Monday, August 26, 2013

The Council Has Spoken!

This week's results for the Watcher's Council vote are in, they've been posted over at Watcher of Weasels.  The winning council entry for the week was "What The Media Won’t Tell You About What’s Really Going On In Egypt" by Joshuapundit, and the winning non-council entry for the week was Walter Russell Mead's post "Bambi Meets Godzilla in the Middle East" over at The American Interest.  Congrats!

Update: Last week's winners can be found here.

Update: Stupid me, I neglected to notice this great writeup that Joshuapundit did to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Watcher's Council.  Happy belated anniversary!  Man, I feel so old.  :-(

Update: Thanks for the honorable mention!

Enough with the remakes, already!

Hollywood has always loved doing remakes because it's so much easier than coming up with an original idea; however, all the remaking of movies and rebooting of franchises seems to have really gotten out of hand in recent years.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all remakes are bad.  It's just that there have been so many, and the good ones have been so few and far between.

Tim Burton's Batman was great, but Batman Returns was a pretty weak followup.  I like Tim Burton, but he's not someone you want heading up a franchise; his obsession with originality renders him utterly incapable of making two movies that can both exist within the same logical universe.  Tim Burton was then replaced by Joel Shumacher, who decided to turn Gotham City into a gay disco for some reason.  (I'm not just complaining about the nipples on the Batsuit, either.  He turned the Batmobile into a giant glowing dildo on wheels, for crying out loud.)  If there was ever a franchise that needed to make a fresh start, this was it.  With Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan showed us how to do it right.

One bad thing about a remake that gets it so right is that other people who put no thought into how great movies are actually made tend to fool themselves into thinking they could have easily done the same, and then they run out to make half-assed remakes of a hundred other things.

Another part of the problem is that more and more movies are being made based on comic books, and at some point studio execs got the stupid idea into their heads that the movies themselves should be treated more like comic books.  But they aren't the same, not to me.  If DC and Marvel want to keep reinventing their entire universes at the drop of a hat, that's fine, but please leave my movies alone, at least for a reasonable amount of time.  Please let them breathe a while and at least try to figure out what went wrong (and right) with them before you start remaking them.

Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 were both great films, but I have no idea what the hell Sam Raimi was thinking when he made Spider-Man 3.  I also don't understand what Columbia Pictures was thinking when they green-lit The Amazing Spider-Man.  I can understand wanting to start over, but why so soon, and why use a director whose prior experience comes mainly from directing music videos?

A lot of people like to dump on Ang Lee's Hulk; it did have its problems, but it's still a much better movie in my opinion than Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk.  The final confrontation at the end of Ang Lee's film made very little sense, but the rest of it was well done, and the casting was spot on.  Louis Leterrier on the other hand got almost nothing right in his film.  The backstory and exposition were badly bungled, just about every single joke fell flat, and there was no chemistry at all between Edward Norton and Liv Tyler.  (In fairness to Leterrier, some of these problems probably stemmed from Edward Norton's insistence on rewriting the script, but then why not just cast someone less meddlesome, like Eric Bana?  Really, they should have just made a sequel to Hulk that glossed over that film's problems while setting up whatever they needed to set up for The Avengers.)

And now everyone is freaking out about the news that Ben Affleck was chosen to play Batman in the next Superman movie, Batman vs. Superman.  Some of this probably comes from bitterness over Daredevil, but I think a lot of people are just apprehensive about the possibility of seeing Batman get Schumachered again, especially so soon after finally seeing the franchise reach its pinnacle.  People might also be a little leery about the idea of putting Batman in a sequel to a movie that probably shouldn't have been made in the first place.  (I haven't seen Man of Steel for myself yet, but I heard it wasn't very good.)

It'd be nice to see Christopher Nolan take off his executive producer hat for a bit and go back to directing.  I'd love to see him make a Nightwing movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a followup to his Batman trilogy; unfortunately, Nolan has said more than once that he wants his trilogy to remain a trilogy, so a Nightwing movie probably isn't in the cards.  But then why is Nolan attached as executive producer for Batman vs. Superman?  Does it mean they are planning to depart from Nolan's trilogy as much as possible in order to draw some arbitrary distinction?  I hope not, I don't think anything good can come from that.  I'd really hate to see Nolan end up being the worst thing to happen to Batman since Schumacher after having already been the best thing to happen to Batman since Burton.

Update: I'm really not a fan of The Atlantic, but I thought Nicholas Slayton had an interesting take on the potential problems surrounding Batman vs. Superman.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Council Has Spoken!

This week's results for the Watcher's Council vote are in, they've been posted over at Watcher of Weasels.  The winning council entry for the week was "Ropes Of Sand – Why The Latest Round Of MidEast ‘Peace Talks’ Will End In Failure" by Joshuapundit, and the winning non-council entry for the week was Michael Gurfinkiel's post "You Only Live Twice. Is there a future for Jewish communities in Europe?" over at Mosaic Magazine.  Congrats!

Update:  Last week's winners can be found here.