Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

Go See Interstellar

Insterstellar. Look, tinterstellar.thm_he title doesn’t say it all, but it gets the broad strokes. Every few years Christopher Nolan drops a special treat on us, and this film is no different.

The visuals are amazing, the scope is epic and the music is… Hans Zimmer because Zimmer is to Nolan what Elfman is to Burton. Zimmer knocks it out of the park with the score. Chris Nolan has a way of turning interesting concepts into gripping, engaging plots that never seem gimmicky (see Out Of Time) while serving the narrative–instead of the other way around.

Granted, this is a Nolan film, which means there are plot holes. And any Nolan fan worth her salt knows romance isn’t ever a strong point. And any Batman fan knows the fight scenes aren’t all that engaging. Nolan has always been more interested in what the fight is about symbolically and literally than what it looks like. I’ve never gotten why it can’t be both, but whatever.

Nolan, true to form, creates a film that overcomes or sidesteps most of these problems while doing cool new things. Without getting too spoilery, I love the robots in this movie, aside from an unintuitively useful design (shocked they were so useful). I always get a little bummed when the machines turn evil or have a duplicitous function. I like thinking that robots can assist humanity in exploration rather than just infect us with xenomorph semen.

And there’s a lot of stuff just under the surface. Themes about family play against ideas of humanity’s abstract future, and there’s more than a hint of spiritual metaphysics playing against a very specific scientific ideas. And more than a few ideas about man’s struggle against his own inner demons. Not to mention all of the homages to other great science fiction. And that suspense, right? I was on the edge of my seat the whole movie.

So yeah, go see Interstellar.

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What Batman Means to Me.

In honor of the 75th Anniversary of Batman, I’ve decided to write about my favorite hero of all time, The Caped Crusader.

"You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

“You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

One my fondest childhood nerd memories was when I went to see Tim Burton’s 1989 classic (and I legitimately mean that), Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I was only six or seven at the time, but for me it was a life-changing experience. The moment when he was holding the purse-snatching thug over the side of the building and the thug frantically asks, “What are you?”, and Gotham’s Dark Knight replied in his fearsome, non-just-gargled-glass tone, “I’m Batman.” He then tossed the terrified scumbag back to the roof and leaped off into the shadows of the city. I had goosebumps when I first experienced that scene and have every time since then. That was the moment when I knew Batman was my superhero, the hero that would forever be the paramount of all heroes. None would ever compare to him and none have, save for The Doctor, who could ever only tie with him.

Just in case you need your memory jogged, this is the moment:

Growing up, I was a Batman fanatic. I had toys, I had t-shirts, I had comic books and anything else I could get my hands on. I was obsessed. I used to run around the yard or the playground pretending to be Batman. I would sit and watch reruns of the ’60s Batman television series with Adam West and Burt Ward. When I received an original Game Boy for Christmas one year, one of the first games I got was Batman: Return of the Joker. I almost wore out the cartridge playing from playing it so much. I lost count of how many times that I beat the Joker. I could not get enough of Batman.

He was the best kind of hero: incredibly intelligent and clever, strong, agile, trained in many styles of martial arts, and resourceful. He was rich, which when I was a kid, was freaking sweet. He was a detective, using his brains to solve crimes instead of running around beating the confessions out criminals. He had the best costume in comic books. And he didn’t kill, which I tend to disagree with every now and then, but it’s an admirable gesture. My favorite thing about him was that he was human. He wasn’t a super-powered alien or a robot or a god, nor was he given powers by some sort freak accident. He was just a regular guy using his brain and the gadgets he made to clean up the streets of Gotham.

Batman: The Animated Series [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Batman: The Animated Series [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Throughout the years, my admiration has never wavered, never faltered. Even with some less than desirable mishaps in the adaptations of the character (Batman & Robin), I’ve always stayed true. Thankfully, there have been more good than bad when it comes to Batman on the big and small screens.

For example, Batman: The Animated Series, which is widely regarded as the best adaptation of the Dark Knight ever to be created. I wholeheartedly agree. The superior writing, the phenomenal animation work by Bruce Timm, and the outstanding voice acting from Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker) that will forever be ingrained into the memory banks of every fan of the show. If you haven’t watched every episode of that entire series at least once, you haven’t truly lived. I mean seriously…what have you been doing with your life?!

