Tag Archives: bryan singer

Around the Tubes

The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1

It was a pretty quiet day as far as news but here’s some from around the web. Check some news and reviews out while you wait for the work day to end and weekend to begin.

The Beat – Bryan Singer No Longer Directing the Red Sonja Movie – Good. It took a while and he shouldn’t have been hired in the first place… but better late than never.

Reviews

ComicBook – The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1
The Beat –
Wolf’s Head #1 and #2

Around the Tubes

The Green Lantern #4

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Newsarama – Gail Simone Takes Over Tony Stark: Iron Man for War of Realms – Where totally in for it.

The Mary Sue – It’s About Time: Bryan Singer’s Red Sonja Put On Hold – Well past time.

Reviews

Newsarama – The Green Lantern #4
The Beat –
Watersnakes

Movie Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

bohemian rhapsody posterIs this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Bohemian Rhapsody hopes that the charm and award-worthy performance of its star Rami Malek and strength of its music carries the film, and they mostly do. But rather than being “Bohemian Rhapsody,” this film is more like the more obscure Queen song “I’m in Love With My Car.”

In fact, most of the first half of the film centers around another song entirely, “Love of My Life,” which a young Freddie Mercury pens for his girlfriend Mary. For the first half of the film, she is the love of his life, his muse, and his guiding light. It’s a pretty by-the book romance. We meet him when he is still a young Farrokh Bulsara working at Heathrow Airport, who defies his Parsi immigrant parents by both adopting the name “Freddie” and pursuing music rather than a more stable career.

The film tries to check off a lot of boxes as though it’s a paint-by-numbers jukebox musical biopic off of an assembly line — and the first of these are the tragic romance between Freddie and Mary and Freddie’s relationship with his parents (set up so he can finally get approval from his disapproving father in the finale!) The problem is that you can feel the formula. And, rather than taking any one of these themes and developing it fully, in its attempts to be about everything, it’s actually about nothing. This is tragic, as the life of Freddy Mercury and the music of Queen deserves better than a Wikipedia-level recitation of facts.

Another checkbox is the repeated focus on “this band is a family” which if it were any more overt would require Vin Diesel to show up and ask for copyright infringement royalties on behalf of the Fast and Furious movies. Unfortunately, Freddy plays out front and Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon mostly show up as “the other guys in Queen” rather than having real personalities or character arcs. This is tragic, as each of them are rock gods in their own right and deserve more than to play backup to Rami Malek’s performance.

Another major issue simply checked-off (and possibly the most consequential) is Mercury’s sexuality and place as an icon of gay/queer/bi community. The first half of the film, he is presented just like any other heterosexual rock star but he’s definitely in love with Mary. But his personal story of coming out and coming to grips with his attraction to men is played a little strangely– as though it is shameful or tawdry, including a hookup with a man in a truck stop restroom. At the same time, they really play up his love with Mary and how she inspired some of his biggest songs.

And then, suddenly, he tries to talk to her and say “I think I’m bisexual”– to which she declares, “No, you’re gay.”

Ok.

And then the rest of the movie, he is gay. He pines for her, but it’s unclear what exactly his feelings are.

It’s really easy to read “bi-erasure” into that. It’s also indicative of the sheen that is used to gloss over all the weird rough patches that normal human beings have. I don’t deign to know what was in Freddie Mercury’s heart of hearts and how he viewed his own sexuality. But I am pretty much 100% sure it wasn’t as simple as just that.

The film also doesn’t do anything to really paint the picture of the stakes of all of this– it was a weird, wild world in the ’70s. For instance, in 1976, Elton John announced he was bi to Rolling Stone and went from rock’n’roll royalty with back-to-back-to-back #1 albums to a pariah whose next albums were record chart poison.

Mercury couldn’t be openly bi, or gay, comfortably in public. But the films plays it as only tabloid fodder and an annoyance but that’s basically it rather than an existential threat to the band and his career wrapped around a personal existential crisis. A better film would’ve introduced this story with Elton John, or a friendship with David Bowie and discussions about queer sexuality to give the audience an understanding of just how big the stakes were. It also was a missed opportunity for some character development for the other band members.

