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The Force Frustrations: Working Through The Disappointments of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Matt and Jared, both Star Wars fans very much excited for The Last Jedi, reckon with their overall mixed response to the film.

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I’m going to keep this brief, because so much of what will eventually come from our coverage on The Last Jedi won’t be. But to just quickly give an introduction to what you will (at the very least) start reading — last night I got the chance to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It was one of my most anticipated entertainment milestones of 2017, and I went into the movie with extreme excitement for what I was going to watch. I was a big fan of The Force Awakens, and couldn’t wait to see what would become of the characters I so quickly fell in love with, and the story that, while far from perfect, had me very much interested in the future of this saga.

Some two-and-a-half-hours later, I walked out of the theater just feeling sad — I was not a fan of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And, if we’re being completely honest here, that kind of broke my heart. Hoping to work out why my reaction to the film was so negative, I turned to the internet, and fellow Freshly Popped Culture contributor Jared Russo. Jared and I are both big Star Wars fans and, as I quickly realized through our conversation, he too had his fair share of problems with the movie. So we did the only thing we could do: we talked it the fuck out.

Below is a chat between Jared and I, built off of a Twitter DM feed we bounced around in for about a dozen hours. The opinions we shared were still very much raw and fresh (we both had only seen the film mere hours before), and more refined thoughts will hopefully hit the website in the coming days. But, for now, here’s our initial reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Beware, this is a COMPLETELY SPOILER FILLED conversation, so really don’t read it until after you see the film. Also, all tweets and links embedded in the article were also inserted into the chat itself, just for clarity’s sake. In any case, enjoy. Or, at the very least, bask in our bafflement that was so much of The Last Jedi.


Matthew: 🙁

Jared: I’m more positive, but I’m also conflicted. Like Kylo Ren.

Matthew: Was Kylo Ren conflicted? I couldn’t tell the 50 times it was told to me. I still enjoyed a good amount of the movie, but the things I didn’t enjoy I REALLY didn’t enjoy. But we’ve gone over my weird distaste for Rian Johnson, so maybe this was inevitable. I really hoped this would be the one to turn it around though…

Jared: I think this is the worst thing he’s done, but you’re nuts for not liking his other work.

Matthew: I liked (though didn’t love) Brick! And “Ozymandias” is perfection, I’ll give him that. But The Brothers Bloom and Looper left me super cold, with Looper especially reminding me so much of this one (in that it had so much potential, but squanders it the more it goes along.) Ultimately, did you like this one than The Force Awakens? Or are you still trying to think through it? Both film’s had lots of issues, but I don’t think there was anything nearly as disappointing in The Force Awaken than in The Last Jedi.

Jared: I have to see The Last Jedi again to tell you, it’s tone and structure is so weird that it left me more conflicted than anything.

Matthew: Being someone who just ranted with friends for four hours about all the disappointing things that happened in it, my choice is pretty clear. But there is a lot to parse through, that’s true.

Jared: Wait, you have friends? ZING.

Matthew: Ouch, you got me there.

Jared: I will say this: I am still confounded by it and, definitely need to see it again, I can’t get the movie out of my head, which are words I never thought I would say about a Star Wars movie, to be fair.

Matthew: I’ll agree with that. I’ve been thinking and writing and talking about it for hours.

Jared: The movie ends up just feeling like a big fever dream, really.

Matthew: It’s just so…much. And the fact that both film’s take place in, like, two weeks MAX is nuts. It’s weird they don’t give any time for the action of this movie to breath. It leaves you overwhelmed, in ways both good and bad.

Jared: Maybe on the second viewing I’ll have a better grip on it and get over some stuff I was wondering about. Like how did everyone find out her parents were nobodies? How would Kylo Ren possibly know that information.

Matthew: …The Force?

Jared: This movie kind of broke every rule of the Force, and just made up all sorts of things about it which often just made my theater laugh.

Matthew: Although that was one decision I loved! If you read through my previous article, you would know I was rooting for that. Makes her character arc better, even if other things in this film made it worse in certain ways or, at the very least, didn’t give it the time of day it deserved. And speaking of things that made people laugh…OMG, THE FLOATING LEIA SCENE.

Jared: Yeah, that and everyone kept yelling “KISS!” at the Kylo and Rey scenes.

Matthew: Boy, the sexualization that people feel for those two is..something. The internet especially is adding a weird romantic current to this movie that I for one just want to roll my eyes at. Anywho, my theater mostly just clapped. AT EVERYTHING.

Jared: Mine too.

Matthew: But then they clapped at Luke revealing himself as a Force Projection (a little bit silly development, I might add), and immediately let out frustrated groans when he died 30 seconds later. I laughed so hard.

And speaking of kissing from earlier, that last Rose/Finn scene sucked, right? So much unearned with that character/relationship.

Jared: Everything that Rose said before she died was hokey, and simply did not work.

http://freshlypoppedculture.com/e1yx

The more I read about this movie, the more I dislike it, and I hate both myself and the internet for making me feel that way.

https://t.co/2CtsarqWzE

Matthew: That was me just thinking about it, really. And I am STUNNED at people calling it the best one, or whatever. For whatever it does right, it’s such a flawed movie, even just fundamentally. Ton of things that just don’t add up, or for whatever reason just doesn’t work.

Jared: Regardless, nothing touches those first two and nothing ever will. Return of the Jedi is the third best — don’t @ me.

Matthew: Revenge of the Sith is the third best. And DO @ me, cause I’ll defend that film and it’s stuffy ass self any day.

Jared: You’re insane.

Matthew: Also, working on a list about film’s problems. this what I got so far:

  • The Finn Rose Romance Is Awful
  • What was even the point of their story
  • Everyone fails, which gets kind of annoying
  • Snoke Meant Nothing, So Cool I Guess
  • Poe’s plot fizzles
  • Leia force flight, yuck
  • Luke’s death is unnecessary
  • Phasma death is a goddamn waste
  • Benicio del Toro is useless
  • That casino scene entirely is useless
  • Yoda scene is weird
  • It rushed as fuck, with the entire film being like two days max
  • The backstory still makes no sense, and no effort is made to illuminate ANYTHING at all about The Force Order, Knights of Ren, etc.
  • Snoke powers are hella inconsistent

Anything else you think I missed?

Jared: I don’t know, I don’t think Luke’s death wasn’t unnecessary, and BB-8 got shit done.

Matthew: BB8 was, no joke, the highlight of the film for me. He was great the whole way through.

Jared: Yeah, so he wasn’t a failure at least.

Matthew: Obvious hyperbole on notes I’ve merely jotted down. And, if you want to be technical, he was on the Finn/Rose mission, which failed horribly. But he definitely was the only one trying his best there!

Jared: He is really on pace to out-do R2 at this point, which is nuts to me. Also, more Poe, please. Everyone, just make him the leader of the rebels.

Matthew: To be fair, R2 has been given shit to do in these last two movies. His scene with Luke in this one was a high point, though. That “Binary Sunset/The Hologram” just works, man.

Jared: What was Luke’s third lesson? We only get to see two of them. Why was that a thing that dropped off? His second lesson was basically one big long rant anyways.

Matthew: I really wish they did more with Luke and Rey. It also sucks that Luke dies without ever reconciling with her. Their last scene they share is their big fight.

Jared: They could have done more with Rey in general, like I thought she would be trained to lift his x-wing out of the water ala Empire Strikes Back, but she just goes and lifts the rocks with no problem at all. There was no struggle in her training with the force. And Kylo Ren killed both Han fucking Solo and his master, like I have a lot of problems with him as a character…but Jesus, Adam Driver is the best actor in all these movies so far.

Matthew: They are all really good actors, and deserved more here IMHO. Mark Hamill especially really brought it big time.

Jared: A lot of the humor was very modern internet jokey stuff that like doesn’t fit with the other movies too, which bothered me.

Matthew: I was okay with the humor. I thought the first scene with Poe and Hux was really funny, and fit Poe’s character to that point.

Jared: And as much as Rian Johnson pushed his direction forward for the franchise, it’s lack of traditional feeling makes the whole thing so off for me, like I’m still wrapping my head around his blending of styles. I really need a second viewing.

Matthew: Yeah, I’ll be seeing it again, even if I disliked it the first time. But my problem is not only that it is a weird Star Wars movie, but it also is just a really shitty sequel to The Force Awakens. To people who didn’t like that movie, I’m sure that’s a pro. But everything Johnson did seemed to be spitting in the Face of what Abrams was setting up. Part of me wonders if Abrams agreed to come back NOT because Johnson made him excited about the trilogy, but because he was hoping to right the ship again on the story he set up. Then again, I feel like Abrams maybe didn’t have plans for the overarching story to begin with, which might speak more to the failures of the trilogy itself rather than just The Last Jedi.

Jared: I read in interviews J.J was so jealous of his script and was like “Damn, I gotta get back in there.” But listening to the score alone, this movie is aces compared to Force Awakens. John Williams, please be immortal for all of us.

This is the best summation of things so far, I think.

Matthew: On a completely nitpicky level, where the fuck did The First Order get the AT-AT’s they were using on the salt planet? Their fleet was decimated, and their main ship destroyed. Where did all the additional firepower come from? The vagueness surrounding everything to do with The First Order and the Knights of Ren was tough in TFA, but this was Johnson’s chance to provide some actual context for the group. instead, just left me even more confused about how powerful they are. The vagueness surrounding everything to do with The First Order and the Knights of Ren was tough in The Force Awakens, but this was Johnson’s chance to provide some actual context for the group. Instead, just left me even more confused about how powerful they are. It’s two movies in, and I still don’t know WTF even are The Knights of Ren. Are there others out there? Is it just Kylo now? What about the other lightsaber dude’s we saw with Kylo during the flashback in TFA? UGH, TOO MANY QUESTIONS FOR A TRILOGY WRAPPING UP IN ONE MORE INSTALLMENT.

Jared: I think I might be over Star Wars for a while. This should have been a home run for us, and it wasn’t and now I’m disappointed and underwhelmed by this entire thing. Things like Luke’s whole shoulder brush thing? It was just too much for me, man. You know what?

You should re-type this whole thing up and post it on the website.

Matthew: I’m using a lot of this to work out my thoughts for a bigger article. It’s been helpful — if there’s anything you can say about The Last Jedi, it’s that it lefts a lot to be talked about.

Jared: Just post this entire conversation cleaned up. #content.

Matthew: I might, I’ll go and think about it. Maybe post it as two Star Wars fans making the horrible realization they were disappointed by a movie they really expected to love?

Jared: Do it.

Matthew: And I will.

Porgs are still great. I will not disperage the porgs.

And I did. Stay tuned for more of our thoughts on The Last Jedi in the days ahead. Like I said, there is a lot to break down here, and this was very much just the start of it.


Also published on Medium.

Matthew Legarreta is the Editor and Owner of Freshly Popped Culture. A big ol' ball of movie, TV, and video game loving flesh, Matthew has been writing about pop culture for nearly a decade. Matthew also loves writing about himself in the third person, because it makes him feel important (or something.)

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10 Years Later, Cloverfield Remains The Pinnacle of Found Footage Films

There’s been a lot of found footage films. But none of them can equal the scale and ambition of Matt Reeves’ monster movie masterpiece.

