It’s been six months since Suicide Squad was released in theaters and a collective history is starting to shape up around the film. Despite denials from Warner Bros., it’s now pretty much understood that the studio rushed production of Suicide Squad and backed director David Ayer into a corner about the film’s final cut. Despite these issues, Ayer has remained a loyal solider for the studio, regularly commenting that the film we saw in theaters was his and his alone.
With James Cameron caught in an endless loop of Avatar rumors and delays, it’s become fashionable for some fans to treat the director like a Hollywood has-been. I don’t get it. Even if you think the original Avatar is a hollow mess of special effects, it’s still a fun entry in Cameron’s ‘Soldiers vs. Monsters’ filmography. Are we so awash in incredible action directors that we can afford to dismiss Cameron’s eye for spectacle and clean action scenes? I think not.
After years of watching a certain segment of fans argue over which Enterprise captain was the best, I think it might be time for Star Trek fans to admit that they’re no longer the leader in casting fan arguments. Now all the cool kids want to argue over which Batman actor played the role best. While the obvious answer for most millennials would be Christian Bale, I tend to gravitate towards the early performances of Michael Keaton, a Batman who was a bit more believable as an intellectual than subsequent versions of the character. To each their own, I suppose.
While we’ve known for a while that Logan would probably be the last appearance of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, we sometimes undersell how much of a landmark that truly is. Jackman was one of the first actors to make a long-term commitment to playing a superhero; furthermore, he’s one of the few actors who actually retired from the character rather than being replaced or rebooted by the studio. What Jackman has gone through in the past few years should help set the stage for the current generation of Marvel actors, people like Robert Downey, Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson who will likely step down from a role rather than have it taken from them.
After starring in arguably the greatest television series of all time, Bryan Cranston has certainly earned the right to pick any movie or television projects that he darn well pleases. That didn’t prevent a few people from raising their eyebrows when it was announced that Cranston would be joining the cast of the new Power Rangers reboot as their leader and mentor Zordon. Sure, we all know that Cranston got his start as a Power Rangers voice actor back in the day, but is he really so loyal as to work on a new live-action movie when he could be out there, winning Oscars or lighting up Broadway
We all know that Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman was one of the few things both critics and fans of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice could completely agree on. From his shallow playboy persona as Bruce Wayne to his thinly veiled rage as the Dark Knight, Affleck’s take on the character got everyone very excited to see what the actor-writer-director could do with a free hand for his standalone The Batman movie. Unfortunately, things have slowed considerably since, with rumors of mediocre scripts and a shifting release date taking some of the buzz off the upcoming release.
It seems like forever ago that the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was an unexpected Hollywood hit, a questionable adaptation of a popular carnival ride that somehow managed to be one of the best action movies of the year. In the original film, Johnny Depp surprised us all with his mimicry and knack for physical comedy, even bringing home an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. Fast forward a few years, however, and the franchise seems to have devolved into what we originally feared: a hollow cash grab from Disney that has quite clearly overstayed its welcome.
Sometimes you discover something in your life that you didn’t know you needed until you finally have it. Take, for example, the brand new trailer for The Fate of the Furious. If you’d made me list the 100 different things I want from an action movie, I never would have thought to request a scene where a submarine chases a fleet of vehicles across an ice-field. Now that I’ve seen the first trailer for the film, I kind of wish every action movie was just that scene for ninety minutes.
This past weekend, Samuel L. Jackson received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dubai International Film Festival and opened up a bit about award season and the types of films that so often receive awards. While Jackson is no stranger to working in Academy Award-nominated movies — his frequent collaborations with Quentin Tarantino have often led to Oscar consideration, and Jackson himself was nominated for Pulp Fiction — the actor was not shy about sharing his thoughts (via The Wrap) on the increasing politicization of award season and the films we are seeing as a result.
Every year, when the bottom drops out of the summer movie season and audiences decide to stay home and watch television instead, some well-meaning critic will publish an article asking if cinema is dead. And every year, I pose the same question in response: “Is Tom Cruise still an action star?” As long as Tom Cruise is running across multiplex screens — fighting rogue nations, government consiparcies, and even the occasional mummy — there is still hope for cinema. Then, when Cruise’s career is done and Hollywood is in ashes, then, cinema, you have my permission to die.
Last year, we published a video essay on Arnold Schwarzenegger that suggested that Arnold is much an auteur as the directors he has worked with. While most people still think of movies like Terminator and True Lies as the work of James Cameron, our own Matt Singer argued — and rather persuasively, I might add — that Arnold’s status as a cinematic auteur should be just as important a factor in how we evaluate his films. No matter who is behind the camera of an Arnold movie, you know the types of characters and narratives you are going to get.
Let’s say you’ve been given three wishes by one of those C-list celebrities that keep appearing as the Ghost of Christmas Whatever in Hallmark specials. What do you wish for? Since I like to think of myself as a good person, I’d probably spend the first two wishes ridding the world of hunger and violence or cleaning up our carbon footprint with a snap of my fingers. But my third? That one I might waste on unlimited money, so I could continue to make movies that solidifies Emily Blunt as the biggest action star of our generation. Forget Scarlett Johansson; after The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Sicario, and Edge of Tomorrow, Blunt is the woman to beat in my book.
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