Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Crow Returns

Relativity Media's President of Worldwide Production, Tucker Tooley, and Edward R. Pressman, producer behind the cult-classic "The Crow" franchise, has officially announced that the reinvention of James O'Barr's gothic comicbook character "The Crow" is a go.

The project will be directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) and Alex Tse (Watchmen) to write the script. This Crow adaptation will be a gritty reboot of the gothic iconic character Eric Draven, who returns from the grave as The Crow on a mission to avenge his wife's murder, so that his soul can finally rest. Bradley Cooper (Limitless) is attached to star as Draven. "The original film is known for its breakthrough visual style as well as its unique production design and cinematography. Fresnadillo and Tse are perfectly suited to bring these beloved characters back to life, and to create a world worthy of this modern classic," said Relativity.

Relativity and Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation will be teaming with Spain-based Apaches Entertainment on the production. The Crow is being produced by Edward R. Pressman, Jeff Most, Relativity’s CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, and Apaches' Enrique López Lavigne and Belén Atienza. Relativity's Tooley (The Fighter) and Apaches' Jesus de la Vega will serve as executive producers. José Ibáñez and Pressman Film Corporation's Jon Katz will serve as co-producers.

Ever since the first movie, I have been hoping to see another good Crow movie; so Im also excited about the announcement. But I could not help but frown at their choice actor for the title role; Bradley Cooper doesnt seem even close to what I imagine The Crow should look like. He looks too jokey, too muscular, and too alpha male jock-ish to be the Crow. I would have preferred a scrawny, thin actor to play the Crow, he is, after all, somewhat of a zombie. I am not sure if they can pull this off.

Aside from the harrowing fact that it's the final movie which sealed the fate of the late Brandon Lee (who played the title character), the first Crow movie (directed by Alex Proyas) was one of those great movies that was appropriate for its time when it was released. The 90s was when the gothic subculture reached a very prominent peak. I personally think that it's different now because the goth culture has that unpleasant confusion and mixture of commercialism and Emo subculture. In addition, it was also a time when we were introduced to Proyas' gothic style of cinema which had similarities and refreshing distinctions from Tim Burton's style. Alex Proyas also later directed the underrated Dark City, Knowing, and I, Robot.

source: SuperHeroHype

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Lantern

by Reymundo Salao

Green Lantern is one of DC comics' most popular characters, and its role in the DC universe is prominent enough that it is considered by DC as its space epic. So, the anticipation for GREEN LANTERN is so much high that satisfactory is not good enough.

The story begins with the death of Abin Sur, who is a Green Lantern, a warrior entrusted with a power ring in order to protect his sector in the universe, from the wickedness of evil. Abin Sur's ship crashed to Earth, and there he let his ring choose his successor. The ring chose pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) to become the new Green Lantern. But Hal's assumption of Abin Sur's ring could not have come in a worst time as an entity known as Parallax is set out to destroy the Green Lanterns, specifically the one who bears the ring that once defeated it: Hal Jordan.

I love the universe of the Green Lantern as created by DC comics, and I did love the movie. But inasmuch as I wanted this to be flawlessly good and wished to be blinded by love for this movie, I could sadly point out that it was far from the perfect movie I wanted it to be.

It is also noted that the director of this movie Martin Campbell rejuvenated the James Bond franchise twice by directing the first Pierce Brosnan Bond movie "Goldeneye" and the first Daniel Craig Bond movie "Casino Royale" not to mention that he directed "The Mask of Zorro" so it played with all expectations. It made me wish that I never knew this, because even though that I did love the movie, I could clearly point out its many flaws.

The characterization and the explanation of the villain Parallax, for instance, was not given sufficient detail and clarity. Even though there was a flashback about him, it was still unclear as to what this creature is and what its true motive is. It quickly becomes this one-dimension cardboard character that generates very little impact. The scenes in Oa, and the process of getting to know the aliens felt rushed and gravely insufficient.

