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Tag Archives: Things That Should Go Away

Some Things… Aren’t Meant to be Changed…

Some cliches never go away. Flash back to Jurassic Park with Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond delivering the same embarrassing mad scientist speech in a maudlin way, that has been delivered over and over again. Usually this happens right around the time giant radioactive animals begin rampaging around the countryside. And the arrogant scientists are held responsible for playing white coated deities.

Sure animal research doesn’t lead to giant animal rampages, but any time it could. And the attitude comes from outside the movies and goes outside it. Clone a sheep? You’re just waiting for trouble in the form of hordes of giant rampaging radioactive sheep. Bang some atoms together and you’re just waiting for trouble to happen. Why do you have to experiment and explore the universe? Some things aren’t meant to be changed.

Not that this stops those same people from wanting the latest and greatest medical treatments right now. But we shouldn’t change things, except the ones we benefit from changing.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes… Worst Movie of 2011?

Imagine a few hundred apes escape? End of civilization, right. That’s the plot of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, an early contender for the worst movie of 2011. The apes are smart. Really smart. So smart that they rampage through traffic. How will we ever confront this terrible threat of leaping apes with our puny machine guns, hopelessly weak atomic weapons and millions and millions of troops who can’t possibly stand up to monkeys.

People like to take shots at Burton’s Planet of the Apes, but at least it had a sense of wonder. This is apes as monsters. An idea so stupid it could only appear in studio notes. But the selling point will be the ape CG. Burton’s apes were more human, but these apes are shiny. They have expressions. And we’re supposed to appreciate that.

Least helpful is James Franco, who’s supposed to be a research scientist or guy who gives speeches to them, doing his stoned act as the least believable scientist speech giving guy ever. And his speeches. “You don’t know what they’re capable of.” “Some things aren’t meant to be changed.” The two most original lines in monster movie history.

Battleship, What the Hell. No, Seriously. What the Hell?

Maybe Battleship isn’t the movie that will be remembered for killing Hollywood, but maybe it’ll be remembered as an example of the bottom of the heap.

There was no reason to attach the name Battleship to this movie. It has nothing to do with the game, except for being set on the water. But some idiot decided to cash in on an IP, even though the only IP here is the name of a game that kids used to play before video games got good enough and family time got rare enough.

There was a 5 minute brainstorm. How do we make this into a movie. They could have made a movie about a naval battle, but that doesn’t have enough appeal. “You know what guys, what about a movie where there’s an alien battleship.”

Thoughts? This is proof that you don’t need Michael Bay to make a Michael Bay movie. This is proof you don’t need a story to make a movie. Or anything.

Hollywood is making movies now the way they used to make cereal. Just stick a cartoon character on the box and give it a catchy name.

The worst part is this thing will make money. So will Monopoly. And by 2015, every obscure board game will have a movie deal. And WB will buy Parker Brothers, or whatever conglomerate owns it and Hasbro now. And we’ll be watching a trailer for Krull, not based on the movie, but on the board game that was based on the movie.

By then hopefully a meteor will hit the earth or Hollywood will go bankrupt.

Game of Thrones Wrap Up

I hated the first episode of Game of Thrones. I didn’t watch any of the rest of the season, and then finally tuned in to the finale. And my take.

It’s not quite as bad, but most of the badness is still there. The Daenerys storyline has been completely blown. Some of the blame goes to the actress who can’t do emotional depth. Most of it goes to a production that put its priority on making her older and more naked. The same mix can be seen throughout Game of Thrones. Good actors side by side with bad ones. Strong scenes side by side with scenes that exist to show off gratuitous nudity. The objectification factor is off the charts.

Fast forward through everything with Tyrion and Daenerys, and you get passable fantasy. Sometimes. Game of Thrones amps up the camp factor deliberately. Watching it is still like watching two shows. One with Sean Bean, Lena Headey, Michelle Fairley, Iain Glen and Maisie Williams. And one with Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Jason Momoa and Jack Gleeson. But some of these people actually have scenes with each other. It’s as if the Adam West Batman and the Nolan Batman were crossbred into a single production.

But the producers, writers, directors are all to blame for this mess too. Why is the Daenerys reveal at the end handled so clumsily. And why does her accomplishment in gaining their allegiance hardly register. The wallpaper nudity now is ridiculous. We have naked women in scenes where they have almost no dialogue. Their only job is to be naked so the viewer doesn’t get too bored by the dialogue. At least that seems to be the idea.

Game of Thrones isn’t a good show, but it’s an HBO show. And it’s successful. What else is there to really say about it?

Is Newsweek Completely Losing It?

Okay I get that buying a news magazine in 2010 was maybe not a great investment. Newsweek was always the weekly version of USA Today a glossy and content free list of things to read about while waiting at the dentist. Okay. So why resurrect it as a crazy boring version of itself?

First we get a cover story of Mitt Romney performing a dance from the Book of Mormon. Bigoted? Yeah. Imagine of Joe Lieberman was on there as a character from Fiddler on the Roof or Obama acting out a part in Porgy and Bess. Then follow it up with a photoshopped cover of Kate Middleton and Princess Diana.

There’s something about the stench of desperation from a major brand name magazine that’s unappealing. It’s like a presidential candidate who suddenly decides to show off his juggling skills. And now Newsweek is starting to look like a better photoshopped Weekly World News.