Here’s one of my favorite episode’s, Joker’s Favor:

Batman TAS – 1×22 – Joker’s Favor

Most, if not all, of the other animated version have been exceptionally entertaining but none so much as Batman: TAS. It’s quite difficult to live up to its perfection. The Batman, Batman Beyond, The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2, and pretty much any other animated version that came out were all done remarkably well, especially Batman Beyond. It was essentially a sequel to TAS, but its story took place in a future Gotham where Batman had become to old and broken to continue on. He had hung up his cape and cowl and chose to retire until a young man by the name of Terry McGinnis came along and took up the mantle. Once again, the series was blessed with excellent writers, stories, characters, and voice actors, which makes this series a close second to the greatness of TAS. Will Friedle (Eric Matthews from Boy Meets World) was a fantastic choice to voice Terry. Beyond is another series that needs to be viewed multiple times just because it’s that good. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, an animated movie continuation of the series, is a top notch choice for multiple viewings. For a children’s animated film, it was actually somewhat disturbing, but not in a bad way.

The movies were another story though. They started off really well and then descended on a downward spiral with each sequel. Tim Burton brought Batman to life in 1989 with the first of two films (Batman Returns being the second), starring Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight. Keaton’s Batman is my absolute favorite version of the character. To me, he was the perfect Bruce Wayne and Batman. He was dark and menacing, charming and aloof, heroic and fearless, all when needed to be. The films were dark in their tone, just as they should’ve been, and the villains were amazing: Jack Nicholson as The Joker, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin created three of the best villains ever to grace the screen.

Then 1995 came along, Tim Burton and Michael Keaton didn’t want to continue doing the films, so Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer took over as director and star, respectively. Things changed rather quickly with Batman Forever. The scenery was dark but not as dreary, everything turned neon and bright, and the villains became a little more over the top. They introduced an older Robin, changed Harvey Dent from black to white, and cast Jim Carrey as the Riddler. Actually, Carrey’s version of the Riddler was one of my favorites. Yes it was a bit over the top, but if you pay close attention, it’s not hard to tell that it’s a homage to Frank Gorshin’s version from ’60s series. I don’t hate this film, I rather enjoy it.

Now as for 1997’s Batman & Robin, that’s a whole ‘nother story. I despise this poorly-written, over-acted, over-the-top, campy, cartoonish piece of trash with all of my being. George Clooney became Batman, Alicia Silverstone became Batgirl (and also Alfred’s niece, not the Commissioner’s daughter), Uma Thurman hammed it up as Poison Ivy, Bane became a mindless henchman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger took a huge dump on my favorite Batman villain, Mr. Freeze. HUGE DUMP. I have never been so appalled by a film in all my life, and it’s mostly because of his performance. It makes me sick just thinking about it.  This film is such a blemish on the film history of Batman that most fans, including myself, completely disregard it as part of the series. It makes Phantom Menace look like Citizen Kane.

Awful. Just awful. [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Awful. Just awful. [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Luckily, eight years later, Christopher Nolan came along and rebooted the films with Batman Begins. In doing so, he also restored my faith in cinema as well as humanity. This film essentially brought Batman out of the comic book and into the real world. Nolan gave the Batman mythos depth and grounded it in reality, making viewers feel as Batman was flesh and blood and not some cartoon character. Begins was the start of one the best film trilogies ever, followed by The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Christian Bale did a remarkable job with the characters of Batman and Bruce Wayne, although his Batman voice did need a bit of work. He was able to capture the character in a way that rivaled what Keaton had done before. And with TDK, we were graced with the greatest interpretation of The Joker that we may ever see, thanks to the late Heath Ledger. Such a sadistic and homicidal, yet still hilarious, version that even Jack Nicholson’s version pales in comparison. And I will fight anyone who says differently (not really though). It was a sad day when Nolan declared that he would not be continuing with the series after the third film, after he had done such amazing things with it already. An even sadder day came when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be taking over as Batman, but that’s a rant for another time.

And let’s not forget about the games, mainly just the Arkham series, because pretty much every other Batman game has sucked. Except for Batman: Return of the Joker for the original Gameboy, of course. If you want to experience what it’s like to be Batman but don’t have billions of dollars to buy all the gear and don’t feel like getting the crap kicked out of you, then play the Arkham series. Well written, well designed, and they brought back Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill! Truly some of the best games ever made and worth every minute you’ll spend completely engrossed in them.

But I think I may have gotten off topic… What Batman means to me. For me, and I know this may sound corny, Batman has always been a hero. He’s a sign of hope in even the most grim of situations. A light in the darkness, if you will, even though he dwells in the darkness. He’s justice when there is none, courage in a city that is drowning in fear, strength even when the world breaks your back and leaves you for dead. As a kid, when I was afraid, pretending to be him or asking myself “What would Batman Do?” helped me to overcome a great deal of fear. Some might say there are other real heroes to look up to, but to me, he was real. He was the hero I needed in the worst of times. He was a mortal human who fought a great deal of injustice and super-powered villains and never faltered. He just kept fighting. He’d keep going if it killed him. He was and always will be a great protector. And in my opinion will always be a greater and more powerful hero than Superman ever could be. The fact that he could die at any moment, be killed by any foe he faces, and yet he continues fighting and protecting and making sure justice is served, without killing, is what makes him so incredible. Out of his greatest tragedy (the murder of his parents), he has gathered the courage and strength to become the greatest hero that Gotham, and the world, has ever seen. And because of that he has become the one of the greatest heroes many in the real world, including myself, have ever seen.

