I was excited when Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them first arrived in 2016. Like many of you, I am an avid-fan of the Harry Potter franchise and have a nostalgic affliction with it. Whereas the Harry Potter series felt fun and unique, however, I found the opposite could be said about Fantastic Beasts, which boasted a story-line and performances that simply didn't mesh well with what I wanted out of the film. Many others seemed to believe the “magic” was still there, but I didn't share the sentiment, citing it as an average 5-out-of-10 film in a series where the standard is usually higher. Nevertheless, I was excited for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, perhaps that's out of loyalty to the J. K. Rowling Wizard World, but it's also because I've found that with long-form storytelling, once the initial groundwork is laid, the meatier, more realized drama can come to fruition. The tenth film in the Wizarding World franchise, it follows Newt Scamander and Albus Dumbledore and their efforts to defeat the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
As a devout fan of the slasher genre, I was looking forward to the eleventh installment in the Halloween film series, aptly titled Halloween, acting as a direct-sequel to 1978's classic, also titled Halloween. Although the series' story-lines and continuity are muddied and confusing to the uninitiated, I was excited when I found out this film would build from the original and disregard the rest of the series.
After Carpenter's first film, the series went in a different direction. In Halloween 2, Laurie Strode was revealed as Michael Myers' sister, a fact I always felt undermined the mystique and aura of the character. Halloween 3, notably, went in an entirely different direction, focusing on the Silver Shamrock organization, whereas Halloween 4 revealed Laurie Strode died in a car accident, with that film and Halloween 5 focusing on Laurie's daughter Jamie Lloyd. Halloween 6 took a wild turn, focusing on Myers and a mysterious cult, and, by the next film, Halloween H20, it was revealed Laurie Strode faked her death and Jamie's character was thereby retconned (but, she did have a son). In Halloween: Resurrection, Laurie Strode was killed by Michael Myers, then, Rob Zombie rebooted the series. Now, here we are, forty years later, Laurie Strode has been “un-remade,” brought back from the dead twice, and is no-longer related to Michael Myers.
Review written Summer 2014
Books have been adapted into some of the finest films we've ever seen, and so, why is it so difficult for video-games to bring about the same? You can bet your ass that the creativity is there, as well as the structure, there is definitely enough available to create a worthwhile screenplay depending on what it is that you are adapting. In the end, it matters what the director or the company involved wants to accomplish. I hope this is something that will be demonstrated in the eventual adaptations for Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Twisted Metal, and The Last of Us, but those are all far away and there isn't really any reason to become bent out of shape or worry about any of them. Why are there so many bad video-game movie adaptations? A lot of that has to do with how they tackle it. If you are attempting to make a film about something that already has a well-respected following, you have to be able to embrace the finer parts about it while at the same time enabling it to embrace the cinematic aspects that the movie-industry beckons.
Also, a skilled director will be the difference between something worthwhile and something that is most-obviously meant as a cash-in. Ladies and gentleman, have you met Uwe Boll?
If you haven't, some others have, in-fact, some have even referred to him as a modern-day Ed Wood. That is, in other words, calling him one of the worst directors ever. Say what you will, Boll's existence is actually a stroke of genius. By manipulating German laws about filmmaking, Boll has successfully made tons of high-budget films that have been enormous box-office failures. He bought the movie rights to various different video-games, notably Far Cry, Postal, House of the Dead, and Alone in the Dark. He bought the rights quick before everybody realizes how bad he is or by buying them before the video-game is even released, which is what he did with FarCry. I decided to review this film, not because I wanted to bash it but because I reviewed the first video-game and found it for two bucks, so why not?
I don't think it'd be an understatement to say I set my bar of expectations very low for Venom. The 2018 superhero film is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, but is from a production company that is still very much estranged from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has thus far built a reputation for entertaining, well-produced superhero adventures. They aren't all classics, with some very so-so films on their resume, but, for the most part, I'd say I've enjoyed what the MCU has brought to the table, accomplishing the unprecedented feat of creating story-arches that have unfolded across around twenty films now. I think it's appropriate to say Sony might not be learning the best lesson from all of this in-terms of what will make the best films, however.
The Out of Frame Podcast: Ep. 3: Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Team Racing, Crash Twinsanity
Nostalgia is very powerful in the entertainment-industry, as film companies try to appeal to the youth, they simultaneously try to appeal to adults in-search of that child-like wonder they felt in their youth. In 2015, a big-screen feature-film for the Goosebumps was released, and I was on-board. I enjoyed the R. L. Stine novels when I was a kid. A lot of them were derivative and hastily rushed onto book shelves, but, I did have an appreciation and respect for the way R.L. Stine brought old-school monster stories and made them relevant and engaging to a younger audience. It was for that reason a Goosebumps film made a lot sense to me, like the television series that also adapted Stine’s work. I wrote a review of the film on Out of Frame when it was released, and I more-or-less said it was everything it needed to be and would be fun for its core audience, eventually rating it a score of “Decent” or a “5 out of 10”. I was hopeful they would create a sequel, but I didn’t know the likelihood of that. The first film made 150 million worldwide with a production budget estimated of around 60 to 80 million dollars, and when you factor in the amount of the profit that’s divvied up to the theater-chains, then, calculate the amount also invested into marketing the film, there’s no way Goosebumps could’ve broken even on theater sales alone. That said, it seems the film must’ve found a second-life on the home-market and through streaming services, as, the new film Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween did get greenlit and released, this time with a production budget of about half its first film. Does the film flounder the potential of a Goosebumps franchise or does it rise to the occasion to deliver something that can be fun for a new era of fans?
The Purge first arrived in 2013, bolstering the brilliant premise of an event in time where all crime would be considered as legal. In-general, I think we can all admit that a lot of horror franchises tend to milk themselves for all their worth or overstay their welcome, but every now and again, a concept like The Purge arrives that makes sense for the long-haul. The possibilities and angles you could take The Purge are virtually limitless. It could implement elements of a home-invasion horror, which is something we saw in the original film, or incorporate traits of a slasher flick, something seen on some level in the fourth film. It has a lot of ways you could tackle it, but one way, from what we’ve seen so far, it can’t be tackled, is very well. When the first film arrived, it squandered the potential its concept had, and, as I wrote in my review on Mishmashers at the time of its release, it amounted to a Below-Average film. In 2014, I believe they righted their wrongs on a lot of levels. Although The Purge: Anarchy opted for a more action-oriented approach, it at least was able to capture a liveliness and did attempt to realize its concept. My favorite scene from that film involved a swinging pendulum that nearly kills the main-character, and when it doesn’t, it’s met with disappointed reactions from the perpetrators. The reason I liked it is because that’s what I wanted from Purge as a series, a depraved world that doesn’t understand the extent of its misdeeds and allows for a day of uncontrolled chaos. Not only that, but I believed the aesthetic and the amount of people involved would have made fodder for some intense and inspired horror. Imagine a scene where the main-protagonist is being chased around by a madman, and the camera pans out far enough to show several people are experiencing the same thing at the same time. Or escaping one madman only to find another.
Over the years, I’ve found my childhood is filled with foggy representations of the video-games I might have played or the movies I might have watched. My earliest memories of Crash Bandicoot were most certainly on the original PlayStation, particularly by Crash 2, Crash Team Racing, and Crash Bash. Later, the PlayStation 2 platform arguably wasn’t as kind to the orange bandicoot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the PlayStation 2 platform wasn’t fruitful for the franchise. Crash Twinsanity and Crash Tag Team Racing were what I remembered most. Back then, maybe it was because the popularity of the series itself had waned so considerably, I was lucky enough to find Crash Nitro Kart, Crash Tag Team Racing, and Crash Twinsanity all boxed together, priced at a very reasonable twenty-dollars, and it’s from that box-set I review the titles today. The reason I bring up my foggy nostalgic lenses is that even though I remembered Crash Twinsanity fondly, I don’t believe I ever got very far into it. This is because, in my opinion, Crash Twinsanity or Crash 5: The Ambition of Crash and Cortex is the most difficult of the series that I’ve played. When everyone was clamoring about how difficult the new N. Sane Trilogy was, I concurred that the first Crash video-game was a considerably challenging experience, but I thought that it was reasonable, and I think that Crash 2 and Crash 3 had more casual and accessible experiences. It was like night-and-day comparing the original game to its successors, like apples and oranges, or apples to wumpa fruit, I suppose. It has sharp fangs, but does Crash Twinsanity stand out as an experience worth highlighting?
The Conjuring series arrived unexpectedly in 2013, although, in-retrospect, it seemed like we should have anticipated it. James Wan had already flourished and found success with the SAW franchise, the Insidious series, and had more than a handful of horror productions on his resume, it was only a matter-of-time before he had such a financially and critically lucrative break-through. In the 2000s, very few horror films have managed to cross the 300 million thresholds. Even less if you omit series’ that only share strands of the genre’s DNA like The Meg or World War Z. It only leaves The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2, the more-recent adaptation of Stephen Kings’ IT, Annabelle: Creation, and now, The Nun. A film series managing to outdo itself in the horror genre so many times is unheard-of, and while the series may have peaked with the original film from a critical standpoint, although, my favorite of the series remains The Conjuring 2, The Conjuring Universe really is the first time we’ve ever seen an established horror world since the loose-threads that connected the Universal Monster films of yesteryear.
The Out of Frame Podcast - Ep. 2: Incredibles 2, Antman & the Wasp, The Strangers: Prey at Night, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and Tomb Raider
What is Mishmashers (dot) com?
Started in late-2017, Mishmashers.com is a website by brothers Scott Moore and McConnaughay as a way to share their opinion on an array of different topics, as well as shine a light on their written works. Both brothers are passionate about their work and have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to their respected works.
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