What started out with a bunch of foolish pranks and fun became a very sad week for the world of movie lovers. It’s terrible to lose any one of us, and surely many cinephiles die by the day, but this guy was among the biggest and most important. As it turns out, this week’s Reject Recap seems more filled with bad stories than good. Of course, it’s a week in which we saw a lot of recycling and — appropriately for the holiday that fell recently — resurrection of properties including Jurassic Park, Evil Dead and Finding Nemo. Looking over the list of the ten big stories, it’s a pretty disappointing time for us in general.
Well, it’s not disappointing as a reader, as we hosted a bunch of great writing this week and also found some notable features by friends at other sites. Strewn through, we share some videos of Roger Ebert‘s reviews of films being discussed.
We lost the most famous film critic this week, and with Roger Ebert it’s not just that we remember a great man. We’re experiencing a hole in the universe. Following Kate’s initial report, Landon wrote a longer appreciation, noting that “his death is significant because, up until now, he seemed a ubiquitous presence for many of us. From the syndicated Siskel & Ebert to his facebook page, Ebert has remained a prolific, ever-present, and (I assume, for most) welcome presence.”
Should you head to the theater to see a 20-year-old film just because it’s on a bigger screen and the dinosaurs are given even more dimension? Kate says yes. One of her 11 reasons to see Jurassic Park 3D is this simple: “Who cares about the 3D? That’s a bonus. They could have just re-released Jurassic Park in theaters and it would have been a true cinematic treat. The 3D is the icing on top of the pile of desserts you get after being thrown from an electrified fence.”
Remember the other dino-filled tentpole from 1993? The one that bombed as big as Jurassic Park succeeded? Over at Grantland, Karina Longworth wrote a long piece on Super Mario Bros.. On its relevance today: “Super Mario was weirdly, dispiritingly prescient: What are films like Battleship or A Good Day to Die Hard if not blatant exploitations of a brand name that totally ignore that brand’s function and meaning, parasites designed to leech off of warm feelings about past amusements, produced with no understanding of what made people fans of those brands to begin with? As a movie whose essence, in terms of story and tone, changed radically from inception through production and into its finished form, with fidelity to the source apparently an afterthought, Super Mario Bros. would be an early bellwether of Hollywood’s current practice of stripping its brands down to character names, and maybe actors, in order to keep franchises churning indefinitely. ”
Speaking of keeping franchises churning indefinitely, we got official news on the sequel to Finding Nemo, which is titled Finding Dory. Nathan commented on the backlash, evoking Disney’s belief in Super Mario Bros.: “There seems to be a lot of negative sentiment around the Internet regarding Pixar making sequels to all of their hit movies. The general opinion seems to be that Pixar’s great strength is its originality, so going back over material that it’s already covered is abandoning what brought it to the dance in favor of lazy coasting. That’s not a completely invalid argument, but the fact remains that millions of children all over the world are going to be ecstatic to hear that there’s a new Finding Nemo movie coming out anyway.”
We can’t say for sure until the actual movie comes out, but from the trailer alone, The Wolverine looks like a mash-up of scenes recycled from past installments of the X-Men fil series. J.F. jokingly laid it out in screencaps, including the part where: “Wolverine uses his claws to hang on to something moving way too fast. Here, we’ve actually taken a step backwards, since in Origins we got to see Wolverine dangling from a helicopter… But this time all we get is a train.”
With the Evil Dead remake hitting theaters, Adam listed five untouchable horror classics (including Rosemary’s Baby and Jaws)and then ten that are okay to redo (Scanners, Christine). Here’s his reasoning against a Monster Squad remake: “it’s almost impossible to replicate the cast (especially the youngsters), and more so Black’s sharp-witted writing. This is something that Joss Whedon would do and do well, but even Whedon would have a very difficult time finding these types of kids to fill these kinds of roles. Not to mention, Duncan Regehr as Dracula gives one of the more under-noticed portrayals of the character. It’s top 3 of all-time level stuff. A new take on the flick probably wouldn’t be a failure, but it’s most certainly gonna come off as merely a poser.”
Our friend Jenni Miller walked out of her Evil Dead screening and then wrote about why in her Filminism column at Film.com. And why it’s okay: “as a film critic, as a professional, and as a woman in a predominantly male profession who often feels that I have a little extra to prove. That I have to be a little louder to get my questions answered in a roundtable interview full of my peers who are more than happy to talk right over me. That I have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Sylvester Stallone’s catalogue so that when I’m assigned to review his latest movie, I can fend off the commenters. That I have to be ready at all times to show that I can be unwaveringly critical and unbiased instead of emotional, even though much of the time, movies are supposed to provoke a reaction. Hell, “Evil Dead” was supposed to provoke viewers to be super grossed out — it’s a feather in the filmmakers’ cap that I freaked out.”
Last year a silent film won Best Picture. Was it only the beginning? With two more dialogue-free films to come out since, Landon looked at the “comeback,” concluding: “Blancanieves and Tabu, respectively, fully embrace the forgotten techniques of silent filmmaking and search for new sound/silent hybrids. Together, these films demonstrate that silent cinema is not an ancient referent or a potential tool for cinematic gimmickry, but a form of aesthetic and emotive communication still completely unique to the medium of film and full of unrealized possibilities, a form whose range of expression was cut short by the premature standardization of new movie technologies. Critics who decried the coming of sound over eighty years ago may have been right in terms of the hold sound would put on silent-style possibilities. But as recent European cinema proves, the early 1930s were hardly the end of silent cinema.”
Easter has passed (unless you’re Orthodox), but you can still enjoy David’s list of characters who come back from the dead, which includes Back to the Future, The Lord of the Rings and The Princess Bride. His response to the resurrection in The Matrix: “Can anyone explain this? Was this resurrection-by-plot-loophole? ‘You can’t die because The One can’t die. And since I’m supposed to love The One and I love you, then you’re The One. And The One can’t die, so you can’t die.’ And then it actually works? Like the movie gods just step in and say, ‘Yeah, no – those bullets don’t count because love and you’re the main character after all.” And then we all just move on with the plot like something weird didn’t just happen.'”
Another thing back from the dead. Scott reported: “You’ve known that it was coming, you’ve planned for it, you’ve reupholstered your sofa for it, so this is merely a public service announcement to inform you that the new 15-episode season of Arrested Development is hitting Netflix on Sunday, May 26th.”
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