Tag Archives: Django Unchained

Ironman 3 Opening And What It Means For Marvel

Marvel is now officially on top of the world. Ironman 3 has opened 175 Million it’s first weekend in the U.S. Alone, and has grossed 680,000,000 WorldWide in the past 10 days.  That’s the second highest opening save the Avengers last year and it looks as if Ironman will be the highest grossing film of the year, and definitely the summer.  This is  the moment that officially marks Marvel as a brand to be reckoned with.

Summer of 2011 Thor and Captain America performed Modestly with both around 400 Millionand 350 Million , both really good starts for B- List comic book characters.  Marvel’s A List Characters are Hulk, Fantastic Four, Xmen, Spiderman, and DeadPool, and seeing as Marvel only has one of those properties they’re doing extremely well.  Avengers last year was predicted to only make around 800,000,000.  I say only like that’s not a lot of money, but Marvel has always been the underdog of Geek Properties. Needless to say it made that in foreign release only and caught everybody by surprise. It was better then we could’ve hoped, and a lot of people went back to see it multiple times. I saw it twice in one night.  So of course same situation with Ironman 3, People are expecting Man of Steel to do better, and Ironman to make only around 700,000,000 Million.  Welp once again through great marketing, risky choices, and overall quality Ironman 3 has made that in it’s first week and a half. So what exactly does this mean for Marvel Studios.

This may still be a little pre mature, but basically it means they have a license to print money.  As long as they keep on a winning streak Marvel movies will continue to out perform and make more money because of the shared universe aspect. Marvel is pretty much going to make at least a billion a year, at least, not even counting The Avengers gross. And even if Avengers 2 doesn’t gross as much as Avengers 1, it will still be made up from the boost of the individual movies. It overall increases an interest in the characters and individual franchises.  The beauty of it is that marvel hasn’t made a bad film yet, and the chances of franchise fatigue is really low, since we only get a Thor or Ironman movie every three years as opposed to every other year or every year.  People are excited for properties that were before just for comic book fans.  Marvel’s Phase Two will be extremely lucrative.

What’s it mean for new properties coming out?  They’ve confirmed a Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, and an Ant-Man,  adaptions to come out.  Now this is where it might be back to square one, as none of these properties are very well known, but the entire idea is to use the avengers as a spring board to propel other movies to more public interest.  Guardians of the Galaxy is already selling more comic books and if done right will be sort of another Avengers except in space.  I imagine one more sequel will be announced for Phase 3, possibly Thor or Captain America, or possibly even Guardians, which has a chance of making a lot of people new fans.

Basically the Reason everybody loves Marvel is because they’re the best of both worlds.  They have the Disney Marketing Machine which will make the movie appeal to wide audiences, but Marvel will make sure every movie is of quality first and the fans will be the first ones served.  It’s a dream come true, a studio that cares about making money, but also about making good movies first and foremost, and this is a giant nail in the coffin to the other studios trying to imitate their business model, looking at you DC and Fox.

Ironman 3 a dissapointment?

Just saw Ironman 3 last night, and wow did I enjoy it.  I’m not going to say I love it yet, I want to go see it again to really get a feel for it.  I think the biggest hurdle this movie has is the fact that it’s not a superhero movie anymore.  It’s much more of a thriller, maybe a little Jason Bournish, with a mystery all through it.  This is not a review, this is purely a comparison to the Ironman Franchise, including Avengers.

This is the mis steps Ironman 3.  This is a mixed complaint, but the movie doesn’t have a really fast pace or great story structure.  There’s no 3 act template so the movie, probably on only the first viewing,, doesn’t seem to have a direction for a lot of it. The story is also very untraditional.  A british screenwriter Drew Pearce wrote the script with Shane Black and you can really feel his hand here.  It feels like a new franchise, and a new character.  there’s also a real lack of action during the beginning. Also the snappy dialogue is gone and it’s more of a dry wit sort of thing, so it’s not as funny, whilst still being pretty funny. The complaints that I have are more in the comparison with The Avengers then Ironman 2.  There’s also a character moment that I won’t spoil that personally I enjoyed, but I can understand why people found it unsatisfactory.

