Review by C.J. Bunce
After so many dark and dreary superhero movies, did Hollywood forget what drew everyone to comic books in the first place? Somewhere along the way drama began to bog down the genre resulting in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and it looks like it’s not going to let up with the first images for the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “Why so serious?” And it hasn’t just been movies based on DC Comics. Marvel’s X-Men franchise gave us all those Academy Award winning actors all so grim and in such dire circumstances. Sure, they’re good films, but Guardians of the Galaxy proves superhero movies don’t have to be so grim to be good.
If you don’t find yourself laughing out loud with this flick then the superhero genre is not for you.
The same kind of excitement you remember from your first viewing of Star Wars and Superman is waiting for you. For certain Guardians of the Galaxy is neither movie, but it isn’t trying to be. Good escapist fun underscores every scene, and its greatest achievement is not taking itself too seriously. Its characters have a familiar and likeable chemistry like our favorite crews of Serenity or the Millennium Falcon. Writer/director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman pull together familiar elements from The Fifth Element, Flash Gordon and even “The Tholian Web” to make a fully-realized new sci-fi/superhero universe. And it’s as good an adaptation of a comic book series as you’ll ever find. Even better, its second tier cast of characters–unfamiliar to most movie watchers–means expectations and preconceptions filmmakers may be more concerned with in a Batman, Superman, or Spider-man story are just not an issue here.
Whether or not major genre properties are hosting panels or booths at Comic-Con 2014, studios released some great images on Wednesday preview night and the first full day of the show yesterday. The biggest is probably the above photo of Ben Affleck as Batman from the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, not coming to theaters until 2016. The image was nicely timed to the DC Comics celebration week for the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance.
Warner Bros. also released the first poster for the latest movie in the Mad Max series, to star Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. It’s called Max Max: Fury Road, and won’t hit theaters until next year, but that didn’t stop releasing some advance images from the film, including this image of Theron:
and this image of some post-apocalyptic recycling of cars:
The Amblin Entertainment/Legendary Pictures/Universal sequel to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park trilogy, Jurassic World, netted us a teaser poster for the June 2015 release:
Jurassic World will star Chris Pratt, star of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, which also had a new poster reveal for its IMAX 3D version:
Hey, how did Sark end up in Guardians of the Galaxy?
Spoiler Alert on Maximum–After the Break only.
The latest trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, released in the UK, with a pared down version airing on television in the U.S., reveals a ton of great scenes from the August release. So much so that readers who hate to see too much in a trailer (you know who you are) will want to skip this one. But those of you that just can’t wait for every new leaked image and official bit of info about this new flick, check out this latest and greatest of trailers after the break. And no, that doesn’t look exactly like David Warner’s Sark in the original Tron, but we got a similar vibe here. It’s actually Lee Pace (The Hobbit, Wonderfalls) as Ronan the Accuser.
Any excuse is a good excuse to post a photo of David Warner as the awesome villain Sark in the original Tron.
A big plus for those die-hard fans of superhero films that think the earlier trailers showed the team as too comical for their tastes may like this one better. Full of outer space action and interaction of the crew in their ship, this is shaping up to look like both a real superhero film and a real sci-fi film.
But first, in the Non-Spoiler variety, first up after the break is a nice quality, fan-made, retro-trailer on YouTube for the original Star Wars trilogy, using the style of the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer already released (and posted at borg.com earlier here), edited like the trailer with music from the trailer, too. Thanks to Dan Madsen for finding this YouTube video.
So here’s the fan-made trailer for Star Wars, Guardians style:
You might recall, like I do, your first sighting of a copy of the new John Williams soundtrack for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which was released two weeks before the movie was released in theaters. Before you start the requisite geek-bashing of the prequels, try to recall that back in 1999 we all could not wait to see what Lucas was going to show us, and what could be better than a new Williams score to listen to over and over again? Isn’t a new John Williams Star Wars soundtrack pretty much the best part of having a new Star Wars film released (yes, he’s signed up to be the galactic composer once again)? ’nuff said. But the problem with The Phantom Menace soundtrack that sat in a new stack at the local Fred Meyer? The title listing included a track called “The High Council Meeting and Qui-Gon’s Funeral.” Funeral. Huh? So all of us who were excited about the new film got a surprise blow. This new Liam Neeson character wasn’t going to make it out of this one alive. And that was that. Note to Williams: Could you be a little more vague in your titles for the next trilogy? Just saying.
