Category Archives: Opinion

How to Save the DC Extended Universe

JC

So the reviews are in on Justice League, and they are not good. I saw it myself over the weekend and I wish I could say different but Justice League is a step down from Wonder Woman.

It’s not a terrible film, just average. And for the DC equivalent of The Avengers, Justice League should be anything but.  However for a film about a superhero team saving the world the movie feels anything but epic.

So what next? DC/Warner Bros. are at a crossroads and need to think carefully about how to save their franchise/cash cow. It just so happens I have a few ideas on how to save the DCEU from itself:

Focus on the females

DC should focus on their successes and in this case Wonder Woman was a critical and commercial success. It also gave them a chance to show up Marvel Studios by producing a female superhero movie before them (and doing it well). A sequel to Wonder Woman has been scheduled for 2019, but DC need to keep up the momentum and show the world that DC is the place to go for quality female superhero movies. Audiences (male and female) are calling out for female driven movies and DC could spearhead the movement. Drop the Joker and keep Gotham City Sirens centred on Harley Quinn, after all Margot Robbie performance was one of the few acclaimed aspects of Suicide Squad whereas Jared Leto’s Joker had a more mixed reaction.  With Batgirl ready to go with Joss Whedon in the director’s chair, why not add other female heroes and villains to the mix.  Black Canary, Poison Ivy and god knows Catwoman needs a decent movie after the Halle Berry fiasco (although it’s still a guilty pleasure of mine), so there’s plenty for DC to choose from. DC could be seen as leading the way rather than playing catch up to Marvel.

Ditch the team ups and concentrate on solo movies    

Batman Vs Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League have been underwhelming affairs.  That’s because there hasn’t been enough world building for us to know this universe and it’s characters. So much time is spent introducing new characters and their origins when it could be spent on improving the plot, characterisation and action scenes.

So even though I doubt they would do this as Suicide Squad 2 and Justice League 2 are already being lined up, I think concentrating on solo movies for their heroes would be a welcomed move. Cyborg and Aquaman would have been better served in Justice League if their solo movies had come before the team up. Leave the team work for much, much later and work on making the individual characters stand out first.

Don’t make the villain an afterthought

A lot of time has been spent on the heroes, quite rightly as they are who we are following.  But as the saying goes “a hero is only as good as it’s villain” and so far the treatment of the super villains have been rather underwhelming (and this is not just a DC issue either).  Considering the wealth of rogues in their back catalogue DC can have their pick of great foes for the heroes to fight with. But it’s not just picking out a well known character, it’s spending time making the villains worthwhile opponents on screen. Lex Luthor is a great character but he was an annoyance on screen in Batman Vs Superman.  DC need to look back over their source material and remind themselves what made these villains stand out and captured the audience attention. They have to be either a counterbalance to the hero, a dark mirror as to what they could have been if made the wrong choices, or their polar opposite that highlights the goodness in our heroes.

Give Patty Jenkins more control

One of the main criticism of Justice League is it’s uneven tone, with Joss Whedon directing more comedic re-shoots that clash against Zach Snyder more sombre mood. You can see why Warner Bros. tried to bring more humour to the movie as it’s dour, overly serious nature was a big criticism of previous DC movies, however the styles of Snyder and Whedon are just too different to merge coherently into one film. Perhaps Snyder needs another director to help balance out the DCEU going forward.

So far the movies best version of the DC Extended Universe has come from Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman. Great at action scenes and smaller character moments, Jenkins has understood the DC world better than her other recent contemporaries. She also managed to get the tone right with a lighter, hopeful touch that still managed to balance the more serious feeling of the previous movies. Plus the attempts at humour were much better than Justice League awkward one liners. Zach Snyder also produced and co-wrote the story for Wonder Woman so him and Jenkins have shown that they can work well together. Perhaps having Jenkins contribute to the wider cinematic universe would help DC keep the balance of satisfying it’s critics while also keeping the Snyder fans happy too?

