Posts Tagged 'disney'



Vader helmet

Welcome back, friends. Please forgive my lack of productivity in this space through pretty much all of 2015, but I’ve had quite a bit going on out in the real world. On top of that, I’m much more interested in creating my own work than I am reacting to the work of others, which is what I do most of the time on this blog. That’s a result of simply wanting to get things off my chest, and over the past year I’ve become pretty good about being able to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts contained inside my head. This is my first full review since I analyzed Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April of 2014. Fuck, it has been awhile, hasn’t it?

Reviewing Star Wars movies has always been tough for me. And by “tough”, I mean “nearly impossible”. The original trilogy, collectively, occupies the #1 slot on my list of favorite movies of all time. When I watch those movies, I don’t see actors and cinematography and writing, I am watching a story unfold, nothing more. I’m not thinking at all about how it was made. That’s because I became passionate about Star Wars before I knew I was passionate about filmmaking. When it comes to the prequels, I don’t like talking about them because of how disappointing they are. I’ve never gone as far as most in saying they outright suck, but I freely admit they are a mess. I can still watch them and enjoy doing so, but they don’t feel like the original movies at all, and I’d have a very tough time watching all 6 in order, because the gap in style, both visually and in storytelling, between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope would be too big a jump to make in my mind. I’m also bitter that the way Anakin Skywalker was handled in the prequels makes original trilogy Darth Vader much less badass, which is a cinematic felony.

On to current events! Back when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and sent George Lucas packing, I posted my reaction to the news [HERE] and then did another piece reacting to the announcement of J.J. Abrams as Episode VII’s director [HERE]. I originally pegged Abrams’ selection at only a 2% chance of happening. In hindsight, that was foolish, but I based that doubt on the fact that I refused to believe that they’d hire the same guy who rebooted Star Trek to also revive Star Wars. I viewed that as some sort of celestial paradox. Minus the Star Trek factor, I approved of Abrams doing this, and I still approve now after we’ve all seen the finished product. Episode VII needed to be directed by a Star Wars fan, and Abrams has proven his worthiness in that regard. In many people’s views, his love for the original films is too evident in Force Awakens, but we’ll get to that.

Without further ado, let’s get straight into it. Needless to say, SPOILERS APLENTY AHEAD!


A New Hope: George Lucas gives up control over STAR WARS

October 30, 2012: a date that will live in infamy. I keep re-reading the title to this post. I had to double check the calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. I can’t believe this has actually happened. I never thought I’d live to see the day where George Lucas willingly relinquished control over Star Wars.

In a deal that has reportedly been in the works since last summer, Disney will buy Lucasfilm and its valuable San Francisco-based subsidiaries (including the best visual effects company on Earth, Industrial Light & Magic, and the best post-production audio facility in the industry, Skywalker Sound) for a reported $4.05 billion, all of it going to Lucas, who owned 100% of the company. You know, because George Lucas didn’t have enough money already. Actually, to be fair, Lucas is apparently pledging most of this windfall to various education initiatives he’s backing, which is pretty cool.

Continue reading ‘A New Hope: George Lucas gives up control over STAR WARS’

Mo-Cap Dies, Robert Zemeckis is reborn?

This past weekend, while many moviegoers were out seeing Battle: Los Angeles ($35.6 million), Rango ($22.6 million), Red Riding Hood or The Adjustment Bureau, what Hollywood didn’t expect was that pretty much no one would go out and see Mars Needs Moms, which took in a tepid $6.9 million off more than 3,100 screens. And that’s WITH the film’s premium 3D ticket prices factored in. A $6.9 million debut on its massive $150 million budget sets it up to be one of the biggest financial disasters in recent memory. For one thing, I don’t yet understand how animated movies’ budgets are constructed, but I can’t fathom how any of them can cost anything close to that much money. Ridiculous.


Why do even I bring this up? Oh, I’ll tell you. As it turns out, this box office catastrophe may have brought about some of the best news I’ve heard in years out of Hollywood. I never intended on seeing Mars Needs Moms, and I really had no idea who was behind it. I didn’t even realize (or care) that it was one of those motion capture movies (made famous recently by Robert ZemeckisPolar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol), and that Zemeckis himself was one of the producers. First things first, for once I can give a “Bravo!” to American audiences. This epic fail proves that Hollywood can’t just dump any computer-animated movie they want onto us, tack on an extra charge for 3D, and expect it to gross $200 million.

Moreover, and because Hollywood is so panicky and reactionary, it may have put an end to Robert Zemeckis’ second career as a mo-cap filmmaker. This pleases me greatly. In case you need reminding, Robert Zemeckis is the guy who directed the Back to the Future movies, as well as Contact, Forrest Gump and Cast Away. ALL of these are among my favorites of all-time, and until recently I’d always listed Zemeckis as my third favorite/most influential director (behind Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Cameron). Cast Away came out 11 goddamn years ago, and that was the last time he made a live-action film. I’ve died inside a little bit with each subsequent year that Zemeckis has, in my view, WASTED his time and talents making these soulless computer-animated, motion-capture movies. Until this week, he had been planning ANOTHER mo-cap movie as his next project, and was in fact deep into working on it. It was going to be- get this- a mo-cap remake of the Beatles‘ movie Yellow Submarine. No, I’m not kidding. That’s what he wanted to spend 2 years of his life working on. I mean, I couldn’t have picked a less interesting project for Zemeckis out of a hat that also had Saw 8, Fast and the Furious 6, and a Polar Express sequel as other options. Disney has now pulled the plug on Yellow Submarine, which all but kills it. Last year, they shut down Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital, which is his production company for all these mo-cap turds. In theory, another studio could now say, “Hey, WE want to spend $100 million+ on a Yellow Submarine remake!”, but that’s incredibly unlikely to happen. HUZZAH!!!

So what does this all mean? What makes this worth writing about is that I’m hoping it means that we as moviegoers get Robert Zemeckis, one of the best storytellers in cinema history, back in the real world making real movies. Hopefully he’s had his fun with these other projects, and will not stubbornly pursue them further. That’s right, Bobby Z, it’s time to film real human actors in front of a camera again on real sets and at real locations. Not human actors wearing skintight suits with hundreds of little dots all over them tracking their every twitch for the computer so they can be animated later. This is one instance where a box office disaster may do us all some good as moviegoers. Like I said, there’s a real chance here that we may get one of our best directors back from out of the computer-filled cave he’s been hiding in for the last 10 years.

I hope.

P.S. Motion capture gets another chance this December with the long-awaited (not by me) release of Steven Spielberg & Peter Jackson‘s collaboration on Tin-Tin. Far be it for me to root against a movie made by two of my heroes, but…sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good.




It would only be fitting for today’s Recommended Listening to come from Zemeckis and his longtime composer, the great Alan Silvestri, and one of their many collaborations: