Will The Justice League Film Work?

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Last year, Marvel’s The Avengers (or Avenger’s Assemble in the U.K) triumphed at the box-office. Making over $1.5 billion worldwide it blew all other movies out the water financially, including Warner Brothers’ The Dark Knight Rises, which was originally suspected to be the king of the superhero film in 2012. Joss Whedon managed to combine the myriad of superheroes and create an exciting, intense and very likeable film all under two and a half hours. Even the most passionate comic book fans had their reservations about how the amount of characters could combine effectively and how the previous films may intertwine without confusing a virgin audience member. However, Whedon quickly quashed all fears in one fell swoop, with style.

Iron Man in The Avengers

Warner Brothers, who own the rights to the D.C comics would obviously have seen the success of Avengers and wanted to do something along those lines. Especially with the end of the hugely successful Dark Knight trilogy and their summer release Man of Steel still being an unknown quantity. The obvious answer was finally to make and release the ill fated Justice League movie that has in recent years suffered delays and all sorts of commotion.

The Justice League of America is a band of heroes in the DC comics that, like The Avengers, unite to fight evil, whether it’s the Legion of Doom of whomever. Their group includes, among many others that are constantly changing, Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Aquaman. These are the best known to the average movie goer, although only three have recently appeared on screen, and would most likely be those which the movie centres around. How would this band work together on screen though?

The movie is planned for 2015, colliding head on, not only with The Avengers 2, but competing with Star Wars VII, the most hotly anticipated film of the decade. Currently Justice League has no director, although George Miller, Zack Snyder and more recently Ben Affleck and Christopher Nolan have been linked. There is no knowing if the current Superman (Henry Cavill), Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) and Batman (Christian Bale) have agreed to sign up. There has also been a lack of screen presence from The Flash and Wonder Woman, two of the key members of the league. Also, will Justice League continue with the realistic, worldly tone of The Dark Knight and Man of Steel or change it to something more light hearted? Warner Brothers truly have their work cut out here with a lot to think about.cavill-man-of-steel

With only two years before the prospective release date there really needs to be some progress this year if it’s going to even come close to mirroring the success of The Avengers. Perhaps Warner is waiting for audience response to Man of Steel before deciding on a director. A success will surely catapult Snyder to top of the directing list, with possibly Nolan and writer David S. Goyer added to impose an essence of Dark Knight. Then, the cast needs to be established. If Bale and Cavill are replaced it has to be the right kind of actor that replaces them. This will be a very tricky task, especially because, Bale especially, has already spent the best part of a decade making the Batman character his.

The characters who have yet to appear on screen also have to be great actors because it is these versions of iconic heroes like Wonder Woman and The Flash that are going to be scrutinised by the fans. Most vitally, however, the script needs to be sharp, funny and have a solid plot that the audience can follow, relate to and altogether enjoy.

I don’t know if Justice League will make its deadline of 2015. It seemed something of a knee jerk reaction by Warner to Marvel’s success. However, it will be interesting to watch this space because there is certainly great potential in this series and its heroes.

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How Christopher Nolan has saved the Blockbuster

After seeing the final instalment of the Batman trilogy I thought against writing a review for it. It quite simply is a masterpiece and that’s what pretty much every review is concluding anyway. For me to sit here and write a similar review would be like us all just saying ‘yeah, that Hamlet was a bit good’; we’re all pretty much agreed on the matter. Also, there is the risk of a spoiler, even without intending it and I am always 100% against evil spoilers. So, instead I decided to take a look at the main man behind it and how he invigorated and basically saved the summer blockbuster, just a few years after it looked to be sinking rapidly.

First, let’s take a look a few years back. The summer of 2007, a year before The Dark Knight wowed audiences and Inception was still a dream. The highly anticipated Simpsons movie had flopped, Die Hard 4.0 came and went without making an impact and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 didn’t make any sense to anyone at all. Not even the people making the movie. This was also the summer of Transformers. Although both the movie and Michael Bay get an insurmountable amount of stick the movie wasn’t so bad, although it did mean that the audience didn’t have to think anymore. And the times of narrative and compelling three dimensional characters had taken a back seat for a mess of CGI. Things were looking like they might stay like this for a while with scriptwriting a dying art. But Nolan in the following years with The Dark Knight and Inception took the notion that the audience could follow complex plots; and with the backing of the studios, that came from his successful indie career (Memento, Insomnia, etc) and the success that was Batman Begins, set to work reformulating the Blockbuster.

The reason Nolan’s films work is that he shows a respect to his audience. Like Shakespeare, who wrote his often complicated plays with the intentions that his audiences, whether they be rich or poor, work it out, so does Nolan establish his narrative and lets it flow without explaining it in a patronising manner. The Bard’s work was rich with political and historical subject matter that many of his audience members, then and now, wouldn’t be overly familiar with. But the quality of the story stood out. Nolan presents us with the modern equivalent. Inception especially is so filled with science, psychology and all sorts of theories that would be more in place in a university than a cinema. However, he never loses the audience because of the quality of the story and the characters. Many films struggle with finding this balance but Nolan has managed to do it, and not only this, but brought it away from the independent films and into the Blockbusters.

His ability to mix the special effects and emotional heart is unrivalled in modern cinema. The use of realism in the Batman films is something that all other comic book adaptations attempt to compete with but cannot at the same levels. The Amazing Spiderman was desperate to repeat this system in its ill fated reboot. As has the new Superman franchise, which Nolan has an executive producer title on. No doubt it will attempt to emulate its successful predecessor in the genre.  Every Superhero film wants to match Batman.

The Dark Knight Rises takes every successful element from the previous films and serves as the best conclusion possible. The cast is pitch perfect, once again a triumphant ensemble. Everything in Rises comes together so beautifully and precise. Nobody in the cinema would be thinking its dragging despite its marathon running time, which is almost an impossibility to achieve. Nolan and his team, that should not be forgotten, including Jonathan Nolan, Wally Pfister and Hans Zimmer who continues to captivate with his unrivalled epic scores have created one of the best and certainly the most consistent trilogies in the history of cinema while revitalising the Blockbuster and proving audiences deserve better. I think we all look forward to Nolan’s next venture, whatever that may be.

The Teaser Trailer

2012 is going to be a huge year for films with a mixture of Oscar Friendly and Big-Budget Blockbusters to look forward to throughout the year. Therefore it is about this time, a year before most of the blockbusters grace our screen that the wave of teaser trailers amass in order to whet the appetites of film fans.  Just to make sure everyone is aware, a teaser trailer is a small glimpse into the film without giving much away. It could contain little to no footage of the actual film and is used to alert the viewer to anticipate more trailers and footage coming in the following months. Their ambiguity usually is discussed again and again on fan forums to try and get any lead about the movie. One of the best examples of this was the first trailer for Attack of the Clones. Although many were disappointed with The Phantom Menace this trailer made fans crazy as they predicted what everything meant and how the story was going to play out. So much so that people would pay their admission for a different film just to see the trailer and then leave. This is opposed to the theatrical trailer which is the more traditional trailer that would be seen at the cinema, they are about two or three minutes long and contain footage of the finished film in the order of a faint narrative to get people wanting to watch the film.

In the past few weeks there have been a few trailers to grace the cinema, internet and comic conventions. This includes The Dark Knight Rises which is a perfect example of a teaser trailer. There is not much footage from the film only giving a few glimpses at shots so that one could not acquire the narrative at this stage. These shots however are enough to garner excitement and anticipation.  People are aware from this that the film is coming and thereby preparing themselves for more footage. Another example of teasing the audience is with The Avengers advertising campaign. First, the only thing to come from the film was a picture of four chairs belonging to the superheroes of the movie. Next were a few pieces of artwork shown off at Comic-Con before a short trailer with no footage of the actual film. There is only a voiceover from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Avengers sign. Since Cloverfield wowed everybody with its marketing campaign and the advent of viral marketing, this teasing of the audience is usually how films are now advertised. A huge buzz is created through the snippets of information that is gathered before the theatrical trailer where fans can eventually see the film taking shape. The fact that at this stage there is usually very little footage available because the movies are still in production or need to go through post-production is why audiences can only be teased.

The point of all this trailer talk is that The Amazing Spiderman has gone against everything that its fellow superhero movies have done. As opposed to relinquishing small pieces of information every so often it has done what must be considered a theatrical trailer a almost a year before its release.  It is a very strange tactic from the marketing team behind Spiderman and could be deemed as giving away too much too early and killing any buzz for fans who like to debate rumours and different narrative possibilities. Everyone already knows that Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) will be spending most of the time through high school with Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) as his love interest. Everyone also knows that Rhys Ifans is Dr Curt Connors and therefore know the chief villain will be The Lizard. Everything seems to be revealed too early as opposed to the Avengers where nobody even knows who the villain is. Although the trailer looks good and there’s an excitement about what different approach they are going to take from Sam Raimi’s films having the trailer a year before just leaves audiences playing the waiting game and unless something amazing comes out of the future trailers people may be a little disappointed that everything was revealed so quickly.

A possible reason why they have realised this trailer earlier than expected is because of the previous very successful series of Spiderman films. Perhaps this trailer was made to  assure viewers that this is different and getting the dubious audience members early with an interesting glimpse into the new angle taken by director Marc Webb. Only time will tell whether playing your cards to your chest or showing all the footage you have will win at the box office. All the teasers so far are looking good so far and when the film is finally released if it is a good film everyone will forget the marketing campaign and enjoy it for what it is.