Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Most film critics don't contact the authorities...

This is kind of funny, so I thought I would share it with everyone.

Roughly two years ago, I had a major argument with a (now former) friend over the phone. Ugly and nasty things were said, mostly by me, and the phone call went on for a good twenty minutes before either of us hung up. That was the last time either of us talked to one another, and I've never felt the need to look back.

Fast forward to present time.

Last week, I posted a quick blog entry parodying a current series of Pledge commercials. In it, a young woman is locked in a glass box by Jigsaw and forced to clean a dirty kitchen or face a gruesome death. I gave the female character in the brief screenplay excerpt a common woman's name, picked at random, and quickly moved on to other writing projects. Apparently, I'm the only one who moved on.

This morning, I received an email from that old former friend of mine. It turns out that I inadvertently gave the young woman in the blog post the same first name as his wife. He has informed me that he has taken this as a threat against her, and has informed police of the blog post. It also seems that I accidentally invited them to several social networking sites ten times over the past two years (they had a dated list of all ten occurrences), so he's adding those to the list and accusing me of harassment as well.

This is funny for several reasons:

1) I honestly didn't use his wife's name on purpose. I mean, really. Two years later, and sudenly I'm out for blood?

2) No harm actually comes to the young lady in the SAW VI parody screenplay snippet.

3) It was a parody piece. You know, like humor and stuff?

...and most importantly...

4) The fact that they saw this post and mentioned in their email that it appeared on several of my blogs (two, actually) means that, in all likeliness, they have been monitoring all of my blogs and internet output OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS!

For two years they have watched my every move, waiting for me to tip my hat and expose my devious master plan, watching wide-eyed in anticipation for any kind of sign that I am about to unleash the hounds of Hell! Apparently, the name I used in this blog post was the moment they were waiting for.

I'm sorry, but I find this all rather hilarious.

As funny as it may be, however, I have no need for petty quarrels. I especially don't need to incur the paranoid wrath of someone who apparently plans to report me to the authorities whenever I write something he doesn't like, or inadvertently name a character after someone in his immediate family.

Fear not! I will not be censoring myself in future works, no matter how many cyber-stalkers I attract in the years to come. But, just to help others move on with their lives, I am going back to my SAW VI posts and changing the name of the young woman in the humorous post to Judith. It is my hope that this small action will cure cancer, and world hunger, and allow the poor delusional souls of the world sleep a little easier tonight.

I just hope I don't know anyone named Judith...

Fox Looking to "Reboot" Fantastic 4 Franchise

I am not a fan of the Fantastic 4 movies. I didn't even read the comic book. This doesn’t mean that this film franchise can’t be great.

Fox is looking to wash away your stained memories of just about everything you’ve seen so far and “reboot” the franchise as a whole. This is easier said than done. They’ll need quality writer/writers, a skilled director and, most of all, actors with enough chops to pull it off. I was not impressed with any of these aspects in the previous F4 movies. Fox is said that they want to make the series ‘less bubble gum’. I think that means they want them to suck less.

They’ve obviously been watching the success of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, both of which raked in oodles of cash with more adult and serious comic book themes. Fox actually had a director that wanted to turn the F4 franchise in that direction, and they blew it. That man is of course Iron Man director himself Jon Favreau. They must be shaking their heads and kicking themselves on a daily basis. They opted out of Favreau's vision, and decided to go with Tim Story, whose previous works were Taxi and Barbershop. Yet another brilliant executive decision by FOX.

If this franchise overhaul does happen, and I’m sure it will, expect either the same actors with much darker roles, or an entirely new cast playing completely retooled characters. I would prefer new actors, but FOX probably figures it would be too dangerous to do that.

As much as I disliked the first two films, just remember of how bad it could really get. Here’s a little taste of what could possibly be a nominee for the next Bad Movie Day If we decide on comic book movies as the theme. I give you my first nomination, Roger Corman’s 1994 atrocity, The Fantastic Four.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Worthington to replace Bale?

Will we hear up and coming Sam Worthington utter the words “I’m Batman” for the next film in line? Rumors circulating all over the Internet say the Terminator Salvation co-star will. When Christian Bale went crazy on DOP Shane Hurlbut on the set of T4 it’s said that his reputation has been stained so much that Warner wants him out. Unfortunately I don’t believe this for one second and neither should you. This and the fact that Bale is contracted for at least one more film and there isn’t even a script or casting yet make it hard to believe.

Christopher Nolan and Bale have a great relationship on and off screen. There is no way that Nolan would let someone like Bale go. His talent (albeit having temper issues) is unprecedented. I’ve personally never seen a film he’s been in and walked away disgusted. Hell, even Shaft was enjoyable because of you guessed it, Bale.

More on reality though. The franchise has been rejuvenated by both Nolan and Bale. One on set spat that if looked at hard enough could almost be accepted as what should have been done. You see, Hurlbut was a repeat offender of getting in the way of camera shots and fidgeting with lights. He’s done it several times on other films too. Of course Bale had no right to act like a dick about it but I do understand.

Here’s what Nolan and Bale (Health Ledger too of course) have brought to the table from just The Dark Knight Alone:

*The largest opening weekend in movie history at $158,000,000.

*The largest IMAX opening ever at $6,800,000 and $55,000,000 total gross.

*Only second in domestic gross to Titanic at $533,000,000 and the largest grossing comic book movie ever.

*Over one Billion (yeah, billion) in total gross worldwide and only the 4th film to ever do it.

*Over 12.4 million DVD units sold for an additional $212,000,000 in revenue.

*The best selling Blu-ray disc ever with close to 3 million units sold worldwide.

So in short if the rumors are true and a new face and possibly a new director (as Nolan would probably walk), the franchise could be in the hands of someone else and that would be quite unpredictable. Whereas if they keep the formula that has worked for two films and almost guaranteed for a third, it’s the ultimate cash cow.

I’m betting this all bullshit but if there is one glimmer of truth to it, it wouldn’t be the first time Warner has let down the fans of this franchise.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Watchmen's Bad Reviews

Let me briefly say to all the reviewers who obviously haven't read ANY of the original source material (who are easily spotted by the way):

THIS FILM WAS NOT MADE FOR YOU! Please review something else instead..Paul Blart perhaps?

If you're a fan and didn't like it, i have INFINITELY more respect for that than the above.

That is all...

Alan Moore is a Complete and Utter Jackass

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess to being a longtime comic book fan. Not a fanboy; I could never gather up enough excitement and wonder to attain that status. But like the many personalities behind Monster Rally, who all met and assembled at Metropolis Comics, I enjoyed comics immensely. And we all enjoyed The Watchmen. It was the bible all of mature comic readers, and none of us could ever be caught without a copy.

The Watchmen is, in our collective opinion, one of the greatest comic books ever written. We are all connected to The Watchmen, albeit some more than others. For example, one of my old friends from the days of Metropolis Comics, Gerard, loved The Watchmen as much as anybody. Now, two decades later, his band My Chemical Romance has a song featured in the film adaptation's soundtrack. So, needless to say, my affection for this classic work knows no bounds.

Sadly, I must also confess that I am a little less enthusiastic about the author.

Alan Moore has been an outspoken critic of every film ever based on his comic books. Of course, as he will happily admit, he’s never had anything to do with any of them. In fact, he has always refused any creative consultation on any of them. He is also of the strong opinion that none of them have ever come close to capturing the spirit or essence of anything he has ever written. Of course, he’s never seen any of them. He refuses to. Why? Because they aren’t any good, of course. In fact, Alan Moore is not a fan of movies at all. Not that he watches any of them, which he doesn’t. Why should he, if none of them are any good? Interesting logic for a man regarded as a highly intelligent literary figure.

Famous authors have often rallied against Hollywood, usually after they’ve sold out to it. Anne Rice spent a great deal of time bad mouthing the casting and story of Interview With a Vampire, then ended up taking out a full page apology in Variety. Stephen King got bent out of shape when the adaptation to The Lawnmower Man bore nothing in common with his short story by the same name, which featured a lawn care worker who ran around naked eating grass before eviscerating the lawn’s owner. He retaliated by writing a horror film of his own called Sleepwalkers, which ended up being far worse than Lawnmower Man. Clive Cussler threatened legal actions against the Hollywood version of Sahara, mainly because the screenwriters keep insisting on giving his Dirk Pitt series characters recognizably human personalities. Michael Crichton panned the film version of Jurassic Park and complained that people in Hollywood were ‘Stupid’, then proceeded to sell them the rights to his other titles so they could keep up the good work.

Where Alan Moore parts company with these other authors is that he consistently refuses communication with anyone involved, while simultaneously insisting that they have no idea what they are doing. Much like Ralph Bakshi, who made himself even more irrelevant that he had previously been (this was before Cool World) by declaring that Peter Jackson could never come close to adapting Tolkien the way he did in the animated Lord of the Rings, Moore has rejected Zach Snyder’s attempt to adapt his comic to the big screen with absolutely no knowledge of how it was being done. When asked about film adaptation of The Watchmen by The Los Angeles Times, Moore gleefully stated that when it finally came out, he would be “…spitting venom all over it.”

It is almost surprising, considering his distaste for any adaptations of his work, how eager he is to give interviews about how much he hates them. Surprising, that is, until you realize that he isn’t really talking about how bad the films are, but rather how great he is. These interviews usually start off with an explanation of how the film in question will never come close to mimicking his poetic genius, and eventually wrap up with the interviewer asking Moore’s opinions about government policies and world affairs as if he is Noam Chomsky, and not a guy who writes comic books. He hates these films so much, he can’t stop talking about them.

The irony to this is that the last two film adaptations of his work, V for Vendetta and The Watchmen, are two of the most faithful translations of a comic book to the big screen ever made, right along with Sin City and 300. I’ve heard some Moore fans bitch and moan about how V for Vendetta wasn’t faithful enough, and all I can recommend is that they go watch the first four Batman movies, follow it up with a double feature of Daredevil and The Spirit, and shut the hell up.

Moore’s main complaint about the adaptations of his work is no doubt what many critics will use as their crutch, that these films can never truly copy the experience of reading the comic book. This argument, of course, is pure and simple crap. Of course a movie can’t deliver the same experience as a comic book. It can’t deliver the same experience as a novel, either. It is a different form of media, which is why you have to adapt it. If that is your main argument against the film, then you had no business watching it in the first place. Stop criticizing movies for being movies and get over it.

To be fair, Moore doesn’t just restrict himself to criticizing an entertainment industry he has no experience in and knows nothing about. He’s also very critical of the publishing world that brought about his success, the comic book industry. When I say critical, I mean he hates it. His hatred of DC Comics is somewhat understandable, as they apparently tried to cut him out of merchandising royalties during the initial success of The Watchmen. But he also has strong words for the rest of the industry, and for comic books themselves, which he firmly believes are still stuck in the same clich├ęd format that they were when he first started writing for them. Of course, he readily admits in interviews that he doesn’t read comic books anymore (except maybe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which he writes), so at least his opinion of the industry’s current state is fully informed.

Of course, there is one film that Alan Moore likes. He not only approves of it, but also stars in it, mainly because the subject matter is close to his heart. The documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore, for the most part, is over an hour of Alan Moore sitting in his home and telling a camera what he thinks about his art and the world. Moore may not like films or comic books, but there is one thing he still enjoys with a passion: the sound of his own voice.

All writers share two universal drives; an overwhelming desire to entertain, and a love of hearing themselves talk. When writers lose that first drive, they cease to be writers. They become advocates, politicians, protestors, leaders, advertisers, or sitcom staff writers. Or, they occasionally become wild-eyed lunatics preaching against the evils of a world they rarely visit and no nothing about.

There is always an irresistible urge to compare writers to their creations, and it is one I am not immune to. While some might compare Moore to the delusional Rorschach or megalomaniacal Ozymandias, I think he bears a closer resemblance to Dr. Manhattan. Like the good doctor, Alan Moore is a simple man who was given a gift of creative power, and in the process of utilizing it, lost touch with humanity. Of course, Dr. Manhattan came to understand the human race and left to possible create his own, while Moore grew his hair out and attempted to become the next Harry Potter, so there are flaws to the comparison.

So, I don’t agree with Alan Moore. Is that any reason to resort to name calling? No, of course it isn’t. But my argument isn’t that he is egocentric, obnoxious, and runs around looking like Rasputin the Mad Monk telling the comic and film industry how much they suck. My problem with him is that he consistently manages to spit in the face of everything that has made him the legend he is today. Like most entertainment personalities who go on to become boorish egomaniacs, his ultimate sin is that he bought into his own hype. Enough people called him an artistic genius and a literary god that he actually believed it.

Now he has eyes only for himself, for there can be no other but him. His contempt for comic books spills over to the fans, and his resentment of films attempting to translate his works into another format spills over to his own fans. You’re stupid if you read any other comic books but his, and you’re stupid if you liked any of the films based on his comics. In fact, you’re stupid if you like any films at all. In short, Alan Moore wants us to know that barely any of us has any taste, and that nearly all of the other comic authors and filmmakers out there have no real talent. And that, as far as I am concerned, is what makes him a total ass hat.

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Weekend Box Office Estimates 3/6 - 3/8

1 Watchmen WB $55,655,000
2 Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail LGF $8,800,000
3 Taken Fox $7,450,000
4 Slumdog Millionaire FoxS $6,925,000
5 Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony $4,200,000
6 He's Just Not That Into You WB (NL) $4,020,000
7 Coraline Focus $3,313,000
8 Confessions of a Shopaholic BV $3,121,000
9 Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience BV $2,785,000
10 Fired Up SGem $2,600,000

Who watches The Watchmen? Enough people to garner up a very healthy $55.6 million at the box office, that's who.

Although my expectations were for a much higher weekend total, one thing I forgot to take into consideration was the film's lengthy run time. Coming in at a whopping 2hrs 43min, it is no surprise that the movie made what it did opening weekend. Most theaters were only able to squeeze in three showings a day per screen, where your average ninety minute feature can manage almost double that.

Despite the length, Watchmen still sold out to theaters across the country, and even made $5.5 million at IMAX's over the weekend. This puts it second only to The Dark Knight, which garnered $6.8 million in the same venues. This and the fact that it was rated R (although we did have children in the theater when we saw it) had an impact on ticket sales. More important is the fact that it was as long as it was and that it was rated R, meant one thing: They got it right.

I've been doing a lot of homework to see if there is going to be any kind of director's cut. Not only is there going to be a director's cut, but an Ultimate Watchmen cut is also being planned. What does this mean?

Theatrical cut: 2hrs 43min, to be released on Blu-ray and DVD July 2009

Director's cut: 3hrs 10min, to be released on Blu-ray and DVD July 2009

Ultimate Watchmen: 3hrs 25min, (it could actually be longer) to be released on Blu-ray and DVD Fall 2009.

The 'Ultimate Cut' is special in that it will include the Black Freighter animated film, to be weaved back into the film and paced the same way as it was in the original the graphic novel. As quoted from Snyder himself, this cut will feature just about EVERYTHING he has for the movie. The downside is that a Fall release means that the release date could be as late as Dec 20th! Considering the fact that FOX is screwing them royally, it is understandable why they would pull a Lucas by releasing different versions of the film over a period of time in order to scartch up some more DVD sales. I'm letting you slide Warner, just this once.