31 Jul 2013
He May Well Continue To Be The Law
Petitions on the internet are a lot like pornography on the internet: there are far too many of them, most of which are physically impossible. That which isn't tends still towards the laughable, and those few that are important won't be taken seriously because of the damage inflicted by the majority. It's not like back in the day, where it took time and effort to generate a following to the cause, and and popularity meant that people were actually engaged, and not passively masturbating to whatever knocked on their door. I think... perhaps the metaphor didn't hold up as well at the end there, but the point stands: petitions on the internet tend to be ineffective.
And here's another one. And it was one I was glad to sign, because it is the official petition to get a sequel to Dredd made. The movie wasn't as financially successful theatrically as was hoped, largely due to poor marketing. This belief was held up by the whelming success once the film hit DVD. Good word of mouth has made people seek the film out, and it has become something of a cult success, in the original way that "cult success" meant, not the weird way marketing firms have adopted the phrase to make something sound edgy and counter culture.
So, go to the site, sign the petition, and maybe we'll get a follow up to a movie that was better then Dark Knight Rises.
Suddenly "Star Trek 12: So Very Tired" Isn't So Much Funny As It Is Sad
Do you have twenty minutes? Of course you do, what else are you doing? If you're on this site, you are either at work, and desperate for something to fill in the gnawing gaps in your day; a library hobo trying with great futility to cover up your Korean pornography; or are my mother (hi mom). In any case, you've got the time.
There is no doubt in my mind that, when is all said and done, the Simpsons its early years will be remembered as one of the smartest, sharpest pieces of satire every written. It'll be up there with Swift and Twain, and I mean that honestly. Those first half dozen seasons stands up as well today as it did a generation ago, and will continue to stand. And part of that timelessness was the way they incorporated references to literature, TV and film into the show. Not content to be blunt and obvious like Family Guy and so much comedy now that doesn't expect or make the audience work for the laugh, the Simpsons fell more in line with humour osmosis, incorporating the elements into their own narrative and letting the absurd juxtaposing of the ideas make you nearly pee yourself.
Here then is a supercut of all the film references on the show in the first five years. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some DVDs to marathon through.
[Review] The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 3, "Willie Pete"
|Courtesy of HBO|
Besides, there are new plots to take seriously. And to mock the Occupy movement some more.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that always listens to the tape before blackmailing someone.
Labels: Aaron Sorkin, Reviews, The Newsroom, TV
30 Jul 2013
Star Trek 13: The Chase For Chekov, Or Some Damned Thing
Look, even if you didn't mind the rampant plagiarism inherent in Star Trek Into Darkness, it still wasn't a well made film. Visually, very nicely polished, but the actual structure of the film left much to be desired. According to Badass Digest, the rebooted franchise might be looking to fix things by seeking out new writers.
When I did up my list of things the Trek franchise needs to do to fix itself, the first one was ditch the creative staff. J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci need to step back and let others take control. Trek tends to be at its worst when the folks in charge get too comfortable in their roles, and too reverential in their decisions, as was recently proven.
That Bad Robot will still be the production company behind the film is all but certain, they've won that right via the box office of the last two films. Paramount won't be disrupting that partnership. Which means, even if J.J. doesn't return to the directors seats, he and Bryan Burk will still be on as producers. It appears Kurtzman and Orci will be moving into similar positions, as the cinematic equivalent to show runners, on the next film. This is in line with their role regarding the recent canonical video game, and the on going comic series through IDW.
Kurtzman and Orci are apparently courting writers Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz to pen the next Trek film. Miller and Stentz met while working on Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, moving together to The Sarah Conner Chronicles, then to Fringe, before jumping to film with X-Men First Class and co-writing Thor. I'd have to revisit the specific episodes they contributed to Sarah Conner and Fringe to judge their work there, but I had serious issues with tone and pacing in X-Men First Class. That being said, I love Thor, and consider it to be my favourite of the MCU: Phase One films.
Will this save Trek? I doubt it, so long as Kurtzman and Orci are charting the creative direction of the series. Then again, we might be back to every other Trek film being crap, we've just swapped odds for evens. Only time, and a new film, will tell (which, just don't believe Zachary Quinto when he says it'll film next year).
OK, Now's He's Just Showing Off
I trust Neil Gaiman. He writes a book, chances are it'll be wonderful. He does TV, it'll probably be weird and fun. He writes a film... well, you can't really fault Gaiman for the uncanny valley. It is rare for an author to be so pervasive across the mediums, they generally stick to where they do the best work, but Gaiman (to his credit) works in all mediums. Except video games. Until now. So, like Douglas Adams before him, really he only has personal attire left to conquer before there will be no challenges left to him, and we must accept him as the King Of All Fiction.
If you, for some reason, haven't already.
Via Gamma Squad.
[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 12, "Second Last"
|Courtesy of Reunion Pictures|
This episode was all about the revelations. Practically every secret that was being kept by the various parties came out by the time the credits rolled, which is normally a good thing. Except in this case, where it'll breed contempt, lack of trust, ill will and in a couple cases, out and out vengeance seeking. Conflict is on the horizon, and going into the finale, everyone is just pissed enough to make some very bad decisions. Hooray!
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once lobbed a toaster oven off a roof for no less a noble reason.
29 Jul 2013
I Wonder If Bryan Cranston Cracks Good "In Soviet Russia" Jokes?
Based on this first trailer, Cold Comes The Night, if I'm being honest, seems very much like a direct to video release. It's not an original concept: a desperate mother seeking to save her child from being taken by the state; a criminal seeking money stolen by the hero after stumbling across a crime in progress; hero finds third act courage and goes on blazing revenge kick when criminal holds child for ransom. What Cold Comes the Night has going for it is two things: 1) Bryan Cranston, and b) Alice Eve.
Granted, I'm not sold on Cranston's Russian accent, but I'm 100% convinced he'll stick the performance through sheer talent. And Alice Eve is better then most of her film roles would suggest, stuck in that weird cycle that many British actresses find themselves in when they come across to the US, and get put in just the worst stuff, and asked to stifle their accents in the process. Eve needs more of a Rebecca Hall trajectory then a Gemma Arterton one.
Cold is yet to be given a release date, and I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up going straight to VOD.
Huh, The Internet Got One Right
|Courtesy of HBO|
Getting to the point, one of the many non-nudity (though not exclusively) oriented things the internet loves is making baseless casting suggestions and predictions. I know I do. My baseless casting suggestions for Marvel films, DC movies, and various other things make up a fair chunk of my traffic (and at least show a level of imagination and interest on my part as a writer, then some of my more recent pieces of filler). With the sheer amount of random name and character associations out there, the statistical likelihood of someone getting something right is inevitable. What is odd is pretty much everyone making the same prediction, and getting it right.
Game of Thrones casting predictions are a new favourite pastime for the net. And pretty much everywhere I've seen people guessing at who might be playing whom, I've seen Indira Varma suggested for the role of the Red Viper's bastard paramour Ellaria Sand. And HBO has wisely followed that suggestion and cast the former Torchwood and Luther actress in the role. And, as I said in my spoiler-free list of things to look forward to in the coming seasons of the series, Sand's involvement directly leads to the inclusion of the Viper's clutch of bastard femme fatales, the Sand Snakes. Who are excellent.
Varma will be playing against Pedro Pascal, previously announced as taking the role of the Red Viper, and will be joining Mark Gatiss is his not-yet-announced-but-probably-Mace-Tyrell role. So, yet another startling beautiful and talented actress added to a show that does not need any additional reasons to watch it.
Seriously, other shows would have started coasting on their own coat tails already. Come on HBO, you're making everyone else look bad. Take it down a notch!
Via The Mary Sue.
[Review] - RED 2
|Courtesy of di Bonaventura Pictures|
And that's how they get you. Because RED 2 turned out to be the standard issue sequel, attempting to replicate the formula of the original without doing anything particularly original with it. It isn't exceptional in the same manner that it isn't overly terrible, ultimately making it pretty forgettable.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that didn't see that coming.
Labels: Movies, Reviews
26 Jul 2013
The Lambs Don't Scream, But The Kids Crack Up
I like gag reels, especially those from really dramatic movies and series, if only to show that the actors aren't taking the subject matter as seriously as the characters (and yet another reason I'm not that fond of method actors). So, take a series like Hannibal, which is as deeply dramatic as it is intellectual and metaphorical, and you don't expect there to be a lot of comedy on set. This, despite the fact that one of the Kids In The Hall is in the cast, and that these are still human beings who screw up from time to time.
Would it have been too much to ask for Mads to try to bite someone between takes, though?
Let's Cut Him Loose
Comic-con brought us a Red Band trailer for September's Riddick, which has proven that the amount of violence and cussing has increased from Chronicles, which is good, because it was sorely missed. I, like most, are waiting to see if Riddick is little more then a glossier looking remake of Pitch, which none of the trailers, this one included, have done much to dissuade. I'm still looking forward to seeing Vin Diesel punch a monster in the face though.
However, yet again there is no sign of Karl Urban in this trailer.
|Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television|
OK, pull it together. Come on... whoo whoo whoo. Here we go...
Hehehe. Sad Ruccolo... Dammit!
OK. Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place, later renamed just Two Guys And A Girl, though by that point there were three of each, was a fairly inoffensive attempt to recreate the Friends formula on ABC from 1998 to 2001. Initially a hit for the network, airing after the flagship sitcom The Drew Carry Show, network interference lead to a yearly restructuring of the format, cast and stories. In the end, it was a victim of the Friday Night Death Slot. It is worth looking back at though, for a number of reasons besides being the thing that introduced the world to Ryan Reynolds. It managed to mix Stooge-style physical comedy with the generic relationship humour of the late nighties sitcom in a way that makes the humour seem a little broader then it actually is. Somewhat uniquely, none of the primary were ever paired with each other, bringing in new characters for each, though those secondary characters got passed around like a joint at Laser Floyd show. And the show is pretty much the best example of modern television of characters being hit on the head with things. If you live in Europe, or have a regionless DVD player, the only series DVD's available can be found here, and are unlikely to ever get a Region 1 release.
Twelve years later, and in the shadow of Reynold's latest cinematic failure, what happened to the rest of the cast of this mistreated but well intentioned series? After the jump, we shall find out.
Labels: Featured, Firefly, Nathan Fillion, TV
25 Jul 2013
This Is The Adventure Of Life
Carl Sagan was a great man, on that there is no debate. Perhaps the first person to really bring science into the public domain. In the wake of the moon landings and a public thirst of information, Sagan was able to communicate huge, important ideas and facts in a way that not only could everyone understand, but everyone could fall in love with and become inspired by. Forget Reagan, Sagan was the Great Communicator of the 1980's. In 1980, he presented Cosmos, the grandfather of science documentaries. Turn on the Discovery channel, and what you are seeing (so long as it isn't Auction Kings or some other reality TV bullshit) is a direct result of Cosmos' success and popularity. So it makes sense that his twenty first century counterpart, Neil deGrasse Tyson, would bring Cosmos back for a new generation.
The world is not lacking in science programming. For years, Patrick Moore's The Sky At Night gave British audiences a view of the universe, and Canadian audiences learned much about natural sciences from The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. Nowadays there are entire channels devoted to science and discovery, and the spirit of Cosmos continues in shows like Morgan Freeman's fantastic Through The Wormhole, deGrasse Tyson's own Nova ScienceNOW, or in Radio 4's The Infinitie Monkey Cage. But Cosmos was something different. And unlike the modern speciality cable channels, the original aired on the over-the-air PBS. And the relaunch will air on the equally accessible FOX.
Presented by deGrasse Tyson, and produced by Brannon Braga, Sagan's widow Ann Druyan and science fanatic Seth McFarlane, the new series, complete with modern digital renderings, animated segments and deGrasse Tyson's uncontrollable enthusiasm, this first teaser really sells the exciting, movie quality action that the series will use to hook the viewer, and hopefully make it seem less like a lesson and more like an adventure.
Gravity might just be the year's best film. It's certianly is shaping up to be the most scientifically accurate film of the year, and in my mind those two concepts are as near as makes no difference. There is a lot to like in this trailer above, from a science perspective. First of all, it appears the film has corrected my biggest issue with the initial teaser trailer, in that throughout the length of this preview, there is no sound other then the radio communications. No impact blasts, no explosions, no grinding. Silence, as it should be. And in that final shot, there are no stars, which considering that they were facing the day light side of the planet, in full view of the sun, would be correct; the comparative dimness of the stars would be all but washed out.
After the jump, see the next in the sequence, which takes place on the night side of the world and does feature stars. Clearly, Alfonso Cuaron was paying attention to the details. The George Clooney and Sandra Bullock film hits North American theatres October 4th, and while I hate 3D, I think that this is a film that might be well served by the IMAX and 3D treatment.
Labels: Movies, Science, Space, Trailers
|Courtesy of the BBC|
There has been no discussion, as far as I can tell, about a fourth series of Luther, in much the same way that there was no discussion about a third series at first. Recently, the focus has been more on the possible Alice spin off, or the film prequel. And I think that's for the best. After three series, John Luther has had the absolute worst of life handed to him, misery enough for ten lifetimes. And now it's passed. While I wouldn't consider the ending he got a happy one, it was as clean a break as he might have been able to expect, considering his luck (which, if it was down to the jacket, good gods).
