Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Ode To Nathan Rabin

It occurred so suddenly as to leave me in shock. On the night of April 29, 2015, Nathan Rabin's Twitter bio said it as plainly as could be: "Former Dissolve writer". This was no mix-up, no social media snafu, one of my favorite film critics on the interwebs would no longer be a part of the website The Dissolve. I'm sorrowful that Rabin will no longer be a part of that particular website, but I'm confident he'll find work elsewhere. A man with his kind of talent is bound to wind up somewhere that's beneficial to his talents eventually. That kind of talent was, truth be told, influential in me becoming a film critic. For me in the past and the present, reading Rabins work was an eye-opening experience that was influential in making me want to pursue a career in film writing.

So, Just How Big Is The Avengers: Age Of Ultron Gonna Be This Weekend?

Here it is, the big one. What's likely to become the biggest opening weekend of 2015 is about to arrive, and I'm sure you can guess that The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be responsible for that mammoth haul. The question is though, how much can it make? Well, let's take a look at that question in this weeks edition of Box Office Predictions!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Did Guardians Of The Galaxy Blow Past All Expectations?


"Ah, what the hell, I don't got that long a lifespan anyway."
Unlike all the other entries in this Make Mine Marvel series, I've already reviewed Guardians of The Galaxy on this website, so I decided to change things up a bit for this particular essay and take an in-depth look at how Guardians of The Galaxy became such a huge hit last summer. Prior to last August, nobody knew what a Groot was, how Gamora and Nebula were related or that raccoon's had a compulsion for metallic limbs, but by God, they do know.

The Trailer For Irrational Man Brings Woody Allen And Joaquin Phoenix Together

Seeing Midnight In Paris back in 2011 is easily one of my favorite theatrical experiences ever. I had never seen a Woody Allen movie before, so witnessing the writer/directors work in the context of that endlessly charming 2011 movie was quite an adventure. That sort of memory isn't the only reason I'm excited for Allens next movie, Irrational Man; this new feature also pairs up two of my favorite actors, Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone! A trailer for this film has been unveiled, and you can watch it below!

Extract Review (Classic Write-Up)

Extract, Extract, Read All About It!
Once I finished watching Extract, I was left with this peculiar sense of unfulfillment. It's not that this 2009 Mike Judge feature was particularly bad or something, it's just that, by the end, very little of notable value had really happened. The characters weren't that notable, the laughs weren't too hearty and the plot didn't feel particularly exceptional. In fact, the story, in its execution, struck me as fodder for an episode of a sitcom in its seventh season than a major motion picture.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Behold! The Awesomeness of Captain America: The Winter Soldier!


"The price of freedom is high....and it's a price I'm willing to pay."
Continuing the saga of the three individual Avengers with ongoing franchises after the release of The Avengers was a daunting task, but it's interesting to see how each of the post-Battle of New York continuations went in a unique direction with their respective superheroes. Iron Man 3 went deeper into the existentialism of its titular character, while Thor: The Dark World took time to look at how a massive event like the one that brought The Avengers together would affect Thor and Loki as brothers.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Is Thor: The Dark World Such A Marvel Misfit?


"This is so unlike you brother! So clandestine!"
Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe won't be complete until Ant-Man goes on his epic first adventure in July. Even with that mind, it feels like Thor: The Dark World is likely to become the lowest grossing movie in this phase of the MCU domestically (Ant-Man has a good shot at going lower, but it has summer weekdays that Thor 2 didn't have to boost its grosses). Thanks to this, it's been deemed one of the lowly entries of the entire MCU, to the point where Entertainment Weekly dubbed it the "Batman & Robin" of this franchise last year.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Iron Man 3 Is Not A Film That Likes To Play Things Safe


"Is that all you've got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?"
"Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography!"
The Avengers wasn't just greeted with decent box office when it debuted in May 2012, no no, it pretty much crushed all its box office competitors and seized any box office record in its path. Becoming the (currently) third biggest movie of all-time domestically and worldwide, the world was clamoring for more adventures with these Marvel-ous superheroes, and they got their wish when Iron Man 3 debuted the following summer.

While We're Young Review

Hip To Be Square
Ben Stiller has built an entire career on playing the casual everyman, the kind of guy who thrives on routine and doesn't want irregularities or anomalies interrupting his existence. There are certainly exceptions in his vast filmography (namely in his character Derek Zoolander and his Anchorman cameo where delivers the immortal line "Buenos noches bitches!"), but that kind of calm yet easily flustered persona has dominated his work in recent years. It's the kind of role he reprises in While We're Young, though this particular feature allows for a bit more depth to be applied to this archetype.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Magnificence Of The Avengers Stems From Its Energetic Joy


"The Avengers. That's what we call ourselves. Earth's mightiest heroes type thing."

