Where Batman Vs. Superman Failed (And Where It Succeeded)

It’s been out for a week not and it’s pretty safe to say that it has failed, at least in terms of critical opinion. It’s got a ridiculously low Rotten Tomatoes score, but it’s not just critics, a lot of audience members don’t like it too. A lot of people I know have seen it, and quite a few have liked it, but nobody has loved it. It hasn’t inspired any passion in anybody. There’s been no “this has changed my life” moments. Which is a shame, as the enormity of this film means it should. Ok, yes, it’s gained a lot of money, but so do Adam Sandler films, and he’s basically the film equivalent of Florence Foster Jenkins

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The most niche joke I’ve ever done. If I said “Film equivalent of Eddie The Eagle” it would work just as well

So why is? Well, I have a few ideas as to why.

1. Too Much, Too Late

We’ve seen A LOT of super hero films over the last few years. Way way too much, and there’s more to come. There’s only so many times people can stay with this kind of thing. “Comic book film” is now a genre, and there’s a reason for that, there’s a lot of similarity between them all. Sadly these are the comics that get adapted, whilst graphic novels have a lot of different genres contained within them (Maus, for example is an entirely different piece of work to The Dark Knight). But the adaptations always focus on the super hero. Most of the films are: “hero defeats small villain, big villain comes along, beats holy hell out of hero, hero comes back and beats him”. Now I LOVED Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Deadpool is one of my favourite films of this year, but even if you didn’t know anything about them you can still tell they’re comic book adaptations. The only film I can think which would work without the “comic book branding” and will stand up on its own would be Captain America: The Winter Soldier which was a superb cold war style thriller. With that many films all being very similar, the audience is getting bored. This is made worse by the fact that the aforementioned Deadpool came out and seemed to indicate a change of direction for the genre, maybe make them fun, which is needed after years of films which if they were a colour, they’d be a dark blue.

2. Too many “new” things.

Introduction to Wonder Woman, Aflecks being Batman, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Aquaman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. That’s at least five things people were focusing on in the trailers and during the film. Every trailer was met with people saying “looks like they’re doing Wonder Woman justice” or “Afleck could be good” or “F*ck Eisenberg”, and the same thoughts were coming to people during the film. The audience for this is just focusing on the aforementioned things, so they’re not paying attention to the film. You can’t expect the audience to pay attention to the film if you’re basically telling them to pay attention to everything else instead.

3. Too Much, just too much.

The major problem with showing Wonder Woman in the trailer is that it cancels out her entire story arc. Her story in this is her coming back to being Wonder Woman and whether she’ll do it or not. This takes her the entire film, but the trouble is that you already know she will as she was a big part of the marketing campaign. This is trouble with a lot of other things as well, almost every single plot point and character was showcased in the trailer. The entire film was playing catch-up to the trailer. Side note, and I might be the only person who has a problem with this: Wonder Woman says she stopped being a hero in 1916. As such since then here’s things she’s completely ignored and done nothing about:

  • Half of the first world war.
  • The second world war
  • The holocaust!
  • The cold war
  • Vietnam
  • Korea
  • Iran conflict.
  • War on terror.
  • The fights for equal rights for women and people of colour in the US.
  • Khmer Rouge.
  • The remake of The Wicker Man.

So yeah, f*ck Wonder Woman! She’s a monster.

4. Zack Snyder

Erm, he can’t really direct can he? I’ll admit, his stuff looks good, a lot of shots look like they come direct from the comic books themselves, but that’s the problem. He can adapt shots, but he can’t compose them himself. The best shots in BvS are the ones he’s taken from the source materials. As soon as he has had to compose a shot himself, it looks awful. He cannot tell a story visually, he has absolutely no idea about shot construction etc. Nothing he has ever done has shown any emotion or anything besides “ok that’s a technically good looking shot”. He should not direct, at least not without a very talented co-director. But he would make a fantastic cinematographer. Basically, he’s like a very talented singer in a covers band.

Things That Worked

1. Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot, she was f*cking incredible. Anybody who comes out of this film and doesn’t want a Wonder Woman solo movie should not be trusted to tie their own shoelaces. Which I suppose is a plus for the film in general, it kicks off the universe quite well. It’s got people to buy into the concept of a Batfleck film. It makes people want a Flash film, it even gets people excited about Aquaman, a character who has sadly become a bit of a laughing stock among people lately.

2. Performances

Whilst the jury is still out on Eisenberg (for the record, I didn’t seem to hate it as much as everyone else did), it’s almost beyond argument that Jeremy Irons worked as Alfred. Too many actors have approached Alfred as a kindly relative, the Alfred in this is kind of a bitter drunk. He would not cry when telling Bruce Wayne a story, he’d instead tell him to stop being a stupid prick and just twat him upside the head.

3. The Opening

Yeah, THAT opening scene where we see Bruce Wayne. The moment where we see the battle from Man Of Steel from the perspective of people on the ground. That, was superb and is one of the best moments of not just this film, but any film from this genre. It showed the human side to superhero films, and how terrifying that must be. Sadly these themes were almost completely ignored. They did this again when it seemed like it was starting to discuss whether superheroes can be trusted, whether them existing actually endangers the world and causes more chaos, and who will hold superman to justice? Or to put it another way: Who Watches The Watchmen? This again is just forgotten. But for the moments where these two plot points unfold, the film truly lives up to the hype.

Five great animated Batman films (that are all probably better than Batman v Superman)

With Batman v Superman: Failure to dawn getting DPed with serrated dildos right now, let’s get are minds away from all that and look at the best of the dark knight’s littler seen films, the many great animated flicks that didn’t even make it to cinema (well except one).

Batman: Under Red HoodBatman_under_the_red_hood_poster
Released 2010 (six years ago! Fuck), it quickly gained a reputation for being one of the very best batman films ever, not just animated. Visually inspired with Nolan’s gritty down to earth style; Under Red Hood is the adaptation of Judd Winick’s own batman stories, Hush and Under the Hood, both of which he manages to improve upon, tightening the narrative and sharpening the resolution greatly. The strength of this caper comes from its intriguing mystery and lean into the detective elements of Batman (something NONE of the live-action films want to do!), on top of the very emotionally charged look at Batman’s character, as it retells and develops the death of Jason Todd’s Robin, and how that redefined Batman.

Batman_mask_of_the_phantasm_posterBatman: Mask of the Phantasm
The classic one. This one actually was released in theaters all the way back in 1998, but did badly because of how terrible the live action films were around then (Batman and Robin destroyed soooo much). But unlike those travesties, this film has just gained more and more praise over the years; mostly for its complex portrayal of Bruce Wayne and the development of how his personal life, far beyond the death of his parents, defined his Batman identity, for good and for worse. Spin that round another engaging mystery of a new villain out to settle old scores, and you have one of the seminal original Batman stories. Really if you’re a fan and you haven’t seen this yet, what’s wrong with you?

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Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
The only movie based on the sometimes underrated Batman Beyond series, that may not be as classic as the original animated show, but definitely had its own thing going. Anyway, this film made the smart choice of focusing on the original Batman just as much as the new one, Terry Mcginnis. So not only do we get a compelling look at the younger Batman as he fights to define what the cowl means to him, but we also get some just plain fucked-up development for the original cape crusader, as his legacy is put into even darker contexts with the reveal of his last bout with the Clown Prince of Crime.

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 Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox
Okay, it’s not a Batman film, but a Justice League one that focuses on The Flash. But it’s more than worth a watch just for the universe the story takes place in. After the Flash does some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff he ends up in an alternate universe from the normal DC fare; a much darker one, where Bruce Wayne died instead of his parents, Clark Kent never landed in Smallville, and many more tweaks that ripple throughout this complex and bleak DCU. The central plot around Flash is emotionally compelling enough, but it’s really the messed up elseworld setting that takes the grizzled cake here.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Batman_The_Dark_Knight_Returns_(film)
Two full length movie adaptions of the seminal Frank Miller graphic novel, best viewed as one complete film….what else do I need to say? Is it as good as the comic, no, but it doesn’t miss anything out, and finds plenty of smart ways to blend the famous narration into it without becoming exposition heavy. So if you want the real take on the story, and not the patch work #inspired one BvS has given us, this is a must see for all Batman fans.

Further watching
Honestly, almost all of DC’s animated films. I’ve missed some classic ones here for the sake of diversity; and though clearly not all great, DC’s been doing strong work in the animation front for years, delivering time after time entertaining adaptations, that either lead into their vastly growing continuity like with the last five Batman films; or with some straight adaptations, like the highly anticipated Killing Joke due later this year.

further watching

So if the live action DCCU has ya down, depressed, and ready to go on a Superman sized massacre, just look to the straight to DVD basket for the real DC connected universe.

Recasting: The Justice League

So to celebrate (or commiserate: we haven’t seen it yet) Batman Vs. Superman (or to give it it’s full title: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of The Rise Of The Planet Of Justice League Of National Geographic) we thought we’d do a blog about it. Marvel’s cinematic universe is in full swing (although after the somewhat muted reception to Avengers: Age Of Ultron, it’s fair to say there is a lot riding on Civil War) but what about the DC one? It’s irrelevant to this blog anyway, as we’re reshaping it anyway with our traditional recasting. So here we go!

Superman/Clark Kent

"The Hunger Games" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

Wes Bentley

This was quite hard to do really. I say this as a completely heterosexual person, but Superman has to be good looking. And in a certain way. He can’t be hipster good looking, and he can’t be the kind of guy you imagine stepping shirtless out of a lake, he has to be 1940’s good looking. The kind of guy you imagine playing snooker in a smoke-lit bar. I was going to go for Afleck for this but then realised someone better: Wes Bentley. Otherwise known as the guy who died in the first Hunger Games film. To me he has the look, he has the hair, and he has the certain “otherworld”ness that he needs.

OR

Matt Damon superman

An American as the American icon! Perish the thought! But really, even as he gets up there in years, Damon still has the boyish charms of a boy scout, but the chin and body of a harden soldier. His charismatic roles in light-hearted films like, The Martian, Ocean’s 11, and The Informant shows he can play adorkable very well, while his Bourne franchise shows he can kick-ass with the best of them. Dye his hair black and bulk him up a bit and, BAM-BOOM-WACK, we’ve got a lovable Clark Kent and a badass and charismatic Superman. Really he seems like an obvious choice, and I’m surprised he’s never been approached before. Admittedly he’d have to be an older Superman, but what’s wrong with that?

Batman/Bruce Wayne

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Tom Hiddleston

I know, never going to happen but I think he could do it. The reason why I never really brought Bale as Batman had nothing to do with his performance as Batman, it was his performance as Bruce Wayne that I hated. Bruce Wayne is basically a swaggering cockhead, Bale never had that “I’m the smartest guy in the room” mentality. Hiddleston would. I know some people may doubt he’d be physically imposing enough and to them I say this: Michael Keaton managed it. Side note: I was also considering Tom Hardy for this.

OR

Clive Owen

I really like the look of Ben Affleck as Batman, and I’m not surprised the early reviews for OwenBruceBatman v Superman are siting him as the best thing about it; but as my co-producer said, this is recasting, so we have to recast. So I choose the grizzled British badass himself Clive Owen because… well look at him. Those eyes. That chin! He’s shown he has the charm and wit to play a convincingly smarmy Bruce Wayne in films like Closer, and the action experience and intensity to be a terrifying Batman. Again another older pick, so realistically there would be a restriction to how long he could play the part, but who cares!

Wonder Woman

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Lily James

Yes, I know, Gal Gadot looks like she’ll be f*cking superb. But the name of the blog is recasting so I have to recast. This choice was made entirely because of Pride And Prejudice and Zombies, for which she was absolutely amazing and kicked the right amount of ass. I was also tempted to go with Ronda Rousey before remembering I have no idea if she can act or not. There’s a real lack of women in hollywood who could make believable action heroes.

OR

Emily BluntALL YOU NEED IS KILL

I just like Emily Blunt, can’t lie that’s part of it. But there are a lot of legitimate reasons why she would be a great Wonder Woman. One) she actually looks like a woman, not a teenager (and that’s only a small poke at Gal Gadot, who does look good). And two) with her excellent turns in the recent action heavy Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario, she’s shown she can own complex action set-pieces with the best of them, and can play intelligent militaristic characters with human flaws to a tee; traits a good Wonder Woman needs, coming from an island of Warrior Women and all.

Green Lantern

Nathan Fillion

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Mainly because in my head I can hear him do the Lantern Oath in my head. And he looks like the kind of guy who’s had powers bestowed upon him, rather than having been born.

 

OR

Michael B. Jordan

John Stewart has always been my favorite Green Lantern, and after the disastrous abortionlantern of 2011’s Hal Jordan Green Lantern film, I think a change of pace with the hero is needed. Now Michael B. Jordan maybe a bit young to play the part, but he’s a fast rising star who’s already proven himself to have the chops to carry a film and do action well, so a younger take on the character could easily work, and add some needed levity to the DCCU. Honestly Jordan would make the perfect Cyborg too, having already voiced the character in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, but we didn’t include him on this list because well, who thinks of Cyborg when you think of the Justice League!

Aquaman

eye-candy-ryan-gosling-4Ryan Gosling

Imagine the fanservice! The film would have an excuse to have Ryan Gosling walking slowly out of a puddle of water, thereby doubling your ticket sales AND encouraging a few more puddles of wetness in the audience. He has the looks, he DEFINITELY has the star power, and if you’ve seen Only God Forgives etc you know he has the acting skills necessary. Aquaman is generally regarded as a bit lame by the mainstream audience, so it needs somebody who can kick it back into relevancy. And who better than Gosling?

OR

Charlie Hunnamimg_0665

I haven’t seen Sons of Anarchy, or even Pacific Rim, though heard great things about both. The only things I’ve seen him in are Crimson Peaks, which was fine, and the UK Queer as Folk series, which I didn’t realize was him till just now. So this is based purely on look and reputation, but Hunnam looks perfect to bring the king of the sea to the big screen, and would actually fit the character’s iconic (and heavily mocked) design, adding the much needed edge and toughness too it, instead of just changing it like the Jason Momoa version has.

American Beauty: the secret stoner classic

For a film that won five Oscars (and five big ones too) American Beauty has become surprisingly underrated over the last few years. Now seen (and hated) as an outdated product of the nineties, people look at the dark-comedy classic the same as Forest Gump, or Crash: over done and over sold (I disagree of course).….and though I can’t argue that it is definitely of it’s time, I’ve never seen being able to tell when a film was made as a negative.

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But whether American Beauty is still a great film is not what I’m here to talk about, I’m here to talk about why along with the likes of Friday and Dazed and Confused, American Beauty is a classic stoner film, only made better by the smoking of our little green friend.

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And I don’t just say that because it has pot in it, because it is smoked on screen, but because of how it’s used in the film and relates to its themes and story. It represents freedom (of course): almost every character in the film is seen smoking at some point and it’s always at moments of great discovery or triumph, when they manage, in big or small ways, to break out of the prisons they live in. It’s a liberating force.

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Lester smokes a joint, then that night stands up to his wife for the first time in years. Jane smokes, and she begins to see beyond Ricky’s demeanor leading to their romance. Carolyn fucks the real estate king then has a big’ol spliff. They finally do something about their problems. And doesn’t that bag monologue (which I legitimately find poignant (though the amazing score helps) make a whole load more sense when you realize Ricky is blazed off his ass? Sometimes you need to see things at an angle to really see them…

It’s a very progressive message for a 90s film of its kind, to paint the plant not just as the childish pastime of kids and wastoids, but as a welcome tool to survive the conformity of the suburban day to day, and escape it.

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But it’s not just its use in the movie that makes it a great stoner film; it’s a surprising blast to watch too! Being the closest thing to a comedy to win Best Picture, you really feel the humor in the film when high. In the dark satirical wit a lot of the characters speak in, but especially Spacey’s incredibly deadpan and schmucky delivery which always brings the chuckles, except when he gets dark and you see the layers of Frank Underwood already take root.

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But it’s not just the humor you get into. As fun as it is to smoke and just zoink out on life, using it to open yourself up, to be fully engaged by something is even more satisfying, and the drama and darkness that bubbles beneath American Beauty like boiling tar is made even more potent and relatable.

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From every drippingly dry line, to every sentimental word and look, your pulled into the tragedy of it all, all the lies and broken dreams that have constructed themselves into an idea of a good life. You see so much closer… through the mystic green haze.

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People seem to hate American Beauty as by today’s sensibilities it’s just another film about white guys having white guy problems, like we need any more of those. And it is; that is what American Beauty is about, the secret horrors of the suburban middle class, and it’s one of the best ones at it.

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It’s the film that perfected what so many of the countless other middle aged white men problem films, like Fight Club and The Ice Storm, were trying to say and do. And just because it kind of set the trend of those films off doesn’t mean it should be hated for it; people don’t hate Harry Potter for starting this whole YA novel craze (well not yet they don’t).

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Fan of American Beauty? You should also check out…(stoner quality will vary)

People forget the context the film was made in: it feels and deals with dated issues because that’s what was timely seventeen years ago (though I think it still holds some relevance today), these where the issues and problems in the back of everyone’s mind, and this film brought them to the surface, like a more friendly Blue Velvet.  Is is a subtle film? Not always. But is America always subtle?

american_beauty
almost every scene has…

Give it another ten years and I bet everyone will have come round again, and like Rebel Without a Cause, Apocalypse Now, and many before it, it will be looked upon as a staple of that era of American history, and a large block in the up-hill fight for weed legalisation.

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“Spectacular”

So next time you feel like time traveling to an era where adults acted like kids, kids like adults, and no one knew what they wanted anymore; light up a blunt and be ready to laugh, cry, and be moved at the funny little tragedy that is American Beauty.

5 Of The Worst Comic Book Adaptation Castings

Yes, it’s time for the disappointing sequel to last weeks blog. I would explain what it entails but if you can’t gather what this blog is about from the title then you’re not really our intended audience.

5. Val Kilmer – Batman Forever

Val-Kilmer-Bruce-WayneBatman

Do I even need to explain why? I mean, look at him! I won’t do the unfair thing of posting a current picture of him and decrying that, I’m looking at a picture of him from the film. Awful, just awful. . Do you know who I blame for this miscasting? Not the director, not even the studio. I blame this man:

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Yup, Ethan f*cking Hawke. Now I know, I blame him for everything, but this time I have justification (unlike the time I blamed for the time I fell over a cat). He was offered the role and turned it down.

4. Jamie Kennedy – Son Of The Mask

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The original film was very much a product of its time, pushing the line between light and darkness, and launching the career of both Cameron Diaz and Jim Carrey. At the time it was the second highest grossing superhero film, and considering that it’s based on an unknown quantity it’s amazing that it took the studios so long to realise that if the film is good enough the fact not enough people know the source won’t matter (a lesson that it could be argued wasn’t truly utilised until Guardians Of The Galaxy in 2014). Now, let me just say here that I do really hate Jim Carrey, but that’s not based on the quality of his work, more the stupid idiotic things he says.