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There could be a bit of recency bias in my recollection here but, for me, there might be no more important year in the history of 21st Century film than 2008. There’s a few reasons for that, most of which I will discuss in the months ahead (let’s just say it was a big year for superhero movies, and leave it at that for now.) But when it comes to notable film’s celebrating their 10th Anniversary, one film in particular instantly sticks out to me: Cloverfield. And the reason why is two-fold — not only is the film’s release date extremely memorable (it was going by the title 1-18-08 for the longest time, after all), but the film itself has been one I’ve been thinking about quite a bit in the decade since.

Sure, there might be other films in 2008 that had a larger impact on the world and on cinema, but for me, at least? Cloverfield remains an absolute marvel of a film, a technically brilliant disaster film that not only defined a format, but pretty much give it a kick in the pants the moment it needed it the most. Since Cloverfield we have had many, MANY found footage films, but none have had the initial impact that Cloverfield had for me. And with the film turning ten today, I thought it would be the perfect time to reevaluate its mertis. After so many years, and what feels like a lifetimes worth of other movie releases, would Cloverfield be able to elicit quite the same response? For me at least, the answer is a clear yes. Cloverfield is a film that left me absolutely gobsmacked the first time I saw it and, revisiting it 10 years later, still leaves me rather breathless.

And, for me at least, that euphoria all comes from the result of some absolutely stellar filmmaking. At the time, it was rather shocking just how well made Cloverfield was: nothing about the shaky cam footage and blurry visuals looked like they would amount to much, at least from what the vague trailers showed us. But, now, it’s far easier to see just how technically proficient this film is. Hindsight is 20-20, but also having a grasp on who’s behind the camera helps you appreciate the artistry on display much more.

That man here is of course Matt Reeves, who made his directorial debut with Cloverfield. Reeves would go on to make two of the best blockbusters ever made (IMHO, but it really should just be considered a fact at this point) with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes, but right from the get-go he proved himself an able craftsman with Cloverfield. While the film bares resemblances to both its found footage forefathers AND later successors (think The Blair Witch Project, Chronicle, and Paranormal Activity), it’s clear from the get-go that Cloverfield is working on an entirely different scale altogether. This is a film packed to the brim with huge special effects, crazy monster designs, and the literal destruction of New York City in the span of a half dozen hours. Paranormal Activity, by comparison, is about a bedroom.

None of which is to belittle other films in the found footage genre: I happen to be a fan of the conceit, generally. But, man, none of them have been able to push my buttons in the way that Cloverfield did. It was a revelation, and one that only got better and better as it spun out into grander territory. Even with the intense viral marketing and captivating trailer, I was not prepared for the ride that I initially went on with Cloverfield. And I was far from the only one — remember all the reports of the people getting sick in the theater, becoming disoriented and dizzy by the action unfolding onscreen? That’s purposeful, and though I’m sure those who experienced it would probably disagree with me, very much one of the film’s strong suits. On the surface, it’s a mere monster movie. But the way that the film tells its stories turns it into a powerful, disorienting, enthralling thrill ride.

Cloverfield

The shot of the beheaded Statue of Liberty is ICONIC, and for very good reason.

Which is kind of the point anyways, right? The whole reason found footage exists as a genre is to give viewers a rawer, more visceral experience. Take away the excesses of traditional film techniques, and you also separate the barrier between what appears fake…and what doesn’t. You end up taking away people’s perception of it “just being a movie,” to the point that they too might really be convinced that a witch killed some kids in the forests of Maryland.

Now, obviously, the same can’t really be said of Cloverfield. No one was going to get fooled into thinking the events of this film actually happened, unless they just happened to chose the film as their first bit of entertainment after coming out of a twenty-year long coma. But the fact that it feels so real despite that is what makes Cloverfield so magical: through the use of its found footage conceit, it strips away the artifice of the standard disaster movie template, and creates something far more horrifying and powerful in the process. The found footage element of Cloverfield isn’t just some gimmick to make the movie stand out amongst other monster movies — it’s essential to what the film is trying to accomplish and, ultimately, what it is trying to say about the very nature of the genre.

