2017 In Film: Part 3 (The Pretty Good)

Okay, this one’s harder to define. A lot of the ones in this are very, very, good films. They just weren’t for me. They’re films which I admire, but don’t really feel anything for. One’s I’m very glad I’ve seen, but I don’t need to see again. As usual these have been decided by a group of people broken down by age and money (i.e. me, because nobody is more broken down by age and money than me)

Catfight

A shockingly visceral film, not just in terms of the fights, but also in terms of the story and the tone. The punches in the narrative hit just as hard as the actual punches (of which there are many). A film I first saw on Netflix, and very glad for that as I don’t think I would have liked it at all if I saw it at the cinema.

+The pacing and the way they tell the story is sublime.

-Only really has one major idea.

Dunkirk

One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. This is the one I think I’ll get the most flack for putting in here. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a VERY good film. But I had the same problem with this I had with Interstellar, I was never really pulled into it. It was so cinematic that I was constantly aware I was watching a movie, I never really lost myself in it completely. As such it was hard for me to be 100% invested in it.

+Pretty much everything. Is a fantastic watch.

-Doesn’t really connect emotionally.

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This guy, this guy is going places. AMAZING performance.

Going In Style

A tale of two films in terms of directing. The opening section is really weirdly shot in terms of colour, kind of ugly. But once the story gets going and the heist gets going, it starts to look a lot better. The main performances are good, but Joey King, who plays Michael Caine’s granddaughter is really good in the short amount of time she’s given. Logical story, but sadly one that doesn’t have the guts to stick the knife in emotionally when it should.

+Joey King. Her performance in this almost makes up for Wish Upon. Almost.

-Plays it safe far too often.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are.

+The Flash. That character is so well done in this. I’ve never watched the show, and I’m not a big comic reader so I don’t know much about him, but if he’s like he is in this film, I love him.

-DC really suck at doing compelling villains. And pacing. Also, it’s overshadowed by everybody being excited about Infinity War.

Kong: Skull Island

I went into this with low expectations. I was thinking “but I’ve already seen everything, how can spectacle cinema work in this day and age? And you showed too much Kong in the trailer, you idiots, you ruined everything I hate you, I wish I’d never been born!”. Looking back at it, that may have been an overreaction. The film was, well it was solid. It showed that spectacle can still work in a post Avatar world. It’s not a “I must buy this film immediately”, kind of film, but if it’s on TV at some point, grab a couple of mates, get some beers in, and leave your brain at the door. Of the non-Marvel films that attempt to set up a cinematic universe, this is one of the best (although that is damning with faint praise).

+There’s a fantastically brutal scene where people walk through the island and a giant spiders leg pierces someone through the throat. Deliciously brutal and sets up that this film won’t shy away from destruction.

-Very little substance to it. Also, bits of it were so obviously made with the intention of being viewed in 3D, so when you watch it in 2D you’re kind of disappointed.

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Moonlight

Oh wait, forget what I said about Dunkirk. This is the one that I’ll get shit for. Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it. This deserves all the accolades it received, was a phenomenal piece of cinema, and one that everyone does need to see at least once.

+The story is a deeply personal one, and if you don’t connect with it in some way then you may be dead inside.

-I felt there was a lot left out between the years we saw that never really got into which personally I would have loved to see. I’m not going to say this about many films, but this could have been improved by being A LOT longer. It had so much to say in such a relatively short time that it didn’t say all it needed to.

Rough Night

A film that really earns it’s R-Rating. Also has the second most random Bo Burnham appearance I’ve seen in film this year.

+Very very funny.

-Kate McKinnon’s Australian accent slips more than a pensioner walking on ice.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Very well made. The scene near the end on the canals is a particular highlight. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson have really good chemistry, I think this is the first time they’ve worked together but I hope it’s not the last.

+Does what it needs to, very very well.

-Tries so hard to appear adult, it occasionally comes off as juvenile.

The Limehouse Golem

Incredibly British, with a stunning twist. The film equivalent of a murder mystery book. I’d be very surprised if this was anybody’s favourite film, but I’d also be surprised if anyone actively hated it. In fact, it’s hard to feel anything too strong about it. It’s like an odd mix between a BBC miniseries and a Telltale Game, but not quite as good as either.

+Does a great job of sucking you into the world. Almost immediately you feel like a spectator for it unfolding. Also, you actually want to find out what happens. You’re not sitting there thinking “just get to the end and let me know”, you allow yourse’f to observe and wonder.

