The Film Freak Isaac Horvat 

          WHERE HAVE THE EPICS GONE? 
                                                                                                                                     

   Part 1
 The History and Definition of Epic Films
    
                I was discussing a recent film (more on that specific film later) recently in a Facebook post and I said I would’ve liked to see the director’s cut of this film in theaters. I was asked would I seriously sit through a three hour movie. I responded of course I would and then went on a rant against 21st century movie going audiences and their fly like attention spans and how the Epics of Old would never work with today’s people.
               Now several weeks later the question of where have the Epics gone was still on my mind so I decided to take a look and see what answers I could find.
               The history of Epic films reaches all the way back to the silent era with the first one arguably being 1914s three hour Italian masterpiece Cabiria. Cabiria blazed new ground and influenced the Epic style of filmmaking of D.W. Griffith and Cecile B. DeMille. D.W. Griffith was responsible for the epics The Birth of A Nation and Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages while Ceile B. DeMille made Cleopatra, Sampson and Delilah, and The Ten Commandments. Other epic films include Gone With the Wind, The Seven Samurai, Ben-Hur, Spartacus, Lawerence of Arabia, War and Peace, and one of my absolute favorite movies: How the West Was Won. These are all well known (more or less) and historically important films that most (sane) people hold in high regard.  They are all also old movies.
               That’s not to say there are not modern epic films. Many would love to argue that even this year’s Best Picture winner The Revenant was an epic. I disagree but that’s not the point. Many people still try to make ‘Epic’ movies. Films like Exodus: Gods and Kings, Noah, and even regrettably God’s of Egypt all try to capture the old school epic feel. Most of the time it falls flat. In the late 1990s and early 2000s there was a run of great epics birthed from the success of Titanic. Movies like Gladiator, Passion of the Christ, The Last Samurai, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and The Lord of the Rings franchise proved that Epic filmmaking could still be successful but then Hollywood, as it so often does, oversaturated the market with subpar films and the genre ebbed again. The one exception to this was the year 2007 (which was perhaps the greatest year of films ever but that’s another argument) in which we were treated to the modern epics of There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Zodiac, Atonement, The Assassination of Jesse James, and a movie literally called Epic Movie which really wasn’t epic or good, I just thought that was a funny tidbit.
              I would like to make two arguments about where the Epic Films have gone but first we have to do something we haven’t done yet: define what an Epic Film is. According to Wikipedia (the all knowing, reliable source) “Epic Film is a style of filmmaking with large scale, sweeping scope, and spectacle.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_film) To me that is just a part of what defines an Epic Film. Epics films are also: 1. Complex storytelling that examines current or past society. 2. A study of historical events or fantasy events that hold a mirror up to examine society. 3. The story of one man or one family through an extended amount of time, historical, current, or fantasy, that examines how those times affect that family or man.                    Now to be an epic film you have to be at least one of the above things combined with “large scale, sweeping scope, and spectacle.” (Aside: I’m just going to throw in that by these definitions Straight Outta Compton was the most recent great epic movie of our time. Aside: Aside: How messed up is it that it wasn’t nominated? I’m still not over it.)
  
         

                                                                       Part 2
                                                                   Argument 1
                             Epic Movies Never Went Anywhere; They Just Changed


                 
               Gone are the epics we are used too. The sword and sandal masterpieces of Ben-Hur or the sprawling historical drama of How the West Was Won you might say are….gone with the wind… sorry, I had to.
             But I’m going to say the epic has crossed into less traditional areas like in animated where you have the Kung Fu Panda movies, How to Train Your Dragon movies, The Adventures of Tin Tin, and even WALL-E. These are animated films on an epic scale that we’ve never seen before. However, the true genre for modern epics is the Superhero genre.
            The Dark Knight Trilogy is perhaps the greatest argument for this. It’s a true study of post 9/11 America told through a fantastic superhero filter that magnifies and examines themes relevant to modern society. Watchmen: The Directors Cut is another movie I would hold up as a great example of how superhero movies can examine society on a grander scale than more traditional epics. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is another great example and one I am compelled to include because at the risk of sounding like a Zach Snyder, DC Fanboy, I think Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice together are perhaps the other best example of the Epic Superhero Films.*
           Epic movies are supposed to reflect on and perhaps incite debate about society as a whole and the themes explored in MoS and BvS have done that in spades. The philosophical and theological debates of what is God, how does man relate to God, what is mans response and responsibility to God, can God be all powerful and all good, what is mans place in the universe are all questions asked and explored in these films and it’s fascinating. (It’s also interesting to note society’s response to these thoughtful movies.)  I think posterity will perhaps remember the superhero movies of today like we remember the Epic movies of old: Movies about men, gods, life, death, resurrection, hope, despair, love, hate, tragedy, obsession, and courage.
  
  * This was written before Captain America: Civil War and I begrudgingly include it in this list though I think it is inferior to the other superhero movies mentioned. 

         So that is part one of this three part piece. Next time: Argument 3: Epics Went to the Small Screen


  
WHERE HAVE THE EPICS GONE?

                                                                                                          Part 3
                                                                                         Argument 2 and Closing
                                                                        Epic Movies Went to the Small Screen (TV)
 
                    So I answered my friend who asked if I would sit through a 3 hour movie with an immediate “Of Course!” But not everyone is like that, let alone the four hour or more epics of old. TV has a great way of fixing this: Sit for one hour at a time separated thematically into episodes. With this format epics could stretch into 50+ hours of storytelling over several years of production.
                   It’s fascinating to see that prior to the late 90s (right when epics were on the comeback in the cinema) the TV landscape was mostly dominated by sitcoms or police procedurals, neither of which lends itself very well to storytelling on the grand scale. But in 1997 a TV show premiered that changed the game forever: Oz. It was a brutal, violent, and obscene look at life in maximum security prison. Oz was HBOs first one-hour dramatic series and it paved the way for the Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, and basically every dark, gritty television series to follow.
                  This is truly where the Epic Movies of old went. Shows like Spartacus, Rome, Vikings, and Game of Thrones adopted the sword and sandal epic stories. Deadwood, Hell on Wheels, Justified and even Breaking Bad adopted the epic western themes. Shows like Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Six Feet Under showed the rise and fall of men and family drama. Finally, shows like The Wire, Treme, Fargo, and The Shield tell stories of broken systems, broken cities, and broken people, all with epic story telling. There are so many examples I could go on and on and on but instead I will close with a final thought:
                   In recent years a debate has sparked and continues to rage on, the debate of have TV shows become better than Movies. Often times at least some of the above shows are put forth as evidence than TV has surpassed the cinema in terms of complex stories and I think it’s because of the Epic Factor. To quote Wikipedia again “The enduring popularity of the epic is often accredited to their ability to appeal to a wide audience.” That’s why this debate exists. TV shows appeal to a wider audiences than ever before because of their willingness to compellingly address in complex stories all the issues I listed at the end of argument one: men, gods, life, death, resurrection, hope, despair, love, hate etc… In short TV shows have become Epic.
                I find it interesting to see that movies have split into two camps: independent films with more specific audiences or easily digestible stories to appeal to a worldwide audience. Unfortunately the mainstream/blockbuster/epic movies are often dumbed-down to easily translate to international audiences. (With the exception of MoS and BvS and look how they were received) Anyway, this whole history lesson/search for epic films was basically to say: TV Shows have become the new Epic Movies and the few Epic Movies that get made are usually too stupid to like. I like Epic movies and I think Batman V Superman was Epic… so go see for yourself. Or not, but watch a good show then.
  
I'm Just sayin'! w/James Fields
     Michael Bay has done it again! 13 Hours, his new film about the 2012 incident in Benghazi, Libya, is a powerful look at the deficiency of American politics and how policy can sometimes overpower humanity. Now I was ready to give you an in depth view of the movie, but while there I was reminded of something that I see far too often when I go to the movies, and it’s time I spoke on it.  Last year, I went to see Trainwreck, and I’m sure you all are aware it was rate R and filled with adult language and sexual situations. While in line, the couple ahead of me were buying tickets to the same movie. Normally I wouldn’t have though anything about it, but they had with them their 11 or 12 year old daughter. As a father of two young girls myself, I was rather perturbed by this. I thought did they not know what this movie was about? I even contemplated asking them, but I refrained. As the movie opened, with Amy Schumer’s character in bed having sex, I was sure the dad would get up and take his daughter out there, but he didn’t. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I couldn’t believe that a father a pre-teen daughter would allow her to sit and watch a film with such content, let alone be there with her while she watched. I’m not naïve enough to think that, this was the first time that she had been exposed to this type of content. I mean, we do live in much different times than when I grew up. I guess I was just surprised that her parents would allow it. Fast forward to yesterday and the same thing happened. This time the child was about 7 and the film was 13 hours. Again, it was a great film, a very important film, but still not appropriate for a 7 year old. Aside from the coarse language, the combat scenes were too much for a child to absorb, in my opinion. Hell, I had a hard time absorbing some of the violence. My point in all of this is to say that, we have to be more responsible as parents. Everything isn’t for everyone and nowadays, movies are more graphic and open than they’ve ever been. It’s okay to let kids stay kids for a while, they will have plenty of time to be adults later. If the rating is “R”, then the MPAA, deemed it too much for kids to watch. I challenge our movie going parents to heed their advice and refrain from bring your kids to these movies. If we let kids be kids for just a little while longer, maybe the world will be a better place for them. I’m just sayin’.


