performance based on snippets of the movie. She does however, have her famous mallet, which as any comic fan will agree, is pretty fantastic to see.

Screenshot (51)

One of the faces not on the wall behind Waller in the White House was Cara Delevingne’s June Moon/Enchantress. This further reinforces the rumour that Enchantress will be one of the villains of the movie. We get a shot of the FBI forcing entry into someone’s home, and it looks like mud or blood which is smeared on the wall. They then burst into what looks like a bathroom considering the decor. Is this where Enchantress is holed up, perhaps in the tub? Later on in the trailer, some more of her origin is revealed deep in a cave.

Screenshot (56)

Joker appears to be talking to Common’s character at one point, who may be the Tattooed Man. He is also rumoured to be the mysterious creature we witnessed in the subway in the previous trailer, and once in this trailer. Finally, we see a crazed Joker with a seemingly half-burned face, who, quite frankly, looks amazing.

Screenshot (58)

There’s still four months before this movie is released, with it currently in the process of re-shoots, but there’s many reasons to be excited to witness this on the big screen. It looks like a very different type of comic-book movie, which, after some mediocre output in the last few years, may be exactly what fans need.

New Batman v Superman TV spots and Poster

Last night we saw the release of two new thirty second teasers for the upcoming Batman v Superman movie. Thankfully, DC and Warner Bros. have taken a step back from the miscalculated decision to show Doomsday in the previous trailer, and have instead decided to focus on the animosity between the Dark Knight and the Caped Crusader. We get a trailer basically focusing on each hero and why they dislike the other. As basic as that sounds, it builds excitement for the inevitable clash between the two.

 

Also released was a pretty standard poster of the two heroes facing off. Again, its a return to what made the original trailer so enticing. In all honesty, these last few months of posters and teasers will only likely capture those people who until now have been unaware of the massive movie event soon to happen. As for the rest of us (the majority), we have seen enough of this movie to make up our minds on whether it is worth seeing. All we can do now is wait and see whether this clash is as incredible as it should be, and whether it brings in the money at the box office. It’s the big one for DC considering Marvel’s head start in universe-building; here’s hoping they can make a fight out of it yet. With Batman and Superman, they’ve got a hell of a chance.

Batman v Supes Poster

 

Suicide Squad Trailer Breakdown

We are still more than half a year away from the release of DC’s Suicide Squad movie but we were recently treated to a brand new trailer, and unlike the most recent Batman vs Superman trailer, this one built suspense without giving too much away. We got more information about the numerous different characters as well as some teases about the plot. Queen’s epic Bohemian Rhapsody built perfectly with the action on screen, from serene to frantic in a moment. All in all, it was a great peak at the upcoming movie. Here’s a further breakdown…


We see a quick shot of Harleen Quinzel looking more than a bit distressed on top of a car, but the main notes regarding the fan-favourite are firstly, two shots of Harley in what looks like a swanky restaurant causing mayhem, with (you guessed it) the Clown Prince himself, the Joker. This may be a flashback to the good ol’ days of Harley/Joker team ups. More importantly we see Harley Quinn being lifted from a vat of acid, draped over the arms of the Joker. This echoes Harley’s New 52 origin, where the Joker pushed her into said acid, before rescuing her. Looks like we may be seeing that origin on the big screen rather than her original Animated Series/Mad Love story.

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Speaking of the Joker, as well as seeing him swan dive into the acid in search of Harley, we also see some spectacular shots of him being brilliantly villainous. From the clip of him in a white bow tie, laughing maniacally whilst firing off a round, to him lying on the floor surrounded by one hell of a stash of weapons. In terms of the men around him, we get our first look at henchman Johnny Frost too.

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Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang has a couple of moments in the trailer which may single him out as a scene-stealer. The first is when he bursts out of an Australian mail bag and immediately wallops a guard, and the second, when, as the action erupts on the screen, the music cuts and we get him sneakily opening a can and taking a sip. It’s great comedy, and it may be the first truly great role of Jai Courtney’s career. Of course it’s too early to tell, but this trailer contains some good signs.

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As for the rest of the characters we see Katana’s Soultaker sword for the first time, which can collect souls; as well as presumably Katana using these souls, thus causing the distressing change in eye colour. We also get more prolonged glimpses at Killer Croc. He has his own unique cell, which is mainly water (probably connected to the sewer) with a metal walkway. Perfect for killing unsuspecting guards. The practical effects look absolutely superb too, allowing Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje to look terrifying as well as function properly and show real emotion in his face. Croc and Katana come to blows too, showing its not quite one big happy family.

