Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Angry About Birds

I love Hollywood and all of its spawn. Even if I need to rifle through a dozen romantic comedies and talking-animal animations in order to get to one great film or television show, it never ceases to engage me. I've watched movies since I was an infant and have since built up a phrenic list of my all-time favourites, films and shows that I can see myself showing my own infants one day and even looking on with geriatric eyes in my much wrinklier years. The unfortunate thing about Hollywood is that it happens to also be its own worst enemy. It now has a knack for ruining anything great that has been done and then milking it for everything it's worth. This is exactly what’s happening with the Angry Birds brand right now. Every plan they have for the Angry Birds franchise is a clear reflection of this same mentality, not exactly Hollywood's but just a reflection in general of the whole cash-cow business strategy that goes on, and that mentality makes this bird truly angry.

Needless to say, screenwriting is a creative process. It’s all about thinking outside of the box, about making people like me go ‘whoa!’, but I’m beginning to feel like a lot of movie-makers and screenwriters are going down a path where they attempt to make people go ‘whoa’ without having to step out of that box. What exactly is it that I am referring to? I am talking about every remake, reboot, adaptation, spin-off, prequel and decade-waited sequel out there. Nowadays, when a screenwriter opens up a blank cover page to a yet-to-be-written script and begins to type up some superhero flick or a reimagining of Gilligan’s Island (it's only a matter of time), half of what makes the creative-process just went out the window. It’s a creative epidemic, all a result of money-hungry laziness. Angry Birds is worse, because at least when you begin to convert a comic book into a feature film there is a conceivable story in it, but Angry Birds is a video game, one that was born in the iPhone App Store no less, and they plan to turn that into a physical board game and, more importantly, an animated feature film with the possibility of a television show. Let me say it again, Angry Birds, a mobile phone game about sling-shooting wingless kamikaze birds at pigs that reside within poorly built structures is going to become a feature film – you know, ones that run at the cinemas for about an hour and a half – and perhaps even a television show – like ones that make a hundred episodes and get syndicated around the world. They're desperate!

Angry Birds is just a prime example of what the film industry does when it strikes gold, polishing until the lustre is lost, especially consider that investors have a confidence in it worth forty two million American dollars. At the moment there are also a litany of ridiculous films in their early stages, namely: Footloose, The Bodyguard, RoboCop and Total Recall remakes; Shakespeare in Love, Clerks, Mad Max and Die Hard sequels; and then anything Will Smith has done, including I Am Legend, Hancock and Independence Day (two planned) sequels, and don't get me started on the Annie remake he's lining up to star his black daughter. A remake of The Bodyguard? Really? Footloose too? What the fuck, Hollywood? Who remakes a fantastic film that stars Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, one that was made in the last twenty years no less, that's asking for trouble. To make matters worse, it's rumoured that Rhianna might be taking Houston's character. What does this mean exactly, you ask? It means that they are considering someone who can't actually sing (or act probably) to play a character that was once played by a singer slash actress who can; excuse me? Same goes for Footloose too. I guess I just want to know why; apart from money, I would like to know why producers are so hell-bent on ruining the good. Want to hear something else that makes me gag? The Buffy movie in pre-production at the moment. That's right, don't worry about rereading the previous sentence, I said a new Buffy movie. Here is a breakdown of everything that is wrong with that idea: it will have nothing to do with the original creator, it will have nothing to do with the original story, perhaps not even the original characters, it will be a new cast, there has already been a Buffy movie like that and it was so bad that even the makers hated it, it's been nine years since the show ended (eight years since its spin-off, Angel, ended) - which is way too soon - and, because of all that, the end result will come out looking like another Twilight. I'm not sure about other fans, but another more personal reason the thought of this makes me sick is because I absolutely loathe the whole vampire thing that is all the rage at the moment, it's just another cash-cow. The one thing I appreciated about Buffy and Angel when the first Twilight film came out was that the shows were no longer running and, therefore, were unable to be tarnished by that ugly foreheaded guy (I couldn't care enough to look up his name) and the deadpan chick who can't act (Kristin Stewart); this whole new Buffy remake thing completely undermines that! If this movie goes ahead, what I held sacred about the Buffy and Angel series will be washed away by the drool dripping from the crowds of undersexed teenagers who will frequent the theatres that show the film and fundamentally finance another god-forsaken sequel.

An example of an unsuccessful milk of the Hollywood cow which i have just been itching to share is the My Big Fat Greek Wedding disaster. Personally, I have never had a real lot against romantic comedies unlike the hoi polloi that do. I have heard the films increasingly cop a lot of slack, and sure they're low production, recycled, predictable and are being released left, right and centre, but nonetheless, they're a bit of fun and I enjoy myself a good rom-com on occasion; My Big Fat Greek Wedding falls into that category. For those that haven't seen it, it basically follows a somewhat sheltered, Greek woman who lives in America with her family who happen to be very well vested in their cultural roots. She meets an American man. It's a romantic comedy so naturally she falls for him, there is a clash of cultures, they all get over it, the two get married and everyone lives happily ever after, and the same goes to how I left the theatre - happy...but no! It couldn't just end there. Hollywood whipped out its mighty erection and just blew it by creating My Big Fat Greek Life; a situation comedy continuing from the film. Now right off the bat, I was never exactly sure who thought the transformation from romcom to sitcom would be at all smooth, but I hope they got the sack. Yeah, they're both comedies, but that doesn't mean anything. From the pilot episode, I wasn't seeing a show from the movie, I saw a completely different show with the same cast members that were in the movie; the show just had a completely different feel and a completely different theme. The thing is: a romantic comedy that runs for eighty minutes is reliant on both the romance and the comedy (go figure), which means that we can deal with five minutes of straight out romance and no comedy, however, with a sitcom that runs for about twenty to thirty minutes, five minutes of no laughs is Nelson suicide. And that's just the show itself, the cast were an issue too. A US sitcom typically needs a comedian, it's a mould in any show that's been a success, just at least one comedian that can deliver words off a page in a way that will make people laugh - The New Adventures of Old Christine has Julia Loui Dreyfus, Seinfeld had Jerry Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond had Ray Romano, Rules of Engagement has David Spade; all successful American sitcoms. My Big Fat Greek Life had none, and therefore, once again, the delivery that worked in the comedic film just wasn't cutting it for television. The story differences between the film to the show were a little difficult to grasp as well, not only that but I found them unnecessary as well, for example, the minute changes in some of the character names and locations, things that matter enough to ruin the flowing illusion of the story but not enough that the details needed to be changed for any reason at all. The biggest difference, one that I feel should've been taken as a bad omen, was the replacement of co-star Jon Corbett. I don't know about you, but when the second on the cast list can't do it, you forget it. Not only that, but for some insane reason they then had Jon Corbett guest star on the show as another character, which just confused the hell out of everyone…idiots.

Much like the Buffy thing, I am becoming more and more uneasy over films that still exist on their lonesome. I’m beginning to get the sense that the films that haven’t had some remake or sequel attached to them are just sitting ducks and that it’s only a matter of time before the armed, fatigue-clad Hollywood rises from the bushes and starts making a mess of something else I love. One of the worst things about it are the audiences that either don't know or are too forgetful to know about the original, usually the same bunch who unwittingly offer praise of remakes and subtle sequels without its origins to compare it with; it's always a big shame in my eyes. It just seems that there is no room for two films with the same name in some moviegoers minds. I just wish that there were films that can be thrown in a metaphorical vault and be left unscathed and untouched for eternity, because when it comes to show-business and money, it just doesn't seem to me like anything is sacred anymore, and believe me, if they are considering adapting feature films from iPhone apps, then whatever film or show you hold sacred is just another bird waiting to be picked off by the pants-pockets of Hollywood’s producers, mark my words.

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