BY SUGANDHA RAWAL
From “Avengers: Endgame”, “Joker”, “The Lion King”, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Captain Marvel” to “Jumanji: The Next Level”, 2019 was Hollywood’s big year for superhero films and big franchises.
It was a year to break records and make new history in Hollywood, with “Avengers: Endgame” ending the decade-long reign of “Avatar” by emerging the world’s highest-grossing film of all time, and “Joker” becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.
There were some anticipated follow ups including “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”, the revamped version of “Charlie’s Angels”, the musical “Cats” and “Men In Black: International”, which turned out to be duds.
Despite the misses, hits were plenty and made it up for the duds. Robert Downey Jr bid farewell to his Iron Man avatar while breaking hearts and cinematic records, actor Joaquin Phoenix turned the story of a mentally unstable loner and failed comedian Arthur Fleck, who picks violence to find calmness in his life, into a blockbuster.
Before the year ends, IANS takes a look back at the hits of Hollywood.
It was an epic conclusion of an era and a historic achievement for Marvel. Every Marvel superhero from Iron Man and Thor to Captain America and Black Widow, assembled one last time to save the world from the supervillain Thanos with “Avengers: Endgame”, which shattered several box office records. Helmed by the Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, the film marked the end of the third Marvel phase.
It was an emotional affair for the fans as they lost some of their favourite heroes, with Iron Man sacrificing his life for the world, Captain America (essayed by Chris Evans) passing on the shield to Sam Wilson, aka Falcon and Black Widow giving her life so that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) could secure the Soul Stone. It opened in April.
The film’s star-studded cast also includes Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper and Josh Brolin. In July, “Avengers: Endgame” dethroned “Avatar” to become the world’s highest-grossing film of all time.
Joaquin Phoenix as the new Joker had a good laugh at the box office. From the way he uses violence to fight his inner demons to his chaotic laugh to his illusions to his revelrous dance, Phoenix won plaudits for transforming into the mentally unstable loner Arthur Fleck in the comic book drama. It narrated his journey of becoming supervillain Joker.
The 45-year-old star is being considered as a contender of Best Actor Oscar this year for the Warner Bros. project, which has become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, and has crossed the $ 1 billion mark at the worldwide box office. In fact, the impact is deep as it has sparked conversation around mental health. A follow-up to film is also in the works.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Tom Holland came back on the big screen as the iconic webslinger Spider-Man along with his friends to rule the box office. The Jon Watts directorial follows the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame”, with Iron Man having a strong influence on the narrative despite his death.
From Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man grieving the death of Iron Man and trying to move on by going on a school trip to the world mourning the demise of their enigmatic superhero — Iron Man comes back to life in the film — through his persona, legacy and technological inventions. Along with some imprints from the past, the film brought forward another adventure and enemy for Spider-Man in form of Mysterio (actor Jake Gyllenhaal).
Globally, the film swung past the $1 billion mark, becoming the first instalment in the franchise to do so. It’s also the first “Spider-Man” film to reach the milestone, and Sony’s second film to do so after “Skfall”.
Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” had a smooth take-off in the superhero universe. The project introduced the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first standalone, female-franchise title character, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, essayed by Larson. It follows Danvers’ journey as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. It was released in March.
Breaking the misconception that female superheroes can’t hold strong on their own at the box office, the film joined its superhero counterparts (“Avengers: Infinity War”, “Black Panther”, “The Avengers”, “Captain America: Civil War”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Iron Man 3”) in the ‘billion dollar’ club in April.
Disney’s live action film “Aladdin” brought back nostalgia, weaving a success story with the thrilling and vibrant adaptation of the loved animated classic movie, which took the world by storm in 1992 and established a legendary status amongst fans, especially with its blockbuster music.
In the film, directed by Guy Ritchie, Will Smith stepped in the shoes of late Robin Williams by taking on the role of larger-than-life Genie. Mena Massoud was seen as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. It was yet another Disney project to enter the $1 billion club this year.
THE LION KING
“The Jungle Book” fame director Jon Favreau took audience for a walk down the memory lane by re-imagining the world of Disney’s 1994 classic to bring alive a live-action film. “The Lion King” follows the adventures of Simba, who is to succeed his father Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands, and narrates a tale of how he rises up to the occasion despite several attempts to bring him down by his villainous uncle Scar.
Big names are attached as voice stars. In the Hollywood version, Donald Glover, Beyonce Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones Chiwetel Ejiofor and Alfre Woodard were leading the cast.
From casting Shah Rukh Khan and his son Aryan to bring to life the characters of King Mufasa and Simba respectively to Sunidhi Chauhan and Armaan Malik lending their musical touch to the story — the desi elements were embedded into the Hindi version, which widened the film’s reach. The film entered the $1 billion club with a loud roar.
“Frozen 2” opened another adventurous chapter from the lives of princesses Anna and Elsa.
Set in fantastical land of Arendelle, “Frozen” is a story of two sisters Elsa and Anna who are on a path of finding acceptance and love, while trying to save their kingdom infused with heart-touching music and emotions. Elsa is struggling to accept her magical icy powers and effervescent Anna is trying to find a bond with her sister. “Frozen 2” brought back their story as they continue on the journey of finding their own self, by tracing their past and piecing it together with their present. The tale was infused with an environmental message.
The Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee project has crossed the $1 billion mark at the global box office, setting a record by becoming the sixth Disney release of the year to do so and the eighth title of 2019 over all.
The film opened life story of singing legend Elton John stitched together with music. Described as an “epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of John’s breakthrough years”, the film follows the journey of his transformation from a shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into an international superstar. Wrapped in a package of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, the movie highlights struggles of John, and his life beyond the sparkling glamour.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the film, distributed in India by Viacom18 Studios, stars Taron Egerton as John, Richard Madden as John Reid, John’s manager and one-time lover, and Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, John’s famed songwriting partner.
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL
“Jumanji: The Next Level” took back actors Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black back into the jungle for yet another adventurous and chaotic ride. The body-swapping twist added to the fun of the film, and attracted cinema lovers to the theatres.
It is a sequel to “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, which brought forward the world of Jumanji with a modern twist with a group of high school students getting lost in the jungle after laying their hands on a video game console featuring a version of the game. The film picks up where the 2017 film left off, but with some glitches and updates. The Sony Pictures Entertainment project also stars Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” was his love letter to Los Angeles of 1969, and it was loved by all.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is a fictional story of fading stardom told through aging star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Tarantino has woven real life stories into the plot with the infamous Charles Manson murders, including actress Sharon Tate, as a backdrop to make it more intriguing. Star power of two biggies, the Hollywood factor and ‘Tarantino’ treatment to a historical criminal case left everyone with a dazzling yet disturbing emotion.
Other notable releases included: “It: Chapter 2”, “Doctor Sleep”, “Gemini Man”, “Toy Story 4”, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, “Knives Out”, “Bumblebee”, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”. (IANS)