Criticizing A Comic Book Movie

marvelstudioslogo

On the 31st of July I reviewed the newest Comic Book cinematic experience – Guardians of the Galaxy. It features what we can call a B-list team of space superheroes, trying to defend the Galaxy whilst getting their fair share of loot on their way. The movie deals with serious topics, but most of it highlights how these heroes are goofballs – in the best possible way. The movie is lighthearted, and as you can see in my review – I loved it. But I’ve come across a lot of people hating on the tone of the film, as well as the fact that this specific franchise gets more praise than its main opponent, the DC franchise. So, today I thought I’d go over some of the criticism directed Marvel’s way, and how you can defuse these situations calmly.

There will always be these trolls, some that try to attack the popular opinion to ignite a certain type of fire within you – try to make you lash out in the comments. We will always have these ‘trolls’, and therefore they don’t deserve a high spot in this post, in stead I’d like to talk about a group that sounds like trolls – when in truth, they are just of a different mold.


 

The two main comic book companies are DC and Marvel, and they’ve both started creating their Cinematic Universes. While Marvel is closer to finishing their projects, DC is stuck a couple of steps behind them. Now, the ‘either you are with me or against me’ battle will often ensue between these types of opponents – just like PlayStation and Microsoft fanboys have their battles. These people have a different perspective on comic book movies than one another, and I believe it doesn’t simply stem from cinematic opinion or tonal preference. It stems from the origin of their comic book interest.

While both of these universes focus on the same things, their approach is very different. I’ve always said that Marvel’s the bright-eyed kid standing in line for comic books, hoping for these very overall things to come through – whereas DC is the more realistic kid, the pickier one (for the better) – but also the one with a grounded reality and a realistic view of the world. If that makes any sense. If you look at the heroes and villains they are very similar (in most cases, on purpose) – we have Marvel’s Tony Stark to DC’s Bruce Wayne, Marvel’s Captain America to DC’s Superman, Marvel’s Thanos to DC’s Darkseid (and don’t get me started on Deadpool vs. Deathstroke).

The universes that these characters inhabit are actually very different from one another. Where Marvel oftentimes stay in the ‘real world’ and have the cities of Los Angeles and New York as the normal hangouts – DC goes in a different direction, in stead going for the grounded, dirty and filthy streets of Gotham and the stereotypical city of Metropolis.


The difference in film, in present day, is also very clear. The tonally dark Gotham of the Nolan-Batman trilogy has sparked the new Cinematic Universe of DC, with Man of Steel even becoming this rough portrayal of a scared and scarred alien. In Marvel’s corner, we’ve gotten something remarkable with the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the introduction of the Tony Stark to rule them all – Robert Downey Jr. The cocky playboy that is Tony Stark, is indeed fitting within this universe, at least for the True Believers. Here we have the want of core-Marvel movie-goers personified – standing on the line between cocky and confident, but mostly happy and gutsy. The spirit of Marvel-Moviegoers is of pure joy, and that’s not a knock against the spirit of DC fanboys and moviegoers. I simply think they look for something else.

I consider myself a core-Marvel fanboy, and I find myself wanting something set in reality, something goofy and confident – with references to top them all (with some even being too convoluted). I don’t care if they stray somewhat from the source material, as long as they do it in an imaginative way, a way that gives a different spin on things – something you can only do on film. Iron Man 3 is perfect for this, and though I know some fanboys hate this film – it pushed on the boundary of what these films can do. They can veer a great deal from the source material – but only in a soothing way.

I think DC fanboys and moviegoers want the source material to be handled with a greater deal of respect, and would also like something more set in the comic book – i.e. a detective style Bruce Wayne (a la Arkham Asylum). While Adam West is a legend, the kitsch Adam West-Batman does not work for them today, and would really only work in a Marvel story (In my humble opinion).


Here’s the thing. I love going to see both Marvel and DC movies, but I’m also in a situation wherein I expect something else. I don’t expect a deeply serious portrayal of Drax the Destroyer – a homicidal maniac. I go into the theater, with expectations of a comedic tone to a somewhat serious source material. I go into DC-productions with an expectation of a grounded film – something Marvel’s not that good at (if the recent Hulk film starring Edward Norton is to be taken seriously). Both things work. DC’s been great at creating serious and grounded films starring a scary joker, an undersized brute-like Bane – and the perfect portrayal of The Scarecrow.

