Sunday, May 19, 2013
Ok, so J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" sequel has been released over the weekend...
And just like J.J., I've always been a Star Wars fan. I enjoyed Star Trek, but never to the point where it compared to the passionate love I had for Star Wars. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were always more interesting that Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock to me. Lightsabers and blasters were more fun than phasers and communicators when playing with my friends. Of the films, I was very fond of "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" than any other Trek film. But overall, I was never as in to the worlds of the Federation than the worlds of the Galactic Empire.
J.J. Abrams felt this way too. To be fair, he said "he didn't get Star Trek", which I don't agree with. I got it. I just didn't get into it as much as normal Trek fans. And when Abrams finally took on the job of rebooting the franchise, I think to get it, he had to be able to relate to it more like his love of Star Wars. At its most basic core, Star Trek is science fiction and Star Wars is science fantasy. Trek is owes a lot more to "2001" and Star Wars owes a lot more to "John Carter of Mars" and "Flash Gordon". Gene Roddenberry's show was pitched as a western in space, but it's more of a field trip, while George Lucas' film feels like an adventure.
And when Abrams made the first Star Trek film he seemed to be injecting some of that. No matter how he has tried to explain the differences in all his interviews during his publicity for the film, it feels that this is what he's subconsciously done. Which bodes well for "Episode VII", but that's another story. And there are many Trek fans that simply don't like what he's done. He's departed from the core of what they enjoy about the series/films. The closest Star Wars film to Trek is "The Phantom Menace" because it's a film that has more analytically droning on in political exposition than action. It only becomes a Star Wars film in the end during the battle with Darth Maul.
But the new films are filled with adventure and pure spectacle. There are a lot of people that will go into the theater that will leave upset. Some for reasons of continuity with the original films/series, but several may come out shaking their heads at the number of unanswered questions as to how events in the films could/should have happened. I found "Star Trek: Into Darkness" to be an absolutely entertaining film, but a much different Star Trek film than hardcore fans will be used to. And one that some fans will hate because it departs so much from the mythology they've grown up with. It takes to warp speed and jettisons the original canon in favor of a clean slate. No stories are sacred here. And Trekkers and Trekkies have a Star Wars fan at the helm.
J.J. seems to have thrown out the curiosity of the original in favor of the thrills of the reboot. And for most people in those theaters it'll be enough. Most may not have been born early enough to see the originals or next generation. Many of them may have not even seen the original cast. They may only know them from the vague pictures they've seen in magazines or the shuffle of films in their Netflix cue.
This Star Trek, unlike the ones before, has finally gone far, far away...
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Today marks the official end of the Extreme Expansion and the opening of the final piece of it...
Mystic Manor opens today in Hong Kong Disneyland. The attraction, which is the result of planning for the Haunted Mansion in China, is a layered hybrid of taking the lessons learned from dealing with unique cultural perceptions. The views on ghosts in Chinese culture represented a challenge to the Imagineers designing the initial phase of the Hong Kong Chinese version of the popular attraction. While, the ride is not officially a clone of the classic ride, there are no plans for a version of the original at the park because of the connective DNA that they share.
The guest riding the attraction since it soft opened yesterday, will travel along a mansion owned by Lord Henry Mystic, purveyor of fine antiques of his adventures around the world. As a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, he's collected a large collection of artifacts that he's set about the manor to show off to guest to his home. The result is a "Jumanji" like experience filled with clever displays of magical mischief. Danny Elfman's score does a great job creating the atmosphere of slightly scary, while still having a subtle tone of humor. If you want to read more about the area, Alain's coverage of the opening over at Disney and More has excellent analysis, pics and videos.
The attraction and it's lushly themed Mystic Point is perhaps the best layered in the park. It's narrative story is pure Disney, and this will be the first of several attractions that will hopefully give HKDL it's own identity, to separate it out from the other sibling parks. The Imagineers have been working on several other projects that the Suits will try to present to their Chinese partners in the near future. But don't expect anything big for the next few years as the park gets guests to experience the fruits of expansion. There is plenty of land for more Disney themed experiences in the areas surrounding the new openings. And right now the Imagineers are focusing further into inland China.
Shanghai is a much bigger task...
Friday, May 17, 2013
And yet another film joins that year...
And this is one of the few that's not a Disney film. New Regency and Ubisoft have plugged in Memorial Day, 2015 for the release of their "Assassin's Creed" film. Hmmmm. I wonder what other film will likely be out in May of that year? The film studio is moving ahead with the Michael Fassbender starring game adaptation.
The studio/game-maker studio are moving for forward with production to begin on the film by early next year. No start date has been announced, but the film, produced by Fassbender as well is being targeted as a tent pole franchise. The first of many from Ubisoft's film division. Michael Lesslie is penning the screenplay at this time with supervision by Fassbender himself.
Now, if they only had a director...
So there's news on the the Marvel front...
Rumors are circulating hat the character of Black Panther will make an appearance in "Avengers 2" when it comes out in the summer of 2015: The Year Movie Theaters EXPLODE with awesomeness. There's also a rumor that Marvel will replace Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in that film since he's been conspicuously absent from any of the other films.
The first rumor seems to have something of substance behind it since officials in South Africa have been quoted as having conversations with Marvel scouts about location shooting. It could be true, but since Wakanda is a fictional country on the Continent of Africa there really is no need to shoot there between numerous locations and CG technology.
The other rumor is less substantiated since it's based on simply the lack of any scenes of Renner in the Captain America or Thor sequels. Jeremy Renner was known to have been unhappy with the development of his character in the film, and wanted the chance to portray him more, but it's unknown if Marvel is unhappy about his being unhappy. Rumors are that the character will be recast for the film, or recast and made available for the new "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." television series. Until concrete news is announced I'd take this rumor with a huge grain of salt. It could happen, but so Galactus landing on Earth and destroying it.
I'll believe it when I see it.
That being said, the first rumor has some weight to it since there seems to be plans for a "Black Panther" film moving forward. Many sites (Latino Review, etc.) have been stating that T'Challa would be developed as one of the films in Phase Three. But then, with the news about a possible "Doctor Strange" film it makes for a clearer picture of what we can expect from a P3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So if these two projects become legitimate films we know that each phase is 5-6 films. After "Avengers 2" we know that the beginning of the third phase is "Ant-Man". So doing a little analyzing we can get a clearer picture of what MCU3 will look like:
Avengers 2 (End of P2)
Doctor Strange ?
Black Panther ?
Captain America 3 ?
Thor 3 ?
Avengers 3 (End of P3)
So, if this is how it might look then it shows you that there are only two slots for returning characters. The most obvious choices for films are Captain America and Thor. It also makes it relevant as to why there might not be a need for a fourth Iron Man film if Marvel wants to introduce more characters. There's only so many slot available, and Kevin Feige doesn't want to dilute he brand by having too many films.
Since there are a lot of characters that are yet to be seen, the studio is probably willing to let Shell Head take a more backseat role. It doesn't mean there won't be an "Iron Man 4", but it does mean it's less likely. Unless there happens to be a time when Feige feels that they can release three films in a year. Which just seems unlike right now, but things could change. But for now, we might have a clearer picture of what Marvel Studios has for a third narrative in this vast universe. But what about another "Hulk" film?
Now, lets not get too far ahead and start focusing on Phase Four...
Now this is an interesting rumor...
Rumors are starting to float around that Christopher Nolan is in informal talks to helm the next James Bond film (Bond 24). If you've seen "Inception" then you know the director can make a Bond film as the last act is essentially one. While it's an exciting prospect to think of a Nolan directed 007 film, the director is deep in pre-production on "Interstellar" and it appears that the schedule to get Bond 24 out in a few years is highly improbable.
It's likely four or five years before we'd see a new spy film with Daniel Craig. That puts him around the five-o mark, and it seems quite a long delay between films. The actor is scheduled to make one more film after the next one as the famed super agent, but I don't see him going into Roger Moore territory with such long periods between films. While the idea of a Nolan Bond film is something that appears to be awesome, it logistically doesn't seem to make sense with the director's schedule at this time. Perhaps Bond 25 would make a better mission? Would he or is brother have a part in the scripting one has to wonder?
There is information we need a spy to find out as well...
Thursday, May 16, 2013
There's a new trailer for Disney's "Planes" film the Mouse just released...
The film, the first part of Disney Toon Studios' animated follow up to the "Disney Fairies" series was deemed good enough by John Lasseter that he and head suit, Bob Iger felt it was worthy of a theatrical release. Now, we don't know if it's as good as they say, but the reports we're getting in, are that the screenings have gone very well, and it's a cut above what was expected to come out.
Keep in mind that, whether ou like it or not, the Fairy series was a far better offering for young girls and families that the Cheapquels that were produced under Eisner's regime Lasseter has firmly put the storytellers in charge, and everything under the Hat Building and every other building in Burbank/Glendale that he controls knows that story is what drives it.
The Suits in marketing and Disney Consumer Products know they have things to push, but John and Ed Catmull have tried to raise the story level of each film/DVD that goes out to a higher level worthy of the Disney name.
From the look of this trailer they're succeeding...
The latest trailer for Guillermo del Toro's latest just came out...
Boy, does this look like a young boy's dream or what? "Pacific Rim" is shaping up to be what kids have fantasized about playing with action figures for decades. And from the buzz it sounds like Legendary Entertainment's Suits, particularly, head geek Thomas Tull, have made a friend for life.
Perhaps Guillermo is hoping that if he makes Warner/Legendary a mountain of cash, they'll give him a mountain? As in buy the rights to his mountain over at Universal. His opus, his dream is to make "At The Mountains Of Madness" since forever. And it would have been done over at Universal with James Cameron producing and Tom Cruise starring, but the Uni Suits didn't want a R rated $100 million dollar picture.
If this film is a success then perhaps Universal will let him make that picture. Or maybe Legendary will buy the rights to the project and let him have it as a gift for what he's done for them? And while we're at it, maybe Alan Horn and the Disney Suits will finally bite the bullet and green light his "Haunted Mansion" reboot? Now that would be a project I and many other fans have wanted to see.
It could all be riding on a bunch of giant robots and monsters...