The end of the year is nigh, the slow flow of news is a telling sign of that. Good thing too, since I got plenty of work to do in these last few weeks of 2014.
Well, that's just nice! Five eligible directors and the one I trust most to save Star Trek from going down the drain immediately says he's not interested. A damn shame, since intelligent Sci-Fi is exactly what Trek is in dire need of to once again differentiate it from the action oriented likes of Star Wars, and intelligent Sci-Fi is just Duncan Jones' forte. Justin Lin and Daniel Espinosa are mostly mindless action directors (no offense, guys!), so not the types Trek needs. I haven't seen The Imitation Game (yet), nor have I sampled any of Morten Tyldum's domestic fare, so I can't speak of his suitability for Trek 3. Considering his first overseas film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, who previously played a character I so do not want to see again in the next Trek film, I'm inclined not to give Tyldum the benefit of the doubt, though I agree that is rather narrow minded of me. That leaves Rupert Wyatt. His Rise of the Planet of the Apes indicated a compatibility with smarter science fiction, but once again, his oeuvre isn't particularly elaborate and I don't feel like judging a director's capacities for Trek on just the one film. Duncan Jones was just what the franchise needed, in my mind. Very disappointing to know he won't be involved. And if such bad news isn't enough of a downer, the news reached the Internet this week that Paramount is eager to incorporate witty sidekick characters á la Rocket & Groot into the next film because of the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. Which once again goes to show that studio execs, at least the ones working at this studio, only follow what's hot and trending, rather than appreciate 50 years of Trek history that did pretty well without such blatant attempts to make the franchise resemble other popular properties. I truly fear for the future of Trek, it increasingly doesn't seem to have one that's worthy of the lore that came before...
Wow, Suicide Squad really seems to have a thing for casting Oscar nominees. Guess DC's strategy to differentiate itself from Marvel is to cast mostly actors with past Oscar buzz. The majority of the main Marvel actors are well suited at what they do, but, with a few exceptions, Oscar material they are not. Director David Ayer seems to have his job cut out for him managing all this movie's talent and the unavoidable egos that come with it. I'm glad they casted Davis rather than Oprah Winfrey. That latter choice just seemed to much like the stuff of 'silly Internet rumour', even if Winfrey is serious about a solid action career. Davis is known to excel at heavily dramatic roles, but has co-starred in plenty of action movies that don't take themselves overly seriously. Suicide Squad definitely falls into that category and so does the role of Amanda Waller, the government liaison tasked with overseeing all the villainous egos in the Squad itself. Seems like she and Ayer have that much in common, hopefully they'll be able to teach each other a thing or two.
Hayley Atwell is also one of those actresses who's in all regards skilled at her job, but not someone likely to get nabbed for an Academy Award anytime soon. Especially in her return to the small screen for Agent Carter (maybe she'll win an Emmy though, you never know). So far, I like what I've seen of this new show, and I always like seeing Hayley anyway. Nevertheless, with this series the Marvel Universe once again emphasizes its spy stuff, something which I feel it's overdoing. We already have Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. running and that titular organization, though it took a blow recently on the big screen, is still very active in the Marvel movies as well. Now we get a show which spends a lot of its time exploring the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D. Too much espionage for my taste. Granted, the Marvel Universe is not just about superhumans, but it is hard to deny that's its most appealing aspect, so I would call for more superheroes and less shady spy organizations. Of course, with five upcoming Netflix series dealing with that subject, the future looks bright enough in that regard. And at least Agent Carter has the charming historical Fourties period to distinguish itself from the later S.H.I.E.L.D. shenanigans. So it's not just all repetition of the same thing, just variation.
Speaking of those upcoming Marvel titles, here's a closer look at one. After Agent Carter, Daredevil is the next Marvel series planned for 2015. And this one is a bit more super, though much more grounded in reality than his contemporaries on the big screen. He's not fighting aliens or gods, just busting criminal asses on the streets of New York. Something a bit more relatable. His outfit also isn't nearly as fancy as we're used to from superheroes. However, word is ths suit above is just an initial garment, and not the familiar final red garb, which will make its appearance later. Hopefully they'll manage to find a careful balance between fancy and gritty, the way the 2003 movie just didn't. At least Charlie Cox, like Atwell, is one of those reliable actors you can fully trust to make things work, without his demanding an Oscar in return.
Bradley Cooper, however, does have his eyes fixed on an Academy Award. And he's also a part of the Marvel Universe, though not as visible as most (he's responsible for that funny raccoon from that recent space movie, remember?). Third time may prove the charm, having been snubbed for an Oscar twice already, but clearly taking a precise aim for one again in Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. Eastwood being a sort of Oscar magnet also helps his cause no doubt. Seems both director and star made a strong dramatic movie, if the trailer is to be believed. Very American too, and not just in regards to the title. Eastwood is not one to sugarcoat his country, and it apears American Sniper will make no secrets of the negative effects of American actions abroad against those citizens taking said actions. Nor will it need to defend itself from showcasing such actions, as the need for them is not without cause. Or maybe the trailer is dead wrong and the film is actually a ideologically black & white patriottic puff piece, who knows. Hopefully the movie will do this fine trailer justice.