Sunday, December 16, 2012

Movie franchises

In response to a question I was asked on the blu-ray.com forums...

Q. How do you feel about other franchises such as the Star Wars saga, Harry Potter, Star Trek 2009, Dark Knight Trilogy, Indiana Jones, etc?

Ho-kay

Star Wars - the first 3 movies (now titled 4-6 ) are decent fun. There's lots of bad dialog (apparently Alec Guiness who played Obi-Wan asked to be killed so he wouldn't have to come back for a sequel and more bad dialog, but this could well be made up), but the film is more comfortable with its serial adventure roots, the proportion of action to exposition is pretty good on the whole, the sense of scale is amazing, I love the special effects and there's a sense of fun and adventure. Seeing it first when I was a kid also makes an impact (needless to say I wanted hugely to be a Jedi then). I may also add here that I don't have any issues with the George Lucas revisions, other than the stupid modification to the Han Solo / Greedo standoff.

Harry Potter - I have seen only some 2-3 movies in this series, not interesting to me as a franchise. Lead character is a twat.

Star Trek 2009 - Oh I enjoyed this tremendously, fast fun and great interplay between the characters. The guy who played Kirk especially nailed it with a performance that pays tribute to William Shatner without aping his style. Also realized here Karl Urban can actually act. Diehard ST fans may complain about how the film was all action and no science, but the fact is a fair amount of the original series was campy action. I'll definitely be catching the next film although I do hope they can bring in some fresh elements. The teaser trailer they had looked like it could be composed of alternate takes from the 2009 film.

Dark Knight - Saw the first 2 films. I personally find this hugely overrated and boring pop-psychology. Like I earlier linked, I agree with what the filthy critic said about this rubbish trend of taking comic book heroes and making mopey overly pompous "epics" out of them (pretty much everything seems headed up trilogy and epic territory these days, a trend I find wholly deplorable). Batman Begins at the cinema was a torturous experience for me. Perhaps it's a result of how much I loathed BB, but I liked the second film a lot more - it had significantly better pacing, excellent action sequences, Batman does more detective work. The main hitch for me was Heath Ledger's horrible performance. I never felt any menace in his mannerisms, only irritation. It was no better IMO than anything Shakti Kapoor has done and nobody ever talks of giving that bloke an Oscar. Going by this movie, I was ready to dismiss Ledger as an overrated ham that only got fame on account of his having died, but then I saw movies like Brokeback Mountain and Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus where I realized that he was a fine actor, but his Joker was a total turd.
I loved the 2 Batman films made by Tim Burton - they had the perfect blend of comic book sensibilities and a more adult outlook. The animated TV series was damn cool too. On the subject let me also express my opinion of Christopher Nolan - apart from that backwards movie with Guy Pearce I find everything I've seen by him (Insomnia, the Batman movies and Inception) OVERRATED AND BORING.

Indiana Jones - I must say here that I don't recall too much of the Indy movies since I only saw them on VHS as a kid. But the general memory is of them being good time-pass. I had issues with Temple of Doom, but I suspect that was just a "How can they show Indians eating insects and monkey brains?" knee-jerk response. I didn't see the recent film because I find it hard to get excited about the character now given that Harrison Ford is grandfather age.

Haha, you must think me a humorless bastard, but seriously, I'd rather see a bunch of different stories than the same rinsed and repeated with bigger budgets for box office returns. Here are some franchises I liked:

Superman
- I'm a Superman junkie and my fav childhood memories are of watching the Superman films at Eros cinema in Mumbai. I still love the first 2 Chris Reeve films and find the third one quite passable. Superman Returns had some interesting ideas but rehashed too much of the plot of the first film, had disastrously bad Superman-Lois chemistry and some plot points that shot the franchise in the foot. I think the upcoming film will be another terribly whiny boring movie, no thanks to Mr. "let's make this dark and gritty and epic" Nolan. Somebody shoot these geeks who're raping my childhood memories under the pretense of making "mature" superhero movies.

Alien - Mainly the first 2 movies, they are very different in tone - First one is horror and second is action - and both of them have good personality. Alien3 has some good moments in the extended cut but it doesn't all hold well, and beyond a point the "run through the corridors with the beastie after you" routine becomes monotonous.

Evil Dead - one of my fav franchises, I love the first 2 films (Dead by Dawn especially is pure manic genius from start to end, a perfect blend of the macabre and the hilarious) and Army of Darkness is good popcorn fun. Bruce Campbell, Again I'm not likely to see the new film unless I hear good word from trusted quarters.

Terminator - The first one was pure awesomeness, the second had spectacular CG and a great villain, and the third one is a wonderful tribute/spoof on the franchise with a genuinely surprising coda (I prefer T3 to T2 as a film). Salvation had some decent ideas in the Sam Worthington segment but Christian "growling is acting" Bale totally killed the movie for me, to the extent that even the prospect of owning a 2-disc "everything and the kitchen sink" BD set for less than 10$ does nothing to tempt me into buying this film.

Toy Story - Truth be told the plots are interchangeable, but I find all the movies fun and they're at least short and pacy and great eye candy. But yes, no more please.

James Bond - love the first 3 Sean Connery films, then Live & Let Die and Spy Who Loved me from Roger Moore (absurd but fun) and Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. I can live without revisiting the other films in this series. 

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