Do or Do Not.

Archive for December, 2005

Good Deal

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As I’ve been predicting since early in the negotiations, Disney and Pixar are nearing a deal to re-up their distribution deal, which was set to expire after the release of Cars next year. I can’t honestly see how anyone might have believed this deal wasn’t going to happen — both companies stood to lose way, way too much if they parted ways: too much money for Disney, too much caché for Pixar.

I do have some concerns about the new agreement, if the information out there right now turns out to be true. If Disney were to outright purchase Pixar and make them the official Disney animation division, as one rumor has it, Pixar would lose the independence that’s allowed them to craft their movies they want the way they want to make them. If Disney owns them rather than simply distributs their product, Disney would likely want to have more of a white-gloved, three-fingered hand in what Pixar does and how, and we’ve already seen how wretchedly Disney manages their current animation department. I might be less concerned if they installed John Lasseter as Almighty Inscrutable Pixar Overlord and left them alone, but I have trouble imaginging Disney buying a new toy and not wanting to play with it.

Part of the deal might also include allowing Disney’s current 3D animation department to produce Pixar-sanctioned sequels to some of the Pixar catalog. I’m not sure if this one’s true or not, since Disney’s in-house 3D division seems to be nothing more than a poorly-constructed sham (“Circle 7 Studios” taking its name from the logo for the ABC studio across the street from their offices). I had been thinking that Pixar wouldn’t want to be involved with making any direct-to-video sequels of their work…until I remembered that Toy Story 2 was originally intended to be exactly that. So we’ll see; I’m going to leave this development in the “skeptical” column for now.

Those concerns aside, though, I’m very glad this deal’s going to get done. I’m not the biggest fan of The Mouse, but I realize that Pixar’s better off having their name connected to Disney than not. The distribution and promotion they get (like, say, having their creations slapped all over theme parks around the world) from being associated with the Disney Multimedia Conglomerate can’t be beat by anyone else they could have snuggled up with. And they certainly didn’t want to get into distributing their own movies; far better to let a company with that infrastructure in place take care of it so Pixar can stick with what they do best.

Written by Allen

December 27th, 2005 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Movies

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Review: War of the Worlds

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One of the things I most admire about Steven Spielberg is his ability–and his willingness–to balance his desire to make his deepely personal Films with his desire to make big-budget crowd-pleasing popcorn-chomping Flicks. He’s equally adept at making both kinds of movies and has created classic examples of each, though I have to admit I have something of a preference for his Flicks. When directors of his ability apply their talents to big action movies, you know that you’re usually going to get one of those all-too-rare combinations: a smart, well-made blockbuster.

So as soon as I heard that Spielberg was making War of the Worlds (based, of course, on the H.G. Wells novel), I knew the result would likely be something I was going to enjoy–Spielberg plus Scary Monsters of Some Sort plus Big Special Effects will almost always equal an entertaining movie in my book. When a director as completely in command of his skills as Spielberg decides its time to put a good scare into his audience, a scare is just what they’re gonna get. And make no mistake: War of the Worlds is far more horror movie than action movie.

Spielberg realizes that this story has been told plenty of times before: he knows that there’s an excellent chance that most of his audience has at least some familiarity with the basics of the story. The audience probably knows just who or what the attackers are, and they probably know the circumstances which eventually bring about the attackers’ defeat. In fact, Spielberg counts on that fact. Because his audience knows the plot, he can leave out some details and assume the viewers can fill in the blanks he intentionally leaves empty.

Spielberg keeps the focus of his movie on a very personal level, staying entirely with Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning as a father and daughter with a less-than-ideal relationship. That choice proves to be what makes War of the Worlds different from the great many other aliens-inavde-planet-Earth movies that have featured largely the same plot–and what made the events of the movie so much more frightening. Neither the characters nor the audience ever get a clear confirmation as to just what’s happening. We–and they–get speculation and rumors from other characters (contradictory rumors and speculation, at that), but we never get those familiar scenes, for example, of The President Receiving Intelligence From His Staff and Making the Big Decisions. We get very little report of what’s happening with the Martian attackers in the rest of the world–we don’t, as a matter of fact, ever know for sure that they’re Martians (one of those details Spielberg left up to our common experience with this story). We never even find out definitively what’s happening outside the New York-Boston corridor.

War of the Worlds (2005)
Grade: B+
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Josh Friedman David Koepp (Based on the H.G. Wells novel)
Studio: Paramount/DreamWorks

An interesting side effect of Spielberg’s telling the story the way he did was the changes it necessitated in the type of protagonist he used. Cruise’s Ray Ferrier isn’t a typical Big Hollywood Action Spectacular Hero: he’s not particularly sympathetic (at first, anyway); he’s not the one leading the Forces of Good against the Evildoers; he’s not the Chosen One; he’s not the cause of or the focus of the aliens’ actions; he’s not the catalyst for the aliens’ downfall. He’s just a guy. He’s a guy focused entirely on trying to protect his children from the insanity destroying his world. He’s the focus of the story only because Spielberg chose to make him so, not because the larger story demanded it–Ferrier is completely inconsequential to the larger story, and that fact is what makes his journey so compelling.

There’s one drawback to Speilberg’s commitment to the personal, though: the ending of the movie felt startlingly contrived. When the focus is on the Big Picture, simply defeating the enemies would be enough to create a happy ending, but that doesn’t work as well when that focus is on the Very Small Picture. The details necessary to make sure the audience went home with smiles on their faces didn’t strike me as true in War of the Worlds; had Spielberg been completely honest with his story, he would’ve realized that this movie was one that likely shouldn’t have had a happy ending.

Written by Allen

December 26th, 2005 at 7:24 pm

Yes, I am t3h lame.

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I know, I know–two-and-a-half months and nothing new has gone up here. [1] I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to let the site run fallow. I have some things cooking in my head, though, and so the ol’ site here might start getting some new love very soon. Oscar season’s coming up on us pretty soon, and it’s getting gosh-darn close to Year In Review time. So be patient, and maybe some scintillating new Moviegeekz content will grace your monitor before much longer.

In the meantime, enjoy whichever holiday(s) you choose to observe!

[1] Really, I just figured that everyone was going to so adore my review for The Upside of Anger that I’d just leave it up for ten weeks.

Written by Allen

December 23rd, 2005 at 6:17 pm

Posted in General

Link: Vote for the Best Blog Posts of 2005

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Official Friend of Do or Do Not Mister Snitch is accepting nominations for the Best Blog Posts of 2005. I’m not soliciting votes or anything here, believe me–just wanting to help get this contest out there. (Though if you wanted to vote for some of my more eloquent or more hilarious posts, by all means, feel free.)

Here’s what Snitch is looking for:

1) Something truly witty or milk-out-your-nose funny is always welcome. Everyone tries comedy, few do it well. 2) That unique piece of information or research that everyone’s looking for, but only one blog has. 3) An issue that everyone is discussing, but only one post nails. 4) An unusual subject that few attempt, and fewer do well. 5) An interesting use of language, such as an entire post in the form of a pallindrome, or an Ogden Nash ditty. 6) Something of great service or interest to the blogosphere. Perhaps a link to blogging tools or resources that everyone should know about. 7) A great comment thread. 8) Lightning in a bottle. A post that captures a moment. Something you’d stick in a time capsule. 9) Originality, inspiration, insight, foresight. If it’s touched by greatness, we want to know about it. 10) Anything compelling. When you’re drawn to something, and you know others will be, you don’t have to analyze it.

You can leave comments at that post or email him at mistersnitch [at] hotmail [dot] com if you so desire. So get on it!

Written by Allen

December 21st, 2005 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Web

Link: “The Chronic of Narnia”

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Like so, so, so many others, I’m of the opinion that Saturday Night Live has been spinning its wheels in the mud pit of mediocrity for years now. But it’s nice to know that occassionally, they can still bring the funny old-school:

“You can call us Aaron Burr the way we’re droppin’ Hamiltons.”

I mean, c’mon…they name-check Google Maps in there. That shit speaks to me, yo.

Written by Allen

December 20th, 2005 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Pop Culture,TV

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