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FilmVerse Summer ’12 Theatre Of Shame – Round 2

Polls are now closed.  Please go to Round 3.

Welcome to Round 2 of the FilmVerse Summer 2012 Theatre of Shame!  Last week, 64 really terrible movies competed in 16 polls for the worst of various kinds of movies.  Tonight, we learn the”winners” that will now face/off in pairs to be narrowed down to 8 examples of awful cinema for Round 3 on Monday, September 3.

It must have been tough for people to choose which film directed by Michael Bay was the worst, as all four entries were fairly neck-to-neck until finally Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen took the lead and won with 44% of the votes with 2nd place Pearl Harbor falling behind to 31%.  Next week, it will go against Freddy Got Fingered, considered the worst movie directed by a celebrity (if you consider Tom Green a celebrity) with a whopping 67% of the total.  No other film came even close.

For actors, the love (or hate) was spread fairly evenly among movies starring Nicholas Cage, though The Wicker Man finally pulled ahead of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance at 45% to the flaming skull’s 33%.  However, there was no doubt as to what movie starring Adam Sandler readers hated the most–Jack and Jill, garnering 77% (the highest percentage of the entire contest)!  Let’s see if it can do a repeat performance against The Wicker Man for Round 2.

It was a mixed bag with the family films, perhaps due to many people being unfamiliar with some of these entries. For children’s movies that feature a mixture of live action and CGI,  Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties squeaked ahead of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle with 42%, while Titanic: The Legend Goes On (not to be confused with 2nd place The Legend of Titanic, not that it matters since both are terrible) sailed ahead with 36%.

It seems that the consensus is that there are some awful third and fourth films in series.  With 30%, Smokey and the Bandit barely held its title against Bad News Bears Go to Japan, which came out of nowhere at the last minute.  Meanwhile, Batman & Robin beat down Bruce the Shark by pulling ahead of Jaws: The Revenge with a surprise 48%.  Can Buford T. Justice duke it out with the Dynamic Duo?

Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho was voted as the most unnecessary remake with 40%, though the other three entries came in a near three-way tie for 2nd place.  For a while, it looked like The Dukes of Hazzard was going to be named the worst adaptation of a TV series, but right at the end, Sex and the City 2 outraced it with 38% to the Duke boys’ 25%.  But can the shallow sex-crazed women from New York survive Norman Bates’s butcher knife when they compete as the worst ripoff?

Some movies seem like they were intentionally made to be bad, such as spoofs and certain cult classics.  With the spoof movies, Disaster Movie proved to be a true disaster, receiving 68% of the votes.  Cult classics battled it out, but The Room pulled ahead and ended up earning 46%, with Troll 2 and Manos: Hands of Fate tying in 2nd place.  It will be interesting if Tommy Wiseau’s masterpiece of trash will be considered worse than Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s attempt at humor.

The two genres to square off for this competition are musical and found footage flicks.  Grease 2 greased its rivals with 60%, though voters struggled with which movie featuring the found footage trope was the most terrible.  Project X and Apollo 18 battled for the title, but Project X won out with 38% while the astronauts had a problem of only getting 26%.  The Devil Inside and George Romero’s Diary of the Dead tied in third place at 18% each.

Finally, we have movies that go ‘splody with disaster movies (not counting Disaster Movie) and big budget bombs.  Killer trees were considered more awful than the center of the Earth stopping spinning as The Happening ended up with exactly half of the votes.  All four movies that bombed despite having massive amounts of money spent to produce them were tough for readers to choose.  It looked like John Carter was going to take home the prize, but Kevin Costner with gills surged slightly ahead.  Waterworld has 32%, 2% more than the man on Mars.  But is flooding the world worse than what M. Night Shyalaman did to the human race?

Now it’s time to vote for Round 2.  Results will be announced next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.  Have fun!

FILMMAKER VS ACTOR

FAMILY FILM VS SEQUEL

RIPOFF VS MAYBE INTENTIONALLY BAD MOVIE

GENRE VS SPLOIDY

copyright © 2012 FilmVerse

11 Comments

FilmVerse Summer ’12 Theatre Of Shame – Round 1

Polls are now closed.  Please go to Round 2.

Few filmmakers strive to make a bad movie, yet succeed just the same.  In order to celebrate all the terrible motion pictures that have been forced upon an unsuspecting audience through the decades, FilmVerse presents its Summer 2012 edition of the Theatre of Shame.  This is a contest where you can vote on awful films from various categories to narrow down over the next several weeks the Shameful Winner (or would that be loser?).  Bear in mind that this honor does not indicate the worst film of all time, but it’s a safe bet to say that it’ll be up there (or down there?) on the list.  Here are the rules:

1) FilmVerse will nominate 4 motion pictures each in 16 categories.  Readers are to vote for what they consider the worst film in each category.  Please keep it to one vote per person for each category.

