The work week's over! Hope y'all are doin' well!
Every Friday brings with it new releases that will either entertain or annoy. Today's blog is inspired by a recent story that saddens me, and a plethora of upcoming releases that make today's news all the more frustrating.
Today, over at that wonderful movie site www.RottenTomatoes.com, an interview with Joss Whedon was posted. Joss Whedon, for those not in the know, is the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel (Both unseen by me *ducks hail of debris*). He is also the mastermind behind a wonderful unknown, long-cancelled series called Firefly.
Firefly was mangled in 2002 by the Fox network, which aired episodes out of order and basically made the show difficult to find. It lasted 6 episodes. Strangely, however, Firefly became a cult hit and DVD sales of the existing episodes sold like gangbusters, leading to a big screen incarnation called Serenity at Universal. Hopes were high that Universal had the next Star Wars/Star Trek franchise on their hands and then Serenity fizzled out at around $40 mill. Well, the franchise seemed dead, but hey, maybe continued DVD sales would save it, right? The answer is no. Today's posted interview concludes that Serenity/Firefly is dead and buried.
Now, I'm gonna miss the spunky crew of the Starship Serenity and their adventures in the Alliance-dominated universe. But at least the film left the storyline semi-resolved and allowed me to move on, happy that I was one of the few who got to take the Firefly/Serenity adventure.
I hadn't thought much about Serenity's end until today. Joss Whedon's interview didn't surprise me. Rather it only confirmed my previously held assumptions... No, what really made me mad was realizing that Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning opened today. Why you ask? Well, I guess because when one watches something like Serenity they are seeing expert storytelling. A whole world has been created, with characters that possess emotional depth that leaves you wanting more. These are things that films like TCM:TB (I'm calling it that from now on! I refuse to dignify it with typing its 30+ letter title) have none of. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic. I'm not arguing that. But this film follows 2003's mediocre Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, which starred Jessica Biel's tanktop. That film was a low-rent slasher with little imagination and nothing memorable to show the audience. It relied on Biel's looks and excessive gore to tell its weak story.
When I see these endless sequels that no one seems to be particularly desperate for, it's frustrating. I'll admit, there's lots of gore hounds who will go see TCM:TB but were they demanding it??? Were the audiences demanding a Big Momma's House 2??? Or a sequel to The Mask??? The answer is no. They weren't. Serenity, on the other hand is a story that people want to see continue. They want to know the rest of the tale and see it through to a fitting conclusion. The problem is that they are a small minority. Theatre owners can fill more seats with Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift or The Grudge 2 (Don't even get me started on that one!). Studios have to look at the bottom line; it isn't smart to keep putting money into a losing cause.
I don't have an easy answer to end this posting on. Who am I to argue with profit? TCM:TB is going to make some serious dough this weekend (Though, I'm hoping none of you are going. I've got a much better alternative below.), so I shouldn't be surprised to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Leatherface Goes Hawaiian in a couple years. I guess incidents like this just make me mourn the loss of original fantasy/Sci-Fi (as in not based on famous comics, novels, etc) storytelling in Hollywood. I hope Serenity's failure to make an impact doesn't prevent Hollywood from taking risks on young directors with original visionary ideas. Eventually people are going to tire of re-makes, re-treads and pointless sequels.
In 1976, 20th Century Fox took a chance on a young director with dreams of droids, princesses and intergalactic war. One wonders if this had occurred today if George Lucas would have wound up directing Hostel 3 instead.
As I promised, I have an alternative to the brainless gore of TCM: TB! Do yourself a favor this weekend and get out and see The Departed. It's got a talented cast consisting of Leonardo DiCaprio (His post-Titanic career is really becoming admirable. More so than shipmate Billy Zane's, that's for sure. Poor Billy Zane...), Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and the king himself, Mr. Jack Nicholson. As if that cast isn't enough, you have film master Martin "Taxi Driver!, Raging Bull!, Goodfellas!" Scorsese at the helm! The reviews are raving that it's one of the best films of the year (thus far)! So this weekend try and convince your friends that maybe your money is better spent watching a master storyteller work his magic, than watching teenagers getting disemboweled. I know I will be, and I promise to have a review up Sunday night. I mean, c'mon...
If you're not gonna do it for me, do it for Jack!
Have a great weekend!