To me, Batman is courage, strength, hope, determination, intelligence, kindness, justice, and so many other wonderful things that have helped make me the person I am today. And I will continue to use what I have learned for the rest of my days. I will pass this knowledge on to my children and I will teach them about the greatness of Batman and how truly spectacular he is and what they can learn from him. He will forever be a part of who I am.

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The Dawn of 22 Interstellar Apes on Jump street (or Something Like That)

Recently, three trailers have been released that have me pretty excited for the new year of movies. Two serious, intelligent science fiction films and an college humor-filled action/comedy. I’m hoping these films are a sign of good things to come to the theaters in 2014.

First off, the new Christopher Nolan masterpiece, Interstellar. The film stars Matthew McConaughey (thankfully he’s given up on chick flicks) as a member of a group of explorers who use a wormhole to go beyond the limits of human space travel and conquer the vast reaches of space that mankind has been unable to travel to.

It’s a Christopher Nolan film about space travel in the unknown reaches of space that mankind has never traveled to before. That’s enough for me to want to see it. It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen in the film. It’s certain that there won’t be any laughable alien encounters, which is a good thing. I think it’s about time we had a more “realistic” space exploration film. And hope McConaughey will give an Oscar-worthy performance that we all know he’s capable of.

Here’s the teaser trailer:

 

Next up, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes continues where the first film left off. A virus has devastated the globe, leaving humans outnumbered and fighting for survival against a growing race of genetically evolved apes.

I’m a fan of the first film and have been looking forward to this film for a while. And with the addition of Gary Oldman to the cast, things just got even better. Any film can be great but if you add Gary Oldman, the film will be fantastic. I know I’ve complained about remake/reboots before but this is one I can live with.

Here’s the first, exciting trailer:

 

And last but not least, the sequel to the laugh-out-loud hilarious action/comedy hit, 21 Jump Street. And it has one of the best titles for a sequel ever, 22 Jump Street! Clever, right?

Let me just start off by saying that I am not a fan of Channing Tatum. I think that he is a sub-par actor who can be funny at times and he should have not been the actor to play Duke in the G.I. Joe films, but he was hilarious in the first film. He and Jonah Hill were an incredible comedic pairing and I hope they can duplicate the magic they made in the first film. And they brought back Ice Cube! Win. In this film, they’re headed to college to stop a new drug that’s emerging before it’s too late.

Here’s the side-splitting new trailer (try not to pee yourself from laughing too hard):

 

What films in 2014 are you looking forward to? Leave your answers in the comments section.

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Another Origin Story?!

Man of steel oneI’ve read a lot of comments on various forums in the wake of the latest trailer for Man of Steel, and a lot of them had the same thing to say: “Why are they doing his origin story again!?” At first, I wanted to echo the sentiment. Come on, Superman is arguably the most popular character that was created in the 20th century. EVERYONE knows who Superman is and where he came from, right?

Then, I decided to do a quick survey of  my non-comic-book-reading friends and family. I simply asked them to tell me what they knew of Superman’s origin story. Some people got it exactly right. Most got it partially right. A few people got it completely wrong.

So, there’s part one of my argument for another origin story. New people are getting introduced to the Superman character all the time. A lot of people will buy tickets to watch  Man of Steel simply because “The Director of The Dark Knight” is attached to every trailer and movie poster. We who have seen a Superman cartoon, read a Superman comic, or even seen a Superman movie are in the minority here.

We are currently living in a geek golden age, so it’s hard to not be selfish when we get movies about things we love, but movies are made for a much wider audience than just we geeks.

I would argue that Superman is one of the greatest literary characters ever written. I know that some people hate Superman because he is a “boy scout” or whatnot. But, seriously, he ushered in a new era of modern mythology. His story is pretty timeless–a special person finds out that he is special, and has to figure out what to do with his specialness. Sometimes the story is about what a god does when he is among humans. In any event, it’s interesting, thematic, and he has a cool cape.

When other great works of literature are adapted for the screen, I see very few people complaining about it. When Les Miserables was coming out in theaters, I saw a whole lot of excitement. When Pride and Prejudice  gets adapted for the screen (again!) I also don’t see a lot of complaints. Retelling and re-imagining stories and characters is about as old as storytelling itself. Just because the new Man of Steel film is retelling an origin doesn’t automatically make it invalid.

