Tag Archive: the lone ranger


Back in 1975 Jaws became the highest grossing film to date. It’s arguably one of the most famous films ever that has been parodied and referenced in countless numbers of films and has a theme tune that everyone can hum and recognise. The release and the popularity of Jaws marked the arrival of the summer blockbuster, which would become a staple in the cinema calendar; the summer blockbuster spots are reserved for the biggest studios to bring out the big guns and rake in the profits over summer. The whole idea of a ‘blockbuster film’ has gone through celebration and survived criticism but you can not deny that they are still apparent and, as we have seen this year, are the most bankable films of the year. But the originality has gone, and with that so has some of the fun.

Among the top ten highest grossing films of the year so far there are eight films that have been released in the summer. Only one of those is an original concept: Pacific Rim. When Jaws was released it marked a trend of ‘event’ films that major studios released to compete with Jaws and its sequels. Taking this into account Pacific Rim seems like a typical summer blockbuster remade for a modern audience. It seems like everything a summer audience want: mindless action, giant robots fighting gigantic aliens and what’s more the film had major clout behind it as it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim only just managed to double its budget worldwide despite all the hype surrounding it and Idris Elba booming “today we are cancelling the apocalypse” before every other summer film that you would go and see. Of course, one reason why Pacific Rim could have fallen short of expectations is because Michael Bay did such an awful job with the Transformers film that any film with robots in will now be tossed aside without thought.

 

But then a film with fighting robots also became the fifth highest grossing film of all time: Iron Man 3. So this seems to suggest that that was not the only reason for Pacific Rim‘s failure to make a huge impression on the audience. In a world with so many sequels it is becoming more important to see those sequels when they come out, especially with what Marvel are doing with each film becoming a huge stable of cinema in itself and an unmissable event. People want to see what they already know because the first films are so good and successful that it gives a sequel credibility before it is even released. The likes of Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, Monsters University and even Despicable Me 2 cracked the top ten highest grossing films – all coming off the back of successful franchises or original films. World War Z and Man of Steel also join the list but they’re coming from hugely successful books and comic books. With World War Z it also seems to suggest that star power is also important for a summer blockbuster with Brad Pitt no doubt being responsible for some of the surprisingly huge audience the zombie action film found.

So what of Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp? Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet absolutely tanked at the box office in 2013. Smith’s After Earth and Cruise’s Oblivion both seemed pretty similar in their basic premise: Earth has been abandoned and now Will Smith/Tom Cruise come back to Earth and find out that it’s not as bare as they might have thought. It was assumed that one film would take the spoils because they were too similar but as it turned out, neither film did and both failed. Johnny Depp looked to bring a new franchise to the big screen and should have been more successful being as though The Lone Ranger is integrated in popular culture – everyone has heard “Hi-Yo, Silver!” at least once in their lives. But a difficult time in production seemed to put an end to any plans Disney had of making a sequel. And the less said about R.I.P.D the better.

 

Another one of the most anticipated films of the year was Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. After Blomkamp’s debut feature District 9 was an Oscar nominated film people were expecting something exceptional from Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. However, as of now it has only just managed to make back its budget and not set the world alight as people expected. Of course, a late summer release won’t have helped being as though it seems everyone had already spent their money on previously mentioned films. So why is it so hard to find a spot for originality in the summer months?

For me, I think it comes down to the cost of going to the cinema. Over summer the children are off school and people go to the cinema as a family. This means that you’re going to be spending around £25-£35 on tickets and then another £20ish on drinks and popcorn which makes it seem pretty expensive just to go and sit down for a couple of hours. Nobody wants to go and see a bad film at the cinema anyway but when it’s costing that much you want to know that you’re going to enjoy what you watch. Therefore, I believe people are more likely to go and see Iron Man 3 when Marvel have a spotless record and you’re guaranteed a great performance from Robert Downey Jr. rather than take a chance that something like R.I.P.D or Pacific Rim which you don’t know much about.

 

In the next couple of years we are going to see more Marvel films – Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The Man of Steel sequel featuring Batman is coming out too, the same as the seventh chapter of Star Wars and presumably a third in the new Star Trek trilogy: add to that another Fast & Furious film, a sequel to World War Z and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It seems like so many huge franchises are begging for people’s money that it seems impossible for anything new to turn heads. For the sake of cinema that has to change sooner rather than later.

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Slated for an October release in the UK, Seventh Son becomes the latest book series to be adapted into a film. However, you will probably not recognise the name of Joseph Delaney or his series The Wardstone Chronicles. This series of books is not as famous as the Harry Potter series, Twilight or even Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider saga, so it may be a bit of a risk choosing to adapt these books (for more than just this one reason which I will go into later). Even with a best seller you’re not guaranteed success, the failure of Stormbreaker put to bed any ideas that Point Blanc or the other Alex Rider stories may get the big film treatment no matter how much I hope and pray for it to happen… anyway, tangent ended, back to Seventh Son. Here’s the trailer:

Set in the 18th Century, the story revolves around young Thomas (Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame), the seventh son of a seventh son which in this world grants Tom with the ability to see things that others can not: boggarts, ghosts and other fantasy beings. Tom finds himself apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight against the evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

As you can see, in the trailer you get the carefully worded “inspired by the acclaimed series” rather than “based on…” which suggests Seventh Son is not going to be a straight adaptation. Although this decision has already angered some fans (but you always get the few who can’t stand to see any change to source material), I believe this is actually a smart choice: The Wardstone Chronicles does not carry the same fan base other book series’ do so this is an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. The story of a boy being trained in his craft has been done (Harry Potter, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Percy Jackson) and to attempt to place another origin story into a saturated market would make no sense at all, therefore, taking elements from other books in the series as well will help speed along the story. Hopefully it won’t be a case of too many ingredients just thrown in with no time given to story or character development.

