Casting News Roundup: Gugu Mbatha-Raw + David Oyelowo, Natalie Portman + Oscar Isaac, & Daisy Ridley

CastingNews

It’s been ages since I posted a roundup of casting news, but I have a trio of intriguing ones to share w/ you today, folks.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw + David Oyelowo to star in JJ Abrams-produced sci-fi thriller

I don’t even have to know what the premise is, I’m already sold on this casting and genre!! So Abrams won’t be directing, but he and his Bad Robot partner Bryan Burk will produce God Particle, to be directed by Nigerian-born filmmaker Julius Onah.

Oyelowo_MbathaRaw_GodParticle

Here’s the premise per The Wrap:

God Particle follows an American space station crew who, believing they have destroyed Earth via a Hadron accelerator, allow the crew of hostile nations to board their ship, with disastrous results.

I LOVE a good sci-fi and this sounds REALLY intriguing, esp. with THIS cast. Glad to see Oleyowo AND Mbatha-Raw as leads too, esp the latter. She’s been relegated to supporting roles too many times and based on Belle & Beyond the Lights alone, we know she’s leading lady material. It was Abrams who discovered her in Undercovers. So yeah, I can’t wait to hear more about this one but I’m already sold on it.

Gugu_Gina_UntamedStateSpeaking of Beyond The Lights, its director Gina Prince-Bythewood will be reteaming with miss Gugu again on Untamed State, based on a novel by Michael De Luca.

Per Deadline, the novel tells the powerful, unflinching story of a Haitian-American woman kidnapped for ransom in front of her husband and child. The novel explores the privilege that made her a target and the strength she must draw on to survive and reclaim her life. This sounds very intriguing indeed and I’m thrilled to see Mbatha-Raw getting a leading role again in this one. Of course, having a talented female director like Prince-Bythewood on board is always a welcome thing in my book!

Oscar Isaac joins Natalie Portman & the mostly-female cast of Alex Garland’s sci-fi ‘Annihilation’

So it’s Poe & Padme as married couple? Star Wars fans must be having a field day 😀 But to me, I’m super excited to see Isaac re-teaming with Garland again after the phenomenal little film Ex Machina. The premise per Tracking Board:

The story centers around a biologist (Portman) who, in seeking answers to her husband’s tragic disappearance volunteers for a government expedition into an area sealed off as an environmental disaster zone. What she discovers, however, is pristine wilderness, and a mysterious dark force within it.

Isaac_Portman_Annihilation

The rest of the ensemble cast include Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, and Gina Rodriguez. Garland is set to direct his own script, adapted from the first novel of the ‘Southern Reach’ trilogy by science fiction author Jeff VanderMeer.

Based on what I’ve seen so far that’s written by Garland (including Never Let Me Go and 28 Days Later), I can’t wait for this. Glad to see him venture into directing again after his fantastic debut with Ex Machina, I’m sure he’ll do a good job in his sophomore effort.

Daisy Ridley in Talks to Star in ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot

Per THR, Daisy Ridley told the publication at the Empire Awards that there “have been conversations” about her picking up the Lara Croft reins left by Angelina Jolie, but that she hadn’t yet been offered the role. She won the Best Female Newcomer Award at the event. It’s no surprise that her Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ co-star John Boyega, who won the male version of the Empire Newcomer Award, really wants her to get the role.

DaisyRidley_TombRaider

“I played Tomb Raider the game; it’s a new take and I think the movies are going to be based on that version,” Boyega told THR. “But I texted Daisy [and] was like, ‘This is you!’ and ‘You need to get on that because you could be Lara Croft.’ She should be.”

I’ve actually seen that game when my hubby was playing it briefly a few weeks ago and I think Boyega’s right, Ridley does seem to fit the look of the new Lara Croft. I’m not entirely sure I want to see another movie adaptation of it though, but I suppose if they must reboot it, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ridley in the role.


Ok what’s YOUR thoughts on these trio casting news? Any particular one you feel strongly about?

….

Advertisements

Weekend Roundup: Chris Evans’ directorial debut ‘Before We Go’ review

Happy Tuesday, folks. Well, I’m kinda bummed that I couldn’t complete my March blindspot on time. Last night I was planning to watch A Streetcar Named Desire after work but the internet connection just wasn’t working properly that iTunes simply couldn’t load the movie. It stared for like 2 minutes then stalled and stalled that I finally gave up 😦 In fact, I’d have to ask iTunes for a refund as it’s a 24-hour rental and I don’t think I have enough time to see it before it expires. Ah well, at this rate I’m not even sure I could complete even the 10 Blindspot films I’ve committed to watch, we shall see.

As far as weekend viewing, well I saw Batman V Superman on Friday night (my second viewing) and some of you might’ve read my review. So on Saturday we’re looking for something that’s totally different from a superhero movie. I got a screener link for the Chet Baker biopic Born To Be Blue starring Ethan Hawke, but the thing w/ screener links are that it has an unsightly huge watermark right smack dab in the middle of the screen, so my hubby didn’t want to watch it.

Ironically, we ended up settling on something directed by a Marvel superhero 😉 So here’s my review of Chris Evans‘ directorial debut… Before We Go.

BeforeWeGo

I mentioned about this movie three years ago in this Five for the Fifth post, which sounds kind of like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy (heh it even has the word ‘before’ in the title!). It also sounds utterly cheesy so when it hits Netflix earlier this month, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to see it. But you know what, sometimes our prejudices got the best of us because I ended up liking it.

We first met Chris Evans’ character Nick, playing trumpet at Grand Central Station. It’s past midnight and the station is closing soon. Minutes later he comes across a pretty girl who ends up missing her 1:30 train from New York to Boston. She happens to break her phone as she was running in front of Nick and that’s how their encounter began. Not exactly a ‘meet cute’ and there isn’t an immediate spark between Evans and Alice Eve who plays Brooke. It took me a while to warm up to the movie and a few times I even thought about turning it off and watch something else, but y’know what, I’m glad I stuck it out.

BeforeWeGo2

One thing that initially frustrates me was the fact that there’s such mystery surrounding the reason why Brooke is adamant on rushing to return home to New Haven that very night. But once it’s finally revealed towards the end, I actually appreciate how the story unfolded and that there’s more to the story than meets the eye. The pairing of Evans and Eve was rather unexpected, apparently Evans wanted to hire her because she was British (per IMDb) but she ended up playing Brooke as an American. I like both of their performances as they’re more natural and understated, even when at times the dialog was clunky and the script did resort to schmaltziness.

BeforeWeGo3

Overall I’m quite impressed with Evans’ direction. He’s wise to pick a script that deals with a small number of characters to be more focused, and takes place over the course of a single night. The fact that he’s a first timer means we can’t expect a perfect movie. There are some continuity problems (like a jacket button is closed one second and open the next) and the pacing could’ve been much improved, but in the end it’s a rather sweet and moving little film. It also managed to take me by surprise on a few occasions, and something unexpected is always a good thing in a genre that tends to be predictable.

