Batman Fan Theory: The Riddler Was in The Dark Knight

31 07 2017

The-Dark-Knight-poster

Was Coleman Reese actually Nolan’s grounded version of The Riddler? I analyze this theory for Creators.co in this article, right here!





Dunkirk- Review

26 07 2017

Dunkirk-poster-wallpaper

After such movies as The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar, it’s fair to say Christopher Nolan sets a high bar for cinema, one that would set an almost crushing weight of expectation from fans with each new movie onto most directors. Luckily, Nolan is not like some directors, and made a bold move by tackling a project- World War II- that marked a strong departure from the “sci-fi and comic book” movies that had become his defining brand. In my (and most actual critics’) opinion, this endeavor pays off by producing a visually and technically stunning film, with images and moments that will not be soon forgotten.

cillian-murphy-and-tom-glynn-carney-in-dunkirk-2017

The Continued Adventures of Scarecrow.

Like the majority of the audience, I was unfamiliar with the events of Dunkirk before I heard about the movie. It’s not a story of a major victory like D-Day, but rather a desperate retreat by the French, British, and Belgium forces after a military disaster, where “survival is victory.” With German fighter planes and bombers picking off the Allied ships, British citizens with boats came to help evacuate the 400,000 stranded troops.

Fans of Nolan may recognize that the above summary of the events is a remarkably straightforward and simple plot for him to tell. There’s no multiple dream levels or time travel tomfoolery here, just us following groups of people in the air, sea, and beaches. Even the soundtrack from Hans Zimmer is noticeably ambient compared to other works such as Inception or The Dark Knight trilogy. However, Nolan did choose to go a nonlinear route with the storytelling, based on how long each counterpart group was actually involved in the historic event. So, while we only see the hour of time that was the plane mission, it’s told alongside a week’s worth of content from the beached troops, and the day that the civilian boats came to help. This device subtly added more tension, as we knew a bit of details about the future, but not the specifics of what happened to the characters. However, the big payoff came when all three timelines finally intersected in the third act, and everything ran in real time.

dunkirk-tom-hardy

His name is Bane, here to crash your plane.

One other notable departure from classic Nolan films was the light character details (Cillian Murphy is only listed as “Shivering Soldier,” and he was one of the few people who actually talked). According to Nolan in an interview with NPR, they were intentionally light on character depth, because he wanted the audience to “care about a character simply by virtue of what it is they’re trying to achieve onscreen in a physical sense, a task they’re trying to achieve. We very immediately, as audience members, we…find ourselves in their shoes very quickly, and I wanted to make a film that really snuck up on the emotions.”

dunkirk-movie-officers

Can you have English subtitles on an English movie?

With the caliber of Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, and Cillian Murphy, who are so capable of portraying relatable characters, we didn’t need a ton of background or character-driven dialogue, but at the same time, it would still have been nice to hear them interact more (although it was nice to hear Michael Caine’s cameo on the radio). However, in retrospect, these relatively unknown characters actually helped provide more immersion in the actual events. It was less like, “I wonder if Commander Bolton is thinking about his wife and children back in their little cabin,” and more like, “OMG THIS SHIP IS ON FIRE AND SINKING.” Also, since veterans of the battle were interviewed beforehand, this is probably the closest to the feeling we’ll ever experience (for example, the soldier walking into the ocean to swim to his death was based on a firsthand account).

The movie is absolutely beautiful in IMAX, especially the breathtaking aerial dogfights over the water. This is because the the bulk of the film was shot in IMAX, with giant IMAX cameras strapped to plane replicas as they flew after each other, or were free-handed over the water in boats. The majority of the shots and effects were practical (with around 1,500 extras and battleships physically built), displaying an insane commitment to detail and authenticity that holds up better than the usual CGI-animated summer blockbuster.

christopher-nolan-dunkirk-extras

“Needs more extras!” – Chris Nolan, probably.

In summary, Dunkirk is a simple story with simple characters, but it’s told in spectacular fashion. It won’t be displacing my top few Nolan movies, but is still a solid and surprisingly moving film that should be watched in theaters. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting tribute to the troops and civilians who endured on those beaches.





4 Things Movie Fans Should Know About Dunkirk Director Christoper Nolan

19 07 2017

christopher-nolan-interstellar-director.jpg

Hey everyone, I’m also writing on Creators.co to gain more experience/motivation. I’ll still be writing here too, but thought I’d provide an easy way for you to read more of my random thoughts.

That said, check out my second post here! It’s a great, great link.





Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

12 07 2017

spider-man-homecoming-banner-poster

It’s weird to say that the sixth Spider-Man movie (that kicks off the third reboot) is not only a good idea, but exactly what we needed, but here we are. After the disastrous Amazing Spider-Man movies, with their overly brooding tone yet cheesy villains, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a breath of fresh air. It’s not free of problems, and hasn’t replaced Spider-Man 2 as my favorite spidey movie, but it fits neatly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while also feeling like a standalone film.

spider-man-homecoming-tony-stark-iron-man

When Tony realizes his chances with Aunt May are gone.

Tom Holland makes an excellent Peter Parker, depicting the best high-school era version we’ve gotten (sorry,  Andrew Garfield was a terrible “nerdy” high school student). He seems like a normal teen blessed with powers who got to join an epic event (remember when he stole Captain America’s shield?), and then gets antsy and frustrated when it all seems to have ended. His Peter Parker was relatable, quippy and sufficiently awkward, just as it should be. His friends were also awkward but effective, particularly his hilarious best friend Ned (AKA The Guy in the Chair).

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man acted the benefactor/mentor character quite well in his own trademark style (his opening banter with Peter in the car was especially entertaining). However, he was appropriately off to the side- this needed to be focused on Peter Parker, not Tony Stark. I appreciated how they realistically explained why he wasn’t around more, and showed that he wasn’t completely leaving Peter unsupervised, thanks to the (invasive) surveillance and “training wheel” protocols (Happy still could have been a little more accommodating with the whole “liaison” thing though).

spiderman-homecoming-vulture-keaton

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

I really enjoyed watching Vulture as the villain. Michael Keaton was a thousand times better as an antagonist than any garbage bad guys the two Amazing Spider-Man movies tried to offer (remember how terrible those villains were?!). Vulture actually had some motivation, with helping his family and workers, and that blue-collar-everyman status earned him sympathy from the audience (at least until we saw his swanky house). His portrayal of the Vulture brought back warm fuzzy memories of Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2. He was also more menacing than expected, with palpable tension present in the car scene.

I’m also glad Vulture didn’t die. It would have just been another tragic friend/girlfriend’s parental figure who died indirectly because of Spider-Man, who would then beat himself up over again. That story-line has been used so many times already in previous Spider-Man films, it’s become its own trope.

Ned-Leeds-spider-man-homecoming

Forget the Washington Monument- it’ll take weeks to rebuild that Lego Death Star,

Besides the epic new version of the old Spider-Man theme song we got in the beginning, the score wasn’t too memorable. However that does seem to be par for the course with Marvel Avengers movies, or maybe Hans Zimmerman spoiled me with the Dark Knight trilogy. There was also plenty of CGI, but nothing too obvious or glaring- this is about a guy swinging on a web fighting a mechanical bird man, after all.

I enjoyed the “street level” feel of the movie- no alien invasion or giant warships here, just a gang selling weapons with modified alien tech from the Avengers New York fight. It was also nice to have a Spider-Man movie where he doesn’t go through 10 levels of drama fawning after a girl; this was more like a high school crush. I’m still not down with this version of Aunt May, and don’t even get me STARTED with “MJ,” who’s completely different in appearance and personality than any other version of Mary Jane. I understand wanting to make things different, but those two character interpretations are so out of left field it’s distracting. And yes, I’m aware that they stated later she’s actually not Mary Jane, but that just makes her line a big, dumb Easter egg that’s not even a real Easter egg. Zendaya’s character was perfect without confusing everyone with a cheap twist.

All in all though, I really enjoyed this movie. It was colorful, humorous, and entertaining, unlike the last three Spider-Man movies (did I mention I hated those?). I’m excited to see where they take this, and how Peter’s world might change after the next two Avengers films.

zendaya-spider-man-homecoming-michelle

My face, when she called herself “MJ.”

 

 





Why Movies Based on Video Games Are Always Terrible

8 07 2017

Hey everyone, I’m also now writing on Creators.co to gain more experience/motivation. I’ll still be writing here too, but thought I’d provide an easy way for you to read more of my random thoughts.

That said, check out my first post here! I promise that link is fantastic!

super-mario-bros-movie

 





Wonder Woman- Movie Review

14 06 2017

Wonder Woman poster

Wonder Woman tells the story of how when all seemed lost, a group of desperate people turned to a superhero to save them, where others had failed. I’m referencing, of course, to how this film just redeemed the flaming trash heap of current DC movies for all those Warner Bros executives. It’s not a perfect movie, and it doesn’t come close to dethroning Dark Knight as my favorite comic book movie (and one of my top movies in general). However, it is unquestionably a few levels higher from the rest of the DC Justice League Movie Universe Extravaganza, or whatever they’re calling it these days.

Chris-Pine-and-Gal-Gadot-in-Wonder-Woman

Chris Pine the Lucky Guy

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine worked well together, and were basically the meatiest characters of the film. And yes, part of that is because they’re in loooove, but also Steve Trevor was there to show Diana that mankind was not complety corrupt and evil, and could even show selfless heroism, which ultimately catapulted her into her full powers in the finale. It was also important that he act as the audience’s connection in the movies, grounding all the crazy Amazon shenanigans with appropriate reactions. That said, people were just a little too chill when that woman blew up a church steeple by flying into it. Is everyone just overly jaded from the Great War?

Everyone else served their purpose as a character, including the rest of her surprisingly diverse crew. Ares was a little under-cooked as a villain (partly because of him staying in the shadows for the twist), but was still worlds better than this movie universe’s awful versions of Joker and Lex Luthor. I know that’s not a high bar, but it was refreshing not to cringe through a ridiculous performance (remember Enchantress?!). Creating his own armor from burning metal wreckage on the fly was pretty BA, as well.

wonder-woman-trailer-15

Wonder Woman saves Wolverine from Stryker?

Speaking of visual effects, the CGI was OK through the movie. Boss Mode Ares looked better than Poop Troll Doomsday from Batman V Superman (again, pretty low bar to hurdle). But honestly, Gal Gadot jumping several stories while throwing a tank is going to look a little wonky no matter how much money is spent. The best bit of CGI was a detail I didn’t find out about until later- apparently during some of the re-shoots, Gal Gadot’s 6-months-pregnant belly was given its own hole in the Wonder Woman costume, and painted green for removal later. How crazy is that?!

wonder-woman-amazons-themyscira-

It’s weird that Amazons fighting in WW1 is a more coherent storyline than Batman fighting Superman, but here we are.

I realize most of my grading so far is in comparison with the earlier DC movies, but it’s kind of what happens when a studio decides to make these movies all connected. In case you didn’t notice, I’m not really a fan of those films. That said, let’s run through what I liked about just this movie. I enjoyed Gal Gadot’s portrayal of a powerful yet innocently naive Diana, someone who likes ice cream and babies (not at the same time), but who is still a warrior trained for fighting. She’s possibly the best woman superhero we’ve seen in movies yet- who’s not there just to look sexy while fighting impassively in slow motion(though she is gorgeous). She also did not play some impersonal, arrogant figure who seems more machine than woman. I already said I thought her moments with Steve and his merry crew were great. As a history nerd, the World War 1 backdrop was fantastic, and also made sense since it was “the war to end all worlds.” Also, this film focused on being a story about a superhero, not a commercial for five upcoming superhero movies.

Diana’s unveiling scene in No Man’s Land (little on the nose) also may go down as one of the more iconic comic books scenes. The only other moment I could compare its vivid imagery and striking score to in DC’s current lineup would be Superman’s first flight in Man of Steel, or Enchantress belly-dancing in Suicide Squad (haha!). While this movie has certainly elevated DC back to a fighting position, it’ll be interesting to see if Justice League continues to even higher heights, or drags us back down to the brooding, overly-inflated ground.

NIGHTINGALE

I still needed more Fashion Time With Etta.





Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

24 12 2016

rogueone_poster

Five years ago, you could have never told me a Disney standalone Star Wars spinoff movie would be a good thing. That sentence alone would have conjured up images of the wonderfully nightmarish Star Wars Holiday Special. Plot twist: Rogue One delivers a story worthy of the Star Wars universe, and one that can stand right up there with the original trilogy (I’m giving a stink eye to you, prequels). By the way, if you’re new here- the chances of spoilers ahead are high, very high.

rogue-one-cast-group

The Rebels standing in a base, probably built on hope.

While some of the official posters for this movie look like a Celebrate Rebel Diversity Day promo flyer, each one ended up helping make Rogue One memorable (except maybe Forest Whitaker- didn’t really get his character). Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso fantastically anchored the movie with the right amount of grit and heart, and it’s difficult to imagine any other actress filling her role. However, the highlight for me was the darkly sarcastic K-2SO, due to Alan Tudyk’s  timed delivery. Donnie Yen was essentially a blind samurai, which yes, we’ve all seen before, but hey we haven’t seen it in Star Wars! His bro time with Wen Jiang‘s Baze Malbus was great to watch (even their bro deaths), which brings me to the biggest downer. Rogue One‘s all like, “Here’s your new favorite characters! Now they’re all dead. Haha!” This wasn’t really a plot twist (otherwise where were these people later?), but at the same time I’m surprised nobody at all made it out to, I dunno, some far planet to help the Rebellion from there. In the end, it was the right decision.

It was great to get back into the world of the original trilogy- the Rebellion vs. the Empire. We got Mon Motha and Bail Organa, Admiral Ackbar’s extended family, classic Rebel ships, X and Y-Wings, and plenty of screaming Rebel deaths, just like old times. In the absence of any Jedi, the Empire is indeed more formidable, and it was fun to see the plucky Rebels ever-so-barely come out with a (costly) victory. Also, the Death Star eclipsing a sun and nuking a city was terrifyingly epic.

 

rogue-one-xwing-spacebattle

Pew-Pew-Pew-Yaaaay!

 

Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic was memorable, but his character seemed to consistently fail throughout the movie, and didn’t seem that menacing anymore by the end. He didn’t spot Galen’s treachery, he lost the plans, lost the base, even lost the reward for his part in the Death Star creation, and got fried by the Death Star (should this movie just be called “Krennic’s Really Bad Day“?). He also had the cards stacked against him whenever he appeared in scenes next to more iconic Imperial villains such as Vader and Tarkin.

Speaking of Tarkin (how about that segue?), his CGI resurrection has brought mixed feelings among  fans. I for one had no idea he would appear (since Peter Cushing has passed on), so his reveal in the movie was initially a shock, but a happy shock. Grand Moff Tarkin is a notorious villain and is inherently tied to everyone’s memory of the first Death Star. But it was also wildly distracting for me, as the CGI technology (although impressive) took all my focus. Is it, as some people state, disrespectful to bring back an actor from the grave? It wasn’t a perfect replica, but it was far, far better than other posthumous creations I’ve seen, and seemed to be in line with Cushing’s original portrayal. A hologram might have done just as much justice (and in a meta sense felt like a ghost), or they could have gone full prosthetic on a similar actor, but would that have been any more respectful by giving his role to someone else, or would the recast even have been less distracting? I’m not sure.  That said, by all accounts Peter Cushing would have loved to have been in more Star Wars movies (ironically unlike Sir Alec Guiness), so all things considered, we didn’t really answer this question at all.

rogue-one-k2s0-jyn

My favorite character, and the main character.

 

Now let’s talk some Darth Vader!  Basically, he was fantastic, and brutal. As in, “I probably shouldn’t be cheering for Vader as he murders the faces off all these heroes, but isn’t this awesome?!” With just two appearances in the movie, they redefined Vader. His massacre moment aside, this is someone who gets cut up and burned on a volcano planet and years later builds a freakin’ castle on it, because he can. Joking aside, I liked the trip back to Mustafar because it gave a glimpse into Vader’s psyche. He either views Mustafar as his true birth place, or he prefers to feed off the anger and emotions it gives him, or both. His character has always kicked butt, but this movie provided a wonderful reminder why he’s the most feared in the galaxy. Gone are our memories of Anakin not liking sand, because “it’s coarse and rough, and gets everywhere.” That said, Vader DIDN’T get out and fight on the Scariff beaches…

My list of drawbacks for the film is quite short. Some of the easter eggs were a little too on the nose, mainly the Ugly Face Duo from the Tatooine cantina, who just happened to be on a different planet across the galaxy at the right time. Also, to put on my nerd glasses, but Darth Vader originally mentions plans being beamed onto Leia’s ship, vs. handed over in the world’s scariest relay game of Pass The Plans Along Before Vader Chokes You To Death (still working on that name). Oh, and CGI Leia was FAR worse-looking than CGI Tarkin. Besides those few things, there were a few cringe-worthy lines that were in the trailer (Jyn’s “I rebel” line) but were removed from the movie, so kudos to you, Disney.

 

rogue-one-darth-vader-krennic

When you barge into the boss’s sauna.

In the end, Rogue One does a better job at setting up the original trilogy than Revenge of the Sith did, and I immediately felt a strong urge to watch A New Hope (I still haven’t, but it was a nice feeling). Disney/Lucasfilm effectively kept this separate from the numbered episodes (no opening crawl, no John Williams, texts over locations), and it paid off by feeling fresh. The creators of this film did a great job of using familiar toys in the Star Wars playground in new ways, giving us a slightly darker, more unique take on their universe- one filled with hope, sorrow, and star dust.