Before I dive into the mess lets do a quick recap of what has been happening in film culture since I vanished.
1. J.J. Abrams, otherwise know as a subpar director, has been given the helm of the Star Wars franchise (at least for one film anyway).
I’ve seen the trailer and I’ll admit it has some nice visuals, but then again its a trailer. At his worse J.J. Abrams can produce good looking stuff. It’s the other stuff, the constructing a good narrative stuff, and drawing good performances out of your actors stuff, that I’m concerned about. I’m not trying to be a hater. I understand the love for the Star Wars and the mythology. I just can’t get excited about a new Star Wars film knowing that the person making is not a good director. Ask yourself, wouldn’t you be kind of upset if you heard that Uwe Boll is directing the next Indiana Jones movie. You would still love the subject matter and enjoy the mythology, but you would know that the story would not have received the best presentation it could have gotten had it been handled by a more capable craftsman.
2. Ant-Man has found its yes man.
Rather than dive into the whole sordid history of what happened, I’ll just post a resent excerpt of an argument I had in a comment section concerning Peyton Reed replacing Edgar Wright as the director of Ant-Man and how some people were defending Marvel in this decision:
“They chose to dispose of a creative original voice because he didn’t want to contribute to making another part of their massive product masquerading as a film franchise. Also, Peyton Reed……really? He’s only made one good film and a bunch of terrible ones. Where is all this goodwill for Peyton Reed coming from. If you are a fan of good cinema and art than I don’t see how you can in any way be happy with Marvel having Peyton “Yes Man” Reed directing Ant Man.”
“Look at these responses. I can picture the movie brats of the 1970’s somewhere in a corner crying. Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Bogdanovich, Milius, Altman. They fought the system to make original groundbreaking genre defying films. We championed them and now we are spitting in their faces. People are no longer defending the artists. They are defending the product makers. No one talks about ideas in relation to a film or how movies make us feel. Its all box office numbers and grosses, as if money has any bearing on emotional and creative impact. If you dare speak of a films quality or execution you are attacked and dismissed. You are called a troll, or old fashioned. Its dangerous having high standards these days.”
3. Hollywood Is Still Racist As All Get Out
Really, I’m surprised at how shocked people still get by racist responses to casting choices in Hollywood. Did people really think we’ve come that far? Are people still that naive?
Some food for thought on racist Hollywood.
Imagine that a fantasy property has just been optioned in Hollywood. This property is very famous and beloved the world over. Soon it will be a film. From the moment it’s announced there is a ground swell of excitement. Things start to come together. Locations are scouted. A script is written. Fan posters have started to show up online. Then it happens. The one step in the filmmaking process that’s a sign it’s “really” happening. The cast is chosen. Whether or not the cast selected is universally loved or abhorred is not important. What’s important is that the imaginations of the fans have been ignited. Who will these ordinary people be embodying? Will they measure up to how we’ve imagined them in your mind or will they look completely different? How will they look in their costumes? Who knows? That’s the fun in speculation.
Speculation, however, can cover a multitude of sins. Lets say this imagined film, complete with a dynamite cast, crackerjack script, spectacular set design, and dynamic score was being directed by a no talent hack. It’s no secret that the best ingredients can produce a nasty mess if not properly mixed together. Look at those Night At The Museum movies (or just read the plot synopsis online…..don’t actually look at those films). You take a multi-million dollar budget, a slew of A list actors, a score by a Hollywood vetern (Alan Silvestri) and other top notch assets, mix them all together and what do you get? Unwatchable garbage. Why? Because the guy doing the mixing is none other than Shawn Levy. Shawn Levy is a director of motion pictures. Shawn Levy is an awful director of motion pictures. If you give Shawn Levy the best tools for filmmaking, allot him a few months, and then return to see the finished product you will be disappointed. Why? Because, (say it with me now) Shawn Levy is an awful director of motion pictures. Even when given the best assets he has turned out nothing but duds time and again.
Now lets jump from the imaginary to the real. Star Wars 7 (or VII) is happening. The script (at least a first draft) has been written, the sets are being assembled, John Williams is writing the score, and, as of about 24 hours ago, the final cast has been revealved and the assorted players assembled
Now, before I start let me just say that yes, I am excited. It would be a lie to say I wasn’t. A new Star Wars film is actually happening. One of the most successful motion picture franchises of the past 30 years, instrumental in shaping the imagination for millions of people living in this modern age is getting another installment. Yes, I will eagerly await and watch the first trailer over and over. Yes, I will visit the fan boards to see the exicted chatter. Yes, I will probably buy my ticket early to ensure I will see it the first week and yes, I will likely skip work and play hooky wooky to see the film. Still, I wonder about myself on that day. As I stand in line with millions of others waiting to see the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker and Co., what, perchance, will I be feeling: excitement, apprehension, doubt, joy, stress, peace? Maybe all of these or maybe none, but one feeling I can count on to be present will be regret. Regret about the fact that I just paid 15.00 dollars to see an IMAX 3D presentation of the new film by none other than J.J. Abrams.
You know who J.J. Abrams is don’t you? Take a closer look at the picture above. See the guy awkwardly gesturing near Harrison Ford, kind of doing an annoying Spielberg impersonation? Yeah that’s him. Want a closer look?
Now that you’ve been properly introduced let me regale you with the only information you need to know about J.J. Abrams; he is not a good director. Rather than bore you with all the facts of his artistically unfulfilling career, we’ll just stick to analyzing his career as a film director (mercifully overlooking his writing and producer credits for TV). Suffice to say, of the few big screen credits he has there is not a good film among them.
- Mission Impossible: 3 (A.K.A. Alias the Movie) was nothing more than a multi-million dollar TV movie with all the lazy staging and cliché dialogue we’ve come to expect from most prime-time TV nowadays.
- Star Trek (2009) was revisionist storytelling of the worst kind, wherein Abrams took solid characters residing within an interesting canon and reduced them to a slick, narrative-bankrupt reboot devoid of any good cinematic ideas except for whip pans, bad Dutch angles, and lens flare
- Super 8 plays like a montage of scenes deleted from superior 80’s children’s entertainment (E.T., Explorers, Goonies, etc). All the scenes that didn’t move the story forward, dialogue the kids spoke that felt forced and fake, and bad special effects shots which couldn’t pass the mustard in those films were included in Super 8 strung together with a convoluted alien plot featuring the Cloverfield monster.
- Star Trek: Into Darkness provides the greatest example of J.J. Abrams’ lack of talent. It’s essentially a convoluted remake of Wrath of Khan, performed by your local high school drama team, but lacking the sincerity or potential found in such productions. Oh wait, it did have lens flare though. Redemption!
Yes, we have a cast, we have a writer (the great Lawrence Kasdan), and we have the wonderful John Williams back writing music. All that’s well and good but at the helm of the ship is still one of the most inept directors working in Hollywood today. I find it hard to get excited when a new film on the horizon is being made by an untalented filmmaker. Maybe if Brad Bird, Steven Spielberg, Genndy Tartakovsky, or John Woo (my dark horse pick) were directing the film I could muster some genuine excitement that extended past the realm of morbid curiosity. As it is, that’s about the only kind of excitement I can muster for this project.
Come December 18, 2015, I don’t want a good Star Wars movie ; I want a good movie period. Abrams can cram the screen with weird and familiar characters; give them lines to say; call action and make them perform, but he can’t give the film any real life or kinetic energy. He doesn’t seem to have the same preternatural cinematic instincts of his “mentor” Spielberg. His style has never risen above the level of a slightly above average TV director. Come December 18, 2015 all the familiar faces, as well as some new, will be in a brand new Star Wars story. It’s sad that the aesthetic value of the film won’t be any higher than an episode of Castle.
Star Trek 2 has a new title: Star Trek Into Darkness. Do you get it? They’re literally and spirituality trekking into darkness.
Are we really resorting to lame puns now? This title is literally one of the most asinine and condescending things that I’ve ever read. Why not just call it Star Trek 2: Into the Darkness. Do the makers of the film think the modern audience is so stupid that they need cheap tatctics like that to draw them. They may very well be, but why should it be okay for studios to routinely insult the intelligence of their audience. Thanks heavens the same kind of thinking didn’t go into choosing the titles for the original trek movies. Can you Image:
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan = Star Trek “That Leads Us To Cross A Dangerous Villian and Thus Inspire” The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock = Star Trekking Around The World To Find Spock
Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home = Star Trek The Voyage Home To Earth Where We Live and Came From and Have All Our Stuff
Star Trek The Movie = Star Trek The Movie Adaptation of the Old Television Series
Sadly the typically sensationalist and tasteless film bloggers find the the title endlessly fascinating.
Harry Knowles – Aintitcool.com
So what do you think “Into Darkness” means, beyond the obvious darkening tones it seems to indicate. Does this mean they’ll beam down to a fantasy planey with Tom Cruise and Tim Curry? What does it mean?
It means you have very low standards and pander to your followers.
Oliver Lyttelton – IndieWire.com
What this means, other than it’s always funny to type the word colon, is unsure, and the ‘Into Darkness’ part of the title doesn’t seem to be giving anything away about potential plot details, other than the standard sequel-takes-on-darker-tone thing — there’s certainly no confirmation of Cumberbatch’s villainy, or of where the follow might take us, to be found.
Its funny to type colon. You know it might also be funny if you tried typing some cultrual criticism that actually aspired to be enlightening.
Adam Chitwood – Collider.com
At the end of the day, though, it’s just a title and it has little to do with the actual quality of the film. However, this reveal does hint at some rather dire circumstances that may surround the central plot of the follow-up.
What a copout. A bad title is a bad title. If the title is condescending and awful what does that say of the film? Why should we give the film the benefit of the doubt if you don’t take the time to even name it right? Good titles accompany good films 99.9 precent of the time. As for the other 1 precent…..well I don’t think Mr. Lens Flair and the guys who wrote transformers are going to buck the trend.
Yet, I digress. Its a brand new wonderful day for films news, right? We have the title of the new Star Trek movie. We finally know what it is. Its a wonderful occasion; time for celebration. Do you wanna hear what else we know?
We know we have a director who has a style only slightly more exciting than Ron Howard’s (which isn’t saying much).
We know we probably wont be able to see the film over all the lens flair.
We know the writers of the movie have the emotional maturity of children and write sophomoric scripts (Cowboys and Aliens , People Like Us, Transformers 1 & 2).
We know there will be more fan pandering cameos (nice one Nimoy) and idiotic plot twists (What was Mr. Eric Bana doing for those 25 years; don’t mention a scene that was deleted from movie, like that matters anyway.)
We know we will see another lame retread of a previous trek villian instead of an original creation.
We know people will need aspirin because of all the headaches they will get from the 3d.
We know they won’t be able to afford the aspirin because they spent all the money on 3d.
I also know I’ll be attacked by trek fan-boys who think i’m defaming their religion. Pray for me.