Does Sony Really Understand Their Marvel Properties?

Screenshot 2017-11-13 13.43.21Let’s see if I understand…Sony is moving full-steam ahead on their own corner of the Marvel Comics universe and recently announced features based on Venom, Silver Sable, Black Cat and most recently Morbius, the Living Vampire?

And let’s forget for a moment that Sony doesn’t exactly have a stellar record with managing their Marvel properties (Spider-Man 1 & 2?  Pretty good.  The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2?  Not so much) which is why I approach their latest development with such reticence.

And writers MATTER because what ruined The Amazing Spider-Man movies was not the direction, but the writing by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless are in negotiations to write Morbius.  If you’re not familiar with Sazama and Sharpless, they worked on Dracula Untold, The Last Witch Hunter, and Gods of Egypt, and Power Rangers.

What do all those movies have in common?  Every single one (arguably excluding Power Rangers) tanked at the box office.

And that’s not to say that the Morbius adaptation can’t be absolutely brilliant, though I wouldn’t hold my breath on it.

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Daredevil (2015) Ep. 1: Into The Ring

Daredevil poster

“An Auspicious Beginning For Marvel’s Un-Caped Crusader.”

Daredevil openingWhen I was growing up, comics not only taught me how to read, but they inspired me to action; I remember vividly running about New York City, trekking through Central Park like Cortez or exploring abandoned buildings with my not-so-super friends. And I would read–though perhaps devour is a better word–just about anything I could find, though I preferred comics. Batman, Green Lantern, The Justice League, I read it all. Though I gravitated most to Marvel.  There was something about their superheroes that hit closer to home for me.  I have no idea why, though it wasn’t because of their origins (after all, while I have been bitten by insects, they never gave me any enhanced abilities–though I do sometimes develop an annoying allergic reaction to mosquito bites).

Though I was never particularly fond of Daredevil.  Even Frank Miller’s run, while critically acclaimed, never moved me.  It’s not that I hated the character–far from it!–it’s just that he more often than not felt like pale copy of some much better characters. Then there was Ben Affleck’s turn as the Man Without Fear in the 2003 movie.  The costume was good, but the CGI was rubbery; though he acted like a blind version of Spider-Man. The movie wasn’t terrible, but also wasn’t differentiated enough from other more popular superheroes to work as as well as it should have. Enter 2015 and Netflix, who’s producing four 13-episode television series, based on Daredevil, Jessica Jones (who I have no idea about), Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Marvel Studios, unlike Sony and their Amazing Spider-Man franchise, realize that most people are familiar enough with superheroes that they don’t want to sit through hours of origin story, so how Daredevil comes by his abilities is literally over in the first three or four minutes–if that long.

I’m watching the first episode, Into The Ring, as I type.  And so far, it’s pretty good. The small screen suits the character, its confides somehow as restricting as Matt Murdock’s lack of sight.  The series has a very noir look, with lots of shadows and characters being defined by the reflected light emanating from the sprawling city all around them, which is a character in and of itself. And while I can’t (yet) speak to whether the entire first series will be as entertaining as Into The Ring, I’m optimistic. Verdict: Must See TV, Marvel Style.

Spider-Man Returns To The Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Morning After

Spider-Man, climbing

A few hours ago I wrote a piece for MoviePilot about Spider-Man’s return to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and overall I am pretty happy about the way things have turned out.  Technically speaking, it’s not quite Spider-Man returning to where he belongs, but under the circumstances it’s probably as good as it’s going to get.

That being said, there are caveats.  The most significant in my eyes being that Avi Arad is still going to be involved with the franchise, though in an Executive Producer capacity–prior he was a producer.  The problem is that Arad supposedly forced Sam Raimi to shoehorn in another villain to Spider-Man 3 (a move that pissed off Sam Raimi so much that he hired Topher Grace to play Eddie Brock/Venom for no other reason than Arad DIDN’T want him in the role) resulting in the the weakest of Raimi’s three Spider-Man movies, critically speaking–though in Arad’s defense, it was the highest grossing Spider-Man movie.

