Nightcrawler Will Not Return for X-Men Days of Future Past

thBAMF

That was the sound my brother just made as he burst into flames.  The favorite X-Man of his and many others will not be returning after all in X-Men Days of Future Past.  Alan Cumming smelt Bret Ratner all over X-Men 3 and rightly teleported out of the cast, and there had been a lot of rumors that he would be back with Bryan Singer, but he will not return.  So that just leaves…virtually everyone in Hollywood.  The cast of this movie is now so large that future reports will detail who is NOT in it (Benedict Cumberbatch….probably).

Cumberbatch Confirms Sherlock Season 4

Oh you just got Cumberbatched
Oh you just got Cumberbatched

Just as shooting is beginning on the third season of Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch has confirmed there will also be a fourth.  He’s contractually obligated for three and four and says he’d love the series continue past that if co-star Martin Freeman and creator Stephen Moffat are also on-board.

Now, if you find yourself in the awkward position of not understanding why Benedict Cumberbatch (who has the greatest name bestowed on a human since former UN Secretary General Boutrous Boutrous Ghali) and Sherlock are a big deal, let’s straighten this out.  Sherlock is good.  Sherlock is so good that if you have not live streamed it on Netflix and/or purchased it by the time you finish reading this sentence, I will be personally offended.  For my money, it is the greatest adaptation of any kind of Doyle’s characters ever.  I’ve read them all and I’ve seen a lot of adaptations so if you want to go on that….we can throw down.

By the end of the year, Benedict Cumberbatch will own the world as he is not only the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness but playing both the Necromancer and Smaug in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.  So go.  Watch it.  NOW!

Disney Cancels Star Wars Clone Wars

swc

Season five of Star Wars Clone Wars will be its last as today Disney announced it was pulling the plug on the animated program that runs on The Cartoon Network.  They did announce plans for another animated series in development that will explore a part of the Star Wars universe that has never before been examined.

This is the first thing Disney has done since taking over the franchise that has completely bummed me out.  After extreme early skepticism, Clone Wars won me over and it’s built such an amazing series of arcs that I can’t imagine they’ll be able to complete what they intended.  The fifth season is mostly over and animation works so far ahead that I’m sure they’re already scripted out through the season’s close.  Initially, it was thought the series would just move to Disney’s cartoon network XD, but canceling it altogether surprises me.  It’s been the only good thing about the franchise in recent years.  Boo!

Movie Review: OZ: The Great and Powerful (2013)

"Aren't you the great man we've been waiting for?"
“Aren’t you the great man we’ve been waiting for?”

What you take away from OZ: The Great and Powerful (hereafter referred to as simply OZ for the sake of carpal tunnel syndrome), is in large part tied to what you bring to it.  If you go in expecting the 1939 movie.  You’re going to be really disappointed.  If you go in expected a fantasy classic on the level of Lord of the Rings or the first Narnia film, you’re going to be really disappointed.  If you just wanted to see OZ again and have a good time or-probably best of all for younger viewers-have no reference to this amazing world, you’re going to have a really good time.

OZ is the story of how the wizard who rules OZ came to find himself in that position.  Over the course of the film OZ morphs from a womanizing carny to a ruler (as much as the wizard ever really does rule OZ).  This character transformation comes from his interactions with OZ’s citizens: most notably three witches played by Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz.  The film pays homage to the classic while never detracting or cheapening it.  In fact, the motivations given to the Wicked Witch of the West especially give her a much more believable and powerful motive for her hate than say Wicked does.  Not a Wicked fan. 

The effects, cinematography, art direction and costumes are spectacular.  It is a stunningly beautiful film.  The Emerald City is as you’ve always imagined it and more.  I absolutely loved how they mirrored the 1939 film by beginning in black and white and so subtly (much more so than in the trailer where they showed way too much) becoming an explosion of color and wonder as we move from Kansas to OZ.

I can’t talk too much about how good the witches are without spoiling a very clever, very tragic plot point that I thought was the film’s best moment.  Suffice it to say, you end up with a Wicked Witch with the chops and the incentive to visit havoc on OZ for sequels to come.  OZ assembles his own band of misfits as Dororthy does in the first film.  There are many parallels to be found between them, but I didn’t feel any of them were too heavy-handed.

A film this gets compared to a lot is the Alice in Wonderland film Tim Burton did several years ago.  Without reviewing that film, let’s just say there’s no futterwacking moment (sounds like a filthy German word) that tanks the entire film.  I did like the movie very much.  I’m glad they’re making more and that it’s doing so well.  I hope it inspires kids to discover the Baum novels.  I did not; however, love it for really two reasons.

The score.  I’m a movie score snob.  I’ve been listening to film scores since I had functioning ears and the music of movies makes up roughly 70% of my iPod.  Danny Elfman did the score for this and Danny Elfman is getting lazy.  Not James Horner-level lazy (don’t start me on Horner; he makes me angrier than the national debt), but whereas once Elfman had a unique voice that turned out classics like Batman, Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish; he essentially took his score for Alice and removed the chorus.  It’s bland and for a place as fantastic as OZ, you need grand and wondrous music that I don’t think Elfman can write any more.  But that’s not my biggest problem.

James Franco was miscast.  Robert Downey Jr. was originally playing the Wizard (which would have been perfect) but left over differences with Raimi.  Franco is not a suitable replacement.  I don’t think he can act.  I think he plays James Franco in everything he’s in, only modulating the level of stoner that shines through.  He’s hammy, utterly without charm and unconvincing.  That’s kind of  big problem when your movie is about his character.

It’s absolutely worth seeing and, for what it’s worth, I had the most problems of anyone in my group that did go.  It IS OZ.  It’s nice to see it again.  I look forward to returning and I hope they smooth out some of the Franco-sized issues.  Sam Raimi has said he will not return to direct so it’ll be interesting what comes next.

(7.75/10.0)

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