Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Universal's Dark Universe Begins

Angelina Jolie is one of the A-Listers still being rumored to join the Dark Universe: the story goes, Universal Studios got behind Jolie's failed By the Sea film (which she did with Brad) in hopes that she would "return the favor" and agree to join the Dark Universe franchise which remakes all Universal's classic monster films in today's world; so far, negotiations are still being negotiated and they can't nail down anything, even Wanted 2. There has been some rumors that Jolie wants to instead work on building a cosmetic and skin care empire to leave Hollywood for good, and that's why she hasn't committed to any additional projects. 
The same song is playing: I have the post for Pirates Of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales completed, I am just finishing up the captions, which you know, is the most detailed-oriented part of the entire blog. I sincerely hope to complete that tonight, however, Grandma has infections in both her legs and she's not doing well, so if I don't get it completed, she needed me.
Okay, so what's going on?
I know you have probably thought plenty of times, "If you are so close to finishing the post, why don't you focus on that and just GET IT DONE?" and that is a perfectly legitimate complaint,.... except that I get burned out. I go in so deep to a couple of scenes, that I need to come up for air and do something different, so I do, and that actually helps me re-group and get the post done. I'm sorry, that's just how I work best.
So, why did Baywatch bomb? First of all, Deayne the Rock Johnson has been talking quite a bit lately on his publicity tour for the film's release about running for president; when someone does that, it means they think the current president isn't doing a good job, and in the American Millennial Civil War currently being waged in our country, not supporting Trump means you don't like/support the people who voted for him, and that happened to be the large portion of The Rock's fan base, so he basically did it to himself by just mentioning politics and alienating the people most likely to go see a film with him in it. The other problem is: those same people don't generally go for "toilet humor," which fills the film to the brim. This is the kind of humor liberals go for, which brings us to our next point: these films are made for a reason, which is, to reach the "uninformed viewer" who doesn't want anything to do with the issues going on in the world in which they live. These aren't the type of people to go see a political drama, but they will watch a film about people swimming on a beach. So why didn't those people go support Baywatch? Because they know that Dwayne Johnson is a conservative, and they were going to (literally) be damned if they supported a conservative. It's possible to look at Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword in somewhat the same vein: because everyone knows Ritchie was married to Madonna, and she is such a liberal, people assume that Ritchie must be a liberal as well, and that certainly ins't without merit (even though I can't imagine he's a liberal with the type of films he makes).
So, the main reason why there is a photo of Dwayne Johnson in this post is because he's in talks to play Universal's Wolfman. That would be one, big, bad Wolfman. I don't know if they would have Johnson portray a mild-mannered man, and then turn into the Wolfman, or if they would do something like what they did with the TV series, The Incredible Hulk (which was playing on the TV when Dom went to visit Johnson's Luke Hobbs in the hospital in Fast and Furious 7) with Bill Bixby portraying Dr Banner and then Lou Ferrigno played The Hulk. The point is, along with Jolie, Johnson is also in talks to join the Universal Dark Universe (but it's possible his commitments to the DC Comic-verse will interfere, as he is reportedly portraying Black Adam in upcoming Justice League films). 
Wonder Woman opens this weekend, and I would seriously consider just having my arm cut-off instead of having to go see that, but I will go see it, at the earliest possible showing, and get that post up asap so I don't have to waste anymore time on it than necessary. Should you go see it? Well, inevitably, there will be references from Wonder Woman to Justice League, coming out November 17, so depending on your desirability to see Justice League, I would let that answer your question (however, I will be going to see it, and I will post any "loose ends" you might need to know in order to have a better viewing experience of Justice League).  Next weekend, we finally get to see The Mummy and the formal launching of the Universal Dark Universe which is the formal reboot of all their classic horror films. I posted this trailer before I got the post for King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword up, and accidentally deleted it, so I am re-posting it because there is an important line of monologue which needs to be highlighted:
At 0:15, we hear the voice of Ardeth Bey (Boris Karloff) saying, "I shall awaken memories of terror and triumph," and the reason Universal wants to start out with that is because it's the truth: all these monster films were about terrors and the triumphs over them: from the intimate scale of our own souls to the international stage of global politics. In spite of quantum leaps in special effects and an ever-rising bar of expectation from viewers, Universal's monster films are still excellent by even the most closed-minded of critics because they accurately reflected the world around them at the time, so much so, that we can still access those terrors and the triumphs over them, today. Then, at 0:59, we hear the scientist say, "The superstitions of yesterday can become the reality of today."
Why?
So, what we know so far is this: Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men, Skyfall) is definitely playing Frankenstein. Tom Cruise has the Mummy, obviously, but no one has Dracula. It has definitely been nixed that the Luke Evans Dracula Untold, which was so good, is NOT the start of the Universal Monster reboot project; why? I think there are at least two good reasons. First, Universal missed out on the advertising campaign which it has clearly started with the trailer posted above, regarding Dracula Untold: it wasn't really advertised as part of the universe, just speculated--but with good reason and authority to back it up--so even though it was a good film and provided a great launch pad, they didn't have that launch pad most ideally suited for where Universal is wanting to land with this project, which leads us to the second point: Alex Kurtzman. Kurtzman is the ideal man to be in charge of the Universal monsters because of his stellar career (indeed, the only two people I could think of who could do a better job would be Christopher Nolan and Guy Ritchie). When Dracula Untold was made, Kurtzman wasn't a part of it, and so he didn't have a hand in how it would fit into the puzzle-pieces of the Universal universe. It's sad, I think everyone who saw it enjoyed it, but we take it for what it is, and wait to see if there is going to be any word on whether or not there will be a Dracula,... how could there not be? So, after The Mummy, which also gives us our Dr. Jeckyll/Mr Hyde in Russell Crowe, there is Van Helsing, and I am concerned about this because they have the guy who did Arrival working on the script, then they also have the guy who did Wrath of the Titans (which I really liked). No one linked to play Van Helsing yet; then The Invisible Man with Johnny Depp in the lead,... if Universal was smart, they made Depp's contract contingent upon how Pirates Of the Caribbean did this weekend, because it would be disastrous to have Depp play a leading role in the Universal Dark Universe at this point: he's done. Then Bride Of Frankenstein. Of course, all this could change, as these are basically just notes on paper, but they are being smart in giving themselves enough wiggle-room that they can make changes if they need to. It's not just about who is going to work well with this film or that film, but ultimately, how they are all going to play together in a Dark Universe reunion. 
To be perfectly honest, films such as Dracula and even Frankenstein were very much about socialism because of the rise of socialism in Europe at this time, which would lead to World War II, whereas films such as Creature From the Black Lagoon were about atmospheric symptoms fueling the social changes ripening for socialism (what was Creature about? Promiscuity and feminism). In other words, the films at that time responded to the political and social threats to the freedom of America so well, that they can do it again, because we are facing the same threats now; because the threats have been so amplified, the films must now be amplified as well. Even if it is the profits of the "Marvel Universe" which prompted the re-boot of the Universal Classic Monsters, I believe that what has really pulled the project through development and attracted some of the talent (though not all, certainly) is the political atmosphere in the world today, which makes it so exciting to anticipate! I promise, before next weekend when The Mummy is released, we will examine the trailers in depth so we are more prepared going into the film.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner