The Threeway: Things We Want to See from Disney/Lucasfilm Merger (Adam’s Take)

I’ve been giddy for a few days now. The Disney/Lucasfilm announcement…it’s like Christmas and Halloween had a baby. I’m a big Disney fan and grew up on a steady diet of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones.” I’m the kid that obsessed over that giant ILM book back in the day. I bought a LaserDisc player just to have the original Trilogy in unedited, digital form.

Thus, I have some thoughts on this buyout. I have a list of desires longer than a Wookie’s arm. Here are the Top 3:

1) Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. This was part of the announcement and I am totally on board. Even more, I’m OK with Lucas serving as a creative consultant. The problem with the Prequels wasn’t Lucas, it was that no one said “no” to Lucas. No one was there to keep him in check. He isn’t a writer. He isn’t a director. He is a storyteller though. The story, the concept, that was his gift (that and business management, apparently). Allow him to breath some life into the idea and then PASS IT OFF.

I want a solid core creative team involved (NOTE: Not Seth Green). A team that can do the story design, writing, etc., and then team with solid directors to bring it to life. It’s too bad that Joss Whedon is tied up (at Disney, oddly) with Marvel Phase 2, because he would be perfect. I don’t want Nolan either. Or Bryan Singer (who just signed back onto “X-Men”). I don’t think I want Favreau either.

There a few people I’d be OK with, but the top of the list is Spielberg. I know, I’m a devoted worshiper and I’m blinded. But Disney just made his one of his long time producers, Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm and he was BFF with George. Announcing him as director…I’d explode like the Death Star in the Special Edition.

2) Some “Indiana Jones” love. Whereas “Star Wars” has stayed alive and become commonplace in theaters (new movies, re-releases), TV (“Clone Wars”), game, action figures, etc., Indy is regulated to pretty much the back room. I’m not saying I need another film. But, a “Clone Wars” style cartoon could be interesting. An Indy ride at Disney World would be nice. Something.

1) “Star Wars” Land at Disney World. Last year when Disney announced “Avatar”-land for the Animal Kingdom I was confused. I guess Pandora can fit into the Animal Kingdom, but it seems like a waste of money. Disney is grasping at a straw to combat Universal expanding the incredibly popular “Harry Potter” world. Then it dawned on me – Disney should make a “Star Wars” land. But, putting that much money into something they didn’t own doesn’t fit their M.O.

Now, however, they can. Licensing fees would be easy to arrange. They already have Star Tours at the Studios. Plus, they blow that place up for “Star Wars” Weekends every May/June; Hollywood Studios gets overrun with fans every year. So, obviously, there is demand. They could easily retrofit some parts of the Studios while creating new attractions. Some free food for thought for the Imagineers:

  1. Turn the SciFi Diner into Mos Eisley.
  2. Retrofit Pizza Planet for a “Star Wars” theme.
  3. Use the space for the “Muppets” to create a new “Star Wars” attraction (NOTE – I love the MuppetVision 4D show – but its time has gone).
  4. Take out the “Pearl Harbor” esque opening of the backlot tour and replace with something “Star Wars” or ILM focused.
  5. Have a “Star Wars” themed character breakfast.
  6. Replace “Once Upon a Toy” (at Downtown Disney) with a “Star Wars” store

Essentially, use the assets to bring new experiences to the Parks. This was a great start:

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The Threeway: Best Horror Movies (Adam’s Take)

Welcome to October! One of the few “themed months” that we have. Seriously, is there any other Holiday that dominates an entire month? Christmas comes close. But it seems the mood of everything in Pop Culture changes for the entire month of October.

Movies are no different. Where as a “Halloween” movie is its own genre, horror movies are associated with the holiday as well. I view horror movies very specifically – they have to scare me. Throughout the entire movie, I need to be terrified. That doesn’t happen often for me. In fact, I can think of very few movies that outright scare me throughout. Serial killer movies don’t do it for me (I enjoy them, but I don’t find them that scary). I need plot, character, and atmosphere. Also, I need them to not get really cheesy at the end (a downfall of a lot of horror flicks). Luckily I was able to find three that meet my criteria.

First, a bonus. The scariest movie I’ve seen recently is “The Woman in Black.” It stars Harry Potter and is creepy as anything. It is all atmosphere (and one really creepy plot) – but it works. It gets really close to “cheesy” territory but it rescues itself and goes back on the attack. Good stuff.

3) “The Ring” – I’ve heard a few people recently dismiss this movie. I’m not sure why. It is one of the few horror movies where every loose end ties up. Everything makes sense (as much as it can in a horror film). It has everything a horror movie needs: creepy music, creepy kids, creepy settings, a scream queen, etc. If you haven’t seen it in awhile, or think it was cheesy, I dare you to watch it again. With the lights off. Alone. (For what it’s worth, I’ve also seen “Ringu” and “The Ring” is far better.)

2) “Poltergeist” –  This entry really should go to “The Shining” but I needed to get a Spielberg movie on this list (even if it wasn’t really directed by him (even though we all know it really was)). “Poltergeist” is the best “haunted house” movie ever. For the most part is still works today. If you haven’t seen it in awhile – re-watch it. The face clawing, the maggots, the tree, the toys, etc., it is all still frightening. Spielberg created this as the antithesis to “E.T” (which came out in the same year and may be set in the same subdivision). The two movies show two sides of living in suburbia – “E.T.” with the joys and “Poltergeist” with the horrors. Continue reading

The Threeway: Top 3 Spielberg Movies (Adam’s Take)

I’ve said it before – I’m a card carrying member of the Church of Spielberg. I can wash away his big misfires as things he didn’t really direct. Seriously, you think he was really on set for “Lost World: Jurassic Park 2”? Hell no. Maybe that one scene where the van falls into the tree (with the spiderweb/cracking windshield) but that’s about it. Same with “Crystal Skull.” The scene with Indy and Mutt on the motorcycle through campus – yes. Anything else? No.

Even the movies I wouldn’t put on this list are amazing:

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Color Purple
  • Schindler’s List
  • Duel
  • Jurassic Park
  • War of the Worlds
  • Adventures of Tintin
  • War Horse
  • Saving Private Ryan

Any other filmmaker would love to have those on his resume. For Spielberg, those are in the “also ran” pile. Hell, that doesn’t even get into films like:

  • Munich
  • Empire of the Sun
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Catch Me If You Can

The fact is – he is the man. Enough of my man crush on his cinematic excellence. Onto the official Top 3:

3) “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – If Adventure Had a Name… It Must Be Indiana Jones! Sure, that’s a tag line from one of the other ones, but I don’t care. Raiders is pure awesome. The movie is carefully constructed. One scene gets your heart racing, the next allows you to catch your breath. The next scene kicks in adrenaline, the next settles back down. Only, the “coming down” scenes get shorter and the “blood pumping” scenes get more complex, until we hit the face-melting final.

Best Scene: The opening or the The Opening of the Ark. I’m not sure which. Both are iconic and incredible.

2) “E.T.” – If I created this list a few years ago this movie would have sat at #1. I love “E.T.” It captures a childhood sense of wonder that few movies ever have. Spielberg films the movie from a child’s perspective (ground up camera work – you don’t even see the “bad guy’s” face until 3/4 of the way through the movie) and it is lit with awe. The lightning style (lots of search lights coming from behind objects) will become a Spielberg trademark, but it was never done better than right here.

Best Scene: Towards the end as the kids are trying to get E.T. back into the forest. The “Man” is after them. What’s a group of punk kids harboring an Alien supposed to do? FLY! As E.T. lifts their bikes up over the police blockade… I still cheer.

1) “JAWS” – This movie has shot up my list of all time favorites in recent years. I don’t know why, but it took me awhile to fully understand its brilliance. We all know the story on how they didn’t show the shark much because the mechanical shark didn’t work well. Whether the decision was conscious or just dumb luck doesn’t matter. What does matter is the result.

Hitchcock once said “Their is no terror in the BANG, only the anticipation of it.” I think Hitch would have loved “JAWS” (it’s possible to say that “JAWS” was an extension of “The Birds” in terms of nature turning against man). There is terror in a shark. There is pure terror in the anticipation of the shark.

Best Scene – to prove that… there’s a scene where there are two people trying to catch the shark. It’s night and they are standing on a pier. They throw a pot roast into the water (on a hook) and tie the chain to the dock. The shark comes. Eats the roast and takes off – pulling the pier apart! One fisherman is in the water. As he starts to swim back we see the dock turn around. His friend starts yelling “SWIM! FASTER! DON’T TURN AROUND JUST SWIM!” His friend knows the dock turning means the shark has turned and is now after his friend.

The glorious thing is that throughout the entire scene… we never see the Shark. Not one dorsal fin. It’s exhilarating.

What do you think? Your top 3 Spielberg films?

Everyone Thinks “Citizen Kane” Stinks

There’s a general rule of cinema: “Citizen Kane” is the greatest film ever. Every critic list, every film professor will shout this from on high. But, much like when “November Rain” finally ousted “Thriller” as the greatest video of all time, someone has done the bold deed. They knocked “Kane” off his perch.

Every 10 years Sight & Sound magazine, a respected industry rag out of Britain, polls a bunch of critics, academics and the like and creates a Top 50 list. And, every decade for 50 years “Citizen Kane” sat atop the list with the heft of Orson Wells and a burned up sled. No more.

What did they pick? It’s hardly important (although, they chose the excellent “Vertigo”). Best Film Ever?What’s important is the willingness to change. To pick something new(er). To challenge the status quo.

So, I’ll challenge it here as well. What’s really interesting about the Top 10 is how much I dislike so many of the films on it. I love “Vertigo” but, after that… I’m not a big “Citizen Kane” fan. I detest “8 1/2” (I wrote a paper about my dislike for it and my film professor gave me and F and wrote “either you failed to grasp it, or I failed to teach you. Either way, this is an F. Change your opinion”). I have little love for either “2001” or “The Searchers.”

So, out of the new Top 10, I’ve seen five and liked one. And I like arty films and classics. Seriously, “Bicycle Thieves” isn’t in the Top 10 (it was 33)? What the hell? “Godfather” doesn’t crack the Top 20 (21)? I want to respect this list for the sole reason that it doesn’t lead off with “Kane” but then it completely screws up the rest of the list.

So, I’m taking a page from Anthony’s book and putting up a poll. What’s the BEST FILM EVER? I’ve put down seven that I think should be in consideration (either from my viewpoint or as “standards”). What say you, dear reader?

Cult of Spielberg: Emancipating “Lincoln”

Let’s get something out of the way early here – I am a complete Spielberg fanatic. Movies like “E.T.,” “Jaws,” “Close Encounters” and “Raiders” are all on my list of “perfect movies” ever made. I honestly feel cheated every year that goes by without a film directed by him. The drought between “Munich” and last Winter’s one-two punch of “Adventure’s of Tintin” and “War Horse” was painful for me. (Editor’s note: I don’t think Spielberg actually directed “Crystal Skull.” I also don’t think he directed “Lost World” either, if you care.)

Shoe-in for an Oscar Nomination – Daniel Day Lewis IS Lincoln.

As such, news of new Spielberg movies touch me in a special place. Disney announced that new Spielberg Oscar-bait “Lincoln” will hit theaters on November 16 (November 9th if you are a fancy-pants in NY or LA). These are interesting dates because:

  1. Spielberg has stated that he didn’t want this movie to be fodder during the upcoming Presidential election. Last I looked, Lincoln wasn’t up for re-election, but whatever.
  2. The Nov 9 date puts it in Bond’s cross hairs as “Skyfall” opens the same day.
  3. Worse (box office-ly speaking) is that Nov 16 opens it against “Twilight.” That means I will live in a world where the opening of a new Spielberg movie will LOSE the opening weekend Box Office crown to glittery vampires.

Now… if there were only a movie where Lincoln dispatched vampires. Dare to dream…