Another is that Kevin Feige is producing with Amy Pascal, the former Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), who also produced Marc Webb’s tone deaf The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Despite TASM2 Webb is a pretty talented director, though perhaps not the right person for the franchise) and let Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and their mediocre magic-blood filled writing virtually ruin the franchise.

Though hopefully Feige will be able to keep things under control, after all he has done exceedingly well guiding the course of the MCU (that being said, part of the deal is for the next Spider-Man to be produced by Sony–Feige and Pascal remaining as producers–with Spidey meeting with his compatriots from the Marvel’s end of the street, which begs the question:  With the contracts for many of the heavy-hitters in the MCU expiring (such as Robert Downey, Jr./Iron Man and Chris Evans/Captain America) then who is Sony expecting to turn up in their movie?

Though the best news of all is that this pretty much puts the kibosh on any Aunt May spy dramas that were under consideration by Sony.

‘Underworld’ Rebooted!

The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Underworld is being rebooted.  It’s been eight years since first entry in the trilogy (and two since the last film, Underworld Awakening).

And while I don’t necessarily think that eight years is a long time between reboots, at least it’s more than between the transition from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 to Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man.  

The thing is, a reboot of Underworld is not a bad thing, especially since the original films were little more than (visually speaking) Matrix knockoffs with vaguely supernatural overtones.  

This time around I hope that filmmakers spend less time finding out ways to better arm werewolves and vampires than to have them rely on their ‘natural’ abilities and leave the weaponry to humans, who need the assist.  

I also hope that the new movies are more on the horror side, as opposed to (somewhat generic) action films.

It’s not like there’s anything wrong with action films, though we could always use more horror films featuring werewolves and vampires.

 

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Superbowl Trailer

I really want to like this movie, but I am a little sensitive since being trade raped the last time.  Marc Webb’s first Spider-Man film was such as colossal mess that the honorable thing to do would have been to take it out back and shoot it.

Yes.  Watching “The Amazing Spider-Man” felt exactly like this.

Unfortunately, a “funny” thing happened:  despite an immense $230 million dollar budget, the film went on to earn over $750 million worldwide.

Which is profitable enough that I am surprised the execs at Sony could see beyond the dollar signs dancing before their eyes.

So they’re getting ready to go at it again.  From the trailers it looks like they’re definitely investing more money this time around.  Story-wise, like S.H.I.E.L.D. is the impetus for most things super powered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony appears to be making Oscorp the center of their Spiderverse.

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‘LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload’ Review

Check out the billboard!I hate to admit it, but “Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload” is much, much better than 2012’s “Amazing Spider-Man.”  It’s made for kids, but works really well for adults, too.

And it’s particularly cool the way whenever something crashes into something else that it breaks into squares – because everything is made up of Legos, even glass.  It’s just a shockingly awesome bit of animation, with more heart than that aforementioned lame Spider-Man movie.

And Sony really intends to crate a Spider-Man universe?  Based on ASM, I am really not feeling it.

Among the many things that I am not aware of, ‘Maximum Overload’ appears to be the first episode of a series.  I am almost afraid to watch anymore because I don’t know if they can maintain awesomeness of multiple episodes.

The Amazing Spider-Man Web Site Is Live

The web site for Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” has been live for a few days now, and from what I have heard about the film–beyond a basic plot synopsis–I find disappointing because it appears that they’re going to tackle his origin.

Again.

For the most part I enjoyed Sam Raimi’s take on the character–with the exception of “Spider-Man 3,” which seems to have gotten a bit out of control–but why Webb feels the need to revisit the origin of a character as renown as Spider-Man (who’s origin was covered by Raimi, though in his defense his film was the first).

Why not take the route that Louis Leterrier took with his reboot of “The Incredible Hulk?”  In that film The Hulk’s origin was revealed during the opening credits, which meant that the film could hit the ground running.

I will see the film regardless, though since Spider-Man is one of the most popular comic-based characters ever, it seems to me that people who don’t know something about the character don’t want to know anything about the character.

That’s cool, but don’t “make” everyone else sit through an aspect of the character that they already know.

Then there’s The Lizard.  Really?  For my money Mysterio is one of the most engaging enemies that Spider-Man has, yet for reason they feel the need to run with The Lizard, a character that’s little more than the Hulk with scales.