Movies & TV / Columns

411 Fact or Fiction Movies/TV 2.1.13: Week 367

February 1, 2013 | Posted by Ben Piper

Hello, and welcome back yet again to the gift that keeps on giving, Fact or Fiction. This weekend marks the annual sort-of national holiday, the Super Bowl, in which the Baltimore Ravens will face the San Francisco 49ers. I personally have no dog in the fight, so I’m just hoping for a close, competitive game, some good food, some decent commercials, and not to be hung over the next day.

But this column has nothing to do with that. This week two longtime 411 stalwarts, Bryan Kristopowitz and Steve Gustafson are here to comment on the subjects at hand. Let’s get to it.

1. Bullet To The Head will be a better than average action flick.

Steve Gustafson: Fact. Define “better than average”. To me a “better than average” action flick in the 80s is better than a “better than average” action flick today. Sure, the special effects are nicer but we’ve lost that gritty, in your face, punch you in the nose action flick. Just grab a few Stallone “classics” like First Blood, Cobra, even Tango & Cash. Big difference in terms of the “action” you get today.

We’re talking about Bullet To The Head. The plot looks pretty reasonable: After watching their respective partners die, a New Orleans hitman and a Washington D.C. detective form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy. Simple enough. Stallone looks to play the hitman, who’s stuck in the past, doing things his way in a world that has moved on. I’ll go along for the ride.

I mean, it has to be better than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, right?

Bryan Kristopowitz: Fact. Well, that’s the hope anyway. The trailers have been cool; Stallone looks like he’s ready to kick ass, and Jason Momoa looks like a worthwhile villain. The fight between Stallone and Momoa should be an epic brawl (they’re using axes for the love of God!). The most important thing, though, is the presence of director Walter Hill. Hill is responsible for some of the best action flicks of the 1980’s and early 1990’s (48 Hrs., Another 48 Hrs., Red Heat, and Extreme Prejudice, among others). The man has shown that he knows what to do with an action movie.

And The Last Stand wasn’t that bad. I mean, sure, it isn’t Ahnold’s best movie, but Ahnold shoots a guy in the head with a shotgun at point blank range and we get to see it. That means it qualifies for the “One of the greatest movies of all time” list. It’s true.

Score: 1 for 1

2. J.J. Abrams is an excellent choice to direct Star Wars: Episode VII.

Steve Gustafson: Fact. Before I go in, let’s take a moment to let it soak in that we are discussing another Star Wars trilogy being made in 2013. In my realistic dreams, I never thought this moment would come and that I’d be discussing a director choice for the next installment.

Why J.J. Abrams? Because he’s a safe bet for everyone involved. His resume includes diverse offerings like LOST, Alias, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, and Super 8. He’s well liked by the ones that matter: Steven Spielberg (and if you don’t think he had a voice in the matter, you’re crazy!), George Lucas, and the suits at Disney.

Most importantly, he’s a fan. Check out some past interviews from him. I fully believe he knows how to capture the spirit of the original trilogy and launch Star Wars for a new generation. Yes, he has Star Wars and Star Trek in the palm of hand. Who, in the same position, would turn that down? No one.

Bryan Kristopowitz: Fact. It would have been cooler if Steven Spielberg was the named director, but Abrams is more than acceptable. He’s shown that he knows how to handle major special effects and major action scenes, which is what you have to be able to do with a Star Wars movie. He’s also good with large casts and giving characters enough time to make an impact on the audience, something else you have to have when making a Star Wars movie. I just hope he doesn’t “update” Star Wars and turn it into something the world doesn’t recognize. I don’t think he will, but it’s still one of my fears anyway.

Score: 2 for 2

3. Romancing The Stone should not be remade.

Steve Gustafson: Fiction. I love Romancing The Stone! I’ve long given up on being anti-remake because crying about it won’t make them stop. We’ve been recycling ideas and storylines since the caveman days! Granted, Romancing the Stone isn’t a “classic” story, but you get the idea. It’s a fun romp that could be a fun movie, given the right casting. Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas had a certain charm but Danny DeVito is what propelled that movie to a higher entertainment status. So bring on the remake! If we don’t like it, we can always put on theoriginal!

Bryan Kristopowitz: Fact. I’m saying “fact” here not so much because Romancing the Stone is some classic piece of cinema that shouldn’t be touched ever again, but because the whole idea smacks as a bit of lame 1980’s nostalgia passing for an enlightened idea. If someone wanted to make another sequel or some kind of continuation in that same world, cool. I’d much rather deal with the inevitable “What the heck is Kathleen Turner doing now?” nostalgia tour in that context than any other.

I’d also be down for a remake that isn’t called Romancing the Stone, but I’d imagine no one would want to make the movie without the title everyone already knows.

Score: 2 for 3


4. Warm Bodies will be a funny and original take on the zombie genre.

Bryan Kristopowitz: Fact. If the movie ends up half as good as the trailers make it out to be, I think we’re all in for a real treat. I’m a little leery of the PG-13 rating, though. A good non-gory zombie movie can probably be made, but not having gory, nasty stuff in a zombie movie would seem to defeat the purpose of making a zombie movie in the first place. I’ll still see it, though. I mean, come on, John Malkovich is in a goddamn zombie movie. Did you think that would ever happen? I know I didn’t.

Steve Gustafson: Fiction. We finally get a Zombie Twilight. While the concept is interesting, this reeks of a studio exec sitting in a room thinking, “How can we capitalize on the zombie craze AND get those Twilight fans involved?” While Bryan is leery of the PG-13, to me it was a red flag! Sure, we’ll get some screaming zombies in the face, a few creative kills (shown off-screen to avoid offending the girls), but at the end of the day you’ll have a teenage zombie (complete with the E.T. glowing heart) overcoming odds to be with the girl he loves. All that’s missing is a little glitter sparkle. And werewolves.

Score: 2 for 4

5. Brandon T. Jackson is a good choice to star in the new Beverly Hills Cop TV series.

Bryan Kristopowitz: Fact. Jackson has shown that, with the right material, he can do a good job (Tropic Thunder). If the show turns out to be as lame as the third Big Momma’s House movie, though, he’ll be sunk. He doesn’t have the necessary charisma to rise above mediocrity (at least he hasn’t shown it yet as far as I can tell). I have confidence, though, in both Eddie Murphy, who is expected to appear every so often on the show (Jackson will be playing Murphy’s Axel Foley’s son on the show, and writer Shawn Ryan to make something worthwhile.) For one thing, both Murphy and Ryan need a hit. Murphy hasn’t had a major movie hit in quite some time, and Ryan’s last show, the great The Last Resort, tanked. They’ll will the show to succeed.

Steve Gustafson: Fact. I’m not quite ready to say the series will be a smash but I’ll go along with Brandon being cast as Eddie Murphy’s son in the series. Jackson is on the cusp of either finding his niche or slowly fading away. Getting the rub from Eddie is nice but will audiences jump on a watered down version of a well-loved movie 80s flick? With the right writing and tone this could be a big hit and propel him to stardom. I’ll be watching with great interest.

Score: 3 for 5

6. You’d tune in to a modern day set Hatfield & McCoy’s TV series.

Bryan Kristopowitz: Fiction. If someone had come up with this idea before the History Channel miniseries I probably wouldn’t mind the idea behind the show and would likely tune in, at least, for a few episodes. But the History Channel beat everyone to the punch. I’d much rather see the people involved in this potential show wait a little while and let the miniseries pass off a bit into pop culture history. Doing the show seems too much like piling on and bandwagon joining. Wait.

Steve Gustafson: Fact. Yes, fact. But with a little hesitation. The modern day spin is what gives me pause. The Hatfield and McCoy is a classic story that translates well and could go in a number of directions. They don’t have to follow it to the letter but use enough of the saga to create tension and conflict. Add a Romeo & Juliet subplot and watch the demographic expand. Count me in.

Final Score: 3 for 6

And there you have it. Bryan and Goose split the difference this week. Thanks to them both for taking part, and we’ll see you all again next week!


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