I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Beowulf

THE BEOWULF 3-D IMAX EXPERIENCE

BEOWULF is the new “motion capture” weirdly computerized sword and sandal 3-D movie from Robert Zemeckis. He’s using the same technology and directational style as POLAR EXPRESS but it will go over better because that one was for kids, this one has a bunch of stabbings and monsters and a part where Virtual Angelina Jolie gives a handjob to a sword, so that means it’s more sophisticated and adult.

Ray iWinstone voices the blonde he-man of the title. Anthony Hopkins 2.0 plays the old king, Robin Wright Penn’s likeness plays the princess from the fuckin Shrek movies, and John Pac-Mankovich does his usual distractingly weird performance as some asshole who is pissed off about something or other. Also you got Crispin Glover inhabiting the monster Grendel and a very good computerized duplicate of Angelina Jolie’s head as Grendel’s hot mom.

BeowulfI guess they ran out of comic books and ’70s horror movies to remake, so this one is based on an epic poem from 700 AD. All I knew was a dude named Beowulf fights a monster named Grendel, so it was a fresh new story for me. But some 1300 year olds might say it’s raping their childhood, because apparently co-screenwriters British-guy and Pulp-Fiction-guy-besides-Tarantino throw in a pretty big reinterpretation. In this one the king fucked Grendel’s mom (take that Grendel!) and in fact is Grendel’s dad. And Beowulf fucked Grendel’s mom too (ooh, snap!) and the dragon he fights at the end is his son. Ha ha, your son is a dragon!

The weird thing is that this modernization of the ancient poem actually makes it more politically incorrect. I mean, that shit is fucked up. The whole story is about some dudes going to a cave and fucking a demon and then lying about it and killing their own poor bastard sons. On the surface they seem like fairly noble kings, but their way of absolving themselves of their past sins is to murder their own children. King Anthony Hopkins could’ve solved this whole problem if he would’ve bought Grendel some ear muffs and let him hang out at the castle. I know he’s a fucked up Elepehant Man looking giant with no genitals who likes to bite people’s heads off and hates merrymaking, but I’m sure if you get to know him he’s pretty cool.

The main villain is Angelina Jolie Robot as Grendel’s Mom (or “Beowulf’s Baby Mama” I believe they call her in the credits) and her brand of evil is to look real sexy and lure people in to fuck her. I’m not sure how it works because you can see that she has no vagina, but I guess they figured something out. Admittedly she does fly down to the hall and kill a bunch of dudes Predator style, but that’s only after they murdered her retarded son. She’s like Pamela Voorhees without the sweater. Anyway, the emphasis is definitely on “oh jeez, she’s so hot, how can I not fuck her?” The ol’ male fear of female sexuality. And the fear of the consequences of sex, and the responsibility of fatherhood. They cannot turn down the magical golden cave pussy, but then they’re ashamed of the sons it creates. I guess politicians have always been the same.

You know now that I think about it the main villain is not the king’s baby mama, it’s the king’s johnson. In fact, that would be a good title for the movie, THE KINGS JOHNSON. No apostrophe because there are two kings, it’s a double meaning. They would have to rename him Beowulf Johnson though for it to really work.

Actually I read on wikipedia that the manuscript of the original poem is not titled, it just has become known as BEOWULF. So in my opinion it was always meant to be called THE KINGS JOHNSON.

The Kings Johnson only think with their johnsons. The Queen (Robin Wright Penn OSX) seems like she’s supposed to be really nice and loving, but she gets passed on to Beowulf like property, and then he sleeps with some younger girl anyway. I mean he used to go around on adventures fucking mermaids and shit, so that’s the lifestyle he knows. If this whole thing was gonna turn out less tragic, one of these King Johnsons needed to man up and have a more mature relationship with his woman. The Anthony Hopkins King Johnson should’ve done the right thing and married Grendel’s Mom and helped her raise Grendel into a more respectful young man with more self esteem. I’m sure Grendel’s Mom would’ve settle down a little if she got married. She’s a smart lady and ahead of her time, she invented stiletto heels you know. I don’t think she could’ve breast fed Grendel though, unfortunately. That might be part of the problem with that boy.

Before I go on, I gotta say, you should go see this movie in 3-D right now. I can’t vouch for the digitally projected 3-D they are using in some theaters, but the Imax version is great. It’s a fun movie but the 3-D and the Imax sound is half of the experience. On video the stupid idea of using computerized dummies instead of human beings will be much more distracting.

See, here’s how the movie is made. It would be nearly impossible to film Anthony Hopkins making a speech in live action, so instead they have him make the speech while wearing specially designed scuba gear and with hundreds of little dots glued on to his face, and then they spend two or three years having a team of computer scientists create a multi-million dollar computerized simulation of him standing there making a speech. Through this miracle of technology he looks like rubber but he’s wearing a robe and not scuba gear! There is no trace of the scuba gear at all! Amazing! I don’t know how people even made movies before this was invented, must’ve been a huge pain in the ass.

So now the movie has some of the subtlety of an Anthony Hopkins acting performance, but with the not-being-real of animation. So it’s part of the best of one out of two of both worlds. This technology was also a good way to get Angelina Jolie to appear completely nude, although the technology is apparently not good enough yet to give her nipples or a vagina.

