Monthly Archives: April 2013

Finding Nemo 2: The Search For More Money

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Here is the official press release from Disney regarding their forthcoming film “Finding Dory”, the sequel to the 2003 blockbuster film “Finding Nemo” (the really stupid and asinine parts are in bold for your viewing pleasure).

When Dory said “just keep swimming” in 2003’s Oscar®-winning film “Finding Nemo,” she could not have imagined what was in store for her (not that she could remember). Ellen DeGeneres, voice of the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish, revealed details today about Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory”—an all-new big-screen adventure diving into theaters on Nov. 25, 2015.

“I have waited for this day for a long, long, long, long, long, long time,” said DeGeneres. “I’m not mad it took this long. I know the people at Pixar were busy creating ‘Toy Story 16.’ But the time they took was worth it. The script is fantastic. And it has everything I loved about the first one: It’s got a lot of heart, it’s really funny, and the best part is—it’s got a lot more Dory.”

Director and Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton takes audiences back to the extraordinary underwater world created in the original film. “There is no Dory without Ellen,” said Stanton. “She won the hearts of moviegoers all over the world—not to mention our team here at Pixar. One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.”

One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.

Done retching. Okay, lets break this down. I’ll start with a question. When in the history of either the Disney, Pixar, or Disney/Pixar enterprises has a sequel to one of their films ever been a good idea. If you’re finding it hard to get beyond “Toy Story 2” (it was okay people, not groundbreaking), and the “Shaggy D.A.” then you would understand why I’m so saddened to see Pixar, an other wise reputable studio go down the sequel route. Typically when a sequel is done by Disney it is solely to make a cash grab. That’s why most of their putrid spin offs to their animated classics, both from the golden age and second renaissance, have only been released on home video. They had no real cinematic value and Disney, even in the bowls of unabashed capitalism that produces such films, would not disgrace their cinematic track record with such trash.

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The Disney sequels were not movies at all really. They were babysitters. They were distractions put on by frazzled adults so their screaming children could be quiet. Unlike their typically superior predecessors the plots of these Disney sequels and prequels tended to have uninspired plots, lazy motivations and second rate animation. Sadly those three attributes have come to define the upcoming slate of Disney and Pixar animated features on the horizon. For those that think I’m being cynical or negative a simple compare and contrast will easily show how superior the original Disney/Pixar product is in comparison to its forthcoming prequel/sequel/ or spinoff.

Compare this:

“Monsters Inc.”: Fear is not only a defining aspect of childhood, it is a business. The Boogeyman doesn’t just scare you for the heck of it, but to make a living, supporting himself and the society in which he lives. That society is Monstropolis: the world on the other side of your closet door. The central (primitive) source of power is the screams of human children. There is no better harvester of screams than James P. “Sully” Sullivan. Along with his one eyed assistant Mike they help provide Monstropolis with as much power as they can which is not easy thanks to Sully’s rival Randall always looking to sabotage him and the simple fact that children are getting harder to scare. But beneath the rivalry and the daily macabre grind lies a more sinister conspiracy. Power plays, unholy alliances, and hidden secrets combine to uproot the very structure of the Monstropolis society and only Sully and Mike can save the day. With a plot containing elements of corporate intrigue and societal growth coupled with sly yet innocent humor, Monsters Inc. is a workplace comedy that both kids and adults can enjoy on many different levels.

With this:

“Monsters University”: We take a look back at Sully and Mike’s college days. Hilarity ensues. Seriously, isn’t this the kind of idea screenwriters get fired for. Who the heck looked at Monsters Inc. and thought the characters would work just as well in a college type setting. No one, that’s who. I’ve actually heard this described as a sort of tribute to “Animal House” or some such nonsense. That funny because when I first saw “Monster Inc.” I thought the only thing that was missing (besides cowbell) was a little bit of raunchy frat house humor.

Compare This:

“Finding Nemo”: The beauty and danger of the ocean is home to a simple yet textured tale of a father and son. We watch them grow together and grow apart as they figure out who they are in the big anemone that lies within the deep. Themes such as fatherhood, letting go, coping with loss, finding your way home, sacrifice, and finding your inner strength are all explored with humor and great pathos. All the elements come together to make “Finding Nemo” a wonderful parable of life under the sea.

With This:

Finding Dory: Remember the quirky forgetful fish from the first film Dory who almost sunk the film with her tired shtick featuring pop culture references (Fabio…really) and saccharine signing. Well now she gets her own story in which we get to meet her equally eccentric and annoying family. Isn’t that basically the plot from “Nutty Professor 2: Meet The Klumps”. 

Compare These:

“Cars”, “Cars 2”: Pixar phones in a serviceable cash cow. Its basically the cinematic equivalent of an A student bringing home two B- papers in a row.

With This:

Planes: Followed by a D+ travesty. “Planes”. “Planes!!!!!” Whats next? Will we see talking trains or boats? Maybe a hang gliders that does a soliloquy? With “Planes” we’re surely starting to see the cracks in the Pixar formula come through. What once was brilliant and intuitive storytelling prompted by imaginative and honest probings into humanities most enduring meanderings (i.e., what happens to your toys when you put them away, what happens inside that ant colony, or is being a superhero really that super?) gets replace by hokey premises and uninspired stories (i.e., wouldn’t it be cool if a car could talk, a boat could talk, a plane could talk, monsters went to college, ect).

Pixar is slowly abandoning all the good will they’ve built up by releasing these lame “what if” concepts masquerading as movies. A return to storytelling with substance is needed before I have any confidence in plunking down my money on any future Pixar films. Until then most every prospect Pixar has on the horizon looks completely:

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Percy Jackson and the Lowering of Cinematic Standards

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Hey check out the new trailer for Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1704670/percy-jackson-sea-monsters-trailer.jhtml
(Sorry I couldn’t embed, wasn’t working)

I expected to see an attack but instead I get bemused indifference. I understand that the constant barrage of substandard material has deadened the internet film community’s ability to respond accurately and vigilantly to both good and bad film news. As a result discerning the steps taken either forward or backward in cinema have become an altogether muddled affair. Either people don’t see the problem, are unwilling to admit their is a problem, or they just don’t care anymore. Probably a combination of all three. Still, the deteriorating standards of the modern film community notwithstanding, its very easy to see that with Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monster we are witnessing a clear (if not slickly presented) step backwards in cinephilia. Just don’t look to the film blogs to tell you that.

Based on the popular YA books by Rick Riordan, Chris Columbus’s PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF was evidently profitable enough to compel Fox to keep the series running. I thought the first film worked as a glossy Greek Mythology primer for kids (it was certainly more enjoyable than Louis Leterrier’s CLASH OF THE TITANS), so I’ve no issue with more of the same. Not that it matters. I’m not the target audience for this stuff, and, unless you’re a precocious eight- to twelve-year-old reading this website, neither are you.

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And honestly, it does look kind of fun. Like the first film, it appears that the sequel will play around with the adult actors cast in very silly roles, like Stanley Tucci as Dionysus, Nathan Fillion as Hermes, and Sean Bean as Zeus. It looks like they are having an absolute blast, and it’s possible audiences could, too. It’s also worth noting that the screenplay was co-written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon,” and Marc Guggenheim, a beloved comic book author.

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With Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, we are thankfully getting a more manageable title and from the looks of this trailer, a more ambitious attempt at epic adventure.

The exchange of director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter 1 & 2) for director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) is somewhat dubious – if only because Columbus has more experience with filmmaking on this scale than Freudenthal does. Still, the trailers looks like what you’d expect, given the first film, with some nice (if moderately budgeted) effects shots.

Sea of Monsters also features a nice supporting cast of fan-favorite actors like Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), Stanley Tucci (Captain America) and Anthony Head (Buffy) – along with Missi Pyle (The Artist), Leven Rambin (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Community).

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Even though the first Percy Jackson was both a bit muddled and leaned a little too hard on the silly, we liked the gags and the world-building. Plus it got points for turning Pierce Brosnan into a centaur that will forever haunt our dreams. And now, there’s a second Percy Jackson movie, and… it looks cute. Maybe even decent.

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When I interviewed Abel about The Host last week it was interesting hearing him admit that the Percy Jackson series is pretty much exclusively for kids at this point, which might be tough for a twenty-something actor making his way in the world but also provides a pretty steady paycheck. And as evidenced by all the work these actors have gotten since Lightning Thief, it’s definitely not hurting that they’re most recognizable to elementary schoolers. You’d think the original Percy Jackson film might not merit a sequel, making just $88 million in the United States, but with a $226 million worldwide total it’s enough to move forward even without Harry Potter orHunger Games-sized grosses.

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Like many YA adaptations outside the Harry Potter and Twilight series, The Lightning Thief didn’t quite wow audiences. Unlike many stillborn series, however, this one is actually getting a sequel. 

This chapter features Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson returning to support Lerman’s hero, and we get to see Stanley Tucci as Dionysus. Oh, and Nathan Fillion plays Hermes, which might be enough to get people watching.

The trailer doesn’t even think that audiences remember the first film, as it spends thirty seconds refreshing us on the series’ storyline. After that, it does get down to business, with the sort of big CG visions of mythological creatures that populated the first film.

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Thats all quite of lot of pandering to take in so if you don’t mind I’ll sum up the general points most of the internet film community made about this upcoming film.

1. It understandable and forgivable that a new sequel is being made to an awful film just because that first film netted a huge profit.

2. Well it looks like the adult actors are having fun in their roles which is all that matters anyway.

3. Nathan Fillion is a god. Worship him and give him money. Browncoats forever! Forever!!!!

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4. Well its for kids anyway so if it sucks thats okay. Having high standards for cinema only should apply to adults. At the very least our kids are getting an introduction to Greek mythology.

5. The first film sucked less than “Clash Of The Titans” and Eragon so it gets a pass.

Geez. I hope you enjoyed that set visit and free swag guys. I hope it profited you to gain all that stuff at the expense of you collective cinematic soul.  Must I reiterate that if we don’t start demanding more of the studios and filmmakers of this present age then things will continue to get worse. You may think I’m making a big deal out of this (“its only Percy Jackson!”) but its the little things, not the big, that over time build up until the problem is almost to big to solve.  Think of the all style and no substance money driven film culture we’ll be leaving behind for the next generation. They wont have stories with depth and artistry but only garish forgettable popcorn flicks to look forward to. But do we even consider the next generation at all anymore. We’ve already resigned to letting our kids (and ourselves) be receptacles for this kind of cgi laden garbage so who knows what we’ll allow in the future.

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Well excuse me if that’s not the way I want to respond to our film culture. Let me provide you with the response to Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters trailer debut that the other film blogs should have been more responsible enough to give you:

Hey did you hear! That mediocre piece of crap film that insulted audiences a few years back is getting a sequel. Yes Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters is upon us. What better chance will you have at the cinema this year to watch otherwise serviceable actors phoning in performances though belabored prosthetics and phony c.g.i.? At least you wont have to worry about any scenery chewing since 99.9 percent of the sets aren’t even there. You know who is there? Nathan Fillion. Bow down and sacrifice your daughters at the altar of Nathan Fillion. But it gets better. You remember the wunderkind turned hack director Chris Columbus? Well he’s history. We scrapped the bottom of the barrel, then lifted the barrel up and looked under it and found another guy to direct the film. Remember that instant classic Hotel for Dogs? The film that made Beverly Hills Chihuahua look like Citizen Kane. Well we got the guy who directed that (Thor Frudendthal……real name) to helm this turkey. Are you still there? Have you fainted from the amount of pure awesomeness we’ve assembled to make this project? Well you will when we tell you who we got to write the film. You know Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon”? Well we payed them enough money to squander their talents and sell out by writing this new film. On top of that we hired a comic book writer to help with the scripting duties to trick nerds into seeing the film. Top that off with a couple of scenes and scenarios lifted from likewise sub-par films (Pirates of the Carribean franchise, Harry Potter franchise, Clash Of The Titans, ect) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. But as long as that disaster nets the studio about 120-200 million you can be sure another sequel is on the way. But hey…..the film has Nathan Fillion. See you at the cinema!

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Things 90s Kids Realize

A warm & fuzzy cup of nostalgia for my fellow 90s kids.

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