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Superhero Movies As Retirement Home
Where Former Leading Men Become Villains
Hollywood: Recent news that Russell Crowe and Pierce Brosnan have been cast as villains in upcoming superhero movies (Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Adam, respectively), has made me nostalgic for the old days (i.e., the 90s) when indie raw force Crowe was breaking out in Romper Stomper and charming TV star Brosnan was the latest incarnation of James Bond. Crowe is about to turn 56 years of age and Brosnan will be 68 (?!) in June; so this casting turn of events is not surprising.
Crowe tried seeking vengeance in last year’s Unhinged, but his truly pertinent role came as a fatherly superhero in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, followed by his weird embodiment as Henry Jekyll opposite Tom Cruise in the woebegone The Mummy. On screen, he always appears to be a time-bomb waiting to explode, so he should be able to fit in to the latest Thor movie, which calls for a potent balance against the lighter forces that Chris Hemsworth brings to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Black Adam is more of an unknown quantity for most mainstream movie fans, except that it’s a spin-off from Shazam! featuring a supposed antihero in Dwayne Johnson. What will director Jaume Collet-Serra bring to the table? He’s totally capable of delivering a tight action picture, so I imagine that Pierce Brosnan will easily fit into the ensemble; I’m not expecting anything too cartoonish or light. [Variety]
Indie/International: I am happy to wear my hat as ScreenAnarchy Managing Editor proudly and trumpet the news that XYZ Films (which includes ScreenAnarchy founder Todd Brown) has entered into a deal with the filmmakers behind Under the Shadow “to discover, develop and produce projects from first and second-time genre filmmakers from under-represented demographics.” We got a great idea of what to expect from Under the Shadow, which presented a unique view on terrors of the unknown — not really any type of ‘horror’ movie, but it may have drawn those type of comparisons because of its atmosphere, mood, etc. — that have become all too common in the Middle East. The partnership aims to make two to three releases per year, stating with History of Evil, which sounds very promising itself. I think this is an excellent way to bring new voices into the international genre field, and nobody paid me to say that. [Deadline]
Streaming: Last Thursday, Godzilla (2014; d. Gareth Edwards) became available on HBO Max, joining fellow Monsterverse installments Kong: Skull Island (2017; d. Jordan Vogt-Roberts) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019; d. Michael Dougherty). I’ve watched all three again in the past week, my first revisit of those titles since I first saw them in theaters. Of these, I thought Godzilla was quite bold at the time and Kong: Skull Island was only OK, but my impressions have flipped on those two, while my view of Godzilla: King of the Monsters has slipped further. Each carries something to recommend, though I was surprised that the reduction in screen size did nothing to alter my view of each film; it was the dramatic effect that mattered most to me.
HBO Max also carries a bunch of previous Godzilla titles, which are probably licensed through the Criterion Collection; sister streaming service Criterion Channel still carries a bunch of Godzilla films. Of these, I’ve only seen a handful, beside the masterful and haunting original Godzilla (Japanese version), so I decided to sample one before Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong is released in the U.S. this Wednesday, in theaters and on HBO Max.
The oldie I picked at random was Jun Fukuda’s Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), which features a lot of setup and a story about alien insect creatures coming to Earth disguised as humans so they can take over the world. This is fine, and it’s generally light and enjoyable, and eventually we come to the extended sequences of model destruction, which is as glorious as I would have expected/anticipate. If I can, I hope to catch up with as many of the old Godzilla films as possible; they certainly serve as balance to the monstrous antics I am expecting from the new monster mash. [My friend James Marsh lists his Top 10 Godzilla films in his hometown newspaper, which will now serve as my guide.]