Avengers: Age of Ultron marks a significant chapter in the success story of Marvel film studios, who have been dominating box office receipts and the cultural zeitgeist for the past five years. With the massive success of The Avengers Joss Whedon was once more tasked with bringing this massive array of characters together once again to save the day, only this time, without the same levels of panache, humour and cohesiveness.
(excluding January of course)
I know how terrible it looks updating a blog that hasn’t really been active since 2013, I guess you could say I got a bit lazy or just lacked the motivation. Whatever it is I lost, I feel as though I’ve found again and what better way to reconcile myself with blogging about films than a preview for the rest of the year to come. Obviously if a film isn’t mentioned here it’s not to say that it’s not worth checking out there’s just too many good films being made these days to fit them all into one humble blog post.
Keep in mind that these will be the films that I’m the most excited for and I’ll be leaving out obvious films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens as there’s not much more to say that other people haven’t already said.
Let’s start off with the film that I’m most excited for.
It’s hard to a review a film which is based upon true events, especially the events as recent as those seen in Captain Philips. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that it is based upon a book written by the Richard Philips and also that the crew of the Alabama are filing a lawsuit against the film. It’s difficult because these are all evidently real people, who had to endure a very traumatic and unfortunately very real experience, therefore some things which might be okay to say about other films might not be appropriate here. However I shall try my best.
Director: Marc Foster
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
My only contact with the Max Brooks novel of the same title was when I bought it as a gift for my sister for Christmas one year. I don’t think she ever finished it but she told me that the trailers for the film were nothing like the book, which I believe is told through the various accounts of survivors. Knowing this though I understood that for a big budget Hollywood film like this changes would have to be made to make the film much more streamlined, with one main protagonist and a cohesive plot. The problem though is that World War Z has a pretty boring protagonist and a ridiculous plot.
The film is centred around Gerry Lane, who used to investigate various troubled areas throughout the world for the UN but has now become a loving family man, whose only job is to make pancakes in the morning. This all changes though when the world becomes ravaged by a disease that turns everyone into zombies, through his UN friend Terry, Gerry manages to escape the mainland and head to an offshore fleet of boats, where only the important people get to stay. Gerry is then forced to trek around the world to find a cure for the disease and that’s where the film quickly begins to fall apart.
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Dianne Lane, Lawrence Fishbourne
Superman can be a bit of challenging character to bring onto the screen, in many ways he’s almost too perfect, too strong and too powerful. However after watching The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 and reading a bit more about the character I realised that there was actually quite a lot of complexity to the character if done right. This is the challenge that faced Zack Snyder, the challenge of making a Superman movie that captured the complexities of a seemingly perfect character. David S. Goyer, the man behind The Dark Knight trilogy scripts, lent his hand here as did Nolan who came on board to help create the story. In many ways Man of Steel bares many resemblances to Nolan and Goyer’s work on Batman but it also goes its own way to tell the story of a much bigger, more powerful and harder to nail character.
The story jumps about from time but starts off on the planet Krypton where, to put it mildly, things seem to have gone terribly wrong. Children are artificially created, issues are only solved through pointless deliberation, everyone is born into their own roles and military leader General Zod seems to have gone a bit power hungry. However not all is lost, Krypton scientist Jor-El and his wife Lana naturally birth Kal-El and send him on his way to Earth to avoid the doomed fate of their planet and to also carry on the legacy of their people. Once he arrives on Earth he is adopted by the Kents, who raise him as a human despite his obvious inhuman abilities. The result of this child of two worlds is a conflicted man, who feels isolated and alone due to his super abilities, a man who’s never really able to fit in. Through the discovery of a Kryptonian ship, where his father lives on as a kind of semi-biological/semi-artificial memory of Jor-El, Clark learns about who he truly is and what he has to do with his powers. This is quickly put to the test when Zod comes to Earth, looking to kill all of its people and birth a new Krypton.
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Tobey McGuire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton.
Baz Luhrmann had created some of the most fantastical and dazzling pieces of cinema in the past 15 years. Most notably being Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, which have proven the test of time as they are still watched by legions of audiences. However I found Australia to be one spectacle too far, it was boring, tonally confused and bloated and I’m afraid to say that with his latest effort “The Great Gatsby” the same could be said. It’s not as bad as Australia but it’s definitely much weaker than it wants to be.
Now before I get into things I should probably inform you all that I haven’t read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, I do read books I just haven’t gotten around to this one, so I can’t comment on it as an adaption of the book. I know that some of you may then think that my opinion isn’t valid because of this, however if anything my opinion of this film is more valid than those who have read it. This is mostly due to the fact that I approached it without any expectations, inhibitions or attachments to the story. So maybe there are nuances and nods to the book which I didn’t appreciate as much as others will but I think that my view of it as an overall film experience is more justified than fans of the book. So with that in mind, let us begin…
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho.
When I think of great sequels my mind immediately goes to films such as Empire Strikes Back, Temple of Doom and The Dark Knight. Part of the reason I believe that makes them so great are the great characters that are explored in the prior films which have a chance to fully react to a new situation. No long segments about origins, we know the characters and the thrill of seeing them react to an entirely new threat always makes for exciting and endearing cinema. The recent reboot film of Star Trek set a pretty high bar for the franchise, the film was energised, fun, action packed and was filled with many loveable characters. So naturally Star Trek Into Darkness had the makings of a fantastic sequel, and thankfully with all the right ingredients, the end product is a film which surpasses its predecessor in every way.
J.J Abrams is a director whose quickly garnered a lot of attention, his ability to balance emotionally engaging characters and stories with big action and a large scope is comparable to the earlier works of great directors like Speilberg. With Star Trek into Darkness the hipster glasses wearing director keeps up his form. Yes, every shot is still popping at the seams with lens flare, but it only helps to add a grittier element to an otherwise super slick world of space travel and interplanetary colonisation. You’ll also be hard pushed to find a film with more enthralling and jaw dropping action sequences. If you remember the space jump from the first film; Abrams and Co. go even further with two suited up men flying through space with jet packs and dodging debris. It makes the plane sequence in Iron Man 3 look like mid-week melodrama and really pushes the boundaries in inventive and exciting action direction.