10/28/16 Movie News Roundup: Indiana Jones, Marvel gender equality, Pixar dates, Star Trek, and Sherlock Holmes

Since I seem to have less and less time to work on the blog these days, I thought I’d try something new this week. I’ve collected some of the major movie (and TV) news stories this week that caught my eye and written up my instant reactions. This allows me to have something to post on the blog but without requiring me to sit down for an hour (or two or three or ten) at a time to write them. I’m going to be working on some new ways to get content out quicker here on the blog in a way that fits into my work/life balance a little better, even if it means going against my instincts and posting shorter, less in-depth articles. Keep an eye peeled for more in the coming weeks, provided I don’t fall farther off the face of the earth in the meantime. Thanks for reading!

George Lucas not involved with writing of Indiana Jones 5

And there was much rejoicing… except from me. I know most people will be thrilled if George Lucas is kept far away from everything, particularly Indiana Jones. The response to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was… rough, let’s say, and it’s sure to be a relief that he won’t be involved with the story side of the next Indiana Jones movie (he’ll still be an executive producer). But it makes me sad. I loved Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and I’ve repeatedly defended the Star Wars prequels. Is Lucas a fantastic writer? No, of course not. He’s crafted some truly clunky dialogue and some annoying characters. But he is a superb storyteller. The problem for many is that he has no interest in tailoring his stories to meet audience expectations. He makes the stories he wants to make, and doesn’t care if people would rather see something else. I think that’s admirable even if it does upset fans and isn’t exactly the most profitable way to make movies. I can’t blame anyone for preferring The Force Awakens to the prequels, as The Force Awakens was the biggest helping of fan-service ever dished out by a major studio, but I’d rather see the story the creator originally intended. Regardless, I’m still excited for more Indiana Jones, especially since Spielberg is still involved, and if this helps more people to be as well then so be it. I’ve just heard enough George Lucas bashing to last a lifetime, and every new story just seems like an excuse for more.

Marvel Addressing Gender Inequality

Apparently, Marvel Studios is attempting to create a more gender equal work environment. Victoria Alonso, the VP of physical production for Marvel, said that things “should be 50/50” when it comes to making movies. I love this, and I desperately hope it’s true. Marvel is a major powerhouse in the movie industry right now, and if they make a strong effort to have a gender balanced workplace, particularly at the top, then their continued success would hopefully inspire other studios to follow suit. There’s always the possibility that this is just lip service (the remarks were delivered at a Women in Technology event), but I really want Marvel to follow through on this. Imagine Marvel Universe were half of the films are written, produced, and directed by women! So far, the MCU TV shows have been far more gender balanced both onscreen and behind the scenes than the films are, and diversity is always a good thing. Now if only they can be convinced to be as proactive about racial diversity and LGBTQ inclusion.

Shaun the Sheep 2

Shaun the Sheep was one of my favorite films last year, even though I never actually got around to reviewing it. I’ve been a fan of Aardman forever, since the first time I saw a Wallace and Gromit short, and Shaun the Sheep fit right into their catalog of films. It was so refreshing, almost a silent movie, both hilarious and sweet and old-fashioned. It was the sort of movie that works perfectly for all ages, and I wish more movies would be willing to take a risk and slow things down to let the filmmaking breathe. So I’ll be first in line for Shaun the Sheep 2, whenever they get around to releasing it. Hopefully by then our first child (due next year) will be old enough to watch it!

Pixar date switch

In interesting news this week, Pixar switched the release dates of two of their future films, bringing The Incredibles 2 forward a year and delaying Toy Story 4 by a year. Of the two, I’m definitely more excited about The Incredibles 2, so I’m happy we’re getting it sooner. I just can’t seem to muster up much enthusiasm for Toy Story 4, as much as I’ve loved the previous three. I just feel like Woody and Buzz’s story has been told and finished at this point and there’s not much to be gained by returning to the toys’ world. I’m confident that it’ll be very good, especially with Lasseter at the helm once again (even if the last movie he directed was Cars 2), but I just don’t feel the pull from it that I do from another Incredibles movie. The Incredibles seems perfectly situated for a sequel, especially in our current age of wall-to-wall superhero movies. Hopefully Brad Bird and company can deconstruct some of the more modern tropes of the superhero genre in the sequel, all while giving us more insight into the Parr family. However, of all of Pixar’s upcoming films I’m most excited for next year’s Coco, and the fact that supposedly no further sequels are in planning beyond those announced. I loved Finding Dory more than I can say, but I’d still rather have original films over sequels.

Bryan Fuller stepping back from Star Trek: Discovery

The last year’s worth of press for Star Trek: Discovery has been quite the mixed bag. In the positive column has been the news that it will be set in the Prime universe, will feature openly gay cast members and a female lead, and that Star Trek vet Bryan Fuller is in charge. On the other hand the show will only air on the CBS All Access streaming service, will be a prequel series (we’ve tried that before), will be heavily serialized, and “more adult” than previous Trek. Add in the fact that the release date has been a moving target and that production is supposed to start next month despite no cast having been announced and things seemed to be off to a rough start. Well new this week it was announced that Fuller would be stepping back from his showrunner role due to his inability to make sufficient progress for CBS thanks to having too much on his plate. All-in-all, I’d be shocked if Discovery is ready to go in March at this point. I’m still intrigued by what I’ve heard so far, even if the teased ship design for the show was underwhelming, and I’m excited about the promise of having more Prime universe Trek to watch. On the other hand, I hate the idea of subscribing to CBS All Access just for this, and it doesn’t sound like the show has its act together yet. I’m worried that it’ll be either a rushed job or we’ll end up with a show without vision or a rudder.

