Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tales of Halloween

Hey guys, long time no see. Have I missed any good movies? No? Alright, let's go!

Nobody likes a good horror anthology movie as much as I do. Except perhaps my wife. And some of her friends. Anyway, we’ve got a new one out, so let’s take a look, shall we?

You know, it’s genuinely not a good sign to start your trailer off with a terrible day-for-night shot. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. It reeks of cheap, amateur filmmaking. Of course, for all I know, that’s what we’re looking at, so let’s not dwell on it and just move along.

So according to this cop fella, “Every year, on Halloween, this town goes batshit crazy.” If I may pose a question: why the hell does anyone still live there, then? Of course, the locale will alter your definition of “batshit crazy.” One town’s batshit crazy is another town’s charm. Can you imagine how many things occur in New York and Chicago that are considered part of their charm, but would be considered malicious acts of misanthropy almost anywhere else in the world? Hell, the townsfolk don’t even need to move if they don’t want to. When Halloween rolls around they can just take a couple days off work, pack up the kiddies and skip town. It’s easy enough to plan around; Halloween isn’t one of those shapeshifting holidays like Easter, jumping around to a different time every year like a magic rabbit hopped up on meth, never knowing when it’s going to happen until you walk into your house after work and find it clutching your rare coin collection while watching an old UFC pay-per-view with its pants around its ankles. I admit that this simile doesn’t really make any sense, but neither does what that cop said, and this already sounds like it would be a better movie.

This trailer utilizes the “throwing names at you” technique, a strategy that seems to be used to get your interested in a movie if the actual story doesn’t do anything for you. Think of all the times you’ve seen a trailer or spot for a TV show that shouted from the rooftops that it was “brought to you by exectuvie producer Steven Spielberg/Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay/James Cameron.” Nine of of ten times the person named had little-to-nothing to do with the movie or show that’s namedropping them. It’s a cheap trick, but they use it because it works. I’m as guilty as anyone; if you told me Chris Nolan made a silent film about Carrot Top running a coin-operated laundromat, not only would I be in line to see it opening day, I’d pre-order it on Blu-Ray at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. But this trick only works when you use an established, recognizable name, which makes this trailer’s use of it so weird. Most of the names that they toss at us aren’t recognizable at all, and those that are aren’t the people anyone would ever use to try and sell a movie. Barry Bostwick? The goofy mayor from SPIN CITY? Michael J. Fox has been busier and he’s got a horrible disease! They tell us John Landis and Joe Dante are in it too, and they’re at least recognizable names, but they’re just making cameo appearances as actors. Will they also have John Carpenter as best boy and Eli Roth working as a foley artist?

The real problem here is that a trailer should give you a brief look at what a movie is about - what’s the story, who are the characters, what’s at stake? This is hard enough to do when you’re working with a traditional narrative film that’s got a single cogent storyline. TALES OF HALLOWEEN has got ten segments crammed into 92 minutes. That’s less than ten minutes per story! They probably had a hard enough time tying them into a coherent feature, let alone a trailer that made any sense. Watching this thing is like having a nightmare, and not in a good way. There’s a scary guy in a mask, a jack-o-lantern that’s eating people’s arms and faces, some fella without a jaw, slutty Dorothy. It’s like watching an adaption of a college student’s free-flow essay about what scares him.

Because the movie, segments, and trailer itself are so short, there’s not enough time to be able to figure out what the hell is going on and none of it seems to make any sense. But if you’re still not sold, have we mentioned that Lin Shaye is in it?!


Horror anthology movies are nothing new. There have been bad ones, there have been good ones, sometimes both within the same movie. You can have an anthology where almost all of the segments are great (CREEPSHOW); you can have one where one segment is incredibly memorable and the others are instantly forgettable (TRILOGY OF TERROR); you can have one where every story in it is a steaming piece of crap (CREEPSHOW 2 - a vengeful cigar store Indian? A mutilated undead hitchhiker who won’t stop repeating himself? A man-eating pool cover?) Most likely, this movie will end up being a mixed bag - parts will be good, parts will be mediocre, and parts will make you yearn for a time when the most you had to worry about was hillbilly Stephen King turning into alien grass.

