J.J. Abrams returns to a galaxy far, far away to direct Star Wars Episode IX!

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Image By Montclair Film Festival (NEG_6930), via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the news of Colin Trevorrow exiting as director of Star Wars Episode IX threw the Force out of balance, citing major creative differences and tension between the filmmaker and studios. Since Trevorrow’s departure, Lucasfilm and Disney have searched to find a suitable replacement filmmaker to finish out the trilogy sparked by the events of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and speaking of The Force Awakens, a familiar face will finish what he started. J.J. Abrams will direct Episode IX and co-write the screenplay with Oscar winner Chris Terrio.

“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.

The decision to return to Abrams to close out this new trilogy seems safe and logical considering Abrams expressed an interest in directing another Star Wars film after enjoying remarkable success with The Force Awakens. Again, I express disappointment that we may not see a Star Wars film directed by a person of color and/or a woman but it doesn’t change the fact that The Force Awakens was a good picture and I think Episode IX is in good hands. Terrio’s credits include Argo and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Star Wars Episode IX now has a new release date.

 

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Suicide Squad Sequel in the hands of Gavin O’Connor

Last year, DC Comics and Warner Bros. did not have a good year. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad made their way into theaters and though both films enjoyed significant financial success, both film were thoroughly skewered by critics, myself included. To be honest, I thought Suicide Squad was better than Batman v. Superman, but that’s like saying 0>-2; Suicide Squad was more enjoyable but it was mess through and through but Warner Bros. wants to give the team of villains commissioned to do black-ops for the government another shot with a sequel and I think that the sequel is in good hands with Gavin O’Connor.

The movie is a top priority at Warner Bros. and looks to be one of the two DC properties (the other being New Line’s “Shazam!”) to begin production next year. Given the ensemble’s busy schedule, the shoot wasn’t expected to start until fall of 2018. So while there’s still time, the studio is eager to get someone on board to pen a script.

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Image by Matt Baron/Rex/Shutterstock

I remember O’Connor’s name very well. In 2011, O’Connor co-wrote and directed the drama Warrior starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte, who gave an Oscar-nominated supporting performance, and the film was very well-done. Over the past few years, O’Connor has directed hit-or-miss films such as The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons, and Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton. Hearing that O’Connor’s name associated with this production certainly fills me with confidence based on how I enjoyed Warrior.

Suicide Squad 2 is set to bring back Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Joel Kinnaman and aiming for release in 2019.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment

Review: Wonder Woman

I’ve had a good reason to be hard on the efforts of the DC Extended Universe over the past few years; especially last year considering my thoughts on their previous two pictures: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. This year, the producers of the DC Extended Universe look to turn the page on last year and seek to do so with their first superhero adventure starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Comics

The film opens with Gadot as Diana Prince who receives a parcel from a new friend that compels her to reminisce on her earlier years. From her upbringing on the island of Themiscyra, home to the Amazons, where she was raised by her mother Queen Hippolyta, trained by her aunt Antiope, and encountered a man named Steve Trevor, who would guide her to the world of man on a journey that would change her life and the world at large forever.

To reiterate: I’ve been hard on the DC Extended Universe and I had good reason to be so. Their previous films have compelled me to set the bar low on their films going forward and I had to go into Wonder Woman with a low set of expectations. That being said, I must be blunt: THIS. MOVIE. IS. GOOD!

I must give credit where credit is due. Producers Geoff Johns, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg crafted a solid origin story with coming-of-age themes that culminated in a very engaging, charming and the most entertaining DC movie to come out in years! I was satisfied with how they handled this movie; it wasn’t perfect but this was a great effort that really paid off!

I thought that the strength of this movie lied solely with Gadot’s performance meshed with Heinberg’s script and Jenkins’ execution. Wonder Woman is basically looking at the outside world with the perspective of childlike innocence, guided by a man who exposes her to the good and bad that a world at war has to offer someone who doesn’t exactly need to help.

If Gadot’s introduction in Batman v. Superman didn’t sell you on her ability to embody this iconic character, than this movie will most assuredly convince you! It was a treat watching her carry this movie and her on-screen chemistry with Chris Pine is splendid! Whether Diana is trying ice cream for the first time or feels concern or sympathy for the wounded soldiers on No Man’s Land, she just embodies the strength, compassion and innocence in this iconic character and she is relatable to audiences.

