Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
June 21, 2010
Kim Hollis: For those of you who have seen Toy Story 3, what did you think of it?
Matthew Huntley: I think it's a superior adventure comedy. It's a riot to sit through and, at some points, surprisingly dark and tense. As with most Pixar films, it's got a very tight narrative and assured confidence. Its individual scenes are also unpredictable, even though you can anticipate the overall story arc. The emotion is there, too, so don't be surprised if you find yourself getting choked up.
With that said, though, I did find it slightly derivative of Toy Story 2, especially in regards to its central conflict, the villain and the climactic action sequence. Perhaps the filmmakers wanted to recapture the brilliance of its predecessor so much that they unwittingly recycled some of its elements. This, to me, prevented Toy Story 3 from being a full-on masterpiece and it didn't have the "wow" factor of, say, Ratatouille, with its freshness and originality. But even though the movie felt like familiar territory, it has plenty of new and funny moments to be thoroughly entertaining.
Josh Spiegel: I loved the movie for the reasons that Matthew listed, especially the tight narrative. The movie covers a lot of ground in less than two hours, and not a moment felt wasted or rushed. The emotion is definitely there; though the last 20 minutes aren't all of a piece, with different settings and character-based stakes, they are a perfect combination of encouraging you to bring Kleenex. I didn't find the film derivative, if only because the toys being separated from one another has always happened in the series; I could've found the villain more derivative had his backstory not been so different. Granted, it's not a rat cooking in Paris, but I found plenty of originality throughout all the fun. As with the best movies, this one's for everyone to enjoy and love.
Jason Lee: It is the most beautiful and fitting send off for these characters that I could have ever imagined. It tackled what should be the most difficult moment in a toy's life and did so with honesty, sensitivity and humor. I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire theater during the last 20 minutes of the film.
David Mumpower: I found Toy Story 3 ultimately satisfying but it didn’t take my breath away the way that the best Pixar films have done in the past. In fact, I found a scene I’ll describe as The Inferno at the end of the film to be gratuitous and overly long build-up for one (admittedly superlative) joke. The scene at the end that either closes out the story or starts a new one, depending on perspective, is as good as Pixar gets, though. And by that, I mean it is as good as the cinema format allows. A discussion we’ve had a lot over the years, most recently with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is that the most difficult task is the meeting of expectations in situations like this where build-up and demand are at unprecedented heights. Toy Story 3 accomplishes this and while I don’t think it will be one of the five best films I see this year, it will be a movie I enjoy watching with my family for the rest of my life.
Kim Hollis: I was just overjoyed with the movie. I liked a lot of the call backs they did to the first two movies, both structurally and character-wise. By the time I got to the final ten minutes, I was definitely misty eyed. Aw, heck. I admit it. The tears were pretty much streaming down. I love these characters so much, and their final scenes are so touching that you can't help but smile and cry with joy. I can't wait to see it again.
Also, I do want to note that after leaving the film, I discussed with my husband how much the little girl in the movie, Bonnie, reminded me of Boo from Monsters, Inc. After seeing some further discussion on the topic from BOP's Daniel Pellegrino in a column we’ll publish on Wednesday, I'm actually wondering if it is meant to be her. I sort of want to ask director Lee Unkrich directly on Twitter and I sort of want to just wait and watch it again so I can decide for myself. Either way, I love that this is a possibility.
A movie with a hero whose face is half gone? Why didn't anyone go?!!!
Kim Hollis: Jonah Hex, the latest ill-conceived comic book adaptation, bombed with only $5.4 million. Why do you think this happened? Alternately, say something funny about Jonah Hex.
Reagen Sulewski: It's got to be rather humbling for Josh Brolin to realize he's no Nicolas Cage. Also, we're that much closer to Megan Fox's Playboy appearance.
Tom Houseman: I don't want to rain on everyone's mockery parade but: was everyone else watching a different trailer for Jonah Hex than I was? I've been anticipating it for weeks now on the basis of that awesome trailer. I saw it last night (along with a handful of old people and a couple of rednecks) and I loved it. Expect a glowing review sometime this week (Editor’s note: Tom’s review is now posted here. Why did it underperform to nearly Macgruberesque levels? I have no idea. Again, I thought it had a great trailer, and should have served as perfect Toy Story 3 counterprogramming. There seemed to be plenty of ads running and there were a few bangin' money shots (even beyond any shot of Megan Fox). I'm certainly not one of the box office experts on this site, so can somebody explain to me what went wrong?
Reagen Sulewski: To be less glib, Tom, there's a few things wrong with this project. 1) No one knows who or what a Jonah Hex is. 2) What they do see through the trailer looks ugly and incoherent. 3) Megan Fox has a talent for getting headlines but is pretty much box office kryptonite at this point.
To get more glib again - Warner Bros. will be in touch with you soon to attempt to locate this trailer that you speak of.
