Tag Archives: Sin City

Comic Book Film Fans Have Short Memories

There’s no doubt that the comic book movie genre is big business right now, what with both DC and Marvel creating their own shared universes on the big screen all with multiple films featuring interconnecting stories and characters. Then there are all the animated movies and TV shows and so on…

They seem to the the big trend film-makers are going for right now and for the foreseeable future too with plans for numerous films over the next few years, this genre shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. However, there is something I’ve noticed with some of the more recent comic book flicks how they are praised for being ‘the first’ of something. But are they?

First R Rated Comic Book Movie

Deadpool

When Deadpool was in production before its release in 2016, there were a lot of rumours and concerns that it would be a PG-13 rated flick – and this angered fans. Thankfully it was given an R rating keeping Deadpool’s iconic over the top violence, swearing and humour in tact and the film delivered on exactly what the fans wanted. When it was released, it was praised for being ‘the first R rated comic book movie’.

Sin City

But Sin City from Robert Rodriguez came out in 2005. Eleven years before Deadpool hit the screens. Sin City was rated R for its violence, nudity and swearing long before the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ was. And guess what, Sin City was not the first either.

What about Wesley Snipes as Blade? Hell, there is even an entire trilogy of the films between 1998-2004 all rated R. The third film even featured Ryan Reynolds who would go on to play Deadpool over a decade later. Sill not satisfied? In 1994 we got the final film from Brandon Lee with The Crow. Yup you guessed it, rated R over two decades before Deadpool was too. Now we getting somewhere right, I just mentioned a film that predated Deadpool and its R rating by twenty two years…I can do better.

The Punisher 1991

The Punisher from 1989, more than a quarter of a century before Deadpool. Yes this  Dolph Lundgren starring flick based on the Marvel comic book series was R rated twenty seven years before our favourite ‘Regenerating Degenerate’ did it in 2016. As far as I can tell, 1989’s The Punisher seems to be the first R rated comic book movie. Just before I move on (as I’m sure this will be bought up) The Punisher was released in America in 1991…but it was first released in Germany in 1989. And for those wondering, there are many more that were released between 1989 and 2016 including (but not only); Tank GirlJudge Dredd, Spawn, From HellRoad to PerditionConstantine, 300, Watchmen, Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service just to name a few.

Deadpool was not even close to being the first R rated comic book movie as we had almost thirty years of them previously.

First Female Led Comic Book Movie

Wonder Woman

Ahhhhh, Wonder Woman. A picture so ‘meh’ I couldn’t even be bothered to do a review of it. I quite honestly did not understand the huge praise the film got when it was released last year. It was the best (recent) DC movie yes I agree…but that didn’t make it a great film in its own right. Besides, ‘best DC film so far’ is hardly high praise is it? Anyway, I’m getting a little detracted here. It wasn’t the blandness of the flick that annoyed me, it was its labelling as being ‘the first female led comic book movie’. It wasn’t even the first Wonder Woman movie.

Wonder Woman 1974

Back in 1974 there was a Wonder Woman TV movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby. Okay so it was bad…really, really bad – but its not the quality of the end product that is being bought into question – its which was first. This TV movie was based on the Diana Prince: The New Wonder Woman comic book series and released forty three years before the 2017 film. Yeah I know what you are thinking, ‘TV movies don’t count’. Okay…

How about 1984’s Supergirl? The first cinematic female led comic book flick released as a spin-off of the Christopher Reeve Superman films and predates Wonder Woman by over three decades. Oh and believe me, there are more too. Elecktra from 2005 or 2004’s Catwoman? I can even raise you the master of schlock cinema producer Roger Corman with Vampirella from 1996. Oh and there was this…

Barb Wire

Barb Wire from 1996 and yes, the only reason I mentioned this was to include a picture of Pamela Anderson.

First Black Comic Book Movie

Black Panther

And all this incessant ranting brings things bang up to date with the release of Black Panther. Currently getting praise for being ‘the first black comic book movie’ and again, this is not entirely accurate. Now I admit that things get a little trickier here because there is a distinction that needs to be made. You see, there have been black superhero movies before Black Panther…but not necessarily ones that are based on comic books.

The likes of The Meteor Man from 1993 for instance has a black lead playing a superhero – but the film was not based on a comic book, yet a comic book series was released after the film by Marvel no less. Or what about 1994’s Blankman, a parody of superhero flicks from Damon Wayans.

Blankman

Of course you can’t talk about black superhero movies without mentioning 2008’s Hancock starring Will Smith in the titular role. But again, none of these films were ‘comic book movies’ but original superhero flicks with a black lead. But all of them came before Black Panther regardless. Still, I did specifically state ‘comic book movie’ meaning they have to be based on an exiting comic book. Oh yeah, I have some of those too, several of which I’ve already mentioned.

What about Steel from 1997? With Shaquille O’Neal in the lead role based on the DC comic series of the same name, which itself is a spin-off of Superman. That’s a black comic book movie before Black Panther. Then there are those films I have previously covered such as Spawn also from 1997 which starred Michael Jai White, 2004’s Catwoman not only had a black lead with Halle Berry but also the first female black led comic book film.

And to finish, quite possibly the most famous and popular black comic book movie…

Blade

Blade. Yes it looks like Black Panther‘s current ‘first black comic book movie’ praise is misplaced. Numerous other black actors were playing superheros and even comic book characters before Chadwick Boseman stepped into the shoes of T’Challa A.K.A Black Panther.

Quentin Tarantino Part III

Well lets just dive right into it and take a look at his new film.

TH8

The Hateful Eight: Not too much is known about the film right now, it is still being filmed as I write this.
But the basic synopsis is: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception.

With an impressive cast of: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks and others.

The film is said to be set in the same universe as Django Unchained, but not connected plot wise.
Could we see the return of Django even if only for a cameo?

The film already has me excited and I can not wait to go and see it.

While the official relased date is Christmas 2015, it’ll only be initially released in select cinemas with a full release set for early 2016.
Some have suggested this is due to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will definitely be the big Christmas hit this year. But as I said in part I, I couldn’t care less about Star Wars.
So due to some “creative marketing”, I’ll have to wait until 2016 to see the film.

Still, seeing as not too long back, Quentin decided to not make this film thanks to a leaked script on the internet. I think I can wait until early 2016 to catch this flick…but it’s going to be a long wait indeed.

QT 2

So what is my favourite Quentin Tarantino film?
Though one to answer as I don’t have one favourite. So I’ll just offer my own opinion on his films so far instead.

Reservoir Dogs: This film is to Ringo Lam’s City on Fire (1987) what Sergio Leone’s Per un pugno di dollari (1964) was to Akira Kurosawa’s Yôjinbô (1961). With it being an unofficial remake. What a movie Reservoir Dogs really is, especially for a first time director…of a full theatrical feature. A heist film without a heist with 90% of the film just being dialogue with most of the film set in an empty warehouse. But it really showcased how great Tarantino is at writing his characters. This one set the bar high with many copycats trying to make similar films for years after, yet only Quentin himself could nail and even beat the high standards set by Reservoir Dogs.

Pulp Fiction: For quite a while, this was my favourite Tarantino film…but that was during the mid-late 90s when he only had 2-3 films to his name. Pulp Fiction is still one of the very best films made to date from anyone and again had other writers and directors tying to “out Tarantino” Tarantino with other similar films attempting to cash in on the character led, crime genre were the bad guys were the focus. Pulp Fiction is a simply awesome film, I’m even close to saying the best film made in the 90s.

Four Rooms: I can not stress enough how overlooked this film is. While not all four stories are great, the film as a whole is a fun watch. But Quentin Tarantino’s segment is really worth watching, full of that snappy dialogue, with interesting characters. Tarantino’s, The Man From Hollywood story is the final tale of the four, and I can safely say…they saved the best till last.

From Dusk Till Dawn: I still remember the first time I saw this flick and was lucky enough to not have it spoiled for me pre-viewing. Talk about yer great film twists eh? I really do not want to talk too much of this one in case some of you readers have not yet seen it. As I said previously, this is a film you need to know nothing about before seeing it. Just go watch it, don’t research it, don’t look at a cast-list or even read a synopsis…just go watch it.

Jackie Brown: I never did like this one when I first saw it…and I can’t remember why. However, the film has definitely grown on me over the years and now think it’s great. Not one of Quentin’s best films I admit, but it’s still pretty damn amazing and I find myself enjoying the film much more now than I did previously. Jackie Brown is a wonderful homage to crime “blaxploitation” cinema of the 70s, starring the queen of “blaxploitation” herself the amazing, “whole lot of woman” and sexy Pam Grier.

Kill Bill: Remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while? Well this is the film that made me change my mind. An expertly observed and executed love letter to classic Kung-Fu flicks. While the plot is as basic as it gets, with its all too simple revenge driving force. Kill Bill ends up being so much more thanks to Tarantino’s love for the genre and his (again) amazing writing/directing. You can always tell when the director loves and respects a genre, and this film displays that love and respect in every scene. I also feel this film was a turning point for Tarantino as his writing seems more “dynamic” and this is a trait that follows on from this point on.