Comic book guyDoes the geek response to Superman’s origins perhaps stem from the insular nature of the geek community? You know on The Big Bang Theory (which I hate, by the way, but that’s another article for another time) when the characters looks really put out because another character doesn’t understand the love for Dungeons and Dragons or comic books? I’ve seen that happen in real life. I’ve known people who have gotten mocked because they really wanted to get into comic book but didn’t know where to start. There was the big controversy about people denouncing “fake geek girls” because they didn’t know every detail about your favorite superhero. Or, how about people who want to start playing Dungeons and Dragons, but the jerk DM acts like the new player has to know every obscure rule in the core rulebook before they can play?

Geeks can be jerks. Plain and simple. A lot of geeks of my generation and older got openly mocked for enjoying comic books or Dungeons and Dragons. But, it’s the cool to like those things now. The Avengers was a huge movie hit. Batman movies have done really well. And now that geeks are on top, we’re starting to get selective as to who can be “one of us.”

And it needs to stop. You may have been picked on by other people for what you liked at one time or another, but that doesn’t give you the moral high ground in every situation going forward. If you are bullying people for not knowing a whole lot about your chosen hobby, you need to stop. You’re being a jerk. I don’t care if you had your head dunked in toilets. I don’t care if your towel was stolen while you were in the gym shower. Or any number of awful things happened to you simply because you liked something that other people didn’t. I’m sorry those things happened to you. I really am. It still doesn’t mean that you get to awful to other people.

PadawanHere’s a thought; know some potential geeklings that want to get into something you’re really knowledgeable about? Are you a master DM that knows a person that wants to try some RPGs? Got a friend that doesn’t know where to start with reading comic books? Mentor them. Be their dork Jedi Master. Show them around. Introduce them to your friends. Defend them if they get mocked. Just be a generally awesome person.

So what does my rant have to do with Superman’s origin story? There have been many times when after a friend saw a superhero movie, I was asked to help them find good comics to read. Now, I could’ve mocked them for not knowing what to read, and thereby felt like an alpha geek; instead, I helped them find some good comics, and now they are a part of a hobby I love. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to see Man of Steel. And if you’re a comic book geek and reading this, maybe you can introduce someone you love to graphic storytelling.

How is that not better for the hobby? We need to move our hobby from being so geekily inbred. We desperately need new blood. New fans can equal great things in the future. They might go on to develop new hobbies that you love. But, only if you’ve not slammed the door in their face before they reached for the knob.

In other words, Golden Rule time, everyone. Be kind. You’ll never know where you simple act of not being a jerk will get you. And, for goodness’ sake, enjoy the fact that so many geeky properties are getting so much attention. It won’t last forever.

 

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The Fate of the Justice League Movie

According to some online sources [here and here], the fate of the upcoming Justice League film (and by upcoming, I mean a few years from now) depends on the success of the new Superman film, Man of Steel. So any DC fans out there who have been eagerly anticipating a Justice League film to compete with Marvel’s The Avengers, whether you believe in a god or not, should probably start praying. Not to mention, plan on seeing Man of Steel whether it sucks or not.

Superman himself doesn't look too sure about the WB's decision.

Superman himself doesn’t look too sure about the WB’s decision.

Now as I’ve said before that I’m looking forward to the new Superman flick. I think it will be phenomenal. Excellent cast, director, producer, and Hans Zimmer. I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of it, but that’s just me. It’s gonna take a lot more than just me for this this to be successful enough to convince Warner Bros to greenlight a JLA film, as well as any other DC superhero films to follow (ahem…Aquaman!). And given the success of past Superman films, the JLA film’s fate seems a bit shaky. I don’t think there’s been a successful one since maybe Superman II. Even Smallville was a bit rocky at times. That whole season with “Doomsday” made me want the CW to cancel the series. So banking on Superman to save the day might be a longshot.

I haven’t really had much faith in a Justice League movie happening in a while anyway. The only successful character on the big screen has been Batman (obviously), no one else can touch him. Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns bombed, Green Lantern flopped, and no one can get a Flash movie going. Wonder Woman can’t even get a pilot on TV, let alone a movie. Green Arrow’s doing alright on the small screen, but the Oliver Queen/Super Max movie is pretty much canned. And Aquaman gets no respect whatsoever in any media, except for maybe the New 52. So yeah, I haven’t really had much hope or anything to give me any hope in a JLA film in a while. Plus, DC and Warner Bros seem to be scrambling to get this film made just because the Avengers and all the other Marvel films did so well and they wanna make money too.

Wait….didn’t Warner have the Harry Potter movies, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, and The Dark Knight Trilogy? Those were all done well and time was taken with each of them, so why rush JLA? Geeks and nerds aren’t going anywhere and superheroes aren’t a passing fad. They’ll be around. But if you piss them off by making their heroes look like crap, they won’t be as dedicated and won’t be as will to fork over their money. Think about that.

Could/should JGL be the right Batman for the JLA movie?

Could/should JGL be the right Batman for the JLA movie?

Take the time and build the back-stories on some of the characters that people don’t know as much about. You’ve done enough with Batman for now, let him rest. You can’t have Bale, but you’ve got Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he’ll do pretty damn well, even though I really want him to be Nightwing or Batman Beyond. Fix Green Lantern – recast, let Ryan Reynolds be Deadpool and find someone else. Give Aquaman and Flash their due and find someone that can make Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter work on the big screen. Honestly, I’d save Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter’s films for after the JLA movie.

Again, I have faith that Man of Steel will be huge. Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan have never let me down, and I’m really hoping for a super-sweet Superman/General Zod fight. I’m sure they’ll deliver it. But banking everything on a Superman film is like shooting fish in a barrel. Batman did do well because it’s easier for people to connect with Batman. Yes, he’s a millionaire, but underneath it all, he’s still human. Superman just acts human. Deep down, he’s essentially a god and people have a tough time connecting with that…unless you’re egotistical like Kanye West.

I may have said the majority of this before, but it needs to be reiterated as Warner Bros gets closer to making the final decision. Pull your heads from your collective asses and things properly. It’ll pay off more in the end.

But anyway, here’s the Man of Steel trailer. You should go see it. Not to up the chances of JLA being made but because it looks frickin’ awesome!

 

[featured image source: Alex Ross]

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Dear Heath Ledger…You Are Missed.

January 22nd of this year marked the five year anniversary of the death of Heath Ledger. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. It feels like it was just yesterday the news was breaking on Ledger’s body being found in the SoHo apartment of Mary-Kate Olsen, dead of an apparent overdose. Autopsies would later discover that it was an accidental overdose from the misuse of multiple prescription drugs. It’s the way many Hollywood stars have gone out, but it was definitely not the way many fans had expected him to die. Heath was one of the actors that were expected to live many years a grow into a respected actor and Hollywood legend, much like Clint Eastwood or Tommy Lee Jones. Instead, he’s become one of the Tinseltown tragedies, much like River Pheonix. Gone too soon, just as his star was on the rise.

Rest in Peace, Heath.

Rest in Peace, Heath.

I’m sure most people’s first experience with Heath Ledger was from his performance in 10 Things I Hate About You, where he played the high school rebel trying to “tame the high school shrew” so another guy could date her sister. From there, he wowed us in The Patriot, Monster’s Ball, and the modern-day/medieval mashup A Knight’s Tale. After that, he starred in a few less than successful but still quite wonderful films; The Four Feathers, The Order, Ned Kelly, and Casanova.

Next, he co-starred in The Brothers Grimm with Matt Damon. The film, directed by Terry Gilliam, is one of my absolute favorites. It’s the not-so-true story of Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm, a couple of con artists posing as witch hunters who find themselves in deep trouble when they must hunt down and kill a real witch for a French general or be killed themselves. It’s a quirky and eccentric film combining elements and characters from all the Grimm Fairy Tales into a story that only Terry Gilliam can tell. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

Following that, he made Lords of Dogtown, where he played Skip Engblom, one of the creators of legendary skateboarding team, the Z-Boys.

His next film, Brokeback Mountain, brought a bit of controversy for his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar, a cowboy turned gay cowboy. The film drew much critical and box office success and earned Heath Ledger, as well as his co-star Jake Gyllenhaal, some much due acclaim (and I’m sure some good natured ribbing).

He followed up the success of Brokeback with a couple indie films, Candy and I’m Not There. In I’m Not There, he portrayed a persona of Bob Dylan during a period in his life. He shared the screen with five other actors to tell six different stories in Dylan’s life.

09 heath_ledger_as_joker_wallpaper_-_1280x1024

The Clown Prince of Crime.

And then there was The Dark Knight. One of the greatest comic movies ever made, if not the greatest, and it was in part because of Ledger’s performance as The Joker. No other actor has captured the character quite like Ledger did. He lost himself in the character to the point where you didn’t even recognize him. You didn’t see Ledger, you saw The Joker. This was the greatest performance of what would be a very short career that should have been a jumping-off point for a long and fruitful career. And it was Ledger’s loss of himself in the character that may have lead to his untimely demise, but that’s neither here nor there.

This role would usher Ledger into the pantheon of legendary actors and make it very difficult for any other actor to ever portray The Joker ever again. It also made it very difficult for Christopher Nolan to continue The Joker story line in his Dark Knight Trilogy which saddened many die-hard Batman fans, including myself.

