Monday, June 29, 2009

6-29-09 Transformers 2 Success Gives Terilynn Pause

This morning I was graciously directed to a couple of articles about the entertainment industry as a whole as well as an article that genuinely shocked me. That's kind of hard to do.

And what shocked me pray tell?

Apparently Transformers 2, Revenge of the Fallen has managed to use a little of its own red matter and imploded Star Trek's standing in the BO takes. It has, in its first 5 days, grossed just under $400 million globally and well over $200 million domestically. This is a feat Star Trek was unable to attain in it first 8 WEEKS.

I have read multitudes of articles surrounding the idea that Michael Bay, along with writers Kruger/Orci/Kurtzman, have created two racially insulting characters by the names of Mudflaps and Skids. The opinions about these two characters are intensely passionate – from both sides of the argument. I have not seen the movie and because of the opinions I've seen about these two characters, I likely will avoid seeing it for my own psychological health; but from what I've read about them and from what I've seen as far as their CGI appearances I have a very bad taste in my mouth and I have no trouble seeing why anyone might be offended by them. But they're now a part of the summer's biggest movie so far.

Up – Disney/Pixar's new film also kicked Star Trek's overall butt last week – so that means – if my calculations are correct…Star Trek has been relegated to 3rd place in overall box and will likely take a much lower spot in the ranking after Harry Potter flies in on his broom and will undoubtedly proceed to sweep away all remaining competition.

Once again – films made for and directed to the "family" unit as opposed to the focused male 14-24 market are showing their absolute power in the marketplace. I have maintained and will continue to maintain that Abrams and Paramount blew it by making Star Trek "edgier" and "sexier" as opposed to making it simply more palatable to parents. If they had broadened the appeal to say oh…Star Trek's core market, the families, and still given us the tighter special effects, they may have had the $400 million opening week. Sigh.

Now, thanks to a new acquaintance (Broadus) on Twitter, I was led to an interesting article about the "A-list" actor's appeal on the BO performance.,0,7110271.story

It's oddly true.

"A-listers," as we so quaintly call them, are no longer what seems to draw people to movies – this year at least.

The successful films so far have been filled with actors who aren't necessarily well known. And the films that were filled with actors that were "bankable" are tanking. (See Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost for example.)

I'm not so sure it doesn't speak directly to what I was talking about in my last post with regard to AMPAS' attempts to draw the audience back to the Oscars, it's possible the public is just tiring of perceived "self-important" celebrity.

Transformers 2 is successful because it's had a toy franchise, an animated series and a movie that came before it that did well. It had fairly likeable actors – Shia LeBeouf and a gorgeous Megan Fox in the lead roles. Ms. Fox herself stated in her EW interview that Transformers is NOT about the acting – it's about carrying what thin plot there is through the CGI shots and making sure she's a commodity. (Yes - I've reserved a special place in my future blogs about Ms. Fox. She is a very, very special case for me to tackle and she deserves her very own focused blog.)

Land of the Lost tanked because it was…well…Land of the Lost. It's the same reason why Thunderbirds is still walking funny after so many years – it was based on a television show that most of us remember with a cringe, not a heart flutter (although I have to admit – if they had used Stone and Parker's puppets to remake Thunderbirds – it would have rocked.)

When I saw the preview for Land of the Lost at the theater and realized they made Holly the love interest as opposed to the daughter I got severe case of the willies and decided I wasn't going to waste my money on it. (Oh yeah, the Cha-Ka boob-grab didn't do much to sell the movie to me either.)

I have the same fear about Gilligan's Island and Tron (OMG I still can't believe they're remaking Tron) or any other number of rehashed television shows or even old movies. I mean – not even Denzel Washington and John Travolta could pump life into what was a perfectly good movie to begin with - Taking of Pelham 123. What was wrong with the original?


Hence our problem.

