Five minutes into “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” (2011), it’s clear that this is a better movie than “Ghost Rider” (2007). A great car-and-motorcycle chase through the hills of Eastern Europe (where the film is shot) ends with Moreau (Idris Elba, doing a Marvel twofer that year with “Thor”) flying through the air over the side of a cliff, but delivering bullets to the enemy’s tires while falling to his apparent demise.
Working from a screenplay by returning writer David S. Goyer, Guillermo del Toro probably didn’t know it at the time, but he directs “Blade II” (2002) as a trial run for “The Strain,” his 2014-17 TV series. The creature effects are strikingly similar across both projects, namely the next strain of vampires. In “Blade II,” their human mouths open “Predator”-style, and in “The Strain,” they reveal tubes that can strike from a distance — “Alien”-style, to the extreme.
It’s perhaps strange that “Blade” (1998) became the first successful big-screen enterprise for Marvel Comics, considering that he’s not one of the A-list superheroes, and the saga’s blood and violence target a niche audience rather than a mass audience. On the other hand, similar to how Marvel tested the waters with “The Punisher” (1989), it makes sense to start cautiously before launching A-listers like the X-Men (who hit cinemas in 2000).
With “Shazam!” – the superhero answer to “Big,” starring Zachary Levi – hitting theaters April 5 and “Aquaman” available for rental March 26, it’s a good time to look back at the DC Extended Universe as it stands so far. While I admit the DCEU can’t hold a candle to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which again owns the superhero calendar with three 2019 films, or even the in-flux X-Men Universe, I’m probably in the role of DCEU apologist in most conversations about superhero movies.
With “Gotham” returning for its final season this month, I’m looking back at past “Batman” projects from the perspective of someone who enjoyed “The Animated Series” as a kid and now enjoys “Gotham.” Next up is “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012).
With “Gotham” returning for its final season this month, I’m looking back at past “Batman” projects from the perspective of someone who enjoyed “The Animated Series” as a kid and now enjoys “Gotham.” Next up is “The Dark Knight” (2008).
With “Gotham” returning for its final season this month, I’m looking back at past “Batman” projects from the perspective of someone who enjoyed “The Animated Series” as a kid and now enjoys “Gotham.” Next up is “Batman Begins” (2005).
Dark City” (1998) perhaps came out just before the window when it would’ve been a mainstream smash, since “The Matrix” achieved that status one year later. But it has always had cult appeal, starting with Roger Ebert’s famous championing of the film; it was his No. 1 pick for 1998, one of only two sci-fi pictures to earn that honor from him (2002’s “Minority Report” is the other).
If you watched the opening segment of “Superman: The Movie” (or “Man of Steel”) on Krypton (or Krypt’n, as Marlon Brando would say) and weren’t among the 95 percent of the audience thinking “C’mon, just get to the Superman part,” “Krypton” (10 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays on Syfy) is for you. The latest “Superman” project luxuriates in the ice planet, the peasant-class underground and the brutal maneuverings within the sparse governmental palace corridors – all while teasing a Superman connection that’s much further away than in the aforementioned films.
Now a franchise of five films with the addition of “Justice League” this week, the DC Extended Universe launched in 2013 with “Man of Steel.” Written by the Dark Knight Trilogy’s David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan and directed by “Watchmen’s” Zack Snyder, “Man of Steel” attempts to balance everything we love about Superman with a fresh examination of his character and place in the world. Every subsequent DCEU film – despite having a variety of writers and directors — has followed that formula, to varying degrees of success. Here are three things that have become trademarks of the saga, for better or worse: