Monthly Archives: May 2013

Movies for Memorial Day 2013

The Big Red One Copyright 1980 Warner Bros.

The Big Red One
Copyright 1980 Warner Bros.

With Memorial Day coming up on Monday 5/27, I would like to thank all veterans and active members of the armed forces for their service and sacrifice.

Every Memorial Day Weekend my ritual is to check the TV listings for the war movies I grew up watching, classic war films I haven’t seen before, and a Band of Brothers marathon.  Judging by this weekend’s TV schedule, most of the films I’ll be watching this weekend will be on Turner Classic Movies and streaming video.

Here’s a list of notable movies this weekend (all times listed are EST):

On Turner Classic Movies:

Saturday, May 25:
Sergeant York (1941) 10:30 PM

Sunday, May 26:
Back to Bataan (1945) 11:00 AM
They Were Expendable (1945) 1:00 PM
The Green Berets (1968) 3:30 PM
Battleground (1949) 8:00 PM

Monday, May 27:
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) 6:15 AM
The Best Years of Our
Lives (1946) 5:00 PM

On Netflix:
The Battle of Britain (1969)
Von Ryan’s Express (1965)

On Amazon Instant Video:
The Big Red One (1980)
Gallipoli (1981)
Sahara (1943)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
We Were Soldiers (2002)
Band of Brothers (2001)
Fixed Bayonets (1950)

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A Look at Marvel Studios’ Phase 3 Movies

I’m a big fan of how Marvel Studios used the post-credit scenes in Iron Man, Thor and Captain America during Phase 1 of its movie releases to drum up enthusiasm for 2012’s The Avengers.  It didn’t disappoint, and now Phase 2 is barely underway and I’m already thinking about what lies ahead for Marvel Studios, particularly the films in discussion for Phase 3.

Phase 2 launched with the release of Iron Man 3, and continues to 2015 with Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and ending with the eagerly anticipated Avengers 2.  I have to admit, I was surprised with their choice of Guardians of the Galaxy considering they’re less well known to the non-comic book reading movie audience (I was hoping for a team like The New Mutants).  Considering the level of excitement the studio has for Guardians there should be significant marketing for it, but I’m still skeptical it can draw a large audience.

But while the films of Marvel Phase 2 have me excited for their upcoming release, some of the characters Kevin Feige mentioned to Entertainment Weekly regarding Marvel Studio’s Phase 3 have me intrigued.

CONFIRMED:

Ant-Man

Ant-Man Cover

Release Date: November 2015

Director: Edgar Wright; Screenwriter: Joe Cornish

Ant-Man has been in development for awhile now, and is on the slate for a 2015 release with Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) attached to direct.  The choice of Ant-Man wasn’t as surprising as Guardians considering the character has been around since the 60’s and was a member of The Avengers, but one concern that I hear the most from comic book fans is if Ant-Man is able to hold his own in a feature film like Iron Man or Thor.  His powers aren’t the most exciting for a superhero: he can shrink to the size of an ant and yet retain his human strength, and his helmet allows him to communicate with ants.

When I think of Ant-Man, the first thing that comes to mind is the ribbing he received in this Saturday Night Live sketch back in the 70’s.

An Ant-Man cameo in 2012’s The Avengers would have been a good introduction prior to his feature debut, but Wright felt an appearance in The Avengers wouldn’t be conducive to his film.

STRONG POSSIBILITIES:

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange Cover

Possible Release Date: 2016

Doctor Strange has always been on my wish list for the movie treatment.  At age six I stayed up late the night of September 6, 1978 to watch Peter Hooten play the title role in the CBS made-for-TV Doctor Strange movie, and I’ve been waiting for someone to get it right ever since.  Since his comic book introduction in 1963, Doctor Strange has been brought to life by such talent as Stan Lee, Steve Ditko,  Bill Everett, Marie Severin, Gene Colan and Frank Brunner, but it was the Roger Stern/Marshall Rogers/Paul Smith runs of the early 80’s that solidified my appreciation of the character.

The casting of Doctor Strange should be interesting.  Prior to seeing Iron Man, I had envisioned Robert Downey Jr. as Stephen Strange.  But now that he’s firmly entrenched in the role of  Tony Stark, that’s unlikely to happen.

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Cover

I wasn’t a fan of the last two Hulk films, and prior to The Avengers I wasn’t sure how the Hulk would be utilized.  I always saw him as more of a Defender than an Avenger.  Mark Ruffalo did a great job as Banner/Hulk and I’m hoping he gets another chance at a stand-alone film.

HOLDING OUT HOPE:

The Inhumans

The Inhumans Cover

I first heard of the possibility of an Inhumans film a couple of years back and they deserve their own feature film.  Normally I would say they should at least be introduced in a Fantastic Four film, but hopefully that won’t happen considering how Fox (in my humble opinion) wasn’t able to provide the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer or Galactus with feature film adaptations that were worthy of their stature in the Marvel Universe.

Daredevil

Daredevil Cover

Another personal favorite of mine that I hope gets done right on film sooner rather than later.  I got my hopes up when Joe Carnahan released this sizzle reel with elements from Taxi Driver and The Warriors, but it’s looking doubtful that The Man Without Fear is high enough on Marvel Studio’s priority list for a reboot any time soon.  The silver lining: at least it’s back with Marvel Studios (along with Ghost Rider, The Punisher and Blade).  As much as I would like to see Daredevil as a feature length film, I think it would work even better as a TV series. Hopefully Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will take off and open the floodgates for more Marvel characters on TV.

MY PERSONAL WISH LIST:

The New Mutants
Alien Legion
Marvel Team Up
The Defenders
Black Panther
Power Man and Iron Fist

Hopefully the films of Marvel Studios’ Phase 3 will lead to a Phase 4 in the following decade.  Until then, there will be plenty of discussion as to which characters deserve the feature film treatment, but more importantly there will be plenty of Marvel films to tide fans over.  Excelsior!

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A look at this summer’s comic book films

Based on the strength of Iron Man 3’s performance last weekend, grossing $170 million domestic and $680 million worldwide, moviegoers and critics that predicted (and in some cases hoped for) the decline of the comic book movie will be disappointed.

For a guy that grew up in an era that didn’t have that many comic book movies released, and with many of those that were released not measuring up to their respective source material, it feels like we’re finally living in a Golden Age of comic book movies and I’m hoping there’s no end in sight.

Sometimes my comic book fandom interfered with my ability to enjoy a comic book film on its own merits.  I used to be a staunch believer that a comic book movie had to be as close to the printed source material as possible, but I’ve had a change of perspective over the last couple of years.  When the first wave of comic book movies was released, my complaints usually began with the changes made to the superhero costumes.  (Wolverine’s yellow costume wasn’t cinematic enough?  Then use the brown costume!)  But over a time, a personal caveat like Captain America’s costume deviating from the classic Joe Simon/Jack Kirby design was overshadowed by my pure enjoyment of a film.  Now I accept the need to balance respect for the source material (particularly the characters and their origins) with the new ideas filmmakers can bring to the franchise.  Rather than seeing the film version as a verbatim representation of the comic book, I now go into each film wanting to see it as a new adventure for the characters.

With the latest influx of comic book related films summer has now become my favorite time of year for moviegoing, and this summer’s lineup of releases has me planning my trips to the multiplex.

Here’s a look at the upcoming comic book films for Summer 2013:

Man of Steel

Man of Steel Movie Poster

Release Date: June 14

Directed by Zac Snyder; Screenplay by David Goyer

Starring Henry Cavill (Superman/Clark Kent), Michael Shannon (General Zod), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Russell Crowe (Jor-El), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Diane Lane (Martha Kent)

See the trailer here.

Man of Steel is the summer 2013 film I was looking forward to the most.  Back in ’06 the trailer for Superman Returns, complete with a voice over by Marlon Brando from 1978’s Superman: The Movie, made me think that Bryan Singer had taken the first step in reigniting the Superman franchise.  Unfortunately the trailer was better than the film, which was little more than a re-hashing of Lex Luthor’s scheme from Richard Donner’s Superman.  This time around, everything about the trailer for Man of Steel has me wanting to see this film.  While it is a reboot, it has elements from both Superman: The Movie (the origin story) and Superman II (General Zod).  The tone is a little darker than I expected but the cast, from Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Michael Shannon as General Zod, looks fantastic.  Christopher Reeve instinctively comes to mind when I think of the role of Clark Kent/Superman, but I’m looking forward to seeing Henry Cavill’s take on Superman/Clark Kent.

Red 2

Red 2 Movie Poster

Release Date: July 19

Directed by Dean Parisot; Written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber; Based on the comic book by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner

Starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones

See the trailer here.

I hadn’t read Warren Ellis’ and Cully Hamner’s comic book mini-series prior to seeing Red in 2010.  The film wasn’t on my radar at the time and I rented it because I thought it would be a fun movie.  It ended up as one of my favorite films that year, and Red 2 is one of the films I’m looking forward to the most this summer.  Willis, Malkovich and Helen Mirren played well against each other in the first action comedy, and from the looks of the trailer Red 2 is cranking up the firepower with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Byung-hun Lee.

The Wolverine

Wolverine Movie Poster

Release Date: July 26

Directed by James Mangold; Screenplay by Mark Bomback

Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), Will Yun Lee (Silver Samurai), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shingen Yashida), Tao Okamoto (Mariko Yashida)

See the trailer here.

Wolverine.  Japan.  Silver Samurai.  ‘Nuff said.  Watching the trailer for The Wolverine brought me back to the early 80’s and Marvel Comics’ four-part Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont, Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein and Uncanny X-Men #172 and #173 by Claremont, Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek.  Silver Samurai is one of the more under-utilized villains of the Marvel Universe in my opinion and his appearance vs. Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men 173 (September 1983) is one of my favorite hero/villain match ups of the 80’s.

Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2 Movie Poster

Release Date: August 16

Written and directed by Jeff Wadlow; Starring Aaron Tayl0r-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonathan Mintz-Plasse, and Jim Carrey

August’s Kick-Ass 2 brings back Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s teen heroes.  Like Red, the first Kick-Ass was another unexpected surprise for me when it was released in 2010.  Red Mist (Mintz-Plasse) is back for revenge as The MotherF***er, and Jim Carrey’s Col. Stars and Stripes joins Kick-Ass and Hit Girl in this adrenaline fueled sequel.

This looks like a good summer for comic book films with a good balance between superheroes and action comedy, but it’s only a primer for 2014 and the upcoming releases of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Luckily the release of Thor: The Dark World on November 8th will hold us over until then.

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