Sin City: If you are reading this Paul, remember how long it got you to get me to watch this film? Seriously, it was a good 3-4 years. In all honesty, I never did like the look of this film back then, which was party why I never got round to watching it. Then one summer day (after getting tattoos) I relinquished and picked up a copy of Sin City on DVD and watched it that very day…and it hit me like a sledgehammer to the head. A truly stunning film is so many regards and while Quentin only directed one scene, it’s a great scene in a great film.

Death Proof: This one was a nice surprise, I never really knew what to expect with this one. Tarantino’s slice of 70s style exploitation cinema in this Grindhouse double bill was really good fun and with the underused Kurt Russell in the lead role, makes this one a must watch even if you are not a Quentin fan. That crash mid way through and car chase at the end are some of the best stunt work I’ve seen in recent years…and it was all practical, no CGI. It is a “stupid” film I admit, but it is “stupidity” done with panache.

Inglourious Basterds: Is this really a “masterpiece” as Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine says? Well you remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while, and then replaced that with Kill Bill later? You can see what’s coming here can’t you? See, this is why its so damn difficult for me to chose a favourite Quentin Tarantino film…cos for most part they are all my favourites. Inglourious Basterds is one of the best films I have seen in the last 10 years from any writer/director. This is what The Dirty Dozen (1967) would have been like if Quentin Tarantino had directed it. It’s violent, it’s tense, it’s full of memorable characters and dialogue. Yes, it is a masterpiece.

Django Unchained: Remember when I said Pulp Fiction was my favourite Quentin Tarantino film for a while…and so on…? Yup, this is one of “those” Quentin Tarantino films, one that changes my opinion…again. I grew up watching the Spaghetti Western genre, ever since my older brother, Robert introduced me to Clint Eastwood and the “Dollars Trilogy”. I love this genre, and so does Quentin…and you can tell when watching this picture. A great modern Western is a tough film to get right, I can only think of two truly great modern Westerns. Clint Eastwood’s, Unforgiven and this film right here.

So there you go, I can’t chose a favourite Tarantino film, its just impossible for me to do so. All of his directing efforts have been great, whether they be full feature films, a short story or even just one scene. Everything he does has so much polish and style to it.

QT 4

Why do I enjoy Quentin Tarantino films so damn much?
So many reasons…

1) His characters, they always seem so “real”, multi dimensional with depth and a purpose. Those characters always seem to stay with me over the years and are fondly remembered. They are never over or underused and they always seem integral to the plot even if it’s a small character with little screen-time.

2) His writing, from the stories he creates…and “borrows” to the dialogue he comes up with. How great is that “Royale with cheese” chat in Pulp Fiction? But why is it so great and memorable? really, it bears no relation to the plot of the film. It’s just two friends chatting shit, and I feel that is why his dialogue works, as it’s not “movie speak”. It really sounds and feels like how people genuinely talk to each other. All of his films have an instance of a “Royale with cheese” chat. His stories are always interesting and far deeper than they first appear too.

3) His music, how is it that Quentin Tarantino always selects the best and most apt music for his films? Have you ever watched one of his films, heard the music and felt that it does not work…even when the music is anachronistic like the use of Cat People (Putting Out The Fire) by David Bowie (1982) in Inglourious Basterds which is set in during World War II. Yes, completely the wrong decade…but that song was so damn apt, it would have been an offence not to have used it. Every tune he selects seems to be just as important as getting the right actor to play a part.

4) His comedy, yes you read that right…comedy. Not too many think of Quentin as being a funny writer/director…but he really is. All of his films have comedy in them, even if you don’t realise it at first. Often his comedy is very subtle and will pass you by, but it is there. He’ll also use dark comedy that many people miss. Sometimes his use of comedy is so obvious, you don’t even think about it. I watched all of the films mentioned here before writing this up (yes, even My Best Friend’s Birthday) and all of them had some form of comedy in them that made me smile or even outright laugh.

5) His actors, remember when everyone forgot about John Travolta? Who was Samuel L. Jackson before Pulp Fiction? Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Christoph Waltz, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Pam Grier, Michael Keaton, and so on. Now of course not everyone in his films were a nobody or forgotten about pre-Tarantino. He’s attracted some big name stars too, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Jamie Fox, Michael Fassbender and others. But even so, he still always manages to bring back a forgotten actor or a new name and give them the spotlight…and make it work too.

6) He’s a genre man, he makes the kind of films he grew up and enjoyed watching. He is a fanboy and his films prove as much too. From his “homages”, in jokes, references and even some of the actors he chooses. Everything is selected and pandered to perfectly fit into the genre he is trying to capture. While he does have his own unique style, his films are also very different from each other. Heist film, Kung-Fu/Samurai revenge flick, Spaghetti Western epic, Gangster/thriller picture…he’ll have a go at anything as long as it’s a genre he loves.

7) His violence, probably the biggest thing Quentin is (in)famous for. But he does not just throw in violence for the sake of having violence. Often, he makes us, the viewer, “earn” that violence. Anyone remember the “ear cutting scene” in Reservoir Dogs, remember the controversy, remember how graphic it was? The great thing about that scene is the simple fact that is was not graphic at all, in fact the camera pans away to look at a blank wall…yet people always “remember” how violent that scene was. This is the mark of a truly great film-maker, one that can make you see something that is not there.
But my favourite part of the whole “ear cutting scene” is actually something more jovial and deeply dark at the same time. I’m talking of Mr. Blonde putting the radio on and dancing around to Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel. It’s a great, light and “bouncy” song and Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde dancing around is a joy to watch…but somewhere in the back of your head, you know things are going to get really bad, really quickly and the whole dancing thing just makes what is to come next even more disturbing…even though you do not see “it” happen.
Of course he’s not always as “subtle” with his violence, the Crazy 88 fight from Kill Bill for example. But even here, you are teased before the big showdown. From when The Bride first enters The House of Blue Leaves, the whole scene is dragged out (in a great way) to make you wait for the vengeance fuelled blood rage that is about to come.
But I think my personal favourite piece of foreplay to the violence comes from Inglourious Basterds. That one particular scene in the German basement bar. The way Quentin slowly unfolds this undercover plot that we, the audience all know is going to go wrong, we all know its gonna end in (lots of) bloodshed…yet we are teased for what seems like hours. It’s like Quentin is saying to us, he knows you want violence, he knows you want to see some dead Nazis…and possibly some dead good guys too. But, you have to wait, and wait and wait. He makes it almost unbearable to the point you can not take your eyes of the screen so much so you do not want to blink. It’s “magical” movie making at it’s finest.
But I can not end this point without mentioning the slow-motion gun fight near the end of Django Unchained. Its so beautifully shot (and again pre-teased to us the audience), its like watching a ballet of violence.

So, what is next for Tarantino after the release of The Hateful Eight?

Well Quentin has hinted he plans to retire. I think this is terrible if true, but on the other hand. If Quentin Tarantino honestly thinks he had nothing left to offer, then maybe retirement is the best thing for him?
I’d rather Tarantino going out on top then keep making films he no longer enjoys making. But either way, it’ll be a sad day in film-making if/when Quentin Tarantino decides to end his amazing career.

But come on QT, you have more to come after The Hateful Eight…right?

QT 3

Quentin Tarantino:As far as I’m concerned, digital projection is the end of cinema. The fact that most films aren’t presented in 35 mm means that the world is lost. Digital projection is just television in cinema. I’m very hopeful that future generations will be much smarter than this generation and realize what they lost.”

Thank you for joining me on my Birthday (dependent on when you read this) and for reading my fanboyism of one of the worlds biggest film fanboys, Mr. Quentin Tarantino.
Now…”let’s go to work”.

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Quentin Tarantino Part II

So here we are, now Quentin found his film-making “soul mate” with Robert Rodriguez and they join forces to make one hell of an overlooked picture.

FR

Four Rooms: An unusual film to say the least. This one was an anthology flick set in a hotel with four separate stories set in “Four Rooms” of the hotel, all connected via the bellboy played by Tim Roth.
Both Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez wrote and directed their own segments within this film.

Tarantino’s story was an absolutely brilliant re-telling of Roald Dahl’s classic short story, The Man From The South. Even if you are already familiar with this story, and you most probably are more aware than you think as the story has been told and re-told many times over the years. Including a version done by Alfred Hitchcock from his TV series as well as the story being the first one ever aired from the TV show, Tales of the Unexpected.
Still, even with an already famous and known story. Quentin Tarantino manages to pull off a unique take on the tale and even bring in a great and hilarious new twist.

Four Rooms is an under appreciated and under praised flick and well worth watching, even if only for Tarantino’s segment alone.

But the Quentin and Robert joining does not end here.

FDTD

From Dusk Till Dawn: Was a collaboration between Quentin and Robert Rodriguez, with Quentin Tarantino not only writing but also taking on a starring role. But this time, directing duties were held by Robert Rodriguez.

From Dusk Till Dawn is a film that if you have no idea what it is about…it’s the best way to watch the film. This is why I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, so much so that I’ll not even use a poster that gives away plot details.
It you have not yet seen From Dusk Till Dawn, just watch this film as blindly as you can, don’t look at the cover, don’t ask friends about it.
Just watch it, it’s awesome and best left unspoiled for you.

Quentin and Robert part ways…only temporarily. As Quentin tackles his next film solo.

JB

Jackie Brown: A throwback to “blaxploitation” cinema of the 70s starring the awesome Pam Grier in the title role.
The film also features Michael Keaton, cast at a time when people were forgetting how he was…but still proves just how much of a great actor he really is.

Jackie Brown is a return to Quentin Tarantino’s roots of films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Being very character based, with a plot that is not as straightforward as it first appears to be.

As the 90s are left behind, we catch up on the 2000s with Quentin Tarantino giving into his love for Kung-Fu/Samurai films.

KB

Kill Bill: Originally filmed as one picture, but split into two “volumes” during post-production.
Kill Bill was a tour de force of classic Kung-Fu/Samurai revenge films. This is Quentin’s “homage” to films like, Lady Snowblood.

Full of bloody, revenge fuelled violence. But also those interesting characters Quentin Tarantino is famous for. This is one of his very best films.

Us fans still await the long promised, Whole Bloody Affair. Which is both “volumes” edited together as originally intended. Quentin Tarantino has been saying is coming for over a decade now.
This cut of the film does exist and has done for many years now, as Quentin himself has shown it several times at film festivals. But still no home release.

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez team up yet again next.

SC

Sin City: OK, I know this is not a film directed by Quentin…though he did direct one scene and does have a directing credit due to this (see poster above), so it’s being included.

The scene Quentin directed was the one involving Dwight and Jackie Boy.
Full of Hitchcock-esque paranoia and suspense, very much put me in mind of Marion driving in her car after stealing the money in Psycho.
The “voices in her head”, the added element of the police following her, etc.

While the scene is pretty much verbatim from the graphic novel the film is based on, it still maintains that Tarantino style. It was also the first time Quentin has shot digitally, as he’s an “old school” film-maker and had always shot on film previously.

Quentin my have only shot 1 scene…but it’s a hell of a great scene in a hell of a great movie.

Sticking with the partnership, Tarantino and Rodriguez indulge in their love for exploitation cinema.

GH

Grindhouse: This film was really more about Quentin and Robert pandering to their own fanboyism. As both directors are huge fans of exploitation cinema.
The whole “Grindhouse” sub genre, which for those not only the know, was a form of low budget films that were relased mainly in the 70s and always heavily used exploitation as it’s selling point. Whether that exploitation be gore, sex, violence, etc.
These films would often be shown in seedy, backstreet cinemas known as Grindhouses. Hence, Grindhouse cinema.

Quentin’s film, Death Proof, in this Grindhouse double bill was a 70s inspired stalker film where the killer used his car to stalk and kill his victims, his “Death Proof” car if you will.

Kurt Russell took on the lead role of Stuntman Mike. A mysterious yet charming man that loves nothing more than stalking young girls and murdering them using his car.
It’s not a complex plot, but as simple and seedy as this film is. It’s still has that unique QT polish.

Quentin flies solo for his next film.

IB

Inglourious Basterds: “This is probably my masterpiece.” Declares Lt. Aldo Raine at the end of this film, many people took that line as being Quentin Tarantino himself saying this film is his masterpiece.
To be fair, it’s hard not to agree. Inglourious Basterds is a genuine masterpiece of film-making.
Brilliant modern twist on the classic WW II action/thriller all wrapped up in Quentin’s own unique style.

An amazing cast lead by Brad Pitt and his “stunning” Italian accent.
Inglourious Basterds is a simply amazing film…and indeed a masterpiece.

DU

Django Unchained: This was Quentin Tarantino showing his love and passion for the classic Western genre, a genre he loves so much he considers The Good, The Bad and the Ugly the “best film ever made.”
Taking an already established character…yes, for those unaware, Django (the D is silent) had already been seen on screen before…over 30 times in fact, though only two were “official”. This was Quentin Tarantino’s take on the legend that is Django.
Even the original Django (Franco Nero) appears in this version in a cameo role.

This ends part II, but join me in part III where I’ll take a quick look at Quentin Tarantino’s up and coming new flick, The Hateful Eight and just offer my own personal views on his work so far and talk about what’s next for Tarantino after his new film.

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