After watching Snow White and The Huntsman I was left feeling ‘alright’. From the trailer, I went in expecting this great movie, but it turned out to just be ‘alright’. Charlize Theron was wonderful as usual and the overall cinematography was beautiful. I’m well aware that this is a fantasy movie, but some of the fantasy elements seemed to come out of nowhere pulling you out of the story for a moment. The scene with the intro to the white horse and the scene with the two birds in the ‘fairy land’ will have you laughing to yourself when I don’t believe that was the intention of the screenwriter or director. These two scenes just come out of left field so much that you can’t help but to say yourself “what then hell?” Which brings about an uncomfortable chuckle to mask your confusion. Kudos goes to the folks that cut the trailer. They did an excellent job making the movie look 100 times more exciting than it truly is. I’m not a fan of Kristen Stewart, but the director really brought out more in here for this role than I’ve seen of her in any other role she starred in so kudos to him as well. I left feeling that the only saving grace of the movie was Charlize Theron and ‘Thor’. My rating on Snow White and the Huntsman for the story is a B-. For cinematography and artistic vision an A. For direction a B. My overall rating for the entire film is a B-. If you just want to get out of the house and be slightly entertained then go see it, but I’d say wait for it to hit redbox and save your money. Go see Avengers for the 2nd time or hold onto your money for Prometheus which is sure to be incredible, Ridley Scott, enough said. *drops microphone*
The current issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine looks at the high-risk, high-reward strategy of using first-time helmers on movies such as “Tron: Legacy” and “47 Ronin.”
Hollywood loves discovering new talent. But its passion for developing emerging filmmakers has lately strayed into large-scale, downright risky terrain.
Case in point: Universal is in the process of handing director Carl Rinsch a $170 million budget for 47 Ronin, a 3D samurai revenge story starring Keanu Reeves that will begin shooting March 14 in Budapest. Rinsch’s résumé includes a popular short film and a Heineken commercial — but no features.
And he’s far from the only fresh-faced director stepping into the big-budget fray. Disney gave commercials helmer Joseph Kosinski close to $200 million for Tron: Legacy. Universal recently hired first-timer Rupert Sanders to helm the $100 million-plus Snow White and the Huntsman. Relative newbies Marc Webb, who’s shooting Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man, and Daniel Espinosa, who’s helming Universal’s action thriller Safe House, took on the potential blockbusters with little previous feature work.
It’s not an entirely new phenomenon, but for several reasons the scale and justifications behind the hires have changed. During the 1990s, commercial and music video directors such as David Fincher (Alien 3, 1992), Michael Bay (Bad Boys, 1995), Gore Verbinski (Mousehunt, 1997) and McG (Charlie’s Angels, 2000) made the jump to features, but most of them did so with comparatively modest budgets.
During the past five years, though, technology has enabled rookie directors to hone their skills via FinalCut Pro, digital-video cameras and other state-of-the-art effects tools from a young age, prompting budget-cautious studios to salivate over what they can put on screen for a price. Gareth Edwards, for instance, made his indie sci-fi film Monsters for a few hundred thousand dollars, even though it looked much more expensive. He’s now up to direct Godzilla for Warner Bros.
“It’s a reflection on the innovation of emerging filmmakers,” says Anonymous Content manager Michael Sugar, who reps Webb and Kosinski. “You’re looking at people like Fede Alvarez, who made a short film (Panic Attack!) for $300, put it on YouTube, and it looks like it was made for $20 million.” Alvarez, an Anonymous client, was hired by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures to develop a sci-fi feature.
More than ever before, the short film and commercial environment has become a playground to use up-to-the-minute tech to create feature-film calling cards. Sanders, District 9 co-writer-director Neill Blomkamp and Noam Murro — recently hired by Fox to direct the fifth Die Hard — all did spots for recent Halo video game campaigns, a gig that has become as coveted as any debut film job because it often becomes a higher-profile entry into features.
Ad-world veterans also tend to be more comfortable making presentations in front of dozens of studio execs, and to be handy with creating the rip reels, animatics and annotated screenplays that the studios now want to see. These days, when execs say yes to a spec package, they aren’t saying yes to development but to a movie, with a budget, detailed vision and release date.
“If you look at the way movies are being sold into the studios, whether it’s Safe House or All You Need Is Kill or Snow and the Seven —those are spec screenplays that were either sold in with a director or developed to the point where they were movies,” says Management 360 manager-producer Darin Friedman, who reps Kill writer D.W. Harper and director Adam Berg.
A visionary director can simply send a link to his short to someone in the industry, and everyone’s seen it within an hour.
At the same time, the screenwriting community has largely abandoned the spec approach — what was for a long time Hollywood’s prime idea factory. In the last few years, studios have made brutal trims to slates and development overhead. Filmmakers are now bypassing writer-provided original material by building a creative pipeline to funnel their own spec packages directly to producers and execs.
Alvarez’s short film got him noticed all over town. Berg’s short Carousel, made for Philips TV, had him up for the job of helming the big-budget X-Men spinoff Deadpool for Fox. James Mather and Stephen St. Leger’s short Prey Alone led to them writing and directing the sci-fi actioner Lockout for Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp and FilmDistrict.
Rather than scrape together financing for a small indie, a visionary director can simply send a link to his short to someone in the industry, and everyone’s seen it within an hour. The heat generated from a viral explosion can put an auction-like target on a filmmaker.
“Carl Rinsch had been kicking around for years, but when he made [the 2010 short] The Gift, it got sent around and it created a frenzy,” Friedman says. “That doesn’t happen without that perfect storm of the right idea executed well, with the technology to share it virally.”
Studios want and need movies, but they have less and less interest in developing them internally. From multiple accounts, rookie filmmakers are put through their paces by nervous studios before a green light. But by choosing to hire unproven talent, studios are also getting less expensive filmmakers that are potentially easier to control and can be loyal to the studio if the film is a hit.
Blomkamp had only about $30 million but made District 9 seem a lot bigger. When it grossed $211 million worldwide, the path widened for other first-time visionaries, and Blomkamp is now directing the $125 million Elysium for Sony, which released District 9 through TriStar.
But the strategy is not without risk. Sony distributed Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Oscar-winning debut The Lives of Others via Sony Pictures Classics. But when the studio gave him $100 million to make The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, it grossed only $67 million domestically amid critical pans (the film did better overseas, grossing $163 million).
And as Rinsch goes into production on Ronin, he might want to take stock of first-timer Kinka Usher, a DGA Award-winning commercials director whom Universal gave $70 million in 1999 to make Mystery Men. The superhero spoof ultimately grossed just $33 million globally, and Usher has been making commercials ever since.
Well, here we are at last. Years of movies with tag scenes promising the arrival of an Avengers movie have finally delivered on that promise—and this is it. Was it worth the wait or the build-up? That depends on your level of interest in this sort of thing, I suppose. Despite the inane gush of Those Who Object to Being Called “Fanboys,” this is not the greatest movie ever made, nor does it reinvent cinema. That said, however, it’s a solid entertainment and much better than I’d expected from the maestro of midcult, Joss Whedon. Oh, sure he places the film firmly in the realm of his usual sitcom sensibility, and the gags become transparent in their structure once you get into the rhythm of the movie, but this is probably the best possible approach for a movie like this. The sheer volume of characters calls for a kind of cinematic shorthand—and that’s what it gets.
The film’s story is about as substantial as all the tissue wadding in a box concealing a small treasure at its center. What else could it be? All that matters, of course, is that the film has a problem—meaning the Earth has a problem—which calls for amassing a large array of superheroes (and a couple of borderline cases) to save our hash. That, naturally, is why Nick Fury (the irreplaceable Samuel L. Jackson) has been assembling all these folks as part of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division) all this time. The issue this round is the evil Loki (Tom Hiddleston—the second best thing in the movie) is preparing the way for an invasion of creatures from another dimension that will leave him (he thinks) ruler of a subjugated Earth.
As an excuse for cramming one movie with Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), it’s as good as any other. Just think of it as the Contadina Tomato Paste of film—or Grand Hotel in tights—and don’t ask too many questions. The whole thing banks—wisely—on its cast. Especially helpful here is the importation of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, a character never really nailed in any previous incarnation—and here represented by an actor of considerably greater charm and innate sympathy than any of his predecessors. But in the end, it’s the ensemble nature of the playing—something that gets off to a deliberately rocky start—that finally makes the story work.
It’s not a flawless mix. There’s no way to make Captain America all that interesting—especially when you put him up against Iron Man. The film does build its most subversive joke around the Captain, giving Fury’s right-hand man, Coulson (Clark Gregg), a kind of fanboy crush (with subtext aplenty) on him. And that, in turn, becomes a serious plot point, but Cap is still pretty much a stiff. Also, Whedon apparently couldn’t figure out what to do with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), so she’s essentially written out of the body of the movie. But more of it works—in its own way—than doesn’t. And it has the benefit of never taking itself too seriously or straining to be “important.”
The film’s biggest problem—and some will consider this in the nature of a spoiler, so you might want to skip the rest of this paragraph—is that its big finale ends up being most awfully like last year’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It’s certainly better done here, but the similarities are inescapable. This might well be completely coincidental, which only points up a central issue with the genre’s limitations and the fact that all such movies have to hit certain key scenes—notably a big final battle that more often than not outstays its welcome for anyone who tires of endless property damage. It doesn’t sink The Avengers, but it does diminish it. Take it for what it is—big, splashy, largely transitory entertainment. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference.
– Thanks Mountain Xpress
For those of you wanting a little creative break today, here’s a roundup of amusing and inspiring sites I’ve mentioned before. Some people call these time-wasters, but since they all stimulate creativity, I consider them time very well spent!
Sketch Swap: Draw something with your cursor and submit it, then receive a picture someone else created.
This is Sand: Click on the tiny gray box at the top left of the screen for instructions. You can use your cursor to drop digital sand of different colors and create beautiful virtual designs.
Magnetic Poetry: An electronic version of the refrigerator magnets that turn us all into poets.
Language is a Virus: A variety of inspirational devices including writing prompts, a character name generator, a poetry generator, the text collage, madlib poems, the haiku-a-tron and much more.
Passtime: Three “creative time wasters,” including instructions on writing a haiku using the phone book.
Wordle: Turn your words into a cloud.
Mr. Picasso Head: Have fun with this this twist on the childhood “Mr. Potato Head” game.
Right Brain vs. Left Brain Creativity Test: Take this test to learn which side of your brain is dominant.
String Spin: Click and draw with your cursor, watch your sketch rotate in 3D, then hit the button that puts it into full spin to create amazingly intricate patterns.
Character Description Generator: Use this to create quirky people for fun or fiction writing.
Still Life: Create a still life in the style of the Masters with this imaginative interactive website from the National Gallery of Art. Note: It may take a couple of minutes to download, but it’s well worth the wait.
Collage Machine: Another fun site from the National Gallery of Art: create a collage online.
Animation Station: Make your own animated cartoon.
Matisse’s Pieces: Pretend you’re Henri Matisse as you position, size and color various shapes to create your own cutout.
Make Your Own Music: Click to create circles, then listen as they produce gorgeous tones when they touch each other.
Doodle Pad: Choose your color from the rows of crayons at the bottom, choose the thickness of the line using the slider at the top, and doodle away.
Splash Paint: Make virtual abstract designs with this fun online paint program.
Draw a Stickman: Draw a stickman, then help him out as he gets into trouble.
Titles touting marquee names like Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Emma Watson, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Taylor Kitsch and even Oprah are up for grabs.
At this year’s Cannes Film Market, foreign sales companies are rushing in where studios fear to tread. With the Hollywood majors cutting back on midrange movies in favor of cheapies and pricey would-be blockbusters, independent productions are picking up the slack. And that, in turn, means foreign distributors have a chance to buy into a broad array of titles touting marquee names like Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Emma Watson, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Taylor Kitsch and even Oprah.
Cannes 2012: Meet the Jury That Decides Who Will Win the Palme D’or
“The studios are doing films for $130 million and up. That leaves room for us to do movies that the independents could never have gotten their hands on before,” says Lisa Wilson of The Solution Entertainment, whose Cannes lineup includes projects boasting Robin Williams and Elijah Wood. Recent successes like Exclusive Media’s Daniel Radcliffe ghost story The Woman in Black, which grossed $126 million worldwide, proved it’s a healthy business. And worldwide breakout hits like The Hunger Games, which Lionsgate sold last year since the company doesn’t have a global distribution network of its own, have buyers salivating to grab foreign rights to its sequel Catching Fire this time round. “There is a big appetite for the kinds of movies the studios are staying away from,” attests Sierra/Affinity founder and CEO Nick Meyer.
Last year at Cannes, there were at least four $100 million titles — virtually on a par with topline studio budgets — that were shopped to international distributors. They included Sierra’s Ender’s Game and Focus Features’ Cloud Atlas, directed by the trio of Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski. (Focus Features International will be showing off a rough cut of the film to buyers on May 15, just before Cannes kicks off.) But most of the hot indie titles this year are more modestly budgeted. At U.K.-based Dignity Distribution, which co-finances mainstream independent movies budgeted up to $15 million, Maggie Monteith says, “We are getting directors who have never done an independent film before. The challenge is to work with a director who can switch from doing big-budget to midbudget, who can make $1 look like $10 on the screen. Then we can fill the gap between the big studio blockbuster and the small art-house film.”
THR’s Complete 2012 Cannes Coverage
The one downside: Competition among sales companies will be fierce thanks to a crush of such new firms as Megan Ellison’s Panorama and two companies that emerged out of the fall-out from the Lionsgate and Summit merger — Good Universe and Mister Smith. The dollars aside, why are so many willing to take the risk? Suggests Meyer, “I love the idea of selling a dream. It’s such a great rush.
Thank you Hollywood Reporter