I was remarking to a friend a few weeks back that I was afraid that I had grown out of Sin City, that the franchise I had loved so much as a teenager/young adult was just beneath me now. I don’t think that’s it though, not entirely, popular culture itself seems to have absorbed the things it likes from Sin City and moved on. All that’s left is a movie that feels just as old and tired as the original film felt new and fresh nine years ago.
Before I go any further I have to shower praise on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a man who seems to have been born to play noir leads. While this is no secret to anyone who saw his dynamite performance in Brick it’s a treat to watch him do this work and a crying shame that there aren’t more opportunities for him to do it. His scenes are easily the best in the movie as they crackle with an ephemeral energy that can’t quite hold on when he’s not on screen. He’s helped a bit by a story that clicks more thematically with classic film noir but there’s no denying that he’s pushing the entire movie higher with his performance.
Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller’s visually stunning [[[Sin City]]] graphic novels back to the screen in SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR. Weaving together two of Miller’s classic stories with new tales, the town’s most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more notorious inhabitants. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is the follow up to Rodriguez and Miller’s 2005 groundbreaking film.
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR will be in theaters August 22, 2014.
Other than reading content here at ComicMix, we can stipulate that the Internet is for porn. There’s even a song confirming that fact. It’s easy access for free has transformed already sexist ideals of what sex is all about. An entire generation is being raised in the belief that women will drop their tops for beads, will perform sexual acts in the hopes of winning a Dare Dorm competition and professionals will do just about any act, in any position, for your, ahem, entertainment.
As a result, there are men out there who go to clubs, get laid and surprisingly remain unsatisfied. Multi-hyphenate Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been giving this kind of male some thought, dating back to 2008, and turned it into an interesting meditation on the matter in the entertaining Don Jon. Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed, and stars in this snapshot of the East Coast male. His Jon is a man of principals who includes taking pride in his home, his body, and in his immortal soul as witnessed by his weekly visits to the confessional. Still, he enjoys frequent one-night stands and when the women prove to be real and not the willing fantasy images on his laptop he returns there, frequently, to satisfy his needs. It’s an addiction to which he is totally blind.
He’s seemingly content with his minimum wage job in the service industry, a devoted son to his parents (Glenne Headley, Tony Danza), and lacks ambition. That begins to change when he spots the hot Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), who was raised on the romcoms of the last two decades and whose expectations of the perfect mate are equally unrealistic. But they have chemistry and he before she has sex with Jon, she begins to reshape him. First, she convinces him to go to community college and then forces him to give up porn, which he tries to do but resorts to watching on his phone, even in class, which catches the amused eye of Esther (Julianne Moore). She playfully gives him a DVD of erotica which he rejects out of hand, not understanding the difference or her interest in him.
Bit by bit, we see the stresses on Jon and Barbara’s relationship which oddly shatters at Home Depot when she refuses to let him buy Swiffer refills because men don’t do that. As they drift apart, Esther, who has been recently widowed and has a more solid grip on the world, turns out to be the one who shows Jon there are ways to be satisfied with a friend/partner/lover. Their age difference barely comes up and there’s a sweetness to their story.
Gordon-Levitt plays everything on an even keel, never overly exaggerating the actions or characters, infusing each act with its own look, feel, and sound, subtly guiding the audience through Jon’s final maturation into adulthood. The performances are uniformly strong from Johansson’s gum chewing Jersey girl to Danza’s short-tempered dad.
The film, out on a combo pack (Blu-ray, DVD, Digital) now from 20th Century Home Entertainment, looks great in high definition. There’s a satisfactory assortment of special features including the Making of Don Jon, where Gordon-Levitt nicely credits his varied collaborators; Don Jon’s Origin, a look at the writing process across the years; Joe’s Hats, writer, director, star; Objectified, a look at gender roles; Themes & Variations, a nice look at each act’s unique feel. Finally, there are four HitRECord Shorts, where Gordon-Levitt invited people to submit their creations on the same theme which occurred during the making of the film.
I’ve little to no doubt by the time I write this article everyone on this site, and every other comic-ish site will have weighed in on Man of Steel. For what it’s worth? I liked it a whole bunch. Disaster porn? Sure. The controversial ending? Made complete sense to me. And I’m not even a pessimist. I found the flick to be a popcorn chomping, scenery eating behemoth on par with Marvel’s Cap or Thor. Feel free to disagree with me. This li’l op-ed though isn’t about Man of Steel as much as it’s about what it means for DC in the near and not-so-near future.
The fact is the movie is making money. Good money. The most money to come in for the month of June in fact. And with no “big” weekend coming to theaters presumably until TheLone Ranger bombs, DC should be on the road now to adding some serious shekels to their calamitous coffers. Many nerds (myself included) all figured that all this time Marvel was running away with all the sick-movie profits. But let’s look at the tale of the tape:
According to Box Office Mojo: Iron Man 1 and 2, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and The Avengers totaled roughly 1.75 billion dollars domestically. In the same amount of time Nolan’s Batman franchise, Watchmen, The Losers, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern earned 1.45 billion. All things considered? It’s not necessarily a run away gravy train for Mickey now is it?