Sherlock Holmes 3

Warner Bros. has assembled a team of writers to work on a third entry in the Sherlock Holmes series featuring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. I’m ambivalent about this. I’ve enjoyed the series thus far, though the first film was much better than the second, but I don’t feel any pressing need for another. I find Downey and Law entertaining in their roles, and I enjoy the atmosphere of the films (particularly the music), but they’ve been far too action-heavy for my tastes when it comes to Holmes. I’ve read a lot of Doyle, and these movies aren’t anything close to the original stories in terms of style or content. I’m ok with a reinvention, but to make them so action oriented is to miss out on what made Holmes so special. So while I’m sure I’ll eventually see Sherlock Holmes 3, I’m not particularly excited about it. On the other hand, if it means Guy Ritchie will have to drop out of directing a remake of Aladdin for Disney then I’m 100% in favor of more Sherlock. What a bizarre and off-putting choice of Ritchie for Aladdin.

What do you think? Do you have any opinions on the week’s entertainment news? What stories stood out the most to you? What big scoop did I miss? Did any of the reports change your enthusiasm level for upcoming films? Is Star Trek: Discovery doomed to fizzle out with a whimper? Of the many sequels in the news this week which are you looking forward to the most? The least? Will other studios follow Marvel’s lead on gender equality? Should I continue to do these news roundups in the future? What will be the big news next week? Let me know in the comments!

My Top 12 (and Bottom 3) at the Movies in 2015

We’ve almost reached the end of 2015, and it was a big year for movies. It’s been a year of long-awaited sequels, broken box office records, and some really fantastic movies. There was a lot to love from the movies in 2015, and a few things that weren’t quite so good, so here are my favorite and least favorite things from the world of cinema this year. I generally don’t do a “top 10 films” list, because I don’t get a chance to see everything, and many of the so-called “Oscar bait” films don’t get wide releases until after the year is over. Of course, the best part of 2015 at the movies was getting to interact with so many great people here on the blog, and on Twitter and Tumblr, but I lack the words to properly express my grattitude for you taking the time to read what I write, comment, and discuss movies with me. So instead I present my favorite (and least favorite) movie-related items from the year, comprised of films, characters, scenes, events, themes, and trends from 2015. And let’s hope 2016 is even better!

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The Force Awakens, George Lucas, and one blogger’s Star Wars-induced writer’s block

My blogging has slowed down over the past six months or so, and I think Star Wars: The Force Awakens is to blame. It’s like I have a mental block that’s been in place since around the time the 2nd teaser trailer was released (you know, the one with Han saying “Chewie, we’re home”). I used to feature a weekly trailer analysis, but I haven’t done one since the first trailer was released. I haven’t written nearly as many analyses of movies as I would have liked, my Friday Favorites feature has ground to a halt, and in all honesty I even have trouble getting regular movie reviews and TV recaps done. It’s not as if I’ve run out of things to say, and I desperately love writing about movies, but Star Wars is blocking me at every turn. Every time I sit down to write something, I feel like I should be writing about Star Wars and yet I’ve been avoiding discussing my favorite film series any more than I must. But even beyond that, The Force Awakens has almost (but not quite) diminished my ability to enjoy the world of film in the first place. So in an effort to clear my mind of this block, I’ve got to just put my thoughts about the current state of Star Wars before my brain explodes.

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Star Wars Prequels: A Good Foundation for the New Trilogy

I’ve never had a spot on the anti-Star Wars prequels bandwagon.  When The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, I was 14 and a huge Star Wars fan.  I was too young at the time to go to a midnight showing, so I had to wait all day to see the film that evening, and I could not sit still.  By the time the 20th Century Fox fanfare started playing, I was in tears, and stayed that way through most of the film.  I remember everyone in the theater enjoying it immensely, laughing and cheering throughout, and I saw it again two days later.  Needless to say, I’m a Star Wars fanboy, and while my 28 viewings of the Star Wars saga films in the theater are not anything close to a record, it’s safe to say that I was in no way disappointed by the prequels.

With the announcement that Disney and Lucasfilm will be making (at minimum) Episodes VII-IX, many people have found themselves revisiting that last Star Wars films that were released, giving the internet new justification for one of its favorite pastimes: prequel bashing.  Many of these have been presented as “Lessons J.J. Abrams Can Learn from the Prequels” containing a list of grievances against the film.  IGN recently featured an article of this type, and I want to address some of its complaints.  I’m going to do my best to set aside my fanboyism because I truly feel that Episodes I-III are great films, and have been unfairly maligned in the last 14 years.
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