There's a lot of different emotions that can be expressed through the storytelling medium of summer blockbusters, but perhaps the most pivotal is that emotion of wonder. It can certainly be felt during any kind of film (I know I felt it during recent dramatic masterpieces like Boyhood and Her), but the way summer blockbusters call up that emotion is quite notable. It's that feeling that creeps up your shoulder, as the visuals on that enormous movie theater screen seem to be a gateway to the kind of unbelievable images you've only dreamed of. The perfect example of this kind of phenomenon is that incredible moment in Jurassic Park where Alan Grant and Ellie Satler see the titular theme parks dinos for the first time.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The First Photo of Jared Leto As The Joker Has Arrived!

With Batman v. Superman coming out next year, it's hard to remember sometimes that, hey. there's another DC Comics film headed your way as well! That other feature is the Suicide Squad, which centers on a group of various supervillains, including Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who do government issued missions. One member of the films cast is The Joker, played by Jared Leto, and you can see the first photo of him (which David Ayer, director of the movie, tweeted out tonight) below!

A Little Bit Stronger Is Incredible, Country Strong Is Terrible. It's An Interesting Dichotomy

Welcome to a new bi-weekly column called When Good Songs Happen To Bad Movies, in which I look at pretty well done songs that just so happened to debut in more subpar features.
First off, I'll freely admit this one's a bit of a cheat, since A Little Bit Stronger debuted as a single in September 2010, a few months before Country Strong's release, but it was still released again at a later date as a single from the movie, so I'll count it for this column. Plus, it gives me a chance to talk about one of the "sleeper" bad movies of recent years, which really deserves a more prominent reputation for it's awfulness: Country Strong.

Captain America Was Successfully Brought Into The 21st Century With A Retro Approach (Make Mine Marvel)


"Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. Stay who you are. Not just a soldier. But a good man."
One of the weirdest criticisms I've heard about Marvel Studios and their films is that they have a "house style", which strikes me as kind of a peculiar criticism. I mean, sure, all the movies under the studio are PG-13, and typically have action in them, but a major part of why these features have become such enormous successes is because of the variety of tones, environments and aesthetics each individual project has. Even the action elements can deviate from movie to movie; Guardians of The Galaxy, as one might imagine, dishes out more sci-fi enhanced violence than Iron Man 2 for example.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thor Took The Marvel Cinematic Universe To Exciting New Realms (Make Mine Marvel)


"Whoever wields this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."
Last summer, everyone was in a tizzy over how Guardians of The Galaxy was pretty out-there for a conventional summer blockbuster, and while that film was truly unique from its typical summer blockbuster brethren, at least that one had the post-Avengers Marvel brand to give it a boost. Back in 2011, I was pretty much certain Thor would fail to muster any kind of notable box office or critical reception. Here was a film where a guy with a giant hammer would ride a rainbow bridge to fight ice monsters and his brother, who is prone to donning a horned helmet.

Johnny Depp Gets Dramatic And Intimidating In Black Mass Trailer

Let's not kid ourselves here; Johnny Depp has had a helluva few years, with duds like Transcendence and Mortdecai tarnishing his reputation. But director Scott Cooper (responsible for two dramas I consider quite underrated, Crazy Heart and Out of The Furnace) is handling his newest film, Black Mass, where Depp plays Whitey Bulger. It's a unique role, one that goes for a much more dramatic approach than Depps past films. Give the first trailer for the film, which comes courtesy of Rope of Silicon, a watch, and then catch my thoughts on the footage beneath that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Iron Man 2 Has Some Ideas Of High Quality, The Problem Is There's Too Many Ideas Overall (Make Mine Marvel)


"All I have to do is sit here and watch, as world consumes you."
After Iron Man shattered every box office expectation in 2008, there was no question that a sequel was to come. The Monday after Tony Stark's first movie opened to $98 million, Marvel announced four new movies, one of which was of course Iron Man 2, set for April 30, 2010. The date moved up one week to May 7, but another big adventure with everybody's favorite genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist did indeed arrive in 2010.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Exactly Was The Incredible Hulk? (Make Mine Marvel #2)


"I don't want to control it. I want to get rid of it."
The filmography of Marvel Studios is still so small (Age of Ultron will be only the eleventh film from the company) that it truly is surprising, especially when considering their tremendous influence on the pop culture zeitgeist, that one of their big budget summer blockbusters could slip through the cracks and become relatively forgotten. But that's the fate that has befallen The Incredible Hulk, a 2008 attempt to revive the beloved character of The Hulk after the 2003 feature from Ang Lee went nowhere except for the $5 dollar Blu-Ray bin at Wal-Mart.

