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Posts Tagged ‘Dean Devlin’

Real Genius

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

August 7th, 1985

REAL GENIUS is a Summer of 1985 movie that’s completely new to me. I’ve seen the cover and known for most of my life that it was a comedy starring a young Val Kilmer that certain people swore by, and that’s about it. So the whole tone and content was a surprise to me. I had no idea it was a college movie, or that it’s grounded in a little bit of serious world. It opens like a thriller, telling us about a CIA militarization-of-space initiative called the Crossbow Project, which is very similar to the Grazer One satellite in UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY. Using lasers, it could zero in on and assassinate people from space. But at this point it’s imcomplete, and they’re putting pressure on professor (and TV host) Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton, after playing a punchable prick in GHOSTBUSTERS, before playing one in DIE HARD) to push his team of young geniuses at the Pacific Technical University to crack that problem with the energy source so they can “have a working weapon by June.”

Another thing that surprised me is that Val Kilmer (TOP SECRET!)’s Chris Knight, the only character on the cover, is kind of the second lead. It wasn’t as shocking as learning that CADDYSHACK was about teenagers, but still, I wasn’t expecting it to center on 15-year old physics prodigy Mitch Taylor (Gabriel Jarret, “Boy at Funeral,” GOING APE!) who, while other whiz kids his age are staying home doing weird science with their horny friends, is personally recruited by Professor Hathaway to go to college and work on this project. He’s a genius, but very aware of how physically young and socially inexperienced he is, making this a very scary move. He’s heard legends of Chris, the only other person recruited to the team when he was a freshman, and can’t believe it when they turn out to be roommates. (read the rest of this shit…)

Godzilla (1998)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

“We got approached with GODZILLA, and Dean was really in favor. I said, ‘Are you crazy? Have you seen a Godzilla film? How does the monster look? They put a guy in there.'” –Roland Emmerich

May 20, 1998

Man, LOST IN SPACE was a terrible summer blockbuster, but I was kind of excited to take a look at it because I had skipped it at the time and there was 20 years of curiosity build-up. And there’s another one coming later in the summer that I despised at the time, but it ended up being influential and kickstarting an in-my-opinion-bad-but-oddly-fascinating filmography, so I’m looking forward to finding out how I’ll feel about it now.

GODZILLA has neither of those factors going for it. I thought it sucked then and it has not grown better or more interesting. Director Roland Emmerich (WHITE HOUSE DOWN) has gone on to make fairly successful (but widely mocked) FX movies, often in the disaster genre. The only significance to this one is that it deflated his premature ascension to blockbuster-A-list after the still-befuddling-to-me smash success of INDEPENDENCE DAY in 1996. TriStar Pictures managed to build up fevered anticipation with a series of teasers that kept the design of the monster a secret. I remember one used the scene where the fisherman runs down the dock as Godzilla’s spikes tear through it. The tagline “SIZE DOES MATTER” simultaneously promised thrilling spectacle and giggled “ha ha, you get it, because of penises.”

I was skeptical on account of my belief in the auteur theory. I was one of the rare wet blankets who hated ID4 (which stands for “Independence Day takes place partly on July 4th”) and as much as I wanted to see a cool modern Godzilla movie I didn’t think this guy had the skills to do it. On May 20th most of the world ended up agreeing with me. (read the rest of this shit…)

Independence Day: Resurgence

Monday, July 11th, 2016

tn_idra.k.a. ID4-2:RSRG1of3

In case you skipped my INDEPENDENCE DAY review last week: For me, a connoisseur of the summer blockbuster, its release twenty years ago was a dark time. It was one of the earliest cases of the widespread “It’s not supposed to be Shakespeare!” defense in the internet age, and one of the first times I felt wildly out of step with the popular opinion on a movie like that. I already thought JURASSIC PARK was no JAWS but here people were forgetting that a blockbuster movie of that quality had come out just a few summers earlier. Apparently these expensive studio sci-fi romps could only be idiotic and painfully unfunny and if I couldn’t jump up and down hooting and hollering about any dumb bullshit that they decided to put on screens then I was the asshole.

20 years later I’m softer on it. I still think it sucks, but it’s a funny sucks. And I’ve been able to laugh through other equally terrible (though never as societally elevated) Roland Emmerich pictures including 2012. As long as we’re talking about him as a back-up Rob Cohen, not what we have now instead of James Cameron or George Lucas, I can appreciate him. (read the rest of this shit…)

Independence Day

Thursday, July 7th, 2016
President Whitmore (right) confers with the Chief of Staff's ex-husband's dad
President Whitmore (right) confers with the Chief of Staff’s ex-husband’s dad

summer2016originsWhen Roland Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE landed (get it, like a space ship [although I guess technically these ones never land, so forget it, I retract that pun]) in theaters 20 years after the first one was a smash hit in the summer of ’96, people were asking if the first one held up. Trick question! It was never good. If there’s any way it’s a classic it’s as a classic example of a summer blockbuster that’s a huge hit, but unworthy to join RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, TERMINATOR 2, etc. in the pantheon.

Let me put it this way: It’s a movie made by people who thought five syllables was too unwieldy for a title, but two was too small, and therefore it should be referred to by the half-sensical abbreviation “ID4.” That’s not normal people thinking. That’s pure Emmerich. And I think it’s fair to say that only Emmerich (with his then writing/producing partner Dean Devlin, an actor from MOON 44) could’ve, or at least would’ve, made this movie. (read the rest of this shit…)