Another checkbox they seem to need to check off is Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis. However, as biopics are wont to do, they compress his diagnosis into the weeks before the band’s iconic Live Aid performance. . . and then the film is over with that as the climax. To be fair– it’s an amazing climax. But, as the tropiest of tropes, they depict Mercury coughing into a white handkerchief and seeing blood come up as code for “he’s sick with AIDS.”

At least they didn’t fall into the “dying of AIDS” trope trap. No doubt that had they gone through the next five years through Mercury’s death and had “The Show Must Go On” as the film’s climax, that would’ve happened. And far too often, queer characters in media contract AIDS and die as though it’s some sort of punishment or warning. So it’s good they don’t fall into that trope. But in so doing, they also fall into numerous others.

I’d say I expect better from Bryan Singer, but. . . I really can’t say that I do. He “gets it” as a gay man. But it’s not nuanced in any way, and the story we seem to be told is, “Freddy was closeted, then he was gay.”

Queen — as a band, a cultural force, a legend — is just so much more than this film covers. It tries to check off a lot of boxes, and so in its attempts to be about everything, it’s sort of about nothing.

It doesn’t have a super strong point of view– it presents these rock gods like a really great “Behind the Music”and all of the individuals seem a little too polished. Mercury is the only one with any edge at all, and even then we get the feeling we’re getting the truth only from a certain point of view.

This is the jukebox biopic America deserves (brash, fun, glossy, uncomplicated) but not the one it needs (smart, challenging, nuanced).

But I daresay anyone who doesn’t cheer/cry at the final “We Are the Champions” performance at Live Aid has a heart of stone.

This is destined to be a huge crowd-pleaser, but unfortunately presents only a small facet of the crown jewel of rock that Queen actually is.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse PosterBryan Singer does it again!

I have to be honest I had my doubt with this movie. Having watched it last night I am very proud to see that most if not all them have been put to rest. Maybe I’m a sucker for the 80s, (1984 baby here) but the time period, the clothes, the  references, resonated very strongly with me. Xavier’s school in the era of skinny jeans, the cold war and President Reagan is a very fun place to be.  The themes and struggles of that era pair themselves well to the unfurling X-Men Mythos one that continues to tread Xenophobia, difference, the red scare and the spectre of mutually assured destruction. Apocalypse seizes on these zeitgeists in a way that punctuates his threat.  I shared the concerns of how Apocalypse would be presented but these were quickly alleviated. Oscar Isaac‘s really sold Apocalypse as primal and ontological threat.

One of my gripes was the lost opportunity for philosophical engagement. Ideologically Apocalypse is the diametric foil to Xavier, most of their conflict in the movie is confined to physical and psychic combat however. To me this was a bit of a lost opportunity (but still very cool visually). Apocalypse’s Darwinian proclivities could have benefited the film with a more thorough exploration. This is also the case at least 2 of his horsemen, (Psylocke and Storm) who’s motivation for aligning with the God-Mutant aren’t entirely clear.  In the comics, mutants chosen to become Horsemen undergo profound brainwashing that endures for years after the fact, in the movie it wasn’t too apparent whether this was taking place. Additionally  The notion of first mutation was introduced and also could have benefited from more explanation, with 7 installments into the franchise I think the time is ripe to explore the ontology of mutation, especially considering a jaw dropping event that takes place near the end of the film. Spoiler: with a telepathic assist from Jean on the Astral plane Xavier instructs her to unleash her potential giving us a more faithful adaptation of the phoenix force on the big screen.  This moment was huge and I doubt that its ramifications have been all settled.

Bryan Singer is to be commended for the way he interwove the plotting and pacing,  the interaction between the mentor X-Men and younger team was masterfully done in a way that was organic and believable. I was worried how they would throw the neophyte X-Men into the ring training and all, but their involvement and the nature of the threat they are presented with makes it work. The progression of the film did feel a bit fast but there was good economy of screen time per character vs set up on the hero side of the equation. As I mentioned earlier however Apocalypse and his horsemen suffered a bit in this regard. Quicksilver returns once more doing what he does best …stealing scenes. This time his powers are shown off to an 80’s hit track that had everyone in my theatre laughing. Made me wonder and anticipate what he’ll speed out to if they get a 90’s sequel off the ground.

Magneto had some very good scenes, and the story did a good job raising some pathos for his character. A new plot element takes its cue straight from the comics, and really cements Magneto as a tortured soul, justifiably incensed with humanity. As I mentioned earlier however die hard fans will be left unclear as to how much of Magneto’s rage is his own, versus how much is of Apocalypses influence.

As the installment closing out the second X-Trilogy I would say X-Men: Apocalypse did its job admirably. The call backs and homages to past movie elements really show how much Singer and Simon Kinberg love and respect the franchise while providing winks to the audience. Above all this however, X-Men: Apocalypse injects fresh blood and opportunity into a run that could have easily gone stale 16 years and 7 films in. To see the broad range of philosophies presented thus (egalitarian, Darwinian, bioethcial etc) aside multiple/alternate timelines, is quite a feat. It is fair to say that the x-movies have juggled and adapted its source material wonderfully, while using time travel to cleverly edit out or otherwise erase its less than stellar flops (Sorry Brett Ratner). As the X-students say after walking out of a Star Trek movie “The third movie is always the worst”

There is a post credit stinger you will want to stick around for, providing another hint that we are not finished with the X-Universe just yet. This stinger also hints at another iconic villain I am excited to see. Apocalypse is one of the most iconic villains in the X-Men rogues gallery, was he perfectly adapted? That is debatable. Will this movie have you excited for what’s to come? Without a question….yes it will and for me that’s where this movie’s strength lies. Clearing away the stagnancy of what came before   and being the fire that ignites new life, to paraphrase Apocalypse’s words, I think that was the underlying ethos for this movie as well…that’s kind of meta.

Final Thoughts

Although the political themes weren’t showcased as strongly as I had hoped, the opening title sequences explored them quit a bit symbolically. They are really starting become a hallmark of the franchise, reaching James Bond Levels of Iconic.

Overall Score 8.5

X-Men Apocalypse Gets a New Poster

A trailer debuted last week, but X-Men Apocalypse has gotten a new poster as revealed by director Bryan Singer with his Instagram account.

Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshipped as a god. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

X-Men: Apocalypse comes to theaters May 27, 2016.

The First Official Look at Psylocke and Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse

Though a leaked, grainy version of the X-Men: Apocalypse teaser trailer is making its way around the web, as per usual Entertainment Weekly has the first official look at some of the characters for next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse directed by Bryan Singer.

The cover shows off Olivia Munn‘s Psylocke, as well as Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. Also featured is Michael Fassbender in a new Magneto uniform.

We also get some info from EW as to what to expect from the film as well as who Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen are:

As the new film opens, 10 years have passed and Raven (Lawrence), Charles (McAvoy), and Erik (Michael Fassbender) are still estranged, but not for much longer. The Big A awakens from his Egyptian tomb, sizes up the global ’80s vibe, and decides he’s not down with the Reagan era. “It’s a chaotic world of conflict and war and destruction,” Singer says. “It’s one giant civilization that now requires one giant culling. That’s why he needs ­special assistants in this process.” He finds teenage Storm living on the streets in Cairo, Angel (Ben Hardy) duking it out in a fight club in Berlin, and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) working behind the Iron Curtain for the mutant-broker Caliban. But his big get is Erik, who has been attempting to live a “normal” life in Poland. “He’s fallen in love and he’s basically left his metal ways behind,” Fassbender says. Pretty quickly, though, his world is shattered and “normal” is no longer an option. Says Fassbender, “Apocalypse finds Erik at a low ebb and recruits him.”

ew-cover-1373-xmen

A First Look at Sophiee Turner and Lana Condor as Jean Grey and Jubilee

Director Bryan Singer went to Twitter and posted a photo of the second day of shooting for next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. The photo is of actors Sophiee Turner and Lana Condor who will play Jean Grey and Jubilee in the movie.

A first Look at Kodi Smith-McPhee as Nightcrawler

If you weren’t quick enough, you might have missed it, as the picture has gone bamf! To celebrate the first day on set director Bryan Singer posted to Instagram and Twitter a first look at actor Kodi Smith-McPhee as Nightcrawler in next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. After a little time up, the image was deleted for unknown reasons.

So what do you think of the look? Reminds me a bit of the design for the character from the X-Men: Evolution cartoon mixed with Alan Cummings version from X2.

kodi smith-mcphee nightcrawler

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