‘The Suicide Squad’ Review – Over-the-Top Comic Book Mayhem

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.

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Should ‘Tenet’ Come Out This Summer?

Last week we were graced with a new titillating trailer for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming mind-bender, Tenet. I viewed it just as the auteur had intended, via Fortnite. (Sorry, that’s still funny to me.) I am once again fascinated by Nolan’s own fascination with time. I’d like to think that if Nolan weren’t a writer-director extraordinaire, he’d be an excellent watchmaker.

Missing from the trailer this time around is any mention of the film’s release date, instead brandishing the tag: “Coming to theaters.” It appears Warner Bros. is crossing fingers these next few weeks, monitoring economic forecasts as counties, states, and other countries slowly begin to ease restrictions. Nolan, backed by the studio and an at-risk cinema state, is doing his utmost to save his medium’s exhibition by making good on Tenet’s summer tentpole release. But with a still-rising death count, new safeguards in place, and warnings of a second wave, it’s not a question of will Tenet come out this summer, but should it? Continue reading

Favorite Summer Movies

There used to be a time when I craved the summer movie. The fun, the sun, the pure escapism. I hate to say it, but I’ve grown increasingly underwhelmed by the recent summer movie crop. I’m wondering if this is a consequence of a superhero landscape that turns months like February, March, even November into prime blockbuster slates, or if this is indicative of a booming streaming culture where most of us are apt to skip the theater altogether. It might even be a case of  poorly chosen IPs recycled to cash-in on existing fanbases.

To renew my faith, I’d like to reflect on a cherished theater-going staple by cobbling together a list of my absolute favorite summer movies, ones I had the privilege of seeing while the going was spectacular. Whether summer movie season is at an end or suffering through a morally bankrupt slump, I’d like to key in on the films that made the whole craze worthwhile. Continue reading

Best Summer Movies 2018

Summer movie season officially came to an end last week, but that’s hardly a bummer because in terms of studio filmmaking it’s been a truly remarkable one. I’m still pinching myself at all the movies we got to see. (I’m 70% sure M:I – Fallout was just a dream.) TIFF and Telluride are well underway with lots of buzz for the upcoming Fall slate. Don’t get pretentious with them Oscar bets just yet. Here are my picks for this year’s best summer movies.  Continue reading

In Defense of Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’

If there’s any action director we took for granted, it’s Guillermo del Toro. Few recall that he did Hellboy. Even fewer remember Blade II. Admittedly, this is a hard thing to raise hell over especially with his recent Oscar-winning glory, one felt by critics and devoted fans. Del Toro is a critical darling who’s achieved occasional box office success, which is perplexing considering he’s done both the superhero and the summer blockbuster. Of his mainstream films, I can’t think of a more sorely overlooked summer movie than del Toro’s Pacific RimContinue reading