To kick off 2015 I decided to do something a bit different: a roundtable discussion!
There’s much to be said for Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies, but how do major Tolkien fans feel about it? I was curious to find out, so I grabbed four people steeped in Hobbit lore and held a discussion full of delicious nerd rage. We talked about the changes made for the movies, the nature of Hollywood, and the difference between dragons and wyverns, among many other topics.
This episode’s panelists were:
Music by Kevin MacLeod
In this ramble recorded a few weeks ago (way back in July – remember July?) I talk about going to see Monty Python Live (Mostly) and my relationship with Monty Python in general. And I digress. A lot.
Batman and Superman have recently had their 75th birthdays, along with DC Comics. I decided to ramble for a while about my experiences with those two characters in particular and the effects their stories seem to have – on me, at least.
It seems I’ve managed to embed those videos after all! 🙂
Time for a bit of a ramble about Star Wars and Star Trek, and how the two seem to have become each other. Over time, Star Wars has become more Star Trek-y and Star Trek has become more Star Wars-y. I wonder where it will lead?
One day I found myself sitting in a movie theater watching something abysmal.
I can’t remember what it was, exactly, but a moment of inspiration came to me as I found myself almost about to fall asleep for the thirteenth time.
I realized that if Godzilla had been in it, it would have been a much better movie.
It was then that the seed of the Godzilla Theory occurred to me. It goes something like this:
Sometimes I have trouble deciding on whether I think a movie is bad or good – and to be clear, I’m talking about the subjective definitions of “bad” and “good” that refer to my emotional reaction to a film, not the technical definitions used in art appreciation classes. So, when I want to be certain about how I feel, I just imagine what the movie would be like if Godzilla were in it.
If the inclusion of Godzilla would actually make it BETTER, then it’s a bad movie.
I can call it a theory because I tested it out multiple times back when it was but a lowly hypothesis. And it seems to work. Now, granted, it largely only provides a decent barometer of MY opinion of a movie, but I’m sure there are some folks out there like-minded enough for it to work for them as well.
The only kinds of movies this test doesn’t seem to work so well with are… well, giant monster movies. Because, honestly, what giant monster movie WOULDN’T be better with an extra dose of Godzilla in it? But all other movies are fair game.
For example, think about the two Schumacher Batman films. You know, those two movies that I keep trying to forget ever existed and which seem to occupy a category of suck all to themselves (and which are the subject of an entirely different theory of mine that I might talk about some other time). Wouldn’t they be INFINITELY better if Godzilla were in them? Because, heck, if they’ve decided to throw causality out the window anyway they may as WELL get a giant monster with atomic breath involved.
Star Wars, however, would NOT work so well with the addition of Godzilla to the cast. True, they had a similar character in Return of the Jedi, but the Rancor’s method acting manages to sate my desire for giant monster mayhem in that regard. I mean, when you can eat an entire Gammorrean raw in every take and still manage to hit your cues on time, that’s quality. (And on a side note, from what I understand, the Rancor and Godzilla briefly studied together at Juilliard.)
But what about the edge cases? Say… Jurassic Park?
Well, it seems to me that in the first and third Jurassic Park movies Godzilla would probably be redundant, so in my opinion they qualify as “not too bad.” The middle one, though? Yeah, it’s true they made a Godzilla joke in it, but it only reminded me of how badly I wanted to see the real Godzilla turn up and show the T-Rex who was boss. Plus I sometimes find it difficult to stare at Jeff Goldblum for more than a few seconds at a time without wishing for a giant monster to come along and eat him. (Sorry Jeff, but if you’re out there reading this, they tended to leave the camera on you for a tad too long whenever you were doing the “intense staring” thing in that movie.) So, I’ve got to put it in the “bad” category.
Similarly, some Jane Austen films pass the test and some don’t. Of course, I’m slightly biased in that I’ve always wanted to see Godzilla turn up in a Jane Austen movie. (“Is that rather crude gentleman known to you, Mr. Darcy?” “Which one?” “That tall, green one out there on the croquet lawn.” “The one engaged in fisticuffs with the giant moth?” “Indeed, sir.” “Certainly not, madam! The unruly cad has disintegrated your potting shed with his atomic breath and, what’s worse, he’s trampled your flower garden. I would never associate with such an uncouth misanthrope!”) I can only hope that one day the film adaptation of Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters will be half as riveting as the image I’ve built up in my head.
So, if you’re not sure how you feel about a movie, try adding a dash of Godzilla and see how it looks then. If it doesn’t work for you, then no harm, no foul. But if it does, you may find that there’s nothing more valuable than the sense of perspective you get from a giant lizard.
Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:
Music by Kevin MacLeod
So, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month or so I’m sure you heard that Disney purchased Marvel Comics. For the most part this doesn’t bother me too much. These kinds of things happen all the time. I understand that Disney has many departments and isn’t necessarily the evil empire a lot of folks make it out to be. I realize they’ve been taking a hands-off approach to a lot of things and will likely do so with Marvel for the most part (maybe getting more involved with the Marvel video games and the syndication of the older Marvel cartoons than anything else). I’ve also read over plenty of articles stating that this is a good thing for Marvel and will give them the financial backing they so desperately need right now.
But, that said, there is one little thing that worries me.
How will this affect future Marvel films? Will I want to go and see them?
I understand that they’ll be better funded. I also know that there are plenty of folks who don’t like a lot of Marvel’s recent films and think this will only make them better. As it happens I’ve actually liked the majority of the Marvel films that have been coming out lately, warts and all, but that’s a different subject.
The issue I have about the quality of future movies will likely come down to whether or not Disney wants to put their name on them. For the next couple of years that’s not going to be a problem since Marvel’s current film contracts with various studios aren’t being affected. It’s what happens after those contracts end that concerns me.
Disney does plenty of things through secondary studios (Touchstone, Miramax, etc). If it goes that route I don’t see there being too big a difference in the movies except for an increase in budget along with whatever side effects there will be as a result of the terms of standing contracts with individual writers, directors and actors. Though, admittedly, the contract issue is usually a concern no matter WHAT studio is involved.
If, on the other hand, Disney DOES want to put their name on the movies, going through their main studio – Walt Disney Pictures – then I believe I see shadows on the horizon.
I realize that the quality of the live-action movies to come out of Walt Disney Pictures has improved vastly since such euthanasia-inspiring wonders as Operation Dumbo Drop and the heavily-butchered adaptations of My Favorite Martian and Inspector Gadget. Somewhere around the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (or “Ca-Ruh-BEE-in” if you’re going with the official Disney mispronunciation), characters in live-action Disney films started behaving somewhat closer to the way actual human beings do.
However, there still remain quite a few issues over what can and cannot be done in a movie with Disney’s name on it. Since I’ve already brought up the Pirates franchise, let’s stick with that as an example. Spoilers ahoy, by the way, in case you’re waiting for the Mayan Apocalypse to pass by before you rent the DVDs. I liked the first movie quite a bit. The second was pretty good too if you ignored the fact that they messed around with the characters’ motivations a bit and that just about every third word spoken in the film was “pirate” (though, granted, the first one suffered from that as well).
In my opinion, the third movie was decent, but I had a fairly serious problem with it. I’ve heard that the 2nd and 3rd movies were made at the same time so I’m not sure why I didn’t notice this as much in Dead Man’s Chest, but it seemed as though At World’s End was seriously dumbed down. It seemed as though EVERY joke had to beat the audience over the head. Everything had to be extremely obvious, obnoxious and over-the-top.
Now, I know that to an extent it was SUPPOSED to be over-the-top. I’m confident in saying that I enjoy swashbuckling adventure as much as the next guy. But it was still too much. Maybe there was a good excuse for it. Maybe they had to rush the edit to get the movie out on time and ended up giving it to a bunch of interns. I don’t know the true reason, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that someone at Disney wanted to make sure the movie was marketable to the lowest common denominator and made that known to whoever was cutting it together at the 11th hour.
And, of course, there are Disney’s standards and practices to consider. I’ve heard plenty of my friends say that they love the wedding scene that takes place in the 3rd movie on board a ship in the middle of a massive sword fight. I’ll be kind here and say that I know they tried – they really did – but it just didn’t work for me or for my badly-abused suspension of disbelief. Especially after I realized that the scene likely only came into being because the happy couple have sex near the end of the movie.
After all, you can’t do things like having intercourse out of wedlock in a movie with Disney’s name on it, can you? I’m sure there are quite a few other things you can’t do as well.
THAT is what worries me about future Marvel movies. How much of a straight jacket will there be on this massive Avengers initiative that’s now building steam? Will Wolverine have to quit smoking – AGAIN? Will Spider-Man have to stop and explain every single joke he makes in the heat of combat?
Only time will tell. Until then it is my fervent wish that these two companies just stay good friends without taking their relationship to the next level. I’ll be listening out in the hope that we don’t hear the dread toll of wedding bells – because if we do, we’ll know it won’t be long before Marvel assumes the position.