Advertisements

Tag Archive: Benjamin Walker


Review by C.J. Bunce

Comic book fans saw an unprecedented 13 television series based in the Marvel Comics universe since Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2013.  Of those the six best produced of these landed on Netflix, beginning with Daredevil and Jessica Jones.  You’ll not likely find two people who can agree on which was best.  My #1 goes to Luke Cage, which went beyond the typical superhero turf to show a completely unique two seasons of stories.  I thought Daredevil offered nothing new, and The Punisher turned a ho-hum character into something exciting thanks primarily to the performance of actor Jon Bernthal.  The team-up The Defenders just couldn’t find chemistry between its members, and the best part of Iron Fist was Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing and appearances by Simone Missick’s Misty Knight and Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple.  Which brings us to the third and final season of Jessica Jones, the last of Netflix’s trip through the Marvel characters at least for the foreseeable future.

Jessica Jones started out promising, and that was no small feat considering the superhero was more anti-hero than the typical Marvel story.  Actor Krysten Ritter knew her character from her first episode, and in three seasons never veered from the moody, angry detective we first met in 2015.  Unfortunately, in three seasons the character never changed, unless even more moody, angry, and alone is enough.  The first season worked because Jones had to face a particularly unique and vile villain in David Tennant′s Kilgrave.  As he’s done with this year’s Good Omens, Tennant’s energy and intensity tends to elevate even the most bland material.  Season 2 of Jessica Jones had another interesting villain as Jones’ biological mother, played by Janet McTeer.  The third season?  It lacked a compelling villain at all, with Jeremy Bobb playing a Law & Order villain-of-the-week transplant fans were stuck with for an entire season (Bobb’s played guest Law & Order characters four times).  The actual villain was the one lurking the entire time, Carrie-Anne Moss′s dying lawyer and Jones’ former comrade in sleuthing, Jeri Hogarth.  Despite the talent of the actors, the story arc this season was flat.  The series begged for episodic tales, and instead it dragged what could have been a single episode story.  It’s Netflix ending on a sour note, and confirms new creators are needed to salvage what could be a great group of characters on the small screen.

The saving grace for the entire series, and the only reason to invest your time for all three seasons, is that it launched the character Hellcat.  Just like Jessica Jones introduced Mike Colter’s Luke Cage (who returns briefly to bookend the series) and Daredevil launched The Punisher, something bigger and better than the title hero arrived.  Upstaging the star, no character had a greater character arc than Rachael Taylor′s “messed-up” child star Patsy, grown up into Trish Walker, a human with powers, known as Hellcat in the comics and in the show’s credits.  The writers knew they had something good, showing her struggle to help her sister in the second season to become an equal during season three.  But they bungled it.  Trish was loyal to her sister, trying to do what every good superhero character tries–to create good for people and try not to get corrupted.  But the show tripped into the common superhero trap–superheroes, at least these superheroes, can’t cross the line of the law for any reason and kill the bad guy.  In this case, even if a serial killer continues to murder relentlessly, and even if the cops have practically given up trying to catch him, and the legal system has failed.  So how many opportunities are presented and skipped over by the characters?  A dozen?  And the result by Jones failing to let Trish act is–surprise–more dead bodies.  If Jessica Jones, the character, is about anything, isn’t it getting dirty to take down bad guys?  So why give her series this stale Superman/Batman/Green Arrow, etc. Boy Scout story?  The question of whether superheroes can ever kill is as overdone in the genre as origin stories, and completely unsatisfying as the only dilemma here.  Yet through it all Taylor as Trish/Hellcat was fantastic stuff.

Continue reading

Advertisements

In the world of the dark superhero universe you start with Alan Moore’s Watchmen and The Killing Joke, and you might pick up Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis, Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan, Garth Ennis’s Crossed, and if you go back a bit further you might pick up Jim Starlin’s Batman: A Death in the Family.  And you take another look at Tim Burton making Batman movies.  You also might stumble over Garth Ennis’s The Boys and Brian Michael Bendis’s Jessica Jones.  These last two comics are making their way to your television this summer, first with the return of Marvel’s Jessica Jones for its third season on Netflix as the swan song for all its Marvel series, and then Amazon Prime is stepping in with an adaptation of Ennis’s The Boys, dark in every other way that Jessica Jones isn’t.  Those are in addition to Brightburn, a movie written by the live-action superhero guru Gunn brothers about a kid with Superman powers who doesn’t use them for good.  Meaning lots of bloody gore and violence.  It’s still in theaters.

Our first trailer is for the final season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones Should it be a surprise that everything seems exactly as it was in the last season?  Is it enough that Krysten Ritter′s anti-hero conquers her demons one at a time?  Viewers want to cheer her on, to do anything to get happy in a dark and dreary real-life New York, but without development of her character beyond returning to the bottle and self-inflicted pain, we’re left to turn to other characters.  Thankfully that left her adopted sister Trish, played by Rachael Taylor, as last season’s real hero to root for.  But does Jeremy Bobb (Russian Doll) have a chance at filling in as next villain as Foolkiller after David Tennant’s performance as Kilgrave?  And why another new guy for Jones, bringing in Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) instead of Luke Cage or The Punisher?

The Boys is a different kind of dark, but in many ways it’s just another effort to do what Alan Moore did with Watchmen–deconstruct superheroes until they are only recognizable because of the capes and costumes.  So think of the depraved nature of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass, but add a multiplier.  Or if Watchmen was a normal school day, The Boys is Watchmen where the teenage kids take over.  The kids in this case include Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg as producers, so expect plenty of “adult language” aka expletives, and their typical brand of raunch and bodily fluids.   Is there a chance of some subtlety or nuance with these guys behind the series, or can we hope for something closer to Superbad?  The more promising elements in the trailer are found in the costumes (by Iron Man costume designer Laura Jean Shannon, Titans’ designer Joyce Schure, and Doom Patrol’s designer Carrie Grace) and the cast, including pop culture icon Karl Urban (Thor: Ragnarok, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Judge Dredd, Xena: Warrior Princess) and Erin Moriarty, who also starred on season one of Jessica Jones, Elizabeth Shue (The Karate Kid, Leaving Las Vegas), and Jennifer Esposito (Spin City, NCIS).

Take a look at these trailers for some of the darker edge of superheroes in genredom:

Continue reading

Ben Walker as Lincoln

Would the real Abraham Lincoln please stand up?

With all that has been written and all the photographs we have of Abraham Lincoln, moviemakers keep trying to convey their own visions of the one and true 16th U.S. president.  Americans have such a revered image of Lincoln that Hollywood has rarely portrayed him.  Famed director John Ford’s brother Francis played Lincoln in a 1913 production called When Lincoln Paid.  In 1930 Walter Huston, father of famed director John Huston, portrayed Lincoln in D.W. Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln.  But the two best-known and best-loved performances were by Henry Fonda in John Ford’s 1939 production of Young Mr. Lincoln, and Raymond Massey in 1940’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois.  In 2012 we saw two major movies with Lincoln as the lead character, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln starring Oscar nominee Daniel Day-Lewis, and Benjamin Walker as a younger Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  The latter was dismissed by critics as fluff for the most part, instead heaping praise on the big Spielberg film.  This is unfortunate, because in any other year Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter might have received a better reception.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter poses the purely fantasy idea that Abe Lincoln was not only a politician and patriot but an apprentice hunter cleaning up the countryside to avoid the spread of vampires throughout the U.S. before and during the Civil War.  Gettysburg wasn’t just about conquering the Southern rebellion, it was about defeating the vampire-laden confederacy.

abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter

Where Daniel Day-Lewis opted to play Lincoln as craggy and gruff, more so than Raymond Massey portrayed him in Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Benjamin Walker’s take is much closer to Henry Fonda’s pleasant and forthright everyman from Young Mr. Lincoln.  Despite Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter offering up an admittedly male, historical version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, director Timur Bekmambetov went well beyond what you’d normally find in a film so blatantly tied to a gimmick, that of screenwriter/novelist Seth Grahame-Smith following up his earlier well-received mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  In fact, pushing aside for a moment the vampire hunting, the film offers an admirable view of the president, and in particular his relationship with Mary Todd.  And that is saying a lot for a film that is part axe-waving and vampire killing.

Continue reading

In the vein of the recent barrage of gimmicky novels where classics are twisted into modern horror genre works, we have a new movie coming soon to a theater near you: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Two trailers premiered for the movie this week, and I think the first one, the international trailer, is slightly better:

What I see from the novel is what is not there.  That voice-over is the late Johnny Cash from an old audio recording.   We don’t get a good look at young actor Benjamin Walker speaking as Lincoln and I think there is a reason–he doesn’t look or sound anything like Lincoln.  Once you get past the title you realize that all this has going for it is a title.  Whereas making a book like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies mixes up classic characters with strange modern horror ideas, this one deals with a real human.  I think that will be jarring for audiences, even though Lincoln is many generations removed from us.  What we see of Lincoln is very strange, especially his movement.  I think the Sacagawea ad showing her as a museum exhibit, or the robot Lincoln at Disney World, are more animated than this guy (and look better):

The strange slow motion dance moves remind me of Gary Oldman’s creepy vampire minions in Dracula mixed with The Matrix.  Aren’t we all bored by that slow motion action by now?

Here is the American version of the trailer:

It doesn’t look like a Tim Burton picture, but more like he lent his name to help the film, much like all those “Steven Spielberg Executive Producer” films that never are of the calibre of true Spielberg movies.  The fact that they had to use Johnny Cash’s voice makes me think the actor playing Lincoln doesn’t have the voice well enough to show us in a preview.  And where are all the vampires?  I see guys in 1800s suits swinging stuff around but no clear vampires.

What’s with the image of modern day Washington, DC?

Wouldn’t it be cooler to show DC in a preview as it looked in 1861-1865?

The only thing I see going for this one is Rufus Sewell, our past best candidate for the next James Bond after Daniel Craig leaves the role behind.  He doesn’t get high billing or featured in the trailer, either.   Just too many oddities lend some real doubt to this movie going anywhere beyond its catchy title.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com