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Nut In The Shell:
In The Minority By Keith Giles
Ok, so after a round-table interview on Japanese Manga and an interview with Doug TenNapel, it's back to the "What-is-on-Keith's-mind-this-week" formula for this week's installment of Nut In The Shell.
Note: if you haven't seen Minority Report, then you probably don't want to read the following. Extensive spoilers are forthcoming.
With that out of the way, scroll down and enjoy.
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First of all, let me ask, "Am I the only guy who doesn't find anything sexy about Santa?"
I mean, I keep getting unsolicited email in my Hotmail box offering me various degrees of "Sexy Santa" tidbits, products and uh..."services."
Is there really anyone out there who finds anything sexy at all about a big, fat guy in a red and white snow-suit?
Now, elves....that's another story.
Anyway, I'm currently feeling the need to say something that really needs to be said online, in full-view of everone.
Minority Report sucked and Steven Spielberg has totally lost it.
After directing visionary films of universal appeal such as Close Encounters, E.T., Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Jurassic Park, his last few films have displayed an alarming hint that his best days are far, far behind him.
A.I. couldn't have been a worse film, unless it had been longer, and Minority Report took a short story by sci-fi genius Philip K. Dick and totally ignored all the best elements of the concept.
Let me encourage everyone reading this to go to their local library and read the actual short story by PKD. Go ahead, it's not that long. I can wait............
Ok, let's assume you're back now and you've read the story.
Wasn't that a great story? Wouldn't you have loved to see that movie in place of the complete waste of talent that Spielberg and Cruise threw together?
See, I so wanted to love this film.
I am a huge fan of Philip K. Dick (who is a genius, just in case you didn't realize it yet).
I can remember reading that it was going to be made by Spielberg months in advance of the release date and being excited. I was optimistic that Cruise had approached Spielberg about the film after reading the short story (which is brilliant, by the way).
I marked my calendar months in advance.
I made sure to go see it on opening night.
But this movie sucked!
Don't get me wrong, the movie does a lot of things very well. I could list off seven or eight key scenes in the film where Spielberg and Co. really make things click. Great emotional scenes, great action scenes, nice tension. Especially the scene where Anderton confronts the guy (he thinks) killed his son and he reads the guy his rights rather than blowing him away. Very powerful stuff.
But, for every cool thing he did, I found two or three other things that were either goofy or strange or just logically inconsistent.
Am I being too hard on this film?
No. I am not.
It was being compared by movie reviewers across the Nation to the likes of Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not only that, but something like 98% of the movie reviewers in the United States have given it glowing reviews.
How can I not like it?
Because, to put it mildly, the film blows chunks.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY GRIPES:
1) To begin with, if you were going to set up Tom Cruise the way they did it, how would you begin? How would you create the vision that the precogs saw? What was it that started everything off? (Simply hiring a guy to pretend he killed Cruise's son? I don't think so..) It doesn't make sense...at all.
If I hire a guy to pretend something, does that set in motion an image of murder in and of itself?
No! It doesn't work.
2) Not to mention the faux-ending, with Cruise being put into deep freeze, Max von Sydow going to the press conference, and Cruise's ex-wife left in the office thinking "My God, I'm going to die." That would have been the coolest ending ever. But, even as I thought that to myself, my inner voice said, "No, but this is a Spielberg film and he can't end it that way."
And he didn't...
While I'm on a rant, let's look deeper into the flaws of this piece of crap film:
- So, supercop becomes a criminal and nobody bothers to delete his retinal scan access from Freaking Police Headquarters?
- The Eye-Doctor announces his intent and very real motive for revenge...and then leaves Cruise a bottle of milk and a freakin' sandwich? Why, oh why, was this scene even filmed this way?
- Ok, so you're the ex-wife of a jail-bird, ex-cop, murderer who is in lockdown and they give you a box of his personal effects..including his freaking eyes and his handgun!!!??
