The San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone and what a blast it was! But I wouldn’t know that would I because I wasn’t there. Trying to get to SDCC is like winning the lottery, if you win the golden ticket you don’t get Wonka’s factory, you do get bragging rights to your friends for years to come. But keep in mind nobody likes a smart ass.
I was able to enjoy what SDCC had to offer from the comforts of my own home thanks to the companies, the media and the fans who were there. What truly interested me was the plethora of trailers made available to the con-goers and to the world in general. I could’ve wrote a book on what was seen but to avoid annoying the readers I have whittled it down to a handful of trailers, feature films only. Although The Walking Dead and Con Man looked really good, throwing them into the mix would’ve muddied the article. And Fantastic Four is not here because I couldn’t say enough good things about it. I’ve been through two previous incarnations of the FF and this latest outing appears to follow the same fate as its predecessors.
If you enjoy or despise my viewpoints, feel free to comment.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
When: August 14, 2015
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer(s): Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram (screenplay), Jeff Kleeman David C. Wilson, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram (story), Sam Rolfe (based on the television series by)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris
I recall watching only a single episode of the television series this film is based on of which starred Robert Vaughan, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll. I was better acquainted with the original films (which had a cameo by James Doohan). And while a viewing of this series is not on the cards, a viewing of this film is. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer appear to be the perfect pair to play off each other as spys during the cold war. Hammer has been unfairly treated over the failure of one of his previous roles, as The Lone Ranger (watch the film, it has its merits) but here it appears he may get vindication for portraying Russian Illya Kuryakin. Cavill appears at ease in his role as Napoleon Solo, so comfortable is he that it wouldn’t surprise me if we see him as a candidate for the James Bond role in the near future. Alicia Vikander as Gaby Teller could be a role to satisfy those fans who could be looking for The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. mixed in. Perhaps if there is enough success to warrant a sequel April Dancer (originally played by Stefanie Powers) could make her return.
I have high hopes for this film, with Guy Ritchie in the director’s chair he’s a man who can make action films with substance. Previous examples of his work that I highly recommend are Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. The cinematography by John Mathieson and crew looks beautiful. Mathieson’s been attached to some well-known productions like Gladiator, X-Men: First Class, and the upcoming Pan starring Hugh Jackman. Mathieson is continuing to work with Ritchie on his latest project Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur. When it comes to the look and feel of the film Ritchie and his crew have worked hard to give movie-goers as an authentic an atmosphere as possible. The setting of 1960’s cold war can be seen in not just the clothing but also the cars, the surrounding buildings and the everyday gadgets used by the agents themselves. There is a humourus scene between Solo and Kuraykin as Solo cuts a fence with wire cutters sharpened by a CO2 laser only to see Kuraykin trump him by using a handheld CO2 laser. It just goes to show that anything the Americans can do the Russians will try to do better.
Stars Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
When: December 18, 2015
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer(s): J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay), George Lucas (characters)
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Lupita Nyong’o, Warwick Davis, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg
If George Lucas is to be criticized for the last trilogy of Star Wars films, he must be also be equally as praised. Sure Stars Wars episodes IV, V and VI brought us such irksome factors as the Force being explained scientifically, awkward love scenes between Padame and Anakin and Imperial droids with about as much intelligence as a walking toaster, but on the good side Lucas gave us so much more. Many new and interesting characters were created for the Star Wars canon that it reinvigorated the licence for a whole new generation of fans. Without these characters, successful projects like Star Wars: Clone Wars couldn’t have existed. Although Lucas’ Star Wars was inspired by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 film, The Hidden Fortress (original title Kakushi-toride no san-akunin), Lucas had made the universe all his own with teams of successfull writers, SFX artists and the right actors bringing his creations to life. Lucas is the father of Star Wars and no matter who owns the licence (currently Disney) we must always remember and be grateful to him for this.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we come full circle back to the original players of the first three films, Mark Hammil, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels and David Prowse. With a slew of new characters being introduced, this film will be a passing of the torch to the next generation of actors. This trailer shown at the San Diego Comic Con has assured people young and old that this latest film under J.J. Abrams will continue with real sets, real location shots with real hand-made special effects and will not focus on computer animation as many films tend to do. I was already excited for Star Wars’ return but this trailer, as Kevin Smith so aptly felt, has brought out my inner child. It was that child of a time long, long ago in a theatre far, far away who enjoyed Lucas’ simple story of hope against impossible odds and the faith in a force that could help bring balance to a galaxy in chaos. May the Force be with you always.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
When: March 25, 2016
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer(s): Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer (writers), Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster (Superman created by), Bob Kane (Batman created by)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne
The first trailer was a jumbled mess that only alienated me and made me feel that this Batman Vs. Superman is going to be a film I may regret supporting. The San Diego Comic Con trailer however has removed the fog surrounding it. Points like how could Batman go against Superman are touched upon when what is believed to be Superman is bringing down a Wayne Financial tower. The destruction that follows is uncomfortably close to when the twin towers came down on 9/11 in New York City. As citizens scatter to avoid the falling debris, like any hero, Bruce Wayne is the only one running towards the danger. It takes a great loss of life caused by the one who wields such godly powers to bring the Dark Knight out of retirement and into a battle. But donning the cape and cowl once again just won’t do, it may put fear into the hearts of the underworld but against the Man of Steel it does little. Storywise Batman’s new powered suit makes more sense. If strength disappears with age than Wayne as Batman will need it and not just against Superman. But what of those glowing green eyes from his cowl? Is it military grade night vision or could that glow have something to do with kryptonite. It would give Batman the edge he needs against his newest foe.
