Film Bites: Feb. 16-24

I realize omitting the Oscars from what is ostensibly a blog focused on pop culture, entertainment, and storytelling is a little self-defeating and we all pay attention to it, myself included, but . . . really, fuck the Oscars. Why? Two reasons: a) I don’t have cable so I didn’t watch them or go to literally anyone’s house to watch them b) they really weren’t worth commenting on this year. If you’re interested, the results are here and a decent review of the show itself, hosted blandly by a bland Neil Patrick Harris, is here. On to the show.


 Steven Spielberg + Chris Pratt = Indiana Jones 5

As the possibility persists, the images of Pratt as Indiana Jones have conversely got to be better

So I’ve spoken before about how Chris Pratt probably doesn’t need to be Indiana Jones back when it seemed more an Internet rumor than actual possibility. But Chris Pratt has shown once again he doesn’t need my fucking advice, telling MTV at the Oscars, “It’s all nothing until it’s something, and so far? It’s not something.”

“I don’t think it’s overwhelming to contemplate,” he said. “The pressure would come because it’s such a great franchise, and you wouldn’t want to get it wrong. It would have to be perfect to do it, you know what I mean? So, we’ll see. Like I said, it’s nothing until it’s something.”

My perspective was, with his substantial contractual obligations to Marvel after the success of last years Guardians of the Galaxy, not only to its 2017 sequel but also the Avengers two-parter in 2018 and 2019, and new-found star status leading to another lead role in the upcoming Jurassic World, adding another hefty blockbuster role would be daunting. But Chris Pratt is so awesome, the pressure doesn’t even phase him.

Adding flame to the fuel was the rumor that Steven Spielberg wants to direct the new film, which is a bit like saying Zeus wants to be shoot lighting bolts. Of course he could but the question is, will he? It seems presumptuous without a script, something the story itself notes.

Self-defeating fan-wank speculation aside, let’s break down the geekgasm that is his upcoming slate: Jurassic World hits in June, he starts filming an Antoine Fuqua-directed remake of The Magnificent Seven alongside Denzel Washington in April, and passion project named, and this is real, Cowboy Ninja Viking just got the John Wick (awesome movie, that my Dad should see) co-directors. He’s been rumored for and offered pretty much every project and those project’s mothers. Looks like he’s holding out for the big ones.


Jason Momoa as Aquaman

This is our new badass Aquaman.

Pretty much what you expect/want when you hire Jason “Khal Drogo / Conan the Barbarian” Momoa to play him. Just thank god he’s not the Aryan-wannabe Ubermensch that the comics and cartoons at times portrayed him as.

In other modern-day Poseidon news, his cameo in the Justice League prologue Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been revealed to be . . . a cameo. Devin Faraci at Badass Digest details that he shows up on a metahuman scan performed by Lex Luthor and at the end when Batman assembles the Justice League. So that’s cool.

On a side note, some people think the Unite the Seven tagline refers to the Seven Seas. To which I say, why the fuck would you think that? Because the multibillion dollar company is trying to be evasive or, more likely, teasing the next huge franchise Warner Bros. hasn’t had since the Harry Potter series ended in 2011 (Don’t worry; it’s getting a prequel trilogy starting in 2016). To me, it reads as a tease of the members of the Justice League: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg. I know you were worried.


Black Spider-Man? 

Make him gay, too.

TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider said on the Meet the Movie Press podcast (which he co-hosts) that he was “95% sure” Spider-Man will not be white, raising the question if the Peter Parker persona will still be in the costume or if recent Ultimate version of the comic hero Miles Morales, a black and Latino character, will be the new iteration of the popular superhero.

“Spider-Man is going to be most likely black,” Sneider said. “But there is a chance he could also be Latino. 95% sure not white.”

When Morales is mentioned, Sneider adds, “I don’t think it’s going to be Peter Parker,” Jeff added. “I really feel strongly – Sony has an opportunity to beat Marvel and DC to the punch with sort of a major black comic book movie character. Like I mentioned last week, the e-mails that leaked were perceived to be racist in some quarters. I really think that is going to play into things.”

This is a thankful sign that Hollywood, probably the global leader in commercial entertainment, is starting to take its global status seriously – rather than making the fourth superhero movie starring a white guy named Chris.

Devin Faraci’s gives every reason Spider-Man-being-white is a totally meaningless concept and that changing ethnicity, coupled with an age-down, could make this new Spider-Man the kind of hero we both deserve and need. The idea of Spider-Man is that anyone could be behind the mask and the hero that five films and decades of comics have covered is a long-suffering white guy.

Changing the ethnicity reinvigorates that and gets back to the fundamentals of the character: he suffers for being a hero. Being a hero is NOT easy and this is always bruising Spider-Man’s boyish optimism. That’s why he is a hero; he gets back up, even though he shouldn’t, he’s young, he’s inexperienced, and he makes mistakes. He’s not Batman or Superman; he’s a regular kid.

As I reported before, the new MCU-version Spider-Man is penciled for July 28, 2017, part of an unprecedented deal between rival companies, Marvel Studios & Sony Pictures. Final note: White guys can still be heroes . . . but maybe after we give everyone else a shot for once.


Casting for Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse

In one corner, there’s the MCU, the Avengers mega-franchise that has redefined blockbuster and superhero filmmaking. In the other, the fledgling DCCU, with only one film to its name (Man of Steel), but a big crossover (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) to kick-off a slew of release dates that will absolutely, positively stick.

However, in a third corner, there’s Fox’s X-Men film series and spinoffs and their series of Fantastic Four films that they keep swearing will absolutely, positively actually be good. However, part of The Avengers Effect was the final embracing of sweeping genre and franchise filmmaking, which gave us last year’s time-travel/proto-reboot X-Men: Days of Future Past and its $700 million gross.

Excited to welcome @kodismitmcphee to the cast of #XmenApocalypse as young #Nightcrawler. @alexvaughanphoto

A post shared by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on

Now Fox is doubling down on X-Men, with four films to hit starting in February 2016: long-gestating Deadpool, sequel X-Men: Apocalypse, spinoff Gambit starring Channing Tatum, and a third Wolverine with Hugh Jackman returning. There are also an X-Force film in development and plans are for the new young cast of Apocalypse to take over should current trio (Fassbender, McAvoy, Lawrence) decide to bounce.

Now that young cast includes the return of a mutant not seen since 2003 – Nightcrawler, previously played by Alan Cummings in X2: X-Men United, will be played young by the Kodi Smit-McPhee, pictured above, joining Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, and Alexandria Shipp as younger Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm.

Deadpool’s cast consists of Ryan Reynolds as the title character, Morena Baccarin as the female lead, Ed Skrein as the villain, T.J. Miller as the sidekick. Recent casting reports teases further Marvel characters in the film, suggesting it may be more linked to the new films that previously thought

In a bit of not-so-good news, the person arguably responsible for much of the woes that befell Fox superhero films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Deadpool, former CEO Tom Rothman, was hired by Sony Pictures to replace outgoing Amy Pascal, who leaves amidst the lingering effects of a crippling hacking attack.

With Spider-Man just finding his way back to creative salvation with Marvel, will Rothman do the smart thing and let them work their magic? History says no.


Will Smith on After Earth, Suicide Squad, signs for spec script “Bounty”

“That was the most painful failure in my career. ‘Wild Wild West’ was less painful than ‘After Earth’ because my son was involved in ‘After Earth,’ and I led him into it. That was excruciating.

I was a guy who, when I was 15, my girlfriend cheated on me, and I decided that if I was number one, no woman would ever cheat on me. All I have to do is make sure that no one’s ever better than me, and I’ll have the love that my heart yearns for.

And I never released that [attitude] and moved into a mature way of looking at the world and my artistry and love until the failure of ‘After Earth,’ when I had to accept that it’s not a good source of creation.”

Will Smith. He was the biggest movie star draw in the world, with a series of $100+million grossing films, even riskier projects like I Am Legend, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Hancock. After 2008, he took a break. Fair enough, it can’t be easy to spend time with family when the world demands your attention. It isn’t until 2012 that Smith returns with Men in Black 3, a decade-too-late threequel that cost an enormous amount.

It didn’t help that Smith turned down Quentin Tarantino’s offer to play the title role in Django Unchained, a move that would have earned him respect and would have rejuvenated his image. Instead, we got Jamie Foxx and a series of bad Jamie Foxx movies (White House Down, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Annie etc.).

The Will Smith malaise didn’t really become readily apparent – especially to the impenetrable ego of Smith – until his pet sci-fi project After Earth, in which he co-starred with his son, died on landing and was critically reviled. For some reason, he approved the hiring of M. Night Shyamalan, which I’m sure didn’t help, but he takes a lot of the blame personally and on himself.

He’s only been seen in bit parts in Anchorman 2 and Winter’s Tale since, but he returns with his movie star charisma with con man tale Focus and has been doing press for the film, including the fascinating Esquire interview from which the above quote came from. Afterward, he received the news that his father was diagnosed with cancer, which he says put things into perspective “viciously.”

Now where to? He has the football-themed drama Concussion coming in December with obvious Oscar aspirations and is prepping to dive into comic book movies to play the Batman villain Deadshot in Suicide Squad. It’s an opportunity it sounds like he relishes, which is good to hear. He recognizes the power he has to make an icon of the Deadshot character, in an age where they are casting the third Spider-Man in the last 15 years. He also just signed on to star in a spec script titled Bounty. Humility is a lesson we all learn. I hope it helps Will Smith come back from a bit of a stumble.


Mission: Impossible 5 needs an ending! / No, it doesn’t!

Gang’s back

After getting five months shaved off post-production for a release date bump, The Hollywood Reporter reported that filming had shut down to craft a new ending, an action calling to mind the expensive re-shoots for World War Z to replace the entire third act. It was even speculated the “unknown” and “unpaid” author referenced in the original report was co-star Simon Pegg.

Over the next two days, this “news story” died a death quicker than a shot to the head: the film’s director Christopher McQuarrie Tweeted two biting but insightful tweets on the whole situation.

Filming reportedly continues in the UK as it rockets to July release. Expect a trailer if not this week, then next. Thanks for reading.

About Sam Flynn

Wasting oxygen since 1992, Sam thanks the gods he doesn't believe in everyday his parents didn't discard him as an infant. It would have been the sensible thing to do.
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