Dear Marvel: Make Female Super Hero Movies, plural

The superhero Parthenon is overwhelmingly white and male.  It is not a surprise then that the comic book movie era Hollywood is currently in repeats this trend.  Kevin Feige, Marvel Studio’s president, promises us (kinda) a Captain Marvel movie by 2016.  And all I have to say to that is… Thanks… And I mean that in the least enthusiastic way possible while still kind of being interested.
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A Brief Review: Men in Black 3

Grade: B-

First Thoughts:

If you’re nostalgic like me, you won’t hate this movie. Wait, is Will Smith getting older?  Nah, ’cause that would mean I was getting older.


Not much to say about this one other than it was a cute movie that tied up the Men in Black franchise in a very clever way (clever to people who understand the rules of sci-fi time travel).  I was surprised at the use of the convention in this movie, even more surprised that I didn’t hate it.   For example, I like the fact that they paid attention to what it would look like for a Black man to get transported back to the 1960s…   I won’t spoil too much, but I will say that other than a few unanswered questions related to their rules in the movie, they made the story and the relationship between Agents J and K work out to a really sweet end.


A Brief Review: The Hunger Games

Grade: B-/C+

First Thoughts:

Eh… I coulda had a V8.


The movie ended up being a story of two star crossed lovers instead of an exciting psychological thriller about a 14 year old girl who outwits an oppressive regime whose sadistic “Hunger Games” are meant to torture a population into submission. The film was taken in the wrong direction, and Collins definitely put this story in the hands of the wrong director in Gary Ross.

Star-crossed Lovers?

I’ll just briefly gesture toward my issues with the movie’s adaption:

  • The movie didn’t emphasize the desperation and the hunger of Katniss or folks in the districts.  Granted, they looked poor, but the book opens up with people dying of starvation.  A brief moment between Katniss and Gale where she’s surprised over real bread doesn’t quite capture the desperation.  And that emphasis on desperation makes Katniss’ love of food so much more profound and makes her more human and fleshy.  That got completely lost in the film, along with the fact that Gale kinda looked like her and would have looked a bit less like a supermodel.
  • Why did Gale look like he ate everyday and took supplements?  He was a bit to ripply even under that baggy shirt.
  • I saw one too many people yawn during the movie; pair that with the “stay awake” stretches and that points to the “action” being a bit on the dull side, but I don’t expect much from the guy who wrote “Big.”  The film was filled with so many anti-climactic moments, that it was not a surprise that few people were captivated by those moments.
  • To those reviewers who saw this as anything other than mediocre either don’t watch that many movies, or were so excited to see the Capitol and the Gamemakers, and Katniss on the screen, that they don’t realize that the film wasn’t very strong.

Ultimately, they messed this one up which is not a huge surprise since they mess up most book to film movies (except for John Grisham and Stephen King books).  They distilled an exciting, mentally stimulating story into a series of “this happened-then this-then that” whose story was derivative–“star crossed lovers from District 12.” Advice to Suzanne Collins, call the directors of John Grisham and Stephen King books-to-movies… not the guy who did Seabiscuit

Why the -/+?

I didn’t hate it; it was entertaining.  Mostly because they picked an amazing cast.  Lenny Kravitz as Cinna… yessss. Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket… hell yesss.  And Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, go ‘head ya’ll.  Mostly amazing choices, except for Gale… who are they trying to kid? That guy never missed a meal.

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Courage Has No Color: A Brief Review of Red Tails

Grade: B-

First Thoughts:

That was nice…


Alright Lucas… so, what happened before all that?

“Courage Has No Color”

George Lucas has produced the first of what appears to be a series of epic films that follow the Tuskegee Airmen. This may very well be the first epic film featuring a nearly all Black (male) cast.

I think it was interesting that Lucas decided to make this film, now: this moment in American history, first Black president, and the current state of racial politics and popular culture.  That there is a dearth of African American men and women from major motion films except as maids or tokens… or Tyler Perry characters… I think the catchphrase of the film, “Courage has no color” is appropriate.  I was appreciative that the depiction of Black men wasn’t this kind of idealized version of Black masculinity.  The major characters were painted as dynamic, flawed, regular.  There was hubris, there was addiction, but there was not cowardice.

Thank you George Lucas.

Why the B(-)?

I thought that the film was decent.  It moved along, had a nice rhythm to it. I enjoyed the action sequences.   The acting was mostly good though I might have cast someone else other than Ne-Yo.  I wanted to be more compelled by the relationships that he set up between the characters, but I left the theater with a lot questions about how the characters got to know each other, that I hope might get answered in the next installment.

Good enough to see in the theater.  Not the best movie I’ve ever seen, though.  Reminded me of Spike Lee‘s Miracle at St. Anna.

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A Brief Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Grade: B-


Aww man. That was such a good action movie.

Commentary: A Classic Reborn

It only seems right that The Planet of the Apes series be re-packaged for us (à la that new Spider-Man movie they’re putting out).  But unlike a lot of remakes of remakes, this movie feels at home within the already vast Planet of the Apes landscape which features 5 movies ranging from 1968-1973, a cartoon series, and the remake which many of us remember which stared “Marky” Mark Wahlberg Captain Leo Davidson.

To be fair, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) stands as a very apt origin-story that manages, without being cheesy, to explain how it was that Charlton Heston (and later “Marky” Mark Walberg) landed on a planet that was ruled by apes who walked and talked like men.  Interesting enough, unlike either the original or the remake, there were no people in ape costumes.  Modern movie technology allowed Andy Serkis (who also played King Kong in 2005) to make the main character, Caesar, come to life without actually having to climb into an ape costume.

Without spoiling too much, Caesar’s life and rise to power seem to echo that Roman statesman whose name he carries and I certainly see the potential for Caesar to need to watch his back on the ides of March, or the sequel to the pre-sequel.  Speaking of sequels and pre-sequel sequels, The Planet of the Apes is already a rather big movie-verse.  I find it interesting that it has been revived and I am curious to see what they think up for the sequel to the pre-sequel which could very well be a remake of the remake:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975)

The Planet of the Apes (2001)

What I found particularly interesting was The Rise’s ability to make you sympathize with the apes and to want them to succeed even against humans.  While I still managed to be conscious of the film doing this, making me rather un-empathetic for the human species, the movie-goers I watched the film with cheered particularly hard when the apes won and even harder when humans “got served” by apes.  This was the most skin crawling effect that the movie had.  Particularly because this was not the feeling created in the original films which felt more like stories of what would happen because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been signed…

Why the B(-): The Remake Rant

We seem to be witnessing Hollywood’s Age of the Superhero/Action Movie Remake.  To be sure, they are box office hits: The Rise of the Planet of the Apes raked in $77 million this weekend.  But there’s something rather special about seeing a brand new movie and getting to know it’s conventions.  I don’t doubt the awe that people felt after watching The Planet of the Apes (1968) in its original form.  And while The Rise of was certainly worth telling, the remakes of remakes are getting rather redundant, right?

Nevertheless, I liked this movie.  Definitely worth seeing in theaters.

As I’ve argued before, there are so many stories that should be brought to life, but are simply being overlooked.