Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Memorable Summer Movies

May 10, 2012

Not too long ago, I wanted to purchase some tickets online for my nephew and I to see Pirates! Band of Misfits. After I bought the tickets, I noticed a short blog entry on the movie ticket website about the summer movie season of 1982 being the best summer movie season ever. That was the summer the following films were released:

The Road Warrior
Blade Runner

John Carpenter’s The Thing

Tron

An Officer and a Gentlemen

Conan the Barbarian

Poltergeist

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

E.T.

(By the way, I saw E.T., Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Tron in the summer of 1982 and I liked E.T. and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan the best out of the three.)

It is risky to say that a year or a season of a year was the best movie year ever because tastes change. Case in point, when Citizen Kane came out in 1941, it was a box office dud. Now it is considered a gem of American cinema.

Duds that turn into classics, not withstanding, I thought it would be fun to write about memorable summer movies. What makes them so memorable? Read on and you’ll find out.

Summer of 1983

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably suspect that I liked Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi the best out of the original Star Wars trilogy. Well, you would be wrong. I loved Return of the Jedi. I saw the film on its opening weekend and what an event it was. The theater was packed and everyone was eager to see how George Lucas ended the trilogy. As far as I’m concerned, he did a great job wrapping everything up. (FYI: My favorite scene in the movie and all time favorite movie scene is when Han Solo is freed from the carbonite.)

Jaws 3D
The only thing memorable about this film was that it was shown in 3D. In late 1982, 3D films made a comeback, sort of. A few films were released in 3D but the technology was not as advanced as it is today, so 3D films fizzled out by late 1983.

Summer of 1993

Jurassic Park
A film about the return of dinosaurs and it was directed by none other than Steven Spielberg! What’s there not to like? I went to see the film expecting to get a summer blockbuster and I got more than just the run-of-the-mill summer movie. I got film that was a reflection on technology and how it isn’t always the savior it is made out to be. I can remember thinking while I was watching the film, “Why does this remind me of the film Westworld?” I later learned that the book, in which the film was based on, was written by none other than Michael Crichton, the man who wrote and directed Westworld.

Summer of 2001

Pearl Harbor
I took my dad to see this film for Father’s Day. He grew up during World War II, so any documentary, television show or film that is about or took place during that time, Dad is all over it. I liked this film. The special effects were good and the stars were good in their roles. Yet, the most memorable thing was that during the film, I was thinking, “The Japanese military had guts to do the attack at Pearl Harbor.” Not to take anything away from those in the military who were at Pearl Harbor during the time of the attack, yet I must say that an attack like that was very bold. Little did I or anyone else know that as this movie was making it theatrical run, the 9/11 hijackers were training to carry out the worst attack on U.S. soil, since Pearl Harbor.

Spider-Man Trailer
Normally, I wouldn’t write about a trailer but this one is extra special. It featured a vignette about a group of bad guys who make their getaway in a helicopter. Just as they are about to make a great escape, they get caught in a web spun by Spider-Man. Where did he spin the web? Between the towers of the World Trade Center. When I saw this trailer in the movie theater, (one week before 9/11 if you must know) I was amazed. Yes, I knew it was a computer-generated image, but it was so impressive that it looked like a real helicopter was suspended in a web between the Twin Towers. Of course, when the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon happened, the trailer was pulled from theaters.

Summer of 2008

The Dark Knight
While Christian Bale was great as Batman, Heath Ledger stole the show as The Joker. Ledger’s Joker was EVIL. He didn’t force the humor or nastiness. Ledger played the role as if he were really that bad. Basically, I wouldn’t want to run into Ledger’s Joker in a well-lit alley. Yes, he deserved the Oscar and it was a shame that he died before he had a chance to do more work.

Summer of 2010

Toy Story 3
Wow. The folks at Pixar know how to wrap up a trilogy. The series started with Andy at eight and ended with him going off to college. Along the way, the toys had many adventures and misadventures, yet they stick together, like good friends do. The most poignant and best scene in Toy Story 3 was when Andy dropped off the toys at Bonnie’s house, an 8 year-old whose mom knows Andy’s mom. After telling her about each toy, Andy and Bonnie play with the toys. When they are done, Andy goes off to college and the toys remain with Bonnie.

Well, those are my memorable summer movie memories. Tune in next week for another thrilling blog entry from the chick who loooooves summer movies (among other things related to the movies).

Sources:

http://www.fandango.com/movieblog/weekend-chatter-was-1982-greatest-summer-movies-season-of-all-time-714464.html

Heritage Magazine Fall 2008 “Remember When…1941” Pg. 8

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107290/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425061/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133152/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0213149/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0468569/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435761/

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2012 Summer Movies

April 26, 2012

The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. That can only mean one thing:

The summer movie season is coming!

In addition to not having to go to school, it was the summer movies that made me count the days to summer vacation. The films that come out during the summer have it all, action, drama, comedy, romance and lots of cool special effects to keep things from getting boring.

In addition to the usual mix of superhero and animated films, this year’s batch of summer films are based on the following:

  • A nonfiction book
  • A book by Saddam Hussein
  • A Broadway play
  • Two fairy tales
  • A 1960’s soap opera

So, here are a few I would like to highlight.

May
The Avengers

A superhero film that Marvel fans have been waiting for, since it features, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk. Phew! That’s a lot of superheros. Expect to see a lot of fanboys on opening night. How can you tell the fanboys from the regular moviegoers? Simple the fanboys will be wearing either Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow or the Hulk t-shirts. This film opens on May 4.

Dark Shadows
Would you believe that in the 1960’s there was a soap opera about a vampire? Yes it is true and it was called Dark Shadows. The soap opera was about the Collins family and one member in particular, Barnabas Collins, who was cursed to live as a vampire by a witch. The show ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971 and developed a cult following, which lead to films and a brief return to television in the 1990’s. Now Tim Burton has directed the theatrical version, with Helena Bonham Carter as psychologist Dr. Julia Hoffman and none other than Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, the very reluctant vampire. The film opens on May 11.

The Dictator
Here’s something else from the “Would You Believe” file. Saddam Hussein wrote a book. Yes, it is true and it is a work of fiction called Zabibah and the King. The book is about a love affair between a wise king and a beautiful peasant named Zabibah. Now would you believe that Sacha Baron Cohen made a film based on this book? Yes, this is true, as well. This film stars Cohen as the title character, as well as Megan Fox and John C. Reilly. It opens on May 11. By the way, I think theater managers would like it if you leave the pancake mix at home.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Who wants to watch a movie that features women at various stages of their pregnancy? Neither do I.  This stars Cameron Diaz, Isla Fisher and Jennifer Lopez and opens on May 11.

June
Rock of Ages

Who wants to play air guitar and jump up and down on a sofa?  Obviously Tom Cruise does, since he is starring in this film based on the Broadway play of the same name. This film also stars Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin. It opens on June 1.

Jack the Giant Killer
The trend of fairy tales to the big screen continues with a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a motion capture film that was partially filmed in the forest that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Hobbit. The films stars Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor and Bill Nighy, and it opens on June 15.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Honest Abe was a vampire hunter as well as a president who tried to keep the country together? Wow, the dude burned the candle at both ends. Actually, this is a film by director Timur Bekmambetov, the man who brought us Wanted, and it stars Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie and Benjamin Walker. The film opens on June 22.

Brave
A soon to be classic from the folks at Pixar. This film features a female protagonist who has to use her moxie and archery skills to undo a curse. Features the voices of Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson and Kelly MacDonald. The film opens on June 22.

July
The Amazing Spider-Man

Another movie Marvel fanboys have been waiting for. Personally, I think the reboot was unnecessary. The powers that be could have ended it at Spider-Man 3 and concentrated on other superheros in the Marvel universe.  Of course, the fanboys will be easy to pick out in the audience, since they will be the ones wearing the Spider-Man t-shirts. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field and it open on July 3.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Another animated film for the summer and another installment in the Ice Age “saga”.  This time an iceberg is involved and it is used for a good purpose. The film features the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo and opens on July 13.

The Dark Knight Rises
Yet another film that fanboys have been waiting for, albeit this film is the one DC fanboys have been counting the days and hours to and guess what t-shirts they will be wearing? Anyway, it features Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I admit, I’ve been looking forward to this film because I want to see how Christopher Nolan ends the trilogy and I do hope this is the end of any and all Batman films. Directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan captured the darkness of Batman very well. Things got lost when director Joel Schumacher took over. So, let’s end it with The Dark Knight Rises and if the powers that be wants to do another superhero film let them pick from other characters in the DC Comics universe. The film stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Anne Hathaway, and opens on July 20.

Here Comes the Boom
Here comes a comedy about a mixed martial arts fighter. Sounds like it will become a classic, like Citizen Kane. Don’t you think? Yeah, I don’t think so, either. It stars Kevin James and Salma Hayek, and open on July 27.

August
The Bourne Legacy

This Bourne movie doesn’t feature Matt Damon, but it does feature Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton. The film opens on August 3.

Total Recall
Talk about your useless remakes. The one with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone was good enough. Can’t the powers that be greenlight something original for a change? (Yes, I know I say that a lot.) Anyway the film stars Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale and opens on August 3.

The Expendables 2
If you like shoot’em up movies with explosions and car chases, then this is the film for you. Stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Bruce Willis and opens on August 17.

ParaNorman
Now this film sound interesting and original. It is a stop action animation film about a boy who can speak to (as well as see) dead people and uses this skill to save his town from an old, old curse. Features the voices of Leslie Mann, Anna Kendrick and Casey Affleck and opens on August 17.

Well, those are just a sampling of the movies that will be coming out this summer. Just be sure to save me a middle seat in the middle row.

Sources:
http://www.reelz.com/article/1421/summer-2012-preview-25-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

http://www.collinwood.net/info/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1589395859/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1589396138&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1FQXRKHC99VX0TRB9DSW

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1217209/

Female Directors

September 15, 2011

Do you know who Jennifer Yuh Nelson is? Well, if you love animated films you should because she is the director of Kung Fu Panda 2. She recently hit a milestone where she became the highest grossing female director when Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $645 Million. She beat Phyllida Lloyd, the director of Mamma Mia, whose film grossed $609 Million.

I’m very happy when anyone, male or female, is successful. Still, the milestone Yuh Nelson hit is extra special because Kung Fu Panda 2 is an animated film and not only are there not many female directors, there aren’t many females in animation period. So, kudos to her and may this encourage others to try their hand at either animation or film directing.

Of course, that got me thinking. (Here we go again.) Yuh Nelson and Lloyd aren’t the only female directors out there. There have been others who have made their mark behind the camera. Who are they? Well, gentle reader, read on to learn about some notable female directors.

Kathryn Bigelow
While winning the Oscar for The Hurt Locker put Bigelow on the movie making map, she directed other films such as Point Break and K-19: The Widowmaker. What they all have in common is they are very much guy flicks. The Hurt Locker deals with defusing bombs in the Iraq War. Point Break is an action film about an FBI agent infiltrating bank robbing gang. K-19: The Widowmaker is about a Soviet nuclear submarine that malfunctions and how the crew must work against the clock to save themselves from disaster. So, the stereotype of women directors making rom-coms or period pieces doesn’t fit Bigelow.

Sofia Coppola
Yes, she’s the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. Still, her work stands on its own. With films such as The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette and Somewhere, I’ll go out on a limb and say she’s on her way to becoming the type of director that university film professors will lecture about and show films to their students 20 years from now, if they aren’t already doing it now. Trust me, that’s a good thing, since Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg spent their university days watching films of the French New Wave.

Amy Heckerling
What films did she direct? How about Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with Sean Penn (which was his breakout role), Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton (before he went through his dark stage with Batman) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation, with Chevy Chase. Those are some real sensitive films, aren’t they?

Madonna
Madonna!? You must be saying now. Yes, her. Believe it or not Madge directed two films. Filth and Wisdom and her latest opus W.E. which deals with the relationship between Wallis Simspon, American divorcee and Edward Windsor, aka King Edward VIII who left the throne for her. My guess is that being married to director Guy Ritchie must have rubbed off on her and she decided to try making a movie. Movie critics felt she should stick to singing. Still, I wouldn’t count Madonna out yet. After all, sometimes it takes a few tries to get something right.

Penny Marshall
Here’s another female director that doesn’t do period pieces. She directed Big with Tom Hanks, Awakenings with Robin Williams and A League of Their Own with Madonna. In case you are wondering, yes, she was Laverne in the ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976 to 1984.

Barbra Streisand
Yes, not only does she sing and act, but she also directs films, as well. Her first take at directing was with the film Yentl, in which she also starred in. wrote the screenplay and produced. She also did The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Okay, those two are chick flicks. Still, somebody has to please that demographic. Yet, Babs isn’t finished yet because, reports are that she will produce, direct and star in an adaptation of the Broadway play Gypsy. She is expected to play Momma Rose and she has experience with that since her own mother was something of a Backstage Mom.

Of course, there are more female directors, but I decided to focus on some notable ones who have been working since the 1980’s to the current time. So, I will end with Streisand and to all a good night or day, depending on what time of the day you are reading this.

Sources:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/archives/2011/09/07/jennifer_yuh_nelson_becomes_the_top_grossing_female_director/

http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Life/Entertainment/10-Surprising-Movies-Directed-by-Women.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267626/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102685/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001508/#Director

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001068/#Director

http://answers.encyclopedia.com/question/did-barbra-streisand-direct-any-films-108003.html

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/01/05/barbra-streisand-to-produce-direct-and-star-in-movie-version-of-gypsy/

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111185918AAOUDtp

http://www.dose.ca/celebrity/5346132/story.html

Successful Movie Franchises Part 2

July 28, 2011

In last week’s entry the reader was treated to tales of spies, villains and redemption. That’s right, the blog entry dealt with successful movie franchises. This week’s installment continues the story. Will good prevail? Will the hero get the girl? Read on and find out.

Batman/Superman
I combined them because they both started as comic books, then went to movie serials, then television and finally back to movies. They are also complex characters. They both lost their parents. They both are compelled to fight the good fight. Superman does it because his foster parents, the Kents instilled in him that his gifts must be used for the betterment of humanity. Batman does it because of survivor’s guilt. He saw his parents killed in a botched robbery and that spurred him to fight for justice.

While a lot could be said about the differences and similarities between the two, for now I’ll just focus on the films. As for Superman, there have been five movies about the Man of Steel, four starring the late Christopher Reeve in the title role (Superman films from 1978 to 1987) and one with actor Brandon Routh (Superman Returns). The films are:

Superman: The Movie 
1978
Superman II

1980
Superman III
1983
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
“1987
Superman Returns
2006

Since Superman Returns was such a disappointment critically and commercially, I hope there will not be another Superman movie. It had a good run, give it a rest and think of something new.

Moving along to Batman, there have been six films. Where did I get that number from? Simple I included the very campy Batman film from 1966 starring Adam West and Burt Ward (yes, the television show did spawn a movie) As for the role call of actors, Adam West, Val Kilmer and George Clooney each portrayed the Dark Knight in one film, Michael Keaton portrayed the Caped Crusader twice and with the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises Christian Bale will have portrayed Batman in three films. If you want to know  the filmography, here it is:

Batman 1966 Adam West in the title role and Burt Ward as Robin
Batman
1989 Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as The Joker
Batman Returns
1992 Michael Keaton in the title role, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin
Batman Forever
1995 Val Kilmer in the title role and Chris O’Donnell as Robin
Batman + Robin
1997 George Clooney in the title role and Chris O’Donnell as Robin
Batman Begins
2005 Christian Bale in the title role
The Dark Knight
2008 Christian Bale in the title role and Heath Ledger as The Joker
The Dark Knight Rises
2012 expected release Christian Bale in the title role and Anne Hathaway as the Catwoman.

I hope The Dark Knight Rises is the last Batman movie—ever!  Director Christopher Nolan did a great job rebooting Batman and Christian Bale, like Michael Keaton, got the darkness of Batman/Bruce Wayne just right. After all, he’s not some rich guy with nothing better to do than fight bad guys. For all his wealth and for all the good that he does as Batman, Bruce Wayne cannot bring his parents back and therein lies his darkness. Still, like Superman, it had a good run. End it. Please!

Shrek
The thumb nosing tale to every Disneyesque motif out there spawned four films. Each of the films featured the voices of Mike Myers as the title character, as well as Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy. The films collectively have made over $1 billion in the U.S. Not bad for an orge, his wife and his donkey pal. In case you want to put these films in your Netflix queue, they are:

Shrek 2001
Shrek 2
2004
Shrek the Third
2007
Shrek Forever After
2010

This franchise looks like it is done. Yet, the careers of the three principal stars have stalled recently, so there just might be another one coming down the pike. Still, let’s hope the folks at Dreamworks decide not to greenlight Shrek 5: Insert Clever Subhead Here.

