Comic Con Trailer Tracker 2018!

I am time-zones away from what I like to call the biggest nerd fest of the year: San Diego Comic Con. This is the period where I get major announcements for my favorite and anticipated films and television shows for the next 12 months, and I like to take this time to watch all of the trailers and bring them here to you for you, my faithful readers to enjoy. So, let’s take a look at what Comic Con has to offer us, shall we?

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Directed by: David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Allison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Turner, Zoë Kravitz and Johnny Depp

In theaters on November 16, 2018

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Directed by: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler, Bradley Whitford, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds, Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe

In theaters on May 31, 2019

Shazam!

Directed by: David F. Sandberg

Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou, Jack Dylan Grazer, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Faithe Herman and Natalia Safran

In theaters on April 5, 2019

Aquaman

Directed by: James Wan

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Temeura Morrison and Djimon Hounsou

In theaters on December 21, 2018

If there are any new developments, I will be sure to put them up as soon as I get them.

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James Gunn will not be directing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

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Image By Mingle Media TV, via Wikimedia Commons

Yes, you read that headline correctly! In a shocking move, Gunn has reportedly been fired from the MCU after years-old tweets from the Guardians of the Galaxy director, in which he joked about pedophilia and sexual assault, were collected and released to the public. Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn made the move official in a statement:

The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him

I’m not even sure what to say at this point because I’m completely stunned by this turn of events. The impact that Gunn brought to the Guardians of the Galaxy features were a principal reason why the films went on to such critical and financial success for Marvel and Disney. In fact, he was hard at work for the script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was set for production later this year in order to meet its 2020 proposed release date. Now, plans for the feature are on hold as Marvel and Disney need new blood to finish the standalone series following the space traveling band of outlaws.

I don’t blame Disney for letting Gunn go in light of these recent developments. No one should ever have the audacity to joke about sexual assault or child molestation, let alone be dumb enough to put them on the internet where everyone can see and find them. Also, the manner in which the tweets were found were underhanded, if I had a word to use for it. There is plenty of blame and shame to go around in regards to this situation, if you ask me.

Gunn has issued an apology in response to his dismissal.

My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocativeI have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time. Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.

I will keep track of who Marvel and Disney will eye to close out the Guardians of the Galaxy arc for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Review: Sorry to Bother You

Stop me if you’ve heard this before but if a certain film has been generating positive hype for some time, I make it a mission to see it for myself. Remember the name Boots Riley for his debut as a writer and director is a trip that will leave you flabbergasted by the end credits. This is a dream-like picture of telemarketing, unionizing, evocative artistry, embellished and ritzy slave-labor, white-voices and a disturbing new definition of the term “workhorse” in the ghastly dimension of Sorry to Bother You.

The film’s protagonist is Cassius Greene, a survivor in this alternate universe trying to make ends meet when he lands a job in the fast-paced and exciting field of telemarketing. When a co-worker offers him a tip to really land some sales, the golden elevator doors open for our down-on-his-luck hero to an opportunity that will really change his worldview. I’d go into detail further, but I don’t want to spoil the film and I don’t think you’d believe me if I went into detail.

If I had to come up with one word to describe this picture, it would be “unforgettable.” Boots Riley has an imagination so vivid, delirious and freaky, it does bother you and doesn’t apologize for doing so and I believe this picture revels in being completely unapologetic and entertaining.

What really impressed me about this picture is not only Riley’s vision and the attention to detail that went into the execution of this film but how this was written with so many cultural references, and commentary that connects with modern day society. Riley is not only imaginative but his intelligence was on full display with this film and I couldn’t help being captive to this film. There were times when I thought that this movie just ran wild and lost its direction but to my surprise it was just tied together in a way that came full-circle and I was all the more impressed with what this picture turned out to be.

The cast was great! Lakeith Stanfield was awesome in the lead role of Cassius Green, Tessa Thompson continues her rise to superstardom as the leading lady and Cassius’ love-interest Detroit, Jermaine Fowler, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Danny Glover, Kate Berlant, Omari Hardwick, Michael X. Sommers, Robert Longstreet, Arnie Hammer and the voices of David Cross, Patton Oswalt and Lily James all added to the mosaic madness of this picture.

Sorry to Bother You is low-budget but it has bang to its buck for the technical acumen of this film is stupendous! Doug Emmett’s cinematography is awesome, Terel Gibson’s editing is probably the best I’ve seen this year, Deidra Elizabeth Govan’s costume design and the work that the costume and wardrobe department is contributed is striking and beautiful, Stephen Dudro’s art direction was eye-candy, the production design by Jason Kisvarday is impeccable, the set decoration by Kelsi Ephraim is superb, the music, the visual effects and the animation was revelatory! This was a well-assembled motion picture.

Going into Sorry to Bother You, I knew nothing, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know who the players behind this were but coming out, I felt that I saw a spectacle that would stay with me for long-time. Sorry to Bother You definitely lived up to the acclaim it has received and I would encourage you to see it if you believe you have a strong enough constitution!

Standalone Joker Movie Finds Its Star: Joaquin Phoenix

At this point, I’m not sure what the heck Warner Bros. is doing with their DC Comics Properties! If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is best described as a well-oiled machine that’s firing on all cylinders, the DC Universe should be described as a physician that can’t tell if a man is dead or alive. Anyway, remember that Joker movie that’s happening outside of the current DC Universe? It is apparently moving forward with a fixed production plan, under the direction of Todd Phillips and now stars Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix!

The film is on track to begin production in two months time, has a $55 million budget and is aiming for a 2019 release date. It seems that the vision Warner Bros. has for this film is unique compared to other DC properties.

Todd Phillips is directing the film and co-wrote the script, which the studio describes as being an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.” Scott Silver co-wrote the script.

And the stand-alone is meant to be darker and more experimental in tone and content (at least as experimental as a studio can be with established brands such as DC), which is described as being akin to a crime drama.

This isn’t the first time Phoenix has been courted to star in a comic book picture. At one time he was the frontrunner to star as Doctor Strange but Phoenix turned the role down due to a reported aversion to being contractually obligated to starring in sequels. Phoenix has an outstanding body of work as a performer landing multiple Academy Award nominations for the films Walk the Line, The Master and Gladiator and his other notable credits include Her, Hotel Rwanda and Inherent Vice. I believe he’ll bring the proper madness to the makeup of the Clown Prince of Crime but I just don’t see a purpose as to why the studio is going forward with this project; especially since the DC Universe is seeking to move forward with another standalone Joker movie with Jared Leto reprising his character from Suicide Squad.

The logic behind Warner Bros. moves at this point? As logical as the character who has been the antithesis of Batman’s character since 1940. Let’s see what happens shall we?

Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Essentially, the concept for Ant-Man and the Wasp was derived from the first Ant-Man feature.

In the last film, Scott Lang had to shrink down to microscopic size and unintentionally entered the Quantum Realm. His mentor, and the original Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym originally theorized that there was no coming back from the Quantum Realm but that theory was shattered when Scott returned to full-size.

The last person to shrink between the molecules before Scott, was Janet Van Dyne, Hank Pym’s wife, Hope’s mother and the original Wasp and she was lost to the Quantum Realm and never returned but if Scott could come back, perhaps she could be saved.

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Image by Marvel Studios

The events of this film pick up two years after Civil War and perhaps days or weeks prior to the events of Infinity War. Ant-Man and the Wasp essentially answers the question of where Scott was while Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were clashing with the Mad Titan and what he was up to.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is essentially a race against time rescue flick. If Hank, Hope and Scott are to enter the Quantum Realm to rescue Janet, they have to evade the FBI, the ruthless Sonny Burch and a mysterious adversary with indirect ties to Hank’s past called The Ghost before the opportunity to save her expires.

This film isn’t the best work under Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it is enough to be likable. Payton Reed crawls the fine line between superhero feature and comedy well enough but the plot is crammed with so many subplots and characters, it’s hard to keep track of what is going on and the feel of the film shifts so uncomfortably between the tones of serious and funny.

I was also disappointed that this film walked away from the appealing heist film elements of the first film but I can see why because Reed wanted to allow Evangeline Lily’s character to flourish with a plot that is more connected to her character than Paul Rudd’s.

The writing team of Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari and star Paul Rudd do a good job at taking from previous features to shape this story while incorporating new and creative ideas into the texture of the film but I honestly feel that the film is more funny than anything. Outside of the comedy, I believe this film’s greatest strength is its ability to play to the strengths of its stars.

Paul Rudd is well into his comfort zone as Ant-Man and Evangeline Lily is finally allowed to grow into the badass audiences saw glimpses of in the first Ant-Man and she shines as the Wasp. Other strong performers include Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie and Michael Peña as Luis. Hannah John-Kamen isn’t the best villain Marvel has produced but she doesn’t do a bad job. The rest of the cast including Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Randall Park, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer and Michelle Pfieffer are either completely underutilized as characters or completely awkward to watch.

The visual effects are sharp, Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is good, Dan Lebental and Craig Wood’s editing is good, Christophe Beck’s music is rather generic compared to other Marvel scores, Shepherd Frankel’s production design is rather safe, the art direction is pretty solid, Gene Serdena and Christopher J. Wood’s set decoration is impressive here and there, and Louise Frogley’s costume design is good when you really get down to it.

I liked the first Ant-Man well enough and I can say that I liked Ant-Man and the Wasp well enough as well but when you compare it to the slate of films in the Phase Three lineup of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it doesn’t exactly measure up to the high caliber of work Marvel Studios has produced in the past.

Movie of the Week: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Has anyone else recovered from Infinity War? No? Me neither. If anything, this week’s feature film will take me and millions back to the blissful time before the….trauma. This Independence Day weekend we roll on with Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we check in on what happened to Scott Lang after most of the Avengers went to a supermax after Civil War. An entity from the Quantum Realm has escaped to Earth and this Ghost plans to unleash chaos unless she is stopped. Ant-Man and the Wasp appear to be the world’s only hope.

Director: Payton Reed

Written by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari and Paul Rudd

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Douglas, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Hannah John-Kamen, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Walton Goggins, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Laurence Fishburne and Michelle Pfeiffer.

What am I expecting to see?: Right now, Phase Three of the MCU has been damn near perfect and I fully expect Ant-Man and the Wasp to carry on the streak of excellence. I remember being satisfied with the first Ant-Man and I think that with Payton Reed coming back, more settled in his role as director compared to the first film, Ant-Man and the Wasp seems destined to be more entertaining than the first one. Fireworks and superheroes this week? What more could a man want in his Fourth of July weekend!

Review: Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Three years ago, audiences were pulled into the battle the United States is facing at the border when an idealistic FBI agent was recruited to a very proactive task force led by a CIA spook named Matt Graver. Graver’s objective: anarchy against the Mexican drug cartels with a man named Alejandro acting as his tip of the spear.

Now, the battle at the border intensifies as suspected Middle Eastern terrorists are being escorted over the border to significantly harm the U.S. and the joint chiefs look to Graver’s methods to determine a viable solution. Graver and Alejandro return to create chaos for the major Mexican drug lords in Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

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Image by Lionsgate and Black Label Media

Of course I ventured to see this movie as I held the original Sicario in such high esteem in 2015. What we get in Day of the Soldado is another thing entirely as Stefano Sollima steps in to direct Taylor Sheridan’s follow-up.

Here we see Josh Brolin and Benecio Del Toro’s characters getting down and dirty with the cartels and thrust into unfamiliar situations compared to what we’ve seen in the first picture. We see Del Toro’s Alejandro’s backstory and protective nature come to the forefront as he takes a guardian role to Isabella Moner’s character and Brolin’s Graver put in a situation where his way of getting the job done is turned against him and he’s put in a situation he does not want to be in.

I’ve been wrestling with what I take away from Sicario: Day of the Soldado and I’ve come to the conclusion that the best word that I can use to describe it is: synthetic.

This movie goes to tremendous lengths to thrust audiences back into the explosive and relentless tension that is so staple to the first films success but the step-down in overall quality compared to the first feature is apparent.

Sollima does not have the expert vision and storytelling prowess that Denis Villenueve possess. Many of the major players from Sicario were missed, such as Emily Blunt, Roger Deakins, the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Joe Walker and Patrice Vermette and while the cast and crew tried to elevate Sheridan’s plot to the heights of the first Sicario, it just wasn’t good enough in my eyes.

In fact, I had a hard time trying to find the point of why Sheridan wanted to come back and build upon an already epic story. I could not exactly wrap my head around the plot and the movie left itself unresolved so that it could all be told in a potentially third installment; Sheridan’s script was a little lost on me, I must admit.

It was interesting to see new twists on Brolin and Del Toro’s characters, Isabella Moner was good, Catherine Keener was decent, Elijah Rodriguez, Matthew Modine, Shea Wigham, Jeffery Donovan, Howard Ferguson Jr., Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Bruno Bachir, Jacqueline Torres; the cast was respectable as a whole.

Technically, this film lacked the gravitas and the power to live up to the first film’s standards. Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography is average, Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music is okay, Matthew Newman’s editing was clunky, Kevin Kavanaugh’s production design was stale, Marisa Frantz and Carlos Jacques’s art direction was good, Meg Everist and Daniela Rojas’ set decoration was respectable and Deborah Lynn Scott’s costumes were average.

I wanted to like Sicario: Day of the Soldado, but I felt like it was remarkably wasteful. Sicario, like Pacific Rim and Now You See Me, did not need a sequel, but got one and it pales in comparison to the original.