Summer Wrap Up 2017

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One of the reasons for the slow releases here on TYTL was the fact that i had seen a lot of films that i wanted to write reviews on, and subsequently i didn’t. This happened last year as well, and films that were deserving of a full write up didn’t get one (“Arrival” is the biggest regret) while they were still in theatres.

In an effort to remedy this situation, i’m going to do a compromise of bite sized reviews for the projects that i saw that didn’t (and won’t for some time) get their Good, Bad, and Ugly sides aired out.

So after that preamble lets get to the reviews.

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Looking Forward to 2017

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for a lack of anything else cool to put up here

for a lack of anything else cool to put up here

 

After the awards there’s the looking forward, so lets look at imdb’s list of most popular releases for 2017, and see if it can stir something in my loins.

Looking at the short list i do have to say that 2017 seems to be filled with far more enticing prospects than 2016, i’ll cover the top ten fully and then pick out highlights further down, but lets get straight to it.

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heads up for 2016

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I’m really going to try and follow up on that promise i made in the TYTL movie awards about posting more, so in effort to do so i will do more editorials and other opinion pieces instead of strictly movie reviews. So whenever i feel the need to talk about something related to pop culture (movies and video games mostly) i will try and get something out (although this is ten years too late after all).

When i actually sat down to write the TYTL Awards and figured out how many movies i had seen in theaters last year i was very surprised and a bit saddened that i had only watched 7 movies the whole year. I’m going to honestly try and get out to see more current movies this year (and write more reviews), so let’s take this opportunity to see what’s coming down the pipe line.

I’m using IMDB’s most popular feature films and just going down the list providing my initial thoughts and it’s position on the list. So lets look at the top ten.

Here we go!

 

#1 DEADPOOL 

I’m kinda sick of smarmy witty dialog, so a character built around it as well as being played by the annoying Ryan Reynolds is not going to be on my list of most anticipated releases for 2016. Frankly i don’t care about Deadpool, it wouldn’t matter to me if he wasn’t getting a movie or if he didn’t exist at all.

Release Date: 12 February

Verdict: I’ll Pass Thanks

 

#2 ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

My interest in seeing a proper Star Wars episode was at an all time low, so a spin off of the series is right there at the bottom. It’s curious and hilarious though that the release of this film has been completely eclipsed by The Force Awakens. In fact i’m curious to know how many people even know it’s coming out who aren’t hardcore Star Wars fans to begin with. In the end, i don’t care that this is coming out (nor the adventures of Han Solo movie either) and will only watch the proper episodes.

Release Date: 16th December

Verdict: Not Interested in the Slightest

 

#3 SUICIDE SQUAD

2016 isn’t shaping up to be a very interesting year for me. I will admit this had a very eye catching teaser but over all i couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of meh at the thought of another superhero team being marketed in hopes of draining my wallet for years on end. As for Jared Leto as the Joker, well he wouldn’t have been my first pick (he isn’t my first pick in anything really) but he looks creepy at least.

Release Date: 5th August

Verdict: The Meh is Strong in This

 

#4 XMEN: APOCALYPSE

It’s an old and worn out internet joke to point out that they made one of the most dangerous super villains in the marvel universe look like Ivan Ooze from the Power Rangers movie, but frankly it’s true. I’m not excited for this release, just like i wasn’t overly excited for Days of the Future Past, but i am curious. Singer knows how to get decent results from the material, so at least i can trust it’s in good hands.

Release Date: 27th May

Verdict: I Won’t See it Opening Day, But i Will Go Eventually

 

#5 Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

You know despite me not having the best opinion of Man of Steel it was decent enough for me to want to see what came next. Then the announcement that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman came up and i couldn’t check out harder. Look, i know it’s been a long time since Daredevil and Gigli, a long time since BenLo and People Magazine giving him the “Sexiest Man Alive” award, but it’s torn between me and him. Torn. I refuse to see anything he is in or directed. I might go to this if i’m bored out of my skull, but all i have to do is look at any poster or trailer and see Affleck to remember why i don’t want to see it.

Release Date: 25th March

Verdict: Maaaaayyyyyybeeeeeeenoooooooooo

 

#6 GHOSTBUSTERS

I don’t know why this particular movie has such a rabid fan base, but i suspect it has less to do with the movie and more to do with the fact that it had a successful Saturday morning cartoon show and tons of toys (i had some too). In the end i’m interested in a third film coming out, i’m interested that the cast is all women, and i’m interested if anything unique will come of it. But i’m not interested in watching a film that has the irritatingly foul Melissa Mccarthy in it.

Release Date:  15th July

Verdict: Why Couldn’t They Have Gotten Schumer?

 

#7 CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

It’s very kind for Marvel/Disney to give us another Avenger’s movie so soon after the release of a rather lackluster outing. It’s also nice that this is part of the build up to Thanos that i wanted to see since his reveal at the end of The Avenger’s. But in the 4 or so years since that came out just about all my enthusiasm has dried up. Of the ten movies planned for phase three i’m only interested in seeing 2, and already my expectations have been deflated by having Josh Brolin take up the mantle of Thanos. Pro tip here Marvel i see through it all, i know you just want to pad it out to drain as much as you can out of my wallet before people stop caring, well i stopped caring a looooong time ago.

Release Date: 6th May

Verdict: A Solid Maybe, if i Can Work up the Motivation to Drive to a Theatre

 

THE REST

2016 doesn’t look to be my year for movies, i know at the start of the list i said i would do the top ten but numbers 8-20 can be summed up by either a meh or a flat out no. Number 21 is Star Trek Beyond which i will go and see to determine if it is either the last nail in the coffin of the rebooted series, or yet another drip feed to entice me to see another.

As for other releases i’m sad to say nothing really catches my eye. We’ll just have to see what the future holds i suppose.

 

the 2015 TYTL MOVIE AWARDS!

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Out of the 689 movies released to box office this year, i only watched 7. These being:

The Force Awakens
Creed
Black Mass
Jurassic World
FURY ROAD
Age of Ultron
Trainwreck

I have determined that is still enough to make a year end awards list out of however. I do apologise as i haven’t reviewed some of them, but that’s just something you’re going to have to deal with.

Off we go!

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MAN OF STEEL

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After a long break i think its about time to get back to work here.

 
I’m not a huge fan of Superman. This stems from the fact that he is paradoxically so developed as a character that he is completely undeveloped. The fact that he also is a demigod and impervious to just about anything makes it really hard for me to believe that he can fail in anything so there is very little tension in his stories without having to jump through ridiculous hoops.
That being said there are a number of Superman comics and stories that i quite like, they are no more than a handful so i might as well list them here:

 

  • Death, Life Without, and Return of Superman
  • Red Son
  • All Star Superman
  • Man of Steel (kinda, more on that to come obviously)

 
I feel it must be addressed before someone in some misguided attempt to suage my opinion posts a link or suggests that i just watch this video, i have to say: I’ve seen that video about the Death of Superman, and it’s funny. I also completely disagree with the vast majority of the points he makes, and with his horrible and biased paraphrasing of the story to make it sound stupider than it really is. I’m not going to go more into depth with that, so stop. Just stop before you send me a link or more likely think i’m a dumb ass for liking (really liking mind you) the whole death and return of Superman.

 
Now that we got that out of the way, lets get to the nitty gritty eh?

 

 

THE STORY

The last son of Krypton finds out that he isn’t alone, and must stop General Zod and the other survivors attempts of building a new Krypton atop the ashes of earth.

 

THE GOOD

Zack Synder has made his mark in cinema for creating spectacular imagery (with the help of his cinematographers Larry Fong and Amir Lokri of course) and here in Man of Steel the imagery is so evocative and memorable it almost washes away the nagging issues inherent in the film. This film is filled with the type of movie moments that can only really come from mega budgeted Hollywood motion pictures. For all of tinsel town’s failings scenes like Superman’s first flight, or Krypton’s political instability and ultimate destruction can only have been realised as magnificently as it is in Man of Steel by its vast resources of talent and money.

 
The film thankfully only pays homage to the Chrisopher Reeves films (most notably by the similarities between Ursa and Faora) instead of being shackled by them like Superman Returns was, and goes in a different and much darker direction than just about any of the Superman stories i have been subjected to. Whether this is a pro or a con is a matter of debate, as many (including myself) have had just about enough of grim dark representations of people running around in coloured underwear. However i do find it at the very least an interesting route for an uninteresting character.