My Mom's Basement 
with Kevin White 

 
B.I.M Eulogy 
 
Last Friday I received news that The Broadcasting Institute Of Maryland will be shutting its doors forever. This news hit me hard as I of spent that last 3 years of my life involved with that school in some form. Not to mention that of the 5 main people that make up The DC Film Freaks, three of us (Mike, Isaac, and myself) graduated from B.I.M. It was a very important step in our journey because without the staff there, we would not have been able to recognize our potential and how to relentlessly pursue our goals. B.I.M. was not just a place where people go get there start in the broadcasting industry and are never heard from again. Many big names have come from there and gone on to do great things. Names like Robin Quivers (Howard Stern Show), Monique (The Parker's, Precious), Sara Fleischer (98Rock Baltimore), Darrin Marshall (Imaging Director at HOT995 in D.C. and Z1043 in Baltimore), Tim Williams(meteorologist WJZ Baltimore), and countless others. B.I.M. was a great place. It was amazing how much we learned not about just succeeding in this industry, but succeeding in life just by talking and having a group discussion with one of our teachers.
One of the main takeaways my fellow bimmmers and I received from that place, and they are going to hate that I wrote this but its this one simple phrase “If It’s To Be, Than Its Up To ME!!!!!”. Campy? Yes. Is rhyming annoying? You’re darn right it is. But, you cannot deny the truth of this statement. People these days are so arrogant and they feel the world owes them something. Instead of going out and busting their hump to get they want to be. But the students at The Broadcasting Institute Of Maryland were told from the very beginning that NOTHING is owed to you and if you want something you will have to EARN it. And that’s why so many B.I.M. alumni has gone on to be successful in other industries besides broadcasting. They are business owners, successful sales men and women, consultants, and even public relations coordinators for Baltimore city. That’s what made B.I.M. a great place. It removes the anchors of limitations that we perceive will stop us from succeeding in life. They motivated us. Sometimes they had to break us down, but that was the only way they could show that the world will do the same to us unless we are the aggressors. Unless we are on the offensive. And that’s what we do. We are always ready for the next step. Always forward thinking. And never letting anything stop us from reaching our goals. So on behalf of Mike, Isaac, and the hundreds of other B.I.M. alumni, I just want to say thank you to all of the staff The Broadcasting Institute Of Maryland giving us the tools to not only chase our dreams, but achieve and make then our reality.
Check out Kevins' BRAND NEW Movie/tv show rating system
Good movie/show= happy kevin                OK movie/show=no reaction Kevin       Horrible movie and show=ew thats nasty kevin

Batman V. Superman:Dawn of Justice Review

        Ok first things first Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice will be one of those movies that critic€™s hate but fans love. It is chock full of DC comic book references that fans will really appreciate. But of course like any other comic book/super hero movie there are plot holes and some unneeded scenes. With all that being said this in my opinion is the best DC comic€™s movie since The Dark Knight. From the beginning this movie lets you know that the stakes are really high and you feel it throughout the movie. The actors in the movie did an awesome job portraying their characters. You actually can almost feel Supermans agony as he deals with a world that doesn'€™t trust him. Whenever Wonder Woman is on screen, you can feel her strength and confidence that she is more than just a pretty face in a guy€™s world. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesse Eisenberg€™s Lex Luthor maybe one of the most dark and evil characters on screen ever in a comic book movie. And last but not least Batman!! Let€™s just say the way Ben Affleck portrays him in this movie he has no time for your S@!T.  Speaking on the darkness of this movie look..there aren'€™t many light moments for laughter. It's just not a light and fluffy movie. That'€™s what marvel does and it works great for them but the tone of this movie was set during the final battle in Man of Steel. Many lives were lost and they caused mass destruction. BvS continues that story in way to flesh out these new heroes in a new universe. I believe this is going to end up being a great starting off point for DC cinematic universe and yes the rumors are true, future Justice League members do make a appearance in this movie and the scene is spectacular!!!! This movie serves as tribute to DC Comic book fans. The only issues with that is unlike marvel who did four movies before we got The Avengers which allowed the audience to get to know the characters, BvS kind of get right into it without much background character development. They assume you know who all the characters are which is fine because Batman and Superman cast a wider net just by name then most super heroes (Spider-man is on that level too). But for the super mainstream audiences they may not understand why everyone is so mad at Superman or why Lex Luthor is so obsessed with defeating him. But this comic reader loved this movie. I loved the rising tension, I loved the Batman action, I loved the darkness of it, I just had a great time with this movie. I actually enjoyed it more the most of marvels movies because of the scope of the danger in this movie. Unfortunately, this BvS will be one of those movie where the opinions of it will be split right down the middle. My advice to you is when you go to see it, remember you are not going to see Tony Stark throw out one liners, it'€™s not going to be a villain that is likable and people are fans of him also. This is a movie about literal good versus literal evil. The last thing I'll say is that BvS finally shows you the definitive difference between DC characters and Marvel Characters in one scene between Superman and Lex Luthor. With all that being said if you are a comic book and/or comic movie face you are going to like this movie. If you aren't then you may leave scratching your head but don't feel bad because it wasn't made for you. 



 €‹                                                 This movie gets a Happy Kevin:

The 5 Spot with Charles Kirkland Jr. 

Summer Box Office: Bomb or Bust?
 


           
             This happens to be the strangest and most unpredictable movie summer of several years.  
In years past, there have always been major blockbusters released during the summer.  Summer is historically the most profitable time of the year for movies.  The stars came out for the summer blockbusters.  Will Smith made a career for himself because of all the summer blockbusters in which he starred in years past.  The Independence Day sequel (coming in June?) doesn't even star Smith.  The big movies starring Smith (Suicide Squad) comes at the end of the summer in August.  We looked forward to seeing the biggest stars on the screen in the summer. But this year?
In years past, we knew what the big blockbuster of the summer was going to be months ahead of time.  Promotion is the backbone of the hype necessary for a movie to be a blockbuster.  I remember growing up as a kid even into recent years that there would be a toy from the fast food franchises to get you excited about a movie.  Where is this year's Happy Meal toy?  You used to be sick a tired of seeing the trailer of the big blockbuster for the summer.  (By the way, it was the same trailer not multiple versions that told too much about the movie.)  You were told what the biggest movie would be and you just went to see it.  But this year?

         
         In years past, the biggest blockbuster was scheduled for release on a holiday weekend.  Memorial Day was the start of the summer movie season but July 4th was the center of it all.  Men In Black, Independence Day, Transformers, Spider-Man 1 and 2, Twilight, War of the Worlds all of them were released and thrived as blockbusters on the July 4th weekend.  But this year?  What's scheduled for release on the July 4th holiday weekend?  The BFG, The Purge and The Legend of Tarzan.  What?  Really?  A film with a title no one understands, a cut rate horror movie sequel and another movie franchise which has not seen success in live action since Johnny Weissmuller.
In years past, movie studios saved up their biggest movies for release during the summer.  We have seen the list of some of the big summer blockbusters.  These movies could have easily been released during anytime of the year but they were held for the time and pushed to be contenders.  In recent years, the studios are spreading the wealth around.  Christmas Day, usually a time for presents, family and football, has become a big time for releases.  Django Unchained and Les Miserables (2012), Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003), Marley and Me (2008) and Avatar (2009) were all released to terrific numbers during the Christmas holidays.  The arguably biggest movies of this year were released either prior to the summer (Batman v. Superman and Captain America: Civil War) or are scheduled to be released near Christmas (Star Wars:  Rogue One, Doctor Strange, Sing, Assassin's Creed).
           
         So the question remains.  Will there be a big blockbuster movie during the summer of 2016?  Despite the lack of promotion, the lack of focus and the lack of star power will there be a big success coming?  Are the studios taking for granted that people will go to the movies during the summer?  Who knows?  Certainly not me.  The shame is that I used to know in years past but, this year?
 
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