BeforeWeGo1

Before We Go is an intriguing look at love lost and second chances, told from two very different point of view and circumstances. Nick and Brooke end up learning from each other over the course of the night, and the tentative romance between them feels earnest. The gorgeous Manhattan backdrop certainly adds to charm. This turns out to be the perfect antidote to this weekend’s gigantic blockbuster, as well as an interesting juxtaposition to Evans’ own superhero movie Captain America: Civil War that’ll be out in a month. Well, there’s definitely more to him than just a Marvel superhero, and I hope he continues to explore the indie side of his career.

3halfReels


So what did you see this weekend? Anything good?

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Review – The good, the bad and the ugly

BVS_DawnOfJustice

By the time I sat down to write this, I’ve actually seen BVS twice in a week. Yup, you probably think I’m a masochist and I don’t blame you. But hey, it’s really out of solidarity with my dear hubby that I saw it again a second time, as we weren’t allowed to bring guests to the press screening and I actually couldn’t wait for him to see it so we could discuss this drivel movie together.

I have a lot to say here so it’s best to break things down in three categories, like I did w/ some award commentaries. Let’s start w/ the positive.

The Good

I tweeted when I sat down at the press screening that despite the title featuring two of the world’s biggest superheroes, I was mostly excited for Wonder Woman. And well, she did NOT disappoint. In fact, I was literally giddy the first time we saw Diana Prince dressed to kill in a skintight red dress at Lex Luthor’s party. The biggest audience cheer throughout the entire movie was when Wonder Woman finally showed up in costume.

BVS_WonderWoman

Gal Gadot slayed it, she was all badass and heroic. I wish they hadn’t revealed that exact moment in the trailer, I mean they could’ve shown ANY other WW scene besides THAT one, heh. Oh and the WW theme song, OMG I’m seriously obsessed w/ it now. The score is written by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL who just did the awesome Mad Max: Fury Road score, and this particular track has Junkie XL written all over it.

Like most moviegoers, I was more curious than excited about BVS and it’s to see the Batfleck. Ben Affleck followed up on the strong impression left by Christian Bale in the best Dark Knight trilogy, but y’know what, if we’re just judging on Ben Affleck’s portrayal alone as Batman/Bruce Wayne, I’d say he nailed it. Right from the moment we saw him driving around the wreckage of Gotham as Superman and his Kryptonian foes are wrecking havoc from the sky, we get a grizzled, world-weary and indignant Bruce Wayne. I gotta say Affleck looked damn good as Batman and his alter ego. He certainly has the gravitas of an older and wiser caped crusader, though he’s certainly far more brutal and doesn’t have qualms knocking down bad guys and even killing them. But then again, the supposedly more gracious Superman is nowhere to be found here either.

BVS_Batfleck

The actual BVS battle itself was pretty fun to watch. It could be because we’ve spent nearly TWO hours waiting for the damn thing to finally happened. I was like FINALLY! The action scene here was well-staged and there were moments where I thought they could do serious damage to each other. It’s not quite the level of suspense of Batman vs Bane in TDKR however, I think Nolan crafted that sense of dread and serious peril much better than Snyder. But still, within the grim and dour universe of BVS, this scene was one of the highlights.

BVS_Batman BVS_Superman

Which brings me to…

The Bad

Oh dear, where do I begin.

Basically everything I didn’t care about the third act of Man of Steel is back with a vengeance. All the clanging noise that threaten to do serious damage to my eardrums are ever present as soon as Doomsday showed up. It’s an eyesore too. The world of Gotham/Metropolis are so severe and somber, and the ugliness of the Kryptonian/human monster hybrid so potent I had to look away a few times.

BVS_doomsday

Doomsday is a cross between Lord of the Ring’s Orc, the Hulk, Ninja Turtle and King Kong, also with a penchant for leaping into tall skyscrapers. That whole battle between the three heroes and this grotesque monster is a colossal CGI smash that went on far too long. It’s a sensory overload that feels like an endurance contest for the audience. If it weren’t for Wonder Woman forming the trio, I think this entire battle sequence would’ve been a total bust.

Speaking of Wonder Woman again, all of the wonderful things about her awesome intro, it is offset by the perpetual damsel-in-distress situations of all the women in Supes’ lives, be it Lois or her mother. It’s like, for one step forward in the right direction about female empowerment, there are three or more that took us back. It’s not Amy Adams‘ fault really, but I’m not fond of THIS Lois at all.

BVS_SupesSavesLois

Now, what I’m about to say is going to make Henry Cavill fans furious but y’know what, a huge fan of Superman it actually pains me to say it. Superman is actually the least interesting character of this movie, thanks to what Snyder created in Cavill. Neither Superman nor Clark Kent was a character worth rooting for. Gone is the heroic and sympathetic alien who cares deeply for humanity, he even refused to take ANY blame for all the monstrous destruction that could’ve been easily avoided if he went around the buildings instead of flying through them! Not only that, he was delusional enough that he told Bruce Wayne that nobody saw him as a liability and that the world was entirely on his side. Cavill’s Clark Kent is no longer the meek, mild-mannered reporter, as he’d rather argue relentlessly with his boss Perry White and had the worst work ethic. Yes Clark was always MIA in previous movies too, but we actually saw he had a good relationship with his boss and there’s a mutual respect between them. None of that is displayed in Snyder’s version.

Don’t get me started with the cringe-worthy scenes between him and Lois. Gone are the sweet and flirty banter between the two, instead we get cheesy lines about hope and what have you, and the supposedly romantic gestures just doesn’t compute at all because none of it felt true. And what’s with the constantly-constipated look on Cavill no matter what circumstance his character finds himself in.

BVS_HenryCavill

He had the same baffled/sad/forlorn/reflective (all of the above? none of the above??) whether he’s talking to his mom/Lois, at the courthouse, surrounded by strangers during Day of the Dead festival, etc. I think he only switches to something of immense rage when he’s facing Batman, which doesn’t exactly make me like him one bit as he comes across more like a bully than a wise and gentle hero we’ve seen in Christopher Reeve. What’s more, Snyder sexualizes Superman so much here it’s putting me off. There’s a scene of him jumping into a bathtub and a gratuitous scene of him cooking with no shirt on. Sorry but that had the opposite effect on me. I don’t want a sexually-alluring Superman, I want a Superman I can believe in.

The Ugly

[SPOILER ALERT]

Ok, one of the screenwriting rules I’ve read often says to steer clear of dream sequences. Unless something is hugely integral to the plot (like say, in Inception), there are very few narratives in which this structure fits. Well, guess what, there wasn’t just one but MULTIPLE dream sequences. I literally was gonna throw things at the screen when it happened, and after seeing it twice I STILL have no clue what the heck those scenes are about and how it served the story. It has no purpose being there other than to infuriate the audience. Seriously, the movie could’ve easily been trimmed to under 2 hours long without these inconsequential scenes.

