Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses Part II

Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses Part II

I’m back and as promised we’re still on the topic of the season of Game of Thrones. I knew that trying to cover all threads left dangling in a single article would be impossible, so let’s pick things up from where we left off. And if you haven’t read my previous article you can find it here: https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/game-of-thrones-season-8-theories-speculation-and-guesses/

-The Greyjoys-

While we know Euron’s endgame is to assist Cersei by ferrying The Golden Company (we’ll get to them in a bit) to King’s Landing in hopes of finally winning her hand, what about the rest? Yara is his prisoner on the Iron Islands and Theon is on his way to break her out, but what are the odds of this going well? With The Iron Fleet doing Cersei’s dirty work there’s a good chance that the Iron Islands are not well guarded. We’re in dire need of seeing Theon finally get some redemption. For the past five seasons we’ve seen his strength erode and the moment we think all is well he cracks. I think there’s a good chance we’ll get some character redemption for Theon, but at what cost? I could see Theon and Yara facing off with Euron only for Theon to die in the process. Because there is one thing that is inevitable.

-Death Death Death-

Oh yeah, we know for sure there is going to be a lot of this coming. I’m almost certain that we’ll see a multitude of side characters shuffle off the mortal coil. At this point it’s almost guaranteed that both Varys and Melisandre are on the top of that list. As she prophesied as much in season seven there’s no doubt in my mind. But along with that odds are Sir Beric will finally die. In the books he gave his life to resurrect Catelyn Stark, so I could potentially see something similar happen. There are many who have a hand to play in the final battle and if Beric believed The Lord of Light wanted to him to give his life to bring someone back he’d gladly do it. Jon Snow has already been brought back, so he’s more than likely out of the question. I could see Sandor “The Hound” Clegane being a possible option. If he were to die and be brought back this would be a big turning point for his character. He might finally believe he has a purpose in life. As heartbreaking as it might be there’s also a chance Tormund might not make it. Our favorite wildling has done a lot in service to Jon and we love him because of it. That would be a huge blow to morale especially for Jon and it would give him more of a reason to keep fighting.

-The Faceless Men-

With Arya’s from Braavos we have not seen nor heard anything about The Faceless Men. While it’s assumed that Arya paid her debt and Jaqen H’ghar (if it was him) let her leave scot free there’s a chance that’s not the end. Arya has been using the trade she learned from them to cross a few people off her list and that may not set well. The Faceless Men worship The Faceless God and as we know there is a strong accounting for life and death. With that said, Arya’s vendetta has been racking up quite the body count. I could see a Faceless Man paying the North a visit next season and death coming with. While we all love Arya and that’s why it would hurt to see her die. But I could see one of the Faceless Men either coming for her or someone she cares about. And if they come for Jon, Sansa, or someone else important she may sacrifice herself to save them.

-Clegane Vs. Clegane-

Everyone seems to be spoiling for this face off to happen. We know that the animosity between The Hound and The Mountain has been something they’ve had in them since they were children. After Gregor burned Sandor’s face for playing with a toy and their father blaming it on a bedroom fire it’s not been pleasant. When we saw the pair finally see each other again for the first time since season one there was a bit of foreshadowing that these two will come to blows. While I personally see this fight as fan service if done well it could be impressive. Sandor may finally get his well deserved revenge and another person could be added to the pile of dead assholes.

-The Golden Company-

This may be the most troubling prospect on the horizon. Even if The Army of The Dead is defeated  Jon and Dany face another epic problem. The Golden Company is considered some the best trained (possibly exceeding The Unsullied) warriors in Game of Thrones. If the North is left in tatters after killing The Night King and his army they’ll be severely outnumbered by the 10,000 strong sellswords Cersei has hired to do her dirty work. But as we’ve seen sellswords have never been the most reliable army. Stannis hired an army only to be defeated by Ramsay and co. and Bronn has said his allegiance lies with whoever is going to win. While The Golden Company have never broken a single contract that could change. Even if they have war elephants I’d assume seeing dragons would make them think twice about marching into battle. And it’s no longer a matter of if so much as when Jon’s true parentage will be revealed. If they found out they were fighting against the rightful heir of the iron throne there’s a chance it would get them to surrender.

-Prophecy Three-

So who is, “The Prince(ss) who was Promised”? This has been a major point of speculation not only in the series, but amongst fans. As of now the big contenders are Jon and Dany. While both are viable candidates what if to quote Yoda, “There is another.” I truly believe that Jon will get Dany pregnant and that child will be the promised one. And bonus points if the child is named Rhaegar.

-The Endgame-

George R.R. Martin has previously stated that he intends to have a bittersweet ending for A Song of Ice and Fire’s story. While it has been a road painted with a lot of bitter (Ned’s death and The Red Wedding to name a few) there needs to be some sweet. Either there could be fair and caring people who sit on the iron throne or the Seven Kingdoms will be broken up and Robert’s Rebellion and all the bloodshed will have been for nothing. But how iconic would it be to see Drogon’s fire melt down the iron throne? Or, considering a lot of this mess was put into place by incest it could almost be… for lack of a better word poetic that incest is what cleans it up. Dany has built up quite a following and Jon being a Stark would bring any hold outs to the table. How is that for bittersweet?

-Bonus: Dead Man Walking-

How fucked up would it be to see white walker Hodor in the Army of the Dead? Yeah, let that traumatic image set in.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Are you ready to see how Game of Thrones ends? Are you more excited for the final two books? Do you think we’ll get a satisfying conclusion? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

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Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses

Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses

A week has passed since HBO aired the final episode in Game of Thrones penultimate season. While fans have gotten time to digest the events they’re left with the big question: How will it all end? All we know for sure at the moment is that season eight will have five episodes that will run anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. Rumors have even been spreading that the season won’t premiere until 2019. If it’s true we have at the very least 16 months of waiting ahead of us. Let’s put some of that time to good use and begin wonder what will happen in those five episodes. Without further ado, let’s begin. And to avoid any ire there will be SPOILERS in this article

-The Structure-

Five episodes doesn’t give much time for the action to unfold. With that if they stick to a traditional structure this will be five acts or three. So one episode for each act, or two episodes for the first act, one episode of the second act, and two episodes for the third act. Either way we can assume that episodes one & two will be rising action (setting up the events between all of our characters), episode three will be the crisis (The War with the Dead), episode four will be the falling action (The War for The Iron Throne), and episode five will be the climax (who is still alive and where their place will be in this kingdom). Not that in-depth, but it gives us an idea of how all the pieces of the story will fall into place.

-Samwell’s Knowledge and Where He Could Go-

With his exodus from the Citadel Samwell has made a point of making sure he can offer as much help to Jon and those who intend to take part in fighting the Night King and his Army of the Dead. Before leaving he took numerous documents that could reveal the secrets key to their victory. Finding out how to make Valyrian steel would be the best way to turn the tide in the living’s favor. What if all the items necessary were in their grasp? It could be all that’s needed is steel, dragonglass, and dragon fire to craft it. With the magical properties of dragonglass and knowing that it can kill white walkers, it might be that combining it with steel and melting them together with dragon fire will create the much needed weapon.

If Sam discovers this and makes sure everyone is armed when the war comes he will have accomplished something not done in hundreds of years. With that whoever comes out on top might see fit to pardon Sam from his duty with the Night’s Watch. Knowing his father and brother (Randyll and Dickon) are both deceased Sam could possibly claim lordship of Horn Hill. That would be a nice reward to our beloved Sam and big middle finger to his dead father.

-Prophecy One-

With three major prophecies in play let’s dig into two of them now and leave a major one for a little later. First, we have Daenerys’ vision in The House of the Undying that spoke of three treasons, “…once for blood and once for gold and once for love”. If we assume that two of these treasons have already happened there’s still one to go. Once for love could be Jorah Mormont. The prophecy states that she will know the treasons, not that they will befall her. When Jorah fell in love with Dany he betrayed King Robert and the possibility of receiving a royal pardon. Once for gold could be Doreah. Having sold Dany out to Daxos she chose to live in luxury only to be left sealed in a vault. Now, what about blood? In season seven’s finale our final sight of Tyrion is him with a rather grim look on his face. What does it mean? It could be that after his conversation with Cersei he is questioning his loyalties to Dany. As we saw with the Stark girls recently, blood is thicker than water. Tyrion may not like his family, but he does love them and would possibly want to help House Lannister survive.

