TraThursdayLer — December
Captain America: Civil War
Another year, another Marvel "blockbuster event of the summer".
Doesn't that make you just so very excited!? Ok, but honestly? Haven't we reached a saturation point yet?
Based on this trailer, it already feels that way. Then again, many people don't count themselves among the comic book faithful and still laid down their fare for every feel in the Marvel canon. So it seems, what with the introduction of a gleeful 'twist' in the plot — the heroes fighting EACH OTHER!??!?! — the audiences will continue to fill theaters in droves.
But does that mean it will be better? A welcome departure, perhaps? Or will it just be the same way to skin a cat?
That said, this looks right on par with Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is one of the better films in the Marvel canon. As I wrote recently, Steve Rogers is one of the very few superheroes whose character makes for a consistent, nuanced character for the cinema. Civil War introduces a host of new characters, sure, but will that take away from what made the Captain America movies the best? It's narrowed focus on character, motives and values? The action, the motifs, the production level, Civil War will certainly come off as epic. Just how many epics can audiences handle?
As someone who fell head over heels in love with the world of Warcraft before it became the World of Warcraft, I have to say this has me intrigued.
The choice of Duncan Jones (son of Ziggy Sta— er, David Bowie) as director was further proof that perhaps this could be more than a 'blockbuster event of the summer'. His recent work, Moon and Source Code, are both intellectual takes on tested narratives — space travel and time travel. So it was an intriguing prospect to see what he could do with medieval fantasy (*cough* travel).
Jones took the film in an intriguing direction. Running with the theme that made the recent Planet of the Apes reboot effective, Jones turns the dial of 'protagonist/antagonist' on its head. The orcs, overtly posed as the antagonist's in the original games and gradually developed over time to be more neutral (in a morally relative way), are now sympathetic. They have more in common with refugees or the Native Americans forced from their lands into stranger ones. They appear to have a moral compass.
That the film is almost entirely in CGI will no doubt be a nagging feature (even Paula Patton's teeth look to be computer generated). Considering the sheer amount of films that employ CGI now (and that it's adapted from a video game), it's not a surprise. It just feels like a part of me dies every time someone chooses a computer wizard over a practical effects craftsmen.
With the sheer amoutn of action in this trailer, I dare say those who were fans of the peon class in the original games will be sadly left disappointed. 'We're being attaaaaaacked!'
This movie looks insane. Like, insane enough I can't think where to begin.
Best then to begin where one should always being in these situations: Oscar Isaac. Possibly the most scintillating performer to hit the mainstream in some time via his roles in Drive, A Most Violent Year, Show Me A Hero, Ex Machina, and Inside Llewellyn Davis. All excellent works, all reliant on his performances, all elevated by his presence. This bodes well for Star Wars: The Force Awakens cause guy is in that. Should be nice.
Mojave is distributed by A24 — the company has brought to the fore some of the most ambitious, original films in the last few years such as Ex Machina, Spring Breakers, Under The Skin, and Locke, to name a few — Mojave appears to be right in their wheelhouse. As in, predictably 'WTF?' territory.
It has the feeling of so many great cult films, bleeding the desert aesthetic insanity of Near Dark with any number of neon-induced Los Angeles-set films. That the entire premise hinges on a character meeting his philosophical opposite in the middle of the desert like a vision quest hallucination is downright ballsy writing.
Count me in.
In a landscape dominated by superhero movies and their ilk, films that choose to subvert the public's fascination with superior beings are always a daring endeavor. In recent memory, the films that sought to elevate the superhero genre in such a way include both the good, Chronicle, and the bad — Hancock.
There's a good bet this should fall into the former category. Why you ask? Because once more, director Jeff Nichols' particular style makes its way back on screen. To boot, he's compiled a killer headline ensemble starting with his frequent collaborator, Michael Shannon, and bolstered by Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, Sam Shephard and youngster Jaeden Lieberher.
The intrigue here is in the subtleties. If you judge by the public's embracing of cartoon, stock superheroes like Captain America (hey, didn't we check out his newest trailer?), the concept of a superhuman is downright exciting. Of course, we know that isn't true. Far less shows of power have gone to frighten us. The focus then is on the minutiae of how society would treat the reality. As in a previous Nichols, Take Shelter, the truth in the child's capabilities may not be revealed until very late in the film alllowing a lot of time for paranoia and a plethora of zealot-driven madness.
Rhys Dowbiggin @Rdowb @NPBroadcaster