The Flix List: Five Movies Suffering From Identity Crisis

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Many filmmakers tried to mix several genres in one film, sometime it works nicely, i.e. Captain America: The Winter Soldier which is a superhero movie mixed with Cold War-era espionage intrigue. But most of the time, it turns out to be a disaster. Just look at Cowboys & Aliens, mixing Sci-fi with Westerns sounds like a crazy idea, but maybe it’s crazy enough that it could work. Alas, it turned out to be a bomb for Universal, as it barely made close to its $163 mil budget domestically.

So Ted comes up with five other films suffering from identity crisis which are also box office duds:

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The Lone Ranger

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This box office dud tried to be too many things and in the end it just didn’t work. The film sort of reminded me of some of Buster Keator or Charlie Chaplin films from the 30s but then it also tried to be this serious western action/adventure of the 60s and 70s. I understand what Johnny Depp and the filmmakers were trying to do, but I think they should’ve picked a genre and stuck with it. Despite so many bad reviews it received last summer, I still thought it was an entertaining flick (check out my review) and I think it might have a cult following the years to come.

Tears of the Sun

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Antione Fuqua tends to mix genres in his films and this one was a good example of how NOT to do it. Originally the script was written as a Die Hard sequel but then things didn’t work out and Willis decided he wanted to make it a separate film. He even persuaded the studio executives to hire Fuqua to direct the film. Well, Willis ended up regretting that decision. When Fuqua took over the project, he decided to make it more into political drama instead of just straight up action/adventure. Apparently both Willis and Fuqua argued with one another during the entire shoot and vowed to never work with each other again. By combining real life tragedies and over-the-top action sequences, the film just didn’t work and when it opened in March of 2003, it failed miserably. The film only earned about $40mil at the box office and it cost around $70-90mil to produce, ouch!

The Devil’s Own

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This big budgeted action/drama was plagued with behind-the-scenes drama. It seems Brad Pitt loves to be involved with films that has troubled production, (the infamous World War Z behind the scene issues and the ongoing arguments on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith), in this film the dramas involved Pitt and Harrison Ford. Both stars wanted the film to focus on their character, apparently Pitt was pissed when studio hired Ford to be in the film.

In the original script, Pitt’s character was the main focus and Ford’s character was just a supporting role. But when Ford read the script and demanded that he gets the cop part, the studio executives were more than happy to hire him, this was when Ford was still a box office champ, he had just starred in The Fugitive, Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games, all were box office hits. There were reports that Pitt wanted to leave the production of the film because he thought the film was going downhill fast after several rewrites. He even bad mouthed the film in an interview with Newsweek magazine, calling it “the most irresponsible bit of film-making.” He was unhappy with how the script has changed so much from the one he fell in love with, it was originally a dark and brutal drama thriller but then it switched into more of an action/thriller. And that was the problem with the film, it couldn’t decide if it wants to be drama or action, and it failed by combining both. The film reportedly cost $90-100mil to make and it only made about $40mil back.

Hancock

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Well this film actually was a huge hit when it came out but I thought it didn’t work at all, I actually named it one of the worst films from 2008. The original script was a much darker story about a superhero who hates saving the world and Michael Mann was attached to direct it in early 2000s. But with several rewrites and delays, Mann gave the job to his protégé Peter Berg. Berg wanted to make it close to the original script but pressures from studio heads forced him to make it into a mixed of light comedy and action/adventure but also with some dark moments. Seriously the tone of this film was so uneven, I wanted to walk out of the theater. I think this was a huge missed opportunity to make a film about a “real” superhero living in our society and sick of saving idiotic people but again it’s all about making money for studios so what they made was a crappy wannabe film.

Random Hearts

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This film maybe the prime example of how not to mix several genres into one film, was this film supposed to be police drama thriller, mystery suspense or romantic drama? What’s so surprising was that the film was directed by Sydney Pollack, who was considered one of the good directors at the time. The behind-the-scene drama was more well known than the actual film, apparently Pollack and his leading man Harrison Ford constantly argued during the production of the film. It got so bad that they stopped talking to one another and vowed to never work with each other again. It’s kind of funny because while making Sabrina together a few years prior, they were good buddies. The film opened in the fall of 1999 with little fanfare and the studio hardly promoted it, probably because they saw it and decided it was a turkey and didn’t want to spend any money on promotions.


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Have you seen any of these? If so what do you think? Feel free to list of other films you think suffer from an identity crisis.

