Action, Adventure, Alfred, Batman, Cameron Cloutier, Casting, Comic Book, DC Comics, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Justice League, Lex Luthor, Man of Steel 2, Podcast, Superhero, Superman, Warner Brothers, Wonder Woman
Action, Adventure, Alfred, Batman, Cameron Cloutier, Casting, Comic Book, DC Comics, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Justice League, Lex Luthor, Man of Steel 2, Podcast, Superhero, Superman, Warner Brothers, Wonder Woman
2016, Action, Adventure, Batman, Batman vs. Superman, Ben Affleck, Blockbuster, Cameron Cloutier, Comic Book, Discussion, Film, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Justice League, Man of Steel, Movie, Podcast, Postpone, Sequel, Superhero, Superman, The World's Finest, Warner Brothers, Wonder Woman, Zack Snyder
AMC Movie Talk, AMC Theatres, Amirose Eisenbach, Announcement, Batman, Ben Affleck, Blockbuster, Bring on the Filthy, Cameron Cloutier, Chain, Clarke Wolfe, Clevver Movies, Comikaze, DC Comics, Dennis Tzeng, Erin Darling, F This Movie, Facebook, Feature, Gal Gadot, Grae Drake, IGN, Jaimie Alexander, John Campea, Jon Schnepp, Krisily Kennedy, Man of Steel, Man of Steel 2, Marvel, Movie Theater, Nightwing, Patrick Bromley, Review, Roth Cornet, Rotten Tomatoes, Schmoes Know, Sequel, Sexism, Stan Lee, Superman, Talk Show, The Dark World, The Fast and the Furious, The Movie Blog, Thinkhero, Thor, Twitter, Warner Brothers, Wonder Woman, Youtube, Zach Snyder
I like John Campea. I really do, even though I firmly agree / disagree with him roughly about the same percentage of the time. He has the ability to make me laugh, quite often in fact, while at other times I think he is downright crazy for some of his thoughts and viewpoints. “Isn’t that one of the best parts of being a film fan?” John often rhetorically asks his audience. “There’s no fun if we always see eye to eye.”
Now, I’m sure some of you are asking, “Who the heck is John Campea?” Well, to give you the short version, he is a former theology scholar and law student who quit his day job in the early 2000s to create “The Movie Blog”, one of the first websites to chronicle the daily ins and outs of mainstream Hollywood filmmaking. In 2007, he wrote, produced and directed a biblical documentary called, “Prince of Peace: God of War”, followed by the romantic comedy, “The Anniversary” in 2009.
John also started video podcasting with some friends for a series on Youtube called, “For Your Consideration”. (One can find most of the episodes still on the site.) All of this led to him becoming the current editor-in-chief of AMC Theatres, reporting and commenting on future movies being made, as well as current ones playing for the second largest theater chain in North America.
John then talked AMC Theatres into letting him try his “For Your Consideration” video podcasts as a way of reaching out to theater fans, or regular filmgoers, who don’t necessarily have time to read every internet rumor or news story. These videos started out on Youtube under the “FYC” heading, but then transitioned into the more marketable “AMC Movie Talk”. Sometimes they were performed live on U Stream, with viewers allowed to ask questions in real time, but often times they would just be posted on Youtube under the AMC Theatres channel.
In less than a year, the channel has grown over 100,000 people strong. The reasons for this are incredibly simple. Most podcasts about movies, video or otherwise, are not a daily thing. John and his team now post videos, between 20-50 minutes long, seven days a week. On top of that, the whole show is then broken into separate news story links for easy sharing so if someone doesn’t want to watch (or post) the entire show, they don’t have to.
Next is the (current) assembled on camera talent.
First, there’s Amirose Eisenbach, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and former IGN contributor who likes to talk about how “inspiring” movies are and how “badass” everything is while constantly wiggling in her chair. And due to the fact that she loves all types of music, video games and horror movies, she comes across as the great “stoner” girlfriend every geek wishes he dated in high school / college.