-Not quite memorable enough to be worthwhile.

How We Got Through….November 2017

Brooklyn

Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.

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This is also my starbucks order.

Death Note

More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.

Geostorm

Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending”. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

Glory Daze

You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

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Actually love this image

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.

Kung Fury

Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?

Mindhorn

Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.

Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.

Moonlight

Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Murder On The Orient Express

A lot better than I thought it would be. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film.

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You can definitely see why I was mistaken though, right?

 

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

The Crane Wife

Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.

The Dark Tower

Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more.

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

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Plus, look at that cast

The Eyes Of My Mother

I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

5 Amazing Comic Book Movies Still To Come In 2017

5. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Okay, not technically based on a comic book, but is the sequel to a film that is. The trailer for this will be released later today, two teasers already been made (one of which is the entire trailer sped up to fit into 10 second, very cool and innovative way of doing it, already led to people slowing it down and discussing it). No idea how they’re going to bring back Colin Firth’s character, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure they wouldn’t bring him back for no reason, not as though they’re short of credible actors in this film; they’ve got Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore etc. Not released until September but already really looking forward to it.

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4. Wonder Woman

Saw the trailer, loved it. Gal Gadot was one of the best things about Batman Vs. Superman, so the fact her character has FINALLY got a full length feature is very exciting. Basically seems like an origin story, which I’m okay with as her origin hasn’t permeated popular culture that much so for new people they would need to know that. Of course, it would have been a better idea if they did this film BEFORE Batman Vs. Superman as at the moment I can’t see their being any tension in it all. Not for her character anyway, you know she’s going to survive so you won’t worry if she’s safe, which means that unless the film kills somebody she’s close to it won’t be able to land emotionally enough to be effective. Really hope this does well, mainly because if it doesn’t, internet assholes (and studio executives) will blame the fact it’s a female character for the failure, and be more reluctant to do female-led movies in the future.

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3. Justice League

Mainly curious about this one. Personally (and I’m happy to be proven wrong), I think the DC Extended Universe scheduling has been a complete mess so far. BvS should not have been the second film in the series, you need to build up tension between the characters first in other films so that it feels like it means something, as it was it just felt like “hey, this is happening” “and? Who cares?”. They’ve done that fight so early on in the series that there’s not that much left for them to do, there’s not many “big events” they have to call back on (especially since they’ve also already done The Death Of Superman). Related to this, Justice League should not be released this year. It’s too big a film to come out so soon after Wonder Woman, they’ve already released the trailers for this before Wonder Woman is out. They’re really rushing this through and it could end up harming the product in the long run. Although I am still kind of excited about it, so what do I know?

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2. Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2

Released very soon, really looking forward to it. Had a kind of average marketing campaign, I’d hoped the marketing campaign of Deadpool would lead to more innovative and unique marketing for “quirky” comic book films, but seems like it’s just standard “trailer tease, trailer, second trailer, release” kind of thing. Trailer looks good though, slight risk that they’re intentionally trying to create memes with it, which hasn’t been too annoying in the trailers but if the rest of the film is like that it could be off-putting. Guardians is in a weird place this time, the first one was so good that expectations are high, which is almost the complete opposite of what the situation was last time, where everybody expected this to be the iceberg that sinks the MCU Titanic. Have to wonder whether this will be the film where they explicitly acknowledge the link between it and the rest of the MCU. Also, I really hope it’s not just going to be a rehash of the first one. I want to be amazed during this, but I trust Marvel, so I think I will be.

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1. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was one of the (many many) highlights of Captain America: Civil War, so much so that it almost made audiences completely forget that this is the third reboot of the franchise in a short period of time. Confession time: He’s one of the characters I’ve never really liked in films, he’s always supposed to be a teenager but is never played as one. At least, not an actual teenager, he’s played like the leading man in a teen drama where “anxiety” and “shy geek” just means “is friends with the most popular girl in school but hasn’t dated her yet” and the only sign of their geekdom is that people with letters on their jacket (I now know it’s their school letters, but I will never stop having a small part of me think it’s their initials so they don’t forget their names) shove them into lockers. This Spider-Man however is a teenager, he geeks out over superheroes, he messes up, he gets overexcited (which then leads to more mistakes). More importantly: he’s fun. He’s a funny, engaging character whom is inherently likeable, and should do well in his full length debut, which is thankfully, not an origin story.

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Note to directors: EVERYBODY knows this scene, it’s NEVER been needed in a film

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.