Movie News – June 13th, 2017

Adam West dies age 88

The man behind one of the most iconic portrayals of Batman died over the weekend. Adam west continued to be popular and beloved by people everywhere since the Sixties. He will be sorely missed.

Marvel unveils a new Black Panther Teaser Trailer

We’ve still got Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok to come this year but Marvel has given us our first look at Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.

Not much in Movie news this week, E3 is coming up so if you are a big Gamer, it’s basically Christmas!

Due to the Long Weekend in most States in Australia, the Box Office Report should be out tomorrow.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review

Zack Snyder’s attempt at the movie we’ve wanted to see for decades fell short of expectations.

In anticipation to Wonder Woman, I watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice again, so here’s the review. PLEASE BE WARNED! While I will try not to go into specifics, there could be some spoiled plot points. While this is a review, it will include some analysis and ‘ways I would do it better’.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice never had the excitement around it that the idea of a Superman/Batman film had. That came from the divisiveness of 2013’s Man of Steel, which I enjoyed for the most part.

The main problem Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is the Dawn of Justice part. This is two movies. The first involves Batman and Superman both being manipulated in to hating each other, they both had their reasons but they were played upon and had their perspective skewed. The story would involve the main characters investigating what seem to be separate leads that all end up being part of the one plan. That plan, was to have Superman kill Batman and that this scenario would have one of two outcomes:

1. To show the world either that Superman would kill someone – God can’t be all good. Or,

2. To show the world that Batman killed Superman – God can’t be all powerful.

Now to me, that sounds like a good story. A little bit of action sprinkled in at certain points, some mystery and intrigue, all culminating in a finale that pits the two DC Comics greats in a battle of Brains (and money) vs. Brawn. Naturally, of course before killing one another they realise they are actually on the same side and they go after the real threat that has been influencing them from the start. We put that threat in jail, while he is in there he plots something bigger, upon his eventual escape, which will be the story of the next film. 2 hours and 10 minutes, simple story, easy to follow, everybody forgets their so-so reaction to Man of Steel, bring on the next film, ‘Dawn of Justice’.

Except that didn’t happen. Instead, that story more or less ends around the 2 hour mark and the remaining 30 minutes of its run time resulted in a ridiculous mess that features an overpowered enemy that came out of nowhere, with very little set up or reason for being there, a character that while awesome (spoilers: it’s Wonder Woman), probably shouldn’t have been in a movie called ‘Batman v Superman’ and particular plot point that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of a projector til ‘Man of Steel 3’. Some shots from the last 30 minutes looked good, but a lot of them were just so cluttered by lighting bolts and laser beams that it lost all meaning. Some of the shots were harder to determine what was going on than being able to determine who’s fighting who in a Transformers movie.

There are more issues with the film, including pacing, writing and editing etc. But I don’t want to be so negative on this film, because there is something there. There’s a movie in here, I have ever since I saw this film believed that. All I need to do it sit down in front of my computer one day and maybe make a cut of my own to prove it. (I don’t want to alarm you but the writers and editor from BvS:DoJ are doing the same jobs on Justice League.)

I very much enjoyed Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman. He gave the older, gruffer character that the story asked for and we were looking for. That said, I like most of the acting in this film. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams have a shallow dynamic, dialogue-wise but their body language and the look in their eyes said more than the script could. Gal Gadot did a pretty decent job as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and delivered in my favourite shot of the entire film – a small smile during the big fight at the end, a little thing that said so much about the character, it said: “This is fun.”, “I’ve missed this” and “So you want a fight, huh?” all at the same time.

Jeremy Irons brought a new side to Alfred Pennyworth that we hadn’t seen before and I didn’t mind Holly Hunter’s role as a senator leading an enquiry in to Superman. Lawrence Fishburne brought nothing to the role as Perry White and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor left a lot to be desired… there were moments of proper evil to his character but sadly it was overshadowed by his ‘no one comprehends my genius’ shtick mixed with a fair amount of overacting.

The first 2 hours of the movie weren’t bad, it probably could have been done with being an hour and 40, but the story was enjoyable and could be followed somewhat. That being said, this is a comic book movie, and yes, the characters are from comic books, I know. I mean this movie paces like a comic book, it could even do with the odd “Meanwhile” tags in the top left corner in a few scenes, if this film was adapted in to a comic book – it would work. I think that is what sets the current DC films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe apart, Marvel makes movies based on its characters, they have adapted story lines, DC, or at least Zack Snyder seems to adapt the panels. Which is why 300 and Watchmen worked for the fans of those movies, its what they were expecting. It’s not what fans were expecting after Marvel had completed its ‘Phase One’. I think the culture had changed.

After all this though, I like parts of this movie, so it doesn’t fail completely in my opinion. I see this movie for it’s merits and what it tried to do. Don’t get me wrong, I have ideas about how you can fix this and effectively write this movie off – which in the DC Universe at least can be done very easily.

2 Stars

Ben Affleck to star as Batman in second Man of Steel

Actor/Director/Academy Award Winner, Ben Affleck has been cast as the next screen version of Bruce Wayne/Batman for the sequel to Man of Steel.

“We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some. His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character.” – Greg Silverman (WB President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production)

“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.” Zack Snyder (Director of both Man of Steel and its sequel)

“We are so thrilled that Ben is continuing Warner Bros.’ remarkable legacy with the character of Batman. He is a tremendously gifted actor who will make this role his own in this already much-anticipated pairing of these two beloved heroes.” Sue Kroll (WB President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution)

This will not be Ben Affleck’s first time as a costume clad superhero, he starred as Daredevil in the 2003 film. So we can already get the feel for what he will look like under the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight. Very little is known about the direction that the film will take other than the appearance of Batman. What we do know is that the untitled sequel will be written by David S. Goyer who was one of the key writers in the Nolan Batman trilogy… so if anyone can write a good adventure for the caped crusader it’ll be him!

daredevil

History of Superheroes in Movies

superman

While there were superhero movies in the 1940s, 50s and 60s it wasn’t until the 1978 film Superman opened the door for comic books and their characters to be taken as serious movie ideas, but that faded over ten years until 1989’s Batman put them back on the map again. Unfortunately, with the exception of Batman Returns (1992) the popularity of superhero films declined again until 2000 when X-Men got it right.

xmen

Since X-Men superhero movies have been on the up and up. Production companies started taking the concepts seriously again rather than trying to make it comical and camp (I’m looking at you Joel Schumacher). 2002 saw Spider-Man swing on to the silver screen and both the X-Men and Spider-Man films spawned major film franchises for Fox and Sony respectively. But we’ll get to the major production companies later. Fox continued it’s push with Daredevil (2003), X2 (2003), Elektra (2005) and Fantastic Four (2005) while Sony (Colombia) released Hellboy and Spider-Man 2 in 2004. Following the success of
these franchises DC and Warner Bros. took a different angle and rebooted the popular Batman franchise with Batman Begins (2005) which had a much darker tone to it than the Marvel films that were being released at the time. Superhero films cashed in on the success of the early 2000 hits for a few more years X-Men: The Last Stand and Superman Returns in 2006 and Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007 (which might I add were all franchise killers) but come 2008 something clicked in the minds of Marvel, DC, production companies and audiences… Superhero Movies could be better than exciting. They could be exhilarating the perfect escape for people young and old just like the comic books they were based on were for people years ago.

darkknight

2008 was a big year for Superheroes, with Marvel’s start of their Cinematic Universe (Actually owning the rights to these characters this time) Iron Man blasted on to the screen, reviving the dwindling superhero audiences and Robert Downey Jr.’s career at the same time. On top of that the reboot of the Hulk franchise with The Incredible Hulk re-established another character for something in the future. Iron Man would have been the walk-away hit of superhero films that year had the follow-up to Batman Begins not been released. The Dark Knight wowed audiences and box officenumbers proved that superhero movies were not just a sub-class of action films. They were their own genre. Mixing comedy and drama with action, visual effects and the characters people of all ages could enjoy. The superheroes were here.

