Friday, April 29, 2016

Disney's Upcoming Slate

Over the last week, media outlets have been speculating as to the titles of future films to come from Disney after the studio released a list of upcoming dates they've reserved for live action films over the next few years. Theme park adaptations, updates of Classic Disney stories and sequels to past live action fare look to fill the spots. Coupled with past announcements Disney's animation branch, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar, it looks like you can plan on being in theaters to catch the latest Mouse House offering for quite a few of the many weeks to come.

Here is a comprehensive list (so far) of Disney properties coming to theaters for the next 4 years, staring next week with Marvel's Captain America: Civil War:

May 6, 2016: Captain America: Civil War
May 27, 2016: Alice Through the Looking Glass
June 17, 2016: Finding Dory
July 1, 2016: The BFG
August 12, 2016: Pete’s Dragon
November 4, 2016: Dr Strange
November 23, 2016: Moana
December 16, 2016: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
March 17, 2017: Beauty and the Beast
May 5, 2017: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol II
May 26, 2017: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
June 16, 2017: Cars 3
July 7, 2017: Spider-Man: Homecoming
July 28, 2017: Untitled Disney Live Action Fairy Tale
November 3, 2017: Thor: Ragnarok
November 22. 2017: Coco
December 15, 2017: Star Wars Episode VIII
February 16, 2018: Black Panther
March 9, 2018: Gigantic
April 4, 2018: Untitled Disney Live Action Fairy Tale
May 4, 2018: Avengers: Infinity War I
May 25, 2018: Young Han Solo Movie
June 15, 2018: Toy Story 4
July 6, 2018: Ant-Man and the Wasp
August 3, 2018: Untitled Disney Live Action
November 2, 2018: Untitled Disney Live Action Fairy Tale
December 25, 2018: Untitled Disney Live Action
March 8, 2019: Captain Marvel
March 29, 2019: Untitled Disney Live Action Fairy Tale
May 3, 2019: Avengers: Infinity War II
June 21, 2019: Incredibles 2
July 19, 2019: Indiana Jones 5
November 8, 2019: Untitled Disney Live Action Fairy Tale
December 20, 2019: Untitled Disney Live Action Fairy Tale
2019: Star Wars Episode IX
May 1, 2020: Untitled Marvel Movie
June 19, 2020: Untitled Pixar Movie
July 10, 2020: Untitled Marvel Movie
November 6, 2020: Untitled Marvel Movie
November 25, 2020: Untitled Disney Animated Film

Unscheduled: Boba Fett Movie
Unscheduled: Frozen 2
Unscheduled: Inhumans

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spider-Man & Deadpool: Much Ado About Nothing

Crossovers are exciting, what with all the possibilities of fan-favorite characters sharing the screen, so it’s easy to get caught up in media buzz about potential marriages between major franchises. Heck, Men In Black is set to cross over with the 21 Jump Street series, so it might seem that anything is possible. It seems, however, that ideas of future team-ups most often come from the multiple Marvel properties scattered across the different studios of Fox, Sony, and Disney’s Marvel Studios. Despite a slew of blockbusters from all three production houses, Marvel Studios continues to hold the most legitimacy with fans, both due to Disney’s ownership of the source-material comics as well as consistency in quality across their connective film universe. As Spider-Man is set to swing back into Marvel’s grasp in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, the general attitude seems to be one of celebration as Marvel’s favorite son is set to return home under the company’s umbrella. While this move maintains Sony’s distribution control over future Spider-Man films, the move has prompted continued and widespread speculation that Spider-Man and other Marvel characters could have potential to now crossover with X-Men characters held by Fox.

Potential for one such crossover, between the foul-mouthed X-Men character of Deadpool and the freshly rebooted MCU Spider-Man, came this last week following comments by X-Men producer and writer Simon Kinberg. Deapool director Tim Miller is reportedly “trying to build bridges” with producers over at Marvel Studios, and Kinberg (who has a solid relationship with Disney through his work on different Star Wars properties) has cited his “great love and respect” for Marvel head Kevin Feige as a starting point for conversations about Deadpool sharing the screen with Spider-Man.

Speculation based on these and similar comments is all well and good, especially considering the chummy relationship Spider-Man and Deadpool enjoy in both their comics and animated television shows. However, a blending of their cinematic properties seems highly unlikely due to one simple dynamic: ratings. Deadpool is an R-rated movie. Deadpool is an R-rated movie for many, many, many reasons, and those reasons are often pointed to as aspects that allowed the film to stand apart and above the suffocating conglomerate of other superhero and comic book movies currently dominating the box-office. While it’s thoroughly inaccurate to assume that the movie is good simply because it is rated R, Deadpool is still the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time., which shows that it has a pretty solid audience with rather adult tastes.

The upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, on the other hand, is set to star the youngest on-screen Spider-Man yet. Described as a “coming of age story” by Marvel Studio execs, the simple setting of the film will be drastically different from the nudity and profanity-laced venues of Deadpool. In fact, Peter Parker will not even be old enough to have seen Deadpool in theaters without an accompanying adult. According to director Jon Watts, “we’re really going to see Peter in high school and get deeper into that side of it. He’s just 15 now.”  Tack onto all of this that Disney chief Bob Iger has declared that Disney doesn’t “have any plans to make an R-rated Marvel movie” and the possibility of a collaborative effort on a future Deadpool/Spider-Man film seems slim. This is not to say that any such effort is impossible. There’s plenty of room for growth or change if both series continue to produce films for the foreseeable future, but any crossover would have to feature very different versions of the current characters and probably wouldn’t be in the production pipeline for several years to come.

On a side-note, similar arguments could be made as to why the Netflix corner of the MCU will also remain separate from the Disney-owned heroes who battle across the silver screen, even if Charlie Cox really wants it to happen.

Friday, March 25, 2016

"Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice" Review: No Spoilers, Pleasant Suprises

Batman V Superman is not a bad film (it's an 'ok' film). There are many good things in the film that I would love to see more of, such as Ben Affleck's Batman along side Jeremy Iron's Alfred, Gal Godot as an incredible Wonder Woman, and even some of the lighter moments from Henry Cavill's scenes as Clark Kent. I would love to see this movie's Batman in the Batman film that could have come before this one. I'm excited to see him more in the films that are to come after this one. I'm now also very excited to see the Wonder Woman film, which I kind of wish I could have seen before this one so that her cool character could have carried more weight in BvS. I'm still not sure how I feel about Jesse Eisenberg, but if you can think of his Lex as an entirely new Lex Luthor, I think he's kind of alright. Maybe. His motivations and machinations to engineer the whole 'verses' element of the title are one of the more incoherent elements of the plot.

The opening of the film is great. I became excited to see the rest of the film as soon as the (actual Jeep commercial starring Bruce Wayne) scene rolled by, but from there, the movie got a bit overwhelming. To call the film something like 'bloated' or 'overstuffed' would probably miss the point of what the movie is. The movie is HUGE in scope, but finds little time to settle into one thing over another; it's almost like it's 4 or 5 good movies repackaged into one giant film that undersells each individual narrative. Filled with Sucker Punch-like dream sequences (or scenes from the future/past? There are definitely plenty of elements left totally unclear that may rely entirely on future films in the series), overly dramatic speeches where all subtext is read out-loud, snd slow motion scenes beautifully painted with all the vaguely-religious iconography you could ask for, the film was firmly a Zack Snyder affair. It made me excited to see more of this DC Universe, but the small tastes it gave me of the new elements of this universe also left me wanting. You can tell that Snyder loves comics, but its hard to tell if comics fans will love his film. It's almost like it was a midseason finale of a big-budget TV series. I'm glad to have seen it, but, like a complicated piece of a larger puzzle, I would love to see more of what the picture is on the front of this particular puzzle's box.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Apocalypse: End of Worlds

Nerd moment here. Let's get technical:

The latest entry in the larger X-Men series is coming this summer in the form of X-Men: Apocalypse. Like its predecessor, X-Men: Days of Future Past, the upcoming film was directed by Bryan Singer, an indication, by all accounts, that this next one will be a good X-Men movie.

The title comes from the film's chief villain, longtime X-Men comic antagonist Apocalypse. Named for his earth-shattering powers by which he claims and conquers his way from Ancient Egypt through current events in X-Men storylines, Apocalypse sounds like a pretty intimidating name.

We generally use the term 'apocalypse' to refer to the end of the world and final judgement day. The original meaning of this Greek word is actually closer to the meaning of the word 'revelation,' as in, 'the unveiling' of something, or 'uncovering' of some hidden truth. The word actually came to mean 'end of the world' because of its association with the Biblical book "Revelation," the final book in the Bible. The book actually is 'apocalyptic,' as its author, the Apostle John, describes the unveiling of both the heavens and God's final chapter for creation. It is this unveiling that makes "Revelation" an example of apocalyptic literature, not because the text details an account of the end of the world (not inconsequentially, the word 'armageddon' is also founded in this particular text, coming from a Hebrew phrase naming a location where God's final judgement takes place). It was within 19th century English that the term 'apocalypse' was used to refer to the subject matter of "Revelation" rather then the genre of the book. Despite this, words become what we all agree they mean and they mean what the way we use them says they mean. Language is fluid and strange, giving and taking power depending on how we use it.

For the X-Men, it could very well be that the arrival of Apocalypse in their cinematic universe signals some sort of ending to their world. Actors contracts are in flux, and who knows if Singer still wants to make movies about Marvel's mutants. It's probably a safe bet that X-Men: Apocalypse will make a fat stack of cash for Fox at the box office, so the studio will certainly want to keep making movies in the series, but there's always room for shifts and change. Hugh Jackman says his next Wolverine movie is his last, and Deadpool just broke in to shake things up for superhero movies everywhere. Apocalypse could just be an entry to start unveiling these new changes.

