The Origin Of The (Cinematic) Universe, Part One


‘Early Milky Way’ image via hubblesite.com

Success breeds imitation, and in the past ten years few movie companies have been successful as Marvel Studios.

And while many in the Hollywood community seem surprised, if they had any idea of the pent-up demand for seeing characters like Iron Man, Falcon and many others that millions of people have grown up with from Marvel Comics, on the silver screen, they probably wouldn’t have been.

Though what made Marvel Studios such a success wasn’t superheroes in and of themselves (despite the aforementioned demand) but the way they were presented.

What Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, brought to the table was the creation of an integrated cinematic universe, the likes of much had never been seen in movies before (coupled with extremely faithful interpretations of the characters).

And as far as ‘imitation’ goes, other companies have tried to mimic the approach of Marvel  Studios, with varying degrees of success.

Sony Pictures attempted to create a cinematic universe based on Spider-Man with The Amazing Spider-Man movies. After an initially strong showing, the sequel–while profitable–indicated a definite downward trend, financially speaking, for the franchise.

So they, perhaps anticipating the franchise falling precipitously enough that the rights would eventually revert back to Marvel, instead entered into a deal where future Spider-Man movies would be under Marvel Studios’ creative control, while both studios produced (some have written that the upcoming movies would be produced exclusively by Sony, with Marvel providing only creative control.  This literally makes no sense at all because having only creative control gives Marvel Studios relatively little, while granting Sony access to the uber-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., is one of the most successful Marvel Studios’ characters, who’ll next appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming). 

Universal Pictures plans to create a cinematic universe based upon Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man and the Mummy (which is filming with Tom Cruise in the lead).  At this point it’s too early to tell how well it will do.

What’s perhaps most surprising is the current position of DC Films in the world of the cinematic universe.  ‘Surprising’ because before Marvel Studios was barely an idea they were producing movies based upon Superman and Batman.  The problem was that–for reasons that will probably never be entirely known–they never built and expanded their offerings, despite seemingly ample opportunities to do so.

The Fog (2005) – Postmortem

Screenshot 2016-08-23 23.05.50.pngAs I have said time and again, I am not fond of remakes.

More often than not they don’t add anything to the original–did we really need to know about Michael Myers difficult upbringing in Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot?–or they add details that seemingly are there just to differentiate them from the original.

The thing is, as far as remarks go, Rupert Wainwright’s remake of The Fog (it doesn’t help that  John Carpenter directed the original) isn’t terrible.

It’s not particularly good, but it’s different enough that you don’t at least hate yourself for wasting an hour and a half that you will never get back.

What works is the whole leprosy subplot–in the original I don’t recall the movie going into huge detail about what William Blake was doing with the gold–but in the reboot the point was to get his people to a place where they could live in peace because they were suffering from leprosy.

He was building a leper colony!  It’s a pretty clever idea that the movie unfortunately doesn’t take advantage of (there’s a scene where one of the ghosts comes in physical contact with a person, and she’s decays like she’s caught leprosy on steroids).

Unfortunately it’s an angle that they don’t deal with again.

They could have also done more innovative things with the fog itself, especially when you take into account that the bulk of it is CGI, but unfortunately they don’t.

It’s a movie full of wasted opportunities–especially compared to the original–but at least you don’t feel your time slipping away like digital fog.

 

Cursed ‘Crow’ Loses Another Lead – Part 2

The story around Relativity Studios’ reboot of The Crow, which I originally wrote about here, continues albeit in a fashion that I had not anticipated.

I mentioned originally that among the many issues that the remake was facing was whether or not Relativity would be able to refinance it’s debt in time.

If not the studio could be broken up, and its projects auctioned off to the highest bidder (and that’s almost a ‘best-case’ scenario if they’re unable to get refinancing).

As a workaround, as opposed to selling any rights outright, Relativity is instead trying to enter into a deal with STX Entertainment, which would take over production and domestic distribution, leaving Relativity with foreign rights (that’s an interesting idea, though considering how popular superhero movies are worldwide, foreign distribution will probably be more profitable than domestic) to two of their upcoming features, The Crow and Hunter Killer.

According to Variety, they received an extension on the repayment of the $150 million due to creditors, and selling domestic rights to–so far–two of their upcoming productions would help bridge that gap.

The article also states that Relativity has no intention of selling either project outright, but it doesn’t seem to me that they have too strong a hand.

More as it comes available…

Point Break (2015) – Trailer

The trailer for the upcoming Point Break. like Poltergeist, illustrates the problem with seemingly pointless remakes.  It actually looks pretty interesting, but as someone who’s seen the original, on some level I will always be comparing it, as opposed to just enjoying it for what it is.

And i don’t want that to be interpreted in ay way as saying that the original movie was such a cinema landmark, because it wasn’t; which reinforces why copying it is such a dubious exercise.

And while I have no idea who Luke Bracey is, he comes off–in this trailer, at any rate–as charisma-bereft as Keanu Reeves, so there’s at least that.

‘Thunderbirds’ Strike Again

There’s a new Thunderbirds series coming from ITV, which is a good thing.  The not-so-good-news is that the Anderson estate has nothing to do with it (if Jamie Anderson has a connection, he’s not telling), though perhaps that’s counterbalanced by Jonathan Frakes also having nothing to do with it, considering the mess that he made of the Thunderbirds movie.

Though what bugs me most of all is that Gerry Anderson–and by extension his estate–seems to have no stake in any of the series he was pivotal in creating, like Terrahawks, Stingray, UFO, Joe 90, etc, which means that whichever studio happens to hold the rights can put the name of an Anderson series on whatever drake they choose, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Which is why I have very little hope that the upcoming (someday?) reboot based on Anderson’s Space: 1999 (And you’re eyes aren’t playing tricks with you.  The article is indeed from 2012, which means whatever’s happening with Jace Hall and ITV, it sure as hell isn’t happening quickly).

‘Halloween’ (2007) Review

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 12.53.53 PM

“Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s classic horror film makes some bold choices, but cannot escape the long shadow of the original.”

I get what Rob Zombie is trying to do with his remake of John Carpenter’s groundbreaking 1978 film, Halloween,” but it fails for me primarily because it gives so much information.  The first half-hour or so is spent laying the groundwork for the existence of Carpenter’s monstrous creation, something Carpenter himself didn’t do (quite deliberately, in fact).  Zombie’s film is admittedly more grounded in a reality (of sorts) than Carpenter’s original.

What’s most interesting is that it’s that same realism that not only separates it from John Carpenter’s original, but by contrast shows you how much more effective it was, as well.

The Shape, the demonic charter created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, was most interesting BECAUSE you had no idea why he did what he did.  The character was essentially a violent force of nature, more akin to a tornado or hurricane than a human being.

Under Zombie’s reinterpretation, he’s a psychotic kid, who grows up to be a psychotic adult.

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‘Man Of Steel’ Review

Man Of Steel

Zach Snyder’s “Man Of Steel” is significantly better than I expected, though not nearly as entertaining as it could have been.

That’s probably one of the most weasely summations of a film that I have ever written, but it’s fitting.  Much is riding on “Man Of Steel” because if it succeeds – and early returns are making that look very likely  – it will be the opening salvo in Warner Bros. finally getting a Justice League film off the ground, which they hope will follow in the steps of Marvel Studios’ “The Avengers.”

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