Like with POLAR EXPRESS, I sort of got a kick out of the creepy stiltedness of this completely misguided approach to animation. It’s a good novelty, like those Thunderbirds puppets they used to have. But I know that’s not what they’re going for, so I don’t know what the fuck they’re thinking making a movie this way. I love what Zemeckis does with the camera, constantly flying up to a God’s eye view, pulling back from the hall into the rafters, into the sky, into the clouds, and into Grendel’s cave for a closeup of the back of his fucked up head, all in one shot. Or the way in POLAR EXPRESS he followed a girl’s ticket as it flew out of the window of the train, got captured by a bird, trampled by wolves and fell off a cliff back into the train.

But is that camerawork really a good trade off for having characters that are an abomination against God? Yes, they’ve improved it since POLAR EXPRESS but it’s still distracting as hell. John Malkovich still looks like he’s either blind or not looking in the right place. Most of the characters have realistic heads and weirdly stubby, blobby bodies. Even the horses look kind of like dwarves. (Guess they couldn’t get a horse into scuba gear.) There’s a crowd scene that really creeped me out, because it’s so obvious that nobody in the crowd is really standing in the same place or looking at the same thing and nobody knows how to create a realistic standing-watching-a-guy posture. And things are always dropping or being carried or flying through the air with no sense of weight at all. How hard is it to just flip an actual gold coin? I guess it’s some of the same problems you have with live action movies these days, since so much is done with green screens. But what about the hair? When the characters are talking to each other should I really be ignoring what they’re saying and thinking they must have a hell of a conditioner in 700 AD to give their warriors such perfect, doll-like hair?

But I don’t know, maybe that was how they described it in the poem.

Also, I’m not entirely convinced that you can’t do shots like that in a live action movie with effects. Yes, it would be hard and require alot of computers, but I think you could do it, and probaly for cheaper. I mean, Peter Jackson did shots like that in LORD OF THE RINGS, following the moth around. The only differences are 1. Peter Jackson had to plan it before shooting it, instead of letting the effects people figure it out later and 2. it’s not as distracting and creepy.

So BEOWULF is a crazy and misguided movie, but it’s also a fun time. I enjoyed it. There’s alot of good spectacle here. Beowulf tells a story where he fights a bunch of sea monsters and it’s pretty crazy, he’s stabbing their giant eyes with his sword. The most hilarious shot in the movie is him tearing out from inside a giant monster eyeball, then puffing out his chest and yelling “I. AM. BEOWULF!!!” Top that, 300. It’s gotta be one of the most violent PG-13 movies ever made, but they shoulda gone for rated-R just for the sake of nudity. Not just because of Angelinabot’s Barbie anatomy, but because Beowulf fights Grendel butt naked, and there’s no way to take it totally seriously when they keep using conveniently placed objects to cover him up. Obviously Zemeckis didn’t see EASTERN PROMISES. That’s how it’s done, fella.

The best part of the movie is Grendel. I expected a big mean monster, but you immediately feel sorry for this guy. He’s giant but he’s pathetic, he’s a fucked up Elephant Man looking motherfucker with parts of his insides exposed, weird bumps and slime and scales all over him. He has super-sensitive hearing so the loud noises make him flip out, and he’s screaming and crying the whole time he’s attacking. The design of him is blobbier and cartoonier than he oughta be but it’s still a great monster because you get the tragedy just looking at him. Poor guy, it looks like it hurts just to be alive. Plus he still lives with his mom. And she’s always bringing new boyfriends to the cave. Not fun.

And I think Zemeckis, despite all the shit I’m giving him about this stupid process, is doing alot of cool stuff with it. I like his storytelling. I love the scene where Grendel comes back up to the cave and his mother is talking to him, and the whole scene is from the point of view of the mom, coming up out of the lake, one of those killer’s-eye-view shots like in horror movies. But then at one point a 3-D tentacle comes out from behind the camera and caresses Grendel’s deformed face. Pamela Voorhees never did that.

In fact, I think this movie is gonna give more kids nightmares then any other in recent years. Poor fucked up fifteen foot deformed naked man kicking the door down, running around screaming like he’s on a speed binge, tearing people in half, biting people’s heads off, impaling them on chandeliers, carrying their limp dead bodies up to a cave so his mom can fuck em. Grendel will be the WIZARD OF OZ flying monkeys of 2007.

So maybe it’s not a great movie, but it’s a good theme park ride. I think I might go on it again.

UPDATE: I did go on it again, and I can now vouch for the Real-D digital 3-D version. Looks like the digital projecting technology is finally catching up with the hype. It looks real nice, quite possibly a little clearer than the Imax version and for me it had less ghosting. I still prefer the giant screen and the sound system of the Imax though. But either way if you can see it in 3-D it’s gonna look good. Also I thought of another alternate title for it: CAVES WITH BENEFITS.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 16th, 2007 at 6:52 pm and is filed under Action, Cartoons and Shit, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

65 Responses to “Beowulf”

  1. Haven’t seen this one since the theatre, but I just saw the Christopher Lambert 1999 sci-fi/steampunk version of Beowulf on Netflix Instant. It has some absolutely laughable Xena-style fight scenes, bargain basement production values, and terrible Mortal-Kombat style techno blaring ALL THE TIME, but I actually kinda liked it!

    Mainly because alot of the cool changes made in the Zemeckis version from the original poem were in this version first. Most notably Grendel’s mom being a hot naked succubus instead of a monster/hag, and *SPOILER* Hrothgar (the king) turning out to be Grendel’s dad. Plus Grendel’s mom tempts Beowulf with some more baby-making instead of just trying to kill him, and the random dragon from the end of the poem being incorporated in a more organic way, instead of just another monster to fight. It’s all here first. I also kinda liked that Beowulf has a supernatural edge to him in this one, and a connection to Grendel – shades of Michael Mann’s The Keep.

    I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, but it’s a must for Lambert fans, he’s great as always.

  2. Better Zemeckis movie: BACK TO THE FUTURE or WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? (Sorry, bored on a friday night.)

  3. that’s a DAMN good question

    I’m gonna go with: pretty much equal, it’s like comparing JAWS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK both are equally great but very different movies from the same director, why does one necessarily have to be better than the other?

  4. I’ve always loved the WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT homage in BACK TO THE FUTURE PART 2

  5. would THE KINGS JOHNSON be the sequel to THE KING’S SPEECH?

  6. I like ROGER RABBIT, but the BACK TO THE FUTURE series (I can’t separate the first from the sequels) were pretty big deals to me as a kid and hands down my favorite movies. They still hold up and I can enjoy them as an adult for what they are. Time travel and the DeLorean were quick obsessions as a kid, but I can appreciate the writing and performances as an adult.

  7. I too like to think of them as just one long movie, rarely has a trilogy fit so well together and been so consistently great

  8. “I’ve always loved the WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT homage in BACK TO THE FUTURE PART 2”

    Griff – I don’t remember, what was that homage? (Not seen BTTF 2 in a long time. I should change that maybe?)

  9. The doll is in the window where we first see the sports book.

  10. onthewall – OK thnks. Forgot all about that. The only things about BTTF 2 I remember distinctly are:

    (1) Lightning hits Delorean
    (2) Marty pays finally for his wreckless time travel meddling and the new 1985 going to hell is great.
    (3) pocket-size Pizza Hut pizzas that could be microwave-grown into large pizzas. Damn you Pizza Hut, you promised us this by 2015 and we aint gonna reach that goal in time!
    (4) Oh Lala? Oh LALA?!? (I don’t remember exactly what Fox was saying at that critical moment.)

  11. How it managed to weave events from the third act of the first into it’s own third act was quite unique and I suspect something that won’t be repeated. Of the two, it is the more unique but I like how the third dovetails into more straight-forward storytelling, not to mention all the Western cliches it employed for the 1885 parts.

  12. the second movie has always been my favorite because as great as the first movie is, fundamentally it’s a teen movie, just with adventure movie elements, however the second movie drops the teen movie angle and goes full on adventure comedy, which is much more my style

    and that 2015 sequence! FUCK is that some cool shit, it’s the depiction of the future that I wish I lived in the most, it’s like a 80’s take on the idyllic 1950’s “world of tomorrow” and I wish the real 2015 was gonna be like it, I like to think that it’s 2015 if 9/11 never happened and Bush was never elected

    while I like the third movie, it’s undeniably the weakest entry in the series, just going to the old west feels like a step down compared to the stuff in the second movie, my imaginary BACK TO THE FUTURE 3 involves Marty going back to 1985 only to find that this time it’s the 1950’s vision of the future, like how the original script of the first movie ended

  13. I’m going to chime in and say that I vote for Roger Rabbit here. I think Back to The Future and Ghostbusters are the two most overrated 80s IPs out there. That’s not to say they aren’t good, but I’ve always been confused about the reverence they are held in. Also, I think WFRR is underrated. Just my two cents.

  14. I think what I admire about WFRR in general is that yes people always say in the same breath about what a great technical watershed, but first its a great entertainment. The technology is secondary. That’s the chief difference between this and say another 80s FX breakthru like TRON. I like TRON, but its sole trump card is pretty much its place in history. You don’t have to care about history to appreciate something like WFRR. In a way, its successful that very few movies have ever been. (Another like it would probably be STAR WARS.)

  15. Also, when did people start thinking tat BTTF 2 & 3 aren’t utter shit. I remember those being received with pure hatred at the time. I liked 2 when it came out but hated 3. Now, I can’t sit through either one. (1 is still good, though)

  16. The BTTF sequels did indeed have a backlash but I always liked BTTF 2 and 3. BTTF for the longest time was my favorite movie ever. It’s just the perfect storm of awesome but the sequels never offended me. BTTF 2 for all it’s cool points though is pretty chaotic and unfocused by comparison. What I liked about BTTF 3 aside from the way it deconstructs western tropes is that it goes back to a more focused narrative like the original. Brings the trilogy full circle before closing it off.

  17. I can’t remember a time when people HATED the BTTF sequels. We all agreed that they weren’t as good as part 1, but they always counted as pretty good sequels. Must be a new thing. MAybe since the internet became popular and movies were either totally fucking awesome or the worst piece of shit ever.