-Prophecy Two-

Now let’s take a look at what Maggy the Frog told Cersei as a child. In a nutshell: Cersei would become queen, but a younger queen would take her place. She would have three children all of whom she will outlive. And finally her younger brother will be the person who killed her. So far, most of this has happened with the exception of her death and the new queen. With her recent pregnancy we can assume Cersei is feeling like she has bested this curse. If she were to miscarry Cersei may realize that her fate is sealed and begin acting irrationally. With the Golden Company and Euron Greyjoy on her side she could drive an army north scorching everything she touches along the way. While she always assumed it would be Tyrion that would be the one who killed her, there is another younger brother. Jaime was technically born after her. He’s already left her side to go north knowing she has no plans to help. Seeing her cruelty reach further heights he might sacrifice the woman he loves to save Westeros. He’s already killed a Mad King, so killing a Mad Queen wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

-The Tullys-

With the end in sight there are a lot of major threads left dangling. While some of them may not be key to the main story it’d still be nice to get some resolution. Edmure and Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully haven’t been seen since season six, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be back. Edmure might still be locked away in a cell at The Twins, but what about The Blackfish? While director Mark Mylod has stated that The Blackfish did die off-screen we have no hard evidence. No corpse was seen and characters who’ve been considered dead (The Hound, Jon Snow) turned out to be alive. Both of which the creators kept mum about their fates until they were brought back into the fold. Edmure or The Blackfish would be a key ally to Jon and Dany by rallying the forces of Riverrun to their cause.

-Grains of Sand-

In season seven we saw the fall of two key allies to Dany. The Tyrells were reduced to nothing with the death of Olenna and Jaime sacking Highgarden to “pay their debts”. The Martells were left in ruin with capture of Ellaria Sand and death of the Sand Snakes. Ellaria now sits in a dungeon to watch her daughter Tyene slowly be killed from the Long Farewell. While this could be the last we see of Ellaria it seems like a rather improper send off. There could and should be more for her story.

It seems this article has run long and doesn’t nearly cover enough ground as I had hoped. Funny, when writing about George R.R. Martin’s work I’m now going to take a page from his own playbook. I will split this article in half and continue these discussions in next week’s entry. So if I didn’t talk about something pertinent this time around stay tuned.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you have an alternative theory to anything written in this article? Are you going to avoid articles like this in hopes of being surprised next season? Will you be back next week where I continue to extrapolating my harebrained theories? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Ducktales 2017: How does it Measure Up?

Ducktales 2017: How does it Measure Up?

I was pleasantly surprised to a couple weeks back when the first episode of Ducktales was released on Disney XD’s YouTube channel. As a kid I grew up on re-runs of the 1987 Ducktales series and remember my mom putting a hiatus on the number of times I could rent Treasure of the Lost Lamp from our town library. So while initially skeptical when the new broke in 2015 I warmed to the idea. I’ve watched the pilot a few times and wanted to look over some the aspects of the show, give my thoughts, and see where the series could go from here. So without further ado, lets dig in.

-The Story-

While the key components of the ’87 series are in place there are a few great changes. It was fascinating to see Scrooge as an old man who sees his golden years behind him. A duck who lived for adventure to build his fortune now forced to maintain his fortune through business ventures. The boredom has set in and made him unhappy. The introduction of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby re-ignite the passion for danger. The big aspect that has me really intrigued is the plot point they ended the episode on. As a kid I always wondered where Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s parents were during their childhood. That final shot revealing that their mother was part of Scrooge and Donald’s early adventures gives the show an overarching story full of potential to keep the show interesting.

-The Characters-

It was nice to see in forty plus minutes that almost every character got their traits set up. Huey, Dewey, and Louie now feel like they have their own separate personalities. I will admit the ’87 series never really tried to distinguish the three apart from each other. Aside from a handful of episodes where the plot dealt with one of them having identity issues there was never any character development. I’d go so far as to say that you could grab a script from the ’87 series, exchange dialogue between the three, and it would make little to no difference.