avengers

The late 2000s brought us a prequel to X-Men in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a surprise cult classic with Watchmen. The start of the new decade brought in more of the independent heroes in to the spotlight, Kick-Ass and Super depict average joes standing up and answering the call against villainy and Iron Man 2 delved deeper in to the mystery behind S.H.I.E.L.D and why they were showing up in all these Marvel movies. 2011 was another big year for Marvel with Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger setting up for the biggest superhero team up in film history. Fox released a re-invigoration of X-Men going back to the early days of Professor X in X-Men: First Class and DC unfortunately missed the mark with Green Lantern. Last year blew me away though with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises three of the four big superhero movie powerhouses put everything they had in to these films and they were incredible.

The superhero film genre has risen over the last twenty or so years to become films that provide drama, comedy, explosions and an all round entertaining visit to the cinemas.

The Dark Knight Rises – Review

Apologies for the late review, this film needed to be seen a few times for me so I could happily pass judgement. Christopher Nolan’s epic run of Batman films ends with The Dark Knight Rises.

It’s been 8 years since Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s murder and the police of Gotham, thanks to the ‘Dent Act’, have cleaned up the streets from crime. Until a ruthless mercinary named  Bane attacks Gotham. His plans promt Batman to return to the city who, in the last film, wanted him dead. But some of the police still hold those feelings for the caped crusader and their attempts to stop him allow Bane to continue his plans for Gotham City.

This film is epic and on a grand scale. If you see it in a cinema with good bass it is simply incredible.

Christopher Nolan expertly co-writes and directs again as usual. He brings in some of his actors from Inception, Tom Hardy (as Bane) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Gotham City PD officer, John Blake) and Marion Cotillard (as Miranda Tate) as well as some more famous faces like Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.

Old favourites return to the series aswell. Christian Bale is again, Bruce Wayne / Batman, Micheal Caine steals the show as Alfred Pennyworth. Morgan Freeman plays the President of  Wayne Enterprises, Lucis Fox. Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon. There are also some nice little cameos from the other films you might find pretty cool.

As I said before Michael Caine was the stand out performance for me. He really conveyed the emotion that Alfred felt throughout these troubling times for Bruce and Gotham.

The music fills the cinema perfectly and Zimmer’s use of silence in key scenes is so captivating. You find the chanting in the film very hard to get out of your head. But why would you want it to?

I had so much fun watching this film. Both times it excites you, frightens you, makes you feel the dispair and anguish of the people of Gotham. I really don’t want to say all that much more about this film but it ends the trilogy very nicely perfectly. I was a bit suspicious the first time the film ended as a big fan of Batman lore. But after the second viewing… All that went away.

4.5 Stars

The Dark Knight Rises is in cinemas now. AND YOU NEED TO SEE IT!

Batman: Mask of The Phantasm – Review

PART FIVE: Batman: Mask of The Phantasm

Directed By: Eric Radomski & Bruce W. Timm

Written By: Bob Kane and Alan Burnett

Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Stacy Keach, Abe Vigoda, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Mark Hamill

Gross: $5,617,391

Production Co: Warner Bros. Animation

Release Date: 25 December 1993

Runtime: 76 min

Batman, the costumed crime-fighter who prowls the night skies in Gotham City, soon finds there’s another vigilante in town knocking off prominent mob figures. Despite the scythe-like blade for a hand, a mechanical voice and the cloud of smoke that follows the figure wherever it goes, the police and outraged officials mistake the homicidal crusader for Batman himself and demand that the city’s longtime hero be brought to justice. Meanwhile, Andrea Beaumont returns to town. She is the lost love of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy who is Batman’s alter ego, and was an integral part of Wayne’s decision ten years earlier to don the cape and cowl. Now, she is back in his life and is no less a disruption than the return of his old archenemy, The Joker, who has a stake in seeing the annihilation of this new vigilante, whoever it proves to be.