The universe of the Green Lantern storyline is indeed complex, but not impossible to capsulate and explain with sufficient clarity within a few scenes. I think the shortcoming of the film was its failure to ensure that its audience flawlessly understood the world it tries to create in the film. What is more surprising is that it did not invest on a long running time. Epic summer movies of late have been gradually standardizing the practice of extending the running time of movies well beyond the less than two hours a regular feature film has. It was sad that Green Lantern did not do this, as it could possibly have made the overall film better.

It suffers from the same flaw as the Transformers movies had; that which it gives too much weight on the human focus and less on the alien aspects, but that human focus was not compelling enough, impressive enough, or worthy enough to waste too much time on. On the other hand, the Transformers movies are too extreme as a lousy example. But I do dread to admit that the animated movie "Green Lantern: First Flight" tells a better Green Lantern origin than this.

In this movie, the story dwells too much on Hal Jordan's self-pain and lack of self-confidence to become the hero that is expected of him. The movie dwells on his feeling of failure, of his painful memory of his father's death, and his romantic relationship with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). It was difficult to appreciate Reynold's performance as Hal Jordan because I felt that he was not funny when he intends to be, and whenever he is serious, I am not sure if he's kidding around. I still think he was gravely miscast for this role (and believe that he's more fit for The Flash).

Despite Reynolds as usually a great performer and Campbell as a potentially efficient director, the characterization failed to be impressive and emotionally effective. The failure was more on the script and the sequences of the story. While the movie starts strong, somewhere in the middle it felt like it got messy and awkward. There were sequences that felt like they should have been cut off the movie and there were also instances that felt like it needed several missing sequences. An example of that is when Hal went to speak to the Guardians; a scene which felt like Hal was in an entirely different character mindset from the scene directly before it.

On the other hand, I did love the movie despite its shortcomings. It is the magnificent visuals that make this movie shine like the Green Lantern that it supposed to be; the aliens, the backgrounds, the overall visuals that surely blow audiences, especially ones that are not yet familiar with the Green Lantern mythology. I may have enumerated things that make this movie less than perfect, but there's no denying that I still am going to watch it again.

Additional Note: Yes, there is an extra scene in the middle of the end credits

Monday, June 13, 2011


by Reymundo Salao

It was the 1960's and it was a time of Cold War. It was also a time when genetic mutation has began to manifest its existence among the population of mankind. A group of mutants led by Sebastian Shaw are planning a diabolical plot to start World War 3, and CIA operative Dr. Moira MacTaggert sought out the help of a mutant named Charles Xavier to aid them in the capture of the mutant criminals. Along the way, Xavier & MacTaggert meet Erik Lensherr and several other mutants who would aid them to bring Sebastian Shaw and his mutant criminals to justice and prevent World War 3.

This movie serves not just a prequel to the X-Men series, but may very well be a restart of the franchise to set things right. And yes, I do indeed wish for X-Men to have a fresh start or maybe at least do a storyline in the similar vein with JJ Abram's Star Trek movie which weaves the old movie continuity with this new continuity.

I initially thought that this was going to be indeed a prequel because the movie starts out with the same flashback to the Nazi concentration camp scene, as is in the first X-Men movie. But I say that this is a new continuity because of its inconsistencies as well; In X-Men part 1, Xavier says he met Erik (Magneto) when he was 17 and they built Cerebro together; that is untrue according to this new movie. In X-Men 3, there is a flashback of Xavier (who is not yet disabled) and Magneto in their late 30s/early 40s meeting Jean Grey as a kid; but in the end of X-Men First Class, Erik & Xavier have already become enemies, not to mention, Xavier has at that point become disabled. With those things considered, it would be unwise to treat X-Men First Class as a prequel to the first three X-Men movies.

X-Men: First Class is its own movie. And I love the hell out of it. There were more than several moments wherein both the storyline and the script gave me positive chills. This movie achieved what the Star Wars prequels failed at, which is originally attempting to tell a story of two iconic heroes who became close friends and the breakdown of that friendship because of a clash of beliefs. The friendship between Xavier and Erik are well translated onscreen, that you do feel their genuine care for each other, that when they finally must choose to oppose each other at the end, the pain of that is evident emotionally.

