“The Mind Is A Fragile Thing. It Takes Only The Slightest To Tip In The Wrong Direction…”
With Avengers: Endgame showing forevermore how to successfully handle a blockbuster, superhero franchise which not only pretty much exceeded the expectations of obsessive fans across the globe, myself included, but ticked the boxes many times over in both the critical and financial categories, here we are no more than a month and a half later with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, 20th Century Fox’s own “endgame” which brings to a messy conclusion, the entire X-Men franchise which began all the way back at the start of the century with a movie which in retrospect, could be argued as being the kickstarter for the comic-heavy filmic universe we find ourselves in today. With the X-Men cinematic universe being handled with less delicacy as the MCU, it’s fair to say that Dark Phoenix arrives with little hype or expectation, a concluding chapter that screams with half volume a fond farewell to the alternative universe of our familiar mutated characters first introduced in X-Men: First Class, revived excellently in the franchise best, Days of Future Past, and once again in the not-so great but still watchable, Apocalypse, and with the movie attempting to revive the titular and very well regarded “Dark Phoenix Saga” from the original comics which was somewhat soiled in the franchise low, X-Men: The Last Stand, the final chapter in Fox’s almost twenty year franchise is indeed a solid, by-the-numbers superhero blockbuster, but that’s pretty much it.
As per the standard of most cinematic franchises, Dark Phoenix ultimately works or doesn’t work depending on how much you personally bring to it, and whilst I do not hold Fox’s own superhero franchise with anywhere near as much regard as I do with the MCU, I can claim to bear a slight relationship with the film’s central characters, with the likes of McAvoy (Filth), Fassbender (Shame) and Jennifer Lawrence (mother!) each returning in their respective roles, yet where the movie ultimately fails is in its’ approach to both the sloppy introduction of new characters, particularly Jessica Chastain’s (Zero Dark Thirty) criminally underdeveloped leading villain, and the wider universe, with timelines now completely out of whack and the effect of the predecessing movies having less of an impact when watching in retrospect. With sloppy dialogue and a highly predictable plot, Dark Phoenix is ultimately saved by the Phoenix herself, with Sophie Turner of Game of Thrones fame giving the best big screen performance of her career so far, outshining her elder Hollywood colleagues who in all honesty, seem to be waiting for the franchise to end in order to collect their well earned bonuses, and whilst a film which starts with a car crash is somewhat begging for certain similarities to be made, Dark Phoenix is by no means the worst superhero movie in the world, it just happens to be one of the more forgettable. See ya, X-Men…
Overall Score: 6/10
“My Name Is Miles Morales. I’m The One And Only Spider-Man. At Least That’s What I Thought…”
With the superhero genre reaching some sort of unprecedented cinematic peak in 2018 with the likes of Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War in particular reminding that even in a climate stuffed with familiar tales of heroism, there are still many tales left to be told, the last month of the year has reserved just a few more before returning once again with a new handful of highly anticipated releases come 2019. Produced by the successful American pairing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the first of two big comic releases this month is of course, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a barmy and maniacal addition into its’ respective genre which continues the recent success of the pair’s ventures into animation after the likes of the rather excellent The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, with a movie which utilises the versatile figure of Marvel’s web-slinging cash cow for a dazzlingly designed superhero adventure which attempts to offer something slightly different to the same old comic-based routine many of us are well and truly used to. With a gorgeously orchestrated animated design and some snappy comedic dialogue, Into the Spider-Verse is an entertaining if slightly functional Marvel addition, offering some of the best visual splendour available this year but suffering ever so heavily from an overstretched running time which does unfortunately begin to test the patience as it ticks just under the two hour mark.
With an overly familiar Lord/Miller tongue-in-cheek sensibility running through the central core of the film, Into the Spider-Verse begins by poking fun at the varying cliches attached to the superhero genre, particularly in regards to the many origin-based stories and similar cinematic developments of Spider-Man himself since the turn of the twentieth century, and with a clear understanding that many in the audience will undoubtedly be comic obsessives themselves, the snappy dialogue and in-house running gags prove effective, even when the core storyline does strangely end up falling right into the familiar superhero plot devices the script finds joy in making fun out of. With the central appeal of the movie hanging on two key factors, the first of which being the jerky, stylised animation which more than ever before seems to be a direct three dimensional transition of the comics from paper to screen, and the second of course being the chance to see radically different versions of the Spider-Man character all appear together on-screen in order to combat the central threat of the larger than life, Wilson Fisk, the question remains whether such selling points actually benefit the movie as a whole or are simply nothing more than cinematic gimmicks. In the case of the animation, a high proportion of it is indeed spectacular to behold on the big screen, with sweeping, soaring wide screen views of an animated New York really quite breathtaking, but as the movie moves into its’ predictable climax, the overreliance on stuffy, messy and maniacal splashes of pixelated colour brings the film on par with Teen Titans! Go To The Movies in terms of the headache inducing pain your eyes endure before the credits ultimately roll, but with a stellar supporting voice cast including the likes of Hailee Steinfield, (True Grit) Nicholas Cage, (Mandy) and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Into the Spider-Verse is an entertaining, if flawed, sugar rush of a movie with enough to like to counteract the migraine you may obtain after watching it.
Overall Score: 6/10
“Look In My Eyes, Eddie. The Way I See It, We Can Do Whatever We Want. Do We Have A Deal…?”
With Topher Grace’s long-awaited big screen portrayal of Eddie Brock/Venom in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 opening to a rather mixed response from critics and fans alike, eleven years later, Marvel aficionados finally have the chance to witness a “true” depiction of a character renowned for allowing a more darkened approach to the notion of what makes a “superhero” with the simply named, Venom, which sees Tom Hardy (Dunkirk) take the leading role of the investigative journalist who quickly becomes infested with an alien parasite with a knack for murder and a constant hunger for human flesh. Helmed behind the camera by Zombieland director, Ruben Fleischer, Venom is the latest 15-rated Marvel release after the likes of Deadpool, its’ recent, and better, sequel, and the ever-impressive and staggeringly violent Logan, and whilst not strictly under the bracket of the Marvel Cinematic Universe due to Sony Pictures still reserving the rights to the Venom character amongst others not yet hooked into Kevin Feige’s land of visceral wonder, Fleischer’s movie has been touted as the kickstarter to a fresh new comic franchise or “shared universe” which reportedly has enough love and support from the MCU to be green-lighted in a day and age when, let’s face it, comic-based movies are more constant than time itself.
In a similar way to the Tom Cruise led The Mummy however, a film which seemingly rendered the so-called “Dark Universe” dead in its’ tracks, Venom is equally as messy, convoluted and downright disappointing, a move so wildly inconsistent in tone you wonder if the BBFC were bribed in order to make the film seem darker than it actually is by slapping a 15 rating on top of it, and with all the discussion regarding the dark-natured antithesis of a character such as Venom alongside the success of more “adult” themed comic movies in recent times, Venom is thoroughly and fundamentally frustrating due to a obvious sense of indecision from the filmmakers to head in one tonal direction or the other. Because of this, Venom as a film simply cannot handle the constant switch of tone, ranging from trashy horror to comedy whilst remembering the need for woefully dull CGI action set pieces because of its’ place in the superhero genre, and with underdeveloped, indistinguishable characters, the waste of brilliant talent including Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) and Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea) is filmic sacrilege of the highest order. With Hardy trying his best to inject some life into the character, it is the Brit’s performance which sort of makes parts of the movie worthwhile, with the constant bickering interchanges between himself and the growling voice of the infested symbiote sporadically entertaining, but upon leaving Venom, the previous hour and a half ultimately felt meaningless and forgettable, resulting in returning home to admire Netflix’s Daredevil, a comic adaptation with a much darker, much more complex and rewarding tone than anything within Venom, a movie with so much potential which has ended up just bland and cliched. Shame.