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that will kill you, and eat you. How's that sound?
24 Jul 2013
I have had little faith in Warner Bros and DC to actually make films based on their characters. At least, the characters who don't dress up like a bat. Those that do get made tend to be terrible. And Man of Steel recently proved that, not only is Superman not immune to the lack of quality, but the ghost of the Richard Donner films still well and truly haunts that particular franchise. Above all else, I have long maintained that a Justice League movie will never happen. DC has yet to make a sequel to any non-Batman or Superman property (the most recent Superman sequel occurring 25 years ago), and in recent history, that's only three additional films (Catwoman, Green Lantern, Jonah Hex). And despite an insistence in the wake of the success of the Avengers that a Justice League movie would be made to compete with the sequel, the only thing the companies have given us is delay.
And so it is again. At San Diego on the weekend, Zack Synder announced that the Man of Steel sequel greenlit before the initial film was even released will in fact be a World's Finest film, though that title was not used or confirmed. But the sequel, which will see the return of Henry Cavill as Kal-El, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as that angry guy in the office, and Diane Lane as DC's latest damsel in distress, will also feature an as of yet uncast Bruce Wayne, AKA Batman. Christopher Nolan will return as an executive producer, but it was made clear that Christan Bale will not be reprising the role of Wayne, nor will the Dark Knight trilogy be part of this new DCCU.
This Superman/Batman adventure will be released in the summer of 2015, to go up against Avengers: Age of Ultron. As such, the announcement is paired with the details that a Flash film will be released in 2016, and the Justice League movie has been moved back to 2017, continuing the trend of setting a release date far enough away to hype the project without ever actually having to work on it. I full expect it to be pushed back to 2020 after the release of World's Finest, in favour of a Batman-centric film.
I started this post with the scene from Jurassic Park in which Ian Malcolm berates Hammond for creating the park in the manner he did, and his argument I feel holds true for DC and Warner Bros' attempts to make superhero films. They've seen what others (Marvel) have done, and they want a piece. They make these plans, these big announcements, and constantly have to go back on them because they don't think things through. Marvel sat down, well before Iron Man was made, and laid out a plan. Who, what, when. A detailed road map to follow through Phase One, then did the same thing with Phase Two, and are now doing the same with Phase Three. Years in advance. DC keeps throwing dates and characters at the wall, and shouting their loudest whenever anything sticks, only to watch it streak down the wall, leaving a greasy film behind.
Right now, DC is standing on the shoulders of giants. And wobbling considerably.
[Author's note: I want to make it clear that, between the two, I'm a far bigger fan of the DC characters and comics. I would love to see a well made, intelligent, impactful Justice League movie, like you wouldn't believe. It's just that Marvel doesn't just make better films, they actually make films. And so in this regard, they get the benefit of the doubt, and DC has to prove themselves. So far, they haven't.]
Labels: Batman, DC Comics, Movies, Superman
Marvel Enters A New Age
Well, I don't know about you, but I wasn't expecting that.
At San Diego over the weekend, Joss Whedon and Marvel announced the title of the Avengers sequel, and in the process, named the villain of the piece, and it wasn't who we were expecting. It isn't Thanos, as Avengers teased. And it won't be The Collector, as the Guardians of the Galaxy film has been setting up. It will be Ultron, and the film will be called Age of Ultron, sharing a title with a recent comic from Marvel, but not sharing any of the content, continuing Marvel's films tendency not to directly adapt any specific storyline.
For those unfamiliar, Ultron was a humanoid robot created by Ant-man Hank Pym, who developed sentience, learned to hate his father, love his "mother," the Wasp, and himself created the future Avenger Vision. First appearing in 1968, Ultron is one of the Avengers chief, and longest serving villains. And all of this presents problems, because Hank Pym won't be introduced until Edgar Wright's Ant-man, which will be released six months after Avengers: Age of Ultron. Said Whedon,
"We’re doing our own version of the origin story of Ultron. The other thing is, in the origin story, there was Hank Pym. So a lot of people assumed that he was going to be in the mix, but he’s not. Because we’re basically taking the things from the comics for the movies that we need and can use. A lot of stuff has to fall by the wayside."It doesn't discount using Ultron to introduce Pym as a hook for Phase 3, though the logical new origin would be through the machine shop at Stark Industries. Iron Man 3 already featured a largely autonomous suit, and has featured a nearly sentient AI throughout the series in Jarvis. It makes for a natural evolution for Tony Stark to start developing technologies along those sorts of lines now that he is suit free himself, and would play into his character arc of wanting to remove people from danger, by having drone suits work at a distance. What Ulton's introduction does do is present the very real possibility that Vision might be introduced by film's end, and considering the Vision and Scarlet Witch's long standing romance, might play part of the connective tissue for her character's involvement, or at least set up a plot for future films.
Whedon went on to say that he requested that Marvel use Ultron as the villain in the sequel before the first film began production, whether he was involved in the project or not. He also confirmed that the film will be a global one, be more science fiction-y then the original, which was already pretty high on the sci-fi content, what with wormholes, alien invasions and all. And he confirms, despite rumours that Jeremey Renner might not be returning for the sequel, that the character of Hawkeye will have a larger role in the sequel.
[Review] - The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 2, "The Genoa Tip"
|Courtesy of HBO|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that weren't as good performed by Elvis.
Labels: Aaron Sorkin, Reviews, The Newsroom, TV
23 Jul 2013
His Last Vow
|Courtesy of the BBC|
The Empty Hearse by Mark Gatiss
The Sign of Three by Steve Thompson
His Last Vow by Steven MoffatEmpty Hearse is a take on The Empty House, the 1903 story which brought Sherlock Holmes back to life after his apparent fall to death in The Final Problem. Gatiss has said that Watson's reaction will be intense and not immediately accepting of Sherlock's return as he was in the stories, suggesting that the primary focus of the return episode will be reestablishing the relationship between Sherlock and John, and all that has happened to each in the time that has passed, including Watson's eventual marriage.
The Sign of Three will adapt one of the four Holmes novels, 1890's The Sign of Four, which involved British imperialism, a secret Indian treasure, and introduced Watson's future wife (or, his first, depending on how you interpret Doyle's lack of continuity). If the three word hint "rat, wedding, bow" is any indication, this is the most likely to feature the Watson wedding.
