Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bits Journal #44


An updated Moana plot synopsis has come about, but it's not too different from the one we've known for a little while. (via fellow Rotoscoper Gary)

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast South Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped — and no one today knows why.

From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated adventure about a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, she meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous fiery creatures and impossible odds.


So now we have an idea of why Moana is setting sail in the first place. Very good, very good. Reasonable, makes a lot of sense...

However, fiery creatures and impossible odds? What about the "breathtaking underworlds" that were mentioned in the older plot synopsis? Hope those have been kept. It's possible that the new synopsis is just meant to give a basic idea of the movie's plot, but remember Zootopia's new plot synopsis was significantly different the previous one. You know, the rabbit character Judy Hopps going from arrogant lieutenant to "optimistic", aspiring cop... And also the absence of the idea of Hopps and Nick Wilde being in the middle of a massive conspiracy.

Maybe I'm speculating or worrying too much, but let's hope they keep a lot of the things we've heard in early reports about these films...


Tomorrowland has a worrying rather 67% on Rotten Tomatoes right now...

That's right, Brad Bird's latest not garnering critical praise...

Now it's not the number itself, really. All it means is this: 67% of critics gave it a positive review... However...

Many reviewers and bloggers, even ones who were overall positive about the film, are saying all kinds of things: "It's dull", "Its story isn't very good", "The third act is disastrous", "Has good ideas but isn't all that good in the end"...

I see others saying it suffers from writer Damon Lindelof's supposed "curse". Lindelof has a history of making very divisive things, whether it's the ending of LOST or a film like Prometheus or the critically adored but widely-hated-on-the-Internet Star Trek Into Darkness. But he also helped retool World War Z's third act, the very third act that I think saved that whole film. I also liked Star Trek Into Darkness a lot, but as a solid space action film. I confess I've never seen Prometheus, or LOST, so I can't quite say what I truly think of Mr. Lindelof's full resume...

On a side note, Tomorrowland began development in mid-2011. Lindelof was already working on the script, and Bird was brought onboard to direct in early 2012, mere months after Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol opened, so it wasn't really Mr. Bird's project from the start...

At the same time, I'm seeing a lot of non-blogger/reviewer types saying that it's very good, if not excellent! Maybe the critics will be wrong on this one? Or maybe their reviews are just that... Their reviews. I think sometimes on the Internet, people tend to go by what the critics say instead of going by what they think. You know critics like Roger Ebert? They went by what they saw of a movie. Roger Ebert infamously gave an acclaimed masterpiece like Brazil a low score, but that says nothing about his knowledge of film.

Something tells me that some people side with critics in an attempt to make themselves look like they know what makes a good film, but in the end... It's really subjective! And sometimes critics' tastes change over time. You should go by what you personally felt and what you think worked. Hey, you probably know what makes a good or great film, right?

My prediction?

This is going one of those very films that polarizes critics, splits them right down the middle. I reckon it'll be similar to the likes of Blade Runner and such, films that didn't get the best reception back in the day but ultimately stood the test of time, and were appreciated more and more.

I have a gut feeling that I myself am going to love this film and consider it to be a good film. A friend of mine who saw it gave me this rather telling hint...


I'm going to go by that...

On the bright side, it's projected to open with around $50 million for the four-day Memorial Day weekend frame. Pretty damn good, I must say, and here I thought the marketing wouldn't have worked, but who knows. Them unpredictable audiences!

Update (5/18/2015): Now at 76%, far less worrying. A barrage of more positive reviews came in earlier this morning. Really positive reviews come from Total Film, Empire, The List, and Little White Lies, and we're at 16 positive reviews against 5 negative reviews. However, some of those "fresh" reviews are still a little on the mixed side and have given the film scores in the 6/10 and 7/10 range. Metacritic hasn't counted all 16 reviews yet, but they have it at a good spot.

Again, we shall see. I have a feeling it's going to split critics.

Update (5/20/2015): Now done to 58%. Some pretty negative ones crept in...


This weekend I checked out a little movie called Mad Max: Fury Road...

Believe most of the hype, it's truly an amazing action film that's just what the blockbuster world needs outside of a few good blockbusters.

What does it have to offer? Well, look past the crazy action for a second and you'll see that under the war machine car hood is a beating heart, top-notch writing, awesome characters, and a breakout character who could very well headline her own film. You know who I'm talking about, don't you? Furiosa, thanks to a knockout performance from a breakout Charlize Theron and the writing itself, is pretty much the best character in this film. She sets a high bar for female characters in Hollywood films, being an excellent character that's handled just right. She's not a stereotype, she's not your typical contrived female character that Hollywood fetishizes, she's very much likable, has quite a presence onscreen, and is... *GASP*... A character!

The cinematography is some of the best I've seen in a blockbuster as of late, with wonderfully realized action and great shots of the desert setting. Visually it's lovely to look at, and the vehicles? Oh the vehicles! Awesome as expected! The film has no hesitation to be bizarro, it gleefully goes over the top, what with things like a vehicle with cartoonishly huge amplifiers and a guy rocking a 12-string guitar/flamethrower... But it marries that craziness to thoughtful storytelling, it's serious enough and doesn't feel like a tonal mess. How director George Miller was able to balance both the zany side and the deeper side so effectively is nothing short of amazing.

It's big, beautiful, bonkers, badass, the whole shebang! This isn't a typical "go see it for some entertainment" blockbuster, it's a lot more. Even if you're not familiar with Mad Max or haven't seen any of the films, I reckon you'll really like it...

That all being said, I think some are getting a little too hyped over it. It's an excellent blockbuster, yes, but I think a lot of people are using to spite the kind of movies they personally don't like...

Most of that attitude is being aimed at the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. We've seen so many "think pieces" lately on why Marvel is killing cinema or why Marvel movies are flawed or why Marvel movies will never be good, and so on and so forth... And I see some folks siding with this movie, because it's mostly to "their" liking, and they are using its high quality to put down the MCU and other blockbuster-type movies that they aren't big on. The sort of "See? Now this is awesome! Who needs that Marvel trash anyway?" Some are even hoping this film outright destroys comic book movies in general...

The blockbuster always gets a bad rap, and it's because of poorly-received films. It also gets a bad rap because they are mostly the products of a big studio, rather than auteurs. A good amount of blockbusters often just blow crap up and call it a day, and it's reasonable to want something better because a blockbuster can certainly be smart and compelling. I sense a sort of "there aren't blockbusters like this!" mentality in some reviews of this film, when last summer had a critical darling like Edge of Tomorrow, to say nothing of the normally good reception that Marvel movies get. Other blockbusters in the last few years have gotten good, if not great reception too. Mad Max: Fury Road, however, really sets a high bar and that is certainly good. That should be celebrated. But can we please not use it to knock down blockbusters that are good but not as good? Instead of "yeah, down with Marvel superheroes and comic books and shit, this is a REAL blockbuster!" snark, how about "Let's hope future blockbusters take cues from this movie" reactions?

Then again spiting movies and being dismissive of certain kinds of movies is a sexier thing to do on the Internet.

I'll just say this. I loved Mad Max: Fury Road, but I love what I consider the best Marvel Cinematic Universe films for different reasons, along with recent blockbusters that have gotten things right. If you don't like things like the MCU films and think they could be better, fine... But I think the snark and whining has gotten a bit annoying. There's having your opinion, and then there's being pushy. I can certainly say that those think pieces are the latter.

Even more frustrating is the reaction to this film's opening weekend gross.

Look, I know this movie cost around $150 million to make, and probably a crapload to market... I get that.

$44 million out of the gate, however, is quite impressive considering that the highest grossing Mad Max entry adjusted is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome... With $82 million tops. Let's not forget that it just opened, and it will probably get good legs considering how great it is. Deadline yakked about its potential 3.2x multiplier not being enough or whatever, implying that the movie tripped out of the gate and there's no going back, but why are we totally disregarding the international box office?

This jumping to conclusions nonsense is everything I dislike about how box office is often reported. It's why I worry about upcoming movies that I hope will do well in the end...

This film just opened overseas with over $60 million, which to me indicates that the film will have a strong run in other countries if not a great run. Hey, a recent crazy action movie about cars just made $1.1 billion overseas alone, why can't this be an international smash too? I'm not saying Fury Road will definitely perform like Furious 7 overseas, but I can see it doing really well. $250 million sounds like the floor, combine that with $130 million domestically and you get... Let's see... $380 million. More than twice the budget! I think it can go higher though, I think word of mouth will spread. If it doesn't, well then, I'll eat crow.

A good chunk of the reporting world likes the bark and scream "FLOP!" when something opens a certain way, not thinking about legs or worldwide grosses. I think it's annoying, I prefer to wait and see unless the film really has no chances at doubling its budget, all things considered. However, I think this film has the potential to do some excellent business...

In the end, see Mad Max: Fury Road as soon as you can, try not to worry about Tomorrowland too much, and tell me what you think of Moana's revised synopsis...

1 comment:

  1. A lot in there. Excited about Moana and will just wait till trailer.
    Tomorrowland 68% isnt so bad? Still fresh. I just watched a review that loved it and another not as big fan. I'm excellent
    I will see Mad Max tomorrow. I'm glad it is one I feel comfortable seeing because it sounds great

    ReplyDelete