The Good, The Bad & The Verdict: War for the Planet of the Apes

Hey guys, me here with another well-written movie review to help you figure out which media you want to consume out there in the weird and wonderful marketplace that is our world. In the last couple of entries on this blog, I wrote about my current discontent and that by seeing films, I was able to escape that horrendous feeling for a few hours. I did that same thing again last night.

In a sub-par theater in the middle of fuck-stick nowhere, I treated myself to the latest film in the Apes reboot trilogy from director Matt Reeves. In War, Caesar (Andy Serkis), finds himself and his people in the middle of a deadly conflict with a special forces soldier (Woody Harrelson) and his men that, when concluded will determine the fate of what is left of America and the larger planet.

The Good

I say this with all of the conviction and credibility that a man like myself can possess, this is, to be quite frank, the single greatest conclusion to a trilogy of films that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Think of any third movie, either they shit the bed in a spectacular manner and damage the legacy of the installments that preceded them or, they have some sort of absurd element that is endlessly mocked and excoriated by those who watch the piece (The multiple endings in Return of the King being an example of this.).

War has none of that. The effects from Peter Jackson’s WETA are perfect, Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar for his acting and Harrelson’s villain is in the movie sparingly and not over-used. In the end, things come together in a nice bow and there are no pointless sequences designed to set up spin-offs in the “Apes Cinematic Universe”. Other directors could learn a shit ton from this movie.

The Bad

Ok, so I know I said that the film is perfect in literally every way I can think of, but I suppose this section should be filled out for completion’s sake. So here is the one bad part of this film…

Woody’s character wears sunglasses too much!

For real, I know the guy is supposed to be this big and bad dude who strikes fear into people. But he wears the things at night and even on cloudy days in the dead of winter. I don’t get it. Maybe people in the service wear them a lot as a means of defense? Who the hell knows.

The Verdict

The modern-day Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy and War is one of the finest bits of film-making ever conceived. If life has got you down and you find yourself in need of a pick-up to keep going, get all three of these movies and all three Toy Story films and binge for a night. They’re equal to each other in excellence and have just as many iconic moments between their entries.

Where to take Spider-Man

Before you read further, there be spoilers below!

Earlier today, in yet another attempt to escape briefly from the increasingly terrible rut and ho-hum life I find myself in, I went to see Spider-Man: Homecoming A.K.A Sony’s Apology for Fucking Up the Character. Now, normally, I would do one of those snazzy “The Good, The Bad & The Verdict” articles and the dozens and dozens of people who think I have talent as a writer would be impressed and would take my words to heart before flocking off towards the theater.

But, as I wrote one very recently for Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, I’m going to pass this time.

Instead, I want to tell you about an idea I had for where to take the character and the actors inside his world in future films. According to recent reports from Marvel, Peter Parker and crew have a five-film story in the M.C.U. One of those entries should introduce one of the other Spider-Men.

Now, to the common reader, I’m sure what I just said sounds a little silly. “But Evan”, you exclaim, “there aren’t any other Spider-Men, that’s just silly and borderline hogwash!” Well, you’d be wrong my dear man or woman, Peter Parker isn’t the only web-head in the world.

Ever heard of Miles Morales?

Introduced in 2011, the Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli created character was inspired by former President Obama and Homecoming star Donald Glover and spent much of his early publication history in Marvel’s alternate Ultimate universe before being introduced into the mainstream 616 continuity maintained by the one-time “House of Ideas” since the 60’s.
Initially, the characters reception was divided. While some lauded his creation and eagerly looked forward to what stories he’d be featured in next, I and others (Including rightist Glenn Beck.) saw the character as a bit of a gimmick designed to cash in on the new president.

Boy, was I wrong.

In the years since his introduction, Morales has grown into a character just as good, if not at times better than the original Parker. He is charming, has some cool different abilities and brings a really unique perspective to being a super-hero that isn’t often seen in the comic book form. Often times, black superheroes are adults or the sidekicks of older, decades old characters.

Though he’s getting his own animated film in the next few years, he needs to appear in the flesh in the M.C.U at some point. And that looks likely, given that…. SPOILER AHEAD….