At the same time, this movie definitely has some things working against it. For one, movies in general just aren’t very good right now. If there’s one thing the 21st century will be remembered for, it definitely won’t be its quality filmmaking. What percentage of movies being released in the last, say, ten years were any good? 30, 40%? And that may be generous. So if this general percentage were applied to TALES OF HALLOWEEN, which with its ten different segments is basically like ten mini-movies, we’d have to be pretty lucky to see an anthology where even half of the segments are decent. And while we’re on the subject, don’t you think ten segments is a few too many for an anthology movie? CREEPSHOW ran a full two hours and only had five segments (plus a prologue and epilogue). Guys, this new movie has twice as many segments and runs a half an hour shorter! Averaging just nine minutes per story, I don’t think the directors are going to have enough time to tell each of their stories, even if they are all loosely connected.

The biggest grab-bag associated with this movie might just be the people making it. Some of these guys have made some horror flicks that garnered mainstream attention and success, some have made well-received flicks within the genre, some have made celluloid crapfests that are the filmic equivalent of watching someone have a colonic irrigation. Let’s take a look this movie’s ten directors one-at-a-time:

The most commercially successful of the lot is probably Darren Lynn Bousman, who wrote and directed SAW II, and helmed III and IV. Aside from being the same movie over and over, the earlier SAW sequels were at least much better than the later ones. Of course, getting paper cuts on the webbing between your toes or under your fingernails would be better than the last SAW flicks.

I’ve noticed a theme with Adam Gierasch’s work, he having written SPIDERS, CROCODILE, CROCODILE 2: DEATH SWAMP, and RATS (which all sound terrific, by the way). Picking up on the pattern?

Andrew Kasch has until-now focused on documentaries about horror movies: he helped the very-well received four-hour long (!) documentary about the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. He also directed short features about the making of HALLOWEEN 4, 5, and H2O, which I assume were featured on the series collection Blu-Ray set. I haven’t seen them but they sound fabulous.

Neil Marshall wrote and directed THE DESCENT, which everone seemed to really like.

Lucky McKee wrote and directed a little film called MAY, which has itself quite a cult following. Although it did have creepy moments, it didn’t do an awful lot for me personally.

John Skipp wrote A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 5: THE DREAM CHILD back in ‘89. It’s not a terrible movie, but probably the best you can say for it is that it’s better than the installment that followed it, FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE.

A side note about FREDDY’S DEAD: this movie is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t cast the celebrity du jour in your movie. Case in point, this movie has got Roseanne Barr AND Tom Arnold (both of whom seem to have dropped off the face of the planet, much to the chagrin of nobody), Johnny Depp cameoing as himself (and potentially looking like a normal person for the last time in his life) and Alice Cooper as Freddy’s dad. Talk about instantly dating your movie.

Not it gets a little shakier. We get Mike Mendy, who directed a powerful one-two punch of poop, THE CONVENT and THE GRAVEDANCERS, and Dave Parker, who wrote THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD, which comes up in discussions as a contender for the worse movie ever made, to say nothing of video game adaptions, which tend to stink up the place anyway. I’m almost surprised they didn’t get Uwe Boll associated with this flick somehow.

The last three directors, Axelle Carolyn, Ryan Schifrin, and Paul Solet are all relative unknowns who haven’t yet done much of note.

Writing and directing are both obviously hugely important to any film, but I might make the case that they’re even more important in an anthology, because all of these different styles and voices will need to be put together into some sort of coherent piece. It’s been done before, but previous successful anthologies were helmed by guys with a little more street cred. CREEPSHOW was directed by George Romero from a script by Stephen King (who, as great as he is, is not infallible, particularly when it comes to the silver screen). Likewise, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE’s four segments were directed by John Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller (what a lineup!). Maybe moreso than a typical traditional-narrative film, anthologies rely upon the talent of the filmmakers to be successful. So, as far as TALES OF HALLOWEEN’s chances of being any good, it’ll probably be like flipping a coin. A real coin, that is, not Harvey Dent’s goofy double-sided coin.

A last aside, can we agree that TALES OF HALLOWEEN is a terribly boring name for a movie? It sounds like an R.L. Stine choose-you-own-adventure book. Speaking of Stine, did you know Jack Black is playing him in a Goosebumps movie? Yeah, I try not to think about it either.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An Open Response To Charles Hurt

(Charles Hurt's original open letter can be viewed here)

Dear Mr. Hurt:

You recently penned an open letter addressed to director Christopher Nolan, actor Sean Penn, and Warner Brothers Pictures. While I am not associated with, nor do I speak for, any of the intended recipients, I feel compelled to take advantage of the nature of an open letter and write my own open response.

