Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Reel Facts & Opinions: DC Lightens Up, and The Return of the Masters

In the past week there’s been some movie news worth taking a second look at; some from the world of comic books and some from the land of upper-tier cinematic talent.

The first bit came from the superhero world; specifically from the Warner Bros./DC Comics camp concerning the stumbling franchise which has not captured the hearts of fans or critics. DC Entertainment President Geoff Johns spoke about a “course correction” in the works for the next round of films, specifically with director Zack Snyder’s JUSTICE LEAGUE, due out in 2017. Johns said that a much lighter tone will be present from here on-out, which is a stark contrast from the dark and dour and grim and humorless worlds we’ve seen from the kickoff film MAN OF STEEL (2012), and this year’s BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (BvS).

This is a change that many fans saw coming. DC’s third film in their universe-building franchise, SUICIDE SQUAD, which arrived this year to more jeers than cheers, had a noticeable change in tone from its two predecessors. It had jokes, a semblance of fun, and characters who actually looked like they enjoyed being who they were…quite the opposite of MAN OF STEEL and BvS, which had no sense of fun and didn’t generate one goddamn laugh or chuckle. After two films, it seems DC and parent company Warner Bros. has finally realized that people don’t want to go to a superhero film and walk away depressed.

But it has to be said that a dark tone has not been the biggest problem with DC’s films, but rather dysfunctional storytelling, nonsensical plots, sloppy editing, and no sense of energy or intrigue. Good movies they were not from a functional standpoint, and the darker tone barely even registered with people who were just trying to figure out what the story was. You can still make a good movie and be serious; after all, prior to MAN OF STEEL and the new DC Cinematic Universe, Christopher Nolan’s standalone DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY was also dark and gritty…but no one really noticed or complained. And why? Because they were good movies. If Geoff Johns and DC wants to course-correct their stumbling franchise, basic storytelling needs to come first. Just make a good movie.

The other noteworthy cinematic news last week involves two of the most important names in film today; writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis. Months back, there were rumors that Anderson and Day-Lewis would be reuniting for the first time since their magnificent THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007), for a new film set in the 1950’s involving the fashion industry in London. Last week, word came out that Focus Features as acquired rights to the project, with filming beginning in January for a late 2017 release date.

For true cinema fans, this comes as long-awaited and fantastic news. Daniel Day-Lewis, who to this Blogger is the greatest actor who ever lived, has not been seen on screen since Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN in 2012. That performance earned him his third Oscar for Best Actor…the only man to ever do so. Day-Lewis has since taken a leave of absence from cinema (he does that often), having just wrapped up his most prolific period of his career (five films in 10 years). Anderson in the meantime has been busy, having filmed THE MASTER in 2012 and INHERENT VICE in 2014. To this Blogger, Anderson is the best living director today, so having him back working with our best actor ever is really something to look forward to. Both men have proven to be masters in their respective domains, and considering their last collaboration, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, is now considered to be one of the best films ever made (see where Reel Speak ranks it in this millennium HERE), the Winter of 2017 already has something important to look forward to.


Paul Thomas Anderson’s as-yet untitled film will be released in late 2017.

JUSTICE LEAGUE will land in November 2017.

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