Thursday, December 7, 2017

Infinity War: Thanos and the Black Order






So, yeah... I'm pretty excited.

This is a big deal for me. Ten years in the making. Seventeen different films. And finally, last week, the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was released and, well... I loved it. I loved it with the burning passion of a thousand undying suns. This should surprise no one, because I love comics. It is known. I write about them. I rank them. I take pictures of them. I even read them on occasion.

I also watch the movies based on them.

There's a lot at the moment.


And when it comes to superhero comic book films--a few outliers aside--for me, the MCU consistently makes the best blockbusters around. By which I mean, they're generally decent adventure films with some fun, some drama, and some explosions, and all with some likable characters and entertaining set pieces. They're not without their flaws, of course, and they're definitely corporate-owned properties specifically built to be an important part of a massive multi-platform, cross-demographic, money-making machine, but honestly, this reality, coupled with the fact that they are as consistently decent as they are, makes them all the more laudable to me. It's one thing to be a cog in a soulless corporate-driven marketing effort, it's quite another to actually succeed at creating something fun and enjoyable while doing it.

So, they have that going for them.

That's not even mentioning the massive framework that is the Marvel Cinematic Shared Universe. The fact that it works at all, with so many moving pieces, is amazing. And it does work. Case in point, we're here today due to the result of a ten year, seventeen film story. Sure, they don't all fit perfectly, but they do fit generally, and that kind of coordination, all while in motion, with that much money on the line, and that many people involved, is really pretty amazing. Because of this, Marvel Studios prints money.

And everybody wants that Golden Goose.

They all want it, but no other studio has pulled it off yet. I love DC comics too, and I love the idea of them making their own version, but the reality is, they tried and they failed big time. Their attempt at a Shared Universe has resulted in a mess of garbage and crap. I'll be surprised if it lasts another couple of films. And then there's The Dark Universe, the attempt to link the famous Universal Monsters of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, and on and on. The result? Dead on arrival. Tom Cruise killed it. Technically, the jury is still out on the Giant Monsters Shared Universe, we'll see how King Kong versus Godzilla goes, but... it's iffy. In fact, I bet that crap big screen version of Rampage is what tanks those plans. As for Star Wars, it isn't a Shared Universe at all, it's just a single story line that is being expanded on forever and ever and ever and ever and fucking ever...

Only Marvel has pulled it off, and they did it by accidentally making a movie people really loved. Ten years ago, they took Iron Man, a basically unknown D-tier, perennial team player and also-ran character as a shot-in-the-dark film starring an actor most people thought of as washed-up, and they wound up making RDJ a world-wide mega-superstar, and Iron Man as recognizable as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Maybe more so, depending on the generation...

All of the other Shared Universe attempts have skipped that oh-so important step of making one actually good movie first... then building from there. They don't have the patience, or the love.

And it shows.


Now here we are... Avengers: Infinity War.

Here's the synopsis: The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Wow. Okay, I mean, I really am all in for this film, but... that is a super shitty synopsis. I get that they don't want to spoil anything, but... "before his blitz of devastation and ruin"? What the fuck is that?

Anyway...

Who is Thanos?


We've talked about this before...

Thanos is basically the big bad guy who has been lurking at the edge of everything since the end of the Avengers. You've seen him in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. He's Gamorra and Nebula's asshole adoptive father, the one that turned them into assassins.

He's the guy in the floating chair.


Thanos is known as the Mad Titan.

He's a genocidal tyrant. He's like Space Stalin. He kills planets. He destroys entire species. He talks during movies. He knocks your ice cream out of your hand when you're not paying attention. He takes his sweet-ass time backing out of his parking spot, even though he knows you're waiting for it. He's evil, people. EVIL. He wants nothing more than to wipe us all out and rule over the ashes. 



Thanos's big thing is he wants these specific objects, things you've probably heard of by now, known as the Infinity Stones. They are things of great, great power, and when all six of them are used to bedazzle this golden gauntlet called--wait for it--the Infinity Gauntlet, then the very pillars of heaven quake, let me assure you. The Infinity Gauntlet, with all of the Infinity Stones, basically gives the wielder total and complete power over everything. Total power. You could wipe out planets with a thought, if you wanted to, so it's pretty much the last thing in the entire universe you would want a crazy-ass, bloody-minded, psychotic Space Tyrant to get ahold of.

 

But why does Thanos want this? What is it that drives him?

That answer is easy, my friends, for it is the same thing that has powered so many other stories. In a word... Amore. Yes, it's true, Thanos has been bitten by the love bug. The big purple space tyrant is in love. He only has eyes for one female personification of a concept, and that female personification of a concept is Death. You heard me. He's in love with Death. Not the idea of death, or with causing death, Thanos is in love with the female personification of the concept of Death. Thanos' girlfriend is Death. And to answer what is obviously your second question: Yes, she does have boobs. She's a skeleton with boobs. It's super embarrassing.

