Out with the old X-Men, in with the new. Neither DC nor fully Marvel, the odd-duck X-Men cinematic franchise has been in the process of reinventing itself over the past couple installments by gradually integrating its past and present. I mean that literally — through a whole heap of time-travel tomfoolery, the original X-People we came to know during the original trilogy of films in the early ’00s have been commingled with the new generation of throwback X-Folks as shown in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse. The chronology can be a lot to swallow, and it’s about to get even more confusing: we may now have two Rogues.
Much online e-ink has been e-spilled over the question of which actor will take up the mantle of international superspy James Bond for the 25th installment of the perennial franchise. Will incumbent star Daniel Craig return for another go-round as 007, or will he be replaced by the likes of new challengers Tom Hiddleston, Dan Stevens, Emily Blunt, or Idris Elba? Who knows (not us), but as the mission to secure a star has been playing out, another big change-up has unfolded largely in the background.
Last summer, a spat allegedly broke out between Fast and Furious franchise megastars Vin Diesel and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson while shooting the latest installment The Fate of the Furious. There were rumors of unprofessionalism on set, Johnson threw around the term “candy-ass” pretty liberally, it was a hoot for all involved. But it did cast some doubt on Johnson’s future with the series; there was no telling whether the performer could be persuaded to return for another collaboration with a guy he seemingly couldn’t stand. But a new revelation today (well, new for all of you — Johnson and I are well-documented besties and have been Gchatting about this all week) clarifies the fate of this furious man.
While the post-credits scene was once a surprise specially afforded to those superfans with the dedication to sit through the final frames of a film, it’s now become par for the course, a de facto advertisement for whatever a franchise might have up its sleeve next. Marvel Studios has turned this into standard operating procedure, to the point where viewers expect nothing less than another tasty morsel of footage, the cinematic equivalent of the delicious fries waiting for you at the bottom of your McDonald’s bag. How to continue taking audiences off-guard, then? Marvel could do no post-credit scene at all, that’d certainly throw people for a loop. Or... they could do five.
Miss Bala was the toast of the Cannes Film Festival when it debuted in 2011. Critics heaped hosannas upon the taut thriller based on a real-life incident wherein a Mexican beauty queen was discovered in a truck with a crew of gang members and a shipment of munitions. With ruthless economy, the film detailed the process by which Laura Zuñíga was forced to cooperate with the narcos, eventually earning the nickname of Miss Bala (Spanish for “Miss Bullet,” a pun on the glamour pageant Miss Baja). Like Sicario but a few years ahead of schedule, Miss Bala depicted the south-of-the-border crime culture through the eyes of an unwilling participant. Unlike most drug-war dramas, it’s not defined by heroism or the drive for power — the movie’s fueled by one woman’s perpetual state of stunned terror.
When pals asked, “What was your favorite part of Rogue One?” and I responded, “The part at the end when they all died,” it sounded like a bitter joke. But it‘s true — the choice to take advantage of the film’s stand-alone nature by concluding with the cast’s noble, obliterating sacrifice was a bold and decisive storytelling choice that helped distinguish Gareth Evans’ film from the rest of the franchise. The characters meant more in death than they ever did while living, and the selflessness of their risky suicide mission attests to the power of the human spirit in wartime. But this was not always the game plan.
As an avowed walker and train-taker, I’m not much of a car guy, personally. But I know a thing or two — I can change a flat tire, correctly identify where jumper cables should be clamped, and I know enough that anyone who offers to sell you a ‘flux capacitor’ is having a laugh at your expense. The auto part was imagineered (a make-believe word for ‘invented’ that the folks at Disney originally imagineered) for Back to the Future, the all-important component that gives Marty McFly‘s Delorean the power to traverse time. And now, you too can attempt to flaunt the laws of metaphysics by souping out your ride of choice (imagine how a silent, time-traveling Prius would freak out people in the ’50s) with your very own flux capacitor.
It would appear that the likes of Deadpool and Logan, what with all their foul words and visible bloodletting and brief pegging interludes, have changed the game of superhero movies. It was once basic showbiz logic that a massively-budgeted capes-and-tights flick couldn‘t afford to go for the R rating and lose the portion of the audience that’d restrict. More minor one-off projects like Watchmen, Kick-Ass, and Kingsman could take that risk and repeatedly found that it paid off, but now mainstream heroes have adopted this more daring approach and met with attractive box-office receipts. And in keeping with their tried-and-true business strategy of doing everything Marvel does, but a year later, DC Films has no stated their intention to get into more mature material.
Ever since the now-infamous photo of Pennywise the evil homicidal clown peeking out of a drainpipe surfaced online, fans of Stephen King’s seminal horror novel It have been concerned about Seth Graeme-Smith‘s upcoming film adaptation. There was fair cause for worry, too; it looked as if light was coming from several different sources, like a hasty photoshop job one might find on the box art for some direct-to-DVD cash grab. The only person who could really set the It devotees at ease would be Stephen King, who has seen dozens upon dozens of his works make the jump to the silver screen. And it would appear that he’s now done just that.
The big headline from last night was Warren Beatty’s colossal goof during the Best Picture announcement, in which he erroneously named La La Land the winner of the coveted prize, only to be corrected not a minute later with the news that the award would actually go to Moonlight. It was a classic mix-up, a reminder of the high-wire instability of live television, and an instant entry for the Oscar history books. But there was a second, less glaring gaffe in the telecast, so subtle that it went by without most viewers noticing. But the Australian producer who watched herself declared dead in the In Memoriam segment certainly did.
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