Just when I think I’m done, they keep pulling me back.Continue reading
We all know of James Gunn’s ignominious fall from grace. He went from shock-jock provocateur in his Troma days, which curiously led to him scripting the live-action Scooby Doo, followed by the Dawn of the Dead remake; he directed his own horror genre mash-up in Slither, proceeded to indict vigilantes and superheroes with his twisted indie Super, and then was handed the reins of an obscure Marvel franchise to call his own. Gunn’s career read like the unlikeliest of success stories.
Studio gigs are a dream come true for upcoming filmmakers because there’s an assurance to the work that doesn’t exist in independent filmmaking. If a director can meet all of the studio’s requirements for bringing in bankable stars, appealing to a PG-13 audience, merchandising and marketing, etc., then the studio will bankroll your “vision” and stand by you in both success and failure, supposedly. It’s the very assurance that Steven Spielberg had when Universal Studios secured him as a young talent through a multi-picture contract.
It seemed like Disney had Gunn’s back when Guardians 3 was announced months before Vol. 2 came out. And then they dumped him. I mention this because it’s the first time since entering the studio system that Gunn might have felt expendable—and perhaps why he was drawn to this expendable group of heroes.Continue reading
After Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and certainly after Zack Snyder’s brief trial run, I felt like the Caped Crusader could benefit from an overdue sabbatical, and frankly so could we. There’s been a Batman film (or films featuring the Batman) roughly every 3 years since 2005. Even for a lifelong Batman fan that’s excessive.
When Matt Reeves was tapped to write and direct another reboot with Robert Pattinson queued as the next Bruce Wayne, I did my best to feign exasperation despite some excellent sneak peeks. “Darker” and “grittier” they said it would be, or “raw & unsanitized.” Up until DC’s FanDome event, I was all for Warner Bros. hanging up the cape and cowl. But after this weekend’s trailer, I am formally withdrawing my objections. Gimme raw and unsanitized Batman movies for as long as I live. Continue reading
“Own that shit!” Harley Quinn chants. “Own it.” The squad spends some downtime at a bar. Naturally, things get personal. El Diablo, the last to reveal what he’s done, confesses his sins. The squad is startled to hear his story, that of a family he loved. A family he killed. Harley, dropping the glam and the hysteria, tells Diablo to own up to it. It’s part of him. He can either continue to hide it, or wear it on his sleeve. Suicide Squad wants to own up to its tagline (Worst. Heroes. Ever.) but seems terribly afraid of taking the plunge. It has all the right ingredients – a colorful canvas, a talented cast, and a bold premise. But the film cuts and runs from its own potential at nearly every turn. Perhaps Amanda Waller should’ve injected a nanite explosive in the film itself. Continue reading
I keep going back to the scene in the desert. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are meeting with a torrential warlord. Olsen takes harmless photos of the interview when Anatoli intervenes. There’s something distinctly meta about this scene. Olsen, a surrogate for director Zack Snyder, and Anatoli, a stand-in for an overbearing studio with an agenda of their own. Anatoli plucks the camera from Olsen, extracts the roll of film and exposes the negative, desecrating the pictures into ruin. Considering Olsen’s doomed fate, I can’t think of a better metaphor that captures the trials that plagued Batman v Superman in the editing suite. Snyder, the idealistic filmmaker, has a vision. But he is beholden to the studio the same way Olsen is beholden to Luthor’s henchman. This gave us the theatrical cut, which Snyder admirably stood by. The Ultimate Edition (the supposed compromise between the studio and Snyder’s original vision) was meant to realign what was supposed to be the greatest fight card in the history of the world. But does a longer movie equate to a better one? Yes and no. Continue reading