‘Devil’s Due’ Review

Devil's Due poster II

“”Devil’s Due” is slightly more ambitious that most found-footage movies, though suffers from problems built into the format.”

Having seen Matt Bettinelli-Olpin‘s and Tyler Gillett‘s “Devil’s Due,” about a newly married couple destined to give birth to the Antichrist, it’s obvious that the found-footage trend, ushered in by the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project” and made mainstream with the Paranormal Activity films, needs a break so that it can recover the sense of freshness and spontaneity that made such films so intriguing in the first place.

Which will not happen any time soon because these movies are so cheap to produce.

For instance, “Devil’s Due” cost $7 million to make, and earned almost $33 million dollars, which is a really tidy profit.

The premise of the movie while by no means unique, is at least interesting, though like other films in this genre it makes little in the way of sense because there are too many situations where someone would not be walking around with a camera.

Most found-footage movies at least stick to the cameras at hand, though “Devil Due” expands to using footage from literally any camera in an area, which the characters shouldn’t have any access to, as storytelling devices.  It makes no sense at all and kind of takes you out of the movie if you give it any thought.

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Captain America Uniform From ‘The Avenger: Age Of Ultron’

Captain America (Age of UltronHere’s a picture from “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” of Captain America (Chris Evans) in his new costume.  It looks like a combination of the suit he wore in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” combined with the one he wore in his most recent adventure, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

I think it looks great, particularly the way the wings are integrated into the design of his helmet (which looks a lot like the leather helmets pilots wore in World War II).WWII Pilot's Helmet

You can find some more shots here, which is perhaps a better use of your time than following the legal travails of Bryan Singer, who like Icarus flying too close to the sun, may lose it all if the allegations of Michael F. Egan III are proven true.

And even if they’re not, they may have cost him the next film in the X-Men franchise because people may have a problem going to see a multi-million dollar production helmed by a alleged pedophile.

 

Movie Mistakes: ‘Iron Man 3′

Iron Patriot
Generally I don’t particularly care about these sorts of things, but having seen “Iron Man 3″ perhaps more times than should be legal, I noticed this little error.

Truth be told, it’s less of an error than the filmmakers apparently showing us what they can get away with when viewers are in awe over one of their favorite comic characters appearing on the big screen (for the fourth time).  What happens is that James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) is captured by Aldrich Killian/Fake Mandarin (Guy Pearce), who uses his Extremis-derived abilities to superheat a section of the armor, with the intention of forcing Rhodey to abandon it.

Killian knows that he’s damaging the surface of the armor, and so he strongly suggests that his henchman, Savin (James Badge Dale) had better be able to fix it.  Now, Savin may indeed be talented, but prior to this moment the movie gave no indication he also had some pretty awesome metallurgical, as well as painting, skills because the next time we see the Iron Patriot armor, there’s no sign that there was any damage at all.

I mean not even a smudge of the paint.  I also know that we’re watching a movie based on a comic book, but Savin making what looked like considerable damage disappear is probably the most outlandish thing in the movie.  Though you have to admit that the man is talented, and if Tony needed any help in his lab, he could do worse than hire him.

Iron Patriot

By the way, anyone that has been following the Iron Man films–Yes, even “Iron Man 2!”–knows that Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) has an miniature Arc reactor in his chest, which keeps a piece of shrapnel from entering his heart, which is pretty much at the center of the chest (which is why the armored suits he wears don’t have the chest repulser off to the left or right).

In the penultimate act of the movie, where (Spoiler Alert!) where Tony Stark and Rhodes are squaring off against the Extremis-enhanced forces of the Fake Mandarin (that’s not his name, but if you have seen the Marvel One-Shot, “All Hail The King” you know it’s true) the Arc reactor is in the center of his chest, where the Universe and Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Don Heck intended it to be…

Arc Reactor III

Only to find that in later scenes it has somehow shifted considerably–and quite noticeably–to the right.  It’s not like it’s now on his shoulder or something, but it’s definitely no longer in the center of his chest.

Arc Reactor II

Occam’s Razor posits that when faced with explaining why or how an event happened, the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions is more likely than not the correct one.  So, considering that that Arc reactor prop was entirely practical, it was probably somehow adhered to Robert Downey, Jr.’s chest, and with all the activity that the film required from him, shifted a bit.

And you know what, I’m OK with that because what the filmmakers could have went with was a CGI Arc reactor, as opposed to a practical one, though the problems it would bring would probably quickly disabuse them of the notion.  For instance, if it were computer-generated, it would have to look slightly different every time it appeared on screen because of changes in lighting conditions as well as his body shifting.

It’s certainly doable, by why would anyone want the added cost, when you could create an Arc reactor medallion, have him wear it, and save yourself (probably) thousands of dollars.

And besides, we’ve seen a movie that was so chock-full of computer generated effects that even the costume that the actor wore wasn’t real.

And we all know how well that went.

Like this movie, I am awesome!

A Movie About Me!  What Could Go Wrong?

‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Official Trailer 3

Here’s the latest trailer for “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” were our not-quite-so-merry band of mutants have to send one of their number back to the past to prevent a all-out war against mutant-kind led by the Sentinels.

If the early trailers were guilty of giving away too little, this one reveals a litte too much, though it does keep how things will end hidden.

But we already know that, don’t we (considering that all the X-Men properties have earned over $2 billion dollars, I think the outcome is pretty obvious)?

Though with movies of this sort, it’s less the outcome than the journey to reach it.

‘Sid Meier’s Beyond Earth’ Trailer

I should be a little reluctant to admit this, but I find the cinematics (the movies that bridge one section of a video game with another) fascinating.  For instance, I like Blizzard’s “StarCraft” but when I am being honest to myself I admit that I care slightly less about the gameplay than the cool little movies seeded throughout the game.

Which brings me to ‘Sid Meier‘s Beyond Earth.”  I have never played any of the ‘Sid Meier’ games, nor do I have any desire to.

But what an awesome trailer!

 

‘Maps To The Stars’ International Sales Trailer

As I understand it, this isn’t the actual trailer for David Cronenberg’s upcoming “Map To the Stars,” but one cut for the purpose of international sales.  I stumbled upon it–with more than a little help from “The Wrap”–though it makes me wonder why Cronenberg continues to work with Robert Patterson.  If their last film together, “Cosmopolis” was any indicator, we shouldn’t be at all surprised if he delivers a somewhat wooden performance.

Then again, I get the feeling that–as far as Cosmopolis goes–that that was exactly the performance that Cronenberg wanted from him, which is at least reason for some optimism as regards Patterson’s acting chops.

 

 

A Female Superhero Needs To Lead, Though It Shouldn’t Be Mystique (Not Yet, Anyway)

MystiqueI read last week on ScreenCrush that the producer of the X-Men films, Lauren Schuler-Donner, “is interested in taking that character (Mystique) into a solo film.

And if anyone were to ask me–and they haven’t–I would say, “Don’t do it.”

That’s not coming from the perspective of a hater.  I personally think that it would be awesome that a female character were popular enough to play lead in a superhero films, but Mystique isn’t a great place to start.

Mystique (comics)

And she looks much more interesting in the comics, too.

It’s not that I don’t like the character, she’s actually very cool and in the comics has a rich, vibrant history.

A history which the movies haven’t touched on virtually at all.  Most people don’t know who she is, other than she’s blue, a mutant, often seen as a villain, and a shapeshifter (though it doesn’t hurt that Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the character, is essentially nude).

And speaking of Lawrence, there’s what I like to call the ‘Jennifer Lawrence effect.’  The actress has been successful in everything that she’s been in, from the Hunger Games films, the X-Men movies, to the films she’s done with David O. Russell, though I don’t think that she’s big enough to carry a film based on a character that’s barely a supporting character in the X-Men movies.

And the thing is, filmmakers cannot afford to get this wrong.  The last film I recall a superhero film featuring a female character was 1996′s Barb Wire (based very, very loosely on the Dark Horse comic).  Boxofficemojo doesn’t list its production costs, but considering that it didn’t quite make $4 million, I think I understand why there wasn’t a sequel.

It took 9 years for another female superhero to appear, with the 2005 Jennifer Garner starrer, “Elektra (based on the character from Daredevil)  It cost $43 million to produce, and earned almost $57 million at the box office.

That not terrible, but it’s not profitable either.

And the other female superhero character was…There is no other.

Which is my point.  Studios cannot afford to get this wrong, and if they go with Mystique, they might.

Though that’s not to say that there no way that a female superhero can be successful, though if it happens it probably won’t be from Fox (and the X-Men franchise they license from Marvel).

It will more than likely be from Marvel Studios, and the character will be Black Widow.  As far as I am aware she’s the only female character that has the background and the presence to support an entire movie on her own.

And Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, is considering it.  Hopefully he firms-up on the idea before Lauren Schuler-Donner does because we have all seen what happens when studios don’t get it right (when it comes to women) the first time around.

Five Reasons That Will Contribute To Guillermo Del Toro Directing Doctor Strange

This post is entirely speculation, though it is based upon logic as well as current news.

Notice that in the title of this article I sad “could” as opposed to “would” because the last I heard was that Del Toro was busy working on Legendary Pictures’ upcoming fright-feature “Crimson Peak,” as well as executive producing the FX series based upon the trilogy he wrote with Chuck Hogan, “The Strain,” “The Fall” and “The Night Eternal.”