Spider-man
This franchise took a while to get off the ground. The motion picture rights were first purchased in 1985 but a combination of the story not being right to limits of technology delayed the movie from being made until 2000. It was finally released in 2002 with Sam Raimi as the director and Tobey Maguire as the title character. Three films where made with Raimi as the director and Maguire as Spidey and these three films made $1.1 billion dollars in the U.S. Yet Spider-man 3 got mixed reviews. So, there were plans to make a Spider-man 4, yet Sam Rami couldn’t meet the deadline of 2011. So, Sony Pictures cancelled Spider-man 4 and announced that the franchise would be rebootted with a new director and new cast. The rebootted Spider-man is expected to be released in 2012. Personally, I think it would have been better just to end the franchise with Spider-man 3. Spidey/Peter Parker battled his demons, got the bad guys and married Mary Jane Watson. There are loads of superheros in the Marvel universe, so there would be no lack of material for filmmakers to draw from. Again the list:

Spider-man 2002
Spider-man 2
2004
Spider-man 3
2007

Pirates of the Carribean
This movie franchise wasn’t based on a comic book or book or came from anyone’s imagination. This successful movie franchise is based on a ride of the same name at both Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The series stars Johnny Depp, Keira Knightly, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush. The idea of a pirate movie based on the ride was in development at Disney since the early 1990’s. When director Gore Verbinski came on board in 2002, he wanted to marry the fun of the ride with its supernatural aspects.  Well, it came as a great surprise that the film did well, because a pirate movie had not been successful for a very long time. To date the films have made over $1.2 billion in the U.S. That’s a lot of yo, ho, ho-ing and it won’t end because Johnny Depp has signed on for a fifth Pirates movie.

You know what is below:

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2006
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
2007 (Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End were filmed simultantiously.)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011

Thus ends the tale of the movie franchise. Tune in next time for another exciting tale from the world of movies, collecting and pop culture, brought to you by a Generation X’er with many writing credits and not to mention many movie posters for sale.

Sources:
http://www.supermanhomepage.com/other/other.php?topic=bizarro-files

http://gothamknightsonline.forumotion.com/t106-how-many-batman-movies-are-there-and-what-are-their-names

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=shrek.htm

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=spiderman.htm

http://spiderman.wikia.com/wiki/Spider-Man_(film_series)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_(film_series)

“Filmed” with Whatever

March 31, 2011

Do wonders never cease? Not only can the iPhone™ let you surf the web, take photos and has loads of cool apps that lets you do anything from find the nearest coffeeshop to listen to your favorite radio station, you can also make a movie with it.

I’m not talking about something high school kids make in a few minutes and upload to YouTube to so that others can laugh at their sophomoric hijinx (i.e. burp and fart jokes). What I am talking about is South Korean director, Park Chan-wook who was given $130,000 by a South Korean cell phone company to make a movie with an iPhone™. While this has the feel of a promotional venture, Park isn’t the first director to use tools that weren’t exactly high end in order to make a movie.

Christopher Nolan, of Batman and Inception fame, made his first film, Following with limited equipment and a ‘crew’ of people who had day jobs. While it didn’t become a blockbuster, it is respected among the cult film aficionados. Independent director Lena Dunham shot Tiny Furniture on a Canon EOS 7D, a still camera that sells for $1500 and she got a nomination for Best Cinematography from the Independent Spirit Award.  Robert Rodriguez’s budget for El Mariachi was only $7,000 and the movie was financially and critically successful.

So, will the next Scorsese, Lucas or Cameron use off-the-shelf equipment and work with a budget of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of he or she is lucky enough to get that much money. Most likely yes. Still, it is important to remember that in the end it isn’t so much the equipment that makes a good movie, rather it is good storytelling. After all films like Star Wars, Love Story, Avatar, Gone With The Wind, and When Harry Met Sally captured the popular imagination the way that they did because films had a good story to tell and each of them told it well. Pyrotechnics, animation and 3D will have the audience saying “Wow”, but without a good story, it is just an exercise in visuals.

So, who knows what the tech heads will dream up. It could be something that you hold in the palm of your hand, use to order pizza on a Friday night and inspire a future Oscar winning director. Something to think about the next time you make a phone call on your smart phone or happen upon a bunch of teenagers filming fart jokes on an iPhone™.