So can DCEU be saved? Of course it can. But there’s no quick fixes, and for the studio bosses to turn things around they will need to take a long, hard look at what’s working and what isn’t. Making rushed re shoots and post production edits isn’t going to cut it any more, as this weekend’s box office has shown. To really put up a fight against Marvel Studios, DC and Warner Bros. need to take a deeper look at their universe and do it’s characters justice.

What do you think, can the DCEU be saved? Is it a lost cause? Or do you think there’s nothing wrong with the franchise and people should stop hating on it? Let me know in the comments below?

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Top 5 Female Marvel Characters Who Need Their Own Movie

I love Marvel, I really do, but it’s flabbergasting that we’ve had to wait so long for the first Marvel female superhero flick to hit the big screen. The DC films may have their issues (a lot of issues) but they’ve still managed to get Wonder Woman to our screens this year. We’ll have to look to 2018 for Evangeline Lily to share joint billing with Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and then another year for the first solo Marvel female to lead the big screen in Captain Marvel. So who should be in Marvel’s lineup for Phase 4?

5. Scarlet Witch

scarlet-witch

With Doctor Strange allowing the MCU to go to psychedelic new places surely the world is ready for a completly bonkers Scarlet Witch movie? Considering Scarlet Witch is a powerful character who lacks control over said abilities she’s ripe for potentially great plotlines.

In the comic Scarlet Witch used her powers to depower 90% of the mutants, now imagine her having accidentily depowered the Avengers and having to go on a quest to restore their powers before the next big bad attacks. It could have the Avengers living without powers and some comedy with Hawkeye and Black Widow feeling like the superior ones for once, having to train the avengers on physical fighting while Scarlet Witch goes to right her wrongs.

Or we could have her finding outthat members of her family are alive, now in the comics her father was Magneto but due to studio conflict her father could be remade into a different villain with Scarlet Witch being torn between family ties and her loyalties to the Avengers. If Marvel really wanted to break the moulds and try something different then Scarlet Witch could be a great way to bring some inventive into the mix.

4. Gamora

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When you think of memorable characters from Guardians of the Galaxy Gamora may not be the first to spring to mind. Having to keep playing the straight man to Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper and co means Zoe Saldana wasn’t able to showcase her full range. However while the rest of the characters would work best in a wacky ensemble Gamora is maybe one of the few strong enough characters to lead her own movie.

Think about it, she’s a strong fighter with a tragic back story and a need to make up for her misdeeds under Ronan. She could split for the other Guardians for an intergalactic adventure, maybe teaming up/ running away from her sister Nebula and the movie can explore their complicated relationship. While also dealing in kick-ass fights of course. Maybe if a bit of broad humour is needed then Rocket can come along for the ride. With Saldana playing second fiddle in an array of blockbusters (Guardians, Star Trek, Avatar) isn’t it about time Saldana leads her own movie?

3. Spider-Gwen

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Now that Spider-Man has been rebooted (again!) and with the MCU having a hand in precedings this time around maybe it’s time to introduce another character from the Spidey-Verse. While there’s a lot of love out there for a Miles Morales feature (and I would love it if the Donald Glover rumours turn out to be true) another character I’d want to see is Spider-Gwen.

Yes in the Spidey-Verse where different Spider-Men, er people, come together we discover in one verse that Gwen Stacey lives! Not just that but she is bitten by that pesky spider instead of Peter Parker. The character became so popular she got her own comic series and she is a delight. She’s a smart, funny and likeable character that male and female fans enjoy. A blonde teenager who juggles friendship, family life and battling evil guys? This film has ‘directed by Joss Whedon’ all over it, and with less pressure than with The Avengers sequel maybe he can be persuaded to make a return to the MCU.

2. Ms Marvel

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Like Spider-Gwen the all new Ms Marvel Kamala Khan has been a big hit since her comic series debuted in 2010. Kamala is an Inhuman Superhero who protects her home of Jersey City with her shapeshifting abilities. What marks Kamala out from the other teenage superheroes is her strong belief in her faith, trying to be good Muslim daughter while fighting the big bads. It would be easy to see Kamala as a box ticking exercise or expect her religious beliefs to be treated as a bad stereotype. However Kamala, and by extension her family and friends are treated with respect, sensitively and also they are asll made to be three dimensional characters in their own rights.

The series is also hilarious with Kamala attempting to quip her way through fights and her delight in being a superhero is great to see. Of course there’s teen angst and romantic entanglements but nothing feels cliche and Kamala is the freshest superhero Marvel has had in a long time. As her character has had interactions with Captain Marvel, Spiderman and even Wolverine it would be easy to throw her into the Marvel mix and the potential for crossover gold would be high. Come on Marvel make it happen!

1. Black Widow

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Making her debuted all the way back in 2010’s Iron Man 2 Natasha Romanov has been waiting a long time for her own solo movie. Having also featured in two Avengers movies as well as the last two Captain America films Black Widow has long put in the work for the MCU. Fans are calling out for her to have her own movie, audiences are familiar with her character and Scarlet Johansson is a big movie star, so what’s the hold up? Surely the stars are aligning for Natasha to get own movie.

So what could a Black Widow movie look like? Considering her past as a spy maybe one of her old missions come back to haunt her or she’s attempting a path of redemption? Her mysterious past could offer a wealth of ideas. As for supporting characters, as much as I like her relationships with Captain America and Iron Man, anything more than a cameo from either of these two would threaten to overshadow Black Widow in her own movie. A more natural companion would be Hawkeye, as the two already have a confirmed on screen friendship but I would like to see Black Widow take Scarlet Witch under her wing. Black Widow is all about control and logic whereas we’ve seen Scarlet Witch struggle with her powers and her emotions. They would make an interesting pair and a kick-ass buddy movie (imagine the scrapes they would get into). It would also give fellow Avenger Elisabeth Olsen a chance to shine (if she fails to get own solo film) and give Johansson new dimensions for her character, allowing her to focus on female friendships which we haven’t seen from Black Widow or Marvel yet. The film could also follow a mentor/student route rather than putting Black Widow with a male character just to force a romantic subplot down our throats (here’s looking at you Age of Ultron).

So what’s it going to be Marvel? Hopefully they’ve got a few big ideas up their sleeves and I can’t wait to hear them.

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Fairy tales, Disney Princesses and the Happily Ever After

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Yes it’s all good for now but what happens after the happily ever after?

Everyone has been brought up on fairy tales and been exposed to the magic of Disney movies. And what little girl hasn’t thought about being their favourite Disney Princess? But then you grow up and start thinking “where the hell is my magic carpet ride”?

Many girls love the idea of having a fairy tale ending and riding off into the sunset with Prince Charming to have their own happily ever after. Then get disappointed when reality kicks them in the butt. Now I can’t say I really prescribed to their whole Prince Charming thing when I was younger, in part due to the fact that most traditional of the Disney Princes are extremely dull. If you don’t believe me look at Snow White or Cinderella, do the Princes exhibit any personality in their admittedly limited screen time? I bet a few minutes after Snow White had her happily ever after she was begging to be put back to sleep again. Anyway I digress, while I wasn’t thinking about my own Prince Charming, I did want my own ‘happy ever after’, where all the struggles are over and you live in peace and harmony. When you later realise life will never be empty of some pain or sadness it can be hard to accept. After all don’t we expect every story to end with those words ‘they all lived happily ever after…’

But is this really Disney’s fault? Yes they do permit the happy ever after myth but then they are at heart in the business of making kids movies. It would be pretty depressing to see Sleeping Beauty struggling with child care or unable to pay her bills (although having said that I feel a pitch coming on for Cinderella 2:The Tax Return Years). Perhaps more of a concern in these tales is the lack of a feminist message. You look to marry a husband-and that’s your life’s goal.  However if we look back to where and when these fairy tales came from (and some date back centuries) then these fantasies were probably many girls way of escaping dreary reality, and at the time there was limited ways to save themselves. So a dream of marrying a kind, handsome and rich young man was the top priority against living a life of poverty and uncertainty.

