My Favorite Scene: Back to the Future (1985) “The Clocktower”

This week I was having a discussion with a friend about whether directors are really storytellers at all or if they are helpless without a good script.  I don’t think you can have a good movie without a good script.  It’s the foundation of all great films.  I remain perpetually baffled that movies spend $20 million on a special effect but won’t drop a quarter of that on a script.  Some directors are just not great storytellers, but there are some who, when given something solid to work with (like Bob Gale’s great script for Back to the Future) can take those words and bring it to life in a way that exceeds anything printed on a page.  Robert Zemeckis is absolutely at the top of the list of these “storytelling directors”.

Back to the Future, over 30 years after its release, still holds up as one of the great action comedies of recent memory.  The film is full of iconic moments from the hoverboard chase, to Johnny B. Goode, to every time Christopher Lloyd bellows “GREAT SCOTT!”, but my favorite scene is the climactic clocktower set piece.  CineFix in an Art of the Scene piece from a few years ago does a wonderful job of breaking down the nuts and bolts of how one of the most iconic scenes of the 1980s came to life.  What’s probably most stunning is how much of the clocktower scene are practical effects.  In an age when CGI has taken a lot of the ingenuity out of F/X work, you don’t see this kind of brilliance anymore.  Back to the Future worked so well because it blended a great script, a great director, Michael J. Fox in his breakout role, and old-fashioned movie wizardry to tell a time-traveling tale that has, over the decades, become timeless.

Welcome to Marwen Trailer #1 (2018) *Definitely a Most Unexpected Place*

Steve Carell plays a traumatized photographer in the new movie Welcome to Marwen, the true story of artist Mark Hogancamp’s battle with PTSD by creating miniature World War II town.  Director Robert Zemeckis puts a cinematic spin on the story, which was depicted in the 2010 documentary Marwencol. The tech-savvy filmmaker combines flesh-and-blood footage with motion capture action to capture Hogancamp’s fictitious town, which he populated with characters resembling himself, his loved ones and, as Nazis, the men who attacked him and left him brain damaged.

The film’s synopsis states, “When a devastating attack shatters Mark Hogancamp and wipes away all memories, no one expected recovery. Putting together pieces from his old and new life, Mark meticulously creates a wondrous town where he can heal and be heroic. As he builds an astonishing art installation—a testament to the most powerful women he knows—through his fantasy world, he draws strength to triumph in the real one.”

Welcome to Marwen, which opens in time for awards season on November 21st, co-stars Janelle Monae, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger and Eiza Gonzalez.
*Text from Rolling Stone

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In Theaters This Week (6/22/2018): Jurassic World The Fallen Kingdom

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Each Thursday we look at what is going to be coming out in theaters this weekend, show you the trailers for the big releases, predict the box office winner and just generally give you enough of a carrot to pull you through the rest of the work week.  This week sees the return of dinos to the theaters, setting up a Jurassic Word vs. Incredibles battle that should last until the next MCU installment arrives.
Continue reading In Theaters This Week (6/22/2018): Jurassic World The Fallen Kingdom

Creed 2 Trailer #1 (2018) *Bring on the Dragos!!!*

Creed II is the continuation of the Rocky saga and sequel to the 2015 critically-acclaimed and crowd-pleasing 2015 hit Creed, which took in more than $170 million at the worldwide box office. Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), who directed the first film, returns to the franchise as an executive producer on Creed II. The new film is being directed by Steven Caple Jr., who helmed the acclaimed 2016 drama The Land.

Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.

Also reprising their roles from the first film are Tessa Thompson as Bianca, Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne, Wood Harris as Tony ‘Little Duke’ Burton, and Andre Ward as Danny ‘Stuntman’ Wheeler. The new cast is rounded out with Florian “The Big Nasty” Munteanu as Viktor Drago, Dolph Lundgren returning to the role of Ivan Drago and Russell Hornsby as Buddy Marcelle. Creed II will be distributed theatrically in the U.S. by MGM on November 21, 2018, and Warner Bros. Pictures will distribute the film internationally.

*Text from Coming SoonCreed II Poster

My Favorite Scene: Jurassic World (2015) “T-Rex vs. I-Rex”

Has any film ever made more money cruising off of pure nostalgia than Jurassic World?  Recently bumped down to #6 on the box office charts, the 2015 hit still made an absurd amount of money playing on the desire of a new generation to scare their kids with the dinosaurs that traumatized them.  The only thing more hollow than Jurassic World is..well, any other sequel to Jurassic Park.  All the elements from the first film return in the fourth film, but the difference is in the director’s chair: Spielberg turning in his last great blockbuster vs. Colin Trevorrow showing how short of Spielberg he is.

The film’s attempt to differentiate itself borrows a lot from The Lost World (and is apparently what Fallen Kingdom will continue to explore): the weaponization of dinosaurs and genetic editing.  Primary Incompetent Geneticist Dr. Henry Wu’s tinkering in this film led to the creation of the I-Rex, a camouflaging master and T-Rex/Velociraptor hybrid.  I don’t have a big problem with the I-Rex.  It’s a nice creature, and its final battle with the original  T-Rex is fantastic (coulda done without Deus Ex Mosasaur).  But what it represented: a new generation of dinos that were spackled together by scientists rather than recreated from nature is a storyline that I think will eventually extinguish the dinosaur renaissance.  If not in the wake of the fifth film than after the already greenlit sixth.Jurassic World Poster