Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Fanboys (and Girls) Back Off

February 16, 2012

George Lucas, the man behind Star Wars, the co-creator of Indiana Jones and now the co-director of Red Tails, a World War II film that focuses on the pursuit squadron made up of African-Americans, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, has announced that he is retiring from making movies.

Yet, for someone who has created some of the most enduring characters in film and some of the most successful films in the history of cinema, Lucas seems to be more an object of scorn than praise. The comments section of the website where I learned of Lucas’ retirement had quite a few sarcastic and nasty comments about him. Of course, to be fair there were complimentary comments as well.  I feel that the negative comments directed at him are mean spirited and don’t add anything constructive to the conversation. So, this blog entry will be my answer to all the disgruntled Jedis out there.

First, a disclosure:
Yes, I am a fan of all the Star Wars films from the original trilogy to the prequels. I love the films because of the good versus evil/adventure story that they are. Yet, I must say that I feel that the Clone Wars animated film and subsequent series are unnecessary. As for the Ewok made-for-TV movies from the 1980’s, I’m neutral on them.  Now, here’s my two cents on the subject:

Temper Your Expectations
Get over the fact that the prequels weren’t what you expected them to be. Remember this is Star Wars, a series of movies that was made for entertainment purposes, they are not meant to be taken as philosophy or religion. Yes, it uses mythic arch-types such as hero’s quest and redemption, but many stories have those things, such as The Chronicles of Narina and Lord of the Rings. No one begrudges the filmmakers of these films for how they interpreted each story.

If You Think You Can Do A Better Job…
Make your own movie! That’s right. If you are going to shoot off your big mouth about how you didn’t like this or that aspect of the Star Wars prequels or would or would not do something a certain way, then go make your own movie where you decide how things should be done. Digital cameras make it much cheaper and, in many ways, easier to make a film now than it was in the mid 1970’s when Lucas was in Tunisia and England making Star Wars. In fact, independent director Lena Dunham shot the film 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. So, stop shooting off your mouth and start shooting a movie.

In The Words Of A Certain Starfleet Captain…
“Get a life!” Yes, I am mixing my pop culture metaphors, still it is apropos for those who feel the need to comment on how George Lucas sold out, could have done better or mention anything else that is less than complementary. Lucas has achieved what few people have done, namely he was able to take the ideas in his head and have them realized. Most people’s ideas, for whatever reason, stay exactly that—ideas that never see the light of day. Yet, Lucas was lucky enough to not only have the Star Wars films made, but to see them transcend just being movies to become a part of American culture.

So, how about showing a little admiration for what Lucas was able to accomplish and if you can’t show some admiration, then back off. The Star Wars films are Lucas’ baby. He created them, shared them with the world and millions were touched by them. How many people can say that about their creations?

Personally, I don’t think this retirement will last very long. He’ll get another idea that he just has to turn into a film. So, don’t expect Lucas to spend the rest of his days playing golf and lounging around the Skywalker Ranch.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/george-lucas-set-to-retire-after-red-tails

http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org/explore/history.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-keefe/the-slamdance-film-festiv_b_1217044.html

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

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Kimosabe, Uncle Walt Says Stop

August 25, 2011

I found a news item about Disney Studios stopping production of the latest Lone Ranger movie. The reason for halting production was the budget. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer was able to reduce the budget from $250 to $232 million, but Disney wanted the budget down to $200 million. There was also the theory that since Cowboys and Aliens did poorly at the box office, Disney was going to put the Lone Ranger on the shelf for now. The film was in pre-production, meaning that while no film was shot, money had been spent on the project and Johnny Depp, who was to play Tonto, will be paid the full amount that was listed in his contract. No word on Armie Hammer’s salary (he was to play the Lone Ranger) or what Director Gore Verbinski thinks about all of this.

What do I think of all of this? Woo-hoo! There is some intelligent life in Hollywood. How many Lone Ranger radio shows, movies, shorts, television shows and cartoons were made? Is it really necessary to make yet another one? Enough has been done with the story, so I don’t think even actors like Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp can really add anything new to it.

This trend of remakes, reboots and redos has gotten very, very old, very, very fast. The Lone Ranger belongs to another time when, simplistic stories of the “Old West” were the norm. That’s not to say that a film based on the “Old West” can’t be made. Just be original about it. If you are thinking that I wanted Cowboys and Aliens to do better at the box office, you are right. After all, what was to stop aliens from visiting Earth in the 1800’s? So, it is not so far fetched that the cowboys would come in contact with them.

I end this not by pleading with the Hollywood powers that be to be more original. Instead, I ask the moviegoing public not to be so quick to see a remake, reboot or redo movie. Seek out something original for a change. As for all the Lone Ranger fans out there, if you folks are so hungry for some “Hi-ho, Silver!” stuff, then put some Lone Ranger films in your Netflix queue or go to your local library and borrow a few Lone Ranger DVD’s. You’ll be able to enjoy those films with the original actors and there won’t be another remake, reboot or redo movie cluttering the film landscape.

Source:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/lone-ranger-halts-production

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)

Successful Movie Franchises Part 1

July 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the last film in the Harry Potter series opened on July 15, 2011 and made $168.5 million in the U.S. its opening weekend.  This film means the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise. The series made over $6 billion worldwide, made stars of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and it made book series author,  J.K. Rowling a very happy (and rich) camper. Not bad for an idea Rowling thought of while riding the train.