My favorite character revision has to be Webby. She never had much of a personality in the old series and often felt underwritten. I liked how the creators knew they needed to give her more to do to keep her relevant. Some critics have drawn parallels between this new take on the character and Mabel from Disney’s other series Gravity Falls. I can see the similarities, but I’d rather Webby be smart, competent, and be an equal to the boys instead of being as flat as her character was back in the day.

Another great addition was making Donald Duck one of the main characters rather than special guest in a handful of episodes. I can not wait to see the dynamic between Scrooge and Donald build through the series. As for Scrooge he is pitch perfect in this new incarnation. I’ll speak more on this below, but there’s one final thing I’d like to touch upon.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of Duckworth in the pilot episode. From a writing aspect I understand his absence from the show. Taking his attributes and splitting them between Launchpad and Mrs. Beakley makes the cast leaner and leads to less messy writing through the series. I am optimistic that Duckworth and numerous other characters from the original series will pop up in future episodes. You can catch a glimpse of Gyro Gearloose in the opening credits and the show’s creators revealed many beloved characters will serve a purpose in show. So, maybe they’ve found a new way to use Duckworth and we’ll see him in upcoming episodes.

-The Cast-

This is kind of a mixed bag for me. The biggest win of the series was landing David Tennant in the voice role of Scrooge. Hearing a Scotsman voicing Scrooge is a great joy over someone trying to do a poor imitation of such an accent. I also really enjoyed hearing Kate Micucci as the voice of Webby. Aside from having previous experience in voice acting (A great take on the iconic Velma Dinkley in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!) she gave the character a much needed energy and was probably the best of the kids. My biggest worry is the three actors voicing the nephews. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are kids and while Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan are great comedic actors with impressive chops all of them sounded their age instead of like children. It might just be something I’ll have to get use to, but it’s a little jarring. As of now I’m uncertain about Beck Bennett as Launchpad. There were times where the voice sounded almost identical to Terry McGovern’s Launchpad and other times he sounds like a so so imitation. Again, it might just take some time to get use to.

-The Animation-

This seems to be a big point of contention amongst fans. Some have praised the new take for the color palette looking like something from the original comic strip. Others have said the character design of the nephews and Webby’s heads are too round. I’m on the polar opposite end of both issues. I don’t mind the re-designs of the kids as I assume it was to give them a look to differentiate them from the adults. To me what made the original series great was the vibrant colors that made the show feel more epic than a typical animated TV show of the time had. I hope that as the show progresses they’ll bring more saturated colors into the animation.

-My Personal Opinion-

After all this discussion and dissection of the pilot I really enjoyed it. Much like the recent reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this series feels like a show made by people who loved the original animated take on the characters. Not only does the series act as a great way to bring news into the fold it, but it also gives old fans like myself some great winks to the original show to know it intends to honor it’s legacy.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Are you excited to see where Ducktales goes from here? Did you enjoy the new take on the show’s iconic theme song? Are you looking forward to seeing the Beagle Boys, Magica De Spell, Fenton Crackshell, and numerous other characters return? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

What’s Up With My Annabelle Creation?

What’s Up With My Annabelle Creation?

Just under a week ago RedLetterMedia’s Half in the Bag episode for Annabelle: Creation dropped on YouTube. What’s more fascinating than the review of the film itself is Mike and Jay talking about the My Annabelle Creation contest. The idea of the contest was for up and coming filmmakers to craft a short film set within the “Conjuring” universe. The winner of the contest was awarded a meeting with New Line execs and director David F. Sandberg about developing the short into a feature length film in the vein of the Conjuring film universe. On the surface it sounds like a fantastic idea, until Mike pulls out some of the fine print from the contest’s rules and found some pretty shady details. In this article I wanted to take a look at this controversy, what’s been said by others since the RLM review, and what it all could mean. So, without further ado let’s get to it.

-What’s the Big Deal?-

Within the rules of the contest the studio is given a three year option to make a feature length version of the film for fifty dollars. If the option is exorcised with the three year time frame another fifty dollars will be paid to the creator. This in and of itself is a rather shady deal. A typical option on other material (i.e. A script, novel, comic) lasts from twelve to eighteen months with a claus to extend the option by three to six months. Even if a film has an eighteen month option extended for the additional six that’s a still a year less than the contest’s.

In addition to the exclusivity of the option let’s look at the monetary amount provided for said option. Fifty dollars is not only insultingly low by typical standard option prices, but it makes the purchase price even worse. A typical option for a non-WGA affiliated writer tends to be around a couple thousand dollars. Not much, but still more than fifty. But an option’s price is often a percentage of what the purchase price will be. Example, your option could be $1,000 or ten percent of the purchase price. Making the script’s sale around $10,000. That mean’s that Annabelle: Creation’s option is 100% of the purchase price.

-What are the Best/Worst Case Scenarios?-

From the looks of everything presented New Line holds all the cards in this deal. Although if we play the Devil’s advocate there are “potential” perks for winner Julian Terry and his short The Nurse. The best case scenario would be that Terry gets to move forward crafting a feature length film based off The Nurse. Along with his debut film being studio produced it could include a strong marketing campaign and wide theatrical release. Not bad for a director’s first feature length film.

Even if the studio decides not move forward with the feature that doesn’t mean Terry is out of luck. Winning this contest has raised his profile to the point where he has been in contact with multiple talent managers. Anyone struggling to break into studio filmmaking knows how big of a coup it is to get a manager. This gives Terry the ability to get other projects he’s working on off the ground. I have no doubt other studios/producers have seen The Nurse and would be interested in bringing Terry in to direct a film for them. Still not a bad deal.

The worst case scenario would be to see New Line take The Nurse and develop the feature length version without Terry’s involvement. In that case he’s left with a hundred dollars and watching from the sidelines as The Nurse gets made. The cynic in me sees how this could happen, but the optimist in me wants to hope that Terry has an ally in his corner. David F. Sandberg has come out after the controversy stirred up stating that he’s talking with New Line to clarify the agreement. Sandberg’s short Lights Out was optioned by New Line leading to his own feature film debut. His hand in this contest feels like a genuinely good guy who caught a break wanting to help another filmmaker catch a similar break. Although he may not be a big name (yet) he’s made two films for New Line that have grossed over a hundred million dollars on relatively small budgets. If New Line wants to stay in business with Sandberg they’ll listen to his concerns and make sure Terry comes out of this contest with a good deal.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think that all this controversy is warranted? Or is this just the Internet blowing things out of proportion? Would you be interested in seeing The Nurse become part of the Conjuring universe? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Dissecting the Low Box Office of Summer 2017

Dissecting the Low Box Office of Summer 2017

With the summer film season pretty much over there has been a lot of talk about the low numbers at the box office. We’ve heard the trouble that AMC Theaters is facing with a huge dip in their profits and Wanda Group buying up a large chunk of their stock. So in an age when we’re seeing more films break the billion dollar mark how is there such a huge slump? What’s sailing and what’s crashing? Is there any reason besides the quality of a film that is to blame for this? Today I will start sifting through the rubble and give my personal opinions on the matter.

-3D is on the Decline-

Hard to believe that it’s been eight years since Avatar came out with studios taking away the wrong lesson from the film. Since then we’ve seen multiple films that have used this tool as a way to tack a few extra bucks to ticket prices as a means to inflate box office numbers. Over the past eight years I’ve noticed the number of 3D showtimes slowly start to taper off. Most filmgoers (myself included) have been turned off by the over saturation. 3D is no longer something used to enhance a story and people are sick of shelling out for it. While studios don’t care theater chains have taken note and book more 2D showtimes than 3D. I know that personally that it has been over three years since I saw a 3D film (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and I have no intention of changing that anytime soon.

-Franchises/Cinematic Universes Are Not a Sure Bet-

Every year I have to talk about the sequels, reboots, or other franchise non-starters that failed. Why did (insert brand name and number here) not make money? How did Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean go from a billion dollar fourth films to a fifth one that will not crack $800 million? Let’s just state right now that neither of those films were bombs, but they definitely underwhelmed. People are not getting tired of sequels (we’ll come back to that), but they’re tired of mediocre films. Both On Stranger Tides and Age of Extinction coasted off the success of their previous films so who would want to see a fifth film if it’s predecessor didn’t measure up?