We all know the old adage: war is won with a single battle. Man of Steel rights a train derailed with Green Lantern. The fact of the matter is in the last five years of blockbusters, Mickey was laying foundation while DC merely rented a timeshare. It’s no secret (especially if you read comic book movie news on the Internet) that the Brothers Warner wanted Man of Steel to be the initial volley towards a larger franchise universe of their own. It’s fair enough to consider the movie to be a success. So, what’s next?
We know there’s talks to get Supes back in the multiplex as soon as late next year. Unless they actually know how to reverse time by flying around the Earth though? Color me doubtful. And the rumor mill has also turned out gems like a possible Batman / Superman team up. Or a Justice League movie that will spin-out into single character franchises. I envision the execs over at the Warner lot looking at a pile of New 52 books, with a sweaty Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns (no doubt wearing a dunce cap over his Green Lantern: The Movie cap) doing their best to help them plan. And somewhere behind two-way glass, Christopher Nolan sits in his private Inception pod (yeah it’s a pod now) smugly scoffing.
Enough pussy-footing around. If the reigns were in my hands, I’d bank on what made Warner money. While every comic-classicist sharpens their knives I boldly say the unthinkable. If you made money going real and dark? Go real and dark. There was optimism, hope, and smiles to be had in Man of Steel. Seriously. If DC uses that at it’s base, and builds a Justice League that stands with Big Blue in their front court? Those are big shoulders to do it with. Add in Jospeh Gordon-Leavitt’s Batman (heresy!) and introduce the movie-going public to Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Cyborg? Well, it’ll sure give Whedon and his Bro-Vengers a little competition. Put the movie in the hands of a capable comic-inspired director. Say… Brad Bird. And if Nolan can assist in crafting a picture that isn’t just filler, quips, and a fifty minute fight sequence… you’ve got yourself the making of a real counter blow to the powerhouse mouse.
At the end of the day, Man of Steel was a solid start to a new beginning. While many our brethren ball their fists and curse at the wind, many others are finding a new take on a familiar face. I hope sincerely that DC and WB figure out what worked (Optimism. Confidence.) and what didn’t (Wanton destruction.) and use it to find solid footing on a new course. The world needs a Justice League movie. We need a great Wonder Woman franchise. They need a movie DCU. It’s time to look up, up, and away from the past and soar towards a more profitable future. And I for one will be looking forward to the movies.
Because you know, their comics sure ain’t doing it for me right now.*
*My apologies to Scott Snyder and Gail Simone who totally get a pass
No doubt those of you who troll the Internets or saw The Hobbit were privy to the new trailer for Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. My Facebook feed was deluged with tons of praise, mirth, and, most scary to me… hope. Maybe it’s being in the company (and five-a-day e-mail chains) of Mike Gold, but color me doubtful. Not that Mike isn’t anything short of a ray of sunshine mind you… but I digress; I’m none-to-impressed with the footage. That is to say, I didn’t see anything that makes me less uneasy about the future of the DCU on film.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me first state: the trailer looks good. Great even. There’s a metric ton of things to like about it. Much like it’s Darker-Knightier cousin, the film embraces a realism that the House of Mouse is way to scared (or smart, maybe… more on that later…) to attempt. The cast is absolutely top notch. Kevin Costner’s Pa Kent is one part Field of Dreams and zero part Water World. Amy Adams is both easy on the eyes and known to be more than being easy on the eyes. And supporting cast like Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, and Laurence Fishburne? Well, it’s not a surprise that the hype machine is already on overdrive here. And what we do see when the tights are put on? A CG’ed Big Blue that feels weighty, and dare I say… awe-inspiring. Even if the suit looks like it’s been run roughshod through the ‘Texturizer’ filter in Photoshop.
The key though, to me, is the tone and direction of the film. I’m not saying Warner Bros. shouldn’t be trying to replicate the success of the Nolan-verse. What I am saying though is that it takes the one thing about Superman above all else, optimism, and smashes it to oblivion. From the waning palette Snyder and his cinematographer employ, to the numerous long-shots of angst, sadness, and emoting… it certainly feels like this film will take every last second of its running time to get us to a place of joy. And while I trust Nolan as a producer, and Goyer and Nolan to write the film wonderfully, I can’t help but be tepid to declare anything but skepticism until I see it. Not because I want to be an internet troll, hell-bent on hate. But because I’ve been burned before by the Brothers Warner. Fool me once, shame on me.
Imagine my glee when DC decided to launch big-budget-dollars into a GL picture. They snagged a director who handled action before. They landed a star who could fight Chris Evans for funniest-but-could-be-serious-and-is-good-looking-in-spandex with Ryan Reynolds. It was lauded by Geoff Johns as being everything he’d hoped for. And we went to the multiplex, oath memorized. And we left the multiplex, trying forever to forget it. While there will be debate amongst people which of the Marvel-Avengers-Verse was imperfect (perhaps the Hulk movie, or maybe Thor?)… Green Lantern couldn’t even lick the dirt of the bottom of Mickey’s yellow bootie in comparison. And this was supposed to be the first DC film to rival Marvel.
