May 1st, 2015. Nuff said!
In bygone days, it was common for superheroes to be placed in life threatening situations with readers being confident that the hero would somehow escape the clutches of death. But that concept was first challenged in X-Men #137 (1980) when Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl/Phoenix) took her own life in order to protect the universe from the Phoenix force that possessed her. In an unforgettable sequence, Jean Grey paid the ultimate price in order to save the universe.
Directed by Gary Shore.
Starring Luke Evans, Sarah Gordon, Dominic Cooper & Samantha Banks.
There was a time Dracula was portrayed as a monster. Nothing suave or romantic about him, for sure. But of course, in these modern times, the vampire has become a sex symbol and Dracula is the King of Vampires! Eschewing any reliance on Bram Stoker’s classic storyline, the producers of Untold have opted instead to create an origin story for Dracula set in the 15th century. A good idea that has seldom been examined in the movies but sadly, the execution is an absolute letdown.
WHAT GOES AROUND…
The Generation Gap! The stuff of endless arguments about who’s music was better etc etc etc. What about comic books? I personally believe that after the Marvel Age of the 60s with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, the finest era of comic books is the Eighties, when writer Alan Moore was changing the industry.
He was introduced to comic books in 1961 in Superboy #81 as “Superboy’s Big Brother”! Visually, his costume was the reverse of Superboy and since he possessed the same powers as Superboy, he was thought to be from Krypton as well. Therefore, the name, “Mon-El” – he arrived on Earth on a Monday and El is Superboy’s family name! At the end of the story, Superboy indadvertedly poisons Mon-El with lead but ‘saves’ him by sending him into the Phantom Zone (where Krypton imprisoned their worst criminals) where he remained till freed by the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century.
Mon-El would join the LSH and become a key member, marrying Shadow Lass in the process. He was my favourite Legionnaire and he always seemed to me, a better character than Superman. But sadly, due to DC’s decision to start fucking around with their continuity (which is still going on to this day) in the mid-80s with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Mon-El’s character (and the LSH overall, to be fair) was altered irreversibly and his origins were ret-conned (damn I hate that word) and he was renamed “Valor” (fucking awful!) and then later “M’onel” (even worse!).
The character has been ret-conned so many times now – he even became a Green Lantern at one point in time (!) – and this is one of the many reasons why I have stopped reading superhero comic books. That said, I will always remember the Mon-El I once loved – and that is something Detective Comics Comics cannot take away!!
Marvel’s Original Sin mini-series wrapped up with issue #8 and raised even more questions than providing definite answers to the questions raised earlier in the series. But then, that’s typical super-hero comic book fare, isn’t it? At its core was the mystery of the Watcher’s murder, which as it turns out was brought about by Midas and Nick Fury but not in the way first suspected. The hook of the series was the discovery of hidden secrets that once revealed would have a massive impact on the Marvel Universe (where have we heard this spiel before, erm?) and to a certain extent we did. Fury – now an old man, like Captain America – acted like the Men in Black, taking care of external threats to the Earth in clandestine manner and had to take appropriate action to keep the truth from coming out. At the very end, Fury is seemingly dead (or is he?) and Bucky Barnes takes over Fury’s mantle. Presumably, this will allow Fury’s son – an African-American – to be the de facto Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe? Yup, that’s about the sum of those 8 issues. And Deodato’s art design was cool. NEXT!
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and many more.
Well, for once, the hype was justified. X-Men: Days of Future Past is no doubt one of the biggest comic book movie adaptations ever, not only for its epic scope but also for its large cast of characters. Essentially a sequel to X-Men: First Class with the younger (1973) versions of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and the Beast joined by the original X-Men movie characters i.e. Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Storm, Colossus and older versions of Professor X and Magneto.
Despite the potential challenges that such a large cast provides and rather distasteful previous outing for the original X-Men movie characters (i.e. X-Men: The Last Stand), director Singer not only averts disaster but delivers a widescreen heartfelt superhero film that erases the atrocity that was X-Men: The Last Stand and quite like the Star Trek reboots, wipes the slate clean so that the X-franchise can begin anew. No mean feat.
One gets the sense that Singer wanted to make things right after abandoning these characters for Superman Returns and allowing X-Men: The Last Stand to tarnish the reputation of our merry band of mutants. There are action sequences of awe and humor that need to be seen more than once (Quicksilver anyone?) but there are also intimate character moments where hearts are touched and tough decisions are made in the name of the greater good. Seen together with X-Men: First Class, there is a powerful emotional resonance amongst the characters that shines through.
The acting is of the highest order and that is to expected when you consider the calibre of the talent involved. Kudos to the 15,000 involved in this stellar production and one can now only wait with bated breath for the final installment in this particular trilogy – X-Men: Apocalypse. Don’t miss this.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is showing in the cinemas now.
