Tag Archives: Superman

Failed Critics Podcast: Blair Witch or Killer B*tch

blair-witch-2016

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast. Proving that they’re not just a pair of losers with no friends, hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are back again but this time Paul Field and Tony Black join them.

As ever the podcast kicks off with a quiz, this week hosted by Steve, that puts the Failed Critics’ soap knowledge to the test, before they move on to What We’ve Been Watching. Paul makes a bold declaration that Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden is the Oldboy director’s best film yet; Steve also takes a trip to Korean cinema with zombie-thriller Train to Busan; Tony reaches peak noughties teen melodrama as he continues his run-through of Smallville; and Owen laments ever letting Paul know his address after receiving a copy of British gangster-exploitation flick Killer Bitch in the post.

The big new release this week for the team to chew over is Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard’s eagerly anticipated Blair Witch, the sequel to the iconic cult classic, The Blair Witch Project in case you were wondering. It also leads to the second quiz of the week, with Paul surprising the other three with a game of ‘Bitch’ or ‘Witch’!

Join us again next week for a special triple bill of our favourite westerns as The Magnificent Seven remake hits the silver screen.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Batman v Superman v Critics

b v s

It might not be the podcast you wanted, but it’s the podcast you deserve. It’s the proper critics in one corner, the audience in another corner, and your hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes with special guests Brian Plank and Andrew Brooker in the other corner. The final corner is where Sad Ben Affleck is hanging his head in disappointment, next to Henry Cavill’s pile of gold.

That’s right, this week we’re reviewing DC’s latest $250m mega-blockbuster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Divisive amongst those who’ve watched it, as well as on this episode. We’ve a full spoiler-free review where the team discuss everything they liked (mainly Batfleck) and didn’t like without giving away much, before Spoiler Alert Returns towards the end.

Also on this episode: Owen reviews freshly released found-footage horror JeruZalem (that’s with a capital ‘Z’ and no lower case ‘s’); Brian prepares for Zack Snyder’s superhero movie in the only way he knew how… by watching Kramer vs Kramer…; Brooker revisits Failed Critics favourite Kill Your Friends; and Steve finally catches up with our third best film of last year, Disney Pixar’s Inside Out.

Join us again next week for any episode that’s probably not going to be 50% comic book oriented.

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Marvel vs DC: The Episodes

Punisher Daredevil Elektra

“I’m not here to threaten you, I’m here to kill you.”

Over the last couple of days, the world (and the heads of quite a few fanboys) have exploded with this Batman v Superman lark. As everyone tries to shout their theory about who would win and why, I want to bring up a slightly quieter little fight that’s been going on in our homes; less a one-on-one versus match, and more a battle royal for the ages. I’m talking, of course, about the DC and Marvel television universes.

Kicking off some 15 years ago, Warner Brothers fired the first shots when it brought probably the most successful comic book to TV adaptation to date to the small screen. Smallville was the story of young Clark Kent growing up in a little town in Kansas trying to – literally – find his place in the world. We spent ten years with young master Kent from high school to his time at the Daily Planet. Even as the ratings started to drop, it was much more successful for Warner than that bloody awful Superman Returns was.

With the rise of Smallville, everyone wanted a piece of the pie and it meant we, the viewing public, were subjected to some of the most awful cash-in TV that we’ve ever had to suffer with. Do we remember the terrible Gotham City set Birds of Prey? Or the ghastly Human Target? Warner and DC seemed to be happy to hope that some of the shit they threw at the wall would stick.

It didn’t. But they weren’t alone; Marvel tried to bring a film property they’d just screwed royally back to TV and make a few quid. Oh Blade, how I tried to love you. But you were so, so bad. Sticky Fingaz – yes, that’s his name – is an okay actor, he was great in The Shield, but as the vampire hunting day walker, man he was bad.

Fast forward a few years and we have found ourselves in an amazing little time in television. Hiding behind the super-high budget HBO style TV that gets accolade after accolade, is a slew of cool TV based on comic book properties both famous and not-so famous and what I’m going to do is put them head-to-head, Dawn of Justice style. Ok, I’m going to put some of them head-to-head – mainly because I’ve not watched iZombie and can’t really see myself doing so anytime soon.


Gotham (DC – 2014) vs. Powers (Marvel – 2015)

Let’s kick things off with the two shows that, while they are based on DC and Marvel properties, don’t really have much in the way of backing from those companies. Produced by Fox and Sony respectively, with the latter being available exclusively to American PlayStation Network customers, these are the two biggest risks, in my opinion, to their production companies.