Now we come to what has become the biggest detriment to modern blockbusters. The obligatory cinematic universe where movies don’t need to be sequels, but can leech off of each others success to sell tickets. People have seen how Marvel changed the game and now want to copy and paste that style. The biggest faceplant right out the gate was Universal’s Dark Universe with this summer’s The Mummy. Previously Universal has tried to make this idea work with Dracula Untold which didn’t make the money they’d hoped. But if at first you don’t succeed, ignore the previous film and try again. The Mummy tried to right the ship and get this universe on track. Unfortunately instead of telling an entertaining self contained story it put the cart five miles before the horse planting the seeds for films that are still in pre-production. Nobody wants to see a film who’s main goal is to sell us on another story.

-Comic Movies Are Still Successful-

Every year people continue to predict that the superhero bubble is going to burst. While there have been some clunkers in the past few years the majority are making bank. Marvel continues their winning streak with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 pulling in over $800 million. Spider-Man: Homecoming sits at a healthy $700 million with a few major territories rolling the film out in the coming months. The DCEU upped their game with Wonder Woman raking in nearly $800 million. The best part: all three of these film received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Are we going to see superhero films crash and burn? More than likely, trends in films are cyclical as we’ve seen with the western genre. But for now it’s safe to say this genre is bankable.

-New Apparently Isn’t the Answer-

It’s funny how people have spent what feels like decades decrying Hollywood for having no original ideas. In a time when brand recognition is the biggest asset Hollywood can achieve the number of non-franchise films are diminishing. This year we had a handful of original films that had mixed results at the box office. Both Baby Driver and Dunkirk pulled in a decent return on their investment, but let’s focus on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. An ambitious space opera based off a French manga directed by Luc Beeson. It may be based off a pre-existing property, but pull fifty people in a crowd and ask them if they’ve heard of this manga. The trailers were flashy and they had two young people in the lead. And yet, a so so story really hampered this film. So while it was original it wasn’t fantastic. We need quality to go with originality.

-The Diminishing Importance of Summer-

Once Jaws came out in 1975 and made bank it changed how studios released their yearly slate of films. Since then there has been a very specific pattern in how films are released. January: The dumping ground for films studios have no faith in. February/March: Genre films that have no other place in the year. April: Key up for the summer. May/June/July/August: The moneymaker months! September/October: Comedy and Horror films predominantly. November/December: Films vying for Oscars and a handful of blockbusters released over holiday weekends. In the late 2000’s that thought process changed. 300 was a moderately budgeted film that opened on March 9th, 2007 and made over $450 million. After this studios decided to look at weekends throughout year where there was zero competition from others and popped in films hoping to dominate the box office. Spreading out high budget films has now become a major way to hedge their bets. This year alone Beauty and the Beast, The Fate of the Furious, and Logan all opened before the summer started and pulled in a large amount of money. Had they opened in the May-August timeline odds are their numbers wouldn’t have been nearly as strong.

-In Conclusion-

So while studios try to distill all these problems into one easy answer they miss the point. You can not think one solution will fix a summer slump. And let’s be honest it’s a slump, nothing more.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Did you enjoy the summer films? Did you decide to stay home and binge watch Netflix and Hulu? What was your favorite/worst films of the summer. Let me know. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

PS: I’m working on something special for an upcoming article. If I can crack it be prepared something a little different from my usual style.

No One Sets Out to Make a Bad Film?

No One Sets Out to Make a Bad Film?

Bad films are gauged on a critical spectrum all their own. Whether you have films that are high concept failures (The Last Airbender), low budget schlock (Silent Night Deadly Night: Part 2, Street Trash, and numerous other 80’s horror films), so bad they’re good (Tammy and the T-Rex is a personal favorite of mine), movies that set out to be prestige pictures only to fail miserably (United Passions), and the rare film that transcends it’s terrible reputation to become a cultural milestone (The Room, Troll 2) there is no limit to the long list of bad films. We’re often told with multiple misfires that no one sets out to make a bad film. Ed Wood wanted to craft an important film with Glen or Glenda and 20th Century Fox wanted to reboot a superhero franchise with Fant4stic. Neither of these got the reception their creators had hoped, but what about other films? Have we entered a time where the market for terrible films is now being targeted by opportunistic directors, producers, and studios? Let’s take a look at some of the recent trends in bad filmmaking and how they’re contributing bad films in a bad way.