This animated Batman movie did something for the franchise that the live-action movies didn’t. The tension and mystery surrounding The Phantasm coupled with the fact that most of Gotham City were turning on their once beloved caped crusader makes this a brilliant movie. In my point of view many elements of this movie as well as other Batman graphic novels, such as Batman: Year One, were vital in creating the new direction of Batman in the more recent Nolan films. The Mask of The Phantasm was dark like the animated series and yet it was very effective in portraying a story and some backstory as well. For example what Bruce Wayne did as a vigilante before he donned the disguise of Batman. There are many other animated Batman films and TV series out there but this is by far one of the best.

3 Stars

Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm is available on DVD in all good DVD stores.

Batman & Robin – Review

PART FOUR: Batman & Robin

Directed By: Joel Schumacher

Written By: Bob Kane and Akiva Goldsman

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone and Michael Gough

Gross: $238,207,122

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures(Worldwide)

Release Date: 26 June 1997 (Australia)

Runtime: 125 min

Although, in my opinion not as bad as Batman Forever (story-wise), this movie ultimately failed the Batman franchise and is yet another reason why Joel Schumacher is blamed for so much. Batman & Robin is full of disappointing one-liners and really obvious continuity errors as well as poor acting from almost the entire cast. The film opens with Batman and Robin (George Clooney (who should never have been Batman) and Chris O’Donnell respectively) going toe to toe with Mr. Freeze (played by Arnie), a new villain in Gotham City. Then in a “Meanwhile in South America” type scene the two other villains, Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Bane are introduced. After a series of events with Ivy causing the dynamic duo to fight over her affection and Mr. Freeze stealing a vast amount of diamonds, the evil pair team up and plot to freeze Gotham and allow Ivy’s plants to rule the world. Also on the scene is Alfred (Michael Gough) ‘s niece Barbra Wilson (Alicia Silverstone), who becomes Batgirl.

All in all the storyline in this move was better than the one in Batman Forever, however the rest of the movie was rueful. Alicia Silverstone won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress. For those who don’t know the Golden Raspberry (or the Razzie’s) is an awards organisation for the worst movies of the year. Other nominations at the Razzie Awards included Schumacher (Worst Director), George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell (Worst Screen Couple), Akiva Goldsman (Worst Screenplay), both Chris O’Donnell and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Worst Supporting Actor), Uma Thurman (Worst Supporting Actress), and Billy Corgan (Worst Song for “The End Is the Beginning Is the End”). Batman & Robin also received nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property. Ultimately, out of 11 nominations, this movie garnered only one Razzie Award, a disappointing feat in it’s own right. Clooney said himself, that he might have killed the franchise and that Batman & Robin was a waste of money.

1.5 Stars

Batman & Robin is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80′s & 90′s” Batman Films (Batman, Batman Returns and Batman Forever).

Batman Forever – Review

PART THREE: Batman Forever

Directed By: Joel Schumacher

Written By: Bob Kane, Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman

Starring: Val Kilmer, Jim Carey, Tommy-Lee Jones, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough and Nicole Kidman

Gross: $336,531,112 (Worldwide)

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: 29 June 1995(Australia)

Runtime: 121 min

The critic on the back of the DVD of Batman Forever is quoted in saying “The Best ‘Batman’ Yet”… Maybe they put it on the back of the wrong movie? Batman Forever picks up a few years after Batman Returns, the city is now over run with criminals of all shapes and sizes. Now, Batman must battle Two-Face and The Riddler with help of an amourous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin.

Although this film is good in it’s own way and enjoyable, it sadly lacks the qualities that the original films had and I’d say that one of the main qualities was Tim Burton at the helm as director. Schumacher transforms Burton’s Noir-Expressionistic world into a rave-meets-gothic-architecture-type Gotham City. However that’s not the only down point… Although the acting was good from Jim Carey and Tommy-Lee Jones (Riddler and Two-Face respectively)(You maybe thinking ‘but Harvey Dent was in Batman and he was played by Billy Dee Williams’, and you’d be right, you have one man to blame for this… Joel Schmacher (I blame him a lot) Billy Dee Williams was very ready and excited to play Two-Face however Schmacher decided after working with Jones on The Client, replaced the one and only Lando Calrissian… Shame Schumacher, Shame) the characters they played were below par. The dialogue was to stilted and fake and lets not get into the one-liners that start cropping up and end up being (pretty much) the entire script in the next film.

