Summer Begins Today!
I’ve done two really fun radio interviews in the past few days. I love going on the radio and I love talking with great hosts like Maria Sanchez of Ventura-based KVTA-AM, and Jamey and Jerry on Movie Geeks United.com. Jamey and Jerry seriously have the best radio show for hardcore movie fans anywhere on the dial, and they are positive, smart, and funny to boot. True gentlemen!
The topic in both cases was “Summer Movies” and to be honest, I prepped my little heart out to make sure I had plenty to say on the air. But time being limited like it is, I was unable to get it all out. And I’m dying to.
Summer begins today with the release of Indiana Jones 4 and I’ll be lining up with everyone else to see it. I’m going to have a great time no matter how it turns out, maybe because I go with reduced expectations. It will never live up to the first installment, and this points up the problem of any sequel. If, as I suggest, your story is about “the most important event that ever occurred in the life of your hero” then how can we see that… again? We have witnessed many examples over the years of the success and failure of the “sequel” whether it’s 2, 3, 4 or in the case of Ocean’s Eleven, 12 and 13.
This summer’s sequels include X-Files 2, The Mummy 3, Hellboy 2, Batman 2 (B), and the re-boot of The Hulk. To me, as a screenwriter, I am looking for how the writers will overcome the challenge of re-setting and re-launching “the most important event that ever occurred in the life of the hero” in each case. And I can appreciate even bad examples of this because it can inform my skills.
There are also a series of potential franchise launches that I’m curious about. Get Smart doesn’t seem to have many really great trailer moments, I wonder why? And this points up the ongoing problem of how to engage two audiences — those who grew up with the TV show the movie is based on, and those who’ve never heard of it. The ones that worked to date — Brady Bunch, for instance — captured the silliness of the attempt in a way that the ones that didn’t work — Bewitched — did not. There is also a series of original franchises like Kung Fu Panda, and Wall E from Pixar. These promise to be solid family films and I am a big fan of that difficult challenge, too. Nothing tougher than entertaining all of the 4 Quadrants. Will they?
What am I looking forward to most? I am really curious about a movie called Wanted, and director Timur Bekmambetov’s potentially Matrix-like style breakthrough. I also want to see Hancock, for as I said last night on MovieGeeks, the “Superhero” tale is about the problem of being special, and it looks like Will Smith and company have taken that dilemma into new territory. I M. also M.looking M.forward to M.The Happening. What is the “surprise” ending this time in M. Night Shaymalan’s latest? After a series of sour endings for his movies (the degree of difficulty of the logic in The Village is a 9.9 with a half-twist), I have a feeling this film may set things back on track for M. We shall M.see.
Little indies? I learned last night that American Teen has a lot of good word of mouth. I’m looking forward to both The Promotion and The Go-Getter — and Hamlet 2. This is from director Andrew Fleming, who was responsible for the Nixon-era satire Dick, starring Kirsten Dunst. In this, Waiting for Guffman-like comedy, Elizabeth Shue will play herself. What Buffy/Adventures in Babysitting gossip will spill out?
So buckle in for the kickoff of what should be not only an entertaining summer of films, but an educational one for screenwriters. And p.s. please remember to yell out “Save the Cat!” whenever you see a hero who “does something nice” when we meet him. Movie theaters owners love this!
- Matthys Boshoff
Surely one technique to make a sequal a success is to create an even ‘badder’ bad guy than in the previous instalment – amp up the forces of antagonism.
2nd Find a new transformation for your hero. That’s what went wrong in the ‘Pirates’ sequals. Everyone arc-ed in the Curse of the Black Pearl and had nowhere to go in the sequals. So, the writer needs to find new flaws – six things that need fixing – in our hero.
E.g. Look at Terminator & Terminator 2. Arnie’s character had two different arcs, so did the mom and the bad guy in T2 was way badder than in T1.
I look forward to seeing ‘Wanted’ i saw the trailer for it on imdb about 2 months ago. Even though Angelina Jolie is not my favorite actress I’d like to see James McAvoy’s (a.k.a. Mr.Tumnus from ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’) range and see the real talent behind the fawn ears.
You can see why a lot of pre-sold franchises, like sequels and comic books, have been making their way to the screen. It’s like putting on a comfortable shoe you love to walk around in. I know lots of people tend to poo-poo sequels, and grumble that Hollywood should try and come out with more original stuff instead of rehashing old characters and settings. But if you think about music, ever band or pop star’s new album is essentially a kind of sequel. We keep buying their next CDs (or downloading them) because we love the experience and we want more of a good thing. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of another Bond film, or Indy film, or Star Wars spin-off. As long as they keep it fresh and interesting (and entertaining) I’ll be there with my bucket of popcorn, and my pair of comfortable shoes.