2) “Winners” of each category will move on to Round 2.  These 8 films will then be paired, bracket style, to narrow down to 4 films for Round 3, and finally 2 movies will compete in the showdown to see which will be placed as the headliner of the Theatre of Shame

3) The dates for each round is as follows:

  • Round 1 – Monday, August 20, 2012 (today, with 64 nominees)
  • Round 2 – Monday, August 27, 2012 (16 competitors)
  • Round 3 – Monday, September 3, 2012 (8 competitors)
  • Round 4 – Monday, September 10, 2012 (4 semi-finalists)
  • Round 5 – Monday, September 17 (2 finalists)
  • “Winner” announced – Tuesday, September 18, 2012

4) Nominated films may only compete in one category for each competition; however, the “winner” and all nominees may be nominated again in future competitions.

5) If your favorite bad movie is not nominated this time around, suggest it for a future competition.  Also, if you would like to see a category not represented this time, feel free to mention it in the comments.

6) Have fun!  The intent is not to mock, but to enjoy filmmaking at its worst.  Okay, perhaps a little mockery never hurt anyone…

NOTE: Round 5 was added to the schedule, as an error in the bracketing was discovered.  Also, FilmVerse seems to be having some problem with certain polls for no apparent reason.  If you see wackiness (missing formatting or disappearing polls), we apologize and suggest to check back soon.

Summer 2012 Theatre of Shame Nominees:

FILMMAKER CATEGORY

ACTOR CATEGORY

FAMILY FILM CATEGORY

SEQUEL CATEGORY

RIPOFF CATEGORY

MAYBE INTENTIONALLY BAD MOVIE CATEGORY

GENRE CATEGORY

‘SPLODY CATEGORY

copyright © 2012 FilmVerse

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The Batman Movie Quiz

As expected, The Dark Knight Rises is one of the biggest movies of the year, closing in on a billion dollars worldwide with critcial support.  Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Batman for comic books in 1939, and the character has been with us in theaters and on TV in both live action and animation practically ever since.  The Cape Crusader’s popularity hasn’t waned, even after Joel Schumacher attempted to kill the series.

How much do you know about Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego on the silver screen?  Click the following button and take the Batman Movie Quiz.

Take the Batman Movie Quiz!

After taking the quiz, scroll down to see more information about the questions (or cheat and skip the quiz altogether):

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Last warning for spoilers!

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1

Batman made his first big-screen appearance in 1943’s 15-part serial Batman starring Lewis Wilson as the titular character.  The cast included Douglas Croft as Robin, William Austen as Alfred, Shirley Patterson as Bruce Wayne’s love interest Linda Page, and J. Carrol Naish as the villain, Dr. Daka.

2

In addition to 1943’s Batman, there was second serial in 1949 called Batman and Robin.  Robert Lowrey starred as Batman and Johnny Duncan as Robin.  Also featured: Jane Adams as Vicki Vale, Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon, an uncredited Eric Walton as Alfred, and Leonard Penn as the villain The Wizard.

3

Catwoman made four live action appearances in feature films:  Julie Newmar in 1966’s Batman; Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992’s Batman Returns; Halle Berry in 2004’s Catwoman; and Anne Hathaway in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.  Of course, it’s debatable as to whether or not Catwoman is truly a villain.

The Joker comes in second with three live action roles: Cesar Romero in 1966’s Batman; Jack Nicholson in 1989’s Batman; and Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight.  Additionally, Mark Hamill provided the character’s voice in 1993’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

4

Just one animated film was released theatrically, the aforementioned Batman: Mask of the Phantasm in 1993.

5

The first theatrical film (not counting the two movie serials) featuring Batman, Batman in 1966, was one of the first times that a TV series made the jump to the big screen.  The movie was intended to be released before the series premiered in order to promote the show, but instead was held off until the summer between the first and second season (the show only lasted two seasons).  In Europe, however, the film came out first due to a lag of when the TV show made it overseas.

6

Robin Williams was considered for the role of the Joker before Jack Nicholson took on the psychotic clown role.  Williams was again approached to play the Riddler for Batman Forever, but was turned down in favor of up-and-coming manic comedic actor Jim Carrey.

7

Tim Burton’s Batman made a total of $411,348,924 worldwide ($251,188,924 domestically).  It was the highest grossing movie as of 1989, though it was later topped by The Dark Knight at $1,001,921,825 and The Dark Knight Rises at $897,716,000

8

The Batman feature films have had four directors:

  • Leslie H. Martinson — Batman (1966)
  • Tim Burton — Batman (1989) & Batman Returns (1992)
  • Joel Schumacher — Batman Forever (1995) & Batman & Robin (1997)
  • Christopher Nolan — Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) & The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

9

1997’s Batman & Robin was the 12th highest grossing film for that year, making $107,325,195 domestically and a total worldwide gross of $238,207,122.

10

14 actors who played Batman villains had been nominated for Oscars (and several had won).  Of course, all but one was for movies other than the Batman films.  “Villain” means any character that could be considered to be an antagonist in  at any point in the film (spoiler alert!).  They are as follows (in alphabetical order):

  1. Marion Cotillard (won)
  2. Danny DeVito (for Best Picture)
  3. Anne Hathaway
  4. Tommy Lee Jones (won)
  5. Heath Ledger (won posthumously for The Dark Knight)
  6. Burgess Meredith
  7. Liam Neeson
  8. Jack Nicholson (won 3)
  9. Michelle Pfeiffer
  10. Eric Roberts
  11. Uma Thurman
  12. Ken Watanabe
  13. Christopher Walken (won)
  14. Tom Wilkinson

* Information about the questions and answers taken from IMDb, Wikipedia, and Box Office Mojo.

copyright © 2012 FilmVerse

6 Comments

How Jurassic Park III Could Have Been Better

When Jurassic Park hit the theaters in 1993, it caused a revolution in CGI filmmaking because for the first time we had what appeared to be living creatures created entirely digitally–also, those creatures were dinosaurs!  It went on to be the highest grossing movie of all time (the third time a film directed by Steven Spielberg was to hold such an honor).  Naturally, a sequel was in order, so Spielberg loosely based The Lost World: Jurassic Park on the novel by Michael Crichton.  The follow-up made a ton of money, though was met with mixed critical response.  It’s not surprising that Spielberg decided to pass on directing the third film and instead took a producing role, allowing Joe Johnston to helm the new adventure.

While the first film was science fiction horror, the second attempted to deal with themes such as “hunters vs. gatherers” (while providing more humans for the dinos to eat).  Jurassic Park III, however, was straight-up adventure.  It was a sparse, fast-paced story about Alan Grant being suckered into flying to Isla Sorna (site B from The Lost World) in order to rescue a boy who was stranded on the dinosaur-infected island.  With a running time of 92 minutes, it was only 3/4 of the length of the previous entries in the series and left most of the audience yearning for the magic of the original.

It seems that Jurassic Park III (oddly named since there was technically no Jurassic Park II) suffered the curse of the third film in a trilogy.  Despite having a screenplay re-written by Oscar-winners Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, the story was too slight to have much of an impact and featured far too many problems to be enjoyable.  That’s not to say that the entire movie was a failure; in fact the dinosaurs were perhaps the most realistic yet, including a redesigned velociraptor with feathers and odd colorings and a very cool spinosaurus that made a T-rex seem like a puppy dog.  Several scenes were quite effective, such as the “bird cage” scene with pteranodons, the raptor attack in the lab, and the spino tracking the heroes through the river while the phone it ate rings.  Johnston handled the action and the effects well, but was saddled with an inferior screenplay.  The frustrating thing is that it didn’t need to be this way–with a few changes, this could have been a great popcorn movie.

Alan Grant

Sam Neill’s character, paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, was the heart of the first movie.  He was a “digger” who found himself “extinct” in the face of genetically cloned living dinosaurs.  While planning his future with his co-worker and apparent lover Dr. Ellie Sattler, he makes it plain that he doesn’t want children–but in the course of the story has to be a surrogate father to two kids while crossing the island where dangerous beasts have escaped their pens.  Spielberg explored his common theme of broken families and missing fathers through these characters, wrapping it up nicely in the final scene where the exhausted kids are cuddled up with him in the helicopter flying them to safety while a bemused Ellie looks on.

Grant was not featured in The Lost World in favor of Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm taking over as the lead (also proving to be a largely MIA father).  With the third film, Grant returned as the protagonist, but was given very little to do.  His presence almost seemed like an after-thought.  We’re introduced to him visiting Ellie, now married to another man with a 3-year-old son, and then quickly we see him giving a boring lecture where he does not want to acknowledge the fact that there are once again live dinosaurs on the planet.  He’s then conned into leading an aerial tour of Isla Sorna (an island he never stepped foot on) for a supposedly rich couple, only learning when it’s too late that they are neither wealthy nor still a couple, but rather they are looking for their son who went missing on the island.  Grant then spends the rest of the movie running around trying to keep everyone alive, a function that mostly wastes his knowledge of the animals hunting them.

The first mistake is how the writers dealt with Grant several years after the events in Jurassic Park.  For him to think that anyone would be interested in hearing about fossilized bones and theories of dinosaur behavior when there are living examples of these creatures in existence is ludicrous.  Yet he naively gives a speech and refuses to even acknowledge his experience on Isla Nebular.  It wouldn’t be in his character to profit off of tragedy, but he is self-defeating to not even discuss his adventures, even in a clinical manner.  Wouldn’t his lectures be so much more interesting if he compared what the theories based on fossils told him compared to what he saw in real life?

Secondly, why were he and Ellie no longer together?  Their single scene together barely touched upon their relationship, alluding to the fact that they were now merely friends or colleagues.  These two had been planning a future together, both professionally and romantically!  Did the events in the first movie tear them apart?  Did they just realize that they weren’t right for each other?  Did his insistence on pursuing fossils rather than live animals cause a rift between them?  It would have been nice for the movie to provide some answers as well as conflict.  Did Grant have any regrets for breaking up with Ellie?  She’s moved on to an apparently happy life with a husband and child while maintaining her career, while Grant is a relic in his own time.  He never wanted children and she did (another possible source of their separation), and both got exactly what they wanted–but is he happy with that decision?  Perhaps he could have seen the missed opportunity in her child.  This and his downward career spiral could cause him to be at a rather bleak part in his life, but this is not explored in the film other than a sense of melancholy that undermines the adventurous tone of the movie.

