Monday, August 30, 2010

Hear Us Discuss the "Jaws" Franchise

Ep. 3 - Jaws - August 2010

Featuring special guest Luke Hickman, film critic for The Reel and host of the Talking Pictures Podcast

Considering the Sequels is a monthly film podcast that examines the merits and weaknesses of specific movie franchises.

In Episode 3 we consider the “Jaws” movies. This episode also includes a concept discussion in which we talk about creative sequel titling. And, as always, we each give mini reviews of recent film releases — including a mandatory “Inception” discussion — and whatever else we’ve been watching lately.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New CTS Podcast Host Comments on 3-D

Editor's Note: August's forthcoming episode of the Considering the Sequels podcast will reveal a new surprise host: actor Karl Huddleston. The following post found below is Karl's response to seeing his favorite magazine "going gaga" over 3-D. This is Karl's letter to the magazine's editor:

Dear Home Theater Magazine Editor,

I can't keep my pie-hole shut any longer on this whole 3-D fad. I found three separate online surveys that say the number of Americans that currently wear some type of eyeglasses is around 76 percent. I fall into that percentage (more on that in a moment). The last 3-D movie I went to was Scrooge ["A Christmas Carol"] last Christmas. And it was by accident — a friend bought the tickets.

I can't describe how much the picture sucked. Contrast and Brightness were pathetic, and the picture was so dark — add to that having to wear a pair of 3-D glasses on top of (in front of?) my regular glasses — it gave me a nice throbbing headache at the end. And this was in a new multiplex that had all DLP projectors. By the time I left I was Scrooge!

It seems to me that Hollywood is trying to shove down the public's throat, something that is not ready for prime time, whether we want it or not! I work in the film and TV industries and have many friends also that are in it ... Not a single one of them goes to 3-D movies; they all hate them for the same reasons I've described above.

I realize that the equipment manufacturers and magazines like yours feel compelled to chase the latest buzz item, but I really can't believe that many people are loving this. And despite what the pinhead at said about Roger Ebert living in 1999, Ebert nailed it right on the head when he basically said that if you know anything about the true purpose of what a motion picture is supposed to do, adding a third dimension is nothing more than pure gimmickry. It doesn't make a character more compelling, a story more moving or a picture more "watchable."

Until 3-D has as good a picture quality as a Blu-ray, like "Star Trek," without having to wear glasses (which the experts say is about five years out), I think it's going to rank up there with DIVX, the horrible "watch and toss" rental plan for DVDs, which incidentally, I think also came out in 1999.

I have never, in my life, seen a bigger case of "The Emperor Has No Clothes"! In fact, he's butt-naked — and in 3-D!


Karl Huddleston

Provo, Utah

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Danny the Drama

by Jason Pyles

Sure. Viewer expectations can make or break a movie.

Case in point: Ang Lee’s “Hulk” (2003). If we all weren’t expecting to see an action-packed superhero movie, it would have been fine; instead, it was an underrated, brooding character conflict whose subject also happened to transform into a bouncy green cartoon.

Minor spoiler follow for “Unleashed.”

So, in his post below, where Andy reasonably expected the Jet Li vehicle “Unleashed” (aka “Danny the Dog”) to be a martial arts film, I can see why he would be disgruntled by the lengthy, sentimental second act.

Indeed, this film is actually a drama masquerading as a martial arts action flick. The first act delivers Jet Li doing what he does best, as does the third act, to some extent. But the second act shifts from martial arts into drama, and it’s a cold shower in terms of pacing.

So I guess that’s problematic. I like the film, but since we’re on the subject of the film’s imperfections, I’ll list my criticisms first:

My biggest complaint is the impossibly inconsistent character of Danny. Jet Li’s dramatic performance is convincing enough, but the actual character himself could not exist as he is portrayed. I have lengthy arguments for this, but I’ll try to briefly describe a couple of instances below:

For example, his vocabulary and communication skills — not to mention his comprehension skills — vary drastically depending on what the plot requires.

And the collar prop does not function or affect Danny the same way during the course of the movie, either. (It was intended that Danny would change, but his behaviors associated with the collar vary in such a way that is inconsistent with the expected arc.)

Uncle Bart can touch the collar anytime without Danny flinching, but no one else can. Before Uncle Bart can remove the collar, at one point, Bart’s enemies get the upper hand and Danny seems to be oblivious to his caretaker’s pleas for help. Yet others can speak to him while he’s wearing the collar, and he understands them. Oh, and later we learn that Danny is completely aware of the brawl in the grocery store.

This really is a big deal because Danny’s collar is the linch pin of this film’s premise.

So, while this film is a great idea — as an action movie or a drama — its main character is poorly conceived and the premise is broken.

Speaking to Andy’s critique of the martial arts sequences, I see his point there, too. While some interactions really seem brutal — as in, the actors actually hit one another — most of the time, it looks like a dress rehearsal. Andy calls it “play fighting.”

But overall, I still enjoyed the film — perhaps because Andy primed my expectations. I was prepared and therefore more willing to slow down for the second act of the movie. And though I vowed to try to defend this film against Andy’s critique below, I’m having trouble articulating the undeserved affection I feel toward it. But I think it’s worth the time, and it’s far more tolerable than “The Forbidden Kingdom.”