Loki will not be the Big Bad… John Hurt will probably not be the Doctor for long… KUNG FU PANDA 3 seeks harmony with China… YouTube live video capture seeks no harmony with Google Chrome (you’ll see, sorry)…
From the luxurious Cinefantastique Online Studios in NYC, Dan Persons brings you up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of genre media.
Hopefully, the above headline needs no explanation, but in case you have any doubts, we’re talking about cinefantastique the genre, not Cinefantastique, the online magazine of horror, fantasy, and science fiction cinema. Although there have been a few exceptions in recent decades (e.g., a Best Picture win for THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences traditionally under-represents imagi-movies at each year’s Oscars, and the 2013 ceremony was no exception – and no surprise, since few horror, fantasy, and science fiction films were even nominated.
It is not as if there were not some worthy contenders from 2012: CLOUD ATLAS, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, ROBOT AND FRANK (especially Frank Langella’s performance), THE SECRET WORLD OF ARIETTY, and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – to name a few. However, even in categories that traditionally offer a glimmer of hope (technical areas such as special effects), the genre went ignored.
The only solace, such as it was, took the form of two borderline titles that won in several categories: ARGO and LIFE OF PI. The former is a fact-based political thriller, but its plot is based around using a phony science fiction film as cover to spirit hostages out of Iran, and the film actually uses the concept of sci-fi fantasy heroism in pop culture as a yardstick by which to measure real-life accomplishment. The latter uses effects-heavy imagery to recount one person’s lonely trek aboard a lifeboat in a way that questions the reality of the events, which may be just a personal fantasy. ARGO took home the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Film Editing (William Goldenberg), and Adapted Screenplay (Chris Terrio). I cannot exactly argue with ARGO’s Best Picture win – it is a great movie – but I would have preferred to see THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (obviously impossible) or at least LES MISERABLES.
LIFE OF PI won for Cinematography (Claudio Miranda), Directing (Ang Lee), Music (Mychael Danna), and Visual Effects (Bill Westernhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott).
The win for Visual Effects is not a big surprise, but it is something of a disappointment since this is one of the few categories in which outright science fiction films have a shot at the gold statuette. This year’s nominees included THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, THE AVENGERS, PROMETHEUS, and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN. Presumably, THE HOBBIT and PROMETHEUS lost because voters felt they had seen the effects before in LORD OF THE RINGS and ALIEN, respectively. THE AVENGERS looked too much like TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON. And SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN lost because it was simply a bad movie, and the Academy seldom singles out isolated pockets of quality in otherwise undeserving films.
In the Animated Feature category, voters apparently could not decide on a good film, so they gave the award to BRAVE for being a Pixar Production. Personally, I think nominee FRANKENWEENIE is seriously flawed in the story department, but even so, it far surpasses Pixar’s latest step into mediocrity. Easily the best animated film of the year – THE SECRET WORLD OF ARIETTY – was not even nominated, nor was the worthy RISE OF THE GUARDIANS.
At least PAPERMAN took home the gold in the Animated Short category – the film was the only good thing about having to sit through WRECK IT RALPH, which incredibly was nominated in the Feature Animated category, along with the equally unworthy PARANORMAN. (I have not seen the other nominee THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS, so I will reserve comment.)
SKYFALL, the latest James Bond adventure, is less science fiction-oriented than many of its predecessors, but it still straddles the borderline of the genre. The film earned several nominations, including Cinematography, Original Score, and Sound Editing, and won for Sound Editing (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers) and Best Song (Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth). Adele (who goes simply by her first name) performed the song during the ceremony – the first winner for a franchise noted for its memorable theme songs. (Shirley Bassey was also on hand to perform the title tune from 1963’s GOLDFINGER, which really set the standard for 007 songs.)
The Best Song win for “Skyfall” is one of the few decisions I can truly applaud for the 85 Annual Academy Awards. The song is the best thing about the film – and one of the best James Bond them song in over nearly two decades. THE HOBBIT, Peter Jackson’s disappointing prequel to his LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, failed to impress Oscar voters. Nominated in three categories – Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects – the film went zero for three on Oscar night.
The terrible SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN was had to chances to win – for Costumes and Visual Effects – but lost out in both categories. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (another borderline effort, which includes some fantasy creatures) was nominated in categories for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Directing but came away empty handed.
So there you have it. It took AMPAS only 76 years to finally award a Best Picture win to a fantasy film (the aforementioned LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING). Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another seven decades for history to repeat itself.
There are so many ways a grand conglomeration of super heroes could turn into a car wreck (case in point: THE FANTASTIC FOUR), that we should be grateful when a film manages just to clear that bar. Fortunately, and quite happily, THE AVENGERS not only manages that base-line feat, but goes far beyond it, becoming a rare example of a top-notch comic book movie. Granted, the team-up of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), aided and abetted by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), doesn’t boast much more than a bare-essentials plot — demigod Loki (Tom Hiddleston) wants to take over the Earth ‘cuz… well, just ‘cuz — but under the direction of Joss Whedon, the proceedings offer enough kick-ass action and delicious character moments that plot barely matters.
Come join Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French and Dan Persons as they break down the first official blockbuster of summer 2012 to find out what makes it pop and where it fizzles. Also: What’s coming to theaters.
Disney/Marvel’s THE AVENGERS is featured in this week’s Empire Magazine , which hits the stands Thursday.
In addition to this cover picture, alternate solo covers featuring Scarlet Johansson’s Black Window, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Humsworth as Thor can be found at the link above.
A tidbit from the article gives us Tom Hidddleston’s take on Loki, and his importance to the film. “He knows who he is now, and what his powers are.
“In order for The Avengers to come together, Loki has to be more menacing, and all of his malevolence is founded in a completely delusional dream.”
Sounds very much in keeping with the Marvel theme of tragic underpinnings to their heroes and villains.
Press Release: Joss Whedon brings together the ultimate team of superheroes in the first official trailer for Marvel’s The THE AVENGERS — out Summer 2012
When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as SHIELD, finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.
The Avengers continues the epic big-screen adventures started in “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since.
Prepare yourself for an exciting event movie, packed with action and spectacular special effects, when “Marvel’s The Avengers” assemble in summer 2012.
Entertainment Weekly’s latest covery story is Marvel Studios’ THE AVENGERS .
The article mentions that although the cast got along famously, the assembled Avengers do NOT hit it off well at all. Well, no surprise there, if you’ve read the comics…
Director Joss Whedon notes that much of the dialog is being rewritten as they go, somestimes on-set. Iron Man Robert Downey Jr has been urging Whedon to push the boundries, it seems. Hopefully, it will give the film extra drama and humor, which has worked well in the past with the Marvel characters.
THE AVENGERS is due in theaters May 4th, 2012.
Here’s three pieces of promotional artwork for Marvel Sudios/Disney’s THE AVENGERS.
The artworks shows Captain America in a cowl with his ears showing, production photos have shown Cap (Chris Evans) in a masked helmet not unlike his recent WWII outfit, and maskless, fighting beside Thor (Chis Hemsworth).
Most Mother’s Days, loving children show their gratitude with flowers and breakfast in bed. This Mother’s Day, the kids had the option of taking Mom to the multiplex, where she could drool over the handsomely chiseled Thor in the newest, big-screen adventure out of the Marvel stable. Is THOR — directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Chris Hemsworth as the mighty-thewed (thewed?) God of Thunder, Natalie Portman as his potential love-interest, and Anthony Hopkins as Big Daddy Odin, with a special guest appearance by Gort’s younger, more ambitious brother — the film that will bring a Shakespearean gravitas to comic book drama, or is it just so much table setting for the impending THE AVENGERS movie? Join The Chronic Rift’s John Drew and Cinefantastique Online’s Dan Persons as they discuss the movie behind the myth.
In this week’s installment of the Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast, Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski render their opinions on the week’s top news stories and upcoming theatrical releases: Will Arnold Schwarzenegger be back as the Terminator? Is Joss Whedon’s upcoming THE AVENGERS worth anticipating? Do we really need to know Conan the Barbarian’s origin story? And will THOR thunder into theatres like a mythical god?