Some time ago, I wrote this piece about trailers taking us all to hell in a handbasket… or something. Maybe it was more along the lines of trailers ruining cinema? I forget. Anyway, the point is: trailers bad.
Well, not really.
But all too often that is true. If they’re not showing too much of the film, they’re misrepresenting it, if they’re not copying other trails that have gone before, they’re featuring reviews from fawning, but clearly biased critics. While a well-made trailer can still wow you from time to time, after you’ve been to the cinema a few times, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re going to see. So the good folks at Cracked put together a spoof video that is slightly mis-titled as “Trailer for Every Oscar-Winning Movie Ever”, when in fact, it’s a well-observed and executed lampooning of trailers in general. Check out the embed below, and feel free to riotously disagree in the comments.
“Accusation about your sexuality!”
So, with RBT’s upcoming pieces for and against the Disney takeover of Lucasfilm coming soon, we had to report the latest, most ‘out there’ gossip to come of it so far. Collider are reporting that Matthew Vaughn (he of Layer Cake and X-Men: First Class directing fame) is in line to direct the first major motion picture out of the blocks. In lieu of our pieces on why this takeover is a good/bad idea, it has to be said that, first of all, this is absolutely batsh*t mental. Collider cite the fact that he has dropped out of the running to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past (The X-Men: First Class sequel) as reasoning for this, but other than that are very up front about it being only a rumour.
Since this is still early days and all, any decisions like this are probably a long way off, but it would be a very interesting choice. Although his background in gangster movies would seem to indicate he operates better in the real world, X-Men: First Class showed that he could direct large-scale action and believably render characters with powers. A better comparison from his filmography would be Stardust, his most underrated and under-seen effort to date. This film captures what Star Wars often reached in its early incarnations, and failed to ever reach in the prequel trilogy: it had high adventure, action, comedy, a great love story, and, perhaps most importantly: a genuinely threatening antagonist. If he were able to recreate the feel of Stardust while directing this new film in the Star Wars universe, why, I’d be first in line.
So Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars universe is complete, with the first of the next trilogy due for release in 2015. We’re told that movies will follow every 2 to 3 years, stretching into the distance like the iconic exposition crawl at the start of each film so far.
What are we to make of all this? Like all of the best opinionated schizophrenics, RBT has two voices to put forward a case for those for, and against, this fundamental shift of power. It’s time to pick a side, which will you choose?
THE DEFENCE (Why this is a good thing):
I love Star Wars. I was raised on it. I don’t recall seeing A New Hope in the cinema at the age of two, but have heard the tales recounted by my parents of how I sat open-mouthed at the spectacle for the entire duration without making a peep. Much like everyone else at the time.
For a reminder of the magic, Exhibit A (the original trailer from 1977):
But hang on a minute – I need to qualify this statement a little. I loved growing up with Star Wars, and it was such a fundamental part of my youth that I recognise the propensity to overstate the franchise’s greatness through nostalgia. So, let me make this clear. I love the original Star Wars Trilogy, which contains 2 truly great films (New Hope & Empire), and 1 good film (Jedi). I cannot imagine how many times I have watched them in my life, and can quote scenes over and over again, with unhealthy levels of detail. The imagination behind them, and scale of universe around them is staggering. But I do recognise that they are essentially big screen popcorn fodder, with corny scripts and some occasionally dodgy acting.
But in 1999, when The Phantom Menace was released, everything started to go wrong. George Lucas, was beginning to resemble a human version of Jabba, and his ego had become just as swollen – and fans of the original trilogy should have seen the warning signs when he began insisting on retaining pretty much exclusive control of the new trilogy as Director, Writer, Producer, Costume Designer (he personally designed Natalie Portman’s bust enhancing dresses inAttack of the Clones?!).
Lucas wisely gave away Directing responsibility on Empire and Jedi, citing the stress of directing the first movie. The on-set tales of his clashes with Irvin Kershner, who picked up the reigns for Empire Strikes Back are well known, but Kershner held out, and his vision remains by far the strongest, not to mention darkest of the 6 films so far – and is the most successful in introducing some of the more epic elements into the mix too. Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi) is rumoured not to have been so lucky. By this time, Lucas was all over the production like a rash, always on set, and dictating what should and shouldn’t happen in every shot. Marquand had a subsequent nervous breakdown as a result. (I still love to dwell on the thought that David Lynch was 1st on the list to direct Return of the Jedi!)
The first sign that Lucas was capable of getting it wrong. Yep, I liked Ewoks when I was a kid, but their place in the original trilogy is mis-placed and comical. I still want the Stormtroopers to kick their furry butts in a sliding doors universe.
You get my point.