For the early Disney films it would make sense to embrace these norms based on the values and society at the time.  However passive Princesses like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the animated Cinderella are a thing of the past. Now girls do believe they can save themselves without waiting for a man to solve their problems. These are a new breed of Disney Heroines to reflect that with the likes of Moana, Elsa and Ana from Frozen and even the new live action Cinderella showed more guts and determination than her previous incarnation to pursue her own happy ending.

It would be great if we could herald a new age of ‘happily ever after’ where we redefine the term to mean that life will be full of the occasional and inevitable heartache but also full of excitement and wonder with each person able to be their own hero. Maybe films should end with “and their adventures continued for the rest of the lives…”, after all why should we accept finality when most movies are in the business of making franchises and sequels anyway.

“And with this Lauren finished writing her post and the adventures continued for the rest of her life…”

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My kind of (Christmas) Movie

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I hate it when TV channels start playing Christmas movies before December.But as soon as the clock strikes 12 on the first of December I will happily watch an Xmas themed film.

So far I’ve already watched Love Actually, a classic Christmas movie that makes me laugh and cry. I’ve also saw The Holiday which is ridiculously cheesy but fun all the same.

I will probably get round to watching Die Hard sometime over the festive period. Considering it’s set around an office Christmas party technically that makes it a Christmas movie (see also Shane Black’s movies such as Iron Man 3 – a summer blockbuster set at Christmas!). Basically it’s just any excuse to watch Die Hard. Yippee ki yay motherfuckers!

One of my favourite Christmas movies is The Muppets Christmas Carol, it just isn’t the festive season without it. Luckily I’ve checked and its playing on Christmas Eve this year. Whoopee!

Then there’s all the other great films like Home Alone, AWonderful Life, Elf, Gremlins (which I saw the whole way through properly for the first time last year) and all the other ones I’ve forgotten to mention but will no doubt fill up my Tv schedule. When I’m not entertaining family obviously.

What’s your kind of Christmas movie? Will it not feel like Christmas unless you’ve watched The Muppets Christmas Carol? Or are you feeling a load of bah humbug about Xmas movies already? Let me know in the comments below.

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R.I.P David Bowie and Alan Rickman

This week has seen two great losses in the entertainment world. On 10 January David Bowie passed away age 69 from cancer. Then today the sad news broke that Alan Rickman had also died age 69 from cancer. There’s not much I can say that others haven’t already said and much more elequently than me, but here’s a few words about each of them.

My first recollection of David Bowie is his role as Jared, the Goblin King from Labyrinth. I thought he was amazing and I still love that film even now. Over the years I have loved many of his songs from Lets Dance to Golden Years. He was trully original musical icon that will be missed.

David Bowie

I have loved Alan Rickman ever since his villianous turn in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. No offence to Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood but this movie is all about Rickman’s Sherriff of Nottingham. Since then I’ve seen him in Die Hard, Galaxy Quest, Love Actually among various other works and he usually steals the film out from everyone else. A class act that was always entertaining and watchable.

Alan Rickman

I’m sure that many people will be listening to their songs or watching their movies this weekend to celebrate their life achievements.

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

(Lets Dance-David Bowie)

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Netflix’s Jessica Jones is My Kind of Superheroine

Jessica Jones

This post contains some spoilers about the first episode

On Friday 20 November Netflix unleshed Jessica Jones, their second Marvel series after the success of Daredevil earlier this year.

While I liked the first few epsiodes of Daredevil and enjoyed the fight scenes I got a bit bored with all the gangster storylines and gave up. However on reading up about Jessica Jones, a superheroine who is now a P.I, this seemed more up my alley. We were promised a dark, unsettling series and we definately got one.

The first episode set up Jones (Krysten Ritter) a former superheroine with PTSD after a truamatic incident involving a man named Kilgrave (David Tennant) who has power over people’s minds, forcing them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. While we don’t know exactly what he made Jones do, flashbacks seem to show her with blood on her hands so whatever it was it wasn’t pretty. She has since quit the superhero business and instead became a P.I. However as she searches for a missing girl she soon realises that Kilgrave is back to his old tricks and is controling this girl for his own ends.