 
It also has the benefit of having an interesting antagonist in General Zod that is portrayed in a rather superb manner by Michael Shannon. Shannon munches scenery and the writers give him enough room to stretch out that Zod again just about saves the film from itself. Its a perfect example of how important making a good villain is to these types of movies (large scale action films), and cements my opinion of why Age of Ultron was such a failure had to do with how Ultron himself was a failure. Speaking of performances however, while Shannon steals the show no one is poorly chosen in Man of Steel and all acquit themselves admirably.

 

 

THE BAD

Strangely enough the script of Man of Steel contains both the origin story of Superman and its logical sequel, and while it runs at a healthy 2 1/2 hours long it still manages to feel like its trying to cram in too much story into not enough running time. Narrative jumps and wrinkles abound in the film due to its desire of cramming in as much plot as it can into its running time. One example being the film gives an extended introductory sequence on Krypton, only to breeze over Clark’s formative years. Another casualty is Lois Lane and Clark’s relationship, as it springs out of just about nowhere and comes across as very awkward and forced because it just isn’t given enough room to breath nor enough antecedent information for it to become plausible.

 
Emphasis on “getting to the good stuff” also results in so many action scenes filled with wall to wall destruction and explosions that it can’t help but become white noise to me. One large scale action scene populated by people that i care about will have an effect ten times that of 3 or 4 huge sequences filled with people that i don’t. Which highlights another glaring issue with Man of Steel, in that i really don’t care about anyone in the story its telling. I really want to like Clark, after all Superman is one of the most endearing and enduring heroic archetypes in human fiction. But the way the story is paced, i just can’t find anything to say about him other than he was raised by good people. Which gets straight to the heart of the issue of him being both over and under developed as a character, strangely enough i end up liking and sympathising with Zod almost more than Clark.

 
The rest of what i don’t like is just nit picky stuff. Things like how Jor-El condemns Zod for deciding who gets to live and who gets to die by his own whims, when he himself condemns all of Krypton using the same logic and justifications. Or how Superman essentially commits genocide upon his race, and how that doesn’t really seem in keeping with his character. Or how Metropolis is quite literally leveled and people just show up to work normally afterwards. Or how an advanced civilisation that has conquered the stars for 100 000 years can just stay on their planet and die with it. I’m not in the habit of criticising plot holes, as just about all movies good or bad have them, but just like in Into Darkness or Star Trek the amount of little things that bother me just keep growing and growing and snowball into something that simply can’t be ignored.

 
Lastly i want to talk about the score. Hans Zimmer is often lauded as a genius for his contributions to film scores based almost solely on the fact that his songs can rattle dishes off of shelves when played loud enough. I myself enjoy his music as pure spectacle and will always admit that his music packs a punch. Here in Man of Steel we do indeed get a main track that embodies all of the speed and power that a man like Superman would have, but it fails almost completely in being nuanced and interesting after the initial thrill is done.

 
Don’t get me wrong either, a cheesy theme like the one John Williams wrote would be horribly out of place in the grittiness of Man of Steel, however i find that Williams’ score is far truer to the character and is far more nuanced than the bare bones affair Zimmer provides. To compare the two is to compare Chuck Berry’s Johnny b Goode to Mozart’s Turkish March; both are good songs, both are pieces of simple breezy music made by important people in their respective genres, and both have made their impacts on culture and music.

 
However one is clearly just a bit more complex, musically nuanced, and expressive than the other. I’m sure you can figure out which one it is. Again though, that’s not to say that Johnny B Goode is a bad song, nor am i saying that Berry lacked talent and wasn’t important or expressive, but if you can’t see the forest for the trees in which one of the two was clearly a more robust musician then there’s no point in trying to convince you further*. The same goes for Zimmer, he writes fantastic songs that hit hard and bring you straight into the moment, but he has not in his career written a work as monumental as Williams has with Star Wars or Howard Shore has with The Lord of the Rings.

 

 

THE UGLY

Man of Steel is filled with great moments, but a great film works as a whole and is the sum of its parts, and the sum of Man of Steel’s parts is not a number i can say i would want. As trying to be both origin story and direct sequel makes it hamstrung by a confusing plotting and muddled character development.

 

 

2.5 starsOUT OF FIVE

 
*you can make the argument that the comparison is invalid due to the differing genre’s of music and different time periods they were written in. I will concede that is a partially valid point, as it doesn’t affect the analogy of it applying to Zimmer and Williams who write in the same genre.