While it would be incorrect to say Cloverfield is the most “realistic” monster movie for this reason, I would argue that it makes it the most down to Earth one. In fact, what I love so much about the movie is the fact that it takes your standard Godzilla-esque story, and recontextualizes it entirely by focusing on your standard, run-of-the-mill people. Throughout the film, our main group bears witnesses to a bunch of soldiers running around, trying their best to combat the unstoppable monster and save the city. In most movies, you would be following the military dudes going after the monster, with the background characters trying to escape simply serving as the backdrop. But what Cloverfield so beautifully realizes is that the more interesting story is buried within these background figures, that a tale of basic human survival is far more affecting than the umpteenth story of some military figures or scientists trying to save the world.

Cloverfield

And if you’re going to commit to telling that story, what’s the best way to bring the action down to their level? Why, by literally presenting it from their point of view. The camera only catches the occasional glimpse of things, and misses a bunch of key moments, and is usually just overwhelmed by the sheer amount of chaos happening on screen. But if you were in the shoes of Rob, Hud, Lily, Marlena, or Beth, wouldn’t you be overwhelmed too? The camera is a nice way to give the film some flair but, more importantly, it’s a way to get into the headspace of the main characters.

Main characters who, by the way, are far better handled than they had any right to be. Props should most likely be given to screenwriter Drew Goddard in that department — like Reeves, time has only gone to further show how amazingly talented this man is, with The Martian and (especially) Cabin in the Woods subsequently earning raves. But even in penning his first feature film script, Goddard already showed a knack for inventiveness, and a willingness to form strong character arcs even amidst the nuttiest of concepts. While the center love story between Rob and Beth isn’t the most amazing one in the world, it has its benefits. The idea of risking your own life and safety just to save another in a time of crisis is a meaningful one, and the film’s use of in-camera flashbacks (through a pretty smart “overwriting” technique) also provides a powerful glimpse into how simple and relatable the lives of our main characters used to be before things went to shit. But most important of all, fleshing out the characters the way Cloverfield did gives the film a drive and emotional throughline that so many modern blockbusters really lack.

…Like Godzilla, for instance. Now I was going to try my best not to make this article just another takedown of that 2014 remake, but rewatching Cloverfield reminded me just how much better this film handled the idea of a stripped down, barebones disaster film. While Godzilla wasted about an hour of time with secret military tests, scientists talking about ultimately unimportant things, and criminally underutilizing Bryan Cranston, Cloverfield opens with a bunch of 20somethings having a fun party, and using that party as a way of laying down the groundwork for their future behavior and character arcs. While Godzilla spends an agonizing amount of time following ARMY MAN Aaron Taylor Johnson doing absolutely nothing of value while hopping from country to country, Cloverfield lays out the central mission of the movie a third of the way in, and focus on said mission for the rest of its runtime. While Godzilla got off on withholding its main monster through smudgy cinematography and baffling cutaways, Cloverfield uses said withholding to instill a sense of foreboding and chaos. While Godzilla is an overlong, dreary mess, Cloverfield is a brisk 85 minute roller coaster ride of action and horror. One that also happens to feature a cast of characters I actually give a shit about which, believe it or not, is pretty important for a film! Anyways, I’ll stop picking on Godzilla now. I just needed to release that rant, since I’ve been holding on to it for nearly four years.

Godzilla

Eh, at least this scene was pretty rad.

Anyways, what more can I say? Clearly I love Cloverfield and, rewatching it now, I’m taken aback with how much it still very much works. Not quite as much as it did the first time I watched it unfold on the big screen but, to be fair, what could? Seeing Cloverfield back then was a magical moment for me, as I sat in pure awe watching this crazy monster movie unfold before my very eyes. The fact that the experience can even be 1/10 as awesome some ten years later speaks to how, even pushing aside the mystery and the presentation, the film works incredibly well as a subversive, visceral disaster movie.

Part of me wants to say that I wish we got more original blockbusters that are as gutsy and crazy as Cloverfield but, really, that’s one of the film’s ultimately greatest accomplishments. Even with the found footage format being one of modern horror’s go to devices, there is nothing else that can quite match the scale and ambition of Cloverfield. And, honestly, I doubt there ever will be. I can only just hope that the ongoing Cloverfield set of anthology films will continue to find equally compelling ways to tell unique, compelling sci-fi stories. Hey, they are two for two so far! Hopefully April’s mysterious Cloverfield 3 will continue the trend.

But, until that happens, I highly recommend revisiting Cloverfield. The film unfortunately isn’t streaming on Netflix or Hulu or anything like that, but you can rent it on Amazon, and where all purchasable streaming films can be found. Or you can just watch it on a Blu-Ray disc, like me. PHYSICAL MEDIA 4EVAH.

(You might disagree with what I have to say about the film, but no one can argue this isn’t one of the all-time great teaser trailers, right? Makes one hell of a first impression, and perfectly sells the madness of the finished film.)

Here are some other things of note I thought about while re-watching the film. Also they are spoiler-heavy thoughts so, if you got this far and haven’t seen the film…just go do that instead, okay? Okay.

  • There’s a lot of oners in the film, which must have been very difficult to do with the budget and level of secrecy that the film had. Just makes the technical wizardry all the more impressive.
  • The scene where Rob has to tell his mother that his brother died is so, so great. Once again, it’s not the type of shit you usually get in a monster movie. You don’t get the time to see the direct human cost of the monster wreaking havoc, at least not as it extends outside the core group of characters. Of course all the mothers of the world would be calling their children. And of course a fair amount of those mothers are going to end up heartbroken.
  • I remember there being a huge uproar from people about how stupid it would be for someone to keep filming throughout the entirity of such a crazy attack. But, personally, I never got the argument. Hud from the beginning explains why he keeps filming everything (“People will want to see this”), and I found the sentiment mostly rang true. It was also clearly a way for him to handle the enormity of the situation, which rather intelligently made the motif an additional, but intrigual character quirk. Also, in the modern age, the idea of someone filming everything they are seeing is more believable than ever. If Cloverfield actually happened in real life, you bet your ass someone would be streaming the entire thing on Youtube.
  • The tunnel scene is TERRIFYING. The visualization of the hatchlings is just so perfect, with the creature designs overall being top notch. Props to man designer Neville Page and the rest of his team on that.
  • Marlena’s exploding head death was a visual that stuck with me for a decade. That’s when you know a film is good.
  • The slanted skyscraper also made for some neat compositions, and even cooler set designs.
  • Pulling the rhubarb out of Beth’s shoulder is horrifying, and without even showing a damn thing. It’s the little things that make this movie so great.
  • “What is that!” “It’s a terrible thing!”
  • “What is that?!” “I don’t know, something else, also terrible.” Like any good thriller, Cloverfield also takes the time for some very much appropriate comic relief. Shame it has to come out of the mouth of T.J. Miller, though. Time has been kind to Cloverfield in many areas but, uh, not that one. 
  • Speaking of genuine emotions: I love how people are actually FREAKING THE FUCK OUT throughout the entire film. Not your standard screams and other crowd noises, but genuine “OH MY GOD I AM GOING TO DIE” rantings. Can see how some could be turned off by the detail, but it just makes me appreciate the film’s authenticity even more.
  • The shot of Hud being eaten/seeing the monster for the first time. Next level stuff, people. Matt Reeves is a brilliant, brilliant man. I’m so happy he’s doing a Batman, and I have all the confidence in the world it will be great.
  • “My name is Beth McIntyre. And I don’t know why this is happening.” Can’t think of a more succinct line to express the film’s ultimate theme than that. At the end of the day, the main characters are just a bunch of tiny figures, going through a world-shattering event, and trying their best to make it out alive.  And, if a monster attack happened in real life, you can bet the vast majority of audiences would be right there with them.
  • “I had a good day.” And then that final line is just…mean. 