Of course, Harry Potter isn’t the only movie franchise. There are others, so let’s explore the world of movie franchises and let’s see what we will find.

James Bond
“Bond. James Bond.” The smoothness. The gadgets. The women. The double entondres. There only one Bond, M6 spy and lady (and bad guy) killer extraordinaire. Actually no, there have been nine actors, Barry Nelson, David Niven, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Bronson and Daniel Craig, who played James Bond and 22 official Bond films made by Eon Productions. In case you are wondering, they are:

Dr. No (1962-Sean Connery)
From Russia With Love
(1963-Sean Connery)
Goldfinger
(1964-Sean Connery)
Thunderball
(1965-Sean Connery)
You Only Live Twice
(1967-Sean Connery)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
(1969-George Lazenby)
Diamonds Are Forever
(1971-Sean Connery)
Live and Let Die
(1973-Roger Moore)
The Man with the Golden Gun
(1974-Roger Moore)
The Spy Who Loved Me
(1977-Roger Moore)
Moonraker
(1979-Roger Moore)
For Your Eyes Only
(1981-Roger Moore)
Octopussy
(1983-Roger Moore)
A View to a Kill
(1985-Roger Moore)
The Living Daylights
(1987-Timothy Dalton)
Licence to Kill
(1989-Timothy Dalton)
GoldenEye
(1995-Pierce Brosnan)
Tomorrow Never Dies
(1997-Pierce Brosnan)
The World is Not Enough
(1999-Pierce Brosnan)
Die Another Day
(2002-Pierce Brosnan)
Casino Royale
(2006-Daniel Craig)
Quantum of Solace
(2008-Daniel Craig)

Three films were not made by Eon Productions and they not considered part of the Bond canon. These unofficial films are:

Casino Royale (1954-Barry Nelson)
Casino Royale
(1967-David Niven & Peter Sellers)
Never Say Never Again
(1983-Sean Connery)

What is it about the Bond movies that keep people coming back for more? Is it the smoothness, the gadgets, the women and the double entondres? I’m sure that’s part of it. I say it is the fact that there will always be bad guys, whether communist spies, billionaires obsessed with world domination or other malcontents run amok that need disciplining. So, who’s going to take out the garbage?

Bond. James Bond.

Star Wars
Love him or hate him, you have to hand it to director and creator George Lucas. He took the ancient story of the vision quest/reluctant hero/redemption of the villain and milked it for all it was worth. How much did the Star Wars films make? How does $4 billion worldwide sound to you? Sounds very good to me and that’s just the money made at the box office. That total does not include the books, toys and other items in the Star Wars product universe. So, if you would like to put Star Wars films in your Netflix queue here are the titles:

Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) (1977)
Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Trek
Another space opera that did very well for its creator, Gene Roddenbury. Whereas Star Wars is steeped in myth, Star Trek is steeped in science. What started out as a failed television series gained new life in syndication, then in the movies, as resurrected television series, with three spinoffs, and more movies. How many movies? Would you believe 11? Yes, and again, if you want to know what they are:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
(1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
(1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
(1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
(1991)
Star Trek: Generations
(1994)
Star Trek: First Contact
(1996)
Star Trek: Insurrection
(1998)
Star Trek: Nemesis
(2002)
Star Trek
(2009) This is the reboot/prequel directed by J.J. Abrams.

(As Star Wars goes, so does Star Trek.)

What keeps people coming back for Star Trek? For all its science, Star Trek is a message of hope. In the Star Trek universe, the people of Earth got their act together, made peace with each other and endeavor to help others to do the same. Yeah, the Enterprise is armed, but you have to remember that the Federation has its enemies and a starship has to have the ability to defend itself.

Toy Story
The movie that put Pixar on the map and changed the face of animation. The story of the secret life of Andy’s toys won the hearts of moviegoers made Steve Jobs, John Lasseter and others at Pixar lots of money. It also lead to other Pixar films such as Finding Nemo, Cars, Monsters—just to name a few. There were three Toy Story films that featured the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Don Rickles. Each film was a critical and commercial success and collectively they made over $883 million in the U.S., alone. Not bad for toys that keep getting misplaced and lost. Thankfully, the folks at Pixar have giving the toys a rest and it looks like there won’t be anymore Toy Story films made. Yippee. Someone at a studio knows when to stop. Anyway, the movies are:

Toy Story 1995
Toy Story 2
1999
Toy Story 3
2010

Wait a minute! You must be saying now. There are more successful movie franchisees that just the ones mentioned here. Well, of course there are. What do you think?  That I’m stupid or something? (Don’t answer that.) Anyway, a successful movie franchise keeps the audience wanting more. So, in that spirit, I’ll ask you to stay tuned for another of my thrilling blog entries where I will dazzle you, the reader, with tales of successful movie franchisees.

Okay, so my blog entries aren’t thrilling, but they are good reads.

Sources:

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/

http://www.klast.net/bond/filmlist.html

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/50418

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

http://blastr.com/2009/05/the-10-star-trek-movies-s.php

http://www.movieweb.com/news/box-office-beat-down-harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2-earns-168-5-million