Category Archives: 3 Tinseltown Tuesday

Why this lost trailer for FANTASTIC FOUR in 1994 is better than the turkey now in theaters

Why is this cheap, terrible trailer from a movie that was never released 8,594 times more entertaining than a modern film, released in 2015 with a huge marketing campaign and enough CGI to turn your Toyota Camry into a silver Aston Martin with an ejection seat?

1) This trailer is so bad, it circles back to good

You’d watch this. I’d watch this.

It’s insanely bad enough to turn into a cult classic, the kind of thing where people dress up in horrible costumes and sing along to the bad dialogue.

This trailer alone could give birth to 29 different drinking games. Think of 120 full minutes of this on a big screen. We’re talking comedy gold.

 

2) The special effects are extra-special

Put a gun to my head and I would’ve said this movie was made in 1964.

Put another gun to the other side of my head and I’d say they borrowed the 2nd unit special effect apprentice for the Star Trek series. You know, Assistant Prop Master for Styrofoam Boulders and Green Lizard Alien Masks.

But no, this was made in 1994, when the art and science of special effects had already given us STAR WARS (in the ’70s!), ALIEN, TERMINATOR 2 (liquid metal! Come with me if you want to live!) and JURASSIC PARK (lifelike dinosaurs!). So yeah, you have to try hard to be this bad.

 

3) It jumps the shark, then dives into the ocean and rides that shark all the way to Loony Land

Everything you see violates seventeen different laws of screenwriting, dialogue, storytelling, cinematography and acting. This thing is amazing.

My favorites: (a) the CU of Dr. Doom’s gloved fingers doing the “I’m a diabolical villain” dance, (b) the Invisible Woman turning invisible right before minions smash into her, except she’s invisible, not a ghost, so they should’ve still smashed her and (c) the random man with a hat and eyepiece who thinks this movie is Shakespeare and recites the deep, deep dialogue in the grandest possible way.

I want that Shakespeare man in more movies, because every good villain needs a minion that, instead of shooting people, tries to make grand statements about profound things. Reminds me of the announcer character in MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME who kept saying things like “Two men enter, one man leaves” and “Break a deal, face the wheel.” Beautiful. Somebody find the man in a hat.

 

4) This trailer leaves you wanting moar, moar MOAR

And that’s the whole point of a trailer, isn’t it? Teasing you. Making you want more.

Raise your hand if you’ve been in the local megaplex lately, or flipping through YouTube, only to see a trailer that seems to last for fifteen minutes and gives every twist of the plot away.

Yeah. Happens all the time. They gave away the big surprise in the trailer for the latest TERMINATOR movie, and when that didn’t satisfy their inner spoiler, they splashed that plot twist all over the poster for the movie. I believe the director of that film is in jail now for punching five different studio execs.

This trailer, now, is confusing. Can’t really predict the plot from it. In fact, I bet you’d couldn’t you’ll fully understand the plot of this classic without watching it three times with a yellow legal pad to take notes, then tracking down the screenwriter to find out the exact drugs he was taking in 1994.

It’s a brilliant piece of trash, wallowing in its pure trashiness, and to whatever studio has this unreleased movie, please release it. I guarantee more people will pay to watch it than the current FANTASTIC FOUR flop.

Note: No, I haven’t watched the new movie. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. After every living critic spat upon it, kicked it to death and set it on fire, I took that as a sign. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch it. Okay, that’s a lie. I think $985 might do the trick, and I’d go as low as $817 if there was dinner and drinks beforehand. But no lower than $817. Life is too short.

More posts for your amusement or education:

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

4 ways to improve STARLORD VS MUTANT DINOSAURLAND (aka JURRASIC WORLD)

Seen it yet? Go buy tickets and eat insane amount of popcorn. Everybody on the planet is required to do so.

I’ll wait. Don’t want to spoil the ending for you.

Actually, I want to improve the ending. And the beginning. Maybe the middle, too.

Not that this is a bad movie. It’s summer popcorn fun and will make bazillions of dollars. Chris the Pratt is a great actor, our generation’s Harrison Ford, an action star who makes you laugh.

HOWEVER: there are four easy ways to radically improve JURASSIC WORLD, especially compared to the last two Chris Pratt movies, which were structurally sound.

This is more important than you think. A solid story is the difference between “Yeah, that was fun” and “Even though we just saw it, I’d happily pay another $15, keep this dorky glasses on and see this in 3D again right now.”

Despite my dislike for Tom Cruise, an amazing story structure is why I paid cash money to see THE EDGE OF TOMORROW in theaters three times and bought the Blu-Ray to see it twice more.

Want the easy way to see if a movie has story problems? Count the number of writers. One is great. Two might work if they collaborate a lot, or if they’re the Coen brothers. Three means trouble.

If you see four or more writers when the credits roll, that says “People gave us $389 million dollars for a film about transforming robots, lightsabers or mutant dinosaurs, so we spent about half a percent of the budget on script rewrites until we had a story that would thrill the high tastes and standards of 9-year-old boys sitting in theater seats as they drink 72 ounces of Mountain Dew.”

On to four easy ways to improve JURASSIC WORLD: Continue reading

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by | June 16, 2015 · 7:03 am

8 reasons why blockbusters are meta-stories instead of Villain of the Week (Walking Dead, Star Wars, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Harry Potter, Avengers, Game of Thrones)

Name something popular, anything at all, and chances are it’s a series instead of a One Hit Wonder.

This is about why that is, despite a serious quality handicap, and how your favorite series either does it wrong, does it halfway or flat-out nails it.

There are two basic types of series: evergreen and meta-stories.

Evergreen

This includes sitcoms, mysteries, and other shows where things don’t really change … except for the villain or problem, which constantly changes, until the movie series runs out of steam, the novelist gets sick of it or studio execs at NBC look at the dying ratings and pull the plug.

The advantage of an evergreen story is the audience can fire up Netflix and watch any random episode without being lost. You can , buy any of Lee Child’s series at Barnes & Noble and enjoy Reacher beating people up for 325 pages without needing to know anything about the other books.

Star Trek, in all its forms (original, TNG, Voyager) was an evergreen series.

HOWEVER: the best string of movies was a meta-story about Spock, with Spock sacrificing his life to save the Enterprise and crew (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Corinthian Leather), then Kirk and crew sacrificing to bring Spock’s newborn body back from Planet Crazytown (Star Trek 3: We Stole This Sweet Klingon Warbird) and finally Spock is back with us and directing the movie, which was smart {Star Trek 4: Save the Whales), except it lead to a future movie where Shatner directed, which turned out to be an Achy Breaky Big Mistakey.

The disadvantage of an evergreen series is huge: it inevitably grows stale. Also, the lead actor will always be tempted to cash out and bail for the movies. And often, the ratings or sales simply tank, making studio exec or publishers pull the plug, ending the series with a whimper. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction, The Big Screen, Thrillers and mysteries

Hard and Complex versus Impossible and Bizarre

This is about why Flappy Bird was such a surprise hit, Taylor Swift’s newest mega-video is meh and why your favorite movies, novels and video games work when others fail.

Here’s why: audiences want something interesting, and entertaining, which means different and surprising. Yet there’s a fuzzy line between Hard and Impossible and a deadly chasm between Complex and Bizarre.

It’s like thinking, “chocolate chip cookies are yummy, so why not chocolate chip cookies with almonds, M & M’s, pecans, Oreo sprinkles, peanut butter and a Snicker’s Bar on top?”

Watch the big Taylor Swift video, BAD BLOOD, then we’ll chat.

Now, this has high production values and great costumes, and I’m sure Michael Bay watched it on an endless loop all weekend. Yet it’s not elegantly complex and entertaining. It’s a hot mess, the music video equivalent of THE EXPENDABLES, with so many random stars thrown in for cameos that I have no idea who’s who. Does it look cool? Sure. Do we care one bit? No. Not even half a bit, or a quarter bit.

Compare that to the simplicity and beauty of Iggy Azalea’s BLACK WIDOW, which is a masterpiece, paying homage to KILL BILL and flat nailing it.


Continue reading

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, The Big Screen

Top 6 reasons why MAD MAX crushes AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON

Now, I enjoyed AVENGERS 2: GIVE DISNEY ANOTHER BILLION DOLLARS and it’s perfectly fine as another piece of the Marvel movie assault on the galaxy.

It’s just that I wouldn’t happily head to the theater tonight to watch it again, while I will go back to see MAD MAX: FURY ROAD with friends who’ve yet to see it.

And I’m not alone: critics are going nuts for MAD MAX, with 98 percent of them loving it on Rotten Tomatoes vs. 74 percent giving the thumbs up for AVENGERS 2.

The New York Flipping Times wrote a glowing review of MAD MAX. That’s nuts.

Why is the Australian underdog kicking the pants off the greatest collection of box-office superheroes ever assembled? Continue reading

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Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

Top 6 reasons why Batman must DIE!

Bruce Wayne and the Batman may or may not die in BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT.

(Google that and the volume of fanboy speculation will make your head implode).

But he’ll die soon enough. It’s guaranteed.

So will Superman, Spock, Wolverine, Captain America, Sherlock Holmes and 93 other major fictional characters you know and love.

Why will Batman and other great characters die when Jar Jar Binks is apparently invincible?

Because of reasons.

Let’s get into the guts of why this works while still Bothering you, and the answers will involve dead poets, the suspension of disbelief, the quarterly earnings reports of corporations and The Three Movies = Reboot Rule of Superheroes. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

What you need to know before seeing AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON

Unless you live in an ice cave, you know that AVENGERS 2 opens on May 1.

When it does open, all your friends will go see it, then ask what you thought about it, and What This Movie Means for the next 10 Marvel movies. Those films will feature Thor, Iron Man, Loki, and 16 other characters, and they will make $18 billion dollars.

Let’s get you educated on the whole Marvel shebang, then talk about why Marvel, against all odds, has taken over movie theaters for the next century.

Before you spend $42 on Imax tickets, 5800 calories worth of popcorn with fake butter drizzled on it and 72 ounces of Diet Coke, watch this video to refresh your knowledge of all things Marvel:

And now I’ll get serious for a moment.

Why have the Marvel movies rocked the box office so hard? Continue reading

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by | April 28, 2015 · 5:05 am