Tag Archives: Aladdin

We’ve seen it all before

That was the thought I got stuck with when I was looking at The Disappointments Room, a movie with Kate Beckinsale, shortly after I stopped watching it. Now, this was not the fault of anyone, not her (watching her is as pleasing to the eye as watching a Rembrandt), not the director, the lighting, the camera work, it was all high end good, yet the issue for me remains, I have seen at least 15,000 movies, so there is an issue with me watching more movies. Lately I have been taking notice of that, and with Kate who made her debut in Much Ado about Nothing (1993), a small part I had actually forgotten about, I remember the movie well. Implies that there is a sliding scale ahead for me and I am not happy.

There are still happy moments too, I loved Earthquake bird and was amazed that Alicia Vikander was so great at Japanese pronunciation, apart from that (and the fact that Lara married a Ubisoft character, LOL) made it an interesting ride, that is all before that the movie is one hell of a psychological drama, that includes some level of triangle relationship is pretty awesome, the fact that it plays in Japan is merely a plus for many (including me). That entire movie was an interesting one, we had all seen it before, but as we experience the setting, we see a movie, one that is for the most totally new, and there is a point where I wonder how the makers Wash Westmoreland and Susanna Jones pulled it off.

Was it all about Japan, was it Alicia in Japanese surrounding, or was it that for the most the movie was not laced in a sexual setting, there are 1-2 screens, but they seem to make sense as this was the relationship between two people. Yet in all that, the entire Japanese setting is overwhelming and we look around as we notice more and more differences, but what set it off? I believe that the script was a big part of it, but all movies have to face that, so what made this movie different, why did I not have the ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ feeling? I think it is important, as we are all running to the next Marvel movie, a remake of Charlie’s Angels or a Ford v Ferrari movie, I wonder what we will get next year, because it is becoming slim pickings for anyone who grew up being a movie fan. There are movie makers who are a given, people like Ridley Scott, who seem to be answering questions in the movies as they make the movies, a lot has been done before and some movie makers seem to distinguish themselves in that way, but the scary question for me remains, what comes next? Oh, I believe that we will see plenty of fine productions, but the overwhelming feeling that I have is that the ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ will return and that saddens me a little because it will not be the fault of the maker, or the actors or the actresses. It resides in me and all the movies I have already seen, that is the part that saddens me and it is laced in another part as well.

When we watched a movie (in a far distant past in this galaxy), my grandmother would comment on ‘How she had already seen that movie‘ whilst I was in the frame of mind that the movie was new, yet she was proven right again and again as these were remakes, it is nice to be in the first viewing of a remake, but I got old enough to have seen the original of whatever movie was re-released in the last 5 years so it is a little less fun for me now.

For me this is like watching the Female Ghostbusters, or the real live Aladdin, both movies have one setback, the original was pretty darn good, in the original Ghostbusters, we got to see special effects that until a few years ago no one surpassed, in addition to it all it was a great fun film to see, so the female version had a different ghost to fend off, and they were unable to, we kept comparing to the original, Will Smith faced that and worse in Aladdin, he had to fight of the ghost of Robin Williams, in addition Disney had taken the voice section to the next level and we all still remember Gilbert Gottfried as Iago, it is hard to fight off those ghosts, especially when the current generation still remembers them so well. It was different for Oceans 8, yes it was all female, yes it was linked to Danny Ocean (George Clooney) but that was it and the theft of a $150,000,000 necklace was truly next level shit (to coin a phrase) and I am avoiding all kinds of twists that the movie has, you have to see them for yourself, and James Corden was not a twist, the man really can act ;), and the ladies in the movie set out to plan a great heist.

To think back, I really have no idea who at Disney was stupid enough to invest and to allow the entire real live version of Aladdin to proceed decades too early. Although that is merely my thought on the matter, the movie did become a billion dollar plus movie, so there is that too. For me next year, I am worried about the Grudge, an amazing original Ju-On (2002) yet the remake 2 years later was still good, there were two reasons for that, the first is Sarah Michel Gellar, we had just admired her in Buffy for 7 years and seeing her in a different movie was well appreciated, the second and not the least important one was that it was from the original maker Takashi Shimizu, so seeing another remake next year will not be on my list to watch. I have a few reservations on Fantasy Island, yet we have seen Michael Peña in several good movies and there is every indication (from the trailer) that they are taking the sweet caramelized smell of the original TV series with Ricardo Montalban (Mr Roarke) and Herve Villechaize as his assistant Tattoo in a new direction, that I want to see because the trailer is indicating that the caramelized part is gone, it will be a liquorice cured salmon, the first time is the most powerful one because most people have never had it, it is also an acquired taste, so you’ll love it or hate it, but it will be new and that is the part that matters to me.

There is another wave coming, but not made as re-release or remake, it will be a sequel of Candyman, with Tony Todd as the murdered son of a slave, for me it means that there is every indication that I can finally replace that movie as a Blu-ray and it made me realise that it was released 25 years ago, wow, when I was half my age (extremely approximately), I remember the movie, meeting Clive Barker and a whole range of other events around it, seeing it sequel will (hopefully) be an awesome experience.

Yet overall I see that there is more behind me than in front of me and for a lot of us, when we have budgets to keep to we need to select the movies we see on the big screen, I went from a movie every week to a life where I saw no more than 6 of them on the big screen last year and that is a big difference, nowadays I see the movies that are in the libraries, and with Netflix, Disneyplus and other streaming media, on one side I wonder how much is left for the silver screen. Yet on the other side, as far as I can tell, no one ever took Ryū Murakami 1999 masterpiece Audition to the western world, now that is a movie you want to invite Harvey Weinstein to. I won’t give away anything, but if you want to see horror with a difference, that is one movie to watch, there is a whole range of movies where we seem to forget that there is a whole planet outside of Hollywood that makes good movies, and even if we want to see a re-master, or a re-launch, personally I am still hoping for Claude Leloch’s Les Uns et let Autres to make it to Blu-ray, let alone to get it re-launched (if that was even possible). The Netherlands (who got caught up in WW2) has its own views on the resistance and occupation and it resulted to amazing works, like Black Book (2006) and Riphagen (2016), most people will remember the decorated movie the Assault (1986), yet very few of the non-Dutch will have any idea about a movie called Undercover Kitty (2001), whilst the person behind this (Annie MG Schmidt) is in Dutch circles on a level that equals Walt Disney, or perhaps a little more correct the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, who created Pippi Longstocking. Yet how many remember or even know of the Swede Gunnel Linde? He wrote over 40 books and in 1973 the White Stone (Den Vita Stenen) became a TV series. I wonder how many options a place like Disneyplus would have when we see how large the collection of children’s series would be, the same when we look at Netflix in light of Audition (not really a kids movie), yet more revealing, will this become the age of ‘We’ve seen it all before‘, or will we see that like the new Fantasy Island, we end up with movies that show a surprising twist, one we never saw coming, to be honest, not unlike some movies, we will have seen it before, even if we would accept the new special effects, there is a chance that we get to see another Thing (1982) which makes for an interesting version from its original 3 decades before, yet nowadays, we are more likely to see another Insomnia (2002) which was its own perfect remake, yet when it comes to remakes, it is a wild card, because no matter how we love the Departed (2006), there is a chance that you saw the original Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002), at which point the timeline is too close together. I was lucky enough to have seen the original and yet Scorsese makes a magnificent movie, yet the original was made in such a way that it was brilliant in its own right and in this my mind would love to give Andrew Lau and Alan Mak the credit they deserve, yet in opposition, there are plenty of other movies that a lot might not have seen and seeing some of those works (again), in a new light is still worthy of watching. Sweden has jewels like Lilja 4 Ever (2002), we might have seen the Norwegian movie Trollhunter (2010) in a different form, yet when you see this movie, you wonder which one is the original (the other movie was released a decade before this), so there is not much call on that, yet the stories are unique, original and the stages we see are also a question ‘We’ve seen it all before‘, yet have we?

In 2015 Norway produced the Wave, like other movies we want to say ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ yet that too would be wrong, we have seen something similar, but never in this setting, that is where the feeling gets in the way, The Wave is an intelligent piece of work that takes Norwegian customs and leaves us wondering whether we choose the right place to live for the right reason yet can we avoid choices? (I am really trying hard not to give anything away here), the world is filled with movies that seem to look like a movie we had seen before, but we had not and this group of films is now going to be a central part in places like Netflix and DisneyPlus (as well as AppleTV) to set their markers for gaining a following. Sometimes remakes work really well Zatoichi (2003) is a nice example. Yet even more overwhelming are the works of fiction, the books that were released in other nations that no one thought of translating. Even known works like Swedish Sjowall and Wahloo resulted in amazing movies a decade ago when the world got to see Beck; in this Peter Haber made an amazing Beck, finally replacing the image that Sweden had through Gosta Elckman. Germany is another nation where there is an abundance of great art. We all seem to remember Das Boot, Downfall and Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex, yet how many have seen a version of Das Leben der Anderen, where we see the impact of Stasi (the East German secret police)? Perhaps you might not know it by Die Welle was based on the true story of a high school teacher in California who designed an experiment to teach his students about Nazism, when you see that in real life, you wonder what you know. We seem to believe that modern day fascism is impossible, yet the movie casts doubt on that and this was all before social media, so there is room for new versions and altered (read: different) versions.

It is hard to see the light in so many seemingly remakes and re-launches of past greats, but there is light and there is room for plenty more, as such I wonder whether it was just me when I thought ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ or was it the maker who was not aware of other versions of great stories?

I wonder about this not because of Christmas, you might think that we will get re-runs of other versions, I know that this is not the case as Netflix gave out Let it Snow (2019) which is actually a decent movie to watch, which was a nice surprise for me. As I feared that plenty of repetitions seem to be the case when it comes to Christmas, I merely chase that one side in movies, the one I had not seen before and as we get from stage to stage, that risk is increasing, yet the cameraman as he uses his instructed skills to show something different will be able to thwart that danger for all of us (one might hope).

We are about to get 6 times the releases that we have ever had before, because the large screen and Blu-ray line is gone, there is now a large screen, Netflix, Disneyplus, Stan, Amazon Prime and Foxtel release plan, even as they all end up on Blu-ray, we need to pick what we can optionally watch and they are all slamming whatever they can lay their hands on, so there is 6 times the likelihood that they hunt a similar story. Yet there in the end we get to see the issue at hand ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ and as out budgets are now a lot more defined, we all end up being in a place where we rather avoided that part of the equation.

 

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Merely the beginning

Yes, the news is full of the overwhelming success that Avengers: Endgame is and rightfully so, yet the Washington Post looks further. The article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/avengers-endgamemakes-disney-invincible-in-2019-then-what/2019/04/29/b5e35016-6aaf-11e9-bbe7-1c798fb80536_story.html) gives light to the strategy that is surrounding Disney plus as owners of the Marvel franchise. We get part of it with: “Disney’s films will no longer get licensed to partners such as Netflix during what’s known as the “pay one window;” instead, they’ll go exclusively on Disney+. That’s a big selling point for the streaming app, but it’s a costly decision that reduces the amount of licensing revenue Disney can earn from its films after they leave theaters.” this is a point of view that is true and the strategy is valid, yet having the stage where we see a time exclusivity (like in gaming) where the others get the option after 6 months is not to be ignored as an alternative. In addition, the mention of the ‘real’ editions of the time honoured animations like Aladdin and the Lion King are now on screws, especially after Dumbo has become a miserable flop. That is the puzzle that comes next, as I personally see it, the cast was golden, the director is phenomenal and the story is sound, so why did it flop and is that the premise for the other movies? We know that Robin Williams made Aladdin the success it was; this puts a megastar like Will Smith in an awkward position. To willingly step into the shadow of a giant takes monumentally sized balls to begin with and even as we know that Will Smith is no coward, willing to step into the fringe of movie making, I cannot stop being worried on how Aladdin will fare. As such the other Disney productions will be under pressure as well and that is just the beginning.

Disney has had the longest issue with being too sweet for most adults and even as we saw Pretty Woman in 1990 as a new view on what Disney could do, there was a distinct feeling that the Disney people were so far out of their comfort zone that they needed guides to find their way back. This is particularly important as Marvel has its own dark parts (more than just a few) and without that defining dark there is a larger concern down the road. I believe that so far they handled it fine, yet the worry remains: “will the wrong Disney executive demand the Marvel TV version to be lighter, sweeter and less dark“, so far what we have seen from X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants imply that we should not be worried, yet waiting with worries for too long is not good either. What I saw from Cloak and Dagger season 1 is a clear warning, yet perhaps it is also important to consider that the movies will be less in danger of becoming laced with Disney Sweetness than the TV series. Their Metascore of 68 could be considered as supporting evidence in all this. Some gave the following views: “a horribly sentimental soundtrack“, as well as “If you want a show chock full of “edgy” liberal issues thrown into the plot regardless of if it fits with the story, then look no further” (which was the most negative review) we see the initial issue. Even the more positive ones give us “Through its initial four episodes, the real star of Cloak & Dagger is the structure and editing and overall environment more than any individual actor“. I believe it that some of the changes took away the dark side that would have made Cloak a lot more appealing, it was his dark side that appealed to me in the original comics; the TV parts I saw were too emotional, I am not stating that this is a bad thing, merely that . The comic books decently graphic about his devouring hunger, I missed seeing that in the few episodes I saw. Yet it is not all bad, Mayhem is showing to be the direct confrontational angry type she was in the comic book.

This is in part my issue; Disney is seemingly trying to skate away from the darkness is what will have a larger non positive impact on series that were pretty phenomenal in comic book form. So far the silver screen Marvel productions have exceeded expectations swimmingly; it is what I saw in Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the defenders that felt off, not bad, but off.

It is not the cast or the work done, no matter what, Mike Colter makes Luke Cage totally believable and real. I believe that the scripts fell short (from my personal point of view). Perhaps it is my non-US view, the fact that there had to be complications and conspiracy plots from day one in these series is why it is falling short. Even as we hear noise like ‘creative differences’, I believe that the entire conspiracy twinkle has ran its course to the largest degree, to be honest, that is why I stopped watching Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor. The series started great and then when we suddenly see an FBI director compromised around episode 6 that was it for me. Oh, and before I forget this is a series that is all about conspiracy, but the way it is done was too far out there, it lost flavour. I believe that Marvel series have been pushed into that field too much as well (as well as several other comic book based series). I believe that the effort to go too deep too fast to please an audience is exactly why appeal is lost to some degree and Luke Cage gets to pay for it (as well as Iron Fist). With over a dozen movies coming in the next 2-3 years as well as optional TV series, this critical look early on will be more essential than most realise. You see, a Marvel overdose is pretty much similar to a Star Trek overdose, at some point we lose the interest to watch it, which is actually opposite to the feelings we had with the comic books and as such we have to consider our point of view. Now, like the comic books there is a filtering, most of us do not care for all the franchises. I was a die-hard Batman and X-men fan and I never got into Spiderman that much. I still loved the movies and I read the comics at times, but it was not my number one, neither were the Fantastic Four. That’s fine because Marvel (and DC) had a flavour for everyone, so much choice, as such we would be more protective of the comics we were nuts about and that is fine too.

Yet there is still Disney to consider and their long term need to make everything too sweet and too ‘pink’. Even as we realise that most cancelations might be linked to IP and the fact that Netflix will be a direct competitor of Disney+, yet the idea that Disney is a little too uncomfortable with these dark tainted series on Disney remains a concern for many fans and as such it is a concern for some fans of these series that they are now part of Disney. The factual reasons are not out there, or perhaps better stated, there is no source I trust to give me the actual truth (except a joint statement from Marvel and Disney and that is unlikely to happen).

Even as Forbes gives us: “Marvel meanwhile plans live-action series for characters including Loki, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, and several other characters“, the die-hard fans will now wonder whether we will get the Asgardian Wars on TV or silver screen, not only as it was an awesome story, but that also puts Asgard, the X-men and the Canadian Alpha Flight team on the range implying the coming of a few more series, or movie franchises. All of them have a large following, so Disney would be nuts to walk away from an optional few billion more. Yet that does require Disney to allow for very dark streaks in their acquired paintings and that is where the problem is likely to rise, or at least that is what I think is likely to happen.

Even as Disney can ignore everything this year, the year that Avengers: Endgame broke every record, the long term view is less of a given, with view n 2020-2023, there will be more issues and other issues to deal with, not all of them revenue driven, but revenue will be the mainstream in any discussion that surrounds whatever ‘creative differences’ we will see make the headlines on all kinds of media channels and to ignore this so early in the year is not a healthy thing to do, especially as most of the upcoming movies will be staged to bring in a billion plus each. As stated, I do not think we need to worry about the movies too much, but the Marvel TV series that will be another matter, they will be the bread and butter of Disney+ and those people like their shows a little too sugary to my taste.

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