But I have been reading the tea leaves and checking the entrails regularly, and here’s what I have seen:

1.  Despite Rumors To The Contrary, Guillermo Del Toro Will Not Be Doing “Justice League Dark” Anytime Soon

Why?  Because NBC is working on “Constantine,” a series not based on the Francis Lawrence movie of the same name, but the DC (formerly under their Vertigo imprint) series, also of the same name.  While it’s possible that the character could appear in both places at the same time (this is, of course assuming that the television series has a long life), it’s probably not going to happen.  The character of John Constantine is the lynchpin that the team revolves around, and without him the concept is pretty much dead in the water, besides being somewhat esoteric.

Matt Ryan/John Constantine

Matt Ryan as John Constantine

And that’s even considering how much Warner Bros would have to invest from the budget end of things, which would probably be huge (though they could do it with a partner, as long as it’s not Legendary Pictures, since they and Warner Bros. somewhat acrimoniously parted ways.  That being said, they still work with Village Roadshow Pictures).

2.  DC/Warner Bros. Doesn’t Seem To Have Much Of A Plan Toward Developing Their Characters

Whether or not someone likes what Marvel is doing with their characters, you have to admit that they not only have a plan, but they are executing it really, really well.  This is primarily because the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, has apparently developed a plan to develop their characters, and is following it.  Marvel’s roadmap is divided into Phases:  Phase One consisted of “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” ” Captain America: The First Avenger,” and “Thor” and culminated in “The Avengers.”

Notice the pattern:  First there’s an introduction of the characters–which may or may not have more than one film in the future–and a film that brings them all together.

Phase Two consists of “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Guardians Of The Galaxy,” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Phase Three will consist of “Ant-Man,” “Captain America 3,” “Thor 3″ and “The Avengers 3.”

As I said, you don’t necessarily have to like what Marvel is doing, but what you can’t deny is that there is a plan at work.

Warner Bros/DC?  Not so much.  What seems to be driving them is profit above all, which I understand, but that’s not a plan.  Though it didn’t exactly start that way because for awhile it appeared that DC was building toward a Justice League feature–and probably still are–which began with “Green Lantern.”

Oh, but wait!  Green Lantern?  Don’t I mean Batman?  No, I don’t because Christopher Nolan’s Batman films aren’t necessarily part of DC’s greater cinematic plans because Nolan quite deliberately kept them separate from the rest of the DC Universe, which was probably not a great decision in retrospect.

Though that’s why “Green Lantern” was so important:  It was the beginning of DC/Warner Bros. establishing a larger canvas on which to display their properties.  If Green Lantern had worked they could have brought Ryan Reynolds back as the character in other DC films, such as the Justice League, or even the upcoming “Batman Vs. Superman” feature.

But it was not to be because Green Lantern was unable to recharge either his lantern or the box office, where it earned almost $220 million on a $200 million dollar budget; not enough to make a profit.

So DC rebooted Superman, in “Man of Steel,” without a doubt the most violent Superman film ever made.

Which could perhaps explain why that film made “only” $668 million dollars.  It’s a lot of money, but for a character as iconic and as firmly established in the public consciousness as Superman, it actually wasn’t that great a performance.

For the sequel, “Superman Vs. Batman,” DC will not only feature Superman and Batman, but Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor as the villain.  It seems apparent that they are trying to follow a strategy similar to Marvel, except more compressed.

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Spoilers Should Be Stopped (The Dawn Of S.E.T.R.E.P)

The Wrap Article

Welcome to the first meeting of S.E.T.R.E.P. (the Society Existing To Prevent Revelation of Essential Plot-Points) because life is hard enough without someone knowingly revealing information that a show took months to build up to, or the twist of a movie, or an important character dying in either medium.

The need for such an organization became clear when I innocently went into reading a story by Phil Pirrello, “Marvel’s ‘SHIELD’ and ‘Captain America’ Crossover:  Two Big Villain Shockers” from The Wrap on April 8th, at 6:38.

It’s important to note that April 8th is a Tuesday.

What’s so important about Tuesday, at 6:38 PM, you may ask?

Unless it’s preempted “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs on that day on the East Coast, at 8 in the evening, which means that the Pirrello post went live an hour and a half BEFORE the episode aired.

Is this what we have come to?  Revealing crucial plot points before a show even airs?  It sucks enough when it’s done soon afterward, but now writers are playing a game of ‘Beat The Clock’ to see which television series or movie they can ruin for viewers first?

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‘Wish I Were Here,’ Trailer 1

You ever watch a trailer and get the feeling that the director is probably trying to be too artsy?  Well, that’s there feeling that I get from watching “Wish I Were Here,” the latest film from Zach Braff, while also fighting the urge to type, “Wish You Were Here,” which is an awesome song by Pink Floyd, from the album of the same name.

It wasn’t too long ago that Zach Braff made news by partially financing his project through Kickstarter.  At the time some objected to him doing so because Braff is not exactly short of funds, he blazed a trail on Kickstarter that others, such as Spike Lee and Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars”), would follow to finance their projects.

Donald Faison is also part of the cast, whom I respond fondly from “Scrubs.”