X-Men First Class is a superhero movie that is not afraid to show onscreen villains utilize their powers in realistically evil ways. What Azazel does to his victims, or what even Magneto does to his victims is ruthlessly violent; the kind that may not have been easily acceptable at least 5 years ago in superhero movies. But now is the right time to give an appropriate approach to movies like this in an almost perfectly equal level with what the mature comics really portray in terms of how dense their character arcs are, how creatively complex the stories are told, and realistically ruthless some scenes can be.

There is a whole lot of action in this movie; but that which is not your typical action. I am not talking about elaborate fist-fights martial arts and gunfights. The action here is super-power based. The cleverly conceived action is done by whatever superhuman abilities are being used. I would even dare to say that this movie is more daring than the first X-Men movie because this one has little to almost zero standard action scene. The height of the action is whatever kind of power they will use to fight each other, and there is a whole lot of outwitting the other opponent.

The film was set in the 1960s and I adored the entire look of the film; from the costumes to the set designs; I felt like I was watching one of those Sean Connery James Bond movies. But there is a degree of simplicity and does not go so far to exaggerate or even call upon itself as having a retro feel. It just simply is, and feels like a 60's movie. And most especially that they used Rose Byrne playing Moira Mactaggert, who I think has that 1960s film star beauty, she looks like a Bond girl. Although on the other hand, I could not say the same for January Jones playing Emma Frost; The White Queen, who is not as pretty as the role originally suggests, but does look like a Bond movie villainess. Although she seems to fit the atmosphere, her acting felt bland.

There is a very brief scene of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in the movie wherein Professor X and Magneto try to approach him, and as they were just introducing themselves, Wolverine simply told them: "Fuck off" This was a brilliant cameo appearance which, in its less than a minute of appearance, is the most accurate portrayal of the anti-hero comicbook character, and it seems that they are bent on portraying Wolverine properly from now on hopefully.

For me, the movie was so close to perfect except for a few minor ignorable scenes at the final 15 minutes of the movie. One was right after Xavier got shot, and when Magneto was delivering his final farewell to Charles as a friend, as he bid his final words of goodbye, we see Magneto and the mutants who would rally by his side line up in formation and just suddenly, without any initiating dialogue, they held hands as if they were about to sing Kumbaya or the People Power theme song. Yes, we all know of course that they needed to do this so that Azazel could teleport them out of that place. But the sequence seemed silly with that pose of them holding hands.

Another funny thing about the last 15 minutes of the movie is Magneto's red costume at the end and how he customized the helmet. Sure, it is a combination of the classic Magneto costume and the Magneto costume from the previous X-men movies. But this one seemed to have a loose fit. It looked like he was wearing a pajama. And his helmet; sure it's nice that they were faithful in depicting Magneto's actual original helmet, but I think it does not translate in real-life movie format all too well. It also didn’t help that his pose was a bit awkward and without any little stretch of "comicbook macho" poise.

The best scenes of the movie show us how imaginative and how simply creative Matthew Vaughn's style is. One simple scene that blew me away was in Shaw's room where he is forcing young Erik Lensherr to manifest his skills, and the camera shows us the other side of the room which reveals a laboratory filled with what could possibly be torture devices as well. Another scene is when the young mutants hear crashing noises and they later realize that the teleporting mutant Azazel is one-by-one killing off government agents by teleporting them up in the air and having them crash down. This was such a unique kind of a killing spree scene. It was also refreshing to find that this movie does not shy away from showing such a ruthless scene, it shows proof that comicbook-based movies like this are now given more or less the equal mature treatment it has in the comicbooks as well.

Aside from other minor errors of the movie, such as the special effects in some scenes, the movie is superb. Almost flawless and almost reaching the level of "Dark Knight Excellence" I can easily say that this is the best X-Men movie I have ever seen. And I hope this is the start of a better X-Men series.