Let’s do the math. Let’s envision the best possible scenario from Man Of Steel. Say it’s everything we wanted and more. The story, in spite of any cues in the trailer, is full of joy, and more important… action. Good looking action. Empowered by a top notch script akin to The Dark Knight; heady, but satisfying. And better yet? It’s a box-office smash!
This is where my real fear lay. Because, I truly want this film to succeed. I love DC in spite all the venom I’ve spit at it lately. If Man Of Steel is a rousing success, there’s no doubt in my mind that WB will dictate that the eventual Justice League movie will now need to match the Nolan-verse. And for those keeping score, a gazillion sites have posted rumors that Joseph Gordon-Leavitt will play Batman in that film. Movie-goers may be able to buy that Spider-Man and The Hulk can be rebooted every 3-4 years. But would they believe JGL as Bruce Wayne when the last time we saw him he was Robin-Cum-Batman? And if his newly-gifted Batsuit makes him the man behind the cowl, WB is essentially resting the weight of the world on Christopher Nolan’s shoulders. And who here could say that a movie with 7 super-heroes could still feel weighty and realistic? It may by the straw that breaks Nolan’s back (and interest). And then, the helm will be passed to someone (anyone) who wants to not make their version of the Justice League… but the Nolan-version so dictated by Brother Eye. You dig?
And what of the tone and realism? In a Batman movie, playing things close to reality isn’t so much a stretch. Batman is, for the most part, as believable as one would get when it comes to super-heroics. But Superman? Well, that’s the polar opposite. No matter how much super-science you throw at it, it’s still a guy defying every law, be it biological, chemical, or physical… in order to preserve the peace. By his very nature, Superman is the anti-thesis to the real world. And look if you will, to the competition. Marvel presented the world with Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor. Each of these movies balances the surreal with the real, and when it came time for the big team up?
We got golden gliding mindless aliens to smash for the better part of an hour. And we ate it up to the tune of a billion or so dollars. Marvel aimed and fired into the heart of the 13+ demographic, and hit the bulls-eye a hundred times over. Batman Begins / The Dark Knight / The Dark Knight Rises did brilliantly too, of course, but as I’ve certainly argued… it wasn’t hard to do it. And let us all be honest again. Rises was good, but not great. Man Of Steel in its 150 second trailer, contained more angst in it per frame than every Marvel movie in the last decade combined. Will it be too much for the movie going public to spend 59 minutes in perplexed sorrow for the final action sequence when Kal-El excepts his destiny and power-punches Zod to oblivion? More importantly… how will we react to it, when the dust settles… and no one asks to get a schwarma?
It’s all speculation, I know. But I couldn’t help myself. When the social media boards light up with praise and joy, I second guess it. Man Of Steel has the potential to do the impossible. But I won’t believe the miracle until I see it with my own eyes. Up, up, and away.
When we saw the first image of Daniel Day-Lewis in his Abraham Lincoln makeup, we thought it was pretty impressive. Considering this is a two-time Academy Award winner in Lincoln, a film from director Steven Spielberg, we know this is one to see. That it is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wondferul book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln is all the more reason we’re more excited about this than we were with Abe the Vampire Slayer.
According to DreamWorks, which releases the film on November 9, the movie is a “revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.”
The cast includes Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln along with David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones. Lincoln is produced by Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner. The film is a coproduction between DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox film, in association with Participant Media.
There’s new viral stuff up at http://www.thedarkknightrises.com/ (if anybody makes it to the Empire State Building, let us know what you find) and we have a new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises to show you.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Leading an all-star international cast, Christian Bale again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy as Bane; Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. Michael Caine plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Morgan Freeman reprises the role of Lucius Fox.
More than a month after word of a six-minute prologue surfaced, Warner Bros. has at last officially announced the opening sequence of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises will premiere exclusively on select 70mm IMAX screens with Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. The PG-13-rated prologue will debut on Dec. 16 in North America and on Dec. 21 in the United Kingdom.
The press release notes that Nolan’s 2008 blockbuster The Dark Knight was the first major motion picture to utilize IMAX cameras. With its sequel, the conclusion of his Batman trilogy, the filmmaker utilized the extremely high-resolution cameras even more extensively.
“Our experience on The Dark Knight shooting and projecting IMAX 15 perf 65mm/70mm film was inspiring,” Nolan said in a statement. “The immersive quality of the image goes beyond any other filmmaking tool available, and in revisiting Gotham, we were determined to shoot even more of the movie in this unique format. Giving the fans an early look at an IMAX sequence is a great way to draw attention to what I believe will be an incredible way to experience our story when it comes out next summer.”
Finally, a week after the official poster was released, we can run the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, the finale in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Gary Oldman. Enjoy.