  18. Here in the US critics and some audiences ripped BTTF 2 long before the internet ever existed on the worldwide level it exists in today. I remember that movie and Ghostbusters II being dragged through the mud for years since it’s release. If anything since the widespread movement of the internet I’ve seen that the movie is more appreciated by most now.

  19. I think the main shit against BTTF2 was that simply people were expecting a whole new adventure based off BTTF’s ending. You now have a time machine, you can go anywhere, do anything. (In fact BTTF 3 is probably the movie people wanted in the first place you know?)

    I do think its funny that Zemeckis/Gale wrote that ending to BTTF with no plan in mind, except that it would be (randomly) awesome to have the car now fly and that one last punchline about the kids. Then oh shit now they’ve got sequels to make and deal with that ending. (Its why they conveniently knocked that girlfriend out because they admitted they wouldn’t have put her in that car if they had been planning sequels in the first place.)

  20. What I love about BTTF2 is that the whole story is basically Zemeckiz and Gale (mostly Gale. Zemeckis was occupied with ROGER RABBIT at the time) trying to write themselves out of holes. Shit, the girlfriend’s in the car, how do we get rid of her? Shit, they’re going to the future, that means Leah Thompson will be in old lady makeup the whole time, how do we get back to the past when she’s still hot? Shit, Crispin Glover turned us down, better kill him, except that’s too sad, maybe we can have Marty save him? The whole thing is them tying up the loose ends they left themselves at the end of the first one so Zemeckis could do what he really wanted: direct a western. The ironic thing is that all those weird narrative curlicues and switchbacks imposed on them by their own shortsightedness ended up creating a wildly original and entertaining film, while the third one just became a retread of the first one in western drag.

  21. Thank God for HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. Why? Because I like to believe that kept Hollywood from producing a BACK TO THE FUTURE remake, except set 30 years later (instead of the 80s going into the 50s, 2010s into 80s). Admit that’s the sort of clever reboot/sequel/neither/both pitch that Hollywood would eat up like hotcakes.

    Speaking of which, did anybody ever read the original BTTF 2 screenplay which instead of going back into the 50s it was set in the late 60s and had Marty/Doc dealing with the Hippies and Black Panthers and all that as they race to make sure Marty gets conceived? I’m glad they got away from that because it didn’t work at all.

  22. Mr. M is right on the money on why II works. It really shouldn’t for those reasons he listed, but it comes off like that it was their plan all along. I defend the third one pretty strongly, because while yes it was a retread it also reversed the dynamics of the primary relationship between Marty and Doc Brown in a very entertaining way. Tom Wilson was very good as Mad Dog Tannen as well. It’s often forgotten all the hats he had to wear in all three of these movies. He’s three different characters in the first two, and barely recognizable in the third as Mad Dog.

  23. RRA, weren’t you in the thread where I suggested a kid from the real 2015 should go back into the 1985 of BTTF1? He can be Doc Brown’s latest assistant, and Marty can be there to wave him off in a cameo.

    It is true, BTTF II was hated upon its release but people liked III because it got back to the sort of story they liked: mainly a retread of the first movie. It’s been gratifying to see people come to appreciate the brilliance of II. You may sell me on III one of these days. I think I wouldn’t mind it so much if it was just another Doc and Marty adventure, but it being the last one leaves me on a sad note of missed opportunity. II explored so many possibilities. But I’m also less interested in those western tropes. You’d think watching so much Clint I’d get it.

    I read that original BTTF II script and I applaud Gale for allowing it to be seen as a study. It really does not work and it’s bad writing too. There were a few interesting callbacks to the first film that no longer exist, but Marty is a complete idiot to make the plot work (you think “don’t call me chicken” is out of left field? That’s mild compared to the original script). The ’60s subplot didn’t seem to get the ’60s at all and again, lots of characters have to make really stupid decisions for the plot to work, and it’s even more awkward for George McFly to be absent since they’re married with two kids already at that point.

    Has anyone read the BACK TO BACK TO THE FUTURE comic book? That interests me. I just love this world so much I don’t want it to be over. BTTF is rightfully considered a perfect script, though while it was constructed mechanically it really is about some powerful feelings (the patterns in life you’ll repeat unless you stand up for yourself). II is just a wild tale about the real dangers of time travel, and an experiment that could never happen today because Glover rightfully sued them about reusing his footage without compensating him. That’s not cool, but reading Glover’s side of things is very coherent. The ride was pretty cool too.

  24. The Western tropes in III had way more to do with John Ford and the pre-Vietnam era movies, despite there being overt references to Eastwood and Leone (for example, the big crane shot revealing the town was straight out of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST).

  25. I don’t hate III but it is a letdown after the freewheeling (yet tightly plotted) insanity of II. It’s got some good sequences and it’s always fun to see the core cast in different iterations but the movie didn’t do enough with the western stuff to make it worth spending an entire movie in one era. Then again, the Delorean moves through time, not space, so if they went back any further they’d just be dealing with Indians and buffalo. Kind of hard to get Tom Wilson in there.

