Archive for March, 2012


John Carter of Mars (as it was named originally before becoming simply ‘John Carter‘) was meant to be the next huge franchise. At least, that was what Disney had hoped for anyway. Disney have had great success with the average Pirates of the Caribbean franchise but have failed to replicate this in recent years with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Tron: Legacy and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. John Carter, the budget suggests, was thought to be a sure fire hit.

Unfortunately, Disney has recently announced in a statement to shareholders that John Carter has made substantial losses. £126 million to be exact. So why did the film fail? Here are a few possible reasons.

Taylor Kitsch had a lot of expectations thrust upon him.

 

The Cast: The films boasts some recognisable names: Thomas Haden Church, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe and Bryan Cranston and usually this bodes well, but as good as they are none of them are that familiar with huge blockbusters (minus Dafoe in the first Spider-man film) or have a lot of mainstream cinema fans. The big risk was putting a relatively unknown actor in the lead role; Taylor Kitsch had a small part in X-men Origins: Wolverine but is best known for his role in television series Friday Night Lights. My point is, he is not a leading man, he is barely even a supporting man. He is not someone that Disney should have rested such huge expectations on.

 

The Marketing: This movie was given a lot of promotion, there have been trailers all over the television and internet for weeks, maybe even months. But none of the trailers really showed the audience what the film was about, there was nothing that could appeal to the audience or pull them in, nothing to hook viewers. Also, the name change from ‘John Carter of Mars‘ to just ‘John Carter‘ was a mistake in my opinion. At least with the reference to Mars in the title there is something different, it might interest science fiction fans more than just a person’s name would. The film could be about anyone!

Andrew Stanton: One of Pixar's finest but a risky choice?

The Director: This is not an insult to Andrew Stanton at all, more of an acknowledgement of the risk that was taken in his appointment. Stanton co-directed A Bug’s Life and directed himself Finding Nemo and Wall-E; all three are terrific films and he did a good job on them. But there is a difference between directing an animated film and directing a huge scale, big budget blockbuster. It was a risk taken by Disney, but if you’re not going to have an accomplished leading man then surely an accomplished live-action director is a must.

It’s All Been Done Before: The books on which John Carter is based were written over 70 years ago. They have influenced much of modern science fiction and therefore offers nothing new to the film scene anymore. Avatar, for example, used a similar storyline but did it on a much bigger scale. The characters were stronger, the inhabitants of another planet looked better and all in all the special effects were like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Newer science fiction, whilst based on John Carter, has left the source material behind leaving nothing fresh for that audience to see here.

Obviously there are more reasons that John Carter has flopped and these are just a few of my theories behind the huge losses. Disney may be slightly worried by the losses at the minute but with Pixar’s Brave coming up and Marvel’s The Avengers also arriving in cinemas over the next couple of months they can be in no doubt that they will make that money back easily.

Arrested for making such a horrible sequel.

When audiences enjoy a film, sometimes they want more, they feel like the character’s journey is not complete. They want to see their favourite characters on the big screen more than once and fall in love with them all over again. Yet when they get their wishes there is always a section of the fans who lambast the producers and film makers for daring to make a sequel and, in some cases, for ruining the first movie as well. So why is it difficult to make a sequel work? Below are some of the reasons I have picked out.

Attempts to be too clever: Ocean’s Twelve is the epitome of awful sequels. The first, Ocean’s Eleven, was brilliant; it brought charm, wit, humour, style and smooth to the screen. It was everything Ocean’s Twelve wasn’t. Twelve tried to run a clever storyline with a twist at the end and it didn’t work at all. It just ended up being a horrible, boring film and the less said about it, the better.

Iron Man 2 tried to run too many storylines with too many new characters.

Trying to do too much: A lot of sequels fall into this category. The first film sets up the characters and completes a story and then, in order to make the sequel better, writers, producers and directors try to cram too much into the next film and it takes away the experience because the storyline runs too thin. This is the case with sequels such as Iron Man 2, in which a lot of work is needed to be done in order to tie in to The Avengers appropriately and so that storyline is thinned out as well as the other storyline involving Whiplash and audiences are left with a boring, lacklustre sequel to a film that promised so much.

No returning cast members: Sometimes, the big wigs at production companies decide that they can make a sequel work even without the stars of the first film. The classic case of this is Grease 2. Grease had charm, loveable characters and great humour and the two leads were perfect: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. But the two decided they would not return for a sequel and it was made without them. In a sequel audiences want to see their favourite characters return to the screen, not be introduced to more random people.

Cashing in: It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a lot of sequels, if not all of them, are made to cash in on the commercial success of the original film. This leads to film makers taking good parts of the original film and making it more important in the sequel. An example of this is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End; everyone loves Captain Jack Sparrow in the first film, but he plays in support to the main story of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann and his appearances make the film comical.  In At World’s End, we are given too much Jack Sparrow to the point of huge annoyance.

The best of Bourne was saved for the third instalment.

The above are just a selection of some of the various reasons sequels do not work and a few examples of bad sequels. This is not to say that all sequels are bad. When done right they can add character development, build up great storylines and become some of the best films ever made. The Bourne Ultimatum, Spider-man 2, The Dark Knight and X2: X-men United are all examples of sequels getting it right.

UK Release Date: 27th April 2012.

The Five Year Engagement is Judd Apatow’s latest production. It has been co-written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller who co-wrote The Muppets, with Stoller also directing this time round.

The Five Year Engagement is a romantic comedy following Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) as their relationship becomes strained from the continued delays to their wedding once they have gotten engaged.

The trailer offers a few laughs here and there. Female audiences might find Emily Blunt’s attempts at quirky comedy to be funnier than I did but I can see that getting annoying if it continues throughout the film.

But is there really any point in going to see this film? The trailer tells you the whole story in less than three minutes. So, after this, it will be difficult for the movie to actually have any unpredictability factor about it at all.

So it seems as though Michael Bay is on a one man mission to destroy the childhood of millions. First, he enraged a large majority of Transformers fans with his franchise that consisted mainly of blowing things up and now he has incurred the wrath of millions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans with his latest announcement.

At the annual Nickelodeon presentation producer Michael Bay said of the loveable Turtles in their new film: “These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.”

Aliens?! The heroes in a half-shell are not aliens, they are mutants: Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles.

Seriously, what is Michael Bay’s problem?

I was looking forward to this film before the latest announcement. Changing the origin changes the whole story of the Turtles and the millions of people who grew up loving the green heroes tutored by a rat are set to be disappointed. And speaking of the mentor rat, Splinter, is he a mutant rat or another alien? Absolutely ridiculous!

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film has been slated for a Christmas 2013 release.

The Turtles' last film outing was an enjoyable CGI adventure back in 2007.

The first pictures of upcoming science fiction film Looper have been released.

Looper is a future noir, if you will, set in a world where time travel is possible but also illegal and only used on the black market. Organised crime syndicates use assassins known as ‘loopers’ to kill people they have sent back in time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays one of these assassins who runs into a little bit of difficulty when his future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to be assassinated.

These pictures are the first glimpses we have gotten of JGL as a younger Bruce Willis and he is looking more badass than ever before. He has bulked up, is carrying a pistol around and generally looking f**ked off with everything.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favourite actors working today and I think he has a lot of talent. Apparently, for this role he spent a lot of time studying Willis’ acting so that we, the audience, could believe he grows into the Bruce Willis we know today.

Out on September 28th in the UK, this is another great film to look forward to this year.

Aged just 20, Jennifer was nominated for an Oscar.

Jennifer Lawrence is not a name that mainstream cinema audiences may not be all that familiar with. Yet, now starring in what look set to be two of the decades biggest franchises (X-men and The Hunger Games) she looks set to conquer the world of cinema.

Lawrence began her career in television, having parts in Monk, Cold Case and Medium (although she only featured in one or two episodes of these) before she got her break in the American sitcom The Bill Engvall Show. This ran for three seasons and gave Lawrence a platform to build upon which she did.

Her first project after the sitcom was cancelled was a film called Winter’s Bone. Now, many people may not recognise the name but Jennifer Lawrence’s performance here was very well received and she became the second youngest person to be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. As well as the Oscar nomination she also won several awards at film festivals for this role. And so began a very promising film career.

As Mystique in Matthew Vaughn's X-men: First Class.

Roles in Like Crazy and The Beaver followed before Jennifer Lawrence made her debut in mainstream cinema with the X-men reboot/sequel (still nobody is quite sure what it is) X-men: First Class in which she played Mystique. This was the first real chance that mainstream audiences had to see her work and I thought she did a great job as Mystique and brought real character to the role and a believable friendship with Xavier and a sense of wanting to fit in that everyone feels at some point in their lives. This was her first big commercial success.

In 2011, it was announced that Lawrence had been cast in the leading role of The Hunger Games as Katniss Everdeen. This series looks set to be Hollywood’s next big film series to be adapted from books following Harry Potter and Twilight. And with Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role it can only elevate her career even more.

Jennifer Lawrence takes on the coveted role of Katniss in The Hunger Games.

It seems like she is choosing her roles carefully as she continues to interchange between mainstream movies and those that may not get her mainstream audiences but where she can put in a strong and heartfelt performance. House at the End of the Street is her next film and looks set to go under the radar before she returns with The Silver Linings Playbook and Serena, both co-starring Bradley Cooper.

On the red carpet, Jennifer Lawrence has been turning heads. Not just because of her looks but for her fashion choices as well which are always impeccable. With the acting talent she has combined with her image, she could well be a huge star in Hollywood for years to come. After all, she is still only twenty one.

UK Release Date: 21st September 2012.

On the Road is an adventure drama adapted from Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name. The story follows Dean and Sal, two young men who are the portrait of the ‘Beat Generation’. Their search for “It” results in a fast paced, energetic roller coaster ride with highs and lows throughout the U.S.

The film has been a long time in the making. In 1957 Jack Kerouac wrote a letter to Marlon Brando himself expressing interest in turning his novel into a film with Brando in one of the lead roles. Brando never replied. Then in 1979 Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights for the film. Since then several of the attempts to adapt novel to film have been shelved but we finally have it this year with Coppola in an executive producer role.

Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund play the two main characters. Riley is no stranger to these ‘coming of age’ sort of films and should excel in his performance. The supporting cast includes Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Terrence Howard and Steve Buscemi. Impressed?

The trailer looks like your ordinary story of a generation growing up, going through the highs and lows of life. But that doesn’t mean that the film doesn’t look good. On the Road has long been begging to be made and now it has been it looks like a job well done. We have to wait until September for the final piece but the trailer gives a lot to look forward to and a story to be fond of.

Christian Martyn takes on the lead role in a movie made for criticism.

It has been announced that the Home Alone film series is set to continue this Christmas with the fifth instalment of the tiresome and fatigued franchise.

The child in this film will be played by Christian Martyn and the character will be named Finn and, you guessed it, Finn is going to be a destructive kid who has to fight off thieves from his family’s house. Sound familiar?

The rest of the cast includes Malcolm McDowell, Edward Asner, Eddie Steeples and Demi Mazar. But what is the point, really?

Macaulay Culkin was the cute little kid that made the first two films work so well.

Home Alone and it’s first sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York did very well and the first one in particular is brilliant. It is full of the Christmas spirit, family, charm and really good humour. The sequels were not.

It may surprise millions of people to know that even a Home Alone 3 or Home Alone 4 existed because they were so dire, done terribly and had lost the charm of the series. Home Alone succeeded because it was something new, it appealed to kids and grown ups because of the humour but 3 and 4 just tried to replicate the formula and it did not succeed.

Home Alone 5 will not be hitting cinema screens and instead will be a made for television movie.

Simple maths... DiCaprio + Scorsese = Brilliance.

It has been reported that Leonardo DiCaprio is set to reunite with Martin Scorsese for the fifth time in his career. The film, this time, is a drama named The Wolf of Wall Street.

The film is based on the memoirs of white collar criminal and motivational speaker Jordan Belfort. DiCaprio is being tipped to play the “hard partying, drug addicted stockbroker” who served time in prison for security fraud and money laundering.

DiCaprio and Scorsese have previously worked together on Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island resulting in brilliant films every time. This is what we have come to expect when one of the world’s best directors teams up with one of the world’s leading actors and the same will be expected of The Wolf of Wall Street as it’s release gets closer.

Leonardo DiCaprio last starred in J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood, in hope for Oscar recognition but his performance fell short and the film whilst still received well, did not do as well as had been hoped.

With two films scheduled for released in December 2012 it seems likely that Dicaprio will gain another Oscar nomination considering that both films are prime Oscar-bait. One of them, The Great Gatsby, also stars the brilliant Carey Muligan and is being directed by Baz Luhrmann. The second, and the one with the most hype surrounding it’s release, is Django Unchained. This is Quentin Tarantino’s latest project and stars DiCaprio as the villain. With Tarantino’s last film, Inglorious Bastards, gaining Christoph Waltz an Oscar DiCaprio will be hoping for the same to happen to him.

UK Release Date: 11th May 2012.

Tim Burton has teamed up once more with regulars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter for Dark Shadows, a gothic comedy-drama film based on the cult television series of the same name.

Depp plays Barnabas Collins who is a wealthy playboy in 1752. After he breaks the heart of the witch Angelique (played by Eva Green) she casts a spell upon him, turning Barnabas into a vampire and burying him alive. However, Barnabas is accidentally discovered and released in 1972, finding his once magnificent manor inhabited by descendants of the Collins family, all of whom are harbouring their own secrets.

Tim Burton usually does well and with a cast like this, you would think he would be looking at a hit. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Christopher Lee, Chloe Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jackie Earle Haley make up the star studded cast.

The trailer has received negative comments from fans of the original television series for not being dark enough or not capturing the right aspect of humour that the soap opera played on, however I enjoyed it. I think Dark Shadows looks the better of Burton’s two films this year (the other being Frankenweenie) and I think Depp looks on form as the vampire, Barnabas. It feels, to me, a lot like Edward Scissorhands and I enjoyed that film so hopefully I shall enjoy this one too.