Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sigh. Unnecessary Sequels & Reboots

Hollywood is a business - and a costly business. Movies are expensive to make, distribute, and market. Therefore, when a studio hits a home run, they want to repeat the experience. Sometimes the "repeat" is in the form of a sequel; a continuation of the original story, often with the same actors playing the roles. Other times, studios dust off an old success and try to freshen it up for a new generation. Every now and then, it pays off - the reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise has been both commercially and critically successful and big plans are in the works there - and sometimes it doesn't - by the end of the original Planet of the Apes franchise, things were looking pretty shabby.

And ever since Spielberg launched the modern summer blockbuster with Jaws, studios have looked to summer as the season to make moneymoneymoney.

Put those notions together and you get Jurassic World and (heaven help us) Ted 2. Let's take a brief look at both of these efforts.

Jurassic World is trying to cash in on the success of the Jurassic Park movies, which started 22 (!) years ago. There's a whole new generation of viewers out there and dinosaurs are always popular, so why not make them bigger, toothier, and moremoremore? Because it doesn't work and playing John Williams' soaring theme music over shots of the park, rather than shots of these incredible creatures sort of - well, underscores that point. I like Chris Pratt just fine and Dallas Bryce Howard deserves better than the cardboard cutout, severe-business-woman character she's given to play in this one. (She's paid for The Village by now.) There's still a message in here - but it's watered down and honestly, the movie isn't a big screen requirement. It goes back to the old saying from The Critic - "If a movie is a remake of a classic, rent the classic." It's not that Jurassic World is awful, it's just dull, which is nigh-unforgivable in a movie about giant man-eating lizards. But it does feature a Jimmy Buffett cameo, so there's that. He's not in the recut, fan-made, trailer, but it's still worth a watch.

Ted 2 is a bear of a different color. The original Ted was profane, lewd, and hilarious because it was such an original idea (but is this just Macfarlane speculating on the nature of Stewie and Rupert from Family Guy? Hmmm). This second outing just feels tired - and that's not just my opinion. The audience in the theatre when I saw it was trying to laugh, but it was just too much effort. Some chuckles, but really - no surprising, "hey, did you catch that?" belly laughs are in this one. It's still profane and lewd, but sadly - it's not funny. Well, there is one funny, totally random cameo from Liam Neeson (who was also in Macfarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West), but aside from that - I'm not even comfortable recommending it as a rental.

Both films will make money - in fact, Jurassic World is breaking box office records, but trust me, that's no guarantee of quality.

Advice worth taking!

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