Friday, June 11, 2010

   Fans of the Twilight series were given something new to celebrate yesterday. Summit Entertainment confirmed that the fourth installment, Breaking Dawn, will be split into two separate films. Academy award winning director Bill Condon has already signed on along with stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. That means three more movies are now on the horizon, with Eclipse hitting theaters later this June.

   Naturally the reaction from many movie-goers has been one of utter euphoria. Yet one segment of audience members in particular has responded with indignation. Specifically, males in the 15-18 age range forced into seeing Twilight films by girlfriends/first dates. A number of online petitions have sprung up protesting a lengthening of the series. One such petition has grown to over 3,000 members, begun by sixteen-year-old Eric Campbell. When asked about his opposition, he explained "My girlfriend makes me go to every Twilight film. You don't know what it's like in there... girls shrieking... it's like a pack of animals in heat or something."

   Thousands have expressed similar distaste for the popular franchise. Some complain about a lack of real drama in the series. Others are turned off by the less-than-terrifying nature of the vampires. Or, as one movie-goer succinctly put it: "Vampires shouldn't ****ing sparkle." In the end, many teenage males are pressured into seeing these films at the risk of alienating a potential love interest. One teenager, speaking on anonymity, described it as a choice between "a chance at getting laid" and "having to sit through three hours of shirtless dudes prancing through meadows."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    This may be somewhat old news, but it was a shocking revelation for me. According to the LA Times online site, Disney passed on making a sequel to the highly successful romantic comedy The Proposal. I felt my world turn upside down as I read this article. Where is the Hollywood I know and love(hate)? Normally, once a movie turns over one cent of profit studio executives begin salivating uncontrollably with thoughts of a sequel. They descend on fresh intellectual property like a pack of ravenous wolves hunting down Lisa Lampanelli through the woods. Every last morsel of creativity is devoured until nothing is left but scraps and made-for-TV movie spin-offs. Not to mention The Proposal, starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, made over $300 million! I figured this decision by Disney would send waves of panic through the entire industry. I could just picture some studio executive hearing the news, beginning to hyperventilate, and then diving out a fourth-floor window.

   But yesterday I read an article which put everything back in perspective. Apparently Disney is bringing the Bullock/Reynolds team back. This time for a different romantic comedy to be penned by the writer of The Proposal. It's going to be an action comedy involving an FBI agent (Reynolds) escorting a criminal (Bullock) to jail. They end up getting ambushed along the way and have to go on the run. This may sound similar to The Bounty Hunter, mostly because it's basically the exact same thing. Yet originality aside, this is definitely one of your average Hollywood moves. Pay $1 million up front for a screenplay that hasn't been written yet and one that's specifically designed to cash in on the popularity of a mediocre comedy. After reading this article I felt the world slowly returning to normal. Hollywood hadn't changed the slightest. And I was actually kind of glad.

Side note: It really says something that Bullock, coming off an Oscar win, has agreed to star in her next movie before actually reading the script.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

14 Movie review: The Road

   The Road centers on an unnamed father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) struggling to survive in a hellish, post-apocalyptic world. Their intense journey will leave you feeling drained but ultimately satisfied. Okay, that last part made it sound like I was reviewing a porno. Emotionally draining is a better description. That's because the viewer is quickly drawn into a bleak, desperate atmosphere as our two protagonists fight to stay alive by any means necessary.

   Don't go into this movie expecting your average Hollywood end-of-the-world story. There are no hordes of CGI monsters. No wild car chases through abandoned streets. And no Will Smith making sarcastic wise-cracks. It's just normal human beings battling starvation and disease. Indeed, the most terrifying moments of the film involve acts of unspeakable depravity committed by regular people. Cannibalism has run rampant. Violence is an everyday occurrence. So much so that the characters never appear to be truly safe. With each abandoned shelter, each deserted highway, there's a sense of danger lurking just around the corner. Director John Hillcoat helps build this atmosphere of despair by filling his palate with tones of gray and black. Billowing clouds of smoke envelope the sun. Trees are plastered with soot and grime. Let's just say it's not exactly spring break in Cancun.

    Yet for all the gloom and doom, the heart of the story is truly uplifting. A story about father and son depending on one another in times of need. On one hand, the father protects and cares for his son. In turn, the son gives his father hope, gives him a reason to go on. Every interaction between the two is believable and enjoyable thanks to inspired performances by Viggo and Kodi. Both actors give raw, authentic portrayals that really bear the hearts and minds of their characters. In the end, the film is both a depressing study of human nature pushed to the limit and a heartwarming testament to the unwavering bond between father and son. Not to mention a film I highly recommend.

Rating: GOOD

Thursday, June 3, 2010

  It appears not everyone appreciates Shia Labeouf's newfound candor when discussing past films. For those of you unaware, the star recently admitted Transformers 2 was a disappointment while on a promotional tour for his new movie. He blamed the lack of human character relationships, claiming that without this element "it's just a bunch of robots fighting each other." Now apparently these remarks have ruffled feathers with several of the non-human cast members, including co-star Optimus Prime.

  Yesterday, Optimus offered his own explanation for the disappointing sequel, claiming "the real problem was too much Shia Labeouf running around screaming like an idiot." The normally reserved leader of the Autobots could barely contain his anger when speaking on the matter, at one point growling "I didn't become the Protector of Earth to have some greasy little weasel talk down to me." What was once a solid working relationship between the two has obviously turned sour quickly. Prime even went so far as to question Shia's talent, saying "I've seen third-graders in Christmas Pageants who are better. People aren't watching these movies for his acting, I can promise you that."

   This new conflict comes on the heels of Megan Fox's dismissal from Transformers 3 after altercations with Director Michael Bay. Only this time there are numerous cast members involved. Will it ultimately end up delaying production? It's certainly a possibility considering all the animosity. Rumor has it even Bumblebee is no longer on speaking terms with Shia. When asked about the matter, the usually friendly robot replied "Shia can go suck my giant metal **** for all I care."

Monday, May 31, 2010

   A stunning case of mistaken identity has led to the suspension of one New York City police officer and left the department facing possible lawsuit. Officer Ryan O'Neill, an eight-year veteran of the force, spotted what he believed to be a horse running loose through Central Park late Sunday afternoon. O'Neill tried to subdue the animal as it galloped past, eventually tackling it to the ground. Only then did he realize the animal was actually renowned actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

   O'Neill offered a public apology early Monday morning, stating "I am truly sorry for whatever physical or emotional pain I have caused Mrs. Parker. She is truly a wonderful woman and role model for thousands." He went on to say he was personally a huge fan of the actress and really wished he "hadn't thought she was a horse." Representatives for the police department have confirmed the officer is facing indefinite suspension.

    A spokesperson for Mrs. Parker called the situation "detestable" and "wholly unforgivable." No mention of possible legal action was given. Yet her husband, Matthew Broderick had even stronger words on the matter. Lashing out at the media, he claimed to be "sick and tired of people saying [his] wife looks like a horse. She's a beautiful, talented woman who deserves our respect." Multiple witness confirmed seeing Mrs. Parker eating from a trough several hours later.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

   Michael Bay's reported involvement in the newest live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie has internet communities in uproar. Set to produce the film for Paramount Pictures, many fear Bay's unique style is an ill-suited match for the project. In fact, opposition has reached recording breaking levels. On May 30th, internet commentators shattered the record for most exclamatory "NOOOOOOOO!" posting remarks in history. The previous record was established following news of Shia Labeouf's involvement in the latest Indiana Jones film. However, nothing could compete with this new outpouring of despair directed towards the polarizing filmmaker. A total of 3,542,007 commentators posted the phrase (with variances in frequency of the letter 'O') across thousands of blogs and websites. We got in touch with a few of these individuals to get their thoughts:

Jane Summers, 20, posted under the alias Filmgirlz. She was vocal in her distaste for the director/producer noting that "he just cares about explosions and action rather than making good movies. I don't want him destroying my childhood memories like with Transformers 2." As for the content of her post, she chose to write a one-word comment because she "just couldn't think of any other way to express [her] disappointment."

Richard Wright, 17, posted under the name MichaelBayFaggot69. He claims to have "blacked-out completely from rage after reading the article." When he regained consciousness, the comment was already typed on the screen with seventeen letter o's. Wright's dislike for Bay bordered on unstable, promising "if I ever see that guy on the street, I will stab him in the neck."

   Clearly this outpouring of frustration is unlike anything we've seen in history. Now the question is how long will the new record stand? Articles related to Shia Labeouf are naturally the most likely competitor. Yet Shia's recent dismissal of casting rumors surrounding Y: The Last Man removes a potentially challenging threat.

Michael Bay was unavailable for comment on this article.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

After Megan Fox was let go, rumors have been swirling as to who will star opposite Shia Labeouf in the new Transformers film. According to usanewsweek.com, the role of Mikaela Banes will now be played by lingerie model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Can Rosie compete with Megan's near-limitless acting range? Can she handle such a unique and interesting character? Just kidding. As long as she's fit enough to jog around half-naked while Michael Bay zooms in on various body parts she'll be fine. An ability to speak coherent English would be nice, but it's not a deal breaker. Still, I think it would have been entertaining to sit in on the casting sessions for this decision. Here's how it probably went down between Bay and Rosie:

BAY
I think your just perfect for the part.

ROSIE
Well, it's just I don't really have any acting experience.

BAY
(staring at her breasts)
Uh-huh.

ROSIE
But I realize this could be a huge career move for me.

BAY
You'll do fine. I believe you have certain talents.

ROSIE
Like what?

BAY
(unzipping his pants)
Let's find out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This movie ended up being slightly better than the original. Which isn't saying much because The Hulk was so boring I would have preferred listening to NPR. As for Edward Norton's career, it's going downhill fast.
Mock Script. PDF Version.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

   Comic book movie adaptations are huge cash cows for the film industry. The release of a new superhero movie makes headlines over Angelina Jolie promising to adopt every child in Cambodia. These films already have a built-in fan base of comic book nerds willing to venture into the sunlight for the first time in years just to watch their favorite superhero on the big screen. And for the most part, people of all ages enjoy reliving a bit of their childhood watching larger than life heroes save the day. So the real question usually isn't whether a new adaptation will be profitable, but rather how much money it's going to make. 

   Seems pretty simple right? Well, not simple enough for the movie industry. There are two basic paths a studio can take here. The first is to hire a qualified writer who's actually written at least one good movie script in the past. Naturally, quality actors then want to sign on because the characters have some depth. Good directors become interested due to the quality of the story. In the end, all these factors help guarantee a successful film. Sequels follow shortly thereafter which garner absurd amounts of money and everyone ends up happy.

Here's a few examples:

--Warner Bros. signs Christopher Nolan (Memento) and David S. Goyer (Blade) for Batman Begins. Both writers have at least one good credit to their name, thus are clearly capable of writing a good film. The script turns out great. Christian Bale signs up and the movie ends up making $372 million worldwide. The Dark Knight goes on to make over $1 billion worldwide.

--Paramount Pictures hires Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men) to write Iron Man. Two proven writers who manage to churn out a witty, fast-paced script. Downey Jr. signs on and the movie turns into a huge sleeper hit with $584 in box office receipts. Iron Man 2 has already made $524 million.

Sadly, this first option is rarely chosen. Most studio executives, possibly after shooting up heroin in a bathroom stall, instead decide to hire a screenwriter with god-awful film credits (or no experience whatsoever). Essentially, they hire someone who's never proven himself/herself capable of writing a quality full-length screenplay to head a project potentially worth billions of dollars.

There are many, many examples of this:

--John Turman is hired to write Hulk. He had absolutely no prior full length script-writing credits. The resulting film involved three-hours of Eric Bana standing around looking depressed in between ten minutes of nonsensical action scenes. Then, in an apparent attempt to one-up their own stupidity, the studio hired Zak Penn to write the sequel. Unlike John, Penn had some past experience... in writing terrible movies. X-Men 3, Elektra, and Fantastic Four were all his creation. Needless to say, neither Hulk movie was especially successful and the sequel barely surpassed the original.

--20th Century Fox hires James Robinson to pen The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. His past works can all be found in your local rental store at the bottom of the $2 movie bin. This comic book adaptation failed miserably and there's still no talk of a sequel.

--Alan McElroy is hired to write Spawn. Astonishingly, his previous best movie credit was Halloween 4. As usual, the film made almost no money and thus no sequel has been planned.

--20th Century Fox hires Mark Frost to write Fantastic Four. The movie reminds us Jessica Alba would probably be working in a strip club rather than as a professional actress if she were any less attractive. A sequel is made that manages to be less profitable than the original.

   So, when will these studios learn? Probably never. They still profit off every Superhero movie made because enough people are going to see them regardless of quality. The fact that they're missing out on millions of dollars in sequel money when a film like Spawn completely bombs is largely ignored. Just take at look at some of the upcoming Superhero films. Jonah Hex is written by Mark Neveldine, who also penned Crank 2: High Voltage. As for Thor, the geniuses at Paramount decided to hire a lead writer who's only movie credit is Agent Cody Banks. These films will most likely turn out awful and still turn a nice profit. Just think how much more they could make by actually producing decent flicks.