Saying the shooting was “carried out almost precisely from the scripts” of Christopher Nolan’s films is wildly inaccurate and would indicate that you yourself have never seen any of the movies in question. Having seen all of Nolan’s films, I can confidently state that not a single one contains a scene that has any parallels whatsoever with the shooting. As a matter of fact, though I can’t claim to have seen every movie ever made, I have seen a great deal of them, and I’m drawing a blank when trying to think of a movie that features a shootout in a theater. The closest in my mind is the apprehension of Lee Harvey Oswald at a theater in JFK, which was a historical event (though one does wonder what movies Oswald saw that inspired him to assassinate John Kennedy).

You attack Nolan for sharing his thoughts on the Aurora, Colorado shooting, and his belief that “the mere words of the English language […] are simply not up to the task of describing them,” which I believe to be a mischaracterization of the intent of his statement. I imagine his intent was to show support and solidarity for the victims of the tragedy; to let them know that, while no words can correctly describe or diminish the depth of their suffering, those associated with the film share their grief and are keeping them in their thoughts and prayers. While this may seem like a meaningless gesture to you, I believe some level of comfort is bestowed upon the victims, knowing that high-profile celebrities – people we often view as larger-than-life entities – have also been touched by this terrible event.

You also mention statements issued by “half-rate actors,” presumably referring to members of the Dark Knight Rises cast who released statements in response to the shooting. While the quality of an actor’s work can be rather subjective, I think it worth mentioning that the top-billed members of the Dark Knight Rises cast have 15 Academy Award nominations and 5 wins between them.

Though I’m no fan of Sean Penn, I’m puzzled by his inclusion in your letter. Yes, the trailer for his film Gangster Squad, which includes a scene of a shootout in a movie theater, appeared before screenings of The Dark Knight Rises, it’s a stretch to say it depicts “orgiastic bloodshed,” considering there isn’t a single on-screen appearance of blood throughout the entire trailer. And while I would agree there are similarities between the scene in question and the actual events that occurred in Colorado, I would argue there are just as many differences; to my knowledge, the suspect is neither a member of the Mafia, nor is he a gangster living in 1949, and is not alleged to have used a Tommy Gun in the shooting.

You criticize these individuals by saying that they are the “inspiration” and the “architects” of the Colorado massacre. This is patently absurd. Christopher Nolan and Sean Penn’s films can no more be accused of inspiring the shooting than the Pirates of the Caribbean films can be accused of inciting Somali pirates. If movies were a common and direct basis for real-life events, Knocked Up, The Terminator, and Ghostbusters would be responsible for rashes of unplanned pregnancies, shootings at police stations, and startups of businesses focusing on paranormal investigations and eliminations, respectively. But you take it a step further, saying that Nolan and Penn have “inspired mass murder” and that they combine to form “the Osama bin Laden of this travesty.” It is not only insane but borderline offensive to compare the acts of a single alleged shooter – James Holmes, whom you do not mention a single time in your entire letter – to the leader of a group of international terrorists responsible for the deaths of nearly 3000 Americans.

Four times in your article you mention that one of the victims was a 6-year-old girl. While tragic, I fail to see how the ages of any of the victims are the concern of your addressees. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film ratings are designed to notify potential moviegoers of the content that can be expected when seeing a particular film. The Dark Knight Rises received a PG-13 rating, which indicates that parents are “strongly cautioned” that “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” For this film, the MPAA cited “intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language” as reasoning for the rating.
It is not my desire to point fingers or assign blame, but if you’re concerned about why a child of that age was present at the midnight release of a movie featuring the content mentioned above, I would first question the girl’s parents.

In closing, you refer to The Dark Knight Rises as a “snuff film,” indicating that you don’t understand the definition of the snuff film, nor the fact that the existence of a genuine snuff film has never been confirmed.

Overall, I find it incredibly ironic that the Dark Knight film trilogy should be singled out and subjected to blame for a mass murder. After all, Batman has only one rule: no killing.