The Wardstone Chronicles

The other promising factor for Seventh Son is the acting talent attached to the project. Of course, Ben Barnes is relatively new but making steady progress in his career, however he is supported by Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, four time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and two time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou just for good measure. The director is Sergei Bodrov who is a Russian filmmaker who has twice had his features nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Prisoner of the Mountains, Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan). At one time Jennifer Lawrence was also attached to star, meaning that the script must have some merit to it. Now this is not to say that I think Seventh Son is going to clean up at the Oscars, far from it, but I do believe that with this talent on board there is definitely potential and it has more chance of being a good film than a bad one.

So it’s based on an acclaimed book series, has huge talent starring and directing, the trailer is action packed and exciting. So why would it be a surprise hit? Well first of all: it’s fantasy. And unless you happen to be bringing out a new Harry Potter film or The Hobbit then fantasy is a no go genre, that’s been proven time and time again. The trailer brings back memories to me of Black Death and Solomon Kane, two films I actually very much enjoyed but both fared poorly at the box office and with critics; when making fantasy you have to KNOW you have a hit, otherwise it’s all been a waste of time.

Other problems involve the dreaded moving of the release date. While it doesn’t sound like much the moving of a release date can be a sure fire signifier of a flop. In this case Seventh Son has been pushed back all the way from February this year to January next in the USA, I’m still skeptic that we’ll even get it in October in the UK. This move has been due to post production needing finishing, the same reason that The Lone Ranger is currently flopping on it’s stomach in the States (one of MANY reasons if early reviews are to be believed). This is not always the case, The Great Gatsby became a hit despite the moving of that release date but that has Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, Seventh Son does not.

Problems continue when you look further below the surface and see that the script has gone through a couple of rewrites. Again, never a good thing as when a script gets re-written you can see that the film has been dragged in several different directions by people who come on board with a separate view for the story and no respect for the work done by their predecessor (the most recent example of this being World War Z where the ending was rehashed). Even worse, Rhythm and Hues Studios who provide the visual effects for Seventh Son actually went bankrupt while working on the film; Legendary Pictures agreed to give $5million to the company to help them finish their work so this may or may not have hindered the project.

As you can see, Seventh Son is not without it’s problems. But upon it’s release people won’t be looking behind the screen at the difficulties the film has had getting there; they will be looking at the quality that is being presented to them. Ever since I first heard about this film I have been silently excited; the story, the genre and the theme is right up my street and something of a geeky pleasure for myself. I have been excited by the trailer and think that there is clearly plenty of potential here. To release on a quieter week in summer may have been a risk but it is one that could have paid off. Now, however, I can only see this being a flop and it pains me so much to say that.

The Lone Ranger Trailer

UK Release Date: 9th August 2013.

Stars: Gore Verbinski (director), Arnie Hammer, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, James Badge Dale

Plot: Native American spirit warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

Almost everything about this trailer is poor. Right from the start with the awfully boring voice over to the minuscule action scenes that tell us absolutely nothing about the characters or story. When I watch a trailer I want to be impressed and made to look forward to a film, I want to be told something about the characters or the plot that gives me indication to watch; I don’t want to just see Johnny Depp looking up from under a train.

The only good thing that comes of this trailer is that Helena Bonham Carter actually looks as though she belongs in this setting which is more than can be said for any of the other main actors that feature in this minute and a half trailer. It’s a risk putting Arnie Hammer as the lead man seeing as though he’s not been a lead before (the same risk earlier this year with Taylor Kitsch cost Disney millions) and I can’t help but feel that Johnny Depp is miscast and I think that it might get pretty annoying hearing him through the entirety of the film with that accent.

To me it looks as though Disney have another flop on their hands. This does nothing to inspire the fun or the great sotrytelling that Disney films are usually associated with. When promo pictures for The Lone Ranger were first released they were met with negativity, the same has happened with the trailer on internet forums. Oh dear.

Now, the title of this post may be a little bit controversial and may leave people wondering “what on Earth are you talking about?”. After all, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is one of the biggest franchises in cinema history and Johnny Depp actually received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of one of the most famous characters of all time: the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow. Before I get started, I would like to say that I am a big fan of the character of Jack Sparrow and have previously named him as my favourite role of Johnny Depp’s; I have also stated previously that I believe Johnny Depp to be one of the best actors not to have won an Oscar. So why do I think this?

I honestly think that Johnny Depp is one of the most versatile actors of his generation, or at least he was earlier in his career. He has starred in a number of very successful films and his characters have been very varied throughout his career: from Ed Wood to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, from Alice in Wonderland to From Hell. Time and time again Depp has shown that he can bring his A game to the table at every opportunity. That is until he fell in love with the character of Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack Sparrow was the first (and to date the only) character that Johnny Depp has returned to and played on more than one occasion, four in total with a fifth and sixth movie in the pipeline. So far we have seen Captain Jack Sparrow in Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End and On Stranger Tides. I believe that the choice to play Jack Sparrow is one that, if he wanted to win an Oscar, Johnny Depp should have steered clear from. As the Pirates franchise has got longer and longer the films have got worse and worse; the first was brilliant and quite rightly Depp was nominated for an Oscar for his performance; the second was good; third was very very long, confusing, boring and painful, whilst the fourth received mostly negative reviews and was the first in the series not to gain any Oscar nominations at all. If this pattern continues then Depp will surely become nothing more than simply a forgotten man.

For some reason, Depp’s other films outside the Pirates franchise have been very mediocre, verging on the line between average and bad largely. With the exception of Rango, Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd Depp’s other films have been regularly panned by critics and audiences alike. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dark Shadows, The Tourist, The Rum Diary and I think it is fair to say that anticipation for The Lone Ranger movie is very low indeed after poorly received promotional shots.

This is not to say that Depp’s versatility as an actor has gone. What I think has happened is that people now can only see Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow because of how iconic the character has become. This is the same way in which people recognise Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Sylvester Stallone as Rocky or Rambo and Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Therefore I believe that when people watch Johnny Depp in his more recent films what audiences are actually hoping for is to see Jack Sparrow on the screen rather than Johnny Depp and there is no way that this can ever work in Depp’s favour.

Depp’s taste in suits are almost as versatile as his early career.

I still hold out hope that Depp wins an Oscar one day as I feel that his career really does deserve it, but I do think that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a sinking ship and Depp needs to get away from it to further advance his career.

Johnny Depp is not having the greatest time at the minute, both in the film world and in his personal life. He recently split from wife Vanessa Paradis and it has been reported by the Daily Mail that while the couple were still together Depp was getting close to ‘multiple women including his publicist’ and he has been romantically linked to The Rum Diary co star Amber Heard. He also looks set to have to pay Paradis a huge £100million in the divorce, but lets focus on his film career here.

Depp was once one of the most popular, consistent and versatile actors working in Hollywood and his back catalogue of films looks impressive: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, From Hell, Secret Window and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It is a career that has seen Depp nominated for three Oscars in his time and despite not winning any just yet he has been praised as one of the best actors working today (a statement which I am in full support of). However, his career does seem to have taken a turn for the worse.

I think his decline started when he agreed to play Captain Jack Sparrow in more than one film because it is obvious to anyone who even has a passing interest in films that the Pirates franchise just keeps getting worse the longer it goes on and yet Depp continues to star in them. Despite that though, he still managed to churn out Public Enemies, Corpse Bride and Rango in between the doomed franchise. Yet these are just a few of his films, lets look at the rest.

Johnny Depp’s films used to be critically acclaimed every single time, it was one of the only certainties in life, along with the fact that Kristen Stewart will not smile and Russell Brand will never be a good actor. But in 2010, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, in which Johnny Depp starred as the Mad Hatter got very mixed reviews, a lot of them being negative. Despite this though, the film is the eleventh highest grossing film of all time! But then he teamed up with Angelina Jolie for The Tourist. The Tourist received negative reviews across the board. It was, however, nominated for Golden Globes for Best Comedy or Musical and Depp and Jolie received Best Actor and Actress nominations respectively. It was these nominations that saw the Golden Globes as a laughing stock that year because The Tourist is neither a comedy or a musical but is in fact a very bad film; when the nominees were announced to the press it is reported that the press room erupted with laughter at The Tourist‘s nominations.

The Rum Diary came in 2011 and was expected to be a hit with Depp at the centre of it. However, The Rum Diary also received negative reviews from critics and failed to make back even half of its relatively low budget $45million. It seemed that Depp’s box office draw was waning by now. Most recently Depp starred in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and even this film bombed at the box office, pulling in only a small profit. Depp’s next project is The Lone Ranger where he will be portraying Tonto but early reaction to the pictures of him in this role has not been overly positive and it could prove to be another flop.

And now, in the midst of all the trouble in his personal life, production on another future film of his The Thin Man, a noir remake of 1934 classic, has stalled. Apparently this delay is due to concerns with the budget, perhaps films are unwilling to finance Depp films as much as they once were. His box office draw does seem to be faltering slightly, there is no denying that and with Pirates of the Caribbean 5 set to be made with Depp still portraying Captain Jack Sparrow you do have to worry for the future of his career. Johnny Depp is often hailed as one of the best actors to never win an Oscar (not just by me) but he is in danger of going out with a rather large blemish on the end of his career. I, for one, hope that this proves to just be a blip and that he returns to golden form once again very very soon!