This Last Vow is taken from His Last Bow, the 1917 short story that also lent it's name to the penultimate Holmes collection. It is a spy story set during early days of the First World War, and is chronologically the last of the original Holmes stories, and sees Watson reunited (for the good of the Empire) with Holmes after an extended period, and retirement for both men (Holmes wears a goatee, which Watson dislikes).
There is no expected air date for the series, because it isn't finished filming yet. The final episode was put on hold while Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch returned to New Zealand to finish filming The Hobbit, which they've each just finished within the last couple weeks. Both stars are confirmed to be signed on to appear in a fourth series of the hugely popular adaptation, and Moffat, Gatiss and producer Sue Vertue seem intent on continuing the series for as long as they can, with Cumberbatch and Freeman in the leads, filming episodes whenever their film careers allow, and accepting that years may well pass between various series. In the mean time, there is a suggestion that Gatiss' Mycroft will see an expanded role in the coming series, which I'm fine with. Though, considering his own schedule, they might have to start working around him.
Via Den of Geek, twice.
Dennis Farina Has Died
Dennis Farina died Monday morning of a blood clot in his lung, at the age of 69. A 18 year veteran of the Chicago Police force, he became one of those actors who embodied the best of what it meant to be a character actor. He had all the talent and charm of a lead, and occasionally was. But he was a consignment rock in the roles he was best known for, and his involvement in a project meant at least one thing you could count on.
He was one of my favourite actors, and after the retirement and death of Jerry Orbach, his casting in Law & Order, I thought was an inspired choice, a dedicated move not to replace Orbach with a Briscoe clone, but an entirely different sort of character. He remained with the show for only two years, but was fantastic while he was there, like he was in most things. Often cast as a cop, an assassin or a wise guy, Farina was almost always the tough; the wise ass, combative, antagonistic character who talked shit. I enjoyed him most in his comedic roles, which he played the straight man, and did so well, in films like Get Shorty and Big Trouble, and his most recent role as Nick's dad on New Girl, a character that was rather presciently killed off after only a single appearance. One of my favourite of his roles was that of Jennifer Lopez's father in Out of Sight, where he has only a few scenes, but allowed him to show the gentler loving side of his ability, lacking his usual gruffness. And still managed to intimidate Michael Keaton.
Mob and cop movies won't be the same without him. And Elmore Leonard's works have lost an archetypal sort of character.
[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 11, "Second Guess"
|Courtesy of Reunion Pictures|
That opening sequence though seemed more akin to the one that bookended the season premier, in which Sadler implanted Kiera with the memories of being forcibly detained, for reasons that have not yet been made clear. And this episode did not make immediate use of the discovery that, somewhere, a complete record of everything a CMR has recorded is stored and accessible. I cannot believe that both of those pieces of information won't become relevant in the next couple weeks. Because things are coming to a head, and everyone is losing their minds.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that regularly have conversations with rooms full of a dead guy.
22 Jul 2013
The Needs Of The Many Outweigh The Needs Of The Sploosh
With San Diego Comic-Con in full swing over the weekend, the sheer amount information that is tenuously relevant to the usual content of this site could stand to be staggering over the next couple days. Or, I could ignore it all and post things that make me giggle like a tiny child. Hmm...
Baby giggles it is. Two Guys and A Laptop have done a brilliant thing here, by putting dialogue from Archer into the mouths of the classic animated Star Trek series. I love absolutely everything about it, but mostly I love that A) 1960's Shatner-Kirk would absolutely have been Archer, and while I very much want Adam Reed's next series to be that basic premise, I also understand that it would essentially be the Zapp Brannigan show. And 2) the fact that they kept all the various random computer noises in the background, rather then just overlay the soundtrack over the image. That's the touch that really sells this for me.
Now, obviously, I think the only sensible role for Chekhov would be Bilbo.
[Review] - Much Ado About Nothing
|Courtesy of Bellwether Pictures|
To my mind, the best adaptations of Shakespeare are those that interpret the text, and find new ways of presenting the story. After 400 years, you pretty much have to, otherwise you aren't saying something that hasn't been said many many times already. So, while I respect Kenneth Branagh, his string of Shakespeare films from the nineties sit pretty low on my list, because they not only were one hundred percent loyal to the text, but also tried to maintain a historical context for them. And that, to me, is the dullest way to look at Shakespeare. I'm much more in line with films like Baz Lurhman's Romeo+Juliet, Ralph Finnes' Coriolanus, and now Joss Whedon's Much Ado.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that would never marry a man with a beard.
Labels: Joss Whedon, Movies, Reviews
19 Jul 2013
A Kiwi And Three Brits Sit Down For A Chat
As a cinephile, one of my favourite things is listening to filmmakers talk to other filmmakers. Especially if they work in different genres, if there are generational gaps, or if they work in different aspects of the creative process (directors talking with screenwriters, producers talking to cinematographers, etc). Depth of experience is interesting to me. If you are into that sort of thing, I highly recommend you check out Jon Favreau former IFC show, Dinner for Five.
The point of this is, Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings films, sat down and discussed film making with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the minds behind The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, set to conclude next month with The World's End. I've largely avoided, at Simon Pegg's suggestion, any of the press and marketing for World's End. I'm excited about it and will be seeing, so I don't need additional prodding in that regard, and I'm very intent on not having the film spoiled by a trailer. But this is different. These are men, well established and knowledgeable in their craft, having an honest and frank discussion about their choices. It isn't a puff piece, it isn't a gimmick, and it isn't short.
It is, however, four men who obviously love what they do, and love having people who understand that love to talk about it with.
Gods, We're Going To Have A Whole Year Of This Stuff, Aren't We?
My interest in Amazing Spider-man 2 could not be lower. The first film was everything that is wrong and pointless about endlessly rebooting franchises. What wasn't repetitive was underwritten, what convoluted story there was drove the film, rather then the characters, who were underdeveloped and generally unlikable.
The news that the sequel is apparently stacking villain after villain on top of each other, in what appears to be a run at introducing the Sinister Six, is also unnerving, if only because no super hero film made to date has figured out how to balance more then two villains at once. Any higher then that, and everything just becomes a mess. Mark Webb has the opportunity to prove me, and precedent, wrong, but I doubt he will. The first film wasn't good, and I doubt, considering the fast turn around on the sequel, that this one won't just be more of the same.
All and all, it is a thing that is happening, so here is the first proper look at Jamie Foxx as Electro. If that's your thing. It isn't mine.
Have we figured out who Mark Gatiss will be playing in Game of Thrones yet? No? Damn...
Via The Mary Sue.
[List] - The 6 Best "Cantina" Scenes
If no other scene in Star Wars encapsulates both the outpouring of imagination from the filmmaker, and the ability to capture it in the audience, it's the cantina scene. The apparently limitless variety of alien creatures that inhabit this hive of scum and villainy, and by extension, the universe that Luke and the viewer are about to enter, is breathtaking (Lucas would later reuse the trick in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi). No wonder it has become the standard way to introduce an audience to a breadth of scale in a film. Allow the character to mix, seemingly without hesitation, with an assortment of bizarre, unusual and decidedly alien things, and the audience is willing to accept those things as being real.
After the jump, see some of the scenes that have followed in the cantina's footsteps.
18 Jul 2013
Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother To Visit The Seven Kingdoms
|Courtesy of the BBC|
Mark Gatiss is pretty much awesome. Former League of Gentleman actor, current co-writer/showrunner/recurring star on Sherlock, repetitive Doctor Who contributor, guest player in Being Human, and coming this winter, costarring along side Tom Hiddleston in Josie Rourke's production of Coriolanus at the Donmar, which will eventually be screened by National Theatre Live. Basically, if Gatiss gets involved in something, my interest in that thing goes up.
I thought my interest in Game of Thrones couldn't get any higher. Way to prove me wrong, Benioff and Weiss. Gatiss has been cast in a season 4 role that as of yet is undeclared. I hate reporting on this stuff while it remains undeclared, but I feel it is reasonable to assume that Gatiss, unless his casting is for a one episode or otherwise minor role (which is possible, but I somehow doubt), my guess is that he'll be playing Mace Tyrell, son to Diana Rigg's Olenna Tyrell, and father to Loras and Margeary. His presence at the Royal Wedding is required, and Mace is one of the three major roles confirmed by George R.R. Martin being cast for season 4. Since they've already cast The Red Viper, and I can't see Gatiss playing Styr (though seeing him play against Ciaran Hinds' Mance would be pleasant). So, I'm laying my money on Mace.
Via The Mary Sue.
Here is the first trailer for Joel Schroeder's Dear Mr. Watterson, a documentary that looks to essentially be about how much everyone loves Calvin and Hobbes. Which is true, but I don't know if that is the meatiest thesis on which to base a documentary around - it is pretty much a given, and self proving. It is also important to note that Schroeder didn't interview Watterson for this documentary, because Watterson doesn't give interviews. So, while he have the likes of Berkeley Breathed, Bill Amend and Seth Green speaking about the influence Watterson had on the medium at the time and since, we don't have anything new from the man himself.
Which, I suppose is his point. The strips speak for themselves. And one of the many, many reasons I love Calvin and Hobbes is because, like The Peanuts before it, the timeless intelligence doesn't date the strip, and makes it accessible and multigenerational, in a way the Doonesbury or Outland never will be, because they are so specifically mired in a time and a place and an event.
Oh, and if you want to feel a kinder set of emotions, have a look at this adorable cosplay.
Labels: Calvin and Hobbes, Comics, Movies, Trailers
|Courtesy of the BBC|
It was also, from start to finish, one of the tensest, best plotted, balanced and acted episodes in the run of the programme. And made me really interested in what Neil Cross' take on Batman would look like.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have spent their lives thinking they were the whirlwind.
17 Jul 2013
September 24th, 8pm. ABC.
That is the official premier of Marvel's first attempt to bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe to television, Joss Whedon's return to TV since the cancellation of Dollhouse in 2010, and the return of Clark Gregg as a not as dead as they thought Agent Phil Coulson, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. I'm excited, are you? You should be. Not only is the arrival of SHIELD good news for we fans of the Coulson character, it could potentially lead to further expansion of the MCU. If SHIELD is as big a hit on network TV (admittedly, not that big a mountain as in former years), and can maintain at least a baseline quality, then ABC and Marvel have the potential to access dozens of more properties that could find a better life on TV then in the films.
In a business that increasingly relies on the comfort and reliability of franchises, is it really such an extreme idea to think that, in three or four years, that there might be several shows on ABC, if not an entire evening, under the MCU banner. I don't think so.
Labels: Avengers, Joss Whedon, Marvel, Trailers, TV
Everything Is Better With Puppets
It just is. Now, I have low expectations for next week's Wolverine, mostly because every X-Men movie since X2 has been a crisp puddle of badger spit and I'm not getting my hopes up again. I refuse. The movie has every opportunity to surprise me.
But I can guaren-damned-tee you had the entire thing been made with puppets, I'd have bought my tickets months ago.
Via The Mary Sue.
[Review] - The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 1, "First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers"
|Courtesy of HBO|
The first season wasn't perfect, that's true. Better the Studio 60, not anywhere near West Wing, probably hanging out in the same neighbourhood as SportNight. Not a bad place to be, all things being equal. It didn't change the history of television, but it wasn't a noxious turd in the pool of cable programming either. Still and all Aaron Sorkin believed there was room for improvement, and set out to make season 2 Newsroom 2.0. So, did he succeed?
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which had some stuff happen to them in Africa.
Labels: Aaron Sorkin, HBO, Reviews, The Newsroom, TV
16 Jul 2013
Trailer Tuesday: Saving Mr. Banks
Next, and last, up in Trailer Tuesday (an event so rare the Mayans predicted it would never happen) is a film I've been looking forward to some a while. Saving Mr. Banks is the real story of the twenty year effort Walt Disney made to badger P.L. Travers for the rights to adapt her children's books about a nanny called Mary Poppins (don't tell me if he succeeded or not, I don't want to spoil the ending). In the film, Disney is played by Tom Hanks, and Travers is played by Emma Thompson. As awards-bait as that may sound, I'd watch those two tear apart a phonebook and use it to insulate a small den, or work room.
The film also stars just a pile of talent, like Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Rachel Griffiths and Ruth Wilson. That, and I'm a sucker for any movie whose basis is "film can be magical." Something about that ideal tugs at the mechanical vacuum where my heart should be. Instead of a automated system of valves, and a dedicated little gerbil that has to be replaced every two months.
Trailer Tuesday: How To Train Your Dragon 2
It's been a while since I did a Trailer Tuesday, mostly because that's never been a thing I've done, but a couple decent trailers have appeared, and I'm a lazy, lazy man.
First up, How To Train Your Dragon 2, which I had no idea was near enough to being finished to have a trailer. I know Jay Baruchel has been super excited about it, and mentioned it often in interviews while hocking This Is The End, but still the trailer suddenly arriving took me by surprise.
Full disclosure: I only saw the original one last summer. I know. When it came out, I was attracted to the dragons, but thought it looked like yet another DreamWorks animated film, aimed a little too squarely at the child market, and not enough at the "everyone can enjoy this" market that I occupy. Then spent the next three years hearing it in both ears about how I should see it, and how wonderful it is, and how it really is quite good and all that.
