When Will The Superhero Craze End?

“I think its got at least another five good years in it”. That was a comment from Scottish Comic Book writer Mark Millar concerning the longevity of Marvel Superhero Movies and I hope he’s right.

This is Mark Millar by the way
This is Mark Millar by the way

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced one of the greatest story arcs in recent memory. This franchise has given us some wonderful characters, most of them developed beautifully.

I’m looking forward to Infinity Wars. I hope those two films give this story the conclusion it needs.

However, looking at Marvel’s other plans that may not be the case.

According to Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, the company has dozens of films planned with release dates going as far as 2028.

I don’t know about you but I think that’s too much.

If this information was released three years ago, when Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 were out, I’d be more optimistic but now after seeing Avengers 2 and Ant-Man, I’m not so sure.

There seems to be only so much you can do in this universe. Ant-Man, Avengers 2 and even the great Winter Soldier had similar environments and motifs which made them feel a little boring. They all had cities, grey metal rooms, robots, aliens, lasers.

I think they should just end it at Infinity Wars because if they go any further its just going to get even more boring.

Can you handle it?
Can you handle it?

Fortunately since the Infinity Wars films are scheduled to come out in 2018 and 2019, me and Mark Millar could be right. Then again Fox, Sony and Warner Bros. seem to be mapping their own Cinematic Universes so we could be in for twenty years of Superheroes.

Could this be the case? What do you think?

Click here to see the full interview with Mark Millar.

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An Underrated Masterpiece? Cloverfield (2008) Review

While being one of the most intense and eerie films I’ve seen, Cloverfield is a very, very American film.

Produced by J.J Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves, this found footage thriller tells the story of a group of friends celebrating a going away party in New York. Suddenly a giant beast attacks the city, destroying buildings and killing thousands. Recording their journey on a camcorder, the group try to survive as they navigate through the crumbing landscape.

This film provoked my thoughts splendidly.
This film provoked my thoughts splendidly.

I call Cloverfield an American film because it seems to be an allegory for one of the country’s most devastating events. Like the original Godzilla, which was a metaphor for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Cloverfield is a metaphor for 9/11.

At the beginning we see the group partying, gossiping, drinking; things civilized people do, they’ve got no serious worries. Like America before 9/11, they’re confident and naïve.

Then the monster attacks and everything changes. Robert Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David), the protagonist, goes from a successful, worry-free businessman to a man running for his life. You could say that the character himself is a representation of America’s spirit.

There’re many scenes that are clearly reminiscent of September 11th. A good example is when the monster takes down the Woolworth building, releasing a wave of smoke and dust down through the streets.

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The characters are pretty bland but they’re supposed to be average American citizens, if they had individual quirky personalities and deep, complex back-stories then the thematic expression would’ve been disrupted and not as clear.

While Cloverfield is a great metaphor it’s also a good horror film. Through the found footage perspective we experience the monster’s strength and dominance as it destroys the environment around us. We, like the characters, feel absolutely powerless.

On top of that we know little to nothing about the beast. Like most of history’s scariest antagonists, mystery is the most feared quality. There’re implications that the monster is an alien from another world or a mutation from the sea. Despite those suggestions though, the film is obviously a snippet from a larger story so at the end of the day we don’t know.

CLOVERFIELD

Overall Cloverfield is a very underrated film and in my opinion is the second best found footage film after The Blair Witch Project (its easily tops Paranormal Activity by the way). I highly recommend watching it this Halloween.

Allegorical and intense, Cloverfield earns a respectful 8 out of 10.

Whiplash (2014) Review + IMPORTANT UPDATE

Brilliantly written, superbly acted, beautifully photographed and intensely edited ‘Whiplash’, directed by Damien Chazelle, is in my opinion, the best film of 2014.

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a 19-year-old first year jazz student at the Shaffer music conservatory in New York. Having played the drums from a young age he has a strong ambition to become ‘one of the greats’.

Shit gets real.
Shit gets real.

Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), one of the conductors at the conservatory, sees potential in Andrew and transfers him to the top jazz ensemble.

In his class Fletcher uses fear and intimidation to get the best out of his students. But despite the physical and mental abuse, Andrew commits to perfecting his craft, even if it means sacrificing his sanity.

The main theme of Whiplash seems to concern the value of artistic greatness. What does it take to achieve excellence? One of the best qualities of Chazelle’s script is that it provides compelling points for both sides of the argument.

While Fletcher’s philosophy seems to work as it makes Andrew and his peers perform, it also has health and legal consequences on the class and Fletcher himself.

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From the first few scenes we see that Andrew is passionate about jazz; he has posters of famous drummers on his wall, he practices on his drum kit while everyone in his dorm are partying.

We also see that Andrew has a good sense of humanity, he has a good relationship with his father and a decent but growing one with his girlfriend.

We empathize with Andrew having understood his traits. So when Fletcher abuses and tortures him we feel sorry for him.

Terence Fletcher, while not as easy to sympathize with, has his reasons, which are disturbingly understandable.

The performances from the two leads are amazing. J.K. Simmons is terrifying as Fletcher. He manages to convey him as nice and polite at one moment, and vicious and abusive at the other, both very believably.

Andrew Neiman, if not acted or written properly, could’ve been a boring, stereotypical ambitious teenager. Fortunately Miles Teller presents a very convincing performance.

The only flaw I could think of was actually the intensity of Simmons’ performance. Don’t get me wrong, he’s brilliant most of the time but there are moments when he goes a little too over the top to the point where he becomes humorous.

Apart from that Whiplash is an amazing film and, in the words of KG’s Movie Rants (see his review here) “It draws you in, plays on your emotions and takes you on a ride that you won’t soon forget”.

I give Whiplash an outstanding 10 out of 10.

UPDATE: I’m going to Uni this week so if you see this the next morning I’ll being moving into halls by then.

I have no idea how much time I’ll be able to dedicate to blog writing and video making but I’ve got a good feeling it won’t be much.

I’ll definitely try to make a few posts and videos before the New Year. Until then you can check out my latest video here, it features a new character that’ll hopefully be as present as Metalico is.

In the mean time I’ll be doing a BA in Media Studies with English as well as writing, studying, drinking, eating, learning and living.

If anyone else out there is going to Uni I hope you have a good time, I hope I do.

So, I’ve written my review and given an update.

Until next time thanks for reading.

Good bye.

The Force Awakens: Just another Sci-fi Fantasy film?

As you all probably know its Force Friday and Disney has just unveiled their new line of toys from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

As I looked over the action figures and spaceships and Lego sets on Facebook I was reminded of walking down the aisles in Toys-R-Us when I was nine-years-old and seeing all the merchandise from Revenge of the Sith on display.

It felt just the same. However when I look at the photos, posters and trailers for The Force Awakens, I get a similar feeling, which I don’t think is a good thing.

Now I know it would be unfair to judge a film’s quality before seeing it but I do think its fair not to get over hyped.

From the trailers and photos what have we seen? X-Wings. The millennium falcon. A desert planet. A masked villain. Droids. Space battles. A trio of youths from completely different backgrounds.

These aren’t just images we’ve already seen in the previous six Star Wars films but in all fantasy, action, sci-fi media from the past 35 years.

Guardians of the Galaxy presented a similar spectacle just last summer but that film was at least more unique. Anyone who’s seen Guardians knows its more of a comedic heist film than a sci-fi epic.

Its hard to imagine what seeing Star Wars in 1977 must’ve been like. When the public saw that tiny Rebel shuttle gliding over a planet, immediately followed by an Imperial Star Destroyer, miles in length, they probably thought that was the height of cinema.

They wouldn’t see anything bigger.

Look familiar?
Look familiar?

Now, since The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter films, the Batman films, the Transformers films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, that scene is quite tame in comparison.

Apart from the joy of seeing all the characters from the original trilogy I wasn’t that overwhelmed when I saw the second Force Awakens trailer.

Space ships, lasers, dark villains in dark clothing, young heroes, robots. It was more of the same.

If The Force Awakens is going to be as ground breaking as A New Hope and Empire its going to have to break a lot of conventions and from what we’ve seen all its done is followed those conventions.

If its great, that would be amazing. If its more of the same, that would be really under whelming.

Until I see the film I’m remaining sceptical and I’d suggest most people should do the same, especially if they want to avoid the heartbreak critics and fans experienced after The Phantom Menace.

UPDATE: My review of Trainwreck is up on Cuckoo, you can check it out right here. Also I’ve shot a new video for the channel but it may take a bit of editing. I’ve tried a clone effect and I don’t think its worked. Here’s a sample below. What do you think?

Don't be scared, there will be context!
Don’t be scared, there will be context!

Hugo (2011) Review

Hugo is two wonderful stories fused together, that is both the film’s strength and weakness.

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Living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) possesses a broken automaton left to him by his deceased father. He tries to mend it using parts he steals from around the station.

He thinks the machine contains a message from his father. Accompanied by his friend Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), the god-daughter of a grumpy toyshop owner (Ben Kingsley), Hugo tries to solve the mystery of the automaton and hopefully discover his ‘purpose’.

The main story that enfolds within the first act is pretty good. From the beginning we can see that Hugo is grieving his father so we can empathize with him as he embarks on his quest to complete the automaton and find the last link he has with his parent.

When Hugo and Isabelle fix the automaton, the machine draws a picture of the moon with a rocket stuck in its face. This leads them to Georges Mêliés, Isabelle’s godfather. It’s revealed that the picture is actually of a frame from one of Georges’ films (A Trip To The Moon). They discover that Georges was a film-maker in the early 20th century and made hundreds of films.

This is where the second story starts which is also great, it’s a loving tribute to the genesis of cinema, but it kills the narrative drive of the first story. After that Hugo goes on a journey to find his purpose. This feels like the start of another film.

If I had to describe the overall theme of Hugo I’d have to say it concerns the search for purpose because that’s what the rest of the film is about, which makes the first act and a half feel disjointed.

Narrative wise Hugo is flawed but the presentation is where its really strong.

The cinematography is beautiful. Definitely one of Scorsese’s greatest skills as a director. Combined with the score they express the world and mood perfectly. There were many parts which reminded me of Amélie. Besides the fact that both films are set in Paris the bright colour palettes look very similar.

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz deliver some great performances for child actors. From Asa’s portrayal we can see that Hugo is lonely, depressed but also smart and has a warm, welcoming personality. Chloë, while her character isn’t as interesting as Hugo, is still quirky and enthusiastic as Isabelle.

I was worried when I saw that Sacha Baron Coen was in the film. I didn’t think he was particularly funny as Ali G or Borat so I was scared he was going to bring a similar racy sense of humour. To my surprise he was also good. A lot of reviewers have said his performance has a Jacques Tati element and I agree. He’s amusing and at times empathetic as the station inspector

Oh, and Ben Kingsley is brilliant.

Overall despite its split narrative Hugo is a good, compelling fantasy drama with memorable visuals and great performances. If it was about one story it would’ve been much better, especially if the subplots with the station inspector and the dog owners were cut out.

In conclusion I give Hugo a respectful 7 out of 10.