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No wonder. The Suicide Squad (also known as Task Force X) are not doing these missions for the fun of it. In fact, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and the American government are forcing the inmates to partake. What’s keeping them from deserting their posts though? Well traditionally the Suicide Squad are kept in check by bombs planted in their neck, and there is a hint in the trailer that that is also the case here. We see a room full of surgeons and Killer Croc being wheeled in Hannibal Lecter-style. This would imply that at least one of the squad gets disposed off by being decapitated by Waller and her technicians, and at this moment, the most likely candidate is the master of ropes, Slipknot, who once more, has very little to do in this teaser.

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A character who does have an increased role in this trailer compared with the last one is June Moone, also known as Enchantress. Enchantress is the witch who occupies Moone’s body. We see her in both forms, and it appears she may have an integral role in the story. There’s the hint of a love interest with a longer-haired Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), which links back to a scene in the first trailer, where two unidentified characters were seen kissing. Throughout the rest of the trailer, Flagg has shorter hair so perhaps this scene is a flashback? More interestingly, we see Enchantress in a government building (The White House Logo can be seen behind her on a screen), which teases that she herself may be one of the antagonists of the piece. In a number of other shots of the Squad together, fighting off bad guys, Enchantress is noticeably absent.

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So perhaps she has something to do with the absolutely crazy, unexplainable scenes we witness numerous times throughout this trailer. First there is dramatic destruction, on the street, and inside a building, where a black substance is everywhere. Then there is the fact that the adversaries the Task Force take on, appear not to be completely human, instead looking and acting, more like crazed creatures. Thirdly, some being crashes straight through a subway train and begins attacking police with what can only be described as vines, before a huge bolt of light erupts the night sky, whilst demented beings gather around its base. Crazy right?! All of this is greatly confusing. We know there is a supernatural element to the movie, with Katana, her sword, and of course Enchantress being the obvious examples, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for anything quite this bizarre!

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There are a number of options that immediately jump to mind. Perhaps somehow the Joker has something to do with this, although it does appear a little out of his reach. Enchantress, seemingly being built as a major antagonist, is another option certainly. Then there is Tattooed Man, a character reportedly seen on set, who is not glimpsed at in the trailer, and whose role in the movie is as yet unconfirmed. Finally, there is a possibility of something otherworldly playing a part in this movie. We are, of course, in the DC Expanded Universe, and thus Kryptonite, and presumably Brainiac are available to the film-makers. Potentially one or both could have some sort of role in this movie.

In all honestly, at this point all we can do is speculate, and speculate we shall. This new trailer showed us a lot, and answered some of the burning questions of fans, but more importantly left us wanting so much more. For every answer we got, three more questions fell from our lips. A brilliant trailer to hype up the bad guys of the DC universe. Roll on August.

 

 

Suicide Squad Posters Revealed

Despite the fact that Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is released in just over two months, the hype surrounding the other DC Extended Universe movie released this year, Suicide Squad (which hits in August), appears to be at such a fever pitch that the two titans of comic book history can seemingly not compete. The marketing thus far for the movie, which features a group of characters unknown to most of the general public, has been fantastic, and the recent release of posters has only continued this trend. They are simple yet innovative, and they ooze cool. We see the group together in their cartoon form, and then each major character gets their own specific poster. Note the very familiar symbol drenched blood red that makes up the Joker’s mouth. A nice touch.

Director David Ayer has described this film, about a bunch of super villains tasked with saving the day, as the “Comic-Book Movie 2.0”, and if the posters and teaser trailer are anything to go by, he may very well be correct. This is not your typical happy-go-lucky Marvel film, but neither, it appears, is it too similar to the clash of titans we will see in March. This is the bad-ass cousin of that movie.

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Jared Leto as The Joker: First Look

Credit: David Ayer’s Twitter Page

The first look at Oscar winning actor Jared Leto’s interpretation of The Joker has evoked mixed reactions from the passionate comic book fanbase. There are certainly aspects to like from the most recent incarnation of the character but at the same time, some things seem bizarre and even downright wrong. Let’s delve deeper.

There are numerous nods to the history of the Joker, from the famous pose taken straight from the pages of the Killing Joke to the bright green hair and purple glove. The hair is a huge move away from Heath Ledger’s Joker, and is refreshing in the movie universe. The glove, given the seriousness of the world DC and Warner Bros are creating, is perhaps too cheesy and not particularly realistic, but at least here it seems to work quite nicely. Perhaps it will not be a permanent feature of the character. Contrasting with the bright colours of the glove and hair is the seemingly bleached white skin of the Clown Prince. Again director David Ayer and the team are certainly crafting their own vision of the character, moving away from Ledger’s make-up approach. It is unclear what has made the Joker’s skin that colour at the moment though.

Certainly the most surprising aspect of this character reveal was the tattoos. The Joker is not known for body art, and the sort of ink on display has rubbed many fans the wrong way. There is no subtletly to the work, instead, every single fragment of the Joker’s character over the last 75 years appears to have been applied to his body. It’s a bizarre choice certainly. Along with a large chunk of laughter, there are playing cards on the shoulder, large smiles on the arm and hand, and a clown skull on the chest. It appears simply too on the nose. At the same time though, perhaps the thinking is that such a twisted character would indeed plaster himself with such strange artwork. This theory holds water when the ink on the right bicep of the new Clown is focused on. In a previous article I mentioned the potential death of Robin in this universe, and the tattoo, which appears to be a bird, could indicate such an event. What better way to anger Batman than to display such a tattoo?

The rest of the tattoos fall under the ‘intriguing’ rather than ‘terrible’ category. The ‘J’ under the eye, almost like a tear tattoo, is a nice addition, while the ‘Damaged’ tattoo on the forehead does not sound quite as ridiculously bad as it sounds. There is an interesting tattoo around the waist which is only partially on show. It appears to be two words ending in “YS” and “Y”. “Harley’s Only” appears to be the most popular interpretation making the rounds, and it definitely fits considering both the Joker’s and Harley Quinn’s presence in the Suicide Squad movie. As well as this, the strained look around the eyes adds to the savage crazed look effectively, and the caps on the teeth are rather brilliant. Batman is sure to knock your teeth out at least a few times. It only adds to the menace.

Overall then, it’s a mixed bag. Some parts look strange in a good way, others not so much. It is only one photo though, so we must not judge a book by its cover. Definitely Leto (ala Ledger) has made quite the impressive transformation for the role. What is also certain is that while making many nods to the Joker’s past, particularly through the tattoos, Ayer and the crew are not playing it safe, and are giving us an ambitious interpretation of everyone’s favourite clown.

Batman vs Superman Teaser Trailer Analysis and Breakdown

It’s nice to see that it’s not all just been forgotten. In Man of Steel, in an attempt to defend the world from General Zod, Superman was forced to fight on Earth against his nemesis, which appeared to cause unprecedented levels of destruction. Superman had to do all he could to stop another alien from destroying the home he loved. They were for all intents and purposes Gods fighting on human land. Of course there was to be destruction. The first trailer released for the sequel Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice seems to use this destruction as a launch pad. Sure Superman saved the day, but at what cost? His presence caused the Earth such turmoil, it is only natural that there would be a backlash. It seems that this backlash is to be led by none other than Lex Luthor himself…

Watching this trailer there are immediate details that jump out at the viewer. The slow reveal of a statue of Superman covered in graffiti reading “False God” as we hear from numerous people about their very negative feeling toward Kal-el is very powerful. There is turmoil brewing straight away, Superman is under attack. There is Clark all suited up, a concerned look on his face as people (some with skeleton paint on reminiscent of the Mexican Day of the Dead) attempt to grab at him. The people do not look particularly angry or threatening but there is definitely not love and admiration on their faces for the man from Krypton.

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Then we hear a voice, “That’s how it starts…”, potentially Alfred Pennyworth addressing the one and only Bruce Wayne. Ben Affleck’s Bruce looks on with anger in his eyes. He stares at what can only be described as a bad-ass Frank Miller-inspired Bat-suit. It’s big and it’s bulky with an imposing Bat symbol across the chest and a heap of battle marks for good measure. We shift to an abandoned building where Batman stands surrounded by graffiti. The next few shots are of presumably the Batwing flying down and obliterating what look like henchmen on the docks, followed by a hybrid 1989/Nolan Batmobile causing an explosion. Wait, Batman doesn’t kill people does he?

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We finally see Affleck in the suit walking unscathed from wreckage, and then a Dark Knight-esque shot of Batman on top of a very high building. He appears to be holding a rifle. Scouring the skies for a flying man perhaps? This hearkens back to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Retuns comic book where he used a rifle, albeit with rubber bullets. Then come the money shots. Batman in a beefed up armoured Bat-suit, rain pouring down, his illuminated eyes staring a hole through Kal-el flying above his head.

