If they were in television… Michael Bay

Notable Films: The Rock, The Island, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Transformers series. 

Famous for: Explosions, great action sequences, narrative incoherence, military propaganda, the decline of mainstream American cinema, shooting women like he is filming porn.

Hypothetical title: The Colony

Hypothetical premise: Focuses on the first station in space to host private citizens from Earth.  It starts off peacefully enough, but soon enough the mixed cultures start feuding, and in order to keep order, the station’s AI turns on them and begins killing anyone who starts a fight.  This doesn’t sit well with the nearby military installation, who begin planning to rescue everyone with the latest military technology.  The series rotates between a couple brave American soldiers and a witless but charming protagonist on the colony, his shallow love interest, and over-bearing but comical parents.

Cross between: The Island, The Rock, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Wall-E, and Transformers.

Likely to bring: Some Bay regulars are Ben Affleck and Shia LaBeouf, so why not cast them in the two lead roles?  You can place pretty much any attractive super model in the love interest role, but why not take an exceptional actress like Scarlett Johansson and drain her of life?  For the parents, why not add in Patricia Clarkson (she’s a mom in everything now) and John Turturro. 

Likeliness of this happening: 4/10.  Bay couldn’t make enough money in television and explosions don’t look nearly as good on a small screen.

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Summer Box Office Predictions 2011

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Release date: June 29

Plot summary: The Autobots are back in action after discovering a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon. They find themselves racing with the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets in order to ultimately save the human race in some form.

Why it will rule: The first Transformers movie was a $320 million hit and the second skyrocketed to a $410 million hit. Both of those movies were without the third dimension however, which is likely to add somewhere near an additional 25% to box office receipts. Dark of the Moon will enjoy a few of the finer luxuries summer has to offer: an IMAX slot and the Fourth of July weekend it usually dons. Director Michael Bay promises to not necessarily make the third film bigger than Revenge of the Fallen, but darker and more emotional, getting into the mythos and character development, something Nolan has faired well from at the box office.

Why it will fail: Michael Bay has never made a dark, emotional movie with character development in his career. Audiences saw what a car wreck Revenge of the Fallen was and it was panned by every known critic. Given what information is known about the plot and teaser, we have no reason to believe Dark of the Moon will be any different from the first two, except that it will be sans Megan Fox, the eye candy that seemed to bring in salivating young males by the droves. Another critical disaster and story-less film may not be a box office pounding for Bay, but it also isn’t going to be the same out of the world hit unless the trailer is another Linkin Park jammed visual trip.

Estimated box office: $120 million OW / $385 million domestic

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

Release date: July 15

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Where have all the landmarks gone?

It’s interesting to think about which movies will be remembered as classics 20-30 years down the road.  Interesting, and also depressing.  Stop and think.  Is there one film made during the modern movie age that will resonate throughout pop culture like a Godfather or a Star Wars? There are no more Godfathers, mostly because the Mafioso in the modern studio system don’t believe in them anymore.

Movies mirror the culture they’re released into.  It’s no coincidence that the biggest movies now are sloppily constructed rehashes used to make a quick buck.  See also: the housing crisis.  The most endearing movies of the old age are often blockbusters, but they’re also something more: risks that paid off.  George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola had to fight like hell to get their movies made, and struggled to keep them once they were financed.  In modern times, once you’re inside the system, there is no fighting.  You make the movie they tell you to, or else you pay for it yourself.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens (screenplay), J.R.R Tolkien (novel)
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, and Andy Serkis

An epic by any standard and a finale to this behemoth of an undertaking, LOTR: Return of the King continues the evolution of Peter Jackson’s vision.  Bigger battles, higher stakes, and a conclusion drenched in emotion wrought the team behind this movie 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.   Does this make it the best one of the trilogy?  Not by a long shot.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call Return of the King a disappointment, it is the weakest film of the three.  Though it is still excellent in many ways, most notably the battle sequences, it is held back by Jackson’s refusal to end it.  It essentially has an ending for each Oscar it won, also putting it in contention for the longest denouement in film history.  One of the biggest strengths of the Lord of the Rings movies was Jackson’s willingness to skim it down and make it fit a movie.  The last 45 minutes of this one are almost painful even if it is shorter than in the book.

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