Talking Movies

February 2, 2011

2011: Fears

The franchise is over, please go home
Man of the hour Andrew Garfield is your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man in Spider-Man 4. If ever a franchise needed a reboot less it was Spider-Man. Inexplicably back in high school Spidey will again bond with Martin Sheen’s ill-fated Uncle Ben, perhaps actually have a relationship with Gwen Stacey at the second cinematic attempt, and once again become a masked crime-fighter. Just like he already did in 2002. Are we operating on dog-years now or something that we’re remaking films we’ve just seen? What’s next, a remake of Sin City using new computer technology to make it good? Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides sees Johnny Depp spend the last remnants of his credibility on another instalment in a now thoroughly despised franchise. Pirates 3: At World’s End was a nigh endless joyless bore that sucked all the comedic energy out of the franchise in favour of convoluted plotting and purely green-screen action to the point of insanity. No one liked it. It’s even embarrassed away nearly its whole cast, and Russell Brand passed on appearing, so why make another one? Mission: Impossible 4 meanwhile sees over-rated Ratatouille director Brad Bird attempt to make Tom Cruise a viable star again despite the obvious fact that no one wants to see him top-lining blockbusters anymore. Mission: Impossible 3 was a damn good blockbuster whereas Mission: Impossible 2 was a bloated disaster, yet, despite the effect of 6 years worth of inflation on the box-office figures, M:I-3 made less money than M:I-2. Cruise’s star has dimmed, he just hasn’t accepted it yet.

A sequel? There wasn’t enough to make one good film
Cars 2 – coming soon. Yes, the very worst film Pixar have ever made gets a sequel. Cars followed the underwhelming The Incredibles and enabled a streak of 4 ho-hum films, with the unbearable Ratatouille and the hit-and-miss Wall-E confirming that not only can Pixar do wrong, but they can do wrong spectacularly. Fear this film. The Hangover 2 meanwhile sees Bill Clinton make an acting cameo beside the re-united original cast. The Hangover wasn’t a very good film, for all its baffling success here. It had some very funny moments but overall it was the same crudely moronic shtick we expect from writer/director Todd Philips, the maker of Starsky & Hutch, one of the very worst films of the last or any other decade. Rise of the Planet of the Apes comes a whopping 10 years after Tim Burton’s lamentable re-make of the Charlton Heston classic. We’re promised genetic engineering by James Franco with Tom Felton, intelligent apes, and apocalyptic war to boot, and who cares?? The endless sequels in the 1970s were riffing off a great film. This is a prequel to one of the very worst films of the 2000s.

You screwed up last time
Michael Bay has actually apologised for the unholy mess that was Transformers 2, and that’s quite something given how ludicrously profitable a movie that was. Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon sees Megan Fox leaving the franchise, but from the trailer it looks like it still has enough racial profiling in its approach to characterisation to keep the California branch of the ACLU tied up for years. Can it really only be 4 years since the original movie was a surprisingly fun blast? The writers’ strike is largely responsible for the disastrous outing last time but can the properly working writers save things now, and perhaps not introduce about 40 new robots this time round? Scream 4 comes out 11 years after the last movie in the series which suffered greatly from creator Kevin Williamson’s abandonment of his franchise to script his TV show Dawson’s Creek. Williamson has been producing supreme dark popcorn of late in the shape of TV series The Vampire Diaries so fingers crossed that his script for this new combination of the original cast with youngsters including Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere lives up to the high standards of its mighty predecessors.

8 Miles High Concept
Cowboys & Aliens may in future years come to be regarded as the moment where the masses totally abandoned cinema in favour of forms of entertainment that were slightly more philosophically challenging, like tiddlywinks. It could be a good film, after all the redoubtable Daniel Craig is starring and Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau is directing, but from just seeing the title and then reading the pitch it seems almost like some drunken executives made a bet as to what the most ludicrous high-concept they could possibly get green-lighted was, and this narrowly beat out Flying Monkeys Vs Crab People in 3-D.


  1. You’re a tad harsh on Pixar as The Incredibles and Ratatouille were both marvellous. That said, Cars was awful to the point of being confused with a Dreamworks production. There’s definitely no sequel merited.

    As for The Hangover, it benefitted heavily by being far funnier than most of the contemporary films in its genre but it screams Austin Powers 2 with the sequel, almost certain to be a disappointment.

    The MI-4 argument is a bit subjective as while MI-2 is silly nonsense, it was exactly the silly nonsense that would sell at that time. The follow-up would always suffer due to sceptical reaction and Cruise’s personal image at the time. He’s done a lot to rehabilitate the latter, mostly by sticking to his famous work-work-work mentality, and that makes it worth the risk for the studio.

    As for the Apes…oh dear. That sounds like a bad idea.

    Comment by Emmet Ryan — February 2, 2011 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

    • You can’t be harsh enough when Rotten Tomatoes has The Incredibles at 97% and Ratatouile at 96%, as the former was merely Watchmen-lite and jokes light, while the latter is painfully protracted, visually repetitive, insultingly scripted, and unbearably self-regarding. Their ‘auteur’ Brad Bird’s next ‘masterpiece’ is MI-4.

      MI-2 came out the year after The Matrix, silly nonsense was not the order of the day; indeed people groaned at its inanity when I saw it. It did well because Cruise films did well then, why else would people flock to the sequel to a film no-one understood and fewer liked? MI-3 was the best crafted-film in the franchise and it did poorly because the tide had turned against Cruise. Knight & Day flopped because people are bored-bored-bored with Cruise, once the crazy is let out of the bottle it doesn’t go back in by not talking about it. Ask Mel Gibson…

      The Hangover benefited from being released during a dry-spell… A single episode of Modern Family is funnier than the entirety of The Hangover, and showcases a comedic range (word-play, sight-gags, slapstick) that exposes the film’s monotony (lowbrow crudity).

      Comment by Fergal Casey — February 23, 2011 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

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