Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game. Continue reading
Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game. Continue reading
Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.
Directors; to many casual film goers, they are the driving force behind all aspects of a movie. And while those of us who actually work in film, writing scripts, editing footage, mixing sound and so on, know that this isn’t true, it is true that directors can have a huge influence on a picture’s look, tone, and style. And that look and style can attract audiences, and make the pictures better as a whole. Now there are certain directors whose look and style have become well known to the public–the Spielbergs, the Burtons, the Tarantinos–but there are others whose talent is clear when you watch their films but, for whatever reason, they and their work have remained out of the spotlight. I’d like to remedy that today. Here is my list of awesome, underrated directors who should totally helm a blockbuster. Why a blockbuster? Because that’s what most people see, and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s the only way most of us will ever hear about these artists.
1. Bong Joon-Ho.
- What They’ve Done: The Host, Snowpiercer, Okja.
- What I’d Like Them To Do: A Star Wars Movie.
Perhaps the best-known filmmaker on this list, Bong Joon-Ho is one of my all-time favorite directors, and a household name back in his native Korea. And yet, despite all his critical and commercial success in Asia, he remains relatively unknown in the West. Film nerds have probably watched a few of his flicks, but the vast majority of audiences aren’t familiar with his sumptuous visuals, dark humor, sudden shifts in tone, and biting social commentary, all of which make him ideal to helm a Star Wars movie. Just watch The Host, see how he shoots action, writes villainous characters, and uses creature effects, and tell me you couldn’t see him directing an episode in a galaxy far, far away.
2. Jaume Collet-Serra.
- What They’ve Done: Non-Stop, The Shallows, Orphan.
- What I’d Like Them To Do: A MIssion Impossible Movie.
Best known for his many collaborations with Liam Neeson, Spanish director Jaume Collet Serra has a habit of taking silly genre scripts, and turning them into much better films than they have any right to be. Seriously. If you take a hard look at the plots of any of his features–Unknown, Non-Stop, Orphan–they don’t really hold up. But the films themselves are so well-acted, so beautifully shot, and so viscerally entertaining that you don’t really care. Which makes him an ideal match for the Mission Impossible franchise, which, let’s be honest, isn’t really famous for having the most believable story lines, but whose insane action set pieces more than make up for that. And let’s not forget, several of Collet-Serra’s flicks, like Unknown, have espionage elements to them. So it’s not altogether out of his wheelhouse.
3. Wes Ball.
- What They’ve Done: The Maze Runner Trilogy.
- What I’d Like Them To Do: A Fast & Furious Movie.
Say what you like about the Maze Runner films–I, personally, am not a huge fan–they have amazing action sequences. Even these movies’ harshest critics agree that the chases, the fight scenes, and the stunt work are incredible, and that the director, Wes Ball, has a good eye for action. So what better franchise to put him in than the Fast & Furious, which we all can agree is extremely light on story, but very heavy on amazing set pieces? I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Ball could concoct some truly bonkers action scenes, and give this series’ fans the high octane thrills they crave.
4. Mike Flanagan.
- What They’ve Done: Oculus, Hush, Gerald’s Game.
- What I’d Like Them To Do: A Batman Movie.
One of this generations true horror masters, Mike Flanagan’s films work, not just because they’re beautifully shot, and possess ghosts and serial killers, but because of their fascinating explorations of their characters’ pasts and psyches. Gerald’s Game and Oculus are all about people revisiting childhood trauma, and trying to work through it. And if there’s one blockbuster franchise that relishes horror, and childhood trauma, it’s Batman. He’s a tormented character, who just can’t let his past go, and several of his rogues, the Joker, Scarecrow, Two Face, are horrifying manifestations of various mental illnesses. So who better to helm a Batman film than a horror master with an interest in dissecting the minds of damaged people? Well, okay, I’m sure there are loads of filmmakers who’d be totally great for Batman, but Mike Flanagan is at the top of my list.
5. Takashi Miike.
- What They’ve Done: 13 Assassins, Audition, Ichi The Killer.
- What I’d Like Them To Do: A Predator Movie.
A prolific and controversial director, whose work I’ve written about before, Takashi Miike is perfectly suited for the Predator franchise. Why? Because just like John McTiernan’s 1987 classic, which began as action, and ended as horror, many of Miike’s films blend genres and tones. Several of his features, like Yakuza Apocalypse and Ichi The Killer, synthesize elements of thrillers and horror. Many more, like Fudoh: The New Generation, Blade Of The Immortal, and Terra Formers, include insane, stylized characters with insane, stylized weapons i.e. the exact kind of fighters that the Predators would want to hunt. And, as if this needs mentioning, Miike is superb at crafting creative, bloody fight sequences, which are precisely what this franchise thrives off of.
Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.
When his father Odin dies, Thor’s sister, Hela, the goddess of Death, is released from her prison. And seeing how she’s stronger than every other god, she quickly takes over all of Asgard. Thor himself is banished to a distant planet, Sakaar, where he is forced to fight in gladiator-style battles with none other than the Hulk. Determined to get home, Thor teams up with the jolly green giant, a fellow Asgardian named Valkyrie, and Loki, who was also stranded on Sakaar, and, together, the four start a revolution, return home, and smash a whole lot of CGI stuff.
Remember how I said in my review of Happy Death Day that it was a crowd pleaser? Scratch that. This movie here is a crowd pleaser. It’s big, loud, funny, and completely undemanding. It is a quintessential movie. Now what I mean by that is, motion pictures can generally be clumped into two categories; movies and films. Movies are meant to be enjoyable. You watch them to have fun and kill time. Films, on the other hand, are generally made with more artistic integrity, and try to talk about more serious issues. That’s not to say that movies can’t be well-written, or that films can’t be enjoyable. But you understand my point. You don’t go into Thor: Ragnarok expecting Oscar-worthy performances or groundbreaking social commentary. You go in expecting big action, light comedy, and colorful, made-up worlds. And you get all that here, so you walk out of the movie feeling happy. I certainly did.
Which is not to suggest that this flick is free of flaws. It actually has quite a few. First of all, the main villain, Hela, is pretty weak. She’s unique in the sense that she’s the MCU’s first female bad guy, but, other than that, she’s not that interesting. She basically has two roles in this movie, provide exposition, and kill people while cackling. Other than that, there’s really nothing to her character. Likewise, the film feels the need to tell us her back-story about four different times; once from Odin, once from Hela herself, once in animated form, and once in flashback. She also isn’t in the movie as much as you’d think. There’s a good 20-minute section in the middle where we don’t see her, or Asgard, at all. Which brings me to my biggest gripe, the fact that this film feels kind of weightless. Even though it’s about the destruction of Asgard, you never really feel like there’s any real danger. Part of this is due to the fact that so much of the film, even the deaths, are played for laughs. Another part is the fact that about 95% of this movie’s action and scenery are animated, so the threats never feel real. In fact, I wouldn’t even call this a live-action movie. I would call it a cartoon, with bits of live-action thrown in.
All that said, the film is still fun. I’m not a Marvel fan, and I still laughed quite a lot while watching this movie. Which says a lot. So if you want a good time, give it a look.
Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.
When an accident grants them telekinetic powers, three Seattle teens–bullied Andrew, slacker Matt, and popular Steve–find themselves drawn together. Initially, they use their abilities for harmless pranks, like moving people’s cars without them realizing, or levitating teddy bears to frighten little girls. But when Andrew, whose abusive home life has left him mentally scarred, begins exhibiting increasingly aggressive behavior, Matt and Steve realize that they might have to take him down.
Chronicle is well-written, well-acted, and visually-stunning. It’s got to be one of the best superhero films I’ve ever seen, and having grown up with franchises like The Dark Knight Trilogy and the MCU, that’s really saying something. Part of this is due to the fact that Chronicle does a superb job of creating that sense of awe that you should feel when you see characters doing incredible things. We’ve seen a man fly. But filmmakers have stopped showing us how cool–how utterly liberating and joyful–that is for him. Chronicle reminds us of how truly awesome it’d be to have superpowers; of all the incredible, and fun, things you could do with them. By far the best scenes in this movie are the ones where Steve, Matt and Andrew are just hanging out, and fooling around with their powers. Not only do these moments show off creative ways to use telekinesis, but they also give us a real sense for who these characters are, and make us like them as people. Andrew does some truly heinous things in this film, and yet, because the screenwriter tok the time to develop him, I never once lost faith. That, right there, is a sign of good writing.
Something else Chronicle does a really good job of is overcoming its genre and budget limitations. Shot in the “found footage” style on roughly $12 million, Chronicle offers up as many, if not more, thrills as big budget blockbusters. They’re able to do this by coming up with some really creative ways to get in complex, moving shots, like having the characters use their telekinesis to fly the camera around. Yes, there are moments where you notice some of the cheap-looking effects, but they are usually drowned out by how awesome what you’re seeing is. The “found footage” gimmick also works to the film’s advantage because, since this is ostensibly being shot by one person on a cheap camera, you feel like you’re actually witnessing a real thing that a real person is experiencing. And that makes all the incredible superhero stuff more plausible.
Guys, I really don’t have anything bad to say about this movie. It’s a low budget, “found-footage” film, which occasionally suffers from that genre’s limitations. But the strong performances, smart script, and excellent direction more than make up for those flaws, and deliver an original, visually-stunning, highly innovative superhero film. Give it a look as soon as you can.
Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The name, And Views Are My Game.
Born from clay, and raised on an island of only women, Princess Diana has long dreamt of war and adventure. Her mother, Hippolyte, tells her to put such matters out of her mind; that bloodshed is cruel and pointless, that their lives are much better without the influence of men, and the war god, Ares, but Diana doesn’t listen. She trains with her Aunt, Antiope, becoming the most skilled warrior on the island, until, one day, a plane with a man, Captain Steve Trevor, crashes in the ocean. Rescuing him from the water, Diana learns that there is a massive conflict, World War 1, raging outside the island, and that millions have already perished. Believing that this is the work of Ares, and that if she kills him, the world will be at peace, Diana dons armor, picks up a sword and shield, and sets off for London. But when she gets to the World of Men, she realizes that things aren’t as simple as she thought.
Wonder Woman is a movie I was very excited to see. Not only is it the first big budget superhero film starring a woman, directed by a woman, but the reviews I’d read had been extremely positive. On top of that, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Wonder Woman character. See, Superman might be my favorite costumed hero of all time, but Wonder Woman is the first superhero whose comics I ever read. Seriously. When I was a kid, my parents got me a collection of Gold and Silver age comics, one of which was the original origin of Wonder Woman. So, from an early age, I’ve been exposed to her mythos and adventures, and I was very interested to see what the filmmakers would do with it. What would they change? What would they keep? But, most important of all, would the movie be any good? Would the dialogue sound natural? Would their be character development? Would the action be exciting, and would the performances be good?
Well, having just seen Wonder Woman, I can happily say that I was very, very satisfied with the picture. This is an extremely well-made movie. It’s exciting, there’s a lot of great humor in it, the acting is superb, with the chemistry between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor deserving an extra special mention, and there’s great character development. Diana starts off very naive and optimistic, believing that she can end a global conflict by stabbing a dude in the face, and ends more mature and measured, understanding that life’s a bit more complicated than that. I also love the team that she and Steve assemble to help them fight the Germans. See, people have made comparisons between this film and Captain America: The First Avenger, where a superhero gathers up a team to fight in World War 2, but I don’t think that’s fair. The team in that movie isn’t given nearly as much screen time, or personality, as the team here, and they just aren’t as interesting. In Wonder Woman, by contrast, you’ve got three really cool guys to work with; Samir, an Arab con artist who speaks several languages, Charlie, a Scottish sniper with a knack for singing, and the Chief, a native American smuggler who uses the war as a way to avoid racism back home. And, finally, I actually really loved the fact that they changed the film’s setting. See, in the comics, Wonder Woman leaves her home to fight the Nazis in World War 2, and when I saw that they’d changed the time period, I was a little skeptical. Were they just doing it to avoid comparisons with Captain America? Having seen the film, though, I actually think that was a smart choice. See, Diana is very naive. She’s never seen a conflict like this before, and she believes that she can end it by killing a single man. That’s actually quite similar to the way soldiers and politicians viewed the First World War. They’d never seen a conflict of this scale, or with these kinds of weapons before, and they applied their outdated Victorian principles and battle tactics to it, resulting in catastrophic losses of life. The setting is a perfect mirror for Diana’s transformation as a character. Plus, there really aren’t enough movies made about World War 1. There are a few great ones, like Lawrence of Arabia and War Horse, but, for the most part, filmmakers don’t talk about it, which is sad, when you consider how devastating it was, and how important it is, historically. But I’m getting side tracked.
With regards to complaints, I really only have one. The first few minutes are very exposition heavy, with there being a lot of voice over, and Hippolyte telling young Diana stories that will factor in later. Because of that, the dialogue there feels a little bit stiff. But, really, that’s about it, because as soon as Steve Trevor crashes on the island, the movie kicks into high gear, and, trust me, it doesn’t let you go.
Guys, I had a ton of fun with this movie. It was exciting, it was funny, I loved the characters, and I honestly want to see it again. Go ahead and give it a look.
Written by: Mark Waid and Alex Ross.
Painted by : Alex Ross.
Lettered by: Todd Klein.
