Friday, January 31, 2014

Batman vs. Superman casting continues to get worse (and worse)

If casting is any indication, 2016’s Batman vs. Superman movie is going to be a colossal mess.

We’re talking a bomb of epic proportions here.

We’re talking Gigli bad, the Lone Ranger bad, (shudder) Howard the Duck bad.

An argument can be made about the legitimacy of Henry Cavill as Superman – even though this will be his second time in the role. All I can say about Cavill is that he’s better than Brandon Routh – so he’s not the absolutely worst person they could have cast. I’m not a particular fan of last year’s Superman revamp – but Cavill was the least of my problems with that movie.

A few months ago, the world of geeks everywhere was shaken to the core when it was announced that Batman would now be played by Ben Affleck. Fans across the world revolted – and in really whiny and obnoxious ways.

Personally, I am not an Affleck hater. I think he’s actually a good actor and he’s a great director. I’ve enjoyed all his performances in Kevin Smith films, I still cry in guilty pleasure Armageddon when he’s saying goodbye to Bruce Willis and his turn as real life Superman portrayer George Reeves was stellar. He is not Batman, though.

Did the people in charge of casting this flick even see Daredevil?

I’ve always been a Batman fan more than a Superman fan – although, at my heart – I’m really an Incredible Hulk fan. That’s an entirely different franchise, though – one that was cast a whole lot better, in my opinion.

I remember seeing 1989's Batman in theaters and being blown away. Sure, I was 14, but I absolutely loved that movie. I was a fan of the follow-up, Batman Returns, as well – even though it was darker (and a whole lot weirder). When Val Kilmer stepped into the rubber suit I wasn’t exactly thrilled, but since I had a crush on Chris O’Donnell at the time, I still liked Batman Forever.

Even I can’t find anything redeemable about Batman and Robin so let’s just forget that film even exists. Although, that movie is an example of George Clooney being a great actor but being horribly miscast – much like Affleck.
When the series was rebooted several years ago, I thought Christian Bale was a solid choice for the role. I think he did a pretty good job, even though he was ridiculously moody (and Bale’s offscreen antics wear me out sometimes). I think the problems with the final Dark Knight movie had nothing to do with Bale and everything to do with plot contrivances and a weak villain.

So, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think I’m unnecessarily harsh or rigid when it comes to Batman movies. I still think Affleck is the absolute worst choice out there for that role, though.
That’s a funny statement from me, since I would rather have 10 Afflecks in the film than one Gal Gadot.

I’m not going to lie, the only thing I have seen Gadot in is the Fast and Furious flicks – which are a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s been years since Wonder Woman was on any type of screen in the flesh, though, so why the casting director picked Gadot – a walking twig with the charisma of a Q-tip (one that’s already been used to remove wax from your ear) – is beyond me.

Seriously, Gadot made the muscle-bound meatheads of the Fast and Furious movies – we’re talking Vin Diesel and The Rock here – look like Oscar-winning thespians she was so bad.

I didn’t think the movie could get any worse. Then came word they were pushing back the release
date by a year. To me, that’s pretty much admitting the movie might be in trouble.

Then, today, another casting jewel dropped. They’ve cast Lex Luthor. It’s Jesse Eisenberg. Who? Yeah, the guy from The Social Network and Zombieland. A talented actor, for sure, but one that is far too young – and without the gravitas – to play Lex Luthor.

It’s like the casting director for Batman vs. Superman is just sitting around at his desk wondering who he can cast in a role to really tick people off. How about Justin Bieber as Robin? Miley Cyrus as Catwoman? Lindsay Lohan as Harley Quinn? Gary Busey as Two-Face? Tara Reid as Vicki Vale? That sounds about as good as what’s already been done here.

I honestly don’t know what the filmmakers have in mind for this movie – but I’m starting to think I’ll be waiting for it to come out on Blu-Ray to find out. Frankly, this doesn’t sound like “must see” casting to me.

What do you think? Exactly how bad is this movie going to be?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Rick Hearst is back -- but that's not really a fix for continuity problems

The Returns Rollercoaster keeps on flying over at General Hospital with the announcement this week that Rick Hearst is returning.

In my opinion, Ric Lansing should have never left the show. He had strong ties to Alexis and Sonny, but when Bob Guza was in charge every character was sacrificed on the altar of Sonny, Carly and Jason – including Ric -- at one time or another.

Ric’s return could prove interesting. Not only is he Molly’s father and the only man that has ever really held Alexis’ heart, but I have a feeling he’s going to have ties to the Jerome crime organization – pitting him against his barware throwing brother again.

On a side note, Ric is also Liz’s ex and – if the rumors of AJ leaving (again) are true -- he is a possible love interest for her. A Liz/Ric/Alexis/Julian quadrangle has all sorts of potential.

While I’m excited about Ric’s return – and still angry about the exits of Robert and Robin – that doesn’t change the fact that GH is overloaded right now.

I hate to keep harping on momentum – but I’m still going to do it. There is not one story on GH right now that has sustained momentum. Not one. Just when you feel yourself getting into a story then BAM it’s off the television for two weeks. That’s not how to build an audience and keep it.

Kimberly McCullough and Tristan Rogers brought great ratings with their returns. If GH wants to hold on to those ratings, they’ve got to do a better job on the writing front.

So, let’s look at this logically. What are the big stories that are drawing in the bigger chunks of the cast?

1. The Jerome Mafia Story. Sure, not everyone likes mob stories. In the past, I would agree with this.
Julian is a legacy character, though. Making him Sam’s father was a stroke of writing genius. Tying Silas to the Jerome family was also smart. This brings in Duke, Anna, Alexis, probably Ric, Molly, etc. Like or hate the story, it has a good umbrella and involves a great many important characters. That being said, and as much as I love Maura West, I’m starting to get tired of Ava and her magical powers of persuasion. Why does anyone in this town believe her? And her pathetic pining for Silas is starting to rub me the wrong way – all the while she’s also getting all emotional about a teenager. It’s just gross and West deserves better. Maybe trying pairing Ava with Luke or something? They have a lot of potential. As for Julian himself, it is a little hard to fear the mob boss that tattles to the police commissioner about her boyfriend. Is that supposed to be menacing?

2. The Cassidine Resurgence. Sure, we haven’t seen this play out yet. Victor’s return, though, draws in the Scorpios, the Spencers, Nikolas, Alexis, Sam, etc. We’ll have to see the way it plays out, but this story has a lot of potential and a lot of history on its side. I’m sure we’re going to see Britt’s kidnapping of Lulu and Dante’s kid arc over this storyline as well – and we know Victor is somehow playing in to Robin’s departure. He’s probably going to blackmail her, at least that’s my guess, with the life of someone she cares about. Maybe an offscreen Robert? Maybe a not-so-dead Jason? We’ll have to wait and see.

3. The Carly Kidnapping. I’m not going to lie. I’m so sick of Heather I want to choke her with a BLT.
Believing that she can just wander in and out of a psychiatric hospital when she gets out stretches the limits of my credulity. I know this is being used as a way to make Franco the victim – so fans will start pulling for him – but I don’t think that’s going to work. That being said, I like Kin Shriner and Roger Howarth when they’re on screen together. I’m never going to be a fan of Franco, but I’m always going to be a fan of both those actors. In addition, Laura Wright and Howarth do have smoking chemistry. The problem is, we have to believe Carly has had a lobotomy if we get behind her relationship with Franco. So I’m still really torn on this.

Those are the big three stories right now. What you have pulling at the fringes are some crappier stories that are dragging things down. The Sabrina pregnancy story is just painful to watch. It’s a retread of a story we saw less than a year ago and it makes Patrick look like the biggest tool in Port Charles. I love Jason Thompson, so I’m so sad to see him saddled with this story.

The teen angst doesn’t work because there’s no chemistry between any of these kids.

Lucy and Scotty are smoking hot, but they’re on so rarely that I forget they’re even in town sometimes – and Felicia and Mac seem to have their whole story revolving around Lucy and Kevin’s marriage (now that Maxie is out of town).

I still can’t decide how I feel about Nathan. He’s hot, but the actor is a little wooden and he’s really annoying in a lot of scenes. Maybe the writers should have tried slowly introducing him instead of shoving him down our throats. That’s where they went wrong with Sabrina’s introduction – and they apparently didn’t learn from that mistake.

Obrecht as the chief of staff is just one big cluster of stupidity. I like the actress. I like the character. Couldn’t the writers have found a different way to keep the character around besides this? For us to believe that GH would hire this woman than we also have to believe that every person there is an idiot. It’s just so forced.

Basically, it comes down to this: I know I sound like a broken record on the momentum front. It’s just really bothering me. I want GH to last for as long as possible, but if things are starting to push me to tune out – and I’ve been watching for what feels like forever – I’ve got to wonder if other longtime viewers are also feeling the same way.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Is plot or character more important?

News that Kimberly McCullough was leaving wasn’t exactly a surprise.

Most fans guessed it when she agreed to return.

I think the surprise is that Jason Thompson is staying. I know I thought he was probably out the door with McCullough.

We don’t know how Robin will exit yet. According to McCullough, though, fans are going to hate it.

We’ve already heard some fan fiction about Robin being locked up at Shadybrooke because of post traumatic stress and Anna breaking her out and sending her off after Robert.

Personally? I don’t believe that for a second. Ron Carlivati has show he has no idea how Robin should be written, but I honestly don’t think he’d be dumb enough to go that far.

The truth is, there’s no feasible way that Robin would leave town without her daughter. If we’re made to believe Patrick and Robin are sharing custody of Emma while Robin is off canvas (like Carly and Jax) then maybe I’ll buy it. If Robin leaves town and doesn’t see Emma, I’m not going to buy that for a second.

I’m at an uncomfortable place with General Hospital right now. I don’t believe in dropping a show
because you lose one character. Robin leaving again, though, just may be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I love a lot of what RC has done, don’t get me wrong. We’re seeing vets that were sacrificed during Bob Guza’s reign of terror – and I’m eternally grateful for that. That doesn’t fix the mistakes, though.
I knew that RC was sinking when he wrote the terrible aftermath of Patrick and Sabrina’s non-wedding. There were plot holes big enough to drive the Haunted Star through in that story.

The truth is Kimberly McCullough and Tristan Rogers both helped bring GH’s ratings drastically up. Does RC think that fans will stay afterwards? Especially for writing like this?

The best writers in the world are character driven writers. RC is a plot driven writer. Every story he writes is just a series of beats until the next series of beats. That’s why we never got Patrick even appearing to care what had happened to Robin. Instead, the day after his aborted wedding, he was back at work because they needed him there for a plot beat to go looking for Sabrina.

RC doesn’t know how to write character driven stories. That’s why we have AJ running around drunk again (and we’re inundated with rumors that Sean Kanan is on his way out – again). RC promised fans the revitalization of the Quartermaines. Instead, we keep getting more and more stunt casting on an already bloated cast.

Just last week RC was touting “big casting news.” To GH fans that meant Genie Francis was coming back, or Jack Wagner, or they’d somehow managed to snag Tristan Rogers long-term.

Instead we got Donna Mills coming in. Who? If it was the 1980s you might know (or care) who she
is. Now? That’s pretty much akin to finding out that Richard Grieco is being cast as Sonny’s brother. It’s 20 years past being important.

When I sit down and really think about what I’m invested in on General Hospital right now, it’s a short list. It starts at Anna, winds around to Alexis, makes a shot stop on Spoon Island with Nikolas, winds back to Sam and ends in Lucyville.

I do not care about Ava Jerome. I love Maura West, but I’d much rather see Laura, Felicia or Lucy than Ava. Watching a grown woman freak out of a teenage boy isn’t hot – it’s pathetic.

I do not care about Silas’ sudden wife. I like Silas and I like him with Sam – but I don’t think he needs more backstory at the expense of other characters.

I certainly don’t care about BLT-obsessed Heather and her mutant offspring.

I don’t care about Olivia, her visions or her chemistry-free encounters with Sonny.

I don’t care about shrill Lulu and her sudden obsession with cheating on her husband because he told the truth in court.

I don’t care about Sabrina – no matter how much RC tries to prop her. You’re never going to make me like her. She could suddenly pull a lightsaber out of her pocket and start fighting the evil lords of the Sith and I’m never going to like her. It’s too late. The character was fumbled out of the gate. Now I hate her and the more you prop her the more I hate her.

I do like Lucas but I know he’s going to be thrown in a triangle with Brad and Felix – both of whom I hate – so I’m really worried about having to watch that.

I do like Nathan, but he’s apparently earmarked for Shrewlu until Maxie returns – setting up another
triangle between the two – and I’m not interested in watching two women fight over the same man.

And, as much as I love Obrecht, believing she's the new chief of staff is so insulting to fans it's like a smack in the face. There were other ways to keep her on the canvas, kicking the fans in the crotch and laughing at them with a plot contrivance is not one of them.

RC has the tools to make GH great, but the dead weight has to be cut and the storylines have to be streamlined. And, RC has to do start focusing on character instead of plot.

I won’t say I’ll stop watching when Robin and Robert are gone – but I will give it some serious thought.

What do you think? What parts of the writing do you like right now? Which parts do you hate?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES: Ten things I learned from the Friday the 13th documentary

I love horror movies.

I love good horror movies.

I love bad horror movies.

I love ridiculous horror movies.

No horror movie franchise, though, is the equal to the Friday the 13th franchise for me.

I’m not 100 percent sure why Friday the 13th is my favorite. As a standalone, I prefer the first Halloween movie to all other slasher movies – and yet, as a series, I gravitate towards Friday the 13th.

I guess that’s why, when I stumbled across Crystal Lake Memories – the 6.5-hour documentary series based on the book of the same name – I was understandably intrigued.

I’ve seen documentaries on Friday the 13th before – but nothing compares to this thing. It took me three nights to watch it – and it was well worth the time.

Not only is it well presented, but the producers managed to get so many stars from the movies in for interviews that I was genuinely flabbergasted. We’re talking people that had basically fallen off the face of the Earth in the intervening years from the time between their movie until today.

So, what are the top then things I learned from Crystal Lake Memories:

10. The character of Jason was recast multiple times in multiple movies. Kane Hodder, who played Friday the 13th Part VII, Friday the 13th Part VIII, Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X is the actor that donned the mask the most times. Fans are still up in arms that he was not cast as Jason in Freddy vs. Jason – and Hodder himself says he’s a little bit bitter about it.
Jason in

9. There seems to be some ongoing argument – between various parties – about whether or not Jason Goes to Hell or Jason X is the worst entry in the franchise. I’m here to tell you, Jason Goes to Hell is hilariously bad and full of plot contrivances. Jason X might be out there, but at least it’s fun. There’s nothing fun about Jason Goes to Hell – except the final shot of Freddy’s hand (really Kane Hodder wearing the Freddy glove) sucking the hockey mask down to hell.

8. A lot of cast members have died throughout the years, but the big surprise for me was that the producers of the documentary managed to get Jennifer Cooke for an interview. Cooke was in Friday the 13th Part VI and, before that, she was Elizabeth in V: The Series. After a few guest-starring roles in the 1980s, Cooke virtually fell off the map. There were a lot of online rumors about her – including her participation in a cult – but I’m happy to say she seemed both healthy and effervescent during her interviews. She didn’t talk about what she had been doing in the intervening years, but she had definitely aged a lot better than some of the other actresses in the series.

7. At least three different actresses were “replaced” because they refused to do nudity. In one case, the actress (Darcy DeMoss) that was replaced showed up in a different role in the next film (where they asked her to do nudity again). Apparently, there were a lot of women out there that thought they could argue the producers out of the nudity when it came time to film – but the producers were always adamant: A Friday the 13th movie IS going to have nudity. 

6. At a certain point, every Friday the 13th movie was supposed to be the last. The original movie was supposed to be a standalone without a sequel. The third movie was also supposed to be the last movie – as was the fourth movie, which actually killed Jason off. While Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, was supposed to take the franchise in a new direction, fans were so disgusted with it the director is still derided as an “amateur” to this day. My philosophy is: At least there was ambiance in the fifth movie. Jason turning into a deformed kid because of toxic waste in the eighth movie was the biggest insult to cinema in the franchise.

5. The actors and behind-the-scenes people interviewed regarding the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot were not exactly happy with the fans. Some complained that the movie didn’t do as well as it should have because the fans were constantly badmouthing it. One of the actresses even said that if fans wanted the old Friday the 13th, they should watch those movies and stop badmouthing the reboot. Here’s a hint, you’re not going to win any friends if you say things like that. And here’s a hard fact: Most horror reboots bite. Sure, there are a few that aren’t terrible. Friday the 13th, though, falls into the terrible realm (still better than A Nightmare on Elm Street, though). Even if you want to ignore Jason running around the woods like a moron – something that deviates from the original series – Jason certainly wouldn’t be wandering around protecting a pot field or setting “traps” in the woods with little bells. Pffft.

4. Steve Dash, one of the actors that played Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, said he hated Corey Feldman from the day he met him. He said he was arrogant and troublesome and he didn’t want anything to do with him. He also said that there were times – even when he wasn’t playing Jason  – that he wanted to do bodily harm to Feldman. Just for a point of reference, Feldman was a relatively small child in the flick.

3. The original script for Freddy vs. Jason was to revolve around both Freddy and Jason being Hell’s assassins – and their fight to the death was a way for one of them to remain on Earth and the other to be sucked down to hell. Thankfully, that idea was scrapped early on. Movie producers and directors admit that they were scared to make either one of the movie villains a clear winner – that’s why Jason gets Freddy’s head – but Freddy gets the wink – at the end of the movie. The original ending – which was filmed – had Jason Ritter’s character becoming the new Freddy six months after the events of the main movie. I’m thinking the wink was a better ending.

2. The end of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives was supposed to have an entirely different ending – one that would have knocked the entire franchise off kilter. The original scripted ending showed a dark figure paying off the cemetery caretaker (who didn’t die in the original script) to take care of his son’s grave – and they were standing in front of Jason’s tombstone. The writers involved with the project said they wanted to show that Jason got his homicidal tendencies from both sides. That ending was scrapped and never filmed.

1. Jason existing at all is something of a fluke. The only reason that the character of Jason was even
introduced at the end of the first movie – which is the one where Pamela Voorhees is offing camp counselors (with a little prodding from her imaginary friend in her head) – was that Sean Cunningham wanted one more scare. The final scene, where a childlike Jason jumps from the water and attacks Alice was meant to signify a dream sequence and nothing else. Jason himself was never intended to be an actual villain in the franchise. Sean Cunningham's son was supposed to portray the childlike Jason, but his mother nixed the idea. He admits he's still ticked about it.

What do you think? What’s your favorite horror movie franchise?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

GENERAL HOSPITAL: New year, same old pacing problems

It may be a new year in Port Charles, but I’ve got the same old complaint: Pacing.

Ron Carlivati takes a lot of heat (and then freaks out about it on Twitter) for being a bad writer. I don’t actually think he’s a bad writer. I do think, however, that Carlivati has seriously dropped the ball on a few things.

Carlivati has done some really great things for General Hospital, including bringing back Anna and putting her front and center, giving the vets actual screen time and launching a great umbrella story with the Jeromes.

That doesn’t mean I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, because Carlivati has done some incredibly stupid stuff, as well.

I’m still waiting for Patrick to ask Robin about her time away. Instead, he’s asked her to have a baby and is pressuring her to return to work a mere five weeks after he found out she was alive. Really? How does that make any sense? This is in between him running around and worrying about Sabrina, a woman that wasn’t held hostage and subjected to electro-shock therapy for two years.

Carlivati is so obsessed with propping Sabrina that he took all the momentum he had gained out of
Robin’s return and completely fumbled it. Fans that tuned back in because they loved Robin are quickly tuning back out because Carlivati has made the entire story about Sabrina.

And now we have to deal with a Sabrina pregnancy? Really? Who didn’t see that coming? It was about as obvious as the fact that Britt was carrying Lulu and Dante’s child from the minute she showed up at the Nurse’s Ball pregnant.

If Carlivati wants fans to stop hating Sabrina, this isn’t the way to do it. Fans hate Sabrina because she was shoved down our throats. This story isn’t remedying that situation – it’s just trying to force her further down our throats and lodging her in our stomachs.

As furious as I am about the Robin situation, though, I’m even angrier about the A.J. situation.
A.J.’s return was touted as the revitalization of the Quartermaines. He had entertaining snipefests with Carly and Sonny and a ridiculously cute romance with Liz brewing. Then he was off our screens for months. And now? A.J. is walking around drinking again, with no one in his orbit. How is that entertaining?

Is this the great Q-Revitalization of 2013 that we were promised? And where is Liz is all this? She’s just dusted off to snipe at Britt or prop Sabrina (both Carlivati creations) on a bi-weekly basis, quite frankly. We see her more than Alexis, though, so I guess we should be thankful.

On the flip side, we (finally) are getting some traction in the Silas and Sam story after it languished
on the back burner for months (and months and months). I have a feeling that new cop Nathan (who is ridiculously hot) is somehow tied to Silas’ wife (perhaps a brother?) and we’re going to get some in-depth history on Silas. That’s been a long time coming, though.

Unfortunately, that’s been intermixed with crazy Heather holding someone (this time Carly) hostage again (because that’s a new story), another mob shootout and the world’s most boring teen scene.

I don’t like pushing for people to lose their jobs, but GH has got to cut the cast down if they want to have any sort of sustained momentum in any story. There are easy cuts that can be made at the onset. Ellie and Spinelli are already gone, which is one easy cut. Now Taylor, Rafe and TJ can follow. After that, we can add Olivia, Felix and Sabrina. The cast is still too big, even with those cuts, but that at least kicks things off.

The big cut, though, can come with Franco.

I’m sorry. I adore Roger Howarth. Why they decided to bring him back as Franco is beyond me. Most fans are never going to get behind this character. Ever. Period.

I will never understand why they didn’t bring Howarth back as a Cassidine - -especially in light of Victor’s upcoming return. That was just a huge error in judgment.

What do you think? Are you as annoyed with the pacing issues as I am?