Unbreakable Review (Classic Write-Up)

Break Away
When I saw Unfriended this past weekend, I was shocked to see a trailer I (GASP) hadn't seen seen on the internet beforehand. The trailer was for The Visit, a found-footage(?) horror film from M. Night Shaymalan that was chock full of stupidity and terrible dialogue (the best bad line is easily "Would get into the oven to clean it?", which is delivered in a way that briefly makes it seem like the sentence will conclude with the word over) and reminded me of how far M. Night Shyamalan had fallen in recent years.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pan Will Fly Off To Neverland In October

Looking over the 2015 release schedule, I was surprised to see Warner Bros. had nothing planned for October 2015. Considering they release more movies in any given year than any other studio, it was surprising they didn't have anything up their sleeves for October. That's changed today, as their reinvention of Peter Pan will arrive now on October 9, 2015.

Iron Man's Influence Spread Far Beyond Its Own Cinematic Universe (Make Mine Marvel #1)


"Iron Man. That's kind of catchy!"

Looking over the history of superhero films, there is no more important time period than the summer of 2008, wherein five very different superhero films debuted over the course of 12 weeks. One, Hancock, was not based on any preexisting property, while another, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, delved into Guillermo Del Toro style fantasy with aplomb. The differences between just these two movies is vast, but tossing in the other three that premiered over the summer just shows how wide in storytelling scope the framework of superhero cinema can be.

Welcome To Make Mine Marvel

The entire model of cinema is built on risks. People taking leaps of faiths solely because they believe in the artform of storytelling. That was the sort of perilous situation the folks starting up Marvel Studios found themselves in during the middle portion of the first decade of the 21st century. Adaptations of the characters Marvel had made over the countless years had ranged in quality, with some like Spider-Man 2 being of a high caliber of quality. But then there was Howard The Duck, The Hulk and Fantastic Four and forthcoming films like X-Men: The Last Stand, Ghost Rider and Spider-Man 3.

These movies not only missed what made the beloved superheroes so popular in the first place, they also forgot about making these into features that could stand on their own as good cinema. Now, Marvel Studios, with $525 million in financing from Merrill Lynch, was out to bring the characters they still had the film rights to in a way that would be both profitable and artistically successful. A similar previous effort to create a multitude of features based on their comic book characters in collaboration with Artisan Entertainment didn't yield much success, but this massive endeavor wound up finding some level of opulence, to put it very very lightly.

With The Avengers: Age of Ultron on the horizon, I think it's time to look back on the 10 movies the Marvel Cinematic Universe has created. Starting today, and all the way through April 29, I'll look at each of the films in this epic saga in a series of editorials entitled Make Mine Marvel and analyze the qualities, flaws and impact on pop culture at large of each individual motion picture. Join me, won't you, for an adventure that's gonna be loads and loads of nerdy fun!

Jurassic World Unleashes New Trailer Chock Full Of Dino Mayhem

Who wants to watch Star-Lord and some raptors take on vicious dinos? You do? Well then, check out the new trailer for Jurassic World below!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Get A Feel Of The Cast, Scope And Humor Of Fantastic Four With New Trailer!

A lot of this summers big blockbusters (Ant-Man, Terminator: Genisys) have been releasing trailers recently, likely in order to make sure their shown on Avengers: Age of Ultron. This trend continues tomorrow when Jurassic World releases its new trailer, and now 20th Century Fox has gotten into the game by releasing a new look at the Fant4stic, er, Fantastic Four.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Unfriended Review

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?
You know what's a fun game? Watching movies that aren't even that old (in some cases, as little as six years later) and noticing the outdated technology characters carry around. I first noticed this in Mars Attacks!, when Sarah Jessica Parker is eating breakfast, when she suddenly gets an important call on her massive cell phone. It's relic of another age, but instead of reducing the entirety of the feature to being an outdated piece of entertainment, seeing this kind of tech more often than not just comes off as charming to me.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Official Batman v. Superman Trailer Is Here To Ask...Do You Bleed?

The trailer for Batman v. Superman leaked last night, and for some reason, major publications like The AV Club and Variety decided to run this bootleg version of the trailer instead of waiting for Warner Bros. to release something official. The studio has done just that now, with a teaser trailer (emphasis on teaser) for the 2016 film that you can watch below.