Now the positives, and there are many, is that this is the most mature Marvel film out of the bunch, and while I did complain that Tony Stark wasn’t swarmy or Jokey enough, that’s the point, he’s not the smooth talker anymore, we get a little bit of it in the beginning, but now he’s out of his element.  The humor is darker and more specific dialogue then the rapid fire style of the first two.  But Ironman 2 was too jokey with lazy humor, people talking over each other, and it really wan’t all that funny.  This is a new side of Tony Stark, much more vulnerable and frightened almost frail portrayal.

This movie is ultimately a left turn for the franchise, instead of being a traditional action movie, it’s a thriller.  As a thriller it’s pretty bad ass, It wasn’t very convoluted it has good villains, really good acting,and a real sense of threat.  Most of the time Ironman is in a defective suit and can’t fight the way he usually does adding a sense of danger, that was missing in Avengers and Ironman 2.  Also the villain to me hands down is a mass improvement for the franchise, much more clear motivations, and a plan that’s actually excellent.

Basicaly all my complaints with Ironman are in comparison with Avengers, it was hard to top and I don’t think they were trying to do that, I think they were trying to make a tony stark centric story and focus back on the characters.  In comparison with Ironman 2, it’s a much more superior film, in almost every fashion.  So for anybody wondering it’s better then Ironman 2 not as good as Avengers.  If you come in expecting Avengers you will be utterly disappointed. I’m finding more things to appreciate it the more I think about it

Will Marvel Ever Get All It’s Characters Back?

When I was growing up I was never very much into comic books, I was more of a manga guy, admittedly I regret this, but comic books are way too expensive even for me know as a grown adult.  I did end up reading a few runs here or there, but I got the essentials book for Spiderman and Xmen, both fantastic runs, and I read the ultimates for both of them.  Ironically whenever the Avengers came in the picture, I was like “boooooo”.  They all seemed silly weak and boring to me compared to Wolverine or Spiderman.

Now I’m all about the Avengers characters.  Captain America and Thor are two of my favorite Superheroes, and Ironman is my absolute favorite movie character, maybe second to Tyler Durden or Scott Pilgrim.  Marvel took them embraced their silliness and made really fun movies out of them.  I just came out of Ironman 3 and wow comic book movies have come so far. I got into an argument with someone on the internet over if Spiderman would show up in the Avengers 2. I said no that’s stupid, the amount that sony would charge would not be the amount worth of the income.

In a bit of mixed bag news it’s just been reported that Marvel now has control of Blade, Punisher, DareDevil, and Ghost Rider.  Now all of these movies are damaged goods, except maybe Blade.  While I didn’t think the Thomas Jane Punisher was all that bad, all of these movies have had what’s considered the lowest reception for a major superhero movies.  Personally, i’d rather not see any of these characters back.  They’re hard to get done right and many are arguing that every one of these movies needs to be Rater R to really stay true to the comic books.  But this brings about really good news.

The good news being that it’s not going to be too far off until Marvel has Fantastic Four, Xmen, and Spiderman and can actually make a true Avengers movie and can hand pick the best of the characters that fits the stories and easily pump out 3 movies a year.  The reason I say that is because Fantastic Four, and Xmen are also damaged goods.

The way franchises work is, if you make a weak sequel the following movies will suffer, Fox has shot themselves in the foot not once, but twice with the Xmen franchise.  First the made X3 then it was Xmen Wolverine Origins.  So when they finally made a fantastic movie , xmen First class, it didn’t do that great.  It was a modest hit, and after looking at the returns I was surprised that they are proceeding with a sequel.  then I thought about it, they’re absolutely desperate to get that tentpole.  Right now it’s all up to Wolverine, which honestly i don’t see doing that well. Personall I’ll go see Xmen Days of Future Past because I love the new reboot, but I’m done with Xmen and Fanastic Four.  And I’m sure a lot of people feel this way, Fox has a bad reputation of mishandling superhero movies.   Even if the reboot is successful, which it probably will be, I doubt the general public will care enough to keep it going, eventually both franchises will stop making money, and Fox will stop making the movies.  If they were smart they’d make a movie once every other year to keep public interest up, but nope they’re being greedy, and wringing them dry.  I give it 10 years.

On the other Side is Spiderman. now Amazing Spiderman did pretty damn good business, not quite reaching The originals, Avengers, or The Dark Knight, but slightly better then ironman numbers, but once again instead of Sony spreading these movies out they’re making one every other year.  This doesn’t work because eventually you’re either going to make a bad sequel or the public will get tired of them. They’re even talking about a Venom movie trying to copy the Marvel shared universe template.

The Advantage Marvel has is that they’re not on a time clock to get these movies made.  For those of you who don’t know, Sony and Fox have to make a movie every certain amount of years or they lose the rights to the characters.  But if Marvel doesn’t want to make another Captain America movie they don’t have to worry about losing him as opposed to Spiderman.  Marvel also has the advantage of having an excess amount of characters to pick from.  It also has the advantage of not having franchise fatigue.  An Avengers movie comes out once every 3 years so it’s an event, they’re on their way to having a license to print money.  Ironman 3 has already gotten a huge boost from Avengers, they just need to keep the momentum going and have all their properties flourish , while Fox and Sony get picked of sequel by sequel, and once Marvel gets their hands on Spiderman or Wolverine it’s over, money in the bank.

The Dark Knight Is A Liar

Everybody loves The Dark Knight trilogy.  Geeks love it , Girls love it, Jocks love it, Parents love it, inmates love it, Nolan excels at making thinking man movies that also function as pop corn movies.  Fans of Nolan think he is a genuis, and god’s gift to cinema.  Detractors say that he’s overrated, and simply uses narrative tricks to fool people into thinking his movies are better then they are.  Me being Mr. That’s Over rated , Tend to lean to the detractor side.

Not to say that Nolan isn’t a genius, or at least isn’t capable of being a genius, but I think he’s a much better director then screenwriter.  His dialogue is absolutely atrocious ” Cat’s got your tongue”, and his scripts tend to have get really sloppy, especially during the third act.  I don’t think I’ve seen a Nolan movie that hasn’t dipped in quality in the third act.  Inception was going great until it buckles under the weight of itself and really lost me emotionally. The Dark Knight has one of the weakest 3rd acts , for me personally , because it falls into the trappings and just becomes your typical Batman movie.  I noticed with Dark Knight Rises , and I hope this trend doesn’t continue, that his movies have gaping lapses of logic inside of them.  Stuff will happen that doesn’t make sense that nobody can explain.  Like in the beginning of The Dark Knight the joker knew exactly when to drive a bus out of the side of a building, and none of the other drivers or passengers notice?

The Dark Knight, to some, is the epitome of superhero movies.  Personally it’s more of a crime drama , so i prefer the darker Spiderman or the Avengers before.  Now I’m going to lose a lot of people, but the dark knight trilogy do not have a “dark” tone.  Now somebody of lesser intelligence may say ” What are you talking about it has dark in the title”.

Let me explain.  Having a dark tone, means having a movie that on the surface level is funny , quirky, or fun, but on further inspection you realize how depressing it is. It also means having characters you aren’t necessarily supposed to root for, and characters who are introspective and self loathing or even doubtful.  Fight Club is a good example, it’s real funny, but overall the story and characters and the situations they find themselves in are messed up.

The overall message of The Dark Knight trilogy is hope in humanity and hope in general.  It’s got other themes and ideas that ultimately conflict, but basically what I got from Dark Knight is people are good.  That’s definitely not dark, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that except it feels like a cop out.  The reason people like myself honest to god hate the dark knight rises, but can understand why some people of equal intelligence can like it, is because all the contradictions.  The Themes conflict other movies,  The overall smartness conflicts with the dumb logic the movie has and plot inconstancies, and worst of all is the tone.  The overall tone for your last movie needs to be absolute dread, something that was pulled off a lot better in The Dark Knight.  Harry Potter was a much better conclusion for several reason.  First it split up the movies into two parts giving both stories time to breathe and keep the story structure in pacing under control.  Second it meant that we can really get a sense of looming dread throughout the series.  They even desaturated the posters and marketing to make it look like saving private ryan to help really nail home ” This is the end”.  The most obvious thing it did was kill off it’s characters. Spoilers I guess, or is it too late?  Shit even Twilight had the balls to kind of kill off most of the main characters.  In the entire Dark Knight trilogy only 2 secondary characters die.

It doesn’t feel dreadful because Nolan is too soft to kill off any of his main characters.  Your last movie needs to have character death or that sense of dread, neither work because the last act is so rushed you don’t really get a sense of time passing for suffering.  The lesser intelligent person may also say ” But it’s so realistic and gritty, and he’s Batman”  Well you’re not all the way wrong.  He is in fact Batman, and it’s realistic and gritty for a superhero movie I suppose, but not really.  Kickass was realistic and gritty save the rocket launcher.  TDK trilogy always had moments that stick out as clearly unrealistic but no more so then TDKR, and gritty? Not really if you read the comics you realize Batman is a thug.  He will break your bones, snap limbs, bring you to the bring of death, but there’s none of that here.  Bane even snaps a guys neck offscreen.  Nolan doesn’t have the edge like Fincher who would’ve knocked this out of the park. And even if it was “gritty and realistic” outside of relations to other comic book movie that still doesn’t mean it’s dark.  It’s more of just a pop corn movie then an intellectual masterpiece people make it out as.

That being said, i can genuinely see why people love this movie.  It really only pays service to people who like TDK , which is a lot of people.  For people like me who loved TDK but doesn’t think it’s the best film ever, it’s a serious letdown, to each his own

Why Tropic Thunder Should’ve Won An Oscar

In 2008 There was two geek properties that had a match lit under them.  On of these properties was The Dark Knight.  Everything about this movie was on point.  The Marketing was great, it had a great director, but what really set it off was it’s iconic villain. The Joker, who has steadily changed the face of villains for time to come.  He was smart, funny cool, and had a real distinct look about him.  Most of all he was terrifying.  Everything about this performance was on point.  The voice, the clothes, the posturing, even Heath Ledger’s unfortunate passing bled into the mystique of the character.

The other geek property which set fire to the industry if not more so.  Ironman was a slightly smaller hit, I remember when it came out everybody referred to it as ” better then Spiderman”  Ever since TDK came out there was a blatant turn on spiderman by the general public , but before that it was the pinnacle of superhero movies.  Ironman ushered in a wave of spinoffs prequels, and worked in the concept of a shared universe among movies which had only been hinted at before.

Ironman ultimately got overshadowed by TDK, but not completely gobbled up like The Incredible Hulk.  In retrospect I prefer Ironman over The Dark Knight, and my love for Robert Downey Jr. blossomed.  Later that summer Tropic Thunder came out.  A movie directed by Ben Stiller, which I thought I would hate, but actually liked it okay.  Everytime I see it I find new things to love about it and it gets better every time, but one thing that stood out was Kirk Lazarus as an Irish Award season darling, who was playing a black soldier in a Vietnam war movie.  It sounds dumb, and it was, but in the best way possible.

Now I’m going to be hypothetic as I would never take an Oscar from the Great Ledger, but let’s say Heath hadn’t tragically passed, who he had deserved an Oscar? Any other year I’d say yes, but here I  gotta say no.

Ironically everything you can say good about Heath’s performance you can say about Downey’s.  Heath Stole every scene he was in, he had several ticks, he made the movie.  Same can be said as Robert.  Only one was funny and one was terrifying.  There’s even a level of make up that adds to the parallel performances, and makes them more interesting aesthetically.  Nominations were announced and Robert got himself nominated for an Oscar for best supporting.

To me the best thing about Robert’s performance is the layers of character and irony. ” I’m a dude playing a dude disquised as another dude”.  It’s a real statement on actor’s and the ways actors get Oscars.  In some ways it’s an Oscar bait performance mocking oscar bait performances.   You have the total unrecognizable transformation, the make up, and the double accent.    Same can be said as Heath’s performance. Except one is the definitive supervillian and one is black face.  You can’t sum up RDJ’s performance in one sentence and do it justice.  It’s a parody of Russell Crowe and Daniel Day Lewis, it’s also a statement on how actors transform themselves whilst having an actor transform himself, it’s also a statement on how far actors are willing to take risky career choices for an Oscar, whilst once again having an actor take a risky career movie, it’s also a parody of Robert Downey Jr himself, it’s also a metaphor for not knowing who you really are. The fact that the Academy actually nominated this performance is hilarious in itself.

