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Someone Hold Dan Akroyd Down and Make Him Stop Babbling About Ghostbusters 3

Let. It. Go.

For over two decades there was talk of a third Ghostbusters movie, but that particular phantasm never materialized. Instead we got 2016’s Ghostbusters, a reboot of the property with an all-new cast that suffered all kinds of controversy and ultimately failed to be a hit at the box office. That seemingly killed another Ghostbusters in that continuity, but perhaps it opened the door for a true Ghostbusters 3. In fact, Ghostbusters 3 is currently in the works according to Dan Aykroyd, who said:

The same nonsense he always says, it’s being written, he’s hopeful, he thinks Bill Murray will want to, blah blah blah.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

Ghostbusters was a good movie. A classic, even. Ghostbusters 2 was… enh. The cartoon was a cartoon. The reboot bombed. We don’t need another Ghostbusters movie. We don’t need to “save” the “franchise”. It’s not a fucking fast food chain, it’s a movie. Just one movie that was entertaining in 1984. The rest of the dreck that’s been built around it is forgettable and unimportant. Another movie is unnecessary and would accomplish nothing but spark unending debates and wearisome attempts at drollery by idiots on social media. 

The time and money spent on whether determining whether another Ghostbusters movie could be better spent on creating a genuine and new piece of entertainment that could itself become memorable and rewatchable over and over again. 

One of the obstacles preventing Ghostbusters 3 from happening over the years has actually been Bill Murray, who never seemed particularly interested– feeling that there was no way to live up to the original.

If this is true, then the world owes Bill Murray a debt of thanks. I’ve seen some people – like the Red Letter Media guys – blame Bill Murray’s intransigence for the existence of the reboot. That’s nonsense on stilts. Ghostbusters, but With Girls was fated to happen the day some idiot at Sony figured out he could shill some Pepsi and Papa Johns Pizza that way. They ran with it because reboots generate their own press, and controversies generate more. Because existing IP’s are the golden ticket for getting movie audiences in the door, right?

Right?

Bill Murray is right. No more Ghostbusters. No more dumb sequels, unnecessary reboots, and nostalgia pieces. Make something that doesn’t suck. Make art, you monkeys.

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Quick Review: The Outlaw King

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What the wags have called Braveheart 2 came out this week on Netflix, and being a medievalist nerd, I was all about it.

It is a more accurate film that Braveheart in several respects. For one, it gives us the real struggle Robert the Bruce had in claiming the throne of Scotland. None of this sudden Hollywood climax decision with a full army at his back for the Bruce: he had to claw his way to power, bearing a crown no one respected, hiding in the heather from his own countrymen for a number of years. For another, it’s depiction of Edward I of England is probably truer than the cartoon villain Braveheart gave us. If you loved Patrick McGoohan’s moustache-pulling (and who doesn’t? “The trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots!” that’s A+ movie-villainry right there), you might not like the merely iron-fisted politician this film gives us. But Edward I of England wasn’t a cartoon, he was a real man, a puissant ruler and crusader, a man who struggled to restore royal authority after the turbulent reigns of his grandfather John and his father Henry III, and largely succeeded. Call out his excess in this if you like. Say that his cruelty to the Scots crosses the line into wickedness – I can’t refute it.  But he was a man, and not a devil, and this movie does him the courtesy of making that real. You may not recognize Stephen Dillane – Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones – in the part, but you will appreciate him.

However, when it comes to Edward II, I think the earlier film got it right:  the second of the Three Edwards (for a century, from 1277 to 1377, the King of England had the same name) seems to really have been a dilettante who had neither capacity nor wish to charge into battle at the head of an army. We see the younger Edward’s weakness in Braveheart, his terror of his father, and silent yearning to be utterly unlike him (a yearning that made him a poor ruler indeed). In this film, the younger Edward is just a bad chip off the old block.

The film doesn’t run the length of Braveheart, so it can’t spend the time building and enriching the emotional life of the characters. We don’t quite see Robert’s emotional motivation to rebel in the same way we saw William Wallace’s. Chris Pine holds more back than Gibson does, preferring to act with his eyes in something of a slow burn. How well he pulls that off is for the viewer to decide.

Bottom Line: it’s both less thrilling and less fanciful than Braveheart. It runs close to the truth, and is never boring. Worth a watch.

Why I Don’t Go To the Movies Anymore

Every now and again I catch myself with a free evening to catch a movie. Usually the little ones are off somewhere, or I’m off somewhere, and I have some hours to spare. Inevitably I have the same conversation with myself or others:

“What’s playing?”

“Anything I want to see?”

“Anything possibly entertaining?”

“Hell with it. To the local food eatery/dispenser of spirits!”

But the plural of anecdote is not data (or is it?), so let’s consider what’s in theaters this very weekend. Mayhaps I will be surprised:

First Man: I’ve already blogged about this. I don’t care at all. Spoilers: he lands on the moon.

