27 Sep 2011

Remakes and sequels

I say good evening but what a joy it is to be writing this after 7PM and still see blue sky. Even more stunning is that it's in Wellington!

Enough of that.  Some of the most common complaints I hear are:

"Did you eat the last biscuit?"
"Oh no not another French produced Japanese rendition of a Shakespearean play!"
"Why are you sleeping in my garden?"
"Hey! He said I had more time? I can get the money! Please let my nose out of the garlic crusher"

And of course “why are there so many remakes and sequels out at the movies?”

And the answer is simple. Money!

Movies cost more and more every year. Millions in fact.  Here are some stats:

The Help, (2011)  estimated budget 25,000,000
The God Father II (1974) estimated budget 13,000,000
Transformers III (2011) estimated budget $195,000,000
Conan the Barbarian (1982) estimated budget $20,000,000
Conan the Barbarian (2011) estimated budget $70,000,000*

Interesting tidbit the original Conan made twice as much profit as the remakes entire gross (estimated). 

Before anyone starts arguing about the cost of movies now as opposed to back in the dark ages of the 80's, my point is that movies cost millions to make. And in the case of Conan, the remake cost over three times as much to make and less in gross profit. And the original will still be making money out of nostalgic DVD and blue ray sales.

Yes movies are expensive, and in Hollywood studios careers are made and destroyed with the choices people make.  There are a lot of original ideas out there, but are they a viable product? Will they sell?

Zombieland (2009) was meant to be a pilot for a TV series but didn't sell to the TV networks,  so they managed to get it off the ground as a movie. At $23 million it was a cheap film to make. It had a good script and it had Woody Harrelson. 

Some once told me that trying to get a movie made was like firing an arrow through a series of rings in a dark tunnel. Miss one of those rings and it's over. So star power, whether it be actors or directors, can make a movie happen. Which is why established "stars" command large salaries.

But this doesn't explain why in October we can look forward to three remakes and two sequels.  The answer to that is simple. Remakes cater to a new audience with an established product, redesigned for a modern market. Sequels feed on the success of an established product: demand and supply. 

Take Transformers for example. There was a Transformers movie made in 1986, it featured the voices of Orson Welles and Leonard Nimoy! But  it was also a highly successful toy, and cartoon series. There was an established market in existence. And with an (estimated) budget of $151,000,000 US to spend on the latest in special effects and a young woman called Megan Fox,

 Paramount pictures had a recipe for success. Apparently $706,471,251 (worldwide) reasons for success. Transformers II made $800,000,000, and III made $351,331,987. I guess Michael Bay should have stuck with Megan?

Basic economics dictate to the heads of the major studios. They are not against original ideas; Zombieland and Inception,for example. but new ideas equal risks unknown .

The Fall (2006) which has a rating of 7.9 at IMDB made estimated gross of $3,669,465, a tiny amount for a film. Layer Cake (2004) had an estimated budget of only $4,000,000, but at the box office only made an estimated $2.3 million. Layer Cake made up a lot more in DVD sales and rentals over time. These are both good movies earning peanuts whereas the re release of the Lion King in 3D has made over $30 million alone in the US since opening in September. 

You may think that I am being simplistic. And you are right, because it is that simple. Annoying but true.

This is the reason we can look forward to The Amazing Spiderman, Battleship, The US version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Sherlock Holmes sequel, the next Chipmunks sequel, The next Mission Impossible sequel, and the next Underworld sequel.
Oh well at least I have Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to look forward to.... oh feck!
* All estimates taken from IMBD

20 Sep 2011

Great googily maloogily!

When Heather and I decided to do this DVD project she had a blog http://65by30.blogspot.com/ and I had a small group of people that wanted my opinion on films. While Heather posted her reviews online I just wrote them up and sent an email.

Now that I have a blog not only am I quite far behind, I am also a bit out of whack. I say that as I appear to have missed out three film reviews; 40 Days and Forty nights, 50 first dates and The Actors!

Drat my Generation X attention span!

OK so here they are...

40 Days and Forty Nights (2002)

The romantic comedy is a movie that is effectively a pub anecdote about a relationship, but lasts for around ninety minutes.  Some times formulaic due to the inevitable happy ending, some times dire due to the fact it's not funny, and sometimes clever.  But like most pick and mixes you usually get what you expect.  Here is a synopsis of this one:

 Matt (Josh Hartnett) is still obsessing over his ex-girlfriend Nicole (Vinessa Shaw). And despite his constant attempts to get over her by sleeping with a seemingly endless supply of attractive young women, he suffers from a broken heart. After confessing his heart ache to his older brother John (Adam Trese), who is studying to be a priest, he gets the inspiration to forgo any pleasures of the flesh for lent. All seems to go well until he meets Erica (Shannyn Sossamon) who he starts to have feelings for.  He attempts to date her while adhering to vow, but discovers that he is the source of a considerable wager to see if he will last for the entirety of lent . Release the Hyjinx!

 I didn't mind this film,  Josh Hartnett is a good actor who portrays going slowly mental extremely well.  And despite what is a fairly silly premise he can switch between slapstick to charming as appropriate.  Now when I read my project partners review of this film recently she discovered that she didn’t enjoy it as much as she used to. I analysed this and have come to this conclusion. 40 days and 40 nights is a romantic comedy,  but on reflection it would appear that the romantic qualities are more gendered to the fairer sex, and the comedy is geared to the hairy smelly rowdy lot. I am not sure if I am right or not but I think I am. I mean it’s a generalisation, but I think it’s a reasonable assessment.

My final comment is that I wish I had been growing up in the US between the ages of 21-25. six and a wee 1/2 monkey from me.

Fifty first dates (2004)
Oh look a romantic comedy! If you are wondering yes I threatened my flatmate with popping down to the shops and buying more horrors. As it was she was trembling with anticipation to review Alien. I think it is anticipation?

Anyway a synopsis; Henry (Adam Sandler) is a marine Vet in Hawaii whose dream is to travel to Alaska to study the mighty Walrus. Because he wishes to travel there on his own sail boat, he avoids relationship commitment by having whirlwind romances with tourists. One day he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore) and he has a great time with her and they agree to meet at the same time tomorrow.  When he does meet her again,  she has no knowledge of him at all.  Lucy had a car accident and sadly suffers from anterograde amnesia, and she cannot retain her short term memory. Henry tries to forget her, but can’t. So despite the fact her memories of him are erased every night he keeps trying.

I can take or leave Adam Sandler, I think he has talent, but can fall into juvenile screaming fits reminiscent of every film he has ever done. He is one of those comedians who people either love or hate, but I am in the middle. 

This is the second romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. The two reuniting after the success of The wedding Singer.  Unlike Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks similar attempt I think this works a lot better. 
Interestingly I dislike Rob Schneider intensely, and I am not exaggerating at all. But Adam Sandler seems to have a slight mollifying effect on his acting that can create a good comedy foil.

The script is original, the acting good and the onscreen chemistry is believable. Sandler is able to restrain any over acting to give a credible performance for the most part. A fun movie I could watch again, but in due course.

Six monkeys from me.

The Actors (2003)

Huzzah one of my movies! Not that I dislike H’s movies, but it is a nice feeling to have one of your own. And also it’s good to have a change from romantic comedies.

Lets do a synopsis on this romantic comedy. Well strictly speaking no it’s not, it’s what is known as a farce. And given the natures of farces there is a touch of romance in it. Ok the synopsis:
Tom  (Dylan Moran) is  a struggling actor in Dublin who is currently working on the stage version of Richard III ( The play is based on the movie Nazi version with Sir Ian McCellan , I recommend it), with his friend and mentor Tony (Michael CaineBarreller (Michael Gambon)  who owes some crooks in London a large sum of money. Tom agrees to pretend to be the party the money is owed to. To succeed in this Tom enlists the help of his highly intelligent ten year old niece Mary (Abigail Iversen) . Got it? Confused? Well it’s a farce so that the way of things.

It’s grand fun! Dylan Moran puts up an excellent performance and really holds his own with screen icons, Michael Caine and Michael Gambon. Also for me Mary is a wee scene stealer as the brains of the outfit. It’s fun, its entertaining, it’s got a grand ensemble cast, but it does seem to miss being great. There is something missing, I am not sure what, but there is something intangible that left me wanting, but I can’t put my finger on what. 
Yes yes another six and a half. Funny and good, but it misses the mark, in Some way, some how.


18 Sep 2011

Critical Response

So I tested KAPOW with a team of highly experienced critics, and the response was good.


But there were issues:

The biggest problem was that the villains are too weak. It becomes too easy for the heroes to defeat them, too quickly. Also there are not enough villains. I need to create some more. (perhaps I seek inspiration from my day job?)
The final thing was there is not enough interaction between players. Each turn is fairly isolated, so I need more cards that can affect others players in or out of your turn.

But I got a thumbs up from a 10 year girl, who I assure you would not in any way spare my feelings if she thought it was lame. The other testers also had fun.

So as a project I give myself a B. And it appears that it is enjoyable enough for me to consider spending more time to make those refinements and see if it is worth showing to others?

Who knows, I could be the next Carl d Vissor.

13 Sep 2011


So I have been busy. Work is hard and after work seems to be a rut of dinner and sleep, but I have not been idle.
OK I have been idle, but not bone idle.

I have previously mentioned that I have started doing the requirements of old fashioned brownie badges with a wee group. This idea was to get us doing different things and activities over winter. One of the activities I had the option to create a game or puzzle.
Well me being me I have grandiose schemes and ideas I dredged up an old idea of min and recreated....

What is Kapow? I am so glad you asked.

The great city of Kiwiopolis is under siege by a bevy of villains. But not super villains. More low rent vandals and rogues who are delighting in causing mayhem and chaos. If only there was someone to powerful enough to battle the likes of; The Scrabbler, The Black Pigeon and Fatty Boomsticks the scourge of pies everywhere.

Well now there is.

You have an aspiring hero ready to take up the challenge and become Kiwiopolis's new resident superhero. But it's takes more than a home made costume and a pair of goggles to fight crime. You need ability and to be cool enough to have your very own comic book. 

The mechanics are you start with a random hero and you draw from the deck. You can give you heroes superpowers, gear, vehicles bases and other stuff.  You also have villains and crimes which you then try to defeat to gain prestige with the citizens. 

Well we had a test run and it needs work. I need to make the villains tougher and create new cards.  But the important thing was my play tester had fun. next play test will be this weekend with the harshest of all critics, a ten year old girl. 

Wish me luck.