Friday, May 2, 2008

Summer Movie Preview: Part I

There is a bulbous whitehead growing on the side of my nose. I noticed it this morning in the lift, and it’s been bugging me ever since. Why do bad things happen to good people? I ask myself that same question quite often during the summer months, and it’s not just because I crash and burn like the Hindenburg at every single beach party. No, it’s because, nine times out of ten, I leave a summer blockbuster feeling hollow, less fulfilled than before I went into the cinema – if such a thing is possible. One can’t blame Hollywood – it’s its nature. The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves – like Kevin Bacon’s Chip, I keep getting pounded on the ass by summer blockbusters, and yet I still ask for more.

There are various reasons why I keep going back to the whooping well. I need to see moving images, especially after dinner – that’s the first thing. I also like it when things explode – that’s the other. But the most important one is hope. I hope that the next film I see is better than the previous one; I hope for wonder and awe; I hope for a revelation. Watching a Hollywood blockbuster is like a stagecoach ride in the Old West. When you start, you are hoping for a pleasant trip. By the halfway point, you just hope to survive. And before I get going, I hope I got some brownie points from the more refined lovers of art frequenting this blog for working in Shakespeare, Day For Night, and Animal House in the same introduction.

I dealt with Iron Man yesterday and you can read that piece by scrolling down to the previous post. I see on Rotten Tomatoes that it got great reviews from many of the respected print critics out there, which is terribly impressive for a movie like Iron Man. As long as the film has a huge opening weekend (which it still might not – and not because of GTA 4), Paramount might greenlight a sequel before the week is out, it seems. Please, please, please call the sequel Iran Man. The possibilities are endless.

Everyone bitches about summers’ being full of sequels – everyone should shut the hell up. Sure, original product is preferable than retreats, but an offhanded dismissal of all sequels/remakes/relaunches is reductivist horseshit. That hardly any sequel is ever good, let alone as good as the original, has absolutely nothing to do with the price of fish. I don’t see people bitching about The Odyssey, The Merry Wives of Windsor, or, in fact, The New Testament (though, to be fair, even that got its fair share of detractors at the time for toning down the original’s violence).

The first sequel of the summer is Prince Caspian, the follow-up to 2005’s Narnia, and to type out the full names of both is an invitation to carpal tunnel syndrome, so you will just have to live with my arbitrary, and ever changing, epithets. I can safely say that this film holds absolutely no interest for me. As a kid, I used to be a huge fan of sword and sorcery, and mythology, and fantasy, and all that geeky crap. While children my age were kicking the ball around outside, I was in my room, reading Roy Thomas and John Buscema’s excellent run on The Savage Sword of Conan, or devouring books on Greek and Norse mythology, or just simply fantasising about worlds with knights, dragons, sorcerers, all reasons that have contributed to my somewhat shaky relationship with the fairer sex. But for a few titles here and there – uninspiring fare like Dragonslayer, or Krull, or, yikes, Willow – fantasy films were hard to come by then, and I longed for the day when what’s on screen would match at least the magnitude of what was on the pages of my favourite comics or books. It’s ironic that my interest in wizards and witches faded round the time when the technology to properly realise the worlds they’d inhabit was finally developed.

That’s not to say I won’t see it, because I probably will. The only film from last summer that I didn’t catch at the cinemas was the Fantastic Four sequel, and I still haven’t seen it (I doubt I’m missing much). If they build it, I come. Having said that, Caspian just looks dire to me. The Christ-metaphor angle has always made me rather uncomfortable with the Narnia books anyway, and in the previous film, it was amped up to eleven. Everyone is trying to recapture the magic of the Harry Potter and Rings films (no pun intended), but Narnia lacks the human elements of the former, and the grandiosity of the latter. The trailer betrays a more sizeable effects budget this time out, but it still looks lacking, and small.

Come back Monday when I take the other summer sequels to task…


Anonymous said...

I have kids. I'll probly see Narnia.

At least it'll be a nice break from Enchanted, which has been in heavy rotation at home since it was released on DVD.

Some sequels aren't that bad. I just can't think of one off the top of my head that was that good. Oh, ok - Empire Strikes Back.

odienator said...

I just can't think of one off the top of my head that was that good.

What about Godfather II, Toy Story II, Superman II or Gremlins II? Or hell, Back to the Future III? (I was not a big fan of the first two Futures, and I think the original Superman is torture to sit through.)

I liked the Narnia books as a kid, and I liked the first movie. I'll probably go see the sequel, but honestly I don't remember too much about the story. The Christ-like stuff goes with the territory, but at least they aren't kicking de Lawd's ass in slow motion for two hours like Mel Gibson did. I'm sure the guy who plays Prince Caspian is causing some un-Christ-like stirrings in the loins of teenage girls (and some teenage boys).

Plus we'll get another Andy Samberg rap about Narnia.

As for people who bitch about sequels and Hollywood summer movies, STOP GOING TO SEE THEM. Damn! Talk about "Blame Canada before somebody thinks of blaming us!" It's the audience's fault. If you paid to go see it, you're complicit so look in the mirror and punch the person you see in the mouth. Pretend it's my fist.

Take responsibility for your actions, people. Stay home if you think Hollywood is evil. I feel like an old man. "In my day, people took responsibility for their actions! They didn't bitch and moan on blogs because the Internet DIDN'T EXIST! Al Gore was still making it!"

RC said...

i'm pretty sure this'll show up on my summer viewing list...i've enjoyed reading the narnia books.

i did enjoy x-men 2 the most out of the 3.

never thought a summer preview and specificly prince caspian would begin with a discussion of the "bulbous whitehead" on your nose...hope it doesn't hurt too bad.