Defuse these battles by coming clean, explain your comic book origin, your expectations – don’t overcriticize source material that you are not familiar with. Defuse the situation. We are all comic book fans here, and in the end – don’t we just want to feel like kids again? That’s what I think you do, and Guardians of the Galaxy is a perfect example of that.

REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Our Guardians.

Today I saw a movie that featured the characters that reignited the fire within me, reignited my passion for comic books – The Guardians of the Galaxy (the 2008 team, to be clear). I’ve been really excited for this film for a long time, and I feel like I’ve been accompanied by this massive hype-train for a few weeks – it’s great to hear that these smaller Marvel projects get a lot of love. In the following review, I will shed some light on what I liked, disliked and what I would’ve liked to have seen more of in this film – discuss the Credits-Scenes – and evaluate its potential as a top contender for Movie of the Year. Now, before going any further I must warn you of the following: WARNING – SPOILERS FOR THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY MAY APPEAR HENCEFORTH.

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Game of the Year Watch 2014: Update 4

Today my focus lies on 3 games that are published by some of the lesser known studios… Actually that’s not true, however they look like they’ve all been made by indie developers. The Wolf Among Us (Season/Book 1), Valiant Hearts: The Great War & Child of Light. Do note that SPOILERS might appear here. However, first I need to address that I’ve soured on a game I’ve previously scored at a 9.2/10.0. Entwined was a game that had a certain message to give, and I truly enjoyed that message – but as I’ve retraced my steps, and the kinks that it had – I’ve decided to lower its score due to its functionality when playing, and how annoying – not simply challenging – some levels are. Its score will be lowered from 9.2 to 8.2 – effective immediately. Also, South Park: The Stick of Truth was reviewed and scored at a time when I simply had no free time – and therefore any fun I had with it was limited. Having now replayed it, I’ve decided to boost its score (see it below).

Decisionmaking. Classic Telltale.

With that out of the way, I can start evaluating Telltale’s recent full adventure – the season of The Wolf Among Us, based on Fable. I’ve eagerly awaited the episodes, and now that they are all out – you should have no reason not to play them all. This game is action-packed, though without it forcing the story to feel out of pace and place – and it comes with its own Keyser Söze-moment. Very much unlike The Walking Dead Season 1 (The Game). Personally, I was not as attached to Snow and Bigby as I was Clementine and Lee – however, the story is very good. And if you’ve learned anything about me, it should be that I love a good story. Anyways, I must admit that having played this ‘game’ – I’ve sort of decided to look into buying Fable comics in the future. A top tier game, that is stellar in action, writing and overall pacing.

Next up is Child of Light. This is a lite version of an RPG, featuring heavy fairy tale elements. Now, I’ve read a lot of stories and I have a lot of love for fairy tales and such (I’m from H.C. Andersen’s home country for crying out loud) – this gave me great joy as I flew around with the main character. The story is somewhat simple, but the mood of the game improves the feel as a gamer. I would recommend this game to gamers who are interested in taking a journey into RPGs, knowing that this is a lite version. This game gave me great joy.

Finally, we need to look at Valiant Hearts: The Great War. This game is about World War I, and relationships and families torn due to its horror. It takes a simple turn on the story – but employs a story carrying great weight and added emotion. This can be a very emotional game, be prepared. There are great historical nuggets in this game, and the war that America (at first) was kept out of – is enlightened beautifully in this Ubisoft game. I really enjoyed the art and puzzles; but be prepared for emotions.

 

Game of The Year Watch:

  1. Mario Kart 8 – 9.7 out of 10.0.
  2. South Park: The Stick of Truth – 9.5 out of 10.0.
  3. The Wolf Among Us: Season 1 – 9.3 out of 10.0.
  4. Child of Light – 9.2 out of 10.0.
  5. Valiant Hearts: The Great War – 9.0 out of 10.0.
  6. InFAMOUS: Second Son – 9.0 out of 10.0.
  7. WATCH_DOGS – 8.5 out of 10.0.
  8. Entwined – 8.2 out of 10.0.
  9. EA Sports UFC – 7.0 out of 10.0.