    Or they could have gone all the way back to the cavemen days, where Leah Thompson is like a sexy Clan of the Cave Bear type chick who’s always grinding up on Marty and presenting like a cat in heat. Biff is the head of a neanderthal clan and Marty has to stop him from raping her so that his entire bloodline won’t be extinguished at the source. (Crispin Glover’s character, a neurotic Australopithecus who dreams of a more evolved future, is played by Rick Baker in a monkey suit.) Meanwhile Doc Brown’s ancestor is a witch doctor who hits his head and then wakes up and invents fire, even though that happened in Africa, not California. This will be a nod to the first film having Marty invent rock & roll instead of Chuck Berry.

    The fire is used to power the time machine somehow. Because science, fuck off.

  26. people didn’t like BTTF 2 at the time? what the fuck was WRONG with people back then? they had no idea how good they had it, it reminds me of the hate for GHOSTBUSTERS 2, something that boggles my mind, I mean it’s not as good as the first sure, but it’s still a pretty good sequel, who in the hell honestly believes that it’s bad? it’s a better movie than most of the shit that comes out today

    anyway, all I know is that as a kid the whole BTTF trilogy was available at blockbuster and I watched all 3 of them back to back and enjoyed all 3 of them

    by the way, I actually did read the original scripts for both the original BTTF and BTTF 2, I thought the original script for the first movie had some interesting ideas that never came to fruition (particularly the ending), but of course it’s impossible to imagine BTTF without the DeLorean

    but the original script for the second movie was mostly lame, I’m glad the final movie turned out different

  27. Bob Gale talked about the bad word of mouth on the commentary for II, and blamed Universal saying all the trailers and TV spots didn’t convey enough that it would be the 2nd part of a trilogy, that it was just a sequel to BTTF. The film did good business it’s first week but it suffered once the word of mouth got out. The third still did good business (neither of them really doing the big numbers they did in ’85, virtually owning that entire summer). It’s fortuitous that the third was being made at the same time as II, because if they did it years later interest probably would have dropped considerably.

  28. Mr. Majestyk, stop getting my hopes up for sequels that won’t happen. (Although they did go back to prehistoric Hill Valley in the ride when you get swallowed by a dinosaur)

    Gale is wrong about the marketing. This was way before internet and I knew all along they were making two sequels. I didn’t know just how open II would leave it for III and directly connect (I always lamented that II doesn’t really have its own ending), but if 12-year-old Fred with no internet knew that from Entertainment Tonight or what not, then it’s not the trailer’s fault. Biggest complaint I recall was that people wanted the whole movie to be in the future and it wasn’t. And they complained it was too dark. Like Batman Returns was too dark, remember? People at the time weren’t ready for a movie that went back into another movie and messed stuff up.

    To be fair to Gale, that first draft was just that, a first draft. Had they gone down that plot, they would have tightened it up and fixed it, but if Zemeckis or Spielberg or Gale himself saw that 1967 wasn’t working and he came up with 1955, the night of the first movie, that’s the artistic process at work. Funny, the original BTTF screenplay ended up in the novelization. I remember reading it and it blew my mind. Also, remember when novelizations were a thing?

    I just think it’s sad that the reason they don’t want to do another one is that they’re afraid it won’t be good, and all the haters on Indy IV, Star Wars prequels, etc. have validated them. As mentioned in the Rambo TV thread, there’s the idea that they they should invent new things instead of going back to the well, but if the new things are FLIGHT or mocap movies, that’s not as good as the worst BTTIV would be. Zemeckis has all his theories about odd and even numbers, four is not dramatic. Easy, make two more. That’s five.

  29. Fred – damn sorry mate, I forgot all about your pitch.

    Did you play that game that was released in recent years? Didn’t play much of it because I’m not the biggest point and click fan, but that tried to be BTTF IV.

    It’ll never happen due to rights issues, but I always thought it would be great if in a comic book (or bad smut-free fan fiction) you had basically Doc/Marty collide with the other 1980s time travelers: Bill & Ted. Then Peter Davison drops out his TARDIS to settle this silly shit.

  30. Fred – well to be fair, what story could be used for BTTF IV (other than your pitch) that would be natural and not contrived (or too contrived) to justify a sequel? It can’t be like the cartoon series where they went to Ancient Rome or the American Civil War or whatever and be the same plot. The almighty franchise character arcs come into play here.

    Lets put it this way. Notice the last few FAST & FURIOUS films justify each other as a response to the previous entry. After #7 when they survive the Transporter because his brother got iced in #6, where else does that crew onwards do? They’ll rich, back home in America, and nobody else out there to kill them. What they go join fuckin’ NASCAR? Nah I don’t think so.

    (Off-topic, but I think F&F8 will focus on Dwayne Johnson’s character and let Diesel/Walker go before they ask for bigger raises. Just a hunch.)

  31. they still make novelizations, although no one reads them so who knows why they still bother (force of habit?)

    I’m disappointed to hear about the original reception for the BTTF sequels since I thought they were always considered some of the best sequels ever made, but of I course I was born like two months before BTTF 2 came out, so I was coming onto the scene way later and drawing my own conclusions

    who knows, maybe a few decades from now THE LONE RANGER will be considered a classic

  32. RRA, I’ll take the opposite tack. I can’t imagine a world in which you invented a time machine but then nothing else interesting ever happens to you again.

    Griff, glad to give you a little time travel tonight. I think people would have to come around on Matrix Revolutions before it happens for Lone Ranger. Meanwhile, Mouth and I will keep championing Sucker Punch.

    I’ve enjoyed the bits of the BTTF game I played, but admit I’m slow to play through it. I bet someone has the whole game played with minimal time on Youtube. I could probably watch it like a movie.

  33. Fred – (1) Fair enough

    (2) somebody at YT did do a playthrough.

  34. Wow, it’s seven hours long! Still probably faster than if I play it myself. I guess that’s more sequel than even Franchise Fred could hope for.

  35. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if people eventually warm up to the MATRIX sequels because enough time has passed that the whole Matrix series feels charmingly retro

  36. “maybe a few decades from now THE LONE RANGER will be considered a classic”

    Wouldn’t be the first box office bomb from Disney that became a beloved classic within less than 20 years. Just ask the people who made TRON, NEWSIES or HOCUS POCUS. I think even NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS didn’t exactly lit the box office on fire during its original release.

  37. NEWSIES, now that’s one cult I just honestly don’t “get.”* But none the less I suppose I’m happy that those filmmakers were ultimately redeemed.

    *=A good indication of a cult fandom’s size is fan fiction. According to fanfiction.net, a whooping 7,000 stories for NEWSIES or in the Top 10 for films. I would expect a ton of fan-penned stories (mostly smut I’m sure) for STAR WARS or Marvel movies and LOTR or whatever, but NEWSIES?!? Damn.

  38. To be honest, I never saw NEWSIES, but mostly because of my strong dislike of musicals, especially when kids are involved.

  39. never had any interest in NEWSIES either

  40. The BTTF game is notoriously bad and buggy. Again, I just don’t understand the reverence for BTTF and Ghostbusters. (Side note, I personally dropped the GB game from a major publisher… We ended up selling it and Brutal Legend off based on my recommendation). Both had really great first movies and stupidly bad sequels.

    And whatever Gale said about them marketing the sequel wrong is bullshit. I remember that they made a huge fucking deal about the fact that they shot the sequels at the same time (just like the Matrix suck-quels that were mentioned above. People simply didn’t like them. As I said before, I liked 2 at the time but every single other person I knew fucking despised it. Now, I’m more like them. When I watch it now, I honestly wonder what I liked about it in the first place.

    Anyway, I feel like I’m being Debbie Downer or something. I just wonder why those 2 properties are held in such high regard. It’s not that they’re bad. But, to me at least, they aren’t THAT much better than a slew of other 80s movies that aren’t held with the amount of fanboy reverence as those. Sometimes it feels like the only person who agrees with me on at least one of these is Bill Murray.

  41. Oh… And Newsies would be completely forgotten if Christian Bale wasn’t in it.

  42. You know what it is? Ghostbusters and Back to the Future are just great movies. I feel bad for those who don’t see it.

  43. The BTTF game was alright, but very linear and incredibly easy. I was hoping there’d be some time-travel-based puzzles like DAY OF THE TENTACLE, but mostly it seemed like the developers thought the gameplay was an annoying roadbump that got in the way of their BTTF4 fan fiction.

  44. “Oh… And Newsies would be completely forgotten if Christian Bale wasn’t in it.”

    I want to agree with you, but according to Wikipedia its now a musical on Broadway running since last year. We’re not getting a Broadway musical of the SHAFT remake anytime soon.

  45. Dtroyt – what the fuck man, you work for Activision? (I guess you’ve mentioned that before, but I forgot) and it was YOU that almost got the GHOSTBUSTERS game and Brutal Legend canceled? that’s…..not fucking cool, bro, how could you do that to Tim Schafer of all people?

    ok, don’t take this as a personal attack, this is purely business related, but the fact that you work for Activision is like saying that you work for the Galactic Empire in Star Wars to me (and your boss is Palpatine aka Bobby Kotick)

    your company has almost entirely ruined the medium of video games with your damn war porn cash cow (you know what I’m talking about), when I think of all the joy that used to be in games stamped out by the combat boot of you know what, well, it makes me angry

    look, nothing personal, I get it, it’s your job, but just know that if I could I would erase your cash cow from history TERMINATOR style, it’d be doing the whole world of video games a favor

    oh and tell Kotick I said “eat a dick”

  46. Easy there, Griff. You’re going to squirt anime-style geysers of blood from your nose. I did think it was weird that Dtroyt dropped in that little side note. That’d be like casually announcing you were personally responsible for re-editing and soundtrack selection for the Weinstein Company.

  47. I just really hate the direction video games have taken in recent years and Activision shoulders a lot of the blame for it, so when someone says they actually work for said company, I just can’t resist giving them a piece of my mind

    there’s always been imitators and copy cats in video games, it’s nothing new, but what is new is the rising cost of video game development, which in turn means MORE copy cats and imitators than in the past and what is the series that people are most trying to imitate these days? why just a little military themed FPS series from Activision

    and I’ve never liked modern day military themed games, I play games to escape from reality, not be reminded of how much it fucking sucks, so it’s just my fucking luck that that’s what would become the most popular genre of the modern day, thanks a lot Activision

    but mbeyond the games themselves it’s the business side of it, the NEVER ENDING yearly releases (good God even if I liked them I wouldn’t want to play one every single year, to say it’s played out now puts it lightly), the endless DLC, the reprehensible multiplayer community of those kind of games etc

    just, fuck Activision, I’m sorry

  48. and on the more philosophical side, there’s the fact that Activision treats games like product, to be released every year ad nauseum, it’s not an artform that could be used to tell thought provoking stories, no, games are just a yearly product for the DudeBros to frag each other all the livelong day, who gives a shit about faggy stories and shit?

    sequel addiction has been a debilitating affliction in video games for a long time too, but Jesus, they at least used to wait a couple of years between games, now Activision has started the trend of churning it out year after year

    yeah, I’m mad, bro

  49. Poor Dtroyt reveals himself to his colleagues here and Griff punches him for the sins of his employers.

    But generally I agree with Griff’s rant. Not precisely at Activision but video games in general. No not all games are the same war/future war/FPS/multiplayer bullshit, but damn it sure feels like that. You know what was the last game of that sort that I bought? KILLZONE 3 and that was a few years ago. Had no urge to buy (or seriously try out) newer games of that ilk. Geez I sound like an old fart because I know I’m being unfair here somehow.

    That’s what bugs me about the new generation of consoles out later this fall. What actual new shit will we get to justify shelling out 400 whatever bucks more for a new machine? Miniscule-improved graphics that isn’t dick much to matter. Not like when I was a kid when we had Nintendo, then we Sega Genesis came and ridiculously showed it up.

    Times like this, I keep thinking how much more will it take for another video game market crash…

  50. that’s one thing I love about being a PC gamer these days is there’s interesting independent games coming out for it, most recently there’s a game called GONE HOME that looks unique and at some point a game called ROUTINE will come out that looks incredible

    but it’s just fucking sad that that’s where we’re at with video games now, the same independent/non-independent dynamic of movies, where the most interesting stuff comes from independent sources and the corporate produced stuff becomes increasingly lifeless, it wasn’t always that way, a game like SILENT HILL 2 was developed and published by a major company, nowadays a game like that would be an indie title

    what the fuck’s going on with the entertainment industry these days?

  51. you sure as shit wont ever see a game like SILENT HILL 2 coming from Activision, ooh SICK BURN!

  52. Hahaha. I should have seen the Activision hate coming from a mile away. I used to work for Activision, it’s true. I haven’t worked there in several years, though, so don’t bother sending hate mail to HQ addressed to dtroyt or anything.

    I have also worked for EA… TWICE! So, feel free to through some hate out there for that.

    Here’s the thing, though. I’m not the guy to preach to. I work in games because I love games, probably as much as you do. And I’m not the guy making high level decisions which lead to the current state of the industry. The reason I had say on the games I mentioned was because I had inside knowledge from having worked on them (as well as others) when they were with a previous publisher.

    The best thing to do is vote with your dollar. The only reason CoD comes out every year is because it sells like crazy. But I get tired of people playing the “every game is a COD copy” card. Even just a casual glance at any publisher’s release schedule will show you that military themed FPS games generally make up somewhere around 10% of the titles. And the most actively played game in the world is LOL, a MOBA… About the furthest thing from CoD.

    I know it’s trendy to hate on Activision, but it’s silly to me. If anything, they’re a publisher who is always trying to push for innovation. Then, when they get it right, they give the fans as much of it as they can until the fans stop buying it. Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk, Skylanders and even COD are all successful attempts to push the gaming medium forward, regardless of whether they appeal to your own personal gaming tastes. And in the case of the first two, when gamers stopped being interested in the games, they stopped releasing yearly versions.

    And the fact is, any game that sells crazy amounts of units is good for the industry as a whole. Do you think the initial budget to develop something risky just comes out of thin air? If it weren’t for Madden money, who’d fund Mass Effect 2? No Gears of War means no Infinity Blade or Shadow Complex.

    It’s ok not to like certain games, just don’t play them. There are hundreds of other games coming out every year. Play some of those. It’s just like the movies. I hate musicals, so I don’t go see them. I’m glad they’re out there for those who like them and I’m not about to damn a major movie studio if they happen to release the most popular musical and give it a sequel every year.

    I have worked on over 40 games at publishers of every size and I can tell you first hand that every publisher is staffed by people who love games and want to make the best games possible.

    Anyway, hope this didn’t come off as a crazy rant, but I hope I am making some sense.

  53. Weren’t we talking about BACK TO THE FUTURE?

  54. Dtroyt: Are you saying that Activision should be commended for the fact that when they stumble on a successful formula they are willing to wring every last drop of profit out of it until it’s a withered husk stripped of all creativity and artistic integrity? That probably makes the shareholders happy, but I’m not about to pat them on the back for it.

    Fred: Of course Franchise Fred would be on Activision’s side.

  55. Crustacean: I’m not saying that. I’m saying that they get a lot of hate directed toward them for doing what every single major corporation in the entertainment industry does and does out of the necessity to stay alive as a company. Film studios do the same thing by making so so sequels and spinoffs and cartoons and half-assed licensed games when they stumble on the successful formula of a BTTF or a Ghostbusters. I do think, however, that Activision should be commended for taking big risks with developers and that they aren’t merely stumbling across a formula. They had faith in a couple of guys who were developing peripherals out of a garage and that led to GH. They had faith in a couple guys who had a knack for accessible FPS and that led to COD. I honestly believe that Activision’s goal is to make great games while doing the things a corporation simply needs to do to survive at a AAA level.

    I hope you guys all still respect me, even if I am siding for The Man on this one. The Man pays my bills, that creates a shitload of good will.

  56. voting with your dollar is futile advice, I don’t buy any of the Call of Duties, does that make any damn difference whatsoever? no, they still sell like hotcakes

    and saying “if you don’t like them just don’t play them” is fair enough, except for the problem when the kind of games you don’t like suddenly become the majority of games that come out, what are you supposed to do then?

    the fundamental problem with video games today is simply greed, when publishers realized they could nickel and dime gamers with DLC and the like thanks to the internet and then started making yearly franchises that weren’t sports themed, the whole medium got knocked down a notch

  57. Dtroyt – no offense. but you think that’s risk taking? risk taking when it comes to video games is something like (to use this example again) SILENT HILL 2, not plastic guitars and FPSs

  58. The quality of video games are of a much higher standard today than when I was growing up.Both from a technical standpoint and gameplay-wise. Ever used a Commodore 64? The amount of crappy games with painfully long loading times for very little reward constituted 90% of the catalog. Not even the NES had that many good games. People seem to forget how many unplayable games with shitty controls that existed. With that in mind, I have a very hard time dissing a game company producing quality games (which COD are in my opinion) for being a so called “Evil Corporation”.In fact, I find it childishly simplistic.

  59. Griff- How are plastic guitars and FPSes not risk taking? Do you have any idea what it cost to produce a bunch of plastic guitars for a game in an unproven genre that cost the consumer a higher price of entry? And then to successfully manage that brand to make it the first video game series in history to cross the “over one billion dollars in sales” line? That is like going all in and getting dealt a Royal Straight Flush or something (tbh, I don’t know shit about poker so feel free to substitute a better hand if need be). And if you don’t think developing an FPS with a gigantic budget in a market completely saturated with similar titles, much less to do it annually and consistently receive strong reviews and even stronger sales, well I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Grif: SH2 is a great game from 2001. And there are still great games like that coming from major publishers. But 2001 also had a lot of shovelware. Any entertainment business tends to have more shitty releases than classics. Eventually, we tend to forget that for every SH2 that got released there were a shitload like Kabuki Warriors released the same year.

  60. Ok, I’ll bite. I loved the GUITAR HERO franchise, was sad they gave up on it. It seemed perfect to release an unlimited catalog of songs. What went wrong?

  61. Honestly, Fred, I’d love to talk to you about my speculations based on observation about why GH is currently no longer with us, but I suspect I shouldn’t on a comment section. I do believe, based on absolutely zero inside information or facts but simply on my instincts as a gamer, that we haven’t seen the last of the series and that the next gen of consoles (which, under the hood, offer much more than the superficial graphical improvements would allude to) will eventually see their version of the series.

  62. My impression was people stopped downloading/upgrading, like it was just a passing fad. You’re right, it’ll probably be back, although I’m not sure more realistic, complex instruments would make it more fun. I mean, I didn’t want to learn real guitar. I had fun with the fake color button one.

  63. GH WAS a passing fad, I mean let’s be honest here

    but anyway, at the end of the day CALL OF DUTY is just not my cup of tea and it saddens me that it’s the biggest series currently going, I mean doesn’t everyone wish that what they loved was what everyone else loved too? doesn’t Vern wish everyone loved Steven Seagal as much as he does and that Seagal was still making big budget theatrical releases instead of DTV ones?

    ok, full disclosure, primarily what I’m talking about is (big surprise here) Japanese games, things like JRPGs, survival horror games and quirky stuff like KATAMARI DAMACY, JRPGs are a niche within a niche now, survival horror is dead and what passes for quirky these days are usually hipster indie titles that are way less clever than they think they are (why do you think people flipped for DEADLY PREMONITION so much? bizarre Japanese games like that used to be a dime a dozen but now they’re so rare that DEADLY PREMONITION inspired a huge cult following)

    for whatever reason Japan never really fully adapted to the new generation and have all but disappeared from the gaming landscape with rare exceptions (do you have any idea why that is perhaps Dtroyt?), maybe they’ll have better luck in the next generation, I don’t know

  64. July 3rd marks the 30th anniversary of the first BACK TO THE FUTURE, and it would appear that Lexus has made a crack at a real hoverboard

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/06/24/lexus-hoverboard/29220305/

  65. We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy - Kindle edition by Caseen Gaines. Humor & Entertainment Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

    We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy - Kindle edition by Caseen Gaines. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy.

    This is a very good read. Goes a bit deeper into the production of the three films than even the DVD and Blu-ray releases did.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>