Rental Picks: Get the Gringo & The Lone Ranger

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Get The Gringo

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Remember when Mel Gibson was the king of the box office? Back in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s, seems like every film he starred in were box office hits. After he starred in the big hit Signs back in 2002, he actually agreed to return as Max in George Miller’s Fury Road (it’s been renamed to Mad Max: Fury Road); if I remember correctly the film was scheduled to come out in the summer of 2004 but when the second Iraq War happened, the film was cancelled. They wanted to shoot the film in the middle east and of course with the war, it’s not possible. Then we all know what happened to his career after he directed The Passion of the Christ, even though I don’t agree with what he said in his personal life, I still think he’s a great talent.

A car chase opens the movie, a getaway driver (Mel Gibson) and a wounded accomplice are fleeing the American police and heading towards the Mexican border. The car crashes through the border fence and Gibson’s character was taken into the custody of the Mexican police, his accomplice died after the clash. Gibson’s character name was never mentioned throughout the movie, he’s only been called by everyone in the movie as The Gringo. After a night in a jail cell, The Gringo was transferred to El Pueblito prison under false charges, there he found out that the prison actually looks like a ghetto town rather than a real prison. Males, females and even young children are all being kept in this so called prison. Being that he’s the only Caucasian in the prison, he realized he has to figured out how to stay alive and escape the place. He was able to study the ins and outs of the prison and later met a kid (Kevin Hernandez) who’s living with his incarcerated mother. The Gringo and the kid formed an unlikely friendship and he also found out that the prison is being run by a powerful crime lord Javi (Daniel Gimenez Cacho). He then came up with a plan that will get him, the kid and his mom out of prison.

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This being a low budget production, most of the movie took place in the prison setting. First-time director Adrian Grunberg was able to keep the pace moving and staged some cool shootout sequences. Being that he was a second unit director on some of Gibson’s previous work and other well know films, he didn’t really established the look of his first gig as a director. That’s not a knock on Grunberg though, the look and feel of this movie reminded me of Michael Mann’s recent flicks such as Collateral and Miami Vice, as typical with a lot of action movies in the last few years, this one was shot in digital and there were too many scenes that looked like home video to me. Sometime it takes me out of the story when I see scenes that looked like someone used a consumer camcorder to record the scene, I wish some director would use some kind of effects in post production to give the movie a more cinematic look to it. Both Gibson and Grunberg co-wrote the script along with Stacy Perskie, they didn’t really come up with anything new for this kind of genre. It tends to get predictable but kept my interest and I was entertained, the movie kind of reminded me of Payback, a very good thriller from 1999.

Gibson is pretty much the star of the movie and I thought he’s terrific in the role. Again, I don’t agree on what he said in his personal life but I think he’s one of the few aging movie stars who’s still giving 100% in his performance, Tom Cruise being the other one. I can’t say the same for some other brand name stars, yes I’m referring to Bruce Willis and Robert De Niro, those two seems to just take whatever role the studio offered them.

Despite it being predictable and has that home video look to it, Get The Gringo was a good action thriller that will satisfy both fans of Gibson and the genre. It’s on sale for cheap on DVD/Bluray or you can stream it on Netflix. I think if you’re in the mood for a good thriller, this one will be worth your time.


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The Lone Ranger

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After reading negative reviews after another I didn’t intend to see this movie but my girlfriend and I couldn’t figure out what to do one Friday night, so we decided to check it out. We saw it at one of the most popular movie theaters in MN and there were only 5 people in the seats, including us and this was a Friday night! Apparently the negative reviews scared off a lot of people. Fortunately, the movie wasn’t as bad as most people made it out to be.

The film starts out with a prologue, took place at a San Francisco sideshow in 1933. A young boy who adores The Lone Ranger radio series ran into an old Native American Tonto (Johnny Depp), Tonto sees the boy and start calling him Kemosabe, seeing the boy with the mask on, Tonto thought the boy was his old pal The Lone Ranger. The boy was curious as to why this old man started calling him by that name and so Tonto decided to tell him the story about the masked man and his sidekick. The film then flashes back years later when we meet a lawyer named John Reid (Armie Hammer), he’s on a train and going to visit his brother who’s a lawman Dan Reid (James Badge Dale). However his train ended up being hijacked by a few outlaws who are trying to free their leader Butch Cavendish (William Fitchtner). Here we’re also introduced to a young Tonto, when chaos ensued, both Tonto and Reid tried to stop Cavendish from escaping but were unsuccessful.