As an alternative, the movie could shown the two characters married (happily or otherwise).  With him being called back into action, how would he react to be separated from his wife and child now that he’s adjusted to the role of father?  This could be especially poignant given that he must rescue another couple’s child.  Even keeping Grant single without any kids, he could look at the missing boy as a means to make up for not being the father of Ellie’s child like he should have been.  He was a surrogate father once and missed his chance at being one for real.  The decision to go after the boy could have been driven by this inner need in him, which would have been a lot stronger than what was actually on screen.

Speaking of which, Grant doesn’t even know about the missing boy until he’s stranded on the island.  Why?  A primary rule of storytelling is that the protagonist drives the story.  As it is, Grant is just along for the ride, being misled by the boy’s parents in order to get him to agree to one thing while plotting something completely different.  Why couldn’t they have just been up front with him and pleaded to his sense of decency?  This would have given him inner conflict–there’s no way he would return to Jurassic Park or its Site B under normal circumstances, but a lost child would play upon his conscience.  In making the decision to go in search of him, that puts him in the story’s driver’s seat rather than being there just because he happened to have been in the first film.

Not only would this strengthen his character, but he would then be able to call the shots through the rest of the story.  Rather than be hapless (and helpless) survivors of a plane crash, Grant and the other characters would have started with a solid plan, albeit one that would fall apart and need to be improvised along the way.  This would give them solid hurdles to overcome that would be organic to the story and not forced upon them simply because the film needed an action scene here and there.

Finally, Grant needs to grow through the course of the movie, something that doesn’t currently happen.  In the first movie, he learns to be a father figure, though by the third film he has regressed as if that change in him never happened.  Does he need to relearn that lesson all over again?  That would be redundant.  Perhaps he needs to mature so that he’s ready to take on the responsibility of being a husband and father–something that was lacking in him that drove Ellie away.  Or if he is married to Ellie and is the father of her little boy, maybe he’s still not dealing with the situation, and this new adventure gives him a new perspective on his life.  After all, what if it was his own son that was missing on an island filled with vicious dinosaurs?

Ellie Sattler

Why bring Laura Dern back only for a one-scene cameo?  Especially since she doesn’t do anything in that scene except establish the fact that her character has moved on with her life without Alan Grant?  Her character, palebotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, was a tough, resourceful heroine in the first film.  In this one, she is relegated to the role of deus ex machina, sending in the Marines to rescue Grant and company off screen.  There’s a joke where Grant uses a satellite phone and contacts Ellie’s little boy, who watches Barney while Grant is being threatened by a real, non-purple dinosaur.  Ellie presumably gets to the phone in time to hear screams and somehow puts the pieces together to call for help.  Why couldn’t we see her being resourceful once again and urgently trying to get the U.S. military to respond?  That would have been great conflict to contrast with what the characters on the island were going for.  It also would have created suspense rather than just have a surprise ending where the heroes get saved out of the blue.

The Bickering Ex-Spouses

William H. Macy and Téa Leoni play Paul and Amanda Kirby, separated parents of Trevor Morgan’s Erik Kirby, who was para-sailing with Amanda’s boyfriend near Isla Sorna when disaster struck and left him stranded to fend for himself on the island.  At first, the Kirbys pretend to be wealthy business owners wanting a unique vacation and convince Alan Grant to give them a guided tour of the island in hopes of spotting some dinosaurs.  However, they also hire mercenaries to help defend themselves against the beasts when they land on the island–which they do only after one of the mercenaries knock Grant unconscious.  Paul and Amanda spend the rest of the movie arguing loudly and quite annoyingly.  In fact, Amanda proves to be the most shrill film character since Kate Capshaw’s Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

As was mentioned before, why couldn’t they have been upfront with Grant about their real purpose?  The sneaky shenanigans do nothing to advance the story other than make Grant look like a weak protagonist.  Once their subterfuge is discovered in Act 2, it’s pretty much dropped from the plot.  They’re used to develop the theme of the broken family that is a common denominator in this series; that’s fine, but it’s handled in a clunky manner.  The script treats high-volumed bickering as character development, and all too quickly the estranged couple finds themselves back together.  In fact, when they find the skeletal remains of Amanda’s boyfriend, she reacts with an hysterical scream–not for the boyfriend, but for her son.  It’s as if the boyfriend was inconsequential.  At least Erik could take care of himself, something that cannot be said for the parents.

The Mercenaries

The first Jurassic Park featured the game warden, Muldoon, who carried a powerful looking gun but was still bested by the raptors.  In The Lost World, his character was one-upped by Pete Postlethwaite’s big game hunter Roland Tembo, whose desire was to bag a T-rex.  In fact, he brought along a whole team of wranglers who ended up as a moveable dinosaur feast.  It only makes sense that Jurassic Park III would take this type of role to the next level with a team of mercenaries–though if the definition of “team” is two generic tough guys led by the weaselly little Mr. Udesky (Michael Jeter in one of his last screen roles before succumbing to AIDS).

