Category: MOVIES

WHY I THINK SUICIDE SQUAD WILL BE A BETTER MOVIE THAN BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN

Suicide-Squad-Movie-Cast-CostumesPeople way smarter than me have made great points as to the problems with BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN. To be fair, all we’ve seen so far are a couple of trailers and some leaked footage and that’s hardly enough information to use in judging an entire film. But the points seem solid. Here are some of the most popular theories, paraphrased by me.

  • BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN is too dark. As in, physically too dark. The massive color correction and dulled tone of the movie essentially cast the two heroes in exactly the same light. When both sides of battle look exactly the same, it’s hard to know what each side is bringing to the battle.
  • BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN is too dark. Patton Oswalt perfectly summed up the emotional darkness that seems to be all over the movie by saying, “In the Justice League, you have one brooding character – Batman. Everybody is supposed to be colorful and obvious.” So far, all the promotional material seems to show Wonder Woman and Aquaman both just brooding and sullen as the two main characters.
  • BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN is too soon. I’m expecting Affleck to do a good job on Batman. I was a doubter at first, but he’s a solid actor and now has a few films under his belt as a director, which I think can only help matters. But I don’t think you can recast a superhero this quickly. It doesn’t matter if we liked Christian Bale or not…what matters is that his Batman is still relatively solidified in our memories. You need time if you’re gonna’ reboot a character.

I’m hoping the BATMAN/SUPERMAN movie is phenomenal, but I’m expecting SUICIDE SQUAD to actually be the better movie.

  • The reboots are in smaller chunks. Yes, there’s a new Joker, but there’s no way Leto’s gonna’ get near the screen time that Heath Ledger did. The number of characters in SUICIDE SQUAD will prevent that. Same with any Batman cameos.
  • Lesser known brand means fewer expectations. We saw this in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – most of us walked in having no clue what to expect. And we were surprised. Same with the squad.
  • Harley Quinn. She’s the sleeper star of the DC Universe and far more nuanced that lots of other heroes and villains. If Margot Robbie nails this portrayal, we’ll have witnessed the first substantial female DC villain since Michele Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. (And that one wasn’t even that good.) Would love to see the filmmaker build the whole movie around Harley, but I think it’s going to be Joker chewing all the scenery. (Jack Nicholson, anyone?)
  • At this point, it looks more colorful. A purple Lamborghini, Batman’s in a lighter gray suit and there’s rumor of the original jester costume for Harley.

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Okay, time for the shameless ploy to get comments:
Which one are you looking forward to most?
In a perfect world (box office receipts aside) which movie will be the better viewing experience?

FILM THOUGHTS: KINGSMAN – THE SECRET SERVICE

Kingsman_The_Secret_Service_posterI loved Mark Millar’s The Secret Service comic. It was weird and funny and bold for your standard spy-novel comic. I didn’t get to see the film adaptation when it came out, but heard a few people (I trust) say something very similar about the movie.

Film critics who had also read the comic made sure, however, to warn comic fans that the story deviated significantly from the book. I was glad for that warning – it protected me from fanboy shock and allowed me to enjoy the movie on its own merits.

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There are two types of spy-movie fans: traditionalists and anarchists. Traditional audiences are why James Bond movies still succeed. Even the most ambitious of Bond films still holds to a few types. A lone, solitary government agent who lives a life of almost perfect discipline and who is adept in every social context foils the plans of a unsuspicious individual whose desire for power and/or revenge has made him/her into a villain. Even spy movies outside the Bond franchise hold to these cliches.

Anarchists want to blow the whole system apart. Give us a messy spy, give us a spy who’s not good at his job, give us a villain we can’t sympathize with…make it weird! This is quite hard, it seems, because so few spy movies with surreal tones have succeeded in the world at large.

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In the comic, Millar’s the anarchist. He’s doing things we don’t expect and telling the story he wants to tell. It makes for a colorful, constantly surprising, laughable spy story (which are in short supply!) But no movie could be that odd and still go for a mainstream popcorn movie crowd, right?

This one does.

I loved Kingsman because it found a way to thread the needle. It kept the weird, dark, fantasy-world of the book but pillared them with solid spy-movie expectations. Consider a few examples (no spoilers) of tradition meeting anarchy.

  • The stoic, socially acceptable, impeccably trained spy does amazing things. As done his unprepared, offensive, intuitive counterpart. Neither one of them carry the mission alone.
  • The villain has an odd agenda but also has a comical henchman.
  • The spy agency has been influential in world affairs for years but has done so under weird auspices (even for a spy movie.)

This duality comes up again and again in the movie, which is perfect for the movie fan who likes both types of espionage storytelling. As to whether the world at large likes a movie that works so hard at straddling the serious and the surreal, who knows? But it was just silly enough to get this spy movie fan excited.

*One last thought. I don’t like to be the old man about stuff like this – you don’t often hear me going, “that movie would’ve been perfect without all them CURSE WORDS!” But I gotta’ say the sex joke that bookended the final action sequence was pretty lazy. Crude for sure, but also lazy. In writing, shouldn’t even our jokes propel the narrative? Do we really think Eggsy wouldn’t have gone running into battle without that joke setup?

RECOMMENDED VIEWING

The-Armstrong_Lie_1What happens when a filmmaker realizes his film is predicated on a lie?

That’s the premise for the fascinating documentary about one of the strangest, unsettling stories in recent sports history.

In 2009, Alex Gibney, started shooting a film about Lance Armstrong’s comeback after being retired for four years. After Armstrong came clean about doping, Gibney’s film took on a whole new tone. Instead of celebrating an athlete’s will and integrity, the documentary focuses on the long, meticulous conspiracies maintained to keep the cyclist’s cheating hidden from the world.

Naturally, the film provides an in-depth look at professional cycling, but the film is centered around Lance Armstrong’s obsession for winning at all costs. Not many of us can identify with propping up a global brand and celebrity image, but we can learn something about the danger of cutting corners to succeed.

Armstrong did work harder than everybody else. And he also cheated. The documentary is a long look at those two realities crashing into each other over and over and over again.

RATING: A+

Anybody else seen this?