Critics of her often state that she is too flirtatious with her interviewees and that her movie knowledge before 1990 is hilariously lacking.
Erin Darling, also a co-host over at Clevver Movies, has learned very well how to smile and speak on camera, but unfortunately comes across to many as hollow with a fake personality. Critics also unfavorably cite her looks as being the primary reason she is on the show. Also, the cross promotion with Clevver Movies helps as well.
Dennis Tzeng, creator of Thinkhero.com, has been doing video podcasts solo and with John since the early “For Your Consideration” days. Even though his opinion rarely differs from John, some critics believe his greatest crime is coming across a little bland. No matter. His regular guy approach seems to appeal to many of the film geeks watching.
Krisily Kennedy, yes 2003 Miss Rhode Island herself, sits at her computer and introduces the news stories for the other co-hosts to comment on, usually adding her own two cents in as well. To many, it is welcome simply because they love to gaze upon her. To others, her comments are just that–comments. Critics don’t seem to think they add anything to the conversation, except to say, “Yeah! I just can’t wait for this new movie to come to the theaters!”
However, her new blog titled “The Movie Chick” has revealed her to be someone with definite thoughts about the film industry and that has been quite wonderful to see.
(On a side note, a few weeks ago, John inadvertently broke many of his male viewer’s hearts by publicly outing Krisily as a lesbian on air. The comments section that day was a solemn affair, to say the least.)
In the past year, there has been some unfortunate controversy regarding the co-hosts. Most notably, Clarke Wolfe who was fired from AMC Movie Talk shortly after she gave “Man of Steel”, John’s favorite movie of the year (so far), a horrible review. She had already been hated upon by a number of viewers for her opinions, but once she spoke ill of Zach Snyder’s soon-to-be blockbuster, any good will towards her was completely thrown out the window. She was let go of her co-hosting duties shortly thereafter. No comment was ever given by John Campea or AMC for the actual reason of her firing.
However, some surmise that she was ultimately let go to make way for Erin Darling.
Other co-hosts have come and gone too. Grae Drake (of Rotten Tomatoes) and Roth Cornet (of IGN) both moved on to their other jobs full time, while Ashley Mova, who was once fired by John (presumably because she mispronounced Amirose’s last name on an episode) returned several months later when Krisily needed some time off to visit family.
It’s too bad Grae or Roth don’t have more time in their schedules to be on the show because they were some of the only hosts who ever stood up to John if he ever crossed a line when discussing a topic.
Newer co-hosts have ranged from the guys at Schmoes Knows (who killed it on two of the episodes) to Jimmy O from Joblo.com, but their appearances have been too rare and far between to make any real impact on the show’s viewing numbers.
(In a recent daring move though, John Campea, broke California gender laws while hiring for his AMC Movie Talk show. Clearly, he wants to be surrounded by beautiful women because, apart from his opinions, they help usher in his audience. But I’m frankly surprised a former law student would jeopardize his theater chain’s integrity, as well as being massively fined, for unlawful hiring practices.)
However, the breakout co-host over the last year (perhaps of the entire history of this video podcast series) is none other than Jon Schnepp, writer and director of Metalocalypse and the upcoming documentary, “The Death of Superman Lives – What Happened?” Until recently, he wasn’t even hired by AMC Theatres to be on the show, but did it as a way to talk movies, as well as gaining exposure for the multitude of projects he’s currently working on. This “I don’t really care” attitude allowed the show to develop a much needed sense of humor about itself and can often times bring the discussions back down to a relative amount of sanity.
(Full disclosure: I have interviewed Jon Schnepp on two occasions and he is truly one of the good guys in Hollywood. However, if I felt deep in my soul that he was nothing more than a raging asshole, I would have no problem telling you that.)
The topics discussed on air are a reason for the show’s success too. Very rarely are independent films covered, or discussed at any length. You see, most of the movie going public under thirty doesn’t care about those. Foreign films are typically out, as well. What one typically gets is exhuberient discussions about every sequel, remake, reboot, reimagining, comic book movie coming down the pike for the next five years and how it’s a blessing for the film industry as a whole. I haven’t counted, but I’m pretty sure that in any given episode, the word “franchise” is said about 20 times.