-The Mockbuster Market-

This is something that truly bothers me. The term “mockbuster” came into the filmmaking lexicon around the mid 2000’s. Basically when a large tentpole film gets released in theatres (Thor) a company will release a low-budget knock-off with a similar title direct to video in hopes of exploiting consumer ignorance (Almighty Thor). The most notable example of this is the production company The Asylum. While they originally made low budget films with original concepts (and still do occasionally) all that changed when their version War of the Worlds was released to coincide with the big budget Cruise/Spielberg remake. With a hit on their hands multiple films got released in this vein (Snakes on a Train, Sunday School Musical, Transmorphers, and numerous more) continuing the trend to this day. While this is by no means a current trend as these kinds of films have been around for ages. In fact: if you look back to the late 70’s early 80’s there were numerous films that tried to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Some of these films have gone onto be classics in a somewhat odd fashion. Piranha rode the success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, but in turn launched the career of Joe Dante. Who coincidentally went on to direct the Spielberg produced Gremlins. The difference is now it has become a legitimate industry instead of a one off film from a producer looking to make a quick buck to finance their next project.

-Content for Cable-

My family got cable for the first time when I was a kid and it was exciting. I now had channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network at my disposal. Along the way I branched into other major networks. USA was where I initially saw films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Critters, but along with them I saw films like Mosquito and the previously mentioned Tammy and the T-Rex. USA created the spin-off Sci-Fi channel (now known as SyFy) and this is where things got interesting. Many numerous bad films found their way onto this channel and developed a niche following. Then came 2013, there was an abnormal amount of buzz surrounding one of these films. Sharknado (a film from the previously mentioned The Asylum) hit Internet forums like an atom bomb propelling the film to a limited theatrical release and became a multi-film franchise. While the original film may have been an attempt at taking a kooky idea and make something from it the three sequels upped the ridiculous factor just to get more from this insanity. So much so that Sharknado 5: Global Meltdown debuted last night and the possibility of a sixth film not out of the question.

-Critics of the Bad-

Oh boy, here is the big factor that for me has shifted bad filmmaking into the norm. Looking back the kickstarter of this trend was the classic (and thankfully still going strong) series Mystery Science Theater 3000. What makes this show so endearing is how relatable it has always been. Who hasn’t sat around with friends and cracked jokes at a film they’re watching? With the rise of Youtube many people flocked to the platform to critique media. I’ve talked previously about a handful of these channels, but I’d like to shift my focus towards Youtuber I Hate Everything. He has a series titled “The Search for the Worst” where he berates some of lowest rent films made. One of his reviews was for the film “The Amazing Bulk”. In typical fashion he ripped the film to shreds. Surprisingly Wide Eye Releasing the company who distributed the film got in contact with him. They thanked him for raising the profile of the film and even sent him a gift. Along side the gift was a copy of their film “Shark Exorcist”. Yep, this is where things have gone. A studio now relishes the attention a bad review can give that they will go out of their way to make similar situation occur with another film. This to me is proof that some bad films are no longer a fluke. And this is what bugs me the most. What’s the point of putting forth any effort if you can film mediocrity and bank on notoriety to sell it?

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do people now set out with the intention of making a bad film? Do you think an industry of terrible films is a problem? Or does it just give people more options for their entertainment? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts and Instagram. As always, thanks for reading.

Star Wars, Troubled Productions, and What it All Means.

Star Wars, Troubled Productions, and What it All Means.

It has been two weeks since news broke that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were exiting the upcoming Han Solo spin-off film. While it’s not uncommon for directors to pull out of a film during pre-production it’s almost unheard of for this to happen mid-shooting. I’ve been wanting to write an article discussing some aspects of what’s going on at Lucasfilm and the behind the scenes issues that have plagued Han Solo and Rogue One. Now that more news has surfaced lets consider all news/rumors and speculate what it all means.