Warner Bros. wanted to make this film more main stream because Batman Returns was not the box-office success they hoped for and because of this decision and a few others i.e. removing Burton almost completely and telling Schumacher what to film, the movie despite a decent box-office taking (making it the second highest of 1995, Toy Story taking the top spot) received mixed reviews and in my opinion while had some good points was not overly fantastic.

2 Stars

Batman Forever is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80′s & 90′s” Batman Films (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman & Robin).

Batman Returns – Review

PART TWO: Batman Returns

Directed By: Tim Burton

Written By: Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Daniel Waters

Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michael Gough and Michelle Phiffer

Gross: $282,800,000 (Worldwide)

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: 19th June 1992 (Australia)

Runtime: 126 min

Batman Returns is more dark, more whimsical and more cartoon like than its predecessor, despite this it is a very good quality movie and definitely worth watching unlike some of the other Batman movies. Danny DeVito plays a very unusual Penguin but a perfect character for the movie. The Penguin plans to make his presence in Gotham City known and masks his true intentions to rule the city with heroic acts that make the city fall in love with him. Meanwhile Media Mogul, Max Shreck’s assistant is murdered and is resurrected by cats and becomes a feline vigilante who brings her own form of justice to Gotham City.

This movie gets closer to the unrealistic and campy form of Batman and unfortunately is probably a reason and the penultimate push that sent the Batman series spiralling in to a world of… wait for it… Joel Schumacher (shudders). Another thing that could have something to do with the downward turn of this movie is Catwoman. To be honest she looked like a character that didn’t really need to be there and again it was a hark back to the 1960’s show where two villains would team up to take down the caped crusader. Her whole existence in the movie seemed, to be honest, a side plot. The imagery in this film is brilliant as Tim Burton turns Gotham City in to his world, a mix of film noir and german expressionism (which are some of my favourite genres and movements) which suits Burton’s Batman so well. Acting is rather alright with the show stolen by Danny DeVito and to an extent, Michael Keaton, who hangs up his cape at the end of this movie to make room for Val Kilmer (but more about him later). Michelle Phiffer… ehh… she was ok and well how could you not love Christopher Walkin? There is just something about him that makes you like him even though he plays the weak Max Shreck.

3.5 Stars

Batman Returns is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80′s & 90′s” Batman Films (Batman, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin).

Batman – Review

PART ONE: Batman


Directed By: Tim Burton

Written By: Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren

Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Michael Gough and Kim Basinger

Gross: $411,348,924 (Worldwide)

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: 31st August 1989 (Australia)

Runtime: 126 min

Batman is such a fantastic movie. It was the first movie with a truly gritty Batman. Long gone were the days of Adam West and Burt Ward on the screens as the dynamic duo. Tim Burton, then famous for Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Frankenweenie, was asked to direct a Batman movie by Warner Bros. after the success of the comic books “The Dark Knight Returns” and “The Killing Joke”. Batman got the green light in 1988 after the success of Beetlejuice.

The Batman terrorises the criminal world as a mysterious vigilante until one fateful night when a member of a crime syndicate, Jack Napier is transformed in to the insane Joker, who plots to rule Gotham City. Batman reveals him self to Gotham City during battles between the Joker and the legend of the Dark Knight is born. Meanwhile, millionaire Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne courts photographer Vicki Vale, however both lives cross thanks to the Joker’s interventions.

This movie had just the right amount of darkness as well as a little humour and campy-ness that harks back to the sixty’s adventures of the caped crusader. All in all, this film is really good and masterfully made. It has served as a base for many, maybe even all Batman movies since.

4 Stars

Batman is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80’s & 90’s” Batman Films (Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin).