zaterdag 12 april 2014

Today's Double News: Divergent fanbase can go ape

Today's batch of fairly fresh movie news:

This is getting old. But the trick keeps working in studios' favour, so why not repeat it ad nauseam since the target audience doesn't seem to mind being milked? When it was first announced that the last Harry Potter book would get a double finale, I rejoiced, since I felt there was way too much material for a single movie. I felt that way about books 5 and 6 too though. After that, every successful franchise aimed predominantly at a young adult audience took a hint from this strategy. The trick was repeated with The Twilight Saga, which I - and many others - don't care as much for as for the adventures of said young wizard (basically, not at all) and that time, I experienced it as a nuisance, since all those bloody teenage girls made a mess of my movie theater twice in a row, obnoxiously screaming like such female groupies tend to do. Now The Hunger Games: Mockingjay will undergo the same treatment. I haven't read that book in its entirety, but when I picked it up in a book store and browsed through the last few pages to spoil myself on who died and who didn't, the volume wasn't any thicker than its predecessors, making me wonder whether splitting the movie in two would result in a decent pair of movie. Divergent (or better yet, Allegiant, as is the title of the third book in Veronica Roth's trilogy), same story really. As nobody will deny, it's simply a way for the studio to make more money out of a lucrative franchise, postponing the end as long as they can. Makes you wonder why they don't bother splitting the second novel either. It's barely begun pre-production, so there's still time to do so. I wouldn't have mind if the fifth and sixth Potter installments were comparably chopped up, considering how much material from the books was brisquely swept aside. Why not go that extra mile and give the second Divergent film (Insurgent) a similar treatment? Go fully episodic! Oh wait, that kind of storytelling is what television exists for... Considering TV these days has proven a vastly superior medium in terms of storytelling, it's no surprise Hollywood studios take a hint from its narrative make-up. It starts with splitting up movies in half, who knows, maybe it will end with the return of the Thirties' serials. That's what you get if you chop up stories that might not benefit from being overdone this way.
Then again, Peter Jackson has succeeded in making a threesome of three-hour movies out of a book that is even less imposing in size than the Divergent novels...

At least the Planet of the Apes franchise doesn't have to worry about similar issues, as its origin can be traced back to a book so small in size you're finished reading within an hour. Didn't stop Hollywood from basing five (!) movies off it, though most of it they made up for themselves. And now that the reboot series is in full swing, Pierre Boulle's little novel is ignored altogether, as the new movies base their story off the later entries in the original movie saga, which had little to do with the original story by the French author. Doesn't matter in terms of quality though, as the first movie in the reboot franchise proved quite a solid film, making us forget the dreadful Tim Burton remake of ten years earlier. So far, word on the sequel is equally positive. These freshly released stills indicate that the second movie too incorporates its fair share of story elements from the original movie series for its own purposes. And thanks to the wonders of CGI (and the mo-cap performances of Andy Serkis and others, lest we forget), the apes look more photorealistic than ever. Even when they're riding horses or wielding guns. Now that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is deep in the post-production phase and FX shots are finished on a daily basis, we can expect a deluge of similar pictures in the next few months, showing off just how much animators can convincingly do with their apes nowadays. And if it's true director Matt Reeves has succeeded in balancing story and effects as much as his predecessor on Rise of the POTA, this series too might make it to five films. Or more. There's no restrictions based on the literary source here, after all.

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