Also published on Medium.

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Why The Hell Did Fox Just Push Back The New Mutants To 2019?

And why the are they still trying to make that Gambit movie happen? These questions, and more, below.

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Fox is in an incredibly weird position when it comes to the future of their Marvel mutant properties. By far one of the studios most profitable properties, they recently doubled down on the franchise, putting what seems to be dozens of X-Men adjacent films into development. But then a wrench was thrown into all these spin-off plans, a wrench in the form of a corporate takeoff and a massive, groundbreaking acquisition. 

Yes, Disney now is in the process of purchasing Fox, which will certainly have repercussions on how the two studios proceed with the future of their Marvel properties. But, for now? Fox has no idea what to expect, so is just proceeding with business as usual when it comes to all the X-Men plates they have twirling in the air. And business today, I guess, is pushing back a film, moving up another, and continuing to live in denial about the increasingly slim possibilities of a third one while they are at it.

All this happened just a few hours ago, as The Hollywood Reporter filled us all in on the shifting schedule of Fox’s X-Men branded films. The most surprising of the bunch by far is Fox’s decision to completely push back The New Mutants, not just by a few weeks, but by AN ENTIRE YEAR. The horror-tinged mutant film was on track for release on April 13, with marketing already commencing and everything, but will now hit theaters on February 22, 2019. Yes, a grand 13 months away…or a substantial 17 months after the film first concluded filming. 

That type of delay is rare to happen on a big Hollywood blockbuster, especially one so close to release. So the question must be asked: why did Fox delay the film? Well, like all things to do with Hollywood blockbusters, the answer is pretty muddled. THR’s sources tell them that Fox was afraid of having too many X-Men films in release at the same time, what with Deadpool hitting theaters in June (at least at the time — more on that in a second.) But that excuse doesn’t at all add up, as it was Fox’s decision from the start to release the film’s so relatively close together. Why wasn’t it a problem back when Fox chose the release?

(Might want to change the date at the end of this trailer now, Fox.)

Furthermore, why couldn’t Fox have just delayed the film a little bit to, say, August? Or maybe push back X-Men: Dark Phoenix instead, giving it the February 22 release and putting New Mutants in its November 2 slot? Marketing hasn’t really kicked off for the former film, and a delay of three months for it is far less drastic than the 10 month one for New Mutants. Or, if Deadpool 2 is the problem, why not push that one to July, giving a healthy gap of three months to all the Mutant properties? No, no, that reason does not hold up in my mind. Far more likely is the fact that New Mutants was having trouble in the editing room, and isn’t up to snuff to what Fox is wanting. Will the Josh Boone helmed horror film manage to come out of this delay a good film? History is not kind to films that get delayed in such a substantial way, but anything is possible I assume.

But New Mutants failing is Deadpool 2‘s gain, as the still untitled sequel has been pushed up from its original June 1 release date to a prime May 18, 2018 slot. That’s great…on the surface. But beneath the assumed confidence such a move would dictate, I’m kind of baffled why Fox would do this. It’s been widely assumed that Disney was going to own May 2018, what with the release of Avengers: Infinity War at the start of it and Solo: A Star Wars Story at the end of it. Why would Fox chose to throw Deadpool 2 right smack dab in the middle of the Disney madness?

The way I see it, releasing Deadpool 2 at the start of June pretty much gave the Merc with A Mouth the whole month to himself — the only other real blockbuster competition was in the form of Incredibles 2, which wouldn’t even be opening until a couple weeks after anyways. All I see happening from placing Deadpool 2 in May is the film running into Avengers: Infinity Wars legs, and having its very own cut off by Solo: A Star Wars Story. Did Fox learn nothing from War for the Planet of the Apes, which faltered at the box office by being smack dab right in the middle of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Dunkirk? And did they learn nothing from the FIRST Deadpool, which managed to be their highest grossing movie by, in large part, having little competition in its February release? C’mon movie studios, stop overcrowding all the blockbusters!

