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.
Deleted scenes are sometimes more than just cool features on a Blu Ray; little gems that didn’t quite make the final cut. Sometimes deleted scenes are deleted swaths of the film that make a huge impact on the film’s tone, budget, and shooting schedule. Looper (which is a great channel to follow on YouTube for cool videos like this) has put together a piece on the most expensive deleted scenes in Hollywood history from recent films like World War Z and X-Men: Days of Future Past all the way back to The Wizard of Oz. I’m fairly certain the video was made before the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘s massive reshoots last summer. Though Disney hasn’t released a figure on how much it cost (and don’t expect them to), bringing in writer/director Tony Gilroy to help with the process cost $5 million before they even began reshooting 20-30 scenes, so it’s safe to say it would make this list as well. However, when you end up with the #7 grossing film in US history, fiscally it all balanced out.
The piece also mentions the $10 million original opening sequence to Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns that was cut in which the film originally opened with a silent exploration of the ruins of Krypton by Superman in his ship. Superman Returns is a polarizing film, but it’s still my favorite Superman film of the bunch, but this was definitely a good cut. If you have never seen it, it was released back in 2011 in the Superman Anthology Blu Ray set, but thanks to the awesome power of YouTube, I can just plop it below.
9/11. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the World Trade Center’s twin towers. It’s impossible for people to look at those buildings and to see anything other than the horror that occurred nearly 15 years ago. There is; however, another story, a true story, regarding the towers that took place in 1974. A French wire walker, Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), mesmerized New Yorkers one August morning as they looked to the skies and saw Petit perform an extended walk between the North and South Towers of the WTC. It’s a story that’s the antithesis of 9/11. It’s a dream, Petit’s coup. It’s a story of hope, ambition, bravery and wonder and Robert Zemeckis brings it to glorious fruition in The Walk. Continue reading Movie Review: The Walk (2015) *Zemeckis Takes Us to Dizzying Heights!*
If you haven’t been playing Telltale Games; you’ve missed some of the best video games of the last few years. Usually licensed video games are disasters, but Telltale has been making episodic, choose-your-own-adventure games that have tapped into Jurassic Park, The Walking Dead, Fables, and Game of Thrones, among other properties. They’ve just released a full game for Back to the Future that has the original voice cast (Michael J. Fox does a cameo role, but they found a dead-on double to do Marty) and the blessing of the writer Bob Gale. It just debuted on consoles this week. Check out achievements below courtesy of the awesome xboxachievements.com. Continue reading Complete Achievement/Trophy List for Back to the Future: The 30th Anniversary Edition (Xbox, Playstation – 2015)
It’s been awhile since we had a good, old-fashioned montage on the site. We talked a bit yesterday about film scores and how we’ll be examining composers more often in the Latest vs. Greatest column, but Watch Mojo has a very nice Top 10 Iconic Film Scores compilation to kick off your Turkey Day. Continue reading Top 10 Iconic Film Scores Montage