Ritter is fabulous as Jones, sarcastic, cold, likes hard drinking and meaningless sex but deep, deep down has a good heart. Its is devastating to see her think she’s saved Hope only to find Kilgrave is still in control and have Hope murder her parents. Jones may comes across as hard but she’s also a survivor and Ritter portrays these differents sides to Jones perfectly.

Of course it’s not all about Jones, and while Tennant is only briefly shown as Kilgrave, seeing some of his power and minpulation makes him a terrifying villian already. This is someone that can force you to kill your own parents, imagine what he could do with a girl powers like Jones? Although you do wonder why he isn’t using his powers to control the president or something? Maybe there’s limitations to his powers that haven’t been revealed yet. The rest of the supporting cast including Carrie-Anne Moss, Rachel Taylor and Mike Colter is also strong.

What is also unnerving is how Jones past delaings with Kilgrave comes across like an obsessive, abusive boyfriend who controls his girl’s every move. It’s absoloutely heartbreaking when Jones tells Hope that it’s not her fault what has happened, as you can imagine thats something she’s had to tell herself repeatedly. I also loved how the show ended on a moment of strength after the devastation when Jones decided to face her fears rather than run away.

Its only been one episode so far but I’m hopeful that this series will continue to be as badass as it’s lead character.

What do you think of Jessica Jones? Let me know in the comments below. Although please no spoilers past episode one!

 

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And The Oscar Goes to…My Predictions for the Oscars 2015

Every newspaper, blog and tv show seem to be giving their opinions on tonight Oscar results. So here’s mine! Granted as with most years some of these results are bound to be a bit predictable, but you never know when someone may come along and cause an upset.

Best Picture:

American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma,The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

My prediction:

I’m still annoyed Nightcrawler has not been included on the list, but then considering the dark and disturbing nature of the film it was always going to be an outside shot. Whiplash would be my personal favourite, but having just seen Boyhood (review to come later this week), it’s hard to imagine anyone else walking away with the Best Picture gong.

Possible upset: Birdman could sneak in and grab the win

Best Actor:

Steve Carrell, “Foxcatcher”, Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”, Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”, Michael Keaton, “Birdman”, Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

My prediction: Again, I’m annoyed that Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler was not recognised but out of all the above bookie’s favourite Eddie Redmayne does deserve to win on the night.

Possible upset: Michael Keaton might swoop in and snatch the gong from Redmayne’s hands.

Best Actress:

Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”, Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”, Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”, Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”, Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

My prediction: I have only seen two of the above movies, and I loved Brits Pike and Jones performances. I would love Jones to walk away with the award but it seems to be Julianne Moore‘s year so expect her to give the winner’s speech.

Possible Upset: Moore seems like a dead cert but could Marion Cotillard surprise everyone and steal Moore’s thunder?

Best Supporting Actor:

Robert Duvall, “The Judge”, Edward Norton, “Birdman”, Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”, Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”, J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

My prediction: J.K Simmons. Nothing further.

Possible upset: Edward Norton was hilarious in Birdman so maybe the Academy will vote his way?

Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”, Laura Dern, “Wild”, Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”, Emma Stone, “Birdman”, Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

My prediction: Patricia Arquette is the favourite and it’s easy to see why. Its unlikely anyone else is in with a shot.

Possible Upset: Could the voters decide to spread the love and give Wild’s Laura Dern an award to take home?

Best Director:

Alejando G. Inarritu, “Birdman”, Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”, Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”, Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, Morton Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

My prediction: The hype has been building for a while now and Richard Linklater‘s stirling direction work in Boyhood looks set to bring home another award.

Possible upset: Alejando G. Inarritu showed off his fancy skills in Birdman and is the most likely to steal awards away from Boyhood on the night.

Not long now until the results are in and we can see if the Academy got it right this year. Let me know your predictions and opinions in the comments below.

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