Saturday, August 10, 2013

2 Guns

So here we are. The summer is winding down, all of the movies that we were absolutely hyped to see have come and, in some cases, left the cinemas, and now we are stuck with the left overs. If you accept that fact before you go into 2 Guns, you'll enjoy it so much more than if you went into it with the same hype that you went into say, Star Trek Into Darkness or The Wolverine. That's all I can really say about today's movie because there isn't really that much left to it. All you really need to know going in is that it stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, two of the coolest, most charismatic dudes in America, and they shoot shit and blow shit up, they exchange funny dialogue, and they are being shot at by Bill Paxton, James Marsden and that weird guy from Bladerunner that had all the origami. The plot is a bit convoluted and there are some things that I wasn't really clear on, but the movie was enjoyable enough. I don't really see anybody's career being made or broken on this movie. Besides, all you're really paying attention to the whole time is the two leads, which is what you should be doing because the scenes with the two of them saying funny shit is the best part of the movie because they are both very good actors and they share some great chemistry.

Final Grade: C+, I could have done dollar theater on this one and not lost anything

Friday, August 9, 2013

People of the Chair- George Lucas

So, I started out this series by talking about someone who I have always admired, I guess it only makes sense to follow it up with someone I... Well, I don't despise him exactly, but I definitely don't think that highly of him as a filmaker, even though his brainchild is three of my favorite movies.

With the selling of Lucasfilm to the mouse and the coming of Episodes VII-IX on the horizon, I thought it was time that I gave my thoughts on the man behind the sale. George Lucas is one of those people that everybody seems to have an opinion on. Some people love him, a lot hate him. But our feelings for him really started to take shape after the release of the prequels because it showed audiences his true prowess (or lack thereof) as a director. So what are my thoughts on the guy? I don't like him as a filmaker, but as a businessman, you have to give the guy credit. So much so that I think of him as a businessman first. Which would be great except that you are in show business, and you are trying to sell toys. Not always the best goal to have because one is always going to suffer. In his case, his movies suffered. If you look at a lot of the creatures and machines in the prequels and the remastered originals, you may find yourself coming to the conclusion that it was there for the sake of selling action figures, which is really sad. When you start thinking more about the profits of the movie rather than the integrity of the piece, you lose your credibility as an artist in my opinion. Now, I'm not going to turn this into a review on the prequels, though we will get to that eventually.

And it seems that his way of thinking only became that way in the mid nineties when the prequels were being written because in his earlier days, he appeared to at least be somewhat passionate about what he was doing. These days, filmakers like James Cameron and Zack Snyder have been known for pushing the envelope in terms of the visuals of a movie, but George Lucas was the first person to do that. A New Hope was one of the first big sci-fi movies that had such a big and grand scale, which is why it has become a cultural phenomenon in the years following its release in the 1970's, and for that you do have to give George Lucas credit. Story wise, though, you would have to credit the legions of writers who had to go through rewrite after rewrite in order to make the story work. You see, while Star Wars had the scale to dwarf all other sci-fi adventure movies, it certainly didn't have the story. You remember the movie they were faking in the movie Argo? From what I understand, the original draft by George Lucas was on par with that, which would not do. IF the visuals were going to be grand, then the story needed to match it. Now, thankfully it went through the treatment that it did because not only has it been a cultural phenomenon, but some people are saying that, along with comic books, Star Wars is American mythology. Unfortunately for George, it wasn't the story that he had wanted, and when it came to writing the stories for the sequels, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he found his ideas getting rejected more and more. I've heard that one of his ideas was so stupid that he got laughed out of the writer's meeting. I don't know that to be true, but when you hear stories about what the original was supposed to be like, then I wouldn't be surprised. I know that these days, George Lucas has all of the credit to be had for creating Star Wars, but I think that it is wrongly placed. Now, I know what some defenders of George Lucas would want to say, that even if he was entirely responsible for the original Star Wars, it's possible for him to make a bad movie. And yes, thta is true, not even Martin Scorsese has a hit every time. But to make two bad movies, a mediocre third, and then produce a fourth movie in another franchise that sucked... and then a few years later produce another mediocre movie that could have been great, you have to admit, something's not right here. Even if Star Wars was his complete brainchild, you could definitely see that there was a point where Lucas had given up on the artistic aspect of his work.

And now he says that he's retiring. Considering that since the release of the prequels, he's only made three major decisions, I have to ask... What are you retiring from? He hasn't had many hands on jobs in previous years, so what has he been doing? I was under the impression that he was already kind of retired. But I guess now that he has officially handed off the baton, I guess now he can officially stop screwing his own ideas.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why we need a Pirates vs Ninjas movie

I am of the generation that was given the internet at the right time. We had our childhoods to be imaginitive and creative and we had our teenage and adult years to enjoy the perfect thread to express that creativity. One of the longest running gags on the internet is proof of that creativity. Since my early high school years, people have long debated one of the greatest mysteries of the universe: Who would win in a war between the two greatest badasses of history, pirates and ninjas.

Now, I'm not gonna sit here and tell you which side is better or who would win, though I do have my beliefs in that area, I'm going to give you my reasons as to why a movie on this subject is not only plausible, but should happen ASAP.

1. We live in a time where writers have taken concepts that would have been seen as silly or childish in an earlier time (i.e comic book heroes) and have turned in some great stories and relatable characters. And while the idea of these two forces of awesome may still be a little outlandish, it's still not entirely ludacris to say that perhaps a director like Zack Snyder (300, The Watchmen) or Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys and Aliens) could make a halfway decent film.

2. With the success of movies like Pirates of the Carribbean now is a better time than any. Say what you will about them, but they grossed a ton of money and even if there was a pirates movie without characters like Captain Jack or Barbossa, people would still pay money to see a good swashbuckler flick. Now ninjas on the other hand, have always been a popular item in pop culture, especially amongst boys, so why wouldn't you want to see a movie made with two of the things young boys spent most of their childhoods pretending to be the most?

3. And this is the most important reason, we've made dumber movies. I have 2 in mind that you could argue are dumber than a PVN movie: Machete (which is now getting a sequel mind you) and Cowboys and Aliens. Now before you go crazy, I did actually enjoy them, for as stupid of an idea as they had behind them, and there was some real talent thrwon into both of them. The former had big names like Danny Trejo and Robert De Niro while the latter had two guys that played my childhood heroes, James Bond and Han Solo. Neither of these flicks were by any means artistic achievements nor were they Oscar contenders, nor were they really intended to be, but they were fucking awesome! Okay, I know neither were huge hits at the box office, and a lot of people thought they were meh, but I liked them, I know people who liked them, and if a studio is willing to through money at a movie where the title character named himself after a knife, then why can't I see my pirates vs. ninjas? And even if you don't think those were all that good, there are still a number of films out there that frankly I can't explain the existence of. Here's a short list

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Expendables
Half of Jason Statham's IMDB resume, from Crank to Transporter
Any of the Fast and Furious movies except for the first one
Rock of Ages
The Smurfs
The Great Gatsby (okay, that one doesn't apply, I just hate it)
I even hear rumors that they are working on a Nazi zombie movie with Sean Bean (oops, sorry, spoilers)

Now I reiterate, these are not movies that I necessarily consider bad, I actually do enjoy a few of the movies that I listed. But I do have to redirect you to the point I made earlier about these movies not being made for the sake of art, they were made for pure entertainment value and nothing else. If a PVN movie were approached in the same manner, they could strike gold.

So, to summarize, my message to studio heads is... I'M WAITING!!!!!!