What more can I say? Against all conventional thinking, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy just might be the best comic book movie ever. Well, based on the amazing trailers so far, in any case. Expectations are high for 1st August!
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Directed by Marc Webb. Starring Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx and Emma Stone
Based on the trailers & promotional materials, the producers of Amazing Spider-Man 2 had indulged in misdirection to suggest that Spidey would be fighting THREE villains in this film viz. Electro (Foxx), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and Rhino (Paul Giamatti). In that respect, there were concerns that the film seemed too similar to Sam Raimi’s flawed Spider-Man 3 which was bogged down by THREE villains as well.
SPIDER-MAN VS X-MEN
Super-heroes are massive. Especially Marvel super-heroes. Both Fox’s X-Men and Sony’s Spider-Man franchises have been incredibly lucrative: X-Men has grossed $1,065,460,187 and Spider-Man, $1,375,853,166. And this May, the two franchises go head to head, who will come out tops? Our bet is on X-Men: Days of Future Past (which opens in Singapore on 22nd May). The star power on the movie will more or less guarantee box office success, and based on the final trailer below, might have a good story behind it as well.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
(Directed by Anthony & James Russo. Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford & Sebastian Stan)
Finally, a Phase 2 Marvel movie knocks one out of the park! Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World had not quite hit the heights of Avengers and thus it was left to Captain America: The Winter Soldier to deliver the goods.
Billed as the biggest superhero movie ever produced, Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past packs two generations of X-Men in a loose adaptation of Uncanny X-Men #141-142 (1980). Based on the two trailers already seen and the previous X-movies, it’s obvious that changes to the original stories is a given. The most one can hope for is that director Bryan Singer keeps faith with the core of the original stories, does not include too many lame characters (like X-Men: The Last Stand) and keeps the plot convolution to a bare minimum. Here’s the latest trailer for your viewing pleasure.
Opens 22nd May.
We are coming close to a steady release of anticipated geek flicks as the traditional summer blockbuster season eases itself over the horizon. Here are trailers for four of the movies geeks might want to check out in the coming weeks.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A book about superheroes from one of the most iconoclastic of comic book writers, Grant Morrison. To sum it up, Morrison provides an analysis of over 70 years of the superhero mythos whilst at the same time dovetailing the subject matter into some kind of meta-autobiography.
To be honest, I was less than impressed when Marvel Studio first announced its intention to make a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The original concept art that accompanied the press release (above) certainly did not help the cause. The main concern was Rocket Raccoon (an intelligent, anthropomorphic raccoon, who is an expert marksman and master tactician!) and the feeling that if the film-makers got Rocket wrong in making him believable, then that would destroy the movie’s credibility.
Of course, so far Marvel Studios have not failed to deliver with each of its films and in bringing in James Gunn (Slither, Super) to helm the first movie adaptation of Marvel’s outer space characters, it revealed an intention to tap into the director’s distinctive quirky style. And this is clearly evident from the first full trailer which presents a comic tone that works very well. I especially like the way that everyone makes fun of Star-Lord’s name.
And… Rocket looks awesome. Take a look!
Guardians of the Galaxy opens on 1st August. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bastita, Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR
I suppose I am a bit late to DC’s New 52 concept which rebooted the company’s entire superhero line but the very idea repulsed me back then, so you will forgive me if I decided not to indulge when it all went down in 2011. The direct-to-video animated movie, Justice League: War, represents the first movie adaptation of the New 52 series (in particular, Justice League) and thus, I thought it would be an appropriate time to give my 2cts worth on this latest reboot.
Most PoP visitors will be aware of my ambivalence towards contemporary superhero comics. But every now and then, a series will appear that promises an intriguing take on the much maligned ‘genre’. Writer Mark Millar is a fairly big shot in the world of superhero comics and the Scot is best known for his work in The Authority and The Ultimates (not to mention Kick-Ass). Artist Frank Quitely has made his name working mainly with Grant Morrison on well-received titles like The New X-Men, All-Star Superman and We3. Last time these well-regarded creators worked together was on the aforementioned The Authority but this time, this creator-owned property gives them both a chance to let loose on the superhero mythos to fairly good effect.
Reminiscing. About superhero comic books from the 1980s. Those were the days! *Sigh*
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer is here and guess what? The movie looks like Spider-Man 3 – y’know three villains overkill. Mm. Hopefully, it will make more sense than Spider-Man 3 did. Note: that last sequence really looks like a video game. Ugh.
What did you think of the trailer?
