411 Fact or Fiction Movies/TV 8.31.12: Week 346
Posted by Ben Piper on 08.31.2012
Are The Wachowskis a good choice to direct a Justice League movie? Should The Rocketeer be remade? Will Denzel Washington be a good fit to play The Equalizer? 411's Chad Webb and Joseph Lee debate these topics and more in this week's 411 Fact or Fiction: Movies!
August is almost gone, we're on the cusp of September, where does the time go? It seemed like just yesterday we were looking forward to the theatrical release of the Avengers, and then The Dark Knight Rises, and now we've got NFL football and a new fall TV season staring us in the face. Here to help make sense of it all is Chad Webb and Joseph Lee, and while they won't be talking about anything mentioned in this opening paragraph, I'm sure we'll all find it illuminating anyways…
1. The assembled cast and the subject matter has you interested in seeing Lawless.
Chad Webb: Fact. The cast alone would have me intrigued for this project. Tom Hardy has been pretty consistent lately if you discount This Means War, but you also have Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and Gary Oldman. If that's not a solid cast, I don't know what is. Maybe some would list Shia as a weak link, but I would disagree. He has always had talent, he just needs to work on what scripts he chooses. Apart from that, I love the premise of Depression-era bootleggers from Virginia outrunning the authorities. I've seen a few documentaries about that period in history and it's always fascinated me. There are countless juicy stories from this period that could entertain the masses. What I am looking forward to most about Lawless is that it is a new effort from director John Hillcoat, who has not made a bad movie to date in my eyes. The Proposition was fabulous and The Road was quite good even if it wasn't flawless. I think the plot falls right in line with his style and when you combine his gritty, confident approach with the power of the cast, this is a win-win.
Joseph Lee: Fiction: The cast does look good (minus Shia LeBeouf, who I've given up on), but I have absolutely no interest in that subject matter. I guess it depends on your own personal tastes but I just don't care about Virginian bootleggers. There's little else I can say because that's about the long and short of it. I just don't care enough about the plot to check this movie out in theaters. On DVD? Sure.
Score: 0 for 1
2. You'd love to see a remake of The Rocketeer.
Chad Webb: Fiction. I ask the same question with every remake/reboot/reimagining: "Why does it need to exist?" Sometimes the movie will answer this wonderfully, but the majority of the time, I'm left scratching my head as to why the remake needed to happen. Some people will remind me that the studio sees a built-in audience and an opportunity for a box office success. Money, I get it. But I'm not a studio executive so I need to be persuaded better. The Rocketeer was made in 1991, so over 20 years later darnit, we need to try this one again? I enjoyed The Rocketeer. It was a superhero movie cut from a different mold, capturing the feel of a B-movie serial with a fun cast (Bill Campbell, Timothy Dalton, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, etc.). Was it perfect? No, but how much could this really be improved? At the time of its release, CGI was just beginning to become a trend, so yes, if they remade this now, the effects would be better, but is that such a big deal? I say it's not. The recent Total Recall proved that superior effects do not a better movie make. And while I maintain that the best remakes are those whose originals left room for improvement, I don't see this becoming a masterpiece by today's standards. Also keep in mind, the 1991 film was a box office failure. Perhaps the studio feels moviegoers will be more welcoming to a project such as this now that graphic novel adaptations/superhero epics are all the rage, but again, I do not see this setting the box office on fire. I realize fans of this comic will tell me there are plenty more Rocketeer stories that could be told and that likely, the studio is looking for another franchise here, but I still say that this has been done well once, so we should move on.
Joseph Lee: Fact: A new movie about The Rocketeer needs to be made for the exact reasons that Chad dismissed. There are other stories to be told and the character hasn't had a film in twenty years. That seems a little unfair to fans of the property. I disagree that it wouldn't work in 2012, because I think that Captain America has shown us a superhero movie can be a period piece and still be incredibly entertaining. If a remake is what we have to endure to get the character back on the big screen, then I'm okay with that.
Score: 0 for 2
3. The Wachowskis would be a great choice to direct a Justice League movie.
Chad Webb: Fiction. I stand by "Fiction," but not for the reasons others would. I like the Wachowskis and think they are a fine directorial team and have proven that. Many will cite Speed Racer as evidence that the Wachowskis are horrible people who should never work in Hollywood again, but I disagree. That is not a movie I love by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel it is a victim of "overhate." But I digress. I say "Fiction" because I don't think anyone would be a great choice to direct Justice League. This project might rake in a lot money if it is eventually made, but in terms of quality I believe it will be a failure. I don't think it's a question of whether or not the Wachowskis can balance a large group of characters or employ CGI competently. They can handle those factors as well as anyone. For me, this is simply not the right time for this movie. Because The Avengers made so much and was critically acclaimed on top of that, now Warner Bros. feels compelled to blow their load prematurely. The Avengers worked not just because Joss Whedon was the proper director, but because the audience had time (and multiple flicks) to become invested in all the characters, appreciate their quirks, and accept the actors who portrayed them. With Justice League, unless Henry Cavill, Tom Welling, or dare I say it, Brandon Routh reprise their role as Superman, we will likely have an entirely new cast as these superheroes. Christian Bale won't be Batman, so some poor schmuck will have that task ahead of him, not to mention all the other DC personalities that have yet to be explored on the big screen, or in the case of Green Lantern, were better left unexplored. There are a lot of questionable elements that will be difficult to tackle. George Miller wanted to do this, but that collapsed and he's a good filmmaker. I say the cons against Justice League would be too much for anyone, but who knows, maybe I'll be proven wrong.
Joseph Lee: Fact: I've already said fact, so fanboys everywhere are ripping me a new one. But I think the Wachowskis have enough of a visual flair that a Justice League movie would look completely different than any other superhero and it could really be an event picture. The caveat here is that someone else write the script, as their recent films seem to lack in that department, particularly Speed Racer. A lot of people hate that film, but I think it was doomed to failure from the moment it was announced. Did you honestly expect a good movie from an anime as putrid as Speed Racer? Anyway, with a really good script and the visual style of the Wachowski team, Justice League could be good. I honestly don't think the fact that there would be a new Batman and possibly a new Superman should even matter. Unlike the Avengers, where characters like Thor and Iron Man aren't as well-known as Hulk or Captain America, you don't have to reintroduce these people. We KNOW who Superman is and we KNOW who Batman is. Green Lantern's had his own movie and Wonder Woman is still well-known.
Score: 0 for 3
4. The Possession will be a better than average horror movie.
Joseph Lee: Fact: It can't be as bad as The Devil Inside,at least. Ole Borendal directed the underrated Nightwatch, so there's a capable director. The cast includes Jeffrey Dean "John Winchester" Morgan, who can act rings around most people in Hollywood these days. The only thing that has me really concerned is the script, but I think the right cast and director should be enough to overcome the team of Juliet Snowden and Stiles White, who had made stupid, goofy films at worst (Boogeyman) and mediocre scripts (Knowing) at best. But I think it has a chance to be really good.
Chad Webb: Fiction. I'm nowhere near the same ballpark as Joseph in terms of liking horror, but even if I was, I can't see this being very good. And while this might not be as bad as the craptastic Devil Inside, I think The Possession would still have an uphill battle to be "better than average." My wife told me the true story of the events which inspired this and it was interesting. Afterwards, I immediately went to watch the trailer and was perplexed. For some reason, Hollywood can't resist going overboard with special effects, inserting all the obligatory clichés, and turning this into another "evil child" flick. Hitchcock always operated under the "less is more" approach, but that is becoming increasingly absent in this genre today. And I like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but I think he needs the right director to deliver a performance that is above average. I agree that the script will be an issue because it seems as if they've added all sorts of lame, recycled elements to the mix. I also agree that the director is underrated. Check out the film Joseph mentioned and Just Another Love Story. The Possession? I'd pass.
Score: 0 for 4
5. David Mamet rebooting the classic TV western Have Gun, Will Travel is something you would be interested in watching.
Joseph Lee: Fiction: This is going to be hard to answer, because I don't watch Westerns. I don't like most of them and I've never seen Have Gun, Will Travel. So because of that, I'll have to say fiction. No problems with Mamet or the material, I just don't have any interest.
Chad Webb: Fact. Joseph and I disagree on horror and westerns apparently. He'll want to book a fight with me in the octagon soon. Anyway, I love westerns and grew up on them with my father, so I'm familiar with the original series Have Gun, Will Travel and highly enjoyed what I saw. I won't pretend to have seen every episode, but Richard Boone was fabulous on it as Paladin. But David Mamet being the one to reboot the project intrigues me. He works sporadically and I've been a big fan of his for awhile, so I will definitely be watching. How much he contributes to each episode from a writing and directing standpoint remains to be seen, but Mamet knows dialogue, characters, and story structure just as well (if not better) than most. I haven't known him to be attached to the western genre in any form previously, but that only intrigues me more. Depending on who stars, I think this has the chance to be a solid reboot of any already great series. On a side note, at one point they wanted to reboot this as a film starring Eminem!
Score: 0 for 5
6. Denzel Washington is a perfect choice to play a big screen version of The Equalizer.
Joseph Lee: Fact: I guess? The Equalizer is another show I didn't watch. But Denzel's pretty good in whatever he's in, even if he seems bored with the material (like Safe House). I don't doubt the man's ability and so I think he could pull it off.
Chad Webb: Fact. Being a child of the 80's, I watched all sorts of shows similar to The Equalizer such as Remington Steele, Mike Hammer, The Rockford Files, and more. The Equalizer was a good series, not a great one, but a lot of fun and immensely watchable like most comparable shows from that decade. It starred a British actor named Edward Woodward as a former intelligence agent turned private detective. Whenever he spouted one-liners, it was cheesy yet awesome. The upcoming film will star Denzel Washington. On the surface Woodward and Washington don't have a lot in common, but they're both confident and filled with conviction, so I have no doubts Denzel will handle it nicely. I don't think fans of the series will be protesting and sending nasty letters because Denzel was picked and not someone British like Woodward. There have been other retired/rogue agent projects and this is not the type of role that calls for passionate faithfulness. These storylines are never that different from one another. Plus, I've learned that even if the film is weak, never question Denzel. He always delivers. Russell Crowe was once attached. He would have nailed it too. Either way I am looking forward to seeing it.
Final Score: 1 for 6
Bonus Question: What was your favorite Tony Scott directed film?
Joseph Lee: My favorite Tony Scott film is Enemy of the State. As ridiculous as that movie gets, that's part of the charm. I've always really enjoyed watching Gene Hackman and Will Smith in that film and think it gets a little underrated by the rest of the world. It's a solid thriller, and slightly understated compared to more outlandish movies that Scott directed like Deja Vu or yes, Top Gun.
Chad Webb: For me, its close between True Romance and Top Gun with the former edging the latter out by a hair. True Romance was an excellent thriller with a superb cast. Scott's energetic direction meshed with Quentin Tarantino's script beautifully. For my money, that is the best effort Tony Scott has ever given us. From top to bottom, just about everything clicks in place. Scott's best quality as a filmmaker is his knack for pacing, mixing action and suspense. The best of his resume reflects that. However, Top Gun never gets old. It's one of those movies I have to watch when I see it on TV. And I love Enemy of the State also. I think out of all of Scott's pictures, I have seen State and Days of Thunder the most.
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Yeesh. I was thisclose to pitching a no-hitter this week and then proceeded to throw it away with a weak ass final softball. Oh, well. Thanks to Chad and Joseph for stopping by, and see you all again next week!