“This is gonna take cracker jack timing, Wang”

I’ve been debating doing  a weekly (or bi-weekly) film review of films I love (or hate) or possibly films I’m seeing for the first time despite how long it has been out. Like a classic 1980’s flick that has flown under my radar or a small, indie film that came out 2014. I think it’d be fun. While I won’t have any great insight to a film (there are lots of folks who know film and pop culture way more than I) it would provide some interesting challenges to myself, such as:

  • Do I write a blog or shoot a video about it? Do I use this as an opportunity to work on my skills in that area?
  • Do I focus on just what I like or dislike about the film? Or do I give some history about  it?
  • What films should I consider? Should I take suggestions?
  • Do I keep this fairly private? Or open it up to the world, putting myself at risk for trolls?

All tough questions. But I do know this…I will do this in some form and I am going to try and have my first review posted by 2/17. And I already know what movie that’ll be…

Biggest Film Disappointments 2016

So a little over a week ago I posted about my top 10 films for last year. If only those had been the only releases in 2016. There were some major disappointments that not only t0ok advantage of my hard earned cash, but also wasted my time. There wasn’t a ton of agreement on my top 10, but I’m fairly certain this list will be very agreeable.

Note: Even if a film is on this list of disappointments, that does not mean I didn’t find it enjoyable or something in there to like. It just means my expectations were not met. 2

Star Trek Beyond – Dir. Justin Lin, Written by Simon Pegg, Doug Jeng

star-trek-beyond

Of all of the films on this list, this is the one I didn’t expect. As they were announcing the team behind this entry in to the Star Trek film universe, I was pretty happy. Simon Pegg as the screenwriter (love that guy) and Justin Lin as the director (who has produced some pretty enjoyable work.) JJ was still involved as a producer and Idris Elba was cast as well. Everything was looking aces…and then that first trailer dropped. It was like a punch in the gut as disappointment came crashing down on me. Even Pegg spoke out about how crappy of a trailer it was. Yet I still held out hope that it was just crappy marketing and was not an actual reflection of the film’s quality. Turns out the trailer was actually pretty accurate.

Don’t get me wrong, I that the crew of the Enterprise were more than fine. There were some fun action beats. I liked idea of pairing Bones and Spock together for a large chunk of the movie. But everything else just felt…rushed. Rushed as if it was a TV show having to make an episode every seven days. That impression was so strong that the first thing I said to my wife as we left the theater was “I would have enjoyed it so much more if that had been the conclusion of several episode arc on a Star Trek tv series.” Sometimes what was born on TV, should stay on TV.

Independence Day: Resurgence – Dir. by Roland Emmerich, Written by over 5 screenwriters

I was not surprised this one was a disappointment at all. I full anticipated that it wouldn’t be a “quality” movie (this was a Roland Emmerich movie after all) but I was surprised on how it wasn’t a “fun” movie. The first film in this franchise is no brains, all fun (I still get chill’s during Bill Pullman’s “Independence Day” speech.) This one was still all brains, but the film forgot to be fun too. I was promised a fun, spectacle from each trailer that dropped…that’s not what we got. Now, there is a kernel of an idea in this film that I actually really liked and would have enjoyed seeing explored in another movie, but I highly doubt we’ll get that chance.

Suicide Squad – Dir. by David Ayer, Written by David Ayer

Ok, so where to start on this one? The first glimpse we got of this film told us we were in for a ride. It made us feel this was going to inject some life and fun in to the DC cinematic universe. Harley Quinn finally coming in to live action? Jared Leto coming on board as Joker (riding the high of a recent Oscar win)? Will Smith playing the badass assassin Deadshot? David Ayer directing, who’s film End of the Watch blew me away? Sign me up! And when still’s started dropping I was feelin’em. I thought they were pretty creative while still being fairly close to the comics (I particularly loved how they a direct translation of Katana’s look.) While I had issue with the lack of clothing for Harley (not because I was offended, but because I felt it could undermine the character) I was still on board. And then…the Joker picture. Oh man. That picture. It was at that point I felt the movie was in trouble. I know Leto wanted to go a new direction, away from previous incarnations, but there is something to be said with those other versions; they all worked. They all captured the core of what the Joker is. Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger (I’m also going to include Mark Hamill) provided a different shade to the same character.

But Leto decided to go “F*** that” and do whatever he wanted. His interpretation of the character had little to nothing to do with the Joker of the comics; it was like a meth addict who was trying really hard to be a crime kingpin who was always going to a Halloween party who threw temp tantrums like a 12 year old who kept losing at Call of Duty. Needless to say, he ruined the whole experience for me. And I haven’t even begun on the crappy editing, story structure problems, tone issues, horrible antagonist choice, logic questions, etc. But I don’t have the time. Just know this: This movie has a crap ton of problems.

X:Men: Apocalypse – Dir. by Bryan Singer, Written by Simon Kinberg

This one hurt. After the amazing X-Men: Days of Future Past (which was tightly directed, written, and edited) I was riding high on my love for X-Men. With this film and Deadpool as well, 2016 was looking to be a banner year for the X-Men cinematic universe. And the trailers and promotional materials had  a few bumps (the purple Apocalypse controversy), but still managed to muster up excitement. I was so ready to declare this the best X-Men movie yet (as well as the most accurate in regards to looks; yay for comic accurate costumes!) but that isn’t what happened at all. The film lacked a soul; it was lifeless and paint by numbers. It was almost as if Bryan Singer and Co. didn’t really care about what they were making; they just wanted to meet a deadline. Oscar Isaac was wasted as the Apocalypse and the movie spent way too much time retreading old ground with the main trio (Lawrence, Fassbender, and McVoy.) It offered nothing we hadn’t seen before in this film universe and at about the halfway point I was begging for the movie to end. It was, for a lack of a better term, just plain boring.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Dir. by Zack Snyder, Written by Chris Terrio and David Goyer

If there was any movie on this list that HAD to deliver, it was this one. Announced to much hype at SDCC several years ago, this film was being portrayed as the epic of all epics in regards to comic book movies. Batman AND Superman in a film together for the first time? Loosely based on The Dark Knight Returns? This has the makings of something great! I was willing to give Snyder some leeway since A) I actually enjoyed MoS and his other big comic book film Watchmen and B) He has talent based upon his reimagining of Dawn of the Dead. And I was on board with the casting; Affleck as the Batman, Gil Gadot as Wonder Woman, and even Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.

But then when the day came upon us for the world to witness BvSDoJ…we saw the mess that it was. YUUUUGGGGEEE plot holes, a unsympathetic Supes, a murderous Batman, and the worst conflict resolution ever conceived (“MMMMMAAAARRRRTTTTHHHHHAAA!!!!!!”) Once the third act was upon us, I didn’t give a crap about any of the characters. Every single one of them had infuriated me beyond forgiveness and I just wanted it to be over. DC had taken characters I grew up loving and made me almost despise all of them. So screw you DC, thanks for that.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

 

“Dead Hearts” shoot starts tomorrow…

And I’m excited, nervous, scared, thrilled, over-joyed, etc, etc, etc. All of the emotions one could feel before such a big day, I’m feeling’em. This short film has technically been in the works for 10 years or so now. How do I mean? Well, check this…

To Recap:

2005: While at community college (don’t knock it, I highly recommend it as a great place to get a higher ed), I watch two films for the first time: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Classics. I’m blown by how…cool each film is. The dialogue pops, the jokes hit perfectly, and the shocks are big. I was instantly in love. These two films coupled with my affection for Clerks (which I saw my sophomore year of high school) made me realize that film could be a possible career path. Well, I could at least try and make films, even if I never made it in Hollywood.

Late 2005: Still feeling the affects of those QT films, an idea popped in my head for a movie scene. Well, less an idea and more a small seed. And not really one scene but rather two. It was at first the question of “What if the roles were slightly changed for Jules, Vincent, and The Wolf?” From there, I started writing down little pieces of dialogue, snippets of visuals, etc. in my head. It was hackneyed, horribly written, formatted incorrectly, and I was writing it in a little 3×5 Mead notepad on my lunch breaks from work. But it was something.

2005-2008: That notepad followed me to my (2nd) brief tenure at KU, to Wisconsin, and to Minnesota. (Note: As a matter of fact, I believe I still have it somewhere in storage.) There are scribbles, changes, new *unrelated* ideas, and it’s all together awesome and bad. But I proceeded forward until…

Late 2008: I am promoted with the retail big box company I was currently working for. I went from being a simple hourly employee to a salaried manager. I went from working just 40 hrs per week to 60 (by my choice honestly.) I had no social life where I lived in Minnesota. Went on a few dates but nothing more. Most of my time was spent doing most of the following: A) Work B) Work from home C) video games D) watching movies at home and E) watching movies at the run down theater the small town I lived in had. It was during this time I gained a crap ton (that is an actual measurement in my opinion) of weight and started to suffer from severe depression. That little notepad I had? It just sat in a box, never being touched. I would talk about it sometimes with people, but that was it.

Mid-2010: I move to KS for work and Cuz R (who is my actual cousin and #BestFriend4Life) moved with me too. It was during our time living together that I would mention my story sometimes while also throwing other ideas back and forth every once in a while. But we were both so focused on our jobs and had no idea how to actually make a movie (at all or in the middle-of-nowhere KS) that if never became more than just talk.

Mid-2015: I know this is a 5 year jump, but not much progressed with this film during that time. However, at this time in the story, I had been talking to my wife a lot about actually making that idea from 2005 as a short film. I was working a job that had me on the road 95% of the time, I was miserable, and I was not enjoying life at all. The wife asked what would make me happy; I told her, “Honestly, getting off the road, working a part time job at a bookstore, and making my short film.” She could have been logical and rational and said “I wish you could, but we need to be able to provide for ourselves and the kids we want someday, so lets just find you a job in your field closer to home, etc.” But, that’s not how my wife rolls.

9/21/15: This day is specific for a reason: this is the day that a phone call between my wife and I would change everything. I was in St. Louis for work, having just completed an assignment, and I had seen her only a couple days over the last month. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the mall I had just stopped working at and I was crying. Literally crying. So of course she is too. There’s a break in the blubber-fest and she says “Why not? Why not come home and make your movie? What is stopping you?” It was at this moment that I fell even more in love with her and also realized that the answer of what I should do was right in front of me. So I literally called my boss once I got off the phone with her and put in my 2 weeks. Was it slightly foolhardy? A little irrational? Yes, oh god yes. Yet, it was the best decision for me to make. (Spoiler Alert: Our movie shoot is taking place almost exactly 1 year from this day.)

Late 2015-2016: So after I got off the road, I started hammering away at the script. It was too long, bloated, had plot holes galore, and just wasn’t that good at all. But putting those words on the page was the most thrilling rush of excitement; it was like riding that awesome new ride at Walt Disney World for the first time again and then riding a bazillion times after that, each ride better than the last. Knowing I couldn’t do this all alone, I sought the help of some trusted confidants.

Durka: To produce and push me to make this project an actual project, rather than a crazy fever dream.

Cuz R: To help rewrite, redraft, and redevelop the film. He became the official co-writer and my partner in crime. The film went from being a silly idea by me to a true vision for both of us.

The wife: She says she only wanted to handle craft services, but she really wanted to be in show biz 🙂

9/15/16: We are less than 24 hrs before we are on set, calling action on the first shot. I have so many worries going through my head. I am bouncing back and forth between extreme confidence to utter despair. But I wouldn’t ask for anything different. The call sheets for tomorrow have been sent by the 1st AD. Follow up texts are being sent by various folks to finish prepping for tomorrow. Equipment rentals and purchases are arriving at any time today. A final walkthrough for the biggest scene (the one that started all of this) is tonight at 9 pm.

It’s all coming together. 10 years of waiting finally coming to an end. Once we wrap Saturday evening…raising a kid will be a piece of cake (Cue nervous laughter.)

Let’s break some legs!

Keepin’ it Geeky,

j