The scenes of Batman in the desert fighting a bunch of goons wearing Supes’ emblems in their uniforms followed by some ethereal-looking ghost talking to Bruce, what the hell was THAT?? And the whole Superman talking to his dead earthly dad scene in the North Pole. Heh, we already know Supes has daddy issues. Same with the wholly extraneous scene of Bruce’s parents being gunned down. The whole thing is played out with the most irritating slo-motion as if seeing Thomas & Martha Wayne dying a slow death would make us care more about them. Is it so that the movie can start AND end with a funeral scene?? [shrug]

BVS_funeral

Forget daddy issues though, this movie seems to be more about the moms. The filmmakers used the fact that Bruce and Clark’s mothers share the same name as a plot device. Good gracious, it’s not only trite, but it’s simply lazy writing. So they needed a good reason for why Batman would stop from killing Superman and that’s all they could come up with?? We’re talking about a writing duo comprised of David S. Goyer (who co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogy) and Chris Terrio (who won Best Screenplay Oscar for ARGO).

[END OF SPOILER]

That said, it begs the question whether it’s actually possible to forge a worthy script that tells SO many origin stories in a single movie with SO much going on there’s absolutely no room at all for any character development. My hubby and I were talking about it this morning on the way to brunch that this movie could perhaps work as more of a Batman story, with Superman treated as a supporting character (plus cameo from Wonder Woman) so it could be more focused on a single character whilst still serve as a launching pad for other characters in DC cinematic universe. But perhaps the studios want to appease the fans for Man Of Steel 2 being delayed indefinitely, as the ‘battle’ between these two characters, no matter how epic, just can’t make up for the messy storytelling.

BVS_battle

All the intriguing ideas about deity and humanity seem so half-baked and completely lost in a sea of clanging CGI death-match. I roll my eyes every time the characters are saying some philosophical mumbo-jumbo about hope and that ‘man is still good’ or whatever, because the film hasn’t earned them. The quasi-spiritual themes feel tacked on instead of being an inherent part of the narrative.

Other Observations

I haven’t mentioned Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, whose take of the villain is more of a deranged and power-hungry tech megalomaniac who likes to play god. He played it much like his Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, but with more than a few screws loose. He’s hellbent on destroying these demigods, liken them to Biblical demons, but it’s never clear what he’s true agenda is. But y’know what, he’s at least amusing in his nervous ticks that he actually offered a bit of relief from all the drab and grave mood of the movie.

BVS_Luthor BVS_Alfred_PErry

Alfred is portrayed as being more of an equal as Bruce, more akin to James Bond’s Q than the traditional English butler in previous screen adaptation. I have no problem with that and Jeremy Irons rocked as the dry, sarcastic and no-nonsense Alfred who looked like he could’ve been a perfect Bruce Wayne in his younger days. I also love Laurence Fishburne as the commanding Perry White, he’s definitely a more authoritative version of the Daily Planet editor. He respects superstar reporter Lois Lane but doesn’t let her walk all over him either. Perhaps that’s what’s needed to head a newspaper in the digital age, though I have no idea how they’re still in business.

The intro of other DC characters which will live on as part of Justice League and in various stand-alone movies are handled pretty well. At least it didn’t feel jarring to me, though at that point I really didn’t care so much about them as I struggle to muster up sympathy for the characters in BVS.

Final Verdict

It’s mind-boggling just how haphazardly-constructed this whole movie was. It proves that no amount of money ($250 mil production cost) can guarantee quality. Surely it’s a challenging task for even the best director to make a smorgasbord of plots to interweave seamlessly and no director is less than up for the task than Zack Snyder. The transition from one scene to the next is so mind-numbingly jumpy and disconcerting. It’s not quite a complete disaster but still, the bad far outweighs the good for me and trust me, I already had a very low expectation for this one.

I can’t believe Warner Bros entrusted so much of DC universe to a one-note director who has absolutely no talent for storytelling. So he’s known for his visual flair, but to be honest with you, I can’t even think of a single truly spectacular scene that took my breath away. Ok so there’s the moment where Batman drives his Batmobile into his Batcave through a secret entrance hidden in a dam that I thought was pretty darn cool. But that is all I could remember from an entire 2.5 hour movie, which is saying a lot.

It’s unforgivable that Snyder & co. has made a formidable hero like Superman so tedious and impossible to root. After this, I can’t be bothered with any other DC movies in the future. The only one I’m looking forward to is Wonder Woman and that’s mostly because a female superhero on the big screen has been so long overdue. The fact that it’s NOT directed by Zack Snyder is another reason to cheer, but since Dawn of Justice hit a big box office record on its opening weekend ($170 mil), I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him yet. Alas, Snyder will still be allowed to make more movies, and that’s the real travesty of it all.

2Reels


So what did YOU think of ‘Batman V Superman’? Did you like it more or less than I did?

Genre Grandeur – Heist Movies: Ocean’s Eleven & Ocean’s Thirteen

Ted_review
Oceans11_13

This post is part of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur (or Guesstimation) series. Thanks to my pal Ted S. for his review of one of his favorite films of the genre.


I lost count on how many times I’ve watched these two Ocean’s films; I’m going to pretend that Ocean’s 12 never existed; the self-indulgent film was an embarrassing to everyone who’s involved in making it. Don’t get me started on the whole Julia Roberts pretended to be Julia Roberts sequence. I wanted to punch the writers and director Steven Soderbergh for thinking that we the audience would be that stupid and thought it would be a fun scene to watch.

Well speaking of Soderbergh, in the early 2000s, he’s the director every actor wanted to work with. If I remember correctly, two of his films in 2000, Traffic and Erin Brockovich were box office hits and got nominated for best picture at the Oscars. He received the golden statue for directing Traffic. So of course there were big expectations for his next picture. Opened during the holiday season of 2001, Ocean’s Eleven was one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned two sequels. Of course the cast was probably the big draw, packed with three A-listers George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts; veterans Andy Garcia, Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould and young up and coming actors such as Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck and Scott Caan.
Oceans11_PittClooneyOceans11_cast

Recently paroled Danny Ocean (Clooney) decides to get in touch with some of his old buddies including black jack dealer named Frank Catton (the late great Bernie Mac) and Rusty Ryan (Pitt). They hatched a plan to steal money from two Las Vegas casinos during a big boxing match that could be worth more than $130mil. The casinos are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) who happens to be dating Ocean’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). In order to get their plan rolling, they need some funding from Benedict’s rival Reuben (Elliot Gould). With backing from Reuben, Danny and Rusty went and recruit the rest of the team.

What I love about this film was the chemistry with each of the actors; they were all believable to me as a team on a mission. I especially love the bickering between the Mormon twins (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan). The script was well written and the actual heist was very clever and fun to watch. Unlike some other heist genre film, there were no twists or backstabbing from someone in the team. They finished their mission and everyone got paid.

Oceans11_Caan_Affleck

After the disastrous Ocean’s 12, Soderbergh decided to fix his mistake from the second sequel and brought the team back for another heist in Vegas. In Ocean’s Thirteen, the team’s mission this time is revenge. After Reuben was left for dead by his former partner Willy Bank (Al Pacino), Danny and Rusty wanted to break Bank’s brand new casino. Unlike the second sequel where I felt the actors and filmmakers were having fun but we the audience were left out. In this film, Soderbergh brought back the fun and I had a great time with it; heck I think I liked it better than the first film. The heist itself was quite clever, instead of stealing the money from the casino for themselves, Ocean’s team decided to let everyone win big. Speaking as someone who goes to Vegas regularly and gambles there, I would have loved to be involved in this heist.

Oceans13_Barkin_Pacino
Pacino w/ Ellen Barkin who’s quite the scene stealer in the movie

These two Ocean films aren’t the best in the heist genre but they sure are fun to watch. Maybe because it’s set in one of my favorite cities to visit Las Vegas, it’s the reason why I can’t get enough of these films.

4Reels

TedSPic


Well, what do YOU think of these two Ocean’s films? Which of the trilogy is your favorite? 

Everybody’s Chattin + Trailer Spotlight: Love & Friendship w/ Kate Beckinsale + Chloë Sevigny

EverybodysChattin_Movies

Happy Midweek everyone! Can you believe it, when we thought Spring is finally here, it’s snowing outside! Not just snow flurries or just a coating, this is a pretty big one that it’s like a Winter Wonderland all over again outside.

I’m actually not feeling well today and I pulled a muscle on my left hand so I decided to work from home. I’m sure glad I did as it’d be pretty challenging, not to mention dangerous, driving with just one hand in snowy conditions!

… about those links…

Margaret did a fantastic hit-me-with-your-best-shot post on Daredevil season 2.

Jordan reviewed the Best Foreign Language Oscar winner Son of Saul

I’ve been meaning to see Perfect Sense, so thanks Vinnie for reminding me w/ his great review

Eddie‘s been busy with his new site Jaccendo, check it out if you haven’t already. I especially love his post on Captain America: Civil War 

Steven reviewed Terrence Malick’s latest, Knight of Cups

I haven’t seen any short film in a while, but Nostra reviewed one I’m curious to see called Ellis, starring Robert De Niro

Abbi‘s Film Friday post is always one I look forward to. Read her thoughts on Spotlight, Clouds of Sils Maria and more.

Last but certainly not least, check out Cindy‘s upcoming Lucky 13 edition which will center on the Jeff Bridges!


Trailer Spotlight

LoveFriendship

 

Set in the opulent drawing rooms of eighteenth-century English society, ‘Love & Friendship’ focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica—and herself too, naturally. She enlists the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chloë Sevigny), but two particularly handsome suitors (Xavier Samuel and Tom Bennett) complicate her orchestrations.

Check out the brand new trailer:

This was one of the films I highlighted the week of Sundance last January. As you know I LOVE anything Jane Austen, but this was based on her earlier work called “Lady Susan” that was published posthumously in 1871. This isn’t the first time Kate Beckinsale played an Austen heroine however, she played Emma in a TV movie back in 1996.

Interesting to see Chloë Sevigny here, which I never seen in a period drama before. Both are such underrated actresses so that’s another reason to see this. I do think it’s lacking a real um, Austen hero eye-candy. I have no idea who Xavier Samuel is but he doesn’t exactly set my heart aflutter the way um, Sam Riley’s Colonel Darcy did in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 😉 I’ve never seen director Whit Stillman‘s work before this, but the trailer looks like fun so I definitely will be watching this! 


What do you think of the ‘Love & Friendship’ trailer?

Throwback Tuesday: Reminiscing on great scenes from my fave Batman & Superman films of all time

ThrowbackTuesday

Well, it’s been over a month since my last Throwback Tuesday post and today is just the perfect March edition. Later today is the press screening of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and though I actually had been rather blasé about the movie the past year, now that the day is almost here for me to see it, I can’t help feeling slightly more excited for it. After all, I have always been a fan of both DC characters, especially Superman.

I was actually planning on seeing Superman: The Movie or Superman II this past weekend, but of course it’s sidelined by Marvel’s Daredevil season 2. Yes, the irony isn’t lost on me 😉 In any case, I did watch clips of some of my favorite scenes from the definitive Superman AND Batman movies. For me, the BEST Superman films are still the Christopher Reeve versions, most specifically the first two movies.

So allow me to walk down memory lane with me in anticipation of yet another cinematic adaptation of two of the biggest superheroes…

Superman I

This chopper rescue scene could very well be the scene I’ve seen the most time in my life, given my undying love for the movie since I was a wee girl. That John Williams‘ theme song never fails to make me tear up, perfectly timed when Supes catches the chopper midair.

SupermanMovie_chopperescue

“You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”

No matter how many superhero movies have been made since, nothing can touch this one. Not a single thing.

I simply had to include a flying sequence. The song once again is just lovely, and though it’s a romantic scene, it doesn’t feel at all corny, at least not to me. I don’t think any actor could ever top what Christopher Reeve did with the role of Superman. And Margot Kidder is still an iconic Lois Lane in her own right.

Superman II

“General, would you care to step outside?” That line is still awesome, which of course followed by Zod’s famous line “Kneel before Zod!” The flying sequences are still pretty cool, I mean yes the SFX has obviously improved since then but I still love the Metropolis scenery from above as Supes fight Zod & his two minions.

I remember people were all upset when Supes broke Zod’s neck in Man of Steel. Ok so it wasn’t quite as brutal, but Supes did kill Zod in Richard Donner‘s version too, and he didn’t seem all that remorseful. In any case, Terrence Stamp‘s expression as Supes crushes his hand is just priceless!

BatmanBegins_batcavescene

As for Batman, it’s got to be the Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy. Even if I end up liking what Ben Affleck brings to the role of Batman, but I think in terms of the cinematic adaptation itself, Nolan’s versions is really tough to beat.

Batman Begins

Just like that chopper rescue scene in Superman, it’s the right combination of visuals and score that makes for an absolutely perfect and unforgettable scene. This is the first time Bruce Wayne discovers the ‘symbol’ he later chooses to become, and the scene always gives me goosebumps! So beautifully shot and “It’s time my enemy shares my dread.”

Now, I know this scene doesn’t exactly show the heroics of the caped crusader, but that’s just it. It’s a lighthearted moment that gives us a bit of rest from all the dark stuff our hero is going through. And who doesn’t love that practically orgasmic look on Bruce Wayne’s face as he quipped, ‘does it come in black?’

The Dark Knight

I have dedicated a post for this interrogation scene, as it showcased such tremendous acting from both Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. It’s one of those rare superhero film that can be considered a masterpiece but I don’t think it’d be a hyperbole to consider The Dark Knight as one, and Ledger’s post-humous Oscar is absolutely well-deserved.

There are many many great action scenes in the Dark Knight trilogy but I think THIS one is the best and most feverishly entertaining sequence. Batman’s got such awesome rides and he sure knows how to use it! I get so giddy watching his cape billowing in the air as he rides that bat-pod and that spectacular wall flip after he er, flipped Joker’s truck, it’s nothing short of epic!! It was quite a feat to pull off technically but my gosh was it well worth it as we can appreciate it for years to come!

The Dark Knight Rises

Just like James Bond, Bruce Wayne’s got some awesome gadgets and in this Batman vs Gotham Police scene, he’s certainly got the upper hand. The moment the BatPlane came out of that alley was pure geekgasm stuff! I also love that the whole time Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was in the car w/ Deputy commissioner Foley, he’s defending Batman.

The first mano a mano between Batman and Bane is definitely a highlight. It sent me chills down my spine when Bane said, ” I was wondering what would break first: Your spirit, or your body.” It was tough to hear Tom Hardy‘s mumbling at times but when you can make out what he’s saying, it’s pretty darn scary.

I wonder which scene(s) I’d include from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice months down the line, but I’m guessing it’d involve Wonder Woman 😉


Hope you enjoy a bit of walk down memory lane with the two DC superheroes. Which Batman & Superman scenes from past movies are YOUR favorites?

Weekend Roundup: Musings on the first half of Daredevil season 2

DaredevilSeason2

My hubby and I usually would spend 15-20 minutes just browsing iTunes and Netflix and agonize over what to watch. So we’re sure glad Daredevil Season 2 dropped on Netflix last Friday, as we know what we’ll be bingeing on all weekend. But our extent of ‘binging’ is actually just 3 episodes a day, so we’re only about halfway through season 2 with 7 episodes in, but that’s not bad considering it took us nearly 3 months to finish Jessica Jones!

I don’t usually blog about Netflix stuff but that seems to be the case the past couple of weeks. It’s a coincidence really, but hey, they do churn out quality stuff and this season of Daredevil sure is another winner in my book. As I mentioned in my Jessica Jones‘ post that it took a while for me to warm up to the character and the show. Well, not so w/ Daredevil as the same with season 1, I was immediately hooked. Once one episode ended, we couldn’t wait for another one!

Since I haven’t finished the entire season yet, I’ll just briefly list some of my favorite things about what I’ve seen so far, without revealing any spoiler (if I do, I’ll be sure to warn you).

What I’m liking so far:

The Punisher. Boy, Jon Bernthal‘s casting is just brilliant. There’s a lot of hype about his character but he did NOT disappoint. He fit the character like a glove and he’s the quintessential antihero, someone I sympathize with despite his obvious flaws. I have to say I don’t miss Wilson Fisk at all this season, and in terms of both having a rather tragic past, I think Punisher is far more compelling. At least so far anyways.

Daredevil2_Punisher

I can’t wait to see more of his backstory revealed, which only makes me want to see an entire season on him. That’s saying something given that I’ve never been all that interested in this character before and have skipped all of the cinematic adaptations so far. I’d even watch a movie of The Punisher w/ Jon Bernthal in the role!

Daredevil2_PunisherXray

I’ve always liked Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) since season 1 but I love her even more this time around. She’s acting like a investigative journalist here, as she gets dragged deeper into about Frank’s story. This girl’s got some chutzpah! I mean she has no superpower but she’d readily walk into things that’d likely get her in trouble. I absolutely admire her and I’m glad to see Karen gets more screen time this season.

Daredevil2_Karen

The key member of Nelson & Murdock, as well as Matt’s indispensable BFF, is the extremely affable Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). He’s rather underused in first season so I’m thrilled he’s also got more screen time and Henson got a few chances to shine in the role. I love how much he genuinely cares for his BFF and he’s not afraid to get in his face if he thinks Matt’s in over his head (which is quite often). I also love the fact that they utilized his legal training, as well as an admirable oratory skills, to good use. I’m not going to mention which scene, but when you see it, you’d want to stand and clap. Well done Foggy!!

Daredevil2_Foggy

Now, I haven’t decided how I feel about Elodie Young as Elektra Natchios yet at this point. So far her character arc is a rich, spoiled brat who’s pretty persuasive to get men (including Matt) to do her bidding. Well, the French actress certainly fits the femme fatale role well, though at times she seems to try to be too sexy that it’s irritating. I do like the playfulness of her banter with Matt, it actually gives a nice contrast to the unrelentingly-dark storyline of the Punisher.

Daredevil2_Elektra

Of course, Charlie Cox himself is still awesome as the title character. He’s even more comfortable in the role and it’s great to see his character grow and evolve. His concern for Hell’s Kitchen is unmistakable, but he’s a bit more world-weary (naturally so) and still ravaged by guilt. He’s also more careful about getting involved romantically, for fear that he’d mess things up.

And for a show called Daredevil, we expect some awesome fight scenes. The fight scenes between Daredevil and The Punisher sure is a highlight. The rooftop scene between the two are fantastically-done because it isn’t just fight, fight, fight but there’s plenty of conversations between them. I LOVE that Netflix doesn’t skimp on character development. (spoiler alert!) As you would see on ep. 4, Bernthal has one long emotional monologue at the cemetery that’s wonderful to watch.

Daredevil2_Matt_Frank

But Daredevil also got plenty of opportunities beating up goons and hooligans from one episode to the next. The hallway fight scene below is pretty darn cool! I wonder if the director(s) got some inspiration from The Raid movies for this scene in particular.

daredevil-ep2-hallwayfight
Thanks hypeable.com for this awesome gif

But as cool as those fight scenes are, without a truly compelling story, I wouldn’t be inclined to keep watching. The morality tale of Daredevil is well-written and the inner conflict of the masked hero is what makes him intriguing to watch. With the arrival of Punisher who’s got his own brand of justice, that moral dilemma is even more palpable. Like Batman, Daredevil is a vigilante who doesn’t believe he has the right to take a life, no matter how bad the crime the villain has committed. The difference is that Daredevil is depicted as being a devout Catholic. Season 2 doesn’t shy away from the faith aspect and whether you agree or not with his views, it’s certainly make for a thought-provoking discussion.

Daredevil_Catholicism

As I’ve just finished episode 7 within an hour I posted this, I think season 2 is just as strong as the first one. At least based on what I’ve seen so far. Interesting that based on Rotten Tomatoes score, season 2 is a step down, and the critics consensus said ‘… the additions of Punisher and Elektra can’t quite fill the void left by Wilson Fisk’ Huh? Ok so maybe so about Elektra, but I definitely LOVE the Punisher character more than Fisk. Heh, that goes to show why I don’t always trust the professional critics.

Anyhoo, can’t wait to catch up w/ the rest of the season. Hopefully I’ll be done by next weekend!


So what did you watch this weekend? If you also binged on Daredevil season 2, I’d love to hear what YOU think!

10 Things I love about Netflix’s Jessica Jones

JessicaJonesBanner

I finally finished Jessica Jones a couple of weeks ago, nearly 3 months after we fired up the first episode. But hey, better late than never right? I was hoping to finish my post on this series before Daredevil season 2 comes out tonight (Friday 3/18), well it comes pretty darn close!

Before I get to my top 10, I have to highlight its fantastic opening credit sequence. The design for series’ opening credits have been impressive from what I’ve seen so far, but this is still one of the best.


It certainly sets the tone of the series, which is inherently dark and bleak. It’s definitely not a feel-good show, but that’s to be expected when the protagonist suffers from PTSD. It’s not perfect and I have to admit it took a while for me to really get into it, but my patience was rewarded and now I’m anticipating season 2!

Here are 10 reasons why Jessica Jones’ series won me over:

1. Slow burn mystery, more of a noir than an action-packed superhero series

Right from the first episode when Jessica is hired to find a missing NYU student, it’s clear this isn’t your typical superhero series. I love noir films which often feature a femme fatale, and this one certainly has that vibe. Creator Melissa Rosenberg (who had written for Dexter as well as the Twilight franchise) said in an interview that she’s influenced by Chinatown and Humprey Bogart films. I love detective stories so the fact that I’m a bit superhero fatigue made this series far more appealing.

2. A psychologically-complex & flawed super heroine

I love that we see our heroine having a regular job and we don’t see her use her abilities right away, so we see her more as a person than a larger-than-life character. She’s NOT one-dimensional, thank goodness, and the show takes its own good time in revealing who she is and what she’s about.

JessicaJones_KrystenRitter

I like what this writer of BBC Culture said about Jessica: “Finally, we’re getting superheroines with the kinds of flaws common in the last decade’s male superheroes – and anti-heroes. Catwoman and Elektra didn’t seem like real women because they didn’t have complicated, human personalities to go with their sexed-up superpowers. (Catwoman is too meek; Elektra is too angry.) Jessica Jones, on the other hand, is an alcoholic commitment-phobe.” 

“I need to update my resume. Would you put day drinking under experience or special skills?” 

It took me a couple of episodes before I actually warmed up to Jessica, but that actually adds to the appeal in the long run. I didn’t immediately like her because honestly, Jessica likely doesn’t care about being liked or admired and that made me respect her right away and finds her more and more interesting AND relatable as the series went on.

3. A solid, taut script that gets better as the season progressed

The strong, silent type isn’t just for the male protagonists. Miss Jones doesn’t say much but when she does, in the format of voice over or dialog, it’s always laden with sarcasm and somber tone. But that’s part of her charm!

“Pain is always a surprise, I try to avoid land mines, avoid caring, I can even see it coming. But until it hits you, you have no idea what pain is.”

The storyline of the series is complex, just like our heroine, and there’s always more than meets the eye. It’s always tough in any series to maintain audience interest from one episode to the next, but at the end of each episode I’m always intrigued to find out what happens next. It also handles the backstory of key characters (Jessica’s and Kilgrave’s) in an effective manner that it doesn’t bog us down with details by giving us just enough flashback to see why they are the way they are, as well as explains some of the relationships within the series.

4. Intriguing main cast

I actually had never seen Kristen Ritter before, though I know she was a regular cast-member of the hit series Breaking Bad. I have to admit it took a while for me to warm up to her as the heroine, but as I mentioned above, I think that’s intentional. It’s actually a testament to her convincing performance that I wasn’t immediately sympathetic to Jessica, but after about a couple episodes in, I was fully invested in her journey. Ritter is beautiful but in the show she’s made up to be tough, even crude, and she wears the same rugged clothes of denim & black leather jacket the entire season. The fact that she’s vulnerable is part of the appeal. You could even say a broken person after what she’s been through, but that makes her real and relatable in some ways.

JessicaJones_MikeColter

Mike Colter as Luke Cage has quite an instant impact on screen. I mean, look at him. The second the 6’3″ muscled-man with a disarming smile and irresistibly deep voice entered the screen, I was like ‘who’s THAT?’ But Mr Colter is more than just eye candy for the series. Just like Jessica, he’s also got superhuman powers in that he’s practically indestructible. But he’s also got a dark past that’s later revealed to have a connection with Jessica’. He’s got a scorching chemistry with Rytter (but what girl wouldn’t?), which made for some torrid love scenes. I wish he’s on more episodes but I’m thrilled to hear he’s getting his own spin-off series that might actually premiered later this year!

5. An unconventional-but-effective villain

When I first heard that David Tennant was going to be the villain I was a bit skeptical. I mean, it’s not that I didn’t think he’s a good actor, but I just don’t see him as menacing at all. But the show did a nice job building up to the moment we finally saw Kilgrave on screen after we’ve learned the horrendous things he’s done to Jessica and others. He has the unique ability of mind control, enabling him to get victims to do anything he wants, including killing themselves.

JessicaJones_DavidTennant

This is the way Rosenberg described Kilgrave in this interview, “What was most important with the villain was very much that he be multi-dimensional, that he not be a mustache-twirling, out-to-rule-the-world [villain]… [the crime] is more personal. It’s a more intimate wrong. I think it’s relatable in an individual way, whereas taking over the world, as well the stakes are incredibly high, it’s perhaps a little harder to connect to.” 

Kilgrave ends up being one of the creepiest Marvel villains ever, a worthy adversary that is evil through and through. Hiring the affable British actor is brilliant as he seems harmless on the outset. He has the appearance of a polite and refined British gent, but his deeds certainly made me shudder in horror. He doesn’t care who he would harm, even children, and he does it in the most nonchalant way. Every time Kilgrave spends time with our heroine, there’s always bone-chilling tension in the air and her absolute contempt strongly radiates from the screen.

6. A strong supporting cast w/ interesting story arc

I love how one character may appear minor initially, almost like a throwaway character if you will, but then later on he/she ends up being integral to the plot. The revelation is clever and smoothly interwoven into our heroine’s journey, so it’s not just tacked on to add interest. Two of my favorite supporting cast are her BFF Trish (Rachael Taylor) and neighbor Malcolm (Eka Darville). Interestingly both are Aussies, but you wouldn’t know it from their perfect American accent.

JessicaJones_supportingcast JessicaJones_CarrieAnneMoss

Carrie-Anne Moss is pretty interesting as a ruthless attorney with her own issues with her lesbian divorce, and the conflict with her wife culminated into a chilling battle in the ‘1,000 cuts’ episode. Will Simpson (played by yet another Aussie, Wil Traval), a cop who became Trish’s love interest also ends up being a rather sinister character. I’m curious to see what arc he’d have in season 2.

7. A truly gritty and moody atmosphere

People use the term ‘gritty’ so liberally on movies or tv shows, but Jessica Jones truly has that somber, moody atmosphere and the set pieces in New York City looks appropriately dark and dingy look to it, it’s decidedly unglamorous to match our spunky and feisty heroine. It certainly matches her biting wit and sarcasm. But it’s not just in the looks alone, the show is uncompromising in exposing truly dark subjects such as rape, trauma, sexual assault, etc. It’s also pretty violent and bloody, including one seemingly inspired by the Se7en. I had to avert my eyes in quite a few scenes, but I don’t think it’s as violent as Daredevil.