While I enjoyed watching this film, I only wish that the film could have done more with the supporting characters such as Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremmer, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Danny Huston and David Thewlis. I also hoped that the film would take more time to explore and examine Themiscyra, the Amazons and their cultures.

The cinematography of Matthew Jensen was solid, Rupert Gregson-Williams’ music was satisfactory, Martin Walsh’s editing was solid, the production design of Aline Bonetto was good, Lindy Hemming’s costumes were very good, the visual effects were to my liking and technically Wonder Woman was very well put-together to give this character the strength to stand on her own.

Wonder Woman clearly raised the bar for films coming from the DC Extended Universe because what separates this movie from the films that came before it: fun! This movie allowed itself to have its own natural fun and that allowed the audience to have fun watching it; this is leaps and bounds better than any DC film that came before it!

A New Age of Justice Is About To Begin!

The death of the last son of Krypton, shown in the final few moments of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, sent shockwaves throughout the world and beyond. The actions of Lex Luthor invited someone from beyond the stars to Earth and this being is not of peace, apparently. Bruce Wayne with the assistance of Diana Prince must scour the world to recruit warriors powerful enough to repel this invasive menace and assure the world that the sacrifice of Superman was not in vain. Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg are the Justice League.

Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds , Jesse Eisenberg, Willem Dafoe, Amber Heard, Kiersey Clemmons, Connie Nielsen and Henry Cavill. Written by Chris Terrio and directed by Zack Snyder, Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

Warner Bros. Wants to do Superman Justice With Sequel

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment

The DC Cinematic Universe is not off to an ideal start. In fact, 2016 should be a year that DC and Warner Bros. would like to forget since their two highly anticipated films of the year, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, were not exactly welcomed critically and not-so-much economically. The film that initiated the DC Cinematic Universe, Man of Steel introduced the franchise’s cornerstone character, in a rather radical take on his origin story. Personally, I wasn’t thrilled by Man of Steel but I respected how different it was in terms of how the world saw Superman. For so long, Batman v. Superman has been described as the sequel to Man of Steel, serving as a bridge to the inevitable and upcoming Justice League movie, but news has broken regarding an official sequel to Man of Steel that has just been approved for development.

Despite Superman’s battle with Batman, DC has been silent on a sequel to “Man of Steel” featuring Superman solo, leading many frustrated fanboys to believe that another film wasn’t going to happen. But a person close to the project told TheWrap that Superman is a top priority for the studio and getting the character right for audiences is of tantamount importance.

When last audiences saw Henry Cavill’s Superman in Batman v. Superman, the Man of Steel was given a hero’s burial after the titanic bout with the monstrous Doomsday and the character has been confirmed to return in Justice League. I’m curious how the last son of Krypton will rise from the dead to aid Batman’s alliance of special individuals against the mysterious Steppenwolf and I’m all the more curious as to how this sequel will contribute to what the DC Cinematic Universe has to offer. A few months back, Oscar-nominated director George Miller was rumored to be a favorite for a project such as a Man of Steel sequel but after a brief period of speculation, he announced that he would rather pursue other ventures.

As of now, there is no word on who will write, direct, star (aside from Cavill presumably) in the picture or a release date. All we know is that it is happening and Warner Bros. wants to redeem themselves for how they have portrayed Superman in the previous films and considering that Man of Steel grossed $668 million globally in 2013, Batman v. Superman collected $872 million at the global box office, not to mention the money the studio will get from Suicide Squad, they have the funds to make it happen, they just need the right creative minds to actually make it happen.

Review: Suicide Squad

I don’t know how many times I’ve said it on this blog, but I can’t help myself. I have to say it again: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was a nightmare. So much so, I had to temper my expectations for future films, including the next installment of the DC Entertainment Universe.

Suicide Squad, written and directed by David Ayer, features an all-star ensemble cast including Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Karen Fukuhara, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach and a surprise cameo or two from the cast of the upcoming Justice League.