Having the team leader be the complete opposite of the rugged gunsman that the first two films featured was a nice twist; it’s just too bad that the firepower featured in an early scene was never used.  Also, the two mercenaries were only in the movie long enough to be eaten shortly after the plane carrying the heroes landed.  Perhaps the filmmakers thought this was ironic, but in reality it robbed the movie the potential to have some awesome action scenes involving these characters and their weapons.  It’s not that they were killed that’s the problem, it’s just that they’re dispatched so quickly.  Maybe the movie could have had at least one more mercenary that survived the initial attack in order to last a little way into the plot.

Additionally, Udesky is barely developed as a character and is merely used as the bait in a trap the raptors set for the others.  This was actually a brilliant idea, but since we knew little to nothing about the guy, it was hard to care about his fate.  The movie would have been so much richer if this scene were put off until later into the story and allow him to show his worth (or lack thereof).  The slimy lawyer in the first film had more screen time, and his death was very satisfying!

The Running Time and the Ending

To say this film feels rushed is an understatement.  Probably in response to The Lost World taking 45 minutes to gear up for some action, Jurassic Park III wastes little time in getting to Isla Sorna and putting the characters in danger.  But as stated before, this robs the movie from any character development, rendering them merely action figures to be moved around in the admittedly effective set pieces.  It can be argued that these films were never heavy on deep character analysis, but at least there was motivation for their actions (beyond, of course, the Kirbys wanting to rescue their son).  A lot of the problem is the fact that this movie is very short.  Why did the filmmakers feel the need to make it barely an hour and a half long?  It feels like the Cliff Notes version of a story and could have easily been fleshed out to be a full two hours long and still be exciting.  Screenwriters Payne and Taylor know how to craft character-driven stories, so it’s inexplicable that they ended up doing the exact opposite here.

The Lost World ended its Act 2 with a rescue from the island and proceeded into its third act with taking a T-rex (and its baby) to San Diego.  A lot of criticism was given to this movie for tacking on a Godzilla-like climax with the Tyrannosaur running loose through the city, but it was vastly different from the first film and it completed the theme of letting animals live free that ran through the film.  Jurassic Park III ended at the same point that The Lost World geared up for its climax, with a surprise rescue by the Marines.  As stated earlier, it’s implied that Ellie Sattler called in the cavalry while off screen, but that’s a cheat.  Alan Grant is the protagonist, yet not only did he not cause the plot to happen, he didn’t resolve the conflict either.  Sure, he gave the eggs back to the raptors, but he and his companions surely would have been eaten regardless until the comically huge beach assualt saved them at the last minute.  Granted, Grant and his original companions were saved in a similar manner by a T-rex, allowing them to simply run out of the building, but that at least felt somewhat organic to the plot (after all, the T-rex had a habit of showing up out of nowhere to chow down on unsuspecting animals).  The ending to Jurassic Park III is a cheat.  It makes the characters completely helpless and ineffectual–ultimately, everything they went through was meaningless.  The first two films had a point, but this one was pointless.  The characters ran around the island, being chased by the dinosaurs, and then were rescued.  The end.  No, no, no–they needed to provide the means for their own escape.

This film had so much potential and was entertaining in a shallow way, but it could have been a great adventure film if more effort was put into it.  Spielberg even said one time that a different story came to his attention that would have been far better than the one that was filmed.  Why they didn’t turn that into Jurassic Park IV is a mystery.  There’s talk that a fourth film is in the works, but given that it’s now more than a decade since the third, it makes one wonder what they’re waiting for.  A good script?

copyright © 2012 FilmVerse

20 Comments

Liebster Awards

Updated 8/21/2012

The Liebster Awards is a means to promote blogging and to get people to discover new blogs.  Le0pard13 at It Rains…You Get Wet (a pretty cool blog, by the way) nominated FilmVerse for the Liebster.  The rules to participate are as follows:

  1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
  3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
  4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post.
  5. Go to their page and tell them.
  6. No tag backs.

Let the fun begin!

11 Things About Me

  1. I am an avid herbivore.
  2. I try to ride my bicycle every day.
  3. My life is a sitcom, including the occasional “very special episode.”
  4. Composer John Williams nearly ran me over with his car.
  5. I have explored caves in four U.S. states (don’t you dare call it “spelunking”).
  6. If I could go barefoot at all times, I would.
  7. Once I was left at the top of a mountain.
  8. One time I had dinner with Steven Spielberg’s mother.
  9. I attended 2 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 5 high schools, and 3 colleges spanning 4 states.
  10. I spent a week canoeing down a river.
  11. The Helton family is distantly related to the Hiltons, which means that somewhere in my family forest is Paris.

My Answers to Le0pard13’s Questions

1. What is your favorite book about cinema (whichever type of book, covering any kind of film genre)?

Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert.

2. What is your favorite piece of music or song (score or the needle-dropped variety) used in a movie?

There are several pieces of music that never fail to move me, and it’s hard to narrow it down, so I’ll make a list (in no particular order):

  1. The sad score played over Luke’s lightsaber fight with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi
  2. Danny Elfman’s main title theme to Batman
  3. Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” played over the end credits (and sampled throughout the film) in Rob Reiner’s movie of the same name
  4. “Duel of the Fates” in The Phantom Menace
  5. James Horner’s battle music during the climactic showdown between Kirk and Khan in The Wrath of Khan

3. Charles Bronson or James Coburn?

Definitely James Coburn.  Charles Bronson always seemed to be a one-note tough guy, whereas Coburn had a fantastic sense of humor and charisma.

4. What is your favorite foreign film (one made outside your country)?

Francois Trauffault’s The 400 Blows.

5. When watching a movie at home, what food stuff do you almost always have nearby?

Nothing really.  If snack food’s in the house, I might munch on that, but I don’t have to have any food when watching a movie–even in the theater.

6. Vincent Hanna or Neil McCauley (reference this film if the characters don’t ring a bell)?

I have actually never seen Heat, so I can’t answer this question.  It’s one of the movies on my Need to See Before I Die list.

7. What movie cliché are you so tired of seeing in film?

I’m sick of having a character’s loved ones killed (or kidnapped, or looked at cross-eyed), so he seeks revenge against those responsible.  I’d also love for once to not have the hero’s love interest be put in danger at the end of the film.

8. What’s the scariest scene or image your ever saw on film (and it doesn’t have to be from a horror movie)?

The trailer for Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.

9. The Howling or An American Werewolf in London?

I love both of these movies.  Despite the fact that I have The Howling on DVD and don’t own An American Werewolf in London, John Landis’s comedy-horror is a better film than Joe Dante’s horror-comedy.  Plus American Werewolf‘s sequel isn’t as insultingly terrible as the ones for Howling.

10. Ever read the source book of a film adaptation that intrigued you? If so, what’s your favorite?

Of course.  I love the entire Harry Potter series and have re-read Jurassic Park several times (though to be fair, I read Michael Crichton’s novel before seeing Steven Spielberg’s film).

11. Have you ever fast-forwarded a movie just to get to the good part?

No, I tend to want to watch a movie as a whole.  However, it’s hard for me to get through Empire of the Sun in one sitting.  I adore that movie, but it’s easier to enjoy in small chunks, so I find myself skipping to a particular sequence to watch and then turning it off before the next somewhat unrelated event happens.

My Questions for Others

  1. What movie would you consider changed your life?
  2. What genre do you avoid like the plague and why?
  3. If you had a choice, would you prefer to watch a film in a traditional theater, on an IMAX screen, in 3D, or at home on HDTV?
  4. Are you guilty of talking during a movie?
  5. Is there a particular actor who you would see in a movie regardless of what the film is?
  6. Do you read the end credits?
  7. Who is your favorite author?
  8. Do you believe that the film/TV/video game industry is responsible for violence in our society?
  9. Should celebrities be involved in the political process to use their fame as an agent to push specific agendas?
  10. If cosmetic surgery and Botox were outlawed, would that be an improvement for Hollywood or a detriment?
  11. What classic film would you like to see remade with modern filmmaking techniques?

My Nominations for the Liebster Awards

These are 11 of a whole bunch of very good blogs that I follow.  Check them out, as they’re worth your while.  By all means, this is not a complete list of great blogs, but I’m limited to 11 due to the rules.  Any of the nominees who wish to participate are encouraged, but it is not required.  These are listed in random order.

  1. Darren at the m0vie blog
  2. Ruth at FlixChatter
  3. Andrew at A Constant Visual Feast
  4. Andy at Andy Watches Movies
  5. Novroz at Polychrome Interest
  6. Lily at Lily Wight
  7. Alec at Alec’s Movie Reviews
  8. Mark at Fast Film Reviews
  9. Terrence at Focused Filmographer
  10. Victor at Victor’s Movie Reviews
  11. Joan at Never Give Up

UPDATE

Victor at Victor’s Movie Reviews nominated me for the Liebster as well on August 20.  Here are my answers to his questions:

1) What’s your favorite film from 1982?
Wow, you mean I have to choose between “E.T.”, “Poltergeist”, “The Thing”, “Blade Runner”, and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”?  Maybe I’ll go with “Grease 2”.  Or maybe not.  I would have to say “E.T.” if you forced me to name just one.

2) What’s your favorite Peter Seller’s film?
“A Shot in the Dark”, which competes with the best Clouseau films with “Return of the Pink Panther”.

3) What’s your favorite pre-Little Mermaid Disney film?
If you’re referring to animation, I’d go with “Peter Pan”, which is a great boy adventure, and the only princess to be found is the Indian one.

4) Based off their 70′s films only, who’s your favorite:  De Niro, Hoffman, or Pacino?
I’ve always been drawn to the earlier work of Hoffman more than the other guys.

5) What’s your favorite sports film?
I’m not a big fan of sports, but there are a few films about sports that are quite good.  That said, I’d have to list the original “Bad News Bears”.  I saw that repeatedly as a kid, and it still holds up, primarily because it’s so un-PC.

6) For Scorsese, what’s his most overrated, underrated, and your favorite film?
Overrated: “Goodfellas”
Underrated: “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”
Favorite: “Hugo”

7) What film impressed you the most with its dialogue?
I’m not a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, but I was blown away by the dialogue in “Pulp Fiction”.

8) What film impressed you the most with its musical score?
“Star Wars” affected me in so many ways, especially with John Williams’s amazing score.  Just hearing the opening notes still gives me goose bumps.

9) Of filmmakers, actors, writers, etc. that have passed away, whom would you have liked to met and interviewed?
I would have loved to have gotten to know Jim Henson.  His passing was one of the saddest days of my life.

10) What film would you have loved to watch in a theatre with an audience when it first came out?
I am still annoyed by the fact that I missed “Superman: The Movie”, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and “Aliens” in the theater (though I saw one quick scene of the latter while waiting to watch another film).

11) Goodfellas or The Godfather?
Definitely “The Godfather”, which is artistic filmmaking at its best.  It’s simply a beautiful film.  I’ve yet to be able to sit through “Goodfellas” in its entirety.

copyright © 2012 FilmVerse

2 Comments

Ham and Jam and Spam a Lot

 

It’s been a few months since we looked at some of the crazy spam messages that FilmVerse has received, so it’s time to revisit this nonsense.  As before, the messages are left intact with all their creative spelling, grammar, and punctuation for your enjoyment.

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copyright © 2012 FilmVerse

6 Comments

Observations of the 2012 Emmy Nominations

Earlier this week, the 2012 Emmy nominations were announced.  As is typical, there were snubs and surprises with the usual expectations.  Here are a few observations from this year’s list of potential award winners.

If You Want Drama, Go To Cable

Of the six shows nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, the only one that was from an over-the-air broadcast network was Downton Abbey, which aired in the U.S. on PBS, though it is originally a British program (or is it programme?).  HBO and AMC has two shows each–Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones for HBO, Breaking Bad and Mad Men for AMC (not bad for a network named American Movie Channel).  Showtime has a sole entry, Homeland.  It seems that the days of the Big Four (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) putting out award-winning dramas is over.  Part of the problem is that they produce safe, traditional TV shows for the consumer who wants comfort television.  Turn on NCIS or Law & Order: SVU or Blue Bloods (is that show still on the air?) and you’ll pretty much get the same thing week after week.  The characters will act the same, the plots will be resolved in a similar manner, and no real surprises happen unless a cast member departs.  With these nominated series, you never know what to expect.  It is true drama where you can expect to be riveted and moved, and not just have TV wash over you.

The same can be said about the performances in dramas as well.  The lead actors nominated for dramas all come from one of these shows with the exception of Michael C. Hall from Showtime’s Dexter.  Was Hugh Laurie snubbed in his final season of House?  He’s a terrific actor, but he was nominated six times previously for that role–and let’s face it, he hasn’t brought anything new this season that he didn’t already do.  Even the supporting actors in dramas are limited to one of the nominated shows.  These series have amazingly talented casts, and nothing against the supporting actors from CSI or…what other dramas are on broadcast television?

Women fared a little better with Kathy Bates from NBC’s now-cancelled Harry’s Law and Emmy regular Julianna Margulies from CBS’s The Good Wife.  Both are solid actors, and with Glenn Close from FX’s Damages, there’s competition for the women from the nominated dramas.  It seems that broadcast networks are kinder on women, offering a better chance at getting juicy roles.  Or at least they do on The Good Wife, which offers two supporting actress nominations in Archie Panjabi and Christine Baranski.  The rest of the supporting noms?  You guessed it–from the cable shows.

Comedies Are Getting Stale

Remember when Modern Family took the airwaves by storm and caused such an excitement in viewers and with the Academy?  Well, that was two years ago, which in Hollywood terms is an eternity.  This admittedly brilliant show just finished its third season and is starting to show signs of fatigue.  In addition to Modern Family, three other nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series are long-timers: The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and 30 Rock.  These perennials are probably the funniest shows on TV, but there’s not much fresh about them.  The two newbies are (surprise, surprise) from HBO–Girls and Veep.  While cable allows the characters to swear and show skin, it also allows for the writing to be sharper and try out more extreme ways of storytelling that the broadcast networks just can’t do, or when they try they get Suburbia or the awful Two Broke Girls (the opening scene of the pilot was both insulting and offensive).

As expected, the lead actors, both male and female, of these shows have earned their own nominations.  This isn’t surprising since sitcoms depend on their stars.  If the stars are funny, then so are their shows, and it’s hard to say a show is the best on TV without honoring its cast.  Several leads have been nominated without their shows being up for an award, primarily in the actress category: Zooey Deschanel from New Girl, Edie Falco from the cancelled Nurse Jackie, Melissa McCarthy from Mike & Molly (surely cashing in on her Golden Globe and Oscar good will), and Amy Poehler from Parks & Recreation. For the guys, there’s Don Cheadle from Showtime’s House of Lies, Louis C.K. from FX’s Louis, and Jon Cryer from Two and a Half Men.  Wait a minute–Jon Cryer?!?  Has anyone in the Academy actually watched Two and a Half Men this season?  Cryer’s performance has degenerated from that of the long-suffering straight man to a pale parody of his character.

The supporting categories are rather skewed because the ensemble cast of Modern Family has decided en masse to be put in this category rather than single out one or two of them as the leads (good for them).  Unfortunately, this means that there’s only two slots available in the male category with four in the female category.  Though typical of Hollywood, none of the four young actors on the shows (who truly could be listed as supporting cast) are recognized for their work.  It can be argued that while not as seasoned as the adult actors on the show, these kids are superb in their performances and are just as important to the success of the show.  But because they’re minors, they are ignored by the Academy and by the industry as a whole.  It’s great to see Mayim Bialik recognized for her role on The Big Bang Theory.  The late Kathryn Joosten is nominated for her role in Desperate Housewives, which is debatable to be considered a comedy.

Saturday Night Live Is Somehow Still Relevant

The 37-year-old sketch comedy show has been a consistent source of comedic actors who transition from the show into their own television series or to the big screen.  Some of our biggest movie stars got their start on SNL–John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Mike Meyers, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and most recently Kristin Wiig to name a few.  However, the show has had its ups and downs through the years.  The last decade or so has shown that Lorne Michaels’s brainchild is a machine that runs on entropy; it has its proven formula and format that never wavers.  As such, SNL is like your grandmother’s chocolate cake–it may taste good, but it’s so familiar and comfortable that its taste loses all meaning.  In recent years, the show has become a shadow of its one time glory and has become all but unwatchable.  Except somehow, it continues to not only plod on, but actually generate some moments of inspiration if not brilliance.  This is reflected in its 6 Emmy nominations: Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series; Bill Hader for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series; Kristin Wiig for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series; Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series; and Jimmy Fallon for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.  It’s interesting to note that both Hader and Wiig are leaving the show, Rudolph and Fallon are former cast members who returned to host, and McCarthy is being praised all over the place.  It makes one wonder as to the reason behind these Emmy nominations.

Michael J. Fox Is A National Treasure

The former Family Ties and Spin City star is up for two Emmys this year, Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Curb Your Enthusiasm and Guest Actor in a Drama Series for The Good Wife (proving that not only women on that show are acclaimed).  Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Fox has largely been in retirement except for a few guest appearances here and there.  Each time he shows up, it’s an event because he’s so well loved and is extremely talented.  He can entertain effortlessly, despite his body betraying him.  Let’s hope that these nominations are for his peerless acting skills and not because he is forced to perform with a crippling condition.

Movie Stars Are Guaranteed a Nomination

Once upon a time, TV stars stayed on the small screen and movie stars never slummed it in broadcast entertainment.  Those days are long gone.  Movie stars (especially ones who may be on the decline, or actresses in general who want meaty roles) often find compelling work with TV movies and mini-series.  The following actors who made a name for themselves in film have been nominated in various categories:  Tom Berenger, Kevin Costner, Judy Davis,  Idris Elba, Woody Harrelson, Ed Harris, Ashley Judd, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Lange, Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Bill Paxton, David Strathairn, Emma Thompson, and Mare Winningham.  Imagine a feature film starring that cast?

Conan, Leno, and Letterman are MIA

All the hoopla over the David Letterman/Jay Leno feud and the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien feud seems very, very distant given the fact that none of their shows are on the Emmy roster for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series, especially considering The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon (which succeeded both Letterman and O’Brien), Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Saturday Night Live are all nominated.  Leno’s absence is no surprise–does anyone really think he’s funny?  Letterman has now been on the air longer than Johnny Carson, and his acerbic wit seems muted these days.  Even O’Brien’s new show on TBS, which is far superior to his version of The Tonight Show, seems lost in the mix.

The Academy Has No Clue Regarding Animated Shows

Bob’s Burgers was nominated for Outstanding Animated Program.  Let me repeat that: Bob’s Burgers was nominated for an Emmy.  I’m sure it must have its fans.  It’s somehow been renewed.  Granted, it’s better than FOX’s other attempts at retaining its Animation Domination timeslots such as Napoleon Dynomite and the horrid Allen Gregory, but that’s not saying much.  Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad received a nom when Family Guy didn’t.  The never-ending The Simpsons has been nominated in this category for nearly every one of its 24-year existence, winning 10 times (along with countless other Emmy nominations in different categories and non-Emmy awards).  It received this year’s nomination despite giving us the worst Treehouse of Horror episode ever.  Did The Simpsons make the cut simply because it’s been around forever?  Then we have The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole.  Seriously?  Where is the most original and creative animated series currently on the air–Adventure Time?  Where’s the innovative and cutting edge Robot Chicken?  Where’s the funny and irreverent Mad?  Where’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars, that has proven to be a huge improvement to the prequel films and has grown increasingly darker and more mature with each season?  But hey, Bob’s Burgers and Penguins of Madagascar were nominated!  At least they didn’t overlook Futurama.  There’s some hope in the world.

copyright © 2012 FilmVerse