The Joker is just crazy, which can be interesting and is, but Kirk Lazarus is also crazy, and we really delve into his character’s psyche.  We get a very subtle understanding of why he does what he does, and we understand this.  The Joker doesn’t really get any real explanation, and why that makes for him being more captivating it doesn’t add for a more fleshed out character, which to me lends itself to a better performance.

Django Unchained – Why It’s Not As Good As Everyone Says

Before I make anybody too mad let me say.. I don’t think this is a bad movie.  I wouldn’t even go as far as to call it overrated.  The Majority of the great things people say about this movie are true.  It’s funny, got great acting, great action, everything that comes with a Tarantino film, even the bad things associated with that.  What I’m doing is talking about the things people aren’t talking about.  But let me be clear, I really do love this movie.  I’m going to buy it on Bluray, and I haven’t enjoyed a Tarantino movie this much in quite a while. But it’s not ” The greatest movie ever made” as people like to say.

The Story

One of my main problems with Tarantino is that, while his scripts have excellent and probably the best dialogue ever written depending on your taste and preference, his stories usually don’t go anywhere.  There are exceptions, but most of the time his movies are showcases for the actors and the dialogue. Nothing wrong with that.  Except here he’s attempting to tell a pretty traditional story. And to his credit he doesn’t have as many distractions as usual.  But unfortunately the story still feels underdeveloped, and the pacing is ruined as you can’t tell where the movie is going.

Doctor Schultz says to Django ” We’re going to go to every plantation until we find them” , which gives you the sense this will be a long journey that will teach Django how to be a better Bounty Hunter, and be a buddy western.  But in the very next scene they’re already at the plantation, and 15 minutes later they have already the bounties killed.  After that we see a little of the team’s dynamic of Schultz teaching Django, but it’s mostly through a Montague.  This is the first act. After this Schultz has a conversation with Django stating their going undercover to infiltrate Candy Land.  So you get the impression that it’ll be a tense game of deception similar to Inglorious Basterds.

After that it’s the Leonardo DiCaprio show for an hour until the bullets start flying.  But there’s no real tension. It feels like a completely different movie, except for about 5 minutes, and an action scene that literally kept me smiling the entire time, until Tupac started playing in a spaghetti western, but I’ll come back to that.   Basically the first half and second half are two completely different beasts.  And both suffer.  You never really get the full feeling of the Django and Schultz team, and the second half is all talking.  Not to mention Schultz and Candie are both killed off making the hour of talking completely unnecessary.  And then when you think the ending is coming Django gets free comes back and kills Samuel Jackson’s character.  Anybody who understands film or writing knows there has to be a climax.  The big shoot out with Django could be considered the climax, but there’s no resolution at the point and it’s not built up to, and when Django arrives at Candiland there’s not really much of a threat enough to call it a climax.  There’s no third act.  I know Tarantino was trying something different, but he really shot himself in the foot.

The Humor

This is subjective to me of course, and some of the humor here was great. Whenever Tarantino writes a character he enfaces them with a lot of good jokes with the dialogue, blocking, and the way they interact with other people. Schultz kept me chuckling , and Calvin Candie was outright hilarious.

The Humor that bothered me were the jokes that felt like somebody trying to write like Tarantino.   Also the problem with trying too hard to be funny is it undercuts the weight of the situations.  Not to mention this is a film about slavery.  A lot of people commend Tarantino for ” Finding humor in such a bleak subject”, but a lot of the jokes are somebody saying ” Nigger”.  Now a few times it’s funny through Delivery, but that’s cheap and flat out offensive.

There’s also a scene involving a clan and a riff on the bags they wear.  At first it was funny, but it went on for what felt like 5 minutes.  I get he’s trying to make fun of the clan, but it was approaching overkill.  Also when Broomhilda sees Django she faints for comedic effect.

The Worst offender was when Schultz lets Django pick out a Blue Suit that looks like something Prince wouldn’t wear in public.  It’s bright blue and awkward.  Django does something that’s seemingly doing something empowering, but he has to wear a Tinker Bell outfit from his own choice.

The Colored Problem

If you talk to Tarantino about this movie he says it’s a movie about slavery.  Not really though, Roots and Amistad are a movie about slavery, this is more of a western that has mentions of slavery.  There’s discussion about it that are interesting, but most of the movie really is just a standard western.

Except for when the movie stops to talk about slavery or have a moment to show how brutal slavery is.  There’s a scene that has a man ripped apart by dogs, that doesn’t serve the story.   There was already a scene earlier that involved two black men fighting to the death.  A few characters even looked at it in shame.  Even the white character.  That scene is good because it shows that , much like with germans in Inglorious Basterds, not all white people treated black people like shit.  It also shows how cold Candie is the the watches and even enjoys the carnage as the other characters look away.  Very subtle character development and I almost feel like I’m reading too much into and giving the movie credit it doesn’t deserve.  The dog scene  Is just there to say “Wasn’t slavery bad” Wow Tarantino is really breaking new ground.  I already mentioned how the n word is used as comedic effect.

Tarantino has a habit of using the “n” word in his films a lot.  Usually it has a context so I don’t mind.  But here’s a guy who pushes the envelope on that word just because it sounds cool to him.  It’s like when a white guy asks you can he say the word and then when a rap song comes on he sings along with it and emphasizes it.  I feel like he made this movie just so he could have the excuse to use the n word so much.  I feel like any other director , black or white would’ve tried to use it when necessary to avoid ruffling feathers. It felt like Tarantino looked at the first draft, said ” Fuck Spike Lee” and added 2 extra nigga on every page.

The Tone

Once again going back to a word I learned in high school English Tone.  The overall feeling a movie is trying to get across.  At times it’s a black comedy, a western, an action movie, a heavy drama, and a slapstick comedy.  It doesn’t fit together at  all.  I’ve heard people describe this movie as having 3 parts.  They’re absolutely right and some people don’t mind.  Personally I would’ve liked for it to fit together better.

A movie is supposed to be a seamless experience.  You’re supposed to be taken into the world and forget you’re watching a movie.  To do that a movie is supposed to be consistent.  Some of the music in this movie really works.  The Rick Ross song really compliments the scene and is short. Later, in the throws of the action in the “semi climax” Some Tupac starts playing mixed with James Brown samples , it really doesn’t fit.  Once again music in a film is supposed to serve a scene and Tupac can and has worked thematically before, I think it’s unnecessary.

Calvin Candie

The most disappointing thing about this movie is how Candie is killed. First of all he’s introduced half way into the movie.  And then he’s killed before he gets to do much of anything.  Leonardo is great of course and is given the best dialogue, but just like with Javier Bardem in Skyfall due to the short comings of the script his performance is cut short.

Overall Tarantino doesn’t write a lot of character development.  He writes movies with actors in mind and then they fill it in with their own personality. Everybody in Pulp fiction were in mind when he wrote the script.  There are exceptions and when it happens it’s great.  Christopher Waltz in Inglorious Basterds is a good example.

While Calvin Candie is an interesting character, he’s not a very good villain. He’s not really a threat, He’s not all that smart, and He’s not even the head “nigga” in charge.  Wouldn’t be a problem if the movie didn’t build up to his confrontation with Django, THAT NEVER HAPPENS.  I don’t even hate him as a villain.  All things considered he was very reasonable, he has honor, and even though he executes a black person just for the sake of testing Django and Schultz, that’s not out of the ordinary for a plantation owner.  Basically his character is worthless as a villain.

The Solution

This movie could’ve been incredible had they split it up into Volumes.  Volume one could be Django and Schultz hunting the Bounties at the start of the movie and developing their friendship And Volume 2 could develop the villains as they set out to get Broomhilda.  Also Tarantino would’ve had longer to tell his story and really made this the epic that I think it could be. Overall Good Movie Just not great