The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: ‘Damnation Alley’

Jack Smight‘s 1977 feature, Damnation Alley is a movie I recall l fondly from when I was growing up.  It’s (very) loosely based upon a novel by Roger Zelazny, and while it’s an entertaining movie, it’s not a particularly good one.

I while I don’t know how the movie was filmed, it feels epic and looks massive (which had a lot to do with the excellent score by Jerry Goldsmith which managed to be bold and at the same time minimal enough that it didn’t take over).

Events take place after a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.  You’re never told who started the conflict or why, though like W.O.P.R. said, “The only way to win is not to play.”

Unfortunaely for these guys, War Games came out in 1983, so they erred on the side of mutually assured destruction.  The United States is devastated and most of the land reduced to desert, while the sky is irradiated and angry with aurora borealis.

Though on what I assume is the last remaining military installation everything life goes on.  Maj. Eugene Denton (George Peppard) is in command, and is military through and through, while Tanner (Jan-Michael Vincent) and Keegan (Paul Winfield) don’t see the point of playing soldier any longer, so the former spends his time riding about the desert on his motorcycle, dodging giant scorpions (because radiation does nothing else if not create giant versions of things) while the latter  works on a mural.

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Weird Math: ‘Rise Of The Guardians’ Edition

Rise Of The Guardians poster 1The head of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg, reported that as a result of the weak performance of 2012’s “Rise Of The Guardians” the studio had to write off $87 million.

Sure, it’s not a “John Carter” sized loss, but it’s still substantial.

Now here’s the weird part:  ‘Rise’ earned over $300 million worldwide (on a $145 million budget), not what I would traditionally call a failure.  By way of comparison, “Tron: Legacy” cost $170 million, and earned $400 million, which is a better performance, though not hugely.

But while a sequel for ‘Legacy’ is in the works, ‘Rise’ has lost thousands.

The ’Tron’/‘Rise’  is a comparison I made before, mainly because it makes no sense to me that “Rise Of The Guardians” was such a (relatively) large failure.  If that were it’s only problem, it would be bad enough, though accompanying it was the layoff of 350 workers.

This is weird because it feels that ‘Rise’ underperforming could have perhaps been the impetus, and provided the cover, for Jeffrey Katzenberg doing what he wanted to do anyway.

Am I right?  I have no idea, but the idea that one film underperforming could cause all this damage feels odd.

‘Oblivion’ Trailer

Oblivion movie poster

Gossip Cop has a trailer for Joseph Kosinski’s upcoming “Oblivion,” and I am not sure how I feel about it from a design standpoint, which is interesting, because Kosinski’s has a pretty strong esthetic sense, if “Tron: Legacy” was any indication.

Thanks to Gossip Cop for the foreign language trailer that I linked to above, and for the subtitle-less version.

The Viral Campaign For ‘Pacific Rim’ Has Begun

Many movies, to compete in a very competitive market, market their films in ways that go beyond the traditional.  For instance, for 2010’s “Tron: Legacy” the makers of the film had a campaign that led the inquisitive to and as a reward let them see a light cycle before the general public.

I don’t want to imply that “Tron: Legacy” is the only film that has used viral marketing because movies from “The Dark Knight Rises” to “The Amazing Spider-Man” and many others have also used them.

Done correctly, they can help make the difference between a movie being a success, or a failure.

Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” is also following this route.  So far, a faux news bulletin and two wallpapers (that fit an iPad perfectly) have been released.


To Post-Convert To 3D Or Not Post-Convert

Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” is being post-converted to 3D, which is interesting when you consider how terrible such conversions tend to be.

Remember “Wrath Of The Titans?”  If there’s another film that was converted to 3D to such seemingly universal disdain, I am unaware of it.

That being said tickets for 3D films tend to be significantly more expensive than those for traditional films, so I am sure that that figured into someone’s calculations.

And you cannot talk about 3D films without mentioning James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which actually had very good 3D, though I felt that it was too enthralled with its own technology (after all, did we really need to see what often felt like a documentary called “The Flora and Fauna of Pandora?”) to be as effective as it could have been.

I enjoyed “Tron: Legacy,” but to be honest I am so smitten with everything ‘Tron’ that I barely noticed the effect, more often than not.

The three dimensional version of “The Avengers” was also pretty mediocre because what I remember most from the effect was from the beginning of the film, where for some odd reason Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) was thrust so far forward it actually diminished the effect for everyone else in the scene.  The S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier scenes were cool, but it’s essentially a flying aircraft carrier, so there’s little you can to to frak that up.

The only saving grace I can see is that 3D technology, like any other technology, will advance, so perhaps my fears are unfounded.

And besides, this is Guillermo Del Toro film, and if anyone can shepherd some really good post-converted 3D, it’s him.

Avengers 2 In Planning Stages

If someone were to tell you that there is going to be a sequel to “The Avengers,” you’d probably say: “No kidding.”

If you’re like me, you’d say something like: “Let’s see…it’s been out almost a full week in this country, and has earned over $226 million, while overseas its raked in around  $450 million.

So yeah, I guess a sequel is likely.

Well, now it’s official because Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, has announced that Avengers 2 is in development.

Now, if they finally get around to announcing a sequel to “Tron: Legacy,” I’ll be a happy camper.

Is The Version Of Tron: Legacy On Starz Altered From The Theatrical Version?

I visit my parent’s regularly during the holidays, and this one is no exception. I was channel surfing, when I came upon Tron: Legacy on Starz: Edge.

Seeing that I have seen the film at least seven or eight times in various forms of media, I figured that I would just watch the special effects scenes, then find a horror movie to occupy myself.

Till I noticed that there are additional scenes in Starz’s version.  The newer parts are less “new” more than expansions of pre-existing scenes.