Everyone has the right to their own opinion, Mr. Hurt. I just wish that yours was rooted more in facts than in broad mischaracterizations, misappropriated blame, and hyperbole.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I know your favorite part of the game Battleship. I know because it's my favorite part of the game Battleship: when it's over. I bet I know your second-favorite part of Battleship. It's when the aliens come down and demolish the earth.

Instead of tackling that, let's examine the overriding issue. They've made a movie out of a game? Far be it for me to criticize the adaption of other forms of media into games. That's why the Academy Awards choose to honor both the best Original and Adapted Screenplay each year; some of the best movies are based on other sources -- usually books, but not always. A sampling:

The Shawshank Redemption (short story)
The Godfather (all three parts; book)
12 Angry Men (play)
The Dark Knight (and every other Batman film; comic book)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (book)
The Lord Of The Rings (all three; book)
Fight Club (book)
The Silence Of The Lambs (book)
Forrest Gump (book)
Apocalypse Now (book)
The Shining (book)
A Clockwork Orange (book)
To Kill A Mockingbird (book)
The Green Mile (book)
2001: A Space Odyssey (book)
Die Hard (book)
Sin City (comic book)
Jaws (book)
The Wizard Of Oz (series of books)
The Grapes Of Wrath (book)
Gone With The Wind (book)
Stand By Me (short story)
Harry Potter (all of them; book)
The Exorcist (book)
Beauty And The Beast (fairy tale)

You'll notice this list contains no movies based on games. That's because a list of movies based on games looks more like this:

Mortal Kombat
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
The House Of The Dead
Street Fighter

The difference is that all the movies on the first list are great and all the movies on the second list suck.

The movies on the second list were all based on video games, which generally have stories and characters, just like movies. The problem with board games is that they lack both stories and characters. How is it possible to make a movie based on a board game lacking these important ingredients? Make up a bunch of shit and slap the Battleship name on it!

From the looks of the trailer, Battleship is a smorgasbord of plot points, technology, and action sequences stolen from successful science fiction films. Haven't you always wanted to see Star Wars/Star Trek on water? Me neither.

The trailer ends in dramatic fashion, with a character screaming at the top of his lungs to "fire everything" at the enemy. I've never heard this line, nor could I imagine it being delivered with such force.

How about the giant spinny spiky metal ball things that kickoff the adventure that is this trailer? They look like the bastard love child of destroyer droids, Hailfire droid tanks (those things from Revenge Of The Sith), sentinels (those squid things from the Matrix sequels), and Optimus Prime.

And what about that shield thing the aliens put up that doesn't let anything in or out? This is a completely new concept that I haven't seen used recently.

I do have to give the filmmakers some credit; they've created villains with a sleek, futuristic look I haven't seen depicted elsewhere.

No matter how many times I watch this trailer, I can't seem to shake the feeling that the entire movie is designed to sell action figures. I wonder why that is.


Well, at least this will be the first movie that's really just a two-hour commercial for toys.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

Well, at least these movies have been trending in the right direction. By the time Paranormal Activity 6 rolls around they might actually be scary. Because, let's face it: the first one was scary for about two minutes. A door opening is not scary. Flour on the floor is not scary. Micah, while not scary, was an asshole. Also, nobody knew how to pronounce his name correctly. It could've been scarier, but they decided to ruin the ending in the trailer. A-whoops!

But while the scare quotient is heading the right way, the time period is hightailing it the other direction. I know that prequels have become more of a trend recently, but do we really need a prequel of a prequel? This is really going to confuse the kids when they go to the local video rental establishment or online digital video streaming service searching for the newest in all things boogeyman. For all his faults, at least George Lucas was smart enough to postdate the Star Wars movies so they're numerically correct with regards to the passage of time.

To help with any confusion, I've constructed a handy timeline to figure out what the hell is going on:

Make any sense to you? Me neither. Why did the filmmakers decide to jump back in time yet again? Because they're idiots.

Take a look at the new footage shown in the trailer. Just look at it. Aside from some artificial snow and grain the talentless editor added during postproduction, the picture quality is just as good as was presented in the first movie. Which, if you'll recall, was shot on a consumer-grade (albeit high-end) digital video camera. Where do you suppose two young girls got a digital video camera in 1988? Assuming that this movie won't feature time travel as a prominent subplot, their daddy must've purchased something that looks like this:

And the footage shot from said camera would look something like this:

Even if the footage was found later and transferred over to a DVD, it would still look something like this:

Somehow, though, this family was able to record their exploits with a camera that recorded VHS footage of the same quality of high-end digital videos taken 20 years later.