Check out the newest trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse below:

X-Men Origin: Deadpool

Pool approves.
It's been out for a month now. Everyone who wanted to see it has probably already gone, to the tune of $335 million domestically. The main point that might broadcast is that people are ready for and the market needs more R rated superheroes. Fox is looking to take the third Wolverine spin-off in that direction, and Zack Snyder is lauding the R rated cut of his Batman v Superman. Sure, the fringes of superhero/comic book movies have had their run of R rated flicks with offerings from filmmakers like Snyder, Frank Miller, Mark Millar's work with Mathew Vaughn, but Deadpool filled in a slot in the X-Men series, not only one of the main superhero series gracing the silver screen, but the first. For all its faults in cohesive storytelling across the series, Fox's X-Men is still one of the leaders of the pack. That makes Deadpool stand out. It's not family friendly, but it is a part of the family.

While R rated supers may start trending soon, its important to note that reducing the film to its rating doesn't capture what makes it good. In terms of reacting to and seeking to copy the Deadpool formula, James Gunn (who himself made R rated Superalready said best what could be said: "Deadpool was its own thing, THAT'S what people are reacting to. It's original, it's damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn't afraid to take risks." Deadpool, despite its out of sequence narrative, was actually a pretty straightforward origin story for a superhero (or in Wade's case, antihero). It's a good film, even great, despite being kind of formulaic, especially as it acknowledged its own place within the genre. It's alright to acknowledge this, but don't treat Deadpool like he's something special. He's good, but he's no hero.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Picking Sides in Marvel's Civil War

With the upcoming release of Captain America: Civil War, either the third installment of Cap's franchise, a third Avengers film or even fourth Iron Man jaunt, people are being asked to pick a side. Will they go with Captain America, the faithful son of patriotism and justice incarnate, or Iron Man, the self-conscious embodiment of America's 20th century ego and id, rolled into one with the power to down the Hulk in single combat? Agent Carter just finished her second go-around on ABC, and there's probably no doubt that she'd back her old crush Steve Rogers, but the rest of the growing cast of Marvel's expansive universe (who are not in the upcoming film) have been chiming in over the last week:

Batman V Superman: Yawn of Justice

No SPOILER ALERTS here; zero. We all know what's coming.

Batman and Superman are going to meet. They'll disagree about something regarding might making right and pay lip service to the wanton destruction leveled upon Metropolis and the wider world by the previous film's climactic battle between General Zod and our titular boy in blue. They're going to suit up in their armor, as is required in every post-Homeric tale, and then have at each other, trading titanic blows back and forth before relenting just in time to see that they can stand on some common ground. Their bludgeoning will then be directed toward a monstrously CGI version of the villain Doomsday, a character that will require little investment from the audience and provide little to no narrative of his own beyond demonstrating a future need for a league that might one day promote and protect justice. Shoehorned in and around these details will be introductions of fan-favorite characters like Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and Bat Family members such as Alfred Pennyworth, providing hints at a broader 'cinematic universe' yet to be explored. Even if the film does address the significant destruction that has become a staple to the genre in some meaningful way, cities will still burn and countless offscreen lives ended as the heroes and villains clash in and above the streets. There will be plenty of slow motion to highlight impossible feats of strength, and the lighting will be turned down to 'brooding'; it is, after all, a Zack Snyder film.

The spectacle will be spectacular, and the action will be exciting, but don't confuse dangerous situations for actual peril; whatever takes place, our heroes will unite and the end of the film and get ready to join up again for a series of sequels. The studio demands it be so.

I hope that I'm surprised by this film, that Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent show a compellingly human side in their god-like struggle or flip the script in their classic story to show something new. However, at this time, I find myself weary of the marketing and much more excited to see Marvel's take on super v super, where I have grown to care for those relationships, or even (and especially) for Warner Brother's offering later this year in Suicide Squad. That one, at least, looks very excitingly and unpredictably new.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Not Too Fast: We Can Handle Two Quicksilvers

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Evan Peters both in 2010s Kick Ass
A myriad of movie news websites, blogs. vlogs and billboards sport headlines that offer to explain end-credit scenes, easter eggs, cinematic universe connections and comic references in the ever-present, ever-expanding world of superhero movies. One such  element is the simultaneous roles of Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the new Avengers: Age of Ultron and Evan Peters in X-Men: Days of Future Past as the Marvel speedster Quicksilver. Both actors play different versions of the character in the two very separate movie franchises based on Marvel comics, and many internet sources continue to frame the situation as though it were one that might cause great levels of confusion to the casual movie goer or Marvel movie fan.

I think this disrespects those fans to a certain degree. The two characters are clearly different, with distinct origins in their respective films along with the very distinct styles of special effects to show off their super-speed. The characters are not even dressed in a similar way, set in specific cultures and decades based on the plots of their movies. The only confusion I could potentially see would be for overly-excited fanboys who might hope that the character's doubling performances could indicate a coming crossover between the Disney-owned MCU and Fox's Marvel film series. Heck, the movies hardly even call either character 'Quicksilver,' so please, give movie goers more credit that thinking this one thing could be even a bit confusing.