The Death of Original Ideas

I tried to avoid it. I really did.

I sat down at the computer to write a nice little piece on the recent developments concerning a Justice League movie*…but then I saw it.

By “it,” I am referring to the reports that Warner Bros. is pursuing a film option based on “The Guinness Book of World Records.” Yes, THAT Guinness Book of World Records.

“But,” you say. “What kind of story can you make out of a book that is just a collection of facts?” Oh, ye of little faith. Don’t let the lack of characters or stoyline get in the way of a good movie-making opportunity. Some sites have pointed out that Warner Bros. was also interested in making a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” a few years ago, but at least that has some wiggle room for a story. This is more along the lines of the short-lived idea “Erector Set: The Movie.”

Just for kicks, I’ll share my best guess at what a movie based on “The Guinness Book of World Records” would look like:

A stoner/loser/college drop-out (played by Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg or whoever else is filling in the Young Adam Sandler character these days) goes on a quest to find self-fulfillment/prove himself to be a man by completing a series of tasks that will make him the holder of the most Guinness records. Along the way he finds true love with the quirky girl from back home who always had a thing for him. Think “Hot Rod” meets “The Bucket List.”

I don’t like to write this sort of negativity too often because, after a while, it just sounds like an old man sitting on his porch yelling at kids to get off his lawn. But every now and then, you read a movie synopsis and think to yourself, “That is literally the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Today is one of those days for me.

Great movies are too few and far between these days. What happened to the skilled screenwriters, auteur directors and movie execs who knew how to take a risk? Hollywood’s been all about the money for decades, but at least there used to be a few more bones thrown towards those who enjoy quality films.

Before this rant goes too far overboard, I’ll cut myself off and just say this: similar to politics, theatergoers vote for the kind of movies they want to see every time they stand in line at the box office. Stay informed and use your $10 wisely, or else we’ll be stuck with knock-offs like “Battleship” til the end of time.

 

* – As for the Justice League movie, it was confirmed this week that writer Will Beall (this year’s “Gangster Squad”) was hired in 2011 to work on the upcoming script. While Beall hasn’t done much to date, he is currently working on the “Logan’s Run” remake and “Lethal Weapon 5” for Warner Bros. More good news comes from the fact that both Wonder Woman and the Flash should be getting their own films in the next 2-3 years. Unfortunately, three of the writers from “Green Lantern” are helming those scripts as well (because it’s always good to pull the talent from a project that cost you $100 million last summer). Of course there are still hundreds of questions left to answer before the Justice League is assembled on screen, but it’s nice to know that Warner Bros. is trying.

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The Cure for Weekly Summer Ennui

Good morning afternoon everyone! I hope we’re all feeling fit and full of vigor today, and not sunburnt and sore from an excellent but thoroughly exhausting weekend. Wait. I mean… I hope you had weekends of such intensity and entertainment, but I ALSO hope you feel fine, fresh, and fancy-free. I KNOW I DO.

Currently listening to: Monuments and Melodies, aka Incubus’ Greatest Hits album.

Music

Alright so there are a few releases this week, but most of them are SO off my (admittedly under-developed) Cool Music Radar™, I’m not even going to mention them at the risk of sounding so dangerously unhip that you all feel as little respect for my taste in music as… well… as you should. The one release I do feel qualified to talk about is John Mayer’s new one: Born and Raised. It was at some point streaming on iTunes, so a lot of y’all have probably already heard it. From what I gather, it’s more Battle Studies than Continuum, which for some (including a former roommate) is pretty much the worst thing conceivable. It’s less bluesy, and more country, and while I certainly prefer the blues sound, I’ll confess to not missing guitar solos – which I find to be both banal and showy at the same time. So strap in for some emoting, some whining, and some “how the hell am I a grown up?” I will be.

Movies

You may not know this about me, but I hate horror movies. Not because I hate being scared. In fact, I love being scared. I hate being surprised. Things jumping out at you? That’s a cheap thrill. That’s Family Guy humor. That’s fart jokes and making fun of Sarah Palin. It’s easy, and it’s been done before. I want to be scared. I want to drive home with my interior lights on. I want to need a night light. I want to think back to it years later and still look around me for monsters. I want Slappy the ventriloquist’s doll from Goosebumps. I want IT from Stephen King. I want the Truman Show. Ok that last one wasn’t a horror movie, but it EFFED ME UP FOR LIFE. So with that in mind, you should be able to figure out where I stand on this whole “found-footage” genre that really came to prominence with Blair Witch and has been succeeded by Paranormal Activity. And if you can’t, allow me to spell it out for you. N. O. No.

So this weekend sees the release of the Chernobyl Diaries, from the director of Paranormal Activity. Basically, this movie takes six college kids to the site of an old tragedy, getting abandoned, and hunted by a monster. So basically, it’s everything Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard hate about the modern horror genre, and sought to combat with the excellent Cabin in the Woods.

Then of course there’s Men In Black 3, which Will is excited about but I am not. I’m not even sure I’ve seen the first movie since the second came out. It was that bad. And honestly, I’m just over Will Smith, and not invested in the story of Jay and Kay saving the world from aliens. I’ve put all my Alien Movie Excitement Eggs in the Prometheus basket.

And finally, in case you missed it, Will went against medical advice and saw Battleship this past weekend. His review can be found on his blog if you’re interested.

Television

Monday: Eureka – a disaster preparedness drill goes wrong! But of course the bigger news is the SERIES FINALE of House. This is a show I’ve gone back and forth on over the years, ultimately getting too frustrated with the whole Status Quo is God thing, by which I mean “If House has these poignant moments of self-realization EVERY WEEK FOR EIGHT YEARS, how is it possible that he hasn’t changed in any sort of lasting way?!?” And of course the loss of Cuddy and Olivia Wilde after last season was basically the last straw for me. That being said, I’ll probably be watching to see how everything wraps up, because I was once highly invested in the characters.

Tuesday: Glee – graduation. Woo.

Wednesday: On Modern Family, Cam and Mitch look to be taking more steps in the search for a new baby. I wish this had been a more consistent plot thread this season, but oh well. Alex goes to prom, Jay and Manny watch Lily – which should be HYSTERICAL, and Hailey makes an announcement. College? Marriage? Who knows?? On B23’s first season finale, it’s James Van Der Beek (JVDB, natch) vs. Dean Cain over the size of their Dancing With the Stars dressing rooms, plus June tries to party hardy but obviously can’t. And finally on Revenge’s season one finale, it’s Emily vs. the man who killed her father. Last week’s episode was SOLID and left us on a lot of cliff hangers. I am DYING to see which get wrapped up and which are left to dangle in the summer breeze until next season.

Thursday: Awake has its (sadly) series finale. I’m still about five episodes behind, but this makes me sad nonetheless. And then it’s a night for dance fans everywhere: the SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance, DUH) premiere!

Friday: Nothing! Supernatural and Fringe are done for the season, so Fridays are pretty jank.

And as always, Game of Thrones and Mad Men. GoT has The Battle of the Blackwater, which is written by George R.R. Martin himself, and promises to tank the budget for the rest of the season.

Comics

DC is having a huge week, but here’s what I’m taking away from it. Batman: The Dark Knight continues the Night of the Owls event (probably along with some other books, but whatevs). Batman: Incorporated by Grant Morrison returns, which everyone says is awesome, and should begin the end phase of his six year Bat Story. Aquaman continues to look into the past of Atlantis. New Flash, plus new I, Vampire. And also, one of my favorite series: the Unwritten! I think I’m a few issues behind on that one, but I really wish I weren’t, because it has heated up so intensely it is pretty much melting my face off biweekly.

Marvel: Couldn’t find anything interesting, but to be honest I didn’t really look too hard. I’m so tired y’all.

Books

From Sword and Laser:

2312 By Kim Stanley Robinson

The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.”
Sounds pretty sweet, though I am SWAMPED by Hyperion et al. so this may have to wait a while for me to pick it up.
And with that, I leave you. This week is, I believe, a sports post from Jordan on Wednesday, and a scrumptious food post by Griffin, so let’s get pumped for that, shall we? Now, I’m going to desperately wrestle with my conscience over whether to nap or work out, and probably compromise by watching more Mad Men with the director commentaries on.

2012: The Summer Blockbuster Rises

I’m so excited right now. After 4 1/2 months of utter cinema garbage (“The Three Stooges,” really Hollywood?!), it’s time for what many consider the golden age of yearly theater-hopping. While this is a promising time every year, some summers are more generous than others. Take 2009 for example. It gave us great films like “Star Trek” and “Up,” but also delivered “Terminator Salvation,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

In recent years, the summer blockbuster season has become a little lackluster in my opinion. Part of this is due to the fact that 2008 was the greatest summer for movies since Steven Spielberg introduced audiences to a killer shark in 1975’s “Jaws.” My proof? How about this list of films?

  • “The Dark Knight”
  • “Wall-E”
  • “Iron Man”
  • “Hellboy 2”
  • “Wanted”
  • “Tropic Thunder”
  • “Kung-Fu Panda”
  • and many more

Find me a list that tops that and I’ll be happy to relinquish the claim. Since then, the summers have grown a little duller for the most part. It’s seems to be a little more “Green Lantern” and a lot less “Toy Story 3.” But I believe in my heart that 2012 can be the year to end all years for summer audiences (also for Mayans). Here are the movies that I’m most excited for this summer.

MAY

“The Avengers” – May 4

Duh. Old news for you guys. It came and conquered last weekend like the Hulk in a china shop.

“Men in Black III” – May 25

I remember when I saw MIB II back in 2002 and my little movie-loving mind was disappointed by the lackluster sequel to a film I had grown to love as a kid. That being said, I cannot wait for the series’ redemption to finally come through ten years later. If nothing else, it’ll be fun to hear Josh Brolin talk like Tommy Lee Jones for 2 hours.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” – June 1

When Kristen Stewart was originally cast to play the “fairest of them all,” my eyes nearly rolled out of my head. I could name at least 50 actresses I’d rather see in the role. The more I see of the film itself, though, I’m intrigued by the dark tone. Also, Charlize Theron looks deliciously evil and Chris Hemsworth has had me sold since he first picked up Mjolnir.

“Prometheus” – June 8

Ever since this project was announced, I have been trying to stop rocking back and forth with uncontrollable fits of excitement. Ridley Scott returning to the world of his 1979 sci-fi classic “Alien” and with one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory? It’s too much to bear. Do yourself a favor and go into this film as blind as possible. It will be scary, gruesome and fantastic (I hope).

“Brave” – June 22

Coming hot off its first critical failure, look for Pixar to be in full swing with the tale of a Scottish princess yearning for freedom and adventure. Even if it’s only half as good as movies like “Up” and “The Incredibles,” it’ll be worth watching.

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” – June 22

What’s summer without a little apocalyptic comedy, right? This film stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley as two people who are looking for happiness during the earth’s final days. With such an interesting premise and likeable stars, I’m more than a little hopeful.

“The Amazing Spiderman” – July 3

I’m usually the first in line to hate on reboots, but after the horrifying taste left in my mouth after Emo Peter Parker took over in in “Spiderman 3,” I’ll take any fresh ideas. It also helps that the casting seems better this time around. The only thing that really worries me is how much I may hate the 3D.

“The Dark Knight Rises” – July 20

This is probably the film I am most excited about for this summer. I’ve been a die hard fan of the Caped Crusader for as long as I can remember and, like everyone else with a pulse, I love what Christopher Nolan has done for the franchise. Judging by the latest trailer, this looks like a fitting conclusion for the trilogy.

“The Bourne Legacy” – August 3

I love the popularity Jeremy Renner has received in the last 2 years. “The Bourne Legacy” will be his 3rd big action movie in about 9 months (“The Avengers” and “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”). I trust that he will be a worthy replacement for Matt Damon and can’t wait to see where the story is taken.

“Total Recall” – August 3

On the same day, we get a remake of the classic 1990 film that followed Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s adventures on Mars. With a great cast (Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Bryan Cranston) and today’s technology, it could be a great summer outing (or it could be a lame rip-off, but hey…..).

“The Expendables 2” – August 17

I know I shouldn’t fall into the trap, but with Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme added to the original cast, I’m genuinely interested. We’ll see what happens when the world’s rowdiest nursing home travels to the local theater.

“Lawless” – August 31

Few things can beat a good crime film, and this one has an amazing cast to get things started. Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Shia LaBeouf and Gary Oldman play cops and robbers in this Depression-era shoot ’em up.

Who knows what the summer of 2012 has in store for us simple moviegoers? It would take a whole lot of bad execution for things to go awry, but as sports fans always say “that’s why they play the game.”

Until next month, happy viewing.