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It’s often said that the writers on Lost were just making it up as they went along; weaving the most impossible scenarios into the yarns of the story, hoping an explanation or ending might surface after-the-fact.
If that is, in fact, how Lost was written, it’s easy to argue that Damon Lindelof‘s latest writing venture takes the opposite approach. With a script credited to Lindelof, Jeff Jensen, and director Brad Bird, Tomorrowland feels like a concept or idea (or a philosophy, even) that was fleshed out into 15 minutes of story in the writers’ room. That 15 minutes of story was nestled into the movie’s ending, and 90 minutes of “robots-are-chasing-you-run!” were tacked on ahead of it. A movie that knew where it wanted to go, but had no idea how to get there.
Given the movie’s title and inspiration, it’s awfully hard not to compare it to one of Disney’s rides – waiting more than an hour for an experience that lasts minutes.
The premise of Tomorrowland centers around Casey (Britt Robertson), a rebellious, intelligent teenager who has a knack for understanding how things work. When Casey is gifted a mysterious pin by a child named Athena (Raffey Cassidy), she realizes she has a key to another world where ambitious minds can meet. She enlists the help of a grumpy man named Frank (George Clooney) to help her escape a gang of robots that have started chasing her for the pin (…it’s genuinely as abrupt as it sounds), and they work together to get back to Tomorrowland.
It’s also worth mentioning that several people (primarily bystanders) die on-screen in Tomorrowland, but the violence is glossed over so quickly that it’s simultaneously jarring and forgettable. I’m not opposed to violence showing up in movies, but I prefer if it has a purpose in the story. Here it’s to show that bad robots are bad. Got it? Bad robots. Bad.
It’s not all bad stuff, mind you – the movie’s peak features a Home Alone style house that’s been booby-trapped by Clooney’s character – but after several successful directorial efforts from Bird, including The Incredibles, it’s hard not to consider this one a misfire.
The break-out success of this film, if anything is to be remembered from it, will likely be Robertson’s performance. For a hollow character in a hollow film, Robertson manages to lend enough personal ticks and mannerisms to Casey to make her likable. It may not be a particularly challenging part, but Robertson’s Jennifer-Lawrence-like persona shines through.
Lindelof has already taken to the press to say that this is a movie fanboys will be too cynical to like. While it’s true that Tomorrowland offers a more optimistic look at our future, rather than pining over a world of zombies and destruction, I don’t think it’s the premise that will kill the film’s good will. In fact, I think that’s one of the few and only reasons I’ve seen cited for people enjoying it.
Instead, Tomorrowland spends the majority of it’s running time on bad action (pro-tip: don’t see this movie right after Mad Max: Fury Road) and then decides to clumsily tell, rather than show, its message in a few final moments. Regardless of Lindelof’s claim that this movie isn’t for cynics, the problem isn’t with the viewers. The problem is that a fortune cookie philosophy served at the end of a bad meal doesn’t make the food taste good.
No film director gets the sound of gunfire like Michael Mann
. It's not just that he typically uses recordings of live fire; plenty of people do that. There's an alchemy he performs with his sound designers, a way of manipulating both the sound of the shots and the ambient sound to create a hyperreal effect. It's not the sound of gunfire. It's a sound that produces the effect of standing close to the sound of gunfire.
Mann is celebrated and derided for his visual style, a style so damn stylish that any Mann film is likely to get at least a few reviews saying, "All style, no substance." I can't empathize with such a view; for me, style is the substance of art, and if any object has value beyond the functional, that value is directly produced by style. (Which is not to say that Mann's style is above criticism. Not at all. But to say that it is "only" style, and that substance is something else, something that can be separated from style, seems nonsensical to me. You may prefer the style of an Eric Rohmer or Bela Tarr or a Steven Spielberg or just the general, conventionalized style of mainstream Hollywood or mainstream TV ... but it's still style, and it's still substance created and transmitted through style.)
What generally goes unnoticed about Mann's style is how the aural and the visual work together. The visuals can be so ostentatious, so determinedly symmetrical (in his early work) or abstract (in the more recent films) or supersaturated or obscuringly dark, that the strangeness of the soundtrack remains unremarked. One of the most sensitive viewers of Mann, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, noted it, though, in his review of Blackhat
, pointing out the "patchy sound mixes" and "sound design [that] is deliberately erratic, rendering a good fifth of the dialogue unintelligible..."
Yes, and more: since his first abstract-expressionist film, 2006's Miami Vice,
Mann has cast non-Americans as American characters for some of the leading men (Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Chris Hemsworth) and non-native speakers of English as the leading women (Gong Li, Marion Cotillard, Tang Wei). The men do a good job with their American accents, but it creates an extra level of artificiality for them to work through, an extra way for them to distance their everyday self from their character.
The women wrestle with English well, but their tones and rhythms are noticeably different from a native speaker's, and the effect is to further make the dialogue difficult to apprehend, to distance the words spoken from their meanings and heighten their aural qualities.
The dialogue in Mann's movies, regardless of whether he's the writer, is unmistakably the dialogue of a Michael Mann movie — there is Mannspeak just as there is Mametspeak
. It's clipped, jargony, declarative, pulpy. It sometimes drives critics crazy ("laughable" and "ridiculous" are words I've frequently seen used to describe the dialogue in Mann's movies). The actors tend to fall into similar rhythms from film to film, and you could play a one or two minute clip of dialogue from any of Mann's films, particularly the ones of the last decade or so, and you'd know it was dialogue from a Mann film, just as you can easily identify clips of dialogue from the movies of Robert Altman, Woody Allen, and Terrence Malick. Couple the dialogue and how the actors speak it with a recording style that is more common to amateur documentaries, and the effect is odd and, if you're able to tune into it, intoxicating.
The ways we understand and get to know characters in these movies are also very different from the techniques of conventional Hollywood cinema. Mann's always presented psychology via action, but in his most popular films — that is, his films of the 1990s — there's a pretty standard approach to psychology. That all changes with Miami Vice
, where a new distance is placed between viewer and character while at the same time the filmmaking heightens the sense of our subjectivity melding with theirs.
Now, the characters thoughts, feelings, and desires no longer inhere within the character, but are, instead, expressed through the light, colors, angles, and sounds of the world as it is conveyed to us. Mann's characters are no longer characters so much as they are figures in a landscape, and the landscape is an extension of those figures' feelings.
That's why it doesn't much matter whether you can understand all the dialogue. The dialogue is just sound, and it's how that sound fits with the images (the light, the color), and how those images and sounds flow together, that matters.
Odd and even alienating as Mann's style has become, there's a profound unity to its effect. More and more, he's come to make movies that feel not so much like dreams as like insomnia.
This style is not what we might expect from someone as concerned with verisimilitude as Mann. He prefers going to locations rather than building sets; he makes his actors do months of preparation; he hires numerous consultants to get all the details right. And then, shooting and editing the film, he obscures it all, swirls it, hollows it out, fragments it into collages of drift, burst, and glimpse until all that is real feels utterly artificial. Mann's ultimate aim seems to be affect: to evoke a feeling of the hyperfake real, of the deeply flattened surface, of a world rendered into electricity jumping across a flat plane of endless night.BlackhatBlackhat
lost a lot of money. According to Box Office Mojo
, it is Mann's least financially successful film since The Keep
, a movie he's mostly disavowed. Produced for a reported $70 million, Blackhat
has earned only 10% of that investment back and supposedly had the 11th worst opening
for a film in 2,500 or more theatres since 1982.
It is likely to end up being one of 2015's biggest flops, and that's saying something (for all the talk of Jupiter Ascending
being a disaster, the Wachowski's film had some success
in foreign markets and looks like it's made back its production budget, at least. Blackhat
cannot say the same).
This is not especially surprising. Blackhat
is marketed as a techno-thriller (the trailer
, while hinting at Mannstyle, is pretty exciting), and its plot is, indeed, that of a techno-thriller. But anybody who goes into the movie expecting a techno-thriller is likely to be disappointed. "Boring" is a word commonly used in viewers' responses to the film.
The thrill is not in the movie's narrative, which gets subsumed and sublimed into Mannstyle. The thrill is in the movement, sound, and editing. Mann's affinities are more with Wong Kar-Wai than with any standard action filmmaker.
We could talk about the ideas in the movie, ideas about surveillance and punishment and information and reality. It's not for nothing that there are references to Foucault
, and Derrida (The Animal That Therefore I Am
) early on. But these ideas are not expressed as ideas that one can talk about and debate: they're ideas that are felt, sensed, whiffed, dreamed. They can't be separated from the mode of expression.
That's Mann's real accomplishment here. Ideas, like the books in Nick Hathaway's cell, get left behind.
The traces of those ideas, though, pulse through our circuits and burn across the night sky.
Because uniting to fight boredom takes teamwork, Paramount has just made a Devastator out of a bunch of star writers to revamp the Transformers franchise, and Robert Kirkman is among them. The team, led by Akiva Goldsman, includes Kirkman, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man) Zak Penn (Pacific Rim 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand) and Jeff Pinkner (Lost, Fringe) So yes, this is pretty much the superhero franchise dream team. They’ll sit around thinking about ways to make the Transformers cool. I got one word: Victorion..
While initial reports are sketchy of how or when this secret cabal will meet, it’s a great step up for Kirkman and reveals that his show running duties on The Walking Dead are substantive enough to move him beyond the zombie-sphere in Hollywood. Hopefully he’ll still find time to sneak away and write the monthly comic, but given the enormity of his Hollywood projects, he’s going to need the Pomodoro method to juggle all these franchises.
I really, really disliked Roger Deakins and Denis Villenueve‘s last collaboration Prisoners, but it sure was pretty to look at!
Herein lies my dilemma: these two are now teaming up for Blade Runner 2. The original Blade Runner is one of my favorite films of all time, and Deakins is easily one of the best cinematographers working today, if not THE best. That long line of wonderful Coen Bros‘ films that he served as DP on can attest to that, along with some stellar work on movies like Skyfall and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
I guess I’m going to have to see another Villenueve flick in hopes that he’ll actually produce something that I’ll find enjoyable. Their most recent collaboration, Sicario, hasn’t hit theaters yet but is receiving generally good reviews on the festival circuit.
Let’s be honest here, I’d probably go see a Deakins shot Blade Runner even if the sound wasn’t working at the theater.
This new sequel to the 1982 dystopian classic will star Harrison Ford and, according to reports, possibly Ryan Gosling, who was in negotiations for a leading role. The script is written by the first film’s scribe, Hampton Fancher and Micheal Green (Green Lantern), based on a story by Fancher and Ridley Scott. Scott, director of the first Blade Runner, is set to executive produce.
Here’s the full press:
LOS ANGELES, CA, MAY, 20, 2015 – Twelve-time Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins will join director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Incendies) on Alcon Entertainment’s sequel to BLADE RUNNER, it was announced by Alcon co-founders and co-CEO’s Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson.
Deakins, who will be presented with the Pierre Angénieux Excellens in Cinematography Award at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22 reteams with Villeneuve on what will be their third feature collaboration, havingpreviously worked together on Alcon’s Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal as well as Villeneuve’s upcoming film Sicario, a drug-trafficking drama starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro from Black Label Media, which is in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Deakins received his latest Academy Award nomination this year for his work on Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. He was previously nominated for Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men and True Grit; Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption; Martin Scorsese’s Kundun; Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Stephen Daldry’s The Reader, which he shared with Chris Menges; and, more recently, Prisoners and Sam Mendes’ Skyfall.
Film is scheduled to start principal photography in summer of 2016. Hampton Fancher (co-writer of the original) and Michael Green have written the original screenplay based on an idea by Fancher and Ridley Scott. The story takes place several decades after the conclusion of the 1982 original. Harrison Ford will reprise his role as Rick Deckard.
Villeneuve previously worked with Kosove and Johnson as the director of Alcon’s critically acclaimed Prisoners.
Kosove and Johnson state: “Roger is an extraordinary talent and we are very excited that Denis and Roger have chosen to continue their collaboration in bringing the sequel to BLADE RUNNER to the big screen.
Alcon Entertainment acquired the film, television and ancillary franchise rights to BLADE RUNNER in 2011 from producer Bud Yorkin to produce prequels and sequels to the iconic science-fiction thriller. Yorkin will serve as a producer on the sequel along with Kosove and Johnson. Cynthia Sikes Yorkin will also produce.
Frank Giustra and Tim Gamble, CEO’s of Thunderbird Films, will serve as executive producers. Ridley Scott will also executive produce.
Among its many distinctions, BLADE RUNNER has been singled out as one of the greatest movies of all time by innumerable polls and media outlets, and overwhelmingly as the greatest science-fiction film of all time by a majority of genre publications.
Released by Warner Bros., BLADE RUNNER was adapted by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples from Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” and was directed by Ridley Scott following his landmark Alien.” The film was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction).
BLADE RUNNER was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1993 and is frequently taught in university courses. In 2007, it was named the 2nd most visually influential film of all time by the Visual Effects Society.
Deakins is repped by ICM.
By: Andye ReadingTeen,
Blog: Reading Teen
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Have you seen The Maze Runner? My kids (12 & 14) and I went to see it and we all really liked it (even though I didn't really love the book). Reagan immediately grabbed the books and devoured them. Bransen is taking a little longer (no surprise since Reagan is a reading BEAST). Anyway, they both really like the books. Like, an obnoxious amount. So, I couldn't wait to show them the trailer for
After attending an afternoon showing of Mad Max Fury Road, I stood outside the theater in a daze. I was almost literally speechless, and my PTSD continued as I hopped in a cab to go to a dinner engagement. Fury Road’s insane, relentless, vivid and non-stop car chase was so senses shattering that it felt weird to actually BE in a car in the real world. I kept expecting the taxi to rear end a war rig or see an Interceptor career towards us at a 45 degree angle or have a Polecat suddenly dip towards our cab, lobbing a grenade. The real world suddenly seemed like a distant echo of the thunderous one that had seared itself on my eyeballs for the last 120 minutes.
My visceral reaction was so different from how I felt after any number of recent CGI extravaganzas. I’d forgotten about Age of Ultron by the time I crossed the street. I left Guardians of the Galaxy humming “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” and loving raccoons, but the plot quickly receded into the rearview mirror. Perhaps this is because of my own subconscious processing of real images as opposed to animated ones — the practical effects of Fury Road are so much more memorable and powerful—and expensive.
I can’t remember the last time an action movie seized the imaginations of critics and viewers alike so fully. MMFR’s stunning 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes make all the recent Best Picture nominees look shabby. Most people I know had a similar road to damascus experience, with multiple viewings planned. They’ve heard the call and have to keep preaching. I kept calling Avengers: Age of Ultron an “experience” not a movie, but Mad Max Fury Road was the real experience, something so exhilarating and cathartic that people need to feel that way again.
It would be simple to declare that the success of Mad Max Fury Road is just due to good old fashioned great moviemaking—and it’s true. George Miller is an amazing filmmaker, always has been, Babe: Pig in the City. But it’s 2015 and this is the internet, so let’s drill down with some crucial questions, shall we?
Is Mad Max Fury Road a success at the Box Office?
Maybe the MRA/GuffleGab crowd—which suggested a boycott of MMFR due to its feminazi lies—is crowing about the film not hitting #1 at the BO, proving people don’t want to see a movie with a strong female lead, but it was beaten by Pitch Perfect 2, a girl-aimed movie about an all girl singing contest with a mostly girl cast, a first time female director—congrats Elizabeth Banks!—and a 75% female audience. MMFR had a 60% male audience. This was a pretty straightforward win for girl power—$70 mil to $44.4 mil. All this led Pitch Perfect producer Lynda Obst to crow a bit:
It also explains why that awful Jem and the Holograms trailer has a title that reads “From the studio that brought your PItch Perfect.” We have a new tentpole here, and people are going to be chasing it for a while.
Deadline’s Anita Busch put an even gloomier spin on it:
This $200M+ budgeted road rager from Village Roadshow was definitely restricted by its R-rating but there’s no pr company in the world that can put a great spin on this opening weekend. Everyone wanted this one to open better.
Mad Max triumphed worldwide with $109.4 mil, which sounds pretty good until you remember that this movie cost $200 million. All those Cirque du Soleil stunts and practical effects did not come cheaply, oh no. I’ll get back to that in a minute. As you probably know, MMFR had a very troubled production, with fits and starts for 15 years, and a worried set visit by WB’s Denise De Novi to find out what was costing so much and why Tom Hardy and Cherlize Theron didn’t get along. While there’s already hopeful talk of a sequel, to be called Mad Max: The Wasteland, this is not a no-brainer. In fact, it’s a total brainer, so we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, Miller and Co have turned to the far more economical world of comics to tell more of the backstory. Smart move, Vertigo!
Is Tom Hardy as Mad Max awesome possum?
Is Mad Max Fury Road a feminist triumph?
1) On first thought, as everyone now knows, George Miller intended this to be explicitly feminist in its message, and even got playwright/activist Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) on set as a consultant. And looking at the story of Imperator Furiosa (Cherlize Theron) seeking redemption by rescuing the five wives (who had already graffiti’d up their living quarters with empowering slogans) of the grotesque Immortan Joe with the aid of a bunch of exiled old ladies on bikes called the Vuvalinis does make it sound a bit didactic. So yes. But…
2) On second thought, I’m of the generation that followed humanism long before we heard about intersectionality. I know, I know, humanism is way out of fashion, but I can’t help framing the journey of Furiosa, the Splendid Angharad, the Valkyrie and the rest as simply interesting characters who struggle and triumph just the way men always have. Charlize Theron herself pointed out out that
People keep saying ‘strong women’ but we are actually just women. We had a filmmaker that understood the truth of women is powerful enough and we don’t want to be put on pedestals or made to be unnaturally strong.
While it’s constantly pointed out that Marvel has made a tree and a raccoon beloved characters but not a woman, it seems that constantly having to label “strong females” as females is marginalizing in itself. All the characters in Mad Max Fury Road are iconic and my FB feed yesterday was filled with artists drawing them; like a good filmmaker should, Miller wants ALL of his characters to be memorable and have agency. Why that should be so hard for most movies is a failing of craft and artistry, and why it is so rarely applied to film characters other than white men is something that needs to be dissected while it’s still alive. Can’t we just say it was good storytellign without addding labels?
3) But on third thought….man alive, this movie goes right back to the White Goddess with an explicit war between patriarchal and matriarchal values. I know some female writers have been disturbed by the childbirth scene because, well, it’s tough. But it’s a clear indication of how Immortan Joe and his crew view gender, a view sadly prevalent in the real world, where the existence of a dead male fetus is of more importance than any living female. Furiosa, the Valkyrie, Max and Nux are fighting for a more giving society, one where scarce resources are used to build a society, not to govern one. That this brainy idea is the driver for the most visceral action movie in a decade makes its triumph all the more remarkable…but I would argue that it’s a (barely hidden) subtext that gives the movie its strength. We’ve seen a gazillion action movies where the good guys beat the bad guys because of family and honor and courage and blah blah blah. Mad Max Fury Road is direct…but it isn’t simple. It’s this refreshing refusal to talk down to its audience that is so thrilling. It’s the difference between being taken for a ride and going for a ride.
Why was that ride so thrilling?
During the long, brutal winter of ’14-’15 I spent many a night huddled under a blanket watching movies. One of the films viewed was James Cameron’s True Lies, which was made in 1994 and was the last huge action movie that used practical stunts and sets. They really blew up that bridge, and really mounted a harrier jet on a crane so Arnold could clamber over it. Jamie Lee Curtis really jumped onto a helicopter. It cost a lot and wasn’t a huge success, and now these things are all CGI and green screen.
The original Star Wars trilogy and even the Lord of the Rings trilogy used miniatures and guys in suits. The prequels and the Hobbit movies used tons and tons of CGI and in the case of the latter, Peter Jackson even turned Billy Connolly’s Dain into a CGI character. To no good effect. Little kids like the prequels just as well, but most people who like movies find the originals much more engaging and real. The Tolkien stuff is a perfect example of one set of films remaining vital and thrilling while the other is just bleh. Admittedly, one has way better material, but all that animation was ultimately numbing.
It’s obvious that the realness of Mad Max is the main reason people have reacted so strongly to it. Those were real cars, real guys on poles, real deserts, real stunts, real make-up. Of course, there was CGI, but it aided the reality instead of becoming a substitution for it—Charlize Theron’s stump of an arm being a perfect example
I find most contemporary CGI spectacle rubbery and unconvincing. It feels like shopping at the Dollar Tree: drab and monotonous. Of course I’m also old and cranky — younger movie goers, and those used to video game CGI, have no problem with it. But it’s all so lazy. One big or monster can be truly chilling—cf. Stan Winston’s work in The Thing. But that takes real time and care, so an army of CGI Ultrons, or Chitauri or bugs or orcs or whatever swarms the screen with all the spectacle of an iPhone game.
Practical effects are more expensive and take a lot more skill. It’s why its a vanishing art. Mad Max Fury Road is a profoundly 80s movie: it’s touchstones, like the old Mad Max movies, are heavy metal and hot rods and leather jackets. The filmmaking is also 80s standard for stunts and models, with contemporary CGI wizardry thrown in as the seasoning. But the rapturous response to the film made me wonder about the psychological distinction between real and unreal. Yes, we’re back in the Uncanny Valley, the theory that people are attracted to unreal, cartoonish characters but as these characters become more human and realistic, they reach a point where they are actually disturbing and repulsive. Many Robert Zemeckis films are proof of this (Polar Express ho!) We’ve moved a bit beyond Zemeckis’s early efforts, or the now laughably unconvincing swinging Spider-Man of the first Sam Raimi films, now less engaging than the guy in a Godzilla suit of the 50s.
But is there any evidence for this effect beyond constant kvetching about “all that CGI”? I googled “psychological effects of CGI” and found very little easily accessible research. (one of the top results was “Physical, Sexual and Psychological Effects of Male Infant Circumcision: an Exploratory Survey” however.)
Here’s one article from 2011 examining the Uncanny Valley:
In other experiments, MacDorman’s team showed that people feel particularly disconcerted when characters have extremely realistic-looking skin mixed with other traits that are not realistic, such as cartoon eyes. Furthermore, in a 2009 study in which participants were asked to choose the eeriest-looking human face from among a selection, the researchers found that computer-rendered human faces with normal proportions but little detail were rated eeriest. When the faces were extremely detailed, study participants were repulsed by those that were highly disproportionate, with displaced eyes and ears. In short, viewers seemed to want cartoonish facial proportions to match cartoon-level detail, and realistic proportions to match realistic detail. Mismatches are what seemed eerie.
I also found this paper from 2002
(!) about the history of animation in terms of CGI by one David Mitchell. Some solid groundwork there.
A hopeful piece from the BBC in 2013 suggested that special effects might be going practical again, but focused on the budgetary angle. And Cartoon Brew wondered why Practical Effects Get Replaced with CGI? but it’s a video and I don’t have time to watch.
Doubtless, there is a lot of research that studies how humans react to things that are really real and things that seem real…but the time I spent googling didn’t reveal much. I’m sure Mad Max will reignite the debate and this remains a topic for further study.
But wasn’t Mad Max Fury Road racist?
The visionary, unsurpassed imagination of artist Brendan McCarthy—co-writer and concept artist—is a huge part of what made MMFR so memorable. Sadly, he’s also been caught making many racist statement in recent years, so it’s hard to praise him without reservations. But yeah, he is awesome as a creator.
But not everyone liked Fury Road. A tumblr user going by Xmaslemmings whose real name I am not smart enough to figure out summed up the racist, ableist, fan-phobic aspects of the film:
Then, like, just look at the fact that they were stoked to work with this guy, that they shot most of this movie in Namibia with an almost exclusively white cast. Look at postapocalyptic fiction of this sort which largely aims to shift the structures of postcolonial Western genre works into a fictive precolonial (or just colonial) state where we can enjoy Cowboys versus No-Longer-Recognizable-As-Indians, open terrain, tribes to fight, lands to claim and to settle. Fury Road, like a lot of these stories, postures as only whiteness speaking to whiteness about whiteness (or substitute for whiteness: a primitive yet “postracial” civilization in which race has inexplicably not been reasserted as a central basis for organizing violent hierarchies of power) but from whom did the filmmakers borrow this imagery of tribal desert life? From whom did these cultures get their spears, their warpaint, their war drums? How have these retained their use as signifiers of barbarism and from where did that significance originate? I think the movie’s answer is: from nowhere. From a mountain with a steering wheel carved into it. As the movie ends with Furiosa ascending to traditional White Saviorhood (most of the only people of color I can recall seeing in the film being in the grateful crowd hailing her as their new queen, or whatever) there’s a quote from “The First History Man” to “sort of jokingly” suggest a universal profundity of the film’s plot and non-ironically underscore that this fantasy is a tabula rasa in which white experience has been miraculously universalized without the need to dismantle white supremacy because the violent establishment of white supremacy did not occur, or something. That isn’t unique to this film. It describes a zillion stories a white author’s ever written in this genre, such as this film, shot in Africa with a mostly white cast, which happens to also have at least one clearly white supremacist voice among its principal originating collaborators.
Lots of fodder for backlash there, and Australia’s own awful history with its native peoples won’t help.
But was it still wonderful?
I hope so. There’s a takedown on MMFR’s feminism at the right wing Breitbart site, but even the critic has to admit it looks great, and the commenters seem to have forgotten the awful feminist agenda because of the great stunts. I think the last movie that pretty much shut up all its critics with its imagination and stunning visuals like this was the original Sin City. I’ll leave this with a quote from Warren Ellis, who has a way with words:
You forget that the MAD MAX films are a narrative continuum, from the brink of societal collapse all the way through to the petrol- and water-cults after the end of the world. Max himself goes from tightly-wound cop to broken man to the Max of FURY ROAD, who, for the first half of the film, is pretty much a grunting animal on his hind legs and then reduced down to a bag of blood. From husband and father to medical object.
Someone said to me the other day that MAD MAX is “his Star Wars.” His modern myth. A myth of the time of steel and petrol, that’s about collapsing back into dark history. Viewed as a continuum, the film cycle almost plays as a warning sent ahead to us from 1980. A time capsule that’s still telling itself stories from inside its box. FURY ROAD doesn’t feel like a modern film. It’s a throwback to classical filmmaking. A scream from the nightmares of the last century.
How Much Did The Beat love Mad Max Fury Road?
So much that I spent half an hour on the WB media site downloading the stills just so I can look at them again and again until I go to the theater to see it again.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, after having a number of smash hits like The Lego Movie and the 21 Jump Street franchise under their belts, have become among the most desired screenwriters in Hollywood. Currently, they’re working on both a Spider-Man animated feature for Sony and Warner Bros’ big screen version of The Flash, starring Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being A Wallflower).
Given that there’s already a pretty popular television series starring Grant Gustin on The CW as the Barry Allen version of The Flash, there’s been some question as to which iteration Miller might play, even though the movies will not be connected to the television series as part of any shared universe.
Lord was recently a guest on the Hippojuice podcast (via /Film) where he gave an update on the film:
We’re trying to break a story. It’s interesting, because there’s a really popular TV show out there, and we’re trying to carve out space for the movie that’s apart from that. I think we’re doing alright. … I believe [our Flash] is going to be Barry Allen. … It’s going to be its own [thing, apart from the TV show] — we’re more trying to stick with the cinematic universe… it really is its own thing, and kind of a stand-alone movie. We’re just trying to think of the best story. I think you guys will like it, it’s kind of a different take on superhero stuff.
This basically confirms that we’ll have both a television and film version of the same character. Honestly though, I don’t see this as a terribly big deal. On average about 3-4 million viewers watch The Flash, and I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt that any confusion for that relatively modest audience (in comparison to the audience that will reach a feature film) will be limited.
More importantly, in a somewhat chaotic DC film slate that reportedly has five screenwriters assigned to Wonder Woman and at least three on Aquaman, the fact that The Flash‘s script situation is being approached in a much more stable manner is reassuring.
But only time will tell. The Flash is expected to see release in 2018.
Okay one more comics-to-movies announcement for the day, and this one is pretty unsurprising—ever since Tony-winning producer Vivek J. Tiwary wrote The Fifth Beatle, a powerful biography of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, it seemed destined for the big screen. With outstanding art by Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker, the book is not only an Eisner winning graphic novel, but also literally the only biography of Epstein in print.
Syco Entertainment, the company run by former Ameircan Idol meanie Simon Cowell will co-produce the film, with a screenplay by Tiwary.
Tiwary, Cowell and IM Global Founder and CEO Stuart Ford will serve as producers, and have already secured an unprecedented agreement with Sony/ATV Publishing for the use of Beatles music to be used in the film. IM Global President of Production Matt Jackson, President of IM Global Music David Schulhof, and Syco Entertainment’s Head of Film Adam Milano will serve as executive producers. The producers also anticipate bringing a director onboard shortly.
Said Tiwary, “The mission of ‘The Fifth Beatle’ has always been to sing the unsung story of Brian Epstein– the brilliant and inspiring visionary behind the Beatles– so I am thrilled to expand his legacy Into film. And to be partnering with a brilliant self-made boy from Liverpool and a game-changing music impresario– I’m certain Brian would be pleased!”
Said Ford, “Vivek has written a powerful, vibrant screenplay about one of the most colorful and heartbreaking stories in rock’n’roll history. I am proud and incredibly excited to launch into putting the film together with Vivek, Simon and the rest of the team.”
Said Cowell, “I have always been fascinated by Brian Epstein – and his story. He played a huge role in The Beatles incredible success – and, I believe, remains the most talented manager ever. Yet his story has never been fully told. Also, like everyone across the world, I have so much respect for The Beatles and their music. So to be given the chance to be involved in this project was one I just could not pass up.”
Epstein was integral to getting the Beatles from their early Hamburg days to superstardom, but harbored a secret life as a homosexual when that was technically illegal in Britain. He tragically ended his own life just as the Beatles had their greatest success. It’s quite a story and will make quite a film.
Storied French publisher Humanoids—publisher of many classics by Moebus, Jodorowsky and Bilal—has gotten into the graphic novel to movie race with a three picture deal with Full House announced at the Cannes Film Festival currently under way. The above link is a little hard to follow with all the pacts and dealmaking but here are the three projects—all English language—in development:
LEGION, based on the graphic novel I Am Legion by fan favorite comic book creator John Cassaday (Marvel’s Star Wars) and French writer Fabien Nury, with a script by Richard Stanley (Hardware) and to be directed by Nacho Cerda (The Abandoned) is now casting.
BOUNCER is an action western movie with a script based on the cult graphic novel series by Alejandro Jodorowsky and François Boucq. The film is next on the slate of David Bowie music video helmer Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways) .
THE ZOMBIES THAT ATE THE WORLD is slated to be written and directed by RKSS (Anouk Whissell, YoannKarl Whissell, François Simard), a collective of young Canadian filmmakers whose latest film, Turbo Kid, premiered at Sundance and then went on to win the Midnight Section Audience Award at SxSW. The original comic book series by Jerry Frissen, Guy Davis, and Jorge Miguel was referred to as “hilarious” and “totally politically incorrect” by Tobe Hooper, and described as “a terrific series” by George A. Romero.
The productions are being headed up at Humanoids by CEO Fabrice Giger and his production partner, Pierre Spengler, who also producer the Ilya Salkind “Superman” trilogy. They’re budgeted at $15 million each, with the Euro-co production allowing funding to come from multiple sources.
Anytime there is more Jodorowsky in the world it’s a good thing, and Legion is another strong property. It’s hard not to think of Snowpiercer, the multi-national production based on the French-language Le Transperceneige, published by Casterman. Although the film wasn’t a box office behemoth it was well reviewed and was something of a cult hit. If there’s a company that has potential cult hits coming out their ears, it’s Humanoids.
I've been reading (and writing!), but no reviews for you today, just a few announcements:
Today is the start of Scholastic’s #IReadYA week - a celebration of all things YA. In support of this week, Scholastic will be holding daily challenges beginning today and running through Friday the 22nd. By participating in the challenges, you earn the chance to win #IReadYA prizes including: #IReadYA tote bags, tumblers and free YA books!
The fun daily challenges range from describing a YA book only using words that start with the same letter (e.g. Harry helps Hogwarts, hefting horcruxes), to sharing YA reaction videos/memes.
Some YA authors will also be participating with impromptu Twitter chats, Tumblr posts and more.
To become a part of #IReadYA week and take part in the daily challenges, click here:Scholastic’s #IReadYA Week
And on the topic of YA books, I attended a Penguin Random House Book Buzz event on Friday. Library of Souls
, the final book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series will be coming out in September. The final cover will be revealed this month. And coming next spring, is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiars
, the Tim Burton movie based on the first book in the series.
And finally, today, as it is every Monday, you can visit the Nonfiction Monday
blog to see what's new in nonfiction for kids and teens.
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– My favorite discovery from the 2014 television season has to be Cartoon Network’s Rick and Morty, which takes the character relationship of Doc and Marty (more or less) from Back to the Future and transplants them into Doctor Who style adventures with some the sharpest humor I’ve seen in an animated program since Archer first hit the air. The series, created by Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland, has had its first season available on Blu-ray for awhile now. If you can handle some cruder, gross-out moments, I highly recommend it.
This week, Cartoon Network announced that Rick and Morty will return on Sunday, July 26th. Additionally, Roiland and Harmon guest-wrote the couch gag for the upcoming season finale of The Simpsons, which you can watch below:
– Speaking of The Simpsons, yesterday saw the news that Harry Shearer, the longtime voice of characters like Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, and many other members of the show’s rich world, would be parting ways with the series. According to some reports, there’s still a chance that Shearer may come to terms with the show’s producers, but the roles are expected to be recast at this point.
I haven’t watched The Simpsons in years, but I’m hoping this paves the way for a Spinal Tap reunion.
– From the set of Captain America: Civil War, via JustJared, here’s the first image of Crossbones’ costume:
– Seth Rogen tweeted out the first on-set image from AMC’s Preacher last night, which sees Dominic Cooper’s Jesse Custer talking with Ian Colletti’s Arseface:
– According to Collider, the sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes now has a title: War of the Planet of the Apes. It’s a bit of a mouth-full, but I guess no one would go see a movie called “Monkey Fight”, which I was lobbying pretty hard for.
– Lastly, there’s a pretty great True Detective Season 2 teaser out now via HBO. I may be more excited about this premiere than any other show this year, even the Mad Men finale!
Youthful veteran star, 18-year-old Asa Butterfield has been tapped to play Spider-Man in the MCU/Sonyverse, according to Latino Review.
Spidey’s role in the MCU is not yet known but he’ll probably appear in Captain America; Civil War because everyone else is, as well.
Butterfield previously starred in Hugo and Ender’s Game so not only have we been watching this special young man grow up before our eyes in the cinema, he knows the score on appearing as a beloved literary character. He’s also a fine actor, and the second Brit in a row to play Queens born Peter Parker, following the similarly well-coifed Andrew Garfield.
This new version of Peter Parker is going back to his teen roots, with a youthful exuberance and demeanor, we’re told. Hopefully there will not be an origin story, but the Civil War debut would remove the need for spiders, labs, experiments, oh no, etc.
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That’s a decent way to start a review, right? After walking out of tonight’s screening of Mad Max: Fury Road, I had so much built up energy inside of me, I literally had to jump around outside of the theater. Quite a few critics have been hailing George Miller‘s return to his seminal franchise as a “masterpiece”. As far as movies that live and die on their action spectacle go, you can consider me one of the converted.
This fourth entry in a series that hasn’t seen a new film in 30 years is basically a reboot, though you could also see it as a sequel to Beyond Thunderdome in a sort of James Bond sense. Tom Hardy steps into the role originally inhabited by Mel Gibson, and his version of Max Rockatansky basically picks up where his predecessor left off. The world has continued to devolve into a hellish landscape in a way that would make George Romero jealous, but any newcomer to Miller’s post-apocalyptic fever dream will find themselves easily able to grasp the central details: Max is a former cop whose family was murdered, and he now wanders this scorched earth attempting to survive. Max gets caught by the minions of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a sort of steampunk Darth Vader/Papal-figure, who is treated like a savior by his men and farms women for their wombs and breast milk. While Max is imprisoned, Joe’s leading lady, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) makes a break for it with his prized concubines, which sets off a chain of events that finds Max, Furiosa, the neurotic yet redeemable Nux (Nicholas Hoult), and a set of kick-ass ladies (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton) on a wild chase as they attempt to lose Joe’s rolling army in dusty desert.
Allow me to emphasize the word chase, as this activity is what makes up literally 99% of Fury Road‘s running time. This is a film that is pretty thin on plot, but bustling with sheer momentum, action set-pieces, intricate design work, and the most rocking score I’ve heard in a film of this type in some time. Through the mostly desert surface, Max and company are pursued by white painted men with explosive muskets, pirates with spiked cars, mercenaries wearing clothes made of bullets, and of course Joe himself. On display is literally every deathrace cliche reinvented for the screen and taken to the next logical extreme. It’s a film so high octane, that Miller even speeds up the action, and envelops it in biting humor, in a move reminiscent of the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet; and it goes to show that Miller, even at 70, is a filmmaker is still willing to learn and adapt to new influences. Mad Max: Fury Road feels like the work of a much younger and hungrier director, and his collaboration with comics giant Brendan McCarthy (who both co-wrote the screenplay and provided much of the design work, and boy does it ever show!) may have done much to reinvigorate Miller post-films like Happy Feet.
However, despite the onslaught of Michael Bay style pyrotechnics, Miller still takes the time to give focus to the character dynamics of this rag-tag bunch that’s formed by circumstance. Rather than cardboard cut-outs, each character feels like a fully-fleshed individual via sparse dialogue and taut performances. The script is the definition of “show, don’t tell”, as exposition is kept to an absolute minimum. Perhaps the biggest and most welcome surprise is that Max isn’t even really the star of the show, though Hardy is quite good in the role, as that honor goes to Furiosa. Theron’s shaved head, mechanically-armed warrior may very well be the closest thing we’ve had to a new Ripley, and I think you can easily argue that this is Theron’s Aliens. I doubt she’ll be up for Oscar consideration, as this is the kind of film that voters almost never go for (Sigourney Weaver‘s nomination came when the field for actresses was relatively slim), but I would wholeheartedly support a Best Actress campaign in this case. She’s that good.
This added focus on Furiosa also underscores an important point; it’s one of the most feminist action films in recent memory. Fury Road centers on a group of women taking their own agency and pushing against patriarchal rule. While this franchise has always had an undercurrent of pacifist themes, Miller has laser-focused his message, to a point where one interaction at the midway point of the film ends up stating the obvious: this is what happens when old white men run the world unchecked. That may rankle some feathers in the audience, but this is an action movie that isn’t just empty spectacle or aiming for the lowest common denominator. This is a motion picture that’s actually about something with a strong point of view, and that’s worth standing up and applauding for. It’s basically the film equivalent of an album by The Clash dropping in the middle of a sea of bad arena rock.
Mad Max: Fury Road began filming in 2012, and had to undergo reshoots in 2013 (and this of course follows the 25 years of development hell that the film underwent just to get to there). We often take issue with productions that have to undergo that dreaded process, but Mad Max: Fury Road is a diamond of an exception and proves that as an audience, it behooves us to trust in auteur vision, especially in the action arena which so sorely needs it. Much like Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer last year, Miller paves the way for what these films should look like and the level of care that needs to go into them. This effort proves that, sometimes, you really can go home again.
To every other movie releasing this Summer: good luck!
Per Deadline, 20th Century Fox has closed a deal on its latest X-Men franchise spin-off, as writer/director Josh Boone (The Fault in our Stars) is set to co-script and direct The New Mutants. Boone will co-write the script for this new stand-alone with Knate Gwaltney (Cardboard Boxer).
Fox’s Marvel “godfather” Simon Kinberg, who will be producing The New Mutants alongside Lauren Shuler Donner, had this to say:
We’re so excited to explore this new part of the X-Men universe. And so excited to do it with Josh, who is uniquely suited to tell this story about young characters.
I’m not much of an X-Men fan, but I always remember loving The New Mutants, especially once Bill Sienkiewicz came on board with some of most gorgeously detailed art my young eyes had ever seen in a comic. Eventually the Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod created series became X-Force, which has also been rumored for the big screen treatment. It’s likely that this project may stalled that possibility for the time being.
Boone has a busy schedule of late, as he’s currently set to adapt Anne Rice‘s The Vampire Chronicles for Universal (in another attempt at jump-starting that series) and Stephen King‘s The Stand for Warner Bros. It’s likely this film will see release in 2018.
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For us, we get to see Mad Max: Fury Road with the rest of the critics who are getting it screened tonight, for you, it is Tuesday. Did I just nail that Street Fighter reference or what? No? Okay…onto the news…
– Television talk continues to dominate most of the online discussion today, and in a recent conference call with the press, ABC President Paul Lee explained why the proposed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off focusing on Adrianne Palicki‘s Bobbi Morse and Nick Blood‘s Lance Hunter didn’t come to fruition:
We absolutely love those characters on ‘S.H.I.E.L.D. We feel S.H.I.E.L.D. hit its creative stride this year, and we love it… We felt the right time now was to leave them on S.H.I.E.L.D., because it’s so strong at the moment.
To be fair, pulling the show’s most intriguing characters from its parent series seemed like a bad bet, there’s also a fairly good possibility that killing off this spin-off is what made room for another season of Agent Carter, which I’d say is the right move. Speaking of which, there’s a new synopsis making the rounds for Peggy Carter’s sophomore season, which finds her in a brand new city:
Marvel’s Agent Carter’ returns for a second season of adventure and intrigue, starring Hayley Atwell in the titular role of the unstoppable secret agent for the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve). Dedicated to the fight against new atomic age threats in the wake of World War II, Peggy must now journey from New York City to Los Angeles for her most dangerous assignment yet. But even as she discovers new friends, a new home — and perhaps even a new love — she’s about to find out that the bright lights of the post-war Hollywood mask a more sinister threat to everyone she is sworn to protect.
And for those Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans in the crowd, here’s the third season synopsis that was just released:
Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) embarks on a deadly new secret mission to protect the world from new threats in the wake of SHIELD’s wars with Hydra and a rogue faction of Inhumans.
– In their recent Milkfed Criminal Masterminds newsletter, Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick revealed that the former will be appearing on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” Thursday May 21st. How many comic book writers (or least writers that are primarily known for writing comics) have appeared as guests on American “late night” television at this point? We’ve had Harvey Pekar, Stan Lee, David Goyer and Brian Michael Bendis. Am I missing someone? Surely I must be. Bottom-line though, it’s a huge deal.
Their newsletter states that some big news regarding their deal with Universal will be dropping soon, so it’s very likely that this appearance will in promotion of that announcement. You can sign up for their newsletter here. I highly recommend it.
– On his Twitter feed, director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) announced that his newest project will be an adaptation of the French comic series Valerian and Laureline entitled Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which Besson will write and direct. The series, which kicked off in 1967, was created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide and is described thusly per our friends at SuperHeroHype:
Valerian and Laureline are exploring Syrte, capital planet of a system of 1,000 worlds. Their mission is to discover whether the Syrtians could present a danger to Earth. What they find is a decaying empire led by decadent aristocrats, a population ripe for revolution, and a mysterious caste of masked wise men who discreetly pull the strings from hidden fortresses. Swept up by the winds of history, the agents of Earth will have to choose a side.
Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad) will star in the film which is slated for Summer 2017.
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– We’ve talked about it some, and it seemed like only an eventuality, but The CW has officially picked up the Arrow/Flash spin-off and has given it a real title: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
The series, which stars Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter, follows the time-traveler as he is tasked with assembling a group of heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat, where both the planet and time itself is at stake.
Also appearing in the new series will be Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Ciara Renee, and Franz Drameh. Each either reprising their roles from Arrow and The Flash, or starring as new characters for the series, such as Renee’s Hawkgirl.
So, at the very least The Atom, the first Black Canary, Captain Cold, Heatwave, Rip Hunter, Hawkgirl and one half of Firestorm are heading up this team. Drameh’s character is the only mystery remaining, here’s how the casting rumors described his part:
“MYSTERY HERO” | An African-American male in his twenties will fill the role of a regular, street smart guy who unexpectedly gains powers, and then, as part of the team, regularly quips about the insanity of the situations.
– In exciting news for anyone that’s a fan of good genre television, ABC opted to renew Agent Carter, despite being a somewhat soft performer ratings-wise (averaging about 5 million viewers an episode). Showrunners Michelle Fazekas and Tara Butters are expected to return. Also, as expected, ABC renewed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for another season.
While I’m fairly lukewarm to negative on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the potential of Agent Carter is pretty tremendous, given its cast and concept. I rather hope that next season does the “ten year jump forward” bit that Hayley Atwell has mentioned in the past. It’s a series that could afford to shake things up somewhat, and really, who doesn’t want to see Peggy Carter in the “Mad Men era” or better yet, something Jim Steranko-inspired? Plus, I really just want to see John Slattery take over the Howard Stark role at this point.
– With this good news though, it looks like ABC only had so much room for Marvel programming, as according to Deadline, the proposed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off focused on Adrianne Palicki‘s Bobbi Morse will not go forward. Truthfully, that might have been a blow that its parent series might not have recovered from.
– Lastly, Hugh Jackman has confirmed that this next Wolverine entry will be his last, per an interview with an Australian talkshow:
This will be my last one. It just felt like it was the right time to do it. And let’s be honest, 17 years! I never thought in a million years it would last, so I’m so grateful to the fans for the opportunity of playing it. I kind of have in my head what we’re going to do in this last one. It just feels like this is the perfect way to go out.
It feels like Jackman says this every few years, but given that he’s starting to creep up in age (he’s currently 46) and the sheer torture he probably puts himself through to get into “Wolverine shape”, it’s surely for the best.
Captain America: Civil War started filming in earnest over the past few weeks here in Atlanta. As a matter of fact, it turns out the cast was having lunch at the sushi restaurant down the street from our house!
Today, Marvel revealed the full cast along with the official synopsis, and while much of it is old news, the biggest surprises here are that Paul Rudd and William Hurt will be taking part in the film. For Rudd, despite my prediction that Marvel might end up treating Ant-Man in a way similar to The Incredible Hulk (a one-off that sort lies forgotten in the larger machinations of the studio) it looks as though it will matter at least somewhat for the overall MCU narrative. Speaking of The Incredible Hulk, Hurt will be reprising his role as General Ross. I guess you need to hang on to those Blu-rays after all, despite Mark Ruffalo‘s Banner seeming like a completely different character than Ed Norton‘s version.
Here’s the full cast list from Marvel, there are some potential spoilers for Age of Ultron here:
The film returns Chris Evans (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) as the iconic Super Hero character Steve Rogers/Captain America along with Robert Downey Jr. (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Marvel’s “Iron Man 3”) as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Sebastian Stan (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: The First Avenger”) as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Paul Bettany (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Iron Man 3”) as The Vision, Jeremy Renner (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Marvel’s “The Avengers”) as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Don Cheadle (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Iron Man 3”) as Jim Rhodes/War Machine and Elizabeth Olsen (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Godzilla”) as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch.
After his debut in Marvel’s “Ant-Man” on July 17, 2015, Paul Rudd (“Ant-Man,” ”Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”) will make his first appearance alongside the Avengers as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in “Captain America: Civil War.”
The film also includes outstanding additional cast, including Chadwick Boseman (“42,” “Get on Up”) as T’Challa/Black Panther, Emily VanCamp (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Revenge”) as Sharon Carter/Agent 13, Daniel Brühl (“Inglourious Basterds,” “Bourne Ultimatum”), Frank Grillo (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Warrior”) as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones, William Hurt (“A History of Violence,” Marvel’s “The Incredible Hulk”) as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross and Martin Freeman (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”).
There’s no new Spider-Man listed as of yet, but Marvel and Sony may still be in auditions for that role, if the character does indeed appear in the film.
Captain America: Civil War releases on May 6, 2016, here is the new synopsis:
“Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.
Per The Wrap, the next Star Wars anthology film, the very film that just lost director Josh Trank, will focus on everyone’s favorite Mandalorian bounty hunter: Boba Fett.
While this year will see the release of the first in a series of new “Episodes” in the Star Wars saga in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with sequel entries every two years after into 2019; 2016 and 2018 will see “anthology” spin-offs allowing the Star Wars brain trust the opportunity to tell a number of stand-alone stories set in various parts of the series’ timeline.
2016’s Rogue One, which centers on the Rebels’ attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star, stars Felicity Jones and is directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla). For the next entry, the focus will seemingly shift over to the world of bounty hunters and chart the rise of Fett, one of Star Wars’ most enduringly popular characters. Seriously, there’s tons of books and video games about the guy, and while it’s been a long while since I’ve watched all of the original trilogy, he didn’t exactly have a ton of screen-time. A cool look will take you far!
With Trank out of the picture, Kathleen Kennedy and her team will be on the hunt (no pun intended) for the newest filmmaker to take over this new entry. On the writing side, Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) has been closely involved with the development of this feature.
Anyone have a dream Boba Fett movie director? Most creative answer will win… my eternal respect.
While the second biggest opening weekend in domestic cinema history doesn’t seem like painfully coming up short, Avengers Age of Ultron failing to beat The Avengers for opening weekend gross seems to have shocked many people. Personally I blame Floyd Mayweather, as he should be blamed and punished for all the world’s ills, but Vulture’s Kyle Buchanon has a more in-depth examination of possible causes, including: the fight; the downbeat marketing campaign; the been there done that phenomenon; the mixed critical and fan reaction; and…maybe the superhero movie fatigue we’ve all been expecting:
I have no doubt that comic-book movies will continue to make bank, including the looming, two-part Avengers: Infinity War — I just think they’ll be hard-pressed to reach the massive totals that superhero movies made when this shtick all felt a little fresher. The peril to the shared cinematic universe is that they can get awfully packed with stray story lines as time goes on, and all the comic-book minutiae that Age of Ultron expects you to know will be doubled and quadrupled in the years to come, keeping the casual moviegoer at arm’s length. Geeks may cheer as the Avengers add more recruits, but as the Marvel universe grows more populated, the domestic box office for this top-heavy franchise may have topped out.
I’m not sure that adding more and more Marvel characters is the reason for this fatigue—most everyone thought the new Vision was the funnest thing in the movie—but there’s no escaping the fact that the movie was kind of…a marketing plan in search of a story. Even the biggest boosters are now saying that whaddya expect, it was just a great set-up for Avengers: Infinity War….meaning we sat through two and half hours of elements that are just priming the pump for two more movies in three years time that will probably end up setting us up for Avengers: The Clone Saga, and…where does it end?
I’ll admit, one of my favorite things in the movie was the whole Andy Serkis/Klaw segment because unlike many people Andy Serkis does a mean Afrikaner accent, and his whole schtick was over the top and…fun. But let’s get real. Was there ANY STORY REASON for that whole segment other than setting up the Black Panther movie? And setting up the also unnecessary Hulkbuster battle?
The other day I joked to someone that superhero movie fatigue will set in for real whenever they release a Wonder Woman movie…or a Black Panther movie. But I think as entertaining as it was, the noisy, shapeless Age of Ultron may be where the cracks first appeared.
But then again, it WAS the second biggest opening ever even though half the population had to take Sunday off to watch a boxing match.
Even if the public doesn’t have Superhero Movie Fatigue, it’s pretty clear that Joss Whedon does. His three-year contract with Disney is reportedly up in June, and in interviews he hasn’t worked very hard to hide that he’s burnt on all that universe running.
AND NOW SPOILERS
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In a just released podcast with Empire magazine, Whedon opens up about many things, including variant scenes, whether you-know-who may have lived, and how much he had to fight to retains the scenes down on Hawkeye’s farm. Vulture has a transcript of some of the best bits:
Whedon explained to Empire that Thor’s cave scene caused a weird sort of chain-reaction drama. Initially, Whedon wanted Thor’s interaction with Erik Selvig to be much more fleshed out, with “Thor getting answers, but he doesn’t have to ask the questions. He’s the guy giving the answers. And [Chris Hemsworth] gets to do something exciting as an actor. And he’s got his fucking shirt off, so everybody wins.” But Marvel execs wanted Whedon to whittle this scene down because it didn’t play well with test audiences. “The dreams were not an executive favorite, either. The dreams, the farmhouse, these were the things I fought to keep.” Although Whedon talks about some of his filmmaking haggling in Avengers diplomatically, he admitted that when it came down to keeping his favorite scenes, things got unpleasant and he had to pick his battles. For instance: “They pointed a gun to the farm’s head. They said, ‘Give us the cave, or we’ll take out the farm.'” Yikes.
This level of filmmaking by committee is of course standard for the MCU and it comes as no surprise, but even though Whedon wanted to make the film MORE crowded by teasing Captain Marvel and Spidey (but contracts weren’t signed) we are getting a little bit into Spider-Man 3 territory here with characters being shoehorned in whether necessary to the director’s ideas or not. And that eventually makes flat, listless movies which fans reject.
Just to cap everything, Whedon quit twitter yesterday, which, given his uneasy relationship with the internet and social media, isn’t really a surprise. There were definitely a lot of ugly comments on Avengers, but Whedon, like all famous people with more than a million followers, gets abuse and dumbass fronting all the time, so it’s not clear if this was the trigger for the removal. A previous EW interview suggests that he was ready to quit months ago::
EW: You’ve quit?
WHEDON: I joined six months ago to specifically try to drive business to Much Ado About Nothing because I figured Much Ado needs all the help it can get. The moment I joined, oh my God, what a responsibility, this is enormous work—very fun, but it really started to take up a huge amount of my head space. I’m making a movie, I got a responsibility, this job doesn’t pay very well. It’s a fascinating medium, it’s a fascinating social phenomenon. People are like, ‘It’s like a drug.’ Yeah, and it’s like a job. It’s just another art form. Until I have a script I truly believe in or a tweet that’s really remarkable, I can just walk away and get back to the storytelling I need to do.
As the exhausted, gaffe strewn media tour for Age of Ultron showed, making these movies is exhausting, Whedon has seemed exhausted for a while, and he deserves a break.
Of course, that didn’t stop GGaters from painting Whedon as the victim of crazy feminists who drove him away by calling him a hypocrite. Or some actual feminists being disappointed with some of the aspects of the Black Widow character in the film. Because there is nothing in the world that can’t become part of GGate,
Joss Whedon may have the right idea after all.
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On this New Comic Book Day, here are some of the non-Joss Whedon related headlines that are making waves today:
– Not long ago, after the Marvel-Sony deal was struck over the usage of Spider-Man, it seemed a surety that Sony would hang onto Drew Goddard to helm the newest entry. Not so, reports Deadline, as they’ve uncovered what is reportedly Sony’s director shortlist for the film:
Jonathan Levine – Warm Bodies, 50/50
Ted Melfi – St. Vincent
Jason Moore – Pitch Perfect
John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein – Vacation
Jared Hess – Napoleon Dynamite
From this list, it seems like Sony is still aiming for the comedic-slanted mindset that brought us the Marc Webb entries. We all saw how that turned out. Hopefully this is an incomplete list and Goddard is still in contention. With a 2017 release date, a decision will have to be made by January at the very least, if not much sooner.
– Following in the footsteps of Peter Serafinowicz and Chris O’Dowd, British actor Martin Freeman (The Hobbit Trilogy) is stepping into the Marvel Universe, as he’s joined the cast of Captain America: Civil War in an undisclosed role. Considering the cast is already fit to burst at this point, I have a hard time imagining he’s playing anything beyond a utility player (like the above two actors). Your guess is as good as mine.
– Machinima, the online network that is already producing the animated DC series Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles, set to debut next month, announced this week two more DC related programs that will go into production in the near future along with a second season of Gods and Monsters Chronicles. The two new series include #4Hero, a modern adaptation of Dial H For Hero (this time it’s based out of a smart-phone app) and The DC Hero Project, a contest show where eight competitors must battle it out in elimination challenges to develop a short video based on their own interpretation of characters from the 90’s Starman series.
– For those thirsting for more X-Men: Days of Future Past, you’re in luck! The “Rogue Cut” that restores all of Anna Paquin‘s cut scenes from the feature, and adds 17 minutes to the film, will hit stores on July 14th. That date is also the 15th anniversary of the release of the first X-Men film. Now, don’t we all feel terribly old?
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Teen Review by Reagan
THE ISLE OF THE LOST
A Descendants Novel
by Melissa De La Cruz
Age Range: 9 - 12 years
Grade Level: 4 - 7
Series: The Descendants
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (May 5, 2015)
Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by
This August the D23: The Official Disney Fan Club announces the lineup of the most highly anticipated presentations at D23 EXPO 2015, August 14–16. It all starts on Friday Aug 14 with the Disney legends awards ceremony hosted by CEO Bob Iger. Later that same day Disney Animation and Pixar will show off their upcoming projects Zootopia and Finding Dory. On Saturday morning, The Walt Disney Studios will preview the coming slate of live-action films from Disney such as Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Jungle Book along with the latest from Marvel and Lucasfilm. Then on Saturday afternoon, fans will get a preview of what’s in store at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts during a presentation hosted by Parks Chairman Bob Chapek.
To showcase these Expo favorites, Disney is creating “Hall D23,” a new 7,500-seat venue located in Hall D of the Anaheim Convention Center, so that more guests than ever can see the presentations live and in person.
With Marvel Studios not having an SDCC Hall H presentation this year, D23 could be the place for their fan service moments this year. No word yet on if the publishing side of Marvel will have a presence at D23, but more details about the show are sure to roll in soon.
Tickets for D23 EXPO 2015 are available at a discounted price for a limited time. Until June 30, 2015, tickets are $67 for a one-day adult admission and $48 for children 3–12. Tickets for members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club are $58 for a one-day adult admission and $42 for children. Multi-day money-saving tickets are also available. D23 Members can save as much as $188 off the price of admission, based on the purchase of four three-day tickets at the D23 Member rate. For more information on tickets and the ticket pricing structure for D23 Members and general admission, visit D23EXPO.com.
From the time the Scarlet Witch first appeared in X-Men #4 (March 1964), her fictional adventures have been pretty complicated. Now a new, eventually billion-dollar incarnation of the character has debuted on the big screen in Avengers 2. But why did the Scarlet Witch get the nod for superstardom? What about her resonates with so many of us?
Wanda Maximoff, brother to Pietro (aka Quicksilver) and on-and-off-again daughter of Magneto, was the lone female member of the first Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Alongside the gross Toad and even grosser Mastermind, she and Pietro played criminal only to pay off their debts to Magneto. They later joined the Avengers where (along with Hawkeye) they were referred to as “Cap’s Kooky Quartet,” which is thankfully way less catchier than “Age of Ultron.”
Even for the X-men, Wanda was a weird character. She was rescued by Magneto from Bearded Raised-Pitchfork Guys in a Generic Sorta-Real-Sounding Fictional European Country (Ending in –ania). This would later be (more or less) Nightcrawler’s origin, too.
Believe it or not, witchcraft was kind of a thing in the early sixties. And not the Wiccan-flavored Moon Crystal version we might guess it was. People were talking about real witches – “thriving,” no less:
These poorly-sourced, sensational headlines (made all the better by awful scanning) were probably just misplaced strains of anti-Communism. At the same time, there were stories out there of genuine human consequence. In this widely-reported, tragic story from 1962, an Italian man claimed that a former lover gave him the “Evil Eye.” He killed her with a sickle.
In the comics, Wanda is a mutant, but it is her infinitely inexplicable power that is so confounding, especially in the early, largely pseudo-scientific Marvel Universe. Her power is clearly magic – or at least magic-al. But even in her first appearance – before chaos magic, Chthon, and Dr. Strange’s explanation that she is just insane – Wanda is described as having “hex power:”
Though it sounds like a failed promotion for Honeycombs cereal, “hex power” was also part of the bundle of terms and clichés that were part of the contemporary witch:
Lee and Kirby’s use of the term “witch” also invokes a longer American history. In the wake of McCarthyism, the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s emerged as a great new metaphor for (Red) “witch hunting” of a different sort. Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible – of young women accused of witchcraft – enjoyed (unsurprisingly) a highly successful Broadway run in 1954. There were versions on local stages and on TV all the way into the sixties.
But the touchstone for Salem (and possibly for Wanda) will always be Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter, which I bet you have a copy of the Cliff’s Notes for somewhere. We all read it in high school: Hester Prynne, accused of adultery, is forced to wear a red letter “A” in a romantic narrative of gender and religious high-mindedness. No spoilers, but Hester is also accused of consorting with a witch (a proto-Agatha Harkness). And the letter is, you know, SCARLET.
Not to turn this into high school English, but all that stuff in Hawthorne’s novel fits Wanda’s character, too. In her first appearance, she is portrayed as a very sexualized character.
Later on, she becomes more sexual than sexualized, but there are always restraints placed on her behavior by her partners. The Vision is a robot and Simon “Wonder Man” Williams is at times just a wavy bunch of static. Just like Dimmesdale’s priesthood limits Hester’s full expression of herself, so too do these Avengers. At the same time, Wanda (like Hester) is a character of great power whom everyone else fears. Both are capable of destroying entire communities, fictional and otherwise.
The 1926 film version of The Scarlet Letter starred screen siren Lillian Gish. Note her pilgrim headgear. It isn’t an exact match for Wanda’s own cut-out headdress (which looks like a costume for a 3rd-grade play about roses), but it’s getting there.
And until someone writes a dissertation about Jack Kirby’s obsession with massive, unwieldy headgear, I’ll go out on a limb and say that some of it must have come from Cleopatra, which released in 1963 and sported countless headdresses – and an astonishing 32 costume changes.
Liz and Dick’s little movie influenced fashion in the real world, including more headscarves.
Lycra and spandex were also in style,
as well as the long gloves and open neck dress (with cloak) as seen here on Arthur Miller’s onetime wife, Marilyn Monroe.
Throughout Wanda’s long continuity, she has been treated as a victim, a hero, a villain, and a patsy at different times to different sets of eyes. She is complicated, which is maybe why she tends to be on the losing side of happy endings in her comics adventures. She loses husbands, parents, kids. Then again, it is her status as someone who doesn’t fit our ideals of the superhero that makes her just that more dangerous. Not only did Wanda get rid of 91.4% of mutants in the 2005 comics event “House of M.” But she also went back in time with Vision and Spidey to FIGHT THE REAL COTTON MATHER! That says something.
Were Lee and Kirby influenced by the Scarlet Letter? Much like Wanda’s own highly convenient, probability-altering powers, this may just be an echo. Yet Wanda does seem to occupy a similar, Hester-like space in Marvel continuity, though her own red letter is a little different.
But there is more. It would seem even more improbable to say that another turn-of-the-century short story would have any influence on the Scarlet Witch. But since we are talking about seemingly impossible probabilities, here goes: this story by Max Pemberton features a central scene of a dinner feast hosted by a witch wearing red, with a strange, puffy hat:
At the table are strange people – some with horns, some dressed “like dwarfs” – enjoying a meal with goblets and candles. As they eat, they find that what they see is changing because it is all an illusion. Here is an illustration from the story:
From X-men #4:
This story, which was reprinted rather heavily (including the popular Pocket Magazine), has a very provocative, if highly improbable, title.
Brad Ricca is the author of the award-winning Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster – The Creators of Superman, now available in paperback. He also writes the column “Luminous Beings Are We” for StarWars.com. Visit www.brad-ricca.com and follow @BradJRicca.
By: Heidi MacDonald
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– Avengers: Infinity War, which it’s been revealed will have a grueling nine month production schedule (it is two films after all), will also be shot completely in IMAX using IMAX and ARRI’s next gen 2D digital camera. This marks the first time a Hollywood feature film has ever been shot completely with IMAX cameras and utilizing its larger aspect ratio.
Here’s a statement from the Russo Bros on this announcement:
The intent with the Infinity War films is to bring ten years of accumulative storytelling to an incredible climax. We felt that the best way to exploit the scale and scope required to close out the final chapter of these three phases, was to be the first films shot entirely on the IMAX/ARRI Digital camera.
Some select action scenes of Captain America: Civil War will also utilize the IMAX camera and format.
– This week, the broadcast networks are finalizing their pick-up decisions and what will make it onto the Fall and Spring schedule. Supergirl, for example, was picked up for a full series order yesterday by CBS, while iZombie was also renewed by The CW. The Flash and Arrow have also already been renewed for their second and fourth seasons respectively.
Now, all eyes are on ABC and NBC, as the former will be making its decisions regarding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which will surely be renewed) and Agent Carter (where things are far more uncertain), while the latter holds the final fate of Constantine in its hands.
My prediction? Agent Carter gets renewed for another short season, while Constantine finally sees its long-expected axe.
But even Powers got renewed, so I guess anything could still happen.
– 20th Century Fox has revealed the cover art for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past “Rogue Cut”, which will include 17 minutes of additional footage, including all of Anna Paquin‘s sequences that were cut from the theatrical release:
– We’re only a week away from Mad Max: Fury Road hitting theaters across the country. While critics are still embargoed at this point, there’s a lot to be excited about, which I elaborated on a few weeks previous. Here’s a new featurette for the film:
– Here’s the new poster for Ant-Man, which is sadly pretty underwhelming, though that’s kind of par for the course with most blockbuster movie posters these days. Floating heads, so many floating heads!
– And in fun stuff, it looks like Captain America vs. Crossbones has started early:
I’m really looking forward to Civil War.