In Suicide Squad, Viola Davis is Amanda Waller, an operative of A.R.G.U.S. who receives permission to assemble a task force of criminals and supervillains to carry out operations for the national security of the United States and she keeps this cadre of bad guys under thumb by the certainty of death at the push of a button and in line under the command of the loyal Rick Flag.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment

The specialized task force consists of expert assassin Deadshot, the sewer-dwelling Killer Croc, pyrokinetic gang-banger El Diablo, the kookly kleptomaniac from down under Captain Boomerang, Flagg’s #2 and master swordsman Katana, Slipknot, who only gets < 10 minutes of total screentime, and last but not least Harley Quinn, the significant other to Gotham’s resident Clown Prince of Crime who is just as crazy as she is. Their mission in this picture involves a woman named June Moon, who unknowingly awakens an ancient evil who plots to enforce her new world order by utilizing mystic forces beyond anyone’s understanding.

I’ve heard the whispers going into Suicide Squad and the controversies surrounding it; heck I’ve been following this movie for years. I’ve heard the stories about what was going on on set while the film was in production, I’ve heard about the reshoots, which coincidentally were announced shortly after Batman v. Superman arrived and crashed in theaters and I’ve heard about the film’s reception from critics. So after seeing the film for myself, and making up my own mind about it, here is where I stand on Suicide Squad: it is not as bad as critics make it out to be, but there is a lot of bad that comes with this film.

Fury movie premiere at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

Image By DoD News Features (141015-D-FW736-080), via Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t understand what I’m saying, I’ll do my utmost to simplify: I want to say that David Ayer laid out a good framework for what he wanted this movie to be. I could tell that he wrote this movie with the intent to introduce the audience to these characters, and entertain them with their interactions and truly give them a place in this DC Universe that is struggling to get off the ground. In fact, I will say that the plot for Suicide Squad was easier to digest than the plot for Batman v. Superman and in that, the film is successful.

There are flaws. A lot of flaws and a lot of those flaws stem from the technical aspects of the film starting with the camerawork and cinematography courtesy of Roman Vasyanov. Maybe it was the seat I picked to watch the movie but the camerawork and camera motions used felt so uncomfortable to watch. For instance, the final battle sequence used too many close-ups, it felt as though it took away from the action and most certainly, the editing surely didn’t help.

John Gilroy’s post-production was fine when he kept it simple, but again, I go to the final battle sequence where everything just felt completely discombobulated. The slow-motion used in the film just felt cheesy and my interest just slipped, but it was not lost. Speaking of production, I felt as though this theatrical cut felt way too tame; I felt as though this movie held out on audiences and there was said to be many deleted scenes, I for one would like to see what this movie truly intended to be rather than what audiences were given because it felt like it was something of a cheat.

Another flaw: the soundtrack. There was too much syndicated music throughout this movie. It made the film feel heavy and exhausting. I’m not sure who was responsible for that, perhaps it was Steven Price, but it was a little overkill. Look at when Waller and Flag are recruiting the squad and bringing them together, just one song after another; it’s excessive and unnecessary!

This was a great cast but I had the impression that certain actors were favored over others. Aside from Slipknot, who everyone must have known what was going to happen to him, I thought characters like Katana, Killer Croc, Boomerang and El Diablo weren’t given as much a chance to shine like Deadshot, Harley, Waller, Joker Flag and Enchantress were. Maybe it had something to do with billing but I just felt disappointed that audiences didn’t get to see more of what they could do and contribute to this movie.

Also, Suicide Squad is a classic example that the Motion Picture Association of America needs a serious overhaul. This movie could have been rated R for using language and content not conducive to younger audiences but instead it was PG-13. So if any readers are considering taking their children to see Suicide Squad, be advised that you may get more than what you bargained for.

What more is there to say? I liked the costumes by Kate Hawley, the production design by Oliver Scholl was striking, the art direction and set direction was solid, the make-up and the visual effects were worthwhile. I just felt that there was more working against Suicide Squad more than what was working for it.

I want this made clear: I did not hate this movie! If Ayer had handled some aspects of the film more effectively, if it was more refined than crude, than maybe it would have been received better but I cannot deny that Suicide Squad was messy. It’s better than Batman v. Superman (that’s not really saying much), it has appealing characteristics for a comic book movie-in fact it is a little familiar with Guardians of the Galaxy with a touch of Deadpool thrown in-but it sabotages itself with rough technical ability and the fact that what audiences saw was not entirely what Ayer wanted to showcase.

Suicide Squad is not the total disaster critics make it out to be. It’s just shoddy and messy to look at.

God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!