(I sometimes wonder what will happen to this show once the “comic book movie” all but disappears from the Hollywood landscape. After all, it’s only a matter of time.)
The show’s main writer is John Campea himself and since he is also the featured host, the topics are only what he feels like talking about. Ultimately this impregnates the show with a slightly biased feel. However, he apparently knows something about what his target audience of 17-35 year old males want because they are eating this show up like it was pudding.
That being said, it would be interesting to see what this show would be like if John was only the master of ceremonies and did not know the topics beforehand.
However, now that the channel has an audience of over 100,000 subscribers, it would be nice if John Campea chose to focus AMC Movie Talk on other types of films besides massive tent pole releases, or even commenting on questionable theater policies like AMC’s recent one to allow cell phone access to those who sit in the back rows.
And now that AMC Theatres has started to invest in the program financially, the show appears to be more concerned with being a commercial hyping machine for big films, soon to be playing at AMC Theatres, than a legitimate daily movie news show.
At least when John said something strangely positive about a “terrible” film on “For Your Consideration” it was easier to swallow because there was never an invested interest on his part whether a film did well or not. Now, when he praises a movie currently playing at the local AMC theatre chain, it comes across like a used car salesman hocking a lemon.
After all, the crew will now not record a video review for any movie unless it’s a positive one. It’s not like AMC Theatres wants the Youtube show (that they now pay money for) to tell people to stay away from their screens for that upcoming weekend.
(Funny how Ebert and Roeper were able to review and dislike Disney movies when their parent company was owned by Disney though.)
Now that the show is becoming quite popular, one of the things John Campea often claims is, “If AMC ever asked me to say anything about a film, or support a film I don’t believe in, I would quit.” Perhaps at one time this would be true, but no longer.
He now has an loyal audience of 100,000 watchers, more than 10,000 fans on Twitter and gets to hang out with celebrities on a fairly regular basis. Now why would a man who quit his day job to become a movie blogger give up all that? He wouldn’t, but it is hilarious to hear him talking about the moral high ground when AMC Theatres wouldn’t allow him the chance to do so if it really came down to them or him.
The real reason for the show’s rapid success though is it’s on every day, seven days a week. John isn’t any longer just reporting movie news and discussing it with his co-hosts. He’s literally preaching to us, his flock. Listen to the way he speaks to his viewers. He has a way of talking that is forceful and direct, and since he studied theology for years (and made a documentary about it), John certainly knows how to manipulate people into thinking he should be followed. (And I say this as a fan.)
And yet, while there are many who support him as being an extremely strong minded and opinionated voice in the media blogosphere today, there are others who will contend that he is vaporously shallow and has a way of forcing his opinions onto others by berating his viewership.
That being said, John Campea has been slowly and steadily building an army of film fans who don’t give a crap about movies made before 1990. A large mass of people who only care about the comic book movies, remakes, reboots, sequels of today playing at their local mall theater. It sounds ridiculous but these numbers are only steadfastly growing and AMC Theatres has everything to gain by it.
However, repercussions may be coming soon…
Let’s move back in time about a month ago, shall we… November 1, 2013.
John Campea and the AMC Movie Talk crew orchestrated themselves to have a live panel at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo (a smaller version of Comic Con) in Los Angeles, California. Moderating the discussion was going to be Lady Sif herself from Thor, Jaimie Alexander.
While on stage, Jaimie unexpectedly announced that she was in the midst of having conversations with Warners and DC and knew a thing or two about the upcoming “Batman vs. Superman” film.
It certainly was quite a tease. One that made many film blogs and entertainment websites jump up and take notice. It was the kind of thing an actress says if she wants her name to start trending on Twitter and have photographers aching to get red carpet pictures of her in weirdly stunning dresses, when they couldn’t have cared less a week before.
Obviously the world was now taking notice of an upcoming movie star and perhaps the next Wonder Woman.
However, just two days later, on November 3, 2013, John Campea may have begun the smothering of that dream by gleefully stating to his viewers on AMC Movie Talk, “If you guys think what she said on stage was pretty cool… it ain’t nothin’ to what she told me offstage.”
Please watch 1:45-2:44 of the following video:
So this means one of two things. Either Jaimie Alexander trusted John Campea, an entertainment host / blogger, with some confidential knowledge, and expected him to act like a professional and not hint that he knows details about her possible casting, plot details, etc. Or she wanted him to share this “tidbit” to his viewers and hope that a ground swelling of fan support would cause Warner Bros. to cast her.
Over the next few weeks John and his AMC Movie Talk co-hosts began to talk up Jaimie Alexander as the next big thing, always hinting they knew more about “Batman vs. Superman” than they could let on about, anxiously awaiting for the big news to drop of her being cast as Wonder Woman so they could say to everyone, “We knew it all along.”
Well, Hollywood has a way of operating under its own set of rules.
Even if Jaimie Alexander was simply auditioning for the “Man of Steel” sequel, she would have had to sign a N.D.A. (Non Disclosure Agreement), stating by law that she would not reveal anything about the upcoming movie or her possible role. Well, by John coming out and joyfully bragging to everyone publicly about what she may have told him, it more than likely cost her the job.
Hollywood does not dick around.
Forget about whether Marvel Studios would release her to DC to be Wonder Woman simultaneously as Lady Sif.
This comes down to Alexander either not adhering to the NDA she signed, or Campea trying to look more important by stating that she told him confidential aspects of the production, thereby creating buzz for his show.
This wouldn’t be the first time either that John felt compelled to share privileged knowledge with his followers.
Whichever way you look at it, him opening his mouth did not help her chances any, regardless if she actually told him something important or not. So if you are one of the many who wished that Jaimie Alexander had been cast as Wonder Woman, there are really only two people to blame here.
AMC Movie Talk may only have a little more than 100,000 subscribers but word travels fast across the nerd blogosphere. And if John Campea, the face and voice of AMC Theatres, declares he knows intimate details of Warner Bros. new franchise, believe me, the studio brass heard about it. And obviously they weren’t happy.
Wait a minute… John Campea is the face and voice of the entire AMC Theatre chain? As a matter of fact, he currently is.
You know when you see a TV program that states that the thoughts and views on the show are only representative of the people saying them, and not the company as a whole? Well, at the moment, there is no disclaimer at the start of AMC Movie Talk. That means every time John Campea or one of his co-hosts opens their mouth on that show, they are representing the theater chain’s thoughts and beliefs 100%.
That’s quite a bold move for the second largest theater chain in North America, especially in recent weeks.
On November 9, 2013, when rumors were swirling that the character of Nightwing was going to be added to the “Batman vs. Superman” project, John Campea threw up his hands on the show and declared that the film was now dead to him. Never mind the fact it was only a rumor. He publicly stated that the film was no longer on his radar and went on and on about how Warner Bros. was now giving their franchise a death sentence.
Thousands of fans spoke out telling him to calm down, that it was only rumors at this stage, that John had told all of them to give Ben Affleck a chance, so why not this? It didn’t matter what the audience said, John Campea had made up his mind. This film was now dead to him. Therefore, if the Nightwing rumors are to be proven true, “Man of Steel 2” is dead to AMC Theatres as well.
Warner Bros. and DC, please remember this when you’re talking with AMC Theatres about scheduling interviews, press screenings, world premieres, etc. You’re dead to them, as well as to their editor-in-chief.
However, I would like to think that AMC Theatres is not really prepared to take such a stance on a film that could potentially bring them in A LOT of money, but without that disclaimer, they just did.
Until yesterday though, John, at least, had this Jaimie Alexander card in his pocket. At least he could retain the bragging rights about being in the loop for her casting as Wonder Woman and holding onto possible plot details.
Warner Bros. squashed that dream like a bug as well.
On December 5, 2013, Gal Godot (from “The Fast and the Furious” franchise) was cast as the Superhero Wonder Woman and one could hear a pin drop in the movie geek community.
A friend of mine and this site, Patrick Bromley (of F This Movie!) wrote an amazing article about the asinine fan reactions to this:
Funny enough, this was the social media reaction of film / media pundit, John Campea, aka the face, voice and representative of AMC Theatres:
Having opinions like these are fine when you are running a little video podcast on Youtube, but once you cross over 100,000 subscribers as the public persona of a major company, you have to censor yourself publicly. It’s just the reality of the world and AMC Theatres might have to learn their lesson the hard way if they continuously allow themselves to endorse this type of behavior.
It’s time for this program to stop feeling like a movie show by way of ESPN. Movies are not sports. It’s time to stop treating films like they’re gold because they made millions of dollars on their opening weekend.
Often times, a great film is rarely seen by people and bad ones are typically seen by everyone.
Please, AMC Theatres, use your show for the power of good. Talking about endless remakes, reboots, sequels, comic book movies gets tiring after a while, but I guess that’s your bread and butter, so that’s all that really matters.
Yet why do I still continue to like John Campea? You got me, but one thing is for certain, I’m always curious to know what he may say next.
AMC Theatres, Warner Bros. and Jaimie Alexander might feel otherwise though.
“Bring on the filthy.” – John Campea
1980, Conspiracy, Documentary, Film, Horror, Jack Nicholson, Moon Landing, Movie, Native American, Overlook Hotel, Review, Rodney Ascher, Shelley Duvall, Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, The Shining, Theory, Warner Brothers
By Shane M. Dallmann
I was quite happy to see that our local arthouse not only brought us this documentary that I really wanted to see but did NOT restrict it to one showing per night (which would have denied me access and forced me to resort to on-demand yet again).
Of course, I was (yet again) the ONLY one in the theatre. I guess they have a point. But I’m grateful for the big screen experience because, sad to say, I never did get to see THE SHINING on the big screen. Nothing but HBO and the old VHS rendition for me. I even avoided the DVD when someone started complaining about the letterboxing issues. But that’s another story for another time.
Back in the day, I was alerted to a magazine article in which film buff Bill Blakemore dissected Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING as a meditation on the genocide of the American Indian. That article was met with plenty of scoffing along the lines of “Yeah, and I can prove that FRIDAY THE 13TH was actually about the Black Sox baseball scandal.” To which my immediate reaction was “Are you just being a smartass or can you really DO that?” Nobody’s got a monopoly on “the truth,” and Blakemore’s article at least had the courage of its convictions and was an extremely interesting read.
It has now been thirty years since I read that article (!!). But now Blakemore and numerous contemporaries have all been given the opportunity to relate their SHINING findings in Rodney Ascher’s brand-new documentary ROOM 237.
It’s all there from the “Indian” reading to the “Holocaust” reading to the case that THE SHINING was actually Stanley Kubrick’s confession regarding his personal faking of the Apollo 11 moon-landing footage (not to mention his personal “F.U.” to Stephen King). There’s the obsessive Overlook map created strictly from painstaking attention to the geography of the hotel as indicated by the sets and cinematography (including the triumphant reveal of Mr. Ullman’s “impossible” window). There are the subliminal images that some swear exist; and there are the continuity errors that actually conceal profound truths according to others. There’s even plenty of amusing/intriguing juxtaposition when THE SHINING is simultaneously run backwards and fowards. And the documentary doesn’t judge. You’re free to take or reject anything you like–it’s just consistently fascinating stuff where I come in.
Oh, but not everyone agrees with me (so what else is new?). I don’t have Roger Ebert to ‘banter’ with anymore, but I’ve still got my buddy Mick LaSalle at the S.F. Chronicle! AFTER I saw ROOM 237, I noticed that he had given it a negative review. And I said to myself “If it’s just because he doesn’t believe in what anyone’s saying about THE SHINING, that’s not fair.” Yup, that was pretty much it. Okay. I don’t expect LaSalle to personally recognize footage from Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS (1 and 2) used to represent the viewing experience, nor to cheer when Bobby Rhodes gets a close-up in the process. (In addition to footage from pretty much every film Kubrick ever made for comparative purposes, ROOM 237 also incorporates surprise footage from all sorts of seemingly unrelated movies: THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, CAPRICORN ONE and LOOKER to name just a few!) But his case, of course, is that all of the theorists are crazy, boring, or otherwise full of it, and that Ascher should have treated them with disdain and made the film a documentary about… well… kooks.
Aw, come on. Mick knows that I’M not crazy (I have this in writing 🙂 ) and I’ve been known to dabble in such theorizing for films of considerably lower pedigree. Yeah, I’m one of the precious few who liked HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION at all–because I found some amusing observations about pop-culture cultists woven into the slasher rehash. A pointed line of dialogue inspired me to find an Iraq War parallel in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING. Don’t agree? Fine with me. But I don’t consider my time wasted by such poking around, and I’m not “wrong” just because you don’t see it my way. And ROOM 237 maintained my interest from the very beginning (Ascher’s homage to the 70’s Warner “snakes” logo) to the very end (his take on the Screen Gems “S From Hell,” which I understand was the subject of his previous documentary, which I would really like to see now).
Oh, and THE SHINING? Needless to say, I wanted to watch the film again from beginning to end (it HAS been a while), so that’s exactly what I did. With the new Blu-Ray version. And while my original intention was to see what else I could divine based on the inspiration of others? The fact of the matter was that the movie itself had never been scarier to me. I mean… wow, does it WORK.
Thanks for the excuse, Rodney.
Action, Adventure, Anne Hathaway, Bane, Batman, Catwoman, Christopher Nolan, Comic Book, Epic, Gary Oldman, Gotham, Joseph Gordon Levett, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Superhero, The Dark Knight Rises, Trilogy, Warner Brothers
By Shane M. Dallmann
With THE DARK KNIGHT, Christopher Nolan created one of the ultimate “tough acts to follow”–even if the untimely death of Heath Ledger hadn’t generated the publicity it had, his performance as the Joker was one of the standouts of its decade (not to mention the superhero movie genre itself)–and nobody can have it back.
Thankfully, Nolan hadn’t opened with the Joker–with BATMAN BEGINS, he started a most carefully-constructed and thoughtful trilogy in which character, motivation and consequences were even more important than the requisite action sequences (which, of course, he didn’t fail to deliver, either)–there was far more to resolve in the final chapter than what ultimately became of the Joker, after all.
Much as I enjoyed the 80’s–90’s series initiated by Tim Burton, we all know it went to hell at the end, and one of the worst things about the pathetic BATMAN & ROBIN was its introduction of Bane as nothing but an inflated, monosyllabic steroid freak. As I haven’t followed the actual Batman comics as much as I probably should have over the past few decades, my initial reaction to the presence of Bane in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was “Bane? Really?” I should have known better–in Nolan’s hands, Bane has character, presence, personality and plenty to say (although his respirator device occasionally made his dialogue a bit difficult to follow). He has crucial ties to Batman’s own origin, and, oh yes, he can kick Batman’s ass.
In all fairness, though, Batman has been deliberately out of action (and training) for quite a while, leading to rumors of Bruce Wayne living in the fashion of the reclusive, eccentric Howard Hughes. But there’s far more to it than that–Bruce Wayne isn’t the only one forced to live with the consequences of taking the rap for the crimes of Harvey Dent in the previous film–eight years later, and the toll is even worse for Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).
I won’t get into specific plot twists and spoilers for you here, of course, but you get the sense early on that Nolan has every intention of living up to his promise that this installment will, indeed, be the conclusion of the saga–things go past the point of no return for more than one important character, it will suffice to say. And while it’s quite true that there’s surprisingly little BATMAN in this epic (2h, 45m) wrap-up, time spent with the characters we’ve grown to know over the years is especially well-spent here–it’s great to see Gordon and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) back in action, and with all profound respect to Alan Napier and Michael Gough, Michael Caine is the greatest Alfred in the history of Alfreds.
In addition to Bane, the other newcomers to the story hold their own quite well–Joseph Gordon-Levett adds a touch of hope and genuine heroism to a situation that ultimately cries out for it, and Anne Hathaway is marvelously entertaining as Selina Kyle, a cat burglar with all the mental and physical skills it takes to play in this arena (please note that the name “Catwoman” is never actually invoked in the film proper). Her role in the film seems a mere sideline to Bane’s elaborate plot, but it’s her desire for instant, thoughtless gratification that makes all the difference. You might recall that everybody’s favorite blowhard made the case for this film being “liberal propaganda” (sight unseen, naturally), because the name “Bane” was supposed to make you think of Mitt Romney, blah blah blah… but nobody who actually SEES the film is likely to make that mistake. Yes, Kyle claims that she represents the “99%” out to take back from the almighty “1%,” but it turns out that deactivating and impoverishing a one-percenter like Bruce Wayne isn’t exactly in the best interests of Gotham City (the reasons become more than clear as the story progresses).
On top of everything else, we get some most welcome surprise cameo appearances (there is NO extra scene at the end in case you were wondering).
Oh, action? Plenty of it–it’s spectacular, suspenseful and it utilizes the most state-of-the-art advances in special effects. But you knew that already. Some will tell you that the first half of this film is dull and/or confusing as opposed to the ferocious second half. Not me. This story started with BATMAN BEGINS and even though certain supporting characters definitely managed to upstage certain others along the way, this rich, detailed and complete TRILOGY kept me completely absorbed throughout and will always rank as one of the finest achievements in its field. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is a worthy conclusion to this legacy.
By Shane M. Dallmann
Look–you knew it was inevitable. And it was inevitable that it would have a huge opening weekend at the very least. We’ve had our new Michael, our new Jason, our new Leatherface–there was no way this was NOT going to happen–so let’s just take a look and see how it fares on its own.
As for Robert Englund being the “only” Freddy Krueger? If that’s how you feel, fine. Perhaps you also feel Sean Connery is the “only” James Bond, and he may well be the original and the best, but the ensuing decades have established that he’s not the only ACCEPTABLE James Bond at the very least. And I could say the same thing about Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, Sherlock Holmes or any other classic character you care to name.
The fact is that Jackie Earle Haley does an admirable and honorable job with the role of Freddy Krueger. He clearly took his role seriously and had no intention of providing a mere Robert Englund impersonation. Hey–this is RORSCHACH we’re talking about–and I seriously doubt they could have landed a better actor for this part. The ELM STREET redux hovers above the slag pile by virtue of Haley alone.
Yep, you heard me… alone. The movie itself… just isn’t very good. Sure, isolated moments here and there work, and the cast certainly tries its best, but the attempt to go back to the roots of the series and “re-imagine” it with a more perverse tone remains just that–an attempt. What we actually get is a severely pedestrian script that cuts corners and spoon-feeds the viewer (honestly, is there ANY good reason at all for Freddy to TELL Nancy that her memories fuel him? He just throws that out there at one point!), plays hell with logic (and I don’t mean of the supernatural variety–are you really asking me to believe that EVERY child involved completely forgot about the original incident, not that I’d actually spoil it here?) and is so focused on the character’s underlying corruption and sickness that it forgets to supply such details as what inspired him to, say, create a set of finger knives to begin with? Or just HOW he became a dream demon at all? (Craven’s original didn’t spell everything out, but at least it alluded to an ancient discipline that enabled certain parties to enter the dreams of others–we get NOTHING on which to hang our hats here)?
The new NIGHTMARE does manage to trump the original on one count–if you think that even the Craven classic had a nonsensical and incomprehensible fadeout, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
And another thing…
…could somebody PLEASE declare a moratorium on characters named “Quentin” and adrenaline hypodermics to the heart? At least in the SAME movie? Really. You’re embarrassing yourselves, people.
Cheers and kudos to Jackie Earle Haley for taking on a thankless task and giving it his all. A mere “meh” to everything else.
By Shane M. Dallmann
The trailer made THE APPARITION look fairly creepy, and the Dark Castle imprint secured my attendance–and that’s why I was sitting in an otherwise completely empty theatre watching a film that didn’t even crack the top ten on opening weekend. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.
Kelly (Ashley Greene) is taking care of her mother’s investment property in a brand-new (and almost completely unoccupied) desert community in the company of her boyfriend Ben (Sebastian Stan), an unhappy tech geek.
Unbeknownst to Kelly (for the moment), Ben is unhappy because he was involved in a series of paranormal college experiments which date back to the 1970s–he and his crew were trying to summon an entity from “the other side” and the results were disastrous. Ben wasn’t around for the latest experiment, which was an attempt to “contain” the entity (you know, like in THE ENTITY). It didn’t work, and the whatsit is still stalking Ben. It sets up housekeeping in the desert abode and first manifests itself as a rampant mold infestation.
Oh, right, I said “almost” uninhabited. There’s ONE neighboring family–a single dad with a little dog (for the whatsit to kill, of course, and they take care of that about fifteen minutes into the movie) and a little girl. You’d assume that the little girl would be heavily involved in the subsequent haunting, but she merely pops up for one additional scare attempt before the neighbors are completely forgotten while the whatsit scratches up the closet and ties Kelly’s clothes into knots before getting “serious.”
We don’t go the entire PARANORMAL ACTIVITY route, but there is PLENTY of computer screen and security camera footage. There’s a crawling gray spectre (“Hey, remember how scary that was in THE RING? Bet it’s still scary now!”) and no matter what you do, once you’ve made any sort of contact with the whatsit, it’s eventually going to whisk you away (you know, like in THE GRUDGE).
Look, you don’t go to a Dark Castle film and complain about mere derivation. The company was founded on remakes, and it proved that it could hit a home run even with the well-worn “bad seed” concept (ORPHAN). And even during their very worst films (I’m thinking of RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL in particular), I could still muster up sufficient enthusiasm to say “Well, THAT scene was pretty good” here and there.
But first-time feature director Todd Lincoln brings no spark of originality or inspiration to this table whatsoever. This is no celebration of time-honored horror staples–it’s nothing more than a bone-weary rehash of a handful of films that made money over the past decade or so. Dark Castle and Warner Brothers should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for releasing it; and I can only guess that they were banking on the presence of Ms. Greene to bring in the TWILIGHT audience and to keep fans happy with her revealing outfits during the first half hour. Yes, she’s nice on the eyes, but how much do you expect to get from a PG-13 feature? That in itself doesn’t cut it.
By the way, the “other side” looks like an abandoned CostCo, and the creepiest part of the trailer was actually the final shot of the film. Er, I mean, SPOILER ALERT! Sorry about that.
THE ABOMINATION (which would prefer to call itself THE APPARITION) is utterly useless and worthless. Need I say more?
1994, Acclaimed, Black Comedy, Controversial, Depraved, Don Murphy, Graphic Violence, Humor, Insane, Jane Hamsher, Juliette Lewis, L7, Mallory, Mass Murderer, Mickey, Mushroom, Natural Born Killers, Nine Inch Nails, Oliver Stone, Prison Break OUt, Quentin Tarantino, Rape, Robert Downey Jr., Rodney Dangerfield, Satire, Serial Killer, Shocking, Shoot Out, Sick, Social Values, Survey, Tabloid, Test Screening, Tom Sizemore, Tommy Lee Jones, Torture, Twisted, Warner Brothers, Woody Harrelson
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the test screening process that Hollywood studios engage in to see if a film is “playing” or not… but have you ever actually seen what one of the surveys look like?
Here is the official 1994 test screening survey that Warner Bros. gave to myself (and others) to see how we felt about Oliver Stone’s (still) controversial film, “Natural Born Killers.”
FYI: You will probably have to download the picture in order to zoom in properly. (Oh, and that trailer–pulled one day after debuting in front of “Forrest Gump.”)