Solo: Learning the Wrong Lessons!

 

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There’s a quote from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Once again you’ve put your keen and penetrating mind to the task and as usual come to the wrong conclusion!” said by Sirius Black to Severus Snape.  The quote is one of my favorites, and I cannot think of a place where it seems to apply more than Hollywood.

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If you somehow break through and make a movie about a woman who makes falls in love with a water balloon, the lesson that Hollywood would take from that is “water balloons are sexy” and you’d see some crazy slate of movies in which water balloons have sex with hot women, and drive fast cars, and airplanes, and stuff.  (Sorry about all the water balloons but I’m sitting next to a bag full of balloons, so it was the weirdest thing in eye shot.)CC061DFE-2E9C-46D1-9B5F-B81599E0CFA5We’ve seen Hollywood learn the wrong lesson from successes too many times to count, (i.e. all of the Jaws sequels, and Piranha movies and so many others).  But we also see them learn the lesson from failures.  This can be really upsetting to me personally, because it often means something is abandoned early due to the wrong reasons, and who likes their movie franchises ended early?

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The latest victim of this problem, seems to be Star Wars.  I wrote about Solo a few weeks ago, but let me catch you up.  The film seemed like a bad idea, but it was a good movie.  So now, almost a month after it’s release Disney and Lucasfilm have announced that they’re reconsidering Star Wars spin-offs due to its failure.

So let’s talk about its failure, and yes it seems it is undeniably a financial failure (although the budget hasn’t been released so it’s difficult to tell exactly).  First of all, you released 3 Star Wars 3 Decembers in a row, and they were all very successful.  Is that because the films were excellent?  I’ve liked them all, but there is a fair amount of debate on the quality of each.  A huge reason for their success was the fact that December doesn’t have much for general audiences, it’s prestige film season, which leaves the “blockbuster” crowd open.  That cannot be underestimated as a factor in their success.  Solo however, came out just 6 months after TLJ in May.  May was the traditional time for Star Wars in the previous 2 trilogies, but May’s were not as packed with action films in those years, and movies had multiple weeks (in some cases months) to rule the box office.  This year we had Avengers: Infinity War (also a Disney film, which should be a double no-no for packing them in the same 30-day period) which was the biggest film of the year (and has the potential to be the top of the decade) was released a month before, then Deadpool was released a week before, and just three weeks after Solo, came the Incredibles (again Disney, wtf were you thinking?  Spread it out more).

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So that’s the first problem, Disney put Solo out with the biggest films of the year, and even by Star Wars standards it shouldn’t have.  It’s far from the largest story, or the biggest impact in that universe.  The second problem is confidence.

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Solo suffered from a few pieces of confidence undercutting.  After the fact that many of us didn’t think the idea was a good idea, there were the production ‘issues,’ with Lord and Miller getting fired mid-production, Ron Howard having to take over and needing to reshoot (which involved recasting at least one role), and then lastly there was the rumors of Alden Ehrenreich needing and acting coach.  None of these would add up to confidence boosting, then we didn’t see a trailer until February which seemed very late in the game for a film of this size.  And lastly, TLJ, it’s a pretty split popularity, but when 50% of the audience thinks the film was a crap-fest, and think Disney has ‘ruined Star Wars,’ six months may not be enough time to cleanse their palettes.

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Let me offer an example of a time when the correct lesson was learned, and how it may benefit you to follow in those footsteps.  On November 23rd 1963, the BBC aired the pilot of Doctor Who, and it did really poorly in the ratings that night.  The executive in charge was on the side of canceling the show after the first episode, because obviously the whole thing was going to be a flop, but the creator was opposed to that.  She argued that the show had suffered from the whole world being consumed by JFK’s assassination the day before, and that if they reaired the pilot a week later, that would be a more realistic example of how the show would do.  She was right, and the show continued for 26 years before being canceled (and then rebooted, and now having 50 years, 3 movies, and 36 seasons altogether).  They realized that timing had been off.  Releasing Solo in the midst of the superhero frenzy was bad timing, don’t blame Solo for that.

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So I ask you this question, given all of those things could Solo have succeeded? Even modestly?  I don’t think it really could have.  But Disney is looking the box office and acting as if that means the movie is a piece of shit, which it wasn’t.  Please Disney, learn the right lesson. I get that you don’t want this to happen again, but if you learn the wrong lesson it likely will.  Please, I love Star Wars too much for it to become the DCEU (with all the second guessing and undercutting and ultimately not learning the right thing)…  I’m begging you.

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Written by Michael Cole

PODCAST: The Incredibles 2 Review! (SPOILERS)

Hey Everybody,

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This Episode Of The World’s Best Podcast has been available for a few days to all of our listeners, but I hadn’t had an opportunity to post it on the site yet. So thank you for your patience! This was a really fun episode that I recorded with Ryan McDonald. We do a full spoiler review of The Incredibles 2, we talk about Shymalan’s Unbreakable Universe and the upcoming movie, Glass, we discuss Jordan Peele’s desire to make a film adaptation of the Gargoyles animated series (a personal favorite TV show of mine), & much more! Listen here at the link below or on The Boston Podcast Network ( pod617.com ), and subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:

Spreaker:
https://www.spreaker.com/episode/15054448

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2&i=1000413848893

The Boston Podcast Network: (BUT!!! The new episode may not be up yet on Pod617, But SOON!)
http://pod617.com/worlds-best-podcast/

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Thanks for listening!

-Paul

TRAILER & POSTERS: The Incredibles 2

Hey everybody,

   It’s Paul here and I’m very excited to write this article today.  For years, there were 3 classic movies that I absolutely loved which were in desperate need of sequels. The problem was, for many different reasons, that it seemed like these dream film sequels would never grace our movie theatre screens. Over the years, it seemed more and more unlikely I’d ever get to see follow ups to these amazing films, all I could do was dream about what might have been… Those 3 movies were: Big Trouble In Little China, Unbreakable, and The Incredibles.

   Now I’m extremely pleased to say TWO of those 3 films will have sequels hitting theaters in the next 12 months! Sadly, it’s extremely unlikely we’ll ever get to a John Carpenter and Kurt Russell sequel Big Trouble In Little China. But last year we got Split directed by M. Night Shyamalan, which was a quasi-secret-sequel to his underrated masterpiece Unbreakable.  Next year we’ll be lucky enough to get a full blown, traditional sequel to Unbreakable that builds off the events of both Unbreakable and Split, called Glass (Like Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass, who’s returning as the character for this upcoming movie).

     Finally, at long last, this summer sees the premiere of The Incredibles 2! Goddamn, it looks fantastic! Sure, we had a teaser. But this is the first trailer that gives us any kind of indication of where the story’s going. It looks like it’s picking up right where the last film left off. I hate puns, but dammit it looks… INCREDIBLE! The character animation is better than ever and I’m so happy to see The Parr Family and Frozone back in action.  Check out the trailer right here and below I’ve posted some great teaser posters for the movie. Enjoy!:

Looks like a blast, right?  To be honest I was a little worried about the idea that almost no time will be passing between the films. But I must say after seeing that trailer, my doubts have been put to rest. Brad Bird is a fantastic director and it’s so good to hear that Michael Giacchino score again.

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The Incredibles 2 hits theatres on 6/15/2018

As always, thanks for reading!

-Paul

What I Want to Happen: Pixar

 

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I’m a big fan of Pixar’s films.  When Toy Story came out, I was 11 years-old, and I’ve kind of grown up with them.  What’s been nice, about growing up with Pixar, is that they had such an amazing record (still have a good record).  After Toy Story came A Bug’s Life, and Toy Story 2, neither of which was as deep as Toy Story, but certainly weren’t vapid either.  After Monster’s Inc., and Finding Nemo was The Incredibles, and it lived up to the name.  I was twenty years old, and watching Pixar do the unofficial version of Fantastic Four that we have still yet to get, but totally deserve.

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After The Incredibles, we got Cars.  Now, Cars is an article all in itself, but to try to quickly summarize what I have to say about Cars is: I personally think it’s the weakest Pixar original (it’s a total knock off of Doc Hollywood) which pains me, because George Carlin is one of my favorite comedians/celebrities of all time and he voiced Fillmore; it is the pivot point film between a Disney/Pixar partnership, and Disney owning Pixar, and was used as part of the negotiations; and so while I think it’s the weakest, in a lot of ways I still think it’s better than a lot of other films, and it’s important.

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After the pivot of Cars, a reinvigorated Pixar went into what I think was their renaissance creating Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 (the latter 2 were nominated for Best Picture Oscars, the former each getting Best Screenplay nominations).  These 4 films, should definitely be mentioned when discussing the best animated films of all time.

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Then after the renaissance came the other shoe.  Part of Pixar’s agreement with Disney, was that they would create sequels to their most successful box-office films.  After Toy Story 3, we got Cars 2.  Now personally, I think Cars 2 is better than most will give it credit for, but it is certainly a departure from the depth of the four preceding films.  We’ve since got Brave (an attempt at a deep dive which falls a little flat), Monster’s University (a serviceable prequel), Inside Out (the only foray into greatness since TS3), The Good Dinosaur (akin to the A Bug’s Life, in it’s fine but doesn’t match the glory of the prior film), then Finding Dory (again, it’s a serviceable sequel, but nothing special) and Cars 3 (I haven’t seen it yet).

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The reason that I wanted to do this article, is that in couple of weeks Pixar is going to release their next film, which will be an original, entitled Coco.  I really hope Coco is good, but I’m worried, because it looks like Pixar’s amalgamation of two recent animated films Kubo and the Two Strings mixed with The Book of Life.  Now, I’m sure it is not a knock-off of those two films, but I hope it’s dissimilar enough.  I want to see them really be creative and deep again, and this may have the potential, but I’m nervous.  The film’s done though, so I want to talk about the future past Coco.

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Pixar has five films they’re currently working on, but only 2 have been officially announced; The Incredibles 2, and Toy Story 4.  Personally, I don’t want too many sequels from Pixar, since their strength has really been in originals, the exception of course being the Toy Story films, so while I thought TS3 wrapped things up nicely, I’m keeping a very open mind on this.  As for the Incredibles 2, the original warranted a sequel more than any other Pixar original, and the first came at the beginning of the superhero era in film, so to check in with the family now with how the genre has changed is exciting.

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But ultimately, I want more originals.  One of the things that really has been great about the Pixar films that have been amazing were 2 things, originality, and character connection.  I think people have misread the formula, I think they see Toy Story and think “kids like toys, lets make a movie about toys” or “kids like animals and adventure, let’s make a movie about animals and adventure (Up),” but the reason why we really fell in love with those movies is that Woody learns that he has to share Andy’s love, or that Ellie got to live the adventure she always wanted, and Carl finally did too.  (BTW, I’m tearing up just thinking about Carl and Ellie, can you say that about any other 5 minute relationship in film history?)

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If Coco for all of it’s “Dia de Muerta” makeup, which totally does look cool, doesn’t have some strong clinching emotional connection, it’s going to fall flat.  That’s what I want to see, I want them to be the master manipulators that we all know they can be, and tug on our heartstrings.  This is less likely to happen in sequels, because it seems to be something forged in the examination of new characters, although each Toy Story movie so far has managed it, that’s because each time the relationship with Andy, the Buzz and Woody relationship, and the relationship with their purpose in life altered to examine it.  I hope the 4th manages to continue this, I hope that The Incredibles turns from Bob’s insecurity about domestic life, and how he loves his wife and kids, to him now knowing who he is again, being able to guide them more. I guess don’t have a clue what direction I want the Incredibles to head in, but I don’t want rehashing of the same basic emotional connections the way that I think some of their lesser sequels have.

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Ultimately, I suppose the sequels aren’t going to stop, but let’s take ratio which seems to be a little more than half of the recent movies have been sequels, and flip it.  Do sequels that are organic, but not necessarily just because they sell well.  Pixar currently has an amazing legacy in the making, and I think there is a lot of promise assuming they make some adjustments.  Look at their parent company Disney’s legacy.  Disney, love them or hate them, has had an incredible run for 80+ years, and although there have been some lulls, ultimately they’re doing great.  But one thing they do, they have places to put their lesser sequels.  Sure, they’ll make the Cinderella 10: Back In The Saddle, but it’s straight to video.  This is the way to make cash-grab movies, and not tarnish your legacy.

Lastly, I want to say, I’m going to continue to see every Pixar film until they have thoroughly defeated my spirit, and I don’t think they’re even close yet.  Their worst film is still better than most, I just want to see them return to being better than EVERYONE.

Written by Michael Cole