The Big Picture: This Episode is Part of the Problem

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MovieBob:
This Episode is Part of the Problem

MovieBob thinks we're in to a really rough lead up to the new Star Wars films - and it's because of JJ Abrams.

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I think you've hit the nail on the head here.

I agree with what JJ is trying to do as well, keeping some mystery to the movie other than a trailer and a movie poster like the old days. I also think the internet press has much of the blame because they go "too far". Scripts shouldn't be leaked online, people shouldn't follow actors to movie shoots, and I've seen more spy work go into finding out movie info than the NSA in finding terrorists.

He really does need to take his cues from Marvel (which they are Disney too, Kevin Feige could just walk across the hall). They give out some facts/teasers/images/ect, just enough to make people talk.

JJ has one advantage b/c no one knows what he's going to do (where there a SO MANY Marvel books it's hard to pull out any new ideas). I think that was why they clarified the Expanded Universe isn't pure canon, to allow them to use elements of the EU without people being able to predict what they are, and "surprise" people with it

BUT he has to do something to build good will with the fandom. So many people are so pissed (some overly so) about the prequels that he needs to show he isn't going to "Lucus" it up.

Thanks

Swarmcrow:
i feel this topic didnt deserve it own episode

He explained why at the start of the episode.. that there was a lot of buzz about Star Wars news on May 4th and it just didn't come to pass, and he probably didn't want to waste the footage he gathered to make the episode.

I was interesting to hear his take, and not to demonize JJ for at least trying to be sincere on his mystery box

I think that I problem that gets created now using the "mystery box" stuff is that it leaves the internet free to spin it's own ideas about what is coming, and the evolution of those ideas becomes bigger and grander than the actual plot of the movie. Hence by the time you actually get to see the movie, you've built up such expectation about what the movie is going to be that when you actually see what it is, you can't help but be let down.

I agree with Bob that Abrams is just trying to keep that old feeling of going to the movies and building excitement, but in this day and age of social media and 24/7 news coverage, you can't do that. You can't simply fight what exists today, you have to embrace it and play the game along with everyone else. Keeping expectations in line with reality.

To be honest the Episode 7 is going to stink. I'm sure it will be serviceable, but it won't be exceptional by any means. I'm really worried that they are trying to do too much fan service, meaning you'll get what Star Trek 2 was, a good movie, that tried to copy a great movie.

If there's a movie or game I'm really interested in, I try to avoid news about it so I don't set unrealistic expectations.

while this sort of decision has to be personal, it's easy for studios/publishers to do their part to support this - it's called not saying much, and not making a big deal about that fact. It's a shame JJ has only figured out the first part. Hopefully he'll eventually realize how counter-productive it is to hope around in a cape about how mysterious he's being.

I have to say, the more open development can be tremendous fun - but the final product usually doesn't match the ride, let alone the expectations that were set. Still, I'm glad I'm able to put the blinders on, it's likely the reason I was able to enjoy Deus Ex 3 so much . . . and also why Theif 4 sucking was never more than a "meh" moment despite being a huge fan of the originals.

MovieBob:
"...The constant endless cycle of film-geek media speculation goosed by the occasional strategic injection of actual news, i.e. the way Marvel Studios likes to engage the press, is what makes a lot of internet movie journalists able to file the ever increasing number of stories necessary to keep roofs over their heads..."

This is a point of actual credit to Marvel Comics & Marvel Studios for the way they engage media: When they have something worthy of reporting, they give the news something to report. Simple. Honest.

The counter of this is why DC Comics, WB films, and other off-site Marvel properties tend to look ridiculous by comparison and fail to garner respect or praise over all... because they manufacture news reactionary to popular culture interests or competitor news. It's disingenuous. It's doesn't respect the audience they are attempting to reach. It comes off a lot of the time as petty and childish. "Oh that thing the other guy is doing? Look at at us, we're doing that! Don't you like us too?"
It almost never adds to the content of what they produce in a positive or interesting way and usually ends up detracting from it.

It seems like Abrahms has an entirely different problem in the manner he engages the media... but perhaps under the Disney banner, if his doesn't needlessly meddle in the PR, maybe they can share with him the methods that have made Marvel's outreach so much more appealing.
[snark]But nah... Abrahms is probably going to meddle. It's what Fox taught him to do. [/snark]

The real problem with JJ Abrams is he thinks everything he does is bigger, more important and impressive than it actually is. You're right he's not terrible but every single project he's been associated with i feel wastes my time. And thats sometimes more annoying than just a bad movie. "There's nothing in the mystery box" i think we one of your (and one of the) finest summations of what winds people up about JJ Abrams. If he was just an average but economically safe film-maker with no discernible flare (hurr hurr puns) i don't think we would mind. The fact he loudly and repeadedly wastes everyone's time by pretending he is creating something mysterious only to have it be... nothing makes him look like an untalented, incompetent pretentious prick.

If you wanted people to see your movie cold... just don't release too much information about it. Making a grand "Ooooh no i don't want you to look at me!" whist transparently trying to get everyone to look at what he is doing makes the audience feel like they are being treated like idiots. That's my other problem with his work; it's dumb as a post. Thick as a brick. You can't pretend to be interesting but have that thin veneer have mountains of stupid underneath. It pisses people off. His 'big reveals' are some of the most underwhelming and pathetic in recent movie history. "Hey look guys Khan.... is actually Khan! Hohoho we're so clever and know our fans so well" Fuck off Abrams. Actually plan the end of something for once instead of making it about the magic of friendship.

I think it was actually Josh Homme who said "If you never talk about it and try and keep everything a mystery eventually everyone stops caring"

I don't think Abrahms is "averageness personified" so much as he's been successful enough in his various exploits to effectively become the middle ground. And Hollywood, it loves itself some middle ground. It's where all the consumers stand.

After Lost, though, I'm pretty much fed up with "Mystery Box" shenanigans. It's one thing to want to preserve the surprises that are in a work; it's quite another to raise questions just to try to raise cliffhanger-style investment while failing to actually work out how those questions actually fold into the story.

I for one remember a time when information about a movie was in large part geared to get you excited about the movie. Not to inform you about about the movie. For example you might hear a catch phrase in a trailer, you've heard it a hundred times before the movie is released, but upon actually viewing the film that one particular line is different. a different camera angle, an alternative take on the reading, completely different context from how it was presented to you in advertising. I for one take this moment as a breath of fresh air, an active nudge on my opinion towards suspension of disbelief. I can do this because it allows me to dismiss the advertising as advertising. Take the days of future past as an example ( i'd say spoilers, but the fact that this isn't a spoiler is the point) I watched a trailer where they "revealed" that magneto was held under the pentagon, and we see him raise and drop a baseball stadium. What I saw, I have no doubt, will be identical to what I see in the film. This isn't your two favorite characters spouting a cool line just before they start charging at each other only to have the shot end a moment before they contact each other. Advertisement should give you a sense, not of what the movie actually is, but a sense of WHY YOU WANT TO SEE IT. I see magneto lifting the stadium, cut, I can't wait to see what he's doing, where this goes, why he's doing it. On the opposite I only see the stadium fall, cut, I can't wait to see why how and who made this all happen. Giving me both, I can't wait to see those special effects???
Sure why is still there, but that's a race that's advertises the start, shows the finish, and tells you to come see the race. To me all this does is imply a lack of confidence in your film. Even movies that are doing this properly still have a lapse in discipline when it comes to keeping the reveal in the theater. Take Hercules for example ( the rock version) One trailer, does a good job of portraying the film with a somewhat serious or at least dramatic context. This movie WILL NOT BE THAT. It will have children giving light comic relief to compliment one liners and catch phrases that portray Hercules as a teen cool super hero. BUUUTTT, the advertising has created appeal for a much wider audience. Don't get me wrong it's still guilty of this times fallacies( if he has the nemean lion on his head, Don't show me the nemean lion )however over-all even with a story that i'm very familiar with, I'm still mostly in the dark as to how this film will feel and play out. So far JJ has not made these mistakes, he is using the popular media to create that speculation, prediction, and debate that normally comes from good advertising, without advertising. How? " the extended universe no longer counts, all new films are now canon. " I want to be in the dark, I want it to force you to speculate on larger themes and send you into undefined territory. I can only dream to meet a character that is interested, important to the story, and most importantly I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT !!!. I was ultimately disappointed with Prometheus, But that one trailer had me giddy to sit in that theater. With the high rate of reboots and ripoffs I understand the appeal of wanting to know if a movie is worth your money before hand. Bottom line: Tell me I'm going to see something new, I go to the theater excited to find out. Tell me what is new, I go into the theater hoping you didn't mess it up. As a long time fan of your show I can tell you with certainty. When you say we just don't know enough about this movie to know for sure, That's when I'm paying the closest attention.

krompo:
snip

That's not really what I was saying though. I'm not trying to say that your average movie goer knew it or SHOULD know it.

I'm saying that (and maybe this is just more my take on it than accurate) it didn't really seem like Marvel Studios was trying to make the identity of the Winter Soldier into this big secret mystery spoiler type deal.

It was like "If you know, cool, if you don't, fine." but I never felt like it was something they were trying to keep hidden from moviegoers.

krompo:
Also, is this what the internet really thinks of Abrams? Sites like RT clearly have limited usefulness and are overused by many but it does say something that he has never had a rotten film or even been close for that matter.

I don't know if it's what "the Internet" really thinks of Abrams, but I get sad whenever I see his name associated with a project I like. The second JJA Star Trek movie was rotten. Seriously rotten. Yeah, it was a bright and shiny glistening pool of rotten, but it was horrible. The first JJA Trek movie was exciting the first time through, but didn't stand up to repeated viewings. This is an artifact of poor ... I don't know what exactly, but it isn't good craftsmanship.

They got rid of as much canon as they could because JJA is lazy when it comes to adherence to cannon. If Disney would let him reboot the franchise, like the Trek folks let him do, he would. Not because of any grand vision, because he treasures the mystery more than the vision, but because he's not good at playing with other people's toys.

Yeah, he can do some things well when he is the creator. He doesn't instill faith when it comes to treating our loved ones with respect. He's rather like the wicked step-mother of Hollywood.

Strain42:

krompo:
snip

That's not really what I was saying though. I'm not trying to say that your average movie goer knew it or SHOULD know it.

I'm saying that (and maybe this is just more my take on it than accurate) it didn't really seem like Marvel Studios was trying to make the identity of the Winter Soldier into this big secret mystery spoiler type deal.

It was like "If you know, cool, if you don't, fine." but I never felt like it was something they were trying to keep hidden from moviegoers.

Yeah, it felt almost like they were using the fact that there was going to be a Bucky twist to obscure the fact that the movie had a huge twist elsewhere in the movie. Sure, some folks might get caught by both, but those who know wouldn't be left without a surprise twist to enjoy.

Is it just me, or is there literally zero hype around the movie?
Maybe it's just that I expect it to be either a crystal skull or a new Star Trek movie, and undoubtedly deal with terrorism or classism, like ALL Sci-Fi movies do these days...

In a few months years i think i will know what all those people who are constantly piling shit on phantom menace even after 15 years since it came out felt when they saw it. I was 12 at the time so for me it was amazing.

Steve the Pocket:
It's the Internet. Deliberately looking up information on anything is guaranteed to give you exactly the information you're looking for. The question is, why also force the people who weren't curious enough to purposely spoil themselves to know?

1. Iron Man 3's Mandarin proves you wrong, assuming you're talking about looking things up before the movie comes out.
2. Because they didn't give a shit about the twist. I'm all but certain TWS was sewn into the script because it would get the biggest rise out of the most fanboys for the least effort.

Malisteen:

Ronack:
he's only in it to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

Really? Between the 'cast of almost exclusively white dudes' and the 'only selling point is dragging back the old cast to play to the nostalgia of old fans', my very strong impression of the new Star Wars movies was that Abrams wasn't casting the net nearly widely enough.

You know...this whole cast a multicultural Benetton thing really pisses me off to NO end. There is a reason the phrase "token black guy" exist. And it really, REALLY shouldnt.

