Saturday, January 19, 2013

Heavy on the rambling

I managed to finish "Ghost Rider:Spirit of Vengeance" and "John Carter", despite thinking that I wouldn't. The second half of the Ghost Rider movie was much more focused, and all of the things that they set up in the first part of the film paid off. The influences from "Crank" that the crew carried in became more pronounced, and Nicholas Cage had a little bit more one-on-one time with the other characters to develop a little more perceived chemistry.

With "John Carter", I actually had to re-watch a couple of chapters to figure out why I wasn't getting it. I realized that being distracted by my kids talking the first time through caused me to miss a couple of big chunks of dialogue. Once I solved that problem, I liked the movie a lot more.  To be fair, a lot of the scenes that followed the spot where I stopped the first time are more dialogue driven and only have a few characters in them, so they were inherently less confusing than some of the early action-based sequences where we were still trying to figure out the characters. It's still no Pirates of the Caribbean, but considering that this was Andrew Stanton's first go at a real big-budget live action feature, and he was trying to make a movie on par with Star Wars, it was a gutsy attempt. Yes, I realize that it was a box-office dud and expensive to make. (It cost $250 million to make - nearly 4 and a half times as much to make as Ghost Rider:SOV at a paltry $57 million.) If I was the head of the studio, I would have sent Stanton to go make some music videos or some commercials before I bet the farm on him, since directing animation is not the same as directing people. However, having watched the movie I can't point at something in the film and say that there were any specifically bad performances. Certainly, all the main actors in "John Carter" outshine any of Hayden Christensen's "Star Wars" performances.  It's possible that different editing and screenwriting could have tightened up the film some, but ultimately this is down to the story. Sadly, Pixar is usually really good about refining the story first and I think that's the lesson that Andrew Stanton may either have forgotten or didn't have time to realize. I did see that some critics complained that it was derivative. Did they forget that the whole 'space opera' thing practically started with Edgar Rice Burroughs?

So now the real question is, now that Disney is Pixar is Marvel is Lucasfilm, will we see some consistent improvements in their filmmaking?

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