Indiana Jones 5 to be written by David Koepp

The Hollywood Reporter has made the claim that David Koepp will be writing the screenplay to the fifth film in the Indiana Jones series. Every film in the series was directed by Steven Spielberg, who’ll be returning for number five. Koepp has worked with Spielberg before, writing the screenplays to Jurassic WorldThe Lost World: Jurassic ParkWar of the Worlds, Mission: ImpossibleSpider-ManJack Ryan: Shadow RecruitInferno and the most recent Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s unknown if the narrative will be based on creator George Lucas’ own ideas. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was based on one of Lucas’ story treatments. When Disney purchased the rights to the Star Wars films, which Lucas created, Lucas was vocal in acknowledging that previous ideas were discussed, but ultimately not used. When the new Indiana Jones film is released, star Harrison Ford will be seventy-seven. Raiders of the Lost ArkIndiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade took place in the 1930s, with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull taking place in the 1950s. The Young Indiana Jones television series used Ford as bookends for episodes taking place as flashbacks, which could be one strategy employed for the new film. Or, it could be a traditional Jones adventure with an elderly Indiana.

Based on the fifth Jason Bourne film simply being called Jason Bourne, might I suggest the minimalist title Indiana Jones?

Kick-Ass — single drama review

Kick-Ass
By Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn.

I don’t think if I’ve ever felt more deceived watching a motion picture than I did by the end of Kick-Ass. Which is a shame, because the first half of Kick-Ass is a delightful film. Not a great film, no. But it’s still a good time. We begin with David Lezewski in an almost self-aware teen film that’s so clichéd it’s actually pretty impressive. But it does so to establish the world of Kick-Ass, even if there’s a bit too much narration.

By the half-way point, Kick-Ass feels like Not Another Teen Movie (Mike BenderAdam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson ,Phil Beauman and Buddy Johnson) with the presence of Kick-Ass being the twist. Whereas Spider-Man (David Koepp) shows us that Peter Parker’s a teenager while being a masked vigilante, Kick-Ass takes place from that teen-genre-half of the dualist world present in all superhero films, rather than zero-ing in on the superhero aspect itself. Which is a relief, for reasons we discover in the second half, as the Kick-Ass character, and that half of the story, is not a pleasant film at all.

Imagine if The Dark Knight (Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan) suddenly decided to become a quirky comedy just as things are getting interesting. Because that’s effectively what’s going on here.

When it started, Kick-Ass was an original genre-twist, because it was about the way society would react to a real superhero. That’s the unique selling point of Kick-Ass, and makes it different from other superhero films that focus so-much on the character to the point of diluting everything else. But no, this is about the other people that aren’t superheroes, including those who’d try to mimic it. But after about an hour, Kick-Ass turns into something so desperate to be a “real” superhero film, so eager to be like the others, that it becomes not just generic, but patronising to anyone who was enjoying the fun originality of what it was.

It’s almost as if director Vaughn only wanted to spend an hour establishing the world and its characters in such detail just so he didn’t have to worry about it later. Because once we get past that, the tone shifts so suddenly that it turns into an impotent impersonator of other comic book adaptations. The grittiness, the darkness and overall tone is completely inconsistent with what’s come before that I felt a victim of the ol’ bait-and-switch. And the worst thing about that is that it makes no sense, because it comes across as being ashamed of itself. The best part of the film, which is a different take on a common genre, is the part it doesn’t like about itself. But when Kick-Ass was doing that, it didn’t come across at all. It felt natural, and confident. And yet, when it pulls the rug under your feet, you can tell. You’re aware of it. And what follows is a gratuitous montage of the most disturbing images possible – Nicolas Cage burning in close-up, for instance. A man being crushed in a car compactor in an unbroken shot. The kind of thing that legendary action director Matthew Vaughn loves. But what I find it totally objectionable is that it wasn’t honest. It wasn’t prepared to be that straight away. Instead, it wanted to make you believe you were watching a completely film before throwing that it and “coming out” as the very thing it was intelligently satirising. Its comedy is cannibalistic, it’s style its self-consuming, and all of that results in on overblown finale that implodes the narrative.

I might not mind if it were a natural transition. But that sudden “kink!” is so tangible, so forced, so mishandled, that it’s – intentionally or otherwise – manipulative to the audience. And I reject it on that basis.

The road to… Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

This weekend was the opening of Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, but the franchise began 17th September 1996 as a television series on Columbia Broadcasting System.

Inspired by the film Topkapi, the series followed the cases of the Impossible Missions Force, a division of the Central Intelligence Agency, that would complete the tasks no one else had been able to. Episodes used minimal dialogue, music to create suspense, and involved a team of people – in this case the Impossible Missions Force – to complete a task to exact timing – all elements borrowed from Topkapi.

Creator Bruce Geller vetoed any character development to keep a focus on the missions themselves. He felt that having characters not change and work as plot devices would say more about the characters than if they were elements of the narrative. In each episode, they’re only seen together in what The Complete “Mission: Impossible” Dossier author Patrick J. White called the Apartment Scene: at the end of the first act, the Impossible Missions Force would meet in the Leader’s apartment for debriefing. The set was designed to have a grey tone, despite being videotaped in colour. Here, characters would mention what they’d do during the execution of their plan, but in vague terms so as to tease the audience. This would help establish the equipment that would be used, and the roles of guest characters. It’s here that Jim Phelps would sum-up the deadline for mission completion, as well as take any questions from characters so as it fill potential plot holes.

Another decision taken to minimise character development was to not explain absences. Characters were never killed or released from duty, yet any actors departing the series would be unexplained, with their character just not appearing in future episodes with no acknowledgement of it.

In season five, producer Bruce Lansbury decided to scale back the budget, and moved the setting to be internalised within the United States of America, fighting an enemy known as “The Syndicate”, who were described as outside the reaches of “conventional law enforcement”. Such methods as manipulating targets into removing each other were replaced with obtaining evidence against them and tricking confessions using recording devices. These changes may have altered the methods by which the Impossible Missions Force tackled The Syndicate, but each episode still maintained – generally – the formula from previous seasons.

The final episode, Edward J. Lasko‘s Imitation, brought the count to 171 – the most episodes for an English-language espionage series until 24: day 8, 7:00 p.m – 8:00 p.m (by Chip Johannessen and Patrick Harbinson).

In the 1980s, the series was revived for another shot. The 1988 Writers Guild of America Strike prompted American Broadcasting Company to find written, but unproduced, scripts. This lead to the production of a new Mission: Impossible series, shot in Australia, which was twenty per cent cheaper than Hollywood. The only character to carry-over was Phelps. Everyone else was new. Though the plots were updated, American Broadcasting Company were worried that some episodes would need remaking due to lack of new material. The strike was resolved quickly enough for only four episodes to be modernisations of original stories. It’s for this reason that the new series is considered a continuation of the previous. Although the series wasn’t a success, the Australian tax credit was low enough for it to still generate a high profit margin, and it lasted for two seasons, when it was cancelled for low ratings due to a new time slot.

While the formula was still used, the scale was pushed more than before. One character was killed-off – as Geller was unable to veto the decision by being dead – and posthumously disavowed, the first for the Mission: Impossible franchise. Some of the gadgets used were also much closer to science fiction than the hard science of the original run, with the Impossible Missions Force now being a global force rather than a small operation. Some original cast members made appearances, but as new characters.

As a continuation of the new series, the premise was created that Phelps’ former protege is killed in action, prompting him to be called out of retirement to form a new Impossible Missions Force and, in the first episode, track-down the killer.

One fan of the show was actor Tom Cruise, who’d recently set-up his own production company, Cruise/Wagner Productions. Paramount Pictures owned the rights to the series, and had been trying to make a feature for a long time but hadn’t found the right treatment. As a producer, Cruise persuaded them to give him $70, 000, 000 to make Mission: Impossible. After several drafts of a story and screenplay by David Koepp and Robert Towne, production began and Mission: Impossible became a feature, disconnected from television continuity. Infamously, original cast members reacted harshly to this version. Phelps actor Peter Graves disliked the treatment of Jon Voight’s version of the character – the only one carried-over series used for the feature – who’s revealed to be a traitor in the final twist. Original cast member Martin Landau also considered it not true to what Mission: Impossible is – getting in and out without leaving a trace, not a generic action-adventure. With the widest release of any feature yet given, the highest-grossing opening Wednesday, and sixteen days and two weekends at the top of the box office, Mission: Impossible grossed five times its final $80M budget with $457M, prompting Paramount Pictures to greenlit a sequel.

Only Towne returned for Mission: Impossible II, which had 1.5 times Mission: Impossible‘s budget of $125, 000, 000, this time only grossing four times its budget, but still grossing higher than previously at $546, 000, 000, making it the highest-grossing of the franchise so far with a profit margin of 4. Its opening weekend grossed $57, 845, 279, making it not only number one at the box office – where it would stay for three more weekends – but the highest grossing domestic opening weekend of 2000, and the highest grossing worldwide opening weekend of 2000, with $546.4 approx. This once again lead Paramount Pictures to greenlighting a threequel.

Mission: Impossible III went through six years of development through three directors. Cruise had been watching Alias, and approached J. J. Abrams about writing and directing. Abrams brought with him his team of Alias writers – Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. This had the highest budget yet – $150, 000, 000. But it had the lowest profit margin so far, only returning two times that budget with £357, 000, 000. It spent fourteen days and two weekends at number one in the box office, despite an opening weekend of $47.7M. But Mission: Impossible III was still profitable, and that lead to a third sequel.

Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec were hired as screenwriters after Abrams declined to return due to other commitments. Due to the underperformance of Mission: Impossible III, the budget was reduced to $145, 000, 000. But the total worldwide lifetime gross of $694M and foreign gross of $485M – the two highest for the spy genre – generated a profit margin of nearly five times that amount, a return to performance for the franchise. It remained at number one in the box office for fifteen days and four weekends, the first of which grossed $12M – the highest-grossing opening weekend for a limited release. With a domestic gross of $209M, it became the highest-grossing domestic spy feature. Its second domestic weekend grossed $29M, a drop of .5%, the lowest second-weekend drop for a spy feature.

These numbers were enough for Paramount Pictures to begin production on another Mission: Impossible feature, which is how Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation was greenlit. This shares Mission: Impossible III‘s high production budget of $150M, and is still playing worldwide. On 14th November 2013, Coming Soon first announced it as “Mission: Impossible 5“, with Drew Pearce screenwriting and Cruise and Abrams producing. The original release date was scheduled for 25th December. In a 15th November interview with Music Television to promote The World’s End, actor Simon Pegg confirmed he was to reprise the Benji Dunn role – his third appearance in the series, after Mission: Impossible III and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. On 9th May 2014, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Will Staples was rewriting Pearce‘s screenplay. He was replaced by director Christopher McQuarrie, with story credited to Pearce. In a 22nd May 2014 Yahoo! interview, Jeremy Renner also confirmed he’d been cast, reprising the William Brandt role, who first appeared in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. A week later, at the 29th May 2014 premiere of Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise told a Telegraph reporter that “Mission: Impossible 5” was to shoot in London. On 7th August, KTV also reported that Vienna was another location. After The Hollywood Reporter reported Alec Baldwin was in-talks with Paramount casting, on 9th July, Coming Soon reported Rebecca Ferguson had been cast as the female lead. On 16th August, McQuarrie tweeted that series regular Ving Rhames would return to the role of Luther Stickell. On 21st August, principal photography began, with initial set photographs released via Coming Soon, confirming that Baldwin had been cast. The following day, 22nd August, Express released more set photographs showing Cruise and Ferguson hanging from Vienna Opera House, confirming Vienna as a location. Principal photography continued through 26th August, with more scenes in Vienna, via more set photographs released by Daily Mail. On 28th August, Morocco World News reported the closing of Marrakesh Highway by National Company of Highways of Morocco. After one-and-a-half weeks of shooting, the crew departed Vienna on 31st August, which was revealed by Xinhuanet. More set photographs from Daily Mail showed them arriving in Rabat the same day. On 3rd September, Marrakesh Highway was used to shoot a chase sequence in the F80 BMW M3, which was broken by BMW Blog. On 4th September, Morocco World News again reported the closing of the stadium of Marrakech for more scenes. On 5th September, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Sean Harris was in negotiations for the antagonist role. On 26th September, Daily Mirror posted photographs of the same F80 BMW M3 being driven by Cruise in Kasbah of the Udayas. On 28th September, Daily Mail posted more set photographs of the crew arriving in London. On 2nd October, Variety reported that Simon McBurney was in negotiations to be Ferguson’s character’s boss. A week later on 6th October, actor Zhang Jingchu was spotted in London. Variety also reported this to be due to having been cast in a role important to a plot twist. The following day, 7th October, BMW Blog posted photographs of multiple damaged F80 BMW M3s being transported into London. On 11th October, the crew were spotted during an aerial scene using a helicopter in Monaco in more set photographs released by Daily Mail. Master Herald reported Ferguson had also been seen there. In yet more Daily Mail set photographs posted 3rd November, Cruise was seen at RAF Wittering atop a grounded aeroplane. Cruise was at times suspended from an Airbus A400M Atlas, rather than using a stunt double. On 8th November, Daily Echo reported that more scenes used Fawley Power Station. The 25th December release date was brought-forward on 26th January to 31st July. PR Newswire reporter on 13th February that Paramount Pictures were to remaster Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation for IMAX. According to Hollywood Reporter on 20th February, production was halted for McQuarrie and Cruise to work on the ending. Deadline reported on 5th March that Paramount Pictures has partnered with Lotte for South Korean distribution for release on Thursday 30th March. McQuarrie tweeted on 12th March that principal photography had wrapped. On 22nd May, Paramount Pictures debuted the first footage during a basketball tournament, which revealed the Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation title, advertising the full trailer debut the following day, 23rd May, and revealing that The Syndicate would be the target.

A second trailer was released 3rd June.

On 4th June, Entertain This posted an interview with Cruise where he revealed Fawley Power Station’s scene was underwater, where he held his breath for over a minute using training from Kirk Krack for a single long take. Hollywood Reporter reported on 22nd July that Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation was to be released in Dolby Cinema – combining Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos audio. The South Korean opening night on Thursday 30th July grossed $4M. The domestic opening night on 31st July grossed $20.3M. The full opening weekend is projected to gross $40-50M.

Spider-Man — review

Adapted by David Koepp from Spider-Man! by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

 

Spider-Man is the first Marvel adaptation to feature their “flicker” logo. Which is an important visual aspect, because this was Marvel’s first major cinematic venture.  This was the first time they had, as a company, attempted to successfully take one of their characters to the big screen and start a chain of other adaptations. And it has to be said that, in everything they’ve made since, particularly the Cinematic Universe, nothing has matched the simplicity, minimalism and effectiveness of Spider-Man.

What stands-out about it the most is the way it looks like the comic book that inspired it. Every colour is bright and cartoonish, and the various aspects of motion picture production come together to create something that looks as if we’re literally inside the world of the Spider-Man comic books. But there’s more than that.

As the first Spider-Man adaptation, it’s also his origin story, and that leads to a lot of subtext about identity and hero worshiping. The two protagonists are promoted as Peter Parker and Mary Watson, but are actually Parker and Norman Osborn. The hero and the villain. Comic books are dualistic, and chronicle the battles between good and evil. And Harry Osborn is his greatest enemy, so it makes sense for him to begin this trilogy.

Parker transforms into Spider-Man as a result of biology and nature. His abilities are part of him, and are things he can do. So when he turns them to crime-fighting, he chooses to cover his whole face to be unseen. He becomes a canvas on-which people can place their image of a hero, and New York soon debates against itself his motives, with many coming-out and defending him. Osborn’s transformed into Green Goblin as a result of science and technology. He doesn’t have his powers, and instead flies by means of a glider and blows things up with pumpkin bombs, rather than save and defend with webs. Naturally, this still means we get the cliched “we’re the same” speech between hero and villain, ala Batman/Joker. Spider-Man may have been controversial, but Green Goblin was an obvious villain, and the New Yorkers recognise this, which is ultimately what turns them toward Spider-Man. Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson manipulates their perception through the Daily Bugle, which Parker works for. The Bugle might question Spider-Man’s alignment, but the media’s completely turned-against Osborn by the end. This is a tale of people choosing their Gods, and which side to take in a battle.

In Osborn’s quarters are a variety of tribal masks, and the Green Goblin becomes one of them when Osborn hears his dark side speaking to him through it. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Piano Man parody about Spider-Man described him as scarier when not wearing it, and this is true – as the plot progresses, he begins to look like it. Instead, Parker’s using his mask to score with Watson upside down in the rain (leading to a gloriously uplifting shot of her laughing up at the stormy sky). Whereas Osborn is totally evil on the outside, Parker is good on the inside, and that’s the heart of the story: what’s on the inside.

Spider-Man‘s bookended by Parker narrating to the audience the story of how he came to be who he is. Uncle Ben tells him that his age is part of the age group where a man becomes the man he’s going to be for the rest of his life. That doesn’t really make much sense, but it fits with the idea behind the story, because he tells him about how great power comes with great responsibility, a theme which plays right through, and is the most important part in all of this. Osborn uses his power to eliminate his rivals, whereas Parker uses his powers to protect people. And this even means protecting Watson by rejecting her despite having been desiring her since he first saw her. If they were together, she could become a target because of his other life as Spider-Man. And he chooses to sacrifice a life with her just to keep her safe. And in that moment, he embraced the challenges that came with being a superhero. And for someone like that – someone who was an outcast – to make that kind of decision is the kind of inspiration that superheroes are about, and none other than Spider-Man. Because he’s just like us. His life has a through line. There’s an underlying idea behind everything, while also having an over-laying optimism in colour and performance. He doesn’t need to repeat a word often enough for it become a theme (looking at you, Man of Steel) and he shows us what life is really about: the power we have, and what we do with it.

 

Spider-Man: inspiring subtext over optimistic mise-en-scene. 7/10

Oh, and J.K. Simmons is freaking awesome.

Screenplay by David Koepp