- Jeff Paterson
Really looking forward to Kung-Fu Panda and the Stiller/Black/Downey war comedy
Blake, I immediately zoned in on your paragraph about the challenges of writing sequels. Not to toot my own horn (okay, okay, I am tooting my own horn), but the screenplay I’m working on already has a sequel stirring around in my head. The sequel is bigger, badder and has new “things that need fixing.” The “the most important event that ever occurred in the life of the hero” will, amazingly enough, be amped. I think that it’s easier to make a really great sequel or trequel or quadrequel when a screenwriter plans it all out from the beginning (Star Wars and Lord of the Rings comes to mind). And, of course, a genius screenwriter. By golly-whiz, you gotta love those genius screenwriters!
Just saw the new Indiana Jones. I’m a huge Indy fan, but I’ve got to say….
To read my list of some of the very sloppy storytelling used in the movie see my post in the Franco Files section in the Forum here.
I recently saw Tropic Thunder — Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey jr; due to open early August — and it is going to be huge. Did i say huge? *HUGE* It is both a laff riot and deep in its own silly way, with Downey stealing the show as an identity-challenged actor dude playing an African America soldier dude who’s a dude who, etc. Oh, and Tom Cruise kills. Did i say kills? *KILLS* But, really, it’s Downey’s show, as it should be, this truly becoming, mirable dictu, the Summer of Downey. Good God, what a character arc that guy has had, huh?
I recently saw Tropic Thunder — Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey jr; due to open early August — and it is going to be huge.
I heard those guys have taken up a better more lucrative career path.
Check it out:
- Mike Rinaldi
Indy 4 was fun and enjoyable with some necessary slight departures for the franchise, but it definitely had its weak spots. It wasn’t really the letdown that I feared it, just goofy in places. Not that I’m trying to elevate Blake above Lucas or Spielberg, but I think a reading of Save the Cat would have helped Jeff Nathanson craft a stronger script. Even though a story that’s designed to pass the torch of the franchise on to the next generation is going to face inherent challenges, they could have made it sharper. It’s a fun lesson in the truths of STC (ie: how a villainess who isn’t badder than previous baddies and stakes that are not high enough make the story suffer). And the true star of the franchise, John Williams, hasn’t aged at all.
I just had to jump in here and tell you how much I love “Save the Cat.” I bought it in hopes of using it to improve the structure of my novel. I have this “crazy” idea that if I’m going to write a novel anyway, why not try to make sure it has the story elements a movie-maker looks for?
While reading “Save the Cat” I had so many “Eureka!” moments. More importantly, I re-discovered the joy of storytelling. The problem is–I then went out and spent all my money on “Save the Cat Goes to the Movies” and a big stack of movie DVDs! :-)
Thanks for a great couple of books, and thanks for this great website.
Indy 4 suffered from so many problems I would know where to begin.
bad dialogue, no tension, too many talking scenes for exposition, lousy villian, stupid british sidekick,
and I dont even want to talk about the ending.
would love to know what frank darabonts script was like
- Mike Rinaldi
This was still better than the Christopher Columbus script. I couldn’t even finish reading it. I too would like to see Darabont’s take.
Jeff Nathanson isn’t the reason Indy 4 has major scripr problems. The influence of a certain Mr. Lucas, George, can be squarely blamed for those!
- Jeff Paterson
I don’t know if we’re allowed to link film sites on here, but here’s a first-hand account of Frank D’s displeasure working on Indy 4.
- Jeff Paterson
X Files 2 trailer looks weak, although I’m a huge Duchoveny fan, especially since Californication
- Felix W Pottie
I finally got my copy of ‘Save The Cat Goes to the Movies’ and I’m loving it. Nice touch with the BS2 refresher and added terminology in the introduction. I’m still blown away at how you’ve analyzed all these films into your BS2, plus categorized them into the 10 genres.
Blake, you’ve done it once again! You’ve given us a most valuable tool in our screenwriting ventures, and you’ve given me hope. I feel like I have some pretty solid storylines and ‘Save The Cat’ has shown me things I never would have known. Now, I can’t wait to sit and start writing again.
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Did a midnight screening of Indy4 last night, Blake, and I gotta’ tell ya’, watching it with my SAVE THE CAT glasses on made the experience all the more enjoyable, both to the film’s credit and discredit, I guess. Certainly made debating the film over beer with my buds all the more fun too… (can’t tell ya’ how many times I ripped you off in conversation and looked like the genius at the table!) Summer is truly here!!! (even though it’s still in the mid-40’s here in Wisconsin….grrrrr….)