I still haven't finished my research on the possibilities that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act hasn't been at the root of the rehash/reboot/sequel infections plaguing major American studios, but I might focus once again on that research. With rumors of studio mergers on the horizon it will be interesting to note how a law designed to protect what is really is IMHO nothing more than legalized gambling (stock investments which are now the basis of most Americans retirement potential as pensions are dying quick deaths) forces boards to make decisions based on profit ratio potential as opposed to truly being quality film-makers.

I'm kind of disturbed by Transformers' success but I'm not surprised. I hope what I'm hearing about the racist undertones in the film are dealt with for the same reasons I still take issue with what I saw as sexist undertones in Trek.

What I fear more however – is that due to both Transformers 2's and Star Trek's box office success there will only be more excuses made for scripts that make weak attempts to hide those stereotypes under animation and mini-skirts as opposed to a real sense of dignity coming from the writers who are seemingly the "golden boys" of Hollywood right now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6-24-09 I'm Chewing on Another Bone

So, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally succumbed to the almighty dollar and has opened its Best Picture category to ten nominees.


So what will this mean for the average movie goer? Titillation? Excitement? The actual thought that more mainstream films will be included and actually have a chance of winning? Well – here's my take on it:

I see it as possibly being the biggest bait and switch show ever. Seriously – you think that by leading the general public into naming five more films in the Best Picture category that successful box films like Star Trek or Transformers 2 would actually have a shot?

Do you really believe that a popular film would get a better chance at winning if it got to be nominated?

I can tell you right now – no way folks.

They might get nominated – but the fans of those shows will only be sucked into watching the Oscars just to see the better film win.

You've got to hand it to the Academy though, faced with plummeting ratings of their awards show, they've done almost everything to lure the viewer back.

The problem is "genre" films which happen to be both popular and brilliantly made – The Dark Knight for instance – are extremely rare. Most popular films really aren't that great – they're formulaic drivel. Movies like Star Trek XI, Wolverine and Terminator Salvation simply aren't that good.

The Academy prides itself in the promotion of its ART. Movies like that are automatic rejects by the Academy voters and I have to say – for good reason. They may be flashy – but they're still not art.

Well last year the Academy rightfully took some heat for snubbing The Dark Knight (with the exception of Ledger's posthumous award.)

Now they want to expand the category to allow for more competition?

I smell desperation and it's pretty stinky. Why not just vote for the best five movies? Better yet Academy members – why don't you stop voting with your hearts and stop giving away awards to people who should have won them in years beforehand?

You see, I think the Academy can only fix their awards show when they fix their credibility. When movies/actors/directors win awards from their peers out of pity or popularity the product is diluted. End of story. When the viewing audience – who's not stupid by the way – knows a better film or actor lost out because the voting contingent needs to make amends for snubbing someone/some film from the year(s) before – they get a little put off. They know it's unfair and then they see it whole thing as some sort of sick popularity contest as opposed to a fair and fun competition.

And I think that's all the Academy is doing with the expansion of the Best Picture category. They're diluting their credibility to make up for the years of snubbing genre films like The Dark Knight.

Sure successful films will be tossed in and get a nomination – and now those films will get to plaster the term "Oscar nominated" all over their DVD boxes, billboards, and ads to increase the sales of their movie but will it really increase their chances of winning an Oscar?

I'm not so sure. Fates forbid we get an influx of drivel nominated because they were successful at the box office and popular with the public. That would be the end of the Academy's credibility in my eyes.

Personally, I think it's the wrong tack to take. If a successful film is good enough the Academy should just drop their revulsion of genre films and vote for it. They proved they could do it with Lord of the Rings. They nominated an animated film for Best Picture (they just couldn't vote for it – so now they've created their own category.) There was nothing holding back Academy voters from choosing to give a nod to any film before now – they were just too full of their own preconceptions about the sci-fi, fantasy and comic book genres to want to affiliate themselves with it. The Golden Globes gets around their prejudices by dividing up the drama from the comedy/musicals.

It's why I think they just lost touch with the real world. Throwing a meaningless nomination at five more films to entice viewers to their show is not only insulting to the viewers it's potentially a huge backfire waiting to happen. It simply smacks of elitism – like the Academy is saying "Here – we'll lower ourselves and nominate some more popular films now and hope to tune into root for your faves – but don't be surprised when we actually vote for the low-budget drama."

So I am actually looking forward to next year to see which 10 films will get to increase their sales potential by getting the "honor" of being nominated for Best Picture but never really having a chance at winning; because the Academy – if it values its own brand – will never let a genre film win over a heart-breaking or politically pointed drama unless it's so amazing they can't ignore it (like LOTR.)

It's kind of weird – I just feel like the Academy is throwing a bone to the mutts and is hoping we're dumb enough to enjoy chewing on it while they give the steak to the poodles.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

6-7-09 The Beating of Trek's Heart?

Please visit terilynn's Trek at Trek United this time. Blogger doesn't like my links or pics....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6-2-09: It Takes a Lot of Us to Go Boldly...

99 x 6 hours. That's 594 hours. 594 hours divided by 24 = 24.75

Wow…almost 25 whole days!!!

That's how many days the astronauts for the most recent Space Shuttle mission (STS-125) spent training in the neutral buoyancy tank at the Johnson Space Center just to help them prepare for the mission to repair and upgrade one of our National (if not global) treasures, The Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

Can you imagine? Spending almost a month underwater learning how to remove bolts, open doors, replace bolts, open and close doors, not to mention "walking" in space, moving from one area of the shuttle to the device and trying like mad not to make a mistake?!

Sometimes it's really hard to be over the age of 40. Not because I feel old. No – because it's very difficult to impart on the younger generations the sense of absolute wonder I still get with every single Space Shuttle Mission.

It's so very strange to think that now a majority of people on this planet don't remember life without space travel by our species (even as limited as it is.)

One of my favorite pieces of television was the series for HBO produced by Tom Hanks called From Earth to the Moon. It told the tales of those brave individuals who participated in the Apollo program – not just the astronauts mind you – but the people who built every single piece of equipment to get those men into space, to the moon, on the moon, able to do something while they were there and to come home safely.

So while I think about the STS-125 astronauts spending 25 days underwater learning how to turn bolts with bulky and protective gloves…I am never forgetful of the people who sewed those gloves, made the bolts, made the tools that remove and reset the bolts, the hinges for the doors, preparing the food the astronauts eat (sometimes looking like they get to have the most fun eating it too!), listening to them as they perform their work, be the analysts of the experiments they perform in space, flying the shuttle back to Florida…

…so many people and so much time and effort and frankly…passion is present just to help send small groups of humans into space to help us learn more about ourselves.

I find this whole concept utterly remarkable and truly awe-inspiring.

I know I'll never be able to make younger generations feel the same way I do about the space programs; the same way my grandparents will never get me to truly understand what life was like without instantaneous mass communication and the wonders its advancement have made in my own lifetime. (I mean seriously – radio alone was what you rushed home to listen to? Black & white television with only 3 channels? Heck – even I had 13 channels plus UHF channels when I was little. Sure I had to get off my ass and change the channel, but I would have done almost anything to see Kimba the White Lion and Speed Racer on PBS after Hobo Kelly was done on Channel 13….) wink.gif

But it does seem different somehow.

Is it that we're taking this amazing stuff called space flight for granted? Or is this just how we tend to deal with things as they progress? I mean it only took 100 years for us to really use powered flight to the point of monotonous routine…(with exception and deep seeded sadness for those who lost loved one in any tragic air accident, including the most recent Air France tragedy…)

That's it…isn't it? We don't notice the amazing stuff until something goes wrong?

That's sad, I think.

And that's why I'm blogging today…to say take just a little teeny, tiny moment of your day to say…

"Wow…that's pretty cool", then thank every person in every industry who works their asses off to make this species go boldly okay?


(Thanks to moonrangerlaura – whom I follow on Twitter and get the greatest info in 140 character spurts. She received the info about the training time from Michael Weiss' talk which will be archived here: read and learn!!! )