Emmys 2014: My Picks

So, a buddy of mine showed me the full list of nominees for the Emmys this year – and though I disagreed with some of them, I feel that it probably highlights the balance of television right now… There is none. Television today is either of an extreme level, sometimes superseding the effect of movies – or a poor one, either due to bad overused CGI, horrible writing or basic directing. Now, he challenged me to go over every category, and pick my winner (therefore not removing or adding nominees). This I’ve done, and if you’d like to see my winners – here’s the list:

Drama series
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)

Comedy series
“Orange Is the New Black” (Netflix)

Miniseries
“Fargo” (FX)

TV Movie
“The Normal Heart” (HBO)

Actor in a drama
Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”)

Actress in a drama
Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)

Actor in a comedy
Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”)

Actress in a comedy
Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”)

Actor in a miniseries or a movie
Martin Freeman (“Fargo”)

Actress in a miniseries or a movie
Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story: Coven”)

Reality-competition program
“The Amazing Race” (CBS)

Variety series
“Real Time With Bill Maher” (HBO)

Supporting actor in a drama series
Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”)

Supporting actress in a drama series
Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”)

Guest actor in a drama series
Reg E. Cathey (“House of Cards”)

Guest actress in a drama series
Diana Rigg (“Game of Thrones”)

Writing for a drama series
Vince Gilligan (“Breaking Bad”)

Directing for a drama series
Cary Joji Fukunaga (“True Detective”)

Supporting actor in a comedy series
Adam Driver (“Girls”)

Supporting actress in a comedy series
Kate Mulgrew (“Orange Is the New Black”)

Guest actor in a comedy series
Jimmy Fallon (“Saturday Night Live”)

Guest actress in a comedy series
Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”)

Writing for a comedy series
Alec Berg (“Silicon Valley”)

Directing for a comedy series
Jodie Foster (“Orange Is the New Black”)

Supporting actor in a miniseries or a movie
Matt Bomer (“The Normal Heart”)

Supporting actress in a miniseries or a movie
Frances Conroy (“American Horror Story: Coven”)

Writing for a miniseries, movie or a dramatic special
Larry Kramer (“The Normal Heart”)

Directing for a miniseries, movie or a dramatic special
Nick Hurran (“Sherlock: His Last Vow”)

Variety special
“Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays” (HBO)

Writing for a variety series
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (NBC)

Writing for a variety special
“Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays” (HBO)

Directing for a variety series
Chuck O’Neil (“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”)

Directing for a variety special
Hamish Hamilton (“The Oscars”)

Special class program
“The Oscars” (ABC)

Short-format live-action entertainment program
“The Soup: True Detective” (E!)

Short-format nonfiction program
“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” (Crackle.com)

Interactive program
“Game of Thrones Premiere — Facebook Live and Instagram” (HBO)

Children’s program
“Degrassi” (Nickelodeon)

Host for a reality or reality-competition program
Jane Lynch (“Hollywood Game Night”)

Narrator
Jeremy Irons (“Game of Lions”)

Structured reality program
“Antiques Roadshow” (PBS)

Unstructured reality program
“Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan” (BBC America)

Documentary or nonfiction special
“JFK” (PBS)

Documentary or nonfiction series
“Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” (FOX/NatGeo)

Informational series or special
“Vice” (HBO)

Documentary filmmaking
“Brave Miss World” (Netflix)

Writing for nonfiction programming
Mark Zwonitzer (“JFK”)

Directing for nonfiction programming
Jehane Noujaim (“The Square”)

Animated program
“Archer” (FX Networks)

Short-format animated program
“Adventure Time” (Cartoon Network)

Character voice-over performance
Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy”)

Art direction for a contemporary or fantasy series
“True Detective”

Art direction for a period series, miniseries or a movie
“American Horror Story: Coven”

Art direction for a contemporary program
“Silicon Valley”

Art direction for variety, nonfiction, reality or reality-competition program
“Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey”

Casting for a comedy series
“Orange Is the New Black”

Casting for a miniseries, movie or a special
“The Normal Heart”

Casting for a drama series

“True Detective”

Choreography
Derek Hough (“Dancing With the Stars”)

Cinematography for a multi-camera series
“How I Met Your Mother”

Cinematography for a single-camera series
“Breaking Bad”

Cinematography for a miniseries or movie
“Sherlock: His Last Vow”

Cinematography for nonfiction programming
“Vice”

Cinematography for reality programming
“The Amazing Race”

Commercial
“Misunderstood” (Apple)

Costumes for a series
“Mad Men”

Costumes for a miniseries, movie or a special
“American Horror Story: Coven”

Single-camera picture editing for a drama series
“True Detective”

Single-camera picture editing for a comedy series
“Orange Is the New Black” (Michael S. Stern)

Multi-camera picture editing for a comedy series
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”

Single-camera picture editing for a miniseries or a movie
“Sherlock: His Last Vow”

Editing for short-form segments and variety specials
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”

Editing for nonfiction programming
“Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey”

Editing for reality programming
“The Amazing Race”

Hairstyling for a single-camera series
“Mad Men”

Hairstyling for a multi-camera series or special
“Key & Peele”

Hairstyling for a miniseries or a movie
“American Horror Story: Coven”

Lighting design/lighting direction for a variety series
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

Lighting design/lighting direction for a variety special
“Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show Starring Bruno Mars”

Main title design
“Silicon Valley”

Makeup for a single-camera series
“True Detective”

Makeup for a multi-camera series or special
“Key & Peele”

Makeup for a miniseries or a movie
“American Horror Story: Coven”

Prosthetic makeup for a series, miniseries, movie or a special
“The Normal Heart”

Music composition for a series
“Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey”

Music composition for a miniseries, movie or a special
“Fargo”

Music direction
“The Oscars”

Original music and lyrics
“Day Is Gone” from “Sons Of Anarchy”

Original main title theme music
“COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey”

Sound editing for a series
“The Walking Dead”

Sound editing for a miniseries, movie or a special
“Sherlock: His Last Vow”

Sound editing for nonfiction programming
“COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey”

Sound mixing for a comedy or drama series
“House of Cards”

Sound mixing for a miniseries or a movie
“Sherlock: His Last Vow”

Sound mixing for a comedy or drama series (half-hour) and animation
“Veep”

Sound mixing for a variety series or special
“The Oscars”

Sound mixing for nonfiction programming
“COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey”

Special and visual effects
“Game Of Thrones”

Special And visual effects in a supporting role
“The Walking Dead”

Stunt coordination for a comedy series or a variety program
“Community”

Stunt coordination for a drama series, miniseries or movie
“Game of Thrones”

Technical direction, camerawork, video control for a series
“Saturday Night Live”

Technical direction, camerawork, video control for a miniseries, movie or a special
“The Oscars”

 

*Disclaimer: I’ve not seen all of the nominees’ work, and therefore cannot fully value every nominee in a category. I am extremely limited with regards to reality shows – but, due to HBO and Netflix appearing in Scandinavia now I should have most drama and comedy series covered.

Can Marvel Save Ant-Man? – Should They?

I like to consider myself somewhat of a Marvel fanboy, and that’s definitely the case when talking about Tony Stark. Peter Quill and Thor himself. However, while I was looking very much forward to the Ant-Man movie, it has most certainly stalled – and we are now looking at some kind of trainwreck – unique to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Process so far. This post will dive into whether Feige & Co. can fix this mess – and in length, if that’s the best thing to do right now.

Let’s look at its problems. In late may, Ant-Man director and fan – Edgar Wright – was let go of the project. Thus leaving many fanboys, both of Marvel and Wright, shocked and angered. Do also note that Wright’s director of photography was leaving the project in the process. In the days that followed, numerous directors openly declined the opportunity to rewrite and/or direct the movie. In came Adam McKay (to rewrite) and Peyton Reed (to direct). This will be Reed’s first feature film project since 2008’s Yes Man, and that leaves some puzzled at the direction of Kevin Feige. Now, in late july, three actors have left the project (two due to being written out, and Patrick Wilson due to scheduling conflicts).

Now, worse things have happened in Hollywood – but not really in the MCU. If we were to solely focus on the story of the project, we also encounter problems – in my humble opinion. Do note some PROBABLE SPOILERS for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, to follow. I really attribute two things to the role of Ant-Man. One, there’s the horrible ‘scandal’ involving ‘striking his wife’ in the comic – and secondly (most importantly), the creation of SPOILERS…… Ultron. Now to be created by Tony Stark instead, in the Avengers sequel.

Where does this leave the future of Ant-Man? Well, they could ride out the storm – and still get a good film out of it. However, this has been a publicity failure for the film – and could potentially derail riskier projects from Marvel. Personally? I think it’d be wise to table the Ant-Man project until they reboot/remake the universe around 2025 (I guess, calmly). Ant-Man needs to be the creator of… Well, you’ve read it by now.

What do you think would be wise for Marvel? Should they simply push the date a year forward? Or should they concede defeat, and cancel the film entirely? Is it too late? Sound off in the comments.

Proposition for Kevin Feige – July 2014

Nova.

Hello and welcome,

As you may’ve noticed this post is for Kevin Feige. Now you may ask who he is. Kevin Feige pretty much is in control of the destiny of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phases, he is the one sitting next to Whedon and co., the man with the plan. I will be trying to come up with various ideas for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and these are the first propositions I present. Starting with the introduction of Sam Alexander, the new Nova, in Phase 4.

