Out of Control

25-Jul-08 12:00 PM by
Filed under Trailers; Comments Off on Out of Control

It's been a month since the Get Smart movie was released, and reviews have been surprisingly positive. All the fans I know of the original television series who saw the movie have enjoyed it, which is not what I expected.

What's also unexpected is the alacrity with which Warner Bros. released a sequel — or more accurately, a spinoff. Bruce & Lloyd Out of Control, which came out on DVD the same day its theatrical sibling hit the silver screen, stars Masi Oka (of Heroes fame) and Nate Torrence as their characters from the Get Smart film. While Maxwell Smart saves the world, Bruce and Lloyd get their own adventure to recover an invisibility cloak that's been stolen from Control's tech division. Here's the trailer:

Though the film hasn't enjoyed the favorable reception of Get Smart, I consider it a creative venture nonetheless. It's ingenious that they thought to use all the film's assets and actors while they were already on the set, saving the cost and effort of recreating it later. It also rides on the coattails of its big brother, and vice versa: fans of Get Smart will recognize the brand name when they see it at the video store, while anyone who hasn't seen the theatrical film but liked this lower-budget alternative may be lured to the box office. And my reservations regarding the remake of the television show may not hold true here, since this is an original adventure with original protagonists.

By the holiday season, we may see a two-disc DVD set that contains both movies. In the meantime, the spinoff can also be purchased or rented on iTunes, where a 7-minute, 90-megabyte "making of" featurette is available for free.

Summer Smashes & Strike-Outs

10-Mar-08 2:06 PM by
Filed under Films; 2 comments.

There's not been much blogging going on around here lately because there's not been much to blog about. Between rehearsing for both Brigadoon and StrawHat auditions, my nights don't leave me much time for movies.

Fortunately, I don't think I'm missing much, as the current fare doesn't offer anything that interests me. But that won't always be the case, and this month marks the beginning of spring — so let's take a look at what will constitute the highlights of this year's summer blockbuster season:

Superhero Movie (March 28): Though I'm not usually a fan of the [Fill in the blank] Movie spoofs, this one looks halfway decent. Unfortunately, it also appears to be a scene-for-scene parody of a movie that came out six years ago. Had this come out in 2003, I wouldn't've missed it in theaters. Now, I'm not sure I care.

Iron Man (May 2): Robert Downey Jr. is a great actor, from Heart and Souls to more recent sleeper hits such as Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (also based on a comic book). Casting him as Tony Stark is a stroke of genius. Though Marvel's past movie adaptations have been hit-or-miss, and Iron Man looks like it could be a bit goofy, I'm hoping it'll hit its mark.

Speed Racer (May 9): I've never watched the anime on which this film is based, and the live-action version looks to have a bit too much CGI for my tastes. Still, I like rooting for the underdog, and Speed's character definitely seems to be that. Plus he has one line that always gives me chills: "It's all I know how to do, and I have to do something." Must be nice to have such conviction…

Prince Caspian (May 16): The second installment in the Chronicles of Narnia is sure to be a hit. Though I recall Prince Caspian being a rather mundane entry in the literary series, I expect the film version will be sufficiently jazzed up.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 16): The Eighties seem to be back with a vengeance: not just with franchises like Aliens vs. Predator and Transformers, but also actors reprising popular roles, like Rocky, Rambo, Die Hard, and now Indiana Jones. Were these actors one-hit wonders, I'd be more skeptical of their clinging to the past, but their versatility and staying power justifies a look at these returns. I'm hesitant about Shia LeBeouf's role in Indiana Jones — he contributed to what I considered the worst film of 2007 — but for Harrison Ford's sake, I'll reserve judgment.

The Incredible Hulk (June 13): The 2003 take on this popular Marvel comic book character was a mess: phony CGI, awkward script, superfluous characters. This sequel, which exchanges Eric Bana for Edward Norton as Dr. Banner, may be more of a reboot than a continuation. If so, I'm all for it. Please let it be as good as the Bill Bixby series!

Get Smart (June 20): Don Adams, Barbara Feldon, and Ed Platt, all under the supervision of Mel Brooks, made this superspy spoof one of the best television shows of all time. I have no interest in seeing a remake that brings back none of that talent. (The omission of Mr. Brooks as a consultant is especially foreboding.)

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (August 1): I actually like this series, with its rock-em sock-em action and evocative cinematography; I always walk out of the theater wanting to go back to school for Egyptology. Brendan Fraser (who cleverly referenced this series in Looney Tunes: Back in Action) was absent from the last entry, 2002's The Scorpion King (which I found wonderfully reminiscent of Kevin Sorbo's Hercules), so I'm looking forward to his return to the franchise this summer.

This summer's charts will be torn up by plenty of other films, such as The Happening, Wall-E, and The Dark Knight — but I don't know enough about these titles to offer judgment at this time.

Of the eleven films I've mentioned, only two are original, not based on existing properties or licenses (three if you count Superhero Movie). Is that a good ratio? It may not matter, as both history and my write-ups above indicate that a known property is no guarantee of success. Regardless of their origin, what films are you looking forward to this summer?

[All release dates are courtesy Film-Releases.com]

Missed It By That Much

27-Jan-07 12:44 AM by
Filed under Celebrities, Television, Trailers; 9 comments.

Get Smart was the first "classic" show I stumbled across in a summer that began a love affair with Nick at Nite. The show and its brethren were sheer genius: famous actors in classic situations, presenting clean comedy my parents and I could enjoy together. My family continues to bond over this media even today: our recent Christmas gift to each other was the complete series on DVD. (not in stores until November 2007!)

The connection went beyond the screen, too. Even if I didn't yet know the word "deadpan" — a style I also admired from Johnny Carson — it was a quality I first loved, and later practiced, as a result of Don Adams' example. Though we have lost the likes of such gentlemen as Mr. Adams, Mr. Carson, and Ed Platt, I am relieved that we can still count among us Barbara Feldon, in whose recent book, Living Alone and Loving It, I was delighted to empathize with this belief:

The emotional excess of music felt more real than the muted emotion and soft demeanor I expressed in daily life. When I was this passionately engaged I didn't need anything else to "complete" me; not a man, not a career affirmation. I only had to give in to the music to live an immense life that I could experience any time I chose.

Now, as I am reminded by this news story, that heritage is to be passed on to a silver screen adaptation… and I find myself stricken with trepidation. Get Smart has been revived often enough, IMHO: the 1980 film The Nude Bomb, the 1989 film Get Smart, Again!, and Andy Dick/Elaine Hendrix's failed Fox TV revival, the eponymous Get Smart. These four entries have alternated between hit and miss, so technically, we are due a successful effort. But I've fallen victim to that flawed statistical logic before, and I'm hesitant to allow my childhood icons to again be disrespected in this manner.

Television shows have best transitioned to modern cinema when the script and director do not take the source material too seriously; only The Brady Bunch Movie has successfully at once lampooned and paid homage to its origin. But Get Smart is already a parody; it can't be further satirized. Though I think Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway could do the roles well, they aren't Don Adams and Barbara Feldon any more than Andy Dick and Elaine Hendrix were.

In my overprotectiveness of my childhood memories, am I the one taking the source material too seriously? Or is this adaptation indeed doomed to fail?