JessicaJones_nyc

The series is visually striking, with interesting camera work and spectacular sceneries of NYC. But the visuals never overshadows the narrative, as our eyes are always focused on the characters.

8. Believable relationships that aren’t always rosy

I’m always glad when an on-screen romance is handled well and I think Jessica & Luke Cage is a great example. They have a believable chemistry but right off the bat you know it’s a complicated relationship that will get tested time and time again.

You’re the first person I ever pictured a future with. You’re also the first person I ever shot in the head.

Jessica Jones, you are a hard-drinking, short-fused, mess of a woman, but you are not a piece of shit.

JessicaJones_LukeCage

The theme of friendship is compelling in this series. It’s rare to see the protagonist’s BFF actually has an integral part in the story, she’s not simply a sidekick or the voice of reason, what have you. The friendship between Jessica and Trish feels realistic because they tell things as they are. They disagree and often bicker, but you know deep down they love each other and would risk their lives for each other.

 

9. A superhero film that isn’t concerned w/ heroics & spectacle

You could say that this is a superhero film for grownups given the dark subject matter. I think the fact that Jessica isn’t concerned about doing the heroic thing or saving the world is so refreshing. In fact she has a pretty grim view about people… “Humanity sucks and they don’t deserve saving.” She’s probably right, especially in her line of work as a PI, hired to spy on people doing horrible things. But what makes her a hero is that she does care about people, not the way Superman cares about the concept of ‘justice, truth and the American way’ but people she knows whose lives might be in danger, and she’s willing to put her own lives at risk to protect them. But at the same time, the morality isn’t simply black and white, sometimes the good people do bad things and our heroine herself deal with a lot of guilt and even self-loathing.

10. A killer finale to top off a strong first season

JessicaJones_finale

‘AKA Smile’ is the name of the final episode and it sure is a fitting title. The stakes get higher and higher for Jessica in the last two episodes and she had to do very difficult things to someone she really cares about. There’s also the Daredevil crossover that’s exciting for me as I’m a huge fan of that show as well. But given all the conflicts has been between Jones & Kilgrave, the final episode definitely gives a gratifying climax that’s suspenseful right up until the end. It’s also one of the most action-packed episode that showcase Jessica’s extraordinary abilities.

 


Well, that’s my top 10 review of Jessica Jones. I’d love to hear what YOU think of the series.

Musings on the first trailer of the new Ben-Hur (2016)

BenHur2016poster

Most of you who’ve read my blog for a while knows I’m a huge fan of the 1959 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. I’ve listed it as one of the films that have defined me and one of my three favorite Oscar-winning films of all time. That epic masterpiece that won the most awards in its time (11 wins out of 12 noms) was actually a remake of the 1925 silent film. I always think that like Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, etc., Ben-Hur is one of those classics that ought not get remade. Alas, nothing is sacred anymore these days so we shouldn’t be surprised that nearly 60 years later, we get yet another cinematic adaptation based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

Behold the trailer…

 

BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army.  Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery.  After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Initial impressions

The way the trailer’s cut now didn’t exactly scream epic in terms of compelling narrative and emotional gratification. Given the pedigree of the director, whose Hollywood films so far seem to be more effects-driven than anything else, this trailer certainly showcase that. Yes so at the time, the 1959 Ben-Hur was marketed as an epic that offered a spectacle like no other, and that chariot race scene alone is a reason to see it on the biggest screen possible. Even as I saw it decades later, when special effects had improved significantly, that chariot scene still left me breathless and it remained one of the most incredible scene to pull off even by today’s standard. But yet, the film was far more than just the spectacle and what stays with me more is the story, it’s the protagonist’s journey and transformation (more of that later). I suppose with 3.5 hours running time, the 1959 version could go into more depth with the story and there are richer, more complex narrative that involve more than just Ben-Hur vs Messala.

So far my impression is meh, in fact someone remarked on Twitter that this is ‘Fast and Furious: Jerusalem Drift‘ and I don’t blame them for thinking that. I mean the blaring music is so generic and has no majestic vibe at all, and way too much screaming and laden with banal dialog. But y’know what, instead of just brushing it off, I thought I’d offer some of my thoughts about some of the elements of the movie.

The cast

BenHur_Huston_Freeman

Heston was so 50-years ago, we now have Huston as the new Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur. Ok I have to admit I was inspired by this great opening line from EW.com. Jack Huston sure has quite a Hollywood pedigree – grandson of acclaimed filmmaker John Huston and nephew of Anjelica Huston, but whether or not he could step into Charlton Heston’s shoes, er sandals remains to be seen. Now, though I think Heston was great in the role that won him an Oscar for Best Actor, he’s not exactly the most expressive actor. What Heston did have in abundance is screen presence, and I’m curious to see how Huston fares in that regard in his first leading role in a big-budget film. Huston is not a household name yet but I’ve seen him in three films so far, American Hustle, Night Train to Lisbon, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which showed he’s a pretty versatile actor. He certainly looked more Jewish-looking, for a lack of a better word, with dark hair and dark eyes, than Heston was, though one could argue blond, blue-eyed Jews do exist.

BenHur_Huston_Freeman2

Morgan Freeman is the most recognizable face here as Sheik Ilderim and he naturally adds gravitas to the production. I do have a soft spot for British actor Hugh Griffith in the 1959 version though, as he didn’t take himself so seriously. He’s more of an ally than a mentor too, so it seems they’re more of equal footing in their relationship. Plus Freeman’s dreadlocks is distracting, it’s like something out of Battlefield Earth, did they just have their discarded wig or something?? It’ll be hard not to burst out laughing every time he’s on screen now, come on man, you’re supposed to add dignity not comic relief!

BenHur_TobyKebell

Toby Kebbell seems type cast as a villain now. He’s just played Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Doctor Doom in the um, doomed Fantastic Four movie, and now Messala. Again, I LOVE Stephen Boyd who had a great chemistry with Heston as both friend and foe. I can’t say I’m feelin’ it with these two, but then again they’ve got mundane dialog like ‘Are we having fun now brother?‘ which seems to be inspired by another sword ‘n sandal epic Gladiator‘s famous line ‘Are you not entertained?‘ but folks, it’s all in the delivery and Kebbell ain’t no Russell Crowe. That said, I also think he’s a good actor from some movies I’ve seen him in, most notably Rocknrolla, War Horse and Control.

The director

So I think the cast might turn out to be ok, but what worries me most is the director, Russian filmmaker w/ the unpronounceable name, Timur Bekmambetov. Now, I’ve seen two of his previous movies, Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I’ve enjoyed both in varying degrees, but he’s not exactly the name who’d be in my wish list if I were asked who I’d want to direct an epic sword & sandals masterpiece. For one thing, his films seems to be very CGI-laden, and from this trailer it looks pretty effects-heavy. Heh, I was hoping what Jack said at the IGN comic-con interview (promoting PPZ movie) were true, as he said there’ll be more practical effects and he had spent four months ‘doing everything for real’ which sounds really promising.

The core theme of the story

Now there’s the treatment of the Christ story, which is pivotal in the book, I mean the tagline IS ‘a tale of the Christ’ after all. Apparently Rodrigo Santoro is playing Jesus Christ here, as there’s a snippet of the crucifixion scene. I read that Jesus is given a bigger character arc this time around, and whilst that is a wonderful thing in my book it also worries me a little. What I love about the William Wyler version is the subtle-yet-powerful depiction of Christ whose face was never shown on film. The impact of his being was conveyed through the characters who encounter him in the film, i.e. the Roman soldier who wanted to reprimand him for giving water to Judah.

BenHur1959_Jesus_RomanSoldier

It’s mysterious and mystical, and the faceless character had such gravitas that it’s unforgettable, especially the moment he gave Ben-Hur water when he’s chained as a slave. That scene is one of my all time favorite cinematic scenes that I could watch over and over. What the 1959 version did beautifully was that it showed how Judah’s and Jesus’ lives intersect, and the parallel of how the two men were charged and punished for a crime they didn’t commit. But in the end it was more of a story of redemption than a tale of vengeance, a theme that perhaps isn’t as cool or even marketable, but for me it leaves a much more lasting impression.

Interestingly, Bekmambetov actually said in an interview (per IMDb trivia) that he thought the 1959 version was more about revenge. Huh? Did he not stay until the end of the film?? Judah’s last line was not at all subtle about his own redemption.

Judah Ben-Hur: Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Esther: Even then.

Judah Ben-Hur: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.

He went on to say that wanted to focus more on the forgiveness aspect of the story, he said ‘…humanity has to learn how to love and forgive.’ Well, I sure hope what he aspired to do w/ the story will actually transpire in the final film, as I’m not seeing that in this trailer. At the very least I’m hoping that the Jesus’ story be handled respectfully and that the themes of love and compassion in Lew Wallace’s novel isn’t love amidst the CGI-fest spectacle.

One last thing, I find it odd to see Judah falling from his chariot and held on to his horses, how’s he going to get back up to the chariot and win the race?? I guess we’ll find out when the movie is out on August 12, 2016.


Well, that’s my thoughts. Now, what do YOU think about the first Ben-Hur trailer?

….

Counting down to Netflix’s Daredevil season 2!

DaredevilSeason2

It’s just three days away until Daredevil Season 2!! All 13 episodes will be out on Netflix on Friday, March 18 at 12:01 PST. It’s actually two weeks earlier than the air date of the first season which was released on April 10, 2015. It wasn’t until about a month later that my hubby and I finished all 13 episodes but once we’re done, we couldn’t wait for more!

Well, after nearly a year, that day is just around the corner! The latest trailer just dropped and it wets my appetite even more!


I’m just in the process writing my review of Jessica Jones‘ season 1 and I don’t think it’d be a huge spoiler to say there’s a connection between these two Netflix superhero series. I was literally screaming at my tv when I saw one of Daredevil‘s characters made an appearance!

Season 2 synopsis:
Daredevil_MattMurdock

Just when Matt (Charlie Cox) thinks he is bringing order back to the city, new forces are rising in Hell’s Kitchen. Now the Man Without Fear must take on a new adversary in Frank Castle and face an old flame – Elektra Natchios. Bigger problems emerge when Frank Castle, a man looking for vengeance, is reborn as The Punisher, a man who takes justice into his own hands in Matt’s neighborhood. Meanwhile, Matt must balance his duty to his community as a lawyer and his dangerous life as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, facing a life-altering choice that forces him to truly understand what it means to be a hero.

Where season 1 left off

It ended on an optimistic note but still left plenty of uncertainties for resident of Hell’s Kitchen. The scary big dude Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) managed to escape custody in the finale but thankfully Daredevil was able to corner him and so he’s now in prison.

Daredevil_WilsonFisk

I thought that white wall thing in his cell for him to stare at is quite hilarious. Murdock and his BFF/law partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) put up a new sign outside their law office, and now Foggy is fully aware of his best friend’s nightly activities as a crime fighter.

New adversaries for Matt Murdock…

Punisher

I thought that Wilson Fisk was a pretty scary adversary but sounds like we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Jon Bernthal has joined the cast as Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher, who’ll come to Hell’s Kitchen to deliver his own brand of justice. Whilst Matt typically incapacitate the criminals but left them alive, Frank didn’t seem to have any qualms finishing them off any way he could. And Bernthal sure have the physicality and grit that made him truly menacing. I actually haven’t seen any film version of The Punisher, there just hasn’t been any worth checking out to be honest. But THIS version looks pretty darn cool and I’d welcome a spinoff of his character which is currently in the works. Just like Batman vs Superman though, I think these foes will eventually join forces against a common enemy, not sure who that’ll be.

Daredevil_newfoes

Here’s a featurette of Frank Castle, a man looking for vengeance descend into Hell’s Kitchen. He is reborn as The Punisher, a man who takes justice into his own hands in Matt’s neighborhood.

Elektra

I’ve also got the good fortune of not having seen the Daredevil movie w/ Batfleck aka Ben Affleck, nor the spinoff Elektra starring his current ex Jennifer Garner. I only know that Elektra has a romantic history w/ Matt Murdock, which naturally sex things up a lot. Daredevil’s former flame is now played by a French actress Elodie Yung whose exotic looks goes well with her dangerous martial arts badassery.

 

… but the old gang are back again

I LOVE all of the supporting cast of Daredevil and they all have interesting character arc that serve the overall narrative.

I love both female characters in season 1, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). I’m especially excited for Claire and hope that there’ll be more scenes between him and Matt. They certainly have a pretty scorching chemistry but most of the action involves nurse Claire stitching up Matt after a bloody fight. Hopefully there’ll be more interactions between her and Foggy & Karen, too as they’re the only ones who know about Matt’s secret identity.

Daredevil_Claire

Karen’s an intriguing character in her own right, as she’s more than just a legal help in Nelson & Murdock law firm. I’d love to see a bit more of her backstory in season 2, hopefully it isn’t lost in the battle between Matt and his two new formidable foes.

Daredevil_Matt_Karen

The scene where she shot Fisk’s right-hand man Wesley was unexpected but a welcome story arc for her. There was a hint of romance between him and Matt in the first season, so maybe there’ll be more of that in season 2? I just hope there’s no love triangle (or even quadruple??) nonsense and it’s rarely handled well and it almost always comes out corny. Must be nice being Charlie Cox though, having not one or two but three potential love interests in a single show, wow!

Well, I’m gonna end it with this photo of Nelson & Murdock legal team, now this is a law firm I can totally get behind. Friday can’t come soon enough. For sure I know what I’ll be watching this entire weekend!

NelsonMurdockLawFirm


So are you anticipating Daredevil Season 2? 

///