What tipped me over the edge was Brave. Specifically, Craig Ferguson in Brave, and all the press he gave on his show to the the Pixar movie that left me cold. Because everytime he turned around, he reminded the viewers that he had done a voice in Dragon. Then Gerard Butler would be on the show, and they'd talk about it. Then Baruchel would guest, and they'd talk about it. So, finally I said enough and watched it (happily, I'd owned the damned thing for about a year at that point, having picked it up on the cheap and still never actually sat down to watch it). And I loved it. It was exactly what everyone kept going on about. And from this early teaser, clearly the aerial sequences are still as lovely looking.
The film will be released next summer, at which point, while I haven't been waiting as long as everyone else for it, it will be nice to see Hiccup and Toothless again.
|Courtesy of Reunion Pictures|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have come from the future. From the even more future.
15 Jul 2013
Revenge Is A Comic Best Served Cold
I think I've realised the biggest issue with Star Trek Into Darkness, besides everything from the ground up: so much of what was done, and what is being done, is just repeating what was successful the first time J.J. Abrams got behind the camera. In the film, many of the jokes were framed the same way, and the set pieces were largely the same (sky jump, sword fight with aliens, Leonard Nimoy). The first film was bold and had something new and worth while to say, whereas Darkness just felt like two and a half hours of stuttering.
And it wasn't just the film. Even the supplementary materials are following the same pattern. Like the first film, Darkness had a comic prequel which was alright, but paled compared to the original. And now Darkness is following suit with a followup comic about the villain. Yes, IDW will be publishing a four issue miniseries that tracks Khan's life before he was frozen in a tube and shot into space (or, possibly, the period of time between when Robocop unfroze him and when he blew up Mickey from Doctor Who).
The original comic followup, Nero, actually had a purpose. It was a comic adaptation of several minutes of deleted footage from the film that explained where Nero had been for the twenty years between when he blew up Kirk's dad, and when he blew up Vulcan. Turns out, he was being held by the Klingons. Then broke out. Then uses Borg technology to mind meld with V'Ger from The Motion Picture, in order to find Nimoy's Spock Prime. Yes, it was exactly that odd, and only the Klingon stuff was from the film. The rest was to fill up the pages to get it to four issues.
I suspect that this book is more about trying to convince fans that making Cumberbatch Khan wasn't a stupid mistake, by trying to make the character engaging and different, tasks that should have been handled on the screen. It is being written by the ongoing master of all reboot Trek comics, Mike Johnson, who has had the unenviable task of cleaning up the screenwriter's mistakes on the comics pages for some time now, with Roberto Orci providing guidance (gods help us) and artist Claudia Balboni making it look nice. Even money says that Khan is white and British now because of plastic surgery by Section 31, to make him less recognisable to the public (this assumes that Khan's face is as recognisable to future folk as, say, Hitler's is to us).
So, a comic about the biggest part of the film I wish to pretend didn't happen. I think I'll skip it, thanks.
The Original Mad Man With A Box
Replacing actors who have played the Doctor is not without precedent. By the time of the Five Doctors 20th anniversary special, First Doctor William Hartnell was dead (and considering Tom Baker's refusal to appear, they couldn't very well call it Another Three Doctors). Richard Hurndall was brought in to play the First, and did a decent enough job of it, at least getting the voice and mannerisms down it not particularly looking like Hartnell. There are a part of me that hoped that the 50th might be an eleven Doctor free-for-all, and that Moffat and co might simply recast the first three Doctors, those that have passed.
In a way, that has been done. And not by Moffat, but by his Sherlock writing partner Mark Gatiss, for the 50th anniversary docu-drama for BBC2, Adventures in Space and Time. The drama will recount the history of getting the series on air, and will feature several actors playing the actors that played the original parts. And for our first look at the special, which I'm a tiny bit more excited for then the actual 50th special, is David Bradley as William Hartnell, as the First Doctor.
Bradley, of course, has most recently been truly spectacular as Walder Frey in Game of Thrones, for which he deserves many awards that aren't specific to sci-fi and fantasy. And, he earned his "appeared on Doctor Who" chit for playing Solomon in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, a role I dearly wish he hadn't played because I desperately want him to appear as the First on the series proper now, having seen him in the kit. He looks exactly like Hartnall. How exactly? Well, here is Hartnall from the time, for comparison.
Now I'm very interested to see how Reece Shearsmith turns out as Patrick Troughton.
Via The Mary Sue.
[Review] - Pacific Rim
|Courtesy of Legendary Pictures|
It's just a damned shame that the final product was pretty much rubbish.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have never misused the word "evolve."
Labels: Aliens, Movies, Reviews, Robots
12 Jul 2013
We've Got A Floater
Kristen Bell hasn't had the post Veronica Mars success everyone had thought she would have. Since her break out, she's never been out of work, but early momentum coming off the series and transitioning into films was held up by the constant delays that plagued Fanboys. By the time it was released, she had all but shed her geek-centric career, following appearances in Heroes and Astro Boy. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which, title character aside, she was not the star of), she then moved into regrettable cookie cutter romcom flops that are as generic as the way this sentence is going to end. Lately, she's returned to the world of TV with House of Lies, and taken to appearing in smaller roles in films like Safety Not Guaranteed and Scream 4.
Last year saw her in Hit and Run, which I liked but others were not as impressed by (to be fair, what I liked about it was the chemistry between her and real life partner Dax Shepard). This year, she does in yet another direction, the deeply dramatic coming of age route, sure to be awards bait come that time of the year, The Lifeguard. Despite starring her and Party Down's Martin Starr, it doesn't look like Lifeguard, about a woman who moves back in with her parents, takes her old high school job and starts having an affair with a 16 year old boy, will have a lot of laughs.
And then to balance it out, next year we'll get some new Veronica Mars, and then start the whole cycle all over again.
Hooray, Something For Alan Moore To Bitch About
|Courtesy of DC Comics|
I'm going to pause to let that information sink in. League, a densely packed graphic novel love song to Victorian literature, was infamously adapted into a film that isn't that good, and successfully killed any joy Sean Connery got from making films, resulting in his retirement (he remains, however, the best thing about the movie). It was also another in a long string of adaptations of his works that Alan Moore was extraordinarily vocal against, demanding that his name be removed from the project, he didn't have creative control over his own works, etc. etc. I understand his arguments, and agree with them to a point, though with League I was less sympathetic because the characters are all public domain, and the plot of the film bares only a cursory resemblance to the originating book. Moore's opinion on the matter is that he's stealing characters and creating original stories for them to take part in, while adaptations are just lazy excuses to feed off of someone else's creativity. It's a fine line, but I do agree that the better adaptations are the ones that use the characters, but create their own plots (look, largely, at the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
Anyway, I've gotten off topic, which is that FOX, the only America network to give science fiction a chance, has ordered a "push pilot," which means there will be financial repercussions for the network if they don't pick the series up, meaning it will probably at least get a short order. Michael Green, late of The River, is running the show, but no word on other writers or cast. In fact, no word on which characters will be involved, though one imagines it will stick closely to the Alan Quatermain/Mina Harper/Invisible Man/Dr. Jekyll/Captain Nemo lineup of the original book. There series will, it is wisely assumed, share no connection to the film, though the non-Connery cast cannot be said to have been the film's weakness either.