What really hurts these presequels is that the premise for even having the footag in the first place is becoming more and more contrived. The fact that Micah -- after having spent too much money on a camera he didn't need -- would want to record every moment of his dull life is completely believable. He was, after all, a douchebag. But consider Paranormal Activity 2: in order to have a reason to be able to see what happens to the family, the writer decided to have their house ransacked at the beginning of the film (it's implied that the ransacking was done by the demon. Try and wrap your head around that one). The family's completely implausible response is to install video cameras covering every inch of living space. What, exactly, will that do to prevent your house from being invaded again? Sure, they could've installed what we in the business call "locks," or invested in a high-tech security system, but those behaviors wouldn't fit with the warped sense of character psychology being applied to the movie.

So now in Paranormal Activity 3 we're supposed to believe that a couple of small children are able to properly maneuver, set up, and operate a camcorder?

Speaking of which, how old are these girls? The oldest is what, ten? Twelve? Her sister's even younger. There's no way these kids are using that camcorder. There's also no way they're actually playing Bloody Mary, even if it is a ruse by the older girl to scare her sister. And I hope they don't try and make this Bloody Mary thing into any kind of major or minor plot point, because I've seen that before, and it didn't turn out well.

And what's that supposed demonic presence supposed to be in the background? Bloody Mary? Noob Saibot? John Cena's mystery opponent?

Actually, any one of those will probably be scarier than what's actually in the movie.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Amazing Spider-Man

This is what it's come to. Instead of making any new movies, we're just going to remake the same movie over and over and over and call each one a reimagining or a reboot when it's really just a rehash. Sony will churn out three new Spider-Man movies, then they'll decide it's time to reboot the series. In 2022 they'll reboot the series again and start all over. Warner Brothers is already planning on rebooting its Batman series, despite the fact that Christopher Nolan's trilogy has a decent shot at being the best film series ever.

We do not need a new Spider-Man series. Sure, Spider-Man 3 left a bad taste in a lot of fan's mouths, and a lot of people are quick to point the finger at director Sam Raimi. But it's not his fault Sony made him shoehorn Venom into a film that already had two villains.  He did the best he could with what he was given, and Sony decided to repay him by handing him a pink slip.

But let's not dwell too much on the past when there's plenty to criticize in the present.

Turning our attention to the trailer: what is this bullshit? The first thirty seconds is like a trailer for a lousy mystery/thriller. Little Peter Parker is all anxious because his parents are going someplace. "There's something your mom and I have to do," Daddy says. I know what you're thinking. It's the same thing I was thinking: Who gives a shit about Peter Parker's parents? They're a total non-issue in every regard. They play absolutely no role in anything. The formula has always been very simple: Uncle Ben = Dad, Aunt May = Mom. Peter Parker has never, until this film, had any problem with his parents being gone because his aunt and uncle essentially are his parents. You know what he does have a problem with? Uncle Ben getting blown away. That's the father figure he misses and pines for. Not his actual father. Besides, Peter's dad probably couldn't make rice like Uncle Ben.

You want to know the real reason why Peter's parents are featured so prominently in this trailer? The desire to draw comparisions between this film and another film about a boy losing his parents, living with his aunt and uncle, and getting all angsty about it.

They may have been trying to make Andrew Garfield look as much like Harry Potter as possible, but in the end he just looks like a hipsterprep douchebag. Peter Parker is a brilliant science geek. Peter Parker does not use hair product.

Speaking of looks, have you seen this new outfit? It's terrible. It looks like a cross between a childrens' ice cream bar and something you'd see at a BDSM club.

And what's this nonsense about trying to go young in this new series? I get it; at 36, Tobey Maguire was getting a little old to play Peter Parker. This new movie will give us Spider-Man in high school, which thye're trying to pass off as a new idea, ignoring the fact that Raimi's first Spider-Man (2002) starts off with Peter in high school. So, naturally, they hired a guy who's 27.

We get a scene of Peter eating dinner at Gwen Stacy's house. Denis Leary, who is apparently her father, would like to know a bit about the young man. Gwen answers for him: "Peter lives with his aunt and uncle." Who gives a shit? That's the worst possible answer. It says nothing about him. It's the kind of answer Gwen would give if she wanted her dad to hate Peter.