I can NOT understand the extreme desire to cast a diverse cast just for the sake of it. Thinking that movies or series need a diverse cast is stupid. Or maybe I'm just special. I dont know. I loved to watch Eddie Murphy in the 80s, but I'm not black. I adore Lucy Liu, but I'm not oriental. I didnt want the native americans in Dances with Wolves to be played by white guys. Why the hell does the entertainment industry insist on casting "someone for everyone"? How about casting the right person for the job?!

Make yourselves heard you other cultures or whatever you want to call it. Blacks, do you need to have blacks in your movies for them to be interesting? Native americans, how about you? Orientals? Others? I like good characters and good stories. I dont give a shit about what color people in my entertainment is. Am I alone in this? I'm assuming the industry is doing this because they have researched it. Which should mean that some cultures prefer to watch themselves. Is this really true?

Man watching this I'm only struck with one thing. Well, two things I guess. One being that people probably really should just calm down about every new little thing that comes out and the rumor mill can scale back its flour production about.

and the second is that for all the stuff that people say they hate in the star wars movies when a new remastered edition comes out, its base original release stuff looks really dated, and didn't age well.

Ya except what has leaked out hasn't gotten me excited, more irritated than anything. Now this is what would get me excited:

Hutzpah Chicken:
I'm always reminded of this scene when Bob talks about the Mystery Box.

I was thinking of Family Guy. Can't find a proper clip of it though.

Hell yeah "Big Trouble in Little China!!" That movie is a gem. On that note, they really should bring Kurt Russel into the next Expendables...and Steven Seagal. And while I am at it...a throwback buddy cop movie with Kurt Russel and Bruce Campbell...yes, I wanna see Sam Axe in "Tango and Cash."

As for Abrams, I am over him taking control of Star Wars. I just want them to do a good job with it. I will reserve all judgment, good or bad, until I see it.

Ukomba:
Ya except what has leaked out hasn't gotten me excited, more irritated than anything. Now this is what would get me excited:

Thaaaaat was interesting. Some pretty amazing editing work there. Too bad none of that is canon now!

emeraldrafael:

and the second is that for all the stuff that people say they hate in the star wars movies when a new remastered edition comes out, its base original release stuff looks really dated, and didn't age well.

It's not remastering people have a problem with. I have the remastered early 90s VHS tapes and I like the remastering. I like lots of the clean-up work and CGI starship work. Adding CGI that looks unnatural into random places is what bothers people. And replacing entire actors wholesale where they can. (Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker's force ghost AND Jeremy Bullock as the voice of Boba Fett.)

Also, the originals look dated yes, but they are movies of their own time. Also, a fair bit can be forgiven as camp. A lot of the bad CGI breaks the tone and mood of the originals and looks just as dated since these additions are from like 15 years ago.

Final addition: The hell is up with the new "song" thing in Jabba's Palace in Episode VI? The old one was pretty bad. CGI thing... so much worse.

I'm already burned out about the new Star Wars movies and they're not even close to being out yet. Although I can appreciate why Abrams is trying to do with his mystery box too, after all I do think we live in the age of too much information, but at the same time I don't think it works.

Makabriel:

Ukomba:
Ya except what has leaked out hasn't gotten me excited, more irritated than anything. Now this is what would get me excited:

Thaaaaat was interesting. Some pretty amazing editing work there. Too bad none of that is canon now!

Ya, Fing Disney.

I just wish he'd used some dark forces 2 stuff in there.

Marvel plays this game very well. They engage the public and the press, give us tons of information leading up to a movie (if we seek it out through the press), while still able to shatter our expectations with surprising character moments and plot twists we never thought was coming. Sure, all the comic fans were smugly expecting Winter Soldier to be Bucky Barnes (frankly, you just had to remember Sebastian Stan's name from the first one to see that coming) and everyone expected Pierce to be a bad guy all along, but no one saw Hydra's resurgence or Mandarin's true nature coming. At all.

These movies work for someone coming off the street with no idea about the press coverage, and they work equally well, but in a different way, for people who have been gorging on every spoiler they can find.

TiberiusEsuriens:

Definitely, even looking back at Abram's last forays. Star Trek reboot was, despite the standard insane Abrams lighting effects, a really fun movie because the actors absolutely nailed their parts and there was time given to create character chemistry. Compare that to Star Trek 2, where the entire point of the movie was *spoiler* "he's not Khan, he's not Khan, he's not Khan, who am I kidding he's totally Khan." The entire movie had no other purpose or characterization other than to drag out a "secret" that literally the entire world already guessed.

Jasper van Heycop:

Case in point: the original Star Wars Trilogy, George Lucas' original ideas were, frankly, awful and the entire trilogy was saved by good editing (Episode IV) and good writers (Episode V). Then they let him have free reign on the prequels and look how that turned out *shudders*.

At least with this new trilogy we get a director that is passable overall, with a few moments of greatness.

People have their opinions. I'd choose Abrams over a few people so it's not the worst situation. I think we're all skeptical in the shadow of the now infamous "New Trilogy" which, to be frank, is a good position for Disney to be in. At worst, what they create is not memorable (which with this franchise I find impossible) or they do what they've been doing for years.

Say what you will about Disney, but they own our past at this point. They may not be 'embracing' nerdy culture, but they know what expectations we'd have for the IP that we value. I've been enjoying Marvel's romp -- and I'd never thought I'd say this, but I'm ready for a new Star Wars.

Added bit: I really, really, really hope they use scale models and sets.

Not expecting much out of the new sequel trilogy to be honest, I saw the casting and it looked rather dull, most of them are from the original trilogy, which means screentime will have to be designated to them, I had expected perhaps the main actors and the droids to show up, but when even Chewbacca is to show up I think it's perhaps a bit too much, and then it's the new actors, where the supposed villain looks like the most bland alternative they can pick, if it just turns into some young adult sith showing up with some superweapon of sorts I will be disappointed

Dear MovieBob,

I would love an episode about Big Trouble in Little China.

That is all.

Jasper van Heycop:

Case in point: the original Star Wars Trilogy, George Lucas' original ideas were, frankly, awful and the entire trilogy was saved by good editing (Episode IV) and good writers (Episode V). Then they let him have free reign on the prequels and look how that turned out *shudders*.

At least with this new trilogy we get a director that is passable overall, with a few moments of greatness.

I completely disagree. Lucas has great ideas. Lightsabers, Death Star, Vader being Lukes dad... all Lucas. Where he falls down is executing those ideas. He can't write dialogue and he's not a great director either (witness the same boring conversation shots in the prequels).

Abrhams is the opposite. He's technically competent, can do semi-decent characters, but he completely fails to grasp the grander scheme of things.

Honestly, I'd give Star Wars to Edgar Wright.

So the announcement of the cast the day before doesn't count as news? One would think the additions of Andy Serkis, Max von Sydow, and a slew of virtual unknowns would be enough, but apparently it's just a "god damn photograph."

It's hard not to sympathize with the mindset. Weird Al supposedly got most of the lyrics for The Saga Begins just from the trailers and other marketing material, which, well, when you look at it, yeah, we all kind of knew 90% of that movie going in. Even when you dismiss the marketing, too much fiction and too many people trying can seem to piece together a lot of plots and twists before they come up. We pretty much knew SHIELD was going down. We knew mystery guy was Kahn. Right now, given the number of people trying, episode 7 is probably out there as a theory based on random guessing by now. The death in Harry Potter 6, I'm amazed more people didn't see that coming It's not difficult to understand that a lot of the allure of going to the movie has been replaced with the anticipation. Yeah, a Mandarian or "death" of agent Coulson slips though now and again, and the number of projects having to adhere to adaptation canon doesn't help (anything in Amazing Spider-Man 2) but rue surprise is rare these days.

What worries me is the twist potential, especially given the series here. Empire had one of the greatest movie twists of all time, and you see directors try and repeat it or outdo it with little success. You just get a sinking feeling Abrahms and others in production what to repeat that, and it has a very good chance of being far lamer than they think it is.

honestly, bob, i think you should talk about big trouble in little china town more.

Nobody actually observes "Star Wars Day". It's basically a Big Bang Theory only type thing. I've been doing my part, if anyone mentions it I punch them in the face. I suggest everyone else does the same.

Let's just see if the new movies are any good before we throw them under the bus. All the side-channel junk in the world isn't going to make the movies any better or worse.

