Rosemund Pike in W Magazine Cover Shot by David Fincher.
Even though in the beginning, most people disliked or even hated Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner always made you feel guilty about not liking her. Her performance is so genuine, vulnerable and innocent that whereas before you might’ve dismissed her teenage antics, Turner now makes you want to understand her. And let’s face it, Sansa Stark has endured more than most characters and she is still a good person. Sophie Turner has come a long way too. Her performance grows even richer in subtleties to the point where she is easily outshining the other actresses.
Is what I ask myself every single time a new superhero film comes out. Once I just want to not see the standard poster with all the heroes and villains photoshopped together. But apparently nothing says “epic adventure action film” like a bunch of giant floating heads, miniature bodies with weapons and explosions. It’s like all these posters come from the exact same “design” layout. It sucks and it makes it really hard to be excited for these films.
The worse offender this year so far is The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The film already looks like Spider-Man 3.2 but it’s the marketing that is telling me: “Actually, this might be worse than Spider-Man 3.” Say it ain’t so. I liked the first film if solely because Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are perfect together. They brought energy and youth to film franchise that desperately needed it. With the origin story out of the way, the sequel had a lot of promise going in. Whatever excitement I might’ve had died rapidly with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 first trailer, and then it was taken out back and butchered repeatedly by all of the film’s posters. Is the point of these posters to make me stay as far away from this movie as possible? Bitch, you succeeding.
Examples! The Romance Poster. If the superhero film has a romance element, then there will be a version of this type of poster. First question: this being a multi-million dollar film production, am I to believe that this is the best showcase for the hot romance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? I would think it strange that, again in a 100plus million dollar production, no one suggested that maybe Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone should perhaps have a photo shoot in-character for the required romance poster. Before, between or even after shooting. Also, isn’t it customary to do screen tests, because I would think that grabbing a screen-grab of that would be infinitely better than that photoshop monstrosity of a poster. Even worse offender, this poster from Iron Man 3. The film had been doing well in the poster department until then. Also if you will note, the background colour/style in all the Iron Man 3 posters is very similar in the main posters for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But then again, Marvel is adamant on making all of their films look like the exact same film just with different titles.
Speaking of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this film gave us a totally insulting and awful array of posters. The Scarlett Johansson poster got a lot of heat and deservedly so. But the worse poster I think is The Group Poster. I understand the need for an epic action poster featuring all the characters, but again is it really that difficult to schedule a photo shoot with your principal cast? Taking individual character posters and photoshopping them together is a shitty and lazy idea. It rarely works, and for the last 30 years it hasn’t worked. It looks fake, boring and underwhelming. It undermines the film so much, but it is a staple. People aren’t bothered by it or if they are bothered, they shrug it off because shitty fucking posters is expected of superhero films. Perhaps we all gave up after seeing the posters for X-Men: First Class.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is another recent offender. I’m excited for this film though. The trailers might be giving too much away, but I’m already there just take my money. With such a high concept and awesome looking film, it astounds me how insultingly hard the marketing is making me hate X-Men: Days of Future Past. Before we get to the double bacon with splashes of misogyny, the first posters from the film were actually cool. Not terribly inventive, but an exciting tease nonetheless. Then came the Empire magazine covers. Now you might say that with magazine covers you can’t get creative and the film directors have nothing to do with it. *COUGH*. These covers weren’t bad, but they paved the way for the latest posters which are just so lazy and boring. C’mon! This film deals with time travel and superpowers we all want, is it so difficult to have a poster that fucking reflects the anticipation and excitement of and for the film?
You know whose superhero films have cool posters? Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins had okay posters, but with The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises at least 90% of the posters were awesome. They also felt singular to their specific movie. Just because it’s a sequel, doesn’t mean you should repeat your approach to the first film. This is something Marvel refuses to learn. With the Batman films, you can tell Christopher Nolan was involved with everything. Nolan knows that the marketing campaign is key, so let’s make the audience who are already excited even more so. Granted, all the Dark Knight posters are essentially a variation on the standard superhero film design poster. But like in everything else Nolan does, it’s always his interpretation on a established theme or genre and it almost always works. Why can’t more superhero film directors do the same? I suspect it comes down to the studio and that most directors have no control of how their films are marketed. Marvel needs unplug that giant stick they have up their assess and start re-thinking their approach to poster design.
I look at all these posters and what I see is a communal fear of taking risks, which is ridiculous since the films themselves are already a gigantic risk. Again, these studios spend 100plus million dollars every time they do one of this films. If everyone involved is working their best to deliver a kick-ass, memorable, entertaining and profitable film then why half-ass things wen it comes to the marketing? Whole-ass it. There is a great opportunity here to take a risk and deliver a marketing campaign that distinguishes itself from the rest. With the popularity of superhero films rising, I think this is the best time to break off from the standard designs and to show us you actually give a shit about how we, the audience, should perceive your film.
