20th Century Fox Film
Ever since Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars, the series has been in full franchise mode. But the sequel trilogy — headed by J.J. Abrams and beginning with 2015's Star Wars: Episode VII that endeavors to show how the heroes of the original tree films have been spending their time since saving the galaxy far far away — isn't the only thing planned for Star Wars. Disney is also working on producing spin-off films in conjunction with the main film series, and one of these films might center around our favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett. Jon Schnepp, director of Cartoon Network's Metalocalypse series has told AMC Movie News that Disney is planning a Boba Fett spin-off, and that original trilogy scribe, Lawrence Kasdan will be writing the project. Now, we sure do love Boba Fett (and who doesn't?), but we're not sure a character like him be at the center of his own stand-alone film.
In the original trilogy, Boba Fett was a nearly wordless bounty hunter hired by Jabba the Hutt to capture Han Solo. Even though he only speaks four lines in the Empire Strikes Back and just two words in Return of the Jedi before being launched into the maw of the Sarlaac pit, he's become a beloved figure in the Star Wars universe. But Boba's popularity isn't due to some detailed backstory or character depth. The less we knew about him the more badass he became. He was an enigma, a no-nonsense space desperado who let his actions do the talking for him. Simple storytelling let our imaginations run wild and craft him into the most dangerous man in the galaxy the way Darth Vader's exposition never could. We were told that he was the best at his job, and the scars on his armor were the best résumé. The simplicity of the character covers so much ground in characterizing him, and no matter how well they strip his armor and examine into the man inside, he will inevitably lose some of the spark and mystery that makes the character so special to begin with.
Mysteries are vital to stories. They help to make the universe intriguing and help to add texture to a fictional world, and stories are better served if they leave some things up to the audience, because if you explain away everything, then there's no room for speculation. We don't need to shine a light on every aspect of every character because some things are better left in the dark, hinted at but never confirmed. With Boba Fett, his enigmatic nature is part of his charm and is one of the best aspects of the character. Plus, anytime the Star Wars universe tries to demystify anything, it canonical answers up being way worse than the explanations already working their way around our imaginations.
For example, the Force used to be a mystical phenomenon that tied the Star Wars universe together. It was a sprawling faith-fueled energy that was one part religion, one part mythology, and one part magic. A big part of using the Force was having faith in its power without proof of its actual existence, and that faith is a big theme that informs much of the original trilogy. Much of Luke Skywalker's journey from gangly farm boy to revered Jedi involves him putting his full belief and faith into this intangible energy. In the prequels, however, the boundless energy that "surrounds us and penetrates us," this thing that "binds the galaxy together" is revealed to be just micro-organisms swimming around in everyone's blood. And, just like that, it's not special anymore. The grand ideas about faith and belief and myth are gone and are replaced with science and genetic dumb luck. Instead of telling him to believe in the force, Ben Kenobi might as well have pulled out an electron microscope and showed Luke a smear on a petri dish.
With all of this said, it's certainly possible to create a good or even a great movie with Boba Fett as the protagonist. If anyone could pull it off, it's certainly Lawrence Kasdan. But there are other characters who would be better suited for a stand-alone movie, ones who don't have as much to lose by having their backstory expanded. As I'm sure Boba Fett would agree: some things are better left unsaid.
The ABCs of Death, an anthology of 26 short films about people being killed in spectacularly gruesome, farcical, and universally disgusting ways, is scary in a way its makers may not have anticipated: it shows how deeply uninspired and visionless horror-movie filmmaking has become.
Ever since the genre stopped caring about bottling the sensation of fear in favor of shock and gore, it’s gotten away from true horror, a format that works best when deeply invested in the psychology of fear. Movies like the Saw franchise and its various torture-porn imitators have become less and less interested in messing with their audience’s brains than moving the goalpost of the grotesque ever further, an objective that ensures obsolescence. There are only so many severed limbs and plucked eyeballs you can see before you’re irrevocably desensitized. What haven’t we seen that could still shock us? The list of possibilities grows smaller and smaller. Tom Six actually managed to horrify us in a whole new way with The Human Centipede, but even that nightmare concept became commercialized, sequelized, and stale.
Twenty-seven directors, all supposedly luminaries in the horror movie world, were brought in to film two-to-four minute segments for The ABCs of Death, in an attempt to show the diversity the genre still posseses. Sadly, rather than expand the parameters of horror, these twenty-seven filmmakers mostly converge on the same tropes. There are three conditions for each short: they must begin and end on an image of red (guaranteeing that at least half of the shorts begin and end with a shot of blood), there must be one death, and they must correspond to a letter of the alphabet — meaning we get titles like “F is for Fart,” “L is for Libido,” and “W is for WTF.” That ensures the audience will experience acute B for Boredom on account of L for Laziness.
Anyone who’s made short films can tell you that cinematic storytelling in under 10 minutes tends toward heightened emotions, with narrative twists that seek to compress a feature’s worth of sensation into a tiny window. Add a requisite horror element and you get a succession of Jack in the Box effects. “D is for Dogfight” is transgressive, I suppose, in its depiction of a man graphically biting a dog, but it's diminished because, in the end, that short is entirely about how transgressive it is. And most of these films are just wafer-thin hooks for startling images. The opening salvo of a segment, “A is for Apocalypse,” about a wife taking care of her bedridden husband who reaches a drastic decision regarding his care, should play like a more gruesome version of Michael Haneke’s Amour. Instead it is robbed of any resonance because director Nacho Vigolondo provides no context to the couple's relationship.
However, the filmmakers here who successfully answer the question “What can still scare us?” locate that answer where great artists before them did: in real-world fears. Eli Roth’s Hostel movies stand as credible horror unlike the Saw flicks because they tap a uniquely insular (and uniquely American) fear of the rest of the world beyond the United States. In The ABCs of Death Hobo with a Shotgun auteur Jason Eisener does just that in “Y is for Youngbuck,” which translates a very real fear of childhood sexual abuse into cathartic revenge.
Similarly Simon Rumley’s “Pressure” taps a mother’s uncertainty about how to provide for her children, and shows just how far she is willing to go to support them. Lee Hardcastle’s “T is for Toilet” finds horror in what used to be an old standby in the heyday of Polanski: plumbing, and its function of keeping us blissfully unaware of where excrement goes. Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers), possibly the most original American horror maestro of the last decade, dives deep into the realm of body horror with “M is for Miscarriage,” as do Amer masterminds Bruno Forzani and Héléne Cattet with the ode to David Cronenberg “O is for Orgasm.”
These shorts are the ones that actually get inside our heads. If our brains are our biggest erogenous zone, so is it also the nexus of our fears. Not our stomachs, nor our adrenal glands. That’s why you need story to fuel and contextualize the greatest scares. Without story giving context to sex, you’ve got YouPorn. Without story giving context to horror, you’ve got much of The ABCs of Death.
What did you think of the film? Let Christian Blauvelt know on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Drafthouse Films]
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Two black and white images surfaced on Twitter.com on Tuesday (29Jan13), showing Cage in a test suit for Superman Lives, the scrapped project that he had worked on with Burton and fellow director Kevin Smith in the 1990s.
Little is known about why the film was shelved, and it remains one of Hollywood's greatest comic book movie mysteries today - but Jon Schnepp is hoping to get to the bottom of the story in a new documentary, tentatively titled, The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?.
Schnepp created a page on Kickstarter.com last week (24Jan13) and hopes to raise the $98,000 (£61,250) needed to fund his project. He has already attracted the support of 1,132 investors, who have helped him raise over $45,000 (£28,125) with 38 days still to go.
Schnepp is planning to interview as many people involved in the axed movie as possible and recreate scenes from screenwriter Wesley Strick's script, which leaked online earlier this month (Jan13).
The filmmaker hopes to complete The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? in time to screen at the San Diego Comic-Con International event later this year (13) - around the same time as the release of the new Superman movie Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill as the titular character.