Posts Tagged ‘Spiderman’

My Forecast: Superheroes are Screwed

April 21, 2009

superheroes-cinema

Interesting developments in LA-LA Land…Zach Snyder’s latest project, Sucker Punch, has lost half of its cast due to “scheduling conflicts.”  The boys over at slashfilm (who I grifted this story from) seem to think that Snyder’s inability to deliver with Watchmen at the box office may be a component as to why half his cast is ebbing away.  Evan Rachel Wood, Emma Stone, and Amanda Seyfried have all dropped and have been replaced by less expensive actresses, such as, Emily Browning, Jamie Chung, and Jenna Malone (The only validated one out of the bunch for her work in Donnie Darko).  Apart from the news about Jenna Malone (who I think is actually an upgrade) it’s very disheartening to see Snyder’s project falling apart.  The Alice in Wonderland-esque story description found in the above link to /film sounds incredamazing.  Hopefully, it won’t be daunted by Warner’s downgrading of its budget/cast.

So, in my usual way, I’d like to take this opportunity to explore a barely-related tangent.  I am a self-professed nerd.  I ADORE comic books, superheroes and the like and have been especially pleased with the revitalization of the cape and cowl at the box office.  However, I’m becoming more and more afraid.  The only reason that superhero flicks have obtained the adequate funding that they need to be fully relized on the silver screen, is because Hollywood is banking off of the profits established by the Spider-man franchise, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight, to name a few.  As soon as profits start slipping and the genre becomes financially undesirable, the age of heroics onscreen will be as quickly abandoned as it was picked up.  After Watchmen’s flaccid delivery after a WAY hyped pre-release and with the upcoming Wolverine flick’s ginormous propensity to equally suck, it looks as though we may be headed for some rough cinematic seas in the comic realm. 

Of course, all of these noted films are in the present, whereas the future is what we can look to for an indication as to whether or not we comic-lovers are able to breathe easy for the future of our beloved franchise films or if we’re officially screwed.  And my verdict is that we are officially, without a shadow of a doubt, screwed.  The upcoming crop of hero franchises in pre-producition are as follows: Thor, The Avengers, Iron Man 2, The Green Lantern, Magneto, X-men: First Class, Sin City II, Ant-man, and G.I. Joe among others rumored to be in talks.  When you step back and look at this list, you release the absolute breadth of the storys involved.  All of these franchises are big, sweeping, epic stories(sans Ant-Man), incaple of being produced for anything short of The Dark Knight’s production value.  Thor is a mystical Norse thunder god, The Green Lantern is a space odyssey, X-men simply needs to up its value after seeing some of the screens from Wolverine, and The Avengers is the franchise where all these heroes converge.  What I’m trying to say is that there is a HUGE margin for error in the production of theses up-and-comers.  As I have stated before, we have barely mastered the approach to comic books steeped mostly in reality (i.e. Spider-man and batman), we are NOT ready to take on mystical outer space warfare and the greatest collection of spandex-covered heroes in history.  We simply aren’t ready to produce these kinds of work, from both a production standpoint and from a treatment, or a writer’s standpoint.

Hollywood is a fickle beast, to say the very least (Hey, that rhymed).  Once these films start bombing in succession (and believe you, me, they probably will) Hollywood will see the gaping wound it has produced, stop the bleeding, and then routinely move on to some other manner of business (fire up High School Musical 8, boys!).  We have to take our time and step away from certain super hero franchises before we prematurely explore them all in the form of sub-par cinema.  (See The Hulk and The Punisher for, not two, but FOUR perfect examples of this.)

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$150 Million for…The Green Lantern?

April 16, 2009

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Oh boy, this one’s a doosey.  According to /Film, Warner Bros. is moving forward with production of their rendition of The Green Lantern in Sydney, Australia at their Fox Studios lot.  They have allocated $150 million as their principle budget, and, despite the recent implosion of American economics, the dollar goes even farther in Australia than it does in the states.

I’m already skepticle of the finished product.  My logic resides within the budget itself.  Of course, I have no insight into the upcoming production, but what I can deduce from the above factoid is that a lot of money will be spent, possibly in an egregious, Michael Bay-esque manner.  Warner Bros. clearly feels the need to invest a decent dime into this cinematic onslaught, and rightfully so, as the story behind The Green Lantern is an epic space opera that enlists a laundry list of alien races that we have never even seen on the silver screen.  And I’m not basing the fact that $150 million is a lot of money on nothing.  Here’s the rundown from /Film of comperable superhero franchises budgets:

Fantastic Four was $100M, Iron Man was $140M, Watchmen was $150M, The Dark Knight was $185M, X-Men: The Last Stand was $210M and Spider-Man 3 topped $258M.

So that means that Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Watchmen all had equal or lesser budgets, and I think we can form unanimous consensus on the interwebs that these three movies had decent production values (Some moreso than others).

So this would lead me to believe that Warner Bros. has entered into the “the more money we throw at it, the better it will be!’ mindset, granted the fact that there has been no prequel in the franchise to gauge viewer satisfaction or ANY certifiable Green Lantern work that has ever made it past footage on the Justice League.

So if Warner has decided to give The Green Lantern a nice, fat budget with which to woo the audience with intersteller combat, then the alternate question I have is; Is $150 million enough?  As I said earlier, the story behind the Lantern is quite complex and takes the viewer into an intergalactic police council (kinda like interpol, only actually effective) where all kinds of crazy, cosmic violence occurs everyday.  The budget to get this sort of thing right will have to be (pardon the punnage) out of this world.  Unless they plan on animating the whole adventure, tackling a bonafide space epic will be an ambitious undertaking.  $150 million may not be enough to fully express the lantern’s indoctrination into his powers in space, let alone simply his powers on Earth.

Before anyone starts screaming about the wonders attained by Lucas with the original Star Wars trilogy, keep in mind that the breath-taking experience Lucas was able to craft was a once-in-a-lifetime outing, not easily duplicated, to say the least.  Also, keep in mind the above fact that Spider-Man 3 (I can barely bring myself to utter the name) cost $250 million and was a certified suck-fest.  Not to mention that the entire movie took place on the streets of Manhattan, not ANOTHER WORLD. 

To wrap up this ramble-fest, I have VERY little faith in the project, which is too bad because I feel that The Green Lantern would be a great project to spearhead…with the right approach.  While Warner Bros. have given us the wonder that is the last two Bat-movies, they are also responsibe for Catwoman and Superman Returns and prone to ginormous fails just like EVERY major studio.  The bottom line is that I’m just not sure we are ready for this brand of epic.  We just recently tackled gritty realism correctly in comic book films (i.e. The Dark Knight).  I believe that we need WAY more time to iron out the details to the genre before we jump the gun and get into Green Lantern-Justice League-Avengers-Thor territory.  I mean, c’mon, we couldn’t even get The Hulk right, and they’ve had two stabs at it in six years!

Ron Howard Brings Out the True Toolshed That Is Bill Maher

April 14, 2009

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Bill Maher is no stranger to making idiotic, blanket statements about things he knows nothing about.  /Film was referencing a conversation between Maher and legendary director Ron Howard about Ron Howard’s opportunities to produce a superhero movie, a topic which is exciting enough alone.  Below is Howard’s response to helming a cape and cloak piece:

I’ve had a chance at some things that I knew would be successful but I also knew that I probably wouldn’t do a very good job. I had a chance Batman years ago and Spider-Man and Harry Potter

What I can only assume Howard meant is that he did not feel that he could necessarily do these superhero-related franchises justice. A humble and understandable note from any worthy director. None of this seemed news-worthy to me. It was Maher’s response, however, that really irked me to no avail:

You passed on a pile of money there. Good for you. Those are comic book movies and they’re all alike. I hate it when somebody says Catwoman was a piece of shit but Spider-Man is genius. It’s the same goddamn story. I’d much rather watch Catwoman ’cause I get to look at Halle Berry the whole movie. They’re all for children.

To me, this obvious opined statement from Maher is blunt, judgemental and fairly non-sequiter. While Howard was addressing his inadequacies in the clearly-growing medium, Maher comes right out and dismissed the entire genre, like a child.

As I said before, it is not like Maher hasn’t spewed ignorance all over his own stage before, but usually his unintelligible blunders seem a little more…well…intelligible, I guess.  He usually attacks a topic in the political spectrum that he has researched and made a case against.  And this is just base dismissal of an entire concept he clearly doesn’t understand. 

In fact, I would go so far as to argue that Maher doesn’t even have a good enough grasp on film, let alone super heroes, to make a charge such as this.  Other than his television show, which I reiterate, is TELEVISION, and a few pathetic attempts at documetaries, Maher has NO experience in the field.  None.  Maher is a comedy writer and a political analyst (If you can even call him that).  Just look at his IMDB.  Other than a few scattered, half-assed TV credits, he has nothing more than his shows which he uses for political debate. And yet, he childishly sweeps aside an entire genre of film because he doesn’t enjoy them.

CHUD.com has a wonderful article for aspiring film critics that states multiple objectives that future critics should strive towards. The one that stood out most to me is to not pigeonhole yourself into one specific category, learn to love all forms of cinema and cinema as an integral art form on its own. Maher, and a few others, should really take notice.

In closing, Bill Maher is a turd stain and should never comment on anything again. What was that I said about blanket statements again? Huh, I can’t remember. Probably something about how they are usually ignorant and destructive. Whatevs.

Let Me Explain Why Taken Didn’t Suck

April 14, 2009

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I recently saw Liam Neeson’s newest vehicle, Taken, and I must say I was quite TAKEN by it!  Muah haha ha hahahaha. 

Anyway, the movie truly did delight me as it delivered everything it promised and nothing that it did not.  The plot moved at 100 miles per hour and kept you on the edge of your seat, providing forwards the entire time to whet your appetite and keep you enthralled.  There were no stupid plot twists or awkward moments between Liam Neeson and his ex-wife.  It was simplistic.  Liam Neeson’s daughter has been kidnapped and he has a set time table in which he must rescue her.  Done.  End of Story.  Roll footage. 

And the best part about this clean-cut, bare bones plot is that it still delivers.  Without any ridiculous, unnerving plot twists, or ‘unique’, probing views into the minds of the characters to ‘see what makes them tick.’ In fact, without all these additional story elements, the movie delivers better

Lately, however, Hollywood has been dabbling in Hyper-realism.  With The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan took every possible element of the story and made sure to immerse it in the confines of our physical world, all along the way fleshing out the man behind the mask in terms of his psychological profile.  Which is fine, really, I love a good melodramatic concept or a convoluted plot piece to help spice up a thriller, and it clearly worked wonders for Nolan, twice in fact.

But lately things have just felt so…forced.  You see, the beauty of Hollywood is that it can deliver on things that we can only imagine in our wildest fantasies and imaginations.  That’s why it’s called escapism, because it allows us to break out of the doldrums of our monotonous, everyday existense.  While I am in no way, shape, or form panning realism, (I truly adore it and think that some of the most beautiful work on film has been captured from a realistic perspective) I do, however, miss the sensationalism that used to be commonplace at the cinema.  In the late 80’s and into the 90’s it seemed like imagination-stretching and hyper-fantasy were here to stay.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rocked full blown, Henson-esque exteriors and were treated as legitimate in their own world.  Who Framed Roger Rabbit? even incorporated actual cartoon characters into the nitty gritty known as ‘reality’ to the rest of us.  But just as things really seemed to be capable of fully delving into the world of the absurd, the new millineum hit, and realism began to steal the show.

All this to say, in a roundabout fashion, that Taken was exceptional because it didn’t concern itself with all the hang-ups of reality.  Liam Neeson has one objective, and that’s to save his daughter.  If that means conducting a man-hunt across national borders, outsmarting the entire French Government, and ramping SUV’s off of dirt mounds in construction quarries, then so be it.  In addition, Neeson’s character was completely unflinching.  A trait that, 15 years ago would have been a given, but today feels like a breath of fresh air.  Neeson’s consciense is gone; completely out the window.  He will stop at nothing and will spare no one to insure his daughter’s safety.  Even if that means assaulting innocent people.  (Wonderful scene, by the way.  And don’t worry, I haven’t given anything away.)

The point I’m trying to make, is that, as a whole, I’m getting sick of the ‘Take a surreal concept (i.e. SUPERHEROES), and disect every possible reality-based, humanistic theme we can’ approach.  Let Peter Parker be a snarky, quick-witted college kid, not a blubbering, slow, emotionless tool.  Let Eddie Brock be 6’6”, 280 pounds with rippling muscles and incredible photography skills.  Allow the Joker to be cartoonish and slap-happy-absurd, and yet still be dark (I will concede that, for this one, Ledger did do an INCREDIBLE job, but the point remains.).  Etc.  Etc.  You get the idea.  It may be an odd request, but lets bring the insanity back to Hollywood!

ItsJustSomeRandomGuy

April 6, 2009

…is awesome.  Allow me to explain myself.  For any of you that are fans of Robot Chicken or Twisted Toyfare Theatre, you’ll love ItsJustsomeRandomGuy on Youtube.  And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s OK, you’ll still love him. 

ItsJustsomeRandomGuy has a youtube channel in which he uses superhero action figures to create sketches and skits loosely based on the character’s storylines.  It’s absolutely brilliant, and he is, rightfully so, catching fire on Youtube because of it.  Give his brand of funny funny haha a try.  The vids below are part of a five part series chronicalling an extremely in-depth storyline, so if you just want some expositionless lighthearted sketches, go to his youtube and view the parodies of the Mac Vs. PC ads with his Marvel Vs. DC ads.  Good stuff.