Chronicle — motion picture review

Written by Max Landis.

In writing Chronicle, Landis has created the film character I personally find the most relatable. Andrew Detmer is an enclosed, anti-social school student with power fantasies and inappropriate sexual desires. There’s even a scene where, with his newly-found telekinetic powers, he accidentally spunks all over a girl. It goes in her hair, everywhere.

When people talk about “superheroes” – or in this case, just people with advanced capabilities – they often talk about the dark side. People say Jennifer Lee‘s Frozen is about the dark side of having superpowers, or that David S. Goyer‘s Man of Steel was trying too hard to be. But just because a story explores the dark side of abilities, that doesn’t mean they’re actually showing us the darker side of that character. People only think they are, because often characters become defined by what they do. Instead, what Landis and Fantastic Four director Josh Trank do is to introduce us to this corrupt Hobbit of a teenager, and then put him in a situation where you know he’s going to become upgraded. This isn’t as if Peter Park decides to use his identity as Spider-Man to help people, and then in the third act, the dark side of his powers start to show – instead, we’re shown how truly disturbed this person is, so that it becomes ironic and dangerous for him to then be blessed with the power of flight. Rather than seeing his development into a supervillain, you can already see that he’s one cliched lab accident away from actually being one to start with, which makes the story less a tragedy and more of a sick comedy, as if the situation happened to the wrong person. Fate was aiming for the school photographer, but instead it accidentally zapped Lex Luthor, if you look past Dane DeHaan also being Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Alex KurtzmanRoberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner). If only he could spunk into my hair, too…

There’s a tradition of “superhero” films (although there’s some debate about whether this is one of them) entering a revisionist “post-comic” era, where characters are dark and realistic. And gritty. The problem with this is that they end up doing what Arrow does – taking on a certain style as to appear dark and gritty, but actually just being a bit pretentious. Storytelling is about the mind, and its condition, and what some people are capable of if they’re given the right circumstance. Rather than shoot everything at night in the rain and have the characters talk in muffled voices, instead the first act decides to just establish who they are. So before anything even really happens, we can see the world as being set-up to be three different worlds for each character, before bringing them into the same story and following each of them to see what happens. It’s like a scientific experiment, but without the need to have any actual scientific experiments.

Yes, parts of it are very dark. But that isn’t brought across in the visual style or by having Michael Caine explain the themes of the story in one monologue instead of threading it into that story, it comes from within. When Detmer starts pulling someone’s teeth out and dismembering a fly, and crushing a car, it’s personal actions he chooses to take. But they make sense, because we already know who he is. This is not an origin story. Origin stories are about how aliases come to exist, using characters as conduits for them. This is about taking three different characters from three different worlds and inserting the element of the “superhero” genre and seeing where that takes them. The realism is only there because it is, and not because it’s trying to hail a renaissance in filmmaking. The found footage concept – Trank’s idea – does contribute to the story in an atmospheric way. It makes it more grounded, so the style doesn’t have to be forged.

And yet, Chronicle‘s real triumph is the way it makes you wish you could unleash you inner supervillain. Torturing defenceless creatures and blowing a cheerleader’s skirt over her hair – tell me you too haven’t fantasised about these things. Were I to acquire those abilities, I’d probably make creepy videos of me showing my tooth collection, too. I’d put them next to the dead months on my windowsill. Seriously, if I had X-ray vision… damn. I’d be a twenty-four hour tripod, undressing people with my eyes. What I suppose I’m trying to say is that Andrew comes from a place deep inside us, a force within, that nature wants to unleash. He’s the Human condition, the primal instinct to survive. And he’ll commit any unorthodox acts to do so, because that’s just the advantage he has.

Apart from the shitty domestic background, I so wish I could be like Andrew Detmer…

Screenwriter’s Dispatch: James Gunn’s The Belco Experiment

On his Facebook page, James Gunn announced his new project, The Belco Experiment. South America’s The Belco Company is sealed-off and the employees told to kill each other or be killed themselves, leading to an escalation of violence revealing truths about The Belco Company’s employees. Gunn said

It’s a script I wrote a few years ago, for which I have always had a deep love. Believe it or not, it’s a film that first came to me in a dream, and I woke up and wrote the first draft in a two-week fugue state binge. One of the first people to ever read the script, Jonathan Glickman, carried it around with him for years until becoming President of MGM, when he approached Peter Safran and I about financing it. I was all for it, providing two things: 1) Although it has the heart and humor my films have all had, it is also the most intense and uncompromising script I’ve ever written. It would need to stay true to that. 2) I’d only do it if we found the right director – which, in some ways, I thought was unlikely.

Reporting on producer Beryl Vertue’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Radio Times mentioned Jed Mercurio‘s next project to be an adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

According to The Hospital ReporterG.I. Joe 3‘s added Aaron Berg to join D.J. Caruso.

Deadline reports Alex Ross Perry has been hired by Disney to write a Winnie the Pooh feature with an adult Christopher Robin, who imagines the characters, returning to the Hundred Acre Wood.

Bill Prady and Bob Kushell are reportedly writing a pilot episode of a new Muppets show, in-which the Muppets gather at ABC Studios to discuss their new show. Miss Piggy needs to sign on for production to go ahead, but her relationship with Kermit The Frog is becoming complicated. Fozzie’s girlfriend and her parents are said to be guest stars.

Stephen Volk is writing a three-part adaptation of Midwinter Spirit. Vicar Merrily Watkins’ investigations into the occult and supernatural lead her to helping police investigations with a crucification connected to a hospitalised animal abuser while dealing with her failing marriage. Producer Kieran Roberts said

We’re very excited to be going into production on Midwinter of the Spirit, especially with such an amazing cast. We’re also thrilled that Stephen Volk’s superb adaptation of Phil Rickman’s gripping and chilling novel is one of the first original commissions for ITV Encore.

Ricky Gervais is writing a remake of satire French Correspondence about journalists who fake their own kidnappings during a South American uprising. Gervais said

It’s great to be part of the changing future

The British Television Academy have announced the nominations for the House of Fraser British Academy Television Awards:

  • Jeff Pope‘s Cilla is nominated for Mini Series.
  • Peter Morgan‘s The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries is nominated for Mini Series.
  • Sally Wainwright‘s Happy Valley is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Harry Williams and Jack Williams‘ The Missing is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Jed Mercurio‘s Line of Duty is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy‘s Moone Boy is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Harry Enfield‘s Harry & Paul’s Story of the Twos is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Mackenzie Crook‘s Detectorists is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • James Cordon and Matthew Baynton‘s The Wrong Mans is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Andrew Davies‘ A Poet in New York is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Regina Moriarty‘s Murdered by my Boyfriend is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Jimmy McGovern‘s Common is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Peter Bowker‘s Marvelous is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Nick Pizzolatto‘s True Detective is nominated for International.
  • Beau Willimon‘s House of Cards is nominated for International.
  • Jenji KohanSara Hess and Sian Heder‘s Orange is the New Black is nominated for International.

Screen Daily reports James McEachen has written climber George Mallory biopic In High Places. Mallory’s body was discovered in 1999 800 feet from Mt. Everest’s summit from a 1924 expedition. McEachen said

I have been fascinated by George Mallory for as long as I can remember. That led directly to my own Himalayan climbs in the 90s, including leading an expedition to 27,766 foot Makalu in 1992. It was this direct experience that gave me a deep-seated respect for the bold imagination and war-hardened bravery that Mallory and his companions displayed in their quest for the summit of Everest – long before the age of Gore-Tex and titanium.

It’s been described as “an epic story about the uncompromising nature of character and the sometimes overwhelming power of dreams”

Deadline report Carl Ellsworth has been hired to write the remake of Gremlins.

They also report Peter Craig is writing an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.

The Guardian report Sky has commissioned Simon McDonald‘s Fortitude for a second season, featuring characters that survive.

According to The Hollywood ReporterJames Wood has adapted Jacked: the Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, chronicling Grand Theft Auto executive producer Sam Houser’s battle with anti-videogame activist attorney Jack Thompson, and the rise of the series into populist infamy as a world of controversy and satire.

Radio Times report Peter Bowker has written a three-part adaptation of the novel Capital by John Lancaster, about the accomplished and unaccomplished of Pepys Street receiving a note reading “We Want What You Have”. Executive Producer Derek Wax said

John Lanchester’s wonderful, comic epic of London life, Capital, has been brilliantly adapted by Peter Bowker. I am so delighted that our production has attracted such a terrific cast.

Badass Digest report Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are writing Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Avengers: Infinity War Part II.

Deadline reports Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner are writing the first draft of an adaptation of The Gunslinger, Stephen King’s first book in the Dark Tower series, based on the relationship between Roland and Jake, blending horror and fantasy.

Variety reports Brad Bird has begun writing The Incredibles 2. They quoted him, saying:

I’m just staring to write it, so we’ll see what happens

According to The Hollywood ReporterJ.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have rewritten Flash Gordon.

TIME have voted Richard LinklaterAmy SchumerJill SolowayKevin HartChristopher Nolan and John Oliver as their most influential artists of the year.

At Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, the amended title and synopsis for Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta‘s Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One has been released:

A rogue band of resistance fighters unite for a mission to steal the Death Star plans and bring a new hope to the galaxy.

Mark Gatiss has spoken to Radio Times about the upcoming Sherlock special, set in 1895, which he’s co-written by with Steven Moffat:

Over the years we’ve always been across each other’s Sherlock scripts because we want it to be holistic, but the upcoming episode is the first time we’ve actually written together. It’s been a real joy. I think it will carry on for the next series.

At the Tribeca Film Festival, Meryl Streep revealed she’s funding a writing laboratory for over-fourties females run by New York Women in Film and Television and taking place in North New York. Named the Writing Lab, it will be accepting from 1st May to 1st June, with eight winners to be announced 1st August. Mentors participating this year are Gina Prince-BythewoodKirsten Smith and Jessica Bendinger.

Deadline reports Jeffrey Bell and Paul Zbyszewski are writing the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s spinoff.

They also report Wes Craven is adapting We are all Completely Fine, about psychologist Dr. Jan Sayer gathering five horror scenario survivors, and discovering their dark past through support groups, as well as the monsters within and around them. Universal Cable Productions Executive Vice President Dawn Olmstead said

Wes is an icon whose films have captivated audiences for decades. We’re thrilled to be working with him and to be able to bring his enormous talent and unique blend of horror, humor and intelligence to television.

Craven’s also co-producing an adaptation of The People Under the Stairs, written by Michael Reisz, which reveals the secrets of a manor house after a death occurs there.

According to The Hollywood ReporterChad Hayes and Carey Hayes are re-writing The Conjuring, allegedly the true story of Carla Moran, who was physically and sexually abused by a supernatural demon, despite a doctor considering the abuse self-inflicted based on past trauma.

Entertainment Weekly reports Akiva Goldsman is collaborating with a new team of writers to expand the Transformers series into a cinematic universe. Hasbro Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner said

We have in fact brought in Akiva Goldsman to lead a group of writers to really create a strategic plan around Transformers. We think there are any number of stories to be told from the brand that has been around for 30 years with amazing canon and mythology.

Deadline reports Simon Beaufoy has written Battle of the Sexes, based on the tennis match between Billie King and Bobby Riggs, after several years of writing in collaboration with King. Meanwhile, David Auburn has also written a screenplay around the same event, as is Steve Conrad.

Indian Country Today Media Network reports the Navajo actors of The Magnificent Seven spoof The Ridiculous Six walked-off the set due to what they interpreted as an offensive script by Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy. Examples given include the character names Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, a Navajo character sitting and squatting while smoking a peace pipe and feather inappropriately positioned on a teepee. Actor Loren Anthony said

One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s breath. One character says “Hey, Beaver’s Breath”. And the Native woman says, “How did you know my name?” When we did speak with the main director, he was trying to say the disrespect was not intentional and this was a comedy.

Goldie Tom said

We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said “It’s in the script and we are not going to change it.”

Marvel Entertainment have announced Captain Marvel‘s being written by Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve.

The Hollywood Reporter claim Fifty Shades Darker is to be adapted by the source material’s writer’s husband, Niall Leonard, and that he worked in Fifty Shades of Grey but was uncredited. Producer Michael De Luca said

Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty.

Doctor Who Head Writer Steven Moffat‘s commented to Radio Times on the way the Doctor will be written in Series 9 and the decision to make the season consist of two-parters:

There is a temptation if you go into a second series with a Doctor, you think, “last series, that’s major”. You’ve got a new guy – what’s he going to wear, what’s he going to be like, is he good in those scenes, is that close up working for him? Everything is new and you solve all that. And there could be a danger that you go, “ah, it’ll be easy now”, because you’ve got an established Doctor so you’ve got to make it difficult again. You’ve got to do something different. What you always have to do with Doctor Who is not relax, is not to think we’ve cracked it now. We’re continuing to develop his Doctor which is a thing he’s very keen on. He doesn’t just want to come back being the same Doctor. He wants to move it on. That 45-and-out rhythm has served us incredibly well for ten years, but there is a slight sense sometimes – about 35 minutes into the episode, you expect the hero music. They’re not all two-parters – sometimes they’re just linked episodes. It’s just making you slightly unsure you’ll get through the story by the time the music comes up. We’ve all got to be on our toes, can’t be relaxed.”

Deadline reports Thomas Schnauz is writing Beanstalk, the Jack and the Beanstalk installment in Disney’s live-action universe.