- The goofy comedy attempts. The Yoga scene? Come on. The Eye-ball chase? Puh-lease.
- The ending. I so wanted to have the movie end with Anderton going into the deep freeze, the wife having the shock of the final revelation and then rolling credits.
I even knew at that moment that this was a Spielberg film and that the wife would attempt that ridiculous last-minute rescue on the spot and engineer this creative revenge that tied all the loose ends up in six short minutes.
Isn't there a way to get a digital editing machine and re-edit this entire movie when it comes out on DVD so that these things can be fixed?!
OH! And even Kevin Smith had this interesting note about the ending: "One of the major problems with the film was when it occurred to me that something was missing at the end of Minority Report; something that, when I had read the script, made me go 'ahhh!' It wasn't much - only 11 words and one number - but it was all the difference at the end of the film. Those who saw the film in the theater, saw the traditionally Spielbergian ending where we hear the Tom Cruise narration explaining how the Pre-Crime division was shut down and the Pre-Cogs were sent to a secluded cabin to live free of their previous government imprisonment. That's where it ends in the movie. Camera pulls back from Agatha (played by Samantha Morton), looking like a woman again with her hair grown back, to reveal their cabin in a picturesque location complete with smoke coming from the chimney. The following line of dialogue (which would've been the last) was cut from the film: "The following year, there were 161 murders in the District of Columbia."
See? That might have saved this film from complete stupidity...but no. It was not to be.
I want those 3 hours of my life back!!!
Now, in comparison to A Beautiful Mind, (which is almost a Philip K. Dickian film, if you squint a little), on the DVD, Ron Howard shows us nearly 45 minutes worth of great scenes he cut from the film.
Even though they involved cool special effects and explained some cool details...he cut them in the interest of length and tension.
And this is why I believe that Spielberg has lost it. Because Spielberg comes to those same cross-roads in his films and says, "Hmm...more special effects, makes the movie longer...let's do it!"
I loved the tension created by Director Ron Howard as he leads us along, not knowing if Nash really was insane or if the Psychiatrist was actually a Soviet spy. I actually wish they'd played into it a bit more, but the way they handled it was classic.
The Dickian sense of "What is reality?" and "How can I be sure?" were better played than any other film about any of PKD's works.
And just to show you that Kevin Smith and I are not the only ones who think Minority Report sucked, my good friend Lito Bujanda-Moore also had some great insights into this waste of film.
Here's what he thought about it.
1) Pre-cogs "see" the future because their mothers' were on crack. I don't need to say another word on this, do I?
2) Pre-cogs see "echoes" of the murder, even after it hasn't happened!!! What the hell is that?! If I swallow the freakin' huge pill that they see "a" future murder, because it causes such a "fundamental tear in the fabric of nature and the universe" (whatever), then don't yank me with the notion that when time catches up to what they've seen, they see it over and over again!!!
3) The first murder was averted by the pre-crime cops...but she still ends dead!!!! Does anybody ask what the heck went wrong? This is when the program was just starting, wouldn't there be some monumental auditing process in place?
4) Again...choke me with that fat pill. ok...would our government turn three "pre-cogs" into a local police-managed agency? Or would they spirit them away to see how to duplicate the process in the interest of national security? Would other countries allow us to have such an advantage? Or would they launch repeated attempts to neutralize the pre-cogs?
5) This one's is a total Spielberg gripe. What's with all the cheesy comicbook caricatures? The "Poison Ivy" doctor who knows everything the audience knows, the mad doctor and his "assistant" Keith already covered, the over-used mentor-gone-bad character, the blind drug dealer, the "crypt-keeper" containment guard, and even the projects tenants -- all ridiculously camped-up caricatures.
1) What's this love affair with technical doo-dads? Do we need to see repeated camera close-ups of 3D projectors, a barrage of "Hi Mr. Anderton" ads, and hand-wavin' computer interfaces? It was beginning to feel like the movie was an excuse for Spielberg to "pre-cog" the future. For all the awesome stuff he's helped bring to the screen, he's not, nor ever been the source of, our imagination.
Dear Mr. Spielberg-- stop trying to force-feed us your vision of what gadgets should look like in the future and take a note from Andrew Niccol and Gattaca (A completely believable future that has near-zero dependencies on gadgets), that's what makes it a "timeless" vision of the future. As soon as you make it about the gadgets, you date your vision, making it less relevant the closer you get to that future.
2) In line with unnecessary story elements, just to "oooo" & "ahhh" the audience, I'm very disappointed Spielberg resorted to Farrelly Brothers-grossness with that milk and sandwich scene and that most ridiculous scene of all -- the bouncing, escaping eyeballs. Yech. The whole reason for that was so the audience would be too creeped-out to ask the question Keith already asked..."They didn't lock down the only door between the outside and the "temple"?!?!?!
3) Worse still...a woman, out of uniform with a gun and a baggy of eyeballs, can access the containment facility with the eyeball of an incarcerated convict?!?!?! Which reminds me...how did she know where to go?
4) Just how did they plan to go "National" with this project? How were they filtering the pre-cogs to stay local? If they didn't know the location and had such troubles finding the first "red ball" scene...then how the heck were they planning on localizing from a national view?
5) Wooden balls in a Rube Goldberg contraption are for authentication purposes? Give - me - a - break!
6) By the way...did I understand this correctly? If you plan and hire for a killing, then the hired gun gets nabbed, but the one who ordered the killing is never "seen" by the pre-cogs?
Really Minor gripe:
1) In regard to the above tech-rant - With all this "future-view-by-committee" production value, why on earth did they make prominent use of current product lines, just cause they "look" futuristic? Case in point...Anderton's desk. Looked cool didn't it? I like it...at least I hope so...it's my desk!!!!! Check it out: http://www.hermanmiller.com/CDA/product/0,1469,c201-pss1-p150,00.html. I don't have the overhead screen...but the rest is there.
Things I would've liked to see:
1) The scene in the control room with the ball...their lame explanation as to how they "know" a murder will happen, even though it doesn't. I would've loved for the Witwer character to roll the ball back with Anderton's hand ready to catch it, but the ball runs out of juice before it reaches the edge. Then Witwer says, "Just because you believe it's going to happen, doesn't make it so."
2) Another Witwer scene - When he talks to Burgess about his findings, he first gives him the gun. Why? Other than weak way to frame Anderton for the murder, it had no meaning... unless he gives it to Burgess and explains his suspicions to see if he tries to use it against him. But "oh!" look at that...he unloaded it before giving it to him and says, "unless the person who killed the woman had intimate knowledge of how the crime was to take place." Then Burgess smiles...says his bit about "klickety klick" and pulls out his own gun with his other hand and shoots him. And while Witwer slides down the wall, dying...Burgess calmly swaps the slides from his gun with Anderton's.
3) I too, was fully expecting some comment at the end of the film about murder being on the rise again. Also, I expected to see or hear something about the ex-halos filing a monumental class-action law suit for violation of their civil rights!
4) Another ending thing -- I was half expecting to see the camera continue to pull back until you see the pre-cogs are under satellite observation, monitored by a team of scientists.
All great points, (hey, maybe I should talk to my Slush brothers about giving my buddy Lito a column here too?)
Anyway, the point is, if you haven't seen Minority Report yet, do yourself a favor and don't. Go read the short story it's based on..which is brilliant, and go rent a really great sci-fi film like maybe, Gattaca or A Beautiful Mind or...something else besides Minority Report.
You'll be glad you did.
And, until next time, I'm the NUT IN THE SHELL.
Keith Giles is one of the world's greatest enigmas. Ruggedly handsome, and yet surprisingly gentle and compassionate with small animals, Keith actually has a very weak grasp of reality and often talks to himself in the bathroom mirror. He's currently writing his own original sci-fi novels and putting together a few comic books of his own in his spare time.