Showing posts with label Sequels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sequels. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Too Many Pixar Sequels?

Is Pixar, the animation company know for such instant classics as A Bug's Life, Ratatouille, and WALL*E, losing its creative edge by relying on too many sequels to previous hits?

No one can argue that the Toy Story trilogy wasn't brilliant, but did we really need Cars 2?

Monsters, Inc. was brilliant, but was the world crying out for Monsters University? (Technically, that was a prequel, but the same principle applies -- unnecessary rehashing of familiar tales instead of creating something brand new.)

Will audiences forget the uniqueness of Up and Brave if they are bombarded with the familiar as Pixar unleashes Finding Dory and eventually Cars 3? (The upcoming Planes is a spin-off and not directly made by Pixar, but I'll still count it, since it's part of the overall Disney family.)

Luckily, the studio is still producing new material that looks promising, such as Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, but they should be wary and not fall into the trap of seeking easy profits with retreads as a substitution for originality.

Having said all that, I'm still excited to see The Incredibles 2!  :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Review of Thor: The Dark World

Whatever its detractors might say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven to be an amazing achievement -- consider it a big-budget serial series with a new chapter hitting the big screen every few months.  Thor: The Dark World continues the saga as the Son of Odin battles once again to save all existence from the forces of...well, the antagonist and his motivations are only vaguely fleshed out, and that's one of the flaws of this and many of the other epic superhero movies as the saviors of the world duke it out with some macguffin (what Hitchcock described as anything used to drive the plot, even if it's not very fleshed out). Christopher Eccleston is buried under a ton of makeup as Malekith, a Dark Elf hellbent on returning the universe back to the dark void before creation, but that's about as much as we get in terms of motivation. He still does a decent enough job with the material, but he's overshadowed by the the special effects and by the other, more interesting villain, Loki, played to perfection once again by Tom Hiddleston.

I'm starting to feel numb to the special effects -- they were, for the most part, outstanding, but they hit me from the beginning as an overwhelming force with no subtlety. How many times can we see giants clashing and the earth torn asunder, beams of energy more devasting than hundreds of atomic explosions, and shapeless, shifting clouds of dangerous "something-or-other" (in this case called Aether), before I start feeling bored by it all? The best moments to me in all these superhero flicks have been the more intimate human moments -- Tony Stark battling his personal demons, Bruce Banner struggle to control his rage, Steve Rogers feeling conflicted about his patriotic duty, and in this case, Thor's relationships as the heir of Asgard with his father Odin, his stepbrother Loki, his mother Frigga, and the rest.


Thor's romantic relationship with Natalie Portman's character Jane Foster once again feels forced. His dynamic interaction with Sif (portrayed to perfection yet again by the stunning Jaime Alexander, who by the way would make an excellent Wonder Woman if DC ever decides to bring the Amazon heroine to the silver screen) is much more genuine and interesting. Jane Foster has some better moments this time around, but my attention rose more with the Asgard scenes (just as they did with the first film, with which Kenneth Branagh did a far better job directing than Alan Taylor does here, yet there were enough good moments in Thor: The Dark World to salvage an otherwise generic fantasy storyline).


Loki's subplot both steals and saves the show. At first I felt he was just pigeon-holed into the plot, since it felt like a stretch that Thor would approach his treacherous sibling for any assistance, but then (without giving away any big twists in the tale), it all makes sense and reaches a satisfying conclusion when we see how it unfolds. Some of the twists and turns were predictable, but others took me by pleasant surprise.


The cast all have their moments to shine -- Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig, Zachary Levi as Fandral, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, Tadanobu Asano as Hogun, Alice Krige as Eir, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Akbage as Algrim/Kurse. There are also a few clever little cameos that Marvel fans will enjoy.

Thor was always one of those characters I enjoyed in the comics and as a cartoon, but I never imagined they could do him justice in a live-action version, but Chris Hemsworth has proven me wrong, managing to make the god of thunder a believable figure -- as believable as any of these mega-powered Avengers and their infinitely-threatening ultra-villains can be.  Hemsworth delivers his lines and plays the action scenes with a terrific blend of gravitas and tongue-in-cheek good humor.

He deserves more -- and that doesn't mean higher stakes (after all, one can't go much higher than saving life throughout the entire multi-realms of time and space) it just means more focused and clearly defined stakes, some that showcase the humanity of these characters.  Even though they are near-invulnerable with the ability to alter perceptions of reality, they are also metaphors for universal truths about ourselves, they are the myths of our contemporary culture, as many have stated, which explains why multitudes still flock to these adventures of comic book inspired good versus evil, of almighty saviors defending us from destruction.

There's plenty to enjoy in Thor: The Dark World, and hints at more epic mayhem to come, but I hope they don't lose me with all the computer-generated bells-and-whistles that often bury the more intriguing human characterization (even among the superhuman) -- it's those latter scenes that make us interested when the world erupts in apocalyptic demolition. Without them, it's all just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jurassic World GIFs

Jurassic Park IV is officially coming, and the title will be Jurassic World.  Here are some animated gif images to celebrate the return of the dinosaurs.


Who's looking at you, kid?


Uh, oh.


There's no place to hide!


And we're not kidding, no place!


JURASSIC WORLD! Coming to theaters on June 12, 2015!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Guest Post: The Ultimate Rocky Quiz

Rocky Balboa fans were thrilled to learn that the greatest pugilistic franchise in cinema history will continue with Creed, a spinoff about the grandson of Rocky's nemesis-turned-ally Apollo (who was killed in the ring by the Soviet tool Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.) Sylvester Stallone has done a fine job of keeping the series going for all these years. There's even a Rocky Broadway musical in the works! Stallone will likely appear in the movie, no longer fighting, but now training Creed's grandson, who will be played by the talented young actor Michael B. Jordan.  Piggy-backing on this great news, my friend Robert submitted this list of trivia questions about the Italian Stallion and his movie legacy.  How many can you answer?

-------------------------

The Ultimate Rocky Quiz
by Robert

Hello, all! As you may know, today, it was announced that MGM has offered Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler the chance to direct a spinoff of Rocky. The film (Creed) will focus on a man following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Apollo Creed, and getting a mentor in the now-retired Rocky Balboa. Michael B. Jordan has been offered the role of Creed's grandson, and Stallone will reprise his character of Rocky, in a script co-written by Coogler and Aaron Covington.


With that said, how well do you know the Rocky series? Why not take this quiz and find out?

1. Who were the only three actors to appear in all six Rocky movies?
Note: Flashback scenes do not count.

2. Complete the phrase, "If you wanna dance, you gotta pay the band, if you wanna borrow, _________."

3. What was the classic Easter Egg in Rocky III?

4. In how many movies did Sylvester Stallone's real-life son appear?

5. What do Rocky III, IV, and Rocky Balboa all have in common?

6. What does Rocky's license plate spell in Rocky IV?

7. Match the boxer with the movie in which he starred:
A. Roberto Duran         a. Rocky I
B. Joe Frazier               b. Rocky V
C. Tommy Morrison     c. Rocky II

8. In which city did the final fight of Rocky IV really take place?
Hint: It is not any city in Russia.


9. The fight between Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa was based on real-life boxers Muhammad Ali and _____________________.

10. Who was the first person Rocky Balboa fought?
11. Which character said, "Whatever he hits, he destroys?"
12. Which character sang, "You must find out who you are?"
13. What is Adrian's maiden name?
14. What is Mickie's last name?
15. What was the name of Adrian's boss at the pet store?
16. Which vegetable does Mickie call Rocky in an unflattering fashion?
17. How much was Rocky paid for the first fight with Apollo Creed?
18. The night before the first fight, Rocky visits the site of the upcoming bout. He sees a poster of himself with something wrong in it. What is it?
19. What are the final three words that Rocky says in the first movie?
20. What was the name of the candy bar named after Rocky?
21. What type of arcade machine did Paulie destroy?

22. In which ear is Mickey's hearing aid for Rocky III? [right or left]
23. Clubber Lang described Rocky Balboa as a ___________ champion.
24. When asked what his prediction was, Clubber's response was ____________!
25. During the fight, Drago compared Rocky to what kind of metal?

----------------------------   Good luck!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Most Disappointing Sequels

Despite what many people think, sequels aren't always bad.  Sometimes (although it's rare), they might even be better than the original.  Those are topics for another day -- now it's time to feed the cliche that sequels are the dregs of cinema. Here are the worst of the worst.  Sure, there may have been worse films in movie history, but these became infamous for ruining an otherwise beloved franchise or failing in miserable fashion to equal the greatness of the original.  I didn't count prequels, so that's why the first three Star Wars episodes (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith) aren't on the list.

Alien3 - Both Ridley Scott's original and James Cameron's followup were classics of science fiction horror. David Fincher killed the momentum in one fell swoop. Looking back on it now, it actually has many redeeming qualities, but it still managed to annoy fans and turn off newcomers right from the beginning.

Back to the Future Part III - Personally, I actually enjoyed many scenes from this flick more than I did most of Part II, but setting it in the Old West was a bad choice, abandoning the nostalgia of the first and the futuristic wonder of the second, creating a big disconnect from the rest of the trilogy.

Batman and Robin - All of the Batman movies up until that point had their flaws, but this one totally demolished the franchise critically and at the box office (until Christopher Nolan saved the day by reviving the hero in his Dark Knight trilogy). Joel Schumacher's previous batflick Batman Forever seemed like Citizen Kane compared to this bomb (okay, that's a huge stretch, nothing can make Batman Forever seem like Citizen Kane, but I hope you see my point, Batman and Robin was one of the biggest letdowns in motion picture history.)

Blues Brothers II - The original with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd was one of my favorites of all time. The long delayed sequel was horrible and should have never been made if they couldn't do it right.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 -- This was nothing at all like the original, which became one of the most profitable movies ever produced. The Blair Witch Project was unique and started a subgenre of faux "found footage" films, but the sequel was just a derivative mess.

Chronicles of Riddick - Pitch Black was a wonderful surprise, a tight, suspenseful, thought-provoking, well-produced little gem. Like so many others, I wanted to see more of Vin Diesel's character, but the sequel was underwhelming. A new chapter is hitting theaters this year so let's hope it's an improvement.

Escape from L.A. - John Carpenter's Escape from New York is rightfully one of the best cult movies of all time from start to finish.  This sequel was an abomination.  I want to erase the vision out of my mind of the anti-hero Snake Plissken surfing.

Exorcist II: The Heretic - The original is fantastic, one of my top ten favorites. The sequel, not so much.  Actually, Exorcist II is probably one of my least liked motion pictures ever captured on celluloid. 

The Godfather Part III - It's tough to live up to the expectations of the first two films, each of which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards (yes, even the sequel won Best Picture). This third part was disappointing on many levels with a number of flaws that made me wish Francis Ford Coppola would just pretend Part III never happened and try again.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch - The first two flicks were about the murderous Michael Myers, so you knew this would be a chore since Myers only had a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo on a TV monitor in one scene.

Hannibal - One of my favorite horror films is Silence of the Lambs and this continuation of the story was a weak attempt to stretch out the franchise (which is still being stretched).

Highlander II: The Quickening - How do you build on the success of a cult classic sleeper hit? Not by turning the plot into some convoluted mish-mosh.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - The long wait for the fourth episode in the Indiana Jones adventures was a huge let down.  It also coined the phrase "nuke the fridge," which is the move version of TV's "jump the shark" when a series hits the point of no return.

Matrix Reloaded - The first film was a true favorite, a groundbreaking sci-fi masterpiece. The sequel was a big, fat dud.

Ocean's Twelve - I confess, I never saw this sequel, but so many people named it as "disappointing" that I had to add it to my list.

Rambo: First Blood Part II - Sylvester Stallone turned his poignant John Rambo character into a caricature.

Rocky V - So many people name the third film as disappointed, but Rocky III still remains one of my all-time guilty favorites. The Rocky flick that I found to be the most disappointing was part five. The heart was in the right place, but the execution never lived up to my expectations.  The story was ho-hum and everything felt anti-climactic.

Speed 2: Cruise Control - The original made Sandra Bullock a superstar and turned Keanu Reeves into an action top-liner. The sequel is a forgetable snoozefest.

Spider-man 3 - Sam Raimi did so well with the first two Webslinger superhero movies. Then the studio interfered and forced him to add the villain Venom into this third part, and the result was a bloated jumbled disaster, leading to a quick reboot.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - The very first Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a boring disappointment, but then I really enjoyed the next three movies, which have been dubbed "The Spock Trilogy." Then came Part V, terrible on so many levels.

Superman III - The first two Superman movies are beloved, the third one is laughable in all the wrong ways.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines - Although I love Kristanna Loken, this third film failed to recapture the heart and imagination of the first two.

X-Men: The Last Stand - Bryan Singer delivered two excellent motion pictures, but then Brett Ratner took over and killed off a couple of the fan-favorite characters, not to mention delivering a mediocre story.

Those are the biggest sequel disappointments in my eyes.  What do you think?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

More Sequels and Remakes

When I posted an essay on sequels, prequels, remakes, and adaptations, it sparked some interesting feedback. Hollywood continues to turn to itself for inspiration, afraid of investing in anything truly new (unless someone else does it first and succeeds, and then it isn't afraid to rip it off, but then of course it isn't new any more, is it?). As much as we badmouth the lack of originality, sometimes sequels or remakes surpass their predecessors. Hey, it's rare, but it happens. The movie industry is probably churning out more sequels and remakes than ever.  Here's a list of what's in the works.


REMAKES

Akira
Annie
Carrie
Child's Play
The Crow
Death Note
Dune
The Evil Dead
Excalibur
Fantastic Four
Frankenstein
Ghost in the Shell
Godzilla
The Great Gatsby
Highlander
Jack Ryan
Jumanji
The Lone Ranger
Mortal Kombat
Oldboy
Rebecca
RoboCop
Scarface
Short Circuit
A Star Is Born
Man of Steel (Superman)
Suspiria
Tarzan
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Thin Man
Tomb Raider
The Warriors


SEQUELS

300: Rise of an Empire
Alice in Wonderland 2
The Amazing Spider-man 2
The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes
Anchorman: The Legend Continues
Avatar 2
The Avengers 2
Beetlejuice 2
Before Midnight
The Best Man Holiday
Bill and Ted 3
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Despicable Me 2
Disney's Planes
Fast and Furious 6
Ghostbusters 3
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Grown Ups 2
The Hangover Part III
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Hotel Transylvania 2
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Insidious Chapter 2
Iron Man 3
James Bond 24
Jurassic Park 4
Kick-Ass 2
Machete Kills
Monsters University
The Muppets Again
Night at the Museum 3
Oz the Great and Powerful 2
Paranormal Activity 5
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Pirates of the Caribbean 5
Prometheus 2
Red 2
Riddick 3
The Ring 3D
Rio 2
Scary Movie 5
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
The Smurfs 2
Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Wars: Episode VII
Thor: The Dark World
Transformers 4
Tron 3
V/H/S 2
The Wolverine
X-Men: Days of Future Past

The scary part is that this isn't even a comprehensive list! There are plenty of sequel and remake projects that I haven't included. Are there any specific ones coming up that have grabbed your interest, but I failed to mention them? If so, let me know.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Polls About Sequels and Spring

Another City of Kik poll has concluded.  I asked which movie sequel are you most excited to see in 2013 and you all responded. 

The winner is Star Trek Into Darkness with 58% of the vote!

In second place was Thor: The Dark World.

Tied for thrid place were The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Iron Man 3.

Coming in fourth was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Creeping up in fifth place was The Wolverine.

Tied for a distant sixth were Despicable Me 2 and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

There was a three-way tie for seventh place, each barely earning 1% of the vote: G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Kick-Ass 2, and surprisingly Monsters University.

In dead last, with no votes at all, was A Good Day to Die Hard. (No surprise then that it failed at the box office.)

My new poll is open now.  The question is: "What do you love most about Spring?"  Vote and share your thoughts in this post's comment section.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Sequels


We often equate sequels with movies, but the publishing industry earns a lot of its revenue from tried and true series, rather than the gamble of completely original material. Readers are usually eager to come back for more stories featuring familiar characters, continuing the plots from previous novels. Here are a few sequel tomes in the fantasy and science fiction genres, out now or coming our way on the not too distant horizon.


Dead Ever After by Charlain Harris
"The Southern Vampire Mysteries" are the inspiration for HBO's popular True Blood television series, and allegedly this will be the final volume, scheduled to be released in May 7, 2013. Will this truly be the last time Harris writes about Sookie Stackhouse and her other characters? I highly doubt it, but that's what she's saying.


Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz
If you've never read the "Odd Thomas" books, you're missing out on an entertaining series of thrillers about a clairvoyant short-order cook who battles evil forces. Hollywood is turning it into a major motion picture, directed by Stephen Sommers who gave us The Mummy, with Anton Yelchin of Star Trek and other films as Thomas and Willem Dafoe also in the cast. In this latest story by the incredibly prolific Koontz, his beloved character tries to prevent an impending homicide from happening. The publication date is May 28, 2013.


Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
The eagerly anticipated sequel to The Shining, one of King's greatest works, is scheduled to arrive in September 24, 2013. We will see the further adventures of Dan Torrance, the supernaturally gifted young boy from the original who is now a middle-aged man as he encounters an equally empowered young girl, facing a threat from near-immortal beings. King has a habit of blending his literary universes, so don't be surprised if he sprinkles in a few references and possibly cameos from his other books as well.


Ever After by Kim Harrison
There have been ten books in Harrison's bestselling "The Hollows" saga, following the magical mysteries of Rachel Morgan, a detective who also happens to be a witch. This 11th book offers more of the same (which should make fans very happy), available on January 22, 2013
.

Homeland by Cory Doctorow
Here's a sequel to Doctorow's science fiction hit, Little Brother, about young people using technology to oppose their tyrannical state. In this follow-up, published on February 5, 2013, there's more political intrigue and edge-of-your-seat suspense. Whereas the first book looked at terrorism, this one seems to examine Wikileaks-style subterfuge.


Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey
The "Sandman Slim" paranormal fantasy series has attracted many readers to its tale of a man who escapes from Hell to seek revenge on the people who murdered his lover. The books are full of vampires, demons, and other supernatural elements. This latest tale comes out July 30, 2013.


The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Pratchett and Baxter, two great fantasy and science fiction writers, teamed up to give us The Long Earth, a story about multiple dimensions. This sequel continues a generation after they left off, as mankind has populated the different Earths, and all the ramifications that implies. Pick up a copy when it's released on July 23, 2013.


A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Even though Robert Jordan passed away in 2007, his "Wheel of Time" fantasy epic has lived on.  Sanderson is an excellent writer who takes Jordan's work and finishes it the way it was intended. These are apparently the final scenes that will wrap everything up. Sanderson took Jordan's notes and came up with this well-received trilogy, with this last volume the final piece in the beloved, mythological saga. The book came out this week, so it's available now!


Tears in Rain by Rosa Montero
This might be a cheat, since it's not technically a sequel, but it's an homage to the world created by Philip K. Dick in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The title itself is a reference to a line in the movie adaptation Blade Runner. Fans of both will surely enjoy this future-noir adventure as a replicant detective named Bruna Husky tries to uncover the causes for a string of deaths and find meaning and purpose to her limited time "alive" before her android-lifespan expires. Originally written in Spanish, this English translation has been available since November 27, 2012.


The Twelve by Justin Cronin
I had a mixed reaction to Cronin's vampire post-apocalyptic novel The Passage. Can he build on the strengths and eliminate the flaws as he continues the tale in this sequel? Many critics continue to praise his writing and he has one more volume coming out after this one to complete the trilogy, so read it and judge for yourself. It was release last October 16, 2012, and has proven to be another topseller.

My goodness, there are so many more, I've barely scratched the surface.  I might have to write a sequel essay to mention some others. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Redemption of Director Bryan Singer?

Director Bryan Singer is set to helm X-Men: Days of Future Past. It will mark his return to the X-Men franchise and hopefully a redemption of his geek cred after the disappointment of Superman Returns

Singer has always been one of my favorite filmmakers. His early movies, The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil, were impressive, and he helped launch the current superhero movie golden age with his critically acclaimed blockbusters X-Men and its sequel X2. He also produced and directed a few episodes of the popular television series House MD

He abandoned the X-Men series to try to relaunch Superman.  The result, while not a complete disaster, was a letdown. In his place, Brett Ratner delivered X-Men: The Last Stand, Gavin Hood directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Matthew Vaughn spearheaded the surprisingly excellent X-Men: First Class.

During that time, Singer has given us the Tom Cruise motion picture Valkyrie and the Web series H+, as well as the recent lackluster Munsters remake Mockingbird Lane

Now, Singer has his chance for cinematic glory oce again.  Coming soon will be his fairytale action flick Jack the Giant Slayer and now his return to X-Men. Allegedly based on the comic book storyline of the same title, this latest chapter in the big screen adventures of the worlds greatest mutant heroes and villains could show an amazing alternate future that would turn the franchise on its ear. 

Singer had dabbled with rebooting Battlestar Galactica and other projects.  It will be interesting to see him return to the movie characters that helped take him to the upper tier of Hollywood directors.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anticipating the Sequel to The Shining

Stephen King's sequel to The Shining (arguably his greatest novel) is set to be published next year (September 24, 2013, to be exact), but the anticipation is already building. Titled Doctor Sleep, it follows the grown-up Danny Torrance, using his powers to help people in a nursing home, when he finds himself in a war between good and evil as spooky near-immortals are hunting down kids gifted with "the shining."

The plot, described on King's Web site, makes it seem much more epic, closer to The Stand than to the original Shining, one of my favorite stories, which was set in the haunted Overlook Hotel.  The book, as well as its film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick, was an intense and intimate psychological thriller, while the synopsis of Doctor Sleep seems much more like an action-packed, supernatural jamboree. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we shall have to wait and see if this is a worthy uccessor to one of King's most seminal works. 

No doubt, a movie version will quickly follow. If nothing else, I hope there's a Jack Nicholson cameo as Jack Torrance.  That's the great thing about ghost stories -- dead characters are never gone for good.

Monday, August 13, 2012

In the Age of Reboots, What Is Left Undone?

We know that Hollywood has always depended on remakes and adaptations to feed its production line, but lately it seems like overkill. There no longer is a generational wait to revamp a popular title -- Spider-man only needed a few years before they started from scratch again. Now more reboots are on the way.  Vince Vaughn is bringing back The Brady Bunch for CBS and Universal Pictures is making another Little Rascals movie.

Unlike the super-campy last few Brady Bunch movies, the new TV series will allegedly be a continuation of the original beloved sitcom. The youngest Brady sibling, Bobby, all grown up and divorced, will re-marry and create an extended family of his own.

The Little Rascals redux will be more in line with the lackluster movie instead of the original black-and-white shorts, but maybe it will surprise me. Directed by Alex Zamm, who brought us the Carrot Top movie Chairman of the Board and some direct-to-DVD sequels of Inspector Gadget, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and Tooth Fairy, I don't blame anyone who sets their expectations low.

My friend Debbie posted a great essay on her blog rightfully stating that not all reboots are necessarily bad, and I confess I'm eager to see the upcoming new Godzilla and the Superman restart The Man of Steel.  Reboots of Bionic Woman and Charlie's Angels were just some of a long stream of failures, but then the remakes of Battlestar Galactica and the recent relaunch of Dallas were undeniable successes, so I hold out hope that the Munsters re-imagining Mockingbird Lane might work. If not, they'll just tap into the same well again until they get it right.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Who Needs Comic-Con More - Superman or the Hobbit?

Comic-Con 2012, the world's largest and most buzzworthy convention of genre entertainment, takes place in San Diego next week (July 12-15, 2012, with Preview Night on July 11). Comic book publishers, Hollywood movie studios, production companies, video game developers, and a wide range of other industry professionals will be on hand to reach the fans who will be there in person and those around the world who will be hearing any news that stems from Convention Center during those busy days and nights. Two upcoming movies in particular will be looking to make a big splash -- the Superman reboot Man of Steel and the Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Both are presumed to be blockbuster hits, but they each have their challenges to overcome. After the disappointment of Green Lantern and the conclusion of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy with this summer's Dark Knight Rises, DC Entertainment desperately needs Man of Steel to revitalize its superhero franchise in the face of Marvel Entertainment's competition.  Warner Bros. failed to reboot the franchise with Superman Returns, which featured many familiar elements from the Christopher Reeve movie series, so now the director Zack Snyder is taking a bigger gamble by truly reimagining the hero from planet Krypton. Will audiences embrace the new vision, or will this be another setback to an eventual and long in development Justice League film that unites DC's all-stars as The Avengers did for Marvel?

The Hobbit might be a larger risk. It's been almost a decade since Peter Jackson's ambitious adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary masterpiece. Although that trilogy was an enormous box-office and critical success, can lightning be captured in a bottle again? If Man of Steel doesn't live up to expectations, they can just start from scratch again, but the Hobbit story has been split into two back-to-back motion pictures and has Part Two, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, on the horizon no matter what. Of course, I was skeptical when Jackson shot the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back-to-back, and he proved me wrong by making it work above all expectations, but can he do it again?

Jackson is taking an enormous gamble by shooting The Hobbit at 48 frames per second instead of the traditional 24 fps. Some who have seen advance footage claim that the result is jarring and doesn't feel "cinematic." Jackson countered that the preview scenes hadn't gone through the full post-production yet. Will this be a revolutionary new step in the evolution of cinema or will it be another gimmick, comparable to Hollywood's attempt to shove 3-D down audiences' throats? Will 48 fps make movies look even more realistic or just more distracting?

Who will win the early publicity contest at Comic-Con? Which film has more on the line? Will it matter either way? Or does another property need Comic-Con's help moreso than Man of Steel and The Hobbit?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Movies That Deserve a Sequel

Entertainment Weekly had a cool little article about movies that were produced full of potential to become huge franchises, but plans for sequels fizzled with their miniscule box-office performance.  It lists Dune, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Eragon, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Green Lantern, Godzilla, The Golden Compass, etc. My rambling mind started thinking about movies that I think actually deserved to have their stories continue in additional movies, but never did.

I already wrote about specific sequels I would like to see, but here are some more fun films (a dirty dozen in fact) that I wish might spark some additional adventures for their characters.

Daredevil - It was far from perfect, but I think this much-maligned Marvel superhero adaptation had some nice moments and laid the groundwork for more chapters in the tale of the man without fear, blind attorney by day and masked vigilante who defended Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen by night.  I'd like to see to them try again, with or without Ben Affleck in the lead.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial - There have been rumors that Steven Spielberg has contemplated bringing a new episode in his classic blockbuster to the big screen. I don't know how he would do it, but the idea is intriguing.

Galaxy Quest - Lesser comedies have sparked worthless sequels, so why not more of this outstanding, funny, and yes, endearing spoof of Star Trek?  It didn't just play for cheap, easy laughs, mocking geeky fandom, it had heart. It was Tim Allen's funniest movie by far.  Rather than another The Santa Clause, I'd like to see another Galaxy Quest.

The Goonies - We keep hearing that maybe, possibly, someday we might see the gang reunited for another great adventure.  I won't hold my breath, but I'll still keep my fingers crossed.

Inception - Christopher Nolan gave us an amazing new world that's ripe for more stories.  Hopefully, we'll have the chance to see them.

Independence Day - Again, a sequel to this huge hit is a no-brainer, which means we'll eventually see it, but I'm surprised it's taking so long.

The Mask of Zorro - Here was a fantastic action-adventure flick with terrific performances by Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and it set it up for more of the same -- bring it on.  (Wait, they already made a sequel to this called The Legend of Zorro?  Impossible. It must have been so bad, let's just forget about it and try a real sequel, okay?) 

Pulp Fiction - Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece is perfect fodder for more stories.  I want to see what happens next to Jules. Samuel L. Jackson make a bazillion movies a year, I'm sure he'd find the time to do this.

Serenity - Fans of Firefly can't stop talking about how much they miss that show and how great the movie version was, they should make another film to convince the general public how great it actually is.

The Sixth Sense - What happened to little Cole Sear, the boy who could see dead people?  Actually, what happened to child actor Haley Joel Osment?  Make a sequel and explore the possibilities.

Time Bandits - It's an atrocity that this brilliant motion picture never inspired further sequels.

The Truman Show - Another fine, underrated film, Jim Carrey should jump back into this character's shoes as we see more of this future world that's not too far-fetched from our own.

Unbreakable - M. Night Shyamalan's career path has been disappointing, but this was another one of his better films -- a realistic look at the fantasy world of superheroes and supervillains.  I wanted to see more, but instead we were given lesser films like Lady in the Water and The Happening.

It took decades for Tron to continue its tale, so I hold out hope to see the continuation of all of the above some day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Future of The X-Files

The X-Files was one of the best television series of the 1990s, but its two movie adaptations (The X-Files: Fight the Future in 1998 and The X-Files: I Want to Believe in 2008) were lackluster and forgettable.  Apparently, 20th Century Fox hasn't given up on the franchise and is planning yet another film.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, actress Gillian Anderson, who will forever be remembered as Agent Scully, said of a third motion picture featuring the FBI investigators who confront paranormal cases, "I hope it will happen. There's talk of it. I don't know who's writing it, but I hear there's something going on."

The previous motion pictures had a few moments of goodness, but failed to capture the thrills and chills of the original series. Maybe the third time will be the charm. I would like to see Anderson reunite once again with David Duchovny who immortalized the great Agent Mulder, and the rest of the crew, Mitch Pileggi as Skinner, William B. Davis as Cigarette-Smoking Man, Steven Williams as Mr. X, Nicholas Lea as Alex Krycek, Annabeth Gish as Monica Reyes, and even Robert Patrick as Agent Doggett. Cameos by the Lone Gunmen and other beloved characters from the TV series would be welcome too.

Something else that Anderson said gave me pause: "I've always wanted to do a spoof of The X-Files as a film.  We talked about that for a long time, but maybe after three features we could do a spoof feature." 

The X-Files have already been spoofed plenty of times (The Simpsons episode is the greatest example), so if the franchise continues, I would hope to see a serious attempt at a decent story first.  They can have humor, which some of the TV show's best episodes certainly did, but the writers should tackle some thought-provoking subjects first before throwing in the towel and mocking the original.

The premise of The X-Files seems to be as timely as ever.  The idea of skepticism in a world full of paranoia and conspiracy theories seems to be ripe with storytelling possibilities.  If they want to milk the franchise for all it's worth, they should try to translate what worked so well on the small screen first, instead of giving up.  The Truth is still out there.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Upcoming Remakes, Sequels, and Adaptations

Hollywood doesn't like to take risks.  Although original screenplays are still turned in motion pictures, it seems as if the bulk of movies churned out by Tinseltown are based on a pre-existing idea.  The mantra of show business honchos is "Why take a chance on an unknown quantity when we can make a film out of a proven story?"  Many have criticized Hollywood's lack of originality, but it should be noted that some of the most successful and critically acclaimed movies in film history have been based on an established property, whether it was an adaptation like Gone with the Wind or a sequel like The Godfather Part II or a remake like The Fugitive.  During the upcoming new year, we will be bombarded with the usual derivative projects.  Here's a quick look:

Remakes


The Green Hornet - Based on the 1960s television series starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee, the new long-in-development film version stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou as superheroes fighting crime by pretending to be criminals.

The Mechanic - Action star Jason Statham plays hitman Arthur Bishop, a character played in the original 1972 version by Charles Bronson.
Jane Eyre - Technically, this is an adaptation, but so many versions have already been made of the Charlotte Bronte novel that I'm lumping this with the remakes.  This new film stars Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska as the mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer who is hiding a dark secret.

Arthur - I doubt Russell Brand will do justice to the role originated by Dudley Moore of the drunken playboy trying to keep his family inheritance, but it might be fun to watch Helen Mirren reprise the role made famous by John Gielgud in the 1981 original.

Rise of the Apes - Will this re-imagined version of the Planet of the Apes be as good as the original five movies, or as campy fun as the live-action television series or the cartoon, or as critically derided as Tim Burton's 2001 remake?  This new take, starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, and others, will try to restart the franchise.

Winnie the Pooh - Yes, this is an adaptation of some of A.A. Milne's classic children's stories, which have already been translated to cartoon form before.  It retells the adventures of Winnie, Owl, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and and Christopher Robin in traditional animation.  John Cleese, Craig Ferguson, and others provide the voice talent.
Captain America: The First Avenger - This hopefully will be the definitive version of Marvel's comic book superhero, starring Chris Evans, with Hugo Weaving as the villainous Red Skull.  Others in the cast include Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones.  It certainly won't be as bad as the 1970s TV movies starring Reb Brown or the piece of crap 1990 version starring Matt Salinger.

The Smurfs - I cannot believe they are making a movie out of the 1980s cartoon, but they are.  It will be a blend of CGI animation and live action, and it will be in 3-D.  It stars Neil Patrick Harris and the voices of Katy Perry, Alan Cumming, Hank Azaria, Paul Reubens, George Lopez, Jonathan Winters, Fred Armisen, and others, and it will unfortunately probably be a big hit.

Fright Night - Colin Farrell and David Tennant star in this remake of the 1985 cult classic that featured beloved actor Roddy McDowall.

Conan the Barbarian - Can anyone do justice to Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction character after Arnold Schwarzenegger immortalized the role in three films?  Jason Momoa will take a stab at it, aided by his co-stars Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, and others.
Straw Dogs - Sam Peckinah directed the 1971 original, which starred Dustin Hoffman, and this new update features Kate Bosworth and James Marsden, alongside Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods, and others.
Footloose - Why remake the Kevin Bacon 1984 original about a town that bans dancing and rock music?  Because Hollywood is starving for ideas, and if it worked once, why not again?

The Three Musketeers - Here is yet another remake of Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling, heroic classic.  This time around, the cast includes Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich.

Sequels or Prequels


Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle - It may not have reached mainstream success, but this violent martial arts action series continues to draw fans.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son - Martin Lawrence once again dons a dress for some laughs.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules - The books by Jenny Kinney are great, but why they chose to turn them into a live action film instead of a cartoon is beyond me.  I thought the original flopped but apparently it did well enough to warrent this sequel, an adaptation of Book 2 in the ongoing series.

Scream 4 - After a multi-year hiatus, Wes Craven continues his landmark franchise that redefined the horror genre. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette reprise their original roles and are joined by Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, and others.
Madea’s Big Happy Family - Tyler Perry continues his popular dramedy series.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - People still like pirates, I suppose.  Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, with Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa.  Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, and Ian McShane also star.

The Hangover Part II - The surprise hit of last year spawns an inevitable sequel.  And guess what?  Bill Clinton has a cameo.

Kung Fu Panda 2 - Jack Black is back as the voice of Po.  Others who lend their vocal skills in this sequel cartoon are Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Liu, James Woods, Michelle Yeoh, and others.

X-Men: First Class - The X-Men franchise takes us back to the early days of Marvel's mutant superhero team in this prequel with January Jones as Emma Frost, James McAvoy as Professor X, and younger versions of Magneto, Beast, Mystique, and the rest.

Cars 2 - Don't hate Pixar for doing sequels -- they've done an amazing job so far with the Toy Story franchise.  Let's see if they can do the same with Cars.  Listen for the voices of Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Michael Keaton, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Tony Shalhoub, Joe Mantegna, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, and more.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - No Megan Fox in this third film that chronicles the war between the giant Autobots and the evil Decepticons.  Will that keep any fanboys away?  As long as director Michael Bay keeps dishing out the robotic special effects (in 3-D this time), I doubt it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - The final Harry Potter movie -- ever?  Well, unless J.K. Rowling writes another book or Hollywood can convince her to let them make more movies, the answer is, "Yes."

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World - Director Robert Rodriguez returns to his family friendly espionage series.

Final Destination 5 - The little horror franchise that could continues with its fifth installment as more helpless young people try to escape Death.

Johnny English Reborn - Most Americans might not know Johnny English, but Rowan Atkinson's character is huge overseas.

Paranormal Activity 3 - The first two low-budget horror flicks were big hits, so here comes number three.

Adaptations


Barney’s Version - Actor Paul Giamatti stars in this adaptation of Mordechai Richler’s novel.

The Way Back - Collin Farrell stars in this film version of Slavomir Rawicz’s novel The Long Walk.

The Rite - Allegedly, this tale of an exorcist, starring Anthony Hopkins, is based on a true story.

Sanctum - This underwater adventure apparently has some basis in fact, inspired in part by a true story.

From Prada to Nada - This is a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility.

Gnomeo and Juliet - Inspired or silly?  William Shakespeare's classic about star-crossed lovers gets the animated gnome treatment.

I am Number Four - The novel written by Pittacus Lore is quite good.  Let's hope the movie version can recapture its action and suspense.

The Adjustment Bureau - I usually like adaptations of Philip K. Dick tales.  Let's hope this one, based on his short story "The Adjustment Team," isn't a disappointment.  It stars Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Terrence Stamp.

Red Riding Hood - Director Catherine Hardwicke re-imagines the classic fairy tale as a teen werewolf romance and tries to attract the Twilight crowd.

Mars Needs Moms - This CGI movie, starring Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Billy Dee Williams, and others, is based on a book by Berkeley Breathed.

Limitless - Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, and the rest of the cast bring Alan Glynn’s novel to life.

The Lincoln Lawyer - Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, John Leguizamo, Josh Lucas, and William H. Macy star in this drama based on a Michael Connelly novel.

Beastly - Another fairy tale, this time Beauty and the Beast, is updated for a modern teen audience.

Soul Surfer - Based on the autobiography of Bethany Hamilton, this is the dramatization of the true story of the young surfer girl who survived the loss of an arm in a shark attack.

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel is adapted for the screen, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

Thor - Kenneth Branagh brings the Marvel superhero and all the other characters of Asgard to life.

Priest - Another comic book adaptation, this stars Paul Bettany as a priest who disobeys Church orders and goes out hunting for vampires who kidnapped his niece.  Yes, it's another vampire tale, but hopefully it's as good as the comic.

Green Lantern - Can DC Entertainment manage to make a good movie based on one of its superhero franchises that isn't Superman or Batman?  This will be the test.  It stars Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, the man who becomes Earth's protector after inheriting a ring with enormous power from a dying alien.
Monte Carlo - Based on the Jules Bass novel Headhunters, this adaptation stars Leighton Meester and Selena Gomez.

Cowboys & Aliens - This eagerly awaited comic book adaptation mixes Westerns with Science Fiction.  Directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

The Help - My wife loves the novel by Kathryn Stockett, so let's see how good the movie version is.  Emma Stone plays the lead.

Moneyball - The non-fiction baseball business book by Michael Lewis gets turned into a major motion picture, starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robyn Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Dibbuk Box - Okay, this movie about a box that holds a curse is allegedly based on a true story.  What?  See it to believe it.

Which of these will be great and make us forgive Hollywood for retelling old tales instead of coming up with something new?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Neverending Oz

Drew Barrymore will direct a sequel to The Wizard of Oz called Surrender Dorothy.  This is one of many projects based on the L. Frank Baum classic.  There was talk of a sequel starring Dakota Fanning and another Oz film starring Robert Downey, Jr.  There have been countless versions of the Oz story in development, from the musical Wicked to adaptations based on creative concepts by Tim Burton and Todd McFarlane. 

There have already been many films, cartoons, and television versions of the Oz tale.  Before the 1938 masterpiece starring Judy Garland, there were a number of adaptations -- silent movies and animated shorts.  There have been numerous other versions since then, including The Wiz, Tin Man, Return to Oz, and the under-rated cartoon sequel Journey Back to Oz with the voice talents of Liza Minelli, Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney, Paul Lynde, Danny Thomas, and Margaret Hamilton.  There have been some interesting comic book adaptations like Dark Oz and Oz Squad.  L. Frank Baum's original 13 sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are all now in the public domain, so expect even more versions to hit us from all media in the years to come. 

Surrender Dorothy tells the story of a descendant of the Oz heroine who returns to that magical realm to stop a war that threatens both Oz and Earth.  Drew Barrymore has proven to be a savvy actress, producer, and director, so if anyone can do the tale justice it's her. 

Is there such a thing as too much Oz?  I don't think so.  Sure, if the new tales turn out to be crap, fans of the 1938 musical will feel cheated.  But I think good adaptations can stand on their own.  When most people think of Oz they only recall the story elements from that MGM musical, now owned by Warner Bros.  That was based only on the first part of Baum's saga.  Maybe new versions will finally be able to bring the rest of the Oz tale to life in a way that will entertain and delight the masses just as that beloved movie did decades ago and continues to do all these generations later.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Remembering Back to the Future

I received the latest issue of Empire magazine, which happen to be its spectacular 250th issue (and also one of my favorite movie mags). The cover story is about the 25th anniversary of one of the most entertaining movies ever made, Back to the Future.  I am amazed that it has been a quarter century since the first time we met Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and the time-traveling DeLorean. Time flies (pun intended.)

The movie, with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd at their best, was funny, nostalgic, heartwarming, well-written, and darn good science fiction.  The Empire article covered the entire Back to the Future trilogy (which was produced by Steven Spielberg).  Director Robert Zemeckis did a terrific job making each of these films unique, taking Marty to 1955 in the first movie, taking him to the future of 2015 in Part II, and then to the Wild West of 1885 in Part III. I enjoyed all three and my only regret is that some of the cast members from the original did not return for the sequels (specifically, Crispin Glover and Claudia Wells, although Elisabeth Shue was a decent substitute).

If you don't have a subscription, hunt down this month's issue of Empire at your local newsstand or check out their Web site at EmpireOnline.com.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sequels I Would Actually Like to See

Scott Mendelson wrote an interesting blog entry explaining why he thinks James Cameron should not make an Avatar sequel. Although he makes some excellent points, I am actually looking forward to learning more about Pandora or one of the other alien moons that Cameron has hinted might be explored in future films. Unlike prequels, which I detest, some sequels can be brilliant, even arguably better than the originals, (e.g., The Godfather Part II, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Dark Knight). Can you imagine a world without any new James Bond adventures?

The problem is, Hollywood makes uninspired sequels of crap instead of focusing its energies on advancing the stories of classics that merit continuation. I have already written about what I would love to see in the next Star Trek movie, so here are some other sequels that I would love to see.

Ferris Bueller’s Next Day Off – Probably the best John Hughes movie ever made, it would be great to see the kind of person Bueller grew up to be. Is he the principal of his old high school? Is he running for President on a path to rule the world? Is he facing a mid-life crisis and needs to be saved by his kids?  Show me.  I want to know!

Star Wars: The Sequel TrilogyI’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I want to see Episodes VII, VIII, and IX on the big screen before I die. Enough with the prequels and the Clone Wars. It’s time to move the live-action saga forward instead of dwelling on the past. 

The Matrix Redux – Let’s pretend that Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolution never happened. Or, to satisfy sticklers of continuity, there must be a way to negate or ignore all the horrible happenings of the two sequels and recapture the thrills of the first film.

The Rampaging Hulk – Time to get this right. The big problem with the first two Hulk movies was the filmmakers' reliance on a completely computer-generated version of Bruce Banner’s angry alias. The beloved TV show starring Bill Bixby may have been cheesy, but it also had a lot of heart, and Lou Ferrigno was great as the out-of-control creature. A new movie should just continue the story (no origin recaps necessary), but cast a human being to play the sympathetic monster, with subtle but effective CGI enhancements.

Godzilla vs. Gamera – Bring back my favorite giant, fire-breathing monster and have him face off against his flying mutant turtle rip-off. This would be a Hollywood-version sequel to the Japanese cult favorites, not a follow-up to the disappointing Roland Emmerich version. Include all the other monsters too, like Rodan, Mothra, Mechagodzilla. I’ve become tired of “disaster porn” that destroy New York and other cities, but for a new, big-budget Godzilla film, I’ll make an exception. Done right, it could make more money than Avatar! (Okay, maybe I'm getting carried away now.)

I’m not talking about reboots. I’ve already written about my ideas for movies I would like to see “reimagined” and recreated for a new generation, but these ideas above are for official sequels, building on what has preceded.
Which ones would you like to see?