Melancholia Review (Classic Write-Up)

When The Stars Align
Well, this is gonna be tricky. That was my first thought when I set myself on the task to review Lars Von Triers 2011 feature Melancholia. This is an unorthodox film that mixes a humongous event (the end of the human race) with a minuscule scope, setting its sights on two sisters as the vessel to tell the tale of humanities final days. To put in terms so simple they feel sorta insulting for a movie of this complexity: some of it works, some of it doesn't, but at least it all, in some shape or form, leaves an impression on you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Has Arrived!!

Star Wars Celebration (a recurring fan event that's pretty much San Diego Comic Con for Star Wars geeks like yours truly) is underway today, and one of the first panels of the event was one centered around the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lucasfilm was kind enough to live stream the event to all of us not in Anaheim, California. Excitingly, the event brought a new trailer for Episode VII, which I'm proud to say you can watch now!

Can Vin Diesel Outrace Mall Cops And Paranormal Teenagers? (Box Office Predictions)

There's a ton of new releases this weekend, so let's waste no time and get right down to predicting this weekends box office!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters Review (Classic Write-Up)

The Witch Is Back
It needs to said right upfront: Maleficent, this is not. Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters wears it's R-rating on its sleeve, with numerous violent death scenes, blood, guts, heavy artillery and witches, Lots and lots of witches. Most of which suffer gruesome fates at the hands of Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton), who are, as the title suggests, witch hunters. They've gotten really good at this whole killing witches thing, but a duel with evildoer Muriel (Famke Janssen) could be their greatest challenge yet.

Patty Jenkins Will Direct Wonder Woman!!

Losing Michelle MacLaren as director of Wonder Woman was a crushing blow, but hey, at least Warner Bros. has gotten a pretty interesting choice, according to The Hollywood Reporter, to handle the notable superhero's first solo cinematic outing.

The Director of Kingsman: The Secret Service Is Rebooting Flash Gordon

20th Century Foxs recent attempt to reboot Flash Gordon as an action movie has been puzzling me, namely because Flash's large presence in the uber popular film Ted makes me wonder if audiences unaware of the original movie from the 80's will think it's some kind of Ted spin-off or not take the movie seriously due to Sam Gordons antics in that Seth Macfarlane movie.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It Follows Review

Fearful Following Frightens
It was interesting leaving my screening of It Follows, as I heard the other audience members murmur to each other their thoughts on the film, which ran quite contrary to mine. "I could film a better movie in my garage!" "What terrible acting!" "Nothing even happened!" It was pity to hear that, as I was sorry to hear these viewers had not enjoyed the movie like I had. As they say, one mans trash is another mans treasure, or in this case, the slower pace they found to be excruciating was something I found to be exhilarating.

New Ant-Man Trailers Brings The Gags, The Ants And The Trains...Er, Pain

With Age of Ultron on the horizon (only 18 days to go!), Marvel is now turning it's attention to their next big budget blockbuster: Ant-Man. The only promotional material we've seen from the movie are some cool looking images, a funny poster and a decent, if overly serious, teaser. A new trailer has popped up to help put the movie on the map, and hey! It actually does a good job of setting the movie up as, maybe, just maybe, something special. Check it out below!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Daredevil Episodes 3+4 Review

The release structure of all Netflix programming allows for certain television storytelling freedoms; like Cable shows, with all 13 episodes out at once, there's no need for Netflix programs to have entities like story recaps of past episodes for viewers who missed last weeks episode. This also has an influence on story and character progressions, as the various plotlines on the show tend to last for far more than one single episode.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Daredevil Episodes 1+2 Review

Dare To Go Beyond Expectations
It's kind of fitting that Marvel Studios and Netflix have come together for a television program, considering how they're two entertainment companies changing the face of entertainment today. Both had plans that sounded crazy when they first started; creating a shared universe across multiple films and a streaming service dedicated to original film and television content may seem commonplace today, but they most surely were not even five years ago.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Two Of Quest For Camelots Songs Managed To Ape Disney While Creating Something Unique

Welcome to a new bi-weekly column called When Good Songs Happen To Bad Movies, in which I look at pretty well done songs that just so happened to debut in more subpar features.
Animation, like many other aspects of Hollywood that spawn success, seems to be a fertile ground for imitation, as seen by the surplus of fairy tale skewing animated features that were released in the wake of Shrek's phenomenal success or the insane amount of CGI animated films released in 2006 thanks to the success of Finding Nemo three years earlier. The 90's followed this sort of trend to a tee, with The Lion King's humongous box office managing to get every movie studio to create their own animation company to churn out would-be animation blockbusters.