This comes on the heels of the announcement of Showtime's picking up of Penny Dreadful from John Logan and Sam Mendes, which is described as a "psychosexual horror series" set in the Victorian era, featuring Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Grey (who was an addition to the League film) and several Dracula characters. With NBC already teasing their horrible looking Dracula adaptation, it makes me wonder if FOX has decided to rush development of the League series to compete with these developments, all of which are free to use the same characters so long as they fall into the public domain. Which means, at some point in the next year, there could be three separate versions of the character of Dracula on TV.
One can't help but wonder if the popularity and success of Sherlock and Elementary are partly to blame for the resurgence of using the classic Victorian characters. Or if it was just an accountant realising they didn't have to pay for any of the character rights.
Right now, the focus in the geek world is on Doctor Who, and wondering with hyperactive futility who the Dozenth Doctor might be. Barely a month after Matt Smith announced he was stepping down from the role, and already the list of actors "offered the role," and equally the list of actors who have confirmed they haven't been asked, is longer then is decent to repeat. So I'm not going to do that (I was, in November, by which point I assume it will be pointless). Instead, I'll go against the grain, and make my casting suggestions for a show that most people have probably forgot is going to be a show: Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
Back in April, HBOWatch reported that "American Gods will debut this year if Gaiman can get the pilot script done in time to HBO's satisfaction." Now, I have a hard time believing that statement to be true. I suspect if HBO has any intentions towards American Gods, it would be to start production of the series at some point this year, with an expected 2014 or 2015 screen debut. That seems much more reasonable, considering the script isn't finished, there is no cast or creative team hired (beyond Gaiman himself, but the series will need a staff and showrunner), and that American Gods, if done properly, could be on a scale similar to Game of Thrones.
But it does get one excited for the possibility of seeing Neil Gaiman's novel translated to the screen sooner rather then later, and in a format that will better serve the source material then having to carve out the heart of the story to fit it into movie form. But who could fill the roles of Gaiman's complex and engaging characters? This is something HBO will have to start thinking about soon, and something I've already put a bit of thought into myself.
Hit the jump for the list, which contains spoilers for American Gods. So if you haven't read it, go do so immediately, then come back and have a look at the list.
Labels: Books, HBO, Neil Gaiman, TV
11 Jul 2013
Unstoppable Force Meets Indestructible Object?
With the San Diego Comiccon right around the corner, and what I expect to me a myriad of announcements from Marvel concerning their upcoming features (expect a Captain America teaser, final cast confirmations on Guardians some of which have already been released, and possibly announcements for all Phase 3 films), I've been hesitant to post any of the information trickles that have been appearing the last week or so. But I felt I couldn't pass up the opportunity, before the flood gates opened, to post this first teaser image of Captain America: The Winter Solider (AKA the SHIELD movie that got shelved because Agent Coulson needs a TV series to contain all his awesome). Though, is it really being released in April? I would have thought May, at least. April seems... less tentpole, more cautious optimism.
Either way, looks like Cap's in for some rough times. Excellent.
|Courtesy of the BBC|
Also, if there is a story about the image above, we certainly didn't learn what it was in these episodes. Let's hope Neil Cross is planning another novel, to fill in the gaps.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are really starting to like this guy.
|Courtesy of Universal Cable Productions|
Last season, I was justifiably hard on Warehouse 13. This season (or half season, whichever), I went a little easier because there were episodes that deserved applause. Fewer and farther between then in years past, to be sure, but they were there. This was not one of them. Season 4 ended not at all, as it happens, but after last week's posturing to get to here, I mistakenly thought that meant this week something of note would happen. It didn't. What it was, was 40 odd minutes of building towards a cliffhanger, which means it was 40 minutes of wasted opportunity.
At this point, it's no wonder why the series was given a six episode run to resolve everything the finale set up, because all the finale did was set up plot points demanding to be resolved. And that is no way to write a television series.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are as dumb as Pete.
10 Jul 2013
|Yeah, that's me.|
Apparently, neither has George R.R. Martin. And he would know, you know?
Martin, posting on his LiveJournal, said:
"It’s a terrific design, and it has served the show very well…Everyone knows it. I love it. I have all those replicas right here, sitting on my shelves. And yet…it’s still not right. It’s not the Iron Throne I see when I’m working on The Winds of Winter. It’s not the Iron Throne I want my readers to see. The way the throne is described in the books.. HUGE, hulking, black and twisted, with the steep iron stairs in front, the high seat from which the king looks DOWN on everyone in the court…my throne is a hunched beast looming over the throne room, ugly and assymetric…"So how does the creator himself envision the Iron Throne. Find out, after the jump.
Labels: Books, Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, HBO, TV
I Don't Give A Damn
Last year, in the wake of The Newsroom getting some pretty shaky reactions from the critics, Kevin Porter put together a clip montage of all the times from Sorkin's previous series (and a few of his films) that the writer reused the same expressions, metaphors, and plot devices. My response at the time was a firm and decisive "who cares?" Every single writer does this. If they've written more then two things, there are going to be shared elements. A good writer basks in the language, and if they've picked up a phrase that balances just right, then of course they're going to reuse it. And as for plot devices, a good plot is hard thing to ignore. Especially if it can be better used someplace new. Read the last issue of Joss Whedon's Frey, then watch the final twenty minutes of the Avengers. Notice the similarities? And which one did it better?
So I don't mind Sorkin using the same stuff over and over again. In fact, I champion. An isolated vernacular can become an author's signature, and that the video exists is proof enough that it has become this to Sorkin. It isn't something to criticise, it is something to celebrate, and then becomes fun to keep an eye out for.
With season 2 of the series starting on Sunday on HBO, Porter has created a sequel to his original video, complete this time with clips from the first season of Newsroom. And it's a pretty fun couple of minutes. And a reminder, as if we needed one, that West Wing still is one of the best pieces of television, ever.
[Review] - Rush
"We’ve got a gazillion songs so let’s get started."