Overall Score: 4/10
“When I’m Done, Half Of Humanity Will Still Exist. Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be…”
Following the release of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man exactly ten years ago, the culmination of plot threads, narrative developments and vast array of characters which have encompassed the Marvel Cinematic Universe since then have all led in the direction of Avengers: Infinity War, the latest gargantuan superhero romp which sees each of the major Marvel characters of the past ten years come together and join forces in order to thwart the oncoming threat of Josh Brolin’s (Sicario) ominous Thanos, who vows to collect each of the Infinity Stones, six immensely powerful alien artefacts, in order to bend the universe to his evil and genocidal will. With the hype train well and truly steaming ahead, the anticipation for Infinity War is unprecedented within the realms of superhero cinema, and with a extensively star studded cast list and the directing duo of Anthony and Joe Russo at the helm, whose previous credits of course include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, expectations from audiences and critics alike are resoundingly off the charts. Thankfully, what the Russo’s have manged to achieve with Infinity War is a staggering, operatic work of spectacle and heartbreaking drama, a film, which on paper had no right to succeed, but has somehow resulted in the most rewarding, magical and downright jaw-dropping Marvel superhero experience in the MCU so far.
With two and a half hours worth of plot to dissect, Infinity War essentially breaks down into a quartet of individual narrative channels, with Earth being the base for the character band lead by Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, space being the battleground for both the Guardians of the Galaxy subplot and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark own personal quest, and the entire universe being the backdrop for Brolin’s Thanos who travels from planet to planet leaving behind a cold, calculated and murderous path as he collects the all-powerful Infinity Stones. With the MCU struggling in the past to effectively conjure up groundbreaking and well-rounded villains, the introduction of Thanos follows in the footsteps of Black Panther‘s Killmonger by refusing to bow down to simply cannon fodder for superhero stardom and instead is the surprising central character of the piece, with the script superbly managing to highlight the character’s genocidal plan with some degree of purpose whilst at the same time introducing flaws and elements of empathy, particularly in the stand-out conversations between himself and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. Of course, with purple CGI muscles, a band of merry followers known as the Black Order and the Infinity Gauntlet in hand, the real power of the character is evidenced to an alarming degree too, with surprising character deaths by his own hand and a dedicated reluctance to fail, resulting in explosive action set pieces which both never seem to outstay their welcome and a include too a perilous sense of threat for everyone involved which the franchise up to now was thoroughly lacking.
Of course, with so many characters and so little time spared on deep characterisation aside from the film’s leading antagonist, particular individuals do become somewhat by-products of a larger endgame, particularly those involved in the drama taking place on Earth and specifically, Wakanda, but with eighteen previous stories worth of backstory and development behind it, Infinity War isn’t designed to further character arcs and instead is there to tie up the development already achieved and offer long-awaited fan service for which it undenaibly achieves. Whether it’s the banter fuelled dialogue between Tony Stark and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange or the egotistical match-up between Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, amidst all the grandiose drama, Infinity War still manages to hold onto the razor-sharp comedic puns the franchise is renowned for without ever feeling cheesy or stupid enough to lose its’ dramatic edge, and whilst the best moments are undoubtedly in the other-worldly realms in which Downey Jr. and Pratt are present, the film as a whole balances its’ monumental premise with staggering ease. Of course, with Infinity War only part one of a much bigger design, there is a resounding sense of payoff not yet being ripely achieved, but with a ground-breaking, melancholic and brazen concluding scene which rips up the cinematic blockbuster rule book completely, the year long wait for the concluding chapter is of course undeniably agonising, but one which if continuing the success of Infinity War, will undoubtedly be an experience to savour.
Overall Score: 8/10
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After months of waiting, Telltale have finally released a trailer for their upcoming series of the Guardians of the Galaxy which has received a very mixed response.
Watch it here!
It appears that Telltale have stepped away from their iconic art style that’s prevalent in The Walking Dead and Borderlands releases and opted for a style similar to Disney’s Infinity games. As a fan of the developers, I prefer the scratchy and darker hues that Telltale have demonstrated and feel like GotG is going to be commercially driven – similar to the Minecraft series. We see the emulation of the property owners styles to fit into the mainstream expectations of the younger, more mainstream audiences rather than the comic book fans and hardcore fan bases. The characters appear very long and slender with a lot of block based colours and little defining features to portray itself as a Telltale game.
In all honestly, i feel the trailer demonstrates nothing of significant value. The action and comedy factors that underpin that Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t showing through and it feels more of a show reel of that characters we will be seeing through the 5 episode series.
What do you think of the trailers, are you excited or as wary as us? Let us know in the comment section down below!
Marvel are finally returning to the PC/Console gaming realm! (Although we are getting Guardians of the Galaxy by Telltale SOON) A trailer released on the 26th details the brand new partnership between the two industry giants depicting the Avengers weaponry and tools scattered across a devastated landscape.
So what exactly does this mean? Well first of all we are getting a number of games over the next few years. The first release is rumoured to be a Spider-man game in 2018 BUT this is more likely the Sony release that has been floating around. Secondly, its going to look hella’ pretty and will quite possibly be in tune with the current MCU.
Watch the trailer here!
What do you think of this news? Any Marvel heroes you want to see get their own game?
“I Was There To Spark And Fan The Flame of Man’s Awakening, To Spin The Wheel of Civilisation…”
Like the complete cinematic geek I am, Tuesday night at my local world of cine offered the chance to not only witness the midnight showing of the latest Marvel offering but to watch a riveting triple header of mutant goodness beginning with X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past and then leading smoothly into the UK release of X-Men: Apocalypse, the newest feature from the mind of Bryan Singer, the worldwide proclaimed saviour of all things X-Men when it comes to the big-screen after the superhero mess which was The Last Stand. I mean come on, Vinnie Jones? Watching all three on the big-screen once again gave the opportunity to see who was victorious in the realms of mutant supremacy and after watching almost seven hours of Marvel mayhem, I can safely say that Apocalypse is most definitely not the best of the X-Men canon, with that torch still indeed belonging to the far superior Days of Future Past, and in a month where the release of Captain America: Civil War emphasised the staying power of a franchise as gargantuan as the MCU, X-Men: Apocalypse is somewhat of a let-down, a let-down with a whole lot of CGI destruction intertwined with moments of greatness which only remind you how previous entries into the X-Men canon have been in the past.
Amongst the crazy amount of plot lines thrown into Apocalypse, including the introduction to a young Jean Grey and Scott Summers, played by Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan respectively, our ever-growing team of mutants led by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), now living life in the early 1980’s, soon have to face the growing threat of the powerful Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the world’s first mutant, who has risen from his tomb after centuries of being preserved and hidden from the outside world. Capturing the powers of Magneto (Michael Fassbender) as well as a young Storm (Alexandria Shipp) to fuel his destruction, Apocalypse believes the only way to save the Earth is to first destroy it and recreate it in his own image. Cue CGI mayhem and major mutant face-offs, intertwined with rather rushed introductions to a wide range of new mutants, Apocalypse almost seems the complete opposite of Civil War, a film which rather brilliantly manages to juggle its’ eye-watering cast and the introduction of new players, with the former struggling to keep up with the extraordinary demands it places upon itself.
One of the main reasons Apocalypse falters in this regard is the titular Apocalypse, a villain with only a shallow background to start him off and a motive of destruction which seems flawed to say the least. Add into the fact it was difficult to look at the character without laughing due to the rather rubbery amount of make-up leathered on Oscar Isaac, an actor of whom I would pay to watch in anything I might add, and Apocalypse can only be regarded as having the worst villain of the series so far. Even Kevin Bacon was better. A re-hash of the slow-motion Quicksilver scene from Days of Future Past halfway through the film only strengthens the claim that after four films in the directorial chair, Bryan Singer may indeed be running out of ideas on the mutant front with Apocalypse seemingly being the end point for the man who began the franchise all the way back in 2000. As Jean Grey states after a trip to watch Return of the Jedi during the course of the film, “the third film is always the worst”, and ironically, Apocalypse adheres to this assumption rather disappointingly. Civl War, you are still in the lead.