His final performance was in another Terry Gilliam film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, where he portrayed a conman on the run for embezzling money through a charity. He hides out with a small troupe of traveling performers whose leader just happens to be immortal. The film, also one of my favorites, was more surreal and trippy than The Brothers Grimm and just as successful; I mean it’s more of a cult classic than a box office success. But even without the commercial success, it and The Dark Knight were excellent performances for Ledger to end his career. His performance as The Joker did win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously.

He was a star that burned out too soon. An incredible actor, father, and all-around wonderful personality that was taken from the world all too soon, leaving a void that will never be filled by another actor. In a sea of talentless hacks, it seems to be the talented ones that seem to be the first that sink when they should be soaring high above the waves, like a proud seagull or something. I’m not all that good with sentimental analogies.

Heath Ledger…You will always be missed.

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What 2013 Has to Offer on the Big Screen

I thought I’d take a moment this week to briefly look at what’s hitting the box office this year and give a quick prediction on the outcome of each.

  1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – January 25th. Premise: Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) play the fairy tale brother and sister who are all grown up and have become professional witch hunters. Prediction: Van Helsing meets Brothers Grimm, which means a lot of action with an intriguing story but hopefully with more Grimm and less Helsing.
  2. John Dies at the End – January 25th. Premise: You take a drug, it sends you through time and space, you might come back normal, or you might come back as something else. Something otherworldly. Now the world is in danger of a sinister invasion and it’s up to two college dropouts to save it. Prediction: Dude, Where’s My Car? meets Buckaroo Banzai but with Paul Giamatti for added effect. Definitely worth a viewing, high or not.
  3. A Good Day to Die Hard – February 15th. Premise: John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his son travel to Russia to fight Russians and stop a nuclear weapons heist. Prediction: I think it might be getting to the point where it might be a good idea for John to die. Hard.
  4. Warm Bodies – February 1st. Premise: A zombie becomes human again through the power of love, other zombies follow suit. Possible hilarity, horror, and action ensues. Prediction: I think someone might be trying to “Twilight-ize” zombies. Let’s hope not.
  5. Oz: The Great and Powerful – March 8th. Premise: A prequel to The Wizard of Oz telling the story of how Oz (James Franco) becomes the Wizard. And it’s directed by Sam Raimi. Win win. Predictions: I think this film will be fantastic and be the magical wonder that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland failed to be.
  6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – March 29th. Premise: All but a few Joes are killed off by Cobra. Now it’s up to the remaining Joes (The Rock, Channing Tatum, some other people), including the original Joe (Bruce Willis) to, for lack of a better word, retaliate. Prediction: Hopefully this film will offer some retribution for the let down that was G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.
  7. Evil Dead – April 12th. Premise: A remake of the original with a female lead (Jane Levy) in place of Bruce Campbell’s Ash. It’s also promising less humor and schtick and more blood and gore. Sounds promising. Predictions: Hardcore fans will be difficult to convince, but from what I’ve seen so far of this flick, they’ll be won over. It looks wicked.
  8. Iron Man 3 – May 3rd. Premise: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) returns to take on his greatest foe yet, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). From the looks of things, this might be the Dark Knight Rises of the Iron Man series. Ya know, a very powerful foe shows up, strips him of everything, and then Tony must find the hero in himself to defeat his enemy. This also begins Marvel’s Phase II. Prediction: Probably won’t be the best of the three films but I’m sure it’ll outdo Iron Man 2. And make Marvel a lot of money.
  9. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th. Premise: Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the Enterprise crew return to take on a most deadly foe, possibly Kahn, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Prediction: This film will be epic, just like the first, and seeing Benedict as a bad guy is going to be sweet. This is a can’t miss flick.
  10. Now You See Me – June 7th. Premise: A film about bank-robbing illusionists, directed by Louis Leterrier and scored by The Chemical Brothers. Enough said. Prediction: I have a feeling this is going to be one of those twist-and-turns, mind-f*ck types of film. But with bank-robbing illusionists.
  11. Much Ado About Nothing – June 7th. Premise: Joss Whedon adapted this classic Shakespearean tale while making The Avengers. He cast it with people from Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and The Avengers. He made it because of his insecurities with taking on a huge project like The Avengers. It’s Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare….do I really need to say anything else? Prediction: I love Joss Whedon. I love Shakespeare. Without even seeing it, I love this film.
  12. Man of Steel – June 14th. Premise: Zack Snyder directs, Christopher Nolan produces, and a bunch of great actors star in what is sure to be the best Superman film ever. And a film that will hopefully restart the series and lead into a Justice League film. Prediction: The more I see of this, the more I believe that this film will be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. But I’ve been wrong before.
  13. World War Z – June 21st. Premise: Brad Pitt stars in this adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel about a U.N. employee trying to stop a worldwide zombie outbreak. Prediction: I’m pretty much done with the whole zombie genre, and I haven’t read the book, so I’ll probably wait until this comes out on Blu-ray.
  14. Pacific Rim – July 12th. Premise: Guillermo del Toro writes and directs this film about giant robots fighting to save the world from giant alien monsters. Prediction: I was sold at Guillermo del Toro. The rest is just icing on the cake.
  15. wolverine_jackman_660The Wolverine – July 26th. Premise: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to train with samurais and take on a powerful new foe, The Silver Samurai. Prediction: This has to be better than Wolverine Origins. If not, I give up on Hugh Jackman. And Wolverine.
  16. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – August 16th. Premise: Part 2 of the series finds Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends searching for the mythical Golden Fleece. Prediction: I enjoyed the first film, so I may go see this one. I’m hoping this film will fill some of the void that Harry Potter left, but I doubt it.
  17. Riddick – September 6th. Premise: Vin Diesel returns to his most badass character to take on new alien predators, new mercs, and an old foe. Prediction: I will watch this film because I love the others. I will hope this film is the last in the series because I don’t want this series to be run into the ground like Diesel’s other popular series, Fast and Furious.
  18. Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers – September 27th. Premise: Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) discovers that the machine he’s created is still creating food-animal hybrids and wreaking havoc. Now it’s up to him to stop it once and for all. Prediction: If you don’t like the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you have no soul. No but seriously, the first film was hilarious and great for the whole family. This one will be too. I can’t wait.
  19. Oldboy – October 11th. Premise: Spike Lee’s remake of the ultraviolent Korean cult classic about a man (Josh Brolin) who has five days to figure out why he was imprisoned for 15 years without explanation. Prediction: Of all the films on the list, this is one I’m looking forward to the most. I love the original, and I cannot wait for this remake.
  20. The World’s End – October 25th. Premise: Edgar Wright directs a film about five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. Prediction: This is the final film in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “blood and ice cream” trilogy, so I hope it’ll be pretty damn good. I have a feeling it will be.
  21. Ender’s Game – November 1st. Premise: Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. Prediction: Die-hard scifi fans will go ape over this film and then probably rip it apart. That’s how it works. I want to read the book before I watch it.
  22. Thor: The Dark World – November 8th. Premise: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness. Prediction: Part two of Marvel’s Phase II looks to be another epic win with the addition of Doctor Who number nine as a baddie. Get ready to nerd out, kids.
  23. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13th. Premise: The journey continues for the Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as they seek to retrieve their gold from the dragon, Smaug (voice by Benedict Cumberbatch). Prediction: Do I really need to predict anything for this? People will flock and empty their wallets for this film. We all know what’s going to happen.
  24. Anchorman: The Legend Continues – December 20th. Premise: The Channel 4 News Team returns for more crazy on-set adventures. Predictions: Probably won’t be a hilarious as the first but I’m sure it will be freakin’ hilarious! And filled with many great one-liners that will be quoted for years to come.