But why did Batman retire in the first place? Could it have been the death of Robin? In one scene we are shown a vandalized Robin costume set in a display case. The graffiti across the front of the costume reads “Hahaha joke’s on you Batman.” Was Robin killed by The Joker and if so will it be shown in next year’s Suicide Squad since Affleck will be making an appearance as Batman. Suicide Squad takes place before the events of Batman V. Superman and it would only make sense if the events unfolded in that film. But why then would we see Suicide Squad after Batman V. Superman? It is like putting the cart before the horse. I hope the people in power have a good enough reason for it. People are already speculating that Jason Todd is the Robin who will meet his demise, that would be in keeping with the comics but I’m wondering if things may have been changed in order keep viewers on their toes. My first choice if not Todd may get me roasted publicly. For now I’ll keep it to myself until there is more proof.
Henry Cavill will dominate in his role as Superman as he did in the prequel Man of Steel. He is the person who is Superman just as Christopher Reeve before him and George Reeves (interestingly portrayed in a film by Ben Affleck) was before Christopher. Gal Gadot looked every bit an Amazonian in her role as Wonder Woman. She’s a much darker raw version then previous counterparts. I love the sword and shield she wields. It’s weapons Amazonian women are trained in from a very young age. She is very different from the Justice League animated Wonder Woman who mostly slugged it out with the toughest of super criminals, but it is that display of physical power I will miss so much when the movie opens. Gadot may look good but I still yearn Adrianne Palicki in the role. If you’ve never seen the unfinished Wonder Woman pilot, I highly catching it on YouTube sometime. Palicki as Wonder Woman managed to embody what was best about the character, displaying her strengths both physical and intellectual while allowing the audience to still see her vulnerable side. And while we are still on the subject of comic character portrayals, I’m still unconvinced of Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Eisenberg’s performance in the trailer isn’t enough to win me over. Perhaps there is more to his role than the trailer is revealing. For now Kevin Spacey is still my pick for Supes’ arch enemy (sorry Gene Hackman) but I can understand the studios wanting to target a younger demographic. Eisenberg is a star and a rising one at that. I hope that the casting choice for Eisenberg wasn’t the wrong one.
As an actor Ben Affleck has the distinction of being the oldest person to officially wear the Batman costume in a feature film. Not even by comparing Affleck’s age to Robert Lowery and Lewis Wilson of the 1943 and 1949 film serials takes away that distinction. As Batman Affleck looks good in the role. You can tell that Affleck may have been on a training program to prepare himself physically as the Dark Knight. For those who are still unconvinced he will make for a good Bruce Wayne/Batman and for those who even today still partly (or fully) blame him for sending Marvel’s Daredevil downstairs to the television basement, consider this; most actors like a fine wine get better with age. Ben Affleck has not only grown wiser to the world he lives in, he has improved his acting skills and garnered praise in the films Argo and Gone Girl. Affleck has also worked behind the camera as an award-winning director and with this added knowledge Affleck is in a much better position to know what audiences will expect of him and how to use his acting skills to convey his character’s every movement and every emotion onto the screen. In short, Affleck may be ready to put Daredevil behind him by convincing fandom that he is Batman.
Director: David Ayer
Writer(s): David Ayer (screenplay), John Ostrander (modern comic book creation), Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru (silver age comic book creation)
Starring: Will Smith, Carla Delevinge, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Adam Beach, Jay Hernandez, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnamen, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck
I’m worried about this film for two reasons, one is people may not give the trailer the chance it deserves. Sure it seemed lacklustre for lack of a better word but after multiple viewings I came to appreciate its subtleties. Part of me now cheers this film and the cast that’s involved, a few of them are playing lesser known characters (Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang). Jared Leto himself looks more street as the Joker and though some may say he is portraying Heath Ledger playing the Joker, I ask you to look again. As an actor it is harder to reinvent the Joker from the inside than the outside but Leto (in this short appearance) appears to have done it. And if true, Leto will join Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger as professionals who have made the Joker their own. I highly doubt he will play a major role in this film and that will be disheartening but does this mean Leto is destined for a Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad sequel? The Joker has never had his own feature film and perhaps he should. He could be aided by the latest Harley Quinn played by Margot Robbie. With the appearance of Ben Affleck as Batman, talk of the death of Robin tie in to Batman V. Superman has fans buzzing.
But part of me is still hesitant about the film because of the casting of Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot. Smith is Hollywood leading man material and yet he’s here in what should be an ensemble cast film. I say ensemble because that is what X-Men was under Bryan Singer but by the time of Singer’s departure from the franchise the third installment X-Men: The Last Stand had become the Storm and Wolverine movie. Many of the characters had their lines reduced or were pushed aside in favour of spotlighting these two. The original X-Men films came to a close on a low note. And it is here I fear the same will happen with Suicide Squad. Because of Will Smith’s status I feel they may give him most of the spotlight which could ruin the film. The film may become Suicide Squad starring Will Smith and not starring Margot Robbie, Adam Beach, et al. And the snippets I have seen of Smith as Deadshot, it appears he is performing his usual leading man role with nothing to make Floyd Lawton/Deadshot stand out. Don’t come to the theatre prepared for Smith to turn out a role similar to the one he gave in Ali because you may not get it.