Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quick clips for Thursday August 14

At this point, I'm not even sure that Valkyrie isn't already in the theaters

See Tom Cruise. See Tom Cruise fall from grace. See Tom Cruise choose the Oscar bait film Valkyrie. See Valkyrie get buzz. See Valkyrie run from its release date. Run, Valkyrie, run!

Of course, the latest news from embattled studio MGM, is that, after moving the film from this fall to this winter to the day after Valentine's Day next year, the film is moving back to the day after Christmas. This latest move is actually a vote of confidence, as the studio must think it isn't a particularly stinky turd and will have a shot at some kind of awards. What will be interesting will be how they attempt to package the film. It used to be that you could slap Tommyboy's face on the front of a poster and that toothy grin would hypnotize the folks into coming. Now, you slap his face on a poster and people assume the poster is laced with some kind of Scientology powder that will turn you into a space alien if you breathe too closely to it. I'll admit, I'm curious as hell about the film. Before director Bryan Singer went number two in his bed with Superman Returns, he was on a nice roll (Usual Suspects, X-Men 2), now, I'm not so sure what's going on. Look, either way, we get to see Tom Cruise with an eyepatch in a Nazi outfit. I think that's all most of us need, right?

Carb-up, Panda, you've got more work to do

To the surprise of no one (except those who are very, very easily surprised...I'm talking "Holy crap, Matlock totally solved the crime" surprised), Kung Fu Panda is getting a sequel. According to the Hollywood Reporter (VICTORY IS MINE!), the film that raked in $560 million worldwide is going to get a sequel. They make sequels to movies that rake in 50 bucks, so no wonder they're going to be doing this. I mention it mainly as a way to sort of revisit the film itself. Dreamworks animation is to Pixar what GoBots were to Transformers, but Kung Fu was better than I originally thought it was. Sure, the whole "let's make a film about violence and market it to kids" sort of confuses me still, but beyond that, the film is actually more charming than I gave it credit for. Not only was the animation pretty, I really like the character designs, which I continue to see on the back of my cereal boxes (and yes, screw off, I eat cereal that have animated characters on the back...and I still read the boxes and do all the puzzles...they make me feel smart and good about myself). I'm not saying I would have upgraded the film to an A, but it was probably better than the B- I originally gave it. Were there a grade appeals process, I may push it up to a B+. I'm sure that makes it easier for the Dreamworks to sleep on their piles of money, the fact I gave them a B- was the only dark spot in their lives.

An open letter to George Lucas

Dear George,

You aren't going to read this. I know that. If you were going to read anyone's online missive, it wouldn't be mine, but beyond that, you clearly don't care about what any of the fans whose money made you into the careless, unchecked, arrogant media mogul you've become. You've proven that time and time again by refusing to even consider what any of them want, surrounding yourself with sycophants that are so impressed by being in your presence that they lose all sense of judgement.

No, I'm writing this to make myself feel better. See, I don't know how I'm ever going to justify giving you another goddamn penny after hearing this. I hoped that the decision to make Ziro into a slime-covered ball of homosexual stereotypes was somehow made without you. That, somehow, some half-witted bigot sneaked into the art and voice departments and hobbled together the eyesore that was Ziro the Hutt. Nope. You did it. You did. You said that you wanted him to "sound like Truman Capote." As everyone is pointing out, the design (although horrifying) isn't what made the character into a slug-of-hate. It was the voice, in English no less (despite Jabba the Hutt speaking in a very distinct and popular dialect), that made this into the most despicable character in the history of science fiction. I was one of the few who gave you a pass on Jar-Jar, assuming that he was a misguided attempt to appeal to the kids and not an intentional Steppin Fetchit aimed at demeaning black people. I forgave the Trade Federation hierarchy for sounding like bad Chinese impressions, arguing that they were just bad voice actors. Hearing one of your own staff say that you intentionally invoked Truman Captoe's voice...there's no defending you now.

I want so badly to go off on a hard-core rant about how you've defiled so many childhood memories for so many people or how it isn't fair that you've continued to exhibit such a high degree of power in film making. I want to be furious because you've made it your mission to mine the depths of your previously beloved characters until they are so emaciated we no longer recognize them. I want to talk about how pissed off I am that Star Wars has to be something I make excuses for. But I can't. Because I'm too sad. I'm too disappointed that you've done this, that you've openly taunted a community in a children's film because you're that stupid. You are more rich, more powerful than I will ever be. But you are a small, stupid man, George Lucas.

I won't swear a boycott and say "I'm never watching anything Star Wars again." It wouldn't dent your empire and it would mean that I miss out on something I care about. I just want you to know your legacy. You were the guy who created and then ruined something beautiful. You are the guy who went from making movies I can't wait to show my unborn children to a juvenile-minded bigot.

Thanks a lot, George. I hope whoever gets control of the franchise after you can redeem it. Actually, I hope it doesn't take that long. I hope you feel bad enough to apologize for this and I hope that you surrender control and let someone else fix your mess. Why? Because I believe in forgiveness and redemption and you need to ask for both.
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