Bat-baby vs a weird anti-Heroes/Alien Nation thing that never did quite get off the ground for me. Gotham‘s focus on a young Detective Gordon as the scum of the Batman comics rise from the dirt and make themselves known is brilliantly compelling TV that still keeps me glued week in, week out. Powers, on the other hand, was a flat attempt at getting a foot in the door of an already saturated film and television market. I could only bring myself to waste a couple of hours of my life with it before I had to give up.

Winner: Gotham


Supergirl (DC – 2015) vs. Jessica Jones (Marvel – 2015)

Yes, I’m pitching the girls against each other. No, it’s not out of any kind of agenda outside of I couldn’t decide who to put up against who. Anyways…

Supergirl is probably the closest we’ve gotten to having the success that Smallville saw replicated and forced upon us. The story of Superman’s long lost cousin, Kara Zor-El, a girl sent to protect a young Kal-El who, after a twist of fate arrives on Earth long after he has become the Man of Steel is a sadly boring one. We tried, we honestly did. We broke our “three episodes and out” rule trying to find good TV but the show came up short. I couldn’t care less about the characters on screen, the story they are telling or anything else to do with that show, frankly.

On the other hand, Marvel’s Jessica Jones is the dark and twisted tale of a woman struggling to get out of an abusive relationship with a person who uses their powers for nothing but evil. Essentially an investigative journalism drama with super strength and some pretty hilarious sex scenes. Jones divided audiences when she hit Netflix last year, but she’s definitely the stronger of the two here.

Winner : Jessica Jones


Legends of Tomorrow (DC – 2016) vs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Marvel – 2013)

DC’s ensemble spin-off, rolling in a few characters from its big sister shows (and a really crap Iron Man wannabe) isn’t really far enough in to make a judgement yet, but the episodes I watched have just been uninspired dross, playing off of the success of the shows that spawned it and not really living up to them, yet. I admit, I will probably let it go on a little longer before I give up, but it definitely needs to up its game.

Marvel’s offering isn’t doing itself any favours either. Basically doing the same thing as Legends of Tomorrow, it’s a massive ensemble piece loading in all those lesser known superheroes from the Marvel universe into a little sardine tin of X-Files style monster of the week episodes and Cinematic Universe Easter eggs. I gave up on this before the first season was done.

Winner: Neither of them. They’re both as pants as each other.


The Flash (DC – 2014) vs. Agent Carter (Marvel – 2015)

DC’s ultimate marathon runner didn’t grab me at first. I thought the show was a bit too Saturday morning cartoon-ish and honestly, I only continued to watch it because it shared a universe with Arrow. I’ll give The Flash its due, it’s a fun little show and it’s decent TV. But seasons seem to sag in the middle with writers seemingly not able to keep the pace up with 22 episode seasons. I don’t hate it, I just wish it was more engaging, more of the time.

Peggy Carter, on the other hand, and her fun little slice of World War II espionage drama, aside from keeping seasons to a brisk 8 and 10 episodes, never failed to be interesting. The story of her double life of secretary by day and investigator by night is woefully underrated. While a third season seems unlikely, the show’s first two seasons are well worth your time.

Winner: Agent Carter – and it has nothing, whatsoever, to do with me loving Hayley Atwell a little bit.


Arrow (DC – 2012) vs. Daredevil (Marvel – 2015)

Here we are ladies and gentlemen. The main event of the evening.

I knew absolutely nothing about The Green Arrow when this series first started, but seeing as it was the first of these shows I gave it a shot. And I really enjoyed it, for a year and a half! I gave up not far into season two and had to be convinced to try it again and stick it out because it improves (and plays as a soft-pilot for The Flash) and so I did. And I loved it. One of the few shows that we watch every week religiously and getting towards the end of season four, it’s still decent. Dodgy mate wearing cheap knock-off Judge Dredd helmet aside.

Now, Daredevil, man. Didn’t we all think this would be dog shit? Yeah, we did. Netflix’s first attempt at getting into Marvel’s universe was dark, brooding, violent; everything the MCU isn’t. And we loved it. With one of the greatest and most terrifying bad guys ever put to screen in Wilson Fisk in season one, Daredevil instantly solidified itself as one of the best TV shows to date, and may that stay true for years to come.

Winner: A solid draw. Both are great TV shows.


Preacher (DC – 2016) vs. Luke Cage (Marvel -2016)

Battle of the upcoming shows? Preacher is the dark and violent DC comic book that AMC are producing. Due in a couple of months, DC seem to be trying their hand at the dark and twisted stuff, while giving it to the Breaking Bad producing AMC to show distance if it fails. I’m certainly intrigued and going in open minded. We can but hope.

Luke Cage, on the other hand, the super strong and indestructible bar owner first introduced in last year’s Jessica Jones looks like it might be the most “fun” of all the Netflix adaptations. Roll on September, this is gonna be a hell of a fight.