Adaptation Review (Classic Write-Up)

Adaptation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery
A meta approach to a film or TV show or any piece of media is not uncommon, but it is unique for it to be embraced as heartily as it is by Adaptation, a 2002 Spike Jonze directed feature that goes absolutely all in when it comes to utilizing this style of storytelling. How exactly does the movie engage in a meta narrative you ask? Why, by focusing on an exaggerated version of the films screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage). 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Time Has Arrived To Watch The Trailer For True Detective's Second Season

True Detective was one of the biggest TV shows of last year, and while I haven't watched it yet (I'll catch up on it on HBO Go before it's next season debuts, I promise), I'm still excited for the second season of the program, if only based on the cast. Rachel McAdams in anything gets me interested, but toss in dramatic Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch and I'm totally in. The first trailer for this new season has just arrived, and you can watch it below.

Agents of SHIELD Is Getting A Spin-Off!

On the eve of the debut of Marvel's third television show, Daredevil, it appears the studio is making moves on a new TV show. Entertainment Weekly has the exclusive scoop that some kind of spin-off of Agents of SHIELD is in development, though they don't know who the program would center on or an exact release date.

Summer 2015 Box Office Predictions (Part Two)

And now, part two of my summer box office predictions columns. This entry focuses on three kinds of films; Sleeper Hits, features that could exceed expectations, Wild Cards, movies that I'm not sure about in terms of box office performance and Flops, which are films that I expect will struggle to find success at the box office.

Without further ado, here is the second part of predictions for this summers box office!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Summer 2015 Box Office Predictions (Part One)

Well, Summer 2015 is just around the corner, and I got to thinking, why not do some box office forecasting for the wide number of releases hitting multiplexes this summer? These predictions will be split into two parts; the first one, which you're reading right now, focuses on my projections for this summers Top 10 movies, while the second part going up tomorrow centers around my predictions for this summers sleeper hits, wild cards and flops.

Without further ado, here are my predictions for Summer 2015's 10 highest grossing movies!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Squid And The Whale Review (Classic Write-Up)

Family Ties
Divorce is a massively tremendous event in any families life. No matter how old you are, no matter how much you think you're prepared for it, no one is ready for the level of change divorce brings. Noah Baumbach, the director of The Squid And The Whale, uses divorce as a catalyst to upend the life of one family driven by intellectualism, a trait especially salient in the case of the father, Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and the oldest son, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg).

Kristen Schaal Gets Much Deserved Major Role In Melissa McCarthy Movie Michelle Darnell

Us Kristen Schaal fans are a special breed. We all discovered her a different way (I found her out in the Summer of 2010, thanks to her supporting role in Toy Story 3 and a prominent moment in the Dinner For Schmucks trailer), but she sticks around in the consciousness of all who encounter her, thanks to her sharp comic timing and excellent voice work, namely in Bob's Burgers.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Big Lebowski Review (Classic Write-Up)

Dude, Where's My Car...And The Money...And My Tapes
Narration is a common element found in cinema that's frequently utilized for numerous purposes. Perhaps the goal of the narration is to set up the tone of the motion picture, or to deliver exposition or even just to set up a joke. The Big Lewboski uses narration as a way to accomplish that first objective, with Sam Elliots distinctive vocals describing the landscape of  Los Angeles and the films main character, The Dude (Jeff Bridges), though eventually his narration disintegrates into him losing his train of thought.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Furious 7 Review

The Good, The Fast And The Furious
The climax of Furious 7 is pretty much the epitome of this entire franchise with its chaos dialed up to a million, cars zoom by and untold amounts of destruction occur. In the midst of it all though, the characters audiences have come to know and love over the years are never forgotten. All these enormous violence fueled set pieces revolve around their choices and relationships, not the other way around.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

And Now Winnie The Pooh Is Getting A Live-Action Remake

With Cinderella looking to make $500 million worldwide by the end of it's run, Disney is hellbent on making numerous other live-action remakes out of it's beloved animated features. Dumbo is on the way from Tim Burton, while 2016 will bring new updates of The Jungle Book and Pete's Dragon. Recently, Mulan got announced to be receiving a live-action update, and now Winnie The Pooh is getting ready for such treatment.

Furious 7 Is About To Zoom Off To A Huge Opening Weekend (Box Office Predictions)

Unless Home pulls off a second weekend like the box office has never seen before, Furious 7 will be number one this weekend. This is easily gonna be one of the biggest movies of the year and garner the largest April opening weekend of all-time. The primary question on everyone's mind right now though is how big this one goes.