SnowWookie:
[George Lucas] can't write dialogue and he's not a great director either (witness the same boring conversation shots in the prequels).

When Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are arguing about who should fly the Millenium Falcon in Return of the Jedi, I have always wondered if Billy Dee Williams and Harrison Ford were even in the same room, because they only appear in like one camera shot together, and after that it's just close-ups of their talking heads. Do you think that might have been bad camerawork instead?

I do think Abrams' mystery box just isn't working all that much. I mean, hell, people figured out Cumberbatch was Khan in no time despite him being white as a sheet. Plus the thing is ALL stories have secrets, that's the point of them. Nowadays, you're best off just accepting reality and getting over the fact that that age of the unknown can't come back. Pretty much the only company that even get away with that anymore is Nintendo.

Murphyrmurphy0:
I for one remember a time when information about a movie was in large part geared to get you excited about the movie. Not to inform you about about the movie. For example you might hear a catch phrase in a trailer, you've heard it a hundred times before the movie is released, but upon actually viewing the film that one particular line is different. a different camera angle, an alternative take on the reading, completely different context from how it was presented to you in advertising. I for one take this moment as a breath of fresh air, an active nudge on my opinion towards suspension of disbelief. I can do this because it allows me to dismiss the advertising as advertising. Take the days of future past as an example ( i'd say spoilers, but the fact that this isn't a spoiler is the point) I watched a trailer where they "revealed" that magneto was held under the pentagon, and we see him raise and drop a baseball stadium. What I saw, I have no doubt, will be identical to what I see in the film. This isn't your two favorite characters spouting a cool line just before they start charging at each other only to have the shot end a moment before they contact each other. Advertisement should give you a sense, not of what the movie actually is, but a sense of WHY YOU WANT TO SEE IT. I see magneto lifting the stadium, cut, I can't wait to see what he's doing, where this goes, why he's doing it. On the opposite I only see the stadium fall, cut, I can't wait to see why how and who made this all happen. Giving me both, I can't wait to see those special effects???
Sure why is still there, but that's a race that's advertises the start, shows the finish, and tells you to come see the race. To me all this does is imply a lack of confidence in your film. Even movies that are doing this properly still have a lapse in discipline when it comes to keeping the reveal in the theater. Take Hercules for example ( the rock version) One trailer, does a good job of portraying the film with a somewhat serious or at least dramatic context. This movie WILL NOT BE THAT. It will have children giving light comic relief to compliment one liners and catch phrases that portray Hercules as a teen cool super hero. BUUUTTT, the advertising has created appeal for a much wider audience. Don't get me wrong it's still guilty of this times fallacies( if he has the nemean lion on his head, Don't show me the nemean lion )however over-all even with a story that i'm very familiar with, I'm still mostly in the dark as to how this film will feel and play out. So far JJ has not made these mistakes, he is using the popular media to create that speculation, prediction, and debate that normally comes from good advertising, without advertising. How? " the extended universe no longer counts, all new films are now canon. " I want to be in the dark, I want it to force you to speculate on larger themes and send you into undefined territory. I can only dream to meet a character that is interested, important to the story, and most importantly I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT !!!. I was ultimately disappointed with Prometheus, But that one trailer had me giddy to sit in that theater. With the high rate of reboots and ripoffs I understand the appeal of wanting to know if a movie is worth your money before hand. Bottom line: Tell me I'm going to see something new, I go to the theater excited to find out. Tell me what is new, I go into the theater hoping you didn't mess it up. As a long time fan of your show I can tell you with certainty. When you say we just don't know enough about this movie to know for sure, That's when I'm paying the closest attention.

Agreed, I really hate previews where by the end it's like, "Welp no reason to see the movie I guess." Also, the worst case of line changing I can think of is the "Skiddoosh" in Kung Fu Panda. In the preview it happens with the belly bump (which is the perfect moment it seems). In the actual film though it happens with the finger hold. Or Indian Jones' "Part Time" bit is different in the preview from the film for Chrystal Skulls. I could be wrong, but I seem to recall that sometimes a production company or an ad firm apart from the film studio will be contracted out to develope previews and such. Sometimes they are given material from old edits, or they mix material on their own differently from how it will be in the final product.

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