When your film gets slammed by both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, two media vehicles that quite literally exist to promote Hollywood films, you know you have a problem, Houston. Dracula Untold promised quite a bit with its decent trailer; unfortunately, the trailer was the only highlight of the whole endeavor. Enjoy these fleeting minutes then brace yourself for my 5 dreadful things after the break:
Titanic, one of the the most successful films of all-time, was re-released in 3D earlier this month. The respectable box office receipts thus far are a testament to the enduring appeal of director James Cameron‘s passion project. A technical marvel that pushed the limits of special effects technology of its day, the film also catapulted star Leonardo DiCaprio into super-stardom and established Cameron as a filmmaker who could continue to create big budget blockbusters, while operating with relative autonomy. However, Titanic, like Cameron’s most recent film Avatar, succeeded despite a relatively clunky and cliche-ridden screenplay. Which begs the question, can we really consider a writer/director with a tin ear for dialogue a visionary filmmaker?
Did we really need a sequel to the 2010 clunker-of-a-remake Clash of the Titans? Absolutely not, but Wrath of the Titans opens nationwide today. Like the first movie, Wrath of the Titans stars the rapidly fading Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson, but this installment was directed by hack director Jonathan Liebesman, who directed the craptastic Battle Los Angeles, instead of hack director Louis Leterrier, who directed the only bad recent Marvel Studios film, The Incredible Hulk.
In our second installment of The Hack’s Toolbox, we will explore one of the most fundamental tools utilized by the hack filmmaker, the obligatory scene featuring people fleeing from an explosion in slow motion. Everybody has seen this scene at least a thousand times, with about five hundred of the scenes featuring a juiced-up Nicholas Cage running in slow motion from an explosion in films directed by people like Michael Bay or Simon West.
MIRROR MIRROR, the fourth feature film directed by acclaimed former music video director Tarsem Singh, will be released theatrically on March 30th. The film, which is a retelling of the classic fable of Snow White, will star Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) and Nathan Lane.
Despite a rather modest filmography (THE CELL, THE FALL, IMMORTALS), Tarsem has been labeled by many as a “visionary” filmmaker, so highly regarded that he is known on a first name basis by the film community. Is he deserving of such acclaim or does his spotty track record as a feature filmmaker contradict his considerable reputation?
Previously, we examined one of the tools used by visionary filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Orson Wells, Park Chan-Wook and Martin Scorsese – the long take. Today, we will look at one of the most prominent tools in the hack filmmaker toolbox – the recycled cliche. A cliche is something that is trite or overused, and according to our definition of a hack filmmaker, one of the primary things that make a filmmaker a hack is the creation of dull, unimaginative, mediocre or banal work. Read More
Director George Lucas is one of the most famous filmmakers in the world due to the enormous success of his Star Wars series of films. Starting with the original film, STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, Lucas has done much to change the game, when it comes to blockbuster films and the selling of licensed merchandise. Even three decades after the original film, the marketplace for Star Wars collectibles should be considered an economy onto itself. George Lucas the marketer and business is obviously one of the titans of industry. However, what about George Lucas the film director? Should we consider him to be a visionary filmmaker or is crass hack, only interested in the bottom line? Read More
English filmmaker Matthew Vaughn first burst on to the international film scene as a producer of his friend Guy Ritchie’s breakthrough films LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS and SNATCH. He then made to transition into directing with the 2004 film LAYER CAKE, which starred Daniel Craig and Sienna Miller. Layer Cake, a stylish British gangster film based on a hit novel, not only established Craig as a superstar (and the new 007), it turned Vaughn into a hot commodity in Hollywood.
His next two films, STARDUST and KICK-ASS, were adaptations of popular graphic novels. The 2010 Kick-Ass was an independently financed film that Lions Gate placed high hopes on after footage from the film stole the show at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. Unfortunately, the film underperformed badly at the box office as the marketing campaign for this R-rated film failed miserably. However, his work on the film impressed 20th Century Fox enough to select him to be Bryan Singer’s replacement as director of the upcoming X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, which opens nationwide on June 3rd. Does Vaughn have the chops to resuscitate an X-Men film franchise that has suffered nearly mortal wounds due to pathetic films directed by hack filmmakers such as Brett Ratner (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) and Gavin Hood (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE)?
In the year 2011, it has become very difficult to stay original as filmmaker. Everything has been done before, so it is really difficult for director to come up something that feels fresh. Often, the next big thing may end up just becoming a trendy short-lived gimmick such as the Matrix bullet time camera or the Saving Private Ryan strobe light battle scene effect, unless your name is Ridley Scott in which case ripping off Private Ryan becomes a way of life. However, there is a way to redo ideas that have been done before in a stylish way, which reinvigorates the referenced material so much that the resulting end product feels like a classy homage or a new scene altogether. Read More
Director Neill Blomkamp made a huge impact on the world of cinema in 2009 with his Oscar-nominated feature debut, DISTRICT 9. How did Blomkamp go from being a virtual unknown to directing a science fiction blockbuster produced by Peter Jackon? Well, it was a series of short films, including ALIVE IN JOBURG, the short mockumentary that ‘District 9’ is based upon and TETRA VAAL, a mock commercial for a real-life “Robocop”, that got him noticed. Read More