Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man

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There had been some speculation for a while that Robert Downey Jr. might not return to the iconic role of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, after the third film in the franchise and the massive paychecks Marvel has had to write for the guy, but it’s now been confirmed that RDJ will be stepping back into the role for the next two Avengers flicks.  Joss Whedon had gone on record to state that he wouldn’t make an Avengers 2 without RDJ as Tony Stark, so I guess that’s taken care of.  Yay.

Currently, there are no plans for a fourth Iron Man film, but given the huge success of the first three installments and the importance of the character in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see more Iron Man before the third Avengers.

 

Source:  IGN

300: Rise of an Empire trailer

It’s still a long way out, but this trailer for the upcoming sequel to Zack Snyder’s adaptation of 300 is looking every bit as entertaining as the first film.  300: Rise of an Empire is coming to cinemas March 7th next year.

Logan’s Run remake to be scripted by Ken Levine

Award winning game developer Ken Levine, known for his work on System Shock 2 and the Bioshock franchise, will be writing the script for the upcoming Logan’s Run remake.  The film, based on the 1967 book and 1976 film both titled Logan’s Run, is set in a dystopian future where people are executed after reaching a certain age (21 or 30 in the inspiring book and film respectively) to regulate the population and resources.  No release window has been given for the film yet, but it’s exciting to have such an established storyteller on board as the film’s screenwriter.

 

Source:  Deadline

Commentary: TRON

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I’m a huge fan of TRON.  The original film helped establish me in my geekdom.  I played and loved the no-longer-canon game TRON 2.0 and was excited to see more of the property.  I squealed with a childish enthusiasm when I saw the Comic-Con teaser for TR2N and was thrilled to hear that production on Legacy was moving forward after the huge reaction to that trailer.  I played TRON: Evolution, and loved it (if you need a reference, here’s my review–it’s on Examiner, so be warned).  I love TRON.

I started watching the animated series, TRON: Uprising, when it started airing, but ended up falling behind after the show went on hiatus.  I was thrilled, then, when I saw it pop up on Netflix–I had a good reason to start the show over and finally finish the first season.  While the next installment of the film franchise is moving forward (another point I’m thrilled about–especially since I’ve developed a huge appreciation for Kosinski’s style following Legacy and his most recent Oblivion), the future of the fantastic animated interquel (set between Evolution and Legacy) remains uncertain.  It’s kinda sad.

TRONUprisingUprising didn’t really reach a huge audience.  As far as American animations go, there’s really little else I can think of that can compare with Tron: Uprising in terms of style and story.  It’s filled with social and political commentaries that are intended for older audiences and is, at times, pretty dark.  It’s not inappropriate for children, but it’s a show that’s certainly geared toward more mature audiences with many of its finer points being easily lost on the young.  Maybe that’s the show’s problem?  It’s a Disney cartoon that feels nothing like a Disney cartoon.  Kids and people unfamiliar with the property might not take an interest in the show because it is a little more “grown up” than what they’re looking for in a cartoon.  Meanwhile, adults might feel compelled to avoid watching a Disney cartoon–especially one so serious.  It’s a fantastic show, but its downfall might be being an animated show carrying the Disney label.

I’m still a few episodes away from finishing the first season, so I don’t know how it ends, but I feel pretty certain that it leaves the viewer with multiple unanswered questions.  What happens to those questions if the show doesn’t move forward?  They could answer them in the next film, I suppose, but that would feel like a cheap and unsatisfactory solution for fans of the show.  There’s a lot of complexity in the show and with hours of buildup; finishing it off in a flashback of some kind would lessen the impact of the storytelling.

Going back to Evolution, if the show doesn’t continue past its first season, I could see it doing really well as a game–one that’s not tied down to a film’s release.  As I said in my review of Evolution, the game had the stigma of being a movie-licensed title.  While a game based on and continuing the story of Uprising would still have the branding, if it weren’t released around the time of the next film and were marketed as a standalone property, I think it would do a lot better.  There are several successful gaming properties based on existing IPs and film franchises; most notably would probably be Star WarsTRON as an IP, I feel, has what it takes to exist beyond one medium, and gaming is the perfect medium for the franchise to expand.

AbraxasPlaying Evolution, I really enjoyed the Prince of Persia inspired platforming and the combat was fluid, fast-paced, and fun.  I thought, though, that the world could use more fleshing out.  Tron City is a huge place just begging to be explored, but the game confines you to linear levels that restrict your exploration of the game’s world.  It’s still a beautiful game with some great level design, but it’s disappointing to not be able to really experience the world of the Grid.  If we were to get a game based on Uprising with a free-roaming Argon City similar to maybe the new Batman games or a BioWare game, that would be incredible.  I could really see a Mass Effect styled TRON game with PoP platforming and combat being an incredible experience.  Throw in some non-linear storytelling and you may well never hear from me again.

Its doubtful that Disney would do something like that, but I honestly don’t understand why we haven’t seen more TRON in games.  The world is set within a computer system with programs being participants in games.  It’s just begging to let players explore it in an interactive medium.  I’d love to see more of the Grid in a game and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

There’s really little point to this article beyond my wishful musings on a property I love.  The future of the property is in Disney’s hands, but it’d be nice if they’d listen to the fans and give us what we want; we’re the ones who have made the franchise the modest success that it’s become and we’re the ones the future successes of the franchise depends on.  Make the fans happy, and we’ll make you happy Disney.  Give us some more quality content.  Please?

 

For the Users.

Prometheus 2 in the works

Prometheus

It’s not really a surprise that a sequel to Prometheus is in pre-production given that Prometheus was intended as the first installment of a trilogy.  Still, it’s nice to see that the story will continue.  Ridley Scott will be returning as director with the script being penned by Jack Paglen.  Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender are expected to reprise their roles.

While I’ve seen and heard a lot of negative comments about the film, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to what’s coming next.  Most complaints I’ve heard were centered on all the loose ends and unanswered questions that Prometheus left viewers with; I didn’t really understand the validity of these complaints since Prometheus wasn’t intended as a one-off.  Hopefully unsatisfied viewers will find what they’re looking for with the upcoming sequel.

 

Source:  IGN

Man of Steel review

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I’m not going to lie.  This new Superman flick helmed by Zack Snyder and produced by Dark Knight Trilogy director Christopher Nolan was my most anticipated movie of this year.  I’ve been a fan of Snyder’s work since his debut film Dawn of the Dead and his comic book adaptations have been nothing short of marvelous.  I even have a soft spot for Sucker Punch despite all the critical hate for the film (though it’s understandable that people wouldn’t like the PG-13 theatrical cut as some of the film’s finest scenes, including the ending, are missing from that version).  So, when I heard that the man who brought Watchmen to the big screen was behind the latest Superman film, I couldn’t help but be excited.  Did the film live up to my expectations?

To answer that, I suppose I’ll have to let you know what I was expecting from this new feature.  With Christopher Nolan being the film’s producer, I was expecting something grittier and more bound to the real world than past Superman films.  While I certainly enjoy the Kryptonian’s past film outings (excepting Superman III and Quest for Peace), they’re enjoyable on different merits than what I want from a rebooted franchise.  I didn’t want a brightly colored cotton suit this time around; I wanted something that felt alien and powerful.  Man of Steel delivers on that count.  Superman’s new outfit is more than just a red and blue costume used to identify the character, it’s a suit of armour bearing his family crest—a symbol of hope.  He appears as more than just a guy parading in pajamas beating up bad guys; he’s a warrior from another world and our last hope for survival.  Superman in Man of Steel truly appears super.

JorEl

The films narrative is not its strongest point, but it’s an origin story that we are all familiar with, but with the universe retooled for a darker, grittier tale it’s a necessary evil.  The only problem with this is things feel too condensed.  The Krypton we see in Man of Steel is unlike any other version of it we’ve seen on film.  Russell Crowe as Jor-El is fantastic and I would have loved if they spent a little more time leading into the destruction of Krypton.  The world truly felt alien even with the sociopolitical commentaries peppered in the prologue and I wanted to see more of that alien culture.  Expanding the film’s prologue would have given a greater sense of loss, I think, than the simple “this is Krypton and it’s dying” story that we’re given.  But, as the movie presses on, it’s understandable that they condensed some things as the film’s runtime is 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Not the longest film, but summer audiences don’t always want to spend three hours crammed in theatre seats.  Still, I would love to see more exposition in certain areas and am holding to hope that a director’s cut of the film will address this issue for me.

ZodMan of Steel is, in its entirety, an origin story.  The whole 143 minutes of the film are dedicated to the birth of Superman.  There’s usually a point midway through most initial superhero flicks where the origin story ends and a new episode arises with the already evolved character practicing his heroics until confronted by the ultimate enemy (who is also generally introduced at this midway point).  Man of Steel is non-traditional, then, as the entire movie focuses on the evolution of Kal-El.  General Zod, the film’s warmongering villain portrayed by the wonderfully maniacal Michael Shannon, is there from the beginning with the sole purpose of defending Krypton.  This may sound like a noble intention, but his means are anything but.

The evolution of Kal-El, or Clark Kent to us Earthlings, is paralleled in the “present day” by flashbacks to his past.  His relationship with his adoptive father and the sacrifices that were required of him in order to keep his identity secret.  Clark is, in Man of Steel, a tragic hero.  His heroics and willingness to do anything to protect the human race after everything he’s endured is made incredible and just one more thing that makes this Man of Steel even more super.

SupermanHenry Cavill as Clark Kent fills the role nicely.  He’s a quieter Clark than Christopher Reeve or Brandon Routh and one that really does feel more like the tragic hero that this reboot is trying to present.  He’s a man that is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and, later, the loss of his entire race.  He’s a more stoic Clark and, while fans of the bumbling and insecure Clark of days past might be disappointed, it fits really well.  When he dons the suit, though, he is Superman.  Adamant that he’s on our side and willing to protect us even when we view him as a threat, this Superman is just as much a boy scout, without being quite as cheesy, as Supermen past.

The rest of the cast is pretty excellent as well.  I really wish Russell Crowe would have had more screen time because his Jor-El in the movie’s opening is a character I’d like to get to know better.  Though Kal-El’s Earth father, Jonathan Kent, is pretty fantastic as well.  Kevin Costner brings a level of sympathetic humanity to the role that I didn’t really expect to see in a comic book movie.  I looked forward to his screen time as it was sure to tug at my heartstrings and ground the movie in more than just explosions and heroics.  He gave the movie heart and one hell of a performance.

I was also a fan of Amy Adams’ Lois Lane.  A much more gutsy and in-your-face reporter than the damsel in distress we’ve seen in past movies.  It was great seeing the relationship between Superman and Lois begins in a way that didn’t feel forced or contrived.  There’s a connection between the two that is forged in more than just coincidence and the dialogue between Superman and Lois emphasizes her as his link to humanity beyond his adoptive parents.

Lois Action abounds in Man of Steel as well.  Summer blockbuster fans will not be disappointed as with all the grittiness and newfound emotion of this Superman reboot, there’s still plenty of over-the-top action.  The better part of the film’s last half hour is just ridiculous with fast-paced, superpowered fights and cutting-edge special effects that, for the most part, look great.  There are times where you can see the obvious CG and it brings you down to let you know you’re still watching a movie, but most times you’ll be too busy enjoying the explosive carnage to really care.

It’s a new Superman for a new generation and this Man of Steel will certainly entertain.  While it does have its flaws, mostly rooted in trying to tell too much story in 143 minutes, it’s ridiculously entertaining and heartfelt.  I walked out of the cinema beyond pleased with my experience—one I’ll gladly sit through again.  Man of Steel isn’t perfect, but it can certainly stand proudly alongside the greats of superhero cinema.  I heartily recommend checking out this super-powered cinematic treat.

Man of Steel4.5 out of 5

 

First Desolation of Smaug trailer

Take a break from all the exciting news pouring out of E3 (Lord knows I’ve been unable to keep up with it all between work and life and stuff) and enjoy this exciting first look at the next Hobbit movie:

Star Wars Battlefront

At their E3 conference, EA brought DICE out to tease us all with the much desired third installment in the Star Wars Battlefront franchise.  The teaser shows little more than snowspeeder and the foot of an Imperial Walker, but, hey, it’s exciting news!