I know I’ve missed a few films here and there, but I don’t really care. I think the list is long enough as it is now. It doesn’t need any more.

What films are you looking forward to this year?

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I’m Anti-Superman, and Even I Want to See Man Of Steel

Well, I’m not completely Anti-Superman.

When it comes to comic book films, I typically want to give the film a chance even if it looks like it might be completely horrible. But, right from the beginning, I knew Man Of Steel was going to be extremely epic. That’s saying a lot, because I don’t like Superman. I mean, I mostly don’t like the character himself.

Generally, the incarnations of Superman on film I’m all for. The first three films with Christopher Reeve, Smallville, and the newer animated features and series are some really entertaining and definitely worth viewing. I even slightly enjoyed Superman Returns, even though he was kinda stalkerish and somehow, by the sheer force of will, I’m guessing, moved an island of Kryptonite. I call BS on that one, but whatever. I also enjoy Superman in print (Red Son was fantastic!), but I just enjoy seeing him come to life on screen more.

I’m a Batman fan, however. Always have been, always will be. I enjoy his human side, the fact that he’s not essentially a god. I also like the fact that almost anything can kill him, but he still keeps being a badass.

Superman has a limited number of vulnerabilities. Kryptonite…that’s it. Once you have Kryptonite, anything can kill him. But if you don’t have it, forget it. You can be stronger than him, but that probably isn’t going to work.

Characters like Superman have always been on the bottom of my favorites list.

However, after watching the trailer for Man Of Steel, I think I may grow to like Superman a little bit more.

[Image source: Warner Bros.]

