Tag Archives: Zack Synder

ZACK SNYDER V COMPETENT FILMMAKING

28 Mar

Morena-Baccarin-Photoshoot-by-Robert-Ascroft-2013-morena-baccarin-35411576-748-1000

1. Batman v Superman/WB                 Wknd/$170.1   Total/$ 170.1
2. Zootopia/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 23.1    Total/$ 240.5
3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2/Uni  Wknd/$ 18.1    Total/$ 18.1
4. Miracles from Heaven/TriStar       Wknd/$ 9.5      Total/$ 34.1
5. Divergent: Allegiant/LG                    Wknd/$ 9.5     Total/$ 46.6
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount      Wknd/$ 6.0    Total/$ 56.0
7. Deadpool/Paramount                         Wknd/$ 5.0    Total/$ 349.5
8. London Has Fallen/Focus                 Wknd/$ 2.9    Total/$ 55.6
9. Hello, My Name is Doris/RA             Wknd/$ 1.7    Total/$ 3.3
10. Eye in the Sky/BST                            Wknd/$ 1.0    Total/$ 1.7

GREED V CHARACTERS: DAWN OF A FRANCHISE
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice opens at number one to no one’s surprise. Also not surprising? It’s goddamned awful that way that only a CGI heavy muddle by a hack director like Snyder can be. The movie exists for one reason only: to make Superman and Batman fight, so they wrote it ass backwards trying to come up with reasons to make this happen and they do a horrible job of it. The movie is strongly inspired by the best-selling Batman comics ever: The Dark Knight Returns, which is set in a future where Batman is little more than a psychotic thug and Superman is a government stooge and at its climax Batman beats a weakened Superman who is honestly trying not to hurt him. I have to give the book credit for brilliantly tapping into the not-so-secret longstanding resentment of many for Superman. Simply put, he’s the status quo, the establishment. He’s everything that makes your angry teen-self feel powerless. Your parents, your teachers, the cops…etc. While Batman is literally powerless (unless you count money which makes him the most powerful superhero). Having the “powerless” character defeat the all-powerful character resonated so strongly, the status quo of DC Comics was forever changed and Superman & Batman were no longer best friends, but antagonistic. Frenemies at best. Also, the book sold millions, which never happens, so DC followed the money, which means for the better part of the last 30 years aside from continually making them fight, Batman has also been a near psychotic. Most of these stories are godawful, but all of those stories are better than this one, which involves Lex Luthor (played as “autistic evil” by Jesse Eiesenberg) hating Superman for no real reason and wanting him both disgraced and dead. Meanwhile, Superman has been doing good deeds since accidentally bringing the Kryptonian Civil War to Earth and causing the deaths of thousands. But apparently he has never once spoken to the people he’s protecting as he continues to be a miserable bastard tormented by the fact that some people still don’t like him. If only he knew someone in the media that he could convey what he was all about. Oh, right HE’S A FUCKING REPORTER! HE COULD DO IT ANYTIME HE WANTS TO! Meanwhile, in Gotham city—which in this film is located across the bay from Metropolis basically making it the Oakland to Metropolis’ San Francisco—Batman has apparently been around for 20 years and in that time Wayne Manor has been destroyed, a Robin has been killed and Batman now has no problem literally branding people when he’s not flat out shooting them down with the machine guns in his Batmobile and Batplane. If the reasons why Luthor hates Superman make no sense, neither does the seeming obsession of Clark Kent with Batman. Thousands are dead, half the world hates him, the government is holding hearings about him, but he’s concerned about the civil liberties being trampled in Gotham City. At least Batman’s resentment of Superman is somewhat legit. Some of thousands of people are dead were employees of Wayne Enterprises and in one of the few effective sequences we see the final moments from Man of Steel from the perspective of Bruce Wayne on the ground. And while his resent of Superman is valid, his psychotic need to cut his head off (which he literally tries to do in the battle that takes far too long to happen) does not. Very little of this film does. And it commits the worst sin imaginable: it’s dull. But again, most of Snyder’s films are, though supposedly action films. Man of Steel was dull. Sucker Punch was dull. Because he thinks he’s a real filmmaker he tries to have scenes were people do things besides fight, only they make no sense. And with the exception of Wonder Woman’s five-minute appearance (which is as badass as it is great) even the fights are dull and if that’s the case, this film has no reason to exist whatsoever. But again, it’s not really a movie is it? It’s just a launching platform for other movies and while Marvel/Disney is equally guilty of sacrificing a film to set up for others (both Thors, half of Captain America and even part of Avengers Age of Ultron) at least they are still capable of making a half-decent movie around it. DC/WB clearly are not.

IT’S CALLED STICKING WITH A BIT
Zootopia is down to number two and outside of the race & gender allegory it’s creating, there are still honest and funny jokes in the film and none so much as the now famous sloth one. That sloths run the DMV is near brilliant in its obvious simplicity, but what makes the joke work it is that they stick with it. At no point do they create some excuse that can make the sloths go faster. No, the audience has to wait alongside the characters and it is hysterical. And while he’s great as the straight man usually, Jason Bateman has a smarm to him as well that works perfectly as the voice of the fox and he clearly enjoys playing the other side of the fence for once.

MY BIG FAT GREEK DESPERATION
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens at number three and clearly God hates everyone to have both this and Batman v Superman opening in the same week. No matter what movie you choose, it’s going to be crap made by the incompetent. The first Big Fat Greek Wedding was like Batman v Superman: godawful, stupid and incredibly successful (I’m stunned to realize it got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay when it was only one of those things). Based on what I’ve seen in the commercials and trailers, this is going to get at least two of those down solid. Nia Vardalos has been trying for years to follow that up with a failed TV series (My Big Fat Greek Life) a reteaming with John Corbett (I Hate Valentine’s Day) and revisiting the Greek thing (My Life in Ruins). I hate to knock anyone’s hustle, but girlfriend, it’s time to move the fuck on. I’m sorry Tom Hanks and his wife got all the money the first time around, but you had your moment, you took your shot and you failed. Accept you’re someone’s sidekick and Move. On.

SHE NEEDED SOME JESUS
Miracles from Heaven is down to number four and if you’re wondering why these Christian movies are getting more mainstream Hollywood people in them you need to look at who they’re getting. They’re not getting Ben Affleck who’s winning Oscars and starring in attempted billion dollar franchises. They’re getting his soon-t0-be ex-wife who does credit card commercials and needed the comfort of the lord something fierce this past year. She said she started taking the kids to church after making this movie but let’s not kid ourselves. We know what make you look for meaning in all this and it wasn’t some dumb Christian propaganda movie. It was your husband banging the honestly less-attractive nanny. And the whole world knowing it.

SAY IT WITH ME: THE WORLD IS MADE FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK SELF-AWARENESS
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is down to number five and I’m as surprised to see this still going on as you are because I confused it with The Hunger Games like everyone else. What’s funny is that star Shailene Woodley tries to act like we’re being strange to connect her to Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and you’re not a tall, attractive 20-something blonde who has drawn raves in small indie films while headlining a Young Adult franchise based on a dystopian future where you’re the chosen on who leads a rebellion? No, honey. The difference is Jennifer Lawrence has four Oscar nominations and one win. You have a one Golden Globe nomination…that you didn’t win.

SERIOUSLY, I HATE YOU ALL
10 Cloverfield Lane is down to number six and this has been successful so I guess we’re going to get more of this Cloverfield shit. I hate you all for making it possible.

TALENT, SCHMALENT. SHE’S SO PURTY.
Deadpool is down to number seven and also in this is Morena Baccarin who is like Ryan Reynolds in that she’s a really pretty person that everyone seems to know whose success in Hollywood should be a foregone conclusion, but like him this is actually her biggest success happening a decade after you thought it would. That she should have been Maria Hill in The Avengers movies must be a little easier to bear now.

MADRID HAS FALLEN…OH, IT’S JUST SIESTA. NEVER MIND.
London Has Fallen is down to number eight and all you need to know about this movie is that at one point it turns into a video game. Seriously. It turns into a first person shooter as you are Gerard Butler and follow his POV into the action and like a video game, no bullets or shrapnel ever seem to hit him. Thankfully, it hasn’t even made budget yet so no other capitals will fall in the future. What? Were you really looking forward to Paris Has Fallen? Rome Has Fallen? Tokyo Has Fallen? Actually they could do it, just with different characters in each location. Come to think of it, this film would have been infinitely better with no connection with Olympus Has Fallen and just been about a James Bond-like agent dealing with similar circumstances in London. Butler almost does it as his Scottish accent becomes more and more apparent as the film drags on.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY IS REAL, YO
Hello My Name Is Doris actually rises to number nine and I’m happy for Sally Field getting this at this stage of the game. But we know that if the genders were reversed and it was a 60-something dude longing for a 30-something female he’d actually get to bang her and he’d rock her world. Or am I the only person who remembers how charming so many critics found Burt Lancaster lusting after Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City? Or most of Michael Douglas’ casting decisions, period?

I MEAN IT, FUCK THAT MOVIE
Finally, Eye In The Sky rises to number ten to remind you that every day we kill innocent people every time we try to kill a terrorist with a drone strike, which reminds me again of the end of London Has Fallen where such a strike is the cause of all the trouble and also the climax you’re supposed to cheer. Seriously, fuck that movie.

PA KENT: THE MOVIE
Midnight Special isn’t in the top ten but it’s basically Superman from the point of view of The Kents. It’s about 10-year-old boy in Texas who has special powers and his father trying to protect him from the government who wants him badly. Okay, it’s not as nice as The Kents in the comics as the father here (played by Michael Shannon who was ironically Zod in Man of Steel) actually is willing to shoot a state trooper simply because he’s in their way because his on is “More important.” In that way he’s closer the horrible Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel who is willing to let a bus filled with children die, but when it comes down to it, he can’t kill someone who might (and actually does) give them away. Also, the mother and father here (mom is Kirsten Dunst) were part of some kind of religious cult run by Sam Shepard that became centered around the boy when his powers began to manifest (Shepard actually took the boy to raise for two years as his own), so they’re a little darker than The Kents. What they do share is a clear an unconditional love for their “special” son with absolutely no fear of him and will do whatever they need to do in order to protect him, even though he clearly possesses amazing powers (at one point the boy downs a military satellite). And if you don’t think it’s not intentional, know that at one point the boy is reading a Superman comic. It could be a little tighter given it’s essentially a chase film (thy aren’t just running from the authorities but the armed cultists who what the boy back as they think Judgment Day is coming) in the era of drones and satellites and amber alerts where running unnoticed is seriously difficult but a satisfying little film nonetheless.

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THIS! IS! CRAP!

9 Mar

300

 1. 300: Rise of an Empire/Warner            Wknd/$  45.1            Total/$  45.1

 2. Mr. Peabody & Sherman/Fox                Wknd/$  32.5            Total/$  32.5

 3. Non-Stop/Universal                                 Wknd/$  15.4            Total/$  52.1

 4. The LEGO Movie/WB                             Wknd/$   11.0            Total/$ 225.0

 5. Son of God/Fox                                         Wknd/$  10.0            Total/$  41.5

 6. The Monuments Men/Sony                    Wknd/$    3.1            Total/$   70.6

 7. 3 Days To Kill/Relativity                          Wknd/$    3.1            Total/$   25.6 6.

 8. Frozen/Disney                                           Wknd/$    3.0            Total/$ 393.1

 9. 12 Years A Slave/FoxSearchlight            Wknd/$    2.2            Total/$   53.1

10. Ride Along/Universal                               Wknd/$    4.7            Total/$  123.2

 

IF THIS WERE A ROCK STAR IT’D BE DAVID COVERDALE

300: Rise of an Empire opens at number one and before seeing this, 21st Century Movie Buddy and I had a few drinks.  Now, when I say “before” I mean I smuggled a 32 oz container of hard cider with a few shots of whiskey in it into the theater. That 32 ounces was not enough tells you all you need to know. 300 was not a good movie, but it was at least fun to watch and not boring. In addition to not being good, this is not fun to watch and is mostly boring; the trifecta of suck.  In a weird way this almost validates crap filmmakers like Michael Bay and Zack Synder much in the same way the $50M attempted makeover of Jessica Simpson into a dance pop princess validated Brittney Spears: it’s harder than it looks (it ended Tommy Mottola’s tenure at Sony). No, it’s not art but some kind of effective skill is clearly needed.  Needless to say director Noam Murro lacks these skills. Yes, he’s hobbled by Zack Synder still writing and producing, but his previous effort was a talking head movie with Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid called Smart People and that wasn’t much good either, so his skills are questionable in any arena.  In actual history while Leonidas and the 300 (not to mention twice the number of slaves and additional Greeks, so the number was closer to 5,000) were fighting on land, there was another war being waged at sea by Themistocles, which he won. While Athens itself actually burned, the people themselves had been evacuated, the culture survived and the Persians were finally stopped a year later in the battle that’s about to start at the end of 300. This was supposedly going to be that story…except it’s not.  It’s so desperate to tie itself to 300, it forgets to be its own film (they even open like the first with a narration telling you that the hero of the story is the person who partially caused the trouble and it is equally erroneous).  Basically every actor from 300 they could get to make an appearance is here. Xerxes, the queen, the guy who was sent back, the emissary who was thrown into the pit, even the hunchback.  Sadly, all played by the original actors whom you think would have moved on to better things and been able to say no. Even Lena Headey who has enjoyed a bump thanks to Game of Thrones is here (then again, she’s in the middle of a messy divorce and probably needed the cash).  Even the physiques of the male actors, for which the first film is most famous, is inferior. They couldn’t even get a trainer as good as the first. Now that’s just sad.

 

THIS TRICK NEVER WORKS

Mr. Peabody and Sherman opens at number two and while I hold a special place in my heart for these characters and was considering seeing it I ultimately gave it a pass because as part of the Jay Ward universe of Rocky & Bullwinkle and George of the Jungle the heart of the humor was the self-aware satire.  They mocked their cheap animation as world much as they were part of it.  This a $145M CGI feature. Not much to mock there.  Well, actually there’s a lot to mock about spending $145M on a near 50-year-old cartoon that wasn’t even title character (it was part of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show), but the trailer shows they aren’t even trying. This kind of misses the point to me, but I will watch when it shows up on cable next year.

 

BABY, SHE’S A STAR

Non Stop is down to number three and shouldn’t they be broadcasting that it also stars Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o?  Strike the iron while it’s hot, kids. In fact, between Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Lupita, there’s a boatload of all kinds of nominations and awards…and more people will see this than any of those films that earned them.  Same for Liam Neeson’s other film on this top ten, The Lego Movie, now down to number four. Real talk.

 

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL

Son of God is down to number five, followed by The Monuments Men at number six and Three Days to Kill at number seven and also in this is Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld who is learning as Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore have that nominations are nice, but they pay for jack shit.  Gotta do the popcorn movies too. Though hopefully better ones than this. Liam Neeson will always need someone to play his kids that are threatened so he can whoop some ass.

 

LEMONS FROM LEMONADE

Surprisingly Frozen got no Oscar bump from wining Best Animated Film. I’m sure the fact that the Academy utterly screwed up Idina Menzel’s performance didn’t help her.  Not only did they rush her, but also a verse was clearly cut.  The Roots did better with children’s instruments on The Tonight Show. Fortunately for her that was all overlooked thanks to John Travolta screwing up her name, which actually put her name on everyone’s lips the next day.

 

LIKE A WELL-MADE VEGETARIAN DISH; GOOD FOR YOU TO EAT, BUT YOU ‘D PREFER NOT TO MAKE A HABIT OF IT

12 Years a Slave did get a bounce for its Oscar wins back into the top ten at number nine. Now I said when it came out this was the type of film I’d probably see only if it got Oscars nominations and even then only on the day of.  That’s how I did Schindler’s List and this was the same. It’s good. It’s very good, but it’s difficult to watch for reasons you might expect. Accurate depictions of slave conditions will never be G-rated or for the weak of stomach and sadly, many of the things that transpire were taken directly from the book written by Solomon Northrup. I can’t really fault anyone for wanting to take a pass for that very reason, though like Schindler’s List when it’ s this good it’s something you need to do…and then you have a built-in excuse not to see any others.

 

MUCH LIKE THAT COFFEE, PEOPLE COMPLAIN, BUT THEY KEEP BUYING

Finally, Ride Along hangs on like a freaking barnacle. I blame the endless winter.  Cabin fever forces people to leave their homes, but the cold means they have to find another place to keep warm.  And it’s cheaper than Starbucks.

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