EDITORIAL: New Year's Resolutions of the Movie Industry for 2012
(clip art: www.87books.com)
Plenty of regular people make New Year's Resolutions, but I think bigger entities need to make them as well, particularly the movie industry. After a year where box office earnings were down 3% and attendance was down even more, Hollywood has some working out and shaping up to do. Mockingly, here are ten possible resolutions they should consider:
1) WAIT TEN YEARS, OR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS, BEFORE RESTARTING, REMAKING, OR "REBOOTING" A MOVIE FRANCHISE: I'm all for hoping this July'sThe Amazing Spider-Man grassroots reboot from director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), but it still feels too soon from the bad taste left in our mouth from the awful Spider-Man 3, the ugly recipient of the "Topher Grace curse." Also, on the surface, they haven't learned their lesson from the first series with the 28-year-old Andrew Garfield in the title role. Like Toby Maguire, he's too old to play the part and doesn't look like a high schooler. A reboot on the horizon that looks like it's done right is original Alien director Ridley Scott revisiting that world with Prometheus, a prequel that explains how it all started. Now that's how you do a reboot. Make it with the right people and do something that doesn't erase good history. Also, while you're at it, Hollywood, only make reboots/remakes that matter. We don't need a new Judge Dredd in September or someone to ruin Total Recall in August.
2) STOP LETTING ADAM SANDLER MAKE MOVIES, THAT WAY AUDIENCES STOP PAYING MONEY TO SEE HIM DO IT: Did you see Just Go With It last year? He's getting too old to be bedding supermodels. Then did you see Jack & Jill?! Come on, Adam. Playing a loud obnoxious version of yourself in drag and getting Al Pacino to romance you? What happened to the biting R-rated comedy you got your start with? Somebody break his legs and keep him from a movie set. His next movie, Donny's Boy, opening in June, follows a father who moves back in with his son creating chaos just before his wedding. Is he playing the father or the son, because he's getting a little too old to play the son.
3) PLEASE DON'T SCREW UP THE HUNGER GAMES: After sitting through horrible Twilight movies, audiences deserve a rich and eclectic book series brought to life properly and without drastic changes. We haven't had that since The Lord of the Rings series from 2001 to 2003. Even the Harry Potter movies lost a lot to condensing. That's a long 8 years of Twilight, bad Nicholas Sparks adaptations, and butcherings ofThe Time Traveller's Wife, Water for Elephants, and many more. At least The Help andThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo redeemed some hope for book adaptations a little last year.
4) PLEASE DON'T LET THE AVENGERS SUCK: Of all of the big summer movies on the horizon this coming summer, this one has the most to live up to. Marvel Films has done a dynamite job of developing the individual Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk characters through their own solo movies and the ambition to put them rightfully together in a mega-movie is historic. I hope the end result can bear the fruit that Marvel deserves for building a universe and franchise the right way and so successfully. It would be horrible if all of that build-up and preparation led to a clunker of a movie. Failure could end superhero movies for good.
5) SPEAKING OF THE AVENGERS, PLEASE LET DC COMICS AND WARNER BROTHERS FOLLOW THE SUCCESSFUL MARVEL BLUEPRINT WITH THEIR OWN CHARACTERS: In watching Marvel build their characters with modern stories and great solo movies, why can't we get that for Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Wonder Woman. Christopher Nolan has resurrected Batman more than successfully, but Green Lantern crashed and burned last year and Superman Returns, while decent, didn't stick back in 2006. These great characters deserve better and someone at Warner Brothers needs to start copying off of Marvel or that Justice League movie remains a pipe dream.
6) STOP USING MAKEUP AND NAME RECOGNITION TO TRY AND HIDE BAD IDEAS: This resolution could relate a little to Resolution #1, but there's more. Universal Pictures is heartset on making another Bourne movie, The Bourne Legacy (August 3), this time without Matt Damon, starring Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton instead. Sorry, but you can't have a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne himself. Damon and director Paul Greengrass were set on buttoning that series up as a trilogy and they succeeded. This is just a studio's way of trying to squeeze cash from name recognition. At the same time, if series director Christopher Nolan wants to stop making Batman movies after The Dark Night Rises and intends for it end as a trilogy, let it end and keep it that way, just as he intends. Don't hire a director two years from now to try and glue on to a finished story with a new cast, just to make more money. The jury is a little more lenient on Men in Black III, because of the presence of the original cast and the nine years since the second movie.
7) SLOW YOUR ROLL ON THE SEQUEL PARADE: Seguing from the last resolution, in 2011, we were punished with over 20 sequels, most of which pailed in comparison to their predecessors. Some things are better as single successes and don't require revisiting. In other cases, stop beating a dead horse. Which movies on this list can you call legimitate or warranted sequels: Men in Black III, Skyfall (the newest James Bond movie with Daniel Craig), Taken II, Underworld: Awakening (fourth in the series), G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Wrath of the Titans, American Reunion, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Ice Age: Continental Drift (fourth in the series), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Resident Evil: Retribution (fifth in the series), The Expendables 2, and (for that matter) Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II. On that list, I can only endorse a handful. Skyfall gets automatic clearance because James Bond films are an institution that has earned anytime status. Men in Black III and American Reunion are passable because, a little like Resolution #1, enough time has passed since the last movie and the original casts are back. The Expendables 2 gets a pass because they added to their great cast with Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme. So does G.I. Joe (just barely) with Dwayne Johnson adding a muscle and subtraction of the terrible Marlon Wayans. Other than those (only five, by my count), the rest are a mess that are going to require a clean-up on aisle 12 this year. OK, I guess you can let Twilight finish. It's only fair to let them continue to go out in a blaze of sparkles. Six it is (begrudgingly).
8) DON'T LET TWO SIMILAR PROJECTS BE MADE AT THE SAME TIME: Didn't they learn their lesson with Deep Impact and Armageddon coming out the same year? You can't have two movies that similiar and think they can stand apart as successes on their own without cheesy comparison. In 2012, you get two separate attempts to beef up the Snow White fairy tale. The first out of the gate in March is the playfully-toned Mirror, Mirror with Julia Roberts as the evil queen, Lily Collins (The Blindside) as Snow White, and Armie Hammer (The Social Network and J. Edgar) as Prince Andrew. The second, Snow White and the Huntsman, set for June, is trying to be a gritty sword-swinging version with Twilight's Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Thor's Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman, and Charlize Theron as the evil queen. There's no way both are going to work. Hollywood, you should know that by now.
9) LET AMERICAN ACTORS PLAY AMERICAN HEROES: Are there no good American actors anymore? Are the only good performers British or Australian these days? Don't get me wrong. Australia and England have seemingly endless supplies of talented actors that are great at what they do. But why is a Brit playing American icons like Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) and, worse yet, Superman (Henry Cavill)? You couldn't find a nice guy from New York or Kansas (sorry, Iowa's Brandon Routh)? In maybe the worst of all, Steven Spielberg's next epic, Lincoln, chronicles our greatest President. Who's playing him? Daniel Day-Lewis of Greenwich, England. Don't get me wrong again. The two-time Oscar winner will likely nail the role (as would have previously attached star Liam Neeson, an Irishman, before he became to old for the part), but you couldn't get an American? I'll admit that Welshmen Christian Bale has been the best Batman, but you don't see Robert De Niro playing King Henry VIII, do you?
10) STOP CASHING IN ON OLD MOVIES BEING REDONE AND RE-RELEASED IN 3D: Disney started it with bringing back Toy Story, The Lion King, and soon Beauty and the Beast (January 13) in 3D versions with the ticket mark-up for 3D attached to earn some fat dough. While they are fun novelties and nostalgic experiences made new on a lot of levels, they are just ploys to get us to double and triple-dip on movies we know and love. James Cameron brings back Titanic in April in time for the 100th anniversary of its sinking. George Lucas has filled all six chambers of his 3D re-release revolver for the Star Wars trilogies over the next few years. I understand how effective these releases are at filling the coffers, but it's a cheap trick.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks on "Every Movie Has a Lesson" for an upcoming Winter 2012 Movie Preview and Checklist!