Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bits Journal #15

Got a lot to cover here… Some old, some new… Let's get the new stuff out of the way first.

Finding Dory, as I had reported over at the Rotoscopers, has a co-director attached. Angus MacLane's work has impressed me so far, with the exception of BURN-E, a short I wasn't all that fond of. That being said, I enjoyed Small Fry (a Toy Story toon that people seemed to love or hate) quite a bit and I absolutely loved Toy Story of TERROR! In less than 30 minutes, MacLane and co. told a pretty rock-solid story that actually developed Jessie's characters. The special was better than it needed to be and it was a nice reminder that Pixar will always still care about story - even outside of feature films - and hitting a home run, no matter what the snarky Internet may say. But I've been done with that BS, so…

Yes, MacLane is a great choice. I'd be interested to see what he brings to the picture, and I wonder how long he's been onboard because Andrew Stanton just sort of candidly tweeted last night that he was co-director. As you all know, I have high hopes for Finding Dory. I know why it's being made and I don't dread it, this to me is Pixar's first "legitimate" sequel since Toy Story 2 because Cars 2 was an obligation that ended up being a mess, and Monsters University was a prequel that didn't give the Pixar wizards much to work with yet they still turned out a fine film. Finding Dory on the other hand is something they'll have a real opportunity to go all out with. They almost did with Cars 2, but that ran into problems.

DreamWorks has also been hinting at a fourth How To Train Your Dragon, which I also went over on the Rotoscopers. It'll possibly be a whole new chapter, or the third story will actually be so massive that it'll be split into two movies. You know, the way they handled the last movies in the Harry Potter, Twilight and Divergent series. This Part I & Part II thing has been getting bigger and bigger these days; Independence Day 2 is supposedly the first part of a two-parter called Independence Day Forever. Also, Captain America 3 is reportedly going to be The Winter Soldier, Part 2 with Avengers: Age of Ultron being a sort of epic middle part that involves everybody. (Thinking big, Marvel!)

I'd rather have a whole new story, but if the story for chapter three is long enough to warrant two movies, go ahead. As long as they're doing it for the good of the story and not trying to cash in on the Part 1/2 thing (having not read any of the Divergent books, I heard final book Allegiant doesn't need two movies), I'll be fine. How To Train Your Dragon 2 is getting stellar reviews and I'm certainly looking forward to it, who isn't?

Long-time Disney supervising animator Lino DiSalvo is now heading to Paramount Animation and will be their creative director. He tweeted about it all earlier today…

That's right, he'll also be directing his own film at the studio! First John Kahrs, now him. Paramount Animation is getting some top-notch talent, and hopefully they deliver a string of super cool animated projects. I'm hoping for films that are more like Rango and less like, well, the usual. Kahrs' secret original project has loads of potential, I am exciting to see what DiSalvo brings to the table.

Marvel's search for an Ant-Man frustratingly continues. Apparently Nicholas Stoller and Michael Dowse were/are being eyed to direct. I'd like to see Stoller get the gig, since he's worked with Paul Rudd (he directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to The Greek) and Disney (script for The Muppets), but he's got other projects. Dowse on the other hand has quite a resume, and it'll be cool to see them get an indie director to make it big with a large-scale action movie. Hey, they got the likes of Jon Favreau and the Russo brothers! Here's hoping they get their director, push the movie back to fall 2015 and get it done right.

At this point, I just want a good Ant-Man movie. It'll be upsetting if they cancel it altogether.

Marvel tried to weigh out the negativity with good news: Josh Brolin will play Thanos and Scott Derrickson (Sinister) has been picked to direct Doctor Strange. His resume may not be the best, but we can't use that as an indicator of the movie's quality... Unless it's someone like, say, Uwe Boll. Despite the success of Community, the Russo brothers' feature film track record wasn't all that good yet Captain America: The Winter Soldier got praise all across the board and this blogger considers it to be the MCU's best film. James Gunn's script for Guardians of the Galaxy is supposedly the best MCU script yet, and his track record isn't all that hot either. You never know!

Now that the film has a director, it is definitely a Phase 3 film now (I mean, we all knew this from the get-go) and I predict it will be Marvel's second 2016 release following Captain America 3. Looks like The Inhumans - which I previously thought would be MCU 2016 Film #2 - will be a 2017 release, then. New prediction...

Captain America 3 - May 6, 2016
Doctor Strange - November 11, 2016*
Thor 3 - May 5, 2017
The Inhumans - Summer 2017
Black Panther - 2017
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - Spring 2018
The Avengers 3 - Summer 2018

Of course, Doctor Strange is where it is on my predicted slate because I think WB/DC will move Batman v Superman to July 22, 2016, and Marvel will move MCU 2016 #2 (currently slated for 7/8/2016) to the autumn spot where Thor: The Dark World did well. I also have Black Panther in 2017 because Marvel Studios wants to release 3-4 movies every calendar year sometime soon and they could do Black Panther as a small-scale film to release during any month, and save the heavies for the spring/summer. Either that, or Black Panther will just be introduced through a Netflix series or something, he will be in the mix before Avengers 3.

Speaking of the third Avengers

Controversial Marvel writer/artist Rob Liefeld had predicted - after Marvel had halted further Fantastic Four comics issues, reportedly due to Fox owning the movie rights because Marvel Studios needs it for the MCU - predicted that Sony will join forces with Marvel Studios on The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and the web-slinger will possibly appear in The Avengers 3...

Ya know, there are a lot of problems with this prediction.

The future of Sony's Spiderverse is unclear for a few reasons.

#1) So far, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been a box office disappointment, Sony needed the film to gross over $750 million worldwide and with such aggressive marketing behind it, it should've been able to race past that mark. However, the film wasn't well-liked by audiences, as it looks to score a multiplier that's right down there with Spider-Man 3's.

#2) Reports said that spin-off film The Sinister Six was going to begin filming in January 2015, which would logically point to the film being a summer 2016 release. Sony's slate shows that Amazing Spider-Man 3 is set for 6/10/2016 and Amazing Spider-Man 4 is set for 5/4/2018. However, I predict that Sinister Six will be the summer 2016 film and Amazing Spider-Man 3 will be the end of this whole series, opening May 2018. I don't see the Venom movie happening at this rate.

Also, why would Marvel Studios want to team up with Sony/Marvel? Avi Arad and his cronies would meddle with the project and make it a weak link in the MCU. Plus, the timeline in Sony's series contradicts the MCU's timeline. Both clearly take place in alternate timelines, though it is possible that Peter Parker can get sucked into a wormhole and end up in the MCU timeline, but I just don't see it happening.

The only way they can somewhat salvage Spidey is by having the Sinister Six film be about the team getting together and doing something before taking over New York, since Spider-Man is not supposed to appear in this film. Then The Amazing Spider-Man 3 ends everything with a huge battle. No more installments, rights go back to Disney/Marvel.

What should Disney/Marvel do with Spider-Man?

Well, if The Amazing Spider-Man 3 does in fact hit theaters in May 2018, those rights will be with Disney by the end of the year. Marvel Studios will be in Phase 4 by that point and The New Avengers should be taking over, since it's unlikely that we'll see all of the current faces return after The Avengers 3. Let's say Iron Man doesn't return, Spider-Man could be a big draw if [SPOILER] the likes of Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Bucky-Captain America already aren't by that point. [SPOILER]

Instead of retelling his origin story through a movie for the third time, Marvel Studios should make it a TV series and pit Spidey against recurring foes. Then when all is said and done, then they can make the definitive Spider-Man movie sometime in the early 2020s that combines the best elements from the Raimi and Webb films with some new ones, and then he'll be in the fourth Avengers film.

We shall see… Also, we've heard nothing about Fox's The Fantastic Four for a while. It began filming last month, right? No set photos, no leaks, no announcements from Fox... The only person doing the talking a month ago was writer Simon Kinberg, but that's it. Josh Trank is now set to direct a Star Wars spin-off that will likely be released in 2018, but supposedly he was going to get booted from this film and we haven't heard much about what he was doing since until the Star Wars announcement came up. I have a feeling this film is not happening, as it shouldn't be. Marvel Comics themselves putting the FF on hiatus and excluding them from the 75th anniversary cover says quite a lot, too.

A while back on the Rotoscopers, I covered the announcement of an animated Flintstones film that's being done by Warner Bros. Animation. Whether this film will be one of the untitled 2017/2018 releases or not is out of the question, though if you ask me those two slots will go to originals Storks and Smallfoot.

The Flintstones were originally going to make a comeback in the form of a Seth MacFarlane-created reboot, and to be honest, every time I heard of that ill-fated project, all I could think of was the Flintstones divorce cutaway gag from Family Guy. But I'm okay with Warner Animation Group doing a Flintstones reboot, as long as it's respectful of the original show, then I'll be fine. The same goes for their all-animated Scooby-Doo movie that's in the works. However, hearing that WB's suits recently objected to an Animaniacs-esque script for the planned Looney Tunes feature film because it wasn't Space Jam-y enough makes me worry.

Will Ferrell is exec producing and Chris Henchy (The Campaign) will pen it. Hopefully they make a fun, funny film and not one that's an insult to the original show that will be dated in less than five years. It'll also be computer animated, no shock there. Maybe they'll go for a hand-drawn-like style though, so it somewhat resembles the show. The only thing is, I hope this doesn't arrive before the original projects they have in the works. Sure, The Flintstones and the various Scooby-Doo shows are iconic (just how many direct-to-video films did Scooby get?), but those can wait. From what I've heard, Smallfoot is definitely in development... I guess Storks is moving by at a slower clip? Or maybe it's in actual production right now...

Also, I gave Radiator Springs 500 1/2 a watch...

This new Cars Toon is a Disney Movies Anywhere exclusive, and it was decent for what it was. I never really thought the toons were all that great (they're, in my opinion, more for kids than anything Pixar has made), though there were a few fun entries like Tokyo Mater. This one pits Lightning McQueen against some Baja racers, and it had its moments. Actually, and spoiler for those who do want to see this, they made use of a deleted scene from the first Cars that I happened to like, a scene where McQueen gets lost in a graveyard of dead cars. The scene in the short is very similar to it, so it was nice to see Pixar finally make use of a scene cut from one of the movies.

Pixar has a tendency of doing this kind of thing. Ideas dropped from Toy Story made it into Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, and supposedly Finn McMissile was set to appear in the first Cars as the main character in a movie McQueen and Sally watch at the drive-in. I bet ideas dropped from Finding Nemo and The Incredibles will be in their respective sequels.

Anyways, if you're into the Cars series, you'll probably enjoy this. I like the universe of the series, so I gave it a whirl and had some fun with it.

I also happened to see a non-animated film that did have animation in it weeks ago… I understand this review is very belated…


How was it? I loved it, even though it probably wasn't a great film, I do consider it a fine blockbuster action flick and one of the best in years not counting Marvel Cinematic Universe installments.

This film works because it's all about the build-up to the creature action and all the mayhem from the human perspective. The first quarter of it in particular is very strong, Bryan Cranston nails his small role and there's a lot we don't know at first. The film takes its time, building and building up to a hugely satisfying climax. I can't say much more because I'd be spoiling a lot of cool things, but let's just say that the film's smart marketing campaign showed you very little... And for a good reason, there are lots of little surprises and the film does go its own route. It's well-filmed, the CGI is some of the best I've seen lately, it's stylish at times. Gareth Edwards delivered something special here.

Flaws? Well the human story isn't all that great. Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen play pretty bland characters that don't give them much to work with (I'm hoping they both knock it out of the park as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch respectively in next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron!), but they are at least serviceable and do provide the audience with something extra. The real show stealers on the human side are Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins, so they keep the movie afloat if ATJ and Olsen can't. Again, this film is really focused on the impact, the results of what's going on and the mysteries surrounding the creature itself. It is pretty serious, though it doesn't follow the tired "grounded and gritty" route, and it does have a sense of humor.

Again it's hard to talk about the film in a non-spoilery review, so I'll just simply say that it may not be what you expect. I've noticed a lot of audiences aren't too happy with the film, complaining that there was very little of Godzilla in it. It seems like this film, much like Man of Steel, will be divisive with moviegoers. One half loves it, the other doesn't at all. For what it's worth, my audience applauded three times during the movie and then gave a standing ovation when it ended. (The final seconds are absolutely brilliant.) That being said, I find it a bit ridiculous that audiences felt that there wasn't enough Godzilla... There was enough, I think. The perfect amount, actually.

This isn't Transformers, this is Godzilla. Suspense, thrills and build-up are the name of the game here... That's why I liked the movie so much, if it was just two hours of monster action, it just would've been dull. I'm guessing that the audiences who are complaining probably don't know much about the actual Godzilla, and were expecting something like the 1998 American Godzilla film when buying their tickets. It was saddening to see it drop like a rock every subsequent weekend.

Overall, it's a fine action film with substance that delivers thrills while still being unique. We simply need more giant monster movies, I loved Pacific Rim but it wasn't all that big at the box office. Hopefully the success of this ensures more films... A sequel is on the way, which I'm very happy about.

Definitely go see it!

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