I hate sharing these things with you all.


I don't know if any of this will be in the movie.

Here's the best news of all. Currently in the MCU, Hellcat appears in Netflix's Jessica Jones, and the cube is, of course, the Tesseract, that was seen in the first Captain America movie, and then in the first Avenger's film, and then most recently in the last Thor film... so now the only thing missing from the MCU... is the Thanoscopter.


Y'see, he puts his name on the helicopter so that he knows which one is his after maybe a day-trip to the mall, or maybe a mid-day movie, or perhaps a nice night out at the local Olive Garden.

Anyway...

Who are The Black Order?




These folks are basically Thanos' main captains. They're killer-dillers. They're bad news. Corvus Glaive is the leader. He has the basic super-power package: speed, strength, resistance, blah, blah, blah. He takes his name from his weapon, a type of polearm called a glaive. The blade is unnaturally sharp, and as long as it is whole, Corvus can survive anything. He is married to Proxima Midnight. Like Corvus, she also has your basic super-power set. Her spear was made by Thanos, which is something he does, I guess. The Ebony Maw isn't a fighter at all, instead he is a devious trickster with an irresistible power of persuasion. Finally, the Black Dwarf is Corvus' brother. He's super strong and pretty invulnerable. He's basically their Hulk. I expect the four of them to fan out and each snatch an Infinity Stone for Thanos, because they're pretty bad ass.

But that being said, they're also kind of disposable, so more than anything, I expect them to die. After all, they aren't really all that interesting of characters, they're more like murder machines, so they'll show up, do some damage, and then they'll get put down. It should be fun.

Also, just fyi, a character named Supergiant is the fifth member of the Black Order in the comics, but apparently they were cut from the film. No big loss.

Anyway...

Where are the Infinity Stones?


For now...

Eagle-eyed readers might notice that only five of the six Stones have been located. Vision has the Mind Stone (from Loki's Scepter). Dr. Strange has the Time Stone (The Eye of Agamotto). The Nova Corps have the Power Stone (The Orb). The Collector has the Reality Stone (The Aether). And Loki has the Space Stone (Tesseract), and he was last seen out in deep space with a massive and  really threatening-looking space ship looming over his much smaller space ship...

But where is the Soul Stone, the one that allows the user to steal, control, manipulate, and alter living and dead souls, the one that grants the user control over all life in the universe?

I don't know, but I do have a theory...


Let's watch the trailer.



That is so great. I love it.

I'm so ready.
Jon



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tragedy Girls







TRAGEDY GIRLS has been on my radar for awhile. I'm really excited about it. Normally, I try to post these before the film's release, but I think I might have missed that window here. I'm not sure. The Internet claims it was released on October 20th, but I don't remember it being out in wide release, and the only reviews I've read were all from Festivals.

It doesn't matter.

I'm still excited to see it, and if we missed it in theatres, then we can watch it in VOD, right? Right. So, Tragedy Girls is directed by Tyler MacIntyre, from the script he and Chris Lee Hill wrote. This duo has worked on stuff together before now, but I haven't seen any of it, so I can't really comment on on any of that, except to say that this film looks awesome Luckily, one thing I can comment on, are the stars Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp, because they're...


This doesn't mean anything really, I just thought it was kind of funny.

Here's the synopsis: A twist on the slasher genre, following two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small mid-western town into a frenzy and cement their legacy as modern horror legends.

Huh.

Okay, now, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've definitely watched the trailer, and I've got to tell you... that synopsis sounds like it's technically right, but it also seems like it's skirting the real meat of the script. I mean, from the trailer, it looks like the girls start killing people too, right?

I guess we'll have to wait to find out...



Weird.... The trailer says 10/20 too. Did I really miss it?

I'm so disappointed.

Anyway, how god damn great is that trailer? I love it. It looks dark and funny and smart, there's a ton of great beats, and the two characters are totally killing people and using it to exploit their own Internet fame, right? Why the hell doesn't the synopsis mention that? It's obviously not a spoiler, if it's in the trailer. Regardless, this looks like a ton of fun. The two stars have so much charisma and such great timing. I'm really looking forward to checking it out.

Keep an eye out,
Jon



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Apocalypse Now Now






My effort to clear the queue continues!

Today, we have a short film called APOCALYPSE NOW NOW.

Apocalypse Now Now is a bit of an odd-duck. First off, it's based off a book of the same name by someone named Charlie Human, which... I mean, if that's not the name of alien from a distant planet, who barely understands humanity, and is hiding amongst us, then I don't know what would be. Someone should probably keep an eye on the guy, is what I'm saying. Anyway, long story short... I've never heard of, but after a little googling, it sounds all right, so I ordered it.


But that's not what's odd about this short film.


Here's the synopsis: Baxter Zevcenko’s life is pretty sweet. He’s making a name for himself as the kingpin of his smut-peddling high-school syndicate, the other gangs are staying out of his business, and he’s dating the girl of his dreams, Esme. But when Esme gets kidnapped, things start to get seriously weird, and the only man drunk enough to help is a bearded, booze-soaked, supernatural bounty hunter that goes by the name of Jackson ‘Jackie’ Ronin. Plunged into the increasingly bizarre landscape of Cape Town’s supernatural underworld, Baxter and Ronin team up to save Esme. On a journey that takes them through the realms of impossibility, they must face every conceivable nightmare to get her back, including the odd brush with the Apocalypse.

This just might be the first synopsis for one of these short films that I've found to be too long. Usually there's seemingly zero effort put into these things, and all you get is one or two crappy sentences, but this time? Damn, guys... this could use an editor.

But that's not what I found odd about this short film either.

What I found to be odd was finding out that apparently Be Phat Motel is developing the property as a feature film. Be Phat Motel is the production house responsible for the film FIVE FINGERS FOR MARSEILLES, a film that played at this year's Fantastic Fest. I didn't get a chance to see it, and I don't remember hearing anything about it either way, but still... that's a real Production House that has made real movies that is trying to develop this property.

That's weird.

Why is that weird? Because this particular short film turned out to be yet another example of the type of short film that is actually one of the dreaded PROOF OF CONCEPT films. I hate those things. Proof of Concept films are like the drunk uncle of the short film genre. They're usually just speculative trash, a hodge-podge of cheap, bombastic imagery, a bunch of smushed up cliches, way too much hope and wasted effort, and all bound together without any kind of a cohesive narrative. They're boring and pointless and often just half-baked trailers to films no one will ever see. They're shots-in-the-dark that no one asked for, and have less than a one-in-a-billion chance of anyone in the studio system even noticing, let alone buying... Except this time... this one right here... this APOCALYPSE NOW NOW?

It might actually turn out to be something.

Weird, huh? Let's watch...



Well, shit... That was kind of entertaining.

The voice-over felt a little dated stylistically, sure, a little too Irvine Welsh for me, but I'd bet it's not really a part of the actual product. The voice-over felt more like a short-cut intro, more like a feature of the whole Proof-of-Concept thing. Same with the actors, even if they weren't actually too bad. Other than that, as an introduction to the world, it really worked. I loved the grimy South African slums twist on the "Weird World just next door to our own" idea. I'm a big fan of the Magic mixed with Reality setting. I'd definitely check out more.

Now I'm looking forward to checking out the book.
Jon


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Strange Beasts





I'm back, I've got a bunch of short films to post, and I want to get them all up by the end of the year, so expect some real effort over here on my part for the next few weeks. That's where I'm at, kids. That's my plan. You in? Of course you are. Why else would you be here?

Let's get to it.

Today's short film is called STRANGE BEASTS.

And that's pretty much closing in on the limits of what I know. I did some googling, but I didn't end up with a lot to really talk about here. I do know the film was written and directed by Magali Barbe, but all I know about her is that she's from London, and she seems pretty creative. Also, the pictures I've seen from the film look pretty interesting. So... yeah. There you go.

Here's the synopsis: 'Strange Beasts' is an augmented reality game. It allows you to create and grow your own 'pet'. How far can it go?

Okay, that's a pretty shit synopsis... Let's hope the film is better.



I really liked that.

Strange Beasts is a smart and well done short film. It's a good example of a really good "short story" type of short film. It looked good. It had a nice pace. It was well-written, and it did some surprising stuff. It was a lot more bittersweet than I expected. Best of all, it was self-contained within the film, but the ideas could be expanded on elsewhere. After seeing so many short films struggle with this, that's something I really appreciate. This was an all around good film.

Take five minutes and check this out, it's worth it.
Jon


Friday, October 6, 2017

BLADE RUNNER 2049









Blade Runner 2049 week peeks!

It's finally here, opening day for the long-awaited, barely-trusted, Denis Villeneuve-headed, sequel to an over 30 year old box office failure of a genre-defining cyberpunk cult film known as Blade Runner, a film that I love.


Denis Villeneuve is someone who has certainly earned his reputation as a film-maker of taste and quality. And if you take the disparate flavors of Enemy, Sicario, and Arrival and you mix them all up, I think it's reasonable to expect that he might be able to deal with the genre requirements of Blade Runner. But a sequel after thirty-five years? To a film that arguably doesn't need one at all? To a film set in a genre that is just about the definition of out-of-date? Could it work? Do we really want this? These questions remain. One things for sure, it will certainly be a challenge.

But will it be any good?


Critics seem to like it...

You've probably seen this already, but let's watch the trailer and get excited...



Well, at the very least, it'll be beautiful, right?

Fingers crossed,
Jon