I'm impressed by technical achievement. People at the top of their game, working at the extremes of their abilities, and turning out amazing products is something I can respect and enjoy. Musicians especially, have a special place in my heart, partly because I have no musical ability at all, and envy them so, but also because anyone who has lasted decades in the industry, continues to create new music, while performing their originals like it was second nature, deserves admiration.
Which brings us to Rush, recent (and long overdue) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, and the real headliners of the 2013 Bluesfest (they received an earlier start then any other group, had no warm up acts, and played a longer full set then any other have been allowed). The crowds packed in to Lebreton Flats Monday night to experience the band, and they were not disappointed; it was an experience. Loud, long, bright and mesmerising, the evening was something to behold. If not wall to wall perfect.
Hit the jump for the review.
Labels: Music, Reviews
9 Jul 2013
I Want To Go To There
Saturn has always been my favourite planet, and really how could it not be? It is so very pretty. I remember when I was young, and I looked through a telescope and saw Saturn for the first time, at that perfect time during its orbit that the rings were turned towards us, and I was able too up and see what Galileo called Saturn's ears.
So, I've had a softspot in my heart for the Cassini space probe, which has been blasting back to Earth the best images we've ever seen of Saturn and its various moons since it arrived in 2004 (having set off from Earth in 1997). Apparently, so does Stephen van Vuuren, who has assembled over a million still images generated by Cassini during it's voyage to the ringed planet, enhanced the images into a 2.5D state without using CG to alter them or manipulate them, and strung them together into what he calls "non-narrative visual poetry" at IMAX resolutions. And to that end, the film, called In Saturn's Rings, will be released in IMAX later next year.
Why people insist on expecting magic from a universe that already has this in it, I'll never understand.
Way To Be, Duck
I did warn you all that, because of the American Long Weekend, it might be a slow couple of days until the news machine got up and running again. Unlike the Canadian Long Weekend, which barely caused the internet to wobble, because a long weekend to a Canadian is no reason not to show to work the next day and get back to it.
Anyway, to fill the gap, I call attention to Ze Frank's bizarre and fantastic series of videos, True Facts About..., which blend the absurdity of natural biology which a pretty decent Morgan Freeman impression and the batshit insanity of the evolutionary process. I've liked the video on ducks, which is hilarious for reasons you'll discover when you watch it, but really, watch any of the videos. The one on Aye Ayes is good, and the Sea Pig too. In fact, just watch all of them. I started off watching the one on the Mantis shrimp, suddenly its an hour later, and I've just learned a lot more then I ever thought I would about bird rape.
Oh, and he's also got one about Morgan Freeman. Yeah, it's kind of awesome.
[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 9, "Seconds"
|Courtesy of Reunion Pictures|
After two weeks off (thanks a lot Canada Day Long Weekend and, umm... Week Before Canada Day Long Weekend), Continuum returns and so does Inspector Dillon. But the return is not all sunshine and roses. In fact, in Seconds, Continuum took a dark turn that started with a gun shot, ended with some torture, and pretty much left every character short of Carlos in a place so morally ambiguous that it is hard to tell who the good guys are any more.
Hit the jump which contains spoilers that have been shot at, hunted and generally despised.
8 Jul 2013
The Ranger Stood Alone
|Courtesy of Disney|
"There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm." That was Steven Spielberg a month ago speaking at the University of Southern California. He posited a future where the financial failure of blockbusters - a classification he helped invent with the success of Jaws in 1977 - would result in a price disparage between "tent pole" films and smaller niche movies.
Since then, we've already seen his prediction come to pass, with Megatickets being sold for World War Z and Pacific Rim, tickets which include a slew of extras, including a digital format of the film upon home release. And over the weekend we saw Spielberg proved right again, with the apparent failure of the Johnny Depp lead Lone Ranger. The $200 million film made less then a quarter of that across five days, which fell below even the adjusted estimates of $60 million made by the studio on Thursday. Bad reviews and poor word of mouth, and being a western which generally perform poorly in international markets (it is traditionally an American genre) suggest that it will only continue to fall, and will limp, if not outright disappear from the top ten rather quickly.
Financial failure is nothing new in films; there are always bombs. This just happens to be the biggest one so far this year, and certainly the highest profile, what with Depp, Jerry Bruickheimer and Gore Verbinski's names all over it (it was marketed above all else as the team that brought you the Pirates franchise, a claim that holds less weight with each new entry). Last year, it was John Carter bombing in March that set off the summer movie system, and its been a while since a major studio lost so big on such a "sure thing." And on the July 4th weekend to boot. It is also another kick in the crotch of the star system, which many claimed Brad Pitt was the reason for the success of World War Z. But this is just the latest in a string of films sold on Depp's name that have come up dry (like last year's abysmal Dark Shadows). Having a name attached isn't necessarily a selling point anymore.
And I'm in favour of it. We need failures like this, to force the studios to reexamine the movie making process. Making a movie because it will test well, focus groups like it, or it is as generic as possible to appeal to the largest audience isn't working as well as they thought. And even the movie that make money aren't technically making money. Man of Steel had a sizable opening weekend, but didn't break any records (and the majority of it's profits came from licensing agreements with corporations). And the drop off the following week was 63%, because word had gotten around that it wasn't worth seeing. The reason that Dark Knight and Avengers ended up making billions of dollars is because, above all else, those were good films. They were good from the core. They were built around ideas, and genuine affection for the material, and had people involved that actually cared about telling a story that was worth something rather then just making a movie people would be likely to see. They made billions because people kept going back and watching them in theatres again and again. With films like Man of Steel and Lone Ranger, those that see them straight away will tell others not to.
The studios need to remember, which they do from time to time, and always seem to forget, is that if making movies is a business, which it is, then the business needs to make money. And to make money, you need to have a product people actually want, and will enjoy. Summer blockbusters are the equivalent to that crap that gets sold late at night on TV: cheaply made, prone to breaking and not worth the money invested or paid. Big movies can be good movies too, and good movies keep making you money for years, even decades if its good enough. It just takes that extra little bit of effort right from the start, and that extra little bit is too much effort for most studios.
My biggest worry from the Lone Ranger is Ruth Wilson. The lady is a fantastic actress, but I don't want to see her fall into the Gemma Arterton trap: a talented British actress, who comes to America and ends up being wasted as the long interest in a series of empty headed CGI slogs, instead of actually doing something worth watching, which they have to go back home to the UK to manage. Alice Eve looks poised to follow this same misguided path, and they are all so much better then what they are being told they should appear in (at least, I hope that's the case, and they aren't making these horrible decisions because they feel the projects were worth it).
Remember though: as bad as Lone Ranger is, it could have been worse. It could have had werewolves.
Via Box Office Mojo.