Logan: Official Trailer #1

Logan is an upcoming 2016 American superhero film directed by James Mangold. It is the tenth installment in the X-Men film franchise, and is the final installment set to feature Hugh Jackman as James Howlett/Wolverine/Logan. It is loosely based upon the famous comic book storyline Old Man Logan by Mark Millar. The film also stars Patrick Stewart, returning as Professor X, as well as Narcos star Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce, Dafne Keen as X-23, Stephen Merchant as Caliban. Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, and Elizabeth Rodriguez have been cast in unspecified roles.

The X-Men franchise has had an extremely turbulent history. Rocketing onto the screen in 2001 with director Bryan Singer, the original X-Men film and it’s sequel X2 are credited along with Spider-Man for legitimizing, revitalizing, and revolutionizing the superhero genre. Everything after X2 has been hit-or-miss, however. The Last Stand, directed by Brett Ratner, is somewhat of a gold standard for bad modern superhero movies, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is legendary for all the wrong reasons. Future Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn was able to put the series back on track with the excellent X-Men: First Class, which among other things, introduced the brilliant actors James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender to mainstream audiences, playing young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, respectively. James Mangold was then brought on to direct The Wolverine, an unimpressive, uninspired Wolverine film that, while not terrible, left much to be desired. It was extremely bland and rather tame.

Bryan Singer’s return with 2014’s Days Of Future Past was, in my opinion, the best X-Men film to date. It was a perfect representation of everything the X-Men should be. Created in the early 1960’s at the hight of the Civil Rights Movement, the X-Men were used to tackle complicated social issues and, frankly, be freaking awesome at the same time. DoFP was a perfect representation of that. Fans of the franchise were overjoyed that the X-Men were good again. Followed up by the hilarious comedy Deadpoolthings continued to look good for the franchise. Sadly, 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse was nothing short of a bland, boring, confusing mess. Many are confused by the franchise’s innate lack of consistency, especially considering making a good superhero film after one of the most iconic and influential superhero teams in history should be relatively easy. This has led many to wonder if the franchise should not just simply be put to rest.

I hope you will forgive my franchise history lesson, I just wish to explain in full why I am extremely apprehensive concerning Logan. I am curious and confused as to why Fox once again gave this movie to James Mangold, considering how blah The Wolverine was. I am concerned that the franchise will, for whatever reason, never be able to find stable footing. Though it is a rather impressive trailer, and I think the use of Johnny Cash’s Hurt is a great way to portray this film as being more emotional than most superhero films, I am worried and skeptical. As with everything involving this franchise, Logan is very much a potential hit or miss ordeal. Boasting an undeniably intriguing and impressive trailer with intriguing aspects and awesome visuals, the film nevertheless has a questionable director behind the camera; part of a franchise that has been rather questionable for the last decade or so. I am neither against this movie, nor am I even close to sold. All I can hope for is a good send-off for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Please… Maybe Logan will be another good movie in the franchise, I don’t know. We’ll see.

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Live By Night: Teaser Trailer

Live By Night is an upcoming American crime thriller film based upon the novel of the same name by Gone, Baby, Gone author Dennis Lehane. Live By Night is written and directed by Ben Affleck in his fourth directorial effort and stars Affleck, Chris Cooper, Ellie Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, and Zoe Saldana. Set in the 1920’s, Live By Night tells the story of Joe Coughlin, the prodigal son of a Boston police captain who, after moving to Tampa, becomes a bootlegger, gun-runner, and eventually a notorious gangster.

Gone, Baby, Gone was Affleck’s brilliant directorial debut. Dennis Lehane’s novels are clearly good works to adapt to film, with the Clint Eastwood-directed Mystic River being the best work the legendary badass has done as a director so far, in my opinion. Affleck is obviously a fan of Lehane’s work, as am I, so it makes sense to see the two team up again, as it were. I just began reading Live By Night today, coincidentally.

I will continue to say this whenever the subject comes up, Ben Affleck is a supremely talented director and writer. Gone, Baby, Gone remains one of my all-time favorites, and The Town and Argo are also brilliant and extremely well-made films. I have been anxiously awaiting news on Live By Night and, lo and behold, this trailer dropped yesterday right under my nose.

