411 Fact or Fiction Movies/TV 12.14.12: Week 361
You know, one of these days I’m going to actually come up with a witty anecdote or proper introduction to one of these columns, but this sadly is not one of those occasions. Welcome to Fact or Fiction everyone! As always, I am your humble moderator Ben Piper. This week we’ve got Chad Webb and 411 newcomer John Dotson graciously volunteering their services. Let’s get to the meat of the situation…
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey won’t quite live up to the hype.
Chad Webb: Fiction. I think it will live up to the hype just fine. As a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I feel comfortable with the fact that this new trilogy is in Peter Jackson’s hands. If it were anyone else, I might have doubts, but he is very familiar with the material and Middle Earth, so he should deliver the goods with this first installment. I honestly think the level of anticipation and buzz has plateaued with this franchise. For years we were up in arms about whether or not Jackson would direct it, when it would be made, and so on. Legal battles and directorial changes caused things to be delayed a bit and maybe that was for the better. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of pressure on this film, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it was a couple years ago. This also gives me the opportunity to mention a pet peeve. Most people seem to think this will fail because two films have been stretched to three films. Let it be known: Two of the installments will be based off The Hobbit novel. The other one will based off of notes and appendices from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King bridging the gap between the two trilogies. Perhaps three films weren’t needed, but Jackson is one of the most faithful and thorough filmmakers out there. Trust me, he will shoot enough to fill a trilogy and it should be great.
John Dotson: Fact. Will The Hobbit be as good as expected? Personally, I do think the film will be a fun return to Middle Earth but, I believe the first film will fall short, and reviews have already painted this picture. The thing is everyone is going to have cold feet until the film hits theaters this week. The standard that Peter Jackson has set with the original trilogy has made it that much tougher to meet or exceed our expectations. For example, The Dark Knight set the bar so high in 2008 that there was pretty much no way for audiences to be completely satisfied by the finale. Even if The Hobbit is not as good, I’m willing to bet the sequel involving Smaug will be next year. Either way, I will be seeing the film no matter what, and Gondor can’t stop me.
Score: 0 for 1
2. A Death Becomes Her TV series would be a bad idea.
Chad Webb: Fact. Well, I’m a big Robert Zemeckis fan, but this was not one of his better efforts. I haven’t seen it in many years, but it was average at best if you ask me. I do know that Zemeckis is involved, so it has that going for it, but I also know that this is something I wouldn’t watch. Apparently this is one of many movies that Bravo plans to adapt into a TV series. Others are The Joneses and Heathers. A horror comedy show will surely have an audience out there, but it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t see the plot being easy to stretch out over seasons and even if they do I envision standard soap opera twists and turns. The cast is also a key factor. Part of the charm that did exist in the 1992 movie were the stars: Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Goldie Hawn. Those are big shoes to fill. The problem is, with all the superb, original shows out there right now for me to watch, I have zero interest in one adapted from a movie. This is more of the “take advantage of a built-in audience” mentality where the studios/networks/etc hope that because some people will remember the movie, they will checkout the show. Not for me. Pass.
John Dotson: Fact..Yeah I have to agree with Chad on this one. As unique as the original movie was back in the day, I personally don’t see myself getting excited for a Death Becomes Her episode every week. The execution of a series does have me curious to see what they have in mind plotwise. However, I just don’t see a need among people who would want to watch this. Besides, how many legitimate successful films turned into television shows have there been? I say take this idea out back and put it down and come up with a fresh idea. We are going to need something bold after Breaking Bad concludes its run in 2013. Be original Bravo.
Score: 1 for 2
3. Lenny Kravitz would be a good choice to play Marvin Gaye in a planned biopic of the legendary singer.
Chad Webb: Fact. I have a mixed opinion of this, but “Mixed” is not a choice, so I’ll be optimistic. We know that Lenny Kravitz can act AND sing, which are the main ingredients needed for this biopic, so that is definitely a plus. However, Kravitz has a total of 5 films on his acting resume, one of which was voice acting and another which is not out yet. The parts he has taken have been small (The Hunger Games, Precious) and this is a big leap forward. It won’t be an easy task jumping into a portrayal of a music legend, especially considering Marvin Gaye’s son recently bashed this project and begged Kravitz to walk away from it. It seems this focuses on a really bad part of Gaye’s life. In any event, Kravitz is a respectable choice, but this will show the world if he has what it takes to be a lead. The movie will be directed by Julien Temple, who knows the territory since he’s directed plenty of music documentaries, so that’s a positive too. On the negative, a bunch of music biopics have been greenlit over the past year or so. Expect ones on Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Buckley, Janis Joplin, and more. It seems the “preparing for years” phase that led to great performances/films with Jamie Foxx and Joaquin Phoenix is over. I get the sense that the studios are rushing as many as they can into production, which is worrisome. While convincing acting and singing are beneficial for the star, Foxx and Phoenix raised the bar and established that every detail of the person’s lifestyle (mannerisms, etc.) is required to really make an impression. This has enough talent that it could be very good, but I’m not sure yet.
John Dotson: Fact. Why not? The guy has proven he can sing in his career and has slowly started transitioning himself as an acting talent. Depending on what the filmmakers saw, this very well could be the start of a new movie star in the making. He definitely has the voice to carry a tune and I think it will be interesting to see if he will actually be singing the songs himself. Jamie Foxx’s career was good but not great until he blew the roof off with Ray. This also can be a game changer for Kravitz as well depending on how well the film is executed. I also love the film’s title being “Sexual Healing” because it basically tells me what focus of Marvin Gaye’s life is going to be addressed in the story.
Score: 2 for 3
4. You’d love to see a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit get made.
John Dotson: Fiction. I don’t have any desire for this to be made, especially now that Bob Hoskins has retired. Yes, all the whacky cartoon character charm was good in the original BUT Hoskins brought this film to life. His interaction with all the toons was executed fantastically throughout the film and never feels artificial in the performance. I know I may be stubborn about bringing a sequel without his character and yes they probably could find a decent replacement, but I just don’t want Hoskins to be replaced period. That’s like making a 4th Back to the Future without Michael J. Fox. Who would want to see that sequel? Not this guy. If Hoskins makes a cameo then maybe I’ll be okay with the idea but until that is confirmed I’m saying bad idea.
Chad Webb: Fact. I respect John’s adoration of Bob Hoskins, but I don’t think deserves that much credit for what made Who Framed Roger Rabbit so special. Certainly he was great in it, but I think a replacement would relatively painless, especially considering the funny short films featuring Roger which didn’t involve Hoskins. My first reaction is that a sequel to Roger Rabbit after more than 20 years would be a risk, plus what would the story explore? It seems like the original was perfect in that it involved so many characters and meshed animation with live-action seamlessly. However, Robert Zemeckis would be the person directing it, and the same writers from the original penned the script for the sequel. Zemeckis doesn’t do sequels just to do them; that I know for sure, so if he is game on the new script, as he’s stated in interviews, I have faith that it is for a good reason. Roger is an intriguing character and I’m interested to see where they take a new story. The word is that this would another period piece, so don’t get your hopes up for Pixar characters to appear. I’m usually against unnecessary sequels, but most of the right puzzle pieces are coming together for this, so I’m anxious to see what they come up with. As long as Jessica Rabbit makes an appearance, all will be ok.
Score: 2 for 4
5. Nicolas Winding Refn directing makes you much more interested in The Equalizer.
John Dotson: Fact. Honestly, if you told me Nicolas Winding Refn was directing the Baywatch movie with Andy Dick as the lead, I would be equally excited. The man is a true cinema artist who is just beginning to show us what he is made of. I never had the privilege of seeing the television show from the 80’s, but giving the subject matter, it seems like a good mesh creatively for Refn to put his signature on. Also, if Denzel Washington is actually on board for the character, then that only peaks my interest more to see these two guys collaborate. Bottom line, bring it on!
Chad Webb: Fact. Usually the studio will recruit a newer, mediocre filmmaker to adapt a television show and then be surprised when it fails, but Nicolas Winding Refn is an inspired (also bizarre) choice to direct The Equalizer. Judging by his resume, I’m somewhat startled that he took on this project, but at least now we can assume it won’t be a clumsily adapted, conventional take on the series. His style of directing is gritty, intense, and distinctive, so he should be a comfortable fit for the project. Plus, I’m excited to see the results when he and Denzel Washington work together. There were a bunch of shows like The Equalizer in the 80’s, but it was fun all the same. I trust that Winding Refn, more than most directors, will do something out of the ordinary with it. The material won’t be super tough to update, but we need more than just another thriller and Winding Refn is a better choice than many to accomplish that. I don’t expect a masterpiece, but I’m definitely more interested with him at the helm.
Score: 3 for 5
6. A standalone Boba Fett movie is an idea you can get behind.
John Dotson: Fiction. At the moment, I don’t think Disney needs to be putting the cart before the horse. First, let’s get Star Wars back on track and see how well the new film is executed. If it ends up being phenomenal, then, and only then should we consider major spin-offs. Not going to lie, yes I would watch this movie, BUT I watch just about every movie anyways. I’ll be ready to get behind this idea once Disney proves they can handle the property. If they repeat the great decisions that led to the creation of The Avengers, then I’m sure this won’t be an issue for me. Until then, the “house of mouse” needs to keep their creative eye on the ball.
Chad Webb: Fiction. I’m not sure why fans are immediately clamoring for Boba Fett to have his own movie just because Disney now owns Lucasfilm. I understand that he’s a popular character, but the Star Wars universe is so vast and there is so much material out there to draw from that you’d have to have a good reason to focus on one guy. Do we even know for sure that Disney wants to jump into spin-offs, or is it just rumors and conjecture at this point? I agree with John that we should wait and see how the new film is received, and more importantly, what the timeline is. I assume this will take place after Episode VI. Everyone is predicting they’ll explain that he survived his demise in Return of the Jedi, but that still needs to happen because, you know, it’s important. And let’s say it does, what’s wrong with just having him return as another character in Episode VII, VIII, or IX? Why does it have to be a spin-off? I like him as much as the next guy, but I’m against catering to the fans unless it makes sense. Would I see it? Sure. But I’m not in favor of it because I don’t see why it’s necessary. It’s like saying, “Fans like Khan from Star Trek, so give him a spin-off.” For what? Have his appearances mean something. That should be sufficient for now. I don’t think Disney should just start pumping out as many Star Wars adventures as possible: Episode VII, spin-offs, a TV series, etc. Patience is the key here. Let’s see how it all unfolds before veering off the main path.
Final Score: 4 for 6
And with that, Chad and John agree more often than not. Thanks to them both for stopping by, and see you all again next week!