There’s an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes, you get it.” That’s essentially what the graphic novel Kingdom Come is about. The story of a world where the heroes of old–Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern–have retired, and a new, less responsible, generation of vigilantes have taken up the mantle, the book basically serves as Alex Ross’s answer to the common fan querie, “If the villains are always going to escape, why don’t the heroes just kill them?” This is why. These new vigilantes are absolutely awful. They cause massive amounts of property damage, kill people at the first sign of trouble, and never bother to check and see if they’re injuring the civilian population. The story actually opens with several of these newer heroes, led by the Golden Avenger Magog, causing a nuclear explosion in Kansas, because they were too careless to recognize their surroundings. This disaster draws Superman out of his self-imposed exile, and he, along with the newly re-formed Justice league, set about trying to put things right again. They arrest the vigilantes who have committed horrible crimes, they recruit the ones who actually have moral fiber, and construct a massive prison in the wasteland that was Kansas, where the bad super beings can hopefully get reformed. But, of course, nothing goes according to plan. Batman refuses to help Superman, and actually sides with Lex Luthor, who’s whole scheme is to exacerbate tensions between humans and super beings, and eventually use the public’s hatred of Superman to take over the world. The book climaxes with a giant battle in front of the prison in Kansas, with Superman and the Justice League on one side, and Batman and all the imprisoned super beings on the other. The UN decides that if this battle between superheroes continues, it will spread, and eventually engulf the world. To avoid that, they shoot a nuclear missile at Kansas, hoping to kill all the belligerents there. In the end, Captain Marvel sacrifices himself, and even though some heroes die, there are enough left to rebuild. Superman and the Justice League then set up formal relations with the UN, he and Wonder Woman have a child together, and the story ends with them asking Batman to be their baby’s godfather.
For the most part, I really enjoyed Kingdom Come. The story highlights a lot of the things I’ve written about regarding Superman; like how his refusal to kill is actually a sign of great strength, and how his unyielding morality and optimism will carry people much further than swift, ruthless justice. On top of this, the artwork is just plain beautiful. All the characters are painted with gouache, which gives the images an almost ethereal air. Looking at the panels, I feel more like I’m staring at a Renaissance painting, or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, than a comic book. I also thought it was a very good idea to have the narrator of this whole story be a regular person. Yeah, in case I didn’t mention, this graphic novel is narrated by a non-superhero, and pastor, named Norman McCay. He witnesses the civil war among the superheroes from afar, and then, at the climax, intervenes; convincing Superman not to destroy the UN, even though they launched a nuke at him. Having Norman be the narrator and de facto protagonist was a really smart choice in my mind, because it helps ground the story. You’re dealing with fantastic characters who can fly and pick up buildings here. You need someone normal, with normal problems, like leaky faucets and food stuck between their teeth, to make the scenario seem more plausible. Norman does this, and all while being a very likable character. So, yeah. There’s a lot to admire in Kingdom Come.
There’s also a few things not to like. One is the artwork. Yeah, as much as I praised it earlier, I do have one gripe with it. It’s not a big thing, but, most of the characters have the same angry, constipated expression on their faces the whole time. it just gets annoying to look at after a while. Another thing I don’t quite like is the ending. Yes, it’s hopeful and optimistic, and I usually love that stuff, but it just feels out of place here. Batman basically stabbed Superman and Wonder Woman in the back. He sided with Superman’s greatest enemy. Why would they want him to help raise their child? And that leads me to my biggest problem with the book; Batman. He just comes off as a hypocritical asshole. Like I said earlier, he refuses to help Superman because the latter retired after the death of Lois, and because he believes Clark will become a dictator, blah, blah, blah. This whole scenario is just so played out, and that wouldn’t necessarily bother me, if not for the fact that, within this story, Batman being afraid of Superman becoming a dictator is completely hypocritical. When we’re introduced to Batman in Kingdom Come, we see that he’s turned Gotham into a police state. He has Bat Robots patrolling the streets, taking down anyone he sees as a threat. He’s an actual dictator, actually subjugating people. But no one ever calls him on that. They just sit back, and let him lecture them on how they’re too powerful, and how they need to be reigned in. What about you, Bruce? You’re an actual dictator! There’s nothing theoretical or hypothetical about it. You are actually oppressing people. Don’t you need to be stopped? No? Ugh. And it’s not just this comic, it’s a trend in most stories involving Batman and Superman. Whether it’s Frank Miller writing The Dark Knight Returns, or Bruce Timm writing Justice League Unlimited, creators love to have Superman be the dangerous alien who can’t be trusted, and Batman be the wise, grounded realist who can always be relied on. What they never seem to acknowledge is that, with his virtually unlimited wealth and resources, and his refusal to compromise with anyone who disagrees with him, Batman is just as dangerous, if not more so, than Superman. True, he can’t flatten the globe with his fists, but he can do all the horrible things that the excessively wealthy can do in the real world, and most of them don’t have military grade weaponry at their disposal. Just saying.
But, in the end, I would recommend Kingdom Come to you all. The artwork is glorious, the story is epic, and the manner in which the narrative unfolds is engaging. It’s an 8 out of 10. If you’re a comic reader, buy it. If you’re not a comic reader, I still think you’d enjoy it. So, buy it.