Wolverine, the MCU, and What Comic Book Movies Have Become

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is dog shit.  I’ve been working intermittently on a series of posts about it for about a year at this point, but I keep returning to the same fundamental problem.  There’s nothing there.  Almost every movie is the same movie, and every one of them sucks.

But how did we get here?  Is the MCU the logical continuation of the general trends in the comic book movie genre?  Do they reflect the prevailing interests and entertainment needs of society at large, do they cater to the lowest common denominator?  If they do, what’s changed, if anything? Continue reading “Wolverine, the MCU, and What Comic Book Movies Have Become”

A Manly Film About Adolescent Trash – Logan (James Mangold, 2017)

In a time when the movie industry seems to stay afloat according to two extremes and very little middle ground, it’d be nice if a movie were to come along—like the ones from the old times—that had a little something for everyone in it.  Logan is not this movie.  Yet Logan doesn’t completely exist at either end of Hollywood’s extremes, either. Continue reading “A Manly Film About Adolescent Trash – Logan (James Mangold, 2017)”

Emasculation of Entertainment: In the Heart of the Sea (Ron Howard, 2015)

With the propping up of the movie industry on massively over-funded summer blockbuster films, Hollywood pushes itself further into the brink of collapse.  Disney’s string of hugely successful action movies, including the MCU and Star Wars, in addition to their animated endeavors, seem to be setting the tone for an industry lacking in anything resembling a creative drive.  What happened to that drive?  Did Hollywood lose its balls sometime in the 1980s?  Is the development of the PG-13 rating to blame?  Is the misplaced hope that huge movies will reap huger successes misdirecting studios to invest too heavily in tent pole franchises instead of diversifying and increasing their output with smaller but more numerous films?  I can’t claim to answer any of these questions.  All I can say is that Hollywood has no teeth left at all, and Ron Howard’s 2015 castrated somnambulant of a film In the Heart of the Sea really drives that home. Continue reading “Emasculation of Entertainment: In the Heart of the Sea (Ron Howard, 2015)”

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy: The Problem With Dramatic Comic Book Movies

We all know Batman.  We all know Chris Nolan.  And we’ve all seen his Dark Knight trilogy.  It kicked off in 2005 with Batman Begins, a fresh reboot of the popular character after he had languished for eight years in the great silence left by the utterly baffling 1997 production from Joel Schumacher, Batman and RobinBegins offered viewers a new, refreshing, more realistic take on the Batman origin story, featuring characters more grounded in a conceivable and relatable reality, an emphasis on cutting-edge technology, and a steady directorial hand in drama.  Drawing from the grittier, noir-inspired Year One and Long Halloween, it functioned as an ode to the modern world of its time, tackling issues of vigilantism, corruption, and self-deception, in addition to being an thrilling romp through the familiar tale of Batman’s canonical formation.

But therein lies the rub.  Exactly how serious is the trilogy?  Does its content justify its tone, or vice-versa?  How much should the audience actually suspend its disbelief when watching it? Continue reading “Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy: The Problem With Dramatic Comic Book Movies”

Mansplaining Twilight in an Age of Feminism

A modern social internet commentator should have little fear today of being accused of misogyny or bigotry, or almost any other Lefty lingo used to silence the opposition.  They have abused the words to such an extent that sitting down in a subway car with your legs spread has become misogynist, that believing that a family has a tangible definition that relies on the immutable roles of a father, a mother, and children is bigoted, and that worrying about how rape investigations have flipped the rule of law on its head on college campuses is  tantamount to rape-apologeticism.  To any normal person, things like this paint feminists in such a terrible light that it’s clear that their shrill, attention-seeking yammering is about as consequential as the obnoxious yipping of your neighbor’s small, neurotic dog.  It’s grating and annoying, but its only power comes from the fact that other people sympathize with it more than they do with you.

So it is with this in mind that I begin my general review of the Twilight films. Continue reading “Mansplaining Twilight in an Age of Feminism”

The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016)

If there is one word to describe Refn’s films, that word would probably be a synonym for “indulgence.”  From his early crime-grit violent escapades of Pusher and Bleeder, to the biopic Bronson and his later period work, each film carries in it a love for excess.  This excess isn’t even of gore or violence—these are means to his ends—this excess is of fundamental sensations.  Refn seeks to build the world that he lives in around the viewers and keep them there until long after they’ve left the movie theatre and all the colors, aesthetics, driving synthesized scores, and landscapes have faded from recent memory. Continue reading “The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016)”

Yet Another Star Wars VII: The Force Wakes Up Review

Opening Remarks

Star Wars doesn’t suck. Its characters have charm, motivation, substance; its plot is full of twists and turns, revelations and mystery; it takes you to varied locations, amazes you with great special effects, and keeps you entertained with clashes full of emotional and narratological weight. Sure, there were some missteps along the way: arguably, only the first two movies could really be described as being great; Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace having to settle for ‘mismanaged,’ and ‘disappointing’, respectively, Revenge of the Sith requiring a descriptor halfway between ‘boring’ and ‘poorly executed’; and the less said about Attack of the Clones, the better. But even amid in the grudgingly plodding tempo of Episode II, even amid the disorientingly over-the-top spectacle of Episode III’s climax, even amid the anarcho-primitive teddy bears and cringe-inducing exposition on mystical cellular biology, there was a seed of something, a grain thirsty for whatever Lucas had in these films that kept its audiences coming back for more.

I thought I’d known what that seed was. Apparently, based on the reactions I’ve found in my discussions with friends, colleagues, and anonymous internet denizens, I was wrong. Continue reading “Yet Another Star Wars VII: The Force Wakes Up Review”

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