Moving on to the final bit of X-Men franchise news is our old friend Gambit, which at this point has been in development for about 77 years. The Channing Tatum led (maybe?) spin-off was supposed to be directed by Pirates of the Caribbean helmer Gore Verbinski…until he abruptly quit the project earlier today, making him the 124th director to do so (my numbers might be a little off, but you get the point.) Due to once again having no one direct the film, and New Mutants now occupying the previous February 2019 release date, Fox has moved the film to June 7, 2019.

Of course, the movie isn’t going to actually come out then — in fact, I am starting to question that this movie will ever see the light of day. Despite what seems to be the initiative of one executive (or maybe Tatum himself), no one is demanding a Gambit movie. And even more troubling for the film’s production, no one is willing to make one either. When the Disney/Fox deal is finalized, I expect Gambit to be one of the first movie casualties. But, until then…sure, Fox. Believe what you want to believe. When Marvel Studios reabsorbs the X-Men, will any of this even matter anyways?


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Kevin Feige Shrugs, Figures Now Is The Time To Make That Black Widow Movie Everyone’s Been Clamoring For

It only took two phases of near constant requests, but Big Brother Marvel is finally listening.

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There have been 17 Marvel Cinematic Universes films thus far released, and literally dozens of others making their way through various stages of development. And, as the years go by, the choices of characters that Marvel chooses to make movies about are only going to get more and more obscure — after all, with all the bigger heroes taken, there’s a lot more room in the development world for the likes of Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy. And yet, even with the slate expanding to lesser and lesser-known characters, Marvel continued to ignore what seems to be a sure-fire, established property: that of Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow.

She’s been featured all over the MCU thus far, and is almost certainly one of the most beloved members of the main Avengers team. Furthermore, she’s played by Scarlett Johansson, undoubtedly one of the most bankable actors in the world. And with Marvel very much trying to expand what an MCU movie can be, and delving into a bunch of different genres as a result (Ant-Man is a heist movie, Guardians is a space opera, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a high school coming-of-age movie, etc.), it would make sense to add Black Widow on to the pile — the espionage/noir movie you can build around the character practically writes itself!

And, yet, Marvel has been oddly reluctant to actually give Natasha Romanoff her fair due. They’ve talked about it for years (since she came out as one of the breakout heroes in The Avengers, really), but a movie was never actually produced. It’s been nearly seven years after the character was first introduced in Iron Man 2, and its just been endless talk after endless talk. But coming off 2017, whose 3 highest grossing films all starred a female, it seems Marvel might be thinking twice about having such a male-heavy slate…and is once again looking at giving the Black Widow character her chance at a standalone.

That’s at least my takeaway from today’s big news, as the much-discussed project finally moves forward into development. As first broken by Variety, Marvel has hired up-and-coming writer Jac Schaeffer to pen the script for the potential project. Schaeffer is a bit of an unknown quality at this point, with her only produced projects on IMDB being the indie sci-fi comedy TiMER (which she also directed), and, umm, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. But I’ll try not to hold that last thing against her.

Johansson is of course attached to reprise her role which, by the way, she has done in SIX MCU films as a supporting character so far. If you ask me, she more than deserves her due to lead a standalone. In fact, she deserved it like five Marvel films ago. Honestly, it would have been great to have Black Widow lead the current charge of female-led action films, rather than simply being an effect of it. But I guess this is one of those situations where I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. This movie is probably happening, and that should be celebrated. Even more so if Marvel manages to attach a strong director to it. May I be the first (of probably many) to suggest one Michelle MacLaren? If DC won’t have her, you can!


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