“Tell me. Do you bleed?” Superman lands, giving up the height advantage. “You will.”

It’s gritty, it’s dark, it’s imposing, and it looks brilliant. That one scene looks truly incredible.

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As with every trailer there is more than simply meets the eye. It rewards multiple viewings as little details become much more clear. Perhaps the first is the presence of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. As we hear the voices of critics of Superman near the beginning one familiar sounding voice is heard above the rest.
“We know better now don’t we,” Eisenberg proclaims, “devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No they come from the sky.” It’s just subtle enough to slip undetected for most I assume. The exact role of Luthor remains undetermined, but it can be assumed it will have negative consequences for the Man of Steel. Superman seems to have more pressing matters though, as this trailer paints one hell of an angry Bruce Wayne. But why exactly is Bruce so furious? It’s most likely because of the destruction caused by Superman in the previous film. Maybe he feels someone needs to take Clark down for the good of the Earth.

Among the anger towards Superman there is a shot of men kneeling before the Man of Steel. If you look closely you can see the four men shown all have the symbol of the House of El on their attire. This is the most intriguing shot of the whole trailer. Have these men been tasked with taking down Superman? If so why are they kneeling before him? They could be people working with Superman, but surely Clark wouldn’t be too happy with that? Are they trying to help him without his permission? Possibly. Either way just that tiny symbol opens up a great deal of questions.

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As previously mentioned the two Bat-suits we see are very reminiscent of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns 4 comic mini-series, in which an aging Batman takes on and defeats Superman. To be quite honest, to do Batman Vs Superman and not reference Miller’s comic would have been extremely surprising given how seminal the piece is. It is the blueprint. The references to the comics and the new Batwing among other things, really give this movie more of a comic book feel than Nolan’s trilogy despite the darkness to it. It feels gritty but not as realistic as the universe Nolan built. Surely Superman himself, let alone Batman in that suit fighting Superman, would have felt extremely out of place in the Dark Knight Trilogy.

Speaking of characters out of place in a Nolan movie, hidden in the background of a shot there may very well be evidence of a boy we never thought we’d see in the Dark Knight Trilogy (but sort of did according to some). That is of course Robin. In the first shot of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne we see what looks to be a superhero costume over his right shoulder. Bruce appears to be staring at his huge Batman suit so perhaps it is the boy wonder’s attire behind him. In this movie Affleck plays an older Bruce Wayne, perhaps one who hung up his cape a while ago. Why would he have done that? Perhaps due to the unfortunate death of his sidekick, Robin AKA Jason Todd. In A Death in the Family, the famous Batman comic arc, Jason Todd died at the hands of the Joker. At numerous times since in the comics, his suit has been seen encased in a way suspiciously similar to what we see in the trailer. An option perhaps?

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There are a few other small details such as the shot of Superman holding what appears to be a Russian missile or spacecraft. This could no doubt play a part in the build of hatred towards the Man of Steel depending on what happens and how it is portrayed by the people. Equally it could very well be Superman just helping out another person in need. As well as this, in among the graffiti in an abandoned building we see a question mark, which could be a sign of the famous villain, The Riddler. However, the tone of the world Warner Bros and DC are building would seem a bit too dark for such a villain though. Other bits of graffiti are also revealing, as there appears to be the word Afrodite (Aphrodite) which obviously relates to fellow Justice League member Wonder Woman. As well as this there is the word Joe along with another name. Some have claimed the other name is a rather smudged “Harley”. This would indicate the Joker (Joe being a name he has used numerous times) and Harley Quinn.

What are also noticeable are the absentees. The rest of the Justice League make no appearance and probably wisely so. The movie has two big-hitters anyway that will sell the movie on their own. Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the rest are simply bonuses who will probably be around to set up the Justice League movie at the end of the film.

Overall, this trailer has given fans a lot to ponder over in the year before the movie’s release. It was not the best received trailer of the year, in part because of its release so shortly after the frankly incredible second Star Wars Episode VII trailer. What must be remembered though is that Star Wars is released a number of months before Batman Vs Superman, and so we will receive hopefully just as incredible footage a bit nearer to the release date. As for now, there is little to complain about. A first look at Batman in action along with a number of other cool firsts. The future is dark, and it looks like we might enjoy it that way…

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