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Things like this

But credit where credit’s due, he’s a good clown. And that’s what this film needs, a clown, someone slightly elastic and otherworldy. And he does that very well. You cannot replace that with Jamie Kennedy, a person who’s done almost nothing of note outside of that E3 omnishambles. So yeah, on this note, Jim Carrey was the better option.

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3. Jim Carrey – Kick Ass 2

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Now this has nothing to do with his performance in the film, which was actually surprisingly good, and everything to do with his promotional work for the film. Which consisted of him disowning the film and telling people not to watch it. His reasoning was that after the Sandy Hook massacre, saying he could no longer support being in a film with that level of violence. Because before Sandy Hook there was never any violence, and certainly no mass shootings. Nope, not, a, single, one.

Whilst I have no doubt that Sandy Hook was a tragedy, for it to be the bit of violence that tips you over the edge is just strange. It’s almost naive to think there was no violence in the world before that, and his reaction is like a school child getting into politics “guys, guys, did you know there was a war years ago?” You read the script, you signed on to do it, in a world that was post-Columbine, post-9/11 etc you knew what you were doing. So for you to not fulfil your duties post-filming is just shameful. If you want your profession to be seen as a proper job, then actually do the thing you’re paid to do.

2 Idris Elba – Thor

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Now this is in no way a slight on his performance, or even a slight on him. In fact it’s the opposite, the reason I oppose this is because he’s too good for such a minimal role. And the fact he’s now such a badly written (barely even) supporting role is an insult to an actor of his quality. Now I don’t want to be a prick and say like “oh, he’s much better than that, proper actors shouldn’t do super hero films”, I just feel he could have played another role. The fact he has already been established in the Marvel Universe means he now can’t move into another role within the universe, one with a bit more gravitas (and screentime).

1. Robert Swenson – Batman And Robin.

BaneJS

I know, it may be unfair as he’s not an actor. But I remember when it was announced that Tom Hardy was Bane, all that people were talking about was how big a failure the character was in Batman and Robin so this means that the film will surely fail with such a weak character. Now, I know he’s a devastating character in the comics, but most people who would be going to see the film aren’t going to have read the comics. All they will know about the character is what he was like in the film. Part of it was due to the way the character was written, but part of it was due to the casting as well. The fact they didn’t even cast an actual actor, instead casting an overweight wrestler, spoke volumes about how seriously the makers took the character, and it almost killed the chances of the character being taken seriously.

 

5 Of The Best Comic Book Adaptation Castings

For those of you who don’t live on twitter or facebook, and as such, don’t exist to me, International Woman’s Day on Tuesday. I felt I should commemorate this by doing a blog about it, maybe the best films directed by women? Maybe the best actress’s, or maybe the best female roles in films. The possibilities are endless. Then I realised, that’s condescending as f*ck so went with this instead: Enjoy!

1. Robin Lord Taylor – The Penguin (Gotham)

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I thought I’d start with the one that will annoy the most people. Not with picking someone that isn’t good, because he is VERY good in this, but because what it means for the rest of the blog. You see, I decided to limit myself in this blog to one per franchise. So this is the Batman one. Think about that, that means I’m not including Heath Ledger, I’m not including Jack Nicholson, Adam West, Anne Hathaway (which considering how much I love Hathaway, really says something), Michael Keaton, Mark Hamill, Robert Swenson.

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That alone should say how good I find his performance. But I’ll try to explain it better: before I watched the series I HATED the character of The Penguin. It seemed to cartooney, too silly to work, so something could never work in a modern gritty show. Yet with him, it works. He’s without a doubt the best part of the show, and makes it worth watching just for him.

2. Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man (erm, Iron Man)

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Let’s get something straight, a lot of you don’t like the Iron Man character. You may think you do, but you don’t. You like Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Let’s face it, when Marvel made this film it was risky, more than it would seem to be now. Captain America would have been a much safer bet as he’s more recognisable. But Iron Man was better as a character to introduce the audience to the universe. Luckily it paid off as now we have Guardians Of The Galaxy etc, on the downside, we also have Avengers: Age Of Ultron. So it’s not all good.

3. JK Simmons – J.Jonah Jameson (Sam Raimi Spider-Man)

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I’m not doing this blog in any particular order really, just the order I feel like, because I’m a rebel who don’t play by society’s rules, man! If I was doing them in order of how absolutely PERFECT the casting is, this would be top. Numero uno. Number one. Top Gun. Jaws. The Godfather.

It’s often said that certain actors are born to play certain roles, and this is the one that he was absolutely BORN to play. He’s not playing the character here, he is the character. He embodies absolutely everything about it. God knows who they replaced him with when they rebooted the series, probably some blonde sweepy haired blue eyed prick from Dawson’s Creek or something.

4. Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool

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I was tempted to go with James “Smugface” McAvoy for the X-Men section. He gave Xavier a certain vulnerability that Patrick Stewart was never really given the chance to. Then I thought, maybe Fassbender as Magneto? I mean, he OWNED that role. Or maybe Hugh Jackman for defying all odds and being amazing at Wolverine (odd to think now, but a lot comic book fans HATED the idea of him as Wolverine when it was announced. But then again they also hated it when Ledger was announced as The Joker and Ben Afleck was announced as Batman, so really this just proves they don’t have a f*cking clue). But then I thought; f*ck it, it has to be Reynolds. It really does. Not just for what he did in the film, but because of how he’s embraced the character out of the film as well.

5. Christopher Reeve – Superman

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Do you even need to ask why? I mean, LOOK AT HIM!

 

So yeah, that’s it for today. Subscribe, follow, comment, stalk us and send us cake. You know, the usual 🙂

The Oscars: who, what, and why

It’s every movie blog’s right of way to write about the Oscars, so a week later and barely still topical, here are our thoughts on the industry circle jerk we call the Academy Awards. (Don’t worry we’ve got some interesting posts coming in the next few weeks, including American Beauty; the secret stoner classic, and a look at possibly the best TV Show of the last ten years, Mad Men.)

Best Actor

Who Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenantleonardo-dicaprio-revenant-trailer-buried-alive-092915

Who should have Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. Is it his best performance? No. Does it feel a bit more like a career win than anything else? Yes. But in not a very strong year for lead acting performances, his raw and bleeding turn in The Revenant was definitely deserving and definitely won’t be remembered with the same hate other career wins have, like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

ayouth4Who should have been nominated: Surprisingly difficult to pick another great lead performance from 2015, but I’m going with Michael Caine from Youth. Though a very natural role for the old actor to slip into, it was still towering above anything he’s done in the last few years, and maybe even his whole career. Caine brings a real edge and melancholy to the aged composer, and though a very specific character in his own right, manages to cut to the heart of all people old and young, to make us treasure the life we still have to lead, and the life we already have.

Best Actress

Who Won: Brie Lawson for RoomPicture1

Who should have Won: Brie Lawson for Room. No I don’t agree with every choice, but this was another good one. Along with the snubbed Jacob Tremblay, the pair brought the needed heart to what could have been (and in some ways was) an over wrought melodrama with a very topical and timely story. But the performances are what boosted this to an effective and moving drama, and the whole film is worth it for that escape scene alone.

maxresdefaultWho should have been nominated: Bel Powley for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. No actress last year gave more of an emotional, funny, heart-breaking, fun, sincere, and just naked performance than Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. She was the embodiment of the teenager, and her courage to commit to the sexually explicit role added more emotional weight than all of the actual nominations combined.

Best supporting Actor

Who Won: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies Bridgeof-Spies-777x437

19-creed-stallone.w600.h600Who should have Won: Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Not that I think his performance is better than Rylance’s (but it is as good), I just think the sentiment of Sylvester Stallone winning an Oscar for Rocky would have been nicer, as we all doubt he’s got another one in him (but who knows). His performance is also genuinely very strong and thoughtful, and I think the main reason he didn’t win in the end was because Creed got too sentimental about itself near the end, and the cancer subplot was a bit much.

Who should have been nominated: Jason Segel for The End of The Tour. I already went into jason-segel-the-end-of-the-tour-trailerdetail about his performance in our year end awards post here. But to say again, Segel shocked everyone with his subtle and quiet turn as the famed writer David Foster Wallace, his performance doing the surprising thing of letting us see his humanity, instead of understanding his genius (like most biopic type films try to do). With the right push I could have seen him getting a nomination, the Academy tend to love when comic actors go serious.

 

Best supporting Actress

Who Won: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

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leeWho should have Won: Ahhhhh let’s say, Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. Don’t really have much for any of the nominations, but Leigh’s excellent turn as the vulgar and funny Daisy Domergue was one of the films highlights, having physicality you don’t see enough in female roles, and it was one of the few nominations that didn’t feel Oscar-baity.

this-is-what-a-femiWho should have been nominated: Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road. Talking of physicality, Charlize Theron has in in buckets as Imperator Furiosa, and gave one of the most intense and physically (and emotionally) raw performances of last year. The fact Rachel McAdams’ got a nomination for her okay work in Spotlight and Charlize Theron didn’t is just an insult, especially with how Oscar friendly the film was treated. Would an acting nomination really just too much for you Academy? Did all the sand and dust confuse you and you thought she was black!

Best Director

Who Won: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant.

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Who should have Won: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Like with the supporting georgemiller2-xlargeactors, this is less a who’s better choice, and more just the context of the win. Both directors worked in insane conditions to produce their fine films and I think the directing shown in both is as good as each other, from the harrowingly naturally lit landscapes of The Revenant, to the perfect mess of explosions and carnage of Fury Road. But with Alejandro G. Iñárritu having already won last year for Birdman I think it would have been better for the Academy to show love for the talent in a genre and style that rarely gets it.

Who should have been nominated: Paolo Sorrentino for Youth. A very underrated film that should have been much more award friendly than it was. Paolo Sorrentino’s funny and heart-warming if also heart shattering meditation on aging and fame was one of the most breath taking films of 2015, and was directed with more abstract beauty than any other, and felt more like art than a film in many ways. Just look at this opening shot!

Would of given this to Pete Docter for Inside Out, but I guess I went with style over practicality.

Best screenplay  

Who Won: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight.

Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer

d92df7b77dc6506907a694978860da35Who should of Won: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley for Inside Out. Inside Out is one of the most imaginative, smart, and emotionally resonating films I’ve ever seen, it already stands proud amongst Pixar’s classics and was considered by many to be the pinnacle of 2015’s films. And the idea on paper could have gone soooooo wrong, ‘what if feelings had feelings’, it sounds more like a joke Pixar film than a real one. But with an intelligent script, vivid and mature takes on the ideas, and the most poignant message given to us last year, Inside Out was definitely it’s best original script…that I saw.11202259_ori

Who should have been nominated: 99 Homes, an almost mathematically well written and very emotionally intense film about the housing crises. I’m a fan of stories about the good man’s fall to the dark side (Star Wars prequels withstanding) and this film does this masterfully, shaping a very sympathetic lead with the single father Andrew Garfield and a very compelling antagonist with Michael Shannon’s corrupt estate tycoon, who should really have had his own supporting nod too. With this, on top of The Big Short and Margin Call, you really get a complete picture of the different effects of the 2010 housing crises.   

 

Best Adapted screenplay   the-big-short-movie-poster

Who Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short.

Who should have Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short. I agree with the Academy again for this one; Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took a highly complex issue and made it not just understandable and relatable to a mass audience, but funny, dramatic, and engaging too. Some people complain that the film fails because even after it they were even more confused by the credit crunch than before, with its use of celebrities using big words, but do you know what I call those people; Americans.

14702-10469-14473-10034-Michael-Fassbender-Steve-Jobs-Movie-2015-l-lWho should have been nominated: Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs. Arron Sorkin writing a feature screenplay is like Meryl Streep acting in anything, it should almost automatically get nominated, and Steve Jobs is no exception. His second film about a computer billionaire, Sorkin’s signature dialogue crackles in this very showy and masterfully executed play set in three real time acts, that manage to explore the humanity of Steve Jobs and his co-workers without leaving the confides of the backstage.

Best Score

Who Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.

Who should have Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight. Not really in love with any of the nominated scores, so I thought I’d go with the consensus, and it’s nice for the Grandfather of western soundtracks to finally bag the award, also it is a damn fine score.

Who should have been nominated: Michael Giacchino for Inside Out, Bundle of Joy. This is legitimately my favourite score of 2015. It’s charming, catchy, and effective. It perfectly captures the bright tone of the film while still resonating for the emotional moments; the ice skating memory scene being a real favourite of mine. It’s magic. What can I say; Inside Out is already a classic, and what classic isn’t complete without its iconic music.

Best Picture

Who Won: Spotlight.index

Who should have Won: Spotlight. Mad Max was close, but out of the nominations I really think Spotlight was the most worthy of them all. Was it the most artsy? No. The most experimental? No. It was a good old fashioned journalism film about a very hard issue, and it taught us all something we should learn, about the power of understating and letting the story and facts speak for themselves. Some people call it boring because it intentionally holds back on the easy drama, and focuses on it like a mystery instead of lampooning Priest and the catholic Church, as it’s smart enough to let the facts do that for it, and not to ‘sex’ it up in anyway like a lot of investigation films do; because that would make it shlock.

Who should have been nominated (and fucking won): Inside Out. I’ve already spoken in insideout8-xlargegreat detail about why this is the best film of 2015, and I was shocked after all it’s critical praising that it wasn’t at least nominated for best picture, because that’s what it was. Hell, back when I first saw it I would have put flesh on it being the first animated film to win best picture. But it’s shameful absence just goes to show that, along with race, sexism, homophobia and everything else, the Academy still have a long way to go before they really look at all films and filmmakers equally.

And that’s that for this year’s Oscars! I know I didn’t even cover half of the awards but I covered the ones I care about, and I know who’s ever reading this doesn’t want to hear me prattle on for pages about what I think should win an arbitrary award that means about as much to the quality of a film as a #1 Dad coffee mug.

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The 5 Most Annoying Trends In Horror Movies

Last week I went to see the forgettable The Forest when it occurred to me, there’s been no genre with as high a disappointment ratio as horror. In the last two years (or since I started getting a cineworld card), I’ve only seen two very good horror films: The Babadook and It Follows. It’s probably the only genre with more films I’ve disliked (Annabelle, Poltergeist, The Gallows, Unfriended) than liked. I’ve figured out that I dislike most of the films for the same reasons, so I looked at those reasons and list them here.

1. Native Americans/Japan

So what’s the cause for this demon that’s haunting everybody? Well, you just need to go for either Native-American or Japanese. The Japanese one is simply the fear of the unknown, but it’s not really unknown anymore. This isn’t the 70’s anymore, we’re aware of Japan etc and we’re no longer ignorant of their culture. So it’s weird that we do seem that a lot of modern horror films just go “because Japan has ghosts” as an acceptable answer. But that’s nowhere near as one that’s almost become cliche: Native Americans. This is a lot simpler, it’s to make do for the guilt of the genocide that took place hundreds of years ago, so we imply that they were a noble people with power beyond our grasp,bestowing upon them a knowledge and power that makes us feel okay with almost wiping them out. There’s not many modern American horror things in real life, there’s not many countrywide urban legends and rituals, so using Native Americans or the culture of the Japanese is just lazy shorthand.

2. Soundtracks.

Quick, what do the following have in common: The Exorcist, Halloween, Psycho? Well, they’re all horrors which have stood the test of time. But try to remember something about this films, odds are you just had the soundtrack to one of them in your head. Which makes me feel sad that this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore, It Follows is the only horror with a really good original soundtrack I’ve seen in seemingly forever. Most films just go with filling their soundtrack with rock music so they can make more money from the soundtrack. The trouble with this is that familiarity makes you feel safe, so when you’re watching a film and you’re sitting there and you recognise the music then you automatically get taken out of the film, you’re no longer scared. It’s like my nan used to say: Its impossible to be scared whilst listening to Creed. The only exception is if the characters themselves are listening to music, then you’re allowed to have familiarity. But if you’re having a horror chase scene to a song by P.O.D, then I won’t be scared, I’ll be wondering why the hell you chose that song. Please note: I know that Tubular Bells is a Mike Oldfield song that does exist outside of The Exorcist, but there is a difference between the way that the film used that, and the way that modern films use music.

3. Lack Of Originality

Yes, I know there’s been a Point Break remake this year, and there will soon be a Ghostbusters one. But no film genre is as incestuous and mastubatory as horror. Look, I know why this happens. It can be hard to market horror, it can be difficult to make people feel scared in a 30 second advert. So it’s tempting to just do a familiar concept so that people think “oh, that’s another film about killer t-shirts strangling people, I love them!” and go to see it. Companies want to showcase the best moments in the trailers, this is why you get the best jokes from comedies in the trailer. But in horror that’s different, you can take the scariest scene from a film, but take it out of it’s context and it’s meaningless. The best adverts I’ve seen for horror over the last few years have been It Follows and The Gallows. Because they showed absolutely nothing. You left the trailer with more questions than when it started, you wanted to see it to find out what happened. In this sense, less is definitely more. Ok, The Gallows ended up being a dire pile of faecal matter, but the trailer was superb.

4. Final Jump Scare

I blame Paranormal Activity for this. That film (apparently) stayed relatively restrained throughout, but then ended with something jumping towards the camera, thereby making it a feature length version of one of those videos that asshole at work always shows you. The reasoning behind this was that it would mean the audience would leave the cinema still shaking, otherwise, you know, they might have forgotten it was a horror movie and think they just watched P.S I Love You (which is a film which inspires horror and despair, but for a different reason entirely). The trouble with these fourth wall breaking scares is they break the story. By this point the ghost or demon or cannibalistic giraffe has already been destroyed and everyone lives happily, but to then have the thing leap at the audience at the end just means the story isn’t over. And if there’s no sequel then the film is completely pointless as nothing changed, it’s just a story of a demon that kills then kills again. Now, this is different from a downer ending where you feel an unending sense of doom, as they’re usually set up well so you’re walking out scared of the world as opposed to just the tiny amount of fear that jump scares inspire.

Worst Offender: Unfriended

Not only was this pointless, but it ruined what would have been a fantastic ending that almost saved the film.

5. Jump Scares

If you’ve seen a horror film lately you know what this is, quiet quiet quiet, sudden loudness and something happens. This scares the audience. But it doesn’t, not really. It doesn’t fill you with terror and make you scared outside of the film. It won’t effect your life once you’ve left the cinema. Basically; they don’t last. You don’t walk around afterwards with that sense of genuine terror. Look, we get it, being genuinely scary is hard, but if you can’t do it, don’t bother attempting. I don’t want to be fine after your film, I want your film to fuck me up and leave me unable to sleep. And jump scares don’t do that. You can have a few of them, but they can’t be the entire modus operandi.