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Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World: Time to Kill the Abrams Franchise Reboots

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J.J. Abrams wasn’t the first to do it, but there’s no doubt that his Star Trek reboot influenced the giant pile of crap that Terminator Genisys became.

The conventional reboot was bad enough. The J.J. Abrams flavor of reboot played at paying tribute to the original, throwing in fan service and original cast appearances, and then used some flavor of time travel to eliminate the original.

And the Abrams reboots are even worse because they pander to fans of the original before showing their dislike for it by trashing it. A vanilla reboot would be satisfied to just sex up and retell the story. An Abrams reboot has to show you that the original never happened and it’s the only game in town.

Terminator Genisys was running on the same sensibility. Take chunks of the original, freshen them up in a way that’s deliberately insulting while appealing to someone’s idea of what millennial audiences want to see, and then use the story to nuke the original premise.

Abrams got away with it. At least once. Genisys didn’t.

Jurassic World is smashing Genisys to pieces with a template for making a sequel that’s not a reboot and shows affection and respect for the original.

If Jurassic World was the Abrams Genisys kind of reboot, it would have time traveling raptors undo the original Jurassic Park. And then it would reveal that Hammond was a raptor in disguise.

Hollywood execs are taking the wrong lessons from the Terminator Genisys failure about franchises. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t the problem here. The problem was a movie that tried to play to two audiences while alienating both.

Fans of the original movies were being teased with promises of a continuation and given a reboot instead that trashed the originals and everything that made them work. The Transformers audience was being promised robots smashing things only to get a workup of a bunch of movies they never saw or cared about.

Like casting a pale skinny Tumblr friendly Englishman as Khan in Abrams Trek II, there’s a huge disconnect between taking a bad actress from Game of Thrones and trying to use her petite self to replace Linda Hamilton while making her a ninja warrior.

Like all the Khan callbacks in Abrams Trek II, the echos infuriate fans and bore new audiences. No one is served.

If you’re going to reboot, then just reboot. Don’t give us an origin story with time travel that undoes the original. No one wants it or needs it. If you have to blow up Vulcan or turn John Connor into the enemy, that’s not storytelling, it’s spite.

And why reboot?

Jurassic World dropped the characters, kept the dinos and made huge money. J.J. Abrams could have made a movie in the Star Trek universe with new characters. It would probably have worked even better with a sequel because Abrams Trek II suffered from not having any of the goodwill of the classic characters coming together from the first.

Terminator Genisys didn’t need to obsess over Sarah and John Connor. Someone else can be the savior of humanity or at least fight time traveling killer robots. Emilia Clarke could have played some British girl who has to be taken out in the UK for Skynet to win.

The Abrams reboot is a dysfunctional relationship with an original franchise that the newbies hate, but can’t let go of. They do fan service that they hate and then alienate the fans and new audiences.

It’s stupid and maybe the success of Jurassic World and failure of Terminator Genisys will bring some changes.

Don’t make more Abrams Treks or Abrams Terminators. Make more Jurassic Worlds. Even Abrams is going that route with the Star Wars sequels.

It’s time to kill the reboot.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the New Dark Knight

Remember how every comic book movie was going to turn into The Dark Knight? I think it’s officially happened. Whatever you were expecting from Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, it wasn’t super-serious lines about the world needing heroes.

Maybe this doesn’t reflect what the movie actually is. Maybe the decision was that people don’t really care about seeing ninja turtles and just want to look at Megan Fox while getting some kind of backstory. Genetically engineering turtles in a lab in order to create heroes is a really terrible idea, but at least Michael Bay isn’t doing the aliens thing anymore. That’s a step up.

TMNT is supposed to be fun though. It’s not supposed to be The Dark Knight. It’s not supposed to be desaturated shots of a hopeless New York City being blown up because the police can’t do their job and the only Batman four mutant turtles can stop the killing.

The James Bond Codename Theory was Always in the Script

The codename theory of James Bond, if you’re not familiar with it, is that James Bond isn’t a name, but a codename. It’s often passed off as a fan idea, but it was in the original darker Ben Hecht script for Casino Royale.

The 40 pages of the draft dated February 20 1964 elaborated on many of the scenes and ideas in these pages, but add an unusual gimmick. Bond is precisely the same character as he was in the other drafts: suave, laconic, ruthless and predatory. But he is not James Bond. Instead, he is an unnamed American agent called in by M who is given the name James Bond. M says that “since Bond’s death” MI6 has put several agents into operation using his name: “It not only perpetuates his memory, but confuses the opposition.”

After this scene this agent is indistinguishable from Bond, and doesn’t seem American at all. It may be that Feldman was also considering how to make the film with an actor other than Sean Connery. There are very few logical inconsistencies in Hecht’s material – this gimmick sticks out like a sore thumb.

The producers flirted with an American James Bond and Ben Hecht’s solution for preserving continuity and canon was the codename theory.

The fan idea had already been thought up long beforehand by the writer behind Underworld, Scarface, The Front Page, The Thing and Gone With the Wind.

 

I Have No Opinion on This

Except that Bruce Willis calling himself a working class 007 tips off just how much this franchise has changed.

Daniel Day Lewis’ Performance in Lincoln Looks Horrible

Spielberg can ladle on all the filters and uplifting music this production can stand and it’s obvious even from the trailer how terrible Daniel Day Lewis is.

The voice is the first thing that most people notice. Yes Lincoln’s voice was not orator-quality, but it wasn’t the contemporary bland, “I’m Not British, but I Totally Am” accent that Daniel Day Lewis is doing that’s the equivalent of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Atlantic accent. His voice was reportedly high and reedy with a backwoods accent, which Lewis’s is not. And Lincoln managed to capture the audience, Daniel Day Lewis just sits there in 50 pounds of makeup looking like he stepped into the Uncanny Lincoln Valley and never came out again.

Maybe there’s some moment where his performance comes alive, but here it looks as dully as dishwater. This is shameless Oscar bait loosely timed for an election when people are engaged with politics and searching for a purity of inspiration. It continues Spielberg’s downward trend and may finally end the myth that Daniel Day Lewis is a great actor. Like Christian Bale, he cultivates intensity in mannered performances that have no soul or truth to them. Lincoln will make obvious what everyone knew all along.

 

Stand Up Guys

A remake of Mikey and Nicki might not have been a bad idea and that’s what Stand Up Guys, the new movie starring Christopher Walken in the Peter Falk role and Al Pacino in the John Cassavetes part looks like. Except it also looks like it was crossed with The Bucket List and some shades of Al Pacino’s roles in Scent of a Woman and Carlito’s Way. The trailer gives away what Mikey and Nicky slowly painfully led up to and turns it into another story about a con or ex-con experiencing all that life has to offer before the end.

Will Stand Up Guys at least have the guts to do the kind of ending that The Last Detail went with? The trailer certainly doesn’t make you feel that.

Stand Up Guys has some similarities to The Last Detail, but it seems mired in sentimentality, a sentimentality that has as much to do with the careers of Pacino and Walker as with the characters that they play.

Arnold Schwarzenegger does a Western

The Last Stand. No, not the stand before. The absolutely very last stand. The Last Stand is one of those post-Western Westerns, so it’s basically a Western with Arnold as a sheriff who has to stop a drug cartel from smashing through his town.

the last stand movie poster

This really is the last stand. Not the penultimate stand.

PC (Posse Comitatus) means the military can’t send in a strike force of jets, but come on, police forces are so militarized now that the LAPD probably has helicopter gunships and rocket launchers. Still it’s somewhat ripped from the headlines. Cartel violence is serious stuff in Mexico and some of it is spilling over.

I don’t know who this was written for, but it probably wasn’t Arnold. This is a part that Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t right for, but that he might not screw up either. This is Longmire stuff and Arnold with his heavy accent and rigid smirk isn’t that guy, but for a comeback it’s not a bad move.

Just remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger had a string of box office bombs before running for Governor. If this thing has a moderate budget, he might be okay, but The Last Stand won’t be a major hit. Still it’s a comfortable position for a comeback. Limited expectations and a familiar, but somewhat different role.

The Copland vibe is there, but The Last Stand seems more action movie, than serious actor part.

Bashing Bourne

It’s fashionable to bash some movies and Bourne, which dumped its director and star when they whined too much about their hideously expensive Green Zone vanity project not getting enough support, was ripe for it. But the latest Bourne movie is no box office disaster. Bourne knocked The Dark Knight Rises out of its top spot and had a pretty good ten grand per theater average.

It isn’t in the range of the last Bourne movie, but the Bourne Ultimatum wasn’t up against the Dark Knight. It was up against the Simpsons movie. The real question is how much staying power it will have.

Red Dawn Dawning – Can North Korea Invade America?

First actual trailer for Red Dawn and it does have that old Wolverines vibe.

The most obvious problem is the superweapon gimmick. Probably some kind of pulse weapon. If you’re going to have an invasion of the United States you have to go pulse. But turning it into a portable weapon just detracts from whatever realism can be sustained.

The second most obvious problem. North Korea. But more suspension of disbelief is required. Here’s how Homefront, a cousin of sorts to Red Dawn, supposedly written by John Millius, though maybe not, handled that same problem.

Could North Korea invade the United States? Homefront’s opening tries to make a case for it with a North Korean takeover of South Korea and Japan while the US implodes in a massive financial crisis and pulls troops out of Asia. Then bird flu hits America followed by a pulse weapon attack that destroys America’s power grid.

I doubt Red Dawn has spent as much time working out a semi-plausible scenario for all this to take place. Homefront wasn’t that great of a game but it seemed to put more thought into this than Red Dawn is likely to have done.

The only way this can work is if America is falling apart while North Korea is getting its Reich on.

Die Hard Must Die

A Good Day to Die Hard? That’s not my title, that’s the actual title of the next Die Hard sequel. Sure they could just call it Die Hard 5 or Die Hardererer, but this is dumber.

Why should you look forward to A Good Day to Die Hard? It comes to you from the writer of Wolverine, Hitman (the movie not the game) and the A-Team. All three of those movies were horrible failures. But he did Swordfish ten years ago. And it comes from the director of Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix and Max Payne. Those are at least better movies than Wolverine and Hitman.

But that’s not the problem with A Good Day to Die Hard.

Do you know who John McClane is? He’s a cop. Ordinary guy who somehow stumbles into extraordinary situations and stumbles through them while running with bloody feet and cursing. That is what made Die Hard work. Then John McClane got jammed into an adaptation of a novel that wasn’t about him, but it still worked a bit. Then he got dumped into a buddy cop movie in the middle of New York City. That didn’t work that great, but it sorta worked. All of those movies were on some level still grounded in the ordinary nature of John McClane, who can kill a dozen bad guys, but does it by the skin of his teeth and never intended to dive into this.

All that came to a complete end with Live Free or Die Hard. It’s coming to a bigger end with A Good Day to Die Hard which is set in Russia. Yes Russia. Because when you think of John McClane, you think of Russia.

Now A Good Day to Die Hard is very obviously borrowing from Taken. But it’s actually worse than that.

Q. What can you say about the story?

A. McClane and Jack are very estranged, but like any parent it doesn’t matter how estranged you are from your kid, you still feel for them. He discovers that Jack is in trouble in Moscow and he goes to try to help, but he’s got the wrong end of the stick. Jack is not the person he thought he was and he’s mixed up in some very serious international business, and John finds himself in the eye of the storm. He finds himself in a situation that he, at first, screws up for Jack, but ultimately finds himself in a position where he helps Jack put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Q. Fox chairman Tom Rothman said that Jack was more badass than John. Is that fair to say?

A. I think it’s probably fair to say that what was accidental in McClane Sr., coming face-to-face with international turmoil and bad guys who stay up late at night coming up with very clever stuff, is very much much a career choice for Jack McClane.

So get this FOX is making a Die Hard movie that’s about John McClane’s son being a superspy whose goal seems to be to turn the Die Hard franchise into a Bourne franchise starring McClane’s Australia son. FOX couldn’t have done a better job of missing the entire appeal of Die Hard if it had set a bunch of giraffes on fire and filmed it as a romantic comedy.

I don’t know about you, but what I really wanted was not just a Die Hard sequel, but a Die Hard sequel in which we discover that John McClane’s son is Bourne.

It’s obvious how this horror was born. Studio executive looks at Bourne and at Taken, two top action movie franchises. Then he decides to marry them and graft them onto an existing IP. Mission Accomplished.

This is a different kind of fix. This is for people who get a kick out of the Bourne movies.

So says John Moore. But easy question, why not just make a Bourne movie? Because FOX doesn’t have a Bourne IP available. They do have Die Hard.

This is why Die Hard should have died long ago.

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