Most of us didn’t use the word “spoiler” back in 1999, and certainly not like we do today. We’re not really talking spoilers per se, but if you don’t want to sleuth through a key question about this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie with us, you might want to move along and come back tomorrow.
Review by C.J. Bunce
BOULEVARD DRIVE-IN — It’s hard to believe it has only been six years since Jon Favreau surprised the world, taking a typically underwhelming character like Tony Stark, casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and making the best modern superhero movie. Although fanboy director Favreau made the Christmas classic Elf before Iron Man, who knew he was going to change how we evaluate the modern superhero film? So it shouldn’t be surprising that a proven genre director like Bryan Singer, with titles under his belt like The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X-Men 2, X-men Origins: Wolverine, Superman Returns, and Valkyrie, has set the new standard in the summer blockbuster sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero sphere with his latest X-title, X-Men: Days of Future Past. You don’t even need to be an X-Men or Marvel fan to realize what a triumph Singer has achieved.
The movie is gigantic from the opening set-up. The giant mechanical Sentinels of the comic books take over Earth in the distant future, weeding out once and for all the small bands of survivors, creating a very Terminator-influenced opening. Now see if you can spot a theme here. A band of what you might call Tier 3 X-Men, led by Kitty Pryde (played by Oscar nominee Ellen Page), find a way to send something back into the past to save themselves from Sentinel strikes. Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, Oscar nominee Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine take Pryde’s method to come up with a time travel plan that results in dual casts trying to save their world, one in 1973, the other in the future. Storm, played by returning Oscar winner Halle Berry, tries to fend off the Sentinels to allow the time travel trick to work.
If you watched last night’s season finale of Arrow on the CW Network, you already know how well superhero stories can be translated to television. Arrow will likely go down as the best adaptation of a comic book property to hit the small screen. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tried to find the same spark but unfortunately couldn’t make it happen. After all, superhero series need superheroes at least once in a while.
The ABC Network released 12 previews for new Fall shows this week, including many that seem likely not to make it very far, including Selfie, starring Karen Gillan and John Cho. With these two mega-genre stars, someone should make a series that is more than a fluffy comedy. Cho has already shown through a variety of TV appearances, such as in Sleepy Hollow last year, that he has plenty of range beyond his movie roles. Gillan needs to move beyond the role of model, and we think Guardians of the Galaxy will give fans more of what they are after.
Here’s the Selfie preview, but you’ve been warned: ABC did not yet release a preview yet for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Agent Carter featuring Hayley Atwell’s character from Captain America: The First Avenger as she builds S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of World War II.
But the NBC Network did release this preview of another DC Comics series, Constantine, to replace the unfortunately cancelled Dracula (which featured Arrow’s Huntress actress Jessica De Gouw and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) for the Friday night line-up with Grimm: Continue reading
Back in the 1970s Marvel Comics released the first new entry in the Star Wars universe for the franchise which then consisted of the original movie alone. With Star Wars Issue #7, Marvel followed Han Solo and Chewbacca beyond the movie adaptation, as they explored the seedier elements of society–the kinds of places a Corellian would roam with fellow smugglers and other dregs. When Disney recently announced the coming continuation of Star Wars in a third trilogy, everyone knew it had to take place in the far away galaxy decades away from the events in Return of the Jedi. Then Disney hinted at other movies in the Star Wars universe, and possibly a Han Solo story.
A Han Solo movie is intriguing. Although the filmmakers are likely to target a younger audience with a young actor for Han Solo, I can’t help think how much fun it would be to see Firefly’s Nathan Fillion play our favorite scoundrel. Comic book writer Matt Kindt (Mind Mgmt) is now writing one of the last of Dark Horse Comics’s Star Wars stories before Disney pulls the franchise away at year end, and Issue #1 follows Han Solo almost from the view of a modern fanboy googly-eyed as he meets Han Solo in person. And the Han that is admired could easily be a Han played by Fillion. Think Fillion playing Han Solo in a Blade Runner noir vibe.
Coming next Wednesday, Kindt plus penciller Marco Castiello, inker Dan Parsons, and colorist Gabe Eltaeb take us back to the days before The Empire Strikes Back with Star Wars: Rebel Heist. After the break take a look at these preview pages from Dark Horse Comics:
Were I Joe Hollywood, that puppet master that controls the destiny of all things in Entertainmentland, who has infinite resources and influence and what he says goes, I’d put Bryan Singer forward as the next director of the next movie release for Star Trek, Star Wars, or any DC Comics property. The guy behind the X-Men movies, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, House, M.D., and The Usual Suspects could make magic out of any mega-franchise. And yes, I do believe his Superman Returns dances circles around last year’s feeble attempt at rebooting the Superman mythos.
Were I Bryan Singer, I’d use the new X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer as my business card, as page one of my portfolio for the new mega-franchise gig. Unlike the earlier Days of Future Past trailers released, this new preview gives us a major glimpse of the scope of this new story, and some brilliantly designed sets and character interactions. Not to mention more of that 1970s retro that moviemakers can’t seem to get enough of recently. As a child of the 1970s, I am all for that (although it would be nice to see a real view of the decade at some point and not just what the 1970s looked like in New York City and Los Angeles over and over again).
But it’s all really about bringing Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey back for a Phoenix movie, right? Why else go to all this trouble to change “this” timeline?
You can definitely get the feel that this new time travel story could get the “fixing the past” concept right. There’s not much better for a sci-fi aficionado than a killer time travel story, so here’s hoping Days of Future Past is as good as it looks. Maybe even good enough to propel Singer into some other big franchises.
Here’s the latest trailer for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past:
In the same way that Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series took us by surprise as the best new series of 2012 (and hasn’t let up in 2014), Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow monthly comic book series is proving to be at the top of the 2014 titles. Strange that the duo of Hawkeye and Black Widow is well-known to be a second tier partnership within the Avengers, yet they are the stars of some of the best monthlies the Marvel universe has to offer.
The Black Widow series follows Natasha Romanova and her attempt to atone for her past sins as a mercenary, assassin, general all-around “bad guy.” She selects missions these days very carefully. Her goal is making money but not hurting anyone in the process. And that money goes into trust funds and pays off her web of back-up operatives around the world—nothing in her plans is about profit-taking.
That doesn’t mean she won’t be tapped for S.H.I.E.L.D. or Avengers projects from time to time. Former agent and now director Maria Hill (who you’ll recall is played by Cobie Smulders in the live-action Marvel universe) brings her in on a few missions. They make a great team. Edmondson has a great feel for Romanova. In the same way Fraction was able to show the personal side of Hawkeye, Edmondson scratches the surface of what makes this lethal heroine tick, but her character shows great depth. Yet as she says at the beginning of her series “my full story will never be told”.
From the previews of the 2014 theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy, we get the feel we’re dealing with the motley crew of a Firefly class-inspired vessel, Marvel universe style. Along with that we see plenty of “bounty hunters” or assassin types previewed. Fans of the Eleventh Doctor on the Doctor Who TV series are particularly eager to watch the actress who played the beloved Amelia Pond—Karen Gillan—as the very futuristic looking alien assassin Nebula. Gillan even shaved her head for the role.
We don’t know how great Nebula’s role will be in the film, but she gets center spotlight in the first of two “prelude” comic book issues from Marvel Comics.
Like Darth Vader, Mara Jade, and Anakin Skywalker were subjects of the Emperor, we meet up first with Nebula as she is being guided by the villainous Thanos. And similar to the plot the previews have promised us for the new Tom Cruise summer release Edge of Tomorrow, this warrior fights and loses and is somehow recycled to live and fight on another day. Like Vader and Skywalker, Nebula, too, is part cybernetic.