Venom: Venom is not a hero. I’m going to retype that bold and in all caps: VENOM IS NOT A HERO. Venom is a villain (and I don’t care how many nerds want to argue and say that on their character dimension chart, he’s Chaotic Neutral or some nonsense. Venom fights Spiderman. That makes him a villain. Also, Chaotic Neutral is the laziest kind of character creation, because it just means you can do whatever you happen to need to do. It’s not edgy, nerds). Villains should not be protagonists, because they are villains. I’m looking at you, DC with your insistence on making The Joker the soul of the Batman world. Stop that now.

Bad Times at the El Royale: Looks like a script for Smokin’ Aces 3 got manhandled by someone on Tarantino’s editing staff. I like Jon Hamm doing noir stuff so I’ll probably check this out at some point. But not in the theaters.

A Star is Born: They are now so far down the remake well that they’ve hit this muck. And don’t tell me it’s not a remake. They didn’t have Bradley Cooper grow a Jesus beard to not look like Kris Kirstofferson. People struggle towards fame and sing songs and become famous and Lady Gaga’s voice is like Buttah! Pleh.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. This might be fun if you made a drinking game out of it. And you brought booze into the theater. And went by mistake.

Smallfoot. The Yetis don’t believe humans exist, until a misfit Yeti teaches the community that what they think is wrong. IT’S LIKE A METAPHOR YOU GUYS.

Night School. Kevin Hart is wacky – in school. It’s probably funnier than whatever Adam Sandler poops out next. But not much funnier.

Halloween. Am I the only one that thinks its weird that they haven’t remade Nightmare on Elm Street yet? I hope so, because if I’m not they’re eventually going to remake it. And it will suck. Just like this will.

The House With a Clock in It’s Walls. The Kids Doing Magic genre is getting thicker…..

….and Jack Black is getting laaaaaaarger.

The Hate U Give. The Social Justice flick of the season. Sleeper Oscar favorite. The star will be lauded, give speeches, and then never have a career.

Have I always been this cynical?

A Simple Favor. There’s a reason Paul Feig keeps getting work, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is. That said, this might be worth a Netflixing.

Hell Fest. In which horror tropes go meta. I really do tire of horror’s self-awareness sometimes. Just splatter the blood and stop acting like you’re Fellini.

The Nun. Like The Name of the Rose, but stupider.

The Predator. Does anyone else think it’s weird that they haven’t done a Commando remake…

And the final result?

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Rian Johnson Blames Critical Reception of The Last Jedi on Russian Trolls

Yep. That’s a thing that happened.

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You know, I didn’t walk out of the theater disliking The Last Jedi. Quite the contrary. I enjoyed it. My whole family – all SW fans in general, none quite as obsessive as me – liked it, too. When the Vice Admiral Hole-Card jumped to light speed right into the First Order Fleet, I whispered under my breath “that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen” and my six-year-old said “Me, too.” That was a cool moment I got to have.

But this kind of idiocy is going to put me right into the camp of the haters. It’s just a gussied-up version of the wearisome defenses of The Phantom Menace that got slung around in the summer of ’99. Back then, “Bashers” were told that they needed to get in touch with their “inner child” and then they’d see that the new movie was really great and entertaining, not tedious and disjointed. Now, critics are told the reverse, that they’re hapless stooges of Rooskie Mind Control. Both of which are ways to Dismiss and Disqualify, which are pernicious, weedlike versions of the Argumentum ad Hominem.

On top of that, it reminds us that Lucasfilm has no intention of breaking its 20-year habit of treating Star Wars like a rented mule to carry money. They have no interest in finding out what the problem is. They have no interest in meeting fans halfway. Anyone not singing the Oceania anthem for every piece of product is a filthy miscreant who is guilty of all manner of thoughtcrime.

If Episode IX tanks, they will have richly deserved it.

Addendum: Want to watch something way more subversive than The Last Jedi? Here’s a 7-minute short by some Japanese-style animators that will have you rooting for the Empire. Subversive, and awesome.

 

You Done Poked the Hive: Larry Corriea, provoked by this paranoid buck-passing, de-lurks (as far as The Last Jedi goes) to poop all over it from a great height.

Characters it’s all about rooting for someone. When your characters do nothing but stupid shit, it’s hard to root for them. Your antagonists need to be menacing, not clowns, or worse, just thrown away! (hey, Snoke is interesting… and never mind…).  Or Phasma. Hey, wow, she must be super bad ass to have the silver armor and…. Garbage chute… Maybe some menace this time and…. Oh fuck it.

The Ewoks had more character than this. AND THEY COULDN’T BLINK.

It’s official. Disney has managed to make a SW move that the fans hate as much as The Phantom Menace. Heckuva job, guys.

“First Man” has a Lot of Advertising, and Variety Thinks That’s Worth Knowing

No, really. This is a real article.

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “First Man.”

Is there some kind of contest for this? An award? Is there a reason I should devote a single brain cell to the fact that a studio spent more money advertising a particular film than other studios spent on other films? Is this the NFL Draft of the movie industry?

I hate the NFL Draft. Not because it exists, but because people get all excited to watch it. People find football teams picking football players entertaining. And the drama of whether this althete or that althete goes First Round or Second Round, and how the crap teams trade picks to the good teams and…

Oh-my-god-who-the-hell-cares

Anyway…

My initial prediction on First Man, in my previous post on next years Oscars, was to say that it will do decent box office and not get any nominations. I’m now going to say that some of the minor controversey about it not showing the American Flag could be sufficient among the Right-Thinking Folks to punish the sansculottes by giving it some Oscar Buzz. Mike Pence would hate that, right?

And that’s all that matters.

The Wheel of Time comes to Amazon

Cue all the “At least this series is finished” snark.

Set in an epic world where magic exists but only women can use it, “The Wheel of Time” follows Moiraine, a member of the shadowy and influential all-female organization called the “Aes Sedai,” as she embarks on a dangerous journey with five young men and women across the world. Moiraine is interested in these five “because she believes one of them might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual, who prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it,” Amazon said in a statement.

The series draws on numerous elements of European and Asian culture and philosophy, especially Buddhism and Hinduism.

It also… kind of sucks.

Robert Jordan was the American Tolkein before George R.R. Martin was so dubbed, and the Wheel of Time series starts with a bang. It’s a fully realized world with a sprawling backstory, and the idea that magic has two components: one male, one female, but the male half has been poisoned and unusable for millenia, is a neat hook to hang an apocalyptic battle on. The first book was great.

The second book was good.

The third book was… I don’t remember. Let’s say goodish?

The fourth book I remember better than the third book. It was kind of interesting.

I don’t remember the fifth book at all.

I don’t remember the sixth book at all.

I gave up partway through the seventh book.

There are fourteen books in the series.

Jordan’s problem wasn’t production. He dropped 700+-page novels every 2-3 years, regular as clockwork. The longest fans had to wait for the next volume was four years, because Jordan died and Brandon Sanderson finished the series from Jordan’s notes. Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire fans would give bloodleeches to Melisandre for that kind of predictability.

The problem was, for all that production, the story moved hardly at all. Whole books would be spent on a single narrative involving a single character, while other characters stayed in limbo. By the time I checked out, halfway through, the Wheels of Time were spinning in the mud.

This reached its culmination in Crossroads of Twilight, the tenth book in the series, which focuses on what every character but the protagonist was doing (mostly: nothing) while the main character, Rand al-Thor, did a big thing in the previous book. Rand is present for two chapters in CoT, mostly brooding. Or, as one of the thousands (yes, thousands) of negative Amazon reviews has it:

Here is a list of things that DON”T happen in this book.

Mat does not marry Tuon. Perrin does not rescue Faile or Alliandre or Morgase, Rand does not do anything. Elayne does not gain the Rose Throne. Egwene does not re-unite the White Tower. Elaida does not defeat the rebels. No darkfriends are unmasked. No black ajah are unmasked. Morraine does not come back from wherever she has been for the last 8 books. Savanne does not get what is coming to her. No Forsaken are unmasked. Mazrim Taim’s plans do not become clear. Logain’s plans do not become clear. The Seanchan don’t gain victory/defeat on any front. The Great Lord does not break free. Gawain does not join Egwene. I could go on.
What does happen in this novel? Elayne drinks lots of watery tea. Egwene has lots of headaches, Rand lies in bed with Min and wishes he were dead. Loail explains again why he is not ready to settle down. Aviendha wanders around in the buff again. Mat continues to not understand women. Aes Sedai and the Sea Folk, and the Kin continue to argue with one another about every little thing. We continue to get a fashion review of what every woman is wearing, and how much bosom she is showing (typically a great deal). That’s about it.

So, despite the “productivity”, both Martin and Jordan had/have the same unwillingness to finish. Whether this is from greed or simple logorrhea, Jordan could not bring himself to enter the series’ third act. In the end he did not, and another author finished the series for him.

This may be a risky series for Amazon to adapt. On the one hand, the sheer length of the thing begs for a long-form, serial treatment. TV can dig into the nuances of this in a way that movies can’t. But the showrunners will have to make smart choices, or the TV series will get bogged down in the same way the books did. Some of the fluff will need to be cut away, or around Season 10 the fans will be as frustrated and bored with the plot slows and the encyclopedic panoply of minor characters as the readers were.

The other problem is the characters. The world in Wheel of Time is much more intricate and realized than the characters are. The characters barely stand out at all, in fact. All the male characters are varying degrees of dim, and all the female characters varying degrees of shrewish. The symphony of confused grimaces and braid-tugging becomes a chore pretty early in the series, and it never relents. Rand al-Thor doesn’t have Jon Snow’s dogged rectitude, and Egwene lacks Danaerys Targaryen’s heroic passion. The sense of decisions that matter and shift the characters, the sense of life-or-death hanging in the balance, is peculiarly absent. The characters just seem to keep going, and they don’t ever seem to change.

Granted, I checked out half-way through. It may be that a TV series can move credibly through the vast scope of Jordan’s universe and give the characters distinct lives. But I’m probably going to wait on word-of-mouth.