Venom – Official Trailer # 2

Having just watched the latest trailer for Sony’s–In Association With Marvel!–Venom I have to admit that I like it a lot more than the first.

Though the American accent Tom Hardy appears to be ruining? Not so much.

But don’t misinterpret my meaning. I still think Venom–and the other characters of the SpiderVerse–belong with Marvel Studios though with the deal between Disney and 20th Century Fox essentially done, I’m content knowing the Marvel Studios sandbox has more than enough action figures to play with.

And before anyone even thinks it, the X-Men and Fantastic Four returning to Marvel Studios ISN’T a monopoly. They’re Marvel Comics characters so by way of analogy that’s like saying that reuniting those children separated from their families by our ‘President’ is wrong because…?

And besides, this is Sony so I have to do is be patient because the likelihood is high they’ll overplay their hand, screwing up the good will Marvel has returned to them with Spider-Man: Homecoming.

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What Cloak & Dagger Needs (To Do) To Succeed

Marvel Television, unlike their stablemates at Marvel Studios are very hit and miss as far as translating their characters goes.

So far–when they’ve dealt with ‘street-level’ characters like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, they’ve been relatively successful.

The problems arise when they try to tackle characters that exist is a more fantastical context than the streets of Hell’s Kitchen  (it’s worth mentioning that, budget-wise, Marvel’s Agents  of S.H.I.E.L.D. is likeliest the most expensive Marvel Television production thus far) where all roads lead to Inhumans, quite possibly their worst received production yet (including Iron Fist) which seemingly required more in the way of a budget than Marvel Television was willing to spend.

Which leads to Freeform’s upcoming series based on Cloak & Dagger.  They’re also street-level characters (the story is essentially Romeo and Juliet with superpowers) so they’re not far from what Marvel Television typically tackles.

The (potential) problems do with the depiction of their powers–with Cloak being much more problematic–in that on top of an ability to transport himself and Dagger he’s literally a walking doorway to another dimension.

And if that potentially weren’t enough of a hurdle, there’s a creature within that dimension that feeds of the ‘light’–which should be equated to ‘life’–of other living beings.

Now there’s no way of knowing if the series will stick closely to canon, but for it to not do so would be a wasted opportunity–the creature within Cloak could be treated as the physical manifestation of his own addiction, making his efforts to deny it the sustenance it needs all more poignant.

But that’s also not the cheapest way to approach the subject matter, which is where the concern comes in.

The greatest single expense of Cloak & Dagger is likely the depiction of his powers, and if Marvel Television tries to do it on the cheap the series will suffer for it.

 

Cloak & Dagger premieres on Freeform June 7.

Is Star Wars Too Massive To Fail?

No franchise is too big to fail, though typically a decline–the same logic applies to whether we’re discussing movie franchises or nations– comes before a fall.

And that’s important because if you pay attention to the signs you may be able to delay or even avert a worse-case scenario.

The Last Jedi is taking a bit of a bashing among a large amount of moviegoers–some have gone as far as starting petitions to have it removed from canon–yet despite this apparent animus the movie has earned almost $400 million domestically ($395,627,411) and a similar figure overseas (&396,061,433).

And that former figure is pretty amaxing when you take into account it has only been out eleven days domestically.

Part of its wellspring of profits has to do with–despite the anger it is generating in some quarters–that the same people who are doing the complaining are actually seeing the movie (and in some instances more than once).

Another important detail is that The Last Jedi may be angering some people but it’s doing so for all the right reasons, namely characters that many fans have literally grown up with have begun to change in ways that they don’t necessarily agree with.

But it is change, and proof Lucasfilm isn’t resting on their laurels (which likely had a lot to do with Transformers: The Last Knight underwhelming at the US box office.  After all, there is only so many times you can blow something up before it gets not only boring, but tedious).

Though change is a double-edged sword in that if it’s done too quickly or perceived as too radical–like how Warner Bros treated Superman in Man of Steel (and Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice–you’re going to start with underwhelming box office receipts, which if not addressed have the potential to ruin a franchise.

And as critical as I tend to be of Sony Pictures, they at least saw the writing was on the wall as far as their Spider-Man franchise was concerned, and let Marvel Studios shepherd the character on it’s third reboot, resulting in the most profitable outing for the character yet  (an arguable assertion since Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007 while Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017 and the value of the American Dollar was likely higher; though the budget of the former was $285 million versus $175 million for Homecoming; on top of It earning just over $10 million less than Spider-Man 3).

So perhaps The Last Jedi isn’t necessarily a good metric to determine if people are growing tired of the Star Wars universe, which is the path to the Dark Side.

That responsibility will likely be carried by the next film in the series–as well as the new trilogy Rian Johnson is working on–because while The Last Jedi has clearly divided audiences, if J.J. Abrams can’t unite them, Johnson may have done more damage than the Sith every could.

Has DC Films Accepted That They Have Deep-Seated Problems, Or Are They Shifting Deck Chairs? Part I

The jury is still out, though what makes the most recent reorganization of DC Films not a bad thing in and of itself in that Warner Bros clearly sees that there’s a problem with their organizational structure and are working to address it.

Unfortunately, it reminds me somewhat of rearranging desk chairs on a little ship that was supposedly unsinkable.

And we all know how well that went.

And I think one of the problems is the dual management system that seems in vogue at DC Films (and by extension, Warner Bros).

In this instance we have Geoff Johns as co-president of the shingle–and let’s be clear.  DC Films isn’t strictly speaking a film studio (like Marvel Studios).  They may have a physical location, but most of the heavy lifting in making a movie is actually done by Warner Bros–and someone to be determined due to John Berg’s departure from the position.

I assume Warners does things this way because Johns brings knowledge of DC Comics, while the second president brings deeper knowledge of Warner’s corporate culture and the knowledge to navigate it to direct resources and systems effectively.

And that’s not a great way to do things. What would be more effective would be a single president of DC Films –and  importantly one who’s well-versed in the comics, though their knowledge has to be by no means encyclopedic because there are plenty of people on DC Comics’ end to supplement it–though the ability to navigate Warner Bros (and the companies that deal with them being more essential).

And let’s look at a crucial reason why.

DC Films movies tend to be significantly more expensive than those from Marvel Studios.  Justice League, before the reshoots by Joss Whedon, had a production budget somewhere in the ballpark if $220-250 million, but can you see all the money on screen (despite the copious–or excessive, depending upon how you look at such things use of green screen)?

Thor: Ragnarök released a few weeks earlier, looks just as expensive, but guess what?  It clocked in at $180 million, which means it has a significantly lower threshold to profitability, something Justice League could really, really use.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Trailer

I see what they’re trying to do with Jake Kasdan’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but for the life of me I’m not entirely sure why (other than a studio banking on nostalgia and an establised iP, that is).   I haven’t seen Joe Johnston’s 1995 Jumanji, which I assume this movie is a reboot of, in awhile but this feels so…excessive.

And perhaps that approach is warranted, since the movie is revolving around a video game system, as opposed to the board games of the prior movies.

Though Jumanji–and it’s sequel of sorts, Zathura–felt like relatively small affairs when all is said and done, while the reboot feels massive and lacking the intimacy–and perhaps the heart–of those earlier films.

And while I know that Sony has a deal in place to share Spider-Man with Marvel Studios that deal likely does not extend to this movie.

Here’s a closeup of the above poster…


And here’s a closeup from one of the stingers (end credit scenes) at the end of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

Coincidence!?  Probably.

The DCEU Finds Redemption

There a story on Superherohype where Ben Affleck says that the portrayal of Batman in Warner Bros/DC Films upcoming Justice League would be a more ‘traditional’ portrayal of the character.

What!?

The fact that Affleck has to tell viewers this is indicative of perhaps the greatest problem the DCEU has (yet) to overcome: namely a loss of support from their core audience, which are the people who grew up reading the comics these characters first appeared in.

Which is such a weird place to be because it’s a problem of their own making in that all they needed to do was to make their superheroes more faithful (I understand that no character translates wholly intact from the printed page to the movie screen but it’s almost as if Warner Bros wasn’t even trying) to how the characters appeared in the comics, then literally sit back and rake in the cash.

But if Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have shown us anything, it’s seemingly not quite that easy.

Or does it?  Maybe the greatest problem with the three aforementioned movies has less to do with their their fidelity to the source material (though that’s certainly there) than an attempt to be visually and esthetically different from Marvel Studios.

And on some level that’s understandable.  What isn’t is creating such an esthetically and morally unappealing interpretation of Batman and Superman (though what’s worse is that there’s nothing wrong with such portrayals per se.  It’s more a question of starting with a more traditional interpretation then have events turn the character dystopic–which was said, but never shown in reference to Batman).

That’s an important journey viewers would have not enjoyed embarking on, and would have shown the seminal events that resulted in a murderous Batman (something the character studiously avoided during for the bulk of time he has existed).

Wonder Woman–for the DCEU–is literally a game changer in that it not appears more faithful to the comics than the aforementioned movies, yet managed to appeal to both critics and the bulk of the moviegoing audience.

It may not have quite restored faith in the fledgling cinematic universe that is the DCEU

Reviews Have Begun To Drop For Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

Reviews have begun to drop for Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and while it’s early days yet, let’s just say they haven’t been charitable.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy was particularly tough on Besson’s latest effort, saying, ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets really is that bad, bad enough you don’t know for longest time that Valerian is one of the lead characters and not a planet or a spaceship.’

Ouch.

Steve Pond  of The Wrap was slightly more charitable, saying ‘(Luc) Besson takes all that fun and color, along with a wild array of fantastic creatures, and deploys (them) in service of a big, dopey story that remains resolutely uninvolving and quite often annoying.’

Now, as I said earlier, it’s early days yet and a few mediocre reviews aren’t likely enough to torpedo Valerian’s chances at the domestic box office (after all, it’s taken five movies before many moviegoers in the United States noticed that the Transformers movies are really, really bad).

Though I get the feeling at that we’re not going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming-type box office when the movie goes into wide release.