What The Heck Is Going On With Justice League Dark?

Screenshot 2016-08-24 17.24.35.pngWarner Bros/DC Films’ Justice League Dark has had one of the most confusing journeys in to theaters in recent memory.

Originally intended as a project for Guillermo del Toro to direct, for unknown reasons those plans were abandoned, and it morphed into a cartoon (It’s worth mentioning that how the situation unfolded–minus the animation–is vaguely similar to how he was treated by Legendary Pictures, where he was set to direct the sequel to Pacific Rim before that project passed to Steven DeKnight–Spartacus, Marvel’s Daredevil–with Del Toro remaining as a producer, which is the case with Justice League Dark as well).

At the time that made no sense to me, and how the situation has evolved hasn’t made things any clearer, especially when you consider that Del Toro is indisputably one of the best directors of the weird and fantastic, so why he would move on from a project he originally seem very intent on helming feels a bit odd.

And things only get weirder because today  Comic Book Resources reported that Doug Liman, who was originally in line to direct Gambit for 20th Century Fox (a troubled production that won’t see the light of day any time soon) has turned up at the helm of Justice League Dark.

Yeah, I’m confused too because this latest turn of event literally makes no sense that I can see.

First off, why did Del Toro leave the production in the first place.  Then, why was the live action movie seemingly abandoned for an animated one.

And if things weren’t messy enough, how has the project returned, in a feat worthy of John Constantine himself, under Doug Liman?

And that’s not to imply criticism of Liman because he’s a really talented director but it feels to me that Guillermo del Toro is being treated a bit shabbily.

Split – Trailer into Reaction

Split posterM. Night Shyamalan continues to have a very interesting career.

For awhile, he was by some considered the heir apparent” to Steven Spielberg, which is very rarified air.

And I can’t imagine that not going to his head a little bit, which probably has at least a little to do with Lady in the Water.

That being said, I thought you could see a decline in his powers with movies like Signs and The Village, despite both of those movies being very profitable and well-received–for he most part–by critics.

Though it was with the followups, Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth that his creative bankruptcy became apparent.

It’s also no coincidence all four underwhelmed at the box office as well.

Though Shyamalan continued to work, producing movies like Devil and working in television.

He came back to the cineplex in 2015 with The Visit.

And while not as good as his strongest works, such as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, it was a return to form. It was released by Blumhouse Pictures, a studio built on low-budget horror and thrillers.

His follow-up, Split, also comes via Blumhouse and stars James McAvoy as a man suffering from multiple personality disorder.

Arrival – Trailer into Reaction

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Here’s my reaction trailer to Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. It looks pretty interesting, and I like the seemingly more cerebral approach to the material.

In other words, it reminds me of Independence Day, but a little more thoughtful and nuanced.

And I’ll try harder not to call it The Arrival, which was a Charlie Sheen movie from 1986 though–as you can tell from my video–I wasn’t terribly successful.

The Edge of Seventeen – Trailer

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I don’t tend to be a comedy guy–I enjoy them, but don’t tend to go out of my way to catch one–but the trailer for Kelly Fremon’s The Edge of Seventeen really caught my attention.

First off, it apparently recognizes that the best comedy comes from tragedy, so there’s a girl, Nadine Byrd (Hailee Steinfeld), who’s doing her best to navigate the waters of rapidly approaching adulthood.

This journey is made even more perilous by her brother, who’s confident where she’s timorous, popular where she’s a wallflower.

And if that weren’t bad enough, he’s fallen for her best friend.

And there’s Woody Harrelson, a guidance counselor (or favorite teacher.  You really can’t tell from the trailer) of Byrd’s who acts, at times, as an unwilling witness to her angst.

And by the way, Tom Cruise, The Edge of Seventeen is a great title for a movie of this type.

‘The Edge of…’ just about anything is a terrible title for a hard sci-fi feature (which doesn’t apply to the Star Trek episode, City on the Edge of Forever because it issued from the always fertile mind of Harlan Ellison).

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Official Olympics Trailer

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Does the image to the left remind anyone else of the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind when the alien mothership hovers over Devil’s Tower?