So when the prequel trilogy was released, Lucas had become Jabba, and the series was plunged into the kind of dystopian, dictatorial society that Emperor Sidious would have approved of. It also showed how dangerous Lucas could be without other voices in the mix. Old Georgie was hardly an actor’s director, rarely giving them guidance with performances (his favourite direction?: “do it again, but slower… and better”), means he gets a lot of credit for their consequently wooden performances. He was also involved in some atrocious casting decisions (Jake Lloyd, anyone?), and bogging the prequels down with endless ‘Trade Federation’ guff, whilst trying to appeal to kids with an annoyingly zany, patronising, and borderline racist character in Jar-Jar Binks. What we’re trying to say here, is that it would have been best to take George away from the trilogy sooner.
THE PROSECUTION (why this is a bad thing):
OK, so with all the positive feeling flying around about this takeover, this feels about as welcome as a bacon salesmen at a Bar-Mitzvah, but this must be heard!
Yes, George Lucas no longer having the reins of Star Wars is reason to celebrate, and yes there is potential there (particularly if there’s any truth to the rumours of Matthew Vaughn and/or Joss Whedon’s involvement), but just because it’s different, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be better.
Isn’t it time we stopped dabbling with the classics? The original trilogy is beloved of so many, and the fan culture that grew up with it, alongside the more film-based appreciation is unmatched, despite the prequel trilogy. The prequel trilogy, however, is exactly why this should stop, and stop now. Whenever I now watch the original Star Wars trilogy, I still get the old thrill, and can’t help but enjoy them. This thrill, is tainted though, by the knowledge, and memory of, what was to come. With largely forgettable animated TV series to accompany the flat, lifeless, unimaginative prequels, we have enough content out there that is unworthy of the Star Wars name. Do we need any more? What if they make another film, get Michael Bay to direct it, with Ashton Kutcher starring, Miley Cyrus alongside him, and Charlie Sheen as the villain? It would suck, right?
What if Disney’s takeover of Pixar has resulted in their recent undeniable downswing in quality (Brave and Cars 2 weren’t terrible, per se, but do they match the transcendant beauty of Wall-E whilst also somehow still being children’s films? No). What if the impact of the takeover Disney of Marvel has not yet been felt? Cars 2 felt like an exercise in merchandise selling (a strongpoint of the Cars franchise, but also of Disney’s), and Brave felt more Disney than Pixar. What if Disney’s desire to sell merchandise means any film is geared towards toys rather than characters? Marketing and Mouseketeers rather than plot and characters? What if they make the franchise skew even younger, and thus move it further away from that magic mix of the adult and the child-like? Will they add MORE CGI?
I’ll leave you with one final thought:
The Mouse House already have Pixar, ABC, ESPN, Marvel, The Muppets Studio, and Touchstone Pictures under their remit. With Lucasfilm and THX representing such a huge chunk of the movie industry and popular culture in general, does the fact that they are reportedly even in talks to take over Hasbro not worry you? One message? One voice? One huge, supposedly nice and family-friendly company owning everything, and one day coming for us?
Why, it’s enough to make me want to join some kind of rebel alliance, and if that ever happens, we certainly will need A New Hope.
NP and TA
As TA & NP have discussed the pro’s and the cons of the Disney buyout of the Star Wars brand I thought I should add a few words. I’m not interested in debating if it is a good thing or not, I’m just excited for new Star Wars films! I have a couple of suggestions for the magical kingdom. Here are a couple of already existing stories that could make in my opinion excellent additions to the Star Wars legacy.
The Han Solo trilogy is set before ‘A new Hope’ and tells the story of young Han Solo. It is a ripping adventure and explains his relationship with Chewbacca, how he won the Millennium Falcon, how he upset Jabba the hut and why he wears imperial trousers when he is a smuggler (I wonder how many of you hadn’t spotted this previously and are now looking at Google images?). Obviously you would have to find an actor with a mild resemblance to Harrison Ford to make this work, for god’s sake not Shia Lebeouf though Disney! The three books place you perfectly at the beginning of a New Hope so it wraps it up in a nice little package.
This is a little more left field and pretty new to the Star War mythology. Death Troopers is a zombie Star Wars novel written by Joe Schreiber. Set roughly before ‘A New Hope’ a prison vessel discovers an abandoned Star Destroyer and all hell breaks loose. It is a great twist on what you would expect from the Star Wars universe, but it is exactly this reason it hits all the right notes. A real ripping yarn.
If either of these stories ever make it to the cinema I will be the first one in line, with my popcorn and my large diet Coke. I really hope they don’t make them in 3D though…
So far, we RBT-heads haven’t really covered Tom Hooper‘s follow up to his scientifically-engineered follow up to The King’s Speech; in fact, I don’t even think we’ve mentioned his forthcoming effort, Les Miserables at all. Maybe we don’t like musicals? I certainly don’t (with some notable exceptions), could it be that we don’t like period pieces (lies!), or it must be that, despite a gilded, respected cast, we just can’t get excited about it (bingo).
Having said all that, getting Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne in the same film is a heck of an achievement. At a rough guess, I make that to be about half of Hollywood. It’s not even that they got them all in the same film, they got them in the same film, and got them singing. Les Miserables, that runaway Broadway smash hasn’t been adapted for the screen before, and if Hooper can bring his skill for sumptuous production design married to a well-paced and elegant narrative, we could be looking at a (potentially nauseating) Oscar contender.
Not excited, but likely to get stuck taking the family or a significant other to it in January? Maybe you can satisfy yourself with the fact that it depicts a bloody revolution where the bourgeoisie were overthrown, and while it probably won’t be as exciting as The Dark Knight Rises, it might be more coherent.
… So after multiple reshoots, reports of internal wrangling, and a rumoured change to the ending, World War Z is finally (nearly), released. Its teaser poster dropped on the 6th November, although it would be better described as a teaser logo, and now we have the trailer.
For those who don’t know, World War Z is an upcoming movie starring Brad Pitt, directed by Marc Forster, depicting (you guessed it) a zombie apocalypse. Based on a novel of the same name by Max Brooks (son of Mel), the book took the form of an ‘Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse’.
Developing a book that is essentially a set of first-hand accounts into a narrative movie is a hell of a challenge, and perhaps has resulted in being too challenging. Rumours of Brad Pitt not being on speaking terms with Marc Forster have emerged, as well as copious on-set rewrites of the script, and Studio intervention leading to a massive change to the ending. It begs the question: are we reaching saturation point on zombies? During the making of the movie, several other properties have emerged, into an already crowded zombie pop-culture horde.
I personally like zombie movies, and still have a relentless, zombie-esque appetite for the walking dead, so am somehow still looking forward to this. The controversy-tinged production though, should raise warning signs for the fans. The trailer follows, feel free to leave a comment below.
The new Sky Atlantic series ‘Falcón’ is based on Robert Wilson’s bestselling Javier Falcón novels. The books and the series are set in Seville Spain but the location is the only Spanish piece of this unusual crime drama. Marton Csokas who you may recognise as Celeborn from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and also ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter’ takes the lead as Javier Falcón. Javier is your standard TV cop struggling with his troubled past by burying himself in his work and substance abuse. I have always struggled with how these characters remain charming when they are smacked out of their faces.
Robbie Coltrane in Jimmy McGovern’s excellent ‘Cracker‘ is one of the rare times this type of flawed character has worked in my opinion. Why do these cops have to be a walking disaster zones outside of work? Why can’t they just lead normal lives as a balance to the horror they see at work? If it is because of the horror they see why aren’t more police around the world checking into the Priory?
The most striking element of the production is they haven’t bothered with Spanish accents at all. I’m not messing around, they even have a Spanish cockney sidekick for Javier. It is possibly one of the most dumbfounding production decisions I have ever seen or in this case heard. With the runaway successes of the ‘The Killing’, ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Wallander’ all foreign language productions why did Sky Atlantic feel that even accents would be too much for the audience to deal with? I can’t tell you how jarring it is to sit and look at these beautiful locations and have people who inhabit them sound like an episode of Eastenders. Admittedly I don’t think Eastenders has a storyline, which involves someone cutting off people’s eyelids, but still it is annoying.
Clearly they put a lot of love into this production, it is well cast and looks great, a simple decision not to perform in Spanish or with accents completely removes you from the location and makes this just too difficult to watch.
Watch out ladies! That’s right, Daniel Radcliffe’s latest attempt to prove that there is life after Harry Potter involves taking off his clothes! But that’s not all, oh no, he’s also shown in the bath. That’s right, the camera will show him soaping himself down. But wait! That’s not all. Calm yourselves girls, because you see, Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper off of Mad Men) actually shares a bath with him!
I know, right?
Sky Arts‘ critically-lauded Playhouse Presents series returns with A Young Doctor’s Notebook, a comedy miniseries based on the memoirs of a Russian Revolution-era doctor. Jon Hamm plays the older version Daniel Radcliffe’s character. The dual perspectives of the younger man and the older man on the events of the story give it a lightness of tone that it is hoped will juxtapose with the harsh realities of life at that time in a small Russian village.
Daniel Radcliffe seems to have decided that the best way to make everyone forget that he was one Harry Potter is for him to take all his clothes off (just like in Equus, or to play characters who look younger than they are (The Woman in Black). Playing the same character as Jon Hamm is an intriguing prospect, and with seemingly high production design, and the Sky Arts pedigree, there seems to be plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this one. Check out the trailer below, and let us know what you think.
A Young Doctor’s Notebook airs in the UK on Sky Arts in December 2012.
I was a big fan of the original ‘The Host’ and had no idea they were planning a sequel. This is clearly a bit of a tech demo but it looks like it could be another cracking South Korean monster movie.
Here is the monster attack from the original if you have never seen it.
Steve-O is back with an interesting mix of Jackass and the X-factor. Contestants are judged on their ability to sing while suffering shocks or frights. These clips are highly entertaining and if the producers can keep thinking of ways to put of the contestants it could be a Saturday evening must watch!