Thursday, July 31, 2008

Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans

Rhona Mitra looks pretty badass in her armor, but can “Underworld 3” really deliver the goods? Think about it. They’re taking out a lot of the things that worked in the first two films: the modern setting, hybrids, gunplay, Kate Beckinsale in latex, etc. and replacing them with what looks like a costume drama. Obviously there’s going to be action, but the budget will limit what they can do. I suspect we’ll see the occasional skirmish but no bloodbaths on the battlefield. And we already know how Sonja and Lucian's relationship will turn out. I'm not seeing the audience grabber...

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Wanted To Believe

Sad to see the “X-Files” underperform at the box office with just 10 million over the weekend. Read somewhere that Chris Carter was under the gun to finish the script before the writer’s strike. The trailer looked ho-hum. Kind of hard to believe that he didn’t have a few polished “X-Files” screenplays tucked away for a rainy day. Looks like I won’t be holding my breath for another installment.

A few weeks back, Stephen King made a dire prediction in “Entertainment Weekly” about the film’s fate. His argument was that big studio genre films rarely work as well as the low budget variety. Brought up examples like “The Blair Witch Project”, “Night of the Living Dead” and more recently, “The Strangers”. Now I’m not trying to take a stab at one of my heroes, but what the heck is he talking about?

For every “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Blair Witch”, there are scores of awful low budget flicks that make you wanna tear your eyes out. When so many are being thrown against the wall, obviously a few are gonna stick. I can appreciate the charm and ingenuity of no/low budget films, but how can the master storyteller not bring up the fact that a lot of it comes down to story -- and a good hook?

And it’s not like studios are cranking out a ton of big budget horror flicks in the first place. “I Want To Believe” might have looked big, but it only cost around 30 million to make. Its poor opening weekend had more to do with the lack of a strong concept and lackluster marketing. Even the hardcore fans couldn’t be bothered.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Anaconda 3

The Most Dangerous Night On Television + The Hoff + Giant Snakes = Pure Entertainment!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jennifer's Body

Deja vu anyone?

True Blood

HBO is pulling out all the stops for True Blood. Postcards with Sumerian text sent to horror fans, pseudo news reports with real reporters, vampire social networks, etc. But does all that stuff really work? How about more emphasis on the story, characters and relationships?

Vampires are tailor-made for soapy dramas, but no one has been able to pull it off since “Dark Shadows”. “Kindred: The Embraced” and "Ultraviolet" (UK mini-series) had some potential.

There are some talented people behind this, but it could go either way...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tonight He Comes

Simplyscripts has a link to an early draft of Hancock-- I think I understand why screenwriter Vincent Ngo declined an interview with the New York Times before the film was released, the script barely resembles the final product. “Tonight” plays out like a really, really dark episode of “Amazing Stories” -- if it aired on late night cable. And get this: Hancock isn’t even the protagonist.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to criticize the changes because audiences ate it up like gravy on a biscuit. Ngo’s script, as good as it is, speaks to a niche audience and not the four quadrant behemoth. Still, I’d love to see “Tonight He Comes” as a graphic novel.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Year's Day

"Fear Itself" finally had the twist ending that we’ve been expecting. Sort of. A lame twist is probably better than no twist at all, but this was a bit of a reach. Nothing like the power of zombie love, huh? Still, a better effort than previous eps.

This episode had a strong “Cloverfield” vibe, right down to the shaky cam in the moments of extreme terror.

BTW, why does Christian Slater's new show, "My Own Worst Enemy", remind me a lot of the BBC's "Jekyll"?

Story Starters

The $10,000-a-month psychic
Cat killed in Missouri was a leopard
Europe's last executed witch to be exonerated
Indian baby "back from the dead"
'Lucky' girl hit by lightning, then wins lottery
Rabbit ripper shocks Germany

Monday, July 14, 2008

Script Alert!

Ain’t It Cool News’ very own Moriarty, aka Drew McWeeny, co-wrote the July 24th episode of “Fear Itself”. He talks about “Skin and Bones” here and links to the actual teleplay -- which will only be online until the 24th. The script is actually a pretty good read, especially when you consider that it was completed in six days -- two of those six days were spent making revisions based on network notes. Cool insight into the process...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Resident Evil: Extinction

Hard to say how I feel about this film or franchise as a whole. I mean, they’re entertaining on a basic level because they don’t pretend to be anything more than popcorn flicks. No character arcs, twists, reversals -- who needs ‘em? Just watch a Photoshopped Milla look badass as she slices and dices her way through zombies every ten minutes or so. Makes you think this screenwriting thing ain’t half as hard as some of us make it out to be. Outta the way, writer boy! Let the director, stunt people and FX guys show you how to tell a story! I will say this much, the opening and closing scenes are pretty good bookmarks, the problem lies with all that stuff in the middle.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Psychic Kids

Forget “The Office” and “How I Met Your Mother”. A&E’s Psychic Kids is the funniest show on television! I predict a whole lot of therapy in these kid’s futures...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rise: Blood Hunter

One of these days, I’m gonna do an entry about the things I know now, but wish I had known when I started screenwriting -- probably a good idea for a meme. Here’s one of those lessons: Most people aren’t receptive to genre stuff and it’s next to impossible to win them over -- unless it’s a big budget spectacle. Horror/Fantasy/Sci-Fi speaks primarily to a niche audience. “Battlestar Galactica” will never have “Grey’s Anatomy” type ratings. Most folks couldn’t pick Joss Whedon out of a line up. And just because “Iron Man” made over 300 million dollars, it doesn’t mean that comic book shops across the country are now flooded with throngs of new customers. Although tiny, this audience is a huge component when it comes to creating buzz. Genre fans will sift through a lot of crap, in the hopes of finding a gem and let everyone know when they do; but the temptation to take them for granted and “broaden” the appeal of a film often leads to failure.
Vamps without fangs? A change like that alienates the people most likely to see the film. The casual viewer probably doesn’t care one way or the other. To be fair, it worked in “The Hunger” and “Ultraviolet” (the UK mini-series) but the tone of those films were much different. “Rise: Blood Hunter” is basically “Kill Bill” with vampires, minus a whole lot of style, action and substance. Reporter gets too close to a story about a vampire club and gets turned. Reporter vows revenge. See Lucy Liu beat up and interrogate a vamp, hate what she's become, repeat until closing credits --- oh yeah, the guy from “The Shield” shows up and helps her take out the head vamp. That's the movie. Seriously. Maybe there’s some great material in the unrated version, but I won’t be checking it out anytime soon. My point isn’t that we should ignore casual viewers/movie goers but to find a happy medium. Have a good idea of what the core fans like before making changes.


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