KICK ASS 2
I ain’t gonna sugar coat it – there is no justification for this pointless sequel, except the studio’s blind greed. I loved the first Kick Ass, I found it inventive, invigorating and highly entertaining with Chloe Moretz’s Hit Girl the icing on the proverbial cake.
Everything about this sequel is just wrong – not least the entire cliched sequence where Mindy MacCready (Hit Girl’s alter ego) attempts to lead a normal life and leaves her vigilante lifestyle behind. And when even scenes with Moretz are not able to satisfy, then it’s clear that the movie is in trouble!
There is nothing remotely interesting about the plot – predictable and unimaginative – it plods along at a didactic pace that threatened to induce sleep once or twice. Even Jim Carrey’s Captain Stars and Stripes is unable to inject any real humour into the proceedings.
By the time, the movie arrives at its inevitable denouement – the big battle between super-heroes and super-villains – one is simply past caring – there is hardly any depth of characterization that would encourage the audience to invest any concern regarding the ultimate fates of the characters.
Gravity (Opens on 3rd October)
Mexican Alfonso Cuaron earned his reputation as a leading cutting edge director with Children of Men, th etrailer for the upcoming Gravity (starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) certainly looks pretty enough but somehow Bullock’s cries for help is difficult to reconcile with a seriously cool flick. I am hoping that there’s more to the movie than the trailer suggests.
Ender’s Game (Opens on 7th November)
Orson Scott Card’s epic tale of gifted children recruited to fight an alien invasion of Earth finally hits the screen with controversy over Card’s anti-gay opinions threatening overshadow the merits of the movie itself. The trailer looks intriguing enough though…
… still there’s more …
Super-hero movies. Once upon a time the very idea was a joke. The only successful super-hero movies (Batman, Superman) were the exclusion domain of DC. How that has changed! Marvel characters have become immensely popular with movie fans since the first X-Men movie and this was further escalated by Marvel themselves entering the fray with the first Iron Man movie. With The Avengers generating over a billion dollars at the box office, Marvel licensees like SONY and Fox are dead set on holding on to its prized franchises.
Reboot. Re-imagination. Re-telling.
In geek movie franchises (scifi, fantasy or superhero), going back to the beginning to re-introduce a iconic character is virtually unavoidable nowadays. In Batman Begins (2005), Christopher Nolan (director/co-screenwriter) and David S Goyer (co-screenwriter) succeeded in re-vitalizing the Dark Knight after the critical failure of Batman & Robin (1997). This success was due to Nolan’s approach to portray Batman as realistically as possible (within the context of a superhero movie) and Nolan and Goyer would bring the franchise to greater heights with Dark Knight (2008) and Dark Knight Rises (2012).
It was therefore natural for Warner Bros and DC Comics to look to Nolan and Goyer to do the same for Superman. By all accounts, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) was a massive flop and Warner Bros was keen to turn it all around for Superman with Man of Steel. Adding director Zack Snyder (300 and Watchmen) to the mix, Nolan and Goyer applied the Dark Knight approach to Superman.
And it works.
With nods to numerous scifi movies of the recent past (Matrix, Independence Day) and a healthy referencing of the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, Man of Steel is,without doubt, one of the best superhero movies ever made and provides a solid platform for Warner Bros to build up the DC Universe from its foundation.
So many high points – the brilliant cast, the thought-provoking themes, the appropriate flashback sequences, the astounding art direction, the sensational special effects and dynamic film score – but the best part of all was that Snyder, Nolan and Goyer chose not to pander to the comic book audience only but instilled a science-fictional tread that ran right through the well-written plot narrative.
Man of Steel is now showing at a cinema near you.
Iron Man 2 was only half a movie, in my humble opinion. The first half was quick-paced and exhilarating but then the wheels came off and the movie came to a tired conclusion. The sequel did well at the box office but one sensed that director Jon Favreau had lost interested in the franchise that he had kickstarted. So when it came to talk about the third Iron Man movie, Favreau passed and Shane Black came onboard.
As regular PoP readers will be aware, I was less than impressed with the disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine – it was simply a bad movie and totally wasted the opportunity to develop one of the most interesting Marvel characters. But of course, due to the movie’s immense success, a sequel was always going to be on the cards. According to reports, the James Mangold-helmed The Wolverine is based on the classic Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, which is set in Japan. Looking at the new poster (above), it’s clear that a strong Milleresque vibe has been assimilated to appease and excite comic book fans. To be honest, I have low expectations (I still believe that Hugh Jackman is totally wrong for Wolverine but that’s another story) but it’s wait and see for the time being…
The Wolverine will be released on 24th July 2013.
2013 is on the horizon and the movie studios are letting us know that there is much to look forward to next year in terms of scifi and superhero movies. Here are a bunch of new trailers that have caught the eye and captured the imagination.