Overall Score: 6/10
Dan – With my local multiplex offering the chance to watch a preview screening of Marvel’s new offering in the form of Fantastic Four, a reboot of the widely panned Chris Evans/Jessica Alba films released ten and eight years ago respectively, it was one of the rare occasions in which I went into a high-profile release without a sense of whether it was set to be a masterpiece or a complete turkey due to the miracle that is social media, something of which I believe results in a much more reliable and fresh opinion in one’s opinion of that film. One thing that has always impressed me about the abundance of Marvel movie releases and the subsequent Cinematic Universe, harking back to the release of Iron Man in 2008, is that throughout its long list of releases, all the films within such a universe have always tended to be in the positive spectrum when it comes to a critical stance, where although some are much better than others (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy), nearly all have also been rather solid, if rather formulaic, without one seemingly sticking out and declaring itself as the black sheep of the bunch. With the release of Fantastic Four however, although not being a part of the MCU in terms of the bigger picture, it seems that this particular run of good Marvel fortune has seemingly come to an end, with Josh Trank’s reboot being a complete mess from beginning to end, resulting in a movie on par with the widely panned original releases ten years previous.
When boy genius Reed Richards (Miles Teller, Whiplash) is given the opportunity to further his studies into the boundaries between parallel dimensions by Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards), he and his team of like-minded scientists including Sue Storm (Kate Mara, House of Cards), Johnny Storm (Micheal B. Jordan, Chronicle) and the reluctant Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell, Dead Man’s Shoes) successfully gain access to the parallel world known simply as “Planet Zero”. One drunken night, Reed, Johnny, Victor and close friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell, Jumper), decide to be the first to venture into the unknown plant and inadvertently witness Victor seemingly fall to his death, whilst bringing back with them a range of powers that have not only changed their own genetic structure, but that of Sue who was attempting to help them return from Planet Zero. With their new-found powers and abilities, the team not only must adjust to their radical changes, but the threat of impending doom from something they thought they had once lost but has now returned with a vengeance. So, in terms of the premise of Fantastic Four, it is pretty much what we all expected, with a redesign of the origin of our four main heroes and an influence of their biggest enemy, Doctor Doom, in an attempt to give them their first taste of heroism, all of which was given away in the rather overplayed trailers. So with a solid, if rather unsurprising, story to helm it, Fantastic Four was never set to be anything as good as previous superhero entries but the completed picture can only be classed as something of a complete disaster with a wide range of faults and issues that succeed only in making it one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far.
With recent superhero movies attempting to redesign the notion of what such a film entails, helped by the success, both critically and financially of The Dark Knight trilogy, Fantastic Four seemingly has decided to completely disregard such ideas, with the added depth that has been highly prevalent in recent comic-related movies missing entirely, resulting in characters that I don’t overly care for and a story that is completely off the chains to say the least in terms of its’ narrative structure and discipline, evidenced by a final act that not only is rushed completely off its’ feet, but has no dramatic or logical impact whatsoever aside from the fact that a big-budget Hollywood movie like this has to have at least some sort of scene whereby destruction and only destruction is the key concept. I mean come on guys, did your editing or production team simply bypass watching the film as a whole before releasing it, or were they just not bothered about the critical appeal of such a film and instead took the Micheal Bay approach in that big explosions and fire results in making big money? Well if that is the case, unfortunately for you, Fantastic Four will not take Avengers-like levels of cash and instead will only be seen for what it is; a fantastic disaster from start to finish which not only will anger cinema viewers who will no doubt pay to witness such drivel, but the Marvel fans who were waiting for at last a solid take on one of their most beloved comic creations, something of which they definitely did not get this time around.
Adding to the mediocrity of Fantastic Four is its’ fundamental contradictory in what it wants to see itself as. Is it a dark, adult, comic film in similar vein to Watchmen, or instead a light-hearted, comedic take on the superhero movie like Guardians of the Galaxy? Too many times the film seemingly flipped in and out of its’ true intentions with cheesy one liners being offset with scenes of shocking violence whilst the calm and collective beginning being transposed with a shoddy collapse at the films’ conclusion all resulting in a film, which although must have had good intentions, seemingly being made without a care in the world, something of which angers me deeply as lover of film. The one saving grace of the film? The cast, with Miles Teller leading the way in doing the best he can with the script he was handed, whilst it is good to see Reg E. Cathey getting more of a shot in Hollywood after his heart-braking performances in House of Cards. But in terms of the good, that’s just about it. Ironically, director Josh Trank has come out this week stating that the reason for Fantastic Four sucking so much is due to the input and influence of 20th Century Fox, and that his version would be receiving much better reviews if not for their desire to edit and change. Well Mr, Trank, if that is the case then you have my sympathies, but for now we are left with a shoddy, out-of-place, disaster-ridden raspberry that not only will be quickly forgotten, but will hopefully be lost in the vaults of cinema completely and left to die along with its’ equally as bad predecessors ten years previous. Want my advice? Watch Ant-Man again.
Dan’s Overall Score: 3/10
Pete – Lets put it this way, Fantastic 4 is as fantastic as an empty bottle of Fanta filled with lukewarm piss. Its as if Josh Trank wanted to make the worst Marvel movie in history. How someone can actually enjoy this, I will never know. We can’t even class it as a child’s entrance film into the MCU because there is so little substance, you may as well let your kid watch paint dry.
Let me make one thing clear, these actors suck. They suck more than Kim Kardashian. The casting was just awful. Pretty much every incarnation I’ve seen of FF source material has involved adults. The group were of a serious age to be taking part in space age opportunities, not borderline psychopathic children that where clichés from High School Musical. The teen angst drips from this and it has to be one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching. Oh, big spoiler here, Doom dies. Deader than a doornail. Sucked into some power hunger hole that tore him into pieces and it was probably for the best. Hopefully he will never come back to grace the screen with his awful costume that looked more like a morph suit than it did the real Doom. Don’t insult the source material with such an awful depiction. Although, this is honestly the only action that happens in the film. The last 10 minutes of the film is occupied with it while the rest of the experience is tortuous attempts at storytelling.
Dan speaks of the indecisiveness of the plot from gritty and dark to ‘comedy’ and I couldn’t agree more. Every attempt at character development was removed, deaths were played off as something not relevant and these “incredibly smart children” are fucking morons. I’ve watched many movies in my time and more so with the creation of this blog but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like throwing faeces at the screen and swinging out like fucking Tarzan 10 minutes into a film. Sure, The Counsellor was bad, like real bad; but Christ, at least they tried.
You know what made it worse? The acting. Even the extras were awful. Often you would catch one staring at the camera lens like its some sort of mythical creature with a creepy grin slapped across their face. Obviously they’re just extras who somehow landed a quick role in the flick but when the main cast can’t type on a keyboard in a convincing manner, is almost an indefinite sign that they have no idea what they’re doing. At least put a little effort into what you are ‘doing’. Perhaps write an essay on how you’re such a terrible actor and that you really don’t want to be on a film that everyone will see because you don’t want your reputation to sink any further into the precipice of Josh Trank’s vacant mind than it already has.
I’m not going to argue against Dan. I’m in fact, going to congratulate him on such restraint. The awful composition, shots, music, story, acting, character development, design and visuals were trash for a Marvel film. Perhaps if 20th Century Fox actually worked with Marvel on this, we could have finally got the FF we deserve but noooooo. I’m almost tempted not to give this a score. Giving it score would acknowledge is actually exists and I don’t feel like it even deserves that. Dan’s score says it all and heed these words, we do not want another. I saw you had it scheduled, stop it. Now. For the love of god, kill it off now and please don’t fuck up X-men…
OVERALL SCORE – 3/10 – DO NOT WATCH
Let’s get right to this. Any decent superhero/comic book fan will know of Deadpool. Above we see parts of the reveal trailers and the leaks all bundled into one hell of a package. From this small short, we can really begin to see how Ryan Reynolds fills the shoes of one of the most beloved characters of the universe. Down below is the trailer for the trailer which tears into Reynolds previous appearance as Wade in some of the best marketing I’ve seen in a very long time.
Now personally, I’m not sure how this movie will fair with the general public who don’t know of the character and I worry that his reach and the violence may not appeal to them. Lets hope the Marvel community goes out in droves for this because we could be looking at a cult classic of the superhero universe!