TRIP

I’m going on a trip to Florida for a few weeks, so my blog will be pretty empty until the first week in August. I will try to post some things periodically but when I come back in August, there will be film and book reviews galore.

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The Odyssey Film Announcement

I am a huge fan of Greek mythology and have been since I was about twelve years old. Originally the Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan got me interested in Greek mythology but since then my fascination with it has expanded and I’ve read both The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer. Naturally, when the announcement that Warner Bros. has a movie based on The Odyssey in the works, I was overjoyed.

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Warner Bros. has chosen Stalingrad director Fedor Bondarchuk to helm the adaption. Although I have not seen Stalingrad, I have only heard good things about the film and this gives me hope for Bondarchuk’s take on the classic Greek myth. Also, Bondarchuk is an interesting choice because this suggests that Warner Bros. may not be taking the Hollywood approach to adapting The Odyssey and that may be exactly what the film needs.

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I can’t wait to see Odysseus braving his journey home after the Trojan War. I am also curious to see if the film will focus more on the mythological aspects or try to take a more realistic approach. Either way, I am extremely excited by this announcement. In addition, I am also hopeful that there will be flashbacks to the Trojan War, but I can understand if the film tries to be concise in this aspect as it could easily be a five hour movie, which is just impractical. I will settle for a three hour epic! There’s my thoughts on this new announcement and hopefully more information on this adaption will be released soon.

Fourth of July

In celebration of Independence Day, I have decided to compile a list of some of my top films about America. The films don’t have to be strictly patriotic or focus on America completely and these are just movies I think are awesome.

Django Unchained (2012) directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz. The Western genre is almost exclusively associated with America. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is unique in the Western genre because a former slave is the main character. What I like about this film is that the dialogue is smart and funny and seems to be effortless in doing so. Jamie Foxx takes up the mantle of a classic Western hero with ease and is stylishly cool throughout the film. This film made it on my list because it’s a twist on the classic Western genre.

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American Graffiti (1973) directed by George Lucas and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and Paul Le Mat. I first saw this film when I was about four and have seen it multiple times since. This film is a coming of age film about American teenagers in the 1950s. American Graffiti demonstrates what most people imagine the USA to be like (or at least what it was like). Although it isn’t as popular as Star Wars, it is a great piece of cinema, in my opinion, and definitely deserves to be viewed.

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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) directed by Joe Johnston and starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving and Hayley Atwell. I think by now it has been established that I love superheroes and their movies. Therefore no list would be complete without a superhero film. Captain America is so American that it’s in the title! And what’s more American than beating up Nazis? Captain America (Chris Evans) faces down a force of pure evil, the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). This film has a large variety of themes as well as great action sequences. It may not be the most well crafted or best made film of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but it is just an altogether fun movie. I personally prefer the sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but First Avenger has a larger emphasis on patriotism, so I thought it was a suitable choice for this list.

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Batman Returns (1992)

With the release of new pictures from Batman v Superman, I decided to review a former DC film that I had recently rewatched: Batman Returns.

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Batman Returns, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfieffer, Danny Devito and Christopher Walken, was first released in 1992 to a mixed reaction from both audiences and critics. While Batman (1989) tried to abstain from the camp style of the 1960′s TV series, some critics argued that Batman Returns went too far and was too dark. Certainly the Penguin’s plan of killing all the first born children in Gotham seems very dark indeed. However I would argue that Batman Returns is a largely misunderstood take on the Caped Crusader which deserves to be reviewed retrospectively.

This film, in my opinion, attempts to establish the three main characters (Batman, Catwoman and the Penguin) on a deep emotional level and for the most part succeeds. Within minutes of the opening credits, we see Bruce Wayne sitting alone in his study, just waiting for the Bat-signal to shine through the window, calling him out for duty. From this first scene of Wayne, it is clear that this Batman is perhaps different from we have seen before. By showing him alone in the study, waiting for the police to call him, it shows the emptiness that the character of Bruce Wayne feels and how Batman is his true self. Batman’s often characterized this way in the comics as well and I think that it is admirable that the film attempts to establish that Batman is who Bruce really is. Furthermore, Michael Keaton brings a depth to the character that had not been seen before from the like of Adam West in the 1960’s series. Keaton proved himself to be a suitable choice for the role in Batman, but Batman Returns proves him to be more than just a good actor but perhaps the best choice for the role of Batman. Keaton is able to move seamlessly from serious to comedic to romantic in mere minutes and this adds to his portrayal of the Dark Knight.

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Similarly, Michelle Pfieffer acts as if she was born to play the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman. At first I was hesitant in supporting Pfieffer as many fans had heralded her as the best Catwoman. Yet, her performance did indeed live up to the hype when I finally sat down to watch the film. Pfieffer goes from nervous secretary to the ultimate badass that is Catwoman without missing a mark. In addition, she is also believable in the role and it is clear that she is taking the role seriously. Perhaps the reason why I like Pfieffer in the role so much is because she stands on her own as a character and does not rely on anyone else to get things done. Often in superhero films, there is a lack of independent female characters with strong development; Batman Returns however seems to be an exception to this as Pfieffer’s characterization of Catwoman was one of the best points of the film.

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Danny Devito brings a new dimension to the character of the Penguin not previously seen in mainstream media. Devito portrays the Penguin as an outcast and, in some ways, his performance makes the audience feel bad for the bird-like villain.  The Penguin’s plan of killing all the first born children of Gotham seems extreme but it displays how far being ostracized can push some people. By making the Penguin appear to be an outcast rather than just a crime lord, there is also a clear connection between the Penguin, Batman and Catwoman. In some aspect, they are all outcasts from society and it is interesting to see how the different characters handle being outcasts. Whereas Batman turns to good, the Penguin turns to evil and revenge; Catwoman, on the other hand, is somewhere in between the two.

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Tim Burton’s dark and gothic style is an interesting choice in reflecting the style of the classic comic book stories of the Caped Crusader. The last shot of Catwoman standing on the rooftop with the bat signal in sight looks as if it had been lifted straight out of the comics. This dark style is the perfect choice to me for a Batman movie, and although the gritty style of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is interesting as well, Burton’s style brings a sense of eeriness to the film. Furthermore, Burton’s particular style of directing seems like the perfect transition between the camp TV series and the ultra-realistic Nolan Trilogy.

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To conclude, this film may have received mixed reviews from critics when it was released, but when revisited I believe it is a dark take on Batman as well as a fantastic piece of character development for the three main characters. Hopefully,  Batman v Superman film will attempt to develop the characters as much as Batman Returns did more than twenty years ago.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Photo

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is set to be released in May 2016. Today, this photo was released for the film.

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Superman (Henry Cavill) appears to be stern in this photograph and perhaps soon Warner Bros. will release more photos promoting the film.

My opinion of the photograph is quite positive. Although Man of Steel (2013) had many problems in my opinion, I am looking forward to this film. Man of Steel was overall a good film, but I had multiple problems with the ending and how Superman dealt with Zod. However, I still look forward to Batman v Superman because a whole world of possibilities is opened up for the DC Universe by teaming up these two iconic characters. The background of the photograph seems quite dark and (hopefully) we will get to see the streets of Gotham; yet I hope that Metropolis and Superman’s supporting cast get a bigger role in Batman v Superman as well.

Furthermore, I am glad that they have released this photograph because it shifts the focus back to the Man of Steel himself. Batman is one of my favourite characters, but I don’t think that DC should focus solely on him. Ever since the title for Batman v Superman was released last year in San Diego, many have criticised DC/Warner Bros. for bringing back Batman so soon after The Dark Knight Rises. Yet, Batman is one of the most popular characters in pop culture history, so their choice to bring him into this new DC Cinematic Universe is understandable.

Overall, this photo excites me because it is good to see that a lot of work is being put into this film. Hopefully we’ll get to see set pictures of other characters like Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor soon!

Thoughts

I have created the category of ‘Thoughts’ in order to share my opinions on the latest movie/book/comic book news. These posts will most likely appear more often than my reviews as they are easier to write. I will try to post in the ‘Thoughts’ category every day or every other day, depending on if it is a slow or fast news week. My first ‘Thoughts’ post will appear tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes from there.

Welcome!

From my earliest memories, I can recall watching cinema classics such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back with my dad and since then I have had an intense interest in all sorts of films. Recently, I have began to watch films from the 1950’s such as Sunset Blvd. and have been enamored by the way in which the film industry has changed in the past half century.

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My interest in literature did not establish itself as easily as my love of film did. I grew up in a house full of books as my mother is a Romance writer. Although my mother is a professional writer, I was still under a common misconception that many children believe: that books are boring. This all changed when I was introduced to C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew at the age of ten. The novel gave me a sense of wonder that I had not experienced before and therein sparked my fascination with literature. Currently I am reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë for my English Literature class and it has sparked my interest as it is completely different than anything else that I have ever read.

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