We're going to see Peter get bit by that spider again. Because if there's one thing people don't know about Peter Parker, it's how he becomes Spider-Man. It's a story we must tell again. Except in this version he gets bitten in what appears to be a laser tag arena. Why does this fancy science lab have its own area for laser tag? And why is a spider playing? Because this movie sucks.

In another effort to distance itself from the previous Spider-Man series, the middle of the trailer features some music that sounds exactly like the beginning of Danny Elfman's Spider-Man theme from the last three movies. Way to be original, assholes.

The trailer ends exactly how any trailer should: with a continous thirty second first-person perspective shot of Spider-Man jumping around like an idiot, rendered in mediocre CGI. What is this, a commercial for the poorly-done licensed tie-in video game?

One final thought: the trailer leaves me wondering a few things. Most important? WHO IS THE VILLAIN?! This is a superhero movie. Superhero movies need two things, a superhero and a supervillain. I get that Harry Potter is the superhero. Who's the goddamn villain?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Thing

On the long list of movies that don't need to be remade, The Thing is near the top. The story and acting are fantastic. The feeling of isolation, the distrust, the paranoia are elements most horror, thriller, or sci-fi directors would love to have in their films. The special effects, brought to us by Rob Bottin and the late, great Stan Winston, look amazing despite the fact that they're nearly thirty years old. Why, then, are we being subjected to a remake (excuse me, "prequel")? I imagine the conversation went something like this. "Hey, people might be vaguely familiar with the idea and/or name of this film! I bet that's worth some money right there!"

As a side note, John Carpenter seems to be the king of remakes. The Thing will be the fourth of his films to be remade, following The Fog, Assault On Precinct 13, and Halloween. There'll be a fifth, mark my words; they've been trying to figure out a way to redo Escape From New York (1981) for years.

Who has been charged with the task of fighting off the Thing in this new film? Who better than Ramona Flowers? Answer: just about anyone.

Yeah, she's got Thing killer written all over her. The idea of having a female protagonist is so mind-numbingly stupid it's borderline insane. Do you remember how many women were at Outpost 31 in the original? A grand total of zero. But in this age of political correctness, can you imagine the shitstorm the filmmakers would have to go through if they released a movie featuring a team of all-male researchers?

The halfassed reason given for why Ramona will be the main character is because the filmmakers didn't want to have to compete with the pure badassery of Kurt Russell's R.J. MacReady. That's understandable. MacReady is one of the smartest and toughest characters ever committed to celluloid. Instead, they wanted their protagonist to be more of an Ellen Ripley type. So instead of comparing and contrasting her to MacReady, they want us to compare her to the strongest female protagonist in the history of film. What a wonderful idea.

Judging by the trailer, Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character will not only be leading the forces in opposition to the Thing, she'll also figure out everything about the creature. So she's really some awkward combination of Ripley, MacReady, and Wilform Brimley's Dr. Blair, who did the figuring and calculating in the original. The guy who wrote this movie must've been sitting in front of his computer wearing a pair of Bad Idea jeans. The only way Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character should be able to make any kind of a dent in the Thing is if it takes the form of Michael Cera.

Possibly the biggest problem with this film is that they're claiming that, rather than a remake, it's a prequel focusing on what happened at the destroyed Norweigian base visted by MacReady and company near the beginning of the original film. Did you count how many characters in the trailer are speaking in a foreign language? Norweigian my ass.

Look at the sets. Familiar, no? They look an awful lot like all the sets from the original. The director says he used Carpenter's film as a guide for what the Norweigian base should look like, doing his damnedest to make them ring true. You know what Carpenter used for the Norweigian base? The American base after it was blown to hell. So, for all intents and purposes, this movie will be using the exact same sets.

In just two and a half minutes of trailer it can be presumed numerous sequences from the original movie will pop up in this new version. You know, like what happens in a remake. A dog is seen trying desperately to break free of its pen, probably in an effort to escape from the Thing. And since it's established that the creature must transform itself into a dog in order to be a dog at the start of Carpenter's film, it can be assumed that we'll be subjected to a similar but less-interesting dog pen transformation sequence.

We also get a shot of a computer readout explaining the process the Thing uses to destroy and imitate other lifeforms. If this is truly a prequel, it would have to look like it was made using 1982 computer technology. Fortunately, we know exactly what this technology looks like because it was already presented to us by Wilform Brimley in The Thing. Unfortunately, this new computer readout looks like it could've been on CSI last week. Prequel my ass.

Have you ever heard of a sequel or prequel using the same name the original movie? It almost never happens because, when trying to talk about or make reference to one of the movies, confusion would undoubtably occur. At least when Final Destination (2000) did it they added an article to the title to make in semi-different, thus giving us The Final Destination (2009). You know when an identical title is used? When remaking a movie. For example: Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2007); The Fog (1980) and The Fog (2005); Assault On Precinct 13 (1976) and Assault On Precinct 13 (2005). Another example: The Thing (1982) and The Thing (2011).

If you're remaking a movie one thing you may want to include is music from the original, especially if said music was particularly memorable. Like, for instance, the music from The Thing. Director Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. (what's up with this dude's name?) has brilliantly decided not to include Ennio Morricone's score from the original film. Of course, even if he had wanted to include it, it would be impossible seeing as Morricone's score doesn't exist except as background music for DVD releases of the original movie. He turned it in, Carpenter told him it sucked (which it does) and then rewrote it himself. Carpenter gave Morricone the credit on the film just because he's a nice guy.

This is what it's come down to. Hollywood won't even admit that their lousy remakes are lousy remakes. They've got to hide behind the term "prequel," hoping it will fool you into thinking the movie doesn't suck for a few moments longer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Trailer #2)

You know what's always a good idea? Trying to revive movie franchises from the 1960s. Especially when the original series included five films (with the original being the only good one), and when there's already been both a  failed remake/relaunch, Tim Burton's Marky Mark-infused Planet Of The Apes (2001) and a failed television series. Which brings to mind a question: is this a prequel to the original film, or the remake, or a relaunch of the series? I don't know! I'm a caveman, that's the way I think.

Just for poops and giggles, we can come up with some names for inevitable sequels for more Apes movies. Pizza Place Of The Planet Of The Apes? What Do They Have In The Zoos On The Planet Of The Apes? Are Monkeys Second-Class Citizens On The Planet Of The Apes? I Bet The Body Odor Is Pretty Bad On The Planet Of The Apes? I can go on forever, baby.

Moving on to the trailer, though, it's just awful. We've got James Franco running around -- it looks like he's grown back his other arm, though, so that's good -- talking to a boardroom of people about how he's developed some sciencey fluid that can make you faster, stronger, better, something like that, which we all know is going to be improperly formulated/wrongly used with disastrous results.  For some reason he keeps this development in sealed canisters that look like the ooze from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (1991).It's an original concept; that doesn't bring any other film to mind.

And the name of this miracle cure? Why, The Cure, a phrase which doesn't have any additional unwanted connotations whatsoever.

If there's one thing this movie's got going for it, it's John Lithgow, who loves Creedence and would like to see something really scary. Also, General Striker, who apparently hasn't learned his lesson from the first time he mixed science with animals.

It looks like a good chunk of the early parts of the film will be footage of monkeys doing un-monkey-like things. Such as reading books! Drawing with crayons! Spelling names (even though the monkey's name is Cesar, not Jacob. Maybe he's a big Twilight fan)! Normal monkeys cannot do these things. Which is why it's interesting.

As the film progresses, conflict will arise when the company supplying the monkey brain juice gets ornery over who owns the rights to the primates. So the monkey is RoboCop and the scientists are Omni Consumer Products. It's not an ordinary monkey; it's cyborgmonkey. It's their product. Also, in this analogy the viewer is still the viewer, but has been bilked out of $9.75 plus any money spent towards snacks and drinks.

Pay attention to the CGI used for the monkeys. Doesn't it look terrible? It just looks bad. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park looked more realistic and that CGI is eighteen years old. Also, dinosaurs are extinct. Why didn't they just get real monkeys? Monkeys can be trained. For a good example, watch Two And A Half Men.

I presume the ending of the film sees the monkeys growing increasingly pissed until they start a monkey uprising and begin hurling enormous wrenches at police cars. And according to the trailer, they will also all become Mighty Joe Young.

There were be a twist ending, though, when the monkeys somehow win. Because, really, you know what's a good way to put down a monkey uprising? Shoot the monkeys! They're monkeys! Just shoot them!