Sources:
http://www.ebertpresents.com/episodes/episode-108/videos/88

http://blog.koldcast.tv/2010/koldcast-news/the-15-cheapest-movies-that-went-on-to-become-cult-classics/

Highest Grossing Films of 2010

January 6, 2011

Here are the top ten domestic grossing films, as reported in the December 24, 2010 issue of The Hollywood Reporter

1.     Toy Story 3 $415 million  (The folks at Pixar and Disney must be very happy.)

2.     Alice in Wonderland $334.2 million

3.     Inception $292.5 million (Christopher Nolan has proven that he doesn’t need Batman to boil his pot.)

4.     Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 $265.7 million

5.     Shrek Forever After $238.5 million

6.     The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $300.5 million (Team Jacob or Team Edward? Who cares! Vampires AND Werewolves aren’t sexy.)

7.     Iron Man 2 $312.1 million

8.     Despicable Me $250.5 million

9.     How to Train Your Dragon $217.6 million  (Or How to Train Your Dragon and Make Millions in the Process)

10.  Clash of the Titans $163.2 million

Joking aside, four out of the ten films in the 2010 list are animated. It is not hard to figure out why, since the ongoing recession has people yearning not just for an escape but a reminder of childhood and animated films do both.  (I explored this idea further in my blog entry of July 21, 2010 and you can read it here: https://justmovieposters09.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/animated-movies%E2%80%94they%E2%80%99re-not-just-for-kids-anymore/). Also, half of the films in the list are sequels. Love’em or hate’em, sequels make the cash register go cha-ching million of times over. From Harry Potter to Twilight and loads of movies in between, people like to see how characters progress over time. I admit, I like sequels for that very reason. Because people want to see the next chapter, they go the see the sequel and the film makes lots of money. It’s not rocket science, folks. It’s what the engineers call “If it works, it works” principle.

So, what will 2011 bring in movies? While I could wax poetic about the art of film, the reality is that the studios aren’t going to mess with a good formula. So, there will be more blockbusters, sequels and animated films in 2011. Of course, there is a chance that I’m wrong and there will be less films that are just formulaic plots with different characters and more films that explore the human condition.

Naaaaa.

Source:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/top-10-grossing-films-2010-65349

Less Is More—Even With Movie Posters

August 18, 2010

In doing research for entries for this blog, I came across another blog, Escape Into Life and an entry that featured movie posters for recent movies by Brendon Schaefer, a graphics designer.  You can see the posters here:

http://www.escapeintolife.com/showcase/brandon-shaeffers-movie-posters/

Some of the posters have an art deco look to the them, while others look like propaganda posters from World War II, yet what caught my eye on each of them is how Schaefer is able to tell a lot about a movie with very little in the way of illustration.  These aren’t your run of the mill Photoshopped/designed by the marketing department movie posters. They invite introspection, as opposed to “Huh? What’s that movie about?” (See Movie Posters That Make You Ask ??? July 15, 2010)

Schaefer says about his work, “There’s something to be said about distilling a central theme or idea of a film down to its core and translating it into a simple, iconic image. It’s a nice exercise that shows just how limitation can breed possibility and eliminate distraction…”

What a great idea, creating a movie poster around a “simple, iconic image”.  Granted, it won’t work for all movies, yet it was done for the 1989 film Batman and for the 2005 film The 40 Year Old Virgin and, if done right, it can be done for other films, as well.  Movie posters aren’t just advertising vehicles. There is room to be artistic without confounding the moviegoer. An injection of artistry that leads to some little introspection, in the end, is a good thing. After all, the more someone thinks about a movie, the more likely that person is going to see it.

So, powers that be in Hollywood, contact Brendon Schaefer and others like him and commission them to do some movie posters. You and millions of other people will be glad that you did.

Note: To learn more about Brendon Schaefer, go to: http://www.seekandspeak.com/

Source:
http://www.escapeintolife.com/showcase/brandon-shaeffers-movie-posters/

Superheroes & Movies—Perfect Together

June 10, 2010

It seems like superheroes were made with movies in mind. Cool costumes, evil villains and abilities that mere mortals just don’t have, add up to a must see movie.  So, which superheroes have made it to the silver screen?

Superman
Yes the grand-daddy of all superheroes and the model from which all subsequent superheroes are based upon. It started out as a movie serial, then it went to television, then it lead to five movies, four with the late Christopher Reeve and one with Brandon Routh. The Superman movies showed that if you put together good acting, good writing, (one of the writers of the screenplay for the first Superman movie was none other than Mario Puzo of Godfather fame) good directing and good special effects, you’ll end up with a great superhero movie.

Batman
This too, started out as a movie serial, then it went to television and subsequently six Batman movies were made. The first two had Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Tim Burton as the director and it is my opinion that Keaton and Burton got the darkness of Bruce Wayne/Batman right. The movies seemed to have lost their way when Joel Schumacher took over, but things picked up with director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale as Batman.

Spiderman
Not to be outdone by the folks at DC Comics, Marvel Comics had a Spiderman movie in the works since the 1980’s but for reasons such three independent production companies that went into bankrupty to the business health of Marvel Entertainment, the ideas were kept on paper until 2002. The rest of course is history. Note: I saw a trailer for the first Spiderman movie in August 2001 that featured a helicopter getting caught in a web that was spun between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.  That trailer was subsequently removed after 9/11. Still, it was a cool trailer.

The Incredible Hulk
Not only does this superhero have a troubling past, but the movies aren’t exactly hits. Part of it has to do with the story of Bruce Banner, a mild mannered scientist whose powers, which came about via an accidental exposure to gamma radiation, are activated only when he becomes angry. How do you fight the bad guys when you can’t really control your powers? Two movies, one released in 2003 and another released in 2008, tried to answer that question and box office results showed that they didn’t really answer that question to the satisfaction of moviegoers.

Ironman
Yet another superhero from Marvel Comics, this time it’s about a billionaire weapons manufacturer who creates a suit that allows him to fight the bad guys without suffering any harm. It was very successful at the box office and ushered in Robert Downey, Jr. return to film. Ironman 2 was released on May 7, 2010 and is doing well in the box office.

So, if you are thinking of creating a blockbuster movie, just mine the comic book vault.  Lots of people did and it worked for most of them all the way to the bank.

Sources:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078346/fullcredits#writers

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005JPS8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1D55TMD6W8KPNR2WV1DM&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

http://articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/02/business/fi-13115/2

http://www.amazon.com/Incredible-Hulk-Screen-Edward-Norton/dp/B001DHXT2U/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1274903370&sr=1-6

The Sequel Strikes Again

April 29, 2010

Recently, it was reported on Empire Online that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are confirmed for Men in Black III and it will be a 3D film. The expected release date is May 30, 2011.

Since the late 1970’s, there have been sequels galore. Notable examples are the Star Wars films and Star Trek films. Yet, it wasn’t always like this. Up until the 1970’s a film was made, it was a success or failure and that was that. The characters were never revisited and the story was not continued. Of course, the exception was the James Bond films. The movie going public in years past were willing to accept that Elsa never saw Rick again, Dorothy never returned to the land of Oz and while Scarlett said that she was going to get Rhett back, it was seen as wishful thinking on her part.

My theory is the establishment of episodic television shows lead a desire in the movie going public to know what happens next. It wasn’t enough to have the main characters ride off into the sunset. People wanted to know if Luke Skywalker became a Jedi and defeated Darth Vader or if the crew of the Enterprise found Spock and saved the whales.[1]

I like sequels. There I said it. The Star Wars films are among my favorite movies. I saw Shrek and Shrek 2 and liked them both. I like the Star Trek films with the original television cast, the Next Generation cast and the J.J. Abrams reboot. Also, The Dark Knight was a blockbuster film that I felt was more thought provoking than most blockbuster films.

Of course, not every movie benefits from a sequel and after a while, the story gets old. The two Tim Burton Batman movies were great. Burton and Michael Keaton in the title role got the darkness and the tortured soul of Batman/Bruce Wayne right. When Joel Schumacher took over the franchise, the movies were just about some rich guy who dresses up and chases bad guys. Also, as many Trekkies know, some Star Trek films are better than others.

Still, the powers that be in Hollywood don’t want to mess with a good formula. So, if a movie made lots of money, more often than not a sequel is in order. As the engineers say, “If it works, it works.”

Source:
http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=27639


[1] Star Wars Episodes IV-VI and Star Trek II & III respectively.