What is the deal with theatrical movies—opposed to made-for-tv movies—that recycle title names for unrelated movies? A couple of examples includes the college themed adult romp Kicking and Screaming (1995) vs a children’s soccer team tale Kicking & Screaming (2005) and murdering street punk enduring reform school in Bad Boys (1983) vs comedic superstars playing buddy cops for Bad Boys (1995). I am not concerned with the legality mumbo jumbo that panders around cases like this. My focus lingers on the absence of concern from producers regarding their newer films being incorrectly associated with or mistaken for the older counterparts that these films share identical names with. I suppose these risks are too minimal for anybody to invest any significant fret over. Yet when a potential blockbuster in the making is getting drawn out, it appears a bit disrespectful to proverbially step on the back of an earlier hit by stealing its entitled identity. Else maybe the films in question weren’t ever considered hits and the only thing they had of value were their names? I wonder how those conversations pans out?
David Franzoni: “We have a problem Ridley. It seems there already is a movie called Gladiator that was released less than a decade ago. Should we change our movie’s name?”
Ridley Scott: “No shit? Another fallen general turned rogue badass who makes a mockery of the Cesar by working his way up through the gladiatorial ranks?”
David Franzoni: “Not quite. It is about a kid from Chicago who accepts enlistment into an underground boxing circuit to make a living.”
Ridley Scott: “Interesting. Who’s in it?”
David Franzoni: “Well, it stars James Marshall.”
Ridley Scott: “Who the hell is that?”
David Franzoni: “That Pfc Downey kid on A Few Good Men, the one with the vapid expression of career failure.”
Ridley Scott: “Meh! Anybody important in the movie?”
David Franzoni: “Cuba Gooding Jr.”
Ridley Scott: “Hmmm. Anybody else?”
David Franzoni: “That old dude from Cocoon.”
Ridley Scott: “Wow! The guy who used to do those Quaker Oats commercials?”
David Franzoni: “No. The other guy who played one of the aliens in the movie.”
Ridley Scott: “Screw that! We’re keeping the Gladiator name.”
In a reverse scenario, the movie to follow doesn’t always necessarily do the name sharing predecessor justice…
Susan Sarandon: “Fuck you Twilight vampires.”
(Please note that the previous conversations were entirely fabricated and do not reflect the opinion and attitude of David Franzoni, Ridley Scott, nor Susan Sarandon in any manner.)
On another topic, does it not strike you funny that the only word in the vocabulary of a zombie is “brains!”? It is an embedded pop culture thing that we as a society have come to accept but know so little regarding its origin. Only the rarest of horror or zombie fanatics may know that it was writer/director Dan O’Bannon’s with John Russo (of Night of the Living Dead fame) backed flick, Return of the Living Dead (1985) that placed a voice and a catch word to the undead who stalk the living. Aside from the graphically talented makeup effects that made the likes of the infamous Tarman into the menacing icon he is today, the movie had little going to make the impact it inspired. Still, since I’ve brought it up, you should check the movie out and prepare for a terrifying and at times comically entertaining time. As a bonus, you’ll encounter what is still the most hopelessly unstoppable zombie type ever featured in film. Attacking the head doesn’t work, dismemberment is too difficult and not entirely effective, setting the cadaver ablaze will just make things worse in ways you couldn’t possibly had foreseen. Enjoy!
We here at Cinematic Impact admire George Lucas for making the movie Red Tails. It is nice to see a dominantly African American cast guiding a story of courage, skill, and triumph instead of the Jesus & barbecues Blaxploitation comedies that get pez dispensed by Tyler Perry. Despite Lucas’ endearing attempt, it still feels like this man just likes making films that showcase what his effects studio, Industrial Light & Magic can do. I lost faith in the quality of stories in the movies that Lucas produces and more so can expect in his films to see more CG than live territory, or at times even than the actors themselves. My gripe isn’t specifically with Lucas himself as it is with the abuse of CGI. Lucas just happens to be the reigning king of cram feeding this technology to the point that very little ever feels real anymore. I convinced myself as a child that I wasn’t going to cling onto movies of my past (70’s to early 90’s) as being superior to the advanced technologies of today, which I feared I would probably age into resenting like a scared old man. Yet when I pop in the classic Exorcist (1973) and see a makeup plastered believably demonic Linda Blair shouting epithets at the frosty breathed priests, I still get chills as everything looks compellingly organic. It is a far cry from the computer generated eyes that turn black and CGI child crawling the ceilings in a laughably surreal manner. It is those moments where you watch the action unfold and become engaged to the point that you forget that you aren’t watching documentary footage of an actual tragedy, that excitement clenches the senses. CGI has its obvious benefits and when used articulately it can be quite the mind trip. Too much just looks like a stylish cartoon with live acting.
Caution, the following rant is rated R for extreme language and discussion of sexual situations…
This final point goes out as a sincere question to our readers. Do you think that the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) rating system effectively pools movies based on their content to the targeted audience that they are intended for? I ask this because I feel the ratings systems explanations are too ambiguous on what exactly qualified the movie in that category and what content offsets the different ratings is not measured in the manner of importance that it probably should adhere to, namely the volume of sex, drugs, violence, and language that is depicted. A PG-13 rating because of strong language could simply be one of the characters saying “fuck” once in a non-sexual manner, whereas the penalty for saying “fuck” more than once in a non-sexual manner or “He wants to fuck her.” Instantly qualifies that movie to be Rated R. This seems a bit misguided considering that a PG-13 movie could still be chock full of sexual innuendos, colorful euphemisms, and other inappropriate albeit socially acceptable language (i.e., shit, damn, bitch) without any influence on the PG-13 rating. It also seems a bit silly that harsh language and prolonged nudity are held in such strict precedence over that of depicted violence. I would much rather be called a dickhead a dozen times before having a kid swing a bat at my junk. Also, firing guns, launching rockets, lobbing grenades, and even charging with bladed weapons is always within the confines of a PG-13 rating and depending on its length and delivery style, even acceptable for that of a PG rating. So go enjoy the PG rated film Poltergeist (1982) kids. It might show scenes of a man peeling his face off until reaching the bone, a kid being strangled by his doll, and a woman swimming with corpses, but at least nobody says any harsh bad words in it!