Brett Beach: This seems very similar to what happened with The Avengers adaptation in '98, also from Warner Bros. A property that no one seemed really sure what to do with gets optioned and made into a movie and as the release date gets closer it become obvious that the studio is more or less washing their hands of the whole affair. In this case, it seemed obvious things were in trouble not just with reports of reshoots and an 80 minute running time, but with the fact that the MPAA rating didn't come out until just two weeks ago. I thought at first it was because they had gotten a R and were resubmitting, but other reports indicate they just didn't bother submitting it until that late day. I am happy that Brolin will emerge from this with rep and good humor intact and what a cast for such a misfire: Malkovich, Shannon, Quinn, Fassbender, Arnett! I do have to give WB some props for not taking the easy way out and refusing to screen this for critics. They may have held off until the last minute, but an advance screening is an advance screening.
Matthew Huntley: I saw the panel for Jonah Hex at Comic-Con last summer and that was the first time I ever heard of the title character, so I agree with Reagan that the anemic opening can be attributed to a "too little awareness" factor. Also, I felt the trailer was loud and disorienting - it left no real impression on me (all I remember is about a half dozen explosions being shown to us in under three minutes). Other than Brolin, whom I like a lot in the movies, it seemed there was no real reason to see it. Still, I will give every movie a chance and maybe my review can do battle with Tom's. Or, who knows, maybe we'll see eye to eye.
Tom, you mentioned counter-programming, and Jonah Hex certainly was to Toy Story 3, but not necessarily to Karate Kid and A-Team, both of which have only been in theaters for two weeks. I think the studio would have seen better admissions had they released it at a time when there's virtually no other action movies playing. Remember when Ghost Rider opened to $52 million back in February 2007? Because Jonah Hex is not well-known, the studio should have researched a better release date so it would be the only option out there for action gurus.
It looks like the hex was not just on Jonah, but also on Warner Bros. (wah wah).
Josh Spiegel: I'm still baffled that there were people predicting this movie making upwards of $15 million over the three days before the weekend began. I like Josh Brolin and the majority of the supporting cast, but nothing about this movie looked appetizing. Even though they're probably mostly incomparable movies, I just kept comparing Jonah Hex to Wild Wild West. Bad comparison to make. This result is nothing if not completely expected.
Shalimar Sahota: I guess this is probably the closest I'll get to my wish of a western horror film till Cowboys & Aliens comes along.
Eric Hughes: On the plus side, Jonah Hex managed to make about nine times more money than Delgo did in its opening weekend. Everybody remember that mess?
Also, if Jennifer's Body didn't make it clear enough, it should now be understood why Michael Bay decided to drop Megan Fox from Transformers 3.
Daron Aldridge: I really thought it was strange to set the sequel to 1993's Hexed during the civil war and the makeup artists did a great job of making Ayre Gross look like a scarred Josh Brolin...(crickets)...sadly, its $2.67 million take in 1993 is comparable to Jonah's opening.
I think what went wrong, Tom, is that very few people were as similarly impressed by or sold on this movie by the trailer.
Kim Hollis: Sorry, Tom. I thought the trailer was a mess, and presumed that the movie would be the same. There is just no reason for anyone to care about Jonah Hex. He's an unknown character from the comic book world and frankly, I'm not even sure what's supposed to be interesting about him. It did about as well as it should have, really.
David Mumpower: I think everyone here knows that I believe the entire process of studio movie production is innately flawed and much more prone to failure than success. Innumerable short term contractors thrown together in large groups simply cannot excel on a consistent basis. Cohesion is everything in the creative process. Keeping this in mind, the real problem with Jonah Hex occurred on the ground floor. Who is Jonah Hex and why would he make for a good movie character?
I’m not saying that as someone completely unaware of him, either. I’ve seen the entire run of Justice League Unlimited, a good Cartoon Network program, and he was a key player in a series of episodes. Even knowing the basics of his history, I never understood the belief that this character would make for a quality 90-minute movie-going experience. Okay, this is a western with a scarfaced dude seeking revenge. With literally thousands of comic book characters available for adaptation, what’s so special about this one? Runaways, Y the Last Man and Fables are all titles that clear this basic hurdle. The quippy Deadpool and the drunken psycho Thor do as well and independent of the quality of Captain America, he is so important to many in the military that the success of the title is all but assured. Even Green Lantern, a concept I find absurd (“Fear my shiny accessory!”), at least qualifies under the science fiction umbrella as a Star Wars/comic book movie hybrid.
Jonah Hex simply does not clear that bar. There isn’t an engaging story to tell, much like The Punisher whose story arc is “punish people." Jonah Hex is that but in the old west with an uglier guy. People can stay home and play Red Dead Redemption and experience that feeling for themselves rather than pay to see it in theaters. And as an aside, I would imagine the set of Green Lantern is very nervous about this turn of events. That’s a film with a $150 million budget and a lot of heads will roll if the movie looks like a comic book caricature rather than a worthy sci-fi epic. And I cannot rule out that possibility even though Green Lantern is experiencing a pop culture resurgence at the moment thanks to the popularity of Blackest Night.