Winner: Only time will tell.


Honourable Mentions:

No list like this would be complete without a few “also rans” that either didn’t fit, didn’t make the cut or no-one has heard of. DC’s spin-off of a spin-off Lucifer doesn’t seem to be getting much traction. Which is a crying shame, it’s great television, with a Constantine type feel to it, I fear it’ll suffer the same fate as the Hellblazer adaptation.

The Marvel side of things only has one thing worth mentioning, as far as I am concerned. The rumoured Netflix show that’ll give Daredevil season two’s Frank Castle the spotlight he deserves. Another Punisher movie would certainly be welcome, but the Punisher by Netflix? That would be all my dreams come true.

Overall winner:

Us. The TV watching audience. Because for the most part, this is some damn good television. Competition breeds excellence. Long may it continue.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

This isn’t the film you wanted, but it’s the film you deserve.

I’ve seen that line totted out recently in relation to Zack Snyder’s latest offering in the newly established DC cinematic universe. Often by folks that I’m dubious as to their claims of having actually seen the movie yet.

Nevertheless, to quote Steve Coogan’s fantastic fictionalised autobiography I, Partridge, as an adolescent Alan is called ‘Smelly Alan Fartridge’ by his school tormenters, it’s a line that is “about 3% as clever as it thinks it is”. Or I guess maybe it’s 1%. But if there’s a 1% chance, then it should be taken as an absolute certainty, right?

It’s mainly a statement repeated in relation to the bleak, cold, depressing realisation of the world that Superman – and now also apparently his nemesis Batman – inhabits, where humour, warmth and vibrant colour are secondary to moody, dreary greys, suspicion, paranoia and snarling teeth.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t an AC/DC soundtracked flash of electric-blue, pyjama-clad heroes, comic-book niceness. Nor does it ever try to be anything but what it is. Nor should it even try to be anything else.

This is a place, as established in 2013’s divisive blockbuster Man of Steel, where an alien descended from a dying world to be raised amongst us, as one of us, to love us and protect us until he was old enough to decide whether to make the ultimate sacrifice to save us from ourselves/angry aliens. By, er, destroying half of the largest city in the US during a fist fight with said angry alien that resulted in thousands of collateral deaths. Deaths that an angry billionaire human dressed in a bat costume now wants to avenge. As does another psychotic billionaire by the name of Lex Luthor, with slightly more suspect motivations.

If the unremittingly desperate and sullen tone for this first live-action, big screen clash between DC’s iconic superheroes is what we deserve, then I’m OK with that. It sure as Hell is exactly how I wanted it to be in a number of different ways.

That isn’t to say the whole movie is exactly what I wanted from Snyder’s second foray into the often unforgiving spectrum of comicbook fanboy elitism. Just as Man of Steel left millions of steaming big blue boy scout fans loudly exclaiming “that’s not my Superman”, as if that was at all relevant, then just wait until the masses get ahold of the virtually unrecognisable character traits of their beloved caped crusader. If the internet could be fitted with a blast screen, now would be the time to assemble it.

The Dark Knight has always been, well, dark. Cracking bones, smashing skulls, practically crippling criminals for the rest of their life, all in the name of justice as he carefully tiptoes along the delicate line of his moral conscience, never straying into the territory that there’s no coming back from. But here, there are some rather extreme and remorseless attacks by the Bat that will please fans wanting a more grown up comic book film, as well as pop a few pulsating veins on the temples of outraged viewers.

Personally, I think it’s precious to perceive only one possible interpretation of a character that has seen hundreds of writers and dozens of actors portray him. Who’s to say that the kooky Adam West version is not the definitive creation? Or what about Tim Burton’s criminal-burning take in Batman Returns? Why not use Frank Miller’s portrayal of a grizzled old Bruce as the only measure?

The best versions of Batman in the comics in recent years have been, to my mind, when he went insane during Grant Morrison’s series that began a decade ago this year, and in writer Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run – when it wasn’t even Bruce Wayne who was Batman, it was Dick Grayson. So really, it just doesn’t matter which you prefer, or what you think makes Batman the character he is; there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of representations of the character that are as valid as each other. This movie is no exception to that rule.

However, I feel like I’m explaining myself around the issues with this movie, of which there are plenty. Much like when George Clooney put on the cape and cowl (and nipple-plate), it’s hard to separate Ben Affleck from Bruce Wayne. Maybe that’s an unfair criticism as it’s a fine performance, but whenever he’s out of the mask, it’s hard to see past Ben Affleck. He also acts the chops off of his opposite number, with Henry Cavill caught in the headlights of a crash-bang-wallop barnstorming Batman movie where he is playing second fiddle in what should be his sequel. His story. His character’s atonement.

Ignorance is not the same as innocence, or so we’re told, which leaves the film to question how the red-caped Übermensch can continue to separate his private life from that of his heroic exploits. A hole was ripped through the centre of the planet not 18 months ago thanks in no small part to his own quest for knowledge, yet here he his saving children from burning buildings and being heralded as a messiah. I would not be the first person to scratch my head at the hypocrisies of the DC universe, but it at least tries to answer some of the questions it poses. Admittedly, Democracy v Superman would probably not have been a snappy title for the film.

And therein lies its biggest issue. I do like Man of Steel. Very much. In fact, Thursday evening, I saw a double-bill of it followed by a Batman v Superman midnight screening, and quite happily endured it. The dialogue is blunt, to the point and often without ambiguity, but the narrative structure combined with the character development of the wandering drifter Clark Kent, discovering his true identity as Kal-El, and subsequent trial by fire at the hands of Michael Shannon’s exceptional performance as General Zod; the more I see it, the more I like it. The religious symbolism is perhaps heavy handed as he floats off into space in his Jesus Christ pose to save the Earth, but there’s depth beyond merely a superhero smashing a villain’s face in. Zod’s pitiful plea and loss of identity, or his “soul” as he claims, at a time where a triumphant Clark struts across a city blown to smithereens to victory-snog his girlfriend; its complexities are frequently lost in a tide of criticism because it just happens to take place during a mass of CGI destruction. I hesitate to make further comparisons between the two, but compared to some of Marvel’s third-act fight sequences (The Incredible Hulk, Age of Ultron and Thor: The Dark World to name but a few) which serve absolutely no narrative purpose other than “beat-the-baddie”, it just further increases my opinion that it is a vastly underrated movie.

Now, Batman v Superman, as you might expect, spends forever building towards a climactic fight sequence between (you guessed it) Batman and Superman. By contrast, yes it looks cool and yes Snyder’s fingerprints are all over it, but it is as shallow as a paddling pool during a hose-pipe ban. It merely gives the fans what they think they want and not what they deserve.

I’m not going to spoil who wins the fight for you! Needless to say, the victor was inevitable. And yes, the allegories to religion, domestic and international terrorism threats, and playing God, are all there. But they are in much broader strokes than seen previously.

As for the rest of the 2.5 hour run time, a huge proportion of it is a confusing, sprawling mess that I kept trying to pretend was still good, like a buttered piece of toast that had fallen on the kitchen floor. Alas, you could probably scrape it off and it’d still be edible, but why would you? There’s bound to still be a mystery hair or unrecognisable piece of grit to crunch sickeningly between your teeth. What I’m getting at with this confused, sprawling metaphor, is that you can dust off all the crap from Batman v Superman and see just the delicious slice of warm toast underneath, but as you chew, you will secretly feel a little ashamed and embarrassed.

There’s just one dream within a dream sequence too many for my tastes. There’re more Easter eggs littering this film, distracting from what should be an interesting concept of man vs God, than you will find in the Sainsbury’s Petrol Station reduced isle next week. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is a passenger whose presence merely exists to pay fan-service for the Trinity and set up future Justice League movies so the other two can get on with battering each other.

I’m not going to sit here and say that the fault with Batman v Superman is that they didn’t follow the blueprint so successfully laid out by Marvel. I do not subscribe to that theory at all. The Marvel blueprint was laid out to make the audience more susceptible to expanded movie universes, that doesn’t mean DC, by not copying the exact format of individual introduction movies building to a crossover event, have failed. What will make Batman v Superman a relative failure is the cramming of about seven different story strands (that I counted) into one single film. It’s convoluted and each one (or maybe two or three together) would have been better served if held back for individual movies.

That, plus Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was either incredibly poor casting, or the right casting for the wrong film. His twitching peculiarities and eccentric ranting about his father only weaken what should make a menacing focal point for the story. He’s a raving lunatic with an unoriginal fiendish plot to, I don’t know, get in the way, or something. He shouldn’t have been in this film. Or, rather, it should have been Batman or Lex Luthor.

The rest of the supporting cast are as expected. Laurence Fishburne returns as Daily Planet head-honcho Perry White to probably the highest degree of competence out of the lot. Folks worried about Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s casting as Thomas Wayne, concerned it might mean yet another origin story, need not panic as his role is squished into a Watchmen-esque opening segment. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is not as integral to the plot as she should be, although her performance is slightly more assured this time around. Jeremy Irons as Alfred is just Jeremy Irons. No more, no less.

Batman v Superman is bloated, convoluted, full of inconsistencies and lacking in focus. As many suspected might be the case, Superman is reduced to merely a concept rather than a character as Batman takes centre stage.

But Affleck does do a great job carrying the burden of this movie. On more than one occasion, his skulking in the shadows alluded me for a few moments, which gave me a giddy thrill when I spotted him (mind you, it was nearly 2am by this point). Make no mistake, when you read articles online about the actors and creative people behind this movie claiming that it is not designed to win over critics, they’re not lying. This is a Superman movie designed for Batman fans.

Arguably self-sabotaging in typical DC fashion by trying to introduce Batman to what is perceived as a flagging franchise or series, it might simply be too much, too soon. Yet, I still kind of got a kick out of it on some base-levels and I’m sure plenty of others will see through its many foibles too.

Failed Critics Podcast: The Good Bridge of Dinosaur Spies

bridge of spies 15

We’re back to our normal routine today with Steve Norman and Owen Hughes joined by Callum Petch. There’s not a single professional comedian amongst them after the first episode of Paul Field and James Mullinger’s Underground Nights popped up in your podcast subscription software of choice this past weekend.

And what a bumper crop of new release reviews we have in store for you! Four new movies that have hit your cinema screens recently, including: The new Pixar dramedy, The Good Dinosaur; Black Mass, a crime biopic starring Johnny Depp; a film that Callum describes as “perfect” in Carol; and cold war drama Bridge of Spies, the latest Spielberg and Hanks collaboration.

All of this plus a look at the new Captain America: Civil War and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice trailers and a bunch of other stuff that we’ve seen this past week. Callum boldly goes where millions of others have gone before and inducts himself into the Star Trek universe via the original motion picture. Meanwhile, Steve talks us through a post apocalyptic horror like so many more before it with Hidden and rounds up this season of The Walking Dead. There’s also still time for Owen to talk about a film that very few have seen before after attending the test screening of The Comedians Guide to Survival, a movie starring James Buckley (Jay from The Inbetweeners) about the life of James Mullinger (yes, that guy from Underground Nights).

Join Owen and Steve again for more “film related nonsense” with returning guest Andrew Brooker.

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The Week In Film – 16 October 2014: Four-Four-F***ing-Two

If there’s one thing that gets Steve more excited than football related news, it’s football related film news. And we’re not referring to the revelation this week that Michael Owen hates all movies.

by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)

mike bassettFailed Critics: England Manager

One of my favourite, and most under-rated comedies, Mike Bassett: England Manager, has a sequel. Personally I’m worried it will not live up to the original although a title of Mike Bassett: Interim Manager hints that it may still take a witty, satirical look at the beautiful game.

For £5k I could have a speaking part. So come on, put your money where your mouth is and get me on the big screen.

The Viewing Dead

Zombie series The Walking Dead broke all US cable records this weekend with the premier of its fifth season. 17.3 million tuned in to see Rick, Daryl and their group of survivors fight back against their captors at Terminus.

This beat the previous record of 16.1 million set by the shows fourth season premier. The show’s popularity was further enhanced due to the fact that over 12 million illegal downloads were made worldwide within the 24 hours after it aired.

The action packed opener will hopefully set the tone for a good series. Most previous seasons have featured strong beginnings and ends but have sagged in the middle. With the story taking slight deviations from the comic book we may see some fresh and interesting ideas and characters.

Where’s the News?

A lot of the time when researching this weekly article websites pass off new trailers or posters as news.

Is that actually news? Not in my book. It’s advertising.

Why Are Pirates Called Pirates? Because They Javi-ARRGHHH

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tells No Tales looks set to be the fifth POTC movie and is due for a 2017 release. Former Bond villain Javier Bardem has been linked with playing the protagonist to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow.

Superhero Section

Big news coming out of Marvel this week with the announcement that Robert Downey Jr. will play Iron Man in Captain America 3.

No plot details have been revealed as of yet but the poster/artwork released may suggests, and will no doubt fuel the Twitter rumours that Steve Rodger’s third solo movie will take the Civil War storyline from the comic books to the big screen.

In Civil War Iron Man and Cap go head to head along with many other superheroes, good and bad, and has far reaching implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even more so than Cap 2.

Of course this could all be bluff and double bluff and the film is comprised of completely original material.

Elsewhere in Marvel Ewan McGregor is the latest actor to be linked with the Doctor Strange role joining the likes of Keanu Reeves and Ethan Hawke as the frontrunners to play the sorcerer?superman batman

Outside of Marvel Michael Keaton has revealed that he would be up for playing Batman again. Hardly a huge revelation, I’m sure Adam West would be as well if you asked him.

DC have also said that Wonder Woman’s origins will be revealed in Batman vs Superman but rather than an Amazonian she will be the daughter of Zeus, according to producer Charles Roven anyway.

Quite why the origin of a popular and well established character needs to be changed is beyond me, and most people and it just gives another reason for people to doubt the movie.

Join us again next week, where we will return to give you another round up of the latest in film news.

The Week in Film – 15 August 2014: 26 Years Buried in the Deepest Darkest Jungle

The second entry into our weekly round up of all the weeks film news worth knowing about, as per Steve’s wont. Fury and sadness abound.

by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)

robin williamsRobin Williams: A Tribute

Only a short time ago we learnt of the sad and tragic death of Robin Williams. We have already paid tribute to him on our podcast but such a fine actor is worthy of being paid homage to in writing as well.

If you are, like me, in your mid to late 20’s you will have first come across the fast paced and quick witted actor in family films Jumanji, Mrs Doubtfire, Hook and as the voice of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin.

A great comedian capable of improvising at the drop of the hat his roles brought joy and laughter to millions.

But he could act as well. He won an Oscar for his role in Good Will Hunting and put in stellar performances in the likes of Dead Poets Society, World’s Greatest Dad, Good Morning, Vietnam and Insomnia.

Williams was a versatile actor who could play a number of roles across a range of genres and was genuinely up there among the best in his craft.

On Failed Critics we made the decision not to discuss the reasons behind a person’s death a long time ago as frankly it is none of our business. However my thoughts and the thoughts of everyone associated with the website go out to Robin Williams’ family friends and anyone close to him.

Batman vs. Superman vs. Captain America

The big news coming out of the world of comic book movies this week is that Warner Bros. have bottled going head to head with Captain America 3 and moved forward the release date of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

You cannot blame them really. Marvel are having a roaring success with their comic book movies with pretty much everything they touch turning to gold, Guardians of the Galaxy the newest in a long stream of examples.

Perhaps though the biggest mistake is moving it to come out before Caps next outing. Come the release of the first Avengers third instalment everyone will have stopped talking about Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. If they had released it after CA3 it may well have had the same effect.power rangers

It’s Morphin Time

2016 will not only see Batman, Superman and Captain America return to the screen but the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as well.

If it is at the same level as the Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja (or Hero, depending which side of the pond you hail from) Turtles movies then it will be yet another part of my childhood ruined.

Fury to Close London Film Festival

No not Nick Fury, although I would forgive you for thinking that after all the comic book chat.

The David Ayers/Brad Pitt World War 2 film will bring the curtain down on the October festival in the UK capital.

It looks more Band of Brothers/Saving Private Ryan than Pitt’s last venture in to Nazi occupied Europe in Inglorious Basterds. Also starring Michael Pena and Shia the Beef it looks set to be a cracker.

However the film did draw criticism for filming scenes with people in full Nazi garb on Remembrance Day last year.

Next week, Steve will return to give us another round up of the latest in film news. 

Failed Critics Podcast: Elysium, Batfleck, and sweaty nerds

Elysium Matt DamonWelcome to this week’s slightly less shambolic Failed Critics podcast. We’ve tinkered with the format, and are hopefully this close to solving our audio problems. For the time being though, sit back, relax, and let us talk you through the week in cinema.

We’ve got reviews of new releases Elysium, The Heat, and The Way, Way Back; plus Beware of Mr Baker, Wadjda, and the Coen Brother’s True Grit in What We’ve Been Watching. We’ve also got recommendations for the next week on television, Lovefilm, and new on DVD, and we discuss the online flap over the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman.

Join us next week for the fully transformed podcast, featuring interviews and a report from the premiere of UK film Jadoo, plus reviews of Pain & Gain and You’re Next.

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The Dark Knight of the Long Knives

DaredevilEarlier today we discovered that Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel sequel, where the rumour is the long-awaited onscreen battle between Superman and Batman will finally be realised. There was a storm of protest over the decision, followed by a backlash to the backlash, followed by the rest of civilisation laughing at two groups of people arguing over a casting decision. The Failed Critics have happily jumped on the Batwagon of debate, and here are their reactions to the news:

James Diamond: Site editor who stands by his assertion that The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was better than Man of Steel

Don’t like Ben Affleck being cast as Batman? In the words of Alan Arkin’s character in Affleck’s Oscar/Bafta/Golden Globe-winning film, Argo fuck yourself.

I was genuinely surprised by the level of the backlash to Warner Brothers/DC’s announcement this morning. My wife happened to mention to me that Affleck had been cast as Batman, and I replied “yeah, I can see that” (I’ll be honest, it’s a sadly very rare incident of my wife and I discussing comic book adaptations and their casting before breakfast). When I stumbled onto Twitter I was taken aback by the level of abuse being aimed at Affleck, with everyone throwing Daredevil and Gigli back in his face as if the last 10 years haven’t happened.

I’m grown-up enough to admit when I am wrong about an actor, with my increasingly uncomfortable man-crush over Matthew McConaughey being just the most recent example. The fact is, Affleck has grown and matured into a very fine actor, but even more importantly for me, an excellent director. This level of experience on the set of the next Superman film will be vital in my opinion, especially with Christopher Nolan apparently taking a back-seat in the day-to-day side of the production. As someone said a little cruelly, at least it means there will be one director on set.

I believe Affleck will be a great Bruce Wayne, and I am excited about seeing if he can pull off Batman. There were similar scenes of fan annoyance when Michael Keaton was cast as the Caped Crusader, and again when Heath Ledger landed the role of The Joker. They didn’t turn out too badly.

Armageddon really annoyed with the Domga-tic opinions of everyone with no Good Will (Hunting) towards this upstanding resident of Hollywoodland. [That’s enough terrible puns – Ed. Wait, that’s me]

Owen Hughes: Podcaster, film addict, and resident neeeeerrrrd

It was going to be the film that fans have wanted for the longest time. To finally see the caped crusader, the dark knight, the world’s greatest detective, coming up against the big blue boy scout, the man of tomorrow, the last son of Krypton. Batman vs Superman. The nerdgasm to end all nerdgasms.

Not only that, but director Zack Snyder hinted that the clash of these comic book titans would resemble their encounter from dark, edgy, 80’s game changing graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. We were going to see a grizzled and older Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl before coming to blows with the Man of Steel. It opened up a world of possibilities over who would be cast as Bats.

Would they go all out to bring Christian Bale back? Maybe try to shoehorn some semblance of continuity into the series following the Nolan trilogy and bring in Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Or would Warner Brothers start looking at actors like Bruce Greenwood (who has played Batman in an animated film already), Josh Brolin, Max Martini or even Karl Urban? I’ve even seen Russell Crowe linked with the role, which would’ve been brilliant if not for the awkward plot twist that would’ve endured when Kal-El finds his father running around Gotham City in spandex.

Well the answer has finally arrived, and it seems to be a rather uninspiring ‘Ben Affleck’.
I don’t have a problem with Affleck as an actor, he was excellent in Argo. But with all the exciting avenues that could’ve been explored, of all the names linked with the role, it’s… OK. I’m sure he’ll be a competent Batman, probably a better Bruce Wayne, and with Snyder at the helm I’ll probably enjoy the film on some level. It’s just something of a safe choice which is disappointing.

Steve Norman: Podcast host, and real-life crime-fighting vigilante

So Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman for the 2015 crossover movie Batman vs Superman and sweaty nerds worldwide seem to be up in arms about the decision.

Bloody hell nerds, calm down.

Their main issue appears to be that Affleck once made a film called Daredevil and it was a bit rubbish. In fact it was very rubbish. It is that bad that I cannot remember much about it after seeing it many years ago.

However this film was made ten years ago. We all make mistakes, I make them almost daily, and in ten years a lot can change. You can grow as a person, you can improve and develop your craft.

Since Daredevil, Affleck has starred in some good films while starring in and directing The Town and the Oscar winning Argo.

I would go as far to say that Affleck should have been allowed to direct the film as well seeing as Zac Snyder’s attempt at Superman was pretty average while Affleck’s directing has been impressive and his career has had somewhat of a resurgence.

Gerry McAuley: Podcaster, Batman fanatic, and phoning it in from sunnier climes

This is total bullshit. Affleck directing = win. Affleck as Batman = epic fail.

I’m very disappointed by that news. I think he would’ve made a more than competent director (and indeed we talked about him as a potential director for Batman, Star Wars and others on the podcast last year) but I just don’t think he has the charisma or the right attributes to be a good Batman. Daredevil was garbage, we all agree on that. Bale is going to be a very hard act to follow but Affleck will have a lot to do to convince me – and hordes of others – that he is a suitable replacement for the cowl. I really, really hope he does though. I bloody love Batman. I want him to be good!

What do you think? Let us know below, or tweet us at @FailedCritics

Failed Critics Podcast: The World’s End

The World's EndThis week’s main review is The World’s End, the final installment of the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost.

Also this week we discuss the events of Comic-Con, including the announcement of Superman vs Batman, and Loki building a formidable geek army. We also review Apollo 13, Sssssss (yes, really), and new Netflix Original show Orange Is the New Black.

Join us next week when we induct Studio Ghibli into the Corridor of Praise.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Superman/Man of Steel Special

christopher-reeve-supermanIs it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s three nitwits holding court on all things Superman! In this week’s extra-special bumper podcast (weighing in at over two hours) we celebrate the release of Zack Snyder’s reboot of the Superman series, Man of Steel. Prepare for it to kick off as two of the team nearly come to blows over their experience and expectations of the movie.

As well as a review of the film, we look under the bonnet and get our hands dirty in an extended Spoiler Alert look at Man of Steel. Not only that, but we discuss every Superman film ever made in What We’ve Been Watching, and choose our favourite performances by the Man of Steel main cast in Triple Bill.

Join us next week as we review new releases World War Z, Now You See Me, and This is the End.

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Best Films on TV: 10-17 June 2013

Hi honey, we’re home! Site editor James Diamond is back from holiday and can’t wait to recommend the best films on terrestrial TV this week. God knows what you did last week without our guidance. We hope you didn’t actually try and talk to anyone.

The Truman ShowMonday 10th June – The Truman Show (Film4, 7.05pm)

Jim Carrey pulls off the archetypal ‘comic actor in semi-serious role’ with aplomb in Peter Weir’s film about a man who has unwittingly spent his entire life as the star of a reality TV show. Then again, I’m sure you’ve all seen this already, so as a bonus today I also recommend the Pedro Almodovar film Talk to Her (Film4, 0.55am) on behalf of the podcast’s resident Spanish cinema expert, Gerry McAuley. He had this to say about it in his 2002 Decade in Film piece:

On the face of it, Hable con Ella is a pretty odd film. It centres on the solitude and inner turmoil of two men who bond over the beds of the female coma victims who they care for, the gradual entanglement of their lives – whilst in parallel the events leading up to the film’s present are slowly unravelled in flashbacks. There is a quiet power to the film which draws the viewer into this world so deeply that it is impossible to forget. Essentially, old Pedro tests how far he can push an audience (again), this time in terms of how much you’re willing to forgive because you like someone. I often say this about foreign films on the podcast but THIS IS WHAT CINEMA IS ABOUT. Tremendous performances, a director whose vision is so clear and whose skill is so well-developed that they are able to interweave symbolism and narrative to devastating effect, a story which engages throughout and an exploration of wider themes and societal issues without being preachy or ever failing to entertain.

Tuesday 11th June – Cube (Horror Channel, 9pm)

A cult classic from 1997, Cube is a cunningly simple low-budget sci-fi/horror film that delivers in spades. Six strangers awake to find themselves in maze constructed of a seemingly infinite number of cubes, each with its own deadly boobytraps and puzzles. The strangers must work together and use their unique skill sets to escape, and find out why they were chosen. Not for the faint-hearted.

Wednesday 12th June – Con Air (BBC3, 9pm)

There was a time in the nineties when Nicolas Cage was the best, and most unlikely, action hero working in Hollywood. He was a new breed of action star who didn’t solely rely on physique or a funny accent, but could actually, you know, ‘act’. Con Air is my personal favourite of this era (narrowly edging out The Rock and Face/Off), also featuring some entertaining performances from John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, and John Cusack.

“Put the bunny back in the box”.

Thursday 13th June – A Knight’s Tale (Film4, 6.25pm)

Some films charm you despite all their ingredients being completely wrong. For me, this is one of those films. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (who wrote the screenplays for Mystic River, Man on Fire, and L.A. Confidential) it stars Heath Ledger (before we started taking him seriously) as a peasant squire who cons his way into medieval jousting tournaments as a nobleman, with an uber-anachronistic Queen and Robbie Williams soundtrack. It’s actually a lot of fun, and Paul Bettany is an absolute star as a young pre-fame Chaucer.

Friday 14th June – The Breakfast Club (BBC2, 11.05pm)

Much like Owen Hughes will always find a zombie and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme film to recommend, I can’t help myself when a John Hughes film turns up on television, and this is the pinnacle of not only his films, but teen films in general.

SPOILERS

Saturday 15th June – Superman (5USA, 12pm)

Richard Donner’s take on the ‘Man of Steel’ is one of the great comic book film adaptations, and sets a very high bar for Zak Snyder’s Man of Steel (released this weekend). Christopher Reeve was a virtual unknown when cast, and apparently modeled his performance on Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. Gene Hackman co-stars as one of cinemas great villains, Lex Luthor. You can catch Superman II at 6.25pm on the same channel, although its hugely different comic tone feels odd after the seriousness and grandeur of the original. You could always try and get a copy of the Richard Donner cut though.

Sunday 16th June – Valhalla Rising (BBC2, 11.30pm)

If you stay up to watch this before having to get up early for work the next morning, don’t blame me for any nightmares or general sense of mental anguish you experience. Reviews from Cannes suggest that director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives features only 17 lines spoken by its star Ryan Gosling, and this film proves Refn has previous in this area. Valhalla Rising is the story of a mute viking warrior (played by my current acting crush Mads Mikkelsen) who starts off as a slave and ends up quite literally dragging everyone around him to a dark and violent hell. Pure art-house action and violence.