That’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw this image from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The other thing was that, if I’m lucky, it might also be the first movie directed by Gareth Edwards that I think I might enjoy.

Monsters was underwhelming, and Edwards with Godzilla pulled of the seeming impossible: namely making a Godzilla movie that was dull.

Here’s to Rogue One making up for lost ground, directorially speaking at any rate.

Stop Implying Nefarious Motives For Ghostbusters (2016) Box Office Performance

Screenshot 2016-08-11 17.23.06For a movie who’s job was to reboot a blatantly uncontroversial movie, the 2016 reboot of Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters proved remarkably controversial.

And while I’d rather not rehash the whole  debate, I was reading a story from Brett White from Comicbookresources‘ Spinoff Online, where he draws a comparison between the way numerous movies are treated; commenting upon which get a sequel, and which don’t.

One of the points he raises is how Ghostbusters is doing better than numerous other movies from a financial standpoint, such as Star Trek: Beyond, at a comparable time and yet while that latter is apparently receiving a sequel yet Ghostbusters isn’t.

Though there are problems with White’s logic.

First, just because a studio says that a movie is getting a sequel doesn’t make it so. I mention this because Star Trek: Beyond has earned just over $198 million, which means that despite Paramount saying that there will be one doesn’t mean that there will actually be the case (and if its box office doesn’t increase significantly before it leaves theaters, the likelihood of that diminish accordingly).

Second, he makes a comparison between the box office of Ghostbusters and X-Men: Apocalypse but that’s a problematic comparison at best because the latter movie has earned over $534 million during it’s theatrical run, on a budget of $178 million.

So, despite the relatively weak legs of Fox’s X-movie it’s made enough to get a sequel.  If Ghostbusters had earned as much–legs or no legs–then it would as well.

Though it hasn’t.

And that’s not to say that there weren’t bad actors on Sony’s side as well as the fan community, but when all is said and done–despite all the mud-slinging and vitriol–if Ghostbusters were profitable, then who said what to whom would be irrelevant.

Suicide Squad – Review

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“David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is a better movie than either Man of Steel or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Which unfortunately isn’t saying all that much.”

By my reckoning the greatest problems with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was that director Zach Snyder forgot–or choose to ignore–two important things:

First, both Batman and Superman were originally made for children.  Now, I can understand the drive to make them more acceptable to adults, but what I don’t get is why he had to alienate younger folk in the process.

Though by doing so he removed two of the things that made them (particularly Superman) interesting to their millions of fans, which is a sense of wonder and possibility.

And while Superman was never my favorite superhero, I also never though of him as a god, something that Snyder has fixated on and feels the need to bludgeon viewers over the head with.

Zach Snyder’s fingerprints are all over Suicide Squad as well, particularly his tendency to equate murkiness and dreariness with darkness of tone.

And I’m also not sure that David Ayer was a good choice for the material (especially considering his filmography, such as End of Watch and Fury, though to be fair he seems to get that this stuff is essentially silly, so nothing’s any more serious than it needs to be) though he seems acquit himself well.

What’s more problematic is that the story–also written by Ayer–is way bigger than it needs to be.  Deadshot, El Diablo, Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn, Slipknot, the Enchantress and Killer Croc are like the Avengers composed of lesser versions of Hawkeye, with the exception of El Diablo, Headshot and the Enchantress.

Which isn’t to say that they can’t be lethal, but if you’re looking for someone to stop an evil that threatens the world they probably wouldn’t be the first group you’d call.

But there’s a more serious problem that directly links to Zach Snyder’s treatment of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Namely Batman, when he encounters Deadshot and Harley Quinn, he kills neither one. If you recall in Batman v Superman he was really keen on killing virtually every person that opposed him.

Here? Not so much.

It’s not a corner that half-decent writing couldn’t get themselves out of, though it’s also a place that Snyder shouldn’t have taken the character in the first place.

And I fully understand that the movie would have been quite a bit shorter if Batman killed off Deadshot and Harley Quinn, but it would have also been truer to what Zach Snyder was doing before the soft reboot of the DC Extended Universe, which Suicide Squad is the first movie in.