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Mandela-Still

Nelson Mandela, a Nobel laureate and former president of the Republic of South Africa, is considered one of the greatest men in the history of mankind. Why? Because he had what it takes to be a hero. He had strength to spend twenty eight years in prison in a hopeless and noble struggle against the oppression. He had charisma to lead his people to the most thrilling victory of human history. He had faith to defy the government, the law, the unfairness. He had strength to fall and he was strong enough to rise again. He had once walked the longest walk to freedom.

The Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom trailer describes Mandela’s path in rebellion, his gradual gaining of power, fame and admiration of thousands of people. It tells the story of how he got put in prison for his dreams and aspirations. The Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom trailer tells a story of the largest triumph of a lifetime and of a history of a nation. It was completed in May 1994, when he became the first black president of South Africa. But this way was much longer than it might appear, and much harder than one could think. Countless amounts of people followed him and his ideas, the liberation campaign was organized, and the resistance failed. So the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom movie is not a biography or a historical drama. It is praise to person so great, that his greatness is matchless and his grace is indescribable. The Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom trailer illustrates, how this hero of democracy and gained worldwide eminence and became a symbol of the struggle against the racial discrimination and its apogee – the apartheid. Fame has made him a genuine legend with a halo of a martyr, who heroically spent dozens of years in the solitary confinement in prison on the Robben Island, where he worked on a limestone quarry and had a right to one visit and one letter for six months. In these inhuman conditions he never lost heart, never asked the minions of the law for mercy, not once. No, Nelson Mandela courageously and fearlessly stood on the protection of his dreams, on the protection of justice, on the protection of equality. He knew that human dignity and power of the human spirit are able to defeat all the conventionalities, any harassment and oppressions, and he has never been wrong.

The Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom trailer tells a story of love and forgiveness, of freedom and faith. The Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom movie embodies this story so juicy and so pure, that you can start to feel yourself to be a part of it.

Poster - Pacific RimI’ve always been confused by the popularity of Guillermo del Toro. Fanboys and girls have been nuts over his properties for years; yet, whenever I watch any of his films, I feel like I’ve been letdown. Why is that? Is it because of the hype, most of which he can’t control? Maybe. Is it because of his enthuasim for projects that, quite frankly, I have interest in? Possibly. Or is it because of the visual edge he always seems to bring to his project? Again, that’s a real possibility. However, save for Pan’s Labyrinth, I’ve always walked away from a del Toro film with a feeling of wanting more from this supposed creative genius.

So, when I found out about Pacific Rim and its concept — I was intrigued. Giant Robots vs Giant Monsters — what testosterone fueled man wouldn’t love that? Add to it a stellar cast (Charlie Day, Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Pearlman, etc) and a script from Travis Beacham (who wrote the great “Killing at Carnival Row” script that has yet to be made) and my expectations were heightened. This could be one of the most epic films ever made and I couldn’t wait for the experience. Needless to say, I wish I could have waited because what I saw was a letdown — a major letdown.

A weak story killed this movie. Aside from the epic fight scenes, there was no real story and no real characters. People went through the motions and at no point did I feel anything for any of the major characters except for the Asian lady. And, the only reason I felt anything for her was because the child actress playing her in a “drift” sequence (A flashback sequence, essentially) was so good as a terrified little girl that it was the only part that made me feel for any character, at their core. Raliegh’s (the lead guy) brother’s death at the beginning did not make me feel anything when it should have. There was also a distinct lack of females in this film and was surprised by it. Normally, it’s not a critique that I’d make but there was only one lead female in this ensemble. Although, I liked his performance, Clifton Collins Jr’s character could have easily been made into a female to add an extra shot of much needed estrogen into this picture. Hell, you didn’t have to change any lines for him, and could’ve gotten away with making his character a lesbian. Charlie Day stole the film and was the standout as a Kajiu loving scientist named Newt and he cemented his status as a bonafide movie star with his performance here.

Pacific Rim

The big selling point, the fights, were surprisingly hidden. What do I mean by this? Well, every major fighting sequence occurred at NIGHT. What? At night? What does that mean? Essentially – you never saw anything during the fights because the Kajiu and Jaegers were masked by the night. Now, I’m assuming this choice was made to cut down on the CGI costs but come on — when you know your final battle is going to be (SPOILER ALERT) AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN (/SPOILER) then you can set your second act fight during the day. Sure, there were glimpses of daytime fights, seen in a flashbacks, but those were only that — glimpses. Nothing longer then a few seconds here and there. The big battles — were all at night. A choice I HATED and did not understand from a purely story perspective.

There was also some very weird character choices made throughout this film along with some very obvious allegories being thrown in for good measure (like the fact that the governments decide to build giant walls to “keep the Kajiu’s out” ala the wall being proposed by the US to stop Mexican’s from hoping the border). I blame this on the writing and well, del Toro’s influence over the project. I have a feel he was behind all of these decision’s and Beacham was just following orders because he’s a good writer (as seen in glimpses in Pacific Rim).

At the end of the day, a weak story, hidden fights (again, why were all the major fights at night?!?), some weird character choices, and the lack of emotional connection to the story and characters caused Pacific Rim, sadly, to be a letdown. I wanted more because I thought there’d be more to love about this.

My recommendation? Wait for this to hit the dollar theaters then watch it. If not, wait for it to show up on Netflix.

**½

In Part 2 we took a look at possible Casting Choices for the Big Three, so now we are going to take a moment and make some suggestions for possible Casting Choices for the Supporting Heroes. Lets jump right in!

Green Lantern/Hal Jordan/John Stewart
The “Not Nathan Fillion” Choice: Warner Brothers are really in an interesting situation over this choice. Do they stick with Ryan Reynolds or do they write off the Green Lantern film and start afresh with a new Hal Jordan or even make the switch to John Stewart. Personally, I think they should stick with Reynolds. He was a decent Hal Jordan and Green Lantern. The film itself suffered from poor direction and a lack of a credible villain as well as other story problems. Give the character a better look in the film with an actual costume rather than the stupid CGI suit and I think it will be fine. If the WB does recast, you’ll see a lot of fanboys out there are screaming for the role to be given to Nathan Fillion. I think the time has come and gone for Fillion, and he said it himself that he is very busy now and I think Fillion has aged out of the role.

Another idea would be to move away from Hal Jordan and go to the John Stewart character, making him like he was in the animated series which worked so well. As far as casting I would love to see Idris Elba take the role. I know he’s part of the Marvel verse in Thor and Ghost Rider, but Reynolds was in the third Blade, Wolverine: Origins and still may play Deadpool in his own film. So it’s not a stretch to see someone portray characters in both Marvel and DC movies. Elba is just a phenomenal actor and I think he would be brilliant as John Stewart. One thing they could do is make the origin of Green Lantern an integral part of the film. He could even possibly help take charge of the league when they need it with his military background. If they decide to scrap Reynolds then I hope they consider this as an alternative.

The Flash/Barry Allen
The Breakout Choice: I think The Flash/Barry Allen character has the potential to be the breakout character of the film, just like HULK was in The Avengers. He could be the character where you could cast someone like Bradley Cooper in the role and by the time it comes to theatres, The audience would be so looking forward to seeing the big three that it’s actually The Flash that stands out the most. I would love that to happen because The Flash is a very undervalued character in the DC universe, but to me I love the character. I was always more of a Barry Allen fan than I was Wally West, but that never really mattered because they were always great stories to read. Warner Brothers seem to love Bradley Cooper so it would seem logical that they would want to get him into what will be one of their biggest productions to date. I think Cooper would be a great choice, as a lot of the new writing on The Flash has been really good. If they keep the Ryan Reynolds Hal Jordan, I could imagine seeing the pair of them stealing scenes and bringing a well needed light hearted tone to the action.

Another choice I could see Warner Brothers going for would be Armie Hammer. His stock is pretty high at the moment thanks to his breakout role in The Social Network and getting cast as the title character in The Lone Ranger opposite Johnny Depp. The same logic applies with Cooper that Warners would want to get him in the film. He has the look of Barry Allen and could do the job easily. Either way I would be happy if one of these guys were given the role.