Morgan Spurlock, Go Away

Oh look it’s a new Morgan Spurlock presented by POM. You know the drink our beverage and you’ll live forever guys. Irony. But back to Spurlock.

Spurlock catapulted himself to fame as Michael Moore’s mini me by pulling a stunt, the whole eat fast food for a month. Then he tried another stunt by pretending to look for Bin Laden. Now it’s some adaptation of the sort of gag Michael Moore used to do as a 5 minute piece on TV Nation. This time even the Weinstein company, which is struggling with Scream 4 and Hoodwinked Too isn’t on board.

Sure we get it. Corporations are doing all kinds of corporate type things. And Spurlock will talk about how wrong and silly it is while hanging around ordinary locations that people like us might end up in. Like supermarkets. Or barns. Or NASA Space Shuttle hangars.

But Spurlock himself is a product. He’s selling a product. And it’s not a very good one. When I buy sneakers with a logo on them, they’re good for something. I’m not sure what Spurlock is good for except making movies about himself talking about how ridiculous something is. Give Michael Moore credit, he manages to outrage people. Spurlock is just beating the documentary agitprop horse to death. And it’s not nice to beat horses to death.

So Scream 4 Bombed

Sure bombing is relative. Scream 4 will probably make money, though not domestically. And how much of that money will go back to the production company’s budget and promotional expenses? The margins aren’t great. Scream 5 is supposed to move forward, along with a raft of other Dimension sequels like Halloween 3 and Spy Kids 4. The Weinsteins needed to go beyond being the Oscar bait studio and make movies that people actually go to see outside of Oscar season. But so far except for Tarantino’s movies no luck.

So what went wrong? All the obvious stuff. Horror movies play to younger audiences and most of the teenagers who were the target audience were in their diapers when Scream 3 came out. Scream 3 was weak, but it still pulled in three times what Scream 4 did. And Scream 4 also traded in Kevin Williamson for Ehren Kruger, not a smart move. Kruger does what the Weinsteins tell him. Which is not such a good idea. Clever writing was what kept Scream afloat, and that means the writer is the one thing that can’t be replaced.

The Weinsteins looked like they had a comeback with King’s Speech, but the high profile failures of Miral and now Scream 4 suggest otherwise. Without being able to do anything besides Oscar bait, TWC starts looking like Merchant Ivory with a local accent.

Maybe Schwarzenegger Should Just Retire?

Being involved in a new Stan Lee cartoon is like parachuting on to the Titanic. It’s not really a great move. And can Arnold Schwarzenegger get any more cartoony than he already is? Hasn’t he been playing out a cartoon character of himself in live action format all along.

Then there’s the dignity question. Schwarzenegger ran for Governor of California after a string of bombs or underperforming movies. He didn’t have it then, so he probably doesn’t have it now either. And he’s older and less in shape. Okay so a cartoon character dodges that bullet. It lets him voice a permanently younger version of himself. But where’s the audience?

This just looks like an 80’s cartoon, complete with bad rap and dated visuals. And who exactly is the audience? Does any 9 year old really want to see this? Most adult cartoons are self-mocking, but this doesn’t seem to be. It’s unintentionally funny. And a 3D feature film based on this? No way.

Love him or hate him or yawn at him, Schwarzenegger has done what few have. And there’s no reason for him to go back and do this. He had a legendary movie career and he made the leap to governor. He can’t keep on playing action roles and he can’t do serious parts. He doesn’t need the money and might as well just enjoy the retirement.

Paul movie review

I liked Paul better when it was called American Dad. Except I never liked American Dad much either, but it’s pretty sad when what the Pegg-Frost team comes up with is the premise of Roger on American Dad, except Paul isn’t gay. So what if Paul isn’t original? Well it’s also unfunny and that’s a bigger problem.

The first quarter, the whole idea of these two superfans driving around America and encountering an actual alien, is a good one. But where do you go from there? If you’re Pegg and Frost, you drive around encountering the brand of wacky Americans you usually encounter only on Family Guy or the BBC while making some hackneyed points about religion that are third rate Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. What follows plays out like a Saturday Night Live skit written by a fan of Monty Python, it’s not funny or really anything.

In that way, Paul reminds me of Gervais’ The Invention of Lying. Comedy that aims for philosophical statements but isn’t as deep or as funny as it thinks it is. Paul is the first Pegg/Frost collaboration that’s somewhat aimed at an American audience, but also hostile to it. Pegg and Frost could have set this back in England, with a Paul explaining to them what happened to Stonehenge, and they would have been on safer ground.

Julie Taymor Steps Out

Julie Taymor got her reputation by taking the Lion King and adapting it into an unconnected show that was exotic enough that no one asked any inconvenient questions. Then she tried to do the same thing to Spider-Man, not set in Africa, but her own crazy version of Spider-Man, that was more about her, than about Spider-Man. If the production hadn’t been completely mismanaged, if performers weren’t getting hurt and Turn Off the Dark had original music for people to walk away with, she might have gotten away with it.

But it didn’t and she didn’t. Spider-Man is still one of the more popular comic book characters around. Tossing around symbolism and expecting people to feel humbled by the experience worked for The Lion King, but it was never going to work for Spider Man. People know who Spider Man is and they expect him to show up. Not Arachnia.

After all these years, Julie Taymor showed she never had a feel for the material. She wanted to make a show about the idea of Spider-Man, rather than about Spider-Man. Her idea of Spider-Man. And that’s where she went wrong.

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