The Troubled Teen – Sam Alexander – Nova

Liam James – Nova?

Now, Sam Alexander isn’t the fan-favorite Nova – and I know this – but he is the one Marvel Comics is trying right now, and could easily make money for the Disney owned studios. The character of Sam Alexander would be the youngest leading man for Marvel, and has already been discussed somewhat. I believe there were rumours of Ty Simpkins’ character in Iron Man 3 actually being the introduction of a kid-Nova, like Sam Alexander. However, we’ve seen nothing of him since. Instead I propose two actors for the role of Nova, both being actors I’d label as ‘kids’  for a kid-character (which might actually just be tossed to the side, a la Radcliffe as Harry Potter). First and foremost, I’d like to propose Liam James (originally pictured above) of ‘The Way Way Back’ & ‘2012’ fame. James was born in 1996, and would therefore be at an acceptable age for Sam Alexander… And he looks the part too. I like the awkward portrayal he put forth in ‘The Way Way Back’, and I think his character from the aforementioend movie has some interesting features as a leading man, in a world where he (Nova) is not in charge. Now, I’ve also noted Kodi Smit-McPhee who is having a great year, starring in the new Planet of the Apes-film.


 

The Leading Men – Dr. Strange & Black Panther

With Marvel slowly, but surely, losing Downey Jr. as their main man – they’re going to need to replenish their cast of stars. The rumours of a Black Panther movie have been heard for a long time, and I suspect we’ll have it confirmed at San Diego Comic Con 2014. For the role of Black Panther, I propose Chadwick Boseman of ’42’ fame. I think this is a guy most people want, even ahead of a big name like Chiwetel Ejiofor, and that’s saying something. In any case, this is a character the MCU needs – we’re waiting, Feige.

As for Dr. Strange? Well, the movie’s confirmed – it’s got its most important ‘staffmembers’, in a director and Screenplay-writers. Now we need a leading man – someone to give us a new mature Marvel CU… Hopefully. Jared Leto’s been rumoured, and I’d like him – but I propose another guy, someone who’s a household name, of sorts. Joaquin Phoenix of ‘Walk the Line’ and ‘Her’ fame. Not only is this a household name, he also has the presence of a sorcerer supreme.

Hopefully Feige will listen… Who knows what we’ll see at Comic Con, and what about the Credit Sequences of Guardians of the Galaxy?

- I’m Jeffrey Rex

REVIEW: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Revitalized Franchise

WARNING: EXPECT FULL SPOILERS FOR RISE & DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES!! Warning over. In 2011 I quite enjoyed Ruoert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I must admit – and that was in spite of some mistakes that I had found in what I found to be a simple story. I liked that movie, I really did – but I must admit that it pales in comparison to its 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Gone is Wyatt, Franco and Pinto – in stays the amazing Andy Serkis. And though people might expect a huge role for Gary Oldman, I found his inclusion as a marketing ‘fraud’. His part is of importance, but in truth he does very little. Actually, that’s the main flaw with this film – the homo sapiens are under-written, some of them criminally so. With that having been said, I enjoyed the inclusion of Jason Clarke and Keri Russell, while I disliked the somewhat cliché role of Carver.

Having now mentioned parts I disliked somewhat, we can now move onto what works perfectly – masterfully – that’s right, the Apes. We expect a lot from Andy Serkis and his role as Caesar nowadays, and he delivers of course, what’s really surprising is that the remaining main apes are functioning perfectly as well. Everyone loves Karin Konoval’s Maurice, and you are bound to be sympathetic towards Blue Eyes and Cornelia, but the real star – and a surprising one at that – is Toby Kebbell’s Koba. Kebbell, the future Dr. Doom, is perfect – and though he portrays a villainous Ape – you end up completely mesmerized by his performance.

The performances are strong – though some characters are under-written; the story is incredibly rich (and instantly removes any doubt you may have had regarding the Apes-reboot); the CGI/Motion Capture work is perfect, as you’d expect – and, finally, I must admit that I was really happy with the directing performance of Matt Reeves. Reeves has some great tracking-shots, as well as some that will forever stay in the memories of all Apes-fanboys. A certain scene, involving a tank, is one of the best in the entire franchise – in my humble opinion.


 

Overall Score: 8.9 out of 10. As of July 17th, this is my favorite movie of 2014 – and that really isn’t enough praise. The best description of the weight of the movie, was made recently by Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter: “In the annals of sequels, Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars — it’s that much better. “