Making a Star Wars film must be one of the most daunting things in Hollywood.
While fans cry, “More, more, more,” with wallets wide open, expectations are incredibly high and hard to meet.
Disney paid George Lucas billions for the chance, and they’ve gone ham mining the Star Wars legacy for more cartoons, comic books, merchandise, anthology movies, and core trilogy films.
And in the thick of things, the company tries to corral a wary fanbase worried about the House of Mouse damaging a beloved legacy filled with lore and characters that are to American culture what air is to breathing.
It’s my opinion that no one, at this point, can create a movie in the series without inviting the wrath of fans. Not even the legendary Steven Spielberg himself could create a continuation film that would satisfy the masses and keep the vitriol from spreading to his Twitter feed.
Continue reading “Defiant — Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review”
Agatha Christie, 20th-century’s master crime novelist, is the highest-selling novelist of all time.
With 2-billion books sold, she’s behind only the Bible and Shakespeare.
But a quick survey of my inner and outer circles either proves that people in general just don’t read anymore or that pop-culture — in America — has room for Sherlock Holmes but not for Hercule Poirot, Christie’s master sleuth who’s appeared in 33 of her novels and a set of films.
Poirot last appeared in 2013 in Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case with actor David Suchet ending a 24-year turn as the detective for the United Kingdom’s ITV.
Returning to cinemas for the first time 1982’s Evil Under the Sun, Poirot takes on the form of Kenneth Branagh who also directs a a stacked ensemble cast featuring the likes of Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Willem Defoe, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. It could have done no less — watch any crime procedural on television, and you can spot the guilty criminal based solely on the guest star making the cameo.
In Murder on the Orient Express, it takes a village to come up with a master plan.
Continue reading “Syndicated — Murder on the Orient Express Review”
Marvel has Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the Avengers, but DC has the Trinity — arguably, the three most important and popular comic book heroes in comic book history.
Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) — who made an appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally join forces with Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to fight cosmic invaders in an action-packed but fluffy movie that ultimately fails to shoulder the momentum of this year’s breakout Wonder Woman film.
With the world in turmoil after Superman’s death, fear has risen to new heights. Who will protect Earth from the incoming alien forces being called by the powerful Mother Boxes?
It’s up to Batman to find out. Traveling the globe as Batman and Bruce Wayne, the Dark Knight hopes to build a superteam to stop the extra-terrestrial Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) from collecting the boxes into one construct that will redesign Earth into a fiery landscape more fitting for his kind.
Continue reading “Minor Leagues — Justice League Review”
Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) tries to stop the end of the world in Thor: Ragnarok, a conflicted mess of a film that showcases some of the best that Marvel Studios has to offer along with some of their cringiest.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you have the main gist of it all — Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, has come to take her place on the throne of Asgard after Odin’s death releases her from the prison his life-force created.
As Odin’s firstborn, she is the strongest of his children, and she makes her mark within moments by destroying Mjolnir and sending Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into retreat. As the brothers attempt to teleport back to their homeworld with the help of the Bifröst Bridge, Hela follows them and send them off course.
Hela appears in Asgard, where her claim to the throne hits deaf ears — that’s what happens when an entire era’s history is wiped away or covered up. Viewed as an invading force, Asgard’s army tries to hold her at bay but fails miserably against Odin’s strongest child.
Continue reading “Heavy Metal — Thor: Ragnarok Review”
It only took 35 years for Hollywood to create a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner — a critical and commercial failure at launch that eventually turned into one of the most influential culture pieces this side of the 20th century.
Not that we asked for a continuation or a reboot — we all know know how those have turned out. Look at what’s happened to the Alien franchise. See Alien: Covenant review here.
When it was first announced, I had my reservations. Blade Runner is one of my most favorite movies. And while I was resigned to accept the notion that no sequel — spiritual or otherwise — would be as good as the first, news of Denis Villeneuve being attached to direct gave me hope that it could come close.
Continue reading “Ghost in the Machines — Blade Runner 2049 Review”
The battle and escape at Dunkirk was a defining point during the first stages of World War II — it ultimately rallied the British who were at one point considering a conditional surrender to Germany.
The safe return of 330,000 British and allied soldiers with the help of civilian forces spurred a counterpoint to Germany’s blitzkrieg that was pushing its way through Europe with relative ease.