Affleck is possibly a better director than he is an actor, and I say that of the opinion he’s a great actor. It is clear here, as well as in his previous works, that he has an eye for the technical, as well as the emotional, aspects of filmmaking. I haven’t gotten too far into the novel, but it is clear to me, and clear to Affleck, that Joe is a good man who does bad things, the type of person that Affleck has become skillful at portraying, both on the screen and behind the camera. Joe isn’t conflicted about his life, and has no problem being a bad man, but does realize what it means for him and other people. The use of Hozier’s best song, Arsonist’s Lullaby, is appropriate, as the song concerns and arsonist who has no regrets about his compulsions, but realizes he can never allow himself to go too far.

All you have is your fire
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons
But always keep ’em on a leash

When I was a man I thought it ended
When I knew love’s perfect ache
But my peace has always depended
On all the ashes in my wake

All you have is your fire,
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons,
But always keep ’em on a leash…

Early on in the trailer, Zoe Saldana’s Graciella Corrales tells Joe, “I don’t know if you’re cruel enough,” to which he replies that men do not have to be cruel. I am not far enough into the novel to know the main conflict, but I would imagine Joe will learn just how wrong he is over the course of escalating criminal events.

Robert Richardson serves as cinematographer for this film. He has received three Academy Awards for his work on JFK, The Aviatorand Hugo. He has been nominated for that same award a total of nine times for various films. He frequently collaborates with Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. Live By Night will certainly be a gorgeous film, and I see a hint of what may be a single take gunfight in the film, so hopefully that happens.

Live By Night premieres January 13th, 2017. Every director, even great ones like Affleck with a perfect track record, have to fail at some point, but I doubt Live By Night will be anything less than a great movie. It is probably my most anticipated movie coming out in the next six months and I can’t wait to see it.

Free Fire: Red Band Trailer

Free Fire is an upcoming action comedy crime film written and directed by Ben Wheatley. It stars Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, and Sharlto Copley. Set in the 1970s, the film follows two groups of criminals who meet up at a warehouse for a weapons deal. A disagreement turns the whole thing into a shootout between the two groups in the warehouse.

Ben Wheatley is an up and coming, but accomplished British director who has yet to make a big name for himself outside the UK, having yet to exit the independent film circle. He is known mostly for a rather disturbing horror film called Kill List about a group of mercenaries who end up entangled in a satanic cult. Kill List is now a cult classic horror film in the UK and won several awards and praise. His most recent work, High Rise, an adaptation of the dystopian science-fiction novel of the same name, starring big names like Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, and Luke Evans, has unfortunately failed to garner the same praise as Kill List.

Though I haven’t seen either Kill List (because I’m a wuss) or High Rise (from what I’ve heard, it’s very disappointing), I have nevertheless kept a close eye on Wheatley’s career, and Free Fire finally looks like my bag, not terrifying, and not disappointing (as far as I can tell). Though Free Fire is certainly not a horror film, he seems to be taking elements of the genre and working them to his advantage. Some may find it questionable to set an entire film in a singular location, but that can actually be extremely effective. Setting a film in a singular location for a horror film like the recent and acclaimed Don’t Breathe or an action film like Dredd or The Raid can ratchet up the tension and feeling of actual dread or add a feeling of claustrophobia. It is exceedingly simple and exceedingly effective. Indeed, the main goal of all the films I just mentioned boil down to “How the Hell do we get out of here alive?” This seems to be the general question Wheatley wants to answer, yet with a very comedic spin on things.

The film, which also has Martin Scorscese attached as executive producer, will premiere at the annual Toronto Film Festival, and will serve as the closing film at the London Film Festival on October 16th, 2016. The film has a UK release date of March 31st, 2017. Upon its international release, I don’t know if Free Fire will be playing in theaters in my area, seeing as it is an  independent, and not to mention foreign, release, and those usually only pop up in Chicago or L.A, not small-town Illinois. I do plan to get my hands on it, eventually, though.

This cast is perfect. I straight up love everyone in here. Cillian Murphy is my man crush for life, Allison Brie is a talented comedic actress who first came to light on the hilarious and beloved Community, which holds a special place in my heart, Armie Hammer is still trying to find his footing after The Lone Ranger, but in my opinion, proved himself with both The Social Network and The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and Sharlto Copley is… well… Sharlto freaking Copley. With a cast like this and an idea like this, with some genuinely raunchy and hilarious humor thrown in there, I don’t forsee anything going wrong; it looks like it’ll be great to me.