Monday, 7 June 2010

Reasons to love IMDB user ratings #1:

With a current rating of 3.6, Sex and the City 2 is currently level with Plan 9 from Outer Space, the film often voted the worst of all time (despite being ridiculously entertaining, even if it was unintentional). I would rather watch a million Plan 9's than Sex and the City 2, but its nice to see how the public rates this crap.

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Stephen Norrington: The only reason to pay attention to The Crow remake.

I've argued in the past that I'm not as anti-remakes as many critics tend to be but sometimes I look at one of Hollywood's latest reboots/reimaginings/regurgitations and I am completely baffled. The Crow, a rather good but not classic 1994 comic book adaptation starring the late Brandon Lee was perfectly good on its own. Yet now, just 16 years after it was originally released we're being treated to a completely pointless reboot of the franchise. Ordinarily I'd steer clear of a film like this and just pretend it never existed but something about it has taken my interest; the fact that Stephen Norrington is writing and directing it.

To most people that name is probably unfamiliar. To a group of die hard Alan Moore fans on the other hand, the name Stephen Norrington will probably fill them with an uncontrollable rage. Norrington after all, was the man that helmed the epically disastrous League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003 and was part of one of the most infamous actor-director conflicts in film history.

It was no secret that 'LXG' had a troubled production. You only have to look at the shoddy, incomplete-feeling final product to guess that all was not well throughout the film's shoot. It would be an understatement to say that Sean Connery, the film's star (and the only actor in the film with any box-office pull) was not a fan of Norrington's methods. They reportedly constantly came to blows over aspects of the film and when Norrington failed to attend the film's opening party, Connery famously suggested to reporters that they "check the local asylum" to find him.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was to be Connery's last live-action film before retirement; a retirement that he has refused to be tempted out of, even to return to the Indiana Jones franchise (extremely good judgement in retrospect). It was also, however, the last film that Norrington made; the director had such a disastrous experience during the film's shoot that he vowed never to direct a film again.

So it is upon finding that Norrington will direct The Crow remake that my interest in the film spiked. His return to directing is not completely out of the blue; Norrington has been attached to direct several films in recent years, including the Clash of the Titans remake and Freddy vs. Jason, before pulling out. It will be an interesting to see how a man who has been convinced to give directing another shot will do on his return though. Many sceptics will describe Norrington as a hack and point to LXG as an example of why he should never have returned in the first place. However, Norrington did direct Blade; once again not a classic, but a perfectly good comic book adaptation and it would be unfair to condemn someone for one bad film. It is only when a director has been consistently bad (the Uwe Bolls and Paul W.S. Andersons of this world) that we should begin to pass such judgements. I still believe The Crow is a terrible choice of film to make a comeback, but I'll still keep an eye on it. After all, everybody deserves a second chance.

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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

MGM's problems are bad news for film fans.

Just months after the announcement that Bond 23 was to be indefinitely delayed while MGM looks to be sold off we've received the highly disappointing news that Guillermo del Toro has been forced to drop out of directing The Hobbit films due to delays and uncertainty over production. Anyone that had seen del Toro's extremely atmospheric fantasy work on The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth and to a lesser extent the Hellboy franchise will realise what a big loss this is. Bar Peter Jackson himself del Toro really did seem the most perfect fit for The Hobbit; creative, unique and completely devoted to the source material. However, with work on the film now likely to take 6 years rather than 3, it was a commitment del Toro simply could not make.

Whilst its a sad loss to the film it is completely understandable that del Toro would drop out. The man has many future projects that he has had to delay or pass on due to The Hobbit films and simply couldn't afford to be waiting around with the uncertainty surrounding MGM. The sad fact is that MGM's financial problems have stopped two very lucrative and exciting franchises in their tracks. Bond films are more popular than ever, particular as we have the best Bond for decades. But with the ongoing delays one begins to wonder if we will even see Daniel Craig don the tuxedo again. Its a massive shame because, with the announcement of Sam Mendes as director, there were big reasons to look forward to a new Bond.

MGM has a proud history and the image of that roaring lion has become an iconic part of film history. The potential for the studio to go bankrupt is completely unthinkable but uncertainty remains. There doesn't seem to be a buyer in sight and debts are still crippling. One would have to assume that the Bond and Hobbit franchises would survive even if MGM didn't but any true film fan would be hoping to see these films in the not too distant future with that lion still roaring before the opening credits.

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