Donald Glover plays the characters uncle in Homecoming and alludes to his existence!

If I had the chance to do it, I’d craft it as a buddy cop film. Have Peter and Miles work side-by-side to take down a pair of villains out in New York and the surrounding area. Often times it’s said that the various M.C.U films are different genres in disguise, so this could totally work.

Or, Sony could fuck it up again. And if that happens, we’re all being dis-served by not getting to see this character shine in person. He’s terrific and needs to be in a live-action film ASAP!

The Good, The Bad & The Verdict: Baby Driver

The last time I wrote one of these reviews, I was living in an area I loved, optimistic about the immediate weeks ahead and spending time with some wonderful people. Now though, as comedian Patton Oswalt so eloquently said after the death of his wife, “it feels like I’ve got the flavor of happiness, but none of the calories or nutrition”. And, what better way to channel that artificial feeling than going to see a film. This week, I treated myself to one-time Ant Man director Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver alongside one annoying relative and one chill one.

Taking place in Atlanta, the latest offering from the often-beleaguered Sony Pictures tells the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort), a music aficionado who earns a living as a wheelman for local crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) and works to repay a debt incurred to him years ago. When Baby meets charming girl Debora (Lily James), he begins to see beyond his high-risk life and starts planning for something greater. But before that, he has to carry out just one last job.

The Good

Man, oh man, does the soundtrack in this thing kick ass. Essentially, what you’re getting with Baby Driver is a musical in disguise. Scenes are often accompanied by a classic pop number and, at times (Though it doesn’t work as well as you’d think.), the action and beats within it sync up with elements of the songs chosen for the viewer. Tunes aside, Ansel Elgort continues to prove himself as a leading man in waiting (He was almost chosen for the troubled Han Solo movie.) and Mad Men alum Jon Hamm shines as “Buddy”, a bank robber who subtly seems to have gotten into the life of crime he now finds himself in due to more circumstances than choice.

The Bad

Two things about this movie that I hated. One, at some points in the film Wright and his cinematographer make the stylistic choice of using tracking shots for certain scenes. I don’t how this was supposed to work or what they were going for because it just made me dizzy watching. Those are best kept stable. Less Bourne shaky cam and more West Wing. Sadly, the first one is what you get at points in this piece. If you hate it, close your eyes.

Outside of that, once the third act of the film comes around, there are to be frank, some baffling character choices that I just didn’t understand. I won’t spoil anything, but a certain character opts to aid another for cliched reasons in spite of the fact that it would be better for her or him to not do so. I mean, it feels like Wright painted himself into a corner at that point and needed an out.

The Verdict

Baby Driver is a slick and well-shot heist film that you can dance in your seat to as you watch it unfold. Elgort and Hamm shine, but some poor visual choices and odd decisions in the third act prevent the piece from rising above the conventions of the genre and becoming a classic along the lines of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven remake or Michael Mann’s iconic and brutal Heat.

Adieu, A.U and D.C

Hey everyone, its I, your humble writer and well-traveled bald man with a beard (Coming to you from parts unknown. I’m fine, for the moment.). I just recently finished graduate school in America’s capital, earned a master’s degree in journalism and met many new and wonderful friends and even burned the odd bridge or two in the last 12 months. I had a blast, was taught by professors who are in my opinion leagues ahead of most from my undergrad and spent a small fortune on kick-ass Italian food (Much love Manoli Canoli. Miss you deeply.).

Now, I know that the media industry in general (For those who are ambitious and want to rise to prominence.) is a very migratory space and so as a result I generally am fine with moving around a lot, but for once, the same tradition of loading up the car and pulling out of the driveway attached to the dwelling where I used to sleep, eat, cry and use the bathroom is hitting me hard.

No, not in the way you think.

I’m not going to be a crying and blubbering mess on the floor and I am not sitting alone in a dark room binge eating ice cream. Instead, I find my mind is in a state of intense and heavy turmoil.

What does the future hold for me?

