Everything Wrong with Cinema Sins

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about about anything and everything. In this edition: director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is fed up with Cinema Sins and we’re with him.)

Do you remember Cinema Sins? They’re the YouTube channel who puts together those “Everything Wrong with…” videos that point out what they think are mistakes in movies. We used to run them because for awhile they were harmless and amusing. But after awhile, they became far too self-indulgent, opting to point out things in a movie that weren’t really “wrong” with a title in question, but lame musings where the writer felt like desperately trying to be clever. That’s why we stopped running them with the exception of an appearance every now and then, accompanied by a single line, in our Superhero Bits column.

It turns out we’re not the only ones who are frustrated by Cinema Sins. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts recently decided to unleash hellfire upon Cinema Sins after they took aim at his latest film, Kong: Skull Island. However, he’s not mad about criticism of his movie in general, but rather what Cinema Sins has come to represent and how it dumbs down film criticism and culture while masquerading as satire.

Find out what Jordan Vogt-Roberts had to say about Cinema Sins below. Read More »

AMC Theatres Banning MoviePass

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about about anything and everything. In this edition: AMC’s plan to block MoviePass is utterly moronic.)

Yesterday, some great news came for moviegoers. MoviePass announced that their movie theater ticket subscription service that has flown mostly under the radar since launching in 2011 was looking to increase its customer base in a big way by only charging $9.95 a month, regardless of where you live or how many movies you see using the service.

However, if you frequent AMC Theatres locations, MoviePass might not be beneficial to you for very long. At least if the executives behind the United States’ largest chain of movie theaters has their way. Not long after MoviePass announced their new price point and intentions to grow their customer base, AMC Theatres released a scathing statement saying, “AMC is consulting with its attorneys to determine if or how AMC can prevent a subscription program offered by MoviePass from being used at AMC Theatres in the United States.”

The long and short of it: AMC Theatres banning MoviePass is stupid. Let’s dig in. Read More »

fragile masculinity of the mcu

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: a dissection of the fragile masculinity of Marvel movies, the overlooked homoeroticism of superhero stories, and how everyone can do better.)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether you realize it or not, it’s considered one of the biggest pop culture institutions defining modern American manhood. Heroes like Captain America, the Falcon, Iron Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, and Thor are considered red-blooded, hypermasculine American men (despite Thor’s role as a Norse god), and even outer space heroes like Star-Lord and lower-rung Avengers like Ant-Man evoke the ideals of fanboy manhood through snarkiness and Teflon attitude.

But all of this is really just a façade for a bubbling societal fear. These characters are archetypes for the fragile masculinity that affects too many men in America. That fear of not being “masculine” enough leads to misogyny, self-loathing, fear of homosexuality, and, at its most extreme, the deaths of gay and trans people (usually trans women).

I can already feel you getting overwhelmed, so let me scale this discussion back a bit to look at the small picture: Marvel and Disney. How does Marvel and Disney’s beloved MCU perpetuate this idea of fragile masculinity? How does it affect their audience? And, most importantly, what can they do to stop the cycle? Take a journey with me as I pick apart the MCU, its men, and why Marvel and Disney shouldn’t be afraid to show them as the vulnerable, soft-hearted human beings they actually are.

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planet of the apes prequel titles

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: the titles of the Planet of the Apes movies are in the wrong order and it’s. Driving. Us. Crazy.)

The Planet of the Apes reboot franchise is many things — stunning technological achievements, emotionally resonant storytelling, and testaments to genre filmmaking. But one thing they just can’t get right are the dang titles.

A title serves as people’s first impression of a movie and presents the general themes of what that film will be about. But when the titles don’t match with the content of the movie, people aren’t going to remember what the hell it was about. As for the Planet of the Apes films, as accomplished and incredible as they are, I cannot for the life of me remember what order they are supposed to be in.

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war for the planet of the apes reaction

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why an otherwise very good movie like War For the Planet of the Apes suffers from being indebted to other movies.)

War For the Planet of the Apes is a stunning capper to one of the greatest blockbuster trilogies ever. The reviews have flowed in praising the sci-fi film’s emotional heft and mind-blowing use of technology — our own review on /Film gave it a rare 10 out of 10 — and I can agree that it’s an example of the best of its genre.

And like many sci-fi genre films these days, War For the Planet of the Apes relied heavily on homages and parallels to popular genres of the past, from Westerns to Biblical epics. It seems to be a signifier of any intellectual blockbuster nowadays — how nimbly can they transform an established movie genre and appeal to the audiences’ esteem of the genre to which they’re paying homage? War For the Planet of the Apes is not the first nor the last to do this, and it does it marvelously. But are sci-fi blockblusters limiting themselves by giving deference to other genres before them?

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Cars 3

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why the world of Pixar’s Cars series, and the fan theories it inspires, are so frustrating.)

With a new Cars movie racing into theaters this week (Do you get it? “Racing”? Because Lightning McQueen is a race car; it’s funny because he races, just like the movie is racing into theaters), it’s time once again to revive that dormant question that has persisted for just over a decade. How exactly does the so-called “world of Cars” work? There are few answers within the movies themselves, so a few ideas have sprung up online. Have the cars adopted the personalities of their last human drivers? Did sentient cars take over the world, sending humans off on a massive intergalactic cruise ship for centuries? Did humans literally turn into cars? These theories have all gained a level of traction (Do you get it? Traction! I made another car-based pun!), while also remaining utterly ridiculous.

To be fair, I have previously written about my distaste for cinematic fan theories, few of which are more well-known than the Pixar Theory. But today, I come not to bury the Pixar Theory, or any of those other Cars-related theories; I come to empathize with them. I do genuinely think that each of the theories mentioned in the previous paragraph are utterly silly, and that a glut of such theorizing can do great harm to film discourse at large. But specific to the fan theories zooming around Cars (“Zooming”! I made another pun!), which will inevitably kick up again after Cars 3 opens this Friday, there’s a big question worth exploring: why do people feel the urge to crack the code of whatever’s going on in the Cars movies? While some other big mainstream films can inspire fan theories, such as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, why is it that the Cars movies have led to all manner of conspiracy-style ideas?

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It Comes at Night misleading trailer

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: the excellent marketing for It Comes at Night is doing the movie a disservice.)

The trailers for It Comes at Night have been magnificent and the folks at A24 (or whoever they employed to edit them) should be commended. Each preview has evoked a menace and a terror rarely found in horror movie marketing. I have watched as that trailer made entire audiences grow tense. I have felt my wife, a huge horror fan, nudge me in the side, her non-verbal way of saying “take me to see that, please.”

Removed from the trailers, It Comes at Night is an excellent movie and writer/director Trey Edward Shults, his cast, and his crew should also be commended. In a summer filled with bombastic blockbusters, it’s a disturbing, patient, and upsetting experience that crawls under your skin and festers. It’s the kind of movie that will find an audience – people who will want to talk about it for some time to come.

But here’s the thing: It Comes at Night, while certainly worth your time and money, is not the movie A24 is selling. At all. In any way. And that’s not going to sit well with some audiences.

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Sony clean version

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: Sony’s new clean version initiative is a stupid and bad idea.)

Sony Pictures has announced a “Clean Version” initiative that will present edited versions of some of the studio’s films for home video purchases. To be fair, the new censored version won’t replace the regular theatrical version, but will instead be added on as an extra bonus feature. But you know that slippery slope you’re always hearing about? Editing content to make it more appropriate for families is teetering right on the edge of it.
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final pirates of the caribbean movie

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: studios are blaming critics for their summertime woes and that’s stupid.)

Just a month into the 2017 summer movie season, it’s safe to say that things have been rough. May began with a major bright spot, the delightful and exciting Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, which was welcomed with critical acclaim and has surpassed the 2014 original at the box office. After that, there were stumbles: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the first in a proposed six-film franchise, has tanked; Alien: Covenant is likely not going to top $100 million at the domestic box office; and this past Memorial Day Weekend, both Baywatch and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales underperformed and were met with critical pans. This week, we have the (so far) critically praised Wonder Woman to look forward to, and later this summer, we’ll get a new Edgar Wright film, Christopher Nolan’s next epic, the latest Planet of the Apes entry, and more anticipated studio offerings. But for now, big movies are struggling.

Who or what is to blame? Are audiences just not responding to these attempts at franchise-building or franchise-restarting? Are people holding out to see other summer movies? If you ask some industry insiders, it’s a much more terrifying specter: critics. (Cue the horror-movie music.)

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female superhero movie directors

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: will the existence of Wonder Woman count as a victory for all female filmmakers and fans…or just some of them?)

We’re less than a week away from one of the most important theatrical releases this year, Wonder Woman, and the excitement for it just shows the staggering level of dedication for the decades-old brand and the power of women audiences. But not just women audiences; male viewers who can’t resist watching comic book narratives on the big screen, and powerful, scantily clad women characters they can never get. I guess that’s what studios mean when they say that it’s got something for everyone.

Like most women-led movies, of the superhero persuasion or otherwise, there’s an urgency around the film. Gal Gadot will solidify her status as a bonafide action star after this, and Patty Jenkins has bragging rights for being the first woman director to helm a superhero film since Lexi Alexander directed Punisher: War Zone almost 10 years ago. The rhetoric is if we don’t support this achievement with our dollars, we may never see another women-centric film ever again. Jenkins will be forced to go on a 12-year “hiatus” from the industry, and Gadot may have to find a way to get her character from the Fast and Furious movies resurrected from the dead (which isn’t so unusual for that franchise). Basically, the stakes are high. It is women who’ve been leading this Wonder Woman march, demanding all of our support and activism around it. I, along with many other women from various walks of life, am more than eager to pick up our gear and step in line. Because, as we’ve been told countless times, a win for one woman is a win for all of us. Right?

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