Friday, December 30, 2005

Captain Blasto Fan Club

Yes, it does exist. A couple of young guys who came to the Blasto premiere have been putting together a Blasto fan club site for a school project. Check it out at:

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Entertainment vs. Change

Is the final goal of a film to simply entertain you or to change you in some manner? Sure, some movies are for pure entertainment and don't hide it. Dumb and dumber isn't going to change you're outlook on the world. But with all the money, time, and effort that goes into making a feature film, don't filmmakers want to accomplish just a little more than entertain someone for an hour or so?

Look at King Kong. That film cost some 200 million, hundreds of people, and 3 years out of their lives to make. THREE YEARS!?! Is the end result just so you can say, "That was cool when Kong punched that dinosaur." If entertainment is the end result, don't waste the time. Sure the studio isn't in it for entertainment, they're in it for the billions they make in return. The key grip is in it for the pay check, he's just trying to make a living. But the director, he should have a higher goal.

The other night Kleiber said he likes to just be entertained by movies before he gets critical with them, and that's fine. But I asked him, with all the work and time he's had with Blasto, would he be happy if all it did was entertain everyone for those two hours? Would he be happy if they just walked away saying, "That was fun. Wanna go to Dave and Busters?" I know I wouldn't.

What's the alternative? Life change? Sure that'd be great, but I don't think a film is THAT powerful. To me a film accomplishes it's goal when it both entertains AND presents an emotional and unique perspective on life. A good film makes people laugh and engage the characters in some way. A great film causes a person to try and connect the pieces of the film with their own life. What if this happened in my life? Am I like that? Is my life like that? Think of your all time favorite movie. Does it in some small way connect to something deeper in you? Something you want? Something you feel?

Rocky I is a great film. It forces people to confront the concept of feeling unworthy, unloved, and unwanted. Rocky IV is entertainment. Neat characters, some okay action. But what are you confronted with? Well besides Rocky bringing an end to the cold war that is.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

King Kong

I may be the only human being to say this but: I was dissappointed with Peter Jackson's King Kong. Right now Kleiber is reading this somewhere going, "He is way too picky." Here's my explanations and if you haven't seen the movie, don't read this.

1) Expectations were built up.
It's Peter Jackson. He's delivered three PHENOMENAL movies. He's got millions of dollars and a collection of the most talented people in the world at his fingertips. To him that is given much, much will be expected.

On top of that several of my friends, Kleiber included, have seen it and remarked that it was incredible. That puts me in a different frame of mind going into the film. I didn't walk in going, can't wait to see a good movie. I walked in saying, what makes this movie so incredibly good that people are going bonkers over it? That's a more critical approach.

2) Characters did not change.
C'mon Pete that's Screenwriting 101. If a character is the same in the beginning of a film as they are at the end, what's the point of the story? Sure they suffered through a lot, but it didn't truly effect them. Anne and Kong are the exception to this and are BRILLIANT. But two characters out of the 15 or so is a pretty low ratio. Denham starts out as a backstabbing director willing to do anything or use anyone to get his film made. That's exactly who he remains when the credits roll. Driscoll starts out as a noble writer and ends up a noble writer (with a girl). I love that he is a mirror of Kong to Anne in the fact that no matter how awful it gets he is always chasing her, trying to protect her even if he can't or may die in the process. But that part was an undercurrent never really brought to the forefront.

If a situation doesn't have the power to change the people involved, the situation wasn't worthy enough to tell, or in this case, the characters haven't been developed enough. The biggest crime of these was Denham. He's used every single person he knows and they've been placed in great jeopardy as a result. He is neither ruined by this, nor does he learn from it.

And then there's Baxter, the hero of the film within the film. He's a great contrast to Driscoll initially. He looks heroic, plays the hero, but he's actually a coward. And Driscoll, who looks anything but heroic, turns out to be just that. But then Jackson does an odd thing. Just when you think Baxter is gone for good, he a hero? What's that we see....could it be change? But then he goes and ruins it by returning Baxter to a lying coward once again. It would have been much more powerful to fool the audience in the beginning into thinking that Baxter actually is courageous and heroic only to have him turn out to be a coward. That's great conflict bringing about change or revealing a character for who they truly are.

3) Less is more.
In the original film, Kong fights one T-Rex. It's a GREAT battle. A 15 minute wrestling match as the two wear each other down, ending in a gut wrenching shot of Kong slowly ripping the T-Rex's jaw apart. What does the the new film give us? Kung-fu Kong taking on 3 T-Rexes simulteaneously. That is not better or more powerful. It's a video game. After seeing Kong take on the 3 T-Rexes, why would we have any fear when it finally comes down to him vs. one. He just handled three, surely he can handle one.

4) One full hour too long.
I'm a big fan of LONG movies. Love to hear a movie is gonna hit the three hour mark. BUT, usually when a movie is going to attempt the epic time it typically holds my attention the entire time. Not so with Kong. It wasn't a few minutes too long. I don't suggest cutting out a half an hour or so. It was ONE FULL HOUR TOO LONG. There were roughly 3-4 too many scenes of Kong and Anne just staring lovingly at each other. Too much time spent in New York in the beginning. That is a ameteur screenwriting mistake. No need to fill up the first part of the movie with buckets and buckets of exposition. Give us enough that we know the character and then get us to that inciting incident. Get us on that boat and to Skull Island.

What did I like?
Kong's FX were pretty amazing. He looked like a real giant gorilla. That's quite an achievement. Naomi Watts did an incredible job as Ann. New York looked amazing. The dance the "natives" do at Kong's feet is a great tribute to the original '33 Kong.

Make sure you Netflix the original Kong. That there is cinema history.