Tag Archives: Hollywood

“WoW” movie gets “Moon” director

Could it be true – is Hollywood starting to get the whole ‘hire a good director = half-decent film’ idea finally?

I wish my beard looked as cool as that...

I wish my beard looked as cool as that…

Duncan Jones, director of the superb “Moon” and “Source Code” has signed on to direct the long-stewing adaptation of Blizzard’s MMO powerhouse, “World of Warcraft” (why, you don’t suppose that the runaway success of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” had anything to do with this surprising development, do you?) and that’s clearly brilliant news.

He’s played WoW and is a self-described gamer (fan of the property, formerly in a Brit-based Call of Duty clan) which indicates that he might just have an idea of how best to marry the disparate worlds of live action film making and the wibbly-wobbly, digital realm and not just default to knocking together some sub-Tolkein tropes and letting the CG guys do the real heavy lifting.    Make no mistake – it’s perfectly possible to make a good movie from video game material and I suspect that someone who knows the culture might be in a better place to helm an adaptation than some dude hopping up from commercials and music vids to his first feature gig.

Nerds - stand up and be counted! Who doesn't love a bit of raiding?

Nerds – stand up and be counted! Who doesn’t love a bit of raiding?

IMDB lists an Ian Fleming biopic on Jones’ to-do list, but producers are apparently keen to get this rollercoaster on the tracks this autumn for a bow sometime in 2015 – strike while the +10 to Melee Damage Iron Sword of Sundering is hot, and all that.  Is it too much to hope for for a Leeroy Jenkins shout-out?

You’ll be unsurprised that Gabe and Tycho have some good advice on what not to do with this movie…

 

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“Hansel & Gretel” – now with added red stuff…

Apparently Jeremy Renner is in this movie. Didn’t notice.

Put “Hansel and Gretel – Witch Hunters” in my eyes now, Hollywood!  Now, damn your eyes!

Ahem.

What I meant to say was that there’s a new Red Band trailer for Tommy Wirkola‘s first American movie and its a tad on the intense side. Yes, there will be blood, but as it’s Halloween, you’re probably not going to be afraid of mucho witch decapitation, folks exploding into gory chunks and up-close head-shots.

Subtlety is not on this film’s agenda, clearly, and I’m a lot more assured by the tone of this trailer than I was by the initial, general audiences effort which went online a month or so back and induced much in the way of ‘Meh’ from the internet cognoscenti – this looks like a film from the director of “Dead Snow“, as opposed to the slightly ‘Van Helsing‘-ish initial first look.

Still, it’s a long wait for me – this film will be merrily decapitating Witches from January 25th 2013 in the US and won’t make the broom-hop across the pond for another two months, by which time I’ll probably be seeing the first pre-order news for the Region A Blu-Ray disc and dropping my cash on that instead.

And there I was thinking that film distributors had gotten wise to the idea that artificially staggered release dates harm the box office prospects of their products…

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Sassy Fassy? Assassin? Classy.

If there’s a way to make movie video game adaptations better, I’d wager that one way to do it would be to get good actors and directors involved.  As things stand, video game movies are viewed by Hollywood as seemingly one step up from direct to video fare – perhaps today’s announcement from Ubisoft might go some way towards changing that.

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They’ve somehow managed to snag Michael Fassbender to co-produce and star in an adaptation of their “Assassin’s Creed” series of games – which I confess lost my interest with the first game in the franchise.  Beautiful to look at, but cursed with gameplay that could be used to aid those suffering from insomnia disorders, I’m led to believe that subsequent games picked up the pace quite dramatically and were actually fairly decent – oh, to have the time to check that supposition out.

Getting Fassbender is quite a coup  as he brings credibility and – let’s be honest – ridiculous good looks to a franchise which needs to establish itself to a wide audience in order to be a success, given the property’s blend of historical fact, bonkers conspiracy-driven Sci-Fi and stabby-stabby murdering.  Not exactly a combo designed to appeal to the floating multiplex voter, I think you’ll agree.

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If anybody can get bums on these particular seats, though, it’s my favourite German-Irish self-confessed metalhead.  As for a director, what about this fine mentalist for the vacant gig?

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Kevin Smith on piracy

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“I try to give away as much as possible. At SModcast.com, we’ve got thousands of hours of my best work, as well as the funniest shit you’ll ever hear: My true life’s work. And we give it away free.”

More over at Techdirt.com.

Fabulously foul-mouthed auteur Kevin Smith’s not wrong – I’m a long-time fan of Smith’s work and I’ve often found episodes of his Smodcast or “Hollywood Babble-On” podcasts far funnier than many a screen comedy that I’ve been expected to pay for (and even Smith’s own work – I couldn’t make it through the ghastly, wholly unfunny section of Cop Out when I rented it).

Hollywood’s preferred model of punishing people who pay to see movies by front-loading movie screenings with adverts, treating regular consumers as potential thieves with anti-piracy ads on DVDs and Blu-Rays and concentrating on reboots, rehashes and tv show adaptations has been biting it in the ass for quite a few years now, so its fun to see that one of its own sons actually gets the fact that changes to the Hollywood model are long overdue and might actually save it from going the same way as the recorded music industry.

The internet isn’t the enemy – it should be a partner or a vital distribution channel, but as long as Hollywood insists on  not doing the work and expecting to reap rewards for its inaction, things are only going to get worse for Big Media…

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“G.I. Joe – Retaliation” gets new trailer, destroys the Big Smoke…

What is it with Hollywood and destroying London?

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No sooner had I put my feet up and begun to enjoy the latest trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation than I was confronted with merry old London town biting the big one again, via the intercession of some sketchy space missile thingy.  Not that I’m the biggest fan of our capital city – I only visit if I absolutely have to – but it would be nice for an American film to grasp the complex reality that there are other cities in the UK.

Yep, that's going to give Boris a few sleepless nights...

Is it too much to hope for a major Hollywood blockbuster to pick on Birmingham or Manchester for a change?  Surely Leeds needs to be rendered into ashes by a stray super missile?  Mindless destruction equality now!  Blow up some different places for a change!

But, I digress…

There’s a new trailer for this deliciously silly looking comic book action fest, which seems to be marking out its place on the calendar as an unpretentious and marked improvement on the unwatchable original entry in the series – I don’t have any history with the action figures, but this could be the daft action extravaganza which manages to erase the bad taste that the increasingly horrible Transformers films left in my mouth as that series veered ever deeper into the darker recesses of Michael Bay‘s ID.

It’s nearly the summer, I’m really going to want to escape the ad nauseam Olympics hype in the UK – what better way to do it than watch professional actors portray action figures and run away from cgi explosions?

 

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“Need for Speed” speeds to the big screen

The only good thing about "Need For Speed:Undercover" - Maggie Q...

In news which might have seemed like a hot deal right after the release of “The Fast & The Furious” back in 2001 but which now seems like a case of Hollywood being predictably behind the times, DreamWorks have emerged as front-runners in a battle to nab the film rights to EA’s long-running and iterated-up-the-whazoo racing games.

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I’d be reasonably happy to see a movie based on this franchise, as there’s always been an element of story attempting to knit together otherwise unconnected races, stunt challenges and general law-flouting, cookie-cutter rebellion – it couldn’t be any less absurd than the last Fast & Furious flick, but it would have to go a hell of a long way to be half as enjoyable as Justin Lim’s feverish nitrous dream.

John Gatins, who previously brought you robot-bashing hug-em-up Real Steel is down to write the script, which hopefully may aspire to more than sweaty, C-list CW studs calling each other ‘Bro’ and engaging in physics-defying, CG-assisted vehicular mentalism.  I also predict the reassuring presence of many hot ladies to carefully negate any sense that all of these devil-may-care, hot-headed rebels are eager to explore each other’s manifolds between life-or-pink-slip races.

All very nice for EA, I’m sure, but where’s my frigging “Burnout” movie already?

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The Unspeakable Lameness of “Gamer”

Over at Topless Robot today, David Wolinsky posted a list which got me thinking – why do films get the culture of video games so completely wrong?

Hmm...noir.

Chin up Gerard, you'll be second-fiddle to that Heigl gal in second-rate rom-coms any time now...

Part of me suspects that there’s no love for the upstart medium – it competes for mind share with music and TV, further eroding Hollywood’s hold on teen and twentysomething cash and if there’s one thing that film studios don’t like to do, it’s to share cash.  Games are a potential asset to be used as source material for films, but don’t yet command the same level of respect of a hack popular novelist like Dan Brown.

When film makers do attempt to marry the always-on digital world to the heady realm of populist cinema the frequent end product ends up being something like the wretched Neveldine/Taylor directed, 2009 Gerard Butler vehicle, “Gamer”.

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This film features high on the Topless Robot list as an example of how terrible Hollywood films featuring games can be and it’s an object lesson in how to do pretty much everything wrong.

The cast are wasted.  Butler’s decent value in action flicks but he gets little to do in a role which should be multi-faceted (family man forced to kill or be killed, separated from his wife, a public enemy number one loved/hated by a global reality TV audience) but ends up being a thuggish stereotype.  Amber Valetta gets to essentially be felt up by the camera for 95 minutes as Butler’s missus – thankless isn’t the half of it.

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The tech is so ludicrous that it may as well be a film utilising magic for all the sense that it makes – the always on, beyond HD quality, omniscient camera tracking the combatants in the “Call of Duty” alike “Slayers” game in the film – how the chuff does that work, then?  There’s some guff in the script, as I recall, about neural net thingymajigs but the fact of the matter is that the game inventor in the film, Michael C Hall, is not Molyneux or Kojima but some plot-assisting analogue of Merlin and Mandrake.

This is what bugs me so much about this film – it would make more sense for the film to occupy the same space as “The Running Man” or an Ice-T vehicle that you’ve never seen, “Surviving The Game”.  But no, we’ve got to drag the new-fangled video games into this shoddy hackery because that’s the folk demon which this script has a bee in its backwards baseball cap about.

It doesn’t just stop by having a pop at the 360 console crowd – social media gets a shoeing too in the form of “Society”, a singularly bone-headed blend of “The Sims”,“Second Life” style hipster casual gaming and honest-to-goodness slavery which the Amber Valetta character finds herself sold into – because, for the most part, women in this film exist solely to be ogled, fondled, objectified and generally handled like so much meat.

I hated this movie – can you tell?

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Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not exactly Roger Ebert (or Mark Kermode, for that matter). I like my B-movies, I don’t mind if they’re dumb as a box of hammers and I only ask that they be entertaining.  “Gamer” has a premise that Verhoeven and Bruce Willis would have knocked to the Moon and back in the early Nineties but fails to raise so much as a ‘hoo-rah’ with its eminently miss-able blend of crappy action, murky motivations, sleepwalking performances and a general sense that the Neveldine/Taylor team will do anything to try to shock the presumed target audience for this movie – mouth-breathing 12-year-old boys coming down off a 24 hour Mountain Dew and Doritos bender.

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You have to try hard to make a movie like this dull.  It takes real, strenuous effort.  Wall-to-wall bloodshed, eye candy and an amorality which makes Michael Bay look like Jonathan Demme – and “Gamer” is still as riveting as cleaning your clogged drains.

Neveldine/Taylor – reverse Midas touch, non?  It’s enough to make you think that the thick ear thrills of the first “Crank” film were a one-off.

I’m beginning to suspect that the issue is one of translation and the inherent problem in translating from one interactive medium to one which lends itself to contemplation and has been usurped in terms of presenting thrills by its younger sibling.

A final thought – Games excel at presenting on-screen action and have been doing it better since the PS1 and equivalent PC hardware allowed the first steps towards interactive cinematic mayhem on the player’s home television.  Hollywood’s on the back foot and probably won’t ever catch up.  Beginning to see why they put so little effort into adapting video games?

 

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