Aquaman/Arthur Curry
The Surprising Bad Ass Choice: I think Aquaman here has the potential to change everyone’s perception of him. A lot of people underestimate his value and see him as just the guy who can talk to his fish. The potential for an Aquaman film series could be something similar to an underwater Star Wars. Along with the Flash, Aquaman could be another one of the breakout stars of the Justice League movie. As far as casting I could see them going with a semi unknown in the role which would be great. Someone like Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz would do well in the role. He could be similar to Cavill in the fact that he would essentially be stepping up to leading man status with this role. I don’t think that would happen here, but if it leads to his own franchise then certainly there.

If the powers that be at Warner Brothers go with someone more well known then I could picture Alexander Skarsgard getting the role. He has the right look and can easily play the bad ass role of the team. He is the breakout star from True Blood and has been getting some big screen exposure with his roles in Battleship, Disconnect, and the upcoming flick The East.

Well there you have it folks, my top picks for the heroes in the Justice League movie. Let’s hope we get some good news soon as to who will direct and who will be playing the various heroes. Let’s also hope that this is good news for DC Comics fans. Maybe they will finally be able to catch up to the huge head start that Marvel got on them. In two or three years time we’ll find out.

The Mid-Week Pit, Wolverine, Star Wars, Lost, Harry Potter, Action Movies

Right off the bat I have to post this image, the first of Chris Evans as Captain America (big thanks to Entertainment Weekly!):

Entertainment Weekly Captain America

I love the color and look of the uniform (for a full body shot of the CA stunt double, click here). Revealed in the article is that Evans signed a 6 picture deal with Marvel. Epic. Okay, lets move on with some other comic book movie news…

  • One thing I’m not digging, is changes to the X-Men universe. It was revealed that in the upcoming First Class, Mystique will be an insecure teenage girl who is hiding the fact that she is really a mutant. Something about that just feels off, than again I thought the character was underused and mishandled in both Singer’s and Ratner’s X-Men movies, so I shouldn’t be surprised here. Pictures also reveal James McAvoy as Charles Xavier with hair. I wasn’t sold on him originally, but with hair he feels like a completely different character. Are they going to reveal the mysterious origin of  Xavier’s baldness? Come on guys…
  • Staying with the Marvel Comics universe of movies, a lot of names have joined Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the direct sequel to the 2007 lackluster Mark Steven Johnson movie.  Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze and is joined by Christopher Lambert, Ciaran Hinds, Johnny Whitworth, Violante Placido, and Thor‘s Idris Elba.  Elba recently talked about having a multiple picture deal with Marvel, but I don’t think people expected a supporting role in the new Ghost Rider, personally I was hoping for Elba being cast as Luke Cage, but a lot more people want him as Black Panther. How many comic roles will Idris Elba need to take before he gets a real character? The film is being directed by the team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the guys who brought us the Crank series. That gives me a lot more hope than the first one that was directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who also directed the disappointing Daredevil flick.
  • Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film has a title! The Dark Knight Rises. Yeah, seriously, it is that bad. Nolan has also denied rumors that the Riddler will be featured in the film. Earlier he said no to Mr. Freeze, so we are slowly narrowing down the villain possibilities. This might be Nolan’s last Batman film, so I’m hoping for someone good (or a good combo of villains). Maybe Hugo Strange along with a couple “monster” types; Man-Bat, Clayface, or Killer Croc? They can continue the theme of the mob and give us Black Mask. Tom Hardy, who worked with Nolan on Inception, has been cast in an undisclosed role (maybe a villain?). We have until 2012 for the film, so we might not hear anything else anytime soon.
  • Darren Aronofsky will be directing X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2. (I think they can remove the “X-Men Origins” from the title, seriously guys) Aronofsky works best with a gritty realistic style, as used in The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream. His attempt at sci-fi in The Fountain fell a little flat. I want a really good Wolverine film, but I have zero faith after X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  I don’t think Fox will let a good movie happen and I don’t think Aronofsky should waste his time here.
  • Right on the heels of news that Mark Wahlberg may take the leading role in a remake of The Crow comes news that director Stephen Norrington is off the project. Norrington directed the original Blade for Marvel, and while a good film it was very flawed (especially the ending). Since Blade he has only directed two films, The Last Minute, which I’ve never heard of, and the horrible adaptation of the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I think The Crow might be better off without him.

Are you excited about the upcoming crop of comic book movies? What will you be seeing?