I think it’s great that David Fincher won’t be directing the Aaron Sorkin penned Steve Jobs film. The premise was interesting, but everything about it screamed: “been there done that.” I don’t know about you, but it feels to me like David Fincher has been playing it relatively safe for the past couple of films. I love them all don’t get me wrong and they are fantastic. I just think it’s time for Fincher to tackle something different. Loosen up with a dark comedy like you did with Fight Club. An adaptation Chuck Palahniuk’s “Tell-All” would be interesting or “Doomed.”
Poster for David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
Second episode and Game of Thrones has once again made history. Never have I seen/experienced such a satisfying character death before. I loved it.
Animation layouts and their corresponding scenes from the The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ).
One of the best action films I have ever seen is The Raid. While severely lacking in the plot department, the action sequences more than made up for it. I think that the action in The Raid marked a turning point in terms of how hand-to-hand combat is portrayed in film. It took martial arts into this new level of intensity grittiness and unrelenting violence. I’ve watched it a bunch of times and every time my body contours or I get all tensed up from the fighting sequences. Surprisingly, the action in The Raid 2 manages to surpass most of the action scenes from the first film. However, this sequel still underwhelms.
Commencing shortly after the first film ended, Rama (Iko Uwais) thinking it was all over finds out that it was all for nothing. The corruption in the city runs so deep that it’s going to take more ambition to take down boss Bangun. Rama goes undercover a la The Departed, and once he enters Bangun’s inner circle the real mission can finally proceed. Things get even more complicated and violent when rival boss Bejo starts turf war.
As you can see, The Raid 2 actually has a plot and this is simultaneously its most interesting aspect and its most detrimental. I explain. As someone who always demands more of films, especially those films in the generic action genre, I liked that director Gareth Evans decided to give the film a narrative with characters conversing with each other, and some character development. The Raid 2 focus a lot on the politics between gangs, how these criminals handle disobedience and how duplicities things are. It’s an interesting window into the criminal world, unfortunately it has nothing new to say. The main criminal characters are just stereotypes that we’ve seen countless times in TV shows or films. The son who wants to be the boss, but he can’t because his dad is the boss so the son asks him for more responsibility, and the boss dad say son you are not ready and blah blah blah…
I probably wouldn’t have minded all the stereotypical characters if the film wasn’t actively shoving them in my face. Worse of all is that Rama is relegated to being a supporting character even though he is the protagonist. Now this tells me that either Gareth Evans didn’t care much about Rama, or that he didn’t have anything to add to his “protagonist” because Rama is just a hero proxy that fights. The latter would make even more sense when you consider that The Raid 2 is actually a re-appropriation of a different script from director Gareth Evans called Berandal. Also, the film introduces a new character halfway through and focuses solely on him for the following 30 minutes before said character is killed. This is an interesting narrative choice that proves to be pointless. And that’s the problem with this this film, we have all these new characters but we are given very little if any reason at all to care about them. The only person we care about is Rama and what a wasted opportunity that none of the personal fallout from the first film is explored.
I was bored too and I even went to the bathroom, which is something I never do in the theatre. I would rather have my bladder explode then miss a single minute of the film. But with The Raid 2 I didn’t care, because after the first 30 minutes of the film and before its last 30 minutes, The Raid 2 is dull and inconsequential. The film totally loses its momentum and turns into this drama with unnecessary fights sprinkled throughout. These sprinkled fights are there to reminded the audience that yes there is action here, but what they actually do is take up space. If the film had cut all those random fights and left us with the two big set pieces in the beginning and the end, The Raid 2 would’ve been much more appropriately paced and enjoyable. Those set pieces are actually what somewhat redeem the film. In them, the approach is Rama in a confined space fighting waves of people from regulars thugs to the bosses’ henchmen/woman. These are the moments the film works, especially the final action sequence where the film regains its energy and where it gives us fights unlike we’ve seen before.
The Raid 2 is half-disappointing. In the action department, the film excels. The big action set pieces are intense, violent, awe-inspiring and memorable. They elevate things and oddly enough tell me more about Rama as a character than anything else. Even the sprinkled actions scenes, while pointless, are choreographed beautifully. Gareth Evans knows how to do action in a distinctive and highly engaging way. The Raid 2, from a visuals standpoint, is also quite striking. The cinematography is evocative, interesting and sometimes even poetic. However, the narrative is a generic, predictable and underwhelming. As intriguing and interesting as the approach to focus on the villains is, unfortunately it strips the film of energy and engagement. When The Raid 2 ended I was so glad, finally I can leave and do anything else with my time.