When hearing about today's gigantic Facebook IPO, in which the public could buy shares of the company for $38 a pop and Mark Zuckerberg and a host of others were turned into billionaires, I started thinking about what would happen if The Social Network, the Oscar-nominated 2010 movie, had a sequel. We'd have Zuckerberg raking in all that cash and Eduardo Saverin, the hero of the initial movie, renouncing his American citizenship so that he could save on the tax bill that comes from becoming a kazillionaire over night.
Then I started thinking about movie sequels and Internet empires and then it came to me: Facebook's IPO is totally like The Empire Strikes Back, the second chapter in the Star Wars trilogy. (My hand to Jar Jar Binks, I won't acknowledge that those other three prequels exist.) Sounds crazy, right?
Just bear with me. Zuckerberg, of course, is Darth Vader, the evil mastermind who doesn't care much about privacy and wants to become the most powerful force in the universe (next to the Emperor, who in this case is like the several venture capital firms that made even more money today than Zuckerberg did). He tracks all the other characters down to Cloud City, a dream-like Mecca of a place that might be something like Palo Alto, Calif.
Our protagonists are Saverin as Luke Skywalker, the lost compatriot of Vader's (a son in the movie, a former friend in our little simulation) who is trying to stay true to his cause even while facing defeat. Then there's Sean Parker playing Han Solo, a flashy renegade who initially helped steward his friends, but is now on the outs. Solo is captured by Boba Fett and returned to Jabba the Hutt in carbonite whereas Parker was removed from his post following a cocaine bust. There was no carbonite involved that we know of.
I racked my brain trying to think of a Princess Leia and the best I could come up with was Randi Zuckerberg, Mark's sister (just like Leia was related by blood to Vader). She's the former marketing manager of Facebook and was a correspondent for ABC News, filming segments about celebrities, politics, and other things young people just love. It's just like Leia's little "Obi Wan, you're our only hope," video. Anyway, she left the company last year and may have a bone to pick with her big brother, like Leia does with Vader. Randi, however, is not attracted to either Parker or Saverin, but that sure would make our sequel a lot more interesting.
As for the secondary characters, there is C3PO, the ancillary droid who is at turns entertaining and dreadfully annoying. Sounds much like Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga, who became a billionaire today thanks to Farmville and other addictive/repulsive Facebook distractions. There's Peter Thiel, venture capitalist and Facebook's initial investor and old friend who's there to lend muscle when needed but doesn't say much. He's our Chewbacca. There's also Bono, who is profiting on the whole mess (to the tune of $1.5 billion) for doing not much of anything except lending the evil leader a hand when he needed it. Sounds like Lando Calrissian.
As for all of us, who are we? Well, we're the nameless, faceless stormtroopers out there battling the forces of good so that Darth can walk away a billionaire. We're just shooting our blasters armed with photo shares, event postings, and status updates, the silent but deadly force that drives the whole damn movie. Yup, Empire Strikes Back totally sounds like Facebook to me.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The rumor had almost become fact recently -- and now it’s official: Bill Condon will direct the next Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn.
Summit Entertainment made the announcement today that the Dreamgirls director -- and recent producer of the Academy Awards telecast -- would helm the fourth installment: “Bringing Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn to the screen requires a graceful and intelligent hand and we believe Bill Condon is exactly the right steward, having shown equal and abundant talents of immense creativity and subtle sensitivity,” said Erik Feig, President of Production and Acquisitions, for Summit Entertainment.
Twi-hards will have to wait a little longer, however, to learn whether or not Meyer’s final book would be split into two movies.
Aside from Condon’s Oscar-nominated Dreamgirls, which was his last big-screen outing, he has directed Kinsey and Gods and Monsters, among others, and he is signed up for the forthcoming Richard Pryor biopic.