Victor Frankenstein Is Not Alive, Is Not Alive, Is Not Alive
Victor Frankenstein is a movie mostly about Frankenstein failing to create his monster.By Bilge Ebiri
Ben Affleck is very aware people are looking forward to his forthcoming Batman v Superman — and to whether it will be any good. So much so, the actor's not even trying to hide the nerves tied to unspooling such a popular undertaking. "There is a ton of pressure on it," Affleck told Variety recently, as part of a story on Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara. "I mean I would be bullshitting you to say there isn't."
“You know this story. A crack of lightning. A mad genius. An unholy creation.” Those are the words that start off Victor Frankenstein. They’re repeated at the very end, at which point you might be muttering to yourself, “If only we’d seen that story instead.” A catastrophic miscalculation of a movie, Victor Frankenstein is a perfect example of a Hollywood revision that, in trying to outsmart an original, reveals what worked about said original in the first place.
The Good Dinosaur has as its premise two witty reversals of the kind Pixar has become known for: What if the asteroid that allegedly hit the Earth 65 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs missed our planet; and what if, millions of years after that near-miss, the still-extant dinosaurs had become civilized, and the humans were the wild animals that had to be domesticated? The resulting film is amiable, pretty, and charming in all the right ways — even if it ultimately settles for a fairly typical tale of a late bloomer finding his way.
There will inevitably come a point during the Thanksgiving holiday when, despite the love you have for your family, you'll just need some time to yourself. So why not spend it in the comfort of a cool, dark movie theater or on a chaise lounge with your laptop? (You could theoretically include the whole family, whom you really do love, in this plan, though the chaise may get crowded.) Anticipating your needs, we have compiled a list of view-worthy films that are currently in cinemas across the country or available with VOD. (For older movies, be sure to check out the list of movies about to leave Netflix on December 1.) Grab some lukewarm turkey leftovers and enjoy.
Spike Lee stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to discuss his upcoming film Chi-Raq. The film, a modern adaptation of Aristophones' Lysistrata, depicts women from Chicago denying men in their city sex to stop gang violence. Lee, confident his film will be shown on every college campus in America, shared with Colbert that he thinks there will be sex strikes on campuses following Christmas. Lee said that much like the protests at the University of Missouri, "a sex strike could really work on college campuses where there’s an abundance of sexual harassment and date rapes." Keeping in mind that by definition, rape doesn't need permission, that's some bold soothsaying.
Sci-fi fandom's tradition of being chill and welcoming to women continued this week when Fox News contributor Katherine Timpf began receiving death threats for making fun of Star Wars fans. Timpf was appearing on the network's satirical early-morning chat show Red Eye last month when she started talking about previous harassment she'd received at the hands of Star Wars diehards. "I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space-nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now," she joked. "You people are crazy ... Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive — people threatened my life."
Cue the trumpet fanfare; it’s a Rocky movie. No, wait, hold those trumpets, at least for now. Creed is not that kind of Rocky movie. It’s not quite Rocky VII, and not just because Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa is old and on the sidelines, ceding the spotlight to a young African-American boxer played by Michael B. Jordan. Two years ago, its director, Ryan Coogler, collaborated with Jordan on Fruitvale Station, which depicted the senseless death of a 22-year-old black man named Oscar Grant at the hands of a Bay Area policeman. That’s one kind of story, one vital way of framing the world through African-American male eyes alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and Black Lives Matter. Creed is another. It’s a Hollywood story, which Coogler gets: He even gives his protagonist — the illegitimate son of ex-heavyweight champion Apollo Creed — the initially derisive nickname “Hollywood.” But Creed represents a kind of Hollywood fantasy that doesn’t have to be specious, focusing on pride, determination, self-control, hard work, and forging one’s own identity. Movies don’t always have to be “how things are.” When they’re as warm and rousing as Creed, they can be “how we want to make things.”
Parents of goyish tweens are already familiar with the yearly ritual of their children finally showing an ounce of love and affection once the presents come out on December 25. Now, EW reports that Christmas has come early for these parents: Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be rated PG-13 — only the second Star Wars film, after Revenge of the Sith, not to be rated PG — which means those ungrateful little bastards will have to butter up the parental units even more next month if they want to get tickets to see their space heroes go fly around with aliens or some shit.
Last month, in conversation with Bret Easton Ellis for T magazine, Quentin Tarantino discussed Ava DuVernay, saying, "She did a really good job on Selma but Selma deserved an Emmy." Tarantino later clarified that he'd never actually seen Selma, and that his comments weren't meant to be a slight but rather a comparison to a TV movie of a different era. Nearly two months later, DuVernay has deemed his quote worthy of a response. She tells THR, "I was surprised by how surprised everyone was. When you look at his work and his persona, there's nothing surprising about what he said. But it didn't bother me like so many assumed it would." That is expert shade. Let's examine.
If there's one silver lining to Hollywood's incessant string of sequels and remakes, it's that the moral arc of franchises bends toward progressivism. For instance, the Men in Black franchise, which has been exactly as male-heavy as its name implies, seems likely to get its first female heroine with its next installment. As producer Laurie Macdonald tells the BBC, "There will be a prominent woman in black in the fourth [MIB film]." Macdonald cautions that the film is still "quite early" in development, but hints it will be "a reinvention" that moves the series away from the Agent J–Agent K relationship. (The film will reportedly also share a universe with the 21 Jump Street franchise, of all things.) Of Will Smith's rumored absence, Macdonald says only, "Never count Will out." If he's out, will this new female heroine be paid the same for wiping the same number of memories?
Jimmy Kimmel had Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans on his show Tuesday to unspool the very first Civil War trailer, and it's just as intense and semi-confusing as you want it to be. The Russo brothers' film features Evans, RDJ, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Sebastian Stan, Tom Holland (though noticeably not in this trailer), and Chadwick Boseman (noticeably here!), among many others, all suited up for one big Marvel disagreement. Watch above as Cap puts a bro before other bros, and let the countdown to May 6 begin.
Marvel's Jessica Jones introduces the titular character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with Luke Cage, who'll have his own series next year. But as always with comic-book film and television adaptations, there are plenty of other heroes and villains hiding in plain sight on Jessica Jones. There are also characters with wildly different backstories than the ones we see onscreen, starting with our heroine, Jessica, who actually tried out the masked-avenger thing in the comics before she ultimately became a private investigator ...
Your dad Tom Hanks went on The Graham Norton Show this week, and while he was there, he broke out his favorite party trick: Without any encouragement whatsoever, he launched into the opening verse from "City of Crime," the rap song he recorded with Dan Aykroyd to promote the 1987 Dragnet movie. And, as you grudgingly admitted while watching the whole thing through your hands, his rendition was actually pretty flawless! It's like mama always said: You never forget your first novelty rap single.
Were you under the impression that being a glamorous Hollywood big shot is a fun and easy way to have an emotionally fulfilling life? Not so, says Terrence Malick! The official trailer for the director's Knight of Cups is out, and it makes Los Angeles look like a gut-wrenching Boschian hellscape. Even including The Machinist, this is the least fun being Christian Bale has ever looked.
One of Oscar season’s biggest question marks, the survival drama The Revenant, finally screened for press in Los Angeles last night. Reviews for the film are still embargoed for several days, but awards-season analysis is not, and given that the film is made by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the man who directed last year’s Best Picture winner, Birdman, expectations were running high. So, which Oscar categories could this mammoth movie factor into? We’ll break down the races and their odds below.
Perhaps it's fitting that in director Billy Ray's time-spanning thriller Secret in Their Eyes, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a dogged FBI investigator pursuing one unsolved murder case for 13 years: After all, Ejiofor's Hollywood career started 13 years ago, too, after his star-making role in 2002's Dirty Pretty Things put him on every acclaimed auteur's radar. Since then, Ejiofor has toplined a Best Picture winner with 12 Years a Slave, in addition to starring in movies both intimate and major, including this year's major hit The Martian.We met up with Ejiofor recently in Los Angeles (where the actor was so well-rested and fresh-faced that you'd never know he just flew in from the South Asian set of Marvel's new movie Doctor Strange), and asked him about his carefully considered career and the frenzy inspired by his friend Benedict Cumberbatch.
The kindest thing to be said about the high-toned transgender weeper The Danish Girl is that by the time it ends it can serve as a decent liberal corrective to a century of reactionary demon-possession movies. Eddie Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, an acclaimed Copenhagen painter circa 1926 who discovers — after slipping into stockings and a dress to pose for his painter wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), when her model is late — that there’s someone else inside him and her name is Lili. In the standard horror formulation, Lili’s threat to swallow Einar from the inside would need to be thwarted by the Church and/or the power of love, or else the LiliMonster would triumph and return in seven sequels. In The Danish Girl, Gerda is certainly devastated by the loss of her husband and, at her most vulnerable, begs Lili for access to Einar. But it is finally Einar who needs to be exorcised, surgically, on the grounds that God (or Whomever) cocked the whole gender thing up.
Remember all those uncomfortable feelings you had after watching Disney's Robin Hood and realizing you were crushing on an animated fox? Be prepared to feel them again: The studio just released the first teaser for its upcoming Zootopia, and what creature should be starring in it but another anthropomorphic fox? So roguish, so vulpine!
Victor Frankenstein is a movie mostly about Frankenstein failing to create his monster.By Bilge Ebiri
The Good Dinosaur immerses us in a world in which a primordial vision of nature becomes tactile.By Bilge Ebiri
Movies don’t always have to be “how things are.” When they’re as warm and rousing as Creed, they can be “how we want to make things.”By David Edelstein
Hooper can’t manage to put us inside his characters’ heads — where we should be in a story that makes every surface suspect.By David Edelstein