-He Said, She Said-

As with any director departing a project the reason cited with Han Solo was “creative differences”. This is a buzz term used multiple times over in scenarios similar to this one. So, what does creative differences mean? In a nutshell: it’s a diplomatic term that can mean anything from, “The director and producer/studio have differing ideas on what the story/style of the film should be.” to “Someone on this production is completely insane and other person(s) involved don’t want to be working with them for over a year.” As of now we’re hearing conflicting stories. Story A: Lord and Miller have been facing opposition from producer Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan from the get go. The pair have wanted to inject their signature style into the film and enjoy the creative freedom they’ve been given on previous films. Instead they were being treated like directors hired to execute a preordained idea that was the voice of someone else. Story B: After seeing dailies the directors had shot the studio and others involved were mortified to see a comedic tone where lead actor Alden Ehrenriech’s performance was likened to Jim Carrey. In between we’ve been hearing multiple stories that validate both sides. One story states that Disney screened a sizzle reel of shot footage to licensees to positive feedback. Another states that Ehrenreich raised concerns about what Lord and Miller were doing and that lead to Kennedy putting the kibosh on production. Who knows for sure what the truth is? I assume it’s somewhere in between.

-A Worrisome Pattern-

If all the behind the scenes issues are giving you a strange sense of deja vu you’re not alone. Just a year ago we heard about similar behind the scenes issues that Rogue One was facing. Gareth Edwards had shot a film that was rumored to be a little too gritty and more akin to a war film than your average Star Wars film. This lead to a re-shaping of the tone if not the story. Many people were asking, “How did this happen?” When you’re making films budgeted in the 150+ million dollar range everything is nailed down before the cameras roll. Even if said film turns out to be a bomb I can guarantee 9 times out of 10 it was not for lack of trying. So how has this happened twice under Lucasfilm’s watch?

-In Name Only-

When Kathleen Kennedy started talking about the direction of Star Wars after the gangbusters opening of The Force Awakens there was a distinct topic that kept creeping into the conversation. The studio wanted to recruit as many talented people to craft the stories of the series as they could. Gareth Edwards had a fantastic debut with the micro budget film Monsters and followed it up with the awesome American reboot of Godzilla. Phil Lord and Chris Miller churned out hits from films that sounded like they were going to be laughably bad. I’ll admit I had no idea I’d enjoy a 21 Jump Street reboot or a film based off of Legos as much as I did. These directors had bona fide hits and piqued my interest in creating something unique with their respective Star Wars films.  Unfortunately it seems like once Lucasfilm has these directors signed onto their films they expect them to fall into line with their vision of what the film should be. Once that doesn’t pan out they call in seasoned filmmakers like Tony Gilroy and Ron Howard to take over production and deliver a film more in line with what the studio has in mind. Not to knock Gilroy and Howard, but both of them are safe filmmakers. Nothing they’ve done in the past decade had any sense of risk to it. To me that’s the biggest detriment of them all. Last year I wrote an article about how the Star Wars spin off films were more intriguing to me than the Episode films. We have the chance to see some amazing genre mash-ups outside of the constraints of the main storyline. I’m still holding out hope that Obi-Wan Kenobi will get a film in the vein of a spaghetti western.

-What’s the Answer?-

While there has been a section of Star Wars fans who see these troubled productions as a sign of things to come, I maintain an optimistic outlook. We’ve entered a new chapter in Star Wars and with that there will be some growing pains. Kathleen Kennedy needs to take a page out of the Kevin Feige handbook. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was starting out there were a few films that had issues (i.e. Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World) but productions got smoother. Not only did the films begin to take calculated risks in their style they found filmmakers who were trustworthy collaborators. Kennedy and Co. need to begin trusting the people they hire to deliver top quality films. We can not keep hearing about production woes on-set and cross our fingers that these films will turn out.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think Lord and Miller got the short end of the stick? Are you happy that Ron Howard is now in the director’s chair? What character would you like to see get a spin off film? Would you like to see more of a team effort in executive offices of Lucasfilm? Let me know. I’ll also be posting a link at the bottom to my previous article about the Star Wars spin offs. Remember you can find me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts and Instagram. As always, thanks for reading.

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/why-im-more-excited-for-the-star-wars-spin-offs-than-sequels/