For the longest time, I had a very serious life goal I wanted to accomplish (I won’t get into it here for privacy reasons. But if you know me, you know what I am talking about.) and now I can actively feel it slipping away from me. What happens to one’s self when the thing they’ve wanted and been laser focused on for a decade turns out to be unobtainable? Most can adapt to be sure (That’s why Al Gore focused on the environment after 2000.), but what if I’m not in that space? Honestly, I fear that if things don’t turn out, I’ll end up being consumed and very bitter.

Going back to traveling and shifting residences, can I continue to do that in the future and not go crazy?

Already, I find that I’m putting off certain things that I normally would do because I know that eventually I’ll take off out of an area. I’ve avoided relationships and other community involvement opportunities to my detriment. What does it do to a person when they’re an island unto themselves constantly? I mean, I know people, but it gets increasingly hard to be apart from them.

Ultimately, I don’t know what the future holds. For now, all I can really do is apply for jobs and hope that I can find somewhere good enough to settle in. Though the nomadic lifestyle is fun, it is beginning to weigh on me. I’m not sure I can continue to do it, but don’t want to be bogged down somewhere that will drive me to absolute madness either.

 

 

Pitch: How I would Forge the Dark Universe

This week, the latest Tom Cruise helmed actioner/franchise starter The Mummy was released onto audiences around the globe. Though it is intended to be the commencement of a “Dark Universe” from the studio with no capes in its stable that is Universal, things are not looking too great. Historically, the entertainment industry is filled with aborted film franchises that never took flight because the first entry was a dud (Power Rangers, remember the Six planned films?). This is too bad, because with a few changes, a universe of classic monsters could be a smash hit.

Here are a few things I would do if given the creative reigns, though I don’t except a call from the studio. Apparently, they’re happy with the crew they’ve assembled to make these things.

Point 01. Don’t have them all in the Modern Day

Putting the Mummy and other iconic monsters in modern times right off the bat is stupid. Quite frankly, in a landscape where modern placed films are dominated by superheroes of the light and gritty variety, seeing London destroyed again or the Invisible Man traipsing about San Francisco or Las Vegas reeks of stupid imitation. None of these characters will be Avengers or members of the Justice League. In many ways, they’re products of unique eras and need to stay that way.

In my vision, I’d make each of the announced films period pieces and have them set at different times in American history. If you remember the old monster movies (And I don’t think you do.), a lot of the creatures in them wanted acceptance from society and once burned became scary.

Why not make each film a metaphor for a different outcast member of mainstream society at different points in history? It could totally work. Frankenstein could be a reanimated slave created by an ambitious scientist in order to turn the tide of the Revolutionary War. The Invisible Man? He’s a WW1 veteran with PTSD who was fucked up by chemical weapons of unknown origin. That could totally work. I won’t share it here, but my Wolfman take is even better. Going through different parts of this nation’s past with one character at a time before having them team up in the modern day is a far more interesting take. But alas, it won’t be adapted for the cinema.

Point 02. Give them a great Bad Guy to Fight

Let’s be real, if you’re going to get a bunch of supernatural characters scarred and marred by personal experiences together in one film, there’s only one entity that they could reasonably be threatened by and have to work together to defeat, and that’s Satan. Make him the puppet master behind the scenes who reveals himself in the present as a means to start WW3 and these characters (Who don’t age due to being marred by the Prince of Darkness.) will have a reason to come together, break the respective curses that haunt them and bring peace to the larger world.

Point 03. Don’t Overstretch

Universal, I’m going to give you some fucking real talk here so brace yourselves, ok, are you ready? Here goes….

THESE CHARACTERS CAN’T SUSTAIN A MARVEL LEVEL UNIVERSE!

Nope, not one bit. If they’re going to make films with classic monsters, give each one movie a piece and be selective about them popping up in the stories of others before the team up. Honestly, Frankenstein is not a character who could appear in 5 or six movies, let alone two or three. Same goes for the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man, Dracula and the Black Lagoon Creature. Keep it narrow, make each film look unique and you would have a great franchise. But based on how things are going, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And that dear reader, is a shame.