I knew from the beginning, this film was going to be pretty solid. Zack Snyder is directing, Christopher Nolan is producing, and Henry Cavill is in the lead role. Damn fine start. (If you haven’t watched Immortalsby now, you should check it out.)

Then, the cast started growing and so did my excitement. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Ma and Pa Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and Amy Adams as Lois Lane. You could not have a better cast than this. I’m probably gonna catch hate for saying this, but the Man of Steel cast rivals the casting for Nolan’s Batman series. It’s a close call. And then to top it off, they get Hans Zimmer to score the film. Done. This film is solid freakin’ gold!

The newest trailer for the film has me more excited than ever, and it’s primarily because it looks like Snyder and Nolan are attempting to show more of Superman’s human side and not just the god-like superhero side that we’re all accustomed to.

I think this might be the most excited I’ve been for a Superman film, maybe even a comic book film in a while…at least since The Dark Knight, anyway.

Here’s the trailer:

Pretty phenomenal, right? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Man Of Steel opens June 14, 2013

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Comic Book Movies: Marvel’s Future Looks Bright, DC’s Looks Dim

Pardon me whilst I rant for a moment.

So what does DC have now that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is done? Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel? A Justice League movie? That seems to be about it. What does Marvel have? Sequels to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, plus a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Advantage: Marvel.

Even though I’m hopeful for the new Superman film (due to Snyder directing, Nolan producing, and the amazing cast it has), I’m still quite fearful for DC. Their Wonder Woman show didn’t even make it off the ground, their Flash movie is constantly stuck in limbo, and Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max is never going to happen. And let’s not forget the bomb that was Green Lantern. Yeah, they’re not exactly knocking ’em outta the park. They have plans for Hawkman and Aquaman movies, and there are even rumors that they may even reboot Batman AGAIN, but they probably won’t happen until the Justice League movie gets released, which may or may not ever happen. Other than Man of Steel, the only thing they really have going for them is Arrow on the CW, and honestly that’s only there to fill the void that Smallville left when it ended its 10-season run. Not that I think it will or anything.

DC has really got to step-up their game in order to catch up with Marvel. Now, I know that Nolan’s Batman trilogy has made billions of dollars, and those movies are pretty much three of the greatest comic book adaptations ever made, but seriously, that’s only one character. Marvel is having major success with multiple characters. The Avengers (in solo and joint films) are kicking ass and taking names in the box office and there’s only more success to come. As I mentioned, all the sequels, as well as an Ant-Man film, and a Daredevil reboot should be in the works sometime soon thanks to film rights reverting back to Marvel from FOX. There’s even a new Hulk television series in the works, as well as AKA Jessica Jones, Mockingbird, Cloak and Dagger, and The Punisher. Advantage: Marvel.

I know some of you reading this are gonna say, “Well Marvel has made some crappy films! Ever heard of Ghost Rider?” Yes I have. But Ghost Rider, as well as its sequel, came from FOX. As did X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Wolverine Origins. Spider-man 3 came from Sony and I believe Blade: The Series came from New Line. See what I’m saying here. Marvel Studios makes the good stuff, that’s who I’m talking about. The actual crap-tastic films have come from other studios. Once Marvel decided to go into the film production business for themselves, things got better. And it didn’t hurt that they were bought by Disney and now have their backing. But I’m not saying DC should step away from Warner Bros. and start producing their own stuff, although it is an idea.

What I’m saying (and I realize that I haven’t actually pointed this out yet) is that DC needs to stop trying to do things the Marvel way. They don’t need to make a Justice League film right now, they just need to make better movies. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises were all steps in the right direction. Man of Steel might be as well. And a few solid steps are all you need to get off and running, but don’t rush and trip up. Start working with better directors and writers, cast your characters properly, keep things smart and realistic (or as realistic as you possibly can),  and stay true to the comics (solid stories have already been written, you just have to look for them). This is all DC has to do and [most] fans will be happy. [Editor’s note: Die-hard fans can never be pleased. NEVER.] Get to work on The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman movies. Don’t worry about rebooting Batman for a long time. And if Christian Bale won’t play him in the Justice League movie, get someone else who will do him justice [pun intended]. But don’t worry about his backstory, I think by now we’ve got that part figured out.

I mean c’mon, who wouldn’t want to see a movie about these two? [image property: DC Comics]

Stop worrying about quantity and start worrying about quality, DC. Once you do that, the money will just roll in. Sure Marvel has a good lead on you, but that’ll happen when your only opposition is sitting with their heads up their butts, waiting for a miracle to happen. Well your miracle happened, his name is Christopher Nolan. Follow his example, make better comic book movies, and stop screwing around.

And would it kill you to make a Booster Gold/Blue Beetle flick?

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