While the film takes place during the harrowing hours before the retreat, Dunkirk isn’t a simple and linear retelling.
It’s a collection of parables that uses the event as a backdrop to explore the paradigm of human existence. Compressing time and space, Dunkirk is a microcosm of chaos, beauty, and the circle of human life.
The movie opens with a literal bang as German soldiers open fire on Allied troops who have, so far, maintained an uneasy and untenable position with their backs to the French oceanside in Dunkirk. A few hundred-thousand troops wait on the beach as, one by one, ships pick up the wounded first.
Continue reading “Life in Three Acts — Dunkirk Review”
Marvel Studios brought home a big prize back in 2015 when they announced they had partnered with Sony Pictures to bring Spider-Man into the MCU. The Internet broke, and hope was renewed that Marvel could one day bring back other franchises sold off to other studios during a time of financial crisis.
As celebration turned into speculation, Marvel explained they weren’t going to explore Spider-Man’s origin story and that his introduction would come in Captain America: Civil War. The cameo was stellar, and the hype for Homecoming (the title, not so much) went through the roof.
The single best decision for the movie was the exclusion of an origin story — which would have made it the third retelling in 15 years. Spider-Man: Homecoming arrives ready to go, and he’s a bit more evolved than any previous version’s first single-movie appearance.
Continue reading “Welcome Back — Spider-Man: Homecoming Review”
When an argument divides the Underground, will hope survive?
Now that Rick Jones’ cellphone has been decrypted, the Underground hears out what he found out about Steve Rogers and the Cosmic Cube that rewrote history. By gathering the pieces of the Cube, which have been scattered all over the planet, our heroes can restore history and return Captain America to the man he once was.
But they’ll have to beat Rogers to it. Sitting atop his throne, Captain America believes he can bring back the dead and set things right — his way of right — by restoring the Cube and using its power to make the world a better place according to Hydra’s precepts. Rogers orders Baron Zemo to scour the Earth and retrieve the fragments, no matter the cost — foreshadowing all sorts of things to come.
With the search begun, both sides now face a clock. Natasha Romanoff has her own ideas on how to stop Rogers, and it means assassinating him. Spider-Man Miles Morales joins her, accepting whatever fate may come. In case you missed it — Back in Civil War II, a vision of Morales standing over a dead Captain America left Miles and the Avengers team shaken and in disbelief. Morales knows he’s no killer, but he’s ready to see what the future holds.
Continue reading “Secret Empire #2 Review”
Never has an Alien movie felt so rote — so … familiar.
Looking back, each film in the series had something new or original to offer, even if the overall package was hit or miss.
The first two films are considered classics — rightly so and each for varying reasons. The first film, Alien, was a gripping horror movie that gave science fiction movies a new angle. Its sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens, went the more-is-better route, giving audiences a war movie pitting human forces against an overwhelming and superior company of predators.
Subsequent movies weren’t as well-received — Alien 3 went through numerous rewrites, and the final result felt like a letdown in contrast to what could have been. Alien: Resurrection went far into the future with a cloned Ripley and an interesting cast of characters, but it lacked the spirit of previous films.
And the prequel Prometheus tried to expand the lore while exploring religious and moral plot points. Many felt it was too convoluted and messy, while others critiqued it for silly characters who just couldn’t keep themselves from dying.
Continue reading “Diet Alien — Alien: Covenant Review”
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge success for Marvel, and I’m not just talking about box office receipts.
Naysayers worried about “the big risk” of making a movie with a talking raccoon and his companion, a talking tree with only one scripted line. It was the comic-book movie projected it to fail — a potentially huge failure to launch that had Hollywood analysts holding their heads in fear of the impending collapse of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe.
But Guardians of the Galaxy soared despite being one of Marvel’s lesser-known comic book titles, and viewers were treated to the best Star Wars movie of this generation (Rogue One included). That raccoon and talking tree became the talk of the town, and merchandise sales added more to Disney’s coffers. A sequel was inevitable — failure, or no — and thanks to the successes of the first, the onus to get audiences to buy in has been tabled and replaced with the freedom to build up and off characters, settings, and major threats.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 kicks off just as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and company get ready to fulfill their latest job — inter-dimensional pest-control. Buoyed by their success in taking out Rohan the Accuser, the team has become the go-to group for solving galaxy-sized problems.
Continue reading “Sophomore Slump — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review”