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Shortly after, Dan deputizes his brother, allowing him to join in the hunt to bring Cavendish back to justice, but tragedy strikes as their group is ambushed and left for dead. Tonto comes to the scene and saw bodies everywhere, he decided to bury all the lawmen but then John woke up, so Tonto believed he’s been brought back to life by the higher power. John swears to take revenge on Butch for the murder of his brother and decides to team up with Tonto, who is trying to take his own revenge for another tragic event from several years ago. Their adventure will put them up against not only the violent gang of outlaws, but also against a scheming railroad man, Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson), who is attempting to amass a great fortune with his plan. There’s also a subplot about the romance between John and his widowed sister-in-law Rebecca Reid (Ruth Wilson) that didn’t really pan out that well.

What worked for me were the great visual effects and action scenes, especially the big climax sequence involving trains was pretty well thought out and exciting, you can tell where all those millions of dollars went to. Director Gore Verbinski and his cinematographer really wanted to capture the look of Sergio Leone’s western films of the 60s and I thought they were quite successful at it. As mentioned earlier, the action scenes were pretty great to watch, you can tell Verbinski and his crew probably spent weeks or months prepping each sequence. Wish they spent more time on the actual plot of the film though.

A few things that I thought didn’t work. First the film tonal shift just felt out of place, it didn’t know if it wants to be a comedy action or dark and edgy action/western. There would be one scene where you’ll laugh and then another where you see people getting slaughtered. By combining all these elements into a film, it just didn’t blend well for me. Also, by trying to tell origin stories of both of the leads didn’t really work either. I mean the film’s called The Lone Ranger and they should’ve just focus the story on him, Tonto’s a sidekick so why not leave his origin for later films? I understand when you have a big star like Depp in that role, you have to make him the main lead. They should’ve just called the film Tonto and The Lone Ranger. Lastly, the bloated run-time was just inexcusable, about 20 to 30 minutes of the film could’ve been edited out.

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Performances wise, I thought Johnny Depp was good as Tonto, he’s basically playing Jack Sparrow again here. I was bit disappointed with Armie Hammer though, I always liked him as an actor but I found him to be lackluster here. I wonder it’s because he’s second fiddle to Depp, he’s been told not to over shadow the bigger star? Whatever it was I just thought he didn’t really sell me as the action hero. Both Fictner and Wilkinson were great as usual since they’ve played villains in other films before. I’m still not sure why Helena Bonham Carter agreed to appear in this movie, her role was so small and didn’t really have much to do, maybe she did it as a favor to Depp since they’re good friends. Ruth Wilson was pretty decent as the damsel in distress.

Even though I thought the plot didn’t work and the film was way too long, I didn’t hate it. I actually enjoyed it for the most part but I’m a sucker for western so it’s an easy sell for me. With a better script that focuses more on The Lone Ranger and shorter run-time, the film could’ve been a fun summer ride. Since the film is officially a massive flop for Disney, we probably won’t see any more adventures of The Lone Ranger and Tonto.

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What do you think of Get the Gringo and The Lone Ranger? 

My [California] Weekend Roundup

Hello everyone! Hope y’all had a nice weekend. Yes I know it’s a bit late of a weekend roundup, but I spent the last five days in sunny California, which was a much-needed break.

Two of my best friends recently moved to San Diego and Tempe, Arizona respectively, so it was sort of a mini-reunion for my hubby and I as the four of us spent the entire Fourth of July weekend together. It’s quite a hectic trip as we ended up not only visiting San Diego and La Jolla but we also made it to Los Angeles, Long Beach and the picturesque Catalina Island. Suffice to say, there’s no time left for movie-going, which actually suits us just fine. It was awesome to watch the spectacular San Diego fireworks right from our hotel as it’s right on the Bay! Thankfully they didn’t have the snafu like last year when it all exploded at the same time.

As you might’ve guessed, my La Jolla visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the La Jolla Playhouse at the University of California San Diego. Classic Movie buffs would know the non-profit theater was founded by my crush Gregory Peck, along with Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire.

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Though I wasn’t at the movies, I did spend some time with some iconic movie characters in Hollywood 😉 We didn’t originally set out to go to L.A. but we sort of decided on a whim Friday afternoon and it turned out to be a blast! Here are some pics we took of the character impersonators on the famous landmark by the the TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman Chinese Theater). Only on the streets of Hollywood that lifelong nemesis Batman and The Joker would be the best of friends 😀 Too bad the photo was blurred but it was a hoot seeing superhero rivals Superman & Spider-Man counting money together, ahah. I wonder how much these guys make in a day.


My favorite is Wolverine as the guy’s looks just like Hugh Jackman it’s uncanny! There were actually two Wolverines in the same spot by Jackman’s Hollywood Walk of Fame’s star, but the bigger guy’s sideburns actually looks more like Elvis, ahah.

Oh, and of course I had to take a picture on Gregory Peck’s hand/footprint at the TCL Chinese Theater. Look at how tiny my hand is compared to Mr. Peck’s 😀

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DespicableMe2MinionsNow, as far as box office is concerned, even as I looked up to The Lone Ranger statues atop the Masonic Temple Building next to the El Capitan theater, somehow I knew the movie’s gonna be a big bomb for Disney. Sure enough, according to Terrence’s Movie News Monday and Tim’s Box Office Prediction, Despicable Me 2 left that ultra expensive ($200 mil) Western Comedy in the dust. Certainly the 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes didn’t help matters, though some folks actually dug it, i.e. Fogs actually gave the movie an A-. I probably would end up renting The Lone Ranger as I missed the screening, but I might see a matinee showing of Despicable Me 2 as I adore those overalls-wearing yellow minions!!!

Well, as I said last week, it’s been a s-l-o-w return to blogging for me. I even missed Five for the Fifth this weekend which is a bummer, but ah well, it’ll definitely be back next month. In any case, I’ve got some post ideas in the works and of course reviews and guest posts from our *staff* Jack Deth and Ted S. I’ll be seeing a screening of Pacific Rim tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be able to review it by this weekend.


Now indulge me, how was YOUR weekend movie watching? Any new favorites?

I watched the Superbowl for the trailers… specifically Star Trek Into Darkness & The Lone Ranger

Superbowl2013I barely watched the Superbowl, maybe only for 5 minutes when the Baltimore Ravens’ QB threw a 40+ yards touchdown pass. I’ve only watched the biggest sporting game show for the ads, and now that I’ve got a movie blog, for the movie trailers! The power outage cracked me out though, someone tweeted that he’s expecting Bane to come out, ahah. Yeah it probably could be happen in the next superhero flick. Anyway, Congrats Baltimore Ravens … and Ray Lewis, what a way to end his NFL career!

Well, a boat load of trailers were released during the game, and two starring Dwayne Johnson: Snitch and Fast & Furious 6, neither one is my cup of tea. Then there’s Iron Man 3, Oz the Great and Powerful, and World War Z. I’m curious about Oz but the trailer isn’t that much different from the one I’ve posted here.

Now, these two on the other hand, got me quite excited and I wish this were released this weekend instead of in two months time!

Star Trek Into Darkness – Super Bowl TV Spot

After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

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I’m no trekkie but I love JJ Abram’s Star Trek movie. It was just so fun to watch and I quite like Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk. Now we’ve got a nemesis that should match his know-it-all “I am better at everything” cockiness, in the form of the BBC Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch. LOVE his gorgeous voice narrating this trailer and though I’m bummed not seeing Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy in the trailer.

Not sure who Benedict’s character is exactly… Khan or no Khan… it really doesn’t matter much to me. I expect this to be yet another entertaining action flick (and more lens flares of course! :D) Curious to see if Pine and Cumberbatch would have a mano-a-mano in the movie.

“Shall we begin?”

Why yes! Too bad we still have to wait until 17 May 2013!!



The Lone Ranger Game Day Spot

Native American spirit warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

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This looks like the quintessential buddy flick a la Lethal Weapon. Armie Hammer is becoming an actor I like to see on screen as he’s proven to be more than a pretty face, and I think he has the charisma of a leading man. Now surely that’s quite tough to do when you’ve got such a major movie star Johnny Depp as the sidekick Tonto. Depp seems to be right in his element playing a strange looking, wisecracking character, and he seems to have a good chemistry with Hammer. I have to admit I’m not a fan of Gore Verbinski’s most popular franchise Pirates of the Carribean, and I thought Rango was only funny in parts, but this certainly looks promising. Of course Disney also hopes this would be a hit given its hefty $250 mil budget (seriously?!)

Anyway, this trailer is pretty fun to watch. Let’s hope the movie itself will be too!



What do you think of these trailer folks? Feel free to share your favorite Superbowl movie trailers!