The Sh– To Just Sh–ty… Ranking Nerd TV Producers

Nerds love nerds.  Even the candy.

But nerds also hate nerds, and no one more nerdy than a nerd can properly slam another nerd.  You know the old nerd adage:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

There’s one exception to that:

Nerds’ words hurt nerds worst.

What I plan to examine here is a gaggle of famous nerd TV (and film) producers (and writers), and do what every nerd dares to do to others, but fears to have done to them — rank them as TV producers… from The Shit To Just Shitty.

THE SHIT (EXPECTED)

Joss Whedon

WHAT HE’S DONE: Firefly… plus DollhouseBuffy, and Angel if you’re into those as well

WHAT HE HASN’T DONE: Screwed over his fans.  Whedon is such a fanboy nerd, he took his box office failure of a movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and created two long-running shows from that; he also took a failed TV show, Firefly, and wrapped up its story in a movie (Serenity)!  BONUS: Fans have a lot of faith in his upcoming film, The Avengers, because of his previous writing credits in comics (The Astonishing X-Men) and earlier screenplay efforts (in whole or in part) for Toy Story, Speed, and one of my favorites, Waterworld.

THE SHIT (UNEXPECTED)

Bryan Fuller

WHAT HE’S DONE: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies

WHAT HE HASN’T DONE: Stayed with Heroes.  He wrote the series best episode, Company Man, which fleshed-out Horned Rim Glasses in a fantastic way that the show could never replicate, and in many ways, would even abandon.  Having characters that make sense?  Heroes would never stoop so low.

KINDA THE SHIT

Rob Thomas

WHAT HE’S DONE: Veronica Mars and Party Down

WHAT HE HASN’T DONE: Enough.  More please!

USED TO BE THE SHIT

You know who this is...

WHAT HE’S DONE: Amazing Stories, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, ER, and later, Band of Brothers

WHAT HE HASN’T DONE: Lived up to producing anything up to the caliber those shows: Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid, Toonsylvania, Falling Skies, and Terra Nova?  Smash and The River sound no better…

JUST SHITTY

J.J. Abrams

WHAT HE’S DONE: Felicity, LOST, What About Brian, Six Degrees, Undercovers, Person of Interest, and the upcoming Alcatraz

WHAT HE HASN’T DONE: Shit on me.  LOST might not have been all his fault, but the supernatural element was his suggestion.  I didn’t include Alias or Fringe because I haven’t seen them… but if you read this blog regularly (I doubt it) or know me (know one I know reads this), click here to see how I feel about LOST

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In My Brain While Sleeping… CGI Oprah In “Oprah: The Life Of Oprah”

Motion capture is one of the laziest inventions in cinema ever.  It’s advanced rotoscoping for all intents and purposes.  (You can click on the links if you don’t know what any of that means.)

AnyCGI, I had a weird dream that Steven Spielberg was working with Oprah Winfrey to make a film version of her life story.  The catch?  She’d play herself throughout using motion capture.  This is my (Not So) Artistic Representation of how she would look as a child:

She appears more alien than child. Whoops. Which should work for Spielberg...

(Original image after the jump) Read More

The Sh– To Just Sh–ty… Fantasy Movies

NOTE: Everything that follows is my opinion… and it’s all fact.

Fantasy movies are geared toward the audience that longs to be whisked away, and that’s namely the pre-teens of this world.  The reason why they are so susceptible: there’s still imagination (child-like wonder) remaining in their brains.  Any adult that is too into fantasy films obviously has a mental/social disorder (hello PotHeads and Twihards)…

I’m not meaning to be mean.  I’m merely meaning to get to the bottom of why fantasy films don’t do it for me anymore.

Growing up, I loved Clash of the Titans, The Beastmaster, The Dark Crystal, Gremlins, Tron, The Princess Bride, and some movies had to deal with a Star War or a few. There were others that I couldn’t quite get into like Legend and Labyrinth, but I always felt they were more for the young ladies (for the record, The Princess Bride was being read to Kevin Arnold Fred Savage).

Outside of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (it’s insanely absurd and clever), when I was turning thirteen, Willow wasn’t even cutting it anymore.  If I was going to like a dopey fantasy movie, it had something else going for it, such as my crush on Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands or me still being a fan of Steven Spielberg when he made Hook.

Let’s use The Neverending Story trilogy (yes there were three – and a TV show) to reiterate:

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

The first film released in 1984: AWE-SOME (hyphen added for pause worthy emphasis).

The second film released in 1990: (Avoid making tasteless joke about Jonathan Brandis, avoid making tasteless joke about Jonathan Brandis, avoid making tasteless joke about Jonathan Brandis…)

The third film released in 1994: Really?!  Highlights from an IMDB review:

I cannot begin to describe how awful this movie is… NES3, for lack of a better term, sucks.  The storyline was as unimaginative and vapid as you could hope for… After the fart jokes and potty humor commenced, I just couldn’t take it any longer.  My advice is don’t wast your time and ruin your childhood memories with this piece of refuse.

Now I don’t count superhero movies or animated films because they’ve almost attained the status of having their own genre.  Outside of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, what do you have left to defend?  The Mummy films?  Van Helsing?  (Not fair – those are mostly Stephen Sommers‘ pieces of crap.)  Okay, then.  MirrorMask?  Eragon?  Beowulf?  Lady in the Water?!  Stardust and Coraline were even kind of meh.

(SIDENOTE: I will give props to The Last Mimzy, The Bridge to Terebithia, and Big Fish for tugging my heart strings, 300 for being new, and the first Pirates of the Caribbean for the laughs. Am I missing any others?)

Ultimately, have fantasy films declined from being the shit to just shitty, or am I just getting old?  I guess the proof will be in the pudding (sorry for the oldtimer-y expression) when the following films get remade or updated:

(FINAL SIDENOTE: I really, really, really, seriously hope that M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t fuck up The Last Airbender.  I looooove that cartoon.  That ended it’s run.  On Nickelodeon.  Just last year.  Stop looking at me that way!  I don’t have that serious of a mental/social disorder!  Use this blog as proof!)

The Sh– To Just Sh–ty… Filmmaker Chris Columbus

I know he created you, but he also wrote "Christmas with the Kranks"

I know he created you, but he also wrote "Christmas with the Kranks"

As a child, my list of favorite films was simple and current.  There were the easy ones: Star Wars, E.T., Back to the Future, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Some of the others… not so easy: Gremlins, The Goonies, and Adventures in Babysitting.

What do those works have in common?

Who has two thumbs and loves Beth Cooper? Not too many movie goers, I'd say.

Who has two thumbs and loves Beth Cooper? Not too many movie goers, I'd say.

Steven Spielberg’s protégè, nay, discovery (hah!),  Chris Columbus wrote Gremlins and The Goonies, and directed Adventures in Babysitting.  For me, he could do no wrong, and let’s be honest: as kids, our taste is horrible.  But I feel all three of these films have stood the test of time.  Some of his other works?  Eh, not so much:

  • Young Sherlock Holmes (noted as the first film with an entirely CG character)
  • Heartbreak Hotel (a kid kidnaps Elvis… anyone else but me remember this?)
  • Only the Lonely (made me thankful I wasn’t a mama’s boy… sorry mama)

Now grant it – he had other hits through the 90’s: Home Alone 1 & 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, and, um, Nine Months?  Jingle All the Way?  Stepmom?  Bicentennial Man?

And to most Potter fans, he directed the weakest films in the series (Harry Potter and the Stuff in the First Movie and Harry Potter Rides Again), but I don’t watch those films, so I don’t hold it against him.

Like his compatriots I will be attacking in future The Shit to Just Shitty’s, it’s about the fall from what imagination, vision, and drive they once exhibited, to the money grubbing, the disillusionment, or the detachment from the public they display in recent works.  Is it the state of the studio system?  Is it the movie going public’s demands?  I offer no answers, only martyrs.

Here’s hoping *hold your breath* *cross your fingers* Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (that’s the title folks), contains some of the gritty charm of his earlier works, and not the glossy finish of his latest offerings:

Hrm.  Looks glossy…

JusWondering… Are Orci And Kurtzman Running A Pyramid Scheme?

Devastatoring

Great Pyramid? How about Mediocre instead...

There’s been plenty of chatter on the TripleDoubleU regarding the new Travesty Transformers movie.  I’ve not only made a slight mention here on this site, but I’ve voiced my opinion on Topless Robot’s threads as well.  The big debacle over the films many weaknesses boils down to this question:

Who’s fault is it?

As I’ve detailed above, depending upon the director, crap can transform into dysentary (see: pic above) or crap can screen flair (see: Star Trek).  In Hollywood, screenwriters have little to do with the final film, if anything with the process at all.  Haven’t you ever heard the blonde joke about the wannabe starlet sleeping with the writer?  Steve Martin even made light of this fact in his underrated Bowfinger.

Go-to-writers-du-jour Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are a lot like this candy-dispensing product:

Have a cow... pie, man!
Have a cow… pie, man!

Together, they’ve written the following films:

  • The Island
  • The Legend of Zorro
  • Mission: Impossible III
  • Transformers
  • Star Trek
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

And like that candy dispenser, each one is a jellybean that in retrospect reminds us of bovine dung.

Here’s the breakdown of each attempt at writing:

The Island was a rip-off of three 70’s sci-fi films (Logan’s Run, Parts: The Clonus Horror, and THX-1138), and it was directed by Michael Bay.  It was partly filmed in Detroit, and you can see a painted portrait of Steve Yzerman in the background at one point (plus Scarlett Johanssonthroughout), so to not be a complete hater – this flick is tolerable.  But only for those reasons.  Seriously, catch the older (schlocky) trio of sci-fi “classics” then watch The IslandBay and the Boys borrowed quickly and liberally.

Does anybody remember the Zorro sequel?  *crickets*crickets*

Mission: Impossible IIIwas competent (I still like the first one best).  Although he was kind of douchey when he directed the episode of Jimmy Kimmel he was on, JJ Abrams handled this film well enough.  I still believe the sequence where Tom Cruise chased the “Rabbit’s Foot” through the streets of Shanghai could have been longer, and Philip Seymour Hoffman could have been given more scenes to chew on (plus more Maggie Q).  Mission: Decently Distracted.

Transformers was the second re-teaming of the screenwriters and Bay.  It’s been said that producer Steven Spielberg placed emphasis on the fact that the film was ultimately about a boy and his alien (car).  And after five hours of CGI robot action, the first hour of the first film is still best.  Although, I do like seeing the Detroit landmarks in the final battle, so this film was also okay in my book, despite the lack of common sense and clearly defined action scenes.  Moral of the story: if Bay films in the Motor City, my criticism dwindles.  Moral of another story: Spielberg’s kind of losing his touch, eh?

Star Trek, also directed by JJ, was solid, but not perfect.  The origin story introduced some neat twists and surprises, but Kirk with puffy hands?!  Scotty going through water pipes?!  A tad amateurish (and the fault of the writers, I’d suspect).

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Third Turd of Bay and the Boys, was rushed to production.  They didn’t get anytime for a rewrite, and it sadly shows.  Sure, Bay might have made a lot of poor decisions (robot crying, robot humping, robot minstrels, robot balls), but the script’s plot made little sense.  (Why would the Prime’s have to sacrifice to hide the Matrix of Leadership instead of killing the Fallen?  Why would they hide it on Earth?  See the Topless Robot link above.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: if JJ Abrams made Transformers, imagine how “cool” it would be.  Then imagine if Michael Bay made Star Trek…  (It’s like that ending speech in A Time to Kill…)

Perhaps Orci and Kurtzman aren’t the worst screenwriters on the planet, but they need to branch out a bit more to tell for sure. 

(FINAL NOTE: JJ worked on the script for Bay’s Armageddon.  It was a fun ride that went on too long and pulled way too hard at the heart strings.  Srsly, how many things could possibly go wrong in trying to get off a space rock?  Apparently, everything.  More importantly: how was Armageddon a film in the Criterion Collection?!)

JusWondering… Do We Need 9, Nine, And District 9 When We Already Had The Nines?

I’m well aware that there’s been much ballyhoo about the fact that we’ll see a few movies this year that all have to deal with the Roman Numeral IX.  There’s three – count ’em, three – similarly named, though completely different, films:

And for the record, we already had a Ryan Reynolds flick (as if he’s a genre) two years ago that was called The Nines

What is it about understated titles that these filmmakers and producers find so appealing?  Does it save on toner?  Why couldn’t they have used different numbers, or even letters for that matter?  There are a lot of numbers and letters ripe for the plucking.

In the spirit of beating a dead horse, why don’t we take a look at a gallery of movie posters that kept the titles simple for the hearts and minds and marquee changers of America:

(IN CASE YOU DIDN’T NOTICE: Steven Spielberg has directed three of the above.)

JusWondering… Wait-And-See Sequels Worth The Wait To See?

A bit ago, IMDb ran this poll:

imdbpoll

Grant it the survey was held with tongue planted firmly at the back of the throat (I know they say ‘cheek’ normally, but it is ‘growing’ out of your throat like a plant… this was funnier and not as gross in my head).

Anyjohnhughes, as much as I would love to see Ferris Bueller’s Laid Off, it ain’t gonna happen.  As of now, not any one of those films have a chance – nay, a whisper – of development talk.

These on the other hand, these sequels have been chatted up dearly:

Why not?  We’ve already seen these guys ride a cheetah in the wrong direction, and spoke down with W.  And everybody knows National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was the best of Chevy Chase’s screen family’s exploits.  Too bad they never made that Swiss Family Griswold that Chevy promised.  Oops… they kinda did.

  • Ghostbusters 3 (maybe to start filming this Christmas) – I am afraid of part 2:

This movie is the childhood dream behind a fourth Indiana Jones movie.  Keep fucking Lucas and Spielberg away (should be easy since they had nothing to do with the first two), and let Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky’s script have room to glow.  The duo writes for The Office; The Office can be is funny.  Thank Gozer that Atari (wait… really, Atari?) got the Ecto-1 rolling on making a new video game based on the franchise.  That probably helped accelerate enthusiasm, and something something clever about waking ghosts.

Is Oliver Stone relevant?  The antithesis to the ‘Greed is good’ mantra from the first film certainly is alive and unwell.  And Michael Douglas isn’t doing anything except Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Greed certainly is good for the studios, but this long-not-so-awaited sequel is a little more The Two Jakes, than The Color of Money (neither is much of a compliment).  Wait… Shia LaBeouf is in it?  Are you sure he’s not too busy?

I remember wanting to skip a summer baseball game to see the original.  Would I want to skip a soccer game as an adult to see the sequel?  No.  But I would go see a midnight sneak preview afterwards.  Director Robert Zemeckis – reigning king of creepy CGI work in The Polar Express, Beowulf, and the upcoming A Christmas Carol (third holiday shout out on this post) – wants to include… creepy CGI.  Could be an interesting mash-up of styles, and could make for a neat-o picture.

Some rumored projects that will most likely never see the light of the darkened theater.  Never say never…