The Verge reports Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are writing the treatment for an animated Spider-Man standalone.

Variety reports Robert Gordon‘s adapting Galaxy Quest for television.

After Valiant Entertainment announced its plans to adapt its comic books, details have now emerged from Variety:

  • Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer are adapting Bloodshot, a government-resurrected soldier turned into a memoryless killing machine.
  • Heisserer is also adapting Harbinger, philanthropist Toyo Harder’s foundation pursuing superpowered beings.

The CW Television Network’s released the synopsis for Ben Sokolowski and Brian Ford Sullivan‘s Arrow: This is Your Sword:

AL SAH-HIM TAKES HIS FINAL STEPS TO ASCENSION; ROY AND THEA REUNITE — Oliver/Al Sah-him finishes his training and is left with two final tasks to become the next Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s threatens Nyssa and delivers some shocking news. Meanwhile, Malcolm makes a surprising offer to Team Arrow and Thea goes to see Roy.

Radio Times report Julian Fellowes is adapting Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne into a TV drama trilogy, about the character as he lives in Greshamsbury with his wife Mary, who grew up with her siblings Auguster Beatrice, Alexandrina and Frank, who mother Arabella’s discovered desires Thorne’s niece after his father abandoned the family with no money. Fellowes said

My own favourite among the great nineteenth century English novelists and certainly the strongest influence over my work that I am conscious of. It is tremendously exciting and satisfying to know that my adaptation of one of his best-loved novels is coming to ITV. I could not be more delighted.

ITV Drama Director Steve November said

We’re delighted to be working with Julian once again on the drama Doctor Thorne. It’s a rich and multi-layered story of class and social standing and a timeless love story which Julian has brought to life brilliantly with his inimitable wit and warmth.

The Daily Mail report Peter Morgan‘s writing a two-seasoned, twenty-episode bio-drama of the royal family, The Crown. Subjects covered involves the relationship between Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street and co-operation of constitutional matters. One such topic is King George Windsor granting Princess Elizabeth Windsor permission to marry her third cousin and deposed Greek heir apparent Lieutenant Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which generated controversy for being considered a financial deal or an untraditional mix of nationalities within British royalty. Episode one is focused on the wedding and its drama. It’s hoped the twenty-episode run this will begin will expand to sixty episodes to cover Elizabeth’s entire reign as Queen, and George’s heir apparent. A decision is reportedly still being made on whether to write Elizabeth’s mother and George’s husband, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as comic relief or a tragic figure.

The BAFTA TV Craft Awards have awarded Writer: Drama to Sally Wainwright‘s Utopia and Writer: Comedy to Mackenzie Crook‘s Detectorists.

Avatar composer James Horner’s revealed to Hey U Guys James Cameron‘s screenplay details for the rest of the the series:

A lot of it will take place underwater. Right now, Jim has a script that he’s got – he’s got four sequels, script-wise, and he’s trying to keep it to three. He’s got so much going on, how do you keep that from expanding into a fifth sequel?

Netflix have announced Jared Stern‘s adapting Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham into a thirteen-part series.

Jeff Pope will be awarded The Alan Clarke Award on 10th May, it’s been announced by BBC News. British Television Academy Committee Chairman Andrew Newman called Pope

one of the finest exponents of his craft

while Pope said

I tend to always to be moving forward onto the next thing, so if ever there was going to be a moment to stop and look back at the work I’ve done, this is it. Writing is all about facing down the tyranny of the blank screen, but my message to all aspiring writers is that once you’ve hit that first key, you discover it’s really not so difficult as you’d imagined.

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed allegations relating to the approach taken to screenwriters by DC Entertainment:

In the early going, some in Hollywood are questioning whether Warner[ Bro]s has acted too much in haste without having fleshed out the world on which so much hinges. Grumbling among talent reps came especially in response to the studio’s strategy of hiring five writers to compete for a job on Wonder Woman, which has a June 2017 release date. On Aquaman, set for 2018, sources say Warner[ Bro]s commissioned scripts from three writers, one of whom followed the studio’s direction only to be told the rules governing the universe had changed and his work no longer was usable. Another writer has been on hold for the film for months as the studio works to define its vision. “They just haven’t been thorough about their whole world and how each character fits and how to get the most out of each writer’s time by giving them direction,” says a rep with knowledge of the process. On Wonder Woman, Warner[ Bro]s hired five writers not to work together but to compete. Each was given a treatment and asked to write a first act. Based on those efforts, the studio winnowed the number to two: Jason Fuchs (Pan) and another writer whose name the studio declines to reveal. A source not involved in the films but with close ties to the studio says the process on Wonder Woman “felt like they were throwing shit against the wall to see what stuck.” Before the five writers were brought aboard, sources say [producer] Roven asked Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades of Grey, Saving Mr. Banks) to work on the script, though a Warner[ Bro]s insider says she was never officially hired. Sources say she decided not to proceed based on her concern about the number of players who were involved — particularly when Warner[ Bro]s hired director Michelle MacLaren, whose vision contrasted sharply with Marcel’s. MacLaren subsequently left the project and was replaced quickly by Patty Jenkins, who, ironically, had been dropped by Marvel on Thor: The Dark World after being heralded as the studio’s first female director. Warner [Bro]s has had several writers pen scripts for Aquaman, set to star Jason Momoa, who will feature in November 2017’s Justice League movie. Those writers include Will Beall, Jeff Nichols and Kurt Johnstad, who now is on hold until the studio is ready to proceed.

The Wrap reports Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs have been hired by Sony to each write the next two installments of the Jump Street series: an all-female version and a crossover with Men in Black21 Jump Street was a satire of reboots, 22 Jump Street of sequels and 23 Jump Street is to be of shared universes.

IGN reports Michael Green‘s been hired as the newest Wolverine III screenwriter, working either to or from a draft by David James Kelly.

What the Marvel/Sony deal could, does and should mean…

Marvel Entertainment released a press statement today, confirming that, after a long series of negotiations with Sony Pictures Entertainment, who own Spider-Man’s live-action rights, the character was finally to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside characters such as Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

First, it’s been confirmed that this Spider-Man will be a new incarnation, which will likely require a recasting. The top names reported are Logan Lerman – Sony’s second choice after incumbent Andrew Garfield – and Zac Efron, though America’s Matt Smith, Donald Glover, is a popular choice as well. If Glover were cast, it’s possible Sony would have chosen to start a new Spider-Man series with the Miles Morales identity rather than Parker. Personally, I find that unlikely, since it’s probably a soft reboot with little continuity than the basics, and that would mean the new Spider-Man will still be Parker. Which isn’t to say the series won’t develop into Morales being involved, but that’s only likely to happen once the new Parker’s already established. If Morales were to be featured eventually, I wouldn’t say no to Glover being cast. But I would protest to him being cast as Parker, because he’s much more suited as an actor to Morales. He’s a much more interesting character, and Glover’s probably a decent actor, so it would be a shame to miss that opportunity for combination by wasting the potential just to cast Glover as the de facto Spider-Man, rather than a character far more suited to him. Regardless of who’s cast as Spider-Man, there are a lot of actors capable of doing it. Someone we’ve seen before isn’t necessarily a stunt cast, but could help ease the transition to a new version. And a name we haven’t heard before could work, but Sony might not expect the audience to accept a completely new face. SPE Motion Picture Group President Doug Belgrad said,

“This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future”,

implying Parker will still be the cinema version of the character.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll have to experience his origin story for a third time. The press release states the new Spider-Man will first be seen in a Marvel Studios production as part of the Cinematic Universe. The implication seems to be that he’ll debut in the solo release of another character. The next MCU release, Joss Whedon‘s Avengers: Age of Ultron, has finished principal photography, so it’s likely this appearance will be in Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely‘s Captain America: Civil War. Leaked Sony emails reveal negotiations were already in place for Spider-Man to appear at that point, given his significant role in the comic book storyline Civil War. As these negotiations have finalised, it’s likely to still be the case, especially as it isn’t too late to rewrite the screenplay. Black Panther’s already been confirmed to debut there as well, as it was speculated that the character’s presence was a Spider-Man substitute. Would there be space to add Spider-Man as well? Maybe not and maybe so, but if it turns out to be true, it would be interesting to see how accurately it follows the source material. From what I hear, Civil War‘s major event is Spider-Man revealing his secret identity to the press, which would be a difficult event to reverse if Sony change their mind. What is confirmed about this release is that it’s going to happen before the 28th July 2017, which means, if not Captain America: Civil War, it would be either Jon Spaihts‘ Doctor Strange or James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Making his debut Doctor Strange would be a good idea, as Benedict Cumberbatch would already have attracted audiences, and that would provide maximum exposure. I honestly can’t see it being Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which takes place throughout the Milky Way and far from Earth. I like to think they won’t come to Earth because we already lots of other characters for that. Doctor Strange would be the most effective, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 would be the most unlikely, Captain America: Civil War would be the most likely, but there’s still the possibility of a post-credits cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron. If the MCU Spider-Man’s pre-established, he’ll have already experienced his origin story. But there should still be one for clarity’s sake, and a post-credits sequence would be the best opportunity for that. We’d be able to see it, it would officially introduce the character, but it wouldn’t take up any unnecessary time in his solo release.

Which is what the 28th July 2017 date’s now reserved for, shunting future MCU releases along futher into the future. There was a five year wait between Sam RaimiIvan Raimi and Alvin Sargent‘s Spider-Man 3 and Steve VanderbiltAlvin Sargent and Steve Kloves‘ The Amazing Spider-Man. Following Alex KurtzmanRoberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner‘s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s now a five year wait again. As it happens, we’ve only discovered this with two of those remaining, so that’s something. Plus, Marvel Studios are very efficient at manufacturing an assembly line of releases, and two years seems like a good length of time before releasing it, because that’s the average between announcement and release.

What’s pleasing is that Spider-Man‘s being produced by Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Sony’s Amy Pascal. They tend to be the equivalents of each other in their respective companies, and actually having a face to the discussions is comforting. I already know them, and respect them, and the fact that this blog post is even being written is testament to their ability to work together.

That being said, Sony still own the character’s cinema rights, and will be financing and majorly controlling future cinema releases for Spider-Man, which is slightly worrying. Sony aren’t as big a company as Disney, and from the way the agreement’s worded, it sounds as if Disney legally can’t fund any Spider-Mans because of Sony’s ownership. If Disney fund it, that gives them a right to grossing shares, and that changes their agreement. The last thing that needs to happen at this stage is for Marvel to violate that agreement, even in a small way, because that would give Sony the power to revoke their agreement. And the fact that Sony still own the character is quite disappointing, but then that’s how it would inevitably turn-out. Spider-Man’s the highest-grossing fictional character, and the MCU’s the highest-grossing cinematic series. It makes sense to unite them. But it’s for that same reason that Sony wouldn’t want to just give up the character, so them coming out of negotiations still owning him makes sense, even if I wish they’d just leave it alone and let Marvel use him how they want without having to stick to any guidelines. It’s this same agreement that says Marvel can’t fund it. And even worse, there’s Sony’s ability to overrule Marvel on any decisions made regarding the character. How Marvel expect to ingratiate the character into their own continuity while also letting Sony have the final say on that character’s releases’ creative decisions is worrying. Can this really work? I don’t know. But I’m just hoping it does. Generally, I think, since Sony need this investment, but Marvel are better at handling their properties, Sony’s only interest will be in making money. So that should mean that the only decisions they’ll be overriding are ones they think will compromise a Spider-Man‘s grossing. But given Marvel’s also a part of it, I can’t see them making the kind of decision that would do that. Hopefully, this will be a case of Sony letting Marvel do their own thing, but overruling them whenever they consider it necessary. And that kind of relationship works for me. If Sony are wise, they’ll use their major creative control to let Marvel do what they know they should.

Interestingly, the agreement specifies that Sony will only have that control over the new Spider-Man series. What that sounds like to me is that whenever Spider-Man appears in a non-Spider-Man, Marvel can use him how they like. So when Spider-Man appears in his debut, which will be part of another series, Marvel have full control. The solo release will then be controlled by Sony, but if Spider-Man then goes on to feature in Avengers: Infinity War — Part I, Sony won’t be involved in that. Which also works for me. A character in the MCU is two things – their own character, and crossover potential. Marvel are likely to care about the crossover potential more than that character’s own solo outings, which makes their compromise more satisfying than it could have been, and also more realistic.

The release also states other MCU characters will appear in the Spider-Man series. How this works between Sony and Marvel is anyone’s guess, but it could be the reverse of what we already have here. Meaning that if Sony wanted to include Antony Stark in Spider-Man 2 (which would be a good move, he’s the MCU’s highest-grossing individual character), he’d only appear on Marvel’s terms. I don’t really see that being a problem, since this agreement has already happened, and I believe in the combined power of Feige and Pascal. They’re like the Infinity Gems and the Infinity Gauntlet – put them together, and you unlock literally endless possibilities.

BAFTA Film Awards – 2015 Original Screenplay nominations

The BAFTA Film Awards airs tonight at 21:00 on BBC One HD, and will announce, among other things, the winners of the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay awards.

Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place, for the most part, entirely within the titular building, where a murder occurs, prompting concierge Gustave H. to prove his innocence, which takes him through the various parts of the hotel. Inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig and his real-world travels, Anderson planned the story with Hugo Guinness, which is divided into six acts: PrologueM. GustaveMadame C.V.D.u.T.Check-point 19 Criminal Internment CampThe Society of the Crossed KeysThe Second Copy of the Second Will and Epilogue.

The character H. was inspired by someone Anderson and Guinness both knew. When creating him, the original screenplay draft was a short, and not set in the past or a hotel. Anderson was inspired to revise it when discovering Zweig’s writings. Beware of Pity influenced the opening scenes, which Zweig used in his other writings, in-which a character living on the edge of society meets an equally interesting character, which is how The Grand Budapest Hotel begins. Zweig’s further influences in the screenplay involve the decline of an empire, developing division and declining independance.

Anderson’s previous nominations include The Royal Tenenbaums with Owen Wilson.

Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash

Chazelle’s Whiplash was nominated by The Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, whereas The BAFTA Film Awards have nominated it for Best Original Screenplay. To encourage interest and funding, Chazelle produced a short film from an extract of the screenplay, which The Oscars determine to make the finished product an adaptation. The BAFTA Film Awards determined it to only be an adaptation of itself, and therefore be considered an original screenplay.

Artistic inspiration behind Whiplash can be found in Chazelle’s previous work, Grand Piano, in-which a pianist will be killed by a sniper if he plays a wrong note. This situation is threaded through Whiplash, with playing out-of-time causing music teacher Terrance Fletcher to become violent and aggressive. Writing Whiplash began as reaction to writing another screenplay, which wasn’t working. Chazelle instead began focusing on his other idea of being a jazz drummer, based on his own experiences with a real teacher. It was for this reason that he initially didn’t want to share the screenplay, which felt “too personal”, and for a long time it was in a drawer. It eventually gained interest from producers, but not enough for any to fund it. The Black List ranked it among the top unproduced screenplays of the year, leading to it being greenlit.

This is Chazelle’s first nomination.

Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler

Gilroy’s aim with Nightcrawler was to write a screenplay with a “moral darkness” that would highlight Los Angeles’ best aspects. In that way, it counterbalanced the sociopathic tendancies of Louis Bloom with news media’s own sociopathic nature. It works as a form of alternative psychology, by presenting sociopathy as a scale, and presenting the numerous ways it can manifest in all people. The vulnerability of the characters is another key element to it, which also balanced the sociopathic themes, which both bring-out each other.

Nightcrawler was inspired by Arthur Fellig. the first crime photographer to follow events with a police scanner in his car, who inspired others to do the same. Part of Bloom’s character was inspired by Weegee’s biopic, Howard Franklin‘s The Public Eye. Gilroy based Bloom on a coyote, nocturnal animals often seen around Los Angeles late at night that are never. From there, he wrote Bloom as never being fed spiritually, with his hunger extending itself with every feeding. Bloom’s addicted to the scenes he photographs. This hunger’s the catalyst of his success story, which Gilroy says made him not want to label Bloom with a label that reduces his character. He has sociopathic tendencies, but from a desire to be a self-employed business owner, which is also a very Human feeling.

This is Gilroy’s first nomination.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo‘s Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The majority of praise for Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has focused on its metatextuality within 2010 cinema. During the peak of the superhero genre trend, it presented the audience with an out-of-work Michael Keaton, who’s career was made with Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren‘s Batman and and Daniel Waters‘ Batman Returns. Here, Keaton’s Riggan Thomas attempts to stage a comeback through directing a production of When we Talk About When we Talk About Love. Along the way, he encounters Edward Norton of Zak Penn‘s The Incredible Hulk. In this version, Norton is an actor in a similar situation, not only being a further reflection of Keaton’s declining career as a former superhero, but as Norton’s own status as having been replaced as the character in Joss Whedon‘s Marvel’s the Avengers by Mark Ruffalo (also nominated for Best Supporting [Male] Actor as Dave Schultz in E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman‘s Foxcatcher). Also appearing as Sam Thomas is Emma Stone, who’s most famous role – arguably – is Gwen Stacy in James VanderbiltAlvin Sargent and Steve Kloves‘ The Amazing Spider-Man, before being killed-off by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s Stone who’s nominated for Best Supporting [Female Actor], due in part to a scene in-which she talks of how nobody really matters. It’s this theme of being dispensable that makes it a story of people who are existing on the edges of their own existence. It may be a meta-parody of the superhero genre, but more than that is it a Human interest.

This is their first nomination.

Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood

Though showing the life of a family over twelve years, Boyhood was scripted and followed a pre-constructed narrative that was altered with every year’s filming in collaboration with the cast. Linklater called it a document of time, though it resembles a documentary to show the indistinction between fiction and non-fiction. The screenplay’s a compilation of smaller screenplays written every year that follow-on, like an inconsistently-lengthed serial. But it still feels like one story, with each year’s segment remaining part of the same thing, rather than seguing into tangents. This was largely a result of the collaboration with the actors, who also began to know where the characters were themselves going. Linklater wanted each year not to noticeably transition, but to only exist through perception, with the effect of the film being emotion created by realising the passage of time. It relied on the audience’s nostalgia, and the emotion that comes that hindsight.

This is Linklater’s first nomination.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — review

Adapted by Alex KurtzmanRoberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner from The Night Gwen Stacy Died by Gerry Conway.

 

Not gonna lie, I think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is underrated. No, it isn’t on the level of The Amazing Spider-Man, or Spider-Man 2, but then no Spider-Man is on the level of Spider-Man 2, and a lot of fans seem to be upset about the reboot and are being, in my subjective opinion, too harsh.

For a start, we have Andrew Garfield, who’s a terrific actor and one that deserved a Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Social Network. In a story about Spider-Man, it’s important that he’s likeable, and the initial scene featuring him is the best short form presentation of a Spider-Man, because it’s the most fun and thrilling sequence of them. Marc Webb seems to be the first director to realise the potential of using perspective shots while swinging between buildings, and the way he enters after the prologue is a masterstroke – to have the logo appear on screen, and then become a part of a shot in-which Spider-Man descends from the sky, following him through the action. It’s perfect.

The story does try to be too many things, that can be said, and it wouldn’t be wrong too. At times, there are very uninteresting divulgences to Harry Osborn, Max Dillon and other characters, and those scenes reak of Garfield’s absence. Quite frankly, we don’t see enough of him, because this is his story. A lot of the problems I’ve read of it could be mostly eliminated if the story were experienced through his perspective. It would be more compact, more personal and have a better through-line; the constant repetition of “hope” became annoying after only a few times – a repeated word doesn’t make it a theme.

The tangents from Peter Parker’s storyline involves Osborn discovering his hereditary disease, and Dillon’s transformation into Electro. These scenes are relevant, but badly executed logically and believably. The Amazing Spider-Man established a universe of science, whereas Dillon’s transformation comes-about because of what’s almost fantasy. It feels out of touch in a story otherwise dominated by a world that at least looks realistic. In fact, it’s difficult to tell why Dillon’s there. All he does is transform into Electro, cause trouble for no real reason (Parker forgot his name once) and then be destroyed in the climax in a way that looks as if he’s just teleporting away again. And then there’s Alexei Systevitch, who’s seen as Rhino in the final scene, bookending his appearance at the beginning. Again, a character with no real reason to be here. The only one who has any sort of interesting qualities is Osborn, and even then he becomes Green Goblin in a sequence that looks brought-forward from a sequel, and who’s only there to fulfil one purpose: kill Gwen Stacy. And only Green Goblin can do that, because – one of the phrases I hate the most – “that’s how it is in the comics”.

As I often mention in Spider-Man reviews, the best theme each installment has is dualism. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks to be continuing this theme, but it fails to put the right pieces together. Story-telling often works by removing irrelevant parts and creating something that could only exist in such an order. Instead, there’s baggage that should have been done-away with, but that’s because there is a good story here. It’s just not given the spotlight it deserves.

The good parts of the story are Parker’s relationship with Gwen, the revelations about his Father, and his life with May Parker. Osborn’s the villain with the most impact, despite his reduced screentime. Had Dillon, Systevitch and other attempts to launch sequels and spinoffs been removed, we could have had a moving love story between four starcrossed people, brought together in the most unlikely of circumstances, that would have also given time to develop Osborn’s transformation into Green Goblin, rather than it just happening. Everything here could have worked, had it been edited differently, which is surprising because the launch was preceded by stories of other parts being cut anyway, such as Shailene Woodley’s presence as Mary Jane Watson. Honestly, this would definitely have been a bad idea. It would have just complicated matters, and taken Parker away from Stacy. Really, Watson should be introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 3 as a friend of Parker’s and see if any relationship comes of it, which is unlikely as Marvel Studios are probably about to get the rights back, and – if reports are correct – would reduce the romantic side of the character.

Really, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 interests me so much because of what wasn’t done with it, and is an important lesson in filmmaking. Yes, there is baggage. A tonne of it. And yes, the important parts that felt as if they actually should have been there are overshadowed by the parts included just for the franchise. But the things to like about it outweigh the things to dislike about it, even if it’s only by a bit.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: excessive plotlines, no less likeable. 6/10

Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner